Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Fruits of Inequality

In the US as most everyone knows inequality is pretty extreme.  We've become much more unequal during the last 30 years.  The right wing tells us we shouldn't be concerned.  These are the incentives that lead the Horatio Alger's to pull themselves up by their own boostraps and make something of themselves.  True enough, fear of poverty probably does drive a lot of people to succeed financially.  But let's not forget the downside.  Inequality has a huge effect on the way justice is administered.

Aaron Schwartz probably committed a crime when he downloaded scholarly articles in an effort to make them available to the poor so that the knowledge might improve their condition.  OK, it's a crime, and if the justice system wants to punish him for it I guess I think that would be wrong, but whatever.  Fine him and let's move on.  Well, it didn't work that way.  He was looking at 35 years in prison for it.  This for a crime that the victims (JSTOR, who he took the articles from) didn't think he should be punished.  Ultimately Schwartz committed suicide and his parents tell us basically the prosecutors pursuing this kind of sentencing drove him to it.

That's justice for one rung of our society.  What is it for bankers?  Our banking system crashed our economy and the economy of most of the world by doing a combination of legal and illegal things.  They got super rich doing it.  The rest paid the price.  In this excellent Frontline documentary we learn about how the Obama justice department simply shielded top level banking executives from justice.  Even Reagan prosecuted upper level officials during the Savings and Loan crisis, which caused less damage.  Even that limited justice is a thing of the past.  Notice via Greenwald that the Obama administration is livid that any media outlet would do actual journalism and investigate it's abuses, so they've vowed to never work with Frontline again, which is all the more reason PBS needs our support.

More recently HSBC was revealed to have been laundering money for terrorist organizations.  The consequence?  They paid a fine and moved on.  Is that supposed to be a disincentive?  If I engage in massive crimes but the company I work for has to pay the consequences, what do I care?

But this is exactly what you should expect in a country as unequal as the US and I suppose that's pretty much what you get in other countries that have similar levels of inequality.  Martin Luther King said that peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice.  Justice shouldn't be expected in our country, and so we aren't surprised that it isn't present.  Of course this has been going on for a long time.  There's a reason half the prison population is black even though their crime rates aren't much different from the rest of the population.  But we can see that it gets continually more extreme.  For the rich laundering money for terrorists or crashing the world economy doesn't even merit a slap on the wrist.  Sharing knowledge with the poor which was paid for a public expense?  For that you get 35 years.


Examinator said...

A very interesting program. On an *emotional * , 'as a 'citizen or even at a common sense level I'm convinced that there were illegalities involved even at the highest levels.
Rightfully, the legal system is based on the PRESUMPTION of innocence in a criminal case the 'crime must be PROVEN * “BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT”*. That means that means the case has to be watertight . All it would take is a good Attorney ( read a team of lawyers, para legals , researchers and PI's , forensic accountants and perhaps 100 people all with specialised jobs) to raise ONE DOUBT in the chain and 1 jury member to have doubt and the case is dismissed.
In the case of Private/ damages suits the burden of proof is 'PREPONDERANCE' i.e. somewhere over 51% of guilt. Hence in the OJ Simpson case criminal he was found 'not guilty' there was a doubt in some of the minds of the jury. Yet the private suit was successful.
Don't underestimate the difference that makes.
To me the Journalist /interviewer was ' making' a story (giving it emotional resonance for ratings purposes) rather than being objective by constantly emphasising the above three irrelevant factors. In one sense I can see why some Govt officials are upset .However that doesn't justify their OVER the top reaction.

Playing devils advocate for a moment have you any idea how much money would have been needed to fund *a * criminal case against the upper echelons of any of these banks ? Keep in mind the banks all help fund the cases too. You would be looking at a $billion per case and even then there would be no guarentee of a conviction. You also see all sort of delaying programs that would mean the case would go, in the absence of a plea deal for decades. The public would quickly tire of the delays and expenses. Most of the public don't understand the “computer coding law” that would apply to Legal case history (precedents etc, case law) .
Broadly speaking the “law” states that for every 1000 lines of code there is 10% of unknown conflicts (bugs) .
Consider the law libraries and the number of previous arcane laws and cases!
For example consider CURRENT fire arm laws . The republicans have stopped a permanent head to the FA controlling organization. They have neutered/prevented the mandatory reporting etc by slipping in clauses in funding bills. Keep in mind some laws are several hundred pages long and one *clause * may be in gobbldy gook and easily missed .

Examinator said...

Anyway the defence is entitled to submit these arcane laws/ judgements etc , change the intended meaning and hold up the cases as they they work through the court system to the supreme court for adjudication.
e.g. the second amendment if taken literally would preclude free for all weapons we have today. It was arcane/ obscure judgements and party allegiances that has cemented the current meaning.
An example or the exploitation of these areas was the case of the Convicted Murderer Carol Chessman who spent decades on death row as he ferreted through the system stopping his execution.
When the prosecution sopeana documentation a common defence strategy is what's called a paper blizzard.
i.e. a singe email might be buried it Terrabytes of unsorted loose paper documents. As someone who has dealt with insolvencies I can attest that a major bank stores 100's of 1000's of documents and that doesn't include the unsorted digital information. e.g. While required to keep the computer card punch cards for years not so the means to read them. Or a well placed magnet in a data storage room say on the master index file tape or back ups.
Also the prosecution is fighting the 'computer “glitches” (sic)' that lose significant pieces of documentary evidence. Again it's one thing to know of an email that shows the smoking gun but another thing to find it.

All in all I'm disgusted but as the the man said Greed is immoral but with the way the law is applied it's either very difficult to prove illegality. In short it's more the system that has reached it's use-by date.
Of course there's a political level to having a party biased head of a Government department. Add to that that the best money goes to the smartest best resourced attorneys and only the richest can afford them. In that sense the equity divide is entrenched.

Jon said...

Yeah, I don't disagree with the thrust of your point. Convicting the rich is really hard. It's been done of course. Take the S&L crisis for example. So I think there's a bit more going on than just the fact that convincing the jury is hard. I read an excerpt from a book by Ron Suskind called "The Education of the President." In the first days of the Obama administration he basically told the bankers that he was the only one standing between them and the pitch forks. They gave him a bunch of right wing BS about how capping their salaries would be a mistake and he said "Look, the public's not buying it, so just shut up and do as I say if you want to survive this thing." He's actively in their corner.

What you say is true of course. Convicting the rich is always hard. And as inequality expands this trend will only get worse. This is an aspect I think the right wing doesn't consider when they talk about inequality. They talk about how you don't want to punish success. They don't consider that the justice system unravels. So you have to balance incentives against the numerous negative consequences.

Examinator said...

Chad don't read this it contains foreign concepts ( like consequences, context and more than one thought at a time) and obscene language (like social responsibility, accountability, moral integrity and caring for those you don't know)

there are a few wrinkles that you need to factor in when talking about the fate of S&L and comparing it to the GFC. The S&L debacle was trivial by comparison to the GFC, in quantum, who were involved and the effects on the World Wide Banking System. The sophistication and scale of the shenanigans of the GFC derivatives fraud was orders of magnitude greater.
Notwithstanding the key differences were in philosophy or the thinking that rationalised the two incidents.
As the Arsehole (ass being a donkey, dumb and obstinate, and this guy was the source of sh*t, god bless the English language) from Citibank . His argument was pure Chad (right wing myopic thinking )on steroids.
i.e. it's not my responsibility to consider the consequences of a product (debt swaps) once they're sold. (pure amoral Caveat Emptor). All that mattered was that they weren't specifically illegal (loop hole) and it was the ratings agency that gave them a high rating. Not *my * fault I'm simply doing business within the confines of the interpretation of the law as massaged by their the legal teams. ( he didn't want to mention the skulduggery that 'greased' the wheels for this to happen) . As I indicated with the dubious means of neutering the Existing fire arm laws! Technically speaking he didn't breach the Black letter law.
Fundamental to the above mind set it Chad's mentality ( Either Black or White i.e. it's either *arguably * legal or not. The mental contortions and morality to arrive at the conclusion is Somebody Else's Problem.....translation ….The end justifies the means!) e.g. it's not how you made the money it's that you have that's important.

The emphasis on money and how it has permeated the Western culture and legality is interesting.
For example we are either innocent or guilty (you are either an angel or a villain) as far as the right wing are concerned ( only in Scotland is the third option are neither guilty or innocent)
Yet when it comes to money i.e. private suits for damages the concept of preponderance (degree) is valid.
Hence businesses are either guilty of malfeasance or not. In reality a disaster like an air crash , car accident or the GFC reality dictates that the most likely culprit is not one CEO (or all CEOs) but rather a cumulated effect of SEVERAL quasi legal( not enough to hang anyone on) decisions. In truth the media is a classic example of this “pushing the boundaries” to make ones product be noticed. The tendency is to out do ones opposition. In advertising /marketing terms that means stating the good bits but ignoring the not so or bad. i.e. Crispy flakes has 60% less salt or 20% fat ….but no mention of two tablespoons of sugar per serve.
The US manufacturers have stopped ingredient lists per se and claim caveat emptor.

Examinator said...

The derivatives were simply an extension of that thinking. i.e. “it is not up to bankers to advise of all the down falls of debt swaps because they argued their clients were sophisticated and informed buyers” sadly that argument was entrenched by a party philosophy biased supreme court.
Ergo I'm arguing two points . First that business especially in USA is becoming less and less accountable for it's actions. It's power is such that it dictates people lives etc. To hell with the government acting as Big brother they are still trying to catch up with the excesses of Feral Capitalism.

If you was proportional crimes or lack there of look at the music copyright law. e.g. nearly 100 years ago two old biddies wrote 'Happy Birthday' as it was running out of copyright a multi National bought the rights then with other music Corps had the government increase the copy right and expand ownership rights. Tell me how is the little old biddies advantaged? They are long dead and the 4 generation on were making millions . Now the corp expects to make 100's of millions by ? Getting the government to increase beyond all proportion the damages.. e.g. one woman in England recently down loaded 8 songs of a 1960's long forgotten singer(rightly so.. he stunk) whose records are not available, for her own use. But the corp bankrupted the 68yo woman by gaining $300000 damages and $150000 court fees. In fact one company's best profit center is suing small time people for the above issues. (again the issue is Black or white)
Yet they have managed to limit claims made against them by using the notion of proportionality. i.e. yes the corporation was guilty of some wrongful actions but they occurred as a cumulative effect of many people's minor actions. i.e. the executive didn't actually break any laws just put pressure so that lessor people would.
My point there is Feral Capitalism has polluted all facets of human interest culture, legal, health care even the biblical notions of love thy neighbor and do unto others as you would have done to you. ….morality.
The greatest breachers of the bill of rights and the amendments are by or instigated by FERAL capitalism.
PS Chad I know, I know I'm gonna burn in hell. ;-P

Chad said...

JC - Funny, but not a surprise, you point your finger of judgement in the direction offnthe right wing when the absolutely biggest culprits in using wealth to avoid criminal prosecution is by Liberals. Especially in politics and the Entertainment side of things. If your going to swing that heavy axe and want your arguement to be taken seriously, you should try and not be so bias. Besides where is the proof that some of the actors in these situations are not progressives/liberals?

