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Old 01-27-2013, 06:35 AM
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Is this acceptable to libertarians?


A is dying in a desert, B sees him and offers him a deal, he writes down a deal, which would require A to give him all his property and money in return for getting out of the desert alive.

Is this acceptable to libertarians? Seems like a classic contract, and there is no coersion or violence, just a simple deal. It is an extreme example, though.
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:59 AM
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What do you mean by acceptable?

Are you asking whether a Libertarian would ignore the situation if he could personally assist?

... or are you asking whether he would demand a law to make that situation criminal?

...... or something in between?
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:34 AM
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Seems like a classic contract, and there is no coersion or violence, just a simple deal.
"Accept this or die" sounds pretty coercive to me.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:04 AM
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I hate that libertarians don't want anyone telling them what to do, but when I go to get a book out they're always TELLING ME to be quiet.

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Old 01-27-2013, 09:12 AM
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"Accept this or die" sounds pretty coercive to me.
But it's nature that's doing the coercing, so it's cool.

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Originally Posted by cultivar07 View Post
A is dying in a desert, B sees him and offers him a deal, he writes down a deal, which would require A to give him all his property and money in return for getting out of the desert alive.

Is this acceptable to libertarians? Seems like a classic contract, and there is no coersion or violence, just a simple deal. It is an extreme example, though.
Sure. Why not?
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:12 AM
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I hate that libertarians don't want anyone telling them what to do, but when I go to get a book out they're always TELLING ME to be quiet.
My first reaction to the OP was "Why would librarians have a particular opinion about this?"
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:40 AM
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:20 PM
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First, libertarians aren't monolithic in thought. Just like you can't really ask if democrats, republicans, or Catholics or Jews agree if something this specific is acceptable. Some might, others won't.

My personal libertarian philosophy doesn't find this acceptable. I won't let someone die for my economic advantage
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:59 PM
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To add to what Sigene said. I would find the actions of B to be reprehensible. However, I believe in the right of two people to enter into a contract. Now, whether this contract is enforceable is another question.
I think that most Libertarians would agree that this contract should not be enforceable due to party A being under duress at the time of agreement.

Now what if party B had good reason for asking for those conditions in the agreement. (He had to leave behind his bag of gold in order to carry A to safety, a detail not refuted by party A.) Now the agreement seems more reasonable and should be enforceable.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:14 PM
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Requiring the contract in coercive circumstances seems to violate a basic duty to aid others. I agree with others who don't get why libertarians would have any special oppinions on this. I don't know any libertarians who believe a basic duty to aid is an overstepping government control measure.

If this came before my court I'd vacate the contract and order save-ee to pay save-or (saviour?) $1 per gallon of water furnished and $8 per hour of time expendedand tell save-or to get his head out of his ass.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:19 PM
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You write that as if any two self-designated libertarians would agree on an answer. I have yet to find two such. (I am being only the slightest bit snarky; I've lost count of the libertarian doctrine discussions that fractured into a set of wholly individual viewpoints.)
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:21 PM
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Requiring the contract in coercive circumstances seems to violate a basic duty to aid others.
Very few libertarians seem to acknowledge that any such duty exists. "Let them die if they can't pay" seems to be the norm, and one I've seen argued on this board.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:36 PM
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I'm not sure if I'm a Libertarian or not, but I find their ideas intriguing, and I'd like to subscribe to their newsletter.

That said, are you fucking high? If B has the ability to save A's life in the example you put forth, but does not do so without promise of payment in writing, B is an awful human being, and that is not acceptable.

I'm sure there's a broader point I'm missing, as I do not know what Libertarianism has to do with the OP. Sounds like an asshole test, not a political test.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:40 PM
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Very few libertarians seem to acknowledge that any such duty exists. "Let them die if they can't pay" seems to be the norm, and one I've seen argued on this board.
You are confusing a legal duty with a moral duty. They can be, but needn't be the same.

When it comes to helping people, many libertarians are happy to do so. They just don't think they should be required by law to do so.

