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Post 40

Thursday, January 30, 2003 - 1:37pmSanction this postReply
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I don't believe what I have stumbled across - a bunch of wealthy, American relatively uneducated males I am assuming! I use public libraries all the time and so do my children - we would be nowhere near where we are today without public libraries. The libertarian motto is clearly 'per ardua asbestos' or 'B*gg*r you Jack, I am fireproof' as my father used to say. If *you* have money, and your kids (if you have any, most libertarians don't I've noticed) are okay, you don't care about the education of anyone else's children - or the elderly, disabled or immigrant people who use the library the most!
Charming attitude.

Post 41

Thursday, January 30, 2003 - 6:53pmSanction this postReply
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"Charming attitude."

Wanting to steal money from honest citizens in order to save yourself the slight cost of a higher-quality private library is a charming attitude too, state-lover.

And I am a poor, educated male. You, on the other hand, are obviously a frustrated statist.

Post 42

Monday, February 10, 2003 - 4:29pmSanction this postReply
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I think the ideas about HOW to run a public library have gone down the wrong path in the above posts. Because of similarities to a "video library" it is assumed that a book library would work best under a similar system.

I would like to suggest that a more viable way to run it would be using the gym system. A monthly, yearly? (whatever) joining fee would be paid and this would allow the member to use any of the facilities for that period.

I can not see myself paying $5 to hire a book - but I can see myself paying $200 a year (or whatever) to have unlimitted access to the library (or chain of libraries if that is how it worked out)

(yes I know you can pay to use a gym for just one day ...perhaps that could be an option - but if it was the only option I can not see private libraries working)

Comments,

Max Whitaker.
(mwtoo@hotmail.com)

Post 43

Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 12:17amSanction this postReply
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I was thinking along the same lines Max.

That's the beauty of private enterprise: entrepreneurs deliver quality, quantity and variety to satisfy the needs of consumers.

Here's an interesting article from www.mises.org on the wonders of the public library system:

http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=1154

Post 44

Friday, August 1, 2003 - 8:34pmSanction this postReply
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You guys are Nazis.

Post 45

Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 12:11amSanction this postReply
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Just for your info, 'jjj', the Nazis in fact had one of the most comprehensive welfare states of the time. So to call people who are *opposed* to a welfare state 'Nazis' is just plain silly.

You also seem to have overlooked the rather important fact that the Nazis believed in a totalitarian state, whereas Objectivists oppose *all* initiation of force against the individual.

You did manage to get your spelling right, though.

Post 46

Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:02amSanction this postReply
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JJJ: You guys are Nazis.

Does this kind of posting achieve any productive purpose? Do you have anything to contribute regardless of whether you agree or not? If not, then shut up and quit wasting everyone else's time.

Pianoman

P.S. I eat trolls for lunch!

Post 47

Friday, October 24, 2003 - 11:18amSanction this postReply
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This is a fascinating discussion. At the outset, I was adamantly opposed to the author's opinion that the state should not provide public libraries.

However, after reading through some of the comments, the one that stuck out most in my mind was, 'I don't buy into any of the collectivist crap, i.e. "Shame on you for trying to milk the system!" '

My understanding is that one of the principles listed on this site is that fraud is an initation of force: http://solohq.com/Objectivism101/Politics_Fraud.shtml
This suggests that milking the system is wrong because it violates the principle of exchange.

I think the author has a good point in that most public libraries are poorly run. Why do they charge the same fine for late fees and lost books regardless of the original price of the book? Wouldn't it make more sense to charge a late fee of 1% per day (a $10 book would be 10 cents and a $100 book would be $1)? Also, if a book is lost, the borrower should be charged at least the replacement cost. I remember in high-school a friend borrowed a brand-new book from the library and never intended to return it because the book cost $15 and the lost book charge was only $10.

At the time, my thinking was along the lines of
"Shame on you for trying to milk the system!"
However, instead of getting all moralistic, the simple solution would have been to make the lost book fine equal to 150% of the price of the book.

I'm still not completely convinced that libraries should be private. I have concerns that a private library would exclude people based on affordability, but perhaps those concerns are over-blown. Maybe a private system that offered a couple of rentals a month for free, stiff fines as outlined above and really great customer service would work. I think that even public libraries could make extra money by offering some sort of research service for a fee, but I'm not sure how that could be structured.

I look forward to hearing more about how to restructure public libraries to actually serve the public...

