Doing so, however, downplays or entirely disregards a host of mutual obligations that the reasoning of freedom says we have to one another as well as toward the society as a whole. Meeting the obligations is necessary for freedom to be moral within its own logic, as we will see, yet honoring them demands collective societal decisions and a highly energetic public sphere. Read more at location 28
The general idea of freedom here is what some call “negative freedom.”7 Its emphasis is on the absence of restrictions on an individual as long as that individual does no wrongful harm to others. Other than helping people to prevent wrongful harm, the notion of individual freedom we have normally does not positively enable a person to do a particular thing, but in regard to that action it keeps the person free from the unwarranted interference of others, including the government. Read more at location 99
Note: This is the fundamental idea of Libertarian Freedom. The freedom simply to be left alone. It is the decisive division between the Libertarian conception of Freedom and the Progressive conception. A man who is left alone cannot do much of anything. A man who is empowered can. Their rebuttal is that any empowerment requires the coercion of another man, his service by threat of force. But we do not walk up to another person and point a gun to his head and tell him to help another. This is slavery. We tell them, that if they earn wealth in a society that we all built together, then they owe into this society the taxes that allow such a society to thrive through the use of public goods. And the empowerment of others is a public good because everyone benefits when others are able to earn wealth and be productive. No one benefits from a man starving in the street. The same umbrella applies to all public goods such as infrastructure and education. The other common rebuttal is that these things either 1) Are better left to the private market or 2) Should be left to the private market are red herrings. By all means, if a person wants to start a private school or private protection company, allow him to do so! But this is a separate argument from the idea that all taxes or the help to others is coercion. You aren’t taxed for merely existing. You are taxed by earning wealth in a system that allows this to happen.
Thinking in terms of free-market freedom, of course, does recognize some need for outside interference, areas in which restrictions on individuals and limits on their choices and actions are appropriate in the name of freedom itself. It is necessary for laws to prohibit crimes against other persons or property and to address concerns such as liability, fraud, patents, and contracts. These and similar concerns, along with national security and possibly public goods such as roads or rudimentary education, describe the primary areas in which liberty allows governmental intervention.Read more at location 107
The more general or fundamental sense of liberty, however, involves something thing far larger than simply being left alone to follow one’s own best self-interest. The idea of freedom is considerably more than a private value. Many of the nation’s Revolutionary leaders themselves did not understand the idea of freedom dom as having such dominant emphasis on the individual’s autonomy or on the promotion of self-interest as the prevailing free-market view does. Nor did a succession of later presidents usually considered great, such as Abraham Lincoln or either of the Roosevelts.10 They instead thought about freedom primarily in terms of the individual’s autonomy nested within a complex of obligations individuals have toward one another, obligations that are required for freedom to be moral. Those obligations, in turn, give rise to abiding feelings of concern and consideration among individuals both for one another and for the larger society. The obligations create conditions for the development of bonds able to connect individuals. Far from being individualistic, that is, freedom is an essentially tially social idea. Even that seemingly individualistic eighteenth-century rallying ing cry “Don’t tread on me” also summons us not to tread on others-and to help clear a path for fellow Americans to walk on. It must. For without such concern for others and the greater whole, as I will show, the moral foundations of freedom collapse and with them freedom’s very timelessness as a visionary force.
For one, if freedom involving this kind of autonomy is our standard, no national purpose can exist that reaches much beyond the individual and the self-interests that individuals pursue. There is no tissue joining us to supply a unifying foundation. Everything centers on the individual along with his or her self-interests.Read more at location 132
government-the only way we have to express ourselves collectively as an entire society-turns into an enemy. Read more at location 161
Government is not simply the way we express ourselves collectively but also often the only way we preserve our freedom from private power and its incursions. As noted earlier, individual liberty means that a person is protected from unwarranted outside interference-not only governmental interference but also the wrongful interference of anyone in our lives, whether it be a corporation, or interest group, or our next-door neighbor, or someone who seeks to coerce us. Regarding these last four, government is often the only place we can seek protection and its intervention our only viable answer. With its focus so much on government as the enemy and limiting the intrusiveness of government, the free-market view fails to accent the ways private power is able to threaten individual liberty. Read more at location 162
Note: Important. One of the top 10, if not 5, passages we have ever read in regards to politics, economics, and the articulation of a progressive vision. If you’re too stupid to take care of yourself who will? Who said government will? Government isn’t for that. It is to protect you. From fraud as well. Fraud is a form of theft. Why is it my problem to take care of someone else? You’re not. Government is the way we collectively protect freedom. Almost everything is covered. Rejection of government is a rejection of the fact that Private power can infringe on your freedom as much as anything. What if I want to hit you? Hire a cop? What if you have no money? Do you no longer have the right to not be harmed? Rights come outside of what’s in your pocket. Rights are granted regardless of monetary ability. What if I hot you and you hire a cop after? What law did I break? Where did law come from? Understanding private power, coercion, fraud, or non freedom of movement is as likely to kill freedom as anything is the key to all. If your sick and can’t buy health care you aren’t free. Just ask what if you can’t afford it?
