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Noobbot
Mors_Gloria + Thesaurus

Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:48 pm
Posts: 426
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:08 pm 
 

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
I didn't claim they were "havens of oppression" or "filled with ghettos". The point was, someone with an essentially equivalent income in Germany has less money for their own use than I.

Now, where have the "hovels" and the "few personal possessions" gone to? :p This claim is much milder already. Educate me: is it this what is called "backpedaling"?

The money that I have less through higher taxation and health insurance etc. is not lost to me: I don't have to pay my own medical bills when I get ill; university education is way cheaper here than in the US; if I fall on hard times, I can actually count on the state to keep me alive; etc. The money is not just taken away, it is used to provide services to everyone and to support people who need help. I actually find this to be a morally better system than all the preachings about thrift and providing against every conceivable emergency yourself, which have always struck me as cold and egoistical, not to speak of the fact that not all people have the financial means to do that.


It was hyperbole. I know that you don't really live in hovels, or that you eat merely bread and cheese and that, say, meat or chocolate are infrequent delicacies; I know the days of serfs is long over. The point was that you do have less money to spend on yourselves. I know now that I should have clarified earlier.

As for the university part, I entirely agree. Many public universities here are unreasonably difficult to enter, regardless of whether one has high average academic scores, due to the lack of new universities rising, affirimative action, and some terrible policy on part of the universities and the government. For instance, many universities sit upon billions of dollars donated by alumni and often public funding as well, and yet little of it is actually used to alleviate any kind of financial hardship any potential students may face. Tuition also rises annually, and at a rate far higher than inflation and thus far out of reach of the annual raises a working class person can expect.

Once again, quit assuming I'm a nationalist and am placing the US upon this shining, golden pedastal while smearing dirt on every other country. Even here, the tax rates are far too high (on average between thirty and forty-five per cent), an issue which stems from inefficient government.

greysnow wrote:
And then, when you do practice thrift and insure yourself against every contingency that I am insured against just by being a citizen of a moderately high-taxation country, are you really sure you are not left with the same or even less money than I am? To provide against times of unemployment on your own, for example, to be on the safe side, you'd have to save far more money than the 3.3% of my income that go into the state's unemployment insurance right now. (If you saved at that rate, you'd need 29 years of continual work to survive one year without.) It goes without saying that if you are employed all your life without any unemployment in between, your money is lost to you. But so is any money that you pay to a fire insurance if your house never burns.

If everyone had to provide against any conceivable contingency themselves, there are two possible results: a) a huge savings rate and resulting deflation, all this while the poorest are not even provided for, or b) people not saving and trusting that nothing will go wrong after all, with even less people being provided for in case of need.


As a counter-example, I'll use the problem of social security in this country. Despite massive amounts of money going into social security, rather little goes out, and if you factor in inflation, less and less is going out. It's not even enough any more for retirees to pay for utilities and food alone, let alone any kind of entertainment or leisure. However, there are more workers than ever, and we are paying higher taxes than ever, so how could this happen? It's actually quite simple. Like any mutual fund or retirement fund that doubles as an investment, social security is an investment. Only the government squanders much of the money on risky investments that will see no reasonable return if any at all. That is one instance amongst many that proves that me personally investing into my own account will put me much better off than paying into social security.

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
I said that communication was difficult before they developed complex linguistics and dispersed this amongst themselves neighboring tribes, not that it was always so.

In that case you're talking about a different species, namely homo erectus, and notice that we both don't really have any clues as to their conflict behavior. Pinker was talking about homo sapiens tribes, which are just as capable of language as you and I (in some cases more, or do you speak fluent Spanish, French and Korean in addition to English?). Do you notice how intellectually dishonest you are here? You make a point against Pinker by saying the populations Pinker refers to could not understand each other. When someone points out to you that they most probably could, you grasp at the straws they seem to offer you, take an entirely different population and say that they could not understand each other.

You are a master at the art of retreat, aren't you?


I don't know if there's some language barrier here or what, but allow me to spell it out for you: not always have tribes, even homosapiens tribes, been capable of effectively communicating. If you believe that they instantly knew all surrounding tribes' languages from both the birth of the tribes and of the individuals, you are grossly mistaken. And during periods when neighboring tribes could not communicate because of a language barrier, I would imagine intertribal violence would have been much higher than after. If that's not clear enough, then there's no possible way that you're going to begin to comprehend what I am saying.

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
Wiping out a single tribe was actually a much bigger deal than wiping out a city now - the former had a much larger effect on the global rate, and of course it was much easier to kill a tribe of a few hundred or thousand than even a modern city of hundreds of thousands or millions.

Ever heard of Hiroshima?
And you still haven't got the statistical point, I'm afraid. We are (at least Pinker was) not talking about isolated massacres. We were (He was) talking about overall probability.


Hiroshima was leveled using nuclear weapons. Only two have ever been detonated with the intent of killing an adversary in the history of humanity. You should be able to guess which two those were, as well as where they were detonated.

