07 Jul 2014

Tom Woods Interviews Me About Private Defense

Shameless Self-Promotion 227 Comments

Here’s the YouTube version of my recent interview with Tom:

Like what you hear here? Then come to Nashville on August 15 to hear more of Tom and me, plus David Stockman! (And others.) Details here.

227 Responses to “Tom Woods Interviews Me About Private Defense”

  1. Cosmo Kramer says:

    Los Angeles wants you.

  2. LK says:

    At the following points:

    19.03: You bizarrely assume that people who support the state do not demand that corrupt or abusive police be themselves placed on trial, indicted, tried, and if found guilty fired and given appropriate punishments.

    In general, an anarcho-capitalist society would be a place where all crimes would simply become offences only punishable under a system of private tort law.

    A careful reading of the way Rothbard describes his system shows it would be a toothless and probably useless justice system:

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2013/06/rothbard-on-private-protection-agencies.html

    It is also perfectly obvious that if a victim cannot afford legal services and the fees to bring a private law suit under tort law, then no trials or punishments of many criminals will ever happen.

    Moreover, the system reduces to one where the rich have a license to commit crimes:

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2013/06/rothbardian-private-law-is-license-for.html

    • guest says:

      It is also perfectly obvious that if a victim cannot afford legal services and the fees to bring a private law suit under tort law, then no trials or punishments of many criminals will ever happen.

      So then stop getting in the way of the poor’s accumulation of wealth by disincentivizing the wealthy’s production of wealth.

      Then, increasingly more people will be able to afford private legal defense.

      The attempt to give everyone legal services, just makes increasingly more people poor and therefore not only less able to pay for increasingly toothless (of less quality) services, but also more willing to commit crimes.

      • LK says:

        (1) Austrian economics would most likely result in massive poverty — liquidationism, for one thing, would cause a considerable rise in poverty.

        (2) “The attempt to give everyone legal services, just makes increasingly more people poor … etc,”

        That doesn’t follow at all. Progressive taxes means the poor do not pay a great % of their incomes and such a system diminishes poverty by redistribution.

        Also, the easy ability to use the legal system would disincentivise crime.

        So much for this nonsense.

        • Richie says:

          What “nonsense”? All you did was present a counter-opinion to guest. That’s nonsense.

        • Major.Freedom says:

          (1) It is healthy to eliminate the massive impoverishing violence. Yes, exploiters would be poorer, but the freed up exploited would become wealthier.

          (2) Forcing people to pay under threat of violence what they would not otherwise pay does in fact make them poorer. Yes, it does certainly “follow”. The exploiters know it follows, which is why they know they have to initiate violence to get what they want in the first place. It is because their intended victims would quite rightly make themselves better off, i.e. wealthier, by doing what they want for themselves, and not what they are forced under violence to do.

          So much for your nonsense.

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          LK, are you speaking in normative or positive terms? You seem to always intermix the two such that any sort of philosophical correspondence with you turns into a mishmash of norms and facts.

          • LK says:

            If defined as an income insufficient for life, then saying “Austrian economics would most likely result in massive poverty” is a straightforward empirical statement.

            And there is no problem in asserting both empirical and ethical statements as part of an argument.

            You’re bizarrely deluded indeed if you think there is some sort problem with this.

            • Cosmo Kramer says:

              “If defined as an income insufficient for life”

              “Austrian economics would most likely result in massive poverty”

              Politician’s signatures on pieces of paper does not summon food, water and roofs out of thin air.

              Austrian Economics creates an Olympic type climate.

              Keynesians put everyone on the same track, give them all a 1st place trophy before-hand and expect everyone to still try.

            • guest says:

              It’s not the free market that’s preventing the poor from renting out space in temporarily unutilized warehouses.

            • Joseph Fetz says:

              No, I’m not “bizarrely deluded”, but thank you for providing another standard conceited answer that you’re know for.

              Sure, you can present multiple arguments if you wish, that is not a problem. However, you’re invariably always attempting to prove your *ought* argument with *is* statements. But actually it is much worse than that, because you’re usually attempting to use the *is* of some period in the past in order to superimpose it upon your arguments against a particular *ought* of the present. This does indeed represent a pretty large problem.

        • guest says:

          That doesn’t follow at all. Progressive taxes means the poor do not pay a great % of their incomes and such a system diminishes poverty by redistribution.

          The same percent of a smaller pie means you’re poorer.

          If you want the poor to be able to pull themselves out of poverty, you have to get out of the way of the rich.

          You also have to get out of the way of the poor, such as in the form of licensing requirements.

          And how are you going to pay for an easy to use legal system with an increasingly poor population?

          Look, only by increasing the supply of what consumers want can prices be lowered (all other things being equal) so as to permit more people to pull themselves out of poverty.

          Capital creation accomplishes this, but only when it’s in the pursuit of manufacturing those goods which consumers are acting [in the Austrian sense] to satisfy. Capital creation for any other purpose is a malinvestment.

          And you can’t direct capital creation to the satisfaction of consumer preferences without a free market in capital goods.

          You’re trying to fight reality.

          • LK says:

            “And you can’t direct capital creation to the satisfaction of consumer preferences without a free market in capital goods.”

            lol.. is that the imaginary free market of Rothbard’s world?

            Or the real market of modern mixed economies?

            Because we had historically unprecedented capital creation and real output growth under the post-WWII Keynesian system.

            People like you are just too ignorant to know about reality — as opposed to the libertarian myths about reality.

        • Ryan T says:

          Let’s really think deeper for a minute than your one step hypothesis of a privately organized legal system. Can it even be argued that the rich are not favored under the current legal systems of the world? What people that are trying to explain the organization of law in a stateless society are proposing is a simplification of law down to a common-law system based around principled non-agression.

          The legal favoritism of the rich occuring today is not a result of buying off judges, it is resulted from a convoluted legal system with loopholes that are unworkable to those with limited resources. You truly do not think that the kind of favoritism that goes on today would be much less prevalent in a system that is based around serving a consumer?

    • guest says:

      Also, stealing from people to defend victims of theft seems odd.

      • Matt M says:

        Only as odd as bombing people in order to bring them freedom!

      • LK says:

        Taxation by a legitimate government isn’t theft.

        • Richie says:

          Why not? Because 60 million people voted for the taxation? What number represents the line of demarcation between taxation and outright theft?

        • K.P. says:

          *Legitimate* government? What a rabbit hole that is! I always insist to people I’m the legitimate government before I “tax” them, if I do it consistently enough perhaps one day they’ll believe me.

          Seriously, *if* libertarianism is correct, then yes taxation is theft. (And the government isn’t legitimate). If they’re wrong on property then it isn’t.

        • Major.Freedom says:

          Government is not legitimate.

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          Once again, we see here the mishmash of norms and facts. WTF, dude? The term *legitimate* is a normative claim, yet *government* is a positive claim. Theft itself is a positive definition, but it is only informed by the normative understanding of an established system of property rights that prevails (which itself is a positive observation).

          Do you not see that your statement above has no more logical force than that of those that you oppose? But that even with that caveat, that they (your opponents) do indeed do have a more robust system of ethics than you have yourself?

          I have no problem with defining a legitimate government, that is not a problem. In fact, that is what libertarianism is most concerned with; defining a legitimate government.

          However, you tend to conflate the term *government* with the State (these terms are not synonyms, nor are they linguistically the same). So the burden is now upon you to define a legitimate State. Please–if you can– define a monopoly on the use of aggression in normative terms, such that we can all agree that its actions are just.

          • LK says:

            “The term *legitimate* is a normative claim,”

            Right. This is why lots of people reject your libertarian guff: they reject the libertarian **ethical theories** offered in support of your ideas as untenable, and instead support other ethical theories under which governments of a certain type and taxation for public goods are morally justified.

            The argument then becomes one in higher-level issues in philosophy of ethics, but it is unlikely many people around here have either the knowledge or intelligence to engage in such a debate.

            E.g., both Rothbard’s natural rights theory and Hoppe’s argumentation ethics can’t even get off the ground, because they are flawed, untenable, and commit well known fallacies in the history of logic:

            http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2014/06/rothbards-argument-for-natural-rights.html

            http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2011/10/hoppe-on-argumentation-ethics.html

            http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2011/08/rothbards-argument-for-natural-rights.html
            ——-

            Hell, even Bob is on the record saying he thinks Hoppe’s argumentation ethics is “fatally
            flawed”:

            https://mises.org/journals/jls/20_2/20_2_3.pdf

            • Joseph Fetz says:

              Yes, I’m quite aware of Bob’s critical paper on argumentation ethics (co-written by Gene Callahan). I’m a friend of his (Bob Murphy), so I’d like to think that I know what he believes.

              I cannot help but notice that you’ve edited your post on argumentation ethics. You had said earlier that it (AE) could not “bridge the gap” between the *is/ought* problem, whereas now it says that it cannot “overcome the *ought* from *is* problem of David Hume”. Nice edit. I’ll give props where they are due, your first draft of that sentence was entirely nonsensical, but that is not to say that your edit is any more sound.

              In any case, there is no need to “bridge the gap” (as you’d said in your earlier permutation of that post), nor is it correct that Hoppe didn’t overcome the “ought from is problem of David Hume” (paraphrase). Of course, I understand why you made that edit, because the entire idea of “bridging that gap” is illogical and non-sensical, so to save face you eventually realized that truth and changed the sentence altogether. Shit, who even knows what that phrase even means (i.e. bridging the gap between the is and the ought)? So yeah, it was a good decision to change that sentence even though it took you about two years to finally do it!

              Now onto the case:

              In Hoppe’s argumentation ethics we’re dealing with two specific things: actor’s in the world, and the discourse between them. Given this, I still don’t understand why people such as yourself and Murphy (but more probably Callahan) tend to focus upon body parts. Body parts aren’t nearly the subject nor the object of inquiry, and certainly they cannot engage in the action that is being debated here (discourse). I guess that if organs could talk, then this reductionist argument would hold water in terms of the subject (discourse ethics), but until then, it’s an absurdity. As well, body parts are themselves a scarce resource, which means that they require somebody to have claim to them. What person has a more just right to claim ownership over such resources than the person engaging in discourse? How can a late-comer claim ownership upon a scarce good when a homesteader already exists? Buy really, that last sentence only applies to external resources, body parts are already assumed to be a part of the allocator, because he already has the justification to determine their uses.

              Sure, one *can* live without an organ or two, but that doesn’t explain why they should given the argument.

              Hoppe’s theory is entirely from the *is* perspective, it never strays into that of the *ought* at all. The closest that he gets to the *ought* is to say that one who states a particular ought that is not consistent with the preconditions of discourse, then they’re performing a performative contradiction. But this insight remains entirely in the *is* realm.

              Oh, and by the way, I’m glad that in this dissuasion you haven’t raped me or otherwise harvested my organs. You’re at least part-way civil.

          • LK says:

            “However, you tend to conflate the term *government* with the State”

            False. That is just a straw man. Governments can be illegitimate.

            • Matt M says:

              What makes a government legitimate or not?

            • Major-Freedom says:

              Can be illegitimate based on what concrete principles, LK?

            • Joseph Fetz says:

              Of course they can. But is the State the government? That’s what I’m getting at. Can only states be governments, or does the term *goverenment* have a meaning independent of the State?

              Generally, as you use these terms, they have a synonymous meaning in your mind. I believe this to be incorrect.

              I know that you probably don’t know the difference–which wouldn’t be much of a departure from your average Joe’s understanding of these terms–and to be honest, I really don’t care. It isn’t as if you’re parsing your argument consistently in any case.

