Sunday, June 23, 2013

Stone In My Shoe

I really should just leave this one alone. Especially as I'll be out of touch and not able to address any responses to this immediately.

It's such a little thing, it really isn't worth the bother. The fact that I can't just goes to show the exponential growth cycle of mildly irritating things into annoying kind of big things. And the annoying kind of big thing this reminds me of is the ongoing rage and dread that seethes through the American right of both conservative and libertarian stripe, this thirty-on-year temper tantrum of us Americans not doing what is best for us. Yeah, where have I heard that before?

Seemingly intelligent people, or people possessed of compartmentalized intelligence, operate under the worldview that there are two camps within this country: the hardworking productive elite, and the indolent masses leeching off their labor through confiscatory taxes and transfer programs.

And, since clearly this not only probably immoral but - even more obscene - irrational and inefficient, various Candyland proposals are put forth as viable alternatives.

Take, for example, this prime piece of idiocy. Coffee sharing. Isn't that nice? That reeking homeless guy, lying about in his own waste products, can now walk into your tony, trendy coffee place get himself a free cup of coffee courtesy of free market agents!

 Do I consider the idea of suspended coffee, as it is called, idiotic? No, I consider the idea that somehow:
The answer is simple, it cuts out the middleman of government & the compulsion of law and instead uses unregulated markets and the goodness of people's hearts.
"It" being the act of charity known as suspended coffee. So, the beautiful thing about the quoted sentence is how many logical and empirical fallacies are implicitly embedded within it, and uttered without even the slightest effort at evaluating the scheme as somehow truly eliminating middlemen or the threat coercion, but somehow appealing to the efficiencies and generosities that are so evident every here on planet Earth, the Nice Nice Planet.

No, really, let's think about this for a second. Anyone who has spent any time at all working in the retail world knows that two items are guaranteed to produce a profit with the minimum of effort or added value are: coffee and eggs. I could point out the obvious and remark that it is extremely difficult to survive on coffee alone, but since approximately the same markup is involved between coffee and eggs, it really doesn't matter whether we use Denny's or Starbucks as our supply chain model.

So let's use Starbucks. On average, the typical markup on a cup of coffee is about 300%. Meaning that 3 dollar cup of suspended coffee you so generously provided that bum at Starbucks could have been made at your house for 25 cents. Good thing there is no government middleman there to crank the price up even higher! Oh, and wait, that coffee Starbucks purchased was through an unregulated market, right? Well, once upon a time it might have been, back in the 1980s before coffee growers banded together. But coffee is a regulated market, voluntarily regulated by growers. Because why, class? What happens to prices in an unregulated market, class? They fluctuate wildly. That's right! So, middlemen like Starbucks can take advantage of inefficient information exchange (arbitrage) and purchase exemptions (lowballing, blackmail, conspiracy) to drive the market to their advantage (bankrupt poor farmers and extract unfair prices from the survivors).  Boy, it's a good thing those poor farmers (or anyone that supplies a product) aren't coerced or compelled in any way towards their ruination.

Speaking of coercion, how can anyone buy into the argument that taxation is theft? If taxation is coercion, a denial of choice, then what is profit? Wait. Aren't both a social contract? Isn't taxation more like membership dues? The classic argument is the market presents a choice, whereas taxation does not. Really? That's a red herring, of course. You have a choice in whatever you do. What they really mean in invoking that logical fallacy is: they want a choice with no important consequences.

You have a choice not to pay taxes. Should you be expected to enjoy the privileges incurred through the social contract of taxation, such as rule of law, protection of private property through defense, basic human services like water and roads, weather reports, clean food, no poisons in your medicines, things like that? You can leave the country, go someplace where you don't have to pay taxes.  You can also go out into the market and try and pay for a product that has no markup. Let me know when you fulfill that choice.

Hopefully, you get the idea. This the problem with libertarians. They are un-communists, in that they refuse to accept any empirical evidence that disproves their utopian social theories.

Now, this is not a "government good, markets bad" simplistic argument as the reverse is too often employed by the sanctimonious right. The fact of the matter is, this version of charity is neither efficient nor non-compulsory. Someone is always coercing you into doing one or another thing in the real world. The principle of nonaggression is a cloud-cuckoo fantasy. Anyone who lives in the United States of America, where indigenous peoples were aggressively booted off their land, and foreign peoples of a certain skin tone were compelled to work against their will, had better recognize the right of conquest/the absurdity of the principle of non-aggression or prepare to be mercilessly poked fun of.

Hey, speaking of charity, I think the point being made really boils down to this:
The solution is ideal. It gives the person donating the money complete control. 
Do they mind that an executive of a company might use their money (the money they worked so hard for, and exchanged for a product) to buy cocaine or child-porn, or importing sex slaves? What's the difference? Is it still their money? And money they give to the government, that's still their money? Nonsense!

Ah, see? The keywords I highlighted in the above quote. Complete Control. That's really what it is all about isn't it?  I think it because of that little authoritarian, that little Hitler, that lurks within conservatives and libertarians. Never mind that that money they want to control is no longer theirs. After all, that's the idea of a gift, right? There are plenty of aid organizations that allow them to control how their money is spent. They can choose to contribute to that, but this doesn't absolve them of the responsibilities of living in a society. See, this suggests to me that they ultimately really don't like democracy or trust people. They want you to do what you are told.

And that's a big thing. Cute enough in the infantile realm of two- to three-year olds. Evil in an adult realm.

No comments:

Post a Comment