Castro resigns

  • #151
mheslep
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The thread seems to be obsessing a bit on the 'bling' associated with capitalism, so I post this proposition (abbreviated version seen earlier)by Milton Friedman to turn back to basic argument:
Human and political freedom has never existed, and can not exist without a large measure of economic freedom
...I'm only saying that to me, the "freedom of economic choice" (read, the principles of market economy) is not the pinnacle of "freedom". It can be a good thing, all you want, but in matters of *freedom*, it is not such a big thing - IMO. If they take it partly away from me (as they do), I don't care.

To me, the pinnacle of freedom, is freedom of expression, and freedom to walk about. These score on my personal list of important freedoms, orders of magnitude higher than the freedom to choose which hamburger I'm going to eat...
This is a ranking of the economics vs political/human freedoms and as suggested above they shouldn't be compared in that sense; rather one (human and political freedom) is utterly dependent on the other (economic). What good is your right to walk around on Sunday if you can't buy clothes and shoes, or take the train? How much freedom of speech does someone from sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti enjoy, who has never seen a computer or much less jumped on the net?

Several times you mentioned you consider your job as not important in the scheme of freedoms. As I recall you are a nuclear physicist or engineer, and perhaps a very good one. Suppose they come and say, 'speak as you like, but continue to do so and you will never again work in this field. You will work in the cane fields, or serve in the Army, or you will not work anywhere and starve.' A glancing familiarity with the Soviet dissident Sakharov, or the authors Orwell, Solzenitzen (Gulag and Cancer Ward) shows it is just this kind of attack on livelihood that has often been effective at stifling dissent. We need pay no attention to the burger du jour. I wouldn't though join w/ a state that banned that burger business w/out due process since someone else's livelihood may depend on that burger at the point of sale, or via the delivery system, farms, etc and thus their ability to walk about on Sunday.

http://www.englishrussia.com/?p=1632" 1990:
 

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  • #152
Thanks for the photo of the Russian McDonald's mheslep. Earlier I had linked to http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE4DA1030F933A05757C0A96E948260" [Broken] about the joint venture to put that McDonalds in, which was a project begun under the Soviet Union.

In the link you provided it shows Russians lining up for Большой Макs and drinking Pepsi's. But isn't this exactly the “bling” you mention in your first sentence? Consumer goods aren't freedom, no matter how good capitalism is at making them. I must ask - are those pictures of people enjoying McDonalds food and Pepsi representative of freedom to you? I would expect that's the reason you posted them.

And by the way: your comment about being free to walk around on Sunday: you know that having a day off during the week is actually a fairly recent thing in capitalist economies, right? I think it's only been during the last century or so this has been generally possible in the wealthier nations.

And also, in socialist and communist countries people are likely to have more time off during the week, right? Your point about banning private burger restaurants threatening livelihood doesn't seem to jive with the discussion earlier about the right to work and the way that many communist countries would guarantee their citizens a job and a paycheck. Assuming you made those comments in opposition to communism, I wasn't entirely clear.
 
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  • #153
mheslep
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Thanks for the photo of the Russian McDonald's mheslep. Earlier I had linked to http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE4DA1030F933A05757C0A96E948260" [Broken] about the joint venture to put that McDonalds in, which was a project begun under the Soviet Union.

In the link you provided it shows Russians lining up for Большой Макs and drinking Pepsi's. But isn't this exactly the “bling” you mention in your first sentence?
No I don't consider people getting a meal at the only McD's in Russia bling! This however ...
Consumer goods aren't freedom, no matter how good capitalism is at making them. I must ask - are those pictures of people enjoying McDonalds food and Pepsi representative of freedom to you?
is simply 100's and 1000's of people waiting to get a meal of a quality (fresh, good service, ...) and low cost the likes of which they've probably never had at any business.

...fairly recent thing in capitalist economies, right? I think it's only been during the last century or so this has been generally possible in the wealthier nations.
Eh?

And also, in socialist and communist countries people are likely to have more time off during the week, right?
Source?
Your point about banning private burger restaurants threatening livelihood doesn't seem to jive with the discussion earlier about the right to work and the way that many communist countries would guarantee their citizens a job and a paycheck. Assuming you made those comments in opposition to communism, I wasn't entirely clear.
I equate 'time off' in Mao's China or the Soviet Union w/ time out of your cell to walk the yard in prison.
 
