Conservapedia on “atheism”

Here’s a fun way to waste half an hour: look over the Conservapedia entry on atheism.

It starts off with a picture of “The perverse and cruel atheist Marquis de Sade in prison,” which is a pretty good indication of the sort of material that is to come. In some ways, it’s a nice one-stop shopping center for calumnies against nonbelief favored by American conservatives. I will admit, it has links to some useful sociological information concerning religious versus nonreligious populations, though it is one-sided and very US-centered. But that’s a minor part of the entry. Naturally, the bulk consists of misconceptions and misrepresentations.

The very existence of Conservapedia is a monument to dishonesty. Many American conservatives go purple in the face railing against political correctness, relativism, politically determined standards of truth, bias, etc. etc. Their solution, naturally, is to exhibit extreme versions of these faults. If they take over a public institution, they will gut it, as with the American government. If they can’t take over, such as with American science, they will seek to form parallel institutions to propagate a religiously correct vision of reality. So we had conservatives complaining about “bias” in Wikipedias treatment of certain subjects such as evolution, and therefore they produced a nicely creationist web site, Conservapedia, as an alternative.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16876007820488393870 Sam

    Conservapedia is the sort of site that leads to comments like “What do you mean it isn’t a parody?”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    “In some ways, it’s a nice one-stop shopping center for calumnies against nonbelief favored by American conservatives.”

    Should be “some American conservatives”. I doubt that Barry Goldwater was a believer.

    “The very existence of Conservapedia is a monument to dishonesty. Many American conservatives go purple in the face railing against political correctness, relativism, politically determined standards of truth, bias, etc. etc.”

    Many non-conservatives as well disapprove political correctness (e.g., Jonathan Rauch) and politicized science.

    “Their…”

    All of those “many” conservatives?

    “…solution, naturally, is to exhibit extreme versions of these faults. If they take over a public institution, they will gut it, as with the American government.”

    ‘Scuse me? When was American government “gutted”?

    “If they can’t take over, such as with American science, they will seek to form parallel institutions to propagate a religiously correct vision of reality. So we had conservatives complaining about ‘bias’ in Wikipedias treatment of certain subjects such as evolution, and therefore they produced a nicely creationist web site, Conservapedia, as an alternative.”

    Why is “bias” in quotes, above? Two points:
    1) If a child fears monsters under the bed, she fears monsters under the bed, not “monsters under the bed”.
    2) Wikipedia’s bias in politically sensitive areas is pretty well established. I give you Global Warming, for example.

    Funny thing; over at the IIDB discussion board, some believer will appear and say something like “atheism leads to socialism” or “all atheists are socialists”, and then the atheists in the forum will calumnate the poor fool AND make his point, saying that OF COURSE atheists are socialists since atheists are so much smarter than believers and socialism is so much smatrer than market economics.

    Something similar just happened here, with this implicit equation of “conservative” with “believer”.

    Socialists believe as firmly in Intelligent Design as any Bible-belt Baptist, only in economics instead of biology.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “Should be “some American conservatives”. I doubt that Barry Goldwater was a believer. “

    The American conservative movement isn’t based on Goldwater- it is based on Reagan.

    “Many non-conservatives as well disapprove political correctness (e.g., Jonathan Rauch) and politicized science. “

    He was attacking hypocricy. He probably knows there are others against PC.

    “‘Scuse me? When was American government “gutted”? “

    Remember what happened in 1994? They shut down the government for a short period of time!

    “1) If a child fears monsters under the bed, she fears monsters under the bed, not “monsters under the bed”. “

    The quotes are to show his disdain. It is a disdainful disdain so deep he wants to put an extra layer of protection between hislef and the words.

    “2) Wikipedia’s bias in politically sensitive areas is pretty well established. I give you Global Warming, for example. “

    Chant the Litany of Stealth loder brothers- the Emperor CAN’T HEAR YOU!

    Just because you say it is biased, doesn’t mean it actually is. They reflect the overwhelming majority of the scientific establishment.

    “Funny thing; over at the IIDB discussion board, some believer will appear and say something like “atheism leads to socialism” or “all atheists are socialists”, and then the atheists in the forum will calumnate the poor fool AND make his point, saying that OF COURSE atheists are socialists since atheists are so much smarter than believers and socialism is so much smatrer than market economics. “

    Obviously the idiots on the board have no heard of Ann Rand and the objectivists who claim that all atheists are free market capitialists.

    And socialism isn’t “smarter” than the free market- t si more controlled. Of course, when you get to the point of actually defining socialism or the free market, no one gives an answer. Is nationalizing banks to prevent the economy from collapsing socialist? Are carbon markets free market? Is a safety net socialism?

    “Something similar just happened here, with this implicit equation of “conservative” with “believer”. “

    They aren’t the same, but they ARE heavily correlated.

    “Socialists believe as firmly in Intelligent Design as any Bible-belt Baptist, only in economics instead of biology.”

    You DO realize that the free market is as much designed as any socialist economy? It requires extensive effort by the government to meet the conditions required for a free market. BOTH, like all human systems are “designed”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    1) Reagan’s launch upon the American political scene occurred when he spoke at the convention which nominated Goldwater. In any case, it does not matter to my point that the “conservative movement” is “based” on one or another. My point was, applying some loose political label like “conservative” to a large group of people with diverse beliefs about issues and then generalizing to this entire group the beliefs of a few is very sloppy thinking. Social conservatives (the “religious right”) were Democrats until Reagan. William Jennings Bryan was a Democrat. Capitalism is corrosive of tradition, so free-marketeers are most definitely NOT “conservatives” in any literal sense. Consider market-oriented policies on K-12 schooling, (vouchers), pensions (Social Security privatization), the Post Office (privatization), etc.

    2) Explicitly, Mr. Edis attacked “dishonesty”, not “hypocricy” (sic). My point here is that others beside “conservatives” object to “political correctness, relativism, politically determined standards of truth, bias, etc.” Orwell complained about relativism and politically determined standards of truth. Nearly everyone objects to bias, we just see it in differet places.

    3) President Clinton vetoed spending bills he didn’t like and shut down government. He coordinated this strategy with public sector unions before the veto and a supportive press blamed Republicans.

    4) Do quotes around “bias” show “disdain” for bias or for
    accusations of bias? A normal reading of the sentence indicates Mr. Edis disdains the accusation that Wikipeda is biased on “certain subjects”. Whether or not anthropogenic global warming is established, Wikipedia’s bias on the issue is most definitely well-established. You will not know what the “overwhelming majority” of climate scientists believes if consensus is manufactured by a few journal editors and anonymous referees.

    5. “…(W)hen you get to the point of actually defining socialism or the free market, no one gives an answer.” What’s the question? Do you mean: “What is the definition of ‘socialism’?” and “What is the definition of ‘free market capitalism’?” Lots of people give answers. Definition is tricky in the real world, but normal people accept difficulties at the margin.

    “Is nationalizing banks to prevent the economy from collapsing socialist?” Yes. So would be nationalizing banks to prevent a Martian invasion or to maintain the proportionality of the force of gravity between any two bodies to the product of the masses and the inverse of the square of the distance between them.

    “Are carbon markets free market?” Sort of.

    “Is a safety net socialism?” Yes.

