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Questions on the "Robber Barons".

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Justin Laws Posted: Wed, Dec 16 2009 10:57 PM

One of my facebook friends likes to post notes on a verity of subjects, one just happened to be about the "Myth of the Robber Barons" (was for, not against), which was pretty darn cool, stuff some or most of you would be familiar wiith.  One of his facebook friends posted a response to it.  How much truth is there to this?  I don't have much history knowledge locked away in my head.

 

This is in regards to such people as J.J. Hill, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt, etc etc.

 

While I agree that government intervention into these businesses didn't save the American economy or protect us from monopolies by any means, I also disagree with the notion that these "market entrepreneurs" made their fortunes solely (or even primarily) on their own ingenuity.

DiLorezno makes the distinction between political entrepreneurs, who are the true robber barons, and market entrepreneurs, who make up the "hallmark of genuine capitalism". But then, some of the figures he presents don't even fit his own definition of a market entrepreneur, like James J. Hill for instance. They may have opposed government intervention into the market, but they didn't fret over calling in the National Guard to deal with "unruly" workers.

DiLorenzo also talks of the "superior efficiency and lower costs" offered to customers by Hill, Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt, but leaves out one very important aspect of how they managed to lower costs and prices - BY EXPLOITING THEIR WORKFORCE!! This is something these market entrepreneurs certainly have in common with the "political entrepreneurs" - they were all anti-worker, vigorously driving down wages and opposing any attempts at worker organization to make demands for better pay or work conditions.

I'll start with James J. Hill. Hill may have opposed government subsidies, cartel price-fixing, and advocated for free trade, but he had no problem calling for government intervention to break a strike. In 1894, after he had slashed wages and laid off employees, workers on his railway in Montana went on strike to protest the attacks on their livelihood. After failing to break the strike himself, Hill begged President Cleveland to send in federal troops to break the strike. Cleveland refused. Unable to bring in government force to violently crush the strike, Hill grudgingly agreed to arbitration. [ http://www.jstor.org/stable/3640376?seq=5 ]

Some of Hill's other comments about telegraph workers who went on strike further reveal his anti-worker sentiment. Of the strikers he said, "I'll see to it that any of those who have been active in bringing about this strike will never again enter the employ of the road." He also said that men "who will plot to embroil a railroad and its employes just at the beginning of the season, when they know a heavy movement of traffic is expected, as at the present with the approach of the crop moving, do not deserve to be on the pay rolls of any road." The message Hill was sending is very clear - any efforts to obtain better pay or conditions, and thus threaten his profit levels were unacceptable. [ http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=2&res=9B06E2DE1F3DE633A25753C1A96E9C946497D6CF ]

Next on the list is JD Rockefeller - another great "market entrepreneur". Rockefeller was embroiled in a number of labor battles throughout his long career as a capitalist fat cat and he commonly employed strikebreaking tactics against any attempt of workers to organize and demand better pay or better conditions. One of his most famous instances of strikebreaking occurred in 1913-1914 in Ludlow, Colorado. After tensions rose between Rockefeller's Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation and the miners, workers went on strike demanding better pay and conditions, as well as union recognition in 1913. Rockefeller (and his son), being the free market gurus they were, decided not to employ government troops to attempt to break the strike but instead hired private thugs from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to attack them. His company even rigged up an armored car, equipped with a machine gun, called the "Death Special", to attack unionists and striking workers. Eventually, the National Guard was brought in to help break the strike, but success of the Guardsmen was not immediate. The conflict was sporadic but finally came to a head on April 20, 1914 when Guardsmen set up a machine gun and opened fire on the strikers' camp. Dozens were killed in the violence, including women and children (some of them infants). No Guardsmen were even convicted in this excessive use of force. Rockefeller may have passed his savings onto his customers, but he would rather kill his workers than pass the savings onto them as well. [See http://libcom.org/history/1914-the-ludlow-massacre and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_massacre ]

