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Anti-Capitalist Sentiment (with some morality)

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  1. #1
    Renton's Avatar
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    Default Anti-Capitalist Sentiment (with some morality)

    Let me start by saying I don't want this to be a poo-flinging thread or a rehash of old discussions. I've just become inundated with anti-capitalism stuff lately and its been kind of driving me crazy so I wanted to talk to some smart left-minded folks which I am assuming is nearly everyone in this forum.

    First, a few questions:

    1) Is it morally wrong to pay someone 1 dollar an hour? If yes, why? If no, what is a set of conditions where it becomes wrong to pay someone 1 dollar an hour?

    2) I am a gold miner. I spend five million dollars to buy five potential mining sites (at one million dollars per site). I am speculating that one of those sites will have 5.5 million dollars worth of gold thus my expected profit is half a million minus overhead. I spend 200k on mining crews and equipment to speculate these mines, paying each of them 10 dollars an hour. Four of them are dead ends, but luckily the fifth has a gold vein that I sell for 7 million. I have profited 1.8 million dollars. Am I wrong?

    3) I am an entrepreneur. I invest one million dollars in a restaurant. I estimate that I will lose this investment about 80% of the time and 20% of the time I will have a successful restaurant that will repay the investment x5 in a few years. Luckily, it is a hugely successful restaurant that nets 1.5 million dollars in the first year. How much should I pay the bus-boy? I paid him the minimum wage. Am I wrong?

    4) I was a big fan of Back to the Future 2 so I decided to invent the Hoverboard. My Hoverboard company of which I am the primary share holder nets 500 million dollars a year, which I can spend or recapitalize at my discretion. How much money is it ok for me to take for myself?

    5) Is profit wrong? That one is obviously a tongue-in-cheek rhetorical, but seriously, what are some sets of conditions under which profit becomes wrong? How much profit is too much, and why?
  2. #2
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    1) If someone wants to do the work for $1/hr, and isn't coerced or under duress to accept the wage, then it's fine. A wage should be an agreement over the value of said work. The value is a compromise between the value of the employees work from both the employer's and employee's perspectives.
    This breaks down in the cases where the employer is withholding the value of the work to the company, or where there is widespread wage oppression. Both are wrong because they prevent the employee from effectively bargaining a fair wage.

    2) You are not wrong, assuming the wage contracts were clear.
    I think it's morally reprehensible for one person in a company to earn a lifetime's worth of money while other people in the company are living from hand to mouth. I don't know the "right" ratio of profit distribution, but when one person's net profits translate to long-term economic stability, then I think the lowest full-time employee should not be in constant crisis over short-term economic issues (I.e. feeding, clothing, and sheltering their family).

    3) See 1). If the bussboy knows the actual value his position brings to the company, and is empowered to discuss the matter of his wage openly with you, without fear of losing his position for having the discussion, then it's fair. If that particular employee does not think it's fair and is somehow coerced to keep the job at a wage he resents, then that's a problem. Assuming the bussboy is free to quit, and even to report about / protest the issue publicly, then it's your problem if bussboys keep quitting.

    4) Determine what the actual value of your work is to the company. Subtract the amount that you are personally willing to invest in the company's future. That's fair pay.
    Sure the company wouldn't exist if you didn't start it, but it also wouldn't exist if any task that needed to be performed had failed. R&D, Accounting, Logistics, Manufacturing, Marketing, etc... all these roles play a part to the profit of the company. Determine the appropriate sourcing of company profit and distribute the profit accordingly.

    5) No. Humans make value by creating things that save other humans time. That value is inherently subjective and self-oriented. A person, or team of people's thoughts and effort created a value that wouldn't exist otherwise. They should be entitled to the benefits of their effort. The greater the benefit is, to the greater number of people, the greater the reward of the initial effort of the creator(s). It is unfair to expect a person or group of people to make great sacrifices for an end that does not yield them great reward.

    ***
    All of this is fuzzy. I've left it vague on purpose. It's all relative in ethics.... Call me a relativist... there's worse things for a physicist to be called.

    To me, it's functioning free-market capitalism when it looks like socialism, but the government isn't involved.
  3. #3
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    1) Is it morally wrong to pay someone 1 dollar an hour? If yes, why? If no, what is a set of conditions where it becomes wrong to pay someone 1 dollar an hour?

    Of course not. Its only ok though when its voluntary. Conditions where its wrong include when you were promised more, when you are forced to do something for that wage instead of another (jury duty, for example), and some other things where it wasnt really your decision to be paid that amount.

    2) I am a gold miner. I spend five million dollars to buy five potential mining sites (at one million dollars per site). I am speculating that one of those sites will have 5.5 million dollars worth of gold thus my expected profit is half a million minus overhead. I spend 200k on mining crews and equipment to speculate these mines, paying each of them 10 dollars an hour. Four of them are dead ends, but luckily the fifth has a gold vein that I sell for 7 million. I have profited 1.8 million dollars. Am I wrong?

    I dont see why you would be. Are you saying the people that mined it deserve something? I dont see why they would be entitled to anything when their contract didnt cover it.

    3) I am an entrepreneur. I invest one million dollars in a restaurant. I estimate that I will lose this investment about 80% of the time and 20% of the time I will have a successful restaurant that will repay the investment x5 in a few years. Luckily, it is a hugely successful restaurant that nets 1.5 million dollars in the first year. How much should I pay the bus-boy? I paid him the minimum wage. Am I wrong?

    Whatever the agreed upon rate is. Youre only wrong in paying him minimum wage if he agreed to something else. You're getting at workers being entitled to...shares(?) of a business or the overall profit of the business but that isnt something they automatically get.

    4) I was a big fan of Back to the Future 2 so I decided to invent the Hoverboard. My Hoverboard company of which I am the primary share holder nets 500 million dollars a year, which I can spend or recapitalize at my discretion. How much money is it ok for me to take for myself?

    All of it. Even if you're some horder of money, it will find its way back into the economy eventually.

    5) Is profit wrong? That one is obviously a tongue-in-cheek rhetorical, but seriously, what are some sets of conditions under which profit becomes wrong? How much profit is too much, and why?[/QUOTE]

    This doesnt have an answer. I mean...its wrong to profit off of killing people...but only because its wrong to kill people. Making money isnt wrong by itself. If you are somehow pushing others into non-profitable situations, then maybe that would be wrong. Idk. These questions are weird.
  4. #4
    Your questions seem to conflate morality with legality. I don't find it morally wrong to take a piss "in public" (meaning in an alley behind a bar or what have you), yet I do understand why it's illegal in an urban setting and support such a law being in place.

    So, yeah, an action morally excusable for one, may be an action to the detriment of society.
  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    Your questions seem to conflate morality with legality. I don't find it morally wrong to take a piss "in public" (meaning in an alley behind a bar or what have you), yet I do understand why it's illegal in an urban setting and support such a law being in place.

    So, yeah, an action morally excusable for one, may be an action to the detriment of society.
    I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion. I'm strictly talking about morality; legality hasn't entered into this yet. And anyway, legality is often a public imposition of the morals of society. For example minimum wage laws exist because most of us find it immoral or at least distasteful for people to be paid in accordance with the market value of their work, when that value is lower than a certain level at least.


    Could you be more specific about which of my hypothetical actions are a detriment to society and why?
    Last edited by Renton; 12-04-2013 at 12:23 AM.
  6. #6
    Renton's Avatar
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    I guess the main thing I was trying to illustrate with these scenarios is that there are a lot of obscure factors that go into starting or running a business. Anti-capitalist people seem to only look at the tip of the iceberg that are businesses that are booming, when many businesses go bust or never get off the ground to begin with. They point at people who are making millions of dollars for doing basically nothing and they see a problem in that, but they forget about the ones who lost money or who will lose money.

    For a poker analogy, it's like set mining with a small pocket pair. Imagine a 1/2 game with 300 dollar stack, a really tight player raises to 10 dollars and you call with 22 hoping to flop a set and win his stack. 87.5% of the time you're just losing 10 dollars, but you're speculating that the other 12.5% of the time you'll win at least 80 dollars.

    So imagine that you call and flop a set and end up winning 100 dollars in a pot with it, now some anti-capitalist fuckwad makes you give 40 dollars back to the losing players at the table for moral reasons. Wouldn't that make you want to stop playing poker?
  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    4) Determine what the actual value of your work is to the company. Subtract the amount that you are personally willing to invest in the company's future. That's fair pay.
    Sure the company wouldn't exist if you didn't start it, but it also wouldn't exist if any task that needed to be performed had failed. R&D, Accounting, Logistics, Manufacturing, Marketing, etc... all these roles play a part to the profit of the company. Determine the appropriate sourcing of company profit and distribute the profit accordingly.
    Why should you distribute company profits to people who aren't assuming any risk? Why should you give a bonus that's any more than the bare minimum to achieve an optimal boost in morale and productivity?
  8. #8
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    1) No. The only way its wrong to pay someone a dollar is if they don't have the right to earn 0 dollars an hour by not working for you.

    2) No.

    3) No, but if said bus boy spits into a food critic's plate causing you to lose your reputation and your business I'll have zero pity for you.

    4) All of it, but if you get shot in the streets by some lefty for being greedy, ill have no sympathy for you.

    5) Greed is good!
  9. #9
    Anti-capitalism is an education problem, but it doesn't just apply to the lay. Academics and professionals tend to not treat economics like a science, and we all get screwed because of it. Supply and demand is like physics: it operates on rules. But unlike physics, professionals often disregard the rules of supply and demand. It's understandable because we're talking about peoples' lives, their health and happiness. So morals appear to be paramount

    But it's still a science, and one of its foundations is an operational system of supply and demand. This system includes the lowering or raising of wages for all sorts of reasons. Obstructing capitalism to help the masses will only hurt the masses because that which creates what is help for the masses is based on capitalism. However, welfarism can be added in the ways that capitalism fails, and we've recently discussed that
  10. #10
    If I have a hugely successful restaurant, I'm not upping the busboy's pay just because I'm successful. And I would hope nobody else would either. It's bad for business and it's bad for the society. The busboy is applying his skills and is competing with the supply of other busboys. If he gets paid more "just because", it creates all sorts of problems. He should get paid more when he's a better busboy who busses better than other busboys, or he should acquire skills and move up to better positions where he provides more value and gets paid more, freeing up his job for other busboys.

    We want a well-functioning capitalist system so we can have businesses that create all sorts of things. We want a well-functioning welfare system so somebody like the busboy is able to apply himself and learn to do things that make the demand for his talents higher than being a busboy. It may not make intuitive sense that somebody who is engaging in an essential activity to the business (bussing tables) isn't treated like he's essential, but it doesn't have to make intuitive sense. Most things that are true don't make sense. Gravity doesn't make sense, but if you fall you're gonna hurt yourself. Supply and demand doesn't make sense but if a business owner overpays a busboy, he's making a bad decision
  11. #11
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    Down with capitalism!

    Anarchy forever!

    Alright I don't mind a little bit of healthy capitalism. I've no problem with the hard working and super smart being rewarded for being better than average.

    The problem with capitalism is that it is driven purely by profit, and underhand tactics are rewarded, not punished. Bankers in this country get bonuses and fat pensions, even when they fail so hard that the taxpayer has to pay to bail the banks out of a crisis.

    Capitalism does not reward ethical behaviour, on the contrary it punishes it because it puts you at a disadvantage against those who are willing to act unethically.

    Fuck capitalism.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  12. #12
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    Why should you distribute company profits to people who aren't assuming any risk?
    It seems elitist and naive to assume that anyone isn't assuming any risk.

