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What if free market made the poor poorer?

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Trianglechoke7 Posted: Sun, Oct 5 2008 11:17 AM

I agree that the free market is the best avenue for increasing the wealth of the poor.

However, what would your position on the free market be if, hypothetically, the free market made the poor poorer, or at least kept the poor from becoming more wealthy while the rich continuously became more wealthy? And let's say that, in practice, forced redistribution of wealth (whether it be interventionism or full-fledged socialism) made the poor continually more wealthy while also allowing the rich to become more wealthy.

For those that believe it is wrong to take someones property, would you still want the free market to be used in practice?

 

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Unequivocally yes.

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Yes.

And to make a comparison with natural selection, if there was anything such as health transfer, I wouldn't cause physical harm to survivors to benefit the sick. And even this comparison is incomplete, since I believe many poor people choose and accept their status, just as some of the sick choose to be sick by causing harm to themselves, consciously or not.

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"Poor" is such an ambiguous term anyway, but I don't think that's any accident.

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Juan replied on Sun, Oct 5 2008 12:24 PM
The question doesn't really make sense. The free-market makes everybody better-off because it works in tune with human nature. What's morally correct and what is practical go hand in hand.

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I'll define "poor."

Poor means log cabins with no electricity and or indoor plumbing. Also, uncertainty in terms of food and bacteria free water. I'm talking pre-industrial style poverty here.

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Trianglechoke7:

I'll define "poor."

Poor means log cabins with no electricity and or indoor plumbing. Also, uncertainty in terms of food and bacteria free water. I'm talking pre-industrial style poverty here.

That's such a minority anyway it doesn't matter. My point is when any socialist talks about the poor they're always very ambiguous.

 

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Ok, but in my hypothetical world, everyone but 1% of people are like this.

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No, because, then the free market wouldn't be the best. You're asking, that hypothetically if there were methods of making people healthier, wealthier, and more educated and skilled other-than the free market, would we choose it over the market. I would say, absolutely I would. Because if the market was a unsuccessful system, then it wouldn't be a moral system. If redistributionism worked good for everyone than it would be moral to support it. Theft is immoral because it hurts everyone. If theft was beneficial to everyone, then theft would be moral. Individual pursuit of happiness would then become immoral.

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Trianglechoke7:

Ok, but in my hypothetical world, everyone but 1% of people are like this.

Then taxing the 1% wouldn't do a whole lot of good anyway.

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Trianglechoke7:

I'll define "poor."

Poor means log cabins with no electricity and or indoor plumbing. Also, uncertainty in terms of food and bacteria free water. I'm talking pre-industrial style poverty here.

I'll define "poor".

Poor (can) mean relying on credit, living paycheck to paycheck to "get by" (probably having no savings, in any form, in the worst case scenario), & operating within a state-capitalist market that has artificially distorted  both perceptions & expectations of the standard of living possible, & the means required in order to achieve it, as well as artificially raising the barrier to entry in many fields & markets.  

Additionally, access to goods & technology that would help make a better standard of living possible, are also distorted & artificially kept harder than needed to aqquire, from those who profit from such (i.e. Comcast / Verizon duopoly).

It is no shock that some peers I know have fled to California with next to no plan, smirking that welfare will take care of them until they find a dead-end job, or a job they can make capital from, but not necessarily like it & probably never advance in as a serious field of expertise and/or occupation.

Poor can also mean (but does not necessarily require) one to be an avid consumer, outsourcing the abiltiy to produce/consume your own goods and/or trade them to others in exchange for other goods (this may or may not be monetarily feasible, but it's not hard to imagine some situations where producing rather than consuming helps one in the long run). 

Obviously, the concept of economical ignorance makes some level of consumption required (one cannot become a farmer part-time while being in say, the IT field, while maintaining a social life outside of said fields, without farming & hypothetical I.T. job become a 24/7 ordeal), but many could still cut down on consumption, save & produce more, & maintain a (albiet, subjective) acceptable standard of living. 

As for "log cabins with no electricity and or indoor plumbing" not being an acceptable standard of living (this was implied, methinks): what about the Amish?  I don't recall ever hearing them complaining that their AOL dial-up stopped working (I kid, I don't think they have Internet). 

It'd be hard to call a voluntarily adhered to standard of living (even if, in comparison, this standard seems less than others like say, in the city) poverty, especially if the Amish are not dying and/or harmed by this adhered standard of living.

Otherwise, we could technically say we are always in poverty, if one accepts that new technology helps to yield better standards of living (that whole we-are-always-in-the-present thing, with the future possibly always trumpting us in terms of a standard of living I.E. 1900's USA vs. 2008 USA).

