Converting a country to a libertarian state

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Thesh
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Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:32 am UTC

For this discussion, we will take the case of Nonexistia, an island in the Caribbean with a population of over 30 million people, mostly middle class with about 5% of the country in poverty. The departments of this country that we will consider is as follows:

  • Department of Defense - A military consisting of 30,000 people, including a navy, air force, and army
  • Department of Health - Runs all hospitals, regulates drugs, and provides all health care for citizens, paid entirely through taxes.-
  • Department of Justice - Runs the prisons and the court system
  • Department of Law Enforcement - Police
  • Department of Fire and Rescue - Fire and rescue
  • Department of Social Welfare - Handles unemployment, disability, pension, and welfare
  • Department of Education - Runs all schools and public universities
  • Department of Labor - Protects employees from employers; enforces working conditions, etc.
  • Department of the Treasury - Controls monetary supply, taxation, government debt, etc.
  • Department of Transportation - Controls shipping, maintains roads, railways, and air travel/air ports
  • Department of Energy and Water - Runs power plants, maintains the power grid and water and natural gas infrastructure
  • Department of Waste - Handles garbage pickup, landfills, recycling, and sewage
  • Department of Communication - Regulates radio broadcast, and maintains fiber optic communication network (leased to Phone/TV/Internet service providers)
  • Department of Agriculture - Regulates farms, stores, and restaurants, and any other businesses in regards to food and beverage safety, including alcohol
  • Department of State - Responsible for foreign relations
  • Department of Business and Trade - Regulates businesses to breakup/prevent monopolies,
  • Department of the Environment - Regulates government, businesses, and civilians in regards to environment and pollution
  • Department of Parks - Runs public parks
  • Department of Development - Regulates construction, allocates public land for road, housing, and building construction

This is hardly a comprehensive detail of a government, but it's fine for this exercise.

So the situation is this: The majority of citizens are unhappy with taxation, government spending, and government inefficiency and want to change to a libertarian society in which most of the government is privatized. Now, many people in the US feel that spending should simply be cut, and any department they consider unnecessary should be disbanded. Of course, this is idiotic and would cause chaos.

Now, pretty much everything that the government runs would not create competitive markets. Emergency health care, power grid, transportation, water, sewage... For profit enterprises might create more efficiency, but not at the benefit to the consumer. The only solution I can see is to transition every department possible into a non-profit organization. However, this doesn't accomplish anything. Without competition, privatization is worthless.

Nonprofit does have some advantages to the taxpayers. For example, if welfare and unemployment were all ran by a non-profit agency, those who don't benefit from these or agree with the services would not have to contribute to them. Also, a person not like the way they are ran, or the people they benefit (e.g. drug addicts), and there might be another organization that accomplishes similar goals that meets with their ideals. The problem is that if these organizations don't get enough funding through donations or a required monthly payment, then they cannot possibly work. Even if they work in a time of economic prosperity, they might not work in a time of recession where too many people are unemployed or too poorly employed.

So what departments could actually be successfully privatized? Either into non-profit, or for-profit organizations. What would need to happen to transition them? This is not a place to discuss the morality of libertarianism. The intent is to discuss whether a migration to a libertarian government could happen, and what the negative and positive effects would be.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:08 am UTC

Waste definitely seems like something that can be handled for profit. Especially if we start thinking about the viability of a recycling business that runs a pickup service.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:19 am UTC

The problem for private garbage pickup is that they can't operate without heavy government regulation. The way it is now in the US, the cities contract with different garbage companies and the consumer itself has no control over who they choose, even though the garbage companies bill the consumer directly. If you tried to let consumers pick which company to use for trash pickups, it would actually get less efficient as more companies come in since the trash routes would be a lot less dense with customers.

Does this system work? Yes, it does. Is it cheaper than having the whole thing ran by the government? I'm not so sure that it is. The assumption that is made by most libertarians is that private enterprise is more efficient than government, but I don't think it's that simple. I don't know how pricing control works for garbage pickup, but if the company found a way to make themselves more efficient, you can be damned sure that they won't pass those savings on to the consumer unless their contract was up for renewal and they were at risk for being outbid.

That said, I also don't see the advantage of government over a non-profit organization in this case.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:33 am UTC

Thesh wrote: The assumption that is made by most libertarians is that private enterprise is more efficient than government, but I don't think it's that simple.

It's just generally true. Case in point, the post office, and Waste Management (the company).
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby PeterCai » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:39 am UTC

What about purchasing trash pickup as a community using democratic process? Maybe forming something like a neighborhood organization that handles all the infrastructure repairs, amenities, and social structures like education and security? It largely avoids the trash pickup route problem.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:20 am UTC

Half the departments are the same as they would be under Libertarianism; the Government regulates in most of these departments, but it does not actually produce the products/services.

You could contract out the prison system (something I think is a bad idea), downsize Dept of Social Services, privatize the energy/water companies as well as the medical care (while still regulating), and maybe scrap Parks.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:25 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Thesh wrote: The assumption that is made by most libertarians is that private enterprise is more efficient than government, but I don't think it's that simple.

It's just generally true. Case in point, the post office, and Waste Management (the company).


For the post office, I'm trying to find out why they are considered inefficient. The main thing I have heard in the past is that they don't make a profit. I'm checking shipping rates between UPS, Fedex, and USPS. A 1 pound package from postal code 10001 to 90024 gives the following price:

Fedex Home Delivery: $11.37
UPS Ground: $12.34
USPS Parcel Post: $5.41

I understand direct comparisons is problematic, because USPS is very different from the business model of Fedex or UPS. A google search tells me as the weight of the package goes up, USPS gets more expensive.

So sure, USPS takes a loss, but is that because they are inefficient, or because their prices are so cheap (hell, a letter is 44 cents to send anywhere in the country)?
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:35 am UTC

Uh, the post master general testified before Congress that USPS losses will reach 238$ billion. I'm not sure how else to qualify the government run company as a failure.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:39 am UTC

Another thing about the post office? The have 1 in every county, by law. County with 200 people in the middle of nowhere, Alaska? Has a post office. UPS doesn't have to deliver there, spending $100k/year to make maybe $200 in revenue, but USPS does. And there is something to be said about being able to mail to anywhere in the US.

