What We Talk about When We Talk About Free Trade

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  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Here’s the insight:

    When you talk about legislation, you need to not think about the people who will, of course, follow the law.

    You need to think about who is most likely to not follow it.
    And whether you’re willing to kill them.Report

    • Avatar SaulDegraw in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      I think this is hyperbole. There are plenty of people who try to get around the FSLA but civil lawsuits from employees over wages and hours seems to keep most honest.

      The same is true with most regulations.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to SaulDegraw
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        says:

        Dude. Baltimore happened a couple of days ago.

        We’re not in in realm of “hyperbole”. We’re in the realm of “WHAT IN THE HECK DO YOU THINK WILL HECKING HAPPEN???”

        For small values of “heck”.Report

        • Avatar SaulDegraw in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I wonder if this is what separates liberals from libertarians and/or anarchists.

          I am able to differentiate between what happened in Baltimore and good uses of law and government to ensure liberty, dignity, and decency.

          Would libertarians and anarchists just call this compartmentaliazation? I think your system will lead to more corporate abuse and environmental damage?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to SaulDegraw
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            says:

            It wasn’t corporations or the environment putting the negroes in vans and giving them rough rides, Saul.

            Let me know when you finally knit your brow and say “wait, seriously, this is not what I wanted when I said I wanted what it was that I said I wanted.”Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          Jaybird,

          Are you trying to seriously suggest that cops are going to descend upon C-suites and Wall Street to indiscriminately kick and kill some white collar types for violating trade regulations?

          If the world actually worked that way I’m pretty sure Baltimore never would have happened.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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            says:

            Maybe we can get some cops, someday, who will only enforce the *GOOD* laws on the books.

            That’ll be awesome.Report

            • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              We don’t really have the kind of laws on the books that Saul is talking about now and black folk are getting rough rides. And how… I don’t even…

              Dude, this is the longest reach I’ve ever seen you make. Sober up and come back when you’re ready to make some sense. You’re so far off the wall you’re not even wrong. It’s like the bastard love child of you and Kimmie. On acid.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                Oh, so we’re talking about a law we’re not talking about enforcing?

                Sweet.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                No, I would hope the regulations, whatever they may be, would be enforced. But trying to link the enforcement of corporate regulations to the crap minorities and the poor have to deal with when dealing with the cops on the street is just… wrong. It doesn’t make sense, and worse, it’s the kind of rhetorical dick move that I would expect from the most odious commentary on Fox.

                Frankly, I expected better from you, and it bothers me that I’m forced to think less of you now. As a human being. Yuck.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                Well, I hope you’re right. I hope that the laws applied against the most powerful will mirror those applied against those who don’t quite have as many lobbyists.

                For the sake of how you think about me, personally.

                Because, God freaking knows, this is about how you think about me.

                For small values of “freaking”.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird: Well, I hope you’re right. I hope that the laws applied against the most powerful will mirror those applied against those who don’t quite have as many lobbyists.

                None of which has a freaking thing to do with Baltimore. For big freaking values of freaking.

                But thanks for reminding me why it’s a waste of time to take libertarians seriously.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                The next time an American city catches fire because of stuff like white flight, libertarian neglect, and conservatives moving to the suburbs, please try to remember the type of stuff we talked about.

                Or, seriously, who cares? It only happens to people that couldn’t pass as us kinda folks, amirite?Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird,

                Remind me again just what the fuck any of that has to do with international trade regulations. Even remotely. Vaguely.

                Jay the ThreadJack strikes again.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                Out of curiosity, do you have an opinion on Mexican freight truckers?

                Or would that be changing the topic of what we talk about when we talk about free trade?Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird:
                Out of curiosity, do you have an opinion on Mexican freight truckers?

                Or would that be changing the topic of what we talk about when we talk about free trade?

                That’s totally within the purview of international trade.

                I suppose you expect me to oppose it, but I don’t really care that much as long as they comply with all the same regs I have to. Which usually they can’t. My company owns a Mexican trucking company and we have five border terminals for Mexican trade. It’s just another damn load.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                Which usually they can’t.

                Is this due to privilege on your part or racism on the part of the people who don’t care whether you meet the regulations?Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Jaybird:
                Which usually they can’t.

                Is this due to privilege on your part or racism on the part of the people who don’t care whether you meet the regulations?

                Neither. Mexico is where used American cars and trucks go to die a slow lingering death. On average they’re quite a bit older and poorly maintained. Safety inspection south of the border is mostly an opportunity for civil “servants” to exercise graft. IOW, inspection by bribery. So the simple fact is that your average Mexican truck can’t pass a standard federal DOT inspection.

                And that shit actually matters. I’ve had inspectors find a cracked wheel, a cracked frame, and loose brake pads. The first two are things I should have caught but didn’t. The last is impossible to discover on a routine pre- or post-trip inspection. All are extremely hazardous and I thanked the inspectors afterwards. They’re also defects that you’re much more likely to find on older equipment.

                Some parts of our government actually work pretty well. Babies and bathwater, dude.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                But obviously not the Mexican government. And we don’t care enough – don’t care at all – about dead Mexicans to do anything about it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe
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                says:

                Pithy and tangential comment about Operation Fast & Furious here.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Road Scholar
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            says:

            Eric Garner was killed in an altercation that started over suspicion that he was violating trade restrictions.Report

            • Avatar Notme in reply to Brandon Berg
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              says:

              @brandon-berg

              Just to be correct that is what he was under arrest for, he died while resisting arrest, a separate crime. You’d think if you were fat and had breathing issues you wouldnt resist arrest.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Brandon Berg
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              says:

              And people have been shot when pulled over for traffic violations so….what then? No traffic laws? Prisoners have been killed in custody before this situation in Balt. But some of those guys were either convicted or lawfully detained so….what then? No locking people up at all or no arresting people even when done appropriately?

              I’m fine if say single cigs should be legal to sell, but its the violence that is the problem. In the current case in Balt they arrested the guy for something between a shifty look and running away. The cops will always fine something if they have the twisted, oppressive mindset. That is the issue, violent cops who are occupying a place instead of doing their job properly.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to greginak
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                says:

                It’s a question of cost vs. benefit. Traffic violations are a real problem. That stuff kills people. While less than ideal, I consider the increased risk of violent police-driver encounters to be an acceptable trade-off for cracking down on dangerous drivers. I’m not so keen on increasing the risk of violent police-citizen encounters in order to stop people from engaging in commerce.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Brandon Berg
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                says:

                @brandon-berg Well yeah i agree. That gets back to Saul’s question. It seems impossible to talk about what regs are good and what aren’t. It seems because of dogmatic thoughtless reactions. Regs can run the gamut from easily justifiable and simple to gray areas to heck no. There is no simple answer. It depends on the reg and the situation.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg
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                says:

                And it’s hard to justify getting USDA inspectors murdered just to stop a few people from being poisoned by bad sausages.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                That was 15 years ago. USDA agents are better armed now, but of course, that causes the dirty hippies to throw a fit.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                Since we don’t want people poisoned by bad sausages, how do we deal with regulatory enforcement that is unjust? IIRC, taking action against an inspector with a bug up his ass with regard to an inspectee is about as easy as taking action against cops who beat up suspects.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg
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                says:

                And whatever benefit bank regulations confer is hardly worth the number of bank employees that have been killed in no-knock liquidity coverage ratio enforcement raids.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                Maybe if we get enough regulations, we’ll finally start shooting bankers.

