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View Diary: A Thought Experiment on Capitalism (81 comments)

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  •  No, the assumption in a capitalist economy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kvetchnrelease, thestructureguy

    is that those for whom things like wealth and property are more important will do more to attain those things.  Those for whom other things are more important (a less pressured life? more free time?) will not do the things necessary to increase their wealth and property.  

    And yes, most of us can "better" ourselves in a properly administered capitalist society.  There are all sorts of studies showing that there is a direct correlation between level of education and income.  There are all sorts of studies showing that if a person (1) gets an education and/or a marketable skill; and (2) does not have children before he/she is married or in a long-term stable relationship where there will be two employed parents to raise the child, that person is far, far, far less likely to end up in poverty.  Most of us can affect our economic situation by the choices we make.  There needs to be a safety net for people who make wrong choices, to help them get in a situation where they can make better choices.  Or a safety net for people who make good choices but through circumstances beyond their control end up in dire economic straights.  But capitalism assumes that rewards in terms of better income will act as a motivation for people to do things that they don't necessarily want to do (absent the financial motivation) and to make better choices.  

    Simply put, if you graduate from high school and go to a state public college and major in engineering and graduate, you have a far, far, far, far better chance of making a decent living than if you have a child at 16 and drop of out high school.   We as a society need to encourage young people to make that kind of choice. If you graduate from high school, and learn a marketable skill that does not require a college education, you have a far, far, far better chance of making a decent living than if you have a child at 16 and drop out of high school.  We as a society need to encourage young people to make that kind of choice.  And capitalism needs to provide the means for young people to make those choices.  For some, of course, it will be more difficult to make those choices than for others, but we need to provide the assistance for young people to make those choices, and do what is necessary (difficult as that may be in some instances) to better their own economic situation.  That's what I mean by my statement that, for most people, they can make choices that will increase their chances of having a decent standard of living. Our economic system,in general (and properly administered) rewards those who make the choices necessary to increase their own standard of living.  That increase in their standard of living is the motivation for them to do things that otherwise they might not choose to do.  

    What this diary advocates in its criticism of capitalism is a system where we would lessen the link between those kinds of choices and one's personal economic situation - where we assume that people will make those good choices even without a strong self-interest as the motivation.  And given that we are all human, and that for virtually all of us, self-interest (what's best for us and for those whom we love, like our family) is most important, I don't think a system like that will be successful.  

    •  I reject philosophically the Anglo-saxon (2+ / 0-)
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      diomedes77, Tonedevil

      formulation of self-interest. It is at fundamental odds with the continental tradition wrt to 'self interest'. Kant speaks a lot about self-interest as well & considers it the basis of society. However, he also sees it as the basis of moral law - namely the moral recognition that every else also has self-interest. It is the fundamental process of recognition that differentiates the immature notion of freedom [found in the Brits] from continental notion of freedom. Freedom is only possible when it is universally recognized as the condition of every human - of every self-interested party. This is essentially Kant's 'kingdom of ends' - treat every rational being as an end in themselves.

      Marx recognized that capitalism introduced and nurtured the atomized notion of freedom, and predicted it's collapse because it would never be able to actualize the mature notion of human freedom, i.e. self-determination. The mode of social organization within capitalism is fundamentally at odds with human freedom. Our economic system rewards hording, inefficient energy waste, the creation of useless needs. It in fact limits our choices and cages us such that we waste our time and energy, and non-renewable resources as we struggle to make enough scratch just to continue our own miserable existence.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 05:26:35 PM PDT

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    •  Now let's cherry-pick observations the other way. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lucid, Tonedevil
      Those for whom other things are more important (a less pressured life? more free time?) will not do the things necessary to increase their wealth and property.
      Of course, if you're born into the investor class you don't have to do anything because the rest of the world already works for you (or pays rent to you).
      There are all sorts of studies showing that if a person (1) gets an education and/or a marketable skill; and (2) does not have children before he/she is married or in a long-term stable relationship where there will be two employed parents to raise the child, that person is far, far, far less likely to end up in poverty.
      1) those who control the market decide what gets to be a "marketable skill."  One must have significant resources already ready-to-hand if one is to hire someone else and thus to define what constitutes a "job" -- those are the people who control the market.  This cuts to the heart of the diarist's main point.  Skills which involve sustainable modes of subsistence?  Not so marketable.  There are plenty of these not-so-marketable skills which the human race will desperately need when the capitalist system is through plundering planet Earth.

      2) The point of "getting an education" typically has very little to do with having a "marketable skill," and everything to do with artificial criteria displayed on job descriptions specifying that job applicants "must have a (name) degree."  What one learns in the process of getting a business degree, for instance, typically has little to do with what one does with one's business degree after graduation.  The point is to create a system for weeding out some people and granting privileges to others.  If an employer really wants you to have a skill, you will be trained appropriately once you are hired.

      Most of us can affect our economic situation by the choices we make.
      Class mobility these days, already very low, is about zero.  Here's a snapshot of the real process at work: "Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth As Rich-Poor Gap Widened."  Investors get to profit off of the labor of others, who merely profit from the surplus earned above and beyond what they require for subsistence under capitalism.
      Our economic system,in general (and properly administered) rewards those who make the choices necessary to increase their own standard of living.
      This is completely redundant.  Our economic system rewards those who choose to be rewarded by our economic system.
      What this diary advocates in its criticism of capitalism is a system where we would lessen the link between those kinds of choices and one's personal economic situation
      Since this link, i.e. the prospect of class mobility, is damned close to being nothing at all, there really isn't much to brag about here.  People are obliged to work not because they are enticed by economic improvement, but rather because they are horrified by the prospect of poverty as it is created and maintained by the capitalist system and its client governments.
      where we assume that people will make those good choices even without a strong self-interest as the motivation.
      My self interest depends intimately upon the forthcoming end of the capitalist system and its replacement with a system of political economy that is not so recklessly destructive of ecosystem integrity.

      "America no longer has a left-wing." -- Paul Craig Roberts

      by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:17:53 AM PDT

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