Looking For Socialism? Try Buying A Drink In One of America’s State Controlled Liquor Stores

Below is today’s column on the continued use of state controls over alcohol in the United States. With the decision this month of Washington state to embrace the free market system and drop controls, citizens in other states are rightfully asking why officials keep this form of central planning, including officials in conservative states that purportedly favor free enterprise over government regulations.


If current political rhetoric is to be believed, we are on the brink of either a Communist or Socialist takeover. Republican leaders and pundits have repeatedly denounced Obama administration programs from health care to bailouts as part of a creeping “socialist agenda,” which appears to mean any centralized control of a market.

What is fascinating is that the warnings over state monopolies omit one of the longest-standing institutions of central planning and control in the U.S.: state liquor boards.

Seventeen states continue to exercise control over liquor as absurd relics from the 1930s. Ironically, there is no better example of the failures of central planning than the “ABC stores” around the country from Alabama to Pennsylvania. Indeed, if Karl Marx were alive and trying to buy Schnapps today, he might reconsider aspects of Das Kapital after dealing with our central alcohol planners.

This month, many people were enthralled with a controversy in Idaho where the State Liquor Division had barred the sale of Five Wives Vodka. The division refused to allow Idahoans to buy the popular vodka because it might be offensive to the Mormon population in the state.

I represented the distiller of the vodka, Ogden’s Own Distillery of Utah, in raising a host of constitutional objections to the enforcement of such religious mores. The state recently agreed to rescind its bar on sales, but the controversy should not pass without some discussion of continued existence of these state monopolies on alcohol sales.

Out with prohibition

Almost 80 years ago, the country repealed the prohibition of alcohol with the 21st Amendment. Many states emerged from prohibition with strict state control boards, but the majority dispensed with this inefficient system years ago. However, millions of Americans continue to live in states that control where and what they can buy in terms of liquor. Beer sales are generally not subject to such controls.

Indeed, the Idaho Division blocked Five Wives Vodka despite the fact that bars in the state serve Polygamy Porter. However, when it comes to liquor, these states stand between the consumer and companies with an army of bureaucrats who add costs and delays for the public.

In the case of Idaho, the division’s director, Jeff Anderson, noted that his staff tasted the vodka and preferred the pricing and quality of other products. Imagine those enlightened folks you meet at the post office and think of them passing judgment on the relative value of different types of alcohol — literally of thousands of products sought by citizens. These alcohol apparatchiks in states such as Idaho sit around and debate whether citizens should be allowed to buy a particular liquor of their choice.
Anderson said they concluded that this vodka was not “something we want to have on our shelf, sitting next to Absolut vodka.” Putting aside the perceived need to protect this Swedish vodka from being seen near Utah vodka, there remains a question of the function and power of these bureaucrats. Like Anderson’s vodka of choice, the bureaucrats consider their power over consumers as absolute.

Most states have gotten rid of these boards and fared well in relying on the market and conventional regulations to protect consumers. Just last month, Washington state embraced the free market and got rid of its state control. Thirty-three states rely on what Adam Smith called the “invisible hand” of the market where consumers choose among products — and the law of supply and demand handles the rest. However, eleven of the seventeen control states — Alabama, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Oregon, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Utah — exercise direct control over the retail sale and price of liquor, sometimes even owning the ABC stores where it is sold.

Out with the boards

Because I live in Virginia, I have to drive to an ABC store to buy liquor — a store that is insulated from competition, and it shows. Like many government-run enterprises, the place is run with all of the care and concern of your local DMV.

States differ on the rationale for these boards. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, for example, uses its authority “not to promote the sale of liquor” but to “promote moderation and to enforce existing liquor laws.” The heavily Mormon state is famous for imposing arbitrary limits on the sale of alcohol from formerly banning of bars (in favor of “clubs”) to the required use of “Zion curtains” to prevent bartenders from being seen pouring alcohol.

These and other laws seem based on the belief that “for the bureaucrat, the world is a mere object to be manipulated by him.” The man who said that was Marx, a great believer in central control. These states have allowed a fixed bureaucracy to take hold of a market — a self-perpetuating and inefficient middleman in the market.

Ironically, alcohol board heads often defend their decision to bar particular brands because of the limited space that they have at warehouses and stores — ignoring the obvious point that there would be no limitations if they were removed as a chokepoint in the system. Anderson noted that he and his staff have to decide between hundreds of vodkas in choosing what will be made available to consumers while in most states this is the function of the market and consumer choice.

Unlike Marx’s vision, free enterprise is the touchstone of our society. With such free enterprise comes free choice — not simply the freedom to choose between the options approved by the government. Smith in The Wealth of Nations stressed that “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

Smith could just as well have added that it should also not be from the benevolence of the bureaucrat any more than the brewer — at least in deciding our drink of choice.

Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

June 18, 2012

134 thoughts on “Looking For Socialism? Try Buying A Drink In One of America’s State Controlled Liquor Stores

  1. While we’re at it, could we do something about the laws in some states (including NC, where I live) that ban sales of alcohol before 1 pm on Sundays? Because, of course, if you can’t buy a bottle of wine, you’ll just get bored and go to church.

  2. While I agree that the privatization of liquor stores here in Virginia is advisable, my experience with ABC store employees hardly mimics Professor Turley’s. I find the stories well-organized and clean. The employees are helpful and knowledgeable about the product, and they scrupulously enforce the prohibition on sales of alcohol to minors. For the record, I find DMV offices herein Richmond manned by helpful employees, too. No brag, just fact.

  3. I agree, the state should have nothing to do with alcoholic beverage sales; or any flavored beverage sales either, they are not critical to life in any way. These are morality police that should not exist.

    For “beverages” the state should ensure clean water is available at cost from the tap; to me that is enough.

    My own philosophy of socialism is that even if the government is going to provide something (like health care, or free school) there should be no restriction on private enterprise providing the same thing. I do NOT believe in vouchers or any other redirection of government funds, but if you want to pay your property tax that funds the public school system AND you want to home school your kids or send your kids to a private school at your own expense, have at it.

  4. Do they still have brown bags in Carolina?

    Of course the idea was that the wife after church would hava a chance to get her husband home before the ABC opened (and he got drunk). Not needed in today’s moderation.

    I enjoy in Sweden the information offered in most “System” stores on choice and use of wines, grappa, and malt. And just think of the thrills of discovering rhum and tequila. Over time a developed palate can be developed distinguishing many factors.

    And if I want rotgut I know which shelf it will be on.

    The choices are not made by bureaucrats but by expert tasters. There’s never a weekly special, never price competition, and most of the price is taxes.

    Tax the drug users, just like we should do with marijuana too.

    Perhaps the American control system could be trained to add value to the distribution system, and increasing health by increasing choice of healthier drinks.

    Pizza is actually better with wine than Coke, if both are of good quality.

    And the Prof. knows where his unregulated market with its concern for the end customer leads to. Have any methyl poisonings lately.

  5. BTW, the products are described by circle diagrams, and word characteristics such as: developed, dominant barrel, vanilla, citrus, etc depending on the beverage type.
    Which is best is your choice.

  6. Tony C:

    that is most magnanimous of you, considering the working poor and most of the middle class cannot afford both property tax, income tax and private school tuition.

    Only the rich are able to take advantage of your “beneficence”.

  7. The liquor license is another regulatory usurpation of rights that discriminates against the potential; providers and consumer by limiting the number of providers. By limiting the the number of providers, the consumer is limited by both who he does business with and most likely the price, as reduced providers (the supply demand principle) generally would cause an increase in price. The mere fact of the high costs of the licenses, $25K to 100K, provides an inducement to charge higher prices just to return the cost of the investment, if that is what you would call it. The high cost of the license also reduces the number of providers. The cost of opening a store, bar or restaurant is high enough without having to come up with an additional large some of money, surely limits the number of providers.

  8. I think government regulations in some areas are necessary…. As stated above this is a holdover from prohibition. It has long been a way for states to raise revenue…..Without additional taxation or use fees…..

  9. “Holdover from prohibition”. True. And the problems of pre-prohibition and under prohibition to some degree are still problems today.

    Do it the Swedish way: Give him his poison, but with
    moderation. Lagom är bäst.

  10. Dr. Turley fails to mention that he can easily cross a river (or walk from his GW office) and pay some of the lowest liquor prices in the country in DC where we make a fortune on liquor taxes from Virginia and, esp. from the bizarrely micromanaging Montgomery County in Maryland.

  11. Echoing mespo727272

    I spent 4 hours last Friday (here in GA) for my 15 year old son to get his learner’s driving permit. The DMV personel were fantastic: friendly, helpful, and very apologetic about the wait. BUT we were one of gazillions of people who had waited until the last minute to get permits before the summer school offering of driver’s ed class. Our DMV was prepared as best they could be, and terrific to work with. My hat is off to them, especially for their patience.

    Here in GA, the problem isn’t so much that municipalities don’t want Sunday liquor sales, but that the PTB finds ways to keep them from voting on it. Granted, we don’t have ABC-type stores, it is a fight between various business interests, along with “values voters.”

  12. Rafflaw,
    Let’s put it another way, it is not Socialism.
    It’s a simple question if you want the neighbors barfing on your lawn, the bums panhandling for a drink, or other social ills. Is requiring prescriptions for drug purchase socialist?

    Good misleading joke. You’re doing fine.

    Some even feel that bathing suits should be required at swimming pools. What a shock. (back at cha)

  13. OTOTOT BAD NEWS
    Friend in AZ uncle has had his cancer operated. Cause. Agent Orange. They know this after its use in Vietnam.

    She passed along this. Seems weeds are getting resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup.
    Solution: Agent Orange from Dow Chemical (2,4,D).

    Enjoy it in your veggies and in your drinking water.

