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Capitalism

Righty: Any system that rewards individual initiative, inventiveness, character, hard work and dedication is the kind of system we need to bring out the best in our people. Capitalism is like a magical machine that takes raw materials and transforms them into wealth. Into the machine we load oil, iron ore, cotton, lumber and ideas; out the other end emerge handsome homes, stores, cities, universities and a life of comfort. Capitalism is the essence of freedom and the springboard to self-fulfillment. No system has been more effective at transforming us from wretched barbarians into affluent and civilized men and women. If God had money, you can bet He’d be a capitalist, too.

Lefty: Righty offers us a predictably starry-eyed (read “deluded”) view of a corrupt economic system that thrives on greed, opportunism and exploitation. The essence of capitalism is a cheat: you obtain your goods at a bargain price and fob them off on your gullible customers at a significantly fatter price. Very noble, that. Even worse, the capitalist reaps a profit off the labor of his underpaid underlings. They sweat for a pittance, like beasts of burden, stripped of their dignity and security; the capitalist collects the rewards. Where’s the justice in that? The people who do the work are entitled to share equally in the proceeds, and only government ownership of the means of production will restore some semblance of justice to this outrageously exploitative system. We need an economy that acknowledges our interdependence and sense of community. Marx had it right: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”

The New Moderate:

As Winston Churchill might have put it (to paraphrase his famous remark about democracy), capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the others. There is nothing especially praiseworthy about buying low and selling high, other than the fact that it helps build fortunes for those doing the buying and selling.

Capitalism rewards an extremely narrow range of human skills: the ability to spot opportunities and exploit them. Nothing especially praiseworthy about that, either. What if our skills lie more in the direction of creating vivid art, diagramming sentences or amassing a vast internal storehouse of general knowledge? Then we’re free to join the underclass. There’s your “freedom” for you, Righty.

I like capitalism’s respect for individual effort; I’m all in favor of private property; I think hard work should be rewarded. It’s just that within the confines of pure free-market capitalism, the rewards generally go to the most avaricious rather than the best, brightest or most virtuous. Much like Darwinian natural selection, pure capitalism is an amoral system that shows no regard for beauty, kindness or other intrinsic values; all that seems to matter is one’s ability to find a suitable niche and dominate it. (For this reason rats and MBAs are more successful than pandas and poets.)

We need to reshape capitalism so that robber-baron CEOs and investment bankers can no longer earn a thousand times the salaries of their hardworking secretaries. We need to restore some sense of proportion to our current “winner-take-all” economy, or eventually the peasants will revolt. What’s more, I think they’ll be justified.

What we have now isn’t pure capitalism, anyway. It’s corporatism: the domination of the markets by a handful of gargantuan (and frequently unethical) players, to the detriment of real competition. It’s plutocracy, too: the near-absolute control of the nation’s wealth by a tiny, self-perpetuating economic elite.

The New Moderate would favor a modified capitalist economy as defined by the two Roosevelts: combine TR’s trustbusting fervor with FDR’s reliance on inspired federal programs to supplement the private sector, and we’d be well on our way to a more just economy that, unlike socialism or communism, still respects and rewards the individual.

Summary: Capitalism may be the least evil of economic systems, but it’s far from perfect. We need to tweak it so more people can share in the rewards.

46 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave Lynch permalink
    November 25, 2009 1:39 pm

    Your Churchill paraphrase is extremely apt. So should move forward with modified democracy ? Capitolism is the worst economic system – except for all the others. That would include “modified capitolism”. The rewards of capitolism are actually extremely broad rather than narrow. The fallacy of too many shallow adherents is that it rewards merit. Capitolism rewards providing people with what they want. The better you are at that the wealthier you will get. The fallacy of its detractors, is that it is about money. The wealth of a nation is the extent to which it produces what it wants. If we want oil, we get oil, if we want poetry that is what we get. In fact it is extremely good at meeting our desires to exactly the extent that we value them. If you beleive there is insufficient art – the fault is in ourselves not the system. Rock Stars, Super Athletes, Celebrities are rewarded exactly in proportion to our values. The initial criticism of Adam Smith was that capitalism would empower the lower tier of the pyramid. One of the reasons for some of the things you see as skewed values, is because the power is actually concentrated at the bottom not the top. Entertainers earn princely wages rather than artists and poets because the aggregate ability of the bottom of the pyramid to reward is much greater than that of the top. You are correct in noting that what we have now is corporatism more than capitalism, but corporatism is dependent on government. Without government competition arises naturally. There are fundamentally only two barriers to entry into a market. The real cost of competing – so long as some megalithic monster monopoly ensures the market price of its product is sufficiently low no one can afford to compete – the purpose of competition is served. That rarely happens and monopolies tend to die naturally. The other is artificial barriers created in collusion with power and the only power great enough to restrict a market is government. In the most recent economic debacle look what happened – government is propping up the largest corporations in the country. Why are these institutions “too big to fail” ? Either we need their services – and their destruction would result in the birth of smaller businesses to meet that need, or we don’t and it is corporate welfare pure and simple. Regardless it is not capitolism.

  2. November 26, 2009 1:00 pm

    Dave: Thanks for the honest, thought-provoking post. You raised some important points: the fallacies of arguments about capitalism on the right and the left, the key to capitalist success (giving people the goods and services they want), the populist nature of capitalism, and the corruptive “too big to fail” mentality.

    I’d quibble with only one point: that the outlandish incomes of pro athletes and other celebrities reflect their true market value. American celebrities benefit from a huge publicity machine (the tabloids, TV shows like “Entertainment Tonight,” Internet portals with their celeb news, and especially sports news.) This publicity machine keeps their names in the public eye (for free, mind you!) and artificially enhances their fame and status. The result: even higher salaries.

    I feel a real conflict over the populism issue. On the one hand, I have to agree that minor poets, for example, contribute very little to our culture and probably don’t deserve big monetary rewards. But it’s always easy to appeal to the worst human instincts and tastes, especially in a society that has lost all respect for virtue. By promoting hardcore rappers, slutty teen role models and other junk culture, capitalism isn’t simply responding to demand; it’s shaping tastes by bombarding us with the images it wants us to embrace as “cool.” Of course, we fall for the bait (at least the more vulnerable among us do). I’m not sure if that’s honest capitalism so much as crass manipulation.

    Anyway, as a moderate I’m fascinated by the pull between my own populism and elitism, like two angels sitting on my shoulders and whispering into my ears. The problem is that neither angel is entirely good or entirely bad, and there’s the rub.

    Thanks for making me think.

