When Opinion Leaders Don't Lead

In a New York Times op-ed, Charles Fishman writes:

We’re in the worst drought in the United States since the 1950s, and we’re wasting it.

Though the drought has devastated corn crops and disrupted commerce on the Mississippi River, it also represents an opportunity to tackle long-ignored water problems and to reimagine how we manage, use and even think about water.

One good way to tackle these “long-ignored water problems” is for thought leaders to discuss them on national television. (Thought leaders are scholars, scientists, and writers that have a large media presence and influence public debates and policy.) Since the drought is big news this summer, thought leaders have an opportunity to frame the conversation.

So when I learned (via twitter) that Jeff Sachs, the director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute had recently appeared on MSBC to discuss the drought, I was curious about what he had to say. Sachs, in case you weren’t aware, is the embodiment of a thought leader. From his bio:

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 80 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders.

Here’s the segment and opening exchange between the MSNBC anchor and Sachs:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Anchor: I guess my question is we talk about climate change and energy policy, sometimes in a vacuum, but now that there is a very tangible effect that it’s having or will have and will continue to have on economics, on our economic system and agribusiness, do you think there will be much of an impetus for our leaders to do something about this?

Sachs:  Definitely the public is seeing what this climate change means. It’s not a theory. It’s not something about the distant future. It’s hitting the planet now and not only in the United States. I spent a lot of the recent months in Africa. Massive droughts in the horn of Africa, and in West Africa. We know that Beijing has had the worst floods in modern history because…it’s massive rainfall. Weather is being disturbed everywhere. I think all over the world people know something’s not right. The world is changing. Indeed it is. That’s what the science shows, but we have been so much in the grip of the oil lobby, which is one of the world’s most powerful lobbies, that it has turned off the debate on this for years and now people are seeing what’s going on. It’s reckless what we’ve been doing, just driving the world’s economy to disaster.

*****

So there you have it. A news segment on the deepening American drought is about climate change. Be sure to watch the whole thing, as Sachs goes on to reiterate that the oil lobby (and the Koch brothers) are the main reason why the world hasn’t acted on global warming.

There’s a number of reasons why we can’t seem to have a sophisticated conversation about climate change or about how to make society less vulnerable to severe drought. The polluted science communication environment is certainly one of them. And yes, ideologues and entrenched business interests are another. But let’s be honest: Influential thought leaders deserve a share of the blame.

344 Responses to “When Opinion Leaders Don't Lead”

  1. MarkB says:

    In Germany during the 1930s, they had the Jews. Now, we have the Koch brothers, Big Oil, the corporations, Wall Street, etc. The more things change….

  2. Tom C says:

    Paul Krugman is a thought leader.  This despite being a key advisor for Enron, a big fan of Joe Romm, and a serial liar (if you doubt, Google Daniel Okrent and Krugman).  That these guys are thought leaders is not due to their ability to explain or predict important aspects of our life, it is because they are annointed in the “thought leader” role by MSNBC, the Nobel committee, etc.

  3. Joshua says:

    FWIW –

    I think that this post is balanced, Keith – in particular considering the rhetoric in the interview. Caveats are important.

    On the other hand, I’m sure it isn’t lost on you that in response to your post, you get Mark B equating the treatment of the Koch Bros with burning people in ovens.

    That isn’t your fault, by any means. But is there anything that can be done to make such responses less likely? Perpetuating the same old same old won’t get us anywhere.

    Of course, I am buying up stock in jello mold, so it is in my financial interest for things to remain the same.

  4. Keith Kloor says:

    Joshua,

    So are you asking if there’s a way I can write a post that won’t prompt such responses?

    Should I write posts as if various commenters are looking over my shoulder, wondering how they might respond?

    I don’t understand your point.

  5. Tom C says:

    Joshua – MarkB was making a rhetorical comparison as opposed to a literal comparison.  You seem to struggle with this concept.  In Germany everything was blamed on the Jews, no matter how preposterous the charge.  Sachs blaming the Koch brothers for inaction on GW is equally preposterous.  How the Koch brothers can frustrate the will of nations and supra-national concerns on such a shoestring budget seems odd to Ben Pile.  Me too.

  6. Tom Scharf says:

    And in other news, not covered by any “thought leaders” is this impact from the evil big energy sector: AP IMPACT: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low

    In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

    Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

    http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_289563/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=QfQuXDEk 

    Bury the good news!  Agenda probability lowers if we say anything good is happening!  No faux balance!

    Be sure to read the article to see how this good news with actual observational measurements to back it up is being enthusiastically embraced by the Sierra Club:

    “The Sierra Club has serious doubts about the net benefits of natural gas,” said Deborah Nardone, director of the group’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign.

    “Without sufficient oversight and protections, we have no way of knowing how much dangerous pollution is being released into Americans’ air and water by the gas industry. For those reason, our ultimate goal is to replace coal with clean energy and energy efficiency and as little natural gas as possible.”

    Just to add my own faux balance, here is a quote from the most evil of all evil climate scientists:

    Despite unanswered questions about the environmental effects of drilling, the gas boom “is actually one of a number of reasons for cautious optimism,” Mann said. “There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there. It is important to point out that there is still time” to address global warning.

    Also verboten is any discussion on how GMO drought resistant crops may be reducing the impact of this drought in the US.

  7. LGCarey says:

    Well – isn’t your request much like Brad DeLong’s oft repeated desire for a “better press corps”?  The question that Sachs responded to was explicitly framed by the anchor as “about climate change and energy policy”.  Accordingly, Sach replied with an answer about climate change, and provided a description of climate trends which fit with events leading to major agricultural impacts in recent history, which are consistent with broad projections under all major climate models, which are supported by a significant and expanding literature and which do in fact constitute a significant risk factor in feeding a world headed to 9 billion people.  I see Romm finally picked up on uber-money manager Jeremy Grantham’s July newsletter which also addresses this topic – maybe you should have a look Keith.  

  8. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Keith,

    Can you elaborate on your criticism of Sach’s comments? It seems to me that he’s essentially correct.

  9. Ed Forbes says:

    LoL….can you say “cherry picked”?…sure you can…No mention of the 1930’s where drought was MUCH worse. Records on rain fall are pretty clear on this point. If not CAGW then, why CAGW now?  That’s right, I forget….it does not match the narrative.

  10. Tom Scharf says:

    Marlowe, if you can’t figure out how categorically stating today’s extreme weather is definitely caused by climate change (not weather 80 years from now) to the exclusion of natural variability and pinning the blame on the Koch Brothers and the WSJ is not essentially correct, then your blinders are on pretty tight, but we already knew that, didn’t we?   

  11. Tom Fuller says:

    Sachs has been a disappointment for years, so no surprises from that interview.

    The lost opportunity is significant. A real drought covering significant sections of the U.S. is an opportunity to look at urban planning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, flood plains, insurance policies and much more. 

    It is an opportunity to begin implementation of low hanging fruit adaptation policies that would address changes expected for 2C warming. My co-author’s favorite example is why are low income taxpayers subsidizing the perpetual rebuilding of mansions in Malibu or Miami…

    Instead it’s a tired regurgitation of the same unproven tropes.

    Sachs is a thought leader because he has held authoritative positions and can articulate the conventional wisdom on a number of issues. He’s essentially yet another Captain Obvious who can be accurately quoted in advance of  opening his mouth.

    Yet another missed opportunity.

  12. BillC says:

    Thanks, Tom Fuller for a value-added comment!

  13. Joshua says:

    (4) Keith

    I don’t know what would make anything different. Just asking the question. Perhaps focusing more (as you do sometimes), on the underlying mechanics of the food fight as opposed to who is flinging jello would focus people more in that direction?

    I don’t think it is exactly a bad idea for you to anticipate various reactions to your posts and adjust accordingly. I’m sure that you already to that to some extent. What is your goal in writing this post? Certainly some of your goal must be related to how you see people responding?

    What does this post accomplish? Will someone, who prior to reading this post didn’t feel that rhetoric like  Sachs’ was ill-founded scientifically, have their eyes opened? I doubt it. Looks like more of the same old same old to me, which will generate comments along very well-worn paths of reasoning. I don’t have answers. As I said, from where I sit it was a balanced post.

    I guess I think, however, that if there were more balance in your overall focus it might stimulate more balance from folks who identify with your focus on one side or the other. You have a bit of a unique position in the debate. The comments at your blog have a bit of a unique overall character (in my view). With the knowledge that you recognize the polemics of “realists,” maybe some “skeptics” might be more open to what you say about polemics from “skeptics.” And visa versa. What I see now, and I think this is due to an overall imbalance in your focus, is that you largely get defensive reactions from “realists” and piling on from “skeptics.” Same old, same old (with the reverse happening on other blogs that have a different overall balance).

    But there is a bit of a difference here. What do you hope to do that is different, and how do you hope to achieve that goal? What is your “competitive advantage?”

  14. Tom Fuller says:

    I keep asking myself why all of the people criticizing Keith’s choices don’t start their own blog and do it right?

  15. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua,

    Why would a journalist need to have an agenda and a goal with every article?  That is the definition of journalistic bias.

    Maybe KK is reporting the data as he sees it, and is not serving any specific agenda?  Maybe he is simply informing his readers of interesting events?

    Maybe it’s not very important to anyone how KK’s posts fit your agenda?

  16. steven mosher says:

    of course I blame sachs for saying things that caused keith to write what he wrote which caused commenters to say things about nazis. In truth, I blame the Koch brothers who pay people to say things that made sachs say things that made keith write things that made commenters write things that joshua finds objectionable.

    Morse peckham in power and explantion makes a very simple point about signs (writing) the their meaning. The meaning of any sign is the response to the sign, and the response is underdetermined by the sign. People will say shit. I see a sign that says slow children at play and I wonder where the fast ones are. The only way to control the response to the sign is enforcement. usually we use more signs to channel the responses to signs. In the end, the only thing that works is force. Somebody gets a ticket written for interpreting a sign differently than intended. So unless keith is going to write tickets and use force to control commenters responses to his signs, we are stuck listening to nazi talk and hall monitor Joshua.

  17. Joshua says:

    steven –

    As often  happens, you got sloppy. I find nothing “objectionable” about Mark B’s comment about Nazis. I honestly can’t imagine anything that anyone could write in a blog post that I would find objectionable. I suppose it’s possible – but it hasn’t happened yet. And this is not the first time that you have made that mistake in interpreting my reaction.

    Mark’s comment isn’t objectionable. But it is evidence. Evidence of phenomena that we have seen countless times in blog posts. I specifically pointed out I don’t think that the facile nature of Mark’s post is something for which Keith should be “blamed.” There’s no blame. Read what I wrote again. If you actually have a criticism that’s on point – I’d like to read it.

    If you’re going to rant as a riff off of something I’ve said – at least get it right.

  18. Joshua says:

    (15) Tom –

    You know, I’ve thought about it more, and I hate to admit it, but you have made an excellent point.

    Not all journalists have a bias. The journalists I agree with are bias free.

  19. Marlowe Johnson says:

    i’m still trying to figure out what Keith’s beef is with the interview…

  20. Baffled, along with Marlowe, about Keith’s position in this thread.Tom Fuller’s “He’s essentially yet another Captain Obvious who can be accurately quoted in advance of opening his mouth.” is another example of how well Fuller can string words together, especially about something he dislikes. I love it, especially when it’s aimed at somebody else besides me.But if the critique is that someone is saying something on mass media that is obvious and predictable to those of us who are immersed in the material, I don’t see the point.We are not having the conversation about dramatically reducing fossil fuels from the economy; about time frames, about international obligations, about risks. We are not having the conversation in large measure because it threatens huge economic interests. Sachs says so and he is right, whether it is obvious or not.Tom Fuller once again points his wit at an innocent victim. This still leaves me baffled as to Keith’s point, also not for the first time.

  21. Tom Fuller says:

    Dr. Tobis, it’s not that we are not having the conversation about reducing fossil fuels in our economy. We are having that conversation in multiple venues with a variety of participants.

    The missed opportunity with Jeffrey Sachs is that imposing that same repetitive conversation here is not only redundant, it drowns out the smaller scale conversation on subjects that have relevance and utility with regards to localized or regional phenomena. 

    Just once we could have talked about dealing with drought in the affected areas.

  22. Joshua says:

    I must say that IMO Fuller does make some good points in #11.

    No, really. 

  23. Marlowe Johnson says:

    In a generic sense perhaps. but sachs was merely answering the questions he was asked by the anchorwoman, so the criticism seems misplaced IMO.

  24. Tom Fuller says:

    #20, I just noticed your use of the word ‘innocent’. Shame.

  25. Tom Scharf says:

    #18  It’s a bit more enjoyable around here when people have a sense of humor.

  26. tlitb1 says:

    Wow! Watched that show and I have to say after hearing a lot about how Fox news being a right wing denialist talking shop I have to say this MSBNC show displays they have caught right up as a wing nut antidote! 😉

    It really just came across as a members of a cult getting themselves into rapture ““ they even mentioned the “End Times in America”. What an incredibly incoherent jumble. I think the problem with the great “thought leader” here is that he clearly has no more gravitas and nothing more to say than the excited host. He rambles about “soaring” numbers of public concern, but cursing the Koch brothers for powerful dissuasion in the same breath. It’s hard to keep track, I thought they’d start talking in tongues towards the end. As Mr Kloor intimates, I think the one thing any intelligent person of independent mind would see there is a lack of coherence or intelligence from the “thought leader” Sachs.

    “Thought leader” seems a very modern construct.

    I’m sure some time towards the end of the 20th century the many “thought leaders” who could be remembered to have real ability in leadership of thought – tempered in the early 20th foundry – all died off (Gore Vidal being the last I reckon) and the term has now merged into the obscurely elected “thought leaders” we see thrust upon us by the media today. Sachs is an incredible buffoon he’s funny, but not in a Vidal way 😉

  27. Arthur Smith says:

    Add me to those confused by what Keith’s problem is here. Fishman’s column lists a bunch of water-conservation steps we could take – is the point that Sachs should be promoting such things? But the question under a changing climate is how do you even plan water management measures that work. Last year we had record flooding along the Mississippi – conservation steps would have been no help in dealing with that problem of *too much* water! We have a limited budget to change infrastructure; how do we even know what we should spend it on if everything is liable to change so radically from year to year? That’s the fundamental reason why climate is a *more* critical issue than water management – if we don’t tackle climate there’s hardly any way to know whether we will have too little, too much, or just too variable a water supply to manage.

    I’d also like to comment on this whole idea of “opinion leaders”. There are many loud voices in this nation and around the world, with a huge variety of opinions. You could count twitter followers or minor cable channel appearances or fading newspaper column inches to measure influence, I suppose. Time Magazine probably has a bunch of objective things to look at. But what really matters with influence is whether it has any actual impact on the world.

    Sachs had influence a couple of decades ago in the remaking of Eastern Europe during the first Bush and Clinton administrations. Some of what he did worked well, some didn’t, perhaps not his fault. He’s an economist, ivory tower-ish, but not exactly a scientist. Does anybody here seriously assert that Jeffrey Sachs has had more influence on actions and policies in the US and the world over the past year or so than, say, David Koch? I doubt he has even had 1/100 of Koch’s influence on actual policy action in the recent past.

  28. jim says:

    Marlowe, I’m guessing Keith’s beef with the interview is that there is no discussion about how to constructively deal with the drought specifically and water issues in arid planes with shirinking aquifers more generally, regardless of the cause.  Its not clear how identifying AGW as the proximate cause has any positive benefit in, say, the next 20 yrs.  And its a little hard to credit Sachs with any useful contribution at all.

  29. Keith Kloor says:

    @19, 20

    Sorry guys, I can’t go down the rabbit hole with you today. 

  30. Joshua says:

    (23) Marlowe –

    I don’t think that the fact that he was answering questions addresses Tom’s criticism. An opportunity lost is an opportunity lost.

  31. Tom Fuller says:

    I find it interesting that Sachs flat out accuses the Koch brothers of buying politicians in that video. I wonder if there is evidence of this or if there will be consequences for a very bold statement.

  32. Keith Kloor says:

    Tom (31)

    There is no question that the Koch brothers underwrite campaigns and propaganda that aim to undermine efforts to take action on climate change.

    But as usual, folks like Sachs exaggerate their impact on the very complicated climate policy/politics equation. That he spent a portion of his air time doing this was astonishing to me.

  33. Matt B says:

    I have been following Dr. Sachs’s pronouncements for a while and one thing is clear, between us we know all there is to know in the world. Dr Sachs knows everything except that he’s a shameless self-promoting windbag, and I know that………

  34. thingsbreak says:

    @32 Keith Kloor:
    “There is no question that the Koch brothers underwrite campaigns and propaganda that aim to undermine efforts to take action on climate change.”

    That is perhaps the least important way in which the Kochs and similar interests (Norquist, conservative think tanks) affect the odds of climate mitigation, adaptation, clean energy adoption, etc.

    Their primary means of delaying action on climate change is creating an environment that is hostile to any Republican (goes without saying for Democrats as well) that is insufficiently anti-government and anti-regulation in general. By primary-ing any Republican that has the nerve to acknowledge the problem and say they will do something about it, they ensure that that Republican will either fall in line or get thrown out.

    The second most important way is by shaping the bounds of acceptability for white papers that get provided to politicians.

    Direct funding of specifically anti-climate propaganda is almost irrelevant these days.

  35. Tom Fuller says:

    Yeah, I don’t see it either. I am no fan of the Kochs at all. But this leaves the door open for more tit-for-tat comparisons with people ranging from George Soros on down the line. And the Kochs did fund Muller and believe me, they knew where he stood.On a brighter note, the Heartland Foundation has invited me to join their panel of experts. I told them that I was to the left of Harpo Marx and that I was not a skeptic. They gulped and said they still wanted me, as long as I only wrote about energy.I’m tempted to join just to piss some people off and confirm other people’s (mis) conceptions of me. Looks like I’d be the only high school grad on the panel.

  36. Nullius in Verba says:

    #31,

    I believe it is a reference to the reports that they have contributed to Senator Inhofe’s campaign fund. $74.6k out of $7.2m during 2007-2012, according to OpenSecrets. Most of that was back in 2008, and is apparently somewhat below average for a senator, according to the graph.

    #35,

    “But this leaves the door open for more tit-for-tat comparisons with people ranging from George Soros on down the line.”

    Quite so. Indeed, it would seem to apply to anyone trying to express their own view, or participating in politics, in the hopes of influencing public opinion.

    “I told them that I was to the left of Harpo Marx and that I was not a skeptic.”

    Isn’t that just the sort of person they need? Someone to test their arguments out on, warn them when they’re about to make a stupid mistake? Maybe it would improve the quality of their output – god knows it needs it.

    The Vatican used to appoint a person to argue against the committee when granting sainthood – a devil’s advocate. From Heartland’s point of view it’s not such a bad idea. They invite orthodox climate scientists to speak at their conferences, why not on their committees?

    From your point of view, it can surely only bring grief, though. Their brand is pretty toxic, even on the sceptic side of the fence.

  37. Matt B says:

    There were a couple other good nuggets in that clip:

    Eric Bates, paraphrasing Bill McKibben: “….the movement to mobilize against global warming has never really had a clear enemy because the movement has never been willing to say who’s to blame here……..”; well how about that! The Movement finally in 2012 is getting its act together & guess what? They sleuthed out it was Big Oil all the time!

    Later the intrepid interviewer is pretty upset that ranchers have been slaughtering livestock because of lack of feed & says “that’s what you think of when you think of end of times in America”…..yep, the fateful day we sacrifice Elsie the Cow, the Apocolypse will indeed be nigh……..

  38. Matt B says:

    @35 TF – I’d be careful about pimping that high school degree, the folks at Sourcewatch go out of their way to make sure everyone knows you’re a slacker hillbilly…….

  39. Tom Fuller says:

    I think Sourcewatch has already painted a black x on my door.

  40. Keith Kloor says:

    Look, the point here is not to beat up on mainstream media–especially cable TV. None of us have much expectations of an edifying climate debate happening on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

    And if it was McKibben, instead of Sachs, spouting all the familiar talking points, I wouldn’t have given this episode a second thought. Because it wouldn’t have surprised me.

    But I expect more from Sachs (perhaps that is unwarranted?). He heads up an esteemed institution that is focused on sustainability issues. This is his meat and potatoes. Is it too much to ask/expect for him to go off script and steer the conversation to a serious discussion of germane issues related to the drought?  

  41. Matt B says:

    @ 40 KK – You’re right, poking fun at inane drones inhabiting the cable airwaves doesn’t move the conversation forward. My bad.

    Regarding your final question, in this particular case yes it is too much to ask/expect.

  42. Tom Fuller says:

    I think Sachs, like many others who have pronounced on climate issues as opposed to discussing it, is actually operating from a position of ignorance. If there is an information deficit to be described in the real world, what he says is evidence of its existence.

    It’s not even that he’s wrong–much of what he said is true. But it’s evidence from tone and lack of added value that he’s parroting talking points rather than arguing from expertise. 

  43. steven mosher says:

    Joshua. you ask if there is anything Keith can do to make comments like marks less frequent.

    lets see you want them to be less frequent. somehow that not a ringing endorsement of them. So you dont find them objectionable, but you object to the frequency with which these non objectionable comments occur.

    I get it. You have to complain about keith. you find his piece balanced, but thats not good enough for our hall monitor. You also want keith to write in such a way that the frequency of “non objectionable” comments will go down.

    At what frequency of occurance will the hall monitor be satisfied? one per thread? one per week?

  44. Menth says:

    I enjoy how people refer to “economic interests” inhibiting the effective curtailment of emissions like they’re the asshole jocks from high school who got all the girls and tormented them.

  45. Joshua says:

    Closer to being right around the margins, steven, but still wrong in the main.

    I don’t “object” to the frequency of posts like Mark’s. That dreck is all over the climate blogosphere. Everywhere. I find it unfortunate. How many times do we read the same garbage back and forth over and over? You don’t think it’s a little silly?

    So I ask if there’s something that Keith might do that would elicit more productive responses in balance. It’s a question. Open for exploration. I guess you think that there isn’t anything he might change to get better results. I’m a bit more optimistic. I’m inclined to think he might experiment a bit. He’s been doing this schtick for a while. Maybe he might try something else. It’s totally up to him. I do wonder, however, how he views his mission. What is his goal?

    Then again, maybe the type of comments generated in his blog is exactly what he wants. That’s fine. It’s his blog.  It’s better here than anywhere else I can think of. I think that’s to his credit. I think that it reflects what he does well.

    And what’s with the “hall monitor” nonsense? Do I think that I have any more right to say what should or shouldn’t be posted in comments than anyone else? Nope. I comment on the comments. It’s what I do. And you complain about my comments about the comments. That’s what you do. Remember advising Judith to ban me? She didn’t go for it. Maybe Keith will.

    Or maybe you could lighten up a bit?

  46. Joshua says:

    (44) Willard -Hilarious.

  47. steven mosher says:

    Joshua: “But is there anything that can be done to make such responses less likely?

    Then you say you dont object to the frequency? which means the likelihood of occurance.

    when something becomes less likely to occur its frequency goes down.

    So we are saying the same thing, you just don’t want to admit it. You asked if there was anything that can be done to make these types of comments which you find silly but dont object to LESS LIKELY. which means of course less frequent.

    I can ask the same question using your words.

    how less likely would they have to be for you to be happy? What amount of is just right for you?

    Look. you are the one making a request of keith.. to do something to make these types of comments less likely. well how likely are they now? would a 10% lower amount make you happy? 15%? from what level? It seems to me that you know these things.

    1. keith cant control it
    2. its all over the internet as you state.
    3. if you never spell out what will satisfy you
    Then you will always have that little escape clause.

    keith does a balanced post. you know, since silliness is all over the internet, that if you wait long enough you can simply post

    “Keith, what a wonderfully balanced post. yet, is there something that can be done to make comments like 76536 less likely?”

    Here’s a thought. maybe the comments that ought to less likely are the “yes,but” variety.

    yes I liked your post keith, but.

  48. steven mosher says:

    “How many times do we read the same garbage back and forth over and over?”

    “I comment on comments. Its what I do.”

    yes, Joshua, when i see you try to hold a host to account for what the guests say, I feel like I am reading the same garbage over and over again.
    Now, I note that you don’t always do this. You only do it in certain venues. Which says that you are capable of different behavior. Still, you seem to reserve this particular style for certain places. I just note that.

    It’s almost as if in those places where you feel comfortable confronting the host on substance, you do. And, when you happen to agree with them, you cant avoid adding some sort of negative comment. “here keith I agree with you, but since my role here is to be critic, i will fall back on the same old garbage and add a swipe at some other commenter.. because… why?

  49. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    It’s a semantic thing. I don’t “object” to the posts. I observe them, and I think that the dialogue could be improved if they were less frequent. Ok, so let’s move beyond that semantic argument.

    It isn’t a matter of me being “happy,” (kind of another semantic thing) if they are a certain % fewer. I think the dialogue might be improved if they were fewer. Maybe it wouldn’t be. I think it’s worth a shot.

    I have no % for how much they happen now. I haven’t quantified the data. I’m not making a scientific argument. I haven’t drawn hard conclusions. I’m openly speculating, with qualified language, and asking questions. And I have a theory, a hypothesis

    I see it less here than elsewhere. Since I haven’t quantified the evidence, I could be wrong. It’s a gut feeling.

    The fact that there is less here intrigues me. To repeat –  I suspect that it reflects something about Keith’s balance. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe there is no more balance here. Maybe my sense that is more balance here is a product of my own biases. And maybe not.

    But I wonder if there is a correlation, a causal relationship between variables that do create more balance here. If so, then the logical next step, IMO, is to play with the variables a bit and see what happens. That’s one way to determine causality, one way to distinguish whether the correlation (that I think I see) reflects a causal relationship.

    If someone puts a text box in a comment section on their blog, then I get to play with my ideas. If Keith’s perfectly satisfied with the dialog as it currently takes place, then he has no reason to experiment as I suggest. That is why I ask him what his mission is, what his goal is. The most concrete thing I’ve gotten in that regard is that he engages the debate on different planes. That’s cool. I get that. That makes sense. That doesn’t imply, necessarily, that he might not think through a bit more the cause-and-effect that currently exists. 

    I have a friend who does consulting work in business communication. One of the things she talks about in her workshops is replacing “Yes but” with “Yes and” — as a way to enhance creativity (the approach she uses is derived from her background in improvisational theater) and openness to feedback. You have a point. It’s not a style that comes naturally to me. I’d be better off employing it more. 

  50. Keith Kloor says:

    Joshua (46) 

    “So I ask if there’s something that Keith might do that would elicit more productive responses in balance.”

    In balance means what? You’re responding to one comment in a thread that is now 40 comments plus. Is your response “in balance”? Perhaps you should have waited a bit to see more comments. And even then, the nature of blogs is that only a small percentage of readers takes the time to comment (most are lurkers).

    I appreciate that you think highly of this blog, but in this instance you seem to be nitpicking.

    I know you have a contentious blog history with Mosher, but try and put your antipathy aside and read what he says in #48. Seems spot on to me.

  51. Keith Kloor says:

    Joshua (50) 

    “If Keith’s perfectly satisfied with the dialog as it currently takes place, then he has no reason to experiment as I suggest.”

    I don’t know what you’re suggesting. I really don’t. Perhaps you should spell it out more clearly.

    But do keep in mind: We know climate change is now part of the culture wars. We can see by a glance around the blogosphere (and in the comment threads of newspapers articles) how strongly people feel about it, regardless of their politics/ideology. We also know that a reader will project his own biases/preconceptions on to any given post.

    Now, knowing all this, how do you propose that I reach the higher level of dialogue you seek (even in a post that you admit is balanced)?

  52. Joshua says:

    Steven –

    yes, Joshua, when i see you try to hold a host to account for what the
    guests say, I feel like I am reading the same garbage over and over again.

    That’s not how I see it. I don’t hold Keith to account for Mark’s facile reasoning any more than I hold Judith to account for wagathon’s political extremism. I suggest to Judith what I think she might be able to do to further her stated goal of building bridges. In general, I think she could do that by better controlling for her own biases. In part, I think that controlling for her biases would require from her a more even-handed approach to  noting the biases on both sides of the debate in proportion to the extent that they exist. You and I disagree, I guess, on that estimate of proportionality – so be it.  I think that Keith is more effective than Judith at promoting dialogue. In part, I think, that is because he is more balanced than she. It’s part of a continuum, and that’s why I offer my theories about how to move further down that path. 

