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  1. You don't know what a free market is.
  2. The notion that automation is a negative for humanity is absurd Soup. I am not going to put much effort into entertaining this idea, it is seriously a waste of both of our time. Since you're so concerned though, you should put your hypothesis to the test! What about you opt to eschew all forms of automation for 6 months and then come back to tell us if your standard of living has improved? If that is too much of an ask, why not rewind to your golden era of living standards and use only technology available 40 years ago? Be sure to let us know how it works out. To make the experiment easier you could continue to trade with those who are experiencing the benefits of automation, but for the sake of truthfulness it must be recognised that you would be receiving those benefits by proxy. Oh and Rothbard died in '95. He certainly saw the effect of electricity and automation. Likewise, Mises died in '73 and would have observed it's onset. P
  3. This is really silly. Here are some quotes. "Unemployment, technological. Unemployment erroneously attributed to the introduction of improved methods of production, such as the use of more efficient capital equipment (tools, machinery, "automation," etc.). As long as unused, or not fully utilized, natural resources exist, there are always opportunities for additional employment in an unhampered market economy. HA. 136-37,774." http://mises.org/easier/U.asp "Ricardo effect, the. A proposition of David Ricardo (1772-1823) that an increase in wage rates will lead to a replacement of labor by machines and vice versa, an increase in machinery costs will lead to the use of more labor. This proposition is often cited by interventionists who claim that raising wage rates will increase the use of machinery and thus total production. The argument confuses cause and effect; it is the increased use of capital goods that raises wage rates. Unless increased savings become available, any increase in the use of capital goods by one industry merely reduces the quantity of capital goods available for other industries. When interventionism takes the form of higher than market wages in one firm or industry, it merely produces a shift in the use of the available supplies of capital goods. It thus reduces the marginal productivity of both labor and capital and results in a drop in total production and consumer satisfaction, as existing capital is shifted to where it is less productive than in a free or unhampered market. HA. 773-76." http://mises.org/easier/R.asp "The ever-recurring doctrine of “technological unemployment”—man displaced by the machine—is hardly worthy of extended analysis. Its absurdity is evident when we look at the advanced economy and compare it with the primitive one. In the former there is an abundance of machines and processes completely un***known to the latter; yet in the former, standards of living are far higher for far greater numbers of people. How many workers have been “displaced” because of the invention of the shovel? The technological unemployment motif is encouraged by the use of the term “labor-saving devices” for capital goods, which to some minds conjure up visions of laborers being simply discarded. La***bor needs to be “saved” because it is the pre-eminently scarce good and because man’s wants for exchangeable goods are far from satisfied. Furthermore, these wants would not be satisfied at all if the capital-goods structure were not maintained. The more labor is “saved,” the better, for then labor is using more and better capital goods to satisfy more of its wants in a shorter amount of time. Of course, there will be “unemployment” if, as we have stated, workers insist on their own terms for work, and these terms can***not be met. This applies to technological changes as well as any other. The clerk who, for some reason, insists nowadays on work***ing only for a blacksmith or in an old-fashioned general store may well have chosen a large dose of idleness. Any workers who insisted on working in the buggy industry or nothing found them***selves, no doubt, unemployed after the development of the auto***mobile. A technological improvement in an industry will tend to in***crease employment in that industry if the demand for the prod***uct is elastic downward, so that the greater supply of goods in***duces greater consumer spending. On the other hand, an inno***vation in an industry with inelastic demand downward will cause consumers to spend less on the more abundant products, contracting employment in that industry. In short, the process of technological innovation shifts workers from the inelastic-demand to the elastic-demand industries. One of the major sources of new employment demand is in the industry making the new ma***chines.[27]" http://mises.org/rothbard/mes/chap9b.asp#_ftn9
  4. I said automation does not simply destroy jobs for a reason. That being, framing the process of technological innovation and labour redundancy as a process of destruction is hugely myopic considering the outcomes that stem from that automation. For example, that we now have chainsaws instead of chopping trees by axe did not render a large section of the labour force permanently unemployed. Efficiency increased and labour was redirected to other pursuits. In relation to the internet, vast fields of jobs now exist where they did not. Cottage style ebay traders have access to huge markets, media and web designers, code monkeys etc all would not exist in the numbers they do without the internet. To focus on a couple of large companies due to their saturation is poor analysis. To talk exclusively about the US economic experience is also a mistake unless you also want to consider US law, regulation and your national position within a global market. The US, like other western countries, has essentially outsourced its labour by pricing themselves out of the market. The US economic experience is not transposable with global market trends.
