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JamesShrugged

Svanberg takes a que from Binswanger, gets it wrong

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The Ayn Rand Institute continues it's divorce from reality with its latest blog entry “The fast-food industry is not a burden” by Carl Svanberg. Apparently taking a que from fellow ARI associate Harry Binswanger, this author drops the context of the mixed economy and attempts to defend the fast food industry on free market grounds.

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James: The reality is mixed economy (and regulated wages) but one opposes it by showing the better, moral way. So I don't understand what your objection is.

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In this particular article Svanberg acts like everything the fast food industry is doing is a legitamite function of the free market. It isn't. More often than not I see orthodox objectivists defending the recipients of state largess, especially if they are business owners.

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State intervention is a fact. Does one oppose it from within and conduct business as best one can, or hope it's all going to go away some day and close up shop til then?

 

There is no way anybody can know what 'would have been, otherwise' - only what can and should be in future. If it's true that some who know better are presuming upon state largesse in practice, while attacking it on principle, the contradiction is all their own.

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The fast food industrys actions werent really my point in this article. The point was that Svanberg praises the fast food industry for its actions in a mixed economy as if it was in a free market. Why did he choose to attack welfare?

 

What about the fact that state regulation has artificially inflated the labour supply by restricting opportunity (making the barriers to entry high) thereby providing these firms with a steady supply of cheap, disposable labour? Not a peep about that.

 

He then goes on to advocate abolishing the welfare state without mentioning a single word about abolishing to corporate handouts and artifical barriers to entry the state has erected and acts like the condition the workers are in is completely A-OK, dispite the fact that they are horrible as a result of government intervention.

Edited by JamesShrugged

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The fast food industrys actions werent really my point in this article. The point was that Svanberg praises the fast food industry for its actions in a mixed economy as if it was in a free market. Why did he choose to attack welfare?

 

What about the fact that state regulation has artificially inflated the labour supply by restricting opportunity (making the barriers to entry high) thereby providing these firms with a steady supply of cheap, disposable labour? Not a peep about that.

 

He then goes on to advocate abolishing the welfare state without mentioning a single word about abolishing to corporate handouts and artifical barriers to entry the state has erected and acts like the condition the workers are in is completely A-OK, dispite the fact that they are horrible as a result of government intervention.

American workers conditions are horrible? That's what you're going with?

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Compared to a third world country, probably not.

No, they're not. Come to think of it, they're far from horrible compared to any other time in human history, and any other country through human history.

 

The question you should be asking is why not? Who has made it better? Who should you be grateful to for working and living conditions that are by orders of magnitude better than the average human has had through history?

 

Instead, you spend your days being angry at the world, because it isn't perfect. And your anger blinds you from considering how lucky you actually are, and how good this world (a world created by SOMEONE, unless you think it just magically appeared) actually is. Take a moment, and identify that SOMEONE, who made this world as good as it is. Thank them. Then focus on making it even better, keeping in mind that you'll probably have to settle for "better": it's probably never going to be perfect.

 

Oh, and when you're done making the world better, expect your reward to be some angry "anarchist" calling you names for daring to work in a world that isn't perfect.

Edited by Nicky

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Compared to a true free market, yes. Compared to a third world country, probably not.

So, are you also in favor of immigration laws that restrict third-world labor from streaming into the U.S. and undercutting U.S. labor?

 

The notion that U.S. labor gets less than what it would otherwise get -- if not for this mixed-economy -- is false. 

 

Can we extrapolate that in your view all U.S. businesses are just as mixed as anyone living off welfare? 

 

Everyone who gets social-security or medicare is also getting welfare to some extent, because they are getting back more than they put into the system, and pushing the system into deficit that is finally going to be robbed from some future generation. So, in your view, are all social-security recipients also just as immoral as someone who has lived off clear-cut welfare, fake "disability", food-stamps etc.?

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The article is about minimum wage and fast-food, not everything the fast food industry does. Basically, minimum wage is not a fix.

