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View Diary: Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Capitalism - Is It Fair and Just? (108 comments)

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  •  Re (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle
    Beliefs in any kind of universal human rights to things like food, shelter, medical care and safety really require getting past restrictions based on some form of arbitrary relationship. Capitalism is a system that is based on competition. That inherently presupposes designations of us and them. Justice which recognizes universal human rights is fundamentally at odds with such a system.
    "Rights" are a difficult thing.

    It's entirely possible to create a right like "free speech" because your free speech costs me nothing at all.

    However, a "right" to food, shelter, and medical care now forces you to provide those things to other people. So, my "right" becomes your "obligation", pretty much the opposite of a right, since you're forced to go to work and some portion of your week is now devoted to working for other people instead of you yourself.

    I think there definitely has to be a balance somewhere. Someone who takes the time and effort and skill to develop an in-demand skill must be compensated adequately for that effort. It's inappropriate (and in my view, a violation of their rights) to say "Hey, congrats! No salary increase, though, you have to take care of all of these other people."

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:25:06 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  this is within the logic of capitalism (7+ / 0-)

      we are trying to think outside that logic which is actually quite easy for some of us, but quite difficult for most people.

      Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

      by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:29:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What logic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        misslegalbeagle

        At the end of the day, there are people who produce a lot, a little, and some people who only consume.

        The only question here is how to divvy up the results of the producers' efforts.

        This question is a matter of math and not a matter of debate or "different logic".

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:33:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  hardly (5+ / 0-)

          first of all, you believe that  some people produce a lot and some people consume a lot.  this is your conclusion based on what evidence?

          i reject the idea that people in a healthy psychological state are selfish.  i reject the idea that people some people are inherently lazy and just want to consume.  

          i think humans are programmed at a genetic level to produce and share.  we evolved over many thousands of years doing just that.  competition as we experience it now is an aberration.

          we get a lot of satisfaction from working together towards a goal.  a lot.

          Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

          by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:38:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            misslegalbeagle
            first of all, you believe that  some people produce a lot and some people consume a lot.  this is your conclusion based on what evidence?
            It's obvious. If you don't take as an element of the world that some people and organizations are economically productive and some are not, or merely consume, there is nothing we can possibly discuss.

            It has nothing to do with laziness either. Some people cannot or do not wish to produce due to health issues, retirement, picked the wrong major in college, etc etc. Some companies don't produce because they survive only by government support. There is no perjorative connotation here, but the math is still the math.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:51:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  it is obvious under the system we have (4+ / 0-)

              in place with a certain definition of economic production.

              innovative creators work a long time without producing anything of value and then some of them suddenly produce something that changes the structure around them for the better.  some of them produce nothing of value at all for a lifetime, but we can't tell beforehand who is who.

              mothers raising healthy and psychologically strong children labor two decades without producing anything of value.

              children use far more resources than they produce for most of twenty years.  under your logic, we should just do away with children, period.

              retired people supposedly produced for decades and decades.

              Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

              by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:57:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BlueDragon
                innovative creators work a long time without producing anything of value and then some of them suddenly produce something that changes the structure around them for the better.  some of them produce nothing of value at all for a lifetime, but we can't tell beforehand who is who.
                And I submit the right way to handle all of this is the market. If people produce useful stuff, they get paid for it. If they don't, they can avail themselves of whatever social welfare we have available.
                mothers raising healthy and psychologically strong children labor two decades without producing anything of value.
                The question is: what of value do those children produce? If the answer is nothing, then nothing of value was gained by society as a whole. If they are economically productive, then the mother's efforts were an investment for future growth.
                children use far more resources than they produce for most of twenty years.  under your logic, we should just do away with children, period.
                Nope, same as the above. Children are expected to be productive in the future: it's an investment.
                retired people supposedly produced for decades and decades.
                They did, and they were compensated for it while they worked. Now, however, they are not productive. The question is what to do about it. In some manner, resources need to be redirected to these people for them to survive as I describe earlier.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:05:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  i submit that economic competition (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NY brit expat, JayRaye, northsylvania

                  is not the way to decide such matters because humans are very bad at recognizing the value of ideas/creations in the beginning, especially now that we have a very complex civilization in which most of us are anonymous.

                  everyone needs to be guaranteed a minimal level of what you call 'social welfare' precisely because it is impossible to know ahead of time which innovators will invent/create the most valuable 'products.'

