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Old 12-18-2011, 10:20 PM   #1
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Default So, Governments and encroachment

As a disclaimer before I start:

If you either think liberals good, conservatives bad, or conservatives good, liberals bad - this post isn't for you and will probably **** you off.

With that said....

Recently, this forum and a lefty forum* I visit have been making me think.

At what point do we want private business to take over something?

If you look at the US's past history, it would be dishonest to say that the government should never get involved and should turn everything over to the private sector. One good example is our highway systems. If it wasn't for the government's involvement with them, I am completely confident in saying that they would not exist. Further, I am completely confident in saying if the government gave them over to private business now, they would be falling apart in a short period of time except for certain critical areas. Finally, if it wasn't for the government's involvement in highways, I am confident in saying they would not have existed - and the US would not be anywhere near where it is today.

I am confident in saying this is one example of which the government should be taking over, and the private sector shouldn't be involved in. However, I also agree that the government shouldn't be as big or as far-reaching as it is.

Here is one example as to what I am talking about there. I know someone who tried farming grain for a year. He lost a lot of money on it - not because his costs were higher than the selling, but because there were so many fees related to government mandates. Additionally, from what he told me, the FTC** stole him blind. The only way he could have made money was to jump in the subsidies bandwagon - and if he did that, he would have been able to make a lot of money for having a crop that was vastly inferior to what he grew.

I am equally confident that the government shouldn't be involved in this area - the moment anything has to be subsidized to make a profit, there's a serious problem.

Where is the line drawn? Or, more specifically, where do you think the line should be drawn?

*: Don't worry gays, they swear I'm a hardcore republican and the antichrist there.

**: Why the **** is the FTC involved in if local producers can sell their [insert product] to local buyers anyways?!?
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:52 AM   #2
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I've had a similiar conversation with a colleague who is pretty libertarian. I find myself in a similar position as blaen: I believe in smaller government but I think it's incorrect to oversimplify as "all government spending is bad." I think much of the public infrastructure is a viable example.

I find it hard to imagine how you would have interstates or even city roads owned, maintained and operated strictly by the private sector unless they were all converted to toll roads.
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:56 AM   #3
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Other than simply asserting that it is obviously so, what's the argument for the necessity of government controlling the construction and maintenance of roads?

The Privatization of Roads and Highways, by Walter Block
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:00 AM   #4
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Is it fair that the fed holds highway project money hostage to the states that dont fall in line?

Is it fair that the money specifically raised by motorists for motorists doesn't always go back into the roads?

I'd argue that if VDOT was replaced by a private company, the roads would be much better off -- doesnt mean the state still doesn't finance and run the show, but a real company would take the reigns and get **** done, for less.

geoff is mirroring exactly what my third paragraph is saying.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:48 AM   #5
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You will not see any type of efficiency until tax revenue is treated responsibly, rather than the current implementation or "spending money is success". The lack of a bottom line for government is the problem.
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:03 PM   #6
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Is this why we budget, in medicaid, 700 million a year for powered wheelchairs at $3000 a pop when the inspector general found that, in 52 percent of the cases, the Medicare claims were "insufficiently documented to determine whether the power wheelchairs were medically necessary" and that in many cases a cheaper alternative would be better, but medicare doesn't full subsides them like they do with the powered wheelchair, so of course people take the wheelchair and often sell them on craigslist?


Behold my run on sentence!
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Braineack View Post
Is this why we budget, in medicaid, 700 million a year for powered wheelchairs at $3000 a pop when the inspector general found that, in 52 percent of the cases, the Medicare claims were "insufficiently documented to determine whether the power wheelchairs were medically necessary" and that in many cases a cheaper alternative would be better, but medicare doesn't full subsides them like they do with the powered wheelchair, so of course people take the wheelchair and often sell them on craigslist?


