- Capitalism and Alternatives -

What about the worker's right to a decent standard of living?

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on January 28, 19100 at 11:32:16:

In Reply to: Freedom is a necessity of capitalism posted by David on January 25, 19100 at 23:22:37:

: I don't think that laziness itself is an issue. In fact, in some instances laziness can pay off, especially if because of your laziness you decide to find a better, easier, way of doing something. However, companies have the right to fire people just as people have the right to quit.

The real question, then, is whether the economy should be run by such 'companies', or rather by the people in a democratic manner. Actually you make a good point about 'laziness'- companies generally try to make products with teh minimum of resources spent, and that includes labor; so they tend to spend as little as possible on wages and labor. Those proprietors who do otherwise generally take a financial hit for it. This is what causes unemployment.

The real question is not whether citizens are entitled to a particular job, but whether they are entitled to SOME sort of fulfilling work., I believe they are, that is part of the human birthright.

:If the owner of the company decides that they are going to stop marketing a product and consequently lays off workers, then that is perfectly within his rights.

What about the worker's right to a decent standard of living? I think that's more important, don't you?

:Obviously I do not like the idea of a million workers (most of whom probably have families) being laid off, but then again, I also don't like the idea large quantities of wealth being spent on frivalous endeavors.

Shouldn't the workers, not the capitalists, be the ones tod ecide what is a 'frivolous' use of THEIR labor? Who is the capitalist to be telling us how to contstructively use OUR OWN LABOR?

:The point is though, is that I have no right to tell them how they should run their lives or spend their money. Similarly, I have no right to tell them how they should run their businesses.

Unfortunately, that's what the capitalist system, and the boss, do every day. What do you think we're doing when we say to a welfare mother, "Get a job, or we stop feeding you?" We're presuming to tell her how to live her life. Let's think about the arrogance of that for a moment.

: No, I said social distinctions may be founded only the general good. Now, here is where opinions come into play. I do not recognize a zero-sum game, I am not of the belief that just because one person has a lot of wealth than another person must necessarily have very little wealth.

Unfortunately for your arguemnt, the world's resources are at some level finite. Also, the whole idea of teh free market is predicated on scaricty; if everything is in large supply, then prices would fa;ll through the floor and teh market couldn't function. Capitalism decreases abundance, it doesn't increase it.

:Based on this, I believe that a person becoming wealthy does not "injure" anyone else, therefore it is not against the general good. In fact, I believe that having wealthier people in a country promotes the general good by allowing more resources to be invested into production and raise the standard of living for everybody.

This is actually not correct. Socialized production would result in MORE investment, because all profit would be funneled into investment instead of personal comforts for the capitalist. A socialist society would not, I think, pay workers the full value of their labor; they would continue to siphon off profit from the workers. However, this profit in a capitalsit system is divided between personal cosnumption by teh capitalist and investment. In a socialist society none would go to PC and it would all go into investment.

:Wealth created honestly is NOT wrong and I will defend it vehemently.

Is appropriation of the surplus value created by the workers 'honest'?

: : Sacred according to whom?

: According to me, that is why I said "I think that..."

: : Where in the Bible does it say you have an absolute right to property?

: Since when does the Bible have any authority?

You said 'sacred'. Anyway, both socialists like Cardenal and capitalists like Stuart Gort use the Bible routinely to defend their arguments. Try telling THEM that it has no authority.

: : Incidentally, Locke wasn't too big a fan of freedom and property for teh Native Americans. Or for Africans, for that matter. He also supported the LTV, as do most people when they stop deluding themselves. Maybe you should read some socialist or communist thinkers once in a while. I read Locke (and disagreed with everything he said); why don't you read Marx? (I'm not a Marxist either, but that's not relevant....)

: Well, unfortunately people tend to have some good ideas and some bad ideas. Like Batolomo De Las Casas, he was all for native american rights, he just had a problem with Africans. I have read the communist manifesto and a little bit of Das Kapital and I disagree with Marx. He was a very intelligent guy but I disagree with the concept of profit being expropriated labor, I also disagree with the LTV (this is where Stoller strikes me down with his thunderbolt).

OK. Unfortunatley, Locke and Smith both agreed with the LTV.

