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A personal observation of capitalism in America since Ronald Reagan introduced "trickle-down", and how unfettered competition may prove detrimental to both competitors and consumers.

A basic tenet of free-market capitalism, as practiced in the US, follows the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest."  Each economic entity, whether completely new, or some variation of an existing concept, must, like every additional species in our evolutionary chain, squeeze out competitors to assure their own survival.  
Those that most successfully adapt to market demand tend to thrive, whereas lesser strategies often result in "extinction", or bankruptcies in economic speak.
As Karl  Liebknecht said, "The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not both you and I." 
Applying this rule to plants or animals illustrates the natural competition for habitat, including shelter and food.  Those who adapt best, survive.

I suppose that most people, whether from the Americas, Europe, or Asia, really don't care much about political and economic systems per se, but rather how those systems affect their overall ability to acquire food and shelter, raise their young, and more than just survive, to thrive.

Adam Smith, often referred to as, the "father of (modern economics and) capitalism" [http://en.wikipedia.org/...], wrote in Book I    Chapter VIII,  pg.94 of his magnus opus, "The Wealth of Nations": "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable."
This, of course,  is true of any society, whether capitalist, socialist or Marxist.

Continuing along these lines, Smith also wrote, in his other great tome,  "The Theory of Moral Sentiments":  "This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise or, at least, neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments."

While very few persons would actually deny the value and importance of free market economies, almost every consumer should demand that pursuit of profit must maintain ethical standards beyond reproach. 
Unfortunately, the demands of profiteering, compounded by strict competition,  often lead to cutting corners, or worse, deliberate tort, which, under the worst of circumstances, may cause great harm, and even death to a great many persons. 

Many times I have heard  that production decisions are  based on projected sales or profits, but experience has taught me that consumers often have negligible influence over decisions made by business leaders.  Even consumer boycotts seldom cause  corporations to add costly safety features designed to protect employees or the environment.

In 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, which killed 11 oilworkers and spewed hundreds of millions of gallons of raw oil directly into the Gulf of Mexico, Massey Energy's  Upper Big Branch mine disaster which killed 29 miners, and the ongoing and successive pollution of our atmosphere and natural aquifers (through fracking), are all contributing to well documented national public health issues. 

And, in each case, the businesses choose to fight all branch regulation, in favor of unrestricted business practices that, while maximizing profits for shareholders, often result in health or environmental issues, frequently both.
They do this, very successfully, spending massive amounts of money on highly specialized lobbyists, who sell their skills and services to any who meet their price, not unlike an escort service. 

In today's modern global economy, international corporations can affect large populations, over great distances.  Governments, as  representatives not of corporations, but of people, must maintain the security of citizens in their dealings with corporations. 
An important function of government in a capitalist society is to regulate and restrict actions, that, if left unchecked, may pose serious risks to society at large, whether those risks involve foodstuffs, durable goods, or services.

This valuable service rendered by the government, such as oversight of the meat-packing industry (FDA), or airline safety (FAA), must be funded with tax revenues. 

Adam Smith said in "The Wealth of Nations: "Every tax, however, is to the person who pays it a badge, not of slavery but of liberty. It denotes that he is a subject to government, indeed, but that, as he has some property, he cannot himself be the property of a master."

To decry the very infrastructure we rely on to maintain the highest standards of safety, or a public education system that prepares our children for future technology advances (job preparation) is to ignore history.  Our nation thrived during the decades following WWII, when taxes were far higher, government services grew to meet public needs, education met our goals, unions represented much of the workforce, and wages allowed most families to advance, with only one income. 

In the last generation since Ronald Reagan began, while claiming fiscal conservatism,  increasing spending (and especially the deficit - http://tinyurl.com/...) and our national debt, which Bush I continued, conservatives have done their best to paint liberals and Dems as anti-capitalist, "unlimited big-government spenders", who will happily turn America into the next Marxist state. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth.   But most liberals do want the government to establish, and uphold ethical standards that give every American a fighting chance.  
Or, as Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter I, Part II, pg.770: "Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality."
And, in Book IV, Chapter III, Part II, pg.531:  "The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which, I am afraid, the nature of human affairs can scarce admit a remedy."

We only ask that amassing great property (fortunes) does not serve to qualify as an excuse for ancient evil, or the premature demise of an unwitting middle-class .. ..

Originally posted to Brer Kanin on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 07:24 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This Shows the Sociopathy of Capitalism: (30+ / 0-)
    As Karl  Liebknecht said, "The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not both you and I."
    Humans are a social species, over all our evolutionary history we fare much worse individually than as members of groups. That's why we instinctively shun extreme bad behavior. For most of our history, shunning by the entire group was a life-threatening punishment.

    There are countless aspects of our drives, inhibitions and cultures to prove that humans are social not individual animals. There are countless animal species proving that a community-oriented strategy supports survival and thriving. That includes multi-species ecosystem communities, such as plants whose fruits must be eaten by animals so that their seeds are productively spread.

    For that reason, an economic system based on individual triumph over community is pathogenic to our species, and therefore requires extensive regulation and restraint in order to ensure that:

    pursuit of profit must maintain ethical standards beyond reproach.
    8,000 years of history of civilization prior to the New Deal regulatory era prove that consumers lack the power to enforce that requirement sufficiently. Only liberal governance has that power.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 07:40:13 PM PDT

    •  Human history (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, ZedMont, Russgirl, jm214, ozsea1

      Very true Gooserock.  
      It must be noted that in all the millions of years of human evolution, it is only within the last few thousand years that capitalism has taken hold.

      •  modern humans have only existed (9+ / 0-)

        about 100,000 thousand years.  Capitalism much less than 5,000.  Tribal societies were not capitalistic.  

        Economic trade for profit has existed since the second millennium BC.[34] However, capitalism in its modern form is usually traced to the Mercantilism of the 16th-18th Centuries.
        Human civilization does not need capitalism; it is antithetic to capitalism.

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

        by BlueDragon on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:34:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Capitalism is the method by which (0+ / 0-)

          scarce resources get allocated. It allows those in the most valued jobs (in the eyes of the people paying for them) to have access to the rarest goods and services.

          How else do you propose to get around this fundamental problem of society? Have the government just pick who gets what?

          •  Capitalism arose after agriculture n/t (0+ / 0-)

            "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

            by US Blues on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 10:23:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Capitalism is the method by which labor of the (5+ / 0-)

            many is harnessed to create wealth and power for the benefit of the few ...

            It's principle distinction from Monarchism or Manorialism, is that the "few" is is based on the merits of ancestors having skills other and in addition to than warriorship and plundercraft.