              And no, a distinction of terms does not represent a straw man, it represents a question of your definitions I just happened to notice that you often use *government* and *state* interchangeably. It is incorrect to do so in the objective sense.

              Sure, it would be fine if you were talking about a specific government that takes place in a given time or place, but you rather use it as an all-encompassing term.

              So forgive me for wondering how you define the term *government*.

              Please, define it for me so that we can proceed …

          • Bob Roddis says:

            Great points, Joe. I would also question why the voting majority of the citizens would necessarily choose “just” and/or better outcomes employing their SWAT teams and cops than that same group of people would choose under conditions of voluntary exchange. LK claims that more efficient and/or better justice will occur under the former as under the latter. Why? The entire Keynesian critique of the market claims that a society with people engaging in voluntary exchange will run off the tracks and needs to be saved by bureaucrats with guns who are elected by those very same people. From where does that alleged wisdom arise? Beating a long dead horse, LK has no conception or understanding of the pricing process or that market participants can (for example) sue for breach of contract or for assault by market-provided police.

            • LK says:

              “Beating a long dead horse, LK has no conception or understanding of the pricing process”

              lol.. from a man who advertises his ignorance of Austrian price theory with pride:

              “I do not like the term “market clearing prices”. I don’t use it and I do not think it is particularly helpful in understanding reality. When I see the term used, my reaction is always “WTF are you actually trying to say”?”
              http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2013/05/daniel-little-what-about-marx.html?showComment=1369144674917#c9135395
              ———————
              Anyone who, when confronted with the concept of market clearing, says “WTF are you actually trying to say”, is clearly ignorant of basic Austrian theory.

              • guest says:

                As I understand it:

                - the Walras guy had a single price in mind,

                - Hayek had multiple individuals, and therefore multiple clearing prices in mind, but inadvertently used terms that were more appropriate to a single price

                - and the Austrian position is that each individual has their own clearing price, that these change all the time, and that if government leaves people alone, individual clearing prices will bear on one another so as to result in the most efficient allocation of resources for the satisfaction of consumer preferences (which is the whole point of economic activity).

              • guest says:

                All that to say that what is meant by “market clearing” can be confusing.

            • LK says:

              Bob Roddis:

              I do not know and I do not care if “the idea of a tendency towards market clearing prices [is] a particular idea shared by both Walrasians and Austrians”.”
              http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2013/05/daniel-little-what-about-marx.html?showComment=1369141634301#c4809382389999185662
              ——
              We have a real genius in economic matters here.

              Get that man the Nobel prize.

              • Cosmo Kramer says:

                It took me only a few seconds to describe Keynesian Economics.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EE9Y4rNl64&feature=youtu.be

              • Major-Freedom says:

                Neither of those two quotes show Roddia lacking an understanding of what you claim he doesn’t understand.

                You are conflating his semantic preferences, with what those semantics are referring to.

                He doesn’t like to use “clearing”. So what? You still don’t understand Austrian pricing theory. That is what you should be focusing on.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                MF: I also don’t like the terms “anarchy”, “anarcho-capitalism”, “inflation” used to described money growth (even though that is the original meaning), “small government” and “getting rid of government”. Conceptually, I do not like the “Nolan chart”.

                Four or six decades of hair-splitting and fussing about these words is long enough. Further, these terms do not help to quickly and painlessly convey what we are proposing to the general public. Once the public grasps exactly what we are proposing, they will quickly see that the Keynesians and others are shooting with gum drops.

              • guest says:

                Four or six decades of hair-splitting and fussing about these words is long enough.

                I don’t want to have to chase the Progressives down the semantic streets every time they “rebrand” their positions.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            To be clear as to what Hayek was saying in 1975 (and which has been the subject of so much prior purposeful obfuscation by LK), “equilibrium prices” are merely those which arise on the free market. They cannot be measured under a regime of intervention because they do not exist. Hayek said:

            These discrepancies of demand and supply in different industries, discrepancies between the distribution of demand and the allocation of the factors of production, are in the last analysis due to some distortion in the price system that has directed resources to false uses. It can be corrected only by making sure, first, that prices achieve what, SOMEWHAT MISLEADINGLY, we call an equilibrium structure, and second, that labor is reallocated according to these new prices. ****

            The primary cause of the appearance of extensive unemployment, however, is a deviation of the actual structure of prices and wages from its equilibrium structure. Remember, please: that is the crucial concept. The point I want to make is that this equilibrium structure of prices is something which we cannot know beforehand because the only way to discover it is to give the market free play; by definition, therefore, the divergence of actual [FALSE/DISTORTED] prices from the equilibrium structure [UNDISTORED PRICES]is something that can never be statistically measured. ****

            In contrast, the modern fashion demands that a theoretical assertion which cannot be statistically tested must not be taken seriously and has to be discarded. As a result of this belief, a theory which, in my opinion, is the true explanation has been discarded as not adequately confirmed, and a false theory has been generally accepted merely because it happens to be the only one for which statistical evidence, even though very inadequate evidence, is available.”

            https://www.flickr.com/photos/bob_roddis/7534880182/sizes/o/

            LK will always have his wise guy responses to these simple concepts so it is pointless to “debate” him.

            Further, note that LK has failed to explain the source of the alleged expertise of a group of voters that does not exist in the same people when buying in the market.

            • LK says:

              So is Hayek in this passage thinking of a tendency towards supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices and wages, which are adjusted in trades towards market clearing levels by market agents?

              Yes or no?

              We know you will never give a straight “yes” or “no” answer to this question.

              The failure to do so is absolute proof of your own ignorance of Austrian theory.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                You are asking Roddis to read Hayek’s mind?

          • Samson Corwell says:

            However, you tend to conflate the term *government* with the State (these terms are not synonyms, nor are they linguistically the same).

            From Wikipedia citing Oxford: “A state is an organized community living under one government.”.

        • Ryan T says:

          Seriously… That’s your interjection? Are you joking?

    • Raja says:

      Legal Cross, a private voluntary organization that help those who cannot afford private legal services. Not everyone can be covered in an anarcho-capitalist society but it’s a start.

    • Gamble says:

      “19.03: You bizarrely assume that people who support the state do not demand that corrupt or abusive police be themselves placed on trial, indicted, tried, and if found guilty fired and given appropriate punishments.”

      We investigated ourselves and found no wrong doing.

      Nothing to see here.

      • Cosmo Kramer says:

        Bingo!

      • LK says:

        And yet Western democratic states punish and even jail police and other officials guilty of corruption and abuse of power quite often — which makes a nonsense of your feeble rubbish.

        • Cosmo Kramer says:

          ” quite often ”

          …….

        • Major-Freedom says:

          Yes, and mafia leaders punish and jail button men quite often too.

          Obviously it would be a grossly inaccurate and incompetent mischaracterization to make a joke and quip that suggests it is not surprising that a particular mafia leader who is presiding court over his own button men, who are being sued by another mafia family, would rule in favor of his own button men in a particular case that is statistically representative of all such cases.

          Clearly we should spend lots of time reassuring everyone that mafia leaders punish their button men “quite often”, thus making “feeble rubbish” of such quips.

    • Cosmo Kramer says:

      “Moreover, the system reduces to one where the rich have a license to commit crimes:”

      You just described the current system. LOL

      • LK says:

        Not really. The rich are punished for crime and go to jail all the time in Western democratic states.

        But then perhaps you do not live in the real world.

        • Cosmo Kramer says:

          Hilariously weak reply, LK

          “all the time”

          Really?

          • Harold says:

            The rich are not immune from prosecution, but they are treated more favorably by the current system. I believe it is wrong to say that the rich have licence to commit crimes, it is arguable whether the rich go to jail “all the time”.

            • Cosmo Kramer says:

              You can’t attack or defend the current system without accurately describing it. Lord Keynes does no such thing. He can’t. Admitting the glaring flaws of the current system debunks his entire position.

    • Bharat says:

      You bizarrely assume that people who support the state do not demand that corrupt or abusive police be themselves placed on trial, indicted, tried, and if found guilty fired and given appropriate punishments.

      This certainly occurs with the modern state, but the question is not whether it occurs at all but whether it occurs enough. In addition, in a society where individuals voluntarily paid police, they could stop payments at anytime, 1) serving as a disincentive and thus prevention from such events happening at all, and 2) immediately removing access to funding for those bad organizations.

    • Samson Corwell says:

      Rothbard may have been good at economics (I’m not qualified to gauge his skill at it), but when it came to matters of law he shows an understanding of it no greater than Paris Hilton has about nuclear physics. Which, I suppose, is my main complaint about libertarians: you guys have your heads in economics books, but when you talk about subjects you don’t have a familiarity with (i.e., ICANN and domain names), you guys derail like a mile long freight train that’s reached the end of its track.

  3. John says:

    I’d like to ask a basic question, but I’m sure it’s been answered many times by the “framers” of libertarianism. My problem is, I haven’t seen the answer yet in my very limited reading. So, I understand the argument that taxation is theft in the libertarian world. In the real world, however, all of us who comment on this blog, and presumably, all of us in America benefit to a greater or lesser extent from the local, state, and federal government’s activity. The federal government provides very good security (as in, for example, no invading armies); although infrastructure could certainly be better, it’s really pretty good as compared to much of the world; there’s electricity for most people, roads, police, emergency medical care, fire fighting, environmental protection, etc. is the thinking that because individuals didn’t ask for these things, they shouldn’t have to pay for them — even though they must benefit from them. In other words, in the current “real” world, is taxation theft because no one got permission from individuals to use their particular money in the particular way it was used, even though those individuals do get a great deal of benefit from the way it was used?

    • K.P. says:

      Yeah, pretty much. Taking without permission is theft.. Some thieves might be preferable to others but they’re still thieves in the end.

      • LK says:

        “Taking without permission” is a not sufficient condition for theft.

        E.g., a father can take his child’s toy without permission as a punishment but it is not theft, nor is it theft for a legitimate government to take a reasonable % of the income of one of its citizens to pay for public goods.

        • guest says:

          Government isn’t a caretaker; It’s a servant.

          It has delegated authority from specific individuals who, individually, have sufficient authority to delegate it.

        • Mike T says:

          Sure, if you take the view that the government is yo daddy.

        • K.P. says:

          “E.g., a father can take his child’s toy without permission as a punishment but it is not theft”

          Of course, general statement, nothing more so relax.

          “nor is it theft for a legitimate government to take a reasonable % of the income of one of its citizens to pay for public goods.”

          That’s the very thing in question, friend. Bad starting point.

          Much like “legitimate” I believe “reasonable %” is another largely disputed (useless) word, unless it’s something like “as much as they can before tax collectors start getting shot en mass” but even that isn’t very grounded.

          Perhaps you’d like to start filling some of these vague terms in.

        • Major-Freedom says:

          LK:

          Legitimate according to what concrete principles?

      • Harold says:

        We get tangled up in what words mean again. Theft is the action of stealing – not too helpful. Stealing is “take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.”
        See, here is the problem – without legal right. the argument will just come down to whether the Govt is legitimate. If you think it is, then taxes are not theft, if you think it isn’t, then taxes are theft.

        • Mike T says:

          But even those who may hold the view that the US government is legitimate with statutory authority to torture (Guantanamo detainees) and murder (innocent civilians on the wrong end of a hellfire missile), could rightfully see those acts for what they are… torture (rather than enhanced interrogation under Bush legal memos) and murder (rather than act of war under AUMF). Government legitimacy or legal statute doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mask what those acts constitute.

          • Harold says:

            The definition of torture does not depend on legitimacy, so torture is torture whoever inflicts it. Murder is unlawful killing, so yes, there is a legitimate dispute about whether hellfire victims are murdered. There is certainly a case that it breaches international law, even if not national law, so it could be argued to be murder.