                Not, you know, as the result of punishment but just in the day to day issues of police officers being there. “I was in fear for my life”, “he had a letter opener”, “there were cameras everywhere”, etc.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      @jaybird
      “And whether you’re willing to kill them”
      Depends-
      Are we talking about selling loosies, or SEC violations?

      Because really, I can go either way.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Impressive thread jacking. At least the NDADHSPDQCIA is trying to stop that.Report

  3. Avatar LWA
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    says:

    I don’t know what anyone means by “smart regulation”- that just sounds like a buzzword for “regulations that I approve of”.
    But I will return to my point that all regulations have a built-in bias, in favor of the ones regulating.
    Its interesting that “free trade” requires volumes of regulations in order to work. That is, volumes of regulations defining whose rights are to be protected, and whose are not and thereby picking global winners and losers.

    Most of the left’s concern about TPP is the same as with NAFTA- that the majority of people’s interests are not being represented at the bargaining table.

    Imagine how different NAFTA would have been for example, had the sections on agriculture been crafted entirely by farm workers and environmental activists from both USA and Mexico, and agri-corporations had no say whatsoever.
    For that matter, consider why that scenario seems absurdly far fetched, yet its opposite does not, and you see why we have such skepticism about TPP.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA
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      says:

      But I will return to my point that all regulations have a built-in bias, in favor of the ones regulating.

      Keep going.Report

      • Avatar LWA (Lannister With Attitude) in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Oh, so maybe there should be no regulations at all?

        Except of course the ones protecting the rights of property holders.

        I need to stop watching so much Game of Thrones.Report

        • I’m not talking about legislation that has been captured in practice! I’m talking about theoretical legislation that hasn’t been captured in theory!

          How dare you conflate the two!Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Jaybird,

            Reading thru this thread, it seems to me you’re fundamentally opposed to the TPP (since it’s legislation that can be captured and lead to people being killed to enforce it), as well as opposed to opposition to the TPP.

            Those are really nice metajudgments to hold, covering literally all the bases your “opponents” might try to make a run for. So, what’s your positive proposal here? I mean, you’ve rejected a legislative solution to any of the trade issues Saul was trying to discuss. What’s left? Second amendment solutions you’ve been so keen on over the years?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              I’ve stopped assuming that legislation won’t be captured, that the enforcers won’t be corrupt, and that the short end of the stick won’t end up with the people we’re most trying to help.

              I love the idea of free trade between peoples. I think it’s downright awesome.

              I suspect that we’ll say something to the effect of “I didn’t want *THIS* to happen!” when it comes to any given implementation of it being captured.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                So what’s your take on the TPP, in particular wrt to Saul’s questions?

                I realize this is a tricky spot for you. Having to take a view of an actual policy that will, necessarily!, have impacts on our economy. I mean, playing the meta-judgment game is really fun and all (well, not really), but has nothing to do with what Saul was asking about, which is actually a very important and interesting question (j r’s rather blistering critique of the way it was phrased notwithstanding).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                It has to do with “who do we have a responsibility to?”

                If the answer is “our own citizens”, then protectionism will do a better job of helping out with such things as manufacturing jobs, unskilled labor, and so on in our country.

                If the answer is “everybody, our citizens or not”, then free trade will help the people who still have jobs in this country by making the things we’ve outsourced to other countries a lot cheaper (see, for example, Wal-Mart) and, at the same time, we’d be giving a lot of jobs to people in countries that have a much lower standard of living than we enjoy in this one.

                What’s our goal? What are we hoping to accomplish? Who are we trying to enrich? Because that changes the answer.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to LWA
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      says:

      Yeah regulating lead out of paints and gas was big loss for Big Lead and really screwed over people especially poor people.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LWA
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      says:

      @lwa

      That’s a good point about “smart regulation” as a phrase. The bias thing is also what I am really trying to get at. My preference for policies is to view people as both consumers and as workers. Our current policies seem to view people mainly as consumers.

      I suspect that this is because everyone benefits from 200 dollar flat screen TVs. The issue though with jobs is that not everyone benefited from NAFTA and not everyone benefits from the TPP. There are so many things going on in the job market right now, that I am not sure who benefits. The issue seems to be that we have more supply than demand for almost every conceivable job including high-skilled ones like academic, lawyer, and pharmacist. So this causes standards and decency to go down.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        The issue seems to be that we have more supply than demand for almost every conceivable job including high-skilled ones like academic, lawyer, and pharmacist. So this causes standards and decency to go down.

        This argument does not make much sense once you stop and think about it. You are essentially saying that having too much of something will reduce us all to poverty and that the only way that everyone can have a decent living is to limit the growth and ration the provision of goods and services to artificially inflate their value. It was that kind of thinking that led to the USDA burning crops during the Great Depression to try and keep ag prices high.

        Somehow you’ve convinced yourself that plenty is poverty and that scarcity leads to wealth. Stop and think about that for a second. Ask yourself how that can be the case.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r
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          says:

          j r,

          When Saul says “more supply than demand” I think he’s viewing it from the pov of labor: there is a glut of labor (in terms of skills, qualifications, training, whatever) relative to demand for those types of employees, Hence, the conclusion he arrives at. FWIW and all that.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to Stillwater
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            Sure, I get that. The problem is that price is a signal. It’s trying to tell you something. You generally have two choices as to what to do about those price signals. You can heed them and act accordingly or you can try to artificially prop up prices that you think are too low or cap prices that you think are too high. The latter sort of measures can work for a time, but invariably you’re treating the symptom, while the underlying condition persists.

            The fact that the world needs less and less rote manual labor is a sign that we are getting richer. Yes, there are implications to those who rely on their manual labor to make a living, but all protectionism does is delay the inevitable and keep people from making the necessary changes, thereby increasing the total amount of pain that change entails.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r
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              says:

              I disagree with some of the framing, though. We need more and more and more skilled labor and less and less and less unskilled labor.

              Now, we don’t necessarily need all kinds of skilled labor (academics and lawyers being two examples) but, for example, more and more repair people for the automated devices that we have replacing the unskilled labor.

              We’ll need more doctors and other jobs related to healthcare.

              The problem is that skilled labor needs a combination of formal training and informal on-the-job training of people who are unskilled labor.

              If we are unwilling to invest in the unskilled labor, it will remain unskilled. And if we keep replacing unskilled labor with wealth, we’re going to have unoccupied poor unskilled labor.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Jaybird
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                What is the demand for labor without the sum total of all protectionism?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Joe Sal
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                says:

                I’m not sure I understand the question. Skilled labor will always be in demand. Unskilled labor is what skilled labor starts out as and there’s a hell of a lot more of it. As such, demand for unskilled labor will tend to be met and unskilled labor will compete with itself to get a job.

