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wonderpup

Moneyweek- The Rise Of The Robots.

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The problem pure free markets face today is that the production has become so efficient that it employs relatively few workers. However it was those same workers who were buying the production.

Why this did not emerge for the last few centuries, all western societies faced a permanent labour shortage. This meant when viewed broadly labour could always negotiate a wage in proportion to their production. As capitalism increased the production, so too did the wages. It was a virtuous circle, and clearly the more capitalist countries were more prosperous. (think Switzerland and the Netherlands as examples).

The problem today is there is no longer that permanent labour shortage. We are transititioning to an era of a permanent labour surplus. This means firms are paying the market rate for labour which is falling, even as the production continues to rise. See companies like Walmart which have brought such efficiency gains to retailing, yet pay not increasing.

For 2 or 3 decades western nations made up this growing gap by extending more and more credit. Until 2008 that is when that hit mathematical limits.

Yap - in a free market, when the prices fall, the supplies get reduced and the prices rise again.

It is just not really acceptable to be this Darwinian with labour/people - so, unfortunately, we cannot have a total free market that (though I propose no more than basic food and shelter and a library)

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It is just not really acceptable to be this Darwinian with labour/people - so, unfortunately, we cannot have a total free market that (though I propose no more than basic food and shelter and a library)

The problem with the Darwinians is that they want to define people as commodities for the puposes of exploiting them- and as moral agents for the puposes of keeping hold of their gains.

So for example should a starving man agree to work for a crust of bread a day they would call that a 'free trade' because he 'agreed' to the price. The market- you see- has no moral dimension.

But should that same man threaten violent rebellion at the injustice of this arrangement they suddenly start babbling about how the use of violence is 'immoral' :lol:

So when the need arises to protect the rights of the winners of a game that they claim has no moral aspect- we are presented with a moral rule against violence as a strategy to win the game.

Or as Injin might put it- 'no one owes anyone else anything- I recognise no moral claim placed on me by another, nor do I place any moral claim on any other.

BUT.

You can't hit me- because it's against the rules."

:lol:

Edited by wonderpup

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BUT.

You can't hit me- because it's against the rules."

:lol:

Yes, I follow you and his very interesting argument. I think he said that if you hit him, then it is not a free trade. He did not say that is against the rule/or allow. It is just not free trade by definition. I too agree with you that a hungry man is coerced too when the food is deliberately kept from him. Our friend and his mini-me have an interesting view on what counts as coercions - in a way that is quite far apart from the view of contemporary man and women.

So, yes of course we need to constrain free market, but government must only place constrained in ways that it is competent in placing and enforcing the constrained. As we live in a complex system, the number of things that the government can competently manage is likely to be small.

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Those of you who have followed AI/robotics for many years will know of Rodney Brooks and his work on subsumption architectures (e.g. Cog) when he was at MIT. He was also a co-founder of iRobot Corporation.

Brooks left MIT to set up Rethink Robotics (formerly Heartland Robotics) where he is currently Chairman and Chief Technical Officer. Today the company announced its new flagship product, Baxter, a $22,000 industrial robot which it claims will be revolutionary in manufacturing.

Here's the press release:

Rethink Robotics Revolutionizes Manufacturing with Humanoid Robot

Company Unveils Robots with Common Sense; First-of-Its-Kind Robot Designed to Make U.S. Manufacturers More Globally Competitive

Boston, MA – September 18, 2012 – Ushering in a new era in robotics, Rethink Robotics today unveiled the world’s first humanoid robots capable of applying common sense behavior to manufacturing environments. Affordably priced, versatile and safe enough to work shoulder-to-shoulder with people, Rethink’s new line of Baxter robots redefine how small, mid-size and large domestic manufacturers use automation to compete with manufacturers in low-cost regions of the world.

Based on the vision of Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and former director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Baxter breaks down the cost and safety barriers that have limited automation in American manufacturing up until now.

