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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    On point 1) at least, you are wrong. I am saying nothing about a "goods state." Somebody else (Oswy) said something about wealthy states being those that have large governments. The sources I provided supply research that contradicts that claim: Wealth creation seems to fall as government grows.
    When then it falls to point ii) which still stands. Why is a 'large government' defined by the proportional share of the GDP rather than absolute spending? I agree with Oswy that most wealthy countries do have a complex system of government and most likely wouldn't have that wealth if they existed in a minarchist state.
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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    Not really. The Scope of Government and the Wealth of Nations

    Another paper, "What is the Optimal Size of Government?" finds most governments, including ours, to be too big, damaging growth.

    Perhaps, but not necessarily. Further, it surely counts for something if one cannot even concieve of a government existing that would not violate rights.

    Can I see your sources, please?
    The advance of industrial and urban societies has seen a corresponding growth in government, historically and geographically. Point to the societies which are centres of industry, technological advance, manufacturing and services and you'll be pointing to socieies which have substantial government of some kind or other. Theoretical discussion of 'optimal' government size is neither here nor there, nor is the highlighting of short term trends where big government is an established fact. The overwhelming historical evidence is that the industrial revolution brought with it a corresponding growth in government and the most economically powerful centres of the world right now are those with a substantial government role. You might want to argue about why there is such a correlation but the correlation is undeniable.
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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    On point 1) at least, you are wrong. I am saying nothing about a "goods state." Somebody else (Oswy) said something about wealthy states being those that have large governments. The sources I provided supply research that contradicts that claim: Wealth creation seems to fall as government grows.
    It might be that wealth creation does fall as government grows beyond a certain relative size but that's not quite evidence that government, nor even big government, is counter to wealth creation. By all means offer an argument that governments of a certain scale may stifle their societies' functioning but don't make the mistake of thinking such an argument is against government per se. By analogy, that the over-watering of a plant may be detrimental to its health isn't in any way an argument that plants don't need water, they do and many plants need plenty of watering even if it is, ultimately, possible to drown them.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    It might be that wealth creation does fall as government grows beyond a certain relative size but that's not quite evidence that government, nor even big government, is counter to wealth creation. By all means offer an argument that governments of a certain scale may stifle their societies' functioning but don't make the mistake of thinking such an argument is against government per se. By analogy, that the over-watering of a plant may be detrimental to its health isn't in any way an argument that plants don't need water, they do and many plants need plenty of watering even if it is, ultimately, possible to drown them.
    But I didn't make the claim you attribute to me. All I did was respond to your claim that wealthy societies are those that have large and extensive governments. I think that the fact that there is no function of government that you could name that there has not been demand for that has been supplied by the private sector at some time in history is what counts against your claim that government is necessary.

    I would also wonder to what extent, though, you think that if something is necessary, it is therefore just.
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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    ... your claim that government is necessary.

    ...
    But I didn't make the claim you attribute to me. My claim is that historically and geographically we see a strong correlation between industrial, urban and technologically advancing societies where the material standard of life is (relatively) high - and substantial government. Whatever the libertarian arguments may be in their books and articles we consistently see as concrete observable fact that industrial, technological and otherwise wealthy societies are invariably those which have generated government at the same time. Moreover there simply are no actually existing counter-examples of any scale, let alone on that of, say, the western European states, the USA, Japan or China, which demonstrate the appeal or success of libertarianism.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    But I didn't make the claim you attribute to me. My claim is that historically and geographically we see a strong correlation between industrial, urban and technologically advancing societies where the material standard of life is (relatively) high - and substantial government. Whatever the libertarian arguments may be in their books and articles we consistently see as concrete observable fact that industrial, technological and otherwise wealthy societies are invariably those which have generated government at the same time. Moreover there simply are no actually existing counter-examples of any scale, let alone on that of, say, the western European states, the USA, Japan or China, which demonstrate the appeal or success of libertarianism.

