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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5413/the-worst-article-ever/

The Worst Article Ever?

August 2, 2006 by

In this piece, I deal with a writer who can’t understand why her local grocery store sells food from all over the world when, in her view, local farmers should be the suppliers. That would save energy in transport, she says. If consumers in Manhattan are willing to pay for certain quantities of fuel to be devoted to getting them spinach from China, who is this author to second-guess that outcome? FULL ARTICLE.

{ 49 comments }

Person August 2, 2006 at 9:47 am

While the article was dumb (the one Murphy was criticizing, I mean), I don’t see how it was much dumber than the stuff that we typically see from protectionists.

First Murphy mentions Taylor’s awe about how much energy is “wasted” in bringing the spinach there. I see people comment about that all the time. Kevin Carson makes a more sophisticated version (though still ultimately flawed) of this argument by pointing out governmental factors that detach economic actors from the true expenses of the transport, including land space for the road and pollution. (I disagree with Carson because I think the net effect of intervention goes the opposite way, but I won’t want to go too far off topic.) I think that’s what Taylor was thinking about, even if (like many people here) she couldn’t precisely narrow down what really bothered her about importing produce from China.

Next, Murphy quotes Taylor’s concerns about the riskiness of relying on imports for a certain good. While Murphy’s reply is of course valid, Taylor is not close to being alone in making the argument. It’s common for people to say, “oh, free trade is good, but not for essentials because of the threat of a breakdown in supply — would you trust other nations to make military equipment?” That line of thinking if I recall featured prominently into the plot of Rising Sun.

Next, Murphy quotes the strangely-worded bit about businessmen “making money” shipping out food when the Chinese “need it at home”. That is odd, but I think Taylor was maybe thinking about forced labor, and how the Chinese might not be voluntarily exporting the food, which is another common criticism of China.

Murphy was right on target to mock the concen, present in Taylor’s piece, that businesses might not produce the right amount of one good over another, but this exact fallacy is present in droves among Peak Oilers. They worry that oil purchasers aren’t setting the right futures prices, or that suppliers will somehow not think to ship from shorter distances as prices rise, or didn’t explore alternatives before choosing a fuel-intensive process. (And of course, they never invest in underpriced oil futures themselves.)

So, while Murphy’s critique was well-written and entertaining, I’m sad to say that the dumbness in Taylor’s piece is not significantly different from many others who write on foreign trade.

Anonymous August 2, 2006 at 10:17 am

How do you know Kevin Carson’s critique of government subsidies to transportation is flawed? The free-market might never have produced an interstate highway system, and even if it did corporations would have to pay higher prices for shipping things on it.

banker August 2, 2006 at 10:25 am

I don’t think there is any point to mention the interstate system or public road systems in a distortion argument. It is really a sunk cost that no company can affect. So everyone has to adapt to this situation.

Yancey Ward August 2, 2006 at 10:35 am

Anonymous,

Of course, one could reply, “How do you know that corporations would pay higher prices for shipping things on a free-market interstate highway system than they do on the publicly funded one?”

In other words, we could play these games the life-long day and get nowhere.

David K. Meller August 2, 2006 at 10:42 am

Cheer up! At least she is not (yet) the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the chief of the Council of Economic Advisors, the director of the OMB, the Chair of some House or Senate Committee on Trade or Economic policy, or some other bureau(c)rat in the State apparatus whose idiocy and ignorance, often exploited by corrupt and politically connected interests, results in destructive and counterproductive policies along with much undeserved suffering for the rest of us.

Miss Taylor’s ignorance and blindness are symptoms are merely symptoms of a disease that currently runs through the newsmedia, educational systems, and legal and judicial machinery of our society. There is little doubt that she is merely parroting what she heard on some “talk show”, some college course in “economics” which she may have taken, or overheard from a friend who took it, or from some newspaper editorials which she read.

That her little article could be printed just shows the Mises Institute and other libertarians that we still have a massive educational job to do, not so much with her and people like her, ( she is probably hopeless, and even if she read Hazlitt or Rothbard, would probably get them all wrong anyway), but for people who realize that they are being misled, that existing trade, monetary, and regulatory policy is inherently defective, and are observant and perceptive enough to want something better.

We libertarians are that “something better”!!

