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Pablo Escobar - Hero of the Free Market?

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Brian LaSorsa Posted: Sun, Jul 11 2010 1:11 AM

Yes, he had to bribe a lot of people (police, border patrol, etc.) to get his cocaine into the United States and other places. But, considering that cocaine is illegal, does this count as part of the 'free market'?

Also, if you guys haven't read The Accountant's Story, it's Pablo's brother's version of his life despite what the media says. It's an incredibly interesting read.

The man used electromagnetism to drop his cocaine from under the boats to the sea floor, which he then paid diver's to retrieve. He hired chemists to transform the cocaine into plastic objects and then transform them back into cocaine when it entered the United States. Innovation at its best.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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Besides the murders, batteries and other violations of the NAP, yes.

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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violations of the NAP

What's the NAP? Also, Escobar claimed that the majority of murders/bombings blamed on the Medellin Cartel were not actually commissioned by them but instead by separate rebel groups. I don't know why he would lie about that since he's already served his jail sentences and is probably about to die. I've heard other stories about certain murders/bombings being blamed on the Hells Angels that they claim weren't commissioned by them either.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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NAP = Non-aggression principal.

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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"But, considering that cocaine is illegal, does this count as part of the 'free market'?"

No because cocaine is illegal which makes prices much higher than they would be otherwise.

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ravochol replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:07 AM

They use gasoline and other such chemicals to make the "plastic objects" and such out of cocaine --- which then people snort up their nose.  That's a big part of the reason cocaine is bad for you; all of the toxic chemicals that are unneccesarily used in processing it.  Safer alternatives could be used, but like any unregulated capitalists, all the cocaine lords care about is profits, not how many people they kill. Not that the unrepresentative government we have is any better.

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Safer alternatives could be used, but like any unregulated capitalists

Extremely confused. Would that mean you're against the free market?

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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limitgov replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:18 AM

"but like any unregulated capitalists"

perhaps the fact that they killed people, would suggest these people are a little different than your average capitalist.

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Sieben replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 11:00 AM

ravochol:
Safer alternatives could be used, but like any unregulated capitalists, all the cocaine lords care about is profits, not how many people they kill. Not that the unrepresentative government we have is any better.
You lose money if you kill people... there's a demand for life.

You should sit down and have an extended discussion with one of us sometime. I'll be happy to have a 1 on 1 (maybe private) discussion with you so you dont feel like you're being ganged up on. A lot of minority opinion on this site is on the sidelines and its very frustrating for both of us if our discourse is limited to the occasional cutting remark.

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so you dont feel like you're being ganged up on.

I wasn't meaning to sound rude/harsh with my comment, by the way. It's hard to tell what someone's tone is with typing alone. If you guys make another thread to discuss this further, I'd be glad to join it. I also think that some things need to be regulated, but not for the most part. I just wanted clarification.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 11:22 AM

ravochol:
Safer alternatives could be used, but like any unregulated capitalists, all the cocaine lords care about is profits, not how many people they kill.

The cocaine market is "unregulated"?

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I'm assuming Ravochol means 'unregulated' in the sense that the market's internal mechanisms aren't allowed to work and so the current perversion. At least I hope he doesn't mean 'unregulated' in the sense of an absence of positive law about cocaine.

As for the main topic, I'd say Pablo Escobar is a 'hero' of the free market in so far as we're concerned about him circumventing the state's restrictions on trade. He is not so much a hero when we're looking at instances of him breaking the NAP.

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ravochol replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 9:41 PM

cocaine market is banned, not regulated, and that is an important difference. 

Compare cocaine to tobacco; they're both big, leafy plant drugs.

I, for one, believe that a big part of the reason tobacco causes cancer might be because all the companies that grow tobacco spray their crops with radioactive fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizer is cheaper than organic, but synthetic fertilizer emits alpha-radiation (the weakest kind).  This doesn't seem to be a problem when plants absorb it through their roots, or when put those crops in their stomachs; the problem is that tobacco leaves are naturally sticky, and on a dusty day the fertilizer will stick to them.  The other problem is that alpha radiation can be stopped by your skin, but tobacco goes into your lungs; the smoke damages the cells in your lungs, and then the alpha-emitting residue sticks to damaged & unprotected cells. Result: cancer.

