Ravenous

I just watched video from the 24 June Falcon Heavy launch, and the sheer awesomeness got me thinking big thoughts.

We now do easily what it used to take us a national effort of will to achieve. Other countries are still struggling to get things into orbit reliably, and with considerable public expenditure. The US has competing private ventures succeeding — at a profit. This is an amazing situation. The physics haven’t changed.

Meanwhile, our own government has been displaced from some of its favorite feeding grounds. It is in competition with the private sector, having come un-moored from its rightful place as the least efficient operator of last resort. Government, the organism, is itself in a growth-model of sustenance. It is not the economy which requires growth, but the ability to tax it to the degree that it supports an enormous parasitic entity. Government is fighting back, and it has arcane superweapons at its disposal, including replacing the populace and indenturing generations of descendents.

When we view the government as a pass-through entity only, we see that the parasites are us, or at least, a significant fraction of us. Yet, there are multiple channels of this dependency which should be treated differently. A person who receives government benefits will just as well accept them from a private entity, but a public employee is truly wedded to government. Public employees’ compensation of salary and other benefits are remarkable even on an apples-to-apples comparison with private sector employment. This has rested more on the beneifts than the salary, historically, but this is changing as government “competes” to hire talent. yet there is also the security of being untouchable in a government job, and the vicarious power wielded by petty functionaries with the seal of the state behind their every opinion to sweeten the pot. no amount of salary can outweight the selection effect that these greasy incentives work on a population of mixed decent and indecent fellows. The crap will accumulate in government, where they need not actually perform to a measurable standard, while the cream cannot abide the lordliness of an army of petty tyrants, and absquatulate the dysfunctorium.

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16 thoughts on “Ravenous”

  1. The game we need to play is to encourage the private sector to compete and surpass what the government delivers.

    Fedex passed the USPS.  NASA is being passed.

    We need to allow the private sector to take on the big government morasses, like public schools.

    All we need is an intentionally disruptive administration with serious cojones to set it in motion. If only we had that,,,

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  2. The issue is, the private sector can be as evil as government,  and when it’s gets power,  the right will defend it.

    We need a balance.

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  3. Bryan G. Stephens:
    The issue is, the private sector can be as evil as government,  and when it gets power,  the right will defend it.

    The key thing enabling evil is monopoly or oligopoly.  If you have lots of options in a free market, those who misbehave will lose business to those who treat their customers better and eventually be selected out—think of it as evolution in action.  Government sets itself up as an inherent monopoly: even when it is providing a a service which others could, it erects barriers to keep others from competing with it.  (Look up Lysander Spooner’s battles against the Post Office in the 19th century, for example.  Federal Express and UPS were only able to get a foothold by claiming their services did not compete with first class mail.  I remember when if you sent a letter in a Federal Express envelope you were supposed to stick a first class mail stamp on the outside to pay the piper for the privilege of not using its inferior service.)

    When private companies manage to establish an effective monopoly (often by network effects, for example railroads, electrical utilities, and wired telecommunication carriers), they can be just as inflexible, non-responsive, and abusive to their customers as any government.  L. Neil Smith argues that big government and big companies co-evolve.  As government becomes more intrusive and oppressive, organisations grow in order to cope with all of the overhead it piles on.  This overhead makes it almost impossible for small competitors to spring up unless they can, for example, exploit an emerging technology which the entrenched companies are slow to adopt.  Large, entrenched companies welcome regulation since they can afford the cost of compliance and understand that potential upstart competitors cannot (see Facebook).

    I also believe that absolutely central to the ability of governments to commit evil is their ability to print money.  Back when the king had to come crown in hand to beg bankers for loans to support his wars, you had smaller and more civilised wars (which in many cases did not much affect civilians).  The mass slaughter wars of the 20th century were fought between countries with central banks, paper money, and the ability to issue sovereign debt.  A government which can support its activities only through direct taxation (whether tariffs and excise taxes, as was the case in the U.S. before the 16th amendment, or an income or sales tax) as opposed to inflating the currency or borrowing, is limited in the scope of its actions and inherently less likely to cause harm.

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  4. Bryan is correct. For all practical purposes, the public versus private sector divide no longer exists. Corporations can be just as malevolent as any government. The right had better wake up to this fact, and fast.

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  5. Mike LaRoche:
    Bryan is correct. For all practical purposes, the public versus private sector divide no longer exists. Corporations can be just as malevolent as any government. The right had better wake up to this fact, and fast.

    So how to improve on the situation?

    Support shareholder revolts.

    Strip the tech giants of their immunity to lawsuits.

    Push the Securities and Exchange Commission to police their transparency requirements.

    Participate in boycotts.

    Elect conservatives.

    Prosecute white collar crime.

    What else?   Where should we focus?

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  6. If Google is evil, I can use another search engine. If government decrees a monopoly, then I cannot.  If you lose faith in government and the private sector then stand aside, please.

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  7. MJBubba:

    Mike LaRoche:
    Bryan is correct. For all practical purposes, the public versus private sector divide no longer exists. Corporations can be just as malevolent as any government. The right had better wake up to this fact, and fast.

    So how to improve on the situation?

    Support shareholder revolts.

