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Everything posted by SLL

  1. I read the Grauniad article on this and had to double take that I wasn't reading the Daily Mash... Priceless!
  2. If you're in Swavesey and work on the science park, why not use the guided bus? I'm not a huge fan of the fact it became a black hole for taxpayers money, nor the fact that it is pretty useless for getting all the way into Cambridge centre (it joins the Milton Road just after the science park so you sit in solid traffic for the last 2 miles). But for getting from the NW villages to the science park it surely has to be a no brainer... The A14 is a horrendous death trap of a road, and you really only want to be using it if you have no realistic alternative.
  3. Think of the people who buy that house. They'll open the front door, and then... INDIGO! Sorry, I'll get my coat...
  4. +1 Yes, but when the gatekeeper has a vested interest in defending their own ideas, they're generally not very receptive to some young upstart telling them they're wrong. I'd suspect it's a pretty quick way to ensure your contract doesn't get renewed.
  5. Thank you for a sensible reply that at least wants to engage on the issue. I guess the problem with that is called "barriers to entry" - otherwise we'd all be out there running our own banking startups, wouldn't we? Admittedly "barriers to entry" is not something that could happen in a "perfect" capitalist system, however in our perfect capitalist system (in which the state does not regulate or interfere in markets) it would be laughably easy for the established market players to undercut any new startup (even running at a loss for a while) to squash the competition before it started. But what the heck do I know - apparently I'm just a left wing ideologist with a Che Guevara poster on my wall...
  6. Fixed it for you. Seriously, I think you're either being deliberately obtuse or you're the silly man talking crap.
  7. Apologies, I wasn't meaning to sling barbs at you personally, nor to talk past you (although I see how it could be interpreted that way). I had been contrasting yours and Wonderpup's definitions of "free market" and he was the one that replied. My reason for thinking that your non-violent free market is a pipe dream is because history suggests that you either have state violence or where you have an absence of state violence the power void gets rapidly filled by local warlords. History suggests that at least some humans will resort to violence (theft or whatever) to get what they want if (1) they want it badly enough and/or (2) they can get away with it. History also suggests that in the absence of a state backed threat of violence against wrongdoers, the violent tend to win over the non-violent. (Even when the stereotypical African dictator is overthrown, the person who replaces him is usually just the leader of the people who violently staged the coup) I'm not saying violence is a good thing, but I am saying that in a world which has nasty people in it, then the option to use violence is necessary even if 99% of the time simply having the option is sufficient deterrent. But I digress. You said: We must define where we want to go, before we set out to get there. My question is: if your free-market system would quite happily sell grain as cattle feed because it makes more money than selling it to starving children, why on earth would I want to go there?
  8. I entirely agree with the logic of your point. I think Traktion is claiming that people are free to choose violence, but that (in order for his kind of free market to exist) no-one does choose violence because of the immense power of ostracism and how it would be really-really mean of them to be violent to people. So in short his idea of a free market is just a fairy story that can never actually exist in the real world (at least not until he comes up with some viable non-violent mechanism for persuading greedy selfish human beings not to resort to violence). I think Traktion sort of accepts this. Yet what I really struggle to grasp is why he holds up this fantasy never-going-to-actually-work-in-the-real-world economic model (a model which will quite happily let African children starve because grain farmers can make more profit by selling their grain as cattle feed) as something we should aspire to?
  9. Okay, we've got two conflicting definitions of a free market: (1) Wonderpup's definition of a "free-to-do-whatever-you-want" market which includes violence as a possibility, and so would rapidly have to evolve a set of rules and policy enforcers (or end up as complete anarchy). (2) Traktion's definition of a "non-violent" market in which violence is never chosen as an option (and those that do chose violence are threatened with "we won't want to play with you anymore, and please don't come back and steal our stuff again tomorrow"), but it's okay to coerce a man dying of thirst into handing over his entire net worth for a glass of water. Rather than arguing any further over semantics, my question is: Why on earth whould I consider either of them as something to be held up as a model of how we should want things to be?