Post 48

Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 11:12amSanction this postReply
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Regarding the claim that private businesses in a free market generally don't run out goods heavily in demand, I can tell that Mr. Landauer has never worked in the hospitality industry. For the past 10 days in the resort I manage, about an hour north of Phoenix, Arizona, I have had to turn away several times as many people as I could accommodate. (Apparently Valentine's Day has turned into Valentine's Week!) In the summer this entire market (within a 30m/50km radius of Prescott) rents all available rooms most nights of the week, to the disappointment of visitors who can't find lodging. I don't see how this differs from the contraints public libraries have to manage.

Post 49

Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 11:26amSanction this postReply
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And regarding the canard about the state uses guns to support public libraries -- what planet do you live on? In the U.S., private citizens with guns pose a much greater threat to your life than armed agents of the government. Despite all the bad-mouthing European countries receive about their social welfare provisions, they display a much higher regard for human life because they have abolished the death penalty and they restrict firearms ownership. Even their "droogs" behave themselves better than the ones in the U.S.. The rioters in France a few months back killed only a handful of people, whereas similar disorders in the U.S., like L.A.'s Rodney King riots in 1992, can rack up scores of murder victims.

No, if you really want to have a government agent with a gun show up and threaten you, just cause a disturbance at, or try to defraud, the privately-owned resort I run. I'll introduce you to a couple of Yavapai County's shaved-headed young deputees. You see, in my reality people with guns make sure that you pay the money you owe us and that you don't damage the property.


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Post 50

Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 12:31amSanction this postReply
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Regarding the claim that private businesses in a free market generally don't run out of goods heavily in demand, I can tell that Mr. Landauer has never worked in the hospitality industry. For the past 10 days in the resort I manage, about an hour north of Phoenix, Arizona, I have had to turn away several times as many people as I could accommodate. (Apparently Valentine's Day has turned into Valentine's Week!) In the summer this entire market (within a 30m/50km radius of Prescott) rents all available rooms most nights of the week, to the disappointment of visitors who can't find lodging. I don't see how this differs from the contraints public libraries have to manage.
It can happen in private industry, especially when seasonal changes in demand are unanticipated, but in a free-market the incentives work against it. What happens in a private business when there is an unanticipated increase in demand is that the quantity demanded at the old price now exceeds the quantity supplied at that price, creating a temporary shortage. The response of the supplier is then to raise the price for future purchases of the good or service, because he can how sell all he wants at a higher price. As he raises the price, the quantity demanded will fall until the price rises high enough to eliminate the shortage by reducing the quantity demanded to equality with the quantity supplied. In hotels and lodging services, where the demand is seasonal, this can only be accomplished by an accurate forecasting of future demand based on past experience combined with statistical forecasting techniques. Such forecasting is not infallible, of course, but there are strong incentives for finding the best way of anticipating it. If there is strong evidence of a permanent rise in the demand for hotel services during holiday seasons, there will be a profit incentive to build new hotels to accommodate the increase in seasonal demand, with a resulting fall in the average price of accommodations. These kinds of price and profit incentives do not exist in public sector, non-profit industries, which is why they tend to be run less efficiently and to operate at a loss.

In general, where seasonal variations are not a major factor affecting changes in demand and where an increase in demand can be accommodated fairly quickly by an increase in supply, temporary shortages are rare to non-existent. In all cases, profits are strong motivators for discovering better and more efficient ways of predicting demand and of accommodating it.

- Bill

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Post 51

Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 1:49amSanction this postReply
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And regarding the canard about the state uses guns to support public libraries -- what planet do you live on? In the U.S., private citizens with guns pose a much greater threat to your life than armed agents of the government.
The point is that if you don't pay your taxes, you go to jail. How do you think the police enforce the law? They do it with, guess what? -- guns. There is no difference between a robber who steals your money against your will and the government who taxes you -- no difference between a kidnapper who abducts your children and the selective slavery system that inducts them into the army via military conscription. In both cases, the victim is being coerced against his will. In a private business transaction, by contrast, the exchange of money for goods or services is voluntary. If you don't choose the goods or services, you're free not to buy them, in which case, you don't have to pay for them. Under taxation or military conscription, you're not free to refuse. If you do, you go to jail. No private business can put you in jail for refusing to pay for its products if you don't want them. Private citizens are prevented by law from using physical force to obtain benefits from others against their will; it is only the government that has that prerogative in this country (or in any country). Moreover, the government in this country commits theft on a far grander scale and to a far greater extent than private thieves ever could.