    I've heard an argument that the risks faced by the working class are, in fact, much greater than the "wealthy" business owner. In the event of a failed company, who's more likely to go hungry? Who's more likely to have a difficult time picking up their lives and providing for their families? Who's more likely to face long-term upset to their livelihood?

    The dollar amount risked by the business owner may be greater, but the actual physical risk to the health and livelihood of themselves and their families doesn't compare with the risk the working class bears. It's not easily quantified in a dollar amount.

    Bah... I don't like these arguments, but still... the notion that the working class assumes no risk seems heartless and short-sighted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    Why should you give a bonus that's any more than the bare minimum to achieve an optimal boost in morale and productivity?
    If your argument is that you're entitled to the money because it represents the value you've created in the world, then you are a hypocrite if you do not reward someone who provides you value - by paying them money according to their value.

    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    even when they fail so hard that the taxpayer has to pay to bail the banks out of a crisis.
    Yeah, taxpayers bailed them out. Then they repaid the loan on time, with interest. At least get that part of the story, too.
    Last edited by MadMojoMonkey; 12-04-2013 at 01:46 AM.
  13. #13
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    If your argument is that you're entitled to the money because it represents the value you've created in the world, then you are a hypocrite if you do not reward someone who provides you value - by paying them money according to their value.
    This is one of the best things I've read at this site.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  14. #14
    In a moderate sidetrack but still relevant, a significant part of why people are against capitalism is because they believe that accumulation of wealth is hoarding. I use to believe this as well. The idea is that wealthy people use a smaller percentage of their wealth than non-wealthy people, which decreases the overall cycling of resources through the economy. This would be totally true if the premise of hoarding was true. But it's not. Wealth hubs, even those of *gulp* Paris Hilton, play an integral role in the health of the economy. I can't explain how because this is high level economics, but it basically has to do with savings rates and investment capital and the million things those two affect. "Hoarding" is a hugely popular media item, and virtually everybody believes it's something that happens. But it doesn't happen. Money is virtually never hoarded. It all plays some sort of role in the aggregate

    With this in mind, we can address the next tier for the anti-capitalist: hoarders should be taxed (it's free money because hoarded money isn't used for anything!). Again, if the hoarding concept was true, this would be true, but the hoarding assumption is false. A strong tax code doesn't look to extract more from the phantom hoarders, but looks to consumption. The money that "hoarders" get comes from consumption anyways, so consumption taxes aren't leaving them out. With consumption taxes, business owners (who are the main savers and investors) can maximize their efficacy in the economy, but if instead of consumption taxes their "hoarding" was taxed, we would just end up with a less stable business structure that depends more on rampant consumption to keep it running. It's ironic that the really hippie liberal types rail against consumption culture then turn around and promote taxation that would increase the consumption culture. They should be praising the savings culture.

    As for how the welfare state fits into this, I don't see how it's a problem to have the majority of tax revenues that pay for welfarism to come from those who reap the benefits of welfarism. Perhaps the tax code has to be moderately progressive to achieve this, but I have a feeling it doesn't. The welfare state applies to almost all income levels, and that dynamic alone may provide the revenues needed to provide for all income levels. Regardless, even most ardent free market capitalists believe in progressiveness of the tax code. Also, income inequality is the wrong way of looking at things. It doesn't really mean anything. If we doubled the amount of millionaires in the US, inequality would increase, but the economy would do far better

    So why don't we let the markets be the markets, tax consumption, and make a welfare state that allows people who wanna work harder, work harder?
  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    The problem with capitalism is that it is driven purely by profit, and underhand tactics are rewarded, not punished. Bankers in this country get bonuses and fat pensions, even when they fail so hard that the taxpayer has to pay to bail the banks out of a crisis.
    The banker bailout problem is a government one, not a capitalism one. The free market works best as a profit and LOSS system. When you remove the loss part of that equation it fucks everything up, and incentivizes bankers to do riskier things to increase their potential for profit. Your's is a valid criticism of the status quo, but not of capitalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    Capitalism does not reward ethical behaviour, on the contrary it punishes it because it puts you at a disadvantage against those who are willing to act unethically.
    As long as there are measures taken against outright aggression and fraud, this isn't really the case. In fact, ethical behavior is usually rewarded. Untrustworthy businesses aren't business that are likely to succeed long term. Now what one person deems to be ethical might vary depending on the person. You, for example, probably find it unethical to pay a busboy 5 dollars an hour even though thats what supply and demand have deemed the price of his services to be. I don't find that unethical at all. But I think we can both agree that it's not ok to defraud people or commit coercive acts against them for monetary gain.
    Last edited by Renton; 12-04-2013 at 03:54 AM.
  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    It seems elitist and naive to assume that anyone isn't assuming any risk.

    I've heard an argument that the risks faced by the working class are, in fact, much greater than the "wealthy" business owner. In the event of a failed company, who's more likely to go hungry? Who's more likely to have a difficult time picking up their lives and providing for their families? Who's more likely to face long-term upset to their livelihood?

    The dollar amount risked by the business owner may be greater, but the actual physical risk to the health and livelihood of themselves and their families doesn't compare with the risk the working class bears. It's not easily quantified in a dollar amount.

    Bah... I don't like these arguments, but still... the notion that the working class assumes no risk seems heartless and short-sighted.
    The people at the top are under no guarantee to make money and often have huge chunks of their assets at risk at any given time. The people at the bottom are working under a contract that pays them for their time no matter what. Importantly, they can't actually lose anything except future pay. I'm not trying to marginalize how potentially devastating it can be to lose one's job, but monetarily its a tiny risk, and everyone has some value to provide in the market, it's just a matter of what pay they're willing to accept.


    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    If your argument is that you're entitled to the money because it represents the value you've created in the world, then you are a hypocrite if you do not reward someone who provides you value - by paying them money according to their value.
    That isn't my argument. My argument is that no one is entitled to anything but what they voluntarily accept.

    When you go to a fruit stand, do you ignore the price tag on an apple and instead pay the dude according to your opinion of the apples value? What if it's a really hot day and you can't imagine anything tastier at this moment than a refreshing apple? Surely in that case it has even greater value to you.

    Now it might seem heartless to compare people with fruit, but you have to look objectively at labor, because like it or not, people are commodities, and they don't somehow work differently than soybeans or apples or oil just because they have a pulse. They work exactly the same, and to ignore or deny that when discussing the economy is to be naive.
    Last edited by Renton; 12-04-2013 at 03:55 AM.
  17. #17
    Isn't the world massively overpopulated Renton? What happens when the supply greatly outnumbers the demand? Or are you just saying everyone who is alive atm who doesn't really have a job that requires any sort of skill should just have their wages cut to a level where living in the community that they need to be in to have the job in the first place just isn't sustainable?

    Out of interest what would you say the conditions that would be needed to have a completely free market?
    Last edited by Savy; 12-04-2013 at 04:05 AM.
  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImSavy View Post
    Isn't the world massively overpopulated Renton?
    The world isn't overpopulated, not even close. Bangladesh might be overpopulated, but the world has a long way to go. Overpopulation is pretty much a myth. Studies have shown that population growth naturally curbs after a point. This usually goes hand in hand with the increase in wealth of a society. India has a few problems with population growth but its a still a huge country and it's also an emerging economy. As its economy continues to have runaway growth, population growth will subside like it has in western Europe and North America. Japan is actually having major problems with population loss. All of the soothsayers talking about overpopulation are simply taking the world population graph and drawing a tangent line and then its like "oh wow we'll have 15 billion people in a few decades!" but thankfully population graphs are curves and not straight lines, eh?

    Quote Originally Posted by ImSavy View Post
    What happens when the supply greatly outnumbers the demand?
    When supply greatly exceeds demand, prices go down until demand increases or supply is reduced. This is generally a positive thing for society because it means our standard of living increases.

    Quote Originally Posted by ImSavy View Post
    Or are you just saying everyone who is alive atm who doesn't really have a job that requires any sort of skill should just have their wages cut to a level where living in the community that they need to be in to have the job in the first place just isn't sustainable?
    I'm having a lot of trouble understanding this sentence, but are you basically saing that people who live in an area with untenable living costs should nonetheless be able to be paid a living wage for a no-skill no-education job? To answer what I think is your question, I don't think its the responsibility of employers to see that their staff is paid a living wage. It's the responsibility of the employee to negotiate one. If one's lack of skills or education doesn't enable him to get a job that pays enough money to maintain the standard of living he wants, then he should find a lower paying job that builds skill so he's no longer in this predicament in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by ImSavy View Post
    Out of interest what would you say the conditions that would be needed to have a completely free market?
    It probably cannot happen. The best we can do is limit the government's ability to intervene in markets as much as we can, and make sure our government's laws empower the individual and harshly punish fraud and coercion.
  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    I'm not trying to marginalize how potentially devastating it can be to lose one's job, but monetarily its a tiny risk
    -.-
    I am disappoint

    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    everyone has some value to provide in the market, it's just a matter of what pay they're willing to accept.
    ...so you're saying...
    The market gets to "decide" what a person's value is, but a person gets to decide how the profits are apportioned.
    ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    My argument is that no one is entitled to anything but what they voluntarily accept.
    People accept things for different reasons. To a certain extent, letting an idiot be the idiot they want to be is fine, and if that means you profit because they're too stupid or lazy to interfere, then good on ya.

    If you pay a mentally disabled busboy less than other busboys because he's not savvy enough to bargain with you, then there's a problem.

    If an employer conceals or manipulates information that an employee would need to know to fairly assess the value of their position in relation to the wage offered, then there's a problem.

    If someone's choices are
    A) Have a job that pays you less than your effort is worth
    B) Have a different job that pays you less than your effort is worth
    C) more of the same
    D) Be unemployed
    then there's a problem.

    etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    When you go to a fruit stand, do you ignore the price tag on an apple and instead pay the dude according to your opinion of the apples value? What if it's a really hot day and you can't imagine anything tastier at this moment than a refreshing apple? Surely in that case it has even greater value to you.
    see above... is the guy selling apples a retarded person?

    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    Now it might seem heartless to compare people with fruit, but you have to look objectively at labor, because like it or not, people are commodities, and they don't somehow work differently than soybeans or apples or oil just because they have a pulse. They work exactly the same, and to ignore or deny that when discussing the economy is to be naive.
    Now you're moving from, "I am an entrepreneur," "I am a gold miner," and into "the economy".

    That's not what we started talking about. We're getting off topic.
  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    -.-
    I am disappoint
    Now I understand your point about the risk of losing one's job, and I agree I was probably somewhat callous in dismissing that risk, but that risk is constant regardless of what an employee is paid. Other risks are mitigated by salary jobs, though.

    When you take a salary or hourly job, you're choosing to be paid a guaranteed amount, and you kind of pay a premium for that. There's inherent value to a guaranteed paycheck that makes the money actually more valuable than if it were the same amount, only variable week to week.

    For example, what is worth more:

    1) 50,000 dollars in payments distributed evenly at 1,000 per week for 50 weeks.
    2) Getting paid a random number between negative 1,000 and positive 3,400 every week for 50 weeks (total ev of 60,000).

    Unless you are rich, its probably correct to take 1).