    6) Conservative and believer….” aren’t the same, but they ARE heavily correlated.” This is the issue. I contend that “conservative” is too loosely defined to be systematically “correlated” with anything.

    7) “…(T)he free market is as much designed as any socialist economy? It requires extensive effort by the government to meet the conditions required for a free market. BOTH, like all human systems are ‘designed’.”

    We agree that the legal regime which defines free-market capitalism is designed. We disagree about the “as much”. Fundamentally, the Austrian criticism of socialism, going back to contemporary critics of Marx, is that economic “design”, in the sense in which socialists propose to design economic outcomes, is impossible since managers will not have (and can never have) the information they need to prescribe as well socialists promise or as well as a market delivers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    There are three topics you can’t discus in polite company- religion, politics and sex. Why is it when one comes up the other two inevitably follow?

    Also, incoherancy is on my end- I need sleep…

    “1) Reagan’s launch upon the American political scene occurred when he spoke at the convention which nominated Goldwater. In any case, it does not matter to my point that the “conservative movement” is “based” on one or another. My point was, applying some loose political label like “conservative” to a large group of people with diverse beliefs about issues and then generalizing to this entire group the beliefs of a few is very sloppy thinking. Social conservatives (the “religious right”) were Democrats until Reagan. William Jennings Bryan was a Democrat. Capitalism is corrosive of tradition, so free-marketeers are most definitely NOT “conservatives” in any literal sense. Consider market-oriented policies on K-12 schooling, (vouchers), pensions (Social Security privatization), the Post Office (privatization), etc. “

    Goldwater lost, while Reagan became president, and the “Reagan Revolution” is the Golden Age for conservatives. Conservative is beingused for people after the 1960s.

    The conservative movement is made up of two major groups- the religious nuts and the pro-business wing. Oh, and the libertarians.

    It is true that their stances contradict and we may soon see an implosion of th Republican party.

    Of course, all labels have problems. For example, the technical term for their policies is neo-liberalism.

    “2) Explicitly, Mr. Edis attacked “dishonesty”, not “hypocricy” (sic).”

    Because they say one thing while meaning another. He is assuming they know about it rather than being deluded.

    “Nearly everyone objects to bias, we just see it in differet places.”

    I don’t object to bias.

    “3) President Clinton vetoed spending bills he didn’t like and shut down government. He coordinated this strategy with public sector unions before the veto and a supportive press blamed Republicans.”

    How is this a disproof of what I said?

    “Whether or not anthropogenic global warming is established, Wikipedia’s bias on the issue is most definitely well-established. You will not know what the “overwhelming majority” of climate scientists believes if consensus is manufactured by a few journal editors and anonymous referees.”

    The words “prove it” come to mind.

    “”Is nationalizing banks to prevent the economy from collapsing socialist?” Yes. So would be nationalizing banks to prevent a Martian invasion or to maintain the proportionality of the force of gravity between any two bodies to the product of the masses and the inverse of the square of the distance between them.

    “Are carbon markets free market?” Sort of.

    “Is a safety net socialism?” Yes. “

    Safety net isn’t socialism. Socialism is the government running businesses. And you seem to agree that socialism is okay in certain cases.

    “This is the issue. I contend that “conservative” is too loosely defined to be systematically “correlated” with anything. “

    We are talking about US conservatives. And it isn’t too loose- just look at the wedge issues to figure out the social conservatives and the “small gov” for the busiess wing.

    “We disagree about the “as much”. “

    Agriculture isn’t run by the free market. In fact, alot of spheres aren’t due to extensive politicking. It takes an extreme amount of political power to pull off- the only ones that managed it… were authoritarian dictatorships.

    “in the sense in which socialists propose to design economic outcomes, is impossible since managers will not have (and can never have) the information they need to prescribe as well socialists promise or as well as a market delivers.”

    Except in the cases of natural monopolies. Or situations where the tradgedy of the commons applies. Or for public goods. Are for extremely long term projects. Or…

    Best case scenarios almost never exist in the real world.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    “Conservative is being used for people after the 1960s.”
    Goldwater died in 1998. Did he no longer merti the label “conservative” as of 1970-Jan.-01?

    “The conservative movement is made up of two major groups- the religious nuts and the pro-business wing. Oh, and the libertarians.”

    That’s three, not two. What about foreign policy hawks? That makes four.

    “It is true that their stances contradict…”
    Perhaps I should be happy with this much agreement, since that was pretty much my point. People apply the label “conservative” to a variety of political orientations. That’s why (my original point in this discussion), it’s sloppy to say “conservatives this” and “conservatives that”, without aqualifier, “some” or “religious” or “fiscal”.

    (Malcolm): “2) Explicitly, Mr. Edis attacked ‘dishonesty’, not “hypocricy” (sic).”
    (Sam): “Because they say one thing while meaning another. He is assuming they know about it rather than being deluded.”

    Saying one thing while meaning another is dishonest, not hypocritical. Con artists are dishonest, but not always hypocritical. For example, if I claim title to and sell something I do not own I am dishonest, buy not hypocritcial. If I and my friends decide to use “racist” to mean “advocate of market-oriented plicies”, and then brand libertarians as racist, we are dishonest, since we deceive people who use normal English and who are not in on the code, but not hypocrital. People who assert the importance of tolerance and open debate and who then shout down or otherwise silence their opposition are hypocritical (e.g., IIDB moderators).

    (Taner Edis): “If they take over a public institution, they will gut it, as with the American government.”
    (Malcolm): “‘Scuse me? When was American government ‘gutted’?”
    (Sam): “Remember what happened in 1994? They shut down the government for a short period of time!”
    (Malcolm): “3) President Clinton vetoed spending bills he didn’t like and shut down government. He coordinated this strategy with public sector unions before the veto and a supportive press blamed Republicans.”
    (Sam): “How is this a disproof of what I said?”

    It was not “conservatives” (“they”) who “gutted” (“shut down”)the government in 1994.

    (Sam): “Safety net isn’t socialism. Socialism is the government running businesses.”

    The social safety net is the pension business and the charity business. Taxpayers do not gain when the State nationalizes either business.

    (Sam): “And you seem to agree that socialism is okay in certain cases.”

    Let that be material for some other discussion.

    (Sam): “The words “prove it” come to mind.”
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK3RXPPYI6K709I

    (Malcolm): “Something similar just happened here, with this implicit equation of ‘conservative’ with ‘believer’.”
    (Sam): “They aren’t the same, but they ARE heavily correlated.”
    (Malcolm): “This is the issue. I contend that ‘conservative’ is too loosely defined to be systematically “correlated” with anything.”
    (Sam): “We are talking about US conservatives. And it isn’t too loose- just look at the wedge issues to figure out the social conservatives and the ‘small gov’ for the busiess wing.”

    Huh?

    (Malcolm): “in the sense in which socialists propose to design economic outcomes, is impossible since managers will not have (and can never have) the information they need to prescribe as well (as) socialists promise or as well as a market delivers.”

    (Sam): “Except in the cases of natural monopolies. Or situations where the tradgedy of the commons applies. Or for public goods. Are for extremely long term projects. Or…”

    There’s a lot to discuss here. Material for another day, perhaps. The welfare-economic analysis that finds a welfare gain from State operation of an industry in the cases you raise above makes several large assumptions. First, “natural monopoly” is dependent on technology in many cases. Cell phones ended the case for the telecom monopoly. Cheap power might make in-house sewage treatment less wasteful than current technology which used good clean water for transport. State assumption of responsibility for waste disposal reduces the incentive for recycling.

