No consequences for speech?

The blogosphere has been a-buzz about the firing of blogger and Microsoft worker Michael Hanscom for posting a picture of Macs being delivered to the Microsoft campus. What initially caught my eye is the sheer venom expressed in the comments to Hanscom's post toward Microsoft.

On her blog Reflections in D Minor, Lynne S writes, "Another blogger fired for exercising his freedom of speech."

I'm not so sure about that. I interpret the right to free speech as essentially meaning that, in general, speech is not aggressive. But does that mean that speech should have no consequences whatsoever? If someone comes into my house and starts badmouthing my mother, do I not have the right to kick him out?

Another example - last week Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick was fined $15,000 by the NFL for criticizing officials.

"I don't know that Johnny wasn't looking at pictures of his kids in that little booth," Billick said.

"With the current system, I've got to expend a timeout, embarrass the officials and throw a red flag out on the field, let him go in and look at God knows what on the internet, and come out and tell me I didn't get a definitive view to overrule it." [...]

"I quit. I give up. I've tried to be an advocate for instant replay. I've tried to do the company line. I've said the right things.

Is the NFL violating Billick's freedom of speech?

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Of course it's not a free

Of course it's not a free speech issue. Is he any less free to say whatever he wants?

I'm a little confused. Did

I'm a little confused. Did the government fire Michaeal Hanscom from Microsoft?

It is certainly true that MS

It is certainly true that MS had the right to fire him at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. However, there is overhead involved in hiring and firing personnel, and I think it is highly questionable whether the alleged damage caused to MS by Michael's post exceeds the cost of firing him and finding a replacement. Economically, it is a bad decision, notwithstanding the fact that for a company as huge and rich as MS, the cost is negligible. To me, this is evidence for the theory that any institution can start to behave like government in some ways once it is sufficiently large.

Michael's boss obviously did not want him fired--it sounds like it came from "on high", and was done in the name of "security".

virginia hit the nail on the

virginia hit the nail on the head. Edmond Cahn said corporations will act like "petty sovereigns"- assuming that freedom of speech is specific to governments is pretty silly:
Many libertarians think that they are upholding classical lberal principles- but then they ignore what the principles are. The point is "it is generally undesirable and unjust to limit people's speech." Not "it's bad for the governemtn to do it." Classical liberal theory evolved when the two major powers were church and state: hence the radical criticisms. Were "monied institutions" to have existed you can assume that they would have been concerned about them as well.

Oh, wait:
"The end of democracy, and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations" - Jefferson

The point is "it is

The point is "it is generally undesirable and unjust to limit people's speech." Not "it's bad for the governemtn to do it."

No, that's precisely not the point. As Jonathan said, "If someone comes into my house and starts badmouthing my mother, do I not have the right to kick him out?" Of course I do.

No injustice occurs when private institutions limit speech, because that is entirely what private institutions are all about: the freedom to determine what is and is not acceptable for that institution.

I'm astonished that you would even bother making such a silly argument, as it can so easily be reduced to absurd conclusions.

Now, in this specific case, Microsoft may have made a bad decision, but so what? It certainly wasn't an unjust decision, unless you first assume that Hanscom was entitled to his job.

well this gets to the heart

well this gets to the heart of the problem- at some point a "private institution" is indistinguishable from a totalitarian government. At what point is it no longer acceptable to allow the curtailing of people's rights in the name of that priavte institution's "freedom"? I don't think there's a good answer to that, aside from "there is such a point."

Before you get all excited about how consistant libertarian principles are, you should realize that your assumptions give up certain points as well. If you lived under a monarchy you would have no libertarian ground upon which to stand (aside from a few historical arguments which are equally applicable to the present situation) in criticizing such a situation. Or fuedalism- all the land is owned by the sovereign, and they have the power to "contractually exchange" you into licking up pig shit every day or starving to death.

At what point is it no

At what point is it no longer acceptable to allow the curtailing of people's rights in the name of that priavte institution's "freedom"? I don't think there's a good answer to that, aside from "there is such a point."

But this is only a problem if you misunderstand the nature of a private institution. By definition, private organizations are made up of individuals who unanimously agree to associate with each other. The only individual "rights" that can possibly be abridged by a private institution are those which fall outside the original agreement specified in the contract.

