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Sunday, March 31, 2013

OTP: April 2013: Daily Caller: Baseball and the GOP: To rebrand the party, think like a sports fan

This week’s GOP autopsy report, commissioned by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, is a great start in the much-needed task of rebranding the Republican Party. As the chairman acknowledged, “the way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough” and “we have to be more inclusive.” The report contains 219 recommendations to “connect people to our principles.” To achieve that goal, the party will need a strategic vision of how voters think about politics, which is something that the report lacks. For that, the GOP can learn a lot from another American passion: baseball.

This year, about 75 million Americans will go to the baseball stadium to watch a ballgame, about the same number as those who will vote in next year’s election. We rarely think about why someone becomes a baseball fan, or why they root for a certain team. Nor do we usually think about why someone chooses to vote for a certain political party. But it’s actually a very useful exercise.

When it comes to baseball, fan loyalty has almost nothing to do with the brain, and almost everything to do with the heart. In all of history, there’s never been a baseball fan who rooted for his team because it had the lowest ticket prices, or because it had the most taxpayer-friendly stadium deal, or because its players did the most community service. For the vast majority of Americans, rooting for a baseball team — not to mention, voting for a political party — isn’t really a rational choice; it’s more of a statement of personal identity — a statement telling the world, “This is who I am.” And for most people, defining “who I am” starts with family and community, before branching out into areas like race, age, gender, and class.

Family is pretty straightforward. If your mom and dad are Yankee fans, you’re almost certainly a Yankee fan. The same is true in politics. If your mom and dad are Republicans, you’re almost certainly a Republican.

Community is also pretty straightforward. If you grew up in, say, Philadelphia, chances are pretty great you’re a Phillies fan. Likewise, someone who grew up in Republican territory like, say, suburban Dallas or rural Indiana is much more likely to become a Republican than a nearly identical person from Seattle or Santa Fe.

Cities with more than one baseball team, like New York or Chicago, show revealing breakdowns by race and gender. The racial split in Chicago between Cubs fans on the North Side and White Sox fans on the South Side is well-documented. In New York, there’s an intriguing gender gap between Mets and Yankee fans, with women gravitating a lot more to the Yanks. While there’s a few theories out there trying to explain that, one obvious answer leaps out: Yankees heartthrob Derek Jeter.

In sports, as in politics, people’s convictions can’t be conveniently reduced to who their parents are or what they look like. But those things are an important foundation, upon which more rational sentiments come into being. Once you’re attached to your team on an emotional level — seeing them as a personal reflection of who you are and what you care about most — a rational exterior comes into being through phrases like “the Red Sox are the best team because they have the most heart” or “the Republicans are the best party because they know how to create jobs.”

Tripon Posted: March 31, 2013 at 10:52 AM | 6544 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   6501. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4431879)
Microsoft has never had a monopoly in anything, by your current definition. It never tried to outlaw other OSes, browsers, office suites, or the like, and despite its size, never existed without competition. You're just twisting to avoid the implications of your prior argument.

What was Microsoft's share of PC OSs in the 90's and 00's? 90%?

That's a Monopoly. It doesn't have to literally be 100%. The fact that they forced every PC maker to keep including DOS on their PCs, and paying for it, long after it was no longer needed, indicates strong monopoly power.

Likewise, the 5 big banks in the US now have a gov't sponsored oligopoly with ~50% of deposits. JP Morgan, Chase, Citibank, B of A, and Wells Fargo all need to be broken us. So do Goldman and Morgan Stanley.
   6502. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4431880)
Fact is, Wal-Marts have succeeded mom-and-pops in many areas simply because the people don't actually value what you value. Why should your values be given a win when it earned a loss in the marketplace of ideas?


Someone should mention Tom Slee's No-One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart.
   6503. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4431883)
Nothing worthwhile comes from pretending that you're the only side of a debate that has cogent ideas,

That link of Sam's is so to the point that it's worth quoting in full, for those who are too lazy to click on it:
Yes, but irony doesn't allow it to be quoted.
   6504. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4431891)
There is nothing more authoritarian about structuring the rules of society and gov't to tilt the playing field towards small organizations, than the current tilting of the system towards large organizations.
Vague. But there is something more authoritarian about tilting the playing field towards small organizations than about GTFO the playing field and leaving it for the players.
It is no more authoritarian for a gov't to break up a monopoly than it is to condone, or more likely, be in connivance with the monopoly. They are simply choices about the optimal ordering of society.
Breaking up a monopoly is very authoritarian. Not breaking up a monopoly is not. Making "choices about the optimal ordering of society" is authoritarian. Indeed, assuming that there is an "optimal ordering of society" is taking us down that primrose path to authoritarianism.
   6505. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4431894)
Vague. But there is something more authoritarian about tilting the playing field towards small organizations than about GTFO the playing field and leaving it for the players.