            But for all it's ability to produce wealth and environmental pollution in huge quantities very fast, Capitalism left to its own devices ...  well, read Jack London's Children of the Abyss -- or anything by Charles Dickens.

            Allegorically: Capitalism is a ravening beast that if properly harnessed and governed can accomplish great things.  Government is the beat-tamer, laws and regulations are the bit and reins -- and this critter don't need no whip or spurs.

          •  Prefer the government over private enterprise (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            indres

            Which is devoted to one thing only, private profit. The mandate to serve profit isn't often aligned with the maintenance and regulation of the public commons.

            Or, to paraphrase Thom Hartmann, I don't want the government to make my computers, cell phones or shoes. But I want them to operate my fire and police departments, roadways, airports and the courts to enforce marketplace and business rules.

            "What have you done for me, lately?" ~ Lady Liberty

            by ozsea1 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:03:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  supply and demand (0+ / 0-)

            if we level incomes, the prices of the rarest goods and services come down. or else they go away entirely, in which case we don't have to worry about their unequal distribution any more.

            •  That's delusional. (0+ / 0-)
              if we level incomes
              Pray tell, how do you plan to accomplish this?

              Plus your analysis is way wrong about prices coming down in the scenario, but I'll get to that after you explain how incomes are going to be leveled.

              The whole point of society and what makes our species great is our capacity to mutually serve the needs of one another.

              by probusinessdem on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:04:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  That Is Not True As To Markets. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chris Jay, Prospect Park, ozsea1, indres

        However, capitalism, i.e. the profit motive, is not necessary for markets -- that is the exchange of goods and services -- to exist. Confucian Chinese kingdoms ran efficient markets in the 600's AD, where merchants and non-producers who labored in the exchange of goods, were paid according to the effort expended and the value of their service, just like a producer would. In other words, markets can and have long survived without the profit motive.

        Smith's fallacy, IMHO, is designating markets as organic. In fact, markets are creations of the state -- in my estimation -- certainly through taxation and the support of military machinery and troops. Rather than a free and invisible hand magically holding our economic system in place (and despite the enormous opportunity for greed to be realized), unregulated, or poorly regulated, markets would quickly crash.

        Question today is, who do these regulations serve.

        "I never met a man I didn't like." Will Rogers - American Redneck

        by chuco35 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 09:11:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  American Capitalism is a con job (17+ / 0-)

      not an economic system. And, of course, "capitalism" is nothing more than whatever they do to make money for themselves and keep it at all costs, regardless of the crimes or deceptions involved and no matter who gets hurt (as long as it's someone else).

      The modern American form of capitalism is nothing more than a blatant form of corporate socialism in which the rich defer costs onto the taxpayer and keep the profits for themselves.

      American business is a con job.

      Privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

      That this has nothing to do with "capitalism" means nothing. What's more, the government and the media are nothing more than shills, well paid to obscure the reality in the services of their masters, and in the futile hope that they will be invited in to the sanctuary and get to share in the profits of the con.

      •  I think it is just overly miserly in defining (5+ / 0-)

        which goods are "public goods", i.e., goods that everybody benefits from and which everybody must pitch in to pay for. These are typically defined in economics textbooks as national defense and flood control, etc. We just need a new discussion about what public goods are. I'd say we need to include basic and catastrophic health care, better education and early childhood intervention. If we did better defining public goods, we could be clearer on what we're doing and why we're doing it.

        •  I think the modern "capitalist" (11+ / 0-)

          has no idea what "public goods" are. And thinks that there should be no such thing as public goods anyway. The modern Ayn Randian, "capitalist" thinks that every molecule of the universe should be privately owned for the benefit of one person (himself) and that everyone else should have to pay him for its use. Including the air and sunshine.

          •  Well, maybe they should go take a high school (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Preston S

            microeconomics course. Or go to community college and take one. Oh, and guess what! They could pay less than market price to do so!

          •  Right. You think that because you don't understand (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            plumbobb

            capitalism at all. Seriously. Can you find me one person who thinks what you just said? Economists who advocate for capitalism know what public goods are. Seriously.

            •  I could list you (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ozsea1, Yastreblyansky, indres

              Any number of people I've spoken with over the years, from Ayn Rand fetishists, to Ron Paul supporters, to Robert Nozick groupies, to Robert Heinlein sic-fi geeks, all of whom advocate for every single object in the world (and presumably the universe) being owned by someone. Including the air (but perhaps not the sunshine, that might... might have been hyperbole). These libertarian über "capitalists" really do believe not only that everything should be owned, but that once something is owned, the owner should have every right to do with it what they will. For example, if I buy the plot of land next to your house, I should be able to build a toxic waste disposal site there and you should have nothing to say about it. It's MY property, after all. As for the air being owned, well, what else is cap and trade but a tacit agreement that a certain portion of the air is mine to do with what I wish? To pollute as I see fit, or to trade to someone else to pollute as they see fit.

              If you haven't encountered these types, and they are everywhere, then you need to get out more.

              And note the "capitalism" quotation marks. They are a common literary tool employed to indicate that, while a given term is being used, it is not being used in a commonly accepted manner.  It's shorter than saying "so-called capitalists." It is not I who fail to understand capitalism, but the people who run American business and who populate far too much of all of our political parties.

              And, frankly, the very idea that you chose the screen name "probusinessdem" suggests to me that you are here at Kos on, shall we say, less than above board grounds (joined a mere 11 days ago, did you?). As everyone who posts here legitimately knows, democrats are pro business. There are no democrats who are anti-business. It's a bit like calling yourself "projesuscatholic" on a, say, liberation theology blog site. The very name implies that you don't think a liberation catholic could, by nature or inclination, be pro Jesus and you need to save them from their error.

              I am, in fact, a pro-capitalist, pro-business democrat, as pretty much every legitimate poster at Kos is (though we do have our share of socialists and a marxist or two. Why not? It's a free site). And I know quite a bit about capitalism. It's the republicans who so fervently cling to the capitalist nomenclature, when they clearly could not pass a freshman econ class, not to mention the chirstianists who so adamantly protest their personal holiness and probity and who routinely behave in such reprehensible and unchristian ways, whom I routinely denounce and skewer. As I did in my post above.

              Face it, if you're going to play here, you need to do your homework. You can't come to Daily Kos unprepared.