For example, if under the terms of his employment contract, Microsoft had promised Hanscom that he could say whatever he pleased without needing to worry about any possible repercussions, then I would certainly agree that Microsoft had violated Hanscom's (contractually defined) rights. But that is not the case here. Hanscom had no right to freedom of speech under the terms of his contract, and without one, Microsoft's freedom of association trumps any possible complaint he might have.

If you lived under a monarchy you would have no libertarian ground upon which to stand in criticizing such a situation.

Nonsense. I could easily criticize a monarchy in the same way I criticize a democracy - it has no authority to declare what I can and cannot do. I never agree to a social contract with a monarchy, in contrast to Hanscom, who agreed to a contract with Microsoft.

Or fuedalism- all the land is owned by the sovereign

The same criticism applies to fuedalism, or any other social arrangement - how did the sovereign acquire this land? Where does this authority come from?

c'mon Micha- I said "aside

c'mon Micha- I said "aside from a few historical arguments which are equally applicable to the present situation" i.e. current property. The point is all you've got on feudalism is a critique that devastates your own position.

What I'm trying to get you to see is that even if fuedalism came about because Peasant X created an invention 500 years ago that was so great he talked everyone into granting him property rights that he can pass on patrilinearly, it doesn't mean it's okay. But according to your theory it's just fine. 500 years later, we're washing this guy's great (x8)grandkid's underwear because of the blind devotion to some ridiculous "starting line" conception of justice. How about everyone just sprints, and if you don't finish in the top 5% you get nothing? Calling it a "theory of justice" will improve your reputation as a humorist in the 3rd world, but that's about it.

c'mon Micha- I said "aside

c'mon Micha- I said "aside from a few historical arguments which are equally applicable to the present situation" i.e. current property. The point is all you've got on feudalism is a critique that devastates your own position.

Ah. I didn't understand what you meant by that the first time you said it. Sure, initial physical property acquisition is problematic. But by the same token, so is any non-libertarian (i.e. socialist) theory of mutual exchange of labor. And freedom of association, which is central to any discussion of free speech as it relates to the private sphere, in no way relies upon any particular theory of physical property ownership.

Nor do I think that my critique of authoritarian systems (democracy, feudalism, etc.) in any way "devastates" a libertarian theory of initial physical property ownership. Although a "finders keepers" homesteading theory may not be entirely satisfying, it is better than any other alternative theory I have heard, and it does not rely on any implied "social contract".

What I'm trying to get you to see is that even if fuedalism came about because Peasant X created an invention 500 years ago that was so great he talked everyone into granting him property rights that he can pass on patrilinearly, it doesn't mean it's okay.

Two points here: first, I have never defended intellectual property rights on principle, although I have mentioned the possibility that they may be necessary in order to encourage certain kinds of desirable innovation. In fact, I have spent much time on this blog and elsewhere expressing extreme skepticism about IP. Second, wealth is fairly dynamic - just because I am rich does not mean my children will remain rich and just because I am poor does not mean my children will remain poor. In fact, when my (Marxist) sociology professor presented statistical evidence of the impact of wealth on social reproduction, the data refuted his own (static) claims: nearly 50% of the lowest class is no longer in the lowest class after a decade, and nearly 50% of the highest class is no longer in the highest class after a decade. The social mobility is even greater for the middle classes.

Further, even if we don't come up with a solid theory of wealth acquisition, Nozick's Wilt Chamberlain argument still holds. Take any original distribution of resources you prefer, but allow people the freedom to trade with each other. You will immediately encounter vast inequalities as millions of people willingly give a small portion of their assets to people like Wilt Chamberlain.

matt--you read too much into

matt--you read too much into what I wrote. I object to corporations only in proportion to their use of the political means to advantage themselves or disadvantage their competitors. I very much doubt that many of the huge corporations that exist today could have come about in a free market. Firstly, limited liability corporations are government-created legal fictions which have rights that no individual has, and are potentially immortal. Secondly, part of the driving force which has caused corporations to grow to huge proportions is the high cost of compliance with government interference, in the form of regulation and taxes. In some industries, it is impossible to survive without having people devoted full time to dealing with nothing but government-created problems. Thirdly, large corporations have the resources to lobby government directly for special favors. I believe that in the absence of the distorted market conditions for firms created by the government, it would never make sense for a corporation to be as large as, say, Microsoft. It would be too expensive without the compensatory inducements described above.