    People who argue for profit sharing are trying to kind of have their cake and eat it too. You either take the salary and the risk-mitigating benefits that come with it, or you accept the risk of loss and ruin that comes with being a part of a business. You dont get to choose both. Now if an employer decides that profit sharing enhances the productivity of his people such that its a good investment, or if the just is feeling charitable this Chrismas, that's his prerogative.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    ...so you're saying...
    The market gets to "decide" what a person's value is, but a person gets to decide how the profits are apportioned.
    ?
    I guess? It makes no sense for an employer to pay his employees any more than wages they would agree to. It's the same thing as paying 1.50 for a 1 dollar apple at a fruit stand. The employer owes it to his clients or customers to minimize his costs, and labor is one of those costs. This works to everyones benefit as it drives down the prices of everything and helps to spur innovation.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    If you pay a mentally disabled busboy less than other busboys because he's not savvy enough to bargain with you, then there's a problem.

    If an employer conceals or manipulates information that an employee would need to know to fairly assess the value of their position in relation to the wage offered, then there's a problem.
    That's a crass example of the basic problem of incomplete information, but I'll bite anyway.

    First of all, this problem is becoming a thing of the past with the information age. It's becoming more and more difficult to rip people off as information about prices becomes more and more easily available.

    But even in your example of a mentally disabled busboy, the system is already naturally taking care of him, because the "going rate" for busboys in a geographical area is usually a pretty narrow pair of figures. Put simply, restaurants aren't going to waste time posting a job offer for a stated wage that is completely off the reservation. The information is just too freely available for employers to get away with such shenanigans.

    Now theres still the problem of them specifically offering the disabled busboy a lower wage, but that is why mentally disabled people have proxies. Parents, family or (if you're socialistly inclined) social workers are there to fix this complete non-issue.
    Last edited by Renton; 12-04-2013 at 07:23 AM.
  21. #21
    FWIW, I think anti-capitalist sentiments are mostly a product of a bad economy. Once we're back to full employment and growing steadily, people will swiftly jump onto the pro-capitalist wagon because they will see the upward mobility of their own lives

    A secondary reason is a little more obscure: the GOP keeps backing capitalist rhetoric, but nobody believes them because of other problems attached to their brand, like social conservatism and anti-tax hysteria. For example, there really is a whole lot of truth to "job creators", but very few people believe it because they see this rhetoric not matching the policy. Even though the GOP loves the idea of "job creators", they're too much in the muck of other problems to even understand how to prove the rhetoric is true. The GOP thinks the Grover Norquist approach of slash slash slash is pro-"job creator", but it's actually anti-"job creator"
  22. #22
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    Oh good, another one of those threads where it takes me three days to just right a response to the OP...
  23. #23
    A fantastic example of why businesses should not be required to pay certain amounts to its workers

    http://www.slate.com/articles/busine...en_school.html

    If all internships were paid, the economy would suffer because experience and production would decrease. The answer is deregulating this aspect of business and subsidizing incomes through grants and/or loans. The concept doesn't make intuitive sense to a lot of people, but it works very well for the economy and society at large. It's basically a pure form of competition that finds who should be where and brings out the best, while not letting anybody go impoverished and keeping costs low
  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post

    When you go to a fruit stand, do you ignore the price tag on an apple and instead pay the dude according to your opinion of the apples value? What if it's a really hot day and you can't imagine anything tastier at this moment than a refreshing apple? Surely in that case it has even greater value to you.

    Now it might seem heartless to compare people with fruit, but you have to look objectively at labor, because like it or not, people are commodities, and they don't somehow work differently than soybeans or apples or oil just because they have a pulse. They work exactly the same, and to ignore or deny that when discussing the economy is to be naive.
    i think the bolded part is contentious in this context. i understand perfectly what you mean, and i agree it is true in an economic game-theory sense. but the majority of anti-capitalist-folk don't accept the fundamental "rules" of the "game" that is consumer-capitalist economics (ie the belief that all agents ought to make decisions based purely on their perceived self-interest, or that other people and their unique skills/traits are purely means-to-ends/commodities, or that the biodiversity/natural processes of the planet ought be secondary considerations to an individual's immediate financial self-interest etc etc) and tend toward more utilitarian principles. there is no morality in game theory so assuming your questions are being asked with this mindset pre-supposed (which the second bolded part leads me to assume) then no, it is never wrong to do anything to anyone (in the "marketplace"). whether or not this economic system is optimal, well that depends on what one thinks an "economy" ought to do - and is a question which does involve morality, and imo is outside the scope of your questions.

    forgive the cynicism, it just seems like you're asking questions of morality in a game which has amorality inbuilt. if you wish to discuss morality, then you need to remove the assumption that life is a commodity. because as far as i can tell, there can be no morality unless it is accepted that other being's desires/goals/intentions/wellbeing etc etc are worthy of consideration. commodities don't have goals or intentions and cannot flourish or suffer. they are value-free

    also forgive the convoluted delivery. i can't be assed editing any more. trust me, it was worse
    Last edited by rpm; 12-04-2013 at 11:36 PM.
  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    i think the bolded part is contentious in this context. i understand perfectly what you mean, and i agree it is true in an economic game-theory sense. but the majority of anti-capitalist-folk don't accept the fundamental premises of this capitalist mindset. ie the belief that all agents ought to make decisions based purely on their perceived self-interest , or that other people and their unique skills/traits are purely means-to-ends/commodities, or that the biodiversity/natural processes of the planet ought be secondary considerations to an individuals immediate financial self-interest.
    I wouldn't say this follows after "humans are commodities", but people think it does. It's more correctly put as "in an economic system, people behave like commodities". It doesn't matter if we like it, but as facets and actors of an economy, we are commodities, and we'd best understand how to best utilize that reality. Many don't like this fact (or don't know it), but that doesn't change it. Supply and demand is a social phenomenon similar to how gravity is a physical phenomenon. Being moral actors in the economy doesn't mean we can ignore supply and demand, but that we should understand it and use it to better our moral purposes. The anti-capitalist sentiments, which usually call themselves socialist, are against this. If this was physics, their position wouldn't be unlike rejecting the theory of gravity because they think it's wrong that people can fall over
  26. #26
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    let me rephrase: "i agree it is true in an economic game-theory sense, and also in reality because this is our current economic paradigm"...

    that's kind of my point. you say we are commodities and so we ought understand how to best utilise that reality. but i'm saying "is never implies ought". especially if we are discussing the nature of something arbtirary. natural laws (ie gravity) are the only laws which we cannot break or bend (thus we can say they "are" this or that but we cannot say they "ought" be this or that). economic systems are arbitrary systems of laws and have changed and will continue to for the rest of time (ie they "are" in a certain state but can be changed if enough people think they "ought" to - they are subject to value-assessment). so, in your analogy, my position is exactly unlike rejecting the theory of gravity. because gravity and capitalism are apples and oranges

    ps fwiw i'm playing somewhat of a devil's advocate here for the sake of curiosity and discussion. i used to hold strong positions on these issues, then i turned 18 or 19 and realised i was actually just opinionated and not educated. if anything i'm offering up the kind of shit i used to believe strongly as a lamb for the slaughter by the (more) educated and informed
    Last edited by rpm; 12-05-2013 at 12:29 AM.
  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    economic systems are arbitrary systems of laws and have changed and will continue to for the rest of time
    The rules that govern society are less easy to ascertain than physics, likely because the social sciences are not experimental, but they're no less objective rules. The nuances and iterations are varied just like how the nuances and iterations of gravity are varied. We don't look at Jupiter and declare it unique because it's unlike a lot of other things related to gravity because we understand gravity well enough that we see through this. Likewise, we shouldn't treat the social sciences as arbitrary, but instead acknowledge what we don't know is due to limitations of current knowledge.

    Supply and demand is a very real thing. We can't disobey it yet still expect the benefits of it. The only known examples in the history of human civilization of prosperity for the masses includes supply and demand. This strikes me as very not arbitrary. Economic theory isn't guesswork, and if we change from capitalism to socialism, we can't just change our figures and achieve desired results
  28. #28
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    these are all relatively new ideas to me, and i'd need to mull them over a bit before i could really continue discussing this with you. fwiw, i'm certain your understanding of this topic is far deeper than mine. and part of my incentive for even posting in this thread was to put the opinions which i used to hold strongly, which have been progressively weakening for years, on the chopping block. it seems our fundamental disagreement is that you acknowledge our current capitalist system as being "optimal" and as such - we should begin to work within its confines to achieve (insert whatever your personal moral sensibilities believe is "just" or "ethical" within a society here). for much of my life (and, as is clearly evident, these influences are still in effect), i was of the position that we had evolved adequately as a species to be able to formulate a new system which is able to achieve more utilitarian ends. it was never socialism or communism or anarchism, but it was certainly influenced to differing degrees by those ideas. these days i have no idea what i believe and i think part of that is because i don't fully understand economics. so thanks for your insights.

    edit: heh, and sorry for the derail
    Last edited by rpm; 12-05-2013 at 02:34 AM.
  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    these are all relatively new ideas to me, and i'd need to mull them over a bit before i could really continue discussing this with you. fwiw, i'm certain your understanding of this topic is far deeper than mine. and part of my incentive for even posting in this thread was to put the opinions which i used to hold strongly, which have been progressively weakening for years, on the chopping block. it seems our fundamental disagreement is that you acknowledge our current capitalist system as being "optimal" and as such - we should begin to work within its confines to achieve (insert whatever your personal moral sensibilities believe is "just" or "ethical" within a society here). for much of my life, i was of the position that we had evolved adequately as a species to be able to formulate a new system which is able to achieve more utilitarian ends. it was never socialism or communism or anarchism, but it was certainly influenced to differing degrees by those ideas. these days i have no idea what i believe and i think part of that is because i don't fully understand economics. so thanks for your insights.

    edit: heh, and sorry for the derail
    I feel like I would describe what we do have as utilitarian

    As far as capitalism being optimal (compared to other options), it's difficult to argue against that due to things like the technological progress and upward mobility it provides. Keep in mind that "capital" isn't money, it's resources. Your ability to labor is your "human capital". Cooperative capitalism (worker owned) and state capitalism (government owned) are two varieties that work, and I would rather call them, along with free market capitalism, aspects of overall capitalism. For example, pure state capitalism has problems, but it can also do things that free market capitalism can't (or doesn't tend to). China is doing both, and it's reaping unique benefits of both.

    Capitalism is basically this: "using your resources to create more resources." The phrasing is important. The "your" implies that there needs to be some sort of ownership. The model to describe the process illustrates this. It's basically a man has land and labors it and reaps benefits from it. If he is fortunate enough he can have others labor on his land for compensation. They use their human capital for this and get paid in a different form of capital, and the man also benefits from the labor more than he would have otherwise. "Land" may not be an infinite quantity, but in a dynamic economy like ours, "capital" virtually is, so it isn't flawed for others to labor on something they don't own, especially since the "land" they labor on will have all sorts of enhancements that increase the value of their own capital. This system is incredibly difficult to alter because it's so fundamentally sound.

    Socialism is a counter to this theory in the way that it declares that there should be no "your", and the proceeds of labor should be distributed based on need. But if we try to fit this into the basic example of a man using his resources to create more resources, it doesn't work, because when there is no "your" and instead is a communal "need", there is little incentive to use your resources to create more resources


    I hope that wasn't too abstract. I now have some even more abstract stuff that helps explain it: Russia's pre-industrial history


    To keep it as short as can be, Russia has never been stable due to its geographical boundaries providing weak defenses, but it still maintained it's identity due to the ability to retreat north into permafrost that invaders couldn't navigate. The worst time of Russia's history was back in the polis days when the Khanates used Moscow as a slave farm. I forget how long it lasted, but it was for generations that the Crimean Khanate would invade Moscow and enslave or murder the majority of the population. Then Ivan the Terrible happened. Why Terrible? Because in order for Moscow to finally stop the molestation of its people, they needed the scariest leader they could get. And they needed to submit fully to this leader. Without total unification, Moscow knew it was unable to win. Well, Moscow did unify under the iron fist of Ivan, and they destroyed the Khanates. Next they followed Peter and Catherine in a great expansion of national borders, mainly for the purpose establishing national defenses and strategic depth

    Why is any of this relevant? Because the sensibilities of total communal unity under one leader and the cheapness of human lives have been in the backbone of Russia's culture ever since. It's been like this for nearly a thousand years. Now why is that relevant? Because it's a philosophical foundation of communism. Long story short, every time Russia is threatened, it moves towards submission to a leader and national unity. This is how Stalin was so easily able to actualize the socialist "Utopia" of communal efforts for the purpose of need.

