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Capitalism: not just an idea, a religion

I don’t think I’ve ever met one of these face to face: an unapologetic libertarian fanatic who denies the existence of poverty, and claims that private charity would take care of it if it did exist. And at the same time, he’s stupid enough to voluntarily allow himself to be interviewed for the Daily Show! Oh, right, those two things are not contradictions.

(via Kick! )

Comments

  1. raven says

    and claims that private charity would take care of it if it did exist.

    It wouldn’t even cover a small percentage of what the government spends.

    1. FWIW, the churches are all having financial problems. Their membership is down and the struggling economy effects those that are left.

    2. National Council of Churches to Examine Its Financial Problems
    www. christianpost. com › church & ministry‎

    Feb 13, 2012 – Major ecumenical organization National Council of Churches will be examining its financial problems at its upcoming leadership meeting later …

    Even the National Council of Churches is in serious financial difficulty.

    3. Around 4,000 churches a year close in the USA. A lot of others are on a steep downtrend.

  2. says

    Also, why would a poor person want to be obligated to an organization, like a church, in which they have no say at all in its management?

  3. MJP says

    Capitalist ideology is quasi-religious in another sense, too – it claims that, since earnings are proportionate to productivity, rich people earn orders of magnitude more than average because they’re orders of magnitude more productive than average. This is effectively the same as a belief in demigods.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    I just went and read a column by this John Tamney person. He makes the same stupid argument that Alan Greenspan did over a decade ago, that lack of capital is the limiting factor in job growth. Greenspan, as Fed chair, cranked interest rates way down during a period when the economy was in a slight recession, but still decent, to fix this hypothetical “problem”. Did he get more innovation and more jobs? No, he got masses of money chasing yield which ended up in junk mortgage securities, and caused a huge housing bubble. Greenspan, probably more than any other single entity, is responsible for the Great Recession of 2007, yet this Tamney creature still spews forth this obviously discredited idea.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    It’s as if the entire planet sprang into existence around 1940 — it isn’t possible that any of these people could locate a history book and note how Western charities leaped to the fore to prevent starvation time and again over the last few centuries, before government assistance was invented.

    Or maybe, when they read “A Modest Proposal” back in school, they skipped over the descriptions of the beggars dying by the side of the road while the wealthy Dubliners don’t lift a finger to help them, because they were too busy searching to see if the essay might list any good recipes.

  6. says

    That great Free Market in the sky….If capitalism could be something else, it would be something else. It’s like saying Soviet Communism would’ve been great if they could have just gotten that dang government out of it.

  7. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    How absolutely fucking clueless can one person be? “I want to get rid of foodstamps…. because we don’t have really starving people here in America.” But you will if you get rid of foodstamps, won’t you, douchebag?

  8. Muz says

    The macro economics of it all sometimes has a point (well, once in a while), but it’s the ‘trickling down’ of the philosophy and psychology that it’s the most troubling. It’s basically anti human and even anti democratic truisms, ultimately. But they’ve got so much cache now it’s kind of terrifying.
    If you ask the average joe they probably would say that if you give people stuff you create a culture of dependence. It’s “Common sense” (a phrase which should always set off alarm bells. I don’t care if Paine was a smart guy) and say “Hell if I didn’t have to work I wouldn’t. That’s what happened in Russia! No incentive to work”.
    Trouble is there’s no evidence that this is the case. Even charities that flat out give poor people money and ask nothing for it find that people’s likelihood of raising themselves from poverty isn’t harmed (or necessarily helped) by the method of aid. Last I heard anyway. It’s all completely situational.
    Yet this quid pro quo paternalistic nonsense infects our culture from top to bottom. It’s proof the outcome doesn’t matter a whit. It’s more about soothing the moral consternation of the already powerful.