    I don’t advocate that Judith ban people. Ironically, I will note that you do that (you’ve suggested that she ban me). That would be, precisely, holding her to account for what commenters say. I’ve never asked for any blogger to ban or censor any commenter. Ever. .

    Now, I note that you don’t always do this. You only do it in certain venues.

    At which venues do you observe me “behaving” differently? Is this more of that nonsense about how you can see “through a window into [my] soul” and determine something about an attitude I have towards “certain” women? Doesn’t the fact that you’re now on me for the same thing you get on me for over at Judith’s suggest to you that you should temper your confidence in your interpretations of my “behavior?” I think I’m pretty singularly focused on asking bloggers to control for what I see are biases.

    It’s almost as if in those places where you feel comfortable confronting the host on substance, you do.

    Well – I tend toward being confrontational with all the hosts of blogs I comment on.  I am more comfortable doing that here than I might be at WUWT – but then again, Anthony couldn’t handle me being confrontational, so he made a false charge and then put me into moderation so I couldn’t defend against his charge. So if I do it less there it isn’t because of my comfort level.

    I am less confrontational at blogs that are on the “realist” side of the debate – but even there I do tend to comment more when my take on issues is different than the perspective being offered. If I agree with a perspective I’m less likely to chime in. If I’m reading a blog where I agree with the perspective of the host but I disagree with the comments of the readers,  I tend to engage.

    But that all said, a big piece of my schtick is to point out the hypocrisy of “skeptics.” I acknowledge that I’m less interested in pointing out hypocrisy amongst “realists.” If that’s a failing – or a reflection of bias, so be it. I never claimed to be perfect or unbiased. But that in itself does not negate the arguments about the hypocrisy I see amongst “skeptics.” Those arguments stand or fall on their own. 

    Anyway, – enough of this nonsense. I feel like I’m in Willard’s cartoon again. Have a good night.

  53. willard says:

    > keith cant control it

    Of course he can:

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/nanny.htm

    That ought to bring Ms. Kloor a dream-like felicity.

  54. Joshua says:

    Keith –

    In balance means what? You’re responding to one comment in a thread that is now 40 comments plus. Is your response “in balance”?

    Sure, I jumped on one comment – but it was a comment that very well characterizes much of the debate in previous threads. Should I wait until post #40 on this post to say how an earlier post on this blog is representative of a pattern? Sure, maybe…But I don’t need more comments in this post to look back at previous threads to see a characteristic of people trading lame comments like Mark’s back and forth and back and forth. Sometimes there is good dialog. And sometimes you just read past the jello mold to find something useful.But the pattern I’m speaking to exists. In my view, the pattern is somewhat less entrenched here than elsewhere. Why? If you know why, then maybe you can use that to an advantage.On a bit of a tangent:One of the funnier thing about blog threads is reading when people from
    both sides ask the blogger to censor or ban people for behaviors that
    just magically only appear in people they are in ideological opposition
    to. It’s like the entirely selective criteria people use to determine
    who is or isn’t a “troll.” Trolls only exist on the other side of the
    lunch room. But what lies beneath that funny pattern of hypocrisy is that people are saying that the dialog tends towards being dreck. Everyone knows it. There are discussions all the time about what a blogger should do about it. There was a thread today with many comments back and forth about whether some folks should be censored (with the usual flavor of hypocrisy attached). So why do my comments about what might be done draw so much fire?  Why would Mosher not like me suggesting a way to change the dynamic when he, himself, has advocated that I be censored to control the dialog? One reason may be because I bring it up a lot. I don’t happen to think that’s the full explanation.

  55. Joshua says:

    ==>> Now, knowing all this, how do you propose that I reach the higher level of dialogue you seek (even in a post that you admit is balanced)?<<==

    If you have more balance in the comments here than there exists elsewhere, then logically the answer would be more balance.

    Now perhaps you are perfectly evenly balanced. Once you’re evenly balanced you can’t get more balanced.  Maybe any sense of imbalance I have only reflects my biased viewpoint.

    But I think that your focus could be less on extremism among environmentalists, and in particular the influence of extremist environmentalists on the media. I see your focus there as being somewhat, and I say somewhat, disproportionate to the overall character of the debate. I have pointed this out before when I felt that you generalized too much about environmentalists, or when I felt that you oversimplified the cause-and-effect of extremist environmentalism on public opinion.

    So much for “Yeah, and.” It is very difficult.

  56. Joshua says:

    As usual, Willard lowers the boom.

    And with that I will raise the quality of discourse by turning off my computer, walking the dog, and going to bed.

  57. willard says:

    Have more faith in the invisible hand of Freedom, Joshua.

  58. willard says:

    Joshua,

    Please look at Keith’s argument:

    There’s a number of reasons why we can’t seem to have a sophisticated conversation about climate change or about how to make society less vulnerable to severe drought. The polluted science communication environment is certainly one of them. And yes, ideologues and entrenched business interests are another. But let’s be honest: Influential thought leaders deserve a share of the blame.

    I believe what you want to say is in this argument. The main ingredients are there: a sophisticated conversation, a polluted communication environment, and thought leaders. All you need is to apply this argument to Keith’s.

    If we believe that thought leaders contribute to polluting the communication environment by deteriorating the level of conversation, we burden ourselves in following through the consequences of this belief.

    This kind of reasoning appeals to responsibility. It does not lay any blame. It does not appeal to any motivation.

    ***

    I’m sorry you think I lower the boom. The Xtranormal video was not meant for your character and the Blog Warriors cartoon was there to express the idea that we can doubt Keith’s argument.

    I honestly wonder what would remain from climate blogland if we could magically remove the blame games.

  59. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I believe what you want to say is in this argument.

    Yes. That is exactly what I meant when I said that the post is balanced. I”m going to leave it at that.

  60. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua,

    Does the term “hijacking someone else’s blog” mean anything to you?

    Have you ever been in a group conversation where one person has a pathological need to dominate the conversation?  I bet you have been in hundreds of them, maybe thousands.  It’s rather annoying.

  61. Tom Scharf says:

    Off topic, but thought leader Muller is back in the news again.  He seems to rather enjoy the spotlight.  This time he is taking on another hot button topic, the over reaction of nuclear fears, specifically Fukushima.

    The Panic Over Fukushima

    But over the following weeks and months, the fear grew that the ultimate victims of this damaged nuke would number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The “hot spots” in Japan that frightened many people showed radiation at the level of .1 rem, a number quite small compared with the average excess dose that people happily live with in Denver.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444772404577589270444059332.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories 

  62. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua,

    Just to be clear on where I stand.  I don’t mind reading your comments, I just don’t want to read 10,000 words a day.  Your comments and reactions to your comments are beginning to dominate the conversation in the last month.  This blog is better in its own way because their has been a diverse conversation in a manageable number of comments.  This is a hobby for some of us, and reading 600 comments per thread per day such as occurs over at JC’s is just not in the cards for me.And not that it likely matters much to you, but I think you would be a more effective communicator if you cut your word count down.  You have talent and make good points on occasion, but it gets lost in a blah blah blah mind dump.

  63. Matt B says:

    @ 62 TS, pretty good article by Muller. If he uses his newly-minted voice of authority for common sense like this, then that will be all to the good. Unfortunately I doubt many media outlets that “liked” his temp reconstruction will like this article very much….

  64. harrywr2 says:

    #32

    But as usual, folks like Sachs exaggerate their impact on the very complicated climate policy/politics equation

    Absolutely. It’s easy to identify a problem. The hard part comes in  finding acceptable solutions that don’t place an unacceptable burden on the citizenry(as judged by the citizenry) or have unintended side effects.I would note Richard Muller was on WSJ Week in Review shilling for nuclear today. Last week he was on Progressive Radio shilling for gas. Having just reread a piece in the Guardian by  Sachs  done in May he was shilling for nuclear as well. He also had a line about ‘magical thinking and corporate interests’ being too powerful.I’m not sure he’s not tailoring the message to his audience and that Muller isn’t doing the same.I don’t have much insight into ‘left leaning thought’ except for Marlowe…is it useful that the ‘Left’ have a conversation about ‘what is politically achievable’ given the reality that the ‘Right’ gets a vote.Is Sach’s message ‘Hey we have a serious problem that needs addressing but the Right Wingnuts are never going to accept our ‘preferred solution’?There are only three ways to end a conflict – annihilation, accommodation and assimilation. Taking annihilation off the table usually involves a recognition that the costs will be exorbitant and the odds of success are almost nonexistent. That means acknowledging the fact that one’s opponent is not powerless.

  65. Leonard Weinstein says:

    Arthur Smith #27 make the same mistake Sachs makes. There is no “record” events happening. Drought and flooding and storms are normal over even the last 100 year time scale. They just don’t happen ever year.

  66. tlitb1 says:

    Anybody just go “Meh” watching this clip that Keith Kloor has linked to?

    The presented clip starts by saying that the current US drought is the worst since 1956 and is

    “So significant it is considered extreme or exceptional”

    Sachs does nothing to heighten knowledge but quiescently accepts that the

    “end of times in America”

    Is being seen

    A normal person with a college education will immediately see problems here. Any weirdo’s here care to debate? 😉

    Damn I’m betting there are only normal people who don’t 😉

    Sachs is a cipher and should be known as such

  67. steven mosher says:

    willard of course wants a citation that the IPCC promises an open transparent process. Of course he refused to look at what we pointed him at

    “The IPCC’s work is guided by a set of principles and clear procedures for all the main activities of the organization. The document on Principles Governing IPCC Work lays down the role of the IPCC, organization, participation and key procedures and establishes comprehensiveness, objectivity, openness and transparency as guiding principles of IPCC Work. The IPCC is open to member countries of the UN and WMO. All major decisions about the organization and its work are taken by the Panel during the Plenary Sessions. ”

    That is standard willard. The argument I made was rather simple.

    1. The IPCC promises an open transparent process.
    2. Drafts are being put out to limited distribution.
    3. please provide EVIDENCE that limiting distribution leads to a BETTER DOCUMENT

    willtard responds, citation needed. he comes late to the party. hasnt read the core documents and demnads that we get his weak ass up to speed

  68. #69 : I am happy to contend that informal drafts do improve by informal consultation before being submitted to a formal process. I am willing to claim that the suggestion contained in #69 is not just wrong insofar as a goal of openness is concerned, but hostile to science and counterproductive to the sort of balance it claims to be advancing.

    There is openness and then there is ridiculous intrusion. In the limit of this argument, there should be a keystroke monitor and a microphone on my computer saving everything, so that if I type or even mutter something intemperate about, say, Pat Michaels or Fred Singer, say, it must be public instantly before I get a chance to erase it.

    This is ridiculous, of course, and I’m not saying Mosher suggest it, but it now becomes necessary to draw a line.

    What if my wife looks over my shoulder and says “do you really want to stir that pot”? If I’m an author, is she in violation of United Nations principles? Still ridiculous. What if it’s my office mate? What if I ask my office mate to look it over? How about my former office mate who now lives in Knoxville? How about the one in Canberra?

    If something I produce is going to be part of a prominent formal international process I should be able to ask my friends to look at it first. Doing so is no evidence of a violation of principles of openness or decency or honesty. It’s just a matter of trying to do a good job.

    People acting as friends should be considered an extension of my own process in creating an initial composition. This seems obvious to me. I am offended by the suggestion that there is anything wrong with having close colleagues and friends involved in drafting a major public document. If something like that can be read into the rules, the rules should be clarified or amended.

    Rather, this is the reasonable expectation. Until a draft is submitted, it belongs to the author. Formal process begins at a specific instant in time when the document is submitted to the formal process. Prior to that it’s just words which do not belong to that institution, even if the intent is to submit them at some point. Anything else is unworkable and quite the opposite of open.

    Being in science has enough drawbacks already without this sort of harassment added in. But making science unattractive as a career sometimes seems to be an explicit goal of the whole “climate skeptic” process. 

  69. Nullius in Verba says:

    #71,

    If you want to claim your process is transparent, then be transparent. If you don’t think it’s practical or beneficial to be transparent, then don’t claim that you are. Be open about it.

    You can of course ask your friends and family to look at it first, but if they give you advice on what to include or exclude, and those are decisions that other people might disagree with, then it helps to know what they were. Your wife asks if you want to stir that pot, and you decide that you don’t. But what if it was a pot that needed stirring? Your wife has decided the matter for everyone, but we’re not to be told the reasoning, or even that it was ever an issue.

    A compromise position might be that you have a couple of closed drafts, but then have a couple of fully open drafts before publishing. That way, you can get the obvious bloopers out of the way before others can get all bent out of shape over it, but then there is an opportunity for outsiders to raise issues and have the arguments resolved before everything is set in stone. That would meet the needs the transparency is supposed to answer without getting in the way of frank discussion.

    But you probably ought to think about it carefully if there are large parts of your discussions and drafting process that you wouldn’t want outsiders to see – if that’s an indication that there’s a problem with the way you’re doing it.

  70. Robert says:

    Joshua,I think you have a unique perspective and it’s a valuable one. Have you considered starting a blog of your own? Speaking only of my personal experience, the general dissatisfaction with a range of blogs — the feeling that what they were writing was good, but not quite spot on — was a symptom that it was time to be a producer as well as a critic. It takes more energy (not necessarily more time) but it’s rewarding.

  71. Tom Fuller says:

    I would think it possible to claim both that Tobis should not be required to report his wife’s kibitzing and that the IPCC process is not transparent without violating any laws of physics.

  72. Tom Scharf says:

    I understand Tobis’s point of excessive transparency getting in the way of getting things done, and opening up Pandora’s box for all those who clearly seek to simply disrupt the process and cause trouble (and those people do exist in politically heated arenas).

    I find it similar to Wall St. regulation.  Unnecessary and overbearing regulatory structure only serve to increase end costs and reduce efficiency.  Not an inspiring combination.

    However in the case of recent Wall St. shenanigans, when the industry has shown it cannot regulate itself to the clear detriment of the public, government intervention is necessary.  And this comes from an avowed capitalist.  

    With the IPCC, the question arises as to whether the IPCC has lost control of its ability to self regulate for its intended purpose.  Many have lost confidence in the organization to produce honest science due to a perceived political agenda. 

    The trick of course is implementing oversight that achieves the intended purpose.   

  73. Eli Rabett says:

    Is a drought weather or climate?  Clearly a one day drought is weather.  Clearly a 100 year long drought is climate.

  74. Tom Scharf says:

    WIRED: Apocalypse NOT

    Over the past half century, none of our threatened eco-pocalypses have played out as predicted. Some came partly true; some were averted by action; some were wholly chimerical. This raises a question that many find discomforting: With a track record like this, why should people accept the cataclysmic claims now being made about climate change? After all, 2012 marks the apocalyptic deadline of not just the Mayans but also a prominent figure in our own time: Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who said in 2007 that “if there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late “¦ This is the defining moment.” 

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot/all 

  75. Joshua says:

    Tom Scharf @ #61, #63, and numerous other posts spread out over previous threads, many of them containing personal attacks.Have you paused to consider the depth of irony behind writing a series of posts primarily focused on insulting me, to complain about the fact that you are distracted by my posts? I’ll point out a few things to help you going forward:Writing posts to insult me or to complain that I am distracting you will not change what, or how much I post. I consider you responsible for your own behavior. You seem like a reasonably intelligent person – so I’m rather surprised that you think that I would assume responsibility for what you choose do to. I suspect that the reason for your confusion is that you have IDD (Irony Deficit Disorder). It is a common infliction in the blogosphere. There are two basic ways that I may change my posting “behavior.” One, is based purely on my own consideration: Of course, I may – for any variety of reasons – decide to post less, or to write shorter posts. I can assure you that your form of lobbying for me to do so will have no impact on my decisions  in that regard (although it will sometimes result in me writing more, and sometimes long, posts in response to you). Consider whether continued repetition of your whines will bring about the results you want.The second is if Keith lets me know that he wants me to change what I post or how I post. It’s his blog, and I respect the process he uses to run this blog. I am here at his discretion, and have no need nor with to disrespect the opportunity he provides to comment on his work or to engage with others who follow his work.

  76. Joshua says:

    Tom Scharf -@ #61, #63, and numerous other posts spread out over previous threads, many of them containing personal attacks.Have you paused to consider the depth of irony behind writing a series of posts primarily focused on insulting me, to complain about the fact that you are distracted by my posts?

    I’ll point out a few things to help you going forward:Writing posts to insult me or to complain that I am distracting you will not change what, or how much I post. I consider you responsible for your own behavior. You seem like a reasonably intelligent person ““ so I’m rather surprised that you think that I would assume responsibility for what you choose do to. I suspect that the reason for your confusion is that you have IDD (Irony Deficit Disorder). It is a common infliction in the blogosphere.

    There are two basic ways that I may change my posting “behavior.” One, is based purely on my own consideration: Of course, I may ““ for any variety of reasons ““ decide to post less, or to write shorter posts. I can assure you that your form of lobbying for me to do so will have no impact on my decisions  in that regard (although it will sometimes result in me writing more, and sometimes long, posts in response to you). Consider whether continued repetition of your whines will bring about the results you want.

    The second is if Keith lets me know that he wants me to change what I post or how I post. It’s his blog, and I respect the process he uses to run
    this blog. I am here at his discretion, and have no need nor with to disrespect the opportunity he provides to comment on his work or to engage with others who follow his work.

  77. Joshua says:

    #73 Robert –

    I have given thought to starting my own blog. The problem is that I’m afraid that the only people who’d show up to comment would be assholes who complain about what I post.

  78. Joshua says:

    #64  – Willard –

    I appreciate your pearls of enigma. Sometimes they help me to gain insight. You should be commended for that, as it isn’t an easy task to achieve.

    That said, while I do feel I have responsibility for my actions, I don’t feel responsible for people who read my posts and then write response after response to insult me or tell me they find my posts distracting. I started on this thread with a short and rather innocuous post. My subsequent posts were in response to people who responded to my original post, and their length was at least somewhat in proportion to the complexity of the issues they raised.

    (1) I am more than happy to respectfully engage anyone who responds to my comments in good faith to share perspectives.

    (2) I do not feel responsible for the impact of my posts on anyone who chooses to either engage me in bad faith or who tries to make me responsible for their decisions.

    (3) I have no problem with anyone deciding that I’m just another crank on the Internet, and as a result choosing to either not read my posts or read them and not respond. I am fully responsible for anyone who might react to my posts in that manner. But it isn’t something I particularly worry about.

  79. jim says:

    “We are not having the conversation [about dramatically reducing fossil fuels from the economy] in large measure because it threatens huge economic interests.”

     
    It just kills me when people talk about “economic interests” as though they were someone else’s private affairs ““ some parasitic lesion sucking the wealth out of everything for someone’s personal gain.
     
    Michael: “economic interests” are YOU.  Your pension.  Your 401K.  Your local schools.  Government tax receipts.  Funding for universities, highways, farm insurance, health insurance, NOAA, USGS, NASA, USDA, FDA, NTSB, JPL.  Your personal welfare, that of your immediate and extended family, your community, state, and country depends on the wealth that is produced in the economy. 
     
    Those are the “huge economic interests” that are “threatened” by the happy-happy-joy-joy fairy-tale world-saving plans advanced by the Green Loby for the last 20 years in various conferences.  Thankfully, no one serious ever took them seriously.
     
    I howled with laughter the other day when a commenter on another site ““ a person I know is educated ““ claimed that we were all better off back in the days when we had pensions, before we had to invest our money in dirty, profit-making stocks and bonds to build our retirement. Something tells me it is “educated” people like this that are driving the Green economic agenda.  Of course, I hope, we all know how pension funds earn their returns. 

  80. mt says:

    #82. Of course it’s us. Us now against us later. Us in the rich countries against those of us stuck in the poor countries. Us against our grandchildren.

    But the economic interests by definition have money to defend their interests, and the other interest groups I mentioned (which in some sense are also “us”) by definition do not. The only thing that can level the playing field is ethics: the human decency to include stakeholders that do not have current resources to bring to bear.

  81. John F. Pittman says:

    Joshua: If you start your own blog I will show up and prove your point. I know I am an asshole. But allow me an old biology joke. “Yes, I am an asshole; but every higher form of life needs one!” LOL. You will need one if you want your blog to attain a higher level of consciousness. I nominate me. Too many assholes is a sign of the lower lifeforms: cnideria, polychaetes, etc (jellyfish for the jello/mud slingers, and worms for the low life ranters and slime rakers).

  82. John F. Pittman says:

    mt your comment at #84 shows an ethical tribalism that all do not share. The comment that “the human decency to include stakeholders that do not have current resources to bring to bear” as being the ethical position can be argued against. The argument is: “Why is it ethical to take from those who were successful because their past generations invested in education, government, and wealth and give to those who did not and whose poverty in education government and wealth reflects what they did not do in a gane that may be only certain members will survive. If you accept that we will all die in order to give these poor chance while claiming this is about the survival of the human race, you argument will be morally bankrupt. Your argument requires a bit of  polyannaism which in other places you do not support. This is one of the reasons that policy will not be taken out of the science if the argument is a “doom and gloom” one. People may believe you, and will conclude that your policy reccommendation of given to the “less fortunate” is the last thing to do, not the first.

  83. PDA says:

    Thanks to John F. Pittman for an object lesson in Begging The Question. It can be really hard to come up with good examples to show what that term actually means.

  84. willard says:

    Joshua,

    I almost +1ed Tom Scharf’s #63. Instead, I referred to a post where I told about the same thing, and in which I was recalling two other times I told you so. Tom Scharf’s comment was even better formulated than my previous three tries.

    That Tom Scharf ain’t your friend shows in your #79, in response to him. A perfect example where a conversation is tough. In fact, if you read back both your #79 and #81, you’d see that your main topic is yourself.

    I’m not sure why you get defensive like that. Even if you were justified, it would still be a pain to read, as it is when Moshpit does it to self-promote himself or a fake meme, or when our very own Groundskeeper Willie starts to rip off his shirt.

    You’re just a dog on the Internet. Nobody cares much except when barking annoys them. Take what’s good in it and let go of the rest. The more you take yourself as a topic, the more it will get attacked.

    ***

    Besides, there was no reason to take personal the responsibility I was alluding to: it belongs to those who believe that what thinking leaders say matters to how “the debate” (whatever that is) follows. I don’t think you presume such thing. The “you” in that sentence was impersonal. Sorry for now making myself clearer.

    Getting collegial is tough in a situation with dividing disagreements. Getting personal is even worse, unless you’re using it as a trick. Just deal with it.

    If you want me to make myself even clearer, you have my email.

  85. willard says:

    Standard fake comment from Moshpit:

    > a citation that the IPCC promises an open transparent process.

    No, the citation was for

    The IPCC promises an open traceable transparent process.

    and

    The IAC recommended a transparent process with traceability.

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2012/ipcc-vs-mcintyre-round-2/#comment-89636

    First, let’s note that the concept of tracability, has not been recalled in #69, a concept that might be the result of an overinterpretation.

    Second, let’s note that the IAC has no such open process as presumed by Moshpit and the college of parsomatics at Lucia’s. Since the IAC is supposed to be the authority upon which their concept of openness is supposed to be warranted, our beloved Parsomatics’ overall line of attack might go well beyond the limits of disingeniousness.

    While we can deplore yet another fake comment from Moshpit, auditors might profit from it by reading that thread at Lucia’s and appreciate the debate between Ed Darrell and the Parsomatics. The result of millions of years of evolution. A miracle of nature.

  86. mt says:

    I don’t know that #86 is “begging the question” but it sure as hell is missing the point. We’re not talking about wealth transfer to the poor or to the future. We’re talking about not stealing from them.

  87. Joshua says:

    #88 – Willard –

    So here we go again:

    The more you take yourself as a topic, the more it will get attacked.

    I have not made myself the topic. I have responded to others who have made me the topic – as you did in #88.

    Should I just not respond to you when you, or Tom, or anyone else makes me the topic? Perhaps, but sometimes I choose not to, and when I do respond, I feel no responsibility to you or anyone who chooses to make me the topic. It is a bit of a dilemma because I do realize that some folks don’t want to read this nonsense, and I feel some responsibility to Keith in that sense… but anyone who chooses to can simply ignore any of the comments directed at me or my comments in response. It really isn’t much of a burden, and I think it’s hilarious that anyone would try to portray it as such.

    If you, or anyone else, don’t like discussing me…don’t.

    It’s really quite simple.If you do make me the topic, I am likely to respond.

  88. willard says:

    Joshua,

    Nobody forces you to respond to someone that attacks you.

    As soon as you respond, you take a defensive stance.

    It is your response that starts de conversation.

    Before that, all we have is a dog on the Internet whining about another dog on the Internet.

    Your actions alone speaks for your integrity: there’s no need to try to tell us how much integrity you have and how mean are the other dogs.

    Even when you win the hilarity contest, it’s still quite boring.

  89. Joshua says:

    #86 – John –

    “Why is it ethical to take from those who were successful because their
    past generations invested in education, government, and wealth and give to those who did not and whose poverty in education government and wealth reflects what they did not do in a gane that may be only certain members will survive.

    Your question makes some broad assumptions that I would challenge. While it is true that some have attained success for the reasons you outline, it is obviously true that it is not true for many who have attained success. As just one example, certainly we can trace the success of many people, directly, back to wealth inherited from their ancestors’ exploitation of the ancestors of those who, today, have not attained success.I don’t understand this comment:

    If you accept that we will all die in order to give these poor chance while claiming this is about the survival of the human race, you argument will be morally bankrupt.

    Are you saying that people accept that we all will die as a result of giving poor people a chance? There is a long tradition in this country of exactly the opposite belief – that giving poor people a chance is to everyone’s benefit.

  90. John F. Pittman says:

    Thanks PDA, It took some effort to get the right balance, and then mt comes in with another moral assertation. Not noticing that proposals to keep us from using fossil fuels are also a form of stealing. Too funny.

  91. John F. Pittman says:

    And now Joshua joins in: Turn it on its head. Joshua provide the documentation, and etc you request from us when we make an assertation to support your claim of exploitation. Please include your proof that they would have been better off without that exploitation. Assumptions not allowed. Joshua, this moral stance is a tribe like all the other tribes you bang on about. Many cultures and people do not agree with its premises.

  92. willard says:

    > Assumptions not allowed.

    Is that an assumption?

  93. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Where do I find your email address? I will send you my response rather than post it, and the next time you want to discuss me and tell me that you don’t want to discuss me, you will be able to do it via email. .

  94. John F. Pittman says:

    No, an assertion.

  95. Joshua says:

    #95 – John –

    Joshua provide the
    documentation, and etc you request from us when we make an assertation to support your claim of exploitation.

    Honestly? Before accepting the veracity of my assumption, you need me to provide documentation that the ancestors of some  people who are currently successful exploited others to attain their success? 

    Please include your proof that they would have been better off without that exploitation.

    Not sure why that would be necessary… First, such proof would be impossible, as it would require me to prove a counterfactual in a situation where I couldn’t set up an empirical context. I can’t prove what would or would not have happened to people if they hadn’t been forced into slave labor. I can’t prove what would have happened to people who died in ovens as others financed the war machinery that enabled them to be burned..

    Second, whether or not they would have been better off does not determine whether or not they were exploited. If I benefit from your slave labor, you are being exploited for my gain. Whether I feed you more than you might have eaten if you were free does not change the fact that I am exploiting you.But I’m just curious – do you think that someone who eats as a slave better than he did before he was enslaved is “better off?”

    Assumptions not allowed. Joshua, this moral stance is a tribe like all the other
    tribes you bang on about. Many cultures and people do not agree with its premises.

    Fair enough. True, it is a tribal stance. I should modify what I said. Yes, there are some people who think that helping the poor will cause us all to die. I would say that the tribe who believes that is extremely small, and again, there is a long-standing tradition in this country of belief that helping the poor benefits the general population. I would disagree with your statement (assumption?) that “many people and cultures do not agree with its premises – if by many, you are speaking in terms relative to the overall population. (I.e., a small % of the world’s population could be considered as “many people”).