Now, Cornelius Vanderbilt passed away before the biggest battle against workers happened on his railways. But they had their roots in the wage cuts he had approved before he died in 1876. In July of 1877, a little over six months after his death, workers went on strike all over the country in protest to the 10% wage cuts ordered by railway owners (including Vanderbilt). This led to an extraordinary amount of violence, culminating in a two-week long insurrection raging in different parts of the country. Though Vanderbilt didn’t live to see it, the way he treated his workers created the conditions for it. And I’m 100% certain he would have supported the tactics his company used against the strikers had he lived long enough to mandate them himself. [ For a little background see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Railroad_Strike_of_1877 ]

What all of these men have in common is that they’d rather resort to violence to break workers’ organization than to yield to their (often modest) demands. In many instances, strikers were slaughtered by force of hired thugs or federal troops (so much for a lack of government intervention into the economy) simply for demanding to not work in conditions nearing slavery. The savings produced by Rockefeller, Hill, and others may have benefited the consumer, but they sure as hell didn’t benefit the people who worked for them and made their ridiculously high profits possible.

 

Afterwards, I asked this:

 

I was about to defend J.J. Hill, on one account, that if there were no government in place, to begin with, there would be no army for him to beg for help from. But then you mentioned Rockefeller hiring a PDA to attack his workers.. wtf. Hmm.Does our current technology allow for this to never/rarely happen again? Were those different times? With our current knowledge and how-to, can we... hmm.An interesting, ignorant thought: is the tipping system the market's answer to minimum wage? As far as I know, there is no law affecting a bar or restaurants wage system. Employers just decided to let the customers pay his/her employees for them.Of course.. I make quite a bit of cash at my bar. Roughly 24k a year (two years running, working on my third). And instead of the usual $2.13/hour you see in most places, my boss pays us 5$/hour on top of tips and gives us benefits for working here. Discount on the booze! Woo!

And then he responded with:

I guess it really depends on the employer, but yes the capacity still exists to hire private mercenaries to break strikes. For instance, the Pinkerton Detective Agency which was used to break the Homestead Strike in 1892, still exists as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations. There are a number of companies that have private mercenary forces - Blackwater (Xe), DynCorp, etc. And I'm sure none of them would hesitate to take up a contract with a company to break a strike, intimidate workers, etc, so long as the price is right. That goes for whether there's a government in existence or not. I'm not saying every business would use such drastic measures, but clearly there's a historical precedent for business owners willing to use extreme measures in order to avoid paying workers more (because it will cost them more).  Some bosses and businesspeople are more benevolent than others. Mine for instance, is not (I work at a movie theater). We get paid minimum wage and get one 15 minute break per shift (whether you work 4, 6, or 8 hours it doesn't matter). On top of this, they are always trying to send workers home and work with a bare bones staff because they don't want to pay any of us (even though it's only $7.25/hour!). And this makes us work even harder for no more pay. So we boost their profits and get none of the benefits of it. And this isn't any big corporation either - it's a local business. It isn't just the big cartels, monopolies, and corporations that are awful - I think this points to a more systematic problem.

What do you all think?

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Dec 16 2009 11:15 PM

http://mises.org/media/1164

More Robert LeFerve tapes here.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Destroy the myth of worker exploitation and the rest of his argument falls apart.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
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AJ replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 3:40 AM

He's right only on the small point some of the "market capitalists" did use the government when it suited them, but as for worker exploitation he is completely dead in the water. If you can't exploit someone without their consent, it's not exploitation.

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Alright.. but doesn't this completely ignore the fact that someone like Rockefeller hired a PDA to attack his own workers for going on strike?  And actually killing people in the process?  I understand Hill was not willing to hire a PDA, and when his plea for government soldiers wasn't met, he had to settle his own dispute in negotiations.

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 7:54 AM

Don't apologize for the robber barons. Just assume they act the way everyone says they act. You can still win theoretically.

Capitalism in America was messed up because of the oversupply of labor. There were tons of immigrants coming from all over the world because their own countries were worse. So flood the market with supply, and you get low prices for labor.

