The Culling Of Altruism (Not)

I have another response to Henry Farrell's argument against markets in Live-8 concert tickets. He states,

Julian Sanchez and Lynne Kiesling say very rude things about Bob Geldof’s campaign to stop the sale of tickets to the Live-8 concerts on eBay (BBC story here). Julian describes this as “idiotic” and Lynne describes it as “wooly thinking about economics.” It’s neither. There’s an excellent rationale for what Geldof did. The tickets were initially distributed through a lottery, in which people sent instant-text messages to an address for a fee; a small percentage of the two million who sent the messages got tickets. It’s safe to assume that those who participated in this lottery did so for a mix of reasons; partly charitable, partly a desire to go to the concert. But altruistic motivations can be driven out by market mechanisms. Richard Titmuss wrote a famous book a few decades ago, The Gift Relationship, which provided a fair amount of empirical evidence to show that this was true in the case of blood donations, and that purely voluntary systems of blood donation did better on a variety of counts than did systems where some people were paid to donate blood (see also this paper by Kieran which touches on Titmuss’s arguments). On this logic, Geldof did exactly the right thing. If tickets to the concerts became commodities to be bought and sold on the open market, it’s highly plausible that future participation in lotteries of this kind would be seriously hurt. Geldof’s actions are perfectly defensible.

Initially there were 2 million people who applied for tickets via lottery. What were their motivations? Were they purely charitable, wanting to aid those suffering in Africa? Were they purely self-serving, merely wanting to see their favorite bands play live? Or were they motivated by both? As Henry states, it was likely a mix of both sentiments, though the exact fraction of each motivation will never be known.

When the tickets were auctioned on E-bay, they were subject to the market-clearing system. Relative to the initial owners of the tickets - the sellers, how altrustic were the final owners of the tickets - the buyers? It's far from clear. The fact that some of the people who won the tickets through a lottery were willing to sell them on E-bay shows that they probably had little-to-no concern for those suffering in Africa. It might even be that those who did the buying on E-bay wanted to attend the concert for altrustic reasons. There is a good chance that many of them were the ones who had applied for the lottery in the first place.

What's most likely is that both the initial post-lottery distribution of ticket owners and the post-Ebay distribution of ticket owners were of a mostly similar composition of people who simply wanted to see the Live 8 concert regardless of any side-benefits. The conclusion that altruism was somehow culled by the market has no evidence to support it.


The argument that voluntary systems do better than market systems at a "variety of counts" reminds me of the arguments used in the past by the United Network for Organ Sharing as justification for disallowing a fee for exchange of organs. Though it appears to have been removed from the website since the last time I checked, this article provides the following statement from a UNOS spokesman.


A spokesman for the group stated, "Donor families have told us it's something they see as a wonderful legacy. Because folks see it as a gift, they would really be deterred by putting a financial incentive on it."

It's a stunning rationalization of twice as many deaths per year as died in the 9/11 attacks because of a profound lack of understanding of economics. While the chronic shortages of blood may not be as deleterious as chronic shortages of vital organs, both are unnecessary, and those who refuse to acknowledge it because of strong intuitions against markets only continue to promote unnecessary suffering. It's a shame that in the 21st century, people are willing to argue that the supply of a scarce good decreases with increasing price, that somehow there would be fewer people donating organs if they were rewarded with more than simply a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about themselves.

Not that this has anything to do with Geldof's outrage other than common intuitions against profit. The E-bay market didn't make Geldof lose any money that he had already collected via the lottery. It didn't hurt any Africans. Geldof is simply offended at the very idea of profit. And while in this case, his outrage has no real detrimental effects, those same intutions, when channeled appropriately - for example, towards a market for organs - can cause needless suffering on a lofty scale.

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Micha, "The fraud argument

Micha,

"The fraud argument is bogus. Most importantly, it’s uninteresting - the kind of dogmatic libertarianism we here at Catallarchy try to avoid."