There is no way not to tilt the field. The absence of anti-trust law is tilting the field toward monopoly.

Breaking up a monopoly is very authoritarian. Not breaking up a monopoly is not. Making "choices about the optimal ordering of society" is authoritarian. Indeed, assuming that there is an "optimal ordering of society" is taking us down that primrose path to authoritarianism.

We must choose an ordering. There is no state of nature.
   6506. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4431898)
As for Microsoft, yes, its share of the OS market was 90% at its peak. Of course, by your definition in which different bishops count as different churches, then it wasn't anything close to that, since there were all different versions of Windows out there.

But your argument gets even less sensible once you talk about OSes. How exactly did you plan to "break up" that monopoly? Force consumers to buy machines with Linux, instead?
   6507. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4431901)
That link of Sam's is so to the point that it's worth quoting in full, for those who are too lazy to click on it:

Yes, but irony doesn't allow it to be quoted.


Sorry if you missed it the first time, David, but here it is again, just for you:

How to Be a Political-Opinion Journalist
First, don't attack weak arguments.
Ta-Nehisi Coates May 1 2013


In response to David Brooks's column on how to write about politics, Jonathan Chait offers some ideas of his own. It probably won't surprise you that I like Chait's a little better. Here's a pretty good rule:

Don't debate straw men. If you're arguing against an idea, you need to accurately describe the people who hold them. If at all possible, link to them and quote their argument. This is a discipline that forces opinion writers to prove that they're debating an idea somebody actually holds. And quoting the subject forces them to show that somebody influential holds it -- if the best example of the opposing view is a random blog comment, then you're exposing the fact that you're arguing against an idea nobody of any stature shares. This ought to be an easy and universal guideline, but in reality, it's mostly flouted.

You'd be shocked how many professional writers don't do this. Much like a boxer who wants to fight the best in the world, you want to take on the best of your opposition, and their most credible arguments. (My neighbor James Fallows excels at this.)

This is not only for the benefit of people who read you, but for your own. To paraphrase Douglass, a writer is worked on by what she works on. If you spend your time raging at the weakest arguments, or your most hysterical opponents, expect your own intellect to suffer. The intellect is a muscle; it must be exercised. There are cases in which people of great influence say stupid things and thus must be taken on. (See Chait on George Will's disgraceful lying about climate change.) But you should keep your feuds with Michelle Malkin to a minimum.

In the interest of exercising that intellect, I would add something else: Write about something other than current politics. Do not limit yourself to fighting with people who are alive. Fight with some of the intellectual greats. Fight with historians, scientists, and academics. And then after you fight with them, have the decency to admit when they've kicked your ass. Do not use your platform to act like they didn't. Getting your ass kicked is an essential part of growing your intellectual muscle.

To do all of that, you have to actually be curious. You have to not just want to be heard, but want to listen. Brooks makes the point that the detached writer's role should be "more like teaching than activism." I would say that it should be more like learning than teaching. The stuff you put on the page should be the byproduct of all you are taking in -- and that taking in should not end after you get a degree from a selective university. Keep going. You must keep going.
   6508. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4431902)
There is no way not to tilt the field. The absence of anti-trust law is tilting the field toward monopoly.
No, it isn't. It's not tilting it at all.

There are two separate arguments you seem to be making, both of them are wrong. The first is that the natural state of the market is towards monopoly. The second is that a monopoly naturally arising is the same thing as the government creating a monopoly.

We must choose an ordering. There is no state of nature.
No, there are many orderings. As long as they're voluntary, we don't need to choose one.
   6509. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4431905)
But your argument gets even less sensible once you talk about OSes. How exactly did you plan to "break up" that monopoly? Force consumers to buy machines with Linux, instead?