Now, using even a fairly recent analogy, it was much easier for Europeans to slaughter American Indian villages, having quite a large effect on the overall American Indian population, than the Indians to slaughter European towns that were larger than small fronteir settlements, which even had a lower effect on the overal European population. That aside, yes, the overall probability could be compared to ancient times, but no real data exists from said times. All that does is conjecture and supposition.

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
And I do acknowledge as well the exponential decrease in homicides, but as I also said, this is due more to sociological evolution than the existence of the state.

Sociological evolution of course being entirely distinct from the existence of the state. :p You just can't nicely separate the two. As Pinker said, the rise in empathy possibly arose from increased opportunity for different groups meeting each other and doing business (in the broadest sense) with each other, and from literature (and I hesitate to say it, but even religion may have played a small part in transmitting the Golden Rule). I can't envisage these favorable factors having arisen without a wider organizational framework, most often a state. This is not a strong point, of course, but seeing how the discussion went up to this point, probably your refutation of it will provide me with additional arguments. :p


Actually, you can. Because even with the existence of states, during say, the dark ages, when they were at their height of power (though modern ones are quickly rising to fill their fairly distant ancestors' boots), there was still a much higher incidence of homicides than today. So if an omnipresent state has a negative impact on violence, which is to say that it lowers it, why then would this have been true? In this regard, Pinker seems to be contradicting himself, considering that he criticises the extreme nature of medieval states, but then goes to state that omnipresent states have a negative impact on violence. That alone shows that sociological evolution and the state are quite separate.

Morrigan wrote:
It's easy to dismiss the states in my examples as "mere source of funding", but it's unfortunately a great display of ignorance. No major country infrastructure was built on mostly private investments. Sure, these things cost money, but governments have built railroads, aqueducts, libraries and hospitals because they benefit the entire society and as such, fit within the role of government. Few private individuals will want to use their wealth for building libraries. And private companies wealthy enough to rival NASA'S resources are few and far-between.


I suppose that cross-continental railroads in the US were subsidized by the state then. Oh, right, they weren't. Your "No major country infrastructure..." point has been instantly demolished. Also, many libraries, hospitals, aqueducts/water treatment facilities, power plants, and the like have been built solely by private corporations.

NASA is one of the few governmental organizations that I would consider beneficial in almost every regard. However, NASA is more or less a merger of the private sector and government.

Morrigan wrote:
Also, it seems that you forget that this evil aristocratic government IS made up of *people*, too.


Sorry, I seemed to have thought governments were comprised of aliens and robots.

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Napero
GedankenPanzer

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:16 pm
Posts: 8520
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 2:52 pm 
 

My stance on these issues is quite opposite to the anarchists and liberals here, but that's probably mostly due to my nordic tree-hugger pseudo-communist opinions combined with my liking of realpolitik.

I believe in a state, taxation and sensibility. I've lost most of my previous phases of idealism, and being mildly cynical of human nature, I just cannot accept these ideas on running the world without government and a "big brother" in certain issues. Idealism is a good thing in creating new ideas and coming up with improvements, but anarchism as an actual way of running things would collapse immediately when the first actual person made the first selfish decision in his life; it's equal to communism in that respect, it won't work because people are selfish idiots.

I think I currently pay 38...40% or more of my income as direct taxes (I haven't checked lately); that's partially due to my not-completely-sucky income level and Finland's heavily progressive taxation, but very few people here get away with anything below 20%, I think. Add to that stuff like VAT, extra taxes on alcohol, fuel, cars and other stuff, and half of my income goes to the state. While I would love to have more money, I'm not complaining. I think I get so much things from the state that I simply could not afford them even with zero taxation. You see, there's are things such as probabilities and expected returns, and benefits of scale.

First of all, I don't need to pay tolls on roads here. Roads and railroads are among the most important things that would completely suck and most likely be either hellishly expensive or would not exist at all, were it not for the state building and maintaining them. I've also gotten a perfectly free education until I got my Master's degree in engineering, and my healthcare is free if I choose so. So is the education and healthcare of my kids, all three of them. We have free of very cheap access to such things as libraries, swimming halls, actual nature parks, police, fire department, social security, hell, you name it. I don't feel my freedom is being restricted, I still have the right to do the stupid things I occasionally do.

If I wished to buy the services I get "for free" from the state, I'd ditch libraries as the first thing, and I'd regret it sooner or later. I'd have to pay some form of a rent-a-cop a shitload of money for the service of not being there when I get beaten up by a bunch of other drunken idiots, and to pay token visits to the area of my house to keep it from being burglarized; of course, the security company would have no need for approvals or to conform to standards from the non-existent state, because that would limit their freedom of choosing their employees; being actually robbed by them would not surprise me at all. The road tolls, in a country with Finland's distances, would make the fuel prices soon seem like a minor issue, were they being maintained by profit-seeking companies. I have no idea of what the education of three children would cost if I had to buy it from the free market, but I think that at some point either Napero or the Booby Animal (the wife) would work full time and perhaps more to keep three kids in school; I don't think higher education would be an option. I also don't think we'd have too many places offering higher education, though, those places are run by state money.