    • Andy Tonti permalink
      February 19, 2013 4:39 pm

      Hey Rick,

      Actually I mean to weigh in against my previous blogs on this subject. My perception of our corporate capitalist (corporatist)state system cloaked behind the appearance of a democracy can be based around this statement I copied and pasted from a previous blogger “What we have now isn’t pure capitalism, anyway. It’s corporatism: the domination of the markets by a handful of gargantuan (and frequently unethical) players, to the detriment of real competition. It’s plutocracy, too: the near-absolute control of the nation’s wealth by a tiny, self-perpetuating economic elite.” We need to transform ourselves into a social democracy, whereby all crucial decision-making is accomplished in community or federated groups of citizens to produce an equitable, rational solution to national issues. Excessive wealth should be re-distributed to address major domestic problems adequately and fairly, to downsize our military in terms of personnel, weaponry, and nuclear proliferation, and withdraw now from our occupationin the Mid-East. We need to assist these war-ravaged nations with assistance to rebuild their infrastructure, businesses,and demolished capitals. And we need to compensate their occupied peoples for their losses of life, property and skills.

      Hopefully, its not too late to challenge this plutocracy with the truth and stand our ground, wherever that may lead us.

      • February 19, 2013 5:58 pm

        Andy;

        After correctly diagnosing that our current systems fails because among many many other problems, the power of government lures interests of all kinds to bend it to its own ends, your solution is more government power in a different form ?

        Pretty much every progressive fallacy starts out with “We need to transform” – No – collective “we” needs are minimal almost non-existant. Nearly all of what you want and need in life is NOT provided by government. Why is that where you first turn for some new perceived need ?
        Further when you use “we” as you are, what you are really saying is “I”, or possibly “I other like minded people” should be able to force everyone else to restructure things as “I” wish. Even were I to agree with you on something, where does my right to FORCE anyone else to live in the world as “I” want it transformed come from ? Majority rule always comes at the expense of others.

        What is your evidence that communities or federated groups make better decisions than individuals ? Almost the entirety of history refutes that.

        i have already addressed how abysmal a standard “fair” is previously.
        It is likely that you and I have similar understanding of “red” or “food”. It is virtually certain that in a group of 10 people there are atleast 10 very distinct understandings of what “fair” is.

        If the rich have somehow aquired what they posses illegally – prosecute them. Otherwise the use of force – and all that distinguishes government from any other voluntary organization (like a corporation) is the use of force, to take something from one group to give to another is theft. Tagging the group you are stealing from “wealthy” changes nothing Using government as your henchman changes nothing.
        If what is moral is fungible, you have far more problems than the variability of “fairness”. If you rest what is moral on some majoritarian basis, you provide the moral basis to justify anything done by any “democratic” government. It is that false principle that compelled Socrates to drink the hemlock.

        Beyond you demand to steal from one group, what is your justification for the rest of your commands ? Some of the things you mention I agree with – but they are not legitimate because I agree with them, but because they are rooted in defensible principles.

        How much to we owe those war ravaged peoples of the Mid-East (or anywhere else) ? Do we owe it to the people or their governments ?
        How do you propose that we do all this rebuilding over the objections of others in those nations ?

        If by some logic we owe the Egyptions $1B in reparations for some sin we have commited, how are you planning on paying it ?
        We currently give $5B/year tot he Morsi government – much of it in weapons. Even charities have found it impossible to deliver food the to starving in places like Somalia – even charity is a political tool, and if churches and charities will not wield it as such, then regional strongmen will.
        Much of the harm we have inflicted on the mid-east has been done by misguided efforts to help them.

        Absolutely we are responsible for the consequences of any violence we have inflicted on others. but the responsibibility is ONLY and SPECIFICALY to those we have actually harmed – not anyone claiming to represent any offended group.

  3. Taliesin Knol permalink
    January 6, 2010 3:02 am

    Capialism = greed not bad, a little greed and self interest drives progress, but the rampant form present in America oday leaves out all but a few supergreedy/rich. But Socialism depends on Human goodwill and work ethic. Can you say idealist? How about naive? Humans require a drive, and some people fall down. But instead of the current system of trampling them further, Moderation demands a mix of both, social democracy, limited capitalism, with regulations and oversight that mean something, and a safety net for the unlucky, but a way to keep out the lazy and stop it from turing into the ridiculous European system. “You don’t want to work? OK! have some welfare, on us” with almost no oversight fo the safety net. Should anybody find a way to this, write your congressman/lobbyist.

    • Dianne permalink
      November 28, 2010 12:42 pm

      Wow, I agree with you completely. I love the “idea” of capitalism but, as we have seen, the application of it has not worked out ideally. If all people were following the Golden Rule of Human Goodwill, then capitalism would work. But greed has made it a monster that needs to be killed. Socialism also requires Human Goodwill to work. I believe modified capitalism or controlled capitalism may be the way for us to go. And some “socialism” or what appears to be, will be necessary (such as health care, retirement, disability, etc) but can remain limited. We want to learn from other countries and not make their mistakes. And also take what they have done that works.

  4. November 29, 2010 5:16 pm

    to those critical of what we have – quit confusing it with capitalism. We have an increasingly corporatist system. Everyone should note that in the recent health care debacle, The health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and to a lessor extent the medical industry were generally supportive – so long as reform was crafted to suit them. Progressives in particular should note that whenever the government legislates – even to serve some great public purpose, that the rules are crafted primarily by large corporations that will be subject to them, that market dominating corporations rarely object to even the most heinous rules – so long as those burdens apply to potential competitors. As we are seeing with financial reform, the cost of government regulation is passed on to the consumer in one way or another, and for a dominant corporation regulatory burden has another name – barriers to entry. There is nothing that most market cominating businesses would prefer more than the become public utilities, the free market is volatile and even the largest businesses do not typically survive that long, life as a public utility is easy, meet minimal regulatory standards and have permanent protection from competition.
    Those complaining about the disparity between the top and the bottom need to grasp that wealth is not money, and that income is neither. The top 1% of wage earners are far from the richest people in this country – these are the people aspiring to riches not those already rich. Money is not wealth, Wealth is goods and sevices, it is what we want – whatever that is. After you have purchased your GulfStream and half a dozen mansions you have pretty much hit the top of the wealth curve. No matter how much richer you might get, significant changes in consumption are not possible. In reality, the accumulation of real wealth tapers off fairly rapidly beyond that it is all money and unless you burry it in the back yard the vast majority of the money of the rich is engaged in investment that produces jobs and wealth for the rest of us. All this is basic Adam Smith, it has been known for 300 years (outside of government atleast). Bill Gates has millions of times more money than I do, but it is unlikely that he has 100 times the wealth I do. How many Cell Phones, cars, homes, sumptuous meals, can you actually consume ?
    For those advocating some form of socilism lite I would point out that europe is slowly moving away from socialism towards free markets. Full equality can only be acheived in abject poverty, free and fair are mutually exclusive. Conditions for the bottom tier are best where freedom is greatest. Look arround you are everything that you have – of that what has government given you ? What part of the government safety net has not left those ensnared in it worse off than they started ? Capitolism is about three centuries old – three centuries during which life expectancies have doubled, and human progress on virtually every level has dwarfed that of the rest of recorded history many times over. Government is atleast 6 thousand years old, democracy atleast three.
    At its very best the proposition that marketting shapes culture is a chicken-egg argument. Whether it is super atheletes, Rap Stars, or McDonald’s, and whether it is conscious or not celebrity, success and notoriety are acheived by giving us what we desire. I would prefer more poets and good plumbers, but I am a niche market. The values that sell best are those that appeal to the largest majority. Advertisers may seek to tap into needs we did not realize we had, but they do not succeed unless we respond.

