Left-Libertarianism: No Masters, No Bosses


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/content/14459

Left-Libertarianism: No Masters, No Bosses

In his contribution to the Bleeding Heart Libertarians seminar on left-libertarianism (“Query for Left-Libertarians,” November 11), Daniel Shapiro confessed to puzzlement over our prediction that there would be less bossism in a freed market. First of all, he argues, if workers were free to sell their shares in a cooperative, it’s unlikely that most workers would keep all their investments in the firm they worked for. They would likely sell some of their shares in the cooperative, to reduce the risk of having all their eggs in one basket. And retiring workers will cash out their shares. And aside from the creeping tendency toward absentee ownership and demutualization in cooperatives, Shapiro raises the further question of the firms that aren’t cooperative to begin with — even if they’re a smaller share of the economy than at present. What’s to stop either demutualized cooperatives or conventional business firms — both of which are presumably motivated primarily by maximizing shareholder value — from adopting significant levels of hierarchy and managerialism? Even if hierarchy carries certain inefficiency costs, economies of scale mean that bossism and hierarchy may be the least inefficient form of organization, given sufficient firm size for maximum efficiencies.

First of all, to start with Shapiro’s argument on the alienation of shares in a cooperative: As a matter of purely technical nitpicking, a worker cooperative can be set up with bylaws that prohibit demutualization, and simply require worker buyins as a condition of membership without creating marketable shares.

But second, Shapiro seems to be assuming without warrant that a very high proportion of the characteristics of our reality under state capitalism would be conserved in a freed market, aside from the narrowest consideration of the specific changes he wants to address. It reminds me of Ralph Kramden’s boast to Norton, in anticipating the outcome of one of his get-rich-quick schemes: “Norton, when I’m a rich man, I’ll have a telephone installed out here on the fire escape, so I can discuss my big business deals when I have to sleep out here in the summer.” Ralph was imagining his reality as it would be with the one specific change he was considering, in isolation from everything else and neglecting the likelihood of other associated changes or ripple effects. And that’s what Shapiro’s doing.

Shapiro seems to assume an economic model in which ownership is expressed through marketable shares, the economy tends to be organized around large market areas with mostly anonymous economic transactions occurring mainly through the cash nexus, etc.

And he explicitly assumes (point three) that current firm size and market structure represents economies of scale that are inherent in production technology.

All the secondary assumptions he makes about the kinds of specialized knowledge a boss must have about consumer demand and the marketplace, it seems, reflect the primary assumptions above about the continuity of the hypothetical economy with the conditions of the one we live in.

None of these assumptions is warranted, in my opinion.

First of all, economies of scale would probably be achieved at a fairly modest size. Given advances in small-scale manufacturing technology like desktop machine tools, permaculture, and the like, and given the economies of localized, lean, demand-pull distribution systems over the old supply-push mass production model, it seems likely a large share of present consumption needs would be met by garage factories serving small town or urban neighborhood-sized markets. In this case the typical production unit would not be something even as large and formal as the Northwestern plywood cooperatives, but rather small artisan shops.

In this case it seems a major share of production would take place in family-owned firms or small partnerships. And in a left-libertarian version of the free market, there’s no inherent reason even larger worker-owned firms would organized along the lines of what we consider the conventional shareholder model. They might well be incorporated under bylaws with inalienable residual claimancy (with prorated pension rights on retirement) vested in the current workforce. There’s no obvious reason a libertarian law code, based on the precedents of free juries of a vicinage, would not recognize this as the basis of ownership. This is especially true, given the larger emphasis given to occupancy as the basis of property under both mutualistic and radical Lockean variants of left-libertarianism.

Under these conditions, most of the skills associated with marketing under the present model of capitalism would probably be obsolete. In most cases, the artisan machinists in a small town or neighborhood factory would have the same first-hand knowledge of the markets they serve as artisans did before the rise of the factory system.

And the incentives to what we think of as conventional marketing rules would be far weaker under this model. Most of them currently stem from the nature of mass-production technology and the enormous capital outlays it requires for machinery. Because of these huge capital outlays, it’s necessary to maximize capacity utilization to minimize unit costs — and therefore to find ways of creating demand to guarantee the wheels keep turning. The history of 20th century mass-production capitalism was one of finding expedients to guarantee absorption of output — if necessary, by the state either destroying it or buying it up via the permanent war economy and the automobile-highway complex.

But in an economy where production machinery is cheap and general purpose, and can quickly switch between short batches of a variety of products in response to shifts in demand, these pressures do not exist. When capital outlays and overhead costs are low, the minimum revenue stream required to avoid going further in the hole is much smaller. And at the same time, the distinctions between “winners” and “losers,” between being “in business” and “out of business,” are also much lower.

Since the currently prevailing firm size and model of production and distribution is a suboptimal way of doing things, subsidized and protected by the state, it follows that bossism is — in the words of Peter Drucker — a way of doing as efficiently as possible something that ought not to be done at all. We start out with the structural assumptions of an economy in which wealth was concentrated in the hands of a small plutocratic class of investors through a long series of robberies (aka “primitive accumulation“), and the state’s economic policy was aimed at guaranteeing the profits of this investor-robber class and enabling it to extract maximum rents from the productive elements of society.

Given the fact of an economy organized into a relatively small number of large, hierarchical firms, authoritarianism may well be the most efficient means for overcoming the inefficiencies of a system that was authoritarian to start with. In like manner, Soviet economic reformers under Brezhnev sought the most efficient way of running an economy organized around industrial ministries and central planning by Gosplan.

Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, detailed a long series of models for land tenure, in which landlords allowed peasants various shares of their total product in order to maximize production — and hence the rents they were able to extract from that production. But all these forms of tenure were limited by one overriding concern: the need of the landed classes to extract rents. Absent these considerations, the most efficient expedient would have been simply to vest full ownership of all land in the people working it and abolish manorial land titles and rents altogether. No doubt a slave cotton plantation in the Old South would have had drastically increased output had the land been given to the cultivators and had they been given full rights to their product. But from the perspective of a plantation owner, the only form of production less efficient than slavery is having to do an honest day’s work himself.

Corporate capitalism is organized around the imperatives, not of maximizing efficiency, but of maximizing the extraction of rents. When maximum extraction of rents requires artificial imposition of inefficiency, the capitalists’ state is ready and willing.

