Invertebrates for Peace »« Forgiveness

Massimo Pigliucci has principles

He was given the opportunity to suckle at the teat of the Templeton Foundation, and he turned them down.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my book agent. She had been approached by an editor at a well known academic publishing house with a project she thought I would be interested in. Sometime later I met with the editor in question, a genial person with whom I clearly had quite a few interests in common. Nonetheless, a few days later I decided to turn down the offer and pursue other projects. The reason: the book, which would have been part of a series, was going to be produced as a joint venture by the academic press in question and the John Templeton Foundation.

In short, my reason for declining the book project is that I simply don’t like having my name associated with right wing and/or libertarian organizations like the JTF, the American Enterprise Institute or the Institute for American Values.

More scientists ought to join him in refusing to prop up the Templeton’s mystical agenda.

Comments

  1. dunstar says

    lol. that’s awesome.

    Quite often you hear of people unwilling to sell their souls to the Devil!

    I guess it goes the other way too and people can refuse to sell their souls to God!

    lol.

  2. First Approximation says

    Hear, hear!

    I have criticized Pigliucci in the past, but I’ll get give where credit is due. Well done, sir!

  3. qbsmd says

    I can’t help wondering if there was a conversation exactly like this at the American Cancer Society.

  4. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    PZ, in your short excerpt you kind of downplay his objection to their strange amalgam of science and religion. From what you write it sounds like he only objects to their politics. Of course, it’s all one big mess…

  5. Stonyground says

    I am not a scientist so I am never likely to be offered a Templeton Prize. If I were there is no way that I could ever accept it. Poisoning science with religion is a disgusting thing to do. I can imagine that my wife would give me quite a bit of grief though.

    I thought that the name Massimo Pigliucci rang a bell and that I had a book of his. I have, it is called Denying Evolution, creationism scientism and the nature of science. It was a long time ago that I read it, I might read it again now as I can’t really remember much about it.

  6. nonsenseonstilts says

    I am delighted! I love his books and his writing, so much so that I took Nonsense On Stilts as my pseudonym. Now I think I love the man a little bit too!

  7. Shaun says

    One bit I find odd is the “and/or libertarian” part, perhaps I’m missing something but those 3 organisations seem like typical conservative organisations, where’s the libertarian angle?

  8. Hazuki says

    Didn’t he used to teach at SUNY Stony Brook, my old alma mater? If he’s gone from there I’m glad, as the place is a decaying, corrupt pisshole.

  9. raven says

    Oddly enough, the Templeton foundation is loaded with money to the gills.

    IIRC, their endowment is over 1 billion dollars. They dispense waste $70 million bucks a year.

    From what they do with it, it looks like even then, they have a very hard time finding xian themed nonsense to fund.

    Oh well. At least their aren’t funding AIG, the Hovinds, or the ICR. Yet. They actually pulled their funding from the Seattle Dishonesty Institute without much good to say about them.

  10. Helen Beach says

    Huzzah!!! High 5’s to Massimo! I have always loved his voice of reason on all the podcasts (especially with D J Grothe).

  11. anbheal says

    Libertarian, in its current American incarnation, is largely a smug klan of rich nonsensical-aphorism-dropping racists who like to smoke pot and have pre-marital sex and don’t attend church, so they differentiate themselves from their parents by calling themselves Libertarian or TeaParty rather than Same Old Strom Thurmond/Jesse Helms/Jerry Falwell GOP. But they all vomit the same blarney about their “inherent” rights to discriminate and sexually harrass and live in splendid gated-community private-school private-road isolation….while the rights to education or healthcare or economic security or equal treatemnt under the law are merely fictions concocted by the UN and socialist hippies.

    They tend to be the VERY most conservative of citizens, outside of their preferred vices.

  12. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    To be fair there’s also Libertarians like my dad, who insists that “all we have are our brains and our brawn” and is just totally blind to systemic prejudice and the concept of privilege. See, we’ve all ALREADY got equal opportunity, so if you don’t get stinking rich, it is because you suck. And are probably also a lazy asshole moocher. And the government is just thugs with guns that want to take your hard-earned money (that you totally got all by yourself and 100% due to your own merit) and give it to those lazy slacker bum moochers!

    The difference from the Republiturds is mostly in the supposed “social liberalism” that the Libertarians have along with their “economic conservatism,” which, as anbheal says, usually translates to things like legalization of drugs.

    Which, in my opinion, only proves that even people with garbage philosophy living on Planet Whatthefuck can occasionally have a decent idea. But then, sometimes when my cat sits on the keyboard, his butt makes a word.

  13. Kagehi says

    I am not a scientist so I am never likely to be offered a Templeton Prize. If I were there is no way that I could ever accept it.

    However, in terms of a “prize” the best way is to make sure there is plenty of press at the giving, and that you are sure that the press that is there is going to be honest, then when they call you up to receive it, you *then* point out exactly why you can’t except it. Unfortunately, I am sure, they have a process where by they deem if you accept *before* you actually get handed the prize, to avoid such embarrassments. Though, I think it would be damn funny to actually see someone get handed one of those big fake checks, rip it in half, then state, “I am sorry I can’t except this. Templeton has a long history of only picking people that compromise their integrity, in order to fit their research into an entirely made up association with faith. It doesn’t matter if, in the end, such faith proved justified or not, it is not the place of science to justify faith, simply because one, or more, organizations wish it so, but to present only the facts that *have* been uncovered. Like a forensic expert, our job isn’t to prove that an existing suspect was responsible for any part of the what we research, but only to follow the evidence where it leads. There is no grounds to assume that the evidence, in this case, leads to what Templeton would like me to imply is certain, or even relevant to any use that might be made of the research.”

