- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You don't want it to start.

Posted by: Flynn on July 08, 1999 at 10:49:49:

In Reply to: You don't want it to end, Gee posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on July 07, 1999 at 17:22:27:

: : what kind of career to pursue

: SDF: So, you've decided to join the NBA and play pro basketball, Gee? What a great choice! I can see you'll be an instant success. Can you make a shot with someone's hand in your face? Are you 6' 10" or higher? Or perhaps you'd like to pursue a career in corporate finance? Can you produce a CV showing you've spent your entire life preparing for such a career? So you'd like to be a college professor. Written a marketable dissertation yet? You've got extensive documentation of your ability to teach apathetic teenagers? Or maybe a career in brain surgery is for you. Paid the bills for medical school yet?

Of course, we'd be much better off having C. Evrett Coop as starting center for the Bulls, Warren Buffett lecturing on Physics at CalTech, Michael Jordan chairing Saloman Brothers and Richard Feynman conducting brain surgery.

: The point is that under capitalism, the "choice of a career" is occluded by all sorts of coercive limitations based partly on preparation costs, partly on your suitability in satisfying a capitalist's need for profit, and it also bears consideration that the alternative to making such a "career choice" is, for many, a boringly-deskilled job designed by corporate Taylorists.

You mean that it sucks that in order to pursue a career, you have to convince people that you might be good at it? What a burden. It sure would be nice to never have to study, practice or work to gain a skill set.

: SDF: Our choices are LIMITED by the above determinations.

Which means we still have choice.

Our choices are LIMITED by reality. Do you seek an escape from that?

: SDF: I've already seen plenty of corporate obfuscation before, I'll look at it again.

Try www.free-market.net/forums

: SDF: I'm sure it would also be worse to die on a medieval torture rack or freeze to death in the depths of Siberia or suffer from malaria in a Cambodian jungle or to be forced to work in a Chinese sweatshop. So what? I was making a point about choice -- bringing up alternatives nobody wants is just more advertising for the "choice" we are required to accept.

No one's ever said that markets respond instantaneously. If a producer creates a choice, and no one wants it, the failure to sell at the desired price is the feedback mechanism -- that choice won't be produced again. If it sells, but at half the price, then it's either worth perpetuating or not. The price is the signal.

As it turns out, when it is more efficient to wait until someone expresses exactly what they want, that's what producers do. Gateway doesn't build a computer for you until you tell them exactly what you want. Why? Because consumer desire moves to fast for them to predict. It's less expensive for them to endure the cost of custom-manufacture and secure more overall sales.

: SDF: If I had wanted to say as much, I would have said it in those terms. My argument is that capitalism, not life, presents the illusion of a choice.

If choice under capitalism is only an illusion, what *does* offer choice?

: SDF: The stakes get higher with each advance in humanity's numbers. The notion that overpopulation was not a real problem when the world held three billion people does not automatically imply that it isn't a problem today with the world at six billion people.

It just implies that whatever the supposed symptoms of this problem are, they aren't showing themselves in precisely the places they were predicted.

: SDF: There are severe logistic limitations to human conversion from oil-based sources of fuel to non-oil-based sources of fuel, many of them having to do with the fact that the present-day economy is run not for the sake of long-term sustainability but instead for short-term profit, as we would expect with a capitalist system.

Please explain the logic underlying this conclusion. How do you define long-term and short-term?

: Is it really just ME that is "drawing a ceiling upon mankind as a species," or is it those who would insist that every government enforce the rules of corporate capitalism within its borders?

Regardless of what else Gee may *insist* on, the question is whether there's an inherit ceiling on mankind as a species?

: SDF: So what you're saying is that, instead of saving the rainforests of Brazil (since we don't really know who will use their genetic pools for the future of medicine, or for the future of the planetary ecology), we should chop them down so that they can be "farmed" (such farming usually lasting about one crop, since the soil fertility of despoiled rainforest is about nil). 'Cause that's what's happening today.

A) That's not what's happening today.

B) Even if it is, then the question is, why are the Brazilian rainforests *not* being valued at the level you think they should be? Are you just smarter than everyone else? If so, why don't you buy some of them -- I'm sure the medical technologies you expect to pull out of them over the next few decades will more than payoff the investment.

: SDF: Another false dilemma, either "static" life, or the despoilation of natural resources. One of the main limitations capitalism presents upon human choice is that the choices pro-capitalists see for humanity (and enforce upon everyone else BTW) are limited by pro-capitalist ideology.

They are? In what way?

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