The real bloat in the post office is the bureaucracy and benefits system. If Fedex offers giant benefits packages to employees to the point that it has to overprice its service/product and ends up going out of business, it declares bankruptcy and the pensions disappear (see American auto manufacturers in the next decade). If the federal government does so, taxes just rise (or the money is borrowed at an exponential rate).

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:56 am UTC

"George Bush's War" was well known for being the first in recent history to put government contractors (instead of the military) on the ground. I don't know the extent of it, nor do I know the history. I do know that the media exploded with respect to Blackwater, but I don't really remember everything. Just a talking point I wanted to bring up. I'd be interested in listening, I don't know enough to really contribute to such a conversation.

But I figure something like that would happen if the Department of Defense were privatized.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:03 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:"George Bush's War" was well known for being the first in recent history to put government contractors (instead of the military) on the ground. I don't know the extent of it, nor do I know the history. I do know that the media exploded with respect to Blackwater, but I don't really remember everything. Just a talking point I wanted to bring up. I'd be interested in listening, I don't know enough to really contribute to such a conversation.

But I figure something like that would happen if the Department of Defense were privatized.


I think we used mercenaries in Vietnam as well. I wouldn't be surprised if the CIA made use of them in all sorts of little wars during the cold war as well. Lots of countries contract out to them for security in unstable regions, especially oil companies.

Mercenaries are probably a good solution for protecting foreign investments. Local protection for a country that isn't likely to be invaded, could probably be easily handled through militias and an armed population, although, I'd personally be happier knowing a well equipped and well trained government force is ready to quell a revolution.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:22 am UTC

You could contract out the prison system (something I think is a bad idea)


How many libertarians don't think the prison system is a proper function of government?
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:27 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
You could contract out the prison system (something I think is a bad idea)


How many libertarians don't think the prison system is a proper function of government?


A lot, actually. Hell, we are already outsourcing prisons to private companies (which results in lobby groups that don't want drugs legalized entirely because it would kill their profits).

Here's a quote from the Arizona Libertarian Party website:

There is no reason to stand in the way of privatization of prisons. Prisoners do have rights, but a private prison is no less able to protect those limited rights than a government prison. On the other hand, a private prison, with a profit motivation, will best make use of the labor force in prisons so that actual restitution can be made to victims of the crimes for which these convicts were incarcerated.


http://www.azlp.org/platform.php#prisons

Here's an article on the lobbying activities of private prisons:
http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/0 ... -industry/

This is a good enough reason for me to want all prisons government ran.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:50 am UTC

IMO, there are some major deficiencies going on with for-profit education.

Default Rate of Stuents from For Profit Schools hit 25%

The stats don't lie. The 10-year social experiment with For-Profit Education should end... well, thats a bit of a lie. I think for-profit schools can exist, but there needs to be significantly more regulations to stop the madness. (25% default rate? Seriously???)
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Ulc » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:22 am UTC

As I see it, the problem with a libertarian state is that some areas it's not a good idea to let profit, rather than humanitarian concerns dominate. A few of those areas would be general education, healthcare, the justice system (not just prisons, but definitely those as well) and the treasure.

Of course, these can work as private institutions, but a heavily regulated market does not provide the benefits for society that libertarians think that a free market does. And in doubt anyone is in favour of essentially recreating social classes where no advancement based on personal ability is possible - which is the end result of children of poor parents can't even get basic education like learning to read/write and basic math. Something that they wont learn if the parents are unable to cough up the several thousand dollars a school would cost per child per year.

Also keep in mind that the free market only works when everyone is playing nice. Cartels, dirty business methods (the top dog declaring to all suppliers that if they trade with the underdog, the top dog won't trade with them, and a monopoly is created), exploitation of weak groups and general nastiness all cause a breakdown of the supposed benefits.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Adam H » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:16 pm UTC

My plan as dictator of Nonexistia:

I would divide the country into about 10 regions (we'll call them states), so there'd be about 3 million people in each state. I'd appoint a like-minded dictator (we'll call them governors) to rule over the states. After a certain amount of time elapsed, all the original governors would be forced to retire and the state government that they set up would have to be self sustaining in some way.

Now I'd eliminate every single government department, except Defense, Treasury, and Transportation/Environment, which I woud rename as State Relations or something. Basically this agency would regulate the state governments to make sure they weren't doing anything detrimental to the other states.

The other states compete to create the best state government, and population between states would be free-flowing, creating a free market for the state governments. You would have to pay state taxes to receive any state government benefits, so no sitting on the border getting the best of both states.

Sure there would be problems, but they'd fix themselves.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Czhorat » Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:22 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:"George Bush's War" was well known for being the first in recent history to put government contractors (instead of the military) on the ground. I don't know the extent of it, nor do I know the history. I do know that the media exploded with respect to Blackwater, but I don't really remember everything. Just a talking point I wanted to bring up. I'd be interested in listening, I don't know enough to really contribute to such a conversation.

But I figure something like that would happen if the Department of Defense were privatized.



Government services provided through third-party contractors are still paid for and run by the government.

A true libertarian solution would be to allow private citizens to hire defence contractors and have the government stay out of it entirely.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby TrlstanC » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:28 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Uh, the post master general testified before Congress that USPS losses will reach 238$ billion. I'm not sure how else to qualify the government run company as a failure.


The USPS loses money primarily because they charge less for services than what the services cost to produce. There is undoubtedly some amount of inefficiency in an organization that large, as would be true of any large organization. There may even be more inefficiency than would be typical, but that's extremely hard to judge. I doubt that even with perfect efficiency they would make money though, the prices are just too low. What's easier to judge is how well the USPS completes its primary mandate: delivering letters and packages to anywhere in the country at a reasonable price. By most accounts they're very good at this.

But what about the $238 billion in losses? Those are paid for by tax payers, so we all end up paying for the mail one way or another, either through postage and/or taxes. Is it a good deal once we include taxes in the equation? I don't think there's an easy answer to that question, but a lot of people would probably think that it's worth it (of course if we had better information, they might change their minds).

But the point is that judging the USPS by how much money it makes or loses is the wrong metric, since that's not its goal, you might as well judge it on how well it fights a war.