                  Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                  by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:11:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If you are arguing... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that we need a certain minimal level of social welfare (maybe even not-so-minimal), I completely agree, my "left libertarian" position notwithstanding.

                    However, the argument here as I understand it is that capitalism is a fundamentally flawed system and that we really need to have a system of "from each abilities, to each needs".

                    I do not concur with this idea for a variety of reasons, mainly because it de-incentivizes producers and assumes as a "right" the proceeds of other people's hard work.

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:21:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  i prefer to sidestep that phrase (5+ / 0-)

                      as it is too overdetermined

                      'from each. . .' has received too much mindless criticism to even be the basis for a discussion.

                      this group is not an a priori marxist group.  i think a lot of different options which haven't even yet been described are possible.

                      i accept most of marx in so far as i understand his theories, but i also accept that there can and should be new analytical frameworks which can offer insight.

                      i do not think this group has had enough internal discussion to recognize an ideology beyond 'anti-capitalism' which all the active members probably agree to as a starting point.

                      marx was one genius.  i think we can hope for others too, especially with seven billion people now on the planet.

                      Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                      by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:27:00 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  thank you, as I am not a Marxist and I have not (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        NY brit expat, JayRaye

                        used the "from each...." line.

                        When I ask the question is capitalism fair and just, I'm not asking it as a relativist question. It doesn't matter, for the purpose of this discussion whether any other system is more or less fair and just.

                        I'm trying to get us to look at this thing we worship and ask some fundamental questions about it.

                        If we conclude that, "hey, I'm fine with the premise of everything being based on whether profit is generated" then, fine.

                        But, if we conclude that there is a basic unfairness, injustice or unsustainability of that foundation, then we are best served to consider what about is problematic and try to address those things.

                        Others here have ready answers for how address these problems. I don't. I want to look at the fundamental unfairness  and ask, would we prefer something which is fair and just? If so, let's write that down as the sine qua non of the system we would create. Now, let's start building a system. As every brick in that system is about to be laid in, we must first ask ourselves "does this maintain fairness and justice and sustainability?" If not, we can't lay that brick.

                        •  Most systems so far, (4+ / 0-)

                          from feudal societies to capitalist and communist ones, disadvantage people who are not aggressive. People who want stability, an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, or who work to the best of their abilities for the benefit of all, are considered serfs, takers, and drones by those who wish to exploit them. I think any of these systems start to collapse when the exploited realise how badly they are treated and begin to investigate alternate systems. This process is in its early days on a global scale because developing countries would like to see the rewards that the Western world has accrued, first by exploiting their own workers and resources and then those who are purportedly converting to capitalist ideals: a form of ponzi scheme. I am an anti-capitalist because it is unsustainable, but the search for better models and possible solution is, for me at least, ongoing. I am waiting for one that treats sociopathic behaviour as the disease that it is.

                          "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

                          by northsylvania on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:16:49 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JayRaye

                        Marx wasn't the author of the "from each according to their abilities.." quote.

                        It predates Marx. I don't recall the name of the original source off hand. If anyone wants to know, I have a book I can check as a reference, but this was not from Marx, if what I've read is correct, and I have reason to believe it isn't.

                        "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                        by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 05:16:28 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  **"...have NO reason to believe" nt (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JayRaye

                          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                          by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 05:18:11 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Okay... found the source (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JayRaye

                          It was in the notes to Graeber's book, Debt, The First Five thousand Years.

                          Notes for Chapter 5, Page 404 of the hardback, for anyone interested.