In some areas of industry, the government distorts markets just by existing, because it's the biggest customer any firm could ever have, and they're spending stolen money, so it's somewhat indifferent to how much things cost. Take MS as an example. The Fed Gov decides it is going to use the Windows platform, which induces organizations which must deal closely with the Fed Gov, such as the states, to also adopt the Windows platform, and also induces private firms which have extensive dealing with any level of government to use Windows. Viola, the software market is now hideously distorted, driven by nothing more than the fact that the Fed Gov exists, it has to use some software, and it's generally going to buy as a monolithic block.

Ah. I didn't understand what

Ah. I didn't understand what you meant by that the first time you said it.
no sweat- it wasn't the most articulate sentence I've ever produced.

But by the same token, so is any non-libertarian (i.e. socialist) theory of mutual exchange of labor.
well there's the market socialist version that seems to avoid the trap quite nicely- any historical ownership whatsoever is unjust. Everyone works according to market value (subsistance level wages in some theories) and profits that accrue to rent and capital are put into a socialist fund allocated by need.

Nor do I think that my critique of authoritarian systems (democracy, feudalism, etc.) in any way "devastates" a libertarian theory of initial physical property ownership. Although a "finders keepers" homesteading theory may not be entirely satisfying, it is better than any other alternative theory I have heard, and it does not rely on any implied "social contract".
finders keepers is a sick joke for many countries. Try the United States, for instance- did we just find this continent uninhabited? Or was it more like a forcible removal and slaughter sort of thing. Speaking of difficulties though, it seems to me that "finders keepers" theory could apply to the Israel-Palistine situation in a way that you would find unpleasant.

first, I have never defended intellectual property rights on principle, although I have mentioned the possibility that they may be necessary in order to encourage certain kinds of desirable innovation.
I didn't mention intellectual property rights overtly. The invention doesn't have to be intellectual- maybe he can heal the blind or something. Nevertheless, what's important is that they "sold" him all the land.

Second, wealth is fairly dynamic - just because I am rich does not mean my children will remain rich and just because I am poor does not mean my children will remain poor.
class mobility has been decreasing, and is very limited in the US as compared with other industrialized countries, from what I've seen. Also, "wealth" being dynamic, even if it's true, is not an argument about this principle- was it dynamic under fuedalism? Is it okay for 99 percent of the population to starve so long as they can eat lavishly for a day (i.e. the presence of poverty and starvation being the problem- dynamic are unimportant if they don't alleviate it)? It's important to realize that the from "principle" is actually just an argument of prayer. i.e. prayer that this siutation won't/couldn't occur.

Take any original distribution of resources you prefer, but allow people the freedom to trade with each other. You will immediately encounter vast inequalities as millions of people willingly give a small portion of their assets to people like Wilt Chamberlain.
I'll think about this.

matt--you read too much into what I wrote. I object to corporations only in proportion to their use of the political means to advantage themselves or disadvantage their competitors.
I wasn't trying to imply that you would agree with everything that followed from that assertion.

I very much doubt that many of the huge corporations that exist today could have come about in a free market.
hmmm... possibly true. There's the problem of why the US has many more huge corporations than more "socialist" countries. There's also the frontier hypothesis- that huge corporations are able to pool together the neccesary power to pry open new markets... That means the problem won't go away until every country in the world is libertarian.

More importantly though- you guys (I'm assuming you're a libertarian- if not sorry) take that fact (heavy government support for corporations) to mean:
a. if government support goes away production and technology will increase at the same rate, if not a greater rate.
b. if government support goes away, the big companies will just recede into mid-level competitiveness.

The first has plenty of problems, but the second has more implications here. Is govt' support a sign of eveil government always meddling in our affairs? Or is it a sign that power will seek to sustain itself, irregardless of what means it has. The gov't is just the simplist means, presently. Were it not around you'd just get quasi-governmental institutions with essentially the same function. For a good example of this, there's a recent fortune article on CEO pay- they say it's more "invisible handshake" than invisible hand. The government has been fighting (though probably not that hard) to curb such excessive pay, so why does it exist? The same reason that the people don't revolt every time there's oppresion in their country. Power is just sustaining itself. And these are CEOs battling boards and shareholders- other powerful people.

