The government should

Sometimes conservatives get caught up in the argument from compassion, “I don’t believe anyone should suffer *blank* so the government should do something about it.” When stated that way, the best response is to simply ask, is the government competent do actually do so, and would individuals lose the right to do it for themselves?

The first question, it must be noted, the government is not generally better at any task than a business dedicated to the same task. Rather the best you can hope for long-term is mediocre price/performance. Generally without competition the cost per unit of quality rises, and the quality drops. Why wouldn’t it, as a sole provider isn’t going to have customers take their business elsewhere if they are dissatisfied. Shifting who pays doesn’t change the loss in productivity, either, so a nation where government dominates a sector is a poorer nation.

It also doesn’t really matter much if the government owns a sector, or merely regulates it to the point that it is indistinguishable from ownership. If businesses can’t differentiate, it isn’t that much different from there only being one business.

The second is likewise overlooked, but important. When the government provides, choice diminishes. You make the government’s responsibility to provide housing, they get to decide where you live. If not directly, they will still require some land and some money. The first may be yours, the second will be. If they are responsible for healthcare, they get to decide what is important enough to treat and when it’s no longer worth keeping you alive. The government is assumed to have an infinate purse, but in reality it too has a constrained budget, and without competition the prices it must pay are higher. On health, it could go the other way as well, if you had a terminal illness and you decided to let nature take its course, the government could forcefully keep you alive. Though honestly, they wouldn’t likely do that, as there is no incentive to do so.

Don’t stay silent on the things you hear the government should do, because it still leaves open the question, as Sowell pointed out, “at what cost.” If they don’t consider the costs, there are many things you could argue it’d be nice for government to do, but if you ask, can they do it as well as anyone else, much less better, and what would I potentially lose if they did, many things become less appealing.

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Crime shows are popular now, right?

Motive, method, and opportunity. Why did he do it? How did he do it? and why was he able to do it. These are the classic elements, and they should be considered in regard to the various mass shooters.

The motives appear to be to kill as many people as you can before you die, that there be enough people killed to make the shooter famous, and that they personally kill each person, demonstrating to the individuals that regardless of how small they seemed before, that they were the dominate figure now. Mass shooters have a high propensity toward saving a shell for themselves. Once they’ve succeeded, survival would basically be a downer. Before they’ve reached their threshold, you can even capture them alive. More often, anyway. They are different from bombers in that they seem to want to experience the hunt first-hand, and they tend not to have an exit strategy. They usually plan on dying, usually literally, and at the least, of being captured and executed or jailed for life. A poisoner or bomber’s play is that they’re smarter than their victims and their hunters. A mass shooter feels that they are a loser. Then they prove it.

Given the parameters of the motive, that survival isn’t expected, and the desire to personally kill people, we can ascertain three things.

First, that as the person already plans to die or be arrested, no law is going to serve as any deterrence. This isn’t to say that laws are unimportant, but rather the gun free zone sign will be of no deterrence. Likewise, all local rules will be ignored. No fine or prison term has any meaning to a corpse, and they’re committed to murder, which is worse than any other thing you seek to ban. They won’t care about any law at their destination, unless enforcement of that law might prevent them from getting to their targets. I imagine you’ll find most of them don’t speed on their way to their final destination, because they don’t want to be pulled over with a car full of guns.

Second, as the person wants to personally dominate over and kill people, a gun isn’t actually necessary. A knife or sword would also work, and in particular, bans on certain types of guns would have no real effect. Personal preference has even driven a few people to go the sword route even though a gun would probably be more effective. A knife is only inferior in that it requires more effort and the odds of someone defending are higher. The weapon only needs to work against unarmed targets at close range, and there are other choices out there.

Third, while these people are somewhat suicidal, they are also motivated by the body count they can achieve. How important they “really” are is expressed by how many they kill and how big they think the news coverage would be. They will thus avoid attacking places with high security, with few people, or a high likelihood of encountering other armed agents, who might prevent them from reaching their internal objective.

