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Big Oil Under Fire

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  1. Elite Member
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    I differ with you on Al Queda. I think they'd be getting their money somehow irregardless if the world is operated on a hydrocarbon economy.
    Be it drugs or whatever, they'll find a way.
    Yeah, you've got a point there...

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    In their opening remarks, Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond and Chevron CEO David O'Reilly said their companies and others in the industry invest billions in developing new sources of energy no matter the market price of oil or the level of the industry's profits.

    "Since 2002...we invested what we earned," O'Reilly said.

    Several executives said that the industry faces costs of between $18 billion to $30 billion to repair damages from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    Raymond argued that industry profits as a percent of revenue were in line with other industries, adding that companies had to use earnings to invest in new sources of oil.
    Considering all oil prices are developed based on projected costs, I personally believe this argument is a valid reason to increase prices. I don't see that as price gouging--and trust me, I hate these oil prices as much as anybody because I'm more broke than most

    If you owned a hamburger shop, maybe your burgers would be a buck or two more expensive while you repaired the place. Makes sense to me.

    Now, if they can't prove that they are using profits to repair damaged properties as a result of the hurricanes, then I'd say price gouging is evident and they should be held accountable.

    I personally believe people think big business are much more shady than they really are. When you have a lot, you have a lot to lose. Enron showed that
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    "I bomb atomically. Socrates. Philiosiphies. Hypothesis. Can't be definin' why I be dropping these mockeries. Lyrically performed armed robbery. Flee with da lottery. Possibly they spotted me."
    Last edited by jmh80; 05-28-2006 at 02:56 AM.
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    I will admit CDB DID make a good point regarding oil and inelastic vs. elastic goods.

    My girlfriend's father works for an oil shipping business, and he was saying one of the reasons the price of oil is this high is because of our EPA regulations. The EPA requires many different kinds of fuel types. Additionally, certain types of fuels are taxed while others are not. In some cases, the fuel is identical or near identical. For example, home heating fuel is nearly identical to diesel. However, home heating fuel is not taxed the same as diesel is. To differentiate, home heating fuel has a red dye added to it. Because of the dye, home heating fuel has to be refined seperately from diesel even though the same equipment is used. This causes a doubling of equipment costs and operating costs. Furthermore, because of a shortage in refining capabilities in California, and the fact that California has something like 28 different fuel types (due to their preposterous EPA regs), many other refineries in the US must retool to be able to make certain fuels for Cali.


    To top things off, we have different gasoline regs during the summer than we do in the winter. In the summer, the only refineries capable of making gasoline that passes inspection are ones in the US, which as you know we have a shortage of. In the winter however we can use foreign refineries for much cheaper. As we speak, there are several oil tankers waiting off the coast to deliver winter fuels. My gf's father said this is the reason the gas prices are dropping so much now; because we are soon going to be getting foreign refined gas at a cheaper price. Domestic refined gas costs so much more right now because of all the refineries that were blasted during katrina et al.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmh80
    The problem with ethanol is that we'd have to use over 85% of the land of the US to grow enough corn to supply our vehicles.

    Isn't quite reasonable is it? Unless you like living in a corn field.
    I'm not suggesting we go 100% ethanol. With this, geothermal heat (that is readily available but untapped in the Rocky Mountains), biodiesel, etc., there's no real reason why we should be using petroleum within 20-25 years. Obviously it would be almost impossible to convert to alternative energies right away.

    We will have to go alternative sometime. Oil efficiency is improving but there might be maybe 100-150 years worth of petroleum tops. No need to completely drain it out before moving on.

    We might as well start going alternative sooner than later.

    Sugar cane is in fact better at ethanol. I agree but I think moving from oil, we should try to make sure America itself is a major contributor of alternative energy, instead of being at the mercy of ultra-corrupt dictators. Since corn grows better, thats why I think its a good idea to use it, instead of using corn for High Fructose Corn Syrup.

    I differ with you on Al Queda. I think they'd be getting their money somehow irregardless if the world is operated on a hydrocarbon economy.
    Be it drugs or whatever, they'll find a way.
    Yeah but the Saudi family makes no apology or attempt to cover up that they pay Osama. They get money mainly from oil, which US is the largest consumer of. If we pull out entirely, it will cripple them. Since the Saudi family probably cares about themselves more than al Qaeda, they will get less money.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to get off on a tangent with alternative energies and what oil funds go towards.
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    Sugar cane is in fact better at ethanol. I agree but I think moving from oil, we should try to make sure America itself is a major contributor of alternative energy, instead of being at the mercy of ultra-corrupt dictators. Since corn grows better, thats why I think its a good idea to use it, instead of using corn for High Fructose Corn Syrup.
    Amen to that brother!! Imagine the paradigm shift...what would the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries do with cheap fuel and healthier Americans?


    Yeah but the Saudi family makes no apology or attempt to cover up that they pay Osama. They get money mainly from oil, which US is the largest consumer of. If we pull out entirely, it will cripple them. Since the Saudi family probably cares about themselves more than al Qaeda, they will get less money.
    I agree with JMH80 that there'd be an AlQueda no matter what, but Id be willing to bet they'd be far less of a threat if their funds werent virtually limitless like they are currently. They can sell all the dope they want, it wont even scrape what those countries have made from their oil. Hell, we could end this absurd 'drug war' while we're at it...where would their money come from then? Its a simple solution, but far too complicated to implement any time soon.

    BV
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigVrunga
    Amen to that brother!! Imagine the paradigm shift...what would the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries do with cheap fuel and healthier Americans?
    What you said right there is probably the reason why alternative fuels aren't being researched.

    I agree with JMH80 that there'd be an AlQueda no matter what, but Id be willing to bet they'd be far less of a threat if their funds werent virtually limitless like they are currently. They can sell all the dope they want, it wont even scrape what those countries have made from their oil. Hell, we could end this absurd 'drug war' while we're at it...where would their money come from then? Its a simple solution, but far too complicated to implement any time soon.

