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Author Topic: The "Gully Foyle Bashes Libertarianism" extravaganza.  (Read 5942 times)
Tetro Kornbluth
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« on: August 21, 2009, 12:42:42 pm »
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Sometimes you just read something so stupid and offensive it makes one respond in one's mind "You know I should make thread on how stupid and retarded this is". Such is my way with certain segments of the oxymoronically and ironically named "libertarian movement". Now perhaps I wouldn't mind if it's opinions were kept to such neglected oddities like Lew Rockwell and were put onto the back corners of the internet with the truthers, the UFOlogists and the Crop circle crowd, which of course is where they properly belong. But of course the simplistic, reductionist logic of libertarianism has gathered a certain appeal, at least on segments of the politically minded interwebs - probably to the intellectual descendants of those late 60s/early 70s student Trotskyites who held their beliefs due in part to an instinctial reaction that washing the dishes was bourgeoise. Indeed in the simplicity of its equation "markets good, government bad" can be an easy rewrite of "proles good, middle class values bad". Which is wonderful, especially as those terms are so brilliantly imprecise.

But enough of the ad hominem truth. Here's what provoked this, an article from a leading libertarian/austrian economist (who Philip often links to in his otherwise interesting blog) who had been travelling in Sweden and Denmark and gaves us some of his opinions:

Quote
Overqualified: What's Wrong With European Labor Markets
Bryan Caplan

One of the most striking things about Denmark and Sweden: Almost everyone is overqualified for his job.  The guy who sells train tickets doesn't just punch buttons and collect cash; he knows his regional transit network like the back of his hand, and eagerly helps you plan your trip.

I'm sure that most American tourists find this a welcome change of pace.  Imagine a country where you never have to ask, "Could I talk to your supervisor?"  But it's highly inefficient.  In the U.S., the Dane who mans the ticket window would run the whole office.  In Denmark, he spends 59 minutes out of 60 doing mindless, menial work.

When I explained my observation to some Swedes, there was an interesting misunderstanding.  One told me: "Unskilled workers?  We don't have unskilled workers."  I replied, "I've seen guys picking up garbage.  Isn't that unskilled?"  And the Swede answered, "We have unskilled work, but not unskilled workers."  My point exactly.

What's going on?  Americans tend to credit Europe's better schools, but I doubt that's a major part of the story.  The main reason why European workers seem so good, as many Scandinavians admitted, is that they keep semi-competent workers permanently on welfare.

It's tempting to see this approach as "more efficient" or "kinder-hearted" than ours, but it's neither.  Using high-skilled workers to sell train tickets when low-skilled workers are almost as good violates the principle of comparative advantage.  And it's hardly kind to create a system where workers feel unchallenged, and non-workers feel useless.  The European approach may be good for flustered tourists.  But for the Europeans themselves, it's a tragic waste.

Things I have learned from this article:

1) Education is bad. Indeed, Mass Education is very bad because it is "inefficient" and should not be given to "workers". Indeed it would be better off if Sweden and Denmark had stupider/less educated people working the trains like the United States (and it would save more in taxes too!). The only reason people get educated is to work and get a high paid, non-menial job; workers like the train tickets seller (of course Brian wasn't polite enough to ask for his views) shouldn't actually be educated at all as that would violate THE PRINCIPLE OF COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE OMGZ!!11. Indeed, the Scandinavians must be freaks for not thinking like this - like everyone else - and refuse to take a basic job, because that's somewhat beneath their ability and should go about exploiting their advantage instead or anything else is a "tragic waste". In short what Brian Caplan seems to either think there is or desires that there should be a world full of Richiuses (Richiuii?).

2) The purpose of life is apparently work and to make money (why else should people with skills not take up unskilled or semi-skilled jobs?) and indeed the use of one skills should be headed towards that job. Not notion of even social worth or utility here. Yay! For Monotous Materialism.

3) Proof no. 257962 that Economists are one of the greatest threats to the human race.

4) I'm not going to even comment on "the semi-competent workers on welfare" bit. (For the record via a quick google search it is estimated that Sweden's official unemployment will be 9% by the end of the year - less than the United States. This implies that Sweden has more competent workers in it than the United States.)