“Roboticists have been successful in designing robots capable of super-human speed and precision. What’s proven more difficult is inventing robots that can act as we do – in other words, that are able to inherently understand and adapt to their environments,” said Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics. “We believed that if we could cross that chasm with the manufacturing environment specifically in mind, we could offer new hope to the millions of American manufacturers who are looking for innovative ways to compete in our global economy.”

Rethink’s Baxter robots are groundbreaking in six different ways. No other product on the market can:

  • Apply common sense to its environment – Baxter understands and can adapt to the way the world works. For example, if Baxter drops an object, it knows to get another before trying to finish the task.
  • Safely work alongside humans – Baxter comes complete with sensors and related software to help it see and understand its environment. These design elements, coupled with its ability to apply common sense, allow Baxter to work next to people – eliminating the need for cages to keep robots and people separate. This is a new concept in manufacturing.
  • Be trained with no expertise required – Unlike traditional robots that require sophisticated software programming, Baxter can be trained just as you would teach a person. Typical factory workers can interact with the robot directly to train it to do a task in less than 30 minutes.
  • Offer broad task flexibility – Because of its versatility and the short amount of time it takes to retrain, Baxter can be easily moved by production personnel to different and varying tasks over the course of a day, week and month. This flexibility can make the difference for contract manufacturers who need to quickly make adjustments to meet demand.
  • Bring automation to manufacturers of all sizes – Baxter was specifically designed to be affordable for midsize and small manufacturers, companies that have never been able to afford robots before. The list price for the Baxter robot is $22,000 and with zero integration required, the solution is a fraction of the cost of a traditional industrial robot.
  • Go from delivery to the factory floor in one hour – Baxter is a complete and self-contained system. Unlike traditional robots that require manufacturers to make additional capital investments and develop custom software, Baxter comes ready to be used on the factory floor in less than one hour.

(More at the link below)

Baxter.jpg

Baxter press release

Rethink Robotics

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Yes, I follow you and his very interesting argument. I think he said that if you hit him, then it is not a free trade. He did not say that is against the rule/or allow. It is just not free trade by definition. I too agree with you that a hungry man is coerced too when the food is deliberately kept from him. Our friend and his mini-me have an interesting view on what counts as coercions - in a way that is quite far apart from the view of contemporary man and women.

So, yes of course we need to constrain free market, but government must only place constrained in ways that it is competent in placing and enforcing the constrained. As we live in a complex system, the number of things that the government can competently manage is likely to be small.

No, what Wonderpup is advocating is that I am not allowed to participate in whatever trade I like, if it does not conform to his morals. According to him, if there is disease, and poverty, in the world, I should give my money to him so that he can distribute it as he sees fit, rather than let me choose where my charity goes.

After all, all that tax is, is taking from the productive to give to those whom the takers devcide is the most needy.

Why do we need this extra layer of morality?

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No, what Wonderpup is advocating is that I am not allowed to participate in whatever trade I like, if it does not conform to his morals. According to him, if there is disease, and poverty, in the world, I should give my money to him so that he can distribute it as he sees fit, rather than let me choose where my charity goes.

After all, all that tax is, is taking from the productive to give to those whom the takers devcide is the most needy.

Why do we need this extra layer of morality?

Because when it comes down to it, most humans are selfish, greedy sh!ts.

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Because when it comes down to it, most humans are selfish, greedy sh!ts.

It's a good job then that we have an altruistic government wanting to spend our money in the most moral ways possible then.

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Yes, I follow you and his very interesting argument. I think he said that if you hit him, then it is not a free trade. He did not say that is against the rule/or allow. It is just not free trade by definition. I too agree with you that a hungry man is coerced too when the food is deliberately kept from him. Our friend and his mini-me have an interesting view on what counts as coercions - in a way that is quite far apart from the view of contemporary man and women.

So, yes of course we need to constrain free market, but government must only place constrained in ways that it is competent in placing and enforcing the constrained. As we live in a complex system, the number of things that the government can competently manage is likely to be small.

Thank you! I thought this point was made quite clearly too.

A free market is one where people aren't threatened into making trades they do not wish to make. Ofc, you can have non-free markets, where coercion/theft is common place, but that isn't a free market, nor what free market anarchists/voluntarists are advocating.

