JEFFERSON'S SWEATSHOP

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Puss in Boots

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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[Adding AP]

David Christopher Swanson <dcs...@cstone.net>:

>The living wage campaign as a national phenomenon has grown rapidly. At
>least 17 cities have passed explicit living wage ordinances raising the
>minimum wage for anyone employed directly or indirectly by the city to a
>level that will keep a full-time worker's family of four out of poverty,
>and stipulating that this wage will be adjusted for inflation annually.

[...]

>This living wage movement is happening at a time when the television news
>tirelessly informs us of our "healthy economy." It is happening because,
>while the rich have gotten richer over the past decades, the poor have
>gotten poorer. Unemployment is at a record low, but so is the income of
>the least-well-off. The federal minimum wage is 26 percent lower now than
>it was in 1980 (after adjusting for inflation). It is 30 percent lower
>than in 1968, although the economy is 50 percent more productive.

That means the minimum wage is only part of it. With
productivity doubled, people should have to work alot less; yet
the workweek hasn't budged for more than a half-century. In
1990, the U.S. workforce was 120 million. In such a productive
economy, many of them should've been able to quit working.
Instead flag-waving economists boast -- boast! -- about all the
people who go to work every day.

A healthy economy would give people the most possible
freedom, including the freedom to decide how to spend their own
time. We've got an economy that requires people to slave
just to provide for themselves. A fevered glow passing for the
flush of good health.

You want to make the "living wage" a worthwhile idea, then
divorce it from working. That would be something to talk
about: a living wage for everybody, whether or not they happen
to hold a job. If you're going to be a mere reformist, then
at least offer a meaningful reform: not just a buck and change.

[...]

>The starting salary for UVa housekeeping jobs is $13,250 per year ($6.37
>per hour). Those hired through the contractor Servicemaster are paid
>$12,480 per year ($6.00 per hour). These workers and many others at UVa
>live in poverty. They are obliged to take second and third jobs and/or to
>rely (briefly, of course) on food stamps to survive. In contrast, UVa's
>president takes home over $400,000 per year including benefits and pay
>from outside boards.

That's backwards, of course. The people doing hard, dirty
work should be compensated best -- sitting at a desk and
signing papers hardly rates a salary. But be realistic: these
jobs shouldn't exist -- not the president's and not the
housekeepers.' The students and faculty can learn how to clean
up after themselves -- they don't need a servant class to do
it for them. And the president isn't necessary except to adorn
the school bureaucracy, so she can quit, too.

[...]

>There are, however, those who believe UVa to be insincere and/or who
>believe these workers don't "deserve" to be paid more (and would be all
>right if they'd only stop having children). Others suggest that rather
>than complaining about insufficient pay, workers should exercise their
>"free right" to quit (although presumably even these people are aware
>that workers do quit whenever they manage to find better jobs). This
>kind of bald cruelty is not so easy to refute.

Sure it is. The argument that workers should display
initiative rather than relying on their employers overlooks the
initiative workers show in organizing to get better wages.
The argument that workers are undeserving fails on the evidence,
since workers as a group aren't any more or less deserving
than the rich or the middle-class. Simple.

More interesting to diagnose it. Reminds me of the rumpus
in RAB about union organizing at Borders, when some people
made objections in the same tone of righteous indignation: the
nerve of those workers, demanding more pay!

If that shrill sound doesn't tell you something, then look
at the workers we're discussing. Store clerks, janitors,
housekeepers: members of the modern-day servant class. That's
what they are -- servants making servants' wages.

Servants are supposed to do their jobs quietly and without
complaint -- when they protest, they're rising above their
station. Worse yet, they're highlighting the inequities of the
class structure in a society that claims to not have one.
Thus the response: that combination of callousness and dudgeon,
the Chicago Boys played by Margaret Dumont.

-- Moggin

M-T

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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[excellent post by Moggin snipped]

This is the point at which I have to let bygones be bygones and applaud
Moggin.

Regards,

mt


Puss in Boots

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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M-T <nos...@nospam.com>:

> [excellent post by Moggin snipped]

> This is the point at which I have to let bygones be bygones and applaud
> Moggin.

Thank you kindly, MT -- let's start fresh.

-- Moggin

David Christopher Swanson

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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good post, moggin.
Can't reply now cause I'm late for work.
D

John Boston

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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On Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:34:22 -0400, mog...@mindspring.com (Puss
in Boots) wrote:


>
> A healthy economy would give people the most possible
>freedom, including the freedom to decide how to spend their own
>time. We've got an economy that requires people to slave
>just to provide for themselves. A fevered glow passing for the
>flush of good health.
>
> You want to make the "living wage" a worthwhile idea, then
>divorce it from working. That would be something to talk
>about: a living wage for everybody, whether or not they happen
>to hold a job. If you're going to be a mere reformist, then
>at least offer a meaningful reform: not just a buck and change.

Now there is a good idea--pay people who don't/won't work.

>>The starting salary for UVa housekeeping jobs is $13,250 per year ($6.37
>>per hour). Those hired through the contractor Servicemaster are paid
>>$12,480 per year ($6.00 per hour). These workers and many others at UVa
>>live in poverty. They are obliged to take second and third jobs and/or to
>>rely (briefly, of course) on food stamps to survive. In contrast, UVa's
>>president takes home over $400,000 per year including benefits and pay
>>from outside boards.
>
> That's backwards, of course. The people doing hard, dirty
>work should be compensated best -- sitting at a desk and
>signing papers hardly rates a salary. But be realistic: these
>jobs shouldn't exist -- not the president's and not the
>housekeepers.' The students and faculty can learn how to clean
>up after themselves -- they don't need a servant class to do
>it for them. And the president isn't necessary except to adorn
>the school bureaucracy, so she can quit, too.

Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
Physical labor = more money
Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?

Or is it more like..each according to his needs?

> If that shrill sound doesn't tell you something, then look
>at the workers we're discussing. Store clerks, janitors,
>housekeepers: members of the modern-day servant class. That's
>what they are -- servants making servants' wages.

> Servants are supposed to do their jobs quietly and without
>complaint -- when they protest, they're rising above their
>station. Worse yet, they're highlighting the inequities of the
>class structure in a society that claims to not have one.
>Thus the response: that combination of callousness and dudgeon,
>the Chicago Boys played by Margaret Dumont.

I smell the philosophy of socialism-->communism.
I'm starting to get sick.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
John Boston
maxx at exis net
Trying to save us from becoming
"The People's Republic of Virginia"
Member of the (Real) Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Hiding in a bunker underneath Hooters since
the smartest woman in the world found us out.
Visit the Real Right Wing Conspiracy Web Page at
http://members.tripod.com/freedom_liberty
A web page for Real Americans
Remember..bring your Microsoft Internet Explorer 4

Michael S. Morris

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
to
Monday, the 29th of March, 1999

Yes, let me add my accolades as well---the use of
Nietzschean irony to suggest real slavery as the
reductio ad absurdam of such a reform as David supports
was well done.

Mike Morris
(msmo...@netdirect.net)

Michael Carley

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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johnboston@not_monticello.net (John Boston) writes:

> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
> Physical labor = more money
> Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
> ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?

Curious way of putting it but why, philosphically, should
a physicist make more than a ditch digger? If everyone
made enough to live, why should anyone make much more than
anyone else?

> Or is it more like..each according to his needs?

What's wrong with that?

> I smell the philosophy of socialism-->communism.
> I'm starting to get sick.

Don't be silly.
--
``Permitt not your schollars to ramble abroad, especially lett them not
soe much as peepe into a tavern or tipleing house'' (Provost Loftus).

My return address has the user name reversed.

Keith A. Glass

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
to
Michael Carley wrote:

> johnboston@not_monticello.net (John Boston) writes:
>
> > Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
> > Physical labor = more money
> > Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
> > ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?
>
> Curious way of putting it but why, philosphically, should
> a physicist make more than a ditch digger? If everyone
> made enough to live, why should anyone make much more than
> anyone else?

