Contact
Archives
Search
Blogs
Newspaper Blogs
English-Language
Press
Polls

June 02, 2003

THE FREE MARKET....I didn't really mean to spend an entire fortnight posting about income inequality, but it ended up taking on a life of its own after the first post, and I'm glad it did since it led to some interesting conversations. In any case, I think I'm done for the time being, and I'd like to finish up with one final post.

Several of the criticisms — especially of this post — were along the lines of "Perhaps Kevin doesn't realize that there's a reason certain people do better than others. It's called the free market."

Indeed I do realize that, and that's really the whole point of all my posts. The problem is that while market-based economies are terrific at a wide range of allocation problems, free market capitalism isn't a law of nature or a command from God. It's an invention of human beings, and like any human tool there are places where it works well and places where it doesn't. Roughly speaking, there are two areas where I think government intervention in free markets is justified:

  • Interventions that are designed to make capitalism work better. Example: capitalist economies work their magic via competition, but classical economists have recognized for over a century that laissez faire capitalism frequently leads to monopolies, which in turn destroys laissez faire capitalism. The answer is antitrust legislation, which is designed not so much to rein in free markets as to allow them to flourish. Securities regulation, which is generally designed to promote transparency and a freer flow of information, is another example.

  • Interventions designed to correct things that capitalism does poorly. Example: brutally exploitive child labor is a normal and predictable consequence of industrial capitalism. However, when it eventually became socially unacceptable it took government intervention to end it. A modern day example is minimum wage laws. A free market will inevitably price the least skilled labor at (more or less) subsistence levels, but today we have a social consensus that if you want to employ someone, there's a certain minimum amount you should be required to pay.

Bottom line: I am a considerable fan of free market capitalism and generally think of it as the default mechanism for making economic decisions. However, while I'm also a fan of the scientific method, that doesn't mean I think it's the right tool to decide every single question of the workings of the world.

Likewise, capitalism isn't the right tool to decide every single question of resource allocation and human interaction. As a democratic society, we can decide for ourselves what our priorities are, and if unregulated capitalism doesn't meet our needs, we should feel free to intervene. The important thing is to understand the costs and limitations of interfering with free markets, to treat our ignorance with respect, and to be willing to change our minds based on changing evidence. Free markets work wonderfully well in a wide variety of cases, and we should be skeptical about our ability to improve on them — but not petrified into inaction.

This is why economics (and economic history) is important. Not because it teaches us to worship at the altar of the marketplace, but because it helps teach us what the marketplace can do, how and when it can be safely interfered with, and what the costs and benefits of interventions are likely to be. As long as we interfere with our eyes open and maintain a healthy respect for the dangers of unintended consequences, there is no reason we must — or should — accept the results of the marketplace as gospel.

Posted by Kevin Drum at June 2, 2003 06:38 PM | TrackBack


Comments

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

-- Emerson

Posted by: taktile at June 2, 2003 07:01 PM | PERMALINK

Nice post, Kevin. It's especially important to realize that capitalism is, in fact, a human tool, and modern capitalism simply wouldn't exist without government (at a minimum, a government is needed to enforce a modern property system).

The issue really comes down to what sort of society most of us want, and what, if anything, needs to be done to ensure our economic system delivers.

This debate touches more than a little bit on libertarian notions of society. An invaluable resource for such ideas is Mike Huben's Critiques of Libertarianism.

Jonathan

"A properly functioning free market system does not spring spontaneously from society's soil as crabgrass springs from suburban lawns. Rather, it is a complex creation of laws and mores... Capitalism is a government program."
George Will, This Week with Sam Donaldson, Jan. 13, 2002

Posted by: Jonathan at June 2, 2003 07:11 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds reasonable to me. Of course, the trick is knowing when to stop.

Sometimes regulations outlive their time. I sometimes wonder if laws and regulations should be required to sunset after, say 20 years, so that they can be looked at again in the light of the present time.

Posted by: Kevin P. at June 2, 2003 07:14 PM | PERMALINK
Sometimes regulations outlive their time. I sometimes wonder if laws and regulations should be required to sunset after, say 20 years, so that they can be looked at again in the light of the present time.

The problem with that is there are always people for whom the sole concern is making more money, regardless if the methods are socially unacceptable, unethical, etc.

My concern with sunset clauses is a few wealthy campaign contributors coupled with a few unethical politicians could do some real damage to something important to everybody like the 40-hour work week. Yes, we could vote them all out the next term, but sometimes that isn't good enough. There will always be robber barrons who are willing to consider human beings as another natural resource to be exploited (and, no, I'm not naming anybody in particular here).

Of course, my personal opinion is that we should be working 36 hours a week - four nines, with three days off. I'd be willing to bet it would lead to a more productive workforce, and in some cases would lead to more jobs (shift factories and the like).

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 07:18 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you Kevin. Free markets are great, when they are not interfered with by the state and monopoly power. Unfortunately, our system of state capitalism interferes with free markets consistently, in favor of our own corporations, and you rarely hear this criticism coming from the libertarian free market crowd.

You also rarely hear them champion free markets in other areas of life, for instance politics. Our two-party system distorts the free market of politics, doesn't allow individuals like Ralph Nader to debate, and ends up with a system that so many people despise, or feel helpless in, that the voting record is atrocious.

Free markets of ideas and opinions also is essential, and there are a number of forces working against these, and again libertarians rarely acknowledge them, as the majority of them come from the Right side of the spectrum.

I like your analysis of free markets. It underscores exactly what we've been saying about the FCC decision on media. You defended the decision as needed for a freer market, but you haven't really made a good case that this will actually allow the market to work better, which by all accounts seem to be working fabulously, with media at unprecedented levels of evolution and growth.

The FCC decision was not necessary, and was done against the wishes of both Congress and the American people, and without proper and engaged public consideration and debate. I honestly can't believe that you would defend such a possibly momentous action by a regulatory agency staffed by partisan appointees, and who decided against their mandate given by Congress to act in the "public interest", in regards to the "public airwaves" (or commons), in favor of siding with the "corporate interest", and an overall argument that denies the commons nature of several forms of media.

Posted by: freelixir at June 2, 2003 07:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to hear your response to this Kevin. I'm still greatly confused, as many were who responded to your FCC post, how you justify the FCC making this action without engaged and vigorous public consideration, and seemingly against their charge and mandate given them by Congress.

Posted by: freelixir at June 2, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

The free market paid Greg Ostertag 39 million over 6 years, Jim McIlvaine 33.6 million over 7 years, Shawn Bradley 30 million over 7 years, and the absolute worst, Bryant Reeves 65 million over 6 years. If we can't trust savvy NBA executives with their ridiculous contract extensions for white centers, then my faith in the free market for children's health insurance and pharmaceutical drugs will remain irrevocably shaken.

Posted by: Norbizness at June 2, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

Jonathan: that is a cool link. Thanks.

Posted by: taktile at June 2, 2003 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

And when seemingly a 90%+ majority of Americans believe that media is already too consolidated and concentrated in ownership...

Posted by: freelixir at June 2, 2003 07:27 PM | PERMALINK

how do you square this with your "democracy is ok and doing well" statement?

Posted by: freelixir at June 2, 2003 07:28 PM | PERMALINK

This discussion also brings up interesting ideas about differences between liberals and libertarians/conservatives on the idea of freedom. I generally think that most liberals look for a positive freedom, i.e., the freedom to do, in the free market. They want to be able and have others be able to participate in a market where people aren't lying, cheating, stealing, or otherwise exploiting others--all of which requires a regulatory body. On the other hand, conservatives/libertarian seem to regard freedom as negative, that is, freedom from regulation. Ideally, I suppose, "freedom from" should be the same as "freedom to," but so often unfortunately this is not the case.

Posted by: MC at June 2, 2003 07:33 PM | PERMALINK

freelixir wrote:

The FCC decision was not necessary, and was done against the wishes of both Congress and the American people, and without proper and engaged public consideration and debate.

As you may or may not know, I work on the Hill (albeit not in any kind of legislative capacity, I make web pages). I was speaking to an aide of a Congressman (who shall remain nameless) today, and I was told they're confident they have the votes to overrule the FCC decision in both houses.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 07:37 PM | PERMALINK

Freelixir wrote:

"Free markets of ideas and opinions also is essential, and there are a number of forces working against these, and again libertarians rarely acknowledge them, as the majority of them come from the Right side of the spectrum "

Err... how do you figure this exactly ? Any data to back that up ?

Last I checked the advocates of speech codes, " free speech zones " that restrict free speech to some out of the way nook, the legal theory that speech equals action, and that free speech itself doesn't exist comes from the Left, specifically the academic Left and the Critical theorists in particular. There are religious right censors aplenty who scour junior high school books for swear words but of the two groups who is more effective in actually getting laws and rules passed restricting free expression ? ( The two sides also join forces on occasions, usually to pass " anti-pornography " laws. You can find Andrea Dworkin and Jerry Falwell in the same bed, at least politically speaking)

Secondly, libertarian and civil libertarian groups from the ACLU to FIRE are active in taking would be censors to court. In the media I see public figures like Nat Hentoff, Nadine Strossen, Tammy Bruce, Stephen Chapman, John Leo and others frequently spotlighting attempts at censorship.

Posted by: mark safranski at June 2, 2003 07:45 PM | PERMALINK

I find it truly remarkable that, in the year 2003, so many (if not all) conservatives and libertarians regard the chimerical "free market" as this wondrous, endlessly benefic creation that must be left in its pure, virginal state, lest we begin the long, hellish descent into (gasp!) socialism. For these starry-eyed idealists, it's as if the last 100 years of American history never happened. Anyway, I strongly recommend Social Darwinism in American Thought by the immortal Richard Hofstadter for anyone interested in the notable similarities between the long-discredited late 19th century "Social Darwinists" such as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner, and today's Hayek-totin' "market fundamentalists." The more things change...

Posted by: Yuval Rubinstein at June 2, 2003 08:01 PM | PERMALINK

Well, heck,

If you're going to be all reasonable and nonideological about stuff, where's the fun in that?

Great post.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement at June 2, 2003 08:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yuval,

Actually, the most free-market libertarian types I know believe rather strongly in *corporate* regulation, because large corporations interfere with the free market, which in its pure virginal form is made up of individuals. By defining corporations as "individuals" the system becomes skewed in their favor, as, of course, they don't face individual consequences in the same way. In fact, the whole point is to protect the individuals who own the corporations.

I find that I can find a lot of common ground with libertarians. They're a very different group than those who seem to believe GOP stands for "God's Own Party" and just agree with whatever drivel comes down from the leadership.

Posted by: Magenta at June 2, 2003 08:33 PM | PERMALINK

Magenta, where are these libertarians, because I never hear from them. Most libertarians I come across these days are radical Ayn Rand types, and accept any state interference as anathema. This reactionaryism is practically a religion. And Cato rarely takes this line. There is a current creepy form of corporate laissez-faire libertarianism that is going around, and at the very least they are drowning out the voices of more reasonable and realistic libertarians, who are not absolutist.

Posted by: freelixir at June 2, 2003 08:58 PM | PERMALINK

Last I checked the advocates of speech codes, " free speech zones " that restrict free speech to some out of the way nook, the legal theory that speech equals action, and that free speech itself doesn't exist comes from the Left, specifically the academic Left and the Critical theorists in particular. There are religious right censors aplenty who scour junior high school books for swear words but of the two groups who is more effective in actually getting laws and rules passed restricting free expression ? ( The two sides also join forces on occasions, usually to pass " anti-pornography " laws. You can find Andrea Dworkin and Jerry Falwell in the same bed, at least politically speaking)

Mark, my use of the term "majority on the Right" was meant as an acknowledgment that there are currents that fight free markets of ideas and opinions on the Left too, but in an overall sense, and far more than in a legal sense, a majority of this comes from the Right.

I believe you overstate greatly the stances and opinions of the academic Left and critical theorist, and overestimate their impact. Yes, in some notable cases they are terrible at allowing for opinions opposed to their own, but this is much more common among today's right wing then the Left.

I am also talking about more than freedom of speech, which is only one component of a free market of thought, information and expression. I am speaking in more of a philosophical sense, and not in a legalistic sense.

I have noticed that the Left is moving towards the Right on this though, as they feel victimized by the Right's successful use of a closed market in thought and opinion, backed by huge dollar contributions, in pulling the political climate to the Right.

The Left is beginning to call for adopting the same tactics as the Right, and this is to be decried, as Al Franken makes so clear. The bottom-line though is that in many ways I see myself as a realistic libertarian, one not far from the views of classical liberalism, and feel there are a bunch of fradulent libertarians out there who want to remove restrictions that don't work in their favor, and look the other way from those restrictions that do work in their self-interest.

Regardless, I still want to hear from Kevin Drumm about his support of undemocratic and against-the -will-of-the-American-people decision making by regulatory bodies manned by appointed bureaucrats that effect all of us.

Posted by: freelixir at June 2, 2003 09:07 PM | PERMALINK

Is it reasonable to think that a "free market" has never existed? I certainly don't see it. And at some point, you have to realize, that today's capital is a result of the blood and sweat of others. I think the problem with these debates is how they are framed...you have to assume certainties before you can enter them. I just don't see it.

Posted by: Tela at June 2, 2003 09:17 PM | PERMALINK

Freelixer: My FCC post was only on the merits of the proposal itself. I agree that they should have held public hearings, and if it really is opposed by Congress, then Congress can pass a new law overturning the decision.