    BV
    I agree once again. I think America needs a complete and total retooling of the government. It seems grim but to me, the only real solution seems to be revolution.
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    What you said right there is probably the reason why alternative fuels aren't being researched.
    Well they are being researched, but not with close to the vehemence they should be. I would imagine with something so serious the government would be making a national effort to make a change. And not by getting involved in trying to regulate an industry - like CDB mentioned above that just adds to the mess. By funding research, motivating the public through the media, etc. If you think about, many of the great 'failures' of our government (drug policy, health care, the list goes on) create tons of jobs, and make a lot of people a great deal of money. Where would the drug companies be without all these sick people? Think of all the advertising agencies that wouldnt have those great contracts with the pharmaceutical if their adds werent plastered all over radio and television. Think of all the people who work with or are affiliated with the DEA, if the 'drug war' just up and ended, what would they do?

    I agree once again. I think America needs a complete and total retooling of the government. It seems grim but to me, the only real solution seems to be revolution.
    The crazy thing is the people who started this country tried to set it up so the people could peacefully change the government if things got out of hand. Our system of checks and balances does work pretty well, but it definitely has its flaws. The republicans and democrats have a monopoly on power in this country, and it seems like no matter who has control things keep on sliding into the sheetpile.

    The problem is, the people who really want change arent voting. Or, not enough people really want change, or are to busy with their day-to-day lives to give it any real thought. It takes a lot of money and inflluence to be a politician, and most of the people the government craps on have neither.

    BV
  9. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    To top things off, we have different gasoline regs during the summer than we do in the winter.
    Were it not for the lunatic level of regulation out there, I would have moved to CA a long time ago. This deep freeze **** in NY sucks.

    Please understand, I am not against laws in general, nor am I a fan of corporations. Most of them are sickly disgusting organizations, set up to limit the responsibility and liability of those at the top and to screw those at the bottom, and they are begging for government protection at every turn. I'd wager most of our corporations couldn't survive in a truly free market.

    However, the laws I would favor are only those that stop aggression against others or their property. Do I think it's unethical if oil companies raise prices in the face of a crisis when they know they generally know they don't have to? Yes. Be that as it may, if there were doubt about whether or not to raise prices to stop shortages, were there more competition there would likely be one or more companies who in such situations would not raise prices. These companies, if proven right, would rightfully end up with more customers after the crisis had abated.

    I'm sure you can guess my opinion of who is to blame for lack of competition in this and other markets.
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    Yep. It has been pretty warm this year though, you've got to admit.
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    Last edited by jmh80; 05-28-2006 at 02:58 AM.
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    Re: Al Queda. They planned an executed the WTC bombing in '93 when oil prices were no where near today's prices.
    I'm sure they weren't broke when oil was $10 a barel in the late '90's.
    True, but how many billions of barrels of oil had been sold in the past 100 years? If petroleum had never been our primary fuel source, they wouldnt have a pot to piss in.

    Still though, that's not the case and I do agree with you - they'd be what they are regardless.
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    CDB is correct when stating that excessive regulation is responsible for many economic disasters, but I refuse to believe that with no regulation that companies would self-govern and provide not only lower prices but better working conditions, investment in new markets (ex. alternative fuels in the petro industry) and ethically delivered final product.

    It's already been shown that given the chance most companies will take their business to other countries where regulations are less strict, especially in regard to wages and working conditions. This is good for the end consumer as prices are lower. However, it negatively affects the economy because workers in the U.S. are put out of jobs. So government regulation is only half the enemy here. The government specifies regulations for safety and livable wages, which causes companies to balk at trying to compete in a generally free market (ex: automobiles). This causes a loss of jobs here as plants are moved overseas. So what is the solution then? Pay the U.S. workers much less and disregard good working practices? Or force companies to keep their companies U.S.-based or face levies and tax penalties? It seems that the U.S. has done the opposite, giving free rein for companies to leave this country and even keep their money elsewhere, with tax breaks and windfalls galore. At what point do we stop the bleeding?

    When you speak of generally free markets and monopolies, take the personal computer industry as an example. Profits are low and prices are low, because of heavy competition, yet companies like Microsoft still attempt to control the market and stifle genuine new development from smaller companies. This is where government is supposed to step in, because companies which are heavily invested in one type of product have an interest in smothering competitors. Now if the only company to release software is Microsoft are we really better off? Those guys aren't exactly known for their interest in quality control.

    In the case of the oil industry, you have a cartel, OPEC, and you have almost systematic cooperation, even what could be considered collusion among companies in the end market to keep prices as high as possible. No major competitor exists that bucks the system and attempts to provide gasoline at a lower price. You tell me which of these competing companies dares to signifigantly lower a price without the others following suit? It's not like bread or ketchup. The oil industry is unique. Bread, somebody can grow grain and bake it at a lower price. Ketchup, someone can grow tomatoes somewhere for less and bottle them. Oil, you can't just dig up in your backyard, unless you live in Kuwait. And even if you did, you'd better have tankers, refineries, and someone viable willing to pick up your product and sell it to the end user en masse. You can open a restaurant serving quality food and given the right conditions have a decent chance that it will survive and give you a chance to expand. You can't just open a gas station and hope to change an industry. This is why oversight is necessary. Oversight which is not paid off by the oil companies.
  14. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooklyn
    CDB is correct when stating that excessive regulation is responsible for many economic disasters, but I refuse to believe that with no regulation that companies would self-govern and provide not only lower prices but better working conditions, investment in new markets (ex. alternative fuels in the petro industry) and ethically delivered final product.
    Why?

    It's already been shown that given the chance most companies will take their business to other countries where regulations are less strict, especially in regard to wages and working conditions. This is good for the end consumer as prices are lower. However, it negatively affects the economy because workers in the U.S. are put out of jobs.
    Good. Maybe the government will get the hint and stop regulating our labor markets into inefficiency. However this is also a common fallacy stemming from the idea that this one job that was shipped overseas is the only one that one worker here could have had.

    Take Michael Jordan. He's a great ball player, but what if he would rather lay brick for a living? He may or may not be good at that, but it's what he wants to do. However, there's a person in his town who is just as good at laying brick, but has little or no work. And, very importantly, no one is going to pay Mike several million a year to lay brick. He's making about 50,000 a year laying brick, the brick layer isn't making much if any money at all.

    Then Mike gets his sense back and starts playing ball again. He starts making millions again, and he and everyone else in his neighborhood hire that unemployed brick worker at 50,000 a year to work. Everyone is better off.

    The point is whether or not a job is overseas or here, one person having a job instead of another person doesn't imply a disadvantage, either to the economy or to the individuals. Perhaps someone in America would have rather had a job that was shipped overseas than the job they have now. But the market through prices will generally allocate resources to their most productive use. Jordan might prefer laying brick, his time is more productively used playing ball, and the price assigned to his labor for that purpose gets that point across to him and motivates him to that end.