Let's see, investment in training and time to make a physicist:
Birth-end of grade 12, same basics as ditch-digger. . . .
THEN, 8+ years of college and grad school.

The physicist has put in far more effort, and been trained far more
than the ditch-digger. With investment, comes the rewards of
investment. . .

The ditch-digger, OTOH, really needs no more than a grade-school
education to be "qualified" to dig ditches. . . although, machines can
do it faster and cheaper, if a lot of ditches are to be dug. . .

> > Or is it more like..each according to his needs?
>
> What's wrong with that?

Tell me, who IS John Galt ?????


William Denton

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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Keith A. Glass <sal...@erols.com> wrote:

: Tell me, who IS John Galt ?????

A fairly important figure in Ontario history. The city of Galt is
named after him.


Bill
--
--
William Denton : Toronto, Ontario, Canada : <URL:http://www.vex.net/~buff/>
This is not a "board" or a "site." This is a Usenet newsgroup.

Michael Zeleny

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
to

> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.


> Physical labor = more money
> Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
> ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?
>

> Or is it more like..each according to his needs?

>> If that shrill sound doesn't tell you something, then look


>>at the workers we're discussing. Store clerks, janitors,
>>housekeepers: members of the modern-day servant class. That's
>>what they are -- servants making servants' wages.
>>
>> Servants are supposed to do their jobs quietly and without
>>complaint -- when they protest, they're rising above their
>>station. Worse yet, they're highlighting the inequities of the
>>class structure in a society that claims to not have one.
>>Thus the response: that combination of callousness and dudgeon,
>>the Chicago Boys played by Margaret Dumont.

> I smell the philosophy of socialism-->communism.


> I'm starting to get sick.

I am pleasantly surprised that it takes so little to sicken you.
Would you do us the kindness of stipulating what it would take to
help you die?

Cordially -- Mikhail Zel...@math.ucla.edu * M...@ptyx.com ** www.ptyx.com
God: "Sum id quod sum." ** 7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Descartes: "Cogito ergo sum." * 323.876.8234 (fon) * 323.876.8054 (fax)
Popeye: "Sum id quod sum et id totum est quod sum." **** www.alonzo.org
established on 2.26.1958 ** itinerant philosopher * will think for food

Paul Ilechko

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
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>John Boston <johnboston@not_monticello.net> wrote:

>> Now there is a good idea--pay people who don't/won't work.

Interesting how you conflate "don't" and "won't" as of they were
somehow the same thing. Of course, you probably don't actually know
anyone who either can't get a job, or is on minimum wage or less, and
therefore it is just an abstract issue for you. Its always better to
blame the underclass, otherwise you might actually feel some guilt.

>> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
>> Physical labor = more money

No more or less interesting than any other arbitrary scheme, surely.

Paul M. Johnson

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Mar 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/29/99
to
Paul Ilechko wrote in message
<36ffeba1....@rtpnews.raleigh.ibm.com>...

>
>>John Boston <johnboston@not_monticello.net> wrote:
>
>>> Now there is a good idea--pay people who don't/won't work.
>
>Interesting how you conflate "don't" and "won't" as of they were
>somehow the same thing.


It's the Moggin reform (expressed in a post which you may actually
want to read) which is uninterested in making this distinction.


>Of course, you probably don't actually know
>anyone who either can't get a job, or is on minimum wage or less, and
>therefore it is just an abstract issue for you. Its always better to
>blame the underclass, otherwise you might actually feel some guilt.
>
>>> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
>>> Physical labor = more money
>
>No more or less interesting than any other arbitrary scheme, surely.


Ah, yes. It's that night in which all schemes are arbitrary.

"So entrenched are maxims of the usual form that perhaps we
should present the entitlement conception as a competitor.
Ignoring acquisition and rectification, we might say:

From each according to what he chooses to do, to each
according to what he makes for himself (perhaps with the
contracted aid of others) and what others choose to do
for him and choose to give him of what they've been
given previously (under this maxim) and haven't yet
expended or transferred.

This, the discerning reader will have noticed, has its defects as
a slogan. So as a summary and great simplification (and not as
a maxim with any independent meaning) we have:

From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen."
(Robert Nozick)

Paul J.


Michael Kagalenko

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
In article <36FF9E86...@erols.com>,

"Keith A. Glass" <sal...@erols.com> wrote:
> Michael Carley wrote:
>
> > johnboston@not_monticello.net (John Boston) writes:
> >
> > > Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
> > > Physical labor = more money
> > > Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
> > > ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?
> >
> > Curious way of putting it but why, philosphically, should
> > a physicist make more than a ditch digger? If everyone
> > made enough to live, why should anyone make much more than
> > anyone else?
>
> Let's see, investment in training and time to make a physicist:
> Birth-end of grade 12, same basics as ditch-digger. . . .
> THEN, 8+ years of college and grad school.
>
> The physicist has put in far more effort, and been trained far more
> than the ditch-digger. With investment, comes the rewards of
> investment. . .

That assumes that people go into physics to improve their earning potential,
and that time and effort are spent as an "investment."
Any Graduate student at physics dept. will laugh at your face if you
try to tell him this kind of nonsense.


> The ditch-digger, OTOH, really needs no more than a grade-school
> education to be "qualified" to dig ditches. . . although, machines can
> do it faster and cheaper, if a lot of ditches are to be dug. . .
>

> > > Or is it more like..each according to his needs?
> >

> > What's wrong with that?
>

> Tell me, who IS John Galt ?????

Some kind of personage in a fiction book by mediocre writer ?


-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

John Boston

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
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On 29 Mar 1999 18:24:41 GMT, zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu (Michael
Zeleny) wrote:

>John Boston <johnboston@not_monticello.net> wrote:

>> I smell the philosophy of socialism-->communism.
>> I'm starting to get sick.
>

>I am pleasantly surprised that it takes so little to sicken you.
>Would you do us the kindness of stipulating what it would take to
>help you die?

Four more years of Clinton might do the trick.

John Boston

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
On Mon, 29 Mar 1999 21:30:48 GMT, pile...@us.ibm.com (Paul
Ilechko) wrote:

>
>>John Boston <johnboston@not_monticello.net> wrote:
>
>>> Now there is a good idea--pay people who don't/won't work.
>
>Interesting how you conflate "don't" and "won't" as of they were

>somehow the same thing. Of course, you probably don't actually know


>anyone who either can't get a job, or is on minimum wage or less, and
>therefore it is just an abstract issue for you.

I know plenty of people who make or are a bit above minimum
wage. And I'll tell ya that they are worth every penny they
make. Of course, that's about all they're worth.

Perhaps they have some hidden talents or skills that they are
keeping to themselves that would allow them to earn more.
I would doubt it, though.


>Its always better to
>blame the underclass, otherwise you might actually feel some guilt.

I don't necessarily blame the poor folks for not having
sufficient talents to earn more than minimum wage.
Some are stuck with a bad situation.

As far as guilt--I don't suffer from unearned guilt.
Guilt, like respect or a decent salary, must be earned.

John Boston

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
On 29 Mar 1999 16:03:58 +0100, Michael
Carley<yelr...@maths.tcd.ie> wrote:

>johnboston@not_monticello.net (John Boston) writes:
>
>> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
>> Physical labor = more money
>> Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
>> ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?
>
>Curious way of putting it but why, philosphically, should
>a physicist make more than a ditch digger?

A physicist should only make more if someone is willing to pay
him.

>If everyone made enough to live, why should anyone make much more than
>anyone else?

Because they can.


>> I smell the philosophy of socialism-->communism.
>> I'm starting to get sick.
>

>Don't be silly.

Quoth the Raven 'Nevermore.'

