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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13725/venus-needs-some-austrians/

Venus Needs Some Austrians

August 30, 2010 by

The socialist dreamers of the Venus Project imagine a future society of incredible abundance. Robert Murphy explains that our world could become as wealthy as they say, but only through the defense of private property. FULL ARTICLE by Robert P. Murphy

{ 387 comments }

Aubrey Herbert August 30, 2010 at 8:30 am

The venus project guys are essentially anarcho-communists.
The Story of Trade and Money by Walter Block (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFbHw7VsNlI) helps cure the BS.

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm

yea but without the communist part which is a really big part

roy August 30, 2010 at 10:14 am

Reminds me of Anarres in “The Dispossessed”

As long as they use voluntary means only, more power to them, they’ll be poor but at least they’ll be peaceful.
OTOH.. if they believe that the end justifies the means… well The Road to Serfdom won’t be nice in the high seas…

Also, you should put these friends of yours in touch with the Seasteading Institute… It’ll be a perfect example of ancap-ansoc collaboration…

J. Murray August 30, 2010 at 10:14 am

Anarcho-communism is an oxymoron.

What they don’t seem to comprehend is that anarchy is a system that completely rejects authority at all levels. For communism to work, it must be authoritarian. Without an authoritarian force, any member of the society can collapse a communist system. I could simply walk in and take a larger share of anything the society provides and refuse to contribute to it and the imbalance would destroy the whole collaboration. This is basically how all the utopia projects attempted in America to “prove” the viability of socialism or communism all collapsed and all collapsed for the reason I just mentioned. Without a central dictator, the system will only fail even faster than it would with one.

Of course, to be fair, anarchy in its truest sense is also incompatible with capitalism and property rights. Because what is capitalism but individuals temporarily accepting authority in their lives to reach an end? What is a property right but the individual’s own authority over his property and domain? Anarchists have no choice but to reject such authority and without authority over your own domain, you have no property rights and without authority over the employees, the employer can’t run a company. That or chose a different term to describe the ideology becuase anarchy is a terrible descriptor for what the so-called anarcho-capitalists are after (that and it’s got a horrid PR image).

What I find irritating about such projects is the fundamental thesis behind the idea is that everything would be perfect if the fundamental rules of reality would stop being so stubborn and change to fit the ideal. Certainly, any political system would work if this was possible.

The real trick is figuring out the system to live under that maximizes the benefit based on the current, actual reality, not a made up one we would like to live under.

Jonathan Baltazar August 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

“Of course, to be fair, anarchy in its truest sense is also incompatible with capitalism and property rights.”

Thank you for saying that.

Peter August 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

What nonsense.

Gil August 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Nosense nothing. Anarchy is its truest form would mean no authority whatsoever. This is different from what many would regard as rightful, private authority.

Inquisitor August 30, 2010 at 11:17 am

Polycentric, competitive legal order. It’s just wordier than “anarcho-capitalism”.

Zorg August 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

“Of course, to be fair, anarchy in its truest sense is also incompatible with capitalism and property rights. Because what is capitalism but individuals temporarily accepting authority in their lives to reach an end?”

Well, that’s only if you are using the peculiar “anarcho-communist” view of anarchy
where any authority or hierarchy in society whatsoever is anathema. But this idea is certainly not
“anarchy in its truest sense”, unless you’re ceding the term completely to them.

Both capitalism and voluntary communism are compatible with at least my understanding
of “anarchy in its truest sense.” In a free society, people would certainly be free to
form communes by the voluntary choice of pooling their own resources, so that isn’t
the issue. The issue is always about coercion, and that is why anarcho-communism is
an oxymoron.

J. Murray August 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Precisely. Anarchy never discusses the concept of coercion vs voluntary behavior. The very basics of the word tell it all – “an” without, “archy” ruler. All of life is a series of constantly shifting variants of rulership, subservience, and equal partnership. Take the term “A Man’s Home is His Castle”. This means I have rulership over my home and all that is in it. And even voluntary is fairly limited concept as the only voluntary act you have is to exit my domain where my rulership doesn’t extend. While in my own rule, I can make whatever bizarre rules I want, you must follow them or exit the domain. No other choice exists. A true anarchist would say that I do not have those powers, that he is my equal in my home and I cannot command him to do anything while there. I cannot tell him to keep out of the fridge, to not pee on the carpet, nor tell him to leave.

That’s the true nature of the anarchist philosophy. Those people who riot, smash storefronts, and paint the A in a circle on the sides of cars are the real anarchists. The libertarian philosophy clearly doesn’t support such behavior because we don’t reject rulers. What we do reject are tiered rulers, that there is an ultimate ruler that trumps us over our own domain. We do not accept third party rulership, rulership of masses or individuals, over our own properties. No one has the ability to veto any decision we make regarding our own life, liberty, or property. That includes the inability of another to veto on the grounds he doesn’t accept a ruler.

And, again, anarchy is a dirty word no matter how you chose to look at the definition. It’s not a wise PR move to attempt to bring people into the concept of absolute property rights by using it. It’s far too commonly imagined as a Mad Max-style world. Thus is why it’s better to find a different word to use, not hijack one that never meant what we’re trying to say it means.

Helio August 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I would caution against absolutism in defining complex ideologies like anarchism. It is a given each individual injects their own flavors into any large idea set such as anarchism. As such, stating ‘That’s the true nature of anarchist philosophy.” is pontification and may not be accurate.

I have in the past labelled myself an anarchist, and I associate with many anarchists. However, I do not know of a single one that presupposes that “You don’t have those powers” (the just exercise of authority within your own domain”). This does not prove you are incorrect in all cases, only in the cases I have mentioned. I have come across many ancomms who hold anti-hiearchical positions but I won’t say they all do.

The central theme of anarcho-capitalism, as I have come to understand it, is not a rejection of authority, but rather a more consistent understanding of it. Ancaps reject authority that claims moral legitimacy derived from threatening bodily injury. Instead, ancaps embrace the idea that one’s will is supremely sovereign over their own physical person, and by logical extension, those posessions derived from exploration, transformation, and exchange.

It is true, that the meaning of anarchy is ‘without rulers’ is innacurate if one takes the position that the default owning mind of a person is inseperable from the physical body as it implies a ruler; the self. Rather, perhaps we need a word that means ‘natural ruler’ (or something similar). I do agree that using the word anarchist, without adjectives, evokes the colloquial meaning when talking with strangers and should be avoided.

But, its the ideas behind the word is what is important. That 1) Nobody has any greater natural claim to direct a person’s actions other than himself. 2) private property is a requirement of existing and acting in a world of scare resources through time.

Those two axioms, if embraced by people, enable capitalism.

Jonathan Baltazar August 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm

“It is true, that the meaning of anarchy is ‘without rulers’ is innacurate if one takes the position that the default owning mind of a person is inseperable from the physical body as it implies a ruler; the self.”

Come on. This definition of anarchy requires an entanglement with a completely irrelevant philosophy. Why is it so important to cling to inaccurate words just because they meet the status quo? Inaccurate diction is the main reason why Keynesian economics is ruling today.

Helio August 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm

“Why is it so important to cling to inaccurate words just because they meet the status quo? ”

Well, I would certainly be happy to leave the word anarchism to the communists, but one must use terms that the community understands. I personally like being known as an abolishionist because of the positive historical connotation. However, abolishionist implies being against a negative, rather than for a positive.

I’m all in favor of a better word to describe anarcho-capitalism. I just don’t know what it is. Any suggestions?

Jonathan Baltazar August 31, 2010 at 11:10 am

I think “capitalism” itself describes the concept accurately without a prefix. If anything, maybe “pure” capitalism?

mpolzkill September 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Yes, “abolitionist”, that’s all Spooner was. And he knew exactly what the next game the Masters were going to play was, and how many more they were going to snag.

Zorg September 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

For me, the term anarchy simply means no state, and the rulers in “no rulers”
refers to agents of the state – not authority figures in general. So I don’t have
a problem with it. I also think that it can actually be a good thing that people react
strongly upon first hearing it. It really seems to jar people and cause them to wonder
what on earth you might mean by it!

I would say though that perhaps in the long run the focus on the negative concept of
“no state” is not necessarily the best image to carry about in your mind even you when
you understand full well what is being proposed. The problem is psychological in that
people fear the collapse of the state because it’s all they’ve ever known and been
taught. A collapsed state does not necessarily equal a free society. It could lead
to one, but we would not want our philosophy to be associated with the potentially
horrible outcomes arising from the _mere fact_ of a colossal state collapse.

We have to transcend the “no state” image in people’s minds because it’s kind of like a blank page that they then fill in with pictures of every bogeyman and goblin they
ever conceived of since they were babes in arms.

Edgaras February 2, 2011 at 6:16 am

but you are excercizing authority over your own body. Isn’t it a contradiction, dude? You lost here. Your reductionism proved that you yourelf are inconsistent. By your definition, true anarchy is impossible, because man should reject his own authority over his body and let others do with him whatever they want. Kinda like collectivist slavery of some sort.

And I believe it was NEVER intended for anarchy to mean that what I have said nor what you have said. But you reduced the word’s meaning into meaningless mumbo-jumbo.

Jake_nonphixion August 31, 2010 at 11:22 am

I prefer the term Autarchy

Roger Pruyne September 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I think there is a real misunderstanding of what the word anarchy means, it is the combination of two words, an=no, archy=rule, just as wikipedia says monarchy “means the government which is ruled by one person”, and oligarchy means “a few”-”to rule, to govern, to command”. Wikipedia says anarchy means not-authority, as you have espoused, though it also says it means “a state of chaos or confusion”. I would like to say, that anarchy means a lot of things to a lot of people, when we impose our definitions of words which others use to represent their perspective, so that we can dismiss their credibility, we do injustice to them and their ideas.

I believe that when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, writing that “all men are created equal”, he used it as a rebuttal to the going political theory of the day: the Divine Right of Kings. Some still believe in the idea that none have divine rights over others, and we all should rule only ourselves, those people might call themselves anarchists.I agree that anarcho-communism is an oxymoron. I also believe that a post scarcity society might be realized in a truly free society, by some stretch of the definition, if there is one, even though our nature will always strive to create something precious, or scarce.

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:20 pm

there is a radio show that debunks the things you are saying here if no one else said it http://www.blogtalkradio.com/v-radio/2010/09/06/brandy-hume-returns-to-confront-austrian-neo-troll

roy August 30, 2010 at 10:22 am

Actually… anarcho-communism can work in very small societies (families, monasteries, tribes) where ostracism, peer pressure, the threat of expulsion are powerful.

(if you want to be a real purist.. they would need property rights over some consumer goods at the very least)…

Jonathan M. F. Catalán August 30, 2010 at 10:23 am

I’m not sure the Venus Project ignores the calculation debate or the fact that we live in a world of scarcity. They simply believe that through the use of technology both of these concepts can be effectively made irrelevant. Indeed, distribution and economization is to be done through the use of super computers and robots, where human labor is no longer necessary (and, as such, we effectively enter an era of super abundance, since it human labor which makes everything else scarce [see: Reisman, Capitalism]).

Ultimately, the Venus Project’s position is so ludicrous I am not sure it’s even worth debating with them. Maybe a popular article like this is needed to dissuade people from joining the movement (which has been, unfortunately, growing), but otherwise the Venus Project strikes me as similar to Scientology. In other words, it seems more of a cult movement than anything else.

The same place we host “Mises Monday”, here in San Diego, the Venus Project used to host meet-ups of their own (I’m not sure if they still do).

Renegade Division August 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Actually Venus Project people rely on a very simple principle(removing money out of the system), and then extend it to ridiculous lengths. When I try to debate with them it all comes down to this:

a) Whenever you point out any problem with their system, or how money is important, they point out an example(which ignores one lesson of economics so badly that Hazlitt would turn in his grave), to show how money prevented something.
b) Whenever you make a point strong enough that they cannot answer they say “You are so close minded and stuck up into our current paradigm that you cannot imagine a society with no scarcity would develop.”

Essentially what they are saying is that once we remove money, we will not need economic calculation, and if you disagree then its because you don’t have an open mind.

One more thing these people aren’t fired up and stuck up on class exploitation, so they take a completely voluntary approach, so despite of the fact that they ignore all realities of the world, many ‘libertarians’ get swooned into the ideas of Venus Project. In fact I know many Anarcho-capitalists who believe that in an anarcho-capitalist society there will be so much progress that we will not need money anymore(lets call them utopian anarcho-capitalist)

RTB August 30, 2010 at 9:11 pm


Indeed, distribution and economization is to be done through the use of super computers and robots, where human labor is no longer necessary (and, as such, we effectively enter an era of super abundance, since it human labor which makes everything else scarce

Right, and how do we get there? Who’s going to create these super computers and robots?

Gil August 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

By doing what we are already doing. It would has been said many products are much cheaper than a century or two ago as is the amount of physical human labour a person has to expend (hence most Westerners are teletubbies). Hence we are continuing to move in that direction.

Jonathan Baltazar August 30, 2010 at 10:43 am

It’s kind of disturbing that this mindless movement has actually been taken seriously by so many people.

http://www.thevenusproject.com/a-new-social-design/resource-based-economy
“If a group of people with gold, diamonds and money were stranded on an island that had no resources such as food, clean air and water, their wealth would be irrelevant to their survival.”

This is the principal misunderstanding that Venusians and others have about economics. They don’t consider incentive as a means of production. What motivation is there for one of these castaways on the island to produce goods for others? Their natural instinct would be to require an equal or greater return for their work. In this case, a person’s reward for his work is access to the common stockpile. That’s essentially an exchange. This system only works if everyone is contributing, or exchanging, an equal value of goods. Otherwise, a worker gains less than he puts in, and he has no incentive to produce for others. Money is simply a medium that makes this exchange of goods more efficient on a larger scale. It has nothing to do with abundance of resources.

Branden September 16, 2010 at 4:57 am

I think the point they are getting at here is that money is irrelevant to ones survival in an individual sense. Of course if there were no resources on the island they wouldn’t survive at all. But if you took the same scenario with an island of plentiful resources for a few islanders in which was unlimited (obviously nothing is unlimited) to them due to their small numbers, then they can all live like kings basically. Because at that point there is an abundance of resources. No person can eat the entire islands resources or be able to build everything by themselves. At this point no one owns the land but you can then divulge in two directions at this point: you can either choose to stake claims (or fight for property) on certain parts of the island so that you have control over the resources in that area and can offer them in a barter system or monetary system when things become established. Or in the case of what TVP proposes you could use the resources to build things that automate labor so that no one has to work and the robots do the bidding for you and no one suffers.

Now I find it somewhat irrelevant at which option anyone believes because inevitably as history has prove time and time again, technology will eventually displace more and more workers one way or another. The agricultural sector through technology allowed one farmer to replace thousands upon thousands which allows him to feed many mouths with very little effort. The same concept happened in the industrial era when many lost their blue collar jobs because of automated technology and still churn out more manufactured products. The inevitable result I feel will be that unemployment will continue to increase as more automated robotic machines become capable of doing service sectors jobs and the economy cannot run without employees earning wages to buy employers products. It’s a cyclical consumption cycle and all parts are necessary for the current economic system to work.

So it really comes down to if you think that robots and technology, at one point in the next 30 to 50 years, will or will not be capable of doing most labor tasks in the future? You can then break down each individual job today (or look at history) and figure out which jobs that can be phased out first as robots progress. Stocking shelves at Walmart? Not hard for a robot to do even at the present moment. Flipping burgers at McDonalds? Not that difficult either and I’ve already seen robots capable of cooking simple meals today. Its always progressive of course so it will start with the simplest of tasks first and move up to more advanced tasks. The major difference being that the industrial era’s machines were large and now that computers are getting smaller and smaller it makes it much easier to actually build a humanoid robot to do tasks. They now have a robotic like machine used in surgery in which you only need 1 surgeon instead of 3 from what I’ve heard from one of the ads for it. Here’s the link Da Vinci Surgery

Mrhuh August 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

Another problem with these people is their failure to realize that natural resources are not capital, per se. Socialists have always believed that things like factories, places of business, shelter, etc. are just there, waiting to be redistributed, when in reality, natural resources in their original form, are quite useless to human beings on the whole. All those pretty pictures of utopian gardens and shelters are hardly “resource-based”.

Eric August 30, 2010 at 11:49 am

The Venus Project only needs one “killer-app”. It needs to simply build a version of the 23rd Century’s Star Trek Replicator. Then everyone could get a share of Federation Credits. Of course, before they can run the replicators, they will have to first run the transporters, so Scotty can beam up all the raw materials (atoms, I guess) that go into the replicators.

Maybe the second thing they could do is replicate replicators.

JFF August 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Why would you need a medium of exchange, “Federation Credits” as you call them, for goods that are non-scarce? On Star Trek, replicators work by converting energy into matter and whole gag of that vision of the future is that energy has been made essentially limitless, and as such, there is no scarcity at all.

Curt Howland August 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Ah, but there IS scarcity, even in StarTrek.

Dilithium Crystals cannot be replicated. “Rich dilithium miners”, from “Mudd’s Women”, remember?

The basic problem with the Venus project is that they do not ask, “Who will build the machines?”

Peter August 30, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Not to mention Ferengi chasing after “gold-pressed latinum” — presumably they can’t replicate that, either…and the fact that they want it indicates that they have some use for money. Star Trek = don’t think too much.

Anthony August 30, 2010 at 11:31 pm

They never said the universe didn’t use money… just that the Federation didn’t.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 4:19 am

At first it will be us, but as technological advances follow the exponential curve as per Ray Kurzweil the amount of labour we put in decreases as the amount of productivity we get back increases. And at some point in on the near horizon we will develop Strong AI and at that point machines will maintain machines.

Rob August 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I guess all of the stuff in their online store doesn’t qualify for the “resource based economy”.
This is the best: ( http://www.thevenusproject.com/store?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=19&category_id=6 )

It’s the book “The Best that Money Can’t Buy”. And it can be yours for $24.95 LOL!

Ben Ranson August 30, 2010 at 4:38 pm

That really is pretty funny.

Somehow, I doubt that I would enjoy “the fulfilling lifestyle of a global, resource-based economy” as experienced in the floating, ring shaped metal city “where human rights are no longer paper proclamations but a way of life.”

LukeM August 30, 2010 at 9:14 pm

“The Best That Money Can’t Buy is…accompanied by 70 color photos of Fresco’s original designs, which illuminate the fulfilling lifestyle of a global, resource-based economy.”

Perhaps Fresco should spend less time creating pretty pictures and more time studying economics..

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 4:24 am

My aren’t you witty. Oh ho! Look my fellow Misesians, Jacques Fresco sells books! He hath not repudiated money from his life, he is a charlatan!

Last time I checked all businesses and government were still requiring cash to settle transactions.

William P August 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Although I agree it grows wearisome refuting the same fallacies in a thousand different forms, it is probably indispensable in the long run.

If you take a minute and step outside the (sometimes insular) Austrian movement, you realize you’re fighting a cultural battle as much as an academic/political battle. Economics (and by this I mean, basically, Austrian economics) should be taught in civics classes. It should be the basis of civic and legal understanding as it relates to peace and prosperity. Such instruction would edify the student morally and make them more responsible citizens. It would shape their opinions of pandering politicians and tutor their voting habits. (Please note, I am not encouraging this be done in public schools. Such a scenario would be very close to a genuine nightmare.)

Most people are totally oblivious to the subject matter of economics qua economics. The layman doesn’t care. The planners and busybodies scorn and disregard it; worse, they ignore it completely. When applied, typically in bastardized form, too often it is by apologists for certain government programs who bombard the reader with facts and figures from unfamiliar studies in an effort to comfort a sympathetic audience.

Just ask somebody, What is economics? “Study of money” “Study of markets” “Study of resources and distribution” “Study of scarcity” Not 1 in 10,000 will mention catallactics or praxelogy, or, in mundane terms, exchange and consequential action – the entire rational basis of the science. There is a problem with this mentality, in that the layman associates knowledge of economics with a special education or profession. The economist to the layman is like a stock broker or financial planner. Why would a busy adult spend her spare time learning investment strategies when there are professionals for hire? The layman would no sooner think to teach himself economics than he would veterinary medicine or aeronautical engineering.

They layman does not realize that the subject matter of economics is not esoteric and super-specialized, but HIM! The problem only gets worse as you interact with Ph.D. economists, the great majority who apparently spend their time tooling with the Witchcraft of irrelevant causal inferences byway of statistics.

Finally, the confusion reaches dizzying heights when a garden variety Ph.D. weighs in. Claiming moral authority through their studies of “sociology,” “anthropology,” or God knows what, they don’t even bother acknowledging economics as a valid field of knowledge. Seriously – how else could the Venus Project reject scarcity AND reject the problem of calculation (that is, the basic mechanism that humanity uses to judge trade-offs through the “extended order,” i.e., civilization as brought into being by the market). Even politically astute adults speak of “liberal” or “conservative” economists. Of course this is balderdash. It’s as if supply and demand apply differently depending on your outlook on life.

The know-nothingness of academics and intellectuals is incredulous, I know. And the repetition of certain principles is tiring, repetitive, and dispiriting (considering that one could write a piece similar to the above for most national op-eds). But a constant cadence of sound thinking is the only thing that will bring about a sea change of intellectual and lay opinion. I think it remains important to debunk the delusionists, even if it does grow trite.

I would go so far as to say that every “Austrian” with minimally competent writing skills should make an effort to refute at least one fallacious article per month. Even if half of Mises.org’s readers took 20 minutes to write a 2 paragraph letter to an editor, or posted something to a local political blog, or responded to the typically inane political press, the movement would flourish greatly.

That’s my 2 cents!

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm

How can we be expected to accept the Austrian school of thought as valid when the very basis of this school is founded on the rejection of the scientific method. You basically say that there is no point in trying to experiment or quantify behaviour as it is a useless exercise. And that the price mechanism is the only solution. So by its very definition it is not a science and as such can not hope to answer the question of the economic calculation problem as you think it is unanswerable. There are no impossible problems, just problems we haven’t sovled yet.

I’m not saying that the Keynesian school is any better, as their empirical models are incomplete and are not reliably predictive of behaviour, and unlike a good scientist that discards defective hypothesis’ they continue to cling to them.

The scientific method may never fully explain the demand side of the equation, but it can make in roads in narrowing the gap between the models and reality.

Zach Freier August 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm

This article overlooks a few key elements of the resource-based economy envisioned by the Venus Project. While these points will not likely convince most followers of Austrian economics, I think it’s nevertheless important that the dialogue at least focuses on what these people are actually saying.

1) The proponents of the Venus Project speak a lot about how advancements in technology over time continue to make their plans more feasible, and more necessary. A common theme in their literature and lectures is the gradual replacement of the human labor force by machines. They believe this process can be expedited, to the benefit of all. Allowing machines to take over most of the production in the world would go a long way toward eliminating scarcity. This can only be done very slowly in a capitalist economy; if you displaced, say, a quarter of the workforce tomorrow and replaced them with machines, you’ve also lost a quarter of your consumers.

2) As mentioned by Jonathan Catalan above, the Venus Project does not ignore the calculation debate. It does, however, claim that resource calculations can be done without the massive numbers of bankers, lawyers, salespeople, etc. This claim once again relies on the advancement of technology. The Venus Project considers a worldwide inventory of resources, maintained in a central computer database (though it could certainly be distributed, using the Internet), to be one of the first necessary steps toward the establishment of a resource-based economy. With such an inventory, and advanced computers, rational decisions on the allocation of resources could be made with very limited human involvement. This is what they mean when they say they want to get rid of the ‘waste’ they see in jobs that only exist when money exists. This is far different from the traditional socialist vision.

3) The Venus Project does not really seek to get rid of competition in production. The article itself even quotes them as saying “Choice is good.” Once again, the change they want to make involves technology. Advanced computers and scientific understanding allow us to quantify quality and efficiency far better than we have ever been able to before. In designing a new hammer, for instance, I can model the weight distribution in a computer program and know precisely how it will function relative to existing models, without ever actually building the thing. Given the right inputs, and the inventory of resources described in (2) above, the computer could even give me suggestions for more sustainable and efficient materials and designs. This eliminates a large portion of the sort of trial-and-error approach to competition that currently exists.

4) These people are, by and large, not stupid. Many of them fully understand the arguments made in this article, and in the comments. They just disagree with you. To dismiss them as ignorant is to fail to open your mind to possibilities that you may not have fully considered in the past.

bobobberson August 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

2) and 3) are just wrong. The computer won’t know how people will use their device, because people have yet to know how they will like the device or figure out how they will use it. Computer’s cant calculate what hasn’t been discovered by billions of humans making choices. Knowledge is emergent from the interactions of free-acting agents, not previously codified somewhere. What about products and resources that arn’t in the database, and was previously useless but then becomes in demand. (and vice versa). For instance the Soviets engaged in successful ‘growth’ by producing industrialization and mass production, but they did it 30-50 years after it become obvious and after a market economy discovered it. However the Soviets completely missed the Internet and computers and once again it relied on a market economy to discover such an invention. The Venus Project is simply the Soviets of the 1930s. It too will miss another revolution in the future.

“know precisely how it will function” but not how well people will ‘like’ or enjoy it. ‘Like’ it is a relative term and that information is only discovered by if people are willing to purchase it for the price.

Also such an approach tries to average things. Marketing will teach you that if you just average what everyone wants you will not give anyone what they want. There are niche markets exactly because people want different things and the market serves them that. A super-variety exists because two people with different tastes will not be satisfied with the ‘average’ of their tastes. You may say ‘well we will have a couple of models’ and then there will still be a smaller group that doesn’t get what they want, and then you will create a few more models, but then you are trying to imitate capitalism and it’s ‘redundancy.’

bobobberson August 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Also I remember someone telling me that per capita milk consumption in the Soviet Union was higher for X time period. They used it as proof of a superior planning system. This is a irreverent measure because maybe the different societies wanted different things. (Ignoring probable pitfalls of the data because it was likely Soviet supplied, and maybe ignored processed milk products like cheese)

Using this fact it could mean any of three things:
A) Both societies wanted more milk and the inferior capitalist system didn’t supply it and (sarcasm begins) the superior Soviet system (/sarcasm ends) supplied it.
B) Both systems were equal in supplying resources and societies wanted different things
C) Neither society wanted higher milk consumption and the free market economy supplied that and the planned economy forced higher milk consumption on them.

So a planned society can’t use objective ‘measures’ as ‘proof’ of successful planning because it can’t know either of the points above. Capitalism doesn’t make such assumptions and only offers a product, sells a product, assumes the profit or loss as a signal of relative success.

If you wanted to start your Venus Project without coercion, and do a survey of the market, plan, and supply a product at cost and be a non-profit, then do it. Nothing is stopping you from starting this project now. If it takes off and you put capitalism out of business then your emergent social phenomenon was superior and it will be self-evident. Start with one product or resource and do it and conquer the world peacefully.

bobobberson August 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm

disclaimer: I don’t think capitalism is inferior, since I didn’t put the (sarcasm) (/sarcasm) tags on it. It is inferior in some places and needs alternative free social structures for its deficiencies, but Soviet society proved not to be superior and 100% needed that tag.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 4:44 am

I think you misunderstand how a Strong AI will work. It have pattern recognition in addition to massive number crunching abilities. So it could definitely make predictions on the utility of an item and how people will use it.

And as for not knowing how well people will “like” an item. If choices are plentiful, can you not glean that data by how many times an item is requested, rather than purchased? If the cost to the customer is 0, then the sole motivational factor to drive the urge to purchase comes down to “like”.

This system of resource management will be interactive, people will be proposing designs for items and requests for new items continually, the best designs that will win out will ultimately be based on efficiency, quality, and “like”. If no one likes it, it doesn’t get produced.

Also much of the super variety that exists in capitalism isn’t about taste, it is about price point. When the cost to the customer is greater than zero, the customer then has to trade off “like” with cost to him. So if you can only afford a crappy tool set, but really “like” the quality set, too bad your getting the crappy tool set because that is what you can afford. You can’t get no satisfaction.

Peter August 30, 2010 at 8:33 pm

1) unless you’re killing the “displaced workers”, you don’t lose a quarter of “your” “consumers”; in fact, you gain consumers–those people now have more time to use your products that they previously spent working!

2) and 3) are, as bobobberson says, “just wrong” — you complete ignore the calculation problem in telling us why you’re not ignoring the calculation problem!

4) not stupid, perhaps, but certainly ignorant!

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:03 am

1) How are those displaced workers consuming? Have they got new jobs? If they do, do these new jobs pay as well as the old jobs?

2) and 3) You insist that money needs to be used to solve the calculation problem. I say why? The purpose of the calculation problem is just to determine whether the allocation of resources was a good and efficient bet, there are many ways to determine this without the use of price or money. You already know one part of the equation (the abundance of a resource) and you can determine desirability based on request for a particular design for a particular item. There is no reason why we have to manufacture the item first and then distribute it, because of increases in productivity we could receive the request first then manufacture to distribute.

The price mechanism let you know all of this after the fact. Manufacture too little of a popular product and the price sky rockets so you have to ramp up production which causes all sorts of inconvenience to the customer and the supplier in the way of lag time, increase in wage costs and material costs, and inflated prices to the customer. Manufacture too much of a product and prices slump, inventory becomes obsolescent, materials are wasted, warehousing costs rise. These problems were exaggerated even more for economies that didn’t use the price mechanism, but an RBE is not those economies.

The price mechanism is inefficient, but it was the most efficient way to communicate that information until now.

Beefcake the Mighty September 19, 2010 at 7:12 am

Write out the equations then. You’re a CFA, shouldn’t be too hard, right?

I’ve asked many Venusians here to do this, none have complied. The devil’s in the details, chaps.

TeeZedem September 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Beefcake I am an accountant, not a mathematician. Nor do I have a cpu that thinks a million times faster than a regular human, nor do I possess many terabytes of storage.

