Castro resigns

  • #176
BobG
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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? 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.
Russians eating McDonalds and drinking Pepsi aren't representative of freedom, but http://www.buzzle.com/articles/126497.html [Broken] is. Capitalism is a response to freedom, not a prerequisite for freedom.
 
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  • #177
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I beg you to abandon the medical analogy. I don't mind watching you starve to death, but I want you to get a second opinion on the important medical decisions. I have nothing to say one way or the other about whether freedom "STARTS with economic freedom, that it is the utmost source of whatever one could call 'freedom'", as you put it. Rather, I would say that without economic freedom, all other freedoms are pointless.
 
  • #178
mheslep
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CaptainQuasar said:
And also, in socialist and communist countries people are likely to have more time off during the week, right?
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.”
Yes, yes on EU workweeks. I'm referring to the days off in 'communist' countries, I should have specified. Do you then retract the communist part? Hopefully you can refer to the ex-Soviet Union, Eastern Block or Mao's China since there's some history and open documentation there now.
 
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  • #179
mheslep
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Friedman said:
Human and political freedom has never existed, and can not exist without a large measure of economic freedom
I think that this is an erroneous statement by Friedman....
I don't think that political freedom is DEPENDENT on economic freedom, which is what Friedman (IMO erroneously) says.
Have any historical examples in mind that counter Friedman?


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.
I think we're mostly on the same page. Efficiency is mostly irrelevant to my take on Friedman, which mainly requires the freedom to earn a livelihood. For instance, I'd say today's modern commodities market is far more efficient at connecting buyers and sellers than was the same market 120 yrs ago, but thats irrelevant to MF's statement above. Both today and 120yrs ago in the US the vast majority of Americans had the ability to earn a livelihood, and thus the state or powerful interests could largely not stifle dissent [1]. Even at the height of the US depression in the 30's with wide spread suffering (and predominately caused by the fed. reserve in the opinion of many), there was still 'a large measure' of economic freedom.

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.
Again this seems to ~ concur w/ Friedman.

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.
You might enjoy (seen?) the new German film 'http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lives_of_Others" [Broken]' which won Best Foreign Film. Its a drama, based on well documented events that describes the lives of East Germans in the theater world living under the Stazi. No one in the film is sent off to the gulag. The brilliant, the talented, that is those with ample gifts to communicate politically are simply denied the opportunity to perform/publish for the rest of their lives, should they stray in the slightest from the mind of the state. Its devastating.

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").
Good example. If you have a 'large measure' of economic freedom then by definition you can find another job. If your boss is say, a 19th century Tammany Hall city boss, then you have much less economic freedom due the breakdown in the rule of law and state interference, and your political rights are equally diminished. If your gun loving boss is the state and the state is everyone's boss, then you necessarily have near zero economic freedom. Better start loving guns. Friedman down the line.

So in that case, to me at least, economic freedom is a necessary burden, not a goal by itself.
Absolutely. As per Timothy 6: 'the love of money is the root of all evil'. Not just money; the mistake is placing it above all else.

[1] Principally two things get in the way of economic freedom 1) the failure of the rule of law (e.g. Jim Crow) and 2) interference by the state (e.g. sedition act)
 
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  • #180
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As per Timothy 6: 'the love of money is the root of all evil'.
I hope you are not confusing economics with finance. They are different things entirely. If you ever brought a goat to the supermarket in order to trade it for eggs and cheese, you would love money too.
 
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  • #181
mheslep
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I hope you are not confusing economics with finance. They are different things entirely. If you ever brought a goat to the supermarket in order to trade it for eggs and cheese, you would love money too.
I 'like' money, and material things; I understand its value and try to be careful with it. I don't love it.
 
  • #182
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I 'like' money, and material things; I understand its value and try to be careful with it. I don't love it.
But my issue is economic freedom, not financial freedom (if anyone is offering financial freedom, I'm accepting). When I say I love money, I don't mean that I want it to flow out of my showerhead. I mean I love the fact that I don't have to barter to get on in life. I don't even have experience at bartering, it just seems like an awful burden to have to evaluate everything I want to get rid of in units of things I want to have. And to go find someone who actually wants my stuff and at the same time has the stuff that I want. Money is great.