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  • #154
No I don't consider people getting a meal at the only McD's in Russia bling!
?? Does that mean that you consider the true substance and core of capitalism to be a burger, fries, and a Coke, rather than something that's fairly peripheral? I'd actually disagree with you then and put a more positive spin on capitalism.

This however is simply 100's and 1000's of people waiting to get a meal of a quality (fresh, good service, ...) and low cost the likes of which they've probably never had at any business.
Yeah, I know that capitalism is much better than generating wealth than communism. That's what I meant by saying that capitalism is much better at making that sort of stuff. No one in this thread has been claiming that capitalism isn't way better at making wealth and all kinds of material stuff than is communism.

The issue is whether such creation of wealth via the capitalism method is so essential to freedom (or at all necessary to freedom) such that Cuba cannot be free without it. (Not that I would expect Cuba to become much wealthier than a Central American country or somewhere like Haiti or Jamaica.) You seem to have completely avoided the question about whether people enjoying McDonalds food and Pepsi is representative of freedom.

Eh?
Do you think that people working in Victorian / Gilded Age textile mills and steel mills generally got time off every week? Not to mention rural farmers? Seriously - I was under the impression that they didn't and that this was common knowledge. If you disagree, I can do some research.

Source?
I'm kind of surprised that you don't know about this. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_time#Western_Europe": “France has enacted a 35-hour workweek by law, and similar results have been produced in other countries such as Germany through collective bargaining.”

I have to say, throwing out an imperious terse “Source?” demand on something like this which is fairly common knowledge, not to mention right there in Wikipedia, is a bit abrasive. You might consider couching your demands in softer terms, perhaps even using an entire sentence and indicating what the extent of your existing knowledge on the subject is. I have a hard time believing that you were completely unaware of this - the fact that Americans spend more time working than people in the rest of the world is pretty frequently cited.

I equate 'time off' in Mao's China or the Soviet Union w/ time out of your cell to walk the yard in prison.
Uh, to use your own stock response - source? That basically sounds like something straight off of a propaganda press. I hope you can at least concede that it's a bit pejorative. And actually… why did you even respond to a comment about threatened livelihoods and the Right to Work with something about time off?

In any case - as has been pointed out here, Russia and China haven't been made into havens of freedom by becoming capitalist. Capitalism doesn't equal freedom. It would be a fallacious argument to say that Cubans shouldn't be allowed to choose communism because Stalin and Mao were evil a▒▒holes. Just in case anything like that notion should arise.

I know you just came back from having been gone for a while, so to recap, my position in this thread has been that Cubans should be allowed to choose communism if they want to keep it without any interference with the U.S. And I still maintain my position from before that in general the U.S. is not such an expert on freedom, particularly in third-world countries we get involved in, that we ought to be dictating things like Cuba needs capitalism and McDonalds and Burger King to be free.
 
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  • #155
A glancing familiarity with the Soviet dissident Sakharov, or the authors Orwell, Solzenitzen (Gulag and Cancer Ward) shows it is just this kind of attack on livelihood that has often been effective at stifling dissent.
Sakharov was a dissident in that he opposed their war in Afghanistan, but he also the scientist who built the nuclear bomb for the Soviet Union and was an official who helped to negotiate test ban treaties. Also, you appear to be citing a work of fiction here if you're referring to Orwell's 1984.

To my recollection Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago is about the prison camps in Siberia where individuals purged and disappeared by Stalin and the party cadre who succeeded him were sent. What does it have to do with attacks on livelihood stifling dissent? Because you can't work if you're sent to prison? Not exactly a unique feature of communism.

Trying to imply that the actions of dictators who have ruled communist countries indicate something about the principles of communism, and hence events similar to the depredations of Stalin and Mao would be inevitable in Cuba were it to remain communist, would be a fallacious argument.

In [post=1621386]this post[/post] I explained what my interpretation of communism is. I'm willing to do research to find links to support it but don't just say “Source?” a bunch of times - you explain what you think communism is - particularly what Cuban communists would say communism is and what they would pursue - and I'd be willing to research the points where your opinion differs from mine.
 
