Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Isn't For Sale?..... But Maybe Should Be?

In The Atlantic Magazine article "What Isn't For Sale?", Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel points to some interesting "markets in everything": 
  • paying for a prison cell upgrade in California
  • dynamic market-based toll roads for solo drivers in some cities like Minneapolis
  • Indian surrogate mothers who charge one-third the going rate in the U.S.
  • commercial game hunting in South Africa for endangered species like the black rhino ($250,000 fee)
  • concierge doctors charging patients for access to their cell phone number
  • selling advertising space on your forehead
  • paying somebody to stand in line overnight
But the author isn't exactly celebrating the efficiency or welfare-increasing features of the market economy with these examples, he's actually questioning whether markets have gone a little bit too far when "everything is up for sale":

"The most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. It was the reach of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms. To contend with this condition, we need to do more than inveigh against greed; we need to have a public debate about where markets belong—and where they don’t. 

Why worry that we are moving toward a society in which everything is up for sale? 

For two reasons. First, consider inequality. In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means. The more money can buy, the more affluence—or the lack of it—matters. If the only advantage of affluence were the ability to afford yachts, sports cars, and fancy vacations, inequalities of income and wealth would matter less than they do today. But as money comes to buy more and more, the distribution of income and wealth looms larger. 

The second reason we should hesitate to put everything up for sale is more difficult to describe. Putting a price on the good things in life can corrupt them. That’s because markets don’t only allocate goods; they express and promote certain attitudes toward the goods being exchanged.

A debate about the moral limits of markets would enable us to decide, as a society, where markets serve the public good and where they do not belong. Thinking through the appropriate place of markets requires that we reason together, in public, about the right way to value the social goods we prize. It would be folly to expect that a more morally robust public discourse, even at its best, would lead to agreement on every contested question. But it would make for a healthier public life. And it would make us more aware of the price we pay for living in a society where everything is up for sale."

MP: A few comments:

1.  "In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means." And yet several of the examples provided contradict that statement: those of modest means can improve their lives with access to the markets for surrogate mothers, standing in line overnight and selling advertising space on their foreheads. 

2. "A debate about the moral limits of markets would enable us government to decide, as a society, where markets serve the public good and where they do not belong." 

It seems like the author is basically advocating greater government control and intervention over markets (us = government), which would necessarily limit or restrict voluntary transactions at market prices, e.g. making it illegal to sell bone marrow or a kidney.  In other words, it's the standard "markets fail, use government" approach, in which case we would have to be very concerned about "government failure."

3. Maybe the question should be: "What isn't currently for sale now because of government legislation that really should be for sale?" Like raw milk, kidneys, bone marrow, lemonade stands, etc.

HT: Warren Smith

62 Comments:

At 3/18/2012 9:25 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

Maybe - also - to recognize why those things are currently not for sale because at issue really is not what is or is not for sale but what the criteria should be and at least one criteria whether we like it or not - is whether or not the sale is supported politically by a large enough segment of the electorate.

then a equity/inequality question:

is there such a thing as economic slavery beyond the govt taxing people to pay for others?

can people become de facto economic slaves to things other than government?

 
At 3/18/2012 10:00 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Larry, unless you live in a communist country, people are slaves only for the basic necessities, i.e. shelter, food, and clothing, except when government "captures" you, one way or another.

 
At 3/18/2012 10:09 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

bravo mark.

to amplify this:

""In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means." And yet several of the examples provided contradict that statement: those of modest means can improve their lives with access to the markets for surrogate mothers, standing in line overnight and selling advertising space on their foreheads. "

you need to also consider that every market has 2 sides. for every "rich" guy paying someone to stand in line is another, presumably poorer guy, GETTING PAID to stand in line. how is that an different than getting paid to mow a lawn? it increases the opportunities for the less well off. banning a market like that "to protect to poor" is absurd. you are telling them they cannot willingly sell their labor and that this will make their life better? sandel seems deeply misguided on this point. you do not improve the lot of the poor by denying them work.

i concur wholeheartedly with your concerns about his statist instincts. letting government decide that being paid to wait in line is a market failure (which is absurd) and them impose a ban as a remedy (which is draconian) is a dangerous idea.

larry's notions about economic slavery are equally absurd. so long as a transaction is freely entered into, then there is no slavery. we all need to eat. to do that, we need to earn a living. how is selling your services as a line stander and different that selling your services as a security guard? how is selling a forehead as ad space any different than getting paid to promote a sports drink?