  96. Nullius in Verba says:

    #84,

    “Of course it’s us. Us now against us later. Us in the rich countries against those of us stuck in the poor countries. Us against our grandchildren.”

    Capitalism is not a zero-sum game. It’s what will make poor countries rich.

    #89,

    So you think we were promised some kind of “untraceable transparency” by the IPCC? What does that mean?

  97. John F. Pittman says:

    I would say in recent times Bosnia, middle east and much of Africa, my many peoples is true. I understand your position about food, yet look at the alternative, without the slavery you starve. I know I asked for a counter factual response to highlight the facts such as what happens versus our opinions about “exploitation.” Morals are opinions, what happens are facts. From these facts we can examine the robustness of the moral claims, we can examine how sensitive it is to changing conditions.

  98. willard says:

    Joshua,

    Please look on my tumblog.

  99. willard says:

    > So you think we were promised some kind of “untraceable transparency” by the IPCC?

    Cute.

  100. Nullius in Verba says:

    Slavery is a case of wealth transfer rather than wealth creation too. It is the theft of labour. Society loses more overall than the individual slave-owners gain – compared to a society of free equals, all working for their own benefit. It was probably a lot more efficient than the tribalism/feudalism that went before, which is why the slave-taking societies dominated, but it’s a lot less efficient than what we have today.

    But most of the wealth people have today was not inherited. The total wealth of the world a hundred years ago is only a small fraction of what exists today, and there are a lot more people. And whatever the injustices of the past, there are more than enough injustices today to replace them, and relatively few of them at the hands of the rich.

  101. John F. Pittman says:

    NiV You stole my pig!!

  102. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua, you can keep or toss my opinion, it’s worth every dollar you paid for it.  However if in your life you hear similar opinions repeatedly, you might consider them more carefully.  Everyone has room for improvement.

  103. mt says:

    The history of the phrase “Nullius in Verba” goes back to the founding of the Royal Society and was a brave rationalist stance against religious dogma. It meant “we believe nothing if it is based on words alone” meaning we seek evidence, meaning we don’t take the gospel as, er, gospel.

    When our NiV addresses climate, he or she over interprets the phrase to mean “don’t take anybody’s word for anything”, i.e., I expect you to demonstrate all the conclusions of climate science without room for doubt, but I don’t propose to go out of my way to develop the relevant skills or experience. I say anything about climate, NiV says “Yeah? Prove it!” More or less politely, but accepting and trusting nothing.

    Yet NiV has no problem with the dogmatic assertion that “Capitalism is not a zero-sum game. It’s what will make poor countries rich.”

    I stipulate that this can happen and has happened in the past, but I see several reasons that this might not be a general principle. But the claim is made in the broadest possible terms without even a hint of supporting evidence.

    My question is why so many people make this obvious and sharp epistemological distinction between climate science and economics in this way. It is climate science that is rooted in universal, well-tested physics. Economic theory summarizes a few decades of human history and not very well. Yet skepticism is rarely directed at the most optimistic statements in economics, stated in the broadest of terms with no trace of caveats, by those who claim to be the dedicated guardians of reason and skepticism.

    NiV is one of the smarter ones, yet still we see this bizarre dichotomy.

    NiV, on what basis do you believe that capitalism will “make poor countries rich” regardless of circumstances. On what basis are you convinced, to be specific, that it will not make rich countries poor, once key resources are used up? And more to the point, on what basis do you get to make broad sweeping generalizations while nitpicking at everything someone with real expertise says about their field of knowledge.

    You made a claim. Can you prove it? It happens that I am one who is not much swayed by dogma.

  104. Nullius in Verba says:

    #103,
    Yes, I thought so! 🙂

    #105,

    You didn’t build that pig. It belongs to the government.

    You’re right about it being a moral tribe. The “the government has the right to take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in echange” is not really all that different from “the slave-owners have the right to take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in exchange.” It’s still legalised theft.

    Morality can be strange. But it’s like talking a foreign language – they’re mutually incomprehensible, and people do find it hard to understand that other people can truly be that different.

  105. Eli Rabett says:

    I howled with laughter the other day when a commenter on another site ““ a person I know is educated ““ claimed that we were all better off back in the days when we had pensions, before we had to invest our money in dirty, profit-making stocks and bonds to build our retirement. Something tells me it is “educated” people like this that are driving the Green economic agenda.  Of course, I hope, we all know how pension funds earn
    their returns.

    Depends whether you cashed out before or after stocks plunge. Investing is asymmetric, after something hits zero it can’t come back. BTW, for what its worth. You also fundamentally misunderstand why people save for a pension. Hint: it is not to make a fortune

  106. John F. Pittman says:

    Climate science is rooted in universal, well tested physics, but it goes downhill from there when persons espress doom and gloom low probability events as certainties. Economics is also rooted in universal, well defined attributes, but it goes downhill from there when persons ignore these in order to pursue low probability success. Or decide what the best form of stealing is, i.e. the form that they like.

  107. Joshua says:

     The “the government has the
    right to take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in echange” is not really all that different from “the slave-owners have the right to
    take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in exchange.” It’s still legalised theft.

    Really. So saying that people have the right to elect politicians who pass tax legislation is “not really all that different from” saying that slavery is honky-dory?

    And saying that offering someone the right to leave the country if they don’t want to pay taxes is the same things as chaining someone and shooting them if they try to leave?

    Hmmm.  I don’t know. Somehow I see a smidgeon of a difference. 

    I somehow imagine that my life circumstance, where I pay taxes in return for the social benefits thus derived, is just a tad better than someone who is forced into slave labor. Just a  whisker better.

    Methinks that you are taking this whole victimization thing just a scootch too far.

  108. Joshua says:

    TS – toss.

    I universally dismiss whiny people asking me to accept responsibility for their behavior. No matter how many times I hear it.

  109. Nullius in Verba says:

    #107,

    Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri, – quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.” Horace, Epistles, 20 BC.

    To copy a comment I made elsewhere where I tried to explain it…

    The point of the motto is not that everything must be re-examined, but that everything can be re-examined. There are no statements anywhere that cannot be challenged, and when challenged you cannot simply take someone’s word for it that it is true. You have to check.

    Because what ‘Nullius in Verba’ is really about is the insight that established/traditional knowledge can be wrong, and this is a safeguard against the slow corruption of our body of knowledge. It is the immune system of science constantly searching for infections and destroying them. Most of the time, you can accept standard results fairly safely precisely because they have been combed over by this mechanism so many times before. It is the reason and mechanism by which belief in science is rationally justified. But you must never forget that this is a pragmatic compromise with scientific principle, one that is technically illegitimate, and there is no result so standard that it would not have to be re-examined again from scratch if plausibly challenged.

    “I stipulate that this can happen and has happened in the past, but I see several reasons that this might not be a general principle.”

    It’s a long-standing and general principle of free market economic philosophy. Something like it can be derived from game theory. (Free trade is by definition a positive-sum game.) One of the better introductions to the topic is Bastiat’s Sophisms, although I’d also recommend DeSoto’s book ‘The Mystery of Capital’. Not only has it happened in the past, but it’s happening today. Have you ever seen the Hans Rosling internet video on the Joy of Stats?

    Capitalism doesn’t make poor countries rich, regardless of circumstances. The circumstances under which it works are rather delicate, and not fully understandable (see DeSoto). It’s rather like climate in that regard.

    I assure you, I only believe it having thought long and hard about it, and having done a fair bit of reading. I find it somewhat counter-intuitive too – I’m certainly not taking anyone’s word for it. I do enjoy arguing about it, but it’s a big topic and off-topic too.

    But I don’t really expect you to take mine for it either. Indeed, it’s one of the core disagreements between left and right. I say it not because I think you will be persuaded, but only to let you know it is a point of disagreement.

  110. Nullius in Verba says:

    #111,

    It’s the principle that’s the same. Whether you’re robbed of a dollar or robbed of a hundred dollars, it’s still robbery.

  111. PDA says:

    NiV, is it still OK to say that corporations have the right to take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in exchange?” Or is it legalised theft?

    I’ll take your word for it.

  112. Joshua says:

    John –

    I would say in recent times Bosnia, middle east and much of Africa, my many peoples is true.

    What does that mean? Are  you saying that because people engaged in armed conflict, they don’t believe that the general population is better off if aid is given to the poor? In the US, we have engaged in many armed conflicts. Yet we have, for decades codified helping the poor within out governing institutions.

    I have had a number of people from other countries question why, from their observations, Americans tend to think that poor people are poor because they deserve to be poor. Now I don’t think that most Americans really feel that way in balance, but the fact that so many people from other cultures have asked me that question makes me wonder whether actually, people in other countries are less likely than Americans to feel that wealth is something earned. I would love to see some evidence for  your assertion.

    I understand your position about food, yet look at the alternative, without the slavery you starve.

    Let me ask you a question. If slave traders had walked up to slaves living in conditions where food was uncertain, and asked them whether they would prefer to stay there or be chained, thrown into the bottom of ships, deprived of anything suggestive of human dignity, have the women of their culture repeatedly raped and their offspring taken away from them, do you think that they would have chosen the option of facing food insecurity or taken the option of slavery? Maybe if the slave-traders had just asked, people would have willingly submitted themselves to bondage. Think of the money that spent on chains that could have been saved, eh?

    I know I asked for a counter factual response to highlight the facts such as what happens versus our opinions about “exploitation.” Morals are opinions, what happens are facts. From these facts we can examine the robustness of the moral claims, we can examine how sensitive it is to changing conditions.

    I don’t quite get what you’re saying there. Are you saying that morality is a subjective determination? That seems like a rather trivial observation to me. What facts are you speaking of? What do they show?

  113. Joshua says:

    Sorry – that should have read:

    …If slave traders had walked up to slaves [free people] living in conditions where food was uncertain,….

  114. John F. Pittman says:

    Really. So saying that people have the right to elect politicians who pass slavery  is “not really all that different from” saying that tax legislation is honky-dory?  Yep, that was true in the USA. Slavery was legalized in the constitution by the same guys who did the tax legislation. PDA it is volutary. You can form your own company if you want. Though you may need to make a profit, unless you are “green” rent seeker that got the golden fleece.These moral considerations have been discussed ad nauseum.

  115. Tom C says:

    So, mt, free-market economics is based on “a couple of decades” of human experience, but what you talk of as “climate science” is a mature discipline dispensing prounouncements that cannot be challenged.  Sorry, but you are massively ill-informed.

  116. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    p>

    It’s the principle that’s the same. Whether you’re robbed of a dollar or robbed of a hundred dollars, it’s still robbery.

    I don’t agree. I think the principle is not remotely the same. It is not remotely like comparing theft of a dollar or theft of a hundred dollars.

    I disagree, completely, that taxation is theft. It is an agreement I accept  with free will.  I have the right to: leave the country if I don’t want to pay taxes and go to….uh…..well whatever country it is that might be better where people don’t pay taxes. I think they call it Shangri-La, don’t they?

    Is the fact that we elect our law makers completely irrelevant to you? How could you possibly think that is parallel to being forced into bondage. Don’t you see a fundamental, and categorical difference? Is the concept of freedom irrelevant to you?

  117. Joshua says:

    Yep, that was true in the USA. Slavery was legalized in the constitution by the same guys who did the tax legislation.

    How does that make slavery and taxation equivalent? Because both were codified in through an elected body? So does that mean that slavery and any laws of any type are the same in “principle” because they were codified by an elected body?

  118. Joshua says:

    What a fascinating discussion.

  119. John F. Pittman says:

    Joshua, first point slavery was a tradition in Africa long before the US engaged in it. Historically, it was in the paper world so I don’t know if you can google it, it has been proposed that slavery was founded by the aristocracy in reaction to the freeing of peasants who were “wedded to the soil.” The agricultral revolution freed the manpower that allowed the start of industrialization. It was a dicey business at first. The point is that many slaves were sold for the food and money by other people. People, governments, religions, businesses, green organizations use people. Some is voluntary, some is not. Joshua, what is the purpose of the wars in my examples? The ones I pointed to were for eradication of those who are different. What happened to their property, their oil, their right to compete for a living or even to live? Joshua, you are assigning credence to this statement “Americans tend to think that poor people are poor because they deserve to be poor.” I say that is tribal. My position is if you do not know why a person is poor, you do not know. If you are not psysic, you don’t know what I think, unless I tell you. The not trivial part of what happens allows us to make some conclusions. An example is the eradication of persons in Africa, because the oil mainly resided there and the government was composed of persons of a different religion, and wanted oil. You could use gold and the “Trail of Tears.” Takings have victims too. That is non trivial. Yet, slavery of old, oil wars of present are presented in moral terms. My point is the measurement of exploitation is as trivial and subjective as morality is trivial and subjective. The conclusion of exploitation is a moral judgement. It has facts that support it; it has adherents who are tribal. It is subjective and relative, yet mt expressed it as a certainty. If he can do so, I have no problem with a libertarian expressing taxes as theft. AT the point of assertion, it is simply tribal dogma.

  120. John F. Pittman says:

    120 Joshua, you cannot take your property such as land with you. You can not take externals such as your friends. Though you have expressed seeing that externalaties of pollution are being ignored, you ignore the cost of the externalities to those who have to move to be free in your comment at 120. Why the blinders?

  121. Menth says:

    When will people learn that in order for economies to flourish they must be run by noble, all knowing, resource conscious philosopher kings? I nominate Michael Tobis. 

  122. John F. Pittman says:

    121 Joshua, it is called the tyranny of the majority, or the powerful. That is what rights are about. Where is the point that governement can do what it wants; can it do anything it wants: these questions illustrate non trivial questions that need to be answered in the expression of power by anybody is my claim. It was said by a favorite author of mine “If your government acts like a criminal, can you tell the difference between criminals and the government? No.” mt alluded to a legitimate expression of power as a moral perogative of government; others disagree. I point out it is tribal in nature, but has real effects.

  123. Joshua says:

    John –

    The property I have was protected by police, by environmental laws, by the military. I have water provided by municipal services. People come to collect my trash. I pay taxes.

    I can sell my property and take the money with me. I can take anything I own in my house with me. I can take my family with me. My dog can come if she’d like. I often talk with friends about buying a villa in Italy and moving there together. Maybe we will some day. My friends can come with me if they choose to do so.

    you ignore the cost of the externalities to those who have to move to be free in your comment at 120.

    No one here has to move to be free. They are free here. They have to move (to where, Shangri-La?) if they don’t want to pay taxes. I am not the slightest bit concerned if they wish to do so. Good riddance.  Given the choice, a large % of the world’s population would willingly move here to have the opportunity to pay taxes. I would guess that most of those who wouldn’t probably pay more in taxes then I do. Relatively few would choose to move away, even fewer because they feel that paying taxes is theft. 

    I am not “ignoring” any negative externalities. There are downsides to paying taxes. I have less control over where the money than I’d like. Some of the money is spent in ways that I oppose. There are unintended consequences to the system. There are imperfections. But there is no perfect system. I am not limited by a binary mindset. That some tax money is spent in ways I don’t approve of does not mean that our system is tyrannical. I realize that there is no Shangri-La. There is no free lunch. I would prefer to have free lunch, but I  am content to pay for it.

  124. John F. Pittman says:

    I am not presenting that it is binary. I indicated that those who wish to express it as binary I consider to be equal (in their absurdities as it were.) I agree with what you state in 127. But that is not what I posted about. I used contrast to show that mt’s claims were tribal dogma. Yet, I would agree that if the government were to take all land, all money, all those things that we have and dole them out as it pleased, I would say we would not be free. Your statement in 127, where there are these extenalties and takings, that is where rights become important. And yes, the consideration of rights does bring in a moral perspective.  

  125. Joshua says:

     Joshua, it is called the tyranny of the majority, or the powerful.

    I don’t live in a tyranny. Maybe you live in a tyranny, but I don’t – despite that there are many things legislated in this country, and supported by a majority, that I don’t agree with. 

    Where is the point that governement can do what it wants; can it do anything it wants:

    “The government” is an elected body, comprising my fellow citizens.

    “If your government acts like a criminal, can you tell the difference between criminals and the government?

    I have no idea what that means. Could you elaborate?

  126. willard says:

    > It is called the tyranny of the majority

    Many things are called like that:

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

    All depends upon the assumptions, we’ve been told.

  127. Joshua says:

    (123) John –

    I don’t understand the relevance of most of what you wrote in that post. Sorry. I’m not smart enough to make the connections. You’ll have to dumb it down for me. For example, I don’t see how the existing practice of slavery prior to Americans enslaving people is relevant to the question of whether or not Americans enslaving people was exploitation.

    I will respond to this, however:

    The conclusion of exploitation is a moral judgement.

    I don’t agree. The conclusion about exploitation is a factual assessment. That isn’t to say that determining the morality about exploitation is not, within certain bounds, a subjective judgement. But slavery is exploitation. Making money from selling equipment to burn people in ovens is exploitation. If people choose to be sufficiently morally relativistic, then they can attach whatever moral judgement they would like w/r/t slavery or genocide, but that doesn’t change the simple facts of whether or not it is exploitation. If you profit by a action that directly and unequivocally  limits someone else’s freedom, then it is exploitation. There is no way around that. 

    Anyway, gotta go. As I said – this has been a fascinating discussion.

  128. John F. Pittman says:

    Certainly can. That you do not recognize the meaning of the tyranny of the majority, does not negate its existance. The bill of rights in the US Constitution was to ensure that this tyranny did not occur. If you live in the anglo world, this goes back to Magna Carta. Of interest is the revolutionary call of no taxation without representation. They were free to go back to England and assert their rights. It was a matter of POV. Not liking something passed by the majority does not address what I was taking about and your argument ignores what I claimed about rights. Could you elaborate what you do not understand about rights versus tyrany of the majority so I can answer you, because not including rights is arguing something I did not argue. Criminals do not respect rights. One of the interesting aspects of climate change to me is the battle that will occur along the lines of takings (stealing), rights to property, and the desire of surviving. There have been proposals before, during, and after Copenhagen that democracy and capitalism could not address climate change. That democratic and capitalistic choice would HAVE to be eliminated.Yet, at present, fracking in the USA has had a more positive effect on CO2 emissions due to market mechanisms than the top down market control of Kyoto, though the amount to credit is being argued, to which I say big deal, people argue everything it seems.

  129. John F. Pittman says:

    Joshua you pointed out about the persons who were enslaved as though they had a choice in 116. This is naive as in it does not have much explanatory power. The slave trade in that region has been posited as being millenial. Slavery was kept in the US to form a country. Slavery was pursued by my ancestors on the island of Barbados as a reaction to the freeing of the English by Cromwell and the roundheads. You are correct that certain actions can be measured as exploitation. My point is that one must be careful of the definition of such, and that there are things worse than slavery. After all, the basis of the CAGW claim is that not ridding ourselves of certain freedoms is certain to be worse and thus ridding ourselves is justified. This was mt’s basis. You state “If you profit by a action that directly and unequivocally limits someone else’s freedom, then it is exploitation. There is no way around that. ” This is what is being proposed for us by the CAGW SIF’s (single issue fanatics). The difference is what is money. Do I have a right to purchase what I want? What are its limits? Can you restrict an otherwise legitimate activity from me while allowing others that activity? What are those limits? In each case we do accept limits. Yet in the US and other countries we ALSO accept rights to limit what can be taken, or prohibited. Criminals only accept such limts on a provisional basis, as in what do I need to do to get around it, compromise it, or invalidate it.

  130. Eli Rabett says:

    The “the government has the right to take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in exchange” is not really all that different from “the slave-owners have the right to take the fruits of your labour, you get plenty in exchange.” It’s still legalised theft.

    Among the stupidest things ever written. If nothing else, slaves can’t leave. NIV OTOH is perfectly free to immigrate to wherever so it wishes that will have it.

    Free riders need to be kicked off the train with extreme prejudice

    The differentiation between democratic and tolitarian governments is that in the former all are expected to contribute and all are offered benefits. Not so much in the latter. Also let it be said that the contributions and benefits in a functioning democracy need to be equitably, not equally divided.

  131. Nullius in Verba says:

    #115,

    If you don’t want to trade the fruit of your labour with a corporation, you don’t have to. You have a choice.

    #116,

    “Americans tend to think that poor people are poor because they deserve to be poor.”

    Poor people are poor because they don’t create wealth. It’s not the same thing at all as ‘deserving’ it. That might be because they can’t, or choose not to, or made mistakes or were unlucky.

    But the answer is to enable them to create wealth for themselves, and any answer that doesn’t do that is no solution.

    “If slave traders had walked up to slaves living in conditions where food was uncertain, and asked them…”

    Selling yourself or your family into slavery to pay debts was not uncommon. You have no food and your family are dying so you go in to debt to pay it, then wehen the debts come due you still can’t pay it, so you pay off the debt with your bodies. People did.

    #120,

    “I disagree, completely, that taxation is theft. It is an agreement I accept  with free will.”

    You can accept being robbed with free will. But whether you accept it or not, you’ll still pay.

    “I have the right to: leave the country if I don’t want to pay taxes”

    You do in your country. Other countries not so much – East Germany, Russia, North Korea, Cuba,…”Is the fact that we elect our law makers completely irrelevant to you?”

    We have elections. But all the candidates on offer have the same high-spending policies, so in what way do I have a choice?

    “Is the concept of freedom irrelevant to you?”

    Heh. No.

    #134,

    Tell them that in Cuba…

  132. willard says:

    > If you don’t want to trade the fruit of your labour with a corporation, you don’t have to. You have a choice.

    The same applies to breathing.

  133. willard says:

    > Poor people are poor because they don’t create wealth.

    Define “create”.

  134. willard says:

    > But all the candidates on offer have the same high-spending policies, so in what way do I have a choice?

    See the quote in #136 for an opposite argument.

  135. willard says:

    > It was a matter of POV.

    And thus John F. Pittman completes the hat trick: assumptions, assertions, and POVs.

  136. willard says:

    > Criminals do not respect rights.

    They are not alone.

  137. John F. Pittman says:

    Thanks Willard for supporting my contentions pertaining to using our resources to fight CAGW and why we are doing it. It is the assumptions, assertions, POV and don’t forget advocacy that define the proposed solutions, and sometimes the existance of effects of our increasing emissions of CO2. And yes, there are those who consider they have a right to pollute, and harm is a taking, IMO. However, if CO2 is a benfefit, we are fortunate that we do not need to support it much. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of current “green” solutions to replace our CO2 emissions. It is also unfortunate that the proposals to fight CO2 do venture into the realm of takings.

  138. Joshua says:

    “Poor people are poor because they don’t create wealth. “

    This statement is tantamount to saying that starving people who have no access
    to food are hungry because they haven’t eaten. It seems  meaningless to me. But even more than being meaningless, it also seems to me to be not logical and misleading.

     Not all wealthy people “create wealth.”  There are tens of millions of working poor in this country alone. Their labor goes to create wealth, even if they don’t become wealthy. Thus, the act of “creating wealth” is not something that distinguishes not being poor from being poor – as your statement implies. It seems that you are creating a binary construction that does not represent reality.

    Your previous statement appears to be contradicted by this next statement.

    “That might be because they can’t, or choose not to, or made mistakes or were unlucky.”

    So you are saying it isn’t a matter of not creating wealth that makes them poor – it is their bad luck or their lack of effort that leads to them being poor.  So the ability to create wealth, you say, is a function of an underlying mechanism that you think just try to dismiss. Here you say it isn’t their lack of creating wealth that makes them poor.   It seems to me that this kind of problem with logic surfaces because you are selectively referencing different causal mechanisms as you try different ways to confirm your per-conceived conclusion. 

    And obviously, you are discounting any variety of factors – access to education, for example. As a general rule, with more education people become less poor. Access to other resources would be another missing factor in your simplistic cause-and-effect. Being handicapped would be another: It doesn’t necessarily prevent someone from “creating wealth,” but it is an obstacle that affects people differentially. It seems, again, you are creating a binary construct that does not, in any way, represent reality.

    “Selling yourself or your family into slavery to pay debts was not uncommon.”

    That seems illogical. You don’t “sell yourself into slavery.” If you sell yourself, then you are receiving compensation. If you are a slave, you receive no compensation for your labor. If you sell someone else into slavery, then you are exploiting them.

    “You can accept being robbed with free will.”

    This logic is tantamount to saying that any payment for any services is robbery.  I pay taxes for the benefits I receive. I have the freedom to decline this exchange. The benefits I receive for my taxes are not precisely the product I would want for my money. But when I purchase a computer or a car, those are not precisely the products I want.  So then by your logic, every time I buy something I am being “robbed with free will.”

    “You do in your country. Other countries not so much ““ East Germany, Russia, North Korea, Cuba,”

    You are the one making a categorical statement, not I. You say that taxation is robbery as a categorical statement. Well, I pay taxes, and I can leave the country anytime I want. Because someone else living somewhere else pays taxes and can’t leave is not logically connected. You are comparing a non-like situation to draw a conclusion about my situation. You have added a new variable of tyranny. Yes, someone who is living in a tyranny and is paying taxes is being robbed along with being deprived of freedom. Again – a binary thinking process cripples the logic of your conclusion.

    We have elections. But all the candidates on offer have the same high-spending policies, so in what way do I have a choice?

    You have the choice to not vote. You have the choice to leave the country. You have the choice to run for office. You have the choice to lobby for different candidates to run. These are all relevant choices. Life is not perfect, unless you life in Shangri-La. It is easy to sit back and say that life isn’t perfect. It is illogical to sit back and say that because it isn’t perfect, you are being robbed. No one promised you a rose garden. You are not entitled to a perfect life.

  139. willard says:

    > Thanks Willard for supporting my contentions pertaining to using our resources to fight CAGW and why we are doing it.

    Citation needed.

    Our in-house geologist is again testing the limits of justified disingeniousness.

  140. grypo says:

    Poor don’t create wealth? Not for themselves anyway. It’s not a bad point tho. Every good capitalist knows the best way to be wealthy is to get it from someone/somewhere else.

  141. Marlowe Johnson says:

    After reading these comments I’m tempted to change my screen name to Tabula Rasa in honour of John Rawls. But then I remember  Richard Tol. Wouldn’t want to upset him or the real Tabula Rasa…. 

  142. Joshua says:

    (144) gyrpo

    Every good capitalist knows the best way to be wealthy is to get it from someone/somewhere else.

    The best financial move I ever made was to borrow money to invest in a property, fix it up (and pay someone else to fix it up), and rent the property for a return greater than the interest on the loan. At this point, I sit back and earn income for, for the most part, sitting on my ass. How was I able to borrow the money? Because I had collateral. How did I obtain the collateral? In part, I inherited it. In another part, I worked to earn the collateral. How was I able to do that? In part, because of other aspects of an inherited legacy.

    I was born into a middle-class family that valued education and helped me to pay for education. As it happened, my first earning experiences I trained as a carpenter. I lived for a period of time earning very little while I developed skills so that I could later earn at a higher rate.

    The majority of people I trained with came from poor backgrounds. They were at a disadvantage in some ways because they were not as well-prepared for the math or business or inter-personal aspects of earning good money from doing carpentry. They faced more obstacles in getting good paying jobs after training because they were at a disadvantage as a result of them not being white. It was harder for them to get into a union. It was hard for them to get jobs in companies that were predominantly white. And if they wanted to be in business for themselves, it was more difficult for them to get high-paying jobs working for wealthy clients. (I will also point out that they had some advantages, because they were better prepared for some of the aspects of the work – they had more experience than I did previously, in working with their hands. They were also better prepared for the inter-personal aspects of the job when we worked in poor neighborhoods – which was where we were being trained. Of course, in that respect, I was at a competitive advantage since the inter-personal skills I had were relevant to a community where I could make more money faster).

    Some of them worked less hard than I did. Some worked harder. Their ability to “create wealth” was, to some degree a function of how hard the worked – but it was certainly not a directly proportional relationship.

    And later in life, when I tired of earning money from carpentry, I was able to successfully leverage other aspects of my cultural heritage and social privilege to attain higher levels of education, which enabled me to earn money at a higher rate of return for the work I invest.