    EPA is weakly considering what to do. Here’s what you can meanwhile. Good eating!
    ————————————

    Big Ag armed with 2,4-D is a scary scenario — 2,4-D
    has been shown to be contaminated with dioxins, is linked to numerous health problems, is highly likely to drift onto neighboring fields, is frequently found in groundwater, and is likely to already be negatively impacting several species of at-risk animals. But despite this, the USDA has not done any meaningful review of possible consequences to human health, the environment, or other farms that could result from approving “2,4-D resistant,” genetically engineered corn.

    With the USDA seemingly ready to approve the 2,4-D resistant corn, the EPA’s involvement is crucial. If the EPA stands strong,and rejects 2,4-D, they can effectively kill Dow’s 2,4-D resistant corn and soy. Please take action now:
    http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6883009&p=poison_corn&id=42033-3626525-TxR_1tx&t=6
    ——————————————————

    Just so you know: corn is fed to most of the animals that we in turn eat. Dioxin does not break down and become harmless when ingested in animals we feed on.

    Are you feeling like being a part of a huge test?

    Our genes have survived a lot. RoundUp and Agent Orange are not some of them.

  14. @bron: that is most magnanimous of you, considering the working poor and most of the middle class cannot afford both property tax, income tax and private school tuition.

    You are right, it is magnanimous of me; because I would ensure the children of the working poor get an education whether their parents pay a dime of taxes or not.

    You see, here is where you separate from reality. I have BEEN the working poor, I grew up with the working poor, and by definition the working poor do not have enough money to do everything they want. If public school was not free, they would not send their kids to private schools instead. They would spend the money on food, better shelter, healthcare, fixing the car, and getting by. Their children would be put to work and receive NO education, which was generally the case before public schools, and that would in turn waste their potential as more productive middle class citizens, after their prime learning years spent working as laborers, they would pretty much be laborers for life, and continue that cycle of poverty.

    The working poor do not pay enough taxes for the public schooling their children get. Instead they are subsidized by the working non-poor, in order to help end the cycle of poverty and not waste the potential of the children of the working poor.

    Yes, it is true that only the rich can afford private schools, but the same thing was true when there were NO public schools, schooling was reserved for the wealthy and privileged and everybody else was a serf, living meal to meal. Public schools give the children of poverty a chance to escape serfdom, and it works: the majority of Americans receive enough education from public schools to be productive with a standard of living far above the typical life of uneducated people in areas with no public schools.

  15. Most prohibitions are a scams upon society by existing businesses to limit competition. Guess who were the big contributors to the anti-gambling initiative here in Florida a decade back or so. Parimutuels, Cruise lines (off shore gambling), owners of the football and baseball teams, etc.

  16. This is a market where other than taxation and licensing there is no legitimate governmental interest that creates a social benefit. Fiat monopolies are only appropriate when there is legitimate governmental interest in creating a benefit for society (such as maximizing the size of the risk pool the reducing the cost of risk and administrative costs by providing universal health care insurance).

  17. @Bron @Tony C. Public Schools have not accomplished what they were intended to do. Drop out and truancy rates are even higher today than when public education was begun and I believe that literacy is actually down. Home schooling is huge because of what people perceive as bad education. Anyone with money and any common sense sends their kids to private schools.

  18. @AY: I do not think government should be in business for a profit. Ever. I think government operations should be break-even or run at a loss, run by government employees with civil service wages from top to bottom, CEO to janitor. There is no need for any civil servant worker to be earning more than about what a military General or Congressman earns a year, or to get bonuses, perks or anything else, other than a fair retirement package.

    Operations intended to run at a loss (like welfare programs, free schools, free roads, free military protection, free law enforcement, free firefighting) should be funded by fair taxation, operations intended to break even with fee-per-use charges (like the post office or building inspection) should have any shortfalls covered by government bond-type loans that must be paid back by raised prices (increase the cost of a stamp), and any surpluses returned in the form of reduced prices.

    I think of government as the un-business, they should do the jobs that the vast majority of us do not want to be done for a profit, because the profit inevitably creates a conflict of interest.

    I think the incessant demand among some to run government “like a business” is asking for precisely the wrong thing, it is asking the government to be as corrupt, corner-cutting and self-serving as possible: Just like the profit-obsessed corporations we simultaneously complain are ripping us off and out of control.

  19. Idealist,

    “It’s a simple question if you want the neighbors barfing on your lawn, the bums panhandling for a drink, or other social ills. Is requiring prescriptions for drug purchase socialist?”

    You know what’s odd? I live in a state where all liquor stores are privately owned and operated, and have most of my life. I’ve never had anyone puke on my lawn because of alcohol consumption.

    There’s a difference between regulating a substance and selling the substance.

  20. @Skip: That is not true. False. The problems with public schools are a result of idiots cutting their funding and leaving them without the resources or personnel they need. The people doing that are idiots because they do not understand that an educated workforce repays society in economic productivity at ten times the investment, or they are selfish jerks and sociopaths that do not really care about anybody but themselves.

  21. Gyges,

    So one persons experience proves something???

    We’re talking about social systems, and that means stats.

    Do your liquor stores give advice on beverages? Never saw it in an ABC store either.

    Social systems are an expression of public perceived need. Requires goals, methods, etc and following up, cutting out things no longer worth it. Find me a liquor chain or store that does that. And getting a system that provides what private profit interest will provide to do it BETTER is the challenge.

    The politicians are actively working on these things too. When and if we can drink after 12AM in the parks?
    What can we do to lower the amount of traditional boozing at school year end parties, public and private, through education and information?

    Do we go around town in near-age groups, hip uniformed, to hand out condoms and advice? And call for the “woozy-wagon” to take them to the de-toxification clinic.

  22. idealist707 1, June 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Gyges,

    So one persons experience proves something???
    ==================================
    Only anecdotally.

    It may be time for Five Husbands Vodka, which I am sure Mika of Morning Joe would imbibe.

  23. That’s why, before leaving for the Outerbanks on Friday, I bought my liquor at home, in MD… Free market at work.

  24. Harry Skip Robinson – you’d never convince the government of that, because even if you did, why would they care? In any state that has a percentage tax, higher prices = more money for the state.

  25. Idealist,

    Well, so far it’s my experience against your… um, what exact evidence did you provide? You want to talk stats. Fine. You’re making a claim (that is, state run liquor stores prevent “neighbors barfing on your lawn, the bums panhandling for a drink, or other social ills”), so it’s your responsibility to prove it’s true.Let’s see a comparison between states with state run liquor stores and those without.

    I don’t quite get what you mean by “beverage advice,” but when I worked in liquor stores, I was expected to be knowledgeable about the inventory, and be able to give recommendations. In fact, I don’t really follow what you’re saying in general, so let me just ask: Do you think that states should directly sell liquor? If so, why?

    Now personally, I don’t see a single problem that the state sale of liquor solves that simple regulation of liquor (like pretty much every other consumer good) doesn’t.

    Everyone else,

    Relevant in the discussion is the history as to WHY we view liquor in a different light than beer and wine. It goes back to the founding of the prohibition movement in the US (which actually goes back to the founding of the country). Back then, water wasn’t safe to drink. Beer and wine however were. EVERYBODY drank beer, wine and cider, because it wouldn’t kill you. If you had a big enough estate, you brewed your own, if not you bought the excess. At any rate, calling for the removal of beer and wine would have been a no go, but liquor… well that was much more workable. It wasn’t “Food” like the other stuff, it was medicine at best and devil water at worst. So hard liquor was able to be demonized in a way that the non-refined stuff wasn’t, and that particular bit of rhetoric still shows up in the oddest places. Like states with different rules for selling liquor and beer.

  26. Idealist, I don’t think they were calling it socialism per se. They were applying the socialist definition used by the R. in the US, which is, uh, not quite in touch with reality. Prof. Turley was subtly making fun of the idiots who equate socialism with any kind of government control of any resource, which is facially silly, and then calling them on the hypocrisy of utilizing those same types of government control that they oppose to maintain complete control of a commodity. In other words, government control is bad except when it prevents sin…

  27. Gyges,

    Cool, and what advice could you provide as to what wine to drink with hard smoked salmon?
    Or italian wines in general compared to French wines as to character and price? Could you compare the different single malts? What qualities of grappa can you inform on? What is grappa made from?

    Want some stats, go look yourself. I’m not doing your work.

    I was comparing results socially, which we all know is invidious. Sweden and whatever state you choose.
    Apples and oranges. We belonged to the vodka belt. Had to get us over to beer and wine instead.
    Succeeded. Would NOT have with private sales.

    And we know who pisses ón themselves when legalization of marijuana is named.

    Here, you can’t advertize more than a name, only a name of a whisky or wine, etc.
    Ho lying pictures of swank people or young hots looking tough. Where are the pictures of liver cirrhosis, broken homes, etc. Time for cancer pics on cig packets. And Afghanistan children slain tending goats. Time for reality.

  28. Jude:
    “That’s why, before leaving for the Outerbanks on Friday, I bought my liquor at home, in MD… Free market at work.”

    Which outer banks? Carolina? Heard of Ocean City? Niece was invited for a sail on large catamaran there over the weekend. Too much wind. 27 knots registered, if it is to be believed.

  29. Idealist

    “Cool, and what advice could you provide as to what wine to drink with hard smoked salmon?”

    Don’t drink wine with smoked salmon. Drink Rauchbeer, or Alaskan Smoked Porter (Alder is THE smoke for salmon, which is what Alaskan uses). If the smoke isn’t overwhelming, you could probably do a saison, or maybe a wit beer, the fluffy carbonation of the wheat beer, would actually cut the fat of the same really well.

    “Or italian wines in general compared to French wines as to character and price? ”

    There’s a huge variety in both quality and character in both country’s wine production. They both take their local appellations VERY seriously, and so you’ve got a wide wide variety of micro-regions and styles.

    “Could you compare the different single malts?”

    The one’s I’ve had yes, the others I could make an educated guess about.

    “What qualities of grappa can you inform on? What is grappa made from?”

