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Is government necessary?


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Very well, Hugo, I will admit defeat on this point. Semantics clouds the issue, where you call it theft and I call it taxes. I must admit it is the forcible (or aquiescent, and in some extermely rare cases, voluntary) taking of someone else's 'property'. It is, or can only be, justified by 'ends justifying means'.
Don't concede defeat so easily. We accept to put ourselves in a position to pay taxes because we understand that no one would ever pay taxes otherwise.
I am curious to know when you are going to satisfactorily distinguish between marriage and markets.
If you mean Gary Becker's idea about marriage, then he simply meant that individuals' behaviour in family relationships is no different from their behaviour elsewhere: people respond to incentives.

I see marriage as a long term contract between two people. The two voluntarily sign the contract usually with no precise knowledge of its conditions or future implications. Breach of the contract typically involves very high costs.

If it were possible to obtain everything we desire costlessly through markets with prices (including contingency markets), then such long term contracts as marriage would arguably not exist, being unnecessary.

Sometimes relationships between people are voluntary, and sometimes they are involuntary. (Why does this distinction exist? How can any relationship be truly involuntary?) I am curious to know when and how (under what conditions) a person would voluntarily submit to an involuntary relationship?
Never. The voluntary nature negates any possibility of involuntaryism. What you have said is called an oxymoron: it combines logically opposite and self-contradictory terms. While interesting in prose it is logically invalid and cannot be used as the basis of any argument. You are asking something akin to "when could the nonexisting exist?" Answer: never. If it exists, it is no longer nonexisting.
People frequently "burn their bridges". IOW, they voluntarily choose to remove a possible choice.
I'm also curious to know how or when you are going to distinguish the State from a very successful organized crime gang, and provide some justification for your view that we need to live under the thumb of criminals.
In the case of a democratic government, we circumscribe the actions of the criminals and then establish rules so that they can be tossed out every few years.
You are ignoring the fact that land is scarce and "intellectual property" is not. If I own Staten Island, nobody else can own Staten Island. But if I know the Happy Birthday song, anybody else can know it as well.
Since you mention Gary Becker, you can imagine what he would do with the argument you make here, Hugo. Without intellectual property rights, what incentive would anyone have to compose a song?

Your distinction about "nobody else can own it" and "anybody else can know it" strikes me as arbitrary. If there are empty seats in a cinema, should anyone be allowed to enter for free? After all, it costs nothing to show the movie to an extra person.

-----

There are two good arguments in favour of the existence of an institution such as government: definition of property rights and market failure.

BTW, that's not my argument but rather the opinion of David Friedman:

Mike neglects to mention my estimate that, in the U.S. at present, total income from unproduced resources totals only a few percent of national income. I suggest, as a moderate compromise between his position and mine, that we reduce government expenditure to the level that can be supported by taxing that income.
One can make arguments for regulation based on the second approximation--externalities and the like--but it is hard to justify anything approaching the current level of government on that basis.
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We accept to put ourselves in a position to pay taxes because we understand that no one would ever pay taxes otherwise.

You assume that taxes are even necessary. "We accept coercion into purchasing large inflatable rubber model elephants because we understand that nobody would purchase large inflatable rubber model elephants otherwise."

If it were possible to obtain everything we desire costlessly through markets with prices (including contingency markets), then such long term contracts as marriage would arguably not exist, being unnecessary.

If it were possible to do that then economics would be very different. However, all transactions have costs. Just because marriage has high costs does not mean it is not a transaction.

People frequently "burn their bridges". IOW, they voluntarily choose to remove a possible choice.

If you choose not to have choice, that is a choice. Sorry.

In the case of a democratic government, we circumscribe the actions of the criminals and then establish rules so that they can be tossed out every few years.

They didn't have much success tossing out Hitler or circumscribing his crimes, did they? Democracy is not a guarantee that Government will be either gentle or just.

Without intellectual property rights, what incentive would anyone have to compose a song?

Oh, none, August. That's why absolutely no songs were composed before 1909. :rolleyes:

Your distinction about "nobody else can own it" and "anybody else can know it" strikes me as arbitrary. If there are empty seats in a cinema, should anyone be allowed to enter for free?

