Friday, December 10, 2010

The Worst People on Campus Are Those Who Don't Understand Economics But Write About It Anyway

This is from an editorial in the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin, titled "The Worst People on Campus":

"Wisconsin had 5,800 student tickets to sell. They went up for purchase on uwbadgers.com at 9 p.m. Sunday and were sold out by 9:20 p.m. The 33 students named above (Note: their names were later removed) had the nerve to put their Rose Bowl tickets up for sale on Facebook Marketplace within two hours of tickets selling out. Face value was $150. Some were trying to get the tickets for more than $400 a pop.

Truly, there is a special place in Hell for people who buy Rose Bowl tickets with the sole intention of profiting from them. It is entirely unfair to those who actually love this football team and were counting on a cheap face value ticket in order to make the trip to Pasadena an economic reality."

This response is from ESPN sports writer Jemele Hill (and MSU grad) in her article titled "No Shame in Selling Wisconsin Tickets":

"If there's a special place in hell for someone who re-sells a ticket to a sporting event for more than face value, then hell is going to have an extensive waiting list. And I'd be on it. 

Admittedly, selling tickets for more than face value is a contentious issue among fans, but these sales are as ingrained in sports culture as hot dogs and beer.  If Wisconsin wanted to undermine this capitalistic ticket culture, all the athletic department had to do -- and The Badger Herald pointed this out -- was require that the students pick up their tickets in person at the Rose Bowl. But since there is no such requirement, what the students do with their tickets is fair game. 

Had Michigan State gone to the Rose Bowl this season, I couldn't imagine selling my Rose Bowl ticket if I were a student. Not even if I were offered double the price. But if you tripled it, I'd have to think about it." 

MP: I'm with Jemele on this one,  and I'm suspicious that she might have even taken Principles of Economics at MSU, whereas I predict Wisconsin editor-in-chief Kevin Bargnes (who wrote the editorial) hasn't yet been exposed to price theory?

54 Comments:

At 12/10/2010 12:33 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Man is not only a rational, economic creature, but also a social animal.

Scalping should be legal--it is annoying to have the state intrude. The less laws the better.

Still, a college football game, and eager student-fans on budgets etc. Scalping smells bad. The scalpers will make money, but no friends.

 
At 12/10/2010 12:57 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Obviously 'Kevin Bargnes' also hasn't been exposed to reality too...

 
At 12/10/2010 1:17 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Couldn't a large number of people consider scalping immoral or unethical? When I try to present a positive economic argument here someone invariably brings up a normative one. How is this any different?

 
At 12/10/2010 1:25 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Walt G what's 'normative' about what some people telling other people what they can or can't do with their personal property?

 
At 12/10/2010 1:38 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

It could easily be considered unethical or immoral by some people. I'm fine with the economic price theory myself, but I am also fine with interest group political theory. As some people have noted, I am not big on ethical or moral arguments :)

 
At 12/10/2010 1:44 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"It could easily be considered unethical or immoral by some people"...

True Walt G but do these people actually count for anything?

"As some people have noted, I am not big on ethical or moral arguments"...

No! Not you Walt G, surely they jest!...:-)

 
At 12/10/2010 1:55 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Economic and morality are two distinctly different things. Obviously, the author wasn't talking economics, he was talking about immorality! . . . So here we go again: Is it always morally "FAIR" that he with the most money should always get all the goods, or, should all citizens in a democratic, fair, and just society - which ours is supposed to be - get a. equal crack at some things? . . . We know how you libertarians feel . . dog eat dog. Others feel our civilization has a higher calling.

 
At 12/10/2010 1:59 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Is it always morally "FAIR" that he with the most money should always get all the goods, or, should all citizens in a democratic, fair, and just society - which ours is supposed to be - get a. equal crack at some things?"...

Really?!?!

What part of the Constitution did that part show up in?

Is it in the Bill of Rights somewhere?

 
At 12/10/2010 2:22 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Michael,

I did not get an equal chance to buy Wisconsin student tickets. Was it fair or moral that they were limited to students?

 
At 12/10/2010 3:48 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Ha! interesting points, juandos and Walt!