Miss Taylor’s opinions, by themselves, could harm nobody but herself (and perhaps those who would deal with her personally). It is only when folly is raised to the level of official State policy, and enforced BY LAW, that we must concern ourselves with, and fight with every means at our disposal.

I think that we can do this!

“Yield not to evil, but resist it with courage!”–Ludwig von Mises

PEACE AND FREEDOM!!
David K. Meller

Ike Hall August 2, 2006 at 11:06 am

Mr. Murphy,

Great article! I was just wondering, though, did you submit it as a Letter to the Editor, or to the author herself? I kind of doubt she would ever bother to look for it here.

The same holds for any of the authors on this site: a critical examination of an external article should be forwarded to the other publisher’s editorial boards as well, IMHO. Shall I forward this article, or have you already done so?

RPM August 2, 2006 at 11:22 am

Ike,

Nah I didn’t forward it to her. Please do so if you want.

M E Hoffer August 2, 2006 at 11:22 am

Mr. Murphy,

Does not the body of your critque rest on the presumption that our Financial Price signaling mechanism is unperturbed?

In other words, that the Financial Prices we see are wholly, and wholesomely, transmitting all Costs(?)

I find it curious that you stop at the point of “Financial Cost of Transportation”, from China.

As well, where is she calling for Trade Barriers or other forms of Gov’t Intervention?

The only thing I see is her telling others: vote with your “dollars” in the marketplace of goods( and ideas), and watch the change you can effect.

Are we reading the same article?
http://thelmagazine.com/4/14/conscientiousobjector/conscientiousobjector.cfm

David Spellman August 2, 2006 at 1:06 pm

Good question, too bad she didn’t look for the answer

It is true that Ms. Taylor’s conclusion was to call for voluntary action on the part of her readers. For that matter, whether she understood implications of her proposal or not, she admitted that following her advice would cost a few dollars more. The fundamental flaw in her argument is that she thinks that importing food from China has got to be somehow more expensive (money, labor, energy, etc.) but knows that buying food locally is actually going to be more expensive. I feel like screaming the proverbial “Hello? Don’t you get it? Are you blind?”

Ms. Taylor does ask a very good question, viz., “How can food from China compete with food grown locally?” The problem is that she believes a priori that surely it can’t be true, proceeds to detail speciously why it must not be true, and ignores the actual fact that it obviously is true because the proof is sitting in the frozen food section right before her eyes. It would be much more intellectually impressive if she researched why the Chinese spinach business was thriving and became informed rather than publicizing her mindless ignorance.

Perhaps such a study would reveal nefarious underpinnings, such as forced labor in China or crazy government regulations and subsidies that favor imports over local farming. Publicizing this kind of information could actually make her desire to help local farmers as well as Chinese workers come to fruition. Maybe then consumers would buy local produce because it was cheaper without government intervention to twist market forces in bizarre ways.

So, yes, Ms. Taylor’s article was a waste of good pulp wood. Not because there was not story to tell, but because she chose to occupy the pages with a fantasy rather than reveal truth. As long as our emperors want to claim to be clothed, I guess we get to ridicule their nakedness.

Chris Meisenzahl August 2, 2006 at 1:25 pm

Great column!

Vince Daliessio August 2, 2006 at 1:35 pm

She makes a basic yet fundamental error – she is mixing up fresh spinach with frozen spinach. They may both have “spinach” in their names, and may even be genetically identical, but fresh spinach and frozen spinach are different products purchased at different times and for different purposes – she implicitly realizes this in her article without grasping the implications. It’s very similar to an article about “wasteful” bottled water that I demolished a while ago;

http://www.libertyguys.org/articles/detail.asp?ArtID=869

In short, most of her error is actually due to a rather subtle but important difference that is easy for a non-economist to miss.

David Spellman August 2, 2006 at 1:51 pm

If the Interstate highway system would not have been built without the government, that is prima fascia evidence that the Interstate highway system is a bad thing and should not have been built. The free market would either have done it cheaper or better.

If the government did not subsidize the interstates, at a minimum the railroads already existed and provided cost-effective transportation. And wouldn’t you know it, I think that railroads also have the virtue of polluting less per ton transported and using less energy per ton transported. In fact, railroads are still operating, although the size of the rail network has dramatically decreased partly due to competition with subsidized truck transportation and those crazy government regulations. Now the railroads have their own bed-fellow history of government coziness, but at least they illustrate an alternative.