  5. November 29, 2010 5:31 pm

    I am self-employed. The past years has been abysmal. My personal income is probably below the poverty line. I have only had about a months work all year. I have paid myriads of taxes my entire life, yet I am prohibited by law from the benefits of most of the so called safety net. I can not collect two weeks of unemployment much less ninety-nine.
    But I am doing fine. I am free. I am happy. I live and work as I choose. My aspiration is sufficient success to be able to hire others. I will have accomplished something that no one in government can honestly claim – I will have created a job. While the person I hire might well have taken a job elsewhere, it is still indisputable that my efforts have created one more job than existed before. In doing so I will likely make myself richer (and wealthier) but I will also have done more to improve the world than if I gave 10% of my income to charity. Even if I prove god forbid to be an abusive, obnoxious and nasty boss, I will still have done something good that is beyond my representative, senator or president.

  6. George permalink
    May 24, 2011 9:31 pm

    The New Deal initiated by President Roosevelt in the 1930’s in the United States followed yet another ‘unfettered Capitalism is wonderful… just get out of the way and let us be free!” lead the US and the world into a miserable Depression. The truth is that the New Deal “regulated” Capitalism, and sought to limit Corporatism through tough regulation and tax policy.

    “Pure” Capitalism is a wondrous wealth builder … for the Capitalists and corporate hired hands. But it does precious little for the majority of workers. In addition, as we have seen, too much wealth in a limited segment of society produces a form of “entitlement” significantly more dangerous to Democracy than “handing out money” to the lower classes!

    The Plutocracy in America hate regulation because than know that the New Deal was a successful regulation program of wealth, greed, and monetary excess. The very rich in American have lied to the American people for more than 30 years, and created a propaganda machine slicker than the old Soviet system, or even Goebbels Nazi scheme in the 1930’s.

    The very rich must be taxed at a high rate to inhibit the “buying” of politicians; to redirect that wealth into necessary public projects (that also employ thousands), and to limit the wealthy from profiting from the US war machine around the world.

    Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, and G.W. Bush rang up an astounding 12 trillion in debts in a combined total of 20 years in the White House. The Republicans sure are experts in debt … not reducing the debt, but in blaming others and using the issue as an excuse to dismantle the social safety net system initiated, mostly, by President Roosevelt.

    Only two presidents of the last 5 have reduced the US debt at all … Presidents Carter and Clinton. Not a lot, mind you, but reductions. Hmmm…..

    • dhlii permalink
      May 25, 2011 2:06 am

      There are many theories on the causes of the great depression. Though our public schools still teach the unfettered capitalism meme, no one else does. Nor does any credible school of though accept that FDR had anything to do with ending it.
      Confusing Capitolism with corporatism is the same mistake that Michael Moore makes.
      If you wish to rail against corporatism – they mutually parasitic relationship between business and politicians – I am with you. But corporatism is an artifact of broad government powers not capitalism.
      If you think Capitalism is so bad for workers look around you ! Adam Smith grasped that the benefits of the free market would be primarily to those at the bottom – because Wealth and Money are not the same. Wealth is what we produce, it is also what we consume. Money is the vehicle to transform the Wealth we produce into the Wealth we consume nothing more.
      Most of the poor in this country today live better than all but the richest throughout the world. In many ways they live better than even the middle class in Europe. they have larger homes and apartments, more Flat Screen TV’s more dishwashers, more microwaves, more Cell Phones, more computers, …… They live better than the US middle class as little as 30 years ago, and the poor of 30 years ago live better than the middle class 30 years before and so on back all the way to the time of Adam Smith. But for most of human existence, and for every other political and economic system that has not been true.
      The greatest accumulation of Wealth in a capitalist system is and must be at the bottom. The Rich accumulate money because they have essentially become sated with the consumption of Wealth. More than two hundred years ago Smith noted that there are just some many opulent homes, gourmet dinners, and fancy carriages that the rich can make use of. After which further accumulation is mostly in money. Today there are even more toys available to the rich, but the rich still consume a far smaller proportion of their income, and the rest is money not wealth.
      The New Deal not only did not end the Great Depression, but FDR’s policies caused another Recession in the middle of the Depression.
      There is only one effective means to prevent someone or some organisation from “buying” politicians – and that is restrain government sufficiently that it is not worth their while.
      Confiscatory taxation will not work – if for no other reason than because the rich will buy enough political power to ensure that it does not.
      The great harm of the “entitlement” system – whether it is corporate entitlements or to the less fortunate is the damage it does to the recipients. The immigrant working illegally for less than minimum wages has more pride and opportunity than the one on the dole. His lot can and likely will get better. Whatever he has, it came from his own efforts, and his children will do better than he will. There are myriads of people today who will tell that their families were working class poor when they were kids. But they did not feel poor. They had to leave home, go to college or elsewhere, achieve more than their parents to realise that they came from poor families. That is far less true of those on the dole. Government aide is a trap, not only of one generation but of their children. With very few exceptions the poor 30 years ago are not poor today – and today’s poor will not be poor in 30 years. The exception are those who live off the largess of the government.
      The national debt was slightly over $10T at the end of the Bush administration – far too large, but still not $12T. Regardless, do not presume I am defending Pres. Bush or Republicans. Nor am I attacking Carter or Clinton. Carter was responsible for far more successful deregulation than Reagan was. Carter (and Ford, and even Nixon) inherited an economic mess caused by the failure of Keynesian economic policies. The “Carter” recession, was deliberately caused by Fed Chairman Volker in order to bring inflation under control. Just as FDR followed essentially Hoovers policies (and Obama is essentially doubling down on Bush’s mistakes), Reagan continued and reaped the eventual benefits of Carter’s fiscal policies.
      Corporatism and debt are games played by both parties – though I would corporate donations to Democrats are far larger than republicans. Despite the ranting of the left, Citizen’s United benefited Democrats more than Republicans.
      The national debt will be almost $16T at the end of 2011, and atleast $17.5T at the end of 2012. In 4 years we will almost doubled the debt.