Behold my run on sentence!
...and next year both parties can come back and say "look, we used up all of the $700,000,000.00, we need more!!!" If any of that $700m was pulled over or migrated to another account type, that won't be discussed.
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:20 PM   #8
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http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb...760268331.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by braineacky
...for powered wheelchairs at $3000 a pop when the inspector general found...
Quote:
Originally Posted by craigslist ad
These chairs sell brand new for up to $3000.00 US
Get free medicaid wheelchair, sell on craigslist.

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The lack of a bottom line for government is the problem.
truth.
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
Other than simply asserting that it is obviously so, what's the argument for the necessity of government controlling the construction and maintenance of roads?

The Privatization of Roads and Highways, by Walter Block
I would be interested to read that book, although the blurb already makes me skeptical ("it cures everything and doesn't have any drawbacks!"). I really need to keep up with my speed reading practice if I am ever going to get through my reading list...

My premise is as I stated: "I find it hard to imagine how you would have interstates or even city roads owned, maintained and operated strictly by the private sector unless they were all converted to toll roads."

That is, I don't see a purely private sector business model that does not involve a fee-to-use program (i.e. toll roads).
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:06 PM   #10
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The simple version of the answer is:

The free market will work when there is competition where consumers/customer can vote with their wallets. This is true for mufflers, crops, and health care*. It is difficult to imagine this to be true with infrastructure such as highways (in a Minarchist system, outside of an Anarchocapitalist/Agorist system a la Walter Block above)

*health care is NOT a free market due to heavy corporatism / gov't intervention (e.g. they favored HMOs, so *you* are not the hospital's customer, the HMO is).
The AMA is a guild/cartel that erects barriers to entry of new docs, keeping their prices up. In contrast it is a much freer market for petsurance and pet health care.

For a free market to work there also needs to be near-zero gov't-installed barriers to entry. Example of barriers to entry: Banking (you are required by gov't to be part of the Federal Reserve system and have huge amounts of capital), illicit drugs (they're illegal by fiat), health care (hospitals have lobbied for regulations that block entry of small clinics - compare this to the numerous pet clinics), pharmaceuticals (the FDA makes testing very very expensive).

In contrast many capital intensive businesses with little gov't intervention have healthy competition and thus operate in a relatively free market. So high startup cost isn't necessarily a barrier to entry. For example, setting up a semiconductor fab, and a nationwide cellular network.

Last edited by JasonC SBB; 12-19-2011 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:06 PM   #11
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A big ******* LOL at what you are "completely confident" about.

I'll clarify later after work when I'm not limited to posting on my phone.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
I would be interested to read that book, although the blurb already makes me skeptical ("it cures everything and doesn't have any drawbacks!"). I really need to keep up with my speed reading practice if I am ever going to get through my reading list...

My premise is as I stated: "I find it hard to imagine how you would have interstates or even city roads owned, maintained and operated strictly by the private sector unless they were all converted to toll roads."

That is, I don't see a purely private sector business model that does not involve a fee-to-use program (i.e. toll roads).
Some counter arguments:

Correct, but there could be user subscriptions and use arrangements between companies, just like cell roaming agreements.

Besides, why should those that use the roads lightly, subsidize those that use them heavily? Here's an anlogy, why should those that choose to buy pay-per-use cell plans, pay the same as those that use gigabytes of data monthly data? Or worse, why should some of those light users pay more, just because they earn more, than heavy users who earn less?
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
That is, I don't see a purely private sector business model that does not involve a fee-to-use program (i.e. toll roads).
We already have a "fee to use" for roads and it's called federal income tax and state sales tax.
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:45 PM   #14
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:21 PM   #15
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Waiting on Vash before I weigh in with my 2cents, this thread has gotten interesting!
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:58 PM   #16
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I think the slogan of most of the right wing candidates should be

“Government is the problem, Vote for me and I will prove it.”

Liberal democracy as we have is supposed to curb the corruption by highly financed special interest. It is failing pretty badly I think because of the way we finance both our election process and the news media making most all candidates corrupt. Add to that the right wingers on the supreme court seem to be adamant about the death of our country due their view of the concepts of corporate personhood.