    Anyway, what is funny is that for a long time I thought that the way for me to “create wealth” was to work hard and earn wages. I thought that if I wanted do buy a property to get rental income, I should work hard and accumulate the money. Instead, I decided I would rather spend my money in other ways. Mostly, by traveling.

    But then I bought a house because I need to have a place for my brother, who is disabled, to live. On that property was a falling down carriage house. I thought it wouldn’t be worth it for me to absorb the opportunity cost of spending the money I had earned from working (and inherited) to pay to fix up the carriage house.

    And then for some reason I got the insight of a capitalist. I realized that interest rates were quite low. I could use my accumulated wealth – some portion of it directly inherited and some portion of it inherited more or less simply by virtue of cultural legacy – and borrow money. That’s right! I could use someone else’s  money and turn it into income for myself. I could use the money that perhaps thousands of people had given to the bank – so the bank could make money by holding on to that money, – and turn it into an income for myself. 

    And so, I became a good little capitalist. I am earning money by, essentially, sitting on my ass and charging people who don’t have the leveraging capacity that I had (or who don’t realize they have the leveraging capacity, or who don’t want to focus their lives in that direction)  to live in my carriage house. Usually they are younger people (so far, over 14 years, three couples, two of which had young children) so they haven’t accumulated collateral to enable them to borrow as I have. I give them a very fair value for their money. The carriage house is beautiful and I keep the rent low. I am an excellent land lord. Demand for the property is high and they know that – they are very happy with the arrangement.

    So not only are they happy with the arrangement, and not only am I happy with the arrangement, but to the good fortune of Keith’s readers (well, some anyway.  Well… maybe to one of Keith’s readers out there somewhere, hopefully?) I have the time to sit here and write this little story instead of needing to go out and work all the time. Isn’t capitalism grand?

  143. John F. Pittman says:

    It is assumed that increased temperatures will first have a positive effect then a negative effect based on the findings of AR4. It is asserted we need to mitigate. We could just adapt. There is a point of veiw that the develped nations should decrease emissions and help developing nations develop more sustainable energy. There are different POV’s. All of these can be found in AR4and the Summary for Policymakers.The cost of “green” is also in AR4, but the basis is variable, it is about $10/decatherm. The increased cost of sustainable sources is noted in the economic sections.

  144. Joshua says:

    (147) AA –

    Nice article. I also note that polls show that a majority of Americans feel that their taxes are basically fair. So much for the argument that large %’s of Americans thinking that the rich should be taxed more is simply out of “envy” and a desire to pay less in taxes. Why do “conservatives” have such a low opinion of Americans – the majority of whom think that the rich should pay more in taxes? What about “conservatives” has them assume that others are motivated by “envy?”

  145. Joshua says:

    (145) Marlowe

    ???? Could you explain your post?

  146. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Thanks for the link Andrew. Excellent article that nicely illustrates Rawls ideas.

    So, we took the American society and we asked people to imagine it divided into five buckets, the wealthiest 20%, the next 20%, the next, the next and the poorest 20%.

    First of all, we asked people: how much wealth do you think is concentrated in each of those buckets?It turns out people get it very wrong.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    Even Americans understand that inequality is not a good idea and principle”

    The reality is that the bottom two buckets together, the bottom 40% of Americans, own 0.3% of the wealth; 0.3%, almost nothing, whereas the top 20% own about 84% of the wealth.

    I think if those stats were on every bumper sticker in America we’d be having a very different conversation in this election cycle. 

  147. Marlowe Johnson says:

    @150

    A while back at Eli’s place Tol got angry with me because I use a pseudonym that isn’t immediately obvious as such. He complained that this would result in the ‘real’ Marlowe Johnsons of the world to suffer spectacular harm to their reputations.

  148. Joshua says:

    (152) Marlowe –

    And the quip about changing your name? Is it to mock people who, you think, just accept whatever they hear as gospel? What is the connection between tabula rasa and Rawls? Why would changing your name to that be in his honor?

  149. andrew adams says:

    Josh, Marlowe Yes, I can’t claim to have an in depth knowledge of Rawls’s work but I’ve always found the “veil of ignorance” argument quite compelling and that piece provides an interesting perspective.

  150. andrew adams says:

    John’s point about the Tyranny of the Majority is a fair one – that’s why many democratic countries have a constitution, bill of rights etc., because it’s recognised that there should be limits to the power of the state regardless of whether such powers might have a democratic mandate. So I think it follows that in a democracy it can be legitimate for people to argue that they are being subject to unreasonable treatment by a government pursuing policies on which it was elected, and for this reason I don’t like the “if you don’t like it you can go and live elsewhere” argument, as well as the fact that for most of us that simply isn’t a practical option. 

    Which is not to say the “all taxation is theft” argument has any validity. Surely there are functions which we would all agree it is necessary for governments to carry out – defence of the realm and maintaining law and order for a start, and these have to be paid for, as do the expenses involved in the operation of government itself. How are the necessary funds to be raised if not by taxation? And is it not legitimate that we might decide that there are other tasks/functions which we should undertake, and pay for, collectively? If so then how far should we go – where do we draw the line from how much the government should be doing and collecting in taxation? I would strongly argue that in general these kind of questions are exactly the kind which should be answered through the democratic process. 

    Yes, it is frustrating when one finds that one’s views are not represented by any party which has a chance of being elected, so I have some sympathy with NiV in that respect. As Joshua points out, we can to try and build support for our views, promote candidates who share our outlook, or otherwise promote our cause using the democratic mechanisms available. We can also try to put in place better democratic mechanisms so minority views are not so easily marginalised. But there is no democratic system which will allow everyone’s views to prevail.

  151. Marlowe Johnson says:

    I’ve always thought that Rawl’s ‘veil of ignorance’ was a critique of other ethical systems that don’t take into account the fact that people aren’t born into a ‘blank slate’ world. It’s admittedly a different connotation than is normally used, but I think it’s appropriate :).

  152. Joshua says:

    AA –

    As for tyranny of the majority. John mistook my response as indicating that I didn’t understand the concept. Not true.

    As an abstracted concept it is an important consideration. But my point is that a claim that we are victims of a tyranny imposed by a majority needs to be contextualized. I do not live in a tyranny imposed by a majority. No one in this country does, even if they are in a minority w/r/t important political realities. As imperfect as our political process is, we do not live in a tyranny. Is that a subjective statement? Perhaps. But I would argue (subjectively) that you’d have to stretch so far to create an argument that we live in a tyranny that you stop making sense. In other words, the mitigating aspects that you mention vis a vis tyranny are real and unarguable (although, of course, not perfect).

     So I think it follows that in a democracy it can be legitimate for people to argue that they are being subject to unreasonable treatment by a government pursuing policies on which it was elected and for this reason I don’t like the “if you don’t like it you can go and live elsewhere” argument, as well as the fact that for most of us
    that simply isn’t a practical option.
    .

    I get your point, but there is, I would say, a sizable difference between “unreasonable treatment” and tyranny. And that is why the argument that you can leave does, IMO, apply. It is not a tyranny, at least largely in part, because you can leave. And whether or not it is a practical option does not negate the simple fact that you can leave. You can leave, but it would require sacrifice. The sacrifice is why some people feel it isn’t “practical.” But that is a choice that they make. Many people don’t want to make the sacrifice, but only a tiny majority of people couldn’t actually do it. Millions of people with very few resources enter this country because they feel it is worth the sacrifice. Their journey to get here, for many, is hardly what we could call “practical.”

    I am not saying “love it or leave it.” I am saying that the reality of being able to leave is relevant to the determination of what is, or isn’t, tyrannical. You have a choice to not love it and stay anyway.

    I would also say that it is important to balance any consideration of a “tyranny of the majority” with the “tyranny of the minority.” Perhaps, in a real and not theoretical sense, that is more characteristic of what we have in this country than a tyranny of the majority.

  153. harrywr2 says:

    #151

    Even Americans understand that inequality is not a good idea and principle

    Sorry Marlowe, without a system where the most productive are rewarded then you end up with a race to the bottom. Why would I break my butt making 10 widgets and hour if I’m only going to get as much as the guy making 2 widgets per hour.So I don’t understand how a system where everyone was rewarded equally regardless of output could ever work in practice. Unfortunately, this means we need to have some level of inequality.

  154. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Did you read the article Harry?

  155. jeffn says:

    Marlowe, that would be the article from the BBC? The BBC that pays its presenters millions of pounds per year?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2013463/BBC-paid-22m-19-stars-salaries-500-000-year.html

    The trouble with the “equality” argument is that even those making naturally assume that they are more equal than others. Which is probably why nations with “people’s republic” in their names are invariably poor and surrounded with walls intended to keep the populace from escaping rather than to prevent others from sneaking in.

  156. Steve Mennie says:

    I see your point Harry…and I’ll agree that it seems unfair to pay you at the same rate as the person making eight less widgets per hour. But does this automatically mean that you should receive 3 or 4 hundred times as much…or potentially an infinite ammount. Why such an abhorance of limits? In this argument about being rewarded in accordance with what one does…when is enough enough? And would you consider slowing down a touch and only producing say, five widgets an hour?

  157. willard says:

    > The trouble with the “equality” argument is that even those making [more? less?] naturally assume that they are more equal than others.

    Auditors might recognize the pea and thimble game where equality is conflated with absolute equality, and not fairness.

    Speaking of fairness, it seems we can recognize it quite early:

    We think children are born with a skeleton of general expectations about fairness, and these principles and concepts get shaped in different ways depending on the culture and the environment they’re brought up in.

    Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/20/even-babies-can-recognize-whats-fair/#ixzz246Q0xeGB

    http://healthland.time.com/2012/02/20/even-babies-can-recognize-whats-fair/

    But then, we’ve yet to see 20 millions’ worth of engineer reports to audit that claim.

    Hey, I’m citing Heartland!

  158. Menth says:

    Shorter Ariely: “Deep down inside, people are secret communists because I asked them what they thought about a John Rawls quote”Ladies and Gentlemen: Science at work.

  159. PDA says:

    Hey, I’m citing Heartland!

    Audit: “Healthland.”
    Where’s that pea?

  160. willard says:

    Sharp eyes, PDA!

  161. Tom Scharf says:

    Many on the left are traumatized by self guilt.  They see inequality in the world and assume it is they who are responsible in what they view as a simplistic zero sum game.  Their wealth must have been taken from someone else, usually starving people in China Africa or such.  They wish to pay penance.  Fine, do-gooders doing good is a good thing.

    There are many avenues for this penance such as churches, charities, volunteering, non-profits who all do good and worthy work.

    It goes off the rails when this self guilt morph’s into the desire to force others to suffer appropriately with them.  Exporting their guilt to others is part of their penance.  As we all know, there is nothing more aggravating to a staunch liberal than an unrepentant capitalist.

    China is not starving anymore. Why?  Is it because they are stealing their wealth from Africa now?  Should the Chinese feel guilty about their new wealth?

    An interesting questions to ask yourself to help root out whether you are more interested in making others suffer penance with you, or more interested in solving a problem is:

    A highly skilled professional has two options:

    1. He can work 40 hours in a week and then go work 20 hours at soup kitchen feeding the homeless.

    2. He can work 60 hours in a week, enriching himself, and generating enough additional tax revenue to hire 2 people to work at the same soup kitchen.

    Which is more morally just?  Are you conflicted? Why?  Be honest with yourself.

  162. Marlowe Johnson says:

    the intellectual bankruptcy of conservative commenters on this thread wrt to Rawls’ theory of a just society are revealing if not unexpected. Maybe Sashka will drop by and defend the honour of the ayn rand worshippers that seem to have infested CaS.

  163. John F. Pittman says:

    No Joshua I indicated that you were not factoring in a tyranny of the majority. It is not my claim that we live in a tyranny. You have not commented about rights wrt what we are being asked by some to sacrifice. That is why my comment(s) are as they are.MJ what is the intellectual bankruptcy that you allude to? I see arguments some good some not so good.

  164. grypo says:

    But what of Agrarian Justice? Is there such a thing? Is all land, at one point unused and unclaimed, that of collective prosperity?

    Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.

    One wonders about Thomas Paine’s trauma and guilt.

  165. Joshua says:

    …and often appear to be deliberate diversions.

    Ah yes, the ol’ “appear to be.” Yes – I must divert you and others from your valuable work of exchanging insults in blog comments. You’ve found me out, Tom.

    But truth told, I assume that you and others have a long enough attention span to be able to scroll past any of my comments (and  those of people interacting with me) without being distracted from your interest of focus. I know my comments are long, but I’m sure it would only take a second or two to scroll past them. Try that little down arrow on the right margin of your browser.Now back to what changed you mind. What you said today is in direct contrast to what you said earlier. Did you make a mistake then? Did you make a mistake
    today? Or has something changed your mind?

  166. Joshua says:

    John –

    No Joshua I indicated that you were not factoring in a tyranny of the majority. 

    Fair enough. Apologies. But you still have it wrong. I am factoring that in, and saying that it is immaterial because we don’t live in a tyranny. Yes, minorities may not have their rights as well represented as majorities, but that does not make the situation tyrannical. In my view, it only looks that way if you bring a binary mindset to the table

    It is not my claim that we live in a tyranny…

    The logic here evades me. You brought up the subject of a tyranny of the majority in a discussion about poverty, the fairness of taxation, etc.

    You have not commented about rights wrt what we are being asked by some to sacrifice.

    Also true. And deliberate. I avoided going down that road with you because it is so complicated. In short, my view is that  your application of “tyranny” is overstated. I feel that sacrifice needs to be (and should be) made. I feel that those who have more to give up should sacrifice more. That is a moral judgement but my underlying rationale for the moral judgement I make is, I assume, not that different from yours: The end result should bring the maximum best result to the most people. I’m going to guess that we have a basic disagreement about the mechanics of how that works. A discussion of those mechanics crosses over the discussion we’re having now. but I don’t think that they are necessarily directly linked, and I don’t accept what seems to me to be your attempt to use what we were discussing as an analogy.

    While that other discussion would be worthwhile at some point, I suppose, I’m reluctant to go there in the blogosphere because usually it devolves when someone attributes nefarious motivations. I will say, however, that thus far I have not found you to impose a morality judgment upon me – within reason. I fear that introducing the notion of “tyranny” will bring it to that level unnecessarily. Maybe we would get there somewhere down the road. It doesn’t seem to me like a good starting point. I’m not inclined to begin a discussion with trying to explain why mitigation policies are not the equivalent of a tyranny. From where I sit, such a notion can only involve arguing about inaccurate, ideological, binary, stereotypes. Seems to me it would be better to start with a discussion of how we view the costs and benefits of different types of mitigation efforts, the need for such efforts, etc.

  167. Nullius in Verba says:

    #136,

    If you don’t want to trade with a particular corporation, you can always trade with a different corporation, or set up your own. You can sell your produce direct to the public, or you can produce it for yourself. There’s no compulsion.

    #137,

    “Define “create”.”

    Wealth is stuff people want that is difficult to obtain: either material things, or services. You can create wealth by making things, or performing services for yourself. You can also do it by organising others, taking risks, knowing more than other people, and even by making the making of wealth itself easier (e.g. by offering education). You can create more wealth by doing it for somebody else who wants it more than you do, in exchange for which they give you something you want more than them. Each need or desire satisfied represents more wealth. It is at the same time the goal of the process, and the means of motivating cooperation to achieve it.

    When I say the poor are poor because they don’t create wealth, what I mean is that if they were able to provide something people wanted and didn’t have enough of, they would be able to trade it for more. Either they have no skills or means to produce such things, or what they can provide nobody wants, or what they can provide is already available in abundance. Or perhaps they simply don’t want to.

  168. John F. Pittman says:

    #171 There is nothing in particular that I disagree with you on Joshua. However, I think the point that we differ on is where the line of reasonableness is crossed. In particular, you disagreed with me in that you stated:”” 
    I will respond to this, however:

    The conclusion of exploitation is a moral judgement.

    I don’t agree. The conclusion about exploitation is a factual assessment. That isn’t to say that determining the morality about exploitation is not, within certain bounds, a subjective judgement.””  A simple example was the carraige house in 146 that you made. I would argue that this is an example of why exploitation is a point of veiw. If one is not paid for the investment and risk, they would tend not to do it. I don’t mind so much that persons use perjorative descriptions, as much as they do not consider that such are often simplistic and offered solutions may  not work. There seems to be some misunderstanding as to market efficiency and what money is. Another point is that you did what you did with your property, and did not force them to rent from you. You should reap rewards for it. It is not immoral and I would say it is not exploitation. I would say it would be the State exploiting you if they made you take your private property, invest as they saw fit, and forced you to accept what payment they chose. There are many things discussed as though it cannot be anything other than exploitation, and I disagree with this. As stated I see much of this as tribal posturing and demonization. Another post pointed to China, and I agree just what would one define as exploitation these since much of the industry is state owned and operated. It does not seem to stop exploitation of people or the environment as you appear to have defined it. So, I would not conclude becasue a state does legal or not, that it is or is not exploitation. But I would argue that the moral aspect will be the defining criteria.

  169. Nullius in Verba says:

    #142,

    “This statement is tantamount to saying that starving people who have no access to food are hungry because they haven’t eaten.”

    Yes. In a sense it is very simple/obvious, and in a way it isn’t. The two things about it that most confuse people are assuming that money is the same thing as wealth, and assuming that if one person in an exchange gets it, the other person gives it up (the zero-sum fallacy). The latter is related to the idea that everything has a single well-defined value, that cannot vary with context, and is equivalent to the effort put in to making it.

    So you see, when I say poor people don’t produce wealth, I’m *not* saying that they don’t have any money. (Although they don’t, and all of this is a rhetorical simplification anyway.) Nor is it a matter of not being granted access to the money other people hold. It’s not so much about their relationship with the rest of the world, although that does come in to it, nor their bank balance, so much as the capabilities they have themselves. Starving people starve because they cannot produce food, and cannot offer anything of comparable value to those who can. It’s their ability to produce that matters, not their relationship with the world.

    They are people who wish to be given things, but not to have to give to others in return.

    That’s not necessarily blameworthy. Sometimes people don’t have the capability to give to others. Sometimes they have nothing to offer in return but their gratitude and respect. But it’s the core of the problem, and has to be recognised as such if we are to solve it.

  170. Nullius in Verba says:

    #142 (cont.),

    “There are tens of millions of working poor in this country alone. Their labor goes to create wealth, even if they don’t become wealthy.”

    You mean, they don’t individually have much to offer, and are unable to organise themselves, but if they pay a small portion to an organiser, collectively and with the efficiencies of scale they can all make a living. The organiser is the one with the rare skill, one desperately needed by many millions of people, and he offers this service in return for what it’s worth. They benefit. He benefits. Both sides profit from the transaction, and thus wealth is created.

    If they could do what the organiser does, then they could do it themselves instead and undercut the boss. They’d take slightly less profit themselves, offer slightly more to the workforce, and take their business away. There’s nothing stopping you. Or if they could do it without being organised into an integrated team of specialists, then they could do that and do away with bosses altogether. They don’t individually get a lot, but then they don’t individually have much to give. If they’re working in a burger bar or a sweat shop, it’s because the alternatives are all worse.

    Sometimes the reason for it is bad luck as you say, and there are depths below which people should not be pushed. I don’t say there’s no room in the system for a bit of humanity. But doing so has a cost, which we must never forget. Less is produced as a result, and so there is less to go round. In helping some, we harm many others.

    “You don’t “sell yourself into slavery.” If you sell yourself, then you are receiving compensation. If you are a slave, you receive no compensation for your labor.”

    You get the cancellation of your debts. Which given what they would do to you if you still owed them the money, is a bargain.

    “I pay taxes for the benefits I receive. I have the freedom to decline this exchange.”

    You pay a lot more in tax than you receive in benefit. And your nationality is not theirs to sell.

  171. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Sometimes the reason for it is bad luck as you say, and there are depths below which people should not be pushed. I don’t say there’s no room in the system for a bit of humanity. But doing so has a cost, which we must never forget. Less is produced as a result, and so there is less to go round. In helping some, we harm many others.

    Evidence?

    You pay a lot more in tax than you receive in benefit. 

    Evidence? 

  172. Nullius in Verba says:

    #142 (cont.),

    “No one promised you a rose garden.”

    Many people promise rose gardens – just support this policy, vote for this candidate, sign this form… most just don’t deliver. Of all such systems, capitalism has come the nearest to delivering one. It’s not perfect, but we’ve gone from agricultural labourers dying at 35 in cold dark mud huts to still being able to play Angry Birds on our iPhones at the age of 80. It’s pretty close to a rose garden, in my book.

    But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. There are people around now who don’t understand this goose that lays such shiny golden eggs, who don’t believe in it, and want to dismantle it, re-arrange it in the shape of their own ideas. They want to get without giving back, and if they can’t afford that they’ll borrow and borrow and promise that someone else will pay it back later. They want to take the wealth from the parts that are working and give it to the parts that are not. And then when it all goes wrong, anyone who has anything saved up will be expected to contribute that to dig them out of the mess. Which will, of course, only allow them to keep on doing it.

    The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. Always has been.

    So while things are tolerable at the moment, I’d like to keep it that way. Which is why I sometimes say deliberately provocative things to make the point.

  173. Nullius in Verba says:

    #142 (cont.),

    “No one promised you a rose garden.”

    Many people promise rose gardens – just support this policy, vote for this candidate, sign this form… most just don’t deliver. Of all such systems, capitalism has come the nearest to delivering one. It’s not perfect, but we’ve gone from agricultural labourers dying at 35 in cold dark huts to still being able to play Angry Birds on our iPhones at the age of 80. It’s pretty close to a rose garden, in my book.

    But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. There are people around now who don’t understand this goose that lays such golden eggs, who don’t believe in it, and want to dismantle it, re-arrange it in the shape of their own ideas. They want to get without giving back, and if they can’t afford that they’ll borrow and borrow and make promises that someone else will pay it back later. They want to take the wealth from the parts that are working and give it to the parts that are not. And then when it all goes wrong, anyone who has anything saved up will be expected to contribute that to dig them out of the mess. Which will, of course, only allow them to keep on doing it.

    The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

    So while things are tolerable at the moment, I’d like to keep it that way. Which is why I sometimes say deliberately provocative things to make the point.

    #151,

    “The reality is that the bottom two buckets together, the bottom 40% of Americans, own 0.3% of the wealth; 0.3%, almost nothing, whereas the top 20% own about 84% of the wealth.”

    You also need to tell people how much each of those buckets contributes to society, to running the government, to paying their welfare, and to creating wealth.

    #176,

    To the first, because the wealth you give is not exchanged for the creation of more wealth, but simply given with noting returned.

    To the second, because you can’t get out more than you put in. If some people are getting without giving, others must give without getting to balance it out. Since a big slice of taxes go to welfare, what goes to you as a taxpayer must be less.

  174. willard says:

    #172

    There are examples of wealth without creation even according to the description offered in #172. The easiest one is Tomaso the cat. Accordingly, the idea that you’re poor because you don’t create wealth does not seem to take into account slavery and sweat shops, unless one wants to argue with counterfactuals, e.g. they would be even poorer were they not creating any wealth, but the idea that we’re into an economical fantasy might then transpire too much.

    The same kind of shift to metaphysical possibility can be observed with the response that if you don’t want to trade with a corporation, you just have to trade with another one. This might explain a counterfactual galore like:

    If they were able to provide something people wanted and didn’t have enough of, they would be able to trade it for more. Either they have no skills or means to produce such things, or what they can provide nobody wants, or what they can provide is already available in abundance. Or perhaps they simply don’t want to.

    Indeed, if they were not poor, they’d be rich. And if you don’t want to breath with your lungs, nothing prevents you from selling them to buy artificial ones.

  175. Steve Mennie says:

    NinV….Maybe its just me but your latter posts about the poor etc reek with condescension and unsupported statements that merely express what I would describe as the very narrow and unforgiving view of an Ayn Rand disciple. I’m heartened to hear you would allow some ‘room in the system for a bit of humanity…’ although I’m not sure what that would look like.

  176. Steve Mennie says:

    NinV..”They want to take the wealth from the parts that are working and give it to the parts that are not. And then when it all goes wrong, anyone who has anything saved up will be expected to contribute that to dig them out of the mess. Which will, of course, only allow them to keep on doing it.” Perfect description of what just took place on Wall Street I would say…

  177. andrew adams says:

    Many on the left are traumatized by self guilt. They see inequality in the world and assume it is they who are responsible in what they view as a simplistic zero sum game.  Their wealth must have been taken from someone else, usually starving people in China Africa or such. They wish to pay penance.  

    Well if it were true I’m sure I would be much more wealthy than I actually am. So no, I don’t feel any personal guilt, or indeed any personal need to pay penance. Although if I did feel that need I guess I could just earn as much money as I could (say by working an extra twenty hours a week) in order to improve my personal lifestyle (nothing wrong with that) but present it as an act of charity because hey, I pay taxes and those taxes could hypothetically pay someone to work in a soup kitchen. Of course they won’t because soup kitchens are generally run by volunteers, but if I don’t do it I’m sure they’ll find someone else.  

    Or maybe I could still put in a few hours at the soup kitchen. Or if I don’t have time (and many people don’t, fair enough) I could donate money to it or support some other charitable cause in some way, or campaign for some kind of political action to help those starving people  – there aren’t just two options.

    But I would probably do something, not out of personal guilt but because trying to help those less fortunate than onesself is a pretty basic moral principle. It’s a question of equity and responsibility, it’s nothing to do with guilt.  

  178. Nullius in Verba says:

    #180,

    Is that condescension I smell? 🙂

    #181,

    I’m not sure which event on Wall Street you’re referring to.

  179. Steve Mennie says:

    @ 183….”I’m not sure which event on Wall Street you’re referring to…” Surely you jest.

  180. andrew adams says:

    You also need to tell people how much each of those buckets contributes to society, to running the government, to paying their welfare, and to creating wealth.Sure, let’s work out how much wealth each bucket has, take off how much they contribute to the things you mention, work out how much they have left, and ask the question again.  

  181. Nullius in Verba says:

    #182,

    “But I would probably do something”

    Employ them to do something you need doing. Then you’ve helped them, and you’ve got something you wanted doing done.

  182. Steve Mennie says:

    Here’s a hint…a whole whack ‘o dough was ponied up to bailout banks and investment houses..sort of like “when it all goes wrong  anybody with who has anything saved up will be expected to contribute that to dig them out of the mess…”

  183. andrew adams says:

    Joshua,

    Sure, I certainly
    wouldn’t describe the US as a “tyranny”, nor the UK for that matter. But
    countries which are not tyrannies can nevertheless in particular instances act
    in a tyrannical way, if we can use the term “tyrannical” to mean in a manner
    that denies the fundamental rights of its citizens. We have certainly had cases
    where either our courts or the European Court of Human Rights have ruled against
    our government and it has had to change its policies as a result. Similarly your
    supreme court can overturn laws or executive actions which are unconstitutional.
    Luckily we have those protections, because we recognise the threat of the
    tyranny of the majority in democratic societies.

    That probably doesn’t contradict anything you said, I’m just clarifying my point.

  184. andrew adams says:

    #186,

     Well I was kind of thinking of something above and beyond what was in my own immediate economic interest.

    If only I was a libertarian, whereby the answer to the world’s problems would be, by happy coincidence, for me to do whatever is in my own economic self-interest. We could do away with all these difficult questions.

  185. Nullius in Verba says:

    #187,

    Oh, that thing. Classic case, actually.

    Poor people can’t get loans from banks, on the grounds that they don’t have jobs or assets to pay you back. Politicians say that’s totally unfair, and insist the banks give them loans. Banks say no way, too much risk. Politicians say, no there isn’t. Banks say, OK, you underwrite the loans, we’ll hand them out. The government did, and therefore, so did the banks. The injection of new cash into the housing market feeds a price bubble. Rising house prices supply profits to holders of debts, encouraging more lending. But knowing the debt is toxic, the banks wrap it up in complex derivatives, and offload it as fast as they can. All the ordinary people shopping around for the highest interest rates put their savings in them. It’s backed by the government and their bottomless money pit, so it’s perfectly safe, right? A bunch of stupid and irresponsible people see this endless supply of money the government has opened up and go far beyond what the government demanded of them making more and more loans, and it all spirals out of control.