So Libertarianism as by Bryan Caplan is Pro-destruction of Civilization and Pro-Elitism in the worst possible way and anti-Human. Really did anyone expect anything else (especially from a man in another article on this topic deems Singapore to be freer than Sweden)? [/rant over]
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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2009, 12:06:39 am »
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That ain't my flavor of libertarianism.  Who wouldn't want more intelligent workers...in any field?  Smarter people do jobs better, even if they are way too smart for the job.  This would be especially important in jobs that deal with the public like this idiot libertarian is ranting about.  Just imagine how much easier flying would be if the TSA was made up of smart, efficient people.  Leave the dumbasses to clean toilets and dump french fries for us, give us the smart guys at the train station.
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The unique misfortune of the Palestinian refugees is that they are a weapon in what seems to be a permanent war...today, in the Middle East, you get a repeated sinking sensation about the Palestinian refugees: they are only a beginning, not an end. Their function is to hang around and be constantly useful as a goad. The ultimate aim is not such humane small potatoes as repatriating refugees.
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2009, 09:47:51 am »
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there should be a world full of Richiuses (Richiuii?).
Richii.

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This implies that Sweden has more competent workers in it than the United States.
Hardly just "implied".
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I may conceivably reconsider.

Knowing me it's more likely than not.
Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2009, 10:07:43 am »
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That ain't my flavor of libertarianism.  Who wouldn't want more intelligent workers...in any field?  Smarter people do jobs better, even if they are way too smart for the job.  This would be especially important in jobs that deal with the public like this idiot libertarian is ranting about.  Just imagine how much easier flying would be if the TSA was made up of smart, efficient people.  Leave the dumbasses to clean toilets and dump french fries for us, give us the smart guys at the train station.

More than just some nobody though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Caplan (Actually reading those quotes makes me realize that he is even a bigger douche than I originally thought).
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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2009, 05:28:05 pm »
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Things I have learned from this article:

1) Education is bad. Indeed, Mass Education is very bad because it is "inefficient" and should not be given to "workers". Indeed it would be better off if Sweden and Denmark had stupider/less educated people working the trains like the United States (and it would save more in taxes too!). The only reason people get educated is to work and get a high paid, non-menial job; workers like the train tickets seller (of course Brian wasn't polite enough to ask for his views) shouldn't actually be educated at all as that would violate THE PRINCIPLE OF COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE OMGZ!!11. . . .

2) The purpose of life is apparently work and to make money (why else should people with skills not take up unskilled or semi-skilled jobs?) and indeed the use of one skills should be headed towards that job. Not notion of even social worth or utility here. Yay! For Monotous Materialism.

Show me where Caplan makes any of those claims. I read and re-read his blog post, and couldn't find those startling views anywhere.
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2009, 06:42:05 pm »
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Things I have learned from this article:

1) Education is bad. Indeed, Mass Education is very bad because it is "inefficient" and should not be given to "workers". Indeed it would be better off if Sweden and Denmark had stupider/less educated people working the trains like the United States (and it would save more in taxes too!). The only reason people get educated is to work and get a high paid, non-menial job; workers like the train tickets seller (of course Brian wasn't polite enough to ask for his views) shouldn't actually be educated at all as that would violate THE PRINCIPLE OF COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE OMGZ!!11. . . .

2) The purpose of life is apparently work and to make money (why else should people with skills not take up unskilled or semi-skilled jobs?) and indeed the use of one skills should be headed towards that job. Not notion of even social worth or utility here. Yay! For Monotous Materialism.

Show me where Caplan makes any of those claims. I read and re-read his blog post, and couldn't find those startling views anywhere.

The argument is basically "smart, intelligent people are (without asking them) doing useless menial work, this is a waste of resources "a tragic waste", instead people of less intelligence and less education should be doing those jobs - which would not "violate the principle of comparative advantage" (ie. people should make their decisions to the diktats of economic laws thus #2) indeed it is desirable that people with lower-skills, which he effectively admits are rare in Sweden (see comments on education and on welfare) exist and should do these jobs themselves and they are beneath educated people. Indeed he admits his classism and his disdain for actual intelligence and learning with the comment that the Dane doing the tickets would be a manager in the United States (if you read the rest of his articles, as you do, you know he prefers the US to Denmark as it is "oppressive to materialist and ambitious minded people*".

* - Whoever they are.

How anyone can't see that this is anti-intellectual elitist garbage is beyond me. (And then of course there is the welfare comment; which I note you did not list in your quote)
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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2009, 07:20:30 pm »
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Caplan does indeed suggest that people of less competence—those on welfare—should be doing the unskilled labor. That I don't deny. He also assumes that skilled workers would prefer to do more challenging work—a claim that may or may not be correct.

Re-read your post; you made far more sweeping accusations.

