Others have chimed in with similar explanations but it often revolves around the principal problem of how do you allow "freedom" without infringing on someone else's?
For instance, if I want to drink radiation laced water, Libertarians would think I have the right. They'd also say I should have to pay for my own medical treatment resulting from that. Reasonable enough.
However, if I drank radiation laced water because a chemical company was disposing of their waste in my backyard and I didn't know, Libertarians would tell you it's your fault for not having the proper testing equipment or paying a company to run these tests for you.
The same thing shakes out for food. For employment. For air travel. For basically everything you do you're assumed to have done enough research to know the risks you're exposed to. Libertarianism also makes the enormous assumption that a safe option will always be available.
Since there's zero protection from monopolies in a pure Libertarian society, they will naturally occur, and the results will be overwhelmingly negative for all but a handful of people, the proverbial 1% if that.
Libertarianism also as much as endorses discrimination as it sees it as your absolute right to decide who you provide goods and services to. Idealists would have you believe that non-discriminatory companies will always out-perform their discriminatory counterparts, but history has proven the opposite. If people are racist, they will certainly pay a small premium for service that reflects their views.
It's this every-man-for-himself approach to living that quickly degenerates into pure Darwinism where the one with the most money, who can easily afford to build a protective bubble around themselves, thrives and the others live miserable, dangerous lives.
Basically a pure Libertarian approach has too many dangerous failure states for it to be taken seriously. There are arguments that can be made for a more or less libertarian approach to problems in society, but to go 100%, full-on is to miss the point.
WRT "if I drank radiation laced water because a chemical company was disposing of their waste in my backyard and I didn't know" from my limited understanding of Libertarianism, they do believe the government and legal system should promote property rights. Therefore, if a company pollutes your water supply, you would have legal recourse to recover damages assuming you live long enough.
You're assuming it's only the government which is interested in providing me the information about services I use and the environment that I live in. An implicit monopoly of information.
But I want to ask you this question: can you come up with at least one monopoly that existed naturally for a substantial period of time without any government support for it and without anyone being able to challenge it?
The government performs the function of a referee, and without it the players are free to make up their own rules.
You can only "vote" for a company with your dollars if you have choices, not if they assume a de-facto monopoly.
At least in theory you can vote for your government and effect change that way. This is why they serve a critical function.
Corporations are profit driven. Governments are election driven. These two dynamics can work together to create a reasonably good outcome. Libertarianism promotes corporate interest in isolation of regulation, leading to a run-away system of chaos and virtual anarchy.
Think infrastructure. Consider utilities, internet, interstate highways or any similar circumstance.
On a practical level, I don't see how these exist without government. The risk would be astronomical for a private entity to undertake such a massive investment that relies on negotiations with thousands of individual private property owners. However, if a private entity could pull it off, they would have extraordinary pricing power.
Your argument comes down to "but who's gonna build roads?" which is somewhat of a statist meme among libertarians. In short, it's this: roads are built by private contractors hired by the government, those contractors are paid by taxpayers money. Government acts as a middle man, which, indeed, may be necessary to coordinate the project, however it holds an ultimate monopoly for the middle man. There's no reason why one middle man should exist to coordinate building all roads.
When you talk about risks in undertaking an investment, it means there might not be enough demand for something that the government does and so taxpayers in fact are investing in things not enough people actually need to justify the investment. Which simply means that the government is an irresponsible fund manager.
A good way to get a free marketeer to stop talking is to ask them to come up with a free market system that doesn't end up hopelessly stratified. I don't know whether they shut down, like a killer AI given an unsolvable problem, or start reevaluating their views.
He rephrased his question, and he shouldn't have, because his original one works pretty well. Can you name a single instance of a harmful monopoly that didn't either form or persist because of government backing?
Are you claiming that no one has ever possessed a local monopoly on a resource that produced negative consumer effects? Pretty laughable claim and clearly false on hundreds of thousands of counts. Or are you ready to turn your back on basic property rights as an evil cooked up by the big bad gubmint?
The entire PC compatible movement would have been crushed by IBM mercenaries going garage-to-garage in a free market fantasy land. Bill Gates, coming from a wealthy family, would be the only one who could afford his own mercenaries.
You said: "Can you name a single instance of a harmful monopoly that didn't either form or persist because of government backing?"
One possible answer: Windows
You asked a question. You got a suitable answer. What more is there to say? What is this "goal post" you keep referring to?
I know you're eager to roll out the "copyright and patents are government-granted monopolies" line. But those don't work as monopolies in comparing governments to contracts in imaginary free market systems.
Remove government, and businesses would develop their own systems like copyright and patents, which they would privately enforce through contract, private prisons, and mercenaries. You still end up with a Windows monopoly because Bill Gates started life with a lawyer and banker for parents.
You replace one system with another that's almost identical, but small businesses lose any kind of recourse if a bigger business decides it owns a particular creation.