  • #156
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And by the way: your comment about being free to walk around on Sunday: you know that having a day off during the week is actually a fairly recent thing in capitalist economies, right?
Invented centuries BC by the Jews living under a king.
 
  • #157
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Your point about banning private burger restaurants threatening livelihood doesn't seem to jive with the discussion earlier about the right to work and the way that many communist countries would guarantee their citizens a job and a paycheck.
I took him to mean that the job and paycheck were not guaranteed to those to fail to toe the party line. That is my impression of the purpose of the Gulag and it's equivalents around the world.

Regardless of the equivocation between freedom in the US and freedom in Cuba, I assume you are not posting from Cuba. If I'm not wrong, the internet is illegal there. Small wonder if it is. People without economic freedom would have plenty to say if they were allowed to talk anonymously.
 
  • #158
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Trying to imply that the actions of dictators who have ruled communist countries indicate something about the principles of communism, and hence events similar to the depredations of Stalin and Mao would be inevitable in Cuba were it to remain communist, would be a fallacious argument.
Please forgive my gross spelling errors in the following.

I agree with you here. But it's not just Stalin and Mao, it's Lenin, Krustchov, Brezniev, Deng, Ho, Pol, Kim, Tito, Chauchesku, Honeker, Castro, and the list goes on. Dictators all, no exceptions. This doesn't prove that the next one won't be the first leader of a Communist country that isn't a dictator, but inductive reasoning does have its good points. It can in some cases help you avoid unmitigated disaster. Anyway, Raul doesn't look like a mold breaker to me.
 
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  • #159
vanesch
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The thread seems to be obsessing a bit on the 'bling' associated with capitalism, so I post this proposition (abbreviated version seen earlier)by Milton Friedman to turn back to basic argument.
I think that this is an erroneous statement by Friedman. I think he has a hidden assumption - which is maybe correct, but which illustrates entirely the point I'm trying to make.

I don't think that political freedom is DEPENDENT on economic freedom, which is what Friedman (IMO erroneously) says. However, what I agree with, and this is probably the source of the confusion: political freedom is NOT IMPORTANT if you don't have an economy that is working well. I said this before: with an empty stomac, you don't care much about your freedom of speech. You want to eat.

However, the hidden assumption made by all of your arguments seems to be that without economic freedom, there is not an efficient economy. This might very well be true! But it is another issue. In this case - and that was what I was claiming - economic freedom is a TOOL to obtain a good working economy. It is just a means to get the "right allocation of means and ressources for the efficient production of services and goods". So we don't really need economic freedom as a FREEDOM, we need a GOOD WORKING economy. And it might very well be (I'm also of that opinion btw.) that you can only obtain such a thing with enough private initiative. The "free choice of goods" is then nothing else but a kind of regulating mechanism which makes the machine run smoothly. As I said, personally, I hate having to make choices for many things: I would prefer if somebody else made the GOOD CHOICES in my place, so that I can concentrate on things I like.

But it still means that I expect somehow that the GOOD STUFF is presented to me: that I am presented with rather GOOD FOOD (even if I don't choose it, like when my mom was making dinner for me as a kid), that I'm presented a GOOD JOB which suits me and my abilities, that one gives me a GOOD HOUSING that I don't choose, but that's nice for me etc... However, it seems that unfortunately I have to do all that stuff myself, and that I have to make choices ("use my economic freedom") to obtain that. I would have preferred an economical system which runs so smoothly, that all this stuff is assigned to me, with some studies which try to find the stuff that suits me best, without me getting involved into all this. A bit like the doctor that looks at your case, and prescribes you the best possible medicin that will take care of you. You don't use your "economic freedom" to choose your medicin do you ? You trust your doctor. Well, I'd prefer an economic system that treats me in the same way, and provides me with exactly the house, job, car, food,... I need, without me having to get occupied with all that stuff. But unfortunately it is not going to happen this way. So I HAVE TO make choices. In that case, well, using my economic freedom is a BURDEN which takes away my time from more fun activities, but it is very well possible that this is the only way to get all that stuff reasonably. As such, it means that I have to sacrifice some time to having to make economic choices, just as my contribution to the good working of economy is.