Larisa Migachyov

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
Michael Kagalenko wrote:
> In article <36FF9E86...@erols.com>,
> "Keith A. Glass" <sal...@erols.com> wrote:
> > Michael Carley wrote:
> >
> > > johnboston@not_monticello.net (John Boston) writes:
> > >
> > > > Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
> > > > Physical labor = more money
> > > > Does that mean that a physicist should make $5/hr while a
> > > > ditch digger should make $50,000 /yr?
> > >
> > > Curious way of putting it but why, philosphically, should
> > > a physicist make more than a ditch digger? If everyone

> > > made enough to live, why should anyone make much more than
> > > anyone else?
> >
> > Let's see, investment in training and time to make a physicist:
> > Birth-end of grade 12, same basics as ditch-digger. . . .
> > THEN, 8+ years of college and grad school.
> >
> > The physicist has put in far more effort, and been trained far more
> > than the ditch-digger. With investment, comes the rewards of
> > investment. . .
>
> That assumes that people go into physics to improve their earning potential,
> and that time and effort are spent as an "investment."
> Any Graduate student at physics dept. will laugh at your face if you
> try to tell him this kind of nonsense.

Maybe not physics, but definitely computer science.

--
Larisa Migachyov http://www.stanford.edu/~lvm
----------------------------------------------------------
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Puss in Boots

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
"Michael S. Morris" <msmo...@netdirect.net>:


> Yes, let me add my accolades as well---the use of
> Nietzschean irony to suggest real slavery as the
> reductio ad absurdam of such a reform as David supports
> was well done.

Leisure and idleness.-- There is something of the American Indians,
something of the ferocity peculiar to Indian blood, in the American lust
for gold; and the breathless haste with which they work -- the
distinctive vice of the New World -- is already beginning to infect old
Europe with its ferocity and is spreading a lack of spirituality
[_Geistlosigkeit_] like a blanket. Even now one is ashamed of resting,
and prolonged reflection almost gives people a bad conscience. One
thinks with a watch in one's hand, even as one eats one's midday meal
while reading the latest news of the stock market; one lives as if one
always 'might miss out on something.' 'Rather do anything than nothing':
this principle, too, is merely a string to throttle all culture and
good taste. Just as all forms are visibly perishing by the haste of the
workers, the feeling for form itself, the ear and the eye for the melody
of movements are also perishing The proof of this may be found in the
universal demand for _gross obviousness_ in all those situations where
human beings wish to be honest with one another for once -- in their
associations with friends, women, relatives, children, teachers, pupils,
leaders, and princes: One no longer has time or energy for ceremonies,
for being obliging in an indirect way, for _esprit_ in conversation, and
for any _otium_ [leisure] at all. Living in a constant chase after gain
compels people to expend their spirit to the point of exhaustion in
continual pretense and overreaching and anticipating others. Virtue has
come to consist of doing something in less time than someone else. Hours
in which honest is _permitted_ have become rare, and when they arrive
one is tired and does not only want to 'let oneself go' but actually
wishes to _stretch out_ as long and wide and ungainly as one happens to
be. This is how people now write _letters_, and the style and spirit of
letters will always be the true 'sign of the times.'

If sociability and the arts still offer any delight, it is the kind
of delight that slaves, weary of their work, devise for themselves. How
frugal our educated -- and uneducated -- people have become regarding
'joy'! How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More
and more, _work_ enlists all good conscience on its side; the desire for
joy already calls itself a 'need to recuperate' and is beginning to be
ashamed of itself. 'One owes it to one's health' -- that is what people
say when they are caught on an excursion to the country. Soon we may well
reach the point where people can no longer give in to the desire for a
_vita contemplativa_ (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends)
without self-contempt and a bad conscience.

Well, formerly it was the other way around: it was work that was
afflicted with the bad conscience. A person of good family used to conceal
the fact that he was working if need compelled him to work. Slaves used
to work, oppressed by the feeling that they were doing something
contemptible: 'doing' itself was contemptible. 'Nobility and honor are
attached soley to _otium_ and _bellum_,' that was the ancient prejudice.

(Nietzsche, _The Gay Science 329_)

-- Moggin

Old Biker

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
Simple answer: Fire 4 out of 5 of the current underpaid workers, promote
the remainder to "professors" of sanitary engineering and triple their
wages; then require all students to complete a 5-credit, 5 hour per week
course in sanitary engineering under these new "profs" every semester.


Michael S. Morris

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Mar 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/30/99
to
Tuesday, the 30th of March, 1999

Especially the bit about the students
picking up after themselves was well done.

Mike Morris
(msmo...@netdirect.net)

Bruce McGuffin

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Mar 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/31/99
to

Keith A. Glass <sal...@erols.com> wrote:
>
> : Tell me, who IS John Galt ?????

An moderately well regarded early 19th century Scottish writer, best
known for his humorous novel The Annals of the Parish, published 1821.

Bruce McGuffin

Michael Zeleny

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Mar 31, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/31/99
to
Paul M. Johnson <aug...@micron.net> wrote:

>Paul Ilechko wrote:
>>>John Boston <johnboston@not_monticello.net> wrote:

>>>> Now there is a good idea--pay people who don't/won't work.

>>Interesting how you conflate "don't" and "won't" as of they were
>>somehow the same thing.

>It's the Moggin reform (expressed in a post which you may actually


>want to read) which is uninterested in making this distinction.

>>Of course, you probably don't actually know


>>anyone who either can't get a job, or is on minimum wage or less, and

>>therefore it is just an abstract issue for you. Its always better to


>>blame the underclass, otherwise you might actually feel some guilt.

>>>> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.


>>>> Physical labor = more money

>>No more or less interesting than any other arbitrary scheme, surely.

>Ah, yes. It's that night in which all schemes are arbitrary.
>
> "So entrenched are maxims of the usual form that perhaps we
>should present the entitlement conception as a competitor.
> Ignoring acquisition and rectification, we might say:
>
> From each according to what he chooses to do, to each
> according to what he makes for himself (perhaps with the
> contracted aid of others) and what others choose to do
> for him and choose to give him of what they've been
> given previously (under this maxim) and haven't yet
> expended or transferred.
>
>This, the discerning reader will have noticed, has its defects as
>a slogan. So as a summary and great simplification (and not as
>a maxim with any independent meaning) we have:
>
> From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen."
> (Robert Nozick)

I might have expected this sort of drivel from the redoubtable Mike
Morris in his dotage, by the time his lifetime reading program will
have gotten him to postmodern political philosophy -- et tu, Paul J.?
It sorely rankles me to see a man of your erudition cozying up to Bob
Nozick in discounting the costs of participating in the social contract.

ObTune: Gavin Bryars, Farewell to Philosophy

Paul M. Johnson

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Apr 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/1/99
to
Michael Zeleny wrote in message <7dubh1$dd2$1...@carroll.library.ucla.edu>...

>Paul M. Johnson <aug...@micron.net> wrote:
>>Paul Ilechko wrote:
>>>>John Boston <johnboston@not_monticello.net> wrote:
>
[...]

>>>>> Hmmm..what a interesting philosophy.
>>>>> Physical labor = more money
>
>>>No more or less interesting than any other arbitrary scheme, surely.
>
>>Ah, yes. It's that night in which all schemes are arbitrary.
>>
>> "So entrenched are maxims of the usual form that perhaps we
>>should present the entitlement conception as a competitor.
>> Ignoring acquisition and rectification, we might say:
>>
>> From each according to what he chooses to do, to each
>> according to what he makes for himself (perhaps with the
>> contracted aid of others) and what others choose to do
>> for him and choose to give him of what they've been
>> given previously (under this maxim) and haven't yet
>> expended or transferred.
>>
>>This, the discerning reader will have noticed, has its defects as
>>a slogan. So as a summary and great simplification (and not as
>>a maxim with any independent meaning) we have:
>>
>> From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen."
>> (Robert Nozick)
>
>I might have expected this sort of drivel from the redoubtable Mike
>Morris in his dotage, by the time his lifetime reading program will
>have gotten him to postmodern political philosophy -- et tu, Paul J.?
>It sorely rankles me to see a man of your erudition cozying up to Bob
>Nozick in discounting the costs of participating in the social contract.

The legitimate costs, you mean?

