- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Dr. Cruel on November 30, 1999 at 10:39:17:

In Reply to: Equals Economic Danger posted by Stoller on November 24, 1999 at 18:59:19:

Let’s see about those ‘meritless points’. Eh?

: Fact: '71% of households own no shares at all or hold less than $2,000 worth in any form, including mutual funds, 401(k)s, and traditional pensions.' (Business Week, 1 Setember 1997, p. 67.)
DC: This is me. I'm not wealthy, either (but I hope to be).

*In effect, I speak as one of these so-called ‘workers’. It is to my poor advantage that the indomitable Mr. Stoller presumably labors. And yet, I do not desire his help - as, presumably, Marx predicted.

: Fact: Market returns only 'fatten the wallets of the top quarter of households, which own 82% of all stock.' (Ibid.)
DC: Hmm. 82% of stock ends up "fattening one's wallet". Perhaps I should start putting some money into the stock market, after all ...

*One can see why Mr. Stoller would not want to comment on this, it being an indictment of certain ‘creative statistical usage’. As Mr. Twain predicted.

: Fact: 'The right defining statistic for the last two years is the negative savings rate [for average Americans] first recorded in September 1998. Negative savings rates hadn't been seen since 1933.' (New York Times, 18 January 1999, sec. A, p. 17.)
DC: I'm guessing that this takes into account inflation. Ayn Rand didn't like this sort of thing either, you know. Neither does Mr. Greenspan.

*Negative savings is not a good thing. I fail to see how murdering all the businessmen might help (other than removing the means by which people fall into debt; i.e. by purchasing products).

: Fact: Total household debt is 98% of total disposable annual income. (Business Week, 1 November 1999, p. 40.)
DC: They are referring to something called a "house mortgage", I think. I hope so, anyway - since the average per capita GDP in the U.S. is over $30,000. I know I don't owe anybody that kind of money. (Except, presumably, the Communists, as the rightful representatives of the proletariat's interests. Of Course.)

*Again, more creative fiddling with statistical data. Once the debt quoted is understood to be a house mortgage, the concept appears far more mundane (although what goes on in the housing market is not something I particularly approve of. But that is, of course, something else entirely).

: : I'm saying if you went hungry for a while you'd learn to appreciate what is good about a job - any job. You'd be happier to have that job and less inclined to bite the hand that feeds you.
: So said the prætorian guard to the slaves of the Roman Empire!
DC: No, they probably said something different in Latin. It likely would be similar to what one hears in mainland China nowadays, and likely would not mention that "boogeyman" of capitalism, the seductive lure of the robber barons of the West ... pay.

*One presumes that, a snide remark being responded to in kind, that the mature Mr. Stoller wished simply to let the matter drop. Or so it would seem. In any case, we are still left with the mystery. To wit: what elusive power is used by those despicable capitalist enchanters that is so hypnotically alluring to us working stiff types? Or, why does the shining Marxist state invariably degenerate into something called ‘state capitalism’? Or, from whence cometh the ‘black market’? Ad infinitum.

In any case, someone feeding me might very well expect to get bitten. Someone selling me food, at my request, is another matter entirely. A much easier arrangement to be made for those gainfully employed, but you might as well chalk that up to exploitation as well. Or, as Henny Youngman might say, "Exploit me ... please!"

*In effect - what is so wrong, when done via the mechanism of trade and commerce, that is made clean and pure once blessed by the Marxist priesthood? Why can’t I work for Scrooge, but must labor for Fidel? And does my freedom to choose have anything to do with it?

: : Tell me what is compassinate about creating an ever growing dependancy class - as is all we have ever seen of socialism.
: That statement is a CRASS DISTORTION. (DC: Uh oh. I think Gort just bit Stoller. A good Christian boy like that … for shame!)
: Sure, Stalinism created a bureaucratic elite. But it's income was inconsequential compared to the wealth usurped by the capitalist elite. (DC: In a totalitarian society like Stalin ran, EVERYONE was poor. What an egalitarian concept.)
: For example, Stalinist bureaucrats received only 4 times as much as rank and file Soviet workers. In America, bosses earn up to 200 times that of average American workers. (In Stalinism, everything was owned by the Party apparatus. Money had lost its meaning, as its value meant little in a society with no markets to give it one.)
: You attempt to paint socialism as some sort of welfare state. That is PATENTLY UNTRUE. (DC: Or not. For example, when the party runs out of capitalists, it becomes a slave state. Someone has to work, you know.)
: Socialism is predicated upon EVERY ABLE-BODIED INDIVIDUAL WORKING. Even the darkest of Stalinist regimes adhered to that principle. (DC: Damn straight. The question was: What’s valuable, and what will we make? In bourgeois-ridden America, it was fancy cars and goofy clothes, and other consumer trifles. In the good old U.S.S.R., it was steel and cement production. The big problem became motivating those ‘good socialists’ with factory statistics. Not nearly as easy as PAYING your workforce, then LETTING THEM BUY WHAT THEY WANT. Thus, the ‘revolutionary need for terror’ that Lenin quipped about, and Stalin put into practice so enthusiastically.)

*Good reason here not to comment. Selling this farce would become a very sticky proposition, once the lack of personal freedom implicit in this scheme is revealed.

: On the contrary, it is HERE that there are TWO parasitic segments of the population: 1) the reserve army of the proletariat thrown a few table scraps every now and then to purchase their docility; and 2) the capitalist class which monopolizes the means of production but doesn't actually WORK it.
DC: Give me my table scraps, please. "I want my MTV", or thereabouts. Where does one join the ‘lumpen’, if you please? (And if there’s a capitalist that doesn’t work, I’ve yet to meet the fellow.)

*As in, I’m happy with the present arrangement. I’ve not seen these ‘indolent capitalists’ you speak of. And, most importantly, you haven’t advocated anything that would make life better for people - not the rich, not the poor, not the working man, not anybody. Not even the Marxists, for the resultant "die-off" that follows these revolutionary affairs you advocate traditionally leaves few of them standing.

: : Tell me what is compassionate about convincing people that work which sustains them is not good enough for them.
: Do you have ANY idea how 18th century that statement sounds? (DC: They called it "The Enlightenment", kid.)
: Your aristocratic morality is a disgrace. (DC: This, coming from a apologist for Stalinism. Impressive.)

*What is there left to say? One can see how a Marxist might be left speechless here (if not embarrassed).

: If this country was as'great' and as 'wealthy' as you claim it is, then EVERYONE would do some interesting work once in a while---instead of laboring like farm animals. (DC: Good idea. I think I will, if that isn’t too much trouble. So can anyone else, from what I’ve picked up at the unemployment office.)

*As in, my ‘poverty-level’ salary is more than sufficient for my present needs. Not that I don’t endeavor to increase it, of course. As in, your melodrama played better when Orwell did it.

: Enjoy your cavier and moet while you can.
DC: I’d rather munch on a cheeseburger and fries, if you please. Perhaps a nice vanilla shake, too. Mmm.
Nice to live in a free-market society. I’d better pop down to the local fast-food joint and enjoy it while I still can, eh?

*This goes without saying. An excellent idea, as my appreciation for the labor-value of caviar and moet simply isn’t up to snuff. Sorry, Charlie.

"Doc" Cruel

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