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We don’t need no steenkin’ internet

Online purveyors of imperialist Yankee running-dog capitalism are not welcome in socialist paradise:

A new law has been passed in Cuba which will make access to the internet more difficult for Cubans.

Only those authorised to use the internet from home like civil servants, party officials and doctors will be able to do so on a regular phone line.

So there we have it. A country that has (allegedly) 100% rates of literacy but you are not allowed to actually read anything.

111 comments to We don’t need no steenkin’ internet

  • Bernie Greene

    But they do have some terrific cigars.

  • S. Weasel

    Isn’t Castro dead yet?

  • Jacob

    Neither do they have access to old, dead tree, media – i.e. newspapers and magazines and books from abroad.
    No news here.

  • Maybe the Manic Street Preachers can write a song about it? Or maybe not…

  • Nina D.

    This is a non-news story.

    Basically, Cuba is making explicit the rules that globalized capitalist countries have created: only the elite are allowed internet access.

  • Nina D,

    So, per force, you must be one of the elite.

  • Nina D.

    Relative to the world? Yes, you and i are priviledged.

  • No, Nina D, not ‘privileged’ at all. I pay for my access.

  • Patrick Donnelly

    I bet he paid for the computer too.

    I think this point goes to Mr. Carr.

  • Guy Herbert

    The wealth/privilege distinction may be a bit subtle, Mr Carr.

    One doesn’t need permission to join the elite among capitalists, Nina D.

  • Verity

    Nina says “Relative to the world” … “you and I are privileged”.

    No, Nina. Relative to what world? Do people in Cuba with access to the internet really think that the rest of us are “privileged” people like themselves?

  • James Knowles

    HAH – yet another bit of evidence that western popular culture is the most powerful weapon for defeating oppresive governments.

    Perhaps teenage Cuban hackers looking for porn sites will be the functional equivalent of Soviet era samizdats.

  • Anthony

    James Knowles wrote:

    “Perhaps teenage Cuban hackers looking for porn sites will be the functional equivalent of Soviet era samizdats.”

    Yeah. Life has a way of defeating our imaginary notions of perfection.

    Socialism=mummification.

  • Nina D.

    Wealth and power allows for internet access. That’s all i was trying to say. It’s the same in contemporary capitalist societies as it is in Cuba.

  • Julian Morrison

    Oh bollocks. I’ve been damn near broke myself, repeatedly. My skills are self taught and my computer bought with my own money. Which part of that is “wealth and power” or “privilege”? Silly socialist.

  • S. Weasel

    It’s the same in contemporary capitalist societies as it is in Cuba.

    Nooo, neither wealth nor power are required to access the internet in my neck of the woods. Entirely free access (both economically free, and free from filtration or control) has been available in public libraries for years. Poor, where I come from, is when your cable TV service doesn’t include any premium channels.

    Conditions are a bit harsher in Cuba.

  • Iran is doing the same thing with slightly different methods; what is it they fear so much?

  • “It’s the same in contemporary capitalist societies as it is in Cuba.”

    No it is not. Computers and the internet in the capitalist societies are not restricted to government officials only.

    Who the hell are you trying to kid, Nina D? Clearly you so embarrassed by the story that the only thing you can do is to aim for a level of equivalence that is looney even by normal leftie standards.

  • Nigel Holland

    Old but good study of our freinds the Saudi’s internet filtering here

    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/saudiarabia/

  • Duncan

    Nina,

    I paid 50c to access this site at an internet cafe. There is no-one _ literally no-one _ in Australia too poor to scratch up 50c for something they really want. The same is true in other countries where governments have some respect for property rights.
    Your claim that the internet is the preserve of the elite in capitalist countries is embarrassing rubbish.

  • Shawn

    Nina: “Wealth and power allows for internet access.”

    In New Zealand internet access is either cheap or free. Flat rate (around 15 to 25 kiwi dollars per month) unlimited access is provided by most ISP’s. It is cheap to hop on a computer for an hour or so at cyber cafe’s, and getting on the internet in public library’s and in schools and universities is free. So your claim is patently false. The only places where internet access is limited to those with wealth and power are socialist regimes like Cuba, or Arab/Islamic fascist regimes like Iran.

    Western people are not “priviliged” relative to the rest of the world, we are successful, and we fully deserve our success. We are successful because we have largely based our societies on classical liberal principles of limited government, reason and free enterprise. Much of the rest of the world has not been successful because their socities have been based on socialism, tribalism or religious fascism.

  • Shawn

    David: “Clearly you so embarrassed by the story that the only thing you can do is to aim for a level of equivalence that is looney even by normal leftie standards.”

    Sadly I think Nina’s views are actually pretty much par for the left. I have long been convinced that being a leftist today, with the overwheling evidence that free societies create more wealth for more people, and the utter failure of Marxist regimes to do the same, requires being seriously unhinged from reality.

  • It’s a certain level of liberty that gives us Internet access. Our governments do relatively little to snuff the market forces that make Internet access affordable, and generally refrains from suppressing the online expression of ideas.

    It’s not the difference between elites and non-elites – it’s the difference between free citizens and serfs. More of the world will be online when more of the world’s governments stop oppressing their people.

  • Verity

    Yes, Nina is either unhinged or actually believes Castro’s bonkers propaganda. Nina, old girl, you are no more privileged than the old lady who lives down the street from me and orders all her groceries over the internet because she doesn’t like supermarket parking.

    I do not know anyone in the West who cannot access the internet if they wish. Computers are pretty cheap and access is free in some countries and ridiculously cheap in others. Even the unemployed and people on small pensions are tapping away. We all have DVD players and cars, too.

    Out of interest, what big, important job do you do in Cuba that earns you this “privilege” of internet usage?

  • Front4uk

    “Cuba isn’t perfect – but it is living proof that it is possible for a third world country to combat poverty, disease and illiteracy.”, Brian Wilson MP (Neurarbeitspartei for Cunningham North), quoted on the Pyongyang Guardian , 28 Aug 2003.

  • R C Dean

    “Cuba isn’t perfect – but it is living proof that it is possible for a third world country to combat poverty, disease and illiteracy.”

    How so? Most Cubans are dirt poor. I don’t have the faintest idea what the public health situation is in Cuba, and I suspect neither does Mr. Wilson, but most poor countries have worse public health than most ealthy countries. Similarly, I don’t have the faintest idea what the education situation is in Cuba, and again I suspect neither does Mr. Wilson. Only a fool would take the boasting and puffing of the Castro regime at face value, after all.

  • Emma

    Cuba was the richest country in Latin America prior to 1959. Look it up on the Internet.

    As for poverty, health care and education, here’s a case study:
    My Cuban friend arrived in FL on 2 inner tubes several years ago. She was 24 yrs old. The education the Cuban goverment had provided was the equivalent of a 6th grade in the USA; instead of high school she was sent to cut sugar cane. Once she arrived in the USA, she cleaned houses for a living while attending night school. Right now she’s graduating college with honors, and will go for her CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification. She and her (also Cuban) husband now own a nice condo, comfortably furnished. She sends money to her relatives in Cuba and packages, which include simple items readily available in other Latin American countries, such as tampons, aspirin, soap, etc. Her relatives must bring their own sheets to hospital if they ever are in need of hospitalization.

    So maybe Brian Wilson should go out & meet a few people who left Cuba in order to live well?

  • Emma

    Oh, and BTW, the Revolution didn’t fail because of the embargo/bloqueo. The Revolution failed because Socialism/Marxism doesn’t work.

  • Verity

    Emma – What a great story about your friend and Here’s to her continuing success. She’s obviously extremely motivated. Cutting sugar cane! Aaaiiii!

  • Nina D.

    Sorry folks, in quaint posh little countries like New Zealand and Britain i guess it’s possible to become detached from the reality of most of the world.

    I am in the states, which is the 3rd largest nation in the world and could be described as more capitalist than socialist. And believe me, internet access is certainly *not* available for everyone.

    I laughed out loud thinking about how you would be received telling the millions in poverty here, “Look, everyone has a chance to succeed… and anyone can use the internet”.

    Anyway, I know why Fidel is keeping tight reins on the internet – socialism (as Marx described, anyway_ was supposed to rise as a global evolution. It simply doesn’t work in isolation against more raw forms of capitalism. A socialist country has two choices now – sell out to capitalism (China), or try to preserve socialist state by resisting global integration (Cuba).

    But my point remains – internet communication is a tool for the relatively wealthy in a capitalist state or the priviledged (doctors, party leaders) in a socialist state.

    You all insist internet access is cheap and accessible. And when you all say “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have internet access”, you only reveal the thick film of the bubble you live in.