Nozick does allow that individuals may legitimately be constrained
to pay their fair share* for protective services whether or not they
wish to, after all, and all that that entails: a judiciary, executive,
legislature, a regulatory apparatus, meat inspectors and whatnot.

That leaving aside of rectificatory justice from the scope of the
principle is no small caveat, since (I would think) it is under that
rubric that the extraction of moolah from an individual who
refuses to pony up would fall. The principle is only supposed
to hold absent a rectificatory justification for enforced transfers
of holdings. This bars naked transfers with no debt backing
them up (the very essence, as it were, of politics in a democratic
regime, or so it would seem). And gosh, who could ever be
against that (I can't decide what emoticon goes here)?

You're probably aware that Nozick won't even cozy up to
himself anymore. The brief recantation that I skimmed in a
bookstore some years ago struck me as listless--a flopping,
dead fish. Right or wrong, that first book had some vitality
in it. Another job for Viagra, maybe.

Paul J.
*some principle of equality governs this--everybody pays
x dollars or (more likely) x percent of their income or
holdings.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/13/99
to

>[...]

Paying for protective services does not begin to cover the costs that
I have in mind; nor is disagreeably designated rectificatory justice
required to underwrite the extraction of moolah from an individual who
refuses to pony up. The brute fact stands that money, by its socially
designated nature, cannot belong entirely to any one person, let alone
accrue to him solely through his choice of doing, and according to
what he makes for himself. On the contrary, as a freely convertible
representation of an economic exchange potential, it exists, and can
be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and expended, only through the
sufferance of the society as a cohesive whole. Hence any allotment,
appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money incurs direct and
consequential social costs that are subject to just and commensurate,
i.e. progressive, compensation through direct and indirect taxation.

I do not recall any recantations of Nozick's youthful vigor, unless
you subsume under this rubric his purple encomium to the phenomenology
of ripe strawberries. Please advise.

Gerry Quinn

unread,
Apr 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/13/99
to
In article <oPGQ2.551$hl6....@news.itd.umich.edu>, Silke-Maria Weineck <sm...@umich.edu> wrote:
>In rec.arts.books Michael Zeleny <zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu> wrote:
>[...]
>: Paying for protective services does not begin to cover the costs that

>: I have in mind; nor is disagreeably designated rectificatory justice
>: required to underwrite the extraction of moolah from an individual who
>: refuses to pony up. The brute fact stands that money, by its socially
>: designated nature, cannot belong entirely to any one person, let alone
>: accrue to him solely through his choice of doing, and according to
>: what he makes for himself. On the contrary, as a freely convertible
>: representation of an economic exchange potential, it exists, and can
>: be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and expended, only through the
>: sufferance of the society as a cohesive whole. Hence any allotment,
>: appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money incurs direct and
>: consequential social costs that are subject to just and commensurate,
>: i.e. progressive, compensation through direct and indirect taxation.
>
>That's nice. Really. Thanks for writing it.
>

Puzzling, though.

How does 'sufferance of the society' translate into direct social costs?

And if these alleged social costs are proportional to the money, why should
taxation be progressive rather than proportional?

- Gerry Quinn


Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/13/99
to
Gerry Quinn <ger...@indigo.ie> wrote:

>Silke-Maria Weineck <sm...@umich.edu> wrote:
>>Michael Zeleny <zel...@oak.math.ucla.edu> wrote:

>>[...]

>>>Paying for protective services does not begin to cover the costs that
>>>I have in mind; nor is disagreeably designated rectificatory justice
>>>required to underwrite the extraction of moolah from an individual who
>>>refuses to pony up. The brute fact stands that money, by its socially
>>>designated nature, cannot belong entirely to any one person, let alone
>>>accrue to him solely through his choice of doing, and according to
>>>what he makes for himself. On the contrary, as a freely convertible
>>>representation of an economic exchange potential, it exists, and can
>>>be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and expended, only through the
>>>sufferance of the society as a cohesive whole. Hence any allotment,
>>>appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money incurs direct and
>>>consequential social costs that are subject to just and commensurate,
>>>i.e. progressive, compensation through direct and indirect taxation.

>>That's nice. Really. Thanks for writing it.

You're welcome.

>Puzzling, though.
>
>How does 'sufferance of the society' translate into direct social costs?
>
>And if these alleged social costs are proportional to the money, why should
>taxation be progressive rather than proportional?

The direct social costs are mainly proportional to the money, having
to do with upholding the rudiments of John Law's fiction of mortgages
that underwrite the convertibility of banknotes. The indirect costs
of the allotment, appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money
however tend to rise sharply with the increases in individual monetary
holdings, their emblems the walls and fences of gated communities that
sprout in this land correlatively with the unfolding of the greatest
economic boom in recorded history and its concomitant furtherance of
social stratification, whereof I testify as a bemused -- if alarmed --
beneficiary.

To get back to Bob Nozick, whose ritual invocation by Paul Johnson had
precipitated my discourse, he looked to me as an eminently reasonable
fellow not altogether unworthy of the respectful contempt whereby his
colleague Hilary Putnam eighteen years ago had proposed to regale "the
complex of feelings and judgments" responsible for the wild and woolly
views adumbrated in Anarchy, State and Utopia. Nevertheless, his work
never struck me as imbued with either an historical or a philosophical
insight into the nature of the monetary system. I would be curious to
find any indications to the contrary in his recent writings.

ObBook1: James Buchan, Frozen Desire: the meaning of money.
ObBook2: Roger Guesnerie, A Contribution to the Pure Theory of Taxation.

One for Silke, another for Gerry.

Charles Eby

unread,
Apr 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/13/99
to
Michael Zeleny wrote in message <7eucij$g2h$1...@carroll.library.ucla.edu>...

>
>Paying for protective services does not begin to cover the costs that
>I have in mind; nor is disagreeably designated rectificatory justice
>required to underwrite the extraction of moolah from an individual who
>refuses to pony up. The brute fact stands that money, by its socially
>designated nature, cannot belong entirely to any one person, let alone
>accrue to him solely through his choice of doing, and according to
>what he makes for himself. On the contrary, as a freely convertible
>representation of an economic exchange potential, it exists, and can
>be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and expended, only through the
>sufferance of the society as a cohesive whole. Hence any allotment,
>appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money incurs direct and
>consequential social costs that are subject to just and commensurate,
>i.e. progressive, compensation through direct and indirect taxation.
>
Interesting. Would you feel the same way if, instead of money (currency),
people used gold as a medium of exchange? Bushels of apples? Labor? How
can a bushel of apples exist and be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and
expended only through the sufferance of the society as a whole? Wouldn't
one hungry belly be enough to give it value? If so, why is money so
different?

Chuck

Charles Eby

unread,
Apr 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/13/99
to
Michael Zeleny wrote in message <7f0o5r$jch$1...@carroll.library.ucla.edu>...

>
>>Interesting. Would you feel the same way if, instead of money (currency),
>>people used gold as a medium of exchange? Bushels of apples? Labor? How
>>can a bushel of apples exist and be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and
>>expended only through the sufferance of the society as a whole? Wouldn't
>>one hungry belly be enough to give it value? If so, why is money so
>>different?
>
>A good point. Participation in barter economy already incurs indirect
>social costs, at least in so far as it relies upon the establishment
>and maintenance of division of labor. Whereupon the monetary system
>adds the direct and indirect costs of inaugurating and enforcing the
>status of money as "legal tender for all debts, public and private".
>The key point proceeding from the weakest assumption, is that the act
>of homo sapiens claiming the status of homo economicus gives rise to
>more than Nozick's narrow functions of protection against encroachment
>against the law of nature. It does not enter into my present purpose
>either to argue or to disclaim that said act also requires a system of
>distributive justice.

Insofar as my ability to retain my bushel of apples in a hostile world in
order to barter with you requires a system of distributive justice, I agree.
And Locke would agree that a minimal governmental body is necessary to
protect my rights to my own property and the fruits of my labor (quite
literally in this case). Few would disagree with you on this point. There
is a great disparity at present between this necessary minimal governmental
authority and what we have in the modern-day welfare state.