At best you could say the article is too narrow, and isn't written well enough. But it's not that silly "orthodox" Objectivism thing in any case.

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"No, they're not. Come to think of it, they're far from horrible compared to any other time in human history, and any other country through human history."

 

Ah, so you are an advocate of the mixed economy?

 

"The question you should be asking is why not? Who has made it better? Who should you be grateful to for working and living conditions that are by orders of magnitude better than the average human has had through history?"

 

The mixed economy? or is it that freedom thing I keep talking about and advocating?

 

"Instead, you spend your days being angry at the world, because it isn't perfect. And your anger blinds you from considering how lucky you actually are, and how good this world (a world created by SOMEONE, unless you think it just magically appeared) actually is. Take a moment, and identify that SOMEONE, who made this world as good as it is. Thank them. Then focus on making it even better, keeping in mind that you'll probably have to settle for "better": it's probably never going to be perfect."

 

You are psychologizing. Besides, I'm not angry, except at writers who claim to be advocates of liberty and then do a piss poor job of defending it by attacking welfare recipients and ignoring corporate subsidies.

 

"Oh, and when you're done making the world better, expect your reward to be some angry "anarchist" calling you names for daring to work in a world that isn't perfect."

 

Once again, strawman. The target of my article was not those who are working, it's those who live by looting off others work, and their apologists, like you, binswanger, svanberg and other orthodox objectivists.

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"So, are you also in favor of immigration laws that restrict third-world labor from streaming into the U.S. and undercutting U.S. labor?"

 

"Immigration laws" is a silly way to put it. I'm in favor of freed markets.

 

"The notion that U.S. labor gets less than what it would otherwise get -- if not for this mixed-economy -- is false. "

 

Thats a nice assertion and all but...

 

http://c4ss.org/content/10124

 

"Economic exploitation is possible only when competition from the possibility of self-employment is closed off and wage employment is the only game in town. Just as the British state colluded with employers in the Enclosures to obstruct access to natural opportunities, modern employers under corporate capitalism use the state to enclose natural opportunities as a source of rent. The overall effect is to increase the share of needs that must be met through wage employment rather than self-employment or the informal and household sector, and to inflate the number of people seeking employment relative to available jobs. Hence, workers are forced to compete for jobs in a buyer’s market.

 

In a freed market, with all these artificial property rights and artificial scarcities removed, the situation would be reversed. Many people on the margin would leave wage employment altogether, each household would require fewer wage-workers to bring in cash income, those engaged in wage employment would have to work fewer hours to supplement their self-provisioning in the informal economy, and millions of people would retire earlier. Employers would find themselves forced to compete for labor, instead of the other way around, and workers would have the material means to step away from the bargaining table and live off their own resources while awaiting offers more to their liking.

 

In short, the state is the friend of employers and the enemy of labor."

 

and

 

http://c4ss.org/content/21202

 

 

"The fact that workers toil under such conditions for so little money is not the effect of the free market pricing mechanism. It’s the result of the structure of power that controls the factors of production. Historically, as Franz Oppenheimer argued in The State, it is impossible to exploit labor so long as employers are forced to compete with the possibility of self-employment. Exploitation only becomes possible when unoccupied land is no longer freely available for independent production. And the land is nowhere near being fully occupied by natural means — i.e., actually using it. Instead, it’s enclosed by a privileged class of landlords, who control access to vacant and unimproved land. Other forms of productive property are likewise enclosed for rents by an economic ruling class, with the help of the state.

 

The purpose of the state, since its origin, has been to enforce such artificial scarcities and artificial property rights on behalf of the economic ruling class. The rents of the propertied classes result not from their contributions to production –  i.e., actually producing something — but from enclosing and controlling access to productive opportunities. The great share of income, under capitalism, comes not from production but from controlling the conditions under which others are allowed to produce.

 

The result is that, by artificially restricting independent access to the means of production and subsistence, the supply of wage labor is artificially inflated compared to the demand for it.