As for private citizens with guns being a greater threat to your life than the government, tell that to all the conscripts who died in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. You might also consider reading Rummel's book Death by Government, which chronicles the staggering amount of mass murder of innocent people by governments throughout recorded history. Moreover, much of the violent crime that exists today is due to the drug laws already enforced by the government, which fosters criminal gangs peddling narcotics and engaging in violent turf wars to defend their underground businesses. If drugs were legal, they would be sold like alcohol and cigarettes are today; there would be little or no crime associated with their sale and distribution. Besides, it is only private criminals with guns, not law-abiding citizens who own them, that pose a threat to your life. And it's the government's laws against gun ownership that make these criminals all the more dangerous, because they know that law-abiding citizens are defenseless against them. John Lott's work in this area shows that the more concealed weapons private citizens are permitted to carry, generally the less crime there is, because potential criminals are deterred by the knowledge that their would-be victims could very well be in possession of defensive weapons. You can dispute this if you want, but the evidence supports it, especially for home-invasion robberies. The crime in Britain these days is out of control due to the strict laws against weapons possession. When weapons are outlawed, only outlaws will have possess them. It's a conservative cliche, but it's true. Also, a lot of crime is cultural. For example, blacks and Hispanics exhibit higher crime rates than whites, and whites, higher crime rates than Asians. But for any given ethnic group, crime rates tend to be lower when private citizens are permitted gun ownership and the right to carry concealed weapons. Black inner-city crime is lowest in those areas where residents are permitted to carry guns, and highest where they are not.
No, if you really want to have a government agent with a gun show up and threaten you, just cause a disturbance at, or try to defraud, the privately-owned resort I run. I'll introduce you to a couple of Yavapai County's shaved-headed young deputees. You see, in my reality people with guns make sure that you pay the money you owe us and that you don't damage the property.
The point was not that all use of force is bad, but that the initiation of force against innocent people is. If someone has already initiated force or fraud (which is a form of force -- of gaining a value without the voluntary consent of the owner), then the police have a right to use force against him, to arrest him and put him in jail. That's not what is being objected to here. What is being objected to are acts of government force that do not involve the defense of people's rights, e.g., taxation, conscription, eminent domain, anti-abortion laws, drug laws, or any laws forbidding acts between consenting adults. All such laws are enforced at the point of a gun against innocent people who have harmed no one. The government doesn't give you the option of choosing whether or not to obey its laws. If you don't obey them, you will be forced to pay a fine or you go to jail. Government is force, and it is overwhelming force. Private citizens are no match for it. And those who worship the government's aggressive use of force to rob, plunder and enslave its citizens and to deny them their civil rights, such as the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th amendments to the Constitution (the long-forgotten Bill of Rights) should be ashamed of themselves. Today, we have ceded the moral high ground to this amoral leviathan, so brain-washed have we become! It's disgusting!

- Bill

Post 52

Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 8:50amSanction this postReply
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I just stumbled across this article. I think that you are missing a major point in your argument: Intellectual property is not real property! It is a government invention, intended to encourage the creation of new works.

Once the government is involved, the free market is straight out the window. If you accept IP, then why wouldn't you accept the government libraries to house it?

I'd be more inclined to agree with you if the library was housing real property like free cars that you could borrow, or free hotel rooms. But all they have are items in which the value is already grossly distorted by government policy.

Post 53

Saturday, May 17, 2008 - 10:01amSanction this postReply
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I just stumbled across this article. I think that you are missing a major point in your argument: Intellectual property is not real property! It is a government invention, intended to encourage the creation of new works.
Advocates of intellectual property would not say that it's a "government invention" intended to encourage the creation of new works. They'd say that it's a moral principle whose function is to encourage the creation of new works. Human life and its values depend on production. The purpose of morality is to support human life and its values. Therefore, moral principles, including the principle of rights, are intended to serve that purpose.

There is nothing wrong with the government's defending the principle of rights. That, in fact, is the purpose of government. But the government doesn't create or invent rights; it simply recognizes and enforces them.
Once the government is involved, the free market is straight out the window. If you accept IP, then why wouldn't you accept the government libraries to house it?
The answer is because public libraries exist at taxpayer expense, and taxation is a violation of property rights -- the right of the producer to the product of his effort. But government involvement does not require the violation of rights. The government can and should exist to protect and defend rights -- to protect and defend the free market.
I'd be more inclined to agree with you if the library was housing real property like free cars that you could borrow, or free hotel rooms. But all they have are items in which the value is already grossly distorted by government policy.
Even if I accept your premise, your argument doesn't follow. What you are borrowing from a library is not the right to the author's intellectual property, but simply the right to use a physical item -- a particular book -- for a certain period of time.