So I would be happier in an economic system that makes all the right decisions in my name: that provides me with the right stuff. In that case, I don't see what I would do with any economic freedom. But I would still see what I would do with my freedom of speech!

What good is your right to walk around on Sunday if you can't buy clothes and shoes, or take the train? How much freedom of speech does someone from sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti enjoy, who has never seen a computer or much less jumped on the net?
I agree with that, but it is a different point. As I said, political freedom is not the most important thing if the economy is failing totally.

Several times you mentioned you consider your job as not important in the scheme of freedoms. As I recall you are a nuclear physicist or engineer, and perhaps a very good one. Suppose they come and say, 'speak as you like, but continue to do so and you will never again work in this field. You will work in the cane fields, or serve in the Army, or you will not work anywhere and starve.'
That wouldn't then be the job in which I would be most efficient (or even slightly efficient!), so a good working economy wouldn't impose that onto me. If they'd analyse my profile, my abilities and weaknesses, then they'd probably assign me a job that suits me. In that case, I wouldn't mind.

EDIT: btw, if they do to me what you describe, then I don't have freedom of speech. I would undergo a (hidden) punishment because of what I say, which is exactly the opposite of freedom of speech. The problem I see, is that economic freedom can actually do exactly as you say: go and say something your boss doesn't like, and you'll suffer a similar kind of punishment. Imagine your boss being a gun collector, and you an activist against the possession of guns. You might have a problem one day. And your boss can hide behind HIS economic freedom to kick you out (and tell his buddies not to hire you "you'll never work in this town again").
In the case you cite, if freedom of speech is a guaranteed right, then you might go to court to get your job change (the army...) cancelled, exactly on the basis of that right. Go and do that against the economic freedom of your boss... He'll just say he's free to hire whom he likes.

A glancing familiarity with the Soviet dissident Sakharov, or the authors Orwell, Solzenitzen (Gulag and Cancer Ward) shows it is just this kind of attack on livelihood that has often been effective at stifling dissent. We need pay no attention to the burger du jour. I wouldn't though join w/ a state that banned that burger business w/out due process since someone else's livelihood may depend on that burger at the point of sale, or via the delivery system, farms, etc and thus their ability to walk about on Sunday.
But again, I'm not arguing against that. I realise the importance of a good working economy before items like political freedom even become an issue. I also realise that one probably needs a good dose of "economic freedom" just to get to that good working economy. But to me, that "economic freedom" is just a tool, an organizational principle, in order to get a good working economy, and not a "freedom" in itself one can enjoy.

So in that case, to me at least, economic freedom is a necessary burden, not a goal by itself.
 
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  • #160
vanesch
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I'm kind of surprised that you don't know about this. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_time#Western_Europe": “France has enacted a 35-hour workweek by law, and similar results have been produced in other countries such as Germany through collective bargaining.”
Ah, those famous 35 hours! Well, there is a debate going on here right now about the sense of this. It's not so much the time (the number 35) rather the principle, that it is *forbidden* to work much more than this. The current president (Sarkozy) is vehemently opposed to this "lock", and wants to liberate the working time: that is, he wants to allow people to work more than this (for a bigger paycheck): he wants to allow people to do more overtime.

The problem is that unions object to this, because they are affraid that the overtime will be IMPOSED by the companies, and not be a free choice of the workers. In any case, in certain sectors where people got the possibility to do more overtime, it turns out that it doesn't have a big success. Some people use it, most stay with their normal working hours.

The "35 hour week" doesn't actually mean that you work only 35 hours a week, it means that you get more hollidays. For instance, I have (apart from weekends and official hollidays) something like 50 days off per year. I have to say that this seriously increases my freedom to walk about, and not only on sunday :smile: Under a new law, I could "sell" part of my days off to my employer, but I don't consider that!
 
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  • #161
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In any case, in certain sectors where people got the possibility to do more overtime, it turns out that it doesn't have a big success. Some people use it, most stay with their normal working hours.
Sounds like the definition of a roaring success to me. Nobody needs the freedom to do as the majority do, they always have that freedom.
 