If it is a natural monopoly, you separate it from the rest of the businesses, so they can not tie any other sales to the monopoly product.

If the natural monopoly is harming the economy through exorbitant pricing, you regulate it's prices and profits, like with utilities.
   6510. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4431909)
There are two separate arguments you seem to be making, both of them are wrong. The first is that the natural state of the market is towards monopoly. The second is that a monopoly naturally arising is the same thing as the government creating a monopoly.

The impact of the two is the same. I don't care about the origins. There is no right to gain monopoly power.

No, there are many orderings. As long as they're voluntary, we don't need to choose one.

Not choosing is to choose. If there was no ordering, Microsoft couldn't be a monopoly, b/c anyone could freely copy their code and sell it. The gov't choosing to enforce Microsoft's patents is choosing an ordering. Other companies do not voluntarily refrain from copying Microsoft's code. Hell, in China they don't refrain at all; but that's a separate issue.

   6511. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4431910)
Vague. But there is something more authoritarian about tilting the playing field towards small organizations than about GTFO the playing field and leaving it for the players.


The field is manufactured. It isn't something you just come across. The government makes the field, and decides what game is being played.
   6512. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4431919)
The field is manufactured. It isn't something you just come across. The government makes the field, and decides what game is being played.

Correct. There are a small number inherent rights people have that should restrain the design of the system, but all economic systems are a cultural and political construct.
   6513. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4431930)
Trollololol?

Blame Sam and Morty - they're the ones who claim that pre-Civil War slaves didn't have any rights violated. Freedom from slavery was simply a policy preference.
   6514. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4431941)
There are two separate arguments you seem to be making, both of them are wrong. The first is that the natural state of the market is towards monopoly.

The "natural" state of the world in the absence of countervailing governmental power is the tendency for the strong to run roughshod over the weak, either by physical force or by the shrewd application of financial strength, backed by lobbyists and high priced lawyers. The fact that corrupt governments often simply reinforce and increase this imbalance doesn't negate this point.

The second is that a monopoly naturally arising is the same thing as the government creating a monopoly.

Of course it's not "the same thing", but as snapper notes, the impact is often the same in terms of stifling any serious competition.

And BTW this isn't to say that I'd agree with all the particulars about some of the cases being discussed here. Whatever monopoly powers that Microsoft may have acquired at its peak have been largely addressed by forces beyond Microsoft's control.

A more interesting case IMO is whether or not the government's purchasing power should be allowed to force down the cost of prescription drug prices. Seems to me the only difference between that sort of jawboning and what Walmart does to its suppliers is the fact that in the former case the savings are being passed on far more directly to the consumer. I certainly pay a hell of a lot less getting eye drops from Canada than I'd ever pay here, even with prescription insurance.
   6515. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4431954)
A more interesting case IMO is whether or not the government's purchasing power should be allowed to force down the cost of prescription drug prices. Seems to me the only difference between that sort of jawboning and what Walmart does to its suppliers

There are certainly economic arguments for bulk discounts; large orders allow the supplier to better plan production, and reduce inventory costs. But, I'd argue that the same bulk discount must be offered to every customer.

If WalMart gets 10% off for buying 100,000 liters of Coca-Cola, any other customer should be able to get the same discount by ordering in that bulk.

   6516. Dan The Mediocre Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4431956)

Blame Sam and Morty - they're the ones who claim that pre-Civil War slaves didn't have any rights violated. Freedom from slavery was simply a policy preference.


Then I guess I missed the context. Not a general troll attempt, as I first thought.

But I think part of this debate is based around the question "can rights be said to exist if they cannot be enforced?" The response obviously differs based on how much you think rights should be inherent and how much they have to be fleshed out based on the circumstances. For me personally, rights are much too fuzzy to be thought of as inherent and untouchable. Certain rights should be fundamental to any human (which isn't a great way to say it since "human" is itself something that cannot be properly defined by words) but in so many ways they are also based on the circumstances. The right to bear arms (not to start an argument, but rather use as an example) can be limitless if the spear is the most effective weapon, but it obviously has limits if you can use a 3D printer to make atomic weaponry.
   6517. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4431978)
That's a fantastically bad summary of my position on the subject of rights theory.
   6518. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4431980)
The impact of the two is the same. I don't care about the origins. There is no right to gain monopoly power.
Well, that illustrates one of the key differences between libertarians and non. Libertarians believe that every distribution is just if it was achieved justly. Liberals believe in patterned theories of justice, in which a particular distribution can be be unfair even if nobody did anything wrong.