                Skilled labor will tend to have employers competing to get employees.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I assume we have the highest level operating system of state capitalism(3) on the planet. What is our human capital waste compared with a capitalism(1) system?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Joe Sal
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                says:

                Oh, it’s probably pretty crappy. The fact that we keep importing unskilled labor isn’t helping matters much either.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Out of curosity, @jaybird what work do you consider unskilled labor? What workforce are we importing (as opposed to jobs we’re exporting) that are unskilled? Do you know this for fact, or is this what you think happens?

                I’m not saying we don’t import unskilled labor, but as I recall, peach farmers in Georgia left a crop on the ground because the unskilled migrant labor they hire is a lot more skilled than we realize, and they couldn’t find people willing to do the work for the wages offered.

                All those beautiful peaches, left to rot. Breaks a girl’s heart.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic
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                I suppose my definition of unskilled labor is labor that requires repetitive tasks that can be trained in a relatively short period of time and if there are judgment calls, they’re binary rather than really nuanced.

                What workforce are we importing? Until very recently, Mexican and Central American laborers who worked off of the books for a variety of reasons. They’ve stopped showing up in the huge numbers they had been showing up in, though.

                Insofar as “illegal immigration” is a topic, I’m willing to argue that it’s pretty much known.

                peach farmers in Georgia left a crop on the ground because the unskilled migrant labor they hire is a lot more skilled than we realize, and they couldn’t find people willing to do the work for the wages offered.

                They found out that it was cheaper to let the peaches rot than to pay people to collect them?

                I don’t know how to possibly resolve that problem.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                What workforce are we importing? Until very recently, Mexican and Central American laborers who worked off of the books for a variety of reasons. They’ve stopped showing up in the huge numbers they had been showing up in, though.

                Agriculture, construction, lawn care, house cleaning, day care, industrial food plants. That’s all work illegals do.

                You said we’re importing labor; we are. But if it’s not illegal, it’s more skilled labor. Nursing, for instance. Even as nursing-school grads can’t find work, even as hospitals are are applying for H1B visas.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic
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                I don’t know how to deal with the issue of importing skilled labor while citizens are looking for work. My desire for immigration and open borders is in tension with the thought that hospitals ought to be hiring Americans.

                Who are we trying to help, here?

                Do we want to keep health care costs down? Part of that is paying H1B prices for labor rather than American Citizen prices for it. But that means unemployment of American Citizens.

                The nativist in me wants to yell “HIRE THE AMERICAN!”Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
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                Actually, the way is to remove the profit motive, so you can pay nurses, doctors, and so on very well (as they do in socialist Britan), but not pay CEO’s anything since they don’t exist.

                The head of Medicare makes about $250k a year, because he’s a public employee. Sounds good to me.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r
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              says:

              The fact that the world needs less and less rote manual labor is a sign that we are getting richer.

              Here’s my worry: as the world gets richer it also gets smarter – more skilled, more refined in it’s expectations of work-life and more demanding of remuneration commensurate with a certain type of expected lifestyle. We’re already seeing that right now in the US, seems to me.

              So, as the world gets richer there will continue to be more demand for – and less supply of (by hypothesis!) – intellectually interesting, good paying jobs. I’m not sure those two things are directly contradictory, but the tension between them seems pretty dang close to it.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                So, as the world gets richer there will continue to be more demand for – and less supply of (by hypothesis!) – intellectually interesting, good paying jobs.

                As I’ve said before, at some point there is going to be a disconnect between intellectually interesting, engaging, challenging work and a job. There is any number of ways that this can happen, some of them good and some of them not so good.

                Part of the problem is that many of us still think of a job as something that an economy produces to give people something to do and a way to make a living. That view gets the causality somewhat backwards.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r
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              says:

              @j-r
              The fact that the world needs less and less rote manual labor is a sign that we are getting richer. Yes, there are implications to those who rely on their manual labor to make a living, but all protectionism does is delay the inevitable and keep people from making the necessary changes, thereby increasing the total amount of pain that change entails.

              ‘People’ in that last sentence is doing an awful lot of work, and you’re wrong limiting this to ‘manual labor’. The simple fact is that *labor* needed is decreasing, period. It might supposedly mostly be manual labor (Although this is not entirely true.), but other forms of labor are not *increasing*.

              People, as in, actual humans, cannot make ‘necessary changes’ and somehow make their labor needed again. A few of them might retrain to non-manual-labor jobs they are suited for, but that just means the people who were ‘supposed’ to have those jobs now don’t have a job. The ‘implications’ are really on everyone. (And, again, the restriction to ‘unskilled’ labor is artificial. Computers are doing a lot of things that were considered ‘skilled’ fairly recently.)

              What is needed is for the *system* to make the necessary changes. Not ‘people’.

              And then you start looking into who controls ‘the system’ and who is *stopping* these necessary changes from happening, and it turns out it’s the same people supporting the TPP in the first place…the owners of the multinational corporations who have all the money, and run around screaming how people who are ‘refusing’ to work are lazy and how taxes are theft and the social safety net should be reduced or removed.

              So let’s try an analogy here: A person (the people with jobs) has an untreated broken leg. Other people (multinational corporations) keep running up and kicking it (trade deals), while the person just wants to sit down for a while and walk as little as possible.

              You, @j-r , quite rightly point that the actual solution here is to treat the broken leg, and the people doing the kicking might actually be doing that person a favor if it makes him stop being stupid and getting the leg treated. Which is all nice and logical…

              …until you realize the people doing the kicking are the people who are physically barring the doors to the hospital (stopping any sort of universal wage), and in fact the entire reason that entire reason it *hasn’t* been treated. The man with the broken leg has absolutely no issue, and has *never* had any issue, with having the leg fixed. (Well, some instances of the man have managed to become convinced that any sort of medical treatment is OF THE DEVIL because of decades of propaganda deliberately put out to make him think that.)Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                DavidTC:
                And then you start looking into who controls ‘the system’ and who is *stopping* these necessary changes from happening, and it turns out it’s the same people supporting the TPP in the first place…the owners of the multinational corporations who have all the money,

                like schoolteachers and firefighters?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Kolohe
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                LOL. CalPERS itself would be the first to admit that corporations are not governed by them, considering how much they work to make that actually true.

                But more importantly: Contact me when CalPERS sets up PACs to get people elected. Oh, wait, they can’t legally do that.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to LWA
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      says:

      I think it’s worth examining what types of private regulation works and what doesn’t.
      The Hays Code comes immediately to mind. I say it worked well.

      I think (thinking here . . . ) that what Jaybird is driving at is that regulations are essentially protections designed to protect something; typically a property interest of some sort.
      Evaluate the property claims from a view of what the life of the average brown person is worth. Is it $50k? Too high, or too low?
      What about the squeaky-clean white people? About $200k, or so? More, or less?