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Trianglechoke7:

I agree that the free market is the best avenue for increasing the wealth of the poor.

However, what would your position on the free market be if, hypothetically, the free market made the poor poorer, or at least kept the poor from becoming more wealthy while the rich continuously became more wealthy? And let's say that, in practice, forced redistribution of wealth (whether it be interventionism or full-fledged socialism) made the poor continually more wealthy while also allowing the rich to become more wealthy.

For those that believe it is wrong to take someones property, would you still want the free market to be used in practice?

 

 

That's like asking, what if treating women with respect and not raping them resulted in the death of most women. Would you become a rapist and a misogynyst if this were so?

 

When asking questions, it's generally a good idea that they pertain to some sort of aspect of reality.

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Did you know that half of the working people earn less than the average income?

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scineram:

Did you know that half of the working people earn less than the average income?

That's horrible...I guess this is what happens when we have 8 years of George Bush's austrian supply-side free-market no regulation small government economic policies. We need to do something about this unfair state of affairs! Everyone should have above average wages now!!!

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MacFall replied on Sun, Oct 5 2008 7:38 PM

Asking if I would support the non-aggression principle in a world where the NAP had negative results is like asking me if I would support the principle that 2+2=4 in a world where 2+2=5. The answer is, that world cannot exist. The question is unanswerable.

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If in your hypothetical world the poor became poorer in a free market, we'd all have to agree that human nature would be fundamentally different and most likely require a completely different set of rules/morals/ethics/etc. and hence a completely different economic system. Essentially, you're comparing apples to oranges.

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Essentially the question boils down to asking us to imagine a world that isn't governed by natural laws and then using it to discredit our libertarian philosophy that way.

Through study of natural law and austrian economics we know aprori that the poor are wealthier in the long-term under a genuine free market system.

 

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Also I'd say the free market should be grounded first and foremost on ethics not social utility. After all what if hypothetically the poor could be made wealthier by exterminating the Jews and redistibuting their property to the poor? - on the grounds of mere social utility there can be no objection. On the grounds of ethics it would rightly be objected to as mass murder.

 

 

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MacFall replied on Mon, Oct 6 2008 6:01 PM

Holy long post, Batman.

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ama gi replied on Mon, Oct 6 2008 8:48 PM

Trianglechoke7:

And let's say that, in practice, forced redistribution of wealth (whether it be interventionism or full-fledged socialism) made the poor continually more wealthy while also allowing the rich to become more wealthy.

In that case, there would be unanimous support for it, and it would cease to be "forced redistribution".  Right?

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Wren replied on Tue, Oct 7 2008 1:56 AM

I suppose I wouldn't.  I support voluntary exchange because it makes all individuals better off.  And you can't just think collectively either.  If the "poor" are made poorer, then so is everyone else in a free market.  In a world where a free market would make everyone poorer, then everything else changes as well.  So I wouldn't know what to support.

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banned replied on Tue, Oct 7 2008 2:15 AM

Trianglechoke7:
For those that believe it is wrong to take someones property, would you still want the free market to be used in practice?

I can end the poor's poor conditions by killing them, should I do it? They won't have to even worry about being poor anymore. Sounds like a good idea to me.

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Jim Miller,

(1) I am staunch advocate of the free-market.

(2) You didn't use the appeal to consequences properly.

An appeal to consequences is only fallacious when referring to the truth of a proposition, not to it's desirability. My question is one of how desirable the free market would be given the hypothetical consequences I outlined, and whether it would be ethical to use forced redistribution to increase the wealth of the poor. By claiming I used the appeal to consequences you are claiming that it is never relevant to consider the consequences of an action when discussing ethics. Maybe it's not, but you would have to prove that, and that can't be done by simply appealing to the appeal to consequences.

When it comes to public policy, consequences may be perfectly relevant.

(3) Yes, I am aware that when making transaction both parties believe they will be better off. However, it's logically possible that the poor could get poorer under the free market. For example, what if all business owners came together to form a cartel in which they decided to keep wage rates down? I'm not saying this actually happens, I'm just saying it's logically possible.

As for someone elses claim that in the scenario in which forced redistribution caused the poor to get richer and the rich to get richer, which would entail that everyone would voluntarily submit to it, thus not making is forced, imagine that the rich got richer at a slower rate than without the redistribution. In this case, the rich may object.

This whole question is just seeing whether people are willing to stick to their natural rights guns.

The good thing about the free market in the real world though, is that it protects natural rights and has the best consequences.

 

 

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Paul replied on Tue, Oct 7 2008 8:58 AM

Trianglechoke7:
(3) Yes, I am aware that when making transaction both parties believe they will be better off. However, it's logically possible that the poor could get poorer under the free market. For example, what if all business owners came together to form a cartel in which they decided to keep wage rates down? I'm not saying this actually happens, I'm just saying it's logically possible.