I'd not heard the windows investor bloc theory...

-matt

well there's the market

well there's the market socialist version that seems to avoid the trap quite nicely- any historical ownership whatsoever is unjust.

Recall that my argument was about the mutual exchange of labor. Unless these socialists are willing to dispute an individual's right to self-ownership, and the right to own one's own labor that follows from it, I don't see how they have avoided the trap at all.

finders keepers is a sick joke for many countries.

That may very well be true historically, but you have said nothing to dispute the fundamental theory behind it. If an American Indian or Palestinian can demonstrate that a certain piece of property is rightfully his, I don't think any libertarians will dispute his claim.

class mobility has been decreasing, and is very limited in the US as compared with other industrialized countries, from what I've seen.

This is false. Europe has much less mobility than we do.

As for your response to Virginia, I certainly agree that power will seek to sustain itself; all the more reason to reduce the power of government that is all too often captured by businesses.

The government has been fighting (though probably not that hard) to curb such excessive pay, so why does it exist?

A better question to ask is: how do you know that it is excessive? Perhaps the shareholders believe that the value that these CEOs bring to the table is worth the generous compensation they receieve. And if the shareholders do no believe is so, what prevents them from either changing compensation (either directly or by replacing the board of directors) or taking their investments elsewhere, to other businesses that do not ineffeciently waste money on excessive executive compensation?

I'd like to return to the

I'd like to return to the original topic of this thread: free speech in the private sphere. For the sake of this argument, I'll concede to the socialist viewpoint and imagine a world where private property does not exist. In other words, all speech takes place on public property, and, if our First Amendment still applies, the government may not infringe upon an individual's right to free speech in any place and time.

Are you comfortable with this position Matt? When I wake you up in the middle of the night three weeks in a row shouting obscenities in your ear, will you still maintain the sanctity of free speech in what would otherwise be the private sphere in my world?

Recall that my argument was

Recall that my argument was about the mutual exchange of labor. Unless these socialists are willing to dispute an individual's right to self-ownership, and the right to own one's own labor that follows from it, I don't see how they have avoided the trap at all.
really? You can trade your labor all you want- you just can't own land, or "dead" labor (capital.) That is all publicly "owned."

That may very well be true historically, but you have said nothing to dispute the fundamental theory behind it. If an American Indian or Palestinian can demonstrate that a certain piece of property is rightfully his, I don't think any libertarians will dispute his claim.
"rightfully his" meaning it was his ancestor's land before we kicked them off? You might want to be more clear on this. Do you dispute that american indians were on the land? Or that descendants have no rights to it? If not, then do you "have no problem with" all of us moving back to other countries (and vastly overpopulating europe, mexico and africa)? Then what about wealth? How about a country that profited and sustained itself on the backs of slaves? What about people who are presently payed from such a company? Can of worms, indeed.

This is false. Europe has much less mobility than we do.
really? Can you cite me a source? (it doesn't have to be online.) I'll look for one as well... it's been awhile since I've seen mine.

As for your response to Virginia, I certainly agree that power will seek to sustain itself; all the more reason to reduce the power of government that is all too often captured by businesses.
centralized money is power as well. My point is that the services performed by government (in the corp's favor) will be duplicated, basically- but without a "public control" mechanism.

A better question to ask is: how do you know that it is excessive? Perhaps the shareholders believe that the value that these CEOs bring to the table is worth the generous compensation they receieve.
well that's pretty simple, once you get away from the exchange tautology. Aren't wages related to marginal productivity? And aren't CEOs laborers (ha)? Well then, please show me how Delta's CEO is 24 times as productive as a Japanese CEO.

And if the shareholders do no believe is so, what prevents them from either changing compensation (either directly or by replacing the board of directors) or taking their investments elsewhere, to other businesses that do not ineffeciently waste money on excessive executive compensation?
that's a good question... but it's a good one for you to answer. Right now you're saying "Please show me how your disputing information fits into my theory." That's your theory of perfect competition and decision always made in the name of economic efficiency. Perhaps power is more important.

really? You can trade your

really? You can trade your labor all you want- you just can't own land, or "dead" labor (capital.) That is all publicly "owned."