              •  I think you're misunderstanding... (0+ / 0-)
                For example, if I buy the plot of land next to your house, I should be able to build a toxic waste disposal site there and you should have nothing to say about it. It's MY property, after all.
                I would agree with this in theory; however, practically, the toxic waste disposal leaks onto your property and violates your rights. Or, there is a clear risk that could happen, so steps need to be taken to ensure your property rights are maintained. Basically, I think these sorts of property rights fights are a good way to resolve these issues.

                The cap and trade issue isn't about "owning the air." It's about making sure than when your CO2 emissions impact me, you pay for it. We're just talking about how to avoid the "tragedy of the commons" issue. If you read the cap-and-trade issue as a "own the air" issue, you've got a framing of the issue that seems strange to me.

                Also, I have been here a long time, but my previous screen name tied too closely to my RL identity. I wanted to separate the two, so I chose a new screen name. Business is the topic on which I post the most, so I chose this screen name. Many people here would say the screen name is more like promohammedchristian. They're not a fringe minority here. I'd like to remind them that Democrats aren't all socialists and Marxists.

                The whole point of society and what makes our species great is our capacity to mutually serve the needs of one another.

                by probusinessdem on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 01:04:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Aaaand.... Frogbert takes him down! Nice job. (0+ / 0-)

                I'll meet you at the bottom, if there really is one. They always told me when you hit it you'll know it. I've been fallin' for so long it's like gravity is gone and I'm just floatin'. ~ Drive by Truckers (ugly buildings, whores, and politicians)

                by Saint Jimmy on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:27:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You find two "economists" who agree on "THE defini (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              plumbobb, ozsea1, Saint Jimmy, indres

              tion" of "public goods," or any of the other "core concepts" that these fuckers juggle and manipulate to make it appear that Markets are Magic and Quantitative Easing is the Cat's Meow and all the rest of the stuff their inventive little minds come up with.

              Economics, as "practiced" by the Great Schools, is eyewash and bullshit aimed at justifying, and putting the fake gloss of "science" on, behaviors that are simply screw-your-neighbor-for-profit. "Economists" can't agree on the direction and velocity and rationale for price changes in any necessity of life, and most of them piss on anyone who argues for inclusion of "externalities" in pricing stuff like FrakkGas and TarSandsOil (for which "demand" and "justification" are manufactured by "investments" in "K Street" and other black holes, and of course all the personally profitable or sensually gratifying, planet-raping Personal Indulgence Technologies and consumptive habits of the mass of us who have had our demands manufactured so long by so many subtle and gross seductions that most of us have not a clue how we are being had, drained and eaten by the Vampire Squids.

              I hope that people in the wider world are finally starting to see that (pick your personal favorite trite example of return to sanity, I like) The Emperor Is Walking Around With His Junk Hanging Out, and it's time to laugh the arrogant SOB back into his palace and lock him up there.

              "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

              by jm214 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 12:25:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  excellent rant eom (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, Saint Jimmy
              •  If you don't think economists have the same (0+ / 0-)

                basic understanding of the concept of public goods, then you don't know economists very well. They draw the same mental images when the phrase is used.

                If you want to find two economists who agree, pick any economics textbook with more than one author and turn to the glossary. Then take just about any other economics textbook and turn turn to the glossary. The definitions will be essentially the same.

                This lack of respect for the discipline of economics reflects a lot more on you than it does on economics. Economists will go on offering their services to people who pay for them, and you'll go on whining on the internet...

                The whole point of society and what makes our species great is our capacity to mutually serve the needs of one another.

                by probusinessdem on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 01:11:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My microeconomics textbook claims that the (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ozsea1, Saint Jimmy, Yastreblyansky, jm214

                  primary reason that there is a difference in number of rental units built in San Francisco and in Dallas is rent control in San Francisco.

                  In point of fact, I think that, at least in this case, the facts are being massaged to point towards the predetermined conclusion the author espouses.

                •  Condemned out of your own mouth: (0+ / 0-)

                  "Economists will go on offering their services to people who pay for them, " and that is the problem. As a former attorney, I know where and how to buy any opinion on any "expert" topic I might care to liltigate or lobby.

                  Knowing a lot of big compound-complex words and mastering opaque syntax and learning to look down your nose are not indicia of any kind of special competence. If you are so special smart, why aren't you the person, having predicted all the moves of the "market" you study, who HIRES other people to generate the justifying bullshit for your personal mastery of little elements of Greedville? Problem with prediction? Oh, tell me "it's complicated." Like derivatives. bullshit.

                  Oh, and is "economics" now a "discipline," and not a "sceince?" Kind of a step down off that high Chicaustria pedestal, isn't it?

                  "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

                  by jm214 on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 02:09:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  also overly reluctant to address market failures. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          plumbobb, ozsea1

          "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

          by joey c on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 11:51:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I like Jesus' list (0+ / 0-)

          and I'm not even a Christian. Food, Drink, Shelter, Clothing, Health Care, Criminal Justice. I'd throw in energy, national defense, and environmental maintenance for good measure.

          These need to be maintained by everyone, for everyone, and if our governments won't make that happen, then self-defense may require other measures.

      •  Excellent Summation (4+ / 0-)

        Adam Smith also said“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Chapter 10 political inequalities

        Because the wealthy control the media, how information is disseminated, they allow the false capitalism vs socialism argument to flourish.

        We don't have capitalism on the big business level and regulating them is not socialism. Perhaps an argument can be made for socialism if the regulations were severely restrictive, but we have the opposite of that. We have the industries controlling the entities they are supposed to police.

    •  this raises a useful question about who the mother (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      of capitalism might therefore be. Smith's assumptions regarding the political economy of Nature (it's not nice to fool margarine) and its exploitation might also be seen as problematic as the current debate on the role of the State and women's health, including contraception

      slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

      by annieli on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:21:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  agreed & well said (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1

      The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

      by a2nite on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:57:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely not... (0+ / 0-)
      As Karl  Liebknecht said, "The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not both you and I."
      Applying this rule to plants or animals illustrates the natural competition for habitat, including shelter and food.  Those who adapt best, survive.
      This is just wrong. Flatly, stupidly, wrong.

      Tell me of one organism that doesn't depend on other organisms. Plants depend on insects for reproduction. Animals depend on plants for food. Herbivores depend on carnivores to weed out their sick and control population growth. Carnivores depend herbivores for food. We depend on numerous animals and plants. Cows, chickens, bananas, corn (holy shit, corn), rice, tree species for lumber, grass species for aesthetic lawn value, etc, etc. The reason is simple. Collaboration trumps competition. Sure, there is some competition within a particular niche, but on the broad scale, there's collaboration. If Karl Liebknecht was right, there would only be one species on this plant. Turns out, that's not the case at all.