  • Verity

    Nina – We are telling you that in our own countries, everyone has access to the internet. We are not a privileged few.

    “But my point remains – internet communication is a tool for the relatively wealthy in a capitalist state or the priviledged (doctors, party leaders) in a socialist state.”

    What do you deem “relatively wealthy” in our societies? How about the unemployed? Are they wealthy relative to the rest of the population? ‘Coz, whether it fits in with your distrust of capitalism or not, most of ‘em have computers and they cruise around the internet, having plenty of time to do so.

    As internet access is free at most libraries, where on earth are you finding these millions of oppressed people in the US who have no internet access? Perhaps people who never learned to read … ?

  • R. C. Dean

    Nina – can you point us to any studies or surveys that indicate just how restricted internet access is in various countries?

    Certainly in the US and Western Europe I don’t think it is possible to say that a significant fraction of the population can’t afford it – in most of the US you can a high-speed line into your house for the cost of two trips to McDonald’s every month, and a computer costs less than two average car payments. That’s pretty damn affordable. I think its pretty safe to say that most people encounter no government or systemic barrier to internet access in what I will loosely call the liberal democracies.

    In authoritarian countries, I would tend to agree with you – by government fiat, internet access tends to be reserved to the privileged. I think that’s a bad thing, and I suspect everyone else on this thread does, too.

  • S. Weasel

    Nina, where the hell in the US are you, that there’s no public library?!

    In the early nineties, I was helping set up cheap rural internet access in darkest Tennessee (which we accomplished by a sort of informal bush relay of 1-800 dialup numbers). People who wants it, gets it. People who don’t wants it…well, how much can you do for people who don’t wants it?

    You’re talking out of the wrong orifice, my dear.

  • “Sorry folks, in quaint posh little countries like New Zealand and Britain i guess it’s possible to become detached from the reality of most of the world.”

    Truly marvelous demented stuff. More, please, more.

  • llamas

    To quiet the ‘he said, she said’ comparisons, here’s the latest data on home Internet access worldwide.

    http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_020306_eratings.pdf

    It shows that 191 million Americans, or about 2 people in 3 of the population, have Internet access on a home PC.

    But that is not the core of the issue here. Nine D. is all fired up, she claims, Internet access in the US and other Western places is a privilege of the wealthy and powerful. Ignoring the fact that something that 2/3rds of the people have can hardly be ‘a privilege of the wealthy and powerful’, the real point is that the US Government does not get to decide whether or not you can have access to the Internet. And it is available to everyone, for free, in various ways, if they choose to take the trouble or pay the price for it.

    In Cuba, by contrats, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, wealthy or underprivileged. You will only have access to the Internet if the Government says you may – in other words, you will only have access to the Internet if you are ‘politically correct’.

    Nine D. really shows her worldview when she writes this:
    Anyway, I know why Fidel is keeping tight reins on the internet – socialism (as Marx described, anyway_ was supposed to rise as a global evolution. It simply doesn’t work in isolation against more raw forms of capitalism. A socialist country has two choices now – sell out to capitalism (China), or try to preserve socialist state by resisting global integration (Cuba). ”

    In other words – socialism as the One True Religion. You might consider the third alternative for a socialist state, Nina, and it is this – the state could cast the scales from its eyes, realize that socialism doesn’t work, never has worked and never will work, and cast about for a better way of running its affairs. The thought, apparently, had not occurred to you.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Shawn

    Nina: “Sorry folks, in quaint posh little countries like New Zealand and Britain i guess it’s possible to become detached from the reality of most of the world.”

    Quaint and posh? Is this supposed to mean something intelligible?

    A few points. I may live in New Zealand for the time being but I am an American and I am well aware of the reality of the social and economic situation there, and your claim is still patently false. Internet access is possible for people on “low” incomes if they want it, and in fact I know and am friends with number of people who are working class and on low incomes, including a single mother raising a daughter, who have internet access. While there may well be some extremely poor people who cannot afford it, your claim that it is restricted to the wealthy and powerful does not stand up to scrutiny.

    As far as New Zealand is concerned, this country is not socialist, although too much nanny state does exist. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s NZ undertook some of the most radical free market reforms in the world. The New Zealand economy is now ranked as one of the most free in the world, and is certainly a more genuinely free market than the U.S. economy in many respects. And as I pointed out, it is private companies that offer low flat rate internet access, and many working class and low wage people here have the internet in their homes. So sorry, but wrong again.

    Your arguments about Cuba’s choices do not stack up to the facts of history. China was not forced to “sell out” to capitalism. China experienced the reality of Marxist economics under Chairman Mao, millions died of starvation and the economy collapsed. After Mao had gone, the Chinese leadership knew that the experiment with socialist economics had failed, not because of pressure from the outside but because centrally planned economies always fail, and so they chose to change course. The result is that China now has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and more Chinese than ever are creating wealth for themselves. Oops, wrong again.

    Your post does reveal one fact about the reality of socialism though. You have admitted that socialism cannot compete with capitalism and therefore a socialist country is forced to resort to fascist authoritarian measures, like restricting the internet, to ensure that the people remain ignorant of the truth.

    Is this really your plan for a better world? Strip people of their rights to information and free speech, keep them ignorant, control their lives, and deny them the chance to better themselves?

    Thankyou for giving us a perfect example of the evil of socialism.

    By the way, my father was born into real poverty in rural America. He is now a wealthy man because he chose to better himself, work hard and save. ANYONE can succeed in the U.S. if they truly want to.

  • Nina D.

    S, Weasel – thanks for your anecdote. The extensive public library system in the u.s. is surely a great accomplishment of the government.
    Still, i wonder how important that public library access you helped create is when *15%* of adults in Tenesee did not participate in formal education past the age of 13. I somehow doubt most of these individuals have the literacy skills or time to traipse to the library and surf the net. Though i could be wrong.

    Guy Herbert said it best. A libertarian worldview can embrace the idea that “one doesn’t need permission to join the elite among capitalists”.
    But to suggest disparities in computer literacy and internet access don’t exist in most of the world – capitalist, socialist, or otherwise – that’s crazy. The rest of you are letting your ideaologies shape your interpretation of the data.

    On an unrelated note:
    llamas – i don’t advocate for fidel’s brand of socialism or any dictator-led socialist state. Rather, i try and recognize that even the U.S. is much more socialist than it was 80 years ago. And 80 years from now, it will be even more evolved toward socialism. In my view, the serious matter is that if we have to evolve toward a socialist state – we should develop a democratic socialist state without sacrificing civil liberties and individual freedoms. But that’s a topic for another day.

  • Nina D.

    Shawn,
    Your anecdotes prove nothing. Most people in New Zealand do *not* have internet access. The World Bank reported, in 2001, fewer than 30% of kiwis were internet users.
    Since the New Zealand’s brilliant free market plan, Per capita GNI has gone up, but disparities (predictably) grew. For example, fewer children are completing primary education now than twenty years ago.

  • S. Weasel

    I somehow doubt most of these individuals have the literacy skills or time to traipse to the library and surf the net.

    Ah, so the poor do have access, they’re just too busy and ignorant to want to use it? That’s a very different assertion altogether (not to mention wrong and offensive).

    You’d be amazed at what poorly-educated rural Tennesseans get up to on the internet. I know I was.

  • llamas

    Nine D. I note that, when faced with the facts concerning Internet access, both in the US and in other nations, which completely demloish your claims of ‘wealth and privilege’, you adopt the usual socialist response when caught speeding – ignore the data, change the subject, I don’t hear you, la la la la.

    Your dreams about the US public library system being a ‘government . . . accomplishment’ are just that – dreams. The roots of the US public library system are in private philanthropy and libraries run on a not-for-profit basis. Even today, the vast majority of US public libraries are locally-funded and locally-run. My local PL still has the name of its benefactor in prominent letters on the front – it was Andrew Carnegie. Look it up, and learn.

    You wrote: ‘In my view, the serious matter is that if we have to evolve toward a socialist state – we should develop a democratic socialist state without sacrificing civil liberties and individual freedoms.’

    First of all, or course, we don’t have to evolve that way. I love your use of the term ‘evolve’, as though it’s somehow a natural, inescapable progression, like a force of nature. You forget that evolution is filled with examples of developments which failed and died away. Socialism is rapidly headed down that path.

    Leaving that aisde, however – you claim that Castro has had to do what he did to keep socialism ‘evolving’. One of the things he has done is deny Internet access to the vast majority of the population, and carefully monitor those privileged few to whom he does grant it. In the US, by contrast, while the progressive socialist evolution which Castro seeks to nurture in Cuba has been ground under the bootheels of repressive capitalist greed, two-thirds of the nation has Internet access in their own homes, completely free of any government oversight whatever. Anyone who does not have it in their home, but who cares to haul themselves to the local library, union hall, senior center or night school, can have it, usually for free, and again, completely without government oversight.

