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Should the Government Adopt Net Neutrality Rules?
in United States

By joecavalryjoecavalry 405 Pts

Should the Government Adopt Net Neutrality Rules?


In Jan. 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality rules established under President Obama that required internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally.

Proponents of net neutrality say it preserves free speech on the internet by preventing ISPs from blocking lawful online content. Opponents of net neutrality say that internet service should be free from unnecessary and heavy-handed government regulation.

For more information, visit "Should Net Neutrality Be Restored? - Top 3 Pros and Cons."
Sources:
Federal Communications Commission, "Restoring Internet Freedom," fcc.gov (accessed Feb. 18, 2020)
The White House, "Net Neutrality: President Obama's Plan for a Free and Open Internet," obamawhitehouse.archives.gov (accessed Feb. 18, 2020)
Pro
Sanders
Sanders

Con
Trump
Trump

Not Clear or Not Found
Biden
Biden






Pro (Yes)

Pro
Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders
Democrat

"The FCC's vote to end net neutrality is an egregious attack on our democracy. With this decision the internet and its free exchange of information as we have come to know it will cease to exist. The end of net neutrality protections means that the internet will be for sale to the highest bidder, instead of everyone having the same access regardless of whether they are rich or poor, a big corporation or small business, a multimedia conglomerate or a small online publication. At a time when our democratic institutions are already in peril, we must do everything we can to stop this decision from taking effect."

Source: Bernie Sanders, "Sanders Statement on FCC Decision to Repeal Net Neutrality," sanders.senate.gov, Dec. 14, 2017
Con (No)

Con
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Republican

"We just WON the big court case on Net Neutrality Rules [on Oct. 1, 2019 when a federal appeals court upheld the FCC repeal of net neutrality regulations]! A great win for the future and speed of the internet. Will lead to many big things including 5G. Congratulations to the FCC and its Chairman, Ajit Pai!"

Source: Donald Trump, Twitter.com, Oct. 7, 2019


None Found
Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Democrat

No position found as of Jan. 17, 2020.






FORMER CANDIDATES
(Candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria appear below in black and white and in alphabetical order.)



Pro
Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Gabbard
Gabbard

Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Warren
Warren

Yang
Yang

Con
Not Clear or Not Found
Booker
Booker
Harris
Harris
ORourke
O'Rourke





Pro (Yes)

Pro
Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg
Democrat

"Our fight for an open Internet is just beginning. As president, I will make net neutrality the law of the land, expand Internet access and opportunity, and protect the free flow of ideas for future generations."

Source: Pete Buttigieg, Twitter.com, Oct. 3, 2019
Pro
Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard
Democrat

"We should be discussing how to expand internet access to more people, not restrict it to those who can afford to pay more. We need to keep #NetNeutrality."

Source: Tulsi Gabbard, Twitter.com, Nov. 21, 2017
Pro
Amy Klobuchar
Amy Klobuchar
Democrat

“As a strong supporter of a free and open internet, I am opposed to the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to eliminate net neutrality rules. These important protections prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing and prioritizing web traffic. This vote will harm consumers, particularly in rural areas. It will limit competition. And it will hurt small business entrepreneurship and innovation. I will continue to push for a free and open internet.”

Source: Amy Klobuchar, "Klobuchar Statement on Net Neutrality Vote," klobuchar.senate.gov, Dec. 14, 2017
Pro
Elizabeth Warren

"I will appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality, regulating internet service providers as 'common carriers' and maintaining open access to the Internet. And I will require all telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption, including signing into law and building on the Tribal Connect Act, so that we can work toward every tribal library having broadband access."

Source: Elizabeth Warren, "Investing in Rural America," elizabethwarren.com (accessed Jan. 14, 2019)
Pro
Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang
Democrat

"The repeal of net neutrality protections threatens the free internet for all Americans. It is imperative that we protect this technology so that all Americans can continue to enjoy unfettered and affordable access to the internet...

Whoever has the most money or clout is a terrible way to decide who gets the most bandwidth on the Internet. Net Neutrality has served us well and should continue to be the law. I will make it so as President."

Source: Andrew Yang, "New Neutrality," yang2020.com (accessed Jan. 17, 2020)

Source: https://2020election.procon.org/view.answers.election.php?questionID=002219.
  1. Live Poll

    Should the Government Adopt Net Neutrality Rules?

    3 votes
    1. Yes
      66.67%
    2. No
      33.33%
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Arguments

  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    I have studied this matter quite a while, and across multiple legal systems over time there has been absolutely no correlation observed between the presence of net neutrality rules and the pricing of the Internet services and the offered speeds. Plainly speaking, net neutrality rules make absolutely no difference, except add some unnecessary paperwork. ISPs have very little incentive to discriminate against any type of content (unless the government explicitly outlaws some content, as is the case in Australia, for example, featuring a very long list of banned websites that ISPs are obliged to block).

    Seems to be just one more case of the government looking for something extra to control/regulate in order to justify its existence.
    piloteer
  • @MayCaesar I think you would be wrong to assume that there is no motivation for an ISP to block certain content, although I can only think of two credible scenarios besides legality.

    The first would be competitors, and any agency which promotes competitors and their content. For example, if an advertising agency wanted to advertise with ISP A, then ISP B might block that advertising agency which would severely limit their revenue, and by proxy all of the independent websites and web hosting services which rely on advertisement for profit, such as blogs, independent news websites, and even some stores. This doesn't significantly hurt the ISP because they are not making money through advertisement but rather through connection, so any incidental damage done to other entities is of little consequence to them. Thus there is an incentive to block certain businesses.

    The second is mostly hypothetical, although I can see a number of scenarios playing out that might lead to it, and that is the development of complete intranets, isolated internet loops which are heavily regulated and censored by the the ISP which have limited external connectivity or lack it entirely. For example, lets say that family-oriented evangelicals wanted to have a safe internet space for their children they might instead use one of these alternate ISP's so that they can ensure their children don't cross any of the naughty bits of the internet or any non-christian content. These of course could also exist for any other large political group, ideology, academia, or even even an industry, effectively creating an echo-chamber which limits groups large enough to have a dedicated circuit. This has a lot of consequences both politically and socially, which we already see due to things like google's algorithms providing more similar content which does effectively the same thing, although to a lesser degree since it is still possible and even likely that someone would come across opposing ideas.

