I remember when Team Four Star (the group behind an amazingly popular parody of the anime Dragonball Z) did a similar, though less extensive, thing with one of their parody episodes; that episode was supposed to be like an arena with spectators, so they asked fans to donate sounds of cheers and boos. I didn't personally donate (because I wasn't actually sure what they meant at the time), but I still think it's amazingly cool.
Health and other regulations can be beneficial, if done properly and with care. Furthermore, a known side effect of health regulation (or any regulation) is that costs increase for all businesses, so supply decreases because some firms must go out of business to avoid huge costs. That is the price that society currently chooses to pay to have a better guarantee on the safety (or whatever else) of goods produced and services rendered.
The question is though whether all such regulations are necessary, and that is why such regulations must be implemented properly and with care. In this case, it's obvious that the regulation was abused much more for the purpose of stifling upcoming competition rather than actually caring for the safety of consumers. It's pretty clear too that removing the regulation on hair-braiding activities won't significantly harm anyone, so do away with it already!
Here's how screwed up the USTR's definition of transparency is:
If transparency is what it should be, then a two-way mirror would reveal someone in front of the mirror to someone behind the mirror, but the person in front of the mirror would only see a reflection.
If transparency is what the USTR thinks it should be, then a two-way mirror would reveal both a reflection and the imagine of someone behind the mirror to someone in front of the mirror, but the person behind the mirror sees nothing.
We are behind the mirror, and the USTR is in front of it. Real transparency should be the first case: the USTR sees its own negotiations and so should we (even if we are not allowed to actively contribute, which would still be a bad thing). USTR-style transparency is the second case: the USTR sees its own negotiations and sees us, claims that we can see it too, but we see nothing at all.
Never mind. This was what my original comment was supposed to say:
If a young child has imaginary friends, that's OK for a while, but that child should have a good number of real friends as well.
If that child promises to play with the real friends but uses the imaginary friends to drive away the real friends and break real friendships, that's a serious problem.
Now replace "child" with "politician" and "friend" with "property". The scenario is still very troubling.
Alright. I'm done arguing with you on this thread. (Then again, I'm not sure why I indulged in continuing the argument in the first place.) I tried my hardest to be forthcoming and pleasant with you and left many disagreements as they were without inciting further argumentation. Instead of responding in kind, you have stuck your fingers in your ears like a petulant child (with a tinfoil hat on top) and screamed "LALALALALALAIWILLIGNOREYOUANDPARANOIDLYCLAIMTHEGOVERNMENTISALWAYSMURDEROUSLYEVILLALALALALALA!" For someone who claims to be in favor of peace, your words don't sound particularly peaceful to me either.
At this point, all I can ask you to do is take some medication and stay away from this thread for some time so that you can regain your ability to form cogent arguments and make insightful comments here like you have done in the past. As for me, I will not reply to any new comments on this thread so that I too can keep my sanity intact.
When I wrote that little snarky comment, it was over the weekend, and I figured that considering that you seemed rather quick at responding to my comments (I mean, at one point, I was actually surprised that you were able to write a pretty lengthy and detailed reply so quickly), it seemed odd that you would suddenly stop commenting on that thread. Now I know why, so I sincerely do apologize for my snark and sarcasm; I don't have an excuse for turning an innocuous question ("where are you?") into a lame comment saying that your viewpoint might be incorrect (or something like that).
That said, I think I and the other commenters have responded to most of your previous comments, so I will not discuss that again in this context. What I will say will be in response to this particular comment.
Yes, my real name is in fact Prashanth. It is comes from a word of Sanskritic origin meaning "peace", so "Prashanth" as a name means "one who is peaceful". Typically my personality is that way, so while I won't apologize for holding a position on economics with which you and I disagree, I do apologize if at any point I let my emotions get the better of me in this comment thread. Deeper in the thread, I have tried to be careful to separate my own emotions from what I have learned about rational microeconomic analysis, but I can't guarantee that I haven't slipped up somewhere else in that thread.