    Which of the two outcomes is the more ‘evolved’, would you say?

    I wonder what the rate of Internet access is in North Korea – a state which has certainly done far more than even Castro has to ‘preserve (a) socialist state’.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Simon Jester

    Rather, i try and recognize that even the U.S. is much more socialist than it was 80 years ago. And 80 years from now, it will be even more evolved toward socialism.

    a. Don’t count your chickens.
    b. Evolution is not teleological.

    We should develop a democratic socialist state without sacrificing civil liberties and individual freedoms.

    And on the same day, I shall be having pork wings for dinner.

  • llamas

    Nina D wrote:

    ‘Shawn,
    Your anecdotes prove nothing. Most people in New Zealand do *not* have internet access. The World Bank reported, in 2001, fewer than 30% of kiwis were internet users.’

    Wrong. Again. Anyone quoting 2001 data on Internet connectivity obviously has no idea of what they’re talking about.

    Look at the data linked above, which is from October 2003, or less than 3 months ago. 52% of New Zealanders have internet access in their homes.

    So most people in NZ *do* have Internet access.

    Try and keep up, dearie.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Simon Jester

    Most people in New Zealand do *not* have internet access. The World Bank reported, in 2001, fewer than 30% of kiwis were internet users.

    A link to this cite would be appreciated. It would be interesting to know when the World Bank figure was for (yes, I know it was reported in 2001, but was this statistic for an earlier period?)

    If you had followed llamas’s link, you would have seen the figure for NZ internet access via home PCs quoted as 52% – a figure that (obviously) excludes access via work, schools, public libraries etc. And that figure was from 2 years ago – any guesses what the current figure is?

    Since the New Zealand’s brilliant free market plan … fewer children are completing primary education now than twenty years ago. (My emphasis.)

    And your source for this assertion?

    Finally, you still haven’t told us where in the USA you reside.

  • In my view, the serious matter is that if we have to evolve toward a socialist state…

    You mean regress to a socialist state.

    - we should develop a democratic socialist state

    Who is the ‘we’, paleface? Are you expecting our help? Besides we already have a democratic socialist state here in the UK. We want to get rid of it.

    without sacrificing civil liberties and individual freedoms.

    Ah, that old chestnut. ‘We must control everyone BUT with freedom too’. Very shallow, very idiotic, very shopsoiled stuff.

    By the way, don’t conflate the number of children processed by the state daycare prisons with ‘levels of education’.

  • llamas

    I realize that I confused two Nielsen sites, and the data about NZ internet access which I thought were from October 2003 were actually from 2001. Which only goes to show how very far out of date Nina D’s figures were.

    Here’s the latest (2002) data which I can find, from the NZ Ministry of Economic Development. Note the total access figures (75%) vs the ‘used in the last 4 weeks’ figures (about 60%). I’m no economist, but that speaks to me of a commodity which has effectively saturated – that everyone who wants it, already has it.

    http://www.med.govt.nz/pbt/infotech/it-stats/it-stats-2003/it-stats-2003-06.html#P342_18906

    Would that the people of Cuba were in this situation – that more people had acess to the Internet, than wanted to use it. Perhaps then they would realize how long and hard they have been lied to, and throw that tinpot dictator out on his ass.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Nina D.

    Ah, that old chestnut. ‘We must control everyone BUT with freedom too’. Very shallow, very idiotic, very shopsoiled stuff.
    —-

    Very insightful stuff from David Carr as usual.

    I won’t get into a broader debate about economic evolution, etc – this is not the time or place. My original point was to demonstrate there are gross disparities in net access around the world in a number of different economic systems.

    Thanks for the nielsen link, llamas. I will try and look into the definition and timeliness of both the nielsen and world bank reports later. For now, here was my oiriginal source:
    http://www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/countrydata.html
    …reports 1.1M “internet users” of a population of 3.9M in NZ.

  • Verity

    Llamas took the words right out of my mouth. Llending llibraries in Britain and the US were started by philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie. Nothing to do with your beloved, all-controlling, evolving “state”, Nina.

    I know next to nothing about NZ, but you say: “fewer children are completing primary education now than twenty years ago”. Really? Do you have figures to back that up? *Primary school*?

    And you quote the World Bank. As though everyone on Samizdata trusts embedded tranzi organisations to deliver facts rather than political wish lists. You demonstrate your ignorance of freedom and healthy scepticism.

    You say you’re in the States, and let’s say we believe you. Why are you clinging, in face of the evidence all around you, to the communist (I don’t use the word socialist any more as it’s just an acceptable word for communism) notion of happiness and satisfaction for all in the rice paddies and sugar cane plantations?

    You say you’re in the States, to give yourself, I believe, a credibility which every word you key in belies, yet you’re unable to digest that absolutely everyone who can read in the US (and the rest of the West) has access to the internet with absolutely no reference to governments.

    And Llamas, how has Castro managed to remain a dictator and keep Cuba’s people in poverty for all these years? Because the Ninas of the world bought into it? But, looking around them, how could they? (BTW, I do not believe Nina is in the US.)

  • “http://www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/countrydata.html
    …reports 1.1M “internet users” of a population of 3.9M in NZ.”

    We have a new ‘Kodiak’. UN ‘statistics’ to follow shortly.

    By the way, how many internet users in Cuba?

  • Simon Jester

    I checked the quoted figures for NZ internet usage. Although the World Bank site quotes 1.1 million users, they say they got their staistics from ITU and WITSA. I can’t find any such statistics on the WITSA site, but ITU quotes internet users as 1.52 million, 1.76 million and 1.91 million for 2000, 2001 and 2002 respectively.

    So the World Bank site’s statistics do not appear to match their sources.

  • Verity

    David Carr – Oddly enough, I had the same thought. Kodiak redux.

    Ha ha. And “Nina” (Where’s the Pinto and the Santa Maria?) says: I won’t get into a broader debate about economic evolution, etc – this is not the time or place. Why, oh wise one?

    Somewhere s/he says along the lines of: but that is for another day.

    Oh gosh. Where is this alternate cosmos that would be “the time and the place”and “another day” – staring off into the distance across the plains? Wow! – heavy Third World Wisdom coming through here! We can’t discuss things unless it’s the time (like right now? as you brought it up?) or the place (how about right here, where you are posting? The internet to which so few peasants of the world have access?)

  • Shawn

    Nina:

    “Shawn, Your anecdotes prove nothing. Most people in New Zealand do *not* have internet access. The World Bank reported, in 2001, fewer than 30% of kiwis were internet users.”

    Actually it is this that proves nothing. The World Bank report refers only to those who have an internet account, it does not refer to access, which is a different issue. Many people who do not have personal internet accounts use the internet in libraries, or cyber cafes, and virtually all children in New Zealand have internet access in schools. Also, the 70% (and as other posters have shown your statistics are woefully out of date) that at that time did not have personal internet accounts had nothing in most cases to do with cost. Many people did not have it because they did not want it, or see the point in it, or wanted to spend their money on other things. So the WB report does not prove your argument about only the wealthy and “privileged” having internet access. In fact as I have said, widespread availability of cheap internet in NZ disproves it. If your going to quote statistics to back up your claims you should make sure you understand what the statistics actually mean and that they are current.

    “Since the New Zealand’s brilliant free market plan, Per capita GNI has gone up, but disparities (predictably) grew.”

    Of course disparity grew. But the use of disparity statistics is highly misleading. Firstly because it was inevitable that after years of unaffordable cradle to grave welfare, when the reforms were undertaken and welfare was cut back disparity was obviously going to grow, or more accurately, be revealed. Because welfare simply hid the disparity that was always there. And that disparity was the direct result not of capitalism but of its lack, a lack of economic freedom and opportunity.

    “For example, fewer children are completing primary education now than twenty years ago.”

    No free market reforms were carried out on the education system so attempting to relate education levels with the reforms is meaningless. In fact NZ runs a socialist education system that is centrally planned and controlled primarily by the state and the rabidly left wing teacher unions. So of course education levels and quality are declining. This just proves my point.

    Lastly, there is no such thing as “democratic socialism”. All forms of socialism are authoritarian and totalitarian in practice. No socialist system will protect civil liberties. For a start, one of the most basic liberties is to be free of others using force against you. But socialism is based on the use of force. People are forced to hand over their money in taxation and their property if ordered to by the state in socialist systems. Socialism rests on lessening property rights in favour of state ownership and individual rights in favour of collectivism. So to believe that any socialist system is going to preserve civil liberties is absurd in the extreme.