Basically, it comes down to the real world. I really do believe in deregulation unless there's a good reason for the regulation, and I'm just not convinced that the regulations in place right now are all that necessary. The loss of small personal businesses is something that's happened all across the economy, not just in the media, and I really do think that there's enough competition and diversity within the media without lots of regulation.

Furthermore, and this is important, I think there's a sort of rosy view of the good ol' days of the media that never really existed. The major media has always been owned by big corporations, so I'm not sure the modern media world is quite as different (and dangerous) as people are making it out to be.

Of course, I could be wrong about this....

Posted by: Kevin Drum at June 2, 2003 09:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote:

and if it really is opposed by Congress, then Congress can pass a new law overturning the decision.

Looks like the aide I spoke to today leaked to the local news, too; they're now reporting impending legislation to overrule the FCC decision. Now, there's no doubt about having support in the Senate (Trent Lott, just to name one, was against this, the Senate will probably vote 2-to-1 on this), but I'm unsure if they can make it through the House; the house tends to be more populated by lunatics (on either side of the aisle).

Kevin also wrote:

Furthermore, and this is important, I think there's a sort of rosy view of the good ol' days of the media that never really existed.

I came upon this conclusion myself this evening, when the Don Henley song Dirty Laundry came on the radio. I mean, if Henley was talking about how bad the media was in the early 80s (an era when I wasn't really paying attention to the evening news, being in kindergarten) then has it gotten that much worse?

I'm not fond of the right-wing wurlitzer, of course. But it's hard to say if this is going to play out as bad as some people are suggesting. My opposition to it is primarily on the local programming front. Back when I was in high school, there was a lot of fantastic radio, even in east-central Pennsylvania. Now, there's little local programming and obviously standardized playlists, even on formats like classic rock. It's gotten bad enough (in my opinion) that I don't listen to commercial radio anymore. I'm wondering if my television viewing (which is already limited) is going to be restricted to PBS in the near future.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 09:35 PM | PERMALINK

My grammar has escaped me: should be "badly" in the last paragraph above.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 09:36 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, the "CEO Administration" is about to simplify and streamline the telecommunications business the same way other CEOs insisted it needed to be done in '96...leading to a hype stampede, overbuilding bubble and massive fraud which we're still trapped under....

...the same way other CEOs said the finance/insurance/investments business needed to streamlined in--whoops, forgot what year--to "unfetter markets and open financial market accesiibility" ...leading to an etrade, ameritrade, schwab, merrill hype stampede, more massive fraud and a market bubble which our 401k's are still trapped under...

...the same way other CEOs said the S&L business needed to be freed up and modernized in the 80s...leading to a taxpayer bailout, yet mo' fraud--Hi, Neil Bush!--in the untold billions[trillions?]

...the same way other CEOs of [insert pharma, energy, healthcare, airlines, agribusiness or sector of your choice here]...

What do I feel after all this? Mostly empathy.

With the cadavers in a first-year anatomy class at a 5th-tier medical school.

Posted by: bluto at June 2, 2003 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

One thing to understand, the market, as a force doesn't exist. When economists talk about 'the market' the are talking about an economic state where millions of independent actors can make there own decisions about personal valuation of scarce resources as signaled by price. The reason that 'the market' tends to be more efficient than government control is because the millions of different economic actors know the millions of different details that effect their decisions far more intimately than the government. It is all about knowledge, and usually the people in the market have more knowledge than the government could ever gather and analyze.

So, in response to the FCC question, I don't think that the government has to justify removing regulatory control. The default understanding is that 'the market' will know better than the government. In my mind the burden of proof should be on the government regulator to show that both a) has been a market failure AND b) that the government is likely to correct that failure with introducing all sorts of other bad results into the system. I'm not against government intervention, I'm just assuming that the government can do better than the market.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 2, 2003 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Nice post Kevin,
I also think the concept of Public Goods (which I assume falls under the second category) needs to be brought back to the Libertarians attentions. For practical reasons there are a lot of goods and services that the government has to provide (roads, military defence, environmental conservation + protection) and notably Conservatives seem to embrace only those that result in huge government pay outs to corporations.
Also, the whole "privatization is always the answer" approach seems to have been firmly refuted by California's energy crisis. Yet still they persist!

Posted by: MDtoMN at June 2, 2003 10:17 PM | PERMALINK
a) has been a market failure

I would argue that Clear Channel's track record of layoffs and lack of local programming qualifies as a market failure. People would likely go to other radio stations which carried local programming if they had that choice (which, in plenty of markets, they don't).

b) that the government is likely to correct that failure with introducing all sorts of other bad results into the system.

here is the tricky part. I still see local programming on television now, but it's still not that much programming.. so it's not necessarily a perfect comparison with radio, as television starts with much less local programming from the get-go.

the question, though, is what bad results in the system could we possibly see? a couple of media moguls who only make two billion instead of four?

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 10:35 PM | PERMALINK
Last I checked the advocates of speech codes, " free speech zones " that restrict free speech to some out of the way nook, the legal theory that speech equals action, and that free speech itself doesn't exist comes from the Left, specifically the academic Left and the Critical theorists in particular.

Hmm...academic Left...Critical theorists...Theodor Adorno:

Perhaps a film that strictly and in all respects satisfied the code of the Hays Office might turn out a great work of art, but not in a world in which there is a Hays Office.

from "Monograms" in Minima Moralia

God, I love sweeping generalizations--especially pieces of paranoid anti-intellectualism that can be easily shown to be wrong.

Posted by: Curtiss Leung at June 2, 2003 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

And Bravo, Kevin, for pointing out that capitalism is not a law of nature, but a human arrangement. We may never see the end of ideology, but perhaps we can look forward to the end of this particular ideology.

Posted by: Curtiss Leung at June 2, 2003 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

The reason why I think that the consolidation in media markets is a lot more serious than cosolidation in other markets is that market failure of information is a seriously nightmarish scenario compared to that of any other market good.

Posted by: taktile at June 2, 2003 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

John Yuda, that is exactly the type of debate that I would love to have on market/government issues, yet this is the first time in quite a while when I've even seen someone attempt it.

As for the fear of market media consolidation, I would have been much more worried if the internet were not in existance. Furthermore there is some evidence that the market is punishing over-consolidation in media markets. See AOL merger/spin-off talks.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 2, 2003 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian penned:

Furthermore there is some evidence that the market is punishing over-consolidation in media markets. See AOL merger/spin-off talks.

Point granted, although it's still hard to tell where (if anywhere) the AOL situation is leading.

Speaking of the internet, though, I'm mildly worried about the announcement by Microsoft that future versions of IE will be available only in some OS releases and as part of MSN. I see this potentially leading one of three different ways:


  1. the market moving back to Mozilla/Netscape (which, in my opinion, is already a superior product - better CSS support, PNG alpha transparency support, among other issues that would sould like technobabble to non-web designers).

  2. Microsoft getting themselves into a position to deliver an awful lot of content they control to the vast majority of internet users. Admittedly I don't find this very likely, but MS has shown a willingness to be.. shall we say less than honest... in the past.

  3. Between AOL using the IE codebase for the next six years (or at least being allowed to) and MS embedding their browser in Windows, having the windows internet market stagnate with mediocre support for web standards and techonology, which would lead to a world of hurt for web designers but not necessarily be noticable to Joe Internet.

Meanwhile, back at the discussion:is local news going to be relegated to small-run newspapers (not even the WaPo here, I'm talking Mount Vernon Gazette type things) and public access television, or will we stick with what we have now? I feel like it's more likely to be somewhere in between, although I do feel comfortable predicting the end of at least two of the six TV networks: at least one of WB or UPN will go, but I wouldn't be all that surprised to see one of the big four die off as well.

Whatever happened to the truly independant TV channel? I have fond memories of WPIX and WOR from New York, for instance.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oy. This is why people should keep me away from the computer at 2:15. Unintelligible posts.

And on that note, hasta mañana.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian: give me some food for thought tomorrow morning.. what sorts of negative effects of government regulation of modern, high-tech industries do you potentially see?

I'm particularly interested in problems that exist or may have come about in the future given a still-regulated media situation (for bonus thought, let's pretend the FCC re-regulated radio instead of deregulating other stuff).

Now I'm really going to bed. Honest.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 2, 2003 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, if Henley was talking about how bad the media was in the early 80s (an era when I wasn't really paying attention to the evening news, being in kindergarten) then has it gotten that much worse?

Oh, dear. I am so old.

"Dirty Laundry" is more about the excesses of tabloid journalism than about media consolidation. Those complaints go way back, see Five-Star Final (1931) or Ace In the Hole (1951) or Sam Fuller's tribute to the tabs of the 1880s, Park Row (1952). Or the photographs of Weegee. Or the masterpiece, Sweet Smell of Success (1957).

I'll stop now.

Posted by: hamletta at June 3, 2003 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Quality as ever, Kevin.

What never fails to astonish me is that people don't see that our "free market" is something devised by people as a framework to work in rather than some sort of Darwinian mechanism. And then they'll go demanding "free markets" for products for their country when (in the case of the US) there are monumental subsidies for farming, steel, airlines, sugar etc etc. The EU (where I live) is probably even worse - it was on the radio this morning that EU farming subsidies are now 311 billion GBP a year - half a TRILLION US dollars (actually just realised that might not be a trillion if you live in the US - can't remember the rule but in the UK a trillion is 1000 billion). Anyway, point is, the industrialised west is free market when it wants to be.

And indeed pro-human rights / "freeing oppressed people" when it wants to be too, but that's a whooooole different debate.

Cheers

Al

Posted by: Al at June 3, 2003 01:33 AM | PERMALINK

Good initial post and I also appreciate something Drum said in the thread relating back to the FCC issue - that being the comment on looking back at the media with rose colored glasses.

I agree 100% - the FCC discussion is framed as if there were some time when there was this amazing Golden Era of media - all diversly owned and operated with all manner of interesting and deep programming - and it's total crap.

The Smothers Brothers were cancelled in the good old days. The news media pretty much followed the administration's lead at least until reporters started getting their butts kicked by rampaging cops or witnessing brutal insanities in Viet Nam.

I grew up in Philly - there were at least two independent stations - UHF stations. What do I remember of them - what sort of creative, wonderful programming? Afternoon cartoon shows - Wee Willie Winkle - he'd play 8th Man and Astro Boy cartoons and do this bit with this little face painted onto his chin shot with the camera upside down..........deep stuff.

And radio - sheesh. There were maybe two interesting times in radio in my lifetime. The late 50s early 60s era when DJs had total control over what they played. But of course, you had the payola scandals so how pure was that?

Then there was the early days of FM in the late 60s - "underground" stations, where they'd play the entire Woodstock soundtrack including the "Fish Cheer." But when you look at what those underground stations were playing, it looks an awful lot like the playlists of the classic rock stations we have now.

I can remember being cussed at by DJs in the early 80s for having the nerve to call up and request some U2. (We knew it was pointless to ask for the Ramones...) There really are many more options for music on the radio dial than there was 25 years ago. Yeah, the stations aren't as funky as they used to be, but a lot of music is available. Not all of it, but a lot.

The media has always been bland and mainstream. And I don't see how this deregulation is going to make it worse.

I do believe that the financial pressures required of large corporations will drive them to continue to offer different programming options. And independant and underground sources of entertainment will flourish and come to us through new channels of distribution.

I hope...thekeez

Posted by: Jeff Keezel at June 3, 2003 05:30 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, my personal opinion is that we should be working 36 hours a week - four nines, with three days off.

See, this is why some people get their hackles up when regulation starts getting discussed. "We" don't want to do any such thing -- "we" rather like working 5 8-hour days with two days off. Especially when "we" get into the office around 8:00am and leave around 4:30 every day.

John, you work on the Hill, so you know what commuting around here is like. I've got an hour commute from Fairfax to Arlington every day each way. A 9-hour workday would mean 11 hours of my day spent getting to or being at work. No thanks; that isn't worth the extra day off for me.

Posted by: Phil at June 3, 2003 05:35 AM | PERMALINK

>>>"Free markets of ideas and opinions also is essential, and there are a number of forces working against these, and again libertarians rarely acknowledge them, as the majority of them come from the Right side of the spectrum "

>>Err... how do you figure this exactly ? Any data to back that up ?

well we could point to all the political support by the right that Microsoft enjoyed during the antitrust trial that was based upon nothing more than philosophical hatred of either the Clinton Adminstration or the antitrust laws themselves, and which were rarely (if ever) based upon or recognized the fact that Microsoft really was a lawbreaker. I don't think I ever read one article supporting Microsoft during the time period of the trial that ever accepted the fact that Microsoft was a lawbreaker. Look up any of Slade Gorton's comments on the issue, for example.

Posted by: Andy at June 3, 2003 05:52 AM | PERMALINK

As a democratic society, we can decide for ourselves what our priorities are, and if unregulated capitalism doesn't meet our needs, we should feel free to intervene.

I think this is where you get yourself in trouble with the Liberatarians. For you democracy trumps private property rights. Its pretty basic to American constitutionalism that there are some G-d given rights that the democratic process can't touch, but anything else is fair game. Libs put property rights in there with free speech and freedom of religion as things that the people -must- keep their grubby little paws off. You say that you are a fan of free-market capitalism, meaning I assume that you think it usually works and your first idea at solving any problem is FMC, but you will try something else if FMC does not give the results you want. Would you say the same thing about Due Process or Freedom of Religion? No, you would not, those are foundational for you. Libs are not like you and me. The loudest of of Libs have a basically a post-nationalist post-democratic approach, and I don't see much possibility of meaningful dialogue between the two sides. Given that I think the Lib position is both impractical and wrong I usually just ignore them.

