Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let's Just Declare the End of Peak Oil/Asininity

Tim Worstall in The Telegraph:

"Even if we accept the geological conventional wisdom [of Peak Oil], then there's still no cause for panic. Prices will rise, yes, so people will go off and do other things. Either use something else instead of oil (that ever cheaper shale gas for example) or simply doing things that require less energy. That's what a price system is for, after all, providing the signals that a certain resource is in scarce supply.

Peak oil wouldn't be a problem if it did happen and it's not going to happen anyway. So can we please just declare the end of peak oil and get on with worrying about something important instead?"

103 Comments:

At 5/17/2012 7:26 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Tim Worstall: Prices will rise, yes, so people will go off and do other things.

Yes, but rational planners look ahead and, well, make plans.

 
At 5/17/2012 7:56 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

"So people will go off and do other things?"

How will they "get there," walk?

 
At 5/17/2012 8:26 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

How will they "get there," walk?

Use natural gas powered cars?

 
At 5/17/2012 8:39 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

"Yes, but rational planners look ahead and, well, make plans"

Coming from you, I suspect that sentence refers to "central planners". I hope you surprise me and tell me you meant individuals look ahead and make plans. Or that you meant private enterprise, seeking profits, looks ahead and finds solutions.

 
At 5/17/2012 8:46 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

You might want to wait until February to buy that nat gas-powered car, Jon.

 
At 5/17/2012 8:49 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

There will be Peak Demand before Peak Oil.

Far more important is convincing the ECB, and BoJ and the Fed to think real growth, and to drop a perverted fixation on nominal indices of price levels.

 
At 5/17/2012 8:55 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

"Peak Demand," as regards oil, is a nonsensical concept.

 
At 5/17/2012 9:00 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Jet Beagle: Coming from you, I suspect that sentence refers to "central planners"... Or that you meant private enterprise, seeking profits, looks ahead and finds solutions.

Decision-making and policy are made at all levels in modern society. It includes democratic government, environmental and energy groups, scientists, bell-ringers, corporations, individuals, etc.

 
At 5/17/2012 9:20 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

You might want to wait until February to buy that nat gas-powered car, Jon.

Thank you, Rufus, I will. My current car, while a bit banged up, still gets the job done. If I can get her to February, I'll be happy.

Although, all things considered, not sure how practical a nat-gas car is, considering how few and far between nat-gas refueling stations are right now.

 
At 5/17/2012 9:26 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

"Even if we accept the geological conventional wisdom [of Peak Oil], then there's still no cause for panic. Prices will rise, yes, so people will go off and do other things. Either use something else instead of oil (that ever cheaper shale gas for example) or simply doing things that require less energy."

==============================

That sounds more like an admission of peak oil than an axplanation of why it is asinine.

 
At 5/17/2012 9:31 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Natural gas fueling statons will be available when required. the first changeovers will probably be all the places where you can presently refill propane bottles.

But, natural gas has a much lower energy density, ill require more frequent fill ups, is more prone to explosions, and will be much less convenient overall.

 
At 5/17/2012 9:35 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

But, natural gas has a much lower energy density, ill require more frequent fill ups, is more prone to explosions, and will be much less convenient overall.

I agree, Hydra. The new Nat-Gas Civic Honda is rolling out gets about 5-10 mpg less than the gasoline powered Civic. But, considering the track records with gasoline engines, I have no reason to think, if nat gas engines become commonplace, we won't see improvements made. After all, look how far the internal combustion engine has come!

 
At 5/17/2012 9:38 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

"Decision-making and policy are made at all levels in modern society. It includes democratic government, environmental and energy groups, scientists, bell-ringers, corporations, individuals, etc."

Socialist crap!

When a government - democratic or otherwise - interferes by making decisions about economic production, they always screw it up.

 
At 5/17/2012 9:54 AM, Blogger bart said...

So can we please just declare the end of peak oil and get on with worrying about something important instead?


The implication of this is beyond astounding.

It's not important that the supply and price of the biggest energy provider on earth isn't important?

 
At 5/17/2012 10:52 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Yes, but rational planners look ahead and, well, make plans"...

We need national planners like Custer needed more indians...

A little free market action can replace all the national planner parasites that are hanging around...

 
At 5/17/2012 10:53 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"How will they "get there," walk?"...

Well rufus if they have to they'll walk but I'm willing to give them more credit than that...

 
At 5/17/2012 11:08 AM, Blogger Abir Mandal said...

What? One less crisis? Dont take away the left's raison-d'etre.

 
At 5/17/2012 11:08 AM, Blogger Abir Mandal said...

What? One less crisis? Dont take away the left's raison-d'etre.

 
At 5/17/2012 11:10 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"It's not important that the supply and price of the biggest energy provider on earth isn't important?"...

No bart it really 'may not' as important as one might think...

Its not that I'm arguing that you're wrong but there's always someone clever that might mitigate the situation to some small degree...

 
At 5/17/2012 11:27 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/17/2012 11:28 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Jet Beagle: When a government - democratic or otherwise - interferes by making decisions about economic production, they always screw it up.

Most people consider the U.S. space program and other investments in science and technology to be an overall benefit for the U.S. economy.

juandos: A little free market action can replace all the national planner parasites that are hanging around...

There's no way to avoid some government involvement, as markets are international.

 
At 5/17/2012 12:22 PM, Blogger bart said...

No bart it really 'may not' as important as one might think...

Its not that I'm arguing that you're wrong but there's always someone clever that might mitigate the situation to some small degree...




And I very sincerely hope so.
There are indications it is happening too.

I wish Dr. Perry would have put it your way.

 
At 5/17/2012 1:45 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

jon-

you could go dual fuel.

they systems that inject nat gas through the turbocharger can also run on diesel only, so it eliminates the issue of running out of gas and not being able to refill and will cut your gasoline usage by about 50% and overall costs by about 45%.

that said, they cost about 12k for the kit, more for the tank, and then there is install. you could be at $20k by the time it's done.

note that all nat gas engines carry a similar premium and that, again, the tanks are a real killer due to DOT regs that require carbon wound tanks. (which cost $7-10k each for the saddle type tanks on a class 8 truck)

unless you drive a lot of miles, it's doubtful that a nat gas car would ever pay for itself.

even at a $15k premium, that's over 4200 gallons of gas and using a 30mpg, you're looking at 130k miles to break even if nat gas was free and likely more like 150-160k once you pay for it.

these economic make sense for trucking fleets (lower fuel economy, high mileage) but are still pretty far out for passenger vehicles other than taxis and buses.

 
At 5/17/2012 1:51 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jon M: "Although, all things considered, not sure how practical a nat-gas car is, considering how few and far between nat-gas refueling stations are right now."

Exactly. The problem is that there are few fueling stations as there are few natgas cars, and few natgas cars as there are few fueling stations. What a dilemma.

The obvious answer for central planners is to incentivise both drivers and fueling stations with liberal doses of taxpayer funding. What could be simpler? After all, they know what's best, and if consumers are too stupid to choose the correct answer on their own, central planners will do it for them.

 
At 5/17/2012 1:53 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Jet,

Jet Beagle: "Coming from you, I suspect that sentence refers to "central planners"... Or that you meant private enterprise, seeking profits, looks ahead and finds solutions."

Z: "Decision-making and policy are made at all levels in modern society. It includes democratic government, environmental and energy groups, scientists, bell-ringers, corporations, individuals, etc."

Well, there's an answer - I think - was that satisfactory?

 
At 5/17/2012 2:06 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos: "Its not that I'm arguing that you're wrong but there's always someone clever that might mitigate the situation to some small degree..."

LOL

Thanks for that, juandos, you have brightened what is turning out to be a miserable day.

Two things:

1. My 11 yo grandson would LOVE to have one of those.

2. It appears that energy efficiency of greater than 100% IS possible after all! Oh happy day. That idea can probably be scaled up to provide all the energy the Earth will ever needs - even after the sun goes out.

 
At 5/17/2012 2:16 PM, Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

Natural gas can be converted to gasoline at under $3 per gallon (which includes a $1.50 margin).

There have been huge advanced in GTL technology in the past decade. We have two plants (Shell and Sasol) in the planning stages to be built in Louisiana.

Also, 2/3rd of the oil in the world is heavy, butimen, oil sands. That can be turned into lighter crude for under $60 per bbl (without relying on natural gas). You also don't have to tear up the earth to get to it, like what was done in the past. Canada's Tamarak oil sands will (hopefully) come on line in the next two years. However, if the pipeline capacity doesn't exist, that oil will likely get shipped to Asia for refining.

 
At 5/17/2012 2:17 PM, Blogger bart said...

that said, they cost about 12k for the kit, more for the tank, and then there is install. you could be at $20k by the time it's done.


Is anyone aware of estimates on what a normal car conversion would cost with more sane regulations and better engineering etc?

 
At 5/17/2012 2:23 PM, Blogger SBVOR said...

Where is VangelV (leader, in his own mind, of the intergalactic peak oil cult)?

Was he summoned home to his alternate universe?

 
At 5/17/2012 2:36 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Most people consider the U.S. space program and other investments in science and technology to be an overall benefit for the U.S. economy."

Nonsense. Throwing hundreds of billions of dollars in ideas against the wall is bound to produce something that sticks.

While the space program has been a great source of national pride and excitement, it's another thing entirely to claim positive returns on the money that was spent.

O course there's Tang (rt), the one benefit of the space program that stands out as a completely government developed product, something that wouldn't likely have ever seen the light of day in the private sector.

And, it's really stretching the term "investment" beyond reason to associate it with government spending of other people's money on things they might neither choose nor agree with themselves.

 
At 5/17/2012 2:38 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Morganovich-

Thank you very much for that information. I didn't realize how expensive the conversion kit is!

 
At 5/17/2012 2:55 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "There's no way to avoid some government involvement, as markets are international."

More nonsense. There's no reason for the one to follow the other.

While you may be correct that government interference can't be avoided, there's no logical reason for it.

 
At 5/17/2012 3:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"My 11 yo grandson would LOVE to have one of those"...

Heck ron h, I'd like to have one...