The pages to come reveal many areas in which free-market liberty downplays the dangers that private power poses to our freedom as individuals. In such cases, the expansion of government that free-market advocates decry today as a threat to liberty17 instead is needed to accomplish the opposite, to protect our freedom as individuals-the very same freedomRead more at location 166
that free-market advocates purport to desire. Through this fundamental bias, the free-market view greatly confuses the understanding that the general public has about what freedom is and what the well-being of freedom requires. Read more at location 168
This inattentiveness concerning the threat that private power poses to liberty ultimately produces serious moral issues.Read more at location 169
the capacity for morality is what separates human beings from all other species.Read more at location 171
The many obligations include not only the willingness to protect each other against wrongful harm-against wrongful taking from one another in its many guises-but also the willingness to assure the availability of economic opportunity that is truly adequate to each individual and the status of full legal as well as political equality.Read more at location 178
Very simply, the individualistic perspective fails as a compelling idea in terms of the moral reasoning of freedom itself.Read more at location 183
There can be little denying that free-market conservatism emphasizing the language of individual freedom has fared very well politically over the past half century. By contrast, as it became increasingly associated in the public mind with aiming toward social equality instead of freedom, liberalism has turned into something of a dirty word. Read more at location 199
James Madison, who, more than any other person, wrote our Constitution, had yet to reach the age of forty. Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence when he was only thirty-three years old.Read more at location 232
Suppose, however, that inequalities in property did grow so extreme as to snuff out sufficient opportunity. At that point, Madison argued, public policies of government served as legitimate tools to restore a relative equality of economic conditions, as he put it, to “reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence toward a state of comfort.”4 For this reason, he believed that “to provide employment for the poor, and support for the indigent, is among the primary and, at the same time, not least difficult cares of the public authority.”5 Read more at location 246
By granting the exclusive use of property to its owner, this right to acquire and exercise exclusive ownership of property in effect limits and interferes with the freedom of use of all other individuals with respect to that property.’6 Read more at location 281
“Lockean proviso,”17 Read more at location 284
Before private property existed apart from the ownership of one’s own person, the earth and its natural produce were available to and owned by humankind in common,18 what we may call the original condition. Read more at location 285
“Labor being the unquestionable property of the laborer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.Read more at location 290
“He that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst.”21Read more at location 294
There is indeed little in the reasoning of free-market liberty, unaided by other values such as compassion, to support an outcome any different than what naturally occurs through the laws of supply and demand of the modern free market, as long as the exchanges among all individuals have been truly voluntary and no person has been allowed to fall beneath the survival living of the original condition. In this way of thinking, society owes individuals little more than a rudimentary education and a menial public assistance system, if that.26 Two fundamental issues arise here, though. For one, this account permits dire destitution comparable to that of a primitive person to result from the laws of supply and demand and to be deemed legitimate in modern society. It permits this outcome, again, as long as the exchanges among all individuals are truly voluntary and no individual is allowed to drop beneath the subsistence living of the original condition. Moreover, this account would permit that result to befall an individual involuntarily, entirely outside the individual’s choice, if too little decent-paying opportunity happens to be available in the general economy-say, as the result of an economic downturn, a domestic or global trade war, a sudden surge in the supply of labor, or any number of other possible circumstances. The free-market understanding of liberty, unaided by any other separate value such as compassion, effectively takes this position. Quite a few free-market advocates make no bones about it.27 This is to say that unless we introduce some independent additional value such as compassion, the morality of the free-market idea of liberty turns out to reside at about the same level as does that of a survival-of-the-fittest, dog-eat-dog world; it is barely a step removed from a strict Darwinian viewpoint. Read more at location 312
Arbitrarily and without reason, this reference point overlooks several crucial kinds of harm to individuals. It simply assumes them away.Read more at location 328
In a civil society based upon a market economy, we know that no necessary tie exists between the number of decent-paying jobs available and the number of workers who need such jobs. A free-market economy is expected to function efficiently based upon the laws of supply and demand. Absent external intervention, it will not necessarily arrive at a condition of relative economic equality in which individuals are able to be employed in jobs paying wages and benefits sufficient at least to support a minimally decent standard of living. Chapters to come will amply demonstrate, in fact,Read more at location 369
Note: Great articulation of the agnostic eye of the free market in regards to employment and people’s ability to sustain themselves. Nothing in a free market tells us that everyone gets to make it. Indeed supply and demand could dictate some people just starve to death. Demand may not be sufficient to insure everyone has the employment necessary to survive. Dead people aren’t typically that free. That sounds like a fairly serious flaw in a market system to me, or any other emphatic creature. Why do we accept the death of so many when it can be prevented?
that many millions of full-time workers in our economy occupy jobs today whose wages cannot support a minimally decent living, wages that have dutifully followed the laws of supply and demand. Millions more have taken part-time jobs because adequate full-time work is unavailable. This is not to mention the millions beyond all of these workers who are unemployed and without jobs. In a free-market economy, individuals may or may not have access through their labor to the means to attain a standard of living similar to that of mostRead more at location 372
Note: One of the best passages in the book and a standard opening gambit. What if supply and demand dictate you die?
The individual can thus lose his status of relative equality, involuntarily, perhaps for long periods of time or forever. He is surely reasonable to consider himself worse off in this particular regard, if it is indeed true that the opportunity to attain the level of living of a relative equal in the civil society does not remain available to him. Read more at location 379
If a significantly increased supply of labor occurs in a market economy, stagnant wages and real wage declines are likely to occur, even for those workers who do better on the job and improve their productivity.Read more at location 397
Note: Wages are based on what one produces on relative terms, not absolute terms. So when Libertarians says you are compensated based on what you produce, it does not equate to saying you get paid more if you produce more. They must understand you can produce more and get paid LESS if more people enter the labor force. And for Chris, this is one sense in which the Economy is Zero Sum. One persons increase in ability and wealth does in fact decrease your wealth and value on relative terms. It comes back to Frank and absolute vs relative position. What you do on absolute terms is next to meaningless. It’s only by producing more on relative terms.
No able individual in the natural or original condition needed to be subservient to any other through economic dependence for the means to a living.Read more at location 399
Note: A way in which the Rich do get rich off the backs of the poor. When they depend on you, and you raise prices, it is impossible to see how they do not, get rich off the backs of the poor.
