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Thread: Laissez-faire capitalism

  1. #1

    Default Laissez-faire capitalism

    Is anyone interested or have knowledge or opinions on Laissez-faire capitalism or Ayn Rand's interpretations of it?

    Ayn Rand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Laissez-faire theories preceeded Ayn Rand but her philosophies on it are interesting. Rand tried to distance herself from politics but her philosophies were challenged by other free-thinkers and politicians.

    As a notation I must state that I do not agree with her on many issues but because of her tenacity and free-thinking on the subject I am compelled to take her ideas seriously. Her ideas on objectivism and epistemology should not be considered seperately as they are objectively and foundationally integrated in the idea of human purpose, reason, and freedoms.

    My purpose for using Rand's ideas on the subject are because she was the most well-known proponent of it and provided substantial credit and thought to it.

  2. #2

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    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

    ― John Rogers

  3. #3

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    Well, I've been attempting to read Atlas Shrugged for about a year. But it's currently being used in a far more effective manner as a door wedge. In any case, I think that neo liberal economics is the best we have so far. That said, there needs to be certain provisions to help those in our society who are in genuine need. I would also argue for universal healthcare (private companies can still provide alternatives). As for Ayn Rand, I firstly, have little respect for someone who spent their life condemning people who took government assistance, and then signed on to receive social security. Secondly, I am amazed at how people in the US can proclaim to be christian, and yet have a Randian attitude. Jesus was a man who healed the sick for free, called the love of money the root of all evil, and redistributed food. American christians are regularly the ones to scream socialism about the ACA, when it isn't and call poor people parasites, which is completely in contradiction to their religious doctrines.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruitkitty View Post
    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

    ― John Rogers
    Cute quote.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SterlingArcher View Post
    Well, I've been attempting to read Atlas Shrugged for about a year. But it's currently being used in a far more effective manner as a door wedge. In any case, I think that neo liberal economics is the best we have so far. That said, there needs to be certain provisions to help those in our society who are in genuine need. I would also argue for universal healthcare (private companies can still provide alternatives). As for Ayn Rand, I firstly, have little respect for someone who spent their life condemning people who took government assistance, and then signed on to receive social security. Secondly, I am amazed at how people in the US can proclaim to be christian, and yet have a Randian attitude. Jesus was a man who healed the sick for free, called the love of money the root of all evil, and redistributed food. American christians are regularly the ones to scream socialism about the ACA, when it isn't and call poor people parasites, which is completely in contradiction to their religious doctrines.
    Way off topic.. but ok.... go for it.

    So far a throw-out on Atlas Shrugged. Nothing else (Yes she was an author). No specific condradictions other than generalizations. I am hoping to discuss the Laissez-faire theory. What contradictions do you have specifically?

    If you are done 'bashing' Rand then maybe a few specifics would lend to the topic. Can we talk about tariffs, regulations, and subsities?

    The Laissez-faire theory of less government control leading to free-spending. Any contradictory thoughts? Any holes in the theory? What pitfalls are present?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilostthesheriff View Post
    Cute quote.

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    Way off topic.. but ok.... go for it.

    So far a throw-out on Atlas Shrugged. Nothing else (Yes she was an author). No specific condradictions other than generalizations. I am hoping to discuss the Laissez-faire theory. What contradictions do you have specifically?

    If you are done 'bashing' Rand then maybe a few specifics would lend to the topic. Can we talk about tariffs, regulations, and subsities?

    The Laissez-faire theory of less government control leading to free-spending. Any contradictory thoughts? Any holes in the theory? What pitfalls are present?
    Well, I said I was in fair agreement with Laissez-faire, neo liberal economics is pretty similar, i.e. favouring the free market, so I don't know how I was "way off topic" I am not, however, for completed unrestricted market freedom. People will inevitably get left behind; not everyone can afford health insurance for example, ergo, no medical care. Large companies can have a monopoly on the market, preventing any kind of competition resulting in price fixing. With no government regulation, companies are free to exploit customers (as there would be no consumer protection) cause environmental damage by unsafely disposing their waste, release medication that could have serious side affects without any legal repercussions. Conduct unethical testing on animals, pay people the lowest possible wage, no employee protection. Those are a few. There has to be some government interaction in economic matters, only if it is for the provision of environmental, consumer, and employee protection laws.