I actually agree with you, in that any sufficiently dominant corporation is indistinguishable from a government.
However, even if you set aside the question of its dependence on government-enforced IP rights, Windows is a bad example of a harmful monopoly, IMHO. Network effects make the calculation of net "harm" very difficult. Thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs (to say nothing of Microsoft employees) have become millionaires thanks to those network effects. Good things have happened in the world of personal computing that could never have happened in a fragmented world where dozens of vendors were pushing their own 6502 or Z80 boxes with proprietary BIOSes and OSes, or where Linux geeks worked day and night to make sure ordinary users would never be able to accomplishing anything on their own. Somebody had to step in and harness all of those creative forces in a productive direction. Frankly, I'm glad it was Bill Gates and not Steve Jobs.
Where I think you are wrong is with your supposition that "IBM mercenaries" would have roamed around like mafiosi, crushing the PC revolution. That's what I call moving the goalposts, or more properly, a strawman scenario. You won the argument in your own head by inventing a fictional world where you could claim to be right.
Remove government, and businesses would develop their own systems like copyright and patents, which they would privately enforce through contract, private prisons, and mercenaries.
I'd need to see an example to buy this. (Don't use Somalia or any other failed Islamic states dominated by other governments' proxy warriors.) We don't live on the set of Blade Runner, at least not yet.
I guess the closest example I can think of would be the medieval guild systems. Those aren't coming back, not as long as capital can flow freely between nations and individual actors are gaining rather than losing influence.
You replace one system with another that's almost identical, but small businesses lose any kind of recourse if a bigger business decides it owns a particular creation.
The patent system is doing a better job at that than your violin-case-toting IBM thugs ever could have.
The system where that's real is as real as whatever free market system exists in your head. I don't think football metaphors (goal posts) will work until we agree on what the stadium looks like.
Until that happens, all we can do is talk past each other based on our own ideas about what "free market" means. A free market to me is one where the strongest invariably crushes anyone weaker. Anything more restrictive would require government or cultural norms. Moving to any more or less restrictive system requires changing at least one of those things. Any discussion that doesn't see that isn't going to produce anything practical.
And I'm not interested in discussing hypothetical markets, so I'm going to go do something else and ignore this subtree.
>However, if I drank radiation laced water because a chemical company was disposing of their waste in my backyard and I didn't know, Libertarians would tell you it's your fault for not having the proper testing equipment or paying a company to run these tests for you.
This is simply false. Pollution would be treated as a tort. Now, you can't set up a home near an already existing, noisy club and complain about noise pollution. If you set up a home in a quiet and unpolluted area, you have a right to maintain the structural integrity of that area.
The details of what the maximum allowable punishment for someone coming along and polluting your land is is a bit of an advanced subject. That you have no recourse except to test your soil for pollution and clean it yourself is just incorrect.
>The same thing shakes out for food. For employment. For air travel. For basically everything you do you're assumed to have done enough research to know the risks you're exposed to. Libertarianism also makes the enormous assumption that a safe option will always be available.
Again false. Libertarian law is all about what to do when people violate others' rights. There's also certain reasonable assumptions of safety which consumers must be able to make. For instance, it would be a crime to sell some sort of food, presented as safe to eat, which was really poisonous. It would be a crime to sell tickets for a plane ride and fly with an untrained pilot or a plane which hadn't been checked for safety.
>Since there's zero protection from monopolies in a pure Libertarian society, they will naturally occur, and the results will be overwhelmingly negative for all but a handful of people, the proverbial 1% if that.
If you had any genuine concern about monopolies, you would have concern about your government. A state is a territorial monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, the ability to arbitrate disputes and to assign property rights.
State-granted monopoly rights (IP for instance) is different from a hypothetical "natural monopoly". A natural monopoly would not be problematic because all it would mean is that one company is so successful at meeting the demands of consumers such that no others care to or are able to enter the market.
>Libertarianism also as much as endorses discrimination as it sees it as your absolute right to decide who you provide goods and services to. Idealists would have you believe that non-discriminatory companies will always out-perform their discriminatory counterparts, but history has proven the opposite. If people are racist, they will certainly pay a small premium for service that reflects their views.
The other side of the coin to rights of free association, or what you would disparage as legalized racism, is that the tolerant of is would be free to discriminate against racists. As it is now, we will never root out racism because hardcore bigots are afforded state subsidies and not cast out of civil society.
If people are not racist—and I would say the vast majority of Americans are not—why wouldn't they also pay a bit extra for services which reflect their values? If most people are concerned for the poor not receiving medical services, why wouldn't they pay a bit extra to receive services from a Samaritan hospital which never turns away the poor?
You can't just take a look at a small segment of the worst of humanity and pretend they are the majority because it is convenient for your argument.
