Saturday, January 2, 2016

Should PETA Merge With The NRA?

Context: The Demand For Defense?


Xero: Why should PETA and the NRA be completely separate entities while the EPA and the DoD should... errr... not be completely separate entities?

Galloism: If PETA and the NRA decided to merge for some reason into a single entity (National Animal Association?  People for the Ethical Treatment of Rifles?) then donations and membership dues to the organization could be separated by that organization's one single board of directors as it sees fit.

Xero: What are the chances that PETA and the NRA would merge?  Why would they ever want to merge?  Can you think of any good reasons why they should merge?  Let's say that you managed to get the leaders of both organizations into the same room.  How would you sell the idea of both organizations merging?

You say that if both PETA and the NRA merged... then donations/dues could be allocated by the new organization's board of directors.  Would you mention this in your pitch to convince both organizations to merge?  Yeah?  And if somebody asked what the benefit would be of only having one board of directors... then how would you respond?   To be clear... you're mentioning this to defend your view that it's beneficial to have congress (one board) allocate everybody's taxes (dues) as it sees fit.  If the government thinks it's a good idea then how could PETA and the NRA not think it's a good idea?

I'm sure that there are plenty members of PETA that secretly want to join the NRA and vice versa.  So I really doubt that even a single member of PETA or the NRA would let their membership lapse if both organizations merged together.  In fact, I'm sure that revenue would skyrocket once they merged.  Hah... no.  Revenue would plummet.  The only way to prevent revenue from plummeting would be to force people to pay their dues.  Actually... the EPA and DoD are merged and people are also forced to pay their "dues"!  Wow!  What a coincidence!

If the EPA and the DOD, and every other government agency, was unbundled then taxes could easily be raised.  People would have no problem paying more money for the public goods that they truly value.  *gasp*!?   Sorry if I blew your mind.  I know that it's a revolutionary concept.

Galloism: You haven't argued that the EPA and DoD should be split into completely separate entities. In order to do that, they would need to be NOT answerable to the president or Congress, collect their own taxes, pass their own laws, etc.

As long as the president is still their executive and they have a single board of directors over both, they are not independent entities.

Xero: Prior to debating with you I never saw the need to argue that the EPA and DoD should be split.  I never saw them as being together in any logical or rational way.  Their products are bundled but the organizations themselves are separate.  The EPA doesn't directly determine how the DoD spends its money and vice versa.

Yes, in a pragmatarian system, the EPA and DoD would have to facilitate payments.  But if the NRA and PETA can handle payments then I'm pretty sure that the EPA and DoD wouldn't have a problem handling payments.  If they did have a problem with such a simple task... then we really shouldn't be giving them our money in the first place.

What do you mean by the EPA and the DoD not being answerable to the president or congress?  In a pragmatarian system the president and congress would still be there.  If the president/congress orders the EPA/DoD to do something stupid... and they do it... then taxpayers would boycott them.  The president can still say "follow me"... whether or not the people respond with "lead the way" depends entirely on how much they value the direction that he wants America to go in.  If he wants America to go to war with Canada for no good reason... then I don't think people would give him or the DoD very much money.  

One of the reasons that markets really work is that most organizations always want more money.  This desire motivates organizations to provide the greatest possible value for consumers.  It's very beneficial for consumers when they are the ones holding the carrot on the stick.  When consumers aren't the ones holding the carrot on a stick... then they have it really rough.  Right now consumers are holding the carrot on the stick in the private sector... but they aren't holding it in the public sector.  Yet you're happy with this arrangement!  As if it doesn't really matter whether or not consumers are the ones holding the carrot on the stick.  So why not have congress hold the carrot on the stick in the private sector as well?  Because... it sure would be a good idea to bundle the NRA and PETA together.

Galloism: You know what's funny about this?

 I went down to Wal-Mart yesterday to get a few things.  I don't like them, but I don't have a hell of a lot of choice when I need something today.  Here's a business that sells medicine, provides automotive repair services, cell phone service, groceries, rifles, and fish.  They also provide basic banking services.  They don't sell rabbits, but they DO sell both guns and animals.

And yet, you don't argue that I should be able to dictate to wal-mart, by division, how they can spend their money.  Why is that?

Edit: Heh heh. Just thought about this further - they sell trees too. Both guns AND trees.

Xero: You're absolutely correct that Walmart sells a very wide variety of products.  In fact, its variety of goods is probably greater than the government's variety of goods.  The difference is... when you're at Walmart surrounded by an incredibly wide variety of goods... you're the one who decides how much of which goods to put into your shopping cart.  You're the one who decides.  You you you you you you.   Markets work because they are all about you.  Markets work because they are based on the premise that your preferences/differences matter.  The alternatives fail because they don't even know how much you like donuts.  If they can't get the supply of donuts rights... then why should we trust them to get the supply of anything really important right?

The alternatives know nothing really specific about you.  This is why public goods are far less diverse than private goods.

Coincidentally, my third favorite liberal, Noah Smith, recently tweeted the following...

Proposal: Economists should replace "bundles" with "backpacks" as the standard term for a collection of goods.

When you go to Walmart... salespeople don't hand you a "backpack" filled with goods and expect you to pay for it.  What would be the point of even going to shop at Walmart when the shopping has already been done for you?  Walmart could simply send your backpack to you.  "Backpack"?  Backpack doesn't really feel right.  Does it?  It feels too small.  Like, you couldn't fit a very big tree or rifle in a backpack.  Like, maybe a bonsai and a pistol.  Although I'm not sure what would be a better term.

Walmart certainly sells bundled items... but Walmart really doesn't choose which goods, bundled or otherwise, go into your shopping cart.  The government, on the other hand, does choose which goods go into your shopping cart.  You get the same bundle as everybody else.

The problem with bundling is that it's hard to replace the individual components.  Imagine if the only way that you could replace your tires was by selling your car.  You'd have to buy a car every time you needed new tires.  That would suck.  But because cars are moderately modular... you can simply replace the tires when you want to without having to replace your entire car.  Clearly it would be pretty stupid for cars to be entirely monolithic.

The reason that we make a lot more progress with markets is because we can easily replace and upgrade individual goods.  I can easily switch to energy saving light bulbs without having to wait a few years to convince you, and the rest of the country, to do so as well.  The freedom that we have to make these marginal improvements ensures that society makes a lot more improvements in a lot less time.

In terms of the NRA... if I'm a member and I have an epiphany about shooting animals for sport... then I can simply replace the NRA with a better organization.  I'm under absolutely no obligation to convince every other member to join me.  The economic term for this is easy "exit".  Exit becomes a lot less easy when you have to convince all the other members to exit with you.  Of course if you could manage to convince all the other members to exit, then you would no longer have a reason to exit.  The NRA would simply remove its support of killing animals for sport.

Easy exit means faster evolution.  When people can easily replace goods and organizations...  then goods and organizations more quickly evolve to meet the rapidly changing and diverse needs of society.  If you have a problem with the NRA... but can't find a better organization... then you can simply start one.  The creation of a new organization would increase the competition for members/dues.  Markets are all about survival of the fittest organizations/goods with "fitness" being defined by consumers.  If it was as easy to start a country as it was to start an organization... then it wouldn't be as inefficient to have "foot voting" as the only selective pressure placed on countries.

Galloism: The fact that you've continuously failed to make a good argument on this forum doesn't mean I'm going to go out and make an argument for you.  A failure on your part does not constitute a need on mine.

Xero: I asked you to make an argument for me?  Errr... I have no problem making my own arguments.  If you don't want to do any homework then don't be shy about it.  Just say, "I don't want to do any homework".

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