The method. The method in the mass shooting, is the gun. Looking above at the motivation, I don’t think that the gun is a necessary parameter, so long as they individually kill as many people as they can. At best it assures them of a higher “score,” and certainly, the method is chosen so as to allow them to accomplish their goal to the highest factor possible.. but if there were no guns, you’d see people running the gauntlet so long as:

  1. the media continues to report on other mass killer’s success. Particularly, if every gun were eliminated by magic and the media reported someone killed eight people with a spork, there would be another mass killing not long after.
  2. the number of people they can kill remains above the level to which they value their lives. If they feel they can only kill one or two people before being killed or captured, they won’t try. One or two isn’t really enough to become famous.
  3. they remain free until they finish gathering the materials and the nerve. There is a fairly good shot that the reason Jack the Ripper stopped killing is that he was thrown in an insane asylum by police who only had suspicions.

Finally, there is the opportunity. While someone who looks to do this doesn’t value their lives above their ambition, that isn’t to say they don’t value their lives at all. If mass shooters were satisfied with one or two, they’d employ different means. A large part of why they seek to kill so many is to attract media attention, so that people who were generally failures could at last scream to the world, “I matter!” If they were patient, or their animosity were great, they’d be a serial killer, or perhaps a suicide bomber. They don’t want to risk it. If they failed in their first attack or blew themselves up, they’d never be noticed. It must be public, in a place with many people, and people who can’t stop them. Thus, zones with lots of people but no real security, and where no one, or nearly no one is armed.

The left uses mass shootings to push for gun control.. though they don’t want gun control, they want gun elimination. Their argument boils down to that this is an attempt to remove the means. But, it is the twenty first century. Any town with a machinist potentially has a weapon-smith. No less than 1% of the population has a skill set compatible with making a deadly weapon. Actually eliminating guns as means would be terribly difficult for this reason, and because there are already so many. Removing all means is impossible, at best, you could reduce them. If killing in a way that will make you famous is the goal, it is hardly the ONLY means. Rather, the means are as numerous as their are ways to kill a human. This probably outnumbers the human population.

Gun free zones are an aspect of gun control that they can sell people, but what a gun free zone IS is an opportunity. By attempting to eliminate a means, they create an opportunity, while not actually doing anything to the means at all, given that gun free is merely a rule, and not a magic spell. A suicidal killer is obviously not going to obey. A veteran off-duty sheriff’s deputy, on the other hand? A Truck driver? A school teacher? They’re still connected to this world, and risk losing their livelihood over that small chance a bad person would show up. They will obey, and if a bad person DOES show up, regret. Means are numerous. Knives. Fire. The suicide vest used by terrorists is another. The biggest reason you don’t see it more here is the perpetrators want to leave a small way out for themselves, and they want their victims to see them coming, exerting their dominance.

The motive is to kill enough people to get noticed, and more than the number at which the killer value his own life. If you attack the method, the motive remains and the opportunity increases. On the other hand, if you add armed defenders, and even armed citizens who can potentially be defenders if needed, you reduce the available opportunities. The motive still remains, the method still remains, but the likelihood they attack drops, because finding a place where success is possible also drops. Attacking the motive is a social problem, attacking the method is counter-productive, but the opportunity? We can certainly do something about the opportunity. That thing is obviously not a little sign that says no guns allowed.


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The “Libertarian paradise” straw man.

Every once in a while someone on the left will point to some lawless hellhole and say it is a libertarian paradise. This is of course untrue. Libertarians aspire to the least practical government, as their ideal are the most practical rights. This is not no government. Obviously, a government that exists but is either corrupt or ineffectual is not practical. Certainly if rights are few, this is far away from their ideal. Neither is a government that suppresses or ignores people’s natural rights or rights to property. Rather, people who desire no government are anarchists, and even for them, these places are not their ideal, either. Well, not usually.

Imagine if you will, a land where there is no government, but everyone respects each others rights to property, speech, self protection and life. Does this idea in any way resemble a den of theft and violence? Rather, the dens of theft and violence don’t lack for laws, nor often do they lack for law enforcement. They DO lack for a respect of life and property. Rather, in these places, law enforcement is either corrupt or inadequate, and law itself is often arbitrary and capricious. People don’t respect the law, and their needs and desires rise above their morality and fear of law enforcement. The second can be solved with money to a certain degree, though if society is in a state of moral collapse, good luck finding honorable police, but the first? A societal moral collapse is not something that can be easily rectified. If you let it get to that point, recovering will be no short affair. It would be unlikely a virtuous society would rise in less than a generation.