Your argument is a false one, asking a lone person to construct mathematical equations that describe changing behaviour. I can’t do it. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible, it just means I don’t have the horsepower to get it done.

You Austrians pride yourself on this supposedly unsolveable Economic Calculation problem as stated by Hermann Heinrich Gossen:

“only through private property is the measure found for determining the quantity of each commodity, which it would be best to produce under given conditions. Therefore, the central authority, proposed by the communists, for the distribution of the various tasks and their reward, would very soon find that it had taken on a job the solution of which far surpasses the abilities of individual men.”

So the solution far surpasses individual men, but it won’t surpass massivelly paralleled supercomputers.You Austrians also emphasis even if we have a competent central planner, there is no way to feed all the infomration necessary to perform an economic calculation. I say there is a way and it is coming very soon. Check out this link by Jesse Schell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nka-_Mhp7f0

So Beefcake you can take your “The Economic Calculation is impossible to solve without market prices” arguement and go home.

Beefcake the Mighty September 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Right, that’s what I thought, you’re a smoke-blower. Glad you confirmed it, though.

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hey Beefy, nice to know that you have mastered the ability to ignore pertinent facts that fly in the face of your hypothesis.

Beefcake the Mighty October 29, 2010 at 2:29 pm

You’ve waited an entire month to provide these brilliant insights?

TeeZedem November 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hate to break it to you Beefy, I don’t hang on every word you say. The fact that a month has passed is mostly due to the fact that I don’t hang out here and only rechecked this link on a whim.

Inquisitor August 31, 2010 at 1:13 am

“They just disagree with you.”

I will call them stupid if the disagreement is due to mere obstinacy/selective blindness.

Curt Howland August 31, 2010 at 8:07 am

A computer cannot produce a result that has not already been put into it. There is no “imagination” in a computer program, only very fast repetition.

So if the basis of this new “rational” allocation of resources is that “the computer” will come up with “the answer”, you’re only fooling yourself.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:18 am

Hey Curt, read some Vinge Vernor, or Ray Kurzweil. A computer with an imagination is already here. There are computers using recursive and genetic algorithms that have written books:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/business/media/14link.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ei=5087&em&en=5be22877da9dbc99&ex=1208318400

Strong AI is only at most a couple of decades away.

William P August 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Zach, In your opinion, who would volunteer to be part of this social experiment? For that matter, who would want to be part of any social “experiment” ???

But more to the point, how does a computer system, regardless of how advanced the technology is, make “rational decisions on the allocation of resources.” “Rationality” in economics is a result of human input – choice: purchase or abstention from purchase – and not from an algorithm.

You are inferring the ability to act as a “constuctivist rationalist,” as Hayek would say. You seem to believe earnestly that you can create a more sane world through planning rather than letting the actions of millions of individual actions result in a grand, spontaneous order. Maybe this WOULD work “better” in a small community – say 100, perhaps 1,000 people. But even if it were to lead to a more “just” community (that is, materially), the citizens of such a commonwealth would be forced to surrender freedoms that they likely enjoy now in the West.

Money functions as unit of exchange, but also to communicate this emergent “rationality.” You could indeed do away with the need for money if you were to establish a set criteria by which a computer would allocate resources. It would necessarily be arbitrary. But you’d never be able to replicate artificially the crucial, civilizing information arising from monetary exchange and double-entry bookkeeping. Mises quoted Goethe, and I think I’ll reiterate:

“What a thing it is to see the order which prevails throughout his business! By means of this he can at any time survey the general whole, without needing to perplex himself in the details. What advantages does he derive from the system of book-keeping by double entry! It is among the finest inventions of the human mind; every prudent master of a house should introduce it into his economy.” –J.W. von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.

And isn’t that the crux of the argument?I don’t doubt that the people supporting this project are intelligent. Very smart people are often mistaken, particularly with regard to socialism. In fact, it may be their own superior intelligence that leads them to believe that they in fact could create a better, more sane world, from their own head.

I say they’re missing the subtler critiques. If you insist they’re fully understood I cannot argue, but I might suggest that to simultaneously fully understand the critiques and still support the effort is “irrational” in my book.

Zach Freier August 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm

“I say they’re missing the subtler critiques. If you insist they’re fully understood I cannot argue, but I might suggest that to simultaneously fully understand the critiques and still support the effort is “irrational” in my book.”

In other words…

“If you understand my arguments but still don’t agree with me, you must be irrational.”

It’s important always to remember that you don’t know everything, and that there are probably rational arguments against just about everything you believe.

William P August 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Says Zach,
“It’s important always to remember that you don’t know everything,”

Ah! That’s why I don’t want to plan everything! Don’t you see? You seem to like that idea, and since it necessarily requires telling others what to do, the onus is on YOU to prove US (or anyone wishing to join your project) wrong.

It was Hayek who defined economics as the study devoted to demonstrating how little we really know about what goes on in the real world. It is my understanding of the limitations of individuals that make me devoted to freedom (as well as other considerations, of course).

Zach Freier August 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm

The Venus Project doesn’t want to “plan everything” either. There’s a LOT of emphasis on empowering people to choose their lives, and what they do with them. Membership in the society, first of all, would be completely voluntary during the formative stages (which is also, by the way, a key difference between this and 20th century socialism). Later on, the plan is to free people from labor through the use of advanced machines.

It is incredibly difficult, in a modern capitalist society, to get by without a wage; in this way, capitalism forces massive numbers of people into unfulfilling work. Indeed, this can even be seen as a sort of planning inherent in capitalism.

Obviously, planning resource allocation and the like would be a monumental task, and would not likely be done anywhere near perfectly, especially on the first try. But the system would always be open to modifications.

“[T]he onus is on YOU to prove US (or anyone wishing to join your project) wrong.”

’tain’t my project. I just wanted people actually to think about it, as I have, instead of jumping straight to saying these people are stupid (and/or evil) socialists. I’ve received some good responses (particularly yours), so I’m quite happy.

William P August 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Well you and your friends are definitely not garden variety socialists. And I’m fairly sure you’re not evil (have no reason to think so anyway).

You’re just not that well tutored in the problem you are looking to solve. I think Dr. Murphy did an excellent job in applying some traditional Austrian concepts to the project.

So that’s all I’m saying. I can’t say that the project offends me very much… as long as its voluntary I may not join, but I certainly wouldn’t oppose it stridently.

The policies of the current administration and Congress, on the other hand… now they are issues. Major issues that deserve the attention of every citizen before the whole the country’s finances implode!

Zach Freier August 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm

First, I want to make it clear that I’m not a blind follower of the Venus Project. I think they have a lot of intriguing ideas, though; and I was encouraged to comment on this article because every previous comment was negative. An echo chamber may increase your belief in the ideology contained therein, but it cannot help you to understand it better.

Any pursuit of a Utopian society (or anything close to it) is always a dangerous and delicate task. In the case of the Venus Project, it’s easy to see that an intermediate form of economy on the way to the resource-based sort could very easily degrade into a dictatorship of the technocrats. But it’s not necessarily true that even that would be any worse than the reality today, where a tiny fraction of the world’s population owns most of the wealth (which is equivalent to power in a monetary economy).

In response to William’s comment about volunteering for this social experiment: A lot of people are intrigued by the ideas of the Venus Project. They hope at some point to get together and actually try it out, on a small scale. Unless and until they do, of course, all arguments about the quality of such a system are completely hypothetical.

In a resource-based economy, technological advancement would be heavily emphasized, because the system could only function as well as its technology. And there would still be a marketplace of ideas, because there would still be a decently well-educated populace. One should not assume that the only possible motivation for people to think and develop new technologies is profit through capitalism.

A large part of why people like or dislike products today is based on advertising, rather than the functionality of the products themselves. The Venus Project would move beyond all but the most rudimentary advertising (say, a database of products, with their specifications and usage support). People would thus be encouraged to choose the most functional products, rather than the ones they ‘like’ the best due largely to the subliminal effect of seeing thousands of advertisements per day.

The products that would come out of a rational, computer-based analysis would certainly not be perfect from the start. Nothing is perfect. I only claim that such an analysis could do a large portion of the work that the market currently does, especially in a society where function is stressed over aesthetics and making people feel like they need a product.

My favorite thing about the Venus Project is the emphasis on sustainability. In the future, sustainability must be a primary concern, if the human species is to survive. Sustainability is one thing computers could calculate very well, given a resource inventory and an ever-improving understanding of ecological science. There’s far less incentive for sustainability in a free market.

Beefcake the Mighty August 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I’d feel more confident in your assessment of the Venus Project if you could write out the set of equations these computers would have to solve to perform these allocations of resources.

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:40 pm

more people want this so the computer gives it to them
that doesnt seem like a hard thing for a computer to do

Renegade Division August 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm

@Zach
I don’t understand one simple thing about Venus Project people, why don’t I find anyone in VP who actually understands the calculation debate. I just can’t find anyone who really understands it. Most people say “Oh you are just too close minded”, some claim to understand economic calculation but then say “Well economic calculation is a overrated, and once our society progresses far enough in terms of technology it will be possible to produce everything for everybody, you just need to have an open mind for it”.

If you believe that human wants are unlimited you will know that scarcity can never be removed. Today right now I want a car, a house, an iPad, tasty healthy food, healthcare, entertainment, sex, etc etc, but even if you satisfy all my wants, my list just doesn’t stop at what I told you is just the first 10 items on the list of my desires once they all are satisfied I now desires things I didn’t think I could desire earlier(for example in the age of Lincoln, people didn’t think they wanted to be connected to the rest of the world all the time, but now they do). I mean 20 years ago, did you really think you want a cell phone, but now you do.

Even if all the physical desires are satisfied momentarily, you then start to wish for psychological desires, you are bored by your wife, you are bored of having too much sex, or bored by too much availability of goods, now you want something more in life, you want to be considered great, so now there is a scarcity generated.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:28 am

This idea that human wants are unlimited is what is tripping you up. American culture wasn’t always about consumerism. At the beginning of the 1900′s when automated processes began to confer increasing benefits to productivity, business men of the day were confronted by a problem. The problem was the could produce much more than the public was willing to consume. Indeed people back then worked at a paying job only as much as they needed to purchase items that they couldn’t make themselves. Purchasing luxury items was unheard of. People didn’t want any of that. So the way they fixed the problem of under consumption was to employ Edward Benays to transform the American people from satisfied individuals into consumerists masses.

So we knew how to be satisfied at one time, but we’ve been condition with these nonsensical idea that we need to buy things to be happy.

Check out the Century of Self done by the BBC.

Peter August 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Unless and until they do, of course, all arguments about the quality of such a system are completely hypothetical.

No they’re not. That’s like saying that until men went to the moon and brought back samples, we couldn’t really be sure it wasn’t made of cheese. The assumption is that economics isn’t a valid science, and we really don’t know anything until we try it (and even then, we have to try again!)

RTB August 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm


an intermediate form of economy on the way to the resource-based sort

This is so purely Marxist.

Why even take the time to argue the finer points?

This is a fantasy where capitalism supplies everything (supercomputers, factories, etc.) and then the Venus project takes over (thanks Capitalism, now get lost!) and makes everything wonderful. Sorry, but you can’t divorce cause from effect. These Venus people couldn’t even conceive of this utopia without the benefits of Capitalism. Supercomputers and factories wouldn’t even exist in their wildest imaginations.

Self interest is the driving force and always will be. Capitalism is the only way. Once removed, so long prosperity.

P.S. So as not to get hung up on definitions, by Capitalism I mean free markets driven by individual rights and true private property.

Justin August 31, 2010 at 7:31 am

As someone already pointed out, we just need to develope the Star Trek replicators via capitalism and then the Venus Project can take over.

The thing that always confused me about the project was who was going to fix the robots or computers if they break? Or how is a computer going to know if it should divert water from agriculture or drinking towards the pretty fountains in the floating cloud cities that Venus Project likes to sketch.

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:45 pm

is that why many people spend time to volunteer

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm

and i dont see why you like capitalism so much when (even though im not a socialist) socialism shows that being greedy isnt a good thing

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:31 am

Capitalism isn’t going to deliver this. Read Jeremy Rifkin “The End of Work”. It will be a combination of the government and a volunteer sector. The private sector will never engage in any activity that it can’t derive profit from. And you can’t derive profit from abundance. You can derive profit from scarcity and inequality.

mpolzkill September 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

Without the the private sector the government and “volunteer” sector will never have the money…oh wait…nevermind.

We-will-no-long-er-need-money-dumb-dumb-dumb-dumb-duuuummb:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104253/?searchterm=joseph+smith

TeeZedem September 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I’m sorry I thought you would understand how a transition takes place. It doesn’t happen over night. The RBE starts small with technology increasing productivity while creating intense deflationary forces pushing down prices. The working week becomes shorter but standard of living is maintained because of deflation. Eventually as it makes no economic sense to charge for products, like food for example, private industry fades out of this area and government and the voluteer sector step in. Capitalism may never fully disappear but it will become a smaller part of teh economy over time.

J. Murray August 31, 2010 at 5:40 am

Problem: Anything.

Solution: Get someone else to do it for me.

That about sums this whole thing up.

bobobberson September 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

Step 1, eliminate money,
Step 2, force people to join your group
Step 3, ?????
Step 4, Utopia!!!

TANSTAAFL September 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

+1

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

we dont have to force because they will, after seeing how much better it is, will join
and there is kinda no such thing as a Utopia because tvp would always be changing

Tony August 31, 2010 at 5:56 am

I honestly don’t believe anything even remotely close to Malthusian. I think it is absolute utter quackery. I look up in the night sky and see plenty of room to infinitely expand our “sustainability” to the point where I become irritated even reading or hearing the word.

We have tyrants right now strangling competition and free markets. They are monopolists who know the next few steps in technology will eliminate their ability to consolidate and control such large empires. There are great equalizers on the horizon, on par with the Internet, perhaps greater.

Personal manufacturing is one of them. Imagine P2P networks that exchanged free CAD files of any design ever conceived you could CNC manufacture at home? Imagine if you could re-arrange atoms into any material you wanted as easily as you can arrange the colors of a layout on Photoshop? Its not so far fetched anymore.

The main obstacle isn’t greed or competition in general, it is a specific concerted plot to stifle progress and competition as a whole, globally so they themselves can control it without competing.

Jack August 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Yeah, so did this supercomputer solve Hayek’s decentralization of knowledge problem?

Does it know people better than they know themselves?

Tony August 31, 2010 at 6:02 am

A system where the people themselves are the “computer,” decentralized, sounds much better… Hayek was a bright fellow.

Justin August 31, 2010 at 7:33 am

You hit the nail on the head. In order for the Venus Project to work, mankind needs to first be assimilated by the Borg. Then there will be no calculation problem.

Fresco of Borg August 31, 2010 at 7:22 pm

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Russ the Apostate August 31, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I think Tony was referring to the market’s price system as a giant distributed or neural network computer, which it essentially is. No assimilation required.

imasillypiggy September 11, 2010 at 8:53 pm

being assimilated and being effected by your environment are both 2 different things

Ondrej Moravec August 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I am really surprised that Bob is bothering himself by commenting on this “project”. It is socialist thinking in its most naive form, with zero knowledge of basic economics and production processes. Fortunately, it will never make its way into practice (again), for it fails both in theory and practice, as all the “still imperfect resource-based economies” of socialist countries demonstrated. The only goal achieved with the proposed means would be the destruction of civilization, but people are not so stupid to do this to themselves for a long enough period of time to achieve such a “noble” goal.

Bruce Koerber August 30, 2010 at 4:50 pm

The Venus Project Hobby.

A utopian project without all of the gifts inherent in the incredibly vast wealth of the human reality (including the full and rich human contractual relationships necessarily interwoven with all of the physical resources) cannot truly be designated as a ‘resource based economy.’ It just falls back into the typical mode of rhetoric used by every ‘planner.’ At that point it is not really a project but just a scheme.

The utopian scheme, like all utopian schemes, will exhaust itself and leave a shell on the shore of the ocean of reality.

But as a hobby it may be fun!

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

You know, I wonder if you guys read anything other than Austrian-related economic texts.Trying to explain an RBE to you guys is like trying to explain our current socio-economic make-up to a hunter-gatherer. Just like a hunter-gatherer would say our society could not work, because he is projecting his values onto our ideas of current society. And that is exactly what you are all doing, projecting your values on the idea of an RBE.Capitialism did a fine job to get us where we are today, but it is decoupled from what our earth can actually offer. By the time you guys let the price mechanism figure out we are running short of necessities it’ll be too late. Nowhere in Austiran or Keynesians economics does it advocate some personal responsibility for ourselves, our community and our planet, the whole of the law is, if you can afford it, consume. Please point to me where economics is proactive? Seems to me economics responds only when things are in crisis.It is time to move on to something else that can take us to the next level. It might not be an RBE, but it sure isn’t capitalism and by extension it isn’t austrian economics.

Ondrej Moravec August 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm

… hardcore socialist thinkers claimed that when (private) property and money is abolished, the world will turn into paradise and even that man will become immortal. The result of the hardcore socialist policies in China, where people really were prohibited to trade, were deaths of millions from starvation (and people traded at least their dead children, because they did not want to eat their own). This “project” wants to use the same means and therefore, as the laws of economics say, would achieve the same goal – Hell instead of paradise.

RTB August 30, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I’d like to make two comments, one broad and one specific on something that particularly caught my eye.

1. You are far too kind. This is blatant communism, nothing more, nothing less.

2. “A resource-based economy would utilize existing resources from the land and sea, physical equipment, industrial plants, etc. to enhance the lives of the total population.”
I like the way physical equipment and industrial plants are grouped in with the natural resources of sea and land. This is so infantile it’s both laughable and sad. Do adults really think this way? All the resources in all the world are worth nothing until someone makes something useful of them. And why would they do that?

elgecko84 August 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I love the fact that they trademarked the term “Resource-Based Economy”. And why did they do it? “The reason The Venus Project is trade-marking the term Resource-based Economy is Jacque Fresco has been working on this system most of his 93 years (straight from their website).” In other words, your rights aren’t important but dear old Fresco can’t have people stepping on his. What a joke.

J Cortez August 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Man, those people are lost.

Ok, what’s good? Sea-steads and what appears to be an idealized voluntary society. Alright, I’m cool with that.

So what’s bad? Everything else. When I came to the concept of abolishing money I laughed very hard. These guys have no concept of economics. They seem to view scarcity as something that is imposed by capitalists as opposed to being a fact of life.

One other thing stood out to me as particularly unnerving. Everything looks the same. There is little to no divergence in architectural style in any of the proposed utopian cities or buildings. There seems to be an assumption of similar weather and climate in every locale. DIsturbing because architecture is created through available materials, local climate, local terrain, and available culture. The cultural aspects bother me the most. Is all previous culture supposed to evaporate? No more gothic revival, bauhaus, classical greek, or feng shui? Is everybody the same in that world? How depressing.

Gaby_64 August 31, 2010 at 12:11 am

By plan4freedom:
“While limiting government intervention in the marketplace, combined with an non-fiat, honest-money system based on real commodities such as gold or silver, would be a big step forward towards prosperity, peace and freedom, the resource-based economy takes it a step further in the attempt to reach these goals – with sustainability.

It is not that money is a bad thing (it has worked well in the past), but that its inherent flaw as an economic and social institution lies the destructive influence of differential advantage it inevitably creates. In any monetary system, having association with competition and greed, inevitably there will become levels of social stratification leading to the detriment to the goals of prosperity, peace and freedom that are originally meant to be overcome. This is manifest in forms of poverty, fraud, banking, gangs, government, and the like. Theories of free-market solutions to these problems wish to ignore that these problems are inherent in the system, and their solutions fallible.

The underlying difference between the free-market and the resource-based economy is the difference between competition and cooperation. The Venus Project advocates the same goals as others, but recognizes that the best route to take is one of cooperation, which can only work absent of the monetary-based economic structure that perpetuates the weaknesses of stratification, power and internal conflict within a society.

This is coming from one who was formerly of the Austrian School, but with his eye on the objective realized a more optimal path to the same goal, and became unattached from an identity of dogma that demanded trying the same thing again while expecting different results. Success will not come from old ideas, it’s time to move forward…”

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 1:11 am

You’re from the “Austrian School”, Gaby? Please tell us about how you arrived at the conclusion that the calculation problem was no problem at all.

I do agree that there are formidable moral problems to surmount. Envy, above all.

Inquisitor August 31, 2010 at 1:16 am

Apparently disconnected statements constitute better arguments than Austrian “dogma” (i.e. sound economics.)

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 1:19 am

Oh, I’m seeing that a super computer will figure out how much oil (or whatever supplies) needs to be obtained and where it must be distributed, I guess. You guys get that sucker going and start a commune and tell us how it goes.

Salvador Allende's Ghost August 31, 2010 at 9:52 am

Cybersyn worked a treat for me. It just didn’t calculate on Pinochet.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 10:04 am

Haha. Damned fascists won’ t leave the commies alone. If they would we’d of course all realize that we don’t need fascists to protect us from them. What’s more pathetic than an actual commie?

J. Murray August 31, 2010 at 6:37 am

There is a critical failure in this entire ideology. Computers are being treated like a literal Deus ex Machina. They actually think God resides in computers. That all they have to do to solve their problems is plug in a Dell and tell it to fix the world.

The reality is that computers and machines can only take what a human does and makes it faster and makes the outcomes more consistent. It takes a human who already knows how the activity works to make the system. And if that human had a flaw in his actions, well, that machine now manifests that flaw faster and more consistently. That’s not a good thing.

An economic system cannot be computerized for the simple reason that there exists no person who can design it. To design a computer run a perfect economic system requires the pre-requisite of a human who can run an entire economic system flawlessly. Tell me, where is this mythical person?

Computers don’t adapt and evolve. They don’t improve. Their productivity and actions are forever limited to the design. Even if you do manage to find the Jesus of economists, this perfect system will no longer be useful the second a new person is born, a new product line is created, a new technology developed, a new source of resources is discovered, or any other variables. The computer system is forever locked into the exact operations based on the exact preferences of the existing population at the time of its development. The bad thing about computers is that the moment you throw an unknown variable at it, it tends to crash. All I would have to do to crash it is make a new product for sale, no matter how trivial it would be.

Computers will forever be inferior to humans becuase it takes humans to give the computer instructions on how to operate. Laying hopes on a perfect system on the lap of a computer is just as reliable as expecting your dog to run the economy.

Fallon August 31, 2010 at 7:03 am

Nicely put. Relevant equations to solve anticipated equilibrium cannot even be created because there are no constants, only variables.

Curt Howland August 31, 2010 at 8:15 am

Thus the failure of Long Term Capital Management, even though they had lots of equations and lots of computers.

It still didn’t work.

But I guess it will, when it’s done by the right people, or done the right way, or if money is abolished first, or something mystical to fool the fools into following.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 8:32 am

Thanks, Murray. Reminds me of the way the creators of “Deep Blue” wouldn’t let Garry Kasparov ever play against their creation again, going so far as to dismantle it. The IBM programmers were actually allowed to modify the program between games in the six-game match. IBM paid a human grandmaster to teach the computer about certain (legal) tricks Kasparov was pulling but Kasparov suspected humans were assisting it *during* games. Some people think the grandmaster paid to help “Deep Blue” was Kasparov.

TeeZedem September 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

J. Murray you just have no clue what you are talking about. Show me some evidence that computers will always be limited to their design, or can never be creative? If you’ve read anything by Ray Kurzweil you would know that this is not the case.

Beefcake the Mighty September 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Ray Kurzweil? LOL. You really are a lunatic.

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I don’t know your track record Beefy, but Ray’s predictions are pretty dead-on for the last 20 years. And he is pretty successful monetarily speaking (translation:rich). By the yard stick of capitalism (which he believes in by the by) he can’t be too crazy.

Renegade Division August 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm

This is coming from one who was formerly of the Austrian School, but with his eye on the objective realized a more optimal path to the same goal.

I know a lot of people like you Gaby_64. The problem with them is always the same, they come to Austrian Economics from libertarianism, and then swooned by this technocratic movement. Since these guys don’t claim to be Socialist or support any kind of aggression, you don’t find any incompatibility with your libertarian beliefs.

But the fact is you don’t understand the problem of economic calculation. Sorry. You know how I do I know that? Because your arguments are worse than what most of the Socialists intellectuals have tried to answer the problem of economic calculation in last 90 years. That is if you can even call it an argument.

I wrote this comment here at 3:48PM on 30th August, see how accurately it fits on you:
#comment-719130

Esp this part:

b) Whenever you make a point strong enough that they cannot answer they say “You are so close minded and stuck up into our current paradigm that you cannot imagine a society with no scarcity would develop.”

Gaby_64 August 31, 2010 at 12:16 am

Watch the orientation presentation of tzm, you might get it.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3932487043163636261

and also watch zeitgeist addendum

Tony August 31, 2010 at 5:19 am

Technology and innovation are the solutions to our problems – draining the various swamps if you will, that create the most abhorrent human behavior. “Post-scarcity” in terms of physical resources can be achieved. You will always need some sort of currency, and most definitely this can be achieved through free markets, and upholding concepts such as private property.P2P has created a “post-scarcity” quasi-scenario where the price of copying media is virtually zero and the more demand for a certain title actually INCREASES supply. This is made possible by digital technology – while personal manufacturing now opens the door for us to do this increasingly more on a physical level. No communism or centralization required – in fact, P2P is essentially and necessarily decentralized.

Peter Surda August 31, 2010 at 7:22 am

Technology does not create non-scarcity. Rather, it allows to increase efficiency. But there is no efficiency per-se. Efficiency requires to compare the inputs and the outputs. However, without a price mechanism, it is impossible to determine what use if inputs leads to an increase in efficiency. I think that the reasons for digital revolution is the steady rapid decrease in price of computers, and the fact that computers have a wide potential area of uses. I don’t think that without these two conditions an analogical development in other areas would occur.

Post-scarcity is in my opinion a misnomer. The definition of scarcity that I reached is that scarcity means the existence of mutually exclusive alternatives. You can’t avoid that with physical goods. A more accurate (although still not entirely correct) term for the digital revolution would be perfect competition.

Tony August 31, 2010 at 9:25 am

I’m talking about technology like Von Neumann’s “universal constructor” however far off it is, that is theoretically possible. It would allow you to take whatever matter you have on hand, sand, wood, garbage, whatever, and convert it into whatever you wanted by re-sequencing the atoms.

Already there are particle accelerators that bombard lead shielding with enough energy to change the atomic structure of the lead into gold – literally alchemy. Not efficient, not all inclusive, yet, but it would change the game. I am interested in what sort of model would emerge from this sort of revolutionary technology becoming mainstream and viable.

I suspect that land would still produce scarcity, even with space exploration and colonization, you would still have certain spots that would create “scarcity.” I’m also interested in what sort of things might become “scarce” in a resource post-scarcity scenario – provided the above technology becomes a reality.

Beefcake the Mighty August 31, 2010 at 9:32 am

These particle accelerators may not be “efficient” or “all inclusive” but one thing they definitely are is grotesquely expensive.

Tony August 31, 2010 at 10:39 am

Absolutely, as expensive and impracticable as computers were when they first appeared. I will admit this is off into the future – as a stepping stone of something more practical, and a “stop-gap” of sorts would be CNC manufacturing and personal manufacturing.

Peter Surda August 31, 2010 at 11:24 am

The example you mention (i.e. Star Trek replicators) might be the only exception to the uniqueness of the digital revolution. I often think about what kind of economic effects such an invention might have. Nevertheless, my actual objection is still there. The replicators would only allow to use the existing matter more efficiently. They would not eliminate the problem of scarcity, in that there still would be mutually exclusive uses for it. So there would still need to be a process for making the decision which of those choices should be taken. A lot of current problems would become essentially irrelevant, just like now the question of accurately performing certain types of complicated math calculations, or quickly transmitting information is irrelevant. However, new problems would arise, just like since the introduction of computers we have new complicated math problems, and instead of not having enough information we have too much of it. Unless we however make the move to solving the new problems, we wouldn’t be able to utilise the actual benefits of the new technology and stagnation would follow. The process is open ended, there is no final step. Inventing replicators would not eliminate the economy, it would just change it, in ways difficult to predict. My personal prediction is that the governments would be against it, because it would increase unemployment.

Peter August 31, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I’m talking about technology like Von Neumann’s “universal constructor” however far off it is, that is theoretically possible. It would allow you to take whatever matter you have on hand, sand, wood, garbage, whatever, and convert it into whatever you wanted by re-sequencing the atoms.

What makes you think that’s theoretically possible? (Or even that “re-sequencing the atoms” is meaningful?) There’s a question over whether even the more common type of nanotech replicator (that can only move atoms around, not the subatomics needed for what you’re talking about) is a theoretical possibility (see, e.g., Smalley’s “fat fingers” argument)

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:37 am

Ray Kurzweil totally demolishes Smalley’s “Fat Fingers” argument in “The Singularity is Near”.

Nanotech is not only possible, it is inevitable.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 9:32 am

“Technology and innovation are the solutions to our problems – draining the various swamps if you will, that create the most abhorrent human behavior.”

Anyone who believes that the worst human problems outside of aging and death originate from anywhere other than from between their ears is just horribly wrong.

Tony August 31, 2010 at 10:43 am

Ultimately you are right, but people starving are going to murder each other for food, uneducated people are going to turn to crime and fall into corruption, people trapped inside sociological paradigms with limited or skewed information are going to make limited and skewed decisions… Environment does effect people’s behavior to a degree, and so improving one’s environment improves it to a degree.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 10:47 am

Is that like the starving Americans murdering a few hundred thousand rich Iraqis over the course of the last 20 years? I know what you’re saying (and agree especially with the “people trapped inside sociological paradigms with limited or skewed information” part), but the whole thing doesn’t click for me.

Tony August 31, 2010 at 5:46 am

Let me add, independence is the summation of personal manufacturing coupled with digital technology. It allows smaller and smaller groups of people to conduct the same level of economic activity as large corporations and nation-states did before it. Already we can see this taking place, for instance, to publish your thoughts 100 years ago, you needed a press, capital, workers, and a distribution network. Today you need a laptop, a connection, and a server.