    Yeah, some people would probably like stronger language than that, but the central point is that they already have a “suspect” and they want the scientist to be willing to hedge and haw, and say, “Yeh, there is a slim change he did it.”, whether this is justified or not. That is the whole point of their sort of accommodation. And, the proper answer to that is, “No, the evidence, in totality, does not actually imply your ‘pet’ suspect as the one responsible.” They want to leap from footprints from a burglary, to the most wanted crime boss in the city, based purely on the presumption that said boss in question is thought to go barefoot (though no such evidence may exist), and therefor the fact that it wasn’t shoe prints…

  14. KG says

    To be fair there’s also Libertarians like my dad, who insists that “all we have are our brains and our brawn” and is just totally blind to systemic prejudice and the concept of privilege. – Alukonis

    To judge by the sample I see on this site, that’s a prototypical glibertarian for you. The “blindness” is so convenient that one can’t simply assume that it is genuine. In most cases, I’d guess it’s part dishonesty and part self-deception – but you’d really need to ask a sample of ex-glibertarians.

  15. says

    I’m glad that Massimo stood up for his principles, though anything Massimo could have got Templeton funding for would be something I’d want to read.

  16. Epinephrine says

    More proof that botanists and former botanists are morally superior people.

    I see what you did there.

  17. Ing says

    More proof that botanists and former botanists are morally superior people.

    Do you really think the morality stems from that?

  18. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Ing, Hazuki

    Really? Because I always thought that other branches of science are more fertile in this respect..

    Btw, Hazuki, I was at Sb for a while, what department were you in?

  19. casual_observer says

    Does Pigliucci think that libertarianism is anti-science? Or did he reject the award for reasons of political philosophy as well? He can do what he likes and I admire him for his choice but he does seem to be conflating right-wing religious conservatism with libertarianism.

  20. Juice says

    I don’t know anything really about the JTF. I read the wikipedia article on it and it is quite silly to fund “science” looking for spiritual answers and such, but I didn’t see much detail about their politics.

    It just says: “Sir John Templeton, a follower of classical liberalism from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, believed that individual freedom was the indispensable foundation of economic, social, and spiritual progress, and that without economic freedom, individual freedom was fragile and vulnerable. To this end, the Foundation supports a range of programs which promote freedom and free enterprise.

    In 2007 a grant was awarded to Robert Townsend, from the University of Chicago for “The Enterprise Initiative” a research collaboration with MIT’s Poverty Action Lab, Yale’s Economic Growth Center, and the University of Chicago’s Computation Institute. This initiative seeks to elucidate enterprise-based solutions to poverty by studying the specific factors that lead to success at the individual level.

    Well, that sounds just downright evil.

  21. KG says

    Does Pigliucci think that libertarianism is anti-science? – casual_observer

    No doubt he does, since he is a sane and highly intelligent man. He will have observed that the great majority of glibertarians are still anthropogenic climate change denialists, because climate science shows what ludicrous but dangerous nonsense glibertarianism is. He will probably also have noticed the huge amounts of money the obscenely rich Koch brothers are pumping into glibertarian propaganda factories, and concluded that it’s all about the selfishness of the privileged.

  22. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yes.

    *thinks about whacking PZ with a bippy, but decides against it*

  23. says

    …Well, that sounds just downright evil.

    Go to my blog and do a search for “templeton.” Read especially the posts about their funding of and prizes to right-wing and AGW denialist organizations through Atlas.

  24. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang #34 should be bopping PZ with a bippy. Can’t even get my old-timer Laugh-In jokes right. *disappears for dinner*

  25. says

    Does Pigliucci think that libertarianism is anti-science?

    Pigliucci gives an account in Nonsense On Stilts as to why libertarian thinktanks are anti-science, in particular CATO and AGW-denial.

    From my personal experience, whenever I have heard an atheist argue against global warming, it’s come from a self-identified libertarian. Indeed, I’ve come across very few self-identified libertarians who are in support of the overwhelming consensus in climate science. Politics, it seems, can be a powerful driver of anti-science. Just look at the demographics who use “alternative medicine” and the arguments in support of it. There’s definitely an anti-corporate message at the heart of the acceptance of medicine and the pseudoscience that people call “alternative medicine”.

  26. ghoti says

    I actually considered myself either libertarian or leading that way, until I started reading this site.

    I was at the “left” end of it anyway…but what appeals about the philosophy is it’s extreme emphasis on the rights of the individual…which is why I cringe when I see the term hijacked almost the way “liberal” was.

    There’s nothing about racism, sexism, or any other social issue in a libertarian outlook…which is why one cringes when one reads about “tea partiers” or other right-wing nuts calling themselves libertarians while advocating bigger government programs dealing with their take on social issues or the military.

    One also cringes when one sees the characterization put forth on sites like this…people who argue the ideology (I might never have been a “true” libertarian but that’s another issue) are basically slandered as racist, sexist, homophobic, or whatever…I mean, if you’re going to argue against someone’s positions, at least argue against ones not made of straw…
    ________

    Though my main focus and belief is still the rights of the individual, I also believe that with rights come responsibilities.

    I further believe, through study of history and some personal experience, that people who believe the private sector is less wasteful than the public are sadly deluded, and what you get from less oversight on LARGE corporations is higher income disparity between the haves and have-nots, more corruption, and lot of other unsavory results.