Larry seems to be trying to set up some standard by which he can declare som pursuits "slavery" because he or some appointed power does not approve of the transaction or the wage.

there are lot of jobs i would not do, forehead tattoo advertiser well up on the list. but so what? i would not be a security guard for $15 an hour either. my (and larry's) preferences are irrelevant. hell, i would never pay anyone to promote my product on their forehead either, but again, so what?

what matters is that 2 individuals reached a mutually agreeable contract.

trying to call that slavery is absurd.

if i sign up do develop a piece of spftware and agree to be paid when (and if) i deliver a working product with certain specifications, am i a slave? i am working for nothing, tied to my employer until the point i produce what i promised. if i walk away, i don't get paid and may even need to give all up rights to what i did manage to create.

that's commerce for you.

notions that the sale need to be approved by some sufficient majority are inherently abhorrent and counter to individual rights.

would you allow you speech to be treated that way?

who cares if 90% of the population thinks getting paid $10/hr to clean a cesspit is bad work? all it takes is 1 guy willing to do it and one willing to pay. it's their business and none of the majority's.

would you accept such strictures on marriage? 90% say you should not marry him/her. why do you care? it's your life.

why are jobs some special case?

these are personal decisions each individual should be free to make.

 
At 3/18/2012 11:48 AM, Blogger jorod said...

Things have been like this in Chicago for years.

 
At 3/18/2012 11:51 AM, Blogger jorod said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/18/2012 1:44 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

Actually Morg - all I did was ask a question.

How about this. Is it okay to sell birdseed that kills birds?

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2012/2012-03-14-091.html

 
At 3/18/2012 2:53 PM, Blogger NormanB said...

My comments:

1."Modest Means". And pray tell, since Modest Means is relative to any given time how has the standard of living of those of 'modest means' of each era grown so much over the years?

2. "Moral Limits of Markets". So what are the 'moral limits of government'? Our Founding Fathers addressed this and we have been the beneficaries of it ever since. We've seen in the USSR what governments can do we know that answer if we want to see it.

What makes all of this distorted thinking possible is the lack of understanding of what Capitalism, Markets in goods and assets, Free Enterprise, what the '1%ers' accomplish for the rest of us, etc all work to our mutual benefit.

 
At 3/18/2012 3:24 PM, Blogger Aiken_Bob said...

Actually Larry selling bad seed wouldn't be a good idea, but the market would quickly correct this. The link you provided tells of a story where the only problem was the seeds didn't comply with a federal regulation - don't think they actual said that birds were killed. Given the number of regulation I'm surprised that we all could be sued for some 'violation'. The market works - central planners don't.

 
At 3/18/2012 4:46 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"How about this. Is it okay to sell birdseed that kills birds?"...

Yeah, why not esepcially if it kills pigeons...:-)

Obviously I'm kidding larry g but if someone buys bird food they know is at the very least questionable then it seems to me that the onus of 'bird killing' falls on the person feeding the birds with the questionable feed, right?...

 
At 3/18/2012 5:14 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

well it appears the company falsified it's records but leaving all of that aside...

"
According to court records, in 2008, Scotts distributed 73 million packages of bird seed coated with the insecticides Storcide II, containing the active ingredient chlorpyrifos, and and Actellic 5E, containing the active ingredient pirimiphos-methyl, intended to keep insects from destroying the seed."



The company continued to produce and market the insecticide-coated seeds despite being alerted to toxicity dangers by a Scotts staff chemist and ornithologist."

http://goo.gl/7pyfN

my question was .. is it okay for someone to sell birdseed that has stuff in it known to kill birds?

should they be prevented from doing so by the govt?

you know.. those nasty regs that interfere with people selling stuff?

 
At 3/18/2012 6:03 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

Juandos - how would they know?

are you advocating that the govt force the company to disclose that fact?

 
At 3/18/2012 6:26 PM, Blogger randian said...

In a society where everything is for sale, life is harder for those of modest means

No it isn't. This entire idea is stupid and immoral. Being able to afford a line waiter causes no increase in the effort required to live your life. Banning line waiters makes the other guy's life harder, but doesn't make your life easier.

 
At 3/18/2012 6:46 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Juandos - how would they know?...

When those birds fall over or fall out of the sky larry g that might be a pretty good indicator that something was wrong with the feed...

Funny you seemingly haven't asked yourself, "why are these people feeding birds anyway?"...

"are you advocating that the govt force the company to disclose that fact?"...

Nope! I don't know which government you're refering to (local, county, state, or federal) but I think individuals should take responsibility for their own actions...

 
At 3/18/2012 6:50 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Indian surrogate mothers who charge one-third the going rate in the U.S.

US feminists will be quick to ban anything that reduces their value.

Just like they have already worked to obstruct US men from marrying Russian women.

 
At 3/18/2012 7:23 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Actually Morg - all I did was ask a question."

Actually, you first made a claim about the might-makes-right nature of majority rule, then asked an unrelated and meaningless question.

Morganovich answered you so completely, there's nothing anyone can add.

"How about this. Is it okay to sell birdseed that kills birds?"

Wow! Another unrelated question.