But none of this has anything to do with economic freedom. I want the freedom to produce the things that I think worthwhile producing, I want the freedom to consume the things that others produce. The ones I want, and not the ones I don't want. Even in a barter system I would still want that.
 
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  • #183
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.
Do you find the situation where the internet is available but censored in capitalist China more appealing? I'd agree with you that it's probably not widely available in Cuba. But I'd be kind of skeptical that it's all that much more common for someone in capitalist Haiti to have internet access.

Job and paycheck being under threat from someone not toeing the party line is not a communist phenomenon, it happens in every sort of economy and it happens not infrequently in our history in the U.S. itself. Thoreau, for example, thrown in jail for not paying taxes to support the Mexican War, not unlike mheslep's “dissident” Sakharov's objection to Soviet Afghanistan.

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.
Thanks for the vote of agreement, but, uh... Hitler? Franco? Mussolini? Papa Doc Duvalier? Pinochet? Noriega? Saddam Hussein? Musharrif? What were you saying about inductive reasoning? Your perspective on dictators in the 20th century seems somewhat selective and in particular left out the latter four that the U.S. supported. A very long list of capitalist dictators in history could easily be made.

Another point - do you know that we regarded the Soviets as righteous free allies during and after WWII? I remember seeing an “Our Friends the Soviets!” picture book, a U.S. gov't publication, from the early 1950's. I'll repeat one of my points because it's in context here: the idea that communism is inextricably wedded to evil is simply a bit of Cold War era propaganda.

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.
Jimmy - are you saying that this is the way everyone's life is in communist countries, but outside of them this doesn't happen because there's capitalism and economic freedom? Even if you aren't literally saying that you seem to be implying it. All of the things you talk about above have been the state of affairs in capitalist countries frequently in history and are the case in many capitalist countries today.

People in communist countries don't / didn't live alien incomprehensible lives. Just like people in the U.S. or Brazil or Iran or capitalist China they hang out with friends, they have family feuds, they play sports or cheer for their teams, they gripe about stupid things the government does. Yes, in many ways people in many communist countries have been oppressed. But saying it's always like living in prison to be a citizen of a communist state is hyperbole.

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.
Yes, that's my understanding, that it's more that businesses get in trouble if they make an employee work too much or outside of particular hours rather than trying to limit the options of workers.

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.
Jimmy, I know that was about a variation in the law allowing more voluntary overtime - but unless I'm mistaken, you're calling the implementation of socialist labor policy a roaring success here?

I beg you to abandon the medical analogy. I don't mind watching you starve to death, but I want you to get a second opinion on the important medical decisions. I have nothing to say one way or the other about whether freedom "STARTS with economic freedom, that it is the utmost source of whatever one could call 'freedom'", as you put it. Rather, I would say that without economic freedom, all other freedoms are pointless.
Do you have some sort of blinders on so that you can't see all the people in capitalist countries around the world starving to death?

Yes, yes on EU workweeks. I'm referring to the days off in 'communist' countries, I should have specified. Do you then retract the communist part? Hopefully you can refer to the ex-Soviet Union, Eastern Block or Mao's China since there's some history and open documentation there now.
Ah, I see. The Soviet Union limited the work week to 41 hours quite early in its existence, much earlier than France went to 35. Do you really not believe that? I can go get a reference if you really don't.

Both today and 120yrs ago in the US the vast majority of Americans had the ability to earn a livelihood, and thus the state or powerful interests could largely not stifle dissent [1].

[1] Principally two things get in the way of economic freedom 1) the failure of the rule of law (e.g. Jim Crow) and 2) interference by the state (e.g. sedition act)
How about the Pullman strike, Pinkerton company union breaking, etc., all of the things that prompted the Communist Revolution in other countries? Of course those things happened here.

And it seems a bit silly to cite “failure of the rule of law” as an explanation for the oppression of former slaves in a supposedly otherwise freedom-loving and freedom-generating capitalist society. Obviously there weren't any laws in the Soviet Union that said Stalin or the party elite should terrorize and oppress people either.