Ok, now that you have conceded the validity of the right to own and trade one's own labor, it necessarily follows that this will lead to vast inequalities (eg. Wilt Chamberlain argument). Egalitarianism is no longer a possibility and any socialist redistribution attempt is necessarily unjust.

As it relates to this argument, if two people agree to trade their labor with each other under the condition that certain kinds of speech will result in financial penalties and/or nullification of the contract, then you have conceded my point about free speech in the private domain.

Imagine that Hanscom agreed to trade his labor to Microsoft in exchange for their labor (or labor credits to be used elsewhere). If the terms of their contract stipulated that Microsoft could fire Hanscom at will (i.e. end the contract without penality), then Microsoft in no way violated Hanscom's right to free speech. Q.E.D.

"rightfully his" meaning it was his ancestor's land before we kicked them off? You might want to be more clear on this. Do you dispute that american indians were on the land? Or that descendants have no rights to it? If not, then do you "have no problem with" all of us moving back to other countries (and vastly overpopulating europe, mexico and africa)? Then what about wealth? How about a country that profited and sustained itself on the backs of slaves? What about people who are presently payed from such a company? Can of worms, indeed.

First of all, there are a number of legal solutions to these kinds of problems. Statute of limitations is one. Another is that possession is 9/10ths of the law - the burden of proof is on the person claiming someone else's property and not on the current owner. Inheritence is even tricker for the claiment to prove, especially after multiple generations. (For one must establish both that the property was unjustly taken and that it would have been passed on to a particular inheritor.)

really? Can you cite me a source? (it doesn't have to be online.) I'll look for one as well... it's been awhile since I've seen mine.

I'll have to look for one when I get a chance.

centralized money is power as well. My point is that the services performed by government (in the corp's favor) will be duplicated, basically- but without a "public control" mechanism.

Money certainly is power, but I don't have a problem with money or power - as long as it is used justly. The market already has a public control mechanism, and it doesn't suffer from political capture in the way that politics does. It's called competition.

Aren't wages related to marginal productivity?

Wages, like any commodity, are also related to supply and demand. Good CEOs seem to be in high demand and short supply in the US. Perhaps that is not the case in Japan. Also, are you claiming that Japan's CEOs are paid less than their US counterparts because of (what you believe to be proper) state intervention? I am not aware of any Japanese laws limiting CEO compensation. Are you?

In other words, you have no more demonstrated that US CEO compensation is excessive than I have demonstrated that Japanese CEO compensation is lacking.

Perhaps power is more important.

What power do CEOs have to prevent shareholders from limiting their pay if it is excessive? Shareholders have one goal in mind - increasing the value of their investment. If current CEO pay is too high and thus, an inefficient way to use shareholder capital, then why don't we see investors favoring companies that pay their executives less? You can't just ignore this question and place the burden of proof on me. You made the claim that CEO compensation is excessive. It is your responsibility to show that this is true, and explain why shareholders don't seem to care that their money is being wasted.

I get the feeling that

I get the feeling that you've forgotten what we were arguing about in the first place:

Ok, now that you have conceded the validity of the right to own and trade one's own labor, it necessarily follows that this will lead to vast inequalities (eg. Wilt Chamberlain argument). Egalitarianism is no longer a possibility and any socialist redistribution attempt is necessarily unjust.
what I said was "market socialism is a socialism that avoids these sorts of problems." The reason I didn't just argue the point with you is that I have already done so via e-mail. I agree that there will be inequality under market socialism (though under libertarian socialism there will also be inequality.) The important thing is that it solves the "taxation is theft" problem. This is all Owens , I think, by the way.

then you have conceded my point about free speech in the private domain.
First off, I haven't. If I wasn't clear enough, I do not endorse market socialism- I just think it's infinitely preferable to american libertarianism. Secondly I think market socialism solves the problem perfectly- there isn't much of a private domain.