    Now the varying efficiencies of labor forces are affected by government regulations, either ones that promote inefficiency or ones that 'promote' efficiency by allowing employers to violate the rights of the workers. The basic point is the driving force in ****ing up a naturally regulating system of implicit cooperation is the government, not business.

    When you speak of generally free markets and monopolies, take the personal computer industry as an example. Profits are low and prices are low, because of heavy competition, yet companies like Microsoft still attempt to control the market and stifle genuine new development from smaller companies. This is where government is supposed to step in, because companies which are heavily invested in one type of product have an interest in smothering competitors.
    Yeah, that's called competition. Not to mention the fact that it's those losing competitors who more often than not try to use the government to stifle their more successful competitors. I'd suggest books by Dominick Armentano, articles and lectures by Thomas DiLorenzo and almost anything written about antitrust by the Chicago School economists for a different perspective on what goes on in monopoly cases, specifically Armentano's work for the Microsoft monopoly case.

    In the case of the oil industry, you have a cartel, OPEC, and you have almost systematic cooperation, even what could be considered collusion among companies in the end market to keep prices as high as possible. No major competitor exists that bucks the system and attempts to provide gasoline at a lower price. You tell me which of these competing companies dares to signifigantly lower a price without the others following suit? It's not like bread or ketchup. The oil industry is unique. Bread, somebody can grow grain and bake it at a lower price. Ketchup, someone can grow tomatoes somewhere for less and bottle them. Oil, you can't just dig up in your backyard, unless you live in Kuwait. And even if you did, you'd better have tankers, refineries, and someone viable willing to pick up your product and sell it to the end user en masse.
    While such costs are a consideration in startup companies, it's not correct to point to them as obstacles. The fact that other companies can do it proves it can be done, which makes loans for such things much easier, relatively speaking of course, to get. The fact that most of those costs can be outsourced to other companies that have already invested the required money and now have the fixed capital necessary to make such operations easier makes starting up again, relatively easy.

    Someone also brought up the point that government funding for alternative fuels is necessary. This would be a big mistake. It would compromise the price system and waste resources on technologies that would not pan out, and if incorporated into our economy would require continual subsidization. The interest rates attached to loans for R&D and the premiums at which these technologies are available relative to oil and gas are the only reliable indicators as to which ones are the most practical and economical to pursue.

    With the government funding research you'd get a seriously screwed up result, with the technologies we persue being determined by political constituents influencing their representatives rather than genuine decisions about what is most practical. Technologies that are aesthetically pleasing, that make campain donors smile and that satisfy interest groups, like corn farmers, would get undue attention and funding for the wrong reasons.
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    Good. Maybe the government will get the hint and stop regulating our labor markets into inefficiency. However this is also a common fallacy stemming from the idea that this one job that was shipped overseas is the only one that one worker here could have had.

    Take Michael Jordan. He's a great ball player, but what if he would rather lay brick for a living? He may or may not be good at that, but it's what he wants to do. However, there's a person in his town who is just as good at laying brick, but has little or no work. And, very importantly, no one is going to pay Mike several million a year to lay brick. He's making about 50,000 a year laying brick, the brick layer isn't making much if any money at all.

    Then Mike gets his sense back and starts playing ball again. He starts making millions again, and he and everyone else in his neighborhood hire that unemployed brick worker at 50,000 a year to work. Everyone is better off.

    The point is whether or not a job is overseas or here, one person having a job instead of another person doesn't imply a disadvantage, either to the economy or to the individuals. Perhaps someone in America would have rather had a job that was shipped overseas than the job they have now. But the market through prices will generally allocate resources to their most productive use. Jordan might prefer laying brick, his time is more productively used playing ball, and the price assigned to his labor for that purpose gets that point across to him and motivates him to that end.

    Now the varying efficiencies of labor forces are affected by government regulations, either ones that promote inefficiency or ones that 'promote' efficiency by allowing employers to violate the rights of the workers. The basic point is the driving force in ****ing up a naturally regulating system of implicit cooperation is the government, not business.
    No offense, CDB, but that analogy is completely bogus. When a job goes overseas, no job opens up here to replace it.

    Currently there are more unemployed people in the US than there are jobs for them. That's changing, thankfully, but if more jobs get shipped overseas, eventually there WON'T be anywhere near enough jobs here at home.

    When unemployment rates go that high, people turn to crime. The people that don't wind up on the street. Fewer people can afford luxuries and in many cases basic ammenities. Companies that sell that stuff hit try to lower prices but eventually go bankrupt. Eventually even the rich start losing their money and the whole entire economy collapses.


    Sound farfetched? So are your utopian concepts of a free market. A completely unfettered market doesn't work anymore than communism does.
  16. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    No offense, CDB, but that analogy is completely bogus. When a job goes overseas, no job opens up here to replace it.
    No, that's completely bogus. People are perfectly free to engage in those same businesses here as they are overseas. The difference is if it's done here for various reasons the price of the finished good would be too much and people wouldn't buy it. These jobs 'going' overseas are going there because right now those places are economically more efficient at performing those basic manufacturing jobs. Were they kept here the fixed and circulating capital invested would be wasted, as would the originary resources poured into the process, if any.

    Currently there are more unemployed people in the US than there are jobs for them. That's changing, thankfully, but if more jobs get shipped overseas, eventually there WON'T be anywhere near enough jobs here at home.
    For one, this statement shows you really don't know what you're talking about. Jobs can't be shipped overseas by definition. They aren't goods, they are opportunities. They aren't sent anywhere, they are artificially closed off by making them less tempting than other opportunities. Plus this is the standard lump of jobs fallacy that's been around for decades despite the fact that it's been disproven a few billion times. Finding a more efficient use of scarce resources in terms of land and labor frees up capital to be used for other pursuits which creates the possibility of more and new opportunities for everyone. That's how economies grow and prosper.

    There is never a shortage of jobs, there's always something to do simply because of the nature of the world and scarcity. There is also an extremely complex labor differentiation in today's world which means even in a high tech oriented nation there will be a place for workers whose skills aren't so inclined. No matter how high tech a company is, there is always a need for shippers, truckers, builders, packagers, retailers, etc.

