Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
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01-02-2014, 02:01 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 01:09 PM)frankksj Wrote:  
(01-02-2014 12:39 PM)JAH Wrote:  ... western Texas... There is no way a capitalist could make enough profit off of that route to even keep the lanes painted.

The big mistake you're making, imo, is you're only looking at what the government gave--and not what it took away. When all transportation was private, the free market built 250,000 miles of rail in the US, with air conditioned trains running at 100 mph, and an all-electric Metro in every town with a population over 10,000, with vigorous competition among 2500 transportation companies. They were even developing vacuum-evacuated tubes that would eventually transport people at nearly 4,000 miles per hour. Then the government confiscated all the privately owned transportation companies, oversaw the dismantling of all the trains and rails, ripped up 90% of the tracks, destroyed nearly every one of the local metro companies, and decided instead of safe, fast, non-polluting mass-transit, all Americans should instead use gasoline-burning automobiles on roads provided by the government. Naturally, all development on the new technologies, like vac-tube transport, was abandoned--no entrepreneur would invest his life savings bringing such a system to market knowing that if it was successful the government would just confiscate it anyway. Now, 100 years later, all we have is the government-owned rail, Amtrak, which is so terrible, that's the reason why you were driving on those government roads.

So don't just look at the roads the government you, look at what the government took from you! Had government not taken over, instead of spending days behind the wheel through desolate parts of Texas, you'd probably have hopped in your vac-tube transport and gone from Florida to California in about 20 minutes. If I kidnapped you, locking you in a my basement for 10 years, giving you food and water, you wouldn't be saying "Oh, frank is such a great guy for feeding me. I would have starved without him." That's silly to focus only what I give, and ignore what I took. You have to weigh both to see if what you got is more than what was taken from you.

Now, you do have a point that one "advantage" to government infrastructure is universal access. The I10 is a bad example since, although it passes through desolate areas in Texas, there are densely populated areas on either side that need a transportation route. However, the point is valid and a good example is Alaska's "bridge to nowhere"--a $398 million bridge connecting an island of 50 residents. Sure, the 50 residents could never have each put up $8 million to get their bridge, and would have continued to use ferries. But, government was able to shift the cost to other taxpayers, effectively letting the folks on Gravina Island, spend other people's money. Yes, the same thing happens in other remote areas, where their infrastructure is subsidized by taxpayers elsewhere. And, I agree with you, under a private system it would be harder to live in remote areas where infrastructure isn't commercially viable.

But look at the sacrifices we make to get universal access! Climate change and pollution are largely caused by the government's take over of transportation, forcing us to use internal-combustion automobiles. And, remember, that at the time government told the people this change was for their own good, although now the truth is out that it was actually the lobbying efforts of GM, Firestone, Standard Oil, and Philips petroleum that were responsible for the laws which forced the change from electric transportation to gasoline-powered cars. Look at the millions of people who die in car crashes. Also, think how more mobile we'd be as a society if we had a modern transportation system that could zip us around safely at hypersonic speeds. I imagine we'd have a lot less prejudice, racism, and other social ills if we were more mobile.

I don't see how the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 has anything to do with transportation companies, and certainly not confiscation.

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01-02-2014, 02:03 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 01:09 PM)frankksj Wrote:  
(01-02-2014 12:39 PM)JAH Wrote:  ... western Texas... There is no way a capitalist could make enough profit off of that route to even keep the lanes painted.

The big mistake you're making, imo, is you're only looking at what the government gave--and not what it took away. When all transportation was private, the free market built 250,000 miles of rail in the US, with air conditioned trains running at 100 mph, and an all-electric Metro in every town with a population over 10,000, with vigorous competition among 2500 transportation companies. They were even developing vacuum-evacuated tubes that would eventually transport people at nearly 4,000 miles per hour. Then the government confiscated all the privately owned transportation companies, oversaw the dismantling of all the trains and rails, ripped up 90% of the tracks, destroyed nearly every one of the local metro companies, and decided instead of safe, fast, non-polluting mass-transit, all Americans should instead use gasoline-burning automobiles on roads provided by the government. Naturally, all development on the new technologies, like vac-tube transport, was abandoned--no entrepreneur would invest his life savings bringing such a system to market knowing that if it was successful the government would just confiscate it anyway. Now, 100 years later, all we have is the government-owned rail, Amtrak, which is so terrible, that's the reason why you were driving on those government roads.