The same would go for any other department or public organization that the citizens of a libertarian state would want to cut, they shouldn't be judged on profit or loss. They should be judge by how much public benefit they provide vs. how much liberty they require us to give us. The goal of libertarians isn't to cut taxes, or make the government smaller (if we had no government many libertarians would want a bigger one, and more taxes to pay for it too), the goal is to maximize personal liberty. Most would agree that giving up some personal liberty is acceptable when the benefits greatly outweigh the cost. For example, having national defense is usually considered worthwhile since without one there's a good chance we'd lose the right to govern ourselves at all.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Cleverbeans » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:21 pm UTC

For every USPS there is an Enron or Tyco showing us exactly how incompetent private industry can be. Canada Post is and has been profitable for some time, and socialized health insurance has consistently demonstrated to significantly reduce cost and improve health outcomes. Personally I feel that any strong anti-public sector sentiment is generally a reflection that there has been a significant loss in confidence in the country itself. I'm not confident that the correct solution in such situations is to privatize industry, since at least with government agencies we enjoy public oversight and transparency to monitor their progress.

Also, I know that conservatives love to hijack the libertarian movement as though it were a fundamentally capitalist structure but there is nothing contradictory about a socialist libertarian position as well. Proponents of no or small government are better described as anarchists or minarchists respectively. This style of governance would require a very different transition than a capitalist one.

As for the specific scenario described I assume it would happen just as it has in the past. Begin with widespread propaganda vilifying the government and the poor while appealing to nationalist rhetoric. Then, build strong support from key industries such as finance and utilities. Meanwhile, establish key positions within the government and build up the military while eroding the freedoms of individuals to organize unions, trade organizations, or charities. Plant officials and supporters in key government positions and core industries such as finance. Then seize control by force slaughtering anyone who opposes you in particular those consistent bastions of opposition (academics, the free press, original inhabitants of the land you want, etc.) Finally plunder the governments assets by selling them for a song to the established rich further weakening the working classes ability to resist financial and military domination. Now enjoy the spoils - you now have complete freedom to financially enslave your fellow man for personal gain without interference from democratic processes, peaceful protests, or organized opposition of any form. All that's left is to delude yourself into believing that capitalism and liberty can coincide while ignoring the systemic bias towards the ownership class.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:15 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote: Those are paid for by tax payers, so we all end up paying for the mail one way or another, either through postage and/or taxes.

Just to point out, from the Wikipedia:
The Wiki on USPS wrote:The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.

The company has basically been held aloft in debt in a weird half-way, because it is neither a government owned business, nor a privately run company. Because it's appointments are determined by the President, and it has a Supreme Court defended monopoly on post office boxes, it's as close to a definition of a dead horse I can imagine.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Tyranny of Javascript » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:14 am UTC

Thesh wrote:So what departments could actually be successfully privatized? Either into non-profit, or for-profit organizations. What would need to happen to transition them? This is not a place to discuss the morality of libertarianism. The intent is to discuss whether a migration to a libertarian government could happen, and what the negative and positive effects would be.


The following cannot be successfully privatized because they are required for a market based on private ownership to function.
  • Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Treasury
  • Business and Trade
The following are needed to protect private interests and would be redundant to privatize since the state would need to regulate them with its own organizations.
  • Defense
  • Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Treasury
  • State
  • Business and Trade
The following are required to promote contracts that increase total wealth and deter contracts that transfer wealth at the expense of total wealth or economic growth.
  • Social Welfare
  • Labor
  • Business and Trade
(The previous two categories are required since there would be no point in working so hard to establish a government that governs based on the will of the governed if it's impotent to prevent non-governmental entities from governing its people against their will. You could probably argue against this if you convinced yourself that market failures don't exist in practice because they're outside the scope of any free market theory or similar doublethink.)

The following would be desirable to centralize to improve safety and efficiency
  • Defense
  • Health
  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire and Rescue
  • Transportation
  • State
  • Development

The following involve externalities and would be useless if one of the organizations "cheated." (For example, printing money, sneaking enemy troops into the country, etc.) They would need to act as single organization anyway.
  • Defense
  • Health
  • Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Treasury
  • Transportation
  • Energy and Water
  • Waste
  • Communication
  • Agriculture
  • State
  • Business and Trade
  • Environment
  • Development

The following are desirable to have and provide incredible opportunity for economic growth, but would be underfunded by private organizations due to externalities.
  • Defense
  • Social Welfare
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Energy and Water
  • Communication
  • Agriculture
  • State
  • Business and Trade
  • Environment
  • Development

That only leaves Parks, Waste management, and maybe certain aspects of Education (publicly funded private schools alternatives?) and Social Welfare (some type of insurance?). Everything would require a lot of regulation. Almost so much that the government of Nonexistia would be doing most of the management (of private organizations) and would resemble the same organizations you tried to get rid of. Obviously at least one person would be unhappy with "over regulation." You would also need to subsidize private organizations (including for profit and non-profit) or not all regions would receive services they previously expected unless they received additional incentive (such as a subsidy from a local government instead of the national one or a deal with a corrupt politician.) There would be people unhappy with that, too. And you would need a lot more regulation to make sure those subsidies didn't disappear like public money used for subsidizing broadband companies or bailouts did. There would be a lot more redundancy, less productivity, and more sources of corruption to worry about.

Note: I did not mention information asymmetry, but it's the reason I made the assumption that regulation was "required." "Self regulation" is useless unless you have the government regulating the regulators or buyers have perfect information. Since consumers can't know, in the real world, if some shortcut a car manufacturer took will make their cars explode in the future or when it will happen, regulation provides a greater boost to the economy than its restrictions take away. (Depending on your moral system, you probably shouldn't use the estimated profit from a hypothetical situation where you sold your customers dangerous vehicles you knew could explode as a standard for reporting if regulation makes more money or makes you "lose money.")



And of course that's without even considering what your definition of libertarianism is or what you're trying to do. Do you simply want the best libertarian society you can get even if it's not as good? Do you need the ideal society and also have that be a libertarian one? Do you need the new policy to be better than the original and be libertarian? I don't have my own definition of libertarianism, but I know it would be extremely difficult. I haven't seen any proposals that address government or market failures, so I can't tell you the pros or cons. This could be possible, but even then I'm not willing to only look at one theory when there are alternatives.

You would have to face the same [ url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_failure]market[ /url] and [ url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_failure]governmental[ /url] failures that are a problem today. Both forms of failures can be fixed by the public through the government actions, but the market won't fix your government (even if you believe it can fix itself) and doesn't give you any votes.