    Then the housing market falls, and the scheme comes unravelled. The banks say to the government: a) we told you so! b) pay up. c) Now the staff who weren’t involved are going to have to work like dogs for six months on short pay trying to clean this mess up, you’re not going to try to shaft us, are you…?

    Other people’s money.

  186. Steve Mennie says:

    I give…to carry on would be like  arguing with my dog…so I yield the floor. I suggest you have a Holly Hobitt view of the system and we would have to back up so far to find common ground that it would take weeks of typing..may the force be with you.

  187. Joshua says:

    NiV – (190)

    Have you checked the time line for the sequence of events that you described (interestingly, without any reference to proven racially discriminatory practices in lending)? Are you aware of any significant events, trends, or developments related to that sequence that you may have left out? Do you know when the CRA was implemented? Are you ware of the default rates over time? Are you aware of the role that predatory loans played in the process, and the prevalence of those types of loans relative to the implementation of the CRA? Are you aware of how loans were deceptively marketed? Are you aware of the inflated home assessments and credit ratings? Are you aware of the default rates in the loans subject to the CRA as opposed to loans that were not subject to the CRA? Have  you looked into how the passage of the CFMA related to the lending and banking processes that contributed to the mortgage crises? Do you know of the evidence of the  fundamentally flawed algorithms used by huge financial institutions to calculate the risk of their investments – investments made through leveraging assets up to forty times their capital reserves?

    Seriously, bro. Seems like there’s a whole lot you left out of your description there. Any reason for that?

  188. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    Many people promise rose gardens ““ just support this policy, vote for this candidate, sign this form”¦ most just don’t deliver.

    I should have been more clear. What I meant by that expression is that no one promised you a perfect world. I have yet to hear anyone promise a perfect would. Are you saying that many people do so? Could you elaborate?

    Of all such systems, capitalism has come the nearest to delivering one.

    Why is that, and the rest of that post relevant? I was not discussing the relative merits of capitalism as compared to other governing systems.

    There are people around now who don’t understand this goose that lays such golden eggs, who don’t believe in it, and want to dismantle it, re-arrange it in the shape of their own ideas.

    Yes, there are people around on the left and the right who fit your description. Interestingly, it is people on the right who have more power amongst people who fit that description than people on the left; specifically, extremist libertarians. People on the left who fit that description are few and far between, and they have little political power.

    They want to get without giving back, and if they can’t afford that they’ll borrow and borrow and promise that someone else will pay it back later.

    How many people do you know who fit that description? I don’t know any. Would you mind describing them a bit – under what circumstances you met them, etc.?

    They want to take the wealth from the parts that are working and give it to the parts that are not.

    Well, I haven’t met any of “them,” but you can tell “them” for me that they are living in a falsely dichotomous world; they are creating a false division between “parts.” There is no such division. The system functions well and poorly as a whole – necessarily. There is a significant segment of the population on the left who would like to modify the system in ways that they believe will make the U.S. more economically equitable and to increase class mobility. Now you and I may disagree about the wisdom of their efforts in that regard, but your description is obviously meant to describe those efforts, and your description is grossly inaccurate.

    So while things are tolerable at the moment, I’d like to keep it that way.

    Well then, you’d better start talking to extremist libertarians, because there are quite a few of them with significant political power who are working very actively to significantly change “things.”Sorry for the tone of this post, and I’d like to engage you in serious discussion, but that post and the few before that were what I view to be over-the-top polemics that leave nothing to grasp onto. Nothing to debate in a meaningful way. I see gross distortions and demonizing of the sort that is a dime-a-dozen on the Internet. I suggest that we limit political discussion to more concrete issues that can actually be discussed.

  189. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    You mean, they don’t individually have much to offer, and are unable to
    organise themselves, but if they pay a small portion to an organiser, collectively and with the efficiencies of scale they can all make a
    living.

    No. that’s not at all what I mean. I mean that they do work of real value, and they create wealth. And that doesn’t even address the extent to which “worth” in the sense that you are describing embeds an arbitrary attribution. Whether or not other people do work that is valued more highly does not negate that they do work that is of value. And please, do get back to the gist of my argument. Allow me to repeat:

    This statement is tantamount to saying that starving people who have no access to food are hungry because they haven’t eaten. It seems  meaningless to me. But even more than being meaningless, it also seems to me to be not
    logical and misleading.

     Not all wealthy people “create wealth.”  There are tens of millions
    of working poor in this country alone. Their labor goes to create wealth, even if they don’t become wealthy. Thus, the act of “creating
    wealth” is not something that distinguishes not being poor from being poor ““ as your statement implies. It seems that you are creating a
    binary construction that does not represent reality.

    And please address my subsequent point, that your next statement contradicted your statement that poor people are poor because they don’t create wealth.

    The organiser is the one with the rare skill, one desperately needed by
    many millions of people, and he offers this service in return for what
    it’s worth.

    Really? No doubt some do, but this lockstep relationship you describe certainly doesn’t reflect the world I’ve observed. What kind of work do you do? In every workplace that I’ve ever toiled, I’ve observed largely incompetent people attain success, and highly competent people have difficulty becoming successful. Additionally, you seem to be unrealistically minimizing the role of happenstance as well as the role that inherited privilege plays. Not to say that the elements you describe aren’t in play, but you fail to account for any nuance or complexities in real world cause-and-effect. The world does not work in such a binary manner. Surely, you must know that.

    Sometimes the reason for it is bad luck as you say, and there are depths below which people should not be pushed. I don’t say there’s no room in the system for a bit of humanity.

    There. That is exactly what I was talking about. Now why don’t you use that as your thesis and go back and restructure your argument? 

    Me: “You don’t “sell yourself into slavery.” If you sell yourself, then you are receiving compensation. If you are a slave, you receive no
    compensation for your labor.”

    You: You get the cancellation of your debts. Which given what they would do to you if you still owed them the money, is a bargain.

    This really is a silly dispute, but you said that a person could sell themselves into slavery. That isn’t true. Slavery means that you aren’t getting to sell yourself. Slavery means that you receive no return for your efforts. Cancellation of your debts is a return for your efforts. Selling yourself for cancellation of your debts is not slavery.

    You pay a lot more in tax than you receive in benefit.

     There is absolutely no doubt, none whatsoever, that there are many people around the globe who express agreement with me, as they make great sacrifice to be able to have the deal that I get. And the majority of Americans feel that what they pay in taxes is fair.

    And even if what I say there weren’t true (but it is), at any rate, it is absolutely clear that you can’t tell me whether I pay more in taxes than I receive in benefit.  In fact, having traveled the world quite a bit, I would say quite the opposite. Despite my tax money being spent in some ways that I don’t approve, I still come out way ahead in the long run. I am more than happy to pay what I pay in taxes to be able to live in the manner in which I live.

    Seriously, think about your statement. Giving it further thought, wouldn’t you have to agree that it is incredibly condescending? The determination of the value of the return I get for my taxes is, obviously, inherently subjective. I don’t see how anyone could argue otherwise.

  190. Tom C says:

    Joshua -What racially discriminatory lending practices are you referring to?

  191. Tom C says:

    Quite amazing how all these folks that are worried about conservatives bringing politics into issues of climate science blog on and on and on about how free market economics is a sham.  Connelly, Eli, Tobis, Tamino et al, ad nauseum.  The economic theories that NiV is outlining would be accepted by, oh, 99% of practicing economists and probably 90% of academic economists.  Joshua, Steve, Andrew et al simply can’t believe that wealth can be created.  Yet they think they know what the GMT will be in the year 2100.  Weird.

  192. Joshua says:

    Tom C-

    Redlining. I know about it first hand. I happen to grow up in a neighborhood where it was taking place. There were some interesting controlled studies where racism in lending practices was proven.

  193. Joshua says:

    Tom C –

    Joshua, Steve, Andrew et al simply can’t believe that wealth can be created.

    I’ll let others speak for themselves. As for me, that isn’t what I believe. Could you point to what I said that suggested that conclusion to you?

  194. Steve Mennie says:

    I have no problem recognizing free-market capitalism as being a mighty force for creating wealth. My concern is with how it’s spread around and the seeming inability to allow for limits to how much is enough.

  195. Joshua says:

    (188) AA –

    So i guess the question becomes something of a semantic one. I guess I have a different standard for the word “tyrannical.”

    There is much about this country that I think is unfair – but to me tyrannical necessarily implies absolute power. In the end, I agree with you that the democratic nature of our government institutions is a stronger hedge against tyranny than the freedom to leave the country if one desires; I just don’t think that the ability to leave is irrelevant.

    I guess my reaction is strong because I hear the word “tyranny” being applied so liberally in this country for situations that I think can’t possibly be considered close to the bar. I frequently hear that we live in a tyranny because of our taxes – a notion I consider preposterous.

  196. Eli Rabett says:

    You mean, they don’t individually have much to offer, and are unable to organise themselves, but if they pay a small portion to an organiser,
    collectively and with the efficiencies of scale they can all make a living.

    Yes, that is called forming a union, but you appear hostile to that.

  197. Eli Rabett says:

    As to picking up and leaving, well, many of us have parents and grandparents who did that, so if NIV thinks he is being enslaved, let him go somewhere else. His entire nonsense is a demand that he ride free on everyone else’s dime.

  198. Eli Rabett says:

    Everyone here is young enough to forget the tumbrils, which on route is the reason to share some of the wealth.

  199. Joshua says:

    Tom C –

    W/r/t the mortgage crisis, the CRA, and racism, you should also look into what’s called “reverse redlining” and what is called “predatory lending” as well.

  200. Marlowe Johnson says:

    @ NiV

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but for now and evermore, whenever I hear the word “sophist” I’ll think of you 😉

  201. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    When I say the poor are poor because they don’t create wealth, what I mean is that if they were able to provide something people wanted and didn’t have enough of, they would be able to trade it for more. Either they have no skills or means to produce such things, or what they can provide nobody wants, or what they can provide is already available in abundance. Or perhaps they simply don’t want to.

    Whenever I read something like this, I think of some of the women who helped me take care of my mother when she was dying, or some of the women my girlfriend – who is a patient care manger for a hospice – works with. 

    I’m thinking of the hospice nurses, of course, who care for, and support through witness, families in some of the most difficult times of their lives. Those nurses (mostly women) get paid fairly well, but I would certainly say not in a way commensurate with to the value they provide.

    But even more, I think of the aides. Mostly black women with limited education. They, in many ways, are the soul of the hospice program. They do the things that perhaps we might say are of “low value.”. You know, those horribly unpleasant things that we like not so speak of in the polite company of blog commenters. They get paid minimum wage. I remember with my mother, how incredibly grateful I was for their help. I think of the help they gave me multiplied by multiple families, each and every day of each and every week.

    My girlfriend has been in hospice care for years. Many of the families she has taken care of are on Medicare – incredibly poor. Some of the clients, however, have been extremely wealthy. She speaks about how, in her experience, it is often the wealthier clients who have the hardest time stepping up to do the active care for family members – cleaning up excrement, changing diapers, giving medication, and the like.

    It is ironic, I suppose in a way, that those “wealth creators,” those who folks who sacrifice so by paying taxes to benefit the parasitic lower class folks, seem to actually have a much greater expectation that the aids will do that unpleasant work for them.

    You see, the hospice system only pays for aids a couple of hours a couple of days a week. There is a regular clamor from families to get the hospice to provide more care. But often, although I’m sure not always, it is those “producers” who expect the most of the aids. Who expect someone else, from outside of their family, to step in and help care for their loved ones.

    You see, many times people from that “parasite class” (yes, I have heard libertarians use that term), have a sort of expectation that they will have to do that dirty work. They have never had the ability to hire someone else to do that work of “low value.” So they step up to the plate and they change the diapers without some expectation that someone will do it for them.

    It is an interesting juxtaposition to your  statement about the poor being poor because they are not able to provide something that people want. Don’t you think?

  202. Joshua says:

    er…. aides.

  203. Tom C says:

    There is a reason that economics is called the “dismal science”.  It is concerned with describing the allocation of scarce resources.  There are hard facts that need to be understood, whether they are uplifting or not.  NiV’s statement that poor people don’t create wealth is a simple statement of fact, it is not a value judgment.  The individual poor person in question might be a saint, but he is still poor because he does not create wealth.  Conversely, wealth creaters are not necessarily virtuous.  Donald Trump comes to mind; so does Steve Jobs.  If you “care” about the poor you should learn about how wealth is created and help poor people to take part in that. 

  204. Tom C says:

    Joshua – Your hospice worker observations are typical and understandable.  If someone is not moved, on occasion by thoughts that the nursing aide is “worth more” than the banker they are heartless.  But, contrary to Michael Tobis, there are centuries of experience with what happens when you distort the market by arbitrarily lowering the bankers income and raising the hospice worker’ income.  The entire system of motivations/rewards that matches persons with a given aptitude and education level to a wealth creating job goes haywire, and poverty for all ensues.  That is always what happens in communist countries.  If you doubt this, find someone who lived through it and ask them.

  205. Joshua says:

    Tom C –

    NiV’s statement that poor people don’t create wealth is a simple statement of fact, it is not a value judgment.

    But it isn’t a fact. And it is a value judgement. This is evident by the overstatement.

    Poor people do “create wealth.” I think it is relevant to discuss how  wealth is a subjective evaluation, but lets assume that he’s referring only to monetary wealth. And in that, his statement could be true if he made it relative – if he qualified his statement. There is crucial information in the qualifications. Without them, you are left with inaccurate polemics that allow no room for debate. No room for assessing the relevant impact of complex variables. That has been my point. There is something important in how he made a categorical statement, and how you repeated it.

    Further, he went on to say that the distinction between wealth and poverty is determined on the basis of whether or not someone “creates wealth.” Well, there are wealthy people who don’t create wealth, and their are poor people who do create wealth. Again, there is more to the picture. Something, obviously, have been left out. What is it?

    Here’s the thing. No matter how you might create a caricature out of my beliefs (see comment 196), I don’t dismiss certain elements embedded in NiV’s arguments. But I am skeptical about his conclusions

    As another example, he implied that one thing that determines the value of someone’s work is the degree to which it is unique, or contains qualities that are hard to find (paraphrasing). This is a basic presumption of the theoretical foundation of NiV’s argument.

    Well, let’s go back to those aides, who care for dying family members. Such work, when done well, takes some very unique skills and abilities. I couldn’t do it nearly as well as some of those I’ve watched. I have tried. I discovered that I don’t have the character. I don’t have the life experience to build not only the needed skills but the needed attitude towards things that are disgusting, things that are difficult to endure.

    In fact, good aides are very difficult to find. Many aides who are less than good are employed, all the time, to do work that many people find extremely valuable. Something is amiss. And further, I see competence and incompetence among people who are paid well as well as people are paid minimum wage. For example, just look at the track record of mutual fund managers who get paid well to manage funds less well than the would have done just by chance.

    The abstracted theory about how the market works somehow fails to account for some missing variables, obviously. Well, isn’t that obvious? That doesn’t mean that the abstracted market theory is completely wrong. I think the theory does contain some fundamental principles that are valid (in contrast to your caricaturization of me). It is when we assume validity in contrast to easily available, confounding evidence, that we run into trouble. What is it about the context that I spoke of, where extremely valuable work, done by people with unique and highly specialized skills, nets minimum wage in return? I would suggest as one thing to consider, the role that cultural variables play.

    For example, people who have access to education get to add “value” to their work, to some degree independently of any non-arbitrary definition of value. It is more “valuable” simply because it is more “valuable.” It’s “value” is in that it works to maintain the status quo of the existing social structure – and the inequities that are contained therein. Inequality in acess to education becomes a force that distorts the theoretical free market construct.

    (As an educator, I am very familiar with the role that education plays as a social sorting mechanism in a way that is actually independent of the intrinsic value of the experiences of doing well in our schools. One of the schools I worked in was an elite school – IIRC, Kissinger had a kid there – where parents put their kids onto waiting lists for the first grade only days after their children were born. No matter the quality of the students’ work, or the intrinsic value of the education they received at that school, simply by virtue of being on that list, a child had a leg up on their “market value” when they finished 12th grade).

    To me, the market-distorting mechanisms are interesting questions. Like you, I am interested in understanding what forces are in play that can cause this theoretical construct of the free market to break down. In fact, my interest is in not limiting the mechanisms to examine.

  206. Joshua says:

    Tom C-

    One more bit in response.

    If you “care” about the poor you should learn about how wealth is created and help poor people to take part in that. 

    Just for your information — While I can’t possibly know how you intended that comment, when I read it, I can’t help but wonder if you are making an implication that I don’t care about the poor. It seems to me that you may be suggesting that my political orientation rests on ignoring what causes poverty. The main reason that I go there is that I have had people state in the past, directly, that my political orientation is based on deliberately ignoring “realities” about what causes poverty.

    My tendency to react that way to your comment is exacerbated by inaccurate assumptions you have demonstrated with respect to my beliefs.

    I would imagine that you have had similar experiences. Say where people made assumptions, based on your political orientation and previous mistaken assumptions about your beliefs, that you don’t care about poverty. I can understand why, if you have had those experiences, you would have resented such assumptions about your beliefs and what you do and don’t care about.

  207. John F. Pittman says:

    One of the reasons you are talking past one another is you need to come to agreement about the definitions of wealth, money, intrinsic/extrinic values and costs, and the role of money. This was determined last century when economists started to argue. Then your descussions about morality could be disengaged separately so that the lines and definitions are not always changing.

  208. afeman says:

    For all the talk of climate science being a watermelonist conspiracy, people who think we have a problem to solve seem to be more politically diverse than those who don’t — the latter having a very particular, endemically Anglospheric, social ideal.

  209. Tom C says:

    Joshua – I should have said “if one cares…etc”  I did not mean “you” qua Joshua.  Re NiV, of course he was talking about monetary wealth and not other moral or spiritual dimensions. It most certainly is a simple statement of fact and not a value judgment.  Mother Theresa was poor because she did not create anything of [monetary] value while she might have imparted vast amounts of another sort of wealth.  She would have been the first to admit as much.

  210. Tom C says:

    afeman – In your opinion, what will it take to “solve this problem”?

  211. Tom Scharf says:

    #182 andrew adams

    But I would probably do something, not out of personal guilt but because trying to help those less fortunate than onesself is a pretty basic moral principle. It’s a question of equity and responsibility, it’s nothing to do with guilt.  

    It’s semantics.  A basic moral principle is feeling guilty about the poor and wanting to do something about it.  Everyone has it to a different degree.  Guilt may be the wrong word.

    My point is the best thing a person of high skill can do to help the poor is do more high skill work and generate more wealth, not volunteer at the local soup kitchen.  

    This is a very difficult concept for some to acknowledge, particularly those who are more driven by wanting to punish the successful rather than help the poor.  

    There are certainly spiritual arguments about should a high skilled individual spend time in a soup kitchen that are beside the point.

  212. afeman says:

    Tom C – Doesn’t matter if you don’t recognize the existence of the problem.

  213. Tom Scharf says:

    #189 andrew adams

    If only I was a libertarian, whereby the answer to the world’s problems would be, by happy coincidence, for me to do whatever is in my own economic self-interest. We could do away with all these difficult questions.

    Why *must* solving the problem involve forcing others  to suffer (always in designated classes that they don’t belong to)?  Shouldn’t that be seen as a negative to problem solving?  What is really the agenda here?  

    Many in the climate movement are seemingly against solutions that involve low cost  clean energy.  Why?  They have alternate agendas (wealth redistribution, environmental purity, political control, etc.).  They are using climate change as a proxy for their real agenda.   This has only served to corrupt the climate change movement and weaken it, possibly mortally.

  214. harrywr2 says:

    161 Steve Mennie

    But does this automatically mean that you should receive 3 or 4 hundred times as much”¦

    Eventually someone will decide to compete against me , they will either make even more widgets per hour or make better widgets or offer a lower price. I would note that Fred Koch, father of the much maligned Koch Brothers made his money competing against the major oil companies. The major oil companies had a monopoly on refining.If you look thru the Forbes billionaires list there are quite a few David vs Goliath stories. Apple topped out IBM this year on the Forbes Fortune 500 list. IBM ranked 5th on the Fortune 500 list 40 years ago.Getting to the Fortune 500 list takes extraordinary talent and staying there takes extraordinary talent. The market decides the appropriate level of financial reward.

  215. Tom C says:

    afeman – Actually, it matters quite a bit. In order to think clearly about “doing something” it helps a lot to know what needs to be done. The current AGW theory is based on a rise in CO2 starting in the late 19th or early 20th century. The use of fossil fuels added to the flux into the atmosphere from natural processes, and the natural flux out of the atmosphere could not keep pace. Hence the accumulation and rise in concentration.

    Now here is the thing that you have probably never thought about, or don’t understand: any anthropogenic output beyond that of the late 19th century wll result in more CO2 accumulation. So, to actually halt the accumulation, we would need to cut back to late 19th century levels of CO2 output. We now have 5 times as many people on earth and we live with modern conveniences and transportation. The bottom line is that we are talking about massive cuts in emissions; probably 90-95%.

    Efficiency can only knock off 10-15 or so; alternate energy sources (except nuclear) likewise. The rest would have to be dramatic scaling back to modern lifestyle. If you doubt my reasoning here let me bolster my case by saying that Freeman Dyson has said much the same.

    So, afeman, what will it take to “solve this problem”?

  216. afeman says:

    Tom C – Do you think there’s a problem to solve?

  217. Tom C says:

    I honestly don’t know.  There might be a big problem.  We probably won’t know for sure for 20-30 more years.  Had you ever thought of the dimensions of “doing something” that I outlined above?

  218. Nullius in Verba says:

    #192,

    The answer to your questions is that I’m well aware of the sequence of events, but I left it out because for one thing it would make for a very long comment (I do actually try to keep it short), and more importantly, because it’s not relevant to the point.

    #193,

    “What I meant by that expression is that no one promised you a perfect world.”

    What you meant was that because we can’t have a perfect world, we shouldn’t complain or try to repair its imperfections.

    What I was saying was that capitalism isn’t perfect either, but it’s the nearest thing we’ve got, and that even if we never make it, it’s still worth pushing in the direction of perfection.

    “Why is that, and the rest of that post relevant? I was not discussing the relative merits of capitalism as compared to other governing systems.”

    Capitalism is what I’ve been talking about since #100.

    “I’d like to engage you in serious discussion, but that post and the few before that were what I view to be over-the-top polemics that leave nothing to grasp onto.”

    This conversation started with the claim “Of course it’s us. Us now against us later. Us in the rich countries against those of us stuck in the poor countries. Us against our grandchildren.” which I’d regard as an over-the-top polemic so far from reality that it couldn’t see it with a radio telescope. I know from experience that this sort of discussion never gets anywhere – the worldviews are mutually incomprehensible. I only really wanted to make it clear that the “it’s us against them” thing wasn’t agreed, but people always want to ask questions and argue…

    “No. that’s not at all what I mean. I mean that they do work of real value, and they create wealth. And that doesn’t even address the extent to which “worth” in the sense that you are describing embeds an arbitrary attribution.”

    If they did work of real value, they would get paid more for it. The attribution of worth isn’t arbitrary, it’s founded on what people are willing to pay for it. If you think their labour is worth more than they’re currently being paid, then hire them and get the benefit for yourself while helping them too.

    “And please, do get back to the gist of my argument.”

    I’m not attempting a complete and rigorous definition.

    “In every workplace that I’ve ever toiled, I’ve observed largely incompetent people attain success, and highly competent people have difficulty becoming successful.”

    Competent at what?

    Everywhere I’ve worked, competent people were more successful, although quite often they were interested in different sorts of success. Not everyone wants to be rich.

    “Not to say that the elements you describe aren’t in play, but you fail to account for any nuance or complexities in real world cause-and-effect.”

    Do you really expect me to give a complete model of the world in a blog comment?

  219. Nullius in Verba says:

    #194,

    “Selling yourself for cancellation of your debts is not slavery.”

    Fine. They might be in chains, but they’re not slaves because they got their debts cancelled in return. Whatever.

    “Giving it further thought, wouldn’t you have to agree that it is incredibly condescending? The determination of the value of the return I get for my taxes is, obviously, inherently subjective.”

    So doesn’t that mean the determination of the value I get in return for *my* taxes is subjective to me? And if I decide that they’re not worth it, can you argue otherwise?

    So how about this. Each of us should pay the amount of taxes they want, based on the value they ascribe to the return they get. You can pay lots, because you think it’s worthwhile, and I can pay a little amount, because I don’t. I’d go for that – how about you?

    #202,

    “His entire nonsense is a demand that he ride free on everyone else’s dime.”

    It’s a request that everybody else stop free riding on my dime.

    #206,

    “You see, many times people from that “parasite class” (yes, I have heard libertarians use that term), have a sort of expectation that they will have to do that dirty work.”

    Libertarians don’t describe people who do dirty work for minimum pay as the ‘parasite class’. What they mean is people who do *no* work, although they could, and still get paid. What they mean is people who *won’t* do dirty work when they can go on the benefit instead.

    People sometimes do dirty work because they can’t get better work – they don’t have the skills. Then it’s good that the dirty work is available; they contribute as much they can and make a living. Sometimes people do the dirty work because they get more than just money out of it. They’re storing up treasures in heaven.

  220. willard says:

    Marlowe,

    Please bear in mind that sophists were the ultimate relativists: they could not care less about their arguments, as long as they won the debate for which they were hired.

    I don’t believe this is the case for gaming theorists.

  221. BBD says:

    Yeah, it’s motivated reasoning, innit?

  222. afeman says:

    Tom C – Oh, I suspect it’s going to be a very BFD, in the elite parlance of our times.  But here’s my larger point: it’s irrelevant to getting the scope and extent of the problem, any more than you diagnose your tumor based on your taste in chemo. But a segment of the populace finds any treatment yet devised against their stated principles and so deem the problem imaginary.  In your case, how does what it takes to “solve the problem” as you quote reach back and alter the problem you’re trying to solve?<p>So you figure 20-30 years will do it.  Why not 50 or 60? 

  223. willard says:

    Even truth seeking is motivated, BBD.

  224. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    The answer to your questions is that I’m well aware of the sequence of
    events, but I left it out because for one thing it would make for a very long comment (I do actually try to keep it short), and more importantly, because it’s not relevant to the point.

    “It’s?” What do you mean by its? I can’t see the criterion you used to select the factors you mentioned and neglect the ones I mentioned in your goal towards brevity. Seems to me that if brevity was the criterion, they odds are that you would have selected some from column A and some from column B. You selected none from column B. What was your operative criterion?.

    What you meant was that because we can’t have a perfect world, we shouldn’t complain or try to repair its imperfections.

    I have to say that it is a little annoying for you to tell me what I meant. That isn’t what I meant. Not at all. In fact complaining, or repairing imperfections is very much my point of interest. My point is we are wasting our time if we reject a crucial system such as government functioning merely on the basis of some imperfections existing. This is one of my “schticks,” because IMO, what I typically see from libertarians is a binary mentality – on the order of: “Because I can identify how government intervention A had negative unintended consequences, therefore all government interventions have unintended consequences. To make that more  context specific – this is what my rose garden comment was in reference to:

    We have elections. But all the candidates on offer have the same high-spending policies, so in what way do I have a choice?. 

    There are a couple of ways to look at that: (1) None of the candidates meet my principles. For that reason, I choose not to vote; (2) There is one aspect where none of the candidates meet my principles but some are better than others – if not w/r/t high-spending policies, than in other areas. Therefore I choose to vote for candidate A; (3) I can’t find any way to determine significant differences between any of the candidates on important issues, therefore I’m going to lobby to get different candidates to run, run for office myself, lobby to get candidates to change their positions, or leave the country.

    These are all choices. When you say “in what way do I have a choice,” it suggests to me a binary mentality =  “the candidates aren’t perfect therefore I have no choices.”

    So, that is what I meant. As I said, it annoys me if you impose incorrect meanings on to what I say. If you aren’t clear as to my meaning, please ask.

    What I was saying was that capitalism isn’t perfect either, but it’s the
    nearest thing we’ve got, and that even if we never make it, it’s still worth pushing in the
    direction of perfection.