  5. Oh come on man, this is really corny. You're a smart guy with some legitimate concerns, but your hypothetical is just straight up silly. Also, automation does not simply destroy jobs it opens up space for new economic activity. Human creativity is essentially endless.
  6. Obviously TEDtalks would not have the same audience percentage as a prime publication of a previous era, simply because there were less publications available. I was more so using the site as an example of a broader point. I actually have zero knowledge of the hit rate it gets, I just know of its general popularity. I take your point about the high rate of readership though. I am also aware of the definition of rationality. I have not confused rationality with irrationality, I have also not argued that people are not capable of rationality. What I have said, and I maintain, is rationality is subjectively bound. However, perhaps I have not been as clear as I could. What I am referring to is rationality in action. My reason for this is that we have been talking about the ability to identify the rational, or irrational, actions of others in relation to their consumer choices. Rationality in action is essentially a process of means-ends calculation, and in application to real people in real situations means-ends calculations are a product of subjective and contextual knowledge. This contextual knowledge is difficult if not impossible to communicate in its entirety. Thus, my ability to judge the rational actions of another depends on the extent to which I can identify the end they wish to achieve and I can assess the means through they wish to achieve it. In light of this, I will make one more attempt to explain my position taking a different tact. If that fails to win you over, then I will leave the issue alone. If we inject the notion of rationality into an abstract scenario we can test its operation. To borrow from my prior example; if a man wishes to buy a car and has stated that his sole objective is to get a car capable of achieving the highest speed for a fixed budget, then if that man elects to purchase a car which can achieve a speed lower than another on offer we can say he has acted irrationally. His rational choice would be to choose the car in accordance with his objective. This kind of objective judgement is fully possible within the context of an abstract thought experiment as the variables are assumed to be limited. We discuss this man and his objective as if there are no other complicating factors. When applied to real world scenarios it becomes significantly less clear, as there is now an unknown and potentially vast quantity of variables to consider. Using the same example, yet imagining this as a real scenario rather than a simplified abstract experiment, if the man has stated he wants to buy the fastest possible car, yet does not, what can we can we truthfully say about the rationality of his decision? I would argue that we cannot say much at all. The man may have intentionally deceived us to impress; the man may have simply failed to communicate other interests such as colour or fuel economy that also factored into his decision; the man may have been privy to new information which changed his decision. Etc. In this way, I suggest that identification of rationality in the actions of others is complex, and potentially eludes objective measurement. This is as our experience is subjective and contextually bound, as is our knowledge of others.
  7. I don't have time to write a full response to each of the issues I would like to address here. Ill just make a few brief points. Re; Tedtalks. My point was that it is designed to reach a far broader audience. If it takes a 15 minute, entertaining, format to engage those who would not have otherwise picked up a book on the subject then it has succeeded; abstract thought now has a broader base. This is symbolic of the broader issue. I do not think that the phenomenon you are describing is a process of the world being dumbed down, instead it is that a vastly wider audience is now engaged - which has perhaps dragged the average quality of media down. Re; Rationality. We have had similar problems in our discussions in the past. I maintain here that past a certain depth of discussion the dictionary definition of a word may be rendered useless, or at best a loose reference point. There has been extensive philosophical discussion over the meaning of rationality, and the extent to which rationality is possible. For clarity I stated my position within this debate. You claim that rationality is objectively measurable, yet, I feel, have not been able to articulate satisfactory 'how' and 'why'. In contrast, I am uncertain about the possibility for objective measurement of rationality. In so far as I think this measurement may be possible, I would suggest it would be far more complex than you might imagine. This is as I hold rationality to be subjectively bound and that subjective experience is not fully communicable. I would not deny your perspective, but I ask the courtesy not to deny mine either. Following this point, we continue to talk across each other when it comes to the operation of rationality within capitalism. You appeal to capitalism 'working' or 'failing' as if it has an end goal independent of serving a network of subjective interests. I disagree with this. As I have stated, capitalism operated long before it was articulated. It emerged in market places and across trade routes as an order born of free exchange and the mutual acceptance of private property. It was not designed with a goal in mind, but stumbled upon through a long chain of iterative events. That it was later analysed, articulated, and adopted as a policy for economic governance only added to its proliferation. Yet, also confused this original purpose; property, free exchange and the capitalist order which arises from theses elements is a social mechanism which serves peaceful inter-subjective desires. Individual ends are achieved through the means of exchanging goods and services.