: : Not true. The poorest of the poor are generally better off in socialist countries, regardless of how the 'average' citizen may fare; (the average is often higher as well). Anyway, the last time I proved that socialist Nicaragua did a better job of generating wealth than market-capitalist countries in Latin America, you neatly dodged by saying 'wealth creation wasn't the issue." What's it gonna be? You can't eat your cake and have it too.

: My point was that capitalism has not injured anyone.

.....except the poor and the proletariat engendered by capiatlism and the pre-capitalist producers dispossessed from their land.

:It has helped a lot of people and has made people better off in this country.

Was it capitalism that did that? or was it the opposing tendency of democracy? Isn't it true that socialist revolutions generally do better at helping out the most destitute than capitalist ones?

: The issue I was getting at however is that socialism is incompatible with what I consider to be mans natural rights and that is why I oppose it. Just like I would rather be free and starve than be fed and clothed yet kept in chains.

I think it's difficult to agree here, because we haqve different understandings of what man;s natural rights really are.

: : : it has raised the standard of living in ways that people could have never imagined.

: : Which would explain the formation of slums throughout capitaliszing countries in LAtin America; the lack of decent living standards for teh poor in any capitalist counrty; etcetera....

: Those are caused by workers leaving their farms to go to the city so they can work in factories and make more money.

Actually, many of those guys would be perfectly happy working on their farms, if the capitalist system hadn't 1) dispossessed them from their land, 2) forced them to participate in the cash economy in order to obtain medicine, etc. and 3) made it impossible for them to farm by undercutting their markets.

:Not to mention that the growth rate increases and immigration usually becomes a problem.

Don't you mean "emigration"? And is it a coincidence that it;s usually teh socialist countries that have effectively tackled the problem of population growth?

: : Blatant falsehood. The freest counrty in the ear;ly '90s, using a narrow definition (only civil and political freedoms) was social democratic Sweden, not capitalist America (we were #33 on the list). Socialist Nicaragua was in many ways freere and more democratic than Reagan's US. There have been PLENTY of socialist states that were both free and democratic, often freer and more democratic than the US- Kerala, Bengal, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Chile, Zimbabwe, the Seychelles, Guyana, &c. Do you deny the existence of these counterexamples? BEcause your argument is that capitalism is what leads to freedom, not anything else; tehrefore the presence of freedom logically implies the presence of capitalism. Unfortunatly, these counterxamples disprove your point. So which is it going to be?

: Freedom by what standard? I do not consider a country to be free if I am forced (coerced) into paying money so that it can be redistributed to other people.

But you're OK with paying your dues to the boss so he can buy a yacht?

:I do not consider it a free country if I cannot do what I want with my own life.

How much chance does the capitalist system offer to a grape picker in California to become a writer? Even if that was what he 'really wanted to do with his own life'?

:I do not consider it a free country when I am coerced into associating with people with whom I do not want to associate.

I'm going to skip over that, I don't like the way it sounds....

And I don't consider a society 'free' if everyone doesn't have, guaranteed,the education and healthcare that allows them to participate fully and make their own decisions about what they want to do. But that's really neither here nor there. Let's leave behind our additional definitions of freedom and look only at teh 'neutral' definition that encompasses CIVIL and POLITICAL freedom only. If we focus on C&P freedom, only then can we come to any sort of common ground. Sweden was found to be the freest country in terms of C&P freedom, in spite of their having a social democratic economy.

: Freedom is not freedom from necessity. It is not freedom from responsibility.

If you want to lecture people about responsibility and necessity, be my guest. But I don't think that;s my place. I'd rather talk to them about hope, inspiration and love.

: : My point is that capitalism thrives well udner dictatorship, in fact better than it does under democracy. Capitalism and democracy are essentially incompatible; capitalism stands for economic oligarchy.

: I disagree, in a capitalist society, the most important necessity is freedom. People need to be free to create, to build, and to live.

Then how do you explain the numerous capitalist states, many of them more capitalist than the US, which coexisted with absolute tyranny?

El Salvador, where the US actually had to pressure them to be MORE socialist? Chile, which innovated the idea of privatizing social security?

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