have just spoken of four goods-let us call them associational goods-available to individuals in the original condition that civil society operating under a regime of private property may well place in jeopardy: the opportunity for equal economic standing, for inclusion, for self-improvement, and for self-rule.Read more at location 404
I call economic opportunity that meets the minimum threshold “adequate” opportunity. Adequate opportunity does not demand equality or equal outcomes in the distribution of income, not in any way. It is important that this be clear. Read more at location 456
Finally, the society would need to go one step further. It would need to make provision for individuals who for reasons beyond their control are physically or mentally unable to provide for themselves. If life is a necessary condition for liberty, and if individual liberty is the highest value, then those individuals who do not have the ability to sustain their life and thus their liberty, for reasons beyond their control, must have access to the means to do so. Locke himself, though for other reasons, insisted on the provision of public relief to such individuals.49 Read more at location 463
others-in establishing a system that publicly sanctions and protects private property acquisition and ownership.Read more at location 470
Yet a free-market perspective that adds compassion-or any other value-simultaneously affirms that free-market liberty itself is inadequate. In essence, holders of this view are trying to bridge the gap between freedom and what they consider to be moral.Read more at location 522
Yet that places those individuals in a position akin to supplicants, having to hope that others will respect their rights out of compassion, perhaps even having to beg others for their pity, rather than being able to assert and legitimately expect enforcement of their own rights. Leaving the enforcement of liberty rights up to the compassion of others-whether to individuals or majorities of the public-is a fundamental violation of principles of liberty. If something is morally a liberty right, it deserves enforcement as a liberty right irrespective of compassion. Read more at location 527
Note: A good Rebuttle against the tirelessly used argument of the enemies that charities and private donations are the only road to a social safety net.
access among free individuals ordinarily results in a substantial overuse of resources by self-seeking individuals acting to further their own ends. Sooner or later, such overuse leaves little or nothing for others, perhaps for anyone. That result is known as “the tragedy of the commons.”57 Consequently, one can speculate that common access of free individuals in the original condition, who operated in their own self-interests with no regard for others, ultimately would have led to starvation for some or many individuals, a dreary and dismal existence in the best of times.58 If this were to happen, then a regime of common access would not have left “enough and as good” for others, making some private property-owning arrangement necessary in order to avoid starvation for most, if not all. Read more at location 533
Note: Excellent refutation of ethical egoism
Friedman, for example, calls for a form of guaranteed income. He does so arguing that poverty is, in effect, a market failure and so, within a free-market perspective, an appropriate area for governmental intervention.Read more at location 549
Note: A convicing example of free market idealogies supporting a social safety net. Chris, Jon, and Jeremy all find Friedman to be a guru, and they would either support a social safety net under the argument that Friedman gives or reject Friedman altogether. It is not clear how poverty is nessesarily a market failure but if we are able to find this argument, it will be very helpful.
Hayek argues that voluntary exchange through the free market is the best and indeed only feasible way to deal with the staggering amount of information surrounding what thousands of dispersed people individually want; the differing values they have that often defy reconciliation; what can be supplied and the cost of producing it; and the dynamic changes that endlessly occur in all those factors. Any centralized governmental solution must end up imposing its own values, not those that individual citizens would choose,Read more at location 552
Note: A very good way to describe the Free Market, if needed.
This defense Hayek gives for the free-market notion of freedom is instrumental, of course, not logical and so necessarily enduring. Were the capacity for information processing to become possible through electronic or other means, the objection he gives to centralized planning through the state could well mostly evaporate, at least on those grounds. Read more at location 556
Note: And an excellent rebuttle. If we only accept the virtue of the free market to be the processing of countless individual signals, then we may also say that through vote, we are also excecising our individual desires in an equivilent way. A charge levied against this would be that people could vote their way to subject others to their will, but this does not seperate public from private virtues in that people equally cannot change market outcomes if they deem them undesirable. If I want an end to Poverty or Health Care for everyone, I can’t “buy” this in the market. If I want clean air or unpolluted environment, I can’t go anywhere and “buy” this as a commy. The Market deals in Commodities. Some things cannot be bought and sold yet are desirable, and in this way, people recieve what they want through collective means.
More important, the information that markets process so marvelously is based on how many dollars individuals have, not on the individuals themselves. An individual with no job and no dollars will go unrecorded in the production and consumer markets. There is indeed little in the way of any spelled-out moral bottom line in Hayek’s argument regarding conditions of living for individuals and families or collective actions by society that might be needed to attain them.62Read more at location 558
Note: Through government, each person plays on equal footing. Markets leave influence only to the highest bidder. Through government only are we able to achieve a state of affairs for everyone, not just those desired by whoever has the most money.
Consider, for example, the extraordinary prosperity that we have today. Virtually all of us share in it to one degree or another. Most Americans who are poor today are better off than the average American a century ago. Suppose that this present prosperity had been made possible only through vast economic inequality that involved dire poverty at some previous time in history in order to be able to gather the massive capital resources necessary to generate broader prosperity. Yet there are plenty of disputing facts. Among those facts is the existence of highly prosperous Western industrial nations that have had substantial public sectors, including large programs of income redistribution, for a very long time now. A substantial proportion of the prosperity of those nations, measured by the GNP, occurred after their public sectors had already grown very large.64 Read more at location 570
Yet, if we assume its truth, would that rescue the objection?Read more at location 579
Even if higher poverty rates did lead to stronger economic growth, that result does not make it acceptable to abandon liberties of some individuals in order to advantage the lives of others. Suppose, however, that every individual became better off through that economic growth. Suppose that economic growth built upon higher rates of poverty and inequality helped not only the nonpoor but also all the poor, that is, everyone in the end-even those who continue to be poor but with a better standard of living. Again, of course, it is empirically disputable that poverty for some is required in order to attain overall economic growth that lifts them and all others. In addition, such prosperity does not and cannot unquestionably advantage all. It does not and cannot as long as that prosperity leaves some or many individuals still in poverty according to the contemporary standard of living, without opportunity through work to attain the minimum living of a relative economic equal in the society. To leave individuals materially better off yet still in poverty-marginalized, reduced to inferiority in the society, and without sufficient opportunity to change their condition-is to cause them possible harm as compared with retaining the opportunity to be a relative equal, which logically was once their liberty. Opportunity adequate to attain the minimum living of a relative equal must remain for the conclusion to be surely true that individuals have not been harmed. Read more at location 579
Note: Magnificent and beautiful rebuttle to the rhetoric that poverty leading to greater growth leaves everyone better off anyway. Invoking Darwin’s Economy’s idea of relative vs positional advantage, combined with the fact that many countries grow despite lower poverty, we are able to utterly statelmate if not defeat the idea that stark inequality and mass poverty is permissible under the banner of lifting everyone’s ships.