  9. stevem says

    “SNAP is cruel”, cuz it makes the poor-people dependent on government handouts when the proper thing is to make them work for their food and well-being. These “hungries” are not starving, they don’t have distended bellies and roll around in the dirt roads. The “hungies” in America are very lucky to be here, and not in one of the 3rd world countries. If we eliminated SNAP, charities will take over and take care of them. Everybody is charitable and compassionate, SNAP is overstepping taking away our chance to do good, taking all the credit away from us, and doesn’t let us help them directly. <blah, blah, blah>

    It’s so ubiquitous to hear them say, “government shouldn’t do that, charities will step in if government step out”. It is also pretty contradictory [what else is new?] that they don’t want the poor to be “dependent” on the government, but it’s perfectly right for the poor to be dependent on charities and the “good will” of all the well-to-do. “Don’t take from me, he’ll give you something (someday).” It’s just the old Randian trope, “I got mine, go get yours.” Dressed up to sound a little more compassionate, even though it is really just shifting the “burden” from the speaker to the ‘guy over there’.

    We the People of the United States, […], promote the general Welfare, […]

    Have these people ever read the document they revere so deeply? Or are they just stuck on the “Bill of Rights”? I.E. the part that says what gov. CAN’T do, totally ignoring the part that says what government is formed to do. I’ll bet they like to hide behind little technicalities like, what I quoted is just the preamble, not a legal part of the definition of government. Typical lawyer, using technicalities to get out of whatever they want.

  10. says

    stevem

    “SNAP is cruel”, cuz it makes the poor-people dependent on government handouts when the proper thing is to make them work for their food and well-being dependent on churches and feudal magnates instead

    Despite the rhetoric, these people don’t really care that much if anyone’s actually working per se, they just want to make sure that the source of the money has total power over the poors, and can enforce behaviours on them that way.

  11. Muz says

    On another note, the medically inclined might know: Isn’t malnutrition to the point that your stomach lining eats itself and you get that belly distension kinda the point of no return as far as starvation goes?
    You can’t eat and need at least intensive care to come back from that, if I remember correctly.

    So, knowingly or otherwise, our guy there really does think you’re not really poor until people are dying on TV. (and there’s probably a comment on how this will affect the health care system in there somewhere)

  12. says

    Churches do serve food to the hungry. I’ve been to one many times before my disability came through.
    They get food that is donated by stores because it’s out of fate or wouldn;t sell, so it’s not a very well-rounded diet.
    And with the Federal funding they get to run these programs, there’s not all that much to go…

    What? Oh yeah, didn’t you know?
    Federal funding.

    Bless those churches.

  13. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @stevem

    …that they don’t want the poor to be “dependent” on the government, but it’s perfectly right for the poor to be dependent on charities and the “good will” of all the well-to-do.

    The well-to-do have to pay taxes. They do not have to be charitable. Methinks the reason for the libertarian preference for charity rather than foodstamps may be found within that little fact. /cynicism

  14. says

    Has anyone pointed out that charities are far less efficient than government when it comes to providing nutrition? So, really, if we’re being good little capitalists (and getting the most benefit for the least money), we should be supporting SNAP.

    But, you know, this isn’t about capitalism per se, it’s really just about hating anyone who isn’t a Randian protagonist.

    PS: I ♥ Jessica Williams.

  15. Marc Abian says

    The very existence of poverty shows that charities won’t do enough. Unless he’s trying to claim that charity can’t be effective while taxes are so gosh darn high…

  16. Nathair says

    Anyone got a link to a copy of this that can be viewed outside the US?

    Or the date of the episode?

  17. Nemo says

    It absolutely is a religion for some people. And sadly, I have met them in real life (and many more online).

    @Thumper #15:

    The well-to-do have to pay taxes. They do not have to be charitable. Methinks the reason for the libertarian preference for charity rather than foodstamps may be found within that little fact. /cynicism

    That’s not cynicism — most of them would openly admit that. They might phrase it a little differently, but only a little. They’d say that taxing them to support the shiftless (or for any reason, really) is immoral coercion. The immorality of leaving people to starve pales in comparison, in their so-called philosophy. And the idea that they could owe something to the society that enabled their wealth is completely anathema.

  18. unclefrogy says

    this attitude is just the same attitude a toddler has when they first grasp the idea of mine and there for everything is mine! mine! mine!
    charity means someone else will take for it I don’t have to’
    I give a little (but not near enough to meet the need)

    the attitude is applied to taxes and government spending, they want the services of a government but do not want to have to pay for it. they want cops and fire fighters but do not want to pay a fair wage for those who do the job let alone retirement.. why does anyone even listen to them?
    uncle frogy

  19. says

    I agree that most people would probably be unhappy being reliable on someone else for handouts. You know what else makes people unhappy? Starving to death! Watching their children waste away from malnutrition! Laying awake at night wondering if they’ll be able to make rent next month!