    Sound farfetched? So are your utopian concepts of a free market. A completely unfettered market doesn't work anymore than communism does.
    So you say, you've never provided an example or a true explanation of why that makes any kind of sense. These jobs aren't being 'shipped' overseas because of cheap labor. If that were the case you'd have to explain why cheap labor is most decidedly not the decisive factor in where companies choose to invest. There are countries that are less advanced and pay a hell of a lot lower salaries than Asian countries do (where a lot of these jobs 'go'), and businesses simpy do not invest there. You also have to explain why companies are willing to take on the additional costs of investing overseas, like dealing with language barriers, differing local regulations, being located a long distance from their primary market, etc.

    Basically the deciding difference is these countries to which jobs are being 'shipped' usually don't have an alphabet soup of government agencies harrassing the **** out of companies and investors to keep justifying their ever expanding budgets. The idea that if businesses aren't 'allowed' to invest overseas that they will magically invest the same amount of money and create the same jobs here is ridiculous and false. It's based on the idea that value flows upward towards the finished product and not downward from the finished product which is what actually happens. That's completely bogus, production has no intrinsic value in and of itself. That's why those jobs, if companies were forbidden from investing overseas, wouldn't simpy turn up here. Closing off those economic opportunities overseas would make things worse for Americans. At least right now we get cheaper goods out of it. Close off the trade and you'll see a lot more Americans without jobs and fewer goods and services available because the root problem of a government with no respect for private property and a lust for sucking as much money as possible out of the private sector would still exist. Things would get worse, not better.

    Once again it's a basic economic principle, comparitive advantage, with which you apparently aren't familiar. And, once again, it's the government that's to blame for choking off opportunities here. If someone is getting strangled the air they don't breath will be taken by someone else. Stop others from taking that free air and you still have the problem of stangulation which, if not dealt with, will lead to death in the end.
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    So you say, you've never provided an example or a true explanation of why that makes any kind of sense
    WRONG. I showed a perfectly good example with the coal mining companies. You tried to claim that government regulation would make the coal mining companies leave. WRONG AGAIN. How do I know? For one, because government regulation doesn't change the fact that the coal was in the ground THERE. Plus regulation would mean regulation anywhere in the country. Additionally, regulation isn't going to change the fact that coal mining would still be quite ridiculously profitable. All depends on how much regulation.

    Once again how do I know? Because the government DID regulate the coal mining companies, and the coal mining companies DIDN'T leave those areas and they STILL made a bundle of money, only instead of their employees dieing of starvation on a regular basis, they live moderately comfortably.

    It's a perfect example of a totally unfettered free market causing pain, suffering, and in fact death. It's also a perfect example of how MODERATE government regulation saved many lives all while not hindering the exonomy. In fact it helped it quite a bit because those employees became decent consumers.



    Your type of reasoning is what allows things like discriminatory pay based on race. Afterall that's a restriction on free market isn't it? I mean, shouldn't corporations be allowed to pay black people less? If they take the job why not? Heck, pay them half what white people make. That's fair right? Free market right? Same goes for women too right? Oh, how about old people, I bet you think it's totally cool to fire someone because they are getting old and retirement benefits are too expensive to pay. Or how about not hiring young women because of the risk they might get pregnant? Good idea right?
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    [quote=Nullifidian]WRONG. I showed a perfectly good example with the coal mining companies. You tried to claim that government regulation would make the coal mining companies leave.[.QUOTE]

    You I believe were the one who said the coal companies were working with the government to make laws to make the miners' lives hell. But I digress. Point being I didn't give a hoot about the coal miner point because it wasn't a point. If someone was forcing them to work in the mines then they were doing that in collusion with the government or with the government ignoring abuses of the miners' rights. If so, the government was the operative evil doer in that situation, because without their help the coal mining companies couldn't have forced anyone to do anything. As far as the working conditions being unpleasant, that they were. I assume one of the reasons the miners went to work there was because they considered it better than the other alternatives available.

    Put even more simply, safety comes at a cost. If it is costless it is enacted because the costs of not doing so are higher. If there is a cost it has to be justified and that justification isn't always there. Not to mention the fact that different people evaluate safety in different ways, and no amount of regulation can encompass any and every situation, nor can regulators foresee unintended consequences of regulations supposedly to make people safer but ends up hurting them in other ways. Ask steel workers in cold climates how much they like the OSHA requirement for steel toed boots. Some do, some don't. The ones who do get saved a broken toe. The ones who don't prefer to feel the steel with their toes so when conditions get icy they are more secure in their footing. Who is right? Neither is the answer.

    As I said before, through your reasoning cavemen should have just been able to vote themselves better working conditions. They couldn't because that's not how the world works. Economies evolve. As capital is accumulated and invested to increase the productivity of labor that labor becomes more valuable and in turn can demand higher safety standards. OSHA and unions take credit for a lot of advances in workplace safety we have today. What they have a harder time explaining is why safety conditions were trending upwards before they ever existed.

    WRONG AGAIN. How do I know? For one, because government regulation doesn't change the fact that the coal was in the ground THERE. Plus regulation would mean regulation anywhere in the country. Additionally, regulation isn't going to change the fact that coal mining would still be quite ridiculously profitable. All depends on how much regulation.
    Alright. What's the right amount then? Please feel free, share with me how you are aware of everybody's marginal limits in the whole market and can thus determine the proper amount and type of regulation that wouldn't eat to much into profits to make the initial investment not worth it. Grant you're right about the regulations, can you tell me the jobs that were lost because of the increased cost of higher safety standards? The unseen cost is the reduced alternatives, even if the economy still moves forward you don't know how much further it would have gone without restraint. But, because the cost is unseen people like simply claim it doesn't exist.

    Incidentally you've proven yourself wrong, again. People who can put together TVs exist here in the US, but there isn't as much of that going on here as there once was. Gee, you think it might be because the government regulated the labor force into inefficiency in this area? Nah, it's evil corporations. Forget I mentioned it, it's fairly obvious every resource will be exploited no matter what the cost.

    And they say Keyensian economics is dead...