This particular comment of yours seems to be rather over-the-top in its anger and vitriol against me, other commenters who don't necessarily agree with the Austrian school of economics, and the government in general, and I can tell that it is the culmination of a buildup of anger in general over all of the comments you have left on this article. (By the way, if you want to quit your job because you either have made your fortune or you are willing to depend upon either the state or the kindness of others, that is totally up to you. No one is stopping you from retiring/quitting your job early. You'll just have to have some sort of safety net to be able to subsist, either from your own savings or from someone else.) I hope that you aren't having problems at home or work, and I hope that you aren't having any financial or other troubles. Moreover, I hope that whatever may make you angry outside of TechDirt isn't the cause of your rather vitriolic comments. If you are having issues, please do take a holiday or something, get some rest, perhaps take an aspirin, and tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them.
I've quickly browsed through your website C4SIF, and it actually looks eminently reasonable. Sure, I may not agree with all of it, but I agree with a lot of it, and it makes me happy to see people like Michele Boldrin there too (because I really liked the book Against Intellectual Monopoly). Considering that we seem to agree on a lot of things that come up on TechDirt, it's really a shame that my little comment about antitrust legislation had to lead to this point. I hope that we can move on from here with minimal to no hard feelings and that we can continue to complement (and compliment) each others' posts about stuff like patent/copyright reform, et cetera.
Actually, your first statement was what I was trying to get at, so clearly I didn't do a good job of it. What I was trying to say was that studies seem to show that even for skilled laborers, there definitely needs to be a nonzero minimum level of income to motivate said workers to do work. Beyond that, efficiency wages work up to a point, but beyond that point, efficiency wages cease to be effective. For instance (and I'm using arbitrary numbers here that are not reflective of economic realities), if a skilled worker needs $100 per day to live and function properly, giving $150 will certainly help efficiency, and that relationship between wages and efficiency could hold true up to maybe $250, but maybe not up to $750.
Your idea of voting being a currency seems pretty interesting, but I'm not sure it's the right way to abstract the functions of a government. I will say though that the government hiring police officers, lawyers, et cetera to enforce laws does happen in a market for such people (whether that market is competitive or oligopolistic).
Finally, I always appreciate engaging in discussions like this. It also helps me think about and solidify/modify my own understanding of basic economics more too.
PS: Isn't it odd that Mr. Kinsella left this discussion rather early? (Teehee!)
Here's the problem with the "tragedy of the commons" analysis that you are using: what you're saying is that the lower you pay a given number of workers in the labor pool, the worse-off they'll be. If the labor pool situation really was a tragedy of the commons, what that would imply is that it is beneficial for workers for there to be high unemployment, because at any given wage if more workers are used for their labor then all of them will be worse-off and less efficient producers, and this is simply bogus. What you are thinking of is not a "tragedy of the commons" but an efficiency wage, which is the notion that paying workers a better wage incentivizes them to be more efficient workers. To me, this is a pretty reasonable assumption up to a point; empirically, I've seen a few studies that have shown that efficiency wages work really well for blue-collar/low-skill/mechanical jobs but they only work well up to a certain point (beyond which point they actually become counterproductive in many instances) for more skilled/thinking-type jobs. I don't know enough about the effectiveness of efficiency wages to further comment, so I will leave what I say about that topic at that.
Now regarding your other comment, the reason why several things like war, disease, taxes, and government action are considered non-market issues is because those things typically (though there are of course exceptions) do not spring from a voluntary transaction between a laborer acting as a consumer and a seller in another market. Plus, my original statement was that citizens could enact changes upon corporations through voting for new laws and new enforcement of said laws; this is not a market action because it does not involve the voluntary transaction between consumers and the given corporation, but instead involves consumers routing around that market and using the threat of legal action (as opposed to market action) to force the corporation to behave a certain way.
Also, wow, this thread has gone quite a number of levels deep, and WHYISTHETEXTSOTHIN???
To Mr. Kinsella, the question wasn't really a question. It was a valid rhetorical question that does not ask for an answer, but instead casts doubt on your line of reasoning. I'm surprised you didn't catch that.