There would have never been an oversupply of workers if other countries had been capitalist. You need more free markets, not less. Imagine if there were only one capitalist and everyone else were living in feudal slavery. Well everyone wants to go work for the capitalist so they compete till the wage they get is just barely better than feudal life. Now imagine if everyone could be a capitalist... suddenly there is also competition between employers which raises working conditions for laborers.

The exploitation theory of wages is unable to explain why anyone ever gets paid more than minimum wage. Derp.

And in spite of the oversupply of labor, you can't force anyone to move to America and work for dirt. This was still an improvement over all the alternatives people had going for them. It provided growing wealth for the common man like the world has never seen before. So what if you can point out a couple of anecdotes about workers getting abused? It is shameful and lamentable, but is it statistically significant? Nope. 1830 onwards: wages up productivity up health up working week down.

And what if we did this again. What if we let all immigrants come to America because their own countries are too messed up to be capitalist? Half a billion would flock to America, and they would live in poverty working their butts off for a couple of generations. But they would choose to come here because the alternative is even worse.

But no, all our socialist utopias have closed borders for fear that foreigners would dilute our wealth. Ironically, I think the free market comes over as more compassionate.

On a more technical note, you need to press that you're not opposed to central planning but coerced central planning. If socialism is the way to go you can make socialist communes voluntary. Go be Amish if you want. People have the choice between voluntary socialism and voluntary capitalism. People tend to choose a mix of both (see old fraternal societies).

And even if capitalism were this bad, the state could never be better. Sure it is physically possible for the government not to be corrupt. But whether the government is controlled by elites or by a majority, there can be no check on their power because they are judge in their own case. Government power is only limited by self restraint. No one would ever agree to a contract like this in real life. I would rather sign a lifetime plan with AT&T than the social contract.

Whoops I was born. According to government apologists I just signed the social contract... (rant rant rant)

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Well, thank you, Snowflake.  I'll mull this over.

I'm still quite new to economics, I have yet to dig into any of the big books (MES/HA/C:TOE).

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krazy kaju replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 10:14 AM

Daniel:

Destroy the myth of worker exploitation and the rest of his argument falls apart.

^This.

The entrepreneurs DiLorenzo mentions didn't exploit workers. They provided them with jobs that they voluntarily chose. The workers who went on strike often rioted and violated other peoples' property rights. Since the "legitimate" role of government is to protect property rights, it only makes sense that entrepreneurs like Hill would call in the National Guard against the thieves, criminals, and extortionists who went on strike.

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I think he is confused about what 'strike breaking' is... possibly because he is confused about what striking meant at that time in history.

'Striking' did not mean that workers simply en-mass boycotted the workplace till demands were met as negotiating tactic.  It was common practice to picket (or even occupy the workplace) using illegitimate violence against 'scabs' and 'strikebreakers' so that the boycott would have an effect (i.e. that the workers would not simply be replaced by others grateful for work).

As such, the violence visited on strikers, picketing, on location, and stopping willing workers from going about ttheir business, in these historical episodes was often a case of self-defense; Self-defense of the owner vis his capital goods, and of willing 'scabs' and 'picket line crossers'

StrikeBreaking Forces were thereto dissipate the illegitimate and violent pickets, to defend scabs from the violence of strikers and the like. It did not mean that boycotting workers were beaten up in their homes until they came back as slaves to their former positions.......

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 10:54 AM

You know you could just link him this thread. You don't have to fight him alone.

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Snowflake:
You don't have to fight him alone.

You don't have to fight period.  If someone disagrees with you, and they aren't willing to listen to an exposition of the facts, then just move on with your life.  Find happiness.  Eat ice cream.  Paint your toenails.

Or better yet, talk to someone who doesn't have established positions or an ideological bias to overcome.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Justin Laws:

Alright.. but doesn't this completely ignore the fact that someone like Rockefeller hired a PDA to attack his own workers for going on strike?  And actually killing people in the process?  I understand Hill was not willing to hire a PDA, and when his plea for government soldiers wasn't met, he had to settle his own dispute in negotiations.