If we start from the assumption of a system organized around absentee investors and self-aggrandizing managers, the most efficient model for organizing production may be very inefficient indeed for extracting rent from those who produce value. The divorce of ownership and control from both effort and situational knowledge creates enormous knowledge and incentive problems, in which those doing the work and who know best how to do the job have no rational interest in maximizing their own output. Whatever human capital they contribute to increased productivity will simply be expropriated in the form of management salary increases, bonuses and stock options. Under these conditions, a hierarchy is necessary to extract effort from those whose rational interest lies in minimizing effort and hoarding private knowledge.

Shapiro makes the unwarranted assumption — essentially the legitimizing ideology of the Michael Jensen model of capitalism — that shareholder value is the chief motivator in conventional corporate capitalism. It’s more likely in my opinion that this is nothing but a legitimizing myth to justify the power of management — the real interest being served in managerial capitalism. Management under corporate capitalism justifies its power in the name of the shareholder, in the same way that management under Soviet state socialism justified its power in the name of the people or the working class. In both cases, the reality was a self-perpetuating oligarchy in control of a large mass of theoretically absentee-owned — but de facto owned by them — capital, and maximizing their own interests while claiming to serve some mythical outside constituency.

Shareholder capitalism is, pure and simple, a fairy tale. The “market for corporate control” was a reality for a relatively brief time after the introduction of junk bonds, but corporate management — with its insider control of the rules — quickly gamed corporate bylaws to avert the threat of hostile takeover. Since then corporate takeovers have in fact been friendly takeovers, acts of collusion between managements of the acquiring and acquired firms.

Corporate management’s maximization of quarterly earnings figures — what it calls “shareholder value” — is real. But it’s motivated entirely by corporate management’s desire to game its own bonuses, not by external pressure. And it actually involves the long-term destruction of shareholder value to achieve illusory short-term returns — much like eating seed corn, or burning every stick of furniture in your house in order to minimizing this month’s heating bill. And management uses the legitimizing myth of shareholder ownership as a way of protecting itself against genuine stakeholder ownership, which would maximize output for everyone.

There’s a wide body of literature (see especially the work of Sanford, Hart and Grossman) arguing that efficiency and output are maximized when ownership rights in the firm are vested in those who create its value. In an age of declining costs of means of production and increasingly skilled labor, an ever-growing share of the book value of the firm reflects not the investment of capital by absentee owners, but the human capital — tacit, job-related, distributed knowledge of the kind Hayek wrote about. But workers will not contribute this knowledge, or contribute to productivity, under the Cowboy-CEO model of capitalism, because they know that any contribution will be expropriated by management in the form of downsizings, speedups and bonuses. So a class of parasitic managerial bureaucrats operates corporations with the short-term mentality of an Ottoman tax farmer, in order to maximize its short-term interests, but justifies it in terms of “shareholder value.” Shareholder ownership — the myth that they work for the shareholders rather than being de facto residual claimants themselves — is the legitimizing ideology that corporate management uses as a defense against more efficient distribution of control rights among stakeholders within the firm.

Under a genuinely freed market in which the ownership of land and capital reflected rules of just acquisition and the cost of inefficiency were not subsidized, most bosses would find themselves faced with the imperative of doing a productive days’ work.

Steve Horwitz (“On the Edge of Utopianism,” Nov. 12), after some kind words for the left-libertarian project and stating his areas of commonality with us, continues:

The problem I often see in left-libertarian writing is the sense that the world of freed markets would look dramatically different from what we have. For example, would large corporations like Walmart exist in a freed market? Left-libertarians are quick to argue no, pointing to the various ways in which the state explicitly and implicitly subsidizes them (e.g., eminent domain, tax breaks, an interstate highway system, and others). They are correct in pointing to those subsidies, and I certainly agree with them that the state should not be favoring particular firms or types of firms. However, to use that as evidence that the overall size of firms in a freed market would be smaller seems to be quite a leap. There are still substantial economies of scale in play here and even if firms had to bear the full costs of, say, finding a new location or transporting goods, I am skeptical that it would significantly dent those advantages. It often feels that desire to make common cause with leftist criticisms of large corporations, leads left-libertarians to say “oh yes, freed markets are the path to eliminating those guys.” Again, I am not so sure. The gains from operating at that scale, especially with consumer basics, are quite real, as are the benefits to consumers.

Even as I agree with them that we should end the subsidies, I wish left-libertarians would more often acknowledge that firms like Walmart and others have improved the lives of poor Americans in significant ways and lifted hundreds of thousands out of poverty in some of the poorest parts of the world. Those accomplishments seem very much in tune with the left-libertarian project. To argue with such confidence that firms in a freed market would be unable to take advantage of these economies of scale might be cold comfort to the very folks who left-libertarians are rightly concerned about.

Horwitz states his overall difference in emphasis from left-libertarians thusly:

Eliminating every last grain of statism does not magically transform everything we might not like about really existing markets into a form that will match the goals of the traditional left. One grain of statism doesn’t mean that the really existing world won’t essentially look like it does when markets are freed. My own conviction is that the underlying market processes carry more weight than the distorting effects of the state along more margins than the left-libertarians believe. I might well be wrong, but I worry that the promise of more transformation than a left-libertarian world can deliver repeats the very same utopianism that has plagued the left historically.

My impression of the economy we have is just the opposite. Any single monopoly or privilege, considered in isolation, has such huge centralizing effects that it’s difficult to imagine just how libertarian and decentralized things would have been without it. Just consider market economies as they would have developed without the cumulative effects of land expropriation in late medieval and early modern times, land expropriations and preemption of vacant land around the world, and ongoing enforcement of absentee title to unimproved land. Or imagine labor relations if the Industrial Revolution had developed without the Combination Laws, the internal passport system of the Laws of Settlement combined with parish workhouse slave markets, and all the other totalitarian social controls on free association from the 1790s through the 1820s. Or the role of “intellectual property” in promoting market cartelization, oligopoly, planned obsolescence, and what our economy would look like absent those cumulative effects. Or the railroad land grants, civil aviation system and Interstate Highway System. Or Cleveland’s intervention in the Pullman Strike, assorted state declarations of martial law in the Copper Wars, and Taft-Hartley. And now consider the synergies that result from all of them put together.

I think it’s more accurate to say our state capitalist economy possesses enormous continuities from the feudal-manorial system, and that it differs from a freed market to almost the same extent the Soviet economy did. Whatever market elements there are exist only within the interstices defined almost entirely by structural privilege, artificial scarcity, and artificial property rights.

To take Walmart in particular, consider all the structural presuppositions behind it. First, it presupposes the creation of a continental-scale corporate economy, largely through the efforts of the state (like the railroad land grants, the use of patents as a tool for market cartelization, etc.). Second, it presupposes the use of patents and trademarks by corporate headquarters to control outsourced production by sweatshops around the world. The Walmart model is only relevant when the main model of production is sweatshops on the other side of the world exporting their output to the U.S. via container ship, and “warehouses on wheels” distributing that output via a nationwide wholesale model that presupposes a high-volume national highway system.