Last edited by John Mace; 01-27-2013 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:52 PM
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You are confusing a legal duty with a moral duty.
No, I'm not. Plenty of libertarians have made it clear they'd let someone die rather than raise a hand to help them. Social Darwinism is a common feature of libertarianism; if you are going to die without help, that just shows that you should die.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:03 PM
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No, I'm not. Plenty of libertarians have made it clear they'd let someone die rather than raise a hand to help them. Social Darwinism is a common feature of libertarianism; if you are going to die without help, that just shows that you should die.
Perhaps a minority think that way, but not many. If any such thinkers show up in this thread, you can debate that idea with them.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:10 PM
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Perhaps a minority think that way, but not many.
Funny, that's what I always hear when someone points out the bad attitude or behavior that typifies a group.

"I've got mine, screw you" is one of the most common and notorious features of libertarianism; not some little fringe problem with the movement. As far as I can tell, for many libertarians that's pretty much all that libertarianism is.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:27 PM
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I'm sure there's a broader point I'm missing, as I do not know what Libertarianism has to do with the OP. Sounds like an asshole test, not a political test.
When it comes to real-world analysis of libertarian stances, the difference may be moot.

I am most manifestly not a Libertarian, but I believe in (and believe I share that belief with some large number of USAians, if not global citizens) many ideals classified as libertarian... but like Christianity, it makes a good philosophy but a lousy basis for a political system. I have, unfortunately, spent thirty or more years in a field that attracts big-and-little-L libertarians and listened to more rank BS on the topic than I care to think about.

I never fail to be amused and/or disgusted at how posing what should be a simple, real-world example with a clear answer turns libertarians into raging morons or a cannabalistic mob, self-contradicting everything until they give up the discussion in a huge huff. (Because I Just Don't Understand, See, and by the way, Those Idiots Over There Aren't Real Libertarians... or some such.)

I have a friend who has been attending formal meetings of a Libertarian theory and doctrine group for decades, and he cannot answer the simplest real-world what-if questions and suppositions. The very suggestion that their elaborately constructed theory might not work with real humans in the mix sends him into a rage. And no proposition ties him up faster than trying to get him to nail down exactly how, say, individual vehicle ownership might be managed under a Libertarian paradise.

I can respect someone who champions libertarian ideals. I can muster no respect for anyone who thinks libertarianism is a valid political doctrine.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 01-27-2013 at 03:29 PM. Reason: Chief Many Typoes
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:31 PM
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Funny, that's what I always hear when someone points out the bad attitude or behavior that typifies a group.

"I've got mine, screw you" is one of the most common and notorious features of libertarianism; not some little fringe problem with the movement. As far as I can tell, for many libertarians that's pretty much all that libertarianism is.
There are lots of libertarians on this MB. When one shows up making the argument you claim that most libertarians make, you can debate that argument with them. Until then, I'm just pointing out that you are simply making stuff up.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:31 PM
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I'm not a libertarian but I can understand this uncompassionate way of thinking, and honestly seems so far to me like the very best reason to join the libertarian force. But It wouldn't be as simple as saying I feel like taking care of myself and nobody else, it's that I have a lot of resentment to people who put themselves in a situation of dire desperation and then act like it's someone else's responsibility to get them out of it. How did this person get in the desert in the first place in that situation? passing a gas station while on one/tenth of a tank of gas left?, shit he chose his own mess. I'd use an analogy of someone left with no cash left for food or any essentials to stay alive because they decided to blow all their money and not save at all, and then act like SOMEBODY is wrong for not breaking them off a piece of their own stash because they were irresponsible. I would't blame someone treating me the same way, I wouldn't like it obviously but I'm a realist.

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Old 01-27-2013, 03:33 PM
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"I've got mine, screw you" is one of the most common and notorious features of libertarianism; not some little fringe problem with the movement. As far as I can tell, for many libertarians that's pretty much all that libertarianism is.
And some inverse is often the cause of their conversion. I have another friend who dresses daily in Libertarian Party colors, who became a flaming Libby because (25 years ago) California would not let her bring her non smog-compliant car into the state. So all gummint became oppression and she never shuts up about it.

Frankly, I am daily thankful that Libertarians weren't in charge when it came time to start implementing pollution controls. We'd all be wandering around the smoking wasteland postulated for our future around 1970.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:36 PM
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Until then, I'm just pointing out that you are simply making stuff up.
No, I'm not. I'm simply pointing out something that is both obvious and well known that for whatever reason you don't want to admit.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:38 PM
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There are lots of libertarians on this MB. When one shows up making the argument you claim that most libertarians make, you can debate that argument with them. Until then, I'm just pointing out that you are simply making stuff up.
Of course, John. We Just Don't Understand, Do We?