    But it failed miserably because it ignored supply and demand. Because costs were never fit to value and vise versa, the people never reaped any benefits, and after Glasnost and Perestroika, where the USSR opened some of its markets for the world to see, the whole thing crumbled

    So yeah, that's my hypothesis explaining the existence of the most anti-capitalist sentiments we've had so far
  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I wouldn't say this follows after "humans are commodities", but people think it does. It's more correctly put as "in an economic system, people behave like commodities". It doesn't matter if we like it, but as facets and actors of an economy, we are commodities, and we'd best understand how to best utilize that reality. Many don't like this fact (or don't know it), but that doesn't change it. Supply and demand is a social phenomenon similar to how gravity is a physical phenomenon. Being moral actors in the economy doesn't mean we can ignore supply and demand, but that we should understand it and use it to better our moral purposes. The anti-capitalist sentiments, which usually call themselves socialist, are against this. If this was physics, their position wouldn't be unlike rejecting the theory of gravity because they think it's wrong that people can fall over
    This is a great way of putting what I was trying to illustrate before. Basically, the economy works based on physics-like laws. Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. That resources are scarce is a reality that can't be altered, despite governments' best efforts. A market that is as free as possible will distribute these resources based on their most valued use, but governments want to divert them to less-valued uses, and this causes major problems.

    It's not as if these laws are arbitrary and only apply to a capitalist world. They apply to any society, even a controlled economy like the Soviet Union, and every level of government involvement in between.
  31. #31
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    not wanting to write a large essay on my opinions about anti-capitalism i'll just paraphrase what mcat once told me "it's a shame so many brilliant minds are almost forced into finance instead of science/medicine/technology because of what society teaches is important"

    fwiw i think the costco business model is wonderful
  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I feel like I would describe what we do have as utilitarian
    this honestly baffles me. please answer these questions:
    - do you believe that, say, US-owned clothing companies which decide to set up factories in bangladesh are motivated by personal self-interest, or the greatest good for the greatest number? do you think the outcomes of these ventures reflect the greatest good for the greatest number? or do you think the wealth of these (already very profitable) companies could be spent in a way which would achieve more good for more people (ie the schools or sanitation or food it could provide)

    - what about the companies spending $ to lobby for decreased environmental regulation? clearing of old-growth forests? investing in more fossil-fuel extraction instead of renewable eneergy sources? self-interested or seeking greatest good? do you think the results are for the greater good?



    i'm half drunk and gotta go. planned to type more, time got in the way. but if you answer yes ("these do create the greatest good") to these, please describe your rationale. and if you can convince me of it, then we may have overcome our differences of opinion/belief. if you answer no (the greatest good was neither the intention or outcome), do you think the workings of the economic system these companies operate in has any influence upon these self-serving (non-utilitarian) business ventures?
    Last edited by rpm; 12-05-2013 at 03:50 AM.
  33. #33
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    lol guess i've become the poster-boy for the dumb lefitst folk renton was seeking to avoid. ah well, at least i'm learnin'
  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    ...you acknowledge our current capitalist system as being "optimal"...
    Without getting too involved in the debate here, I think this sentence badly needs clarifying. What we (in basically the entire Western world) live in is not a capitalist system, it's a system in which various subsidies seek to manipulate the market, business which have failed are jacked up and kept as the walking dead on the proceeds of other peoples labour, our central banks openly manipulate the stock and bond markets, businesses can only conduct themselves in accordance with a long and onerous set of rules relating to remuneration, hiring and firing, almost any economic activity you might undertake is regulated to death and you have to ask permission (a "license") from the government to undertake otherwise lawful activities etc. etc.

    Whatever we've got, and I hesitate to give it a name, but it's certainly not capitalism.

    This is not even to touch on the corruption of our currencies/central banking systems. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvKjsIxT_8
  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post
    Without getting too involved in the debate here, I think this sentence badly needs clarifying. What we (in basically the entire Western world) live in is not a capitalist system, it's a system in which various subsidies seek to manipulate the market, business which have failed are jacked up and kept as the walking dead on the proceeds of other peoples labour, our central banks openly manipulate the stock and bond markets, businesses can only conduct themselves in accordance with a long and onerous set of rules relating to remuneration, hiring and firing, almost any economic activity you might undertake is regulated to death and you have to ask permission (a "license") from the government to undertake otherwise lawful activities etc. etc.

    Whatever we've got, and I hesitate to give it a name, but it's certainly not capitalism.

    This is not even to touch on the corruption of our currencies/central banking systems. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvKjsIxT_8
    I basically agree, except I think its a pipe dream to expect pure unfettered capitalism to ever come about. The best we can hope for is a government that doesn't blatantly intervene in the prices of goods and services. And in that regard, many countries vary wildly, but it's easy to see the positive effects of increasing market freedom in the real world examples of India and China, as well as in other southeast Asian nations for that matter.
  36. #36
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    yeah i'm certainly far under-qualified and over-liquored to be participating in this discussion. sorry for the derail. i need to install a breathalyzer on my computer.
  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    this honestly baffles me. please answer these questions:
    - do you believe that, say, US-owned clothing companies which decide to set up factories in bangladesh are motivated by personal self-interest, or the greatest good for the greatest number? do you think the outcomes of these ventures reflect the greatest good for the greatest number? or do you think the wealth of these (already very profitable) companies could be spent in a way which would achieve more good for more people (ie the schools or sanitation or food it could provide)
    I don't have time to reply to everything right now but this is an easy one.

    Basically, yes, outsourcing to Bangladesh is a universal good. It enables the limited human resources of the United States to be put to more valued uses. It minimizes to the prices of goods and services in the world, increasing the standard of living for all. It throws the people of Bangladesh a lifeline which will eventually pull that country out of abject poverty. Note that the clothing jobs that people work in Bangladesh are voluntarily chosen over the dismal alternatives, and that choice is important. If it weren't for the sweatshop job they could be making even less scavenging in the streets or prostituting themselves.

    This is the beauty of capitalism, clothing companies act out of self interest and exploit labor in third world countries, yet everyone benefits. A big part of realizing this is rejecting the idea of a zero sum game. Free trade is a positive sum game because everyone who agrees to a trade is getting something of more subjective value than they give, and this is how wealth is created.
    Last edited by Renton; 12-05-2013 at 10:42 AM.
  38. #38
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    The biggest problem I have with capitalism is its value structure. Subordinating people and the environment and everything else for that matter to the pursuit of profit seems bananas to me. The idea of pure unfettered capitalism is crazy. Why shouldn't there be price controls on essential products like bread and milk etc? Why should people who have been born into poverty starve because they can't afford a loaf of bread? Why should the poorest in society die of preventable and treatable diseases because they can't afford to pay for treatment? Why should borders be open to foreign multinationals? Why shouldn't the state own sectors of the economy and why shouldn't there be regulation? Look at what a mess a deregulated financial sector has left us in.

    What do you think is better for the people of Bangladesh?

    A) A predatory multinational exploiting the vulnerable to work for fuck all, for long hours, and in shitty conditions that are only there for cheap labour so they can maximise profits and if they were forced to pay a decent wage they would move somewhere else. So not a real investment in the country at all. Also the large profits being made will be redistributed among shareholders and bonuses to CEO's etc all the money will be making its way to the US or UK except whatever tax is paid to the government. The money/profit being generated will not be spent in Bangladesh so it's not really helping them at all.

    B) The Bangladeshi state owning the manufacturing of clothing and investing a decent percentage of profits into the improvement/development of the country.

    I think option B would be better for the people of Bangladesh helping them to generate wealth and a strong economy at home while decreasing dependency on quasi foreign investment.
    Erín Go Bragh
  39. #39
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    seven-deuce, I could spend days replying to that post so I'll try to have restraint where possible. I'll go point by point where the answer doesn't have to be a 3.5 essay.

    The idea of pure unfettered capitalism is crazy. Why shouldn't there be price controls on essential products like bread and milk etc?
    If there were price controls on bread and milk, there would be less bread and milk and even more people would starve. How is this not obvious? If people are forced to sell bread and milk for a lower than market price, there would be no incentive to produce it at all. The result is that there would be empty shelves with the low price tag. Now maybe your answer to that is that governments should produce all the bread and milk we consume, but then you're price-controlled price will eventually be too high because there isn't the fierce competition to drive innovation in milk/bread production. The free market is going to find cheaper and cheaper, better and better ways of producing milk and bread. The milk and bread is gonna taste better and better, and last longer and longer. Government milk is gonna taste like a dogs asshole and you know it, because why wouldn't it?

    Why should the poorest in society die of preventable and treatable diseases because they can't afford to pay for treatment?
    Because medical treatment often costs a huge amount of resources. Would you prefer a random lottery?

    Look at what a mess a deregulated financial sector has left us in.
    This is such a tired red herring at this point. The crash didn't happen because of deregulation, it happened because banks have a tremendous amount of influence on the government and are able to take greater risks because they are effectively insured against bankruptcy. This is a criticism of big-government, not of small-government.

    The money/profit being generated will not be spent in Bangladesh so it's not really helping them at all.
    The workers who are "exploited" by the multinational corporation voluntarily choose to work there. It is more profitable than their alternatives. In macro terms, more people in Bangladesh are receiving a higher wage than they would otherwise. This increases Bangladesh's gdp and the wealth of its society.

    B) The Bangladeshi state owning the manufacturing of clothing and investing a decent percentage of profits into the improvement/development of the country.

    I think option B would be better for the people of Bangladesh helping them to generate wealth and a strong economy at home while decreasing dependency on quasi foreign investment.
    A cursory study of the plight of controlled economies of the past would indicate that option B) is absurd. Let's just break down how ridiculous the Bangladesh National Clothing Company is as an idea for a moment. First of all the whole reason why multinational apparel corporations outsource to Bangladesh is to minimize their costs so that they can compete with the other big players in the industry. If the B. (I'm tired of typing Bangladesh) government decided to tell Lacoste to go fuck themselves or pay the workers a living wage, Lacoste would not set foot in B. They would move elsewhere.