The smaller economic blocs become, the more decentralized society is, the less power that can be concentrated in the hands of tyrants. I take Thailand for an example. The government is not capable of the same sort of evil say the Chinese or Americans are – not because they are ethically superior (not even close) but because they simply lack the means to manifest their greed and ambition on an equal scale. This is because on a local level most people are on average far more self-sufficient or dependent on their community rather than dependent on their government.

Having said that, there is a concerted effort to reverse this – for the obvious goals of breaking independence and fostering dependence thus concentrating power in the hands of a very few. I agree with Austrians on their principles and I believe we must more than anything else focus on utilizing technology, education, and innovation to achieve decentralized independent blocs on the smallest scale possible and defend them jealously against consolidators of power.

We may never rid the world of parasites and competition, nor the negative effects of it, but we can reduce the severity and concentration of it in the hands of humanity’s worst players. Your jealous neighbor is less dangerous to the population than a jealous globalist, with an army at his command, and deplete uranium weapons at his disposal.

Fallon August 31, 2010 at 6:52 am

Let’s be clear about the sharp differences in the use of “competition” from a Misesian p.o.v. There is Darwinian competition, all creatures are competing in a life or death struggle. Then there is the “competition” of games and sports– which is actually a variant of cooperation not involving biological threat. Then there is the market. Market competition involves the struggle to see who can best serve others in voluntary productive cooperation. And cooperation in this sense is the great discovery of man: that working together is the most effective way of defeating the brutal struggle against nature and scarcity. Cooperation results in society. “It’s a dog eat dog world” type statements are strictly metaphors.

Fallon August 31, 2010 at 6:53 am

In other words, market competition is the answer to greed.

Speedmaster August 31, 2010 at 8:03 am

Wow, these people scare me. I’ve found that the sooner you see the word “sustainable” in any post, paper, treatise, etc. … the sooner it is probably safe to dismiss it.

Curt Howland August 31, 2010 at 8:23 am

It’s never “safe” to dismiss it.

These are the same young idealists who became Hitler Youth, Red Brigade, and whatever Pol Pot called his enforcers.

Ideas matter.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:39 am

Oh that’s mature. Lets compare TVP with Hitler.

Beefcake the Mighty August 31, 2010 at 8:42 am

Anybody who thinks the Venusians understand the calculation argument should consider this passage:

“To better understand the meaning of a resource-based economy consider this: If all the money in the world were to suddenly disappear, as long as topsoil, factories, and other resources were left intact, we could build anything we chose to build and fulfill any human need. It is not money that people need, but rather it is freedom of access to most of their necessities without ever having to appeal to a government bureaucracy or any other agency. In a resource-based economy money would become irrelevant. All that would be required are the resources, manufacturing, and distribution of the products.”

at

http://www.thevenusproject.com/a-new-social-design/essay

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 8:51 am

You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You say.. “Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?” First.. get a million dollars. Now.. you say, “Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, ‘You.. have never paid taxes’?” Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: “I forgot!” How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don’t say “I forgot”? Let’s say you’re on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, “I forgot armed robbery was illegal.” Let’s suppose he says back to you, “You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, ‘I forgot’?” Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!”

- Steve Martin, SNL, 1978

Ahmed Adam August 31, 2010 at 10:29 am

This reminds me of a friend of mine who remarked that the British governemnt has every right to bail out evry bank here becaseu it is ”moral”, neeless to say, my friend is not an economist nor knows anything about the subject. This is also the fundamental problem with the chaps from the Venus Project, they are engineers who need a crash course in economics 101. These men are not different from the socialist elite that ruled the soviet empire who think they can outsmart the natural order of human incentive, the price system and cost and benefit analysis! Have they been listening to the socialist dimwit David Harvey?

Douglas August 31, 2010 at 10:54 am

Hmm, the attacks levied in this thread against The Venus Project (TVP) and the people who support it are very interesting. I always find it amusing when people throw out “Communism” and “Socialism” as attacks, as if that’s such a powerful weapon against ANY idea that goes against the status quo…the all knowing, all beautiful Capitalist system. It’s also interesting when people assume (incorrectly) that the people who like TVP know nothing of economics. Quite the contrary, many of us are well aware of modern economics, and we think it’s old, outdated, broken and incapable of handling a technologically advanced global society. It’s not that we don’t understand it, it’s that we’re capable of calling it out…not worshiping it as a God.

What’s even more interesting is how dead wrong many of you are in your assumptions. And yes, most of you are making very bad assumptions about TVP and the RBE, which shows me that you’ve either completely ignored what TVP has said about itself, especially the comparisons to those old world systems showing how the RBE is not an ‘ism’ of any stripe, or you are unfortunately completely ignorant of what the RBE truly is and refuse to actually educate yourselves. Either way, it must be nice to project your own biased ideals on something different in order to puff up your own chest.

The reason why TVP is growing is very simple…when people actually learn what it’s about, and stop blindly attacking it out of ignorance, they start to understand that it’s simply a better system to govern the 21st century and the future. It’s all good though. I’m sure the people who loved the British Monarchy hated the revolutionary people in the colonies who wanted democracy. I’m sure the people who loved tribal anarchy hated a more centralized form of societal governance.

Social evolution is rarely met with open arms, save for the people who see it coming as it’s happening. The world is flat, man can’t fly and we’ll never venture into space. History is full of people who state with stoic conviction that which cannot or will not happen. The greater the resentment, the stronger the purpose.

The world is changing, it always is, so you’d better learn to adapt. That’s what evolution is, biological or social.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 11:03 am

“the people who support [the ideas expressed in this article, I assume] are very interesting”

Thank you.

“people throw out ‘Communism’ and ‘Socialism’”

Sounds good.

“I always find it amusing”

I always find it amusing when people throw out the word “God” as an attack, as if that’s such a powerful weapon against ANY idea.

“the status quo”

If you think we are for the status quo, then you have no idea about what this place is about, and probably no familiarity with “Austrian economics” whatsoever.

Douglas August 31, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Looks like we’re on the same page then, that throwing out blind accusations doesn’t help the debate, does it?

The status quo I’m referring too is the use of money as a system of exchange when it is no longer relevant. Your version of status quo seeks to continue to use that same old thing, but in a ‘better’ way. There is no ‘better’ if the system itself is corruptible and broken.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 12:14 pm

* oops: “then you have no idea what this place is about”

You bet we’re on the same page, there is no debate. I’m for the status quo regarding my legs, too, even if you assert that your super computer will make them irrelevant.

I loathe all enforced systems. Money requires no reliance on any system, go to a prison and watch the inmates spontaneously create it. The prisoners in your system, if it ever took over the world, would do the same.

Douglas August 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm

“I’m for the status quo regarding my legs, too, even if you assert that your super computer will make them irrelevant.”

Nice strawman argument, but it doesn’t work that way.

“I loathe all enforced systems.”

Ah, so you’re about full anarchy then, or am I reading that incorrectly?

“Money requires no reliance on any system, go to a prison and watch the inmates spontaneously create it.”

Actually, money relies on scarcity, because if anything is in abundance, it has no market value. You’re not charged to breathe air, are you? Why? Because no one can regulate, control or monopolize it from you. it exists in abundance because nature produces it in abundance. Ergo, if we can technically create other products or services in abundance, the same reasoning applies.

Prisoners live in abject scarcity for many things, so of course they’ll develop a system of trade to regulate and govern the scarcity. Thanks for proving my point. :)

As for prisoners in the RBE, one has to think about why people commit crimes today. Over 80% of all crimes are economically based, like theft, drugs (all about money), etc that are largely (although not all) rooted in poor environments. Even most murders are related to an economic crime. Therefore, if you better the environmental conditions under which people live, such that all biological and quality of life needs are met for all people, why then would someone behave badly? There is no advantage to do so. No reason to steal something if it’s readily available for all. No reason to hoard something if it’s available in abundance.

This system requires a new level of thinking, which of course is difficult for people who cannot fathom real global abundance. First they attack it, then they say it’s sci-fi (ignoring real technology that exists today), then they get angry and just levy insults. It typically degrades after that, but oh well…this is all about basic information sharing. Do with it what you will. :)

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Not a strawman, a reductio ad absurdum, and a nice one, if I say so myself.

“If”

Mm hm.

This *is* a world of scarcity and we are prisoners on it, thanks for proving *my* point.

Who’s angry? Some feel pity, some can’t help but speak to you as they would a child (since these ideas are quite childish, sorry), others show a bit of fear due to how clueless you all are.

Anarchy *is* the state of the world, I oppose crime.

I don’t have to fathom global abundance, the market (with its key tool: money) has provided it (that’s how there are so many more people here now, btw). It is only criminals and their dupes who hold it back from further wonders.

J. Murray August 31, 2010 at 11:10 am

The attacks are not on the project itself, but the underlying assumptions. We all know what they’re trying to do. No one here bemoans the quest for utopia. But what we’re doing is dismantling the methods presented (or lack thereof). The project is filled with numerous critical errors (see my post above on the treatment of computers as the ultimate solution), based on economic fallacies, make faulty assumptions on human nature, or are purely wishful thinking. A large volume of what they’re trying to do is predicated on waiting around for someone (preferrably someone else other than them) to show up and provide the actual solution. It’s the Star Trek Replicator discussion. Sure, replicators would solve a lot of problems, but they just don’t exist. So, basing my entire society around a Star Trek Replicator would be foolish.

Other major factors none of the supporters bothered thinking up:

* Who exactly is going to provide the capital to build these giant, floating cities and future-boats?

* How will the industry be supported to satisfy the wants and needs of the population?

* Will the system be based on trade since clearly few resources can be found in floating wonderlands?

* What will the food source be? Deep-sea regions are notoriously poor for obtaining food.

* What kind of power source will it use? How will the fuel be obtained?

* What technology is this floating city based on? How will it hold up to rough currents, hurricanes? How will it stay in the same spot and not just float off into a landmass on the prevailing currents?

It’s abundantly clear that no one in The Venus Project bothered to sit down and attempt to devise solutions to basic problems, to build a believable model and plan on how to achieve the ends. Too much of it is based on the assumption that people will just voluntarily support this out of base charity. Why should the people who are stuck on land fishing, farming, mining, cutting lumber, refining fuel (it’ll have to be a nuclear based fuel source) will do this so a group of people can live in a floating utopia on the ocean. What makes you so special that you get to live the good life while everyone else has to labor to keep your Surface Atlantis functioning?

The entire endeavor is childish. You ask us to suspend reality and just think of the possibilities like this is some poorly written LiveJournal fanfic next to the one about sparkling vampires in high school.

TVP needs to tell me, in detail, how they plan on achieving all of these ends, and doing so in a way that doesn’t jump the line from reality to pure Disney fantasy. As it stands, The Venus Project supporters need to wake up. If they want their all-seafront property city to be a reality, talking about the wild end-result without figuring out how to get there is about as useful as discussing what you’ll do with the winnings of your big lottery ticket you just purchased even though your chances of winning are exactly 0.

Douglas August 31, 2010 at 12:34 pm

“No one here bemoans the quest for utopia.”

– Right away you prove you’re not paying attention and just talking to hear yourself talk. TVP hates the word Utopia. There is no such thing. The RBE is nothing more than an upgraded economic system that is different than anything else humans have ever done, because we are living in a fundamentally different world than we ever have before. New times require new systems, but there will always be things to address, problems to solve and challenges to overcome. The only constant in the Universe is change. The question is, do we have the proper tool box to solve those problems? If we did today, we’d not have the same stupid issues we’ve had for centuries, and thousands of people would be dying daily because they don’t have the economic capability to survive at a basic level.
_________________________________

Human Nature: No such thing. Human behavior, not human nature. That’s a huge assumption you’re making based on what…old teaching from people in the 40′s? TVP bases its ideas on current scientific understanding:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vMC3TPuOOo

The above video lecture details the argument.
_________________________________

“A large volume of what they’re trying to do is predicated on waiting around for someone (preferrably someone else other than them) to show up and provide the actual solution.”

Wrong. The solutions are based on current existing technology, with NOTHING needed to be invented to accomplish the goals. The problem is that far too many people are ignorant of current technological capabilities. Here’s a video showing you exactly what we’re capable of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2nxCp9Hwxs
_________________________________

You’re awfully focused on floating cities. Did you not read anything about the fact that this is a global holistic idea, not an isolated one? Land based system work with all system, floating or otherwise, to ensure the highest level of product efficiency, sustainability, reuse and recycling…on a global level. But I’ll address your questions anyway:

* Who exactly is going to provide the capital to build these giant, floating cities and future-boats?

The only capital is the natural resource availability of the Earth and the current state of technological capability. This also requires that people stop thinking in terms of selfish self interest and more like selfless self interest, which of course could never really work in the past because of a severe lack of technical ability to provide abundance without a human labor requirement.

* How will the industry be supported to satisfy the wants and needs of the population?

It’s self sustaining in most respects, that’s what automation and robotics has given us the capability to do, plus our advances in energy, computer augmented analysis, and more.

* Will the system be based on trade since clearly few resources can be found in floating wonderlands?

You’re still thinking in terms of scarcity and not abundance. How can you trade what is readily abundant and manufactured locally. You miss the point, all blueprints are shared globally an each city is its own manufacturing hub for the region and people it serves. All knowledge is shared and improved upon so that humanity is always providing the best possible solutions it can based on current scientific knowledge.

* What will the food source be? Deep-sea regions are notoriously poor for obtaining food.

They would get their food via the advanced food production facilities located within them, or by the closest local land distributor…but again your focus in on these floating cities, and not the whole system.

* What kind of power source will it use? How will the fuel be obtained?

See the above video, where the first 20 minutes covers all the various clean energy options that can be employed simultaneously to cover all energy needs. And that video doesn’t even cover the most recent advancements in solar/fuel cell hybrid systems.

* What technology is this floating city based on? How will it hold up to rough currents, hurricanes? How will it stay in the same spot and not just float off into a landmass on the prevailing currents?

How do cruise ships do this, or Oil Rig floating platforms? Do a bit of research before you ask questions that make you sound dumb. I know you are not dumb, but come on, do you think Engineers aren’t capable of doing this…and they already have in most respects.
_________________________________

“Why should the people who are stuck on land fishing, farming, mining, cutting lumber, refining fuel (it’ll have to be a nuclear based fuel source) will do this so a group of people can live in a floating utopia on the ocean. What makes you so special that you get to live the good life while everyone else has to labor to keep your Surface Atlantis functioning?”

Wow, you really haven’t read a damn thing about TVP, have you. First, you’re assumption is that human labor serves human needs. Wrong, that’s the 17th century way of doing things. Welcome to the 21st century, where we can automate pretty much 90% of all human labor and achieve greater productivity and efficiency. No, it won’t have to be a nuclear based fuel source. That’s an uninformed opinion you have based on a severe lack of information.
_________________________________

“As it stands, The Venus Project supporters need to wake up.”

As it stands, you need to educate yourself and stop the diarrhea of the mouth, and the condescending disrespectful attitude. That’s a big problem with many of you who defend the system with such vigor, you’re not capable of civil debate without showing an attitude problem or insulting those who have a different viewpoint. Asking polite questions, even if you disagree, is the greatest sign that you’ve grown up. Act like it and we can continue this conversation, politely.

J. Murray August 31, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I’m a cost accountant in the ship building and maintenance industry. It’s my job to make sure all of this keeps functioning, and I’ll tell you, it’s not something that can be done by posting irrelevant YouTube videos and giving me speeches from old episodes of Captain Planet.

Building a mid-size ship (think large yacht or small Navy frigate) ship takes 3 years and some 2 million man-hours of labor, a few thousand tons of material, and large capital structures such as drydocks, graving yards, an assembly facility that is roughly 400 yards in length and 80 feet tall. Attempting to do more than this will result in an insanely larger workforce and capital structure. Double this for something the size of a Carnival cruise ship. Pray tell, how is “The Earth” going to provide for all of this? I don’t plant seeds and expect arcologies with fully functional fusion generators to just sprout up out of the ground.

The reason I’m scoffing at this balogna is because I work in the business world. You’re not going to find 2 million man hours of expert welders, electricians, pipe fitters, machinists, shock test experts, or any other of the myriad of skilled labor required for such a project. It simply doesn’t matter WHAT the TVP is attempting to do, it’s not going to get done by trawling labor out of The Burning Man festival. None of these people are going to sacrifice their time because you think “The Earth” provides.

Everything you think TVP is going to do requires people with years of education and experience you’ve not bothered to accumulate simply giving their time. Labor that you clearly think poorly of becuase of what you expect OTHERS to sacrifice on YOUR behalf and will be willing to do so casually. Call it human nature, relations, or whatever, it still boils down to you expecting someone else to give up their own time and energy to you for nothing in return. None of the people who will make this “resource based” nonsenese of yours possible will do it, none of them. What can you do for these people other than provide cute visions of the future? What can you give to them to convince them to essentially give up their lives for an unknown and outlandishly unbelievable future?

Nothing but empty promises that have been around since the start of human civilization.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm

“…it’s not going to get done by trawling labor out of The Burning Man festival.”

Bwahahahahahahaa! You really must be from out of those stupid and icky 1940′s, Murray.

Oh man, that whole post was a gem, thanks.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 1:24 pm

“What can you do for these people other than provide cute visions of the future? What can you give to them to convince them to essentially give up their lives for an unknown and outlandishly unbelievable future?

Nothing but empty promises that have been around since the start of human civilization.”

Ha! Even of all the zombies who voted for him, almost none of them would be dumb enough to believe any of that kind of crap from Obama, if he wasn’t going to have all the guns and taxing power behind him.

Douglas August 31, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I see that when you start losing a debate, you revert to the playground mentality of insults and accusations. Typical knee jerk response. Fortunately, you can’t hurt my feelings. It’s all good. If you actually studied every page of the Venus Project website, every question you just asked would be answered. But of course, that would mean you’d actually have to research the “opposition” to have an informed mental state. Can’t have that, can we?

I’m actually not here to convince anyone of anything. If you want to dislike TVP, go right ahead, but do it for good reasons, not for bad assumptions or willful ignorance. I’m here to correct lies, deceit and misinformation. Dislike it based on facts, not on your personally slanted and biased B.S. At least then you’re being honest, and I can respect that.

As for empty promises, one of the things TVP plans to do is build a test city showcasing exactly how it would work, that people can visit and learn from. We’re already close to getting the land squared away and have several interested parties with the proper resources and means to make it happen. This is further along than you realize.

Here’s the funny thing, if TVP and the RBE was such stupid utter nonsense, why are you arguing so vehemently against it? If it’s dumb, it will naturally go away, right? I mean, smart people would never gravitate to something so stupid. Unless….unless you actually fear that we’re catching on, and people are starting to question old world ways and old ways of thinking, looking for something new, global, humane and technologically holistic for the betterment of all mankind, not just sections of it. Well, if that’s the case, then your ranting and raving would kind of make sense.

By the way, since you threw down the “I’m a cost accountant in the ship building and maintenance industry,” as a means to try and add credentials to your comments, I’m an Aerospace Systems Engineer with the Space Shuttle Program who’s pursuing my Masters in Astrophysics and PhD in Systems Engineering, so I really don’t care what you think you know, because you’ve truly studied nothing of this subject. You’re obviously biased and you cannot actually participate in a civil debate. We’re done.

Take care. Peace.

mpolzkill August 31, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Oh, that’s too bad, but what debate? I thought we agreed there was no debate.

You *better* work harder at selling your “Untopia”. You got a big fat no sale here.

You’re confusing me with J. Murray, I think.

Smart people gravitate towards all kinds of *incredibly* stupid things, Michael Shermer demonstrated how they may be *more* likely to do so.

Dog, the Space Shuttle Program is *not* a business, and I think I now see the root trouble here.

I know that hundreds of different wacky Marxoid pipe dreams have caught on with 99.9 % of people, and I’ll never stop screaming at them in the vain hopes of waking them up.

Oh, damn, I was the one who was confused. You *were* talking to Murray, my bad, most of this still stands though.

Beefcake the Mighty August 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Douglas:

I’ll put to you a question I asked one of the Venusians above, but went unanswered:

To demonstrate that you have some credibility here (i.e., that you’re not simply a utopian but have some actual knowledge of the relevant issues), please write out the system of equations that would have to solved (by computers, of course) to carry out these resource allocations. Shouldn’t be too hard for a PhD student, right?

Peter Surda August 31, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I think every leftie should try to work as a cost accountant for a while. It’s a quick way to awake from the non-scarcity utopia.

Anonymous August 31, 2010 at 10:14 pm

“Here’s the funny thing, if TVP and the RBE was such stupid utter nonsense, why are you arguing so vehemently against it? If it’s dumb, it will naturally go away, right? I mean, smart people would never gravitate to something so stupid. ”

What about all the smart people who believed that Marxism would result in a Utopia? What about all the smart people who believe that the US military can create a better world by waging wars? What about the smart people who think that Obama’s health care legislation (you know, the recent law making it illegal not to purchase health insurance) will improve the quality of health care in this country? Smart people can be fooled by stupid ideas just like everybody else.

J. Murray September 1, 2010 at 5:25 am

The reason I argue vehemently against it because of the scary proposition it may actually be taken seriously. Jonestown was an obviously stupid proposition, but it didn’t stop people from killing themselves.

There’s an intersting psychological phenomenon. Smart people are the MOST likely people to get suckered into scams and cults. Why? Intelligent people tend to be so confident in their ability to spot a scam that they quit being vigilant for them. Some of the most amazingly intelligent people ended up in Jonestown, the “Church” of Scientology, “investing” with Bernie Madoff, and a myriad of other problems.

Intelligence frequently leaves a void in a person’s life. Such individuals become so cynical about life that, in outright necessity, things being rejected wholesale (religion, social interaction, poor economic conditions, etc) get replaced by something outlandish.

TVP is just another in the long line of them. It popping up around now isn’t terribly surprising. The economy is in the tank, people my age and younger are having trouble in the job market. It just looks good, and people get suckered, especially the smart ones.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 5:53 am

I’m a Financial Analyst, CGA…and I agree with Douglas.

Renegade Division August 31, 2010 at 5:54 pm
David Kramer August 31, 2010 at 11:50 am

Bob: The Venus Project was the “climax” to that anti-Establishment internet movie hit “Zeitgest” (the sequel, that is). When I heard the economically-ignorant founder proclaim that there would be no money, the first obvious question was: “How is he going to pay all of the people to build his utopia?” I’m “sure” they’ll volunteer just like they “volunteer” to work for others in the current world. Or perhaps bartering? This is what happens when people don’t even bother to learn basic economics, let alone Austrian economics. Of course, the genius Einstein was allegedly a socialist. I guess Al thought that only the study of physics requires someone to make a learned opinion on the subject of physics. Any other field of study one can just opine on by whim.

GabrielO August 31, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Hi David, Bob: The Venus Project was the “climax” to that anti-Establishment internet movie hit “Zeitgeist” (the sequel, that is). Zeitgeist Addendum is not an anti-establishment movie. It presents the current state of affairs, and a possible solution for moving forward. When I heard the economically-ignorant founder proclaim that there would be no money, the first obvious question was: “How is he going to pay all of the people to build his utopia?” What makes you think he’s economically ignorant? The proposed Resource Based Economy (RBE) has nothing to do with the current monetary economy. You have to first research the concept in more details before judging his ideas. Your question “How is he going to pay all of the people to build his utopia?” is irrelevant in an RBE society. If there are no money why do you need to pay the people for? Also keep in mind that this is not HIS utopia. It is a proposed social system at which he arrived by studding other people’s ideas combined with his own experiences. (If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants -Isaac Newton). I’m “sure” they’ll volunteer just like they “volunteer” to work for others in the current world. Or perhaps bartering? I am not sure that volunteer is an appropriate definition for the workers in an RBE. Being a contributor is more appropriate term since you do not work for someone else. You would like to contribute to whole of the society. Your work would improve the life of everyone. And if you do not want to participate you will be free to do so. “Bartering”? Again, you do not own anything, so bartering has no meaning in an RBE. You have access to necessities of life (food, housing, transportation, education, etc), but you do not own anything. This is what happens when people don’t even bother to learn basic economics, let alone Austrian economics. Just like I said above, you cannot judge using the monetary economy as a reference. Of course, the genius Einstein was allegedly a socialist. I guess Al thought that only the study of physics requires someone to make a learned opinion on the subject of physics. Any other field of study one can just opine on by whim. I am not sure what Einstein has to do with TVP or RBE. Again, TVP has virtually nothing in common with socialism. If you are really interested to find out more about TVP and RBE please go to http://www.thevenusproject.com/the-venus-project-introduction/faq. Thank you for reading my post and I hope you are not upset because of my comments. Cheers, Gabriel

Peter September 1, 2010 at 12:11 am

What makes you think he’s economically ignorant?

You know that saying about how it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt? He opened his mouth. I mean, really, if someone told you he had a plan to mine the moon and corner the market on cheese (of which, after all, the moon is composed), wouldn’t you suspect he was just a little bit ignorant of physics, chemistry, economics, possibly other things? How would you know?

Mike August 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Hello.
I come in peace!

When we the people need our resources it travells as follows:

Resources -> Monetary budget -> Society

If we have 100% resources and society needs 20% of them but can only afford 5%, Society will only get 5% of the resources. Right?

If we with the most advanced and optimal monetary economy could afford 100% of the resources, the monetary system would lose its very purpose as we understand.

I know from your earlier comments that many of you think Im stupid,
so please explain to me in layman terms why this is so stupid what I just wrote. Please teach me where I’m false.

Fallon August 31, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Mike,It is highly unlikely that you are “stupid”. Especially if you are open to new ideas that you are only willing to accept as true (more or less) after thorough logical criticism. At any rate, I tend to believe that quality of intelligence is more important than mere quantity (maybe convenient for me, eh eh).

First, let’s cherry pick. What is “Society”? It is certainly not a living thing. When you eat a sandwich it does not satisy anybody else’s hunger. Only individuals act. So society is really a result of individuals acting in cooperation. So in order to build your economic model you need to have a proper understanding of the individual human. Now, are you willing to accept that humans make their own choices? Would you also be willing to accept that the human mind cannot be read and that it is always changing? Therefore, what someone wants today is not the same want of tomorrow?

If you follow me, then you might begin to understand that any plan or equation for the future will not include actual future demand on resources or money from the future standpoint of those humans the plan/equation/computer program is aimed at managing.

Am I being realistic?

akazamen April 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Society is certainly a “living” thing according to cybernetic theories.
Just because you don’t see it “breathe” it does not mean is inexistent.

A good book for changing the mainstream ‘reductionist’ point of view is “The Macroscope”. No, it is not written by a hippie, and is not publicity for TVP. But it will help you all to understand the Systemic view that many of us in TVP share.

It’s available online for free, just Google it.

Renegade Division August 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Mike what you are getting wrong here is, most economic systems designed who promise to do one better than Capitalism or Laissez Faire have one issue with them.
They all look at a Capitalist society, look at something really advanced attribute or operation which they don’t understand so much, then they form an theory about that the reason behind the existence of that feature from mere observation, and then they suggest a solution by removing that feature.
Let me explain it to you how almost all non-Capitalist economic systems fit into this:

a) Socialism: In a capitalist society, the person who delays his present consumption for future larger consumption and undertakes the risks deserves the profits. Once he makes some profits, the market incentivizes him to delay his present consumption even more and facilitate production. The more he delays his present consumption for the future consumption, the larger ownership of wealth he acquires.
Karl Marx looked at the resource ownership in the society and concluded that it looks like there are two classes of people, the owners and the workers. The owners exploit the workers, and the whole system is rigged to make owners richer and richer and keep workers poorer and poorer.
He suggested Socialism which would eliminate private ownership of production, and an experiment like that drove USSR down to ground in 4 years.

b) Keynesian Economics: This was formulated when Keynes looked at the monetary system and realized that Gold or limits on money supply served no purpose other than to restrict economic growth. He tried to eliminate that. He also saw a decline in aggregate demand as a fault in the capitalist economy so he suggested that government pump up the demand by spending more.

c) Venus Project/Resource Based Economy: These people fail to see what monetary system is used for. Conclude that without a monetary system there will be no scarcity, and therefore they wanna remove it.

Beefcake the Mighty September 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

Not so much false as incoherent; I have no idea what you mean when you say society needs 20% of the resources but can only afford 5% of them.

Ahmed Adam August 31, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Douglas, the price system and hence money exists for a reason. it is not arbitrary. it exist to facilitate supply with demand and coordinate it in the most effective efcient way the free market things best. Ok, so lets say you go ahead with the venus project. how do you solve the old age of human incentive? humans need an incentive to do x or y. are you saying someone would save resources for years, invest in producing a new product and then simply give it away for ”free” with out any payoff? would u do that? would u start up a business venture, invest ur time and money and effort and then produce goods and give it away for no cost what so ever? chap, this is why socialism failed. they band the price mechanism wich coordinated supply and demand in a smooth efficient way; its called the free market, and socialism failed. incentives, human actions can never and will never change old boy!! Mises predicted why socialism would fail in the long run way before anyone else did…. how did he know it would fail? he noticed them killing the most important fabric in the economy; price and money.

TeeZedEm September 19, 2010 at 6:09 am

Not arbitrary? Can you explain to me how the price system as it pertains to derivatives is not arbitrary? You got what is essentially a bet on an underlying asset, the “price” of this bet is calculated by a mathematical equation that is not covered under even advance financial accounting books because it is “out of scope”. What value does a derivative represent? Why do you need the Black-Scholes model to calculate the price? Why can’t you just let the market decide?

That is just one example.

Any system that can be subject to gross manipulation as long as you have the leverage to do so in indistinguishable from arbitrary.

Beefcake the Mighty September 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

As a quant on Wall St, I can tell you, your understanding of derivative pricing is a joke.