            • Major.Freedom says:

              “The definition of torture does not depend on legitimacy, so torture is torture whoever inflicts it.”

              Libertarians agree. They say the same thing about theft.

              • Harold says:

                Torture is infliction of pain on another as a punishment or in order to make them do something. It is not to do so wrongfully or without a legal right. Even if one had a legal right it would still be torture. I guess because we pretty much forbid all torture, we don’t have a different word for legal torture. Enhanced interrogation is not quite it, because they are not claiming legal torture, they are claiming not torture.

                Stealing is taking without permission – but not only that. Most definitions include another requirement – wrongfully, unlawfully, wrong or illegal.

                So if we define stealing as one person taking the property of another without permission, and we ignore the wrongfully or illegally, then theft may be a matter of fact. If we use the full definition, we must know whether the act was wrong or illegal, and therefeore it is not a matter of fact.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                I’ve always regarded theft as a matter of fact apart from positive law. I mean, you’re talking to an anarcho-capitalist.

                I think most people would think the same regarding theft apart from positive law if pressed. For example, if the government announced that starting tomorrow it will be “legal” for anyone to take possession of any Toyota Camry they wanted, in US territory, then I think most people would still consider themselves victims of theft should their Camry be taken by some hoodlum.

                For ancaps, the “full definition” (borrowing your term) for theft, it happens that the “taking something without the homesteader’s permission” and “illegal” are one in the same.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                But back to your point on separating theft and torture in terms of seeming objective immorality of torture.

                Isn’t everything you say about theft apply to torture as well? If not, why not? You said torture does not depend on “legitimacy”. If theft does, why not torture?

                Are you just trying to shake the foundation of theft but not torture, in terms of what is really really wrong no matter what, so that you can rationalize your own worldview that bans torture but not ” theft” as defined by anarcho-capitalists?

              • Harold says:

                “Are you just trying to shake the foundation of theft but not torture, in terms of what is really really wrong no matter what, so that you can rationalize your own worldview that bans torture but not ” theft” as defined by anarcho-capitalists?”

                No. I am using normal definitions found in dictionaries. Anarcho-capitalists apparently have a special definition of theft not shared by dictionaries. It is anarcho -capitalists that are shaking foundations in order for words to fit their world view.

          • Samson Corwell says:

            One can hold the view that (a) the government is legitimate and (b) commits acts that it shouldn’t.

        • Major-Freedom says:

          Very few, if any, of those who would initially say “Yes, government is legitimate”, would persist in doing so after a sufficiently detailed and lengthy dialogue that addresses and analyzes their fundamental convictions.

          It is not just a matter of opinion whether taxes are theft or whether they are not. Tax collection is an interaction between two (or more) people. It is not like an opinion on best or favorite flavor of ice cream which only deals with how one and same individual treats their own body. Tax collection is social, and is an inter-subjective, i.e. objective phenomena and as such subjective opinions regarding taxation can be objectively wrong or objectively right in relation to it.

          When A taxes B, it is not the case that the activity is theft or not theft merely by virtue of an opinion unconstrained to objectivity. There is a definite, objective answer. A is either a thief or not, and as a corollary, B is either a victim of aggression or not.

          • John says:

            That position I suspect is not supportable in the end. That taxes are theft is certainly not provable the way fire needing oxygen to burn is provable. To the extent it is provable through philosophical deduction, many would argue exactly the same for the existence of God, but that position has not generally been accepted by the philosophical community or ordinary people. This is not to say that God does not exist or that His existence cannot be proved philosophically (personally I don’t think it can be, but that’s a different question) but rather that the type of proof available to show God’s existence is different in force from the type of proof available to prove that fire needs oxygen. Obviously most economists and moral philosophers do not regard taxation as theft, and most ordinary people don’t either. That does not mean that it is not theft, or that they aren’t all wrong not to be persuaded by the arguments that it is, but it does suggest to me that the type of “proof” available to show that taxation is theft is not the same sort of proof, requiring that every person in good faith accept the proposition as true, as is available to show fire cannot burn without oxygen.

            • Major.Freedom says:

              Couple of things.

              Most importantly, inter-subjective, praxeological grounding for propositions is not actually the same as armchair proofs of the existence of God. The latter is unconstrained from action, whereas the former is not. Logic constrained to action is 100% empirical, but not positivist.

              Secondly, your argument hinges on what “every person in good faith” should think provable or not provable. That begs the question because that is the very thing under scrutiny here. A “good person of faith” is not some abstract person who exists in some Platonic realm of ideal forms, under which arguments are to be proposed to this abstract ideal person and if such an abstract person deems an argument worthy of truth, then the argument is true.

              What I am saying is that everyone has the potential to BE, or more accurately, KNOW, when an argument is true not because the Platonic ideal form person says it’s true, but because it can be shown as objectively true via argument here on Earth.

              On a side note, doesn’t your standard of “every good person of faith” require you to personally to know what such a person would think is provable versus not provable, in order for me to prove to you that something is provable? How would you even know if I have successfully presented to you an argument that “every good person of faith” would know, or at least agree, is true? What is the grounding for your answer to that question?

              Keep going John. What you think is the end isn’t actually the end. Dig deeper.

              • John says:

                I think what I was trying to say got confused by semantics. I wasn’t saying it’s proved that fire needs oxygen because people in good faith think fire needs oxygen. I was saying that “fire needs oxygen” is an objective fact that really no one interested in the evidence can rationally disagree about because it is provable fact.

                The statement, “taxation is theft” — or to take another example, “slavery is evil” or “child sacrifice is wrong” — is a normative statement. For well over a thousand years, the common judgment of mankind was that slavery wasn’t wrong. For some similar amount of time child sacrifice enjoyed the same favorable opinion. Over time the moral judgments of humanity changed. But these judgments depended on changing definitions of evil, wrong, and in the case of “taxation is theft” it would depend on the definition of theft.

                In other words, it seems to me the statement “taxation is theft” is a statement about morality. Unless one believes in natural law, it is very hard to “prove” a statement about morality because morality is a human construct, and different humans have very different views about it. (I recognize this is not a novel observation.) I might think it immoral to impose on the country a system of organizing society that led to poverty, rampant violence, wealth being concentrated in the hands of a very few to the detriment of the vast majority of people, medical care and police only for those who could pay, etc. Others might think such a system was moral based on its avoiding even less desirable outcomes. Over time, the collective judgment of mankind makes this determination — every reasonable person agrees slavery is immoral now; likewise child sacrifice. Perhaps someday everyone will recognize that taxation always was theft. But can it be objectively proven like 2+2=4 or fire needs oxygen? Can one “prove” what is right or wrong? One can certainly develop philosophical arguments that attempt to do so, and a lot smarter people than me have made pretty good attempts. But are they successful in the end? Personally, I don’t think so.

              • K.P. says:

                That’s very well put John, you’ve identified the age old problem with ethics.

                This isn’t really that difficult for libertarians to square though, as it’s basically just common sense morality applied more rigorously.

                Most Americans agree that forced servitude (Slavery) for a private agent is morally wrong. Yet are more mixed when it comes to forced servitude (the Draft) for the government. But both are servitude and both are forced, there’s just an emotional bias favoring the latter. Just like the Draft is a special category of forced servitude, Taxation is a special category of of taking.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                John:

                I think what I was trying to say got confused by semantics. I wasn’t saying it’s proved that fire needs oxygen because people in good faith think fire needs oxygen. I was saying that “fire needs oxygen” is an objective fact that really no one interested in the evidence can rationally disagree about because it is provable fact.”

                OK, but I am saying the same thing is true for theft. Theft, when it occurs, is also an objective fact, and provable, but not provable the way God is attempted to be proved.

                “The statement, “taxation is theft” — or to take another example, “slavery is evil” or “child sacrifice is wrong” — is a normative statement. For well over a thousand years, the common judgment of mankind was that slavery wasn’t wrong. For some similar amount of time child sacrifice enjoyed the same favorable opinion. Over time the moral judgments of humanity changed. But these judgments depended on changing definitions of evil, wrong, and in the case of “taxation is theft” it would depend on the definition of theft.”

                I disagree. I think the meaning of good and evil, right and wrong, etc, always meant the the same thing, i.e. good for human existence, bad for human existence, it is just that things like slavery and theft were labelled as good or bad by different people and/or at different times.

                The same thing happened with ideas on fire. People used to believe fire was an element of all objects. Earth, wind, fire, water, etc.

                Fire changed definitions, but the whole time there was fire or not fire objectively.

                Same thing with theft and slavery. The fact that people used to believe, or still believe, that slavery or theft is morally good, does not alter the fact that there is slavery or theft.

                Then, just as now, I think the “problem of evil” isn’t that people willfully do evil. It is that people do what they believe is good but is objectively evil (like murder, rape, theft). Here I think Socrates was right. Once people understand a particular action as evil, they won’t do it, or at least do it fewer times.

                The “Banality of Evil”, as Arendt argued, happens because people believe that an evil is not evil. But if they are convinced it is evil, they won’t do it.

                What I am trying to accomplish with the state and taxation, is what people have already accomplished with slavery and murder. They successfully convinced their contemporaries that what people believed was good, or at least not evil, was evil. Once they convinced people slavery was evil, slavery was no longer chosen by those people.

                I think there exists an ethic MOST conducive to (individual) well being. I also think there is only one ethical framework that is not internally contradictory. I further think that individualist anarchism is the only non-contradictory ethic.

                Call that an objective ethic if you like.

                “In other words, it seems to me the statement “taxation is theft” is a statement about morality. Unless one believes in natural law, it is very hard to “prove” a statement about morality because morality is a human construct, and different humans have very different views about it. (I recognize this is not a novel observation.) I might think it immoral to impose on the country a system of organizing society that led to poverty, rampant violence, wealth being concentrated in the hands of a very few to the detriment of the vast majority of people, medical care and police only for those who could pay, etc. Others might think such a system was moral based on its avoiding even less desirable outcomes. Over time, the collective judgment of mankind makes this determination — every reasonable person agrees slavery is immoral now; likewise child sacrifice. Perhaps someday everyone will recognize that taxation always was theft. But can it be objectively proven like 2+2=4 or fire needs oxygen? Can one “prove” what is right or wrong? One can certainly develop philosophical arguments that attempt to do so, and a lot smarter people than me have made pretty good attempts. But are they successful in the end? Personally, I don’t think so.”

                If you are asking whether oughts can ever be is’s, then I would say no. But, I don’t think the Humean separation between is and ought was successfully proved. I don’t think they are as separate as the moral nihilists like to believe. For I look closely at what they are arguing, and I think there is a problem in stating “We cannot deduce an ought from an is.” For one thing, if we humans are something, and we somethings have knowledge of oughts and we act in accordance with such oughts (and ought nots), then clearly oughts are coming from an is in some way. Besides that, even the Humean argument is itself problematic. The statement we cannot deduce an ought from an is, seems to me an intention to convince oneself or others that we ought not think we can deduce an ought from an is. For why else concern ourselves over such a thing? If it is merely intended to state a fact, then why do the people who state this alleged fact, then go on to say that those who disagree are wrong? Is it not to convince them to change their minds? If not, why argue the point at all? For self-amusement? Well then why not grant self-amusement for the other person to be “wrong” about ought and is, and admit that such a standard is totally subjective in that truth is what makes one feel good?

                I see the statement going to absurdity when further deductions are made. I think it has to do with contradicting our natures. Who we are has, for whatever reason, a bunch of oughts and ought nots in our minds. Ought and is I think are objectively connected. It is just so difficult to do because it rests on self-reflection and deduction, which only the most brilliant minds that far surpass my own, have come close to grasping.