So don't just look at the roads the government you, look at what the government took from you! Had government not taken over, instead of spending days behind the wheel through desolate parts of Texas, you'd probably have hopped in your vac-tube transport and gone from Florida to California in about 20 minutes. If I kidnapped you, locking you in a my basement for 10 years, giving you food and water, you wouldn't be saying "Oh, frank is such a great guy for feeding me. I would have starved without him." That's silly to focus only what I give, and ignore what I took. You have to weigh both to see if what you got is more than what was taken from you.

Now, you do have a point that one "advantage" to government infrastructure is universal access. The I10 is a bad example since, although it passes through desolate areas in Texas, there are densely populated areas on either side that need a transportation route. However, the point is valid and a good example is Alaska's "bridge to nowhere"--a $398 million bridge connecting an island of 50 residents. Sure, the 50 residents could never have each put up $8 million to get their bridge, and would have continued to use ferries. But, government was able to shift the cost to other taxpayers, effectively letting the folks on Gravina Island, spend other people's money. Yes, the same thing happens in other remote areas, where their infrastructure is subsidized by taxpayers elsewhere. And, I agree with you, under a private system it would be harder to live in remote areas where infrastructure isn't commercially viable.

But look at the sacrifices we make to get universal access! Climate change and pollution are largely caused by the government's take over of transportation, forcing us to use internal-combustion automobiles. And, remember, that at the time government told the people this change was for their own good, although now the truth is out that it was actually the lobbying efforts of GM, Firestone, Standard Oil, and Philips petroleum that were responsible for the laws which forced the change from electric transportation to gasoline-powered cars. Look at the millions of people who die in car crashes. Also, think how more mobile we'd be as a society if we had a modern transportation system that could zip us around safely at hypersonic speeds. I imagine we'd have a lot less prejudice, racism, and other social ills if we were more mobile.

I'm curious about what your opinion of anti-trust laws is? This is an area where government regulation creates more competition, thus creating the benefits you describe from competition. Also curious about your stance on government environmental protection laws. Free markets alone did not, and do not, drive companies to protect the environment, because the drive for profit rarely aligns with this.
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01-02-2014, 02:21 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 02:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  I don't see how the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 has anything to do with transportation companies, and certainly not confiscation.

Did you read the links I gave you? According to Wikipedia: the law was "forcing divestitures". That IS confiscating--forcing you to give up something IS the very meaning of confiscation. It says "One noticeable impact of this provision was on electric streetcars. Most electric streetcar companies were private companies owned by electric utility holding companies... The result of the provision was the divestiture of utility-owned electric streetcar companies, which were then acquired by various parties and very often dismantled in what became known as the Great American Streetcar Scandal." There's a whole wikipedia article to it link and books on the subject. And Robbert Goddard, prolific inventor who pioneered lots of breakthroughs in propulsion systems, had developed models for super-sonic trains. All of it was abandoned when the government confiscated the existing train systems. If you were Goddard, or any other inventor, would you have continued working on such new technology, after seeing how the government just confiscated the predecessor?

This is a black & white historical fact. You can't just pretend that it didn't happen because you don't like the ramifications.
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01-02-2014, 02:30 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 02:03 PM)meremortal Wrote:  I'm curious about what your opinion of anti-trust laws is? This is an area where government regulation creates more competition, thus creating the benefits you describe from competition.