    Let me ask you a question Nina.

    Who owns you and your body?

    You, or someone else, or the state?

    If you believe that you are the owner of your self and your body, then no person or group of persons, including the state, has the right to force you to do anything against your will, including handing over your earned money in taxes to support the welfare state.

    If you believe on the other hand that the state does have this right, then you must believe that you do not own yourself, and are therefore a slave.

    Of course you may believe that supporting others with your money is a good thing and you actually want to do this, and that is fine. But if you own yourself, then surely this should be a voluntary choice that you make for yourself.

    If your concerned with civil liberties then you must start from this basis, that no person or group has the right to initiate force against another person.

    To quote from my fave libertarian mag again:

    Libertarians uphold “each individual’s sovereignty over his own life – i.e., his right to sustain his life and pursue his happiness as he chooses. We maintain that he possesses this right not by permission from God, society or the government, but by virtue of his nature as a thinking, choosing entity. As a corollary, we advocate the elimination of compulsion from human affairs. We promote the belief that all adult interaction, in all spheres of life, should be voluntary. We defend the free market, not just in the realm of commerce, but universally. We are neither left nor right wing. We are as opposed to the censoring of personal intellectual and moral values, traditionally favoured by the right, as we are to the regulation of economic activity extolled by the left. We believe that the only act which may properly be banned in a free society is the initiation of force or fraud by one party against another; that the only laws which may properly be imposed are those which ban the use of force or fraud – e.g., laws against murder, rape or theft; and that the sole legitimate function of government is to define and enforce such laws.”

    http://www.freeradical.co.nz/

  • Nina D.

    Simon Jester – Thanks for looking into that.

    Verity – Again, I got my data on NZ primary education completion rates from OECD and World Bank databases. But even if education retention has decreased, it’s likey you will dismiss it as state-controlled prison anyway. Because extremists can never be wrong.

    The reason why i don’t see this as the “time or place” to discuss broad theories about economic and state development is because 1) i don’t have time to address the dozens of questions posed to me here, though i i wish i did. And 2) the thread is supposed to be about regulation of internet access.

    To answer your other question- i’m currently in chicago, though i have lived most of my life in boston or florida.

  • Nina D.

    Llending llibraries in Britain and the US were started by philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie. Nothing to do with your beloved, all-controlling, evolving “state”, Nina.
    ———-

    There is a wonderful history of philanthropy involving public libraries in the united states. But that is not what keeps them running today.

    In fact, to stay on the topic at hand:
    Thousands of libraries in the united states only have internet access because the u.s. congress allotted funds for the ‘library services and technology act’. Last year, federal government contributed over $200M in 2002 to provide internet access in public libraries around the country (specifically in underserved areas).

  • llamas

    Nine D. wrote:

    ‘Last year, federal government contributed over $200M in 2002 to provide internet access in public libraries around the country (specifically in underserved areas).’

    As opposed to, say, the government of Cuba, which is spending money to *prevent* its citizens from having Internet access – in other words, to *keep* them underserved.

    It would be humourously ironic if it were not so tragic for the poor people of Cuba. Nina tells us that Internet access in the US is the privilege of the wealthy and powerful, and then in the next breath describes how the US Government is spending money to expand those privileges to as many citizens as it possibly can. Meanwhile, in Cuba, where the delicate flower of ‘real’ socialism needs to be protected so that it can evolve freely into what it is destined to be, the government is spending its money to take Internet access away from its citizens.

    Look at a map, Nina, and cross-check the rates of Internet access with the relative levels of socialism of various nations. You’ll see that the highest rates of *unrestricted* access are seen in nations which have relatively free-market, capitalist systems of government. There are some soft-socialist nations which match the free market-nations in their rates of access. But one thing’s for sure – if you can find a hard-socialist nation (and thank heavens, there’s not too many of those left) the chances are that the rates of access are far lower than in other nations.

    Not the time and place – indeed. I’ve found that it’s never the time and place for a socialist to defend his-her worldview with data and direct comparisons – because they always end up taking such a tremendous shellacking over their fuzzy data, distorted history and downright mendacity. That’s why I always say – Socialism. It’s the way of the future. Always has been. Always will be.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Nina D.

    Llamas,

    I say:
    The internet is not accessible for all in a free market economy.

    You say:
    But internet access is freely available at public libraries in the u.s.!

    I say:
    U.S. libraries are only able to provide internet access through governbment intervnetion: nearly $1 billion of funding for libraries over six years and e-rate regulations.

    You say:
    …?

    I demonstrate how taxation and government intervention is actually supporting the u.s.’s internet access that you previously attributed to the free market economy. And all you can counter with is broad rhetoric that depends on some kind of strange and exclusive capitalist/socialist dichotomy that you choose to categorize nations with?

    As for fuzzy logic, i’m doing my best to find data with the resources and time that i have. I’m hearing more fuzzy arguments from the other side – especially regarding anecdotes about some free market nations and internet access. The most widespread internet access in the world is in Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark and Australia. I consider three of the countries to be pretty far left on the socialist/capitalist continuum. Yet people talk as if Cuba is the only socialist country in the world, because you all seem to be comfortable with extremes rather than more nuanced interpretations of the state of the world.

  • BMN

    Nina–

    1) defends Castroite censorship because in the capitalist hell of Wicker Park not everyone gets free access, although she admits they actually do

    2) does not tell you that the money for this comes from people earning money in the evil capitalist system and giving it to the government lest they be thrown in prison

    3) says her view is “nuanced”

  • Nina D.

    No, BMN, i never said everyone here has access to the internet. I pointed out the government is funding libraries and regulating internet access fees for schools and libraries in order to make that goal a reality.

    This happens all the time – ‘socialist’ actions are taken to ensure everyone has access when a free market fails. In another free market paradise – Mexico – internet access was worse than Cuba’s just a few years ago. However, in 2001 President Fox and friends stepped up and passed legislation that allots over $400M over six years to achieve their goal of internet access for everyone.

  • BMN

    ‘socialist’ actions are taken to ensure everyone has access when a free market fails

    Oh, is that your characterization of what Cuba did?

    I agree it takes a shitload of nuance to compare Cuba to the US.

  • Nina D.

    BMN,
    No, I was talking about U.S. and Mexico – i never mentioned Cuba in that comment.

  • BMN

    Mexico is a free-market paradise? Ever try to buy land there, Nina? Look, you might be able to get away with comments like that in Wicker Park or Lincoln Park or Wrigleyville but not here.

  • “The most widespread internet access in the world is in Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.”

    Is this from the same World Bank report? I think we have dealt with that.

    However, what do imagine the Swedes and the Dutch are doing that your wicked compatriots are not doing?

    “In another free market paradise – Mexico..”

    Nina, what do understand by the term ‘free market’? What do you think it means?

  • Jacob

    Hey, when debating Cuba – internet access is the least of worries. People are being imprisoned and MURDERED there by Castro’s regime. Peple are desperately trying to escape by crossing 100 miles of sea on tubes.
    Forget about the internet ! I mean – if you want to discuss Cuba there are more pressing issues.

  • Nina D.

    David,
    Thanks for asking questions beyond your usual juvenile dribble. The countries i mentioned are among the most internet-accessible according to the World Bank and ACNielsen reports. So socialist nations can provide internet access for all. Can you wrap your mind around that?

    A ‘free market’ doesn’t exist anywhere as far as i know. It’s a theoretical construct. But as for Mexico, i chose that example because over the past twenty years they have been engaging in drastic privatization and free trade. Isn’t this what extremist libertarians want from the nations of the world?
    And to return to the topic at hand, clearly gross disparities exist in Mexico – this is represented in the internet access situation there. Fox stepped in to address this situation by contributing $400M of the government’s money to improve internet access. Clearly the market alone was not providing access for everyone – or even most people – in Mexico.

  • No, sorry Nina, more juvenile dribble coming your way.

    You have not answered this question:

    “However, what do imagine the Swedes and the Dutch are doing that your wicked compatriots are not doing?”

    Nor have you answered this question:

    “Nina, what do understand by the term ‘free market’? What do you think it means?”

    This is intriguing though:

    “A ‘free market’ doesn’t exist anywhere as far as i know”

    So in that case,

    1. How can Mexico be a ‘free market’ when no such thing exists anywhere?

    2. If there is no such thing as a ‘free market’ anywhere, then how can it ‘fail’?

  • BMN

    A ‘free market’ doesn’t exist anywhere as far as i know. It’s a theoretical construct. But as for Mexico, i chose that example because over the past twenty years they have been engaging in drastic privatization and free trade.

    Ah, thus “free-market paradise.”

    So socialist nations can provide internet access for all.