              • Harold says:

                MF
                “For I look closely at what they are arguing, and I think there is a problem in stating “We cannot deduce an ought from an is. For one thing, if we humans are something, and we somethings have knowledge of oughts and we act in accordance with such oughts (and ought nots), then clearly oughts are coming from an is in someway. ”

                Yes, things are required to deduce anything. Required for is different from deduced from.

                “Besides that, even the Humean argument is itself problematic. The statement we cannot deduce an ought from an is, seems to me an intention to convince oneself or others that we ought not think we can deduce an ought from an is. ”

                This is wrong. To decide whether or not you ought to do something you need an ought, not an is. We cannot calculate 3 unknowns from 2 equations. That is a statement. It is not correct to say that in making this claim the intention is to convince anyone that they ought not try to solve such a problem. The statement (an is) must be backed up by an ought (you shoudn’t waste your time) in order to conclude that one should not try to do something.

                “For why else concern ourselves over such a thing? If it is merely intended to state a fact, then why do the people who state this alleged fact, then go on to say that those who disagree are wrong? Is it not to convince them to change their minds? If not, why argue the point at all?”

                A fact is a fact. If I believe I ought to persuade you of the truth of that fact, that includes an ought. My persuasion is separate from the fact, and comes from a belief that I ought to do so.

                “For self-amusement? Well then why not grant self-amusement for the other person to be “wrong” about ought and is, and admit that such a standard is totally subjective in that truth is what makes one feel good?”

                It depends what you believe you ought to do. All those people who believe you should be left in peace with your error you simply never hear from.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                Harold:

                “Yes, things are required to deduce anything. Required for is different from deduced from.”

                I don’t understand this comment.

                Things are not required to deduce anything. Trees don’t deduce. Conscious beings deduce.

                Since this part is important, I will ask you: Doesn’t it seem a little strange for a human, an is, who think of oughts in their daily lives, to say that oughts cannot be deduced from is’s?

                If we are is’s, and we think and act with oughts in our minds, then shouldn’t there be some objective, logical link between is and ought, at least for humans? I will grant that maybe humans are with their current knowledge unable to fully understand any link, but if we can know that an is (human) carries or houses or explicates oughts, then surely it is reasonable to assume that we could find a deductive link at some point? I think all of reality is logical. A logical reality for humans should open the door for learning logical deductions for ALL of what humans are and do, including being a thing that thinks of oughts.

                “To decide whether or not you ought to do something you need an ought, not an is.”

                I know. My point is that it seems by someone choosing to state the Humean argument to me, that is, the is composed of “We can’t derive an ought from an is”, that they are attempting to accomplish something, of convincing me or themelves that due to that is, I ought not think otherwise, that is, that I can deduce ought from is. In other words, they seem to be grounding an ought on an is.

                “We cannot calculate 3 unknowns from 2 equations.”

                Remember, the thinker and writer of equations is itself a known that is present when writing those two equations. The thinker is a self-known variable. 3 variables with two equations can be solved.

                “That is a statement. It is not correct to say that in making this claim the intention is to convince anyone that they ought not try to solve such a problem.”

                Then why state it? There must be a reason someone takes time and uses up resources explaining such a thing.

                “The statement (an is) must be backed up by an ought (you shoudn’t waste your time) in order to conclude that one should not try to do something.”

                I am saying the person seems to be eliciting an ought, although it is not written down or said. It is tied to their actions.

                “For why else concern ourselves over such a thing? If it is merely intended to state a fact, then why do the people who state this alleged fact, then go on to say that those who disagree are wrong? Is it not to convince them to change their minds? If not, why argue the point at all?”

                “A fact is a fact.”

                But why tell others of such facts? What is the point? Why not encourage them to think in contradiction to these facts?

                “If I believe I ought to persuade you of the truth of that fact, that includes an ought. My persuasion is separate from the fact, and comes from a belief that I ought to do so.”

                Are you not just asserting it is separate, without showing how or why?

                “For self-amusement? Well then why not grant self-amusement for the other person to be “wrong” about ought and is, and admit that such a standard is totally subjective in that truth is what makes one feel good?”

                “It depends what you believe you ought to do. All those people who believe you should be left in peace with your error you simply never hear from.”

                But why does everyone who says we cannot derive ought from is, in fact say it? Why not just keep it secret?

              • Major.Freedom says:

                Harold:

                Another way of approaching this:

                Why would an individual concern themselves with accepting the (let’s assume “alleged” for now) fact that ought cannot be deduced from is? Typically we concern ourselves with truth in order to gain something, to improve ourselves and/or the world around us. Almost like we do this because we and the world ought to be different from what it is any any given moment in time.

                We could be repeatedly thinking of the “fact” that ought cannot be deduced from is, so as to reassure ourselves that our minds are in the right orientation. Doesn’t that carry with it the ought that we ought to improve our minds for the better, or at least change them?

                Facts are easy to be separated from oughts because thought of facts right away become a historical event, crystalized into the single history we are a part of. They are then thought of as totally self-contained. They are what they are, and you either know them or you don’t.

                Oughts are not like those thoughts. Oughts are revolutionary. Oughts are tied with controlling facts and changing potential facts to desires ones. I think I ought to go the store, and I move my body, purposefully, to go to the store. I have controlled an event and have created a fact. Because I thought I ought to go to the store, a new fact of store going was made. Oughts, it seems, are not so disconnected from facts. Maybe if we abstract ourselves from the proverbial equation, then yes, ought and is seem to be disconnected. But if we include ourselves in the equation, then maybe we are the link between is and ought, and it can only be known self-reflectively and pro-actively. We can never write it down because that would only be fact creating.

              • Harold says:

                MF: “Oughts, it seems, are not so disconnected from facts” I did not say they were disconnected from facts, but they could not be deduced form facts. There is a huge difference.

                “I will ask you: Doesn’t it seem a little strange for a human, an is, who think of oughts in their daily lives, to say that oughts cannot be deduced from is’s?”

                When we say an ought cannot be deduced from an is, we mean ought cannot logically and correctly be deduced from an is. People make wrong deductions all the time. People do deduce oughts from is’s, but they are not doing it logically. In order to deduce an ought correctly or incorrectly they must exist. Therefore I do not find in the least strange that a human (an is) can think of oughts in their daily lives and also say an ought cannot be deduced from an is. It deduced BY an is, not from an is. We tacitly or overtly assume some value or other to deduce out oughts.

                “If we are is’s, and we think and act with oughts in our minds, then shouldn’t there be some objective, logical link between is and ought, at least for humans?”

                There is some link between our existence and our thoughts about oughts. This does not mean that the oughts are logically deduced from the is’s. Some people believe we ought to kill infidels. They think and act with this ought in their minds. Does that ought have an objective link with an is? Or is it just some oughts? Our continued existence necessitates that we eat. Should we eat? Only if we wish to continue to exist. Some people think they ought not eat. There is no objective way to deduce “ought to eat” from the is that eating is required to continue to exist. Most people tacitly assume that they should continue to exist, so deduce that they ought to eat.

                “Then why state it? There must be a reason someone takes time and uses up resources explaining such a thing.” Because the person stating it thinks they ought to do so. Maybe humans are instinctively driven to persuade others to our view. Does that mean we ought to do so? No. Does it mean that many people will try to persuade others to their view? Yes. We can explain the fact that lots of people express the view that ought cannot be derived from is without needing to conclude that in fact an ought can be derived from an is.

                “But why does everyone who says we cannot derive ought from is, in fact say it? Why not just keep it secret?”

                Maybe millions of people think it and do not say it. How would you know? You only hear from the ones that think they ought to say it. Regardless, as discussed above that fact that they do so does not support that an ought can properly be derived from an is.

                “Typically we concern ourselves with truth in order to gain something, to improve ourselves and/or the world around us. Almost like we do this because we and the world ought to be different from what it is at any given moment in time.”

                Where did you get that ought from? We want the world to be different, but why should we conclude that the world ought to be different? We want the world to be different, we cannot say the world ought to be different in the particular way we want. To each individual it appears “almost as if” it ought to be so. It appears that way, but it is not really true. It seems to different people that the world ought to be different in different ways.

    • Matt M says:

      John,

      Imagine you have a leaky faucet in your house, and I am a plumber. While you sleep and without your permission, I sneak into the house and fix your faucet, leaving you a bill for $5000.

      You also happen to know that I am a member of a local organized crime syndicate. My family has bought off the police, who will not take your case against me. Others who have attempted to not pay my bills have been badly beaten, imprisoned, even murdered. I make no secret that these will be the consequences for anyone who pays up.

      Not wanting to face those consequences, you pay me. Is this theft? Technically you benefited from my having fixed your faucet, didn’t you? What do you have to complain about?

      This is the issue with taxation. We can argue over the semantics over the word “theft” all we want. What is escapable is that taxation is a one-way transaction. Both parties do not mutually consent. I am forced to purchase government roads, armies, medicine, etc. whether I want it or not, at a price solely dictated by the same person who is selling me the product. This is clearly immoral. No sane person would stand for it in any other situation.

      A plumber who went around breaking into peoples houses without their permission and fixing their faucets, then leaving them a bill for an arbitrary amount, and killing anyone who didn’t pay would be correctly identified as a dangerous psychopath. “But you benefit from him fixing your faucet!” would not be a valid argument. The same is true for the government.

      • Harold says:

        “This is clearly immoral.”
        Morality is objective then?

        • Major.Freedom says:

          Torture and murder are not??

          • Harold says:

            Torture may conceivably be moral. It depends on your morality. Many people believe it is moral in a ticking bomb situation.

            Murder is different, because it is not the same as killing. Many people believe killing is sometimes moral. Murder by definition is unlawful or illegitimate killing, so as it includes a moral aspect in the definition, it may never be moral, because if it were moral it would be killing, not murder.

            What claim do you have that your morality is the only objective one, as opposed to, say, a utilitarian one?

            • Matt M says:

              I was speaking directly to John. I am willing to guess that John is included in the 99.9% of people who believe that torture and murder are immoral.

              If I’m wrong, then we can discuss that.

              • John says:

                Your guess is right, but as you suggest, it probably was a pretty safe bet. Well, I don’t know that I completely agree with MF, but it’s certainly possible to get an intellectual workout around here. “Humean.” Haven’t heard that adjective in probably 20 years.

            • Major.Freedom says:

              Harold:

              Are you not making an arbitrary distinction here? On the one hand you say torture could be moral. On the other you say murder can never be moral “by definition.”

              Well why can’t someone say torture is immoral “by definition”?

              Are you not in fact begging the question? You seem to be defining immoral actions to include murder, and then you say aha, murder is immoral because in my definitional list of immoral actions, murder is listed.

              You asked me what claim I have that my morality is the only objective one, as opposed to say utilitarianiam.

              But that is not what I am saying. I am saying there is an objective ethic. Whether or not I adopt it, or even know of it, is up to me.

              I reject utilitarianism because it is contradictory (when universalized). It calls on me to sanction my own murder, or impoverishment, as morally just, if this so happened to be viewed by the “greatest number of people” as something that would make them the happiest. Not saying it is true now, or will be true in my life time. But that is what it calls for.

              Utilitarianism demands the individual to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. Well, that certainly cannot be practised by everyone. If everyone sacrificed themselves for others, then everyone would die.

              Utilitarianism is actually an ethical fascism. Only a portion of the population, the majority, can practise utilitarian ethics, because there has to be a sub-population to be sacrificed. It is an ethic derived from a conviction that the human race must persist even if it means destroying innocent individuals. It is the modern religion of our age called Humanism. Individuals used to believe that their life only has meaning if eternal God has meaning. Now people believe their life only has meaning if eternal Human race has meaning.