Our Declaration of Independence outlines our common beliefs and values and has a lot to say about equity and liberty. The preamble of the Constitution speaks to justice and general welfare. Over two centuries of subsequent traditions, numerous laws, and Supreme Court decisions reflect a consensus for a society that is as democratic, fair, equitable as possible. The Constitution is the skeletal organizational chart, not the sum total of who we are.

Universities exist to serve their students. Since we aren't students, Walt and I don't qualify for "student tickets". We don't belong to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences either, so we probably won't be offered tickets to the Academy Awards ceremony. . . . Watch. It will turn out that Walt does belong. Ha!

 
At 12/10/2010 5:09 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Michael,

Since I don't qualify for student tickets, it would not be fair if I can't buy them on a secondary market using my choice and my money.

"Universities exist to serve their students." Do you suppose that a publically funded university should limit tickets sales to students? Aren't we actually the owners?

 
At 12/10/2010 9:35 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Shame they took the names off. The scalpers deserve anything that comes their way.



"If there's a special place in hell for someone who re-sells a ticket to a sporting event for more than face value, then hell is going to have an extensive waiting list. And I'd be on it."

Hell would simply be extended to accommodate them. Somewhere where they get tickets early, but they just can't seem to unload the tickets or use them.

 
At 12/10/2010 9:56 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

The list is still available, somewhere else. Yes, I've saved it to make sure it doesn't get disappeared.

 
At 12/11/2010 9:06 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Just to answer your question, Walt:
Yes, universities have two(2) kinds of athletic event tickets: student tickets and tickets for the general public. You and I get a fair shot at those for the general public. But another block of tickets are reserved for students, understandably, at a lower price. It was these student tickets that people felt should not be taken from students and sold to the highest bidders.

Yes, we do own the Universities. But they exist to serve our students, not to entertain us. We also own the White House, and the CIA, but you and I can't walk in to those facilities at will just because we're paying the bill.

 
At 12/11/2010 9:53 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Michael,

If a student can buy both general public tickets and student tickets, is that fair? It certainly does not give you an equal chance of purchasing tickets. Shouldn't students be limited to student tickets only? Also, why should students get lower-priced tickets to an event at a public building: Is that fair?

As far as the White House, CIA . . . , I probably have the same chance to visit as a student from Wisconsin. In that case, I will call that fair.

 
At 12/11/2010 10:21 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

i don't see the argument that you are making.

you keep saying "some people might consider it unethical".

what is not an argument. some people might consider it the height of morality too. so what?

why would it be unethical? you have provided no actual argument nor even a structure for normative conflict, just a vague statement about what some people might think.

i also think your argument about "is it ethical to sell only to Wisconsin students" is flawed to the point is irrelevance.

such tickets are the property of the school's athletic program. they can sell them to whom they wish and under such conditions as they choose and are mutually agreed to by the buyer.
once it is the property of the student, they may do likewise.

that is how private property works underpinned by the our rights and freedoms which may not be legally nor ethically violated. there is no normative conflict here. this is about the right to self determination and sanctity of property.


an artist may choose to sell a work to a friend and never offer it to the public even if some of them might pay more. is that unethical? no. it's a free choice made by an individual seller. why do they have any obligation to offer it to you?

why is a football ticket any different?

your argument about "us being the owners" is just foolish. does that mean we should all be able to wander into public housing units if we choose or purchase them at the low prices offered to a few people who likely did not pay the taxes that built them?

can i come use the GM cafeteria and recreation facilities because i am the "owner"? hell, can i even get a job there without paying a union in spite of being an "owner"?

of course not. not any more than i can buy a million share of cisco and then demand to use the corporate jet.

can i use the mayor's office for meetings or demand to park in the staff lot at a public hospital?

extended to any kind of logical conclusion, your policy of "everyone gets access to anything funded publicly" rapidly becomes farce.

a great many things that are not "public property" are funded with public money.

Wisconsin university is a corporation all its own. once you give it the money, the money is not "the peoples" any more than the money you pay out in unemployment is. further, the athletic associations of such universities are often separate entities all their own. they are generally self supporting or throw off a surplus at schools with such successful programs.

also: why do you assume there were no other tickets for sale? there were 5800 tickets sold to wisconsin students. i'm willing to bet that the venue for the rose bowl is 10 times that size.