      The point is that we fare better in a group because people can specialize and fill different niches in what we demand as a species. What it doesn't mean is that every last person needs to be supported regardless of whether or not they contribute to the group. If you allow that, you wind up with a society full of non-producers.

      •  Yah, and tapeworms and liver flukes fill a niche, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, Saint Jimmy

        just like the people over at Goldman Sachs and in the C Suites at Northrop "We never forget who we're working for" Grumman and B"I want my life back"P and the rest.

        You fare better in a group, because it maximizes the opportunities for predation and parasitism.

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 12:29:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As someone who has had a tapeworm, I have (0+ / 0-)

          two things to say. First, sushi is awesome, and I will continue to eat it. :-)

          Second, the tapeworm was pretty harmless. It was meeting its needs while not really impacting me. When it impacted me enough to notice, I got it removed. That's the way things work in the real world, long-term. The people over at Goldman are very smart people, and they do generate enormous value for society. That's why they aren't being removed.

          The whole point of society and what makes our species great is our capacity to mutually serve the needs of one another.

          by probusinessdem on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 01:23:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What are you afraid of? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Saint Jimmy

            Your defensiveness smells of fear.

            "What have you done for me, lately?" ~ Lady Liberty

            by ozsea1 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:07:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The GS guy that wrote (0+ / 0-)

            The op-ed in the NYT yesterday disagrees with you. After all, he was also a GS guy so that must make him uber smart according to you, right?

            You conflate to many things from what I gather from your posts above. "Smarts" can be used for good as well as for bad. There are other traits in people that are if not more important just as important as "smarts"".

            As for your notion that tapeworms are not harmful, you are woefully missinformed.

      •  A missed point .. .. (0+ / 0-)

        Obviously you missed the point: the comparison is, like the analogy to economics, based upon competitors, not partnerships.
        Of course those plants or animals that rely on others  for their survival do not generally cause the extinction of other species, whereas those that compete for habitat or food, will fight to the death to eradicate one another.

    •  Right on, Gooserock, right on! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Saint Jimmy

      "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

      by unclebucky on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 11:53:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Poll (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quequeg, ZedMont

    Sorry tha the poll has not posted as planned.
    The 4th choice should read: "Capitalism should be left "
    'as is' in America today."
    And the 5th choice was meant to say: "Capitalism should be modified to include more 'socialistic' programs like Medicare and Social Security."

  •  My favorite Adam Smith quote (13+ / 0-)
    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

    There's no such thing as a free market!

    by Albanius on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 08:13:54 PM PDT

    •  Here are some of my favorites (10+ / 0-)
      Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favor of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favor of the masters. - Adam Smith
      Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people. - Adam Smith
      The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities, that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.  - Adam Smith
      And my very favorite:
      It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expence, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.  - Adam Smith

      Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

      by Lefty Coaster on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 10:03:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Poll question..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1

    I'm not sure I understand clearly how you would define the terms, so I can't vote in the poll. For example, what relationship would the economic system have to the political system?

    In some other countries like Brazil they expect capitalism to have social benefits.

  •  Intentional Virtue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen, ozsea1

    Adam  Smith also said that the foundation of a successful free market has to be intentional virute

    •  Smith was at heart a philosopher (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caldreaming, ozsea1, indres, basquebob

      And he's called the father of economics because before him there wasn't a lot of study of that subject.

      To put things in perspective, Adam Smith was a contemporary of Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier, who at the time were discovering oxygen and its properties. Both economics and chemistry had made huge leaps forward since the 18th century. At the same time, Jefferson and Franklin were writing a new constitution for a new country.

      Smith is worth studying because he had some good ideas that contributed to the growth of economics as a discipline, but he's not the last word in economic theory.

      But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

      by Dbug on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:41:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  He also noted... (11+ / 0-)

    ...that unions (I think he might call them guilds or something else) were crucial as a counterbalance to capital.

    Adam Smith's work is mostly unread, of course.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 10:01:49 PM PDT

    •  As always (13+ / 0-)

      Whether it's Adam Smith, the Bible, or the Constitution, conservatives never actually read the sources they pretend to quote. Rather, they cobble together their "readings" from half-remembered television shows, bumper stickers, comic books, the Reader's Digest, tee-shirts, wall plaques, and overheard or half-remembered conversations and sermons, keeping only that which inflates their own egos, ensures their own fortunes, and denigrates anyone and everyone not just like themselves.

      How many conservative pundits, preachers, and politicians continually "quote" from all sorts of documents they have clearly never read, confidant that their core audience -- e.g. the stupid, the greedy and the bigoted -- have never read them either? And the media will never, ever call them on it.

  •  unfettered capitalism is a lie (7+ / 0-)

    There is no such thing as "unfettered capitalism" when state and local governments choose the winners by providing huge tax incentives to multibillion dollar corporations over locally owned businesses. What we have seen over the last 30 years is the systematic extermination of small business through lobbied favors. Just ask anyone that used to run a family owned grocery or drug store. There is no such thing as the "free market".

    •  Unfettered Capitalism is Impossible! (5+ / 0-)

      Unless the Capitalist builds the roads and bridges to move his goods, but first, he must buy the land and rights of way to build the roads.  And, how can he buy the land and rights of way with money, before he creates the goods in the factories he has not built, with raw materials he has not bought.  

      Then, the Capitalist must hire the workers and train and educate them, because he cannot rely on public education train and educate them.  

      Where does the Capitalist get the first funds to begin his empire?  What does he do with those funds?  Does he feed himself, his familly, his employees?

      Pure unfettered Capitalism is a Myth just like the tooth fairy!

      Impeach Grover Norquist! Defeat a Republican!

      by NM Ray on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 07:54:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some thing new and great to read (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, ozsea1, basquebob

    The NYTimes article tells about the book that will replace Smith.

    Why Countries Go Bust

    Recommended in Amazon by at least 6 Nobel Laureates, it sounds amazing.

    Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

    Daron Acemoglu And James Robinson Are the authors and they have a blog at http://whynationsfail.com/

    Do check it out.

    Excellent diary and some very good comments here. I'll read in more detail tomorrow.

    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

    by samddobermann on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:22:46 AM PDT

  •  Capitalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1

    I don't know much about economics, but we learn the I, me, mine aggressive bit in kindergarten, so you would think we might be a little further down the road by now, socioeconomically speaking.

    and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

    by le sequoit on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:25:33 AM PDT

  •  Your "basic tenet" is wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1
    A basic tenet of free-market capitalism, as practiced in the US, follows the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest."  Each economic entity, whether completely new, or some variation of an existing concept, must, like every additional species in our evolutionary chain, squeeze out competitors to assure their own survival.  
    This may be true in some silly textbook example of economics where there are only widgets being produced and there is only a fixed demand for said widgets.