The word "menial" is completely absent from his post, and the word "useless" is used only in an unrelated context.
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2009, 01:46:15 pm »
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I agree with Gully here 100%.

This guy is basically suggesting that education is "welfare", that welfare is inherently bad, and that people should be less educated in order to perform unskilled labor.

Just think, Libertarians, how much money we could save by gutting the education system and providing educations only to those who can afford it!

There's certainly a toilet scrubbing or fruit picking job out there for those young adults raised by a poor family!

The free market will save us all.


P.S.:  Philip, I'd like you to quantify the argument here rather than just trying to pick apart Gully's argument.  What, exactly, is the problem in Sweden, and how do you suggest we "fix" it?
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2009, 09:28:46 pm »
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His blog entry does indeed use the word "menial"; don't know how I missed that. It doesn't, in any case, affect the substance of my post.

This guy is basically suggesting that education is "welfare", that welfare is inherently bad, and that people should be less educated in order to perform unskilled labor.

Re-read Caplan's words; that's not what he states at all. Indeed, nowhere does he say that even a single person is "too educated" per se. Rather, he suggests that some people are "too educated" to be performing unskilled labor.

Quote
P.S.:  Philip, I'd like you to quantify the argument here rather than just trying to pick apart Gully's argument.  What, exactly, is the problem in Sweden, and how do you suggest we "fix" it?

My point is a modest one: Caplan's blog entry does not make the cartoonish argument Gully has attributed to him. I don't know, and don't claim to know, what the problem in Sweden is—if indeed there is a problem.
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2009, 03:27:30 am »
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His blog entry does indeed use the word "menial"; don't know how I missed that. It doesn't, in any case, affect the substance of my post.

This guy is basically suggesting that education is "welfare", that welfare is inherently bad, and that people should be less educated in order to perform unskilled labor.

Re-read Caplan's words; that's not what he states at all. Indeed, nowhere does he say that even a single person is "too educated" per se. Rather, he suggests that some people are "too educated" to be performing unskilled labor.

Quote
P.S.:  Philip, I'd like you to quantify the argument here rather than just trying to pick apart Gully's argument.  What, exactly, is the problem in Sweden, and how do you suggest we "fix" it?

My point is a modest one: Caplan's blog entry does not make the cartoonish argument Gully has attributed to him. I don't know, and don't claim to know, what the problem in Sweden is—if indeed there is a problem.
He claims that it's a waste when educated people do unskilled labor... but there isn't a large enough pool of uneducated workers in Sweden to cover all of the unskilled jobs..

So to address this inefficiency you can either stop educating certain people or you can try and somehow get rid of the low-skill jobs.. or invite unskilled workers in.. but that can inefficient in itself.

You don't seem to think things through, Philip.  No, he did not explicitly say he wanted to dumb down the population to save money and make it more efficient, but he pretty much implied it.

And that was a slick excuse to get out of addressing my question to you.

If you're going to defend the economist that wrote the article, then I expect you to defend his argument as well rather than skirting around the issue and trying to find a few exaggerations to focus on in Gully's post.

If you don't want to defend the argument or don't care about it, then don't pick apart Gully's post.  The thread is about the economist and his ideas.. not about critiquing Gully's post.
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2009, 09:43:46 am »
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Caplan's claim was that the lack of unskilled workers is a consequence of the unskilled population's being on welfare.

The thread is indeed about the economist and his ideas—or more precisely, about using the economist and his ideas as a springboard for (illogically) trashing an entire political movement that he's affiliated with. As it turns out, some of the ideas being attributed to Caplan are based on a strained and implausible reading of the blog entry at issue. That's all I'm saying, and I don't see how it can plausibly be characterized as "off topic."
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2009, 07:48:51 pm »
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Re-read Caplan's words; that's not what he states at all. Indeed, nowhere does he say that even a single person is "too educated" per se. Rather, he suggests that some people are "too educated" to be performing unskilled labor.

I don't see the difference. That is basically what I've been attacking (in part). Not to mention that his argument if you think about it contradicts itself by essentially admitting that Swedish workers are more efficient workers than Americans (Note: I don't know whether this true or not, but that is what he is saying) funny for a "libertarian". Anyway the attitude of the whole thing is the most disgusting thing.

Oh and as for this thread I plan to make it a long running thing.
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I'm kind of tired of citing these examples and I'm guessing you're getting tired of reading them... In closing, the people who know me in real life all respect me, as do a great many people in the Reddit brony community

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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2009, 08:51:29 pm »
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The language you quote was in response to Snowguy. My response to you is two posts up.