    I never like grappa, and honestly in the two and a half years I sold booze, I sold maybe 4 bottles, 3 of them to the same guy, and I never had anyone ask me more than “what’s that?” I think if you’re the kind of person that drinks grappa, you’re the kind of person that already knows about it. I do know however that it’s made from the left overs from wine making. It’s different than regular brandy because brandy ferments and then distills grape juice and grappa ferments and then distills the actual solid left overs from pressing the grapes for wine making.

    “Want some stats, go look yourself. I’m not doing your work. ”

    Here’s the thing, it’s not my work to prove or disprove what YOU said. It’s your work. If you don’t care enough about your views to do that, then why should I care what you say?

    Seriously, I took the time to take your little test about my knowledge, because I made the claim that I knew about that kind of thing. Why on earth shouldn’t I expect you to live up to the same standards as me. You make a claim, YOU prove it. That’s how conversations work.

  30. Actually Tony we have one of the highest costing public schools systems in the world. The administrators and operational costs are thought to be utilizing all the money. The public school teachers unions are also the second largest campaign contributors to the Democratic Party. If some of the poorest people in India, can somehow send their children to private schools, despite the availability of free public schools, your claim of both the necessity and and reason for the lack of quality of public education is not defensible. The more money we spend on socialism the worse our society will become and that’s the one fact you cannot deny.

  31. Tony C:

    I dont think the working poor should have to pay taxes at all. None, nada, zip, nil. They should get a pass on property tax, sales tax, social security tax, medicare, unemployment, etc. if they make under $40,000/year and have children.

    So we are on the same page.

  32. Harry Skip:

    Socialism is very expensive, just ask Greece and Spain.

    Too bad Greece and Spain dont have oil or some other natural resource which could be exploited to pay the bills.

  33. Too bad Greece and Spain had their economies wrecked by the same property bubble created by the CDS debacle that is currently ruining our economy and Greece’s problem was compounded by a corruption problem that makes ours look quaint and they were lying about their national finances to meet the standards required to participate in the Euro.

  34. Harry Skip:

    Socialism is very expensive, just ask Greece and Spain.

    Too bad Greece and Spain dont have oil or some other natural resource which could be exploited to pay the bills.

    I wonder if the amount per pupil spent on education includes all of the expenses such as athletics, building construction, teacher pensions, and that sort of thing? Or do the school districts low ball it for obvious reasons?

    If the actual cost is $15,000, $18,000 or $25,000 when all costs are included is public education that good a deal? Facility costs, employment costs, etc. should be included in the per year pupil cost. It is in private schools.

    I will say that my son got a very good education in our public school system, as good as from any private school but he was in the IB program which is not available to all students. Just like anything else there are good public schools and bad public schools.

  35. Yet another article on “socialism” by an author who doesn’t know what socialism is. Prohibition was a conservative idea, and the states that had a hard time letting go of it are the ones that decided to support the grand bourgeoisie by selling their products while putting the petty bourgeoisie out of business. Democratic socialism controls corporations, not people, and a true people’s economy would educate people on safe distillation without concentrating toxins, so that they wouldn’t be forced to buy a commercial product, although we’d also own our fair share of the commercial enterprises. Libertarians think the market will make them free. It hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t see it happening in the future, as the market takes over more and more of the government and turns what’s left of democracy into full-blown fascism.

  36. Gyges,

    Never tasted grappa and don’t want to.

    I have been experimenting with Italian wines this last six months or so and have been pleasantly surprised by both the variety and quality. Right now I’m into Sicily and a grape named Zibibbo which has become my new favorite.

    (P.S — every time my phone rings I think of you ;) )

  37. The red and maroon states cited as examples of this conartistive prudery merely serve to emphasize my point.

  38. I used to drink grappa with my Italian landlady. She and her husband would flavor it with either cherries or young pine cones. It’s pretty damn stout. They would serve it in little aperitif glasses. A little goes a long way. Straight I imagine it’s a lot like rocket fuel.

  39. Tony C, Bron, Mitch McConnell disagrees that the working poor should have generous tax breaks:

    “McConnell: Tax code benefits the poor and needs to be changed”

    “I understand full well that our friends on the other side live to every day to raise taxes,” McConnell told CBS host Charlie Rose on Tuesday. “Almost 70 percent of the federal revenue is provided by the top 10 percent of taxpayers now. Between 45 and 50 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all.

    ”http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/19/mcconnell-tax-code-benefits-the-poor-and-needs-to-be-changed/

    “We have an extraordinarily progressive tax code already,” he added. “It is a mess and it needs to be revisited again.”

    According to the Congressional Research Service (PDF), almost 100,000 millionaires in the U.S. pay a lower effective tax rate than millions of families earning less than $100,000.”

  40. @Skip: Actually Tony we have one of the highest costing public schools systems in the world.

    I do not believe you, on a per student basis, I think that is bullshit. Norway will pay for college for any student that wants to go, a full ride, even to an AMERICAN college.

    The public school teachers unions are also the second largest campaign contributors to the Democratic Party.

    Funny, I thought you were a fan of letting people do whatever they want with their own money. If they want to join a union, and the union contributes to candidates that support unions, isn’t that them acting in their own selfish best interest? What business is that of yours? Or do you only want to outlaw the behaviors that work against your sociopathic greed?

    If some of the poorest people in India, can somehow send their children to private schools,

    More utter bullshit. I have been to India, dufus, and the poorest people in India can barely eat, they haven’t changed their clothing in thirty years, and they sleep in alleys and crap on the side of the road. Perhaps you should do some research before you start talking about the “poorest people in India.”

    The more money we spend on socialism the worse our society will become and that’s the one fact you cannot deny.

    It isn’t a fact, and I deny it with gusto; the happiest citizens in the world are citizens of socialist countries with top income taxes over 50%, and even most of the people earning over a million a year in those societies, when surveyed, claim they support socialism and it HELPS their business.

    You are a lying fabricator, Skip.

  41. @Bron: They should get a pass on property tax, sales tax, social security tax, medicare, unemployment, etc. if they make under $40,000/year and have children.

    I do not think children make a difference, but $20K per worker is fine by me. I do not agree with sales taxes, they are regressive (they impact the poor much more than they impact the rich, in terms of hours worked per year to pay sales taxes.) I would replace them with an income tax. As for property taxes, I would approach it the same way; a deduction of about $60K on the value of the property; taxes only apply to the excess value over $60K.

    For exact figures, my approach would be to set the figures so the bottom 35% pay no taxes, everybody else pays taxes on earnings or property value in excess of those figures.

    I tend to believe that free riders are a small percentage of the population, and 95% or more have at least the ambition to be solidly middle class. So if they could get out of the bottom 35% they WOULD, which means they cannot, for whatever reason, they just do not have the ability, talent, health or smarts to escape the bottom.

    So I see no reason to penalize them for being who they are and less capable than average, fate has already handed them the crappy end of a stick. They can still contribute to the economy and do jobs others do not want. I can fund all the government we should have with a progressive tax on the top 65% of workers (including health care and education).

  42. One element of the new law in Washington State which Mr Turley fails to mention, and I am sure he didn’t bother to look into before making his pronouncement, is that prices in Washington all went up as soon as the state was no longer involved. That increase did not come from taxes or state controls, but from the need for a multitiered system to add profit at every level. Of course this profit for a few citizens is obviously better than lower prices and more money to spend for all of the citizens of the State. I’ll give up a vodka here or there for that.

  43. Gyges,

    You’re the challenger. I named no specifics, and won’t now. If you crow at that, then we know why you are here.
    Good luck with that.
    Good answer to a wrongly formulated question: Should have been the different singla malt producing regions. But
    even on Islay they are starkly different.

    Grappa is like vodka, only nore so. Good is very good, bad is terrible. Drank alsways straight. Little on the lips and then inhale while diluting it with saliva. Tastes better than the description .

    Blouise,
    Try finding a grape called Agliano. Not Sicilian, the foot of the boot.

    In general, I look for value, not snob brands or obscure ones. Don’t define mhyself by brands I consume or bear.
    General comment, not implying anything about you or others.

    Beer is not my beverage of choice. But with some foods, it is a must. Hungarian polf, a stew with paprika and kummin, etc.

  44. Turley knows from whence he came but not of where he speaks. Here in NC the ABC stores are owned by solo practitioners and are clean, neat, no ads, tidy, people are helpful, friendly. Wine and beer are sold in grocery stores.

  45. I plan on selling Five Wives Vodka in my Liquor Store as soon as it hits my freight door. Why? Because I CAN.

    I also plan on making a mockery of the Idaho liquor control board in an upcoming newspaper ad. Again, because I CAN.

    Freedom’s just another word for Everything to Gain.

  46. Jeff. You are not correct. Since Washington gave up its monopoly the increase was due to FEES payable to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, as was in the text of the voter approved initiative. The Spirit Tax (20.5%) and the Liter Tax ($3.7708 per liter) was present during the state control period as well. What changed as far as assessments went was for retailers we were required to pay 17% of the sale price to the LCB. Wholesalers were made to pay 10% to the LCB.

    http://www.liq.wa.gov/pressreleases/where-your-liquor-dollars-went

  47. “Too bad Greece and Spain had their economies wrecked by the same property bubble created by the CDS debacle that is currently ruining our economy and Greece’s problem was compounded by a corruption problem that makes ours look quaint and they were lying about their national finances to meet the standards required to participate in the Euro.”

    Lets examine some causes of the “property bubble”:

    “The day the democrats took over was not January 22nd 2009, it was actually January 3rd 2007 the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress.

    The Democrat Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

    For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is “Bush’s Fault”, think about this:
    January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress.

    At the time:

    The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77

    The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%

    The Unemployment rate was 4.6%

    George Bush’s Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB GROWTH

    Remember the day…

    January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee.

    The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?

    BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!

    Unemployment… to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

    Bush asked Congress 17 TIMES to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy.