Chuck

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/14/99
to
Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:
>Michael Zeleny wrote:

>>Paying for protective services does not begin to cover the costs that
>>I have in mind; nor is disagreeably designated rectificatory justice
>>required to underwrite the extraction of moolah from an individual who
>>refuses to pony up. The brute fact stands that money, by its socially
>>designated nature, cannot belong entirely to any one person, let alone
>>accrue to him solely through his choice of doing, and according to
>>what he makes for himself. On the contrary, as a freely convertible
>>representation of an economic exchange potential, it exists, and can
>>be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and expended, only through the
>>sufferance of the society as a cohesive whole. Hence any allotment,
>>appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money incurs direct and
>>consequential social costs that are subject to just and commensurate,
>>i.e. progressive, compensation through direct and indirect taxation.

>Interesting. Would you feel the same way if, instead of money (currency),


>people used gold as a medium of exchange? Bushels of apples? Labor? How
>can a bushel of apples exist and be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and
>expended only through the sufferance of the society as a whole? Wouldn't
>one hungry belly be enough to give it value? If so, why is money so
>different?

A good point. Participation in barter economy already incurs indirect
social costs, at least in so far as it relies upon the establishment
and maintenance of division of labor. Whereupon the monetary system
adds the direct and indirect costs of inaugurating and enforcing the
status of money as "legal tender for all debts, public and private".
The key point proceeding from the weakest assumption, is that the act
of homo sapiens claiming the status of homo economicus gives rise to
more than Nozick's narrow functions of protection against encroachment
against the law of nature. It does not enter into my present purpose
either to argue or to disclaim that said act also requires a system of
distributive justice.

Cordially -- Mikhail Zel...@math.ucla.edu * M...@ptyx.com ** www.ptyx.com

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/14/99
to
Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:
>Michael Zeleny wrote:

>>>Interesting. Would you feel the same way if, instead of money (currency),
>>>people used gold as a medium of exchange? Bushels of apples? Labor? How
>>>can a bushel of apples exist and be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and
>>>expended only through the sufferance of the society as a whole? Wouldn't
>>>one hungry belly be enough to give it value? If so, why is money so
>>>different?

>>A good point. Participation in barter economy already incurs indirect
>>social costs, at least in so far as it relies upon the establishment
>>and maintenance of division of labor. Whereupon the monetary system
>>adds the direct and indirect costs of inaugurating and enforcing the
>>status of money as "legal tender for all debts, public and private".
>>The key point proceeding from the weakest assumption, is that the act
>>of homo sapiens claiming the status of homo economicus gives rise to
>>more than Nozick's narrow functions of protection against encroachment
>>against the law of nature. It does not enter into my present purpose
>>either to argue or to disclaim that said act also requires a system of
>>distributive justice.

>Insofar as my ability to retain my bushel of apples in a hostile world in


>order to barter with you requires a system of distributive justice, I agree.
>And Locke would agree that a minimal governmental body is necessary to
>protect my rights to my own property and the fruits of my labor (quite
>literally in this case). Few would disagree with you on this point. There
>is a great disparity at present between this necessary minimal governmental
>authority and what we have in the modern-day welfare state.

Following Aristotle and Aquinas, it is customary to distinguish
commutative justice, which deals with the relations that arise between
individuals, between individuals and groups, and between groups that
comprise any given community, from distributive justice, which deals
with the overarching relation of that community as a whole to all of
its constituent individuals and groups. The principle of distributive
justice, of treating equals equally and unequals unequally, always in
proportion to their relevant differences, allots to each individual
and group a fair share of the common resources that their society has
to divide. By contrast, commutative justice, in aiming to preserve
the fairness of antecedently allotted shares, concerns itself with
proper restitution or compensation that rectifies undue differences
caused by an injury between parties assumed to have been equals prior
to it. It does so by balancing the harm that resulted from said
injury through forcing the offender to pay something of value back to
his victim, so that their former equality may be restored. Which is
to say that the aim and scope of distributive justice is to establish,
maintain, and revise a social order that upholds some fixed principle
of fair allocation of goods to its constituents, whereupon the charter
of commutative justice becomes to apportion rewards to their merits,
and punishments to their crimes. Hence in keeping with its purpose,
commutative justice proceeds in accordance with an arithmetic mean,
requiring that one receives something of equal value to what one has
given or has taken from oneself; whereas distributive justice allows
that common goods be allottted according to a particular standard of
rank such as virtue, knowledge, wealth, power, expertise, need, and so
on, taking as its overall mean the equality of geometrical proportion
between the common goods subject to just distribution and the various
individuals and groups, who therefore need not be treated in exactly
the same way, with those designated with a greater or lesser ranking
receiving unique privileges or suffering unique disabilities, in an
arrangement meant to contribute to the well-being of the whole.

Thus both Marx' maxim demanding "from each according to his ability,
to each according to his need", and Rawls' difference principle
requiring that "the social order is not to establish and secure the
more attractive prospects of those better off unless doing so is to
the advantage of the less fortunate" belong to classical distributive
justice, in so far as they seek to place a perpetual constraint on the
outcome of the distribution of goods within a given social order. On
the other hand, the principle of entitlement of Nozick, "from each as
they choose, to each as they are chosen", constrains only the process
of acquisition and transfer of goods, without placing any constraints
upon its outcome, in a way that restricts the means and aims of social
justice to commuting exclusive of distributing. (Bear in mind that
Nozick's own terminology deviates from the classical standard by
distinguishing distribution from redistribution.)

Your example calling for a minimal governmental body to protect your
rights to your own property and the fruits of your labor, requires no
more than classical commutative justice that guarantees your proper
compensation against misappropriation of your goods by others. (Note
however that nowhere does Locke impugn the ends and means of classical
distributive justice.) However I cannot accept the underlying premiss
of your total, absolute, and unqualified entitlement to the fruits of
your labor, along with the fruits of labor undertaken on your behalf
by your servants, purportedly acting as thoroughly disenfranchised
proxies of your productive effort. For already in inaugurating the
property relation between you as the apple grower and the marketplace
that establishes the value of your fruit, you enter into a system of
complex relations with everybody else capable of becoming a consumer
or producer of similar goods. Suppose that you exploit the economies
of scale to corner the market on apples, thereby directly influencing
the all potential apple eaters and growers. This course of economic
events stands in sharp distinction from the scenario wherein you grow
the same quantity of apples for your own consumption, influencing the
global apple market only minimally by withdrawing therefrom your own
demand for apples. In the former case, the value of what you produce
is not solely a function of the labor that you invest into it, but
also of how others value the results of your labor. Inevitably, this
social valuation incurs a range of costs that in all fairness must be
borne by its beneficiaries, returning value to society in proportion
with the advantage they derive therefrom -- a case for commutative
justice. In particular, if the valuation of your goods is made in
terms of their monetary value, relating them to an elaborate fiction
of mortgages of all community holdings that purportedly undergird its
currency, the direct and consequential social costs of your trading in
commodities rise precipitously out of all proportion with its volume.
Consider for example the obvious case of currency trading, known to
destabilize the economies of entire societies in one fell swoop, with
the aggregate losses caused by the ensuing economic collapse exceeding
by several orders of magnitude the total trading gains realized by the
responsible parties. Who should bear such costs in your minimal state?

Mr. Nozick, meet Mr. Soros.

Charles Eby

unread,
Apr 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/15/99
to
Michael Zeleny wrote in message <7f1toq$7ka$1...@carroll.library.ucla.edu>...

>Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:
>
>>Insofar as my ability to retain my bushel of apples in a hostile world in
>>order to barter with you requires a system of distributive justice, I
agree.
>>And Locke would agree that a minimal governmental body is necessary to
>>protect my rights to my own property and the fruits of my labor (quite
>>literally in this case). Few would disagree with you on this point.
There
>>is a great disparity at present between this necessary minimal
governmental
>>authority and what we have in the modern-day welfare state.
>
>Following Aristotle and Aquinas, it is customary to distinguish
>commutative justice, which deals with the relations that arise between
>individuals, between individuals and groups, and between groups that
>comprise any given community, from distributive justice, which deals
>with the overarching relation of that community as a whole to all of
>its constituent individuals and groups.

