Thursday, June 10, 2021

If black lives matter, why do we still have communism?

This essay isn't what you think it is.  You probably think that a right-winger is comparing the vast slaughter communism creates with the relatively modest number of killings by police of black men.  No I'm saying modest number of killings by police of black men is part of the vast slaughter communism creates.  

Some might be skeptical of police communism but they do provide service to citizens "according to their needs" and it gets funded by income tax i.e. "according to their abilities".  Don't bring up that they don't actually provide service completely according to need.  No communist does and we're not having the "it's not real communism" argument.   

But surely racism is the cause not communism, right?  Nope.  At worst 60% of black deaths at the hands of US police are due to racism.  This is assuming that all of the disproportionate black deaths are due to racism.  The greater violence of US police compared to UK police is responsible for well over 90% such deaths.   This is because the UK has much less than 10% of US police deaths per capita.  So even compared to other police services organized on communist lines the US is far more lethal to blacks than it would be if simple racism were the problem.  

So why would removing the communist system largely solve the problem?  Because the problem is one of incentives and accountability, and communism does both badly.  Consider what has to happen for a police officer to be punished for killing someone.  The body that employs him, the government, has to admit it's at fault.  The people who have to cooperate with the cops to help their prosecutions have to   act against them.  Fundamentally the system has to decide to inflict harm on it's own support.  The only reason this would happen is if the political cost of not punishing the cop is greater than not doing so.  This removes accountability but crucially it removes it both ways.  If a cop isn't punished when public perception says he should be it's blamed on political efforts to protect him, even if that is not the case.  

Privatizing police would remove both problems.  The government wouldn't control the private police, so they can't be blamed for their actions.  Because there would be multiple competing private police forces any police officer would be investigated by one (or more) independent organizations.  His buddies couldn't have his back even if they wanted to.  As a private citizen doing a private job he would have no special privileges like "qualified immunity".  The government decision to prosecute or not a private cop would not be seen as a political decision, any more than prosecuting any private citizen would be.  No interest group would see it as enabling abuse if cops didn't get charged.  A failed prosecution wouldn't be seen as a political blow either, merely incompetence. 

Lawsuits against private cops would also be more just because they would not be political.  It would not be a political matter whether a police organization settles a case of supposed police brutality.  There might be accusations of racial injustice, but those accusations wouldn't be used to win elections.  They would be a matter of corporate PR.  

Speaking of corporate PR the cops would have a great incentive to behave and to hire people who will behave.  Even ignoring lawsuits there's the problem that people hire people that protect them, not shoot them.  An officer that can't be trusted to refrain from homicide is not an asset to someone trying to compete in a market.  What is an asset is an officer that will respond to things that hurt their clients, and only those things.  Enforcing drug laws, arresting people who braid hair without a license won't get new clients.    

If government provided funds to individuals to buy their own police protection the poor would still have protection.  Possibly they would have more protection than they currently have since a private firm would have to protect their clients to avoid losing them.   In some cases police forces have failed to protect some minorities for decades, effectively leaving them with no police force (although they still get taxed).  In the event of widescale violence against a group police firms would have incentives to protect, rather than abandon, the oppressed.  

All problems with police, past and present, ranging from race-based oppression, political spying and intimidation, selective enforcement depending on victim or offender, repression of sexual and religious minorities etc. all stem from the police being part of the State's monopoly of force.  All stem from the Marxist mantra being applied to policing.  It's time to use the best method for producing cars, holidays, and insulin to producing security.  It's time to say no to communism, if you really want to protect black people, or anyone.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Stakeholder capitalism is just fascism for a good cause. Which means it's just fascism.

The first claim of "Stakeholder capitalism" (which I will call stakeholderism) is that it treats all stakeholders equally, which is a lie. Stockholders alone under Stakeholderism are not allowed to have anyone represent their interests alone.  Customers are allowed to buy solely on their perceived costs and benefits alone. Similarly workers are not compelled to keep at their jobs, either permanently or when they wish to take a break.  All other parties can proceed as though their interests were paramount to them except for stockholders.  

