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The God of the Machine - Tranche 35

Posted by mshupe 9 months, 3 weeks ago to Economics
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Chapter XVII, Excerpt 2 of 3
The Fiction of Public Ownership

Collectivists must feel that their hypothetical society is non-productive, for production creates its own means of production. To obscure this difficulty, they stress distribution and consumption as the crux of their schemes. They must use quantitative measures for goods and time for labor. With state ownership, nothing can be done except by command or permission. Eliminating the moral and physical relations which made those forms workable, they necessarily deny the right of man to his own labor.

Collectivists talk about “the right to work.” In a free society, man has by nature the right to work; nor may anyone stop him from working on his own property. If he must seek employment from others, it is never within the worker’s power to extract his own terms. But it is said that if a man cannot demand employment at a living wage as of right, his natural right to work has been denied. Is there any production economy in which unemployment will not occur with harsher terms attached to it?

The two extremes of property title are government ownership and private property. With group ownership, a man must be a member of the group, else he has no property rights. The real accusation against private capitalism must be that it does slow down occasionally. It does not function with absolute mathematical regularity. The collectivist promises an organization that will never break down. He insists that he has the plan of the perfect, “automatic” machine.


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  • Posted by j_IR1776wg 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    “The two extremes of property title are government ownership and private property…”

    It should be emphasized that these extremes are absolute and any attempt to construct an entity that includes Private/Public in its title is a contradiction in terms and has to fail. It always ends up with the public part controlling everything. Corruption ensues and demise shortly follows.

    “The collectivist promises an organization that will never break down. He insists that he has the plan of the perfect, “automatic” machine.”

    The U S Patent office has a policy viz. that any patent application whose cover claim includes “perpetual motion” per se or by intimation is automatically rejected without comment. The laws of Thermodynamics, you see, are not to be denied.

    The Utopian promises of Plato and More are detached from reality and always fail. Perpetual Motion is impossible.
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    • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      The public/private partnership scam is so prevalent in our culture today that nearly no one understands the evil implication of that, including the private side of the transaction. They are mostly pragmatists.
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      • Posted by j_IR1776wg 9 months, 3 weeks ago
        Yes. Pragmatism, the philosophy which proclaims "We don't need no stinkin' thinkin'. " All one needs to do is try something. If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn't, try something else. My gut feelings are every bit as valid as your reasoned analysis!
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        • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
          Great point, emotionalism over conscious thought. Automatic responses over long-term consequences. What is rarely understood is that conscious thought controls future automated responses. Anyone can program their emotional reactions intentionally, but most do it randomly. It's so much easier!
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          • Posted by j_IR1776wg 9 months, 3 weeks ago
            "emotionalism over conscious thought"

            Hasn't this been the most basic cause of destruction of mankind and its governments for Millennia?
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            • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
              A contributing factor, to be sure, but I don't know about the root cause. The best criminals and warlords devote a lot of conscious thought to their enterprises. I think its the virtues of independence and productiveness (among others) that they lack. They are totally dependent on the productiveness of others.
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              • Posted by VetteGuy 9 months, 3 weeks ago
                You bring up an interesting comparison. Both collectivists and "criminals and warlords" are totally dependent on the productiveness of others.
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                • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
                  Oh yes, they are dependent on the economic power of others. On top of that, people who acquire their self-esteem from the approval of others are dependent on social power. They may be productive, but they lack integrity and pride.
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          • Posted by j_IR1776wg 9 months, 3 weeks ago
            "but most do it randomly. It's so much easier!"

            Funny and frightening at the same time.
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            • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
              To me, this is key, and took a long time to fully comprehend. The level to which people refuse to think is the level of their cowardice. To think deeply and structure ones ideas takes guts. Most people quit early and often.The mass proliferation of stress and anxiety as the rationale for bad habits only reinforces the cowardly attitude. A great example is reading comprehension. I believe in many cases its not cognitive, it is the effort needed to achieve depth of thought. It's too much trouble.
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              • Posted by VetteGuy 9 months, 3 weeks ago
                I'd say it is combination of cowardice and laziness. As you point out, "it's too much trouble" to think things through to logical conclusions.

                Unfortunately, schools tend to shy away from the teaching of logic. "Feelings" are given too much priority.

                Thinking logically is like a exercising a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. When neglected, it atrophies.
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                • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
                  Yes, and in this context, l think laziness and cowardice are corollaries. It comes down to free will. Every conscious human mind has the choice to think or not to think. This is not to be confused with leisure, pleasure, recreation, relaxation, etc.
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  • Posted by term2 9 months, 2 weeks ago
    The reason socialism (collectivism) never seems to die, despite overwhelming failures, is that it promises to make you feel good. It seems that people seem to live to feel good . Therefore, socialism is continually selected because it promises that. Individual responsibility doesn't promise you will FEEL good, and is therefore rejected. Think about it.
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    • Posted by VetteGuy 9 months, 2 weeks ago
      I think jealousy is also a big driver of collectivism/socialism. People look at the rich and powerful and then someone puts the idea of "everyone should get an equal share" in front of them. The inevitable results are:
      1. Some (those who are able to grab a measure of power and influence) are "more equal" than others.
      2. The standard of living for those NOT among the elite is brought down to a much lower level for everyone.

      AR's "We the Living" paints a very compelling picture of this.
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    • Posted by 9 months, 2 weeks ago
      Yep, pretty much it, and I think that thought deserves a deep dive. Feeling good and economic security and avoiding personal responsibility all in one package deal. The premise is that life is chaotic, everyone is hardwired to behave one way, and those lucky enough to think for themselves and produce are merely exploiting the talent they were gifted.
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  • Posted by VetteGuy 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    In the second paragraph above, "the right to work" these days has been superseded by "the right to an income". I've seen several articles over the past year regarding "universal basic income". Not to mention the prevalence of unemployment benefits and the welfare state. I suspect this was not nearly the problem in 1943 when GOTM was published.

    Interestingly, Robert Heinlein discussed universal basic income (he called it "heritage" income) in "For Us, The Living" which he wrote in 1939, though it went unpublished until 2004. (NOT to be confused with "We the Living" by AR).
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    • Posted by freedomforall 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      Note that Heinlein did not ask that that book be published in his later years of life.
      Based on his other published writings, imo, Heinlein learned from his life experience
      and likely realized that that 1939 work had already been superseded by his later works.
      His estate published it 16 years after Heinlein died, and just 10 months after his wife Ginny died.
      I speculate that demand for anything written by Heinlein was so great that the administrator
      couldn't resist publication of it. I know I'd read anything new that was written by Heinlein if
      published today.
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    • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      I'm not terribly familiar with Heinlein except that I see his name frequently in very favorable terms. In this case, I suspect that his idea of money is not aligned with all of the attributes of sound money.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    When they say "government" control, what they really mean is "elitist" control. It's just a code word to entice people into thinking that they will get access to something they don't own.
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    • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
      Good point, government, by definition is force, and only a small minority have been delegated that authority. Subconsciously, they live in fear of reality.
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  • Posted by 9 months, 3 weeks ago
    From the first sentence, "production creates its own means of production," is Say's Law of Markets. Say's Law is the foundational principle of all good economic theory. As such, it is the almost universally ignored.

    The second paragraph is less obvious, but equally important. The "right to a living wage" is a guarantee of unemployment. Living wage is an arbitrary concept and productiveness is existential to human survival.

    If anyone doubts the impossibility of an automatic machine, look for lights in the apartment buildings in Havana at night.
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