    I agree. Which is why I was saying that when you veered into a discussion of the relative merits of capitalism, it didn’t seem germane to the convo you and I had going.

    Me: “Why is that, and the rest of that post relevant? I was not
    discussing the relative merits of capitalism as compared to other governing systems.”

    You: Capitalism is what I’ve been talking about since #100.

    Related to my comment above. Yes, we were talking about capitalism – but we weren’t talking about the merits of capitalism relative to other systems of government. Veering off into the demerits of other systems of government was not something I thought we were talking about.

    This conversation started with the claim “Of course ….

    This seems to be the root of the problem. That wasn’t what I was considering the beginning of my convo with you – which started at #111 if I’m not mistaken.

    If they did work of real value, they would get paid more for it.

    I’m not sure why we keep going around with this. This seems like simple logic. By your logic, since they get paid for their work, their work has real value. That is not negated by the question of whether they would get paid more if their work had more value. I would argue that you can’t actually judge the value of work on the basis of how much someone gets paid – as I outlined in my story about hospice aides; but that is a secondary question. John’s suggestion about defining terms is excellent, I think. What I’m focusing on here is a definition of terms. It seems to me that your logic is that if someone gets paid then their work has value. That would mean “real” value. I’m not following your logic here. 

    I’m not attempting a complete and rigorous definition.

    That doesn’t explain why you didn’t address the gist of my argument. You have skipped past this twice. I will repeat it again:

    This statement is tantamount to saying that starving people who have no access to food are hungry because they haven’t eaten.
    It seems  meaningless to me. But even more than being meaningless, it also seems to me to be notlogical and misleading.

     Not all wealthy people “create wealth.”  There are tens of millions of working poor in this country alone. Their labor goes to create wealth, even if they don’t become wealthy. Thus, the act of “creating wealth” is not something that distinguishes not being poor from being poor ““ as your statement implies. It seems that you are creating a binary construction that does not represent reality.

    The reason I am pressing you on this is that it relates to a definition of terms. 

    Everywhere I’ve worked, competent people were more successful, although
    quite often they were interested in different sorts of success. Not everyone wants to be rich.

    I’m not questioning that. To repeat, everywhere I have worked I have seen incompetent people be more successful than incompetent people. Maybe my language was unclear. I did not mean to say that all competent people are more successful than all incompetent people. I was saying that success is not an uncomplicated function of competence. 

    Do you really expect me to give a complete model of the world in a blog comment?

    No. Of course not. I’m asking you to deal more with the nuances that I’m asking you to address.

    So doesn’t that mean the determination of the value I get in return for *my* taxes is subjective to me? And if I decide that they’re not worth it, can you argue otherwise?

    Of course. That is what I was saying. You have no authority to say to me that I am paying more than what I get in return. It stands to reason that I wouldn’t have such authority either. But let’s be clear. I was never claiming that authority. You were. And I said that was being condescending. Do you disagree? It seems now that you would agree that me telling you that you pay too much in taxes would be condescending. In such a case, I would agree with you.

    So how about this. Each of us should pay the amount of taxes they want, based on the value they ascribe to the return they get. You can pay lots, because you think it’s worthwhile, and I can pay a little amount, because I don’t. I’d go for that ““ how about you?

    I would like that. It would be an interesting experiment. I have been involved in small-scale experiments along those lines that have worked quite well (for example, a restaurant were people paid what they felt the meal was worth). But for better or worse, that isn’t the system that we have. The system that we have, for better or for worse, is that the majority determines basic tax rates through a representative democracy. As I said before, the majority of Americans think that their taxes are fair. Those that don’t, have a variety of choices. One of those choices is to vent some steam by talking about how the system might realistically be improved. Let’s stick to that rather than making proposals for changes that we both know will never happen

  225. Joshua says:

    # (205) Marlowe –

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but for now and evermore, whenever I hear the word “sophist” I’ll think of you

    I’ve been thinking about this comment of yours a bit. Accusing someone of being a sophist is one of those internet things that bugs me. It’s like when people say someone else has the burden of proof, or call someone a troll, or says that someone used an ad hom. For the most part, I find the way that people use these terms is highly subjective.

    Of course, one of the reasons is that those terms have been turned against me many times. So take my reaction with a grain of salt.

    But NiV said earlier that he thinks it is valuable to speak with those you disagree with about your ideas. He had some great quotes that expressed that concept much better than I just did. I agree, very much, with that perspective. NiV takes the time to respond to my long comments in detail. He doesn’t insult me. He doesn’t complain about how long my comments are. Now I will say that  in his latest response to me,  I felt that he didn’t deal directly with some of the issues I raised – but maybe he thought that he was or maybe my impression in that respect is a mistaken one. But I think it’s kind of lame to call him a sophist for engaging in discussion with what seems to me like good faith.

    And FWIW. When someone calls me a sophist, I see no way around taking it “the wrong way.”

  226. Joshua says:

    (222) John Pittman –

    I agree with you very much. Definition of terms in these discussions is crucial, and without them people absolutely become much more likely to talk past each other. Defining terms is a crucial step in arguing to support a thesis.  It is a very difficult process. I feel like a lot of what I am trying to do here is to define terms.

  227. Joshua says:

    (216) Tom Scharf –

    This is a very difficult concept for some to acknowledge, particularly those who are more driven by wanting to punish the successful rather than help the poor. 

    It is with some trepidation that I offer a comment for your response.

    But I can’t think of anyone I know who wants to “punish the successful,” let alone “punish the successful rather than help the poor.”

    Have you actually met such people? Can you describe them a bit? How did you meet them?

    I assume this to be an inaccurate description of people who belive that by increasing taxation on the extremely wealthy we might successfully mitigate against inequality in a way that would derive maximum good for the most people. I can understand believing that such an ideology is impractical or counterproductive – but that doesn’t mean that having that opinion is tantamount to having the opinion you describe. Could you fill that in a bit?

  228. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    One more point:

    Libertarians don’t describe people who do dirty work for minimum pay as the “˜parasite class’.

    Actually, that hasn’t been my experience. I have been in discussions with libertarians where not only did they refer to tens of millions of working poor as the “parasite class,” they also included under that descriptor tens of millions of seniors on Medicare and tens of millions of children who are born into poverty. The linking aspect of those tens of millions of people is that they rely (to one degree or another) on government assistance. I have, absolutely, seen broadly denigrating references to those who rely on government assistance as parasites. When I have called those libertarians on that language, they have most decidedly not backed down. To be clear, I am not saying that you would use such language or that you would necessarily  feel that way about people who rely on government assistance. I am noting, however, a crossover between some of your arguments and the arguments of the libertarians who use that term in the way that I described.

    My point in bringing up that term is to talk, specifically, about an ideology that makes such a classification. You have differentiated your perspective from the one I have described. As such, could you tell me why as a libertarian? (I am assuming), you would not use that term for working poor, (or elderly poor on Medicare, or children born into poverty) – all of who rely to some extent on government assistance?

  229. Joshua says:

    Two more pieces to add to 233 –

    I should point out that the term was not used exclusively for those categories I described. Included in that group were other people also that rely on public assistance (i.e., people on public assistance don’t work, aren’t elderly, and aren’t children).

    Also – I suspect my 233 might come across as “When did you stop beating your wife.” I will repeat, again, that  you have distinguished yourself w/r/t use of that term. I really am curious to know, then, why you say that someone who has “low value” and relies on support from others shouldn’t be labeled a parasite.

  230. Tom Fuller says:

    Joshua, why is it you make perfect sense when you’re talking about everything else?

  231. Joshua says:

    You’re a smart guy Tom – and as people have noted, you’re a very clear writer. But I don’t understand that comment.

  232. Tom C says:

    Joshua – You wrote: “Actually, that hasn’t been my experience. I have been in discussions with libertarians where not only did they refer to tens of millions of working poor as the “parasite class,” they also included under that descriptor tens of millions of seniors on Medicare and tens of millions of children who are born into poverty.”

    This does not pass the smell test and I don’t believe you. Why don’t you save us all a lot of trouble and go read an introductory textbook on economics.

  233. Tom Fuller says:

    Maybe I don’t either. Let me try again. You make perfect sense here. I have seen you make perfect sense elsewhere. You are a different writer/advocate/thinker(?) when you are on strictly climate threads. 

    Why the difference? (If you agree there is one.)

  234. Tom Fuller says:

    I have the line ‘that’s always possible’ waiting in response in case you reply that perhaps I am a different reader on climate threads…

  235. willard says:

    Tom C,

    Which title would you suggest, and do you expect we will find wealth defined the way Nullius did?

  236. Joshua says:

    (238) Tom –

    Thanks. The description of making perfect sense coming from you is of value to me.

    I can’t answer your question unless you can refer to something specific that I said on a topic more closely related to climate change. I will acknowledge motivation when discussing those issues. But I’m not sure that it is different qualitatively than my motivation when discussing issues such as these. Maybe, with good faith in our exchange, we could delve into that a bit. I’m open. (at least in spirit)

  237. Joshua says:

    (237) Tom C –

    This does not pass the smell test and I don’t believe you.

    That doesn’t come as a surprise to me. You have made it clear in past comments that you think I have no credibility. At this point, I take that as a given. My impression is that NiV doesn’t share your judgement. Perhaps I’m wrong on that front. If it turns out that I am wrong, then exchanging views with him would be as pointless as exchanging views with you.

  238. Eli Rabett says:

    The data show that it takes between 40 and 60 percent of GDP to cover the usual services of governments in civilized countries.  You can see this in various statistical indicies, but poor Nullus thinks it is being put upon.  Don;t let the door hit you on the way out.

  239. Eli Rabett says:

    In #224 there is a telling confusing between an indentured servant and a slave.  The former is time limited and the kids don’t belong to the master.

  240. Joshua says:

    Tom C –

    The term parasite class is used by people of different political orientation. I’ve seen it used by some to describe white collar workers. I’ve seen it used by some to refer to unionized workers in the public sector. Here’s one usage – referring, broadly, to the people of NO and to people who, well, I’ll let the man speak for himself:

    http://mediamatters.org/video/2008/06/19/boortz-again-referred-to-victims-of-hurricane-k/143803

    “I think the answer’s pretty clear, is that up there in that part of the country, you find a great deal
    of self-sufficiency. Down there in New Orleans, it was basically a
    parasite class totally dependent on government for their existence.”

  241. Eli Rabett says:

    #237, for a simple demo that Josh was correct, google EITC and parasite.  EITC is a tax credit for people who earn small amounts of wages (e.g. the working poor) and it really sticks in the craw of the randies and their allies.  OTOH tax credits that benefit the rich (for example foreign passive income) are just hunky dory.

  242. Tom Fuller says:

    I would like to approach the libertarian standpoint from a different angle. I am not at all a libertarian–I am a progressive librul Democrat. But please understand I am criticizing a point of view, not any of the participants in this thread.

    A state differs from a random group of people occupying the same territory primarily through a set of duties and obligations. You have to add more before it becomes a culture, sadly.

    In a country that prizes freedom and individual liberty, a problem arises when hard fought issues have been settled in the past. People achieving adulthood and agency after this settlement are not really asked their opinion on it. It’s a done deal, because very few want to re-fight the battle every generation.

    So Americans, for example, are assumed to be willing to live by (and with) the results of the Civil War, the Civil Rights Act, etc. When this doesn’t happen, as with Roe vs. Wade, it causes serious problems that persist far longer than anyone would desire.

    Libertarians place their liberty at a premium. What I think they often forget is that non-libertarians do, too. The difference is that others are willing to sacrifice their personal liberty for the benefit of the state. I am willing to sacrifice some of my personal liberty so that the United States coheres better. It is not a sacrifice I take lightly. Nor do I insist that libertarians make that sacrifice and I don’t automatically disrespect them for the choice they have made.

    One fight from a previous generation that I believe ended well was the fight to remove stigma from considerations of poverty, unemployment, etc. In the United States, poverty and unemployment are treated topically, as symptoms. We have differing mechanisms that are designed to address the underlying causes, but if someone is hungry, it is our stated goal to feed them. If they do not have a job, it is our stated intention to help them financially and to help them find employment. 

    Our goal is not to shame them into higher performance. Our goal is not to set them apart as a subclass of untermenschen. 

    Our performance towards these goals is not great–it’s not even good. But I think the goals are. And the goals call for sacrifice from the citizenry. These goals require us to pay more to the government, knowing that the government is inefficient, knowing that some of the recipients are not just unworthy but even criminal, and all that goes along with it.

    But this is a fight that started 50 years ago and was more or less concluded with Clinton’s welfare reform act. I don’t want that fight re-staged. Libertarians who don’t wish to abide by the results of that struggle face choices. One of those choices is how active a participant they wish to be in the state–and the culture–that surrounds them.

    Perhaps what bothers me most about libertarianism is their willingness to force the rest of their fellow citizens to relitigate issues we all had hoped were behind us.

    So I say to libertarians everywhere–choose. I agree you have the right to put your liberty before the state, the culture and the people who live around you. But understand that the choice involves consequences. Both for you and the rest of us.

  243. BBD says:

    @ 228 Willard:

    I know, I know. I was being facile. Or facetious. Or both. Remember, I’m really Bob ‘Oskins, so this is allowed.

  244. Joshua says:

    (228) Willard –

    Even truth seeking is motivated, BBD.

    I’ve been thinking about that. Here are some thoughts:

    Motivated reasoning, as I understand the term, means that  your reasoning is driven to confirm an opinion. The end is, in effect, established before you start. That end could overlap with the “truth,” but it will certainly be congruent with your starting bias – be it to be “right,” to protect your social, cultural, political identity, etc.

    Seeking truth is open-ended. You go where truth leads you.

    Truth-seeking is only a theoretical construct, IMO. I doubt it exists in a pure form. But maybe we can incorporate it a smidgeon if we push towards self-awareness.

  245. Tom C says:

    Joshua – These libertarians who you have “been in discussions with”, you know, the ones who call children of poor people parasites, were they chomping on cigars and throwing old ladies in wheelchairs down the stairs at the same time?

  246. Joshua says:

    (247) Tom –

    That is a very useful frame. It particular, it helps me to visualize the linkage of libertarianism with neo-confederate ideology and repeal of the Civil Rights Act. They are not accepting the outcome of previous litigation. I wonder if it isn’t so much the outcome of those battles that they object to, but that they don’t have the opportunity to be part of the fight, to choose sides. It goes along with a victim mentality, and it helps to frame the pleas of “I want my country back”; the country as it exists now, is not their country, and they are victims of “the government” (despite that the government comprises fellow citizens).

    Our goal is not to shame them into higher performance. Our goal is not to set them apart as a subclass of untermenschen. 

    And that is where I believe that libertarianism, in its extreme forms, runs off the rails. I have seen this in libertarians arguing that there is a genetic link to inter-generational poverty, or with the notion that people who rely on government assistance are parasites. I don’t know the  goal is to set people people receiving government aid apart as a subclass of untermenschen (it may be for some extremists libertarians), but the ideology, it seems even for many in the less extreme camp,  is grounded in a belief that an untermenschen exists.

  247. Joshua says:

    (250) Tom C –

    I don’t know what they were doing besides typing. It was in internet exchanges. Maybe they were chomping cigars and doing mean things to old ladies, although I tend to doubt it.

    As part of their explanation, they linked to dictionary definitions of parasite (don’t you hate it when people do that? As if you didn’t know the definition? As if one decontextualized among a list of decontexualized definitions can fully explain usage of words in context?) The argument went that if one persons lives off of and relies on other people for sustenance, they are by definition a parasite. When I asked in return whether their children were parasites, they said no – because their children were not able to be self-reliant. When I pointed out that: (1) depending on the age of their child that might not be true and, (2) many people who receive government aid are not able to be self-reliant, they replied that I was being condescending by making such a statement: You know, the whole “bigotry of low expectations” line of argumentation.

    FWIW – Let me ad that I assume that actually, some of the people who used the term “parasite class” as I described are very nice people. They may very well give to charity, act kindly to their neighbors, tip their gardeners quite well, and appreciate the work of hospice aides. In fact, I’d guess that most of them are charitable people. But people get locked into polemics, through motivated reasoning, that don’t necessarily reflect their deeper character.

    Of course, I just lied when I said that. Even when I was telling the truth. I assume that you Googled as Eli suggested?

    Anyway, I’m going to drop this now. You think I’m lying. I get that. Like I said, I consider that a given. There’s no need for you to keep repeating it, although if you see reason to do so, more power to you.

  248. jim says:

    Getting back more directly to the topic of Keith’s essay,Here’s a question for y’all:When “experts” become “opinion leaders” (aka, Sachs, Krugman), do they compromise their expertise?I mean that in two ways.  First, obviously, when a person becomes tied to an opinion, they may no longer be viewed as non-partisan in the debate.More importantly, though, when a person becomes an opinion leader, they often shift from technical work to political speaking and writing.  Does this shift – aside from the specific opinions they espouse – compromise their expertise?I expect that, to some extent, it does.  Writing and speaking takes time away from technical work.  It’s difficult enough to stay current even when one is engaged full time on tech work.And can the reverse be true as well?  Can technical experts be blind to political realities because of their lack of understanding?  I suspect so. 

  249. Tom Fuller says:

    Jim, there are a class of topics on which I think Jeffrey Sachs could lead opinion through his past experience and expertise.

    Why on Earth would climate be one of them?

  250. harrywr2 says:

    #247 Tom

    But this is a fight that started 50 years ago and was more or less
    concluded with Clinton’s welfare reform act. I don’t want that fight
    re-staged.

    Sorry Tom, but the size and shape of the social safety net will always be debated because the level of sacrifice needed to maintain it continues to change. I.E. When Social Security was the debated the retirement age was set at ‘average expected life expectancy’.

    In 1960 the number of social security recipients(including disability) was 14 million out of a population of  180 million.  Roughly 8% of the population. Last months figures put the number of social security recipients at 61 million out of a population of 311 million. About 20% of the population. Add in welfare and unemployment and the number of people receiving substantial government assistance is 25% of the population. I won’t even get into how many people receive smaller benefits like food stamps, or the 50+ million people on medicaid.

    Something is broken when 25%+ of the population is defined as the least among us deserving of assistance.

  251. Tom C says:

    Joshua – OK, so your interlocutors did not say that children were part of the parasite class, right?

  252. Joshua says:

    Harry –

    A couple of thoughts:

    W/r/t the most recent increases in safety net spending, if you believe in safety net programs, it stands to reason that the % of GDP spent on safety net programs will increase in more difficult economic times.

    The % of safety net benefits directed to the least affluent has declined significantly.

    There is also the issue of how dramatic increase in healthcare cost compares to increases in the other various components of the social safety net spending. In other words, reducing the % of the population that gets SS retirement benefits at any given time will have a limited effect depending on the rate of increase in health care costs. While the % of GDP directed to SS benefits has increased over time, I would imagine that the increase in % of GDP directed towards healthcare benefits has been significantly greater?

    Can we agree that the focus should be on trying to reduce the rate of increase in healthcare costs as the most logical target to prioritize? Wouldn’t that imply that focusing on the comparison of “producers” and people of “low value” is a bit of a misdirection?

  253. Joshua says:

    Oy.

    Is this really necessary?

    Joshua ““ OK, so your interlocutors did not say that children were part of the parasite class, right?

    No. They said that their children were not parasites. Their point was that they choose to support their own children, but paying taxes to support other people’s children made those other children parasites on them.

    Look – Although you think I’m a liar, I’m not casting aspersions at you. I get that you would not make such statements. Why don’t we leave it at that? I am not asking you to speak for all libertarians, just as I would refuse to speak for all lefties ( such as those who call all extremely wealthy people parasites). Why do you feel compelled to speak for all libertarians? 

    The question of interest for me is in exploring the differences between the underlying logic and structure of libertarian ideology and the real world implications. The question for me is whether despite not believing that poor children are parasites, some libertarians might hold on to ideology that makes such an implication logically.

  254. Joshua says:

    (257) Me:

    Sorry – polemic alert.

    I haven’t seen anyone say that people were of “low value.” Only that (paraphrasing) some people are low value producers. My point is that focusing on the question of low value producers versus high value producers is a waste of  time in terms of meaningful outcome.

    Apologies. Polemics are a waste of time also.

  255. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua #232

    But I can’t think of anyone I know who wants to “punish the successful,” let alone “punish the successful rather than help the poor.”

    Clearly nobody is against helping the poor.  You have to examine what people do, not what they say.    

    Where I see examples of this: 

    Punitive carbon taxes are the primary policy tool (make carbon based energy more expensive), but there is no coherent plan on what these funds will be used on, and the plans I have seen would not have any real affect on global carbon intensity.  In effect punish the carbon users for their sins with no useful result.

    The support of anti-nuclear policies in Germany and Japan, and the support for anti-fracking by the environmental movement indicates to me that low price / low carbon energy production is not a priority for most environmentalists, when this is a win-win for society.  They only support high cost / low carbon solutions.  Once again, this reeks of punish the carbon sinners as a primary motivation. 

    The plight of 3rd world countries “suffering” from sea level rise is prominent, when I expect the 3rd world has much more need for clean water, irrigation, immunization, etc. than building sea walls and wind mills.  This is not a serious policy for helping the poor.

    There is example after example of favored environmentalist policies that are incoherent in the objective/results measurement.  I question the motivation of those who back these policies.

  256. willard says:

    Punitive. No coherent plan. Punish. Sins. Environmentalists. Punish. Not serious.

    I question the motivation.

  257. Tom Scharf says:

    #247 Tom Fuller

    Interesting anti-libertarian rant.  I’m not a libertarian, but some of my best friends are, ha ha.

    The flaw in this argument is that you assume the progressive side does not want to re-litigate any past issues, when clearly they do.  Obamacare was a significant re-litigation in healthcare for example.

    Both sides are always exerting maximum force politically to move the rope to their side in the tug of war.  It would be nice if both sides would drop the rope and walk away, but that requires trust, and that is not going to happen in our current political environment in the USA.  A lot of energy is expended just keeping the rope where it is, and that is wasted energy I will agree.  

  258. jeffn says:

    Tom Fuller:
    “These goals require us to pay more to the government, knowing that the government is inefficient, knowing that some of the recipients are not…”

    Actually, the problem is that liberalism wants the stuff without the sacrifice. Oh, sure, they claim that some “rich” guy will sacrifice for it but anyone with access to a calculator knows that’s not true. So what they actually do is borrow from future generations to pay for today’s freebies.
    The amount of government that we are actually willing to sacrifice to pay for is about a trillion $ less than what we’re getting.
    That’s not, ahem, sustainable.

  259. Joshua says:

    (260) TS –

    Clearly nobody is against helping the poor.

    From where I sit, this looks like a failure to answer my questions.

    I will repost my comment that I was asking you to address – in hopes of refocusing your attention to my questions (with a little bit of additional bold added):

    But I can’t think of anyone I know who wants to “punish the successful,”
    let alone “punish the successful rather than help the poor.”

    Perhaps in spite of my verbosity, I’m kind of a stickler for language. I need you to concentrate on the words I highlighted.

    I will also repeat the follow-on questions I asked, with one added (in bold):

    Have you actually met such people? Can you describe them a bit? How did you meet them? How did you determine what they “want?”

    Now the other issues you raised in 260 are worth some discussion; this is, after all, a blog thematically more closely related to the topics you discussed in 260. But I ain’t gonna go there with you until you address my questions more directly. This is a matter of trust, for me.

    If there is no intent to engage with good faith, I would predict little other than continued pedantic banter. I mean I sometimes find that fun – but I was hoping to get something more out of this thread.

    I need you to address the questions I raised in order for me to feel like trust is being established.

    It is often difficult for me to interpret Willard’s comments, but my sense is that his response to you contains some clues w/r/t addressing my questions.

  260. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua,

    I answered your question.  As I stated I discern what they want through their actions, not their rhetoric.  Their policy proposals do not match their rhetoric.  Envy and class warfare dominate some people’s agenda, but not most people.  I am asserting that these extreme views have shown up in the policy proposals to the detriment of all, and the certain failure of the policy.

    If you are looking for the alleged existence of people who are solely interesting in punishing people, I suggest you read the most recent posts on the *moderate* RC forum where in the comments they discuss the merits of a “Nuremberg Tribunal for Climate Saboteurs”.

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=12730#comment-244898 

    You can’t make this stuff up.  It’s over the top, even for RC.  

  261. PDA says:

    A lot of energy is expended just keeping the rope where it is, and that is wasted energy I will agree.  

    Another point of agreement for the armistice. 

    I wonder how long a list we could come up with if we tried.

  262. BBD says:

    PDA

    Unless it includes some degree of acceptance that the case for low climate sensitivity doesn’t stack up while that for ~3C ECS does, then what’s the point?

    And it won’t. Sorry for being negative, but we’ve all been around long enough to know that I’m only stating the obvious, not trying to poison a well.

  263. Joshua says:

    (265) TS –

    Just to be clear, from where I sit, you still haven’t answered my questions:

    As I stated I discern what they want through their actions, not their rhetoric.  Their policy proposals do not match their rhetoric.  Envy and class warfare dominate some people’s agenda, but not most people.

    You fail to account for a very real possibility – that people “want” specific policies for reasons other than what you state, and that while you interpret the likely outcome of their advocated policies to be negative in balance, you have failed to accurately account for what the “want.”

    Discussion about where their proposed policies might lead seems to me to the the heart of the matter – but if you’re determined what they “want,” and that they “want” to “punish the successful,” and even further that they want to “punish the successful rather than help the poor,” then you should provide some evidence to back up our assertions. You have provided no evidence that proves that what you have offered for what they “want” is any more likely than what I have offered.   

    Envy and class warfare dominate some people’s agenda, but not most people. 

    This is another example of what I’m talking about. Now I have been told, many, many times, that because I think that very wealthy people should pay a higher effective tax rate, I am “envious” of the rich. I am told that envy dominates my political agenda. Many, many times.

    Well, in some ways I am envious of people who have a lot of money. I’m also envious of people who live a simple lifestyle and live in a beautiful spot where they’re close to nature. I’m envious of people who can dunk a basketball. I’m envious of handsome movie stars because they can always have a beautiful woman on their arms. I’m envious of very smart people. I’m envious of good writers. There is a long list of the types of people I envy. But envy does not dominate my feelings towards anyone on that list. I would also far prefer my own life to that of many rich people, or movie stars, or people who can dunk basketballs.

    The majority of Americans think that extremely wealthy people should pay more in taxes. Is that because they envy dominates their agenda? Well, you said “not most people.” Fine – but how do you determine which of those Americans who think that the extremely rich should pay more in taxes are dominated by an agenda of envy and which aren’t? If a majority want to raise taxes on the rich and most of them aren’t dominated by envy, then you must have some criteria that you are using to make the distinction.

    That is why I addressed those follow-on questions to you more than once. I was trying to get you to elaborate on the criteria you use. I wanted to know how you checked for your own biases in making your determination. 

    Look, I said that from where I sit you haven’t answered my question. And you responded that you had answered my question. So as I see it, there are a couple of possibilities (let me know if you see others).

    One is that  you didn’t answer my question and knew you didn’t answer my question and are ducking your failure to do so.

    Another is that you didn’t realize that you hadn’t answered my question. Well, we’ve ruled that one out, haven’t we? Because you didn’t try to then modify your response to answer my questions. (all you did was repeat essentially what you said earlier after stating that you had already answered my questions)

    Another is that you answered my question and my own biases prevent me from seeing that. Could be. It is all a matter of trust. If you trust me, then you will see that the third of those possibilities doesn’t reflect what took place. If you don’t trust me, then you can pick that third possibility and we can go about our merry ways. Like I said, it is all a matter of trust. Without trust, exchanging views is rather pointless.

    So let’s just go back to the petulant (I misspoke when I said pedantic, earlier) banter. It can be fun also. I’ll save the serious attempt to exchange views for those who trust me.

    Let me know if and/or when you take a different perspective on my input into the debate.

  264. willard says:

    > I wonder how long a list we could come up with if we tried.

    Me too, so put that wondering into the bucket list.

  265. Tom Scharf says:

    Joshua,

    I’m a very handsome movie star who can dunk a basketball, how does that make you feel?  Look, I provided numerous examples to you, you are simply ignoring these inconvenient examples on a nebulous subtext of not answering a question.  This subject is well worn and we could write each others posts.