Imagine a counter-example: An economy in which neighborhood garage shops — organized on essentially the same micromanufacturing model as the job shops in Shenzhen — are able to produce identical industrial goods, or generic spare parts, free from corporate “intellectual property” restrictions, for sale in retail outlets on Main Street in the same town. Just about everything Horwitz presupposes in his statement about the benefits of Walmart would be completely irrelevant. John Womack, one of the early celebrants of lean production, argued that trans-oceanic supply chains were incompatible with the lean model. The same is true of “warehouses on wheels.” These distribution models simply shift mass production’s enormous warehouses full of inventory to the supply and distributino chains. Walmart is, essentially, the leanest possible way of organizing distribution in an economy that is organized on completely contrary principles.

So I think left-libertarians’ fundamental area of disagreement with Shapiro and Horwitz is that our model of freed markets isn’t a slightly tweaked, somewhat more leftish variant on the existing model of corporate capitalism. It implies a revolution in the basic structure of our economy.

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35 responses to “Left-Libertarianism: No Masters, No Bosses

  1. There is no evidence that in a free market communal forms of enterprise would be more sucessful than employer-employee forms of enterprise. On the contrary…..

    If they were, then such things as the Owenite commune near where Dallas now stands would not have failed – and the people from it would not have helped found the “evil capitalist” city of Dallas.

    “19th century Texas was not a free market” – well at least post Civil War (i.e. post slavery) it was a lot closer to a free market than any country has been in my lifetime.

    Indeed it is not just in a free market (or close to it) that communalism tends to fail – even if it is vastly subsidised it tends to fail, it even loses in a game rigged in its favour.

    Israel is the classic example – post World War II Labour Party governments did all they could to bankrupt large scale capitalist enterprises and to encourage communal (“cooperative”) ones. Taxes, subsidies, regulations – everything they could think of.

    And yet communalism still declined – because it does not tend to work very well.

    Economies of scale are real (not a “capitalist plot”) and a boss making a judgement is normally a lot better than a lot of people sitting around discussing X, Y, Z.

    All the above being said…….

    I have nothing against people being monks and nuns (the most successful long term forms of communalism) or forming Shaker communities – or anything like that.

    Or things like the John Lewis Partnership and (on and on).

    As long as the communalists do not try aggress against employer-employee enterprises.

  2. Almost (but not quite) needless to say…..

    “State Capitalist” is Trotskyite drivil.

    Without “landgrants” railways would still have developed (and someone, like Kevin, who thinks railways and private roads are wrong is, at best, nuts).

    Copyrights and patents are not much to do with economies of scale.

    Kevin does not even know what “Feudal” means (as he has shown in the past – if one assumes he actually means what he says).

    And.,,…

    Well almost everything Kevin says in this post (and in all other posts and articles) is wrong.

    The only real question is as follows…..

    Does Kevin really mean the stuff he says – in which case he is idiot.

    Or, as I believe, does Kevin not believe the things he says – in which case is much worse.

  3. The Mondragon cooperatives show twice the audited rates of profit comparerd to investor-owned businesses.

    Tony

  4. Because of these huge capital outlays, it’s necessary to maximize capacity utilization to minimize unit costs — and therefore to find ways of creating demand to guarantee the wheels keep turning. The history of 20th century mass-production capitalism was one of finding expedients to guarantee absorption of output — if necessary, by the state either destroying it or buying it up via the permanent war economy and the automobile-highway complex.

    Jesus Christ almighty Sean, why do you continue to promote the writing of a man so economically retarded? He doesn’t understand the FIRST THING about how economics, or “capitalism”, or production, or anything else, works.

    “The automobile-highway complex”. The man’s a fucking loon, Sean.

    • “Jesus Christ almighty Sean, why do you continue to promote the writing of a man so economically retarded? He doesn’t understand the FIRST THING about how economics, or “capitalism”, or production, or anything else, works.”

      Ian – You must ask Kevin for a definitive answer, but I don’t see this as a denial of Say’s Law. Imagine a monopolist is producing larger amounts of steel than can be sold at the price he is committed to charging. Either he can change his business plans, or he can get his friends in the government to buy it and make it into ships and tanks. Something like this does seem to happen in highly corporatised markets, and drawing attention to it is not the same as claiming a general overproduction of commodities.

      On the general matter of Kevin Carson, left libertarians are still libertarians. They may be wrong in certain respects. Indeed, I have myself taken issue with their opposition to the old landed interest. But their libertarianism is just as valid as yours and mine.

  5. Tony – if you want to form a cooperative enterprise go right ahead.

    You have mentioned the M cooperatives – and I mentioned the John Lewis Partnership.

    Both prove that, contra Kevin, there is no plot preventing cooperatives doing stuff.

    On the contrary, even in Britain, the game is rigged in favour (yes in favour) of coops (not against them). The fact that, generally, they do not do well (although there are exceptions, see above) is not due to some plot against them.

    Ian.

    Yes the old “under consumption” fallacy (refuted by Say’s Law).

    In this case (this particular twist of it) if the government does not build lots of roads or engage in big wars then capitalism would collapse. Of course, in reality, capitalsim would have developed much better without these interventions – some enterprises would have lost, but others would have gained (and the gains would have been more than the losses).

    As for appealing to Sean (come on Kevin – you know that I did that six years ago).

    Sean Gabb is not a moron – he knowns perfectly well that what Kevin writes is not true (actually the fact that it is not true is the central he pushes it – Sean has a strong desire to be naughty, this desire motivates a lot of what he does).

    What really interests me is how much Kevin believes this stuff – and how much he is just looking for any stick (any at all) to beat “capitalism” with.

    Remember this person draws the line at nothing (nothing at all) he even takes the side of the, Communist dominated, teacher unions, in places like Chicago.

  6. Sean is, of course, lying.

  7. Sean, it is simply retarded in terms of economic theory. Unfortunately Kevin has never made any attempt to understand economic theory, apparently because economists are just running dogs of capitalism or something. Kevin’s attempts at economic analysis are much like watching somebody wrestling with the mystery of why his legs are just the right length to reach the ground.

    There isn’t any “overproduction”. In terms of the desires of the populace, there is still underproduction- that is, most of us still want more goods and services than we can afford. The whole idea he’s echoing is part of his fascination with Marxism which is, as a theory, just plain wrong. That’s not a matter of opinion. It is just wrong. Marx couldn’t figure out how production could keep rising if the proletariat were (by his own theory) being continually impoverished by the bourgeoisie. Hence this claptrap.