There is also an important difference between inaction and action. The former is the lack of doing something, where the latter is the presence of doing something. If I strike someone, in order to get something, I am doing something. If I refuse to do something for someone, I am not doing something. The difference is essential to comprehend.

For example, if I grow food and then choose not to give it to a starving man, I am being inactive towards the starving man. If I didn't exist, the same situation would occur, as there wouldn't be alive to grow the food, nor to give it to another. If you attempt to blame someone for inaction, then you would also have to blame those who didn't exist for not feeding starving people, which is clearly daft.

However, if the starving man threatens or steals from the food grower, they are being active towards the food grower. If the starving man didn't exist, the action towards the food grower would not occur. Therefore, if the starving man didn't exist, the consequences would change.

This is why we must logically separate the two - they are different behaviours. If you try to blame everyone, even those who don't exist, for the problems of others, not only does it make little sense, but it would also never end - every spare penny in your pocket could go to feeding the hungry and you would still be blamed for not working 16 hour days to earn more.

Ofc, none of the above means that people won't use violence to try to get what they want - it's just defining what a free market is. A starving man may do desperate things, but people may forgive them for it. However, threats/theft are not attributes of a free market and that is the important point - how it is enforced is a different problem, but defining what the goal is comes before trying to describe how it is achieved.

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Because when it comes down to it, most humans are selfish, greedy sh!ts.

Really? So, you're suggesting people naturally don't want to give to charity unless you threaten them, so therefore you should be able to force them abide to your moral values?

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Guest eight

Really? So, you're suggesting people naturally don't want to give to charity unless you threaten them, so therefore you should be able to force them abide to your moral values?

Most people are kind, charitable etc. However the presence of even a handful of the other sort really upsets the applecart.

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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.

The most free society is one where you have the maximum positive freedom - that is, the freedom to do anything which doesn't affect others. As soon as you doing something directly affects another negatively, then you have gone beyond this point.

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?

This is where arbitration comes in. If something isn't clear cut and people need to consult others for assistance in resolving the dispute, you turn to those who provide such arbitration services. In short, free market courts*.

* A social rating, much like a credit rating, could be used here I suppose. If people refuse to go to arbitration, they will have a mark against their name. If they go, lose the case, then refuse to take action, they would also have a mark against their name. How much the mark would affect the individual, would likely depend on the credibility of the arbitrator in question - a trusted arbitration services organisation may carry a lot of weight and deter others from trading with the individual. Ofc, these are just some ideas and other ideas would bubble to the top if better.

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Most people are kind, charitable etc. However the presence of even a handful of the other sort really upsets the applecart.

You will always have some selfish individuals. Is that an excuse for others to threaten them, if they don't give charity?

Perhaps a social rating of sorts, which reflects how charitable an individual is, would encourage others to associate with charitable people more readily? If most people are kind and charitable, thus prefer others who are like minded, some sort of public declaration of charitable behaviour may be appreciated by most people too.

Edited by Traktion

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Yes, I follow you and his very interesting argument. I think he said that if you hit him, then it is not a free trade. He did not say that is against the rule/or allow. It is just not free trade by definition. I too agree with you that a hungry man is coerced too when the food is deliberately kept from him. Our friend and his mini-me have an interesting view on what counts as coercions - in a way that is quite far apart from the view of contemporary man and women.

So, yes of course we need to constrain free market, but government must only place constrained in ways that it is competent in placing and enforcing the constrained. As we live in a complex system, the number of things that the government can competently manage is likely to be small.

The problem that both Injin and Traktion have is that they want to claim that the market is not subject to moral constraint- but wish to apply a moral constraint to market participants in the form of a prohibition against using violence as a bargaining tool.

When this inconsistency is pointed out they then retreat to the utilitarian argument that their objection to violence is not moral but practical- which is to say that they feel that violence is a poor strategy.

The problem with this is that a poor strategy is still a strategy- so by shifting their objection from the moral to the practical they accept that violent threats are just one way to do business in the market.