    I also feel that certain services and goods that need regulation and / or standardization and therefore lend themselves to monopoly management might be just as well served by high regulation or even outright ownership by government bodies purely as a matter of efficiency (see my point comparing large corporate beaurocracies with the public sector).

    Also, progress and research that look pointless are often under-funded by non-public sources…thus a public source often (almost paradoxically) is the only source for innovations that benefit huge segments of humanity.

    Not to mention that corporate-controlled media, education, and (especially) “arts” are nearly always a BAD IDEA. Anything that is controlled by an essentially small body of like-minded people with its own agenda — be it religious, public, or private — is too prone to corruption and abuse.
    _________

    Anyway, back on topic: it’s a fine thing when integrity prompts someone to buck the easy path. It’d probably be far too easy to convince oneself that one is reforming or moderinizing an organization like Templeton, take their money, and then give them more credence than they have already.

  27. KG says

    people who argue the ideology (I might never have been a “true” libertarian but that’s another issue) are basically slandered as racist, sexist, homophobic, or whatever – ghoti

    [multiple citations needed]

    There may be exceptions, but the only glibertarians I’ve seen called racist, sexist or homophobic here are those whose words have justified those epithets. If you can’t give the multiple citations that would be needed to support your charge, then it would seem that you are the slanderer. In any case, it’s quite clear that in effect the glibertarian ideology is itself racist, sexist and homophobic, since it promulgates the false claim that people’s economic and social status is primarily their own responsibility, rather than largely being the outcome of steep gradients of privilege – self-identified libertarians usually being at the top of these (obviously there are exceptions, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

  28. Shaun says

    One problem with labels such as “libertarian” for me is that often I don’t agree with all the associated positions – kinda like voting and trying to find which party/candidate is most aligned with my views – it’s almost never a perfect match. It seems only the most simple of labels work.

    I am an atheist – I see no evidence for a god and evidence suggesting one is not possible.

    I am a skeptic (the real kind – like science, dislike woo) – science seems the most reliable method for coming to correct conclusions. Many of the so called climate-change “skeptics” seem to be relying on conspiracy theory as their main arguments for why the earth isn’t getting warmer/why we aren’t causing it.

    This leads however to the position that will get me the most flak on this board, and that is that Anarcho-Capitalist seems to fit fairly well. The way I see government can be demonstrated by the Australian government “Home Insulation Program”. It was useful mostly as propaganda, claiming the government was helping fight global warming but had little real effect (except for the deaths it lead to…) and wasted huge amounts of money. It seems to me that the government sucks badly at everything it tries to do. Another related part is that it seems taxation is simply theft and I can’t see it being justified.

    The way I would like to see is that you could have all your political parties as long as there is no force involved. I could have a communist living next door to me and not just someone who votes for those policies but who gives 100% of their salary to a communist “party” and is then provided with food, clothing, transport etc in a manner determined by his party’s definition of his needs.

    I also don’t care if a zygote is “a human being” or not, a woman owns her own body and no other person has the right to make use of it without her explicit and importantly ongoing consent.

    Basically this point boils down to: 1 People own their own bodies and no-one else has a right to them and 2 government is inherently and unavoidably inefficient, even counterproductive in all it does.

  29. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    It seems to me that the government sucks badly at everything it tries to do

    It seems to me that you have a naive concept of what a government does. Maybe you just need to formulate it differently, but the way you write it it sounds like you either want to abolish democracy and let the government be run by private businesses (no thanks, I’ll pass) or that you think running a country is actually not doing anything except prescribing new insulation for your house every 20 years.

  30. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Another related part is that it seems taxation is simply theft and I can’t see it being justified.

    Ok genius, you want to unilaterally dissolve the contrat social. Can you really live with the consequences? Really?.

  31. Ariaflame says

    @Shaun #41

    The way I see government can be demonstrated by the Australian government “Home Insulation Program”. It was useful mostly as propaganda, claiming the government was helping fight global warming but had little real effect (except for the deaths it lead to…) and wasted huge amounts of money.

    Increasing insulation so that energy usage is reduced is not a waste of time. That there were some deaths was regrettable, but not the fault of the government. (Workplace safety for one thing being a state, not a federal issue. The 4 people that did die were not sufficiently trained and employed by companies attempting to jump on the bandwagon). If you think that there aren’t cowboys out there you are deluded. Yes possibly there should have been more done by overstretched people to check skills and qualified people, but

    The Program also delivered the first ever national training program for ceiling insulation employees, with over 3,700 workers completing the new training package. Prior to the program this was a largely unregulated industry with little incentive for workers to be properly trained. Parliament of Australia

    But there’s some more numbers that need to be considered. During the HIP scheme there were many more installations happening than usual. The more there are happening then yes, the number of incidents due to it are going to be greater. That’s how life works.

    The number of fires per 100,000 installs that occurred within 12 months of installation was 47.3 before the Home Insulation Program and 13.9 during the Home Insulation Program

    The Home Insulation Program reduced the short term fire rate by approximately 70% compared to what was happening before it.

    The Home Insulation Program was over 3 times safer than the industry it replaced in terms of the numbers of fire experienced within 12 months of getting insulation installed. The CSIRO gets hip to debunking media hysteria

    As for the inefficiency of government. Well, yes. There will be waste. But it’s a hell of a lot more efficient than everyone trying to do everything for themselves. You don’t get the economies of scale, and people do not have the energy, time, or knowledge to take care of everything that the government usually takes care of. And relying on private corporations, for profit companies to take care of the things that we all need done? No thank you. I’d rather something that maybe wasted a bit of money through inefficiency than something that efficiently charged me all the market would bear.