Perhaps you will now say- “Ah-hah!” Libertarians don’t respect law either. You can make that argument if you like, though it isn’t true by any means, but libertarians do respect rights. That can not be denied. Should a random person be able to deprive you of life, self defense, the right to speak, or property? Shouldn’t the answer to that question be no in almost every case? Libertarians believe that people shouldn’t be able to deprive you of life, natural rights, or property, including in most cases, the government, and that property should exchange hands only though non-coercive mutual agreement. In particular, any power you surrender to another is a power that that party can abuse. To a certain degree, to deal with the margins, you do need to surrender a little. How much? That is the entire argument. Ideally, no more than is necessary in order to protect rights.

The argument that the libertarian ideal = no government = a lawless area with no rights is idiotic, as libertarians accept the need for some government, and they believe that its whole purpose is to protect individual rights. Protecting rights has a natural limiting principle. Most other tasks people would commit the government to, lack in limiting principles. Generally, when the government is given an ability without a natural cut off, they will grow that ability forever.

As rights are THE issue for Libertarians, the less rights can be assured, the less libertarians like it. You may think, we need the government we have, making it smaller would make us less free, that government should provide education, health, housing, and everything else under the sun. Generally, markets are better for all these things, but the argument is allowed. However. Presently Federal government defines what is necessary for something to be called a Pizza. Is a world where the government doesn’t define precisely what a pizza is less good than a world where it does not? Are you really gaining something by having your money going to assuring that a particular set of ingredients must be employed to call a dish a pizza? Would you really be losing anything if the government did not have that function? If you can somehow find it in your heart to admit that the government perhaps doesn’t need executive authority to decide what is and is not a pizza, then perhaps you are already a little more libertarian than you thought.

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full employment, money, inflation, and trade.

Well, first of all, I am not an economist, so if you want to use these ideas to run an entire economy.. well, if we’re being perfectly honest, you could do worse. Many have. Witness what became of economies run by Marx. But you could also do better. Probably.

Feel free to tell me I’m wrong and how. Also to send me large amounts of cash. And Brandy.

This came about because of a brief discussion that was being had on Twitter. I didn’t contribute in any profound (or useful?) way, but I thought it might be helpful to flesh out the couple of things I said in a format where I have more than 140 characters to work with. This qualifies. And it is indeed rather fleshy, at this point.

The question before me is does increasing employment (toward full employment) in the United States increase employment in other nations.

Well, first of all, what does full employment mean? What it doesn’t mean is that we are all punching a time-clock and drawing a paycheck. That would not actually be optimal. Full employment means that everyone who needs or wants more of the total supply of the limited and presently available resources is productively employed toward that end. Productively is key, as their should be more of the net of human desires after you’re finished than before you started. It shouldn’t really matter what people value, so long as it doesn’t cause any uncompensated harm. This applies to people who’s job it is to destroy things as well, as long as this is in line with human desire. So yes, wrecking ball operators produce value.

This doesn’t mean that everyone has a job in the sense that they’re paid money. Households may elect to divide the labor in any productive way. Management of household affairs, raising children, yard work, dishes, laundry are all legitimate needs, and filling those needs personally counts toward the total labor done. You can hire people do to these things, or do them yourself. Of course, if you hire them, you’d want to be earning enough extra due to their efforts to pay for their work. How this is done is down to efficiency and preference. Likewise the management and lending of assets is no less part of the necessary work of humanity.

What I don’t count as work basically comes down to theft (you’re actually decreasing the value of other’s work, and thus their incentive to work, and thus, ultimately, the total goods available to us all) and useless government tasks paid for with tax dollars. Which ones are useless? Beyond the scope of this already too long post, but feel free to browse my others. There are a few others, gambling as a revenue source rather than an entertainment, for instance. Anything that involves getting resources from others in ways they didn’t consent to. Though I suppose people who gamble for other people’s entertainment (dealers in blackjack, for instance) are still fine.