    These are the only counter examples I can think of, and of course they would not be absolute, because even if some ISP's did limit themselves to a content-oriented market others would simply take the other strategy and market themselves on being open and neutral. However, if we have seen anything in the past decades in regards to how people communicate, it is that most people tend to avoid diversity in thought, with only a select few disregarding this and deliberately looking for other ideas and ways of thinking. I am generally opposed to any restriction in communication, regardless of if it comes from a government or a private business. The problem is, we can't know which speech is suppressed if we never hear it, that problem is fundamentally insurmountable. I would rather that free speech not be limited, and if that requires protection from the government, then so be it.
    MayCaesarpiloteer
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    @Happy_Killbot

    This is a popular argument, but I do not think it holds. The idea that competitors have a strong incentive to block each other's content (a similar popular objection to proposals of fully private road ownership is the hypothetical scenario where Walmart owns a highway and does not build a ramp to a Cotsco store) seems reasonable, but it also eludes the nature of the competition on the free market. The goal of a company is to maximise its profits, not to get higher profits than its competitors; it is better for Walmart to increase its profits by 50% and let Cotsco increase its profits by 100%, than increase its profits by 30% and let Cotsco increase its profits only by 20%.
    If an advertising agency contacts ISP B in your example and asks if it can run an ISP A ad on it, then the ISP B can weight all pros and cons and make a deal with the ISP A that benefits both companies. For example, "We will let you run this ad, but in exchange $1 a month you receive from each of your customers you will transfer to us".
    You have to also consider finer effects: there can be direct benefits to ISP B for allowing ISP A ads. For example, imagine the amount of respect this company will get in the popular press and among people: you buy a Comcast Internet package, and on the bag it shows an AT&T advertisement - that is not something many companies do, and that will definitely make Comcast stand out.
    There is also the fact that, well, ISP B customers want to access same websites as ISP A. Is it worth for ISP B to charge people for $5 a month extra to be able to access Youtube, just because Youtube runs ISP A ads? Probably not.

    The second scenario does not actually look too bad to me. I can see people buying limited Internet access for specific things; for example, someone might only be interested in using Internet to download and read books and movies from Amazon and Netflix, and it makes sense to offer them a cheap package featuring only these functions.

    Regardless, in practice we see that ISPs rarely block any content, with the exception of cases when either it is mandated by the government, or the content is highly controversial and may reflect poorly on the company reputation. I do not think it is going to change in the ever globalising world.
    piloteer
  • @MayCaesar If the ISP charges other ISP's for use of their ads through there servers as a means of maximizing profit, then wouldn't the other ISP's in response to this avoid using those ISP's altogether in order to maximize their own profits?

    The way ISP's run ads is a little different than you might expect, basically when the page loads there is a bid on which ads will be displayed, which is why they are not simply images but rather are dynamic and change when you reload the page. In this way, if an ISP wanted to block a specific group of ads it would be trivial because they would block the host advertiser from using their service.

    Here is a picture:


    It isn't really the same as the example you give, which I find completely unrealistic because the company isn't going to know how much or if at all building a connection to a Costco store from their private road is going to boost their sales, so that 30% --> 50% boost is an unknown variable and represents a huge risk that most businesses simply will not take. How would the business know this would be the end effect? You might argue that they would hire an independent contractor or analyst or something like that, but even then that data has to be combined with massive amounts of other data and is going to be pricey. At the end of the day, the best decision is just going to be a snap decision based on little or no data whatsoever, so unfortunately It is going to be based on how threatened the Walmart owner feels by Costco. If the Walmart owner sees Costco as a threat, they will not risk anything that may help them.

    There are a few but growing number of examples of ISP's violating the net neutrality rules, in exactly the way I suggest above.
    https://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/broadband-providers-are-quietly-taking-advantage-of-an-internet-without-net-neutrality-protections/

    What is especially interesting is that ISP's are also reducing speeds to end users who use certain services, which goes completely against all free market theory that the company will have motivation to provide quality product, because this theory forgets the interdependence of companies on each other and how company A that runs through company B gives company B no motivation to support company A when there is competition between company A and B.

    We have to keep in mind that these changes are recent and we still have yet to see if there will be any major changes, although I think it is reasonable to assume that we will start to see ISP trend towards working more like cable networks, with each having their own limited set of sites and services which companies will have to pay multiple ISP's to go through their service (similar to paying different networks for the same channel) which I think I have made a solid argument is actually in the ISP's best interest from a profit maximization perspective.
    piloteerMayCaesar
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    edited March 23
    @Happy_Killbot

    Maybe yes, maybe not. My general point is that it makes sense for two ISPs to collaborate in order to gain a larger collective number of customers, and that regularly happens on markets. Such collaboration is even more incentivised when there is a large number of viable players, so two ISPs collaborating are going to get a competitive edge over all the lone wolves.

    I see your point; depending on the way the ads are displayed, sometimes blocking one particular ad may be easy. But in that case there is no real harm to the customer done, as the ad does not interfere much with their experience anyway: whether they get another ISP's ad or Coca Cola's ad, from their perspective the experience will be largely the same.
    And, again, ISPs can collaborate. If two ISPs, for example, have similar numbers of customers and offer similar quality services, they might agree to show each other's ads and, perhaps, even make combined ads, to attract even more customers. It is not a terribly uncommon practice; for example, in the automobile industry two different companies (often from different countries) build a combined model and in various ways share profits from selling the cars. Collaboration does not just end with mutually built products; they also put investments together to hire engineers the designs of which become available to both companies, but not to their competitors... There is a lot to gain from pairing up in business.

    For that matter, one ISP's ad on the monitor of another ISP's customer is so insignificant, it is barely worth thinking about. Consider how many other outlets that ISP has to advertise its services to this customer... TV, highway and street banners, store ads, websites showing hard-coded ads, forums... Risking reputation of the entire company just to censor a needle in a haystack does not seem to be wise. Not saying it absolutely cannot happen, but I doubt it would. Again, it has not happened before, so why would it now?
    Remember the "Nookd" case, where Nook replaced every instance of "Kindle" in War and Peace with "Nook"? That was enough to cause a worldwide scandal. Playing these games with censoring ads is dangerous.

    How the business knows how much a certain action is going to affect their profits is a very big question, and entire book series are written on the subject. Large corporations utilise hundreds analytical methods to project potential gains. I will not get into the details of those methods, and I do not know most of them myself - but generally it is a combination of careful experimentation and fitting of the results with the theoretical models, with analysis of past results of other companies.
    For example, Walmart may build one ramp to a Cotsco store and see how much traffic that ramp gets in a month and whether the resulting increase in profits exceeds the potential losses from more customers going to Cotsco instead of Walmart.
    Consider also that the automatic assumption that customers who do not have an easy way to reach Cotsco will necessarily shop at Walmart is incorrect. There are, for example, many people ideologically boycotting Walmart, and if Walmart starts monopolising the highway shopping industry, then the numbers of such people will increase dramatically. I do not boycott Walmart, but if it starts behaving in such a way, then I might; there are so many stores to choose from that one store employing unethical practices will not affect my life in any way, while they will lose a faithful customer.
    It is not as simple as "We just will not build a ramp, and people will have to shop at Walmart". Real world does not work this way, otherwise anyone could become a billionaire by just posing some limitations on their customers. When customers feel that they are pressured to do something, they tend to walk away; that is something any sales person learns on the first day of their training. If you want to have a lot of customers, you have to make them feel welcome and that the purpose of your whole life is to serve them faithfully; if you fail to do so, then they will go to your competitors who have not failed to do so, and you will lose the competition badly.