  32. NH Baritone says

    Too bad that Chris Mooney was not so circumspect in aligning himself with the Templeton Foundation. Every time I think of his sell-out, my heart sinks.

  33. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Too bad that Chris Mooney was not so circumspect in aligning himself with the Templeton Foundation. Every time I think of his sell-out, my heart sinks.

    Selling out is only one of Mooney’s issues.

  34. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    It seems to me that the government sucks badly at everything it tries to do. Another related part is that it seems taxation is simply theft and I can’t see it being justified.

    sigh

  35. Ing says

    It seems to me that the government sucks badly at everything it tries to do.

    Yes a gypsy put a curse on it.

    It’s a metaphysical taint. Wooooooooooooooooooooo!

  36. Ing says

    Another related part is that it seems taxation is simply theft and I can’t see it being justified.

    …You’re talking on the fucking internet. What do you think paid for it’s development?

  37. Ing says

    Another related part is that it seems taxation is simply theft and I can’t see it being justified.

    Translation: I can’t stand the idea that something I pay for also helps someone else who is a stranger.

  38. Matt Penfold says

    Now all we need is for philosophers and so-called journalists to have the same discussion over taking the Templeton shilling.

  39. M Groesbeck says

    Shaun @ 41 —

    I still don’t get how people can take the “taxation is theft” thing seriously. Money and property are both social practices managed, backed, and enforced by the state; on what grounds does an individual insist that the state (and everyone else) defend that individual’s exclusive access to power and material without any mutual consideration?

    It’s another failure of “anarcho”-capitalists to understand the first part of their claimed label. “No rulers” means “no rulers” — it doesn’t mean “the only legitimate function of the state is to ensure the rule of property over everything else”, and it certainly doesn’t mean “you’re all obligated to enforce my power over you”.

  40. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    The only possible outcome of Shaun’s idea that taxation=theft, in conjuction with the obvious need to fund and decide on funding of community projects such as roads, infrastructure, buildings, research and so on, is a radical grassroots democracy in which votes are cast through giving money. Xe wants a state reminiscent of the old days, where someone with less means has proportionally less say, where employers can systematically decrease the democratic weight of their employees by reducing wages,
    and where there is zero security for long term projects. In short, welcome to the dark ages.

  41. says

    The way I see government can be demonstrated by the Australian government “Home Insulation Program”.

    So helping put in infrastructure is a bad thing?

    This is what I don’t get about those who complain about governments. We’ve seen when governments go wrong, failed states and fascism aren’t what we have in the west. If the worst we have to complain about is that there weren’t enough checks and balances on a means to help insulate homes, then we’re doing damn well as a society.

  42. Shaun says

    43. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis: Ok genius, you want to unilaterally dissolve the contrat social. Can you really live with the consequences? Really?.

    What vast economic growth and a corresponding reduction in poverty? Yeah sounds good to me actually. You want to be glib then I can too.

    45. Ariaflame: As for the inefficiency of government. Well, yes. There will be waste. But it’s a hell of a lot more efficient than everyone trying to do everything for themselves.

    Actually it’s generally understood that competition increases efficiency despite potential reductions in the economics of scale.

    45. Ariaflame: I’d rather something that maybe wasted a bit of money through inefficiency than something that efficiently charged me all the market would bear.

    I’m not sure what your point is here, that you would rather pay more to have a “goverment” decide what you need? I thought I made it clear you should be able to do this with my support for voluntary communism.

    51. Ing: Translation: I can’t stand the idea that something I pay for also helps someone else who is a stranger.

    Actually more like everyone would be better off, the poor even more than most. This is what many don’t seem to get, I support anarcho-capitalism because I genuinely believe that the evidence supports the idea that it will benefit everyone. I’m not the stereotypical rich white male Libertarian. I’m actually a poor white male student, who’s university fees were paid for with a combination of my parent’s support (thanks Mum & Dad) and 2.5 years of full-time work on my part.

    53. M Groesbeck: It’s another failure of “anarcho”-capitalists to understand the first part of their claimed label.

    No I fully understand that which is why I said “Anarcho-Capitalism” was a better fit to my views than “Libertarian”. Most people do not steal and for the remaining few that is why many shops have security guards.

  43. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    What vast economic growth and a corresponding reduction in poverty? Yeah sounds good to me actually. You want to be glib then I can too.

    Yes, the re-indroduction of slave labor and giving all infrastructure to corporations is indeed one means to obtain vast economic growth. Vast reduction in poverty? The whole sounds more like a messianic prophecy to me than a sound socioeconomic strategy. Tell me how my concerns voiced in 54 are avoided.

  44. CJO says

    I’m actually a poor white male student, who’s university fees were paid for with a combination of my parent’s support (thanks Mum & Dad) and 2.5 years of full-time work on my part.

    Like most libertards, you don’t know what “poor” means. You don’t have very much money right now. That’s not what “poor” means. Poor people can’t just ask Mum and Dad for money to go to college.

    Anyway, let’s look at how versions of anarcho-capitalism have worked in the past. Take ancient Rome. Slavery was a major driver of the economy and how most physical labor got done. If you’re an anarcho-capitalist plutocrat, why go through this silliness of hiring and firing at-will workers? Build a barracks, hire some muscle, and keep your workforce captive, and feed them gruel. They even replace themselves before they wear out! What’s to stop you? No Department of Labor, no OSHA, none of that taxtheft-supported crap.