      As capital tends to gravitate toward its most efficient use, it is a matter of eventuality that capital will seek out regulatory capture. At times, it does so for short-term gains at the expense of long-term loss.
      The resistance against carbon limits from power plants comes immediately to mind. I tell you, on no uncertain terms, as a man who significantly assisted in the installation of the emissions systems at this place and this place, that regulations defining carbon limits are a good thing: Meeting them is feasible, and it is of benefit to a number of employment sectors.
      Yet one of its strongest opponents is the miners’ union, whose continued livelihood depends on regulation in a big way.
      And if you look at that first link, you will see that the first power plant of its type built in the United States, one of the ten cleanest when it was built, was fined for decisions made at an administrative level which were easily achievable on the up-and-up (there is also an EPA-listed cleanup site at that location, so it was pretty stupid for them to even remotely consider that they could get away with anything).

      The prison privatization is another good example of self-regulation not working well at all.
      Also, much of what is called “tort reform,” a great deal of which is all about letting doctors who consistently screw up their patients continue to practice medicine.

      I’m sure there are quite a few places where government is better at regulating than by private entity.
      Separating the two– where government regulation is better than self-regulating– is worth examining.

      Actually, there are some court reforms which I am lobbying for (trying to get a state legislator to sign off on a few of them ahead of a meeting with the governor), which mostly boil down to: 1) reducing the amount of available discretion, and 2) writing mandatory prosecutions into statute; or, to re-phrase the matter, wiggle room and a stick big enough to get the job done.
      Those two things are also needed in trade agreements.Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    I’d rather pay more and be assured of quality and provenance instead of paying less and being required to take a gamble on both qualities.

    This is a good example of a place where smart regulation is easy. Food safety is something we tend to have pretty good science on. We understand the majority of the how, why, & when of food spoilage. So we can look at existing & proposed regulations, and we can look at the science, and it’s pretty easy to figure out when someone is trying for a bit of regulatory capture or rent seeking, or if a regulation is perhaps out of date because out understanding has advanced.

    With regard to Jaybirds bit of hyperbole, sure it’s a bit extreme, but we do have a lot of Malum Prohibitum laws that can result in serious criminal penalties without any Mens Rea. These kinds of laws should be done smarter.Report

  5. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
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    says:

    Judging by this thread, no. Because if you believe in any regulation at all, you’re complicit in the death of every black man in America by cops.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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      says:

      Don’t forget the vague wishes for stronger unions in theory that result in the support for police unions in practice!Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Hey, I get it. The gal who works in the admin departments gets to have no pension or be fired because she’s the most costly person in the department due to her experience because ya’ know, we’re a nation that loves guns too much.

        Police have unions in lots of countries – they figure out a way not to shoot people.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        It is perfectly possible to be in support of unions, and hell, to be in support of police unions, without being in support of police officers not being charged with crimes ever, under any circumstances.

        The problem is not the police union. Yes, we all wince when the police union steps in and says things, and when some clearly criminal cop ends up on *paid* leave because of dumbass contracts, but…that’s it. That’s the worst thing the union did. And all unions do things like that.

        The problem is not even really the behavior of the police. (In any society, any entity can get out of control.)

        The problem is the *failure of other people to do anything about the problem*. We have a justice system in this country. It is what is *supposed* to punish insanely out-of-control organizations.

        If the local PTA starts poisoning cupcakes, it goes after them. If a car company hires assassins to murder their rivals, it goes after them. If the police start randomly killing black civilians for no reason…IT DOES NOTHING.

        That, right there, is the problem. If the police had not, apparently, been given a complete blanket exception to the ‘no murdering people’ rule, and police officers were arrested and convicted…then the police would, fairly quickly, *stop murdering people*.

        The problem is not ‘what is happening’. The problem is the lack of the response to ‘what is happening’, aka, the complete inability of the justice system to *go after* the police. This is due to a combination of prosecutors working closely with cops, and completely idiotic juries, neither of which have anything to do with police unions.Report

  6. Avatar James K
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    says:

    It seems there are two issues here: 1) How to reconcile safety / environmental issues etc. with Free Trade and 2) How to regulate generally.

    Question 1 is relatively simple. WTO rules allow for regulation of foreign goods for reasons of safety and/or the environment provided that A) There is scientific evidence of harm and B) the rules are no harsher for foreign goods than domestic ones. These rules allow for a wide scope of legitimate safety regulation, while preventing countries from using health or the environment as an excuse to block trade for other reasons.

    Question 2 is much harder, but its a question that sits within my area of expertise. Economists have created tools like Market Failure Economics and Benefit-Cost Analysis precisely to get at the core of why government intervention might be needed, and to estimate the size of the benefits of an intervention relative to the costs. These tools are not perfect, but the world would be a much better place if they were employed more frequently (Market Failure Economics in particular).Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to James K
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      says:

      This is the thing I was getting at above, we have the tools to craft smarter regulation, but a lot of our regulation is still either political signaling (for the children, etc.), or political payoffs (big chunks of the CPSIA, other protectionist regs, etc.).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        says:

        Re: protectionism: Seems to me that if a person thinks the core problem with trade is protectionism, then a bill including less of it is better than the status quo. So on that score, you don’t want to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

        Re: political signalling: I don’t see any of that, myself. I should say, rhetorically I do, but the actual trade agreements don’t include provisions that are pure signalling (and from a functional pov so what if they do?).

        Thirdly, tho, I think you’ve left out what people actually object to wrt these agreements: that they’re anti-democratic (made in secret); limit the power of member nations to determine their own policies except within limits allowed by the agreement; provide too many protections/benefits for capital and the investor class at the expense of labor and the middle class; curtail the ability of signatories to enforce environmental and other domestically desirable regulations; insulate adjudication of disputes from the political process of member states; etc and so on. Not to mention that these agreements are effectively in force for lengthy periods of time during which the new economic landscape is carved out without any recourse to alter the provisions along the way (effectively creating a new status quo, for better or worse).Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          @stillwater

          I was getting at that up above.

          The conversations are facilitating between domestic regulation, and regulation as a result of these agreements.Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          @stillwater

          While I agree that some aspects of trade agreements can be problematic, the extent to which trade agreement negotiations are particularly sinister is overstated.

          Diplomatic agreements are always negotiated in secret – you can’t have 7 billion people looking over your shoulder while you draft an agreement. Now there should definitely be public debate after the agreement is agreed but before it is adopted, but there’s nothing strange or sinister about a half-made trade agreement remaining secret.

          Similarly, all treaties limit the sovereignty of the signatories – that’s the point. The sovereignty argument can be used to argue against all treaties, but not trade agreements specifically.

          I’m also not very impressed with the argument that governments should be the sole determinants of whether they are obeying the agreement they signed up to. This sort of arrangement raises eyebrows (at minimum) if any other kind of entity suggests they should be similarly regulated.