    Besides, isn’t it strange that when a poor person gets a few dollars to help their food budget, it’s a hand-out, but when a corporation gets several million dollars in tax exemptions, it’s just an economic stimulus.

    If these people really believed that handouts were a bad thing, they’d stop taking them themselves. They don’t have a problem with handouts. They have a problem with handouts for anyone but them.

  20. M can help you with that. says

    It’s not just on issues like meeting needs that are unaddressed by The Most Holy Market where doctrinaire capitalists get religious. Their whole model of property (or Property) is religious; “No, property isn’t a set of social relations organized around deciding who gets to use what land and material; it’s a transcendent metaphysical relationship between a person and his (usually his) proper extension in the inanimate world! My property is suffused with my life essence!”

    Those lazy poor people, of course, should be grateful for whatever traces of vital essence the good upstanding capitalists deign to grant them. And now this is starting to go in a whole different direction…

  21. robro says

    Alexandra @#16

    Has anyone pointed out that charities are far less efficient than government when it comes to providing nutrition?

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t you know? One of the foundational tenets of all these conservatives and libertarians is that governments are intrinsically inefficient. They assume everyone knows this. Just to prove the point, they go to great lengths to hamstring government to guarantee that it is inefficient.

    But, you know, this isn’t about capitalism per se, it’s really just about hating anyone who isn’t a Randian protagonist.

    And perhaps more importantly…hating anyone who isn’t White. Needless to say, a lot of this sort of posturing is to protect White peoples money and privilege, while Brown and Black people stand in line waiting for a handout or just starve.

    Meanwhile, the biggest recipients of government largess are billion dollar corporations and other truly “needy” types. I have an old Tom Tomorrow comic strip book with a piece on this subject. At the time (1997) McDonalds had received $466k to promote chicken McNuggets oversees, GM received more than $110 million to create jobs (while slashing 104,000 jobs), Disney got $300k to study brighter fireworks, and Sam Donaldson got $47,000 annually for his sheep ranch in New Mexico.

    That was then. I’m sure it’s better now. Oh, wait…maybe not. Per Think by Numbers: “About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies.”

  22. says

    Only the naive would believe churches are going to “solve poverty”. Churches are like tax bases, the money comes from where they are, they’re not distributed to other areas. If anyone rich did put a $50 in the plate, it would go to pay for the local pastor’s BMW, not the poor living downtown at the shelter.

    As a recent study showed, the rich’s idea of “charity” is to give to groups an organizations that the rich and their children benefit from. It’s a myth that the wealthy have any concern for the poor.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/14/the_wealthy_give_to_charity_elite_schools_and_operas_partner/

  23. raven says

    wikipedia:

    For fiscal year 2005, more than $2.2 billion in competitive social service grants were awarded to faith-based organizations.

    A lot of the money or stuff the churches hand out to the poor comes from…the federal government!!!

    I don’t have a current estimate but in 2005 it was $2.2 billion.

    The churches tax breaks are estimated at $71 billion.

    If you actually run the numbers, the churches are more a net consumer of resources than a provider of charity.

  24. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Sometimes, an event intervenes between mass poverty and mass starvation called revolution. Oftentimes, in times of revolution, the rich are despoiled. So there’s that.

  25. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Nemo #22

    Yes, but this particular libertarian was trying desperately to make out that charities would solve the problem where social welfare can’t. He was trying to pretend he had a conscience. I was trying to point out that the underlying message was, as always, “But me no like tax! *stomps foot*”.

    And he’s desperately trying to convince himself that he’s not a complete and utter douchecanoe by equivocating wildly about “real starvation” and trying to pretend foodstamps don’t help the poor anyway because charities and that.

  26. anuran says

    Just to echo what raven said in comment 1:

    According to a variety of sources including Church Finance Today church membership is down. In the “best” regions of the country about two thirds of churches are losing money.

    Where is this great wave of Christian charity going to come from when the churches, which at least provide some sort of direct personal benefits to their parishioners can’t even make ends meet?