    Strip the tech giants of their immunity to lawsuits.

    Push the Securities and Exchange Commission to police their transparency requirements.

    Participate in boycotts.

    Elect conservatives.

    Prosecute white collar crime.

    What else?   Where should we focus?

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  8. TKC 1101:
    If Google is evil, I can use another search engine. If government decrees a monopoly, then I cannot.  If you lose faith in government and the private sector then stand aside, please.

    We have already seen people try to do alternatives and had their banking pulled. Right now, banks are allowed to not do business with companies they don’t like. Where we are, TKC, is that a bakery cannot refuse to bake a cake, but a bank can refuse services to a client based on what they sell.

    You can say private market altenatives all you want too, but the private sector is full of bullies who will prevent it.

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  9. Bryan G. Stephens:
    You can say private market altenatives all you want too, but the private sector is full of bullies who will prevent it.

    As a kid, when confronted with a bully, you could complain or fight. The private sector allows you to fight. The government is a lot harder to fight.

    Take your pick on the system you wish to inhabit.

    Life aint fair , and rewards the persistent more than the good.

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  10. Bryan G. Stephens:
    Well, Facebook is getting into the printing money game.

    I just don’t see the private sector as any better.

    I’ve lost my faith in any private enterprise bigger than a small business. I’m convinced one of the reasons that the young are turning away from capitalism isn’t just that they’re “snowflakes” or seen too many Nike commercials. It’s that they see fathers and uncles and even grandfathers being abused by big corporations that regard them as a number to be discarded as needed.

    At church Wednesday night, a friend that’s a lifelong railroad man was telling me how the new management is now explicitly ordering local crews to ignore the safety training they’ve been taught and practiced for years in the name of more production. And they’re firing those that complain about those violations. They’re expected to do this with fewer people as well. All this for “shareholder value”.

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  11. John Walker:
    f you have lots of options in a free market, those who misbehave will lose business to those who treat their customers better and eventually be selected out—think of it as evolution in action.

    If this is the case, why doesn’t Gab have millions of users, and why isn’t Twitter losing millions?

    If this is the case, when YouTube kicked Alex Jones, et all, off of their platform, why didn’t Vimeo jump at the chance to get those millions of users?

    If this is the case, why didn’t Addidas start making Betsy Ross Flag shoes when Nike cravenly caved to the Left?

    There is no “free market” when a sector is dominated by megacorps. As we’ve seen everywhere from social media to sneakers, companies are either herd animals easily dominated by leftist squeaky wheels, or they’re actually run by leftists that just happen to like stock options. And I think the truth is a combination of both. Our markets aren’t free because our megacorps collude with each politically because they think this oligarchic behavior will make them more money. And as we’ve seen in everything from the VHS to Microsoft Windows, Big and Cheap and Good Enough beat Small and Principled and Better every time.

    “Build your own” means nothing when the other players in the market space collude to prevent you from really competing.

    Don’t like what Twitter is doing to you? Build your own Gab. Oops, your Gab is racist and extremist. Sorry, no access to the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Oh, and since Gab is racist and extremist, hey, we’re going to chase you from web host to web host while we’re at it.

    Or you could wise up and just use Twitter. And most people do.

    I have become convinced that real free markets of large size can never exist for the same reason that “real socialism” can never exist: human nature will always foul up the ideal when put into practice. Human corruption is the constant that never goes away. “If men were angels, they wouldn’t need governments”, etc.

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  12. Douglas:
    I have become convinced that real free markets of large size can never exist for the same reason that “real socialism” can never exist: human nature will always foul up the ideal when put into practice. Human corruption is the constant that never goes away. “If men were angels, they wouldn’t need governments”, etc.

    Well, we know that real socialism can exist until it has exhausted the supply of other peoples money.

    As for “real free markets,” isn’t this what President Trump is trying to address by pursuing “fair deal” trade agreements?

    We have talked before about government regulation of business.   The regulations were implemented in the first place to prevent rapacious practices by criminal-minded businesses.   The downside is that the regulations have grown to such an extent that larger companies gain an advantage over smaller companies simply because of the resource requirements of regulatory compliance.

    But aside from all that, the tech giants have obtained advantageous market positions that are staggering in scope and disturbing in their ability to shape every aspect of modern life in America.   Grappling with Big Tech is a daunting task that will require drastic measures.

    Our problems are that conservatives do not like “drastic,” and we have not figured out what drastic measures would produce the desired result.

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  13. Douglas:
    management is now explicitly ordering local crews to ignore the safety training

    Well, that should be a very simple matter to overcome.  One phone call to a local reporter who wants to go national, and that blows wide open.

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  14. Douglas:
    I have become convinced that real free markets of large size can never exist for the same reason that “real socialism” can never exist: human nature will always foul up the ideal when put into practice. Human corruption is the constant that never goes away. “If men were angels, they wouldn’t need governments”, etc.

    I am normally in the “less regulation, more freedom” camp.  Yet I agree that regulation serves a valid purpose, as a distasteful remedy of last resort.  After the abuses and a demonstrated failure of the market *as it exists* to correct the crap we are seeing now, I would like to see big tech busted up.

    This is entirely consistent with restoring a more market-like environment.  Right now, there is no real market.

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