That's an interesting article, but there's no indication that any birds were killed.

Most insecticides are toxic, or they wouldn't be of any use. Most are toxic to birds as well as other animals. It's mostly the dose that matters, Larry, you know that.

The accusation seems to be that some insecticides were used that didn't have EPA approval for that particular use. That's not the same as saying birds were killed.

It IS, however, an indication that even with the heavy hand, and eagle eye of the EPA involved, this naughtiness went on for 2 years. so much for the effectiveness of the strict regulation I've been paying for.

Don't you think that if dead birds were being found in the vicinity of people's bird feeders, bird lovers would have complained, and this travesty discovered a lot sooner?

 
At 3/18/2012 7:37 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

your questions tend to be leading.

and i have no idea why you think that birdseed question has any relevance to this topic.

 
At 3/18/2012 7:43 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

further:

selling poisonous birdseed as wholesome is breach of contract.

that's a well settled area of law. if you contract to buy a side of beef from me and i deliver it rotten, i broke the deal.

birdseed is no different.

but as i said before, i'm still totally baffled as to why you think it's relevant to the topic.

 
At 3/18/2012 7:49 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"would you accept such strictures on marriage? 90% say you should not marry him/her. why do you care? it's your life"

People have in the past, and still do, invoked the force of government to enforce such strictures on marriages to people of different races, more than one person at a time, or people of the same sex.

It's impossible to conceive of how personal relationships can be the business of government.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:06 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" selling poisonous birdseed as wholesome is breach of contract."

are you sure?

the insecticide was put into the seed to keep insects from eating and contaminating it.

but my bigger point that IS RELATED to this topic is WHY something is or is not for sale and what the role of government is in that transaction.

there are three parts to this:

1. disclosure - should it be required ?

is it a legitimate government function?

2. the company's "right" to see the kind of birdseed that it wants to sell without interference from the govt to tell it what it can and cannot put in the birdseed.

3. - breach of contract

tell me what contract has been broken if the people who feed the birds - do not own them.

so my questions on this related to the role of government which is often reviled and condemned here in CD as unwarranted and wrong.

is this a case where the govt should be involved? Explain your rationale.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:21 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Larry G: "is there such a thing as economic slavery beyond the govt taxing people to pay for others?"

No, not without the use of coercive force, and ultimately the coercive force of the state.


Quote from Larry G: "Is it okay to sell birdseed that kills birds?"

Only if it is sold to a customer that wants birdseed that is poisonous.

If somebody is knowingly selling a product that is poisonous as food without telling buyers it is poisonous, then they are committing fraud, something that has long been considered a crime by society.

 
At 3/19/2012 9:14 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

we've been over this several ties before.

whay are you beating a dead horse and asking repetitive questions.

the answer is simple.

label what you sell as what it is.

sell to those who want it.

face liability if you fail to provide what you promised.

this really could not be any more simple.

 
At 3/19/2012 10:10 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

"Thinking through the appropriate place of markets requires that we reason together, in public, about the right way to value the social goods we prize."

So, deciding the place of markets requires a market.

 
At 3/19/2012 10:17 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

kevin-

actually, no. what they are proposing is nothing like a market.

democracy is not a market. in many ways, it's the opposite.

if 70% vote for X, the other 30% who oppose it are forced to participate.

one of the key features of a market is that you do not need to participate if you don't want to.

 
At 3/19/2012 11:11 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

re: "simple"

nope...

" label what you sell as what it is.

sell to those who want it.

face liability if you fail to provide what you promised.

this really could not be any more simple"

I'm asking you if the labeling is REQUIRED by the govt.

answer the question please.

 
At 3/19/2012 11:55 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"I'm asking you if the labeling is REQUIRED by the govt.

answer the question please
"...

Its been answered already larry g...

 
At 3/19/2012 12:35 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

why should the government need torequire labeling?

would you buy an box full of unlabeled goods?

 
At 3/19/2012 12:54 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

so.. you would not require them to label the birdseed if they did not want to -

correct?

or they could label it any way they wished including what they wanted to and not including what they did not want to?

so the rules with respect to labeling would be entirely voluntary

correct?

 
At 3/19/2012 1:33 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

larry-

do you deliberately try to distort everything that is said for some ulterior reason, or can you really not grasp even really simple ideas?

i would absolutely expect them to label the birdseed if they wanted me to buy it.

but i do not think the government needs to force them. their customers will.

you ask a lot of repetitive questions, but never seem to answer any. so i'll repeat, "would you buy a box full of unlabeled goods?"

if they put "ingredients" on their label and list them, they are telling me what's in it. if they lie or omit things, that's false advertising and a breach of contract.

if i label it "birdseed" and it's full of kitty litter instead, i lied. you can sue. it might even be criminal if it had harmful things in it.

if i omit items from the ingredients list, same thing.

why is is you think customers are so stupid that they need the government to require a label on things.

this is why brands exist.

this position has been laid out for you easily 10 times on various posts by now.

seriously, can you not grasp this, or are you just trying to be annoying?