      We are in the death throes of progressivism. Not because of the propaganda of the rich or the machinations of congressional Republicans – but because it does not work.
      It matters little to me which part wins the next election. The current system is unsustainable. Tax increases no matter who they are applied to can not fix it – this country has never achieved sustain federal revenue above 20% of GDP – but hey tax the crap out of the rich – it has been tried before. The GOP can’t even manage to get $65B in cuts – not really cuts but reductions in the increase, when the federal budget has increased by $1T since 2008. The left and right are playing chicken right now over the national debt – but no matter who wins the fiscal restraint being discussed is barely more than rounding error on the problem.

  7. valdobiade permalink
    May 25, 2011 2:02 pm

    “A republican stands up in congress and says ‘I GOT A REALLY BAD IDEA!!’ and the democrat stands up after him and says ‘AND I CAN MAKE IT SHITTIER!!”
    — Lewis Black

    “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our two-party system is a bowl of shit looking at itself in the mirror.”
    — Lewis Black

    I know even from my Communist life back in Romania that there is NO economy without politics. We even had school books called “Economie-Politica” (Political-Economics).

    It is stupid to even think that somebody can separate political power from money power. Whoever has money power want to get also political power (see the candidates for US Presidency and California Governors), and whoever has political power wants also money power (See Fidel Castro and Communist leaders in general)

    We cannot separate Religion from State Politics. Why? Because nowadays religious leaders have money but no political power. However, religious leaders wants Vatican back all over the world… get in line! Protestants religious fundies are in front of you Catholics!

    • valdobiade permalink
      May 25, 2011 2:24 pm

      Oh… and not to forget the best of Capitalism from Lewis Black:

      All I heard through the course of the campaign was that everything was going to be all right because capitalism is the most wonderful economic system ever developed, because it was developed by god himself for us.
      There’s nothing more splendid than capitalism. It is a beautiful garden, a garden that irrigates itself and fertilized itself, and it needs no sunlight, because it basks in the glory of its own reflection. There’s nothing more wondrous than the garden that is capitalism.
      And if it is left entirely unregulated, that garden will grow and grow and grow until all of us share in its beautiful fruit.
      And so I went to bed every night dreaming about my beautiful fruit.

      And then I woke up one morning, and there was the secretary of the treasury standing behind the white house, at the back door, as if he was trying to get away.
      “Holy f**k!
      We’re f**ed!” he said.
      “We’re completely f***ed!
      Son of a b*tch!
      I don’t know what happened to the garden, but it’s a piece of sh*t now.
      Watch that hand coming up your a$s; it’s looking for quarters.
      Put straws in your nose.
      The river of shit is rising.
      Start pulling out your gold fillings and put ‘em on ebay.
      I’m getting the f*ck out of it”
      …then he ran around the white house three times with his hair on fire….

  8. dhlii permalink
    May 25, 2011 2:21 pm

    I find it almost unbelievable that this is coming from the World Bank.
    The results speak for themselves – if you actually care about the least well off, they will benefit far more from freedom than from handouts, in fact the later often leaves them worse off. I have repeated this refrain over and over on this and other blogs – getting myself labeled as some corporate shill or lunatic in the process. But whether progressives – or moderates accept it or not, the benefits of liberty are greatest for the least. This has been well known since atleast the time of Adam Smith. While command economics and entitlement systems harm everyone – particularly those they are intended to benefit.
    This was true two centuries ago, and it is true today. The argument that individual liberty does not work in the modern world is and has always been a fallacy. Freedom has many flaws. Many of the arguments against more individual freedom, and less government are true – atleast in the sense that net positive is not the same as only positive. But despite every possible valid argument against liberty, the benefits in comparison to any other system, outweight the losses, and they are greatest for those with the least.

    —–

    The World Bank’s Jean-Pierre Chauffour has a nifty new working paper “On the Relevance of Freedom and Entitlement in Development”.

    Reviewing the economic performance—good and bad— of more than 100 countries over the past 30 years, this paper finds new empirical evidence supporting the idea that economic freedom and civil and political liberties are the root causes of why some countries achieve and sustain better economic outcomes. For instance, a one unit change in the initial level of economic freedom between two countries (on a scale of 1 to 10) is associated with an almost 1 percentage point differential in their average long-run economic growth rates. In the case of civil and political liberties, the long-term effect is also positive and significant with a differential of 0.3 percentage point. In addition to the initial conditions, the expansion of freedom conditions over time (economic, civil, and political) also positively influences long-run economic growth. In contrast, no evidence was found that the initial level of entitlement rights or their change over time had any significant effects on long-term per capita income, except for a negative effect in some specifications of the model. These results tend to support earlier findings that beyond core functions of government responsibility—including the protection of liberty itself—the expansion of the state to provide for various entitlements, including so-called economic, social, and cultural rights, may not make people richer in the long run and may even make them poorer.

    http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/IW3P/IB/2011/05/16/000158349_20110516090121/Rendered/PDF/WPS5660.pdf

    • valdobiade permalink
      May 25, 2011 2:34 pm

      I wonder from where these guys are getting money to write something like that…

      • February 29, 2012 5:51 pm

        IF you do not like the results gather the data yourself and try to see if you can arrive at a different outcome,
        Regardless, the world bank is essentially an internationally run charity with the purpose of reducing poverty in developing nations.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Bank

        It is a left leaning rather than right leaning organisation. It is not a bank in the traditional sense that it is supposed to invest at a profit.

  9. Ami permalink
    November 7, 2011 11:52 am

    Occupy Wall Street may resolve the whole issue for us. If you rathole your money at home instead of putting it in the bank, that would be less for them to use. I would rather have little money than a ton of it earning tons of interest somewhere, feeding into banks/corporations and their ability to exploit whoever. Now they look like even bigger scumbags….since I had the common sense to join a credit union three months ago.

    • February 29, 2012 5:56 pm

      In the free market you are free to do as you please with your own money. Banks, etc. try to persuade you to leave it with with the expectation that they will cause it to increase over time. But you may place it under a rock, in a hole, or burn it on your barbecue if you please.

      Your credit union is just another free choice available to you. Presumably you expect that the credit union will use your money in a way to make it grow. Banks, stocks, credit unions, bonds, gold – these and more are all the choices the free market offers you for investing and protecting your money. You are free to make your own choices.

      • Surprise permalink
        April 6, 2012 7:19 am

        Asmith, you do realize that “free” markets are actually “government-enforced markets of exchange?” Right? No market exists today without a government initiating and supporting a common currency; supporting private property through criminalization of theft; regulating economic contracts within the judicial system; and providing a military to enforce international trade agreements. There is no “magical hand” independent of the government that rules the market. There are NO free markets.

        “In the free market you are free to do as you please with your own money.” Yes, that may be true (not the free market part, though), but if you’re a worker or employee with little economic or political bargaining power, what you earn is not going to amount to much. In laissez-faire capitalist economies (again, NOT free market), large institutional actors arise and start to try to control the “government-enforced” part of the “government-enforced markets of exchange.” By bribing government officials with campaign funding, they can ensure they have a hand in upcoming legislation and votes on the floor. This permits them to be awarded government contracts, to introduce regulation that hurts the competition, to start-up or fortify market monopolies, and to minimize the bargaining power of employees and workers. Ultimately, it allows them to stifle competition and innovation (think of all the innovation in the telecommunications industry after the break-up of AT& T, a huge monopolist player if there ever was one).

