25 November 2012

How we got where we are in terms of reduced liberty

Back in the day there were very few restrictions on business.  As a result, businesses generally did what businesses do, which is make as much of a profit as they can.  As much as a free market cheerleader as I am, in the back of my mind lurks Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and the consequences of an industry, even a society, of unrestrained capitalists perpetuating economic exploitation of workers and consumers.

This led to Big Unions, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Had the free market been able to behave in a moral manner, with responsible use of resources and labor, then perhaps we wouldn't have needed more big government and socialism to reform the system.

Here I sit with the modern convenience of the internet, with full confidence that the food I purchase has met with certain standards in production (a necessary government function based on the deplorable state of some slaughterhouses "back in the day") and enjoy electricity produced by coal fired power plants that put out chemically inert reaction products (H20, and CO2) instead of a yellow plume of sulfuric acid.  I enjoy a river that doesn't catch fire.

Hippies in America talk about how abusive we are to the land, without acknowledging that Conservation goes back a very long time.  Between 1900 and 2000 in our fair country we saw a massive stabilization of forest land, even as timber products continue to rise (largely through more efficient use of stock).

The free man's choice, "if you don't like it, leave" is great in theory.  However in practice, the ability to leave requires a level of resources that many just don't have, whether through legitimate poverty or poor resource management.

The Constitution of the United States was never set up to deal with immoral businessmen, so Congress, operating under the "General Welfare" and "Interstate Commerce" clauses set about to remedy the situation (and therefor ensure their re-election).

We know through the social experiments in Germany and Korea that the free market system produces the most wealth for the most people, and that the fairest system of Socialism produces the most misery for the most people.  But we have never had a society where businessmen didn't go straight to a "rush to the bottom" when it comes to ethical practices, either through government standards or other.  Minimum standards become maximum standards quite quickly in most cases.

History is paved with very good reasons why we got to where we are, with a massive bureaucracy and intrusive nanny state government.  And I like living in a nation where I don't get all my minerals in one breath.  So the question becomes, how do we ensure wise stewardship of shared resources (land, water, air) without resorting to a massive Federal bureaucracy?  How do we provide legal protections for citizens from exploiting employers (no one should owe their soul to the company store)?

Can we accomplish all of that through a robust legal system with guidance to jurors?  Can we even trust jurors to act as citizens instead of socialist activists?  Things I have been pondering.


Anonymous said...

Your observations on the abuses under laissez-faire capitalism are indeed valid. It is unfortunate that the remedies evolved to be as toxic as the conditions they were supposed to correct. It hurts my soul to see the Republic of the Founders wither, to be replaced by a hybrid system of Fascism and Socialism. The unholy alliance of trans-national mega-corporations (Tranzis - has a nice ring,no?) and a Leviathan Gov't securing re-election by supplying the FSA with cell phones and high octane malt liquor is creating a society the equal of any in history for the ability to abuse power.

The only silver lining is that it is not a sustainable system. At some point TPTB will run out of other peoples' money and Matt Bracken's essay on musical chairs will play out. At this point my salient ambition is to survive the first die-off.

Hope all had a happy Thanksgiving.

Cheers, _revjen45

Anonymous said...

"The Constitution of the United States was never set up to deal with immoral businessmen"

What? The CONstitution was set up BY immoral businessmen, seeking increased advantage.

Do you know who the largest polluter in the US is? It is the federal government. Which by the way also LICENSES and permits other polluters.

Why do you think the railroads became so powerful in the 1800's? It was due to the advantage gained through politics - an advantage which DISadvantaged competitors, and discouraged (to say the least) new entrants into business.

Government HATES small business - regardless of the party in office or lip service to the contrary. Small business cannot, does not act as polluter or "exploiter" (marxist term)- only big business with political clout can do that.

Food "safety" laws were passed to ensure that consumers would have faith in products of large manufacturers, while at the same time creating a barrier to business entry and continuation for their much smaller competitors. And how has that worked?

When we read that SEVERAL MILLION POUNDS of "government inspected" beef is recalled - only AFTER folks have died from eating it, or that thousands have been injected with contaminated drugs- again, discovered only after the fact - again, from a government "inspected" & licensed facility - or that thousands have lost millions to financial chicanery in an SEC regulated institution - despite "safeguards" then -

And you believe that government is here to help you?


Anonymous said...

Remove the condition of taboo that pervades any debate. Most of what passes for intellectual debate these days is basically an effort to install a taboo upon an issue. Such as the hypothesis of AGW or our welfare state's burning bush of the Blank Slate Theory, those two items have a priest class with its taboos, and frankly both are embarrasingly stupid.