 
At 3/19/2012 1:55 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Larry's confusion is eye opening. I'm sure he's not the only one who blurs fraud, theft, misrepresentation, etc. with economic freedom.

There is nothing in common with selling a harmful product and the ability to sell a product, but some see it as the same.

 
At 3/19/2012 2:00 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

it's an important concept.

I'm truly trying to understand your view which differs from mine and perhaps to rethink mine.

I think there have to be labels and they have to have list everything but you are wrong on omitting things.

they can and do omit things even with govt rules and as far as I know there is no law that will find you guilty of fraud for not providing a complete disclosure.

why do I keep on?

because this is a central issue with the concept of what can be sold or not and why.

when you say that a company cannot sell contaminated birdseed - you are wrong.

without the law, they can because they don't even need to tell you anything or they can put selective info on the label.

no contract law requires full disclosure of everything in the product.

with something like birdseed.. unless you own the bird, what exactly would you sue for anyhow?

you seem to think that a brand's reputation will reassure customers.

Brands change guy.

brands get taken over by other companies.

brands get sold to others who want the brand but have no intention of keeping it the same.

I'm not being annoying here unless you consider these issues "inconvenient" from the point of view of whether or not you really need the government involved.

I think you do.

You do not.

I'm asking you about some specifics...

again.. in part because depending on your answer.. I may actually reassess where I am on this.

so far, I'm not convinced.

I think without the gov - this company could sell bad seed and you and I would likely not even know they did and even if we suspected it, we'd have no real way to prove what they actually did wrong.

without labeling.. there is almost nothing that is warranted.

it does not even have to say who produced it or where it came from much less what is or is not in it.

this is one of those slippery slope areas of govt where the govt gets into the business....

then runs amok....

but can you really say you don't want them in the game at all?

 
At 3/19/2012 2:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

morganovich: "do you deliberately try to distort everything that is said for some ulterior reason, or can you really not grasp even really simple ideas?"

Based on his latest comment, I'm convinced it's the latter.

 
At 3/19/2012 2:30 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Larry,

Once again, you've taken a decent topic and turned it in to nonsense.

Nobody is talking about throwing out basic contract law. No, not a single person. Selling bird poison as bird food is, at the very least, misrepresentation, is quite illegal and everybody here would like to keep it that way.

 
At 3/19/2012 2:35 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I forgot who I was talking too...
I'll add for your benefit, Larry, companies like Scott's actually care about their reputation, so this may just be negligence (again, a no-no) since I'm confident that they weren't the head of a bird killing conspiracy. I'm sure you believe otherwise, but either way, they can't do it and all would like to keep it that way.
Clear enough?

 
At 3/19/2012 2:54 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I'm truly trying to understand your view which differs from mine and perhaps to rethink mine."

Your view seems to be that someone must protect you from the actions of others as you're unable to do so for yourself.

You seem to be willing to give up almost all liberty and freedom of choice for the security of knowing someone can protect you from bad outcomes.

"I think there have to be labels and they have to have list everything but you are wrong on omitting things."

Labels are helpful if you wish to sell a product. You haven't answered m's question - "Would you buy an unlabeled box?" - without knowing what was in it?

Listing all ingredients isn't necessary. Do you need to know what's in the bath soap you just bought? If you knew, would you be able to use the information in some way?

"they can and do omit things even with govt rules and as far as I know there is no law that will find you guilty of fraud for not providing a complete disclosure."

So, you're saying that government rules are ineffective.

"why do I keep on?

because this is a central issue with the concept of what can be sold or not and why.
"

But you keep on even after your questions have been completely answered many times.

"when you say that a company cannot sell contaminated birdseed - you are wrong."

Of course a company can sell contaminated birdseed, but you will sue them for fraud. They have not delivered what you were led to believe you had bought.

"without the law, they can because they don't even need to tell you anything or they can put selective info on the label."

Then they will go out of business. Despite what you think, making a quick buck and then disappearing isn't the goal of most businesses. That's why we buy from brands we trust, because we have had positive transactions with them in the past.

"no contract law requires full disclosure of everything in the product.

Nor is it necessary.

"with something like birdseed.. unless you own the bird, what exactly would you sue for anyhow?"

Fraud.

"you seem to think that a brand's reputation will reassure customers."

And it will, and it does.

"Brands change guy."

Then your buying habits change.

"brands get taken over by other companies."

Because the brand name is trusted, and has value.

"brands get sold to others who want the brand but have no intention of keeping it the same."

Then that brand will lose value and probably go out of business.

