[FoRK] Capitalism, Contracts and Cronyism

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Aug 26 17:04:46 PDT 2008

Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Aug 26, 2008, at 6:05 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> Jeff Bone wrote:
>>> On Aug 26, 2008, at 3:04 PM, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
>>>> On Aug 26, 2008, at 12:51 PM, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
>>>>> It is not a big stretch to suggest that shitty privatization is 
>>>>> still more efficient than having the government do it themselves.
>>> Sing it, brother!
>>> If and only if there is competition in the privatization.
> I will stipulate that privatization which doesn't create competition 
> is essentially not accomplishing much --- but by the same token 
> private, government-franchised monopoly may still be more efficient 
> than public government monopoly.  As James says, that argument isn't a 
> big stretch at all...
>>> But I'll a bold statement, here:  if the choice is between 
>>> continuation of current policies and effects for another 4-8 years 
>>> versus a complete meltdown of the economy --- and I'm talking 
>>> severe, Depression-era style but worse in terms of its long-term 
>>> impact and the magnitude of its impact on our economy vs. the rest 
>>> of the world --- I'll unhappily opt for the former.
>> That thinking is just bizarre to me.
> Let's note this for the record.  Stephen prefers a Great Depression to 
> the period of 2001-2009.
No, you completely missed my point.  I think it is bizarre how certain 
you are that there will be another Great Depression over the relatively 
meager alarming comments and plans by Obama.

The 2001-2009 period of borrowing massively from the future to line 
buddy's pockets and fuel various expansion, even if somewhat shakey and 
now crumbling, hasn't been that bad overall.  But we haven't felt much 
pain in paying for it yet.

If we had actually been investing most of that money into infrastructure 
(a bit) and science / technology / business (a lot) rather than just 
filling bank accounts of cronies for play-security and 3x gas prices, 
I'd be fine with the borrowing.  Since it has mostly been a waste, 
especially with regard to things like Katrina which rose to the 
criminally inept level at all levels of government and individuals 
involved, I'm not keen to keep it going.

We can debate the specifics of spending-as-investing-in-the-future that 
each candidate is or is not proposing.  I believe that Obama is more 
likely to champion, think through some useful investment, push through 
tries at broad fixes, and react quickly to negative tracking than 
McCain.  I don't think they are going to get everything right.  As Logic 
of Life ( http://tinyurl.com/5lqaks ) notes, people act rationally 
according to their environment and opportunities.  The author also notes 
how rational micro-decisions can result in very poor outcomes at the 
macro level.  Spending to help provide for optimization toward goals 
that will pay off, such as more education and industriousness, would be 
well worth it if done right.  I certainly don't want to waste money, 
however there are many people stuck in local minima that we might be 
able to help and certainly could prevent from happening as much in the 
future with the right investment.

It is strange how people who would advocate that a business invest to 
solve a problem are horrified that a government might act in a similar 
way.  The analogy isn't complete, although it should provide guidance in 
some key ways.  Investing to make a "profit" is certainly something that 
the US government has done and should be doing.  If it is happening 
privately, it may not be necessary.  If it isn't in an area that costs a 
lot of money and pain because it isn't, then there might be possible 
solutions that could save or possibly earn back those costs.

This is the enlightened, more subtle level past Objectivism.  Because of 
the Splitting the Check conundrum (see "Logic of Life...") and similar 
dynamics, you can't only count on people to decide to pool their money 
to solve an issue when not everyone has to participate.  In at least 
some situations, education and defense being the obvious ones, 
government can be the best solution.

> But then, the Great Depression was the heyday of American 
> big-government liberalism, so perhaps there's a lurking motive 
> there... ;-)
>> So far, McCain is filling those [Bush] shoes just a little too 
>> comfortably.
> More than I'd like.
> jb
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