It is neither bogus, dogmatic nor (intellectually) uninteresting. Unfortunately much too much of what passes for 'libertarianism' here is merely confused and pretentious undergraduate casuistry and you, in particular, mistake a fetish for economic theory with a concern for liberty.

Henry. Fair enough. The

Henry. Fair enough. The only defense of Micha I'll make is that he did indeed make a specific argument when he brought up the example of Tivos and milk to compare with blood. Not a sophisticated argument, but wasn't really meant to be as far I can see (especially with reference to the unfrozen caveman lawyer reference.)

Rich. Do you consider yourself a socialist? What is the difference in your mind between a socialist and a communist?

Scott, like it or not,

Scott, like it or not, community standards do indeed set bounds on civility, as with all other social conventions.

I'm nearly positive I disagree.

Suppose our community made a habit of killing visitors. Some kill a lot and some kill a little -- there're your bounds. Would it thus be ok if you shot a few?

Okay, I've come up with some

Okay, I've come up with some good arguments for the other side. As Dr. Farrell and others have reminded us, the aim of the concert was not to raise money from attendees, but to convince attendees to lobby their governments to give other people's money to other governments, the organizers could afford to sacrifice ticket revenues in order to further the primary goal. This gives us:

1. Since support for wealth redistribution tends to correlate negatively with income, they had a good reason to avoid an allocation system that would select in favor of people who could afford expensive tickets.

2. The use of a text-messaging lottery may also have been calculated to reach a favorable demographic: people who are young and not wealthy enough to have a personal interest in keeping taxes down, but also not members of the politically inert underclass.

3. The guilt factor. Those who win the tickets will see them as a gift, and perhaps feel that they owe it to the organizers to uphold their end of an implicit bargain.

The minimum for reasoned

The minimum for reasoned debate is some understanding of the other person’s political philosophy, and willingness to engage in reasoned argument. You’ve failed that test miserably.

Henry, if Micha has not reached the minimum standard for reasoned debate, one wonders then why you insist on continuing the debate. Condescending phrases like "You really need to be doing better than this" and "Grow up a little and learn how to argue. At the moment you’re simply embarrassing yourself" are neither constructive nor civil. If they are otherwise valid, it does not give one license to "stoop to another's level."

It's amazing how perceived bad behavior makes some people think it justifies similarly bad behavior on their own part.

Look, libertarians want

Look, libertarians want business freedom, right?

Not necessarily. We want freedom, but that includes the freedom of both businessmen and consumers. And I'm also concerned with net social welfare and charity, one of the values Geldof presumably shares.

If you have less regulation, or if you have less “socialized law enforcement” and more “machinery of freedom", this is a sample of what you will get – enforcement via celebrity, rich people making odd economic rules for their properties, moral values of various kinds starting to appear within business transactions, blatent displays of personal power.

Sure, but that doesn't mean we can't criticize people for making bad decisions.

That’s why it’s so strange when some people here keep bringing up “taxpayer money"; there was no taxpayer money involved in this case.

That was in response to anti-scalping arguments in general, and not this particular incident. Though I would be very surprised if there are no police at the event cracking down on scalpers.

Wyno - yes, I do think that

Wyno - yes, I do think that people bear some responsibility for the ideas that they support. Ideas are important, and have real, material consequences - that's why we argue over them. I do think that there's sometimes an unhelpful slippage that happens (I'm vigorously opposed to the Iraq war, but I posted last year attacking Duncan Black for insinuating that Glenn Reynolds and others were to blame for it). But I simply don't see that Micha's claim, as I understood it, that people like me were responsible for nearly killing his father, contributed to that debate. If he wants to make a serious contribution he (or you) need to make the claim stick that in fact market solutions _do_ provide a superior solution to voluntary systems of donation, through a mixture of evidence and plausible argument. Which is an entirely legitimate exercise; as would be the efforts of someone who disagreed with you to show that the opposite was true. Unless you're truly convinced that "government is fundamentally evil" or that "markets are fundamentally evil," it's beholden on you to show why government or markets or voluntarism or whatever is the best solution for the _specific_ problem that you're interested in. If you genuinely do believe that government or markets or whatever are evil, then you don't have to do this - but you shouldn't expect that others who don't share this fundamental conviction are going to find your claims either convincing or interesting.