 
At 12/11/2010 10:36 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Is it always morally "FAIR" that he with the most money should always get all the goods, or, should all citizens in a democratic, fair, and just society - which ours is supposed to be - get a. equal crack at some things? . . . We know how you libertarians feel . . dog eat dog. Others feel our civilization has a higher calling."

this is not an argument at all. it's just posturing.

do you believe that individuals have a right to self determination and to private property?

equal rights and opportunity are not the same as equal outcomes.

if you work hard and i do not, why am i entitled to the fruits of your labor?

what is the ethical basis for your idea that others are entitled to the fruits of my labor? how do you square that with self determination and a right to property?

i will bet you that you cannot without resorting to functional "common good" arguments which violate rights that can be easily defeated by demonstrating how much richer our capitalist poor are then the socialist poor in europe despite greater income inequalities in the US. this is further bolstered by our high class mobility compared to the rigidity of the socialist systems.

how is it a "high calling" to make everyone poorer while stratifying social classes?

 
At 12/11/2010 10:52 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

GM was funded by government money.

as an owner, should i get to participate in your pension plan or get your employee discounts to buy cars or use the cafeteria or recreational facilities? should i be able to buy your health plan?

your argument is ridiculous.

you might as well demand to park in the employee lot at a public hospital.

the university of wisconsin is an independent corporation, just as GM is.

private actors may choose to sell their property to whom they choose and under such terms as they like and to which the buyer agrees.

that is the height of ethics. it provides for individual freedom, self determination, and rights. it is he who owns property that has the rights to it, not he who would buy it.

any other system requires the use of force/compulsion.

it is also the height of fairness as you are free to do precisely the same thing with your property. if they don;t let you into the viper room because they don't like you clothes or haircut or because you are not famous, that too is fair. it's private property, and we all have the same rights to determine what we will do with it.

it is your demand for equal access to private property that is unfair. i don't have to let you onto my private beach or into my private event. why do you get to tell me what to do with my things? how is that "fair"?

 
At 12/11/2010 12:20 PM, Blogger NormanB said...

Scalping of tickets is just the free market's way of showing that the pricing of tickets in the first place was off. They should be bid on via the internet and I wonder why this isn't done when season tickets are up for grabs.

Many student discounted tickets require ID's at the gate to use them so WI could have done that. A better system would be to scan the student's ID number right on the ticket then match those two up at the gate. A little computer programing would do the job.

 
At 12/11/2010 12:56 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

My argument is supposed to be facetious because fairness can't be defined in an unfair world. I try not to use serious fairness, ethics, or moral arguments. You can't build them strong enough that a contradiction will not easily blow them out of the water.

If my pension goes bankrupt, the PBGC picks much of it up (by current law), so it is actually a public and not a private liability now. If you think the PBGC is a private and not a public entity, ask yourself why such a powerful group as the U.S. Secretaries of Labor, Commerce, and Treasury are its board members. They are private just as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are--to keep the liabilities off the federal budget. You have a vested interest in my financial well-being whether you wish that to be the case or not. Thanks. This was a huge reason the U.S. Treasury loans were made to GM (and, to a much a lesser extent, Chrysler).

 
At 12/11/2010 1:31 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The Constitution is the skeletal organizational chart, not the sum total of who we are"...

O.K. Michael, I see your problem now...

You're one of those apparently that believe in that so called, 'living Constitution' or am I wrong in making that assumption?

 
At 12/11/2010 1:44 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Morganovich,

A good riparian right's lawyer might find you don't have the private beach you thought you have. Just as my pension is actually public property as I have explained, your private beach might be public property. There's a lot of unfairness out there.

You win some. You lose some. Whether you have anything above a zero sum game or not depends on if you put more effort into winning or losing--and a huge amount of recognizing and acting on opportunities presented to you (some people call that luck--I don't). Personally, I will not sit around waiting on fairness.

 
At 12/12/2010 10:08 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

fairness cannot be defined?

that seem to me like a pretty serious cop out which hides behind moral relativism, a clearly defunct ideology.