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by essentially admitting that Swedish workers are more efficient workers than Americans

Well, if the unskilled population is kept on welfare—which is Caplan's theory—then that will naturally tend to drive up the working population's average skill level.

Not sure why you insist on putting scare quotes around the term "libertarian."
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2009, 12:13:42 am »
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Not sure why you insist on putting scare quotes around the term "libertarian."
I'm still waiting for the bashing and the extravaganza.  There is one thing that has become obvious though, if somebody claims to be about to bash libertarians you can rest assured they won't bring up anything even close to a position actually held by a majority of libertarians.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 09:34:02 am by Dave Leip »Logged

Quote from:   Martha Gellhorn for The Atlantic 1961
The unique misfortune of the Palestinian refugees is that they are a weapon in what seems to be a permanent war...today, in the Middle East, you get a repeated sinking sensation about the Palestinian refugees: they are only a beginning, not an end. Their function is to hang around and be constantly useful as a goad. The ultimate aim is not such humane small potatoes as repatriating refugees.
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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2009, 01:35:50 pm »
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The language you quote was in response to Snowguy. My response to you is two posts up.

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by essentially admitting that Swedish workers are more efficient workers than Americans

Well, if the unskilled population is kept on welfare—which is Caplan's theory—then that will naturally tend to drive up the working population's average skill level.

Not sure why you insist on putting scare quotes around the term "libertarian."

... Which as Sweden has actually a lower unemployment rate than America and that more skilled (whatever that means) people are doing unskilled (also, wtm) jobs that implies that skill levels (whatever they are) are higher in Sweden than the United States.

As for the rest:

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Caplan's claim was that the lack of unskilled workers is a consequence of the unskilled population's being on welfare.

... And this is bad? (which is what Caplan is implying). Why is people being unskilled (read: uneducated in this context) a bad thing?

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Not sure why you insist on putting scare quotes around the term "libertarian."

Because libertarians are against anything I would consider actual liberty. Also I resent the way the word was hijacked to describe radical free-marketers which is very different from its original definition, also applied to Bakuninite anarchists.

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I'm still waiting for the bashing and the extravaganza.  There is one thing that has become obvious though, if somebody claims to be about to bash libertarians you can rest assured they won't bring up anything even close to a position actually held by a majority of libertarians.

Oh I'm biding my time.
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I'm kind of tired of citing these examples and I'm guessing you're getting tired of reading them... In closing, the people who know me in real life all respect me, as do a great many people in the Reddit brony community

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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2009, 02:32:33 am »
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<looks at watch>
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Quote from:   Martha Gellhorn for The Atlantic 1961
The unique misfortune of the Palestinian refugees is that they are a weapon in what seems to be a permanent war...today, in the Middle East, you get a repeated sinking sensation about the Palestinian refugees: they are only a beginning, not an end. Their function is to hang around and be constantly useful as a goad. The ultimate aim is not such humane small potatoes as repatriating refugees.
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« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2010, 04:16:39 pm »
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Bump.

I need to use this thread more often.

Anyway it has occured me that Libertarianism is the bizarre ideology, completely contrary to even basic intutions or life experience, that if everything did everything that they wanted (and let's be clear... this is what this is about, not 'capitalism', 'free markets'* or other masking bollocks) the world would be wealthier, happier and more enlightened place. Unsurprisingly, it is really about self. And people make fun of communists.

* - This term should be abolished from the English language NOW**.

** - Though it does not anywhere get the banality of 'economic freedom'.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 04:34:43 pm by Ghyl Tarvoke »Logged



Quote from: DarqWolff
I'm kind of tired of citing these examples and I'm guessing you're getting tired of reading them... In closing, the people who know me in real life all respect me, as do a great many people in the Reddit brony community

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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2010, 04:27:20 pm »
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Which is not to say, I'll with the add, that 'the state' (whatever that is) or 'the government' (whatever that be) is necessarily a good restricting agent either (or that 'restricting' is necessarily a good thing... though it is rather the world's fault that most of the people who live in it are clearly not up to the task).