              People used to fear annihilation or non-exiatence of God. Now they fear annihilation or non-existence of the human race.

              Humanism is the new collectivism. I am told that I must fear the human race going extinct at some indefinite point in the future past my own death. But I don’t need any God. Not Yahweh, and not Humanity either. I am not afraid of myself dying, and I am not afraid of the human race going extinct. I am not afraid of anything.

              • Harold says:

                “Well why can’t someone say torture is immoral “by definition”? I would ask them what their definition of torture was.

                If you defined torture as the immoral imposition of pain for punishment or to make someone do something, then clearly torture would be immoral by definition. It is just that all the definitions I have seen do not include such a clause, so it appears that it not immoral by definition.

                My distinction is only as arbitrary as the definition of words.

                “John is included in the 99.9% of people who believe that torture and murder are immoral.” Have you found out how many people think torturing someone to prevent a nuclear explosion in New York is immoral? Or even to rescue a kidnap victim locked in a box? I think your 99.9% was just made up.

                Your analysis of utilitarianism is not necessarily correct. There are some who view life as suffering, and believe the greatest good will be accomplished by the end of humanity, hence the end of suffering. This is also a utilitarian view.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                Harold:

                “If you defined torture as the immoral imposition of pain for punishment or to make someone do something, then clearly torture would be immoral by definition. It is just that all the definitions I have seen do not include such a clause, so it appears that it not immoral by definition.”

                But I am showing you one now. You just saw it. Isn’t that enough now? If not, why not?

                “My distinction is only as arbitrary as the definition of words.”

                But all those words rwfer to the same underlying reality of actual events.

                “John is included in the 99.9% of people who believe that torture and murder are immoral.”

                “Have you found out how many people think torturing someone to prevent a nuclear explosion in New York is immoral? Or even to rescue a kidnap victim locked in a box? I think your 99.9% was just made up.”

                Yes, it was made up, if we ignore context.

                “Your analysis of utilitarianism is not necessarily correct. There are some who view life as suffering, and believe the greatest good will be accomplished by the end of humanity, hence the end of suffering. This is also a utilitarian view.”

                I agree utilitarianism contains contradictions. That is my point. I wasn’t saying people WILL think what I said above. I said IF they do, then utilitarian ethics deems murder and torture of innocent people as morally justified.

                I am just testing utilitarianism by using it as a guide to action. Utilitarian ethics sanctions genocide of innocent people, IF “the greatest number of people derive the greatest happiness” from it.

              • Harold says:

                “But I am showing you one now. You just saw it. Isn’t that enough now? If not, why not?” partly because I am not sure what you are showing me – are you referring to my definition of torture as immoral pain infliction? It is not sufficient because I could define torture as a small green elephant. I would not say that is sufficient for the word torture to actually mean a small green elephant. We have to stick to agreed definitions if we are to communicate. The agreed definition of torture does not include “immoral” or similar.

                “Utilitarian ethics sanctions genocide of innocent people, IF “the greatest number of people derive the greatest happiness” from it.”

                Indeed, why is this wrong?

                Lots of people support torture in similar circumstances. Most people will kill one to save 6 in the trolley problem.

                One can still be a utilitarian and believe that in practice torture will be wrong, because in practice people will suffer more if we allow it than if we do not, even if in certain circumstances it may be moral. Similarly with genocide.

                How we asses the outcome is different question from what we should measure.

          • Samson Corwell says:

            Rothbard thought torture was moral. He also thought debt bondage was moral.

    • guest says:

      The federal government provides very good security (as in, for example, no invading armies) …

      It’s not security when they are the ones who are taking your liberty.

      • John says:

        I just mean that it’s hard for an invading army, or random gangs of thugs, or herds of zombies to get into to your house, take your stuff, and harm your loved ones because it is difficult for them to get by the Marines and the Air Force, etc. Everyone who lives in America benefits from that “service,” whether they want to pay for it or not. That doesn’t necessarily mean taxation is not theft. I’m just trying to understand the premise of the the theory that taxation is theft.

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    Since we’ve had these same debates with LK and the others so many times before, I like to refer to the historical highlights. Here, Tel explains the problem with “market clearing prices” to LK:

    http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2013/10/explaining-the-success-of-the-keynesian-revolution.html#comment-76820

    It’s like having our own Sirius/XM oldies channel. Remember this gem from October 2013??!!

    • LK says:

      An exchange that shows just incompetent tel is.

      As for you: So is Hayek in the above passage thinking of a tendency towards supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices and wages, which are adjusted in trades towards market clearing levels by market agents?

      Yes or no?

      • Major-Freedom says:

        How does it show Tel to be “incompetent”?

        • LK says:

          Tel is implying — as he does in other places — that a tendency to supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices is not part of Austrian price theory.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            How is he “implying” that?

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    Aw, the memories. Remember when LK tried to explaining undistorted prices as floating somewhere out there just waiting to be discovered?

    the whole notion that there exists [present tense] a universal set of market-clearing values for prices and wages just waiting to be discovered by adjusting prices or Walrasian tâtonnement is itself little more than a quasi-theological superstition of modern neoclassical and Austrian economics

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2013/05/misesian-economic-calculation-and.html

    • LK says:

      Yet again, roddis, it is you who are ignorant of Austrian theory:

      “Persons with goods or services they hope to sell must continually experiment to discover the ‘market price’ of any particular item. As the students will have learned from the classroom auctions, it is possible to determine, by continued bargaining, the price at which an item will ‘clear the market’ at any particular moment. At that price, determined by the relative eagerness and subjective values of owners or potential sellers and would-be buyers, the number of units of a good or service wanted and the number offered will be the same. But no one can know in advance what this price will be.” (Greaves, Bettina B. 1984. Free Market Economics: A Syllabus. Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY. 1984. p. 51).
      ———–

      This implies that, yes, an abstract market clearing price for that good exists — even if it has not been found yet.

      Of course, if some Austrians recognise that not all demand curves for all products are well behaved, then they will modify that statement to:

      ” that there exists a set of market-clearing values for **most or many** prices and wages just waiting to be discovered by adjusting prices …

      • Major.Freedom says:

        LK, undistorted prices cannot exist using the praxeological definition Roddis was referring to, when there is central banking and intervention into the market in general.

        Roddis wasn’t denying that hypothetically speaking, if prices were X, then there would be no surpluses or shortages.

        He is saying that you are straw manning him to claim that Austrians believe that in a hampered market, undistorted prices are “out there” waiting to be discovered by market actors. They CAN’T be discovered even in principle because there is monetary and other violent intervention. In other words, you can’t accuse Roddis of believing in what you call a “quasi-theological superstition” in your oh so typical “I don’t even understand the words I am using” manner, because he doean’t even accept that undistorted prices are capable of being discovered in a disorted economy!

        • Major.Freedom says:

          And, the quote by Greaves uses “market prices” to mean “clearing prices”. Not a good rebuttal.

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    Typo: when LK tried to explain undistorted prices.

    Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram sing about undistorted prices:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkI-B2JWSZI

    • LK says:

      So is Hayek in this passage thinking of a tendency towards supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices and wages, which are adjusted in trades towards market clearing levels by market agents?

      Yes or no?

      Every evasion simply proves your ignorance of Austrian economics, roddis.

      • Major-Freedom says:

        Why does Roddis have to answer for Hayek again?

      • guest says:

        What do *you* mean by “market clearing levels”?

        The point of production is to chase consumer preferences – that’s what prices for all goods need to be adjusting to, in order to be profitable.

        Preferences are subjective and change all the time, so there’s no “universal set” of them.

        The market clears when individuals voluntarily agree or disagree to trade – as opposed to being violently prevented from, or coerced into, trade.

        • LK says:

          “The market clears when individuals voluntarily agree or disagree to trade”

          Market clearing in Austrian theory has another much broader meaning than this trivial definition: namely, supply and demand equilibrium throughout a product market.

          You need only read Robert Murphy:

          “A surplus (or a ‘glut’) occurs when producers are trying to sell more units of a good or service than consumers want to purchase (at a particular price). A shortage occurs when consumers want to buy more units than producers want to sell (at a particular price). In this context, the equilibrium price (or the market-clearing price) is the one at which the amount supplied exactly equals the amount demanded. If the market is in equilibrium, there is no surplus and no shortage.”

          (Murphy, Robert P. 2010. Lessons for the Young Economist. Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala. pp. 156–157).

          • guest says:

            Market clearing in Austrian theory has another much broader meaning than this trivial definition …

            It’s not trivial, because shortages and surpluses don’t last when the trades are voluntary:

            The Ph.D. Glut Revisited
            http://archive.lewrockwell.com/north/north427.html

            The economist rarely uses the words “glut” and “shortage” without adding: at some price. Other scholars are not equally wise.

            A free market theory of pricing rests on the supposition that gluts and shortages are temporary phenomena. Prices adjust so as to clear a market. If this does not take place, the free market economist goes looking for evidence of state intervention.

            • Harold says:

              The description by Guest of free market pricing seems to fit exactly with LK’s “a tendency towards supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices and wages, which are adjusted in trades towards market clearing levels by market agents.”

              What is the significance of this?

    • Bob Roddis says:

      The absurdity of LK’s “analysis” can be shown by the constantly changing fads in fashion and music in the 1960s. For several years, the Yardbirds were the musical style that everyone wanted to emulate. Suddenly, the New Yardbirds appeared on the scene and their style controlled the market for decades. Thereafter, no one would emulate the original Yardbirds except as a novelty or oldies act. Neither the New Yardbirds’ style nor the desire to acquire it were floating somewhere out there in 1967, until after they appeared in 1969.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin

      Further, whatever it is that happens to bands and fashion when they go out of fashion is what is predicted by Austrian analysis.

      • John says:

        Okay, now I’m completely lost. I realize these issues have been discussed a lot before so it’s probably annoying to go over them again, but what is the analogy here between pop music and Austrian economics? Does everybody understand this but me?

        • Bob Roddis says:

          What people will buy is based upon their subjective values. LK has proposed that these desires and associated prices FLOAT THROUGH THE ETHER awaiting discovery by robotic Austrian humanoids. In reality, these desires and their associated prices are constantly changing and can and must be constantly discovered by persons in the market engaged in exchange. Changing fashions in music, clothes and hair in the 60s is exactly the type of behavior one expects to see applying Austrian analysis to all human behavior and human action.

          These are examples of Hayek’s knowledge problem and/or his description of “the equilibrium structure” of prices. It is why neither LK nor the other statists will explain where and how the elected bureaucracy will obtain its allegedly superior knowledge. The bureaucracy does not and cannot have such superior knowledge and the statists simply do not want average people to understand that. Thus, we get his disruptive tactics.

          • LK says:

            “LK has proposed that these desires and associated prices FLOAT THROUGH THE ETHER awaiting discovery by robotic Austrian humanoids.. “

            Your laughable straw man arguments are getting more impressive by the moment, roddis.

            Meanwhile, here is an actual Austrian:

            “Persons with goods or services they hope to sell must continually experiment to discover the ‘market price’ of any particular item. As the students will have learned from the classroom auctions, it is possible to determine, by continued bargaining, the price at which an item will ‘clear the market’ at any particular moment.”
            (Greaves, Bettina B. 1984. Free Market Economics: A Syllabus. Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, NY. 1984. p. 51).

            That is actually what I was talking about. No more, no less.

            You’re simply too stupid to know your own theory.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              That approximates what I’ve been saying, not what you’ve been saying. Arguing with you is a waste of time.

              Where’s the justification for the violence? Where and how does the bureaucracy get its superior knowledge?