And they are correct. In an amoral universe violent threats are just another way to bargain, and as long a the target of those threats has the freedom to accept or reject the offer made the free market remains intact.

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No, what Wonderpup is advocating is that I am not allowed to participate in whatever trade I like, if it does not conform to his morals. According to him, if there is disease, and poverty, in the world, I should give my money to him so that he can distribute it as he sees fit, rather than let me choose where my charity goes.

After all, all that tax is, is taking from the productive to give to those whom the takers devcide is the most needy.

Why do we need this extra layer of morality?

No what I am pointing out is that in a genuinely free market violent threats are just another way to do business.

You want to participate in whatever trade you like, without someone else's morals getting in the way- I agree. This is why I offer you the free choice of either meeting my price or I will beat the crap out of you.

You are, of course, free to accept or reject this offer.

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There is also an important difference between inaction and action. The former is the lack of doing something, where the latter is the presence of doing something. If I strike someone, in order to get something, I am doing something. If I refuse to do something for someone, I am not doing something. The difference is essential to comprehend.

This only matters if those involved are to held morally responsible for their actions- but in an amoral market place there is no moral responsiblity- that is the freedom you demand.

So in a context in which moral responsiblity does not exist it makes no difference who is to blame- does it? Because there is no blame.

In a free market all that matters is that those involved in a trade agree to that trade.

So-for example- A factory owner knows that his workers are desperate to keep their jobs and so demands they accept a 50% pay cut. If they agree to this then that is a free market transaction.

So if I threaten to beat you up unless you drop your price by 50%- and you agree to this- then this too is a free market transaction.

The issue of who is to blame for the pressure that comes to bear on any transaction is a moral issue- but you want an amoral market.

So you are in a strange position here- you want to assign moral responsibility for violent threats- but at the same time want to claim the freedom that comes from having no moral responsibility for the outcomes of your trades.

Like Injin you want a market place that has total freedom from moral constraints while at the same time claiming that violence is immoral and so must be constrained. This is self contradiction.

OR- you make the claim that violent threats are not immoral- just poor strategy. But note that a poor strategy is still a strategy- and one that you seem here to accept as a valid-if not optimal-choice. If violent threats are defined simply as a bad way to negotiate this is to realise that they are still one way to do business in a free market.

The distinction you so carefully make between passive harm and active harm is a moral distinction- it's a distinction that is based on the concept of who is to blame- but there is no blame in a free market- only the freedom to accept or reject any offer put to you.

Edited by wonderpup

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Those of you who have followed AI/robotics for many years will know of Rodney Brooks and his work on subsumption architectures (e.g. Cog) when he was at MIT. He was also a co-founder of iRobot Corporation.

Brooks left MIT to set up Rethink Robotics (formerly Heartland Robotics) where he is currently Chairman and Chief Technical Officer. Today the company announced its new flagship product, Baxter, a $22,000 industrial robot which it claims will be revolutionary in manufacturing.

Attaboy, here we go. Now we really do live in interesting times...

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This only matters if those involved are to held morally responsible for their actions- but in an amoral market place there is no moral responsiblity- that is the freedom you demand.

So in a context in which moral responsiblity does not exist it makes no difference who is to blame- does it? Because there is no blame.

In a free market all that matters is that those involved in a trade agree to that trade.

So-for example- A factory owner knows that his workers are desperate to keep their jobs and so demands they accept a 50% pay cut. If they agree to this then that is a free market transaction.

So if I threaten to beat you up unless you drop your price by 50%- and you agree to this- then this too is a free market transaction.

The issue of who is to blame for the pressure that comes to bear on any transaction is a moral issue- but you want an amoral market.

So you are in a strange position here- you want to assign moral responsibility for violent threats- but at the same time want to claim the freedom that comes from having no moral responsibility for the outcomes of your trades.

Like Injin you want a market place that has total freedom from moral constraints while at the same time claiming that violence is immoral and so must be constrained. This is self contradiction.