We all have the same goal--breakup monopolies and foster competition. We're just debating how to do it, and we need to look at the track record, and more importantly, what goes along with it. The only way to have anti-trust laws is to give the government to pick winners and losers in the market. If government doesn't have that power, then it won't have the power to break up companies. And once government has that power, history has shown that it usually gets used to create less competition and gift monopolies to the politically well-connected. I've repeated Milton Friedman's challenge many times to name one monopoly out the thousands that have existed, besides DeBeers, that got that way without government privilege. Still waiting for a name. So, giving the government this power has, 99.9% of the time, had the opposite effect of what we desire.

(01-02-2014 02:03 PM)meremortal Wrote:  Also curious about your stance on government environmental protection laws. Free markets alone did not, and do not, drive companies to protect the environment, because the drive for profit rarely aligns with this.

If the government enforced property rights, so that any company that damaged another's property, be it a private home or a state-owned river, had to pay damages and cleanup, there could be zero pollution. Now, since the courts are making those verdicts, obviously we do need the legislature to provide guidelines which grant immunity provided pollution is kept below a certain level, since it's impossible to live in a zero-pollution society. You can call that "regulation". So, again, we have the same goal. My problem is more with more with how it's implemented. It seems to me that usually what happens is a company destroys property, and the cost to clean it up are so great that it will bankrupt them if they go to court, so they instead hire lobbyists to get regulation passed which grants them immunity, in exchange for paying the regulators a fine--and the actual victim gets nothing. So, in practice, it seems "regulation" is more often a tool to protect corporations from their victims, not the other way around.
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01-02-2014, 02:40 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
frankksj, It happens that I am frequent user of public transit and worked at one time with the MUNI (the municipal railway of San Francisco) and payed attention to how the local US transit agencies have fared through history I must say your assessment of public rail transit is the US is somewhat lacking in reality.

Most with some exception prior to WWII were private but most also struggled. WWII presented a boost in traffic for various obvious reasons so they survived past the war. After the war several were bought by National City Lines a consortium of GM, Firestone and Phillips petroleum, including the Key System in the East Bay. Needless to say National City Lines was intent on converting to bus systems as a source of demand for their primary products. They did, and tracks and other necessary infrastructure was lost. The lines having been all converted to bus now typically were taken over by local public agencies because they needed subsidies to survive.

Public rail transit and local public transit in general has been a money loser for many decades now. To suggest that it would not be so if it remained in private hands is not correct.

You will note as I said in my previous post I agree that rail, local and interstate, would possibly have been a better place to place government monies than the highway system. It has however been done and will not be changed soon.

Your cheery first paragraph above ignores the crucial fact. Public transit of all forms has been a money losing proposition since at least WWII. All the possibilities you suggested would have been negated by the fact that there was no money to carry them out. Public transit only made money from, maybe, between 1850 and 1945 after that there was no profits to carry out the improvements you suggest.

I will allow that political decisions were made that might have prevented this. An obvious one that you suggest is that less money should have been spent on public roadways. A not so obvious one is that local agencies allowed the rise of suburban sprawl. In my youth it happened that the father of a friend of mine was the local mayor of a smallish suburban community on the San Francisco peninsula. He and all of his mates on the City Council were actively involved in real estate, they had a positive reason to promote continued building both from a personal and a tax revenue basis. So (I am not sure of the exact numbers) my town grew from some 13,000 in 1950 to some 35,000 in 1960. All of if sprawled out in a fashion that did not lend itself to public transit.

You make the presumption that everything would be better if it was privately run, not by a governmental agency. The flaw in this argument is that not all public needs are profitable. I have often thought that if users were charged directly the real cost of some things that are publicly used one might see things like a dramatic increase in use of public transit rather than cars. I do not see us heading there soon.

As a final point how many european transit systems remain private. I would suggest damn few. There is a public need for these systems but they cannot generate enough revenue without all the public's help not just the users.
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01-02-2014, 02:47 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 12:39 PM)frankksj Wrote:  WTF?! So now you're saying that when you wrote "'see what happened with "no government"' that was a joke? If so, you're right "Not that I'd expect you to recognize a joke..." Whatever humor is there goes over my head since it was an example of what happens with no government.