              • LK says:

                “That approximates what I’ve been saying…,”

                lol…

                So: is Hayek in the cited passage you constantly quote thinking of a tendency towards supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices and wages, which are adjusted in trades towards market clearing levels by market agents?

                Yes or no?

                Clown.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Via flexible PLANS which include potential changes in prices, wages, supplies, styles, locations, ingredients, the identify of potential customers etc….as the result of the knowledge produce by the process of free and voluntary exchange.

                As opposed to a processs of being compelled to act pursuant the threat of violent intervention.

                For the 18,000,000th time.

                http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/07/tom-woods-interviews-me-about-private-defense.html#comment-704337

              • LK says:

                Is that a “yes”?

              • Philippe says:

                “Via flexible PLANS”

                Lol. Bob has resorted to making up his own form of libertarian economics.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                From LK, we can expect large-law-firm high quality doubletalk and B.S.

                From Philippe, we learn that entrepreneurs do not have plans, that they do not put them into effect and that they do not change those plans based upon changing circumstances.

                From Philippe, we also learn that walking away and refusing to deal with another person is a form of violence but that government edicts are not enforced by violence.

                Thanks for the heads-up, Philippe. No doubletalk and B.S. from you.

              • Philippe says:

                “From Philippe, we also learn that walking away and refusing to deal with another person is a form of violence”

                I never said that. However, using violence to stop someone from accessing resources which they need to stay alive is violence. You simply claim that it is not “aggressive violence”.

              • Philippe says:

                “government edicts are not enforced by violence”

                spending money or “printing money” is not “violence”.

                You claim that taxation is “violence”. But then why not say that charging rent is “violence”? In both cases if the person doesn’t pay, law enforcement agents get involved.

                The only difference is you claim that the government has no legitimate right to demand payment, whereas the private landlord does.

                This claim depends on your ethical/political theory and your theory of property rights. Which I disagree with.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Wise man Philippe pronounces: spending money or “printing money” is not “violence”.

                Good thing Philippe took copious notes at the Murphy/Mosler debate.

                Simply amazing.

              • Philippe says:

                How is spending or printing money “violence”?

                Please explain.

              • Cosmo Kramer says:

                This is not a Libertarian secret………

                “Aggression, for the purposes of NAP, is defined as the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another. Specifically, any unsolicited actions of others that physically affect an individual’s property or person, no matter if the result of those actions is damaging, beneficial, or neutral to the owner, are considered violent or aggressive when they are against the owner’s free will and interfere with his right to self-determination and the principle of self-ownership.”

              • Philippe says:

                you missed the preceding sentence:

                “NAP and property rights are closely linked, since what aggression is depends on what a person’s rights are.”

              • Major.Freedom says:

                Philippe:

                “However, using violence to stop someone from accessing resources which they need to stay alive is violence.”

                So violence would take place if the person would otherwise die, but not if they would otherwise seriously suffer but remain barely alive?

                What kind of an arbitrary and silly standard for violence is that?

              • guest says:

                This claim depends on your ethical/political theory and your theory of property rights. Which I disagree with.

                For you to be able to disagree, you’d have to have a positive theory of your own.

                Otherwise, on what basis could you disagree with any theory?

              • Philippe says:

                “legitimately owned property”

                If tax revenue is the legitimate property of the state and not of the individual tax payer, then demanding payment of it, or enforcing payment, is not aggression according to the definition you posted above.

                Just as a landlord demanding rent or enforcing payment of rent is not aggression by that definition, if the rent money is the legitimate property of the landlord and not of the tenant.

              • Cosmo Kramer says:

                okay….

                but we disagree on that legitimacy of state ownership.

              • Philippe says:

                Right. So “violence” and “aggression” are superfluous terms in this context, which presuppose beliefs about what does and doesn’t constitute legitimate ownership.

              • guest says:

                If tax revenue is the legitimate property of the state …

                Bizarre …

                Governments are established and sustained by individuals, for individuals; but the *government* owns the fruits of my labor?

                That defeats the purpose of a government.

                And arbitrators are not parties to contracts, so they can’t own anything of the party members.

                They are set up, by the parties involved, to enforce the contracts that individuals make with each other.

                (Not that there exists a contract one could point to that legitimizes the role of the American government as an arbiter between individuals.)

        • Bob Roddis says:

          It all comes down to a few simple issues. The statists claim that violence solves problems better than the NAP. We respond by saying that the elected bureaucracy cannot and does not have the knowledge necessary to accomplish what the statists want to accomplish. Further, we point out that it is violent intervention in the first place that distorts prices leading to the very economic problems that the statists want to solve. That is why we are constantly asking for a justification of their insistence upon the initiation of violence, a justification which is never forthcoming. What always follows is a rude changing of the subject, fussing about definitions, etc…….

          • Philippe says:

            “The statists claim that violence solves problems better than the NAP”

            No. Those who disagree with your particular political ideology (‘anarcho-capitalism’) also disagree with your use of the terms ‘violence’ and ‘NAP’. They do not claim that “violence” solves problems better than the NAP”.

            • Major.Freedom says:

              So…fussing about definitions it is then.

            • Major.Freedom says:

              What “particular ideology” can show taxes are not theft, that doesn’t rest on flawed premises?

        • Richie says:

          John, what you are witnessing is what has been a constant back-and-forth between the “Lord Keynes” and Bob Roddis about prices, economic calculation, etc.

          It basically goes like this:

          Roddis: “LK and his friends don’t understand economic calculation.”

          LK: “Rubbish! You clown. You don’t even understand basic Austrian concepts.”

          Roddis: “Obfuscation.”

          LK: “lol … you are too stupid to understand what Hayek meant.”

          Roddis: “It’s pointless to ‘debate’ LK.”

          LK: “I’ll take that as a concession.”

          Repeat that about a million times, John, and you’ll have every conversation between the two.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            Exactly. I’m bookmarking that for the future oldies show.

          • Bob Roddis says:

            Richie: I understand that you understand these issues. However, leaving LK’s nonsense go unchallenged leaves the impression that he has created an issue of doubt about Austrian analysis where in fact there is no doubt. His particular ruse today is his claim that Austrians analysis depends SOLEY upon “flexible prices and wages” and that evidence of a reduction in production (other form of a change of plans) refutes Austrian analysis. In the past, he has claimed that the analysis of price distortions resulting from money dilution is completely unrelated to the socialist calculation debate.

            Non-Austrians simply do not understand economic calculation. At all. Ever. No one else seems to want to call them on it which I think is huge mistake. In terms of seeking new converts, it seems to me that anyone who grasps economic calculation can easily see that the Keynesians and monetarists are blowing hot air. Should we not call them on it?

            Further, I don’t post comments here all that much.

            • Philippe says:

              the problem is that Roddis confuses aspects of austrian economics with his anarcho-capitalist ideology/ ethical belief system.

              “LK and his friends don’t understand economic calculation.”

              According to austrian economics, ‘economic calculation’ means making profit and loss calculations. Successful economic calculation depends on flexible prices which move towards market-clearing levels, as these prices coordinate the actions of different market participants.

              According to this view, if prices are not flexible and do not move towards market clearing levels, there will be ‘coordination problems’ resulting in unsuccessful economic calculations and things such as unemployment, bankruptcies, goods shortages, recessions, etc. Basically the market process will not work properly.

              Bob simply ignores all of this. According to Bob, ‘economic calculation’ just means any sort of ‘voluntary exchange’ in the absence of government. So long as people are engaging in ‘voluntary exchange’ in the absence of government, then there can be no failure of ‘economic calculation’, by Bob’s definition.

              According to this view, it doesn’t matter whether prices are flexible and move towards market-clearing levels. “Coordination problems” do not exist in his version of economics/ethics/ideology. If the market doesn’t work as well as it could, resulting in things such as unemployment, bankruptcies, goods shortages, recessions, it doesn’t matter.

              So what Bob is doing is confusing his anarcho-capitalist ideology with austrian economics.

              LK keeps trying to point out that Bob doesn’t understand the subject, and Bob keeps failing to understand what LK is saying, because his whole way of understanding everything is structured around his anarcho-capitalist ideology.

              • LK says:

                Yes, Philippe, that sums up the problem with roddis very well: he has very little understanding of the Austrian economic theory he claims nobody else understands.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                Philippe, thanks for clarifying that you are on the same misguided page as LK. As I’ve mentioned many times, the unsustainable boom phase is chock-full of “market clearing prices”. Unsustainable asset bubbles are full of “market clearing prices”. Exchanges subject to violence do not represent the actual viewpoints of the participants and therefore the price information is faulty. Further, exchanges that result from violence-based “stimulus” are based upon prices that do not represent the actual economic reality and are thus distorted and are unsustainable. You are both clueless regarding the entire subject matter and analysis.

              • LK says:

                “As I’ve mentioned many times, the unsustainable boom phase is chock-full of “market clearing prices”. Unsustainable asset bubbles are full of “market clearing prices”.”

                lol!! this takes the cake..

                If an unsustainable boom phase is chock-full of “market clearing prices” then there would be no shortages or surpluses in many markets and such markets would be in supply and demand equilibrium.

                That is, any alleged inter-temporal coordination problems — as in the ABCT — would not be happening if all or most prices were simply adjusting rapidly to clear markets.

                You have just shown us how you do not even understand the very concept of a market clearing price, roddis.

              • LK says:

                But I forgot you’ve made these insane comments before:

                “As I’ve said before 387 times, MARKET CLEARING PRICES EXIST ALL THROUGHOUT THE UNSUSTAINABLE BOOM until that moment when the bust begins. That is one reason why I’m not a big fan of the term “market clearing prices” as I’ve explained 134 times before.”
                http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/04/austrian-business-cycle-theory-surprisingly-useful-even-among-its-critics.html#comment-434540

                Is that right? All throughout a boom every price or most prices are market clearing prices?? Where the products markets are in supply and demand equilibrium? lol

              • LK says:

                Here we go Philippe, you cannot beat this Roddis quote for sheer, utter, mind-bogglingly stupidity and incoherence:

                “I still maintain that economic calculation has absolutely nothing to do with “a price vector that will clear all markets” and neither does the Hayek quote you constantly present. A 20 year unsustainable Keynesian boom would have had “market clearing prices” for 20 years right up until the bottom drops out.

                http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/2013/01/lord-keynes-debunking-austrian.html?showComment=1359199941427#c5328116548878528365

              • Philippe says:

                Bob,

                you’re mixing up the ABCT with other aspects of austrian economics.

                For example, austrians argue that if wages are above their market clearing level, the result will be unemployment. If the price of goods is above its market clearing level, there will be unsold goods. If the price is below its market clearing level, there will be shortages.

                According to austrian econ, if prices (and wages) are not flexible and do not move towards their market clearing levels this will result in things such as unemployment and business failures.

                The ABCT, on the other hand, assumes that market prices are flexible and tend to market-clearing, but argues that the rate of interest is set too low, supposedly leading to unsustainable capital investments.

                LK has shown that market prices are generally not flexible in the way assumed by austrian econ, and so according to austrian theory the market economy should be dysfunctional on that basis alone.

                This is a separate point to that of the ABCT.

              • Cosmo Kramer says:

                “LK has shown that market prices are generally not flexible in the way assumed by austrian econ, and so according to austrian theory the market economy should be dysfunctional on that basis alone.”

                His system exacerbates any inflexibility in prices.

                The free market can easily adjust when the starting point is a free market.

              • LK says:

                Yes, but it is much worse than this, Philippe:

                (1) the Wicksellian natural rate of interest can’t even be defined or identified outside a world with one commodity (e.g., the so-called “corn economy” model). This point alone damns the classical Austrian business cycle theory.