First of all, there are a number of legal solutions to these kinds of problems. Statute of limitations is one. Another is that possession is 9/10ths of the law - the burden of proof is on the person claiming someone else's property and not on the current owner.
I'm reading David Foster Wallace's "Everything and More", about the history of infinity in mathematical thought. One of the interesting things in the book is a discussion of how a/(1-r) is not actually a solution to zeno's paradoxes, as is commonly taught. What it is instead is a way of solving inconsistancies- writing them out of existance. These laws are means for doing the same thing- they don't solve the ethical problems, they just say "let's forget about the ethical problems so we can have a legal system."

Inheritence is even tricker for the claiment to prove, especially after multiple generations. (For one must establish both that the property was unjustly taken and that it would have been passed on to a particular inheritor.)
You're verging on arguing with yourself at this point. You were the one claiming that Fuedalism could be contended with by looking at the history of property relations. Now you're saying it can't. Because property is 9/10s. and because the serfs would have to prove in court (and I'm oh so sure that it would be unbiased in either case) that they would have been granted the land? Won't even push that much further... it's pretty obvious.

Money certainly is power, but I don't have a problem with money or power - as long as it is used justly. The market already has a public control mechanism, and it doesn't suffer from political capture in the way that politics does. It's called competition.
Since money is power, and power will seek to preserve itself... then you are arguing that competition will eliminate any huge powers. We should keep in mind the argument that "cycling" powers won't do people much good- though I imagine that you'll claim centralized power will be eliminated altogether. This is where I really leave the dock:
If we just have faith in the power of the markets, and truly give ourselves to these markets (relinquish all control), then we will rise to the kingdom of heaven. That is very unpersuasive to me. You are advocating lack of public control because of some doctrine of faith.

Good CEOs seem to be in high demand and short supply in the US. Perhaps that is not the case in Japan. Also, are you claiming that Japan's CEOs are paid less than their US counterparts because of (what you believe to be proper) state intervention? I am not aware of any Japanese laws limiting CEO compensation.
Did I claim it was because of state intervention? I don't remember that. Anyway, unless CEOs have a vertical supply curve (like a Picasso), I don't see how you can be claiming that there is such high demand for american CEOs, yet we don't see a brain drain or whatever. Something smells fishy about that. More importantly though- Fortune, that crazy marxist periodical, has already debunked all your arguments here.

here ya go:
"The shortage of CEOs is a myth." Graef Crystal puts it in Econ 101 terms: "If pay is rising, it's going to be due either to a change in supply or to a change in demand. Has there been a decrease in the supply of CEOs? No. And the business schools are churning out more people every year. Is there an increase in demand? For every company like ITT that splits into three, there are 100 that merge. So if anything, CEO pay should be sinking."

Why, then, isn't it? Because for all CEOs' free-market rhetoric, their pay has less to do with the market's invisible hand than with the invisible handshake. Studies have shown a link between a CEOs' pay and how much the people on their compensation committee make in their day jobs--often as CEOs at other companies. Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg (2002 comp: $22.4 million), for instance, sits on the comp committee for Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone (2002 comp: $39.5 million). "Everybody is stroking everybody else," says Herb Sandler, co-CEO of Golden West Financial, whose comp last year was just $1.3 million. "It's sort of like the Golden Rule gone wrong," says Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khurana. "CEOs do unto others as they would have them do unto them."

The important thing is that

The important thing is that it solves the "taxation is theft" problem.

Not if that taxation is coming from labor or labor transactions.

Secondly I think market socialism solves the problem perfectly- there isn't much of a private domain.

How does this solve the problem? Perhaps you missed my previous post in this thread (at November 6, 2003 06:47 PM), where I asked how committed you would be to free speech in the absence of a private domain.

These laws are means for doing the same thing- they don't solve the ethical problems, they just say "let's forget about the ethical problems so we can have a legal system."

I certainly agree that they don't solve the ethical problems - of course, that is the whole point: without adequate information and evidence, it is impossible for us humans to solve these sorts of problems in a fair way. These solutions approximate ethical solutions, but if you have a better alternative to determine where property should go after thousands of years, I'd be glad to hear it.

You're verging on arguing with yourself at this point. You were the one claiming that Fuedalism could be contended with by looking at the history of property relations. Now you're saying it can't. Because property is 9/10s.