Someone like Rockefeller "attacked" workers, because those workers would go on strike, trespass and occupy the factory, and attack the "scabs."

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
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Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Daniel:

Justin Laws:

Alright.. but doesn't this completely ignore the fact that someone like Rockefeller hired a PDA to attack his own workers for going on strike?  And actually killing people in the process?  I understand Hill was not willing to hire a PDA, and when his plea for government soldiers wasn't met, he had to settle his own dispute in negotiations.

Someone like Rockefeller "attacked" workers, because those workers would go on strike, trespass and occupy the factory, and attack the "scabs."

Do you have resources for this claim?

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liberty student:

Snowflake:
You don't have to fight him alone.

You don't have to fight period.  If someone disagrees with you, and they aren't willing to listen to an exposition of the facts, then just move on with your life.  Find happiness.  Eat ice cream.  Paint your toenails.

Or better yet, talk to someone who doesn't have established positions or an ideological bias to overcome.

I have yet to formulate my "attack".   hehehe

I wanted to find out the truth behind his claims and to find my own resources to meet his own.  I think he's a mutually agreeable chap who may be as lacking in historic knowledge as myself, so who knows where this will go.

side note: As for finding someone else to talk to... I've been working on my 17 year old cousin.  She's a smart lass, so maybe I can get her to see what's up.

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 2:15 PM

Idk if you saw this thread but it might be useful. Its mostly theoretical/rhetorical but it tells you where to go.

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Justin Laws:
Do you have resources for this claim?

Wikipedia is full of it. pick a famous strike, read about the violence the striking workers did to scabs and how they impeded business.

 

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

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Well, thanks, folks.  I appreciate the help.  I'll start digging in and then show this bloke what's what.

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scineram replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 2:23 PM

Why are mercenaries needed to break up strikes? To mail out firing notices?

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 3:22 PM

But isn't it pretty well argued in such works as In Restraint of Trade by Shaffer, The Triumph of Conservatism by Kolko and various other sources that throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century that state economic interference, right down to the way it enforced and defined property titles, created artificially centralized and aggregated business structures and that such organizations as Standard Oil and Wal-Mart would probably not be possible without it? And I don't mean the direct patronization of government, but simply the fact that the structure and operation of 'big business' is itself somewhat anti-thetical to free-markets? I'm not an expert economist or anything, but I think many of the critiques the individualist anarchists had of the people like Vanderbilt were correct in that, whatever virtues he possessed, his accumulation and wealth and methods of doing business were simply not natural results in laissez-faire.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 3:59 PM

Htut:
the structure and operation of 'big business' is itself somewhat anti-thetical to free-markets?
Maybe you'll have to expand on this more. Its hard to tell what you mean by big business. None of us defend corporatism, but if a single company were so efficient that it dominated the market and became the only provider of its service, we would defend that (and probably sing its praises)

The Austrian theory of competition states that the number of firms operating in the market at any point in time doesn't really matter so long as new firms can be created to enter the market. So even if you only had one producer of a particular good, there would theoretically be no problem of monopoly since another entrepreneur could bid away unsatisfied customers.

The statist history of "natural monopolies" and cartels forming in the market is bogus. Basically if you look for historical examples of either of those you can't find them until governments start offering exclusive charters to utility companies and granting monopoly to licensing agencies like the AMA.

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:08 PM

Snowflake:

Htut:
the structure and operation of 'big business' is itself somewhat anti-thetical to free-markets?
Maybe you'll have to expand on this more. Its hard to tell what you mean by big business. None of us defend corporatism, but if a single company were so efficient that it dominated the market and became the only provider of its service, we would defend that (and probably sing its praises)

The Austrian theory of competition states that the number of firms operating in the market at any point in time doesn't really matter so long as new firms can be created to enter the market. So even if you only had one producer of a particular good, there would theoretically be no problem of monopoly since another entrepreneur could bid away unsatisfied customers.