    Your type of reasoning is what allows things like discriminatory pay based on race. Afterall that's a restriction on free market isn't it? I mean, shouldn't corporations be allowed to pay black people less? If they take the job why not? Heck, pay them half what white people make. That's fair right? Free market right? Same goes for women too right? Oh, how about old people, I bet you think it's totally cool to fire someone because they are getting old and retirement benefits are too expensive to pay. Or how about not hiring young women because of the risk they might get pregnant? Good idea right?
    Yes, it is. It's called freedom, and I don't have to agree with someone to acknowledge that they should be allowed to use their property and money as they see fit regardless of my opinion. If they're not harming me or others, or my propety or others, I don't see the problem. It's not my business. I have to wonder what a horrible world it is you live in, where people can't provide for their own retirement without the government, where a women would have to face the choice (shudder) that she may have to sacrifice having a child for a while because she has no right to demand others pay for her choices. A world where a black man can't prove his own worth and get the pay he deserves without the government. A world where apparently no one can make a single decision for themselves without the government holding their hand to make sure they don't hurt themselves, or more to the point where the evil people who in the act of seeking profits created jobs and higher standards of living might hurt them. I have to admit if I lived among such incompetents I'd demand government regulation too. However, the people I live with tend to be able to take care of themselves.

    I think it would easier to agree to disagree. Good luck with your government though, I'm sure if they don't throw you in prison for using roids, or breaking any of the other myriad laws they've enacted to make you safe, they'll make you taller, better looking, better in bed, eliminate all danger, get you a better car and get your lawn looking nice too. After all, all good things flow from the government and the only source of evil is people engaging in mutually beneficial exchanges.
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    The only thing that is ever regulated is human weakness. Laws exist to protect the the weak from the corrupted.Fear of loss is the fuel that powers the manipulation of human nature. Choice is an illusion that those with power employ upon those without power. That illusion of choice is the carrot which we all must chase. The chase itself, is what powers the great machines of capitalism.When the illusion is removed( i.e. natural disasters, terrorism) the naked cause and effect reality is revealed.This is the point where people take notice of the inequities of rich and poor. People will become either angry and depressed which is debillitating to the workforce because we stop chasing the carrot, at least momentarily.So the powers that be must reaffirm their value to society(flucuating prices,terroristic threats)once the illusion is back in place,the chase can resume and it is buisness as usual.Now we can go back to our Christmas shopping.
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    Yes, it is. It's called freedom, and I don't have to agree with someone to acknowledge that they should be allowed to use their property and money as they see fit regardless of my opinion. If they're not harming me or others, or my propety or others, I don't see the problem. It's not my business. I have to wonder what a horrible world it is you live in, where people can't provide for their own retirement without the government, where a women would have to face the choice (shudder) that she may have to sacrifice having a child for a while because she has no right to demand others pay for her choices. A world where a black man can't prove his own worth and get the pay he deserves without the government. A world where apparently no one can make a single decision for themselves without the government holding their hand to make sure they don't hurt themselves, or more to the point where the evil people who in the act of seeking profits created jobs and higher standards of living might hurt them. I have to admit if I lived among such incompetents I'd demand government regulation too. However, the people I live with tend to be able to take care of themselves.

    I think it would easier to agree to disagree. Good luck with your government though, I'm sure if they don't throw you in prison for using roids, or breaking any of the other myriad laws they've enacted to make you safe, they'll make you taller, better looking, better in bed, eliminate all danger, get you a better car and get your lawn looking nice too. After all, all good things flow from the government and the only source of evil is people engaging in mutually beneficial exchanges.
    Ok, well that reveals your character. You define freedom as racism, segregation, and sexism. Aparently you think the only laws that should exist are ones that establish currency. Or maybe not even. Maybe you'd prefer that corporations determine their own currencies.
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    The only thing that is ever regulated is human weakness. Laws exist to protect the the weak from the corrupted.Fear of loss is the fuel that powers the manipulation of human nature. Choice is an illusion that those with power employ upon those without power. That illusion of choice is the carrot which we all must chase. The chase itself, is what powers the great machines of capitalism.When the illusion is removed( i.e. natural disasters, terrorism) the naked cause and effect reality is revealed.This is the point where people take notice of the inequities of rich and poor. People will become either angry and depressed which is debillitating to the workforce because we stop chasing the carrot, at least momentarily.So the powers that be must reaffirm their value to society(flucuating prices,terroristic threats)once the illusion is back in place,the chase can resume and it is buisness as usual.Now we can go back to our Christmas shopping.
    Well said. Its amazing how fast anarchy ensues when the system breaks down, if only for a moment.

    CDB - I the economic theories you reference in your post are definitely logical and make a lot of sense. But they also assume that human beings are logical creatures and will always follow those logical constraints. And they're not. Humans generally **** all over eachother in order to make an extra dollar. I am not advocating big government, in fact I detest it nearly as much as you do. However, if it werent for at least some governmental intervention, we's still have slave labor. It does, after all, provide for the cheapest goods and the greatest profit margins.

    BV
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigVrunga
    Well said. Its amazing how fast anarchy ensues when the system breaks down, if only for a moment.

    CDB - I the economic theories you reference in your post are definitely logical and make a lot of sense. But they also assume that human beings are logical creatures and will always follow those logical constraints. And they're not. Humans generally **** all over eachother in order to make an extra dollar. I am not advocating big government, in fact I detest it nearly as much as you do. However, if it werent for at least some governmental intervention, we's still have slave labor. It does, after all, provide for the cheapest goods and the greatest profit margins.

    BV
    Also note that slave labor results in stagnation in a number of innovative fields. The Roman Republic was a period of extreme stagnation as far as technology was concerned because of slave labor. It wasn't until Caesar, and later Augustus as well, forced certain industries to hire freedmen and/or citizens that technology started to advance again in Rome. The reason is that before, there weren't enough jobs for freedmen because slaves handled everything. So freedmen resorted to banditry and worse.

    Sure those initiatives hurt rich merchants pockets initially, but eventually they actually made MORE money because there were more people with enough money to buy their goods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    Ok, well that reveals your character. You define freedom as racism, segregation, and sexism. Aparently you think the only laws that should exist are ones that establish currency. Or maybe not even. Maybe you'd prefer that corporations determine their own currencies.
    Whatever has happened in this thread I haven't reverted to name calling that I can recall. Guess that shows you're character. Be that as it may, I'm done with this topic because I've said all I need to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    Whatever has happened in this thread I haven't reverted to name calling that I can recall. Guess that shows you're character. Be that as it may, I'm done with this topic because I've said all I need to.
    I'm not name calling. I'm calling a spade a spade. You said that racism is ok because it should be a company's right to do give different benefits and different pay based on WHATEVER criteria they want. You said sexism is ok too for the same reasons. I'll admit, I'm jumping to conclusions with segregation but judging on your previous posts, I'm betting you'd think it was ok for a company to seperate whites and blacks under the assumption that "if people didn't like that, then don't work for that company."