    So, IDK i guess you are suggesting that they should form a national clothing company that attempts to compete with the private sector, WHILE not "exploiting" the workers with a low wage and/or investing profits into infrastructure. Let's assume for a moment that they could have the smallest hope of doing so. In order for that to even be possible, the Bangladeshi government has to have expertise. Expertise on the level of multinational mega-successful private corporations. Expertise that honestly cannot exist except through the distillation of millions and millions of people participating in the market. That's the thing, really, its not that governments are dumb and can't do anything right. It just that they are incapable of having expertise on the level of what emerges naturally from participants in a large, often global market. A couple hundred politicians with uncertain loyalty and motivations can't hope to achieve that. Honestly, a couple hundred Benjamin Franklins couldn't do it.
    Last edited by Renton; 12-05-2013 at 03:33 PM.
  40. #40
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  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    this honestly baffles me. please answer these questions:
    - do you believe that, say, US-owned clothing companies which decide to set up factories in bangladesh are motivated by personal self-interest, or the greatest good for the greatest number? do you think the outcomes of these ventures reflect the greatest good for the greatest number? or do you think the wealth of these (already very profitable) companies could be spent in a way which would achieve more good for more people (ie the schools or sanitation or food it could provide)

    - what about the companies spending $ to lobby for decreased environmental regulation? clearing of old-growth forests? investing in more fossil-fuel extraction instead of renewable eneergy sources? self-interested or seeking greatest good? do you think the results are for the greater good?



    i'm half drunk and gotta go. planned to type more, time got in the way. but if you answer yes ("these do create the greatest good") to these, please describe your rationale. and if you can convince me of it, then we may have overcome our differences of opinion/belief. if you answer no (the greatest good was neither the intention or outcome), do you think the workings of the economic system these companies operate in has any influence upon these self-serving (non-utilitarian) business ventures?
    It seems we're not using the same definition for "utilitarian". I'm going with Google's: "designed to be useful or practical rather than attractive." This looks to me to be what these companies are doing. Not exclusively, but practical at least from a perspective. I guess I don't want to get hung up on the word then

    As for your points, capitalism doesn't account for externalities well at all. But neither does morality. Things like environmental destruction don't have an answer yet.

    Also, all the outsourcing that Americans lament is making the world a better place than it would be without the outsourcing. It's a tough pill to swallow, but true

    Also, about "my rationale", I'm not anti-regulation or anti-welfare. They're both necessary for certain things in certain ways, but that doesn't mean that they too can't be abused

    Also, (I keep saying also), as poker players, we should be wary of being results oriented. I mean this in that socialism is results oriented. Socialism is like if you took welfarism and made it the most fundamental aspect of the economy. This wouldn't work because it requires resources already in existence. That's where capitalism comes in. Capitalism is what creates more resources, socialism doesn't. I believe in capitalism and welfarism because they provide for sound economic resource construction as well as providing for the welfare of those who need it. But socialism doesn't do this because it doesn't create the resources in the first place. It just assumes that the need for resources will be enough for them to be distributed
  42. #42
    A point I'd like to make is that I think the more developed an economy gets, the better free market capitalism works when contrasted to state capitalism. For example, Japan became a juggernaut after WW2 largely due to state capitalism. The state basically said "we're stuck in the primary sector, but will do everything to become the leader in secondary, tertiary, and quaternary sectors", and they did. It was only when the rest of the world caught up that Japan had to compete, and their state capitalism became inefficient

    China is doing a similar thing, but looks like they will not make the mistakes Japan did. While they are strongly state capitalist, they are gradually moving towards freer markets in areas they can. People say China is the future, but they don't realize how true that is. China is going to be incredible in the 22nd Century, and it will depend on both its state capitalism and free market capitalism. By then it will unlikely have much state capitalism left though
  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    I don't have time to reply to everything right now but this is an easy one.

    Basically, yes, outsourcing to Bangladesh is a universal good. It enables the limited human resources of the United States to be put to more valued uses. It minimizes to the prices of goods and services in the world, increasing the standard of living for all. It throws the people of Bangladesh a lifeline which will eventually pull that country out of abject poverty. Note that the clothing jobs that people work in Bangladesh are voluntarily chosen over the dismal alternatives, and that choice is important. If it weren't for the sweatshop job they could be making even less scavenging in the streets or prostituting themselves.

    This is the beauty of capitalism, clothing companies act out of self interest and exploit labor in third world countries, yet everyone benefits. A big part of realizing this is rejecting the idea of a zero sum game. Free trade is a positive sum game because everyone who agrees to a trade is getting something of more subjective value than they give, and this is how wealth is created.
    thanks for taking the time. i figured that the bangladeshi worker example would be viewed in a positive light by proponents of laissez faire capitalism. and if it could be proven to me that this "trickle down" (i'm not an economist and so i'm sure my use of these economist terms is inaccurate but hopefully you get what i'm trying to say) method of alleviating extreme poverty were the best method of doing so then i'd be right with you. my inability to see why/how that's the case could certainly be because i simply don't understand economics. that's why i'm bothering to participate in this discussion.

    human factors aside, where do you believe the "environment" ought to fit in to the unfettered capitalist system you advocate? some people argue that the environment is, and ought be, far less a priority than stimulating economic growth at any cost. and that's fine. but if you acknowledge that the longevity of our species depends upon certain environmental conditions (temperature range, adequate clean water, clean air, viable land etc) which are being degraded by our economic paradigm which requires exponential growth to sustain itself (which i assume unfettered capitalism would too?), and does not factor the environmental effects of business into its transactions (tragedy of the commons blah blah etc), then what do you propose ought be done? i mean, i assume governmental restrictions on environmentally-degrading business practices are out of the question because that's what you're seeking to do away with. so, put an economic price on any environmentally-harmful by-products of business? that's another barrier to business? how would these issues be dealt with in your perception of an optimal economic system?

    of course, calling this a "problem" assumes that:
    A) things like climate change/land degradation through deforestation and chemical alteration/water quality degradation due to runoff etc actually are occurring and actually do threaten the survival of our species. not everyone believes this to be true.
    B) the survival of the next generation of our species matters
    C) these "damages" have been caused by the "profit-incentive" which is inherent to capitalist systems

    if you believe any of those are untrue, then we have no problem. but if true, i think you'd have to agree we have a pretty big problem, and it will be hard to deal with if we continue to hold economic growth as our primary goal.
  44. #44
    The issue of environmental hazards might just be the most complicated one there is. Nobody wants to hear the truth. That includes people who want to save the environment. So far, economics has shitty explanations for how to deal with the problem, but so does everything else.

    Probably what's really going on in civilization is a race between ecological destruction and technological advancement. There is no feasible way whatsoever for people to live the kind of lives they want without destroying the environment, but at a certain point, this will become our own destruction. That's when technology comes in. At some point in the future, we should be able to live rather lush lives that don't depend on ecological deterioration, but that time could only come with enough technological advancement, and the only way we know of that improves tech advancement is through capitalism. It's in the name "capitalism" even i.e. using resources to make more resources.

    We are likely stuck in a situation where we have to destroy the environment in order to save the species, because the only long-lasting conservation will come at the hands of technology, and the creation of that technology depends on use of environmental resources. A similar analogy could be how we have to experiment on animals in order to significantly advance medicine
  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    It seems we're not using the same definition for "utilitarian". I'm going with Google's: "designed to be useful or practical rather than attractive." This looks to me to be what these companies are doing. Not exclusively, but practical at least from a perspective. I guess I don't want to get hung up on the word then

    As for your points, capitalism doesn't account for externalities well at all. But neither does morality. Things like environmental destruction don't have an answer yet.

    Also, all the outsourcing that Americans lament is making the world a better place than it would be without the outsourcing. It's a tough pill to swallow, but true

    Also, about "my rationale", I'm not anti-regulation or anti-welfare. They're both necessary for certain things in certain ways, but that doesn't mean that they too can't be abused

    Also, (I keep saying also), as poker players, we should be wary of being results oriented. I mean this in that socialism is results oriented. Socialism is like if you took welfarism and made it the most fundamental aspect of the economy. This wouldn't work because it requires resources already in existence. That's where capitalism comes in. Capitalism is what creates more resources, socialism doesn't. I believe in capitalism and welfarism because they provide for sound economic resource construction as well as providing for the welfare of those who need it. But socialism doesn't do this because it doesn't create the resources in the first place. It just assumes that the need for resources will be enough for them to be distributed
    hmm i guess i was referring to number 2 on the google definition list of "utilitarian": "relating to or adhering to the doctrine of utilitarianism". of course whether or not that doctrine is worth a pinch of shit is up for debate, but that's what i was referring to, and i think it's one of the more logically-sound groups of ideas if one values co-operation within our species (which seems like it will be necessary for our continued existence in the face of the environmental challenges we face).

    i like your points about production and distribution of wealth/resources in capitalist vs socialist economies, that's as succinctly as i've heard that "debate" put, and i agree with your points about the holes in socialist theory/practice. (one more time for clarification, i don't and have never accepted the doctrines of socialism or any of it's children - in that sense i am completely guilty of criticising the food yet bringing nothing to the table. but, you know, if you have a belief the food you're being provided could well be poison.... it's often wise to try to discuss alternatives)
    Last edited by rpm; 12-05-2013 at 07:27 PM.
  46. #46
    1. Welcome to Ukraine there are a lot of people who earn that much and don't wanna lynch the government, lol.

    And all this crap is coz in 1917 there was a lot of anti-capitalist sentiment.
    If things were to magically revert to January 1st, 2003, only I could take everything I know now in terms of poker ability/knowledge, bonus clearing, etc., I think it's safe to say that it would be trivially easy to make over a million dollars.
  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    human factors aside, where do you believe the "environment" ought to fit in to the unfettered capitalist system you advocate? some people argue that the environment is, and ought be, far less a priority than stimulating economic growth at any cost. and that's fine. but if you acknowledge that the longevity of our species depends upon certain environmental conditions (temperature range, adequate clean water, clean air, viable land etc) which are being degraded by our economic paradigm which requires exponential growth to sustain itself (which i assume unfettered capitalism would too?), and does not factor the environmental effects of business into its transactions (tragedy of the commons blah blah etc), then what do you propose ought be done? i mean, i assume governmental restrictions on environmentally-degrading business practices are out of the question because that's what you're seeking to do away with. so, put an economic price on any environmentally-harmful by-products of business? that's another barrier to business? how would these issues be dealt with in your perception of an optimal economic system?
    Without discussing at great length this kind of goes back to wufwugy's point about the "physics" of economics. Climate change is a problem, but until enough people in the world attach value to this and are willing to spend resources to prevent it, nothing will happen. And there are not a lot governments can do about this, which is obvious from observation. You can't force people to use less energy at the barrel of a gun without creating dire economic consequences for all. This leads to more poverty and even worse damage to the environment would result from a crashed world economy.

    Climate change is also a problem in that it's a first-world concern. Just think about how many billions of people could give less than a shit about climate change because their lives are so desperate and they just try to live day to day. Until we elevate the standard of living for those people so they'll no longer rut nonstop and have time to take a break to read a book about climate change, its going to be an uphill battle. And the best way to solve poverty is through capitalism, this is an indisputable fact. The other way in which capitalism will help us is by spurring technology and innovation faster than any government could.
  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    The issue of environmental hazards might just be the most complicated one there is. Nobody wants to hear the truth. That includes people who want to save the environment. So far, economics has shitty explanations for how to deal with the problem, but so does everything else.

    Probably what's really going on in civilization is a race between ecological destruction and technological advancement. There is no feasible way whatsoever for people to live the kind of lives they want without destroying the environment, but at a certain point, this will become our own destruction. That's when technology comes in. At some point in the future, we should be able to live rather lush lives that don't depend on ecological deterioration, but that time could only come with enough technological advancement, and the only way we know of that improves tech advancement is through capitalism. It's in the name "capitalism" even i.e. using resources to make more resources.