For one, much of what we have actually done collectively as a society over the past three or four generations, until recently, comes to life and makes sense through this idea of freedom while often remaining inexplicable and indeed indefensible through the free-market view that pervades our idea of freedom today. Without the perspective of genuine freedom, a good part of the nation’s story over the past three or four generations appears alien at least in terms of the cherished value with which we most deeply identify as a nation.Read more at location 622
It’s in the past now.Read more at location 636
Note: You can already see the setup for the tale of the heroic effort and enterprise whereby he suffered and endured, yet never complained, only to become incredibly successful despite all these hardships. He will of course, have had no help from anyone, and serve as an shining example that only hard work, not the theft of the government from the successful, is required for freedom. This chapter is bound to be an interesting one seeing how Swartz addresses this tireless narrative.
Frank’s life tells a quintessentially American story, an inspiring and yet a familiar story. The story of advance through opportunity is, at bottom, a story about freedom. We can see this simply through the ordinary meaning we give to two phrases: “the land of the free” and “the land of opportunity.” We use those phrases virtually synonymously. In our way of thinking, freedom and opportunity are not different from each other but part of the same thing. Freedom implies the availability of opportunity. The opposite also holds: if one does not have opportunity, it implies that he or she is not free. Read more at location 640
Note: This guy is a monster, and once again, this passage alone allows for us to construct an unbrella nessesary for freedom under which we can place almost any Democratic ideal. Education is a form of oppurtunity. Grants, roads, many public services, research, and many policies stemming from healthcare to even forms of welfare can be framed as a means of providing oppurtunity, which is a hallmark of the American conception of freedom. For years, the most difficult part of addressing Libertarian and Republican arguments dealt with doing so under the premise of their idea of freedom. Of course, via basic Lakoff, we could never win a debate arguing under the opponents terms. By redefining freedom as the availability of oppurtunity, we frame the debate in our terms, and play near our own end zone, instead of defending from the opponents.
One key area of social policy involves public education and job training, sound basic levels of which individuals require today in order to be able to access opportunities available in the modern economy, let alone for a number of other reasons related to freedom.5Read more at location 699
Note: Education is the cornerstone which allows people to access the opportunity available to consider them free. To Jon, Jeremy and even Chris you would say their only conception of Freedom is being left alone. But a man in the middle of the desert is free, but this tells us nothing about what he can do. Education, perhaps more than anything else, unlocks the path to freedom, that is, being able to do things.
With respect to the first guideline, obviously, neither public education nor job training delivers any benefits to any individual’s material well-being outside of the connection they bear to that individual’s future gainful work. Read more at location 701
Notwithstanding that, even at its zenith in the mid-1990s, spending on welfare assistance was proportionately very small. Added together with SSI, it amounted to less than one of every ten cents of spending on all social programs outside health care and to about 3 percent of total public expenditures in the United States.8Read more at location 710
Note: A favorite villain of conservatives takes very little.
The triggering condition has to do with the level of availability of work in the economy enabling individuals to provide a minimally socially decent living through their labor and to improve their living by improving their work.9Read more at location 715
Note: What if there is no work in the economy. Another sense in which Economics is Zero Sum. Wealth is created but only so much labor can be paid for. But what if demand simply can’t support hiring? Since skill is relative and not absolute, someone has to lose. Even a race of super beings, someone has to get out competed. We denigrate laziness, lack of effort, and sloth. What if you simply can’t compete? What then?
Both of those last two quotes are the words of Mollie Orshansky, the individual who formulated the measure that became the official poverty line.Read more at location 730
It has to do with the ability of the typical American worker to improve his or her standard of living by improving his or her work. From 1973 to 2001, the productivity of the average American worker climbed by more than 50 percent per hour of work and by nearly 40 percent from 1973 to 1995 alone. To what degree did that improvement lead to increased real pay? By 1995, most workers had received no increase at all in their real hourly wages, or even in real hourly compensation, which also includes benefits. In fact, the median American worker (the worker exactly at the midpoint) was actually paid a lower real wage in 1995 than twenty-two years earlier, this despite the near 40 percent improvement that took place in workers’ average productiv- ity.28 Since the median worker represents half of all workers, the ability to improve one’s living by improving one’s work, and to reap the fruits of one’s labor, had evaporated for many American workers. Read more at location 790
Note: A ready refutation to the common Libertarian argument you will see, that by providing more value for people, you will reap more reward. That you are paid according to the value you provide. Here, these people are only increasing their productivity, yet their wages are going down. A good point to bring up for those who claim you just need to work harder, and do more, to earn more or to meet the idea that you are paid according to what you produce. You need to be ready for one clear rebuttal. Standard of Living, and it’s improvement. While in the 70s, $300 or it’s equivalent would buy you food and clothing, and perhaps a modest TV, today, they would point out, it can buy you a smartphone that can connect to the internet and reach into space, a Blu Ray Player, A Flatscreen, a computer, and all sorts of things that are far more advanced than anything you could buy in the 70s. So the same amount of money actually buys you more well-being. To not be tricked by this, be ready to point out that food is food, in any decade. Anything outside of these necessities, are usually some degree of luxury, that makes our lives better of course, in absolute terms, probably not much in relative terms. Pull out Darwin Economy. Is a person today who gets a Smartphone, happier than a person in the 70s who got an Atari? An Atari back then, was every bit the equivalent of a Smartphone today. In absolute terms, the smartphone is more advanced, but we had no conception of such a thing back in the 70s. On relative terms, the equivalent technology for the time almost certainly made us just as happy as anything today. Some people say happier. Thus, we have a paradox of technology. As we get better and better things, we are seeing them against a background of already incredible things, so the relative advance is probably the same. Are things really any better? It is not clear, but you can stalemate any debate with the question. You might be ready for the argument that even considering equivilent relatively powered technology for each time, today we can still afford “more” with the same money. That even then, an Atari was still a quarter of a minimum wage salary, and today, it may only be an 8th due to economies of scale. Everyone working at Mcdonalds today, has a 4G Smartphone. Did they have the equivelant back then? Clearly, you need to be ready to accept things are better altogether these days, and the Capitalism has produced a better world for more people. You might want to use the argument that fewer and fewer people get to take part in this world due to inequality. Or, you might sidestep this issue entirely, since it is not really in contention, or Capitalism in general, but the conception of freedom, oppurtunity, and public goods. Capitalsim is not really on trial.