The statist history of "natural monopolies" and cartels forming in the market is bogus. Basically if you look for historical examples of either of those you can't find them until governments start offering exclusive charters to utility companies and granting monopoly to licensing agencies like the AMA.

 

I'm not arguing with the Mengerian school of economics. I am arguing that the so-called 'neutral' protection of property rights by states throughout history, including the era of classical 'capitalism', were artificial, exploitative and not the product of the free market. They artificially distorted property claims, gave inequitable force to the property claims of concentrated capital and made possible the 'big industries' we are familiar with. State-enforced property rights, quite simply, have nothing to do with laissez-faire.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:19 PM

IC. My history isn't so fantastic. Could you give an example of "exploitative" property rights that were enforced?

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AJ replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:27 PM

Tom Woods gives the example of how private suits against polluters were made much less viable in the industrial revolution, which seems already an example of the state distorting the market (and moving further from "libertarian" law). I think the reason we think of late 19th century as very free market is that it was - relatively, and that's the operative word. There were still significant state interventions that distorted enterprise in probably very substantial ways.

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Austrians say there is nothing wrong with keeping down wages to whatever the market will bear. If you decrease wages you can hire more people. During the 19th century the prices of goods fell consistently - just like computer prices do today. Personally I'd be happy to see my wages go down 25% if I could buy a proper house for $10,000 like you could in the old days.

I agree that State intervention in strikes was probably not a good idea.

It must be pointed out that strikers are also intervening violently. They're refusing to allow the owners use their property and violently would attack 'scabs' who were happy to work for the wages offered.

Rothbard has lots to say on unions.

There is something to the idea that the state was breaking up mob rule by breaking up strikes. Personally I'm not entirely sure using violence is a good tactic. Closing up shop and moving is probably a better tactic. Of course this is what ultimately happened where unions were too successful.

 

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:30 PM

Let me answer that with a theoretical question: Do you think that the boundries set and titles granted by the State even as a purely 'neutral' protector of property actually reflect the legitimit claims, in justice and right, to property that individuals had? In other words, do you think Gosplan ever gets its numbers right? Why should property claims, however 'neutral', be any different from the 'neutral' attempt to provide shoes by the State? Title-claim arbitration and protection is a market service like any other, and one that can not logically be carried out by the state any more than the setting of interest rates. Even if we could never point to an empirical example where prices are set too low, or where the 'wrong' color of shoe was manufactured, we would certainly be justified in presuming that many such incidents occured. It is my contention that the 'big industries' of history were in large part a result of the 'neutral' propertarianism of the American, French and English states.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:41 PM

Htut:
Let me answer that with a theoretical question: Do you think that the boundries set and titles granted by the State even as a purely 'neutral' protector of property actually reflect the legitimit claims, in justice and right, to property that individuals had? In other words, do you think Gosplan ever gets its numbers right? Why should property claims, however 'neutral', be any different from the 'neutral' attempt to provide shoes by the State? Title-claim arbitration and protection is a market service like any other, and one that can not logically be carried out by the state any more than the setting of interest rates. Even if we could never point to an empirical example where prices are set too low, or where the 'wrong' color of shoe was manufactured, we would certainly be justified in presuming that many such incidents occured. It is my contention that the 'big industries' of history were in large part a result of the 'neutral' propertarianism of the American, French and English states.
Completely agreed. Though just because provision of property rights would be undesirable to have the state control, it does not follow it will lead to accumulations of wealth. It is conceivable that a state could implement disastrous property rights that would lead no one to accumulate much of any wealth. Or other silly examples. I agree it's obvious that there is a big double-win mechanism at work when you get the state involved, because people who "win" the first rounds of capitalism have a better chance to gain control of the state to keep winning.

What I meant to ask for was an actual example of the state enforcing property rights to the benefit of big businesses. I can think of a few, such as the state's not recognizing easement rights.