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Well Beefy, you are the one harping on mathematical equations so much. Perhaps you would like to explain to the class your understanding of the Black-Scholes equation.

Beefcake the Mighty October 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I wasn’t harping on anything, I wanted to see if you knew anything about economic science (from any school of thought) to back up your empty assertions about planning through supercomputers or appeals to fever swamp denizens like Kurzweil. It it was confirmed over a month ago that indeed, you are an ignoramus.

And no, I don’t care to educate anyone on the Black-Scholes equation; my line of work benefits from a sufficient number of morons in the market, like yourself.

TeeZedem November 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

As I have stated before I have read a fair bit on various schools of economic thought. I have to as part of my job and for my desgination. The difference between you and I is I also read other books and articles that are not about economics and investing. So I can see things you apparently cannot. But hey that is nothing a few books won’t cure if your willing to lay aside your works by Mises and Rothbard for just a small time.

So of course you couldn’t educate anyone on Black-Scholes, because you don’t know. You could just admit it, there is no shame in it. But it is interesting that I am the ignoramus for bringing it up.

Just so we are clear, you may think I am an ignoramus, but I think you are a tool.

Beefcake the Mighty November 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm

yawn

plan4freedom August 31, 2010 at 10:08 pm

The Venus Project seeks many of the same goals as the Austrians. Rather than emphasize their difference of methodology, we should all recognize the fact that they both advocate a voluntary society without any forms of coercion or groups having power over others. Rather than to be attached to one idea or the other, supporting all directions towards freedom may enhance our chances of achieving it. Division and in-fighting only keeps the status quo.

There are many questionable tenets of the Zeitgeist Movement/Venus Project and it takes time to learn, just as with free-market ideas. I was of the Austrian persuasion for some time before I discovered this other direction, and I was full of skepticism. But rather than shut it out I watched and listened for a long time before eventually favoring it.

I still believe a free-market would be an improvement upon the system we have today; but it’s not the economic system that matters most to me right now – I simply wish to achieve that level of freedom necessary to progress and experiment with other socio-economic systems in order to see what works best. Until then we have only theories.

What’s unsure about a monetary economy is if the power acquired trough monetary advantage can actually be limited by any means. Hierarchy, class and social stratification seem inevitable in a monetary economy, which can lead to numerous social problems and aberrant behavior. Money is the foundation of government after all, for it is always the rich and powerful who gain their grip over society. But now we’ve reached a point in our history where it is actually feasible that the monetary system can be transitioned out of entirely, not only to solve the problem of government and power but simultaneously to enhance the prosperity and freedom of everyone. Because the prosperity and freedom of others reflects that of ourselves, this seems to me to be the more logical path to achieving these goals – cooperation over competition.

Unless we meet and overcome our common problems of government, power, control and coercion, neither system will be given a chance to see whether or not they can truly solve our current social problems.

I recommend Austrians to give the ideas of a resource-based economy a chance. You can support one over the other, without necessarily rejecting one over the other.

Bruce Koerber August 31, 2010 at 10:22 pm

The ends may have some parallels but the means are quite different.

Peter September 1, 2010 at 12:22 am

The problem with people saying “I was an Austrian until I listened to these people ….” is that the speaker clearly wasn’t: you may have listened to Austrian economists and said to yourself “sounds good! Hell yeah, I agree with that!”, but you were just following along and didn’t actually understand it in any depth; and now you’re following someone else, still not really understanding.

Fallon September 1, 2010 at 1:26 am

If we said we were followers of Jim Jones on our way to start a colony in Guyana, the Venusians would reply ‘We were Jonesians once…’

plan4freedom September 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

You may like to assume that I couldn’t possibly have been an Austrian and then changed, but you’re wrong. In fact I am still an Austrian in the fact that I still understand its principles thoroughly. Like I said, I spent a lot of time considering and listening to these alternative ideas (it was for more than a year after Addendum was released) before what truly mattered was made clear: this is a non-hierarchical, non-governmental, voluntary society that they are advocating. Their ideas are no less plausible than market theory – only harder to come around to if you are previously conditioned into another paradigm.

A free-market would be easier to achieve from the place we are today because people’s culture and dispositions generally remain in the meme of “me for myself alone”. But that is changing as people realize that by working together with technology we can achieve more freedom and prosperity than ever through cooperation, as competition, division and stratification benefits only the few at the expense of the many.

I don’t oppose Austrian thinkers, though I no longer see markets as a necessary or feasible path towards our common goals (freedom, peace, prosperity), especially considering the inherent implications of differential advantage that exists in any monetary economy – which could only repeat the same course of events that got us to the level of despotism we endure today.

The sum of arguments against TVP usually reduce to ‘no incentive without money’ and ‘technology can’t do that’. These are pretty weak arguments. These and others seem only to reflect the attitudes people have when presented with alternatives; as usual, this culture promotes the “us vs them” mentality and “I’m right, you’re wrong” which ultimately keeps us all trapped in the place we are now. Supporting one another’s freedom to pursue our own course towards social betterment will give us all the chance to prove what works best by actual experimentation; opposition achieves nothing.

mpolzkill September 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

“sum of arguments against TVP: ‘no incentive without money’ and ‘technology can’t do that’. These are pretty weak arguments.”

No incentive is a weak argument? Huh. OK. “Technology” can’t do what? Solve the calculation problem? OK, how will “technology” solve the calculation problem?

“opposition achieves nothing”

OK, let’s all decide to get rid of money. Can we first ask you tell us how you’re going to solve the calculation problem? Oh, I guess that’s “opposition” again. People aren’t just being mean or pigheaded when they bring up Jim Jones, you’re reminding us of Jim Jones.

Dagnytg September 1, 2010 at 5:16 am

This reply was originally for Douglas but other Venusians take note.

Douglas…

The attraction of Austrian economics for me is its psychological implications. The Austrian premise is “human action” or “man acts”. In a society with no markets, no money, and no reason for work-how will man act?

For most people work is an important dimension of self. Without work, there is a lack of relevancy. If I am not relevant then why do I exist? Once I realize I am not relevant, what will I pursue???

To find the answer all you need to do is drive down to an inner city ghetto. There, (and I know firsthand) you will find what people do when they are no longer relevant-drugs, sex, and violence.

The failure of the TVP and (other utopian projects) is found through behavioral psychology… even though technology has advanced/evolved-mankind has not (and cannot).

One of the scariest statements from the TVP website-“Experience tells us that human behavior can be modified…” Only two ways to do that- brainwashing and/or subjugation (i.e. torture, fear of death, prison, etc.)

Doug, I assume the TVP mostly attracts people who are young, intelligent, and idealistic like you. I’m not one to rain on your parade, but you should be very leery of this project. Terms like “cooperation” combined with “behavior modification” are early signs of trouble. … “total redesign of our culture”… is another.

I beg you to spend some/more time studying economics (Austrian), history (in particular the history of utopian movements), and behavioral psychology.

Karl September 6, 2010 at 3:29 am

Dagnytg writes:

In a society with no markets, no money, and no reason for work-how will man act?

To think that the desire to engage meaningfully with the world goes away without scarcity and money is simply a superstitious belief. I work on open source software in my spare time and this is much more fulfilling and useful for other people than the crap I work on in my job to earn a buck. There will always be work available to study the world, improve our current relation with it, and create new ways of relating to it.

Dagnytg writes:

One of the scariest statements from the TVP website-“Experience tells us that human behavior can be modified…”

Why is this true statement scary to you? Where do think your beliefs and behaviors came from? They were all taught to you or adopted by you after observing them in others around you. You are the result of cultural conditioning. The only scary part is where people don’t seem to be aware of this.

Jon Leckie September 6, 2010 at 5:03 am

Conditioning requires a conditioner; modification requires a modifier. Who’s it going to be? I accept my behaviour is to an extent the product of cultural conditioning, but that is a different proposition from another person or a committee of persons deliberately and actively modifying my behaviour. That’s what’s rather scary.

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

What will you pursue? Anything you want.

How many on here are currently working at a job they’d rather not and have sacrificed what they wanted to do because of economic necessity?

If you were no longer bound by the worry of where you next meal is coming from and where you are going to sleep at night, then you could accomplish great things instead of wasting your time and intellect on taking care of that which should be yours without question.

Inner-city ghettos do not result from lack of direction, it results from scarcity imposed by money. Living a life stressed from whether or not you are going to be evicted from your home and not be able to provide food for your kids to eat drives people to extraordinary lengths (i.e. prostitution, crime).

The difference between a law-abiding citizen and a criminal? About 9 meals.

Mankind is infintely malleable. Edward Bernays turned us into consumers. We can turn ourselves back. Also Edward Bernays didn’t use torture or subjugation to accomplish this, he just tapped into the basic psychology of crowds.

You may not like the idea that we need a re-design of our culture, and if you can point out how we are going to solve the world’s scarcity problems that doesn’t use the phrase “ignore the poor” then I am all ears.

How are we going to colonize space when we can’t get our crap together here? And colonize space we must as all it takes is one fair sized asteroid to put an end to us all.

You make the assumption that most of us haven’t read one economic text before discovering the Venus Project. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have. I had to in the course of pursuing my designation. And I was a big supporter of Ron Paul and Peter Schiff, I still am as they recognize what is wrong. The only thing that has changed for me is that their solutions involve changing the monetary system, whereas I have moved beyond that. To me sound money is an intermediate step, not the end goal.

makanbubur August 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm

1.) we look properly what it takes to create a things. i mean things you wants or somebody wants..

2.) what things? anything.. there will be ONLY 2 choice, make the things you want by yourself or somebody else make it for you

if you make the things on your own, u created value for yourself. nobody else

if someone else make the things for you, u either need to pay something in return or you owed him/her. in today’s world i believe each of us are very limited in making things for ourself, therefore we are dependent on others while what happened to us is we pretty much dived into specialization / specific know how only.

3.) so most of us doing being employed and trade our skills in return of some value(salary). being employed means depending on your boss which basically depend back on employee to generate things and sell it to someone else with more value(profit). profit means more than enough paying back to employee, cover business operating cost and everything else.

4.) in this situation, what happened is the boss acquired a lot of value compared than entire input has been done. if this is the case, where does those value coming from if everybody else must seek more value than entire input?

for eg: 1 earth has 50 population. 5 boss, the rest is employee, therefore each boss has 9 employee

to keep things simplified, there are 45 employees, let say all their salary is only 1 dollar per month, thats $45 minimum money needed in circulation. but boss do not have any salary at all yet

in capitalism each boss must seek more value than entire input, boss must seek more than $9 to cover entire operation. for eg: $10 or $11..multiply by total 5 boss, = $55 needed?

in current world, boss keep the reserve as much as possible, self-preserving, there is no giving back more than input.. so money cant back in circulation again. so wealth the bosses has gained is someone’s else misery in this case assume most of the human in the world try to survive is either by employment or become self-employed.

with holding large amount of money, boss able to tell people(peasants) to do what they want. this is nothing to do with environment concern, nothing to do with education, not science, not health, not technology (technology created driven by profit is not real technology) the case we see here is once the boss starts driven by profit, its going to channel everyone else into wrong path, wrong invention, WRONG FUTURE, its the disaster we are messing/playing with now

real life example why im saying disaster :

- we have pollution problem, anarchist, disease, inflation, war, global warming, poor health, drug problem, economy crisis, fear, insecure, HUGE WASTE, etc etc..

assuming upon discover gold, money as power era and we had realized earth’s finite resource, and the boss being smart as well, they should properly use their power to make the future independent, liberalization, probably now humanity already travel in space, not whatever disaster shite, countless problem we need to deal with now

more info : http://bit.ly/d3N8Xm

makanbubur August 31, 2010 at 10:40 pm

with profit in mind there is no genuine solution or technology to solve the problem. because if it does.. the capitalism will no longer able to do ‘maintainence’ and will fall apart.

same as true green economy, people can invent something to solve problem for a long time and no need maintainence. but capitalism is against efficiency

http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1544833

Inquisitor August 31, 2010 at 10:43 pm

If I may ask… where do you come up with this shit?

Walt D. September 1, 2010 at 1:41 am

Uranus?

makanbubur September 1, 2010 at 4:07 am

http://mises.org/images4/PyramidCapitalism.gif

lets say what if someone able to create technology to liberalize and give freedom to the all people in the bottom level? what will happen?

mpolzkill September 1, 2010 at 6:21 am

It already happened, “makan”. 99.9% of them went running in terror to the arms of the State.

Vanmind August 31, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Screw that. My Utopia will have floating cities that need no resources at all to keep them aloft. Gravity, like scarcity, doesn’t exist.

Peter September 1, 2010 at 12:29 am

Pisthetairos, is that you? :)

Mike September 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thank You for answering my question,

@Fallon: I’m talking about natural resources ( energy, water, food, materials etc. )
I understand that people are different and realize we make our own desicions and choices. But I didn’t understand what point you were making. Was this about politics? Distribution of products?
Yes no plan is absolute, if a resource based economy were to be, it would also be outdated after a while.

@Renegade Division: I appreciate that you took your time to teach me about the different approaches within monetary economics. But I’m trying to take a step back for a perspective on the monetary system as a whole.

I will rearrange my question: What are the goals and very purpose with the monetary system and why can they not be achieved/fullfilled without the system? What is it monetary economics uniquely generates?

Beefcake the Mighty September 1, 2010 at 9:55 am

The essence of Mises’ calculation argument is that a value calculus is impossible, only price calculation is possible. If there are no markets in factors of production (as under socialism and the Venusians’ system), there can be no prices and hence no calculation. This does not mean of course that a central planner, armed with sufficient knowledge of resources and technology, could not order this or that to be produced. What it means is, there is no economic significance to such allocations (leaving aside comment on the delusion that any central planner in an advanced economy could ever possess the requisitie technical knowledge), since there is no standard of value that can be used in place of prices. It is irrelevant if we say the planner can simply substitute his own or “society’s” preferences, that does not change the facts.

In Man, Economy, and State Rothbard has a beautiful discussion of the clear distinction between consumer goods (whose economic significance depends on the end that must be foregone in that good’s absence) and producer goods (whose economic significance depends on the monetary revenue that must be foregone in that good’s absence from some production process).

Peter Surda September 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

What is it monetary economics uniquely generates?

It generates information that would otherwise be unavailable and de-personalises economic transactions. That is why TVP is doomed.

Erik Bruhwiler September 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Basically, consumer choice is a feedback system for what is ‘useful’ or ‘desired’ in society. The tool is feedback.

That is not difficult to implement in a computer managed resource economy. Several options of a hammer could be provided for free (produced by the automated design, production, and distribution system). The consumer, who picks one of the hammers will by his choice be providing feedback, but there could also be a feedback recorder on the hammer itself, where the consumer chooses a number between one & ten for hammer-usefulness, or the like.

Jay Lakner September 6, 2010 at 11:45 pm

When someone makes a profit, all that means is that they have taken resources that people consider to be of low value and transformed them into a product that people consider to be of high value. Hence profits indicate an overall improvement in the way society uses their resources.
When someone makes a loss, that means resources that people consider to be of high value have been transformed into a product that people consider to be of lower value. Hence losses indicate an overall deterioration in the way society uses their resources.
If you remove the price system, you remove profit and loss calculations, and then there is no way of precisely knowing whether an activity is a good use of resources or a poor use of resources.

Mike September 1, 2010 at 10:39 am

So if understand this,
there has to be a price system to calculate for an investor to create a product, make a profit and run business? This is obvious for anyone so maybe I didnt catch it.

So what if there are no investors, no companies and no profits to be made.

Example: If a large number of people request that they would want an mp3-player each and the central planner calculates due to a worldwide survey of the world’s natural resources, that the material for this is available without hurting other important products. Where do Mises’ calculation argument say no to this?

Beefcake the Mighty September 1, 2010 at 10:40 am

You didn’t understand it, no.

Jon Leckie September 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

The information required to accurately make such a decision would overwhelm either an individual decision maker or a committee of experts. The information contained in freely determined prices – ie. the interplay of supply of demand in a free market – reflects the individual decisions of millions and millions of individuals, producers and consumers, and is the only mechanism, according to Austrians, that is capable of allocating scarce resources to ends such as supplying mp3 players. The price in a free market is actually “a large number of people [requesting] that they would want an mp3-player each”. In other words, it is the price consumers are willing to pay that determines the ends to which a community’s resources are allocated, rather than a central committee.

That’s my understanding, but I’ll allow myself to be qualified/corrected by others. I hope that’s interesting or at least helpful.

Why are we in bold font here? I feel like I’m shouting.

Jon Leckie September 1, 2010 at 10:51 am

Sorry for the double post, I’m not allowed to edit. I wanted to add at the end of the first paragraph that “A freely determined price mechanism is – to my mind – the only way a community can make the most efficient use of its resources to satisfy the ends most highly valued by the community. It cannot and should not be done by coercion or authority.”

The Kid Salami September 1, 2010 at 11:31 am

Expand this part of your question

“that the material for this is available without hurting other important products”

specifically by asking yourself what – exactly what – “available”, “hurting” and “important” mean. In doing so, you will probably answer yourself.

Beefcake the Mighty September 1, 2010 at 11:39 am

His response is a perfect example of begging the question.

GabrielO September 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

The bold font is my fault. I did not use the proper end tag. I cannot modify my post. Maybe an admin can do this? I apologize for the inconvenience.Cheers, Gabriel

bobobberson September 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm

You should have planned better! Why didn’t you foresee this?

Eryk September 1, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Advances in technology over the next 40 to 50 years will make it possible to create a cybernetic resource economy. What I mean by a “resource economy” is an economy based exclusively on the management of refined resources (e.g. processed metal ore and bioplastics) instead of finished goods and services. By “cybernetic” I mean it uses adaptive, distributed control via robust machine learning. It doesn’t use periodic sampling and analysis to implement centralized management; it adapts and responds in real-time to maintain homeostasis in a distributed network with embedded intelligence, just as living systems do. This is further enabled by advances in manufacturing and agriculture that bring on-demand productive capacity close to local communities. Thus the cybernetic economy only has to manage the distribution and recycling of refined resources in a global network of communities, which I would loosely compare to the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and excretory systems in an animal (certainly nothing that requires conscious control). It may be hard to imagine that such a system is possible, but it was equally hard to imagine a “personal computer” in the 1940s world of the ENIAC. Give it 40 years.

(I would like to make it clear that I don’t think the global economy will collapse within 5 to 10 years. Moreover, if that were to happen, I think it would be a horrible tragedy that would set us back decades. This is a long-term project over the next 40 to 50 years, which will co-evolve with developments on the ground, assuming there are no collapses or global catastrophes such as World War III.)

The most fundamental change we’re talking about here is moving away from hydrocarbons to an economy driven by an abundant supply of solar and geothermal energy. This enables, first and foremost, the ability to create an abundance of food and water with automated hydroponic and desalination systems. We’re also talking about a revolution in manufacturing (currently in development at a university or commercial lab near you) using self-replicating, self-reconfiguring robotics; microelectromechanical systems (MEMS); and synthetic biotechnology (e.g. the “minimal cell” project) to provide local on-demand manufacturing of the vast majority of personal goods people need or desire. Also, future manufacturing techniques will be co-engineered with recycling techniques such that the economy is cradle-to-cradle (C2C). Thus the hard limit on the circulation of material resources in the economy will be the rate at which energy can be harvested.

C2C manufacturing is the most speculative prospect since almost all of our existing materials technologies have been developed with zero regard for recycling within an environment of extreme energy scarcity. Yet that’s beginning to change as our landfills become mountains that are hard to ignore.

Also, regarding manufacturing, there would still be regional and global manufacturing hubs for mid-to-large-scale production of infrastructure such as cargo ships, trains, and space launch vehicles. Community manufacturing centers would be limited in capacity to producing personal goods (e.g. sizes up to a personal vehicle or a mid-size boat). Big-ticket items such as a large yacht would be made available through regional manufacturing hubs and would require time-sharing. I think people should be as free as possible to dream big and live their dreams. However, there are limits to what can be practically achieved (which we perpetually extend through innovation), and those limits will be naturally embedded within the intelligence of any sustainable system. Monetary economics is one way, but not the only way, and certainly not the way that brings the most happiness to the most people.

Anyway, these are just extrapolations of current trends in technology out 40 to 50 years. There’s also the possibility of revolutionary advances such as a breakthrough in molecular nanotechnology or artificial intelligence, but that’s a different discussion entirely about the possibility of a “technological singularity” in our near future. Take it to kurzweilai.net.

Once we have all these systems in place to maximally empower the individual, then money and trade are no longer needed. What we need at that point is the service of designers, engineers, and scientists. Thankfully, we don’t have a scarcity of human creativity. People will volunteer as engineers and scientists because being creative is its own reward. Promise nerds like me a decent standard of living, security, and access to the fruits of our creativity, and we won’t miss a beat. We”ll keep on playing in our labs because it’s fun. Mathematics is fun. Science is fun. Engineering is fun. More importantly, it gives our lives *purpose* (I think I saw someone on here mention that, and I agree completely that we all need a sense of purpose). For sure, some engineers are only in it for the money, but not all of them and certainly not the best of them.

Finally, it’s obvious that the new economy has to evolve within a capitalist framework since that’s the reality on the ground. Claiming that you can’t use capitalism to eventually move beyond capitalism is like saying your computer can’t use a 16-bit 8086 real-mode BIOS to bootstrap into a 64-bit hypervisor. It’s like saying scientists couldn’t use Newtonian mechanics to build machines that enabled the discovery of quantum mechanics. More to the point, it’s like saying the transition from a paleolithic hunter gatherer society to a neolithic society that used money and division of labor was accomplished, I suppose, by magic. Perhaps human civilization quantum tunneled. All joking aside, I believe that the only thing constant in life is change, and this leaves me absolutely convinced that human civilization will eventually evolve to a point that makes this entire dialog seem somewhat silly. But I also know that social change isn’t magical. It emerges from the combined effort and vision of many people, and especially the vision of a few who dare to dream big. People take for granted the sociopolitical, philosophical, and theological beliefs and technical capacities that they inherited from their ancestors, but we need to remind ourselves that life wasn’t always like this for our species, not even remotely, and it won’t continue to be like this for long. I think we’re due for radical changes in this century, and I look forward to the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.

mpolzkill September 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm

“All joking aside, I believe that the only thing constant in life is change, and this leaves me absolutely convinced that human civilization will eventually evolve to a point that makes this entire dialog seem somewhat silly.”

Mountains that are hard to ignore?

Fallon September 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

All data relating to human desire is past data for the outside world, whether human or computer. The technology, however god-like, will not be omniscient and will still have to solve the economic problem. The equilibrium the super technology bases its decisions on are future states of demand and resources. But it cannot know these things. The planners behind the machine don’t even know their own future mindset. Economics is not merely accounting for voluminous factors of resources and environments.

There is certain irony here. The necessary means (market) to create such a super technology (if it were possible) is the very process the technology would be designed to replace…

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

So is economics in fact voodoo in combination with a crystal ball? You’ve said as much by saying that even IF we account for all real-time factors since we cannot account for future demand and resources (which I think is debateable, but ok) so ultimately it won’t work? And you magical solution to the same problem is the price mechanism?

Can you hear how absurd that sounds? That the price mechanism can allow people to base decisions on future states of demand and resources while a computer with the same data available cannot? Let’s not even get into the idea that the price mechanism can be tampered with and distorted, for example, selling products below cost. Or selling products at a price point that doesn’t agree with the amount of supply. So the reliable information that is being communicated by the price mechanism is that it is the wrong price, but you can, and companies do, ignore that information because of other external factors (market share for example) that have nothing to do with efficient allocation of resources.

Peter Surda October 30, 2010 at 4:29 am

The thing you do not address is the subjective human valuation of needs. You do not provide a methodology of translating these needs into a scale that can be used for computations (for reference about scales, see Wikipedia article). Without that, computers are useless and it is impossible to determine efficiency of a system.

I have demonstrated earlier the amount of computations necessary even if you had such a scale. The computational complexity follows a geometrical progression. Once you cross the threshold of a capacity of a central system, it is more efficient to have multiple decentralised systems and have those trade freely among themselves. So that refutes the centralisation argument even if you were able to fix the problem above.

The Kid Salami September 2, 2010 at 3:25 am

“I think we’re due for radical changes in this century, and I look forward to the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.”

I agree with the first part of this but would replace “look forward to” with “scream myself to sleep thinking about” in the second part.

I agree there are many many technological advances to be made. However, technology cannot just appear from nowhere – there is a process, one which must obey the fundamental laws of economics. The parasites are in the way of the progress of which you speak and will have to be cut loose first.

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 5:44 pm

IF we could just replace the “fundamental laws of economics” with the “fundamental laws of physics” we’ll get along just fine.

Physics tells us what is possible. Austrian economics gives us a rough idea of how to allocate resources as efficiently as possible using the price mechanism. Within it’s narrow paradigm, economics is useful, but it doesn’t trump natural law.

Peter Surda October 30, 2010 at 4:35 am

Physics tells us what is possible.

But it does not tell us what is desired.

Beefcake the Mighty November 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Exactly. It’s pretty clear this clown is not as widely read in economics as he claims. I frankly doubt he’s read any economics.

Zorg September 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm

I was all over this communist renaissance thing when the
Zeitgeist Addendum first came out. I kept posting on YouTube
videos that this was nothing more than communism with better
pictures. I was not able to get the supporters to cop to anything
except one guy only after pressing him quite hard.

He finally told me that once things were underway, resisters would
have to be re-educated since with their “lack of cooperation” (the system
is based on “cooperation”. Get it?), they would be endangering the
whole of the global society. You know, “We’re all in this together and
everyone needs to contribute their fair share.”

He said that it would be perceived as an anti-social mental illness to
be opposed to the superabundance being planned by the technocrats.

Pressing him further on what would happen to those for whom
re-education had failed, he suddenly became superabundantly vile and
told me that me and my “kind” would be “left in a gutter to rot.”

Try it yourself, especially all you naive people posting here about this
transparently marxist “project”. Keep asking them how they are going
to get everyone to cooperate. Ask them how they will acquire the
capital. What do they do when the world’s capital and the cooperation
of all the world’s people are not forthcoming?

Ask them about ethics.

Russ the Apostate September 2, 2010 at 12:29 am

I put an end bold tag in the beginning of my post. Let’s see if that helps…

“Ask them about ethics.”

Ethics? Ethics are political, since everything is political. The end justifies the means; that is the only ethics that socialists know.

mpolzkill September 2, 2010 at 7:43 am

“that is the only ethics that socialists know.”

A mirror of Russ the Burgher’s “ethics”: anything and everything justifies the status quo.

TeeZedem October 29, 2010 at 5:53 pm

We promote education, not the loaded term “re-eduation”. We want free access to knowledge for everyone. Total transparency. If you want to make out like it is a bad thing for us to want you (but not force you) to read some books (not specific books, any book you would like), then you are free to do so.

As to co-operation, why would we need to force anyone. Honestly, we don’t need any of you. If you would like to continue to work and live in a capitalistic society run on austrian theory then bravo. We will live our way.

If our system is better, then people will come to that conclusion on their own and want to replicate what we have done. A good idea doesn’t require force. In fact if the Venus Project tried to force anyone to comply I would be the first to resist. Force is not our way. If you do chose to live in our society then we have expectations that you will behave responsibly like you would in any society, this is not an unreasonable expectation.

Mike September 2, 2010 at 1:01 am

“that the material for this is available without hurting other important products”
= we’ve got leftovers.
Please understand that I started typing in this section to work with you and not against you.
I’m trying to learn from you and some of you give me answers like: “understand your own words, then you will have your answer”. What the hell does that mean? Why dont you point them out for me and try to teach me what this is about?

I’m trying to locate and identify where we disagree. As for now it seem to be my lack of info.

@ Jon Leckie: I believe you’re saying that we haven’t got the technology to harnest everyone’s requests with a committee of individuals. You are absolutly right, we see that failing today.
But I believe the successors of the Jaguar and Nebulae (super coms) will be able to do that.
This is an odd article but it proves that computers are starting to learn how to put facts together, not only math:

http://toofar.tv/welcome/?p=501

Of course we can disagree on the technological capacity. But I think that’s not what you are trying to tell me. If I’m right, Mises’ calculation arguments shows that a resource based economy isn’t allowed due to one or some rules that I want to find out what they are. If possible, please explain as easy as you can. I guess this is crystal clear for you who study and practice Mises, but for me this is very difficult.

Jon Leckie September 2, 2010 at 2:37 am

I don’t study or practice Mises, I’m an amateur with an interest. I’ve set it out as clearly as I can: if you want to rephrase my words as “an individual or a committee of individuals lacks the technology to replicate the role of a free market system based on the price mechanism in allocating scarce resources to freely chosen ends”, that would be correct. Your last paragraph is wrong, I’m not trying to tell you that at all, and I suspect (although am not certain) that you’re being a little disingenuous. It’s not a rule based thing: it’s a reality based thing, like you sort of hit upon in your penultimate paragraph.

By the way, Mike, go and borrow some Hayek from your library. The Constitution of Liberty is more accessible than its length suggests, although The Road to Serfdom might be a better introduction. No blogger on mises.org is going to be able to provide you with the full arguments required to understand Austrian economics. Austrian economics is a very simple and powerful perspective, but it still takes a bit of effort to understand it, combined with an open mind, of course. Good luck.

Erik Bruhwiler September 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Ditto with RBE and TVP. You will have to spend several days in-depth to get the scope and completeness of ‘the movement’. It is amazingly complete and plausible, if not probable or likely.

A cursory scanning of the site or these comments – which seems to be the norm among the Austrians – only makes Austrian economists look very narrow-minded. But that is not what “Venusians” want. We want thorough discussions and challenges to the project because we want to know where the holes are – if there are any, which doesn’t seem to be the case. If you do not provide a reasonable discussion, then we are simply stuck trying to get that from you, instead of actually methodically going through the full design assertions in the hunt for identifiable flaws.

