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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10747/michael-moore-kills-capitalism-with-kool-aid/

Michael Moore Kills Capitalism with Kool-Aid

October 1, 2009 by

Moore is a rather simple guy. He is likable. He sees the world as good guys (people with no money) and bad guys (people with money). His Flint, Michigan, union-worker upbringing is his worldview. If you did not have that upbringing or if your life started less severe than his, you are an evil capitalist. If, on the other hand, you are a laid-off factory worker with a sixth-grade education, you are a true hero.

I don’t care one way or the other that he has that view and I am not knocking union workers, but Moore sees the world through a class-warfare lens resulting in a certain agenda: force wealth to be spread amongst everyone regardless of effort. FULL ARTICLE by Michael Covel.

{ 104 comments }

Jero October 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

Ribald,

Thanks for taking the time to give a thoughtful reply. You certainly make some good points. I still believe that you are missing some things, however.

For one, you are omitting donations from corporations, corporate foundations, and bequests (just a quick browse on the net and it seems that this accounts for about 25% of charitable giving).

As well, you are pricing the cost of health care as the price of insurance. Are you assuming that full-coverage insurance is needed to provide adequate health care? To me, there seems to be no reason why insurance need be connected to non-catastrophic health care. This is especially so if we are talking about health care provided by charities.

ALso problematic are the assumptions implicit in using the stat that 45 million are uninsured. This seems to suggest that these people are just too poor to afford insurance even though they really want it. The Congressional Budget Office did a report a few years ago in which they found that about 45% of those who are uninsured at any one point in time get reinsured within four months. Their insurance was tied to their workplace, they left their jobs, then regained insurance when they regained employment. And it is government policy of not allowing tax deductibility of insurance when purchased privately while allowing deductions when it is purchased through an employer which makes insurance significantly more expensive for those who do not get insurance through employment.

Additionally, a lot of people don’t but insurance because they deem it too expensive, not because they are too poor. (I’ve been told that when the California Medical Association looked at it, a few years back, they found that 30% of those without insurance had incomes of over $50,000). Young people, especially, don’t see that need to buy insurance especially when it’s so expensive.

Thus we can significantly cut down that figure of 45 million uninsured.

As for your “generous” assumptions, I don’t find them particularly generous. SO much of the cost of health care can be traced to government intervention, from the FDA approval process to insurance regulations to the AMA’s monopoly on the medical profession that your “generous” assumptions seem appropriate to me.

As for co-ops, etc. You make a good point. I guess I just wonder why those types of organizations were so prevalent in the past (lodges, mutual aid societies, etc.). I guess that’s a larger question of the decline of civil society (of course I blame government intrusion).

Brian Drake October 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Libertarian Bullshit,

I’ll try to address your posts in order.

——————
“That’s right. The rich are rich because of the “PHR33 MARK3T”"
——————

You are correct in pointing out that libertarians find few (if any) examples of sustained, truly free markets, and so, yes, a “mixed economy” makes it impossible to make generalizations of how people gained wealth. Did they steal it (directly, or through active participation in government) or did they earn it (by benefiting their fellow man through voluntary trade)?

Any libertarian who claims all “rich” people earned their wealth legitimately is mistaken (and though some may state that glibly, I’d be surprised to find any that truly assert that). But it is also mistaken to claim “they [the "rich"] were the primary beneficiaries of government COERCION”. Each individual case is…individual. Some “rich” are thieves, others are just better at trading with their fellow man.

——————
“Because “Liberatarians “don’t care about anything other than (RETROACTIVELY) justifying the CURRENT DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH, EVEN IF FORCE AND FRAUD WERE EXTENSIVELY USED TO CREATE THAT DISTRIBUTION.”
——————

Justice has no statute of limitations and the “libertarian” who would deny a legitimate and supported claim of wrongdoing in the acquisition of wealth is not a libertarian. However, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Unfortunately, time, bureaucracy, and a myriad of other factors make the burden of proof very difficult to provide in many cases. Human beings are not omniscient, so injustice may go unrighted, especially with the currently existing States muddying the waters so.

But injustice is not corrected by more injustice. Without “due process” establishing who was wronged and who did the wronging, justice cannot be served by collectively rewarding some at the expense of others on the general assumption of guilt.