Micha, I’m not really

Micha,

I’m not really clear on why my behavior is any worse then Henry’s (not that I am conceding that my behavior is bad or inappropriate in the first place). I have avoided ad hominems, avoided personal insults, and attacked Henry’s arguments. For the most part, he has done the same. To the extent that organ markets would solve the organ shortage, and to the extent that this has not happened yet because people like Henry are worried about “commodification” and other silly nonsense, I have a legitimate gripe against the anti-market-fundamentalists for almost killing my father. Emotional, yes. Inappropriate, no.

You started out by calling Henry knee-jerk anti-market in a post that was meant--I assume--to be humorous. And it was. Calling him knee-jerk anti-market was, I imagine, an exaggeration, or perhaps you're attaching a different connotation to the term than we are. There's nothing wrong with being funny or exaggerating, but after Henry showed up on this thread, rather than pass it off as a joke or something of the sort, you tried to substantiate that exaggeration and--in my opinion at least--failed to do so. The effect was you seem to be insulting him, even if that was not your intent.

My guess is that this unpleasantness is because there's been a confluence of styles here--humorous post meets commenter who wants a serious rebuttal and people start talking over each others' head. Eventually it escalated. Were it me, I'd apologize for the misunderstanding and continue what could be a productive debate. Or not.

As to being emotionally involved, there's certainly nothing wrong with that--it just can make a person see the topic in a different light, one which can make other people seem more argumentative (or "knee-jerk anti-market") than they really are.

I know I have the same problem.

For example, remember that time Instapunit wrote: "Hey! Guys who have too much sex appeal have got it easy!" Most people agreed, and there was no objection. But they don't know what it's like to have too much sex appeal, like I do. To be kept up at all hours of the afternoon by phone calls from women you barely know or only slept with six or seven times or so, to have gals constantly sizing you up like a piece of meat, to have nobody interested in your mind or personality--it's torture. And so not surprisingly, being emotionally invested as I was, I wrote that post--you remember the one--where I called Glenn Reynolds a "Super-sized DoucheBurger who is both an asshole and an anus."

In retrospect, I was overreacting, and everybody here pointed that out.

So I apologized to him. As you know, the InstaDouche and I became good friends and went duck hunting together that weekend.

Micha, I’m not really

Micha,

I’m not really clear on why my behavior is any worse then Henry’s (not that I am conceding that my behavior is bad or inappropriate in the first place). I have avoided ad hominems, avoided personal insults, and attacked Henry’s arguments. For the most part, he has done the same. To the extent that organ markets would solve the organ shortage, and to the extent that this has not happened yet because people like Henry are worried about “commodification” and other silly nonsense, I have a legitimate gripe against the anti-market-fundamentalists for almost killing my father. Emotional, yes. Inappropriate, no.

You started out by calling Henry knee-jerk anti-market in a post that was meant--I assume--to be humorous. And it was. Calling him knee-jerk anti-market was, I imagine, an exaggeration, or perhaps you're attaching a different connotation to the term than we are. There's nothing wrong with being funny or exaggerating, but after Henry showed up on this thread, rather than pass it off as a joke or something of the sort, you tried to substantiate that exaggeration and--in my opinion at least--failed to do so. The effect was you seem to be insulting him, even if that was not your intent.

My guess is that this unpleasantness is because there's been a confluence of styles here--humorous post meets commenter who wants a serious rebuttal and people start talking over each others' head. Eventually it escalated. Were it me, I'd apologize for the misunderstanding and continue what could be a productive debate. Or not.