Besides Jon your ticked about certain laws and a set of people that use wealth to their advantage (wealth hating again) but yet you have absolutely no problem with 12 million illegal citizens breaking the law by being here illegally. How many laws do illegal citizens break every single day they are here, but that is okay of course.

I like sensible laws and rules, but I like it more when ALL the laws are enforced.

I'll make a deal with you, max sentence for businesses breaking the laws if we can find, capture, arrest and deport 12 million illegals. Deal?

Jon said...

Chad, of course I agree that any liberals involved in the kinds of crimes that collapsed our economy should be prosecuted. My point is not that conservatives get away with crimes and liberals don't  My point is the wealthy get away with crimes and the poor don't, and yes that can include wealthy liberals. You don't like wealth redistribution. You talk about how it's a disincentive. People need to be encouraged to work hard. Fine, you're right, I agree to a point. But do you notice the down side? Do you notice the two tiered justice system? And it's really extreme, right. Crashing an economy and funneling money for terrorist groups seems pretty serious, but no consequences, whereas downlaoding a few songs can lead to you getting your life ruined.

Yes, you're right, I have no problem with 12 million illegals. I have no problem with Aaron Schwartz attempting to make scholarly articles available to people in poor countries so they can have a better life. I have no problem with people smoking a joint. I understand if people disagree with me. If the law does punish these people a little I can understand that. Reasonable people can disagree. But here's where I think we ought to both agree. If a family flees Mexico due to gun violence created by the US government (fast and furious) or because of poverty that results from NAFTA (US subsidies corn floods the market and creates a million unemployed farmers) that is a crime if they do it illegally. We agree. If there's some punishment from our government I may not like it and I may think the law is wrong, but I at least understand it. But shouldn't bankers that committed crimes and crashed our economy as a result have consequences too? Shouldn't bankers that funnel money for terrorist groups have consequences too? Isn't that not only a greater crime, it's a FAR greater crime than fleeing a country because of poverty or threat. But the later are punished and the former aren't. Why? Inequality. So if you want to talk about how you oppose redistribution of wealth that's fine,, but at least take a look at the consequences. A totally perverted justice system.

And Ex, yeah, some of what the bankers did was legal. But a whole lot was illegal. Banks did have a legal requirement to verify that the loans they offered could reasonably be expected to be paid back. They had a legal requirement to be honest with their clients when they sold things like CDO's to them. To sell them to clients saying they are great, then turn around and place bets that they would fail, is in fact illegal, and this is what they did. The reason is illegal is because we know it leads preccisely to the consequences we experienced. People losing their homes, losing their jobs and livelihood. Much more severe than anybody that wasn't paid because someone downloaded some song from the past and the artist is no longer alive but the corporation wants the money. You can see where Chad thinks the law should focus. Punish the poor minority person. Punish the Mexican for being hungry. He's never said one word about the 15 mansions owned by a banking executive which he acquired by destroying everyone else's life. A strange attitude, but unfortunately not uncommon in the US which is so saturated with corporate propaganda. People that are paid to do the bidding for the wealthy.

Examinator said...

I warned you not to read the debate! That it contained nuances, contexts and multipoint reasoning!
Oh well caveat emptor. :-)

You really are monocular. Nobody hates the rich that's as silly as saying that I blame people I don't know and under contexts I don't understand ...oh wait that's your line.
Chad, when will it sink in that neither Jon or I hate the rich nor do we particularly envy them.
You are projecting YOUR values not ours.
I'm not about blaming anybody merely pointing out that some ABUSE THEIR POWER to avoid being accountable and that is unfair/ unjust and in my view wrong.

I am equally as critical of the ACTIONS of poorer person who say kicks a child/ or bashes the crap out of his wife. It's the ACTION we deplore not some group (any group) in society. As springsteen said there are angels and ass holes on every street (and in every demographic)
Simply put, Bad behavior is bad behavior regardless of Who does it.

I've raised my doubts about Martin Luther King Jr as being a role model BECAUSE he was a very flawed person and frankly I wouldn't want my children to grow up like him. I would like them to do some of his finer acts. The action isn't the person.
e.g. You shit (hopefully regularly) does that make you shit? of course not. We all do good things and some bad things. that's being human. just because a person is rich or poor should bear no relationship to the person they are.

Most of the religions of the world (other than feral capitalism) doesn't draw separate lines of behavior or morality depending on their net worth i.e. because a person is rich or poor he /she is accordingly the golden rule. It applies to EVERYONE.

Examinator said...

Sadly what you say is true but it has to be proved. I have concerns with the Guilty or not Black or white mentality that the right advocate because it gives them the false simplicity they crave.
I think it's interesting that they cry no mercy black or white .....untill it's them and the reasoning changes dramatically.
Remember that fire and Brimstone Telly evangelist, Baker a few years back got sprung not doing what he preached. up until then he was black or white but when it came to him he pleaded that everybody else was to blame except him, even the devil. The truth is his ego got so big he couldn't keep his pants up.
The problem still remains that what they did wasn't necessarily against the laws that existed at the time. Immoral...absolutely in their outward protestations but illegal hmmmm? I wait to see more substantiated facts.
Keep in mind that like the firearm laws (20) and the department to control them the manufacturers, their corrupting of the political system and the Republican congress stooges put through amendments some buried in funding bills that restrict that stop the laws being policed!
I wouldn't be surprised if the same stooges have neutered the fiscal over sight laws. They have been systematically winding back the New Deal provisions.
Things like the Marshall Plan couldn't get through nor could it operate today BECAUSE of the above unwinding.

On the drug problem in Mexico let's not forget that the reason the cartels/gangs exist is because good old Americans citizens buy their drugs. Be they entertainers, Executives who offer cocaine, the college kid who buys the weed, the gang banger or the Good ole boys/ caravan park trash etc. It makes no difference we're all to blame.
I'd suggest that much of it is because of the inequity in society. And the jails for trivial offences is to make money pure and simple...Yep it's legal but moral? I'm not that sure.

Chad said...

JC - No arguement that any banker or business committing a crime should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Chad said...

And the abuse of power your outlining is not relegated just to the rich on the banking or private sector side, some of - if not the biggest abuse of power - is done by politicians. The very politicians or should I say government that you'd prefer have more power. Turn your investigative eye on the EPA for a while if you want to see what ultimate unchecked power gets you.

On the other hand let's think about Phil Mickleson - 63% of his income is stolen from him every year, why should he not get a pass on a speeding ticket or a parking ticket? Hasn't he and others already over paid his debt to all society? Should I apologize for making a couple calls to get my wife's moving violation (violating the median) dismissed?

I don't have 1% of Phil's wealth, but I am heavily involved in the community I used that to save a couple hundred bucks - not apologizing because I pay in more and I use many of these services far less.

Chad said...

But when your talking the big federal type crimes - that is a different level and they should go down if guilty regardless of their status.

Chad said...

How about the millions scamming the government? I don't have any numbers, but between illegals and the probably 25 million scammers - that is 37 million people committing illegal acts and costing trillions of dollars, who is the bigger problem? A couple rich folks who commit some white collar crime or 37 million free loaders? I know it doesn't fit the narrative, but I am on our side when it comes to the white collar crimes - put them all in jail, but then we need to do the same thing at the bottom as well.

Examinator said...

You really must be getting splinters in your butt from all that riding on your broomstick horse. Personally I gave mine up around 4.
Stop wandering into distractions ...the EPA?
it has nothing to do with the conversation.
Neither is anybody saying that the perversion of the system is *unique* to *bankers* either!
Nor are we saying it is unique to the Republican side of politics! gees, get with the game.
We are saying that the LEVEL/Degree (egregious) inequities (as opposed to equality) both in social terms and the law, are being done those who can best afford it.
There is no doubt that many 'elected' Congress persons are tainted by the need to have donations to get elected. In real terms many should in theory be prosecuted or sacked for dereliction of duty or just doing a god awful job).
But beyond that the root corrupting force is the need to accept /seek donations that clearly have strings and expectations.
within the parameters of this discussion the alleged excesses of the EPA are simply another topic, its causes are different.
As Jon and a lot of other thinkers have pointed out the US is trying to run its self according to laws and criteria that is at least 200+ years out of date.In the case of the Law/legal system well beyond that i.e. Using messenger pigeons and lord of the manor thinking/systems in the post digital age.

Examinator said...

Chad your last comment is absurd on so many grounds.
It is pure hyperbole, "white stick thinking".

34 million scammers really? no one is saying that everyone on social security is bona fide.
From a sheer math perspective you are showing that you really don't understand the quantum of the GFC.
Some credible estimates put the fraud in terms of 5years of the TOTAL WORLDS GDP.
The financial system WORLD Wide are fearful of the hidden debts still out there on banks books .

By comparison the US unemployment benefits/ single mums benefits etc are what? a 10-15% of the US budget not it's GDP and certainly not on the page with the world's GDP. Get real old chap try and think things through before wandering into hyperbolic discreditable distraction.
From an economy perspective the US NEEDS money to be SPENT and it needs wealth distribution without which it would collapse into a iron age mess. really, read some more basic economics.
FACT the economy couldn't exist if it was to be solely dependant on the expenditure and consumerism of the rich.

Logic dictates that 80% of the worlds resources (give or take)is consumed by 20% and shrinking of the people and 1-10% own those resources.It is also fact that the mega wealthy tend to spend less of their wealth than the middle class. It stands to reason then this 1-10% can't consume enough to support the world wide economy ergo ?
Add to that the earth is finite abstract 'fiat money' isn't.
Sooner than latter the value of money drops e.g. the US $ survives only because it is a base exchange...Since Clinton the US$ has devalued to the point that the A$ has gone from around being 80ish cents US, to where it is US $1.06 ish = A$1
If all the still hidden bad paper debts were exposed hmmmm! what ever it is it's not going to be good.

Anybody with *better* knowledge want to dispute this. Clearly Chad your understanding is less than mine and that isn't perfect to decimal places but it is the gist of the topic

Jon said...

Just a quick comment here Chad so that my point is clear. Of course the rich will try to avoid punishment for a crime. So would I. So would the poor. I'm not complaining about that. What I'm saying as that as inequality expands the justice system gets more and more perverse. That's natural. So when you talk about inequality you have to acknowledge the down side. I'll acknowledge the up side. Incentives are important. But can you acknowledge that as inequality gets more and more extreme the justice system simply breaks down. That's all there is to it. OJ is reach enough to avoid jail. That's the downside of inequality. I accept some of that. But it's getting really extreme now and inequality is much worse. The super rich, who as Ex pointed out committed a crime that is VASTLY more destructive than whatever a hungry Mexican did by crossing our border, not only aren't convicted of crimes. They aren't even charged. They are actively shielded by the Obama justice department. Justice becomes a joke. People completely lose respect for our justice system. That's where we are. It is a consequence of inequality.

Jon said...

Ex, I understand your point that we can't assume bankers committed crimes since it hasn't been proved in court. And we'll never be able to prove it, will we, since the bankers own the justice department. Catch-22 I guess. Based on what I've seen from experts though I think they did commit crimes. Actually we know HSBC did commit crimes because they agreed to pay the fine. No jail time of course. Anyway, like I said, I'm convinced they did commit crimes and this blog post of course assumes they did. If you don't accept that claim then I guess you wouldn't think my argument here is valid.

Chad said...