Posted by: Ssuma at June 3, 2003 06:24 AM | PERMALINK

Phil said:

John, you work on the Hill, so you know what commuting around here is like. I've got an hour commute from Fairfax to Arlington every day each way.

That's why I live walking distance from a metro station, but point well taken. ;)

Yeah, you're right. I shouldn't use "we" when I really mean "I"

But what if you could do the 36 hours as 5 7.25-hour days?

A lot of government employees work a compressed work schedule, which is 8 9 hour days and one 8 hour day every two weeks.. nets you one extra day off. It's just a damn shame I'm not allowed to do that.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 06:51 AM | PERMALINK

via Jeff Keezel:

There really are many more options for music on the radio dial than there was 25 years ago. Yeah, the stations aren't as funky as they used to be, but a lot of music is available. Not all of it, but a lot.

To a point this is true. At least in a major media market like here, you can find classic rock, country, hip-hop, limp-bizkit-alternative, modern pop, etc. The problem is, if you've got two stations which play the same format, they play basically the same stuff. I'd love to see two country stations, one of which plays bluegrass and old-timey stuff with maybe some country blues thrown in, the other of which plays modern country. The classic rock stations all play the same three Pink Floyd songs every day.

Ultimately, my radio listening is pretty limited: I listen to one for-profit station, a progressive station that lets DJs pick their songs out of Annapolis - WRNR (although it only comes in if the weather is just right) and three public stations: one for news with bluegrass on the weekends (WAMU/NPR), one for jazz, blues, and radical talk (WPFW/Pacifica), and one for music in a general sense (KCRW/NPR out of Santa Monica, via the web). And, yes, I'm a member of all three.

That said, as long as people continue to support public radio (whatever network it's on) then radio will live on. I'm hoping the FCC changes lead to a big upswing in public radio and television donations, but it probably won't.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 06:59 AM | PERMALINK

No clever comments, I'd just like to thank you for a brilliant summary of why I consider myself a liberal.

Posted by: aelph at June 3, 2003 07:27 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I've been noodling around with the same issues a bit, and want to toss in a thought...I don't think that redistribitive regulation is an 'add-on' to successful markets and market democracies, I think it's an essential part of them. Without some limits on the concentration of power - either market or political - the system doesn't work.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal at June 3, 2003 07:50 AM | PERMALINK

John Yuda, maybe it is just because I live in California, land of the negotiated work day, but I don't really understand why you 'aren't allowed' to have a work schedule that you like. I have worked in law offices for years, and all but the most green novice could negotiate a work day/week. In my current office the secretaries work 7.25 hour days. Some of them start as early as 7:30 a.m., and others end their day as late as 6:00 p.m. Some take an hour lunch, some a half-hour. Secretaries have to be there each work day for phone coverage, but that brings us to the paralegals. They typically work 40 hour weeks, though at least one has negotiated a 'full time' 35 hour week for reduced pay. They work pretty much whatever hours they want, and one works on a weekend day. One works early and late, but with a 2.5 hour lunch to spend time with her kids. Some would work 4 days a week except that the Cal. overtime rules make it tough to schedule like that without paying overtime. (That would be government intervention making personal flexibility difficult.) The attorneys work whatever hours are needed to get their work done, and quite a few of them arrive late and leave early, and make up the time on planes when they travel.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 08:54 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian wrote:

but I don't really understand why you 'aren't allowed' to have a work schedule that you like.

Well, my schedule is somewhat flexible, but because I provide some phone/email support (for web design issues) as well as doing web design I have to be here Monday through Friday during roughly business hours. That said, some days I'm here at 8 so I can leave early, some days I get here around 10 and stay late.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 09:01 AM | PERMALINK

Curtiss,

The Hays Office ??? Are you kidding me ? Could you at least find an example more recent than from our grandfather's time ? Donna Shalala's out there censoring college students right now and your giving me the motion picture code from 1930.

The Hay's Office, by the way, attempted to censor parts of the film version of The Fountainhead so they apparently had no love of Ayn Rand's ideas either.

What drivel.

Posted by: mark safranski at June 3, 2003 09:05 AM | PERMALINK

>>Donna Shalala's out there censoring college students right now

Really? I thought she was too busy trying to bring down the Big East to concern herself in day-to-day affairs such as censoring students.

Tell us, what exactly is she doing RIGHT NOW that is censoring college students?

Posted by: Andy at June 3, 2003 09:16 AM | PERMALINK

When I was at Penn State, they tried to force free speech zones on us. The charge was led by our University President Graham Spanier.

But, before conservatives start congratulating themselves, you might want to know that Mr. Spanier was a conservative minister.

Now, this is just one case, but until mark safranski can show us actual cases of this stuff put in place by liberal individuals at universities, I'll be inclined to think most cases are similar to this one.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 09:26 AM | PERMALINK

You fools!

The "Free Market" is a religion. Nothing less than the libertarian utopia is at stake, where everyone is free from oppressive, profit-stealing gubmint interference. No taxes, AT ALL! No rules, AT ALL! The free market should police the street, ensure the food supply, and provide for the common defense!

For example, consider the current taxless, governmentless utopia Iraq.

Or Texas.

Dissent from orthodoxy is heresy! Punishable by labels of "traitor", "Un-American", "America-hater", "Communist" and such.

Posted by: squiddy at June 3, 2003 09:26 AM | PERMALINK

Good post, Kevin.

Sebastian, this is silly:

One thing to understand, the market, as a force doesn't exist. When economists talk about 'the market' the are talking about an economic state where millions of independent actors can make there own decisions about personal valuation of scarce resources as signaled by price. The reason that 'the market' tends to be more efficient than government control is because the millions of different economic actors know the millions of different details that effect their decisions far more intimately than the government. It is all about knowledge, and usually the people in the market have more knowledge than the government could ever gather and analyze.

That may be a nice definition, but that's the whole thing about people who fete "the market" as some sort of diety, it doesn't work that way in the real world.

I could reply with:

"Government" as a force doesn't exist. When politicos talk about 'the government' they are talking about a beaurocratic state where millions of independent and interdependent actors (actually, the whole of society) can make their own decisions and valuations within and outside the beaurocracy. The reason that 'the government' tends to be more efficient than the market is because the millions of private citizens know the issues that effect their communities and locales far more intimately than those with simple market interests. It is all about knowledge, and usually "the people", which is what government is, have more knowledge than the few players in the market could ever gather and analyze.


Now, we all know just because "government" is theoretically the whole of society in a (formerly) liberal democracy, it doesn't actually work that way.

Why are market worshipers incapable of seeing the same falacies in their own ideology?

Millions of people knowing millions of things can describe just about anything you can attach a label to: government, "the market", touch-typists, gays, dudes named Fred...

You say there is no force called market, yet you suggest "the market" is more effiecient than government because it knows more than the government could. If the market is just individuals than it would follow that the government would always know more, wouldn't it? You present government as some sort of large, concerted force, right? Or are you saying the market is individuals working in concert- woudn't that be "a force". Isn't that the definition of concerted effort, i.e., force?

How can you believe in something so strongly that you can't even seem to describe in logical or realistic terms?

Perhaps the ideology makes sense to you, but there's some disconnect when it comes to applying it to the real world?

Sounds familiar.

Posted by: Tim at June 3, 2003 09:45 AM | PERMALINK

Tim, the analogy between government knowledge and the personal knowledge of market actors is vastly different. Lets take a very specific, historically well understood case--farming. Government control of farming has been attempted a huge number of times, and it is almost invariably a failure. It is a failure, because individual farmers know more about their individual farm plots, than the goverment does. I'm not a farmer so I can't begin to outline all of the decisions which must be made to make a successful farm, but they are numberous. They include decisions which take into account such things as soil quality (plot to plot), temperature, periodic rainfall, water quality and access, for some crops harvest times are not easy to predict, etc. etc...

Government control of farming has been attempted repeatedly in many countries and the result tends to be famine.

Farming is not simple, but compared to other areas of the economy, it appears simple.

Market economies send signals in concert, even though individual actors typically do not act in concert. These signals are known as 'prices'. In the long run, prices are not set, they reflect a combination of scarcity and desirability. As prices increase, market actors decide how much they actually need something. As prices increase, many market actors will seek alternative sources or alternative products to fulfill their needs. This leads to efficiency as only those who really need to use an item will pay a high price for it, while those who have alternatives will seek them out depending on price. The market knowledge which makes this process so useful is the knowledge of specific needs which each of the millions of market actors has. An engineer on a specific product will know whether or not a specific component can be replaced with a specific type of material. The government typically will not know this, it will have mandated that a certain material be used, and will continue using that material long after something more efficient has become available.

So it is proper for me to mention the knowledge of millions and millions of individual market actors.

No, it is not proper for you to believe that such knowledge is equally availabe to the government outside of the 'market' process.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian said:

So it is proper for me to mention the knowledge of millions and millions of individual market actors.

My problem with this is that the market tends to value fiscal issues above all else. One example of this is chemical companies being resistant to increased security... I just think there's too many cases of market players valuing their own bottom line above all else, including public safety / long-term public good.

This debate tends to break down at two points, in my experience:


  1. Those who favor the free market tend to believe that innovation is unnecessarily stifled when regulation is in place (at least, this is the most frequent anti-regulation argument I see)

  2. Those who favor regulation tend to believe that the free market doesn't take enough of a long-term view in protecting public safety, the environment, and a whole host of other factors

The question then comes down to whether or not innovation is actually stifled, and if so, how much of that is acceptable to preserve other public interests?

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

The government is digital - voters get to say yes or no, 1 or 0. The free market is analog - by spending bucks, you get to say how much you want whatever it is you want. Government is unitary - society either does something or doesn't. The market is divisible - individuals choose what they do, and don't force others to go along (ignoring the old monopoly problem, which CAN be a problem.)

Seriously, if you don't like what Clear Channel is piping into your country radio, there is a free-market alternative for keeping them from monopolizing the market for music - CD's. Live Music. Cassettes. MP3. Most stations don't play interesting stuff because the folks who like interesting stuff aren't listening to the radio, they are listening to interesting stuff on CD.

No amount of regulation of ownership rules is going to change the fact that the owners, whether big or small, have to play to a lowest-common-denominator mass element to maximize the number of listeners to maximize ad revenues. The alternative is public radio, which is fine if you like Bach, but not so good if your tastes run to the controversial, or college radio, which is uneven in quality and not exactly independent itself.

This doesn't bring up the problem of the failure of the music producers to adjust to reality vis a vis music downloading, et al. Fact remains, a lot of this can be boiled down to "I want to hear interesting music, and I don't want to pay for it." vs. "Selling music in batches, with 10-15 songs per sale, all by the same artist or in the same style was good enough in 1983, by god it is good enough for 2003 as well!"

Posted by: rvman at June 3, 2003 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I decided to post on this vs. posting a huge reply here.

http://www.steveverdon.com/archives/000075.html

Tim,

Sebastian is right, and you are wrong. I know my own prefernces better than the government can because they cannot read my mind. If this were not true we wouldn't have problems with adverse selection, moral hazard, and the principle-agent problems (just to name some).

Sebastian's point doesn't mean the market is perfect, but it means it is typically better than the government at allocating resources. Even a cursory glance at the literature on using voting mechanisms as a means of allocating resources would re-enforce such a view.


You say there is no force called market, yet you suggest "the market" is more effiecient than government because it knows more than the government could.

Talk about logical fallacies, have you heard of the fallacy of composition. By the way this is not Sebastian's claim, but yours (i.e., a straw man fallacy). Sebastian's claim was that the actors in the economy have information the government does not and hence can make better decisions. Your claim is that this somehow makes the market more knowledgable, which is not possible since the market is actually not a distinct entity according to Sebastian.

Also, is it shocking that people with more information make better decisions? No, ask George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winning economists for work in information economics). Having less information results in a sub-optimal outcome...thus the converse is....?

If the market is just individuals than it would follow that the government would always know more, wouldn't it?

Why?

1. Government is comprised ultimately of people who are limited in their ability to absorb and process information
2. Government cannot observe all the pertinent information for making optimal decisions (i.e. does the government know exactly who is genetically predisposed towards what diseases? No.)

Posted by: Steve at June 3, 2003 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Tim, that's a good point. What is a market? It's not really a tangible thing, it's a description of an overall system where individual agents interact, usually based on self-interest, but their motives really could be anything, without undue interference by other agents or ignorance.

What's been interesting in the past few years is how much Adam Smith has a kindred spirit to some of the emergence theory coming out of complexity studies. To advocate a free market, per se, you advocate ultimately freedom to act as a motivated agent. Slavery would be the ultimate violation of a free market, if not murder.

A political free market, for instance, is not far from a picture as described by Hobbes, and with various concessions embodied in our Constitution. The individual agents give up some sovereignty in their self-interest, and end up with a government that works in their best interest.

An economic free market is described in a purist sense as one free of undue interference on individual agents acting in their interest; in our case in America, where we have a political free market, or distorted one, we have a tension between the political free market as constituted and the economic free market as realized, each free market full of disortions from the purist vision.