Good point, and here we must distinguish between ethical claims and practical legal claims. Ethically, feudalism (and all forms of government for that matter) is wrong, as is taking away someone else's land. Practically, we must have rules for how to go about determining what property belongs to whom. So if I was living in a feudalistic system, I could certainly make ethical claims against it, but my legal claims would probably be moot, because as you said, the law would be controlled by the dominant hierarchy.

Since money is power, and power will seek to preserve itself... then you are arguing that competition will eliminate any huge powers.

I'm not making any absolute predictions - it is quite possible that competition will fail in eliminating any huge powers. I believe that over time competition will work in this way, but I can't claim any absolute knowledge that this will be the case.

If we just have faith in the power of the markets, and truly give ourselves to these markets (relinquish all control), then we will rise to the kingdom of heaven. That is very unpersuasive to me. You are advocating lack of public control because of some doctrine of faith.

And in the same way, you are advocating public control because of some doctrine of faith that public control will adequately contrain power. If we just have faith in the power of democracy, and truly give ourselves to this public control(relinquish all private control), then we will rise to the kingdom of heaven and the oceans will be filled with lemonade.

Because for all CEOs' free-market rhetoric, their pay has less to do with the market's invisible hand than with the invisible handshake.

I don't dispute that CEOs are granted very generous benefits by compensation committees that are made up of other CEOs, and thus have an interest in scratching each other's backs. But this still doesn't explain why shareholders tolerate this and continues to allocate their investment resources to companies which you claim are operation inefficiently. Why don't we see investors taking their money to Japan?

Not if that taxation is

Not if that taxation is coming from labor or labor transactions.
I don't know if you're familiar with Owens, but he says that since capital is dead labor, it is unownable. Factories and the means of production produce rents and profits (according to many, and it is mainstream thought I believe) which then go where? That's what would cover taxation- you wouldn't have to tax anything.

How does this solve the problem? Perhaps you missed my previous post in this thread (at November 6, 2003 06:47 PM), where I asked how committed you would be to free speech in the absence of a private domain.
me personally? Very commited, I'd say. Would you only be committed to the extent that people own property? So people could be granted no free speech at all, supposing that they owned nothing. Sounds like a perfect Plutocracy.

These solutions approximate ethical solutions, but if you have a better alternative to determine where property should go after thousands of years, I'd be glad to hear it.
Oh I don't. I'm just not commiting myself to "just aquisition" theories and other such Martian nonsense as a rationale for my beliefs.

So if I was living in a feudalistic system, I could certainly make ethical claims against it, but my legal claims would probably be moot, because as you said, the law would be controlled by the dominant hierarchy.
right. Back to my original point: libertarianism has nothing to say about property relations that doesn't undermine its own position.

And in the same way, you are advocating public control because of some doctrine of faith that public control will adequately contrain power. If we just have faith in the power of democracy, and truly give ourselves to this public control(relinquish all private control),
I would modify this a bit, but yeah the point is valid.

But this still doesn't explain why shareholders tolerate this and continues to allocate their investment resources to companies which you claim are operation inefficiently. Why don't we see investors taking their money to Japan?
You want my opinion? This is a question for you to answer, I believe. My opinion though, as that at a certain point Power outpaces wealth as a desirable goal. Inefficient conglomerations of interests (like redstone and the other guy) are created to sustain power, regardless of its effects (within reason) of wealth. Competition for wealth stops doing its job.

me personally? Very

me personally? Very commited, I'd say. Would you only be committed to the extent that people own property? So people could be granted no free speech at all, supposing that they owned nothing. Sounds like a perfect Plutocracy.

So, according to the example I gave in my previous post, you would have no problem if I came into your house (not really your house since it is public property) at 3:00AM every night and yelled obscenities in your children's ears?

Also, for someone who is in favor of restrictions on political advertisements, you seem to be very selective in your support for free speech.

I'm just not commiting myself to "just aquisition" theories and other such Martian nonsense as a rationale for my beliefs.

But the point is, these same criticisms apply to socialism. The "commune" has no more of a legitimate claim to ownership than an initial acquisitor.

"So if I was living in a feudalistic system, I could certainly make ethical claims against it, but my legal claims would probably be moot, because as you said, the law would be controlled by the dominant hierarchy."
right. Back to my original point: libertarianism has nothing to say about property relations that doesn't undermine its own position.