JC - I think that your miss understanding sir. I am actually on your side here - a law is a law and people breaking those laws should absolutely be 100% be prosecuted and I understand what your saying in that money sometimes buys freedom (like OJ). Although I would argue OJ's freedom was less about his money/famous status and more a productive of reverse racism. I am not in favor of letting these bad actors at any level off the hook.

All I was pointing out was the fact that once it is decided to prosecute these CEO's and bankers for their crimes - which again I am on board doing, we need to uphold all the laws as well.

A hungry Mexican individually no, but 12 million illegals (all nationalities) as a collective are extremely harmful to the citizens of the US probably equally to the bankers and CEO's if not worse (my belief). Then when you add in The millions committing fraud or taking money from the government (private enterprise) that number is most certainly more damaging both in the short and long term then any banker or CEO is all I was pointing out.

Examinator said...

I agree with you almost entirely.
HSBC is a separate case and the middle managers who perpetrated the crimes have been arrested.
The bank exec's, personally, is another issue. I find it virtually incomprehensible that they weren't aware of the Mischief.
The over arching point I was making is that the Business system (vulture/Feral Capitalism), The legal system and the electoral/governmental system are failing in their intent.

WE ALL AGREE agree that the banks/bankers while (maybe) acting within the LETTER or the law it is patently clear they weren't and still aren't acting in the SPIRIT of the law as it was intended.

None of institutions of governments are able to run as intended because of a minority.

One hears lot of arguments that we have to stick with the known because the unknown is full of scary things(the conservative mantra)that might bite. It seems to me that the current failing system is already allowing a minority of Homo sapiens, westerners, Americans to destroy themselves.
I fail to fully understand why given the appalling state of (sorry Chad) the USA included, WORLD, that careful change WOULDN'T be Better.

e.g. Perhaps some genius can explain to me, (I'm reasonably smart) how any of the follow; AGW, pollution, and M.A.D. are improvements. All the other things 'advancements' are are externalities. Only someone with white stick reasoning (if I can't understand it it then it doesn't exist).
even blind Freddy can see that the underpinning of the criminal legal system is well bronze age thinking.
It's interesting to note that civil law which delivers on justice as opposed to revenge is far more sensible/workable for humans.
Consider the difference in the case of prosecuting the bankers. instead of being the 'conservative notion of ALL OR NOTHING the dept of Justice could render exactly that Justice or in the original term equity.
This all or nothing means several things i.e. all they need is one juror to have reasonable(?) doubt...WTF does that mean? the common man? which common man Chad thinks he's a common man and he's a 'hangin'(biased minority and proud of it ...his words)judge.
proof is often well beyond the competence of the common man to understand. The world has moved on and become so specialised that a polymath is increasingly rare.

Examinator said...

Part 2
That doesn't mean common sense is dead but like every distribution of anything it isn't a matter of precise but on predominance.
Therefore I'm saying that Say OJ should have been found predominately guilty and as such shouldn't have gon to execution but a long stretch was apposite (justice).
Execution is final no oops considered . the justice program have found several poor convicted murderers actually innocent (DNA), latter irregularities of law and ambition. too bad if the victim is dead.
Even vehicle insurance is based on proportional culpability.
perhaps a more reasoned proportional rationale my help change some prejudices.
Without a sense of proportion (ranking of issues) no compromise is possible. I'll do 'this' which isn't as irksome to me if you'll do 'that' which isn't important to you but significant to me etc.
*Mutual Benefit*.
That BTW is the basis/ point of our species' sociability.
In conclusion I was leading to the concept that criminal cases should be based on Proportionality of guilt would reduce much of the 'absolutism' in gamesmanship and reduce the power of precedents , black letter law and focus on the crime and 'justice' not revenge.
The other benefit would be to make bankers/rich more accountable for their excesses.

Examinator said...

We have just had 19hr without power and telephone due to flooding, due to wind, rain and more wind and rain!
4days of it ....the sthn movement of a cyclone that hit 1200 miles north and has been flooding big time as it came.
Several cities /towns are experiencing highest recorded levels of floods 300000 homes are without power.
The nearest city to me is Brisbane and it is facing major flooding for the 2nd time in two years. Just before the cyclone hit we hadn't had rain for 3months and the temps were in the upper 30's C every day.
I blame my nun sister in law for the rain cos she was praying for rain to counter act the heat.
BTW The west and south of Aust have had 3 months of extreme bush fires again record breaking.
Oh yes the flood in 2011 was from rain from the SW (normal) the latest deluge is very very uncharacteristic.
In fact the last 10 years has been the most the most dramatic EVER.
AGW anyone?

Jon said...

I understand what you are saying, Chad, but what I think conservatives are doing is they are SAYING all laws need to be upheld but then they create and defend conditions that make it IMPOSSIBLE for all laws to be upheld. When you advocate policies that you know lead to extreme inequality you create conditions which lead to what we have. You almost CANNOT prosecute the rich. They are above the law. And at the same time when it comes to the poor, they are prosecuted mercilessly even for crimes that reasonable people think shouldn't be crimes.

There's a reason half the people in prison for non-violent drug related offense are black even though they make up like 11% of the population. They are poor, so they go to jail. That's to be expected, and the greater inequality we have the more of that we'll see.

So what I'm saying is recognize that when you say the law SHOULD treat all criminal acts like criminal acts, realize that you are the one making that impossible with your support for policies that create more inequality.

Chad said...

Your absolutely right - well said.

I think you know I am a big supporter of legalizing drugs. The upside is so incredible in my opinion so your not getting any arguements there either.

What other single act could literally end the drug related violence/crime almost immediately? How many people are in jail for a non violent drug crime? It has to be millions of people.

This is a classic case for government over reach gone amuck in my opinion.

Examinator said...

Absolutely, ALL Breaches or the CRIMINAL CODE Should be prosecuted.
What I'm saying is that task would be far more equitable (fair, just) if we changed the burden of proof to preponderance and punished accordingly.
Unlike Chad not all criminal activities are the same from the 'justice' POV.
Take battered wife syndrome. She has killed her husband fact but the circumstances make it IMO wrong to execute.
Unlike the conservative mind set not all felonies are equal so '3 time loser' has nothing to lose...if he's going down for life then he might as well rob and bash a victim .
I've seen a poor youth steal a car felony 1 as an 18year old sent to prison , can't get a job on release so he uses skills he learned inside to B&E, to escape he steals another car
yet the *$#@&#! feral capitalist (banker) pays no tax, lies to sell derivatives but pays buckets to lawyers and gets off! Given the GFC who has done the most harm?
In my perspective I want to see some proportionality to crimes and punishment.
BTW the 18Yo who steals the Bankers car for joyriding has committed a felony and in some states after he is released and say turns his life around he is banned from voting.
The whole point is where is the justice...rather than complaining about the clear iniquitous 'banker' (read rich felon WHO CAN EFFECTIVELY BUY his/her way out of accountability) who lives in total impunity. e.g. after he gets out he's still RICH and can start again in another state and vote too.
Clearly (to me) the system that allows that is wrong. Instead of wasting time on that which one can't change change what one can ....The system.
The wrongdoers (i.e. the corporation with limited liability and the protection that offers the unscrupulous (not every one Chad) want the public to get distracted with the minutia and leave the system unchanged.( so they can go their merry way) in this context Obama is a captive of the system. demand your congresspersons change the system or else.They need to be more frightened of the public than their funders.
is that clearer ?
The implication go to the whole bag of fish. None of this is against anyone's BASE principles they exist now.

Examinator said...

The problem with 'legalising drugs' under your ALL OR NOTHING POV is clearly the consequences.
i.e. if cocaine was legal, amphetamines, crack, ICE et al. Ask your self how would you enforce the laws say for DUI ? how much is too much?
Genetic Fact.
a. drugs including booze and smoking etc effect people differently
b. susceptibility to addiction and psychosis are proven to be influenced by genetics.
e.g. My adopted father was an alcoholic and simply couldn't stop drinking. he actually lost two houses because of the drinking. Yet he survived The Burma Railway WW2 so he wasn't weak willed.
I was hospitalised and stomach pumped for alcohol poisoning at 21 (when I was an emotional drunk) But I've never lost a job etc because I can stop ....I rarely get drunk if at all...I don't have the genetic susceptibility. nor am I sure I would have survived something as brutal as the Burma railway.

C. it has been shown in epigenetics that all of the above indulgences can effect the genes of your children and grand children.
It's clear that males who smoked before puberty (sperm creation) can statistically effect their offspring both in growth /development and mental capacity.
Likewise obesity in either or parent CAN also have adverse effects on the the next and subsequent generations.
There are a host of other statistically significant consequences that are known. HIV and drug addicted babies. They also have a higher potential of being adversely effected and be addicts themselves.

Women who smoke have a tendency to have smaller children etc.
These are SCIENTIFIC facts.

This has nothing to do with wealth either.
Statistically a rich family that dabbles can produce effected off spring.

I'd suggest open slather on substance abuse would simply create more problems that it would solve more addicts more crime, etc.
In short one needs to be very careful how much freedom a society can cope with.
I.e. In the floods here The emergency services mandated areas of a town to be evacuated because of the rising waters....NB this is a staunchly (100%) conservative town. Well over a 1000 refused "cos it's never happened before...and what do these 'scientist types know....we've lived here for 4 generations" and "it's just AGW BS" were quote on TV.
Well, 6 helicopters (4 were military) at great public and private expense had to work and risk their lives all night flying in the dark, rain and treacherous wind to rescue them from roof tops. Fortunately no rescuer life was lost.
Also note one old fart was reportedly said have (wealthy farmer) once rescued (winched up), complained that the army should have sent trucks to move his (chattel) property and pets when they knew how serious the flood was going to be.
Strewth! his town is miles from anywhere and his was one of many. They had had 12 hrs warning. He had trucks (now under water)
While I'm loathed to criticise an individual rather than actions, my emotions are inclined to dump him back on his roof as it floats to the sea with a 'good luck, try not to die'.

Examinator said...

read this it says fairly well what I thing of the Koch's and bankers etc.

Chad said...

JC - Did you see this?

Sorry it is from Fox, but the Lefty media is not in a rush to publish anything that does nt fit the Narrative. 20 years of overestimating is borderlining on becoming a lie don't you think?

Chad said...

Or how about this?

Gov't will never allow this to happen, but this is a version of the future my friend. Beck is putting a ton of money into building a city with similar principals - the rich Libertarians tired of a bad government will find a way to carve out a new America. I am a little bit surprised that a group hasn't found some land in Canada they would buy and make a seperate country. It's coming though - cities ran and operated as an independent government with its own limited gov't.

You laugh at my you take 25 states and we'll take 25 states arguement, but like it or not I think we are absolutely headed toward a version of that especially since the divide between the Right and Left continues to get bigger and bigger. Question will be if it is going to be a peaceful process or a bloody one.

It is an interesting thought.

Jon said...

On global warming, that's very much old news. Notice that Fox News looks to Rush Limbaugh's official climate scientist Roy Spencer. I'm sure they just couldn't find someone with an alternative viewpoint. This guy has been discredited time and time again, in fact withdrawing submitted papers and running off with his tail between his legs as he is shamed. But of course Fox will look to a guy like this for commentary and we know why. They are selling advertising and their owners likewise are interested in profit first, truth second. So they spin on behalf of wealth, naturally.