The classic enunciation of the libertarian position is Nozick's Wilt Chamberlain example. (Hey, A, S, and U was written a few decades ago.) It goes like this: start with any distribution that you personally deem fair and legitimate. Now, Chamberlain signs a contract in which he receives 10% of the gate. Lots and lots of people want to watch him play, and at the end of the season, he ends up with a humungous pile of money, far more than everyone else. Is this new distribution of wealth legitimate? How can it not be? We started from an arrangement that you conceded was just. And Chamberlain didn't do anything wrong; people voluntarily paid to watch him play. So what if he ended up with a disproportionate amount of wealth?


Of course there's no "right to gain monopoly power." But there's a right to engage in consensual transactions with other people. If that results in having a monopoly, that's fine. There's no right for anyone else to interfere at any point in that process.
   6519. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4431984)
If WalMart gets 10% off for buying 100,000 liters of Coca-Cola, any other customer should be able to get the same discount by ordering in that bulk.
It's not clear what the source of your "should" is, but I would point out that this is actually the law. The Robinson-Patman Act forbids price discrimination among similarly situated buyers.
   6520. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:04 PM (#4431987)
Well, that illustrates one of the key differences between libertarians and non. Libertarians believe that every distribution is just if it was achieved justly. Liberals believe in patterned theories of justice, in which a particular distribution can be be unfair even if nobody did anything wrong.

The classic enunciation of the libertarian position is Nozick's Wilt Chamberlain example. (Hey, A, S, and U was written a few decades ago.) It goes like this: start with any distribution that you personally deem fair and legitimate. Now, Chamberlain signs a contract in which he receives 10% of the gate. Lots and lots of people want to watch him play, and at the end of the season, he ends up with a humungous pile of money, far more than everyone else. Is this new distribution of wealth legitimate? How can it not be? We started from an arrangement that you conceded was just. And Chamberlain didn't do anything wrong; people voluntarily paid to watch him play. So what if he ended up with a disproportionate amount of wealth?


Of course there's no "right to gain monopoly power." But there's a right to engage in consensual transactions with other people. If that results in having a monopoly, that's fine. There's no right for anyone else to interfere at any point in that process.


All monopolies engage in coercive behavior to maintain and extend their monopoly. There is no such thing as a Monopoly that engages in purely consensual transactions.

Lord Acton covered this one. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And I'm no liberal.
   6521. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4431989)
It's not clear what the source of your "should" is, but I would point out that this is actually the law. The Robinson-Patman Act forbids price discrimination among similarly situated buyers.

My source of "should" is basic fairness.

Now how often is that law observed?
   6522. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4431992)
There are certainly economic arguments for bulk discounts; large orders allow the supplier to better plan production, and reduce inventory costs. But, I'd argue that the same bulk discount must be offered to every customer.

If WalMart gets 10% off for buying 100,000 liters of Coca-Cola, any other customer should be able to get the same discount by ordering in that bulk.


I'd certainly agree with that, but I'd take it further, by means of an example from the 70's and 80's that might seem quaint from a 35 year perspective. It has to do with the trade formerly known as "the book business". Those over a certain age might even remember it from first hand experience.

Anyhoo, up through about 1977 there was a local DC chain (Olsson's) which used to have a terrific selection of interesting titles in all subject matters. As was often the case with independent booksellers in that era, they took the profit made off their bestsellers and used it to maintain a deep inventory in areas that were in relatively light demand. They never spelled it out, but it was an implicit grand bargain that they had with their customers: You support us by buying your bestsellers here, and we'll make this into the best book shop for quality and selection that we can.

And then came Crown Books. With an stake from his pharmacy chain owning daddy, a recent Harvard grad with a Plan (Robert Haft, son of Herbert) set out to disrupt the entire setup. Beginning in 1977 in the DC area and Los Angeles, and quickly spreading his tentacles around the country, he used his bulk purchasing power to get much bigger discounts from publishers than local shops like Olsson's were ever able to attain. This of course put him at a huge competitive advantage.