    Also, it is a specific contradiction between being a follower of Rand and a christian, if that is what you are denying. Rand hated charity, (christianity extols it) valued selfishness (an anathema to christian doctrine), and was a hypocrite. As I said, she was quite happy to sign up for social security.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilostthesheriff View Post
    The Laissez-faire theory of less government control leading to free-spending. Any contradictory thoughts? Any holes in the theory? What pitfalls are present?
    Market failure in all its forms.

    Free markets are only fairly loosely the default most efficient way to distribute goods. There are a lot of ways in which they do not, and in those frequent cases, it is optimal for government to step in.

  7. #7
    June

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    Laissez-faire capitalism isn't a utilitarian economic system, at all, but rather one based on a moral ideology that the market, the businesses, and all the transactions "belong" to the people. Some may argue that this is not true, and that such a system theoretically works well, but this is merely another veil masking fatigue from the big bad gub'ment regulating markets. Supporters typically feel that the government intrudes on their "property" (essentially implying their businesses should be run like a child runs a lemonade stand and that next to anything should be freely available on the market without regulation). It almost boasts social Darwinism, as the individuals with the most money and resources are able to stride freely to the top of the food chain and create supreme monopolies, whereas the people born below the poverty line must hope they can get a job that doesn't pay only two dollars an hour.

    The free market has never been able to police itself successfully. "Theoretically" nothing; centuries of rises and falls, depressions, heavy recessions, market crashes, abusive monopolies, horrible labor practices, market failures, and numerous other repercussions of little regulation have proven this. The goal behind an economic system should not be what is morally "correct", but what rather has the best outcome for society as a whole with the littlest possible repercussions.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by SterlingArcher View Post
    Well, I said I was in fair agreement with Laissez-faire, neo liberal economics is pretty similar, i.e. favouring the free market, so I don't know how I was "way off topic" I am not, however, for completed unrestricted market freedom. People will inevitably get left behind; not everyone can afford health insurance for example, ergo, no medical care. Large companies can have a monopoly on the market, preventing any kind of competition resulting in price fixing. With no government regulation, companies are free to exploit customers (as there would be no consumer protection) cause environmental damage by unsafely disposing their waste, release medication that could have serious side affects without any legal repercussions. Conduct unethical testing on animals, pay people the lowest possible wage, no employee protection. Those are a few. There has to be some government interaction in economic matters, only if it is for the provision of environmental, consumer, and employee protection laws.

    Also, it is a specific contradiction between being a follower of Rand and a christian, if that is what you are denying. Rand hated charity, (christianity extols it) valued selfishness (an anathema to christian doctrine), and was a hypocrite. As I said, she was quite happy to sign up for social security.
    You bring up some good examples of possible and likely pitfalls with a Laissez-faire based system. I did some thinking about the subject today at work and had a brief discussion about it with a co-worker. The forseeable problems would be with environmental damage and or abuse in product testing. I do however believe that a free system monitarily is self correcting. The competition/product-service demand/choice would dictate which companies would succeed or fail. Based on the perceived certaninties vs the hoped-for-prosperity would certainly doom this system in the modern world.

    I am mostly interested in challenging the stale two-party-system that this country has been blindly wallowing in. I believe it has served it's purpose but believe that it is currently holding us back economically.

    To the second point: I am not a Rand follower. I only read about her philosophies yesterday and had some interest in her musings about a few subjects. I certainly disregard much of what she states about purpose and much of it is rambling but she challenged many interesting status quo's. Yes she finally died a hypocrite by using the very government subsities she abhorred at the convicing of a close friend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by June View Post
    Laissez-faire capitalism isn't a utilitarian economic system, at all, but rather one based on a moral ideology that the market, the businesses, and all the transactions "belong" to the people. Some may argue that this is not true, and that such a system theoretically works well, but this is merely another veil masking fatigue from the big bad gub'ment regulating markets. Supporters typically feel that the government intrudes on their "property" (essentially implying their businesses should be run like a child runs a lemonade stand and that next to anything should be freely available on the market without regulation). It almost boasts social Darwinism, as the individuals with the most money and resources are able to stride freely to the top of the food chain and create supreme monopolies, whereas the people born below the poverty line must hope they can get a job that doesn't pay only two dollars an hour.