Then there are the ones that truly want to eliminate the government to nothing. Government can’t do wrong if they aren’t allowed to do anything people might want them too. Which I don’t buy into this cool aid ether for some of the reasons mentioned in the first post. Many things the government has taken over or invested in have made this country or it has significantly advanced science and technology we now take for granted and that private industry makes allot of money from where the free market would have never committed the investment.

My view, find the bad regulations and fix or get rid of them. Don’t get rid of good government. But realize mistakes will be made along the way often times with good intentions.

Bob
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:03 PM   #17
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Honestly, I think this thread will quickly devolve in to a case of non-feasible hypotheticals (a la Robinson Crusoe islands with no banking system and people saving because coconut trees deficit spend ).
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:22 PM   #18
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Scrappy's latest post got me posting. Vash, waiting on you buddy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
Honestly, I think this thread will quickly devolve in to a case of non-feasible hypotheticals (a la Robinson Crusoe islands with no banking system and people saving because coconut trees deficit spend ).
Well, there are countries very close to what I infer some people who have posted in this thread want. But they are third world countries. One thing that I've always not understood with the mindset I perceive with several posters is if they want it, and it already exists in a country, why not move there? Because it's a third world country? Okay...So, they are advocating for the US to become a third world country again? The US, during it's ascent to a first world country, shed some of the precepts several people here advocate in favor of the social good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonC SBB View Post
Some counter arguments:

Correct, but there could be user subscriptions and use arrangements between companies, just like cell roaming agreements.

Besides, why should those that use the roads lightly, subsidize those that use them heavily? Here's an anlogy, why should those that choose to buy pay-per-use cell plans, pay the same as those that use gigabytes of data monthly data? Or worse, why should some of those light users pay more, just because they earn more, than heavy users who earn less?
Can you honestly tell me that you truly believe that private companies would have made the interstate system as it is today? Very well then.

The internet. It was created directly due to government funding. I don't think anyone here would try to underestimate the importance. I bet the private sector would have created one, right?

And they have. It's called the "SMS" system. It's expensive, bulky, and doesn't do well. While I do not believe government funding and spending is the Be All and End All, I also do not believe that no government spending is the answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonC SBB View Post
*health care is NOT a free market due to heavy corporatism / gov't intervention (e.g. they favored HMOs, so *you* are not the hospital's customer, the HMO is).
The AMA is a guild/cartel that erects barriers to entry of new docs, keeping their prices up. In contrast it is a much freer market for petsurance and pet health care.

For a free market to work there also needs to be near-zero gov't-installed barriers to entry. Example of barriers to entry: Banking (you are required by gov't to be part of the Federal Reserve system and have huge amounts of capital), illicit drugs (they're illegal by fiat), health care (hospitals have lobbied for regulations that block entry of small clinics - compare this to the numerous pet clinics), pharmaceuticals (the FDA makes testing very very expensive).
The medical industry is an interesting place. I agree with many of your points (Especially small clinics, a lot of nations use these extensively to good effect!), but wonder "What do we do with no or minimal regulation of it?"

As an example, even with the heavy regulations it has, there are numerous issues within the medical system. Data leaks, patients dying due to physician fuckups, surgeons performing the wrong surgery are just a few examples off the top of my head. When you add in (potentially) no testing of drugs and the further implications, that scares me.