I mean I love the fact that I don't have to barter to get on in life. I don't even have experience at bartering, it just seems like an awful burdon to have to evaluate everything I want to get rid of in units of things I want to have.
What does bartering have to do with a communist economy?

―​

To reiterate another point I made earlier: Simply mentioning a whole bunch of bad stuff that occurred in communist countries in the past doesn't have any relevance to what would happen if the people of Cuba democratically chose communism. All of the occurrences you guys are citing happen in capitalist countries all the time - particularly in Cuba's capitalist neighbor Haiti.
 
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  • #184
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Hitler? Franco? Mussolini? Papa Doc Duvalier? Pinochet? Noriega? Saddam Hussein? Musharrif?
Hitler - Nationalist Socialist Party
Mussolini - Italian Social Republic
Hussein - Arab Socialist Ba'th Party

I am against dictatorships of all stripes. But my list of Communist dictators was a short list. Why don't you have a list of Communist leaders that were not dictators? How about a list of non-Communist leaders that were not dictators?
 
  • #185
Hitler - Nationalist Socialist Party
Mussolini - Italian Social Republic
Hussein - Arab Socialist Ba'th Party

I am against dictatorships of all stripes. But my list of Communist dictators was a short list. Why don't you have a list of Communist leaders that were not dictators? How about a list of non-Communist leaders that were not dictators?
Of course, there are lots of names on both of those lists! There can only be one dictator in a country at a time.

And if you're going to include members of any political party with the word “Social” or “Socialist” in it you'll be including many of the leaders in recent European history. And of course socialist or not the United States supported Saddam Hussein!

You're really, seriously saying that that if the split between communist / socialist dictators and capitalist dictators were 60%-40% or something that would be evidence that capitalism is good and free and communism is bad and oppressive? (I don't know if the real percentage would be anything like that - I suspect not since there have only been communist and socialist dictators during the last hundred years or so and there have always been capitalist dictators - but I'm pointing out that this is a somewhat flawed criticism of communism.)
 
  • #186
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but I'm pointing out that this is a somewhat flawed criticism of communism.)
Until you give me your list of Communist leaders who were not dictators, the induction stands.
 
  • #187
Until you give me your list of Communist leaders who were not dictators, the induction stands.
Ah, so socialists are okay for you to cite, but not for me, eh?

You seriously consider that the equivalent of an induction proof? You could “prove” just about anything with it.

Easy cheesy, the other members of the revolutionary parties. Like I said, there can only be one dictator at a time. Trotsky, Bukharin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Zhang Guotao, Peng Dehuai, Lin Biao, Zhou Enlai… and that's just within China and the Soviet Union.

But like I just said and you ignored: let's say that your list of dictators in communist countries proves that having a communist economy is Miracle-Gro for evil dictators. Since you're talking in terms of proofs, is that going to prove that capitalism promotes freedom? Once again - you're making the world out as a black-and-white right-and-wrong fantasy. Examples of bad things happening in communist countries don't mean that future Cuban capitalism equals freedom and future Cuban communism equals oppression.
 
  • #188
Also, it's a bit silly of you to say “you have to respond to question X I asked or I'm right!” when you have failed to respond to easily 95% of the points and questions I've made in this thread, sometimes flaunting your refusal to respond.
 
  • #189
vanesch
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Why would there be coins in your world?
As an educational tool, to learn about experimental statistics of course :tongue:
 
  • #190
vanesch
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The problem I see in this discussion is that apparently, you have or full-fledged capitalism or Stalinist communism, no other options seem to be considered. This is rather strange, because most economies in the world are non of both (anymore). Most European countries have mixed economies, especially France, who is on one hand quite capitalistic, but has on the other hand many laws (some of which I find rather odd myself!) which would give grey hair to any hard-line capitalist - in fact they do :smile:

For instance, for taxis, there is a fixed number of them, and if you want to drive a cab, your only option is to buy the license from another driver who quits. This means that those licenses go over the corner for about 200 000 Euro, and it became an investment tool. Recently the government vaguely suggested that it wanted to review this system to make it more open, and as a result, we got a massive taxi strike on our hands for several days, until the government backed away to leave the current system in place.

So visibly, economic freedom, even desired by the government, is not always what people desire. As such, it cannot be such a fundamental freedom without which life becomes hopeless.