I like the concessions though. OK, now we're going to admit that the earth is warming and man has something to do with it, but we're going to bitch because the warming isn't quite as fast as predicted. So what has happened here? The focus that I've heard was not about volcanoes. It was three other things. #1, China hasn't been honest about their coal fire emissions. The overwhelming pollution in Beijing does TEMPORARILY reflect sunlight, which has a cooling effect. This effect cannot be sustained as we know. Second, the sun has experienced a longer than average period of reduced sunspot activity. On average it's an 11 year cycle. It stretched out to 15 years this time. Not unusual, but it's picked up again as of last year (hence the far and away record temperatures from last year). Third the El Nino/La Nina southern oscillations which dictates how much heat is absorbed/released by the ocean was particularly strong over the last decade, so that has moderated the rise. This will oscillate back and we'll get hammered.

This is all well known and science isn't going to ignore it. Fox will spin it to some sort of scandal, as if they've broken the "hidden" facts, as if these things aren't openly discussed on a regular basis. Their pattern is so old at this point. The science remains rock solid. You'll come around on this, because unlike a lot of conservative stories about how their economic policies are great, this is actual science. Reality can't be ignored for long when we are dealing with science.

Jon said...

The free market utopia thing is interesting. Entry fee is $300K. This is pretty much how private schools do it. They basically exclude most people that are poor, then they turn around and say "Look at this amazing performance, and we do it for less than the public school system." But the public system operates on the principle that we make an effort to give everyone a chance. So even a kid that has a single mom, or a kid that is deaf can get an education. Even a kid with parents that don't pay much attention, and thus he lacks motivation to do well, even he is worked with, rather than just kicked out. The problem kids are the expensive kids. If everyone came from a perfect, white, upper middle class background, yeah, public schooling would be a lot less expensive. But some of us think there's value in spending extra on the problem kids, because we think there's value in everyone having a decent chance of success.

So yeah, you take 35K millionaires and you put them on Belle Isle and I'm sure it will be pretty nice. Looks like they take a token amount of the riff raff. These are the kinds of people that of course are today prosperous thanks to the public subsidy that educated them, provided them with infrastructure and technology, and lead them to become wealthy. Now that they are wealthy they want to run off to an island where they are not required to give anything back, and yeah, with all that money and an unwillingness to re-invest in the kinds of things that lead to their success, I'm sure it will be pretty nice for them. My thinking though is you give back to the system that allowed you to be successful. Sure, you could go to rich man island and pay less in taxes. Don't pay into the system that lead to your success. Only the top 1% matters. But I think others matter too, not just rich white guys.

Chad said...

I was expecting a full on assault against the source and you did not let me down. I guess that I didn't reealize that this news was acutally out there already - you said old news, but it says in the piece that the new data was recently 'leaked' - guess I am a little confused about that.

For me - especially being a skeptic - it is oddly convienent to have a ready made list of other natural events (excuses) to explain away why projections are so so so far off. If in fact those factors played such a role isn't it eye opening and concerning for to you that mother nature decided a different course than what the 'scientist' predicted?

On one hand you asking me to accept the scientific evidence as factual and to agree that our planet - by way of man made carbon - is on a path to destruction, but on the other hand you want to completely dismiss all of the scientific evidence that has been collected, documented and publish about the earth's transformation.

I'm sorry - I just keep going back to what we know, what these scientists have uncovered and confirmed which is earth has been on fire, entire land masses have broken apart, the earth has been mostly covered in ice, it thawed, it was reborn and it is every changing and adapting - always. It is a living, breathing organism that has power beyond anything we can comprehend. Can we screw this planet up - absolutely and maybe we are - but it also has ways to protect itself.

I have a couple questions for you sir - of the 100% of carbon emissions released in the air what percentage is man made? Isn't it 3% sir? Are we to accept that the 3% of emissions we produce will destroy this earth?

Are termite emissions greater than humans? What is the single biggest culprit (more than 10 times over I believe) of carbon in the world? Isn't it by the wetlands/valcanoes and natural locations like Yellowstone gysers? Are you prepared to wipe those areas off the map to reduce the carbon by 3% sir?

During the Ordovician Period, the carbon dioxide level was 12 times what it is today, and the earth was in an Ice Age - how can that be sir?

During the time of the dinosaurs, the carbon dioxide levels were 300–500% greater than today and five hundred million years ago, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 15–20 times what it is today. Yet the catastrophic water vapor amplification of carbon dioxide warming never occurred - how could that be possible?

What about the vanishing sun spots? There are scientists (as you are probably aware) who are predicting that we could see drastic cooling by 2050 - are they loons?

How about this question - where in the world is the most dynamic, healthy and greatest biological diversity for habitat? The tropics right along the equator - the so called hottest area on planet earth. As you move away from the equator it becomes more difficult to sustain life, vegetation is dependent on the seasons (you can't plant corn in November) and as you reach the poles - almost nothing can survive and it is the least biological diverse area in the world. So when you claim that our 3% will result in the spread of disease, food shortages, more human deaths, more violent weather (outside of what will naturally occur), and that there will be a loss of biological diversity through the extinction of species it is so difficult to swallow sir and the overwhelming historical SCIENTIFIC evidence tells us that through the history of this planet that your wrong.

Just a thought or two.

Chad said...

On the Belle Isle thing, I tend to agree with some, if not most of your points. I never will agree to the philosophy that I or anyone by the virture of being born in the US owns anyone anything. My parents paid the necesary taxes to give me access to the public school system. If the reigning government heads whether it be at the local, county, state or federal level ran these institutions by way of deficits - that is not my problem. The appropriate amount of taxes were and continue to be held from my parents to pay for all 3 of their childern PLUS. My parents have lived in the same house now for 29 years continuing to pay taxes into that school district without a single person going to that school district for going on 15 years now. My responsibility today - as a parent - is to pay for my children, my family and not to burden anyone else with my costs. If during my life I can/decide to contribute more then that it is my choice, but we will have paid for our kids 4 times over by the time the get out of the school system so for that I say a big hog wash. I pay for all the services we use - no matter if they were developed by gov't or the private sector.

The greater point you continue to miss and basically all progressives continue to miss over and over again is that we live in such a different world today. If you continue to beat on, take from, alienate and demonize those with money they will find another place to live - they will take their money and they will unplug themselves from the Liberal matrix.

These extremist ideas should be scaring the living hell out of all of us Jon - that is the point my friend. I need the rich, you need the rich, we all need the rich even if we disagree to what degree. I think the short sighted way to think about the rich is to assume that they will always be there to pay 75% to 90% of the yearly income taxes collected. As you pointed out it is such a small group of people overall that has a large portion of the wealth why can't we reach out to these folks - make them our friend and not an enemy, draw them into the debate instead of away from the debate. Offer deep tax deductions to those willing to put money into the market or new businesses - incentivise their participation. Make them want to be patriotic - make them want to bring jobs back to the US and to help bring down the debt.

What if and there is no proof this would work, but what if Congress passed a law that said something like this. If you re-invest 25% of your overall wealth or your earnings in the proceeding year your income tax burden would be the offset amount? Another words a brainiac can figure out the deduction it would take to incetivise that type of activity - lets say for arguement sake that it is a drop to 25% on income taxes and down to 5% on capital gains if you invest 25% back into the market minimum the proceeding year. The caviot of course being that the investment is US based by percentage. What kind of money are we talking would be flushed back into the market place?

Another words make it about patriotism - invest your money and will lower your burden significatnly or you can choose to pay the higher rate and we'll use it? Given that option wouldn't the rich always choose to re-invest? The money would be gone regardless, but one option might actually allow them to see a return on their investment or at the very worst see a healthier America (ie patriotism). If the project/investment fails oh well because again the money was gone anyhow so win win right?

What do you think the net result would be sir? So here is the choice Congress is offering. Re-invest at least 25% of your earnings/wealth (and maybe that number is too high, but stay with me) back into your country to earn a huge tax credit otherwise please hand over 50% and go about your business.

Chad said...

Maybe the offer is that if you re-invest 50% or more of your earning you have zero income tax liability on any earning made from those investments?

Another one - no limit on tax deduction when money is given to charity or is given as a gift to non family members? So if Romney makes $21 million then gives away $18 million bucks then he can only be taxed on $3 million dollars in earnings - what could possibly be bad about that? That means there is $18 million dollars out there that no longer has to come from government or other people - isn't that a win, win and win?

Just thinking out loud again.

Jon said...

In science credibility matters. You and I are just layman. We have to rely on the experts. So when you see Fox News, who of course is interested in advertising revenue and also pleasing their wealthy owners, pulling in a guy that's been widely discredited by people that aren't operating under these kinds of advertising and corporate incentives, well that's very important.

You shouldn't be confused about the word "leak". Standard sensationalism.

I don't know why you'd say I want to dismiss the documented and published information. I'm the one asking you to consider that information. Remember, Fox News is not a scientific journal. When I say published I don't just mean published by some tabloid. I mean by credible sources. You are dismissing the credible, scientific literature and instead going with tabloid journalism. Why? If Roy Spencer has some published findings relevant to the discussion that's fine, let's look at that. If he's just being quoted in Fox News, that's not science.

The earth has ways to protect itself? What does that mean? The earth isn't really in danger. We are in danger. The earth will probably warm rapidly and a lot of people will die. The earth will be fine. Sure, cataclysms have happened before. So have mass extinction events. That's what I'm concerned about.

Isn't it 3% sir? Are we to accept that the 3% of emissions we produce will destroy this earth?

This source says CO2 concentration is 39% above pre-industrial levels. It may not destroy the earth, but it might destroy us.

The rest of your questions I've addressed here:

Note the bolded Q&A type statements below.

Jon said...

My parents paid the necesary taxes to give me access to the public school system.

They aren't the only ones that paid. What about the neighbors that didn't have any kids? What about people that were single their whole life? What about people that moved to the area even though their kids were adults? You suck all their taxes out of them, get yourself started on decent footing, then turn around and think that you contributing in the same way is an outrage and a waste and you should only have to pay for your own kids. Was it a waste when it was done for your benefit and mine? The difference between you and me is I admit that I didn't do it on my own. A lot of lucky breaks. A lot of gifts from others that I didn't earn. So now that I'm earning a decent living I should run off to an island and do my best to hoard and not provide others with the same benefits I enjoyed? That's wrong. OK, so if I'm deprived of an RV or a newer car, so what? I already have a decent life. I could run off to Belle Isle and have a few more extravagances, but these don't make me happier and they actually deprive others of even having the basics.

These extremist ideas should be scaring the living hell out of all of us Jon - that is the point my friend. I need the rich, you need the rich, we all need the rich even if we disagree to what degree.

This is where you are dead wrong. The richest people in the world get rich not by working, but by owning. Take the Walton family heirs. They don't work. They get all the money, they just don't do anything. Why would we need them? If only they would leave. And you know what we'll do? We'll keep the money we create for ourselves.

The only reason they get it is because they have control of the state. Weapons. They force us to give them the money we create under threat. If they would just leave and we could figure out a way to get our government to stop compelling us to send them the money we create we'd be better off and more rich.