As to being emotionally involved, there's certainly nothing wrong with that--it just can make a person see the topic in a different light, one which can make other people seem more argumentative (or "knee-jerk anti-market") than they really are.

I know I have the same problem.

For example, remember that time Instapunit wrote: "Hey! Guys who have too much sex appeal have got it easy!" Most people agreed, and there was no objection. But they don't know what it's like to have too much sex appeal, like I do. To be kept up at all hours of the afternoon by phone calls from women you barely know or only slept with six or seven times or so, to have gals constantly sizing you up like a piece of meat, to have nobody interested in your mind or personality--it's torture. And so not surprisingly, being emotionally invested as I was, I wrote that post--you remember the one--where I called Glenn Reynolds a "Super-sized DoucheBurger who is both an asshole and an anus."

In retrospect, I was overreacting, and everybody here pointed that out.

So I apologized to him. As you know, the InstaDouche and I became good friends and went duck hunting together that weekend.

Paul's right, any

Paul's right, any interference with scalpers at the event would be by private security guards -- also an anarcho-capitalist solution. And in general I congratulate Leonard as being an AC who has the courage to accept the implications of his philosophy. Micha's "I'm also concerned with consumers" -- none of whom were harmed in this case -- just indicates that he hasn't really thought about his politics.

The civility comments by libertarians grow more and more nonsensical. Whatever Micha believes about his own writing, he was not in fact being civil. For instance, humor used as an element of ridicule is not civil, otherwise people would not have been so heated about my "Non-Libertarian FAQ". Scott, like it or not, community standards do indeed set bounds on civility, as with all other social conventions.

And Wyno, you're going down a slippery slope. Remember that from my point of view, the libertarians here are supporters of killers, and people like Micha directly so, despite their noble intentions. Sending neoliberal economists to advise and influence Russia, for example, caused more deaths than any other event in the late 20th century. If you want to start blaming Henry for socialism, don't be surprised when you start getting blamed for the many who die every year in the U.S. from inadequate medical care. Certainly I'd say that libertarians are better than Communists, but you've supported the deaths of a lot more people than socialists have. I think it's better to not open up that can of worms at all.

"Though I would be very

"Though I would be very surprised if there are no police at the event cracking down on scalpers."

Scalping, except for tickets to football matches for which there is special statute provision, is not a crime in the UK and is of no interest to the police. Part of Geldof's fury with e-bay was that there was no legal remedy open to him despite the fact that his tickets all stated they were non transferable the law in the UK does not recognise that provision. Far from Bob free riding on state law his plans are actually being thwarted by it.

I'm not sure if some people

I'm not sure if some people simply don't own TVs but these "silly pictures" are from a well-known Saturday night live skit about an unfrozen caveman lawyer. Humor is lost on more than a few.

Henry - I won't defend some of the accusations made against you, but I want to ask you a question sincerely. Do you believe you bear any responsibility for people who suffer due to policies you support? You may not believe so, but I do believe that not having a market for blood creates shortages, and while you may disagree, supposing it were true, how much do responsibility do you bear?

I assure you I'm not calling you a communist, as I'm sure you're not one, but many intellectuals have supported communism, and my personal opinion (which you may disagree with) is that they bear at least some of the blame for what happened in communist countries. When people die as a result of policies you loudly support, are you absolved because of your noble intentions?

I'm not really clear on why

I'm not really clear on why my behavior is any worse then Henry's (not that I am conceding that my behavior is bad or inappropriate in the first place). I have avoided ad hominems, avoided personal insults, and attacked Henry's arguments. For the most part, he has done the same. To the extent that organ markets would solve the organ shortage, and to the extent that this has not happened yet because people like Henry are worried about "commodification" and other silly nonsense, I have a legitimate gripe against the anti-market-fundamentalists for almost killing my father. Emotional, yes. Inappropriate, no.