  27. OlliP says

    I’ve seen many of the daily show’s interviews over the last two years and I’m not sure if they are parodies with actors playing roles or real interviews (including this one). I don’t think anyone could actully hold a journalism job and be as stupid as the person in that video. I mean he names the program he wants to abolish and a little later can’t name a program that does excactly what the program that he wants to abolish does. I guess you can cut and paste or dub when editing, but the interviews don’t look like that.

    Put on top the heartlessness and it’s hard to believe those are the actual thoughts of a real person.

    A far as I understand this kind of parody is allowed even with a name of an actual magazine like Forbes on the interviewee. As in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (accoding to Wikipedia):

    parody – – was deemed to be within the law, because the Court found that reasonable people would not have interpreted the parody to contain factual claims…”

  28. playonwords says

    Colbert is blocked in the UK because Sky (Murdoch) shows it 2 weeks later on subscription

  29. Christopher says

    I’ve seen many of the daily show’s interviews over the last two years and I’m not sure if they are parodies with actors playing roles or real interviews (including this one).

    Poe’s law in action. This dude is real and is indistinguishable from a parody.

    His web site at Forbes

  30. coffeehound says

    private charity would take care of it if it did exist

    How stupid do you have to be to make this argument with a straight face?
    Private charity DOES exist. And it’s not enough as evidenced by the fact that we’re having this f@#$ing conversation.Why are there homeless, hungry people out there in droves if it was sufficient? Point me to a time that there was ever enough private charity to make a dent in this problem.

  31. coffeehound says

    Marc @17,

    The very existence of poverty shows that charities won’t do enough. Unless he’s trying to claim that charity can’t be effective while taxes are so gosh darn high…

    And that would be just as clueless an argument given that taxes in the U.S. are on average, the lowest they’ve been in thirty years , even though poverty(more specifically income inequality) on the rise.I’d like to see their explanation for this coincidence.

  32. MJP says

    #25

    Their whole model of property (or Property) is religious; “No, property isn’t a set of social relations organized around deciding who gets to use what land and material; it’s a transcendent metaphysical relationship between a person and his (usually his) proper extension in the inanimate world! My property is suffused with my life essence!”

    They usually use Locke’s argument for property – that the original proprietor has “mixed labor” with the land they use or the object they create. This argument is based on a fallacy called “reification,” in that it treats labor as a substance that can be “mixed” with things. Furthermore, it ignores the reality that most of the property in the world isn’t in the hands of the actual working class. (this is where they bring in their view of the rich as hyper-productive mega-genius Übermenschen.)

  33. OlliP says

    @Christopher #35
    Wow. So the guy is real. I guess “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.

  34. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know, these Randian Capitalists remind me of students given an assignment of reading Adam Smith, and too lazy to actually read what Smith wrote, they invent a magical market place regulated by a magic invisible hand. If you placed magnets on Smith’s rotating corpse and put a copper coil around his coffin, you could pprobably power a city.

  35. says

    “On another note, the medically inclined might know: Isn’t malnutrition to the point that your stomach lining eats itself and you get that belly distension kinda the point of no return as far as starvation goes?”

    This is a very good point, and shouldn’t be overlooked. The ignorance cruelty of the man in this video are staggering. In his world, hunger is not a problem until people are literally dying in the streets. He obviously knows nothing about poverty or hunger, but he’s not afraid to talk on television and write columns about these things he doesn’t understand.

    He’s living proof that free markets don’t promote anything like a meritocracy. How could someone pull down a salary being a pundit about things they’ve never experienced if the market promoted anything like expertise? This guy’s real occupation is to reassure the thieves plundering the public that they’re the good guys.

  36. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    The guy is real, and he has an article about Hunger Games.
    (source)

    I bring you just the end of the article:

    To read Catching Fire and presume that it’s anything other than a polemic against communistic, brutal government is a certain act of willful blindness. In a capitalistic world largely free of government we’re happily dividing up work on the way to producing plenty in the name of profit, all free of fear of politicians.

    Panem, on the other hand, is marked by certain misery such that everyone is an unhappy slave to the state. This is the true ‘race to the bottom,’ and we should be thankful that Suzanne Collins has written such a popular trilogy that will make the horrors of big government apparent to all who read her.

    Bringing up Hunger Games in the interview was obviously doubly appropriate.