    Also, in such a society, how are contracts between private parties enforced? Ancient Rome had lots of civil law, but no government-mandated system of aiding citizens in getting justice from their neighbors. So if a richer, more powerful landlord gathers up all his slaves and freedmen and annexes your property by main force, what do you do? You can complain to the courts, but they won’t hear a case unless both parties are present and for some reason your neighbor won’t show up. It’s up to you to essentially kidnap the guy with a private army off of his huge (now huger) estate. What’s to stop him, under anarcho-capitalism? There are no cops, and no courts. That stuff is all funded by theft, right?

    Leaving aside how this used to work, let’s see if we can find any other angles on how we might profit from this wonderful new, theft-free economic regime. So, infrastructure is privately built, maintained and operated, right? So say I own a well-travelled road for which I charge tolls, naturally, that is in competition with another road, owned by somebody else. What’s to stop me from just dynamiting the thing? ANARCHO-CAPITALISM, baby! Or say I own the road that goes to a large regional hospital. And charge exorbitant tolls to anxious looking mothers headed that way with sick kids? Or, hell, there are no public hospitals, right, so let’s say I own the hospital. Sorry, ma’am, I know some pennicillin would clear that infection your baby’s got right up, but prices are high right now. That’ll be 500 bucks. What’s to stop me?

    You want a modern model of anarcho-capitalism? How about Somalia? Or a town in southern Mexico ruled by the cartels? Is that how you want to live? Is “everyone better off” in those places?

  45. says

    I’m not the stereotypical rich white male Libertarian. I’m actually a poor white male student, who’s university fees were paid for with a combination of my parent’s support (thanks Mum & Dad) and 2.5 years of full-time work on my part.

    facepalm

  46. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Oh Jebus, we got a real live looneytarian. And not only a looneytarian, a genuwhine anarcho-capitalist. In other words, a selfish, immature, narcissistic, economic illiterate who doesn’t give a shit about anyone who isn’t him.

  47. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Actually it’s generally understood that competition increases efficiency despite potential reductions in the economics of scale.

    Citation need for government programs. You are nothing but a loudmouth at the moment.

    I thought I made it clear you should be able to do this with my support for voluntary communism.

    Government regulations =/= communism. Lose 5 points for being a liberturd, misunderstand what is and isn’t communism.

    I’m not the stereotypical rich white male Libertarian. I’m actually a poor white male student, who’s university fees were paid for with a combination of my parent’s support (thanks Mum & Dad) and 2.5 years of full-time work on my part.

    You are sounding like a liberturd, and not an anarchist. Salty Current is an anarchist, so we really know what that means.

    No I fully understand that which is why I said “Anarcho-Capitalism” was a better fit to my views than “Libertarian”. Most people do not steal and for the remaining few that is why many shops have security guards.

    Nope, you have it wrong. You are showing the typical arrogance of a liberturd.

  48. Shaun says

    I didn’t really think this was worth answering, but since you brought it up again:

    54. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis: community projects such as roads, infrastructure, buildings, research and so on

    Roads: tollroad companies. Infrastructure: those who use it ie ports: shipping companies etc. Buildings? Just like now days the people who are going to use a building pay someone to do it, government doesn’t run construction… Research: those who use it ie Drugs: drug companies, electronics: electronics manufacturers. Seeing a trend here?

    employers can systematically decrease the democratic weight of their employees by reducing wages

    Reducing wage won’t do much good when all your workers jump ship and go work for the competition.

    59. CJO: Anyway, let’s look at how versions of anarcho-capitalism have worked in the past. Take ancient Rome. Slavery was a major driver of the economy and how most physical labor got done.

    Rome? Rome the great empire that all would be emperors since have tried to emulate? In any case a system that supported slavery would not be anarcho-capitalism. Slavery has many obstacles to success anyway, apart from the fact that the majority (including me btw) would support the slaves right to be free over your ownership of them, it may be possible to get a man to plow a field by whipping him but you can’t whip someone into intellectual effort which is where most of our economy is these days.

    So say I own a well-travelled road for which I charge tolls, naturally, that is in competition with another road, owned by somebody else. What’s to stop me from just dynamiting the thing? ANARCHO-CAPITALISM, baby!

    a. their security guards. b. competition – everyone avoids you and goes with the non-psychotic option and c. WTF? That is NOT anarcho-capitalism!

    Or say I own the road that goes to a large regional hospital. And charge exorbitant tolls to anxious looking mothers headed that way with sick kids?

    Competition duh. And not just with other roads to get to that hospital, but with other hospitals serviced by different roads.

    Or, hell, there are no public hospitals, right, so let’s say I own the hospital. Sorry, ma’am, I know some pennicillin would clear that infection your baby’s got right up, but prices are high right now. That’ll be 500 bucks. What’s to stop me?

    The first time you try it? Nothing. The second time? What second time? You won’t have any patients once word gets out.

    60. ‘Tis Himself, OM: facepalm

    perhaps you missed the bit where I worked full-time 2.5 years to afford a 3 year degree?

    62. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls: Nope, you have it wrong. You are showing the typical arrogance of a liberturd.

    Ah what would we do without the trolling comments, saying “You’re wrong na na” is all you need to prove your point! </sarcasm>

  49. says

    This is why you should never mention anything remotely to do with libertarians, even in passing. It’s the same crap over and over again… just with a different mouthpiece, who thinks that they’re right and that people just haven’t heard the Good News* yet.

    * Good news – taxes are stealing and there’s a “viable” alternative.

