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Thread: Can You Disprove the Free-rider Problem?

  1. #1

    Default Can You Disprove the Free-rider Problem?

    Wikipedia is easily the most efficient/effective way to help people learn about economics. Whenever somebody does a search for an economic term...it is usually the first result.

    For a while now I've been creating entries and contributing to entries that can help people learn about libertarian economics. The problem is...I'm really the only one currently doing so.

    It hasn't really bothered me enough to say anything about it...but I've recently run into a couple editors that have absolutely no interest in reliable sources. To make a long story short...I've been blocked for a week.

    Wikipedia is based on consensus...aka democracy...and right now it's two against one. So, here are the two ways that you can help disprove the free-rider problem:

    1. Register at Wikipedia and give me a hand improving the entries that are relevant to libertarian economics
    2. Let me know if you're doing something that is more efficient/effective

    One of the incompetent editors is now gunning for the entry that I created for legal plunder. I think that the idea of legal plunder is something that everybody should thoroughly understand...don't you?

    If you have any questions about how Wikipedia works...or doesn't work...then I'll be happy to try and answer them. Basically, everything you contribute should be supported by a reliable source. You don't necessarily have to mention the source when you make a contribution...but you do need to be able to do so should somebody challenge your edit.



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  3. #2

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    Good idea.

    But what does the thread title have to do with this?
    I’m not a libertarian. I’m not advocating everyone run around with no clothes on and smoke pot.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by erowe1 View Post
    Good idea.

    But what does the thread title have to do with this?
    1. We all agree that Wikipedia can help people learn about libertarian economics
    2. We all agree that the more people that understand libertarian economics...the more we'll all benefit
    3. Will members of the Ron Paul forum contribute to the Wikipedia entries on libertarian economics?
    4. If yes, then it will help disprove the free-rider problem
    5. If no, then it will help prove the free-rider problem

  5. #4

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    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
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  6. #5
    Member Keith and stuff's Avatar
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    No, you cannot prove that the free-rider problem doesn't exist. Look at food stamps. Look at SSDI. Look at unemployment. Most of the people I know on unemployment, milk it. In fact, the government designed the program to be milked. That's why there has been extension after extension after extension. Some people can make more money on unemployment than if they had a couple part-time jobs. So they decide to be free riders. Some people don't even bother looking for a job. They have seasonal unemployment. They go on it for 2-3 months every year than go back to their job when it starts up again. They are free riders.

    This is a very common problem with government welfare. The best way to improve the issue is to make qualifications for welfare stricter and the amount of time you are allowed to be on shorter. As long as government welfare exists, the issue will never be solved.
    Lifetime member of more than 1 national gun organization and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Part of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty. Free State Project participant and multi-year Free Talk Live AMPlifier.

  7. #6

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    LOL free rider problem. One merely needs to look at free to play games to understand that here is no such thing.
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  8. #7

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    Why do you need to "disprove" the free-rider problem?

    You cannot disprove it, because it is real and does exist. There are free-riders in any system and that fact does not change the liberty argument one bit, in fact it may actually be beneficial as less government = less opportunity to ride for free.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by CT4Liberty View Post
    Why do you need to "disprove" the free-rider problem?

    You cannot disprove it, because it is real and does exist. There are free-riders in any system and that fact does not change the liberty argument one bit, in fact it may actually be beneficial as less government = less opportunity to ride for free.
    Well yea, that's exactly what I meant. Freeriding in games exist but games figured out how to monetize that. I'm playing World of Tanks, a free to play game and yet the company is getting massive amounts of money and doing extremely well because some players decide to spend some money on extra goodies that aren't available to everyone. And I'm pretty sure this can be applied to any freerider problem there is.
    Last edited by hazek; 01-01-2013 at 10:32 AM.
    My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right, tend to be unwilling or unable to accept blame )

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by CT4Liberty View Post
    Why do you need to "disprove" the free-rider problem?