- Bill

Post 54

Sunday, May 18, 2008 - 8:08pmSanction this postReply
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They'd say that it's a moral principle whose function is to encourage the creation of new works.

They can argue that if they want, but the US Constitution gives the following reason:
"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"
See that "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" bit? Notice they didn't say anything about morals. People playing music or reading books were not immoral prior to the invention of copyright, and there's nothing immoral about whistling the tune of your favorite song, even though you are brazenly using someone's IP by doing so.
Human life and its values depend on production.

Yes, but human life most certainly does NOT depend on the commercial production of fiction. Life would go on without Harry Potter.
There is nothing wrong with the government's defending the principle of rights. That, in fact, is the purpose of government. But the government doesn't create or invent rights; it simply recognizes and enforces them.

A right that is not a natural right by definition is invented. Patents are very artificial, and positively invented. If this weren't the case, then why do they expire? Surely a moral wouldn't expire? Natural rights don't have arbitrary expiration dates.
The answer is because public libraries exist at taxpayer expense

So does the copyright office and the patent office. Necessary, by the way, to enforce this invented "right". Without government, there would be no way to enforce IP. Even WITH government support, it is exceedingly difficult.
Even if I accept your premise, your argument doesn't follow. What you are borrowing from a library is not the right to the author's intellectual property, but simply the right to use a physical item -- a particular book -- for a certain period of time.

Oh, really? So I can borrow the book and copy it, then return it? Because if the library were loaning out JUST a physical item, that's exactly what I could do. You are right - I most certainly AM borrowing the physical item, but copyright law makes the physical item equivalent to the IP contained in the item. Because of copyright, the only way (by default) to "possess" an idea is to possess a physical item. In a world without government, they would be independent. Further, you can go to the library online and "borrow" an electronic copy of an item. The library actually keeps track of how many "copies" are "out" at a time, and only lets you listen if there is a "copy" available. It's completely ludicrous on the surface, and only makes sense in the context of copyright law.

I'm not against copyright, mind you - though I think the current terms are too long, and we should consider only applying copyright to commercial uses. That aside, I was simply commenting on the original articles strange defense of a whole artificial, government-created IP economy and then deride another government institution simply for "interfering" with the artificial economy!


Post 55

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - 8:06pmSanction this postReply
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I wrote, "They'd say that it's a moral principle whose function is to encourage the creation of new works."

CL replied,
They can argue that if they want, but the US Constitution gives the following reason: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

See that "to promote the progress of science and useful arts" bit? Notice they didn't say anything about morals.
You misunderstand what I mean by a "moral principle." A principle designed to promote the progress of science and useful arts, IS effectively a moral principle, according to Objectivism.
People playing music or reading books were not immoral prior to the invention of copyright, and there's nothing immoral about whistling the tune of your favorite song, even though you are brazenly using someone's IP by doing so.
Last time I checked there was no intellectual-property-rights prohibition against playing music or reading books. The prohibition was against reproducing them without the writer's permission.

"Human life and its values depend on production."
Yes, but human life most certainly does NOT depend on the commercial production of fiction. Life would go on without Harry Potter.
I said "human life AND ITS VALUES depend on production."

"There is nothing wrong with the government's defending the principle of rights. That, in fact, is the purpose of government. But the government doesn't create or invent rights; it simply recognizes and enforces them."
A right that is not a natural right by definition is invented. Patents are very artificial, and positively invented. If this weren't the case, then why do they expire? Surely a moral wouldn't expire? Natural rights don't have arbitrary expiration dates.
Good point, CL!

"The answer is because public libraries exist at taxpayer expense."
So does the copyright office and the patent office.
Okay, but, according to Objectivism, government financing should be voluntary and not funded by coercive taxation. Also, according to Objectivism, the only proper function of government is defense of one's rights. The copyright office and the patent office are there to defend one's intellectual property rights. Public libraries are not a proper function of government.