Its not a serious contender for a 'commuter_mobile' yet but it looks every bit as much fun as a go-kart...

"It appears that energy efficiency of greater than 100% IS possible after all! Oh happy day. That idea can probably be scaled up to provide all the energy the Earth will ever needs - even after the sun goes out"...

Well ron h you just might have a point there...

I'm guessing here but I think that if one could get Al Gore to talk into the fan for a little while one could possibly achieve that100%+ condition assuming the battery doesn't blow up or the battery cables don't melt...

 
At 5/17/2012 5:35 PM, Blogger Lord said...

Even if we expect food prices to rise, people will eat less, and some will spend less on other things and some will starve, but that's what we have a price system for.

 
At 5/17/2012 6:04 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Even if we accept the geological conventional wisdom [of Peak Oil], then there's still no cause for panic. Prices will rise, yes, so people will go off and do other things. Either use something else instead of oil (that ever cheaper shale gas for example) or simply doing things that require less energy. That's what a price system is for, after all, providing the signals that a certain resource is in scarce supply.

The price system will also ration the available oil by rising prices until marginal demand is forced out of the markets. Substitutes have to be cheaper in order to replace the oil that is being used. But I see no cheap substitutes on the horizon. Shale oil and gas are clearly not cheap to produce because the companies cannot generate enough cash flow to fund their future drilling and development.

 
At 5/17/2012 6:57 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos: "I'm guessing here but I think that if one could get Al Gore to talk into the fan for a little while one could possibly achieve that100%+ condition assuming the battery doesn't blow up or the battery cables don't melt..."

Yeah, at a distance, maybe, He's pretty dangerous.

 
At 5/18/2012 3:31 AM, Blogger Tim Worstall said...

"But I see no cheap substitutes on the horizon."

Which is why we use markets rather than planners to look for such substitutes. Any planner, any group of planners, is limited by their knowledge. And the 7 billion of us human beings knows more than any such group of planners. Thus it is us 7 billion through the market which needs to be the group looking for the substitutes.

Such substitution could be: moving house to be closer to work, living in an apartment not a house, walking to work, taking the train, working from home over the internet, having a wood fire not oil central heating, adjusting the thermostat, wearing a jersey, vacationing without flying.....you get the picture I hope? There are myriad method of reducing both oil and energy consumption. And no planner can possibly hope to consider or calculate them all.

But we can in our individual actions.

 
At 5/18/2012 7:23 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Which is why we use markets rather than planners to look for such substitutes.

Do we? If governments did not mandate wind or solar energy who would invest in them as a way of competing with coal? If the Fed did not drive down the cost of borrowing would anyone invest $7 million in wells that produce 100 bpd after a year? Would drillers spend $7.50 to keep producing $2.50 worth of gas?

Any planner, any group of planners, is limited by their knowledge. And the 7 billion of us human beings knows more than any such group of planners. Thus it is us 7 billion through the market which needs to be the group looking for the substitutes.

I agree. But we cannot escape the fact that a group of central planners keeps setting the cost of borrowing. And that makes all of those individual planners do stupid things like buy houses when they are priced too highly or buy the shares of green energy companies that produce energy at a cost that is three to four times higher than the fossil fuel alternatives.

Such substitution could be: moving house to be closer to work, living in an apartment not a house, walking to work, taking the train, working from home over the internet, having a wood fire not oil central heating, adjusting the thermostat, wearing a jersey, vacationing without flying.....you get the picture I hope? There are myriad method of reducing both oil and energy consumption. And no planner can possibly hope to consider or calculate them all.

But we can in our individual actions.

 
At 5/18/2012 7:24 AM, Blogger bart said...

Such substitution could be:

Of course.

And a significant number of those are also know as declines in standards of living - 'hidden inflation'.

 
At 5/18/2012 12:00 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Tim Worstall: Any planner, any group of planners, is limited by their knowledge. And the 7 billion of us human beings knows more than any such group of planners.

Markets are very effective at allocating resources, but tend to be myopic. Markets are not always capable of the coordinated actions required, such as when it requires vast investments over very long time scales. Those that invest in very long range plans or use vast resources may not survive their competition to live to see the fruition of their plans. And each player may have an individual advantage to ride for free on the investment of others undercutting any such efforts.

On the other hand, the planners in a democratic government represent to some degree more than just the individual knowledge of the political leaders, but represent a consensus opinion of the people. And having a government does not preclude having robust markets.

 
At 5/18/2012 12:00 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Tim Worstall:

"Such substitution could be..."

A wood fire? Are you kidding?

Other than the internet thing, you've pretty much described normal life for people in the 19th century. Are you recommending we return to that much lower standard of living?

 
At 5/18/2012 2:18 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Such substitution could be: moving house to be closer to work, living in an apartment not a house, walking to work, taking the train, working from home over the internet, having a wood fire not oil central heating, adjusting the thermostat, wearing a jersey, vacationing without flying.....you get the picture I hope? There are myriad method of reducing both oil and energy consumption. And no planner can possibly hope to consider or calculate them all.

Sorry, I meant to respond to this but had to go before I could write down a few thoughts.

If I like beef but substitute chicken because beef prices went up it is not legitimate to ignore the price increase because I am now eating chicken. If I cannot afford to drive to work and have to take less convenient public transit my standard of living went down. And let us note that abandoning a home in the suburbs in favour of one closer to work requires additional energy be used in the process unless there is an equal number of people moving from the city to suburbs.

The big problem that we have is the manipulation of markets by central planners that some of us deny exist. The point is that when these planners can manipulate the price of borrowing the planners in the private sector will make huge errors because they do not understand consumer preferences as they should. If we want to fix this problem we need to go to the free market in all things, including the creation of money and credit.

 
At 5/18/2012 2:32 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Markets are very effective at allocating resources, but tend to be myopic.

Myopic? How do you support that statement? You are obviously not thinking of free markets free of influence from the government.

Markets are not always capable of the coordinated actions required, such as when it requires vast investments over very long time scales.

Actually, they are good at determining what investment makes sense and which does not. Look to the US government investment in GM, Solyndra, wind and solar companies, etc., for a perfect example. The markets would have let all those companies fail and would have let those with better ideas and better use for the resources gain control of those resources.

Those that invest in very long range plans or use vast resources may not survive their competition to live to see the fruition of their plans.

This is not true. In a free market where the cost of borrowing is determined by preference for consumption/saving the competent planners are quite capable of determining what type of investments make sense. Problems occur only when the funds required for investment do not come out of savings but are created out of thin air. At such periods the planners find out that resources are not as available as they thought and there are huge cost overruns, forcing many projects to be cancelled. For a perfect example I suggest that you take a look at the green energy industry today, the housing industry in the mid 2000s, or the IT industry in 1999.

And each player may have an individual advantage to ride for free on the investment of others undercutting any such efforts.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. In a competitive environment advantages are earned.

 
At 5/18/2012 4:08 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Actually, they are good at determining what investment makes sense and which does not.

They are good as long as the investment and time scales are reasonably limited.

VangelV: The markets would have let all those companies fail and would have let those with better ideas and better use for the resources gain control of those resources.

Private capital is often wasted too.

Zachriel: Those that invest in very long range plans or use vast resources may not survive their competition to live to see the fruition of their plans.

VangelV: This is not true. In a free market where the cost of borrowing is determined by preference for consumption/saving the competent planners are quite capable of determining what type of investments make sense.

You ignored the point. No sense repeating it.

 
At 5/18/2012 8:56 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "Private capital is often wasted too."

Heh. I guess that makes it all right then.

Zachriel: "Those that invest in very long range plans or use vast resources may not survive their competition to live to see the fruition of their plans."

Then apparently, their long range plan using vast resources wasn't the best one after all.

Why do you assume there are long range plans valued by a few that must be forced on the many against their will? If most people want something, the market will certainly provide it for them.

 
At 5/18/2012 9:06 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Z: "They are good as long as the investment and time scales are reasonably limited. "

Not sure what you mean when you write "reasonably limited", but while experience tells us that government programs, once begun never end, in reality, no long range government plan can be guaranteed to continue longer than 2 years.

 
At 5/18/2012 9:39 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

They are good as long as the investment and time scales are reasonably limited.


They are good period. It is clear that the government has no idea how to plan adequately. It builds money losing arenas that suck the life out of local economies, spends money on schemes that are not competitive, and acts to meet political goals rather than economic goals. I would rather have people make their own plans using their own capital and their own expertise rather than rely on idiot central planners in government.

Private capital is often wasted too.

When it is the people who waste it are punished by the markets. Because of competition the incompetent and the pretenders are weeded out quickly and the gains go to those that consumers choose to reward. This is not the case with central planners who build light rail projects that need massive subsidies, bridges to nowhere, and develop weapons systems that do not work.

You ignored the point. No sense repeating it.

I am not ignoring the point. I merely point out that you are not talking about a free market, which is what we need. In a market that is manipulated by the central planners long term projects can fail because there is no market information from the pricing system. This is why home builders kept building even when there were few qualified buyers. The price action was telling them that there was demand and that they should go ahead and maximise profits. When the manipulation was over most of them suffered huge losses that would never have occurred in a free market.

 
At 5/19/2012 7:05 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Ron H: Heh. I guess that makes it all right then.

Waste isn't good, but to pretend that only government wastes is not reasonable.

Ron H: Then apparently, their long range plan using vast resources wasn't the best one after all.

Some worthwhile projects may be beyond the capabilities of corporations alone.

Ron H: Why do you assume there are long range plans valued by a few that must be forced on the many against their will?

Well, in a democracy, it's a consensus arrived at through the democratic process.

VangelV: I am not ignoring the point.

Sure you are. The tragedy of the commons is a simple example of how markets cannot always adjust to conditions, even when the information is universally available.

 
At 5/19/2012 7:35 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Waste isn't good, but to pretend that only government wastes is not reasonable.

There is a huge difference. If I waste my own resources I get what I deserve and harm myself without harming others.

But when the government wastes resources it harms those that it took the resources from.

Some worthwhile projects may be beyond the capabilities of corporations alone.

I can't think of any. Whether we are talking about huge open pit mines, massive hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, etc., they are all capable of being built by private companies trying to make a buck.