(31-01-2014 08:17 PM)cjlr Wrote:  The, I would have assumed self-evident, point being, "essentially" no regulation or government interference was anything but.

You mean after all these posts you're still unable to grasp the concept that a government which fights coercion instead of initiating it through regulation and interference is not the same as "no government"???? All my 5,000 word diatribes went over your head??? You're as confused as all those guys who write "Somalia is a libertarian paradise", unable to get around the concept that a libertarian paradise is one where people are free from coercion and violence, able to exercise free will, and that lawless places like Somalia are rampant with coercion and violence--which is ironically the system that non-libertarians are defending?!

I see. When you refer to "regulation and interference" you mean things you don't like. As opposed to, one might be more inclined to suppose, things.

See, when you say "essentially" no regulation and interference, you don't actually mean literally no regulation and interference.





You really don't get humour, eh?

(01-02-2014 12:39 PM)frankksj Wrote:  According to Wikipedia: Hong Kong "The British officially established a Crown colony..." And Wikipedia:Crown Colony lists both Hong Kong and Canada as crown colonies. Are you saying wikipedia got it wrong? You're saying HK and Canada aren't crown colonies?

The administration of Hong Kong is in no way comparable to the administration of Canada at almost any point in the history of either.

I'm not sure where you got such a misguided idea.

If we consult the Wikipedia article you literally just posted, the pre-Confederation Canadian colonies are listed (up until 1867) and Hong Kong is listed until the British constitutional reforms of 1981. So there's that.

(01-02-2014 12:39 PM)frankksj Wrote:  As far as whether a crown colony is, in fact, a separate country is, admittedly, a gray area. The CIA World factbook, the OECD and many others did list HK as a separate country before Britain handed it back to China, just like they always treated Canada as a separate country.

So what, specifically, are you refuting? That HK was a crown colony? Or that it was commonly regarded as a separate country?

That any comparison can be drawn to the legal status of Canada at any point in the 20th century.

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01-02-2014, 02:54 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
frankksj, I was so busy writing my probably boring post above that I missed the bit about the Public Utility Holding Act of 1935. I note that you edited out of the paragraph you quoted the bit about how the holding Utility could "subsidize" the street car system for its own benefit. As I said street car companies were losing money no matter how you want to parse government regulation.

None of the above nor my prior post should be construed to mean I am happy we do not have a robust rail transit system in the US. There was a time I could have got on a ferry in San Francisco and caught the train in Vallejo and been in Calistoga in a few hours. About the time it would take by car today. I need a mud bath.
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01-02-2014, 03:12 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 02:21 PM)frankksj Wrote:  
(01-02-2014 02:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  I don't see how the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 has anything to do with transportation companies, and certainly not confiscation.

Did you read the links I gave you? According to Wikipedia: the law was "forcing divestitures". That IS confiscating--forcing you to give up something IS the very meaning of confiscation. It says "One noticeable impact of this provision was on electric streetcars. Most electric streetcar companies were private companies owned by electric utility holding companies... The result of the provision was the divestiture of utility-owned electric streetcar companies, which were then acquired by various parties and very often dismantled in what became known as the Great American Streetcar Scandal." There's a whole wikipedia article to it link and books on the subject. And Robbert Goddard, prolific inventor who pioneered lots of breakthroughs in propulsion systems, had developed models for super-sonic trains. All of it was abandoned when the government confiscated the existing train systems. If you were Goddard, or any other inventor, would you have continued working on such new technology, after seeing how the government just confiscated the predecessor?

This is a black & white historical fact. You can't just pretend that it didn't happen because you don't like the ramifications.

Divestiture is not confiscation. The government did not confiscate train systems .

Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 was directed at ending the grotesque bilking of utility customers.