"I'm not being annoying here unless you consider these issues "inconvenient" from the point of view of whether or not you really need the government involved."

You are being annoying by asking the same questions over and over when they have been completely answered.

I think you do.

You do not.

"this is one of those slippery slope areas of govt where the govt gets into the business....

then runs amok....

but can you really say you don't want them in the game at all?
"

Yes.

 
At 3/19/2012 3:22 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Selling bird poison as bird food is, at the very least, misrepresentation, is quite illegal and everybody here would like to keep it that way."

who says they have to disclose ?

 
At 3/19/2012 3:23 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" since I'm confident that they weren't the head of a bird killing conspiracy. I'm sure you believe otherwise, but either way, they can't do it and all would like to keep it that way."

I'm confident also - that we'd never know if it were not for the govt.

clear enough?

 
At 3/19/2012 3:32 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

"Your view seems to be that someone must protect you from the actions of others as you're unable to do so for yourself."

no it's not. I'm ASKING YOU A QUESTION.

"You seem to be willing to give up almost all liberty and freedom of choice for the security of knowing someone can protect you from bad outcomes. "

Nope. I'm asking YOU how much YOU DEPEND on the govt to require disclosure.

"Labels are helpful if you wish to sell a product. You haven't answered m's question - "Would you buy an unlabeled box?" - without knowing what was in it?"

if that was the only option and disclosure was not required. That's the way many, most products used to be sold or worse the info on the label was not the full truth.

then people demanded the govt do something, right?

"Listing all ingredients isn't necessary. Do you need to know what's in the bath soap you just bought? If you knew, would you be able to use the information in some way?"

we're not talking about ALL ingredients. We're talking about WHO decides WHICH ingredients.

"So, you're saying that government rules are ineffective."

not 100% but do you want 0%?

"why do I keep on?

because you can't help yourself?

because this is a central issue with the concept of what can be sold or not and why."

But you keep on even after your questions have been completely answered many times.

nope. you are evading the issue.

"when you say that a company cannot sell contaminated birdseed - you are wrong."

"Of course a company can sell contaminated birdseed, but you will sue them for fraud. They have not delivered what you were led to believe you had bought."

if you don't know? who requires them to label correctly?

"Then they will go out of business. Despite what you think, making a quick buck and then disappearing isn't the goal of most businesses. That's why we buy from brands we trust, because we have had positive transactions with them in the past."

out of business? ha ha ha... what exactly tripped up this company? If there were no govt regs.. who would have known?

"no contract law requires full disclosure of everything in the product.

Nor is it necessary.

nor will you prevail in court.

"with something like birdseed.. unless you own the bird, what exactly would you sue for anyhow?"

Fraud.

what is "fraud" if the label omits ingredients? that's not illegal..especially with no govt rules.

"you seem to think that a brand's reputation will reassure customers."

And it will, and it does.

"Brands change guy."

Then your buying habits change.

you don't know that they've changed.



"brands get taken over by other companies."

Because the brand name is trusted, and has value.

"brands get sold to others who want the brand but have no intention of keeping it the same."

Then that brand will lose value and probably go out of business.

"I'm not being annoying here unless you consider these issues "inconvenient" from the point of view of whether or not you really need the government involved."

You are being annoying by asking the same questions over and over when they have been completely answered.

I think you do.

You do not.

"this is one of those slippery slope areas of govt where the govt gets into the business....

then runs amok....

but can you really say you don't want them in the game at all?"

Yes.

got my answer. thanks.

 
At 3/19/2012 3:35 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Just when I thought you couldn't say anything to make you look more silly....

No, Larry. That's not clear... and the Case Of The Bird Killers probably didn't start with the government. The company doesn't need to disclose a pile of dead birds in your yard to make them fact, nor can they stifle media reports.
Take your meds, Larry. This is nutty, even for you.

 
At 3/19/2012 4:15 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

dead birds in a yard automatically MEANS they died from your birdseed and you are going to sue who for fraud?

ha ha ha

Mike..what if they don't die until they leave?

then what do you do?

do you even know that birds did die?

and suppose you did.. what is the value of those birds ...that ..do not belong to you?

ya'll are a riot at times.

 
At 3/19/2012 5:25 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"got my answer. thanks."

You've had that answer from several people all along. Did you expect that if you kept asking the same questions that the answer would change?

You might want to consider what fraud means, especially in this context. If I sell you bird seed that you expect will attract and nourish birds because I told you it would, and instead I intentionally sell you something else, that's fraud.

Whether I sell you something that kills birds, or just a box of sawdust, I have defrauded you. That is your actionable complaint.

This is already well covered in common law, and requires no government labeling edict.

What about the unlabelled box, Larry, would you buy it? I've answered your question, now please answer that one.