    And claptrap it is. Kevin and his ilk never tell us what is being overproduced- cornflakes, nailbrushes, lawnmowers, bicycles, cat baskets, stepladders, computers, USB microphones… what are we supposed to be doing without, Kevin?

    Oh, it’s just tiresome. He really just hasb’t got a clue what he’s talking about.

    • Well, Ian, I’ve said you should go to Kevin for his own opinions. However, there can be an overproduction of anything in the present state of things. Let’s take USB microphones. You could produce ten thousand of them, and sell at £50. Or you could produce fifty thousand, and sell at £20. If you go for the fifty thousand at £50, you’ll have a glut. You can sort this out by getting your friends in the government to subsidise your transport costs so you can sell them in a foreign market. I’m sure you could work the same trick with life extension kits and orgasmatrons.

      In neoclassical terms, any government intervention in the market leads us further away from what you might call Pareto optimality than would otherwise be the case. The present order of things utterly distorts the structure of production. Markets are systematically prevented from clearing. Mistakes are allowed to persist for decades. Admitting this is not to make any claims about general overproduction.

      If Kevin has denied Say’s Law, he’s obviously wrong. But I’ve read most of his works, and don’t recall such a denial. He’s only stating what is for us a conventional wisdom and giving it a lefty twist.

  8. You can sort this out by getting your friends in the government to subsidise your transport costs so you can sell them in a foreign market.

    …In Carsonland, where roads and railways are a government plot. It is indeed true, Sean, that if there were no transport systems, commerce would be much reduced and we would all be enormously impoverished. We wouldn’t have USB microphones. We’d be lucky to have bread on a consistent basis.

    Carson is comparing the real world to a world that not only does not exist, but could not ever have existed. Because roads have frequently been a State activity, he concludes that commerce itself which happens to use them (along with private travellers visiting their aunties, etc) is illegitimate. It’s barmy, Sean. Only a madman would think that we would all be better off if competition were impossible due to an inability for anyone to ship their products anywhere.

    You’ve read his stuff. You know that his general stance is not against some subsidies (which we all oppose). It’s against commerce itself. He thinks compeition is illegitiimate. He makes the fundamental, catastrophic error of every guild and cartel; that it is good for the economy to protect inefficient producers from competition. He thnks that if Northampton Bread is better than Kettering Bread, and Kettering consumers choose to buy it, that we must tear up the road between Northampton and Kettering to protect the Kettering economy. I don’t think even the Marxists went so far as to take Bastiat’s Railway as advice, rather than as a proof of fallacy. But Carson does.

    • Ian – I’m not getting drawn into a debate about what Kevin has said – I’m awake at this time of night for a very different writing project. However, he is not against roads or any other kind of infrastructure in themselves. He says – along with any other anarcho-libertarian – that infrastructure in a stateless society would be provided where the return on investment was right. In a statist society, costs can be socialised, so that much more infrastructure can be provided. This socialisation of costs then allows privileged business interests to produce at higher levels of output than would be possible if they had to pay all their costs. The result is more interregional trade than would naturally occur. This, by the way, is part of his objection to the conventional analysis of economies of scale. These are often false economies, because many of the costs are socialised.

      You can see this if you imagine that cross-channel ferries were made free at the point of use. I live in sight of the French coast. If I didn’t have to pay to go across the Channel, we’d do much of our shopping in France, to take advantage of lower prices. We’d also enjoy more day trips to pretty places like Bruges and the rebuilt Ypres. And there would be more French markets in Deal. If you then demanded the end of that subsidy, would I be right to call you an opponent of free trade?

      You might object that there are positive externalities to thing like motorways and ports that are not captured in RoI calculations – but that puts you in opposition to the whole AL movement, not just Kevin.

  9. Why should the absence of govt be equal to less infrastructure anyway?. It would be far cheaper to build road minus the state.
    A blog that we should give well-deserved publicity to Sean, A Place to Stand, points out that Norwegian tunnelers can build road tunnels thro’ granite at 4 million for just over a mile (some might use the k-word–not I). The Norgees could therefore build a Forth road tunnel to suppliement/replace the bridge for approx 40 million. Scottish crooks (sorry-private contractors getting their bread/butter from Scottish govt contracts) want to charge £6600 million for the same job.Absent the state we would be swimming in infrastructure.

    I don’t want censorship. C4S is however a clearing house for Marxist bollocks. Its your site. They get far more publicity than they deserve here.

  10. However, he is not against roads or any other kind of infrastructure in themselves.

    Yes he is Sean. I’m not going to be as accusatory as Paul Marks here, but considering you’ve presumably read Carson’s works, then you know that that is precisely what he is against. Because roads (and other transport links, all of which he attributes solely to the State) allow competition. The fact that you keep denying this is very perplexing.

    He has written reams to the effect that everything should be locally produced in co-operatives and magic workshops. He is loudly and persistently insistent that mass production of goods is no more efficient than one local man in a local shed for local people, and that roads are a government plot to flood the man in the shed’s market with foreign[1] goods and force him out of business and into a dark satanic mill.

    And-

    This socialisation of costs then allows privileged business interests to produce at higher levels of output than would be possible if they had to pay all their costs.

    If this is meant to be a serious statement, perhaps you need to divert a little time from writing Byzantine adventure stories to refreshing yourself on basic market economic theory. I don’t know where to start with it. It’s in the “not even wrong” category.

    If it were the case that they actually are “producing at higher levels of output” (than an ideal free market) then that would be a consumer benefit, not a cost! It would mean that the roads investment was productive, since it is allowing consumers to get more goods than they otherwise would. How anyone can use that as an argument against transport infrastructure is beyond me.

    Seriously. Think about it. What you’re saying, paraphrased, is that the government is evil because it provided more bread than would otherwise be available. Is this really a sensible argument?

    I appreciate that I sound rude. But we’re supposed to be Libertarians Sean. Economics is our thing. We shouldn’t even be arguing about nonsense like this. God knows what a potential new libertarian would think if he came across this, arguing that we have to get rid of the government because it gives us more than we would otherwise have. It’s incoherent.

    [1] Foreign in this context being literally goods from Northampton sold in Kettering, and vice versa.

  11. “Seriously. Think about it. What you’re saying, paraphrased, is that the government is evil because it provided more bread than would otherwise be available. Is this really a sensible argument?”

    Well, yes, Ian, I am saying something like that. Aren’t you?