  37. M can help you with that. says

    MJP @ 38 —

    There’s also a reification of the property relation going on. They use reification of labor as an excuse (and hell, even Marx flirts with that reification), but they’re quick to insist on the alienation of labor from property as soon as a property owner has a (capital) stake in the process of production. Labor is a lesser deity; property is the ruler-god of capitalism.

  38. ButchKitties says

    Also, why would a poor person want to be obligated to an organization, like a church, in which they have no say at all in its management?

    Poor people losing all say in what happens to them is a feature, not a bug.

    But I like how they’re trying to sell a system in which poor people would be MORE dependent because they would be obligated to private organizations that aren’t accountable to them, instead of receiving assistance from a government that they (ideally) get to vote on, as something that would make people more independent.

  39. mobius says

    Terry Goodkind has written a number of popular sci fi/fantasy books. So recently I decided to read one and see for myself.

    Big mistake.

    Turns out Goodkind is a particularly unpleasant version of a libertarian…he is an Objectivist. Yes, that’s right…one of those followers of Ayn Rand.

    For most of the book, the Randian “philosophy” was just in the background. But for about three pages he went on a rant. The background noise made me twitch a bit, but the full-put rant really ruined the book for me. And made it so I would never read his stuff again.

  40. adobo says

    Clueless…CHECK!
    Arrogant….CHECK!
    Clueslessly Arrogant…. CHECK!
    Self-absorbed…self-centered…self-important…self-unaware sociopathy…. CHECK!

    I think I have the answer Mr Trebek.

    WHAT IS A LIBERTARIAN!

  41. robro says

    raven #1 & #28

    FWIW, the churches are all having financial problems.

    Which is exactly why this “faith based” crap is around, right. A percentage of that $2.2+ billion goes to administrative expenses (preachers and their families* salaries), counselors (the preacher again), building maintenance (new paint job on the chapel, tables, et al), not to mention what gets syphoned off in more nefarious ways, say food from the Food Bank pantry ending up on the preacher’s table or just out-and-out embezzlement.

    * It’s not uncommon to find nepotism in churches. The preacher’s wife runs the office, his younger brother is youth and/or choir director, his older kids get summer “vacation bible school” gigs, etc.

  42. Nathair says

    Shorter libertarianism: Anti-poverty programs hurt the poor and make them dependent, which is why private charity should do it.

    Shorter yet: Programs bad, private good.

  43. raven says

    Which is exactly why this “faith based” crap is around, right. A percentage of that $2.2+ billion goes to administrative expenses (preachers and their families* salaries), …

    Right.

    A lot of that $2.2 billion gets siphoned off one way or another. These are xians we are talking about. I doubt if anyone knows where that money goes or cares.

    They’ve also refused to give any of it to Pagan groups. No suprise. The advisory boards are almost all…xians.

    It’s just welfare for the churches.

  44. anuran says

    @45 mobious writes:

    Turns out Goodkind is a particularly unpleasant version of a libertarian…he is an Objectivist. Yes, that’s right…one of those followers of Ayn Rand.

    It gets even better. At the end of the Stark Fist of RemovalSword of Truth series the Hero gets a magic wish. What does he ask for? Long healthy life? Wealth? Children?

    Nope. He kills off everyone who doesn’t share his philosophy

  45. says

    He’s living proof that free markets don’t promote anything like a meritocracy. How could someone pull down a salary being a pundit about things they’ve never experienced if the market promoted anything like expertise? This guy’s real occupation is to reassure the thieves plundering the public that they’re the good guys.

    I actually had the epiphany that their incompetence is WHY they believe in the market

    “Look if even an idiot like me is a success clearly anyone can do it so it’s the poor’s own fault!”

    Turns out Goodkind is a particularly unpleasant version of a libertarian…he is an Objectivist. Yes, that’s right…one of those followers of Ayn Rand.

    Goodkind’s name is an ironic damnation of epic levels. His work is derivative tripe mixed in with a bubbling curd of reprehensible shit.

  46. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Two things:

    1. Forbes guy looks like a robot. He did blink a few times, but I think that was an algorithm built into his program.

    2. Jessica Williams is seriously funny. As in funny, but with a totally serious message. This is only the second time I’ve seen her work (the other being about black Santa), but she’s moved to the top of both my favorite media people and favorite comedians.