    I'm not saying you yourself are racist or sexist. You yourself however have stated you have no qualms with racism or sexism and do not think it should be illegal for private businesses to pay different groups lower wages based on race, sex, or religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigVrunga
    CDB - I the economic theories you reference in your post are definitely logical and make a lot of sense. But they also assume that human beings are logical creatures and will always follow those logical constraints. And they're not. Humans generally **** all over eachother in order to make an extra dollar. I am not advocating big government, in fact I detest it nearly as much as you do. However, if it werent for at least some governmental intervention, we's still have slave labor.
    A couple last points. It was the government that enacted slavery. The Civil War was more about tarrifs and the fact that the north wanted to bleed the south dry. There was a reason why the first shot in the war was fired at a customs station, Fort Sumter. No where else in the western hemisphere was a war deemed necessary to end slavery. In other countries the slave owners were compensated and the slaves freed.

    You'll find most abolitionists, including Lincoln, were also heavily pro tarrif and pro protectionism in general. Most of the northern agitators for the Civil War were northen industrialists who wanted to revive the policies of inflation and property transer that made them rich during the previous wars in the US, even though the rest of the population got saddled with huge public debt and massive taxes. Ending slavery was in my opinion the one good thing the Lincoln did. But you should also not overlook the fact that it was the government that initially classified people as property, and the fact that a war that killed so many young men and divided the whole nation, the effects of which are still being dealt with today, should never be overlooked.

    It does, after all, provide for the cheapest goods and the greatest profit margins.BV
    Actually it doesn't. Freed men who receive the result of their productivity in the form of wages out compete slave labor by a pretty wide margin. Slave labor results in substantial costs, on the owners and on the rest society, not to mention on the slaves, and is notoriously inefficient without the government propping it up and defraying the costs over all of society. The owners had to deal with large scale subsistence costs, there also massive security costs that were defrayed over society through conscription laws. Force everyone into the militia and they patrol the land, and among their duties was looking for runaway slaves.

    The act of freeing slaves was also discouraged initially in the south and much more as the Civil War came closer. First because of the security risk to other slave holder's 'property'; large populations of free blacks meant semi safe harbor for runaway slaves which would endanger current slave holders. Second, as a reaction to abolishonist propaganda that got more intense as the outbreak of the war got closer.

    Basically slavery of the type that existed in the south hasn't existed that often in history. Most societies that had slavery (Africa, Greece, Rome, etc) also had large scale manumission, slaves buying their freedom. As in Africa for most of the tribes, being a slave was more akin to being an indentured servant, a temporary status that you could get out of. While there is no such thing as a "good" master, and the passion surrounding this topic often stops people from discussing it logically, before you give alcolades to the government for freeing slaves you should first consider their role in perpetuating the practice, and look at whether a war was the only and most beneficial way for all to end the practice. The war to end slavery is more of an ex post facto justification anyway, at that time it was well known that the primary causes of friction between the north and south were economic in nature. Neither side was laudable in the absolute end, and Lincoln in my opinion deserves a historical reworking so people see him as what he was, the first large scale fascist in the modern world.

    Here's a decent article on the subject if you feel like a quick read:
    http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae7_2_2.pdf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    I'm not name calling. I'm calling a spade a spade. You said that racism is ok because it should be a company's right to do give different benefits and different pay based on WHATEVER criteria they want. You said sexism is ok too for the same reasons. I'll admit, I'm jumping to conclusions with segregation but judging on your previous posts, I'm betting you'd think it was ok for a company to seperate whites and blacks under the assumption that "if people didn't like that, then don't work for that company."


    I'm not saying you yourself are racist or sexist. You yourself however have stated you have no qualms with racism or sexism and do not think it should be illegal for private businesses to pay different groups lower wages based on race, sex, or religion.
    And like I said, I'm out of it with you. You're coming close to crossing a line with me and I don't feel like pissing off Bobo or the mods anymore than I may already have as it is by continuing this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by anabolicrhino
    The only thing that is ever regulated is human weakness. Laws exist to protect the the weak from the corrupted.
    Actually laws exist for a variety of reasons. Some laws exist to protect property, all property, from aggression by other. Other laws exist to empower government. Other laws exist for the specific purpose of wealth transfer. Other laws exist for aesthetic reasons.

    Fear of loss is the fuel that powers the manipulation of human nature. Choice is an illusion that those with power employ upon those without power. That illusion of choice is the carrot which we all must chase. The chase itself, is what powers the great machines of capitalism.
    Actually scarcity is what drives the market, and it's primary goal is the alleviation of scarcity.

    When the illusion is removed( i.e. natural disasters, terrorism) the naked cause and effect reality is revealed.This is the point where people take notice of the inequities of rich and poor. People will become either angry and depressed which is debillitating to the workforce because we stop chasing the carrot, at least momentarily.So the powers that be must reaffirm their value to society(flucuating prices,terroristic threats)once the illusion is back in place,the chase can resume and it is buisness as usual.Now we can go back to our Christmas shopping.
    Not quite sure what you're saying here, but enjoy the shopping. Thanks to the powers that be you can get someone you love an Ipod instead of a new rock for their cave.
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    [quote=CDB]Actually laws exist for a variety of reasons. Some laws exist to protect property, all property, from aggression by other. Other laws exist to empower government. Other laws exist for the specific purpose of wealth transfer. Other laws exist for aesthetic reasons

    I agree. These are extensions of the basic premise.
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    scarcity is what drives the market, and it's primary goal is the alleviation of scarcity.[quote=CDB]

    ...give a man a fish and he has one meal..
    ...teach a man to fish and he has many meals...
    ...teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish, so he can manipulate the market price and he eats steak,drives a nice car and lives in a big house!