Well, in a democracy, it's a consensus arrived at through the democratic process.

Really? Do you mean to say that the voters of Alabama agreed to build a bridge to nowhere in Alaska? Were you asked if your taxes should help subsidize GE wind turbines that were made in Germany and China or was that something that the company pushed on its own?

Sure you are. The tragedy of the commons is a simple example of how markets cannot always adjust to conditions, even when the information is universally available.

The tragedy of the commons is about as far from a free market as you can get. In a free market there would be no 'commons' that anyone could rape and pillage. There would be private property rights that would look after the land. A perfect example is to look at the difference between the government parks in Africa and compare them to the private parks. The public areas have few animals and are in terrible shape because nobody who lives within their borders legally profits from the killing of games and has no reason to resist poaching. The private parks are teeming with game because the owners and the people living in them have an incentive to let individuals pay huge fees to hunt the animals.

It seems to me that your knowledge of economics is as bad as your knowledge of climate history.

 
At 5/19/2012 9:19 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: If I waste my own resources I get what I deserve and harm myself without harming others.

Not necessarily so. In any case, that's your personal moral position which puts your personal autonomy paramount, even above democratic governance. You are welcome to your moral precepts, but it's irrelevant to the point.

VangelV: Whether we are talking about huge open pit mines, massive hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, etc., they are all capable of being built by private companies trying to make a buck.

Except that nuclear power was developed by the government in response to the fascist threat, and hydroelectric dams block rivers shared by people downstream and interrupts spawning grounds.

VangelV: In a free market there would be no 'commons' that anyone could rape and pillage.

The atmosphere is a typical example of a commons.

 
At 5/19/2012 9:57 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

"VangelV: If I waste my own resources I get what I deserve and harm myself without harming others."

Not necessarily so. In any case, that's your personal moral position which puts your personal autonomy paramount, even above democratic governance. You are welcome to your moral precepts, but it's irrelevant to the point.


Not necessarily so? When I invest my resources I risk my resources, not yours. That is the way it is and has nothing to do with a moral position unless you think that the resources are not private owned but belong to 'society' as so many of your Marxists or Fascists do.

Democratic governance has nothing to do with how I choose to invest my money or the fact that when government wastes resources it hurts the people who it took those resources from. The fact that some politician decided to subsidize a hockey team or build an opera house does not mean that the people who wind up paying for those things agreed.

"VangelV: Whether we are talking about huge open pit mines, massive hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, etc., they are all capable of being built by private companies trying to make a buck.

Except that nuclear power was developed by the government in response to the fascist threat, and hydroelectric dams block rivers shared by people downstream and interrupts spawning grounds."


Nuclear power was developed by individuals. Government just happened to pay for it. But the theories were already there and if there was money to be made private individuals would have done what was necessary to profit.

Keep in mind that the great work done in the development of nuclear power today is privately funded. The new reactor designs come from individuals working for private outfits not government offices that have too many bureaucratic rules to be effective. The face of a government run nuclear program is Chernobyl. I will take the private companies thank you.

As for hydroelectric power, the issue is simple property rights. Government has no role to play because we have legal mechanisms to deal with those rights. And the last time I looked I did not see any petition signed by the fish asking that we deal with their spawning rights.

"VangelV: In a free market there would be no 'commons' that anyone could rape and pillage."

The atmosphere is a typical example of a commons.


But as we have discussed before, disputes can be handled by common law. What you have instead are government rules that permit harmful pollutants to be emitted without compensation to those that are actually harmed and rules that do not deal with safety but harm private individuals and companies.

 
At 5/19/2012 10:20 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Nuclear power was developed by individuals.

Yes, working for the government.

VangelV: And the last time I looked I did not see any petition signed by the fish asking that we deal with their spawning rights.

But fishers who rely on those fish, and farmers and towns downstream certainly claim a right to the same waters you bottled up with your dam.

VangelV: But as we have discussed before, disputes can be handled by common law.

Apparently not, as it took government regulation to limit air pollution in the West, and there is rampant environmental damage in the developing industries of China. The damages are too diffused for law suits. Instead, you have political action, just as the fishers and farmers downstream take action, though perhaps not in your pretend world.

 
At 5/19/2012 11:29 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

VangelV: Nuclear power was developed by individuals.

Yes, working for the government.


Actually, no. Most of the theories necessary to develop nuclear power came from individuals not working for the government. The government just paid for a bomb to be developed so that it could kill many people, including civilians.

VangelV: And the last time I looked I did not see any petition signed by the fish asking that we deal with their spawning rights.

But fishers who rely on those fish, and farmers and towns downstream certainly claim a right to the same waters you bottled up with your dam.


As I pointed out, there is a legal system that is fully capable of dealing with all of the rights in question. It is only government that can trample on such rights and often does.

VangelV: But as we have discussed before, disputes can be handled by common law.

Apparently not, as it took government regulation to limit air pollution in the West, and there is rampant environmental damage in the developing industries of China. The damages are too diffused for law suits. Instead, you have political action, just as the fishers and farmers downstream take action, though perhaps not in your pretend world.


Wong answer. Government allows the emission of dangerous toxins without penalty. A common law system would not.

 
At 5/20/2012 7:18 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Most of the theories necessary to develop nuclear power came from individuals not working for the government. The government just paid for a bomb to be developed so that it could kill many people, including civilians.

The first nuclear reactor was built by the U.S. government.

VangelV: As I pointed out, there is a legal system that is fully capable of dealing with all of the rights in question.

Yes, there is a legal system that balances water rights through a political process and the rule of law. To which legal system were you referring?

VangelV: A common law system would not.

Please explain how that would work, or did work once upon a time.

 
At 5/20/2012 7:49 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

The first nuclear reactor was built by the U.S. government.

But the theories that were the foundation of nuclear power development came from private individuals not working for the government.

Yes, there is a legal system that balances water rights through a political process and the rule of law. To which legal system were you referring?

Common law. And the system of water rights was not developed by the government.

Please explain how that would work, or did work once upon a time.

Simple. When pollutants crossed property lines the harmed parties took them to court. You could not establish a factory next to a housing complex and let your crap harm the people living there.

 
At 5/20/2012 8:00 AM, Blogger bart said...

When pollutants crossed property lines the harmed parties took them to court. You could not establish a factory next to a housing complex and let your crap harm the people living there.


One 'fun' and clever law possibility I heard about back in the 70s was to require all water users to place their output pipes up stream of their input pipes - a self correcting and simple solution.

Too simple and effective...

 
At 5/20/2012 8:29 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: But the theories that were the foundation of nuclear power development came from private individuals not working for the government.

Yes, so you are right. The first nuclear reactor was a result of cooperation at all levels of society, including government.

VangelV: Common law.

Common law is the sum of decisions of government courts and tribunals. Just saying the word doesn't answer the question.

How does someone enforce their rights? A woman's child has asthma. No one can determine how much air pollution is causing or aggravating this *particular* case of asthma. The defendants will argue that there is no proof of particular damage, or the proportion due to pollution or other causes. A large industry will crush most individuals in the courts, going so far as to fund "skeptical science" to achieve their aims.

VangelV: When pollutants crossed property lines the harmed parties took them to court.

You live in an imaginary world.

bart: One 'fun' and clever law possibility I heard about back in the 70s was to require all water users to place their output pipes up stream of their input pipes - a self correcting and simple solution.

Heh.

VangelV is rejecting any regulatory control or taxing of pollution.

 
At 5/20/2012 9:23 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, so you are right. The first nuclear reactor was a result of cooperation at all levels of society, including government.

My point is that government was not necessary. It was mostly private individuals working on their own or for private universities that made the program possible.

Common law is the sum of decisions of government courts and tribunals. Just saying the word doesn't answer the question.

No. Government had nothing to do with common and customs law. Like the typical Marxist (or right winger) you are ignorant of the history of legal systems. There is a huge difference between a system in which judges discover law and one in which they interpret what idiot politicians meant when they wrote it.

 
At 5/20/2012 9:31 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

How does someone enforce their rights? A woman's child has asthma. No one can determine how much air pollution is causing or aggravating this *particular* case of asthma. The defendants will argue that there is no proof of particular damage, or the proportion due to pollution or other causes. A large industry will crush most individuals in the courts, going so far as to fund "skeptical science" to achieve their aims.

Judges did a great job of dealing with this and wound up protecting both sides from unreasonable actions. Common law judges would never conclude that CO2 was a pollutant. And they would not permit companies to emit high concentrations of poisons into the air or water.

Your asthma example is a good one for opposing the current system. You get all kinds of frivolous actions that ban economic activity because some people claim harms that are not generated by that economic activity. Most respiratory diseases are primarily effected by pollen. This does not mean that we need to cut down the forests and pave over the meadows.

You live in an imaginary world.

Not at all. There is a lot of case law on this point. Judges would not permit a factory to open up next to a housing complex because the noise and pollution would disturb the people living there. This is why most factories built their own housing next to their remote locations and how you got company towns.

 
At 5/20/2012 9:52 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: My point is that government was not necessary.

Yet it was government that designed and built the first nuclear reactor, not industry. It was your example.

VangelV: Government had nothing to do with common and customs law.

Merriam-Webster: the body of law developed in England primarily from judicial decisions based on custom and precedent.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary, A body of English law of law which originated with an oral tradition of tribal justice in Britain thousands of years ago and which developed into a unique, cohesive national body of law (the realm) developed and set to writing by English judges over time

Georgetown University Legal Dictionary: A system of law that is derived from judges' decisions (which arise from the judicial branch of government), rather than statutes or constitutions (which are derived from the legislative branch of government)

Maybe the word "law" is throwing you off.

Merriam-Webster: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority

VangelV: Judges did a great job of dealing with this and wound up protecting both sides from unreasonable actions.

Which is why Britain, with a strong court system based on common law, never had air pollution.

VangelV: Most respiratory diseases are primarily effected by pollen.

You prove the point. Even though it may be obvious to scientists (and everyone else) that cases of respiratory illness had increased dramatically in London during rampant industrialization, proving particularized harm is next to impossible, especially when industry hires their own "skeptical scientists" have access to the best lawyers, and have naysayers such as yourself defending them. A poor, uneducated woman with a child has no chance against such a system. Only political organization can effect change on the required scale.