          That’s not to say there are no problems with trade agreements, I’m concerned with the way the US government is trying to use the TPP to push its IP laws on the rest of the world. But I don’t think a lot of the arguments against trade agreements hold up to scrutiny.Report

  7. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I guess one way to start talking productively about “smart” regulation is some introspection. It’s a good idea for us to discern our own preferences and then acknowledge the limitations of those preferences. Almost any regulation we prefer has costs, both foreseen and unforeseen, and probably most regulations we oppose have at least something good about them. It’s important to acknowledge the costs in the first instance and the good things foregone in the second instance.

    There are probably other ways to start talking about “smart” regulations, but I think the one I offer is a good first step. By itself, that step doesn’t actually resolve anything, but if pursued sincerely, it can at least demonstrate a willingness to be open to discussion.Report

    • Avatar kenB in reply to Gabriel Conroy
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      says:

      Preach it, brother!

      One other thing that would be good to bear in mind is that since regulations do have costs, a serious discussion should include not just thumbs up/down on each particular proposal but also some attempt at prioritization/budgeting across the whole space of possible actions.

      Actually I think this is broadly true about policy discussions in general. There’s a temptation (exacerbated by the blog format) to talk about one issue at a time in isolation, as if we had unlimited resources to do everything that’s worth doing. It would be interesting to talk about how we would split out a given dollar of spending among, say, health care vs. welfare/poverty programs vs. charitable foreign aid, etc.Report

  8. Avatar j r
    Ignored
    says:

    Saul,

    If you want to talk about trade, labor, employment and what the right regulatory regime looks like, then why don’t you talk about those things instead of having this meta-level conversation about the politics of talking about trade, labor, employment and what the regulatory regime looks like?Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    One of the biggest problems with free trade is that while there aren’t many barriers for the movement of capital and goods, there are a lot of barriers for the movement of people. We call them immigration laws. This favors business interests because jobs could be moved to where labor is the cheapest for the most part, except for extraction industries or services that need to be done on the spot or that require a license, while preventing people from moving where the jobs are. If people could move as freely as capital or goods than wages and salaries would increase because more people would migrate to the places with the best paying jobs. It might even create a good legal frame work for an international labor movement. The inability of people to move freely puts a damper on the ability of labor to organize globally, which is kind of needed these days.

    Most people aren’t going to support a really borderless or at least a less bureaucratized immigration system world though except some really hardcore liberals and libertarians. This is true on the right and the left. For the nativist and national security and law and order types of all countries, a freer immigration system is going to be a nightmare. For more left leaning types, they will probably see it as leading to further exploitation because business might import cheaper immigrant labor than hire more expensive domestic workers like what might be happening with H1-B.

    The real issue with free trade is the Iron Law of Wages, which I happen to believe is true. Business people will always look for the cheapest labor available for the most part. Most of the free trade agreements allow them to do so. What is needed is a free trade agreement that also has protections for labor in it. In a globalized age, labor must have the ability and power to organize internationally.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      Labor in the US (the ur-free trade zone) has had the same power (on paper) to organize since Taft-Hartley, and yet has seen the union share of the labor force decline from 1/3 to 1/10, and that second number has a hefty contributions from the boys and girls in blue and other public sector workers.

      How would ‘the ability and power to organize internationally’ reverse this trend? And what would the ‘ability and power to organize internationally’ actually entail? First world governments telling developing world governments how they should be running things?Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      The real issue with free trade is the Iron Law of Wages, which I happen to believe is true. Business people will always look for the cheapest labor available for the most part.

      This just is not true. Lots of U.S. and multi-national businesses are starting to “reshoring” some of their operations back to the United States, particularly places like the South.

      Here is an article from two years ago on manufacturing coming back: http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21569570-growing-number-american-companies-are-moving-their-manufacturing-back-united

      There’s lots more of this in the area of IT services. Lots of banks and financial services companies tried moving as much of their back office tech services to India, but the time differences along with some other issues have led these companies to rethink.

      One of the things that happens when you have these sorts of broad economic conversations is that you invariably end up debating the issues of yesterday as opposed to the issues of tomorrow.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r
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        says:

        I think that’s true, actually. As US wages have declined relative to the rest of the world, US-based manufacturing is and will be increasingly attractive. But that’s a result of US wages having already declined, yes?, probably as a result of prior trade agreements.

        Note that I’m only offering a description here and not a judgment.Report

    • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      Lee,

      How do you maintain belief in the iron Law when history post 1800 repudiates it so decisively? Wages have not gone down, they are an order of magnitude higher — and that is before we adjust for quality and variety and freedom and literacy and lifespan which have come along on the ride. In brief wages have risen with productivity. That is the true law.

      Now, one may try to argue that wages in the West have stagnated recently, but this is just a minor local aberration clearly caused by the influx of one billion new workers ( aka supply and demand). Even with this, the last generation has seen larger gains in wages (aka standards of living worldwide) than ever.

      In summary, the iron law is grossly unhistoric and not even true on a large scale in our generation. Care to explain?

      As to your comment of global labor organization, artificially high wages (not determined by supply and demand) requires a cartel which excludes competition from other global workers. Thus you start with an iron law which is counter to all evidence and recommend something which is logically incoherent.

      This is not an ideological debate. It is a debate of logic and consistency.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      @leeesq
      For more left leaning types, they will probably see it as leading to further exploitation because business might import cheaper immigrant labor than hire more expensive domestic workers like what might be happening with H1-B.

      Some of us on the left think that’s basically the entire *point* for certain people on the right wanting open borders: A group of people who *can’t* vote to increase the minimum wage. And hopefully have to stay employed, like with H1-B, so can’t even choose to withhold their labor and strike.

      Most people aren’t going to support a really borderless or at least a less bureaucratized immigration system world though except some really hardcore liberals and libertarians.

      Yup. I will support a borderless immigration system *only* when people that come in are *immediately* given a say in governance, and it isn’t tied to employment in any way.

      I do not want any non-citizens in this country, at least not any involuntary ones. Not for more than a few months. After that…they’re citizens, if they want to be. They are under the laws of this country, thus they get a right to *determine* the laws of this country.

      I consider letting someone stay here and work here and contribute here, but making it very difficult to become a citizen, basically attempting to do same thing as those noxious ‘Voter ID’ laws intended to make it harder to vote…because that is *literally* what it is. A way to keep people from voting.

      Addendum: We are immensely lucky in this country with birthright citizenship. Other countries have ended up where multiple generations of non-citizens continue to exist, and, sure enough, without any input into the government, they end up getting treated like crap. Luckily, we’re only allowed to do that for the *first* generation…but that’s still a generation too much.Report

  10. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    Confession: I only got about halfway through the comments here before I stopped — because really, what’s the point? If ever there were a pitch-perfect argument for my “ideology is the enemy” schtick, these threads are it.

    Oy.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      Wow, you got halfway.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      @tod-kelly

      Does this mean you did not even read my article? Sniff……

      I was trying to be fairly even handed and open to the suggestion that there might be regulations that are worth revising both domestically and internationally. I admit that I was being hard on Matt Y because I don’t really think the guy knows what he is talking about often and I disagree with everyone calling him a truthteller just because Andrew Sullivan deemed it so.