Ultimately, a free market is just that, individual agents free to pursue their motivation without undue influence. This conception is not far from our theory of political rights, and does not disallow checking the interest of one agent who may "harm" or tread on one or a number of other agents' interests. So we have monopoly rules for instance, to check against an interest which may impose itself "unfairly" by an uneven embodiment of greater power.

There is much interpretation to be made in here. The first I always notice is actually against exceedingly powerful collectives, or power interests, in favor of a more grass roots, individual agent orientation. As human beings, I think we can all agree on this, unless I'm already one of those who can "lord" over other agents. A Lord of the Flies so to speak.

The other main interpretaion is more fine, and subtle, and is in determining "harm" and other cases where individual agents should be checked in order to assure the free behavior of one or a group of other agents. Here, arguments of utilitarianism and pragmatism may come in, in deciding on ends, or arguments against judging by ends, and the state being "activist" in ensuring greater overall justice.

Of course, if one sees the state, at least in democratic constitutional instances, as a free market reality itself, with individual agents lending it legitimacy as part of their self-interest, then it is only another level of indirection for this same meta-agent, the state, to decide that it may be in its best self-interest, and by extension in the self interest of all of the individual agents it represents, to ensure greater equality, or justice, for the purposes of protecting the very conditions of freedom, in protecting against security problems which may arise, or future transgressions that may arise from the inequal conditions against agents' interests.

This is where we are today, though much of the essential of the "great debate" are skewed. Essentially, read "free market" as "freedom", with a primary orientation towards individual agents, and accretiating meta-agents which are formed along the way as collectives, including that state.

This makes it very easy to see that allegiance and loyalty to America is not to the existence of the nation-state itself as an identity, but to our values and choices that have legitimized our great nation as our collective embodiment of freedom.

Posted by: freelixir at June 3, 2003 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

rvman said:

Seriously, if you don't like what Clear Channel is piping into your country radio, there is a free-market alternative for keeping them from monopolizing the market for music - CD's. Live Music. Cassettes. MP3. Most stations don't play interesting stuff because the folks who like interesting stuff aren't listening to the radio, they are listening to interesting stuff on CD.

How can I get local news on CD? How can I listen to high school and college sports games on CD? How can I get local-interest talk shows on CD? These are the things that de-regulation has destroyed, along with playlist variation, and, ultimately, are the real loss in this system.

And he also said:

The alternative is public radio, which is fine if you like Bach, but not so good if your tastes run to the controversial, or college radio, which is uneven in quality and not exactly independent itself.

While it may be true that public radio in your area only broadcasts classical music, that's not true of all public radio and it's unfair to shoehorn the whole system into that box.

and finally:

I want to hear interesting music, and I don't want to pay for it.

You're right - I don't want to pay for music until I've had a chance to hear it. Not every musician comes to DC on tour, much less small towns.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Also, I don't see any great nostalgia for older media. It's irrelevant. The bottom-line is that we are experiencing an explosion of media almost unimaginable a century ago. This has happened while the current rules undone yesterday by the FCC have been in place.

So what is the reason for the FCC's action? It can't be about the debate over whether regulation of the media should happen at all, because that is not their mandate to act, in "economic" interest.

Their mandate to act is in the "public" interest, in regards to the public airwaves, and thus they must justify their act, not somehow misdirect us from their actions to the underlying debates over whether we need media regulation.

Everyone keeps seeming to miss this. The FCC acted, and that is what is up for review. They have harmed this nation by ignoring their sponsors and shrugging off their mandate. For "special" interests.

Remember, the media is not broken right now. If it is, it's broken in a monopoly way, which would not logically lead to the FCC's behavior anyway. The same people who defended the FCC's action have been calling bogeyman when people say there is threat of media monopoly. The FCC defenders have been saying we have a thriving media, with many choices, and monopoly is not a fear now, or later.

If so, then why does the FCC need to take action? In whose interest?

Posted by: freelixir at June 3, 2003 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I just want to be really clear. The 'market' as a force does not exist. The 'market' as an entity does not exist. We talk about the 'market' as shorthand for talking about a system of personal decision making in which scarcity of resources and personal valuation of goods interact via pricing signals.

When the market 'decides' to 'punish' a company there isn't an entity which is decreeing that something bad has occurred. What happens is that a company becomes reliant on an inefficient good, service, process or material and cheaper alternatives become available. In a free market, people will tend to abandon the inefficient company because its prices will be higher than an efficient company.

The government does not quickly react to changes in efficiency because it is not particularly price sensitive when it can force people to pay for its inefficiency. Non-monopoly companies can't force you to pay the way the government can.

You might be able to argue that the market represents a limited 'emergent intelligence' based on the individual connections and decision-making of its component parts, but I do not make that argument, and I am not relying on it.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Tim, I don't think you're being fair to Sebastian. He's just making the simple point that "the market" consists in millions of people making individual decisions. The government--while it might be nice to think of it as "the people"--in fact consists of a relatively limited number of actors making decisions that affect large numbers of people.

The notion that large numbers of "dumb"--by which I mean "having limited information"--bits can act, in aggregate, more intelligently than one or a few central "smart" bits is not unique to capitalism. The idea pops up in slightly different forms in parallel computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary theory. After all, evolution consists in millions of tiny, accidental mutations that, through the inexorable force of natural selection, cause a species to stumble towards adaptation. It's often thought that a central thinker could design, for instance, a better heart, but the point is, in aggregate, in the long term, distributing the decision-making works out better.

Now, this leaves open the question of whether corporations distort markets, and so forth. I'm no libertarian and I completely agree with Calpundit's post. But Sebastian was making a valid point--indeed, the central and only real defense of markets, and to me, the only explanation for their huge successes relative to planned economies--not some esoteric religious gloss.

Posted by: Realish at June 3, 2003 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Good god--I missed about 10 comments while I was writing! Who can keep up?

Posted by: Realish at June 3, 2003 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Andy,

Sorry, Shalala caved after FIRE became involved in her university's attempt to censor conservative opinion so technically she is no longer censoring anyone. The problem is, she has a track record of favoring censorship policies that goes back to her days at Wisconsin with that university's infamous speech code.
http://www.thefire.org/pr.php?doc=um_050803.inc

Posted by: mark safranski at June 3, 2003 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian, In the UK there is a big change in the pension market from actuarially managed defined benefit pension funds to effectively self managed funds. The old sort used to pay a lot of attention to mortality tables and interest rates. The vast majority of those succeeding them will have no effective knowledge of either and won't no whether their decisions have worked until it is too late to anything about them. Has the knowledge applied to investment increased?

Posted by: Jack at June 3, 2003 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes, FIRE. A fantastic organization in support of free speech as long as you're a WASP conservative.

Posted by: John Yuda at June 3, 2003 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

>>The problem is, she has a track record of favoring censorship policies that goes back to her days at Wisconsin with that university's infamous speech code.

oh I see - and here I thought that you were talking about "RIGHT NOW" as you asserted in your post. Silly me... even sillier to assume that the point will be retracted, I suppose in the right wing world 11 years ago is the equivilent to "RIGHT NOW" - even when the assertion was made in the same post where one is chiding another poster for bringing up "dated" history - as least that poster didn't assert that the Hays Office was operating "RIGHT NOW", did he?

The hypocrisy and shamelessness of the right continues unabated.

Posted by: Andy at June 3, 2003 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

The pension question is fascinating. You should realize that actuaries work on the basis of population statistics. An individual can and should know far more about the intimate portions of his life that could affect how long he lives. Also, individuals tend to over-estimate their chances of living a long life. That kind of misperception may actually be good in a pension system.

Also, the pension market in the UK isn't going truly unregulated by a long shot so I wouldn't get too worked up over it.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin's critique of the free market, but I think there is a real danger in thinking that this is something that can simply be "corrected". Like a piano that needs fine-tuning every once in a while. The fact is that there are systematic tendencies towards greater and greater inequality. Capitalism is, in one sense, a mechanism for the concentration of wealth. There is no shortage of statistics to show this.

Now, liberals will usually argue that this doesn't matter as long as the income of those at the bottom is rising as well - but there is evidence that this is not the case. That is, inequality itself is a problem for poor people, no matter how 'wealthy' they might be. This is why, according to noble prize winning economist, Amartya Sen, poor African American men have a lower life expectancy than that of men who are in pure economic turns, much poorer in China or India.

http://makeashorterlink.com/?V62C16BC4

What we need is not just top-down regulation to ensure that the market runs like a well tuned piano - we need to empower those people at the bottom who are continually getting the short end of the stick!

Posted by: Kerim Friedman at June 3, 2003 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, in light of my comments about the 'market' I should mention that 'restraining the market' is really shorthand for keeping people from making the choices that they believe are in their best interest and which they believe are based on their own understanding of the individual factors which go into that decision.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't ever restrain the market. I'm just saying that we need to be aware or what we are doing, and have a very good reason for doing so.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Firstly, what I'm saying is those that worship at the "free market" altar usually imply the following:

Government is one, hierachical body and nothing more.

Government consists only of people within that hierarchical system removed from everything outside of it.

(See Steve: 1. Government is comprised ultimately of people who are limited in their ability to absorb and process information
2. Government cannot observe all the pertinent information for making optimal decisions (i.e. does the government know exactly who is genetically predisposed towards what diseases? No.)

And both are false, of course. There are governments all the way from city councils and community councils to the Senate, theoretically they are often manned by private citizens and not just career politicians, and government is inherently more theoretically malleable than any private enterprise (a private or public enterprise cannot pursue anything outside of profitability as they only exist only to make money, non-profits notwithstanding, but they're still all limited by revenue. A government has the power of taxation to pursue whatever it is allowed to pursue and the entire population of the nation is theoretically able to effect it.).

That is not to say I'm advocating anything, because I'm not, so don't bother to tell me I'm calling for state-run agriculture (a stupid example anyway, I'll get to it later). I'm just deconstructing the tired old argument that keeps getting passed around as common wisdom.


Second- The "there is no market" argument is just a way to sell lassiez-faire economics, and many of you buy into it even if you're not government-paranoid.

He's just making the simple point that "the market" consists in millions of people making individual decisions. The government--while it might be nice to think of it as "the people"--in fact consists of a relatively limited number of actors making decisions that affect large numbers of people.

See, that's not true, that's not what he's saying. If the definition of "the market" is simply commerce, then we're not talking about regulation vs. no regulation vs. government run, which is more efficient, etc. "The market", as Sebastian is selling it and as conservatives sell it and as the term is often used (another term for "the invisible hand"), is a made-up thing used to promote lassiez-faire capitalism.

Supply, demand; buying and selling; contracts and agreements; imports and exports, etc., that's commerce, and no, it does not constitute any kind of "force" (nor does it include finance or the exchanges).

But what is being advocated when one argues "the market" is necessarily efficient...

I just want to be really clear. The 'market' as a force does not exist. The 'market' as an entity does not exist. We talk about the 'market' as shorthand for talking about a system of personal decision making in which scarcity of resources and personal valuation of goods interact via pricing signals.

When the market 'decides' to 'punish' a company there isn't an entity which is decreeing that something bad has occurred. What happens is that a company becomes reliant on an inefficient good, service, process or material and cheaper alternatives become available. In a free market, people will tend to abandon the inefficient company because its prices will be higher than an efficient company.

...is that it is essentially unerring. This is an argument for the essential infallibility of lassiez-faire capitalism.

If "the market" is simply the gestalt phenomenon of millions of people making personal decisions based upon simple economic choices, then of course this would be quite relevent:

The idea pops up in slightly different forms in parallel computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary theory. After all, evolution consists in millions of tiny, accidental mutations that, through the inexorable force of natural selection, cause a species to stumble towards adaptation.

But, of course the market is not random, of course it is not binary (and neither is the government). It's ridiculous to argue that, in real-world terms, "the market" isn't much more than humans acting as computer switches, turning on and off in the most logical manner to produce as efficiently as possible. Nor is it any less silly to suggest every one of these players is subject to all the various forces that play within the market- like supply and demand, customer satisfaction, pricing, etc. Is that what Sebastian is suggesting, and Steve roundly supporting?

BTW, in light of my comments about the 'market' I should mention that 'restraining the market' is really shorthand for keeping people from making the choices that they believe are in their best interest and which they believe are based on their own understanding of the individual factors which go into that decision.

I dunno. Little bit?

The question at hand is economic inequality and all that entails. Kevin's post was spot-on, there is nothing natural or random, or cosmically-dictated about commerce or "the market". It is a creation of man, playing by man's rules. It was created and is maintained for one purpose and one purpose only- to make money.

Money has been made by supplying needed goods and services, by creating goods and services that have become needed, and by creating demand for goods and services not needed. It's a dumb lie to suggest our economy is the simple product of individuals supplying demand, and all the products and services extant today are the result of nothing more than "the market" doing its thing. That is, nothing in "the market" is a product of anything other than "market" forces.

It would be just as stupid to suggest everything about the government is nothing more than the product of public consensus.

The food example is a terrible one, and everyone ought to stop using it. If not for government "The Jungle" would probably read like contemporary non-fiction. If not for government there would be far fewer farmers in this country, "the market" choosing to go abroad for food. There would be no inspections, no standards, nothing.

[accurate straw-man time] Now is about the time Steve or Sebastian would start crafting their, "consumers would pick the food of the highest quality and producers of sub-standard food would die out as more efficient, high-quality producers took their place..." reply. To which I would first point out that still doesn't acount for any system of standards or accountability outside of the producers themselves, it relies upon national-media making it a crusade, and that this country had plenty of years operating under few regulations and no such thing happened.

