18 Aug 2015

Murphy Twin Spin

Shameless Self-Promotion 31 Comments

==> I debate Walter Block on the Tom Woods show.

==> I talk socialist problems at the Freeman.

31 Responses to “Murphy Twin Spin”

  1. E. Harding says:

    “Without market prices, there is no nonarbitrary way of comparing the resources used up in a particular process with the goods or services produced.”
    -I dispute this characterization. Of course planners can nonarbitrarily compare the resources used up in a particular process with the goods or services produced (e.g, during wartime), they just can’t coherently determine consumers’ needs and how to meet them due to the absence of any profit or loss mechanism. Thus, communism was always very inefficient.

    • E. Harding says:

      *at consumer goods and services production.

    • skylien says:

      When you say:
      “they just can’t coherently determine consumers’ needs and how to meet them due to the absence of any profit or loss mechanism.”

      then this is exactly what this means:
      “Without market prices, there is no nonarbitrary way of comparing the resources used up in a particular process with the goods or services produced.”

    • skylien says:

      There is one caveat though, LK is absolutely nonarbitrary, he could do that easily.

  2. E. Harding says:

    Pretty good article in sum, though.

  3. aby says:

    Not all taxation is theft.
    There are a lot of people who start laughing when they hear someone compare taxation and theft. That must mean they pay taxes voluntarily. They don’t see their rights violated

    If enough libertarians told you that x% of the money that is taxed from them is a voluntary payment from now on would you be willing to accept a job at a government university, knowing now that nobodies rights has been violated in order to pay your salary?

    It is kinda an extension of your net taxpayer argument, just applied to a group of people who communicate.

    • skylien says:

      So this must mean I am just hallucinating when I basically see everyone trying to avoid taxes (legally and illegally) as far as they can/dare.. Talk (and laugh) is cheap. Look what people do not what they say.

      Also whenever I discuss with someone about taxes and they assert that they pay it voluntarily, then I am testing them with:
      Really if this is so, and you are so cock sure that most people see this exactly like you anyway, why do you force those few (crazy) people like me who are not agreeing to this to participate? Exclude me from this game, exclude me from the benefits of course as well and go on doing it voluntarily. That’s all I want!

      That is always the moment talk of voluntarily paying taxes is over. Most people try to steer the discussion to a different point, or say outright no we need force… aha!

      With one thing you are right though, they don’t think their rights are violated because of being forced to pay taxes. Just as slaves can accept being slaves, so can taxpayers think that is just how the way it is…

    • Major.Freedom says:

      Oh then not all rape is aggressive and not all cold blooded murder is aggressive…

      …as long as we stipulate the definitions that there is such a thing as being consensually and voluntarily raped, and consensually and voluntarily murdered.

      Or, you know, you could try to appreciate the definition of taxation being stipulated by libertarians when they make that argument, which is that taxation is the nonconsensual and nonvoluntary movements of money from a person to the state.

      What you are doing is arguing semantics, not substance.

      You ought to understand the definitions being used by people when they make arguments, then accept at face value those definitions, not because you agree with the conclusion they are making with terms that you use differently, but because you are an honest debater.

      If you want to stipulate a different definition of taxation, go right ahead, but you would not be addressing the argument being made.

      Suppose someone goes around raping people, defined as sex withoit consent, but there are some others who actually wanted to have sex in his systematic aggression. Regardless of how many people wanted it versus not want it, it would not be a response to the argument that this guy is raping people simply because you can identify a group of people who wanted it after all.

      You would not be showing that “not all rape is aggressive”. You would only show that some people don’t mind having sex with the rapist, for whatever reason, including “But then who will have the sex?” And “I am afraid what would happen to me if I refused” or “I am doing my civic duty, and you should too” or “But if the rapist doesn’t have sex with everyone, there will be intolerable sexual anarchy.”

    • Khodge says:

      I’ve known people who voluntarily paid their social security tax.

      An argument could be made that if they voluntarily used the goods and services then, in fact, they approve of the money taken to pay for those goods and services.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        That argument can be made yes, but what also can be argued is that even if a person rejected such “services”, they would still be forced to pay for them.

        So in order to know for sure, the only way would not be for a person to give and then demand, or demand and then give, but to ask first.

        The state does not ask.

      • Tel says:

        I’ve known people who voluntarily paid their social security tax.

        I’d be interested to hear their views in another decade when it’s gone bankrupt to see if they still feel enthused about their contributions.

    • Lee Waaks says:

      I don’t see any problem with comparing taxation to extortion: “Pay up or else!”

  4. Andrew_FL says:

    Are the children of a slave master as guilty as he is for deriving sustenance from his unquestionably ill gotten gains?

    It depends, I’d say.

    But is the slave somehow *also* guilty of stealing the fruits of other men’s labor because he is fed and clothed on stolen income? Is he at once victim and perpetrator of the same crime?

    • Major.Freedom says:

      Define “deriving”.

      • Andrew_FL says:

        As in, they eat the food their father puts on their plates, without which they would starve?

        To be clear, I think the latter analogy is more relevant to people who pay taxes.

  5. Giovanni says:

    One question you could have asked to Walter Block: if working for the State is so great BECAUSE you take money out of the State (he says things about doing things to undermine the State, but he clearly thinks that taking money from the State, as a salary, is good for itself, so doing things to undermine the State while working for it is not necessary), and even conceding that it is different for a conscious libertarian to work for the State and a non-libertarian to work for the State, the standard libertarian recommendation for this thing should be: you’re a libertarian, go work for the State and take money out of it!