                          Graeber writes that

                          ...the phrase was a "slogan current in the early French worker's movement, first appearing in print in the works of socialist Louis Blanc in 1939. Marx only took up the phrase in his Critique of the Gotha Programme in 1875, and even then used it in a rather idiosyncratic way: for the principle he imagined could apply on the level of society as a whole once technology had reached the point of guaranteeing absolute material abundance."
                          Graeber's usage of the phrase in the text, he writes, is more in line with Kropotkin's usage in his work Mutual Aid, which, I gather, is more within the context of situations in which persons, according to their abilities (which could pertain to various scenarios, and to groups large or small) could give to others what is needed to fulfill requirements. In other words, mutual aid, wherein no one is keeping records of each and every exchange and transaction, but sharing according to what happens to be at hand, according to abilities/needs, in a given circumstance. These capabilities would change according to resources, age, or simply chance, and needs would change for the same reason.

                          Anyway... grappling with this cited difference, but it seems to me there is more than one usage of the phrase.

                          Graeber:

                          "Starting, as I say, from the principle of each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs," allows us to look past the question of individual and private ownership (which is often little more than formal legality anyway) and at much more immediate and practical questions of who has access to what sorts of things and under what conditions. Whenever it is the operating principle, even if it's just two people who are interacting, we can say we're in the presence of a sort of communism."
                          This is a less formal, less specific usage, it seems.

                          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                          by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:08:42 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Confirmed by wikipedia (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JayRaye

                          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                          by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:57:45 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  A very basic thing that you need to understand (7+ / 0-)

                      these people are only redundant in the context of a capitalist economic system where earning money for whatever skills you have is based upon exchange value and not upon the fact that what you do is needed for the society as a whole; people contribute in many ways, it is not only in their jobs as inputs into the production process. An obvious example is childcare in the family, where mothers and grandparents help care for the next generation ... that is a major contribution, but because it has limited exchange value in that someone can make a profit off of it, wages in the field are low, it is only partially subsidised by creches by the state and for the wealthy they can bring in nannies, but generally it falls upon the women in  the family.

                      That is the nature of the system, it is the valuation of the system in terms of profitability that is relevant rather than whether people contribute to social well-being that is important.

                      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                      by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:36:21 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I find it problematic that people have to have (6+ / 0-)

                        what others deem a purpose in order to be considered worthy of thriving.

                        I don't think there has ever been a time in history where the human race was at risk of extinction because there were too many lazy, undeserving people around.

                        Yet, we base our entire worldview of how a society must be structured on a pre-set resentment that people will cheat us out of whatever it is we think we worked so hard to "earn."

                        I'd really like to dig at that and shatter this fear-based core which informs so much of how we treat each other.

                        •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                          I find it problematic that people have to have what others deem a purpose in order to be considered worthy of thriving.
                          That's fine.

                          You don't need a purpose at all. You don't need anything of the kind.

                          However, why should I give you any kind of money or other item of economic value if you don't have a "purpose" and won't produce any corresponding value for me?

                          I don't deem anyone "worthy of thriving" or "not worthy of thriving". I just look at whether they provide value that I consider useful.

                          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                          by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 07:25:49 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  It does not de-incentivize producers (4+ / 0-)

                      In the anarchist organized regions of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, it was found that incentive, innovation, and production increased, compared to years before under capitalism. People expressed that they had a keener desire to go to work, since there weren't lords and bosses telling them what to do at every turn. They were happier in the work environment. Decisions were collectively and democratically made.

                      Under authoritarian systems (such as capitalism), with constant supervision and lack of freedom, and a rather totalitarian dictatorship of the corporation over its employees, people tend to loath work. Surveys in the US reveal that a majority of Americans hate their jobs.

                      As to your reference to appropriation of "other's hard work" as if there is some way to accurately place a value on how much of one person's work is attributed to that single person, Kropotkin argued that is nearly impossible to determine, since the work of one person (who may have special knowledge or training) derives from the accumulation of work of generations before, in which systems of knowledge and training, and thus the schools which follow, were created by countless individuals too numerous and varied to track. And also one must try to calculate the value contributed by society that allows such a person to go to the school, and the funding of the school system itself, and all the help to that single individual over his or her lifetime to bring that person to the skill levels he/she has learned.