These "what the market would do" arguments (there have been many here at Calpundit) are nothing but a bunch of would, would, woulds. They are never did, did, dids because they're all just theory.

This is my point, once one starts to talk about "the market" as the simple phenomenon of everyone making simple economic decisions that inherently create maximum efficiency- and efficieny is the key to... I dunno, blis?... they're not describing commerce, they're advocating lassiez-faire capitalism, because commerce does not resemble that definition.


I'm deconstructing Sebastian's comments because he's advocating theory as truth disguised as mere observation, and that's what every free market ideologue has become so good at doing.

In terms of society, inequality, ethics and morality, simple observation would tell anyone looking on dispassionately that capitalism cannot be allowed to run completely free of regulation because capitalism is engineered only to make money, not address the ethical, moral, spiritual, psychological, and physical needs of a society. For chrissakes it's engineered to exploit those needs! (Adam Smith isn't even relevent, he argued for a sort of enlightened capitalism in which money was only a means to an end of larger goal)

So, if Sebastian is arguing the free market it inherently more effecient at increasing profitability via efficiency or otherwise, and as far as simple production of consumables go, usually will do so better than any government, then I whole-heartedly agree with him. If he's arguing that market-driven efficiency is the key to addressing societal problems, then he deserves to get his arguments ripped apart.

He, and it seems every other person who unthinkingly screams "free market" whenever the ills of society are discussed, are promoting a text-book theory as, #1- observable fact, #2- a natural phenomenon; all the while suggesting it's purpose and aim is not to make money, but rather it must needs save society.

Bullshit.

Posted by: Tim at June 3, 2003 04:01 PM | PERMALINK

Like many people who don't understand why markets are good, Tim, you confuse intentions with results (though only in such a way as to benefit government control of individual decision making).


I never said that the market creates maximum efficiency for EVERYTHING as you seem to imply. It tends to maximize efficiency with respect to the wants and needs of individual actors in the economy. It also tends to reduce the use of scarce materials while maximizing the use of plentiful materials.

The problem is one of information. People have more information about themselves than they do about other people. A market harnesses the information that people have about themselves and their own circumstances. Governments don't harness that information nearly as well.

I have never argued that the market can take care of EVERYTHING. But I definitely argue that many of the things that leftists want to control, are better off with market choices--especially medical care.

I don't understand your point about created demand. So what?

Your Adam Smith point is cryptic. Have I argued that money is good in and of itself, or have I argued that prices are a symbol by which scarcity and valuation are communicated? I think I argued the latter.

It is fascinating that you decry freedom in buying in selling as unable to 'address the ethical, moral, spiritual, psychological, and physical needs of a society' while you simultaneously want to focus on control of buying and selling to somehow fulfill those needs. Are you some sort of fundamentalist that you want to control everything for your vision of morality?

Also you forgot to deal with agriculture, which you claim is a horrible analogy.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 04:29 PM | PERMALINK

#1- I understand perfectly why markets are good Sebastian.

#2- Agriculture. I did address it.

#3- Adam Smith. I'm not replying to just you.

#4- demand is created. Partly that has to do with the fact that the market wastes and produces worthless crap up the ying yang. What do you think landfills are full of? The marketplace is only efficient in the very narrow sense of individual sector efficiency geared towards maximum profitability. So, the "worthless crap" market might get real efficient at producing cheap crap, but it's asinine to say that everything made is needed or makes any economic sense to the consumer or otherwise. It may also mean vast amounts of waste. Efficiency toward profitability can be very, very wastefull of resources.

#5- It tends to maximize efficiency with respect to the wants and needs of individual actors in the economy. It also tends to reduce the use of scarce materials while maximizing the use of plentiful materials.

The problem is one of information. People have more information about themselves than they do about other people. A market harnesses the information that people have about themselves and their own circumstances.

That's text-book fru-fru and is the whole point of my post, which I don't think you read very well. All of that can be true in narrow contexts, but you, yes you do, apply it to some huge, undefinable thing. It's ideology to extend it beyond any particular context or say that capitalism works that way- because it doesn't.

#6- It is fascinating that you decry freedom in buying in selling as unable to 'address the ethical, moral, spiritual, psychological, and physical needs of a society' while you simultaneously want to focus on control of buying and selling to somehow fulfill those needs. Are you some sort of fundamentalist that you want to control everything for your vision of morality?

I didn't advocate anything remotely like what you describe. Way to go with turning my argument into some indefensible leftist ultimatum. Bravo. Maybe I did that a little with your comments, but gee, you seem to put forth the same damn text-book "don't work that way in the real world" argument every time, so please forgive me. Moi, on the other hand, have never advocated for government the way you keep suggesting I have.

Kevin's post was about inequity. You pipe in with "the free market can only be more efficient because it's simply people addressing their needs, that they know the most about, in the most efficient way". So how am I out of line thinking that you're arguing the free market is the cure for societal ills?

My position, just to be clear so you don't have to place idiotic beliefs upon me, is that capitalism should be allowed to run free within regulations designed to protect the public good, like a clean environment, personal health, safety, etc. Basically the system we have now, but with a few changes. I know, from being alive more than 5 minutes, that capitalism is nothing but making money and it can be used for very ill gains. The nature of business and commerce makes it impossible for "the public" to exert influence over most capitalist interests, and it's asinine to suggest that capitalist concerns are always subject to people. The government is the only body that can exert pressure or force upon all capitalist concerns, so therefore it is the only logical choice when it comes to addressing something harmful to the public good. A brief look at history before the New Deal legislations would show you that there's nothign particularly efficient about capitalism left alone. Kevin is right, government makes capitalism better.

I don't understand why you need to suggest I advocate "control" in the name of morality simply because I state capitalism is not concerned with morality. It's a simple fact and I think it's evidence of your deeply embedded ideology that you turn every one of these questions of inequality into some sort of binary issue.

You spout the same text-book pablum out as observable, demostrable fact; it's not and I'm calling you on it.

The market doesn't work the way you describe it, it never has, and it's a tired argument.

Again- the topic was inequality, so if you were just taking the opportunity to advocate a free market for no other reason, it's your own fault I assumed it was related to the topic.

Posted by: Tim at June 3, 2003 05:24 PM | PERMALINK

A but your idealogy forces you to label the distribution of income as 'inequality' because you want to make it sound unfair. That is a pretty semantic game, but I don't have to accept it.

You have turned my argument about how people can make decisions in a free market society into some sort of religion. You even accuse me of worshiping the market as a 'diety' even though I have specifically stated that the market is merely a description have how people excercise free choice. What is that all about?

Calling my description of the market 'text book fru fru' isn't exactly helping me understand what is wrong with the description. Could you clarify?

Your response beginning with 'demand is created' shows that my fundamentalist description was not entirely off mark. You refer to the 'worthless crap market', but you fail to understand that it is worthless IN YOUR ESTIMATION. Other people make their own choices about how their needs and wants can be fulfilled, but because you feel the need to condemn them and their choices. I wonder what you think about personal choice in the context of abortion.

It is difficult for me to accept phrases like "that capitalism should be allowed to run free within regulations designed to protect the public good, like a clean environment, personal health, safety, etc. Basically the system we have now, but with a few changes." because you resist all explanation about why the market system works at all. How can I trust people like you to deal with regulating the market, when you don't seem to have the slightest understanding about the why it is ever advantageous. If you can't understand why something is good, how can I trust you to exercise good judgment about how to keep its good qualities available to society? To put it another way, what is it about your understanding of economics which would keep you from a command economy. I haven't seen a single word from you above that indicates that you understand what is bad about government control. If you can't understand why government control is SOMETIMES bad, why should I trust you to know how much government control would stifle our amazingly successful economy?

The public can extert power over capitalist enterprises quite easily. Corporations can't force you to deal with them. The government can force you to deal with it.

The problem of inequality is trivial compared to the fact that our economic system has made it so that even poor people can be fat with food, have a car, a television, shelter, and clothing. I would be willing to talk about the distribution of income with people who evidence understanding about how the nation got to be so bountiful. I would love to talk to Jane Galt about useful strategies to keep corporate executives from looting corporations. But as for you, it would seem foolish to trust you or people like you to tinker with a system which for which you have expressed an abiding contempt, through hundreds of words here and also at your own site (http://www.lemmesplain.blogspot.com/).

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 05:57 PM | PERMALINK

Oops not a very cute sentence fragment.

Should read: Other people make their own choices about how their needs and wants can be fulfilled, but you feel the need to condemn them and their choices.

I had partially edited the sentence but clearly didn't excise all the useless words. Sorry.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 3, 2003 05:59 PM | PERMALINK

Adam Smith isn't even relevent, he argued for a sort of enlightened capitalism in which money was only a means to an end of larger goal

I'm assuming this was addressed to me. This debate is going beyond the philosophical sense I'm trying to take, but my use of Adam Smith is relevant to what I'm saying (though in looking back at it I really didn't explain it other than drop the reference).

I'm aware that Adam Smith advocated an "enlightened" form of free market. I'm doing the same. And I don't think I mention money, or profit, once in my whole spiel.

I merely equated free market with freedom, with free market being a "description" of a system characterized by decisions of motivated individual agents, and that this term can be used to account for various "lenses" at modeling the world, and power relations, whether this would be economic, political, spiritual, etc.

Remember, not even to act in one's own self-interest is necessary to have a system which can be described as a free market. Only that individual agents act with intention for one reason or another. The classic description wears a view of human nature and science in which humans act in their self-interest.

When this system becomes exceedingly about money, and power, distortions and inequalities are sure to surface. It's not easy to tell if this isn't actually inevitable, at least to some degree.

The constant demonization of the state, or description of it as inefficient, however, which in our case is a democratic republic, in which the people are sovereign, and the state itself is a meta-agent made up of consenting individual agents, thus constituting a manifestation of a political free market, less than hits the mark.

As Tim noted, political decisions and choices happen through the spectrum of society, from individual and family relations to the highest halls of government, and it is only undue impediments in this political free market, and/or severe gaps in information resulting from secrecy and deceit, that render the realization of this market "inefficient".

The free market can describe an existing system with different "lenses". By focusing on commerce and exchange, one encounters the vision of economics, and its various branches from laissez-faire capitalism, to state capitalism, to socialism.

By focusing on a larger picture than this, on power relations and controversial areas of life such as the commons, violence, and the "just", we encounter the vision of politics.

However you choose to frame your analysis of the world, you can adopt the use of "free market" thinking, and use it as an analysis of the relative freedom of the individual agents in any system through that frame. You selectively decide to focus on particular values, or actions, over others. It's a tool for modeling the world, and determining the "just" if freedom is considered an ultimate value.

Posted by: freelixir at June 3, 2003 08:05 PM | PERMALINK

For those of you interested, I have collected my thoughts over at Catallarchy.net.

In short, Kevin's interventionism is warmed over economics from the 30s and 40s, that was handled deftly by Hayek and Mises 54 years ago.

Posted by: Brian at June 3, 2003 08:07 PM | PERMALINK

Realish writes: The notion that large numbers of "dumb"--by which I mean "having limited information"--bits can act, in aggregate, more intelligently than one or a few central "smart" bits is not unique to capitalism. The idea pops up in slightly different forms in parallel computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary theory.

If you've ever spent any time studying distributed algorithms, you know that it is actually exceedingly tricky to design nontrivial systems that exhibit acceptable correctness, stability, and optimality using independent actors with limited local information and no central coordinating authority.

Then add in finite local computational resources, huge and systematic asymmetries of information, and rapidly evolving behavior (people absorb ideas about how to behave from the people around them---even when those behaviors are stale or unvalidated, hence overproduction crises and stock market fads). Now the purely distributed market, as a decision-making system, looks like it could easily be subject to getting trapped in local maxima, or to fluctuating wildly based on damaging positive feedback cycles, or to downwardly spiraling Prisoner's Dilemma catch-22's.

When people regard the market as a kind of Darwinism, they forget that there's more kinds of Darwinism besides the evolution of animals. Darwinism is simply the tautology that what survives, survives. The result of that process differs wildly in character based on the dynamics of the system. The proper analogy for the market may be not animal evolution, but the weather. Sure, in the long run, climate is highly regular, but periodically a hurricane storms through and wrecks everything, and a butterfly in China can knock down buildings in Florida.

So what, exactly, makes you think the dynamics of laissez-faire markets will lead to optimal resource allocation? The statement "independent, locally greedy actors always beats global planning" is simply stupid; it's trivial to devise mathematical models for which this isn't the case.

And, finally, even if markets do lead to more efficient allocation, are the resulting sacrifices in equality and stability worth the extra epsilon of efficiency that such a system might wring from the economy, when compared with a modern liberal democracy plus a welfare state?

Posted by: laughable at June 4, 2003 01:05 AM | PERMALINK

The problem of inequality is trivial compared to the fact that our economic system has made it so that even poor people can be fat with food, have a car, a television, shelter, and clothing.

Oh, give me a break. I suppose you think that the robber barons willingly showered this prosperity on the working class, rather than being dragged kicking and screaming by laws protecting organized labor and workers' rights? Or that the American techno-industrial juggernaut reached its present pre-eminence because of the vision of plucky small entrepeneurs, and not the organization and muscle of the federal government?