Now, if we get into the things that a lot of people (who think are strong themselves) completely disregard in all these discussions. If I become ill for whatever reason, it will cause considerable financial strain on me and my family. But unless the disease itself is fatal even if treated, I will not die, nor will my children starve, just because a lot of others are paying taxes, too. For example, when I was in the middle of my studies (and usually completely broke) my sister had some pretty serious health problems. Her kidney transplant is currently in pretty fine shape, despite 12 years of second-hand use. If you care to find out what a kidney transplant costs, it's easy to see that she'd still be using dialysis or possibly a coffin had it not been for the common, state-run health care here. Sure, there are maybe 6 other families that pay taxes to support that to every family with such a problem, but that's a financial strain I'm willing to tolerate, instead of dishing out even more cash to an insurance company that would take the money and then do its utmost to avoid paying anything once the time to do that comes; the state, not interested in making a profit (at least here), takes care of the sick people equally and honestly, because the people ARE the state. Also, the fact that my sister has been in a useful job for 8 years, and has already practically adopted a kid from drug-addicted parents is a strong case in favour of national healthcare, even from the financial point of view; she could have spent the years in dialysis, completely removed from any productive work.

The counter-argument is of course something along the lines of "I don't need a transplant/cancer treatment/a wheelchair/old-folks home/whatever, and I shouldn't be made to pay for it for the weaker individuals, screw them." Think about it for a while. If getting ill -which is one of the possible outcomes in the great lottery of life- equals either the final desperation of trying to cash back the donkeyload of money you gave to a (presumably greedy by default) insurance company, or, alternatively, dying, I'd rather pay the taxes and let someone else have the treatments I hopefully won't need.

The removal of taxes would also kill pensions in Finland, and I for one are not thrilled about the possible prospect of having to change the diapers on my parents for a decade or two. You can, of course, privatize that, but the situation would be similar to that of healthcare: a private company with maximum freedom does what a company in such a situation is supposed to do and avoids paying anything as far as possible. Companies are not stupid, their only sensible strategy is "take the money and run," no matter how hard you try to claim otherwise.

A further point to discuss is the very existence of property and money without a government. Some folks here seem to think that without a government to leech off their money, they'd be rich enough to take care of themselves. Well, having a state and an organized society is a prerequisite for the concept of land ownership and, yes, money, too. Dismantling the government would mean that the concept of owning land would be pretty much impossible, unless owning the land means using threats of violence and occasional clashes with others. Money simply needs to be a government issue, there's no other option; gold would work, but hey, who are you kidding... seashells are also nice. How would you react to a currency issued by a private company?

I also find it rather peculiar that some folks think that free firearm ownership equals freedom. What the hell, if you don't mind me asking? Why would I be any less free if I need to apply for a permit of some kind to get a gun? What would I need a gun for in the first place? The way I see it is that a lot of folks actually need a crutch for their confidence in the form of a weapon, or a penis extension. That is a purely American thing, by the way, gun control can be done in a very sensible way. Hell, we have more guns per capita here than anywhere else, save for the USA and Yemen, if I remember corretly, but crimes involving firearms are still rather rare. Maybe it's because we don't let complete assholes have guns? And maybe the fact that the police reacts pretty effectively to illegal firearms possession and any crimes involving an illegal piece or simply misusing a legal firearm has an effect too.

And finally: if some people whine about not being allowed to build things on their own property without a permit and see that as a restriction of their freedom, I say feel free to take a look at the slums around the world and your next door neighbor: would you trust the fellow to have enough sensibility and taste to build something that would not resemble an unholy stillborn art noveau offspring of Barad-Dur, Reichsbunker and Kim Il-Jong's Arc of Triumph, standing (if it actually stays erect) a full inch from the edge of your property and painted pink because that happens to be the favourite colour of his skanky trailer-trash wifial cow? I would not. Regulation is necessary because people are idiots with bad taste and no skills.

I fail to see why the governement or the state would make me unhappy by default. I pay high taxes, but I also live a happy, pretty secure and free life. I get more things with my taxes than I could ever hope to actually buy with the income from a free market, and so far I haven't needed the services of security companies or other private sector companies that much. Sure, I'd rather take my kids to a private doctor if they get ill, but that's just a choice I have the freedom to take, if I'm willing to pay for it, and I am, since it cuts down the time I need to stand in line waiting. But the bottom line is, I could do rather well without such luxury, and even if the goofy categorizations might put me in the upper half or third in the income classes, and I therefore pay A LOT of taxes from wages that are internationally quite crappy given my education and experience, I wouldn't change this in any major way.
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greysnow
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:01 am
Posts: 378
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:34 pm 
 

Noobbot wrote:
As a counter-example, I'll use the problem of social security in this country. Despite massive amounts of money going into social security, rather little goes out, and if you factor in inflation, less and less is going out. It's not even enough any more for retirees to pay for utilities and food alone, let alone any kind of entertainment or leisure. However, there are more workers than ever, and we are paying higher taxes than ever, so how could this happen? It's actually quite simple. Like any mutual fund or retirement fund that doubles as an investment, social security is an investment. Only the government squanders much of the money on risky investments that will see no reasonable return if any at all. That is one instance amongst many that proves that me personally investing into my own account will put me much better off than paying into social security.