    The tragedy of the commons is an iterated, multi-party prisoner’s dilemma, with memory. The analysis which finds “market failure” in this case does not imply that State actors will outperform non-State actors.

    The analysis of “public goods” is a mirror image or photographic negative of the analysis of the tragedy of the commons. Generally, a public good is the mitigation of a public bad (a tragedy of the commons). The assumption by State actors of responsibility for the production of public goods does not solve the problem of market failure, but only transforms it, since corporate oversight is a public good and the State itself is a corporation.

    We have wandered far from a discussion of the terms “conservative”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “Goldwater died in 1998. Did he no longer merti the label “conservative” as of 1970-Jan.-01? “

    The label conservative is usually applied, in the US, to the reactionary movement that emerged in the 1960s. Applying it to previous time periods does not have the same policy goals.

    “That’s three, not two. What about foreign policy hawks? That makes four. “

    Pro-business and libertarians tend to be the same people. Hawks are evenly distributed between both parties- the Dems just have the hippie Doves.

    “It was not “conservatives” (“they”) who “gutted” (“shut down”)the government in 1994. “

    Except that Bill Clinton was a conservative (he campaigned on small government and executed a retarded man). Of course, I was saying that the Republicans did it and your statement was NOT a disproof of what I said- it merely showed the existance of political maneuvering.

    “The social safety net is the pension business and the charity business. Taxpayers do not gain when the State nationalizes either business. “

    And police is a security business… but the government running the police isn’t considered socialism.

    As for taxpayers not gaining when the systems are run by the government… that would explain why the countries with the best safety nets have the highest HDI, right?

    “Let that be material for some other discussion.”

    You find government running of industry debatable? Your kidding me!

    “http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK3RXPPYI6K709I”

    Which proves there isn’t a consensous… how exactly? It provides no evidence related to that, only that an editor at wiki is biased. Which is a bit obvious. because they are human.

    “Huh? “

    See the US Rebulcian party and the primaries. We had:

    Ron Paul- libertarians
    Gulliani- security
    Huckalbee-social conservative populist
    Romney- pro-business
    McCain- social conservative.
    The wedge issues I was refering to are ways of spotting conservatives. For social conservatives, it would be things like gay marriage or abortion, for economic conservatives it would be things like “small government”, “deregulation”, etc.

    “First, “natural monopoly” is dependent on technology in many cases. “

    Which doesn’t affect the monopoly in the first place, merely eliminates it in the future. The government has to deal with things in the present.

    “State assumption of responsibility for waste disposal reduces the incentive for recycling. “

    Because if individuals have responsibility they dump it wherever they can. Think the Middle Ages.

    “The tragedy of the commons is an iterated, multi-party prisoner’s dilemma, with memory. The analysis which finds “market failure” in this case does not imply that State actors will outperform non-State actors. “

    The market ALWAYS fails in the tradgedy of the commons. The state SOMETIMES fails. There is a major differance.

    “The analysis of “public goods” is a mirror image or photographic negative of the analysis of the tragedy of the commons. Generally, a public good is the mitigation of a public bad (a tragedy of the commons). The assumption by State actors of responsibility for the production of public goods does not solve the problem of market failure, but only transforms it, since corporate oversight is a public good and the State itself is a corporation.”

    The state isn’t a corportation. A corporation is legally recognized as a person and exists to profit its shareholders. The US does not have a legal idenity and exists to further the goals of its citizens. It hasn’t turned a profit since the 1890s.

    And you can’t “solve” that market failure- pollution is a fact of life due to the necesity of heavy industry.

    There are public goods that aren’t reflections of public bads. For example, eliminating diseases by mass vaccinations. This takes government work.

    I like you didn’t bother hitting long term projects. We both know that the highway system wouldn’t have been constructed without the government.

    “We have wandered far from a discussion of the terms “conservative”.”

    Short answer- conservativism is based of Burke and those who resist change as dangerous and want it to be extremely slow and incrimental, if at all.

    However, I am attacking your libertarianism. The fact of the matter is that the state has consistantly derived better results than the free market for many different problems.

    For example, healthcare.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Samuel Skinner wrote: “The market ALWAYS fails in the tradgedy of the commons. The state SOMETIMES fails. There is a major differance.”

    I’d say they are both “sometimes and frequently,” neither always.

    This lecture by David Friedman observes that the state suffers from an analog to market failure.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “I’d say they are both “sometimes and frequently,” neither always.”

    Jim, a tragedy of the commons is when each individual perusing their own self interest results in disaster. In free market conditions this ALWAYS happens.

    It can only be prevented under traditional economics (aka all the people involved know each other and work together) or state regulation.

    “This lecture by David Friedman observes that the state suffers from an analog to market failure.”

    Ha! That worked so well for are current regulations? Oh wait- the economy almost crashed because we deregulated the credit industry!

    His analogy doesn’t work because there is a state style solution- kill deserters. Yep- a market case that can be solved by state intervention.

    Or you can do what they did historically

    “Free though they are, they are not entirely free — for law is their master, whom they fear far more than your men fear you. Whatever their law commands, that they do; and it commands them always the same: they are not allowed to flee in battle from any foe, however great the numbers, but rather they are to stay in their ranks and there conquer or perish.”
    – Herodotus, The Histories (7.104)

    His example solving traffic is answered by the state.

    Pollution is the same thing.

    Ah yes- radio and TV. Because advertising solves the problem. He existed before Tivo :) Opps!

    And then bee keepers. Wow, both examples have positive externalities that are located in specific places. TV have specific channels, and bee hives only cover nearby fields. Which means you can easily reward those who help you so it isn’t the same as alot of other market failures.

    And he points out that voting has no actual benefit. Wow- we didn’t know that “rolls eyes”. Of course, states that require voting have higher rates of voting.

    The rejection case also doesn’t work because the people who do the job are actually interested in helping people.

    Free trade? I can’t comment about Hong Kong, but England already adopted free trade when they were industrialized… and at the same time keeping their colonies not industrialized. One of the major causes of the revolutionary war in fact.

    Of course, every country that industrialized did use heavy state control and tariffs. England, the United States, South Korea, etc.

    The fact of the matter is that free trade is not necessarily beneficial for countries. The third world did better under state control than it did latter under the neo-liberal economics- I believe the numbers are +1% growth rate versus +.6% growth rate over the comparative decades.

    As for growing corn to make autos… Damn, that is stupid. The fact of the matter is that you can farm almost anywhere on Earth. Automobiles require a shitload of support networks to build them up. Which is why there are farmers all over the world and auto industries in only a few of them. Which means that the ones with the car plants have power over the ones that don’t.

    NZ is an exception… and he doesn’t bother to investigate. For the love of the Emperor- you are supposed to be a scientist! Find the cause.

    So his attack against having the government intervene… is that the government isn’t perfect. Which is something well all know. We also know that it has no bearing whatsoever on whether the government should intervene.

    And then he doesn’t get government policy. Yes, there is a difference between different political parties. Laizze-faire relies upon how people work, so there isn’t different forms, but there ARE different government policies.

    The politicians will not be perfect- but they will operate at a degree to avoid certain problems.