OR- you make the claim that violent threats are not immoral- just poor strategy. But note that a poor strategy is still a strategy- and one that you seem here to accept as a valid-if not optimal-choice. If violent threats are defined simply as a bad way to negotiate this is to realise that they are still one way to do business in a free market.

The bit in bold is the only one I claim is true. However, it isn't a free market when violence is used to get a result. Granted, it is a market - a coerced market (ie. theft) - but it isn't a free market. Claiming that theft is fine in a free market is essentially an oxymoron; it certainly isn't what free market advocates are championing.

If you go around stealing from and threatening people, they will avoid associating with you, as will others who hear about your antics. This will make you poorer in the long run.

Also, you can never have a amoral market transactions, while all of the participants have morals of their own. Others will judge trades (from themselves or others) against their own sense of morality - people don't exist in a social void.

The distinction you so carefully make between passive harm and active harm is a moral distinction- it's a distinction that is based on the concept of who is to blame- but there is no blame in a free market- only the freedom to accept or reject any offer put to you.

I agree with the bolded bit, but it is you who are adding morality into the equation, not I (again).

You are asserting that someone is responsible for their inactions. I am disagreeing - I am asserting that someone can only be responsible for their actions, as if they didn't exist the result would be the same as them existing but taking no actions.

Edited by Traktion

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What if we look back more than 200 years? Is this a parallel to the transition from full employment of the population on the land as peasants and agricultural labourers, into the industrial revolution, where machines replace people, and the now displaced flood into the new cities competing with each other for sweatshop opportunities?

Yes there are many parallels but some differences too. One difference is that 150 years ago there were tons of jobs we wanted people to be doing, but we needed them on the farm. Because producing enough food was of the utmost importance. As they came off the farm to start with, many did go into marginal sweat shop jobs.

But on the whole people moved into other opportunities that were there all along, just slightly lower in priority than producing enough food. Another powerful trend was occuring, the same technologies that led to the increases in farm production, led to vast new industries. And mega scale production. The biggest was the farm combine, which flattened the old 'farm economy'. Well obviously the combustion engine opened up endless opportunity throughout the economy.

The other thing is society did not sit still in the face of the increasing automation. During the 1930's when the farm economy collapsed due to the rising efficiency, nations of the western world instituted the modern social welfare state. Such as the 40 hour work week, down from the old 60 hour industrial standard, old age pensions, health care, statuatory holidays, disability, etc..

The balance was tipped back in favour of labour. And labour caught up with the productivity leaps of the century during the 50's and 60's.

The great white hope of the anti-luddite movement was that something else was going to come along and replace the mass industrial jobs. First the hope was tech, and indeed some jobs were replaced. Then over the last few years the hope was the new green economy would recreate millions of the lost jobs.

However they are not just contending with the millions of already lost jobs, but the mass of jobs being lost to automation every year.

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I am usually on the other side of the arguments. Such as peak oil I have been arguing human ingenuity would find new deposits of oil that would not only make up for the declines in mature fields, but bring as much new supply as needed to the market too.

But with automation its human ingenuity in finding new opportunities, like yoga instructor or dog walker.. against human ingenuity. The computers, software, and automations are being developed by creative engineers around the world. The ubermenschen of creativty are working at these companies like Heartland Robotics.

The other thing that has been apparent to me is that these new opportunities like personal trainer are nowhere remotely on par with the old jobs like dockworker or steelworker.

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The problem that both Injin and Traktion have is that they want to claim that the market is not subject to moral constraint- but wish to apply a moral constraint to market participants in the form of a prohibition against using violence as a bargaining tool.

When this inconsistency is pointed out they then retreat to the utilitarian argument that their objection to violence is not moral but practical- which is to say that they feel that violence is a poor strategy.

The problem with this is that a poor strategy is still a strategy- so by shifting their objection from the moral to the practical they accept that violent threats are just one way to do business in the market.

And they are correct. In an amoral universe violent threats are just another way to bargain, and as long a the target of those threats has the freedom to accept or reject the offer made the free market remains intact.