 
At 5/20/2012 10:08 AM, Blogger bart said...

VangelV is rejecting any regulatory control or taxing of pollution.


He's very far from an anarchist.

 
At 5/20/2012 11:17 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yet it was government that designed and built the first nuclear reactor, not industry. It was your example.

The government built a reactor without any shielding or protection for the people who lived in the area. It had no cooling system. Its purpose was military not actual power generation.

For actual nuclear reactors that could be used for commercial purposes we needed the private sector. And the theories developed by private individuals not in the pay of government.

Merriam-Webster: the body of law developed in England primarily from judicial decisions based on custom and precedent.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary, A body of English law of law which originated with an oral tradition of tribal justice in Britain thousands of years ago and which developed into a unique, cohesive national body of law (the realm) developed and set to writing by English judges over time

Georgetown University Legal Dictionary: A system of law that is derived from judges' decisions (which arise from the judicial branch of government), rather than statutes or constitutions (which are derived from the legislative branch of government)

Maybe the word "law" is throwing you off.


Not at all. Customs and common law was not based on judicial law. Merchants who traded across borders developed merchant law without governments. Maritime law was not developed by any government.

As I said, you are ignorant of history. So ignorant that you can't even spot the errors or misdirections in your own citations. Anyone who has a clue knows that common law was developed by independent judges and not by legislatures or kings. These laws dealt with contractual relationships among members in society and were not as concerned with arbitrary laws that could be enforced by kings by force. The systems showed that you do not need a central state to have the rule of law.

Funny just how ignorant you are . My son just did a project for his grade eight social studies class where he looked at the contribution of the Irish to Canadian society. It took him minutes to discover that, "Irish law was based on a tradition of ancient custom and was passed down through professional jurists called the brehons. The brehons were not government officials. They were private judges who were selected by the two or more parties to a dispute. They were selected on the basis of their reputations for having common sense, wisdom, and knowledge of the law." For some reason he has less trouble understanding that you can have the rule of law in a society without a state than you do. Of course, that might be due to the fact that he is far better read on the subject than you seem to be and that he understands what fraternal organizations, mutual societies and voluntary associations used to do before governments pushed most of them out of existence.

 
At 5/20/2012 11:18 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Which is why Britain, with a strong court system based on common law, never had air pollution.

Britain had lots of air pollution because everyone used coal and wood for fires. That is the other point that you missed. A common law judge would not close down a garbage dump if someone decided to build houses next to it because it was there first. In customs law progressives cannot come around and bully others to change just because they did not like those customs.

You prove the point. Even though it may be obvious to scientists (and everyone else) that cases of respiratory illness had increased dramatically in London during rampant industrialization, proving particularized harm is next to impossible, especially when industry hires their own "skeptical scientists" have access to the best lawyers, and have naysayers such as yourself defending them. A poor, uneducated woman with a child has no chance against such a system. Only political organization can effect change on the required scale.

What kind of an idiot ignores the fact that people flocked to London because their lives were better there than where they came from? Workers moved to factory housing because they preferred to walk a short time than to take hours to travel to the hovels that they lived in. A million people living in the cities did not produce any more pollution than they would have living in lower density areas. In fact, they probably burned far less coal and used fewer resources because cities were more efficient.

And as Samuel Johnson pointed out intellectuals and the creative class would choose to live nowhere else. A poor woman with a child could survive in London. She would starve in the countryside.

 
At 5/20/2012 11:48 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

He's very far from an anarchist.

Actually, the older I get the more I agree with J.R.R. Tolkien's statement, "My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy." Anarchy, of the type advocated by Rothbard, is morally consistent and acceptable to people who prefer freedom. Of course, these people are attacked from both the far left and the far left as being cold hearted, naive, or impractical. But that is the subject for another thread.

 
At 5/20/2012 11:59 AM, Blogger bart said...

I stand at least somewhat corrected.

Indeed, and a very very large subject for a thread - and I'll avoid making substantial comments since I'm amongst those who think it's unworkable except amongst relatively small groups, partly due to the existence of the "power & greed 'slime'" contingent.

 
At 5/20/2012 4:27 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Its purpose was military not actual power generation.

Yes, that is correct. You were the one who brought up nuclear power plants as an example of what corporations can do.

VangelV: For actual nuclear reactors that could be used for commercial purposes we needed the private sector.

Yes, that is the usual meaning of commerce.

VangelV: Customs and common law was not based on judicial law.

We cited several sources. Common law is not based exclusively on judicial law, but has deep historical roots, if that is what you mean.

VangelV: For some reason he has less trouble understanding that you can have the rule of law in a society without a state than you do.

Yes, in many primitive societies, such as before the rise of nation-states, justice was sought through elders or wisemen.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU

VangelV: Britain had lots of air pollution because everyone used coal and wood for fires. That is the other point that you missed.

Now you got it. Pollution was eventually restricted by government action, not by the workings of the market.

 
At 5/20/2012 4:50 PM, Blogger VangelV said...


Yes, that is correct. You were the one who brought up nuclear power plants as an example of what corporations can do.


Yes I was. It was corporations that created commercial nuclear plants, not the government. The government's first attempt to achieve fission, which is what you brought up, had no way of generating electricity because it was concerned with testing theories developed by individuals working at private institutions to create a bomb.

We cited several sources. Common law is not based exclusively on judicial law, but has deep historical roots, if that is what you mean.

Common law came before legislative law. It was based on the idea that judges discovered law based on natural principles, not interpreted arbitrary laws created by a ruling elite that had a monopoly on the use of force.

Yes, in many primitive societies, such as before the rise of nation-states, justice was sought through elders or wisemen.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_l5ntikaU


Primitive society? Ireland was far more sophisticated and advanced than the rest of Europe, which was suffering from the conflict between monarchs during the Dark Ages.

Now you got it. Pollution was eventually restricted by government action, not by the workings of the market.

No. If you look at the trends you will find that the rates of decreases were steeper before the federal government got into the action. The same can be said for auto safety and various other actions that government tries to take credit for.

 
At 5/21/2012 6:14 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: It was corporations that created commercial nuclear plants, not the government.

Yes, you have restated your tautology. In any case, government invented the nuclear power plant, then worked closely with the business community to develop a nuclear industry, not only because they thought it was a positive good, but because it had advantages for the development of the industrial-military complex, allowing for the economies of scale and the continuing development of infrastructure required for the development of nuclear weapons as well as development of commercial power.

Without government involvement, nuclear power would have take many more years, perhaps decades, before being brought to fruition. Not sure why you continue to deny the obvious.

VangelV: Common law came before legislative law.

Yes, common law is judicial law.

VangelV: Primitive society? Ireland was far more sophisticated and advanced than the rest of Europe, which was suffering from the conflict between monarchs during the Dark Ages.

Ireland was subject to the same endemic warfare as the rest of Europe. As centralized government is a characteristics of modern societies, for good or bad, "primitive" is the proper term, the "an early stage in its historical development".

VangelV: If you look at the trends you will find that the rates of decreases were steeper before the federal government got into the action.

1952: The Great Smog, four thousand dead, 100 thousand sickened.
1956: Clean Air Act.

 
At 5/21/2012 7:31 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, you have restated your tautology. In any case, government invented the nuclear power plant, then worked closely with the business community to develop a nuclear industry, not only because they thought it was a positive good, but because it had advantages for the development of the industrial-military complex, allowing for the economies of scale and the continuing development of infrastructure required for the development of nuclear weapons as well as development of commercial power.

Without government involvement, nuclear power would have take many more years, perhaps decades, before being brought to fruition. Not sure why you continue to deny the obvious.


Government did nothing of the kind. It financed an experiment in which a uranium and graphite pile was able to achieve fission, proving theories developed by people working outside of government. It was not a reactor that could generate any power because its purpose was military. The government went on and developed a nuclear device, something that would not have happened if private individuals did not come up with the necessary theories.

As for the commercial program, it was driven by private companies looking to make a buck. Of course, when the government hands out money to advance some military application or another the companies take it just as civil aircraft makers take money by establishing military divisions that provide them with massive profits that could not be reached in a competitive free market.

Yes, common law is judicial law.

But not government law. Common law and customs law judges were independent of the government. That is the point. As David Friedman, among many, have shown, you do not need government to have the rule of law.

Ireland was subject to the same endemic warfare as the rest of Europe. As centralized government is a characteristics of modern societies, for good or bad, "primitive" is the proper term, the "an early stage in its historical development".

No it was not. From my son't essay we get, "Every Irish land owner, professional, and craftsman was allowed to join a tuath. The tuaths were like insurance companies that competed for members. Instead of a government that had a claim to rule over a territory, Ireland had a system of 80 to 100 voluntary associations that were made up of the properties of their voluntary members." These tuaths had some disagreements and conflicts but these were far fewer than the rest of Europe because voting for war meant personal losses. There was no standing army to feed and no invasions of other countries to gain territory.

And a centralized government is only a sign of totalitarianism. You forget than Hitler's favourite president was Lincoln because the took power from the states and transferred it to Washington. All tyrants try to centralize government in the hands of as few as possible, not exactly what I would call civilized.

 
At 5/21/2012 7:31 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

1952: The Great Smog, four thousand dead, 100 thousand sickened.
1956: Clean Air Act.


You are missing the point. In 1952 London was already under the Smoke Nuisance Abatement Acts (1853 and 1856) and the Public Health Act (1891). Those acts failed to get the result that the regulators wanted.

In the case of the US we saw that emissions were trending down long before the EPA got into the act. One of my favourite economists showed how the EPA does not really care about clean air as much as it does about politics. "The infamous scrubber regulations in the 1977 Clean Air Act, which should win the bootlegger-Baptist award for the 1970s, offer the best illustration of bootleggers benefiting from Baptist-supported, technology-based standards. The statute required costly scrubbers to be installed at all newly constructed coal-fired electric plants, whether or not a particular plant burned dirty coal. Interest groups tied to high-sulfur coal production in the eastern United States celebrated the statute, as did most environmental groups. Miners of western low-sulfur coal, consumers of electricity, and (in some cases) lovers of clean air had no cause for celebration." Essentially, the EPA hurt the producers of high quality low-sulphur coal by forcing all utilities to use scrubbers. Given the expense most plants switched to low-quality dirty coal that produced higher emissions than would be produced by burning clean coal in plants without scrubbers.