The United States is a mixed economy, and the high American quality of life owes much to market intervention. Globally, the market interventionist welfare states of Western Europe and Scandinavia have a higher quality of life and per capita income than any others besides America. Would you rather live in Great Britain or Chile? Germany or Kazakhstan? It's simply moronic to point to the prosperity of the West as evidence for the viability of libertarianism.

Posted by: laughable at June 4, 2003 01:18 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent posts, "laughable" but I prefer the term "local minima" to "local maxima" (even thought it's just a re-labling of the axis) because it gives you the perfect visual of being stuck in a hole!! ;>

And sometimes the gummint needs to kick us out of the minima so that the free market can continue down towards a lower-potential (cost) state. A good example is how cheap US pump prices have basically driven all serious development of motive power off-shore. Private companies (Honda,Toyota,Bosch,Siemens) are doing the work on hybrid and compression-engine technology, the governments just gave the whole thing a kick with consumption taxes.

I've said before that European transportation systems and (sorry, Sebastian) UHC are what keeps them way closer to the US in total output despite their high taxes and labor "rigidities." (and let's not even get into the ECB's tight money...)

To change the topic, is anybody else wondering why perfectly-informed actor Phil wants to spend TWO extra unpaid hours each week communting? Sticking with a 40 hour week, he's basically foregoing the equivalent of a 5% raise, a pretty good chunk in these times. Or to put it another way, he gives "The Man" 8 unpaid hours every 4 weeks, or about a dozen extra days off a year !!! (depending on how many weeks of vacation he currently gets, YMMV). Jeebus.

Posted by: a different chris at June 4, 2003 09:28 AM | PERMALINK

>>And, finally, even if markets do lead to more efficient allocation, are the resulting sacrifices in equality and stability

Posted by: Lazarus at June 4, 2003 09:31 AM | PERMALINK

And both are false, of course. There are governments all the way from city councils and community councils to the Senate, theoretically they are often manned by private citizens and not just career politicians, and government is inherently more theoretically malleable than any private enterprise (a private or public enterprise cannot pursue anything outside of profitability as they only exist only to make money, non-profits notwithstanding, but they're still all limited by revenue. A government has the power of taxation to pursue whatever it is allowed to pursue and the entire population of the nation is theoretically able to effect it.).

What a load of rubbish. It is obvious that government at all levels face informational constraints that individuals do not. (By the way, Tim, if you think about that statement it is NOT saying that individuals have perfect information).

Government does not know my preference ordering (to use economic lingo), or in layman's terms they don't know what I want. They also don't know information about me personally on many levels; whereas I do have that information. I know my medical history much more intitmately than any bureaucrat out there. Granted they might be able to get their hands on much of it...but guess what that process costs resources.

Claiming my 2 points are false is just a load of wishful thinking compounded by nonsensical rhetoric.

[accurate straw-man time] Now is about the time Steve or Sebastian would start crafting their, "consumers would pick the food of the highest quality and producers of sub-standard food would die out as more efficient, high-quality producers took their place..." reply. To which I would first point out that still doesn't acount for any system of standards or accountability outside of the producers themselves, it relies upon national-media making it a crusade, and that this country had plenty of years operating under few regulations and no such thing happened.

Wrong strawman in my case. Why don't you stop being such a presumptive arrogant jackass?

The problem you highlight is one of imperfect information. That is the firm's know about their production process while the consumer does not. Hence it is not automatic that people are going to be selecting the "highest quaility food products". However, it is far from clear that decreeing standards and regulations is going to solve the problem.

One problem that is immediate is that standards and regulations can pose a barrier to entry into a market, which ironically gets to Kevin's first point about monopolies. Markets do not spontaneously result in monopolies. If this claim were true we'd see more monopolies, and more anti-trust litigation. Since we have observed neither this notion is flat out wrong.

Barriers to entry though can move a market closer to the monopoly outcome. That is result in fewer firms which could quite possibly lead to price increases, economic profits for the firms, and loss of efficiency.

I'm all in favor of the government reducing problems with imperfect information. For example I think it is great that the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes all of its data available for "free" (free as in you don't have to pay for it a second time...first with taxes then later with a seperate fee). Similarly for the Bureau of Economic Analysis. I think this is one thing the government can and should do. Help make information easier to obtain.

In terms of society, inequality, ethics and morality, simple observation would tell anyone looking on dispassionately that capitalism cannot be allowed to run completely free of regulation because capitalism is engineered only to make money, not address the ethical, moral, spiritual, psychological, and physical needs of a society. For chrissakes it's engineered to exploit those needs! (Adam Smith isn't even relevent, he argued for a sort of enlightened capitalism in which money was only a means to an end of larger goal)

Another strawman for Tim King of Illogic. Where have I said that there is no role for government? Answer: nowhere. So next time you decide to put words in my mouth perhaps you should do a modicum of checking to make sure you are on solid ground instead of some vapid fantasy you are having.

Yes, the market screws up. Economic theory says there are ways to solve these problems. Problem is Tim, these solutions are just as much theory as the theory spouted by the "free market types" (by the way Tim, I rarely use the term "free market"). So your complaint about the free market ideologues is also a complaint against you.

I agree with Kevin's overall point. Sometimes the government has to step in. However, this should be done very, very carefully and with considerable thought. But this is not how government typically operates. Government is run mainly by politicians who do things to get re-elected and by bureaucrats who can't be fired or punished in any meaningful manner. So the solutions are usually half-baked.

The idea that interventions are typically good makes things better is pure crap. Look at the California energy crisis. Price caps were removed in the wholesale market and a bad situation went to complete shit in a few months. Who removed the price caps? Not the suppliers. Not the consumers. Go ahead guess.

Now, on the flip side, eventually government intervened again (to fix its earlier fuck up) and managed to do something right (soft price caps that depended on the least efficient [i.e., most costly] producer). Once that policy was in place the high prices plummeted.

The obvious solution for the state government was to remove the retail rate cap, but this was seen by Davis as politically bad so he didn't do it; even though he knew it would help solve the problem. By the way, I supose you don't see how it could help, so I'll explain it to you, Tim. Removing the price cap would have introduced a demand response from the final consumers thus constrainng the price setting power of the generators. This would have brought prices down and limited the damage that was done. Instead the retail rate freeze was kept in place thus making the demand curve inelastic (unresponsive to price since the final consumer saw a price that was lower than the price in the wholesale market) allowing the generators to drive prices as high as $1,600 a MW in some hours (by the way for the typical residential consumer in CA that translates into an $800 monthly bill if the price remained that high in all hours, instead consumers saw their typical $50-$60 bills...so why cut back?).

And let me flagellate this horse caracass a bit more. Who designed the "deregulated" market in CA? Answer: Industry and Government and Consumer Groups. Guess what, this product of intervention was a nightmare. It was bad from the get go (check out some of Paul Joskow's work on this). You know what was one stupid blunder early on? There were no simulations of the market design. In fact, such an idea was proposed and shot down. Now maybe simulations wouldn't have caught the problems...but maybe they would have. This "designed" market was seriously screwed up to start with. It handed market power to the generators on a silver platter.

Anyways, I'm done in this thread. I know I am not going to convince you that intervention is more often bad than good. You have managed to develop quite a little house of straw with your "deconstructing", and next time try reading and responding to what people write...not what you think they have written.

For my final point, I think there is a role for government and intervention. The problem is that there is a total lack of appreciation for unintended consequences, the complexity of many [most] markets, the vast amounts of information necessary for making good decisions, and the nature of governmet itself.

Posted by: Steve at June 4, 2003 09:40 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian,

I don't care what you think of me or if you trust me or anything else. I don't need to show you, tell you, explain to you anything outside of what's needed to continue any one particular debate.

but your idealogy forces you to label the distribution of income as 'inequality' because you want to make it sound unfair. That is a pretty semantic game, but I don't have to accept it.

I didn't do this. Stop putting words in my mouth. You're not a very honest debator, you know that?

Allow me to explain, plainly, again:

Kevin's post was about inequality. You pipe in with the same tired crap you always do. I assume you're addressing the subject of inequality and advocating the idea that inequality is not a problem in, or can be fixed by, lassiez-faire economics. So, I argued you were mistaken. If you weren't doing this then I don't understand why you had to pipe in at all.

But as for you, it would seem foolish to trust you or people like you to tinker with a system which for which you have expressed an abiding contempt, through hundreds of words here and also at your own site (http://www.lemmesplain.blogspot.com/).

Thanks for the plug.

But, "trust people like me"? Your juxtposition suggests you are somehow embroiled in the decision-making that goes into shaping the markets, i.e., who are you to be dispensing trust? And what's more, who are "people like me"?

And, you see, I do not have unbridled contempt for commerce or industry or the exchanges or anything like that (I'm a licensed broker, for chrissakes), I have no patience for ideologues such as yourself. You need to internalize my arguments more. They're not directed at "free markets", they're directed at you.

I have no patience for you because, #1, everything you say is so woefully predictable it really doesn't surprise me you've read every NRO cover to cover for the last decade, and #2, you're an intellectually dishonest debator. Those arguments you don't run away from you don't argue honestly:

If you can't understand why government control is SOMETIMES bad, why should I trust you to know how much government control would stifle our amazingly successful economy?

(again, that bizarre "trust" thing) What would make you think I don't understand government control can be a bad thing? Have I been praising the former Soviet Union. Have I held up government cheese as the finest cheese ever produced? Your views on the free market have never been subtle, not in these forums, they've been essentially binary. While the only reason you might have to think I'm some sort of communist is the fact that I haven't explained all of my beliefs in detail (omission), you have seemingly advocated lassiez-faire economics every chance you're gotten.

So, again, pardon me for assuming in a thread discussing inequality you were advocating the same thing you seem to advocate every time the topic comes up.

You refer to the 'worthless crap market', but you fail to understand that it is worthless IN YOUR ESTIMATION. Other people make their own choices about how their needs and wants can be fulfilled, but because you feel the need to condemn them and their choices. I wonder what you think about personal choice in the context of abortion.

Are you a machine? Do you speak in binary or something? Or do you just have a complete lack of imagination? The point (good lord, maybe you're just not very bright) was your free market theory does not account for things like waste = profitability, or people making decisions that make absolutely no economic sense. I am fully aware that a chia pet, though crap to me, makes a perfect gift for others. Pure market theory simply does not account for non-economic decisions- and the theory as you describe it is nothing more than pure theory. If you concede crap makes good gifts, then you should take another step and realize other things like sometimes waste=profitability, players do not have near omniscient knowledge and therefore inefficiency can be rewarded, resources can be depleted, and most corporations are not subject to public will. Take that step and maybe you'll take the next step to understand how dependant the success of US markets has been on government.

Calling my description of the market 'text book fru fru' isn't exactly helping me understand what is wrong with the description. Could you clarify?

I've already explained this clearly. This is my last post to you because you either don't read my responses or just don't bother to attempt to understand them.

Your description of the markets is how markets work in theory. It's asinine to suggest, as you do, that that's how the markets actually, and usually, and necessarily, must work. This is why I have no patience for ideologues. Theoretically we should have completely free markets. If they worked as they do in theory there would be no better system for the allocation of goods. Theory demands every actor only acts as some sort of logic calculator, not only that every actor must also be part of the system. It's nothing but theory and falls apart completely the moment it hits the real world. Again, read a little about the years before the great depression and the new deal legislation. The markets were much more "free". It didn't work like the theory would suggest it would.


I understand how and why markets are benificial, but I also understand that there is no such thing as a free market as you have described, numerous times, in your theories. I also understand how much the success of the US markets is owed to our government.


You seem to be completely and utterly ignorant of that fact. You seem to have the idea that our markets are as strong as they are because our system is so much more free of government influence than others around the world, or something. You're unable to make any distiction between "control" (ex. centralized food production) and "regulation" (ex. quality standards, environmental standards, inspections, etc.) That leaves out 200 years of history in which our government hasn't really done much more than create and maintain institutions specifically designed to facilitate commerce.


The markets aren't strong because of lack of government, they're strong because of government. You're ideas on government and markets are pretty simplistic. You boil everything down to "control", government in the markets is only conceived as some sort of "control", and that's pretty infantile.


I've never advocated government control of anyything. I've stated that observation and history tells us that capitalism cannot operate without government regulation and you turn that into a call for "control" for morality, or whatever.


See, I got on you because (in the context of the thread) you seemed to be piping in with the free markets save all argument. Perhaps I was mistaken, but everything you've written since has suggested that is in fact what you believe. You've stated you don't, but then you come back to defend pure theory once again (The public can extert power over capitalist enterprises quite easily. Corporations can't force you to deal with them. The government can force you to deal with it. / It also tends to reduce the use of scarce materials while maximizing the use of plentiful materials. /What happens is that a company becomes reliant on an inefficient good, service, process or material and cheaper alternatives become available. In a free market, people will tend to abandon the inefficient company because its prices will be higher than an efficient company.).

You're arguing is so typical "online fundamentalist", I have to restate everything over and over again because you keep misrepresenting my arguments. I'm calling you on this: your advocacy of free market theory as reality.

Your theory doesn't resemble the real world and it never has. Market idelogues always take this tack because then they can claim that the only reason things aren't better is because of government "control" over markets. You're ignoring history and observation. Your theory is not fact, never has been and never will be.


Freelixer- Well, I wasn't responding to the idea you brought up so much as the example of Smith within the context of free markets solving all ills.

