July 30 Merriam-Webster word of the day.


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Justin
July 30, 2005, 12:52 PM
Via Reason online's Hit & Run Blog.

July 30 Word of the day is laissez-faire (http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/mwwodarch.pl?Jul.30).

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Silver Bullet
July 30, 2005, 12:54 PM
Seems ironic that the word is of French derivation. YMMV.

Justin
July 30, 2005, 01:04 PM
My guess is that the term was probably either coined or popularized by Frédéric Bastiat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederic_Bastiat) who, despite being French, was a brilliant economic thinker.

beerslurpy
July 30, 2005, 01:21 PM
Oh I think you mean this Frederic Bastiat (http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html).

I highly recommend clicking on my link and reading it completely. Its just a pamphlet, but probably the best one you will EVER read.

CAnnoneer
July 30, 2005, 02:09 PM
Laissez-faire can never fly in a real society, because by its nature it would lead to the competent pulling way ahead of the pack. This process is autocatalytic, resulting in "inequalities" spinning out of control. Then the majority would use numbers to enforce redistribution, which if successful will end the laissez-faire.

The only way for a laissez-faire government to try to sustain the system is to get tougher on the "revolutionaries", but since they are the majority, this means a police state. A police state ironically kills laissez-faire from within the government because it would require surveillance and big gov, as well as naturally produce leaders that would abuse the power of big gov for their personal benefit. Thus laissez-faire cannot be sustained.

The current system is in a sense a social contract where the government plays the role of the redistributor through social programs. Those take the edge off the revolutionary rhetoric while simultaneously grinding with conservatives. The political pendulum swings left and right depending on who is in power, but the midpoint in principle remains constant. So long as the system is economically productive enough, sufficient redistribution is possible without major shocks to either side.

However, the system is getting increasingly unstable with the gradual disappearance of the middle class. As the contract is weakened and rhetoric on both sides gets more vicious, each extreme slowly wakes to the realization that past compromise is increasingly untenable.

Silver Bullet
July 30, 2005, 02:29 PM
Then the majority would use numbers to enforce redistribution, which if successful will end the laissez-faire.
Exactly why we have a republic and not a democracy.

Standing Wolf
July 30, 2005, 10:27 PM
...the system is getting increasingly unstable with the gradual disappearance of the middle class. As the contract is weakened and rhetoric on both sides gets more vicious, each extreme slowly wakes to the realization that past compromise is increasingly untenable.

Well said!

DRZinn
July 31, 2005, 08:41 PM
The only way for a laissez-faire government to try to sustain the system is to get tougher on the "revolutionaries", but since they are the majority, this means a police state.The laissez-faire government has only to tell the revolutionaries "NO. We will not steal to provide you what you have not earned," and allow those who earn the wealth to protect it.

There is no magical "right" amount of socialism that'll make everything OK and be just enough to keep everyone happy.

Ky Larry
August 1, 2005, 04:14 PM
The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectful. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.
My feelings, excactly.

Chrontius
August 1, 2005, 06:50 PM
The laissez-faire government has only to tell the revolutionaries "NO. We will not steal to provide you what you have not earned," and allow those who earn the wealth to protect it.

My polysci friend is convinced this is how World War 3 is going to start, and his professor agreed, with a 98/100 (iirc, the raw grade was 98 or 99, minus ten poitns for a day late)

It sounds a lot like "let them eat cake" to me. The wealthy in a lassiez-faire system would be perfectly within their rights to monopolize the resources the poor need to survive, such as buying up all the farmland, and using it to produce cash crops for export, accelerating their buying up of productive resources. I don't want to come off sounding like a marxist, but I'm afraid I do. Capitalism is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can kill you.

CAnnoneer
August 1, 2005, 11:03 PM
QUOTE: The laissez-faire government has only to tell the revolutionaries "NO. We will not steal to provide you what you have not earned," and allow those who earn the wealth to protect it.

It would be shortsighted to assume that the revolutionaries are just lazy bums living on welfare. With the disappearance of the middle class, more and more of the working class will fall deeper into poverty or into marginal hand-to-mouth existence. The shocks inherent in capitalism would mean dangerous fluctuations in already marginal existence.

Simultaneously, the current swing towards religious right is a temporary aberration and a final shout before the imminent and complete collapse of religion as a stabilizer and social glue. That collapse will be helped by technological advancements, especially in biology and medicine, but the more important factors will be economical and especially political.

The political factor will be that the plutocratic demagogues on top are going to destroy the very illusions upon which they base their current political power, through their own corruption, amorality, and unbridled greed. It is inevitable that administrations will be rocked by more and more vicious scandals that will produce the final disillusionment among the many that support the neocons based on "shared values". When they realize that they do not really share any values with the decadent self-indulgent shameless egocentric plutocrats, the backlash will be horrendous.

The economic factor will be the ongoing globilization of markets and trade agreements that favor that globilization by removing national barriers. As a result, the US working class will experience increasingly vicious global competition and will observe an ever decreasing standard of living and relative buying power. That in itself might be rationalized, but not when compared with the overt excesses of their own national ruling class. Ergo the connection above.

Finally, the leftifascists will happily jump at the opportunity to explain the world in Marxist terms and feed upon the anguish, anger, envy, and fears of the majority. I think in that respect it is ominous how much more say closet leftifascists have gained within the Democratic party since 2000...

QUOTE:There is no magical "right" amount of socialism that'll make everything OK and be just enough to keep everyone happy.

Certainly not forever. But crises can be postponed, avoided, and/or greatly blunted by sagacious leadership and greater awareness. Rabid unbridled greed, abject hypocrisy, outright stupidity, gross incompetence, and mediocre demagogy only sharpen and hasten the impending cataclysm...

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