    The Soviet Union ran the farms for its entire existence. It only had starvation during the civil war phase (because of warfare) and the Stalin phase (because of taking people out of agriculture). Afterwards they didn’t have famines. They couldn’t produce enough food then… but they can’t do it know either. Something about Russia being a frozen wasteland.

    Basically his point comes down to “governments can screw up, so we shouldn’t have them so big”. Except that requires the size of the government to be correlated with the screw ups… and it isn’t. The rate is the same. It also requires the free market to work best without government intervention… and it usually doesn’t.

    malcom said
    “There’s a lot to discuss here. Material for another day, perhaps. The welfare-economic analysis that finds a welfare gain from State operation of an industry in the cases you raise above makes several large assumptions. First, “natural monopoly” is dependent on technology in many cases. Cell phones ended the case for the telecom monopoly. Cheap power might make in-house sewage treatment less wasteful than current technology which used good clean water for transport. State assumption of responsibility for waste disposal reduces the incentive for recycling.”

    People will never have personal sewage treatment on a widespread scale, short of magical future science. For starters, economics of scale come into play, then there is the fact it is… less than wonderful smelling. Or safe.

    Cell phones ended the telecoms monopoly… and placed it in the hands of those who can build cell towers and satellites… which has become an oligopoly because of NASA. If NASA wasn’t there, it would still be at monopoly stage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Samuel Skinner: "Jim, a tragedy of the commons is when each individual perusing their own self interest results in disaster. In free market conditions this ALWAYS happens."

    If your claim is that in the absence of an externally imposed system of regulation, it is always impossible for voluntary coordination to avoid a tragedy of the commons, I'd say that's certainly false. If your point is merely that in the absence of a coordinated agreement each party with access to the commons will maximize its own interests and make everyone worse off, I'd say that's simply a restatement of the problem and doesn't reflect what may or may not happen in any given circumstance–it seems to me you're making an a priori claim when you should be making an empirical one.

    "Cell phones ended the telecoms monopoly… and placed it in the hands of those who can build cell towers and satellites… which has become an oligopoly because of NASA. If NASA wasn't there, it would still be at monopoly stage."

    Cell phones didn't end telecom monopoly, there are still dominant regional incumbent wireline providers, which also dominate the wireless mobile business in the U.S.; seems to me that FCC regulation helps the incumbents maintain their market position and acts as a barrier to competition. Compare to the market for Internet backbone/long-haul, for example, where the major incumbents (AT&T;, Verizon, Qwest) have considerable competition and rank #8, #4, and #12, respectively, in terms of number of customer networks: http://www.renesys.com/products_services/market_intel/#a-customer_base

    Mobile networks are dependent upon the wireline networks for long-haul traffic. I don't believe NASA is responsible for most communications satellite launches.

    "The third world did better under state control than it did latter under the neo-liberal economics- I believe the numbers are +1% growth rate versus +.6% growth rate over the comparative decades."

    You're not comparing state control to lack of state control unless you're looking at failed states like Somalia, but opening up trade has clearly benefited the developing world; check out stats at http://www.gapminder.org/

    Looks like you threw out a bunch of other disconnected items as commentary on Friedman's talk, which I'm not going to bother responding to–if you think you have substantive criticisms of his argument, I suggest you reformulate them more coherently and post them at his blog to get his response–daviddfriedman.blogspot.com.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    "If your claim is that in the absence of an externally imposed system of regulation, it is always impossible for voluntary coordination to avoid a tragedy of the commons, I'd say that's certainly false. "

    No, I said it requires state or traditional control.

    "If your point is merely that in the absence of a coordinated agreement each party with access to the commons will maximize its own interests and make everyone worse off, I'd say that's simply a restatement of the problem and doesn't reflect what may or may not happen in any given circumstance–it seems to me you're making an a priori claim when you should be making an empirical one."

    I have made a claim and you have to provide a conunter example to show it is false. Until you have done so everything in the above paragraph is entirely irrelevant.

    "Cell phones didn't end telecom monopoly, there are still dominant regional incumbent wireline providers, which also dominate the wireless mobile business in the U.S.; seems to me that FCC regulation helps the incumbents maintain their market position and acts as a barrier to competition. Compare to the market for Internet backbone/long-haul, for example, where the major incumbents (AT&T;, Verizon, Qwest) have considerable competition and rank #8, #4, and #12, respectively, in terms of number of customer networks: http://www.renesys.com/products_services/market_intel/#a-customer_base"

    I have no idea what you are saying.

    "Mobile networks are dependent upon the wireline networks for long-haul traffic. I don't believe NASA is responsible for most communications satellite launches."

    That wasn't what I meant. Without NASA, there would be no lauching of satellites. To design the rockets and the mechanisms and the other required information requires a governmental authority.

    In short, the only reason the aerospace industry exists is becausethe government did all the heavy lifting.

    "You're not comparing state control to lack of state control unless you're looking at failed states like Somalia, but opening up trade has clearly benefited the developing world; check out stats at "

    I am comparing the states that used state control over their economy and then switched to neoliberalism. My source is the book "Bad Samaritans".

    You are going to need to show me the stats. The link just goes to the main site- it doesn't show change in HDI or GDP per person over time, which is what we are interested in.

    "Looks like you threw out a bunch of other disconnected items as commentary on Friedman's talk, which I'm not going to bother responding to–if you think you have substantive criticisms of his argument, I suggest you reformulate them more coherently and post them at his blog to get his response–daviddfriedman.blogspot.com."

    Why not respond?

    And isn't the man dead? I read a book of his from the 1970s- and he was old then.

    I'd like to point out the talk is heavily misleading- Chile adopted neo-liberal economic policies which plunged the economy into the toilet.

    Not to mention he fails as a scientist- if you see an anomoly that goes to the heart of your thesis, investigate it- don't just write it off!

    The fun part is that neoliberalism has tried often- for colonies.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Samuel: The tragedy of the commons can be resolved via regulation or by internalizing externalities through the assignment of property rights; your discussion seems to assume that there can be no agreement of governing rules or of property rights in the absence of state intervention.

    “And isn’t the man dead? I read a book of his from the 1970s- and he was old then.”

    Milton Friedman is dead, his son David (born 1945) is not.

    Chile has had one of the best-performing economies in South America from the mid-1980s up until the current global credit crisis.

    If you can’t find relevant statistics on gapminder.org, perhaps you should view Hans Rosling’s TED talk, or his longer talk at Google (on Google video), in which he describes the tool and shows some interesting human development trends in global data. It’s worth your time no matter what your political viewpoint is.

    “I have no idea what you are saying.” Suffice it to say that I disagree with pretty much everything you said about telecommunications; I also find some of your remarks rather opaque.

    “Without NASA, there would be no lauching of satellites.” Clearly, there are numerous satellite launches without NASA today. Do you mean this to be a counterfactual conditional? On what basis do you say that if NASA hadn’t existed, no other space program, publicly or privately funded, would ever have existed? That seems pretty unlikely.

    BTW, I don’t know why you use the term “neoliberalism” as opposed to simply “liberalism.”

    “Why not respond?”

    I’ve now given some response, but I lack the interest to spend more time engaging in further discussion with you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    "Samuel: The tragedy of the commons can be resolved via regulation or by internalizing externalities through the assignment of property rights; your discussion seems to assume that there can be no agreement of governing rules or of property rights in the absence of state intervention."