    I am aware of the cases in the link, but they are fairly minor (not going beyond throttling of specific services, not even blocking them), and some of them (the traffic limit issues) are not related to neutrality and, actually, were present when the neutrality act was present - Comcast of which I am a customer certainly did that to me. Interestingly, they stopped around 2018, which could be connected to the repeal of the act, which allowed Comcast to restructure its model more efficiently and made such practices unnecessary.
    Compare how many services are not throttled to the opposite... Throttled services are a sand particle in an ocean.

    Keep in mind that in the US there is a vicious telecommunication act, still active:
    https://www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/opadhome/overview.htm
    The ISP market in the US is VERY far away from a free market, and even so we do not see any neutrality issues of note. I am not sure where your forecast comes from, when these projected trends were not present before the net neutrality act was accepted (that is for the vast majority of time consumer-grade Internet existed) and are not present on any substantial scale anywhere in the world, except for totalitarian states with harsh governmental Internet censorship, such as China or Saudi Arabia.

    In short, I do not see any reasons to expect any problems from this, given how there have been none so far. Pleasing the customers is much more important in business than making the competitors' lives difficult, in general.
    piloteer
  • @MayCaesar I agree that if there is some mutual benefit between the companies in question they will evolve towards symbiosis, we see this in nature all the time. However if there is competition then they will tend to eliminate each other, which is why no two animal species can occupy the same niche in a given region. In the case of companies we can expect the same, which tends to mean that companies that are more competitive push others out of the market, so ISP's are going to need to be in competition with each other, and one that deliberately slows down or blocks content which supports the other will have a competitive advantage.

    I still disagree with the ramp thing, because it isn't like every Costco is next to every Walmart, so even if they agree to share a road connection I think it would happen in a way that is very different from what you describe. Most likely in a completely privatized road system the fuel and car companies would be the predominant road builders, which they would do by raising gas prices to pay for the roads, the same way taxes on fuel already do this in some countries. So it is much more reasonable that the private Walmart and Costco roads would connect to a oil company road which would then allow traffic to both, however if the geography makes it so that the walmart can completely block access to the costco, they will almost definitely elect to make it as hard as possible for anyone to get access to their competitor, no analysis required.

    Again I would argue that just because most services are not throttled or blocked at this time doesn't mean that they never will be. It is hard to say how these companies will evolve over time.

    The theory that customer satisfaction is going to be linked to how likely people are to use the service doesn't stand up to the evidence. Consider the fact that Comcast is consistently one of the most hated companies in the US, even ranking worse than BP who's negligence has directly led to widespread ecological disaster and loss of life. But then you still use their services. Why is that?
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    edited March 23
    @Happy_Killbot

    I am not sure if comparison with animals is good here; for that matter, there are many animals that compete with each other, but never (or, at least, not within a reasonable period of time) eliminate each other, and sometimes collaborate to some minor degree. With companies collaboration is going to be much more abundant, as they can actually make mutually beneficial deals, while animals operate on pure instincts and cannot forecast the benefits of working together.
    As I understand the market, rather than eliminating each other, as a result of competition companies with poor business models are eliminated, and those with excellent business models thrive. It is quite likely that business models involving tight collaboration with competitors are more efficient than business models involving a lone fight against the world, otherwise we would not see so much collaboration going on as we see today. I struggle to think of any two major competitors in any field that have never had any mutual projects. In many industries, in fact, collaboration starts becoming a default mode of existence; for example, in the hi-tech industry major corporations often products that, while competing with each other, also complement each other well. This means that eliminating the competitors actually would be extremely bad for the company; if Microsoft and Apple went down, then Google would have a harder time as well, as the number of its customers would dwindle. So competition revolves around which of the complementary products will have a higher market value, while all products will always be on the market - there is no threat for any company's sales, but there is competition for the customers' wallets still.

    What you describe is possible, but it still implies that blocking access to a Cotsco store will be net positive for Walmart, and vice versa. I highly doubt that this is the case, although it could be the case in theory. People like roads to be convenient and to not have any shenanigans. I remember this ramp, I think, near Atlanta which looks like it leads to a Shell gas station (my favorite fuel company), but actually leads to Marathon, with Shell being much further away; if this road was owned by some private company and if I encountered many more such cases when using them, then it could easily annoy me enough to try to spend as little time driving on its roads as possible, telling my GPS navigator to ignore them, unless they are the only convenient option. Enough customers like me - and the company will regret its poor design.

    I by the way do not think that this is how the profit from these roads would work in practice. It would be either something similar to the toll roads nowadays, or even something a bit more advanced: perhaps each car would have a GPS meter installed in it that would send the data on the number of miles driven on the road to the company, and the company would charge you on the per-mile basis. Say, $1 per 10 miles on a regular road, 30 cents per 10 miles on a beaten up road, and $3 per 10 miles on a luxurious road (high quality maintenance, low traffic, lots of shopping opportunities, beautiful landscapes, etc.).

    I agree that it is hard to predict the future changes with regards to net neutrality, but that is precisely why I am not worrying about anything. If things start moving in the undesirable direction, then this will be a problem to consider, but as of now we can easily come up with thousands problematic hypothetical scenarios and end up worrying over nothing.

    In my experience, people hate Comcast for terrible customer service (it is not in my experience, by the way, but I may have gotten lucky), which is not a huge deal to many people, considering how rarely anyone actually has to use that service. In most other regards it is better than competition (with the exception of Google Fiber, I guess). One could ask why Comcast is not outcompeted by some other company that has everything it does and a great customer service, and the answer, in my opinion, lays in that TC act I linked before that essentially turns the ISP market into oligopoly of 3-4 players. In my city, for example, only Comcast and AT&T are present, and AT&T up until recently still mostly used ADSL technology, so Comcast was the best option I had.
    Granted, you are asking a wrong person here; I am the rare exception of a person who gives very little importance to public opinion of a company/product. ;) I am that guy who buys a generic cola for $0.9 / 2l instead of Coca-Cola for $1.7 / 2l. I prefer to do my own research of facts, rather than relying solely on anecdotal evidence. Again, in my own experience, Comcast has been great (meanly priced, but you get what you pay for). Whatever its public image is, it pleased me with the services they sold me, so I am a happy customer!

    I can give you a good example, however, of how one incident caused me to have an irrationally negative opinion of a company. At one highway ramp, there were 4 different gas stations; I did not look at the prices for some reason and went to the Exxon station (for the first time ever, being mostly a Shell customer). After refuelling, I looked around and realised that the prices at this station were higher than at the other 3 stations: not by much, just by $0.1 per gallon or so, but higher. 
    Not much can be said about a huge company from such an experience, but my quirky mind interpreted it in this way: "Exxon's gas is overpriced". Believe it or not, for the next year I only bought gas at Exxon if I was running out and there were no other gas stations in the area. I knew intellectually that there was nothing wrong with Exxon, and sometimes Exxon actually had lower prices than competitors - but that one experience was memorable enough for me to form a lasting tainted image of Exxon. I have mostly overcome it now and do not see Exxon as anything special, but it took time and conscious effort.
    This just shows how easy it is for a company to lose a customer over a minor accident.
  • @MayCaesar

    Funny you should mention shell, because they are more or less the reason that I am not like you and do not champion the free market.