    We are likely stuck in a situation where we have to destroy the environment in order to save the species, because the only long-lasting conservation will come at the hands of technology, and the creation of that technology depends on use of environmental resources. A similar analogy could be how we have to experiment on animals in order to significantly advance medicine

    I've been taking notes, trying to avoid grunching, and I almost made it, when I got half way through this post and this idea popped into my head:

    So, I think drug prohibitions are the most futile waste of energy. Instead, I'd like to see honest and to the point education on drugs and treatment for those in need. And the idea of merging this concept with environmental destruction came to me-- what if instead of having carbon taxes, regulations, etc, we simply had honest awareness programs which critiqued our bad habits, as well as environmentally damaging business practices? I mean, a big part of the problem is that everyone wants to drive their own car, own half a dozen flat screen TVs, live in an energy inefficient McMansion, and so on.

    I have no clue how this would be implemented, but after popping into my head it seemed like an interesting enough idea for me to grunch-vomit it in this premature iteration into this thread.
  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    I've been taking notes, trying to avoid grunching, and I almost made it, when I got half way through this post and this idea popped into my head:

    So, I think drug prohibitions are the most futile waste of energy. Instead, I'd like to see honest and to the point education on drugs and treatment for those in need. And the idea of merging this concept with environmental destruction came to me-- what if instead of having carbon taxes, regulations, etc, we simply had honest awareness programs which critiqued our bad habits, as well as environmentally damaging business practices? I mean, a big part of the problem is that everyone wants to drive their own car, own half a dozen flat screen TVs, live in an energy inefficient McMansion, and so on.

    I have no clue how this would be implemented, but after popping into my head it seemed like an interesting enough idea for me to grunch-vomit it in this premature iteration into this thread.
    The best example we have is cigarettes, but that was something that affected everybody. Most non-smokers never liked being around smoke and they knew people who had cancer. The non-smoking campaign was able to hone in on these two things in a way that people could put their hands on it.

    Climate change is a whole different ball game. It's global and isolated from our everyday lives. All the polar bears and coral reefs dying won't change what people are willing to do about it. Those will likely make people support change, but only if that change doesn't affect their bottom lines. Notice that the cigarette issue never hurt peoples' bottom lines. If it did, people would still be smoking in restaurants. As complex as we claim politics is, the best predictor of voting habits is still how the votes are perceived to affect peoples' wallets

    It will probably take Florida beginning to sink for this country to make drastic changes. But even then the changes we make won't do much. China, Brazil, and India are the big players. Africa may also become a big player. Without incredible advancements in technology, these regions will never have enough incentive for conservation. As time goes on, the moral hazards are only going to become worse for them. As bad as it would be for China if the government halted its economic growth, it would only be worse if they did it at a later date. And conservation like this wouldn't just halt growth, but would regress it

    That may be the key. Deflation is the Great Satan of any economy, and initiating good enough conservation efforts to ward off ecological destruction would create some epic deflation. It's just not going to happen. China will use all the coal there is and Brazil will cut down most of its trees.

    Going green will happen only when it's economical and user friendly.

    Also, I disagree with things like a carbon tax. It's a popular idea among anybody who wants a smart tax system, but I have a hunch they're wrong. It's a tough area to analyze because there just isn't enough of the right data. Anyways, my argument against externality or "sin" taxes is that in order for them to be effective, they have to be significant, but once they're significant, the government relies on the revenues. This creates a conflict of interest exactly like Russia has with alcohol. Alcoholism is destroying the country, but the government can't change it since it needs alcohol revenues. In the past, the government has tried to fix the problem with things like negative campaigns against alcohol, but quickly stopped doing that after it felt the crunch of lower revenues. Now the government plays both sides where they don't like the alcoholism but have no choice but to keep it going. The whole situation really is destroying the country.

    The only way I see these sorts of taxes working is if they wipe out the behavior early and they never reach a significant portion of revenues.
  50. #50
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    yah the labor government here in aus instated a carbon tax some time last year. people hated it, that government didn't survive the next election - the conservative "liberals" got in, i'm pretty sure much of their popularity came from their harsh criticism of the carbon tax and how it hurts business etc etc
  51. #51
    Interesting. Australia has arguably the most well-run economy in the world, merely due to the central bank keeping nominal growth steady. Y'all hardly get recessions anymore because of that
  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Interesting. Australia has arguably the most well-run economy in the world, merely due to the central bank keeping nominal growth steady. Y'all hardly get recessions anymore because of that
    Nothing to do with it being resource rich and china's insatiable appetite?
  53. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by !Luck View Post
    Nothing to do with it being resource rich and china's insatiable appetite?
    This is probably the most credible and succinct article I can find on the topic. Australia and central banking are two topics that don't get enough coverage. Yglesias mentions several ways that Austrailia's boom doesn't correlate well with exports.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/...ic_theory.html

    Globally, monetary policy correlates with booms (and busts) more than just about anything other than supply shocks like with oil (a monetary shock is also a supply shock). This is apparently in line with what the textbooks teach as well

    The more I learn about it, the more fiscal issues just don't seem to matter. For example, when comparing stimulative fiscal policy between US and EU nations, there is virtually no correlation with economic growth, but there's a ton when correlated with monetary stimulus. I honestly believe that so-called "targeting the level" in central banking will usher in a new era of the economy. Australia appears to be the first example of a country that does that (or close to it), and we can see the impact it has when they overshoot inflation when needed to maintain the level
  54. #54
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    @ renton, so do you think the top-heavy distribution of wealth which capitalist systems create is going to alleviate enough of the world's poverty and raise the overall quality of life adequately for us to be able to effectively deal with the problems of climate change in time? does promoting more industry and more emissions in more countries sound like it will inhibit or speed up on the onset of the problem we're trying to solve? what if we get to the point where the only choice we have to continue existing is to cease industry and re-think our social and economic systems? will the world economy collapse? yep. but that sounds better than extinction.

    i'm not a climate scientist and i've heard all kinds of different viewpoints on how real climate change is and how soon it will start doing what to our planet - but that's exactly my concern with our current trajectory. it seems people are willing to defend the ecologically-destructive effects of the "marketplace" to the grave. or at least gamble on doing so. that's not to mention the fact that we can't actually know when we've passed the point of no return as regards human-induced climate change (ie the changes we need to make, whatever they be, won't happen overnight. what if the wheels get in motion too late?). i'm certain this post will sound ridiculously alarmist to many people. but when we're potentially gambling on the survival of the species, and we are dealing with incomplete information (ie we dont know for sure the timeframe/effects of climate change), i tend to get a bit risk-averse. and i'm not convinced that a capitalist economic system is going to be able to deal with these issues in time, if at all.
    Last edited by rpm; 12-06-2013 at 02:56 AM.
  55. #55
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    All of these questions hold that certain taboos of the current generation will never be broken, but if we're going to explore true unfettered capitalism and lay blame at the governments feet at each opportunity, let's get a little cutthroat about it.

    A recently privatized town has monopolist fire-service. A man so wealthy and scrupulous that he has kept any competition from lifting a head. Is it fair that when your house catches on fire, firefighters will come and bid to buy the home from you at a heavily discounted price? And if you refuse, they move on to the neighbors and bid to protect their homes from the fire that will likely destroy yours?

    Two men in good standing agree to an MMA style duel. Each has agreed to submit himself into the service of the other for the remainder of his days, forfeiting all rights and properties to him. Is this fair? After the fight, the man seeks to attain the fair market value of his slave at auction, is this fair?

    Can armies be instruments of profit? If not, what will stop them?

    This is less about making a point and more about coloring in this hypothetical world.
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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    i think the bolded part is contentious in this context. i understand perfectly what you mean, and i agree it is true in an economic game-theory sense. but the majority of anti-capitalist-folk don't accept the fundamental "rules" of the "game" that is consumer-capitalist economics (ie the belief that all agents ought to make decisions based purely on their perceived self-interest, or that other people and their unique skills/traits are purely means-to-ends/commodities, or that the biodiversity/natural processes of the planet ought be secondary considerations to an individual's immediate financial self-interest etc etc) and tend toward more utilitarian principles. there is no morality in game theory so assuming your questions are being asked with this mindset pre-supposed (which the second bolded part leads me to assume) then no, it is never wrong to do anything to anyone (in the "marketplace"). whether or not this economic system is optimal, well that depends on what one thinks an "economy" ought to do - and is a question which does involve morality, and imo is outside the scope of your questions.

    forgive the cynicism, it just seems like you're asking questions of morality in a game which has amorality inbuilt. if you wish to discuss morality, then you need to remove the assumption that life is a commodity. because as far as i can tell, there can be no morality unless it is accepted that other being's desires/goals/intentions/wellbeing etc etc are worthy of consideration. commodities don't have goals or intentions and cannot flourish or suffer. they are value-free

    also forgive the convoluted delivery. i can't be assed editing any more. trust me, it was worse
    I prefer this post to mine.
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  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renton View Post
    .
    Here's what I think. Everyone deserves a certain standard of living. Why should the billionaire businessman and the penniless homeless man be treated differently when it comes to the standard of healthcare they receive? Does the homeless man not have a right to live because he has no money? A certain standard of healthcare should be provided for everyone, if the billionaire wants to pay for better healthcare over and above the standard given to all that's fine.

    I don't think you would be preaching free market doctrine with such gusto if you were the one in desperate need of food or medicine. Would you be telling your starving friends and family to "stop whining, aren't you aware the earth has scarce resources? We have no money to pay for food so we don't deserve to live. How is this not obvious?" I doubt it.

    I think that pure capitalism breeds inequality and corruption. Not furiously competitive markets and scrupulous businessmen. The greed and constant drive for ever increasing profit makes businesses ignore externalities one of the most important being the environment, that's not my opinion, it's scientific fact. Big fossil fuel companies pump out propaganda trying to influence public opinion and cast off claims from the scientific community that climate change is a real and imminent problem so as to protect their profits. This cannot be justified, the continuation of the species and health of the planet is more important than a companies profits/share price.

    Another thing I have a problem with is treating economics like a science. Some of the underlying principles of economics are demonstrably false. One of the most obvious being "rational consumers" and others "homogeneous products" and "perfect information". Assuming something that you know in reality to be false as true so your diagrams work out nicely and you can pretend that you know what you're talking about doesn't seem very "scientific" to me. Any conclusion drawn from a false premise is inherently false, an inconvenient fact for economists.


    You can't just create an imaginary "rational consumer" that never deviates from the rules you assign it and develop a framework around this "rational consumer" then apply it to irrational consumers. This is ludicrous and illogical.

    It's like saying I know in reality this player has a nutted range on the river but I'm going to assume he's got a weak range to justify my all-in bluff. Or in economics, I know in reality consumers aren't rational but I'm going to assume they are so my "law" works. Also if there were actual economic laws there wouldn't be different theories of economics nor any debate about it at all there would be a unanimous consensus by all professional economists as to the best configuration and means of proceeding from here.

    Finally this might come across as snarky but it's not intended to be, my view is just as valid as yours regardless of how much you think you know.

    Here's a link to a study that was performed regarding rational consumers you have to sign up to read it. It's from the peer reviewed Economic Journal: http://econpapers.repec.org/article/..._3a1431-44.htm
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  58. #58
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    A book strong proponents of laissez-faire capitalism should add to their reading lists: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Debunking-Ec.../dp/1848139926
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  59. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by seven-deuce View Post
    Here's what I think. Everyone deserves a certain standard of living.
    Nonsense. This is like saying that every chimp in the forest deserves a certain number of bananas. Try to rationally explain this property of "deserving" in relation to a chimp who has no bananas.

    Why should the billionaire businessman and the penniless homeless man be treated differently when it comes to the standard of healthcare they receive? Does the homeless man not have a right to live because he has no money? A certain standard of healthcare should be provided for everyone, if the billionaire wants to pay for better healthcare over and above the standard given to all that's fine.
    Why should the chimp that can climb best and lives in an area rich with bananas have more bananas than the chimp who lives on an island utterly devoid of bananas and never learned to climb trees? Does the second chimp not have a right to have as many bananas as he "needs"? A certain number of bananas should be provided for every chimp, if the first chimp wants to have more bananas, that's fine.