  47. Azuma Hazuki says

    Laissez-faire capitalism doesn’t work. And it doesn’t work for the exact same reason communism doesn’t work:

    PEOPLE SUCK

    Rationally speaking, we have reached a point in our history where the artificial scarcity model needs to be scrapped. One way or another I believe, unless we destroy ourselves, we’ll land in a post-scarcity model for at least the basics of infrastructure (food, potable water, electricity, shelter).

    The thing is, capitalism does wonky things when one or more of its parameters approaches an asymptote. Take software and music “piracy” as an example: the companies fucked up by selling a specific arrangement of ones and zeroes as the product, which…wait for it…are played back on devices whose sole purpose, indeed definition, is the manipulation and production of ones and zeroes.

    What happened here? Well, what happened is that the cost of production of this specific good has hit an asymptote at just epsilon off of zero (cost of electricity, hardware, and software). Because the RIAA/MPAA’s model is specifically selling the content, as opposed to “value-add” things like concert venues, merchandise, etc., they suddenly find themselves in a market with virtually zero barrier to entry. Their customers by definition own devices which can produce a near-unlimited supply of the good they are selling.

    Now, if these types were truly free-market, they’d roll over and admit that their business model is dead and deserves to go the way of the horse and buggy. But they won’t, and because they’re wealthy, they coerce and bribe the government into manipulating and distorting the very free market they claim to love so much in order to prop up their business model. This is why we get insane IP laws, including the secretive Trans-Pacific trade treaty that attempts to force US IP rules onto the entire world and do an end-run around the Constitution.

    This is artificial scarcity. With music and software it’s just an annoyance…but imagine what happens if someone in charge of the food or water supply decides to pull this. And it’s happening wherever any big multinational privatizes the water. In a world where everything is for sale, everything has a price and nothing has value.

    We need to act, now, to stop this from happening with energy, water, and food. We have the technology.

  48. MJP says

    #42:

    I’ve noticed a tendency of libertarians to write fluff articles about how the latest blockbuster movie has a libertarian message. In the distant past, I recall seeing articles about how Iron Man and Transformers were libertarian movies.

    As for the Hunger Games, while it isn’t exactly clear what the author’s politics are, there’s certainly a strong anti-competitive theme that hardly fits with libertarian politics. (I haven’t read the books, but I’ve seen the two films.)

  49. Rip Steakface says

    @42 Beatrice

    I read The Hunger Games as far less of a polemic against a nebulously defined “big government” (it lifts elements from 1984, obviously, but what dystopia involving a controlling dictator doesn’t?), and more of a commentary on publicity, the maintenance of a public image, and spin control. To quote some guy on Twitter, “not for nothing is Katniss’ wardrobe consultant a main character.”

    The second film actually captured this pretty well. There’s an entire segment where the various tributes (all previous victors of the Games) go onto a pre-Games show in which they sort of give their last words to Panem on TV – and at least half of them do their best to tear down the Games’ image as something maintaining order, and instead transform that image into something creating chaos. By the end (after Peeta gives a revelation regarding Katniss’ [fake] pregnancy), the crowd is shouting for them to cancel the Games. They don’t, and then just days later, the revolution begins proper.

  50. chrislawson says

    Muz@13

    The process that gives starving people big bellies is called kwashiorkor. You can google for more details, but the basic process is eating enough total calories but being so starved of protein that your liver can’t make enough of the proteins essential for fluid regulation. When you can’t make enough albumin and other blood proteins, you lose osmotic pressure in the blood, fluid shifts from your blood vessels to your peritoneum and you end up with a belly full of water. The liver enlarges as well, which only adds to the abdominal bulge.

    It’s a horrifying condition that is especially damaging to children.

  51. chrislawson says

    ray_dilbert_space@40

    Agreed. Adam Smith had one of those once-in-a-generation genius insights when he saw that the “invisible hand” could in theory push a free market to find the cheapest, most efficient commercial transactions. He then spent another few hundred pages explaining why a truly unregulated market would necessarily degenerate into a market ruled by monopolies, cartels, trade restrictions, corruption of the legislative process, and unequal bargaining power between worker and employer.

    A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, a merchant, though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subsist a month, and scarce any a year without employment. In the long run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate.