<lengthy and enlightening discourse on the difference between commutative
and distributive justice snipped>

Perhaps my Aristotle is a bit rusty, but I do not remember Aristotle
addressing the concept of distributive justice in any of his works. He does
directly address commutative justice in the Nichomachean Ethics.

>Your example calling for a minimal governmental body to protect your
>rights to your own property and the fruits of your labor, requires no
>more than classical commutative justice that guarantees your proper
>compensation against misappropriation of your goods by others. (Note
>however that nowhere does Locke impugn the ends and means of classical
>distributive justice.)

Correct; however, as far as I can see, nowhere does Locke address the ends


and means of classical distributive justice.

>However I cannot accept the underlying premiss


>of your total, absolute, and unqualified entitlement to the fruits of
>your labor, along with the fruits of labor undertaken on your behalf
>by your servants, purportedly acting as thoroughly disenfranchised
>proxies of your productive effort.

I have already allowed that I have no quarrel with a tiny portion of the
fruits of my labor being used for a system of justice (including law
enforcement), and national defense. This is simply an insurance premium
against losing my life, liberty, or property to some foreign or domestic
despoiler.

>For already in inaugurating the
>property relation between you as the apple grower and the marketplace
>that establishes the value of your fruit, you enter into a system of
>complex relations with everybody else capable of becoming a consumer
>or producer of similar goods. Suppose that you exploit the economies
>of scale to corner the market on apples, thereby directly influencing
>the all potential apple eaters and growers. This course of economic
>events stands in sharp distinction from the scenario wherein you grow
>the same quantity of apples for your own consumption, influencing the
>global apple market only minimally by withdrawing therefrom your own
>demand for apples. In the former case, the value of what you produce
>is not solely a function of the labor that you invest into it, but
>also of how others value the results of your labor. Inevitably, this
>social valuation incurs a range of costs that in all fairness must be
>borne by its beneficiaries, returning value to society in proportion
>with the advantage they derive therefrom -- a case for commutative
>justice.

Monopolies are indeed a source of injustice; however, this form of injustice
is typically short-lived (except in the case of government). If the Bill
Gates of apple orchards raises the price of apples too high, we can always
eat figs. The biggest danger is that a true monopoly of one of life's
necessities arises (e.g. food). Luckily, this has not occurred often
throughout history, and when it has, it has typically been as disastrous for
the monopolizer as the monopolized.

>In particular, if the valuation of your goods is made in
>terms of their monetary value, relating them to an elaborate fiction
>of mortgages of all community holdings that purportedly undergird its
>currency, the direct and consequential social costs of your trading in
>commodities rise precipitously out of all proportion with its volume.
>Consider for example the obvious case of currency trading, known to
>destabilize the economies of entire societies in one fell swoop, with
>the aggregate losses caused by the ensuing economic collapse exceeding
>by several orders of magnitude the total trading gains realized by the
>responsible parties. Who should bear such costs in your minimal state?

My minimalist state would have issued little currency, if any - much like
the United States prior to the Civil War. Currency would, by and large, be
issued by private financial institutions. These institutions would bear the
costs of your destabilizing currency transactions. Smart institutions would
back a large percentage of their currency with gold or other commodities so
that they would be largely immune to such transactions. Less clever
institutions would more likely be affected; they would lose the confidence
of their investors, and would go under. It would behoove each investor to
investigate prospective institutions before they invest. Caveat Emptor.

Chuck Eby

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/16/99
to
Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:
>Michael Zeleny wrote:
>>Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:

>>>Insofar as my ability to retain my bushel of apples in a hostile world
>>>in order to barter with you requires a system of distributive justice,
>>>I agree. And Locke would agree that a minimal governmental body is
>>>necessary to protect my rights to my own property and the fruits of my
>>>labor (quite literally in this case). Few would disagree with you on
>>>this point. There is a great disparity at present between this
>>>necessary minimal governmental authority and what we have in the
>>>modern-day welfare state.

>>Following Aristotle and Aquinas, it is customary to distinguish
>>commutative justice, which deals with the relations that arise between
>>individuals, between individuals and groups, and between groups that
>>comprise any given community, from distributive justice, which deals
>>with the overarching relation of that community as a whole to all of
>>its constituent individuals and groups.

><lengthy and enlightening discourse on the difference between commutative
>and distributive justice snipped>
>
>Perhaps my Aristotle is a bit rusty, but I do not remember Aristotle
>addressing the concept of distributive justice in any of his works.
>He does directly address commutative justice in the Nichomachean Ethics.

The original Aristotelian terms are dianemetikos and diorthotikos, as
found in the Nicomachaen Ethics 1130b ff. Check out the text with its
LSJ morphological links and translations at www.perseus.tufts.edu.

>>Your example calling for a minimal governmental body to protect your
>>rights to your own property and the fruits of your labor, requires no
>>more than classical commutative justice that guarantees your proper
>>compensation against misappropriation of your goods by others. (Note
>>however that nowhere does Locke impugn the ends and means of classical
>>distributive justice.)

>Correct; however, as far as I can see, nowhere does Locke address the
>ends and means of classical distributive justice.

Not so. Recall that accumulation of property in the state of nature
is subject to the rules that "enough and as good" has to be left for
the others whenever a man makes the common his own, and that no man is
allowed to accumulate more goods than he can use, lest spoilage ensue.

>>However I cannot accept the underlying premiss
>>of your total, absolute, and unqualified entitlement to the fruits of
>>your labor, along with the fruits of labor undertaken on your behalf
>>by your servants, purportedly acting as thoroughly disenfranchised
>>proxies of your productive effort.

>I have already allowed that I have no quarrel with a tiny portion of the
>fruits of my labor being used for a system of justice (including law
>enforcement), and national defense. This is simply an insurance premium
>against losing my life, liberty, or property to some foreign or domestic
>despoiler.

That is insufficient. The principle of commutative justice demands
that whenever your action causes unwarranted damage to any other man,
you must make a commensurate compensation to the injured party. At
the limit of your apple trade, you are bound to injure any number of
men, on which see U.S. Government versus Standard Oil.

>>For already in inaugurating the
>>property relation between you as the apple grower and the marketplace
>>that establishes the value of your fruit, you enter into a system of
>>complex relations with everybody else capable of becoming a consumer
>>or producer of similar goods. Suppose that you exploit the economies
>>of scale to corner the market on apples, thereby directly influencing
>>the all potential apple eaters and growers. This course of economic
>>events stands in sharp distinction from the scenario wherein you grow
>>the same quantity of apples for your own consumption, influencing the
>>global apple market only minimally by withdrawing therefrom your own
>>demand for apples. In the former case, the value of what you produce
>>is not solely a function of the labor that you invest into it, but
>>also of how others value the results of your labor. Inevitably, this
>>social valuation incurs a range of costs that in all fairness must be
>>borne by its beneficiaries, returning value to society in proportion
>>with the advantage they derive therefrom -- a case for commutative
>>justice.

>Monopolies are indeed a source of injustice; however, this form of injustice
>is typically short-lived (except in the case of government). If the Bill
>Gates of apple orchards raises the price of apples too high, we can always
>eat figs. The biggest danger is that a true monopoly of one of life's
>necessities arises (e.g. food). Luckily, this has not occurred often
>throughout history, and when it has, it has typically been as disastrous for
>the monopolizer as the monopolized.

You are not addressing the issue. John D. Rockefeller was trading in
one of the necessities of life. Was his monopoly disbanded unjustly?
Surely no appeal to luck or likelihood will suffice to settle issues
of right and wrong.