For, when one looks at average compensation and not the middle worker, the gap between compensation growth and productivity growth entirely disappears.31 Average compensation takes account of the huge pay increases received by those at the top, whereas median compensation, which measures the situation for the individual exactly in the middle, does not. Overall compensation was satisfactory; it just never filtered down. Read more at location 803
Note: This is why median is so important. Average balances with the huge salaries of the top. Median shows that most people never got the increase. Stiglitz’s book is seminal in providing the evidence needed to show this was not entirely from market forces, but created.
This “return-to-skill” answer, though, leaves a lot unexplained. For example, the most “highly educated” in the economy often refers to workers who have earned college degrees, who constitute about one-third of the labor force. Yet the lopsided pay increases went almost exclusively only to those at the verytop of the earnings and income ladder-the top 5 percent or so, only one-sixth the number even of those workers who had college de- grees.33Read more at location 809
Note: A first line of defense against the “The more skilled are earning more and everyone else is just not as skilled” argument. Open of course to the fact that among skilled college educated people, there are degrees. But worthy to keep in mind.
Moreover, the explanation fails to account for why workers in many major European economies did not experience the same degree of wage inequality as American workers over the past thirty years despite the fact that they were subject to the same technological environment.Read more at location 811
Note: Rebuttle right out of “Winner take all Politics.” That the inequality is something unique to America.
Consider workers who are between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-four. Almost one-half of the jobs held by those individuals are either downsized or displaced in the economy during a ten-year period.34 This rate of job dislocation is about 50 to 60 percent greater than the rate that workers aged twenty to fifty-four experience.35 Read more at location 820
Note: A compelling beginning to the start of an argument for Social Security. People in the twilight of their working years are living on a razer’s edge in terms of employment and well-being. Get wacked at 55 or 60, and you might be done. It does not seem that a human society would simply leave these people to die in a market that will not hire them after having been fired due to very real market forces. It sounds very good to say the should have saved, it’s not your problem, you deserve what you get, that’s a “you” problem. Sorry about your luck. But this does not resonate well in a democratic society, who don’t want to see Grandma eating dog food and dying during the winter without heat in a society with so much wealth.
Because of considerations such as these, the probability is high that a large number of individuals as they advance in age, even when they are fully competent and able, will eventually find themselves at a serious disadvantage in attaining and preserving employment allowing them to gain a decent living and improvement, surely commensurate with their competency. And this observation describes good times; were there to be a general recession and spreading unemployment, many displaced individuals of advancing age likely would be left on the sidelines, indefinitely and even permanently, without opportunities for adequate employment. Social Security addresses these economic realities facing older Americans and attempts to do so in the least coercive and intrusive manner practicable, as I try to show when I take up the fourth guideline in the next chapter. The program has an ancillary consequence that bears mentioning, too. By enabling workers to retire, it has reduced the size of the labor force in an economy whose surpluses of labor from other sources, mounting over many years, already had a debilitating effect on the wages of most other workers. Read more at location 829
Note: One of the most compelling and well argued justifications for Social Security in a nutshell that one can find, with a bonus for Conservatives. It helps everyone else out by taking people out of the workforce, reducing the pool of labor and driving up wages for those already working, effectively putting more money in their pockets as well. Furthermore it serves a human and pragmatic concern, namely, that for most people the argument that people should be able to enjoy a few of their final good years free and happy, with family and freinds, after a lifetime of service in an economy. While this argument is lost entirely on Libertarians and Conservatives, it only is so for the reasons we debate them to begin with. Most people simply would prefer a life where they can enjoy a few years without work. Being able to do this is Freedom.
The upward economic mobility ofAmericans. For a start, just recall the example of Frank Vitale. Growing up dirt poor, he began with nothing, not even a high school education, and made it. That he and numerous others just like him started with so very little and attained the good life through work would seem proof by itself that plenty of opportunity exists.Read more at location 838
Note: This is not an argument for our position, it only serves as a good marker to review everything following it. This is again and again the argument you will meet in response to any insistance that we provide a social safety net in any form. Also prepare for Sowell’s objection. That statistics takes into account aggregate, not real individual people. They’ll say for each decade, the average didn’t go up, but those who were poor in the first decade were wealthy in he second having worked their way up, and the poor in the second decade were those that were too young to work in the first. Its statistics.
Such evidence, combined with compelling stories like Frank’s, support and sustain the widely held perception that economic mobility is common in this nation, that a large majority of individuals who start out at the bottom and who work and persevere do move up the ladder. If so, it would seem obvious that there’s no substantial shortage of opportunity necessitating collective societal intervention, certainly not on its present scale. Read more at location 842
Note: Right out of Friedman more or less. Prepare for this argument specifically.
In the case of statistical studies, individuals’ income may rise (or fall) dramatically for many reasons, of course. Dramatic changes in income obviously occur when workers take their first “real” job out of school, or when they leave jobs through, say, unemployment or retirement, or when they get married or divorced. If, for example, a good proportion of individuals age sixteen and older who occupy the bottom rung at any point in time are still of school or college age and irregularly employed, if employed at all, it stands to reason that the income of many such individuals will rise with the passage of time simply as the natural result of their entering adulthood, finishing school, and becoming continuing full-time workers.39 Read more at location 845
Note: The beginnning of the framework for the argument to counter it. Pulling from “Thinking Fast and Slow” and other books pointing out similar statistical fallacies, “advancement” in many of these cases is only advancement of working more hours by holding down any regular job, good or bad, after college years, which are typically low paid and irregular in nature of hours worked. This doesn’t tell us people are really advancing.