This is why we are at war with Cuba. Obviously the Soviet pretext is gone, but the war continues, which reveals the real point. Cuba's policy is that they do not have to send the wealth they create overseas to owners and investors in the US. Want to make money from Cuban efforts? Come on over and get a job. None of this sitting in the mansion and compelling us to send you the money we create. Well, you can guess who doesn't like that arrangement. The wealthiest people in the world that get all the money and do none of the work. It's not that they need Cuban money. It's that they know if Cuba is left alone it will succeed, others will follow suit, and now they no longer get all the money by doing nothing.

You work, I work. A lot of rich people do in fact work. But the richest people in the world actually don't work, or if they do work it's just for fun. It's not how they get the majority of their money. They get the money by having others do the work and requiring those people to give it to them. So if they left I'd say great. Good riddance. We don't need you. You need us.

Jon said...

Chad, here's a cool and old picture kind of depicting the relationship between the worker and the investor. Is the Walton family heir, who sits there and collects the money generated by others, is he the one we need? Why would we need him?

In French it reads "The boss needs you, you don't need the boss."

Examinator said...

Ordovician Period good grief Chad there wasn't any shootings then either. So?
Chad what you need to understand is that it isn't Just the CO2 IT IS ALL THE OTHER THINGS IT REACTS WITH... mix of components.

Change the mix and you get a totally different result. As I've said before looking to the ancient past is NOT an absolute template for today's context.
e.g. alter the continents arround (they were in very different places as to day) and you change the wind patterns and with that the the uptake of rain et a. there are thousends of factors involved hence the models are only indicators of the probable end not a blow by blow timetable.

BTW lots of snow(area) creates the well understood Albedo effect i.e. more white then the more heat is reflected BACK INTO SPACE...cooler earth ...remember the concern over the shrinking (area) of the polar ice packs?

Spencer is one not too credible scientist V the VAST MAJORITY ACCROSS A MYRIAD of Different specialist disciplins. No one 'scientist' these days can be an expert on all relevant areas involved. There is just too much too many variables, too much information to be accross it all.

Jonathan said...

So Jon,

Bill Gates - how much is he entitled to of the Microsoft empire? Should it be no more than say a certain % of company profits each year? Do you put him in the same category as the Walton family? Should he be entitled to less if he plays a less active roll in the direction of the company? If he had retired say in the mid 90s and played no part in the direction or success of the company for the past 10 or 15 years, would it be less fair or right that he get a smaller slice of the profits than if he played a more active roll?

Chad said...

So what is the answer then - we see things differently (of course) we know that and it is okay/healthy in fact, but other than taxation more regulation and laws what is your answer?

The demonization of the Walton family for being uber successful, hating the Koch Brothers because they have more money than 99% of Americans and repeating yourself time and time again that the most wealthy don't work helps zero.

The idea that you can regulate, tax or make laws to limit wealth seems to me has actually helped the rich get richer? Once you reach the top in America the number of competitors nipping at your heels tend to be very small because of taxation, regulation and laws - to me that right there is your inequality, the root to this so called evil.

Your ideas are to extract that money by force through tax, law, regulation or both. I tend to believe strongly that the opposite is the way to go - I would like to incentivise the living crap out of re-investing in the US for top earners. If they put back in 75% of what they earned into the US then make their income taxes zero. For Cap Gains - goodness how crazy is it that the gov't can explain that it is legal to tax money that has already been taxes is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Did you see this article

I am telling you Jon - earners are RUNNING from progressive states that have high taxes and are not business friendly. California, New York and Illinois are in HUGE trouble and it is going to get worse and worse as the money leaves town. Taxation is not the answer - it just is not.

Texas, Florida and a handful of other states are standing there with their arms wide open to businesses and to wealthy earners bud - its gonna get really bad for the Liberal/Progressive movement in a short time in these big cities - real bad.

Jon said...

Jonathan, I am anti-capitalist. I don't think people should be allowed to make money by owning, but only by working. There's a lot of reasons for why I hold that view, and my favorite book on the topic if you are interested is called "Against Capitalism." It explains why on Capitalism we should expect 18 cents an hour in Bangladesh and environmental destruction, but if instead we prohibit capitalist property relations and pursue economic democracy instead this mitigates these problems in a major way. I could get into the details, but I won't just for the sake of brevity.

So on economic democracy only workers decide on compensation. Whatever money is earned by the company is divided up democratically. People vote for what kind of compensation others are entitled to. For skills that are in high demand it's necessary to pay more. But as soon as a person leaves the company he's no longer entitled to compensation. He's no longer making a productive contribution to the success of the company, so there's no reason to compensate him.

If you want to see how democracy functions, a union is a bit of a guide and you can see how they treat former employees. Pensions. So Gates would probably end up with a pension. Not saying I know exactly what would happen because democracy is messy, but I assume he'd be living very comfortably.

The reason he's so rich is because the innovations that others create he gets the revenue that results from that. The extremely creative people working into the evening developed some stuff and they were paid a wage. Nothing in excess of that, unless Gates wanted to bestow that on them based on his benevolence. In my view Gates is being compensated for value he doesn't create. Yes, he created some value and he should have been compensated for that, but there's a lot more value created by others that he collects. That's something that is enforced by the state, which is why capitalists while on the one hand complaining about the state in fact love the state because it makes it possible for them to collect the value others create.

What they really mean when they complain about the state is they hate it when the state helps the non-rich. That's why Chad is very quick to complain about illegal immigrants or public schools, but when it comes to banker bailouts or war, yeah, he says he opposes, but he doesn't get passionate about it. It's always about the poor and how they are terrible, never the much larger welfare and destruction caused by the rich.

Jon said...

The demonization of the Walton family for being uber successful, hating the Koch Brothers because they have more money than 99% of Americans and repeating yourself time and time again that the most wealthy don't work helps zero.

Well, I'm not so sure. Some slaveholders were successful, and demonizing them probably did some good. Shame them. Shame the Walton family as they make millions on the backs of peasants in Bangladesh that get starvation wages and burn up in an unsafe factory. Shame on them. They are worse than the slave holders. At least the slaveholders were interested in feeding their slaves and providing them with shelter. The Walton's don't even do that. They don't care that the amount they are paid is not enough for them to have as much food as they need to develop normally. Because the Walton's will just discard them and exploit the next one to destruction. Does shame do any good? I think it does.

The idea that you can regulate, tax or make laws to limit wealth seems to me has actually helped the rich get richer?

But when we taxed more and regulated more our economic growth was more equal and faster. It didn't help the rich get richer. I keep coming back to this point. If you take a look at what has actually happened you find that yes, right wing economic policies never work, and high taxes and a good regulatory apparatus do work. Every financial crisis we've had came subsequent to the major deregulation our government enacted. There were ZERO banking crisis from 1945 up until 1972. How did that happen? Regulation.

So instead of telling us what you believe will happen why not look at the actual world and notice what did in fact happen. The very opposite of what you say will happen if more deregulation and laxer taxation is pursued.

This is about the lowest taxes and lowest regulation environment that's been seen in this country in 80 years. On your theories this should be the best economy ever. It's like the worst. When does reality penetrate your belief system?

Jonathan said...


Are you against selling your house for a profit? If your house value doubles, do you see a problem with making a tidy sum disproportionate to the amount of sweat equity you put in the house yourself?

Jonathan said...


So as an entrepreneur, one of my goals is to specifically get away *FROM* trading time for money. One of my friends has become very successful teaching podcasts. He can charge $300 an hour for his time to teach someone how to podcast. He charges $5000 a day for his services. His client satisfaction rating is through the roof. They pay this money gladly because they feel they are getting even more value than they pay. In short, he provides a great service and gets paid a premium price. I'm assuming you'd be OK with this aspect of his business if you knew all the ins and outs.

However, he wants more time with his family. So he's moved into training products. He put hundreds of hours into training videos, and now he can lead a 4 week training bootcamp in which he might spend 6 hours of setup time, 10 hours teaching and support each week, and then clear $20k for 20 students to go through this at $1000 a pop. All this for for 6 + 10*4 = 46 hours of work. His students get access to tons of resources and are largely very satisfied. Still OK with this?

Another part of his income comes from folks that go to his website, listen to his content which is updated weekly, and then purchase related products he gets an affiliate commission from. I think he clears about $8k a month from these types of purchases as well. Folks come to his site, click on a button, purchase a $50 product, and he gets $20 commission. What are your thoughts on this?

Also, he gets lots of folks who come to him and want to hire him for $300/hr, and he refers them to others, in exchange for a decent cut. What are your thoughts on this arrangement, assuming the consumer is happy with this?

Lastly, so right now he's still shoveling time and efforts into his biz. He's worked very hard for a number of years, and things seem to really be paying off financially for him. The thing is, there could come a time when he just decides he wants to take a break from all of this, and he could still see the money rolling in from all these different products and affiliate links, based off of his reputation, and the community he's built. If he were to take a year off and make $150k, what are your thoughts on this?

Lastly, he could automate his business fully, and take himself out of the loop. Now he's sitting on the beach drinking his bahama-mama while the money rolls in. I assume at this point, you'd be against his income? What if he wanted to be a responsible global citizen, and had set up this little mini empire - what would you suggest be the proper thing from him to do? I suppose one alternative to stay in the money for time paradigm would be to work extra hard a few more years until he's bringing in say $400k a year, save up until he has $2M in the bank, and live off of the interest after dismantling? his business?


Chad said...

I am floored, but not shocked unfortunately. At least you came out and said you are anti-captilism.

Your associating failures to capitalism based on activities that had nothing to do with capitalism and that is your evidence?

What is funny here is the thought of implementing this menagerie. No investors at all to start new businesses under this model for damn sure - who in the hell would even think about that. It means government must provide the financial resources to start companies. Then the employees will decide amoung themselves how to divide up the earnings? So classes will be formed - the sales guys will demand more than the engineers and so on so it would be a huge fight - maybe they just say okay here is the money you can make at this particular position so no sales guy makes more than the next sales guy regardless of results. Oh - this is getting good. So the struggling company gets smart and says - we'll pay our sales guys more to get more business and thus starts in motion the ball that you can not stop Jon. So what that means is you want complete government control to dictate all levels of earning? Whoa.

This is utter chaos, but it is fun. What happens when a guy like me who losses his freedom to earn top dollar and I shut down? You get what you get from me - I come in and your lucky if I give 25% to the job. Are you going to fire me, fine me, jail me or shoot me? What if I don't want to work at all - you going to pay me to sit at home?

If gov't is involved then it won't stop at business - next you will dictate the size of home, number of cars, how cars are built, what size TV (if any) and what you can eat?

Isn't that the ultimate goal in your mind Jon - complete control of everything?

Jon said...

The problem with Capitalism (among other things) is not that some people get rich, or even that people get rich without a lot of effort. The problem is that people get rich by taking the value created by others, and basically taking it at a point of a gun. Wal-Mart workers create money and they have to send it to the Walton family. If they don't the government steps in.

So why would I have a problem with a home increasing in value or your friend making a lot of money from an internet business? He did the work and he's compensated. Nobody is objecting to that. He's not hiring people at starvation wages and taking the surplus value they create from them at the point of a gun. He's doing the work himself and getting compensated. There's no problem there.