    Given that the state has a monopoly on force and you need a way to punish people who break the rules… yeah, it is sort of impossible to do outside of traditional or command based economics.

    "Chile has had one of the best-performing economies in South America from the mid-1980s up until the current global credit crisis."

    The economy neary completely fell apart after the reforms. They dumped them and choose a differant, more state orientated path. And their current economy is based entirely on resource extraction… which will not help them industrialize.

    "If you can't find relevant statistics on gapminder.org, perhaps you should view Hans Rosling's TED talk, or his longer talk at Google (on Google video), in which he describes the tool and shows some interesting human development trends in global data. It's worth your time no matter what your political viewpoint is."

    So you don't know if they have it available either? Dang.

    "Suffice it to say that I disagree with pretty much everything you said about telecommunications; I also find some of your remarks rather opaque."

    Because you claim that it didn't end the monopoly, but it did. It seems contradictory and confusing. You probably have a point, I just can't understand what the heck you are saying.

    "Clearly, there are numerous satellite launches without NASA today. Do you mean this to be a counterfactual conditional? On what basis do you say that if NASA hadn't existed, no other space program, publicly or privately funded, would ever have existed? That seems pretty unlikely."

    Space exploration is a field that requires a large imput of money before it can be exploited. In addition, it requires a large number of specialists available for the field and competant in working on the required parts.

    It basically required an amount of R&D; too costly for any company to do AND it provided the potential for the field to grow, which created companies with the experience and expertise. It isn't trivial- the reason that launches are so expensive is because we don't use heavy boosters. And we don't use them because no company makes them. They had to restart from scratch the plans to make them.

    "BTW, I don't know why you use the term "neoliberalism" as opposed to simply "liberalism.""

    Neoliberalism refers to the libertarian ideas that gained a hold after the great depression. Liberalism refers to the previous proponents of free trade of the Adam Smith variety. The two had very differant positions.

    "I've now given some response, but I lack the interest to spend more time engaging in further discussion with you."

    Welcome to the … joy that is the internet.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    I know I said I was done, but here's a bit more info.

    "Because you claim that it didn't end the monopoly, but it did. It seems contradictory and confusing. You probably have a point, I just can't understand what the heck you are saying."

    The 1984 AT&T; breakup and the development of CAPs and CLECs predated widespread commercial availability of wireless. Wireless certainly helped bring competition, and is killing the wireline voice business (but not wireline Internet). There are still regional duopolies (telco and cable) on retail wireline. Arguably the cause of the monopolies in the first place was government regulation via the FCC.

    On Gapminder, the very first part of the 2005 human development trends presentation is on income distribution. If you download the application instead of looking at the Flash, you can pick what stats to compare rather than paging through the presentation.

    Also, re: Chile vs. rest of S. America:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Chile_GDP.jpg

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    "
    The 1984 AT&T; breakup and the development of CAPs and CLECs predated widespread commercial availability of wireless. Wireless certainly helped bring competition, and is killing the wireline voice business (but not wireline Internet). There are still regional duopolies (telco and cable) on retail wireline. Arguably the cause of the monopolies in the first place was government regulation via the FCC."

    Please explain to me how you can have anything other than a monopoly in a situation that is a natural monopoly.

    "Also, re: Chile vs. rest of S. America:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Chile_GDP.jpg"

    I believe the two bumps are when they instituted the neo-liberal policies and had to… modify them.

    As it is, wiki also gives this:
    http://www1.tau.ac.il/eial/index.php?option=com_content&task;=view&id;=77&Itemid;=114

    Also, according to the CIA fact book, the economic growth halved in 1998 due to the governments no debt policy.

    Currently Chile is in negative economic growth. Opps!

    It is also worth noting that Chile's economy is based on

    "Throughout these years Chile maintained a low rate of inflation with GDP growth coming from high copper prices, solid export earnings (particularly forestry, fishing, and mining)"

    Yep, seeing Chile as a miracle of neo-liberalism is a bit like thanking free trade for the growth of Dubai- nope it was the resources. And if the country doesn't diversify when they tap out the copper, they can kiss their economy good bye.

    it will be just like those mining towns in Appalachia.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    The system of title and markets is one solution to the tragedy of the commons. Another is collective ownership and limited use (e.g., fishing licenses, grazing licenses). A third is regulation. Which system works best in a given case is an empirical question.

    Whether an industry is a natural monopoly in a given locality depends on the economies of scale in the industry and the size of the market in the given locality. Often, technological development changes the calculation of economies of scale. State assumption of responsibility for the operation of a natural monopoly gives to insiders the power to ban development of technologies which might undermine the natural monopoly (e.g., sewage treatment).

    Most goods are public goods to some extent and to some degree. The public goods argument implies subsidy and regulation of an industry at most, not State operation of an industry. Broadcast radio meets the criteria of a public good. I accept the argument that “public education” is to a considerable degree a “public good” (broadcase radio and schools yield positive externalities for which producers who lack the power to tax cannot charge). At the same time, there is a very strong argument against State operation or subsidy of information media (newspapers, electronic broadcase, schools): State operation of information media is a threat to democracy.

    Churches, unions, think tanks and independent schools are corporations. So is the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu, which is represented in civil suits by an individual called “the Corporation Counsel”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Well said, Malcolm.

    It’s not clear that there’s a natural monopoly in wireline connectivity to the home, given that there were multiple competitors prior to the establishment of FCC/PUC-established monopolies and that there are competing *types* of cables to the home (telco vs. cable), with the monopolies established in different ways with different geographic scope with different rules. Telcos got free access to right-of-ways and monopolies granted to the RBOCs in regions that have changed as they’ve merged with each other. Cable companies had to pay fees for access, and were granted monopolies on a municipality-by-municipality basis; some areas have allowed competition between multiple players. Both sets of wires are capable of carrying the same content, and today they compete for TV, telephone, and Internet access.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “The system of title and markets is one solution to the tragedy of the commons”

    I am contesting that. You have to give an example to show my claim is wrong. Come on- logical debate 101!

    “State assumption of responsibility for the operation of a natural monopoly gives to insiders the power to ban development of technologies which might undermine the natural monopoly (e.g., sewage treatment). “

    Except sewage is used for fertilizer, which works best collected at a central location.

    “The public goods argument implies subsidy and regulation of an industry at most, not State operation of an industry.”

    Except it isn’t the only argument.

    “I accept the argument that “public education” is to a considerable degree a “public good” (broadcase radio and schools yield positive externalities for which producers who lack the power to tax cannot charge).”

    ? You want education to be non government?

    “State operation of information media is a threat to democracy.”

    State DOMINATION is. State operation isn’t. The BBC, PBS and the like show the state can run part of the industry without compromising democracy- which is ironically more compromised by the “free” press and its pathetically poor standards. And, no, I am not talking about high culture, but accuracy.

    Interestingly enough, the government of both Britian, Germany and Canada have broad control over the press… and are still democracies.

    “Churches, unions, think tanks and independent schools are corporations. So is the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu, which is represented in civil suits by an individual called “the Corporation Counsel”.”

    No they aren’t. A corporation is an entity that has the legal rights of a person. Churches do not, unions do not, think tanks do not and private schools might (depends on wheter they have been incorportated).