    When I was in High school, there was a lot of activity relating to fracking technology which had just been developed. So I had a about $1,000 which I received from my great grandmother passing away in a trust fund which I was to invest somewhere. So of course I did the reasonable thing, I picked 8 of the 10 new natural gas companies in the region and bought some shares in each figuring that some of them would succeed and I would make a profit. What actually happened is that all of these businesses were out competed or bought up by larger oil companies, sometimes in ways that you would probably like to argue that businesses shouldn't do particularly because there is no benefit to, for example starting contracts with people to develop their land but then not doing that just so that another company can't get access to that land via no-compete clauses.

    Although I can't think of any specific examples, a lot of these companies did build private access roads to the large gas pads which I suppose in theory could have been built to block access to other areas, a direct analogy to the costco-walmart ramp dilemma we have been using as an example. In some instances, public roads were expanded to make room for all the trucks and heavy mining equipment that needed to be brought in, however this didn't come with any obligation to maintain these roads so most of them have since deteriorated since the local municipalities lack the resources to continue to maintain them at a new larger size.

    This increased traffic came with many consequences, such as increased rate of traffic collisions. Turns out roads built barely big enough for 2 cars can't support larger trucks. This lead to an increase in auto damage and even deaths, including one of my friends and his younger brother, which was 100% the fault of the dump truck driver who pushed them off the road.

    If you don't know what these gas pads are all about, just watch this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odmuNfWi5NE

    It sounds like a F***ing jet taking off, and it is like that round the clock, for weeks sometimes. This is in sharp contrast to the normal serenity of the rural northeast. One of these monsters was built across the road from the house I grew up in. Their activities polluted the water we drank from, due to the well being built on a hill above where we live and the water table being low. We had to drink nothing but bottled water for the better part of a year, and what happened to me and my family wasn't that bad seeing as some people's water turned flammable and is still polluted to this day. Could we have sued? probably not, because the company would have argued that there is no proof of connection between the well and the water quality since the pollution wasn't present until months after the pad was built, and of course they could afford better lawyers than us anyways.

    You would argue in most of these cases that it is the individuals who are to blame and not the companies, but I think that what a lot of right-libertatians, minarchists, and anarcho-capitalists don't understand is that everything is intrinsically linked with human behavior, the individual doesn't really exist without the interactions between other people and the environment. When you put the individual on a pedestal, you ignore the fact that the individual can do just as much damage through other people who are mutually cooperating. Nature provides countless examples of where competition for resources favors misuse of resources and unsavory behaviors, which would no doubt be present in telecommunications companies. What these are for sure, I can not predict, but to say that they will develop is almost a given.

    I think you are living proof that quality doesn't always beat quantity, for example if people had to pay more to use nicer roads people would deliberately avoid them, the same way you deliberately use Comcast despite the fact that they suck. In other words, how "nice" the products are mean nothing to the average consumer, that isn't why they are buying them. People won't regret poor design as much as if they think they made a bad choice, it isn't about how objectively good something is, it's about how much it makes the illogical human mind feel like it made the right choice.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    edited March 23
    @Happy_Killbot

    Okay, so you made a lot of points that, ideally, would need to be addressed individually - but I think there are some general problems with your narrative that better be addressed outright.

    First of all, I think you have the wrong idea of what my position actually is. I by no means claim that companies exactly make choices that benefit the customers the most, that companies always collaborate with each other, that companies always produce the best outcome overall, etc. Not even close; we are all humans, we are all imperfect, and so are the institutions we create, public or private. Mistakes are going to be made, and the more complex the system becomes, the more mistakes in the absolute and, arguably, relative too numbers will occur.
    A utopia in which everyone always gets what they want and no one ever displeases anyone cannot exist.
    What I really talk about is what incentives there are. Incentives essentially mean behaviors that are rewarded. My claim is that there are strong incentives to please customers, to collaborate with competitors, to not partake in too many unethical corporate behaviors, to pay workers well, etc. It does not mean that people will always actually act on these incentives, but it does mean that they will be inclined to do so, and that is the best any system can do.

    Second, A lot of cases you describe come from the fact that the free market mechanisms are partially suppressed and, as a result, underdeveloped, undermining the whole idea. There is no strongly free market in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, although there is a relatively free market by historical and modern standards - but, again, some particular industries feature regulations or norms that undermine market freedoms significantly.
    In a developed free market, for example, the problem of negative externalities has many different solutions. The gas pads that disturb residents create a strong negative externality, and the owner of those pads on a free market with functional private arbitration system is going to have to pay huge compensations to the residents. Right now there are no such developed mechanisms in place, because the legal space is monopolised by the government, and the government does not have many reasons to do anything about such situations, considering that the oil companies have a lot of lobbyists there.
    You also forget that on a free market the land on which that pad was built would be connected to the resident houses via easement considerations, and most likely the company would not even be able to build that pad there without the residents' collective agreement. Same goes for polluted water.

    Third, still, see, you have a strong opinion on the subject, and the situation upset you enough to not support free markets in general; do you not think that your customer decisions are unaffected by this, and that there are no millions people like you out there who have market preferences as a result and, say, boycott certain companies? The companies pay for their behaviors, hence there is only so much they can partake in them before they start losing profits seriously.
    What do you think happens: a company ruins lives of everyone in a large area, and next day they go happily shopping at that company's stores? People sometimes dump their spouses over one tiny argument, yet getting poisoned by water with waste in it is going to make them okay with having a relationship with the company? Come on.

    You have a strange idea that free market supporters somehow idealise human beings; in my view, it is actually state supporters who do so, assuming that, through some arcane democratic mechanisms, people given all the power in the world to employ legalised violence to get the population to play their tune - will work hard to benefit the population, like noble selfless angels. Now this is a naive idea, if I have ever heard one.
    What is great about free markets is that they work despite all the human flaws, unlike, say, socialism that can only work in a world where all people are perfect and selfless. Even totalitarian states have tried markets free in many regards to a great success. The reason markets work is precisely because they are guided by rules of mathematics, not morals and emotions: if your business model is not effective, then you will have no profit, no matter what notions of "fairness" you might have. To succeed, you have to learn the rules of the game and perfect your model to please as many customers as possible.
    That is what the companies like Shell have done: while you may dislike some of their practices, people regularly vote for them with their wallets, and products they supply people with people value much higher than some minor inconveniences on the societal scale. And same goes for Comcast: millions people use Comcast, because they value its product high enough to close their eyes on some minor things - Comcast is hated by many people, but when millions people do not hate it and use it, then what is the problem? Nobody is supposed to please everyone. You do not have to be loved by all members of the sex you are attracted to in the world to have a happy relationship; you just have to be loved by one. Shell does not have to be loved by everyone; it just has to be loved by a small fraction of customers, and not upset the rest too much.

    It seems to me that you are partaking in the nirvana fallacy, saying that free markets are not good because they are not perfect, or because humans are not perfect or rational. Well, it is okay not to defend free markets, but this is a pretty weak reason for that.