We see this around us all the time. The Sierra Club takes money from Aubrey McClendon to beat up on coal because poor Aubrey needs mandates to help his company stay solvent after its bad bets on shale gas failed to produce profits. The Sierra Club looks like heroes fighting big bad coal and wishes to shut down the very plants that the EPA approved of when it demanded the use of scrubbers rather than look to total emissions regardless of the method used to control them.

The EPA and other regulators are just tools for the bootleggers who look to you Baptists for help in doing what they could not do on their own.

 
At 5/21/2012 12:02 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Zachriel: Without government involvement, nuclear power would have take many more years, perhaps decades, before being brought to fruition. Not sure why you continue to deny the obvious.

VangelV: Government did nothing of the kind.

There is no historical doubt that the U.S. government marshalled the resources necessary to produce the first nuclear reactor, including the production of fissionable material. The U.S. government also produced the first electricity-generating nuclear power plant at the National Reactor Testing Station. The U.S. used nuclear power plants on military submarines well before the first U.S. commercial plants. Furthermore, the U.S. government made an overt effort to build the nuclear industry as a component of the Cold War.
https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt/community/inl_history/482

VangelV: As for the commercial program, it was driven by private companies looking to make a buck.

Yes, your tautology remains true. Commercial enterprises are in the business of making money.

VangelV: But not government law.

Common law can be government law, as it is in Britain. Just because laws weren't written doesn't mean they aren't laws.

VangelV: These tuaths had some disagreements and conflicts but these were far fewer than the rest of Europe because voting for war meant personal losses.

They fought all the same wars everyone else did in order to unify larger areas under a single ruler. The annals are full of wars.

VangelV: You are missing the point.

You seem to be missing the point. Markets didn't restrict pollution in Britain, parliament did.

VangelV: In the case of the US we saw that emissions were trending down long before the EPA got into the act.

Smith et al., Anthropogenic Sulfur Dioxide Emissions: 1850-2005, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2011.

 
At 5/21/2012 5:48 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

But there is no doubt that without the work of private individuals none of that would have been possible. Or the fact that commercial power plants were developed by private companies looking to make a buck, not idiot bureucrats setting rules.

Yes, your tautology remains true. Commercial enterprises are in the business of making money.

And government is in the business of taking and spending money to meet political goals.

Common law can be government law, as it is in Britain. Just because laws weren't written doesn't mean they aren't laws.

The law came outside of the government and incorporated arbitrary government rules passed by tyrants who had a military to enforce them. You really should learn a few things rather that repeat the same lines.

They fought all the same wars everyone else did in order to unify larger areas under a single ruler. The annals are full of wars.

They did not. There was never a single king. And kings were elected by the tuath from a pool of suitable candidates. Their function was primarily religious in nature and would lead the army only if the assembly decided on war against another tuath. But that hardly ever happened because war was costly to the membership and if a tuath got aggressive the other 60-80 tuaths were available to keep it in line.

As I wrote, Ireland was a sophisticated society that helped save Western culture during that period. It was quite peaceful. It was a collection of voluntary associations, not a kingdom under a single ruler. Time to hit the history books. But make sure you look at the right ones. There is a lot of crap out there, particularly by the British authors who could not conceive of a land that was not enslaved by a single ruler.

You seem to be missing the point. Markets didn't restrict pollution in Britain, parliament did.


But you yourself showed that Parliament did nothing of the kind. There was Smoke Nuisance Abatement Acts (1853 and 1856) and the Public Health Act (1891) to regulate emissions. Those regulations did not work. And neither did the Clean Air Act of 1956. Air quality improved because the markets gave individuals clean choices and they could finally abandon the use of dirty coal, which was the primary source of pollution.


Smith et al., Anthropogenic Sulfur Dioxide Emissions: 1850-2005, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2011.


Here you go. This tells us the picture. Emissions fell by 40% in the seven years prior to the passage of the Clean Air Act. In the seven years after emissions fell by 24%. I am sorry but no matter how you spin it the before trend looks better.

 
At 5/22/2012 5:57 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: But there is no doubt that without the work of private individuals none of that would have been possible.

Of course!

VangelV: And government is in the business of taking and spending money to meet political goals.

You're right again!

VangelV: There was never a single king.

No, but there were petty kingdoms that attempted to expand, either politically or militarily. The primary political unit was the clan. Again, the annals are full of stories of war, as is the historical period. As for the fluid nature of alliances, that is typical of the Medieval Period, not just in Ireland. Clans and petty kingdoms would use shifting alliances to maintain their independence and increase their power. Thousands of forts have been discovered dating to well before the Viking period.

VangelV: Here you go. This tells us the picture.

Yes, half the states had already passed clean air acts, as well as many large cities.

 
At 5/22/2012 3:49 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

No, but there were petty kingdoms that attempted to expand, either politically or militarily. The primary political unit was the clan. Again, the annals are full of stories of war, as is the historical period. As for the fluid nature of alliances, that is typical of the Medieval Period, not just in Ireland. Clans and petty kingdoms would use shifting alliances to maintain their independence and increase their power. Thousands of forts have been discovered dating to well before the Viking period.

Your ignorance is showing again. A tuath was not a territory with a defined limit. You can join one that is not even located in the area that you live in and three of your neighbours can belong to three different tuaths.

That is the point. There were no kingdoms. The tuaths were voluntary orgnaizations that were like fraternal organizations or mutual aid socieities.

I suggest that you learn instead of make up stories to support a narrative that is not backed up by facts. It is less embarrassing when you learn the truth.

Yes, half the states had already passed clean air acts, as well as many large cities.

The point is that the Clean Air Act did not help reduce pollution. The trend was steeper before it was passed. So why do you need the federal government?

 
At 5/22/2012 6:08 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: A tuath was not a territory with a defined limit.

Not a well-defined territory, but a territory nonetheless, and very typical for the early Middle Ages, and again, the shifting alliances are also typical.

Though there are some advantages of loose political organizations, but they are subject to conquest by more centrally organized neighbors, at least when the terrain is amenable to consolidation. On the other hand, painting it as some sort of Celtic utopia isn't historically justified. They built forts for a reason.

VangelV: The point is that the Clean Air Act did not help reduce pollution.

Sure it did, and does. It simply isn't tenable to suggest that most corporations will refrain from polluting when it will give them a competitive advantage.

 
At 5/23/2012 7:12 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Not a well-defined territory, but a territory nonetheless, and very typical for the early Middle Ages, and again, the shifting alliances are also typical.

It was not a territory at all. As I said, you could have three neighbours belong to three different tuaths at the same time. The unit was a voluntary association that acted like a mutual aid society, not a territorial area with a king as you claim.

And Ireland was not typical at all. There were no warring kings who had absolute power over those that they ruled. The Irish kings were elected once a year and had mostly a ceremonial role in performing religious rites. They had no power to make law and were subject to lawsuits by members that had to be heard by an independent professional judiciary.

Though there are some advantages of loose political organizations, but they are subject to conquest by more centrally organized neighbors, at least when the terrain is amenable to consolidation. On the other hand, painting it as some sort of Celtic utopia isn't historically justified. They built forts for a reason.

You are making crap up again. As I said, the tuaths were voluntary organizations in which members were not bound. There were no 'neigbours' because the same geographical area would have several different such organizations in which the members lived side by side. You keep thinking territory when the system was not set up that way. Ireland was a society without a state.

Sure it did, and does. It simply isn't tenable to suggest that most corporations will refrain from polluting when it will give them a competitive advantage.

It did not show up on the emissions chart that we looked at. The downward trend was steeper before the act was passed than after it was passed. The data does not support your narrative.

 
At 5/23/2012 7:26 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

Encyclopedia: In the distant past the term tuath signified a clan or tribal family. In later times it came to mean a unit of territory namely the ancestral or patrimonial lands of a tribe or tribal grouping. The tuath could be described as the smallest unit of land over which a local taoiseach or clan chief exercised control. In terms of size its closest parallel is the parish.

Dictionary: state also : the territory occupied by a tuath

Wikipedia: Túath (plural túatha) is an Old Irish word, often translated as "people" or "nation". It is cognate with the Welsh and Breton tud (people), and with the Germanic þeudō (for which see theodiscus).
"Túath" referred to both the people who lived in the territory, and the territory they controlled.

Answers: Unit of community in early Irish society, comprising king, aristocracy, and free commoners, but which also acquired a territorial connotation. The individual's rights existed only within his own tuáth, but this could be extended by affiliations of clientship between an entire tuáth and a more powerful overlord.

 
At 5/23/2012 7:30 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: There were no warring kings who had absolute power over those that they ruled.

Which is typical of tribal societies. You do understand that central governments didn't always exist?

VangelV: You are making crap up again.

There were thousands of forts dated from before the Viking era. When was this remarkable period of Celtic utopia?

Zachriel: It simply isn't tenable to suggest that most corporations will refrain from polluting when it will give them a competitive advantage.

You didn't respond to the point raised. If a corporation, or individual, can gain an advantage by not cleaning up their mess (it's nearly always easier to dump your waste products than to purchase the equipment required to scrub your industrial excrement), then what is to prevent them from doing so?

 
At 5/23/2012 8:23 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Encyclopedia:...

This is not exactly correct. As Joseph R. Peden pointed out, "Historians Historians writing about stateless societies have a tendency to use statist terminology and conceptions in describing essentially stateless ideas and institutions. When looking at the situation clearly it helps to avoid the pitfalls.

The Irish polity, the tuath, was, one distinguished modem scholar put it, "the state in swaddling clothes". It existed only in "embryo". "There was no legislature, no bailiffs or police, no public enforcement of justice . . . there was no trace of State administered justice". Certain mythological kings like Cormac mac Airt were reputed to be lawgivers and judges, but turn out to be euhemerized Celtic deities. When the kings appear in the enforcement of justice, they do so through the system of suretyship which was utilized to guarantee the enforcement of contracts and the decisions of the brehon's courts. Or they appear as representatives of the assembly of freemen to contract on their behalf with other fuafha or churchmen. Irish law is essentially brehon's law-and the absence of the State in its creation and development is one of the chief reasons for its importance as an object of our scrutiny.