(eg - proposition: multiple moral viewpoints are equal. response: no they aren't. oops, the whole doctrine just failed)

granting all people equal rights is fair. how could it not be so? that sort of fairness is quite possible.

obviously, outcomes will not be equal, but why is that unfair?

if you spend the day building a shelter and i spend the day drinking beer, it's not unfair that you get to sleep inside tonight while i do not.

 
At 12/12/2010 10:14 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

the fact that your pension is backstopped by public money (which is, in my opinion, grossly unfair and inequitable) does not make it public property.

i still can't use it under any circumstances, i'm just asked to pay for it. that is the precise opposite of public property. it is the public funding of private property.

your riparian argument is just a niggle to try and dodge the issue. as someone who does in fact own a private beach, i can tell you that there is no public access to it. your whole riparian argument is defined away as if the public had access to it it would not be a private beach. there are areas in which private ownership of beaches is not permitted, but that is a completely different situation.

replace "beach" with "yard" and then assess the argument.

i don't think you have a leg to stand on here.

public funding does not equal public property.

 
At 12/12/2010 12:02 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

So, a 100% estate tax would be fair using your definition of equal rights. Let everyone start from zero with an equal opportunity. Why should you have more rights because you were born with parents who had more than others? Unfairness is simply built into our system.

 
At 12/12/2010 12:42 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

you confuse "fair" and"equal" with "just" or "ethical".

a 100% estate tax is potentially "fair" as it applies to all, but is is also unjust as it violates our human rights to self determination and sanctity of property.

nor are the ethics of such a tax compatible with individual rights and private property. why does property revert to the government when you die? that implies a system in which the government owns all property and you are just allowed to borrow it or one in which your freedom is abridged in terms of what you may do with your assets.

this implies that the government is granting you the right to property, a right it takes back when you die. rights granted by governments are not true human rights at all. they do not derive from person-hood, but from the magnanimity of government. thus, such governments are simply tyrants with more or less concern for their citizens, but tyrants nonetheless, for that which they can grant they can take away.

this is why the only durable rights derive from personhood and demonstrates the particular (though too frequently ignored) genius of the american constitution.

my assertion is that that we recognize (note that this is different from provide) equal human rights as a basis for a system that is free, fair, and just.

once you step beyond that, you are trampling on one of those 3 virtues.

laws should essentially do 2 things: protect the sanctity of the person and property of people, and require that promises made under law be followed.

redistribution of wealth to a government from a citizen who by definition cannot possible benefit from government services anymore because he is dead is not supportable under such a system.

additionally, your idea that everyone would start from zero under such a system is completely wrong. presumably, your parents are alive when you are born and during some or all of your childhood. thus, the kind of house you live in, education you can afford, the food you eat, and the healthcare you get will be dependent on that.

 
At 12/12/2010 2:16 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"you confuse "fair" and"equal" with "just" or "ethical".

morganovich, I'm not confused at all. I'll let you figure out "fair", "equal", "just", and "ethical" while I am running my personal fiances like a business with a balance sheet and cash flow estimates. I will also hedge 70% of my income by belonging to a labor union for $60-a-month while self insuring on the other 30% by going without. Additionally, I will try to find a way to legally increase my net worth and maintain my future income flows. I aim to be more like the chamber of commerce than Joe Blow who gets underwater on his mortgage and gets laid off from the job he quit high school to get.

I am the live-and-let live type, but if you send a dog after me, I will try to send a bigger one back after you. And, I will try to make friends with those who can help me achieve my objectives instead of making them my enemies.

 
At 12/12/2010 2:21 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Is it always morally "FAIR" that he with the most money should always get all the goods, or, should all citizens in a democratic, fair, and just society - which ours is supposed to be - get a. equal crack at some things?

It is absolutely fair that people should do with their property what they wish.

We know how you libertarians feel . . dog eat dog.

Libertarians believe in liberty. They believe that nobody has the right to initiate violence against others and that all transactions should be voluntary. As an authoritarian you obviously believe that force should be initiated against those that do not do as you would wish them to and that voluntary transactions need to be regulated by those who know better than the individuals who take part in those transactions.

Others feel our civilization has a higher calling.

Since when is authoritarianism a 'higher calling?'