                      And the value of work by countless lesser skilled laborers, done to keep society functioning while, say, a doctor went to school, rather than work in a coal mine or rubbish collection, must also be calculated, because people don't live in isolation, in a vacuum. The whol society contributes to that single individual's training.

                      And it certainly isn't fair to have a society based on social Darwinism, in which some people get to go to school for better training because they're simply far richer than a worthy, smart person from a ghetto. As Kropotkin so well phrased it, "The wealth of the wealthy springs from the poverty of the poor." The wealthy exist at the expense of the poor. One comes from the other.

                      This is why such thinkers as Kropotkin theorize that the value of the coal miner's labor is exactly the same as a doctor's, because each allow the other to succeed. In fact, it could be argued that the most unpleasant forms of crucial labor, such as rubbish collection, or cleaning sewers, should be compensated MORE, not less.

                      In summary, there is no accurate method by which to calculate with any realistic certainty how much of a single person's labor, resulting from his or her training, is attributable exactly to that single individual. Your entire concept of remuneration is illusory.

                      By the way, I notice you call yourself a "libertarian leftist". As someone who has an interest in anarchist, and libertarian thought, I must add that there is nothing at all liberating about laissez faire capitalism, where exploitation from hierarchically based corporate structures allow complete domination of the workers' lives. That is not freedom. That is not liberty. The use of the word libertarian, which began in France during the 1800s, described anarcho-socialist concepts of liberty from the authoritarianism of the state, as well as from wage slavery, and hierarchical relationships. Thus, your use of it is considered incorrect and misleading. It is a misnomer, a corruption of the meaning of the term.

                      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                      by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:38:30 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  "The proceeds of other people's hard work" (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JayRaye

                      You mean like the proceeds of the hard work of Mitt
                      Romney? A thief doesn't have the right to the proceeds of his hard work.

                    •  "proceeds of hard work" (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JayRaye

                      You mean like the proceeds of the hard work of Mitt Romney? A thief does not have a right to the proceeds of his hard work.

                  •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                    is not the way to decide such matters because humans are very bad at recognizing the value of ideas/creations in the beginning, especially now that we have a very complex civilization in which most of us are anonymous.
                    So you think that you (or some government agency) are better than other people at determining the value of things than average people walking down the streets?

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:02:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  The market to which you refer (5+ / 0-)

                  could not exist without the wage slavery of workers.

                  But when people are treated as if bags of rice, as mere commodities, in which their labor is purchased in the market in the same manner in which manure is purchased for fertilizing fields, then the "market" is not anything resembling freedom, unless humans being treated as things seems like freedom to you. And of course, by this system, the real value of labor is not compensated, but rather stolen by the producer class.

                  People are not "free" to change jobs anytime they like. Jobs, when thrown to the vicissitudes of the rise and fall of a market economy, create a situation in which people are treated as if they are an expendable element, while the upper echelons of society insulate themselves as much as possible from such market inequities. Wealth tends to generate more wealth, while poverty tends to generate more poverty. It is extremely difficult to rise out of poverty once one ends up in that condition.

                  Thus, the market is only "free" for a small segment of society, and for everyone else, it is servitude and slavery. The market, presented as some sort of great leveler of society, is an illusion.

                  And Donald Trump is not a superior being... LOL.

                  "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

                  by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 03:15:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  First place, you are basing all this on a monetary (9+ / 0-)

              system of exchange.  Who says what artists produce is worth more or less than those who produce luxury clothes or football stadiums? Who determines that the value of basic vegetables is more or less than steaks? then there is the relationship between the producer and consumer under capitalism.  The value of the goods the producer produces requires consumers. Who gets to consume what is not only based on their laziness, inability, greediness, etc. but on how much money they have to purchase goods.

              The government support that we provide to airlines is only necessary because there are competing airlines who refuse to merge into one cooperative airline and we have to pay for th absurdity of flying several half empty planes from several airlines at the same time to the same destination so the companies won't fail in this "free market" system.  

              If this seems absurd, so do the positions you are raising. The real absurdity is that all of this is based on the presumption of a money economy rather than real value or real efficiency to meet people's needs.

              •  It is also a classic example (5+ / 0-)

                of a profound inability to think out of the box.