    You cannot disprove it, because it is real and does exist. There are free-riders in any system and that fact does not change the liberty argument one bit, in fact it may actually be beneficial as less government = less opportunity to ride for free.
    What's the liberty argument?

  11. #10
    Member awake's Avatar
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    The "Free rider" is simply the "free man". It goes like this: To provide effective governemnt services everyone must be enslaved by taxation lest one man be able to enjoy his god given liberty and spend as he wishes.

    Free riders don't exist in the private market - just people are allowed to ride free in some circumstances.

    The 'Free rider argument is just another bone headed argument for those who love slavery to use to apologize for themselves.

  12. #11

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wesker1982 View Post
    For everybody who doesn't have me on their ignore list... here are the steps...

    1. Read the essay Wesker shared.
    2. Pick out the "treasures"...for example...

    If there is one well-established truth in political economy, it is this: That in all cases, for all commodities that serve to provide for the tangible or intangible need of the consumer, it is in the consumer's best interest that labor and trade remain free, because the freedom of labor and trade have as their necessary and permanent result the maximum reduction of price. And this: That the interests of the consumer of any commodity whatsoever should always prevail over the interests of the producer. Now, in pursuing these principles, one arrives at this rigorous conclusion: That the production of security should in the interest of consumers of this intangible commodity, remain subject to the law of free competition. Whence it follows: That no government should have the right to prevent another government from going into competition with it, or require consumers of security to come exclusively to it for this commodity. - Gustave de Molinari
    3. Decide which Wikipedia entries this is relevant to.
    4. Determine if it's already been integrated into the relevant entries
    5. If it hasn't, then determine the best way to integrate it
    6. The easiest way is to just copy and paste the entire passage into an entry.

    I think the first time that I just copy and pasted an entire passage was for the Wikipedia entry on foot voting. I added the passages by Friedman and Ebenstein (on Hayek)

    Wikipedia was inspired by Hayek's essay on decentralized knowledge. I found and added every single one of the passages in that entry...and I've done the same thing for numerous other entries.

    How many "treasures" are out there? How many "treasures" can one person find on their own? We all really love liberty...therefore we all really love arguments for liberty...therefore...everyday we should be as enthusiastic to find these treasures as kids are hunting for Easter Eggs. We should all have "gold fever". Let's find all the "treasures" that support the liberty argument and figure out how to get them into Wikipedia.

    Are all treasures created equal? Obviously not. When it comes to actual economics...Buchanan is far more "precious" than Hoppe... Why markets do not fail. Buchanan on voluntary cooperation and externalities
    Last edited by Xerographica; 01-01-2013 at 02:11 PM.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by awake View Post
    The "Free rider" is simply the "free man". It goes like this: To provide effective governemnt services everyone must be enslaved by taxation lest one man be able to enjoy his god given liberty and spend as he wishes.

    Free riders don't exist in the private market - just people are allowed to ride free in some circumstances.

    The 'Free rider argument is just another bone headed argument for those who love slavery to use to apologize for themselves.
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  15. #14

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    The problem does exist, you can't disprove it. One could come up with countless examples of free rider problems. In fact, most products and services are not completely excludable or rival.

    The "libertarian" position would be that while it's true that the additional costs required to exclude non-payers from specific products or services can result in a "non-optimal" supply of these goods (aka free rider problem), it is in no way guaranteed that the government is able to reach the pareto-optimal level. Typically "market-failures" are put in contrast with benevolent, omnipotent and omniscent entities who could reach "Pareto optimas" by force if they wanted to. This is of course absolutely not applicable for practical political uses (for a wide number of socio-economic reasons governments are neither all-knowing nor benevolent and they themselves create costs).