> This is simply false. Pollution would be treated as a tort. Now, you can't set up a home near an already existing, noisy club and complain about noise pollution. If you set up a home in a quiet and unpolluted area, you have a right to maintain the structural integrity of that area.
Let's analyze this situation with some economic rigor. What you're invoking is Coase's theorem. The idea that if you create property rights in what would otherwise be externalities, and let people transact freely in those property rights, the end result will be an optimal allocation of rights that maximizes value.
Now, I'll get to the punchline before going further in depth. It's deeply ironic that libertarians invoke Coase's theorem in this context, because Coase himself used smoke pollution as an example of a situation that called for regulation rather than the creation of property rights.
You see, there is an important assumption underlying Coase's theorem: transaction costs are zero. But in the environmental context, transaction costs are not zero, and in fact they totally dominate the relevant transactions. A polluting coal plant might cause $1,000 of health damage to each of 100,000 people, and it isn't worth any of their whiles to litigate such injuries. Yet the cumulative impact of such activity is large--the coal plant is essentially "stealing" $100m, but getting away with it by stealing a little from a lot of people at once.
Multiply that by the hundreds and thousands of pollution sources that have a measurable impact on each person, and what you get is an unworkable system. And Coase himself recognized this and said as much in his papers.
I said, "Pollution would be treated as a tort." Nothing really special there because all rights violations would be, viz. we do not believe in victimless "crimes against society".
I then was mentioning the idea of easement rights in pollution (for more on this cf. from 26 in the above PDF).
>A polluting coal plant might cause $1,000 of health damage to each of 100,000 people, and it isn't worth any of their whiles to litigate such injuries. Yet the cumulative impact of such activity is large--the coal plant is essentially "stealing" $100m, but getting away with it by stealing a little from a lot of people at once.
In common law tradition, people were able to sell their tort claims, no matter how small. Modern authoritarian law prohibits this, there are barriers to class action suits, and so on. We'd like to return to the common law tradition here, so if you are concerned about this, you ought to be on our side.
Besides the problem with a governments ability to simply be corrupt, polluters often pay fines to the bureaucracy rather than compensating victims. You are incorrect to automatically assign a $ amount to any claim of this sort. The punishment could involve at least a chance of death and who knows what all these minor health hazards might add up to.
Still, the impact of an individual polluter may be seen as trivial, but firms would be able to collectively pursue the torts after buying claims from the victims.
I believe in a continuation of good 'governance' after abolishing 'government'. I'm working on some interesting ways in which "municipal" service providers might utilize distributed torts against polluters into something resembling various "social welfare" programs we have today.
Rothbard is not exactly an libertarian economist he is an Austrian school economist, not every libertarian is an Austrian school economist. Although I'm sympathetic to libertarianism I loathe the Austrian school because of their unscientific methods. No need to answer to me about that, it's only my belief and of some others in the libertarian camp, Bryan Caplan for example.
My main problem with Ron Paul besides the fact that he never tried to approach libertarianism as something that is useful to solve pragmatic problems that exists today and tried to develop a confrontational attitude towards other people, he was someone who always chose tribalism instead of being a good politician, the racism in his newsletters and the fact that he always appealed more to the angry white male stereotype than to the common people, mom and pops of every ethnic group who are working to pay their bills and raise their children. That and the fact that he's a firm believer in the Austrian school.
Rothbard is clearly a libertarian economist and I never said that all "libertarian" economists must be Austrians. You might want to not talk about things being unscientific when you fail to back up your assertions.
It has been fashionable since the success of the natural sciences in the 1800's to attempt to apply the methods of the natural sciences to the social sciences. Concepts like "equilibrium" are applied incorrectly because a person goes on to striving for the next thing right after achieving the first and markets are in a constant flux.
I said I have no interest of discussing anymore. I'm not here to build a thread pointing failures in first order logic in other comments, this was my opinion and it would be better if you just accept that I do not believe in the same things as you.
If you wish there are plenty of refutations of why the criticism of Austrian school about modern economics is misdirected, I believe pretty much of them do a good job, Bryan Caplan was right in almost everything, you need not to accept any of them of course, I respect you, but you'll need to know that I do not accept anything that comes from mises.org and do not read them anymore.
No need to name calling. I did not called you anything, lack of respect is not something that I encountered in many austrians but you're clearly one that does not respect people apparently, wish I am wrong.
As I said in the above post I am unwilling, I have more important things to do than entering in eternal ego wars on the net.
EDIT: I was rude in this comment and if you felt offended I ask you to forgive me.
Either way my problem with Autrian school is that it try to rely too much on logic and methodological individualism, probabilistic CFD using some Monte Carlo methods, I'm not against first-order logic since I'm a mathematician by training and I think the Austrian use of it brought some useful and good insights into economics, my main problem is with methodological individualism, I think it does nothing to advance economics as a science, you're right that Economics is not Physics, but them ever in Physics we have Fluid dynamics and Heat transfer models that use statistics because they are complex and a complete model is unforeseeable in the near future, maybe there will be a complete model, maybe not.