You hear right wingers say things like "Why doesn't the left complain about Oprah or Michael Moore, or maybe athletes." If Michael Moore creates a movie and sells it he's being compensated for work he does. If the Bangladeshi sweatshop worker creates $1000 worth of clothes but is paid only $1 and the rest goes to the Wal-Mart heirs, that's capitalism. That's where the problem lies.

Where it gets tricky would be if your friend hired others to run his business and he stepped out. Isn't it OK for him to continue to get some compensation due to the fact that he took the initial risk and created the business even though others today are doing the work? In the book I referred to they actually say yes, we should set up a system that allows that. The initial start up effort is a big deal. Very risky and tiresome. To have someone else just step in and get the reward at the end, supposing maybe the founder is too old, and then just tell the founder he gets nothing, well that doesn't seem right either. In "Against Capitalism" what they say is if a business is fairly small you could continue to sustain capitalist property relations. It's kind of a practical matter. It just works better. But if the company really starts to grow, say beyond 15 employees, well now you start to create conditions like what you see in the Wal-Mart world. Oligarchs that now, along with all their offspring, never work again, get most of the money, and do it on the backs of people treated worse than slaves.

I don't propose this as dogma. You have to be practical. Do what works and avoids all the environmental destruction and injustice without depriving an entrepreneur that took a ton of risk of a decent reward assuming things are successful.

Chad said...

What is ironic to me is that you have the freedom to start a business right now with your principals and you don't have to steal my freedom to do it. You can start Jon Mart today with the plan to allow the employees to set pay scales, to decide to split profits and as the owner you can decide to take as little on the back end as you would want.

No one is stopping you sir.

Chad said...

"The problem is that people get rich by taking the value created by others, and basically taking it at a point of a gun. Wal-Mart workers create money and they have to send it to the Walton family."

Wal Mart allows them to develop a skill that they can in turn sell on the open market if they choose to do so. If a vision is so great they can take their idea and sell against Wal Mart - that is the beauty. If their ambition is to take no risks, work behind a desk all their lives handing over their ideas without compensation - they have 1 person to blame and that is themselves.

Jon said...

Chad, I'm not the one that wants complete control of everything. That's you. Look at how you complain about how democracy is messy. You say "Oh no, the sales guys will want more money, and then another group will want money and there will be a fight." Yeah, under democracy you kind of have to deal with disagreements and arguments. The alternative, a dictator, a single person that can tell everyone what to do and doesn't have to consider the thoughts of others, that certainly makes things simple, but it comes with it's own set of problems.

As far as your claim that it doesn't work, of course it already does work. There are companies in the US that are employee owned. Yeah, the workers themselves have to come up with the capital. Happens all the time and it's actually very successful. What often happens is that it is so successful it is bought out by venture capital firms. Every tiny worker might walk away with a million dollars, even the janitor. It's extremely successful because when workers feel like they have a voice and they feel like the extra effort they make will actually be rewarded, instead of just filling the pockets of the investors that aren't even there, they tend to work a lot more efficiently.

I mean, think about it. Suppose a worker on the Ford production line recognizes a problem and says that he could fix it and save the company $1 million per year. Where is his incentive to implement it? Does his salary change? No. He might get a plaque or a pat on the back. On the other hand if there's a small amount of risk and things go wrong he's crucified. So he doesn't have a lot of incentive to look for these kinds of things. On the other hand if he's an owner too he cares and he looks for these kinds of things. This stuff really works, and makes companies extremely profitable. I've talked about Mondragon and Gore Technologies before. They operate this way.

If you come in and work 25% of course you could be fired, but that would be up to your fellow employees. They would decide your fate. There's no one right answer. Again, democracy is messy but the alternatives are worse.

Jon said...

Yes Chad, and the slave masters taught slaves useful cotton picking skills, just like the Bangladeshi worker now can sew underwear together. Praise the plantation owner and his benevolence.

As far as starting a business, how do you know what I'm doing? I have my own plans, but generally I prefer to leave discussion of my personal life off this blog.

Chad said...

If the guy on the Ford line doesn't develop then sell his solution he is a dumb ass - point blank.

I saw a better mousetrap at the sports software company I worked with and your damn skippy I sold my ideas/development plan - I didn't give it to them straight away. Cash/contract in hand before I signed it away. Turned out to be a win-win for both of us. My grandpa isn't the smartest man, but he said a man's labor is all he has to sell and you best make sure your labor is either better, smarter or more important than the next guy if you want to succeed in life and never sell yourself short.

If you got something of value to sell you can dictate that into the market place.

Family companies are great and I love them - they are also dinosaurs and the EMPLOYEES generally run them straight into the ground at some point. Then when the business saavy (or for you the vultures) come in and expose all the weaknesses it is always their fault. Many times these so called vultures tear apart a weak business to build up a new healthy one - sometimes they tear apart for pure profit - all fair in my eyes.

Chad said...

Control? The only control I want is of my personal life - I am opposite of control my friend - I want the free market to sort out the winners and losers which it will.

Slavery? Quite a stretch, but since you played the card lets play the game. I read a book or essay once that talked about why the black male/females were more successful when it came to sports. It suggested that through years of hard labor during slavery their bodies developed earlier, longer and stronger muscular structures we formed and through these physical work they grew to be taller and so on. Now I am not suggesting by any stretch that slavery was a good thing, but one could argue that those skills have helped in the sports world which is dominated in many respects by the black athlete.

It also is possible that genetics are the real answer, but hey it is food for thought?

How about if they never were brought to American in the first place - maybe the USA would be entirely white and the outcome of the black race could have been entirely different?

Jon said...

So you're thinking is the plantation owners deserve thanks because in punishing their slaves several generations later they produced good athletes. And in the same way we have to thank the Walton family heirs sitting in their mansions collecting the money created in the sweatshops because in punishing these people, some of whom die in fires, this perhaps will create benefits for their offspring several generations out. Is that how it works? Just trying to understand the thinking here.

Chad said...

Sometimes from the ashes of failure you can find success. Maybe if enough people die in sweatshops in some place across the pond either they will make sure their kids do better, they band together to overthrow the gov't/owners for better conditions or they leave. Maybe they strive to be more.

Not all plantation owners were bad to their slaves and looking at this from the back seat like you it is easy to say that it was wrong, but when your faced with hundreds of acres of crops to harvest with limited help and a resource is brought to you - then we will judge you. It's simple for you typing on your computer to say you wouldn't, but you would.

Celebrated no, but again what life did many of the slaves have in their native country? Was the pain worth the progress? Americans basically eliminated the Indians - a sad, bad time in our history for sure, but what if the alternative was the Indians wiping out the white man - would we be here?

Examinator said...

I think you are "throwing the baby out with the bath water!"

Can I respectfully suggest that you are making the mistakes in analysis that our beloved coterie of assorted conservatives are... confusing the method/application with the cause.

Capitalism in and of it's self is fine. It locks into human nature and it does have some essential functions for societies.

Notwithstanding the problem is the
ADD ONS/PRACTICES that are the problem. To paraphrase Chomsky there are TWO capitalisms the real one and the one the conservative (not political) mind set mentally masturbate over.

I cite the essential base principle of capitalism i.e. the LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.

The problem is that over time the GREEDY (the status Quo) have tilted 'the field' in THEIR direction by corrupting the systems.

Consider this if there were no such things as 'limited Liability' companies/corporations/trusts etc. the RICH, Corporate types and BANKER would all of a sudden become accountable for their actions.

Consider this, if money didn't equal political power the Koch brothers, Waltons, Gates and any wealthy Liberal(sic) would be equal under the law and true to the BASE principle of DEMOCRACY one person one VOTE.
I don't begrudge money honestly earned but a gun boat that shelled a 3rd world capital because it's desire to get it's citizens a fairer share of their labor, that would have reduced the colonial's profit potential by a tiny amount?

Imagine if pumping/puffing a product was illegal there'd be little or no consumerism for profit sake.
Profit would have to be earned by actual meaningful advancements.

What we have under 'FERAL/VULTURE so called Capitalism is simply iron age Feudalism with a massive PR system.

Businesses get away with squeezing better products out of the market.

Examinator said...

Part 2
i.e. the 50 times strike match was invented in the 40's but the patent was bought by the match Corporation who fearing THEIR profits would drop promptly burned it. In the same period so to the vehicle that was invented to run on multi fuels (not necessarily) oil....the same fate. Do I mention the US tire manufacturers who got the US to ban radial tires because they would lose out to them.

One could then go to say copyright on song 'happy birthday' it was written in 1900 and the the music corps bought the copy right and got the government to lengthen the copy right period. Why it is now a profit centre.

It is simply not sustainable to maintain that the above would 'stifle business' what it would do is force capital to change from PROFIT only (cash cowing) to real productivity.
I can still remember the resistance to computers and how it was going to destroy business didn't, in fact BECAUSE of the innovation it CREATED WHOLE INDUSTRIES.

It's a bit like the Catholic priesthood of years past it wasn't designed FOR paedophiles but an environment in which they thrive. Business is a sheltered workshop in which those with sociopathic tendencies thrive.

Edison was brilliant in many ways but he held the view that peoples minds were inhabited by little people who manipulated the body and at death they migrated to others. (cloud cuckoo land). Oh yes he electrically executed an elephant as a publicity stunt to illustrate how safer(?) his DC power was over the opposition's AC.
Likewise the Koch Bros et al are entitled as individuals to hold what ever hair brained view of the world they with but to pervert the democratic and or Capitalism's processes ? I think not.

Be as rich and buy an many toys as you want but to gain/ abuse political power without standing to the people Not for mine. (see Murdoch)
It's what the so call capitalist do under FERAL/VULTURE capitalism that is the problem it my way because it benefits me ME OR ELSE that I object to.
Come on boys there's plenty of meat in this one.

Jon said...

So if some guy says "Heck, I've got a plantation that needs harvesting so I'm just going to kidnap Chad's kids and put them to work as slaves" you'd thank him because heck, after all that suffering maybe from their ashes we'd see success. Maybe some good athletes.

Jon said...

You know what? It looks to me like you're really trying to justify the kindapping and enslavement of Africans. I'm not going to respond to this. Take it to the Klan website.

Chad said...

JC - you know better than that my friend. Today we see how terrible slavery was - when living back then it was like having employees. 100 years from now maybe we look back (as a nation) and we admit that this was the era of takers that almost destroyed America. Maybe (especially since things are digital) your vision/words will be deemed treasonous to America?

America has had tons of shameful moments in history, killing the Indians, slavery, civil war, gender inequality, racism, a period when workers had zero rights (insert union here), drone strikes and the list will grow with history. Each time we fall down - we get up and get better. So today in 2013 I do not have to worry about my kids being taken from bed to work for someone else in a slave field, but they are already enslaved by the recipient class and government. Tis is the 21st century version of slavery IMO. Because you don't see them in the fields with shovels it's not slavery, but by time they are earning gov't (like Phil Mickleson) will think it is okay to take more than 50% of their earnings. You call it it Patriotism and or their responsibility to pay back something or other and I call this the digital age of American slavery. I think in 100 years society may look at it that way.

Examinator said...

No Chad it's not patriotism is called
- selective/myopic vision.
- Selective, assumed superiority.i.e. YOU have the right to subject others to subsistance lives and conditions you wouldn't keep a dog in...well most wouldn't I have no idea how you hunt (sic).
- its called santimonious hypocrisy...
faux Christianity.
- Lamarkian reasoning (justification) i.e. the strong rule the weak.
Weak= anyone lest well off or less commited to your lifestyle/power.
- it's called shallow borderline sociopathy.
-even selfish and greedy
But it isn't patriotic. Stop kidding your self.