    Would Walter Block think that it is some of an ideal situation one in which all libertarians work for the State? Imagine a country with 90% libertarian population, and a State formed by the other 10%. The ideal situation in this case would it be for every libertarian in the country to seek jobs within the State?

    • Giovanni says:

      Just to clarify: wouldn’t that make the State larger? I imagine that in this case the State would welcome everybody (maybe not everybody, but certainly at least 50% of the people) and open a lot of job positions, thus enlarging the State while at the same time making a lot of these so-called libertarians dependent on the State. The libertarians who couldn’t get a State job would have to produce something and pay for the salary of the State-employed libertarians and this new situation would make the State — before that small and fragile — much stronger and much worse in all aspects.

      Bob, do you know what Walter would answer to that?

      • Major.Freedom says:

        Yeah that argument by Block doesn’t hold up. For the “revenge” there is not localized to those who aggressed. Joining the state and “taking back” is you taking from a new generation of innocent victims.

        There is no way to join the state without taking from those other than those who did you wrong prior.

        • skylien says:

          Right, in a sense this is just like the “someone stole my jacket at the party, so I would freeze when I go home, so I (am entitled to) steal the jacket of somebody else” reasoning. It never ends this way.

          At least here exists the genuine possibility, that the first one was just drunk and took the wrong jacket so that the last one still has one, and if he/she is lucky it will fit. And if all are extremely lucky then all have a new jacket that fits and they even like more than the old one.

          However I guess this is just what you would tell yourself to calm your conscience after deciding to also steal a jacket.

  6. Levi Russell says:

    The three bottom income quintiles are net tax receivers.

    I just thought that might be a relevant comment given your debate with Block.

  7. Matt S says:

    I think there is an issue with your analogy of the getaway driver / robbery analogy…

    The getaway driver is involved with the robbery isn’t he? I mean, a getaway driver for a real-life robbery would be charged with being an accomplice to robbery would he not?

    The robbery itself is like the actual taking of the money in taxes in your analogy and the robbery includes the getaway.

    But a teacher at a government funded school is more like someone who does work for the thieves after they have already stolen the money. For example, someone who delivered them food at their house in exchange for some amount of stolen money after they have already got back from the robbery (and he also knew where the money was coming from).

    Or am I way off base here?

    • Levi Russell says:

      I think it’s a good point, Matt. Bob’s analogy isn’t specific enough. The driver might be an IRS employee or (and this is a stretch) a Fed employee. That’s why Rothbard’s distinction between working for organizations that would or would not exist without the state is important.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        You guys are raising good points. I wish Walter had answered the way you did, and then I would have been happy to make it more analogous. But he totally missed the issue.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        To be clear, I was not going on Tom’s show with the mission of proving that it is necessarily wrong for libertarians to work for the State. My more modest goal was to say Walter’s framework–laid out in a previous episode–could not possibly be right. For example, it would exonerate the getaway driver in a liquor store robbery, so long as the guy mentally endorsed Rothbard.

        • Levi Russell says:

          Yeah, it was sad that he missed it.

          Glad you participated in the conversation, and I’m glad you’ll be working at one of those evil public universities. lol

  8. Andrew says:

    Regarding the debate with Block…I haven’t heard anyone address the argument below in the past. Thoughts?

    Putting everything else aside for a moment, wouldn’t we agree that in order to demonstrate legitimacy we would have to measure the theft?

    For example, let’s say you’re 40 years old and decide to become an employee of the State in a desire to implement your Robbin Hood morality. Well, isn’t the whole Libertarian / Rothbardian legal theory based on proportionality? In other words, wouldn’t the amount of money you “take back” be strictly limited to the amount of money that was taken from you prior?

    • Giovanni says:

      I think this is big simplification of the issue (not what you said, but what Walter Block advocates, he is being pretty stupid). The State does not only transfer money. The problem it generates is not one of taking money from people, but distorting all the incentives, economy and morality.

      Simply taking money back doesn’t do any good. Imagine if everybody just attempted to take their money back. In the next day everybody would die on top of a pile of money, because no one would have produced food or any other good.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      Could that 40 year old take only from those who took from him by joining the state?

      If that 40 year old joined the state to get revenge, he would invariably take from the current generation, which includes those who did not take from him.

      Block’s argument In believe is deep down an apology for Ron Paul.

  9. Gil says:

    If Walter Blocks and friends see taxes as theft then for a Libertarians to seek a job with the government is akin to buying stolen goods from burglars arguing you’re putting the goods back into the honest market. Instead it comes across as you’re benefiting from stolen goods in a way that the thieves have incentive to keep doing what they’re doing. Besides if government can’t calculate then by definition a Libertarian public worker hasn’t learned or is doing anything productive.

  10. Tel says:

    For what it’s worth, I thought Walter Block’s arguments were pretty sneaky too, especially the idea that if you see a whole transaction as legitimate then you must also see any component part of that transaction as legitimate… complete tosh.

    So if we make an agreement that I’m going to babysit your young daughter and you will pick her up tomorrow, so then I take the young girl into my house but tomorrow I tell you, “sorry she’s not here, can’t tell you what I’ve done with her”… that’s absolutely NOT like saying “well you know I did half of what you asked”. In some situations the commitment of the ENTIRE transaction is absolutely the most significant thing.

    • Tel says:

      Here’s another one: Walter Block is getting ready to descent down a cliff and I say, “I’ll take the end of this rope over there, and I’ll tie it around that tree.”

      So I take the rope over to the tree, wrap it around the tree so it looks legit, but I don’t actually tie the knot.

      But there you go, must be OK because I did most of the things he wanted. Right? Right?

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