Monday, March 20, 2006

Regulators of Victimless Behavior

It looks like the government regulators of voluntary business transactions are leaping into warp speed mode yet again. The beauty of free enterprise capitalism is that each transaction is a win/win situation. A buyer offers to buy a product/service for cash or barter and a seller is willing to make the exchange. The terms of the transaction are agreed upon and both parties are happy. Enter the collectivist regulators who must tax, prohibit or license the activity. An example of this outrageous propensity is illustrated by a recent posting in the Florida area on the popular Craigslist.com states:

"Upscale executive seeks beautiful female 18-24 to live in his luxury condo in Coral Gables for $1/month in exchange for some light duties. Help take care of dog, cook occasionally. Sex 2x/week. Serious inquires only. Please email a picture for consideration."
Leonidas suspects that variations of these transactions have been going on since Adam and Eve but the shrill outcry of the collectivist regulators/prohibitionists who wish to interfere with behavior which injures no one has predictably surfaced. When will the collectivists cease attempting to enforce their values on the citizenry?

"The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."
Robert Heinlein

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

33 comments:

Fred said...

I saw that. Figures some busy body would have to make a fuss over it.

Wadical said...

Soon, there will be no such thing as "consensual sex". Last week I offered my wife 5 extra spaces on her "honey do" list for some....ahem....sexual favors. What the hell's the difference?

The rent contract, would be an interesting read though, don't you think?

Jeff said...

I wouldn't call them collectivists, I'd call them sucka's PRUDES. Maybe the world divides into people who are comfortable in their body and those who are not, but then you know how I feel about the relevance of dualities.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Prudes are OK except when they force their beliefs on the rest of society.

Jeff said...

And who isn't ok unless they force something on others? And when they force something unwanted on others, society wants to force them to stop. And isn't that society forcing its beliefs on individuals? If we disagree with the behavior, then it's ok. It's ok to force our beliefs on criminals, but why? Isn't it collectivism?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

You might try reading "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes 1651 or John Locke's "Two Treatises on Government" 1689.Your continued assertions that ANY law enforcement is "collectivism" are implausable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke 1689 Two Treatises on Govt

Jeff said...

I have two assertions. Duality models are extremely limited in revealing the political beliefs of an individual. We are each individuals and members of the group. How is it that ANY law enforcement ISN'T collectivism? Isn't society a collective of individuals? What I recall from my reading of Locke and the social contract, individuals give over some of their rights, particularly the right to commit violence, to the collective to secure property. I suggest that it isn't collectivism that brings you grief. It's the usual suspects: fear, greed, ignorance, impractical goals, sloth, etc. These ugly features of the human animal are particularly insidious when a group of indivduals ban together driven by ugly motives. But to blame collectivism for the problems is like blaming the gun for the killing.

I'll add Leviathan to my reading list.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

For purposes of this discussion I will use the Webster's definition of collectivism: ": a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; also : a system marked by such control" With regard to "Duality Models™, it is possible you are confusing the terms collective and aggregate. I will assume you refer to the Heinlein quote of a simplistic dichotomy. Please refrain from the use of sociological argot here. Additionally your reference to various terms such as: "fear, greed, ignorance, impractical goals and sloth" need definition, especially "greed" and "impractical goals" . I would be interested to learn of your definition of those terms as I may have different ones. It is helpful in these discussions if common acceptance of definitions and assumptions are understood.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Jeff said...

Well said. I apologize for not using the dictionary. I'm not a collectivist. With that definition of collectivism, I retract much of what I've written. I'm not sure why you use that term instead of socialism, since they appear to be almost identical. I advocate reasonable regulation for the common good, but not control. Now reasonable, that's a term that needs but likely defies common definition. Here's a quick stab at a definition of greed: a willingness to harm others for personal gain. And for impractical goals, I offer an example: world peace. Argot is a new word for me. I do tend to use my own terms with my own definitions. A bad habit I admit, and I think I'm guilty of it in this post. I'll work on either refraining or defining my terms in future comments. I made up the term duality model, but I figured you'd know what I was talking about. Yes the Heinlein quote, but also the conservative/ liberal, republican/democrat as well. I'm trying to avoid false dilemmas. Aggregate, isn't that something ordered from a quarry?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Jeff, For a possible clarification of terms see my post of Saturday March 25 at 11:25AM.

"I advocate reasonable regulation for the common good, but not control."

The paradox in the above quote: You deny being a collectivist but advocate "reasonable" regulation the only purpose of which is to control. Who is to determine the regulations? Voters? Elected representatives? Rulers? Some of us define tyranny as being forced to abide by laws wherein the only "victim" is the state. Notable exceptions to this are laws against treason.

Your definition of greed is more appropriate to theft. World peace is a condition that is unlikely to obtain as long as homo sapiens and other predators inhabit the planet.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Jeff said...