To Richard, to be fair, wouldn't we commenters here on TechDirt refer people to articles on this site if they have an opinion about business models [et cetera] that we know to be unsupported by facts? That said, what Mr. Kinsella posits isn't necessarily factual; economics has not truly been settled and will never be settled because it is the study of human behavior, and that changes over time. And I agree that simply linking us to books promoting the Austrian school of economics essentially cops out on the argument, because it essentially says that "I can't synthesize a good counterargument using my knowledge of Austrian-style economics and keep the discussion going, so instead I'll pretend to have the upper hand by referring you to this one-sided book and hope that you come around to agreeing with me."
I should have been more clear that what I was referring to regarding using cheaper labor to achieve greater production assumes perfectly competitive labor and goods markets. Of course these are not true in real life; workers do have some minimum nonzero bargaining power for their wages and benefits, and as voting citizens they have the power to force corporate action through non-market means.
Now, it is possible for there to be a system without any unemployment/health benefits for those out of work or for those with low-paying jobs. Such a system would have no government intervention whatsoever, and more people would be working, yet more workers would have really low-paying jobs that would lead them to barely get by/live in squalor. It's capitalism in its purest form. Is that something I want to see? Of course it isn't. But the reason for you and I to assume that there are health benefits [et cetera] is a moral one, not an economic one. There is no economic reason for us to assume a priori that there are to be health benefits [et cetera] in what we discuss. So what I said above is true, holding other things equal and making it such that the only government intervention being considered is that of the enforcement of a minimum wage.
Also, how does the tragedy of the commons play into this at all? Nothing that I have said involves multiple individuals depleting a common resource in their own rational self-interest.
Cheaper labor is a lower marginal cost, because the total amount of wages changes with output. To the firm, there is really no difference between achieving a lower cost of production through technological means or through cheaper labor, because in the end all that matters for determining the level of production is the point where marginal cost equals marginal revenue.
Minimum wages are actually inefficient because they create a disparity/disequilibrium between the demand and supply for labor. The minimum wage is essentially a price floor in the market for labor, so there are more workers than there are positions. Because firms will not employ more than a number of workers given by the intersection of their demand for labor and the minimum wage line, both consumer (firm) and producer (worker) surpluses decrease, and that decrease is not compensated for by an increase anywhere else, so the result is a deadweight (efficiency) loss to society.
The current wave of advancing technology can actually be traced back only to the industrial revolution. Between the dark ages (i.e. plague) and the industrial revolution, there was certainly a lot of scientific advancement but not as much economic progress as you might think. The real reason for increased efficiency is because using steam and coal instead of human-power produces vastly more output. As a result, less human labor is needed, while the labor that is needed is more skilled, so the result of that is a higher wage for the workers that are there, and this pretty much follows any advancement in technology.
Actually, I am going to have to agree with Mr. Kinsella on this. Being able to achieve lower marginal costs (and that includes labor) is the way to compete in a free market. That said, the whole point of a minimum wage is to be able to guarantee workers in the labor market a certain decent standard of living. The side effect is that firms' ability to supply contracts, so although employees are better off, there are fewer employees as a result. The question then becomes whether you would prefer to guarantee a lot of workers employment with a decent standard of living and then require the state to take care of the unemployed, or whether you are OK with everyone having a job (minus those experiencing frictional or cyclical unemployment, because minimum wage issues are structural) but barely getting by/possibly living in squalor.
OK, then let me be more clear. Monopolies are not good for consumers unless they are natural monopolies (again, in the economic sense). If you plot the possible cost and revenue curves for a monopolistic firm versus a competitive firm in the same industry, it almost always happens that the competitive firm produces more output at equilibrium and at a lower price than the monopolistic firm. The competitive outcome is thus for sure better for consumers. I don't think that is a point that can be disputed.
But really, the problem doesn't come so much in that itself. It comes when monopolies start abusing their powers to affect other industries, and especially when monopolies use the courts and laws to effect such abuse.
So I guess really my point is that while I don't think that monopolies are a good thing for consumers, antitrust laws are to be enforced not when one company simply dominates a particular market but when said company starts abusing said market power to either forcibly stifle competition or unilaterally affect other industries. Also, once again, although implementation of antitrust suits are often poorly-executed due to too much zeal, they aren't usually bad in principle (unless used against natural monopolies, and I use "natural monopoly" here in the economic sense).