    ]
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    not quite sure what you're saying here, but enjoy the shopping. Thanks to the powers that be you can get someone you love an Ipod instead of a new rock for their cave.[/quote]

    Yes as far as power structures go the current one has many rewards(carrots).However it like all structures of power, must be challenged in order to make it better to serve mankind, which must be its ultimate purpose unless it has become corrupted by the weakness of its implimentors..as far as expressing love through consumerism, thats a personal choice or maybe the illusion of that choice was created by a system that needs you to buy an ipod to perpetuate the market. The ipod is a perfect model of an artificial market.it serves no basic human need,it is an entertainment device.Ipod dominates the portable entertainment device market(85%).It dominates not because it was the first to market( i have been downloading mp3s and listening to them on a portable device since 1998).It is not the best design.(its internal hard drive is an inherent weakness and will soon be replaced by a removable flash type memory)It dominates because of a huge marketing canpaign that applied basic "fear of loss" advertizing technique(if you don't have one you are not as cool as me)The manufacturer also has "sweetheart" ipod only deals with various download sites.This blantant "control of access" is what keeps the market from being "free" You have an illusion of choice.(do I want a pink one or a blue one?)but no market alternative.
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    There are plenty of market alternatives to the iPod though - people DO have a choice they just choose to go with the iPod because of the reasons you mentioned.
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    [quote=anabolicrhino]scarcity is what drives the market, and it's primary goal is the alleviation of scarcity.
    Quote Originally Posted by CDB

    ...give a man a fish and he has one meal..
    ...teach a man to fish and he has many meals...
    ...teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish, so he can manipulate the market price and he eats steak,drives a nice car and lives in a big house!
    ]
    Enterprising businessman saves up his fish instead of eating them, and uses these savings to support himself while he builds a capital good: a net. He hires people to use the net, they catch a hell of a lot more fish between them than before, and all of society is better off. And if he has more than the others he deserves it, no one else got off their ass and took the risk to build the net.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    Quote Originally Posted by anabolicrhino
    scarcity is what drives the market, and it's primary goal is the alleviation of scarcity.
    Enterprising businessman saves up his fish instead of eating them, and uses these savings to support himself while he builds a capital good: a net. He hires people to use the net, they catch a hell of a lot more fish between them than before, and all of society is better off. And if he has more than the others he deserves it, no one else got off their ass and took the risk to build the net.

    What you explained is an example of GOOD and ETHICAL competitive business practices.

    Here's an example of unethical practices:

    The man, after buying a net and making tons of money from it, builds a place where he breeds fish. Then he goes to the natural locations and poisons all the fish so that he is the only person you can get fish from. Then he drives the price of fish through the roof.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    What you explained is an example of GOOD and ETHICAL competitive business practices.

    Here's an example of unethical practices:

    The man, after buying a net and making tons of money from it, builds a place where he breeds fish. Then he goes to the natural locations and poisons all the fish so that he is the only person you can get fish from. Then he drives the price of fish through the roof.
    Nice point. Once you figure out who is stopping anyone else from breeding fish, or who is letting that scumbag get away with poisoning everyone else's fish so no one can compete with him, then you'll start getting a hint as to where I'm coming from. And no regulation other than the protection of property rights would be necessary to stop this kind of unethical practice.

    Alternative situation: Man poisons all the fish, then gets the local government to pass regulations to 'protect' the waterways in the area so no one else can breed fish and compete with him. He then bribes local officials to make sure no one brings any charges against him. Man then gets the local government to pass licensing laws to make sure entry into the business of "unqualified" fisherman is restrained by an artificially high cost of entry. Man then gets government to pass health legislation making sure the conditions he raises his fish under are the ones deemed healthy, and since he's accumulated a lot of capital he can meet these standards and the cost of entry into the business goes up again, restraining competition even more. Man then enacts anti trust laws to make sure anyone who manages to get through all these obstacles has to reveal all his prices so they can be calibrated across the market lessening price compeition, and to make sure he can use the government to bring a private suit against anyone who engages in "unfair" or "cut throat" competitive practices, loosely defined as innovations he can't or won't match for whatever reason.

    And when man gets rich after receiving all these favors and special protections from the government which did not have to give them to him and should not have given them to him, and is the only agency capable of enforcing such protections, the people get mad at him and not the government. People then put enough pressure on the government to pass a law redistributing a portion of the man's wealth onto them, the process keeps going until the market stagnates or collapses and then everyone is screwed. And of course, it's the businessman's fault, not the government's.
    Last edited by CDB; 11-22-2005 at 11:35 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    Nice point. Once you figure out who is stopping anyone else from breeding fish, or who is letting that scumbag get away with poisoning everyone else's fish so no one can compete with him, then you'll start getting a hint as to where I'm coming from. And no regulation other than the protection of property rights would be necessary to stop this kind of unethical practice.

    Alternative situation: Man poisons all the fish, then gets the local government to pass regulations to 'protect' the waterways in the area so no one else can breed fish and compete with him. He then bribes local officials to make sure no one brings any charges against him. Man then gets the local government to pass licensing laws to make sure entry into the business of "unqualified" fisherman is restrained by an artificially high cost of entry. Man then gets government to pass health legislation making sure the conditions he raises his fish under are the ones deemed healthy, and since he's accumulated a lot of capital he can meet these standards and the cost of entry into the business goes up again, restraining competition even more. Man then enacts anti trust laws to make sure anyone who manages to get through all these obstacles has to reveal all his prices so they can be calibrated across the market lessening price compeition, and to make sure he can use the government to bring a private suit against anyone who engages in "unfair" or "cut throat" competitive practices, loosely defined as innovations he can't or won't match for whatever reason.

    And when man gets rich after receiving all these favors and special protections from the government which did not and should not have given them to him, the people get mad at him and not the government. People then put enough pressure on the government to pass a law redistributing a portion of the man's wealth onto them, the process keeps going until the market stagnates or collapses and then everyone is screwed. And of course, it's the businessman's fault, not the government's.

    I agree those are examples of bad government regulation. Regulation that hurts the market AND the people.


    However, how about this kind of government regulation instead:

    What if the government created regulation saying no one is allowed to poison fish. Then the guy can't poison them and eliminate competition in the first place.


    Another example of government regulation which hurts is European drug price regulation. Europe "negotiates" (aka forces) low drug prices. Countries which have antionalized healthcare barter as an entire country so they can pretty much set any price they want. Drug companies have to make money though so they set prices very high in the US to make up for any losses in Europe. Thus Europe and Canada's low drug prices are the largest cause for the high drug prices in the US.