    The rich should pay taxes, and it should be fair.  The tax system should be progressive.  There is a legitimate debate on what is a fair tax.  I would submit that many people don’t even know how much the rich already pay, but yet demand they should pay “more”.  This is an example of illegitimate debate and class warfare.

    There is a legitimate debate on what level of services the govt should provide.  There is not a legitimate debate on whether entitlements should be paid for with taxes or borrowed revenue.  There is a legitimate debate on whether the US should take advantage of historically low interest rates to borrow revenue cheap for long term infrastructure projects (if only I trusted the govt to spend the money wisely…).

  266. Nullius in Verba says:

    #229,

    “I can’t see the criterion you used to select the factors you mentioned and neglect the ones I mentioned in your goal towards brevity.”

    Steve Mennie had taken my comment: “And then when it all goes wrong, anyone who has anything saved up will be expected to contribute that to dig them out of the mess.” and connected it to events on Wall Street. “a whole whack “˜o dough was ponied up to bailout banks and investment houses”.

    My original point was that socialists use other people’s money to fund their grand schemes, make promises that other people will have to pay back on, and when it all goes wrong, it won’t be them that has to pay to fix it. Steve Mennie tried to turn the force of that round with a tu quoque – that bankers had made promises with other people’s money, made a mess, and got bailed out. My counterpoint was that it was actually a good example of what I had originally said: socialists had funded their egalitarian scheme with the banks’ money, and when it went wrong, used taxpayers’ money to try to fix it.

    It’s true certain people in finance had taken advantage of the politician’s stupidity and made it worse, but that wasn’t the root cause of the disaster. And it’s not relevant to showing how it was an example of what I said.

    You say I picked things from column A and not column B. (You missed what I said about what “A bunch of stupid and irresponsible people” did?) However, Steve Mennie picked from column B and none from A, but you didn’t pick him up on that. Why do you suppose that is? And why did you feel the need to point out that I had only given part of the story, when you didn’t feel that way about Steve?

    “Yes, we were talking about capitalism ““ but we weren’t talking about the merits of capitalism relative to other systems of government.”

    The distinction escapes me.

    “By your logic, since they get paid for their work, their work has real value.”

    Yes. I’m starting to get the impression we’re talking at cross purposes.

    “I would argue that you can’t actually judge the value of work on the basis of how much someone gets paid”

    That’s true. Wealth is any stuff people want that is difficult to obtain. If people want to help others, want to feel good about themselves, want poverty and suffering to be alleviated, then achieving that counts as wealth too. People are paid with more than money.

    “It seems now that you would agree that me telling you that you pay too much in taxes would be condescending.”

    Actually, I wouldn’t. I probably wouldn’t even notice. I might disagree, but I’d just regard it as an opinion like any other.

    I didn’t really understand why you felt it condescending, but I accepted that you did. Presumably, then, you should think the same when people tell me what I mean or what I intend?

    “As I said before, the majority of Americans think that their taxes are fair.”

    I think the majority of Americans have very little understanding of the ultimate implications of their policies on taxes and spending. Neither did the Greeks.

    #230,

    Thanks for the defence – seriously – but I really don’t mind that sort of thing. If you’re going to talk with people who disagree with you you’re going to get insulted, sometimes violently. You won’t last long if you let yourself be bothered by it. Plus if people see they’re getting to you emotionally, they’ll just do it all the more. Don’t take it personally, and be tolerant.

    I don’t know, it might help.

  267. Nullius in Verba says:

    #233,

    “The linking aspect of those tens of millions of people is that they rely (to one degree or another) on government assistance.”

    Ah! That sounds a little more likely!

    These are two distinct issues. Libertarians fully support the idea of people doing dirty jobs on minimal wages, as a better alternative to doing no job. They would of course much prefer that the person was able to get a nice job on high wages, but dirty jobs make a positive contribution, and can slowly build the resources to get people out of poverty.

    But reliance on government assistance is a separate issue. The issue is not the job they’re doing, or its value to society, but the fact they are taking what they haven’t earnt.

    Libertarian morality is usually a little more nuanced about it, though. Regarding the people taking the aid, I think most libertarians would only condemn them if they were not doing everything they could to stand on their own two feet. There are a lot of people on welfare that one can only feel sympathy for. In their case one might still condemn the practice (it’s not the best response to the problem) without condemning the people. But at the same time there are a whole load of people on benefits who don’t deserve such sympathy, who exploit and take advantage of the system, and it is those that the epithet is generalising about.

    Except for the most severely disabled, the purpose of any welfare should be to get people off welfare as soon as possible. Welfare should be conditional on utilising any productive capacity people have, and directed to expanding it. And from a moral point of view, it should be received with gratitude for the generous aid of others in society, not resentment that it isn’t more. Your ladies doing the dirty jobs are not the ones being complained about.

  268. Joshua says:

    (270) TS –

     Look, I provided numerous examples to you,…

    Let me remind you, again, of what you said (let me try some new bolding to help get the point across):

    This is a very difficult concept for some to acknowledge, particularly those who are more driven by wanting to punish the successful rather than help the poor.  

    I asked you to provide the criteria you use to make your assessment.  You haven’t done so. You have responded repeatedly without doing so. You provided evidence of some folks who want to punish people they believe deliberately distort important scientific information. Whether you agree with their assessment of the people they want to punish or not, it comes nowhere close to an example of what you stated.

    Repeatedly asserting something does not make it so.I see no reason to bother responding to or even reading the rest of what you wrote unless you can deal with basic and obvious facts. I read the first part of the second sentence, and can’t get past your inaccuracy.

    BTW – I do agree with the sentiment you expressed on the thread that you linked.

  269. Nullius in Verba says:

    #252,

    “As part of their explanation, they linked to dictionary definitions of parasite […]The argument went that if one persons lives off of and relies on other people for sustenance, they are by definition a parasite.”

    It’s ironic that in giving a dictionary definition they got it wrong. It’s only parasitism if the relationship is involuntary on the part of the supporter.

    There is no problem at all with one person giving aid to another if it’s voluntary. In fact, charity is encouraged. If politicians want to give all their own money to the poor, that’s fine. If all the believers in welfare were all to get together, put money into a big fund, and pay welfare out of that, that would be fine too. It’s their money, and their choice. That’s what liberty is all about.

    The issue is that they’re not spending their own money, they’re taking money from other people and spending that instead. You tell me that most Americans think their taxes are fair, and they support welfare. OK, so set it up as a voluntary scheme, have all those people pay in to it, and do it that way. Because if you did, the libertarians would cheer you on 100%.

    There’s nothing stopping you setting up such a scheme. Can you see any reason why it wouldn’t work?

    #258,

    “The question for me is whether despite not believing that poor children are parasites, some libertarians might hold on to ideology that makes such an implication logically.”

    Children are an investment. Like any investment, you pour money in at the start without any immediate return. But this is a worthwhile activity, because at the end of it you get a skilful and productive adult, who returns far more to society than they took. (If you poured money in to adults to make them productive, that would be worthwhile too.)

    Poor children are no different to poor adults. Investment to make somebody productive is good sense. Investment that results in nothing but wasted resources and further expense is not. Things that are good sense can be done at a profit by private business. Things that are not require government.

  270. willard says:

    > Like I said, it is all a matter of trust.

    Perhaps for you, Joshua, but I prefer quotes.

  271. willard says:

    Pop quiz:

    The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion.

    Who wrote that?

  272. Joshua says:

    (271) NiV -I fully assumed everything you stated about your personal beliefs that you wrote in that post. What you say about most libertarians is not consistent with my experience. Most libertarians I’ve run into state that welfare in itself promotes a “culture of dependency,” and for that reason society would be better without “handouts” as a general principle. I don’t see the type of nuance you express in your statements of your own beliefs. If I did, then I would have much more sympathy with what I see as typical libertarian ideology. Here’s what I think – totally speculative: Most of those libertarians I’m speaking of would not actually want to take away any sort of “handouts,” but they argue in favor of doing so because their positions do not reflect their underlying values.

    But at the same time there are a whole load of people on benefits who don’t deserve such sympathy, who exploit and take advantage of the system, and it is those that the epithet is generalising about….

    Do you have some evidence that supports what I’ve bolded?

  273. Joshua says:

    (274, 275)  Willard

    Trust but verify?As to your quote, I suspect he had something in common with the source of my quote.

  274. Nullius in Verba says:

    #247,

    “Libertarians place their liberty at a premium. What I think they often forget is that non-libertarians do, too. […] Nor do I insist that libertarians make that sacrifice and I don’t automatically disrespect them for the choice they have made.”

    If you do it voluntarily, you’re not sacrificing any liberty.

    What I think you’re talking about here is the concept of the social contract. Thomas Hobbes argued that people were naturally in a state of war, and to avoid this they voluntarily yielded their rights to an absolute monarch in exchange for peace. Locke argued against this asserting inalienable rights, which could not be given up to any government. Rousseau argued that people had to freely choose to abide by the social contract to be accepted as a part of society – that these were not alienated because the people retained sovereignty, delegating powers to government.

    Bringing up Social Contract theory usually results in a lively debate amongst libertarians. I can’t generalise about libertarians on this, since there are several schools of thought, but the general thrust of many arguments is that a contract requires active consent, that the idea of the Social Contract isn’t an accurate description of the actual situation as it normally arises in most cases but a back-construction to legitimise government power after the fact, and that the only liberties you can legitimately give up to government are those implied by the Harm Principle. The government shouldn’t go beyond that, and you shouldn’t let them.

    I know that most people will not be persuaded, and I’m more relaxed about that than the average libertarian, most of the time. People disagree – that’s what debate is for. This is just my own view.

  275. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    Poor children are no different to poor adults. Investment to make somebody productive is good sense. Investment that results in nothing
    but wasted resources and further expense is not. Things that are good sense can be done at a profit by private business. Things that are not require government.

    Nice to see. Most libertarians I’ve argued with are against public funding of education for children. Even when I show them studies that show a 20 to 1 return to society on investment in early childhood education (the earlier in the child’s life the investment the better the return), they argue that they don’t want to pay to educate other people’s children. They opposed public education on principle.

  276. willard says:

    We should bear in mind that social contract theory is an abstraction. There is no such thing as an actual social contract.

    Imagine invisible handshakes.

  277. willard says:

    I don’t see why children should not be seen as a social investment. They’re the tax payers of the future.

  278. Nullius in Verba says:

    #277,

    “Do you have some evidence that supports what I’ve bolded?”

    Personally, yes. I’ve lived in slums on rough council estates, and I’ve worked with welfare recipients. But it’s not something I can produce for you here.

    This is where I used to live.

  279. Tom Fuller says:

    NiV, can I ask if you serve on a jury when requested and if you signed up for Selective Service? (That’s assuming you live in the U.S.–if not, I’m sure you can substitute other assumed obligations of the citizenry.)

  280. BBD says:

    Heh. I’m from Macclesfield. Small world.

  281. mt says:

    #279 NiV: “Investment to make somebody productive is good sense. Investment that results in nothing but wasted resources and further expense is not. “

    Wasteful spending is wasteful! How insightful!But I see no argument that investments in something other than “productivity” or “production” is necessarily wasteful, under prevailing ethics and social contracts, though. 

    Consider providing comfortable hospice care as an instance. Clearly there is no “productive” purpose whatsoever. Just dignity for poor people who are going to die anyway! What a horrible idea! Right? What a waste of empathy!

  282. Tom Fuller says:

    Investment in what makes a group of people something more than a group of people has rarely been wasteful in the past. Even Sparta raised their children at public expense.Caring for the elderly at public expense has often freed their children to continue being productive members of society rather than full time caregivers–but that’s not why it’s a good idea. It’s a good idea because we hope for such care in our old age. If we cannot hope for it we make very different decisions about our life’s future directions. Those decisions tend to detract from the overall well-being of society. But that’s not why we care for the elderly. I have yet to see an example of common decency that was not ultimately good for the society in which it occurred.

  283. Eli Rabett says:

    You know, the truth is that many of the rich, especially those  who inherited their wealth ARE parasites.  OTOH, there are those who made their own wealth who are criminals.

  284. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    I would guess that our life experiences with people on assistance isn’t all that different. I live in a neighborhood where the median family income is about $10,000 more than the threshold for poverty rates. My immediate area has a lot of nice, big old homes, but the surrounding area is one of the poorer neighborhoods in a city that has about a 25% poverty rate. About 1/2 mile from my house:http://farm1.static.flickr.com/42/87070570_8624662790_z.jpg?zz=1Yet, I don’t share your perspective. I think boatload would be smaller than yours. Go figure.

    I hate burden of proof arguments – but you did make the statement. I don’t think you have a “burden of proof,” but I would like to see some data.

  285. mt says:

    #287 Yes. Usually what goes around comes around.

    Even if it does not benefit the society materially, it is the right of a free society as a whole to invest in things which are beneficial in other ways than material. 

  286. willard says:

    I’m not sure that saying

    > Children are beneficial to a society.

    makes sense.

    The utilitarian framework imposes strong limits.

  287. Steve Mennie says:

    NiV…Bankers make promises with other peoples money all the time..isn’t that what bankers do? In the case of the most recent Wall St. meltdown you say “socialists had funded their egalitarian scheme with the banks money…”Could you unpack this statement for me…by ‘socialists’ are you referring to Fanney Mae and Freddy Mac..? And are you further saying that rushing to the brink of disaster was all the fault of poor people borrowing money they couldn’t afford and that only “certain people in finance had taken advantage of the politicians’s stupidity and made it worse…”

  288. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    Your ladies doing the dirty jobs are not the ones being complained about.

    Reading through your posts again, all I can tell you is that your notion of the run of the mill libertarian – of the type I run into on a regular basis – is hopelessly naive. The contempt I run across for the “parasite class” is nothing similar to the ideology you describe. I have had libertarians tell me, with absolute certainty, that there is a genetic component to intergenerational poverty. Despite the existence of intergenerational poverty throughout history, they tell me with absolute certainty that “handouts” breeds a culture of dependency and that is what explains the cycle of poverty in the U.S.

    Lack of access to education is considered basically irrelevant as a cause of poverty – and so public funding for education should be eliminated and education should be available on a fee-for-service basis. The Department of Education should be disbanded. The country was better off before the establishment of public education. Public funding for research, including medical research should be eliminated. State funded public health programs, sch as vaccination programs should be eliminated. Federal agencies like the NRA should be disbanded – no oversight of nuclear safety is necessary.

    We don’t need public health inspections because all they do is actually create health hazards by the very existence of regulations; the belief is that the private sector will eliminate public health hazards as a function of the profit motivation. Public infrastructure spending should be eliminated because the private sector is better at doing things like building roads (despite that our roads were terrible before they were funded by the federal government). Even private/public partnerships should be eliminated.

    The poverty in my city (Philadelphia) exists because it has been in the hands of Democrats who only want to tax, tax, tax as they “dupe” urban blacks into voting against their own best interests. Social Security should be eliminated. Progressive taxation should be eliminated and is unconstitutional. The Civil War was actually a “War of Northern Aggression.” Lincoln was a dictator.

    I could go on with much more. I see this day after day in the comments section of a major newspaper. Hundreds of comments daily by a fairly large number of commenters. Go to the comments section of virtually any “conservative” website in this country and you will find slews of comments based on similar ideology.

    As I said, I tend to think that many people who profess these beliefs are stating positions that don’t truly represent their underlying values. They are rallying around partisan polemics that coalesce around hatred of all things “liberal.” And there is little doubt that comments on blogs or newspaper websites or rightwing websites are a decided sub-section of the public. But these folks do exist and there is a lot of crossover with mainstream libertarians. The Republican Party has very deliberately reached out to extremist elements. Objective evaluations show the the Republican Party (and SCOTUS) may well be the most extremist in decades if not considerably longer. Look, for example, at the linkage between Republican politicians and groups like the John Birch society.

    I disagree strongly with much of the ideology you have expressed in these comments, but your ideology is far more palatable then what I read from libertarian after libertarian in the blogosphere. The problem is that I don’t see a hard line of distinction between the underlying ideology of your beliefs and the positions they state. It seems to me that the lines that you draw are not ideologically grounded but based on moral considerations. If you have some ideological objection to people relying on “other people’s money” given “involuntarily,” how do you determine with some specificity who is a “parasite” and who is doing their best to earn as much as they can?

    Your solution is an entirely unrealistic fantasized notion of a voluntary system. Sure, it’s a  nice idea. But it has never been created on a significant scale in the history of the planet. In contrast, what we see is a direct correlation between things like the existence of a welfare state and the elevation of a standard of living, poverty reduction, an educated populace, access to healthcare, etc. Where is your country where there is a good standard of living and where people don’t have to suffer the “unfairness” of paying taxes “involuntarily” to support other people’s children? It doesn’t exist. I has never existed in the history of the planet.

  289. Joshua says:

    NiV –

    It’s true certain people in finance had taken advantage of the politician’s stupidity and made it worse, but that wasn’t the root cause of the disaster.

    You can only make that argument stand up by ignoring the factors I listed. That was my point. There were a multiplicity of underlying factors. There was no one “root cause” of the disaster. 

    I didn’t really understand why you felt it condescending, but I accepted that you did.

    And I don’t understand why that would be difficult to understand. Who are you to tell me that I pay more in taxes than what I receive in return? I’m repeating myself, but clearly I am the one to make that determination. It’s not like I’m going to write home about it, but actually, I find your inability to understand why it is condescending to be more problematic than the original statement (which yes, could just be considered an opinion although it wasn’t stated as an opinion. It was stated as a fact). 

    Anyway, I suspect this horse crossed over a long time ago. Hopefully Keith will put up another post and put us all out of our misery.

  290. Joshua says:

    Actually NiV –

    I guess I was wrong. I just discovered there is more diversity among American conservatives than I thought w/r/t taxes.

    Lubbock County Judge Tom Head and Commissioner Mark Heinrich went into
    great detail Monday night on FOX 34 News @ Nine about why it is necessary to raise the tax rate by 1.7 cents the next fiscal year

    Judge Head said he and the county must be prepared for many contingencies, one that he particularly fears, is if President Obama is reelected.

    “He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN, and what is going to happen when that happens?,” Head asked. “I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe.
    And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.

    “Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County.
    OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say ‘you’re not coming in here’.

    I have to hope that this is too far-fetched to be true? Maybe some kind of  mistake in reporting? http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/news/local/story/Lubbock-tom-head-tax-rates-president-obama/PeO4Q8GeGEiy_FpxheUnmA.cspx

  291. Steve Mennie says:

    …”Anyway, I suspect this horse crossed over a long time ago. Hopefully Keith will put up another post and put us all out of our misery…” Well said, joshua.

  292. steven mosher says:

    I love Joshua’s personal anecdotes about libertarians he runs into. As a libertarian I would hazard that I’ve run into many more over the past 30+ years. None has ever held what Joshua purports to be commonly held beliefs. Now, imagine if Keith were to claim something about what enviromentalists believe. who would be clamoring for evidence, and who would find keith’s personal anecdotes about enviros he had talked to unconvincing?

  293. Nullius in Verba says:

    #284,

    I don’t understand the question.

    #285,

    Indeed.

    #286,

    Hospice care is production – see my definition of ‘wealth’ above. It’s just particularly easy, requiring no great skills, and for which there is therefore a more than adequate supply.

    It would be more productive use of their labour to solve a harder problem, like being a doctor or an engineer. But you can only take what you can get.

    #287,

    Public education is much less problematic than public welfare, because you do get a lot back. There are still problems with it though, in that there is no penalty for failure. If none of the kids come out able to read or write, the school doesn’t go bust – it asks for more money from the state. We were talking earlier about the failures of mathematics education…

    #288,

    A lot of people have that view.

    #292,

    “Could you unpack this statement for me”¦by “˜socialists’ are you referring to Fanney Mae and Freddy Mac..?”

    No. I meant Democrat politicians and community organisers who set the new legislation up. Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were just the means the politicians used to get the taxpayer to underwrite it.

    “And are you further saying that rushing to the brink of disaster was all the fault of poor people borrowing money they couldn’t afford”

    No, definitely not! The fault was on the part of the people insisting that the loans be allowed.

  294. KK way the hell back there somewhere, replying to Josh:”Input your comments here…I don’t know what you’re suggesting. I really don’t. Perhaps you should spell it out more clearly.”Oh my goodness, really?  OK,  let me help you out here:  If you’re OK with the current signal-to-noise on your blog, keep up your current schtick, which is basically ‘hall monitor’ (thanks mosh!) of the climate- and environnment-concerned.  If not, try a new schtick and see if that raises the S/N.  Signed,Not holding my breath

  295. And btw I give up on trying to format this shit.

  296. kdk33 says:

    The Civil War was actually a “War of Northern Aggression.”

    Where I am from, it is generally referred to as: “the recent unpleasantness”.

  297. Joshua says:

    So mosher signs on to complain that I’m doing the same thing that I criticize Keith for doing by leveling the same criticism against me as the one I level against Keith?

    I’m going to lobby my Congressman to have an official name change: Instead of “blogosphere,” we need to change the name to “ironosphere” 

    The budget proposal of Rand Paul, perhaps the second-highest profile and most powerful libertarians in the country.Google “The Northern War of Aggression.”

    Google Lew Rockwell and read some of his stuff.

    Then Google Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul.Look around a bit at perhaps the highest profile and most powerful libertarian in the country and his connections to Neo-Confederates. Stuff like this.Check out  how Paul feels about federal funding of medical research (in particular his stated views on AIDS reserach):

    Closer to home, look at how “libertarians” respond when over at Judith’s crib “Chief” talks about his libertarian perspective on federal spending. And if you really want to have a good laugh, Google Alex Jones.

    steven – I find it heartening that you’ve been a libertarian that long and never run into anyone espousing these beliefs. That doesn’t mean, however, that such folks are very difficult to find. I qualified my remarks. I said that I run into these folks in the comments sections on Internet blogs a lot. There are a lot of them. They are a sub-section of the American public. There is cross-over between these fellas and mainstream libertarians, and the Republican Party is pandering to elements of extremist libertarianism. Which aspect my qualifications do you disagree with?

    .

  298. willard says:

    Joshua,

    As Garry Kasparov and Ron Broberg said: trust but verify.

    So please pay due diligence to the “parasite” meme and do a search on http://www.breibart.com.

    Let’s see what’ll come out.

    Then ask Moshpit if he knew Andrew Breibart.

  299. Tom C says:

    Joashua – I think you like to hear yourself talk.  Not a good character trait.  You might want to think of a blog as a conversation.  If someone comes up to you and says two sentences, do you respond with 17 paragraphs, pause for a minute and then put out 20 more?  Might be a bit off-putting, no?

  300. Marlowe Johnson says:

    you mean this Steve Mosher Willard:

    Obamacare will then be used as Obama, Reid and Pelosi intended, as a vehicle to promote and perform abortions. 

    It seems to me that our choice as Americans is simple: Either we euthanize ObamaCare before it is too late, or it winds up euthanizing us.  

    the interested reader will note a curious pattern in Mosher’s arguments and the sources he chooses to use. Kind of like Sashka a while back.

  301. willard says:

    Tom C,

    I think you like to talk about Joshua.

    So, what was your textbook recommendation, again?

    ***

    Erratum

    The website is breitbart.com, with two t’s.

  302. Marlowe Johnson says:

    The interested reader can find an updated CBO assessment of ‘ObamaCare’ here. Mosher, who of course isn’t an idealogue, might find that he’s wrong on this issue, as he has been on others in the past.Facts are such inconvenient things sometimes.

  303. willard says:

    Marlowe,

    Please consider this:

    Make no mistake: America is in a media war.

    […]

    The Left does not win its battles in debates. It doesn’t have to. In the twenty-first century, media is everything. The Left wins because it controls the narrative. The narrative is controlled by the media. The Left *is* the media. Narrative is everything.

    Lackoff whines about the opposite, but nevermind.

    Or perhaps we should mind: it seems that, from everyone’s standpojnt, who controls the media is the opponent.

    No wonder Keith feels the heat from time to time from righteous indignation by those whom we should excuse while they save the world.

  304. Joshua says:

    For some reason this post is getting flagged by the filter. I have to break it up into chunks to find the problem:Part I:Thanks for that comment, Willard. I’m not exactly sure I understand it – but as per usual, your pearls of enigma contain useful information. In fact, I’d call it rather spectacular.

    I searched at Breitbart (your link didn’t work, btw) for “parasite.”

    Here’s one return:

    The Heritage index uses information on almost three dozen important federal programs on which Americans depend for cash income and other
    support—including housing assistance, Medicaid,
    Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance benefits, educational benefits, and farm-income supports-
    –but it is scarcely a comprehensive
    measure, inasmuch as the total number of federal programs with dependents is gigantic at present. Of course, each such program has government employees and contractors who run it and hence depend on it to earn much, if not all, of their income. Government civilian and military retirees add millions more to the ranks.

    The Heritage researchers found that in 1962, 21.7 million persons depended on the programs they included in their index for benefits. By
    2009, the corresponding number of dependents had grown to 64.3 million. Adding dependents not included in the Heritage study might easily
    increase the number to more than 100 million, or to more than a third of the entire population. Thus, the parasites verge ever closer to outnumbering their hosts.

  305. Marlowe Johnson says:

    apparently Rupert Murdoch didn’t get the memo. 

    oh and it’s ‘lakoff’, unless of course you are referring to some other whiny crypto-klepto-leftist-hippie linguist.

  306. Louise says:

    BBD and NiV – I’m from Salford (very small world)

  307. Joshua says:

    Part II:

    Now there’s no way that you can convince me that included in the group that is verging “closer to outnumbering their hosts,” could be only  the severely disabled or some such description. Surely, for a number that large, the label of  “parasite” is being used to describe working poor, elderly on Medicare, and children born into poverty.

    Right?

    OK – so one article by one dude on the Internet. Doesn’t mean much in full context. But it does suggest that I’m not exactly tilting at windmills here as some might suggest.

    Wikipedia on Robert Higgs:

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

  308. Tom C says:

    Well Willard, maybe starting with a textbook is not a great idea.  I would suggest, instead, “Eat the Rich” by P J ORourke which is a humorous examination of economic ideas, but is very solidly based on widely agreed-upon principles.  “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell is good, written informally, and does not rely on any math.  Regarding Joshua, maybe it’s his “broad and deep” anecdotal knowledge (recently on display regarding libertarians) that puts me off.  I don’t much like pretension.

  309. Tom C says:

    Joshua – I believe I am to blame for this thread veering into economics.  My original observation was that many prominent climate alarmist bloggers simply don’t believe in free-market economics.  For all the yapping about “consensus” it is odd that they don’t accept the truly overwhelming consensus of trained economists.  I am not a libertarian, but I bet NiV (libertarian), Fuller (progressive), and I, while maybe disagreeing about the scope of regulation and safety net, all accept that socialism is not superior to the free market.  Eli, Tamino, Connelly, well…I don’t think so.

  310. Marlowe Johnson says:

    For all the yapping about “consensus” it is odd that they don’t accept the truly overwhelming consensus of trained economists.  

    Tom could you remind us what ‘the truly overwhelming consensus of trained economists’ is wrt to climate mitigation policy?

  311. willard says:

    Tom C,

    Thank you for your reading suggestions. I’ll try to take a look when I find the round tuit. Your thought experiment about converting words in timed conversation is a good one.

    ***

    Marlowe,

    I stand corrected. You’re right, it’s that George Lakoff:

    Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?

    Because they’ve put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce saying that all of our best students are becoming anti-business because of the Vietnam War, and that we needed to do something about it. Powell’s agenda included getting wealthy conservatives to set up professorships, setting up institutes on and off campus where intellectuals would write books from a conservative business perspective, and setting up think tanks. He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and the Manhattan Institute after that. [There are many others, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford, which date from the 1940s.]

    http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/10/27_lakoff.shtml

    And yet, the Left is the media.

    Moshpit won’t mind me alluding to Lakoff. He seems to prefer his theories way more than I do.

  312. willard says:

    Joshua,

    Conveying information via “pearls of enigma” is being done since the dawn of mankind.

    Enigma can be fun.