    Of course in Cuba, the government takes away access. What should Cubans do now? What happens when “democratic socialist” countries decide that you shouldn’t have access, Nina?

  • Nina D.

    Sorry – tried to answer that question in my previous comment – for me, the heart of a free market is an unregulated economy (or at least minimally regulated).
    Like i said, Mexico has been selling off state-owned entities for over twenty years now. And besides increasing privatization, they have been involved in free trade agreements such as nafta. I was under the impression that, in your view, this is what existing socialist organizations should be doing. Hence the Mexico example.
    Predictably, this has led to increasing economic disparities among individuals in Mexico- a fact even the WTO acknowledges. These disparities are demonstrated in the internet access problems there.


    1. How can Mexico be a ‘free market’ when no such thing exists anywhere?

    So it’s *relatively* free market – just like Sweden is *relatively* socialist. Neither nation follows the their respective ideaology in the extreme ways many of you write about here.


    2. If there is no such thing as a ‘free market’ anywhere, then how can it ‘fail’?

    Ugh. That sounds like communist apologists who state “socialism has never been implemented properly, so it can’t fail, etc…”
    You tell me – where do you see comprehensive free market economies (using your definition of a free market).


    So socialist nations can provide internet access for all.
    Of course in Cuba, the government takes away access.

    Sure. There are corrupt socialist leaders. Just as there are corrupt capitalist leaders (see Cheney, D.). The point i was making is that socialism does *not* require extreme government control of the media.

  • Brian (MN)

    Sure. There are corrupt socialist leaders. Just as there are corrupt capitalist leaders (see Cheney, D.). The point i was making is that socialism does *not* require extreme government control of the media.

    Who came in here saying “It’s the same in contemporary capitalist societies as it is in Cuba”?

    I started a business. This business generates capital. That pays for my internet access. Bureaucrats take money from me–they don’t “grant me access” or any other rights; that’s what state-worshippers think.

  • From this:

    “In another free market paradise – Mexico..”

    To this:

    “So it’s *relatively* free market”

    Ah the sound of backpeddling. What does ‘relatively’ mean? ‘Relative’ to what?

    “Neither nation follows the their respective ideaology in the extreme ways many of you write about here.”

    No, but they should.

    “Ugh. That sounds like communist apologists who state “socialism has never been implemented properly, so it can’t fail, etc…”

    Er, no, poppet. YOU said: “A ‘free market’ doesn’t exist anywhere as far as i know”

    In which case, how can something that does not exist (according to you) ‘fail’?

    Do you actually bother to read what you have written? Or are you just making it all up as you go along?

    And you still have not answered my question above: what is being done in Denmark, Holland etc to obtain more internet access (as you allege) that is not being done in the USA? What mechanisms are being deployed by those Swedish and Danish folk in order to achieve this?

  • Nina D.

    David,
    Thanks for avoiding all of my questions to you – really helps everyone learn.


    Ah the sound of backpeddling. What does ‘relatively’ mean? ‘Relative’ to what?

    This is pedantic- this entire thread i have been talking about wealth, socialism, and free markets as _relative to the rest of the world_. Sometimes i’ve been explicit about it and sometimes not – i’ll be sure to spell things out more clearly in the future for you if you’d like.


    “Ugh. That sounds like communist apologists who state “socialism has never been implemented properly, so it can’t fail, etc…”

    Er, no, poppet. YOU said: “A ‘free market’ doesn’t exist anywhere as far as i know”

    First, what’s a poppet? Some sort of crooked-toothed slang?
    Second, an extreme and absolute free market doesn’t exist in this world as far as i know. Once again i ask you if you disagree and, if so, how you would define a free market. I’ll try and take the time to answer more of your questions when you respond to a single one of mine.


    I started a business. This business generates capital. That pays for my internet access. Bureaucrats take money from me–they don’t “grant me access” or any other rights

    BMN, thanks for the economics 101 lesson. The irony of your little story is how ‘bureaucrats’ made government investments that created the internet in the first place.

  • Brian (MN)

    thanks for the economics 101 lesson

    Did you take that class?

    The irony of your little story is how ‘bureaucrats’ made government investments that created the internet in the first place

    “Created” it? You mean that thing that the state of Minnesota had in the 70s, or DARPA before it? Sure, those were just like what we have now…when it was being run by the government, did all your friends have cheap personal computers in their houses and internet cafes on every corner and free wifi, too? But it’s “just like” Cuba here!

  • Nina D.

    thanks for the economics 101 lesson

    Did you take that class?

    Yes, i was able to enlist in that regimen when i was participating in my state-controlled prison of a university. ;)

  • Wild Pegasus

    Nina thirsts to enslave and murder, which is why she defends totalitarian regimes and recasts free exchange as elitism. There’s not much reasoning with these people.

    – Josh

  • Shawn

    I love the charge of extremist from someone prepared to defend the Castro regime.

    Firstly Nina, privatisation and signing up to NAFTA do not make a country “free market”. Despite the use of the term, NAFTA is is not a true free trade policy. But more importantly all the privatisation and trade liberalisation in the world does not mean anything on its own. A libertarian society is a society in which the rights of the individual and property rights are absolute and sacred. A country can undergo all the “free market” reforms in the world and still not be a country that libertarians would see as a just society. New Zealand, Mexico and Chile under Pinochet are examples of this. Your failure is to understand that economic issues for libertarians flow from the first principle of self-ownership and unless this principle is upheld and defended then nothing else matters.

    All in all Nina if you read back through what you have written you will see that you have in fact made a number of contradictory claims, and at times backpedaled or changed your stance when a line of attack failed. People here have asked you reasonable adult questions and you have usually failed to answer them. None of us here are surprised at this, we have all seen this before from socialists.

    Fact. When you came in here you made the claim that internet access was restricted to the wealthy and privileged in liberal democracies in the same way that it was in Cuba. This has been proven to be false for two reasons: 1) we have shown that increasingly large numbers of people in liberal democracies DO have internet access and not always because it is provided by the state, and 2) Cuba does not restrict its acccess to the wealthy and privileged, but to those in the top tiers of the Communist Party in order to keep its citizens ignorant.

    When challenged on these two points you backpedaled and then claimed that internet access is not restricted to the wealthy and privileged in liberal democracies, but only because of socialist measures (in fact my single mother friend who works in a low wage job pays for hers for her daughters sake, so if she can so can most people if they choose to and excercise discipline and fiscal restraint), and that Cuba’s actions were justified in order to preserve pure communism, despite the apalling fascist authoritarianism and contempt for peoples basic rights that this entails.

    So you have utterly failed to prove your original claim.

    But worse, you have failed to justify the fact that the political system you advocate involves stripping people of their most basic rights and human dignity, and turning them into slaves of the state, mere cogs in a beaurocratic machine. You claim that there is something evolutionary about this. Rubbish. Claiming something is inevitable is just a way to try to justify evil.

    Every individual is the owner of his or her own life, their body, and their property. It is morally wrong to strip them of this ownership. Doing so is an act of violence, and makes the victim into a slave. Yet you advocate this on a massive scale, and then claim to care about people and their liberties.

    Libertarians are not extremists, it is statists like you who are. Libertarians simply advocate that every individual is the owner of their own life, and that their liberty and human dignity should be given the highest respect. What is extremist about that? Libertarians say that it is wrong to commit acts of violence and force against another person or their property. What is extremist about that?

  • Guy Herbert

    I admire Nina D.’s patience and energy. And while I think she’s on the wrong end of the argument about most things in this thread, she definitely isn’t about extremism. It is quite possible to be a libertarian extremist as Shawn’s comment itself suggests:

    “Libertarians are not extremists, it is statists like you who are.”

    That’s the Manichaean worldview of the fundamentalist peeking out. “Extremist” as pejorative category (and term of abuse) rather than measure of degree. All L’s are like this: if you aren’t an L, you go to hell. Give the man a patriarch beard. (And a cigar.)

    Some people here know they are extremists. They are perfectly entitled to hold and advocate extreme views, but a bit more self-awareness would be encouraging…

    Even those (like me) who are more moderately libertarian (and thus wicked statists in some lights), have to recognise that they are yet on the extreme political fringe in a country such as Britain. I’d like to change that. But I recognise that casting anathema on everyone who doesn’t share your political fetishes is as futile as appeal to logically rigourous argument.

  • Guy Herbert

    … in the political forum. (I should add.)

  • Verity

    Nina – why did you address your comments about New Zealand to me? I’ve never been to NZ in my life and know nothing about it. Why are we not surprised that you are easily muddled?

    Sweden doesn’t fully subscribe to socialism? Do you know anything at all about the world outside N America? Anything?