Now consider all workers who were in jobs and employed full-time for ten successive years. How well did they fare if they started off in a low-wage job? How many of them progressed to jobs paying an adequate wage? Some of them indeed did advance. If we think about workers with children, approximately four in every ten advanced. This is to say that six in every ten remained in a low-wage job, including those with a high school degree, even though they had worked steadily and full-time for an entire decade during so-called booming times.41 Workers who had gotten from one to three years of education beyond a high school degree fared no better.Read more at location 853
Note: This isn’t the complete passage, but pragmatically, we won’t be able to use this in a debate anyway. The whole argument for either side is too muddled. You’ll only really be able to say that our mobility, taking into account the number of INDIVIDUALS who actually advance, is mediocre at best and less than many other countries, several of those Europeon, with larger programs for advancement. A philosophical argument will then be needed.
However, liberty does not advertise itself as a statistical or contingent matter applicable to a certain percentage of all individuals, such as 40 percent or 50 percent. It, along with the level of opportunity it promises, is supposed to exist for every individual, or as nearly so as possible. That a significant proportion of individuals are unable to attain an adequate wage despite having above-average education and persevering over many years of full-time employment testifies to a substantial shortage of decent opportunity. That scarcity of opportunity undercuts the individual liberty of the workers ultimately shut out, who, in effect, are free to attain a minimally decent living through work only on condition that others do not attempt to exercise their freedom.44 For all the uplifting success stories, and they are rightly inspiring, there are as many or more stories of individual Americans who are steady full-time workers, who persevere over long periods of time, and yet despite everything fail to get ahead.45 Read more at location 862
Note: God and Jesus – Perhaps the highest order of highlight. This brilliant writer sidesteps statistics entirely and weilds philosophy in the face of the argument. “Freedom” is not a value we apply to 4 in 10 people. “Freedom” as a progressive conception belongs to everyone. And Freedom of oppurtunity that exists only if other don’t excercise the same freedom, isn’t real freedom at all.
I have said that wages for American workers remained generally stagnant over the period since 1970, despite the improvement that occurred in their productivity. However, if that is true, why did the standard of living rise for so many of our families, including both average and low-income families? The proportion of American families owning two or more cars nearly doubled over the period from the 1970s to the 1990s, as did the proportion with air conditioners in their home. And the proportion of the nation’s households living in crowded conditions (more than one person per room) dropped by about two-thirds.46 That the material well-being of average Americans improved while real wages faltered calls the measures of real wages into question.Read more at location 868
Note: Amazing, this author literally sees and addresses every worrysome counter argument that we had thought of. A perfect counter argument, more effectively framed than we could have thought of. The response to this alone will be key for the entire section.
The same is true in the other direction. Income can rise despite a drop in wages if workers are employed longer hours. The latter is what happened in the case of the average American household. Read more at location 881
Note: One important response is that we are working longer hours. So we are better in some respects but worse off in others, less time for leisure and family and enjoyment. Also, it is well known more women are working today than in the past decades, and this adds to household income and good purchased. It doesn’t tell us we’re being compensated better.
Average families also became smaller over the period. That allowed them to improve their real income and material well-being, per person, by still more-from 1979 to 1999 by about $8,000 yearly, after taxes, for a four-person family, approximately 20 percent.-10 American families thus worked considerably longer hours and also reduced their size. In addition, they went into increasing debt. Only in those ways could they counteract the generation-long failure of real wages to deliver a living that was reasonably in line with improvements in workers’ productivity.-‘Read more at location 887
Note: And the rebuttle. We are working longer hours, going farther into debt, and having smaller families (Largely due to working more hours.) We aren’t improving in the ways that make life worth living. We are just working more, but not earning more.
There is no better nation on earth. The preceding arguments ignore the widespread view that, even if a deficiency of economic opportunity does exist, our nation affords individuals more and better opportunity than does any other nation on earth. The truth of this belief, of course, would little serve the many millions of individuals who remain closed out and unable to find decent-paying work or to raise their level of living by improving their work. Nor does doing better than other nations relieve us from the obligation to assure provision of the level of economic opportunity for all that is appropriate to the moral reasoning of liberty. Read more at location 904
Note: Excellent way to address the red herring that we are the “best nation on earth.”
With respect to employment, individual liberty calls for greater opportunity than the level our economy has been delivering, substantially greater. The scarcities of opportunity are serious, on many different fronts. It is this truth that justifies intervention by government to redress the scarcities in the name of making individual freedom genuine, that is, in the name of making freedom moral within its own frame of reasoning, reflecting the thinking of the Founders. As Lincoln was later to observe, only freedom containing this level of opportunity could deliver hope to individuals worthy of the name freedom.-18 Read more at location 922
Note: A good summary, that meaningful freedom calls for people who are working hard and playing by the rules to have access to more prosperity than they currently are, largely due to the arguments set forth in “Price of Inequality” by Stiglitz. It reframes Freedom. What is true freedom?
The moral reasoning of liberty regards affirmative intervention by government to be legitimate if required to overcome shortages of economic opportunity inimical to freedom.Read more at location 929
Note: An argument hard to pilot, but interesting to start with.
Yet freedom’s same moral reasoning obliges government to restrain itself and use the least coercive or restrictive way known to be able to attain its objective.Read more at location 930
Note: Keep this in mind. It’s easier to debate if you agree in principle and use aikido to sort of guide them from your point of agreement to your point of Contention, instead of meeting them head on. You don’t want to actually force or coerce people more than necessary.
In order to be able to take advantage of opportunity in a modern, competitive economy and make one’s way in life through work, as well as for a number of other reasons related to liberty,’ the opportunity to gain an effective or sound basic education must be available to every person.2Read more at location 938
Note: Level 10 – Perfect word for word articulation, as I view it and agree completely, that affirms the need and right of a public school system. The basic principle of private markets is that you don’t get to buy anything from them if you can’t afford it. Education is one of those things that doesn’t fall into the realm of a luxury. Society and freedom are dependant on it. Public education is freedom, and the idea of eliminating it only because it is publicly funded divorces one from reasonable discussion and places them into the realm of an ideological whore. Also, with our new tools from Price of Inequality, we have a whole new angle to attack from, namely if you remove the only guarantee of education from those who couldn’t afford it otherwise, you only widen the disparity of opportunity between the wealthy and lower class, taking one of the few remaining resources for equality away from them, and further galvanizing the positions of the wealthy and poor. Then, extrude the societal negatives of inequality from this, including further entrenched policy, eroding democracy, less freedom, and lower demand. Finally, by removing public education, you turn a right into a luxury.