And if one is to engage in a debate with someone over any public policy its best to just ask them what is taboo and must not be mentioned. Once they tell you and they will then you know the weak spot.

Use this approach then you can quibble the details of whatever public policy you wish to address or change.


AM said...


I'm going to try to be polite, but your rhetorical idiocy is challenging my patience.

You see a conspiracy where none exists and then twist history to try to support it.

Benjamin Franklin must have been quite the international financier, or Thomas Jefferson the steel baron. Oh wait, pre-industrial revolution... That is right, they were men of means and property, but not exactly owners of mega corporations.

The fact that a contaminated ground beef can be traced by lot number from slaughterhouse to dinner table is what you get from having a regulatory agency that is doing their job. Instead of "cook your beef to 190 degrees for 5 minutes" just to be safe.

The financial chicanery that recently happened is different from the crash of of 29 how exactly? Oh that is right, it wasn't around to deal with it, and was created after the fact.

You expect government to prescient in dealing with substandard food and drug processing. Why don't you polish your ball and see how good you are at predicting the future.

Saying that the .gov can't predict the future and therefore it is not acting in your best interest is two separate thoughts that are not connected anywhere except in your brain.

Bad things happen. Sometimes it is good to have a system in place to deal with the aftermath of a bad thing happening. Don't get me started on the fiasco that is FEMA (an organization that shouldn't exist in any government).

Anonymous said...

The cure is as bad as the disease because it was intended to be so.

The "conservation" movement enabled the feds to land grab wholesale up to 70% of some states west of the Mississippi, largely for the benefit of eastern billionaires and their corporations (mining and railroad monopolies are easier with one-stop shopping at the Interior Dept.), and a few well-placed locals aping the eastern example.

Revoke all federal regulations not actually introduced, debated, and approved in Congress, and most of the trouble (and lengthening shelf-loads of federal regs) would go away never to return. Senators and congressmen would be on the hook for asinine rules, because they'd have to put their names on them. So would the President. BATFE regs? EPA? DHS? BLM? OSHA? ABCDEFG? Gone in 60 seconds.

Force the feds to cough up all federal lands, and lease the National Park Service to any number of non-profits, subject to federal audit & inspection, and re-award the leases every 5 years. Yosemite and Yellowstone wouldn't suffer a bit, but the feds would lose the ability to grab land every time they get an itch.

Allow consumers and businesses to sue federal inspectors and regulators personally - not the agencies, which justs becomes a tax on stupidity. If Homer Dumbass could face a felony sentence for sloppy beef inspection, he'll damn sure sniff better. And if Suzy No-One's-Gonna-Sue-Me was facing a $40M damage award for dragging her feet on a cure for cancer, files would move from her In box to her Out box in weeks instead of decades. And if a court finds Jack Ash at the EPA illegally declared your yard a wetland and he and his supervisor get a mandatory 20 year sentence and all personal assets seized in compensation, they'd better be damned sure before they try it. Any ruling not able to pass a jury smell test within 90 days is forfeit by the government.

There's no earthly reason a beat cop with just a sidearm is a million times more accountable than some pencil-pushing civil service affirmative action fucktard weilding the entire weight of the federal government.

There's nothing wrong with government putting a check on greedy people or business; the flaw is not balancing it with any accounability of the bureaucrats or bureaucracy to the people.

We've let Congress get away with chickenshitting out of their mandatory responsibilities, and it's killing us.


RegT said...

The answer is a bit more complex than any of you are willing to consider. Having worked for the Federal government at a VA hospital where the supervisors out-numbered the working medical staff, we RN's were required to do the work of two or three people because the Director got a bonus based on how many dollars he shaved from the budget - by not buying things the vets needed (donated by local businesses and people), by not replacing nurses and other staff who retired or quit, etc.

The meat inspectors are often veterinarians who are so often over-worked, with so many businesses to check, with so many tons of product to inspect, that it is physically impossible for them to do the job with the precision they know is required to keep us all safe.

True, some Federal employees in that situation become cynical and lackadaisical, but even those of us who wanted to do the best job we could, were not allowed to do so. I personally was given two weeks off without pay because I refused to give a vet a drug which he did not need, was a larger dose than permitted, and which would have left him with a permanent side effect (tardive dyskinesia). The nurse practitioner who prescribed it had _never_ seen the vet, was half asleep when he ordered it, and never came in to examine the vet.

I quit five months short of being able to draw retirement because we had gotten so under-staffed that it was unsafe for the vets and for staff.