——————
“they are the direct beneficiaries of FORCE AND FRAUD. ”
——————

Being a beneficiary does not make one guilty. If someone breaks your window (acting on their own), you have been wronged and the window-breaker (and he alone) is guilty.

If I sell windows and you decide you would prefer to trade with me to replace your broken window, I have benefited from your misfortune. That does not make me guilty, nor have I “exploited” you. Your situation (windowless) is not my fault and rather than “exploit you”, by offering to trade I am actually benefiting you by providing you a new option (you don’t have to remain windowless if you choose).

I may be a “direct beneficiary” of force (in this case), but I am not a direct cause of the force so I bear no responsibility for it.

—————-
SINCE THEY ALREADY HAVE ALL THE (STOLEN) LAND AND THEY DON’T WANT IT TAKEN BACK FROM THEM
—————-

If my friend steals your car, and I knowingly buy it from him, I’d agree that I’m a criminal.

But if a car thief sells to a used-car dealership, and I buy from the dealership, not knowing of the theft, I’m not responsible.

The debt owed is between the thief (and his knowing accomplices) and the original owner. If the stolen item is uniquely irreplaceable (determined by the owner), then the thief must make every effort to legitimately re-acquire the stolen property to return it. If that means paying me 2 or 3 times the car’s original worth, so be it. If I refuse to sell (or demand a price impossible for the thief to pay), the owner still only has a claim against the thief and the thief must make recompense to the best of their ability. A competitive market of “justice provision” would be the best available option to finding the balance between what is possible and what is just. Pure justice administered by fallible human beings is a stupid, utopian fantasy. But economics can inform us that the closest we can possibly come to true justice is best achieved through competition, not monopoly.

Not all Native American land was taken by force or fraud either, some voluntarily traded for it. So like the general condemnation (or praise) of the “rich”, it’s dishonest to claim all North American land is “stolen property” and condemn all who inhabit it currently.

——————
“ANYBODY WHO SATISFIES THOSE WANTS HAS EXPLOITED AND IS THE BENEFICIARY OF GOVERNMENT DISTORTION. ”
——————

Again, who is responsible for the distortion? That I benefit from your misfortune does not automatically make me complicit in it. Was I actively lobbying for that government intervention? If so, yes I am guilty. But if not, then I have no blame.

——————
THEOREM: Fractional Reserve Banking is not inherently fraudulent
——————
Your proof appears correct and I see no incompatibility with libertarianism. Your theoretical is not an accurate description of the current banking system, but it’s valid in theory.

——————
THEOREM: Intellectual Property (such as Copyrights) does not require the use of force to exist.
——————
I don’t know any anti-IP libertarian who doesn’t agree that 2 parties can contract to keep an idea secret/exclusive. But as has been pointed out in another poster’s response (and of course in much of Kinsella’s work), if the 2nd party breaches contract and gives the idea to a 3rd party, ONLY the 2nd party can be prosecuted (for breach of contract). The 3rd party, not being a consenter to the contract, is under none of the contract’s restraints. And since ideas are not scarce and therefore cannot be “property”, it cannot be said 3rd party has committed theft. So the contract idea does not validate the idea of “intellectual property”, it simply illustrates the use (and limitations) of contracts.

—————–
THEOREM: Any government service/monopoly/subsidy/protection can exist in a free market.
——————
You’d have to be more specific, though I suspect I’d agree.

—————-
THEOREM: A government/state can be created through voluntary contracts
—————-
This is where the semantic difference between “government” and “State” comes into play (though admittedly, many libertarians, including myself, use them interchangeably). I will agree that in your example, the property owners have created a “government”, but not a “State”. A “State” is institution which claims a monopoly on the legitimate force in a declared territory.

If all of the members of owner set X agree to only contract with one “government” agency, that is fine. But if any of them do not consent (contract), and the others persist in declaring their “government’s” jurisdiction extends to the non-consenting owners property, they have created a State.

Semantics? Maybe, but an important distinction. The main problem the libertarian has with any State (as I understand it) is the concept of jurisdiction by fiat. Jurisdiction by explicit, legitimate contract is compatible with libertarianism.

I actually think contractual slavery would not only be possible in a libertarian society, but fairly prevalent at first since so many have been raised to be dependent on others to provide for them, protect them, and tell them how to live.

—————-
THEOREM: All property in the United States is owned by the Federal Government of the United States;
—————-
For this entire point, I would refer you to Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority” (available freely online). Your narrative of the formation of the States, the US, and their acquisition of land is a-historical and laughably false.