Brandon, I think you've got

Brandon, I think you've got it. I don't expect you to agree with the aims of the concert organizers, but it's far better for you to understand and disagree than to say that his means are somehow wrong because they don't lead to *your* ends. For example, Micha writes:

"Geldof is the one complaining about the unintended consequences of his own actions. We’re just trying to show that these consequences are an inevitable result of his irrational pricing strategies. How is that a misunderstanding of economic efficiency?"

But Geldof's complaint also serves his ends. By doing so, he gains tremendous publicity for the concert, and also solidifies solidarity among his young concert-goers, who can now imagine themselves united in opposition to unethical profiteers. It doesn't matter if he pisses off libertarians in the process; they were never his target audience in the first place.

Don't get me wrong; I still think that Micha's "economic efficiency" is nonsense; the total take from a series of concerts would be less if the tickets were sold for the maximum obtainable than if they were sold through this kind of lottery, because whether Micha likes it or not people do feel that business and charity conflict. But that's the even the main error that people here were making.

Oops, last sentence should

Oops, last sentence should be "That's *not* even the main error ..."

But Geldof's complaints also

But Geldof's complaints also serve his ends. By doing so, he gains tremendous publicity for the concert [...]

True, this was my take as well. I don't think he's so naïve, despite what I suggested in my other comment.

He was as sure as the sun rising in the east that those "non-transferable" tickets were going to be re-sold at what the market would pay. Why bother with printed names and photo IDs? Why bother with first-come-first-serve selling? Why would he expend a tiny bit of extra energy and easily nip his problem in the bud? Just wait for the transactions to begin, and then feign 'shock and disappointment'. As if on cue, numerous articles and hundreds of blogs (both criticizing and defending him) covered the story, including some 60-some total comments on this one alone, providing the pub he wanted.

Whether or not anyone agrees/disagrees with his politics, economics, method of ticket distribution, or whatnot, he was a savvy publicity manager on this one. One could say he played the businessman game strikingly similar to the craftiest advertising guru on Madison Avenue. Might as well give credit where credit is due.

Doug, I still don't

Doug, I still don't understand what the problem is. It is not a "tiny bit of extra energy" to check photo IDs at the concert; it sounds like it would take a lot of person-hours, it isn't generally done, and it sounds like an invitation to potentially hazardous crowd control problems. There was a big stir when Glastonbury started doing it this year. Is it typical for libertarians to think that people should use precautionary measures that are not standard for their industry? If so, there are a number of chemical manufacturing plants that I'd like to direct your attention to.

But at a more abstract level, the whole attitude towards Geldof is so odd. Look, libertarians want business freedom, right? Well, this is it. If you have less regulation, or if you have less "socialized law enforcement" and more "machinery of freedom", this is a sample of what you will get -- enforcement via celebrity, rich people making odd economic rules for their properties, moral values of various kinds starting to appear within business transactions, blatent displays of personal power. You can not choose the arrangements you'd like and not also choose their results. That's why it's so strange when some people here keep bringing up "taxpayer money"; there was no taxpayer money involved in this case. It was a pure example of anarcho-capitalist law enforcement.

...it sounds like it would

...it sounds like it would take a lot of person-hours, it isn't generally done, and it sounds like an invitation to potentially hazardous crowd control problems.

Yeah, it'd take some extra person-hours, and it generally isn't done. But given Geldof's firey reaction (I think we can both admit it went beyond just an "aw shucks"), I would imagine that hiring some college-aged ticket checkers at the gates to check a ticket and ID wouldn't be a precursor to free-for-all mayhem. If a few waywards managed to sneak in, no big deal. We're not talking airport security here. Geldof still satisfies his original intention.

But at a more abstract level, the whole attitude towards Geldof is so odd. Look, libertarians want business freedom, right? Well, this is it.

Absolutely, and he just got served a valuable business lesson.