This analogy is fraudulent. The seats are a scarce resource. Metaphysical things are not.

BTW, that's not my argument but rather the opinion of David Friedman

David Friedman is an anarchist and states quite clearly that he considers a State to be both unnecessary and dangerous. He advocates downsizing existing States as a precursor to their abolition, not least because he believes that for anarcho-capitalism to be successful it must have institutions and markets ready to take over the functions currently monopolized by the State.

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This analogy is fraudulent. The seats are a scarce resource. Metaphysical things are not.
Do people rent the seat when they go to the cinema? Is that why they pay 10 bucks?

Hugo, your "metaphysical" argument is another arbitrary distinction. The scarce resource you refer to exists, not because of seats, but because the cinema owner can put up walls and exclude people from access to the intellectual property of a movie. I fail to see any difference between cinema walls and a patent.

If it were possible to do that then economics would be very different. However, all transactions have costs. Just because marriage has high costs does not mean it is not a transaction.
It would be helpful Hugo if you understood the issues under discussions. The issue is not whether seeking a marriage partner involves high transaction costs or not. Rather, many services are traded through marriage because it would be simply too costly to trade them any other way. One reason it would be too costly to trade such services outside of marriage is because functioning contingency markets don't exist. Why don't such markets exist? Because of severe problems of asymetrical information.

One way around this is the commitment of marriage. This requires that people voluntarily commit to being in an involuntary relationship - a relationship with unspecified compulsory contingencies.

If you choose not to have choice, that is a choice. Sorry.
With that reply, Hugo, you miss the subtlety of the whole discussion. The key question in this whole debate about government is: why would a rational person accept to put themselves into a situation of slavery.
They didn't have much success tossing out Hitler or circumscribing his crimes, did they? Democracy is not a guarantee that Government will be either gentle or just.
By that logic, you should never use your electrical appliances because Mrs. Jones down the street had an electrical fire and it destroyed her house.
That's why absolutely no songs were composed before 1909.
Most music composed before 1909 was commanded by the State, or performed in theatres with ticket sales. I think it is fair to say that the past century saw an explosion in the composition of popular music.

BTW, the paper of sheet music and the plastic of records are "scarce resources" - like cinema seats.

David Friedman is an anarchist...
So what? It was his arguments I was referring to.
"We accept coercion into purchasing large inflatable rubber model elephants because we understand that nobody would purchase large inflatable rubber model elephants otherwise."
Sarcasm is unbecoming of you, Hugo. I'm still waiting to see your explanation about who will pay for the installation of the streetlight. With that invoice dealt with, we'll move on to the inflatable elephants.
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Hugo, your "metaphysical" argument is another arbitrary distinction. The scarce resource you refer to exists, not because of seats, but because the cinema owner can put up walls and exclude people from access to the intellectual property of a movie. I fail to see any difference between cinema walls and a patent.

Wrong. The Law of Scarcity is economics 101, August. The seats are made of physical resources which have a finite supply. You could not build a hundred theater seats for every person in the world, at least, not without making huge sacrifices elsewhere. However, every person in the world could know a hundred songs, without any sacrifices being made anywhere, and without it affecting the ability of a person to know another song.

It is not marriage that has high transaction costs. Many services are traded through marriage because it would be simply too costly to trade them any other way.

So what? It doesn't help your argument at all, except to demonstrate another really basic economic fact: goods and services will tend to be traded in a way that minimizes transaction costs. New developments constantly occur to further minimize transaction costs: telephone banking, then online banking, for instance.

By that logic, you should never use your electrical appliances because Mrs. Jones down the street had an electrical fire and it destroyed her house.

I might be persuaded not to use one of the same electrical appliances that caused Mrs. Jones's fire. But your analogy assumes your conclusion: you pretend that the State is the only way to obtain certain goods and services, which you have never satisfactorily demonstrated. To further your analogy, insisting that we continue to have democratic States in spite of what happened in Germany, and in the USA, and Britain, Canada, heck, pretty much everywhere at some point or another, is like insisting that we continue to use electrical appliances proven to cause fires but "taking precautions" rather than just switching to a less dangerous brand.

Most music composed before 1909 was commanded by the State

Rubbish.

...or performed in theatres with ticket sales.