    And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA

    And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie? OBAMA and the Democrat Congress

    So when someone tries to blame Bush.

    REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007…. THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!”

    Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democrat Party.

    Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 & 2009 as well as 2010 & 2011.

    In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

    For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets.

    And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009.

    If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets.

    If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself. In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th. “

  48. Tony C:

    “Funny, I thought you were a fan of letting people do whatever they want with their own money. If they want to join a union, and the union contributes to candidates that support unions, isn’t that them acting in their own selfish best interest? What business is that of yours? Or do you only want to outlaw the behaviors that work against your sociopathic greed?”

    A good many teachers join the union because of work related stresses. They dont agree with what the NEA does with their dues money. They really dont have a say in how it is spent. But they join for the protection offered by the unions, both national and state level, against crazy administrators and crazier parents.

    There are no competing teacher’s unions with libertarian/conservative ideals to my knowledge. If there were, I have a feeling the NEA would be out a significant portion of its membership.

    So I dont think Harry Skip’s objection is based on sociopathic greed or just plain greed.

    Just out of curiosity, why do you always think about sociopaths? Are you one? People who think about various behaviors and constantly bring them into conversations are highly suspicious. Are you trying to prove you arent one? Like people who throw around gay jokes or accuse people of being gay to deflect suspicion from themselves.

    Seeing as how you are an admitted vulture er venture capitalist, it is highly probable you are indeed a sociopath. I think you talk the way you do to deflect suspicion.

  49. @Bron: I am no fan of the actions and decisions of Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, or Harry Reid; I think it is correct to say most Democrats were criminally complicit in both creating the banking fraud and the economic collapse. However, whoever you are quoting is lying by implying the Republicans and “conservatives” were any less complicit.

    The collapse was instigated by the repeal of Glass-Steagal, a banking regulation, and that bill was authored by Republicans, supported by enough Democrats to pass Congress and signed by Bill Clinton. Further erosions of banking regulation were likewise a bipartisan effort, and the lack of regulation continues to this day; the supposed new regulations are toothless, with loopholes built in, and won’t be enforced.

    The problem is not liberals, or conservatives, or Democrats, or Republicans, the problem is corruption, and specifically, corruption by corporations (banks, energy, and industrialists) with essentially unlimited funds. It is pervasive. If we stopped listening to what politicians say and started paying attention to what they actually do, and how they vote, I think 95% or more of Congress is completely beholden to lobbyists for corporations. I think the 10% approval rating of Congress (Gallup) shows some sense of that, nobody thinks they are working for us anymore.

    That is the problem, and I think that is a problem the founding fathers (FF) failed to anticipate, how to prevent wholesale corruption. The division of powers they believed would fix the problem has failed, but so would any system when a super majority of members are willing to collude to circumvent it. The FF wanted to make sure laws were passed with consensus, but what do you do when the consensus is to completely ignore the Constitution?

    Nothing in Libertarianism, liberalism or conservatism addresses the issue of how to deal with wholesale corruption. Smaller government isn’t the answer, if the government is weak that just means the corporations can implement directly what they were bribing politicians to allow when the government was strong.

  50. Tony C: “Nothing in Libertarianism, liberalism or conservatism addresses the issue of how to deal with wholesale corruption. Smaller government isn’t the answer, if the government is weak that just means the corporations can implement directly what they were bribing politicians to allow when the government was strong.”

    This nails it down, Tony C. Once I worked for a law firm whose work (very lucrative work) was about 80% representing corporations who were seeking AND GETTING “exceptions” to government regulations for various things they wanted to do that were not permitted by the regs. Then, I was just typing stuff and hardly reading it for content, because in those days there were no computers and the speed of document production was my ticket to being able to afford lawyers to try to GET me some law while the big guys spent there money on GETTING OUT OF some law.

    In retrospect I realized what that law firm (and the 200 law firms around it, geographically) were doing. All perfectly legal.

    There is no solution to this problem. It either erodes the society by making it necessary to participate in the scandal of corrupt government in the “big picture” or it destroys individuals by making it impossible to prevent the effects of that same scandal of corrupt government in the “little picture” of one or two (or twelve or twenty-seven) little lives.

  51. So, we’re talking about the five wives again.
    ===================================
    This month, many people were enthralled with a controversy in Idaho where the State Liquor Division had barred the sale of Five Wives Vodka. The division refused to allow Idahoans to buy the popular vodka because it might be offensive to the Mormon population in the state.
    ==============================================
    The Mormon population in Idaho can kiss my ass. I think that’s about it. I think the rest is best left to Professor Turley. I mean that with respect.

  52. @Bron: Seeing as how you are an admitted vulture er venture capitalist,

    I am a capitalist. In the business finance world, my roles have been “entrepreneur,” “partner,” and “startup financier,” the last means I have contributed financially to raw startups, without any commitment to work the business myself (but a significant share of the company and firm financial control).

    Venture (or vulture) capitalist is a term generally reserved for those that come in well after the startup phase, when products are already being sold and a plausible plan exists for moving forward. Unlike my five figure investments, VC will pony up six and seven figure investments, typically for 40% to 60% of the company; including the same controls I use (board membership, votes, vetoes, strict financial controls, etc).

    I do not go that route because (a) I cannot afford to do that alone, and (b) although I could put money into a fund run by VC, that requires giving up personal control and I do not enjoy the back seat, even if I could make more money by sitting there.

    You don’t have to be a sociopath to recognize a business opportunity and pursue it. In fact, I think the best generalized view of business is that the business handles somebody’s “problem” for pay, whether the problem is efficiently chopping vegetables with a hand tool, or generating enough green electricity to serve 100,000 homes in a town.

    Business, done without deception, helps people by solving their problems, relieving their worry, accomplishing their goals, and sometimes averting disaster. I was successful in business personally and in my investments because I focus on reaching those endpoints for people at a fair profit.

    employees, suppliers, investors and the community (slash environment). The business has the responsibility, in my view, of playing fairly with all five of those constituencies, and the responsibility of fair play with investors means doing all that while earning a profit.

    That is not sociopathy, that is common sense and fairness. Sociopathy is a blatant disregard for the welfare, feelings, or success of other people. I think business has to play fair with the employees, the suppliers, the investors, and the community or environment it relies on for services. That is five constituencies to satisfy, and that isn’t easy. Business is a risk. A company that cannot fairly satisfy all five should shut down before it resorts to underhandedness, fraud, or exploitation of any of them.

    That, in turn, is reason for socializing the life support functions, the social safety net that ensures food, shelter, education, unemployment benefits, health care and retirement income is not threatened: By socializing those, and ONLY those, we give people a way to try capitalism and fail honorably, and although it might be an economic setback for them, it won’t be a life ending catastrophe for them, their employees or their investors. As Norway shows us, with the highest socialism and highest entrepreneurial rate in the world, when risks are mitigated by the social safety net people will take more of them, and succeed more often, and ultimately that is better for the economy, production, and profits.

    Our disagreement is not over capitalism, competition, and profits, Bron.

  53. Tony,

    An excellent clarification of the fact that one can believe in a social safety net and still function as a capitalist. The oft-repeated notion that it is one or the other is ridiculous.

  54. id707,

    I bet you’re talking about Aglianico del Vulture wines (grape) which I tried last month and thoroughly enjoyed … only $13 a bottle. I have the winery written down but the list is in my truck which is in the shop for an oil change.

    I think the region is down by the Boot … Mt. Vulture.

  55. Tony C,

    I agree with everything you say. But business won’t play fairly. I’m sorry, but that’s like asking a fish not to swim.

    The situation will resolve itself when it does. You have the best intentions. But some of your earlier postings are absolutely correct.

  56. “….the happiest citizens in the world are citizens of socialist countries with top income taxes over 50%, and even most of the people earning over a million a year in those societies, when surveyed, claim they support socialism and it HELPS their business.”

    Another factor in their happiness is the relatively small income gap between the worker and the boss. The differences in taxes are small because the differences in income are small. There is still a 1% vs 99% but the gap is far less than here where the gap is staggering.

  57. @Matt: But business won’t play fairly.

    Hence the need to regulation of business, to make playing fairly its best option in its own self interest.

    And it isn’t like asking a fish not to swim. I and many others already do it entirely voluntarily. We have lost competitions and won them, but on the whole come out ahead without regrets.

    Businesses serve customers, in a sense they are employed by customers. Saying it is impossible for a business to play fairly is like saying it is impossible for an employee to work for somebody without stealing from them.

    It isn’t true. The vast majority of us work our entire lives without stealing anything from our employers, customers, employees, or anybody else, without deceiving people, and also without exploiting someone’s ignorance, gullibility, misfortune, pain, fear or desperation for personal gain. To me those are the elements of fairness. You may define the word differently.

  58. Blouise,
    Thanks for correcting my memory. Right spot also for
    Calabria or Basilicata origin. Great price. Pay double here. Thankful for the name. We can self-import here. Was if very rich in taste?

  59. Tony,

    You talk a great game.

    Questions:
    How does an honest capitalist keep “clean” and compete with the crooks?
    How come business has shown itself to quite openly violate your principles.
    In other words, why are they so few like you?

    Now we go from the particular to the general. And it is the general that effects most of us.

    Great stats about Norway, but they have oodles of oil money, and are mandated to invest it. Not save it.
    Any idea where they do it? Not in fishing whales for meat.
    Not very tasty I thought.

    Thanks anyway, you know from earlier you have my support.

  60. Idealist,

    “You’re the challenger. I named no specifics, and won’t now. ”

    So I’m trying to figure things out here.

    I mean, you start off by making vague statements about how not having state run liquor stores will lead to things like human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, and mass hysteria. Just that, vague statements. Then when I dare to challenge you you complain that I need statistics or my point isn’t valid. Which is a reasonable criticism. Or rather WOULD be a reasonable criticism if you had offered anything but vague and dark prophecy accompanied by lots of hand waving and stage banter. Since you didn’t, it just smells like a way for you to try and dismiss contrary opinions without giving them consideration.