Today nearly 90 percent of students in primary and secondary education attend public schools. Read more at location 942
Note: How can anyone advocate taking away guaranteed education from 90 percent of the people?
Both the right of all individuals to the opportunity for an effective basic education and the provision of education publicly raise a number of issues having to do with coerciveness.3Read more at location 943
Note: It’s nuts, it’s exactly what I imagined Jon, Chris, and Jeremy saying in my mind. “if it’s a right, then you are in effect saying people have a right to another’s labor” Be careful to ready for this response with the following ideas.
A useful way to examine these issues is to compare the policies with some alternatives to them.Read more at location 944
Note: Awesome way to approach any argument where they are heavily armed and discretion is best.
Protecting a right of liberty, ultimately, is an obligation of all citizens. For this reason, assuring the requisite educational opportunity as a right of liberty becomes a general collective obligation of society in a scheme of individual liberty. It is not an obligation simply of particular citizens, such as those who have children or, narrower still, those whose children actually attend the public schools. Read more at location 945
Note: GOD and Jesus. Highest order of highlight. Memorize this. Perhaps top 5 most important passages ever encountered in political study. The hallmark of of the vision of the Democrat Party and the bedrock for the argument against Libertarianism. Frame for everything in the Democratic vision. The protection of the liberty you enjoy is a right but also a responsibility. One doesn’t get to merely sit back and enjoy liberty then complain when it comes time for the bill. They talk about personal responsibility. They will throw that term around even with this argument. But they don’t know what it means. They want freedom but want to take no part in paying for it. Education got them to where they are, and built the society they enjoy. They owe back what they took. Freedom is a right and a responsibility.
This is not to mention that individuals with children attending private schools as well as childless individuals often themselves benefit financially from public education, sometimes significantly so. Many such individuals received a public education when they were children. In addition, their property values are affected by the excellence of public education in their area. What is more, they share in the improvement of the general society and economy that a broadly, as opposed to narrowly, educated citizenry and workforce bring.Read more at location 952
Note: A concise summery of the argument for public education. They use “individual liberty” wrong and have no idea what “personal responsibility” actually means.
Rules often allow students and their families to choose their neighborhood school, or a magnet or charter school, all publicly financed, with the further choice (if they can afford it) of regulated private-or homeschool-education. Read more at location 973
Note: Note they aren’t required to attend just “one” school.
Can vouchers successfully attain this goal? A number of fundamental problems exist with vouchers as a solution. The essence of a private school is the right of the school to control which students it will accept and admit into the school. This involves the right to reject students and thus to reject some or all of these students. Try, now, to imagine a complete voucher system. Under a complete voucher system, all schools-public and private-would be free to admit and reject whomever they wish. In this sort of system, some students might well find no school at all that admits them or only a worse school than their own neighborhood public school, which now has the right to refuse them too.Read more at location 980
Note: Something to be considered in privatization. A person might not be left with any school who will take them. To the answer that it’s not in a businesses interest to turn a customer away, other considerations might make it indeed with it. People might pay more to send their kids to a school with no blacks, offsetting the loss in revenue from the black kids.
One obviously less coercive alternative to Social Security would be to leave the matter and the risk up to each individual, that is, to leave each individual the choice to provide for this point in his or her life through private savings or pensions. Such an alternative, though, faces the difficulty that many individuals do not have this choice. They have not enjoyed the kind of economic opportunity needed to afford them the choice. MoreRead more at location 1023
Note: The difference between ideology and reality, that actual human beings living in the world and not in textbooks often just don’t make enough, don’t understand investment, or naturally would make perfectly rational choices in the private market that are susceptible to devastating losses. Simply saying “Well don’t have kids, make better choices, invest better” is not addressing reality. If Capitalism and Freedom leave half its citizens starved and dead because they just aren’t sophisticated for it, at some point you have to say the system isn’t working for the people living in it.
Suppose those taxes on workers and their employers were eliminated from here on, allowing workers to save that money instead. Were that to happen, there could be no guarantee that the payments that employers make to Social Security would return to employees in the form of wages, enabling them to put the money away into personal savings or a private pension plan. There is no reason to believe that, once the private employment market was freed from Social Security as an employer benefit, most of that compensation would not be transferred upward, as was generally the case for all other compensation over the past three decades. Read more at location 1030
Note: And he addresses the very thing that I had wondered. “Well free up that tax and let the person use that money themselves for investment.” If Society Security is an employer based system, paid into by the employer, then we have a powerful argument for keeping it. Instead of it at least going into something that someday will benifit them, it just goes into more profit for the employer, as we have every reason to believe would happen. Taxes, Social Security
More fundamentally, the objective of Social Security is to assure individuals continued access to a socially decent minimum, based upon prior employment, during a time in their lives when there is likely to be increasingly inadequate opportunity for them in the general economy. A publicly funded program can assure this outcome; by contrast, no program of private accounts can. Read more at location 1040
Any program of private accounts will have both winners and losers. This situation occurs even in a positive stock market. And the stock market may well be far from benign.Read more at location 1042
The need to have some assured minimum given the reality that markets and investments in them can fare very badly-indeed, that indeterminate numbers of investors will lose even in markets that do well-has left the advocates of private Social Security accounts implying that the true purpose of the private accounts would be to deliver an income on top of the necessary minimum retirement benefits.Read more at location 1049
Still another alternative would be to permit each individual the possibility of opting out of Social Security beyond receiving and making the appropriate payments necessary for themselves and others to attain the minimum benefit. This alternative is worth considering.Read more at location 1053
Note: Possibly a good answer. Everyone wins, and you have the freedom to say no. But you can keep it if you want.