        If a country has a strong anti-bribery ethic, or firece anti-monopolist laws, or effective campaign finance legislation, then it may be able to prevent large economic actors from becoming so big that they affect the market itself, subtlely turning the market environment into one that benefits the actor.

      • April 6, 2012 12:07 pm

        Markets (and currency) have existed independent of government. You are argument is essentially “markets do not currently exist independent of government and common currency therefore the one must be a requirement of the other”. I could argue by that reasoning that free markets are a requirement for common currency and government.
        When the requirements for free trade are absent AND the markets is sufficiently free to do so – it will bring them about. Whenever government makes the “common currency” unsuitable, alternatives arrise. In the US those suspicious of or with sufficient problems with the governments “common currency” have successfully used all kinds of alternatives – i think containers of Tide Laundry detergent are popular now. At the other extreme the shadow financial markets which are an order of magnitude larger than the public markets and have not required bailouts, have used myriads of alternatives to cash (even in electronic forms) because there just is not enough of it.

        Your claim that workers are not going to earn much in a laissez-faire system is another presumption rather than fact. For most of human history the 99% lived in abject poverty. Absolutely nothing ever has come fractionally close to elevating the standard of living of the vast majority of society as free markets. As government has increasingly regulated free markets the improvement – particularly at the bottom has declined.
        It also ignores the fact that the vast majority of US labor successfully works out compensation unaffected by all the regulation you trumpet. Minimum wages only dictate the minimum productivity one must be able to achieve to get hired – it restricts rather than enhances employment. Most of us do not earn minimum wage, are not covered by collective bargaining agreements, and at best are covered by regulations dictating standards far below our actual demands. The fact that we have jobs demonstrates the fallacy of the weakness of labor.

        In a truly free market first there is little real distinction between “workers” and “owners”. We are all just people looking to take what we have produce what we can and trade that for what we want. Beyond that “labor” is free to use whatever non-violent means it choses to seek a better deal. In a free market competition inexhorably drives prices down – including labor. The norm is deflation – each of us are continuously more productive and therefore have the ability to trade for more of what we want. Whatever happens to the value of currency, our standard of living increases.
        Central to ALL economic systems is the proposition that the value we consume comes from that we produce. A major fallacy of progressivism is the beleif that you can increase consumption (standard of living) without increasing production and efficiency.

        I will be happy to agree with you that business will strive valiantly to bend the power of government to its own wishes. The fact that power attracts corruption is not new. Reduce the power of government. Campaign finance laws have predictably proven an abysmal failure. Like virtually all regulation they do not work in the real world where one size fits all solutions do not work.

        Real monopolies do not exist without government. Please cite a single example of a successful free market monopoly that destroyed competition and raised prices for more than a short time absent government support ? Enron vaporized fairly quickly. But for government intervention most of the largest US Banks as well as GM and Chrysler would be gone. A prior Rick post laments the passing of Kodak. The average life expectancy of a fortune 500 company is 40-50 years. How many giant corporations do you know of that have dominated an industry for decades ? The free market is extremely unfriendly to enterprises that do not remain vital and competitive. Even those companies that have survived for a century have waxed and waned dramatically. The largest Us company Walmart was founded in 1968. Only two companies in the 1995 top 10 are still there. Three of the current top ten – GM, Fannie Mae, and Bank of America, still exist only because of government bailouts.

        Where is the actual evidence of any of your claims ?

        You can not create culture, ethics, or morality with legislation. It does not matter whether you are talking the right or left, the developed world or the undeveloped world, the foundations of society must come from the people.

  10. Richard F. Belloff, DBA permalink
    December 21, 2011 10:07 pm

    “since I had the common sense to join a credit union three months ago.”

    Which of course, are working to earn a “profit!”

    BTW-the banks don’t need your money. They have the Fed!

  11. Paul K permalink
    February 14, 2012 1:00 pm

    “It’s just that within the confines of pure free-market capitalism, the rewards generally go to the most avaricious rather than the best, brightest or most virtuous.”

    Wrong. A venture capitalist who takes advantage of an opportunity is going to hire the best talent he can find and afford to help him build his business and make it profitable. He will hire the best accountants, engineers, or whatever he needs. This benefits them because they will receive a salary which they can then use any way they wish.

    • February 14, 2012 1:59 pm

      The error is worse than that.

      What we here about is the unusual, not the norm.

      My just about every measure we are less violent, and more ciivilised than ever before. crime is down – way down in most every category down to unheard of levels, down not just in the US but across the world.

      Yet turn on the news and what you hear is rape, murder, war killing, violence.
      I am not beating up the news, but most people perceive the world as a far more dangerous place than it was 20, 50 years ago – but the opposite is true.

      The same is true of “capitolism”. We hear every story about every CEO with a criminal heart, anywhere in the world. We watch televisions shows and movies were evil CEO’s are intent on taking over the world, or cheating their employees or …..

      In the real world businessmen are not perfect, but they are on the whole, more honest, more law abiding, with higher integrity than the rest of us. Sustained success in the market is demanding. One of the major demands is integrity. We do not buy what we do not trust.

      Trust is often more important to us that quality – that is the basis of Branding. We know McDonalds does not make the best hamburgers – but we trust them to make the same hamburgers everywhere we go.

      Even the notorious Charles Ponzi whose name is permanently, associates with evil greedy business, actually had a viable arbitrage investment, his actual error was not recognising that in the pre-computer era he could not roll over the investment quickly enough to generate the returns he promised in the short time frame he promised, for the number of investors he had.

      Social Security on the other hand is a real Ponzi scheme – it pays returns to past investors from the principle of new investors. It was designed that way and would be an illegal and fraudulent investment for any business.

      • DeVille permalink
        February 14, 2012 2:18 pm

        Social Security on the other hand is a real Ponzi scheme –
        ====

        Yes! And raising the minimum wage with even one cent is a slap in the face of the free market!

        We are talking pure Communism over free-market here. Why should the government dictate what minimum wage should be? We are such a developed country that even the poor can buy everything from “One Dollar” shopping center. The poor can get on streets beg-panhandling AND still live better than America of Great Depression!

      • April 6, 2012 12:10 pm

        Raising the minimum wage is not a slap in the face of the market. Whatever regulation government imposes the market will adapt.

        The losers from the actions of government – whether marketplace regulation, or social safety nets are the intended beneficiaries. Minimum wage laws would be better called forced unemployment for unskilled minority youth. Government Job Training has historically made its participants LESS able to get a job.