  50. Rick Pikul says

    Actually it’s generally understood that competition increases efficiency despite potential reductions in the economics of scale

    Which is, of course, why the high competition US health care system costs so much less than places with socialized and single-payer systems.

    Wait, no, that isn’t right….

    Not only do almost all of those systems cost less, (the majority costing less in total than the government share of US costs), while delivering care that is equivalent: They don’t relegate about a quarter of the population to having minimal/no access the way the US system does.

  51. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah what would we do without the trolling comments,

    Amazing how trolls always complain about the regulars trolling. Looking in the mirror are they???

  52. Kagehi says

    There’s nothing about racism, sexism, or any other social issue in a libertarian outlook…

    The problem with this statement, and those like it, is that its a bit like saying “spiritual”, then having to spend the next three days explaining how you don’t mean Reiki, quantum, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, therapeutic touch, auras, ghost, heaven, hell, etc. It may be perfectly true that the “literal dictionary definition” of the word is semi-sane, albeit naive, but in the good old USA, it means what the assholes trying to get elected on it, or using it to defend their business plans, and anti-government rhetoric, actually do and say, while claiming to be one.

    As such, going to a site that despises such bullshit, and then trying to defend the rarefied dictionary version, is about as reasonable a decision as coming here and saying “spiritual”, along with a few easily misconstrued buzz words, and wondering why we *assume* the person meant “Christian”.

    In any case, its a naive philosophy because it falls prey to the same wishful thinking that self help books use to make up, “things that can help you be a better person”, and, as Richard Wiseman states in one of his books, to paraphrase, “Almost all of it doesn’t work, and contradicts human psychology, but ‘sounds good’.”

  53. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    perhaps you missed the bit where I worked full-time 2.5 years to afford a 3 year degree?

    Do you want a medal or a chest to pin it on?

    Considering I spent six years in the Navy before I went to college on the Vietnam Era GI Bill, I’m not particularly impressed that you worked before you went to college.

    As you have probably guessed, I am unimpressed by looneytarianism. Anarcho-capitalism is the looneyist sect of looneytarianism. There are some things that capitalism won’t provide because there’s no incentive to provide it. The Hubble Space Telescope has improved our knowledge of the universe but can you seriously argue that a corporation or group of corporations would have funded it?

    Before the passage of the Clean Water Act and establishment of the EPA, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio used to catch on fire regularly. Now it’s home to hogsuckers and spotfin shiners, both moderately sensitive to water quality. While it was industry which polluted the Cuyahoga, it wasn’t industry which cleaned the river up. It was local, state and federal governments doing something that corporations would only do if someone was holding a whip over them.

  54. Shaun says

    65 Rick Pikul: Which is, of course, why the high competition US health care system costs so much less than places with socialized and single-payer systems.

    Wait, no, that isn’t right…

    Yes, that isn’t right… that the US has free market healthcare. The whole reason that your employers pay for your healthcare is that originally it was a way to get around government imposed wage ceilings – businesses could attract employers with more lavish health care plans, if not with higher wages. It was only after it became established that the government decided to exempt employer provided health care from taxes, pushing even more money into it. When someone else – the government, your employer, whoever – pays for something you don’t shop around to find the best price, that combined with the heavy regulation of the US healthcare system is why it’s so expensive.

    65 Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls: Amazing how trolls always complain about the regulars trolling. Looking in the mirror are they???

    Considering you post was all about calling me a loudmouth, a “liberturd” (3 times), not an anarchist (fine what label should I use?), wrong and arrogant rather than presenting any counter points or constructive criticism?

    68. ‘Tis Himself, OM: Do you want a medal or a chest to pin it on?

    I only meant to say that I wasn’t coming from a rich family having an easy life. If it came off that I was bragging about it then I apologize, that was not what I intended.

    There are some things that capitalism won’t provide because there’s no incentive to provide it. The Hubble Space Telescope has improved our knowledge of the universe…

    I know I certainly like having it and would donate funds towards such an effort, as likely would many universities in a free market world, but it would be hypocritical of me to say that people who have no interest in the area should be forced to pay for it. Probably such efforts would have been delayed somewhat until commercial space flight became more economical, it’s hard to say. Basically if there is enough people who want to know more about the universe then it will be profitable for someone to arrange it.

    Before the passage of the Clean Water Act and establishment of the EPA, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio used to catch on fire regularly.

    It used to be that those fishing the river or whose land it crossed etc could go to the courts and sue the polluters for essentially trespassing on their property and win, it was only after the government sided with the factory owners for a while in the name of “progress” that pollution was able to grow into such a problem. I don’t give the government much credit for coming in and fixing a problem they created in the first place.

  55. says

    There’s just no arguing with an anarcho-capitalist. I mean, if someone is going to argue that ignoring any chance of foresight, safety, and working in the best interests of as many as possible, is necessarily worse than having people act in their own selfish interests; then what chance do you have to have a rational conversation? And especially when we have examples in the real world where such practices have shown quite detrimental, such as the need for recent bailouts of major corporations whose services are integral to the system – why the fuck would anyone think it a good idea to leave it up solely to a system that has shown it doesn’t work?

    Surely if one were being reasonable about it, they’d recognise the role of both government and corporations as playing a part in generating and sustaining prosperity. But to think that it would be better if we left it all up to the corporations? That’s just lunacy, and a lunacy that should be rejected on both theoretical and pragmatic grounds.

    Absolute fucking idiocy!