 
At 3/19/2012 5:39 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

"You've had that answer from several people all along. Did you expect that if you kept asking the same questions that the answer would change?"

to a degree, yes.

"You might want to consider what fraud means, especially in this context. If I sell you bird seed that you expect will attract and nourish birds because I told you it would, and instead I intentionally sell you something else, that's fraud."

is fraud a government concept?

"Whether I sell you something that kills birds, or just a box of sawdust, I have defrauded you. That is your actionable complaint. "

if you know it.

"This is already well covered in common law, and requires no government labeling edict."

oh I think you need govt for the court though, right? I don't think you win on common law do you?

"What about the unlabelled box, Larry, would you buy it? I've answered your question, now please answer that one."

if it says "bird seed" and nothing else?

what is "fraud" if the birds go off somewhere else and die and you never know?

 
At 3/19/2012 5:48 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"so far, I'm not convinced."

And it's not likely you ever will be.

People give you excellent answers, and their not good enough. You disagree without any reasonable basis, so you keep trying to get a different answer.

It's no one's job to convince you of anything, Larry. If you don't like the answers you get, you can certainly look elsewhere for ones you like better.

 
At 3/19/2012 5:56 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Larry,
I'd love to talk about the migratory habits of song birds with you, but you would then begin an argument over government legislation controlling just how much wood a woodchuck could chuck on a standard, eight-hour work day.

Do us a favor, tell us in a couple sentences what your point is and don't mention law enforcement (since this topic isn't really about law - look at the examples, many, if not most, aren't "illegal", they're simply unavailable - it's about class inequity theories and the proper methods of bringing more resources to those who are thought of as underserved).

 
At 3/19/2012 6:11 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

my ONLY point here is that in many, if not most cases, we'd not know what was really in the product (or not) ... without laws that required it.

we went through this BEFORE we had laws.

Fraud with birdseed?

you gotta be kidding?

how much could you sue for?

dead birds that you ASSUME were killed by the birdseed but you have no proof?

so you sue for the the cost of the birdseed based on what?

seriously?

and I'm quite sure if I swapped out birdseed for an x-ray/MRI machine even the hard core guys want some kind of disclosure and assurance that the machine will not fricassee your eyeballs or gonads.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:22 PM, Blogger Mike said...

1. That's more than a couple sentences.

2. Has nothing to do with this topic... which is why everybody is treating you like an idiot.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:26 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

it has EVERYTHING to do with THIS TOPIC because of the EXAMPLE of WHY Birdseed is regulated and pesticides are not allowed to be sold in products.

the blog post is "what isn't for sale but maybe should be".

that's the wrong question IMHO.

the question is "why are some things not allowed to be sold".

and the birdseed is an example of why the govt regulates.

I cannot help it if Mike and others insist on being idiots when confronted with simple ideas lthat challenge their Neanderthal beliefs.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:42 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"is fraud a government concept?"

No it isn't. If you sell me a bag of oranges, and they are actually apples, and you knew they were, you have defrauded me. No government involved. I have remedies.

Me: "Whether I sell you something that kills birds, or just a box of sawdust, I have defrauded you. That is your actionable complaint. "

You: "if you know it."

Fraud requires intent. If I believe I'm selling you what you want, there is no fraud. If there's a problem, you can sue me for the damage I've caused you. If no one is aware of any birds being harmed by my product, there's no damage, and perhaps there isn't even a problem.

Me: "This is already well covered in common law, and requires no government labeling edict."

You: "oh I think you need govt for the court though, right? I don't think you win on common law do you?"

Obviously common law is another subject you would like some help with, but we won't discuss it now. One subject at a time, Larry, we're discussing bird seed, and labeling, and whether government should require it.

No, it isn't necessary that a court be a government court, but again, that's a different discussion. We are discussing here, whether government is needed to regulate providers of goods, and require labeling, and that answer is no. The market will regulate them.

Me: "What about the unlabelled box, Larry, would you buy it? I've answered your question, now please answer that one."

You: "if it says "bird seed" and nothing else?"

No, Larry if it is unlabeled. That means there's no indication what's in the box.

People label what they sell for convenience, so that a knowledgeable sales person need not be present with each customer to explain what's in the unmarked boxes.

The point morganovich made, is that some labeling is necessary so you can determine the utility of the box's contents. A box with no markings wouldn't likely attract many customers. A box labeled "Birdseed" implies the contents are intended to be fed to birds.

Additional information might be included to entice you to buy that box, and not a competing brand next to it, but it's not necessary to openly state that the contents won't harm birds, that is implied in the description "birdseed".

"what is "fraud" if the birds go off somewhere else and die and you never know?"

If you don't know, and no one knows, there is nothing to talk about unless other birds choose to complain.

Why, then, would you believe any birds had died?