 
At 12/13/2010 10:45 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

you are not a "live and let live" type.

you are a smash and grab guy that is happy to violate the rights and freedom of others for personal gain.

the proof of this is your repeated tendency to say, we'll i'll let everyone else worry about morality and i'll just look out for number one.

constantly pushing for political patronage and nepotism so that you can live of the money of the taxpayer is not "live and let live".

 
At 12/13/2010 1:12 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morgaovich,

I am not pushing for political patronage. It exists whether I want it to or not. It's not my system.

Yes, I am taking advantage of the opportunity that exists for all organized groups. Organized groups get a spot at the dinner table with the big guys while individuals get to sit with the kids at the little table in the other room. I hope you find a way to have as much power as an individual as a group has, but I doubt that you will.

The past, present, and future power structure in the U.S. exists of who gets what and when between groups. Individuals do not even fit into that picture. If you want power, find a bunch of people who think like you do, organize, and get politically involved because the logical opposite of organized is not organized.

 
At 12/13/2010 2:46 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

so, you'd be OK if companies banded together to to keep the prices of their products high or to keep the wages they pay employees low?

if you are for equal treatment, why call that "price fixing" or illegal collusion on wages?

how is all the carmakers banding together to keep car prices high any different than all their workers banding together to keep wages and job security high?

 
At 12/13/2010 5:30 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

I have no problem with what you suggest. As a GM stockholder, I expect GM to maximize profits and minimize labor costs using every legal means at their disposal (within those parameters, I don't care what Ford, Chrysler, and the transplants do). As a UAW member, I expect the union to maximize my compensation and or job security using every legal means at their disposal while making sure the company stays profitable and able to pay my pension far into the future.

As long as every does their jobs competently, I will consider my investment in GM stock and my investment in union dues both great investments. We can already see, and I think agree, that there are also political advantages to this arrangement, too. I don't have a position on what is ethical/moral/just/fair here. If and when the game changes, I will change my strategy likewise.

I consider myself an equal partner at GM, so I was happy to see my UAW president with the Detroit 3 CEOs in Washington D.C. during the crisis. A lot of people think that a bigger crisis was averted by the U.S. Treasury investment in the automakers, and an economic analysis shows that may well be true (at least in the short run). I understand why some people would be upset about the deal, but I sincerely hope they are proved wrong. Even the doomsayers are lowering the estimates of how much the loans will ultimately cost the taxpayers almost every month; some are even predicting a future taxpayer profit.

 
At 12/14/2010 9:40 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

that's a bit of a disingenuous argument when labor has bought itself more "legal" rights than anyone else has.

so you'll really be OK when GM, ford, and Chrysler get together and collectively decide that they will never hire another union worker?

i doubt it. you'll scream "illegal", which is a severely hypocritical argument when unions can force companies not to hire anyone but union members and even force those who live in "right to work" states to pay them dues.

you seem to be living on both sides of the street here.

 
At 12/14/2010 10:26 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

You seem to confuse what is legal with what you want to be legal, and you ignore the inherent power of groups over individuals. The NLRA is current law that all employers have to live by in the U.S. If the law changes, I will change. In the meantime, my agent (the UAW) will try to pursuade politicians to make laws that benefit their members because that is part of what I pay them to do. It does not help to get it in one hand to have it just taken out of the other.

There are a lot groups at the warm hog trough in the barn, so you better get a group of your own. Individuals will be left out of the barn both hungry and cold wondering what happened to them and saying "it's not fair."

Almost any group has more power than a single individual. That's why we send huge well-trained armies against our enemies. Loners like Rambo only win over well-organized groups in movies.

 
At 12/14/2010 12:07 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

no walt, i am discussing "ethical" as opposed to "legal".

"legal" is a poor standard to use. lots of terribly unethical things are "legal". stoning a daughter to death for adultery is legal in many places. it was legal for the lord of a fief to bed you new wife on your wedding night in feudal england.

you can hide all manner of nasty and oppressive things behind "legal".

so if jailing people for joining a union or running them out of town was "legal", you'd just accept that as OK? if the law were that picketers were disturbing the peace, you'd be ok?

your "whatever is legal is OK" argument is the argument of thugs and autocrats everywhere.