              •  Other than money... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                misslegalbeagle

                ...and market-based mechanisms, how do you propose to figure out the value of different things? I submit that the value of something is what someone is willing to pay for it. It's a simple and efficient calculation.

                How would you do the calculation?

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:11:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It resources are distributed (6+ / 0-)

                  on the basis of need, there is no need for quantitative valuation.

                  •  "to each according...." can actually happen in (6+ / 0-)

                    an economy that thinks more about communitarianism and common-pool resources in the context of minimizing exploitation rather than trying to create metrics for "fairness" in a system that privileges property rights

                    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ “If someone has a tool and is trying to negate your existence it would be reasonable to reciprocate in kind with your own tool.” - Dalai Lama XIV (sic)

                    by annieli on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:15:15 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    misslegalbeagle

                    How do you determine "need"?

                    And if there is surplus, how do you allocate that?

                    And if there is a deficit such that everyone's needs can't be met, how do you allocate that?

                    The idea that you don't need numerical valuations is nonsense, and it's not a lack of "out of box" thinking to recognize that fact.

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:25:27 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Surpluses and decicits (6+ / 0-)

                      are artificial economic constructs. Need can be determined by a community setting standards through a democratic process.

                      You compulsive need to label anything that doesn't fit with your personal prejudices as nonsense is classic rigidity.  

                      •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

                        They're 'artificial' economic constructs until your trading partners refuse to trade with you because you haven't paid your bills.

                        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                        by Sparhawk on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 05:33:17 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  an adequate supply of food (8+ / 0-)

                      shelter, education and medicine is pretty easy to define.

                      if we have a true deficit in any category, we can decide what to do in context at that point.

                      i am not convinced we have a true deficit.  we certainly have a distribution problem.

                      charles eisenstein points out that we might have up to an 80% excess production capacity on this planet at this moment for goods.

                      this is not the accepted message.  scarcity is the accepted message, but if we have so much scarcity, why do we produce so much garbage in the form of products which are meant to break or wear out almost immediately?  that fact alone suggests that we have excess capacity.  hoarding as a psychological disease suggests we have excess capacity.

                      i think the scarcity we are likely to experience in the future has to do with the destruction of global resources via over consumption and overproduction of garbage products in everything from cars to appliances to clothing.

                      Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                      by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:34:12 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  need is a very easy thing to determine (6+ / 0-)

                      it is what is needed for human beings to not only survive but to enjoy life, it is not only subsistence and reproduction but more. We have no difficulty producing food, the problem is that the system is such that much of it is wasted, what is produced is not wanted or needed and it is not distributed to all those that need it.

                      Deficits in this day and age are a thing of the past, we can easily meet people's needs outside the context of a system based upon profitability which not only skews what is produced, but who gets it and how much of it they get. You need to think outside the box a bit more.

                      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                      by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:39:33 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  the idea of deficits is a holdover (4+ / 0-)

                        from earlier emergency times and we seem to be obsessed with memories/experiences of deficits.

                        i agree, we can easily see that we no longer have deficits if we stop wasting.  indeed, the pressure to waste is an indication that we have surpluses.

                        the pressure to stimulate the global economy by destroying whole systems through war so that we can rebuild them is strong evidence that we are living in an age of surplus but we do not recognize this simple fact.

                        can everyone have granite counter tops and/or should they?  nope.  they are a ridiculous waste of resources and not all that beautiful or practical as counter tops.

                        we are wasting everything around us in an orgy of hatred for the truly beautiful.  

                        real beauty around us will satisfy us far, far more and the carrying cost for the planet will be tremendously reduced.

                        one good set of furniture for a lifetime which can be passed on to other generations will satisfy us much more than millions of garbage sofas.

                        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:46:30 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I agree completely! (5+ / 0-)

                          actually on everything, still have my parents' bedroom set from 1940 and it is in beautiful shape; we are destroying everything to keep a system whose sole purpose is making profits in control because we are afraid to move beyond the imaginable. So, even when we know that the system is destroying everything that is important, we are afraid to think of other things as we have been conditioned to think w/in very small boxes. Breaking people's belief and fear is one of the hardest things we on the left have to contend with.

