Posts Tagged 'ows'

Profit of Privilege

As I stated in a previous post I agree with Gary Chariter and other left-libertarians when they decry capitalism on the grounds that most people conceive of it in a way that is not actually associated with a freed-market. However, initially I was somewhat resistant to this position because I felt like we did have a society in which, while the government was intrusive in many ways, did maintain some semblance of a free market. I have come to realize that government intrusion is not the exception in the economy, it is the norm, and really there is no market which is not affected by some government action. Also most of the government action, while usually given a purpose that sounds good, is largely a hand out to big business in one way or another.

One way the government intrudes in a market is to enhance the economies of scale and remove diseconomies of scale. For instance, large companies can afford to hire lawyers to lobby congress for privileges, get around the complex patent and tax codes, and comply with licensing requirements (some increased economies of scale). Small companies still have advantages in that they may be more nimble in adjusting to changes, able to customize better for the individual consumer and not have large transportation costs (some diseconomies of scale the government tries to remove). These government actions work to increase the overall firm size beyond what would be the optimum in a purely free market. All that government action costs money, so we get larger businesses and higher costs to the consumer.

It is usually thought that the government is a necessary tool for aiding the poor, and largely I think libertarians are silent on this issue. It is hard to argue that a government who directly gives money to the poor is not in some way helping them. I would argue though that while it does appear on the face of it that they are doing good, they actually on net do more harm to the poor in various other ways. The government raises the cost of a lost of items in modern markets, not just via taxation, but licensing requirements, and monopoly copyright laws. Also the distribution of land to government-favored persons hurts the poor who would otherwise be able to live off the land so to speak. I also largely try to make people who support government programs “designed” to aid the poor see that there is another side to the issue in that the government must forcefully take the money from some who do not wish to give it (I for one would rather give it to a more efficient private charity of my choosing). Also as many Austrian economists have pointed out, inflation also hurts the poor the most because of at least two reasons, that the prices of the consumer goods go up not necessarily in proportion to their wage, and because the money is first given to people who are well-connected to government and the first people to get the money are able to use the new money to buy things at prices before they have time to adjust to the new money.

What follows is a video of Gary Chartier describing how he thinks we can address the problem of health care for the poor while avoiding a system of government take-over.

I find his arguments to be extremely compelling. Surely freed-market advocates have been making similar arguments for decades, but his emphasis on the ways in which the poor are systematically disadvantaged when it comes to health care is to my taste. Also check out what some of the Mutualists have to say about the profits of privilege, it is surely amazing how un-free a market we have at present.

The Anarchist Specturm

In the anarchist community there are several different “flavors” of anarchism discussed. Though it seems like some have seemingly irreconcilable differences, for instance the varying views on property rights by anarcho-communists and anarcho-capitalists. Generally it seems most of the differences are not so much differences in substance, but differences in approach. It was pointed out well by Karl Hess that there really is only one kind of anarchist and he is a voluntarist, one broadly opposed to the use of the coercive means.

There is something to be said here for the traditional right-left paradigm as it applies to anarchism. Broadly I would categorize those who use as their main justification for anarchism equality, self-sufficiency, peace, or respect for diversity on the left. I would then categorize those who favor anarchism as the most economically efficient system, or that most respectful of property rights and the non-aggression principle on the right. One of the best ways to see the distinction is to attempt to categorize the thinking of certain people.

Some might justly argue that we shouldn’t be trying to divide ourselves further. That talking about differences we have as anarchists, even if they are only in approach and not in result, does more harm than good. They might be right! However, there is a strong counterpoint, that being a strengthening of our arguments by debating with each other. Personally, I started out on the right side of the anarchist spectrum, but have come to have a great appreciation for the arguments and methodologies of leftward anarchists (Karl Hess, SEK III etc.), and I probably prefer that style now.

I have heard it said by Stefan Molyneux and others that anarcho-capitalism would allow for anarcho-communism, while the reverse would not work. I think that in a truly voluntary society people would enter into the kind of arrangements that are suitable for them. If a group finds more satisfaction or productivity in a commune they would of course be allowed to form one, if still others found it more useful to have and enforce universal property rights that would also be allowed. I think that great diversity of anarchy is something that we should celebrate rather than bicker over. Also broadly I think any conflict between these two different styles of voluntary association would be attempted to be resolved in as peaceful a manner as possible, adhering to some form of the non-aggression principle.

Here is my sampling of where I place certain anarchists in the ideological spectrum:




There are many individuals and groups who remain uncatagorized above, but I think I have given a descent sampling across the community. Of course there are some specific elements of the thinking of certain people which falls in one category while another part falls on the opposite side, so it is hard to really come up with an accurate picture. I would love to work toward getting together resource pages on this site for the great thinkers above, and many others.

An essay by Murray Rothbard interesting look at the political spectrum especially how it relates to libertarian and anarchist thought. Roderick Long has given some presentations attempting to look at Rothbard’s paradigm in a more modern context.

I do think that it will be the easiest to reach the non-academic left, which as evidenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement, is very concerned with government granted privilege to business. A convincing argument could be developed that in order for the OWS protesters to be consistent in their ideology they would have to oppose state action more broadly.



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