    In the real world, however, it doesn't work that way.

    Look at Apple and Microsoft, for a really good example.

    Microsoft was beating the pants off of Apple for 20 years in the contest for people's desktops.  Apple innovated.  They kept a proprietary set of hardware and software so as to keep things under tight control as opposed to Microsoft who tried to exist on many different combinations of hardware.

    Apple flourished and expanded to other related lines.  Microsoft was unable to do so.

    But most importantly - Apple created demand where there was none before.  Microsoft still does quite well in its market.

    Even in a fixed demand commodity, there is room for multiple competitors to do well.   Dozens of industries supply basically the same products.  They compete on price, delivery, etc. etc. and find their niche in sub-markets, or even regionally.  And why do you think so many corporations have gone global?  Most of the global reach of US Corporations has been to expand markets, not find cheap labor.

    •  I expect that's why (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chipmo, ozsea1, Saint Jimmy

      you never hear business people talking about competition as if it were a holy sacrament that can only bring good things.

      [snark]

      Apple were never competing directly with Microsoft, so I'm not sure how your argument is relevant.

      But the point is that you never hear business people talking about cooperation as if it were a holy sacrament that can only bring good things.

      And yet - human culture is fundamentally cooperative. We innovate because when an individual makes a breakthrough, we can share that breakthrough and lock it into our shared history so future generations can benefit from it.

      Most of us don't spend most of our time trying to murder each other and/or rape the women. When a culture devolves to that level, we look at it with horror and revulsion and consider it a failure.

      So why is there no ethic of synergistic cooperation in business culture? Why is the emphasis always on competition?

      "Be kind" - is that a religion?

      by ThatBritGuy on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:43:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Fundamentally Cooperative" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, Yastreblyansky

        Some would define that as communist, in the classical sense of each according to his needs, and so on. In other words, human culture is fundamentally communist. If your bud is under the sink fixing the plumbing and he asks you to hand him the wrench you'll instinctively do it, because you can, regardless of any "profit" for your effort. We act in essentially communist-like behavior in countless of daily activities. It is in our nature. The profit motive is also in our nature, but wise governments have long known how to control it. Ours apparantly does not.

        "I never met a man I didn't like." Will Rogers - American Redneck

        by chuco35 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 09:48:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's not truly a free market (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, ozsea1, basquebob

      And Adam Smith recognized that, but still wrote as if it were for the most part.

      A truly free market cannot exist when different companies have different power in the marketplace. Take beer as the perfect example. The perfect marketplace says that a better beer at the same price will sell more. But BudMilloors has control of the shelf space in the markets because otherwise the grocer couldn't sell their beers. So most consumers don't see the better beers at all. So it's not truly a free marketplace, and those that already have money will always be in control (yes, simplified analogy because they have far more political and social control than that alone).

      "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations

      by old bird on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:24:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Boy, did you pick a terrible example. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, basquebob

      If you want to talk about these companies, we have to start w/M$. It is nearly a perfect model of what is so terribly wrong with American Capitalism. Founded in fraud, grown with cronyism at taxpayer expense while granted de facto monopoly through law enforcement's refusal to enforce the law.

      Bill Gates III's "genius" was to, first, be born into the plutocracy, and then to leverage that to steal other's work with no fear of reprisal for a 25 year crime spree resulting in world wide domination.

      Which brings us to Apple, a company that began with 2 genuine nobodies and an idea that, contrary to your assertion, kicked M$'s ass year after year until the government contracts started rolling in to M$. Only then did Apple start losing until it was on the verge of collapse. It was at this point that somebody noticed that if Apple were allowed to die and a less "business friendly" administration gained power, M$ would have a much more difficult (and expensive) time evading anti-trust laws.

      That is when M$ bought 30% of Apple, forced it to conform to their non-standards instigating the dramatic decline in the quality of their software, and locking it into an insignificant boutique market that provides cover, but poses no threat.

      This did however, also force Apple to look into other products and markets, so there was some good that came out of all this.

      In the real world, there is hardly any competition left in any major industry as most are completely controlled by a few giant companies that know full well that collusion is far more profitable than competition, and it's much cheaper to buy government protection and corporate welfare, than it is to do what is right.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:57:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heh.. revisionist history.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1
        It is nearly a perfect model of what is so terribly wrong with American Capitalism. Founded in fraud, grown with cronyism at taxpayer expense while granted de facto monopoly through law enforcement's refusal to enforce the law.
        You need to go do some reading..  Both Microsoft AND Apple were stealing ideas.. mostly from Xerox Parc.

        But let's go back even further, before graphical user interfaces.  Yes, the Apple II was a successful computer.  But you can hardly say Apple was kicking MS's ass when it was around long before Microsoft struck its deal with IBM.

        And, if you want to talk about taxpayer funded monopolies, go no further than Apple II's and early Mac's.  Apple deeply discounted their products to schools in order to get students used to their products.

        Microsoft's advantage in business computers, aside from landing the IBM contract, was portability.  MS-DOS could run on literally hundreds of brands of computers, and each of those brands were competing for market share and government/corporate contracts.

        Yes, MS invested in Apple - it saw some competition was better than none.  And to this day, you can still buy MS Office on Apple computers.

        In the real world, there is hardly any competition left in any major industry as most are completely controlled by a few giant companies that know full well that collusion is far more profitable than competition
        For cripes sake..  look at Apple's new markets - iPhone and iPad..  no competition?  The market is being flooded by Android and Win-Phone competition from dozens of corporations - some brand new.
        •  I lived it and it's very well documented. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1

          Further, I wasn't talking about PARC (mouse and GUI) and I didn't say stole ideas, I said stole people's (and other company's) work.

          You do seem to know something about those times, so I if you were interested in knowing the details of how M$ came to be they're readily available. M$ is literally a criminal empire made possible, as with nearly every Big American Corporation from the railroads to GE, through governmental favor and largess.

          Your perception of what happened and to whom is the result of a long campaign of revisionism bought by M$.

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

          by Greyhound on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 12:52:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I lived through it as well (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1

            And made just as much money creating software for Apple computers as for MS, so I really don't have an axe to grind either way.

            Your vague references to MS as a "criminal empire" do not reflect the reality I remember.  Please provide some links.