Airline transportation is increasingly becoming a commodity carrier, too. In the absence of interstates cutting ugly scars across the nation, perhaps we could have cluttered the skies with transport jets. Market forces might have impelled the invention of giant aircraft to move our goods around the nation, thus relieving us of congested “freeways” that cost millions, pollute our cities, and imprison us for endless hours of commuting. And all that aircraft innovation may have brought George Jetson-like person flying machines instead of the rolling coffins we now enjoy.

No, I don’t think the Interstate highway system was a good idea. I would rather have found out what the alternatives were, even if I paid tolls on private roads. I sure don’t like the outcome we got with suburban sprawl along the highways.

lucretius August 2, 2006 at 2:05 pm

The dumb article being criticized also mentioned China’s “food shortage,” claiming that we should allow capitalist greed of the Chinese to starve the poor Chinese people who don’t have enough spinach to eat. Well, just for those of you who don’t know, there’s more food in China than anywhere else in the world. In fact, no trader joe’s can ever match 10% of the products available at a normal Chinese market, and most products at trader joe’s are at least ten times as expensive as the same products in China, which is why people can ship spinach across the pacific ocean and still make a lot of money.

lucretius August 2, 2006 at 2:06 pm

typo in above post: should be “should not allow capitalist greed…”

anonymous August 2, 2006 at 2:41 pm

Is it possible that Ms. Taylor is CORRECT? Doesn’t government policy makes it cheaper and easier to get food from abroad? Would it help our economy, and therefore everyone, if food at the supermarket was bought locally? Isn’t that the point of her article?

Curt Howland August 2, 2006 at 3:18 pm

“Or does Taylor really think that without the farsighted guidance from her and other environmentalists, the capitalist fat cats would turn every farm into a parking lot or shopping center?”

In my considered option, after decades of reading and discussing just such issues with the various public school graduates I have associated with, that this is exactly what Ms. Taylor believes.

I just saw on the History Channel how awful the factory conditions were in the textile industry in North Carolina, before activists and labor organizers motivated the workers to challenge the “owners” to improve conditions and wages.

Too bad no one cares to mention that since then, all textile manufacturing has vanished from North Carolina.

Ms. Taylor would, of course, believe there is no connection what so ever.

Yancey Ward August 2, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Anonymous#2,

Is it really possible that domestic government policy favors foreign farmers more than domestic?

For some reason, I doubt the answer is yes.

Vince Daliessio August 2, 2006 at 3:33 pm

“Is it possible that Ms. Taylor is CORRECT?”

No, not really.

“Doesn’t government policy makes it cheaper and easier to get food from abroad?”

Completely absurd. Government policies (subsidies and trade restrictions) DO have a bad effect on domestic prices, though it differs depending on the product under consideration. So what’s the answer? More trade restrictions? Everyone paying even more?

“Would it help our economy, and therefore everyone, if food at the supermarket was bought locally?”

What do “our economy”, “help”, and “locally” even MEAN? And do you just mean supermarkets?

“Isn’t that the point of her article?”

To my mind, the point of her article (not that she makes it) seems to be that she thinks she should be buying New York spinach and not Chinese spinach. She has every right to do so, and freeze it herself. But it will cost her, and everyone else who does this, more money. Why should her poor economic decisionmaking affect anyone else?

George Gaskell August 2, 2006 at 3:48 pm

Ms. Taylor’s idea of near-total domestic self-sufficiency is certainly nothing new. As I recall, it was a prominent feature of Lincoln’s agenda, premised on the absurd notion that transportation of goods was a waste of time, money and manpower.

It was this deeply flawed idea that, in turn, led to his support for high protectionist tariffs. And we all know how that turned out.

I wish I could put my hands on it at the moment, but I also recall an excellent analysis of Germany’s economic policies in the 1930s. Protectionism was very popular, fueling much of the nationalist sentiment. It is a very short series of hops from “Buy Locally” to “Foreigners are ruining us” to “Auslander Raus.”

Protectionism and wars of conquest are very closely related. When one successfully enacts protectionism as governmental policy, that’s when the real problems start. Total Domestic Economic Self-sufficiency is touted as a panacea, but we all know it is the road to stagnation and then decline (witness the Soviet bloc).