    Jim, break it up. I can’t understand what you are saying.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    (SAM): “The third world did better under state control than it did latter under the neo-liberal economics- I believe the numbers are +1% growth rate versus +.6% growth rate over the comparative decades.”

    Strenuous disagreement. I recommend P.T. Bauet’s __Dissent on Development__.

    (Sam): “Socialism is the government running businesses.”

    We agree, here.

    (Malcolm): “…Socialists believe as firmly in Intelligent Design as any Bible-belt Baptist, only in economics instead of biology.”
    (Sam: “You DO realize that the free market is as much designed as any socialist economy? It requires extensive effort by the government to meet the conditions required for a free market. BOTH, like all human systems are ‘designed’.”
    (Malcolm): “We agree that the legal regime which defines free-market capitalism is designed. We disagree about the ‘as much’. Fundamentally, the Austrian criticism of socialism, going back to contemporary critics of Marx, is that economic design’, in the sense in which socialists propose to design economic outcomes, is impossible since managers will not have (and can never have) the information they need to prescribe as well as socialists promise or as well as a market delivers.”
    (Sam): “Except in the cases of natural monopolies. Or situations where the tradgedy of the commons applies. Or for public goods. Are for extremely long term projects. Or…”
    (Malcolm): “The welfare-economic analysis that finds a welfare gain from State operation of an industry in the cases you raise above makes several large assumptions. First, “natural monopoly” is dependent on technology in many cases. Cell phones ended the case for the telecom monopoly. Cheap power might make in-house sewage treatment less wasteful than current technology which used good clean water for transport. State assumption of responsibility for waste disposal reduces the incentive for recycling.

    The tragedy of the commons is an iterated, multi-party prisoner’s dilemma, with memory. The analysis which finds ‘market failure’ in this case does not imply that State actors will outperform non-State actors.”
    (Sam): “The market ALWAYS fails in the tradgedy of the commons. The state SOMETIMES fails. There is a major differance.”
    (Sam): “…a tragedy of the commons is when each individual perusing their own self interest results in disaster. In free market conditions this ALWAYS happens.”

    Sam appears to grasp the basic idea and express it badly.
    a) Whether a disaster ensues from a tragedy of the commons depends, in part, on the value of the resource at issue. For example, species go extinct all the time. Unless the human condition is unending “disaster”, the extinction of one rare butterfly doesn’t qualify as a disaster. If the species goes extinct as a result of overeager collectors abusing a commons, we have an example of a tragedy of the commons that did not result in “disaster”. A species might not even be driven to extinction by abuse of the commons but only to such rarity that further collection doesn’t pay.
    b) The market (title and the law of contracts) eliminates the commons.

    (Sam): “It can only be prevented under traditional economics (aka all the people involved know each other and work together) or state regulation.”

    We have an issue here with the way we use words.

    (Jim): “The tragedy of the commons can be resolved via regulation or by internalizing externalities through the assignment of property rights; your discussion seems to assume that there can be no agreement of governing rules or of property rights in the absence of state intervention.”
    (Malcolm): “The system of title and markets is one solution to the tragedy of the commons. Another is collective ownership and limited use (e.g., fishing licenses, grazing licenses). A third is regulation. Which system works best in a given case is an empirical question.”
    (Sam): “I am contesting that. You have to give an example to show my claim is wrong. Come on-logical debate 101!”

    a)Please try be civil. Knock off the condescention,
    b) What claim?

    I’m not really sure we have a factual disagreement here. Laws are State actions. The system of private property (title) and contract law (i.e., the free market) is one method by which the State addresses tragedies of the commons. Title to (for example) land eliminates the problem of overgrazing the commons by abolishing the commons. No commons, no tragedy. Exclusive grazing rights on public land or fishing licenses on lakes or coastal waters work similarly. It’s not a case of the free market OR State action, but of the free market versus other kinds of State intervention.

    (Malcolm): “The analysis of “public goods” is a mirror image or photographic negative of the analysis of the tragedy of the commons. Generally, a public good is the mitigation of a public bad (a tragedy of the commons). The assumption by State actors of responsibility for the production of public goods does not solve the problem of market failure, but only transforms it, since corporate oversight is a public good and the State itself is a corporation.”
    (Sam): “The state isn’t a corportation. A corporation is legally recognized as a person and exists to profit its shareholders. The US does not have a legal idenity and exists to further the goals of its citizens. It hasn’t turned a profit since the 1890s.”
    (Malcolm): “Churches, unions, think tanks and independent schools are corporations. So is the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu, which is represented in civil suits by an individual called ‘the Corporation Counsel’.”
    (Sam): “No they aren’t. A corporation is an entity that has the legal rights of a person. Churches do not, unions do not, think tanks do not and private schools might (depends on wheter they have been incorportated).”

    Read the US code. Unions are 501-c(5) corporations. They are legal people, which can own property, enter into contracts and sue and be sued. Many independent schools and think tanks are 501-c(3) corporations. US States, counties, most cities and all incorporated townships are corporations.

    My point, in asserting that assumption by State actors for the production of “public goods” does not solve the problem of “market failure” but only transformes it, does not hinge on the tax status of the organization. As I said, “corporate oversight” is a public good. Whether or not you call the State a corporation, for exactly the same reason that activist shareholders provide a “public good” when they dig into a corporation’s books, activist public citizens provide a public good when they dig into the operations of the State. Just as effective corporate oversight requires outside auditors, effective oversight of State functios requires outside auditors. The State cannot provide the “public good” of oversight of State functions. Thus: assumption by State actors for the production of “public goods” does not solve the problem of “market failure” but only transformes it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    Sorry: that’s “assumption by State actors of responsibility for the production of public goods does not solve the problem of ‘market failure’ but only transforms it.”

    (Malcolm): “I accept the argument that ‘public education’ is to a considerable degree a ‘public good’ (broadcast radio and schools yield positive externalities for which producers who lack the power to tax cannot charge).”
    (Sam): “You want education to be non-government?”

    Yes. What we in the US call “the public school system” originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and survives on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the taxpayers’ $500 billion+ per year K-12 school subsidy. Taxpayers get nothing from the current system that they would not get from an unsubsidized, unregulated market in education services, except drug abuse, vandalism, and violence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “Strenuous disagreement. I recommend P.T. Bauet’s __Dissent on Development__.”

    Given that neither of us is an actual economist, and both of us are supply books, lets go with explaning rationales.

    “Whether a disaster ensues from a tragedy of the commons depends, in part, on the value of the resource at issue. For example, species go extinct all the time. Unless the human condition is unending “disaster”, the extinction of one rare butterfly doesn’t qualify as a disaster. If the species goes extinct as a result of overeager collectors abusing a commons, we have an example of a tragedy of the commons that did not result in “disaster”. A species might not even be driven to extinction by abuse of the commons but only to such rarity that further collection doesn’t pay. “

    It is called the sixth great extinction. We are causing it.

    “The market (title and the law of contracts) eliminates the commons. “

    It is called the ocean and the atmosphere.

    “We have an issue here with the way we use words. “

    Basic economic text. There are three ways of running things- state control, market or traditional.

    “a)Please try be civil. Knock off the condescention,
    b) What claim? “

    You are claiming the tradgedy of the commons that occurs due to the market can be solved by the market.