Risky investments - or any investments - is what private insurance companies do as well, who in addition to that want to turn a profit for themselves. The German social security does not work on this principle - it works on what goes in goes out, with a moderate reserve of maybe a month's funds. No investment is involved, no overhead except the bureaucratic overhead (no profits); it's pure redistribution of what is available at the moment. It trusts in the current economic strength, not in fund management. If there is not enough money coming in, the system is supported by taxes.

greysnow wrote:
I don't know if there's some language barrier here or what, but allow me to spell it out for you: not always have tribes, even homosapiens tribes, been capable of effectively communicating.

I understood you well enough. No language barrier between us. :p

Noobbot wrote:
If you believe that they instantly knew all surrounding tribes' languages from both the birth of the tribes and of the individuals, you are grossly mistaken.

:lol: I never said that, which makes me wonder if you read my post closely enough. Hell, I'm a linguist. I know that people are not born speaking foreign languages. I pointed out two different mechanisms to you which have supplied motivation in hunter-gatherer societies to learn neighboring languages, and I said that modern evidence from hunter-gatherer societies tends to show that they are often polyglot - of course by learning other languages, not by assimilating them through their genes or whatever.

Noobbot wrote:
And during periods when neighboring tribes could not communicate because of a language barrier, I would imagine intertribal violence would have been much higher than after. If that's not clear enough, then there's no possible way that you're going to begin to comprehend what I am saying.

Yes, it was very very clear the first time. Don't assume I didn't understand you because English is not my first language. Still, did you get that I was contradicting you, you know, with some sort of evidence?

By the way, it's a common misconception that people being able to understand each other will alleviate conflict. On the contrary, once they understand each other, they can insult and provoke each other in a language that both will understand. In the middle ages in Western Europe, every warring party counted at least some people among them who understood Latin. They were able to negotiate. They slaughtered each other nevertheless.

Noobbot wrote:
Actually, you can. Because even with the existence of states, during say, the dark ages, when they were at their height of power (though modern ones are quickly rising to fill their fairly distant ancestors' boots), there was still a much higher incidence of homicides than today. So if an omnipresent state has a negative impact on violence, which is to say that it lowers it, why then would this have been true? In this regard, Pinker seems to be contradicting himself, considering that he criticises the extreme nature of medieval states, but then goes to state that omnipresent states have a negative impact on violence.

See? I said you would come up with an argument for my position. :D
Because: It's another misconception that in the middle ages states were at the height of their power. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just because they were unjust and harsh that doesn't mean they were powerful. On the contrary, states today are more powerful than were any states before them.

Consider: the ubiquity of modern bureaucracy; the ease of modern communications; the amount of information that a modern state has access to; the force, the technology and the money it has at its disposal to effect things. The modern state is far more "omnipresent" than any medieval state had the means to be. To a large segment of the population in pre-industrial times, the state was represented by a tax collector who came once a year, who had neither accurate information about the names and assets of the subjects to be taxed nor where the caches were where the most desirable possessions could be stowed away for as long as the tax collector was in the vicinity.

States were fairly strong in their centers, towns mostly, and very weak at their periphery, where bandits, run-away serfs and vagrants would roam and make life unsafe for the peasant villages who mostly had to defend themselves because armies and police forces were small (large standing armies are expensive and mostly were too huge a burden on the economy in the age of scarcity) and concentrated on the spots the rulers considered important - the castles and cities. The Roman Empire has been described as a loose collection of cities, each with a periphery that was largely under its own control, where conflicts were settled by ancient custom by the people themselves and not by Roman law and its representatives. Both in Rome and the middle ages even in the cities power often rested with guilds, who had jurisdiction over their members.

The states were often chronically underfinanced as well, not just because of the aforementioned difficulties with tax collecting (which, plus additional widespread corruption, may be one of the reasons why the Roman Empire really fell - not enough money to hire troops), but, especially in the middle ages, because of prestigious conspicuous consumption by the nobles, who were often in heavy debt to moneylenders. The medieval state indeed has the character of a parasite, with the population regarded only as a source of wealth to be appropriated and spent by the ruling elite; that in an age when productivity was far lower than it is today and the available surplus to rob the population of was small. The medieval state neither had the inclination nor the means to do much for the ruled in return. So, it was not a strong, omnipresent state.

You don't appear to know terribly much about actual history. I'd think that makes it somewhat difficult to comment on statements which have at their heart a historical perspective.
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MushroomStamp
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 11:07 pm
Posts: 681
Location: Helsinki, Finland
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:53 pm 
 

I often find myself leaning to the Libertarian side on various topics, but the degree of ill-informed lunacy and paranoia among my "fellow" anti-Statists on the board (and often elsewhere too) is just astonishing, plain and simple. This time, I'd like some clarification from Noobbot on several issues that have been discussed, since he likes to make a lot of claims yet scarcely back them up with empirical or basic logical evidence -- or even specify what his claims actually are! So let the interrogation begin.