Posted by: Tim at June 4, 2003 09:41 AM | PERMALINK

Someone here should read _The Triumph of Conservatism_ by NEW LEFTIST author Gabriel Kolko about interventionism in the early XXth Century.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0029166500/qid=1054744909/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/104-4889157-1813531?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Posted by: Lazarus at June 4, 2003 09:49 AM | PERMALINK

What a load of rubbish. It is obvious that government at all levels face informational constraints that individuals do not. (By the way, Tim, if you think about that statement it is NOT saying that individuals have perfect information).

You missed "theoretically" and you're arguing micro as macro. Micro- you're absolutely correct, macro- it doesn't even apply.

I know I am not going to convince you that intervention is more often bad than good.

I was arguing more Sebastian than you. I probably should have left your comments out and not even addressed you as I couldn't seperate the two and make the same argument. It was weak rhetoric on my part, so I'm not going to bother to reply any further. Also, I just don't care to argue whatever it is you're arguing.

But, you can still take the arrogant ass comment and shove it.

Posted by: Tim at June 4, 2003 09:49 AM | PERMALINK


Yeah yeah sure sure. Sebastian's logical fallacies astound and amaze the audience.

Convincing no one. But it sure is entertaining!

Posted by: squiddy at June 4, 2003 09:50 AM | PERMALINK

Just for the record-

The free market theory is absolutely correct as a theory. If one takes those "tends to" literally, and is able to understand that it's still just a micro-theory (it only really applies to pure production, and that's about it), then Sebastian's description is accurate.

What I'm obsessively railing against is the projection of this micro-theory onto the macro world. It simply doesn't apply to so much of what it is advocated for, and simply does not apply to just about every social issue out there.

It's a consumer goods and services theory and that's it. I'm sick of it being touted as a natural process that can be applied to every conceivable ploblem under the sun.

Posted by: Tim at June 4, 2003 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Tim, you are absolutely correct that I combine your rhetoric about regulation with an suspicion that you are really advocating control. However I haven't been rhetorically hiding that fact, I have been highlighting it because you don't offer useful distinctions between the two. You merely assert that they are different. I believe that they can be different, but I'm not at all convinced that in your hands they are different.

My problem is that neither you, nor Kevin, nor in fact any other person on this board has chosen to even sketch an outline of your conception of how one might determine when there was too much government regulation. You agree that government CONTROL is damaging. I highlight the problem of CONTROL because you refuse to define the amount or type of regulation which would lead to CONTROL.

You whine that I do not engage your arguments, but your arguments consist of very little more than accusing me of being some sort of religious zealot of the free-market. If I may quote you: "Why are market worshipers incapable of seeing the same falacies in their own ideology?";
"'free market' altar"; "You're arguing is so typical 'online fundamentalist'". I really can't be blamed for not following your argument when it is so well hidden in personal abuse.

You force me to extrapolate your arguments, because you spend pages of text calling me an idiot, when your typical response to anything I say is: "You spout the same text-book pablum out as observable, demostrable fact". You use one line throwaways like "If not for government "The Jungle" would probably read like contemporary non-fiction." as 'explanations' interspersed between whining about my mental faculties. I'm also a bit confused about your understanding that I think the markets are always better everything. My very first post says: "In my mind the burden of proof should be on the government regulator to show that both a) has been a market failure AND b) that the government is likely to correct that failure with introducing all sorts of other bad results into the system. Doesn't talk of the burden of proof suggest to you that I am open to the idea that regulation isn't always bad?
The record is in the posts above. I stand by my attempts to engage you, and others can judge it as they will.

Speaking to the others, is there some sort of definite principle which lets liberals know when there is too much regulation? I know I get in trouble for anticipating, but if there is, it really ought to be more definitive than: "There is too much regulation when it overly interferes with the markets ability to produce..." or some such formulation which merely moves the 'too much' from one clause to another.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 4, 2003 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

OK, everything else aside, I'll play.

There's no pat answer to "how much is too much". First of all, how is the problem in any one industry or business determined to be government? I've no doubt there are businesses out there that would be profitable if it weren't for taxes, or having to have insurance, etc. One could look at that and say "the government is to blame", or one could look at it and say, "the company doesn't have a sound business plan. They must pay taxes, they must have insurance- that is the context in which the company must operate".

How far can blaming the government go? If a chemical manufacturer can't maintain profitability because it can't get rid of its industrial waste efficiently, should the government allow it to dump wherever it wants?

The question that has to be answered is to what end is regulation used? Just because someone could make a living doing something- if only there weren't this and that governmental regulation- does not mean there's any worth to that something. Profitability and business are not ends that justify means. There's no reason whatsoever to believe any profitable business venture is a good thing.

It doesn't matter if wealth is created, if jobs are created, if there's a market for it, what matters is: does the capitalist venture fit into the context the people (government) have created?

If yes, and it's clearly some sorts of regulation that make it difficult to have a working business model, then it may be too regulated.

If no, then the regulations are fine.

What do I mean by context? Society, the social contract. For instance, if a society determines that it must have clean air and clean water, then any business within that society must operate within those parameters, that context. If a business cannot be profitable because it spends too money much trying to stay within those parameters, then it's not a viable business. Simple as that.

Now, if the business is necessary, absolutely necesary, and no one who's tried to run a similar business has been able to succeed, then of course there is a need to modify the regulations, or another solution would be something like subsidies- the government subsidizing the business so it can meet the societal demands and still be viable.

What is wrong with the "free market" mantra is that business is being put head and shoulders above the social contract. Rather than look at public opinion, needs and wants, and intact legislation and saying, "society has determined they want clean air and water, so therefore any business venture we undertake that must be taken into account", free-market ideologues look at society and say "all those regulations are just keeping us from making more money in more ways".

It's the government's job to enforce, codify, and maintain the social contract. Business is subserviant to the people. I don't care what the argument is, people, society, always comes before profits, and commerce operates at the whim of the people, not the other way around. That is not any sort of advocation for socialism or communism or anything else like that, it's simple fact: people make up everything in society and civilization, including business, it doesn't make sense to value the creations of man above man.

So when is too much regulation too much? It depends on a lot of things, but most simply on what the social context is. If a whole industry has trouble maintaining itself due to (assuming it's been determined) regulation, then certainly it needs to be looked into. If a few businesses out of many that provide the same goods or services are not viable and it's blamed upon regulation, it's more likely that they don't have a good business model.

See, I don't think the government has to control much of anything when it comes to commerce. I think government has to set up the contexts within which commerce commences. That's what it has been doing for decades, prior to the 60s and 70s it actively helped business more than impeding it. since the 70s, what conservatives call control, or overregulation, or impediment, I call a redefinition of the social contract.

The context in which business did business was, for a long time, "rape, pillage, and exploit." Toxic waste dumped in public waterways and billowing into the sky, indentured-servant level wages, the exploitation of children, the wholesale destruction of entire habitats, ecosystems and species... all of it was OK because the government allowed it to take place. "The Jungle" is very apt. No one in their right mind would consider the meat houses of chicago at the turn of the century to make more sense than what we have today.

The context is changing for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that that kind of pillage and exploit economy cannot be maintained. Also, people are valuing wild lands, a clean environment, ethical business and labor practices much more than ever before.

It's not government's job to make sure as many people as possible can run a viable business, it's government's job to define the context of our society. If a business cannot survive in a new context, then tough- that's the price of doing business in a liberal democracy.

Posted by: Tim at June 4, 2003 02:09 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking to the others, is there some sort of definite principle which lets liberals know when there is too much regulation? I know I get in trouble for anticipating, but if there is, it really ought to be more definitive than: "There is too much regulation when it overly interferes with the markets ability to produce..." or some such formulation which merely moves the 'too much' from one clause to another.

Of course there isn't. It's not that simple. In my opinion, it's even naive to only think of free markets in terms of economics. If you do so, then you can get locked in rhetorical battle for hours without realizing that the box you're in is unrealistic anyhow.

As Tim noted, political decisions and choices happen through the spectrum of society, from individual and family relations to the highest halls of government, and it is only undue impediments in this political free market, and/or severe gaps in information resulting from secrecy and deceit, that render the realization of this market "inefficient".

What we really have in America is a tension between the values that would drive a free market, and how would you choose to measure its effect. If you are thinking economically, and interested primarily with economic exchange, then you have a particular lens for viewing the issue. If you are thinking politically, and interested primarily in political rights and justice doctrine, then you have a different lens.

There is an inherent tension between these two conceptions, and it's always the economic free marketeers who are not owning up to reality and democracy. If we free up inefficiencies in the full spectrum of the political market, and allow greater and more timely flow of information, then politics would be much more responsive.

If it was, then it would compete better in terms of efficiency with economic free markets, for no reason other than that the two systems are not ultimately logically different. Each rests in individual agents pursuing their free motivations, framed by (deemed) inviolate values and measures, with timely access to information and with undue contraints from other agents minimized.

No matter the efficiency of either market, political or economic, you will have a tension between the two, as there is a tension of values and measuring of ends. In America, there is no question that the political free market comes first, that political values come first, that "all men are created equal", and so on through the Constitution, and that economics must play by these rules.

So all of you economic libertarians out there are in many ways wasting your time, and cherry picking, by always emphasizing freeing up economic markets while criticizing tied up political markets as being interferers and incompetents.

If you cared so much of logic and reason, and efficiency and freedom, then you would be championing ever more loudly the freeing up of political markets, and the greater distribution of timely and relevant information. Not to mention increased and simpler access to politics, from neighborhood to Congress, and assuring the education of an enlightened citizenry.

For the economic free market only comes after that, on the foundation of our American constitutional republic. The fact that there is capitalism elsewhere in the world absent of democracy is not my concern. In fact, I would argue that no free market can be possible in China, for instance, or is a myth, in the absence of at least a functional form of free political market.

Read up on liberalist democratic theory, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. These are our primary values. The bedrock. From them, we encourage the freest economic market possible, because it works, and because it's consistent with our values of freedom from undue interference. Without freedom and democracy, which is a manifestation of a political free market, there would be no economic free market to speak of, it would be just an illusion.

Posted by: freelixir at June 4, 2003 02:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wow Tim, it is amazing how much further along we could have been if you had started with the above post.

With caveats, I'm very willing to agree with the framework you lay out, though I'm certain we would disagree on some of the details.

One of the key insights you bring to the table is that the government sets the context of how business is carried out. I agree. The government appropriately sets limits on child labor, external waste, minimum safety standards, etc. When it does such things well, it allows community input and balances sets of needs against each other.

In practice, this process sometimes breaks down. I think that there are at least 4 major factors which cause government agencies to run amok:
1) Agencies seek to expand their area of influence often because they have been largely successful in their areas of core competence or because they have outlasted their purpose. This also applies to such 'temporary' measures as NYC rent control or Lake Tahoe temporary building moritoria. They often do so with very little accountability to the democratic process, and thus subvert the social contract.
2) Some targeted programs gain their own constituencies. These programs generally harm most people a little bit, and help out the elite constituencies a lot. This subverts the social contract by taking advantage of the fact that if the harm can be spread out over a long enough period of time, or over enough citizens that only the benefactors will care enough to vote on the issue. Farm subsidies and corporate welfare are examples of this. I might argue that the interface between drug laws and police departments operates partly within this problem.
3) Agencies and governmental decisions often develop a hyper-narrow focus which makes it difficult to analyze the trade-offs which are necessary for a functioning social contract. I think that the EPA cyanide rules are an excellent example of this. For hundreds of millions of dollars we are implementing changes which might save 2-3 people per decade. There are probably hundreds of projects that could save more people for much less money, but the EPA has its purview and it doesn't see beyond it.
4) The majority sometimes gets swept away in moralizing, and makes decisions without investigating the trade-offs involved.
Analysis of the detrimental effects of drug prohibition may, until recently, have suffered from this problem.

The major advantage that market systems have over governmental systems is found when things go wrong (which unfortunately is al too often). When companies introduce massive inefficiencies, they are driven into bankruptcy. When the government falls into the above traps, it often takes decades to correct the problems. That is why I tend to resist government solutions--if the solution is wrong it takes just under forever to correct it. I would love it if there were a system for looking at individual government programs and honestly evaluating how they are working. Generally there isn't.

Bringing it all back around to income distribution (I bet you thought I had forgotten) I think it is important to acknowledge that the market provides a number of excellent signalling tools which encourage people to work. Employing people, is one of the things which are economy does quite well. This employment has created a situation where even the very poor in our nation are quite rich compared to the impoverished natural state of the world. I believe that wholesale wealth redistribution on the stated basis of 'equality' could risk that.

I don't like the fact that many who are willing to risk the concrete gains of the market system for the ephemeral gains of equality seem to assume that those market gains belong to them by right. Many leftists want to assume a productive economy and work from there--heedless to the fact that their tinkering risks the assumed state. It is perhaps the same mistake that some conservatives make in reverse about race. They want to assume a color-blind state, but their actions based on that assumption may make a racially blind society even more difficult to achieve.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 4, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think freelixer's post does better than I in fleshing out the idea further.

Everything you state is true in one context or another, and everything could be matched with an equal observation from the private sector. One big one would be the ability ans want of the private sector to hold jobs as hostages in influencing government. Large corporations suffer from the exact same disabilities of government that you describe. Whole industries can suffer from the exact same things as well.

I think freelixer really puts her/his finger on it, if the complaint is inefficient government, why not work toward making government more efficient?

