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View Diary: Crumbs much too small for the other Whos' mouses (199 comments)

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  •  Competition and Capitalism are not synonymous (12+ / 0-)

    You can have competition with a non-Capitalist economy. You need a fair and equitable means to make capital available to anyone with the experience and vision to create. Capitalism is a flawed idea from the start. We need a system based on rules that provides broad-based opportunity. People will create even if the reward does not include fabulous concentration of wealth. You would be able to crate a business based on a new idea for a product or service and take it to it's logical conclusion. At some point the business would have to be run in the public interest and the Principles could only take a limited amount of wealth out of the company. Each business would have to compete in the market place for the best product at the best price. Outsourcing would be out, since that is not in the public interest, and hiding money offshore would be out. Most of the profits would be returned to the workers, creating a vibrant broad based consumer market.

    To this engineer, Capitalism is fatally flawed. There is no reason to put up with a system that is massively unfair and unstable. We have the means to reach the goal of meaningful employment and a sharing of the wealth. The fact that so many are unemployed or underemployed, when we have the infrastructure and technology to fix that, is damning on it's own. Why would a democracy not be run for the good of the most number of people?

    •  How about automation (0+ / 0-)

      Is that also 'not in the public interest?'

      We should outlaw making new and better machines because someone's job might be displaced by it?

      (-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 Dec 16, 2012 at 06:43:14 AM PST

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      •  Automation is good for the economy (5+ / 0-)

        It may be slightly disruptive, but automation is not the cause of our ever decreasing equality.

        Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?

        by freelunch on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 06:53:40 AM PST

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        •  With no other systems in place... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          No Exit

          ...to do something about all the now-redundant people, what's the game plan?

          For example, Amazon is investing heavily in robotics. People in their warehouses that used to have crappy jobs will now have no jobs. Is this rich Amazon shareholders "taking" from their workers? How can this not be contributing to inequality?

          (-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 Dec 16, 2012 at 07:01:12 AM PST

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          •  Put such systems in place (7+ / 0-)

            Why should people be unemployed?

            There are many things that need to be done for society, that are not considered "economic" so we steal from the commons.

            Everyone who wants a job who cannot find one in the private sector should be offered a job in the public sector for no less than $12.50/hour plus health coverage.

            There is much to do. Don't stop it from happening because it doesn't fit our blind fidelity to the past.

            Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?

            by freelunch on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:05:51 AM PST

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            •  What you are describing *is* such a system (0+ / 0-)

              But it's a welfare system, nothing more. There is no such thing as 'work that's not economic' to me, that statement is silly.

              So you're proposing to hire people for make-work jobs that no one really needs done (because if they did, someone would pay for it). The one group that might need those jobs to be done are similarly economically displaced people without the ability to pay.

              Your solution might work and be a good welfare scheme. But that's what it is, just dressed up differently.

              (-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 Dec 16, 2012 at 07:15:34 AM PST

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              •  Well, then (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                freelunch

                what do you suggest we do?

                Kill them all off?  Maybe they should all be enslaved and housed in the keep.

                Here, look at something different for a change:

                Jerem Rifkin - The End of Work

                The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

                by dfarrah on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:46:11 AM PST

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              •  Not make-work, real work, necessary work (4+ / 0-)

                Work that has been ignored up to this point.

                What's wrong with improving the general welfare? Why dismiss useful work as welfare?

                I am proposing that people who do not have jobs be given jobs that are useful and necessary to improve society. I am not proposing that we just hire people to dig holes and fill them in. I am not proposing that we start a war to keep people busy.

                What's wrong with paying people to help the elderly or the infirm or others who need help? What's wrong with improving parks and roads and cities?

                We need a bigger public sector because our private sector has failed us.

                Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?

                by freelunch on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:47:42 AM PST

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              •  There is a huge amount of work (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                stormicats

                that needs to be done to mitigate and adapt to climate change, including green and built infrastructure. Putting together what we need to get off fossil fuels such as a nationwide crash renewable energy infrastructure and electrified rail, aka the steel interstate, ecological restoration projects that are needed to conserve  soil, water, and absorb greenhouse gases. A lot of these are very labor intensive. If the private sector, which has thus far failed to think about solving these problems, won't lead, then it is high time for the government to do it. A revved up modernized WPA and CCC.

                Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

                by NoMoreLies on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:38:39 AM PST

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              •  Not welfare -- neglected infrastructure (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RattleTheSnake

                Why should South Korea have broadband access anywhere in their country and people in the suburbs of Milwaukee -- let alone, say, rural Mississippi -- don't?