I'd like to say that I can "prove" this, or cite a scientific study that shows it, but apparently no one has ever been interested in funding a study of how cancerous organic tobacco is.  There are apparently only two groups which fund tobacco studies; the anti-smoking lobby, and the tobacco industry.  The first thinks tobacco is a devil weed, and the second apparently would open itself up to liability just by studying cancer and tobacco, much less by proving they have been poisoning their crops for decades. There are rumors that such a study was done and the results were burned by industry lawyers. 

So, to sum up, there's a good chance that the tobacco industry guesses that they're putting the cancer into cigarettes; also, everyone who smokes accepts the risk of getting cancer as part of the bargain.  "The market" doesn't seem to be solving this problem, if it's true that it's the fertilizer causing the cancer, I challenge anyone to argue that a truly disinterested third party banning artificial and requiring organic fertilizer would not be a good thing.  

Even in an ideal world, where some philanthropist or entrepreneur funds organic tobacco studies, the public hears about it and voluntarily makes a switch, there will still be a bunch of knockoff brands using deceptive labeling language and sneaking cheaper but deadly ingredients into their product - or just people who never hear that there's a difference. If there's not some kind of punishment for slow-poisoning people, some people will do it because its more profitable. I imagine that even if cocaine were fully legal, there would still be Pablo Escobars using gasoline to process their coca and giving people health problems down the road because of it. 

To be fair, there is exactly two varieties of cigarettes and exactly one brand of organic cigars to my knowledge. You'll have to research the cigars, but the cigs are American Spirit Reds.  Even the company that makes them mostly makes the radioactive kind.

(one in the middle radioactive - other two smooth and flavorful)

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Sieben replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 9:46 PM

ravochol:
So, to sum up, there's a good chance that the tobacco industry guesses that they're putting the cancer into cigarettes; also, everyone who smokes accepts the risk of getting cancer.  "The market" doesn't seem to be solving this problem,
Because there's no market. See tobacco MSA decision. Its the most open cartel there ever was.

ravochol:
I challenge anyone to argue that a truly disinterested third party banning artificial and requiring organic would not be a good thing. 
Free market advocates predict that private FDAs would emerge to protect consumers. The problem with the current FDA is that it is not disinterested. Indeed, the ease benefit of co opting state institutions makes this inevitable.

ravochol:
If there's not some kind of punishment for slow-poisoning people, some people will do it because its more profitable.
Health insurance companies will offer better rates to people who A) don't smoke and B) don't smoke poison. Also, you disregard the important role of intermediaries (the place where peopel buy goods). They have a reputation to uphold, and I doubt "wal mart sells poison for profit" all over the news and internet is going to be offset by their profit...

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ravochol replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:06 PM

Well, this is interesting, because you can contrast the cigarette and cigar markets.  There seem to be hundreds and hundreds of cigar companies, from a dozen or so countries available in the US - at least there seem to be whenever I go into a cigar store or look online. But there only seem to be a few cigarette companies.  Still, I don't see either of them addressing this issue, or the general issue of whether it's the plant that's bad or the way it's grown that's bad. 

As for private FDAs, what's preventing them from working right now? I think they could have a big role, but what's really needed is someone who doesn't have a dog in the fight to look into it - someone who's not going to make more money by finding either way, and whose organization doesn't need to worry about making its findings profitable either.  That's what the two sides do now - the anti-tobacco side gets supporters by finding bad things about tobacco, and the tobacco industry makes money by avoiding the issue of any bad things. The government's clearly not a neutral  third party now, but laws banning upper level government workers from post-employment private sector work in an industry they regulated would probably do a lot to fix that.  Any succesful private FDA would have to have a really well-thought-out structure and policies like that anyways, or it will just get co-opted and infiltrated like the current FDA. 