                (2) even the ABCT needs some degree of short-run price and wage rigidity or at least time lags in wage and price adjustment for intertemporal discoordination effects to happen.
                —————–

                So, on point (2), you see how stark, raving mad it is for roddis to write that a “20 year unsustainable Keynesian boom would have had “market clearing prices” for 20 years right up until the bottom drops out.”

              • Philippe says:

                “even the ABCT needs some degree of short-run price and wage rigidity or at least time lags in wage and price adjustment for intertemporal discoordination effects to happen”

                Do you mean that without them there would be no recession following an investment bust? Or do you mean something else?

              • Philippe says:

                Do you mean that without them there would be no recession following an investment bust (according to austrian theory)? Or do you mean something else?

              • LK says:

                I am thinking of the criticisms of ABCT in J. Hicks, “The Hayek Story”, in J., Hicks (ed), Critical Essays in Monetary Theory. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1967, 203-215, at 207-207) and most recently in Arash Molavi Vasséi’s “Ludwig von Mises’s Business Cycle Theory: Static Tools for Dynamic Analysis,” in Harald Hagemann, Tamotsu Nishizawa, Yukihiro Ikeda (eds.). Austrian Economics in Transition: From Carl Menger to Friedrich Hayek. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2010, 196–217, at p. 213:

                “In this light, Mises’s business cycle theory depends on a price-lag, on nominal wages increasing while the prices of final outputs remain temporarily constant (the boom).”

              • Samson Corwell says:

                Exchanges subject to violence…

                Like collecting on debt or restitution?

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Note how LK has not answered Joe Fetz nor has he explained from whence the wisdom of voters appears that cannot and will not materialize when the same folks engage in voluntary exchange. His disruptive tactics are boring.

  8. Bob Roddis says:

    Somehow “market clearing prices” do not seem that important for explaining the transition in fashionable clothes and music going from the Monkees to Blue Cheer.

    https://pulmyears.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/monkees0.jpeg

    • LK says:

      Does a tendency towards market clearing prices have an important role in Austrian theory or not?

      Anyone who actually understands Austrian economics could answer this question easily. Of course, you cannot, given you do not understand Austrian theory.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        LK,

        What Hayek wrote is not the standard for Austrian theory.

        Austrian theory is praxeology. Action. Action is the purposeful seeking of subjective ends using scarce means.

        If you want to know whether a particular argument is “important” in Austrian theory (that is your honest intention here, isn’t it?), then such an argument has to be grounded on action.

        Prices are set by market actors through exchange. The choices and actions that market actors make over time leaves behind a particular history of price data. You do not understand Austrian THEORY because you keep judging and gauging arguments as valid or not, inclusive in Austrian theory or not, by searching through past history and trying to identify patterns that match YOUR theory, which is not Austrian by the way, and you are unwilling to refrain from projecting your theory onto others. You are not correctly describing nor are you even understanding the Austrian theory you claim to be talking about and pestering Roddis about whether a mental tool for understanding action as directing towards ends the historical result of which more ends would be sought after, is “important” to Austrian theory or not.

        The reason why he is not answering flat out yes or no to your question, is because he knows that your understanding is totally absent, and that the question you believe you’re asking is assuming a positive statement the real, Austrian meaning of which contradicts your beliefs concerning it.

        You are like a first year art history student who has a pedestrian understanding of quantum mechanica, who wanders into a PhD class on quantum mechanics, and constantly blurts out “Is tunnelling ” important” to the WKB approximation? YES or NO?”

        The people there would not answer yes or no because they know you don’t even understand what you are asking, and that your actual intention is to flame and act obnoxiously.

        For the millionth time, and I don’t expect you to understand, but the argument of market prices tending to clearing is something that can never be observed, as long as humans act. It is a theory that allows one to understand past history. It is not a theory of prediction. It is not a theory of what we should observe temporally. It is a mental tool. It is but one tool. Mises referree to it, Rothbard referred to it. It is fruitless to quibble over “importance” when you have not even provided Roddis with a definition of “important” for him to answer.

        PS I notice that you have changed your monicker from “Lord Keynes” to “LK”. Did you finally learn how ridiculously hypocritical it is to accuse people of being “cultish” given you named yourself the name of another person, with “Lord” attached? This reminds me of Kentucky Fried Chicken renaming themselves to “KFC”. But I still know it’s bad for your health.

        • LK says:

          No, M_F as usual your comments are B.S.

          Here is what a REAL Austrian economist says about market clearing, as opposed to some halfwit like you:

          “An equilibrium price is one in which quantity supplied equals quantity demanded. Graphically, it occurs at the intersection of the supply and demand curves. The market tends toward equilibrium: If the current price is above the equilibrium price, there is an excess supply (‘surplus’) and sellers reduce their asking price. If the current price is below the equilibrium price, there is an excess demand (‘shortage’) and buyers increase their offer price. (Murphy, Robert P. 2010. Lessons for the Young Economist. Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala. pp. 19–20).

          “A surplus (or a ‘glut’) occurs when producers are trying to sell more units of a good or service than consumers want to purchase (at a particular price). A shortage occurs when consumers want to buy more units than producers want to sell (at a particular price). In this context, the equilibrium price (or the market-clearing price) is the one at which the amount supplied exactly equals the amount demanded. If the market is in equilibrium, there is no surplus and no shortage.” (Murphy, Robert P. 2010. Lessons for the Young Economist. Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala. pp. 156–157).
          ——————
          If these statements are meant to be mere “mental tools” that assert NOTHING about what happens in empirical reality, then a great deal of Austrian economic price theory (and the associated idea of the alleged tendency to economic coordination via flexible prices) is worthless rubbish.

          I suppose next we’ll hear from you that Robert Murphy isn’t really an Austrian — or that Austrian theory is whatever you say it is.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            None of those passages contradict anything I said.

            • LK says:

              Yes they do:

              “For the millionth time, and I don’t expect you to understand, but the argument of market prices tending to clearing is something that can never be observed, as long as humans act. It is a theory that allows one to understand past history. It is not a theory of prediction. It is not a theory of what we should observe temporally. It is a mental tool. .”

              If a product market has a surplus that gradually diminish as price is reduced until the point when there is a supply and demand equilibrium in that market, then this can be observed — in the present time.

              Also, the idea that the alleged tendency to market clearing is not a statement about what will happen in the future is risible.

              If you seriously belive that there is no reason to think that any market will ever tend to market clearing ever again in the future, your whole economics is utterly bankrupt.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                “If a product market has a surplus that gradually diminish as price is reduced until the point when there is a supply and demand equilibrium in that market, then this can be observed — in the present time.”

                No, that is not what is not observable. Again, the argument of prices tending towards equilibrium is not a temporal argument. It is not telling us that we should observe a series of prices each day or week or whatever, where each subsequent price is lower than the last, or over the whole period a lower price on the most recent day and a higher price at the beginning of the period.

                The argument concerning an excess supply of goods and the price tending towards equilibrium could very well have an observed history of falling, stable, or rising prices. We don’t have to see the price go from $100 to $90 to $80, etc.

                More importantly, there are, as Austrians emphasize, always new facts and new preferences and new circumstances that take place in the interim between two observations that immediately brings about a NEW history that makes obsolete your experiment of seeking to observe the price trend in question.

                Even if all prices always rise over time, there can still be a surplus of a good in a specific market, and there can still be forces tending to equilibriate the supply and demand of that good. This might occur with prices being lower than they otherwise would have been had the surplus not occurred.

                Again, the tendency Austrians are talking about is NOT observable as a specific temporal trend. Yes, we can observe prices. Yes we can observe supply being exchanged.

                “Also, the idea that the alleged tendency to market clearing is not a statement about what will happen in the future is risible.”

                No it isn’t. It is not a prediction of a particular price trend. Austrians argue we cannot scientifically predict future knowledge, future preferences, or future prices.

                Risible? You have NO CLUE what you are reading.

                “If you seriously belive that there is no reason to think that any market will ever tend to market clearing ever again in the future, your whole economics is utterly bankrupt.”

                There is no way to scientifically predict any prices in the future using methods based on the assumption of constancies between relations.

          • Scott D says:

            Calling someone a halfwit is pushing the lines of civility, LK. Both you and Major Freedom strike me as very intelligent, you just happen to be on opposite sides of the debate. I haven’t seen him attacking you personally, so there’s no need for petty insults. Let’s keep it civil.

        • LK says:

          “What Hayek wrote is not the standard for Austrian theory.

          Austrian theory is praxeology.”

          No, MF, praxeology is the *standard* for Misesian/Rothbardian apriorist Austrian economics.

          Austrian economics is not some totally homogenous school.

          Other Austrians like Hayek and Mario Rizzo reject apriorism and accept an empiricist method for economics.

          You’re just too dishonest or stupid to admit that.

          • Philippe says:

            “or that Austrian theory is whatever you say it is”

            No that’s not what he means. What he means is that it can never be observed whether Austrian theory is or isn’t whatever he says it is.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            OK LK if you want to point out where MF or Roddis have said comparable things about you, go ahead and do so, but as I’m skimming these comments I see you calling MF “dishonest,” “stupid,” and “some halfwit.” If I see further comments like that I am going to zap them.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            LK:

            No, Austrian economics IS praxeology.

            Being influenced by Austrian economics, and to partly integrate some of the teachings of Austrian economics (as Hayek did), does not make one solely an Austrian economist.

            To be solely Austrian, is to be a praxeologist.

            • Dan says:

              You know if you simply tried to read him more charitably then you might not misinterpret what he is saying so often. He isn’t claiming that Hayek wasn’t a real Austrian economist. He was saying that in areas where Hayek didn’t use praxeology, he wasn’t using Austrian economics. Sadly, you seem more interested in talking smack and calling names than having honest discussions, so I don’t expect anything to change. You do realize you are not obligated to argue with people you find so beneath you, right?

            • LK says:

              No true Scotsman fallacy: Hayek was not an Austrian because M_F’s says so.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                It is not a “No True Scotsman” fallacy because I never advanced a general theory only to then amend it to exclude or include some caveat after my general theory was refuted as inaccurate.

                I’ve always argued that Austrian economics is praxeology. That is what makes Austrian economics Austrian economics.

                Hayek was only Austrian to the extent he integrated praxeology into his own set of convictions.

  9. Bob Roddis says:

    And “market clearing prices” can’t explain how an 18 year old Ted Nugent didn’t know in 1968 that this song was about taking drugs. I was 17 and I knew the song was about taking drugs.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN2VNFpiGWo

  10. Tel says:

    Possibly a little off topic, but might be an interesting future interview??

    http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansards%2Ffd08384e-4628-4d04-b897-ef2eac7c98e8%2F0157%22

    I also believe we are about to begin one of the most exciting periods in the life of the Senate. In the service of this mission, at the outset I declare that I am proudly what some call a ‘libertarian’, although I prefer the term ‘classical liberal’. My undeviating political philosophy is grounded in the belief that, as expressed so clearly by John Stuart Mill:

    The only purpose for which power can be rightfully ever exercised over any member of a civilised society against his will is to prevent harm to others.

    I pledge to work tirelessly to convince my fellow Australians and their political representatives that our governments should forego their overgoverning, overtaxing and overriding ways. Governments should instead seek to constrain themselves to what John Locke advised so wisely more than 300 years ago—the protection of life, liberty and private property.

  11. Bob Roddis says:

    One reason I like to occasionally engage LK is because after he suffers a good beat-down, he runs off to his blog and doubles-down on the same topic.