TrlstanC wrote:They should be judge by how much public benefit they provide vs. how much liberty they require us to give us.

Most of the time this question seems like a [ url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_of_the_bike_shed]color of the bike shed[ /url] problem. Other times I wonder if politicians I completely ignorant of microeconomics or if they're deliberately misleading the public to pass laws that decrease liberties and public benefits for the sake of the monopolist's benefit.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby cphite » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:21 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
Thesh wrote: The assumption that is made by most libertarians is that private enterprise is more efficient than government, but I don't think it's that simple.

It's just generally true. Case in point, the post office, and Waste Management (the company).


For the post office, I'm trying to find out why they are considered inefficient. The main thing I have heard in the past is that they don't make a profit. I'm checking shipping rates between UPS, Fedex, and USPS. A 1 pound package from postal code 10001 to 90024 gives the following price:

Fedex Home Delivery: $11.37
UPS Ground: $12.34
USPS Parcel Post: $5.41


Saying that the USPS doesn't make a profit is a bit of an understatement. They're bleeding money to the tune of billions every year.

I understand direct comparisons is problematic, because USPS is very different from the business model of Fedex or UPS. A google search tells me as the weight of the package goes up, USPS gets more expensive.

So sure, USPS takes a loss, but is that because they are inefficient, or because their prices are so cheap (hell, a letter is 44 cents to send anywhere in the country)?


The main reason they operate at a loss is that they're required to prefund 100% of retiree health benefits. The law forcing them to do this was passed in 2006 - it's no coincidence that they started bleeding money in 2007. It's simply not economically feasible for a non-profit (they're not government supported) business to do this. Until this requirement is removed, the USPS as it exists today is essentially doomed. Either the requirement has to go, or they'll have to become federally funded. The only other alternative (which really isn't one) would be to raise their prices to be even higher (much higher) than their competition.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby mutestorm » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:43 am UTC

Thesh wrote:Now, many people in the US feel that spending should simply be cut, and any department they consider unnecessary should be disbanded. Of course, this is idiotic and would cause chaos.

I feel the same, but could you detail why exactly it would cause chaos?

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:30 am UTC

mutestorm wrote:
Thesh wrote:Now, many people in the US feel that spending should simply be cut, and any department they consider unnecessary should be disbanded. Of course, this is idiotic and would cause chaos.

I feel the same, but could you detail why exactly it would cause chaos?


Imagine what would happen if Medicaid was cut. While some of the "lazy layabouts" would get work, the vast majority would end up homeless or turn to crime, arguably costing society more than Medicaid costs.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:08 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
mutestorm wrote:
Thesh wrote:Now, many people in the US feel that spending should simply be cut, and any department they consider unnecessary should be disbanded. Of course, this is idiotic and would cause chaos.

I feel the same, but could you detail why exactly it would cause chaos?


Imagine what would happen if Medicaid was cut. While some of the "lazy layabouts" would get work, the vast majority would end up homeless or turn to crime, arguably costing society more than Medicaid costs.


Or a lot of people would get sick and die.

In a more general sense, to answer mutestorm's question, is that when people are planning/budgeting for their lives, they make certain assumptions about how their revenue stream and expenses operate. People who use Medicaid, for example, probably wouldn't have proper--or any--health insurance coverage without it, so if you cut Medicaid very suddenly, a lot of people would suddenly find themselves being dumped with their full medical bills and no coverage. Likewise, if you eliminated the Postal Service overnight, you'd probably find a lot of people upset because they wouldn't be getting any mail for months, because no private sector company would be presently ready/able to fill in the gap in a short time even if they wanted to. Large changes well mess with people's lives. If you wanted to have a hope in hell of having your libertarian transition be successful, you would need it to be pretty gradual. I'd be tempted to say that you would also need to do some pretty massive wealth distribution from top-to-bottom as part of the transition, because cutting government services effectively acts as a bottom-to-top wealth transition--the people who are going to be disproportionately harmed by the move to libertarianism would be the poor, because rather than having even poor/inefficient (or, in some cases, good/efficient) services provided by government, they simply have no services at all.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Czhorat » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:In a more general sense, to answer mutestorm's question, is that when people are planning/budgeting for their lives, they make certain assumptions about how their revenue stream and expenses operate. People who use Medicaid, for example, probably wouldn't have proper--or any--health insurance coverage without it, so if you cut Medicaid very suddenly, a lot of people would suddenly find themselves being dumped with their full medical bills and no coverage.


This presupposes that in your libertarian fantasyland everyone has enough money to put aside for health care, either through insurance or saving to pay practitioners directly. Because Libertarians tend to look down on minumum wage laws AND people making minimum wage already have trouble affording food and shelter I consider this a very optimistic assumption. More likely is that you'd have people without government-provided services depending on whatever private charities are available in their area and are interesting in serving people of their religion/ethnic background/sexual orientation.

I prefer a responsible and functioning government.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:04 pm UTC

Czhorat wrote:This presupposes that in your libertarian fantasyland everyone has enough money to put aside for health care, either through insurance or saving to pay practitioners directly. Because Libertarians tend to look down on minumum wage laws AND people making minimum wage already have trouble affording food and shelter I consider this a very optimistic assumption. More likely is that you'd have people without government-provided services depending on whatever private charities are available in their area and are interesting in serving people of their religion/ethnic background/sexual orientation.

I prefer a responsible and functioning government.


The Negative Income Tax would solve those problems.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Fedechiar » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:56 pm UTC

The NIT basically implies that the rich pay for the poor's basic services...You can't escape that, if you want the whole population to mantain a minimum living standard the state has to do some redistribution (whether through a NIT or a public welfare system)

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:47 pm UTC

No one said the NIT didn't.

Just that it is far more open and honest than the stealth tax system currently in place. You receive, say, 60k/yr and have to pay 18k in total taxes, so you think you have paid only 30% of your income in tax. But what you didn't see is that your employer had to pay 24k/yr Medicare/Medicaid, FUTA, Worker's Comp, the 3% matching for SS, etc, which are all based on your income. You were really paid 84k, and the government took half.

