- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Can't think of a subject header.....

Posted by: David on January 28, 19100 at 16:01:10:

In Reply to: What about the worker's right to a decent standard of living? posted by Nikhil Jaikumar on January 28, 19100 at 11:32:16:

: : 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.

However, efficiency also allows products to be much cheaper than what they would normally be. Just look at how the prices of computers have plummeted.

: 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.

I can't say that they have a right to it, however, I believe it is a companies best interest and the best interest of a country encourage the growth of fullfilling work.

: :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?

Again, I cannot defend it as a right per se, but I do believe that people should have a decent standard of living. In fact, I believe it is the hallmark stamp of a successful nation when all people have a decent standard of living. When they can afford luxuries.

: :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?

They can make that decision, by quitting a job in which they think their labor is being used frivolously.

: :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.

Aha, but the point is is that she is being given something by the state. If she lived on the generosity of others who gave food and money to her willingly I would say that no one has the right to tell her to get a job or whatever. She can choose to liver her life as she wants.

: :
: : 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.

The prices of computers have fallen through the floor and people are still getting rich off of them. In the case of the worlds finite resources, that is a whole discussion altogether and disserves a new thread.

: :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.

By the same argument, you could rationalize not paying any of your workers in the interest of reinvesting to be more productive. Besides, what is the point in being productive if you cannot be rewarded for it?

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

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

Well, I do not accept the concept of surplus value. I believe you should pay people appropriately for their work but not to the point where you detriment your own company.

: : : 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.

It would be tantamount to telling Barry that Marx has no authority (actually, I hold Das Kapital as having more authority than the bible because it actually has some evidence and semblance of rational thought behind it) otr telling him the LTV is an illusion. However, I will always stand by my conviction that religion of any sort is simply a means of escape from reality.

: : : 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.

Yeah, well, we can't all be perfect ;)

: : : 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?

Capitalism coupled with democracy is wonderful. Separate the two and you end up with tyranny or poverty.

: : 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.

Yeah, that is always a problem.

: : : : 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?

No, immigration to the larger cities formed from other countries. Like Gee, however, I am completely for the elimination of all barriers and for the free movement of people. Population growth is a concern, however, if people merely take responsibilty for how many children they wish to have then that is ok. Adoption clinics and abortion clincs also play a role in it as well.

: : : 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?

All I expect is a decent wage. If I am not given one, I will find one elsewhere.

: :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'?

That is a good question. There have been many rags to riches stories in America just like there have been many stories of crushed hopes. I believe people make their own destiny.

: :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....

Just so you know, I did not intend it in any racial or homophobic sense. I meant it in the sense that if I were an employer, I would not want to be forced to hire certain people, only those that I choose to hire. Thought I would clarify that just so you don't think I am some segregation loonie.

: 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.

My take on the health care and education is that if you are going to provide free education or free health care to some, you MUST provide it to all. And actually, on the subject of education, I stray from my usual doctrine. I believe that education is something that is very important and a decent education should be provided to all. Health care, I support the idea of co-pay and cooperate HMOs where people get together, pay dues and in return when they need some sort of medical treatment, the HMO helps pay for it.

: : 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.

I try not to lecture people (underscore TRY). People are free to live their lives as they see fit, I will do the same with mine. I will make the special effort in the case of friends and loved ones to help guide them in the right direction and make good decisions.

: : : 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?

Sure they are capitalist, but just take a look at how well those countries are doing. Without freedom, capitalism only provides wealth for the tyrants.

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

I am actually for the privatization of social security. I believe the system we have now really sucks. It needs to be reformed. Made available to all but reformed heavily. Put it in the hands of the private sector, They are much better at making money then the government.

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