"...advocate "reasonable" regulation the only purpose of which is to control"

Perhaps we need to define control. You can't seriously be suggesting that if one supports any regulation, one is a collectivist? All law is regulation, isn't it? Enforcing any law is control isn't it? A regulation preventing the dumping of toxic waste, do only collectivists support that?

"Who is to determine the regulations?"

I think the system we have now, flawed though it is, works ok. I prefer our system to China's, and from what I know about it, to the feudal system of Medeival Europe. It definitely seems better than what I know about the Dark Ages, after Rome fell.

What is an example of the state being the only victim of a crime?

You seem to believe that the concept of government is flawed, and other than regulating a small specific set of criminal behaviors, government should not exist and the individuals should be left alone to do as they wish. Does that describe you

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

" A regulation preventing the dumping of toxic waste, do only collectivists support that?"

People dumping toxic waste are responsible for the damage they cause.



"I think the system we have now, flawed though it is, works ok."

It is definitely better than the examples you cite. That is not to say that a system of privately owned property wouldn't be superior to the present vast holdings of the government. Ever heard of the "tragedy of the commons"?

"What is an example of the state being the only victim of a crime?"

All present victimless crimes are situations that designate the state as the victim e.g. prostitution, liquor control laws, gambling, recreational drug use, seat belt and helmet laws etc.

"You seem to believe that the concept of government is flawed, and other than regulating a small specific set of criminal behaviors, government should not exist and the individuals should be left alone to do as they wish. Does that describe you"

Yep, me and most all other libertarians. How about that?

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Jeff said...

"People dumping toxic waste are responsible for the damage they cause."

Says who? What's to prevent them from dumping? If they do dump, what can be done?

"That is not to say that a system of privately owned property..."

Isn't that what the feudal system essentially was?

"Your definition of greed is more appropriate to theft."

Let's say there's this pharmaceutical company that develops a pain relief drug. They conduct trials on the drug and the study shows a statistically significant risk of heart problems resulting in death. But the company omits that part of the study from their report and releases the drug onto market without any public warning or information about the risk of heart failure. They want to profit. Does that fit my definition of greed without being theft?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

"What's to prevent them from dumping? If they do dump, what can be done?"

Any limited government will still require an enforceable legal/tort system.
This is the basic difference between the collectivist vs individualist mindset: Collectivists would regulate the POSSIBILITY of doing harm by regulating otherwise beneficial behavior. These regulations include gun control, drug regulation and etc. The assumption is that only an elite (politician, scientist, academic, preacher etc) can determine what is best for society. It assumes that all others will act irrationally and contrary to their own interests without strict control.

The feudal system typically required the serfs to furnish 30% of their productive effort to the lord/government. Our current system requires somewhat more than that.

Any individual/corporation would soon be bankrupt if it provided an inferior/risky product except if they/it could get the government to license or prohibit (regulate) competitors. In this sense "greed" is good, as corporations wish to maximize their profit by supplying a product that consumers will prefer over the competitors.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Jeff said...

"Collectivists would regulate the POSSIBILITY of doing harm by regulating otherwise beneficial behavior."

Individualists would only act after harm has been done?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Yes. A good example is gun control: There are laws criminalizing assault with a firearm and these laws punish violators. Gun control laws restrict the actions of otherwise law abiding citizens. Dianne Feinstein knows just about zilch about weapons but wishes to enforce her values on the rest of us "for our own good". This collectivism writ large.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Laws do NOT prevent behavior they merely prescribe the punishment of those convicted of violating them.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Jeff said...

I sincerely appreciate you taking time to communicate with me.

Do you advocate any kind of weapon control? Should I be allowed to own a hand grenade? A rocket launcher? A nuclear bomb? Anthrax?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

If you perceive the need to defend yourself from criminal behavior, I see no reason for you to be prohibited from possessing a hand grenade or RPG. Prudence would dictate the need for proper training and caution in the use of any tool that has the potential for injury. With regard to weapons of mass destruction,they are not defensive and therefore I can conceive of no legitimate use an individual could have of them.
I hope you understand that these discussions are conducted on an academic level.

Jeff said...

I hope that other than occasional digressions, I am remaining academic.

So you're saying that people should only be able to possess weapons for self defense? How is a hand grenade a weapon of self defense?

Respondng to: "Individualists would only act after harm has been done?"

you replied "Yes," and then cited gun control. How about a drug company that produces a drug with serious side effects, such as death. You believe we should only intervene after the harm has been shown? There should be no law requiring them to test their drug first?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

"How is a hand grenade a weapon of self defense?"

Jeff, Use of weapons as other than self defense is a criminal act. As a Korean war era veteran and a tactically trained former law enforcement officer I can attest to the fact that a hand grenade is DEFINITELY a good self defense tool.

A drug company as irresponsible as you describe would not only go bankrupt, but would be liable for the harm it caused.

Jeff said...

I can understand in war conditions how hand grenades are appropriate. I wasn't aware that law enforcement used them.