                Why isn't every city in the United States investing in downlighting to cut down on energy consumption and light pollution?

                Why are there no open restrooms in public parks?  Why have we allowed glorious parks and greenspaces to become neglected?  Why are we not planting trees -- or vegetable gardens -- on every urban lot that's been vacant for more than a year?

                Why are our bridges crumbling, our roads staying potholed for years on end, sidewalks broken or absent in places that really need them?

                Why are there bike lanes all over Europe, but in so few cities in the United States that the places that have them use them as a selling point to attract new residents?

                FDR's CCC and WPA built lasting infrastructure that still stands over 80 years later.  Things we take for granted:  bridges, tunnels, parks, trails, electricity, water and sewage systems.  The things that are crumbling now.  It was seen as "make-work" back then, too -- and only later did we realize that FDR revolutionized living in America for all time.  

                We could use a little "make-work" like that today.  Convert all public buildings to solar hot water and power, for starters.  Add in upgrading all the plumbing to dual-flush -- the office I used to work in saved 40% of their water bill just by doing that and using motion sensors on the faucets.

                Rebuild bridges, sidewalks, build bike lanes, staff public parks or at least provide regular repairs and custodial services.  

                Provide incentives to upgrade homes to solar, replace old toilets, even build gardens -- and offer displaced workers the training to help people do this.

                Build and staff greenhouses in urban food deserts, to provide year-round fresh produce where currently, they get the dregs of the warehouses at gourmet prices.  No wonder some elementary school kids can't correctly identify a tomato, potato, broccoli, eggplant, cabbage and so on.  Some of them have never seen them outside of picture books before.

                The needs we have in this country are ENORMOUS.  We have people who have been out of work for so long their skills are not just rusty, they're obsolete.  Surely there must be some geniuses out there who can figure out a way to put these two things together!

                Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation -- Walter Cronkite

                by stormicats on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:19:37 AM PST

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              •  I'm not convinced it would necessarily be a (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk

                "Welfare" system in the sense I think you mean; ie. busy work pretextually providing the means of subsistence.

                But, you are 100% right that there will be a lot of redundant of people and we will need to rethink the nature and purpose of our self government.  It's gonna be a long road to travel...

                A standing army is like a standing member. It's an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure. Elbridge Gerry - Constitutional Convention (1787)

                by No Exit on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:29:05 AM PST

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              •  Work that is not considered economic (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RattleTheSnake

                is very different from work that is really not economic. Infrastructure and education are the leading examples in current US politics.

                America—We built that!

                by Mokurai on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:27:15 AM PST

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        •  Um, Krugman might not agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stormicats, TexasTom

          He recently wrote several very interesting blog posts on the promise/threat of automation.

          See this one in particular (and the ones surrounding it). He revives a 1932 mathematical model to show that technological improvements in productivity can in some cases lead to declining wages, which is pretty much what we've seen (wages as a share of total income are in a steepening downward trend).

          In the postwar decades, wages tracked increasing productivity almost exactly, leading to a doubling of incomes and a generation of shared prosperity. Since then (starting in the mid-70s), productivity has continued to climb, but wages have gone up only slightly (nominally 20%, but when adjusted for things like hours worked, only about 5%). Meanwhile, incomes at the top end (the people who own the robots) have tripled.

          Krugman admits that he himself was blindsided by this owners-and-their-robots-vs-workers conflict, but has proclaimed it a crucial issue in need of much more attention.

          What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

          by RobLewis on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:12:18 AM PST

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          •  Krugman's arguments carry greater weight... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RobLewis, Mokurai

            ...because this is an issue that he has reconsidered and is changing his views on.  Historically, he didn't believe that automation led to increased inequality, but is now finding evidence that has forced him to consider the possibility that it is one of the drivers in increasing inequality.

            That said, I think that there's a regulatory issue in play here, too.  Appropriate regulation in terms of standard working hours, overtime rules, and minimum wage could do much to spread the benefits of automation more widely.  Consider these possible outcomes from automating a factory:
            1.  More output from the same number of people (increased profits for owners, nothing for the workers).
            2.  The same output from fewer people (increased profits for owners, nothing for the workers).
            3.  The same output from fewer people, who get more pay as a result of increased productivity (increased profits for owners, some works come out ahead while others lose)
            4.  The same output from the same number of people, who are now working fewer hours (workers get more leisure time)
            To some degree, laws and regulation can dictate how the actual outcome balances between these three possibilities.

            Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

            by TexasTom on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:26:27 AM PST

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      •  Automation plus economic expansion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freelunch

        Automation means that you can produce more goods with less labor. This should mean that everyone gets to enjoy a higher standard of living assuming that those displaced by automation are now producing other goods and services. Automation is only a problem because Capitalism is fatally flawed as we have no public policy of creating additional opportunities, both for employment and for a greater standard of living. Ultimately, if we survive as a species we will need all of the labor that we can get to build a sustainable civilization. Relying on Capitalism to do it on its own is shear fantasy.

    •  Who would start such a company? (3+ / 0-)

      It is a LOT of work to start a company.   I am talking about 80 hour weeks, sometimes for years.    Anybody who goes through this and produces something of value to society deserves to get wealthy, in the old fashioned view of that term.  

      When I was growing up, we lived in a $10,000 house.   The wealthy people in town live in $100,000 houses.   There may have been a few $250,000 homes.    Nobody had  million dollar houses, and the wealthy worked just as hard to make 10 times more than average as they would have to make 10000 times more.

      Being angry at the concentration of wealth is valid, but condemning the system that created that wealth is foolish.   If you start a collective or a coop that wants to spread wealth equally, you will end up with lots of meetings and arguments about fairness, and creative hard workers will leave for other opportunities.

      Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

      by bobtmn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:24:13 AM PST

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      •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

        Yet collectives/ coops do exist in this country and are excellent models for democratic work places.  Approximately 50 percent of Argentina's business is coops.  Yet you think they are undesirable?  I don't argue that all business should be cooperative but it should be a larger component of our work force.  Coops can to a large extent make up for the loss of union based jobs.

        "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

        by noofsh on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:49:38 AM PST

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        •  It's not the idea of a coop that's (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stormicats, TexasTom, bobtmn

          unworkable, it's the implementation of the purest forms.
          The most idealist of them do tend to fail, in part because they substitute the unfairness of excessively unfair concentration of wealth with excessively unfair distribution of wealth. Accommodations for differing abilities, duties and efforts have to be accounted for, as does the value of people's time and money, which unfettered, pure adherence to consensus tends to de-value. I believe there are intentional communities and ecovillages that are getting close to the right middle ground and we should take our models from them.

          All you have to do is think about what it is takes for someone to put a significant amount of their money into something. It begins with a belief that it will not be squandered. The same goes for one' time. Initially, people are willing to be generous and have faith that it will come to meaningful, observable, demonstrable good. Easier said than done, especially if the community has significant numbers who do not value money or time...

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:15:54 AM PST

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    •  Time sharing (0+ / 0-)

      Let me put an idea out there.  What if your compensation was credits to get some product / service instead of money.  If you got rid of money, you would get rid of financial capitalism.  Yet you still have competition, creativity, etc...

      This is not as far fetched as it seems.  Time exchanges have been setup throughout the country.

      Maybe it will change how we think about economics.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:30:34 AM PST

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      •  That's a step in the right direction. (0+ / 0-)

        Their also needs to be some index of the value of different tasks. Not like the unfair market we have today. But not like the unfair market in which everyone gets paid the same thing regardless of skill or responsibility.

        The other is how you value financial investments in the community. Again, not like the unfair market we have today. But not in manner that disrespects how hard it is to come by. Some intentional communities treat these all as loans. So some recognition is given to the value of capital without creating or meeting expectations for windfall profits.

        The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

        by Words In Action on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:22:24 AM PST

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      •  That's just another word for money (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobtmn, RattleTheSnake

        Because that's all that money is -- markers that can be used to obtain products or services.

        You wouldn't be getting rid of money -- you'd just be renaming it.  We'd have "credits" instead of "dollars", but the net effect would be the same.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:28:39 AM PST

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    •  It is vitally necessary to hire overseas (0+ / 0-)

      for the health of the global economy. Although in the short term this looks like a race to the bottom, in the longer term every low-wage country with no labor protections turns within a few decades into a much healthier economy with a much healthier political system, and starts sending even more work to even poorer countries, while the wealthier countries benefit from an ever wider range of ever less expensive products.

      This will continue until there are no poor countries left in Asia and Africa. In spite of appearances, this process is well under way almost everywhere except North Korea and the poorest countries still mired in civil wars such as Yemen, Chad, and Congo. Well, Haiti since the earthquake, Cuba under the embargo...But well over a hundred countries are making good progress.

      What this world needs, and will eventually achieve, is a good labor shortage.

      And in the meantime, it needs the US to go Progressive, and to support its own workers with sane labor laws, sane regulation of business, and in fact sanity in general.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:25:17 AM PST

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