  • #162
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with an empty stomac, you don't care much about your freedom of speech. You want to eat.
In that sense, my stomach is always empty, and yet I care passionately about my freedom of speech.

Let's not mistake what lack of economic freedom means. You would NOT be allowed to choose between meat and fish, that goes by the wayside. You would be living in a prison, enjoying all the freedoms that a prisoner enjoys. You would wear whatever clothing you were told to wear, you would eat what you were told to eat. You would read the newspapers you were told to read. The alternative would require somebody else to have economic freedom even if you were given none. You could walk around on Sunday and speak as you please, but whereever you went and whatever you said, you would still be in prison.
 
  • #163
vanesch
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In that sense, my stomach is always empty, and yet I care passionately about my freedom of speech.
But the opposite claim was just made:
What good is your right to walk around on Sunday if you can't buy clothes and shoes, or take the train? How much freedom of speech does someone from sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti enjoy, who has never seen a computer or much less jumped on the net?
Let's not mistake what lack of economic freedom means. You would NOT be allowed to choose between meat and fish, that goes by the wayside.
Well, if they serve me a good meal that suits me, even though I didn't CHOOSE it, I wouldn't mind. In fact, most of the time, this is the case: when I go to the cantine, ok, I have a choice between 2 or 3 different meals, but I usually take the one with the shortest queue. But even if you go to a fancy dinner, usually, you don't have much of a *choice* but it will be very good in any case!

You would be living in a prison, enjoying all the freedoms that a prisoner enjoys. You would wear whatever clothing you were told to wear, you would eat what you were told to eat.
As I said before, I don't mind. In practice, this IS already the case in my life, simply because I don't care much about those items. I eat whatever is served on the shortest queue, I wear whatever my wife has decided I should wear, ...
I'm most of the time *bored* with these kinds of choices. As long as one presents me with GOOD stuff, that's ok with me.

You would read the newspapers you were told to read.
As long as I can WRITE in that newspaper what I want, that's ok with me !

The alternative would require somebody else to have economic freedom even if you were given none. You could walk around on Sunday and speak as you please, but whereever you went and whatever you said, you would still be in prison.
Well, if that's what a prison is like, I don't mind living in a prison then. If "living in a prison" means: some or other system takes care of most of the material issues and presents you with good solutions for them so that you don't have to bother with it, that would be heaven to me! If I get the stuff I need (even if I don't *choose* it myself amongst good and bad stuff, and have to find out *myself* what suits me), I can say what I want, and I can walk where I want, what more can you desire ?

Now, I'm not so naive as to think that such a system exists! I unfortunately have to take care of myself for all that stuff... But it's a nuisance, and I'd prefer to dream that I would not have to.
 
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  • #164
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I have a choice between 2 or 3 different meals, but I usually take the one with the shortest queue.
That too is a choice. That too will be taken away from you. You'll be the one at the end of the longest queue, freely and pointlessly yapping about how you wish you were on the shorter queue.
 
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  • #165
vanesch
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Sounds like the definition of a roaring success to me. Nobody needs the freedom to do as the majority do, they always have that freedom.
In fact, I agree with you. I also think one should have the freedom to work more if you want to earn more money. But it is true that the problem exists that some pressure from the employer could be put on workers to accept (even though they don't like it) overtime.

So the tradeoff is rather: should one run the risk of employers IMPOSING overtime upon a majority of employees just to allow a small minority to do overtime as they desire ?
 
  • #166
vanesch
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That too is a choice. That too will be taken away from you.
Yes, but it means I don't care much. In fact, I think I would prefer an imposed no-choice fancy dinner every noon, rather than the choice between 20 lousy meals :smile: I would delegate my daily "choice of meal" immediately to any 3-star Michelin chef :smile: (even a 2-star would do :rofl: )

Also, choosing between 3 different equally-priced meals by the same company is not really an "economic freedom". An (passive) economic freedom is to choose between different economical agents, and whether or not to spend money (and how much) in doing so. Real active economic freedom is to set up your own business.