Got that? Irish law was run without the state. It was private and when the king was being sued he had to go to an independent arbitrator who had no police power to enforce judgments. But the system still enforced judgements through a system of suretyship that was designed to ensure that justice was done.


The basic polity of the ancient Irish was the Tuath. Membership was restricted to Free men who owned land or were members of recognized learned professions, poets, seers, physicians, jurists or clegrymen, or who were skilled craftsmen, millers, metal workers, architects, wood carvers, shipwrights, fishermen, musicians, chariot makers, etc. Excluded were propertyless men, slaves, foreigners, outlaws, and minor artisans. Political actions were undertaken within the annual assembly of all of the Free men; kings were elected or deposed, wars declared, and peace treaties agreed upon, questions of common interest discussed and policies decided. The assembly was the sovereign people acting. The membership of the tuath were not not necessarily bound by ties of kinship, except incidentally. It was not a tribe or clan in the sense of being based on common kinship-real or imaginary. Kinsmen often lived and acted within different Tuatha and individual members could and often did secede, and join another tuath. Also two or more tuatha could and did coalesce into one body.

The tuath is thus a body of persons voluntarily united for socially beneficial purposes and the sum total of the landed properties of its members constituted its territorial dimension.


Let me make it clear that I am not saying that Ireland was free of war. What I am saying is that without standing armies or a military they were minor skirmishes, particularly when we compare them to what was going on in the rest of Europe. As Dr. Peden writes, "without the coercive apparatus of the State which can through taxation and conscription mobilize large amounts of arms and manpower, the Irish were unable to sustain any large scale military force in the field for any length of time. Irish wars . . . were pitiful brawls and cattle raids by European standards."

It is rather sad that my 13-year old son does better research than you do.

 
At 5/23/2012 9:01 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: This is not exactly correct.

All historians are wrong, except for some guy working out of a libertarian think-tank somewhere.

VangelV: Irish law was run without the state.

Yes. That's typical of tribal societies. They were supplanted nearly everywhere by more centralized governments. Would you care to explain why that happened?

You never did answer. The annals talk of war. The early histories talk of war. There are forts that predate the Viking period. When was this Celtic utopia that didn't see war?

 
At 5/23/2012 10:28 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV (quoting): "The tuath is thus a body of persons voluntarily united for socially beneficial purposes and the sum total of the landed properties of its members constituted its territorial dimension."

What page of the linked article do you find that statement?

 
At 5/23/2012 2:23 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

All historians are wrong, except for some guy working out of a libertarian think-tank somewhere.

Most historians do not have a clue rather than some general book that they have read. And everyone has a bias. It is very clear that a statist has a hard time with customs law because he cannot understand how private law systems work in the absence of a state apparatus. And I do not believe that the people that I reference came from any libertarian think thank. They were actual scholars familiar with material that you seem to unaware exists.

Yes. That's typical of tribal societies. They were supplanted nearly everywhere by more centralized governments. Would you care to explain why that happened?

It was not a tribal society. The associations were voluntary and not based on kinship. It was common from members of the same family to belong to different tuatha.

The Irish got conquered because the English kings had huge armies that could be used for conquest. The ancient Irish system lasted nearly 1,000 years.

You never did answer. The annals talk of war. The early histories talk of war. There are forts that predate the Viking period. When was this Celtic utopia that didn't see war?

I never said no war. I said that there were no standing armies to wage wars of conquest. There was no way that the tuatha would permit any one to become so large that it could threaten them. The wars were minor.

What page of the linked article do you find that statement?

I got it from my son's essay. I do not have the bibliography but I am assuming it is from, The Ethics of Liberty, which is one of the books that he used that led him to Binchy, Peden, and the rest of the material.

 
At 5/23/2012 3:25 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Most historians do not have a clue rather than some general book that they have read.

Historians don't primarily work from secondary sources.

VangelV: And I do not believe that the people that I reference came from any libertarian think thank.

You cited Joseph R Peden who was a friend and colleague of Murray Rothbard. His paper was published by the Journal of Libertarian Studies published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. That doesn't mean his opinion doesn't have merit, but it has to be justified by more than his personal biases, such as when he said "Libertarians have often dreamed of escaping the tyranny
of the State."

VangelV: The Irish got conquered because the English kings had huge armies that could be used for conquest.

That wasn't the question. The question is why they were supplanted nearly *everywhere* by more centralized governments. If you mean centralized governments can marshall the resources to raise large armies capable of consolidated power when the terrain is amenable, then that would be a reasonable answer.

VangelV: It was not a tribal society.

Most scholars believe clans were the primary organizing unit. Peden's paper, so sadly overlooked by the vast majority of scholars, doesn't support this claim. Do you have a citation to the primary literature to support it?

 
At 5/23/2012 5:25 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Historians don't primarily work from secondary sources.

The history books are filled with writing that references secondary sources. And say things that are dead wrong. The Indians did not teach the pilgrims to grow corn. Hoover was not a free market advocate. The Civil War was not about slavery. Lincoln was a racist who did not like black people. Calvin Coolidge was not a dolt as the liberal historians say. He was one of the most cultured men to live in the White house and is the last president to write his own speeches.

All those errors would not appear if historians looked at original sources and reported things as they were.

You cited Joseph R Peden who was a friend and colleague of Murray Rothbard. His paper was published by the Journal of Libertarian Studies published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. That doesn't mean his opinion doesn't have merit, but it has to be justified by more than his personal biases, such as when he said "Libertarians have often dreamed of escaping the tyranny
of the State."


But he is citing other authors who are expert in ancient Celtic law. He did not make anything up. He is just explaining it in terms that statists are very uncomfortable with because they cannot conceive of private institutions delivering services like law even though those institutions predate state courts and legislative law.

Celtic law and Celtic life was not what as some of the English historians claimed that it was. After a thousand years of life as free men the Celts did not benefit from being conquered by king that made slaves of his subjects. In fact the conquerors only became great when they learned that lower taxes and a less intrusive government was better.

 
At 5/23/2012 5:31 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

That wasn't the question. The question is why they were supplanted nearly *everywhere* by more centralized governments.

As I wrote, the system did well for more than a thousand years. In fact, Ireland was responsible for saving much of what we know now as Western culture as monks and scholars were allowed to exist undisturbed while the rest of Europe was at war.

If you mean centralized governments can marshall the resources to raise large armies capable of consolidated power when the terrain is amenable, then that would be a reasonable answer.

Free men do not want war because they have to pay for it. A king will rise an army for conquest because he has his subjects pay for it. In modern society, "War is the health of the State," because that is what keeps the elite in power.

 
At 5/23/2012 5:55 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Most scholars believe clans were the primary organizing unit. Peden's paper, so sadly overlooked by the vast majority of scholars, doesn't support this claim. Do you have a citation to the primary literature to support it?

I cited scholarship on ancient Irish law. That scholarship shows that kings did not write laws and were subject to rulings by independent judges. It shows that the tuath were voluntary organizations and were not based on kinship.

So what 'most historians' believe is of little importance. When a king is elected by the organization and when he has no authority to make law you are looking at a very different type of society than the statists are used to. If they try to look at it through a statist lens they will not understand how it could work.

I suggest that you take a look at David Friedman's publications. I have heard him comment on Celtic law that comes up with the same conclusions.

But let me point out here that the Anglo Saxons also had courts that were public assemblies of ordinary men who used customary law to rule on disputes. While I consider some of the practices in these courts barbaric these assemblies did not involve the state and looked at crimes being committed against individuals, not society or the state.

These also used a system of surety as all customs law systems seem to.

I have recommended before Michael van Notten's great little book, The Law of the Somalis before. It briefly deals with the difference between the systems of Medieval and English common law and the statutory laws of the modern state. I suggest you read it. You might learn something.

 
At 5/23/2012 7:08 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: The history books are filled with writing that references secondary sources.

You mean history books for teaching children? They are usually quite out of date and simplified, of course.

VangelV: The Indians did not teach the pilgrims to grow corn.

Tisquantum taught the Pilgrims, who had nearly starved the first winter, native "Three Sisters" agriculture.

VangelV: But he is citing other authors who are expert in ancient Celtic law.

Some things he cites, and some things he doesn't, which we pointed out above.

VangelV: As I wrote, the system did well for more than a thousand years.

Yes, and most of the world lived without central government for tens-of-thousands of years.

VangelV: Free men do not want war because they have to pay for it.

Some free men want war. Where have you been?

VangelV: I cited scholarship on ancient Irish law.

Which we read. Which is why we asked for a citation to support the claim. There's no footnote for the claim.

VangelV: When a king is elected by the organization and when he has no authority to make law you are looking at a very different type of society than the statists are used to.

Yes, that wasn't in dispute. Do you even remember what you're arguing?

 
At 5/23/2012 8:04 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

You mean history books for teaching children? They are usually quite out of date and simplified, of course.

No. I mean history books, period. Most are written by court historians looking to curry favour with the current consensus and the ruling elite. They certainly do not wish to rock the boat by examining facts as they are.

Tisquantum taught the Pilgrims, who had nearly starved the first winter, native "Three Sisters" agriculture.

The Pilgrims knew how to farm already. They were starving because they were trying communal farming where everyone got the same amount of the crop no matter how much or how little work was done.

Since you talk about original sources why not just go to Governor William Bradford's manuscript? We read:

All this whille no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expecte any. So they begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they could, and obtaine a beter crope then they had done, that they might not still thus languish in miserie. At length, after much debate of things, the Govr (with ye advise of ye cheefest amongest them) gave way that they should set corne every man for his owne perticuler, and in that regard trust to themselves."

Got it? When they were trying communal farming the Pilgrims were starving. That was two years after they landed and were supposedly 'taught' by the Indians. So what did they do to fix the bad harvest problem?