    There is no such fact as "Comcast sucks"; it is a purely subjective evaluation. I have been very happy with its products, and so have millions other customers.
    Now, I personally am a rugged pragmatist; I will use the best product regardless of anything. If I learn tomorrow that Shell flays children alive daily, I will keep buying their gas. That is just who I am. 
    But most people are not like me. Now, if everyone was like me, well... I struggle to decide between whether the world would be great, or it would be a nightmare. Or maybe a mix of both. Which, in my book, is better than grey boring monotony, but, again, that is just me.
  • @MayCaesar I understand your argument perfectly well, my argument is that private enterprise has no incentive to please customers, to collaborate with competitors, to not partake in too many unethical corporate behaviors, to pay workers well, etc. and if fact, in many circumstances has a lot on incentive to do the opposite, and I think I have given adequate proof of this dark reality.

    Consider this for example:
    The gas pads that disturb residents create a strong negative externality, and the owner of those pads on a free market with functional private arbitration system is going to have to pay huge compensations to the residents.
    This is exactly the opposite if what would happen, lets be honest. The farmer or residents don't have the funds to pay for a private arbitration court. This means the court has no incentive to do anything but except the bribes from the oil monopolies.

    Boycotts don't really work.
    https://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/news/2017/king-corporate-boycotts.html
    On top of this, how do you boycott an industrial product like natural gas? A lot of it gets sold overseas or to power plants, which then gets mixed with power from other companies. It just isn't practical. This is of course all assuming people don't jump straight to violence.

    You have a strange idea that free market supporters somehow idealise human beings; in my view, it is actually state supporters who do so, assuming that, through some arcane democratic mechanisms, people given all the power in the world to employ legalised violence to get the population to play their tune - will work hard to benefit the population, like noble selfless angels. Now this is a naive idea, if I have ever heard one.
    Democracy and statism are fundamentally incompatible. In fact, the idea of democracies and republics is more or less formed around the idea of free enterprise, that is to say the group of people who live in one area should have collective control over the entire region so that each of them can specialize.

    I'm not arguing against free markets, I'm arguing against unregulated markets, there is a huge difference here. What I am saying is that market forces where people "vote with their wallets" maximizes neither economic potential nor social longevity, nor minimizes human rights abuses. What I am arguing here is that if there exists a motivation for a company to do harm, it will do harm. Simple as that. The only way to solve that is through some combined social structure which prevents such abuses from occurring. Just relying on boycotts and customer satisfaction isn't good enough specifically because there are "rugged pragmatists" who don't give a F*** about human rights abuses and would with a very psychopathic mindset accept whatever advantage they can get from whatever. This just isn't a sustainable model for human freedom.

    While "Comcast sucks" is my subjective opinion, it is an objective truth that Comcast has one of the lowest American Customer Satisfaction indexes of all US companies. It is an objective truth that Comcast participates in shady business practices. Have you heard the Ryan Block phone call?

    https://soundcloud.com/ryan-block-10/comcastic-service
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    @Happy_Killbot

    But how is private enterprise ever going to make any money at all, if nobody likes their products and services, considering that there are many companies around that offer products and services that they do? How is it going to attract workers if it offers lower pay than the competitors? How is it going to get away with rampant corruption inside eating its productivity, when the competitors do not have that corruption?
    I have never heard plausible answers to these questions, yet the narrative keeps coming up all the time these days. I always advise people in such cases to try a very small business: selling one type of wholesale products on Amazon. It is hard for one to imagine the insane level of competition on a developed market without getting to see it from the business perspective.

    Arbitration courts do not have to be expensive; in fact, in private lawsuits typically the targeted company ends up paying for everything.

    Boycotts obviously work, their costs just are not obvious, because rarely a boycott gets to the point where the company goes bankrupt (although it does happen). Considering how narrow profit margins nowadays usually is, even if 1% of your yesterday's customers boycott your products, it can seriously undermine your budget. And it does not take a lot of mistakes on the company part to lose 1% of its customers; look at how fast things can get out of hand even if you do not make any real mistakes and just fail to innovate enough:

    You do not have to boycott an entire product (although some people do, switching to electric or hybrid cars; I drive a hybrid and fuel approximately 50% times as often as most other drivers, costing the gas companies profit), you can just boycott the few specific abusers.

    Collective control and free enterprise are very different things. You cannot be a free enterpreneur when your actions are controlled by a collective. It is also not a practical idea from the performance standpoint; businesses have to have laser-focused business models, and when every member of the collective wants to do a different thing and some kind of voting process decides the collective compromise, then the business will never go anywhere.

    How can a societal structure prevent abuses, when it also may have motivation to do harm, only this time to the entire population? You are saying that one company cannot be trusted to not do harm, but one coercive monopoly controlling the entire population can? How does this work logically?
    I think you are looking for something that does not exist. It is okay to be concerned with the fact that some companies might have incentives to do harm, but using this fact to completely dismiss this model without considering the possibility that, perhaps, this is the best that can be done and harm will always be done anyway, is fallacious.
    Lastly, I personally do not really care about maximising some metrics. I care about people being free to live their lives by their own rules for as much as it is possible, without infringing on each other's rights. Whether it maximises GDP per capita, life expectancy, etc. is secondary - although, given the general trends (the freer the society over a large period of time, the better its performance in virtually all relevant aspects), I do expect these variables to take quite high values in a really free system.

    Well, it depends, again, on what metric you use to evaluate Comcast. Like I said before, I only care about quality of product and ignore all other considerations; Comcast can be enslaving children in North Korea, and I will speak against that, but I will still use their products. I am not a very social being in this regard; I am a highly opportunistic person, and while I personally will not mistreat anyone, I will sometimes deal with those who will mistreat people who I have nothing to do with.
    What other people are dissatisfied with when dealing with Comcast, I am not.
    Considering that Comcast is still around and is making fantastic profits, it seems to have something that a lot of people find valuable. Again, you do not have to please everyone; you have to please a large number of customers. Which is another great feature of competition: each customer can find the product that is best for them. You do not like Coca-Cola - try Pepsi-Cola; you do not like Pepsi-Cola - try Ohana.
  • @MayCaesar ;
    "But how is private enterprise ever going to make any money at all, if nobody likes their products and services, considering that there are many companies around that offer products and services that they do?"
    There are tons of reasons this could happen. Addiction, sunk cost fallacies, monopoly, forced adoption, maybe the competition is still just worse or no better, just to name a few

    "How is it going to attract workers if it offers lower pay than the competitors?"
    This is silly, they can't go to the competitors because people will already be employed there. The number of jobs is a finite resource, so some people are going to have to accept lower paying jobs, and there might or might not be any correlation with actual skill or competence. 

    "How is it going to get away with rampant corruption inside eating its productivity, when the competitors do not have that corruption?"
    I see no reason why internal corruption should correlate with unethical business practices.

    So mySpace lost to Facebook, which did a lot of unethical things, like sell everyone's data to advertisers and deliberately acted to interfere with elections. The theory that the competition should be better off with no internal corruption doesn't stand up to the evidence, and doing one of the things from my original argument- suppressing it's competitors.
    https://www.dailydot.com/debug/leaked-documents-facebook-unethical/

    With companies collaboration is going to be much more abundant, as they can actually make mutually beneficial deals, while animals operate on pure instincts and cannot forecast the benefits of working together.