Quote:
In contrast many capital intensive businesses with little gov't intervention have healthy competition and thus operate in a relatively free market. So high startup cost isn't necessarily a barrier to entry. For example, setting up a semiconductor fab, and a nationwide cellular network.
I'm sorry, but the nationwide cellular network is laughable Jason. I don't mean this insultingly - but our cellular network is a joke compared to countries that operate based on government control of the network backbone, letting the phone companies lease it. I'll be dedicating an entire post to this at a later date, our crappy broadband network and cellular network are two major points I have in advocating for government spending.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Braineack View Post
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb...760268331.html

Get free medicaid wheelchair, sell on craigslist.

truth.
Report this as medicaid fraud. That's one thing I do not understand about a lot of posters here. You can report welfare fraud, or medicare/medicaid fraud. You can get them investigated and prosecuted. If you are convinced so many people do it, why don't you? For that matter, how do you know that wheelchair was acquired via medicaid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Braineack View Post
Is this why we budget, in medicaid, 700 million a year for powered wheelchairs at $3000 a pop when the inspector general found that, in 52 percent of the cases, the Medicare claims were "insufficiently documented to determine whether the power wheelchairs were medically necessary" and that in many cases a cheaper alternative would be better, but medicare doesn't full subsides them like they do with the powered wheelchair, so of course people take the wheelchair and often sell them on craigslist?
So, there's a flaw in the medicare system? You've got no arguments from me or anyone else that medicare has many flaws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hustler View Post
You will not see any type of efficiency until tax revenue is treated responsibly, rather than the current implementation or "spending money is success". The lack of a bottom line for government is the problem.
Agreed, Hustly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Braineack View Post
Is it fair that the fed holds highway project money hostage to the states that dont fall in line?

Is it fair that the money specifically raised by motorists for motorists doesn't always go back into the roads?
I agree with both these points, actually.

Quote:
I'd argue that if VDOT was replaced by a private company, the roads would be much better off -- doesnt mean the state still doesn't finance and run the show, but a real company would take the reigns and get **** done, for less.
This isn't always true, Brainy. If I understand you correctly, you are arguing that a private company always gets **** done faster, better, and for less, right? See below response for all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
Other than simply asserting that it is obviously so, what's the argument for the necessity of government controlling the construction and maintenance of roads?

The Privatization of Roads and Highways, by Walter Block
http://cdn.publicinterestnetwork.org...ts-Updated.pdf would dispute both your and Brainy's premise on multiple levels.

This uses hard data, rigorous scientific principles, and isn't merely an opinion piece like Block's work.
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:29 PM   #19
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lulz at that PDF. Some of the section headings:


The Public Will Not Receive Full Value

Private Companies Often Engage in Risky Financial Schemes

The Public Will Not Receive Full Value

Inadequate Oversight Exists to Ensure the Public Interest is Protected




Good thing these problems don't exist with public spending.



EDIT: Oh, so you've read Walter Block's book?
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:40 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
lulz at that PDF. Some of the section headings:

The Public Will Not Receive Full Value
Private Companies Often Engage in Risky Financial Schemes
The Public Will Not Receive Full Value
Inadequate Oversight Exists to Ensure the Public Interest is Protected


Good thing these problems don't exist with public spending.

EDIT: Oh, so you've read Walter Block's book?
I've read a great deal of his book, yes, actually. The thing is I view Block's book as mostly an opinion piece - I place a great deal more weight on anything that has real world examples backing it. You want an example, here you go

Quote:
Many infrastructure privatization deals became high-profile failures. Two dozen private toll roads went bankrupt in Mexico after 1994. The Thai government seized one railroad that had been in private hands in 1993. Britain renationalized its rail system from Railtrack, the private company that had purchased the rail system, in 2001.
Laugh at the study all you want, Mg, but it does not detract from what it says even if you don't agree with what it says.

However, and while I do not disagree those things exist in public spending, the argument of "Okay, so let's not make these EVEN WORSE!" holds appeal to me.

And here's another example that just hit me. I hear a lot of people saying we should privatize the post office. You know what? The Netherlands and several other countries did that.

I don't know of one Dutch that doesn't long for the days of their old post office back. Granted, there may be differences with others, but all that I have talked to about it universally hate the privatized new system (The delivery schedule is so much worse, they cut back on so many post offices so I can't get to one anymore, it's so much more expensive to send packages, etc.) compared to the old public system.
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