            •  I didn't get specific because that is not what (0+ / 0-)

              this diary is about. Like you, I made much of my $ working with (more accurately working around) M$ crapware, but nothing working on Apple (frankly I've never liked their stuff and use none of it). I originally came out of SCO and even became semi-famous in the 90's for my work, all of which is meaningless in terms of this topic. But just for giggles consider this; What would you call me if I sold you a product that I did not have, had no claim to, and in fact didn't exist?

              The point is that we are all, every one of us (computer users & geeks) the world over, paying an extraordinarily high price both in terms of actual cost, lost productivity, and severely retarded advancement of the field at large because cronyism superseded competition.

              "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

              by Greyhound on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 11:08:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  "The Wealth of Nations" is as relevant and true (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old bird

    today as it was when it was written.   It should be mandatory reading for all politicians, who meddle too much in which businesses survive the effects of creative destruction.  

    If they concentrated more on setting some basic rules of fairness, and stepped back and left the markets to find their natural places, the economy would recover a lot sooner.  

    Living proof that hard work can raise your apparent skill level.

    by SpamNunn on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:39:40 AM PDT

    •  Actually I doubt that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chipmo, BradyB, ozsea1

      because markets are inherently unfair. As soon as one player exceeds a certain size they can begin to distort 'free' decisions for their own benefit through power imbalances.

      There's formal research that supports this, by the way.

      This is why 'free markets' are a nonsense. The ideas has never worked, and never can work.

      What actually works is a regulated market where there's enough reward for initiative to make innovation worthwhile. Some of that reward may come in the form of government seed spending. (If it's done intelligently, this always seems to work reliably.)

      But players should be limited politically, so they're unable to influence policy through heavy spending, lobbying, and bribery.

      "Be kind" - is that a religion?

      by ThatBritGuy on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:47:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can believe that if you want to. (0+ / 0-)

        We have laws restricting monopolies and trusts to keep any one company from getting too big.  Apart from that, government should stay out of the way.  It shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers and supporting them with tax money.  The market will reward good ideas.

        Living proof that hard work can raise your apparent skill level.

        by SpamNunn on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:19:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Show me the law (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1

          that prevents a company from getting "too big." Sure, absolute monopolies are not allowed, but that doesn't stop any company (Walmart) from pushing around everyone else, lowering prices until no one can compete (then raising them once the other guys are out of the market), and dominating shelf space with exclusive agreements.

          A better product can very rarely emerge without the existing makers' approval. There may be better products, but if the public is never allowed to see them, they cannot become successful.

          "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations

          by old bird on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 07:00:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Too big .. .. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1

            Microsoft would be a good example of this . . .

            •  See "The United States of America v Microsoft". (0+ / 0-)

              It ain't the companies that are to blame if you don't think that the rules are being applied fairly.  The Justice Department works for the President.  

              Living proof that hard work can raise your apparent skill level.

              by SpamNunn on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 09:26:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So the companies don't help craft the laws? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, Saint Jimmy

                I guess you're right, all of the money poured into lobbying efforts by the nations companies are being done for the good of the public, not to be sure that the "rules are being applied" in their version of fairness.

                "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations

                by old bird on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 10:11:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  but each person views it in their own prism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zedaker, ozsea1

      I adopted my sig line a couple weeks ago, so I'm obviously of the same sentiment.

      But Adam Smith also made it very clear that successful owners don't care whether the overall economy is good or bad. In a bad economy the weak players fail, and the ones that can weather the storm do ever better than before. Some view this as a treatise on how to become even more wealthy, and restrict wealth to fewer and fewer people.

      Just as Ayn Rand can be twisted into a goddess of the religious right, despite thinking that organized religion is evil, Adam Smith can be twisted by those who use it as an excuse to put profit above all else.

      "No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations

      by old bird on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:19:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Left-leaning Smith Touted Progressive Taxation (7+ / 0-)

    From Wealth of Nations: “The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

    "The skeleton in the closet is coming home to roost!" Tom Stoppard

    by Apotropoxy on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 05:54:28 AM PDT

  •  Quotable (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robobagpiper, J M F, ozsea1, Saint Jimmy

    "As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce. "

    "I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. "

    "Labour was the first price, the original purchase - money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. "

    "Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. "

    "To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature. "

    "With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches. "

    "The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places." - Ernest Hemmingway

    by nofundy on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:23:40 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for mentioning theory of Moral Sentiments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zedaker, ozsea1

    It's a lesser known work that under-girded his theory of Capitalism, and is conveniently ignored by laissez-faire capitalists, such as the GOP.  Another issue of note is that Smith was also very much a nationalist and would roll over in his grave watching British and American Capitalists outsourcing jobs to foreign countries in the interest of making a buck.  Talk about "corruption of our Moral Sentiments."

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 07:49:56 AM PDT

  •  What is the difference between capitalism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, zedaker, ozsea1

    & feudalism, if you there are no inheritence taxes and people are allowed to become debt-slaves forced to work to pay off debts?

    After all, even in fuedal societies there was the opportunity to become a not-peasant.  In fact, the mobility that the christian church offered was one of the reasons it grew so quickly.

    •  This isn't snark. What is the difference between (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zedaker, ozsea1

      feudalism and capitalims where 'the winners' own everything and have created entry barriers by virute of wealth which is passed down without restriction, and everyone else is drowning in debt with no ability to declare bankruptcy (think student loans.....)?

  •  Great illustration of deregulation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, Saint Jimmy

    Deepwater Horizon and Upper Big Branch. Well-framed. Dems should hammer this home.

  •  imagine the earth as a giant ship (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, Ms Citizen, ozsea1

    now imagine the captains are being paid to crash the ship, as long as passengers in first class are saved; and the 99% in steerage drown, the voyage is considered successful!

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

    by mollyd on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 08:50:01 AM PDT

  •  Some issues (0+ / 0-)

    a) Citing Liebknecht as an authority on free markets is roughly analogous to dragging in an assessment from Milton Friedman about socialist economies.

    b) I'd have more confidence in all this if I thought the diarist had actually worked his way through all of Wealth of Nations and Theory of Moral Sentiments. As is, a couple of quotes don't remotely do justice to his thinking, not to mention that there is nothing in either of them that couldn't be found in Aristotle's Politics or Plato's Republic. Neither quote does anything to illustrate what Smith thought about his 'system of natural liberty' (Smith's words; Smith never used the term capitalism, which really came into use a Marxist term of opprobrium). In a nutshell: given an imperfect world of actual human nature and imperfect moral impulses, free markets can square the desires for liberty and the necessity for the wherewithal to secure both liberty and the means for personal happiness. Obviously all of that needs discussion, but Smith is not the caricature or saint generally portrayed by either leftists or rightists.

    c) If consumers have negligible influence over business decisions, then it's hard to see why New Coke failed, why AOL is a shadow of its former self, and why Rush Limbaugh is losing advertisers. At minimum, the original statement needs work.

    d) A small thing, but—it makes no sense to give page numbers for Adam Smith without stating which actual published book is being quoted from, as there is no canonical edition of Wealth of Nations. I own 2 different editions, and p. 94 of Book I is different in each, and neither contains the quote in the diary attributed to that location.