Now, if you look at former president of France, Francois Mitterand (1981-1995: two mandates of 7 years), a socialist, he would probably be considered a communist to some (he had communist ministers in his government). He did amongst other things, the following:
- abolished dead penalty
- nationalised 36 big money bancs (Suez, Paribas...), and industrial groups (Rhone-Poulenc (chemical/medical), Saint-Gobin (glass), Thomson (electronics).
- introduced taxes on fortune (you pay on your possessions, not only on your income)
- price regulations for common products in supermarkets
- abolishment of a special court of crimes against the state
- abolishment of the "crime" of homosexuality
- 39 hour working week
- wanted to forbid non-state education (this didn't pass)
 
  • #191
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Also, it's a bit silly of you to say “you have to respond to question X I asked or I'm right!” when you have failed to respond to easily 95% of the points and questions I've made in this thread, sometimes flaunting your refusal to respond.
I never put words in your mouth. That would be dishonest of me. Nor do I claim that I am right because you are silent, I claim that I am right because I am right. I don't demand that you provide a list. Provide one if you will. It's a free country. You needn't provide a long list, paraphrasing Einstein, if I am wrong, one will do.
 
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  • #192
I never put words in your mouth. I don't demand that you provide a list. Paraphrasing Einstein, if I am wrong, one will do.
Oh, well in that case I guess it's not hypocritical at all for you to say “you have to respond to question X I asked or I'm right!”

My point is that your approach for discussing this subject primarily seems to involve artfully ignoring anything that doesn't fit with what you've previously said. But certainly, you're free to approach the discussion that way if you wish. And of course, it's not like what we discuss here is going to actually affect events in Cuba (unless you really are the director of the CIA… *wink*)
 
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  • #193
It just occurred to me that your responses might be short because you have some physical disability that makes it difficult for you to type. If that's the case, I apologize for inconsiderate criticism of your taciturn responses. Otherwise, if you're intentionally being taciturn… well, it's still certainly your prerogative to only put into the discussion what you wish.
 
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  • #194
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Oh, well in that case I guess it's not hypocritical at all for you to say “you have to respond to question X I asked or I'm right!”
I never said that, I said 180 degrees the opposite.

jimmysnyder said:
Nor do I claim that I am right because you are silent, I claim that I am right because I am right. I don't demand that you provide a list. Provide one if you will. It's a free country.
 
  • #195
You said

But my list of Communist dictators was a short list. Why don't you have a list of Communist leaders that were not dictators? How about a list of non-Communist leaders that were not dictators?
I said

Of course, there are lots of names on both of those lists! There can only be one dictator in a country at a time.
And a bunch of other stuff besides that. You replied with a single sentence

Until you give me your list of Communist leaders who were not dictators, the induction stands.
Regardless of what Einstein says, you asked for a list. If your complaint about me speculating on why you evade questions is that such speculation is unfair or impolite, you aren't exactly going out of your way to conduct yourself in an especially fair or polite manner, if you're going to randomly name-drop unrelated authorities like Einstein and avoid speaking on any topic or aspect of the conversation that can't be spun somehow to support your views about freedom.

But like I said, I'm not complaining. Your conduct says more about how you think about your own views, and hence their validity, than it says anything about my views on freedom.
 
  • #196
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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.
The induction stands until a counterexample is given. It doesn't stand because you are silent, it stands because no counterexample has been given.
 
  • #197
fuzzyfelt
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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.
Reminds me more of a poem from Ancient Rome about a dog who found two bones...
Freedom from choice is what you want, Devo.:smile:

Also, was the mention of Mitterand missed?
 
  • #198
Art
The induction stands until a counterexample is given. It doesn't stand because you are silent, it stands because no counterexample has been given.
Rexhep Meidani (1997-2002) of Albania was democratically elected and abided by the democratic process when in power ceding the presidency to Alfred Moisiu (an ex-communist now a political neutral) in 2002.
 
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  • #199
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  • #200
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Also, was the mention of Mitterand missed?
My bad. I haven't been following this thread very carefully. Mitterand was elected as representative of the Socialist Party.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Mitterrand" [Broken]
France itself was not a Communist country.
 
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