"And so assigned to every family a parcell of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use (but made no devission for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some familie. This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means ye Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente. The women now wente willingly into ye feild, and tooke their little-ons with them to set corne, which before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and oppression."

It was not the teaching but the working that made the colony successful after it abandoned communal property and gave each his own plot of land to work. In fact, the colonists wound up trading their surplus corn to the Indians for furs.

This is a perfect illustration of what I am talking about. You are spouting socialist nonsense written by fools with an agenda and ignoring what really happened. The story of the Pilgrims is about success when property rights are respected. Success did not come from altruism or communalism but because each individual tried to do what was best for him/her and his/her fmaily.

 
At 5/23/2012 8:21 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, and most of the world lived without central government for tens-of-thousands of years.

I would not say that. Many societies had thugs who called themselves pharaoh, chief, king, or emperor. If you want great examples look at the best collection of tax stories that you can find, The Bible, and see what happens to the Jews.

Some free men want war. Where have you been?

I live in the real world. Free men in a decentralized system cannot easily convince their fellow men to go to war because most of them do not want to pay for the war or risk their lives. If you want to look at the bloodiest century in absolute numbers, the 20th, you will find that the wars were began by the modern states.

The people did not want to fight. Americans certainly didn't. They elected Wilson and FDR because of promises that they would be kept out of the European wars. And even in the three months after Pearl only 2.4% of the eligible men volunteered to fight. But aren't your historians telling you how eager Americans were to risk their lives against the Japanese and Germans? I guess that they forgot to look at the data or the writing of the day.

Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization

Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath

A Nation of Cowards: The Case of World War II

 
At 5/23/2012 8:26 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Which we read. Which is why we asked for a citation to support the claim. There's no footnote for the claim.

I have provided plenty of material that you can use to find the original scholarship. The people I cite are experts and scholars who write about what they have found. You cite general bits in encyclopaedias that dumb down material and deal in superficiality and what general historians believe.

Yes, that wasn't in dispute. Do you even remember what you're arguing?

I do. You don't seem to follow. Your 'kingdoms' are not what is meant by a kingdom in a world of a central state. I provided you with a view where there was no central state and no state institutions like courts, and police forces. But there was a clear rule of law and a system of surety that ensured that individuals were compensated if they were harmed. A surety would have no interest in creating damage that he would have to pay for.

 
At 5/24/2012 7:19 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Most are written by court historians looking to curry favour with the current consensus and the ruling elite.

How convenient for you. Your position allows you to ignore anything that doesn't comport with your preconceptions, but doesn't make for an argument. There is great deal of valid historical research.

VangelV: The Pilgrims knew how to farm already.

Sure they did, but the grains they planted and techniques they used didn't do well.

VangelV: Since you talk about original sources why not just go to Governor William Bradford's manuscript?

Sure, but that doesn't address the point, whether the Pilgrims learned and adopt companion farming from the natives, which they did.

VangelV: You are spouting socialist nonsense written by fools with an agenda and ignoring what really happened.

The Pilgrims landed in 1620 and nearly starved. They learned the native method of companion planting, and celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621. They didn't apportion land until 1623. This is an opportunity for you to adjust your point of view in the light of new facts.

VangelV: Many societies had thugs who called themselves pharaoh, chief, king, or emperor.

City-states with centralized governments arose about seven thousand years ago (possibly as a response to the need to build irrigation systems and apportion water), and only affected a small portion of the human population. Humans have been around a lot longer than that.

VangelV: Free men in a decentralized system cannot easily convince their fellow men to go to war because most of them do not want to pay for the war or risk their lives.

Well, then free men never existed, because there's always been violent conflict.

VangelV: If you want to look at the bloodiest century in absolute numbers, the 20th, you will find that the wars were began by the modern states.

In absolute numbers, because there's more people. But rates of violence are comparable in even the most primitive societies.

 
At 5/24/2012 8:33 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

How convenient for you. Your position allows you to ignore anything that doesn't comport with your preconceptions, but doesn't make for an argument. There is great deal of valid historical research.

Do not confuse opinion with valid research. As I pointed out, we know about how the Celtic laws worked without a state apparatus. We understand how customs law works. Yet your court historians still use a statist lens when they tell the story.

Sure they did, but the grains they planted and techniques they used didn't do well.

Of course they didn't. They began without private property and tried farming the way that the Chinese under Mao did. And just like the Chinese, when private profits were permitted productivity exploded and they were able to generate enough surplus to sell corn to the Indians, who were less productive.

I cited the actual words written by Governor William Bradford where he explains what happened and why it happened. But because you need to interpret reality through a socialist lens you ignore the material changes with regard to property rights and go with a myth.

Sure, but that doesn't address the point, whether the Pilgrims learned and adopt companion farming from the natives, which they did.

Sure it does. They were farmers. They knew how to farm. When they farmed communally they starved. When they worked their own plots for their own profits they thrived. It does not get any simpler than that.

continued below...

 
At 5/24/2012 8:43 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

The Pilgrims landed in 1620 and nearly starved. They learned the native method of companion planting, and celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621. They didn't apportion land until 1623. This is an opportunity for you to adjust your point of view in the light of new facts.

First of all, the Plymouth colony never had a regular day of thanksgiving. You are probably talking about the harvest festival, something that is common in all agrarian societies.

The problem with your claims is that Bradford records that the harvest in 1621 was not good. Most of the original inhabitants died of disease and starvation and there were only around 50 people left. The harvest was not good in 1622 either. According to Bedford's history people were still hungry and starving in the spring of 1623 when they planted the corn. When he writes about the colony having, “sett aparte a day of thanksgiving,” he is talking about 1623, not 1621.

Once again you get taken in by the court historians who make up stories that are not supported by what was documented at the time. Let me end this part by having the Governor have the last word. When analysing the situation he wrote, The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other.ancients, applauded by some of aater times; -that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, etc., with the meaner and yonger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon the poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in the like condition, and ove as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let pone objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to the course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.

Got it? The common farming methods that were used in England could not produce enough crops to sustain the colony in the New World. Their harvest of corn was poor for two years and only improved when each man was given his own plot to work. That is not a very good story for the socialists who decide which textbooks to buy for the indoctrination of children. So what they do is spin a different narrative. They call a harvest festival in 1621, held after a poor year, the First Thanksgiving even though the Governor talks about a thanksgiving celebration after an abundant crop in 1623. Why let facts get in the way when court historians are so good at spinning narratives.

 
At 5/24/2012 8:50 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

City-states with centralized governments arose about seven thousand years ago (possibly as a response to the need to build irrigation systems and apportion water), and only affected a small portion of the human population. Humans have been around a lot longer than that.

Hunter gatherers do not establish cities and permanent settlements the way that farmers do. You are talking about two different systems that are not compatible.

Well, then free men never existed, because there's always been violent conflict.

Freedom does not mean no conflict. It means that you are not a serf who has to do the bidding of a central authority that can violate your rights.

In absolute numbers, because there's more people. But rates of violence are comparable in even the most primitive societies.

I agree. But most primitive societies do not set out to conquer a massive area the way that modern states do. As I write this there are dozens of US military bases surrounding Iran and an American military presence in more than 120 countries around the world. Only a powerful central government that has the monopoly on money printing can do something like that. In a decentralized system with a free market the voters would not want war because they would have to pay for it out of taxes.

 
At 5/24/2012 11:17 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: As I pointed out, we know about how the Celtic laws worked without a state apparatus.

Yes, as did all humans before states were invented.

VangelV: I cited the actual words written by Governor William Bradford where he explains what happened and why it happened.

As we mentioned, that doesn't address the point.

A letter from Edward Winslow in Plymouth to George Morton in England, dated December 21st, 1621: "We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas. According to the manner of the Indians we manured our ground with herrings (alewives) which we have in great abundance and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase in Indian corn... We have found the Indians very faithful in their Covenant of Peace with us."

Ceci, Squanto and the pilgrims, Society 1990.

VangelV: They were farmers.

Well, no. Most were not farmers. They were coopers and tailors, seamen and weavers, carpenters and blacksmiths, hatters and merchants. Even if they were professional farmers, straight-plow farming and the grains grown in England were inappropriate to the poor, unimproved, rocky soils of Plymouth.

VangelV: You are probably talking about the harvest festival, something that is common in all agrarian societies.

Edward Winslow, re; 1621: "many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

William Bradford, re; 1621: They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty... Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."

VangelV: Most of the original inhabitants died of disease and starvation and there were only around 50 people left.

That was the winter of 1620-21, not after the harvest of 1621.

VangelV: The common farming methods that were used in England could not produce enough crops to sustain the colony in the New World.

That's right.

 
At 5/24/2012 11:20 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Hunter gatherers do not establish cities and permanent settlements the way that farmers do.

Even after the invention of agriculture and villages, most people lived tribally for thousands of years.

 
At 5/24/2012 1:37 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

VangelV: As I pointed out, we know about how the Celtic laws worked without a state apparatus.

Yes, as did all humans before states were invented.


I don't get your point. Are you trying to tell me that all humans had been using a surety system and private law? I would love to see any evidence of that.

As we mentioned, that doesn't address the point.

A letter from Edward Winslow in Plymouth to George Morton in England, dated December 21st, 1621: "We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas. According to the manner of the Indians we manured our ground with herrings (alewives) which we have in great abundance and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase in Indian corn... We have found the Indians very faithful in their Covenant of Peace with us."


Let me be clear about this. I know where the word that you use comes from. But there was no ceremony known as Thanksgiving in the colony in 1621. It was a harvest ceremony very similar to the one that the Indians had and all agrarian societies have. That ceremony takes place whether the crop is good or bad and in 1621 the crop was horrible. Clearly your narrative that the Indians helped the colonists farm did not work out well because both harvests before communal farming was abandoned were terrible. Success only came after each family was provided with its own plot to work.

Well, no. Most were not farmers. They were coopers and tailors, seamen and weavers, carpenters and blacksmiths, hatters and merchants. Even if they were professional farmers, straight-plow farming and the grains grown in England were inappropriate to the poor, unimproved, rocky soils of Plymouth.