    No free market exists in the world? I would like you to read this v-e-r-y carefully:

    Hong Kong.

    I would also like to you read *this* very carefully:

    Singapore.

    Both of the places are, to all intents and purposes,
    free markets. You really need to get out more. You are horrendously ignorant.

  • Mexico is just barely a free market. Take a look at the scores from the 2004 Index of Economic Freedom:

    (Scoring: 1.0=free, 5.0=unfree)

    Trade policy: 2.0 — Fiscal burden of government: 4.0 — Government intervention in economy: 3.5 — Monetary policy: 3.0 — Capital flows and investment: 3.0 — Banking and finance: 2.0 — Wages and prices: 2.0 — Property rights: 3.0 — Regulation: 3.0Informal [black] market: 3.5 — OVERALL: 2.90

    Scores ranging from 2.00 to 2.99 are counted as “mostly free.” The overall rankings place Mexico in 63rd place, tied with Cambodia and Mongolia.

    America has an illegal immigration problem precisely because Mexico is so market-unfriendly (and therefore jobs-unfriendly). We can have all the free trade we want between the US and Mexico, but the latter will remain a lumbering economy that can’t even compete with France as long as the Mexican government continues to smother its people. Vicente Fox loves illegal immigration because it is a safety valve that insulates the Mexican government from pressure to reform. Revolucion!

  • Shawn

    Guy:

    I turned the charge of extremist back on Nina because she used it here on us. I dont hold a Manichaean worldview, and I see nothing in what I said to suggest that. I do believe in a pragmatic approach to implementing libertarianism which is why I support working through the Republican Liberty Caucus rather than through the Libertarian Party.

    The primary libertarian principle that the individual is the owner of their own life and that intiating force against the individual is morally wrong is certainly not an extremist principle, and it is the standard and most widely held definition of what libertarianism is. However, trying to justify a murderous regime like Cuba, or so-called democratic socialism, certainly is extremist by any rational measure.

    I did not paint a black and white picture. There is a vast difference betwen someone like Nina and say a classical liberal who may believe in more government than I do, and I would not necessarily call such a person a statist. Nina’s statements however clearly show her to be a statist.

    If libertarianism is to have any meaning at all it must be clearly differentiated from the kind of totalitarian statism advocated by Nina. Or do you advocate that libertarianism should have no meaning, and that we should never be clear about what we are opposed to?

    Having clear principles does not make me a fundamentalist.

  • Shawn

    By the way, what does “moderately libertarian” actually mean?

    Does it mean that you advocate initiating force against people and stripping them of their rights and dignity only some of the time? Or only on some issues not on others? Or perhaps only on certain specific people?

  • llamas

    Nine D., wrote:

    ‘I say:
    The internet is not accessible for all in a free market economy.

    You say:
    But internet access is freely available at public libraries in the u.s.!

    I say:
    U.S. libraries are only able to provide internet access through governbment intervnetion: nearly $1 billion of funding for libraries over six years and e-rate regulations.

    You say:
    …?

    Oh, dear, you really are a piece of work, aren’t you.

    The internet is accessible to all in a free market economy, in the sense that it may be had for trivial effort by just about anyone who wants it. This may be seen from the Nielsen figures, where in most nations which most would describe as being essentially ‘free-market’, the rates of access are higher than the rates of regular and/or recent use. What that means is what I said before – saturation. Everyone who wants it, has it. It’s being used less than it is available.

    But you are obfuscating the point. In a free-market economy, the state does not control access. If someone wants to buy internet access, the government has nothing to say about the nature, frequency, content or legitimacy of that access. You try and weasel around this by suggesting that millions in the US, for example, only have Internet access because of government funding, and no doubt there’s some truth in that. But that funding is not dependent on ideology or politics, and it is equally available to all who choose to avail themselves of it. In a sense, it is a free-market solution, although more statist that I care for – voters (via their elected representatives) choosing to spend their tax dollars on something for the benefit of all. There is no government oversight – in fact, in those cases where the providers of this kind of public Internet access have tried to restrict content, the courts have sent them home with fleas in their ears. And a good thing too.

    You make a broad assumption that free public Internet access in the US exists *only* because of government funding, and that it would not exist otherwise. But you have no way to know that – you assume that because that is the way it happens to be now. A hundred years ago, free, universal access to public libraries – comparable to Internet access today – was developed mainly without government funding. I see free Internet access wherever I go – in union halls, in senior centers, in police stations, in county courthouses, in banks, in free kiosks on the street, you name it – which is not paid for with government funding. As the (free-market) Internet model shifts from hourly service charges to unlimited access for a single fee, that is what one would expect. When the supply of something is unlimited, the price falls to zero, and pretty soon, they’re giving it away.

    You mention the rates of Internet access in several nations, including the Netherlands, which you describe as being socialist, and make the implicit suggestion that those elevated rates of access are due to the more ‘evolved’ nature of their government . It so happens that I was born in the Netherlands and I dare wager I know much more about the place than you do. The vast majority of Internet access in NL is by private, individual accounts from home PC’s – just like it is in the US – or by for-profit opportunities like Internet cafes, which are a much more viable alternative for many users because of the high population density and heavy urbanisation of that country. As far as I can tell, it has nothing much to do with the government. It should be noted that some of the nations with realtively high rates of access, which have relatively scialost governments, are also right up there with repressive nations like Saudi Arabia in their interest in limiting or restricting Internet content.

    Come we now to Cuba, that socialist paradise. In Cuba, you will have access to the Internet if the government decides to allow you to have it. And no other way.

    Any questions?

    Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor – and who is rich in Cuba? Doesn’t matter your need, or your desire, or how you might benefit from it. The only thing that matters is your politics.

    And you have the gall to contrast that sort of restriction with the fact that some folks in the US may not have instant, free, unlimited Internet access 24/7, and try and suggest some sort of moral equivalence? Shame on you. I’ll bet thousands upon thousands of Cubans would gladly ride two hours each way on an overcrowded bus and wait in line for the chance to use the Internet, and pay for the opportunity to do so. It’s the electronic equivalent of starpping on inner tubes and trying to float to Florida, and thousands try that each year, and some die trying. But we’ll never know, will we?

    You’ll forgive me, but for all its shortcomings, I’ll take the free-market model. It may be that a small proportion of the US populace doesn’t have free Internet access. It may be that some do because of government funding. But what is your alternative? *Cuba*?

    llater,

    llamas

  • Simon Jester

    “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
    – Barry Goldwater

  • Simon Jester

    Nina D. wrote:
    what’s a poppet? Some sort of crooked-toothed slang?

    “Poppet” is a term of endearment, like “darling”. It’s possible that David was being ironic when he used it…

    (BTW, Dictionary.com is a very useful web resource for such questions.)

    “Crooked-toothed slang”? Hmm, could this be a reference to the fact that David is British?

    Have you ever wondered why the British are perceived as having crooked teeth by the Americans? Here’s a hint: socialised medicine.

    Or do your socialist principles stop at your teeth?

  • Guy Herbert

    Shawn:

    I’m glad to hear you don’t live in a black and white world.

    In answer to your question: all three, but to a very limited degree. And as readers of my comments elsewhere will recall, I’m dubious about rights.

    Maybe I count as a classical liberal, but that’s a pretty endangered and extreme position on this side of the Atlantic. And I’m proud thus far to be an extremist, but I’m still pretty moderate by the anarcho-capitalist standards of some who comment here.

    I don’t know that “extremist” is pejorative at all, even if it gets used that way by people who happen to disagree with the extreme in question. Likewise I’m nervous of axiomatic definitions of political tendencies. When I say “libertarian” my precise meaning is controlled by the context, but I usually mean something like “tending to promote personal freedom as the primary political good”. A general direction, not a fixed creed.

  • Verity

    Simon Jester – You are right. Brits these days have mouths indistinguishable from American or Aussie mouths, and that is because dental treatment is largely no longer available on the National Health. So people pay. And, it being a free market, the dentists are motivated to do a good job. Capitalism at work.

  • Nina D.

    “You make a broad assumption that free public Internet access in the US exists *only* because of government funding, and that it would not exist otherwise.”
    —-
    I did not make that assumption- When i claimed the internet was far from accessible in the states (and it is), you all jumped on me about public libraries. So you’ve twisted the argument to


    No free market exists in the world? I would like you to read this v-e-r-y carefully:
    Hong Kong

    Verity – i would call Hong Kong a free market, but like i stated in my post that’s a *relative* term. Hong Kong is a free market relative to the norms of the rest of the world, but not an absolute free market – even Hong Kong’s government is interventionist at times.