I guess it also sort of depends what you think a legitimate claim to property is. I'm inclined to say that the market decides what counts as legitimate, but a lot of people on this site adhere to the lockean homesteading proviso and "first use" theory. I think some of what you're getting at is that you can accumulate lots and lots of capital if you don't have to pay to defend it; contrasted with the free market where whether or not you appropriate something is a function of its value and cost to maintain.

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:47 PM

follow they will lead to accumulations of wealth

Due to the monopolistic and legalistic nature of state propetarian 'justice', those with greater accumulations of capital will have a greater capacity to expand and protect their control of capital even when such claims are unjustified either in extent or en toto. This is just a specific case of the well known tendency of wealthy claimants to win out in state juridical systems.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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AJ replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:50 PM

Htut:
Why should property claims, however 'neutral', be any different from the 'neutral' attempt to provide shoes by the State? Title-claim arbitration and protection is a market service like any other, and one that can not logically be carried out by the state any more than the setting of interest rates.

Did you get this idea from reading Hasnas? If not, you may be interested in that. Anyway, very good insight. You're really taking much of what we talk about here to its logical conclusion, which many here have not been able to yet.

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:51 PM

AJ:

Htut:
Why should property claims, however 'neutral', be any different from the 'neutral' attempt to provide shoes by the State? Title-claim arbitration and protection is a market service like any other, and one that can not logically be carried out by the state any more than the setting of interest rates.

Did you get this idea from reading Hasnas? If not, you may be interested in that. Anyway, very good insight. You're really taking much of what we talk about here to its logical conclusion, which many here have not been able to yet.

 

I haven't read that, but I will now. Thanks :)

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:51 PM

Htut:
This is just a specific case of the well known tendency of wealthy claimants to win out in state juridical systems.
So whats your take on how justice plays out in the market? Many opponents of market justice think the rich will be able to pay their way through as they do in (bad) states.

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:53 PM

Snowflake:

Htut:
This is just a specific case of the well known tendency of wealthy claimants to win out in state juridical systems.
So whats your take on how justice plays out in the market? Many opponents of market justice think the rich will be able to pay their way through as they do in (bad) states.

 

I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 4:58 PM

Htut:
I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.
But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 5:00 PM

Snowflake:

Htut:
I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.
But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

 

Wealthier, more active and more intelligent people will have the edge over their less wealthy, less active and less intelligent brethren whether or not they are in the right. But this is not a 'problem' of the market, it is a fact of reality.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Htut:

Snowflake:

Htut:
I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.
But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

Wealthier, more active and more intelligent people will have the edge over their less wealthy, less active and less intelligent brethren whether or not they are in the right. But this is not a 'problem' of the market, it is a fact of reality.

I would like to throw in the time component into this. You may be wealthier than most people now, but later you may dirt poor because you didn't adapt to the market. You may more intelligent than everyone else, but some one else may come along at a later time and take your spot. In other words, there will always (theoretically and realistically) a wealthier class, but over time, the individuals who compose that class will not always be the same.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 5:15 PM

Daniel:

Htut:

Snowflake:

Htut:
I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.
But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

Wealthier, more active and more intelligent people will have the edge over their less wealthy, less active and less intelligent brethren whether or not they are in the right. But this is not a 'problem' of the market, it is a fact of reality.

I would like to throw in the time component into this. You may be wealthier than most people now, but later you may dirt poor because you didn't adapt to the market. You may more intelligent than everyone else, but some one else may come along at a later time and take your spot. In other words, there will always (theoretically and realistically) a wealthier class, but over time, the individuals who compose that class will not always be the same.

 

Agreed. In fact, it is important to remember they do not compose some unified 'class' at all, but are in fact distinct and heterogenous individuals.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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DD5 replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 5:27 PM

Htut:

Daniel:

Htut:

Snowflake:

Htut:
I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.
But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

Wealthier, more active and more intelligent people will have the edge over their less wealthy, less active and less intelligent brethren whether or not they are in the right. But this is not a 'problem' of the market, it is a fact of reality.