                          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                          by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:06:24 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  right now I need a projection tv (0+ / 0-)

                      and I think it would be appropriate if someone else gave it to me.   I've been telling my girl friend how great it would be if I set one up to watch movies.  Who can argue with that?  

                      Someone better buy it for me... like, right now.

                      To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition.” ― Woody Allen

                      by soros on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 09:37:59 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  why do we have to "value" things? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NY brit expat, BlueDragon, JayRaye
                •  I would pay for libraries. (4+ / 0-)

                  I would not pay for wars. Obviously the value of wars is more important to my government and yours, but that is the problem with mixing "what makes a profit" with "what benefits society as a whole". Capitalism in a complex Western country with a hierarchical government is just as bastardised as Marx was in Stalinist Russia.

                  "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

                  by northsylvania on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 02:22:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  who is a producer is not simple (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayRaye

            The guy who inherited a factory may take credit for producing what the people working for him produced even though he expended no effort.

            Frankly its the money people who take all increases in productivity as of late.

            fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

            by mollyd on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 01:52:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Its within the logic of any economy ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes

        ... granting everyone a right to a level of basic goods and services imposes upon society the obligation to provide at least that level of basic goods and services, and that means that SOMEBODY has got to do it.

        One thing that is inimical to capitalism is priority of needs. Under any capitalist (money controlling access to durable productive resources to produce goods to earn more money) system, the relative urgency of homelessness and yachtlessness is determined by how lucrative it is to meet each need.

        Under any sane priority of needs, homelessness is a more urgent problem than yachtlessness.

        Indeed, that is a fundamental flaw in unfettered capitalism as an economic system ~ more fundamental than fairness or justice. A money-goods-money circuit has no intrinsic incentive to pursue what is required to maintain the survival of the system within which it finds itself. And even a fair and just system that cannot see to its own viability is only fair and just to the point that it collapses through failure to take care for its own viability.

        In addition of course to institutions support for more effective individual action, the needs of system viability imply constraint on individual action. It is in the required constraint that the real and perceived fairness and justice of the system is important, since maintaining that constraint over the long term requires maintaining the legitimacy of the system, and if a system perceived as fair and just, those are ground for increased legitimacy.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:18:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  there are rights that imply no obligation (7+ / 0-)

      from the person, those are called human rights and that is what we are discussing. Those are rights that exist because you are a human being.  I have always taken Marx's maxim seriously "From each, according to their abilities; To each, according to their needs." We cannot ask more from people than they are able to give and they are entitled as human beings to food, water, shelter, etc. If the system creates permanent employment, these people are still entitled to these things. If they are not receiving them, the system is unfair in my book. As a society, we are more than the sum of our parts, as human beings we are more than inputs into a production process and consumers of goods and services which is how the capitalist system treats us. One of the reasons that Marx argued that socialism should take place in an advanced capitalist economy was that we have ample abilities to produce things and high levels of ability mean that we can be more than inputs, we do not need to have everyone working 40+ hours a week to produce needs and wants; people can study, they can learn, they can create art and handicrafts, they can fish, they can do any number of things if their income was not dependent upon showing up for work. With the creation of the social welfare state, we are not letting people starve to death anymore or putting them in workhouses, but those people are living in poverty. With the erosion of the social welfare state, people that are redundant to the capitalist system are living on pennies while there are billionaires ... why should some starve or live so poorly while there are others sitting upon massive amounts of unearned wealth? That is the moral question that links to a system that is inherently unfair and we need to discuss can it ever be fair as it is based upon wealth inequality or should we produce a fairer system.

      Now, let's discuss positive rights versus negative rights which is how the SCOTUS has interpreted rights and you will see that even the right to vote, reproductive rights, the right of freedom of speech mean that the state needs to provide access to these rights if rights are to be more than on paper and have meaning; if you have the right to vote then that must be facilitated rather than inhibited that costs money. It is far more complicated than you think especially when the notion of civil (constitutional) rights being used refuses to address inherent inequalities

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:40:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i agree we all have these rights (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, allie123, JayRaye

        to breathe, to eat, to have shelter and medicine, but honestly think that framing this in terms of rights gets us caught in a moral argument that i don't want to have.

        i want to have a survival of the species argument.

        Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

        by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:44:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that will be a good discussion (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlueDragon, JayRaye, northsylvania

          we can have it tonight or you can write a piece from that perspective. I am fine either way ... I think it is up to people here and what they want to discuss! :)

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:47:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  because that is what truly faces us (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NY brit expat, JayRaye, northsylvania

          a survival emergency, not that the survival of the poorest is not an emergency.  it is just that when we frame this question in terms of how all of us can survive, it has more power in my opinion.  and it is capitalism which has put us in the position of threatening the survival of all of humanity and most of the life on the planet.  

          for me this is the most potent discussion to have right now.

          only when we have passed this emergency do we have the luxury of discussing the rights of everyone.

          this makes the argument a practical one.  how best to structure human civilization so that we all do well so that we maximize survival for all?

          i used to think that 7 billion people was an impossible crisis, but i do see one upside to it: there are seven billion minds which can create potential solutions.  however if we waste the vast majority of those minds, we are doing ourselves no good.

          so we have to rely on the best trained minds in the most physically secure environments to come up with solutions.

          Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

          by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:50:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree, I was just responding to what (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlueDragon, JayRaye, UnaSpenser

            I thought was an inadequate framing of the idea of rights ... the discussion can be addressed that way, but as you said it traps us in a discussion of rights rather than fairness and justice which we were addressing in the link which I think is a different discussion than one of rights ... that is why we didn't address the argument in that construction when we were talking.

            I agree that the idea of maximising survival for all and not just a small few who are either lucky to be born in a wealthy country is an excellent way of looking at it. I have always found the idea that a piece of land is claimed as being owned by someone ridiculous and someone's claim to property is considered paramount as opposed to someone's survival demonstrates the lack of fairness inherent to a system which is based upon private ownership.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:01:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  i don't think it is an inadequate framing at all (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NY brit expat, JayRaye, UnaSpenser

              i just think that practically, under the system that we have all been trained in -- the capitalist system -- it is hard to discuss rights in this way.  it is not the framing.  it is the indoctrination that the majority have swallowed which is in the way.

              to put it another way: it is impractical in the long run to be unfair.

              if everyone perceives his/her rights as equal, all will contribute without resentment.

              this is the framing that the right wing uses with a great deal of success.  they have convinces about 50% of Americans that helping others is unfair to those who get less help while the help they do get is invisible to them.

              Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

              by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:15:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is a problematic framing because (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BlueDragon, JayRaye

                rights are a liberal construct; they are useful for some things but the discussion goes way beyond a discussion of rights. We can limit the discussion to it, but it would be an inadequate discussion for the left. It would be fine for liberals, but we need to go beyond it.

                "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                by NY brit expat on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:40:54 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  we need to think of rights (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NY brit expat, JayRaye, jarbyus

                  as the right of succeeding generations to have a decent life as in the native american idea of planning for seven generations.

                  then rights becomes a larger moral discussion which takes into account the rights of the entire ecosystem, not just the individual.  

                  my rights end where they impact the ecosystem's right to not so much be in balance, but continue in some viable way.

                  Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

                  by BlueDragon on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:49:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Most people have people in their lives (4+ / 0-)

      to whom they make commitments that involve helping them no matter what. The question is how far they are willing to extend that. It has nothing to do with productivity.

    •  You still think like a capitalist... (0+ / 0-)

      You say that people will be forced to work to provide for others. That is what we have now...people are forced to work to make profits for capitalists. Not forced to work? You don't get unemployment if you don't work. Capitalists work too? I doubt if even you believe that.

      Nobody will be forced to work. If you don't work you don't eat. The difference with capitalism is that everybody who can work will work. There won't be any Mitt Romneys or George Bushs, or Walton family, etc.

      All work will be for the benefit of society, not for the benefit of a few who claim to have special talents for making profit, i.e., stealing other people's work.

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