    “I’m not really sure we have a factual disagreement here. Laws are State actions. The system of private property (title) and contract law (i.e., the free market) is one method by which the State addresses tragedies of the commons. Title to (for example) land eliminates the problem of overgrazing the commons by abolishing the commons. No commons, no tragedy. Exclusive grazing rights on public land or fishing licenses on lakes or coastal waters work similarly. It’s not a case of the free market OR State action, but of the free market versus other kinds of State intervention. “

    Exclusive fishing rights… what do we call that? A monopoly!

    So the only way the government can ensure that there isn’t a tradgedy of the commons for certain resources is a government run monopoly.

    “Read the US code. Unions are 501-c(5) corporations. They are legal people, which can own property, enter into contracts and sue and be sued. Many independent schools and think tanks are 501-c(3) corporations. US States, counties, most cities and all incorporated townships are corporations. “

    That is great. Where are the share holder meeting for states?

    “Thus: assumption by State actors for the production of “public goods” does not solve the problem of “market failure” but only transformes it.”

    The state is not monolithic. Differant branches easily provide oversight over the others. Of course, outside oversight is nice and helps keep corruption in check, but is completely irrelevant to the topic.

    “Yes. What we in the US call “the public school system” originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and survives on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the taxpayers’ $500 billion+ per year K-12 school subsidy. Taxpayers get nothing from the current system that they would not get from an unsubsidized, unregulated market in education services, except drug abuse, vandalism, and violence.”

    Remember- the only country on the entire planet is the US. ALL other countries- and their systems- are assumed not to exist. Because, for some reason, the US is special.

    And a free market in schools would end up with triage- some people get the best, some people get average and some people get NONE. If you don’t have money the market doesn’t care about you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    On overfishing:

    http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12253181

    Individual transferable quotas aren’t a monopoly, and they appear to work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    July 1975 | Reason Interview
    REAGAN: “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

    (Sam): “”The third world did better under state control than it did latter under the neo-liberal economics- I believe the numbers are +1% growth rate versus +.6% growth rate over the comparative decades.”
    (Jim): “You’re not comparing state control to lack of state control unless you’re looking at failed states like Somalia, but opening up trade has clearly benefited the developing world; check out stats at http://www.gapminder.org/
    (Sam): “I am comparing the states that used state control over their economy and then switched to neoliberalism. My source is the book Bad Samaritans”.
    (Malcolm): “”Strenuous disagreement. I recommend P.T. Bauet’s “Dissent on Development”
    (Sam): “Given that neither of us is an actual economist, and both of us are supply books, lets go with explaning rationales.”

    Apres vous.

    (Malcolm): “Whether a disaster ensues from a tragedy of the commons depends, in part, on the value of the resource at issue. For example, species go extinct all the time. Unless the human condition is unending ‘disaster’, the extinction of one rare butterfly doesn’t qualify as a disaster. If the species goes extinct as a result of overeager collectors abusing a commons, we have an example of a tragedy of the commons that did not result in ‘disaster’. A species might not even be driven to extinction by abuse of the commons but only to such rarity that further collection doesn’t pay.”
    (Sam): “It is called the sixth great extinction. We are causing it.”

    To what does “it” refer? My point was that a tragedy of the commons does not always yield “disaster”. If the commons contains an insignificant resourse, abuse of the commons causes only small damage. Take an obvious example: edible vegetation in a polity where commercial farms produce most food. Around here, breadfruit trees on public land seldom yield ripe fruit, since people pick fruit early (a tragedy of the commons: patience does not pay). We do not see “disaster” because most food does not originate in the commons.

    (Malcolm): “”The system of title and markets is one solution to the tragedy of the commons”
    (Sam): “I am contesting that. You have to give an example to show my claim is wrong. Come on- logical debate 101!”
    (Malcolm): “”a)Please try be civil. Knock off the condescention,
    b) What claim?”

    (Malcolm): “The market (title and the law of contracts) eliminates the commons.”
    (Sam): “It is called the ocean and the atmosphere.”

    Again, to what does “it” refer?

    (Sam): “Basic economic text. There are three ways of running things- state control, market or traditional.”
    (Malcolm): “”a)Please try be civil. Knock off the condescention,
    b) What claim?”
    (Sam): “You are claiming the tradgedy of the commons that occurs due to the market can be solved by the market.”

    Look: “You have to give an example to show my (Sam) claim is wrong. Come on-logical debate 101!”

    a) Pleasee try be civil,
    b) What claim?
    c) Are you saying that markets created the ocean and the atmosphere?
    d) Governments make laws. The system of title (private property) and laws of contract, collectively “the market” is one strategy by which the State can address the tragedy of the commons. Another is State ownership of the commons and limited (licensed) use. A third is State ownership and State operation of the harvesting machinery (fishing boats, etc.). Regulation grades smoothly into State operation, so we really have a continuum, not a trichotomy.

    (Malcolm): “Exclusive grazing rights on public land or fishing licenses on lakes or coastal waters work similarly. It’s not a case of the free market OR State action, but of the free market versus other kinds of State intervention.”
    (Sam): “Exclusive fishing rights… what do we call that? A monopoly!”

    No. Ever had a fishing license? Were you the only fisherman on the lake? The only hunter in the woods? “Exclusive” need not mean “exclusive of all but one”.

    (Sam): “So the only way the government can ensure that there isn’t a tragedy of the commons for certain resources is a government run monopoly.”

    Earlier, Sam wrote that markets –always– failed in the instance of a tragedy of the commons. Now the rationale for State operation applies to “certain resources”. That’s progress, I suppose.

    Let’s pursue this. For what resources is a State-operated monopoly the only mechanism which will “ensure” that a tragedy of the commons will not occur?

    Corporate oversight as a public good. The State itself is a corporation. The State itself cannot provide the public good of oversight of State functions.

    (Malcolm): “Read the US code. Unions are 501-c(5) corporations. They are legal people, which can own property, enter into contracts and sue and be sued. Many independent schools and think tanks are 501-c(3) corporations. US States, counties, most cities and all incorporated townships are corporations.”
    (Sam): “That is great. Where are the share holder meeting for states?”

    What does that have to do with anything? Unions, churches, States, universities, and cities are corporations. Neither tax status nor the details of ownership (member owned, publicly traded, family owned) determines status as a corporation.

    (Malcolm): “Thus: assumption by State actors of responsibility for the production of “public goods” does not solve the problem of ‘market failure’ but only transformes it.”

    (Sam): “The state is not monolithic. Differant branches easily provide oversight over the others. Of course, outside oversight is nice and helps keep corruption in check, but is completely irrelevant to the topic.”

    Hardly “irrelevant”. This is the fundamental issue in this entire conversation. The analysis which finds “market failure” in tragedies of the commons, public goods, and natural monopoly and which derives a conclusion about the superiority of a State-monoppoly enterprise in this case (these cases) makes huge assumptions about the information available to State actors and about the incentive structure they face.

    (Sam): “You want education to be non-government?”
    (Malcolm): “Yes. What we in the US call “the public school system” originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and survives on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the taxpayers’ $500 billion+ per year K-12 school subsidy. Taxpayers get nothing from the current system that they would not get from an unsubsidized, unregulated market in education services, except drug abuse, vandalism, and violence.”
    (Sam): “Remember- the only country on the entire planet is the US. ALL other countries- and their systems- are assumed not to exist. Because, for some reason, the US is special.”