 
At 12/14/2010 12:13 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

you also mistake collective bargaining for special privileges. if we all band together to get a good group rate for a hotel, that's fine, but if we can force the hotel to accept our demands and they cannot ask us to leave if we push too hard, then we are not just bargaining collectively, we are demanding additional rights at the expense of the hotel. that is not defensible nor equitable practice.

your notion of "others form gangs so you had best do so as well" is a further decent into thuggery. the whole point of inalienable rights is to mitigate such a need because gangs are not allowed to run you over and take away your rights.

telling someone they cannot work without joining your gang is not different that telling someone that they cannot walk down the street without being mugged by you unless they join your gang. telling someone that they cannot fire your gang or organize against it is the same thing. leverage is fine, but taking away the rights of an employer is not.

that is the mentality of a thug and a gangster.

 
At 12/14/2010 12:37 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

How could you join a union if it were illegal? Union status comes from an election run according to the NLRA. Capitalists join groups with their dollars and call it a corporation that has legal advantages while workers join groups using labor capital and call it a union that has legal advantages. I'll give up my union power when they give up their corresponding corporate power. I'll give up my political lobbyist when they give up theirs.

Back to name calling again? Another weak argument. I expect better from you.

I'm still going to go with an unfair/unjust/unethical/immoral as being a weak argument, too. I'll let you and your preacher figure that one out. Some cultures consider eating pork immoral, but I just had a BLT for lunch. I guess if you want to call me immoral for my sandwich and other things, I'll accept your right to have an opinion about that (which is still not a fact).

I had to let a group go ahead of me at Disney World because those who stay at Disney have line jumping perks. Should I have joined the group by paying to stay at Disney or complained it was not fair? I did not like it, but I accepted it. Next time I will have a decision to make if I want to stay at Disney: won’t I?

 
At 12/14/2010 1:38 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/14/2010 1:40 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

once more you hide behind "might makes right" thinking and the notion of my gang vs your gang.

what additional legal rights does a corporation get? it is subject to all the same restrictions and liabilities as an individual, and many more besides. corporations are subject to anti trust and anti competitiveness law.

unions are exempted from anything resembling that and instead get additional rights in comparison to an individual that specifically and intentionally reduce the rights of others.

if union were illegal, then there wouldn't be any. that's my whole point. you place such stock in "legal" that you must support a law banning unions if it were enacted, yes? it would be legal. you demand the rights to bargain collectively that you deny to corporations and justify it by a rationale of legalism governed might makes right.

my point is that your hiding behind "i'll leave ethics to the preachers" is not only a cop out, but a disastrous policy that encourages and aids thugs, enhances and codifies nepotism, and could be used to justify absolutely anything from slavery to sharia law.

law without ethics and a respect for inalienable rights is simply tyranny.

and i have no idea what you are talking about in terms of name calling. i have done no such thing. i am denouncing your ideas because i believe them to be simultaneously devoid of morality and hypocritical, but i have made no personal attacks upon you.

i hold up a generic garment and you claim it is cut to your fit. perhaps that tells us something about you...

 
At 12/14/2010 2:13 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

I am not going to support a law banning unions because I think they provide me an advantage, and that is why I choose to be a member. If you want to ban unions, that's your right to follow through using whatever personal resources you wish to expend to do so (e.g., your time, your money, your enthusiasm . . .).

That we can have a diversity of thought such as this is what makes us so great in the U.S. Ideas are important, and I don't deny yours, so why do you deny mine?

I am having a hard time following your incoherent argument about ethics and morality because I am not sure about the parameters you use to define those terms. Is "buyer beware" an unethical or immoral statement?

 
At 12/14/2010 2:30 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

i think you are now trying to hide moral bankruptcy behind philosophical sophism.

ethics are fundamentally based upon rights and freedom. you get yours, others get theirs.

to get yours, you must accept that others get the same.

where your union argument falls down is that it demand legally recognized rights that infringe upon the rights of others.

you demand (and i support) the right to organize but then go too far by demanding that others lose certain of their rights once you have done so.

if you demand that an employer be unable to fire employees for unionizing, then you are asking for asymmetric rights. you get what they do not - self determination.

you purport to desire to live in a world where we can all gang up to get what we want and that you are OK with that, but in fact you are not. you want the benefits of your freedom to affiliate at the expense of the rights of others to treat you differently if you have done so.

that is a hypocritical double standard.

then you hide behind cheap legalism to justify your action by claiming "that is the law and i'll use it to my best advantage" as though laws make right.

would you own slaves if it were legal?

i suspect that your answer to that question may help illuminate your views on the difference between "legal" and "ethical".