    —-
    It may be that a small proportion of the US populace doesn’t have free Internet access. It may be that some do because of government funding. But what is your alternative? *Cuba*?
    —-
    No, that’s not my alternative. And i stated that many times yesterday. Yet somehow people feel safe portraying me as an admirer of Castro:

    Look, David Carr said all socialist countris and free market countries should follow their ideaologies to the extreme. As someone who tries to guide my decision-making based on evidence rather than dogmas or religion, this is very alarming.
    It is clear you are all more comfortable talking in black and white (HK vs Cuba) while the reality is it’s quite possible to have good and bad internet access in socialist AND capitalist nations. It’s happening all over the world right now. Will anyone hear at least acknowledge that?

    If not, i’m gone (which most of you probably want anyway, but…) – there is no point in discussion if we’re not all willing to learn.

  • llamas

    Nine D. wrote –

    ‘”You make a broad assumption that free public Internet access in the US exists *only* because of government funding, and that it would not exist otherwise.”
    —-
    I did not make that assumption- When i claimed the internet was far from accessible in the states (and it is), you all jumped on me about public libraries. So you’ve twisted the argument to
    ” (tails off at this point.)

    Well, pardon me, but you did make that assumption – in fact you made it as an exclusive assertion, to wit:

    ‘U.S. libraries are only able to provide internet access through governbment intervnetion’

    This means to me- well, exactly what it says. The sole means by which public libraries are able to provide free public Internet access is due to government funding – according to you. That’s what ‘only’ means – doesn’t it?

    Who is twisting the argument here?

    You made the assertion that the Internet is ‘far from accessible” in the US – you said it many ways, but that’s your latest form of words, so let’s go with that. Several people – me included – jumped all over you for that assertion, becasue it’s just not true. Your figures were out of date, and you simply ignored (or are ignorant of) the multiple access routes to the Internet, both public and private, which exist in the US. Up-to-date data shows that the US has among the highest rates of Internet access anywhere.

    You then began the fuzdazzle about how some of these access rtoutes are publicly-funded – eg, libraries. What is your point? Is access somehow less real because it is publicly-funded? Is it somehow a given that, were that public funding to dry up tomorrow, that every single Internet user who uses such a publicly-funded route would suddenly cease to use the Internet? And do you really think that the $1 billion of funding over 6 years which you describe is making any real difference in rates of Internet access? Do the math. If we take just the poorest 10% of the population, this amounts to a paltry $5 per person per year. How much Internet access is that buying, would you say? If that pork-barrel funding were to evaporate tomorrow, do you really suggest that US Internet access rates – among the very highest in the world – would significantly change?

    All of your fuzdazzle remains beside the point – a typical socialist, when confronted by the unpleasant truths, you change the subject. The fact is that the US has one of the highest Internet access rates in the world, free of any government intervention in personal choices. Use the internet, don’t use it, your choice. Cuba, by contrast . . . .

    You now try and re-frame the question by saying

    ‘ it’s quite possible to have good and bad internet access in socialist AND capitalist nations. It’s happening all over the world right now. Will anyone hear at least acknowledge that?’

    and try and place some sort of equivalence in play. The typical socialist response – ‘yes, but . . . .’ Followed by the next typical socialist response – ‘if we can’t even agree on this, I’m taking my ball and going home . . .’

    You got hammered on the data. You got hammered on your assertions. I just caught you denying what you had asserted just a few posts before.

    ‘We’re not all willing to learn?’ So far – what do we have to learn from you, Nina? How to make assertions which are not supported by the facts? How to change your story and deny you’re doing it? How helpful is *that*?

    What’s happened here is that you accidentally stumbled into a large pen full of big dogs. You thought that the sort of weak, unsupported waffle that passes for debate where you normally play would suffice here, and you got a rude awakening. Now, you can stay and rise to this level of discourse, where data matters and you have to answer for what you say, and be welcome doing it – or you can take your ball and go home. Wailing all the way “they’re stoopid! They won’t learn what I tell them . . !’

    Be interesting to see what you decide to do . . .

    llater,

    llamas

  • Brian (MN)

    Nina–

    You wrote:

    Basically, Cuba is making explicit the rules that globalized capitalist countries have created: only the elite are allowed internet access.

    That is a ridiculous lie, you’ve been shown that it’s a ridiculous lie, you’ve given us no evidence that it’s not a ridiculous lie, and now you’re whining:

    As someone who tries to guide my decision-making based on evidence rather than dogmas or religion, this is very alarming.

    Perfect.

    Yeah, it’s a real loss if you go.

  • Verity

    Before China took over, Hong Kong’s government was never interventionist. Never. Don’t state as facts things you don’t know and expect no one on this blog to pick you up on your false assumptions.

  • Shawn

    Guy, yes in my book you are a classical liberal, and not a libertarian, but thats just my personal opinion. Classical liberals do not sign up to the non-intitiation of force principle which to me means they are not libertarians. But I do not consider them statists, and I do consider them allies.

    While I do not advocate a fundamentalist approach to libertarianism (just as an example I am in favour of the U.S. government continuing the NASA program which many libertarians are opposed to, although I support its continuation only if its funding is made private and voluntary), I do advocate clear principles, and the non-initiation of force principle is essential as far as determining what libertariansim stands for.

    I have my own issues with anarcho-capitalists, partly because I have a virulent dislike of the the lewrockwell group, and I have been accused by some of them as being a statist myself.

  • Simon Jester

    Nina D. wrote:
    there is no point in discussion if we’re not all willing to learn.

    So, Nina, what have you learnt?

  • Simon Jester

    “I can see that this relationship is something we’re all going to have to work at.”
    – Eddie the computer’s backup personality, HHGttG

  • Nina D.

    Before China took over, Hong Kong’s government was never interventionist. Never. Don’t state as facts things you don’t know

    Sorry, i didn’t realize we were talking about the last millenium here. You said HK was a true free market and it is not. I don’t know why this is so hard for you to swallow.


    So, Nina, what have you learnt?

    I’ve learned to be more measured about my claims.

    In particular, my first comment about Cuba and internet access in capitalist socieities was wrong. Brian (MN) is right.
    What i intended to say (and should have said more explicitly) was that there are serious internet access problems in both socialist and capitalist nations (for very different reasons of of course). And of course there are very successful internet-enabled populations among socialism and capitalism.

    This leads to my point that socialism is not necessarily against internet access – Fidel, one particular leader and his government.
    My comment was interpretted as sympathy toward cuba and has severely distracted from the main point i wanted to explore.

    I’ve also learned that many people here have a strange view of the free market U.S. and access to the internet.
    There have been claims by verity, s. weasel, and llamas that public libraries enable everyone access to the internet in the u.s. First, this is not true and there has been no evidence presented to me. Second, library access IN SPITE of the free market and because of government intervention – the government sponsored e-rate regularions and invested over $1,000,000,000 in internet access in public libraries.
    Somehow, public libraries are used to support the claim that everyone in the u.s. has access because of the relatively free market. And when i suggest the government is responsible for bringing internet access to underserved areas, everyone goes quiet. So what is it? Does everyone in the u.s. have internet access because of the market? Or does everyone in the u.s. have access because of the market AND government interventions toward goals of equity?

    And depite the fact i’ve tried to answer dozens of questions, not one samizdatan has answered my original question:
    it’s quite possible to have good and bad internet access in socialist AND capitalist nations. It’s happening all over the world right now. Will anyone hear at least acknowledge that?

    I’ll check back for responses later today and if not, i’ll suppose i’ll leave thinking i’ve stumbled upon a pen of poodles unwilling to compromise their religious views of government. It’s a shame, because i’ve seen a few authors here who i believe are insightful and intelligent.

  • Nina D.

    You got hammered on the data. You got hammered on your assertions. I just caught you denying what you had asserted just a few posts before.

    Ooh, i almost missed this masochistic gem.

    Yep, you ‘caught me’. I made mistakes, admitted that, and am trying to learn from them. Is that a problem? Is everyone supposed to be always right all the time here?

  • mad dog

    “Is everyone supposed to be always right all the time here?”

    Hopefully and indeed, according to Samizdat HQ, we have moved past the traditional Left-Right socio-political context.

    Although you could be forgiven for not reaslising that judging by some of the many comments above.

  • limberwulf

    I would certainly agree that internet access availability specifically may be good or bad in various countries of various governments. I would also say that in the short term, government providing things seems to be great, in some most cases far easier than actually working for something.
    However, in the long run, government provided services fall to ruin and inefficiency, whereas free market services only fall when demand falls.
    The key difference that should be seen in all this is that totalitarian governments (especially dictatorships) eventually find themselves having to restrict information more and more to retain power. The more people know, the more dissatisfied they are with being under the dominion of another. Freedom is a part of man, and unless you are sheilded form its power and beauty, you will strive for it in spite of the obstacles.