The Kid Salami September 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

““understand your own words, then you will have your answer”. What the hell does that mean? Why dont you point them out for me and try to teach me what this is about?”

I’m not trying to be smart – I’m serious. Try rephrasing this

“that the material for this is available without hurting other important products”

part of the question without using those words, expanding upon them with simpler ones which describe EXACTLY what you mean by them.

Beefcake the Mighty September 2, 2010 at 8:49 am

Better idea: he should try not assuming what needs to be established by the Venusians (that scarcity can be overcome by technology). The passage highlighted here is classic question-begging.

Mike September 2, 2010 at 10:26 am

I realize that I have to take a deeper look into this and learn more.

@Jon Leckie: I will read atleast one of the books.

@The Kid Salami: I’ll try to address my questions more accurately next time.

@Beefcake: I’ll try not question-beg next time.

Thank you for taking your time,

I’ll be back! cheers

Stanton Cruse September 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

The thing I don’t quite understand is why Austrians get so bent out of shape when people criticize CAPITALISM AS WE KNOW IT. I’m a big fan of all things Ron Paul, Rothbard, Hyek, and Mises. Without a doubt, the Austrian school understands economics best! Nevertheless, Capitalism AS IT EXISTS TODAY, AND AS I KNOW IT, is a major source of dehumanization, conscription, elitism, corruption, and institutionalized rape the Earth’s natural systems that sustain us all. The Austrian’s say “That is not TRUE Capitalism” and that “In a true-free market things would be much different” and I agree, so why defend what we have? I have heard Communists say that Communism as we have heard about, the Stalinist / Maoist type, is not true Communism and things would be different if it were pure Communism. I’ve heard the same thing from Socialists, and I hear it all the time from my Austrian buddies. What Jacque proposes is a “none of the above” approach, and has spent the majority of his 94 years working on the ideas proposed by the Venus Project.

Stanton Cruse September 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm

PS. True free-market capitalism in voluntary societies seems to be a viable pathway to Something akin to the Venus Project. I wish some of the bloggers here would take the time, as I have, to find the common ground for this growing and enthusiastic young movement. They emphasize personal liberty and volunteerism, but without neglecting collective liberty, as pushed for by left libertarians. They are anti-state. They are solution oriented, and do not see solutions coming from government, though I know several that supported Ron Paul in 2008. When speaking of economics, they use much different language than the Austrians, and could benefit from interactions with us, just as we can benefit from their depth of knowledge in areas such as psychology, philosophy, and alternative energy. It is my sincere hope that this dialogue will help Libertarians and Zeitgeisters to find and emphasize that common ground. In my oppinion, they are friends and we should treat them as such. We can help one another without entangling alliances.

Mike September 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

Hi guys,
I’m back!

I’ve done some reading and wiki explained the calculation problem best:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem

Of course I recognize that this is true, but still within the monetary economy. For the RBE to work it is provided that an accurate and global survey of all of the planets resources is made. Then it would be calculable because we would know how much we’ve got in storage to spend and we would know how to allocate the resources from prioritization of the essentials, all the way to luxurious request from each and every individual on the planet. I think Nano techs’ smart dust would be capable of doing such a survey today.

For many of you I read that this is science fiction (ref: star trek comments dropped in the section), but I believe that this technology is possible. So this must be where we disagree right? It is a technological issue.. right?

I get confused when Robert P. Murphy in his article writes: “I’ll run over some of the biggest gaps in their proposal.” But instead of pointing out the flaws in RBE, he defends monetary economics.

His Calcutta-boy example argues that the current system could be just as good as the RBE.

Then he moves on writing that the Venus Project had the wrong diagnosis about how and why the economy went the way it did during the world wars. I wont question whether he is wrong or not, but this only proves that the monetary system is manipulable and there for corruptable. It says nothing about the RBE.

Moving on to the calculation debate section. This I dig and recognize but in a RBE there is a new situation: There are no companies or business and there is no market at all. No one needs to sell anything. There are no external means and therefore no external value like a price. Decisions will not be taken, they will be arrived at due to known information like the economy of resources and requests from individuals or nature. How will the planner know if it is efficient? It doesn’t have to be efficient in terms of a price, but it has to be aware on how to operate not to waste resources on B.S. ( read: Bad Science ). And I believe a super computer would be capable of accomplishing this today. This is also a technological issue right?

And lastly on competition vs contribution. Think about the scientific boom-boost that would occur if there were no more monetary financial limits. I think products with higher quality would come out of that alone and with an open-source distribution of all blueprints available, people with interest in any field could at anytime contribute with whatever they had come up with. This would be a philosophical issue right?

As I see it, we disagree on the technological capacity of today and on the philosophy if people in a society without competition would contribute to production.

Sorry Beefcake if I’m question-begging again, I tried my best

Thoughts?

Franklin September 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

I hope your supercomputer is more like R2D2 and less like Skynet.

The Kid Salami September 3, 2010 at 11:07 am

Mike – this has nothing – nothing whatsoever – to do with technology. I say again, try rephrasing this

“that the material for this is available without hurting other important products”

part of your question without using those words, expanding upon them with simpler ones which describe EXACTLY what you mean by them.

To start you off, economics is defined by Thomas Sowell in his book “Basic Economic” (from memory, maybe not exactly this) as “the study of the allocation of scarce resources which have alternative uses”.

Note “alternative uses”. I have gold in my possession, not much but enough to coat my taps like Saddam used to in his palace. Is this gold AVAILABLE for me to use to gold plate my taps? How do we evaluate if the answer to this is yes or no?

Try rephrasing that sentance again now.

Peter Surda September 3, 2010 at 11:57 am

It looks like you did not get the whole breadth of the economic calculation argument. The argument is that prices allow to establish a relationship between inputs an outputs and thereby allow to make rational decisions. In order to perform better than this, a system would need to produce a more accurate reflection of individuals’ needs and capabilities than the individuals’ own actions on the market. The Austrians hold that because there is no other way to determine a persons’s needs and capabilities than to observe their actions, so you cannot beat the market. Also, the profit/loss system autotunes the prices for fluctuations in demand and supply of goods, so there is no need for an external correction.

Let me ask you this: in the absence of prices, how do you know that a specific combination of inputs and a outputs is the most useful one? Of course, you can measure both the input and the output. But they are different objects. You cannot calculate apples divided by (water + soil + sunlight + fertiliser), for example. So, you need to express the worth of each with a common unit. That’s what prices do. They are the outcome of action, not of pure calculation. You can, in theory, simulate market and thereby generate the common unit, but why then not use the actual market?

Mike September 5, 2010 at 11:33 am

@ Kid Salami:
Okay, what I mean with that sentence is:
I want to make bloody marys for my party and I have enough tomatoes to make them plus ketchup and gazpacho (other important products) so it wont “hurt them” cause I have enough of this perticular resource (tomatoes) available.

I know the original sentence was very clumsy written. However, what I wrote above is exactly what I meant. I think I’m getting the whole calculation argument, but I’m having a hard time grasping how it would overrule the simple logic as for the example about the tomatoes. So it seems I only think I understand it. but truly don’t.

The answer is no to the gold tap question because you need more resources in order to melt the gold down and for the rest of the process.

@Peter Surda: What I don’t understand is that in a RBE as I see it, there wouldn’t be much calculation like you wrote: “You cannot calculate apples divided by (water + soil + sunlight + fertiliser)” but merely counting with addition and subtraction. If I want to produce apples and I need 5l water + 5 shovels of soil + a sunny location + 2l fertiliser. If I have it, I can do it.

Well I guess it’s back to the books for me. I appreciate that you’re being so professional with me, I truly do. I need to understand the calculation argument!

Peter Surda September 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm

You miss the point, I am afraid. Sure, if you have the inputs, you can produce the outputs. However, because the inputs are scarce, their use for a specific output A is mutually exclusive with their usage for a different output B. So, those that have the inputs and those that want A and B need to coordinate a decision whether A or B is preferable. Prices allow a decentralised rational decision. In the absence of them, you can only make less rational decisions.

The Kid Salami September 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Mike

“I want to make bloody marys for my party and I have enough tomatoes to make them plus ketchup and gazpacho (other important products) so it wont “hurt them” cause I have enough of this perticular resource (tomatoes) available.”

“enough” tomatoes? Enough ketchup? That’s clear – you have enough stuff to make the bloody mary. The question is, what else could you do with those tomatoes, vodka, ketchup etc.? What is their “alternative use”?

If, for example, your neighbour was an alcoholic and all the vodka shops were closed until tomorrow, he might give you a lot of money for your vodka. So having “enough” is the easy bit – you could make and drink a bloody mary, meanwhile your neighbour would pay £50 for the vodka you used, so you could alternatively not make the bloody mary and sell the vodka to your neighbour.

Now, in this case, you can decide in your own head which you prefer, a bloody mary now or £50 to go to the store when they open, buy some vodka and have one tomorrow. You are free to choose and it’s easy. that there is no monetary value attached directly to your desire for a bloody mary now doesn;t matter (although, think about it – you can DEFINE the monetary value of such a desire by the amount of money you will accept to drop it).

Now imagine that you have alternative uses for the ingredients like this not just for the vodka but for the tomatoes, the celery, the worcester sauce etc. it’s more complicated now – you don’t just have a straight choice between two things, but have to compare your desire for the bloody mary now to a number of disparate scenarios, some of which might also be “desires” – maybe the tomato store opens in 1 hour. So the comparison is between

bm now
bm in 1 hour + what you can get now for the tomatoes
bm tomorrow + what you can get for the vodka

This rapidly gets more and more complicated and the only way to navigate is to use a common price system.

For a better explanation than my waffle, I suggest you watch this instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ERbC7JyCfU

TeeZedem September 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

@The Kid Salami
So let’s be clear what your alcoholic neighbour is actually paying for. Liquor stores are closed, you have access to vodka, and he does not. He is offering up 50 quid to gain access to your vodka.

In every transaction you are paying for access to a particular resource, your ability to restrict access through ownership is what is valuable. Why is this valuable and not the actual resource?

Consider the following: you have two bottles of vodka in this scenario instead of one. How could you command for that extra bottle?

About 50 quid, the same amount that was offered in the first scenario for the last bottle.

Now your threshold for making a decision to part with that bottle might realistically be much lower, but there is nothing stopping you from taking advantage of information asymmetry between you and your alcoholic neighbour and commanding the full price of whatever he was willing to pay and this would be within your rights. And in fact exercising that right would actually increase the over all utility to you, you get to have your Bloody Mary and you get to make 50 quid.

If the value was derived from the resource itself, then it should without question lower itself in proportion to the increasing amount available. But it doesn’t have to; it is in fact at your whim, because the value is derived from the right to restrict access to the vodka.

I took the ten minutes and watched that video. Some thoughts on that subject, it seems as though the price mechanism is a unique way to communicate information and gain co-operation between people. That every transaction utilizing the price mechanism will allow all parties to benefit. That hold true when you are dealing with groups of people, but what significance does the price mechanism have to an AI? Do we need to gain the AI’s co-operation to make a pencil? Does an AI have to benefit from every transaction it engages in with us? Does an AI not have the ability to literally know how to make a pencil from end to end with all the sub steps and related technology that goes into it? Thus the adage that “nobody in the world knows how to make a pencil” is no longer true.

The Kid Salami October 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I wasn’t trying to write a treatise on economics, i was making a comment in a blog to someone who i thought i could point in the right direction – if you think I missed some stuff out then I’m sure you’re correct. But if you think all that stuff you brought up is helpful to Mike, then I’m sure you are wrong.

Peter Surda September 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Just for the kicks, I tried to estimate the computational requirements for representing market relations. A static representation can be a five dimensional matrix, the dimensions being: inputs, outputs, people, time, location. Let’s assume 1000 inputs, 1000 outputs, 1 billion people, 1000 time units (with a daily granularity, that gives a time span of about 3 years), and 1000 locations. To store the state of the matrix (assuming 1 byte for the cell, giving a value of an integer between 0 and 255), requires one zettabyte. That is about the storage size available on all computers on the Earth together at this moment. Moreover, you would need to recalculate the matrix each day. In order to calculate the relative preference of a two-step manufacturing process, you would need to make about 5*10^41 comparisons (good luck with that). Any change in the number of elements of course would wreak havoc. You wouldn’t be able to make projects that last longer than 3 years too.

So, in order to provide a solution for a tiny subset of the calculation problem for a world that is simpler than that which existed in 1850, you would need all the computers we have now. While, of course, we have a far superiour method: market and the price system. I don’t get it, where’s the alleged advantage of the former approach?

Jay Lakner September 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

The funny thing is that they haven’t even solved the game of chess yet.
The number of combinations of possible outcomes in the market is so incredibly vast that, compared to it, calculating chess is like calculating the number of combinations from the toss of a coin.

There is even a more important point here. In chess we have full knowledge of the possibilities, while in the market we have only partial knowledge and, in fact, can never have full knowledge.
What they wish to try to calculate cannot possibly even be calculated.

Russ the Apostate September 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Even if they did have a computer that could calculate what people “need” well enough to give everyone the USRDA diet, a small house, etc., it would not take into account what individual people want, but only what some planner in an ivory tower somewhere thinks that people should want, or should be satisfied with. And since all resources would be marshalled towards the goals of the central planner, no use of resources for individual’s desires would or could be tolerated unless we were in a condition of superabundance (in which case, the whole system would not be necessary). It would be “Brave New World”.

The Kid Salami September 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm

“While, of course, we have a far superiour method: market and the price system”

I agree – this is certainly the way to proceed.

Funny though how you rule out the possibility of allowing the participants in a free market to evolve a process to resolve disputes over whether or not items such as engineering drawings have been “copied” or not (maybe it would in fact rule that this is impossible, maybe it woudn’t).

It seems from your point of view, this is not the issue, the market is just not allowed to do this because you deem that drawings are not “property”. Apparently in this case, only a first principles logical analysis will do – defining when something was “copied” or not (in this system that you agree is inconceivably complex) must follow from a single or minimal set of axioms that can be discussed to death on blogs. And if this isn’t possible, then you can just rule in advance that you know better than the market and that copyrighting does not and cannot exist. But, as you say above, in all other cases (inlcuding when there has been a violation of tangible property rights or not) you seem to want to allow the market to decide (by evolving processes over time) based on the individual circumstances.

This doesn’t really make any sense to me.

Russ the Apostate September 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

One response to this would be that a free market requires the concept of property for it to exist. So, it would have to have a well-defined conception of what exactly constitutes property, and therefore property rights. This is pretty much my criticism of anarcho-libertarianism.

The Kid Salami September 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

But property rights are not cast iron, far far from it. There are grey areas that are worked out by the market. I quote the words of mr kinsella

http://blog.mises.org/4201/spyware-and-trespass/#comment-25194

“Consider the analogous case of a homeowner in a neighborhood. He has a front lawn connected by a common sidewalk to other homes on the street. He has a sidewalk leading up to his front door. He has no huge fence or barricade around his property. Now, if a neighbor wants to walk up to his door–on his sidewalk, his property–knock on the door and ask to borrow an egg, is this trespass? No, because in normal cases the context indicates the homeowner would not object to such innocuous, normal uses of his property by others. There is said to be an implied license–an implied grant of permission.

Does this mean that any use at all by outsiders is permitted? No, of course not. If a miscreant marches up to his door and spraypaints graffiti on it, this is trespass/vandalism.

There are many examples. A neighbor’s kid whose baseball strays into another’s yard, is it trespass for the kid to step onto the lawn to retrieve his ball? No. We presume the lawn owner would consent to such a trivial, innocuous use (unless he broadcasts some other intent contrary to the default presumption). But if a bunch of gypsies camp out on his front lawn in a little tent, or some high schoolers have a bonfire party on his front lawn, this is trespass since it is a use of another’s property without his consent.”

In deciding whether a third party has violating your property rights or not, there is clearly a continuum and the market arbitration process will, for each case, decide where the threshold lies.

Likewise, regardless of anything else, if i sell a book identical to harry potter than we can say with 100% certainty that i “copied” it. Maybe the market won’t care, fine. But maybe it will – maybe it will deem this clear case of the “theft” of…. something. That there is a massive grey area is not in dispute.Who is anyone to overrule the market in this case?

Jay Lakner September 5, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Like I said below, this case comes under contract law.

If the party knew the copy was done so via a breach of contract, and was aware that the copy in his possession would not exist without this prior breach, then you could make the case that they should not be allowed to make copies.

There is a difference between a contract violation and a property violation.

The Kid Salami September 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

So if I am given engineering drawings as a gift, without any conditions attached, simply given the drawings and told that i can go nuts with them, I can’t actually do as i please – i have to do due diligence to make sure they weren’t obtained via a contract breach, is this what you are saying?

Jay Lakner September 6, 2010 at 12:03 am

The answer is exactly same as if you were given a tangible object as a gift. If there are strong reasons suggesting that the object was acquired due to a crime, then due diligence applies.

In the case of engineering drawings, if you have no knowledge of any prior contracts in relation to those drawings, and you have little reason to suspect foul play, then sure go nuts with them.
However, if you are fully aware of the contract surrounding those drawings and you have reasons to suspect that they are only in your possession as a result of an earlier contract breach, then due diligence applies.

This is why I say that contractual IP has a strong case for it. It can, to a certain extent, apply to third parties.

I have to do a lot more thinking and researching on contract law before I can give you a more definite answer than this. (I’m way too busy at the moment to do this. I’ve hardly the time to even keep up with all the Mises articles.)

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 5:13 am

“The answer is exactly same as if you were given a tangible object as a gift.”

So now you’re telling me that I – who never agreed to any contract or restraint on my bahaviour – receive a photocopy of a drawing – a copy on paper and using ink that was wholly owned by the gifter – and yet I can’t do as I please with it, because it contains a drawing (or “pattern” of ink, if you like) that was originally contained on paper that was passed on as part of a contractual arrangement. This is your position is it not?

Ok. But it is not at all clear to me, to say the least, how this is consistent with your statement “Ownership of a pattern or idea is an absurdity”.

Jay Lakner September 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Salami boy,

Do you know the difference between contract law and property rights?

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 3:38 am

Please enlighten me if I’m missing something.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 5:50 am

And I’ll elaborate on what I said so you can be clear when you correct me.I don’t have any contract with anyone about any drawings. A friend of mine receives some drawings and part of the contract of sale is that he does not make copies of these drawings or pass them to anyone else.

My friend does make a copy of the drawings using his photocopier and his paper and his ink and his time. He breaks the terms of the contract. He gives me the photocopy of the drawing and says “go nuts”.

My friend can clearly be sued for breach of contract, according to the terms, for damages.

You are saying that when I receive this gift, I can’t do as I please with it, I have to do due dilignence.I am asking what vocabulary we use to describe this limitation on my behaviour. That my friend made a contract about some OTHER piece of paper (the one containing the original drawing) is none of my concern – I received his property entirely. How do we describe this problem and what principles do I use when i receive a gift to determine the amount of due diligence to do.

Because my problem is that the thing being transferred is a “pattern” of ink – and you say you can’t “own” these patterns, and that suggesting so is “absurd”. Ok, fair enough. What vocab should we use then to determine when I have to do due diligence and how much is reasonable?

Jay Lakner September 7, 2010 at 7:07 am

Let’s look at all the factors of this case:
You have full knowledge of your friend’s contract.
You know that the plans you have received exist due to the breach of that contract.
You know that there is no other possible way you could have legitimately got possession of a copy of those plans.

If you now copy the copy, an act you would not have been able to perform absent the above factors, then a case could be made that you are an accessory to your friend’s breach of contract.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying that this is definitely correct. Like I said, I need to learn more about contracts and how they function. I’m only pointing out a possible scenario in which preventing third party copying could be logically justified. Afterall, when a crime is committed we should try to re-establish the situation prior to the crime (if it’s possible).

This has nothing to do with “ownership” of patterns or ideas. It’s about ascertaining what the correct course of events should be after a contract violation has occurred.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

Ok, makes sense. Now remove “You have full knowledge of your friend’s contract.” proviso.

I am given the gift without any such knowledge – he tells me he drew them himself. Am i under any obligation to do due diligence?

If he is a butcher, maybe? If he is an engineer who does this for a living, am i then? What is it about the “pattern of ink” on the copy that determines whether i should do due diligence or not?

I’ll agree that “This has nothing to do with “ownership” of patterns or ideas.” – this is the question under debate. i will not agree though that this has nothing to do with “patterns” – it has everything to do with the pattern of ink.

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 8:08 am

What is a pattern? Pattern is an attribute of physical objects.

i will not agree though that this has nothing to do with “patterns” – it has everything to do with the pattern of ink.

Rather than it having to do with patterns, it has to do with causality.

Jay Lakner September 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Like I said, every situation is different. Each will be resolved on a case by case basis.
If a friend gives me a t-shirt as a gift, I have no way of knowing whether he acquired it legally or illegally. Should I suspect foul play?
I would have to look at several factors (the attributes of the specific t-shirt, my friend’s past, my relationship to my friend, his reasons for giving me the gift, etc) and then decide on what to do next.
If it’s my birthday, and my friend has been a honest person his entire life, and my friend makes t-shirts as a hobby, then it’s a no-brainer.
If there is nothing special about the day, my friend gives a suspicious reason for giving me the gift, he has a past of dishonesty and theft, and he’s unemployed without a cent to his name, then of course I should be suspicious.

Similar principles apply to the engineering drawing scenario. Except it’s a tiny bit more complicated.
The t-shirt scenario is a simple property rights case. Your friend stole the t-shirt and passed it on to you. You now need to return the t-shirt to its rightful owner.
The engineering drawings scenario is a contract case. In other words there was an indirect property rights violation. Your friend violated the terms of his contract, effectively meaning he “stole” whatever goods/services/money the other party gave him as stipulated by the terms of the contract.

Now this is where it gets tricky. What is the correct course of action for all parties? I see two possibilities:
A. The damage done by the contract breach can be undone if you simply destroy the copy of the plans in your possession. If you need compensation for the paper and ink you’ve destroyed, then your friend needs to supply that. I’m not entirely sure if this line of reasoning is actually valid, although it sounds logical.
B. The other course of action is to allow you to do whatever you want with the plans and your friend is left owing millions of dollars (or whatever the contract stipulates) to the other party to the contract.
In my opinion, the most logical course of action will depend on the financial situation of your friend. If he can afford to pay, then I prefer option B. If he cannot afford to pay, then A.

However, things get even trickier if we do not even know who the guilty party is. Let’s say you found the plans laying on the side of the road. You discover that they are part of a no-copying contract and that it is impossible for you to have gotten this copy without a previous breach of this contract. Are you allowed to copy them? The ‘victim’ has nobody to sue for compensation. Option B is not possible. That only leaves option A.
So it comes down to whether option A is permissible or not. (I don’t know)

This is why I am still extremely unsure on the contract case for IP. It does seem possible to me that you can prevent third parties from copying, under the right circumstances.

The Kid Salami September 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

Peter – maybe you’d like to elaborate on your “causality” comment and how it applies here? If it’s meant to be just obvious – if this single word is meant to clear up the whole problem – then i’m obviously too stupid to follow.

The Kid Salami September 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

“..It does seem possible to me that you can prevent third parties from copying, under the right circumstances.”

Ok. That’s all I’m saying. You seem to agree with me then: that it may be possible to work out a system whereby I can write a book and retain control over who gets to own physical instantiations of the words if I only sell it with clauses in the contract of sale that say the buyer cannot copy or redistribute; that there could well (not definitely, maybe) evolve, on the free market, a mechanism to ensure that a third party who comes across a copy of the manuscript in a field has some obligation to check out not only whose physical property the book might be (is there someone in the trees out of sight who left it there for a minute) but also who might have homesteaded the pattern of ink on its pages and retained a “copyright” over this pattern.

I’ve deliberately used one phrase so as to annoy you, but it nevertheless seems a fair summary of your position. So I don’t think we disagree. This is all I want.

Jay Lakner September 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Kid Salami wrote:
“but also who might have homesteaded the pattern of ink on its pages and retained a “copyright” over this pattern.”

No, no and no. You cannot homestead a pattern. It’s impossible. You would need to change the fundamental definition of “property” to do so. I have tried to explain this in our conversation below. You still do not understand my position. Please do not try to make counter-arguments if you do not understand the other person’s position. Simply ask for clarification until you do, and only then start arguing.

The Kid Salami September 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm

There are two possibilities here – either i’m too stupid to understand your arguments, or I do understand them and don’t think they make sense. Asserting to me that you think the former like you just did contains no information.

Whether you agree with that phrase or not, which like i said i used to annoy you, you can’t deny it is at least a reasonable first order approcimation to the scenario. you say I “cannot” say this? I’m inclined to agree, and it certainly depends on the definition of “homestead” and of “property”. But as defintions for these don’t really exist, your absolute certainty that they are wrong seems misplaced to me.

Your line of thought is to assume that “homestead” and “property” are useful as they are and to keep using them as they are and to look for new terms to describe the limitation on the third aprty we just agreed is possible.

Maybe. Another possibility is to abandon the use of “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as the starting points and come up with new terms to describe how we interact which are more abstract and better suit the world of “patterns of ink” on bits of paper as well as tangible stuff. You seem utterly unable to confront the fact that this is another possible avenue of thought and take “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as sacrosanct even though we don’t have general defintions for them and rely on the amrket to provide this. This makes no sense to me at all.

Peter Surda September 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Of course, it is possible to redefine everything and come up with an alternative route instead that which Jay, Stephan and me are taking. However, that still needs to be self-consistent. And you seem to be unaware that the specific approach you are taking is self-contradictory, you are combining assumptions that cannot be valid at the same time. You need to drop some of them.

Jay Lakner September 11, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The baby-goat hot-sausage wrote:
“You seem utterly unable to confront the fact that this is another possible avenue of thought and take “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as sacrosanct even though we don’t have general defintions for them and rely on the amrket to provide this.”

I gave you my definition of “property” somewhere below.
I’ll even repeat it for you again:
An entity is the property of an individual if that individual has the right to exclude other individuals from altering the integrity or momentum of it.

Now I have already said (twice) that it IS in fact possible to redefine “property” in a manner which makes “ownership” of the intangible non-absurd. However I tried to point out that this would make “ownership” of the tangible absurd.

How many times do I have to say the same thing?

Maybe it will help if I try and break it down for you.
Most people, when you ask them define property, say something like “the right to use an entity”.
Then they conclude that patterns can be property because you can simply decide who has the right to use a pattern and who does not.
The problem is that the definition is too vague and can have two different meanings depending on how you define “use”.
A. To “use” a tangible entity means “to alter the integrity or momentum of that entity”.
B. To “use” a pattern means “to arrange something into that pattern”.
So which is it? A or B?
You cannot apply definition A to patterns. It makes no sense. You can’t alter the integrity or momentum of a pattern. eg, You can’t alter the integrity or momentum of a circle.
You cannot apply definition B to tangible materials. It also makes no sense. To arrange something into tangible materials is a nonsensical statement. eg, You can’t arrange something into iron.

So if the market tries to simultaneously implement tangible property rights and intangible property rights it will encounter problems. They are two completely different types of rights, relying on two completely definitions of “property”, which necessarily overlap and cause contradictions.
This is much the same as the contradictions between “right to property” and “right to healthcare”. They are two completely different types of rights which contradict one another.

Such contradictory rights are a symptom of the state monopoly of the courts system. Remove the state, and the contradictions will evaporate.

The Kid Salami September 17, 2010 at 4:59 am

“An entity is the property of an individual if that individual has the right to exclude other individuals from altering the integrity or momentum of it.”

” To “use” a tangible entity means “to alter the integrity or momentum of that entity”.”

Sorry didn’t reply here, but frankly now you are just wasting my time. You are question begging in spectacular fashion by replacing the problem of “define property” with another (equally context specific) one of “define integrity”.

And what’s more, you are acting like this new phrasing should clear thigns up once and for all, all the while telling me how dimwitted I am in saying things like

“Maybe it will help if I try and break it down for you.”

Jay Lakner September 17, 2010 at 11:57 pm

The Kid Salami wrote:
“define integrity”

Integrity: spacial configuration of the components

Do I need to define these terms to? Or can you work out yourself that my definitions reduce to the fundamental components of existence? (Space, time, mass)

The Kid Salami September 29, 2010 at 9:14 am

Jay – no, you don’t need to define these terms too. You need to recognise that I regularly change the “integrity” of objects (according to your definition) WITHOUT it being considered a “property violation”.

The chair i’m sitting on now for example (“owned” by someone else) is different to before I sat down – no problem.

I take an axe to it – problem.

There is a continuum in between and a threshold from “property violation” to “ok”. You are just begging the question of where this threshold is – and this can only be answered in context, not in general.

Peter Surda September 29, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Kid,

I don’t get it. You said yourself the chair belongs to someone else. Whether you sit on it or chop it into pieces, it requires his approval.

What Jay meant was that on the microscopic level, all object affect each other (gravity, electomagnetism), simply by consisting of atoms and having a relative position and inertia with respect to other objects, even beyond our measuring capability, so there needs to be a cutoff point. Also, the example Stephan brought up (at least in my understanding), where you walk on your neighbour’s property in order to knock on his door, does not mean that such an action does not require the neighbour’s permission, rather that in the absence of explicit arrangement, commonly such action is interpreted as being agreed to by the neigbour.

So, I don’t really get your objection.

The Kid Salami October 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Ok, now we exchange the problem for yet another one – when “approval” has been granted and when not. This is not very productive.

Have you ever sat down with your employer before starting and gone into great detail as to exactly what you are and are not allowed to do with your chair? No, of course not. Sure, you COULD do this. But no’one bothers because it would cost way too much. Usually, people sit on chairs and there is no problem. But if i lean back on mine and snap the leg, i might have an argument about whether i just went over the line or not. If the chairs are antique and cost thousands of pounds then maybe you’;ll go to the trouble, but normally no.