  8. Soup, I appreciate the substantive post. Thanks for putting in the effort, and refraining from using unnecessary insulting language. To the other readers of this thread; take note, this is how Crossfire discussion should be conducted. My response will be divided into three parts. First I will outline why the trend towards a decline of abstract thought presented in your argument may not be as clear cut as you imagine. Second I will suggest that a class based analysis is useful in drawing attention to a lower strata of social change that has occurred within the broader, macro, narrative you have presented. Moreover, that it can be used to compliment my first point. Third I will outline why this narrative is not a challenge to either capitalism or libertarianism as it is premised on a weak conception of rationality, and over-states the degree to which abstract thought must be engaged in towards the operation of a capitalist system. To an extent I agree with you regarding the limitations on knowledge transmission in television media. Documentary series seem to represent the peak density of complexity and knowledge presented within a mainstream format. Yet, they do not come close to matching the depth to which text based learning can achieve. Yet, the difference is largely the audience to which a documentary series and a scholarly book appeal. Mainstream modern media represents an attempt to engage a mass market not historically achievable. In this sense, the lowered general tone of media to which you comment, I would suggest, is a factor of mass consumption on a level previously unknown. The audience has increased by an enormous factor, this drives the aggregate tone down, yet within this the amount and quality of scholarly literature continues to increase. Furthermore, certainly other forms of non-text based media are also exploding in accessibility. Academic Earth, Ted Talks etc, are forms of non-text based modern media that attempt to engage their viewers/listeners to a degree of depth largely unseen on television. This is due to the significant reduction in the cost of media production in recent times, which allows greater targeting of commercial media production. Due to a growing shift towards complexity in methods of service provision, media providers can now diversify from traditional user-pays, or free-content advertisement-funded models due to increased capacity to reach global specialised markets. Despite my distaste for these people, I would also alert you to the abundance of youtube channel (pseudo) philosophers who wax lyrical about anything and everything they can think of. While it does not address the problem of cognition you have noted in relation to the delivery of knowledge via A/V, this level of communication is absolutely modern media based, it represents forms of abstract discussion that would not occur if it weren't for modern technology - television included - and the media it has enabled. In this way it would be premature to lament the decline (death even?) of abstract thought, as abstract thought has shifted, diversified, and become accessible to many who have been traditionally excluded from it. This point leads me to return to what I see as the central flaw in this narrative; your assessment is overly focussed on macro trends which leads you to ignores the meso and micro elements which contribute to and confuse this issue. This is exemplified by employing the concept of social class within this narrative. Generally I tend to avoid class based analysis as I feel it can easily lead to speaking in absurd generalities, however I think in this case your argument is begging for it. Employing class, here, can divide between those who have eschewed text based media and those who haven't. Those in modern western societies who are tertiary educated do not fit so well within your narrative as they have maintained a strong link to text, and by both absolute and relative accounts greater numbers of people in the western world are now tertiary educated. This represents a broadening of the base of engagement with abstract ideals from a historical elite to an increasing social norm. As a provisional step to this last point, employing class here can also mark a sharp divide between those who have traditionally had a greater level of literacy and thus access to text. Literacy has always been strongest amongst the upper classes as they have both seen value in education and had the means to achieve it. Moreover, class draws attention to those societal segments who have historically engaged in abstract thought and discussion and continue to into the present. Marxian thinkers have long recognised the difficulty in engaging the proletariat in abstract thought. A central element to their movement is to engage the working class in abstract thought in so far as it is necessary for them to recognise their lot within a broader hierarchy of power, and, subsequently, act in order to design a more favourable outcome. In this sense, your lament is is the same as theirs and is likely to be one which is ahistorical rather than bound to the modern age; it is a desire to engage a broader base of people in the discussion of loftier ideals. Yet, when looking at this issue dispassionately, I think it is apparent that this is quietly being achieved. As I understand your argument is that libertarianism as a relevant concept is challenged by a decline in rational thought which you infer to be, at least to some degree, mutually exclusive of the desire to be entertained. Moreover, you suggest that capitalism is an idea which can only be achieved where rational thought - by your unknown definition – is prevalent. I do not agree with either of these assertions. I asked you to define rationality in my previous post as I feel it is a difficult issue and holds the potential to cause confusion between us on this issue. I would hold that the general definition of the word is something akin to acting