 

So in a truly free market, the main source of commodity value would be the requirement to pay labor enough to make it worth their while, in their own subjective perception, to engage in production.

 

Our goal ... is not to “force” anyone to pay labor more, but to tear down the enclosures that force workers to accept wage employment only on the terms offered by the economic ruling class."

 

"Can we extrapolate that in your view all U.S. businesses are just as mixed as anyone living off welfare?"

 

No, they are much worse. The state and its cronys have a need of cheap labor and have created a regulatory environoment that provides it by limiting the options avaliable to laborers and create systemic poverty. (If people accumulated any capital they might not have to work for 7.75$ an hour anymore and then what would happen to McDonalds, and their political contributions who claims they can't afford to pay workers any more because of the slow economy, despite records that show a 7% increase in profits over the last decade.)

 

"So, in your view, are all social-security recipients also just as immoral as someone who has lived off clear-cut welfare, fake "disability", food-stamps etc.?"

 

The question of morality here has more to do with the virtues of independence and productivity, than politics I'd say.

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"The article is about minimum wage and fast-food, not everything the fast food industry does. Basically, minimum wage is not a fix."

 

Right, but I wonder why the author chose to frame his argument this way, as if this is what he sees as essential.

"At best you could say the article is too narrow, and isn't written well enough. But it's not that silly "orthodox" Objectivism thing in any case."

 

I agree, with the first sentence. As for the second, this error is a pattern in the orthodox objectivist movement all the way from Rand calling big business a "persecuted minority," to Binswanger and now Svanberg. It's wrong, and it needs to stop.

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This "left-libertarian" Kevin Carson knows his stuff, at least by my modest knowledge of economics. Never thought I'd applaud anything from the "left" (or the "right") but it goes to show yet again, that even if it's usually the right principle for the wrong reason, there can be brief intersection with it and Objectivism.

James, I think times have moved on some, and I've wondered if Rand, today, would still call big business "a persecuted minority."

Edited by whYNOT

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In political systems across all of history, we always see economic power buying political power. So, one can always point to this and say: these people are buying their way to violating the rights of others. It begs the question though: how did they get that economic power in the first place? In order to show that the rights-violation is primary, we have to argue that the "economic power" flows primarily from political power. This is where the two threads by James Shrugged and the linked article parallel the Marxian argument.

 

During the French revolution it was evil to be an aristocrat or their lackey/courtier. By the time we get to the Russian revolution, a new enemy is added to the aristocrats: the bourgeois. This middle class, with businessmen at the top (even buying in to the aristocracy) is seen to be keeping the common man down. Marxians could point to a whole host of rights-violations, cartels and collusion, across the board.  They could point to the fact that the early joint-stock companies -- Bank of England, East India Company, etc. -- were not free-market entities, but were the result of the use of political power to give some people a monopoly. They might even say that the concept of limited-liability itself is an example of political power being used to draw a line where creditors are prevented from enforcing their true rights. 

 

This similar world-view is what has brought libertarian-anarchists and communists together as fellows for at least the last 100 years. The two groups might disagree about the solution, but their analysis of history is pretty close, and they both see a pretty similar enemy.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Is this what Kevin Carson does though? Where is an example of that?

It flows through every paragraph. Just look at the first paragraph that JamesShrugged quoted above.

 

Economic exploitation is possible only when competition from the possibility of self-employment is closed off and wage employment is the only game in town. Just as the British state colluded with employers in the Enclosures to obstruct access to natural opportunities, modern employers under corporate capitalism use the state to enclose natural opportunities as a source of rent. The overall effect is to increase the share of needs that must be met through wage employment rather than self-employment or the informal and household sector, and to inflate the number of people seeking employment relative to available jobs. Hence, workers are forced to compete for jobs in a buyer’s market.

Added: Reading the article do you conclude the author thinks businessmen owe their position primarily to  their ability to create values (i.e. economic power), or to laws in their favor that deny workers certain rights (i.e. political power)? Or, do you read his as being undecided about which of these is primary today?