This is the final argument of Libertarians who can't be held to an accountable answer - that no Libertarian THEY know of would say such a thing. Which means, in my experience, that Libertarianism is a party of individuals who don't agree on anything except that non-Ls are too stupid to understand.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:38 PM
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No, I'm not. I'm simply pointing out something that is both obvious and well known that for whatever reason you don't want to admit.
Well, then I'm sure we'll be inundated with libertarians shortly who agree with what you say about them.

Or not.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:41 PM
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Well, then I'm sure we'll be inundated with libertarians shortly who agree with what you say about them.
Quite possibly we will. I've certainly gotten into enough arguments with "let the weak perish" types here on the SDMB.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:48 PM
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Well, if I may suggest, why not wait until someone actually makes a "let the weak perish" argument in this thread before you get to your 15th post about how you see it all the time?

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Old 01-27-2013, 03:54 PM
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Well, if I may suggest, why not wait until someone actually makes a "let the weak perish" argument in this thread before you get to your 15th post about how you see it all the time?
I made one such to express my opinion; my other posts were in response to John Mace. Why aren't you criticizing him?
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:07 PM
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You are confusing a legal duty with a moral duty. They can be, but needn't be the same.

When it comes to helping people, many libertarians are happy to do so. They just don't think they should be required by law to do so.
Isn't the question: Is the desert contract enforceable? So it is a legal question. The common law has long had a doctrine of undue influence, which in parts states that a party who purports to make a contract in the face of exceptional, (generally) short-lived stressors, and would renounce that contract once the stressor is removed, will be found not to have genuinely accepted the terms of the offer.

The desert scenario would probably be one of undue influence. The excessive demand in light of the actual cost of the rescue would also be avoided as unconscionable.

Instead, the court would likely conduct its own factual inquiry into the cost of the rescue and hold the rescuee responsible for those costs (plus perhaps an overhead) on the doctrine of quantum meruit.

The question presented in the OP is: In general, would a libertarian regime adopt defenses to contractual performance such as undue influence and unconscionability.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:39 PM
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I'm not sure if I'm a Libertarian or not, but I find their ideas intriguing, and I'd like to subscribe to their newsletter.

That said, are you fucking high? If B has the ability to save A's life in the example you put forth, but does not do so without promise of payment in writing, B is an awful human being, and that is not acceptable.

I'm sure there's a broader point I'm missing, as I do not know what Libertarianism has to do with the OP. Sounds like an asshole test, not a political test.
Best damn post I've read in a long, long time.

The Ever Present Straw Man against Libertarianism:

1. Something bad might happen to somebody, somewhere.... or
2. Somebody might be mean to somebody else, somewhere

So let's pass a law against it! Yeah! That's it. That will solve the problem. Just like gun control laws in Chicago or D.C.

What? Libertarians are against such things? Then they must want people to die!
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:46 PM
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There's an interesting concrete example: many states have laws against profiteering in emergency events. If a hurricane is approaching, the law prohibits selling bottled water, or batteries, or plywood, or bandages, at grossly marked-up prices.

Many libertarians have argued against these laws, saying that the government has no business regulating "free trade." Supporters of the laws point out that having a hurricane looming over you is, in itself, a severe limitation on "freedom," and that the purchases of emergency supplies is not a part of the natural, organic free market.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:57 PM
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There's an interesting concrete example: many states have laws against profiteering in emergency events. If a hurricane is approaching, the law prohibits selling bottled water, or batteries, or plywood, or bandages, at grossly marked-up prices.

Many libertarians have argued against these laws, saying that the government has no business regulating "free trade." Supporters of the laws point out that having a hurricane looming over you is, in itself, a severe limitation on "freedom," and that the purchases of emergency supplies is not a part of the natural, organic free market.
On the other hand, by disallowing the price to increase to match demand, one also promotes gratuitous purchasing by risk-averse, but perhaps not very imperiled, consumers. So by forcing the price of batteries to stay low, the suburbanite who's not in the direct path of the disaster doesn't have to weigh seriously the trade-off between buying now-expensive generators versus the actual risk he faces — because he no longer has to confront this trade-off at all.