And to this day, it is the case that the overwhelming majority of a musician's income comes from live acts and not recordings.

BTW, the paper of sheet music and the plastic of records are "scarce resources" - like cinema seats.

And that is why their distribution is easy to control. Physical goods necessarily lend themselves well to the notions of property rights and control, because their scarcity makes their distribution controllable. The metaphysical song itself is impossible to control. How can you stop someone who hears a song from knowing it?

So what? It was his arguments I was referring to.

So was I. All you have demonstrated is that by taking an isolated quote from a person completely out of context, you can claim that he was making a totally different point.

Sarcasm is unbecoming of you, Hugo. I'm still waiting to see your explanation about who will pay for the installation of the streetlight.

You've seen it. Time for you to do some remedial reading, methinks.

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Let's narrow this down: What is the difference between cinema walls and a patent?

The Law of Scarcity is economics 101, August. The seats are made of physical resources which have a finite supply. You could not build a hundred theater seats for every person in the world, at least, not without making huge sacrifices elsewhere. However, every person in the world could know a hundred songs, without any sacrifices being made anywhere, and without it affecting the ability of a person to know another song.
That's not an answer.

Forget the seats. I'm talking about walls. Should the cinema owner have the right to erect walls? If so, why shouldn't someone have the right to enforce a patent?

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Forget the seats. I'm talking about walls. Should the cinema owner have the right to erect walls? If so, why shouldn't someone have the right to enforce a patent?

You can try and do whatever you like. Try and patent an idea, but without a State making such ridiculous laws you'll have a hard time standing in court and asking the judge to extract money from a guy because he saw your blueprints, committed them to memory and made a copy from his own resources.

Basically, you want the right to control what's in other people's brains.

JUDITH:

    Here! I-- I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can have the right to have babies.

FRANCIS:

    Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.

REG:

    What's the point?

FRANCIS:

    What?

REG:

    What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?!

Sound familiar?

You can restrict access to the physical. In fact, it's impossible not to restrict access to it, because it's scarce. It's extremely difficult to restrict access to the metaphysical, and that is because it is not scarce.

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Should the cinema owner have the right to erect walls?

It doesn't particularly matter. It is my belief that intellectual property would not be enforced in an anarcho-capitalist system. Unlike the notion of physical property, the idea of intellectual property came very late to human thinking and was imposed by States rather than evolving without them, unlike physical property. This seems to indicate that it is not in accordance with economic law.

Anarchism is not about making normative prescriptions, but in this instance (and many others) anarcho-capitalists are merely proposing their idea of the most likely scenario. It may well be that it is completely wrong, and certainly there are many inventions and developments that have completely revolutionized business and transactions.

Intellectual property rights do not seem to be necessary from a utilitarian point of view. Ideas are nowhere near as important as capital. For instance, the steam engine was invented well before the birth of Christ, but until James Watt found a way to create a practical commercial application it sat idle. Interestingly, because James Watt guarded his patented ideas so jealously the industrial revolution never really got started until after his death, when the steam engine was introduced to the market in order to become cheaper and better.

Taking away intellectual property rights could actually be more utilitarian since it would place an emphasis on ideas that were marketable, and developing and marketing them, rather than wasting time on useless ideas that have no practical application (do you know how many patents are held for time machines?).

Regardless, even if I were to concede that intellectual property were right and just it does not negate anarchism one bit, unless you can demonstrate to me that private courts could not uphold intellectual property rights and that only State courts could - which I very seriously doubt.

What is the difference between cinema walls and a patent?

Cinema walls are physical.

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Should the cinema owner have the right to erect walls?
It doesn't particularly matter.
That's your answer Hugo? Are you serious?

It certainly matters to the cinema owner and the movie producer whether they can stop people without tickets from seeing the movie.

The rest of your discussion is a bizarre mish-mash of "maybe but I don't know, it depends".

What is the difference between cinema walls and a patent?
Cinema walls are physical.
A patent is also a physical piece of paper.

You still haven't answered the question.

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That's your answer Hugo? Are you serious?

Yes, I am. And if you had read the rest of my post - or at least not pretended not to have read it - you would understand why, bearing in mind the subject of this thread.

A patent is also a physical piece of paper.