Now, having established to some small degree what employment means, what are some of the factors which limit employment? Lack of skills, lack of capital, poor location to utilize skills, changing market, crime, the cost of government directly (in taxes) and indirectly (in regulation.) Competition from paid non-work. Competition for investment from the government (as bonds are considered low risk relative to most other investment opportunities, which are much more likely to increase the sum total of human wealth.)

Lack of skills is easy enough to resolve, it just requires time. Money, too, but that is really the same thing. There are many jobs that don’t require much knowledge, or provide training, or are otherwise obtainable. Learning new skills increases the competition for jobs, which would tend to slightly depress the pay for those jobs toward a new optimum. Depressing the pay would also reduce the cost of the goods produced, which would slightly increase the buying power of money. Thus education is slightly deflationary even before depletion of all available labor sets in (which is also deflationary), but shuhh.

Lack of capital- any capital item, there is a labor sweet spot, where if you have fewer or greater number of workers, the cost per good or service produced is greater. To increase production further efficiently, you need more or different capital goods. Capital goods can be obtained with loans or with savings. In either case, if this should happen is determined by the expected new earnings potential, and bounded by risk.

Having one stove and four cooks would not produce four times as much as having one stove with one cook. Having twenty cooks might even produce less than with one cook. With time, if the market is willing to pay for you to run your operation with the average total cost per item above the optimum, you would logically obtain more capital with whatever funds are available, and employ people more efficiently. You’ll buy a second stove, open a second location, or, by some other means, increase your capacity to meet the market’s demand. If this asset increases your need for labor, it would increase the competition in the market for labor and thus the demand for labor. As long as the demand for employment is high the market will tend to meet that demand if it is not overly constrained.

Competition for labor (a labor shortage) would of course increase wages, which would increase buying power somewhat, as workers would have more cash, and there would be more goods to buy with that cash. The relative increase in the supply of goods relative to the supply of cash would be somewhat deflationary, though ultimately prices would eventually settle such that those paid least are willing to work for their pay.

The value of goods and currency are always scaled from the average needs of those paid the least, so long as they work willingly. For a market to reach the point at which it is competitive for labor, the price of goods would generally be cheep because producers are trying to reach optimum production efficiency. Generally speaking, if society is producing vastly more, then members of society will also be able to obtain somewhat more for relatively less work. This even applies to the least well compensated. This is obvious, comparing their living standards to those from a hundred years prior.

For industries where American labor could not produce the good efficiently purchasing would shift overseas, but in the end, as American production efficiency would also increase with expended capital, the actual cost of goods would start to drop relative to foreign goods, which in turn would mean that the US labor market should be able to support itself expand in external markets as well.

That said, increased purchasing of foreign goods would encourage those foreign entities to employ further capital. Encourage, and enable. This would aid in reducing cost, and increasing employment. The end result is a richer world. As far as capital equipment goes, some of it would be bought from the US, along with certain raw materials and other resources. As they come closer to our levels of income they’d purchase more goods from US, as the cost of labor in their own nations would be more in line with ours. This would increase demand for American goods, driving up the price a bit again, which would largely be absorbed by labor.

Ultimately the total supply of goods available in the world would increase, and while others would consume more of them, the amount of increased production would be as large or larger than the increased consumption. The over all share of goods produced per hour of labor would certainly increase, both at home and abroad.

Poor location is a difficult problem to solve. In particular, the reason that houses in Detroit can be had for hundreds or thousands of dollars is that in a sense, a house behaves like a firm. It’s value is reflected in it’s ability to produce value. In this sense, for it’s residents to earn money. A building you have to travel 80 miles from to do low paying work is obviously not worth anything. If there were suddenly available jobs, it’s value would appreciate rapidly. Teddy Roosevelt’s father dealt the location problem by going to the poor kids in the cities, offering them an opportunity, taking them the west, and teaching them useful skills relating to cattle. Or farming. This would certainly stir up some accusations from the left today, but in principle, it’s doable, so long as there is work.