Still not quite sure why you have consistently fail to understand the definition of free market thing. It is not free market if you use force by definition. On the other hand, Injin/Trakion believes on "hungry people is able to trade freely " are incorrect as hungry people are in no position to make a 'free market bargain'. Similarly, a critically illed patient is in no position to do a free market bargain with the surgeon. Free market is a place where the wants are expressed without coercions. Otherwise, it is not free market (which is different from a market.)

Then we come to the moral constraint thing - neither Injin or Trakion said use of violence is immoral. Injin said it does not work (although it clearly does in the real world, as you and others have said). So, in this case, we still have a market, it is just not a free market as defined by me, trakion, inijn and most others. If you tweak the definition of free market as "a market where people trade, including use of any advantages availabel, including but not limited to force", then you are right, but I would call yours a freemarket(wonderpop) or something like that to distinguish between the 2 definitions.

Edited by easy2012

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Still not quite sure why you have consistently fail to understand the definition of free market thing. It is not free market if you use force by definition. On the other hand, Injin/Trakion believes on "hungry people is able to trade freely " are incorrect as hungry people are in no position to make a 'free market bargain'. Similarly, a critically illed patient is in no position to do a free market bargain with the surgeon. Free market is a place where the wants are expressed without coercions. Otherwise, it is not free market (which is different from a market.)

Yes, exactly.

I would add that hungry people aren't in a position to make a good trade. I don't disagree that someone who is starving, may have to make trades they would rather not. We all have to do this in one way or another, but at the extremes it is pronounced.

However, if you remove as many of the coercive monopolies as possible - particularly land ownership, without compensation given to others - then those who are hungry can feed themselves. Again, while growing spuds may not make you wealthy, access to the land gives you the ability to fend for yourself, without having to pay off some rent seeker.

The alternative from helping the poor through the removal of rent seekers, is to put another rent seeker (the tax man) in place, then hope they will add some balance via the welfare state. For me, this is suboptimal too - it legitimises rent seeking through legal monopolies, which is essentially theft.

Then we come to the moral constraint thing - neither Injin or Trakion said use of violence is immoral. Injin said it does not work (although it clearly does in the real world, as you and others have said). So, in this case, we still have a market, it is just not a free market as defined by me, trakion, inijn and most others. If you tweak the definition of free market as "a market where people trade, including use of any advantages availabel, including but not limited to force", then you are right, but I would call yours a freemarket(wonderpop) or something like that to distinguish between the 2 definitions.

I think Wonderpup likes to anthropomorphise 'the free market' and then seeks to demonise it. To accept that it is just a venue for free trade and association is completely at odds with this, which is why he refuses to accept this definition.

As free market interactions are just individuals going about their trades, it would seem fairer to blame the odd psychopath for doing selfish things, rather than everyone. As the free market is just an observation of individuals going about their business, you can only really blame the people who are making what some would call unfair trades, as the free market itself is just a reflection of this. As Injin would say, 'the free market doesn't exist' - that is, it isn't a 'thing', it is just a behavioural pattern.

However, as soon as you start blaming individuals, it means you can no longer point to 'the free market' and say it is - in itself - evil/bad/selfish etc. All you can then say is that there are bad folk going about, doing bad things, which no one would disagree with.

I would suggest that nearly all of us are united in opposing bad people, doing bad things. However, as soon as you reach this point, you then have to question the role of the state. After all, the state is an organisation, made up of individuals, which interacts in the same market place as the rest of us - except they steal stuff, which most would agree is a bad thing and completely at odds with the definition of a a free market.

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Guest eight

Yes, exactly.

I would add that hungry people aren't in a position to make a good trade. I don't disagree that someone who is starving, may have to make trades they would rather not. We all have to do this in one way or another, but at the extremes it is pronounced.

However, if you remove as many of the coercive monopolies as possible - particularly land ownership, without compensation given to others - then those who are hungry can feed themselves. Again, while growing spuds may not make you wealthy, access to the land gives you the ability to fend for yourself, without having to pay off some rent seeker.

I can't see how, in reality, a few "evil" individuals wouldn't make out like bandits at the expense of everybody else whilst not caring a jot about this vaguely karmic retribution that is supposed to befall them as a result.