    Supposing the government gave free fertiliser to the farmers, and built special railway lines for them, and gave them free carriage; and supposing the bakers didn’t have to pay for their electricity, and so forth – there would be more bread at lower prices than would otherwise be the case.

    Does that mean I’d be a communist or an artophobe if I pointed out the rights violations and opportunity costs and public choice implications of such a policy?

    As for your sneer about Byzantine adventure stories, I am also a teacher of economics, and much of my ghost writing is on economic subjects.

  12. Those are just variations of subsidy but indirectly given rather than paid directly into an aspect of business.

    As I said before, there is no reasonn why Tesco sans the state should have suddenly have enourmous costs land on them for road building/electricity generation etc. Those things the state runs are very much more costly than they need be and with the political scum checked into the lampost hotel there is no reason that the operating costs of large business should go thro’ the roof, short of deliberate sabotage. French electricity is already only 25% as costly as ours because of their nuclear program and that is steeped innstate meddling. In a free society the costs of everybody would be going down. Tesco might fail to compete and thus go the way of the Dodo but not because of infrastructure costs.

  13. Well, yes, Ian, I am saying something like that.

    Which is the mess you get into when you reject basic economic understanding.

    Aren’t you?

    Dear Lord in Heaven, no.

  14. Mr Ecks – correct.

    Ian – you are debating Sean Gabb as if he actually meant what he is writing (thus repeating the mistake I made years ago). Sean does not mean what he is typing – he is just playing silly buggers (and privately laughing as he does it).

    As for Kevin – I keep waiting for him to start claiming that Gladstone said that wages were falling (whereas Gladstone actually said they were rising) and that the benefits of industrialisation went only to the capitalists.

    Kevin has done just about everything else Karl Marx did but, as far as I know, he has not pulled the misquote Gladstone trick yet.

    Perhaps that is for his next post.

  15. As for my “accusations”.

    I do indeed have a source that tells me that Kevin has backed socialist rulers around the world (for example Venezuela), the savage mobs of Egypt, the (Marxist and “anarchist” dominated) international “Occupy” movement, and on and on…….

    Is my source bugs I put in Kevin’s home? DId I get friends and family and subject them to electric shocks till they cracked?

    No – my source is Kevin himself, articles that he has put out via the LA (thanks to Sean Gabb).

    There is no point explaining to Sean that being allied with various Marxist and communal “anarchist” groups is not compatible with libertarianism or classical liberalism (or even moderate social democracy) – there is no point in explaining this to Sean, because he already knows.

    Efforts to explain these matters to Sean are, therefore, quite mistaken (because he already knows) and he will respond with clowds of ink like a squid.

    As for Kevin, he is not in this game for the money – he believes in something. “You mean he actually believes in Ricardian economics in the interpretation of …..”

    Of course not. What Kevin is interested in is destruction (he is like a person who goes to the latest Batman film and shouts support for the bad guys). He wants to smash “capitalism” – a bit of waste of time, as civil society (what Kevin calls “capitalism”) is being a destroyed already. But the destruction is not happening fast enough for Kevin – also it is (or was) just possible that there was an escape hatch, libertarianism. Hence the desire to claim the word “libertarian” and to claim libertarian writers also (by what means), in order to cut off any possible escape for the nonaggression principle based civil society (or what is left of it).

    And Sean?

    I doubt he really is interested in destruction – his wife and child might get killed, or starve (and he seems to have some sincere feelings for them). No, the desire for destruction is not Sean’s motive.

    Is it money – as when Sean was playing with the Islamic Republic of Sudan?

    No it is not money – I doubt that Kevin is paying him a cent.

    It is the desire to make mischief.

    Sean’s desire to be naughty – at heart it really is that.

    It took me years to work this out – but that is all it is. Sean’s desire to be naughtly. I was looking for a deep mystery (some hidden motive) and there is none.

    It took me so long to work out because, at heart, I am as much a cold eyed (or dead eyed) fanatic as Kevin is – just on the other side. In fact I suspect that Kevin and myself are quite similar – something that will please neither of us.

    And my default assumption is that other people (other people involved in this sort of thing) are as fanatical as myself – rather than just in all this out of a desire to be naughty. A default assumption that was quite mistaken.

    As for the future?

    Onrushing darkness – destruction (utter destruction) that I can do nothing to prevent. The Kevins will win – I will starve in a gutter somewhere (if I do not die before then – a more mercyful alternative, so let us hope I get lucky and some Kevin kills me).

    Of course they will also likely starve (eventually) – but that will not bother them. After all their objective, the destruction of what is left of civil society, will have been achieved – so they will no longer be needed.

  16. You have a disconcerting lack of faith in your fellow man Mr. Marks, and in yourself, if I may say.

  17. Richard Jenkinson

    Bit rich, if you ask me, to tell people not to debate with Sean Gabb on the blog of the organisation he controls.

  18. Will Wolverhampton

    Left-Libertarianism: No Masters, No Bosses…

    Which is either an idiot’s credo or a liar’s credo. Compare “No gravity, no death”. But people will no doubt continue to believe that words control reality and saying a thing or hoping for a thing can make it so.

  19. Thomas – you may be correct. I do tend to look on the dark side – perhaps the Kevins of this world will not succeed in destroying what is left of civil society (of the non aggression principle and large scale private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange), and it is even possible that Sean Gabb will regard the future welfare of his wife and child (i.e. saving them from starvation) as more important than his fanatical desire to do mischief (his desire to be naughty – simply out of love of naughtyness).

    I doubt it – but then I tend to doubt the positive (every silver lining has a dark clowd).

    Mr Jenkinson (hello Sean?) – Sean has previously denied that he controls the Libertarian Alliance, even implying that he has given away the shares that he managed to get.

    I have never asked anyone not to debate with Sean – I have only asked them keep in mind that Sean Gabb is a shameless liar, not to debate with him as if actually means what he says (to be fair to Sean he would be a monster if he did actually mean everything he says – so that it is better that he does not). Someone who lies without even serious purpose – simply out of the pleasure he takes in irritating people.

    An anoying habit even in a child (one that merits being sent to bed without supper), but a far worse thing in a middle aged man.

    The primary objective of the Kevins is destruction – to destroy what is left of civil society.

    The primary objective of Sean Gabb is to be irritating – he would say to use his intelligence and learning (and wit, and …….) to amuse himself.

    These are not the same objective – indeed they are not, in the end, compatible objectives.

    Should civillisation fall the local Kevins will most likely kill Sean’s own family.

    I would ask him to reflect on that – but then I have been asking him to reflect on such things for years.