    What I really talk about is what incentives there are. Incentives essentially mean behaviors that are rewarded. My claim is that there are strong incentives to please customers, to collaborate with competitors, to not partake in too many unethical corporate behaviors, to pay workers well, etc. It does not mean that people will always actually act on these incentives, but it does mean that they will be inclined to do so, and that is the best any system can do.
    Collective control and free enterprise are very different things. You cannot be a free enterpreneur when your actions are controlled by a collective. It is also not a practical idea from the performance standpoint; businesses have to have laser-focused business models, and when every member of the collective wants to do a different thing and some kind of voting process decides the collective compromise, then the business will never go anywhere.

    Before you talked about how companies would have incentive to work together, but now you 180 and are totally opposed to it. When I talk about collective decision making, these are the same as companies collaborating. Consider that if your company buys raw iron ore and scrap metal and electrical power and then uses this to smelt iron to forge steel for various purposes, you are reliant on the iron supplier and the power companies. If one of these makes a decision, it affects you. So companies will tend to either vertically integrate or work towards mutual cooperation, depending on how complex the overall sales process is. (less complex more vertical) In a complex interdependent market, there will always be a social trend towards collective cooperation. Typically this takes the form of democracy or oligarchy. When the market is not very complex there will be a trend towards autocracy.

    "How can a societal structure prevent abuses, when it also may have motivation to do harm, only this time to the entire population? You are saying that one company cannot be trusted to not do harm, but one coercive monopoly controlling the entire population can? How does this work logically?"

    What is important to understand is the statecraft theory above. The motivations to do social harm exist when there is no motivation for collective cooperation. This is firmament behind why cooperation can not always be trusted, because some times they trend towards vertical integration which is by nature very autocratic. A state which is organized in this way (i.e one resource countries like Venezuela) will always have motivation to do harm specifically for this reason. This is why things like wealth inequality are so concerning, because they are indicative of a trend towards a more vertical society which has fewer people in charge.

    Lastly, I personally do not really care about maximising some metrics. I care about people being free to live their lives by their own rules for as much as it is possible, without infringing on each other's rights. Whether it maximises GDP per capita, life expectancy, etc. is secondary - although, given the general trends (the freer the society over a large period of time, the better its performance in virtually all relevant aspects), I do expect these variables to take quite high values in a really free system.
    I don't think an unregulated market has any chance of maximizing personal freedoms across the board. In order to do this, to maximize total freedom for everyone, there has to be limits to what each person can do, specifically to prevent them from taking advantage of other people. This is the true reason why freer societies do better. The reality is, that the monarch or dictator has much more freedom than the average US citizen, but the sum of all freedoms in the US outnumber the total freedom of those in dictatorships. An unbridled capitalist system will run into this problem, because the markets will tend to provide increased freedoms for some, but will come at the cost of violating the freedoms of others.

    I think the point about comcast being generally shitty has been driven home enough. Quality does not automatically equate to success.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    edited March 23
    @Happy_Killbot

    But, again, think about how the companies could get to that state in the first place. Take monopoly, for example; how can a company that offers products that no one likes ever become a monopoly? A company can only become a monopoly as a result of providing a very large numbers of customers with the products they like. Then, if it somehow manages to become a monopoly (which on a free market is highly unlikely), it can start getting careless with its products - but it still has to please its customers to some extent, otherwise competitors will arise despite all possible ways the monopoly can try to prevent it from happening.

    The number of jobs is not a constant; the more companies in the field arise, the more job positions there will be. If there are just three companies paying pennies to their workers, and a four company arises and offers them real income, then what reason will they have to keep working at those three companies?

    But Facebook is a better product than mySpace from the societal perspective, which is why so many people voluntarily switched to it and never looked back. Facebook is certainly not a perfect product, but it is good enough that people keep using it and not switching to one of the countless alternatives despite their data being sold.
    Again, I am not saying that companies are never going to employ unethical practices; I only said that doing so bears heavy costs. If a company produces products that people like so much that they are willing to overlook highly unethical practices - well, then that is that.
    Think about it also this way: Facebook is a free service, that is its customers do not pay anything for using it. One could say that sharing their data is how they actually pay for it - money is not the only currency available on the market, after all. People consider it a fair trade, or else they would not be using Facebook.

    No, there is a difference: companies collaborating is a result of completely voluntary agreements, while being an enterpreneur controlled by a collective results in coercion preventing you from making such agreements. If you own a company and want to collaborate with another company, you can do that; if your collective owns a company and you want to collaborate with another company, then this will be conditional upon the agreement of the collective.
    I think this is something people do not understand about collectivism: they tend to view it as just people working together for the benefit of all. Nothing could be further from the truth, however: this is how individualist cooperation works. Collectivist cooperation works in the other direction: not from individuals to community, but from community to individuals. In case of collectivism, it is the community that makes decisions for individuals, not the individuals who make decisions for the community.

    I do not see how vertical integration is autocratic if it is voluntary; when 5 friends play D&D and choose one of them to be the dungeon master, it does not make the nature of their game autocratic, as nobody has forced anyone into anything.
    I agree that motivations to do social harm exist when there is no motivation for collective cooperation, but in practice there are motivations for both. The collective cooperation logically should offer generally better results on a competitive market than doing social harm, just because a cooperation of two entities leads to sinergy that makes the collective performance larger than the sum of individual performances, while doing social harm leads to the opposite - but, of course, it does not have to always be the case, since, again, we are all humans and institutions we build are all flawed.
    The reason democracy is superior to autocracy in terms of governmental organisation is precisely because the government is fundamentally a coercive institution, hence the more people manage it, the more this coercive power is dispersed, allowing individual members to keep each other in check and, if they have pathological inclinations, to be able to deal as little damage as possible. But non-coercive institutions do not work the same way, and the "power" they have is of a very different nature. The power you have when you have an apple and offer it to an apple lover in exchange for something is of a very different nature, than the power you have when you have a loaded gun in your hands and point it at someone, demanding something in exchange for their lives. In the first case your power is exercised through mutually beneficial interaction; in the second case you extract value from another person and give nothing in return (or, at least, do not have to give anything in return).

    But there are limits to what each person can do on a free market; free market is not an animal kingdom anarchy. The market forces create mechanisms limiting what people can do.
    I do not know if the personal freedoms are going to be maximised compared to every other possible system; that would be a strong claim to make, and depend on the metric used to measure personal freedoms in a given society. I do think, however, that strong shrinkage of a central coercive organisation is a very good start of a journey towards freeing the individual from the whims of others.

    Quality does not equate success, but perceived quality generally does. And we get into a very murky area here, as perceived quality can sometimes take very strange forms - for example, people uploading 10 second long cat videos on Youtube often get millions views and a lot of ad revenue.
    But that is just how we humans work; we are not all perfectly rational robots caring only about pure materialistic efficiency.
  • @MayCaesar

    You make the assumption that the company has multiple customers, but in some situations, the company might only have one customer or the product or service is something that is self-promulgating. What I mean by self-promulgating is that it creates it's own demand by presenting or producing a problem which doesn't exist without it. Addictive substances fall into this category heavily since people who don't use drugs don't need drugs.