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I can't see how, in reality, a few "evil" individuals wouldn't make out like bandits at the expense of everybody else whilst not caring a jot about this vaguely karmic retribution that is supposed to befall them as a result.

Well, as the organisation called the state exists and it steals stuff routinely, you certainly have a point. They are making out like bandits, with little more than a request for cursory affirmation, once every 4 years.

However, defining and agreeing on what is the optimal situation - the least coercion possible, so that people can trade and associate freely/peacefully - is the first part of the equation. Seeing how we could get there, along with what barriers are in the way, is then the next step.

I would also suggest that ostracism is a very powerful mechanism. When you have no support in the form of benefits, as well as abandonment by security services and so forth, life would become very tough for those who didn't act in a socially acceptable way. Currently, you can commit crimes, then get sheltered, fed and protected by the state, both during and after your 'punishment'. I doubt this situation would persist in a voluntarist society.

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The bit in bold is the only one I claim is true. However, it isn't a free market when violence is used to get a result. Granted, it is a market - a coerced market (ie. theft) - but it isn't a free market. Claiming that theft is fine in a free market is essentially an oxymoron; it certainly isn't what free market advocates are championing.

Not correct- coercion is entirely acceptable in a free market. If I know you want something really badly I will force you to pay a higher price. So if you are dying of thirst in a desert and I demand everthing you own as the price of a drink of water I have coerced you into paying far more than you might consider 'fair' for that water- but this is still a free market transaction.

What defines a free market transaction is not the absence of coercion- it's the ability to accept or reject the offer being put to you.

If you go around stealing from and threatening people, they will avoid associating with you, as will others who hear about your antics. This will make you poorer in the long run.

That might be true in some cases and not true in others- but in any case this is just to say that violence is not always the best bargaining strategy in a free market- but it is a possible strategy non the less.

Also, you can never have a amoral market transactions, while all of the participants have morals of their own. Others will judge trades (from themselves or others) against their own sense of morality - people don't exist in a social void.

The market itself is amoral however. For example there is no reason in a free market why I should sell grain to starving kids if I can make more profit selling it to beef manufacturers- the market mechanism will not stop me doing this.

I agree with the bolded bit, but it is you who are adding morality into the equation, not I (again).

You are asserting that someone is responsible for their inactions. I am disagreeing - I am asserting that someone can only be responsible for their actions, as if they didn't exist the result would be the same as them existing but taking no actions.

The problem is that you conflate the idea of agency and that of moral responsiblity.

For example- If I choose to sell my grain to a beef producer instead of a food producer and as a result children in the third world starve I am the agent of that decision- but I am not morally guilty of anything because the free market is not a moral construct.

In a similar way- if I threaten you with violence in order to gain advantage in a trade with you I am the agent of that threat but I am not morally guilty of anything because the free market is not a moral construct.

Your prohibition against the use of violence as a bargaining tool seems to be just a matter of personal preference as far as I can see- there is no rule in a free market that states coercion cannot be employed to get the best deal.

Indeed- if you had me in a position of weakness you would be a fool not to use it to coerce me into giving you the best deal possible- coercion is at the very core of the free market- and all participants seek to coerce each other all the time in order to gain advantage.

You keep trying to make a basic distinction between coercion that is derived from a non violence based asymmetry of power and a violence based asymmetry of power.

But in both cases the stronger is using their power advantage to coerce the weaker into giving them what they want- why do you insist that there is some basic difference between the two?

Surely the use of violent threats is just another way to gain advantage in a free market? I can't really see why you single out violent coercion from all the other forms of coercion that exist in a free market situation.

In reality the threat of being left to die in a desert is just as coercive as the threat of being punched on the nose- is this not so?

Both are coercive- so I cannot see why one is compatible with a free market and the other is not.

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Surely the use of violent threats is just another way to gain advantage in a free market? I can't really see why you single out violent coercion from all the other forms of coercion that exist in a free market situation.

The fact that you have it and they want it is a form of coercion in itself.

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  • 295 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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