1) What do you consider the primary evil about the existence of government? Ten points for the correct answer.

2a) Does government, however minimal, inevitably lead to tyranny and oppression? You've made some bizarre pokes towards Anarchist attitudes -- especially in the first post -- while you repeatedly retreat towards Minarchist positions of limited (but nevertheless existing) government. 2b) Is the state useful for protecting, for example, property rights or is it not? 2c) If not, which entity is? Provide a clear and succinct answer, and none of that "you're just an evil collectivist / help mom, the statists are oppressing me and asking difficult questions" bullshit, please.

3) You fail to answer some really basic questions about how a hardcore Capitalist/Libertarian/Minarchist society would respond to the absence of our (their) favourite Socialist features --

a) welfare payments to the poor (how shall the well-being of the poorest stratum of the population be arranged?);
b) the seeming lack of social and economic inequality in Keynesian states (does a deregulated society lead to inequality, and of what kind?);
c) currently state-paid services and their future funding (who provides what, and to whom, and at what price?);
d) current progressive taxation models (provided there is a Minarchist state, how shall it fund itself?);
e) workers' and consumers' rights that many could consider endangered in a future society where the state does not regulate almost everything -- you can imagine the horrific image of corporations running everything with an iron fist: will there be monopolies? Can businesses control our lives? Will they not become another "State"?

What is your take on the future handling of these points? I have some answers to these questions, arising from a Libertarian standpoint, and I find them to be rather plausible for having been crafted by a stupid cunt like me; you, on the other hand, have not provided jack shit for an explanation to the anti-Statist themes you've brought up. You've merely conjured some random horrors of the Evil State and, at best, made a little remark on how states generally love to interact with the largest corporations and monopolies. PROTIP: Europeans aren't as paranoid toward the state as Americans, so this line of scare-the-shit-out-of-them argumentation is bound to fail, and most won't even try to understand, let alone agree with your ideas.

Reasoning against a Statist standpoint is usually relatively simple; there are so many glaring examples of failed "welfare states", "controlled economies" and nanny-state problems that I wonder if you've been reading the news at all. Also, hot tip: read a bit about Europe before you go on declaring Ultimate Truths about it. Greysnow already clarified some misconceptions you had about Germany, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. There are some particularly juicy bits about Sweden's history -- how it came to be so stinking rich as it is and why their system is failing -- but I won't help a dumb dipshit such as you. You're better off becoming a youth Communist so the cops can kick your ass at riots.
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Noobbot
Mors_Gloria + Thesaurus

Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:48 pm
Posts: 426
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:04 pm 
 

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
As a counter-example, I'll use the problem of social security in this country. Despite massive amounts of money going into social security, rather little goes out, and if you factor in inflation, less and less is going out. It's not even enough any more for retirees to pay for utilities and food alone, let alone any kind of entertainment or leisure. However, there are more workers than ever, and we are paying higher taxes than ever, so how could this happen? It's actually quite simple. Like any mutual fund or retirement fund that doubles as an investment, social security is an investment. Only the government squanders much of the money on risky investments that will see no reasonable return if any at all. That is one instance amongst many that proves that me personally investing into my own account will put me much better off than paying into social security.

Risky investments - or any investments - is what private insurance companies do as well, who in addition to that want to turn a profit for themselves. The German social security does not work on this principle - it works on what goes in goes out, with a moderate reserve of maybe a month's funds. No investment is involved, no overhead except the bureaucratic overhead (no profits); it's pure redistribution of what is available at the moment. It trusts in the current economic strength, not in fund management. If there is not enough money coming in, the system is supported by taxes.


I wasn't speaking of insurance, but that's another matter entirely. It appears German social security may be better, but hell - I'm not surprised. The American system has been roughly the same since FDR. As for insurance, there's no real difference between state and private insurance. They're both relatively expensive, neither (except for a few things, such as health, life or automobile insurance) are remotely likely to be needed for the average person, and in the end, most people won't see a return from them.

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
I don't know if there's some language barrier here or what, but allow me to spell it out for you: not always have tribes, even homosapiens tribes, been capable of effectively communicating.

I understood you well enough. No language barrier between us. :p

Noobbot wrote:
If you believe that they instantly knew all surrounding tribes' languages from both the birth of the tribes and of the individuals, you are grossly mistaken.

:lol: I never said that, which makes me wonder if you read my post closely enough. Hell, I'm a linguist. I know that people are not born speaking foreign languages. I pointed out two different mechanisms to you which have supplied motivation in hunter-gatherer societies to learn neighboring languages, and I said that modern evidence from hunter-gatherer societies tends to show that they are often polyglot - of course by learning other languages, not by assimilating them through their genes or whatever.