When Total Economic Self-sufficiency inside one’s national borders leads to constant economic decline, the next logical step (according to this deranged agenda) is to attempt to solve these problems by … expanding the borders!

It’s why the North didn’t want to let the South secede, and it’s why Germany wanted Poland, Czechoslovakia and France inside it’s economic sphere.

Sione August 2, 2006 at 4:40 pm

anonymous (you coward you)

You have committed exactly the same error as the weenie who wrote of her feelings in regards to Chinese spinach. Neither of you possess any of the facts and neither of you have bothered to seek them out for yourself. This is willful ignorance.

Had you bothered to even keep up with a little of the international news lately (yes I know things that occur outside the USA are seem strange and far away for you, but a little effort would bring rewards) you would have heard about the latest trade round negotiations and how they broke down. It seems an issue of contention was the US (and EU) govt subsidisation and govt protectionism of domestic farmers.

An Indian delegate stated, “Indian farmers can compete with US farmers but they can’t compete with the US Treasury.”

There’s a clue for you right there.

To conclude; with a little reading and a little searching you will eventually locate the facts. You should try.

Sione

Dennis Crow August 2, 2006 at 4:48 pm

First, thank you Mr. Murphy for a very reasonable opinion. The discourse these days is so rife with ignorance and fear, it seems pointless at times to even try to be reasonable.
Second, without any solid evidence, I’m guessing that the root of Ms. Taylor’s issue with the distance food travels to our plates (and a good deal many other people as well) has something to do with “Powerful Interests”‘ (Governments, Corporations, market sectors who lobby for power) ability to ‘rig’ free market forces in their short term favor.
In this world today, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE TRADE!! Trade is rigged in blatant and subtle ways.
Probably, things are getting better. And in some cases, worse. Check out the ‘net neutrality’ debate if you want a serious case study of economic psychosis. You can guess that I am not on the side of the Telcos, Cable Cos and their minions.
Anyway, thanks for a reasonable opinion.

Dennis Crow August 2, 2006 at 4:48 pm

First, thank you Mr. Murphy for a very reasonable opinion. The discourse these days is so rife with ignorance and fear, it seems pointless at times to even try to be reasonable.
Second, without any solid evidence, I’m guessing that the root of Ms. Taylor’s issue with the distance food travels to our plates (and a good deal many other people as well) has something to do with “Powerful Interests”‘ (Governments, Corporations, market sectors who lobby for power) ability to ‘rig’ free market forces in their short term favor.
In this world today, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE TRADE!! Trade is rigged in blatant and subtle ways.
Probably, things are getting better. And in some cases, worse. Check out the ‘net neutrality’ debate if you want a serious case study of economic psychosis. You can guess that I am not on the side of the Telcos, Cable Cos and their minions.
Anyway, thanks for a reasonable opinion.

neil August 2, 2006 at 4:49 pm

I really liked the part at the end where she literally compared apples and oranges. (Drink apple juice, it’s yummier than orange juice!)

Uh, yeah.

john foster August 2, 2006 at 4:50 pm

I notice in the photo for this article banannas are 49 cents a pound … wow, those prices suck.
I got 3lbs of banannas at Sam’s club for 80 cents… that’s 19 cents a pound. Screw the Green Grocer, his prices suck.

Andy F August 2, 2006 at 4:55 pm

Although the article is misguided, there is one point in its favor that I think disqualifies it from any sort of “worst. article. ever.” hyperbole:

She doesn’t advocate any coercive (government) action! Not even implicitly! Assuming there was a problem with Chinese produce (which is completely up to consumer preference), she advocates the correct solution: increase public awareness and use non-coercive market choices to express that opinion — “vote with your dollar.”

Of course, her justification of the problem is dubious at best, so I won’t be changing my behavior one bit. In fact, the more I hear about Trader Joe’s the more I like it.

Jacob Steelman August 2, 2006 at 5:17 pm

Who cares how much energy is expended in the production of anything. Supply and demand provides the necessary allocation. I like snow peas but when the soared to A$24.99 a kilo I stopped eating them – now they are A$4.99 a kilo. Send Ms Taylor a copy of Leonard Read’s I Pencil so she can see how little she knows about the production and sale of goods in this global economy.