  •  Adam Smith's biggest qualifier on capitalism: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zedaker, ozsea1

    Traditional economics almost completely ignores this issue, but Adam Smith understood that raw or naked capitalism would inevitably degenerate into a vicious orgy of socially destructive selfishness, unless it was leavened and moderated by a higher moral value system.

    Smith, a very devout Christian, assumed and explicitly stated that religion, specifically Christian charity, would soften the rough edges of capitalism and prevent it from becoming socially ruinous.

    Sadly, he was wrong. And becoming 'wronger' with every passing year.

    •  I'm sorry, Smith was not (0+ / 0-)

      a very devout Christian, or after he finished university a Christian at all. There is a controversy whether he was a deist or an outright atheist.

      What he thought helped in restraining the excesses of capitalism was government regulation, under the influence of god-free "moral sentiments"—and happily, he was right (although it's never as much as is needed, and sometimes a lot less).

      What did you do in the class war, Daddy?

      by Yastreblyansky on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:26:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What happens to capitalism when no-one has to work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yastreblyansky

    because you have robots or chineese sweat-shops doing everything for all-but-free...???

    If you can't answer this, you don't have an economic system.

    •  For Smith and Marx (0+ / 0-)

      and the labor theory, it would mean the stuff no longer has value. The capitalists still pay people to sit in their cubicles playing Angry Birds and planning their vacations, though, because somebody still has to consume all that garbage.

      What did you do in the class war, Daddy?

      by Yastreblyansky on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:31:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't they let us off early? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yastreblyansky

        If part of the point is to get things done with less effort, why not simply distribute the rewards of that endeavor more evenly through a shorter work week and longer vacations, at least?  If the reason there's unemployment is that there's simply less work to be done, well, aren't things working out correctly?

        The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

        by Panurge on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 10:38:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's not why there's unemployment! (0+ / 0-)

          There's tons of work to be done, and I don't just mean feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and ending malaria and stopping global warming. Real work goes into the stuff the 1% enjoy--bespoke shoes, tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, quality acoustic instruments--and the rest of us could use some of that. But capital doesn't like that kind of talk. Capital likes unemployment because it keeps workers in line, and it likes perpetual improvements in productivity because they mean more profit, and when higher productivity means more unemployment capital thinks that's just dandy until--oops!--there's so much unemployment that there isn't any market any more, and then capital goes to the government and gets a bailout.

          What did you do in the class war, Daddy?

          by Yastreblyansky on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 07:05:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Not "Darwinian" but "Social Darwinism"... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old bird, Yastreblyansky

    I believe.

    Darwin said, "survival of the FIT."

    Social Darwinism says: "survival of the FITTEST."

    Darwin simply says that they that are fit enough to reproduce, survive.

    The Social Darwinists extended that to an unrealistic and unnecessary competition to support their own capitalist views that there must always be "a" winner.

    Actually, no. There can be many winners and only a very few losers relatively speaking for evolution to "work".

    Starting place:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Thx,

    --UB.

    "Daddy, every time a bell rings, a Libertaria­n picks up his Pan Am tickets for the Libertaria­n Paradise of East Somalia!"

    by unclebucky on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 11:52:53 AM PDT

    •  They say the same thing, really. (0+ / 0-)

      After all, what's the threshhold for being one of the "fittEST"?  (BTW, AIUI, the phrase is actually from Alfred Russel Wallace.  I guess "survival of those sufficiently fitted to their environment" just isn't as elegant a phrase, though that's plainly what he meant.)

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 10:41:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellently written & thought provoking... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1

    This is the type of article that should provide civil debate on the subject but probably won't because  "conservatives are never wrong." It's a shame.

    All philosophies have certain valid points. All philosophies followed to their logical conclusions is hazardous for mankind overall.

    by Captain Chaos on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 12:15:51 PM PDT

  •  First diary on capitalism I've ever recced here. (4+ / 0-)
    In the last generation [...] conservatives have done their best to paint liberals and Dems as anti-capitalist, "unlimited big-government spenders", who will happily turn America into the next Marxist state.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth...

    I've long thought about writing my own diary on capitalism and the problems of libertarianism, but balked because I suspect that I'll get hammered for not being critical enough.  This is the first diary on the subject that hasn't made me uncomfortable with self indulgent redefinitions of capitalism.

    You know, I was watching Spartacus on HBO again last night, watching Spartacus preach about freedom to the slaves, and as inspiring as it was, I suddenly thought, "Hey.  Wait.  What are they going to replace it with?"  Slavery was essential to the global economy of the time.  Adam Smith was 1800 years in the future.  Take slavery away from the Romans, and you would no longer have slaves to grow crops for the cities, slaves to mine the quarries, roads to move the food and other goods, galleys to move goods and services to places offshore otherwise uninhabitable.  

    NOW, we know and understand that slavery was an awful system and that there was a reasonable way to not do that.  But two thousand years ago, somebody saying they wanted to abolish slavery would have sounded like a madman nihilist who didn't understand the practical aspects of how the world works.

    And this is how morality develops to justify the way things are, or, at least, seem that they have to be.  Slavery as a system was accepted.  Even by slaves, although few slaves, I'm sure, relished being slaves and wouldn't have preferred to be masters.  Those children of the master class who grew up watching their fathers beat the slaves for not carrying him on a palanquin more gently formed their justifications for the seeming natural order of things early on, and absorbed much of it from their parents and passed it on.  Slaves, too, had their own sets of  morals to justify and make proper their existence, an existence they couldn't change.  That's how it always goes.

    In the early part of US history, the south practiced slavery.  A whole morality and religious justification evolved in the south to justify the better lifestyle of the masters.  We still hear some of that, today, as well.  The children of Ham were condemned to be carriers of water because Ham saw his father naked -- something like that.  When you are eager to justify "the way the world just has to work," it seems natural to find and pull things like that out of your religious text and use them to explain difficult inequities.  

    See, they would say, it's not that we are being unfair to slaves, but that the world was made this way, so that they must be slaves, and I must be a master, and but for God's toss of the dice, it might be the other way around.  So quit bitching, slave, and tote that cotton!