Austrian Economics is a giant joke whose entire purpose is to reassure its thinkers that the profit motive is in fact a moral cause. The fact that leading Austrian economists attack state education or Grameen bank or hold that child labour in Nineteenth Century England was mostly a 'state' issue shows this to be true. There isn't an Austrian economists who isn't a joke historian (see Nineteenth Century England comment; also see Murray Rothbard's historical commentary).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 01:04:17 pm by Ghyl Tarvoke »Logged



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I'm kind of tired of citing these examples and I'm guessing you're getting tired of reading them... In closing, the people who know me in real life all respect me, as do a great many people in the Reddit brony community

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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2010, 05:03:49 pm »
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There's a difference between anarcho-capitalists and other so-called "miniarchist" libertarians. You're describing the former.
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LOL, Failure

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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2010, 05:09:32 pm »
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There's a difference between anarcho-capitalists and other so-called "miniarchist" libertarians. You're describing the former.

     Though when one realizes that the former regards the latter as largely fake libertarians, one sees why Gully would feel the need to rant against them.
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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2010, 05:34:51 pm »
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Anyway it has occured me that Libertarianism is the bizarre ideology, completely contrary to even basic intutions or life experience, that if everything did everything that they wanted

Libertarianism is the doctrine that Lockean property rights are absolute or near-absolute, and that the repeated and systematic invasion of them is properly criminal.

"Austrian Economics is a giant joke whose entire purpose is to reassure its thinkers that the profit motive is in fact a moral cause." If emphasis were enough to prove a point, you would be safe in resting your case. But your reasoning is sloppy; it consists of listing a few positions of some Austrian economists (your link doesn't work, BTW), assuming that they're wrong, and then using amateur psychology to discern their "real" motive for believing what is (supposedly) patently false.

I don't have any problem with critiques of Austrian economics or its leading thinkers, but your criticism is just silly.
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« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2010, 12:15:01 am »
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I'm still waiting for the bashing and the extravaganza.  There is one thing that has become obvious though, if somebody claims to be about to bash libertarians you can rest assured they won't bring up anything even close to a position actually held by a majority of libertarians.
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Quote from:   Martha Gellhorn for The Atlantic 1961
The unique misfortune of the Palestinian refugees is that they are a weapon in what seems to be a permanent war...today, in the Middle East, you get a repeated sinking sensation about the Palestinian refugees: they are only a beginning, not an end. Their function is to hang around and be constantly useful as a goad. The ultimate aim is not such humane small potatoes as repatriating refugees.
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« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2010, 12:17:09 am »
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There's a difference between anarcho-capitalists and other so-called "miniarchist" libertarians. You're describing the former.

     Though when one realizes that the former regards the latter as largely fake libertarians, one sees why Gully would feel the need to rant against them.

Indeed, an unfortunate truth.
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LOL, Failure

Alright, if Republicans gain less than 75 seats, I'll prominently display my failure in my signature.
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« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2010, 03:58:43 am »
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Libertarianism as it is presently construed deserves to be ridiculed. Austrian Economics is innately self-contradictory; it provides for no mechanism by which to prevent a corporate-State (as in, the United States of Microsoft) from emerging. It cannot guarantee economic competition, and therefore is self-negating.
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2010, 01:06:13 pm »
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Anyway it has occured me that Libertarianism is the bizarre ideology, completely contrary to even basic intutions or life experience, that if everything did everything that they wanted

Libertarianism is the doctrine that Lockean property rights are absolute or near-absolute, and that the repeated and systematic invasion of them is properly criminal.

"Austrian Economics is a giant joke whose entire purpose is to reassure its thinkers that the profit motive is in fact a moral cause." If emphasis were enough to prove a point, you would be safe in resting your case. But your reasoning is sloppy; it consists of listing a few positions of some Austrian economists (your link doesn't work, BTW), assuming that they're wrong, and then using amateur psychology to discern their "real" motive for believing what is (supposedly) patently false.

I don't have any problem with critiques of Austrian economics or its leading thinkers, but your criticism is just silly.

Obviously you shouldn't take what I said there as my literal position (except on Austrian Economists as historians, which is more of a general comment). Though I do think there is an element of that in it.

Also as for definition of libertarianism (I was attacking more the common garden variety); Define 'property' please.

Also I fixed the link.

I'm still waiting for the bashing and the extravaganza.  There is one thing that has become obvious though, if somebody claims to be about to bash libertarians you can rest assured they won't bring up anything even close to a position actually held by a majority of libertarians.

Don't take everything I say seriously. etc. etc.
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Quote from: DarqWolff
I'm kind of tired of citing these examples and I'm guessing you're getting tired of reading them... In closing, the people who know me in real life all respect me, as do a great many people in the Reddit brony community

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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
As I have noted before 'paradigm shift' is an anagram of 'grasp dim faith'
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