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2014/07/vulgar-austrians-do-not-understand.html

    I have never said that “flexible prices and wages” were not important or that trying to maximize the sale of one’s goods and services was not the usual goal of entrepreneurs. LK’s ruse here is to suggest that finding an example of a firm that cuts production and employment and not prices for its goods during bad times refutes Austrian analysis. There are other factors that can and will be adjusted by entrepreneurs in the face of changing circumstances. For whatever reason, Austrian writers often fail to mention this.That is why I always emphasize BASIC AUSTRIAN CONCEPTS. There is nothing in BASIC AUSTRIAN CONCEPTS from which one could derive a rule that entrepreneurs WILL ALWAYS adjust prices and wages only and not production or employment levels. Those are empirical questions.

    I understand that we’ve been over this with LK so many times before. And note again how LK has not answered Joe Fetz nor has he explained from whence the wisdom of voters appears that cannot and will not materialize when the same folks engage in voluntary exchange. His disruptive tactics are boring.

    • LK says:

      lol… So give us a straight yes/no answer to this question:

      Is a tendency towards supply and demand equilibrium via flexible prices and wages, which are adjusted in trades towards market clearing levels by market agents, an important part of Austrian economic theory?

      Yes or no?

      You will not answer because you do not understand Austrian theory and you are an utter ignoramus, fool and intellectual fraud.

      • Peter says:

        And you are? Besides being excellent at name calling, of course. At least Roddis and Murphy are not afraid to use their real names.

        Come on LK, humor us, give us your real identity and credentials.

        One thing is for sure, you are not Lord Keynes, he died of a heart attack in 1946.

        PS: It seems to me (But I am far from an economist, Austrian or otherwise), that every time a -voluntary- transaction takes place, demand and supply are in “equilibrium” (Else, at least one of the participants in the transaction would not be happy…). Also, I have never understood how “aggregate demand” is defined or objectively measured. Perhaps you can enlighten me?

      • Major.Freedom says:

        Define “important” LK.

  12. Dan says:

    How does the topic of market clearing prices have anything to do with private defense? Or were you guys just trying to make it is as difficult as possible to find the conversations that are actually relevant to private defense? It’d be one thing if this was even a new conversation, but when you have the same exact debate on the same site over and over and over and over again it starts to make you guys look a little unbalanced. Especially, when you know Murphy has tried to repeatedly put a stop to this kind of behavior. You guys should start a Facebook group or something and repeatedly bang your heads against a wall over there.

    • LK says:

      The person who brought up this issue was none other than bob roddis with his claim:

      “LK has no conception or understanding of the pricing process”

      http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2014/07/tom-woods-interviews-me-about-private-defense.html#comment-703985

      • Dan says:

        So what? “You guys” includes him.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I think Dan they are trying to show that if free blogs can’t stop this type of thing, a free society can’t possibly squelch physical aggression.

      • Dan says:

        Haha

      • Philippe says:

        “they are trying to show that if free blogs can’t stop this type of thing, a free society can’t possibly squelch physical aggression”

        in Chaos Theory you say that nuclear weapons aren’t really a problem because ultimately foreign governments will take care of the problem, ensuring that the anarcho-capitalist society doesn’t have to worry about it.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Long ago yesterday, I was trying to get an answer as to why a voting majority based “justice” system would outshine a market-based justice system consisting of the same group of people.

      I failed in my endeavor.

      • Philippe says:

        assuming “a market based justice system” is possible or actually constitutes a genuine system of justice, the only difference between such a system and a “voting majority based justice system” would be that in the latter case everyone has only one vote, whereas in the former some people have more votes than others.

        • K.P. says:

          Surely you can see more differences than just that one.

          • Philippe says:

            I assumed away the other main ones that immediately sprung to mind. Any other suggestions?

            • K.P. says:

              Possibly, I don’t know if they’ve been assumed away or not though.

              • Philippe says:

                the only ones that have are the ones I put in my comment above. Tell me about the others I missed.

              • K.P. says:

                You want to re-try here Philippe,

                I can’t rectify:

                1.) :I assumed away the other main [differences] that immediately sprung to mind.”

                and

                2.) “the only ones that have are the ones I put in my comment above. Tell me about the others I missed.”

                It looks like you’re saying you you’ve posted above the differences you’ve assumed away. I really hope you aren’t saying that.

              • Philippe says:

                I assumed that the differences were:

                1) a “market based justice system” is not possible.

                2) a “market based justice system” does not constitute a genuine system of justice.

                Then I assumed away those differences to look at the other differences, in their absence.

                Possibly a bit convoluted, but there you go.

              • Philippe says:

                to come back to my question:

                if you believe that “a market based system of justice” is possible, and does constitute a genuine system of justice, can you tell me what differences it has to “a voting majority based justice system”, other than that in the latter case each person has only one vote, whereas in the former some people have more votes than others?

              • K.P. says:

                If that’s all – who can cast how many votes – then you’ve missed many, many differences between a voting system and a market system.

                Just for starters: repercussions (or lack thereof), feedback mechanism and time, and available alternatives.

                Public choice can be fun reading material.

                http://people.virginia.edu/~slf9s/sbc/econ452/readings/Buchanan%201954b.pdf

              • K.P. says:

                Unspecified, “genuine system of justice” reads like babble to me. So… sure, since we’ve already assumed it can work, it’s automatically a “genuine” system of “justice” in my book.

                Now, see my last post for an answer of your question with examples, but the short answer is: one works like a market whereas the other works like politics! (I know people like to make analogies between them, consumers as voters and all that – but just about everyone knows it’s quite misleading)

              • Philippe says:

                KP,

                does the paper you linked to specifically discuss “market based justice systems”?

              • Philippe says:

                “repercussions (or lack thereof), feedback mechanism and time, and available alternatives.”

                these refer to things which exist within systems of justice, not “market based justice systems”.

              • K.P. says:

                “these refer to things which exist within systems of justice, not “market based justice systems”.

                Um, no. They definitely exist in any hypothetical market based system justice system. (Following your assumption, of course)

                However, perhaps you meant to say “these refer to things which exist within systems of justice, not *only*“market based justice systems”.

                To which, I said there were *differences*, very big differences. The article provided illustrates some. And no, it doesn’t specifically reference market systems of justice, however, given the assumption you’ve made, it makes no difference given, so it’s all perfectly consistent.

              • Philippe says:

                “They definitely exist in any hypothetical market based system justice system”

                No. You can’t say that anything definitely exists in a purely hypothetical system.

                The things you described exist within real systems of justice which actually exist. They are, in fact, products of those systems of justice.

              • Philippe says:

                “[the paper i linked to] doesn’t specifically reference market systems of justice”

                So it is not relevant, as it discusses things which exist within systems of justice which are not so-called “market systems of justice”.

              • K.P. says:

                “No. You can’t say that anything definitely exists in a purely hypothetical system.”

                Sure I can, I just did, in fact. That’s the entire point of a making the assumption(s) to skip over all that nasty proof for the sake of argument. Assume a ladder and all that good stuff…

                “The things you described exist within real systems of justice which actually exist. They are, in fact, products of those systems of justice.”

                And? So? So does “voting”, yet you’re willing to accept that existing (albeit in a different form) in the hypothetical market, yet not… repercussions? Really?

                “So it is not relevant, as it discusses things which exist within systems of justice which are not so-called ‘market systems of justice’.”

                Nah, as the very things it discusses constitutes a market system of justice. Further, even if it wasn’t that, and even if it wasn’t hypothetical itself there’s no reason why one can’t study, say, the organ market in Iran and then consider how it *would* work in the U.S. (Different justice systems)

                If you don’t want to read the link just say so, there are much better reasons than the silly ones you’ve given (too many pages, font is too small, no pictures, etc…) I doubt anyone cares that much. I do appreciate the effort though.

              • Philippe says:

                KP,

                what’s silly is your whole argument: these things exist within current systems of justice, therefore we don’t need current systems of justice.

              • Bob Roddis says:

                While we’re being so polite at our dinner party with our guest opponents, they are talking about us behind our backs:

                http://tinyurl.com/lztjz3u

              • Richie says:

                Funny how Austrians are called “mentally ill”, “half-wits”, “idiotic”, “mentally retarded”, but the Austrians are the vulgar ones.

              • Major.Freedom says:

                Philippe:

                You wrote that you don’t think a market based system of law is “possible”, and then you questioned whether it would be “genuine”, which I guess means you are saying that even if it were possible, it would not be genuine.

                Questions:

                By saying you don’t think it’s “possible”, are you saying that you don’t think enough people are capable of or willing to choose refraining from initiating force against all others who want to hire and pay a different, competing protector, unable or unwilling to respect the choices of others regarding who they will pay for protection, and unable or willing to help themselves in demanding “Pay me for protection, or else”?

                That even if the monopoly collapsed, and a market based system of protection were in effect, that there won’t be enough people, or enough resources, to stop a particular protector from imposing itself as the only “allowed” protector, i.e. a state?

                Second, you said that a market based system would not be “genuine”. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that term? Do you mean not every individual will be powerful enough, or wealthy enough, to protect themselves and they would be habitually threatened with violence if they didn’t pay thieves? That such a society would not be one with genuine justice because there are people who are being exploited and they would lack the ability to defend themselves?

                Also, regarding the “one person one vote”, do you believe that as long as 49% can vocalize who they want to pay for protection, but will be forced to pay at the threat of violence the protector wanted by the 51%, that this is “genuine” justice? I just want to get a handle on what you mean by “genuine”.

              • K.P. says:

                “what’s silly is your whole argument: these things exist within current systems of justice, therefore we don’t need current systems of justice.”

                That’s not my argument, pal.

                Here’s mine: These things exist within *any* system of justice now how would they differ under a particular theoretical one?

                Wait, that’s not even an argument! What the heck have you been reading Philippe?

  13. Bob Roddis says:

    Vulgar internet Austrianism is a plague.

    One of the worst aspects of it is that many vulgar Austrians do not even understand Austrian price theory.

    That being so, it is time to update an old post showing what actual Austrian economists say about their price theory – as opposed to vulgar Austrians.

    According to certain vulgar and ignorant internet Austrians, Austrian price theory DOES NOT have a fundamental role for the idea of flexible prices and wages that, in market trades by buyers and sellers, are moved towards their market-clearing levels to clear product markets by equating quantities demanded with quantities supplied, so that economic coordination and full use of resources are achieved. This is nonsense, of course: that idea is a very important aspect of Austrian economic theory.

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2014/07/vulgar-austrians-do-not-understand.html

  14. Bob Roddis says:

    The wonders of a voter-created “Justice” system in Inkster, Michigan.

    “I thought, ‘I can’t do this any more under these conditions.’ It wears on you and it’s been wearing on me for a while,” Napoleon said.

    Those conditions, according to Napoleon, involve the gutting of the department from 73 officers when he started 3½ years ago to 24 today. Napoleon noted that half of the remaining officers work for $15 an hour and lack benefits.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20140711/NEWS02/307110113/Inkster-police-chief-Hilton-Napoleon

  15. Bob Roddis says:

    Naturally, a free market justice system could and would never protect the poor and powerless with the awesome effectiveness of the government system.

    Two-year-old Kamiya French was shot and killed at point-blank range by a man seeking retaliation against her father, reports the NY Daily News. Kamiya was sitting on a porch in Inkster, Michigan last Tuesday night with her father Kenneth French, 34, and family friend Chelsea Lancaster, 12, when Raymone Bernard Jackson, 24, approached and fatally shot her in the head before turning his gun on her father and Chelsea.
    Both of them are expected to survive. According to authorities, Bernard wanted Kamiya’s execution to be the “last thing [her father] saw.”

    http://newsone.com/3034386/kamiya-french-inkster-toddler-murder/

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