    So, let’s try this again:

    Do you think the state should run liquor stores? If so why?

  61. Everyone else,

    Grappa’s a bit like fly fishing, because the people who love it LOVE it, and everyone else sort of scratches their head.

  62. @Idealist: How does an honest capitalist keep “clean” and compete with the crooks?

    Sometimes, by offering something the crooks cannot beat (like features or capability in a product, accuracy, etc), or are unwilling to beat (like a guarantee, price, on site service within three hours, etc). I have done all of those things.

    Besides that, crooks are crooks, they rip people off by definition, and that makes people embrace alternatives even if they know nothing about the alternatives.

    Sometimes, you cannot beat the crook. Ask any of the many thousands of small town shops put out of business by Walmart. So: Pick your battles, the point is to earn a profit, not make a moral point.

    How come business has shown itself to quite openly violate your principles.

    It hasn’t, only big business has done that, and the reason for that is there is a LOT of money in big business, and large piles of money attract sociopaths like flies, and the sociopaths rise to the top of the heap and act lilke sociopaths. Big Business also demonstrates a real psychological effect in humans; that the more layers of command there are, the more effectively sociopathic the leaders of an organization become. When you do not have to see the suffering your decisions cause, it becomes easier to make a decision to cause suffering. Especially if you are then praised for making a “tough decision.”

    In other words, why are they so few like you?

    There aren’t that few, I don’t think, we just aren’t newsworthy. You aren’t going to see any headlines like, “Bobby’s Bistro Keeps a Spotlessly Food Safe Kitchen! Waiters Love Bobby’s College-Friendly Work Scheduling!”

    Great stats about Norway, but they have oodles of oil money, and are mandated to invest it.

    Norway was socialist before the oil, and their social programs are supported by payroll and wealth taxes. The oil money is invested, and none of that capital is allowed to be used for social programs. I believe the law in Norway is that only the interest can be used, after an allowance for inflation, on the grounds that this is sustainable even after the oil is gone. I read something a year or two ago that said 90% of the social programs were supported by taxes, only 10% of the program was being supported by interest on the sovereign wealth fund (oil money).

    People that mistakenly think Norway’s oil wealth is what permits its socialist programs have missed the point, they still have the mindset that these programs are a “cost” and not an “investment,” which is what they really are.

    Most countries are founded around some sort of natural resource, but if a country has nothing else it has people that can work and add value to something. The social safety net systems are an investment, not a cost, they minimize desperation and maximize personal freedom, ambition, and potential. In the USA, we would probably have twice as many doctors as we currently have if every child that wanted to BE a doctor knew that money was not an issue in that quest and would not be. Or an engineer, or computer scientist, or chemist, professor, teacher, cellist or chef.

    Maximizing human potential leads to people living lives that satisfy them, instead of cubicle drudgery at 30% of their potential productivity. The social programs also minimize poverty, desperation and life dissatisfaction, the primary drivers of crime and destructive drug abuse.

    I believe in regulated capitalism with a social safety net supported by taxes. I also believe in socialization (to reduce costs and eliminate profit-driven safety risks) of roads, water, sewage, and garbage collection and disposal. Also food and drug inspection, product safety inspection, building inspection, etc.

  63. “Keep fishing. I ain’t biting.”

    Believe it or not, the only thing I’m trying to catch is a discussion about the goals and effectiveness of various approaches to regulating the sale ofalcohol. You know, the topic of JTs post.

  64. TonyC,

    You’re so good, I think folks think I am the planted questioner at a Romney “shirt meets folks” meeting. The ones he thanks for the question.

    While I did not ask it, that was a good point about oil money not being used in significant amount to support social welfare. I know too little about our Nordic neighbors.

    But I was referring to that the oil money is
    being actively invested as a measure against future uncertainties.

    I should check the tax rates (Norway vs Sweden) to see who’s most effective. We got cheaper meat and alcohol, but our nurses get better paid there.

    So in summary, it is big business that is the problem. Well, can see that Joe’s garage does not have much pull.
    So that leaves my favorite bad guys: Monsanto and Dow.

  65. “Which outer banks? Carolina? Heard of Ocean City? Niece was invited for a sail on large catamaran there over the weekend. Too much wind. 27 knots registered, if it is to be believed.”

    Idealist, yeah, NC.

    And yeah, it’s hard not to hear of OC if you live in MD. Too many people for me, though. But 27 knots is a lot for windspeed, even, in OC.

  66. Tony C.,

    That summation you prepared for Bron went down like an ice cold glass of purified water.

    Excellent work.

  67. @Idealist: So in summary, it is big business that is the problem.

    Businesses are focused on profits. That’s fine if your LLC is earning around one million in profits every year; your income taxes are around $250K, your take home is around $750K.

    Exxon earned 41,000 million dollars in 2011. I am phrasing it that way for the contrast; their taxes, at 25%, would be around $10,000 million dollars. That isn’t what they pay (in 2009 they famously paid zero dollars in income tax).

    Exxon formally pays half that in income tax, and gets half of that back in tax breaks and subsidies. So Exxon saves, compared to your LLC, about 75% of their taxes, for them $7,500 million dollars. Why is that?

    Because at the Exxon scale, you have to look at the trade offs. Exxon pays less taxes because of the tax law, which has been mysteriously written as if their best friends sat at a bar with them drinking and asked them what they would be allowed to put in it, along with clever ways of making it look like Exxon is paying its taxes when the money is going to boomerang back at them. Drinks and Chili Fries courtesy of Exxon.

    More specifically, this country and its tax laws and stance toward Exxon are under the control of about 100 key politicians. So for Exxon, it is cheaper for them to lavish millions of dollars a year on EACH of those key politicians, by hook, crook, indirection or an army of lobbyists, than to pay an extra $7,500 million dollars in taxes every year. What does it cost them, $500 million? Small change compared to what they save.

    The problem is a matter of scale, and as humans we tend to have scale blindness. At the scale of the Fortune 100, or the Dow Jones companies, or Koch Industries, massive bribery is cheaper than taxes. It is cheaper to BUY the government (or the Chairmen, Committee heads and key members) than to be subject to it.

    Most people really do have a price, most elections really are close enough that they can be bought. When an election cannot be plausibly bought, the politicians are retired by their corporations to cushy jobs with big salaries and no defined duties: For example, Chris Dodd recently retired to a $1.5M a year job as “President” and lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America. After his services to the banking industry, they got a bargain, and will happily keep him there as long as he wishes to stay, as a grinning exemplar for the next politician Chris Dodd himself chats up for lunch.

    I know it sounds cliche, but yes, big business really is the problem; at a certain scale corrupting the government to let you circumvent the law (while preserving deniability behind brigades of lawyers) makes cold, hard economic sense.

  68. “The problem is a matter of scale, and as humans we tend to have scale blindness.”

    A true problem I see no easy way to correct, Tony. You can’t educate away the tendency to scale blindness. You can mitigate it, but you can’t eliminate it has been by experience.

    Great summary of the nature of the campaign finance/graft problem, by the way.

  69. TonyC.

    God forbid I suggest anything to you, but the round would be complete with chapters on government and regulation, or whatever strikes your fantasy. Of course the invite comes because of your fine work.

    Just to make the LLCs hpppy with there take home of 75 percent /750,000 on one million), can say it would be less here. But I’m famiiliar with the personal income scales here, not those for the equivalent to LLC.

    Industry subsidies have disappeared here after their failure fitst to the textile trade and then the

  70. Tony C. 1, June 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    @Matt: But business won’t play fairly.

    Hence the need to regulation of business, to make playing fairly its best option in its own self interest.
    =======================
    Well done. Enron, etc., etc., etc.

  71. Jacob,

    When the Washington initiative first came up for debate, my friends and I in Portland, Oregon envisioned crossing the border to shop for liquor. In fact, the opposite has occurred: Consumers in privatized Washington are coming to state-controlled Oregon to buy their booze.
    ==========================================
    Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax. Washington people near the Oregon border do a lot of shopping in Oregon. They’re supposed to pay Washington sales and use tax for the products they buy in Oregon, but that doesn’t mean they do.

  72. Tony C:

    Norway is not a good model because we will never drill for oil to the extent they do. Socialism would not work in Norway without oil money.

    We limit growth in this country for whatever reason and it prevents a robust economy. One which could provide a social safety net for people who actually need the soft landing.

    But I do agree business needs to be transparent, operate with integrity and treat employees fairly, which is usually the result of a robust economy. It is also rational self interest to do those things, look at Enron and other companies which do not act with integrity, look at Bernie Madoff. Rational self interest is not the same thing as egotism. Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff were certainly not employing rational self interest, one is dead and the other is in jail for life.

    To provide for a social safety net you must first have an healthy economy. The current economic philosophy [both liberal and conservative but more liberal] is not providing for the growth needed to expand the economy to the necessary levels to provide jobs and to provide a healthy tax base to fund government without borrowing money from China. Which is most certainly not in our rational or national self interest.

  73. @Bron: Norway was socialist before they sold oil, and it worked. Norway does not rely on oil revenues AT ALL to fund their social programs, they rely on payroll and wealth taxes. You are factually incorrect. And as I said, every country has something to sell, even if what it has is basically human Labor that adds value to something. In high school, I had no property to sell to pay my rent or buy my food. I was like a country without natural resources, I had nothing of value to extract or sell. But I had 30 spare hours of labor a week, and I added value to dirty dishes by turning them into clean dishes.

    It is also rational self interest to do those things,

    No, it isn’t, unless you intend to redefine “rational self interest” to include self-immolation. When a business owner faces personal bankruptcy, sometimes they can escape that fate by cutting corners on safety, reliability, and quality. Those things might bite them in the ass later, that is a risk, but not as immediate a risk as their bankruptcy next month if they do NOT find a way to save money starting immediately.