Many businesses will help in relocation expenses, if your skill set is valuable. But then, the people who most need a job don’t have a skill set, and that is the problem. Well, more correctly, that is A problem.

market change
A changing market of course changes the optimal assignment of labor. If people want more of something or want less of it, if it takes fewer people to produce an automobile or more people to dig a well, all of this is resolved though competition at various levels. This is easy to say, but of course there is suffering. Of course when people stop using a particular technology, or goods produced using a particular technology, the people who made their living producing that technology, or off the things produced by it will suffer. I imagine there are a lot of people who made wagon wheels which are out of work. When is the last time you saw a telegraph operator? But that isn’t especially relevant. Remaining competitive requires change. That change will temporarily cause disruptions in segments of the market is inevitable, but that doesn’t make the change itself worthwhile.

Crime is another factor reducing employment. It is a much more prevalent factor in poorer nations. Generally, the only reason to work is to meet ones wants and needs, and in anticipation of one’s future wants and needs. A risk to one’s life reduces the value of the future, since you can’t be guaranteed a future. Theft of an item is not much different than your life simply being shorter by the number of hours it took you to work to buy it. Likewise, if your expectations for the future are negligible, crime becomes more attractive. To have a positive view of the future, you must see a means of advancing. Of course, people locked in government assistance have no means of advancing, and thus a negative view of the future. This probably increases the level of crime in those areas, as people who are merely poor but hopeful rarely commit criminal acts except out of extreme necessity.

Excepting crime, the above, in general all tends toward full employment. Humans learn new skills in order to work. They work and earn money, increasing their level of skill, thus the value of their work, thus their compensation. As they rise in affluence, they buy more, abandoning inferior goods. In any case, the net consumption (in the sense of purchases) of the population should equal it’s production for any level of population. But then we start to hit a problem.

unnecessary consumption and price controls
All government action which is not limited to protecting liberty reduces the efficiency of the market. I am not saying that we should do away with regulation, I simply point out that they have a cost which does not necessarily correspond to society’s preferences. Likewise, tax, while necessary to provide the basic services of the government, there is considerable disagreement over what those services are. Finally, government exerts pressure on wages, driving them higher than they need to be. This can be in either supporting union viewpoints, or in requiring a minimum wage. In other, subtler ways, as well.

This increases the cost of producing goods, and thus reduces the number that can be produced at any price point. The world-market’s price point is relevant, since if two goods are the same they should have the same price, often setting the number producible in the US to of that good to essentially zero. Each of them has a cost which increases the cost of our goods on the market, both to ourselves and abroad.

All this would merely reduce our relative share of the global market. Well, okay, price controls on wages would indeed make it such that some people wouldn’t be able to work at all. All work has value, which is set by society as a whole, based on our relative personal price preferences. The least skilled (or able) would have difficulty producing a wage appropriate to manual labor. In any case, if we merely reduced our relative global market share we’d hardly sell abroad, except those goods which can only be gotten here, and we’d consume relatively more of our own product. Employment levels would still tend toward optimum levels. But wait, there’s more.

investment competition
As I mentioned above, capital goods need to be paid for, and they are typically paid for either through savings or by borrowing. In the case of savings, if the savings are relatively liquid, it isn’t a problem. Borrowing though is a different issue. In borrowing, you have to compete for some of the unused excess which has been produced. Rather a lot of it is sitting in government bonds. Well, for the most part, due to government meddling, the financial market is pretty much a glass palace, anyway.

paid unemployment
The government subsidizes not working. With this, the cost of working becomes more expensive than not working. I can say this, because the essence of money is time. Someone traded some of their time to get it. If you can get it without spending time, or get the same amount while spending time, it would be insane to give up time you didn’t have to. You’d come out behind. If you work 40 hours a week for $1000 vs working 1 hour a week for $1000, obviously the 1 hour is the better deal. And depending on the level to which you value time, it may be that 40 hours at $1000 is worth less than 1 hour at $500. Even if only 1 hour is available, vs overtime being available for the other course. Even if you only had one opportunity between the two of them, many would take the $500 hour.