Plus, under NIT, welfare doesn't suddenly disappear if you earn an extra few dollars. Seriously, who designs a system where working can actually make you poorer? If you consider welfare as 'income', and the loss of welfare as a 'tax', the income tax rate is ~80% for poor people, or something ridiculously high.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby pizzazz » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:07 am UTC

I don't think the objection most libertarians have to a lot of the government function the principle of their existence, but one of scale.

The following departments out of the OP represent jobs I, as an advocate for small government, would delegate to the government. These should be obvious as things that private corporations can't do, or can't do efficiently (because exteranilities get in the way).

Defense
Justice
Law Enforcement
Treasury
Communication
State
Business and Trade (assuming you actually only mean monopoly-breaking)
Environment
Parks

However, several of these would be in much reduced capacity compared to that which currently exists in many modern democracies.

A number of functions could be largely or entirely privatized (or removed)
Health--US is first in the world in "responsiveness" meaning, you know, actual quality of care.
Social Welfare--the point of such an organization, private or government-run, should be to make its own existence unnecessary. Government employees who are only paid if there are poor people have no motivation to actually get people out of poverty (non-profits would do this job much better in my opinion).
Education--Government schools in the US spend amounts of money comparable to many private schools on a per student basis, and more than many religious schools, and yet produce students who are largely mediocre at best. On the other hand, look at any world university ranking. Who dominates the top spots? Private US universities.
Labor--The problem with having the government enforce regulations on labor is that as the cost of labor rises, demand for it drops, and so unemployment increases. This is something that workers and unions should handle on their own.
Energy and water--why exactly should these be government run?
Waste--Ditto
Agriculture--Unless you show me otherwise, I'm going to assume that the government shouldn't be in the business of telling me what I can and can't put in my body.
Development--see Waste

If you really think it's necessary, you can have government helping to fund some of this (education springs to mind, though I have to imagine that cheaper private schools would exist in the absence of government schools. Perhaps some funding for charities, or regulation of natural monopolies ie water). But primarily, it should be private companies doing the actual running. They will, in general, be more efficient, because they have to be, or they'll get replaced by someone else. You can't fire government.
Moreover, you're going to convinced me that government should be running X, Y, and Z, then show me that government will be better. Not almost as good or debatable, but distinctly better, because putting the government in charge most likely means less liberty. Motivation doesn't mean anything; I would much rather have my life-saving drug now from a greedy company that only sees me as a money spigot, than maybe getting it 6 months down the line when I'm dead from a government that claims to care about me. And if people are greedy, or self-serving, or care about themselves and no one else, well, that's no reason to make a single, powerful government out of them, rather than a number of corporations that are competing with each other.

CorruptUser wrote:Plus, under NIT, welfare doesn't suddenly disappear if you earn an extra few dollars. Seriously, who designs a system where working can actually make you poorer? If you consider welfare as 'income', and the loss of welfare as a 'tax', the income tax rate is ~80% for poor people, or something ridiculously high.


If you are receiving significant welfare and the welfare decreases steadily with income, but slowly enough that you don't have a huge tax rate, then you're going to be receiving welfare into incomes that probably don't need it.
Of course, if they just received less welfare, then the tax rate would be lower and they would have added incentive to work more, but I doubt that's the solution you were going for.
I, personally, would prefer a much simpler tax system all around.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Thesh » Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:22 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:Health--US is first in the world in "responsiveness" meaning, you know, actual quality of care.


According to the WHO report in 2000, the US ranked 37th in quality, despite being the most expensive system.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHO%27s_ra ... re_systems

Even if your statement was true, correlation does not imply causation. That said, if you do have public health care, even just for a portion of the citizens, how do you transition them to private health care without them simply losing the ability to get health care?

pizzazz wrote:Social Welfare--the point of such an organization, private or government-run, should be to make its own existence unnecessary. Government employees who are only paid if there are poor people have no motivation to actually get people out of poverty (non-profits would do this job much better in my opinion).


Employees of non-profit organizations are still paid, so what should change? The argument itself is pure conjecture, and I don't buy it. I don't see any evidence that people working for welfare offices are deliberately trying to keep people on welfare. Either way, how do you transition to this without leaving a large percentage of the country to starve?

pizzazz wrote:Education--Government schools in the US spend amounts of money comparable to many private schools on a per student basis, and more than many religious schools, and yet produce students who are largely mediocre at best. On the other hand, look at any world university ranking. Who dominates the top spots? Private US universities.


Private US universities and Public UK universities. Also, the point I made about health care also applies to this argument.
http://www.topuniversities.com/universi ... kings/2010

Also, comparing private schools to public schools in the US is problematic because public school students and private school students have very different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Again, how do you transition to entirely private universities without seriously degrading the quality of education during the transition?

pizzazz wrote:Labor--The problem with having the government enforce regulations on labor is that as the cost of labor rises, demand for it drops, and so unemployment increases. This is something that workers and unions should handle on their own.


Why does the cost of labor rise? By making working conditions better for the employees? Whether the workers or the unions cause working conditions to be better, it still costs the companies the same. Actually, I would argue that Unions have a much larger impact on the cost of labor than the government.

pizzazz wrote:Energy and water--why exactly should these be government run?
Waste--Ditto
Development--see Waste


They are natural monopolies. You can't choose who you get your power and water from, so there is no competition.

pizzazz wrote:Agriculture--Unless you show me otherwise, I'm going to assume that the government shouldn't be in the business of telling me what I can and can't put in my body.

Department of Agriculture isn't so much about telling you what you can put in your body, it's about making sure that what you are putting into your body is what you think you are putting into your body. It's about making sure the food produced isn't contaminated by poisons and harmful bacteria. I don't see how that can be privatized.

pizzazz wrote:I, personally, would prefer a much simpler tax system all around.


Yes, a simpler tax system would be great. I would like to see the only tax in the United States be income tax. Combine that with public health care, and it becomes significantly cheaper to employ people and significantly easier for businesses to profit .
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Zamfir » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:34 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:No one said the NIT didn't.

Just that it is far more open and honest than the stealth tax system currently in place. You receive, say, 60k/yr and have to pay 18k in total taxes, so you think you have paid only 30% of your income in tax. But what you didn't see is that your employer had to pay 24k/yr Medicare/Medicaid, FUTA, Worker's Comp, the 3% matching for SS, etc, which are all based on your income. You were really paid 84k, and the government took half.