Why not go further, though, and give all individuals the choice of opting out of Social Security entirely for any reason, that is, the choice to decide whether to enter into the Social Security system in the first place? The Social Security system would operate with the contributions of those individuals who have decided to join. As we saw in the case of education, a problem here is that Social Security then would likely be left with inadequate resources for the redistribution necessary to finance the social minimum for workers in the lower half of the pay scale. Read more at location 1057
Note: And we would be right back to the same problem that we started with. I
Preserving individuals’ right of access to the resources needed to sustain such a living at a time of life when opportunities in the general economy are likely to become increasingly constricted for many of them, and doing so based upon their own prior employment, is a main function of Social Security. Read more at location 1067
Note: Good articulation of social security. For some people, even able bodied and healthy, beyond a certain age, they just don’t have the positive freedom, and ability, to be hired.
Honoring that right, and relating it to individuals’ labor for those who are able, is a necessary function within a society based upon freedom. On the other hand, it is difficult to identify an alternative that is capable of satisfying this function while operating in a manner that is significantly different from Social Security.Read more at location 1068
Note: Social Security is freedom in this sense. In the original condition, one was free to make ones living. That may not be true today. A society based on freedom must have people able to survive.
Unemployment nationwide had fallen to a generation low. In 1997, it dropped to below 5 percent for the first time in more than two decades. Not since the early years of the 1970s had that happened.Read more at location 1099
Note: Under Clinton, another accolade for his Economy.
That thinking is embedded in the vision of many of the Founders and reflected in the transcendent words opening the Declaration of Independence and other similar documents giving birth to the nation. The obligations are substantial ones. Among other things, they call for the assurance of sufficient economic opportunity enabling individuals to attain a dignified economic standard of living by way of their efforts, through choices of openings and positions adequate enough to address issues of dependency.Read more at location 1179
Note: Liberal values that Libertarianism doesn’t address.
Friedman’s justification for a guaranteed minimum income for all is that poverty is in essence a public good-that is, a market failure-and thus an area that is appropriate for government to address. It is a public good, he says, because everyone benefits from the elimination of poverty and gains that benefit even if others pay the cost, say, through charity. He argues: “I am distressed by the sight of poverty; I am benefited by its alleviation; but I am benefited equally whether I or someone else pays for its alleviation; the benefits of other people’s charity therefore partly accrue to me” (p. 191). Yet surely not everyone shares this distress about poverty, say, if poverty is the result of laziness or irresponsibility. Despite that, everyone is compelled to pay for the alleviation of poverty if the means for that alleviation come through government and taxation. Read more at location 2720
Note: Stunning and Brilliant – And possibly one of the most important passages we’ve read in any book ever. Using this Structure, there is no argument we cannot address through this lens, articulating the Democratic vision. In a single swipe, this articulation, married with Kuttner’s, demonstrates that anything not captured by Market Signals can be subject to civil improvement. See Notes for further illunination.
Some data suggest that greater inequality actually lessens economic growth. See, for example, a review of evidence in “For Richer, for Poorer,” Economist, November 5, 1994, pp. 19-21. For a general review of research, see Philippe Aghion et al., “Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories,” Journal of Economic Literature 37 (December 1999), pp. 1615-60. Read more at location 2729
Economist Gary Becker (“The Age of Human Capital,” in Edward P. Lazear, ed., Education in the Twenty-first Century [Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 2001], p. 3) estimates that human capital (the education, skills, information, and ideas of workers), as opposed to items such as factories and machinery, amounts to more than 70 percent of total productive capital in today’s economy. Over the past half century in manufacturing, in line with Becker’s estimate, the productivity of workers has far outpaced the productivity growth that can be attributed to capital and other factors. Read more at location 2822
Note: God – A seminal point in Democratic politics, and justification for a need for government to to facilitate freedom of oppurtunity through education, as well as justificaiton for funding of research and technology. For someone like Chris, “Growth” is the most important value. “Things” like machines and factories are only secondary in the roduction of growth. Education, and the investment of human capital, is the most important thing. Everything that was built was built by a person who was taught how to do it. Knowledge is antecedent to production. In that regard, these is no way that Education is not a public good, in the sense that it benifits everyone. Every penny made by someone in todays modern economy was made possible by the growth previous to it. The Economy that we enjoy wealth creation in, is predicated on an educated workforce, society, and human capital. Growth, Freedom, and the well-being of a society are first and foremost attributed to the ability of the people. Funding an education isn’t taking money from you to give to them. It’s making the Economy you enjoy possible. It’s a broader view that the narrow sighted vision of the conservative or Libertarian view that “taxes are stealing from me.” You wouldn’t have the taxes to being with if the economy hadn’t existed for you to earn in. And in this regard, the Democratic vision of progressive freedom, the freedom of empowerment, can be framed through this.
An improvement in performance averaging merely 1.1 percent annually per worker, coming simply as a result of workers’ own added experience and knowledge on the job over a year, would by itself account for about 70 percent of the total growth that took place in workers’ productivity from 1973 to 2001 in the general economy. Read more at location 2826
Note: The importance of education just keeps coming.
How well have American workers fared since the early 1970s? Between 1973 and 2001, the productivity of American workers grew by about 54 percent, whereas real compensation for the median worker-the worker exactly in the middle-rose by 8 percent (see Mishel et al., State of Working America, 2002-03, p. 155, fig. 2L). Half (the portion labor contributes apart from capital) of that productivity improvement comes to 27 percent, or 19 percent greater than the 8 percent actual rise in real compensation to the median worker from 1973 to 2001. How much is that worth? In 2001, the wage ($12.87) and benefit ($3.82) for the median worker was $16.69 per hour (see Mishel et al., State of WorkingAmerica, 2002-03, p. 126, table 2.6, for wages, and p. 118, table 2.2, for benefits). Had compensation been 19 percent higher, in line with the contribution of workers’ improved productivity, it would have amounted in 2001 to approximately $3.17 per hour, or $6,400 more per year for a full-time worker. Read more at location 2829
Note: Very good passage on worker contribution and how wages have not kept up with them.