It also removes the salutary effect of negatively encouraging those suburbanites to purchase emergency supplies early on. This is desirable because these suburbanites are usually better able to afford stocking up on emergency supplies early, and then those who are less able to afford them are not confronted with as bad a supply shock when the looming peril of disaster is no longer capable of being deferred.

So by implementing price controls, we fail to direct resources to those who value them most highly in favor of those who tend to have more ready access to the marketplace (i.e., richer people). We also fail to take advantage of the coordination advantage that price gouging creates: rich people buy earlier in order to avoid high prices immediately preceding the disaster; this, in turn, means that fewer people are buying generators when they are needed most and in shortest supply. Other people pay high prices, but they are less likely to faced cleared-out inventories. (And as noted, low inventory situations themselves favor rich people).

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:21 AM
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I used to consider myself a libertarian (note the lower-case l); I'm sure many libertarians are intelligent, good-spirited, with good ideas. The problem is sophomores who, like a child with a hammer, seize on one idea and apply it everywhere. We saw this just a few days ago: A certain Rob Rock, or such, mentioned computers as products where free-market worked well, and extrapolated that Food Safety should be privatised. Or Republicans who note that decreasing tax on the rich from 70% to 60% increases their incentives and therefore conclude that no tax on the rich can ever be too low. (Again, thank Rob Rock for this brilliant analysis.)

In these forums we have definitely heard from people calling themselves "Libertarians" who have proposed blatant absurdities. I've asked Libertarian Dopers to start their own thread "Let's Agree on our Platform -- Libertarians ONLY Please." Until they do that, the rest of us will continue to poke fun at their self-caricatures.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:33 AM
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We also fail to take advantage of the coordination advantage that price gouging creates: rich people buy earlier in order to avoid high prices immediately preceding the disaster; this, in turn, means that fewer people are buying generators when they are needed most and in shortest supply. Other people pay high prices, but they are less likely to faced cleared-out inventories.
And of course it means that people who would otherwise be able to afford one, can't. And it increases the likelihood of people taking what they need by force, and of revenge killings if the price gouging gets people killed.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:38 AM
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A is dying in a desert, B sees him and offers him a deal, he writes down a deal, which would require A to give him all his property and money in return for getting out of the desert alive.

Is this acceptable to libertarians? Seems like a classic contract, and there is no coersion or violence, just a simple deal. It is an extreme example, though.
Genesis 25:
[29] Once when Jacob was boiling pottage, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished.
[30] And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red pottage, for I am famished!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.)
[31] Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright."
[32] Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"
[33] Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
[34] Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Not that Libertarians should care for Scripture . . .
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:07 AM
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There's an interesting concrete example: many states have laws against profiteering in emergency events. If a hurricane is approaching, the law prohibits selling bottled water, or batteries, or plywood, or bandages, at grossly marked-up prices.

Many libertarians have argued against these laws, saying that the government has no business regulating "free trade." Supporters of the laws point out that having a hurricane looming over you is, in itself, a severe limitation on "freedom," and that the purchases of emergency supplies is not a part of the natural, organic free market.
Price gouging's a great example of what's wrong with libertarianism. For most people, a disaster's an opportunity for people to pull together, cooperate, and support each other. For libertarians it's a chance to exploit each other.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:24 AM
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Price gouging's a great example of what's wrong with libertarianism. For most people, a disaster's an opportunity for people to pull together, cooperate, and support each other. For libertarians it's a chance to exploit each other.
You can't cooperate gasoline out of the ground. You have to buy it.

(Well, you could given enough time, but it's beyond the scope of a disaster-ravaged population.)

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-28-2013 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:34 AM
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And of course it means that people who would otherwise be able to afford one, can't. And it increases the likelihood of people taking what they need by force, and of revenge killings if the price gouging gets people killed.
On the other hand, my dad couldn't afford to buy local gasoline last year when the derecho hit. It wasn't that the price went up, it was that the wait time shot way up. Had he had the option of paying for the scarcity with dollars rather than hours, he would have been able to afford it. (It was also a good example of the market having imperfect information. There was wait-free gas 20 minutes down the road, but people panicked and waited for hours at the first open station they saw.)