    Alternatively, some owners, facing slow sales due to new competition will cut costs on safety, cleaning, disinfecting, etc, and when they find out that has probably caused sickness or death, will do everything they can to conceal their acts. Honesty and openness in that case is going to lead to liability, possible criminal charges of negligent manslaughter, and probable bankruptcy. If you define “rational self interest” to include admitting culpability in that case, then your definition covers all possible acts and means nothing, because it does not distinguish between acts that are and are not in somebody’s “rational self interest.”

    Finally, capitalism is not predicated on a “robust economy,” capitalism is supposed to CREATE the economy. The entire paradigm of capitalism is to let people take the risk of failure in order to enjoy the rewards of success, but failure and competition are an inherent part of the system. No matter how robust the economy is, it isn’t going to save 200 pizza joints in a city that has a pizza demand that will only support 150 pizza joints. The worst tasting, worst service, worst managed pizza joints will be starved of business and die, that is how capitalism is supposed to work.

    The problem is that, unlike kids soccer, the losers don’t shake hands, accept defeat and walk away, because their livelihood is on the line, a hundred thousand dollar investment is on the line, their house, retirement, and perhaps health insurance and child’s education is on the line.

    Desperation leads to immorality; people are often honest, open and moral right up until panicked self-preservation seizes their brain. Then, all of a sudden, endangering choices start to look like “risky ideas” versus “certain catastrophe.”

    If you want capitalism, you have to accept that a LOT of business attempts will fail. Once you accept that (as I do) then you have to accept that imminent failure is going to create a highly charged, emotional environment in which long term thinking is thrown out the window; business owners start thinking literally to survive week-to-week or even day-to-day.

    Between that, and other owners that are just ignorant, or naturally careless or sloppy or unsanitary when the public can’t see them, or would tell blatant lies to protect their own hide, the only way you can permit capitalism without endangering the lives and health of consumers is to have mandatory inspections, regulations, and licensing.

  74. It just goes to show you people don’t really like to pay taxes and will go out of there way not to. They are forced to by a wide variety of tactics. I wish we could do a test of the various things government does and have people allocate what services they really want based on a percentage of income tax they have to pay. It would force government to really sell the majority on the stuff they do.

  75. How effective is the market at regulating the quality and price of products. Can consumers stop companies from polluting our water and air by filing lawsuits. Can we boycot companies that kill whales or send donations to Sea Shepards to help them with the fight.

  76. Corporatism or Crony Capitalism, as people are calling the economic and social results of fascism on business is a very complex issue, starting with everything from the fiat currency and central banking system we use to the legal benefits of incorporation. There is an economy of scale issue that allows multinationals to out compete small business in a fascist environment. It not quite as simple as you are suggesting Tony.

  77. @Skip: I presume you want my definition, since you could look up the standard one yourself.

    For me, a “regulation” is a clear rule that prevents probable harm to somebody, it either prohibits or requires something be done. Sometimes that thing is just disclosure of information, or a requirement to keep track of some information, sometimes it is a physical precaution, or a test. A “regulation” will also provide a clear penalty for failure to follow it; such as a fine, a revocation of license or permission to engage in that business anymore, a prison term, notification of those that may have been harmed, etc.

    A regulation is set by an authorized rule-making body; so if that is a legislature it is also a law, but the rule-making body may have been delegated authority by a legislature to make sensible rules in an area outside the expertise of regular citizens serving in a legislature, so they are similar to laws but the punitive power of the rule-making body may be limited, for example to fines, notices, and license revocation.

    It is different from a “right,” and different from a “guideline.”

  78. That is a very untrue statement. People in Cuba are not happy. The so-called happiness Index noted that the wealthier countries were happiest. Socialism has noting to do with it. Poorer countries not so happy. Countries are in many ways quite different and comparing apples to oranges creates an obvious poor result. Socialism has destroyed every society over time and by generally the same reasons, bankrupcy or civil unrest or both. Just wait to see what’s next in this country. What till the $USD collapses and tell me how well fascism is really working. Most countries are not really that socialistic, generally more fascist which is defined as the use of taxation and regulation to control the means of production.

  79. @Skip: It not quite as simple as you are suggesting Tony.

    I am not suggesting it is simple. You are doing that, by calling it “fascism,” a loaded word if ever there was one, considering the association it has with probably the most brutal crimes in history. Comparing what is wrong with us now to what was wrong with Hitler is like comparing shoplifting a candy bar to an armed bank robbery. Yes, those are both theft, and … that’s it, comparison over.

  80. Gene, At what level does it turn from being a social safety net to full blown fascism or totalitarianism. We’re seeing just over the last 40 years how much more aggressive government is getting both in taxation and regulation, which is causing business to either leave of fold. There a jobs probelm because they’re a business problem.

  81. Your loaded question contains a false equivalence (two to be precise).

    Social safety nets are not the same thing as either of those forms of government.

    Try again, skip.

  82. @Skip: The problem isn’t regulation, the problem is sociopathy. The flight of jobs overseas is to places where no job safety is enforced, no limitations on beating workers, exposing them to carcinogens, or demanding they work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, forcing them to live in company quarters, or many other such things. All of that stuff happens in both China and India, btw.

    The problem is the sociopathy of large manufacturers, when they can get away with mistreating employees they do, when they can get away with putting employees in lethal working conditions, they do. In the USA, we have outlawed such practices, and that costs money. The 40 hour work week, social security and medicare, OSHA and all the other employment laws cost money.

    The reason jobs are flying overseas is because, as always, the closer a company can approximate slavery, the lower their costs are. Calling for an end to our labor laws is calling for a better approximation of slavery.

    The correct solution is to prevent the companies, in one way or another, from making a profit on such blatant exploitation, or to prevent them from selling such goods produced by slavery or near-slavery in the USA.

    The reason that solution is not implemented is because of government corruption by the corporations that earn billions of dollars in profit by doing it. The problem is sociopathy, not regulation. The regulations and taxes SHOULD be there, it is the sociopathic circumvention of those protections that is causing the economic problems.

  83. Tony, your only targeting those companies that moved. How many businesses that just went into bankrupcy and died. We are over taxed and over regulated but we should surely discuss what we both believe regulation should be how how best to do it.

  84. Tony C:

    “Norway was socialist before they sold oil, and it worked. Norway does not rely on oil revenues AT ALL to fund their social programs, they rely on payroll and wealth taxes. You are factually incorrect.”

    Money from oil is used for things which tax money doesnt have to be used for. If I have an annuity which pays $50,000/year and a job which pays $30,000 per year, it is rather disingenuous to say I pay my living expenses with my job. The 2 funds are commingled even if I put them in separate accounts and only use the $50,000 for fun and travel.

    Or at least that is how I look at it in regards to Norway.

  85. @Skip: The so-called happiness Index noted that the wealthier countries were happiest.

    And FAILED to note that the wealthiest countries were also the most socialist. You ignore that because you think socialism is a COST when it is actually an INVESTMENT that pays dividends in happiness, productivity and increased wealth.

    Because an ounce of prevention (of poverty, desperation, illness, disability) is worth a pound of cure.

    The value in the articles is not the opinions of a biased author, it is the facts and data provided. The selection by the author of “wealth” as the distinguishing characteristic is arbitrary; socialist safety-net countries with capitalistic economies end up wealthy and happy, but the reverse is not true; wealth alone does not make happy citizens.

  86. Tony C:

    The economic philosophy in vogue is what I was talking about. Since we live in a regulated market Washington is a partner and has a good deal to do with the level economic prosperity or lack there of.

  87. hskiprob
    1, June 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm
    Gene, At what level does it turn from being a social safety net to full blown fascism or totalitarianism. We’re seeing just over the last 40 years how much more aggressive government is getting both in taxation and regulation, which is causing business to either leave of fold. There a jobs probelm because they’re a business problem.

    100 Gene H.
    1, June 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm
    Your loaded question contains a false equivalence (two to be precise).

    Social safety nets are not the same thing as either of those forms of government.

    Try again, skip.

    ===<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>=========

    what Harry Skip is saying is that totalitarian governments clamp down on industry and limit growth. Tax revenues are reduced and there is less money for social safety nets.

    And that is the big problem as I see it with liberals, they want to control, to a point beyond necessity, our economy and by doing so limit expansion which limits tax revenue and increases debt if you want to keep a certain life style.

    Capitalism is such a huge creator of wealth that if the market were left to its own devices with limited regulations, there would be more than enough for all.

    And that is what Harry Skip is saying.

    It is sad that many people are kept poor or struggling because some government numb nut thinks they have all the answers to how to run an economy.

    real wages for workers doubled in the 19th century, we cannot say that about the 20th century. A donut and a cup of coffee in 1924 adjusted for inflation is about what it costs today. In 1890 it would have been 1/2 of what it cost in 1824.

  88. Tony, Generalized statements like that are really stupid. Andora is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and one of the most free market. Hong Kong is perhaps the wealthiest per capita, per sq mile nation in the world and they have no natural resources. A large majority of people retire as milllionairs and it is a very free market society. Probably less so since being turned over the China. Speaking of China, they are freeing up their markets and what is happening to them TONY?????? Stop generalizing and comparing apples to oranges. There are poor in our country that are unhappy and rich that are happy. Only a socialist would even try to compare countries based on some arbitray happiness index.

  89. @Bron: Then you look at it wrong. Norway doesn’t use oil revenue, they use the RETURNS on the oil revenue. The revenue is a natural resource converted to cash, and the principle is not touched. Saying they are living off of “oil revenue” is a lie, because it implies if they run out of oil the party is over. That isn’t true; Norway has done the sensible thing with a limited resource, they are converting it to cash and an inexhaustible supply of earnings, and utilizing only the earnings in excess of inflation.