Jacob Steelman August 2, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Who cares how much energy is expended in the production of anything. Supply and demand provides the necessary allocation. I like snow peas but when they recently here soared to A$24.99 a kilo here in Sydney I stopped eating them – now they are A$4.99 a kilo. Send Ms Taylor a copy of Leonard Read’s I Pencil so she can see how little she knows about the production and sale of goods in this global economy.

R. Lechleiter August 2, 2006 at 6:16 pm

The ignorance of pompous fools, like Taylor, is revolting. It’s hard to keep my eyes from rolling out of my head when I hear environmentalist “solutions”. One would think that cognitive dissonance would awake them to reason at some point.

Curran Kemp August 2, 2006 at 6:45 pm

Taylor’s article demonstrates the lack of basic economic understand amoungst the general population. As an example, the price of bananas have been a topic here in Australia for the past few months. Currently, it cost the average consumer around $12 / kg (aud) ($4.15 /lb usd) for bananas. The logic in Ms. Taylors arguement is being tried here in Australia, where importation of bananas are prohibited. Unfortuately, being an American and trying to explain to the general Australian public why bananas cost so much, is similar to the basic lack of economics given in much of the worlds population.

Anonymous August 2, 2006 at 7:30 pm

Of course, one could reply, “How do you know that corporations would pay higher prices for shipping things on a free-market interstate highway system than they do on the publicly funded one?”

I guess you could make that reply if you were dumb as a brick. However, if you wanted to make a substantive reply, I assume it would involve arguing that the free-market would produce a highway system of some sort, and further than large corporations would develop and profit extensively from it. I’m not going to hold my breath though.

Bill August 2, 2006 at 7:57 pm

This definitely was not the worst article ever. There was NO call for force against those who disagree with her. Contrast that with the NY Times and its editorial staff who consistently call for redistribution by force. Contrast that with the current administration who is forcing us to pay for two wars, prescription drugs for seniors and 2 digit percent increases in just about all other government programs.

George Gaskell August 2, 2006 at 8:23 pm

She doesn’t advocate any coercive (government) action! Not even implicitly! … There was NO call for force against those who disagree with her.

That is certainly true. People can be voluntarily stupid, and it doesn’t bother me one bit.

But this sort of sentiment is almost always the precursor to a call to government action. It is a sentiment that attempts to express the moral case for protectionism. It’s the set-up. Policy to follow.

You cannot tell me that this author, so obviously ignorant of basic economic principles, would not, at least, be sympathetic to some form of overt protectionist aggression, if not enthusiastically in favor of it. What are the odds?

quincunx August 2, 2006 at 8:35 pm

“I’m not going to hold my breath though.”

But you’ll still use ‘em, no?

“I guess you could make that reply if you were dumb as a brick.”

And what evidence do you have for your speculation?

Perhaps your retroactive speculation ability can be applied to various other fields. Is there other insights you can share with us?

Anonymous August 2, 2006 at 10:29 pm

And what evidence do you have for your speculation?

Actually I don’t need evidence, since it’s true a priori that those who respond to honest questions with empty sarcasm are acting no smarter than a brick. Surely you Austrian types can appreciate that. :)

Vanmind August 2, 2006 at 11:16 pm

On a regular basis I make conscious decisions to purchase AMD-based computers over Intel-based computers (I used to buy Cyrix as well). My rationalization has been that I am helping foster competition in the CPU industry.

Could someone set me straight on this? I’ve been doing similar things my whole adult life with products of all kinds, always considering the extra $ I might spend to be part of my charitable contribution for a given year (I don’t cut cheques to any “charitable organizations”). Should I forget about such purchases and just buy Intel computers (for example) if I conclude that Intel chips are–at the moment, at least–superior?

I know, I know: buy whatever your heart desires–just like that Taylor woman chooses to buy local produce at elevated prices. What’s the deal? Who’s the doofus?

Daniel M. Ryan August 3, 2006 at 12:10 am

Maybe you’re not one, Vanmind, unless “doofus” partially means “sucker.” You certainly have made a better impression than Miss Anonymous has, because you lack latent self-righteousness.