Jon said...

Can I respectfully suggest

Absolutely. I know my opinions on this are considered radical, so reasoned criticism is welcome.

Capitalism in and of it's self is fine. It locks into human nature and it does have some essential functions for societies.

Well, I don't agree with that at all. Remember many non-capitalist societies have functioned just fine, including indigenous societies. Also different non-capitalistic economic arrangements. Amish societies are not capitalist. Cuba is a tough place to live because the world's most powerful state has been at war with them for 50 years, but despite that they are one of the best places to live in that part of the world. Long life expectancy, high literacy, etc. Crushing their capitalist neighbors in Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, etc.

To paraphrase Chomsky there are TWO capitalisms the real one and the one the conservative (not political) mind set mentally masturbate over.

He does talk about so called free market capitalism, a truly non-existent form of capitalism but does have some societies that actually follow it more closely (African nations, Haiti, etc) and those that don't (Germany, Japan, the US, S Korea). But despite that Chomsky will still recognize that capitalism is the core problem.

So for instance the US economy grew very rapidly and equally during the period we could call Keynsian capitalism. On the one hand that's great. Even blacks in the US experienced gains, which had never happened before and hasn't happened since.

But capitalism must do this on an ever expanding consumption model and under constant threat of capitalists leveraging their slightly greater power to undermine the egalitarian growth.

So for instance take a look at this blog post of mine from a while back. Naomi Klein attends a right wing climate denial conference and notes that the participants say "The left really is using climate as a bludgeoun to destroy capitalism." Here's Klein's commentary. They're not wrong. Capitalism is in it's very nature prone to destroying the environment in this way. Take a look at Keynsian capitalism as it functions in China. The pollution is so bad in Beijing that they had a factory on fire but nobody realized it for hours because they couldn't see the smoke. This is interventionist capitalism, the so called good kind. The kind Paul Krugman would advocate. Look what is happening. It's laid out well in the book I referred to earlier. "Against Capitalism" by Schweikart. This is exactly what we should expect.

For me it's not that CEO's are bad people. It's that on capitalism the incentives are devised such that they are compelled to buy influence in Washington, compelled to pollute, compelled to enact limited liability legislation. Venture capitalists are compelled to be vultures. You can call it vulture of feral capitalism, but I think you support capitalism you support conditions that inevitably lead in this direction.

On capitalism the goal is profit maximization, right? So should you expect anything other than the match corporation buying up a patent for a better product or ownership of "happy birthday"? Shouldn't you expect environmental devastation, ever expanding consumption, and a public tricked into buying things that they otherwise wouldn't want and don't need? This is the nature of capitalism. It's not just a bad side effect that can be eliminated with a few tweaks.

Jon said...

Chad, I don't think you're following the thread of your own argument. You say thank the Walton's for creating sweatshops and dangerous working conditions. This toughens people up and makes them better. I say OK, should we thank slave owners? Your answer is YES. I push you on that. Are you sure. Again, you say YES. And I say BS. I'm not thanking slave owners. How would you like it if you and yours were treated that way. "Well, that's not likely to happen." That has nothing to do with it. Of course it's not likely to happen but if it did you wouldn't welcome it nor would you praise their kidnappers. It's absolutely wrong and cannot be defended. And since it can't be defended your argument that we should thank the Walton family for the abuse they heap on the peasants in Bangladesh is similarly nonsense.

The spot you find yourself is you can't turn around and condemn the slaveholders without recognizing that this means your argument for the Walton family is unsound. Your defense of slavery was your defense of the Waltons. Now you undermine that defense. Which is it? Are we to thank the Walton's or not? You've got to make up your mind.

Jonathan said...


Ok, so it sounds like you're not apposed to passive income, and it doesn't always have to be time for money. If I understand you correctly, it's the resultant outworkings that a quest for increased profits that you are opposed to. Namely, not giving people a fair share of the profits for their labor, and generally keeping them entrenched in a subservient existence where the corporate thumb is keeping the averaging worker oppressed.

Going back to an entreprenour example, suppose Jim could make $100,000 a year on a business they ran online themselves. Then they in turn found a way to automate the business, taking themselves largely out of the equation, and going from 60 hours a week to say 40 hours a week. They pay Raj from India $5 an hour - a middle class wage.

So now they are making the equivilent of around $50/hr,and Raj is making $5/hr. Do you feel Raj is owed more?

Next, they take build up their business, and the next year they bring in $200,000. Part of this is because Raj is just an awesome employee who's tearing it up, and part of it is because Jim is expanding the business. Jim is working less and less each week, and Raj is working a normal 40 hours a week. Jim bumps Raj's pay up to $10 an hour. Do you think this is fair?

The second year Jim is pretty much out of the business completely and Raj is coming up with all sorts of creative and amazing things to improve the business. Jim is clearing $300,000 for doing basically nothing, and Raj is paid $15/hour, or $30,000 / year. Raj gets 10% of the pie for doing most of the business, and Jim gets 90% for sitting back and doing very little.

Finally, year 3 Jim hands the reigns of the busines over to his son Fred to manage. He gives his son $150,000 / year to make sure the wheels don't fall off the business. Now Fred makes $150k, and Raj makes $30k a year, but Raj is the the one with all the creativity, insight, and knowledge who's keeping this train a'rolling. Do you find this situation unfair?

For me, I'm fine with all these situations. I know Raj is making a good living for himself, and if it were me I'd hand out big bonuses from time to time out of appreciation, but I still have no problem Jim, or his son keeping 90% of the pie even though they aren't really contributing any more.

If you told me Raj was in a sweatshop, or being lied to and convinced he could do no better anywhere else when he could be cranking out his own $300,000 / year business, I'd have a problem with that. But if Raj is OK with things, I don't see an issue.

I'd even take it a step further and say even if Raj wasn't OK with it and was in a position of strength I'd be ok if Jim paid him more, but conversely I'd be ok if Jim didn't pay him more if he didn't ask.

Also, if Raj got upset that he wasn't getting a bigger slice and he could be replaced with someone else who could do his job the same, I'd have no issue with Jim replacing Raj if Raj decided he was entitled to more.

Is this the seeds of a crooked CEO?

Again, for me the difference in my mind is when the business is causing opression and harm, and in these scenarios above, I don't see that.


Chad said...

JC - I am very comfortable with my argument - you've drawn your own parallel to the conclusion you were looking for is all that happened here.

Jon said...

Jonathan, I have no problem with making tons of money from an automated business. As I said earlier I think as a practical matter it's OK to have a single employee and pay him a wage while the owner who may work less or not at all is still paid. I don't necessarily like the idea of Raj doing the kind of innovvating that generates an additional say maybe $1 million and maybe he only gets to keep $40K. It seems unjust. But as a practical matter I probably wouldn't disallow it just because you can't legislate for specific cases. You have to set out broad rules that basically just work. We don't want to discourage people from starting a business and making my saying that as soon as they have 1 employee that employee has just as much say in the way profits are disbursed as the founder does.

But we have to balance that against a situation where 500 Bangladeshi sweatshop workers are paid pennies and Alice Walton sits in a mansion doing nothing getting the bulk of the money. So like I said before I think maybe when you get to 10 or 15 employees you say now we have to become democratic. Now we have to let workers have a voice in disbursement. Otherwise we end up in the kind of conditions that we see today in Haiti and Africa. And unfortunately the trend in the US is in that direction where workers have no voice and merely settle for the scraps management allows, which is less and less every year even though they are more productive. The difference is sent to ownership.

Examinator said...

I never intend to brow beat etc. Merely point out the logical flaws.
I am attempting to have an objective discussion on the topic... I am concerned with a number of right wing missives in general in that their views are way too selective and 'this is my view' la La la (fingers in my ears). Chads version is I have my sources which confirm MY views.
I regard Chomsky as one of the living intellectuals but as I've said before I find he sees things in discrete philosophies. I.e. he is an anarchist (not in the common term a vandal but in the political/ philosophic sense.
My view and the one I argue for is that life doesn't co-operate with boxes. I see no reason that A VERSION of Capitalism couldn't function efficiently by regards to externalities like natural resources.
FYI the concept of capital can be anything we tend to get bound up in 'coin of the realm $'.
Even in 'primitive' society there are such things as currency only the form changes. In PNG it was the Kina a flat pearl like shell. In fact trade/ barter goods are capital just in a different form and amount.

Cuba has other real problems other than it's shunned by the USA (spiteful over reaction to losing having hegemony the manipulated fears of the 'rich' etc. ) among which there is a repressive state apparatus where some are more equal than others (again a pinch from Animal Farm) and dissenters disappear or suffer brutal repression.
In most primitive society there are still leaders who are repressive or get to the top by brutal ways
I have juxtaposed the Moriori's practice of infanticide as a form of population control, the Maori, Rapanui and good ole whitey. The key to human society is how POWER and the method it is gained , maintained, is or is not distributed. Societies must to some degree regulated and by same token self levelling.

Examinator said...

Part 2
The reference was to Chomsky's 'quote that there are two Adam Smiths one we love the other we (don't) read.'in that lecture he goes on to indicate that most philosophies borrow aspects i.e. What societal programs the 'right'(sic) vilify in terms like 'socialist' ad nausem are in all organised societies primitive and 'sophisticated'. TRUE Capitalism et alas writ doesn't exist and never has .... there are (perversions) adaptation there of the same goes for that often resemble the philosophy in name only

The point I was making is the one I've made several times before is that one needs to find the root cause and for mine it's summed up in Buddha's dictum paraphrased If you want contentment first
control YOUR DESIRES. Again I don't subscribe to equality (absolutes) genetics and epigenetics put paid to that concept. However if we all strive to do the best we can on desires then logically, eventually we as a species we will with in tolerances direct our own evolution. This is opposed to now which is simply add another veneer that amplifies the volume but never the tune.

Not withstanding that you are entitled to your perspective and to your credit you actually think about it and alternatives. Pity the rest of society doesn't do likewise rather than seek more self justification.
NB I am not opposed to be proven wrong in which case like intelligent people everywhere I'll change my mind.
PS I don't accept all that NK says either but that is another topic.

Jonathan said...


I hear you - you're jumping to the ultimate solution to fix the problem, but I'm interested in understanding your underlying assumptions.

We both obviously agree the sweatshop is bad, but we differ on the $40k vs $1 million dollar thing. I find that interesting, and I think if we both understood the reasons behind this, we'd both understand each other's views a bit better than going all the way to the final solution discussion...

So let's see here... if an employer paid one worker 40k and another worker $1M for the same work, I'd say that's unfair, assuming they live in areas with the same cost of living.

I'm not sure your views on adjusting for cost of living differences, but I'm guessing they might differ somewhat.

I'm trying to think of scenarios where I would find it unfair for the employer to make much more money than the worker. Maybe if you've got two guys who see an opportunity, and they're trying to decide which is going to be the boss, and which the worker, and one tricks the other into being the worker, or the worker is being nice and let's the other guy be the boss.