    It's also important to realize that there is no "libertarian economics". There is only economics. Real economics, understood as a the study of human action in regards with scarce resources, is a positive science and does not make any normative value judgements. It just describes what is. Therefore there cannot be several economics that are equally true, there is just real economics and the rest. And the free rider problem evidently does exist and does lead to economic inefficiency. The economic counter-argument is that the alternative, real-life government, is just as inefficient, if not more.

    The political, normative counter-argument would be, that economic inefficiency doesn't give any government the right to intervene. But that has nothing to do with the fact that those inefficiencies do exist.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danan View Post
    It's also important to realize that there is no "libertarian economics". There is only economics. Real economics, understood as a the study of human action in regards with scarce resources, is a positive science and does not make any normative value judgements. It just describes what is. Therefore there cannot be several economics that are equally true, there is just real economics and the rest. And the free rider problem evidently does exist and does lead to economic inefficiency. The economic counter-argument is that the alternative, real-life government, is just as inefficient, if not more.

    The political, normative counter-argument would be, that economic inefficiency doesn't give any government the right to intervene. But that has nothing to do with the fact that those inefficiencies do exist.
    The very concept of economic "inefficiency" (however defined) is necessarily pregnant with normative implications. Those implications will be rife with positive considerations - considerations which will, in their own turn, bear further normative implications, and so forth. While the separation of the positive from the normative can be achieved to some degree (and economists are well-advised to attempt to maximize the degree of separation), when it comes to human action, the simple fact is that, ultimately, the two cannot be entirely disentangled. It just isn't possible, any more than it is possible to wholly separate considerations of "ends" from considerations of "means" - each necessarily implies and involves the other. To put it another way, it can be useful & productive (for theoretical purposes) to conceptually separate the yolk from the white when studying an omelet - but omelets as they actually exist cannot be unscrambled ...
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  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xerographica View Post
    Wikipedia is easily the most efficient/effective way to help people learn about economics. Whenever somebody does a search for an economic term...it is usually the first result.
    Anyone can edit wiki. Doesn't mean the person editing is correct in their own perception about what they write there. Is almost a full time job coming behind those who make a hobby of it. Which reminds me. I've been meaning to check on a few specific pages.
    Last edited by Natural Citizen; 01-01-2013 at 05:41 PM.
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  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xerographica View Post
    1. We all agree that Wikipedia can help people learn about libertarian economics
    2. We all agree that the more people that understand libertarian economics...the more we'll all benefit
    3. Will members of the Ron Paul forum contribute to the Wikipedia entries on libertarian economics?
    4. If yes, then it will help disprove the free-rider problem
    5. If no, then it will help prove the free-rider problem
    But can we all agree that your economics are libertarian economics? That would be the rub.

    I can't say I've seen any of your economics that I considered particularly libertarian. If nothing else, libertarians generally pride themselves on arguing stuff that is proven, well thought out, and liable to actually work.
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  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by acptulsa View Post
    But can we all agree that your economics are libertarian economics? That would be the rub.

    I can't say I've seen any of your economics that I considered particularly libertarian. If nothing else, libertarians generally pride themselves on arguing stuff that is proven, well thought out, and liable to actually work.
    Your argument would have been a lot stronger if you had actually been able to specify exactly which economic concepts are absent from my own. Feel free to try again.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danan View Post
    It's also important to realize that there is no "libertarian economics". There is only economics. Real economics, understood as a the study of human action in regards with scarce resources, is a positive science and does not make any normative value judgements. It just describes what is. Therefore there cannot be several economics that are equally true, there is just real economics and the rest. And the free rider problem evidently does exist and does lead to economic inefficiency. The economic counter-argument is that the alternative, real-life government, is just as inefficient, if not more.
    There are market (libertarian) economics and non sequitur (planned/command) economics. The first one works because your preferences do matter and the second one fails because your preferences do not matter.

    Read read read the debate between Samuelson and Buchanan...

    Why markets do not fail. Buchanan on voluntary cooperation and externalities

    The government would work just fine if taxpayers were given the freedom to demonstrate their preferences with their tax dollars.





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