    Healthcare is expensive - it takes a lot of labour and capital to produce, the people who produce it need food to eat and houses to live in, that means they have to earn a living or make a profit. If the homeless man can't pay, someone else has to - that takes food off of their table and clothes off their childrens backs to put that money effectively in the hands of the homeless man, that is good and decent all the time it's voluntary.

    I don't think you would be preaching free market doctrine with such gusto if you were the one in desperate need of food or medicine.
    Without a market in which people could make a living producing food or medicine, there wouldn't be any food or medicine.

    Here's the nub of it - if it's so important to you that our hypothetical homesless man has food and medicine, no-one is stopping _YOU_ from paying for it. That's the great thing about a free market system - you are free to give away as much of your money as you like.
  60. #60
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    C'mon man, you can't compare humans to chimps we're different species. Chimp's brains haven't evolved to the point human's brains have. I can think chimps all deserve equal amounts of bananas all I want but I have no way of communicating that to the chimps nor do they have the capacity to understand the concept of morality/equality etc. Their brains are hardwired to feed and breed they don't sit around pondering the pros and cons of different economic doctrines and how to maximize the living standards of all chimps. Chimps will be found in areas abundant in trees and fruit, they aren't running around all over the place so the idea of one being stranded alone on an island is silly. They will spend their whole lives in the habitat they thrive in unless human intervention destroys their habitat or forcibly removes them to zoos etc. While a human can be born just about anywhere on earth which is totally out of his control, he can be born into poverty or deprivation. Chimps would only really be hindered by their genetics since there always born in a suitable habitat, a humans chance of getting a decent standard of living will matter on genetics, geographic location, economics etc.


    I prefer to call the property of "deserving" - rights. The right to life, the right to have food in your stomach etc. Obviously there are no actual "rights" all rights have been man made because we are capable of thinking and can recognize the moral need for them. We have developed societal structures like courts etc as well which apes haven't. The comparison is pretty ludicrous to be honest.

    The idea that there would be no food if there was no marketplace is wrong too. We would just have to hunt our own food instead of buying it prepackaged at the local store etc. People used to hunt animals with spears to feed themselves or eat fruit off trees/bushes. We could as a species go back to living like cavemen and chimps where none of this morality crap matters but we won't because we have developed a better fairer albeit imperfect system.

    Why should a person in India starve to death because he was born into poverty in India? The world has x amount of resources. Nobody has any intrinsic right to said resources. Said resources should be divvied up fairly.
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  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by seven-deuce View Post
    C'mon man, you can't compare humans to chimps we're different species.
    Excellent argument.

    Humans and chimps share a surprising 98.8 percent of their DNA.
    Or not.

    Lawsuits Could Turn Chimpanzees Into Legal Persons:
    http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-an...-legal-persons

    The litigation has been in the works since 2007, when animal rights attorney Steven Wise founded NhRP, an association of about 60 lawyers, scientists, and policy experts. The group argues that cognitively advanced animals like chimpanzees and dolphins are so self-aware that keeping them in captivity—whether a zoo or research laboratory—is tantamount to slavery. “It’s a terrible torture we inflict on them, and it has to stop,” Wise says. “And all of human law says the way things stop is when courts and legislatures recognize that the being imprisoned is a legal person.”

    NhRP spent 5 years researching the best legal strategy—and best jurisdiction—for its first cases. The upshot: a total of three lawsuits to be filed in three New York trial courts this week on behalf of four resident chimpanzees. One, named Tommy, lives in Gloversville in a “used trailer lot … isolated in a cage in a dark shed,” according to an NhRP press release. Another, Kiko, resides in a cage on private property in Niagara Falls, the group says. The final two, Hercules and Leo, are research chimps at Stony Brook University. Wise says that 11 scientists have filed affidavits in support of the group’s claims; most of them, including Jane Goodall, have worked with nonhuman primates.
    So they can have lawyers and be slaves, but we shouldn't use good analogies to compare them to people. Riiiiight.
    Last edited by spoonitnow; 12-06-2013 at 11:10 AM.
  62. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by seven-deuce View Post
    C'mon man, you can't compare humans to chimps we're different species. Chimp's brains haven't evolved to the point human's brains have.
    Well, it's kind of a tangent but evolution does not progress towards a "higher" or better target, it converges towards a more _adapted_ state. A more evolved creature isn't necessarily "better", it's just better adapted assuming it's environment has remained relatively constant. That's not to get onto the idea that, given that chimps have been around longer than we have, and that their environment has not changed as radically as ours, they are arguably better adapted. The idea that humans are better/higher/more enlightened than chimps seems rather dubious to me.

    Their brains are hardwired to feed and breed
    And yours isn't?

    I prefer to call the property of "deserving" - rights. The right to life, the right to have food in your stomach etc. Obviously there are no actual "rights" all rights have been man made because we are capable of thinking and can recognize the moral need for them.
    As you observe, there are no "rights" in nature, they are a man made construct which we use to live together in relative peace and non-interference with one another. Don't you think the right to do what you want with the products of your own labour is one of them? Why is it that our hypothetical homesless mans "right" to food trumps the right of someone else to give that food to their own child? Who is to be the arbiter of who is most deserving of that food? If our farmer/smallholder doesn't get to keep that food for himself or give it away according to his own free and unfettered inclinations, what is his motivation to produce it in the first place?

    The idea that there would be no food if there was no marketplace is wrong too. We would just have to hunt our own food instead of buying it prepackaged at the local store etc.
    So why isn't our hypothetical homeless man hunting his own food? Indeed, his options are richer and more varied than hunting his own food, because he can produce value in many different ways then trade that value for food - the market improves his access to food, it doesn't diminish it. For him to expect that he can produce no value, and that he should have a "right" to take the value that someone else has produced in the form of food or medicine without giving anything in return does not seem remotely moral to me.

    Why should a person in India starve to death because he was born into poverty in India? The world has x amount of resources. Nobody has any intrinsic right to said resources. Said resources should be divvied up fairly.
    Again, "should" is all fine in theory - someone has to exploit those resources though, and if people _choose_ to employ the resources they have exploited to feed poor people in India, more power to them.

    The more wealth and resources there are in the world, the less likely people are to go hungry. The best motivator to produce wealth is peoples self interest.
  63. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post
    Nonsense. This is like saying that every chimp in the forest deserves a certain number of bananas. Try to rationally explain this property of "deserving" in relation to a chimp who has no bananas.



    Why should the chimp that can climb best and lives in an area rich with bananas have more bananas than the chimp who lives on an island utterly devoid of bananas and never learned to climb trees? Does the second chimp not have a right to have as many bananas as he "needs"? A certain number of bananas should be provided for every chimp, if the first chimp wants to have more bananas, that's fine.

    Healthcare is expensive - it takes a lot of labour and capital to produce, the people who produce it need food to eat and houses to live in, that means they have to earn a living or make a profit. If the homeless man can't pay, someone else has to - that takes food off of their table and clothes off their childrens backs to put that money effectively in the hands of the homeless man, that is good and decent all the time it's voluntary.



    Without a market in which people could make a living producing food or medicine, there wouldn't be any food or medicine.

    Here's the nub of it - if it's so important to you that our hypothetical homesless man has food and medicine, no-one is stopping _YOU_ from paying for it. That's the great thing about a free market system - you are free to give away as much of your money as you like.


    In a society in which we demand hospitals treat people when they need any non-elective care, not affording healthcare to those who can't afford healthcare is taking food off of someone's table. Not only do all the rest of us end up subsidizing the medical debtors' care, but those people are dissuaded in seeking preventative care; a malady which may have cost a fraction to treat is left to fester. This will always be the case in any system you can imagine, until we either decide that it's fine for hospitals to turn patients away because of a suspected inability to pay, or we provide a basic level of healthcare to all.
  64. #64
    I was taking some notes as I read through the thread and tried to keep up. Not going to quote everything, just going to try to touch on some themes I picked up on.

    Wuf, you have put forth this veiled equating of economics to physics several times itt. Economics is a science, sure-- but attempting to hold it up next to physics is intellectually dishonest, and you know it.

    Renton, I forget in which post, but I felt you were using a pro business vs pro labor false dichotomy. I think this is a big problem in our society, these two forces are needlessly pitted against each other to reach political ends. Costco is a great example of how pro business and pro labor go hand in hand. Henry Ford also recognized this. Sure you can pay bottom dollar for your labor pool, have high turn over, and a weak corporate culture, or you can pay top dollar and have your pick of the best labor, who will stick around and ensure stability in your business. Both can be viable strategies, but the idea that a busboy is a busboy is a busboy ridiculous. Sure, labor acts like a commodity in some ways, but it also resembles business's infrastructure in other ways. Labor is far to dynamic to simply slot into the "commodity" column and forget about it. Your models will not be representative of reality if you do so.

    On morality vs legality, from the top of the thread:

    Regulations, laws, rules, what have you, needn't be in opposition to potential immoral acts. Their purpose is to prop up and strengthen the system. The initial five or so questions in the OP are, on the surface, simple moral exercises, but let's be honest, Renton, they're seeking approval of a societal system, comprised of regulations, laws, rules, and so on. I.E., you're questions mislead, intentionally or not, the reader to conflate legality and morality. By answering the questions a certain way, I would seemingly be embracing your preferred free market system-- yet the answers only really give an insight to how I weigh morality in such scenarios, but doesn't get at the utility of our current system or any proposed system.

    Wuf, you gave a critique of communism in the last dozen posts or so. I felt it was lacking, in that communism, on a large scale, has not been achieved to any greater extent than a modern free market system has. All communist states have been rigid economies with assigned work. Of course productivity incentive will be lower when jobs are assigned, and mobility (both physical and social) is limited. I'm not really arguing for communism here, but just trying to illustrate that a argument, similar to one favored by Libertarians, can be made for communism: it hasn't ever really successfully been implemented.

    Renton, "The milk is going ot taste better and better"

    Actually, no, the milk, and most mass produced food we eat tastes worse and worse. Yield and visual aesthetics come far before any consideration of flavor in much of the food industry. The exception is when the goal is to engineer foods which trigger our evolved cravings for things rare in nature, like fatty, salty, sweet, etc. The concentrated triggers are often given a cheap filler delivery method, such as the puffed corn which carries the salty "cheese" coating in a Cheeto. These taste "better and better" only in the sense that they work on a very base level to encourage the consumption of stuff which should not be consumed in any quantity. They're essentially lacing Styrofoam with crack. Mmmm, better and better.
    Last edited by boost; 12-06-2013 at 12:26 PM.
  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoonitnow View Post

    Lawsuits Could Turn Chimpanzees Into Legal Persons:
    http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-an...-legal-persons
    That last 1.2% makes a helluva difference though, wouldn't you agree?

    That lawsuit is a load of crap people have been exploiting animals since forever. Dogs kept for sniffing out drugs are slaves, horses kept for racing are slaves, when does it end. If apes were legal persons they would be working in supermarkets, walking on two legs and talking in a human language. Oh yeah that's right they aren't human.