Similarly, every rental contract in the western world contains the phrase “fair wear and tear” – although no’one can define what this means exactly, it is context specific. In general people are happy to defer the definition of this to if and when a problem arises (without bothering to thrash out a definition in advance) again for utilitarian reasons – it will cost too much.

In fact, read Kinsella’s words from above

“Now, if a neighbor wants to walk up to his door–on his sidewalk, his property–knock on the door and ask to borrow an egg, is this trespass? No, because in normal cases the context indicates the homeowner would not object to such innocuous, normal uses of his property by others. There is said to be an implied license–an implied grant of permission.”

One tiny detail – one deemed to unlikely to bother with in any a priori formal laws – could change the decision here. the context is very important in determining whether the “integrity” of life and property has been maintained – determining whether ana ction was a property violation is a largely but not only about examining the before and after physical state.

You think though that people should define exactly waht can be done with the chair in advance so as to make the system as logically complete as possible, yes? People having different definitions of wear and tear and just going ahead with the contract knowing this because they bet that it won’t be an issue, you think this is wrong somehow do you?

I say that people don’t in general put the logical condition of the rules they are working to that high up their list and are happy to take a chance – you seem to deny this in some way that I don’t yet fully understand.

Peter Surda October 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Kid,

the context is relevant in order to determine whether implicit permission to use property in a certain way is present. It is irrelevant with regards whether the owner has the right to restrict in what ways people use his property.

The questions about property scope and the presence of permission are separate and need to be addressed separately. First you ask: does the owner have the right to prevent others from using his property in a specific way? Only once the answer is affirmative, you ask: is the owner’s permission in this case present or not? That’s why your arguments are, well, kind of useless.

Jay Lakner October 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

The Kid Salami wrote:

There is a continuum in between and a threshold from “property violation” to “ok”. You are just begging the question of where this threshold is – and this can only be answered in context, not in general.

Oh my god.

After breaking it down, you still have no idea what I am saying.

We have discussed the “threshold” issue elsewhere before. And we were in complete agreement at the time. Can you not understand that this has NOTHING to do with the arbitrary line between “small enough” and “too large” a property violation???

Please, reread the following very slowly:
“Most people, when you ask them define property, say something like “the right to use an entity”.
Then they conclude that patterns can be property because you can simply decide who has the right to use a pattern and who does not.
The problem is that the definition is too vague and can have two different meanings depending on how you define “use”.
A. To “use” a tangible entity means “to alter the integrity or momentum of that entity”.
B. To “use” a pattern means “to arrange something into that pattern”.
So which is it? A or B?
You cannot apply definition A to patterns. It makes no sense. You can’t alter the integrity or momentum of a pattern. eg, You can’t alter the integrity or momentum of a circle.
You cannot apply definition B to tangible materials. It also makes no sense. To arrange something into tangible materials is a nonsensical statement. eg, You can’t arrange something into iron.”

The point is that there is no individual specific definition of “property” which makes sense when applied to both the tangible and intangible.

If you agree with my definition of property, that “an entity is the property of an individual if that individual has the right to exclude other individuals from altering the integrity or momentum of it”, then ownership of a pattern does nothing more that give you the right to prevent other people from doing things they can’t possibly do.
Person A owns pattern X. Therefore person B is not allowed to physically alter pattern X. But person B can’t ever possibly alter pattern X, no matter what he does. It is therefore completely nonsensical and pointless to assign person A ownership of pattern X. It achieves nothing.

If you believe in the definition of property for IP, “that an entity is the property of an individual if that individual has the right to exclude other individuals from arranging tangible objects into it”, then ownership of anything tangible becomes a completely nonsensical notion.
Person A owns nickel. Therefore person B is not allowed to arrange tangible objects into nickel. But since “nickel” is not a pattern, there is actually no restriction on person B at all. Person B, no matter what action he performs, can never violate person A’s property right in “nickel”. Property rights in tangible things becomes both nonsensical and pointless.

I’ll say it again:
There is no individual specific definition of “property” which makes sense when applied to both the tangible and intangible.

The Kid Salami October 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm

It’s not that simple.

“Now, if a neighbor wants to walk up to his door–on his sidewalk, his property–knock on the door and ask to borrow an egg, is this trespass? No, because in normal cases the context indicates the homeowner would not object to such innocuous, normal uses of his property by others. There is said to be an implied license–an implied grant of permission.”

Yes of course, you have the “right” to bar people form your land. But as above, asking me – your new neighbour – for an egg is not going to get you arrested for trespass. Maybe I never want anyone to go on my property ever for any reason – but if i don’t put up a sign saying so, then my case will likely be ignored.

A sign “stay off my property, even if you’re a neighbour asking for an egg” is clear. What else will do? A sign saying “no trespassing” – hmm? A gate? One with a latch? One with a lock? it’s not the cut and dried scenario you make it out to be. There are context specific details without which a judgement is impossible.

The Kid Salami October 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm

“There is no individual specific definition of “property” which makes sense when applied to both the tangible and intangible.”

Jay, please calm down and read what i’m saying. I am not discussing “intangible” property when i say that, I am referring only and solely to “tangible” property. Please go back and read what I said – you are, for about the 100th time, trying to argue against a position I do not hold.

Peter Surda October 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Kid, once again, you are mixing two things. I am almost completely uninterested in the latter issue, the one of interpreting people’s actions as presence/absence of the permission. Furthermore, do you agree or not that if a person does not have a property right to a certain object, the question of whether his permission to use it is present or not is completely irrelevant for economic analysis?

Peter Surda October 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Furthermore (I can’t edit), do you agree or not that the context does not change the definition of property?

The Kid Salami October 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm

“Furthermore, do you agree or not that if a person does not have a property right to a certain object, the question of whether his permission to use it is present or not is completely irrelevant for economic analysis?”

What do you mean by “is present or not”?

“Furthermore (I can’t edit), do you agree or not that the context does not change the definition of property?”

“the” definition of property? If you have this definitive defintion, please point it out to me.

Jay Lakner October 1, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Kid Salami,

I explain that you cannot homestead a pattern.
You disagree with me.
I explain why.
You disagree with me.
I explain that your disagreements do not apply to the argument I am making.
Then you tell me I am arguing against a position you do not hold???

WTF???

I am defending a position you have demonstrated repeated disagreement with.

You make this big song and dance about me being wrong for XYZ reasons. I explain to you that XYZ do not apply to my arguments. Then you try to explain to me that we are discussing XYZ, not the fucking thing that you originally disagreed with.

What the hell is wrong with you?

The Kid Salami October 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm

“I explain that you cannot homestead a pattern.”

Is this what this is all about? I specifically said at the time that I was using the phrase “homestead a pattern” to annoy you and said about it in the very next post

“Whether you agree with that phrase or not, which like i said i used to annoy you, you can’t deny it is at least a reasonable first order approcimation to the scenario. you say I “cannot” say this? I’m inclined to agree, and it certainly depends on the definition of “homestead” and of “property”.”

I said “I’m inclined to agree”. I told you i agree with you – that while it is a decent first order approximatino (maybe we can disagree on that) I agree that you can’t say “homestead a pattern”. i’ll say it again if you like. You’re the one who wants to cut out the drama and read what people are saying.

Jay Lakner October 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Kid Salami, after saying all that, you immediately hit me with this:

Another possibility is to abandon the use of “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as the starting points and come up with new terms to describe how we interact which are more abstract and better suit the world of “patterns of ink” on bits of paper as well as tangible stuff. You seem utterly unable to confront the fact that this is another possible avenue of thought and take “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as sacrosanct even though we don’t have general defintions for them and rely on the amrket to provide this. This makes no sense to me at all.

It is impossible to to do what you are suggesting here if it’s impossible for an individual definition of property to simultaneous apply to both the tangible and intangible.

When you (kind of) agree with me, and then immediately argue something in direct contradiction to what you agreed with, what am I supposed to think?

Peter Surda October 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

What do you mean by “is present or not”?

Kid, you must be kidding me.

1) Surely you must recognise that whether person A agrees to the use of object B by C in a specific way or not are two alternatives. Surely you must recognise, as you referred to it earlier, that sometimes it is difficult to ascertain which one is correct, for example due to lack of knowledge or misinterpretation of actions.

2) And surely you must recognise that unless person A is either the owner of object B, or being authorised by the owner of the object B, the resolution of 1) is irrelevant from economic point of view? In other words, whether he agrees or not, C can ignore him.

3) And surely you must recognise that whether A agrees with the use of B by C or not has not effect on whether he is owner of B or not?

Yet, you continue to conflate the issues.

“the” definition of property? If you have this definitive defintion, please point it out to me.

In that case let’s make it “a” and not “the”. Kindly refer to to point 3) from above.

Let’s now apply it back to the examples you provided. You sitting on a chair, chopping it to pieces, walking on your neighbour’s sidewalk are all issues that refer to point 1): it is uncertain or ambiguous if the chair/houses’s owner’s permission is present or not. However, these issues do no refer to 2 and 3. The examples do not mean that they do not own the chair or the house, and they do not mean that they need to tolerate such usage against their wishes. It’s a question of communication and interpretation of intentions, rather than of property boundaries. Property boundaries are unaffected by them.

Are we clear now?

The Kid Salami October 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm

jay – you’re trying to wrangle out of the fact that you didn’t read what i said properly and have been, once again, trying to dissuade me from a view I don’t hold for about 10 posts.

If you read me saying

“Another possibility is to abandon the use of “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” and…. come up with new terms to describe how we interact which are more abstract and better suit the world of “patterns of ink” on bits of paper as well as tangible stuff.”

and then say that this implies that we must come up with a

“definition of property to simultaneous apply to both the tangible and intangible.”

then we’re wasting each others time, as you seem incapable of understanding my simplest English.

The Kid Salami October 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Peter – no I’m not kidding.

“The examples do not mean that they do not own the chair or the house, and they do not mean that they need to tolerate such usage against their wishes. It’s a question of communication and interpretation of intentions, rather than of property boundaries. Property boundaries are unaffected by them.”

This is what i don’t accept.

You say earlier on: “The questions about property scope and the presence of permission are separate and need to be addressed separately. First you ask: does the owner have the right to prevent others from using his property in a specific way? Only once the answer is affirmative, you ask: is the owner’s permission in this case present or not?”

How do we answer the question “does the owner have the right to prevent others from using his property in a specific way”? You basically define “owning” object A as “having the right to stop people from doing stuff to it that alters its integrity”, right? I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, this is a guess as to what you mean.

And we agree that you have the right to stop me sitting on or chopping up the chair or whatever if you “own” the chair.

But what if I say: “you can’t play your trumpet in your house because I’ve been growing turnips in my garden for years – way before you came along – and this year they didn’t grow because of your trumpet playing”

The question is: “do have the right to prevent [you from using your] property [the trumpet] in a specific way”?

This question cannot be answered in the simple way you suggest – it is not just about simple boundaries but is more complicated. Probably this is total nonsense. But maybe the sound waves actually do something to the nutrients in the soil. The point is, deciding who can do what with the trumpet and the garden here is a research project, not something that is just obvious form the “boundaries”.

Peter Surda October 4, 2010 at 8:42 am

Kid,

This is what i don’t accept.

Apparently because you again have problem with reversing implications. You incorrectly imply that if person C can use object B in a specific way without a clear permission of person A, it means A does not own B. That’s a logical error. In some cases, the conclusion can be correct, but it could also mean that A owns B, but:
- gave permission but you misinterpret his actions as a denial, or
- did not give permission, but C misinterprets his actions as permission, or
- did not give permission, but you misinterpret his actions as permission.

You don’t seem to realise that the distinction I explained is independent of how you define property. If you change it, you merely shift a specific case between type 1) and type 2) (from previous post). It still does not mean that you can derive the definition of property from observing people involved in a specific situation. Merely because the presence of permission is not evident to you, it does not follow that property rights are not involved.

Really, this is elementary logic that actually has nothing to do with property at all, yet we have been stuck on it for ages.

The question is: “do have the right to prevent [you from using your] property [the trumpet] in a specific way”?

It depends on how you define property. Once you provide the definition, you can assess whether it provides any basis for the conclusion that such an action would result in violating other people’s property. Only once that is done, the question of the guys disagreement becomes relevant. In other words, before we we take into account that the farmer is unhappy and wants the musician to stop, we must ascertain whether any property was violated. The farmer being unhappy is not a very good indicator for violation of property, he could merely suffer from “correlation equals causality” fallacy. Plans not working out does not need to have anything with property rights violations at all.

We could argue that if the farmer has a right to his soil being undamaged, he can hire an expert to survey it, and if it turns out the sound waves were damaging it, it then follows that a property rights violation was present. Then he can proceed according to the legal system framework, e.g. send the musician a cease&decist and request compensation for survey costs, crop damage, maybe even lost profits, and so on, from him.

Really, what’s the big problem? The definition of property is completely irrelevant to your examples.

Jay Lakner October 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Kid Salami,

You have completely failed to understand the point I made.

No amount of changing definitions is going to help resolve things that are logically incompatible. I have shown that there can never be a way to “own” both intangible and tangible entities. It doesn’t matter how you reword things, change definitions, etc, etc, two things that are mutually exclusive cannot exist at the same time.
But since you reject logic, you are probably incapable of understanding this.

The Kid Salami October 6, 2010 at 6:52 am

Peter
I think your reasoning is circular. I’ll leave aside (for now) the fact that you say in answer to my key question “It depends on how you define property.” and then end your post with “The definition of property is completely irrelevant to your examples.” and instead ask you one more thing. I said to you previously, on another thread:

“If I step onto your land and promise: only to step on stainless steel (thereby not altering the land in any measureable way); to never to be in your line of sight; not to move anything; nor ever get in in your physical way, then the only change to your life from before is also in your “mind”. On what basis then do you prevent me from stepping onto your land?do you agree that you can prevent me from stepping on your land or not?”

And you said:

“Physical goods do not exist in 2D world. Objects do not cover area, they covers space and time. Two objects cannot occupy the same space&time simultaneously. By going into a position for a specific time period, you prevent other objects from being able to occupy that position during the same period …. This is merely a matter of determining the scope of actions that happened in the past, not whether space can be owned or not. Block deals with this to a certain extent, e.g. in Privatization of Roads and Highways. If you want to homestead higher, raise a high stick on your premises.”

So, you want to “own” something, you have to “homestead” it. OK – and we use “actions that happened in the past” to do this. You say above:

“You …. imply that if person C can use object B in a specific way without a clear permission of person A, it means A does not own B. That’s a logical error. In some cases, the conclusion can be correct, but it could also mean that A owns B, but:
- gave permission but you misinterpret his actions as a denial, or
- did not give permission, but C misinterprets his actions as permission, or
- did not give permission, but you misinterpret his actions as permission.”

But you are missing something here – rather than me describe what you are missing, let me put another scenario to you first.

There is an apple tree. Guy A has a garden which he tends 5m away. He uses a long branch of the apple tree to hang his washing line (the branch lies above his land) but otherwise has no involvement with the tree, the apples or the land under immediately around it. He never enters the space under the tree or inside the confines of it’s brances, he only ever enters the boundary of the tree a few inches to tie his rope.

Another guy B makes his garden on the land which includes the tree and feeds off the apples and grows other stuff on the land around it. He did not impede on A’s use of the tree and A certainly had not done anything to “homestead” the apples it produces or the land around it.

So Guy A has “homesteaded” the right for a washing line from the tree. Guy B has “homesteaded” the right to eat apples from the tree and lean on the trunk etc..
First, do you agree there have been no property rights violations?

Second, who “owns” this tree? I suggest that it is meaningless to talk of who “owns” this tree – that using the words “property” and “own” are simply approximations which work well in 99.9% of cases. But not always – sometimes as you say it is a “matter of determining the scope of actions that happened in the past”. But what do you say, who “owns” this tree? Whose “property” is it?

Peter Surda October 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

Kid,

I think your reasoning is circular.

And I think that you are missing something obvious.

I’ll leave aside (for now) the fact that you say in answer to my key question “It depends on how you define property.” and then end your post with “The definition of property is completely irrelevant to your examples.”

Your perseverance in mixing two separate layers seems to have affected me too. What this means is that the exact definition of property does not influence whether it is possible to determine the scope of property and possible to determine whether trespass occurred, only what the scope is and whether trespass occurs. It only influences the content of the answer, not whether the answer exists. You are like a physicist that blames the difficulties he is having with measurement on math.

So Guy A has “homesteaded” the right for a washing line from the tree. Guy B has “homesteaded” the right to eat apples from the tree and lean on the trunk …

This assumes you can homestead actions (hanging stuff on a tree, eating apples from a tree).

Second, who “owns” this tree?

This assumes you can homestead physical objects. Those two assumptions contradict each other, so the question makes no sense.

First, do you agree there have been no property rights violations?

This depends on how you define property. Based on that, you can determine who homesteaded what, and whether some of the actions constituted trespass. If you cannot determine the scope of homesteading even if all the facts are known to you, it means your definition is either imprecise or self-contradictory.

The Kid Salami October 7, 2010 at 5:11 am

OK then I am confused as to your position. It seems circular to me – lets go back to the start.

Either
- the definition of homestead stands on its own (ie. without a definition of property)
- or the definition of property stands on its own (ie. without a definition of homestead)
- or another option (which is what I think) is that they can’t be defined without each other (that they have to be defined together, that really they are “the same thing”).

Which do we start from?

Peter Surda October 7, 2010 at 7:54 am

Kid,

homesteading and property refer to the same principle, but homesteading is an action, and property is an outcome of that action. You can obtain ownership in two ways: homesteading the unowned, or trading for the owned. So far, there is no need to define anything else.

The Kid Salami October 7, 2010 at 8:17 am

Your response isn’t 100% clear to me. You’ve now added “ownership” to the mix which I presume come from property, as per earlier

“does the owner have the right to prevent others from using his property in a specific way”?

So this identity holds?

(I “own” object X) == (object X is my “property”, and I can exclude others from using my “property” in a specific way)

Yes? Ok – you say

“You can obtain ownership” via “homesteading the unowned, or trading for the owned”

So, you seem to be putting ownership/property first. That is, we get a definition for ownership/property and then we can decide whether a specific action “homesteaded” some piece of property or not. So, you take my option 1 “the definition of property stands on its own (ie. without a definition of homestead)” right?

Ok, is this what you think? If not, why? Else what is this defintion of property that doesn’t use homestead?

Peter Surda October 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

You’ve now added “ownership” to the mix which I presume come from property.

These are just peculiarities and deficiencies of language. It all refers to the same concept:

Homesteading -> action
Property -> outcome of action
Ownership -> status of the actor with respect to property

I don’t understand what your problem is.

(I “own” object X) == (object X is my “property”, and I can exclude others from using my “property” in a specific way)

The last part is too vague. You are already mixing additional assumptions into the formulation. The meaning of the phrases “exclude” and “using property in a specific way” depend on the definition of property.
Let’s rephrase it into a proper scientific definition:

(I “own” object X) == (object X is my “property” and actions of other people can be either legitimate or illegitimate with regards to object X)

That is, we get a definition for ownership/property and then we can decide whether a specific action “homesteaded” some piece of property or not.

As I tried to explain, “property” and “homesteading” are different aspects of the concept. They need to be defined and considered together.

So, you take my option 1 “the definition of property stands on its own (ie. without a definition of homestead)” right?

No, they need to be defined together, or at least derived together from another definition.

Else what is this defintion of property that doesn’t use homestead?

Indeed, such a thing is an oxymoron. However, they concentrate on different aspects, so if you define one first without considering the other, you might end up with something that makes no sense.

The Kid Salami October 8, 2010 at 6:53 am

No, my last post wasn’t what i think. I think most of it is nonsense. I’m trying to find out what you think.

“Homesteading -> action
Property -> outcome of action
Ownership -> status of the actor with respect to property”

Ok.

“Let’s rephrase it into a proper scientific definition:

(I “own” object X) == (object X is my “property” and actions of other people can be either legitimate or illegitimate with regards to object X)”

OK, much better.

“As I tried to explain, “property” and “homesteading” are different aspects of the concept. They need to be defined and considered together…No, they need to be defined together, or at least derived together from another definition.”

So, in other words you agree with my scenario 3 that is also my view. Why didn’t you say that in your answer? That’s all I wanted.

“Indeed, such a thing is an oxymoron.”

Exactly, that’s why I said my view was scenario 3 – all you had to say was “I agree with you – they have to be defined together”. Your answer was instead pretty vague.

Right. So we agree on this – “they have to be defined together”.

Earlier I said, to Jay

“Maybe. Another possibility is to abandon the use of “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as the starting points and come up with new terms to describe how we interact which are more abstract and better suit the world of “patterns of ink” on bits of paper as well as tangible stuff. You seem utterly unable to confront the fact that this is another possible avenue of thought and take “homestead” and “property” and “property rights violation” as sacrosanct even though we don’t have general defintions for them and rely on the amrket to provide this. This makes no sense to me at all.”

And you replied
Peter Surda September 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm
“Of course, it is possible to redefine everything and come up with an alternative route instead that which Jay, Stephan and me are taking. ”

Ok. But note: this means that we should be able to discuss this issue without using the words “property”, “own” or “homestead” – that is, using the set of words who have definitions we agree on and which are also used to define those three words (and probably others assocaited with them).

That’s what I want to do – discuss the problem using those words. No’one wants to do this though. I have my own reasons why.

Peter Surda October 8, 2010 at 7:48 am

Kid,

to say that homesteading and property are the same thing is not necessarily wrong, but it’s inaccurate. They are a different aspect of the same. Just like a book (as in paper+ink+glue) and the content of the book (as in the storyline) are a different way if interpreting the same thing.

Now, I think I see what you want to say. You want to say that if one abandons the “holy trinity” (property, ownership, homesteading), one might be able to come up with a definition of “something” that includes IP. Which, on its own, is fine. However, it would not fix the core issue, which is overlapping boundaries.

Let’s make the assumption that the reason for our inquiry is to find conditions for a legal framework. Or, in another words, the purpose of the definition of “something” is that it allows to determine which actions are legitimate and which are not. Do you agree so far?

Well then, if the definition does not allow to conclude whether a given collection of facts represents a legitimate action or not, it did not fulfill its purpose and our attempts have been in vain.

As Jay and I have been trying to explain, some of the conditions that are presented by IP proponents contradict each other, which makes a conclusion about legitimacy of actions impossible. Normally, if such a conundrum happens during a debate, it is not a problem per se, you can go back and reformulate the conditions so that they do not contradict each other anymore. But IP proponents do not want to do that, they want to remain in the contradiction. And that’s the problem.

The Kid Salami October 8, 2010 at 9:29 am

I said specifically put the phrase “the same thing” in quotes to signify that this really is vague and requires a definition or explanation – I just mean what you say, the are intertwined.

“Now, I think I see what you want to say. You want to say that if one abandons the “holy trinity” (property, ownership, homesteading), one might be able to come up with a definition of “something” that includes IP. Which, on its own, is fine. However, it would not fix the core issue, which is overlapping boundaries.”

Almost, but not really. I’m not “pro IP” – like I said already to Jay, and he agreed,

“Ok. That’s all I’m saying. You seem to agree with me then: that it may be possible to work out a system whereby I can write a book and retain control over who gets to own physical instantiations of the words if I only sell it with clauses in the contract of sale that say the buyer cannot copy or redistribute; that there could well (not definitely, maybe) evolve, on the free market, a mechanism to ensure that a third party who comes across a copy of the manuscript in a field has some obligation to check out not only whose physical property the book might be (is there someone in the trees out of sight who left it there for a minute) but also who might have homesteaded the pattern of ink on its pages and retained a “copyright” over this pattern.”

I deliberately used the phrase “homesteaded the pattern of ink” to highlight that we need some other words to descrive this process (if indeed it would happen, I think so but maybe not) (ok, and did want to to wind him up a bit – he went mental after this).

“Let’s make the assumption that the reason for our inquiry is to find conditions for a legal framework. Or, in another words, the purpose of the definition of “something” is that it allows to determine which actions are legitimate and which are not. Do you agree so far?”

Yes.

“Well then, if the definition does not allow to conclude whether a given collection of facts represents a legitimate action or not, it did not fulfill its purpose and our attempts have been in vain.”

Agreed. I don’t know how to best describe the scenario I’m interested in right now but yes it would have to be sufficient to determine legitimate acts.

“As Jay and I have been trying to explain, some of the conditions that are presented by IP proponents contradict each other”

I’m not an IP proponent and don’t agree with most of the arguments of said people. Jay seemed particularly put out by the fact that I don’t think you can “own” a pattern – he kept telling me this even though I agree and told him so several times.

The Kid Salami October 8, 2010 at 9:41 am

And so now you can see my problem with what you were saying earlier.

“The questions about property scope and the presence of permission are separate and need to be addressed separately. First you ask: does the owner have the right to prevent others from using his property in a specific way?”

So now we can see clearly why I said what you said is circular. Some guy A wants to perform some action which is connected with property X – he wants to “homestead” X or some “aspect” of X. Can A do this? B thinks he “owns” X and wants to stop him. A is performing an action, and we need to know whether A’s act is a legitimate act of homesteading or not. It’s not possible for you to say “first we determine who OWNS what, then we determine who can DO what.” Because the DO might well be some legitimate act of homesteading – and homesteading, we just agreed, can only be defined in conjunction with property, that is with who OWNS what.

We can’t decide the “property” and “owning” first and then later decide “homesteading” – they are one and the same thing, A may well be doing what he thinks is a legitimate act of homesteading. The exact actions which do homestead something depend on the context – the “homesteading guidelines” are bound to be incomplete and when something new arises, it might NOT be clear that B has the right to prevent A from doing something connected with X ie in short, it is sometimes not clear who owns X.

Peter Surda October 8, 2010 at 9:53 am

Well Kid,

that’s a lot of progress. I think I understand your point now, but I think both Jay and I already answered a long time ago, you just unnecessarily steered the discussion elsewhere because you did not understand the point.

On the first, most important level, the concepts of patterns and of physical objects cover the same scope, they refer to the same content, and are merely different interpretations of it. Do you understand and/or agree with this?

So if you create a theory that includes the condition that you can own physical matter, you cannot also have a condition that you can own patterns, since the whole scope of everything there is is already covered. You are merely reinterpreting the same content, you are not increasing the scope. You can only have one of those conditions at the cost of eliminating the other, or somehow shifting the extent around and weighing the conditions against each other.

The second problem (we’re not there yet, but I might mention it in advance to save time) is conflicts among patterns themselves. Unlike physical matter, patterns do not exclude each other, they overlap both horizontally and vertically. Just like you already now have conflicts between copyright and patents in software. So again, you cannot just say that patterns can be owned, you also have to specify how to “shift” the extent, determine pattern boundaries.

Peter Surda October 8, 2010 at 10:27 am

Looks like I should have read your post before I wrote mine :-).

Of course, it is possible to come up with a definition that includes a right as described in the examples you are using. However, this logically needs to come at the cost of eliminating other rights, otherwise you will end up with a contradiction. And this is the hard part, because you need to not only provide the exact scope that is shifted around, but you need to make sure that applying the new set of rules to everybody does not create overlaps or gaps either. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but even then there is no guarantee that you end up with something usable.

The beauty of using physical alteration as boundary definition is that it depends on purely natural phenomena rather than an interpretation of human action, and it is also naturally exclusive, thereby avoiding the issue of self-contradiction. It looks like for a full theory, you cannot avoid interpretation of human action completely (see Stephan Kinsella: Causation and Aggression, he has a link on his website but I’m too lazy to look for it), but I think there is still a lot to research here.

Peter Surda October 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Some guy A wants to perform some action which is connected with property X – he wants to “homestead” X or some “aspect” of X. … B thinks he “owns” X and wants to stop him.

Kid, again you are mixing two things. Maybe if I rephrase it it will become more apparent. B not wanting A to act in a specific way and B having the right to prevent A from acting in a specific way are separate issues. B’s opinion is irrelevant in the absence of the right (well, from legal perspective at least, we’ll leave the softer aspects of human interaction untouched). In general, it is also irrelevant if someone thinks that this conflict is related to X, it needs to follow from the right. As Jay eloquently said, everything is related to everything somehow.

An example: some IP proponents think that the conflict revolves around the the use of author’s “creation”. However, as I realised some time ago, if you eliminate the subjective factor of the author’s wishes, you notice that the conflict revolves around the use of the material present in the unauthorised copies (to paraphrase myself, the paper and ink cannot be in a state which satisfies both the author and the pirate simultaneously). Both of these “conflicts” are an interpretation of the same phenomenon, but arrive at a completely different conclusions. Of course, they cannot be both relevant from legal point of view at the same time, etc etc etc.

The Kid Salami October 13, 2010 at 11:32 am

I won’t deny I’ve done a bit of groping around here. But it’s not as clear to me as it appears to be to you that I’ve been bumping into things blindfolded while you view from above in a helicopter. You still say

“..you cannot also have a condition that you can own patterns..”

suggesting you don’t understand my point that processes/actions and ownership are not separable. This – “own patterns” – is not, for the 100th time, what I’m saying. I can’t say it any clearer – however, I’m going to have to think about exactly how to phrase what i mean, as I’m clearly not doing it here.

Peter Surda September 5, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I am actually one of very few IP opponents here that does not invoke the central planning argument as a decisive factor. I use a weaker subargument: it seems unlikely that such an arrangement would come up from a free market, because it is dubious whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and because immaterial goods do not have natural boundaries, so for this to work properly, they have to be determined centrally. Detection and enforcement is also much easier with centralisation. How do you force ISP to divulge information about their clients or take infringing data off the internet? How would you monitor phone calls?

The Kid Salami September 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Peter – it seems that you are saying that copyrighting cannot be implemented without a state ie. with a monpoly of force allowed to request information from ISPs and the like. Let’s say this is true, for the sake of argument.

So, your argument is that “in the never really existed and never really going to exist anarcho-capitalist world you can’t have copyright” – so say I agree. Whether or not the anarcho-capitalist world is going to arrive or not, or is in fact possible, is not relevant. Your argument is simply that copyright can’t exist without a state. fair enough.