    The problem here though is, how do we counter that? What can we do to, law-wise, to counter regulation that other countries enact that affects our market negatively?
  37. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    What if the government created regulation saying no one is allowed to poison fish. Then the guy can't poison them and eliminate competition in the first place.
    Kind of like protecting private property and allowing people to use it as they see fit, including to raise fish? There is no need for a specific regulation.

    Another example of government regulation which hurts is European drug price regulation. Europe "negotiates" (aka forces) low drug prices. Countries which have antionalized healthcare barter as an entire country so they can pretty much set any price they want. Drug companies have to make money though so they set prices very high in the US to make up for any losses in Europe. Thus Europe and Canada's low drug prices are the largest cause for the high drug prices in the US.

    The problem here though is, how do we counter that? What can we do to, law-wise, to counter regulation that other countries enact that affects our market negatively?
    Nothing. There is no new legislation that won't screw it up worse than it is already. What we can do is denationalize our own heavily regulated system so the benefits at our end are at least enough to outweigh the problems at their end. We can also stop subsidizing health care in our country so people from those countries stuck on waiting lists can't come over here and get treatment on our dime, and instead have to pay private businesses for services. We can relax or abolish drug import restrictions so people can buy from those countries at the artificially lowered prices, putting a greater strain on the nationalized systems and making them collapse sooner rather than later.

    Also relevant to this situation is that conservative and especially Austrian economists were the first to predict these situations. After WWI when governments tried to force an international trading beauracracy on the major countries of the world it was conservatives and Austrians that fought against it. Hayek in The Road to Serfdom and Ludwig Von Mises in Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War both pointed out that when nations set themselves up as trading bodies it would result in hyperprotectionism, central planning and nationalization of large portions of the private sector.
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    Ok, property proection. That prevents them from poisoning other people's fish. But it is PUBLIC land. It isn't protecting someone's, it is limiting what people can do on GOVERNMENT property.

    If it were private property, then let's have this as a scenario. What if one entity bought all of the land you could fish from? So basically he had a complete and total monopoly on fish in that way. The end result is identical: one guy controls the entire fish market and can set prices to whatever he wants. Due to there being no competition nor ability for there to be any competition (he owns all the land), no innovation will ever occur either.
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    Don't mean to interrupt, but i have to say, this is an awesome thread, and I absoultely love reading everyone's points back and fourth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nullifidian
    Ok, property proection. That prevents them from poisoning other people's fish. But it is PUBLIC land. It isn't protecting someone's, it is limiting what people can do on GOVERNMENT property.
    I don't support the idea of pblic land. The tradgedy of the commons always happens and it goes to ****. The government is the worst caretaker of property. Let the government own it and it'll get leased out in one form or another to the highest bidder who, since they have no ownership and thus long term interest in the property, will rapeit for everything it's worth and then leave. All property should be private.

    If it were private property, then let's have this as a scenario. What if one entity bought all of the land you could fish from? So basically he had a complete and total monopoly on fish in that way. The end result is identical: one guy controls the entire fish market and can set prices to whatever he wants. Due to there being no competition nor ability for there to be any competition (he owns all the land), no innovation will ever occur either.
    That would be a good point if it were a probable situation. It isn't. There are alternatives for would be producers and the consumers and there always will be unless the government comes in and closes off the opportunities.

    You're viewing the market as static and it's not. Even if one person did manage to get a hold of all the fish production or all the oil production or all of the production of anything (which incidentally never happens unless the government supports it and perpetuates it), the second they try to raise prices and/or cut production the price system reacts quickly, and as the prices and profits go up alternatives become more and more viable economically.

    Say someone does get a hold of all the fish production in our little society. Some guy gets the idea to build a man made lake on his own property. However, the cost doesn't justify it. As the fish barron raises prices, either arbitrarily or through a cut in production, the profits that he starts earning make the lake alternative viable. If he raises prices too high new competition comes in and undercuts him. Take this out of the completely theoretical framework and it's easy to see it as an even more ridiculous situation. There are different types of food someone can eat, just as there are different types of fuel people can use and different types of transportation people can use.

    Back to theory, say the man made lake idea comes in. Now to eliminate competition the fish barron has to become the owner of all the land in the society. Once he does that, someone then might get the idea to import fish from another neighboring town. Then he has to deal with that threat any which way he can.

    All this illustrates a theoretical and practical fact about the market: the cost of legally obtaining a truly impervious monopoly are prohibitive in the extreme. It's impossible in theory and practice. No matter how far the monopoly extends the very exercising of the monopoly's power leads to its own destruction. As profits in the industry go up it gets more and more attractive for competitors to get involved to get a piece of the action any which way they can.

    Now, what is someone going to do, what's cheaper: A, keep spending more and more money and investing more and more capital to keep a stranglehold on a single market so you can set whatever prices you want; or B, compete like everyone else and earn a reasonable profit, and if someone tries to out do you, you out do them? Which is more attractive? The answer is neither, because in practical reality we have option C, get the government to come in an enforce your monopoly hold on a market. A simple set of bribes, some simple lobbying for protectionist laws and presto, instant monopoly and profits.

    And maybe this is where our point of disagreement is in the end and I should explain it. The government is the evil in those situations because only the government can legally force you to do something. Only the government can arbitrarily tell you to do something, or to not do something, and legally use deadly force to get you to comply. The most any corporation can do absent government protection or neglect is to present you with a not so good choice. But it's still a choice. And if the government is respecting it's role and protecting everyone's rights and not selling them out to the highest bidder even the situation of being presented with a not so good choice becomes remote because nothing is being actively done to destroy your right to choose.

    Monopoly, as with the slavery question that came up earlier in the thread, put aside the moral objections for a moment, the idea is just impracticle. It doesn't work very well, it costs a ****load of money, wastes resources and carries the seeds of its own destruction within itself. Unless the government steps in and legally forces people to accept the option it doesn't work. Unless the government comes in and takes those costs that would be born by the monopolist alone and defrays them over all society the option doesn't work.

    Now, do I doubt oil companies are colluding? I honestly don't know. I don't know the owners, they may or may not be colluding to raise prices. If they are it is the morass of protectionist and senseless legislation surrounding the industry that makes this possible and profitable. As such, if it is true, I blame the government and not the oil companies. They may be dispicable, but in the end they are just playing by the rules the government sets. I blame the person who sets stupid rules for the results, not those who follow them when they either have no choice or it's to their benefit to do so.
  

  
 

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