  56. Shaun says

    70. Kel: the need for recent bailouts of major corporations whose services are integral to the system

    You mean those heavily regulated financial organisations whom the government strongly encouraged to make risky loans with the understanding that they would be bailed out if things went belly up? If they hadn’t been bailed out then they would have collapsed and corporations who didn’t take as many risks would have bought up their assets and only those competent managers would be making their million dollar salaries instead of those who caused the mess.

    But to think that it would be better if we left it all up to the corporations?

    Yes because they make money when we voluntarily give it to them, which only happens if they do what pleases us. If politicians waste money or screw up they just blame it on a supposed “free market” and raise taxes which we don’t get a choice about paying.

    The problems with corporations these days is that government has corrupted many of them, giving them special privileges and subsidies if they do the government’s bidding/support their reelection bids.

  57. says

    Shaun, are you high right now? Even if governments encouraged risky business, why didn’t the corporations restrain themselves? Why did we have the banking sector engaging in risky business even though they didn’t have to? The government didn’t force them after all… And this is the problem I’m trying to highlight. That they could do it because it seemed like good business strategy at the time, or that there were idiots in charge – these are inevitabilities as has been shown time and time again. You can’t blame the governments for what the corporations did, and it’s really disingenuous to suggest otherwise. It reminded me of the economist who blamed regulation for the GFC, as if less regulation would have meant better business.

    That we can have preventative measures and ways to assess impact on the wider system are surely a good thing. And your notion that the rational consumer will be the ultimate arbiter of fairness is idealised rubbish.

    Again, there’s no point in having a rational conversation here. You’re talking idealised nonsense that has failed both in theory and in practice time and time again. You’re living in a stable society where your taxes contribute to the overall prosperity, get over yourself.

  58. says

    Like I said above, I’ve heard this same spiel time and time again. It seems that anything that mentions libertarians brings libertarians to give the same case again and again. The one saving grace is that the extreme of libertarian voices will never be actually realised, but the myths they propagate in society about the nature of capitalism do a disservice to the political discourse and warp the merits of capitalism by distorting them into the absurdist forms that come with libertarian outrage.

  59. Shaun says

    72. Kell: Even if governments encouraged risky business, why didn’t the corporations restrain themselves? Why did we have the banking sector engaging in risky business even though they didn’t have to? The government didn’t force them after all…

    There was a general understanding that the government considered those corporations “to big to fail” and it was actually a big shock that the government didn’t save Lehman Brothers. In any case they certainly believe that now so they have no incentive to improve going on. If you can gamble and expect to keep your winnings and have the government cover your losses then why not?
    They should just have been let to fail, which would have punished those who made mistakes and rewarded those who did well. Those who didn’t screw up would have bought up all the sub-prime mortgages on the cheap and made out well, leaving the market in a much healthier position.

  60. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    As I said before, Shaun, you’re an economic illiterate. What happened to the financial markets was LACK OF REGULATION, not too much of it.

    In 1932 the Glass-Steagall Act regulated or prohibited various financial actions which helped cause the Great Depression.* In 1998 the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act repealed much of Glass-Steagall. Economic turmoil followed shortly thereafter.

    If you want to argue economics then go for it. Please be aware that I’m an actual economist with actual facts at my disposal.

    *Perhaps you’ve heard of the Great Depression. Economic chaos, millions of people out of work, people kept from starvation solely by governmental support, things like that. Here’s a handy little fact for you to consider. It wasn’t the business sector which ended the Great Depression, it was government action. Despite what those ideologues at Fox News say, the New Deal was effective in reversing the economic disaster called the Great Depression.

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Considering you post was all about calling me a loudmouth, a “liberturd” (3 times), not an anarchist (fine what label should I use?), wrong and arrogant rather than presenting any counter points or constructive criticism?

    Liberturds like you are both arrogant and ignorant. Kel and ‘Tis have both shown your unremarkable (ie, typical) ignorance of economics. Arrogant in your case is trying to pretend not to be a liberturd, and ignorant for thinking we wouldn’t notice you have the classic symptoms of the disease. And it is a mental disease. As you might guess, your political/economic ignorance and arrogance expressed as an unevidenceless theology isn’t appreciated here. We’ve had steady nonsense presented to us since six months before Obama was elected, and we are tired of the practitioners who think we have never been exposed to their theological idiocy. Anyone with a shred of idea for the common good and empathy, which we do have here, is immune to the ravings of this disease. Call yourself anything you want. I have have your number, and will keep calling you what you are.

  62. says

    It’s interesting how morally we can treat corporations like individuals, yet when we talk about corporations doing the wrong thing, the main concerns are how their actions affect the system as a whole. If a company is “too big to fall” yet falls anyway, in what sense is there punishment? The people at fault are probably a few individuals, yet such an effect affects teh whole company, the community, and society at large. Just what are we punishing exactly? Because it seems such a setup would punish us all, and not those responsible.

    Morally, we’re not equipped to deal with notions like corporations. Our sense of market justice is misplaced outrage, and stupid outrage at that because of all the flow-on effects that come from such a view of corporate entities.

  63. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    ‘Tis

    It wasn’t the business sector which ended the Great Depression, it was government action

    Wasn’t that the idea of this commie eugenicist Keynes? :)

  64. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Roads: tollroad companies.

    What a great idea, in particular because there is so much room for competitors when it comes to the roads of a region. Also, this construction is explicitely antisocial because it permits wealthy people to do everything, and the poor nothing.

    Infrastructure: those who use it ie ports: shipping companies etc. Buildings? Just like now days the people who are going to use a building pay someone to do it, government doesn’t run construction…

    I was talking about public construction.