      Ideology might be the enemy but that doesn’t mean getting rid of pushback or questioning positions. We all start with viewpoints.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        I admit that I was being hard on Matt Y

        Well, I think you’re right to criticize him for that article since the only thing he criticizes about the TPP is the likelihood it will contain some protectionist provisions. As if there are no other worries to focus attention on. (But since we don’t know what’s in the dang thing, it’s hard to focus attention on them. Or even the topic of his Big Worry.)Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      @tod-kelly

      +1

      This makes me miss the “You didn’t build that” conversations. At this rate, I may find myself running into the open arms of my favorite economic populist types. At least it’ll be good exercise.

      Saul,

      The post was fine although I’d go with what j-r said. My M.O. is to pick a specific issue and discuss it. Otherwise, I don’t have a lot to say.

      Interestingly enough, this is the same conversation I had last night with Mark Thompson over dinner. Took almost eight years but we finally met face to face lol.Report

  11. Avatar Joe Sal
    Ignored
    says:

    So just for the record, we are talking about “free trade” as developed within state capitalism(3) in the form of secretive trade deals?Report

  12. Avatar Cardiff Kook
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    says:

    As some comments above stress, regulation is a really big topic. For clarities sake, can I suggest we narrow it to regulation of economic affairs?

    As such, we clearly need regulation:
    1) regulation that the rules of markets are observed (property, contract, honesty, non violence, etc)
    2) regulation controlling for negative externalities (pollution and such)

    Here I suggest regulations should be PARSIMONIOUS. They should be sufficient to accomplish the above goals without interfering with markets as they are intended. In other words, they should hold the participants accountable to play by rules without trying to influence outcomes within the market.

    But this gets to what many on the left really do seem to desire. That is, to influence the outcomes of market problem solving, effectively replacing one decision making system with another (with a political/regulatory driven learning or control system). Even here I agree somewhat. There are certainly many areas where markets do a proven poor job. Examples include public goods and open fundamental scientific research.

    Of course, the devil is in the details. The classical liberal and modern left will disagree on where we draw the line between what is left in the market, and what should be “ameliorated” with proactive regulatory control. I agree with those above that this is a hopeless ideological debate.

    But, back to parsimonious regulations, the logic is that if we introduce too many rules and too much interference and control with topics which we agree should be controlled by markets (for arguments sake), then the classical liberal rebuttal is that excessively complex regulations:

    1) foster rent seeking and privilege and are usually captured by economic actors attempting to take advantage of others by reducing competition ( which is the dominant strategy where it is allowed and or not prohibited)

    2) introduce barriers to flexibility and adaptiveness and thus hinder economic growth and prosperity

    3). Introduce complex unintended consequences which are more likely to be negative than positive

    In brief, if we agree that markets have a role in fostering human progress, the argument for regulatory parsimony is pretty damn strong.

    Note all my comments assume we agree that markets are a legitimate complex adaptive problem solving system. If someone doesn’t agree with this, there really is no point in the discussion. Let’s just agree now that we are operating under totally incompatible frameworks.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Cardiff Kook
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      says:

      Note all my comments assume we agree that markets are a legitimate complex adaptive problem solving system.

      Yeah, I disagree with this, for reasons we’ve talked about quite a bit over the years. Markets are an abstract property. They don’t do anything. They’re a conceptual space in which people do things, where transactions occur, like trading dollars for an Ipod. This is the same confusion as thinking that evolution is a problem solving system. It isn’t. It’s just what results from genetic mutations being expressed in dynamic, complex world.

      People solve problems (we create them too!) and the possibility of engaging in profitable transactions provides certain incentives for people to engage in problem solving. But markets don’t solve anything. They can’t. They’re not actors.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Stillwater,

        You are not looking at the system correctly and are assuming the system is solving X, when it’s actually solving Y.

        Evolution is constantly solving a problem of survival of species as a whole in an ever changing environment.

        Markets are constantly solving the problem of resource allocation in an ever changing environment. People are basically the distributed processors.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          Evolution is constantly solving a problem of survival of species as a whole in an ever changing environment.

          No, it isn’t. Some mutations are lethal, some increase fitness. But the mutations themselves are accidents, and there is no problem the process is solving.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
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            says:

            Plus, the genetic mutations don’t happen in a generation or two, which is the scale of the economics we’re discussing. Evolution, a new genetic mutation or trait takes some time to spread through a gene pool. There must be some measure minimal , number of generations that requires, I’d guess at least 50, but that’s just a guess maybe reading something about breeding new breads of dogs and cats or something; and that’s active selection, not random selection.

            But I wouldn’t be surprised if some future generation revived the pinky toe for some new adventure, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it devolved away like our tails.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater
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            says:

            Markets aren’t like evolution or even natural selection. Markets constitute the environment that determines, in large part, which organisms live to pass on their genes and which ones do not.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chris
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              says:

              markets are responsible for genocide, got it.Report

            • Avatar James K in reply to Chris
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              says:

              @chris

              You don’t think evolution affects the environments for other species, or even the environment for other organisms in the same species?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
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              says:

              This is why it is important to have an assumption about how things really work (e.g., Young Earth Creation) that results in the behavior you really want people to abide by (e.g., “all men are created equally”) because if you make the wrong assumptions about the system, you can end up with some seriously unethical behavior (e.g., eugenics).Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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              says:

              @chris

              Markets are like evolution in that they are large scale problem solving systems. They are unlike evolution because we structure them & play around with the inputs & operating constraints for various reasons, but that does not make them any less of a resource allocation problem solving system.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Markets are systems of exchange. That problems are solved via interaction with systems of exchange (e.g., by creating incentives through exchange) does not mean that markets solve problems, it just means that markets create an environment in which problems are more (or less, depending on the sort of problem) likely to be solved. Markets are, in a sense, problem-solving spaces.

                Evolution isn’t a system at all, but a high-level description of various processes operating at multiple time scales, some interactively, some orthogonally, most of which are not dealing with problems at all, though they can be manipulated for such a use (by humans, mostly). Attributing problem-solving to evolution (or markets) is just so much teleological thinking in conceptual spaces explicitly created to get around such thinking.Report

              • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Are you suggesting eyes, and wings, and hearts and central nervous systems don’t solve problems? Or are you denying that they evolved via natural selection? If they do solve problems and they are outcomes of evolutionary processes, do you care to clarify?

                Or are you suggesting something different altogether? If so, you should probably clarify that as well.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Cardiff Kook
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                says:

                Within the system that is the organism, hearts serve a function. If we consider any function not met but potentially met a “problem,” then we could say that the heart solves problems, but that’s not really how evolution works. The organism and heart evolved together, so that the organism is a whole is as it is in part because the heart functions as it does. Thinking of this as a problem that was in need of solving, and was or is solved by the development over many millennia of the heart is to misunderstand how the process works.