>>In particular, if the valuation of your goods is made in
>>terms of their monetary value, relating them to an elaborate fiction
>>of mortgages of all community holdings that purportedly undergird its
>>currency, the direct and consequential social costs of your trading in
>>commodities rise precipitously out of all proportion with its volume.
>>Consider for example the obvious case of currency trading, known to
>>destabilize the economies of entire societies in one fell swoop, with
>>the aggregate losses caused by the ensuing economic collapse exceeding
>>by several orders of magnitude the total trading gains realized by the
>>responsible parties. Who should bear such costs in your minimal state?

>My minimalist state would have issued little currency, if any - much like
>the United States prior to the Civil War. Currency would, by and large, be
>issued by private financial institutions. These institutions would bear the
>costs of your destabilizing currency transactions. Smart institutions would
>back a large percentage of their currency with gold or other commodities so
>that they would be largely immune to such transactions. Less clever
>institutions would more likely be affected; they would lose the confidence
>of their investors, and would go under. It would behoove each investor to
>investigate prospective institutions before they invest. Caveat Emptor.

This sounds like the makings of a postmodern reincarnation of John
Law's System. However the main problem with your expectation is its
susceptibility to monopolization through institutional competition,
growth, and attrition, with the ensuing monopoly subject to the usual
speculative abuses in the absence of effective judicial restrictions
on predatory currency trading.

Paul M. Johnson

unread,
Apr 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/16/99
to

>[...]

>Paying for protective services does not begin to cover the costs that


>I have in mind; nor is disagreeably designated rectificatory justice
>required to underwrite the extraction of moolah from an individual who
>refuses to pony up. The brute fact stands that money, by its socially
>designated nature, cannot belong entirely to any one person, let alone
>accrue to him solely through his choice of doing, and according to
>what he makes for himself.


Normally, it will accrue to him through the choice of another,
who holds it.


>On the contrary, as a freely convertible
>representation of an economic exchange potential, it exists, and can
>be allotted, appropriated, possessed, and expended, only through the
>sufferance of the society as a cohesive whole. Hence any allotment,
>appropriation, possession, and expenditure of money incurs direct and
>consequential social costs that are subject to just and commensurate,
>i.e. progressive, compensation through direct and indirect taxation.


One thing that makes this argument difficult to evaluate is the
obscurity of the predicate "sufferance". What is the damage
that society incurs when A exchanges his money for B's product,
in general? If you are talking about the kind of efforts that society
must engage in in order to make this sort of thing possible--like
enforcing contracts--your argument won't have a whisper of
plausibility unless these sort of activities can be made out to
be *net* costs. For society would be impudent in the extreme
to demand payment for activities which were beneficial to it, all
things considered.

But it looks to me like your argument averts its eyes from the
situation too soon, and fails to take into account relevant facts
that bear on the issue of to what extent the hypothetical
exchanger is indebted to society. In particular, one relevant
fact is that the exchanger is, say, the one-millionth part of his
society, and consequently he is, on your analysis, due his
one-millionth share of his fellow citizens' debts to society
as they in turn become exchangers. A miniscule share, no
doubt, but there are one million of them. Carry out the
multiplication--that comes to a full share, just what he is
said to owe. Or put it this way: there is no reason, in general,
to think that any random exchanger's debt to society exceeds
what he is owed by society. And mutual commensurable debts
have the nice feature of cancelling. One hand washes the
other, but Lefty doesn't owe Righty anything--it's a wash.


>I do not recall any recantations of Nozick's youthful vigor, unless
>you subsume under this rubric his purple encomium to the phenomenology
>of ripe strawberries. Please advise.


My recollection is very hazy, but I think it's in _The Examined Life_.
The thrust seemed to be that he hadn't realized back in his
younger days that people have a legitimate interest in being
busybodies. Or something in that same ballpark.

Paul J.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/17/99
to
Paul M. Johnson <aug...@micron.net> wrote:
>Michael Zeleny wrote:
>>Paul M. Johnson wrote:
>>>Michael Zeleny wrote:

>>[...]

Indeed. So why does the libertarian fiction of property acquisition
commence with its alienation from nature, irrespectively of another's
choices?

Suppose that Lefty the hedge fund manager is a compulsive gambler who
has been rescued from the brink of ruin by a bunch of wealthy arsehole
buddies in the investment banking industry, owing to their government
connections. Suppose further that Lefty, bloodied but unbowed, and
certainly none the wiser, is continuing to make leveraged bets to the
tune of 80% of your government's budget. Suppose finally that there
are some 100,000,000 Righties encumbered with the usual variable rate
credit obligations. What does Lefty owe to the Righties at the point
of his financial collapse precipitating a global credit crunch?

>>I do not recall any recantations of Nozick's youthful vigor, unless
>>you subsume under this rubric his purple encomium to the phenomenology
>>of ripe strawberries. Please advise.

>My recollection is very hazy, but I think it's in _The Examined Life_.
>The thrust seemed to be that he hadn't realized back in his
>younger days that people have a legitimate interest in being
>busybodies. Or something in that same ballpark.

Thanks -- I'll look into it once again.

Paul M. Johnson

unread,
Apr 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/17/99
to
Michael Zeleny wrote in message <7f901t$7bq$1...@carroll.library.ucla.edu>...

You've got a problem with "Finders, Keepers" as a first principle?

Let me say first that concentrating upon the freakish leads to
bad philosophizing. And that your earlier claim was that *every*
"allotment, appropriation, expenditure, and possession of money
incurs direct and consequential social costs". It's the mundane
case that I'd like to hear about--the social costs that are caused
by normal, regular old exchanges (but using private money,
naturally, as we wouldn't want something to creep in which
was a consequence of govenmentally established money--
forbidden by Nozick).

As for the specific case you bring up, I can't see that Lefty
owes the Righties anything. If a credit crunch is a relative
unwillingness (compared to the status quo ante) of credit
vendors to extend credit at the previous rates, then to consider
the occurrence of this a compensatable cost is tantamount
to saying that the Righties somehow had a right to the
continuance of the credit vendors' willingness to offer credit
at the previous rates, which notion seems to me to be absurd
on its face.

It is a commonplace that bad consequences can result from
people acting entirely within their rights. Often, A's coming
to terms with B forecloses C's dearly cherished hope. This
is called "bad fortune".

Paul J.

Charles Eby

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Apr 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/18/99
to
Michael Zeleny wrote in message <7f6d6h$jfd$1...@carroll.library.ucla.edu>...

>>>Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:
>
>>I have already allowed that I have no quarrel with a tiny portion of the
>>fruits of my labor being used for a system of justice (including law
>>enforcement), and national defense. This is simply an insurance premium
>>against losing my life, liberty, or property to some foreign or domestic
>>despoiler.
>
>That is insufficient. The principle of commutative justice demands
>that whenever your action causes unwarranted damage to any other man,
>you must make a commensurate compensation to the injured party. At
>the limit of your apple trade, you are bound to injure any number of
>men, on which see U.S. Government versus Standard Oil.

Life does not normally occur at the "limits".

>>Monopolies are indeed a source of injustice; however, this form of
injustice
>>is typically short-lived (except in the case of government). If the Bill
>>Gates of apple orchards raises the price of apples too high, we can always
>>eat figs. The biggest danger is that a true monopoly of one of life's
>>necessities arises (e.g. food). Luckily, this has not occurred often
>>throughout history, and when it has, it has typically been as disastrous
for
>>the monopolizer as the monopolized.
>
>You are not addressing the issue. John D. Rockefeller was trading in
>one of the necessities of life. Was his monopoly disbanded unjustly?
>Surely no appeal to luck or likelihood will suffice to settle issues
>of right and wrong.

Although I consider myself an ardent Libertarian, you have caused me to
rethink things at the boundary conditions. You are certainly correct that
morality cannot be based on luck or likelihood; however, life does not
usually dwell on boundary conditions. A coherent moral system must be based
on ordinary life and must not be overly concerned with situations at the
limits. Every moral system breaks down in emergency situations.