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Old 01-28-2013, 01:39 AM
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And of course it means that people who would otherwise be able to afford one, can't. And it increases the likelihood of people taking what they need by force, and of revenge killings if the price gouging gets people killed.
If they were not able to afford it before disaster was looming, why would they suddenly be able to once it was imminent? If they could have, but did not, then you see why the coordination effect of increased prices is valued: we want to encourage preparedness before it becomes necessary.

Increased access to funds has not ever been a hallmark of an impending disaster or its recent aftermath, in my experience. That is to say, people don't magically fund more money during a crisis. So either these people could have afforded it long ago, or they can't afford it at all.

Yes, there are some people who can't afford emergency supplies at any time. How do price controls help them? By hypothesis they can't even afford non-disaster rates.

Price controls are little more than subsidies for the adequately-funded indolent.

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Old 01-28-2013, 04:38 AM
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If they were not able to afford it before disaster was looming, why would they suddenly be able to once it was imminent?
What makes you think they couldn't? People tend to buy things when they are needed.

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So either these people could have afforded it long ago, or they can't afford it at all.
Or they just can't afford to buy every single thing for every single possible problem.

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Price controls are little more than subsidies for the adequately-funded indolent.
Ah, libertarians; they just can't resist sneering at those they consider "inferior".

How about, "Price controls are to keep the vulnerable from being exploited, and to keep would-be exploiters from being robbed and killed". Like many libertarians, I note that you assume that your victims will passively take unlimited amounts of abuse without retaliating.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmy_Gibbler View Post
On the other hand, by disallowing the price to increase to match demand, one also promotes gratuitous purchasing by risk-averse, but perhaps not very imperiled, consumers. So by forcing the price of batteries to stay low, the suburbanite who's not in the direct path of the disaster doesn't have to weigh seriously the trade-off between buying now-expensive generators versus the actual risk he faces because he no longer has to confront this trade-off at all.

It also removes the salutary effect of negatively encouraging those suburbanites to purchase emergency supplies early on. This is desirable because these suburbanites are usually better able to afford stocking up on emergency supplies early, and then those who are less able to afford them are not confronted with as bad a supply shock when the looming peril of disaster is no longer capable of being deferred.

So by implementing price controls, we fail to direct resources to those who value them most highly in favor of those who tend to have more ready access to the marketplace (i.e., richer people). We also fail to take advantage of the coordination advantage that price gouging creates: rich people buy earlier in order to avoid high prices immediately preceding the disaster; this, in turn, means that fewer people are buying generators when they are needed most and in shortest supply. Other people pay high prices, but they are less likely to faced cleared-out inventories. (And as noted, low inventory situations themselves favor rich people).
I agree with this. Say a natural disaster wipes out the power in a particular area, but just outside the affected area, there is a hotel. Under the price controls, they can't charge more than the $70/night they were charging prior to the disaster.

Everyone wants to stay there including,

1: Grandma, who needs power to her oxygen supply or else she would die.
2: Partiers who want to drink booze and have air conditioning.

Under the "no price control" scenario, the partiers would see the increased cost as not worth it and stay home. Grandma would see it as an absolute necessity and a room would be available for her.

Under the price controls, she has to stand in line behind guys with their crates of liquor and may not get a room.
  #41  
Old 01-28-2013, 06:17 AM
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Missed the edit window:

In Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, there was no power for miles. A guy had an idea of setting up his grill in a local parking lot and brewing coffee for $4 a large cup. Since previously at local stores, large coffees were about $2.50, they fined him and shut him down.

Never mind that $4 is reasonable for a single individual brewing coffee in a make-shift manner, and it was the only coffee in town, and I, as a straight man, might have actually sucked a dick for a hot cup of coffee on day 10*. Now nobody gets hot coffee because of the law.


*not really, but I would have held it in my mouth for a little while.
  #42  
Old 01-28-2013, 08:05 AM
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I made one such to express my opinion; my other posts were in response to John Mace. Why aren't you criticizing him?
His posts are less repetitive, or at least repetitive in a less blatant fashion.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:12 AM
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I agree with this. Say a natural disaster wipes out the power in a particular area, but just outside the affected area, there is a hotel. Under the price controls, they can't charge more than the $70/night they were charging prior to the disaster.

Everyone wants to stay there including,

1: Grandma, who needs power to her oxygen supply or else she would die.
2: Partiers who want to drink booze and have air conditioning.