A store-owner doesn't open his doors at 9 am, leave a jar on the counter that reads "Please Pay Money into Jar", go home, return to his store at 5 pm, and expect the exact monetary proceeds to be left in the jar. (Reminds me a bit of the opening scene of Clerks)

Likewise, if Geldof wanted to make extra demands on the tickets (that is, the original buyers must absolutely, positively be the participants), he needed to hire extra resources to see this through. If that required some additional labor hours, then so be it. Maybe he'll apply what he learned to his next gig.

But, as I already said, he ain't stupid and I'd wager he knew the outcome before it all began. This has given him a perfect opportunity - via controversy - to draw awareness to the concerts. Again, it was crafty. Kudos to him.

Trent - in trying to defend

Trent - in trying to defend a co-blogger, you're making the very common mistake of confusing bluntness with bad behaviour. Reasoned debate is not about stroking each other's self-esteem in a group hug session - and when someone deviates substantially from the minimum expected standards of conversation, it isn't bad behaviour to point it out trenchantly, in order to help prevent it from happening again. Micha began pretty badly. I provided an argument which he didn't bother to even begin to try to rebut - instead relying on the claim that I was "knee-jerk anti-market" and possessed of an"irrational hatred of markets." I don't especially mind being attacked in vigorous language; but when someone accuses me of frothing at the mouth when it comes to markets, and then goes on to claim that I consistently engage in anti-market "rantings," then they'd better be able to put their money where their mouth is, and come up with some evidence to show that this is true. And accusing people like me of nearly killing his father isn't a legitimate debate tool - it's a rather immature effort to escape from debate by playing an emotional trump card.

I can understand why you want to defend a co-blogger - but I trust that you will understand that I don't find a simple claim that I'm engaging in "bad behaviour" convincing without a reasoned account of _why_ it's bad behaviour. To show that I'm behaving badly in pointing out, as I see it, that Micha is embarrassing himself, I think you'd have to show that he was in fact correct in arguing that that I'm an anti-market raver, or at the least come up with some justification for why making the claim that I'm possessed of irrational hatred of the market and tossing in emotional claims about his father are useful contributions to debate. Absent such a justification, your claim seems to me to reduce down to "it's bad behaviour because you're hurting his feelings." Which, as I say, doesn't cut much ice for me. Sometimes hurting people's feelings is a necessary part of letting them know that they're behaving badly.

Brandon - obviously I wouldn't cast it in the specific terms that you have, but I do think that your claim points to the underlying point that maximizing collective political action is not the same thing as maximizing revenue. And to the extent that Geldof was trying to do the former rather than the latter, there's a plausible rationale for his actions.

Rich, I agree with you. ACs

Rich, I agree with you. ACs do want this sort of economic liberty, and I expect in anarchy we will see innovative uses of property to achieve peculiar ends.

The "economic" point here has also been of the form: if Geldof had (different ends than he has), then he ought to... I agree with a lot of this analysis, but it does miss the point. Geldof's ends are his own, and I don't see that the use of his property that he chose is clearly inferior as a means to attain them. And in any case, even if his means are inferior, well, that's his business, not mine.

I don't see any reason why someone needs to take extraordinary or even ordinary measures to protect his property. Of course, to the extent that property is easy to transfer, transfer is likely to happen, at least in this society. So you can't be surprised by the outcome. But you still have the right to decry it and to do what you will to stop it.

Whether or not anyone

Whether or not anyone agrees/disagrees with his politics, economics, method of ticket distribution, or whatnot, he was a savvy publicity manager on this one.

I'm skeptical that he predicted this would happen and wanted it to happen as a publicity stunt.

Kennedy: It also seems to

Kennedy:

It also seems to that during the concert Geldof and his cohorts would find it easier to whip up and persuade people who’ll invest $1200 to see them than people who were just willing to invest a phone call.

Maybe not. Linda Ronstadt found out the hard way that people who pay good money for entertainment don't want a lecture on the side.