  12. Kemari Isaboke permalink
    February 29, 2012 6:03 am

    I strongly agree that in all fairness and justice we cannot continue to live like puppies before a bowl of milk that the fittest takes all.We need to rethink our economic systems and re engineer them in the face of a 10 billion size world population.I strongly support a reformed form of capitalism in the 21st C.Capitalism is the cause of current world pollution per se.

    • February 29, 2012 5:46 pm

      We have been rethinking for more than two centuries. We have tried the alternatives – and they have failed.

      When I was born the world population was below 3B – it is not projected to reach 10B by 2050 – if ever as population growth is declining rapidly. Life expectancy has risen from 46years to 70 years. The price of the worlds food staples – wheat, rice maize have declined by 60%. Average calories per person has increased from 2360kcal/person/day to 2800 today. In 1960 57% of the world’s population consumed less than 2200kcal/day, today that is less than 10%.

      Capitolism has served the Puppies quite well.

  13. Andy Tonti permalink
    April 11, 2012 1:44 pm

    A distressful lack of creative, consensual brainstorming from both the righties and the lefties.
    Modern political discourse has broken down to narrowed and costly pursuits to winning the election. The emergence of a credible and recognized third party of political ideaism is perceived as a grave threat to the current 2-party system because it would provide the
    electorate with relevant and genuine national issues to consider and debate on. And politics for the privileged works hard to prevent this from occurring.

    • Andy Tonti permalink
      April 11, 2012 1:54 pm

      Capitalism must be re-worked with a social agenda that accomodates more equitable income distribution, mainly through re-structuring of the tax code, mandatory formal education and
      job skills development programs for those disinterested with further university education.

      Need to go now. Will try to elaborate more on this later.

      • April 11, 2012 9:24 pm

        It is not about capitalism vs. a social agenda it is about freedom vs. equality. If you want equality you must sacrifice freedom – again fairly well understood for more than 100 years.

        I would also note that income inequality is an artifact of improving standards of living – most of the purported shifts in income inequality over the past 30 years have vaporized in the midst of the great recession.

        Further greater income inequality results in the wealthy paying a larger share of the cost of government.

        I have discussed all of this before. If you search for past posts, you can find lots of research papers, and government reports and studies that confirm all this.

        Subsidies, whether for oil and soy beans or for job training and higher education do not work. This is very well documented.
        The cost of higher education has increased exactly matching the increase in subsidies – with a corresponding decrease in quality. The same is essentially true of public education – as its cost has increased its quality has decreased. Most of us grasp that corporate subsidies do nothing good for costs – US sugar costs are about double that of the rest of the world.

        The laws of supply and demand are laws of human behavior. They can not be altered by legislative fiat.

    • April 11, 2012 9:13 pm

      the basic principles of economics have been well understood for more than a century. Political brainstorming is practically an oxymoron.

      One of the problems with modern political discourse (though it really was no better in the past), is that we have a building body of evidence that government is abysmally bad at everything economic – there are actually fundamental structural reasons this is so. Which is why republican big government has failed just as democratic big government has.

      A third party will emerge when a sufficient number of us are dissatisfied – even politics is a market, and the ideology of the parties is a product.

      I will be happy to terminate all government priviledges – regardless of the class they are targeted at. Welfare is bad for us all – whether corporate or social.

    • April 12, 2012 5:37 pm

      Hey old friend… good to see you here! You’ve touched on an idea close to my heart: “moderates” like us seem to be the only ones radical enough to see that the system needs major rebuilding. Today’s Democrats and Republicans simply have too much self-interest to defend.

      It’s really not an impossible dream: we need to get money out of politics (neither party will cooperate on that point) and reform capitalism so that it’s no longer the winner-take-all game that it is today. That means higher tax rates on the rich (back to pre-Reagan levels but not as extreme as in the Eisenhower era), tighter regulations on Wall Street, and participation on corporate boards by rank-and-file employees. Not really so radical, but neither party will go there… because both parties today (even the Democrats) are run by and for the elites.

  14. valdobiade permalink
    April 12, 2012 1:28 pm

    Any country that has a system, be it socialist, communist or capitalist, has to have a social purpose.
    It is against of what is human, to think that in the moment a person or group, due to the “freedom” got wealthy, they don’t have to take care of the society where he/she/they live.
    If equality means less freedom for human egotism, then let it be.
    I am not for a “perfect” equality, but at least remove the inequality given by the “freedom” of ignoring the society after one gets wealthy .
    In the end, if it is not the government to have some authority over a society, then automatically the rich are the one to control as *they* like not as all people like.

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 23, 2012 8:11 pm

      I’m not trying to be funny or facetious here, but did National Socialism have a social purpose. It was undoubtably an absolute dictatorship, but what was it’ s social agenda. Don’t know if this is a legit question since it used a higly effective social propaganda machine to to create an illusory sense of reality with German society.

      • valdobiade permalink
        April 24, 2012 5:09 pm

        Don’t be scared about what “social” or “society” means. I know that the wealthy tends to avoid the “social vulgar masses” and “socialize” only amongst themselves… but that 1% is not really caring about the society they live in.
        Maybe you are scared about “Social Security” too? It is for the masses, did you know that?

  15. April 12, 2012 5:47 pm

    Well said, Valdo. Any society without an active government is going to be dominated by a small clique of achievers who arrange the system to perpetuate their own interests at the expense of everyone else’s. The more I read about our nation’s elite, the more I believe that they’ve deliberately rigged the system. They’ve been able to get away with this because our government has been their enablers for the past few decades. So now we’re looking at a disappearing middle class… and before you know it, we’ll be another Mexico.

    • April 12, 2012 11:22 pm

      Just the opposite. What is the system being arranged ? Government, So the way to acheive less control of government by special interests is to give special interests a more powerful and activist government to manipulate.

      We are not equal. Inevitably we will not acheive exactly the same things. Further there are elements of randomness intrinsic to the universe. Merit alone will not dictate success or failure. But the results will essentially be a pyramid pretty much no matter what.

      What we know – from history, both in the past century and the past 150 millenia, is that every system besides freedom, results in an extremely broad flat pyramid. The largest portion of us in poverty with a miniscule number of elites only better by comparison to those in poverty.

      Absolutely free systems produce the greatest inequality. How does Bill Gates compare to Pharoh ? Even the least in today’s world are likely to live longer and most will have more than kings and princes in much of our history.

      Freedom produces a tall narrow pyramid. With the smallest number in the base and most of us at various levels on the way up.

      If you want equality – fine we all get to live in poverty.

      You use Mexico as an example. Mexico ranks near the top of the bottom third of the world on most measures of freedom. The US ranks in the top 5%.

      Mexico has a shallow flat pyramid – almost everyone at the bottom.
      Mexicans still risk their lives every day to get into the US where they will be below the official bottom. Worse off than our poor – yet for most of them this is an improvement.

      The rigged systems you fear are intrinsic to powerful governments that have no one they must answer too.