That aside, how would I, as a private citizen, use a hand grenade as a defensive weapon? Under what circumstances could I be under attack where a hand grenade would be a good choice of defense? Unless you're refering to the idea that the best defense is a good offense. If someone is robbing me, or my house, or any other crime I can think of, I just can't picture it.

"A drug company as irresponsible as you describe would not only go bankrupt, but would be liable for the harm it caused"

Merck neither went bankrupt, nor has been held liable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vioxx

I find your assertion that the free market will prevent scoundrels from profiting and getting away with it implausible.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

"...I wasn't aware that law enforcement used them."

There are many types of hand grenades: fragmentation, smoke, gas and stun. Most are not appropriate in a street mugging scenario. There are other instances where they would be useful. I can email you a statement of facts describing a state of war which existed in the Weitchpec area of Humboldt county CA wherein grenades would have been useful. Also, the "farmers" of southern Humboldt could benefit from them in view of their being loath to summon the authorities when muscled by the out-of-county gangs.

"Merck neither went bankrupt, nor has been held liable."

A $253.4 million award hardly qualifies as "not being held liable". Contrary to what the avaricious trial lawyers would have us believe, I haven't observed citizens dying in the streets from vioxx.

Jeff said...

Maybe I read it wrong, but I understand they haven't paid out yet. It's still on appeal. But maybe you're saying that if they can be sued and lose, the system works?

"I haven't observed citizens dying in the streets from vioxx"

So therefore there must be no validity to the claims? Vioxx is a useful drug and should be on the market. The problem was Merck withheld information, and consumers weren't able to make informed decisions about the risk involved.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

There seems to be a method in place to address the issue of product liability. Trial lawyers often use specious arguments on juries. Under the relevant system the jury's award will likely be capped.

"So therefore there must be no validity to the claims?"

I do not accept your use of the straw man ploy in the above statement. We have found vioxx to be useful and regret Merck's capitulation to the trial lawyers. Our decision to consider a risk vs benefit evaluation has effectively been over ruled.

http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/straw.htm

Jeff said...

I'm with you on the unfortunate capitualtion of Merck. Vioxx is a useful drug, and should be available to an informed public. With the risk clearly stated, there should be no opportunity to sue Merck for a death caused by Vioxx.

I apologize if my question was a strawman ploy. My intention was to ask you what the purpose of your statement, "I haven't observed citizens dying in the streets from vioxx" was. Upon rereading, I'm guessing you were expressing disgust at the methods of lawyers and not addressing the issue of the risks of Vioxx or the withholding of information.

I'm still trying to focus on:

"Individualists would only act after harm has been done?"

"Yes"

Got a bit sidetracked by the Vioxx example.

From the Individualist perspetive, should a company, such as Merck be required to test their product, such as Vioxx, before bringing it to market?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

From my perspective of having spent many hours in court, it is obvious that trial lawyers using specious arguments prey on the emotions of jurors to win outrageous awards for themselves and plaintiffs.

"Individualists would only act after harm has been done?"

Not necessarily. If I observe a known enemy who has threatened to burn down my house approaching it with a molotov cocktail in hand am I to say to him: "Excuse me, but what you are about to do is illegal"? He already knows that but it has not prevented him from the undertaking. Laws do NOT prevent criminal behavior otherwise murder and robbery would not be committed.

Prudence and common sense will require businesses to use the most effective method for providing a safe product that consumers will confidently purchase. The collectivist position that they will only do so through state compulsion flies in the face of reason but provides employment for legions of parasites.

Jeff said...

"Prudence and common sense will require businesses..."

How prudence and common sense can "require" anything is beyond me.

I find it interesting how on the one hand you speak of "a known enemy who has threatened to burn down my house" and on the other about "businesses [using] the most effective method for providing a safe product" due to common sense and prudence. What if it's that molotov cocktail guy running the business?

I disagree that laws don't prevent behavior. I think that the consequences imposed by law can have a deterrent effect.

One place we agree is in our opposition to laws preventing victimless behavior.

Again I thank you for taking time to respond to my questions.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Jeff:
A business cannot survive by offering a dangerous or inferior product unless it is protected by the government. That is common sense.

"...what if it's that molotov cocktail guy running the business?"

A nonsense hypothetical. Why would I do business with an enemy, unless forced by the government?

Laws discourage behavior for those who are morally inclined to obey them. Unfortunately there are criminals who violate them.

Jeff said...

"A business cannot survive by offering a dangerous or inferior product unless it..."

Has a monopoly on the product or service.

"Why would I do business with an enemy..."

By controlling the flow of information, your kept unaware he is an enemy until after the damage is done.

"Laws discourage behavior for those who are morally inclined to obey them"

Care to venture a guess at what percentage of the population is morally inclined?

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

"...Has a monopoly on the product or service."

Please provide a list of monopolies that are not creatures of the government.
The ONLY entity that I am forced to do business with is the government.

"By controlling the flow of information, your kept unaware he is an enemy..."

Jeff, Please confine your comments to something approaching reality. Enough of these "what ifs".

Jeff said...

Fair enough.