    Even without secret ingredients (hint: Kung Fu Panda) miracles can happen (hint: the Miracle Worker).

    No, not the movie about Helen Keller.

  313. Tom Scharf says:

    Marlowe,

    I think RPJ’s iron law principle is a start on an a relevant economic consensus with regards to environmentalism.  I think this has been demonstrated repeated in “actual observations”. The amount of effort wasted chasing unicorns (unworkable global treaties, etc.) is immense. Focusing on economically viable options may be the *only* path to success

    …experience shows quite clearly that when environmental and economic objectives are placed into opposition with one another in public or political forums, the economic goals win out. I call this the iron law of climate policy. Opinion polls show that the public is indeed willing to pay some amount for attaining environmental goals, just as it is with respect to other societal goals. However, the public has its limits as to how much it is willing to pay.

  314. Tom Scharf says:

    This thread has lost its way, maybe we should discuss what constitutes a case of “legitimate” rape, ha ha.

  315. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Tom,

    RPJr isn’t an economist, so by definition he isn’t part of any consensus among economists. Care to try again?

  316. Tom Scharf says:

    Just to clarify, by economically viable I will provide an example of an global treaty that has the US paying a disproportionate amount of the cost has a zero, zilch, nada, chance of passing in the US Congress (see Kyoto).   Even a proportionate treaty has a very low chance when a compelling case can be made it will hurt the US economy.  Pretending this reality doesn’t exist it what makes the global treaty process a sham from day one.

  317. Tom Scharf says:

    I hereby cede any expertise on what economists say about anything.  Economic models are one of the few things I hold is lower regard for real world usefulness than climate models.  If we are talking about the proven merits of socialism vs capitalism, I think you will have an uphill struggle with this one.  I’m not even sure what anyone is arguing about here.

  318. harrywr2 says:

    #293 JoshuaSorry, but we had universal public education in the US before we had a US Department of Education. You are conflating a discussion as to whether the Federal Government is the appropriate place to mange public education with whether or not public education is a good thing.

    As far as libertarians believing that poverty breeds poverty etc etc.

    There is more then anecdotal evidence that the level of importance given to education at home is a strong indicator of educational outcome. I actually know a school principal in an ‘impoverished neighborhood’. She has to put out free food to get the parents to show up for parent teacher conferences. 

    My dear elderly mother has a wall covered in Journalism Awards. She didn’t get them because she has a ‘quality education’ provided by the state. She only has a high school degree from an extremely small rural school district. She got them because my Grandmother played scrabble with her all the time when she was a child.

    ‘The State’ makes a mighty poor substitute for ‘good parenting’.

    All you have to do to understand the ‘banking crisis’ is look at the debt levels as a ratio of GDP. Private debt in the US exceeded 150% of GDP in 1929 and peaked in 1931/2 above 200% of GDP. Private debt did not exceeded 150% of GDP again until 1986 and peaked out at around 300% of GDP in 2009. We went 22 years past the point of where alarm bells should have been ringing.

    If you would like to discuss ‘predatory lending practices’ then student loans would be a really good place to start.

    We loan students money with absolutely no evaluation as to whether or not the chosen  ‘career path’ of the student has any likelihood of resulting in enough income to repay the loan. In addition, student  loans are generally not dischargable in bankruptcy.

  319. BBD says:

    @ #311 Louise

    Salford eh? So we’ve got one yob from Macc and two car thieves on this thread… 😉 For some reason Fuller thinks I’m Bob ‘Oskins. Who’s going to break it to him that he’s imagining me with the wrong accent?

  320. steven mosher says:

    you mean this Steve Mosher Willard:

    Obamacare will then be used as Obama, Reid and Pelosi intended, as a vehicle to promote and perform abortions.

    It seems to me that our choice as Americans is simple: Either we euthanize ObamaCare before it is too late, or it winds up euthanizing us.

    the interested reader will note a curious pattern in Mosher’s arguments and the sources he chooses to use. Kind of like Sashka a while back.

    #################

    Marlow.

    Let’s see you now join an illustrious list of people and organizations who have confused me with Steven W Mosher. Lets see that list includes

    1. Defense investigative services
    2. Clowns at RC
    3. Folks at the hoover institute.
    4. several conservative talkshow hosts.

    I wish he would stop using my name

  321. #325 Sympathies. I get confused with this guy all the time. But the alternate Mosher is surely worse.

  322. Marlowe Johnson says:

    If that’s the case Mosher, I’d have thought that you’d be more upset that he was using your bio, not just your name. The link is dead now, but when the issue first came up, it was identical to the one on amazon.If you scroll downthread, you’ll see that your BFF Tom Fuller thinks that you wrote for Breitbart:

    Tom Fuller Says: June 28th, 2011 at 8:31 pmMarlow and Rust Never Sleeps, that is my friend and co-author. Sorry for my quick reaction. There is a fundamentalist out there with the same name as Steve who has published a lot of”¦. stuff, and on RealClimate my friend has been accused of writing it. I’m sorry for assuming that was the case here. I disagree with him on what he wrote. But I’ll bet he didn’t write the headline. And he’s still a good guy. (Hey wait”“I can disagree with someone and still assert he’s a good human? Is that legal?)

    What the heck is going on?

  323. steven mosher says:

    “Joshua Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 9:06 am
    So mosher signs on to complain that I’m doing the same thing that I criticize Keith for doing by leveling the same criticism against me as the one I level against Keith?”

    Actually this is what I asked.

    “Now, imagine if Keith were to claim something about what enviromentalists believe. who would be clamoring for evidence, and who would find keith’s personal anecdotes about enviros he had talked to unconvincing?”

    Joshua, I don’t complain about your use of anecdotes. I think it served a useful rhetorical purpose to get some libertarians here to tell you what they believe. To distance themselves from the rhetoric you report. That is a good use of anecdote. To some extent I see keith doing much the same thing. What I note, is that no one really pushed you to provide evidence. I did not, for example, see willard hop on and demand due diligence WRT to your comment. Doubtless you can find somebody from any organization saying almost anything. What I report from my experience is an absolute absence of that kind of rhetoric. Basically, it comes down to this. Sometimes you get a more interesting conversation if you grant that the other side may have a point or at least experiences that warrant their viewpoint. I have no doubt, you’ve had these types of engagements. That is why I don’t ask you to provide evidence. I find it more interesting that rather than asking you to provide evidence, those of us who are libertarians respond as we do. That is not my view of the poor. If it were, I would not devote the time I do to fighting the problem of homelessness. Next time you run into a libertarian who calls the poor “parasitical”, I’ll suggest that you inform them that not all libertarians share their viewpoint.

  324. steven mosher says:

    Here is a clue. I never speak about abortion.
    I am not catholic. Never have been, never will be.

    Steven W Mosher is this guy. He only speaks about abortion

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_W._Mosher

    This is what he looks like:

    http://www.ifrl.org/ifrl/news/101006_6.htm

    since I wrote one article for PJ media

    http://pjmedia.com/blog/climategate-not-fraud-but-noble-cause-corruption/

    I can well imagine the folks at that organization have messed up bios. Guess what, after I defended Jones against the charge of fraud, I’ve not been asked back to write anything.

    Here is what I look like.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/02/the-final-straw/

    You could of course check my linkedIn or facebook.
    shit you can call me at home.

  325. Joshua says:

    steven -I guess my language wasn’t clear. I never imagined that all libertarians use rhetoric such as that which calls children born into poverty as parasites. Although I never meant to imply such a general rule, I can see that it may have come off that way.

    I’m glad that in your 30+ years of experience with libertarians, you have never run across any who use that kind of language. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is not easy to find some who do

    As to whether or not anyone challenged me, I will note that NiV said this:

    Libertarians don’t describe people who do dirty work for minimum pay as the “˜parasite class’.

    Now that was a categorical statement of fact. As such, I see it as essentially a challenge to provide proof that it was an overgeneralization.

    And Tom C – said this to me:

    This does not pass the smell test and I don’t believe you.

    With that statement in particular, I don’t see why you think I wasn’t challenged to provide proof.

    And as you must have noticed, when you relayed your anecdotal experience – whether or not you were challenging me to provide proof –  I gave you some information which helps to demonstrate why your anecdotal evidence was not consistent with evidence that is easy to find in the public sphere.

    ****************

    Anyway, IMV, that is all immature (Mommy, he said this, he said that) blog banter. The more interesting issue for me lies the kind of example of libertarian thought provided by a quote – on a prominent rightwing website often frequented by people who call themselves libertarians,  from an adjunct faculty at the Misses Institute and  adjunct scholar at Cato  – who disagrees with your beliefs .

    He, as opposed to you, believes that 100 million Americans have earned the label of parasite by virtue of being provided government assistance. Presumably he basis his belief on the logic of libertarian ideology. Sure – some of his point was hyperbolic. But is the distinction in your beliefs derived from a different moral overlay onto a similar ideology? Do you see some theoretical distinction? How are your views different from his w/r/t the implications of “handouts” from the “producers” based on “unfair” taxation? Do you think that he is just a crank that is out of touch with most libertarians (which I would challenge based on the evidence I have seen; perhaps your experience with libertarians, while perhaps deep is not very broad)?

  326. Joshua says:

    (#323) Harry –

    Yes, you have a point about the importance of not conflating opposition to public funding of education and opposition to the department of education. I am quite sympathetic to concerns about an overly-centralized system for delivery or education to students. I have many criticisms along those lines myself.

    That said, there are a lot of folks out their who outright oppose public funding for educating (other people’s) children, and there are a lot of folks out there who cynically exploit concerns about public education (and the Department of Education) for partisan political expediency.

    Further, there are folks out there who exploit legitimate concerns about “government interference in the market” to lay cover for the advance of crony capitalism into public education (in other words, their own brand of government interference in the market). In my state that has become quite obvious where my governor is handing over public schools to private enterprises,  run by people who donated huge sums to his election campaigns, and who have a proven track record of failure.

    On a related tangent more related to the theme of this blog – Corbett similarly exploits concerns about “government interference in the market” to systematically take away power from local constituencies w/r/t the advance of fracking, and to undermine those constituencies’ power to address legitimate concerns about the safety of fracking, at the behest of an industry that contributed hundreds of thousands to his campaign.

    For me, the problem with libertarianism does not lie in theoretical discussions about the morality of taxation. For me the problem lies in the reality of how libertarian ideals are impact us all at the ground level.

  327. willard says:

    > I did not, for example, see willard hop on and demand due diligence WRT to your comment.

    When I’m busy, there’s always Chuck Norris.

  328. Eli Rabett says:

    So at this point all the nivs, tom c&ss and moshers can come up with
    is the no true Scotsman argument, or in a musical version what Chuck Berry said.

  329. willard says:

    Joshua,

    Here’s Moshpit at Breitbart’s:

    I think one of the big, missing stories here is how the scientific publishing mechanism is corrupted. I mean, I think of “Global Warming” as kind of a religion, and what you see in the mails is how they construct the canon, of how they corrupt the journal publishing, to get the papers published what they WANT published, with the reviewers that they want reviewing it and the papers they don’t want published, they keep out.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2009/12/29/The-Green-Religion-and-ClimateGate–Interview-With-Steven-Mosher

    Interestingly, Moshpit has only mentioned a post he wrote, in which we don’t have the previous quote, while letting you know that:

    Guess what, after I defended Jones against the charge of fraud, I’ve not been asked back to write anything.

    I supposed it all depends how you look at it.

  330. Tom Fuller says:

    The vile rodent says, “So at this point all the nivs, tom c&ss and moshers can come up with is the no true Scotsman argument, or in a musical version what Chuck Berry said.But you got nuthin.

  331. Tom Fuller says:

    And trust willard to search for his evildoer magik sunglasses to find eeeeeeeeeeeevil in what Steve wrote.

    Of course he’s eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. He’s on the other side!

    Surely your pathetic hobby scurrying around finding gnats to strain at and camels to swallow would enable you to see that what Steve wrote is not inconsistent.

    Unless you neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to.

    Hey willard–you’re shirt’s ripped.

  332. Steve Mennie says:

    For what its worth….and I can’t even remember who to point this out to…NiV I think but perhaps Harrywr2…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Reinvestment_Act

  333. BBD says:

    crypto-denialism

  334. willard says:

    > But you got nuthin.

    I would not say that the behavior described in #334 is nuthin.

    It’s not worth much.

    OK, perhaps 20 millions.

    But it’s not nuthin.

  335. Nullius in Verba says:

    #330,

    “Now that was a categorical statement of fact. As such, I see it as essentially a challenge to provide proof that it was an overgeneralization.”

    It wasn’t intended as a challenge. It was intended as a contrary opinion, and an attempt to explain an element of libertarian philosophy. Of course, if you have reason to think my opinion is wrong you’re welcome to present it, but I wasn’t making any demands.

    I should say, I actually welcome people saying things like this, because it gives us an opportunity to correct misperceptions. But it does help if you look at it as an exchange of freely held opinions, rather than a joint hunt for the truth in economic and political philosophy with examination of evidence and references. Understanding has to come before agreement.

    The main problem here I think is a misunderstood category assumption. There are two categories: what you might call the ‘deserving poor’ of people who work hard at unpleasant jobs struggling to survive, and those dependent on government assistance. The Left (to the extent that I understand the philosophy) often regard the two groups as identical. Libertarians don’t. And this is what caused the confusion.

    You started off describing examples of the deserving poor, and then said that libertarians had described them as a ‘parasite class’. The problem is that this is directly contrary to the core libertarian philosophy. Now I can’t say that there aren’t many libertarians who are a bit fuzzy on the philosophy themselves, and people do tend to overgeneralise in rhetoric, but the way you describe it doesn’t sound at all like the sort of thing a libertarian would say.

    But then you clarified that what they had said was about people receiving government assistance, and you had just translated. This was the cause of the problem because in the libertarian mindset that translation isn’t valid.

    Now describing everyone on welfare as part of a ‘parasite class’ is a bit of an overgeneralisation and simplification, too, but it is at least plausible as something a libertarian being provocative might say. It’s also possible that it wasn’t intended to be as condemnatory as it sounds – it’s not unusual for people to be forced into parasitism to survive, whereupon your sympathies would be with the people and against the system forcing them into that situation.

    The libertarian view of the poor is quite different, and is not at all unsympathetic. The difference is that we look at the cause, rather than the consequence. The Left see that the poor have no money, and so solve the problem by giving them money they have taken from those who earned it. The libertarian would see that the poor have no sellable skills, or capital, with which to acquire money, or are blocked by regulatory barriers from trading, and would solve the problem by educating them or offering loans (which are to be repaid for a mutual profit) or removing the barriers.

    Welfare perpetuates the problem. There is no motivation on the part of the recipient to solve it, and it reduces the overall productive capacity of society, meaning there is less to go around for everyone and more poverty to solve.

    What libertarians want to see is the poor working their way out of poverty, or at least managing to support themselves with what skills they have. Your inspiring story of people doing dirty underappreciated jobs for low pay is just that. What libertarians don’t want to see is people trapped in dependency; unable to work, unable to develop the skills and experience they need.

    Poor people who take as little charity as they can out of pride, and who strive to escape poverty through their own efforts, they earn the highest of praise. Those who see it as to their advantage to get as much out of the system for as little effort on their part as possible, who feel entitled, who feel bitter and resentful about those who were more successful and see their own poverty as the result of a conspiracy by the rich, who are ungrateful and envious, and who hate with a passion those whose forced charity funds the entire system that enables them to survive – they quite possibly would get called rude names. And given that the loudest advocates for the system do tend to have that attitude, perhaps it’s not surprising that all recipients of welfare sometimes get tarred with the same brush?

    It’s a point of view. You’re not expected to necessarily agree.

  336. Tom Fuller says:

    NiV, sadly, libertarians and the conservatives with whom they often find themselves allied typically oppose the mechanisms that would reduce the causes of poverty just as vehemently as they oppose the simple relief of it.Let’s get all those programs in place for preventing poverty and then we can let the oh-so-generous payment programs wither…

  337. harrywr2 says:

    #334 Steve Mennine

    On the subject of ‘redlining’ and the community re-investment act.Granting a mortage is betting that the value of the property will exceed the outstanding balance of the loan for the life of a loan.My wife and I own 4 houses. 

    They were all blighted houses or handyman specials when we bought them. The neighborhoods these houses were located in were generally considered to be good neighborhoods and the percentage of houses in need of serious repair was quite low.

    Unfortunately, there are some neighborhoods where the bulk of the houses are in need of serious repair. Even if one was to expend money  buying and repairing one of the houses you would never get your investment back because the neighboring houses would drag your property value down below the costs of repair.

    In criminology they have something called a ‘broken window theory’.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory

    Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not
    repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows

    A neighborhood is like a building. If it has a few run down houses then the tendency is for the number of run down houses to increase. 

    Investing in houses in such a neighborhood is a poor investment decision unless you buy up an entire block so that you can insure that all the houses on that block are kept in ‘good repair’.I’ve seen examples where some sort of  community organizer with a lot of effort has managed to motivate the residents of an entire block to turn the neighborhood around. Bankers however are not by nature community organizers.

    If the property values in a neighborhood as a whole are declining then redlining the entire neighborhood is a prudent business decision absent a viable plan to turn the entire neighborhood around.

  338. Joshua says:

    ME: “Now that was a categorical statement of fact. As such, I see it
    as essentially a challenge to provide proof that it was an overgeneralization.”

    YOU: It wasn’t intended as a challenge. It was intended as a contrary opinion,

    But it was stated as a fact. I am saying that for me (whether intended or not – as differentiated from Tom C’s direct challenge, a differentiation I noted) the conflation of an opinion with fact made it into a challenge: A challenge to show that your statement of fact was inaccurate

    and an attempt to explain an element of libertarian philosophy.

    But you didn’t seem to be trying to do that. You stated a categorical fact that is inconsistent with easily available contrary evidence.

    Of course, if you have reason to think my opinion is wrong you’re welcome to present it, but I wasn’t making any demands.

    Never said you were; I think it is ridiculous to “demand” something on the Internet anyway, and I don’t consider you ridiculous.

     because it gives us an opportunity to correct misperceptions.

    What misperceptions did you correct? Your misconception about the categorical nature of what libertarians believe? My sense is that you haven’t yet realized that misperception —  and it remains uncorrected. Did you read Eli’s #333?

    But it does help if you look at it as an exchange of freely held opinions, rather than a joint hunt for the truth in economic and political philosophy with examination of evidence and references. Understanding
    has to come before agreement.

    Agreed.

     The Left (to the extent that I
    understand the philosophy) often regard the two groups as identical. Libertarians don’t. And this is what caused the confusion.

    I don’t know about often. I would guess (depending on a more detailed discussion to clarify a bit more), it does happen sometimes. But I do know that the claim that you make about (often) leftist belief in that regard is often overstated by libertarians or conservatives.

    At any rate – that is kind of a waste of time to discuss, IMO. I certainly don’t conflate those two categories. What is more interesting to me is to discuss the theoretical construct that you use to differentiate those two categories of “deserving poor.”

    You started off describing examples of the deserving poor, and then
    said that libertarians had described them as a “˜parasite class’. The problem is that this is
    directly contrary to the core libertarian
    philosophy.

    Sez you. Again, I refer you to Eli’s comment. But even assuming that you have an absolute understanding of the “core” libertarian philosophy – as I keep stating I’m not focusing on some abstracted theory of philosophy, but how that philosophy becomes shaped by reality on the ground.

    Now I can’t say that there aren’t many libertarians who are a bit fuzzy on the philosophy themselves, and people do tend to
    overgeneralise in rhetoric, but the way you describe it doesn’t sound at all like the sort of thing a libertarian would say.

    But I have shown you examples of libertarians saying that. You cannot say that 100 million Americans are parasites without including the groups that I’m speaking of. This is what I’m talking about w/r/t contextualizing theory. I am always interested in exploring the relationship between theory and practice. Now I have directed related questions to you a number of times – but let me try again.

    If taxation, even sometimes, = “unfair” “handouts” to undeserving poor, what measures do you use, in concrete ways, to help the “deserving” poor appropriately? What metrics do you use to evaluate level of deserving? 

    But then you clarified that what they had said was about people receiving government assistance, and you had just translated. This was the cause of the problem because in the libertarian mindset that translation isn’t valid.

    No – I didn’t “translate.” As per the example I provided, the label of parasite was precisely used, by a scholar of libertarian philosophy, to describe 100 million Americans. That would necessarily include the groups I described. Hyperbolic? Probably. But reflective of a structural problem. One that results from the difficulty of translating theory to reality, not from my translation.

    Now describing everyone on welfare as part of a “˜parasite class’ is a bit of an overgeneralisation and simplification, too, but it is at least plausible as something a libertarian being provocative might say. It’s also possible that it wasn’t intended to be as condemnatory as it
    sounds ““ it’s not unusual for people to be forced into parasitism to survive, whereupon your sympathies would be with the people and against
    the system forcing them into that situation.

    I don’t understand this paragraph.

    The libertarian view of the poor is quite different, and is not at all unsympathetic.

    You keep falling into the same pattern. As such, I fear this discussion is reaching an end point. I keep pointing to the pattern and you keep repeating. There is no “The libertarian view.” There is your libertarian view and there are the libertarian views of others. Again, I point you to Eli’s #333.

    Person A: All leftists want to destroy our system of government.

    Person B: I don’t want to destroy our system of government.

    Person A: You are not a leftist. “The” leftist wants to destroy our system of government.

    The difference is that we look at the cause, rather than the consequence. The Left see that the poor have no money, and so solve the problem by giving them money they have taken from those who
    earned it.

    This is a false dichotomy. If only by virtue of the statement of what “The Left” see. But you completely ignore endless discussions among “The Left” and between “The Left” and people on the right about the “cause” of poverty. You also ignore much nuance in what “The Left” says about ways to deal with poverty. Noone on “The Left” that I have ever met sees “handouts” as a singular method to resolve poverty. No one that I know of sees it as a cure for poverty.

    The libertarian would see that the poor have no sellable skills,

    This is very ironic – as I gave you the example of hospice aides, and explained that they, in fact, have a very valuable skill that is in fact sellable. The reason that it doesn’t sell for more money is due to structural influences that corrupt the market. Ask virtually anyone who has relied on the help of a hospice aide, and they can tell you about how that aide either had valuable skills or lacked valuable skills, depending on the individual aide. Ask them what the skills the aide provided would be worth if the system itself – due to structural corruptions of the market – did not make the aides skills available at low cost  This is what you said.

    It’s just particularly easy, requiring no great skills, and for which there is therefore a more than adequate supply.

    None of that is true. And it certainly isn’t true in comparison to mutual fund managers who get paid well to produce no better return on your investment than if you bought an indexed fund. Good aides are very difficult to find. That isn’t changed by the fact that many aides are employed. Good mutual fund managers are also difficult to find. But many poor ones are employed. And they are paid well no matter that they have no great skills. The perception of what does or doesn’t requires great skills is inherently subjective.

    Welfare perpetuates the problem.

    Evidence? I get the belief, but where is the evidence? The fact that poverty exists concurrent with welfare does not imply that welfare perpetuates the problem. On the other hand, welfare is correlated in this country with a reduction of poverty rates and dramatic  economic growth over the long term. I’m not saying that there is a causal relationship, but saying that the relationship that you describe is inconsistent with the evidence that we have. Intergenerational poverty exists in countries with no welfare, and has throughout civilization.

    There is no motivation on the part
    of the recipient to solve it,

    Not in my experience. I have never met anyone on welfare who has no motivation to “solve it.” No doubt, some such folks exist, but, again, the problem is the categorical nature of your language. Again, it reflects a theoretical construct with no direct relationship to reality.

    and it reduces the overall productive capacity of society, meaning there is less to go around for everyone and more poverty to solve.

    Nice as a theoretical construct. And I would say useful as a theoretical construct. The considerations you raise as an influence or a tendency are important.  The exists here the same problem, however, as I have been saying all along.

    What libertarians want to see is the poor working their way out of poverty, or at least managing to support themselves with what skills they have.

    The differentiation from “The Left” in this regard is spurious. No matter whether you disagree with the methodologies that “The Left” advocate for – that does not mean that you can accurately create such a differentiation between what you want and what “The Left” “wants. ”  I would not make an assumption that you would not want to see the poor working their way out of poverty. You are mistaken if you think, even for one second, that I or most people on “The Left” wouldn’t share that goal.

    Your inspiring story of people doing dirty underappreciated jobs for low pay is just that. What libertarians don’t want to see is
    people
    trapped in dependency; unable to work, unable to develop the skills and experience they need.

    Same criticism.

    Poor people who take as little charity as they can out of pride, and
    who strive to escape poverty through their own efforts, they earn the highest of praise. Those who see it as to their advantage to get as much out of the system for as little effort on their part as possible, who feel entitled, who feel bitter and resentful about those who were more successful and see their own poverty as the result of a conspiracy by the rich, who are ungrateful and envious, and who hate with a passion those whose forced charity funds the entire system that enables them to survive ““ they quite possibly
    would get called rude names.

    I have no problem with any of that. Never said that I did. You are, my friend, tilting at windmills.

    And given that the loudest advocates for the system do tend to have that
    attitude, perhaps it’s not surprising that all recipients of welfare sometimes get tarred with the same brush?
    It’s a point of view. You’re not expected to necessarily agree.

    I never said I considered it anything less than an opinion. I don’t agree with that opinion – but I am also noting how you express opinions as fact. In itself, that isn’t a problem for me. What I see problematic, however, is the connection between conflation of opinion with fact and the lack of exploration in the land of nexus between theory and reality.

    And with that, my doctor has pronounced about 10 reincarnations of this horse dead.

    I appreciate the dialog. But there are some structural problems here that seem insurmountable for now. I think that the nature of blog dialog inherently circumscribes the half-life of constructive give-and-take. Either you are not “hearing” me or I am not “hearing you,” ore more likely, some combination of both. I would hope that in a new venue we can come back to these or similar discussions somewhat more refreshed and somewhat less entrenched.

  339. Nullius in Verba says:

    #343,

    “But it was stated as a fact.”

    Most opinions are.

    “You stated a categorical fact that is inconsistent with easily available contrary evidence.”

    It’s not inconsistent with it. It was just your opinion that it was.

    “Never said you were”

    “As such, I see it as essentially a challenge to provide proof that it was an overgeneralization.”

    “You cannot say that 100 million Americans are parasites without including the groups that I’m speaking of.”

    That’s the category error. 100 million Americans contains all sorts of groups. You could have said that libertarians say people with red hair are parasites, or people who eat ice cream are parasites, or people who go to church are parasites. You can’t talk about 100 million Americans without including people from all those groups. But it would sound odd to say something like that, because those categories clearly have no relation to the actual claims under discussion. You can imagine the confusion of a libertarian on being told that libertarians had called people who liked ice cream ‘parasites’.

    “Now I have directed related questions to you a number of times ““ but let me try again.”

    I don’t recall you asking that question before, but I answered it anyway in #340.

    “There is your libertarian view and there are the libertarian views of others.”

    Then why ask me? I seem to be being asked to justify beliefs I don’t hold, and don’t consider representative of the political philosophy I subscribe to. Some libertarians like marmite. Why should I be expected to defend it?

    “But you completely ignore endless discussions among “The Left” and between “The Left” and people on the right about the “cause” of poverty. You also ignore much nuance in what “The Left” says about ways to deal with poverty. Noone on “The Left” that I have ever met sees “handouts” as a singular method to resolve poverty. No one that I know of sees it as a cure for poverty.”

    And isn’t that what I just said about your views on what ‘libertarians’ believe? No libertarian I know thinks anything like that.

    “The reason that it doesn’t sell for more money is due to structural influences that corrupt the market.”

    Which are?

    “Either you are not “hearing” me or I am not “hearing you,” ore more likely, some combination of both.”

    Yes. The argument between Left, Right, and Libertarian has been going on since the Montagnard and Jacobin Reign of Terror. It’s not going to be settled in a day by a little open-minded discussion on here.

    As always, I discuss it because I find it entertaining, and useful to rehearse and test the arguments, not because I have the slightest expectation of persuading anyone. As I said a while back in #223: “I know from experience that this sort of discussion never gets anywhere ““ the worldviews are mutually incomprehensible.” It can be interesting anyway.

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