Bottom line, everyone makes assumptions, many of which are incorrect. Nonetheless, AM is right that we do need a _minimum_ amount of government to prevent the Love Canal incidents, the poison beef that used to be shipped to cavalry units in the field, and the slave labor that existed in the coal mines and factories of years ago. It has simply swung too far the other way now.

The hard part is actually getting the minimum that is useful and effective. Figure out how to manage that, and we'll all get down on our knees and swear fealty to you.

Mt Top Patriot said...

I believe it is essential that States sovereignty, hence the sovereign will of the people who reside in each state, have say in who what and how it's resources, both natural and manufactured are used.
An example of how that can come about occurred during Gov. Sarah Palin's time in office. Where she and her Administration created a business/conservation structure of the oil and gas extraction industry where those resources where deemed property of the people of Alaska. That those resources are a legacy for present and future generations, and the business's and the state of Alaska are required to treat them as such as a prerequisite in their commerce. One interesting results of Gov. Palin's efforts was that not only did the people of Alaska receive yearly dividends in the largess of the resources, the State of Alaska itself realized a considerable revenue increase, but the business structure was such that the private enterprise extracting those resources realized far greater profits as a whole than under the crony capitalist system of graft/exploitation, political extortion it had created between itself and the political class running the state.

I believe North Dakota is about to undergo something similar.

As an example of the wonton abuse of resources and the criminal bedfellows of corruption of crony capitalism, look no further than the coal field states of Appalachia. These states are swimming in energy resources, from coal, to oil, to the immense gas plays of the Marcellus gas shale. The tax revenue stream from this incredibly abundant energy resource, along with the revenue from the permitting process, the market value of the extracted products, it all just as well may not even exist to the people of states like West Virginia.

In any case, it has to all go back to states rights and sovereignty. If it does not there is not much of an option that remains in righting the wrongs of a Leviathan that is totally out of control.

Many scoff at the idea of states secession, if it is going to happen, secession begins with each states sovereignty, especially economic sovereignty. Because after all, isn't it the truth of the federal carrot and stick acts monetary extortion that has created the entire mess in the first place? How the states are like heroine junkies, in having to get that next fix of federal funds, where they will do anything the pusher will tell them?

Anonymous said...

RegT, your personal tribulations, all too familiar, only demonstrate that they're not internally nor externally accountable.

How long would such a system last if all the supervisors at one VA hospital were sued civilly for criminal negligence by vets' families, with a busload of staff witnesses like you?

Cynical as I am, I'm guessing the first bunch that were stripped of everything they own, and subsequently scooped up by the local D. A. for criminal elder abuse - a crime in all 50 states - would lead in about 15 minutes to the rest of the system being a showcase rather than a gulag.

Ditto U.S.D.A. inspectors. Inspect the beef you can properly, let the rest rot, and see how well the undersecretary of Agriculture for personnel hiring could walk with a $2B negligence and damage lawsuit freight locomotive up his hindquarters, courtesy of the cattle industry. I expect the next day we'd see his successor with draft notices in hand for 30% of every vet school's grads ad infinitum, and lines around the block at the Agriculture Dept. to interview the new hires.

We (justifiably) have kittens over one crooked cop, but we roll over for legions of vastly more horrible bureaucrats because it's easier to crap manhole covers than it is to stop their shenanigans. That's a bug, not a feature.

Make everybody below cabinet head appointment civilly and criminally liable for their actions, and the abuses of a rampant runaway rogue bureacracy would be as troublesome as icebergs in Tampa Bay.


Anonymous said...

AM -
I'm pleased to have penetrated your mental fog. Obviously, you have presented businesses as a vast conspiracy with the ability to enslave workers, to force consumers to buy and eat filth, and pollute the surrounding area with impunity.

I'll break this to you gently - T Jefferson was not involved in the abomination known as the CONstitution. He was, in fact sent out of the country to avoid his oversight and public rejection of the fraud.

Has there never been a moment of consideration for you, regarding the dichotomies between the Declaration of Independence - penned by Jefferson - and the CONstitution? Are you not struck by the obvious contradictions between the two documents?

Now, you claim that without the presumed protections afforded through government we would be wallowing in filth, FORCED to work in unsanitary conditions, produce vile substances for human consumption - why, those are simply foolish.

Again, do you contend that government is here to help?

Are you a liberal arts major?


AM said...

Wow itor, you managed an ad hominem, straw man, and beg the question all in one response.

Bravo sir, with that many logical fallacies it is no wonder you are confused. Not that it should surprise me, Einstein did say that the two infinite things were "The Universe" and "Human Stupidity" and he wasn't sure about the former.

In case you are left wondering, dumbass, I just insulted you. If that went over your head I'll type slower next time.

Go study some history, hippy.