                Put differently, to a large extent the heart created the problem it solves. If we were to run with the market-to-evolution analogy, then we might say of one product of the market, vacuum cleaners, that they clean floors that are dirty because vacuum cleaners clean floors.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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                says:

                By the way, on a tangent (onto one of my pet topics), this is trueo of the brain as well, and once we understand this, the implications of it for our conception of ourselves are pretty profound.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Chris: this is trueo of the brain as well

                This sounds like an interesting post, especially given that is your field, IIRC?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                @oscar-gordon , there’s a good chance that you and I, and perhaps our friend the M-P fan, would be the only ones interested in a post on the embodied mind.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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                says:

                @chris

                Perhaps, but I trust you to make such a topic accessible to the layperson & worthy of a discussion!Report

              • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Chris
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                says:

                I am confident I understand it quite well thank you, as does the biologist I quoted below recommending the problem solving framework (though in all honesty I never read this biologist until yesterday.)

                Obviously the system co-evolved. But as below, the system co-evolved in such a way to be adaptive — to solve the central and ever-present problem of persistence and reproduction in an entropic world with scarce resources. This is true even though the system isn’t trying to solve problems, and the emergent organisms made up of these solutions probably don’t have a clue what problems their form and behavior are addressing.

                Again, see how a biologist explains evolutionary problem solving below. It is a valid framework, though it can be abused if misinterpreted in teleological terms.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Cardiff Kook
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                says:

                I wrote a long comment about the philosophy of evolutionary biology, but realized after a while that it was pretty pointless (and not at all even remotely interesting). I could recommend you some good sources, but suffice it to say for now that Popper and some Belgian dude arguing we should talk about evolution differently do not comprise much of an argument.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Whenever I discuss biology with Maribou, we usually have several digressions where we take turns mocking the other for bringing teleology into it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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                says:

                You and I are going to get pedantic here in a hurry…

                Chris: Markets are, in a sense, problem-solving spaces.

                I.e. markets solve problems of resource allocation. Perhaps it is more accurate to think of markets as computers, rather than some kind of abstract system, but the end result is the same, markets solve problems.

                Chris: Evolution isn’t a system at all

                This depends on your definition of what constitutes a system. A set of interconnected processes interacting together is a system. Evolution as a system was not consciously constructed as a problem solving system, obviously. We, as thinking creatures, assign a character of problem solving to the system since that is what it appears to do – solve the problem of keeping life going.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Evolution operates on too many time scales to constitute a coherent system. Or rather, the system that is evolution is life and the world in which it exists, i.e., everything. Evolution is the world.

                As for markets, they still don’t solve problems. Problems are solved within markets, utilizing the practical spaces created by exchange in an environment of scarcity, ownership, and materialism. That is, because we exchange things when there are a limited number of things, we can accumulate things (because we can own them), and we are motivated by material things beyond mere subsistence and even comfort (e.g., status is wrapped up in material things), the nature of markets creates motivations to solve problems. Markets, in the environment described, produce incentives.

                This isn’t mere pedantry, because it is the conception of markets (and, in other contexts), evolution as problem-solving, that leads to all sorts of unfortunate practical ideas and the attribution of all sorts of accomplishments to markets.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Evolution operates on too many time scales to constitute a coherent system. Or rather, the system that is evolution is life and the world in which it exists, i.e., everything. Evolution is the world.

                I agree, but this just makes this whole conversation one about perspective. From the perspective of the infinite the world is its own purpose. Heidegger said it better than I can:

                The world is not the mere collection of the countable or uncountable, familiar or unfamiliar things that are just there. But neither is it a merely imagined framework added by our representation to the sum of such given things. The world worlds, and is more fully in being than the tangible and perceptible realm in which we feel ourselves to be at home.” The world, which is always becoming, is neither that which exists, or that which we perceive to exist; it is rather the constant process through which the “ever-nonobjective” sphere within which we live changes through its constant conflict with earth and through the productions of truth (i.e. artworks or “creative questioning”) which bring the becoming-world up for decision.

                Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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                says:

                Oh, you’re absolutely right, this has all been from the perspective of the science of reasons, or more specifically, of models of reasons.

                You won’t find me objecting much to what Heidegger says in that work, though I don’t think he’d talk about it as from the perspective of the infinite (are you thinking of another of Husserl’s students, perhaps?). The world, as Heidegger describes it, is something quite different from what we’ve been taklking about, something unique to Dasein, though it is something that makes the way we’re talking, or thinking, about markets and evolution possible:

                Wherever the essential decisions of our history are made, wherever we take them over or abandon them, wherever they go unrecognized or are brought once more into question, there the world worlds. The stone is world-less. Similarly, plants and animals have no world; they belong, rather, to the hidden throng of an environment into which they have been put. The peasant woman, by contrast, possesses a world, since she stays in the openness of beings.

                I still say now that the exile is lifted, we make this blog entirely about Heidegger.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Chris
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                says:

                When I say the infinite, I’m not necessarily talking about it in any ontological sense (or maybe I am). By the infinite, I mean the process by which the world continually folds back on itself in the process of… being.

                I think the world worlding is something that Heidegger saw as revealed to us through certain experiences, aesthetic for instance experiences, but even when we don’t experience it, it’s still happening.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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                says:

                The rest of that quote is absolutely spectacular (and will turn off all of the people who are turned off by Heidegger):

                By the opening of a world, all things gain their lingering and hastening, their distance and proximity, their breadth and their limits. In worlding there gathers that spaciousness from out of which the protective grace of the gods is gifted or is refused. Even the doom of the absence of the god is a way in which world worlds.

                There is not, from the perspective of the infinite (I was thinking you might be referencing this), a world. The world is opened anew each time we encounter it. What makes art, “the work” if you read on after that paragraph, so special, in this sense, is that it allows for the revealing of worlds: “As a work, the work holds open the open of a world.”Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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                says:

                What we talk about when we talk about free trade: Heidegger.

                (Something no one has said ever.)Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Chris
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                says:

                The experience of the world, from the perspective of the world is infinity; not infinity in the sense of a really long time, but in the total absence of time.

                The reason that we experience the world through dasein is because we are rooted in the temporal.

                Also, happy to talk about Merleau-Ponty and what is perhaps the fullest expression of phenomenology.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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                says:

                Also, happy to talk about Merleau-Ponty and what is perhaps the fullest expression of phenomenology.

                We shall now be friends forever.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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                says:

                That seriously was not where I expected that discussion to go. I stand in awe & have nothing to add.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Like I said, the entire blog should be about Heidegger now that the exile is lifted. Granted, within a month, there will only be 3 or 4 of us left, but it will be the correct 3 or 4!Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris
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                says:

                And all of the music posts will be about Bach and Procul Harum.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
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            says:

            @stillwater @zic

            I really need to finish my modeling post, because you aren’t understanding how large scale unstructured problem solving systems work.

            And time scales are relevant to the system, so evolution works fine, on a much longer time scale.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              because you aren’t understanding how large scale unstructured problem solving systems work.