Leonard, As you describe it,

Leonard,

As you describe it, he "feels" - but can't articulate - the argument that you and Henry are making. I think he simply "feels" outrage at the juxtaposition of profit with the concert, not the same thing. While I think that intuition/instinct of the sort you describe has some role in the epistemological process, I also think it's important to be skeptical of our intuitions. Many on the left have this same sort of "feeling" at people working jobs for what they consider a low wage, but then that same feeling stimulates them to support laws that make those jobs illegal. Many on the left and right "feel" outrage when the local plant shuts down due to competition from China and without thinking things through support policies that impoverish the poor. I suspect this is where a lot of Micha's incense came from: the same type of "feeling" Geldof has is channeled into policies that kill (at a personal level).

I can't relate to the analogy with war. From what I can see, a lot of lefties are against the war because their side are not the ones waging it. Similarly, a lot of righties are for it because their leader is waging it and would be vocally against it otherwise. If Gore was leading the same war, I think most lefties would consider it a war of liberation. I don't consider the war "deeply wrong". I just don't trust the government to do much of anything right. Bourne doesn't do much for me.

Why LIVE 8 won't

Why LIVE 8 won't work.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15 minute break at Gleneagles (in Scotland) and sees ANNIE LENNOX singing SWEET DREAMS and thinks,

Brandon - I answered your

Brandon - I answered your point, insofar as I could understand it, in the comment section to my own post, spelling out at length the mechanism that was involved. I’d suggest you go back there and read it if you are still confused.

I've read it several times, and I referred to it in my comment above. But it's unclear at best. For example, when you say, "Behave expressively in a relatively cheap way," are you referring to entering the lottery, to attending the concert, or to both? Are you saying that people who enter the lottery and lose would be encouraged to protest or do whatever it is they're supposed to do, but some will be discouraged from doing so because, due to the fact that a small percentage of the winners sold their tickets at a profit, others have come to view their actions as purely self-interested?

I might make analogy to the

I might make analogy to the left’s feeling about war here. They are against it, not on any fancy articulate basis (though many of them have that, too), but because they see that it hurts people, that it is deeply wrong. Recall the film of that grieving mother in Iraq? I do.

Recall the left's defense of Stalin?

The left is against the war because their political adversaries are for it, case closed.

Brandon - I answered your

Brandon - I answered your point, insofar as I could understand it, in the comment section to my own post, spelling out at length the mechanism that was involved. I'd suggest you go back there and read it if you are still confused.

Gift exchange and cash - the point here being precisely that gift exchange isn't a market transaction, and is driven out by the market. You can argue about the relative benefits of gift exchange and monetary exchange, but they're very different and largely antithetical logics. If you want one, you're more or less excluding the other. If you want to find out more about this, the classic text is Marshall Sahlin's "Stone Age Economics." For a more rational choice account, which may be easier to digest, cf Jean Ensminger's "Making a Market;" also her account of reciprocity in Orma herding relationships in "Trust and Society," ed. Karen Cook. Also Lou Brown's essay in "Distrust," ed. Russell Hardin, which I've already cited to.

That’s backwards, at

That’s backwards, at least according to Marxist terminology. Socialism is state control of the means of production, and communism is what happens after the state withers away.

it's not backwards, practically at least. Communism has (at least) two problems:

1. Practical- A few repressive Totalitarian states called themselves communist and the term was adopted for propaganda purposes in US. Said states did horrible things and as such the use the word "Communism" has been muddied by it's correlation to monsters like Stalin.

2. Theoretical- Marx and Engels posit the neccesity of a "Vanguard Party" hwich is a group of smart intellectuals (like themselves, in what I'm sure was just a coincidence) who have to lead the ignorant masses for a little while. As Bakunin pointed out (was back in the 19th century, before it'd ever happened) such an arrangement is very likely to lead to totalitarianism.

What you've described as socialism is "state socialism." When Orwell says "Everything I've ever written is in defense of Democratic Socialism" he's referring to the sort of group socialism which, if it involves a "state" as typically conceived, would be a very democratic-in-fact state. I happen to agree with him. There is also Libertarian Socialism which explicitely condemns the state.

-Matt