David C August 3, 2006 at 12:34 am

In all fairness, it wasn’t that bad. I started reading it assuming it would be another statist with some master scheme to take credit for saving society while ruining the lives of millions. Instead it was some lady just saying go to your local foodstands, and musing off on a bunch of other wild tangents. I see worse garbage from the fed every day.

The truth is, those observations could lead to a compelling business case. Maybe US markets are overpriced because we restrict immigrant labor. Maybe Chinese markets are underpriced because they peg their currency to the dollar no matter how much we water it down. Maybe we should go to the local food stands – cause when the US dollar goes to hell God only knows what’s going to happen to the imports. Maybe our farms are taxed too much for property, income, and regulated too much by the FDA. And trucking, they microregulate truck drivers down to quarter hour intervals – it really is that bad. Since shipping is on international waters, you don’t have nearly as much of a headache. Also, who knows. Maybe renting a sky-scraper in NYC and filling it up with spinich plants and greenhouse lights would be cheaper and more energy efficient but no company has been willing to take the risk. (she should go into raising capital)

Of course the real truth is that she was probably just paid by the CSA to write this, and came up with a bunch of emotional arguments to back it up. As far as people starving in China, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Starvation in China pretty much ended when the farmers revolted against communist land reform and the government was forced to back down or face collapse. Before that, millions of people died of starvation.

quincunx August 3, 2006 at 2:06 am

“Actually I don’t need evidence, since it’s true a priori that those who respond to honest questions with empty sarcasm are acting no smarter than a brick. Surely you Austrian types can appreciate that. :)”

You asserted that free markets would not produce a cheap effective highway system WITHOUT EVIDENCE.

Roads were nationalized by force, not under-supplied or expensive. Since food can also be delivered by train or by plane, the same argument goes for them as well.

That is what I was referring to as ‘your retroactive speculation’

Talk about dumb as bricks…I think it was pretty clear that I was referring to your disagreement with Ward.

Your response to him only serves to prove the very thing you accuse him of.

So are you going to provide us with more information (as to your speculation) or should we not hold our breath?

Bev August 3, 2006 at 4:42 am

Great article!

Le Chien August 3, 2006 at 4:55 am

Not at all the worst article ever. Ms Taylor utters her personal beliefs and asks for voluntary individual action based on those beliefs, twisted as they may be.

But she does not call for government interference of any kind, does she? That´s good. Many other articles
do so and therefore are a lot worse, in my opinion.

Yancey Ward August 3, 2006 at 8:54 am

Anonymous,

I often use sarcasm when I should just make the explicit point.

How do you know that corporations would pay more for interstate highway use than they do now for the public variety?

The reason I used sarcasm is that you seemed to imply that they pay nothing now. To the best of my knowledge, corporations pay income taxes, excise taxes (including fuel taxes and weight taxes), and licensing fees of all kinds. In other words, their use of the public system today is not free. So, one need not be dumb as a brick to question your assertion.

Anonymous August 3, 2006 at 12:50 pm

You asserted that free markets would not produce a cheap effective highway system WITHOUT EVIDENCE.

quincunx (aka “the inexhaustible fountain of faulty logic”):

Saying that a free market would help everyone in one respect is clearly not the same as asserting it would help one group in particular above everyone else in that respect. However, since you seem incapable of grasping this distinction I suppose I shouldn’t expect you to understand my question.

Yancey Ward:

The reason I used sarcasm is that you seemed to imply that they pay nothing now.

They gain a disproportionate amount of the benefits, yes, since they make the most use of the roads.

Anonymous August 3, 2006 at 12:53 pm

So, one need not be dumb as a brick to question your assertion.

Well considering that you didn’t offer any remarks of substance until your third post I think we’ll let the audience decide who is more deserving of “brickhood”. :)

Yancey Ward August 3, 2006 at 1:18 pm

Anonymous,

Actually, I asked a question, and I repeated it. I note that you simply answered with another assertion, and it is ironic since your very first comment took another to task for making an assertion.

quincunx August 3, 2006 at 1:52 pm

“They gain a disproportionate amount of the benefits, yes, since they make the most use of the roads.”

Still awaiting the proof…

“However, since you seem incapable of grasping this distinction I suppose I shouldn’t expect you to understand my question.”

Your question is a valid one, but you offer no proof. Show us that the net taxes paid by transport companies is less than the benefits received, and then show how people who buy goods resulting from cheap transport are NOT subsidized indirectly.