Plus, under NIT, welfare doesn't suddenly disappear if you earn an extra few dollars. Seriously, who designs a system where working can actually make you poorer? If you consider welfare as 'income', and the loss of welfare as a 'tax', the income tax rate is ~80% for poor people, or something ridiculously high.

Long term political stability is important here. It might sound attractive to remove a service and replace it by a cash handout that can buy the service. People who want a more expensive version can top up, people who prefer cash can buy a reduced version, people who liked the old system can simply buy it themselves. Some people win, no one loses.

Trouble is, you cannot credibily promise to keep such a deal in the long term. A service has its own political support base, people from all walks of life (including well to do and influential) who will notice a drop in quality, can organize, raise a fuss, put pressure on politicians. That acts as a counterbalance against the natural tendency to cut funding in order to fund other things, or to reduce taxes.

But once the service has been removed and its organization gone, there is no easy move back to it anymore. In 5 or 10 years time, the debate will be over the level of the cash handout, and the "deal" will be mostly forgotten or deemed irrelevant to the "new situation" . And lots of people who had a stake in the old service have no stake in the handout. Handout or tax cut, it's the same for them. So the handout becomes part of the general "how to distribute taxes and transfers" debate, where the political balance hasn't changed much by the cutting of the service.

Suppose you dislike one-size-fits-all education, but prefer a good minimum level of education for everybody. Then your optimal policy outcome might not be stable. Without some amount of one-size-fits-all, supporters of good education for poor people will need a ready supply of Oprah-level ghetto schools to keep the point on the agenda and protect the budget, while one-size-fits-all alows them to hand over protection of the program to a wide coalition of 'concerned parents'.

Politics is about creating coalitions. A policy without stable support is like those website startups without monetization plans: they might actually provide a useful benefit to the world, but they are hard to keep running in the long run.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:09 pm UTC

pizzazz wrote:Education--Government schools in the US spend amounts of money comparable to many private schools on a per student basis, and more than many religious schools, and yet produce students who are largely mediocre at best. On the other hand, look at any world university ranking. Who dominates the top spots? Private US universities.


Counterpoint: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/colleg ... t_rate.php
People who attend for-profit colleges default on their student loans at very high rates. Only 36 percent of students involved with these companies repay their loans on time, compared to 54 percent of students at public colleges and 56 percent of students who attended private colleges. For-profit colleges account for 43 percent of all student loan default rates


As far as actually getting an education, a job, and paying off your loans... Private For-Profit Schools are absolutely terrible, FAR worse than public colleges. Public Colleges are only a little bit worse than private non-profit schools.

But hey, when for-profit schools spend more on marketing than on faculty and staff... what do you expect? Either way, for-profit schools are a scary reminder of what would happen if Education were completely privatized. I don't think those businessmen are bad people, they just care more about pleasing their shareholders than the student's education. And who would blame them? They'd get fired if the shareholders thought they were doing a bad job.

Shareholders don't care about the student's education. The CEOs of the for-profit schools probably do, but they have a conflict of interest between the students and the shareholders. Frankly, the ones with the big money (the shareholders) will win every time. There are always more students who can be tricked by marketing efforts, or straight up lied to, so that they are tricked into getting an overpriced sub-par education. But once shareholders / investors are gone, they're gone.

-----------

BTW: For-Profit schools are failing in every mark. Here's their graduation rates:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-1 ... -dime.html
Students at for-profit colleges are defaulting on their loans at three times the rate of those at private, nonprofit institutions, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education, which is tightening regulation of the industry. The graduation rate for first-time, full-time candidates for four- year degrees at for-profit colleges is 22 percent, compared with 55 percent at state colleges and 65 percent at private nonprofit universities.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby Adam H » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:06 pm UTC

KnightExemplar: all you showed is that good/rich students go to the nonprofit schools (public or private). Really unsurprising...
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:30 am UTC

I understand that most of the above were correlations. But there are specific things that allow me to make the implied conclusion.

1. Again, the rampant lying that recruiters from for-profit schools do. It is no coincidence that for-profit schools push their recruiters heavily (students are their primary source of income after all). But there are multiple investigations where recruiters outright lie to the students.

The link from my earlier post: http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/profit-edu ... d=11411379

http://www.statesman.com/business/for-p ... 40137.html
Recruiters at for-profit colleges lied to entice students and encouraged them to commit fraud to qualify for aid, a report by the Government Accountability Office found. Recruiters at all 15 colleges studied by the GAO, Congress's investigational arm, misled potential students about the costs, duration and quality of their programs, according to a report obtained by Bloomberg News that will be released today.


That is a sample of 15 out of 15. Thats 100% of the for-profit schools investigated lied to their students.

Regardless of the correlations involved, it is clear that the for-profit schools have a motivation to misrepresent the services they offer.

2. The cost of for-profit schools is typically higher than the cost for state-schools. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GAO_8 ... igures.png

3. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/colleg ... end_t.html
For-profit colleges spend barely half of their budget on education and nearly one-third on recruiting and marketing, spending heavily "on television advertisements, billboards, phone solicitation, and web marketing." Some publicly traded schools spend as little as 32 percent on education.


I'm sure that for-profit schools cater to the low-income families. But the fact of the matter is, those families are receiving a worse education at a higher cost. For-Profits invest in the wrong things (marketing instead of education). They regularly lie to their students, and finally, cost more than state schools, and sometimes even higher than private non-profits. If this is what the free-market brings to education, I don't really want it.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:08 am UTC

Well, the free market when government aid is involved, as are government supported student loans. People with money of their parents own go to private, state, or community colleges.

Make it possible to default on student loans, so the school suffers when they give loans to people who shouldn't qualify, or audit the people applying for government grants, and you will see this nonsense disappear.

As for "wrong investments" on the for-profit school's behalf, I'd be more concerned about the diploma-mill situation than the poor education. Where, no matter how bad the kids do in class, they get pushed through and get that piece of paper that no one will actually take seriously.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby pizzazz » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:23 am UTC

I was referring to private non-profit schools (ie most of them). At any rate, those sound like practices that are already illegal and need to be prosecuted properly (maybe I wouldn't be against more government intervention if it actually did it's job well).

Thesh wrote:
pizzazz wrote:Health--US is first in the world in "responsiveness" meaning, you know, actual quality of care.