So it's based on a lie, but might it still be a noble lie, good for society?  No.  Even assuming that the goals of Stakeholderism are noble and worth taking control of someone else's property, this does not achieve goals easier than current methods.   Everything that can be done by taking control of companies policies could be done cheaper and more effectively by simply legislating or paying the companies to do things.

To understand why consider the people who would actually implement the policy of Stakeholderism and their incentives.  These would be corporate executives that get promoted and paid bonuses according to at least 3 competing goals.  These would be 1) long term profit, 2) short term profit and 3) serving the political goals of the government.  Let's not pretend that the goals would be set by anyone else but the government.  Their incentive would be to appear to be achieving all of these goals, even if that's impossible.  They would not be accountable for the failure of any of these goals because it would be impossible to sort out what was done to achieve which goal.  Any failure to be profitable would be blamed on the effort to achieve "social*" goals.  Any failure to achieve "social*" goals will be blamed on the necessity to produce profit.  They would have no special training in achieving "social*" goals  Any training they did have would be inadequate because there simply isn't the time to learn to be a good profit maker, a good social reformer and actually work at either profession.

But the incentive structure gets worse when we consider the government.  Large corporations are vulnerable to control by government because even small decisions can cost them millions or even billions of dollars.  They need to keep the government sweet at almost all costs.  So the corporation has a massive disincentive to pursue solutions that conflict with a government agenda.  Actually it's worse than that because no corporate officer could be sure how pursuing social goals might politically influential people.  So they would avoid funding or otherwise helping any program that might be politically controversial.  This is actually worse than leaving social programs to the government, since the government presumably knows what politically influential people want because they tell them.  If Program A has features that might offend feminists, race hustlers, "family values" people or whoever but it actually doesn't offend them, the government would know.  The corporation wouldn't even ask for fear of a backlash and potential political costs.

Stakeholderism actually makes the problem of government control of corporations worse.  If an organization openly says that it's all about profit they can't be questioned for pursuing it.  By claiming to be all about social good it makes it easier for the government to pressure them into supporting programs that suit the government.  There is no guarantee that programs the government supports will  achieve worthwhile social goals efficiently or at all.  There is no guarantee that government goals will be positive.  Governments have supported, at various times, racism, classism, inverted classism, religious bigotry, persecution for political opinions and homophobia.  Now you might say that the bad days are all behind us.  But if that's the case explain why Trump was either needed or happened (depending on whether you're for or against him).  

Now consider the control corporations have over government, which is inevitable once corporations realize the government controls them.  If a group controls you then human nature makes you want to control them, at least to the extent their control is neutralized.  This means that government might be prevented from examining the results of those pursuits by corporate influence.  If corporate influence isn't sufficient to prevent an examination the examination is unlikely to be objective.  The judgement will be made on political grounds not objective benefits because either the corporation or it's opponents will rig the results.  This is almost literally the worst method for determining the worth of a project.

But at least Stakeholderism provides more resources to achieve these noble goals right?  No, taxation can already transfer as much resources as Stakeholderism could to "worthwhile" causes.  The limit in either case is the potential collapse of the company not the unwillingness of corporate executives to support social goals.  If the income is taxes they have no choice but to support such goals.  Government doesn't ask.  Worse Stakeholderism encourages dodgy accounting to inflate the apparent cost of pursuit of social goals.  

Stakeholderism also encourages action on the wrong scale.  Large corporations are, or should be, at the most efficient size for their commercial pursuits.  Smaller than a certain amount and they cannot access economies of scale, larger and they can be crippled by management problems or other diseconomies of scale.  There is no reason why the proper size of an organization to correct a social problem would be even close the the proper size of any particular corporation.  If an effort is sufficiently small compared to the organization then it won't have a significant effect on it's decision making, it will be ignored by those in charge.  This will lead to either under- or over-resourcing of a project because the organization has no reason to care about small amounts.

A good program to correct a social ill requires a number of things, 1) resources, including labor, 2) a plan to efficiently use those resources, 3)  a method to asses the good and bad effects of the program, 4) a way to adapt the program to minimize the bad effects and maximize the good (if necessary by scrapping the project),  5) a way to avoid interference in the program by those who interests are compromised by it.  Stakeholderism is worse at all of these criterion that current methods, bad as they often are.

* Actually political goals.