But we don’t live in anarcho-capitalist world, and even after the shudder-inducing meltdown that is on the way, i suspect we won’t then either – and won’t at any point in our lifetimes. So, to me your argument is (and I’m not picking on you, you have plenty of company) is relevant for academic purposes but is entirely irrelevant to all those who do not think an anarcho-capitalist world is possible or will ever happen.

Peter Surda September 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I dealt with that in earlier comments to other posts. I assumed you read it. There are many ways of looking at the problem. For example, it is impossible to define copying. Copying is a mix of causality and similarity. However, from economic point of view, goods that have these features are called externalities and substitutes, not property. Also, in order to homestead or trespass, you need boundaries, and boundaries require modification. But immaterial goods cannot be modified. Also, in order to interact with immaterial goods, they need a medium. So immaterial goods cannot exist without the material ones, and assigning them property status just redistributes the material goods. There are many ways of looking at it.

The Kid Salami September 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Well now you appear to be giving me another different argument. First it is not possible because “it seems unlikely that such an arrangement would come up from a free market”. Then the state requirement arguemnt “for this to work properly, they have to be determined centrally” and finally it is not possible because “For example, it is impossible to define copying.”

Which one is it?

And as for the last one, when you can give me a set of rules that “define” property and property rights so that they can be applied, objectively and repeatably by many obervers, to the situations contained in that kinsella quote and any other ones that I can think of, then i will accept that as a valid argument. otherwise I think a precise defintion is not required, the market will see to this.

And, if you disagree with my assertion that if i print up a book tomorrow that contained the identical english words to harry potter then we can be 100% certain that i “copied” it, please tell me. i’m assumig you agree, grey areas notwithstanding.

Peter Surda September 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Which one is it?

These are different approaches that lead to the same result.

And, if you disagree with my assertion that if i print up a book tomorrow that contained the identical english words to harry potter then we can be 100% certain that i “copied” it, please tell me. i’m assumig you agree, grey areas notwithstanding.

Yes, I disagree, because you are using vague terms. What is copying? Can you define it in a way that distinguishes it from a combination of causality and similarity (or utility if you will, meaning both are equally suitable for a certain purpose)? My claim is that both conditions are insufficient, and that IP proponents have not explained what other conditions are necessary. What is the identity of an immaterial goods? Does it exist outside of people’s heads? What is a “word” and why should it be boundary? What’s with synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, different languages?

Russ the Apostate September 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Your last post is a perfect example of why such matters should be taken care of by courts of law, and not philosophers. I’d say that it’s pretty clear when there is a word for word copy of a Harry Potter novel, and none of your picking fly specks out of black pepper will ever change that.

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 2:18 am

You’re trying to create a false dichotomy, Russ. A more useful question is why law should be produced by a monopolist rather than privately?

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 5:26 am

Russ is right. And if you disagree that when I produce a manuscript identical to harry potter that we can definitively say that I “copied” in any sense, then we are wasting each other’s time. Normal tangible property rights certainly can’t withstand anything like this level of scrutiny (see the kinsella comments above – yet we all agree they work well) so why you think they are applicable to copyright issues is beyond me.

“why law should be produced by a monopolist rather than privately?”

I’ve been quite clear in my comments about whether I am talking about an entirely free market or a state with a monopoly of force – the arguments should be confined to one or others of these scenarios as mixing the two up is one of the main reasons these debates never resolve anything.

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 6:14 am

Your argument requires that immaterial goods have a natural identity. Absent that, it would be impossible to have “identical” copies. I argue that immaterial goods do not have natural identity, they only have “utilitarian identity”.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 6:44 am

“I argue that immaterial goods do not have natural identity, they only have “utilitarian identity”.”

And I argue that the market is not composed only of people who think like you and so when they decide whether this is a copy or not they may or may not use different criteria than you do to determine what is and isn’t legal.

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 7:15 am

Now we’re back at utilitarianism. Whether they agree with me or not, they would need to foot the bill for the implementation thereof and live with the consequences. People tend to get sober very quickly when they stare at the bill and when strangers walk uninvited around their houses.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 11:19 am

“Whether they agree with me or not, they would need to foot the bill for the implementation thereof and live with the consequences.”

Well, in a free market, this comment has no meaning – the market participants make exchanges and join up with dispute resolution organisations as they see fit and the results of this are the results. If they then collectively realise there is a “bill”, then they’ll do something different.

“…and when strangers walk uninvited around their houses.”

I don’t know where I’ve advocated physical trespass.

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 11:30 am

Well, in a free market, this comment has no meaning…

I don’t get it. You claim that IP can occur because people might decide so even though it is illogical. I said that it is true, but acting so that might increase their costs. Now you say it has no meaning. So what is your argument? That people might decide to act in a specific way although they do not understand it and it’s going to make them poorer? Sure, it can happen. And?

I don’t know where I’ve advocated physical trespass.

You didn’t say that, that’s true, but then you must have missed my argument that immaterial goods cannot exist without material ones. So, in order to determine an infringement, you need to observe the potential infringer (i.e. the premises he is located in). In order to prevent him on infringing, you need to trespass his physical property.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 3:41 am

“You claim that IP can occur because people might decide so even though it is illogical.”

“Illogical” – what! Where did I say this? I’ve made my position perfectly clear without saying anything of the kind.

“You didn’t say that, that’s true, but then you must have missed my argument that immaterial goods cannot exist without material ones. So, in order to determine an infringement, you need to observe the potential infringer (i.e. the premises he is located in). In order to prevent him on infringing, you need to trespass his physical property.”

Can you elaborate on this please, I don’t understand.

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 6:01 am

I’m sorry, your posts are losing intelligibility and you seem to be ignoring or forgetting past posts. Can you rephrase your argument coherently, and can you explain what is unclear to you about property rights in immaterial goods being in conflict with property rights in material goods?

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 6:10 am

“I’m sorry, your posts are losing intelligibility and you seem to be ignoring or forgetting past posts.”

Well that’s your opinion, as is your claim that my argument is not coherent. I asked you to point out where I said what you said I said, I can’t answer if you won’t. Instead, you ask me to rephrase my entire argument from scratch, even though there are thousands of words for you to choose from in demonstrating where I said the “illogical” thing.

I’m not the one dodging here.

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 6:50 am

I asked you to point out where I said what you said I said, I can’t answer if you won’t.

If you did not say that, then you are not expressing yourself clearly. It is not my fault for misunderstanding you. Indeed, I pointed out several times where the vague components in your arguments are. Instead of fixing the vagueness, you handwave it away saying it doesn’t matter.

I fully admit that the arguments I present show an incomplete theory. I’m a falsificationist, I’m ok with that. If you have questions with regards to the gaps, maybe I can spend some time on trying to fill them out. The theory of property is especially difficult to create. But that is not an excuse for saying it can be self-contradictory.

Jay Lakner September 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Kid Salami,

Irrespective of what laws a free society develops, they must be logically consistent.

Ownership of a pattern or idea is an absurdity which has been refuted over and over again on this very sight. The problem is that people think in metaphors and seem to be incapable of understanding when the metaphor no longer fits.

However, I do still consider IP to be a grey area because (in my opinion) a strong case can be made for contractual IP. That is, in many circumstances it may be justifiable to prevent third party copying. This comes under contract law and conflicts would be resolved on a case by case basis. Conflicts involving engineering drawings could certainly fit into this category.

The Kid Salami September 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Well, you can just tell me that my thoughts are absurd and that i think in metaphors if you want. But i already said very clearly how i don’t think logical consistency is the most important thing at all, as you and many others seem to think

http://blog.mises.org/13564/the-superiority-of-the-roman-law-scarcity-property-locke-and-libertarianism/#comment-714456

http://blog.mises.org/13622/germany-and-its-industrial-rise-due-to-no-copyright/#comment-716706

but they were ignored. Maybe people think my arguments are self-evidently absurd – if so, it shouldn’t take too long to point out something specific.

Peter Surda September 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm

You have not answered the objection. If you do not use logic to determine the contents of law, they why are we having a debate? Then I can just smack you on the head and I win.

Russ the Apostate September 5, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I think the debate is precisely about whether logic alone is enough to derive law. Holmes famously said that it was not…

Jay Lakner September 5, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Mr Salami,

I did not say all your views were absurd. I said the argument that patterns and ideas are a form of property is absurd.

I would define property to be entities which one has the right to exclude others from altering the integrity or momentum of.
Since one cannot alter the integrity or momentum of the intangible, then it’s absurd to consider the intangible a form of property.

The pro-IP crowd, not even thinking about fundamental definitions, seem to think you can exclude others from “using” intangible things. The metaphor is in the word “use”. You don’t “use” a pattern. You “use” tangible things. “Use” simply means to alter integrity or momentum. The application of the word “use” in such a broad manner mistakenly leads the pro-IP crowd to think that property rights can be applied to things they cannot be applied to.

Another metaphor is that an idea can be stolen. “You stole my idea” is a common expression but does not, and cannot, literally mean the stealing of an idea. When you arrange your things into a configuration similar to an arrangement that already exists, you are not “stealing” anything. Nothing is being removed from the possession of the originator.

It irritates me no end to see common metaphors being used to justify what is simply the granting of a monopoly.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 5:29 am

“You have not answered the objection. If you do not use logic to determine the contents of law, they why are we having a debate? Then I can just smack you on the head and I win.”

You are not making any effort to appreciate the subtlety of what I am saying.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 5:45 am

Jay – please point out where I am speaking in “metaphors”, as I’m not sure how any of that post and your consequent irritation applies to what I’m saying.

“The pro-IP crowd, not even thinking about fundamental definitions, seem to think you can exclude others from “using” intangible things. The metaphor is in the word “use”. You don’t “use” a pattern. You “use” tangible things. “Use” simply means to alter integrity or momentum. The application of the word “use” in such a broad manner mistakenly leads the pro-IP crowd to think that property rights can be applied to things they cannot be applied to.”

PLease see my post above – what words do you use then to describe the scenario where I am prevented from using the “pattern” of ink on the engineering drawing that I was given as a gift.

http://blog.mises.org/13725/venus-needs-some-austrians/#comment-720743

Jay Lakner September 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Guy with the sausage,

My point is that anyone who tries to justify granting property rights in patterns or ideas, using fundamental definitions, can only do so by embracing the metaphoric use of words. If you completely define the words you use and only deal with specific non-vague meanings, then it becomes clear that “intellectual property” is an absurd concept.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 3:42 am

Sausage-less guy

My point is that anyone who tries to justify granting property rights in NORMAL PROPERTY, using fundamental definitions, can only do so by embracing the metaphoric use of words. If you completely define the words you use and only deal with specific non-vague meanings, then it becomes clear that PROPERTY is an absurd concept.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 3:47 am

And by the way, I asked you a specific question

“what words do you use then to describe the scenario where I am prevented from using the “pattern” of ink on the engineering drawing that I was given as a gift.”

which you didn’t answer.

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 6:00 am

And by the way, I asked you a specific question
“what words do you use then to describe the scenario where I am prevented from using the “pattern” of ink on the engineering drawing that I was given as a gift.”

Jay didn’t answer, so I’ll take over. You are committing a logical error. Jay (and we others) do not claim that the two phenomena cannot coincide, but that they are not connected by an implication, i.e. the sequential progression of events leading to A’s possession of a certain good is not a sufficient condition for someone (b) who took part in the sequence to be able to make a claim against A.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 6:14 am

Peter – I elaborated on the scenario and question for clarity above

http://blog.mises.org/13725/venus-needs-some-austrians/comment-page-1/#comment-721049

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 6:20 am

And the reason suggest you reread that is because I don’t understand your answer.

“Jay didn’t answer, so I’ll take over. You are committing a logical error. Jay (and we others) do not claim that the two phenomena cannot coincide”

What “two phenemona”?

“i.e. the sequential progression of events leading to A’s possession of a certain good is not a sufficient condition for someone (b) who took part in the sequence to be able to make a claim against A.”

I think you are saying something different to Jay, he says A (who receives the copy) can’t act as he pleases, you appear to be saying he can do as he pleases. So i don’t understand.

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 6:40 am

And the reason suggest you reread that is because I don’t understand your answer.

It looks like there is much more that you don’t understand.

What “two phenemona”?

A creating an original (phenomenon 1) and C being in possession of a copy (phenomenon 2). From these conditions you cannot derive that C is violating rights, but it does not mean that he is not violating them. The expressions “A does not imply B” and “A implies not B” are not equivalent.

I think you are saying something different to Jay, he says A (who receives the copy) can’t act as he pleases, you appear to be saying he can do as he pleases. So i don’t understand.

He did not say that you can’t act as you want. I just reread it and he phrased himself very carefully. He said that additional conditions might make the act illegal.

Jay Lakner September 7, 2010 at 7:40 am

The Kid Salami wrote:
“My point is that anyone who tries to justify granting property rights in NORMAL PROPERTY, using fundamental definitions, can only do so by embracing the metaphoric use of words. If you completely define the words you use and only deal with specific non-vague meanings, then it becomes clear that PROPERTY is an absurd concept.”

Is this some sort of a joke?

Property rights in tangible things is not an absurd concept. It makes perfect sense. The only problem is in determining the arbitrary difference between a negligible (and therefore treated as zero) rights violation and a non-negligible rights violation. This distinction is usually very easy to make, but not always. (eg pollution, EM broadcasting, noise) This “arbitrary” aspect may make property rights problematic, but not absurd.

By changing the definition of “property”, it is possible to make a logical system of property rights for the intangible too. However this definition, when applied to the tangible, would make no sense.

You see, you cannot logically apply a single definition of property to both the tangible and the intangible without invoking metaphors. Pro-IP advocates don’t seem to have grasped this very simple point. They, in fact, are using two different definitions of property (without even realising it) and treating them to be the same thing.

The Kid Salami September 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

Jay – but you are arguing about degree, not priciple.

You are simply ASSERTING “yeah sure there are some thorny bits in property (exactly when a trespass has occurred etc) but they are rare and we can get round it”. And are then simply ASSERTING that “the problems in intangibles are similar in nature to tangible property (what exactly is “copying” etc.) but in this case they are not something we can get round but are absurd”.

I don’t regard this as an argument – you are simply choosing your own threshold. I and everyone else puts the threshold, before we say the system has gone from workable to “absurd”, in a different place.

The Kid Salami September 8, 2010 at 9:26 am

“You see, you cannot logically apply a single definition of property to both the tangible and the intangible without invoking metaphors.”

And you will note, if you want to read my posts, that I have not once argued that we refer to a pattern as property. If Im speaking in metaphors which muddy the water, please point out where or else I suggest you stop telling me I’m doing it.

Jay Lakner September 9, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Kid Salami,

You definitely are getting muddled here.

Let’s try to get a few things straight.

Firstly, I do not know what your individual stance on “patterns as property” is. If you will read what I have said all along, I was saying the “Pro-IP crowd” often believe this. If you do not, then great for you. If you do, only then you might want to take my arguments personally.
I was merely trying to demonstrate that any defense of your position can only come from a contractual viewpoint, not a property viewpoint. And in this regard I have shown that, under the right circumstances, you do have a case.

Secondly, with regard to this: (you wrote) “I and everyone else puts the threshold, before we say the system has gone from workable to “absurd”, in a different place”, you don’t seem to have understood what I am trying to say here.
Given the definition of property I supplied, it is completely nonsensical to call patterns a form of property. It is impossible to alter the integrity or momentum of a pattern. This has nothing to do with workable versus unworkable. Please read the past points I’ve made slowly and try to understand what I’m saying.
I’m trying to say that in order for patterns to be a form of property, you will need to use an alternate definition of property. And I have already said that this can be done and it is possible to devise a non-absurd system where patterns are property. However, this new definition would render physical property an absurd concept. Do you understand? This is not a “workable versus unworkable” argument, this is a “possible versus impossible” argument. There is no specific definition of property which can simultaneously apply to both the tangible and intangible.

If you can get you head around this point, then you will see exactly why Kinsella’s “IP violates physical property rights” argument is valid. Peter Surda put it in a slightly different, yet correct, way when he said something along the lines of “IP creates a duel reality scheme”. What I have done is gone more fundamental and explained why their arguments are correct. It’s because IP and tangible property rely on two different definitions of property and these definitions contradict one another.

It’s ok if you don’t understand what I’m saying here. Very few people do.

The Kid Salami September 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm

“It’s ok if you don’t understand what I’m saying here. Very few people do.”

You’re trying to wind me up with this right? if you’re serious, and actually think this is a useful comment, then…well.

I am not “pro-IP”. You keep trying to dissuade me from beliefs i don’t hold – rather than tell me how dimwitted i am, try to focus on what I said. Not sure I can make it much clearer than I did above, which I know you read:

“Ok. That’s all I’m saying. You seem to agree with me then: that it may be possible to work out a system whereby I can write a book and retain control over who gets to own physical instantiations of the words if I only sell it with clauses in the contract of sale that say the buyer cannot copy or redistribute; that there could well (not definitely, maybe) evolve, on the free market, a mechanism to ensure that a third party who comes across a copy of the manuscript in a field has some obligation to check out not only whose physical property the book might be (is there someone in the trees out of sight who left it there for a minute) but also who might have PREVIOUSLY CLAIMED A COPYRIGHT OVER THE PAGES CONTAINED THEREIN BY VIRTUE OF SOME PROCESS AS RECOGNISED BY POPULAR DISPUTE RESOLUTION ORGANISATIONS WITH WHOM WE ARE BOTH REGISTERED.”

I replaced the bit you don’t liek with something I think we can agree on. So, given this is ALL I WANT. Not patents, not general copyrights which are automatic, but just this, your whole “explanation” to about patterns as property is, for the third time, pointless and a consequence of you not reading my words. Yet you tell me i’m not reading yours? Very odd.

Look, we agree on this – the situation in my paragraph above is possible on the free market, this is all i want. That you want to avoid saying we agree and continue to argue as if I am one of the “pro–IP” people you keep talking about is your problem not mine.

Jay Lakner September 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Kid Salami,

Let’s look at how this conversation has gone.

1. I tried to explain to you that your position can only be defended from a contractual viewpoint BECAUSE patterns cannot be a form of property. I went on to explain that ownership over a pattern is an absurdity and only comes about because people think in metaphors.

2. You, for god knows what reason, took offense at that.

3. Since you took offense at it, I naturally assumed that you must be one of these advocates of “patterns as property”. So I tried to lay out my position and explain where I was coming from.

4. You, for god knows what reason, replied that all my objections apply to normal property too.

5. I then went about trying to explain why the same objections do not apply to normal property.

6. You tried to argue that my objections are only a matter of degree.

7. I replied that they are not a matter of degree at all but instead it’s a matter of contradictory versus non-contradictory.

8. You then decide to tell me that you have not once argued as patterns as property. (So why did you act so offended in the first place???)

9. I see you’re getting muddled so I try to get a few things straight.

10. You accuse me of trying to dissuade you from beliefs you do not hold. (WTF???)

And all throughout you tell me I’m not reading your words? Seriously, WTF??

——————–

So let me try a different approach. Since communication is not your strongest suit, instead let me tell you what you believe.

You believe that law on the free market will evolve in a manner consistent with the desires of the people.
You believe this to be irrespective of whether the law is contradictory or not.
Hence your belief is that if people want copyrights or patents, the law will allow copyrights and patents – irrespective of the fact that they may be nonsensical or self-contradictory concepts.
Therefore you believe that no amount of theorising or arguing in blogs can possibly determine whether IP will or will not exist in a free market.

———————

So our argument centres around whether it’s possible or not for contradictory laws to exist in a free market. I say no, you say yes.

As theoretical evidence for your position, you linked the following:
http://faculty.msb.edu/hasnasj/GTWebSite/MythWeb.htm

Since, this was brought up somewhere below, I will explain my objections to it there.

TeeZedem September 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm

You are taking issue with a technology that is on a double exponential gowth curve. Meaning not only is it doubling computational power every two years, the time scale to double it is shrinking by half every cycle. Moore’s Law is expected to hot a wall around 2020, but this is being pushed back as more progress is made. Eventually they will hit a hard limit and have to move on to other technologies to keep the exponential progress going, but these are already on the horizon, atomic computing, DNA computing, quantum suspensions, etc.

So you view that we can never have the computational power to do what we need to do will be here sooner than you think.

Peter Surda October 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm

You neglect to take into consideration the whole effect. Not only is the computational power increasing, but also the needs of people adapt to that increase. Also, models for a lot of solutions do not scale well (apparently you missed that from my post). If they scale geometrically or exponentialy, Moore’s law is not going to fix it.

Russ the Apostate September 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

“Irrespective of what laws a free society develops, they must be logically consistent.”

Why? Our current system of law isn’t terribly logically consistent.

Jay Lakner September 5, 2010 at 5:24 pm

And you’re happy with the current system of law?

Russ the Apostate September 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm

No, I’m not. But that’s beside the point. The reason I’m not happy with current law is because it does not reflect my values, not because it is illogical. I partially agree with The Lunchmeat Lad on this one. I think that the legal system can take care of IP, whether that system is government-based (as I favor) or free-market-based.

I find anarcho-capitalists who balk at the idea of the free-market legal system coming up with laws they don’t favor to be amusing. It’s like the Democrats, who are the guardians of the Will of the People; at least, until the people favor something that goes against their socialist leanings. Then they think it is their duty to shove socialism down the peoples’ throats, for their own good.

Jay Lakner September 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm

So you have no problem with contradictory laws?

So if one law says it’s ok for you to ride a bicycle without a helmet and another says it’s not, then you would have no problem with the system on the basis of that contradiction?

Matthew Swaringen September 6, 2010 at 2:59 am

I have a problem with contradictory laws, but I think the point is that laws may exist that don’t have foundations in pure logic based on market considerations in a society of free market arbitration.

Whether IP would survive remains to be seen, but I can’t imagine that much of it’s current form would still be around simply because enforcement is extremely difficult and the majority of people get nothing out of that.

I certainly don’t think contradictory laws are desirable in a free market system, and given that IP presents all kinds of problems to personal freedom for the sake of assurance of profit for some it seems like an extremely bad idea unless it’s agreed upon by many that it’s an absolute necessity. That agreement might be made on utilitarian grounds, but I can only imagine this occurring with the consent enough people were we to see a huge shortage of productivity in desired areas.

In reality, I highly doubt it will go that way. I’ve seen enough of what is produced freely to think that those only in it as long as they hold a monopoly aren’t as significant as they think they are (and that the monopoly system is hardly a requirement for them to profit).

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 5:34 am

“So if one law says it’s ok for you to ride a bicycle without a helmet and another says it’s not, then you would have no problem with the system on the basis of that contradiction?”

I went to some trouble to describe what I mean by contradictory laws. Jay choosing to not address my specific example or general argument and instead invent his own absurd example of a contradictory law – which is obviously not what I am saying will eveolve on a free market – is something only he can answer.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 5:35 am

And Matthew, I largely agree with your post.

This guy has forgotten more about law than I’ll ever know – he has something to say on contradictory laws.

http://faculty.msb.edu/hasnasj/GTWebSite/MythWeb.htm

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 6:11 am

Kid Salami, I remember the article, I read it in Anarchy and the law. It actually confirms what I say. Communication is prone to vagueness. If you take it to the extreme, you can even claim this is an inevitable feature of it. But that is hardly an argument for embracing it. There is nothing beneficial in deliberate vagueness. It’s fraud and should be treated like that.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 6:49 am

“But that is hardly an argument for embracing it. There is nothing beneficial in deliberate vagueness. It’s fraud and should be treated like that.”

Again Peter, I respectfully suggest that you are not trying to understand what I am saying – I mean, “deliberate vagueness” – where can my words be said to endorse this?

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 7:17 am

Now you’re dodging. You reject my assumptions, do not provide a replacement, and disagree with the requirement of logical consistency.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 8:00 am

I’m not dodging anything. I’ve already explained myself at length and have no desire to write it again, I’ll copy and paste the money paragraph from

http://blog.mises.org/13622/germany-and-its-industrial-rise-due-to-no-copyright/#comment-716706

“Insisting on a logically consistent set of rules would mean one of these had to be thrown out, introducing uncertainty in a great deal of situations in which there was none before. The cost of the occasional long and drawn out process is more than covered by the benefit of having the normal everyday transactions go smoothly and quickly.”

It is not about vague being better in any general sense. A few brief laws, even if contradictory in the marginal cases, are simple to deal with and can keep the cost of common transactions low. If the occasional high transaction cost of infrequent conflicts in the laws is a price the market participants feel is worth paying for low costs in the most common cases, then this can evolve on a free market.

Describing such laws as vague is I think the wrong word – they could in fact be very precise, the vagueness of the laws is not what makes the system work, that’s why I don’t think your comment was particularly pertinent.

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 8:25 am

I believe your conclusions are flawed. If the rules are too ambiguous, the costs of interpreting them are shifted to the end-user, by them hiring lawyers, who use the vagueness to maneuver. I fully agree that the consumers of law benefit from a situation where it is foreseeable in advance if a certain act is permitted or not. In fact I consider it one the core features of law. But when you apply this to IP, it supports my approach rather than yours.

The Kid Salami September 6, 2010 at 11:08 am

“But when you apply this to IP, it supports my approach rather than yours.”

No – I’m not applying this transaction-costs-trade-off argument directly to IP.

I’m saying that you ruling out anyone’s vision of a world with copyrights because the laws/rules presented can not be guaranteed to be 100% logically consistent in all cases is a non-argument, as systems that involve only tangible property can not stand this scrutiny either, and normal property rights are something we all agree works pretty well.

Peter Surda September 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

That’s nonsense. I’m not ruling out anyone’s “vision”. Anyone can envision whatever they want.

There is a difference between an incomplete and a self-contradictory theory. You’re trying to conflate the two. I think the appropriate response is this: http://xkcd.com/704/

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 3:52 am

I know the difference between contradictory and incomplete. Where am I conflating the two?

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 3:54 am

“That’s nonsense. I’m not ruling out anyone’s “vision”. Anyone can envision whatever they want.”

People on this site put forward proposals for how IP might work in various scenarios. You say they are all illegitimate – fair enough. So when I say

“I’m saying that you ruling out anyone’s vision of a world with copyrights”

this is all I’m saying. I’m simply stating that you are anti-IP. I don’t know why you are arguing about my particular formulation of this, even if it was a little clumsy.

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 6:11 am

People on this site put forward proposals for how IP might work in various scenarios. You say they are all illegitimate – fair enough.

You are using vague formulations to avoid confrontation. You can envision anything you want, but that does not mean it is a coherent argument. When I push you to fill the holes in your argument, but you just evade and pretend that self-contradiction is a non-issue. I am curious how we can have a meaningful conversation without it.

I know the difference between contradictory and incomplete. Where am I conflating the two?

The references you quoted show an example of a self-contradictory system. Then you go on to proceed that the same objections that I have against IP can also be applied against material property, although the actual issue is that one of them is self contradictory and the other incomplete.

For someone who is supposed to be educated in math you do not demonstrate a high proficiency in logic. Maybe you just need to step back and reformulate your assumptions properly, instead of implicitly making too many of them. Then it would either become apparent to you where your errors are or you would be able to come up with proper responses and we’ll be able to make some progress.

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 8:37 am

Again, you are not taking the time to appreciate what I’m saying and instead are taking your time telling me how illogical and incoherent I am. Let’s go one step at a time and see if you agree or not.

I am most certainly NOT saying “self-contradiction is a non-issue”, you are putting words in my mouth AGAIN.

I have clearly gone to pains to describe a particular set of circumstances for a system of interacting individuals where, if they agree to some rules (or laws or general principles or whatever you want to call them) which they will abide by, they have a trade-off between the number of rules and the transaction costs. Lots and lots of rules that are very precise and cover every possible scenario with precise watertight defintions might be logically consistent and complete – your aim above all others it seems – but might in fact be totally impractical in real life, as everyone involved in even a simple transaction would have to take too much time to establish their options.

i’ve given a specific example of this at length once already, for people driving. They can’t communicate directly with each other usually except for say a flash of the lights or a hand wave, and so they need a very concise and clear code with which to communicate. The logical consistency of the rules that evolve are not their main concern – the ability to get through common transactions with the minimum of fuss is their main concern. The occasional high cost of time when two people act seemingly in accordance with two of the rules but they crash (ie. property is violated) is, the market participants decide, worth the cost.

This is not “illogical” behavour on their part as you suggested, it makes perfect sense. each individual is acting logically – the rules can be (as they stand in their abbreviated form) self-contradictory in marginal situations, and the rules can be incomplete in that there can of course be scenarios which are not covered at all by the rules (I guess the market would devise a new rule or rules if this became a problem due to, say, some technological innovation that was not previously envisioned).

Forget IP for a moment or how this is or might be relevant. Do you agree with what i’ve said here or not?

The Kid Salami September 7, 2010 at 8:43 am

Minor point

“as they stand in their abbreviated form”

abbreviate was a bad word there. I mean ” as they stand in their useful concise form (and as opposed to the constent and complete rules which are numerous and much more complicated and not at all concise).”

Peter Surda September 7, 2010 at 9:47 am

Kid,

Lots and lots of rules that are very precise and cover every possible scenario with precise watertight defintions might be logically consistent and complete – your aim above all others it seems – but might in fact be totally impractical in real life, as everyone involved in even a simple transaction would have to take too much time to establish their options.

I already answered this, but apparently not clearly enough. I agree with this to a very large extent: one set of rules might be preferred to a different one due to lower transactions costs. But you are making unfounded assumption that somehow my approach is the one with higher transaction costs. I challenge you on this. I humbly submit that my approach produces clarification while yours produces confusion. Indeed, my primary method of research is the elimination of irrelevant criteria. You are also making another unfounded assumption, in that you treat formal and informal rules separately, although they act as substitutes, so you need to analyse the total costs of both.

the rules can be (as they stand in their abbreviated form) self-contradictory in marginal situations, and the rules can be incomplete in that there can of course be scenarios which are not covered at all by the rules

However, even in the example you posted, someone will end up carrying the costs (both the transaction costs as well as damage costs). Now matter how you twist it, this is unavoidable. So you cannot claim that the rules can be self-contradictory, because in the end, one of them takes precedence, even if the specific outcome is not obvious to the parties involved in advance.