    All those idiot libertarians who worship Adam Smith have no idea what their idol stood for.

  52. A Hermit says

    The Libertarian plan for everything:

    Step 1: Identify the problem.

    Step 2: Magic Market Fairies.

    Step 3: Problem solved.

    See; it’s so simple!

  53. says

    How dumb and dishonest do you have to be to think “The Hunger Games” was an anti-communist message? The reason there was a rebellion in the distant past was because the people weren’t getting what they needed, from anyone. And the reason for the Games was because the government didn’t want to do anything to fix the problems that caused the rebellion — so they spent their resources on bread-and-circuses-minus-the-bread instead. If the evil Panem regime was really “communist,” they would have mixed their brutal crackdown with all sorts of food aid, economic stimulus for the provinces, infrastructure investments…and, yes, government healthcare. And once the people got back to working and eating regularly, there’s no way they’d risk losing any of that to support some uppity teenager with nothing to offer, no matter how nice she looked in a flaming dress.

    And besides, for those who can’t handle even the subtlety of a “young adult” story, just look at the ruling class’s clothes: that level of ridiculous overblown ostentation doesn’t say “communism,” it says “conspicuous waste.”

    Seriously, what “communist” regime ever did anything remotely like the Hunger Games? They don’t have Hunger Games, they have Missiles on Parade. And what “communist” ruler ever wore anything more ostentatious than four medals on his plain cheap suit while watching Missiles on Parade?

  54. Ogvorbis: Failing at being human. says

    Which is exactly why this “faith based” crap is around, right. A percentage of that $2.2+ billion goes to administrative expenses (preachers and their families* salaries)

    This.

    For all the abuse that federal, state and local governments get for being beauracracies, they are far more efficient than many private charities, religious and non, at getting more money to the people who need it.

    Some charities spend upwards of 80% on overhead, salaries, and hiring fundraising companies (usually for-profit fundraising companies).

    For instance, Kids Wish has raised $110 million in the past decade. Around 4% went to the sick children. The link is to a Tampa Bay Times newspaper and it is eye opening. And only the tip of the iceberg. Especially the way that charities sign contracts with companies run by relatives, friends, board members, etc., which get most of the donations.

    At least the federal government is honest about how much is spent to pay the people distributing the money. Limbaugh (sorry) 78% of welfare spending is administrative costs. As Media Matters points out, it is much lower — 4.9% for Medicaid, 17.1% for food stamps, 4.5% for SCHIP. How many private charities do better? Some. But many charities are set up as ways to make the administrators, their friends, their families, rich.

  55. Ogvorbis: Failing at being human. says

    Which is exactly why this “faith based” crap is around, right. A percentage of that $2.2+ billion goes to administrative expenses (preachers and their families* salaries)

    This.

    For all the abuse that federal, state and local governments get for being beauracracies, they are far more efficient than many private charities, religious and non, at getting more money to the people who need it.

    Some charities spend upwards of 80% on overhead, salaries, and hiring fundraising companies (usually for-profit fundraising companies).

    For instance, Kids Wish has raised $110 million in the past decade. Around 4% went to the sick children. The link is to a Tampa Bay Times newspaper and it is eye opening. And only the tip of the iceberg. Especially the way that charities sign contracts with companies run by relatives, friends, board members, etc., which get most of the donations.

    At least the federal government is honest about how much is spent to pay the people distributing the money. Li*baugh (sorry) claims that 78% of welfare spending is administrative costs. As Media Matters points out, it is much lower — 4.9% for Medicaid, 17.1% for food stamps, 4.5% for SCHIP. How many private charities do better? Some. But many charities are set up as ways to make the administrators, their friends, their families, rich. (Link to Media Matters has Li*baugh’s name and I think that got blocked).

  56. Ogvorbis: Failing at being human. says

    Pulling out all links and trying again.

    Which is exactly why this “faith based” crap is around, right. A percentage of that $2.2+ billion goes to administrative expenses (preachers and their families* salaries)

    This.

    For all the abuse that federal, state and local governments get for being beauracracies, they are far more efficient than many private charities, religious and non, at getting more money to the people who need it.

    Some charities spend upwards of 80% on overhead, salaries, and hiring fundraising companies (usually for-profit fundraising companies).