Comments on full employment and trade
Generally speaking, as the level of US employment increased, the level of goods and services the US has available for sale must also increase. If we are focused on maximizing the outcomes for individual citizens, then there is no reason to spurn international trade. If you can get new shoes for $20 vs $40 and they are of the same desirability, it would be foolish to choose the more expensive ones. If the market wasn’t tremendously distorted, the lack of US shoe manufacturing wouldn’t impact the ability of our potential cobbler to achieve gainful employment. It becomes obvious that if we had more expendable wealth, we would also spend more of it abroad.

Purchasing goods made abroad would encourage capital investment abroad, which would in turn increase the cost of their labor, as labor becomes able to produce relatively more with the same amount of time. Goods where the only advantage they had was cheaper labor would gradually shift back toward us, and/or to other, less developed markets. This would generally increase the world’s wealth. As I’ve mentioned before, lack of a future increases crime, a chance at advancement offers a future. So increasing world employment should also reduce world crime. That the worlds wealth would increase is a given, as the world’s wealth is what is being added to what has been produced, but which has not yet lost it’s value.

inflation and deflation
Inflation is when the value of money drops, and happens when people’s demand for money is less than the supply of money. This should happen for one of three reasons. Something is increasing the supply of money. Lack of faith by the people in the value of money. A supply of labor that exceeds a dwindling demand for labor.

The first is fairly straightforward, and may happen in two ways. The government, one way or another, prints more money. It may be that it it tries to obfuscate it in one way or another, but ultimately an increase in the cash supply means that a greater amount of cash represents a lessor amount of goods. Alternately banks (usually with government backing) lend money that they don’t actually possess. Because of federal reassurances, runs on banks pretty much don’t happen anymore, so their policies have gotten a bit wonky. As banks increase in size, the amount of their lending would also increase, so they would contribute to inflation in a fashion related to their size.

Lack of faith is well documented. When someone has money and they’re aware of how quickly it’s value will depreciate, they want to exchange it with some other good (who’s value, at least in the personal sense, would presumably be relatively fixed) as quickly as possible. But then, that is also true for the person who gets the money. No one wants money, so there is more of it than available goods which are consumed at an alarming rate. The goods produced are not increasing, but they are being purchased rapidly. Sellers must increase their profit margin dramatically, as in hours or days they’d need to re-adjust the price. As long as the government isn’t printing money this is finite and self correcting. But the problem is at this point the government is typically paying salaries with printed money. Marginal stores, unable to keep up with the price of their inputs and the price their customers are willing to pay fail, decreasing the demand for labor, leading us to..

When the number of functioning businesses is in decline, money’s relative value would fall. The total goods which can be purchased would be decreasing, where as the cash supply would not be. This feeds into lack of faith in the value of currency above, completing the death spiral.

Deflation is when the value of money rises, and happens when people’s demand for money is greater than the supply of money. This should happen also for one of three reasons. Something is decreasing the supply of money. Market wide depletion of savings. A demand for labor that exceeds the supply of labor.

If the Fed destroys money for long enough to tighten the supply, a smaller amount of money would represent a greater amount of goods. Since supply and demand would work to adjust the costs of goods and labor to fit the new value of money, any ill effects from this would be blessedly short. If we assume the market behaves rationally, anyway. Alternately, there could be a rash of systemic bank failures, though this would typically cause other problems which would make the slight deflationary effects lost in the noise. In particular, there would likely be other business failures which would produce inflation, by reducing the supply of marketable goods relative to the (remaining) currency supply.

Typically, people store away a certain part of their earnings for a rainy day. If people were to either change their savings preferences in mass, or to have abated their savings across society they would divert relatively more of their earnings into savings vs goods on the market. This would normally happen in a period which was already deflationary, (the other side of inflation is the discouragement of savings) so it is a bit of a double whammy. The difficulty here is that labor is very reluctant to let their wages be reduced, even if their buying power is going up, so it can be a bit trying for business. Otherwise, the inflation due to saving would be short lived, only until their savings level matched their savings preference, at which point they’d be diverting their pay back into normal patterns. During this time, of course, the market must reduce the cost of goods in order to compete for a diminished supply of expendable income. This is reflected in a necessity to reduce labor cost or capacity. Of course, any job losses would move pressure in an inflationary direction, described above. It should find equilibrium fairly rapidly.