>>My minimalist state would have issued little currency, if any - much like
>>the United States prior to the Civil War. Currency would, by and large,
be
>>issued by private financial institutions. These institutions would bear
the
>>costs of your destabilizing currency transactions. Smart institutions
would
>>back a large percentage of their currency with gold or other commodities
so
>>that they would be largely immune to such transactions. Less clever
>>institutions would more likely be affected; they would lose the confidence
>>of their investors, and would go under. It would behoove each investor to
>>investigate prospective institutions before they invest. Caveat Emptor.
>
>This sounds like the makings of a postmodern reincarnation of John
>Law's System. However the main problem with your expectation is its
>susceptibility to monopolization through institutional competition,
>growth, and attrition, with the ensuing monopoly subject to the usual
>speculative abuses in the absence of effective judicial restrictions
>on predatory currency trading.


Once again, you are dwelling on the limits.

Chuck

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/18/99
to
Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> wrote:
>Michael Zeleny wrote:
>>Charles Eby wrote:

>>>I have already allowed that I have no quarrel with a tiny portion of the
>>>fruits of my labor being used for a system of justice (including law
>>>enforcement), and national defense. This is simply an insurance premium
>>>against losing my life, liberty, or property to some foreign or domestic
>>>despoiler.

>>That is insufficient. The principle of commutative justice demands
>>that whenever your action causes unwarranted damage to any other man,
>>you must make a commensurate compensation to the injured party. At
>>the limit of your apple trade, you are bound to injure any number of
>>men, on which see U.S. Government versus Standard Oil.

>Life does not normally occur at the "limits".

True enough. But the limit cases, in the glaring obviousness of their
dynamics, are invaluable tools for discovering the forces at play in
the modal cases. If a unit of currency is primarily an intrinsic good
like an apple, its movement can be reasoned through without much broad
social consideration; if however it is a representation of reciprocal
social realities backed by fictitious mortgages on public properties
that are enforced by a government fiat, the rules of reasoning must
take into account all of these complexities. My main point above is
that some of these complexities arise even in the trade of basic
commodities.

>>>Monopolies are indeed a source of injustice; however, this form of
>>>injustice is typically short-lived (except in the case of government).
>>>If the Bill Gates of apple orchards raises the price of apples too
>>>high, we can always eat figs. The biggest danger is that a true
>>>monopoly of one of life's necessities arises (e.g. food). Luckily,
>>>this has not occurred often throughout history, and when it has, it
>>>has typically been as disastrous for the monopolizer as the monopolized.

>>You are not addressing the issue. John D. Rockefeller was trading in
>>one of the necessities of life. Was his monopoly disbanded unjustly?
>>Surely no appeal to luck or likelihood will suffice to settle issues
>>of right and wrong.

>Although I consider myself an ardent Libertarian, you have caused me to


>rethink things at the boundary conditions. You are certainly correct that
>morality cannot be based on luck or likelihood; however, life does not
>usually dwell on boundary conditions. A coherent moral system must be based
>on ordinary life and must not be overly concerned with situations at the
>limits. Every moral system breaks down in emergency situations.

Surely stability in emergency situations is a basic criterion for the
soundness of any moral system meant to underwrite a public order?

>>>My minimalist state would have issued little currency, if any - much
>>>like the United States prior to the Civil War. Currency would, by and
>>>large, be issued by private financial institutions. These institutions
>>>would bear the costs of your destabilizing currency transactions. Smart
>>>institutions would back a large percentage of their currency with gold
>>>or other commodities so that they would be largely immune to such
>>>transactions. Less clever institutions would more likely be affected;
>>>they would lose the confidence of their investors, and would go under.
>>>It would behoove each investor to investigate prospective institutions
>>>before they invest. Caveat Emptor.

>>This sounds like the makings of a postmodern reincarnation of John
>>Law's System. However the main problem with your expectation is its
>>susceptibility to monopolization through institutional competition,
>>growth, and attrition, with the ensuing monopoly subject to the usual
>>speculative abuses in the absence of effective judicial restrictions
>>on predatory currency trading.

>Once again, you are dwelling on the limits.

As a matter of fact, I am mimicking Nozick's libertarian argument for
the emergence of the minimal state out of free competition of private
protective agencies in the state of nature. As with protection, so
with commerce; as with monopolies on use of violence, so with central
currency.

Michael Zeleny

unread,
Apr 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/18/99
to

>>>>[...]

Depends on what is being found. How do you feel about property taxes?

I don't see how govenmentally established money could be forbidden in
good conscience by Nozick, given that his minimal government emerges
from free competition between private protective agencies in the state
of nature, just as legal tender would inexorably emerge, and in fact
did emerge, from free competition between privately issued currencies.
As regards the freakish that reveals the mundane -- provebially, the
attraction exercised by an entire planet upon a tiny apple might tell
us something about forces that arise between all things big and small.

>As for the specific case you bring up, I can't see that Lefty
>owes the Righties anything. If a credit crunch is a relative
>unwillingness (compared to the status quo ante) of credit
>vendors to extend credit at the previous rates, then to consider
>the occurrence of this a compensatable cost is tantamount
>to saying that the Righties somehow had a right to the
>continuance of the credit vendors' willingness to offer credit
>at the previous rates, which notion seems to me to be absurd
>on its face.

But if Lefty trades in legal tender, i.e. goods backed by fictitious
mortgages upon public properties, his trades perforce manipulate very
real mortgages that bind millions of Righties. Such manipulation can
warrant commutative compensation even before you decide how you feel
about property taxes.

Consider another example: Soros shorting the pound sterling and the
ringgit to enrich himself and precipitate economic turmoil in Great
Britain and Malaysia.

>It is a commonplace that bad consequences can result from
>people acting entirely within their rights. Often, A's coming
>to terms with B forecloses C's dearly cherished hope. This
>is called "bad fortune".

"The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."

Puss in Boots

unread,
Apr 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/25/99
to
Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> to MZ:

>>Insofar as my ability to retain my bushel of apples in a hostile world in
>>order to barter with you requires a system of distributive justice, I agree.
>>And Locke would agree that a minimal governmental body is necessary to
>>protect my rights to my own property and the fruits of my labor (quite
>>literally in this case). Few would disagree with you on this point. There
>>is a great disparity at present between this necessary minimal governmental
>>authority and what we have in the modern-day welfare state.

Just a note, but those apples are literally not the fruits
of your labor. Literally speaking, apples are the fruit
of apple trees. Work as you may and work as you might, you
won't make an apple. Same case re "self-made man." From small
streams oceans flow.

ObShortStory: Heinlein, "By His Bootstraps."

-- Moggin

Richard Harter

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Apr 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/25/99
to
mog...@mindspring.com (Puss in Boots) wrote:

>Charles Eby <cj...@erols.com> to MZ:
>

>>>Insofar as my ability to retain my bushel of apples in a hostile world in
>>>order to barter with you requires a system of distributive justice, I agree.
>>>And Locke would agree that a minimal governmental body is necessary to
>>>protect my rights to my own property and the fruits of my labor (quite
>>>literally in this case). Few would disagree with you on this point. There
>>>is a great disparity at present between this necessary minimal governmental
>>>authority and what we have in the modern-day welfare state.
>

> Just a note, but those apples are literally not the fruits
>of your labor. Literally speaking, apples are the fruit
>of apple trees. Work as you may and work as you might, you
>won't make an apple. Same case re "self-made man." From small
>streams oceans flow.

Most self-made men are examples of unskilled labor.

> ObShortStory: Heinlein, "By His Bootstraps."

Better yet, "All you zombies" - self-made in three senses of the term.


Richard Harter, c...@tiac.net, The Concord Research Institute
URL = http://www.tiac.net/users/cri, phone = 1-978-369-3911
What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?
Mechanical Engineers build weapons, Civil Engineers build targets.

Puss in Boots

unread,
Apr 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM4/26/99
to
c...@tiac.net (Richard Harter)

> Most self-made men are examples of unskilled labor.

Moggin:



>> ObShortStory: Heinlein, "By His Bootstraps."

Richard:



> Better yet, "All you zombies" - self-made in three senses of the term.

How about _Time Enough for Love_? The time-travel episode.

-- Moggin

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