"Even if I accept your premise, your argument doesn't follow. What you are borrowing from a library is not the right to the author's intellectual property, but simply the right to use a physical item -- a particular book -- for a certain period of time."
Oh, really? So I can borrow the book and copy it, then return it? Because if the library were loaning out JUST a physical item, that's exactly what I could do.
Well, it's loaning out a physical item subject to certain conditions. If I rent a car from AVIS, I can't paint it a different color; I'm subject to certain conditions of use that are set by the company. The same is true of a library. Even if there were no intellectual property rights mandated by the government, a library could still set conditions on the use of its property, which would include not copying the book that you're borrowing.
You are right - I most certainly AM borrowing the physical item, but copyright law makes the physical item equivalent to the IP contained in the item. Because of copyright, the only way (by default) to "possess" an idea is to possess a physical item. In a world without government, they would be independent. Further, you can go to the library online and "borrow" an electronic copy of an item. The library actually keeps track of how many "copies" are "out" at a time, and only lets you listen if there is a "copy" available. It's completely ludicrous on the surface, and only makes sense in the context of copyright law.
If libraries were privately owned, they would be loaning out their materials for a price in order to make a profit, so they would quite naturally prohibit duplication by the borrowers, and would place other limitations on the use of their property.
I'm not against copyright, mind you - though I think the current terms are too long, and we should consider only applying copyright to commercial uses. That aside, I was simply commenting on the original articles strange defense of a whole artificial, government-created IP economy and then deride another government institution simply for "interfering" with the artificial economy!
Look, the Objectivist view of government is quite clear. Government exists to defend people's rights; nothing more. Besides, the free market works a lot better than government-run services. The only reason Objectivism doesn't favor anarchism is that the latter permits conflicting legal codes, which would create a politically unstable society and the potential for violent conflict between competing law enforcement agencies that are defending incompatible laws within the same legal jurisdiction.

- Bill



(Edited by William Dwyer on 5/21, 8:10pm)


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Post 56

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - 5:25pmSanction this postReply
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Here are a few examples of the best of San Francisco at its worst.

Finding books in the library is easy: There are logical, organized systems in place. Finding where the money to build libraries went that's hard. Last year, the Civil Grand Jury could not find we reiterate, could not find up-to-date budget numbers for the city's Branch Library Improvement Program. The numbers that were available aren't pretty: Voters approved a $106 million bond in 2000 to rebuild 19 libraries, and $28 million more was ponied up by the state and private donors. That money was spent without a coherent building plan being formulated between the Library Commission and Department of Public Works leading to such large cost overruns and long delays that the commission abandoned five of the projects. In 2007, the city went back to the voters, asking for another $50 million for libraries without publicizing that this would fund the five unfinished projects voters had already paid for. Voters approved it. After all, who doesn't like libraries?


From: http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-u-s/1

Post 57

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - 5:36pmSanction this postReply
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A friend says that except for the junkies shooting up on the sidewalk and the naked raving lunatics running down the street screaming San Francisco is the loveliest city on Earth.

Post 58

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 8:03amSanction this postReply
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I don't believe the free market is the solution to everything.  Should police and fire service be profit-based too?  Only the wealthiest get protected?  That's what we're really getting at here.  Pure selfish greed.  Screw the community.  Everybody for themselves.  Libraries actually have a lot to gain by increased checkouts.  They have to keep their circulation numbers up or risk decreased funding.  That's why they've moved on to loaning out movies, music cds, and videogames.  If there was nothing to gain, libraries would remain sleepy little depositories of books.  I understand the frustration with paying taxes for services you don't use or believe in.  But instead of whining about the system, why not try fixing it and making it more accountable?


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Post 59

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 4:41pmSanction this postReply
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Well,

I don't believe the free market is the solution to everything.  Should police and fire service be profit-based too? 

Isn't it?  I think they're called "unions." Ever heard of them?  Yeah. When contract time comes around, cops and fire "professionals" call in "sick" as a way to "negotiate" higher pay and juicer benefits, which is no different than "profits."  Seriously, would you work for less than it cost you to get to the job?  No, you wouldn't.

Only the wealthiest get protected?  That's what we're really getting at here.  Pure selfish greed.  Screw the community.  Everybody for themselves.

I love wealthy people.  They've always kept me employed, dry, warm, fed, safe, even entertained. The arrangement is mutually beneficial. My life is pretty much all about me. Who is your life about?  Is there a "you" in there, or do you live for everyone else but you? 

   But instead of whining about the system, why not try fixing it and making it more accountable?

Thinking out loud and whining aren't the same thing. Exposing problems for what they are can hardly be called whining. You should be thanking every single person here for identifying what you could not, and for doing your thinking and heavy lifting for you.  You want us to "fix" it, but how? You've tied our greedy little hands!  You fix it, selfless serf!
We're far too horrible and selfish. Surely you don't need us.


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