The advantage of this (the advantage of capitalism) is that lousy stuff gets out of business sooner or later, because people make bad choices, get upset, and then don't make them anymore. But if it were possible (I don't know if it is!) NOT to have lousy stuff in the first place by one or other miracle, and so that only GOOD stuff is offered, then having to make choices is nothing but a burden.
In "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman", that all-American physicist explains how it was difficult for him to make a choice of dessert each day. So he decided to stick with some chocolate cookie (if I remember well) every day, *just not to have to make a choice anymore*.

And, btw, I'm pretty sure that even Stalin had something to say about which meal he liked :tongue:
 
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  • #167
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I also think one should have the freedom to work more if you want to earn more money.
Isn't that economic freedom?
 
  • #168
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Well, if that's what a prison is like, I don't mind living in a prison then. If "living in a prison" means: some or other system takes care of most of the material issues and presents you with good solutions for them so that you don't have to bother with it, that would be heaven to me! If I get the stuff I need (even if I don't *choose* it myself amongst good and bad stuff, and have to find out *myself* what suits me), I can say what I want, and I can walk where I want, what more can you desire?

Now, I'm not so naive as to think that such a system exists! I unfortunately have to take care of myself for all that stuff... But it's a nuisance, and I'd prefer to dream that I would not have to.
You are wrong. Such a system does exist. Take a brick and toss it though the window of a McDonalds or a Burger King (your choice). You will be taken to a heaven on earth.
 
  • #169
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This is not entirely appropriate, but the old image of a donkey, staved to death, while standing midway between two piles of hay just popped into my mind.
 
  • #170
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EDIT: btw, if they do to me what you describe, then I don't have freedom of speech. I would undergo a (hidden) punishment because of what I say, which is exactly the opposite of freedom of speech. The problem I see, is that economic freedom can actually do exactly as you say: go and say something your boss doesn't like, and you'll suffer a similar kind of punishment. Imagine your boss being a gun collector, and you an activist against the possession of guns. You might have a problem one day. And your boss can hide behind HIS economic freedom to kick you out (and tell his buddies not to hire you "you'll never work in this town again").
In the case you cite, if freedom of speech is a guaranteed right, then you might go to court to get your job change (the army...) cancelled, exactly on the basis of that right. Go and do that against the economic freedom of your boss... He'll just say he's free to hire whom he likes.
Actually, this was a real problem in the US up until the late 1800's. Massachusetts was the first state to start using secret ballots in 1888 and within 4 years, the entire US was using secret ballots. If you were working in a small one company town, the company could have representatives at the polling places to see how their employees voted. Voting against the company's best interest was just about as smart as trying to start a union.

To be honest, it probably still isn't a wise economic decision to vote for something that will result in the company you work for (and similar companies) laying off workers. Even if you're not one of the folks laid off, depressing the entire city's economy will have an adverse effect on you. But at least you can't be fired for harming the company at the voting booth or for having different political views from your employer.

That probably doesn't travel too far. Imagine being a committee leader on a group dedicated to preserving open space in the local community and having the company you work for try to buy one of the areas you're trying to protect because the company wants to build a new factory.

Sometimes freedom of speech means having the freedom not to say anything at all (which would be a good idea in the open space scenario since there's some serious conflict of interest issues regardless of whether the company succeeds in getting the land or not).
 
  • #171
vanesch
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Isn't that economic freedom?
Sure. *IF* you are in a capitalist system, where you HAVE to make choices, and you HAVE to solve your own problems like finding a home, and buying food, then you need also the means to achieve that, and having a lever on your income is one of those means. So you don't do overtime because you like it, you do overtime because you need the money to "use your economic freedom" (that is, buy yourself some food, a house, or a car, or....).

Now, don't understand me wrong. As I said several times, I think economic freedom is a good thing, because it makes the economy run well. And that's important.

What I'm trying to make, as a point, is that it is not (at least to me) some "goal by itself". Playing the economic game ("using your economic freedom") and trying to make sure you have enough income, and trying to find out how you have to spend it to your advantage is just a *means* to get some level of material comfort, without which life is difficult. So the goal is not the playing of the economic game, the goal is to obtain some reasonable material comfort. The *means* is making economic choices, and trying not to make too many mistakes in doing so. But it is not the goal. The goal is material comfort, which is high enough so that finally, you can enjoy your REAL freedoms, which are freedom of speech, and freedom to think, and freedom to walk about.