The article you linked to describes the use of a pesticide not authorized by EPA for use with birdseed, that was used for over 2 years without any indication any birds died. The issue is strictly statutory.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:44 PM, Blogger Mike said...

No, Larry. It has nothing to do with this topic. You don't understand the original question which is probably why you think it's the wrong question.

You may want to stop and think about it. It's far more likely you have the wrong answer. You're discussing things that are damaging, beyond philosophical doubt. The question is regarding personal belief systems and the line between right and rights.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:48 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

"No, Larry if it is unlabeled. That means there's no indication what's in the box."

No Ron. It SAYS Bird Seed.

People label what they sell for convenience, so that a knowledgeable sales person need not be present with each customer to explain what's in the unmarked boxes.

does "convenience" REQUIRE anything more than the name ?

"The point morganovich made, is that some labeling is necessary so you can determine the utility of the box's contents. A box with no markings wouldn't likely attract many customers. A box labeled "Birdseed" implies the contents are intended to be fed to birds."

it does but does it mean anything else? I say no. It does not, for instance say it is good for birds.
What it says basically is the name the producer wants to call it and nothing else.


"Additional information might be included to entice you to buy that box, and not a competing brand next to it, but it's not necessary to openly state that the contents won't harm birds, that is implied in the description "birdseed". "

no it's not. it depends, as you say, on intent. If the producer did not intend to harm birds even as he put insecticide in it to kill insects then do you get to sue him for stupid?


"what is "fraud" if the birds go off somewhere else and die and you never know?"

If you don't know, and no one knows, there is nothing to talk about unless other birds choose to complain.

then why is the govt involved right now - after two years?

"Why, then, would you believe any birds had died?

The article you linked to describes the use of a pesticide not authorized by EPA for use with birdseed, that was used for over 2 years without any indication any birds died. The issue is strictly statutory."

indeed. so if they sold that birdseed , unregulated .. would it be "fraud"?

 
At 3/19/2012 6:53 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Ron,
"The issue is strictly statutory..."

I think this is the only semi-amusing thing about this round of Help Larry.
Here's someone bringing suit on behalf of all birds and in support of big government regulations...he'll defend them in the face of the fact that no known birds were harmed while ignoring the govt continues to use our tax dollars to subsidize giant, spinning bird killing machines in the wind farms.Thank GOD for those bird saving regulations! They have really made verything all better.

 
At 3/19/2012 6:58 PM, Blogger Mike said...

"A box labeled "Birdseed" implies the contents are intended to be fed to birds."
it does but does it mean anything else? I say no."

Maybe we could do something crazy, like use the definition of "food".

Thank you, Larry. I've always wanted to speak to one of those "gems" who makes it necessary for me to cut 38 warning labels on my hair dryer before I use it. Tighten your helmet (make sure it's approved for adult, indoor use under dry conditions first).

 
At 3/19/2012 7:42 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"it has EVERYTHING to do with THIS TOPIC because of the EXAMPLE of WHY Birdseed is regulated and pesticides are not allowed to be sold in products."

But pesticides ARE allowed to be sold in products. The complaint was about the use of a pesticide not approved by EPA.

The irony is, if insects were allowed to develop in the birdseed, the birds would be even happier than they are with seed alone.

"the blog post is "what isn't for sale but maybe should be".

that's the wrong question IMHO.
"

LOL! Then you have a problem with Prof. Perry.

"the question is "why are some things not allowed to be sold"."

That's YOUR question, and you brought up birdseed, so birdseed we are discussing.

"and the birdseed is an example of why the govt regulates."

A much better way to regulate birdseed sellers, beside that provided by the market, is something a private, not-for-profit organization, the American Bird Conservancy is doing.

At the link provided you can see that they have tested birdseed for harmful effects, and found pesticide levels to be acceptable.

If you were really concerned about birdseed, you would be better served supporting (financially) an organization like the ABC, and leaving the heavy hammer of government out of it, so I don't have to pay for EPA lawsuits.

I'm not sure how large their membership is, but condemning a birdseed producer would certainly affect sales, and as an organization filing lawsuits they would have a lot of clout.

 
At 3/19/2012 8:16 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"No Ron. It SAYS Bird Seed."

It doesn't Larry, morganovich asked you this.

"would you buy an box full of unlabeled goods?"

That means there is no indication what's in the box. In other words, you have no idea what what is being offered for sale. In such a case, you might pass it by in search of something that was labeled as to contents. I certain would.

The point is that labeling helps you determine whether the item meets your needs, which in this case, is to feed birds. An unlabeled box wouldn't help you make that determination.

When you offer an example, you can determine the parameters: but don't tell others how their example is labeled.

 
At 3/19/2012 10:09 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"does "convenience" REQUIRE anything more than the name ?"

No, but the quantity contained therein and the asking price might help you comparison shop or decide if feeding birds is something you can afford to do.