    If you had a point, it got lost in the sarcasm. What was it?

    (Sam): “…a free market in schools would end up with triage- some people get the best, some people get average and some people get NONE. If you don’t have money the market doesn’t care about you.”

    False on many counts.
    a) Not (school = education). Thomas Edison was homeschooled and started work at 13. Hiram Maxim left school at 13 and apprenticed. Richard Arkwright, Thomas Highs, and James Hargreaves never attended school. Cyrus McCormick never attended school. Mary Putnam Jacobi was homeschooled. David Farragut joined the US Navy at 9, went to sea at 11, and commanded his first ship at 15. Robert Fitzroy attended the Admiralty school for 20 months, between age 12 and 14.

    School can be expensive, but education is potentially cheap. If a State-monopoly enterprise supplies school, school will impose enormous costs on students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers.

    b) Government is not some God which sees every sparrow fall.

    “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” –George Washington

    “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” –Mao Tse Dung

    What quality of education does the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il provide? For that matter, what quality of school does the city of Detroit provide? The State commands )in the US, on average) $12,000 per year per pupil. It commands 12 years of their time, six hours per day, 180 days per year, and gives too many of them nothing. It deprives them of the opportunity to learn vocational skills.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    (Jim): “On overfishing:…”

    Thanks for the link. Interesting. Oceanic fisheries provide an interestng example of how technology altered the impact of human exploitation of the commons. Some Pacific island cultures granted title to specific patches of reef. This works fine for non-migratory species. Some islands banned spearing with scuba gear. This limits harvests to the top 100feet, pretty much. I would like to see a ban on static nets (anything wou put into the water and leave) and fish traps. On the other hand, if fish farming in the mid-ocean (pens in deep water) reduces the cost of fish, perhaps the commons would not see such predatory exploitation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “Individual transferable quotas aren’t a monopoly, and they appear to work.”

    Nope, just government regulation. The privitization is giving individuals long term incentives, which is enforced by the government- or as libertarians like to say at the point of a gun :)

    “The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.””

    Which is why they favor the death penalty? I can’t think of a larger example of interfering with individual freedom, and conservatives support it.

    “Apres vous.”

    ?

    “To what does “it” refer? My point was that a tragedy of the commons does not always yield “disaster”. If the commons contains an insignificant resourse, abuse of the commons causes only small damage. Take an obvious example: edible vegetation in a polity where commercial farms produce most food. Around here, breadfruit trees on public land seldom yield ripe fruit, since people pick fruit early (a tragedy of the commons: patience does not pay). We do not see “disaster” because most food does not originate in the commons. “

    I’m not getting your point- isn’t a valuable resource one of the requirements?

    “Again, to what does “it” refer? “

    The commons. Or are we going to start dividing up the atmosphere. The way we deal with that is… government regulation.

    “Look: “You have to give an example to show my (Sam) claim is wrong. Come on-logical debate 101!””

    I’m using the definition of the term. You are saying it can be solved by markets… even though it is caused by markets and they only operate one way- there isn’t multiple varients on the ideal free market.

    “Regulation grades smoothly into State operation, so we really have a continuum, not a trichotomy. “

    Let me be honest- I have no idea what your ideology is.

    “No. Ever had a fishing license? Were you the only fisherman on the lake? The only hunter in the woods? “Exclusive” need not mean “exclusive of all but one”. “

    It means you are artifically limiting the pool of canidates. If you do it enough, you get an oligopoly. Especially if all the individuals in the industry know each other.

    “Earlier, Sam wrote that markets –always– failed in the instance of a tragedy of the commons. Now the rationale for State operation applies to “certain resources”. That’s progress, I suppose. “

    Not really. Other cases need regulation.

    “Let’s pursue this. For what resources is a State-operated monopoly the only mechanism which will “ensure” that a tragedy of the commons will not occur? “

    Rationing. When resources are scarce, state control of distribution is essential.

    “Corporate oversight as a public good. The State itself is a corporation. The State itself cannot provide the public good of oversight of State functions. “

    Because…?

    “What does that have to do with anything? Unions, churches, States, universities, and cities are corporations. Neither tax status nor the details of ownership (member owned, publicly traded, family owned) determines status as a corporation.”

    Oh. What was the point of this line of arguing again?

    “Hardly “irrelevant”. This is the fundamental issue in this entire conversation. The analysis which finds “market failure” in tragedies of the commons, public goods, and natural monopoly and which derives a conclusion about the superiority of a State-monoppoly enterprise in this case (these cases) makes huge assumptions about the information available to State actors and about the incentive structure they face. “

    Assumptions which CAN be true- states have made and run succesful companies.

    “If you had a point, it got lost in the sarcasm. What was it? “

    Your entire rebuttal. If that is true, why does every other country on Earth have state run schooling?

    “a) Not (school = education). Thomas Edison was homeschooled and started work at 13. Hiram Maxim left school at 13 and apprenticed. Richard Arkwright, Thomas Highs, and James Hargreaves never attended school. Cyrus McCormick never attended school. Mary Putnam Jacobi was homeschooled. David Farragut joined the US Navy at 9, went to sea at 11, and commanded his first ship at 15. Robert Fitzroy attended the Admiralty school for 20 months, between age 12 and 14. “

    If you don’t have a HS diploma, Burger King won’t hire you. Today is not the 19th century.

    “School can be expensive, but education is potentially cheap. If a State-monopoly enterprise supplies school, school will impose enormous costs on students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers. “

    State reasons.

    “b) Government is not some God which sees every sparrow fall. “

    Which would apply if I was a communist. I’m not.

    “”Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” –George Washington “

    I am a pyromaniac.

    “”Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” –Mao Tse Dung “

    “A government strong enough to help you is also strong enough to take all your possessions… although, quite frankly so are 6 or 7 guys with a van.”

    “What quality of education does the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il provide? For that matter, what quality of school does the city of Detroit provide? The State commands )in the US, on average) $12,000 per year per pupil. It commands 12 years of their time, six hours per day, 180 days per year, and gives too many of them nothing. It deprives them of the opportunity to learn vocational skills.”

    I believe it consists of “obey Kim”.

    As for the US educational system, what is your point? We should simply go back to the caste system? Because vocational jobs pay little except the skilled ones.. which will drop like a stone if they get inundated.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01294436437292859972 Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    (Malcolm): “The system of title and markets is one solution to the tragedy of the commons. Another is collective ownership and limited use (e.g., fishing licenses, grazing licenses). A third is regulation. Which system works best in a given case is an empirical question.”
    (Sam): “I am contesting that. You have to give an example to show my claim is wrong. Come on-logical debate 101!”
    (Malcolm): “a)Please try be civil. Knock off the condescention,
    b) What claim?”
    (Sam): “You are claiming the tradgedy of the commons that occurs due to the market can be solved by the market.”
    (Malcolm): “Look: “You have to give an example to show my (Sam) claim is wrong. Come on-logical debate 101!”
    (Sam): “I’m using the definition of the term. You are saying it can be solved by markets… even though it is caused by markets and they only operate one way- there isn’t multiple varients on the ideal free market.”

    To what “claim” did “my claim” refer? Let’s have a direct quote from a post by Sam Skinner, please.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01587994908818534357 Samuel Skinner

    “The system of title and markets is one solution to the tragedy of the commons.”


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