  10. Okay, so I think I've finally got your point... By your definintion, a free market society is one in which people are free to choose to use violence/coercion (because there is no threat of violent enforcement of the rules), but unanimously choose not to. Yet free market trades are motivated by people wanting to maximise their personal gain from any given market transaction - for example the trader who forces the man in the desert to sign away all his posessions for a glass of water, which we all fully acknowlegde is a "free market transaction", or the grain farmer who sells his grain for cattle feed because he makes more profit than selling it to starving children. (Note that both of these examples were accepted as perfectly valid and rational free market transactions earlier in this thread) So in short, free markets are populated by selfish, greedy human beings who look after number 1. (You can argue that even if the majority of people in this free market society are Mother Theresa, even if it is only 1% of the population that is selfish and greedy, there are still some selfish and greedy people in the population). And yet this definintion of a free market (see three paragraphs up) requires that none of these selfish, greedy human beings ever resorts to violence or coercion in order to further maximise their gain from a (admittedly no longer FREE) market transaction. So as I see it, the only logical conclusion can be that... Even within the right (absence of a) regulatory framework, free markets will never exist in the world until there is a complete change in human nature. The very idea of a free market according to your definition is as much a myth as the idea of pure communism. Both sound okay in theory, neither will ever work in practice.
  11. Because when it comes down to it, most humans are selfish, greedy sh!ts.
  12. I think the increased productivity correlates with technological advances and western economies pricing themselves out of actually making things more than it does with changes to the politico-economic system. The standard of living for the "man in the street" in Russia has if anything reduced since the end of communism, but the oligarchs are sitting pretty. I'm not sure that there is or ever has been such a thing as 'communism' except in the minds of Telegraph readers. But the organs of state (police, public sector, etc) were still all in place to ensure that the existing rules continued to be enforced. Freedom is generally a good thing. But you seem to be a little unclear in advocating that we should be seeking to maximise the total amount of freedom, but also that we should not increase one person's freedom if it reduces another person's freedom. Any freedom I have (e.g. to build my house here on this bit of land) has the potential to restrict the freedoms of someone else (e.g. spoils their nice view and/or their ability to walk across that bit of land). So should I be allowed to build my house or not?
  13. How many fridges/stereos/PC's/ipods does the average Chinaman own? They produce shedloads of stuff, but most of them don't get much benefit from their productivity. Not because it's stolen by the state, but because the labour market places such a low value on human labour when there are another billion people in the queue for your job. Of course in their infinite wisdom, the free marketeers would obviously point out that the chinese peasant farmer can always just set up his own rival to Apple any time he fancies... As I said previously, communism is NOT the solution, but nor is capitalism. If you want "free", you could try Liberia pre-2005. Pretty much no laws there then, so you have complete freedom to get shot by a 12 year old with a Kalashnikov... Freedom without boundaries is anarchy.
  14. I think my problem is that the "leave everyone alone..." etc argument is basically a free market. And as you'll no doubt have surmised, my objection to the free market being left alone to sort itself out is that market economics* is precisely what has delivered us to our current position where the gap between rich and poor continues to grow unchecked. (*admittedly with some state intervention - but only really to try and limit the worst excesses of what the market would deliver us...) You have only to look at the salaries of FTSE100 CEO's to realise that when market economics is left untamed, the winners reward themselves handsomely** at the expense of the majority non-CEO workers who have seen their standard of living fall enormously and we find ourselves in a kelptocracy. (** irrespective of any genuine "talent" - after all, I could have ruined RBS for far less than they paid Fred Goodwin to ruin it) I don't think communism is the answer. Everybody earning a mandated £1 isn't going to incentivise anyone to try harder to better themselves, but if it takes state coercion (or otherwise) to redistribute the worst excesses of wealth disparity and force people to trade with each other like *decent* human beings rather than forcing*** Chindian 8-year olds to work for 20p a day to make my trainers, then so be it. (*** no violence - they'll just starve to death if they don't)
  15. Sorry - from your example, I thought you were conflating wealth with money. So what you're saying is we can have a coerced market that delivers 1 unit of wealth (i.e. genuinely useful stuff) to all 100 people in th population, or a free market that delivers 100 units of wealth to one person and 10 units to the other 99. So you're basically back to asserting traktion's unproven point that free markets are more efficient than coerced markets, then?