Strawman. The piece of paper is not what the patent purports to control.

You still haven't answered the question.

Perhaps I should illustrate this in a way that shows you how polycentric law works. Let's say we both live in an anarcho-capitalist society. I don't support the notion of intellectual property, so I will contract with a defence agency that uses an arbitrator who also does not support intellectual property.

You, however, do. You will contract with an agency who supports intellectual property, and let's say that you can register your ideas with them and they will guard them from being copied and used without your consent.

If I have an idea, and Bill, another client of my protection agency, copies it, my agency will take no action, but then I asked them not to.

If you have an idea and you patent it, and Bob, another client of your pro-intellectual-property arbitrator copies it, then that arbitrator will find in your favour and order Bob to pay you damages, as both you and Bob agreed to in advance.

Everyone gets the law he wants.

But what if I copy your idea? Your protection agency thinks that what I have done is a crime. But mine does not. Now, as I have discussed elsewhere, violent conflict is really bad for business, so our agencies would settle this between them. Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that pro-copyright and anti-copyright agencies are inevitably going to lock horns, so almost certainly they would have negotiated an agreement between the two of them ahead of time and stipulated this in our contracts.

So how is it going to be settled?

Let's say that I feel strongly enough about not having intellectual property that it's worth about $2,000 per year to me. On the other hand, you feel strongly enough about having intellectual property that you feel it's worth $5,000 per year.

Our defence agencies get together. Your agency offers to pay mine $3,000 per year in order to get my agency to recognize their notions of intellectual property. My agency agrees.

Now, when dealing with you I have to respect your copyright. I feel that this loses me about $2,000 worth of value per year, however, my premiums have been cut by $3,000, so I'm $1,000 better off for having this arrangement.

You are going to have to pay $3,000 more per year for this arrangement. However, you had indicated that this was actually worth $5,000 per year to you, so you're $2,000 better off as well.

Let's say a third party comes into the picture. They feel so strongly anti-copyright that they feel it's worth $10,000 per year to them. Their agency offers to pay your agency $7,000 per year to get your agency to allow their clients to copy your ideas. They agree.

Now, you have lost the copyright to clients of this agency. You value this loss at $5,000, however, your premium has been cut by $7,000, so you are $2,000 better off. The strong anti-copyrightists gain the ability to copy your ideas, but they're getting a $10,000 value for only $7,000, so they're $3,000 better off as well.

Everybody is happy, and gets the law that they want at a price that they like.

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A patent is also a physical piece of paper.
Strawman. The piece of paper is not what the patent purports to control.
Strawman? That's precisely what my point was. The cinema wall does not purport to control who enters the cinema: it purports to control who can see the movie.
Perhaps I should illustrate this in a way that shows you how polycentric law works.
Your long convoluted example could equally apply to a piece of land or any type of property, not just a copyright.

So I still don't know why you see a difference between a cinema wall and a patent. And it's still not clear to me whether you think cinema owners should be able to build walls.

IOW, you still haven't answered the question.

----

Let's say that I feel strongly enough about not having intellectual property that it's worth about $2,000 per year to me. On the other hand, you feel strongly enough about having intellectual property that you feel it's worth $5,000 per year.
What incentives do we have to reveal that information to our agencies?
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Dear Hugo,

New developments constantly occur to further minimize transaction costs: telephone banking, then online banking, for instance.
But for whom are the costs minimized, Hugo? For the banks, (the 'counterfeiters') all of these things increase profit, because they lessen their own costs, but couple it with more fees, thus doubling the profit.

As an example, I declined to accept credit and debit cards at my business. Cash or cheque only. There were several factors in this decision, but the biggest one was fees. The merchant pays to have a machine installed, and pays for every transaction, and so does the customer, often plus percentage. So the merchant gets less than full price for his good and services, and the consumer pays extra, and the bank gets money from both parties just to use a specific payment method. That is why 'Cash is King'.

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The cinema wall does not purport to control who enters the cinema: it purports to control who can see the movie.

No, they control who enters the cinema. Try going to your local multiplex and asking if you can go into the cinema, but not watch the movie.

IOW, you still haven't answered the question.

I see I completely wasted my time explaining all that to you. Obviously, your prejudices are just too strong. Your loss.