Now if he'd simply done that, it would've been one thing. Crown would've made a bigger profit off his bestsellers, but it wouldn't have effected the independents. But instead, what he did was to discount the Times bestsellers by a then-unheard of 40%, which had one crippling effect on the competition: It drove away their customer base for bestsellers, and left those independents with greatly reduced capital with which to maintain their non-bestseller inventory.

The independents were faced with the choice of either not matching Crown's prices, and losing their customers, or matching their prices but with much reduced profit---and with the added disadvantage of not being able to get that bulk purchase price from publishers, who themselves were stuck between a rock (alienating their longstanding independent customers) and a hard place (losing enormous orders from Crown, and later from Barnes & Noble, once that chain got around to nationwide expansion). The ostensible "beneficiary" in all this was the customer who buys little but bestsellers, but the loss was the greatly diminished ability to find a good stock of books anywhere in Washington, at least until Borders came along in the 90's and (temporarily) addressed that issue.

Of course with the internet it's all kind of a moot point as far as the book business goes, as Crown thankfully self-destructed and brick & mortar stores have much bigger problems than Barnes & Noble to worry about. But the hidden costs of bulk purchasing aren't always that apparent until you start digging beneath the surface and start noticing the collateral damage that it often entails. It's one thing when the result is lower consumer costs for basics like prescriptions. It's another thing altogether when all those bulk purchases do is to reinforce the advantage that megachains have over every other business.
   6523. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4432000)
My source of "should" is basic fairness.
When you buy groceries at Shop Rite one week, do you think you need to buy them at A&P the next week out of a sense of "basic fairness" to each store? Do you attend shul one week and mass the next out of a sense of "basic fairness" to each religion? What is this, kindergarten?

All monopolies engage in coercive behavior to maintain and extend their monopoly. There is no such thing as a Monopoly that engages in purely consensual transactions.
For legitimate definitions of "coercive," this is silly. I realize I'm posting this on a site where people thought that the prospect of making millions of dollars for doing something was "coercion" rather than an incentive, but of course monopolies engage in purely consensual transactions, for the definition of "monopoly" you're using.
   6524. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4432012)
For legitimate definitions of "coercive," this is silly. I realize I'm posting this on a site where people thought that the prospect of making millions of dollars for doing something was "coercion" rather than an incentive, but of course monopolies engage in purely consensual transactions, for the definition of "monopoly" you're using.

When WalMart tells supplier X they have to reduce their price and profit margin on their product below what they charge anyone else, yes, that's coercive. When a market participant can demand to be treated differently b/c of it's market position, that is coercion.
   6525. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4432022)
When WalMart tells supplier X they have to reduce their price and profit margin on their product below what they charge anyone else, yes, that's coercive. When a market participant can demand to be treated differently b/c of it's market position, that is coercion.
No, that's negotiation. We all do it every day. They don't tell supplier X that they "have to" do anything; they tell them that they won't buy from supplier X unless supplier X gives them a price they like. It's no more "coercive" than you telling the car salesman that you don't care about sticker price, that you're not offering a penny more than $28,000 for the car, and that you're leaving in 5 minutes if he doesn't agree.
   6526. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4432024)
When WalMart tells supplier X they have to reduce their price and profit margin on their product below what they charge anyone else, yes, that's coercive.

Of course it is, but David only counts it as coercive if the government or the Mafia compels it. You'll never get him to acknowledge any other forms of coercion, which is why discussions like this usually wind up at a dead end.
   6527. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4432027)
No, that's negotiation. We all do it every day. They don't tell supplier X that they "have to" do anything; they tell them that they won't buy from supplier X unless supplier X gives them a price they like. It's no more "coercive" than you telling the car salesman that you don't care about sticker price, that you're not offering a penny more than $28,000 for the car, and that you're leaving in 5 minutes if he doesn't agree.

Right, as if the threat to cancel an order for one car is the same as threatening to cancel an order for 100,000 items.
   6528. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4432028)
No, that's negotiation. We all do it every day.

OK, so if we go on a hike, and you break your leg, can I charge you $1M for the use of my cellphone to call for help?
   6529. SteveF Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4432038)
OK, so if we go on a hike, and you break your leg, can I charge you $1M for the use of my cellphone to call for help?


I'd make sure he pays you up front, preferably in gold bullion.
   6530. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4432041)
OK, so if we go on a hike, and you break your leg, can I charge you $1M for the use of my cellphone to call for help?
Of course.