Now, I recognize that to some people, the means become the goal. In the same way as for some people, making money is a goal in itself (while to me, that's just part of the means one needs to achieve a certain level of comfort given the system in which we function).

If (by some miracle) one would *provide me* with the necessary material comfort (without me having to do anything, especially not having to think about it, and try to make the right choices, and avoid the bad ones), then that would be a bonus to me. But I realize that human nature is not that way that this will happen, and therefor, economic freedom, and the material comfort it gives you when you do not make too many wrong choices, is a good means to achieve this. But it is, in my eyes, no more than this: a tool.

My preferred (dream) life would be to be a Greek philosopher, whom one brings his meals, his clothes and everything material, and who just goes walking about and chatting and giving his free speech to anyone who wants to hear it :smile: But I realize that's not going to happen, so unfortunately I have to make my hands dirty, find out for myself which house I should buy, which car I should buy and which job I should apply for.
 
  • #172
vanesch
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This is not entirely appropriate, but the old image of a donkey, staved to death, while standing midway between two piles of hay just popped into my mind.
That's exactly it ! :smile:

The donkey's life would be easier if his owner would just give him one single haystack.
 
  • #173
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That's exactly it ! :smile:

The donkey's life would be easier if his owner would just give him one single haystack.
The donkey's life is as easy as it can get. It's over. But the image isn't very appropriate. The donkey really can't decide between the two haystacks because they are literally the same. I'm thinking of putting you between a thick steak, broiled, not stirred, a baked potato with sour cream, asparagus spears, a Pinot Noir (Louis Jadot, 2001 springs to mind) such as my wife (a capitalist roader if ever there was one) prepares to a tee on the one hand, and a McDonalds' burger, Coke, and fries on the other, and watching you starve to death. They're both food aren't they.
 
  • #174
vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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The donkey's life is as easy as it can get. It's over. But the image isn't very appropriate. The donkey really can't decide between the two haystacks because they are literally the same. I'm thinking of putting you between a thick steak, broiled, not stirred, a baked potato with sour cream, asparagus spears, a Pinot Noir (Louis Jadot, 2001 springs to mind) such as my wife (a capitalist roader if ever there was one) prepares to a tee on the one hand, and a McDonalds' burger, Coke, and fries on the other, and watching you starve to death. They're both food aren't they.
I could always flip a coin :tongue:

But you really don't (want to) see what I'm trying to say. I'm not AGAINST economic freedom, I'm not AGAINST economic choices (although sometimes they just bore me) etc... As I said several times before, I think an efficient economy is important, and a way to obtain that is with a good dose of free market mechanism.

Simply, I don't consider them as an *important freedom*. If somehow by a miracle, one could obtain the same efficient economy without having to make economic choices, and obtain the same level of material comfort, then I really wouldn't mind.

There was the claim here that freedom STARTS with economic freedom, that it is the utmost source of whatever one could call "freedom" etc... and personally, I disagree with that statement, for the reasons I tried to make clear. Most economic choices to me are boring and sometimes risky (in that the choices are not "free", but will have serious consequences for your material future).

I tried to compare making economic choices to taking some medicine: in the same way it doesn't come (I hope) to your mind to just go and pick some medication when you are ill, but rather follow your doctor's prescription, if someone could give me a prescription of what are the economic choices I should make which are good for me, that would be one burden less. The whole (successfull) idea of the free market is that one makes the hypothesis that concerning those choices, you are probably the best "doctor" to find out what is the right decision. So you are simply your own doctor in this respect.

So going to measure the economic freedom of other peoples, and decide upon that basis whether one should "liberate" them or not, seems to me to be an utmost idiocy. If ever one is going to make a scale of "liberty score" so as to classify in what order one is going to ram down through some people's throat some or other liberation with bombs and everything, I would go for a measure which finds out how freely one can express oneself and how freely one can walk about (so not too much private property of ground, which would stop people from walking about!).
 
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  • #175
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I could always flip a coin :tongue:
Why would there be coins in your world?
 

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