Noobbot wrote:
And during periods when neighboring tribes could not communicate because of a language barrier, I would imagine intertribal violence would have been much higher than after. If that's not clear enough, then there's no possible way that you're going to begin to comprehend what I am saying.

Yes, it was very very clear the first time. Don't assume I didn't understand you because English is not my first language. Still, did you get that I was contradicting you, you know, with some sort of evidence?

By the way, it's a common misconception that people being able to understand each other will alleviate conflict. On the contrary, once they understand each other, they can insult and provoke each other in a language that both will understand. In the middle ages in Western Europe, every warring party counted at least some people among them who understood Latin. They were able to negotiate. They slaughtered each other nevertheless.


I can't possibly fathom how that is so. Communication obviously doesn't assure tranquility by any means, but with it, two parties are actually capable of cooperating. A lack of communication means that either the two parties will be apathetic or hostile. You're making an assumption that I equated communication with instant serenity; on the contrary, I am aware that most murderers in the US speak the language of the land. However, returning to my initial point, communication does allow them to negotiate and develop some sort of mutualism. I really hope I needn't repeat myself more than I have already.

greysnow wrote:
Noobbot wrote:
Actually, you can. Because even with the existence of states, during say, the dark ages, when they were at their height of power (though modern ones are quickly rising to fill their fairly distant ancestors' boots), there was still a much higher incidence of homicides than today. So if an omnipresent state has a negative impact on violence, which is to say that it lowers it, why then would this have been true? In this regard, Pinker seems to be contradicting himself, considering that he criticises the extreme nature of medieval states, but then goes to state that omnipresent states have a negative impact on violence.

See? I said you would come up with an argument for my position. :D
Because: It's another misconception that in the middle ages states were at the height of their power. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just because they were unjust and harsh that doesn't mean they were powerful. On the contrary, states today are more powerful than were any states before them.

Consider: the ubiquity of modern bureaucracy; the ease of modern communications; the amount of information that a modern state has access to; the force, the technology and the money it has at its disposal to effect things. The modern state is far more "omnipresent" than any medieval state had the means to be. To a large segment of the population in pre-industrial times, the state was represented by a tax collector who came once a year, who had neither accurate information about the names and assets of the subjects to be taxed nor where the caches were where the most desirable possessions could be stowed away for as long as the tax collector was in the vicinity.


Your note of the almost ubiquitous modern state taken, Pinker spoke of the value of deterrence. If medieval states were any indication, deterrence, even when Draconian measures are taken, is a poor principle in law. If a crime serves to benefit someone, and they see no other effective alternative, they will most likely commit said crime, regardless of the law. Law enforcement was mostly at the hand of vigilantes and sometimes militias or city guards, sure, but plenty of crimes go unsolved or the criminals not reprimanded with higher frequency than you would assume.

greysnow wrote:
States were fairly strong in their centers, towns mostly, and very weak at their periphery, where bandits, run-away serfs and vagrants would roam and make life unsafe for the peasant villages who mostly had to defend themselves because armies and police forces were small (large standing armies are expensive and mostly were too huge a burden on the economy in the age of scarcity) and concentrated on the spots the rulers considered important - the castles and cities. The Roman Empire has been described as a loose collection of cities, each with a periphery that was largely under its own control, where conflicts were settled by ancient custom by the people themselves and not by Roman law and its representatives. Both in Rome and the middle ages even in the cities power often rested with guilds, who had jurisdiction over their members.


Standing armies aside, there were plenty of militias, and although the middle ages were obviously a more violent time, they weren't quite as lawless as you paint it. Definitely more 'lawless' than latter times, but out of curiosity, how much would the rates dropped if violence perpetrated by the state were excluded? As executions are far rarer now, and wars not as frequent in the 'civilised' nations, I imagine that excluding that would send the rates down quite a bit. Still not as low as today, but no doubt significantly less. And since the states themselves were more overtly violent, violence by the people is naturally more common, as peasant revolts are much more likely to occur from the gross oppression they saw.

Many arguments on the decline of violence, even from Pinker, hold the state as irrelevant to the outcome. And the ones that do hold the state as relevant are generally easily dismissed by simple logic.

greysnow wrote:
The states were often chronically underfinanced as well, not just because of the aforementioned difficulties with tax collecting (which, plus additional widespread corruption, may be one of the reasons why the Roman Empire really fell - not enough money to hire troops), but, especially in the middle ages, because of prestigious conspicuous consumption by the nobles, who were often in heavy debt to moneylenders. The medieval state indeed has the character of a parasite, with the population regarded only as a source of wealth to be appropriated and spent by the ruling elite; that in an age when productivity was far lower than it is today and the available surplus to rob the population of was small. The medieval state neither had the inclination nor the means to do much for the ruled in return. So, it was not a strong, omnipresent state.

You don't appear to know terribly much about actual history. I'd think that makes it somewhat difficult to comment on statements which have at their heart a historical perspective.


Oh, right, the modern state 'helps' its citizenry out of the goodness of its heart.

No, social programs expand government. Expanded government sees more revenue, as well as increased power. As for historical knowledge, you're making some huge, unbased assumptions.