Finally, if business needs just a bit more labor to optimally meet it’s capital requirements to reach the lowest average total cost of their good or service, they would tend to raise wages slightly in order to attract more people. This would be met by others competitively raising wages. If the money available on the market is fixed, this would diminish the supply of money, however, they would be constrained by the average total costs, which is of course affected by the cost of labor, and this too would reach an equilibrium. The price of goods would drop on the whole, as the supply would increase with the additional labor (otherwise you wouldn’t have hired more people) increasing the competitive position of American goods on the international market, after a bit of a inflationary hiccup. The increase in demand at the new price point would put some upward pressure on price, it too would find equilibrium among all the potential purchasing decisions among all the people.

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A broken window in heaven

So, imagine that you are in some paradise, where your every desire has been completely fulfilled, nothing decays, where you want for nothing, and never know hunger. Suppose further that a vandal got in, and broke one of your windows.  Does this create value?

After all, the glass maker has slightly more… wait, there isn’t a glass maker.

Someone is going to have to figure that out. Surely in such an idealistic place the knowledge exists, but is it in the hands of a human, or recorded in some dry tome?

Since it is an idealistic place, the someone who fixes your window is probably you.  After all, no one else wants, so you have nothing to trade. You will spend time learning how to craft and cut glass in order to repair that window. That consumes some of your time, which, even if you have an infinite amount you, it is still linear so THIS time you’re enjoying yourself less, while you fill a need which you never had before. You will have to obtain materials, which even if you have no need to trade for them would still consume, at the very least, more of your time.  Another option is you could take someone else’s window, making their existence ever so much less ideal, while only restoring yours to where it had been before. In the end you have knowledge and skills you didn’t have before, but so what, no one has need of them.

There is no time at which value is created by destroying it.  Not even in heaven would this be true. Nor in a place where there was only one window. Even if you learn how to create more windows by destroying the first, humanity isn’t richer until you have begun to do so, and it is still poorer the original window. It isn’t true when there is full employment, nor is it true when there is a tremendous want of employment.  Building things that there wasn’t a need for is a huge waste of people’s lives to no useful end.

All that happens, is some of the wealth that did exist no longer does, so as a whole, humanity is slightly poorer. Detailing all the ways in which this is true has been done by greater men, I simply add one more illustration that it is never not true.

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Quote of the Day


Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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A Fundamentall Law What

From Hobbes’ Leviathan,

For a Fundamentall Law in every Common-wealth is that, which being taken away, the Common-wealth faileth, and is utterly dissolved; as a building whose Foundation is destroyed. And therefore a Fundamentall Law is that, by which Subjects are bound to uphold whatsoever power is given to the Soveraign, whether a Monarch, or a Soveraign Assembly, without which the Common-wealth cannot stand, such as is the power of War and Peace, of Judicature, of Election of Officers, and of doing whatsoever he shall think necessary for the Publique good. Not Fundamentall is that the abrogating whereof, draweth not with it the dissolution of the Common-Wealth; such as are the Lawes Concerning Controversies between subject and subject. Thus much of the Division of Lawes.

There are four potential states:

  1. existing law which is necessary to the continued existence of a successful state
  2. A law, which if enacted, would cause a successful state ultimately to fail
  3. A law, which if enacted in a failed (or at least, failing) state which would allow it to prosper.
  4. A law, which would cause a state to fail, if it wasn’t already failed.

I wonder what you would call #2 and #4?  antifundimental?

Laws which would cause the state to fail would mainly fall into those, which directly or indirectly, reduce the potential of the individuals in society to achieve personal success.  Law constrains action, at least among the law abiding, but there is much to which there is no value in constraint. That said, it isn’t possible for law to make everyone successful, as to say that they are successful or unsuccessful involves the conceit of trying to define someone else’s personal valuation of success. Trying to make all people successful by a few people’s judgement of what success is is anti-adaptive, and thus, in reality, should weaken society.

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