According to the WHO report in 2000, the US ranked 37th in quality, despite being the most expensive system.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WHO%27s_ra ... re_systems

Even if your statement was true, correlation does not imply causation. That said, if you do have public health care, even just for a portion of the citizens, how do you transition them to private health care without them simply losing the ability to get health care?

If you had read my post, you would see that I said "responsiveness," not overall. "Responsiveness: Responsiveness includes two major components. These are (a) respect for persons (including dignity, confidentiality and autonomy of individuals and families to decide about their own health); and (b) client orientation (including prompt attention, access to social support networks during care, quality of basic amenities and choice of provider)." This is pretty much the only category that directly addresses the quality of health care provided by the health care system itself. And the US does rank first in that. It's 37th rank comes from a number of factors, including the fact that Americans choose to spend a lot of money on quality care, the tort system, poor health choices on the part of many, tying insurane to employment, research, and other things that drive up costs.
http://www.who.int/whr/2000/media_centre/press_release/en/
I was focusing on the
So what departments could actually be successfully privatized? Either into non-profit, or for-profit organizations.
part of the end of the OP. I'm short on details on how exactly the transition would go, but I imagine in general the process for converting most of these departments would go something like this:
1. Government announces that some service (eg health care) will be privatized and gives everyone a time frame to find private insurance (ideally not tied to employment, since that makes no sense) and apply for government aid (preferably in the form of vouchers for health care rather than cash).
2. People transfer off government service over the course of several months/whatever time period, and as such employees are gradually fired.
3. Government agency ceases to receive funding/exist.
pizzazz wrote:Social Welfare--the point of such an organization, private or government-run, should be to make its own existence unnecessary. Government employees who are only paid if there are poor people have no motivation to actually get people out of poverty (non-profits would do this job much better in my opinion).


Employees of non-profit organizations are still paid, so what should change? The argument itself is pure conjecture, and I don't buy it. I don't see any evidence that people working for welfare offices are deliberately trying to keep people on welfare. Either way, how do you transition to this without leaving a large percentage of the country to starve?

I'm not sure what you think constitutes a "large percentage," but if that many people are dependent on social welfare to keep from starving, then you have bigger problems.
My point is not that all government employees are necessarily selfish to the point of making sure people on welfare. But private charities do tend to work differently (ie not passing out unmonitered cash). Lots of people donate money and volunteer time to private charities. How many donations and volunteers do government bureaucracies get? More importantly, this allows people to choose which charities, and thus which causes, they donate to. As a result, people tend to have influence over the type of aid that is provided, and so the type of aid provided, like any good in a market, reflects what those doing the donating actually want.
pizzazz wrote:Education--Government schools in the US spend amounts of money comparable to many private schools on a per student basis, and more than many religious schools, and yet produce students who are largely mediocre at best. On the other hand, look at any world university ranking. Who dominates the top spots? Private US universities.


Private US universities and Public UK universities. Also, the point I made about health care also applies to this argument.
http://www.topuniversities.com/universi ... kings/2010

Also, comparing private schools to public schools in the US is problematic because public school students and private school students have very different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Again, how do you transition to entirely private universities without seriously degrading the quality of education during the transition?

Which point about health care? Correlation? American public schools (referring to pre-university level) are by and large terrible. Private, charter, and technical schools generally perform better while costing similar or less per student, for a variety of reasons--less bureaucracy and stupid government regulation, generally nonunionized teacher workforce, merit pay for teachers, communication with parents, I could go on. You can chalk some of it up to socioeconomic differences, but the success of charter schools (which generally consist of very similar student bodies to local public schools) makes it hard to really pin the difference on that.

Last year a new charter school in New York opened, with admission determined by lottery. You know the admission rate? 2%. Yes, that says 2%. For reference, most universities here are considered difficult to get into if their rate is under 25%. The best universities in country--Harvard, Stanford, etc, get under 10, recently as low as 6-7. This school had one-third or one-fourth the acceptance rate of Harvard because it represented a chance for students to get out of the New York public school system. The only reason these other students remain in the system is because there are no options in between government schools and expensive private schools, and the teachers unions have largely blocked voucher programs (despite their massive success).
pizzazz wrote:Labor--The problem with having the government enforce regulations on labor is that as the cost of labor rises, demand for it drops, and so unemployment increases. This is something that workers and unions should handle on their own.


Why does the cost of labor rise? By making working conditions better for the employees? Whether the workers or the unions cause working conditions to be better, it still costs the companies the same. Actually, I would argue that Unions have a much larger impact on the cost of labor than the government.

The cost of labor rises if, for example, government establishes a minimum wage, or minimum vacation or break time, or unnecessary "safety" regulations.
Government applies the same one-size-fits-all regulations to large groups of companies and workers, rather than letting each company and its workers decide what meets their needs best.
pizzazz wrote:Energy and water--why exactly should these be government run?
Waste--Ditto
Development--see Waste


They are natural monopolies. You can't choose who you get your power and water from, so there is no competition.

You can still contract the business itself out to private companies. Then, if you don't like the service, fire them. What is your option if the government runs them? Wait 2 or 4 or 6 years and hope it matters enough to affect the election, and hope the union doesn't get in the way?
pizzazz wrote:Agriculture--Unless you show me otherwise, I'm going to assume that the government shouldn't be in the business of telling me what I can and can't put in my body.

Department of Agriculture isn't so much about telling you what you can put in your body, it's about making sure that what you are putting into your body is what you think you are putting into your body. It's about making sure the food produced isn't contaminated by poisons and harmful bacteria. I don't see how that can be privatized.

Make it optional. Then people who don't care, or trust companies, can get un-certified goods. Those who do care will look for goods that independent firms have certified as safe and effective (such companies already exist).
There also seems to be this fallacious argument, popular among advocates for larger government, that private companies will always cut quality to cut costs. While that may sometimes happen, in general, companies want to have the highest quality possible for the price they charge, as that causes repeat business. Selling bad products tends not to result in repeat business. It is much better to cut costs by developing more efficient processes, for example.
pizzazz wrote:I, personally, would prefer a much simpler tax system all around.


Yes, a simpler tax system would be great. I would like to see the only tax in the United States be income tax. Combine that with public health care, and it becomes significantly cheaper to employ people and significantly easier for businesses to profit .