Under the "no price control" scenario, the partiers would see the increased cost as not worth it and stay home. Grandma would see it as an absolute necessity and a room would be available for her.

Under the price controls, she has to stand in line behind guys with their crates of liquor and may not get a room.
"Well, Grandma, as humans, the partiers need shelter too, regardless of their alcohol imbibement, and they were here first. But, as I do not wish you to die, you may use our electrical outlet here in the lobby to power your life-giving oxygen machine."
  #44  
Old 01-28-2013, 08:54 AM
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Price gouging's a great example of what's wrong with libertarianism. For most people, a disaster's an opportunity for people to pull together, cooperate, and support each other. For libertarians it's a chance to exploit each other.
Libertarians are not seeking to outlaw people pulling together, they merely want to legalize raising prices in response to supply and demand.
When prices go up, suppliers respond by taking goods from where prices are low to where the prices are high. Because of this much needed supplies are rushed to where they are most needed.
If raising prices is outlawed then there is no incentive other than charity to provide supplies to those who need them. Charity is admirable, but higher prices work better and faster.
An example is after Hurricane Katrina and gentlemen from the Midwest bought a truckload of generators and drove them to New Orleans to sell. He was arrested and the generators were impounded. Thus there were dozens of homes who could have had power but were denied generators because of anti-gouging laws.
We saw the same thing with gas after Sandy, shortages in the place where gas was most needed while those of us not affected by the storm had plenty of gas and no incentive to get it to those who needed it most.
So price gouging encourages preparedness and rushes help to the affected areas. Yet banning price gouging is seen as compassion and allowing it is seen as indifference. This is what happens when you judge things on motives and not results.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:42 AM
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Libertarians are not seeking to outlaw people pulling together, they merely want to legalize raising prices in response to supply and demand.
When prices go up, suppliers respond by taking goods from where prices are low to where the prices are high. Because of this much needed supplies are rushed to where they are most needed.
If raising prices is outlawed then there is no incentive other than charity to provide supplies to those who need them. Charity is admirable, but higher prices work better and faster.
The incentive to put product where there is more demand is increased sales volume. Let's say that John Deere has stores everywhere, with generator sales steady and readily available stock. Sales at each store average ten units per week. A Hurricane hits New Orleans, and sales demand increases tenfold at the stores closest to N.O. Isn't this increased demand incentive to get product there, now?

To move the product there, where it will sell anyway, and at a sales rate ten times normal because of disaster, then raise the price because of the increased demand, is fucking shameful.
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Last edited by Yorikke; 01-28-2013 at 09:43 AM.
  #46  
Old 01-28-2013, 09:58 AM
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To move the product there, where it will sell anyway, and at a sales rate ten times normal because of disaster, then raise the price because of the increased demand, is fucking shameful.
Libertarians have a lot of ideas worth despising, but I'll stick up for them on this issue, at least in principle. Prices should be determined by supply and demand. If the needy cannot afford the price, government can subsidize their purchase. If supply is needlessly limited, government can attempt to supply in competition. Imposing price controls should be a last resort.

(If making excess profit were "immoral," the stockholders of Microsoft would all be headed to Hell. )
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:20 AM
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On the OP's question, there's actually quite a few scenarios we should be considering, not just one where, in Libertopia, a person comes across him and makes this deal. What if, he comes across him and chooses to do nothing? What we're in an existent nation and the person chooses to do nothing? What if the man was originally planning not to help him, but the dying man offers him all he owns if he helps him?

My point is, there's no accounting for morality, particularly in this sort of situation. No matter what government type we have, we have to hope that most people are generally moral and will help. If we have no law to force someone to help, then sure, some people might help, but if we legally require them to help, he may do so at incredible cost to himself, possibly including his death as well. So, I think moral arguments against libertarianism in this sort of question is missing the point, people should still be expected to be moral, even if they're not legally required to do so.

And as far as the sort of deal goes itself, there's a few different ways it might pan out. It's quite possible that such a contract could be found coercive, but if neither party wants to dispute it, it shouldn't matter. Obviously of lesser consequence, but I've been on the short end of deals before and not particularly cared for absolute equity. So, it's possible that the dying person takes the deal, is rescued, and despite that many might think he was coerced, might be okay with the result. If he is legitimately okay with it, I see no reason to force the law into it.