    Research: those who use it ie Drugs: drug companies, electronics: electronics manufacturers. Seeing a trend here?

    Yes, I see a trend towards all knowledge being proprietary and non-public, exclusive to super-powerful corporations. Also, I see the death of fundamental research. Good job! Now, all that’s missing from your explanation is how exactly you plan to turn the solidarity-based health system into a elitist nightmare.

  65. KG says

    I support anarcho-capitalism because I genuinely believe that the evidence supports the idea that it will benefit everyone. – Shaun

    You’ve just written “I am a moron” in gigantic illuminated letters for everyone to read. I notice you haven’t actually provided any of that alleged evidence.

    Reducing wage won’t do much good when all your workers jump ship and go work for the competition.

    Yeah, that’s exactly how it worked in the 19th century.

    Oh, wait. No, it didn’t. What generally happened instead was that the employers got together and agreed to hold down wages to near-starvation levels and keep prices up, sold adulterated foodstuffs, had blacklists of “troublemakers” who insisted on – for example – a living wage, meal breaks in the 14-hour days, or the machines having safety features which cut into profits, and hired thugs to intimidate, beat and sometimes kill uppity workers.

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” – Adam Smith (yes, that Adam Smith)

  66. KG says

    Incidentally, Shaun, I see you are, for a wonder, not a climate change denialist. So how, in your fantasy world, could companies be restrained from continuing to churn out greenhouse gases like there’s no tomorrow? After all, for each individual company, it makes no sense at all to reduce emissions in any way that would also reduce profits. Admittedly, non-anarcho-capitalism isn’t doing too well here – but that’s clearly because this is a global problem, and there’s no global authority with the power to pass and enforce the necessary legislation. In the case of more local pollution problems, it has always been government action that has dealt with them successfully, never the magic market.

  67. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    It appears Shaun has better things to do than try to justify the unjustifiable.

    In the unlikely chance that he’ll be back again, I’m responding to this bit of idiocy in his post #69:

    It used to be that those fishing the river or whose land it crossed etc could go to the courts and sue the polluters for essentially trespassing on their property and win, it was only after the government sided with the factory owners for a while in the name of “progress” that pollution was able to grow into such a problem. I don’t give the government much credit for coming in and fixing a problem they created in the first place.

    People suing polluters normally did not win. The defense would demand the plaintiff legally prove the defendant caused a majority of the pollution. This was almost impossible to do and the defendant would win the case. That’s one of the major problems with looneytarianism of any flavor, reality rarely matches the ideology.

    It’s true that in the 19th Century the government took a laissez faire attitude towards corporations. It wasn’t until people started complaining and voting against the business backers that government started regulating business. That’s another problem with looneytarians, few of them know any economic history.

    You may not give the government much credit for fixing pollution but normal people recognize that government has done more to fix pollution than anyone else. The Cuyahoga River doesn’t catch on fire any more. Sorry if reality doesn’t match your ideology again.

  68. Kagehi says

    You mean those heavily regulated financial organisations whom the government strongly encouraged to make risky loans with the understanding that they would be bailed out if things went belly up?

    Yeah, those “heavily regulated” financial institutions which where “deregulated”, so they could make risky investments, such as promoting, “everyone should be able to own their home”, by members of the government, which like you, insisted it would “help the economy” to “deregulate and privatize more things”.

    If you are going to present arguments against government action, at least get what the fuck they *did* do, when they acted, right, instead of just insisting that, somehow, those risky actions would have, or could have, happened “under” the prior regulation, which was designed “specifically” to prevent such speculation, and had to be removed, to allow them to “invest in new and innovative ways”.

    Bloody hell. Its like insisting that a serial killer wouldn’t have gone around removing people’s internal organs, had some government agency not deregulated a heavily regulated medical industry, to make transplants easier. These people, now that it blew up in their faces, have been stopped pulling this BS on housing, and some other things, but, guess what? My student loans are now no longer owned by Citibank, who used to handle then via the “Student Loan Corporation”. Now, its Fannie Mae. It might be a familiar name, since its one of the idiot companies that helped cause the housing bubble. Guess what the “payback” rate on student loans is? Here is a hint, its ***far*** worse than house loans ever where, and many people *never* pay them back. So, now that Fannie Mae, et al, can’t trade worthless properties back and forth, to make a quick buck, they are instead opting the do the *exact some identical thing* with other, high risk loans, buying and trading those to each other, as “packages”, just like they did with housing.

    Any bets on how long it will take before the new, old, new “investments” they are making blow up like housing did?

    Note what the government did and didn’t do. It *did* tell them they couldn’t pull this shit with housing any more. It **didn’t** tell them they couldn’t do similar, or the same, stupid BS with any other loans they had. So, since it is, for the short term, a winning strategy, and thanks to the same bought and sold assholes that don’t want them regulated, since their pockets are lined by them, they go on doing the same things, just in a different category. Proper regulation would have meant saying, “Everyone should own a home doesn’t mean you can trade loans between banks, like toilet paper, stop doing it with *all* of them, not just housing.” What we got was, “Wow! We better do something to make it look like we regulated them, but damn, I made a shit load of money, until things blew up, from stocks in those companies, and lobbyist ‘charity fundraisers’, so I better not actually stop them doing it all over again, I might not get as much money off them if I do.”

    That isn’t a failure of government, its corruption of government by money, such that they are beholden to the people that **want** to do risky and stupid things, and **lobby for** deregulation, to allow them to do it.