    Here is an analogy: Say my nephew wants to start a business resurfacing parking lots, and I help him with the plan, and he needs $35K for the used equipment it would take to get started. If I put up that $35K from my stash of consultancy earnings, and his business works and starts paying me $8K a year as my share of the profits, it is ridiculous to claim that $8K per year is me living off my consultancy revenue. It isn’t at all. It makes no difference where the $35K came from. I came by it honestly, I am earning that money by repairing, resurfacing, and restriping parking lots.

    The same goes for Norway and its oil, it sold oil, it took the money and invested it in businesses, and the profits those businesses throw off are now income to Norway to do with as it pleases. It is business profits, not oil profits. Properly managed it can theoretically last forever, unlike the oil. Same analogy: My $8K per year from servicing parking lots may continue indefinitely (and will track inflation); the $35K I put in to launch the business would last less than five years at that rate.

  90. @Skip: Only a socialist would even try to compare countries based on some arbitray happiness index.

    First, it isn’t arbitrary, it is based upon several questions put to the citizens of those countries reporting their level of happiness and satisfaction with their lives. So that part of your statement is equivalent to saying, “Who are you going to believe, Tony? Me telling you they must be unhappy, or them?”

    Second, “Only a socialist” tries to denigrate and marginalize socialists, which just goes to show that you prejudge the outcome regardless of evidence, which means your opinions are not evidence or logic based at all and your arguments are meaningless, they are all devised to come to the same predetermined conclusion: “Socialism bad! Anarchy good!”

    Third, if only a socialist would do that, you must be a socialist, because you were trying to use the SAME happiness index to justify happiness being due to WEALTH, before I kicked that silly argument to the curb.

    As for what is happening to China? It is making money by enslaving its people. The women working fourteen hour days in the factories, most do not even get to keep their own paycheck, it is given or sent to their husbands or fathers or the elder male in their family for “safekeeping”.

    Skip, you cannot help but betray yourself as a sociopath at every turn. Your sociopathic system that cares about nothing but profit does not work in any way we are interested in seeing, we Normals do not think everything boils down to money. We Normals really do think some things are more important than money. You don’t, and that is why you hate our laws and regulations, why that doesn’t make sense to you, because you are a sociopath, and one of the dumb ones.

  91. @Bron: It is sad that many people are kept poor or struggling because some government numb nut thinks they have all the answers to how to run an economy.

    Have I mentioned that Norway has one of the lowest poverty rates in the world, and that nobody in the entire society ever has to “struggle?”

    Isn’t it your philosophy that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat?” Isn’t it your philosophy that everything boils down to money, if you cannot pay for medical care you don’t get it, if you cannot pay for school you don’t get to go, if you cannot pay for fire protection you don’t get it, if you cannot pay for food you don’t eat, if you cannot pay for shelter you can damn well freeze in the snow?

    That is not the philosophy in a socialist country, Bron. Norwegians eat whether they work or not, education is free, minimum shelter is subsidized, health care is free, police and fire protection is free.

    Nobody is kept poor or struggles in Norway, they have had their governmental system for a hundred years, people have been born, lived a good life, and died of old age under their system, without ever struggling.

    If the above statement is your measure of good government, that nobody is kept poor or struggling, then life-support-socialism is the government for you. It is working right now, for over a century, for millions of people, in a country near you.

  92. Bron,

    “what Harry Skip is saying is that totalitarian governments clamp down on industry and limit growth. Tax revenues are reduced and there is less money for social safety nets.”

    That’s not what totalitarianism means either. Totalitarianism consists of a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures. If they don’t have enough tax revenues to pay for social services (which, btw, are rarely at the top of the agenda in a totalitarian state, the top item in most totalitarian regimes is feeding as much resources as they can steal to the dictator or oligarchy on top) then they simply take what they want at the end of a gun barrel and use it how they see fit – no taxation required. That’s how totalitarians roll.

    What skip was saying was simply a (double) false equivalence. No amount of rationalization will change that.

    Social safety nets of some sort are characteristic of any form of government except for anarchist forms. They are part and parcel of the mutually derived benefit of the social compact. For example, while it may not seem on the surface to be a social safety net, what is common defense? A mechanism of protecting a society from outsider aggression. What are programs to feed the hungry? A mechanism for protecting society from the negative health consequences and social strife created by famine. Both are social safety nets, one is just highly specialized and usually recognized as a function of government in its own right. There is no point at which social safety nets “become” a form of government. That’s nonsensical. Social safety nets are a function of most forms of government; a component, not the whole.

  93. Nothing to add to this discussion, just wanted to thank the commentors on here. It’s been educational, to say the least! :)

  94. Tony C:

    “Then you look at it wrong. Norway doesn’t use oil revenue, they use the RETURNS on the oil revenue. The revenue is a natural resource converted to cash, and the principle is not touched. Saying they are living off of “oil revenue” is a lie, because it implies if they run out of oil the party is over. That isn’t true; Norway has done the sensible thing with a limited resource, they are converting it to cash and an inexhaustible supply of earnings, and utilizing only the earnings in excess of inflation.”

    What makes the investment income possible? Oil revenue, they are living on oil revenues. Just like the Kennedys are living on the efforts of old Pappa Joe Kennedy.

    Oil made it all possible. If there was no oil there would not be the same level of economic security.

  95. If you did not make the $35k from your consultancy you would not be able to enjoy an $8k per year return. The $8k came from your consultancy income which you invested in your nephew’s venture. You put your money to work for you. The $8k per year had a cause, your $35k and your nephew’s ability to make a profit but the $35k from your consultancy income made it all possible. Your nephew could be the Cornelius Vanderbilt of black-toppers but if he couldnt get that $35k it really doesnt matter what he could do.

  96. Gene H:

    I think we can safely say that Nazi Germany was a totalitarian government so was Soviet Russia. They had a social safety net.

    There is a spectrum of totalitarianism with North Korea on the extreme end.

    1a : of or relating to centralized control by an autocratic leader or hierarchy : authoritarian, dictatorial; especially : despotic

    b : of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures (as censorship and terrorism)

    2a : advocating or characteristic of totalitarianism

    b : completely regulated by the state especially as an aid to national mobilization in an emergency

    c : exercising autocratic powers

    There is a good deal of latitude within that definition supplied by Merriam Websters on-line free dictionary. The state could range from North Korea to a paternalistic socialist country. It says especially it does not say exclusively.

  97. Bron,

    Did you not understand what I said in the slightest how governments work in relation to providing social services?

    Apparently so. That whole “learning” thing still isn’t working out so well for you.

    However, that isn’t going to stop you from trying to make the exact same false equivalence that skippy was trying to make, now is it?

    All forms of government except for anarchistic forms provide some form of social safety nets.

    Period. End of story.

    Not just totalitarian states, but almost every form of government including democracies provides social safety nets in one form or another.

    That is, every form of government except the anarchistic forms – like Libertarianism.

    Enjoy your false equivalence.

  98. @Bron: If you trace things back far enough, we are all living off the stolen goods acquired by the outright murder (and slavery) of others; every single one of us. In America we took the land from the original inhabitants, and they were warring tribes that took their territories from each other.

    That is a ludicrous viewpoint. Money is money. In the case of Norway, you are simply wrong, you are denying the fact that before oil they were using taxes to support socialism.

    In fact, the natural resource they were exploiting is fishery; since fishery held the country together and allowed it to be defended, by your silly rules even having the oil is a direct result of fishery revenues. Russia’s oil is a result of forestry revenues. By your infinite-trace rules, all wealth everywhere is a result of hunting and gathering revenues, and contrary to your OWN Objectivist philosophy, those rules completely ignore the value added by human sweat and labor.

    You are being ridiculous; Norway would be socialist whether they had oil or not, because they were socialist both before and after (1969, when oil was discovered in the North Sea). Your entire argument is that you think they would not exist as socialists without some kind of free money from oil. But Norway was a socialist country for 150 years before they had oil, and that disproves your argument. You are wrong, the socialized safety net is not dependent upon found wealth in any way. That is lucky if you have it, but a socialized safety net can exist just fine based upon value-adding labor alone, which is how it existed in Norway for 150 years before oil was found.

  99. tONY c:

    “In the case of Norway, you are simply wrong, you are denying the fact that before oil they were using taxes to support socialism.”

    All I am saying is they are living well today because of oil profits. Not because of government social safety nets.

    The direct cause of your nephew’s ability to provide you with $8k per year is your $35k consultancy fee.

  100. @Bron: No, they do not, and NO, it isn’t.

    The direct cause of my nephew’s success is my nephew’s idea and attention to recognize an opportunity when he saw it, and do the work (for free) to develop it and turn it into an actionable plan instead of an idle dream. My money was incidental, if I were too stupid to fund it, I am sure the guy I sent him to would not have been.

    I would say the direct cause of ME getting that $8K a year is that I was approached first, and the direct cause of that is my nephew’s knowledge that he can trust me to not screw him or take an unfair share.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with where the money came from. I really doubt you will ever understand anything, Bron, and as a result you will live your pointless life convinced or bullshit that isn’t true. It must really suck to be you.

  101. @Bron: As for Norway, Saudi Arabians and many others have FAR more oil wealth than Norway does, so did Iraq at one time, and you didn’t see THEM on the happiest country list.

    Norway lives well precisely because they have the right combination of socialist-safety-net that maximizes their capitalist opporutunities, no matter what the source of their wealth. The current budgetary constraint for Norwegian oil, based on the earnings of the fund, is that no more than 4% of the fund can be used for governmental programs of any kind.

    That is hardly the cause of them “living well.” Wealth for a country does not make citizens happy unless it is shared and typical of common citizens. Insurances and certainty make people happy, and a socialist life support safety net delivers that best.

  102. Everyone embraces free markets when the government becomes a hindrance to their efforts to get intoxicated. Nice to see that realization finally coming around to prof turley.

    Now is he prepared to embrace that logic for all chemicals that people freely choose to put into their bodies or is his position on alchohol hypocritical?