Forget IP for a moment or how this is or might be relevant. Do you agree with what i’ve said here or not?

I agree with large parts, I am merely stressing that you are making unfounded assumptions in addition to those that we agree on.

The Kid Salami September 8, 2010 at 9:15 am

“But you are making unfounded assumption that somehow my approach is the one with higher transaction costs. I challenge you on this.”

Well we can forget this as I’m not claiming this at all – are you talking about IP scenarios? Forget IP. For the third time, I’m not applying this argument directly to IP – I’m saying in general that it might or might not be better to have the brief but inconsistent/incomplete rule set and the market should be free to decide which they prefer.

“I humbly submit that my approach produces clarification while yours produces confusion. Indeed, my primary method of research is the elimination of irrelevant criteria.”

This is a little cryptic. I don’t know what your “approach” is and how it contrasts to mine, how mine “produces confusion” nor what “irrelevant criteria” I am bringing up.

“You are also making another unfounded assumption, in that you treat formal and informal rules separately, although they act as substitutes, so you need to analyse the total costs of both.”

These cryptic comments might make sense to you but I’m not sure they do to everyone else – where do I “treat formal and informal rules separately” and how does this matter? And I don’t care about analyzing the costs. If the market decides to evolve a particular rule set, that’s fine by me, regardless of my personal view as to whether it is cost effective or not.

“So you cannot claim that the rules can be self-contradictory, because in the end, one of them takes precedence, even if the specific outcome is not obvious to the parties involved in advance.”

One person approaches a junction with one rule in mind, one person approaches from a different direction with another. They both act according to their rule and then crash. The options are: abandon one of the rules to prevent this ever happening but increase transaction costs or accept this from time to time and have some judge decide which rule “takes precedence” here, in this case. This will change according to the particulars of the case that are not discussed in the rules and that are not deemed (by the market) to be a worthwhile addition to the rule set (to keep down transaction costs). One of them eventually taking precedence is not relevant unless one of them always takes precedence, in which case we then have a hierarchy or ordering to our rules, a different situation and not one that I’m talking about here. The driver at the point of application of the laws does not order them because the market has decided that ordering them is not worth the effort, they are equals. Again, I’m not concerned about when this does or doesn’t happen exactly, only that it can.

Where do we disagree now?

Peter Surda September 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Kid, you can’t be serious. This is stuff that has been explained to you already (also the pattern vs. causality issue). Are you converting to michael? I don’t see any point in continuing the debate unless you demonstrate that you comprehend the arguments.

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 5:17 am

Well, that’s a bit of a lame cop out. If you explained your “causality” theory to me, I don’t remember it. You certainly haven’t in the context of this debate.

“This is stuff that has been explained to you already”

“this”? What pray tell is “this” referring to?

The problem you (and Jay actually) have is that when I ask a question, you sometimes presume it is because I don’t know the answer, and sometimes presume to know what I think because of the question – when in fact I am just getting your words to clarify the position. This isn’t revolutionary – it is called debate.

You say I don’t comprehend your arguments? Go through all these comments and you can see there is a very clear pattern – me asking questions to clarify what you and Jay think. How many questions have you asked me to clarify what I think? Who is the one trying to understand the others argument and who is the one with the switch stuck on transmit repeating the same old stuff?

And you saying you have already “explained” stuff to me is ridiculous, I purposely wound back to concentrate on one straightforward point – and you have decided to just abandon that. We can all just repeat our theory continuously and say everything has been “explained” already. But that isn’t debate, that is dogma.

Peter Surda September 9, 2010 at 6:02 am

Kid, you’re just pretending to debate. You reject all the interpretations of your sentences and do not provide an alternative. At the same time, you complain about not understanding our arguments, but do not explain what specifically you don’t understand.

For example, just a couple of days ago, I wrote to you:

Copying is a mix of causality and similarity. However, from economic point of view, goods that have these features are called externalities and substitutes, not property.

Your response did not show any indication that you do not understand this claim. Now that I refer back to it, you appear dumbfounded. So, let me rephrase it to you: copying is a subset of causality. Therefore, if you want to assign some special legal consequences to copying, you need to explain how to distinguish copying from other types of causality, which should not have special legal consequences. Elsewhere, I argue that causality is practically omnipresent and similarity is a utilitarian concept, but let us not skip ahead and lets’ see how you respond to the more general issue.

You appear to be making an argument that a legal system including IP can come to existence despite all the issues listed by Jay, Stephan and me. Very well then, I don’t actually have a problem with this. What I do however have a problem with is that you also appear to claim that the definition of IP is irrelevant. But that is logical nihilism. If the definition is irrelevant, then you can replace “IP” with any other noun. So the whole concept of communication fails. If you expect that conflicts are not resolved with violence, then the people need some way of communicating with each other, do they not? And if they were be able to to communicate, they would need some common ground, would they not? If you do not explain what IP or copying is, then you cannot expect people to behave in a certain way with regards to it, right?

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 6:04 am

And, while I’m here, let’s summarise. You say you can’t say whether someone copied the Harry Potter manuscript because we can’t define copy, because you say

“What is copying? Can you define it in a way that distinguishes it from a combination of causality and similarity (or utility if you will, meaning both are equally suitable for a certain purpose)? My claim is that both conditions are insufficient, and that IP proponents have not explained what other conditions are necessary. What is the identity of an immaterial goods? Does it exist outside of people’s heads? What is a “word” and why should it be boundary? What’s with synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, different languages?”

I say this is navel-gazing ivory tower pointless bullshit. Firstly, you want everything to be an a priori logic problem. It isn’t – I’m sorry to inform you, but the world does not consist only of R2D2 and Dr Spock. Secondly, I can ask similarly difficult questions of property and trespass (as per Kinsella’s examples I quoted above) – but the market can work them out with property, and though the situation is undoubtedly harder with a copyright situation, I say it can work here too. Do you say the market CANNOT do this?

Well, who knows? Despite your claim above how copying is impossible to define, you later say “it seems unlikely that such an arrangement would come up from a free market, because it is dubious whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and because immaterial goods do not have natural boundaries, so for this to work properly, they have to be determined centrally”.

You say it is unlikely? What is your position, is it unlikely or impossible that a copyright-like law could evolve on the free market? (If it is unlikely, then you agree with me. I don’t care how likely it is, only that it is not impossible).

And on the subject of not comprehending others arguments, you said I “just evade and pretend that self-contradiction is a non-issue” which I clearly did not say and you know it.

And you said, of my this transaction-costs-trade-off argument, “But when you apply this to IP, it supports my approach rather than yours.” And I replied “No – I’m not applying this transaction-costs-trade-off argument directly to IP.” It’s clear what I mean.

Then for double clarity talking about this again later I say “Forget IP for a moment or how this is or might be relevant. Do you agree with what i’ve said here or not?”

Yet you STILL come back with “But you are making unfounded assumption that somehow my approach is the one with higher transaction costs. I challenge you on this.”

For someone who has elected himself as the in-house logician, you’re certainly having trouble comprehending what I’m saying even when I anticipate your non-understanding in advance and clearly say what I mean.

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 6:42 am

“dumbfounded”? Is everyone who doesn’t agree with you automatically confused?

“you also appear to claim that the definition of IP is irrelevant”

Well, I do think it’s irrelevant in that I don’t think anything called “intellectual property” should or need exist. Please point out where I’ve said otherwise – I in fact explicitly told Jay I didn’t consider patterns property.

I only think, for the one millionth time, that the laws that evolve on the free market might be so as to make demands on a third party who finds a book in a field and make him obliged to do some due diligence before he can “copy” it and sell it.

And again, for the one milionth time, if you can define “property” and “property rights violation” in such a way that we can apply your definitions to all the scenarios that were contained in the kinsella quote and anything else I can come up with then I’m all ears.

Will this definition involve boundaries, you seem to think this is a key factor. But as kinsella admits, crossing your bounary to ask for a cup of sugar is considered by the market to be fine. So, I look forward to your rules and definitions that circumvent this problem and applying them to new scenarios that I invent to lift my confusion.

I don’t know how the laws on the free amrket would evolve, but as per the saying about evolution, the market is cleverer than you are.

Peter Surda September 9, 2010 at 7:29 am

You say it is unlikely? What is your position, is it unlikely or impossible that a copyright-like law could evolve on the free market? (If it is unlikely, then you agree with me. I don’t care how likely it is, only that it is not impossible).

I do not believe I said previously it is impossible, however I presented several arguments that explain why it is unlikely.

Peter Surda September 9, 2010 at 7:38 am

And again, for the one milionth time, if you can define “property” and “property rights violation” in such a way that we can apply your definitions to all the scenarios that were contained in the kinsella quote and anything else I can come up with then I’m all ears.

Yet again, you complain that my theory is incomplete as a retort to my (and Stephan’s and Jay’s) claim that putting together physical and immaterial property is self-contradictory. But since you elsewhere complain that you did not conflate the problem of incomplete theories with self-contradictory ones, I don’t know what else to say.

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

To be clear, you’re saying that the basic rules of thumb people use in everyday life to decide whether or not an act of theirs is going to violate another person’s property (the type of rules that are later debated in court and a decision made bsed on the facts of the case) are definitely consistent. You KNOW this?

I’d like to check this. Can you show me the list of them so I can do this? You must have made this list and checked for contradictions to be so sure, so can you give me a copy?

For example, a sign like “No trespassing” at the front of your property and the rule “people with whom I am acquianted my step onto my property to ask for a small trivial item such as a cup of sugar without me accusing them of trespass” cannot co-exist if these rules are to be self-consistent. The first should read “No trespassing except: yada yada…” and a big long list of exceptions to this rule.

Have you ever seen such a sign? Or maybe the signs you see are the same as the ones I see and just say “No trespassing”.

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 11:34 am

Unlikely is not impossible. And I disagree that it is “unlikely” but reasonable people can do this.

So I’m not sure what your argument is now. If you argue against something you now agree is possible on a free market, what exactly are you doing? Are you arguing the market in this case would “wrong”? That they are not as clever as you? I don’t get it.

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 11:37 am

Because the truth is that property rights in such a case (neighbours approaching your kitchen etc.) are not about boundaries but are in fact about intent and causality and the like. So once again the arguments you apply against copyright are in play with tangible property too.

The Kid Salami September 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

I think I see the problem here. You genuinely can’t seem to imagine a conflict involving contradictory laws. You are thinking that conflicts must come from incomplete laws because the existing ones must, just must, be consistent.

This seems to be the root of our disagreement. I say, and have explained at length, why they must not with the driving example earlier (I don’t, in retrospect, think the trespass example I just gave off the top of my head particularly good).

But that great Hasnas article that you (rather bizarrely) say supports your case, has this to say

“In the legal world, however, this assumption does not hold. This is because unlike the laws of nature, political laws are not consistent. The law human beings create to regulate their conduct is made up of incompatible, contradictory rules and principles; and, as anyone who has studied a little logic can demonstrate, any conclusion can be validly derived from a set of contradictory premises. This means that a logically sound argument can be found for any legal conclusion.”

What is your position on this? Do you disagree with Hasnas?

Peter Surda September 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I am completely at loss to see anything coherent in your claim. Seriously, I see nothing meaningful.

So I’m not sure what your argument is now.

What is my argument? You’re the one who objects but does not explain why. You’re the one who says that you don’t agree with my conclusions but do not explain why. States are also created by people and not by supernatural beings. Does that mean their existence is “right” and the underlying economic theories are “valid”? If a state creates two laws that contradict each other, does that mean that they can actually be enforced?

Last year I had an interesting encounter. The state social insurance company sent me a letter telling me that according to the law, I need to unsubscribe from the insurance, otherwise I’ll be fined. So I unsubscribed, also the health insurance because that’s what the law says (I looked it up). But the (state) health insurance company said that they cannot unsubscribe me. I explained to them that I am not unsubscribing out of my own volition but because the law orders me to do so. A couple of weeks afterwards they came back and affirmed that I can’t unsubscribe. They did not explain why. So, as I explained earlier, even though their claims contradict themselves, a contradiction in laws cannot be correctly executed, because one of the rules takes precedence (or, in some cases, neither). What I’m saying is that although you can craft rules that contradict each other, they can’t be both valid at the same time. Merely crafting rules (e.g. writing them down and voting upon them) does not make the rules valid. If I write “1 + 2 = 4″ that does not make it true.

Matthew Swaringen September 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm

“For example, a sign like “No trespassing” at the front of your property and the rule “people with whom I am acquianted my step onto my property to ask for a small trivial item such as a cup of sugar without me accusing them of trespass” cannot co-exist if these rules are to be self-consistent. The first should read “No trespassing except: yada yada…” and a big long list of exceptions to this rule.”

Ehh, doesn’t this just mean “no trespassing” is a short form of the latter due to the medium of sign post, with the rules exceptions being defined via conversation with that person?

I don’t think the “no trespassing” is in contradiction with the rest, it’s just not a complete statement of the actual rule.

I’m not going from here to make the claim that people can’t have contradictory rules. I don’t think they generally do at a given point in time, but over the course of the time that definitely can be the case as their desires/mood/etc. changes and what enforcement actions they take also change.

This said, I do not imagine that free market arbitration will lead to inconsistent and contradictory outcomes like that, unless that’s actually what the market wants. But I don’t believe that at all. I think most people would rather know what to expect and to know well before they break a law that they are breaking it.

Most of “our” reason (I think this would include you but tell me if I’m wrong) for even wanting free markets in arbitration is so to get away from the insanely complex laws and regulations that no person could possibly know all of or keep up with. Now it’s possible that we aren’t wrong, much like the socialist who imagines that more government equals less corruption is wrong, but… I just don’t see individual actors pushing for weird contradictory laws.

I’m assuming we are basing our notion of free market society around the non-aggression principle, and if so part of that system is expecting for those who do wrong by law to accept punishment imposed by arbitration (and if they accept nothing, people will voluntarily disassociate with them on those grounds in addition to whatever their opinion is on the wrong they have done already).

I just can’t see people regularly going with this route of accepting laws that are generally invasive of their privacy, require them to give up personal information of their customers, etc. You have to have a huge carrot to pull that off, and while IP advocates imagine that artists/authors/etc. are just going to be dying off one after another without IP… I’ve seen enough of that which is done in the realms of sharing that I can’t even see any reason to believe that at all.

I’m certain we may well see less big budget films (though I’m even doubtful there, but I’m willing to accept that possibility), but I can think of almost innumerable advantages to shrugging off 90% of what constitutes current IP law.

Now in terms of plagiarism (which is generally fraudulent) I have some understanding of IP advocates desire. I think most people are agreeable to that. You probably could even see people generally disagree with the notion of commercial bootlegging. I don’t think you’ll see many at all looking to invade privacy to destroy p2p sharing though. It’s just too expensive to do it when you add up all the costs from the different parties in that sequence, in addition to encryption and such.

Matthew Swaringen September 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I mean to say “It’s possible we are wrong” rather than “aren’t” but the edit feature needs work here and I don’t care to try and re-space that…

I think I’m needing to type out long posts in an external program or something (or perhaps just stop making long posts… ha!)

If developers on this site see this, please note that many of us would probably appreciate if the edit feature could retain spacing. I’d also like more time to edit :)

Jay Lakner September 9, 2010 at 10:42 pm

When a situation occurs in which obeying one law necessarily breaks another law, then one of the two laws WILL take precendence.
This is the point. Contradictory laws cannot exist. (except maybe for very short periods of time while courts decide which of the two laws should take precedence, but the end result will be the same – no contradictory laws)

The Kid Salami September 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Matthew

“Ehh, doesn’t this just mean “no trespassing” is a short form of the latter due to the medium of sign post, with the rules exceptions being defined via conversation with that person?

I don’t think the “no trespassing” is in contradiction with the rest, it’s just not a complete statement of the actual rule.”

I think you’re right and that my example was a poor one, I just wrote it off the top of my head, I just wanted to give a second specific one to the driving example. Forget what some random yahoo like me thinks – Hasnas says quite clearly he is of the opinion that we end end up with contradictory laws regardless and I agree like i explained.

The Kid Salami September 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Jay

“Contradictory laws cannot exist. (except maybe for very short periods of time while courts decide which of the two laws should take precedence, but the end result will be the same – no contradictory laws)”

You and Surda have the same disease. You are just wrong. I;m not explaining the my tranaction costs argument again – if you don’t want to read and understand it fine, do as you will.

instead, what is your position on the Hasnas article? he clearly says you can have contradictory laws – what is it about his extremely lucid article you disagree with?

Peter Surda September 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Once again: merely because people can construct sentences that contradict each other does not mean that either of them is true. In any specific situation, at least one of them will end up being unexercised. Since you refer to an article by lawyer, any lawyer will also tell you that you can only know for sure what the correct interpretation of the law is after a judge passes a verdict.

Jay Lakner September 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm

The article discusses law in a non-free market.
The article only applies to situations where a one-size-fits-all approach is used.
In order to allow flexibility, the laws are deliberately worded vaguely to allow flexibilty. This is an inevitable feature of a monopolized courts system.

In a free market, there is no one-size-fits-all mentality. Private arbitration companies are hired with the voluntary consent of their customers. There is no fixed body of laws that all judges must draw on to reach their decisions. Every situation is decided upon on a case by case basis.
Individual firms may write their own body of laws to enable citizens to decide which firms to utilise, but each firm is in direct competition with every other firm. It is in the best interests of each arbitration company to be specific and consistent in their resolution of conflicts. Contradiction leads to uncertainty and uncertainty is certainly not a positive attribute if you want to keep customers.

So you see, I’m saying the issues discussed in the article only materialise because the state has a monopoly on the courts. ie it is a negative symptom of state intervention.
This major problem with monopolised arbitration (vague contradictory wording of laws) does not apply to a free market in arbitration.

The Kid Salami September 17, 2010 at 6:03 am

Lakner/Surda – the discussion between us got a bit bogged down and unfocused and pointless. But my argument is really clear and simple.

Surda has said: http://blog.mises.org/13622/germany-and-its-industrial-rise-due-to-no-copyright/#comment-716607

“The hair product do not require a universally valid definition of baldness, they merely require the two participants in a contract to agree on a definition. If they do not agree, they do not need to enter a contract.”

And he said: http://blog.mises.org/13725/venus-needs-some-austrians/comment-page-1/#comment-720760

“You have not answered the objection. If you do not use logic to determine the contents of law, they why are we having a debate? Then I can just smack you on the head and I win.”

Lakner said: http://blog.mises.org/13564/the-superiority-of-the-roman-law-scarcity-property-locke-and-libertarianism/#comment-714248

“Logic is the only tool we have, especially in complex systems…..”

Pretty clear – logic is king. I agree of course that logic is important – very very important – but you cannot just insist on consistency and completelness at all times and still. You jsut can’t. I hate to break this to you, but the people in markets are not robots but humans.

Surda says: http://blog.mises.org/13725/venus-needs-some-austrians/comment-page-1/#comment-720760

“Now we’re back at utilitarianism. Whether they agree with me or not, they would need to foot the bill for the implementation thereof and live with the consequences. People tend to get sober very quickly when they stare at the bill and when strangers walk uninvited around their houses.”

Well, I agree 100%. I submit Surda’s supremely ludicrous recent discussion with Bala here

http://blog.mises.org/13819/the-socialists-still-hate-rand/#comment-723549

as exhibit A. This is a long pointless interminable debate (between two people who have a very good understanding of formal logic) can’t even easily or at all agree on a definition of such basic concepts of “life” and “survive” or the chance of “immortality”. So, any contracts containing that one word “life” are clearly going to be tricky if we insist, always, one thrashing out everything to be sure that the definitions and rules are all 100% consistent and complete. There will be, in Peter’s words, a need to “foot the bill for the implementation thereof [ie. the cost of long interminable debates turning every contract, no matter how minor, into a research project] and live with the consequences”.

Market participants don’t like bills like this. The simple fact is that that famous comment of “I can’t define XYZ but I know it when I see it” is good enough for most people in most circumstances to prevent the need for the costs outlined in the above paragraph. That two people might hold conflicting definitions, even in a word that is contained in a contract they agree on [eg. bald in the example given by Surda], is not NECESSARILY a problem, it’s not one, well, until it is – and people might be happy to ignore the logical holes existing at the time of the contract for utilitarian reasons, itself an entirely logic action. It would be better if they did agree on what “bald” means, and one person might want to thrash out EXACTLY what “bald” means beforehand and pull out if they can’t agree. This can be a “logical” action. It is also logical to proceed despite marginally conflicting definitions in the hope this will never matter, the profit expected from signing the contract outweighing this potential loss. This could be a “logical” action also.

You both appear to reject my reasoning on this.

I think you are both flat out wrong.

Jay Lakner October 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Kid Salami,

I think my post already nicely deals with everything you’ve just said. You are, once again, assuming a society that has a “one-size-fits-all” approach to law.

How about responding to the specific arguments I made?

Particularly, that each arbitration firm will write its own body of laws and that it’s in their best interests to be specific and self-consistent.

makanbubur September 6, 2010 at 3:51 am

Title : The World and the Future Date : 03 September 2010Introduction, what is it in the future will look like? first of all, excuse my bad english.. but i will attempt to make this simple and quick for everyone understand. In life, there is 3 things we are encounter and trying to understand. the first is Institutional system, which is like parliament system, law system, jurisdiction, legislative and such. the second is religion system, and the third is monetary system.among those 3, the monetary system is the one we understand least, we never learn about it in school, neither most of the people question about it and it is most unquestionable form of faith. to understand what is monetary system is first we look at the money creation process. assume here gov needs money, what they’ll do is will call bank negara and bank negara will say.. ok. we will buy the government bond from you. then government will go back and get some piece of paper print something on it, add some fancy graphic.. voila thats it. the government bond has printed. on the other hand, bank negara will also do similar, get many paper and prints the money, of course in today’s world it is in digital form.when both of the gov bond and money exchanged, the money officially become legal tender. then the money usually transferred to retail bank like cimb/maybank/rhb/etc etc.. the next thing is those money is ready to loan to public with interest rate. everything seems normal? most of you would say yes.. but in reality it does not seem so. because what happened actually is if all source of money was from bank negara yet they still charge interest rate how is it possible the borrowers able to pay all the debt back? it is just impossible because for eg: i print 10 ringgit and lend to everyone else, then expect you all to pay back 11 ringgit with interest rate? its just impossible because the money supply never enough to pay all the loans back.so what will happened if businessmen are not able to pay all the loans back? this is the most foundation of crime, and also thats why we never ever can trust there is such thing as honest businessmen. with risk of scarcity money supply, therefore bankruptcy is guaranteed as well. the economy/money issue is getting worse in the world, for those who are reading this, i will provide you all with proof. read until the end you’ll know what im talking about.the next related issue is, assume you understand the things above sounds reasonable and logic we take a look at our current capitalism and its practice which actually is making the world worse. to understand capitalism, i will simply try to explain a simple scenario :1.) we look properly what it takes to create a things. i mean things you wants or somebody wants.. 2.) what things? anything.. there will be ONLY 2 choice, make the things you want by yourself or somebody else make it for youif you make the things on your own, u created value for yourself. nobody else. if someone else make the things for you, u either need to pay something in return or you owed him/her. in today’s world i believe each of us are very limited in making things for ourself, therefore we are dependent on others while what happened to us is we pretty much dived into specialization / specific know how only.before i explain further, we need to take a look what is the condition we are living in, and the earth’s necessary resource to make the things we want. i will now explain a very simple scenario, remember i have not finished talking about 1st scenario.lets say there is a planet with 100 cm square feet of cake and the inhabitants has only 5 mouse. so if we apply capitalism system, the 5 mouse will need to fight with each other and at the end the last few mouse either will get least amount of cake or die for the last mouse. if we apply communism, the first thing 5 mouse will do is they will agreed that there is only 100 cm square feet of cake available, so will divide equally among each other, no conflict. the fact here is, the current earth we are living now is definitely no infinite but with limited amount of resource just for about everything. therefore doesnt matter if politician promising about development or high income country or wawasan 2020, or whatever that is, you should being skeptical what is the reality because with finite resource in place there is no such thing as true capitalism which you can fight / earn for whatever you want, same as communism, there is no such thing as fair equal amount of share when our current world is worshiping hierarchy/power/status/money. therefore both capitalism and communism is just a dream ideology..this is end of 2nd scenario.3.) so most of us doing being employed and trade our skills in return of some value(salary). being employed means depending on your boss which basically depend back on employee to generate things and sell it to someone else with more value(profit). profit means more than enough paying back to employee, cover business operating cost and everything else.4.) in this situation, what happened is the boss acquired a lot of value compared than entire input has been done. if this is the case, where does those value coming from if everybody else must seek more value than entire input?for eg: 1 earth has 50 population. 5 boss, the rest is employee, therefore each boss has 9 employeeto keep things simplified, there are 45 employees, let say all their salary is only 1 dollar per month, thats RM45 minimum money needed in circulation. but boss do not have any salary at all yetin capitalism each boss must seek more value than entire input, boss must seek more than RM9 to cover entire operation. for eg: RM10 or RM11..multiply by total 5 boss, = RM55 needed?in current world, boss keep the reserve as much as possible, self-preserving, there is no giving back more than input.. so money cant back in circulation again. so wealth the bosses has gained is someone’s else misery in this case assume most of the human in the world try to survive is either by employment or become self-employed.with holding large amount of money, boss able to tell people(peasants) to do what they want. this is nothing to do with environment concern, nothing to do with education, not science, not health, not technology (technology created driven by profit is not real technology) the case we see here is once the boss starts driven by profit, its going to channel everyone else into wrong path, wrong invention, WRONG FUTURE, its the disaster we are messing/playing with nowreal life example why im saying disaster :- we have pollution problem, anarchist, disease, inflation, war, global warming, poor health, drug problem, economy crisis, fear, insecure, HUGE WASTE, etc etc..assuming upon discover gold, money as power era and we had realized earth’s finite resource, and the boss being smart as well, they should properly use their power to make the future independent, liberalization, probably now humanity already travel in space, not whatever disaster shite, countless problem we need to deal with nowMore bad news, if you have read until here, there are some more bad scenario currently we are in. peak oil, which is basically the world dependency on oil is very high, the oil resource is finite, if we are running out of oil what will happened to transportation, food, the truck powered to grow vegetables, fertilizer, just about every economy activities depends on oil. again, dont have to believe any of my words, this is what you need for proof : visit http://www.bit.ly/cuOSdialright enough about all the bad thing, i will try suggest a solution, first thing is seems very radical when you read, but at the end you may think this is worth pursuing and change for. most important first step : must had power in the government1.) assume you already had the power in government2.) starts education/technical/practical class about water desalinization, electricity, agricultural, construction, and internet infrastructure course endorsed by government. called these as 5 sector.3.) gov take over 100% of the 5 sector.. you could say there is no more privatization, or communist.. i dont care4.) in the 5 sector, set up volunteer only workforce. maximum only allowed volunteer 2 hours per day. give choice to current employee either stay as volunteer or leave the company. there will be no longer need to paying salary for running 5 sector. all done by volunteer6.) therefore there is NO NEED of profit for those 5 sector7.) all the people now able to spend on very low low price or even better ZERO price and the 5 sector is non-profit based operation. there will be no more inflation for basic survival of human8.) gov starts new education how to automated all these 5 sector. same thing again, people learn automation for free and apply on the 5 sector for free as well by volunteer. automation will require less people working on it in future.9.) replicate the whole process at all the countries in the world, and all human able to spend their life traveling worldwide and just volunteer 2 hours per day in the 5 sector to survive. the countries border probably no longer make sense because everyone had access to basic necessities11.) final goal is human able to work less than 20 hours per week and survive pretty much comfortably. its time for live the life you want as musician,artist,traveller,etc etc..12.)anything else than 5 sector remain in usual capitalism, free market is not destroyed and pretty much the same as todayyou might ask, WHY HAVE TO DO THIS? it is simply because everyone hates their job, we dont want people to sit in their office / workplace for 50 years and by the time you are getting old and unable to do much when you are young, YOU WILL REGRET with your life. when you are facing death you will realized achievement and materialistic acquisition HAS NO BEGINNING and NO ENDING.let me emphasis why liberalization of 5 sector is important, it is because ultimately in future the current materialistic society, wealth acquiring concept will disappeared because of FINITE amount of resource on earth, this is FACT. however this doesnt necessary mean a bad thing because we as human still can live happily by finding alternative to replace the materialistic goal.the alternatives i mean is LIFE EXPERIENCE, to get more life experience is by travelling all over the world and see/discover the place you never been, learn foreign culture, way of life, different experience, etc etc.. in current world not everyone able to do that because of RESTRICTION of money. this is just stupid, and thats why with liberalization and freedom of 5 sector ive mentioned, this week, you can just volunteer 2 hours per day in a country, next week again you can go other country as long as volunteer for 2 hours work per day. you can travel all over the globe for your whole life, there are 197 countries in the world, this is will almost no need require of any money to do so. Further discussion & criticism of this topic at here — http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1550429

VTV September 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

I will be debunking this article on my radio show tonight at 7PM ET.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/v-radio/2010/09/06/brandy-hume-returns-to-confront-austrian-neo-troll

Erik Bruhwiler September 7, 2010 at 12:49 am

The monetary economy will probably die via automation, as workers are automated out of jobs, thus the citizenry lacks money to buy, and the cycle is broken, as Fresco of TVP predicted.

Mainstream media is catching on (CNN article today). The game is changing, and the event horizon is coming at us fast:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/06/10/news/economy/unemployment_layoffs_structural.fortune/index.htm

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