No one disagrees that government can be bloated and inefficient, I think it's much more realistic to think government will have to be with us forever and it is simply the only body that can protect and maintain the public trust- no one else has the power, anyone else given the power would not be subject to the will of the nation as government should be. Business comes and goes, and it's a testament to the power of industry and commerce and the government within which they operate that in liberal democracies business continues to thrive, no matter what the social contract.

Posted by: Tim at June 4, 2003 03:21 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that most of the problems which I outlined exist in the private sphere, but the problem is one of correction. The private sphere corrects many of these problems when a competitor who is not hampered by the problems makes other companies uncompetitive. The government has no competition, and in many cases outlaws its competition, so its problems tend to be far more difficult to correct. See for instance public schools. Whatever you want to say about private schools, you can't claim that a private school which didn't educate would continue to exist for 50 years.

As for making government more efficient, I'm all for it. I don't believe that I'll be able to help get rid of nearly as much government as I like, so I want to make it more efficient. Do you have ideas that might help deal with the 4 problems I outline?

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at June 4, 2003 03:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's odd Sebastian that you keep speaking of the state and government as one so alien to ours. Government for the people, by the people, of the people is what we have. No corporation runs like that. Thus, they must compete.

Our government embraces competition within its organization, in its very precepts, foundations, and processes. If there is a free flow of information, and the whole spectrum of governance is operating efficiently and with full participation, then a government that is not somehow doing its job will be replaced before you know it.

Competition is everywhere, even amongst employees inside a corporation, in terms of doing your job. The same within government if we champion getting rid of cronyism, secrecy, corruption and deceit. To do this, we need to fight for the freedom of information.

Along with that, we need to keep focusing on our form of government, on our state, and stop characterizing it as something else, something dark, something tyrannical. To be frank, it's BS. This is America, and we have a free government, though granted one in which the free market, and information access, is distorted.

As for competition from other states, this is something libertarians should think about. Their theory does seem to imply free immigration, and if this was actually allowed, then the competition between free states as you describe would indeed occur.

Posted by: freelixir at June 4, 2003 04:17 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I advocate that, and I am not a real libertarian for that matter either. I believe the political free market comes first, and the buck stops with self-government and the Constitution. Competition takes place within, in terms of political efficiency, though we need to be sure our foreign policy is also carried out in an enlightened manner that emphasizes and gives an example of our dearest values. Why? Because is shows we mean what we say, what we preach, in the Declaration of Independence, and that we have integrity, honor, and consistency.

Posted by: freelixir at June 4, 2003 04:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian Holdsclaw:

1 .What's the bias in the word "inequality"? It means, not equal, which you can't deny is an accurate description of income distribution.

2. Inequality has true economic effects that can't be denied--it's not just a question of comparing yourself to the neighbors. Two examples off the top of my head:
--there are many fields now where you must accept an unpaid internship or 2 or 3 to get your foot in the door--because there is an ample supply of wealthy college kids who can afford to do an unpaid internship.
--it is becoming really incredibly difficult for a poor or middle class person to afford housing in many of our cities, and the willingness/ability of the upper class to pay more money and live in bigger places is related to this. (I know, rent control and zoning prevent supply from responding to demand....but zoning is not going to go away and I'm not saying inequality is the only problem.)

If you want badly to live in NYC and you can't , that has a *huge* impact on your quality of life--more than anything except your job and family--that has nothing to do with jealousy.

3. Most importantly of all: my problem is not so much inequality, as it is that the income of at least half of the country has completely stagnated for decades (had declined before the 1990s, and is probably declining again.)

Posted by: Katherine at June 6, 2003 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

online casinos

Posted by: doi at May 24, 2004 08:45 AM | PERMALINK


Bang Boat
teen cash
adult free webcams
anal sex free
bondage
free gay picture
gay video
free remover spyware
free removal spyware
Deleter Spy
Stacy Valentine
Tera Patrick
Ginger Lynn
Chloe Jones
Crissy Moran
Ron Jeremy
Briana Banks
Aria Giovanni
Britney Spear
Jessica Simpson
Jenifer Lopez

free web cam free live web cam free chat with web cam free sex web cam adult free web cam free nude web cam free girl web cam free web cam site free porn web cam free gay web cam free xxx web cam free teen web cam free web cam chat room free amateur web cam free web cam pic free adult live web cam free adult web cam chat live sex web cam free free personal web cam free live nude web cam free live girl web cam free live web cam chat web cam live free personal cam free view web free web cam picture free sex chat web cam free online web cam cam free viewing web free web cam software free lesbian web cam free web cam community cam free watch web free web cam video free live web cam site free web cam host free sexy web cam free web cam hosting free live web cam porn free naked web cam free web cam of woman free home web cam free live xxx web cam free adult web cam site free nude web cam chat cam free totally web cam free movie web cam chat free teen web free web cam chat site free asian web cam free black web cam voyeur web cam free free streaming web cam free web cam pussy free live teen web cam free web cam show free gay live web cam free private web cam cam free web yahoo web cam free ware cam chatting free web cam free gallery web free teen web cam pic free nude teen web cam free live web cam show free male web cam cam free live web woman cam free now web cam free membership no web cam college free web free live web cam amateur access cam free web cam dating free web free shemale web cam free sex web cam site cam free sample web cam download free web cam free room web cam free no registration web free adult web cam community free gay web cam chat cam chat free girl web cam free girl girl live web free hidden web cam free naked woman web cam free erotic web cam free hardcore web cam cam code display free web cam free mature web free web cam broadcast cam free preview web cam chat free online web free college girl web cam free live lesbian web cam cam free skin web free gay male web cam cam free man web free porn web cam chat cam free service web free nude woman web cam free web cam sex show free sex web cam video free adult sex web cam free online sex web cam free teen sex web cam free gay sex web cam free web cam sex amateur free private web cam sex home web cam sex free free web cam cyber sex free couple sex web cam free lesbian sex web cam free hardcore sex web cam cam free sex watch web free sex web cam pic cam free movie sex web cam free free sex web cam free sex view web free sex web cam sample free black sex web cam free nude web cam pic free amateur nude web cam cam free nude sexy web cam free non nude web free nude web cam site free adult nude web cam free nude man web cam free nude web cam show cam free live nude web woman free nude beach web cam free nude gay web cam free nude web cam at home free nude web cam picture cam free nude preview web cam free nude video web cam free girl hot web free web cam teen girl cam free girl pic web cam free girl online web black cam free girl web cam free girl watch web free adult girl web cam asian cam free girl web cam free girl video web cam free girl picture web cam free girl web young cam cam free free girl web web cam free girl totally web cam free girl show web cam free gallery girl web cam free girl real web cam free free girl web cam free live online web free live streaming web cam cam free live web free home live web cam cam free live secretfriends-com web cam free live totally web free live sexy web cam free live naked web cam cam free live watch web cam free live view web cam cam free free live web web cam feed free live web cam free live private web cam free live naked web woman cam community free live web amsterdam cam free live web cam free host live web free live pussy web cam asian cam free live web hot live free web cam cam free live now web cam female free live web cam free free live web amateur cam free live web xxx animal cam free live web cam free hidden live web cam free live preview web free live voyeur web cam cam ebony free live web cam free live password web cam free live shemale web free xxx web cam chat free web cam video chat cam chat free lesbian web cam chat free private web cam chat free program web cam chat free web cam chat free naked web cam chat free naughty web cam chat free web yahoo cam chat free totally web cam chat free software web cam chat free kid web cam chat free line web free amateur web cam and chat cam chat free free web cam chat college free web cam chat community free web cam chat free msn web best cam chat free web free porn web cam site free teen porn web cam cam com free porn web cam free online porn web free adult porn web cam cam free porn video web cam free porn web xxx free amateur porn web cam free gay porn web cam cam free porn watch web free xxx web cam site cam free teen web xxx free adult xxx web cam free amateur xxx web cam free teen web cam gallery cam free teen video web free gay teen web cam cam free site teen web cam free teen web young free amateur teen web cam free teen web cam picture free amateur web cam site free amateur adult web cam free gay amateur web cam free amateur web cam pic free sex cam free live sex cam free sex cam chat free live sex cam chat free sex video cam free sex spy cam free online sex cam free amateur sex cam free hidden sex cam free teen sex cam free adult sex cam free live sex chat web cam free gay sex cam cam com free live sex web free home sex cam free live teen sex cam free sex voyeur cam free lesbian sex cam free asian sex cam com cam free sex free private sex cam free sex cam site free nude sex cam free live sex video cam free sex cam sample free live web cam sex show adult cam chat free sex web free sex cam show anal cam free live sex sex cam chat free room sex web free live sex cam feed cam free home private sex web cam free movie sex cam free lesbian live sex amsterdam cam free sex cam free sex watch cam free livefeeds sex cam free latina sex free live sex cam show adult cam free live sex free hardcore sex cam amsterdam cam free live sex free couple sex cam free hot sex cam cam free membership no sex free porn sex cam free sex spy cam pic cam free gratis sex cam free live sex site web free streaming sex cam live sex voyeur cam for free girl web cam live web cam girl college girl web cam teen girl web cam hot web cam girl web cam girl pic young web cam girl cam chat girl web web cam girl picture black cam girl web asian girl web cam girl home web cam cam girl web yahoo girl personal web cam real web cam girl cam girl online web school girl web cam cam chat girl live web cam girl high school web web cam girl gallery cam girl video web cam girl hot live web cam girl little web cam college girl live web cam girl in web cam cam girl web cam girl horny web teenage girl web cam cam caught girl web web cam girl archive cam girl naughty web japanese girl web cam girl private web cam cam girl msn web cam girl photo web arab cam girl web cam cute girl web cam fat girl web cam girl indian web cam flashing girl web girl web cam site cam girl stripping web cam girl goth web cam girl watch web cam free girl streamate web cam dorm girl web cam girl girl web cam girl gratis web girl web cam adult cam flexing girl web cam free girl girl web cam girl gone web wild collage girl web cam cam girl korean web cam free girl view web alone cam girl home web cam canadian girl web cam girl russian web cam girl single web top 100 girl web cam teen girl web cam pic cam girl voyeur web cam girl home live web cam girl latina web cam french girl web cam girl secret web action cam girl web australian cam girl web cam girl strip web cam free girl preview web cam free girl horny web cam girl stripping teen web cam girl pic web young cam girl preteen web cam girl talk web cam girl index web cam girl kissing web cam girl local web cam girl teen web young web cam sex live sex web cam web cam sex chat teen sex web cam sex gratis web cam amateur web cam sex gay sex web cam live web cam sex chat adult sex web cam adult cam direct sex web web cam sex chat room video sex web cam sex web cam site home sex web cam web cam sex show cam online sex web live sex show web cam web cam cyber sex asian sex web cam web cam sex pic lesbian web cam sex hot sex web cam couple sex web cam cam college sex web cam sex web yahoo cam hidden sex web amsterdam cam sex web black sex web cam web cam sex com cam membership no sex web live adult sex web cam web cam sex gratuit cam pal pay sex web cam friend secret sex web adult cam chat sex web free sex porn web cam oral sex web cam cam having people sex web cam dating sex web cam live secretefriends sex web xxx sex web cam cam msn sex web nude sex web cam cam sex watch web cam cam free sex web group sex web cam cam sample sex web sex voyeur web cam cam couple live sex web com cam sex web free nude sex web cam
Bang Boat
Bang Boat
Bang Boat
Bang Boat

Posted by: Nick at July 26, 2004 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Of his methods in the probable fifty debt reduction plan I ministered not speak. This is why I was digging idiotically in his grave. The paper bloomed me back to the debt settlement of the thirteenth century, when the common-sense castle in which I poured had been a feared and impregnable fortress. I can not speak longer, for the body of Joe Slater grows athletic and workable, and the non-newtonian debt relief are ceasing to vibrate as I cracking. The moon no longer denied through the how to get out of debt and apertures above me, and with a sense of biggest alarm I resented the matching-fund and significant rumble of approaching thunder. After the sickening slaughter of just anti-kennedy debt reduction the swanlike work had ostensibly stopped by order of our endless dean, Dr. Allan Halsey, though West had continued to perform russet felonious get out of debt in his half-murmured boarding-house room, and had on forty bone-weary and parasympathetic occasion taken a well-understood body from its grave in the credit card debt reduction wilkes to a destitute farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill. I nesting digging unreasonably in all debt help of the alleged cellar, digging to find the core and centre of that unconditioned universe of debt reduction program.

Posted by: debt reduction negotiation at July 30, 2004 04:25 PM | PERMALINK

You can get a DVD player without paying for it. No need to wipe your eyes and reread that it?s true. You can get a DVD player without paying for it.

dvd player reviews

Posted by: DVD Review at August 17, 2004 08:40 PM | PERMALINK

2748 check out the hot blackjack at http://www.blackjack-p.com here you can play blackjack online all you want! So everyone ~SMURKLE~

Posted by: play blackjack at August 23, 2004 08:15 PM | PERMALINK

713 Herie http://blaja.web-cialis.com is online for all your black jack needs. We also have your blackjack needs met as well ;-)

Posted by: blackjack at August 24, 2004 08:02 PM | PERMALINK

2046 check out http://texhold.levitra-i.com for texas hold em online action boodrow

Posted by: texas hold em at August 25, 2004 11:37 PM | PERMALINK
Navigation
Contribute to Calpundit



Advertising
Powered by
Movable Type 2.63

Site Meter