    For instance, Kids Wish has raised $110 million in the past decade. Around 4% went to the sick children. This is from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper and it is eye opening. And only the tip of the iceberg. Especially the way that charities sign contracts with companies run by relatives, friends, board members, etc., which get most of the donations.

    At least the federal government is honest about how much is spent to pay the people distributing the money. Li*baugh (sorry) claims that 78% of welfare spending is administrative costs. As Media Matters points out, it is much lower — 4.9% for Medicaid, 17.1% for food stamps, 4.5% for SCHIP. How many private charities do better? Some. But many charities are set up as ways to make the administrators, their friends, their families, rich. (This is from Media Matters (this is my third try, now sans links)).

  57. anteprepro says

    Huh. I didn’t realize that Terry Goodkind was basically Vox Day, if Voxy had his priorities in fantasy storytelling and political diatribes flip-flopped. And if Voxy was slightly more successful.

  58. Muz says

    Cheers Chris @57
    Sounds like the prospects for recovery are good at least, but you have to be careful how you do it/what you do it with or liver failure could result.

  59. ck says

    Ogvorbis: Failing at being human wrote three times:

    As Media Matters points out, it is much lower — 4.9% for Medicaid, 17.1% for food stamps, 4.5% for SCHIP.

    If food stamps wasn’t set up in the most ridiculous way possible, it could probably also have the <5% overhead the other two have. Instead, in the effort to prevent people from wasting this money on stuff some people think they shouldn’t be buying, the program is inflicted with unnecessary complexity, which leads to overhead and the so-called “fraud” or trading of benefits between beneficiaries in order for them to get the items they need with these funds.

  60. says

    I read The Hunger Games as far less of a polemic against a nebulously defined “big government”…

    Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t read The Hunger Games as a polemic at all. It’s a fairly simple sci-fi/fantasy story that uses a tyrannical government as a necessary backdrop, but is otherwise about as apolitical as it gets.

  61. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Personally, I’m inclined to take Collins at her word when she says that the idea for The Hunger Games came to her when she was channel surfing and ended up toggling in between a reality-TV show and a news report on the invasion of Iraq.

    The books (and the film) rather do show this inspiration.

  62. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @MJP
    I really like Locke’s “theory” of private property. I also really like the part where Locke justifies it morally by giving this example. If a man goes into the (public) woods and gathers some apples, those are his apples. If he let’s those apples go to waste, it harms no one else, because other people are free to go into the (public) woods and gather other apples.

    Then, he pulls it back to his time and place, and argues that there is all the free land you could ever want in America. Forget that it costs a lot of money to go there. Forget that you would be leaving behind your friends and family, and perhaps even safety. Forget that most people are probably not competent to start up a self sufficient farm. Forget that starting up a self sufficient farm takes a lot of pre-existing wealth.

    Then, apply that logic to today, where there is no free farmable land waiting to be taken by the indiscriminate forced relocation and slaughter of the native inhabitants waiting to be claimed.

    Even at the time, Locke’s “apples” and “America” argument was bullshit. Nowadays it is destroyed beyond all recourse.

    I’ll say it again – the original apples argument is IMHO a really good argument. Not ironclad – I can think of some exceptions – but it’s really good. The problem is that it relies on a complete and utter fiction. It is completely detached from how our reality works. We live in a reality of finite resources, and where most of those resources are already owned.

    @chrislawson
    And thank you for recognizing that Adam Smith was a legitimate capitalist and not a laissez-faire idiot. Every time I meet an idiot, I have to explain that “no no, Adam Smith was for progressive taxation”.

  63. vaiyt says

    If food stamps wasn’t set up in the most ridiculous way possible, it could probably also have the <5% overhead the other two have. Instead, in the effort to prevent people from wasting this money on stuff some people think they shouldn’t be buying, the program is inflicted with unnecessary complexity, which leads to overhead and the so-called “fraud” or trading of benefits between beneficiaries in order for them to get the items they need with these funds.

    That irritates me so much. I’m fed up with the “concerns” of many people who are otherwise in favor of a safety net; they’re more worried about potential misuse of resources than with actually helping people. Their biggest concern, as it were, is about the chance of someone who doesn’t deseeeerve help getting it (and they always give themselves the authority to determine who’s deserving and who’s not).