A macroeconomic model is just trying to approach a complex system in the same fashion which have an additional problem, it deals with humans, mind you that generally every researcher in neoclassical economics is well aware that their models have some assumptions that breaks at some point, Stieglitz and Kahneman have shown some example and general equilibrium is a favorite target. It's also good to point out that not every economist is trying to use their models to recommend banks or governments what to do, Krugman made an essay in the past actually recommending economists to advise policy, not every economist is interested in this however.
I believe this is enough, if you reply I will answer one time but bear in mind that I'm not an economist.
It's impossible in many cases to identify the source of pollution. For instance, suppose I'm a farmer and acid rain is damaging my crops. The source could be polluters hundreds or thousands of miles away. Proving that any specific polluter was the source of the pollution that hit my farm is simply not feasible.
The tort approach in essence says it is OK to pollute as much as you want as long as your pollution will be dispersed enough so that no particular victim can trace the pollution on their land back to you.
Another problem with it is that cleaning up pollution can be very expensive, so that it would not be uncommon for those polluters who can actually be identified sufficiently to be sued to not have enough money to cover the damages they cause.
The tort approach simply cannot deal with the problem. As Friedrich Hayek (one of the leading libertarian economists) noted in his book "The Road to Serfdom": "Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism. But the fact that we have to resort to the substitution of direct regulation by authority where the conditions for the proper working of competition cannot be created, does not prove that we should suppress competition where it can be made to function".
That's a very bold statement that needs some justification.
Take climate change. For the moment, I don't care if you believe in it or not: just take it as a given, because something like that is certainly physically possible.
Let's say for years many countries polluted the atmosphere with CO2. Over time, it substantially changes the planet's climate and causes untold trillions of dollars of damage to billions of people.
How do torts handle this? For one, who does the suing? Do we allow class action lawsuits with billions of people? What about countries that don't allow class action lawsuits?
What if one heavily-polluting country has for years funded propaganda opposing accurate science, and when chickens come home to roost it still insists that carbon emissions had nothing to do with warming climate? What if the legal system refuses the huge payoffs that would be required? What if the will happens to be there but the country just can't afford to pay for the damages it caused?
Is it even fair to levy taxes or fines on people to pay for something that's been going on for generations? After all, why should our descendants be forced to suffer because of our present day callousness and shortsightedness?
Should people who benefited from climate change be forced to pay more? How does one deal with the fact that everyone, to varying extents, helped cause it? Is it only people who were totally off the grid and carbon free who should get to receive compensatory payouts?
>What about countries that don't allow class action lawsuits?
Maybe you should take issue with those countries' laws rather than anarcho-libertarian law.
>What if the will happens to be there but the country just can't afford to pay for the damages it caused?
Sometimes we can be faced with a situation where a destitute criminal causes more damage than he will ever be able to repay. Insurance is a possibility in protecting victims faced with such a circumstance. I am not sure what else you think we could do though, or how this is supposed to be a valid objection to anything I've said, even granting for the sake of argument that climate change can be directly attributed to certain perpetrators.
Hold on a second though Al Gore. I am not so much a climate change denier as a believer in science. For any model in the natural sciences to have validity, that model needs to be able to predict. As much as it is repeated that the current science is beyond questioning, climate change scientists still lack a single accepted model which is able to predict anything.
If you had one then we might be able to attribute a certain amount of damage to one individual from their seaside home being washed out to myriad CO2 emitters. Certainly this would be a massive clusterfuck if you actually had valid science, way more than a region would have to deal with sorting out the horrible situation with typical pollution governments have caused, but I can't give perfect answers on how people might sort this hypothetical out.
You're right in saying that the libertarian would say that a person is responsible for their own actions, but your argument lacks completeness. A company which pollutes water at large would suffer the consequences of its own actions. People aren't stupid; they'd notice the contamination and act.
Your argument implies a lack of faith in a single person or a small group of people to effect change. Do you believe that only government has the ability to keep our water clean?
> People aren't stupid; they'd notice the contamination and act.
Is this behavior guaranteed, and would the public necessarily choose to stay informed? Free markets are dependent on rational, informed actors; humans are neither rational nor informed 100% of the time. Some other thing would have to step in (an organization, a government, whatever) at some point.
> Your argument implies a lack of faith in a single person or a small group of people to effect change
If I owned the polluting company, I would likely have much more power than the poor sap I'm poisoning. Money seems to speak louder than actual words. Compared to some tycoon, a normal person is basically insignificant and is much less likely to cause any change.
> Do you believe that only government has the ability to keep our water clean?
I don't know what the right answer is, but to put it bluntly, your approach seems like a deeply flawed one to me.