      Most of the problems you seek to overcome are the direct result of the solutions you want to impose to combat them.

  16. April 12, 2012 10:27 pm

    Why ?

    This goes back to exactly what i was saying about morality before – Freedom is a Supra value – you can not have morality without freedom.

    How can you assign any moral value to an action that was compelled.
    Morality is when you can make many choices and you choose against your own self interest and for that of others.

    What has a country got to do with any of this ?

    Equality and freedom are not things that one can compromise against each other they are antipodes. All steps towards equality come at the expense of freedom – and therefore at the expense of morality.

    Imposing a duty on someone else because you beleive it is good, is about as anti-moral as you can get. You have made a choice to steal from someone else, and you have deprived them of the ability to make a moral choice on their own.

    The ability of the rich, the elites, all those you are concerned about to control government is directly proportional to the power you give government.

    I will absolutely guarantee you that to the extent you believe government should impose anything beyond the rule of law on others – you will empower the rich, wealth, special interests, worse you will create a new class of elites who achieved their wealth and power by manipulating government.

    Essentially you get precisely the ends you seek to avoid by the means you chose to end them

  17. April 12, 2012 10:58 pm

    I expect that you will challenge any bald assertions that I make. And mostly I have not been disappointed.

    But the converse is true. The laws of the universe, nature, human nature do not change because we wish them to.

    This is one of the great fallacies of liberalism. It underlies much of what is wrong with progressiveness – and with the mushy progressiveness of moderates here.

    Addressing valdobiade – Why ?

    There is only one fundamental purpose to government or society – To secure for each of us the protection from violence that we can not assure on our own.

    We can want and desire other purposes, we can argue for them, but we can not make any other purpose intrinsic.

    If you wish to claim that society must have some further “social purpose” why ?
    Because it sounds good ? Because you or even I might wish it were so ?

    The fact that one or many person see something as desirable does not turn it from a want into a requirement.

    We make this same error constantly with rights. There are no human rights beyond those you are capable of securing on your own in nature. Freedom is a right. Living is not. Healthcare is not.

    Our ability to secure for ourselves those things that are not rights is impaired by pretending they are.

    Our ability to achieve the society you desire is impaired by presuming that what you desire is more than a desire but a requirement.

    • valdobiade permalink
      April 23, 2012 6:24 pm

      asmith wrote: “Freedom is a right. Living is not.”
      =============

      So, the conclusion would be:

      “Freedom to kill everybody is a right.”

  18. Andy Tonti permalink
    April 23, 2012 4:15 pm

    George I like to think of the New Deal as a Fair Deal as well. And what the current day Republicans have to offer is a Raw Deal. Seriously,

    I’ll quote from you a bit here:
    “Pure” Capitalism is a wondrous wealth builder … for the Capitalists and corporate hired hands. But it does precious little for the majority of workers. In addition, as we have seen, too much wealth in a limited segment of society produces a form of “entitlement” significantly more dangerous to Democracy than “handing out money” to the lower classes.”

    That’s why we need some form of regulation and oversight over the “free market” hijinks!
    Regulation and a reformed tax code that makes the rich put in their fair share, to offset the outrageously high tax rates we now fall under. Ultimately we subsidize corporate welfarism
    as well as all the establshed entitlement programs designed to keep families out of crushing debt obligations, i.e. social services programs. That describes the financial “squezzzze” of
    the middle class experience. I understand that consumer spending accounts for 3/4ths of the Gross Domestic Product. But if corporations can sell their wares to the expanding
    Third World markets, they still maintain their profits, and we, due to our rapidly shrinking job market, will become poorer and poorer. I always wondered if that could actually happen here.
    But our household has encountered great difficulty building financial savings, basicallly because our income flow cannot keep up with the mounting cost of living here (high taxes,
    high fees, high food costs), and we gasp as our equity in our home melts away. The recent devaluation of our housing stock will be around for several more years. Factor that into
    your retirement savings plan along with more cost shifting of benefits from your employer onto you, and from employer blackmail by downsizing staff, and expecting the survivors to keep up, no! no!, but to increase productivity. Keep raising the retirement age because that may be the only way to survive.

    • April 23, 2012 5:36 pm

      Tony;

      We have never had real free markets. The best we have done is more free than the preceeding 150,000 years – and the results from that have been unparalleled.

      It took 150,000 years to increase life expectance by a bit more than a decade. In the past 250 years we have more than doubled it – most of that before the New Deal.

      I will not try to argue that the so called Robber Baron era of the 19th century was the epitomy of free markets. It was far from it. But if the New Deal era was so superior why is it that by every possible measure conditions for the poor and working class improved more BEFORE the New Deal than after.

      I am not here to defend Republicans – their commitment to limited government an free markets is schozophrenic, they only trump democrats as theirs is non-existant.

      Further the Republicans are absolutely abysmal at their own PR. Check out the top corporate and individual political donors and who they give to if you want to know what party is in the pockets of the wealthy, big business, ….

      Honest advocates of free markets want limited government, not just no welfare, no corporate welfare and government sufficiently limited that businesses much succeed or fail in the marketplace not by buying government influence.
      Power corrupts, if you want to end government corruption, disempower govenrment.

      You have called out various high costs and inflation. Look where your cost of living has increased – invariably it is in those portions of the marketplace that are most heavily regulated. Even inside of heavily regulated and highly inflated markets such as healthcare, those areas with little or no regulation such as Lasik, and plastic surgery have seen declining costs.

      There is no such thing as cost shifting from employers to employees. Whether the check for your health insurance is cut by your employer or by you personally, it – and all the so called employer payroll taxes come from the funds every business considers as its labor costs – you are paying it one way or the other, you just don’t know it.

      Regardless, so long as any system of healthcare leaves most of us thinking we are getting a free lunch the cost of healthcare will continue to rise. Government has never effectively controlled the cost of anything.

      Finally – one way or another we are moving to freer markets. We can either do so voluntarily and quickly in order to avoid or atleast mitigate the approaching government created fiscal catastrophe, or we an do so from the rubble when the New Deal system implodes.

      • valdobiade permalink
        April 23, 2012 6:21 pm

        asmith in the beginning:
        “We have never had real free markets. ”

        In between:
        “Absolutely free systems produce the greatest inequality. ”

        In the end:
        “Finally – one way or another we are moving to freer markets.”

        =====

        I’d say:
        “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

      • June 16, 2012 12:27 pm

        Valdobiade;

        What does inequality matter if the outcome for everyone is better ?

        if you could chose between a world where everyone had to walk to get around, and one where some people had Maseratis and most had VWs, which would you pick ?

        I deal in the real world, not dreams. The world as a whole is freer than it has ever been, but it is far from free. The people of the world though far more numerous are all better off than they have ever been.

        Freedom inevitably results in material inequality. But it also results in more wealth even for the least. Adam Smith grasped that over 200 years ago. If anything that is even more true now, not less.