    The number of jobs is not a constant; the more companies in the field arise, the more job positions there will be. If there are just three companies paying pennies to their workers, and a four company arises and offers them real income, then what reason will they have to keep working at those three companies?
    For the same reason I have said, and also the fact that all else considered the company that pays its employees more is going to be less competitive because it is expending more resources on production. Suppose each of the other companies has 10 jobs each, the addition of another company is going to increase the value to 40, but that doesn't mean the industry can make 33% more sales, because the demand hasn't changed. This means that each company will need to downsize slightly. Depending on the situation, this could be more or less efficient because of overhead costs.

    I don't think that just throwing ethics out the window is going to accomplish anything positive. People just considering something a fair trade is insufficient for moral action. I think that at the base of things this is where we fundamentally differ. You are willing to accept anything as moral so long as it is consensual, I require that things must be both consensual and knowledgeable. For example, when I was a kid my younger brother didn't understand the concept of money having different value, and would count each coin or bill as being "1 money" So I told him that each paper money was worth less than metal money because, obviously, and we traded. You would argue this is a fair transaction $20 for $0.01, I no longer would. (my mom made me give the money back)

    I'm not talking about collective ownership here. An entrepreneur would not be part of the collective, however they might willingly join. That being said, if they violate the rules of the collective when not part of it but within it's jurisdiction, they will be subject to retribution on behalf of the collective. The collective makes decisions for the collective. If people don't agree with those decisions, they can leave.
    I do not see how vertical integration is autocratic if it is voluntary; when 5 friends play D&D and choose one of them to be the dungeon master, it does not make the nature of their game autocratic, as nobody has forced anyone into anything.
    I don't see how this has anything to do with anything.

    Let me try to explain this in a more intuitive way. Lets suppose there are two regions, the desert region and the temperate region. One obviously has much more access to water than the other does. In the desert, there might only be just enough to go around for drinking and for farming. So by and large a single person will end up in control, because this resource is so valuable that fighting over it is justified. The end result is a society that will be very autocratic, one leader who distributes only just as much water as is necessary to his people and controls are the farming. In fact such a society not only will trend this way but it is in everyone's interest that it is this way, even though this leads to a scenario where the people have virtually no rights or power.
    In the temperate region however, water is plentiful so there is no limit to the amount of drinking, and farming and animals. In this society, it is almost impossible for one person to gain control because multiple hierarchies can exist, and are mostly unlimited. If any one tries to gain control, the others can stop it from doing so. This system will trend toward democracy and personal freedoms with mutual cooperation between each.
    But there are limits to what each person can do on a free market; free market is not an animal kingdom anarchy. The market forces create mechanisms limiting what people can do.
    I do not know if the personal freedoms are going to be maximised compared to every other possible system; that would be a strong claim to make, and depend on the metric used to measure personal freedoms in a given society. I do think, however, that strong shrinkage of a central coercive organisation is a very good start of a journey towards freeing the individual from the whims of others.
    Guess you haven't studied biology much, there are also limits in the animal kingdom, such as the population being controlled by resource availability creating rough sine-waves in the population. (more die out in years of scarcity, resulting in fewer members, which result in more the next year)

    The US government is definitely become too authoritarian, and there are a lot of factors going into that. Perhaps one is that we are moving towards more vertical integration of companies which is favoring autocratic governance. I don't think that eliminating or minimizing government will solve that problem, because as suggested above all major businesses will just combine forces to form a collective that will be worse than before.Maybe this is where we already are.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3208 Pts
    edited March 24
    @Happy_Killbot

    If a company has only one customer, then its existence depends on that customer being pleased, as, should they become displeased, they can switch to a different company. And if there is only one company and only one customer, then we are just talking about an individual set of transactions, and these transactions do not affect anyone else, hence the situation has no contribution to our discussion.
    I think you are oversimplifying the drug case by claiming that the interaction between the customer and the company creates a problem that does not exist otherwise. The reasons the company managed to sell any drugs to the customer in the first place is because the customer had a problem that the company offered to solve. So the actual interaction occurs for the mutual benefit. That it later creates new problems is a natural consequence of overconsumption; it is much like people who eat too much at McDonalds and get overweight as a result. It is not that the interaction between McDonalds and the customers creates the problem, but it is that the customers choose to consume the products they purchase in a specific way - it is completely their choice. Nothing prevents a person from buying a cheeseburger and just donating it to a homeless person, for example.
    What people do with the products they purchase is completely their business.

    I am not sure how your job example supports your point, as the fact that there are multiple companies offering jobs remains, and the pay and benefits offered will have a direct influence on the quality of workers each company will be able to realistically hire.

    I do not think ignorance excuses reckless behaviors. It does not work that way in the current system either: if you do not know, for example, that cars do not just belong to everyone, hop into someone's car and start driving it, then you will be arrested for car stealing, even if you actually genuinely did not know that this was not permitted.
    It is a duty of each customer to educate themselves before purchasing a product. They do not have to do that, in which case they accept certain risks. This is how life works: there are risks in life, and nobody owes us all information about all risks we might be subjected to when we take any possible action.
    I am not saying that I support plainly using people's ignorance against them (although there is an argument to be made in support of that, appealing to its meritocratic tendency to discourage ignorant choices and encourage informed ones), but I do not think doing so should be directly punishable. Let the people punish the seller doing so however they see fit by voting with their wallets.
    I understand your point of view, but, plainly speaking, I do not think it is anyone's business what two consenting individuals choose to do between themselves. Claiming otherwise would open a can of worms that, in its logical end, would lead to advocacy for a totalitarian ultra-surveillance state.

    But how does your collective system differ from a regular free market? On a free market nobody prohibits a group of people from opening a collectively owned business. People who want to join such business and are allowed to do so by the collective do so. Those who do not can instead go work for a shareholder-owned business, or open their own.

    Your extreme example, again, misses the principle of easements. Assuming there is so little water existing in the desert region, and knowing that water is vital for people's survival, it would be considered just in this particular case for people to be able to drink that water as it it belonged to no one. In practice, I suppose, people would have to agree to some sort of collective rationing in order to survive together and maybe sign some contract.
    This is a very unrealistic example, however; I would argue that in such dire conditions people would care very little about the system of economical organisation, and everything would be decided with brute force. Free markets do require some basic conditions, such as presence of resources required for survival that are relatively easily accessible, lack of an active civil war, etc.
    We do not live in a world of such extreme scarcity, and every truly scarce and unreproducible resource constitutes a luxury that nobody really needs.

    There are limits in any system and even lack of system. But in animal kingdom anarchy those limits are mostly defined by two things: basic need to acquire food and physical fitness. An elder lion taking food away from other lions by force with its sheer strength is not quite similar to people on a free market voluntarily exchanging goods; it is rather that second case from my example.
    Once again, coercion and voluntarism are fundamentally very different. Coercion leads to extraction of resources, while voluntarism leads to mutually beneficial exchange of resources. First is authoritarianism, second is liberalism.