    The bottom line is that no philosophy of government is flawless, because in practice it must be engaged in by people, none of whom are perfect beings. But in the end, governments that do not support individual freedoms will eventually fail, or will find themselves having to take more and more from their people just to maintain their perceived ideal. What will happen when there is nothing left to take?

  • Simon Jester

    Nina D. wrote:
    not one samizdatan has answered my original question:
    it’s quite possible to have good and bad internet access in socialist AND capitalist nations. It’s happening all over the world right now. Will anyone hear at least acknowledge that?

    Not your original question, but let’s assume you meant “earlier”. Let us also assume that we are referring to relatively socialist and relatively capitalist countries.

    While I will stipulate the possibility, I would like to see some solid examples of “good internet access” in socialist nations. (By “good internet access”, do you mean widely available internet access?)

    By contrast, if you look at the 2004 Index of Economic Freedom (ie. what degree of capitalism exists in each country) cited by Alan K Henderson above, you should be able to see a strong correlation between capitalism and levels of access to the internet.

  • Nina D.

    Limberwulf – thanks for the most reasonable representation of ideas i’ve seen here yet. I agree with most of what you said, though you wouldn’t know it from others’ simplistic descriptions of me as some sort of extremist castro-sympathizing murderous statist. :)

  • T. J. Madison

    Rather than bitch about the Cuban internet lockdown, lets do something about it!

    What we need is a bunch of compact wireless/satellite internet transcievers that can be smuggled into Cuba and sold on the black market.

    We’d start by getting a Marine at Gitmo to rig up a 2-way sat link on the base. That, in turn, could be hooked up to a 802.11g antenna which, hopefully, could reach the nearest Cuban civilian area. Resistance elements could then set up relays to try and reach as much of the island as possible. Latency and bandwidth would be awful, but better than nothing, right?

    There’s got to be some techies out there who would be willing to donate time/resources/cheapass computers for this purpose, right? Lotsa people have junk computers which are more than adequate.

    Let’s get to work.

  • Paul Marks

    Nina D. states that a socialist country can offer good internet access (whether this means access that is free of political control or just lots of people with some access is not clear).

    Which socialist country is Nina D. talking about? Clearly not Cuba, and I doubt that Nina means North Korea – so what country?

    Or are we talking about a theorectical socialist country? In which case libertarians can talk about theoretical free socieites (in which there would be no need for government subsidies to libraries). Also the theoretical case made against socialism (by Ludwig Von Mises and others) would be relevant.

    To write as if either long term prosperity or civil liberties were possible under socialism is incorrect.

    Sweden harldy counts as a nation where most of the “means of production” are under government (or if one prefers “public”) ownership.

    Certainly government spending is high in Sweden (although this was not always so – within living memory government spending was a lower proportion of total spending in Sweden than it was in Britain), but this is government acting as a PARASITE on the economy, not government as a productive force.

    Surely socialists advocate government (or “the collective” if one prefers) as a productive force, not as a parasite.

  • Verity

    Nina – “And depite the fact i’ve tried to answer dozens of questions, not one samizdatan has answered my original question:
    it’s quite possible to have good and bad internet access in socialist AND capitalist nations.”

    Yes? And your question is?

    ” … i’ll suppose i’ll leave thinking i’ve stumbled upon a pen of poodles unwilling to compromise their religious views of government. It’s a shame, because i’ve seen a few authors here who i believe are insightful and intelligent.”

    You mean, despite all your cogency and the sophistication of your arguments backed by sound facts, some of us have failed to be persuaded to your point of view? Oh! Shame on us for not appreciating your acuity. Some of us are just going to have to live with the fact that we disappointed you.

    By the way, I’m not a dog person, but I do know that poodles are highly intelligent and brave hunting dogs. Their coats are cut as they are not to be fancy, but because it makes their fur into a flotation device when they jump unhesitatingly into icy waters to retrieve game.

  • llamas

    Would anyone disagree that France is a socialist country? High taxes, strong policies of wealth redistribution, socialized health-care and pensions, large welfare state? Yes? Can we agree on that?

    (we’ll overlook the gargantuan fiscal corruption of its leaders, that’s a story for another day)

    In which case:

    http://www.computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/UNID/C1F6A082562EB682CC256E160006A48E?OpenDocument

    This is not the first example of a nation attempting to censor the Internet – it’s just today’s example. Several of the Eurosocialist nations have tried this in the past, with varying degrees of ‘success’.
    In Denmark, a man has already gone to jail for expressing his (admittedly unsavoury) opinions on the Internet. It would appear that some socialist nations have looked upon the Cuban approach and like what they see . . . .

    llater,

    llamas

  • The Wobbly Guy

    On this note, there’s a very nice quote from a game, of all things.

    “Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.”

    The Wobbly Guy

  • Nina D.

    Which socialist country is Nina D. talking about? Clearly not Cuba, and I doubt that Nina means North Korea – so what country?

    Hilarious… the self-righteous can’t get over their selective definitions fo socialism. In this thread, we have named a number of more affluent european nations who are mostly socialist. But if your extreme views of socialism make you less threatened, so be it.

    Verity – thanks for the info. on poodles. Did not know that (i’m not a dog-lover, and i’ve never seen poodles hunt for anything but their masters’ attention).

  • Lynb

    Nina D.
    Your original comment was “This is a non-news story.

    Basically, Cuba is making explicit the rules that globalized capitalist countries have created: only the elite are allowed internet access.”

    You were explicitly equating the Cuban government’s crackdown on Cubans’ access to the internet with the alleged inability of a citizen in a capitalist society to pay for internet access. There is an enormous difference between someone being unable to pay for a commodity and a government forbidding access to that commodity. The internet is a commodity, not an inalienable right. In the U.S., if you can pay for it, you can get it. In Cuba, it doesn’t matter if you can pay for it – if you are not one of the chosen ones, you’re out of luck. Your moral equivalency is what ticked people off. You were called on your inane comment and soundly rebutted.

  • Simon Jester

    Nice way to dodge the question, Nina.

  • Nina D.

    Simon Jester – which question? You didn’t leave any in your last post.

  • Simon Jester

    Not in my post, Nina. I was referring to “Which socialist country is Nina D. talking about?”

    Your response included: “we have named a number of more affluent european nations who are mostly socialist.” (Royalty?)

    You had earlier mentioned Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, as countries with widespread internet access. If you think these countries are mostly socialist, perhaps you should check the 2004 Index of Economic Freedom cited by Alan K Henderson, above.

  • Nina D.

    Yes Simon Jester, I believe Sweden (for example) is mostly socialist.

    Of course if we adopt the extremist notions of socialism that seem to be so popular here, it is not a socialist state. Sweden’s economy, after all, is relatively free (government doesn’t own all land or means of production).

    However, it is clearly a social welfare state – social democrats control parliament, income tax rates are the highest in the world, environmental policy is strict, and the government has its hands in 50% of the GDP.
    In many ways, Sweden has stayed much more true to Marx’s theory of economic evolution than the popular dictatorships talked about here (N. Korea and Cuba).

    So yes, Sweden is mostly socialist.
    And Sweden has (arguably) the best internet access in the world.

    So a socialist state can have good internet access. Imagine that.

  • Shawn

    “So a socialist state can have good internet access. Imagine that.”

    A well fed slave, or in this case a slave with good internet access, is still a slave. If you take a good look at Sweden you will find a passive highly controlled population with little individual initiative. Soft focus socialist slavery is every bit as evil as the hardcore variety in Cuba.

  • Simon Jester

    Nina,

    Had you noticed that Sweden was rated as far more economically free than your earlier example of Mexico, as a supposedly capitalist state?

    Obviously, it is far more socialist than I personally would like, but the same is true of most countries in the world.

    I think I have to disagree with Shawn, at least on the question of whether soft focus slavery is every bit as evil as Cuba’s hardcore variety. Sweden’s system allows for reform – and they have been making some moves towards a more capitalist system, in recent years.

  • Paul Marks

    To call someone “self righteous” and “extreme” and to claim that they have made up definitions, is to make very strong statements.

    All I did was use the standard, traditional definition of socialism (created and used by socialists themselves) i.e. socialism as the control of the means of production by the state (or “the people” or “the public” or “the collective” depending on what form of words one prefers).

    It is harldy my fault if ignorant people (often conservatives) like to call high government spending “socialism” as a “boo word”. I totally oppose high government spending, but high government spending is not “socialism”. A socialist (as Nina D. must know) is someone who wants the public authority (or whatever form of words one prefers) to be a productive force – not a parasite.

    If Nina D. has any honour at all she will apologize.