    Except that those Western European States, and the US, became the leading industrial nations they are, after government controls were wound back, and concerted efforts were made to keep them that way. Just as China seems to be experiencing now.
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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    Except that those Western European States, and the US, became the leading industrial nations they are, after government controls were wound back, and concerted efforts were made to keep them that way. Just as China seems to be experiencing now.
    You at least now seem to be accepting that there's a matter-of-fact correlation between advancing societies (past and present) and the generation of substantial government. Sure, it would seem entirely reasonable that government growth reaches a ceiling and is thus subject to political tussles, but the point here is that, at face-value, government appears to have been an inevitable element in the processes which render societies 'leading industrial nations'. Moreover, the winding back you speak of can only happen when government of a certain scale has actually been generated. The reflective libertarian should be just as interested in why leading nations seem always to have substantial governments as they are in promoting the virtues of government-free societies.

    EDIT: And, as I've already suggested, that government scale and involvement in their societies is periodically 'wound back' (often modestly it should be added) isn't actually evidence that the absence of government, or even small government, is a good (i.e. viable) thing, any more than the potential over-watering of a plant is evidence that a plant shouldn't receive any water or should receive very little.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    You at least now seem to be accepting that there's a matter-of-fact correlation between advancing societies (past and present) and the generation of substantial government.
    I do no such thing: The UK became an industrial superpower as a result of rolling back government. There is a correlation between advancing societies and good government, that being one that is relatively accountable, where political actors can be punished or removed, and constrained by a rule of law. There is no correlation between an advancing society and big government, though.
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    For once the Marxists outnumber the libertarians.
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    (Original post by Richard_A_Garner)
    ... There is no correlation between an advancing society and big government, though.
    As far as I'm concerned the governments of the western European states, the USA, Japan, China, these are all 'big' government societies by any reasonable standard. Where are the actual libertarian utopias by comparison?
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    As far as I'm concerned the governments of the western European states, the USA, Japan, China, these are all 'big' government societies by any reasonable standard. Where are the actual libertarian utopias by comparison?
    First, how is China an advanced society?

    Second, since there are no small government societies anywhere if you class, eg. the US as big (HK? S'pore?), it doesn't demonstrate an awful lot that these non-existant societies aren't doing better. Since small government correlates with advancement, though, there is a strong prima facie case for the hypothesis that small government results in advancement, a case that is strengthened by the fact that, when there were true 'small government' societies (19th C Britain and America, for instance), they were the most advanced countries of their day, too.

    (Original post by tomeheppy)
    For once the Marxists outnumber the libertarians.
    I don't think Capt Crash is a Marxist, so are you counting yourself here? If so, how can you also claim to be a Rawlsian?
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    (Original post by Collingwood)
    First, how is China an advanced society?

    Second, since there are no small government societies anywhere if you class, eg. the US as big (HK? S'pore?), it doesn't demonstrate an awful lot that these non-existant societies aren't doing better. Since small government correlates with advancement, though, there is a strong prima facie case for the hypothesis that small government results in advancement, a case that is strengthened by the fact that, when there were true 'small government' societies (19th C Britain and America, for instance), they were the most advanced countries of their day, too.
    Heh, the libertarian will confront everything but the facts it seems. It is entirely reasonable, on the historical evidence and the contemporary geographical evidence, to claim that industrial, technological and urban societies, the kind that you and I live in, have consistently grown concomitant with government. Do you really believe that nineteenth century Britain and America were more technologically advanced and had higher standards of living than now? In reality, for whatever reasons, governments have grown in such societies as they have advanced technologically and economically. Of course, there are no substantially libertarian societies in the modern world for you to draw on as shining example of your cause, which is funny because if the libertarians were to be believed we'd all be flocking to create, or live in, them.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    As far as I'm concerned the governments of the western European states, the USA, Japan, China, these are all 'big' government societies by any reasonable standard. Where are the actual libertarian utopias by comparison?
    Have you been to China? It is many things, but an egalitarian utopia is not one of them.
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    (Original post by sconzey)
    Have you been to China? It is many things, but an egalitarian utopia is not one of them.
    I haven't claimed any of these societies were egalitarian utopias, I'm identifying the plain fact: that large-scale urban societies that have emerged through technological advance and industrialisation, and which have generally seen a marked improvement in the standard of living alongside, have also been societies of substantial government. Make what you will of the correlation, the fact remains that societies which have so advanced, or are advancing (i.e. China) are not libertarian societies of minimum or zero government or anything close.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Heh, the libertarian will confront everything but the facts it seems. It is entirely reasonable, on the historical evidence and the contemporary geographical evidence, to claim that industrial, technological and urban societies, the kind that you and I live in, have consistently grown concomitant with government. Do you really believe that nineteenth century Britain and America were more technologically advanced and had higher standards of living than now? In reality, for whatever reasons, governments have grown in such societies as they have advanced technologically and economically. Of course, there are no substantially libertarian societies in the modern world for you to draw on as shining example of your cause, which is funny because if the libertarians were to be believed we'd all be flocking to create, or live in, them.
    Sure; it's hard to deny that as a historical trend the share of GDP taken by government has increased. But the reams and reams of evidence that show smaller governments and more economic freedom enhance economic growth put paid to the idea (which is implied but never outright stated in your posts) that there is some kind of causal relationship between governments and higher growth; if anything, it is the other way around:






    Also, ironically, the fact which you are pointing out vindicates the libertarian theory of the state. The state is, in effect, a group of robber barrons writ large, a kind of giant parasite feeding off of the productive activity of a society. It stands to reason, therefore, that the richer the society, the bigger a parasitic class it can afford to support; a society of peasant farmers living at subsidence levels will not be able to fund the kind of vast apparatus of civil servants, politicians, administrators, managers, functionaries, etc which the modern state entails.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    I haven't claimed any of these societies were egalitarian utopias, I'm identifying the plain fact: that large-scale urban societies that have emerged through technological advance and industrialisation, and which have generally seen a marked improvement in the standard of living alongside, have also been societies of substantial government. Make what you will of the correlation, the fact remains that societies which have so advanced, or are advancing (i.e. China) are not libertarian societies of minimum or zero government or anything close.
    This is why the Historical School of Economics is one of the worst ever devised. You know, to evaluate economic policy, you actually need to look at economics and not at history. History is largely irrelevant in this field. In fact, History is really quite unimportant in terms of policy (although it is quite necessary culturally, in this way it is similar to Literature)(in terms of fields of study.)
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    (Original post by Bagration)
    ..History is largely irrelevant in this field...
    Yeah, when the actual historical development of human societies doesn't fit your ideals, retreat into the much safer theory, lol
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Yeah, when the actual historical development of human societies doesn't fit your ideals, retreat into the much safer theory, lol
    I've just been reading Popper on Marxism, and I have to say I find this pretty, pretty amusing. There is probably no better example of a degenerating research program than the Marxist theory of history; it is falsified, a new ad hoc hypothesis is added in order to make it consistent with reality, the new theory is falsified, etc etc. At no point do the modifications provide new, correct predictions - their 'predictive' power is entirely backwards looking, managing to predict only those events which have already happened.
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    R squared = 0.42 ..... lol
    (Original post by DrunkHamster)

    Why assume that small government = small proportion of GDP? A minimalist government in an impoverished country may very well spend more as a percentage of GDP than a reasonably 'big' government in a rich western country.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Heh, the libertarian will confront everything but the facts it seems. It is entirely reasonable, on the historical evidence and the contemporary geographical evidence, to claim that industrial, technological and urban societies, the kind that you and I live in, have consistently grown concomitant with government.
    ...is it? Was British government more, or less, powerful in 1850 than it was in 1550? Was Chinese government more, or less, powerful in 1960 than it is today? Was Russian government more, or less, powerful in 1910 than in 1850 (when 1/3 of the population were state slaves)? The beginnings of industrial development have everywhere been preceded by a decline in government power. Libertarians aren't ignoring 'evidence', we're disagreeing with your incorrect presumptions on the course of history that seem to be built on nothing more than an assumption of the correctness of Marxist historicism.

    Do you really believe that nineteenth century Britain and America were more technologically advanced and had higher standards of living than now? In reality, for whatever reasons, governments have grown in such societies as they have advanced technologically and economically. Of course, there are no substantially libertarian societies in the modern world for you to draw on as shining example of your cause, which is funny because if the libertarians were to be believed we'd all be flocking to create, or live in, them.
    I don't think anyone would disagree that in some countries, some of the time "for whatever reasons, governments have grown in such societies as they have advanced technologically and economically". It is true of Britain from 1900 to about 1980, but not of North Korea, Hong Kong or India. As such, the weasel words "for whatever reasons" become very important. If you're not claiming a causal link then fine, but you're really not arguing anything at all in that case. If you are, you have to show more than an (incorrect) correlation.
 
 
 
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