  16. Erm, so I guess you're all for printy printy then?
  17. But you accept that people will tolerate some level of theft (taxation), so you're only arguing a matter of degree. You previously suggested that people wouldn't produce if they kept having stuff stolen from them. I just proved that they do. Note that I never suggested that everyone having £1 was optimal. I only suggested that it was better than one person having £101 and everyone else having none. But in principle, I would suggest that a reasonably broad distribtion of wealth is preferable to the narrow (e.g. top 10% own 90% of everything) distribution that capitalism has delivered us.
  18. Theft or die? Yeah, some option that is. I take it you've never worked with street kids? So property rights are okay, apart from land. I guess no-one builds factories or houses in Injin world then? I can do that - because I'm not in a position where that is my only realistic option. If I had to steal to feed my starving family, I would. But it isn't. No it isn't. No. *I* wasn't the one that called *you* a "sack of shit", and I didn't tell you to "go ****** yourself" (twice). The basis for your entire philosophy is both at odds with reality and logically flawed. If you can't face up to that, and have to resort to ad hom attacks, then that's your problem, not mine.
  19. (1) Well, I go to work even though the givernment takes a significant proportion of what I earn, so I guess the answer to that is yes. Is that really the best that you and Injin can manage to try and prove that free trade is more productive than coerced trade? The relevance of my final question (i.e. is it better for 100 people to have £1 each or for 1 person to have £101) is that the utilitarian argument for markets is that they maximise productivity (i.e. total number of £££'s). They give no consideration to equitable distribution (the winners tend to do very well, the losers get crapped on from a great height). I was therefore seeking to suggest that even if your (unproven) assertion about the efficiency of markets is true, your supposed ideal of a system that seeks only to maximise productivity (with no consideration of distribution) is a pretty crap thing to hold as an ideal.
  20. I presume you're being sarcastic here - it happens all the time and we just happen to be lucky enough to be in a position that it's not happening to us. (1) Not much point if he pays you poverty wages because he has a bunch of robots, and (2) Not possible if generations before, other people ancestors have decided that they "own" all the land so you can't have any. Indeed, it is quite evident that you don't seem to believe in the world the way it is. Your quaint concept of a "free market" is only even concievable in the real world because of a system of law and order (that is ultimately underpinned by the threat of violence). Any world populated by humans that are without exception nice enough not to take (steal) from somebody without paying when there is no threat of retribution would be nice enough so see that the maximisation of profit is a pointless end (and the very concept of selling grain to fatten cows when it could be sold to starving children who cannot afford to pay as much would be abhorrent). The very concept of a market in which individuals seek to maximise their personal profit, yet which is not underpinned by threat of retribution by those that break the rules, is absurd. If there is no threat of retribution, then there is greater individual profit in stealing than in trading (consider the tragedy of the commons). No need to take it so personally. I haven't seen you drop the actual argument and lose it like this before, so apologies if I've touched a raw nerve. To rephrase that post - you do a good line in philosophical argument, but your ideas seem to lack any acknowledgement of how people behave in the real world.
  21. (1) Prove it (2) Is productivity more important than distribution? If we imagine a world of 100 people, I would argue that it is better for everybody to have £1 than it is for one person to have £101 and everyone else to have nothing.
  22. Seriously Injin, do you actually believe all the sh!t that you write? Your posts would sound nice in a philosophy class, but you display so little appreciation for the way people behave in the real world I sometimes wonder whether this is because they don't let you out very often.
  23. Actually if my family was starving to death and the only way to feed them was to use violence to get some of the cow's grain, then I think that's a choice I could live with making. If you steal his farm, then you have the means to grow your own food. (And, yes, I know I am being facetious)
  24. No, I'm saying that I think that all our choices come with consequences. Sometimes those consequences are that violence (or other similar nasty consequences) will happen to us. If there was truly no threat of violence as a response to any of the choices that I might choose to make, then what is to stop me from going to my nearest free market, and walking off with whatever I want without paying? Your non-violent free-marketeer would apparently have no response.
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