Anyway, I have repeatedly answered your question. You like to pretend I haven't because you don't seem to have a statisfactory response to my answer. My answer, again, is that intellectual property is metaphysical and not subject to the laws of scarcity.

Cinema owners should be able to build walls. This allows them to control the scarce resources of their physical cinema. On the other hand, should a cinema owner be able to prevent someone going to see the movie, taking mental notes and then staging a play very closely based on the movie?

What incentives do we have to reveal that information to our agencies?

Self-interest. You'll get more of what you want at the price you like if you reveal the information. Keep it secret if you want - but it'll cost you.

You can't really conceal it anyway. Whether or not you buy a plasma TV today, for instance, reveals to the vendor the value you place on it. The goods and services you buy and choose not to buy give all the information about your wants and needs that is needed. This is why markets are so much more efficient than States: since the State offers no price for negotiation, it has no way of knowing how much people value its services, and whether or not it is being inefficient.

But for whom are the costs minimized, Hugo? For the banks, (the 'counterfeiters') all of these things increase profit, because they lessen their own costs, but couple it with more fees, thus doubling the profit.

I don't recall banking fees having been increased. But the costs to the consumer are decreased anyway - unless you feel that your time is so worthless that you're happy going to the bank or to the office of your utility companies to pay them.

As an example, I declined to accept credit and debit cards at my business. Cash or cheque only. There were several factors in this decision, but the biggest one was fees.

You are pretending that credit and debit cards offer nothing not also offered by cash, and that the fees are pure costs without any benefits.

This is wrong.

Debit cards let consumers carry little or no cash on them, which makes their money more secure against robbery. They also eliminate the need to have or make change.

Credit cards carry a lot more benefits, like consumer protection, extended warranties, deferred payment, air miles, you name it. These are just a few examples. But again, like the question of the double-standard in State law, you are trying to build a strawman and ignore the facts you find uncomfortable.

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Cinema owners should be able to build walls.
Thank you.
On the other hand, should a cinema owner be able to prevent someone going to see the movie, taking mental notes and then staging a play very closely based on the movie?
You tell me. More pertinently, should I be able to videotape a movie in a cinema?
What is the difference between a cinema wall and a patent?
My answer, again, is that intellectual property is metaphysical and not subject to the laws of scarcity.
You still haven't explained the difference between a cinema wall and a patent.
What incentives do we have to reveal that information to our agencies?
Self-interest. You'll get more of what you want at the price you like if you reveal the information. Keep it secret if you want - but it'll cost you.

You can't really conceal it anyway. Whether or not you buy a plasma TV today, for instance, reveals to the vendor the value you place on it.

Except, the agency is not selling a Plasma-TV to me and you. It is selling to me its ability to negotiate with other agents. In Hugo-speak, it's selling a "metaphysical" property.

In Hugo-World, it would not have the right to sell such a metaphysical thing.

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Dear Hugo,

You are pretending that credit and debit cards offer nothing not also offered by cash, and that the fees are pure costs without any benefits.

This is wrong

Not completely wrong. I derive no benefit from accepting them, only loss. They charge both ends a transaction fee, and cash nearly eliminates that. They also must charge more that the benefit given, or else they wouldn't do it.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Is Gov't necessary? This bit from Yahoo news today suggests it...

In a sign of growing lawlessness, Tenet HealthCare Corp. asked authorities late Wednesday to help evacuate a fully functioning hospital in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water and medical supplies was held up at gunpoint.

"There are physical threats to safety from roving bands of armed individuals with weapons who are threatening the safety of the hospital," said spokesman Steven Campanini. He estimated there were 350 employees in the hospital and between 125 to 150 patients.

Tempers flared elsewhere across the devastated region. Police said a man in Hattiesburg, Miss., fatally shot his sister in the head over a bag of ice. Dozens of carjackings were reported, including a nursing home bus. One officer was shot in the head and a looter was wounded in a shootout. Both were expected to survive.

Looters used garbage cans and inflatable mattresses to float away with food, clothes, TV sets — even guns. Outside one pharmacy, thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm shutters and break through the glass. The driver of a nursing-home bus surrendered the vehicle to thugs after being threatened.

No laws means ....
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