Wrong. Libertarianism, as I have repeatedly demonstrated, has much to say about unjust acquisitions. Just because we may not know enough details in specific circumstances such as multi-generational inheritence does not mean that we do not know enough to challenge the legitimacy of feudalism, especially when the feudal lords claim as "property" those serfs which live under them. No libertarian conception of property allows for such a situation.

And in the same way, you are advocating public control because of some doctrine of faith that public control will adequately contrain power. If we just have faith in the power of democracy, and truly give ourselves to this public control(relinquish all private control),
I would modify this a bit, but yeah the point is valid.

So it all comes down to which do you think is more effective: democracy or competition. Considering the economic literature on each (notably, public choice econ), I fell pretty confident that mine is the stronger argument.

My opinion though, as that at a certain point Power outpaces wealth as a desirable goal. Inefficient conglomerations of interests (like redstone and the other guy) are created to sustain power, regardless of its effects (within reason) of wealth. Competition for wealth stops doing its job.

This doesn't answer my question. Why would investors choose inefficient firms over efficient firms? They gain no power interest from doing so. Their only interest is wealth.

So, according to the example

So, according to the example I gave in my previous post, you would have no problem if I came into your house (not really your house since it is public property) at 3:00AM every night and yelled obscenities in your children's ears?
well, you didn't answer my plutocracy question. But as for this- yes I would have a problem. The principle that I would use isn't "all property is unjust" but "any authority must justify itself." There are plenty of times when authority is justified- if you were about to accidentally walk into the path of an oncoming truck, I might be justified in physically restraining you (or "violating your right to unobstructed motion" without your consent). If I want to own my own toothbrush, that'd also be justifiable. If I thought property rights akin to "I have the right not to obscenities screamed in my children's ears in my place of residence" were justifiable (as I do) we don't have much of a problem there either.

Also, for someone who is in favor of restrictions on political advertisements, you seem to be very selective in your support for free speech.
why must we always conflate spending with speech? There's a difference, in principle.

But the point is, these same criticisms apply to socialism. The "commune" has no more of a legitimate claim to ownership than an initial acquisitor.
Foucalt was very worried about trying to explain "socialism" because he was afraid that it would be tainted by present-day terms. I don't buy that as much, but certainly you can see past your own nose- they don't need "ownership." Ownership (by which I assume you mean "totalitarian control") would typically (i assume) be regarded as unjust.

Libertarianism, as I have repeatedly demonstrated, has much to say about unjust acquisitions. Just because we may not know enough details in specific circumstances such as multi-generational inheritence does not mean that we do not know enough to challenge the legitimacy of feudalism,
you are stubborn aren't you? You are totally going back a few posts to old arguments. You already said that you would be unable to challenge it legally. Also, without such knowledge, how could you even make the moral argument?


especially when the feudal lords claim as "property" those serfs which live under them. No libertarian conception of property allows for such a situation.

the feudal lords could have very easily "contracted" with the serfs, given that all the land was owned- where would they go? The serfs were hardly happy when they were forced off the land (or "given their freedom") during the enclosure movements starting in 12th century.

So it all comes down to which do you think is more effective: democracy or competition. Considering the economic literature on each (notably, public choice econ), I fell pretty confident that mine is the stronger argument.
depends on what your goal is. I'm not convinced that competition will take place to a sufficient degree to prevent a giant monopolization. So long as authority must justify itself, I feel confident that such a totalitarian state of affairs will not exist. All that it takes for your system to fail is the failure of an abstract argument. Or, recognizing that the laissez-faire argument is most effectively couched in the long-term, a temporary "failure" (and under many free market theories, they wouldn't really be failures at all, because the market is supposedto be self-correcting, not omniescent) might be all it takes. A company interested in preserving itself could just buy an army, or align itself with a few "private armies" once it got sufficient means.

This doesn't answer my question. Why would investors choose inefficient firms over efficient firms? They gain no power interest from doing so. Their only interest is wealth.
because competition fails. Any other company sufficiently large to compete faces the same power problem; associations like those described in the fortune article are already taking place. Investors then must choose from the lesser of two evils. Like I said though (three different times), I think you should answer this question.