    When the great defenders of capitalism on the right produce their own rationalizations of this sort to justify a slanted system designed (important word -- designed) to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, they carry on in a great tradition that goes back thousands of years.

    However, if you really get involved at the think tank level in the libertarian justifications for laissez-faire capitalism, things emerge that conflict with the maintenance of a society for the rich by the rich.  

    For instance, tort laws.  How can you have this beautiful "natural selection" of the market place if there is no market place because people can take money for goods and services that aren't what they are purported to be?  Ah.  There you go.  You need courts, and you need a fair trial process so people can sue each other for violating contracts.  That's essential to even the most anarcho-libertarian conception of capitalism.  

    And yet the right wants tort reform to make it harder for people to sue people (like health insurers) who take their money and then don't cough up the goods they paid for.  Which is theft.

    That's not Adam Smith capitalism.  That's just another form of the rich defending their right to be rich, and richer than you.  All the rationalizations about the natural logic of the market place turn out to be self-serving and insincere platitudes , just like those of the Southern Baptists quoting the Bible about Ham's sons.

    And what about damage done during the course of business to customers?  Should you be able to sell a product that you know will or may kill your customer -- without telling him?  (Pure laissez-faire libertarians would always, of course, defend your right to sell things that DO kill your customers as long as you tell them that up front.)  If you allow that kind of fraud, what happens to the marketplace, that beautiful "natural selection" marketplace, when people can't buy things in the marketplace without putting their families lives at risk?  

    The marketplace suffers.  When one guy gets rich selling poisons as medicines in the marketplace, everybody else that wants to sell real medicine suffers.  And the consumers, who die, of course.  If the rewards for honest businessmen are lower than those for dishonest ones, then the whole "natural selection" thing has become a toxic.  

    A central question in libertarian laissez-faire ideology is, how much is a human life worth.  Monetarily.  That may sound crude, but it's a real economic and legal question.  Once you acknowledge that a human life is its owner's property, his own capital, then depriving somebody of his life becomes, at the very least... a tort!  And if human life is valuable, which most people would say of their own life, then it must be a damned expensive tort.  Anything else runs headfirst into the indispensible capitalist notion of private property.  

    And yet we hear people on the right who want to make it harder to sue companies that injure or kill people.  "We need a culture of personal responsibility!"  They sling that phrase around, "personal responsibility," as if it's a more grown up and practical way of viewing things, necessary to capitalism, so McDonalds can sell hot coffee without being sued.

    In reality, this runs contrary to the intent and practice of capitalism.  It's not capitalism at all, but just one more version of "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine, too."  And the justifications amount to just more "Ham's children."

    Union Carbide Bhopal Disaster, 1984.  Four thousand dead, half a million injured.  Now how much is a tort like that, worth?

    Much of the legal case against Union Carbide STILL isn't resolved because of the enormous mess that is the Indian judicial system.  

    In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by law.
    What about the personal capital of each of those people that were killed or injured by Union Carbide?  How is that capitalism?  It's not.  It's just a system to make Union Carbide rich and the people who they injure or kill into collateral damage.  Two thousand dollars.

    Oh, there are so many examples like the one above.  Yet, the most strident defenders of "capitalism," in quotes, are anxious for tort reform to make it harder for Americans to sue large corporations who do the same here.  The meaning of capitalism has been altered, in this case, to mean "pro-corporate under all circumstances."

    I don't think its unfair to lay a great deal of that at the feet of Ayn Rand.  She laid out her grand vision of capitalism in the book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (co-authored with Alan Greenspan when he was a young right-wing pup).  Her deeper motivations can be easily teased out of her fiction, though, books like Atlas Shrugged.  In Ayn Rand's vision of "capitalism," the producers of the goods are the martyrs of the world, defending themselves valiantly against the clever poor who want to take away their ideas and property just because they want it.  In Ayn Rand's world, the rich are the way they are because they are more MORAL people (and yes, she does put it exactly that way).  The system MUST protect the wealthy -- whom she illustrates as individualist geniuses rather than corporate hacks who inherited their daddy's job and feel entitled to it.  That bias becomes the launching point for things like... tort reform and deregulation.  Just unleash the power of the marketplace, and they'll transform the world, as John Galt and the other super-geniuses prepare to do at the end of Atlas Shrugged.

    Once again, we have a moral justification for a system that benefits those who already receive the most benefits, justifying, "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine."  And underneath it, a thin veneer of "laissez-faire" capitalism."  Capitalism that is capitalism when it benefits me and my class, but is big government whenever it tries to create a fair and just playing ground when it involves those at the bottom.  

    We cede the word "capitalism" too easily around here.  The battles we are waging aren't against capitalism.  It's against plutocracy that uses buzz phrases from Atlas Shrugged to justify an economic system that benefits them.

    So are we like the slaves in Spartacus?  Spartacus really had no plan except fighting Roman soldiers, which was kind of neat but really dumb.  Are we like the slaves who accept their lot in life because that's the way it has always been and always will and maybe we'll get a better master next time?  

    Or are we capitalists, too, who can point to Adam Smith and say, "Hey, wait a minute.  This system you're trying to tell us we can't change is bullshit.  You guys just want to enrich yourself at everybody else's expense without earning it.  You don't deserve it for being more MORAL than the rest of us.  There's nothing moral about killing people with your products, lying about your products, stealing goods and services from your customers, and buying up the government to protect yourselves from justice."

    The remedies that we require aren't really that radical.  I think the most radical progressive position you can take re: the economy is to make it closer to the real capitalist ideal.

  •  Adam Smith: Often Cited, Seldom Read (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, Yastreblyansky, Bob Guyer

    Many would be surprised to learn that in the Wealth of Nations, Smith talked about the "mean rapacity"  and "the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers"  who he said "neither are, nor ought to be, the rulers of mankind" (Book IV, Chapter 3, Paragraph 38).

    Regarding the capitalist class's involvement in government, this is what he had to say:

    "The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.  It comes from an order of men whose interests in never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it" (Book I, Chapter 11, Paragraph 264).

    He was also an advocate of free public education.

    •  Nice find Anthony (0+ / 0-)

      I tried to read Wealth of Nations cover to cover and failed. I skipped around a lot and read about 1/2 of it. Thanks for the good quote.

      Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

      by Bob Guyer on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 09:15:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If a hand is invisible (0+ / 0-)

    ...maybe it isn't there?

    Emperor's new clothes, etc

    www.tapestryofbronze.com

    by chloris creator on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 09:04:06 PM PDT

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