[ExI] Private and government R&D

Max More max at maxmore.com
Wed Jul 22 23:27:25 UTC 2009

Damien Broderick wrote:
>The question is, do
>corporations and the rich ever "squash" powerless people, not do
>governments do so. If you've ever tried to get your due from an
>insurance company, the answer will come to you.

Actually, no, it won't. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience, 
Damien. Private companies sometimes (too often) do crappy things. But 
it's just not right to react to one personal instance to damn 
companies in general. Some companies understand that making things 
difficult for customers is really a bad idea (in competitive 
markets). An example of this is Progressive Insurance. There are many 
sources you can look up on this, but here's one that I recently reviewed:

Reframing Your Business Equation

If you want to trade personal stories, I can relate the case of a 
friend of mine who lost everything in his apartment thanks to his 
girlfriend falling asleep without extinguishing a cigarette. Sounds 
like ground for denying a claim, right? He ended up badly burned over 
most of his body. He said the whole disaster was made much easier by 
the speed with which the insurance company (I wish I knew which one) 
paid out and helped him through dealing with the bills.

Does this mean all insurance companies are saints. Of course not. 
Neither does your example show the opposite. You will no doubt deny 
that this is what you suggested, but that's not what I get from "If 
you've ever tried to get your due from an insurance company, the 
answer will come to you."

I do agree that that it's pointless to set up a binary opposition 
between private businesses and government when it comes to abuse. 
However, I have to agree with those who point to the latter as by far 
the bigger problem. That includes business in cahoots with government 
-- which is what libertarians and almost-libertarians oppose. A more 
interesting question is whether it is practically possible to move 
from the current mixed-economy to a complete separation of business 
and government. When Bill derides libertarianism as "fictional", he's 
being unhelpful if he's simply saying that it's an ideal that has 
never been realized. He has a more useful point if he's saying 
(though without any support) that it's an ideal that *cannot be realized.

Related to this, Dan says that in a polycentric legal system, costs 
of litigation cannot be redistributed to others. So we should expect 
minimal problems from big companies suing individuals to shut them 
up. Dan: You don't actually show why this would be the case. I'd like 
to be convinced (and I do have quite a bit of familiarity with 
polycentrism), but I'm not.


Max More, Ph.D.
Strategic Philosopher
Extropy Institute Founder
max at maxmore.com

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