Unless you pushed me over a cliff to cause me to break my leg.

I'm not saying it would be charitable; I'm just saying it wouldn't be coercion.
   6531. Jay Z Posted: May 02, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4432044)
On the whole market versus freedom angle, MLB (and other pro sports) have always had huge collusion and anti-market issues. The franchises are way overvalued. The fact that a MLB franchise hasn't failed in over 100 years should be evidence itself that the system is wrong. I thought bad businesses were supposed to fail. Doesn't happen in MLB. Even if the owner is a moron, he still sells at a profit since the number of franchises is artificially capped.

It was wrong to make Jack Dunn get a whole league together when he had the will, ability, and market size capable of supporting Major League baseball. It was wrong not to let Negro League teams petition for entry into the majors. It was wrong for MLB to ban the players who played in the Mexican League. It was wrong for the MLB teams to take money of the players' hands by refusing to sign each others' players (while refusing to honor the contracts from other leagues.) It was wrong that moronic, skinflint owners not to face competition.

And yeah, some of the stuff like the reserve clause was eventually "corrected", decades later, after many players had retired and died. And this is the way Nieporent wants it, because he values owner freedom over markets.
   6532. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 02, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4432068)
Of course.

Unless you pushed me over a cliff to cause me to break my leg.

I'm not saying it would be charitable; I'm just saying it wouldn't be coercion.


You're consistent, ridiculous, but consistent. The courts, however, would disagree with you. It is clearly coercion, and an unconscionable contract.
   6533. Morty Causa Posted: May 02, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4432267)
So: Over a span of about 100 years the federal government has declined to act wrt Major League Baseball as a monopoly. Has MLB's monopoly hold been broken? Or doesn't it have one?
   6534. CrosbyBird Posted: May 03, 2013 at 06:32 AM (#4432726)
My position on CEOs: I quite simply don't care what they make, and don't think it's a bad thing if they make $50 million a year -- or $500 million. It's a complete non-issue. I'd guess the core of it is jealousy, but who the hell knows.

As an individual issue, I don't really care what anyone makes. I suppose there's a little bit of envy, because I'm a human being, but not enough for me to pick up a pitchfork and torch. Then again, I have enough money to cover everything I need, and most of what I want. It's hard for me to muster up too much resentment.

In the aggregate, though, I'm pretty convinced that extreme wealth inequality is a bad thing. I think that leads to serious social unrest.
   6535. Ron J2 Posted: May 03, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4432767)
Mostly due to the technological gains that result in far fewer infant deaths.


That's a big part of it (combined with sharply limiting childbirth deaths. Until the late 19th century the leading cause of death in women). The other part is that by and large we're doing a decent job of preventing deaths that we now know are preventable.

The story I linked to upthread had some stats on death types that were very common at the turn of the 20th century (and obviously for all of human history up until then). Thing like dying of some form of chronic diarrhea.
   6536. Tripon Posted: May 03, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4432794)
My position on CEOs: I quite simply don't care what they make, and don't think it's a bad thing if they make $50 million a year -- or $500 million. It's a complete non-issue. I'd guess the core of it is jealousy, but who the hell knows.

As an individual issue, I don't really care what anyone makes. I suppose there's a little bit of envy, because I'm a human being, but not enough for me to pick up a pitchfork and torch. Then again, I have enough money to cover everything I need, and most of what I want. It's hard for me to muster up too much resentment.

In the aggregate, though, I'm pretty convinced that extreme wealth inequality is a bad thing. I think that leads to serious social unrest.


If your position is that government control and hoarding of wealth via taxes, etc. is bad, then I think you should hold a similar view on CEO pay. Especially if the salaries for high end execs is clearly contributing to wage stagnation for the rank and file. A CEO or another high ranking Exec simply needs the money less than an entry level worker.
   6537. Mefisto Posted: May 03, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4432797)
I agree with CB.
   6538. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 03, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4432956)
In the aggregate, though, I'm pretty convinced that extreme wealth inequality is a bad thing. I think that leads to serious social unrest.
I don't think there's any real evidence that "extreme wealth inequality," as opposed to extreme poverty, is what leads to serious social unrest.

