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The fundamentals of Libertarianism.

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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2010 11:18:43 AM PDT
Jerry EHT says:
Beautiful, simple, concise. Well done, Joseph

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 1, 2010 10:20:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 1, 2010 10:27:59 PM PDT
Stuart, you wrote, "So how would a Libertarian deal with his pumps.....weights and measures can a customer be sure he's buying a gallon of gasoline?...So, if I understand you, consumers should always be alert and buy at their own risk."

I'd like to respond: A fully libertarian society is sometimes hard to imagine; so hard that even libertarians don't always do a good job imagining how various issues would probably be resolved in it. A common mistake, for example, is to believe that valuable "safety nets" provided by the government would simply VANISH under libertarianism with nothing springing up to take their place in any practical form, leaving whomever the net protected vulnerable. This is simply unlikely to happen for the same simple reason that any valuable service is supplied: Demand.
For example, if the government department that performs mandatory inspections on, say, gas pumps REALLY was instrumental in making sure that a gallon of gas was a gallon of gas then when that mandatory inspection was eliminated, there would be a demand (from consumers who didn't like being ripped off) for a private company to inspect pump stations and vouch that stations they inspect did not "fudge" the pump meters. Kind of like issuing a Good Housekeeping or Consumer Reports seal of approval.
The differences between this and the way the government did it are that 1) it would be voluntary on the part of the stations to allow an inspections and 2) the standards would be set by the market. Now why would a station VOLUNTARILY agree to be inspected you ask? Well, if consumers were really getting ripped off all the time, customers would be pissed. And a station that had the "Pump Inspections, Inc." sticker would have a competitive advantage. All those pissed consumers would probably go to the station that had that sticker.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 8:54:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2010 11:45:58 PM PDT
Cam says:
Thanks for the thread guys this is really interesting.

A couple of things that I think Libertarians leave out:

Even under total freedom and legality, you can do a lot harm with your money if you choose to.
For example, if someone has a small company and I decide to ruin them, I can do it by bribing all their employees -in all liberty- to quit, and any possible replacements afterwards. This would of course close the company down.

Same concept for buying whole stocks of food supplies to prevent them to reach a certain town, etc.

I have no problem with supply and demand, but I see a loophole when the supposed freedom allows for the artificial alteration of the supply side by those with the means or the right-timing/skill.

On the true 'freedom' of people, and this is similar to #1, Libertarian's main argument is against imposition from government. But they leave out fraud and manipulation/brain-washing by those with the means/skill (i.e media). It is assumed that everyone is 'smart' and can judge properly; but as far as I know, no provision is left for this very real issue (I reckon that this is a hard one to solve). But again, what if someone convinces everybody to go on strike or jump off bridges? and am far from being metaphorical..

I think the notion of self-correction in the market is nice, but this self-correction happens AFTER the damage/inefficiency has happened. This mechanism alone seems to me incapable of foresight, and the feedback can be too slow.
i.e. dozens (hundreds?) get ripped off, and their safety jeopardized, with the watered-down gasoline before the example gas-station closes down.
I understand there can be abuse and inefficiency in official regulation, but I think people give in to some of that in order to be able to make certain assumptions (save mental overhead?) when they do their daily transactions.

Libertarians I hear neglect to discuss/determine the mechanism needed to issue new currency. A lot is spoken about free, sound, private monetary systems, but it is too abstract.
When dicussing about Lending, it is taken from the starting point of money ALREADY in circulation.
Also, regarding Gold, it is not stipulated how is gold to go from a barter-commodity to an imposed 'fixed price standard', and whether it will be controlled by the government or not.
I bring this up because am in the No-interest fiat-currency faction myself, but whether one agrees with that or not, the concrete issuing mechanism should be stipulated.


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010 5:23:23 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2010 5:24:09 AM PDT

1) The scenario you describe sounds like trying to simply "corner" the market (i.e. buy up the supply of either labor, food, silver, etc.). When it comes to someone using their money to do that, the market has a wonderful policing mechanism: Price. As the person tries to buy up the supply their price goes up; as the price goes up their supply increases. It's generally extremely difficult and costly to "corner" a market, and pretty much impossible on something as easily supplied as workers and food.

2) If someone wants to PERSUADE someone to do something through honest information, that's fine, but Libertarians are very much for the enforcement of contracts and the prosecution of someone for fraud. There are plenty of stupid people who can be misguided, but using fraud (i.e. knowingly lying) to do it would still be a crime.

3) If society generally has a problem with, for example, certain fly-by-night gas stations opening up, watering down their gas and people being seriously harmed, then there would be a huge customer base for a private reputable organization to inspect and vouch for the gas station (e.g. put a sticker on the pump). The vouching would probably include that the gas station was insured and bonded so that if people were ripped off and it closed there was money to pay its victims.

If it was as serious a problem as you say, then nearly every gas station would find it necessary to have stickers at the pumps showing they were inspected. People would generally be able to count on them and you wouldn't have to mentally remember to look for it, which is what I assume you mean by "mental overhead." In fact, when a company DIDN'T choose to be inspected it would be a rare occurrence and there would be great incentive for the inspection companies to make the public VERY aware of the danger of patronizing them. (I'm envisioning picketers outside the gas station holding signs saying "Warning: This gas station is not insured by Consumer Protection, Inc.", paid for by that company.)

4) I'm not as strong on macroecnomics as I am on micro so if your and my only disagreement is on whether or not there ought to be fiat currency issued by a government, I'll worry about that later. :-)

Posted on Nov 6, 2010 11:12:14 PM PDT
Cam says:
Thanks for the response Philosopher,

I still have problems with this, I don't think you have covered it:

Price is not a problem if you have enough money; and what you say in itself is what I'm talking about: you can manipulate the price/availability of something in order to harm others or to benefit yourself in the long run. if I buy the stock of food or buy-out someone's employees, the increase in price IS precisely what will do the harm. This harm will happen in a finite amount of time, even if there is potential additional supply.
Sorry, but I just think sometimes visualizing self-correction mechanisms can be wishful thinking.

The line between honest information and deception can be very fine, that's why I say this one is hard to solve. Again, all I'm saying is that maybe imposition by physical force (government or otherwise) is not the only form of imposition possible, and Libertarians should expand that core-point.
Some Libertarians I've spoken to say that others being 'misguided' just don't affect me and I shouldn't care; That's a good point, but in reality they do (the workers-on-sudden-strike example comes to mind again) even though they are acting 'freely'.

Again, solutions are presented AFTER the fact on that self-correction mechanism, that doesn't answer my post.
What am saying is that if there is any true to any minimal purported representation, then people seem to accept/agree on preemptive imposed standards to a degree, to prevent harm from happening in the first place.
Am not only talking about the hassle of checking or not checking for a sticker. But being able to enter a new building knowing it won't collapse on you (i.e. building codes), or letting a company dig trenches close to your neighborhoods' gas lines, etc. Otherwise you'd have to be on the 'lookout' all the time (too much of a third-world experience for my taste).
Is that more expensive to the individual than accepting some minimum common standards? I think it is, at least until the freedom tradeoff hits a certain level I guess.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying any standard/inspection is to be designed by a government bureaucrat, those can/are contracted to private firms, but (assuming a half-decent representation) the government initiates and arbitrates the processes BEFORE any harm has had a chance to occur.
Maybe I'm wrong in assuming there can be a minimum half-decent representation?

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Discussion in:  Libertarian forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  30
Initial post:  Jan 17, 2009
Latest post:  Nov 6, 2010

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