I would like to throw in the time component into this. You may be wealthier than most people now, but later you may dirt poor because you didn't adapt to the market. You may more intelligent than everyone else, but some one else may come along at a later time and take your spot. In other words, there will always (theoretically and realistically) a wealthier class, but over time, the individuals who compose that class will not always be the same.

 

 

Agreed. In fact, it is important to remember they do not compose some unified 'class' at all, but are in fact distinct and heterogenous individuals.

 

Only the market can make the poor man rich and the rich man poor.  

Also, to acquire wealth is always the result of supplying others with the things they want.  Bill Gates is very rich because he made billions of people better off then they were before.  The wealth is simply a reflection of success in making others better off.  It is false to believe that there is ever some trade off between Laisez-faire and something else.  The only "trade off" is that people are envious of the success of others, so they are inclined to accept the myths about "one man's wealth is the cause for another man's poverty".

 

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 5:29 PM

DD5:

Htut:

Daniel:

Htut:

Snowflake:

Htut:
I do not think such arguments make sense in laissez-faire. It is akin to saying that producers of Bentleys will always make more money than producers of cheap porrige.
But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

Wealthier, more active and more intelligent people will have the edge over their less wealthy, less active and less intelligent brethren whether or not they are in the right. But this is not a 'problem' of the market, it is a fact of reality.

I would like to throw in the time component into this. You may be wealthier than most people now, but later you may dirt poor because you didn't adapt to the market. You may more intelligent than everyone else, but some one else may come along at a later time and take your spot. In other words, there will always (theoretically and realistically) a wealthier class, but over time, the individuals who compose that class will not always be the same.

 

 

Agreed. In fact, it is important to remember they do not compose some unified 'class' at all, but are in fact distinct and heterogenous individuals.

 

Only the market can make the poor man rich and the rich man poor.  

Also, to acquire wealth is always the result of supplying others with the things they want.  Bill Gates is very rich because he made billions of people better off then they were before.  The wealth is simply a reflection of success in making others better off.  It is false to believe that there is ever some trade off between Laisez-faire and something else.  The only "trade off" is that people are envious of the success of others, so they are inclined to accept the myths about "one man's wealth is the cause for another man's poverty".

 

Bill Gates was excellent at what he did, yet most of his wealth comes through state enforcement of IP claims and the income of the cartelized industries who won't even try to avoid IP laws due to their being bound up with the entire system themselves.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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AJ replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 5:34 PM

DD5:

I agree on Bill Gates, but strictly speaking he may not be as rich as he is if not for patents, corporate personhood, etc. Or he might be richer. But we cannot really know for sure. We cannot know for absolute sure (although in his case we can be pretty sure) that he is not primarily just the benefactor of state wealth redistribution.

So I think we can add a measure to precision to what you said: "One man's wealth is another man's poverty" is a myth in a fully free market, but it ceases to be a myth to the degree that there is a monopoly state, and becomes less and less of a myth the larger that state grows.

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z1235 replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 6:07 PM

Snowflake:

But rich people buy nice clothes poor people buy cheap clothes... it is conceivable that when a conflict arises between two that the richer might be able to pay his way through even if they are in the wrong.

My strategy has been to concede that even if this does become the case that it is preferable to the status quo where elites do not bear the full cost of enforcement. At least in laissez-faire one must pay all of the expenses.

Are you suggesting that for the wealthy/elite, enforcement would be MORE expensive without a state than within? Who would you say bears the implied remainder of the "full cost of enforcement" for the elite in the status quo? 

Z.

 

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 6:25 PM

z1235:

Are you suggesting that for the wealthy/elite, enforcement would be MORE expensive without a state than within? Who would you say bears the implied remainder of the "full cost of enforcement" for the elite in the status quo? 

Z.

Yes I am saying that the elite take advantage of the current legal system. I think that we all bear the full cost of enforcement through taxes/regulations/other institutional gems.

 

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