No, it isn't.  Even if cartels could work, that would only be possible if "all business owners" and "all wage earners" were necessarily distinct groups, which may be true for Eloi and Morlocks, but not in the real world.

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It's logically possible that all business owners and all wage earners are disctinct. It's logically possible that they could make a cartel and never try to one up and break the cartel.

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Jackson replied on Tue, Oct 7 2008 11:21 AM

"For those that believe it is wrong to take someones property, would you still want the free market to be used in practice?"

 

Yup.

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preface: within the limits of this discussion the middle are omitted and only the poor and wealthy are considered.

Quick Answer: One must, ethically, want the free market.

 

Question:

IF by free market we mean private property owners within a territory are free to trade, or refuse to trade, their title in property with others;

and IF a group of individuals within the territory, the poor, are those who's private property monetary value is below a given point on the lower end of the scale;

and IF a group of individuals within the territory, the wealthy, are those who's private property monetary value is above a given point on the higher end of the scale;

and IF within a period of time the poor sustain a real loss, or at least no real gain, in the monetary value of their private property (the poor get poorer);

and IF within the period of time the wealthy obtain a real gain in the monetary value of their private property (the rich get richer);

and IF the losses of the poor and the gains of the wealthy were caused by the free market only, and not some other cause(s), omitting for this discussion if/how that could happen;

but IF a forced redistribution from the wealthy to the poor would allow for the poor to obtain a gain while at the same time still allow the wealthy to obtain a gain, albeit a smaller of a gain;

THEN would one who believes it is unethical to take someones property, still want the free market?

 

Answer: Yes, and only yes. One could not, ethically, want otherwise because to want otherwise would be unethical.

Reason: To not want the free market is, by definition, to not want private property owners to freely trade their title in property with others. This restriction is in itself a form of property "taking".

Conclusion: Therefor, for one believes it is unethical to take someones property, it is unethical to want other than the free market.

 

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jim miller

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Paul replied on Tue, Oct 7 2008 8:27 PM

Trianglechoke7:

It's logically possible that all business owners and all wage earners are disctinct.

By definition, all current business owners and wage earners are distinct (if you ignore the possibility of someone owning a small business while also working for someone else); what I said was that it would require "all business owners" and "all wage earners" to be necessarily distinct groups.  I.e., it must be impossible for any wage earner to set up his own business.  Otherwise it's not necessary for cartel members to defect, since non-members (current wage earners) can set up businesses outside the cartel.

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equack replied on Wed, Oct 8 2008 12:27 AM

What's the point of this question? Its a hypothetical question which yields no new knowledge when answered. Assuming we aren't all utilitiarians, we would choose the free market due to its _moral_ desiribility. Even if you were a utilitarian justifying the market on the grounds of the majority's utility, the poor would have to make up a significant population in your hypothetical world and the utilitarian would also have to formulate an epistemological basis for measuring utility (so he could show how the utility of the majority is declining).

I'm afraid your hypothetical is just empty. Such extreme arguements can be useful such as the trolley and gunman problem. Both involved issues where the actor was forced to make a choice between dying himself or killing others to save him. The thread pretty much closed when causality was brought into the equation. It would immoral to flip the switch and kill that one person in the trolley problem since your actions had a direct causal connection to that one person's death which was similar to the gunman forcing you to kill someone else to stay alive. Those questions actually led you to a definite conclusion.

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Julio replied on Tue, Oct 14 2008 11:43 AM

Trianglechoke7:

I agree that the free market is the best avenue for increasing the wealth of the poor.

However, what would your position on the free market be if, hypothetically, the free market made the poor poorer, or at least kept the poor from becoming more wealthy while the rich continuously became more wealthy? And let's say that, in practice, forced redistribution of wealth (whether it be interventionism or full-fledged socialism) made the poor continually more wealthy while also allowing the rich to become more wealthy.

For those that believe it is wrong to take someones property, would you still want the free market to be used in practice?

 

 

The problem i think is that we dont have a free market as it should be, all we see are mergers, more mergers and bailouts. The US gini index proves that income inequality is a big concern. Capitalism and free market is meant to be for the many not for the few. But if free market creates poverty for the many and wealth for the few, then I dont want it.

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JCFolsom replied on Tue, Oct 14 2008 1:15 PM

C'mon, guys, I'm seeing a lot of folks dodging the question, here. Basically, what he's asking is whether or not you're a utilitarian; if the free market really would result in everything being objectively, economically worse for everyone, would you still support it because it's correct in principle. I'd say yes, but I'm not a utilitarian. I think being free is more important than being wealthy.

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