    The only response I get (or will get) is mockery and contempt.

    Nothing will touch Sean and his family – he and they are perfectly safe (especially as he has actually helped the Kevins – so they are his friends).

    Sadly Sean is going to be proved mistaken – and I am actually glad that I will not be around to see it.

  20. David McDonagh writes:

    In 1848, J.S. Mill said that the terminology of masters and workmen was out of date as all on the division of labour worked for the customers. He expected co-operatives to become the norm in the next fifty years, but it never happened as most people hated democracy back then just as they do today, one has to be a propagandist for democracy, as I was 1968-‘71 to get to see how heartfelt that is by many and I had to read Political Parties (1911) to realise why [it is basically felt to be a boring waste of time] and they also hate what is call participation. One of the reasons we have firms rather than what is called self-employment is owing to an attempt to put boring time wasting activities onto the division of labour. The term boss is certainly inept but Dr Johnson was clearly right to see that any society required some form of subordination. It is polycentrically or anarchically done on the market thus the student working at staking up shelves in a supermarket might well soon be managing director of the store or some similar store a few years later.

    The co-ops never emerged as Mill expected as he completely overlooked the massive high cost of participation where committees take minutes but waste hours, as sum wit rightly said. My guess is that democracy will always be rejected by the masses.

    Rousseau once wrote that he would rather be inferior to everyone than the equal of anyone and it seems to me that most people agree with him. Few people will ever sincerely embrace the crass ideal of equality. .

    Democracy and collectivism seems to have no merit whatsoever. My guess is that few will ever support silly participation schemes, as they are a pain in the neck as far as most people are concerned.

    There are no epistemological warrants, of course. But my guess is that the best days of co-ops are in the past. Every assumption, past, current and future have been, are, and will remain, forever, unwarranted. Hamlet said there are more things in reality than is imagined in philosophy and that is true but there are way more things imagined in the Romantic outlook than there are in reality and justificationalist warrants is one of them; class struggle is another, the great benefits of war is a third.

    It is not easy to gauge the size of future firms and it does not seem to matter much. Without the state there will be no state subsidy, of course.

    This poster, Kevin Carson, seems to agree with J.K. Galbraith on demand creation. But Galbraith seems to be deluded on that. People only buy what they want. Adverts cannot get them to buy what they do not want.

    The backward Romantic outlook in its crass glorification of history that holds the past is more germane than it ever can be clearly errs in holding that the memes of primitive accumulation are germane to today. If some family still are rich owing to plunder a few hindered years back then it will most likely be owing to non-plundering work their scions have done since. The idea that the current investors owe their wealth to robbery a few hundred years back clearly looks false. Most wealth on the market is earned from the customers who mainly earn their own wealth by similarly serving others in their daily work.

    The state cannot guarantee profits. Profits are the return to risk taking entrepreneurship.

    Smith was right that the owners tended to originate peacefully but even Smith was way too fond of backward Rousseau as was David Hume. Edmund Burke recreated some of the crass Romantic folly of Rousseau but there was no shortage of Romantic fools anyway. Historians are Romantics to a man, with the possible exception of Lord Acton who rightly said that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He wanted to condemn the immoral acts of the state but most historians feel that is naïve. They think it is judging the past by current standards but what we know about morals today were clearly as well known 2500 years ago as is the case today.

    It is no fairytale that some saved more than others, as we are told that Marx said it was but the idea of surplus value in Capital (1867) is not even up to fairytale standard but it is just as clearly false. Marx read many books but he maybe was backward enough to actually believe that the books he read were all really about theories of surplus value, as he was fool enough to say. Harold Wilson rightly said that a week is a long time in politics but trade is way faster than politics and what happened centuries ago hardly affects the ownership position today. His ideas on primitive accumulation are as Romantic and as plainly false in affecting the present as his silly ideas of class struggle, or the working class ever being a single economic interest group. Only someone not thinking seriously at all could adopt that clearly false idea. But it satisfies the Romantics.

    It is clear enough that the common land that was enclosed centuries ago has no bearing on the shareholders of Tesco, for example, today. Parliament did coercively enclose the lands over the years from about 1500 on to 1900 but all that has no bearing on the wealth that the big firms earn today. The parvenus that Daniel Defoe reports as buying up titles in his day shows us that the aristocracy never did always go back as far as they claimed. Quite a few of the presumed aristocrats are scions of mere up-starts that in many cases do not go back nearly as far as Depoe’s day.

    The hyperbole from the backward Romantic Kevin Carson is clearly false in itself, let alone the fact that if it was true then it could not relate very well to things today. He writes that the Europeans: “looted entire continents of material wealth” on his link but clearly no continent lacks all material wealth today, so that idea is false.

    But he says that the same sort of thing goes on today whenever the state enforces a monopoly. Primitive accumulation goes on. It is not so primitive then, is it? The state does use coercion to get wealth but that is hardly needed to build up a firm like Tesco, or any other big firm, as those two liberals that this Romantic, Kevin Carson, is attacking quite rightly say. On the face of it, there seems to be no reason to suppose that the structure of the market with many large firms will not be the case in the free society but it hardly matters much to liberty whether it is or not. The idea that we cannot get massive firms in a free society looks false on the face of it.

    There was no centrally organised economy in the late USSR, as Kevin Carson imagines, of course. Central planning is a mere myth. It is false to say that state capitalism has ever existed, even in the backward USSR. The state is not economic. The USSR simply painted the market black by holding as falsely as does the Romantics, by proclaiming de jure fictions denying de facto realities.

  21. J.S. Mill produced a lot of very bad stuff on economics (as Rothbard makes clear in the second volume of his history of economic thought).

    It was unfortunate (to say the least) that Mill’s “Principles of Political Economy” became the most popular text on economics in mid Victorian Britian – for example it brought back the Labour Theory of Value (pushed by David Ricardo and Mill’s father James Mill, but largely discredited in the 1820s) J.S. Mill dealt with arguments against the Labour Theory of Value by pretending that they did not exist (this is a highly effective, if unethical, method – and he often used it in politial and intellectual debate) “everyone agrees” or “this theory is settled” is Mill langauge for “I can not think of arguments to defeat those of my opponents – so I am going to pretend that they, and their arguments, do not exist”.

    In this Mill was helped by the Victorian prose style – which has a knack of sounding profound and full of authority, even when the writer is really talking out of his backside. For example, how can a man get away with saying (as he does in “On Liberty”) that regulating what people may sell is totally different (and not a violation of liberty) to regulating what people may buy? With a Victorian prose style all things are possible. It all seems to make sense and indeed that anyone who opposes it must be an ignorant fool – at least it does whilst the spell of the prose style is in place.