              Irrespective of how large, complex, unstructured, whatever the system is, evolution just plain ole, as a matter of description, not a problem solving system. As a system, it creates new species and new genes and new physical properties in individual organisms, but it’s just a confusion to say that evolution is a problem solving system. It’d be like saying gravity is a problem solving system.

              Maybe the confusion results from believing that individual organisms are trying to achieve something wrt passing on genes result in greater fitness in the next generation. But they aren’t. I mean, the idea that evolution is a problem solving system requires (seems to me) conflating the problems of survival experienced by an individual organism with the process of naturally selected genetic mutations in succeeding generations increasing biological fitness.

              Or maybe the confusion is this: that you think attaining higher levels of fitness in succeeding generations is the goal or purpose of evolution. That’s a result of evolutionary processes, but it’s not the goal of that process. (The process has no goal.)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Gravity is not a system, gravity is a force.

                I think our disagreement stems from the place of what is a necessary condition of a problem solving system. My understanding of your condition is that the system is directed or otherwise has a designed purpose. That it has intent. I merely require that the system is flexible enough to deal with changing conditions.

                I suppose from a high enough level view evolution is more machine than problem solving system, but then anything can be thought of as so, so it isn’t very useful to play that game.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                Isn’t a lot of this just tangling on semantics and POVs?

                I mean, from the POV of the vast indifferent universe, me (or my species) dying out is no “problem” at all, and needs no “solving”. It simply is.

                From MY POV as one breathing carbon-based lifeform, the fact that my ancestors were fit enough to allow me to have a good sandwich today is a goddam miracle. For me to starve, or to have never been here, sure looks like a “problem” “solved” or averted, to me.

                I think the issue actually lies elsewhere, where even taking the above into account, we STILL may not agree on which things constitute “problems” and which constitute “solutions”.

                Since from ANOTHER POV, the “solution” of humanity’s current success is also creating the “problem” that we may end up taking the rest of the biosphere out with us, if we are not careful.

                Which is the real reason why perhaps neither evolution nor markets can be stated simply (or solely) as “problem-solving systems”.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph
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                says:

                For me to starve, or to have never been here, sure looks like a “problem” “solved” or averted, to me.

                Sure. That’s the view I’m arguing against. 🙂

                And it’s not just a semantic issue. If a person thinks evolution is a problem solving system, on any standard meaning of that term, their attributing intentionality or an “end goal” to the process. But that’s just a descriptively and factually inaccurate view of what evolution actually is.

                Seems to me anyway.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Biology includes functions (one of the big issues in phil of bio is what the hell a function is), which could be characterized as solving problems, but so characterizing them lays a layer of directionality over them that obscures what they actually do and how they work within evolutionary systems.

                Markets don’t even have that.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              @oscar-gordon

              you aren’t understanding how large scale unstructured problem solving systems work.

              That’s sort of like saying the second law of thermodynamics is a problem solving system.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          says:

          As people like Richard Dawkins remind us, an organism is just a gene’s way of making copies of itself.

          Likewise, a human is just a dollar’s way of making more dollars.Report

      • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Geez Still, do you kiss your debit card with that mouth?

        I for one, would be glad that the devil doesn’t exist. There would be no such realm as an exchange/transaction in which usury can be originated. There is no such realm that drives state regulation into capitalism(1). No realm for which profit margins/rent would come to roost. Did I mention no realm of goods and service tax?

        This flavor of existentialism is questionable.Report

      • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Missed this comment somehow. Need to go out for a few hours and will respond to the thread.Report

      • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        In regards to my comment: “Note all my comments assume we agree that markets are a legitimate complex adaptive problem solving system.”

        SW objects:
        “Yeah, I disagree with this, for reasons we’ve talked about quite a bit over the years. Markets are an abstract property. They don’t do anything. They’re a conceptual space in which people do things, where transactions occur, like trading dollars for an Ipod….People solve problems (we create them too!) and the possibility of engaging in profitable transactions provides certain incentives for people to engage in problem solving. But markets don’t solve anything. They can’t. They’re not actors.”

        Voting is a problem solving system. Negotiation is a problem solving system. Trial and error is a problem solving system. Democracy is a problem solving system. Math and science are problem solving systems. All of them assume there are agents as a part of the system who are both the subjective owners of the problem and sources of energy to pursue the solution. Democracy requires voters. Science requires scientists, and markets require consumers and producers.

        Of course they are abstractions. They are higher level abstractions of PROCESSES, or in Daniel Dennett’s terms, they are algorithms.

        As an example, long form division is an abstract process/algorithm for human agents to solve problems of a particular mathematical nature. Markets are substantially more complex institutions which establish rules and procedures for multiple human agents to create, exchange, spread, combine and improve upon another type of solution to another class of problems for each other.

        You refer to markets as conceptual spaces (which is an improvement over prior claims that they are physical spaces). They are more than this. Markets include the rules of interaction. Rules, agents, and enforcement mechanism engaged in an institution of decentralized problem solving.

        Two alternative problem solving systems in a similar space but different rules include self sufficiency, and central command. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses and contexts where it may be best.Report

      • Avatar Cardiff Kook in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Karl Popper: “All life is problem solving.”

        SW: “This is the same confusion as thinking that evolution is a problem solving system. It isn’t. It’s just what results from genetic mutations being expressed in dynamic, complex world.”

        I suspect Karl Popper and Donald Campbell might disagree with you.

        I’ve read several dozen books on evolution, and hundreds of articles. Admittedly, many evolutionary biologists do actively try to avoid the “problem solving” terminology at the risk of confusing people with terms which appear teleological and purposive. That said, I have found myriads of examples where they specifically do argue that this is exactly what it leads to.

        Rather than the term “problem solving” they usually prefer to speak of “evolutionary adaptation,”which as explained by Dawkins is ” the criterion for selection is always short term, either simple survival, or, more generally, reproductive success.”

        The central “problem” here is of course surviving and reproducing in an entropic world which resists both. In other words, adaptations are discovered and spread via the universal algorithm of reproduction with both variation and heredity in a competitive environment with limited resources.

        Here is how professor of biology Arnold de Loof explains the conversion from adaptation and survival-of-the-fittest terminology to problem-solving terminology:

        “…adaptation as “the evolutionary process by which an organism becomes fitted to its environment” could be replaced by : “adaptation concerns the solving of a particular (set of) problem(s) in a given environment/context, making use of preexisting problem solving strategies”. ‘Survival of the fittest’ says nothing more than that the survivors survive. An alternative could be : “If they are not prematurely eliminated by accidental death, the best problem solvers have better chances for being rewarded with a higher level of contentment, and by faster growth and reproductive advantages”.

        Natural selection discovers design/adaptations/solutions to the contextual problems of survival and reproduction. And it does so without even trying!

        However, natural selection is not a progressive system. The reasons are beyond this topic though.Report

  13. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    @jaybird

    Jay, I read all of your comments.

    Well played Sir…well played.Report

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