You don't need public health care, just don't link health insurance to employment. Like, you know, every other type of insurance. There are other problems with health insurance as well, but that's beside (this) point.

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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:38 pm UTC

I was referring to private non-profit schools (ie most of them). At any rate, those sound like practices that are already illegal and need to be prosecuted properly (maybe I wouldn't be against more government intervention if it actually did it's job well).


Those practices are NOW illegal because of Government Intervention. (Ex: Paying marketers by commission was recently outlawed, new regulations on the default rates of universities, etc. etc. These laws changed in reaction to the for-profits screwing up our system).

The Department of Education has been working the past few years to throw more regulations on the for-profit system, due to these new statistics coming out (which were collected by the DoE). Basically, this is a problem that was identified first by the Department of Education (specifically, the default rates that the DoE collects), and then it was addressed by the Department of Education (New Regulations taking effect June 2011)

"The Free Market" didn't address the issue. Colleges already have "ratings" from various newspapers that verify the quality of schools. This is NOT enough to ensure quality at the University level. For Example, Newsweek (owned by the Washington Post when that article was written) offers ratings for universities each year.

Wait. The Washington Post (aka Kaplan) OWNS a ton of for-profit Universities.
Wait. In 2009, the Washington Post made more money from its for-profit universities than they did making newspapers/magazines.

Basically, the Free Market sucks in this situation. And this isn't some theory, this is the real world and the real world effects. Our laws need to be significantly revamped if we are to switch over to the private education system at the university level. We need someone to ensure that the ratings are actually independent (Ex: Companies such as the Washington Post should not be allowed to both review universities, as well as own a ton of for-profit universities). More statistics need to be gathered on the practices of for-profit universities.

Fortunately, we can trust the Departnment of Education to independently verify and benchmark Universities.
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby TrlstanC » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:35 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:Department of Agriculture isn't so much about telling you what you can put in your body, it's about making sure that what you are putting into your body is what you think you are putting into your body. It's about making sure the food produced isn't contaminated by poisons and harmful bacteria. I don't see how that can be privatized.


KnightExemplar wrote:"The Free Market" didn't address the issue. Colleges already have "ratings" from various newspapers that verify the quality of schools. This is NOT enough to ensure quality at the University level. For Example, Newsweek (owned by the Washington Post when that article was written) offers ratings for universities each year.

Wait. The Washington Post (aka Kaplan) OWNS a ton of for-profit Universities.
Wait. In 2009, the Washington Post made more money from its for-profit universities than they did making newspapers/magazines.


These are both great points, and really get at the idea of what the free market means. It doesn’t mean that the government gets out completely and doesn’t do anything. In fact, a government is essential to ensuring that a free market functions smoothly and efficiently. A government (people getting together to agree on rights, regulation and responsibilities we’ll all share) can maintain a currency and enforce contracts. Without that, there would barely be a market at all. More importantly in a free market people need information to judge value correctly so they can make the decisions that will balance supply and demand. The “free” refers to people choosing whether they want to buy or sell or not, not to a complete lack of regulation or oversight (that we all agree to). Making sure that people have the freedom to choose when to enter or exit a market, and what transactions to participate in and at what price are all important liberties that should be protected in any libertarian state. These freedoms rely on information, and we should be able to all agree that the market will run smoother and more efficiently if we can choose someone to inspect food to make sure it’s free of poisons instead of everyone having to test everything they want to buy to make sure there isn’t any lead in it.

Right now the biggest impediment to a libertarian (or at least a more libertarian) state might be campaign finance reform. Our current system has so many loopholes and so much secrecy that the general populace can’t know whose interests are being represented, or even who is promoting what view. If we can say that we should have some regulation of food and education in this country we should be able to say the voters should be able to see who’s paying for campaigns. I’m all for free speech, and spending money to support that free speech, but we should require that when people exercise their free speech in politics we at least know who’s doing the talking.

the Ronpaul was basically tied for first in the Iowa straw poll, but he’s not even mentioned in most of the news reports. His campaign isn’t discussed because everyone assume that the strength of his views and arguments won’t overcome the special interests supporting the other candidates. If a country is going to move towards libertarianism, it’s going to need voters that believe in the protection of individual liberties, and free elections first. Everything else should come about naturally.

KnightExemplar
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Re: Converting a country to a libertarian state

Postby KnightExemplar » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:34 pm UTC

I can't believe I forgot about this... but food safety was also added by necessity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/02/opinion/02tue4.html
Nothing in “The Jungle” sticks with the reader quite like what went into the sausages. There was the rotting ham that could no longer be sold as ham. There were the rat droppings, rat poison and whole poisoned rats. Most chilling, there were the unnamed things “in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.”


Unregulated food industry == rats poison in your food supply. Again, this is a historical fact, and not some theory.

I'm not claiming that every bit of our modern government was added by necessity. Indeed, it is important for us to be vigilant. I do agree, over-regulation does hurt the market, and potentially damages the economy as a whole. Nonetheless, there are things I enjoy, such as the lack of poisoned rats in my sausages and hot dogs.

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I think it goes back to what TrlstanC said earlier. People cannot independently look at a sausage and test a sample of them for rotting meat or rat poison. (Combined with the poor labor regulation at the time, you'd also have human fingers in your sausage meat. So fuck yes, I also want a Department of Labor, ensuring that people don't lose their fingers in meat grinders... possibly young children losing their fingers. IIRC, child labor laws were in effect, they just weren't enforced very well yet) True, it is possible, in theory, for a "free market regulator" to come up and start inspecting food. But historically speaking, the free market was not the first to solve the problem: instead, it was the creation of a Government Agency which solved the problem before the free market did.

I mean, the FDA's regulations seem relatively lax to me.
http://www.fda.gov/food/guidancecomplia ... 056174.htm
PEANUT BUTTER Insect filth
(AOAC 968.35) Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
Rodent filth
(AOAC 968.35) Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams
Grit
(AOAC 968.35) Gritty taste and water insoluble inorganic residue is more than 25 mg per 100 grams


Okay, so if you have 29 insect fragments per 100 grams of Peanut Butter (that is ~6 tablespoons. Us Americans don't count in "grams" :oops: ), then the FDA says you have to throw it out. Basically, you can have up to 4 insect fragments per tablespoon of Peanut Butter, and it'd still be legal for people to sell the peanut butter.
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