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Noobbot
Mors_Gloria + Thesaurus

Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:48 pm
Posts: 426
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:40 pm 
 

MushroomStamp wrote:
I often find myself leaning to the Libertarian side on various topics, but the degree of ill-informed lunacy and paranoia among my "fellow" anti-Statists on the board (and often elsewhere too) is just astonishing, plain and simple. This time, I'd like some clarification from Noobbot on several issues that have been discussed, since he likes to make a lot of claims yet scarcely back them up with empirical or basic logical evidence -- or even specify what his claims actually are! So let the interrogation begin.

1) What do you consider the primary evil about the existence of government? Ten points for the correct answer.


It's coercive and innately oppressive. My existence beneath the state is, as of now, involuntary.

MushroomStamp wrote:
2a) Does government, however minimal, inevitably lead to tyranny and oppression? You've made some bizarre pokes towards Anarchist attitudes -- especially in the first post -- while you repeatedly retreat towards Minarchist positions of limited (but nevertheless existing) government. 2b) Is the state useful for protecting, for example, property rights or is it not? 2c) If not, which entity is? Provide a clear and succinct answer, and none of that "you're just an evil collectivist / help mom, the statists are oppressing me and asking difficult questions" bullshit, please.


a) In all palpable instances, yes. Ideally, a revolution would rise and eliminate government immediately, and we'd see no reoccurrence of the state. However, with the mainstream attitude toward anarchism being as it is, I imagine the state would be back in full swing by the Friday after. For the meantime, adopting a liberal/libertarian/minarchist stance is the best that can be done. That would serve to coax the masses into at least accepting anarchism and not returning to the elaborate hierarchies of now, and would alleviate the burden that I feel of a woefully inefficient state.
b) No. Between eminent domain and frequent infringements upon peoples' property rights, I cannot see how. Property rights should indeed be retained (barring intellectual property), but how they should be divvied or if current property rights should remain is another question entirely.
c) I would imagine the individual is best suited for protecting their own property and rights. The irrational fear of corporations roaming and dominating over individuals aside, I imagine an individual, or loosely knit community of them, could ward off any potential parasites.

MushroomStamp wrote:
3) You fail to answer some really basic questions about how a hardcore Capitalist/Libertarian/Minarchist society would respond to the absence of our (their) favourite Socialist features --

a) welfare payments to the poor (how shall the well-being of the poorest stratum of the population be arranged?);
b) the seeming lack of social and economic inequality in Keynesian states (does a deregulated society lead to inequality, and of what kind?);
c) currently state-paid services and their future funding (who provides what, and to whom, and at what price?);
d) current progressive taxation models (provided there is a Minarchist state, how shall it fund itself?);
e) workers' and consumers' rights that many could consider endangered in a future society where the state does not regulate almost everything -- you can imagine the horrific image of corporations running everything with an iron fist: will there be monopolies? Can businesses control our lives? Will they not become another "State"?

What is your take on the future handling of these points? I have some answers to these questions, arising from a Libertarian standpoint, and I find them to be rather plausible for having been crafted by a stupid cunt like me; you, on the other hand, have not provided jack shit for an explanation to the anti-Statist themes you've brought up. You've merely conjured some random horrors of the Evil State and, at best, made a little remark on how states generally love to interact with the largest corporations and monopolies. PROTIP: Europeans aren't as paranoid toward the state as Americans, so this line of scare-the-shit-out-of-them argumentation is bound to fail, and most won't even try to understand, let alone agree with your ideas.


Seeing as I've already stated that I'm not an anarcho-capitalist, I won't bother with directly or individually addressing the above questions.

And I don't see myself as at all paranoid of the state; it simply is what it is. It's opportunistic, and when the possibility arises, domineering and manipulative. States don't wish to kill all of their subjects, or, at least with current means, even to subject them to some automated lifestyle. That would be impractical and backwards, as they they wouldn't have a source of revenue (addressing the former), and propaganda isn't elaborate enough for the latter. Even as a dissenter, the state doesn't wish to kill me; if anything, reconverting me to a staunch statist, or at least using me for my utilitarian aspects (a source of income, as marginal as I may be).

MushroomStamp wrote:
Reasoning against a Statist standpoint is usually relatively simple; there are so many glaring examples of failed "welfare states", "controlled economies" and nanny-state problems that I wonder if you've been reading the news at all. Also, hot tip: read a bit about Europe before you go on declaring Ultimate Truths about it. Greysnow already clarified some misconceptions you had about Germany, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. There are some particularly juicy bits about Sweden's history -- how it came to be so stinking rich as it is and why their system is failing -- but I won't help a dumb dipshit such as you. You're better off becoming a youth Communist so the cops can kick your ass at riots.


Admittedly, I am rather new to anarchism and haven't the access to the knowledge or research that I would prefer. I unfortunately have not even read the more popular anarchist literature (Rand, Stirner, et cetera).

And the accusations of pseudo-intellectualism are baseless. I haven't even expanded upon or explained my ideology fully.