    It is often forgotten what influence this man (who presented himself as an isolated and persecuted person) had – even over changes in the structure and practices of the law.

    As for Rousseau – he may have seen himself as the great “Law GIver” (above the collective) but he taught that “freedom” is collectivism.

    If everyone is controlled by the collective they are free – as they are part of the collective (and have no private employers).

    Rousseau might as well have been a spokesman for “The Borg”.

    The Soviet Union…..

    Most production was under state control (in so far as the chaos of the state could control things) – although there were some some private farming plots and so on.

    It was because it was state owned and state controlled (in as much as the state chaos could control anything) that the economy was such a mess (inspite of Russia being “The Treasure House of Nations” in terms of natural resources – if Germany had been the first socialist state it would not have taken 70 years to collapse).

    This collective ownership and control is why some Marxists call the Soviet Union a “degenerate workers state” rather than “state capitalism”.

    Of course a “true workers state” is just an absurd fantasy – and “state capitalism” is a, basically, meaningless term.

  22. @ Ian B

    It seems as if you are obstinately trying to misunderstand Carson’s point to preserve your preconceived notions about capitalism. On this, I refer to your numerous ad hominems.

    You talk about Carson’s fallacies of overproduction, but it is clear from Carson’s writing that he is talking about relative overproduction; one good being overproduced to the detriment of another or more than one goods. In this case he is referring to goods whose production is benefited by state subsidy of transportation at the expense of those goods whose production was not. It might be possible that had transportation not been subsidized by the state, it would have arisen just as it had historically, but this requires a naive fantasy of the nature politics to believe; that politicians suddenly believed it was a good idea to subsidize private transportation. If things would have played out the same without subsidy, then why was it not apparent to the numerous industrialists at the time that railroads were a profitable investment? There was only one that I know of who would have known sans subsidy.

    James Hill did manage to do it in the US with no subsidy at all, implying that railroad construction would have taken place without subsidy. But Carson’s point is not to state that infrastructure would not have arisen at all without the state, but that the state’s subsidy of infrastructure distorted the economy. Instead of production being based on the voluntary choices of people, the market was directed towards the wishes of certain businessmen. One cannot say what direction it would have gone without subsidy, but it is clear from what we know about subsidy that this policy encouraged the construction of infrastructure to the detriment of those industries which would have been invested in out of people’s free decisions. Nowhere does Carson claim that people’s free decisions would have produced a capitalism without transportation. He only writes as a good economic historian does, in terms of towards and away from, as counter-factuals are impossible to quantify.

    Nothing in Carson’s writing claims to be ‘anti-transportation’ as you claim, or ‘anti-competitive’. Nor does anything suggest marxism. Do you see anything about state seizure of capital? No, in fact that’s precisely the thing he’s arguing against. Since you apparently support a state-private partnership it seems that you are the more marxist one.

    Your complaints about his passage on socialization of costs is akin to pointing to corn subsidies and saying: “Look! The corn subsidies produced more corn! Only a moron would claim that less production of corn is bad! There’s no such thing as overproduction of corn!” Your analysis is lacking Hazlitt’s mark of a good economist: the view of the big picture, the would-be alternatives in lieu of state action.

    @ Paul Marks

    Is it impossible for you to understand that the alternative to subsidizing transportation would have been less transportation and more goods/services which people would actually have elected to consume? If this is incorrect, then why were subsidies sought by businessmen in the first place?

    All of your ‘refutations’ are ad hominems. It is odd that you respect Sean Gabb so much, yet plug your ears once he refers to an economic historian whose analysis he agrees with.

    Perhaps Sean isn’t lying when he posts about Carson. Perhaps what’s important is not the ‘leftness’ or ‘rightness’ of one’s analysis, but its actual importance.

  23. “Jack”.

    Kevin Carson’s “point” is kill-the-rich steal-their-stuff.

    He is not interested in economics – other than in using the language of economics (and the names of economists) as a excuse for kill-the-rich steal-their-stuff.

    Sean Gabb is liar because he knows all the above – and pretends he does not.

  24. @ Paul Mack

    How is it that you know that Sean Gabb is lying? More importantly, how is it that you know that Kevin Carson is only interested in economics insofar as it gives him credence to “kill the rich and steal their stuff”?

  25. “Jack”

    I have known about Kevin since about 2006 – it was obvious from his tract “Contract Feudalism”. The normal tactics were used in this work – twisting, quoting out of context (on and on). However, I went through the motions and, checked to see if he was just radically mistaken (in both fact and argument), by writing an account of what he had written (just in case it had all been an accident). It was not a series of accidents – as his replies showed. He had no interest whatever in either in history or economics – other than as a weapon (a weapon to “justify” kill-the-rich steal-their-stuff). Karl Marx used very similar tactics (not mistakes – but radicaly dishonesty in economics, history…..) – see the chapter on him in Paul Johnson’s book “Intellectuals”,

    I am not going through the last six years all over again – carefully going through each piece of work as if it was meant sincerly.

    As for Sean Gabb.

    I did not (not) know at first. “Contract Feudalism” could have been been put into conference packs at the Libertarian Alliance conference in (2006 – if my memory serves) by accident, or without any intention to support.

    However, Sean Gabb got involved in the discussion – denying (repeatedly) that Carson was what he obviously is. Sean Gabb is not an idiot, he knows perfectly well what Carson is (just as Sean knew perfectly well what the Islamic Republic of Sudan people were and are).

    In Sean’s case there is no real desire (as far as I know) to murder and plunder. He just loves being naughty – and pushing Kevin (year after year) is about as naughty as one can be (so he does it). Thus Sean managed to undermine the Libertarian Alliance (not out of ideological motives – simply out of love of being naughty).

    Lying (as long as it is done in high flown Victorian style prose) is an amusing form of naughtyness – so Sean does it. Whether pusing Kevin, claiming that the Americans bribed Haig to lose the 2001 elections (or whatever).

    I am not going to go through the last six years all over again. Acting as if Kevin is sincere when he talks about economics and history and …..

    Kevin is a Kevin – an open supporter of such things as the international “Occupy” movement, and Chevez in Venezuela. As well as the savage mobs of Egypt (who he continued to support after they turned to rape and destruction – indeed that is why he supported them).

    The only logical relationship between a Kevin and a libertarian is kill or be killed. The Kevins make that quite clear by their actions (as well as their words) – whether in Oakland California or the streets of Cairo. These are Social Justice people.