    The free market has never been able to police itself successfully. "Theoretically" nothing; centuries of rises and falls, depressions, heavy recessions, market crashes, abusive monopolies, horrible labor practices, market failures, and numerous other repercussions of little regulation have proven this. The goal behind an economic system should not be what is morally "correct", but what rather has the best outcome for society as a whole with the littlest possible repercussions.
    A well perceived and thoughtfull sentiment. You have an eloquent way of intelligently trashing misnomers on such definitions or ideas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruitkitty View Post
    Market failure in all its forms.

    Free markets are only fairly loosely the default most efficient way to distribute goods. There are a lot of ways in which they do not, and in those frequent cases, it is optimal for government to step in.
    I can agree with this. Government does bear the burden to offer some form of regulation. The real question is "how much is too much?" I believe we are currently past that threshold.

  9. #9

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    "Laissez-Faire Capitalism" isn't even a well-posed idea; it's a meaningless buzzword, of the same type as "big government" and "small government."

    Look, in any economic system you have rules. The rules might be that, say, theft is not allowed. Or that fraud is not allowed. Or that collusion is not allowed. The rules that prevent a business from monopolistic practices are not fundamentally different than the rules that prevent theft or robbery. They are, perhaps, more abstract, but there is no fundamental way to distinguish rules of the former type from rules of the latter.

    The question with any economic system, therefore, is not "should there be rules," but what should the rules be? Unfortunately, this is a hard question that must be answered on a rule-by-rule basis. If you want a good system, you must do a utility calculation for each possible regulation and see if the net benefit outweighs the detriment. You can get absolutely nowhere with any sort of generally principled "regulation is bad" or "regulation is good" approach, because such a view is quite literally meaningless. It's not a question of "how much," it's a question of "which precise rules." There is no clean increasing scale of "amount of regulation" that leads from "free market" to "communism," in the same way that there's no simple spectrum from "anarchy" to "totalitarianism." Generalities are completely fucking useless. You cannot offer a criticism of the economic system being over-regulated unless you have a well-formed idea of which exact regulations should be done away with and why, nor can you do the reverse without having a precise idea of which exact regulations there should be and why. The "why" cannot be based on principle, either; either a policy has a net benefit, or it does not. Determining the utility of a policy is a difficult endeavor that intimately involves the specifics of that particular policy; attempting to classify large chunks of policy as "good" or "bad" because of some overarching view of the merit of "regulation" in general is a terrible heuristic.

    Thus, when someone refers to a "free market," make a point of asking them what they mean by that. If they cannot give a coherent answer, that is, a list of rules they think are necessary and a list of rules they think they should be done away with, along with a coherent justification based on some sort of utility calculation, then they do not have any well-formed idea of the economic system that they actually want and their opinion can be safely discarded.

    The thing to take away from this is that having a well-formed, useful opinion on economic policy is extremely fucking difficult. You cannot form one without investing large amounts of intellectual effort; you must identify, on a per-policy bases, what you support and what you do not, and you must do so by considering the utility of each policy based on an estimate of that policy's actual pragmatic effect on our economic system. It's harder still given our relative ignorance of how economics actually works. No cursory blanket-level heuristic about "the amount of regulation that is good" is going to give you anything other than garbage. You need to invest significant time and effort, both in performing the utility calculations required and in suppressing bias introduced by your aforementioned heuristic judgments.

    So, next time you're tempted to offer an opinion on how our economy is "overregulated" or "underregulated," stop and think: "do I actually have a firm idea of what I want our economic system to look like, and why?" If you can't honestly answer "yes" (and most people can't; I certainly don't spend enough time thinking about it to do so), then do everyone (including yourself) a favor and don't say anything at all. If you must offer an opinion, make an effort to do so on a per-policy basis; that way, you will ensure that you are at least doing something meaningful.

  10. #10
    Astra

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    I tried to read Ayn Rand years ago and gave up pretty quick. Atlas Shrugged is the Mein Kampf of libertarianism: it's the book everyone in the movement praises but no one's actually read it because it's so turgid.

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