 
At 12/14/2010 2:45 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"would you own slaves if it were legal?"

Probably. It's in my blood line. My mom grew up on a huge plantation that still had the slave quarters on it when I was growing up. My dad, on the other hand, grew up in a poor sharecropper family who were treated like slaves. I lived in my car for a while, but it was my completely paid-for car.

I join alliances with others who have much more power together than they do separately. If your car is stuck in a ditch, do you seek help to improve your situation or do you sit there and complain it is not fair? I seek out comparable life improvements.

 
At 12/14/2010 4:11 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

your philosophy seems essentially to be one of "gang up and wield whatever power you can for personal gain".

you seem to have no core morality at all.

if you would seriously own slaves for your own personal benefit, i guess there is really no point in having a conversation about ethics with you.

if such a day comes, perhaps you will be among those enslaved and your views will change about might making right.

are these your serious views or are you just so committed to your position in this discussion that you are shoe-horning yourself into amorality because it is the only position from which you can defend your position?

regardless, views that can only be defended by resorting to an abandonment of all ethics and a decent into the war of all against all are abhorrent.

of course, one can avoid this trap by claiming that you do not think there is such a thing as abhorrent views, but doing so only makes them more clearly abhorrent to anyone who has any belief in ethics or rights at all. thus, one may feel justified in himself, but those that act like beasts may expect to be treated as such, and few would weep when they reap what they have sown.

 
At 12/14/2010 4:40 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

There is no possible way you can revert to the 1860s and say you could not have found yourself born into a hypothetical slave-owning position. It happened. Some owned. Some were owned.

The power is inherent to group dynamics whether it is a labor union or a corporation. My philosophy has nothing to do with that fact. The power may ebb and flow with the times, but it will always be there in some form. Does Blue Cross and Blue Shield get a better deal on price than a person without insurance? Sure. That fact is surely not ideal in a perfect world, but I would carry insurance nevertheless because I recognize we do not live in a perfect world. You have to adjust to what you are given while deciding what you want to try to change.

I am not shoehorning myself into anything. I find a discussion about morality rather fruitless because it is usually used when someone can't come up with anything better. You do realize that one of the main purposes of incorporation is to absolve personal responsibility for the actions of the corporation? Can you accept that corporate legality? I can. Will your morals let you do the same? If so, what framework are you using for an individual's accountability in that case?

 
At 12/14/2010 4:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

that argument is as disturbing as it is logically flawed.

so what? being born into something does not make it right. you are again absolving yourself from making a moral judgment because you don't seem to have any.

are you arguing that slavery is ethical because it is legal or common practice?

your ludicrous dodge about "ethics are used when you cannot come up with anything better" is even more disturbing. it implies that you view morality as some sort of sideshow/puppet show.

i suspect this is because you have none at all and simply adopt whatever stance gets you what you want while hiding behind moral relativism, a bankrupt and easily disprovable philosophy.

 
At 12/14/2010 4:57 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

also:

your example about a car in a ditch seems irrelevant.

so what? we all seek out help some times. that is the nature of human association.

i fail to see what that example shows at all with regard to the rights of others.

there are lots of things i would not do to get my car out of a ditch. i would not steal nor force the labor of others at gunpoint.

from the sound of things, you'd be only too happy to do such things so long as you thought you had the might to get away with it. why stop at slavery, right?

 
At 12/14/2010 5:02 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

your view on incorporation are also deeply flawed.

corporations are even more responsible and limited under law than individuals. their purpose is not "to absolve personal responsibility for the actions of the corporation" as you say. that is not even true. corporations are completely liable for their actions. individuals investing in the corporation are not liable, but management certainly can be. many situations allow the piercing of the corporate veil.

further, corporations are limited by many laws that do not apply to individuals or to unions, anti trust among them.

ford would never be allowed to buy Chevy, but the UAW can lock up the workers at both while forcing those who do not wish to join to pay them anyway and enjoying immunity to termination for it (which takes away the rights of ford and chevy without their consent).

what corporation can force you to buy their product if you don't want it? can they charge you a fee even if you buy another one because they drove prices down and you benefited from their market positioning the way that a union can?

you demand rights to your own self determination, but then demand that such rights be taken away from others because it benefits you.

how is that not hypocrisy?