    In reality is no such thing, at the core (there are, of course, plenty of people who are quite sincere – and are used), as the “libertarian left”. Any more than Cas Sustein’s “libertarian paternalism” (an oxymoron) is anything other than totalitarianism by the installment plan (indeed it is not even original – it is Fabianism). By supporting Social Justice in theory and (logicially enough) such things Occypy movement in practice, the Kevins make it perfectly clear that they are about as libertarian as Nasser or Castro.

    And people who associate with Kevins (and pretend they are not what they obviously are) are about as much to be trusted as Richard Nixon and EEdward Heath – with their defence of Mao.

    I quite agree that neither Nixon or Heath were socialists, they were just (to use a techncal term) “scumbags” – people who made a calculated choice to ignore the evidence in front of them, and acted as if that evidence (in this case the evidence that Mao was largest scale mass murderer in human history) did not exist.

    To return to the Kevins…..

    If people choose to stand with the enemy (“Occupy”, Chevez and so on) then they are the enemy.

    It does not interest me that they have a Black Flag rather than a Red Flag – what I am interested in is what side they are on.

    As for the history of “false flag” activties (in this case people quoting people such as Ludwig Von Mises or Hayek – when, in reality, they passionately hate and despise everything these thinkers stood for)….

    Flase flag tactics have a long history, most people remember them from the Soviets (it is a old KGB tactic to create fake “anti Communist” groups).

    However, the Soviets did not invent the tactic. For example, the Imperial Russian service used the same tactic – setting up Revolutionary Groups that were (privately) under their control and working to subvert (rather than to advance) their official objectives.

    However, the tactic is not perfect (no tactic is).

    In this case it is not exactly wildly difficult to see who is a friend and who is an enemy of large scale private property in the means of production and distribution and exchange (the basis of civil society and, thus, of liberty in an advanced society).

    Even such a simple thing as mentioning the names of Charles and David Koch (and carefully observing the reaction) is sometimes enough.

    I even suspect that these people (Kevins and other such) actually, in part, want to be caught. Much as Kim Philby and the others often made little Social Justice slips in their conversations (which, tragically, were dismissed as “jokes” or whatever).

    After all, if they did not want to be caught, they could cover their tracks much better than they do.

    There is no actual need for them to make it blatantly obvious what they are – yet that is exactly what they do.

    That can only be, at least in part, deliberate.

    A sort of “in your face” I-am-Cong-and-you-can-not-touch-me – watch-while-I-dance-and-sing performance.

  26. Oh, by the way….

    Any claim that, without government interventionism, farming and manufacturing would have been dominated by “micro” business enterprises, is nonsense.

    It makes about as much sense as Mao ordering the population to make steel in their back yards.

  27. If Kevin was ever claiming that “if X had not occurred, Y definitely would have”, then that is bad social science. The real point, however, is not about absolutes but about ‘more and less’ which is what a good social scientist uses when discussing counterfactuals. Without transportation subsidies, the balance of power between large and small businesses certainly would have shifted to the latter. To what degree this would have occurred is unknowable.

    By the way, the reason that Mao’s backyard smelters didn’t work is no proof that small scale business is ineffective.

    As for your long statement on Carson being a socialist insider and enemy of civilization, this may all possibly be true. But what relevance is it to his analysis? He’s only pointing out a very basic thing, a fundamental pillar of economic thought really. That subsidies distort markets. Whether he is an anti-civilization socialist or not has no bearing on the falsity of his statements, just it wouldn’t if Che Guevara claimed that water is wet. Indeed, water is wet. Gabriel Kolko was a socialist historian, yet the late and great Murray Rothbard absolutely depended on his work for analyzing the Progressive Era. Is Rothbard therefore a socialist conspirator?

    You don’t have to give Carson a hug, but there is a point to his research and analysis: big businesses sought the subsidization of transport infrastructure, and this benefitted them at the expense of smaller-scale competitors. If anything, Libertarians should be glad that this work is coming to light. It demonstrates the innocence of free-market ideology in much of the undesirable situations of the Gilded Age: oligopsonistic labor markets and consolidation of power within heavy industry.

    There’s no need to resort to Ad Hominem. If you think that the effects of not subsidizing transportation would not have been a shift toward local production and away from large-scale mass production via the free and less-taxed interactions between market actors, could you explain why?

  28. “Ad Hominem?”

    It is not me that had made up that Kevin supports Chevez, the “Occupy” movement, the savage mobs of Egypt (and on and on). He has indictated this himself – repeatedly.

    If someone indicates they are an enemy of civil society I am not “resorting” if I report the fact.

    As for transport.

    Roads. canals and railways would still have been built without any government subsidy.

    People seek government subsidies for the same reason other people climb mountains – “because they are there”.

    It does not mean they will not act without the subsidies.

    Or that better people will not act – if they do not.

    This Kevin and “Jack” know perfectly well.

    By the way using the words “research” and “analysis” in relation to Kevin and co, is disgusting.

  29. @ Paul

    Do I have to point out the irony of you defending your ad hominem with… Kevin Carson’s affiliations?

    And as for transport:

    It sounds like you are saying that the level of subsidization has zero effect on the degree to which transportation is built? Why defend subsidies anyways? No one is saying that people don’t act without subsidies. I already acknowledged that in my reference to James Hill. My point is that subsidization increases these activities past their market demand. Why you keep skirting around this is beyond me.

  30. There is no “irony” in pointing out that an enemy is enemy.

    And the SOURCE of information (or “argument”) is important. A “fact” from an enemy source is most likely not a “fact” at all (as I pointed out by pointing to Karl Marx – you should read the chapter on his deceptions in Paul Johnsons’s “Intellectuals” or in many other works).

    If something is from Kevin nothing else really needs to be known about it – it is from Kevin (end). This is because Kevin (by his own repeated indications of what side he is on in the various conflicts) is no good (a “baddie”) and stuff from a no good source, is likely to be no good itself.

    As for your own “argument”.

    Congratulations “Jack”! If your position is correct you have proved that state intervention is wise and noble (of course your position is not correct).

    For without modern transport systems and economics of scale in production the vast majority of people would starve to death. That would be the result of “keeping most production local and on a small scale”.

    So if the position that massive transportation and large scale production would not have developed without state intervention is true (it is not true) then we should all celebrate the state.

  31. It seems your incapable of both separating a statement from its speaker and applying Hazlitt’s one lesson.

  32. “Jack” – Henry Haziltt would have been just as much an enemy of Kevin as I am.

    Nor is there any real “argument” from Kevin – as Ian B. has often explained, it is just ravings.