[ExI] Slavery Now and in the Past

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Sat Apr 19 07:25:29 UTC 2008

On Apr 15, 2008, at 7:26 AM, Kevin Freels wrote:

> Olga Bourlin wrote:
>> From: "Rafal Smigrodzki" <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com>
>> To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
>>>> On Sat, Apr 12, 2008 at 7:16 PM, Olga Bourlin  
>>>> <fauxever at sprynet.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> (in answer to a previous post of Lee Corbin's)  Your remark about
>>>> "institutions dead nearly 150 years ago" does not take into  
>>>> account de
>>>> jure segregation that existed in parts of the USA into the   
>>>> 1960s, and
>>>> many instances of de facto segregation since then.  Those   
>>>> institutions
>>>> are interrelated - and not all dead.
> Of course the question we are really trying to answer is whether a  
> totally free market will always be superior to a market that is  
> managed and manipulated by government. If we were just talking about  
> the past, then it would be obvious that government regulation is  
> necessary.

Not really.

> Without labor laws, people were working for pennies - or even as  
> slaves.

False.  Without physical compulsion people will not agree to sell  
their labor on such terms.  Slavery requires physical compulsion by  

> Without the FDA, companies were free to market any kind of snake oil  
> they could.

They can't without utterly ruining their reputation and losing their  
market share.  Big money is not made by fly-by-night criminal  
operators who defraud and harm people.

> The free market didn't build the interstate highway system we all  
> enjoy and I doubt it would have been built without government  
> intervention.

Supposition.  Many of our roads and bridges were built privately.

> And without compulsory education there is no telling where we would  
> be at the moment but I am sure evolution would be taught even less.

Before compulsory education and the public school system as we know it  
in the US America was often remarked on as a tremendously literate  
society.   Now we have a literacy rate below 80%.   So I am not  
impressed by this argument.

> Most of the large bloated bureaucracies were created in response to  
> the shortcomings of the free market.

No.  They were created with supposed shortcomings as an excuse.  Often  
the "shortcomings" were actually the result of previous government  
meddling including creating government sanctioned monopolies.   The  
victors (government largely) write the history.

> But we're not talking about the past. We're talking about the future.

We are talking about both.

> In the past, if someone was using a cheap process to create a toy  
> which left lead in the paint that could harm children, there was no  
> way to quickly prove it and notify people.

Yes we can monitor better but not necessarily prove increasingly  
complex points more cheaply or quickly.

> If an employer wanted to pay pennies the people couldn't hop on the  
> internet and find a job in another city that paid twice as much  
> because they wanted better people.

Before the internet word did get out of employers and areas offering  
better opportunities.   Freedom to choose, principally property rights  
to ones own person and labor, allowed and will allow taking advantage  
of better opportunities.

> The free flow of information offsets most - if not all - of the  
> benefits of the bureaucratic systems that are in place.

The free flow of information was produced mostly by private citizens  
and companies with a vision of what could be.  It was largely the work  
of very dedicated hackers and visionaries with the freedom to act and  
to profit.  It largely happened because it moved fast enough to not  
get regulated to death in infancy.  All the bureaucracy in the world  
would not have achieved it.

> A free market can only work when there is a free and rapid flow of  
> information.

A free market can only work in an environment of freedom.  How rapid  
the information flows is a function of technological means and is not  
determinative of whether free markets work, at least better than  
relatively non-free ones, or not.

> Consumer Reports is a service I subscribe to and it is much more  
> effective than the consumer product safety commission could ever  
> hope to be and I'm sure you can figure out all the reasons why.

Yes.  A free association of people.

> My point is that it's probably a waste of time debating the free  
> market of the past as there are significant differences today.

Those who do not understand the lessons of history are doomed to  
repeat them.

> What we should be focusing on is how we can utilize these  
> technologies today to create a more efficient system than exists now.

Efficiency per se is a non-goal.   We could build an extremely  
efficient and utterly oppressive police state.   We seem to be headed  
in that direction.

- samantha

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