Give it a rest. The colony used communal farming as in England and knew how to farm. It did not need some Indians to teach them. And the records are clear. The time they were supposedly taught by the Indians had terrible harvests. The harvest only improved after the colony got rid of communal farming.

William Bradford, re; 1621: They began now to gather in the SMALL harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty... Besides they had about a PECK of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

The problem is that Bedford writes of hunger and famine after that harvest, not plenty. You can't change the first good harvest came in 1623, three years after the Pilgrims landed. I gave you the quotes and provided you with a link where you can check the original material, not some web site that gives you bits and pieces without context.

Thanksgiving was a holiday that was created long after the colonists first arrived. It simply replaced the harvest festival that Europeans and natives alike had been celebrating as all farming societies do. As I said, you can't separate fact from fiction because you don't look at the original material. You depend on narratives written by court historians eager to advance national mythology and cast shadows for those unthinking fools that live in the cave and do not have the courage to go to the light.

 
At 5/24/2012 1:41 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

That was the winter of 1620-21, not after the harvest of 1621.

If you read Bedford you find that the harvest was very poor in both 1621 and 1622. So much for the farming lessons from the Indians.

Even after the invention of agriculture and villages, most people lived tribally for thousands of years.

But there was usually a hereditary king of some kind. Areas that had such a state were easier to conquer because one could take over by gaining control of the ruling apparatus. This is why the Irish resisted English rule for so long. There was no king to take out and rule in his place. To rule Ireland one had to go one tuatha at a time.

 
At 5/24/2012 2:50 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: Are you trying to tell me that all humans had been using a surety system and private law?

All humans societies, no matter how primitive, have rules of conduct and ways to mediate disputes. It's called culture.

VangelV: But there was no ceremony known as Thanksgiving in the colony in 1621.

That wasn't the question. You had claimed that "The Indians did not teach the pilgrims to grow corn."

Edward Winslow: "We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas. According to the manner of the Indians we manured our ground with herrings (alewives) which we have in great abundance and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase in Indian corn."

VangelV: Give it a rest.

You had said, "They were farmers." Most were not.

VangelV: If you read Bedford you find that the harvest was very poor in both 1621 and 1622.

You had said "The problem with your claims is that Bradford records that the harvest in 1621 was not good. Most of the original inhabitants died of disease and starvation and there were only around 50 people left."

That was the winter of 1620-21, not after the harvest of 1621.

William Bradford, re; 1621: Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."

What you keep quoting is from 1623, after the disastrous harvest of 1622. But again, it's irrelevant to your original claim. The Pilgrims can learn Indian horticulture and still be unsuccessful for one reason or another (such as their communalism).

VangelV: But there was usually a hereditary king of some kind.

Agriculture is required for centralized control (the excess production being necessary to maintain the authority class), but does not mandate it. For instance, much of pre-columbian North America was populated by tribal agriculturalists. Eurasia was similar for many thousands of years, even as city-states developed in various localities.

 
At 5/24/2012 8:04 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

All humans societies, no matter how primitive, have rules of conduct and ways to mediate disputes. It's called culture.

Really? What happens if person A from tribe A kills the goat belonging to person B from tribe B? Under customs law there is a process to handle private disputes without the need for tribal policemen or judges. But many regions had no customs law systems, no surety system so issues like that did not get resolved unless someone resorted to violence of the victim took the loss.

That wasn't the question. You had claimed that "The Indians did not teach the pilgrims to grow corn."

Edward Winslow: "We set last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and peas. According to the manner of the Indians we manured our ground with herrings (alewives) which we have in great abundance and take with great ease at our doors. Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase in Indian corn."


But the corn crops failed in 1621 and 1622. The Indians had no material effect. But after communal farming was abandoned the colony crops exploded and the colonists wound up selling corn to the Indians.

The history of the colony is very clear on this point. So stop with the semantics, get rid of the mytology and look at the actual history.

You had said, "They were farmers." Most were not.

They were farmers. They knew how to farm. They farmed communally just as in England so there was no lack of knowledge. And your non-farmers had no problem producing bumper crops once they were given their own plots to work.

The bottom line is that the mythology of harmonious communal living and good times spun by the court historians and taught to our kids is false. The crops failed to produce enough food, not because the Indians did or did not teach the pilgrims to grow corn but because communal farming could not work. To make a go of it the colonists needed to dump their communal ideology and practices, which they did so that the colony could survive.

You had said "The problem with your claims is that Bradford records that the harvest in 1621 was not good. Most of the original inhabitants died of disease and starvation and there were only around 50 people left."

Yes I did. That is what happened. Many people had died and the harvest was very poor. Colonists were constantly hungr. As Bedford so eloquently wrote, "Yet they bore these wants with great patience and allacritie of spirite, and that for so long a time as for the most parte of 2. years; which makes me remember what Peter Martire writs (in magnifying the Spaniards) in his 5. Decade, pag. 208. They (saith he) led a miserable life for 5. days togeather, with the parched graine of maize only, and that not to saturitie; and then eoneluds, that shuch pains, shuch labours, and shuch hunger, he thought none living which is not a Spaniard could have endured."

 
At 5/25/2012 7:00 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: But many regions had no customs law systems, no surety system so issues like that did not get resolved unless someone resorted to violence of the victim took the loss.

"Many"? Even a cursory review of the literature shows customary laws and conflict resolution in tribal societies of India, North America, Central Asia, Africa. Perhaps you could be specific.

VangelV: But the corn crops failed in 1621 and 1622.

VangelV: look at the actual history.

Edward Winslow, 1621: "Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase in Indian corn."

There was no starvation in the winter of 1621-1622, even though the arrival of new immigrants without provisions put stress on the colony's food supply.

VangelV: They were farmers.

http://www.sail1620.org/history/articles/120-pilgrim-trades.html

VangelV: The bottom line is ...

Again, that's not the claim you made.

VangelV: That is what happened. Many people had died and the harvest was very poor.

The Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in December 1620 with a population of about a hundred. Disease reduced their numbers in half by Spring 1621 before they ever planted a crop. The reason they ran short of supplies by May 1622 was due to the new and unprovisioned immigrants.

Bradford, re; May 1622, "Our store of victuals was wholly spent, having lived long before with a bare and short allowance: The reason was, that supply of men before mentioned, which came so unprovided, not landing so much as a barrell of bread or meal for their whole company, but contrariwise received from us for their ships store homeward."

So think about it. They had enough food for 50 of themselves, and with rationing enough for 35 more immigrants, plus enough to re-provision the ships that brought the new immigrants.

In any case, none of this is relevant to your claim, that they did not learn to plant corn from the Indians. We have a direct quote from a contemporary letter which indicates that is exactly what they did.

 
At 5/25/2012 8:28 AM, Blogger VangelV said...


"Many"? Even a cursory review of the literature shows customary laws and conflict resolution in tribal societies of India, North America, Central Asia, Africa. Perhaps you could be specific.


You are missing the point. I am talking about conflict resolution when the individuals belong to different groups. English customs law and Celtic law could handle such situations easily as could a few other systems. But most of the world had no such mechanisms to ensure the rule of law. Keeping the peace within a tribe is not the same thing.

Edward Winslow, 1621: "Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase in Indian corn."

There was no starvation in the winter of 1621-1622, even though the arrival of new immigrants without provisions put stress on the colony's food supply.


The crop failed to produce enough food. I already cited Bedford's history showing that.

VangelV: They were farmers.

http://www.sail1620.org/history/articles/120-pilgrim-trades.html


They practiced communal farming. This means that they had people who knew how to farm. They were not saved by the Indians who taught them to farm. In fact, after they abandoned communal farming the colony was so productive that it sold its surplus production to the Indians, who were clearly not as capable or productive.

Bradford, re; May 1622, "Our store of victuals was wholly spent, having lived long before with a bare and short allowance: The reason was, that supply of men before mentioned, which came so unprovided, not landing so much as a barrell of bread or meal for their whole company, but contrariwise received from us for their ships store homeward."

So think about it. They had enough food for 50 of themselves, and with rationing enough for 35 more immigrants, plus enough to re-provision the ships that brought the new immigrants.

In any case, none of this is relevant to your claim, that they did not learn to plant corn from the Indians. We have a direct quote from a contemporary letter which indicates that is exactly what they did.


What is relevant is the fact that the Thanksgiving myth spun by the court historians is very wrong. The colony did not thrive and was not saved by the Indians. There wasn't enough corn produced in the first two years because the method of farming failed. As Bedford recorded, to save the colony it was decided to allow each family/individual to have their own plot to farm. What produced the prosperity was the recognition of individual property rights and the abandonment of communal farming and communal living. While the Indians did help, they did so as part of trades between the parties. They got their beads and iron knives and the colonists got animal furs, and other goods that were needed when they were needed.

Now you tell me which of your history books teach the story right. In which ones do we hear how the colony almost died off because its communal methods were ineffective in a harsh environment and that prosperity only came when individual property rights were recongnized. To see the modern day equivalent of the Plymouth colony events look to China which was starving under Mao but was producing surpluses when Deng let the farmers keep what grew for themselves.

You won't find that history because the people who select the books want to spin a narrative that favours socialism and the historians have every incentive to play along.

 
At 5/25/2012 9:35 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

VangelV: I am talking about conflict resolution when the individuals belong to different groups.

Yes, tribal customs allows for conflict resolution both within and without the tribe. Again, there is a substantial literature on this, and most anthropologists believe customary law is an intrinsic component of human culture, along with language.

VangelV: The crop failed to produce enough food. I already cited Bedford's history showing that.

And you keep ignoring contrary evidence, from Bradford himself. The harvest was successful, but "the reason" for food shortages was new immigrants putting stress on the colonies provisions. They had to make food for 50 do for 85. You simply repeat yourself without digesting the new information, then divert into a separate discussion.

You had claimed that "The Indians did not teach the pilgrims to grow corn." In fact, the Pilgrims successfully adopted aspects of Indian horticulture, specifically, the planting and fertilization of Indian corn.

You want to make the argument that productivity remained low until the land was divided. Perhaps so, but why would anyone take your arguments seriously when you echo things off libertarian websites without any skepticism or balance, and refuse to listen to contrary evidence?

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home