To be sure, it depends on how you define your terms. Does OWS count as "serious social unrest"? Or are we talking about the Arab Spring revolts?
   6539. GregD Posted: May 03, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4432967)
I don't think there's any real evidence that "extreme wealth inequality," as opposed to extreme poverty, is what leads to serious social unrest.
That's a fair point. If you can run a society where people have jobs and some basic level of services, you can probably keep the peace even if the gap between rich and poor is getting much wider. The question is whether that gap builds in a political dynamic that undermines its own stability, if so much power concentrated in the hands of the rich ends up undercutting the very services and broad-based employment that keep things afloat. (And separately the consumer base that keeps the economy going.) We'll see.
   6540. Mefisto Posted: May 03, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4433014)
Exteme disparities in wealth needn't generate social unrest -- see most Banana Republics -- but they undermine republican government. Basically, the government has to get more repressive in order to preserve the wealth of the oligarchs.
   6541. CrosbyBird Posted: May 03, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4433099)
I don't think there's any real evidence that "extreme wealth inequality," as opposed to extreme poverty, is what leads to serious social unrest.

I don't think you can have extreme wealth inequality without extreme poverty. People who aren't desperate aren't going to risk giving up the good things they have to fight the system.

If I have to settle for a 47" HDTV rather than a 60" HDTV, my capacity for outrage is significantly lower than if I have to settle for working through the flu because I can't afford a day off from my job without benefits.

To be sure, it depends on how you define your terms. Does OWS count as "serious social unrest"? Or are we talking about the Arab Spring revolts?

My impression of OWS was generally privileged people complaining about "hard times" rather than legitimate poverty. I saw a lot of "college student poor" ("I have to eat ramen so I can still go out drinking Friday night") with a few legitimately poor people mixed in.

There's a healthy portion of the population that is convinced, rightly or wrongly, that the only way to escape poverty is through crime. That's social unrest.

Exteme disparities in wealth needn't generate social unrest -- see most Banana Republics -- but they undermine republican government. Basically, the government has to get more repressive in order to preserve the wealth of the oligarchs.

Doesn't repressive government generally lead to unrest?
   6542. Mefisto Posted: May 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4433124)
Doesn't repressive government generally lead to unrest?


Not really. Stalin and Mao never seemed to find it problematic, nor did US slaveholders. It's possible that being insufficiently repressive might lead to unrest, but most often that leads to quarrels among the ruling class, not street revolts.
   6543. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: May 05, 2013 at 03:38 AM (#4434366)
To be sure, it depends on how you define your terms. Does OWS count as "serious social unrest"? Or are we talking about the Arab Spring revolts?

My impression of OWS was generally privileged people complaining about "hard times" rather than legitimate poverty. I saw a lot of "college student poor" ("I have to eat ramen so I can still go out drinking Friday night") with a few legitimately poor people mixed in.

The seriously poor often don't demonstrate. They're too busy working, or scuffling, or dumpster diving, or returning bottles and cans, or too sick, or injured, or too disabled, or tending children...

There's a healthy portion of the population that is convinced, rightly or wrongly, that the only way to escape poverty is through crime. That's social unrest.
"Rightly or wrongly? How is it up for debate that the poverty forced on x% of the population through structural unemployment isn't escaped to a degree through crime?

What obliges the structurally unemployed, just to note one class of folks, not to turn to crime? Further, what obliges the disabled to accept the enforced poverty of the government's pathetic disability payments without turning to crime as well?

---------------

Re some earlier comments on monopolies, the apparatus of the state necessary to permit in the first place, then foster, then sustain, monopolies, is literally gargantuan. It is literally a trillion dollar enterprise that infects and subverts every human activity. You have to throw a whole lot of dust in your own eyes to pretend that the historical perversion of corporate charters, every bought politician, every police force necessary to suppress the fight against a monopoly, every environmental protection ignored and erased, the foisting of costs onto the public, the whole fantastic, perverse, and corrupt scheme, is somehow as natural as wind.

And yet we actually have a few here who decide that peeking behind that particular curtain is beyond the pale; that, somehow, breaking monopolies is what requires of a society extravagant amounts of energy, while their formation and maintenance is almost entirely artless; monopoly capitalism as state of nature.



   6544. zenbitz Posted: May 29, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4454958)
@4144 I got this last week and it is a great game. (Andean abyss from GMT)
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