————–
The governments of the several States were created by voluntary action among individuals.
————–
Unless 100% of those who owned the property of the declared jurisdiction of each State, their formation of such governments was illegitimate. And again, Spooner demolishes the idea that any such contract forming a government ever existed.

—————
Those individuals were implicitly homesteading on all land claimed by their respective States simply by the act of claiming such land as theirs.
—————
You are incorrectly defining homesteading. As you pointed out earlier, much of that land was already owned by Native Americans and such claims of ownership were thus invalid. “Claiming” is not “first appropriation”. Those claiming the land have no right to it until they appropriate it from nature. “I own Jupiter” is a meaningless utterance. Should future generations settle on that planet, if any of my heirs use force to “enforce my homestead” they are the aggressors and if they succeed, they are simply thieves.

—————
You quite literally are renting from the government…they can break their own rules; it’s their property
—————
I agree with your depiction of the current state of affairs. Ownership is control and control is ownership. The government most definitely makes claim of ownership of all land in its jurisdiction, and in controlling that property, and those on it, they are claiming ownership of all citizenry as well.

But is it legitimate ownership or simply thievery? Back to Spooner. At no point has there ever been a “social contract” granting such ownership. If such a contract exists, let it be produced and let those who have signed it declare themselves.

—————
Or maybe you actually don’t have a problem with private taxation, private eminent domain, private conscription, etc.
—————
Nope.

Ribald October 2, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Jero,

You bring up more good points, but I don’t think they adequately meet the shortfall.

Including omitted donations, charity increases by 33% (if they are 25% of all donations).

The average price of insurance is assumed to closely match the average cost of providing care, plus a small markup for profit and costs. We can assume for the sake of argument that insurance + care costs 20% more than the average cost of care.

You’re right to some extent that the 45 million uninsured are not all uninsured because they can’t afford it. However, they require care regardless of whether they are insured, and the proportion that can afford to pay out-of-pocket for critical care, but don’t want to buy insurance, is extremely slim. Given that more than 80% of bankruptcies are caused by the inability to pay medical fees, we can also presume that those who don’t have insurance can’t generally pay for critical care. Recall: a $50,000 salary is reduced by taxes and inflation. Factoring in cost of living (California…) and average cost of care without insurance can make that much money seem tiny.

Regardless, we’ll (for the sake of argument) cut the 45 million by 50%, because the cost of insurance is assumed to be halved by the free market, and more would be able to afford it.

The numbers come out to $6,666 per person of 22.5 million people. $127 billion in charity vs $75 billion in costs. Hooray!

Of course, I’d say that those numbers were massaged with a sledge hammer to get them to add up favorably, but I suppose I can’t complain. Assuming the free market would provide care at half the cost, that health and human services are both healthcare (solely for the poor), that 100% of charity money funds patient care, that half of the current uninsured would be insured in a free market, and that insurance has a 20% markup are all…reasonable…assumptions, though they aren’t backed up by real data.

Here’s something: Only the best charities are capable of close to 90% efficiency in providing money to their causes. Many charities give only around 10 to 20% (and you’d think such charities would never get any money. Weird, huh?). Of health charities, a significant percentage are charities for health *research*, not patient care.

Also, how about considering those whose costs are currently born by the government? My initial calculation implicitly assumed that their care would be paid for as products by everyone else (bizarre), or that they would be able to afford care and/or insurance on their own (unlikely). That comes out to far more than half a trillion dollars, but if we assume it costs just $100 billion to meet this need, charity is *still* insufficient.

Hence, more skepticism.

As a final note, the “decline in civil society” due to government is a rather nebulous idea. Let’s look at the top 16 countries in charity involvement to see how much government has destroyed civility.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_mem_of_vol_org_cha-lifestyle-members-voluntary-organisations-charity

The US is at #2 in charity involvement. Whoddathunkit? Apparently, we’re pretty righteous, in spite of our government. How about that decline in civil society now?

Strangely, the entire European Union seems to be in the top 17. Where are the free market economies? :’(

SirThinkALot May 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Micheal Moore is a perfectly example of what makes capitalism great: He’s earned millions of dollars by expressing hatred and disdain for the very system that allows him the opportunity to earn those millions.

It truly is as Mises said: The Market provides for everybody…even those who want to hear it publicly criticized.

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