Then prove to us that if roads, railroads, and airlines were not nationalized (heavily regulated) both would not have produced a cheaper more effective highway system in absolute real terms for both drivers and transporters. (You scoffed at the idea, which is why it was retroactive speculation)

The point is that without a free market to be able to quantitatively account for this, you are stuck with a mere speculation, which you obviously can not prove, so you have to bark instead.

“quincunx (aka “the inexhaustible fountain of faulty logic”):”

Says the man who must appeal to the audience when they don’t have substantial arguments to back up their position.

Anonymous August 3, 2006 at 2:40 pm

Still awaiting the proof…

It’s pretty clear to me that large corporations are benefiting the most from the highway system. Is it not clear to you?

The point is that without a free market to be able to quantitatively account for this, you are stuck with a mere speculation, which you obviously can not prove, so you have to bark instead.

What a coincidence, we don’t live in a free market. Thus, without a free market you are also stuck with mere speculation, which you obviously cannot (or will not) prove either.

Says the man who must appeal to the audience when they don’t have substantial arguments to back up their position.

If you’re seriously interested in the issue then you could try reading some of Kevin Carson’s stuff on the highway system. Or you could just keep barking, whatever dude.

Mark Anderson August 3, 2006 at 3:36 pm

Okay, I agree with Bob that the problem isn’t with importing goods. However, Amanda Park Taylor does make an important observation: It costs more to supply domestic produce than it does foreign.

As an Austrian Schooler, that should be a concern. Why this comparative advantage? Is it due to organic, market forces, or is it due to government interference driving up costs? Remember what David Hume wrote. Remember what Murray Rothbard wrote. Inflation drives up costs, increasing our dependance upon cheaper foreign markets to supply goods.

Where I would disagree with Amanda and others on is that more government intervention is necessary to curtail this trade “deficit.” Protectionist schemes such as tariffs will do nothing to resurrect domestic productivity, but will completely destroy us.

quincunx August 4, 2006 at 6:50 pm

” Thus, without a free market you are also stuck with mere speculation, which you obviously cannot (or will not) prove either.”

Bah! I have said that already. I know I can not prove my position, but we have the logic of human action to predict what would have happened without road nationalization 150 yrs ago. You scoff at this, and provide no proof or logical reasoning as to why your speculation may be more appropriate than mine.

If you can not provide the statistics, please give me some logical reasoning. That is really all I want.

“It’s pretty clear to me that large corporations are benefiting the most from the highway system. Is it not clear to you?”

NO! I want to see that they do not put more money in than they get out!

I also want you to consider that freight trucks pay much higher toll fees, must use different routes in some cases, must use weight stations, can not use the left lane, and are subject to much higher regulation (including license fees, shipment inspection, customs, etc).

I do not deny the fact that perception may lead one to that conclusion. This I grant you, and always have, but I want to be correct before making sweeping generalizations without scientific rigour.

It’s sort of like the socialist watching the money being put into a cash register, and assuming that it’s all profit. In fact most people that are not familiar with business actually believe that profits are multifactors higher than they are in reality.

“If you’re seriously interested in the issue then you could try reading some of Kevin Carson’s stuff on the highway system. ”

I have read his stuff a while ago, if I recall correctly, he fails to do the same thing I accuse you of. If you think differently please provide a concrete link where he discusses all the issues I have raised above.

” Or you could just keep barking, whatever dude.”

This sounds familiar.

MCLA August 8, 2006 at 8:05 am

“Indian farmers can compete with US farmers but they can’t compete with the US Treasury.”

The Indian delegate could have been more accurate and said, “Indian farmers can compete with US farmers but the Indian Treasury can’t compete with the US Treasury.”

The Indian farmers are quite a pampered lot with no income tax, subsidised seeds and fertilisers, floor prices for crops, and sometimes even free electricity. The Govt does what it can to rob others and keep the farmers happy since they are the biggest voting block. Unfortunately, with 70% people engaged in farming the Govt doesn’t have enough money to pass around. That’s where it loses to the US Treasury.

Of course, all this pampering hasn’t done the average farmer any good. He is clinging to an unprofitable, medieval system in the hope that some politician or other is going to bail him out. When the promised help doesn’t materialise he commits suicide.

Cheers!
MCLA

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