Me: "The point morganovich made, is that some labeling is necessary so you can determine the utility of the box's contents. A box with no markings wouldn't likely attract many customers. A box labeled "Birdseed" implies the contents are intended to be fed to birds."

You: "it does but does it mean anything else? I say no. It does not, for instance say it is good for birds.
What it says basically is the name the producer wants to call it and nothing else.
"

you're just being silly. "Birdseed" is a well recognized descriptor of seeds intended to be fed to birds, so that name alone tells you most of what you want to know, unless you are 4 years old, in which case you may wish to buy some to plant so you can grow birds.

If that's the case, hopefully you have a full time adult caretaker.

Me: "Additional information might be included to entice you to buy that box, and not a competing brand next to it, but it's not necessary to openly state that the contents won't harm birds, that is implied in the description "birdseed".

You: "no it's not. it depends, as you say, on intent."

Here's The definition I intent to use when I write the word "birdseed". If you have a problem with that, or wish to use some other definition, you will have to take that discussion somewhere else.

"then why is the govt involved right now - after two years?"

It's not clear how it came to light, but EPA found Scotts was using an unapproved pesticide. There's no indication of any harm done, nor any dead birds. As I said, it's strictly statutory. Let me know if I need to explain that to you.

"indeed. so if they sold that birdseed , unregulated .. would it be "fraud"?"

No, it wouldnt.

It wasn't fraud in any case. It was a violation of an EPA standard. No one got anything other than what they expected, and that's birdseed, which is commonly protected using insecticides.

 
At 3/20/2012 6:52 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

I suppose you think that the govt had no business telling producers what they could call orange JUICE verses ORANGE Drink.

Birdseed CAN contain insecticide, can it not?

who decides this?

who requires the companies that produce birdseed to disclose what insecticides they have put in it (or not)?

you say SILLY.

I AGREE but not in the way you intend.

You and those that say the govt does not need to be involved are saying that birdseed (and other things that are sold) would be properly disclosed to buyers as to what it is and is not and you are clearly historically wrong whether we're talking about snake oil or products that contain deadly contaminants or equipment like X-ray machines.

Why are some things not for sale?

In some respects for the SAME REASONS that the govt puts disclosure and restrictions on other products that are legally sold.

it's a continuum not a black/white, yes/no conundrum.

 
At 3/20/2012 11:36 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"
Birdseed CAN contain insecticide, can it not?

who decides this?"

customers.

what is it about that you find so difficult to grasp larry?

who decides if chocolate ice cream can have nuts and marshmallows in it?

customers.

the rest of your comment does not even make sense.

the fact that the government WAS involved does not mean it had to be.

that's just post hoc fallacy.

there are lots of reasons things are not for sale. lima bean ice cream is not for sale.

you think we need the government to assure that?

 
At 3/20/2012 12:08 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

can you tell me the difference between bird seed and bird feed?

 
At 3/20/2012 12:41 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

who decides if it is bird seed, bird feed, bird food, etc and what it is that is being sold per the name?

who decides this?

 
At 3/20/2012 12:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"can you tell me the difference between bird seed and bird feed?"

Unable to respond to an argument he has lost a long time ago, Larry swerves off course once again with yet another irrelevant question.

You can probably figure that one out for yourself, Larry.

It seems you really don't believe you can make decisions for yourself, but must have a wise, benevolent nanny to make them for you.

Why do you believe the primary goal of producers and merchants is to cheat you? Are you a helpless child?

The decisions you make, along with the decisions of millions of others, determines who prospers and who fails in the marketplace. Yes votes for rocky road, no votes for lima bean. Yes votes for healthy bird seed, no votes for birdseed that kills birds.

You should be able to see, that's a more powerful force than government regulation.

 
At 3/20/2012 1:17 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

" Unable to respond to an argument he has lost a long time ago, Larry swerves off course once again with yet another irrelevant question."


there was no swerving off course unless you think coming right into your wheelhouse "swerving".

If you do not know how bird seed is named, how in the world would you know what is in it?

you don't.

and you also don't know what kind of harm might be done or not... either.

Just like with Mercury - you do not know the non-lethal effects of insecticides that may lead to delayed death or reproductive damage, etc.

you simply don't know ...and truth be known..you do not want to know.

it's the flat earth society on steroids!

 
At 3/20/2012 1:56 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

do you know the difference between orange juice and orange drink?

do you think someone (without govt regs) could see a beverage that they label as orange juice that is not 100% orange juice?

yes or no.

 
At 3/20/2012 5:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

You are now just repeating yourself, Larry, there's nothing new in your latest comments, nor is there any need for me to response.

Say something new, Larry, something on topic. Your assertion that government regulation is required to keep producers honest is out of gas. No one on this thread agrees with you, and they have carefully explained why not. It's pointless to continue.

 

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