  19. Max permalink
    June 16, 2012 8:26 am

    With the defeat of communism the number of deaths in the world can be attributed to capitalism. Thomas Pogge of Yale University quotes a United Nations document, “Roughly one third of all human deaths, some 18 million annually, are due to poverty-related causes, easily preventable through better nutrition, safe drinking water, mosquito nets, re-hydration packs, vaccines and other medicines. This sums up to over 300 million deaths in just the 17 years since the end of the Cold War — many more than were caused by all the wars, civil wars, and government repression of the entire 20th century. Children under five account for nearly 60% or 10.6 million of the annual death toll from poverty-related causes (UNICEF 2005).The main reason for the grinding poverty of the third world is the two-fold looting of the resources through the terms of trade, and the trillion dollars debt owed by the third world to the big western banks. According to the United Nations: “It is estimated that the additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all and safe water and sanitation for all is roughly US $40 billion a year . . . This is less than 4% of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people.” (UN Human Development Report, 1997.) Yet under capitalism even this relatively minor redistribution of wealth will never happen. http://szrzlj3.blogspot.nl/2012/05/true-communism-has-never-existed.html

    • June 16, 2012 12:20 pm

      Check your premises.

      Why does it follow that the defeat of communism requires attributing all these deaths to capitolism ?

      Where is it we actually have capitolism ?

      You make a claim that this poverty and starvation is somehow related capitolist looting.
      Aside from the fact that the claim is so ambiguous as to be nearly meaningless.
      I honestly have no idea what you actually mean, and I doubt that you do either.
      Regardless, There have been myriads of studies specifically related to food. There are no market or technical hurdles to feeding the world. Nearly all starvation in the world today is political, not economic.

      So how is it that you can blame a system that does not even exist in most of the places where people are starving for deaths that are primarily attributable to struggles for political power.

      Further the rates of starvation and nutrition have improved more in the past 50 years than in the entire history of the planet – and they have improved for the least well off.
      World poverty is abysmal. By world standards the US poor are the 1%.
      But by every measure you use above and then some the worlds poor are dramatically better off today than they were 50 years ago. And the improvement is the greatest in those countries that have increased their peoples individual freedom the most.

      Far from the cause of all the worlds problems, Individual liberty – whose economic component is free market capitolism is the only solution to those problems that has ever worked.

      The next major cause of unnatural death in the world is ethnic and religious conflict.
      Real freedom quells rather than magnifies those. It is when governments and political groups prevent us from associating with the “others”, from trading with them, from living in their neighborhoods, from emigrating and immigrating, that we can eventually be persuaded to kill them.

      Finally, everyone dies eventually. Most of us get sick before we die.
      Of the 7Billion people on this planet – not a one is going to avoid death, and most will get sick first. Worldwide life expectance in the 1960’s was about 40 years. For much of the world less, it is over 60 today.

      You say 300m people have died from “capitolism” since the end of the cold war.
      I say capitolism has approximately 3 billion additional lifetimes that would never have happened otherwise, – approximately 90billion additional human years of life.

      As to the UN’s claim, Bill Gates gave the WHO $1B to defeat malaria in Africa.
      After several years of following the WHOs recomendations, there was more malaria in africa than before. The WHO essentiall blew $1B learning that they were full of crap – well they did not actually learn and are still seeking more money.

      If giving the WHO $1B only seeks to make a problem worse. I would hate to see what giving the UN $40B.

      The current UN budget is about $6B/year. If they really beleive all these problems can be solved for $40B, then they should get to work doing so. It might take a bit longer than confiscating money from people who actually make the world better for all of us,
      but it is entirely inside of their financial abilities.

      The 2012 budget of the US dept of education – which is a tiny fraction of US education spending is $68B. Do you really beleive the UN is going to cure all the ills of the world for $40B ?

      As to your link – absolutely correct True communism has never existed.
      Nor has true capitolism. But in comparing what has existed.
      Any attempts to bring about a socialist utopia have failed. They inevitably devolve into totalitarian tyranny. This is not an accident. It is a consequence of the fact that the concentration of power necessary to achieve the central planned socialist utopia will always lead to corruption and tyranny. “Capitolism” suffers to a lessor extent from similar problems. To the extent that government – of any political or ideological bet gains power, that power will get corrupted. The effects of capitolism have been weeker because governments in capitolist countries tend to be smaller, and because economic power is mostly not centrally planned and mostly outside government hands.

      But I will happily agree that if you give government sufficient power – any flavor of government at all, capitolist, communist, …. it will inevitably lead to tyranny and corruption or collapse or most likely both.

      You echo “redistribution of wealth” is if it is somehow an obvious good thing.
      But if it was your wealth that was being “redistributed” it would be called theft.

      Taking something from someone else by force is called theft.

      Lets not stop with 4% of the top 225. Lets confiscate all the wealth of the top 1% and redistribute it evenly. That means YOURS. Now does that sound like a good idea ?
      If you can not personally benefit from what you produce – are you going to keep producing ? If you answered no then you grasp why every system resting on the premise “to each according to their need, from each according to their ability” fails.
      If you ever expect a successful true communist system you are going to have to alter human nature first.

      Next government redistribution efforts have universally been a failure – if they worked we would all speak Russian now. The wealth of the rich is increasingly confiscated until the rich cease to exist. But little of the confiscated wealth ever gets to those it is supposed to help. Worse still, the entire process mi-understands how wealth is actually created, resulting in diminishing wealth for everyone.

      In that theoretical pure communist world you dream about this does not happen.
      But in the real world it happens all the time. Again it really does not matter what the ideology of the “Big Government” is, if it is big its effect will be net negative, the bigger the more negative.

      All the claims I have made above can be backed up by tons of data and myriads of studies, from such conservative sources as WHO, IMF World Bank, The UN, CBO, GAO, NBER, ….. I can not grasp how one can be a liberal today, when so much of the data the left has gathered entirely disproves their own claims.

      Are growing world, with its massive increase in available knowledge and data, will ultimately disprove on its own all the claims of the left.

      If you want the lot of the least well off to improve – there is but one thing you can do, give them their freedom. Everything else does more harm than good.

  20. Andy Tonti permalink
    April 24, 2013 10:35 am

    Don’t now if tweaking this system will work. Its protected by our semi-hidden police state which has shown itself to be considerably repressive of our civil liberties (e.g. Occupy Wall Street, whistleblower intolerance, forced confinement of Julian Assange to the Ecuadorean embassy). What’s most needed is a populist enlightenment of non-privileged America to the onslaught of corporatist/military/global autocracy now being demonstrated here at home and
    throughout the 2nd and 3rd Worlds. Then we need to effect constant, unrelenting pressure on
    our representatives, Obama’s policies, and corporate racketeering, to show our outrage and
    condemnation of our very dysfunctional and predatory socioeconomic and foreign policies.

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