That said, if he's not happy with the deal, this is where you're going to see quite a bit of divergence in libertarian thought. Some libertarians might consider that a coerced deal, taking advantage of the guy, some might think it's perfectly fine, and some might find somewhere in the middle. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that libertarians have a monolithic way of thinking and that that way of thinking is essentially equivalent to anarchy.


In my personal view, this is similar, but not equivalent, to price gouging. I don't particularly have an issue with higher prices in the wake of an emergency, higher demand and lower supply means higher prices, yes, there is some moral obligation to help and not charge ridiculous prices but, again, we run into the moral problem I mentioned earlier where we either legalize it and risk people getting ripped off, or make it illegal, and risk people not getting supplies they could use. But that's neither here nor there.

This situation is different because it's a single event. The person who is saving him isn't making any sort of investment in bringing in fuel or generators in an emergency, he is just in the right place at the right time to see the person dying. The thing is, I think it clearly fits coercion, even if the person offering the deal isn't the one doing it. My reasoning is, any reasonable person, being aware that wealth is worthless if they're not alive, would basically have to accept any deal he were offered because, being out in the desert, he can reasonably expect that if that person doesn't save him, he'll die. So it is an implicit bargaining against his death.

That said, it doesn't mean that the cost is flat either. If the guy is out in a jeep and all he has to do is throw him in the back seat, it's a lot different than if he's on a camel, has to abandon his cargo to put him on the camel, and then double back.

Anyway,I think most libertarians, and people in general, would agree that the deal in the OP would be considered coercive, or at least made under duress. I also think that most libertarians would agree that part of the governments job isn't just to enforce contracts, but to ensure that, if there's a dispute about them, that they were made without coercion or under duress. As such, depending on the specifics, if disputed, I think that a civil trial would find that the contract was entered under duress, and he probably owes the man some sort of reasonable payment, but not necessarily everything he owns. As for how much, that would depend upon the findings of the trial.
  #48  
Old 01-28-2013, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by hrhomer View Post
The incentive to put product where there is more demand is increased sales volume. Let's say that John Deere has stores everywhere, with generator sales steady and readily available stock. Sales at each store average ten units per week. A Hurricane hits New Orleans, and sales demand increases tenfold at the stores closest to N.O. Isn't this increased demand incentive to get product there, now?

To move the product there, where it will sell anyway, and at a sales rate ten times normal because of disaster, then raise the price because of the increased demand, is fucking shameful.
Every generator I sell in New Orleans is one I don't sell in Chicago, I have a certain number of generators, I can't make them in days, I need several weeks notice to ramp up the production of generators. I don't get that notice that a disaster is coming so I only have 1,000 generators in stock. I will sell 10 at each of 100 cities or send them all to New Orleans and sell all 1,000 there. I have to order special trucks to send them to New Orleans and I have to piss off the people in the other cities by denying them generators. The only reason to ship them to New Orleans is to make a higher profit on each one.
What is actually shameful is to deny people in need generators so we can feel good about ourselves. If you need to feel good about yourself get a pedicure and let people in need get the supplies they need.

Last edited by puddleglum; 01-28-2013 at 10:26 AM.
  #49  
Old 01-28-2013, 10:34 AM
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Being able to sell them now as opposed to in due time might be an incentive, but probably not enough to transport them twice to get them from wherever they're selling at a normal rate to where they would sell faster due to a hurricane. I'm guessing even if all the shipments coming in from the manufacturer are diverted, it wouldn't be enough to meet demand, so they'd have to reship some other units that might be in retail stores in Texas or a warehouse in California.

Last edited by Mdcastle; 01-28-2013 at 10:36 AM.
  #50  
Old 01-28-2013, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Libertarians have a lot of ideas worth despising, but I'll stick up for them on this issue, at least in principle. Prices should be determined by supply and demand. If the needy cannot afford the price, government can subsidize their purchase. If supply is needlessly limited, government can attempt to supply in competition. Imposing price controls should be a last resort.
Bolding mine.

Such as when? Perhaps in the immediate aftermath of one of the most destructive hurricanes of all time?

Last edited by Yorikke; 01-28-2013 at 10:39 AM.
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