Edited by softwareNerd

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Anarcho-nothing.  This is supposed to be a variant of Objectivism?  no thank you

 

Sounds so much like what you'd hear from a leftist egalitarian.

 

Whether we live in a "free" or mixed economy, at least the Objectivist principle of non-interference comes through loud and clear in arguments against the imposition of minimum wage, rather than some "bleeding heart sounding" plaint about the "artificialities" the government is supposedly intentionally using to keep the little guy down.  I suppose Anarchos advocate redistribution of wealth before complete disintegration of all government because the system wasn't fair man.... just not fair.

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"In political systems across all of history, we always see economic power buying political power. So, one can always point to this and say: these people are buying their way to violating the rights of others. It begs the question though: how did they get that economic power in the first place? In order to show that the rights-violation is primary, we have to argue that the "economic power" flows primarily from political power. This is where the two threads by James Shrugged and the linked article parallel the Marxian argument."

 

How did Orren Boyle get his economic power? If I remember correctly, it was from a government loan, in contrast to Hank Rearden who saved enough to buy his first factory.

 

"we have to argue that the "economic power" flows primarily from political power."

 

In a mixed economy, absolutely it does. And it isn't a Marxist theory, it's Randian:

 

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed."

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"we have to argue that the "economic power" flows primarily from political power."

 

In a mixed economy, absolutely it does. And it isn't a Marxist theory, it's Randian:

 

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed."

That quote does not even begin to address my point. Nobody here would argue that the government does not play a huge role in the economy by controlling all sorts of things. Nobody would deny that the mechanism leans "fascist" rather than pure "socialist" in the sense that technical ownership and a fair degree of control remains primarily with individuals, thought the state exercises lots of control. No one here would disagree that businessmen use pull. However, none of that addresses the issue I raised.

It is ironic that a group of people who want to man the barricades in a 2017 October revolution quote Rand, who came from a bourgeois family, in a time when aristocracy and birth ruled and kept the common man down with force and secret police. It is not an incorrect argument to quote someone with whom you disagree, but it's still ironic.

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As for the second, this error is a pattern in the orthodox objectivist movement all the way from Rand calling big business a "persecuted minority," to Binswanger and now Svanberg. It's wrong, and it needs to stop.

 

That's because big businesses are always targeted as evil simply because of their success. It's a point that almost no one makes other than Objectivists. There's nothing wrong with being large or successful.

To think Objectivists never point out that the poor are hurt the most due to government intervention is fallacious. Rand, herself, pointed it out.

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What is the difference between AnarchOs and pure Anarchists, i.e. in AnarchO what government controls, checks, systems, are in place, that act for or on behalf of all individuals?

 

i.e.  Currently a policeman, although perhaps working in response to a call by person A in regard to behaviour of person B, still has an explicit mandate to uphold the law in connection with BOTH person A's rights and person B's rights.  In a democracy such a mandate is tied to the state, in a minarchy it is explicitly a mandate to protect individuals rights. 

 

Is there anyone in the AnarchO system that acts on behalf of or consistently ensures in respect of their actions that ALL individual rights are upheld?  Is there accountability? 

 

 

( I am speaking of Objectivist concepts of rights here)   

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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"That's because big businesses are always targeted as evil simply because of their success."

 

[Citation needed.] This one of those Randian assumptions that doesn't fit the facts.

 

"It's a point that almost no one makes other than Objectivists."

 

Except every conservative ever.

 

"There's nothing wrong with being large or successful."

 

What if you are at successful at graft and political pull? Still virtuous?

 

"To think Objectivists never point out that the poor are hurt the most due to government intervention is fallacious."

 

Do you have a link to an article explaining as much?

 

"Rand, herself, pointed it out."

 

Yes, She did. But objectivists today don't. That's why I think there is a disconnect between objectivist philosophy and the modern orthodox objectivist movement.

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