 
At 12/14/2010 5:26 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

I am simply saying that slavery existed in the U.S in the past, and it still does in many parts of the world even today. I'll let the historians and State Department or Department of Defense worry about slavery. If you feel that strongly about slavery, you should personally get involved with a group that can make a real difference. My cause at the moment is with a charity group that makes sure disadvantaged kids can have a great Christmas.

You also need to see what you can do about curtailing or eliminating labor unions' power or existence because it is obvious you have a problem with them. You would be an asset to those who think such as you do, but it is rather pointless to complain about unions to me. I have supported and worked with a U.S. Congressman who supports our union for years.

 
At 12/14/2010 5:42 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

you are back to "legal" substituting for "ethical".

you never answered my question - do you think slavery is ethical?

do you believe in rights at all?

you seem to like the pretend that you don't, but i'll bet that you enjoy using them and would complain bitterly if they were taken away.

why do you feel justified in taking away the right of others when you are such a fierce advocate of your own?

democracy without rights is just another kind of tyranny.

you can have 51% of the people vote 49% into slavery. then do it again with the remaining free people. and again. and again until you have a society that is 99% slaves, arrived at in strict and pure democratic fashion.

you could support any policy from taxation to ethnic cleansing using that methodology.

this is why "legal" in a pure democracy does not turn out to be "ethical" until you add inalienable individual rights.

you are just dressing up tyranny of the majority as "ethical" and trying to pass it off.

 
At 12/14/2010 5:56 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

is there any limit to your idea that we should subjugate ethics to economics?

if we murdered welfare recipients on TV, it would reduce the deficit and provide employment for those who worked on the show.

is that a good policy because it benefits the economy or a valid one if the congress approves it and the president signs it?

it seems to me that you would just say "well, those welfare guys should have banded together and represented themselves better."

if you answer no, then how do you square that with the rest of your views?

 
At 12/14/2010 6:17 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I don't think my ancestors were wrong for owning slaves in the 1860 era. All of my relatives fought for the South in the Civil War, and some died for that cause. That was then, and now is now. I don't plan on voluntarily going to Africa, Korea, China . . . and fighting to free the slaves there today (do you?), but I agree legal ownership of humans in the U.S. is wrong in the 21st century. I'm not sure what is ethical/moral/just/fair (are you using the terms interchangeably as an acceptable current norm of right and wrong?). Societies are dynamic and not static.

I think individuals give up rights for the society they live in to receive the protection the group provides. That does not mean that I would enjoy being groped by the TSA at the airport, but I would begrudgingly understand the rationale behind it.

Last time I checked, it was unquestionably illegal to murder people. I don't now, and have not earlier, supported breaking laws. You are getting a bit strange here with your hypothetical situations here, morganovich. As I have unequivocally stated, I support current NLRA laws, too, but I can see where changes could and should be made to them.

 
At 12/15/2010 11:27 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

you believe only in might makes right and that laws are whatever the majority decides. rights are not given up to a government, they are protected by it. you are not giving up your right to kill, you are held responsible if you violate someone else's right not to be killed. inalienable rights do not derive from governmental fiat.

good law must be based on something other than who has the biggest gun.

you actually seem to believe that slavery was OK and that ethics is a matter of dates.

that pretty much ends it for me.

there is no point in trying to discuss ethics and rights with someone who has none.

 
At 12/15/2010 12:46 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

Slavery still exists. Are you doing anything to stop it? Isn't it your ethical duty to do so, or do your ethics stop at the border?

 
At 12/19/2010 7:51 PM, Blogger SamW said...

Wow! All that started with the issue of ticket scalpers?! (Morganovich needs his/her own blog.) I have arguments with friends along these lines and I never can get to the central difference between us - other than I have been reading and thinking about economics for twenty-five years and they, at best, had Econ 101 some time in the dark past.

 

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