Expanding upon an impending anarchist revolution briefly, though I myself am an individualist at core, I believe it would be most interesting to see what system naturally rises, whether it be collectivist or individualist. That, I think, would be the optimal one, and thus the one that should be continued.

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Morrigan
Crone of War

Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2002 7:27 am
Posts: 9648
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:23 am 
 

Trevor wrote:
Was it governments or private companies or individuals that created and mass produced most of the modern stuff we like, cars, computers, air conditioning, an immense variety of food products, alcool, music, etc.? That's an easy question comrade. The governement may have paved the roads but it wouldn't have been able to run the automobile industry efficiently. The basic stuff it can and should do, the complex it can't and shouldn't. The privately built steamships of the 19th century didn't have to wait for the government to create rivers to sail on.

There are lots of things that don't require government intervention even if we have been conditioned to think of the government first when we have a problem

Nobody wants to take anything away from private individuals and corporation. The truth is that both government and private citizens have contributed to building societies. They complete each others.

Trevor wrote:
he didn't say architecture he said "technology and science" and he's mostly right. Don't tell me the Olympic Stadium was worth the billions we wasted on it.

Newslfash: architecture IS technology. I suggest you watch the series of documentaries "Engineering an Empire" from the History Channel, presented by Peter Weller (who's got a Master's degree in Roman history, IIRC). Very interesting stuff and it shows all the science, mathematics and engineering technology necessary to build the wonders of the ancient world.

I didn't say anything about the Olympic Stadium at all so I have NO idea why you bring that up. :lol: Obviously not all constructions, government-funded or private, are worth something.

Quote:
And I read that in the days of Augustus roman citizens only had to work a few days a years to pay their share of taxes and enjoy the government's bread and circuses. Today we have to work months to pay our share of taxes and most of our governments are still in debt. And we don't even have gladiators shows.

But we have other things, such as social security, public education and healthcare. Yeah, I guess the times, they are a-changing.

Quote:
the intention and the result are two things. The education ministry's budget keeps on increasing but I bet there's no link between the proportion of money that goes in and the quality of the education or the students. If there was a link I presume the teachers' union would have their study in hand showing how that works. Same for healthcare. More money in yet less good out. There's a limit to what the government can do (or money for that matter). Imagine if the State nationalized food distribution and took over all the food supermarket stores chain. Or clothing stores. It would be very efficient and everybody would be better off, ...right? You have to be cynical and think outside the box to understand how government works in reality.

I never disagreed that tax money was frequently poorly used, nor did I disagree that the government should take over EVERY industry sector. Please don't argue a position I've never advocated, okay? I am arguining against the notion that the state and taxation are evil and unnecessary. If one is against taxation because tax money is poorly spent, it's simpy fallacious. What one wants to change in this case is how tax money is spent, and I'm completely fine with that.

Noobbot wrote:
It was hyperbole. I know that you don't really live in hovels, or that you eat merely bread and cheese and that, say, meat or chocolate are infrequent delicacies; I know the days of serfs is long over. The point was that you do have less money to spend on yourselves.

I still hear those pedals spinning out of control. By the way, evidence? And even if true, I'd be curious to see on what kind of fluff Americans spend all that surplus money on.

Quote:
I suppose that cross-continental railroads in the US were subsidized by the state then. Oh, right, they weren't. Your "No major country infrastructure..." point has been instantly demolished.

Perhaps I should have added the implied "Almost" at the beginning of the sentence. Hey, if you can get away with backpedaling, why couldn't I? ;) Instead I'll admit I made a mistake.


Quote:
Sorry, I seemed to have thought governments were comprised of aliens and robots.

Cute. Replace that with "evil aristocratic statists" and you have a better picture of why your ideas are ignorant and ludicrous.


Last edited by Morrigan on Sun Jun 08, 2008 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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GTog
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:35 pm
Posts: 411
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 11:54 am 
 

Chaos_Llama wrote:
Those of you blaming the oil companies- did you not know that oil is a commodity traded on the open market?


LOL! Everyone pay attention - this is key to the whole oil argument:

NO IT ISN'T

Seriously, that bears repeating. A thousand times, a million times, how ever many times it takes before people realize that oil futures (and lots of other futures) are NOT traded on open markets! They are traded on unregulated "dark" markets.

Quote:
The laws of global supply and demand determine its price, it's not like Exxon sits around and is like "hahaha pay us $120 a barrel or you don't get it any oil".


No, they don't. But then again, it's not the oil companies doing it. It's the commodities traders.

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Evil_Johnny_666
Reigning king of the night

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2007 8:54 pm
Posts: 4001
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 9:55 pm 
 

Why do you think all the Saudis lords running some oil companies or some of more western ones are so rich? As they can buy more than everybody you know dreams? Yeah they put even higher prices because it's becoming more rare but it's just an excuse for high prices. These men only want money and power, even if they have 10 times more than they need (by rich people standards) they still need more.

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GTog
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:35 pm
Posts: 411
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:56 am 
 

Told you.

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