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Sieben replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:29 PM

ravochol:
There seem to be hundreds and hundreds of cigar companies, from dozens of countries available in the US - at least there seem to be whenever I go into a cigar store or look online. But there only seem to be a few cigarette companies.
These are all taxed to death. They even recently increased the RYO tobacco tax 2000%. Without a profit motive, the market has no incentive to improve. A company gaining more market share with a safer brand of cigars or cigarretes would not benefit in the slightest, since taxes increase substantially if the market share of a company increases. Your response was so fast you probably didn't have a chance to read the first 10 pages of the document, not that I blame you, but the information is all there.

ravochol:
As for private FDAs, what's preventing them from working right now?
The fact that the FDA is provided for free, and occasionally does a decent job. Its the government's poster boy. Their claim to fame. Its like why no one builds private roads between cities; the government has already done it for free.

Although there are lots of private forces telling people not to smoke... and I do believe some insurance rates go down if you are not a smoker. I'm just a little hesitant to buy into the whole "some smoking is poisonous" thing... I'm no apologist for corporations but this whole area is highly politicized. So forgive me if I don't believe tobacco is radioactive at first pass. Something could have 10x the background level of radiation and still be safe for human consumption.

ravochol:
I think they could have a big role, but what's really needed is someone who doesn't have a dog in the fight to look into it - someone who's not going to make more money by finding either way, and whose organization doesn't need to worry about making its findings profitable either.
Well they have to make money if they find out the *truth*. I don't think consumers or insurance companies are going to want to pay for a biased safeguarder. If you look at other private oversight agencies, like UL, they avoid all appearance of conflict of interest like the plague. It would destroy their business if they lost their reputation.

ravochol:
Any succesful private FDA would have to have a really well-thought-out structure and policies like that, or it will just get co-opted and infiltrated like the current FDA.
So you can just start another one. Once people lose confidence another can easily swoop in to take up demand. You have this idea that the market is all about cheating or deceiving people into giving you money. As stupid or uninformed as you think people are, they do a much better job imposing accountability on corporations than on government.

You're basically subscribing to a government by assuming that it is run by a wise group of benevolent central planners. So why can't I subscribe to a market that is run by the same people? But the market works even if capitalists are selfish jackasses, which is one of many good reasons for its advocacy.

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Yes, a mass murderer is  a hero.  /sarcasm

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ravochol replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 1:00 PM

These are all taxed to death.

This is just "flat rock" argumentation ad naseum, like when a person says "I can skip a rock if you find me a flat rock," and then tries to explain the fact he can't skip any of the rocks given to him by saying "that rock wasn't flat enough." You can't really evaluate his claim to be able to skip rocks, because he'll just deny the flatness of every rock if it doesn't skip like he thought it would. 

It doesn't matter if they're taxed, what matters is that you can show a difference between two markets, and if your theory is true, you can use reality to test your theory.  It's just nonsense to say 'well, capitalism isn't perfect anywhere, so we can't use reality to evaluate capitalism.'

That's exactly the same nonsense Leon Trotsky tried to pull by saying that you can't judge communism because it will only work once it's world-wide. You can see what effects a small change has and then assume a bigger change in the same direction will produce bigger effects in the same direction. 

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Sieben replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 3:04 PM

ravochol:
This is just "flat rock" argumentation ad naseum, like when a person says "I can skip a rock if you find me a flat rock," and then tries to explain the fact he can't skip any of the rocks given to him by saying "that rock wasn't flat enough." You can't really evaluate his claim to be able to skip rocks, because he'll just deny the flatness of every rock if it doesn't skip like he thought it would.
If the taxes were like, 10%, I would agree with you. But there are very, very heavy financial constraints imposed by government on tobacco companies. Did you read the cato article? Its mind boggling.

I'm not trying to cop out here. They have made it nearly impossible to start up a profitable tobacco business and gain any significant market share. If there are no profits to be had, there will be no innovation.

Also you seem to be persisting in your view that tobacco companies are greedy and sell consumers needlessly harmful products to make a few extra bucks. I already stated that I didn't necessarily buy the radioactive tobacco scare at first pass... and I believe you even provided examples of organic tobacco, which can presumabely be explained by small (tiny market share) tobacco companies trying to serve health conscious consumers better; confirming my thesis that the profit motive leads consumers and producers to act in eachother's interests.

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