  103. Tony C:

    the cause of the $8k per year is the money lent to your nephew. No matter who earns $8k or who provided the $35k. You were lucky enough to be the one to whom your nephew turned for the funds.

    If your nephew didnt need the $35k then there is no need to pay it back.

    My pointless life is mine. And at least I understand that concept.

  104. I think Skippy and Bron are both sociopaths. The other guys are better able to deal with this than I am.

  105. @Matt Johnson – A libertarian by philosphy is not a sociopath as most of the entire are willing to make take substancial risks in the attempt to minimize the corruption of government so that everyone will be less oppressed by the various usurpations of individual rights. We care just a much about our country as you, we just think your method doesn’t work very well. Don’t get me wrong, I do want liberty, which is the cool thing. If I pervail say in a court hearing while trying to protect an individual right, so does everyone. If the protections of individual rights would be embarced by everyone, it would literally change the world. We would eliminate pure “waste” somewhere in the realm of 33% of the social expences of our society, because that is how inefficient and wasteful government is at doing things. There would be a better distribution of wealth as the majority would not have their wealth constantly confiscated by government. The wealthly would not be able to manipulate the government into providing themselves with the enormous benefits they recieve such as business welfare and $multimillion contracts. I can go on with the list of benefits minimal government and free enterprise promotes, but that should not be necessary. You should already know what they are as you are constantly buying things produces by the private sector and trade on a constant basis.

    Let’s take the health care issue being entertained by the Supreme Court. Manditory healthcare usurps the involuntary servitude clause as well as Article IX. What they are trying to do is force the younger people who don’t generally need much healthcare within the workforce to help support the the older people in society that do. We’ve WRONGFULLY PROMISED the older folks way to much and now we can’t fiqure our a way to pay for it. So let’s force people to pay for it even though it will put a bunch more people out of business. We’ve been doing that for 45 years and we all have seen what the ramifications are.

    We do not need these levels of taxation and regulation as it has bankrupted a huge percentages of our society. From what I understand approximately 40% of our society is literally insolvent so what ever we are doiung we need to stop and it is going to take huge changes to do it.

    I don’t here any significant ideas coming out of your side.

  106. Tony C:

    I have thought some about your chastisement of me for saying if you dont work you shouldnt eat. Lets examine what you are implying by saying the contrary.

    All animals in nature must “work” for a living or they die, they must hunt or they must gather fruits and berries and nuts. They must, by nature, expend most of their energy finding food to keep them alive to be able to reproduce and continue the species. It is axiomatic in nature that if you dont find food you die.

    Death is not a good thing because all normal, healthy living beings go to great length to sustain their lives. So we can say that life is the highest good to a normal healthy living entity. And all healthy living creatures want to stay alive.

    In the case of man, work is our way of foraging and hunting, we go to work for the sole purpose of putting food on the table to sustain our lives just as animals hunt or forage for theirs. We do this to continue our lives which we consider a good, at least to us as individuals, if we are healthy. So work must be a good because it keeps us alive.

    [I am not talking about people who cannot work because of mental or physical disabilities, we as humans should provide for those people.]

    But people who can work and dont work and choose instead to live off the efforts of other people do not value their lives. If they did value their lives they would work and if we valued their lives we would tell them no food unless you work which is what all animals must do to live. It is the natural order. It is what living beings must do. It is what man must do to value himself.

    Self esteem is not conferred on someone by parents telling them how great they are, self esteem is earned by working hard and by becoming good at something, by learning a job to the best of your ability and by working to the best of your ability. Whether you dig ditches or are the head of a national construction company excellence in what you do should be your goal. Excellence in any work endeavor allows you to make more money which allows you to put food on the table and to pay for pleasures which are also a good.

    So I would say that wanting to feed men who dont work because they simply dont want to is disregarding their humanity and keeping them ill equipped to deal with life. You are teaching them subservience and turning them into sub-humans. In short you are denigrating human life and do not consider it a value worth working for.

    I might also add that the only animals who dont really do anything and who are sustained by us are those we use for food.

    You consider men to be pigs, nothing but subservient pigs to be used as you think best.

  107. @Bron:

    So we can say that life is the highest good to a normal healthy living entity.

    On the contrary, the vast majority of people believe that those that sacrifice their life in the service of others have achieved the greatest good. A fireman that saves a child, or even dies in an unsuccessful attempt to save a child, is hailed as a hero, to be remembered, to be memorialized. A man that works two full time jobs to provide for his family is considered a hero for sacrificing his own interests for somebody else. Mother Theresa is hailed as a hero, police that die in the line of duty are hailed as heroes (and criminals that die in the pursuit of selfish interests are considered to have gotten what they deserve). It is those that suffer pain and death in order to save others, or save others from pain and death, that are hailed by the vast majority of people across the world as having achieved the greatest good, of having done the most with their lives, and are admired and held up as brave heroes and role models and martyrs worthy of remembrance.

    In war, when somebody preserves their own life at the expense of others, we call that cowardice, traitorous, and sometimes worthy of punishment by summary execution.

    The simple fact is that in human psychology, considering your OWN life more important than the lives of others is disdained as selfishness, cowardice, and vaguely (or actually) criminal and worthy of punishment or shunning.

    By that simple fact, your Aynish argument falls apart. To a NORMAL healthy human being, selfishness and self-preservation is an understandable and often forgiveable flaw, but the highest good is self-less bravery, it is doing the right thing by others regardless of the consequences to one’s own life, well-being, or fortunes.

  108. @Bron: But people who can work and dont work and choose instead to live off the efforts of other people do not value their lives.

    What utter crap. Are you redefining the meaning of “value their lives?” Do you think they would not mind being killed? WTF are you talking about?

    You make the mistake of thinking that there are hordes of people out there that would truly be satisified with minimal life support. The socialist agenda is not to coddle anybody, it is to provide basic food, shelter, protection, and medical care for those that have none. When I was in the military, I lived fine for an extended periood of time in which “my” space amounted to about 40 square feet plus a public shower and restroom.

    2000 calories a day a multi-vitamin and a safe bed and closet with health care is not what the vast majority of people aspire to; if people CAN work they typically WANT to work. You are the one that underestimates humanity. I have no desire to coddle anybody, my desire is to provide the basic life support system and free education so nobody is crippled by lack of opportunity from the start.

    As for the tiny percentage of people (under 3% by Norway’s stats, and that includes the physically and mentally disabled) that would really stop working altogether, I am not worried, it is a small tax to pay. In the USA if you want to do that, commit enough minor non-violent crimes and end up in prison; same difference, plus TV. Why spend $60,000 a year on those people, plus the cost to citizens of the crimes they commit, when we could spend $10,000?

    There are not hordes of people that could work and do not want to work, there are, however, many people that want to work and cannot, because there just are not enough jobs in their region, and the cost to them of moving to some other region is more than they can afford, and more than we as a society can afford.

    You are the one treating people like animals or slaves, without any regard for their emotions or well-being you would subject them to torture, desperation, starvation, catastrophic illness that could have been prevented or cured, and separation from everything they know, all so you can save a selfish buck. You are a sociopathic monster.

  109. “On the contrary, the vast majority of people believe that those that sacrifice their life in the service of others have achieved the greatest good. A fireman that saves a child, or even dies in an unsuccessful attempt to save a child, is hailed as a hero, to be remembered, to be memorialized. ”

    Not on the contrary, the fireman saves the life because he values life, he values his own life and he values others lives. He also does it because it is his job, he has chosen to work in that vocation for selfish reasons, most firemen I know and knew as a kid loved what they did and they all had big hearts for people in trouble, they valued life. They weren’t altruists. Most would not go along with a person who could work not working and demanding money out of their pocket.

  110. @Bron: As usual, you redefine everything to mean nothing. If sacrificing your life to save another is not “altruism” then there is no such thing as altruism. If “life is the highest good to a normal healthy living entity” but you aren’t talking about ITS life, then your statement becomes utterly meaningless, because it justifies anything. Using your idiotic logic I could justify putting you into slavery to feed 20 starving people, because using up your one life is saving 20 others; on balance you should be thankful for that opportunity to sacrifice because “life is the highest good,” buddy.

    The point isn’t whether firemen value life, the point is that they value the lives of others MORE THAN THEIR OWN.

    Even more, the point is that NORMAL people see that selflessness and willingness to sacrifice as heroic, brave, admirable, honorable, and worthwhile. That IS altruism, nobody sacrifices their life because that is their job; a job can be quit, and no contract can call for literal death. Soldiers, fireman, police and regular citizens sacrifice their lives for others out of altruism, not for reward, but because they are doing what is right even if it kills them.

    As for what most firemen would do: They would feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick, regardless of why they were hungry, homeless or sick, because most firemen believe in public service, and by their very job believe people that need help should get help regardless of why they need the help. They will risk their lives to save an idiot that started a fire by playing around even if they know he was responsible. They do not say, “Hey, you started it, we could get you out but we will let you die instead.” No, most firemen believe in saving people in trouble, no matter how they got into trouble.

  111. I don’t want to get into the argument that seems to be blazing here, about what is “really” socialism and what isn’t. But I’m pretty much agreed with the Professor that the weird system of State stores in the 17 states that make alcohol sales a state monopoly are no advertisement for socialism.

    The fact that so many of these states are Republican-dominated only adds to the irony: bureaucracies of any stripe don’t like to give up their power and patronage.

    But if these states want to keep their inefficient and overpriced systems for alcohol distribution, I say let’s celebrate them. They help the economies of neighboring free-market states. Here in New Jersey, for example, we have lots of big liquor stores close to the Pennsylvania border. And those dismal State stores? Turn them into tourist attractions – label all their shelves in Russian, and invite people to go there for a look at what life was like in the Soviet Union…

  112. Also, so few adults master the butterfly that swimming a single length
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    Eliminate all distractions Einsteein said” Imagination is more important than science. An autograph in ink is value more than one friend per day to help?

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