    As part of their analysis, the researchers compared the platypus genome with genomes of the human, mouse, dog, opossum and chicken. They found that the platypus shares 82 percent of its genes with these animals.
    http://esciencenews.com/articles/200...lution.mammals

    There are plenty of animals that share a significant amount of our DNA, just like the Platypus, doesn't mean they can be directly compared to humans since they don't understand what we are debating i.e they don't possess that part of the brain that allows us to think this way. It's also irrelevant to the discussion at hand. How another species operates shouldn't affect humans. We should be seeking what's best for everyone.
    Erín Go Bragh
  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post
    .
    I think the problem here is you're trying to fit my idea into the current system which won't work. I'm talking about scrap the current system completely, start fresh on a new sheet of paper and think of an alternative system that ensures resources are distributed equally. Since nobody has any right to the world's resources. Like everybody chooses a profession butcher, baker, candlestick maker for example. Everyone gets a baseline of resources that are deemed necessities. Then you get x amount for working y hours on top of that. People who work in specialized jobs such as surgeons or w/e get more per hour worked. Then there is still incentive to work, produce whatever and nobodies starving. There has to be a better alternative to what we have currently.

    Where the population collectively own the means of production or w/e else is needed. So there aren't massive companies where CEO are earning like 400 times the salary of an average worker, because they own the means of production. Less inequality and a better standard of living for all but still with incentives for people to specialise and innovate etc.

    Economics works from flawed premises so I'm not sure it can be classed as a science.
    Erín Go Bragh
  67. #67
    I don't know that they have this as well fleshed out as they think, but this is a very interesting perspective on where we're at.

    http://www.cracked.com/podcast/what-...al-generation/
  68. #68
    72 - I think we'll agree to disagree, however there's one thing we certainly can agree on:

    Quote Originally Posted by seven-deuce View Post
    There has to be a better alternative to what we have currently.
  69. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    Wuf, you have put forth this veiled equating of economics to physics several times itt. Economics is a science, sure-- but attempting to hold it up next to physics is intellectually dishonest, and you know it.
    I wouldn't say I did this, and if I did do it I would take it back. Our understanding of physics is far greater than of economics. The analogy I was making was for the purpose why what we do know about physics should be treated as "what we do know" like the same is in physics. I'm not an economics academic so I don't know the details, but some econ professors I've seen discuss this issue claim that the profession has forgotten some of the principles they were taught in the most well established econ textbooks, like Mishkin's. As an outsider, this makes loads of sense since the profession is all over the place on interpretation, but it makes no sense that econ academia would be all over the place. As it turns out, econ academia knows a lot of true stuff, but the econ profession lets their political and moral views cloud their judgement
  70. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by seven-deuce View Post
    I think the problem here is you're trying to fit my idea into the current system which won't work. I'm talking about scrap the current system completely, start fresh on a new sheet of paper and think of an alternative system that ensures resources are distributed equally..
    This has already been tried. Seriously, it was one of the grandest social experiments of all time. It didn't work. Not only did it not work, it ushered in a dystopia.

    Revert back to my posts about what capitalism is on a fundamental level. I guess I can try to clarify now. "Capital" is resources. Any resource you can think of, like your ability to labor is a resource. Capitalism is the theory of using resources to create more resources based on independent desire. This is the only known way to increase resources.

    The other option, which as been tried and failed abysmally, is socialism. Socialist theory isn't about creation of resources, but distribution of assumed resources. Instead of people laboring based on desire to create resources, they labor based on the need for those resources. What is the need? It's the communal need, designated by a cooperative or centralized government. This sounds fine and dandy until you get into the details. This "communal need" is applied to the resources after they have already been created, and it doesn't address how to create those resources in the first place. However, arbitrary desire to create resources does address the issue of resource creation

    I feel like I'm not explaining this well at all. The point is that socialism has been tried and it failed. It failed in precisely the ways that it was predicted to fail, which are the ways in which it doesn't address resource creation. It is with things like Russian factories making shoes at greater cost than value because there was a "communal need". The country did this for decades, and instead of becoming the second most powerful nation on the planet, they have reverted to a quasi-third world status. Russians are emigrating in droves because the economy is utter shit. When we think of communism, we think only of something negative, something that was doomed to fail. But people don't realize that all this egalitarian, socialist, OWS talk is exactly communism


    Capitalism addresses most issues about what we think of as communal needs. It doesn't address them all, but in the areas it doesn't, welfare is appropriate, not socialism. The concerns about capitalism you raise aren't actually about capitalism, but about lack of appropriate welfarism. Socialism is not an answer. It's actually the worst answer

    The only socialist nations that have succeeded are foraging ones, like Inuits. They have tiny populations that do not grow, no stratification, and not technological development. They're basically subsistence societies. Capitalism is what got us out of subsistence societies and has given us every little technological thing we have. It is also what has given the masses rights, because inherent to capitalism is ownership of your creation. Criticisms of totalitarianism of capitalism have more to do with a form of mercantilism, corporatism, and fascism than capitalism. Basically, paradigms where those who create resources don't really own them
  71. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    Wuf, you gave a critique of communism in the last dozen posts or so. I felt it was lacking, in that communism, on a large scale, has not been achieved to any greater extent than a modern free market system has. All communist states have been rigid economies with assigned work. Of course productivity incentive will be lower when jobs are assigned, and mobility (both physical and social) is limited. I'm not really arguing for communism here, but just trying to illustrate that a argument, similar to one favored by Libertarians, can be made for communism: it hasn't ever really successfully been implemented.
    Why don't you think it has been implemented? Everything I've learned about Russia shows that it was super implemented in the USSR. The foundation of communism is an economy based on communal need, and everything in the USSR was based on this. Factories were put in the worst possible places just because they were "needed" there. Products were manufactured at costs that exceeded their value because it was "needed". Everybody worked because everybody needed to work, and everybody reaped the benefits of the work. I bet if you asked any Soviet Russians about it, they'd tell you they did what they were supposed to and they tried hard. For decades, the USSR went gangbusters on growing their economy, but they eventually realized it was a house of cards. Supply and demand had not been adhered to. Gorbachev tried to save it by gradually reverting to a more market oriented model, but the damage had already been done. The foundation of the Russian economy was communal need, and it had starved them of innovation for half a century. The country is now suffering incredibly.

    China was similar, but it was able to drop its communism for state capitalism, and since then upward mobility has been increasing at a phenomenal pace
  72. #72
    wuf, very good write-up, but I still contend that true socialism is as viable of a goal as the pure libertarian pipe dream of an absolute free market. Socialism or communism never failed-- we failed to reach them. This is mostly because reaching them would abolish the power which the inner party had snapped up post-revolution.

    Again, I'm not looking to uphold the tenets of communism, but only to show that it's a practically unreachable goal in the same way as a pure free market.

    In a similar vein, I'd like to point out that while capitalism got us here, that fact does not necessitate capitalism's continued implementation as the winning social structure for the future. It could just be a stepping stone, and here you are, imploring us all to stay, because, "look, we're perfectly dry!"
  73. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by rpm View Post
    @ renton, so do you think the top-heavy distribution of wealth which capitalist systems create is going to alleviate enough of the world's poverty and raise the overall quality of life adequately for us to be able to effectively deal with the problems of climate change in time?
    If it doesn't, we're screwed.

    The other options are, um, they, um....they don't exist. People love to say how capitalism doesn't address climate problems, but they never acknowledge that morals don't either. There is no theory remotely capable of addressing this problem without incredible side effects. The perfect analogy for this is the drug war. There was once a time when almost everybody believed drugs were bad (reefer madness sort of thing), and it was addressed by all sorts of regulatory penalties. We ended up creating a juggernaut of regulation trying to stamp out the drug problem, but it didn't work. Not only did it not work, it made things far worse. In fact, it made things so bad that it created tremendous problems that didn't originally exist.

    People wanna say we can fix the problem of climate change with regulation. But we can't. Nobody knows how. Just like all the regulations in the world on drugs didn't do shit, all the regulations in the world on environmental conservation will just have unintended consequences. Good regulations are extremely hard to make. Regulations on future externalities that hinder the economy would make the drug war look like paradise
  74. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Why don't you think it has been implemented? Everything I've learned about Russia shows that it was super implemented in the USSR. The foundation of communism is an economy based on communal need, and everything in the USSR was based on this. Factories were put in the worst possible places just because they were "needed" there. Products were manufactured at costs that exceeded their value because it was "needed". Everybody worked because everybody needed to work, and everybody reaped the benefits of the work. I bet if you asked any Soviet Russians about it, they'd tell you they did what they were supposed to and they tried hard. For decades, the USSR went gangbusters on growing their economy, but they eventually realized it was a house of cards. Supply and demand had not been adhered to. Gorbachev tried to save it by gradually reverting to a more market oriented model, but the damage had already been done. The foundation of the Russian economy was communal need, and it had starved them of innovation for half a century. The country is now suffering incredibly.

    China was similar, but it was able to drop its communism for state capitalism, and since then upward mobility has been increasing at a phenomenal pace
    This is all patently wrong. Millions of Russians died due to an avoidable famine caused by Stalin's enthusiasm for a misguided botanist who couldn't have reversed his position if he realized his error, because it wouldn't only mean his fall from the grace of the inner party, but likely his death. This was repeated over and over. Innovation was not stymied because of communism, it was squashed because there were megalomaniacs running the show, there was a culture of suspicion, and disagreeing with the states opinion on nearly anything meant a vacation in the gulag, if not death.

    It was indeed doomed to failure at the time, you're 100% right. But that's because there was no possible way to transition from a system which dependent on vast bureaucracies and a powerful inner party.

    For a further rebuttal, see #72
  75. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    wuf, very good write-up, but I still contend that true socialism is as viable of a goal as the pure libertarian pipe dream of an absolute free market. Socialism or communism never failed-- we failed to reach them. This is mostly because reaching them would abolish the power which the inner party had snapped up post-revolution.
    This is a common view. I disagree with it, however, for a few reasons. It's sorta like a goalpost shifting or no true Scotsman fallacy. "Why didn't it work? Because it wasn't the real thing!" I think we don't need a pure form to analyze the elements, and then better judge what a pure form would look like. Regardless, why even ask for a "pure" form anyways. What does that even mean?

    I think what's going on is that people are trying to reinvent socialism. Originally, it was a stark contrast to capitalism, virtually an exact opposite, and it was created as a philosophical counterpart. But these days people are trying to change it so it looks more like some form of cooperative capitalism or maybe a capital-welfare state. Actually, the current ideas look more like anti-aristocracy than anything else (which is strange since we don't have an aristocracy). Anyways, I digress

    I think I'm gonna have to disagree that "pure" socialism hasn't been tried. I think Russia tried it. Socialism was basically a counter to the bourgeoisie as contrasted to the proletariat. Russia did everything it could to create a classless society that empowered the proletariat and eliminated the bourgeoisie

    In a similar vein, I'd like to point out that while capitalism got us here, that fact does not necessitate capitalism's continued implementation as the winning social structure for the future. It could just be a stepping stone, and here you are, imploring us all to stay, because, "look, we're perfectly dry!"
    I think the trend may be opposite of this, but I honestly don't know, and it will probably always be about a balance. It's like how I think economies work best when they start out as state capitalism and gradually move to free market capitalism. The more dynamic the economy gets and the greater the technology, the easier the markets can provide for wishes and needs. We don't live in a world where it provides for all, but it provides for way more it otherwise would. The only real problems I can see with free market capitalism is it doesn't seem to work well when resources are fixed and limited (truly fixed and limited, not just perceived as such) or when there are no incentives for something. My two main examples would be health coverage for the chronically ill and anything that requires a whole bunch of land

    Perhaps the future will be about a mix of free market and cooperative capitalism with virtually no state intervention. I could see this happening, as the value of cooperative efforts is increasing now like it didn't in the past

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