sensibly in accordance with reason. However, I find this definition unsatisfying as it prompts the question; acting sensibly according to whom? Who decides what is in ones rational interest? I would suggest that this can only meaningfully be a subjective decision. If it is not, irrationality becomes a weapon to which anyone with little knowledge of another's context may employ against others in the service of their own ends. I feel that the way in which you have appealed to rationality in your post contains this problem. As an example, if I wish to buy a car, yet I also wish to be entertained, surely it is conceivable that I can make some form of trade-off between the quality of the car and my level of entertainment without being considered irrational. Even if I have only communicated my interest to you in buying a car, without stating my interest in entertainment, how is it just to judge my choice as irrational without knowing the depth of my decision making process? To avoid this trap, I would instead define rationality as acting in accordance with ones subjective interests. For myself and others who appeal to the methodological individualist tradition, this is a stronger approach to understanding rationality. Capitalism, as defined as a form of social order premised on free exchange, contractual arrangements and property rights, does not require each of its participants to engage in in substantive thought about its broader operation for it to operate succesfully. Only that the majority of its participants sees greater benefit to participating peacefully within it in accordance with their own interests. This has largely been the history of analysis of capitalism; it has been in operation long prior to scholars being able to articulate its workings. Hayek writes more generally on this issue, arguing that society can benefit from certain arrangements by way of evolutionary social fitness without necessarily fully understanding what it is doing that is so beneficial. In relation to your assertion that self-interest is an abstract concept difficult to grasp, I would suggest that this is a radical over-statement of its complexity. Acting in ones self interest is entirely intuitive, in fact, this is what makes a capitalist order so robust. It does not require a broader understanding of the general good, simply a desire to appeal to ones own good, in order to operate. “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” I'm sure you need no attribution for that quote. Peace
  9. Since I came across this article I have found Chartiers definitional distinctions in the use of the word Capitalism quite useful in application to assessing discussion of political economy, so I thought I would share. "There are at least three distinguishable senses of “capitalism”: captalism1 an economic system that features personal property rights and voluntary exchanges of goods and services. capitalism2 an economic system that features a symbiotic relationship between big business and government. capitalism3 rule – of workplaces, society, and (if there is one) the state – by capitalists (that is, by a relatively small number of people who control investable wealth and the means of production)" Chartier, G., 'Advocates of Freed Markets Should Oppose Capitalism', 2010. These distinctions quite astutely shed light on why libertarians and modern liberals talk across each other when talking about capitalism. Generally speaking, capitalism 1 describes the economic order libertarians appeal to with reckless abandon. Yet, when non libertarians encounter this capitalist discourse, it is capitalism 2 and 3 that they interpret as being discussed. Chartier goes on to argue, and I would thoroughly agree, that in fact capitalism 1 is the antithesis of capitalism 2 and 3.
  10. Yo I appreciate the relatively positive tone. Good on you for not being condescending etc. I will absolutely maintain a similar disposition if you do too. I wouldn't say that Hayek has a pessimistic view of economics at all. Instead I would say that he has a very solid epistemological perspective which can be used to infer the limitations of the discipline. Peter Schiff does crow on a bit about calling the GFC/housing bubble. Ill grant you that. I consider him more of an entertaining speaker than a serious thinker. I'm not sure I can agree with your latter assessment. Before I can comment seriously, I would first like to know why you are talking about capitalism as a belief rather than an economic or political order? Second, I am interested to hear why you seem to infer that the desire to be entertained is irrational. Third, it might be prudent for you to define rationality as it is a slippery subject. Forth, to return to my previous request for clarification, I am still very unclear how your concern for this problem of an entertainment driven society works as a refutation to libertarianism.
  11. That is very similar to a quote from Orwell. Ron Paul's a biter haha
  12. This is a bizarre statement. In no way did Keynes invent capitalism. He critiqued existing economic thought on capitalism and informed a program for targeted governmental interventionist mechanisms. It is also unapparent how you claim to refute libertarians based on the contents of this post. I am interested to hear how you claim to achieve this end.
  13. “To be Governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be Governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality." Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, 1851.
  14. http://radgeek.com/gt/2011/10/Markets-Not-Capitalism-2011-Chartier-and-Johnson.pdf I was trying to find a link to chapter 4, 'markets freed from capitalism', specifically but since I could not, the book will have to do. This is a fantastic peice of writing! It builds an analytical took kit for evaluating capitalist and free market discourse. I highly recommend this article!
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