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01-02-2014, 03:32 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 02:40 PM)JAH Wrote:  Public rail transit and local public transit in general has been a money loser for many decades now. To suggest that it would not be so if it remained in private hands is not correct.

You're obviously leaving out some key details because in a free market system, if there's a large demand for a product (and there's no greater demand than being able to go from point a to point b), and the technology exists to provide that product at an affordable price, of course the industry will be profitable. The only way it's not is with government interference.

If you read the whole history you'll see the conspiracy started in the 1920's. Regulators took over establishing the fares of the streetcars, and capped them below the operating costs. THAT is why they were money-losing propositions, and THAT is why the only companies that could continue operating street cars were utility companies that were able to subsidize the street car cost through the utility operations. Also, read the history. National City Lines was founded in 1920, and had already started planning for the dismantling of the public transportation system even before the law passed. Books have been written on the subject proving that it was the oil, rubber and car industries that were behind the governmnent's forcing everyone to abandon electric mass transit and switch to gas-powered cars.

(01-02-2014 02:40 PM)JAH Wrote:  As a final point how many european transit systems remain private. I would suggest damn few. There is a public need for these systems but they cannot generate enough revenue without all the public's help not just the users.

This is illogical. In Europe most people are using public transportation. So whether they're paying for it directly in fares, or through taxation, either way they're paying for it. Sure, if the government didn't subsidize them through taxation the fares may go up, but the cost of rail transport is still much less than automobile, so even if the rail companies and had to set the fares at a price that they could make a profit, people would still pay. The reason they're all government owned is the same reason in the US. The governments took them all over.

You can see it even today. In Las Vegas, private entrepeneurs built a modern monorail transportation system, all privately funded. However, the taxi lobby blocked the necessary permits to extend the line to the airport, which drastically limits the utility of the monorail since you have to take a taxi anyway just to get to the first station. Government interference is what's blocking a modern, efficient high-speed transportation system.
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01-02-2014, 03:44 PM
RE: Why are American liberterians so absurdly insane?
(01-02-2014 03:12 PM)Chas Wrote:  Divestiture is not confiscation. The government did not confiscate train systems. Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 was directed at ending the grotesque bilking of utility customers.

One hour ago you said the act had nothing to do with train systems. Now you're backpeddling.

Now, when you say the government did not confiscate the trains, let's assume I did this as a private party. You, Chas, have a car. I use guns and force to require you to sell the car to my buddy, Fred, for a fraction of what it's worth. Are you seriously going to argue that I was not "confiscating" your car, because it was a transaction between you and Fred???? That's absurd. The fact is that the government first capped the fares on the transport lines, forcing them to be unprofitable so that they couldn't be sold for anywhere close to their value, and then they forced them to sell them, and naturally, nobody was willing to buy trains that, due to regulation, could never be profitable, except the companies that were orchestrating the whole thing in the first place: GM, Firestone, and the oil companies, who then swooped in and bought all the train systems for next to nothing so they could dismantle them.

It just shows blind devotion to government that even cases like this where government abuse is clear and undisputed, you STILL keep defending the government's actions. And that is precisely why the government is able to get away with this crazy shit. They can screw the little guy, transfer massive amounts of wealth to their well-connected friends, operating revolving doors where corporations pick the heads of government agencies who then give those corporations multi-billion dollar contracts, and then the corporations give the agency heads multi-million dollar signing bonuses to return to the corporation, etc., etc. and they know no matter how obvious, how egregious, how sloppy, lemmings will keep lapping it up and bow before them.

Consider the Chris Christie scandal. Obviously to them shutting down the turnpike and killing people who couldn't get access to emergency services was a mundane, everyday occurrence. They were exchanging emails and openly joking about the havoc they were causing with no concern at all that this would cause a controversy, which is why they were so sloppy as to leave a clear paper trail. But ask yourself, if this kind of behavior is so acceptable, what kind of unacceptable things are they also doing where they know the public would be outraged and therefore keep it hidden by not sending emails and doing everything verbally?
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