    I do not see how major businesses can create a quasi-governmental structure: there is a qualitative leap from voluntary interaction to coercion that needs to occur, and that requires a relatively unified structure to occur. You could say that businesses indeed would behave in a way that does not involve coercion, but leads to a similar outcome for the people due to eroding competition, which might be the case - but that is still better than explicit coercion in my book.
    Businesses do not combine forces same way two mafia clans do when they want to wipe out the third clan. Businesses combine forces to produce superior products that they can then sell for disproportionally higher profit. There are few other reasons for businesses to work together on a free market. There are on a state-run market, which, I believe, we have already discussed here.

    ---

    Something I think I do not understand in your position fundamentally is how the alleged transition from a private corporation or a group of private corporations to an oppressive coercive organisation can actually occur. This is what a lot of people criticising free markets assume, but they never explain the exact mechanism of that happening, and that has never happened in human history so far.

    People usually make arguments like this, "Well, they will amass too much wealth and power and then be able to dictate conditions to everyone else". But that is too vague an explanation, close to a tautology: "They will become very powerful and start using this power against others". How exactly would this process occur?

    I noted before that market power is fundamentally different from coercive power; it is like offering someone to exchange their computer for your gun, and pointing your gun at them and demanding that they give you their computer.
    How exactly does market power convert into coercive power in the conditions where the state is separated from the market, and on what timescale?
  • @MayCaesar

    When I argue that information is a crucial component of moral interaction, what I am essentially arguing against is the authoritarian tendency of private interests to manipulate information in favor of themselves. For example, a cigarette company has a vested interest in spreading disinformation about the danger of smoking. So to the consumer, they would receive at best two conflicting views, one of which is a complete lie. We see this today in the global warming denial agenda, which vested oil interests directly influence and manipulate information on climate change, specifically because they do not want to suffer the consequences to their business if the free market was allowed to run it's course. I think this is a major hurdle to any free market, while in theory social Darwinism seems coherent, the reality is that people are creative and can always find ways to break the rules which might allow some unforeseen advantage.

    This view doesn't support a surveillance state because that would potentially violate the consent part of every moral action, things have to be both informed and consent must be given. For example, some one might say to another person, "I'm going to give you food, water, a place to live, and even help you find a wife and start a family, but you have to do some work for me" and people might agree to slavery. This is uniformed consent. Contrast this with: "You will do all the work asked of you, and in return you will receive food, water, and a place to live, and you will not have the right to leave unless I say so because from this point forward you are my property, whether you like it or not" That is informed non-consent. In the case of surveillance, those who do not consent to being tracked or who are unaware that they are being tracked are being taken advantage of. In the case of Facebook, what they did and do are very much immoral from this perspective.

    My analogy of water and autocracy isn't just some BS I made up on the spot, it is based on empirical scientific observation of the reality that irrigated regions tend to be more autocratic than rain-fed regions.
    http://web.econ.ku.dk/bentzen/irrigation_and_autocracy.pdf

    Perhaps my extrapolation is a little too far, specifically because the processes leading to wealth and power inequality in the US and across the globe is different, but the end result is still the same. When the power rests in the hands of a few, the many suffer. When the power rests in the hands of many, few suffer. The unfortunate reality is that capitalism has a natural tendency to concentrate power. In time, this should lead to autocracy and suffering.
    I do not see how major businesses can create a quasi-governmental structure: there is a qualitative leap from voluntary interaction to coercion that needs to occur, and that requires a relatively unified structure to occur. You could say that businesses indeed would behave in a way that does not involve coercion, but leads to a similar outcome for the people due to eroding competition, which might be the case - but that is still better than explicit coercion in my book.
    Businesses do not combine forces same way two mafia clans do when they want to wipe out the third clan. Businesses combine forces to produce superior products that they can then sell for disproportionally higher profit. There are few other reasons for businesses to work together on a free market. There are on a state-run market, which, I believe, we have already discussed here.
    What is the federal reserve? ( Surprise! it's a private company if you were not already aware)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di8MvCpTZ5M

    Something I think I do not understand in your position fundamentally is how the alleged transition from a private corporation or a group of private corporations to an oppressive coercive organisation can actually occur. This is what a lot of people criticising free markets assume, but they never explain the exact mechanism of that happening, and that has never happened in human history so far.
    I'm not so sure that it has never really happened. If you have read or are aware of the Epic of Gilgamesh, you will know that Gilgamesh is a merchant-king. Perhaps this did happen in the past, the wealthiest individuals were granted power by the people in exchange for protection, and then things just sort of happened. For that matter, we might ask how any society was formed to begin with.

    Also like this:
    https://www.businessinsider.com/libertarian-peter-thiel-utopia-seasteading-institute-2018-3

    People usually make arguments like this, "Well, they will amass too much wealth and power and then be able to dictate conditions to everyone else". But that is too vague an explanation, close to a tautology: "They will become very powerful and start using this power against others". How exactly would this process occur?
    Exactly the way it happened in reality. We can just look at all the cases of this actually happening on repeat. All the boom and bust cycles since the industrial revolution 
    I noted before that market power is fundamentally different from coercive power; it is like offering someone to exchange their computer for your gun, and pointing your gun at them and demanding that they give you their computer.
    How exactly does market power convert into coercive power in the conditions where the state is separated from the market, and on what timescale?
    You know, this entire time we have been discussing this it kind of seems like we have been focused on material goods and only a little on services, but we haven't even mentioned banks until just now. How did that happen? that should have been 95% of the conversation right there.

    So you ask how does market power turn into coercion, I think I just need to demonstrate how someone who doesn't own something can end up owning something the way a bank does. Let's say there is someone who owns a pricey asset, such as land or a house and they want to sell it to another person who they do not trust and who doesn't have the money to buy the house right now anyways. They can not just get the money from the bank in the form of a loan, because the bank might not have enough to do that. So instead what the bank does is offer the seller a bond with a low interest rate which will be stored in the bank, and once mature will be worth more than it's initial value. The home purchased by the bank for this bond. The bank then sells the house to the untrusted person with interest. Each month the person must pay a mortgage on the home for that value. If they can not pay or refuse to pay, the banker can kick them out because the bank owns the home until the mortgage is payed off. This means that the buyer of the home doesn't really own the home but they are allowed to live there and do what they want, and the banker does own it even if they didn't have enough money to afford it. The seller is making interest on the bonds for which the home was purchased, so they are happy.

    The seller is now being coerced, because if they do not continue to pay the fees they abandon all rights to the home and the bank reposes it, meaning they would effectively lose all that they have already payed toward their mortgage. The bank is effectively making wealth in this way, but it is inherently exploitative.
    At some point in the distant past, the universe went through a phase of cosmic inflation, Stars formed, planets coalesced, and on at least one of them life took root and developed into the human race, who conquered fire, built societies and developed technology .
    All of that so we can argue about nothing.
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