I think I hold the owner/founder of the company in pretty high regard, and feel that he deserves high compensation at first both for his risk (which you seem like you'd agree on for the initial startup phase) and for his hard work. Of course, you'd probably argue that the worker ends up working very hard, and I might be picturing in my mind one guy who sits at home watching TV all night while the other guy busts his butt till midnight working on a biz, and the first guy ends up working for the second. Of course, that's not really what happens in 3rd world countries, it's not because they are lazy. Hmm...

Anyway, just a few random thoughts.

Jon said...

Of course, you'd probably argue that the worker ends up working very hard, and I might be picturing in my mind one guy who sits at home watching TV all night while the other guy busts his butt till midnight working on a biz, and the first guy ends up working for the second.

Well on capitalism that's exactly what you get. People like Alice Walton get billions of dollars and do nothing. The Bangladeshi gets pennies working in frightening conditions and working his ass off. That's precisely what capitalism delivers and the proponents ask us to believe it is just and right. If justice prevailed the Bangladeshi would have a decent life and Alice Walton would get nothing. She does nothing, why should she get it all?

Of course the idea is that since her dad worked really hard he should be allowed to give whatever he's earned to whoever he wants. I agree with that. If he made a billion dollars and gives it to his kids that's fine. They should spend that and when it runs out they have to do something. But on capitalism that's not what happens. Alice Walton is now entitled to the new profits generated by workers long after her father has died. That's what capitalism does. Institutionalizes the super wealthy to continue to extract future wealth created by others. That's the core injustice.

Jon said...

Ex, I don't take your comments as brow beating, so no worries on that.

But currency is not capital. Capital is what exists under the institution of private property. You can have currency without private control of the means of production.

So on socialism you can use money. You are paid for whatever reason and that pay represents the value you created, so you can exchange it for other things of value. As long as you don't enforce private property rights then what you have is not capitalism.

Capitalism says that if I have a tool and I own it you can use it unless you use it on my terms, usually that means you'd have to pay me a portion of the value you create.

As far as Cuba, I hear a lot about state repression there but don't know too much about it. I'm making no claim about their repression. I'm only saying that the quality of life in Cuba is a lot better than neighboring capitalist countries. That's just a fact. So what that means is capitalism does not contain features that are essential for a society that is relatively decent.

But I think you're right about desire being the core problem, and we should consider Buddha's dictum. What we have is a situation where the powerful and wealthy have contrived an arrangement that allows them to do none of the work while getting most of the money. Why do they need so much? Studies show it doesn't make them happier. But unfortunately humans have trouble grasping that.

Jonathan said...


Interesting - so we're both in agreement that a person is able to give what he has earned to his children. In your example, it's a billion dollars. Is it because he earned the money, or because he now rightly "owns" that money? I think there's a distinction. Are you arguing that he worked for that money and that comes into play (i.e. he took the risk, became wildly successful, and he reaps the benefits of his direct effort), or would it simply be enough that regardless of how he came to that money, it's rightly his, and therefore he can do with it as he pleases? By this I mean it's not a billion dollars you would have thought previously was deserving to go do something else because for example, they worked for it, and he reaped the benefits.

I think you and I are viewing a business differently. I think I view it more like an object, or a possession which was created and now owned by the entrepreneur. It's like building a home. If you work hard and build yourself a house, it's yours to keep. You get the benefit of the shelter which remains in the years after you stop working on it. You might have a plumber come and fix things, and you can extract a massive amount of benefit from the home, throw parties, invite lots of people to come, but at the end of the day, you built it, you paid for it, you own it. The fact that it's a huge mansion doesn't come into how much the plumber "deserves" to get out of the house, only the complexity and difficulty of the work. The same level of work and effort on a larger house doesn't mean the plumber deserves any more money.

Suppose the foundation starts to crack, and you hire a team of people to fix it, or even make improvements. They get compensated by the difficulty of the work, but *not* based on the resulting benefit to the home you will then enjoy as a result. Otherwise, you'd have plumbers come in and say "boy, your tub is really leaking and to fix that pipe will cost you $100 if you have a 1500sf house, or $1000 if you have a 5000sf house because after all, you will get much more benefit from your house if it's larger and I fix this, than if it were smaller"

If the plumber wishes to take part in the benefit of a large house, he should build his own house and fix his own leak - then the full fruits of his efforts will be realized.

This is similar to how I see a business - I built it, I own it, the benefits deserve to go to me.

Obviously, we both agree that the large business owner who uses the power of his business to abuse is wrong, but it's the abuse of power which is wrong, not the inherent arrangement in benefit distribution which is unjust.

Jon said...

"Ownership" is a description of the relationship between a person and what is often called the "means of production." Tools, factories, assembly lines, etc. You don't "own" a sandwich you just made for instance. That's is often referred to as a posession. So that includes your toothbrush, your home, etc. All sides agree that you are entitled to dispose of your posessions and use them as you see fit provided of course you don't harm others in the process.

If Sam Walton works and makes money the money is his posession. People say money "works" but of course it doesn't really. Money buys ownership claims. Tools combined with labor generate goods produced and these are sold for money. So it's means of production combined with labor that creates money.

Sam Walton did that. He used tools and he worked and he earned money. I agree he can dispose of it as he sees fit. What's happened though is that his children used his money to order to compel others by force to hand over additional money that THEY create by combining their labor with the capital owned by the children. As their wealth becomes more extensive they achieve an even greater ability to extract the money generated by the labor of others, now paying 18 cents an hour in some cases for example and continuing that trend. That's why wages for the poor have actually been declining over the last 30 years though productivity continues to rise in the US. The workers do more and more year in and year out but get to keep less and less. People like the Walton's are able to leverage their concentrated power into ever greater extractions from labor, expanding inequality further, which of course leads to an even greater imbalance of bargaining power.

So yes, enjoy the mansion that you built. I have no problem with that. My problem is with capitalism, which says that you compel others by force (in our case government) to hand over the money they create. If you are living in a house you built you aren't extracting the value created by others, compeling them to give you the profits they create. So that's not capitalism.

If I hire a plumber and pay him and I really needed him to do that work, that's not capitalism. That's the kind of activity that just as easily could happen in a socialist context. It doesn't matter that it provided you a lot of value. It would be capitalistic if the plumber was compelled to give 50% of what you paid over to an owner because the plumber himself doesn't own the tools and the owner does.

Remember, capitalism is about paying the wealthy minority not for working, but by virtue of their title of ownership. If your examples don't include this aspect then they are not representative of capitalism.

Jonathan said...


So is your problem with a worker who makes $40k while the owner makes $500k that it's fundamentally unjust, or that you are assuming it's being done in a capitalistic framework whereby the worker is being compelled to give up money? If the plumber can render a service to my house outside of a capitalistic framework, then couldn't a worker render a service to a business in the same way whereby he's making $40k a year and the owner $500k? Again, is there injustice in the inequity of compensation, the act of compelling the worker to give up compensation against his will, or both?

And 100 bonus points if you can offer an explanation without the word "Walton" in it.

Jon said...

The difference between hiring a plumber and hiring a worker is all about the tools. The plumber is free to do whatever he wants with his own tools. The sweatshop worker is not. So the plumber is not acting via capitalist property relations but the sweatshop worker is.

What would happen if in Bangladesh they used the tools to create shirts and decided that the meager compensation they were getting for their efforts was not the best they could do. They could sell them elsewhere. Let's just suppose that the people in the factory are responsible for acquiring fabric. They make the shirt. They give it to Wal-Mart at a pre-arranged price. What if they decided they didn't like that price and wanted more? The state would come in and beat them. That's the difference between the plumber and the sweat shop worker. The plumber is free to decline your price and put his tools to alternative uses. The sweat shop worker faces state violence if he does the same.

Jonathan said...


You just told me (for the 3rd time?) what is wrong with the sweatshop worker. I understand that, and I agree it's injust.

However, you did not answer my question yet again.

"Again, is there injustice in the inequity of compensation, the act of compelling the worker to give up compensation against his will, or both?"

Previously you said that it seemed unjust that Raj makes $40k and the owner makes $1m. Does this seem unjust, or are you willing to make a positive statement that it is unjust? If you had the power to make this arrangement illegal, would you?

I'm not talking about sweatshops, capitalism, or the practical limitations of legislation, I'm asking about this one specific point in your philosophy.

Jon said...

Oh, I thought my answer that it seems unjust but I wouldn't legislate against it was what you were looking for. I think it is unjust, but I'd hesitate to legislate against it for practical reasons.

I think justice says that people should generally be compensated based on their contribution. An entrepreneur takes risks, innovates, and should be compensated based on that as well as his labor. The capitalist, who makes no productive contribution, according to this understanding of justice would likewise receive nothing for his effort. On capitalism the one that does zero gets the largest share. That's unjust.

Examinator said...

Thank you for your comment. It has changed my perception of your understanding of the relevant theories.
My bad and apologies for the miss-perception.
I'm aware of the distinction in economics but my usage was intended in the generally understood (interchangeable) sense of (non intrinsic valuable) tokens by which to justify status and therefore the use and abuse of POWER.
e.g. if you had a time machine and went back 100years to the mountain tribes of PNG with a bag full of Kina (peal like shells ) and gave them to an average tribal member....he would become a 'bigman' in that his status would instantly change and he would be able to (ab) use the POWER these tokens would bring him. The same effect would exist if you gave him say 20 pigs.
The point is that at some point currency becomes capital and thereby POWER.
To me the base flaw in Smith's theory is that it doesn't address the base human instinct for superiority (power aka guarantee(?) survival of the individual's genes. In short both Capital and means of production are merely the outward manifestation of the same thing, POWER.
Likewise, Marx equates this with the ownership of the means of production. He doesn't address the above outward manifestation of homo sapiens genetic imperative.
Cuba is also rife with corruption, cronyism, and nepotism.... i.e. the two Castro Bothers. Che was a brilliant revolutionary /general but as a leader of a nation/ politician He stunk. Hence went off to fight other revolutions.
The problem with all philosophies political and otherwise they are based on a series of assumptions that DON'T fit all circumstances and like a rifle shot that it 1mm off target at the barrel exit the further the target is from the core principal to more it misses the intended goal.
So in real pragmatic terms Jonathan's libertarianism sounds good at the barrel exit but when it comes to a society (an organized mass congregation of individuals who gather for MUTUAL benefit) the less organized the society becomes in terms the original principal/purpose of society.

Examinator said...

Part 2
In a tribal situation , where every one knowns each other and relies on them for their mutual survival there is more freedom for concepts like rampant democracy etc. In real terms they tend towards SOCIALism.
Once you move from everyone's voice has the same value you inexorably move towards a centralised government and away from the importance of the individual per se and towards the predominance of the institutionalised organization. The same happens with lesser organizations like Corporations....This is why I push the idea of making Limited liability to be done away with. In term of the risk the reality is of corporations it that they reduce the risk in favour of those who can use them.
e.g. look at what happened to the corporation that owned the industrial complex that caused Bopal disaster?Look at what happened to the company that made the breast implants; or maybe the corporation that manufactured, sold asbestos; grew, manufactured sold tobacco products. What did any of the big players in those industries suffer where was their risk.... yet all of them knew of the risk was all on the the most helpless...the worker.
Sorry Jonathan but your argument is ultimately based on a series of false assumptions. And relies almost entirely on the that afore mentioned concept of MY benefit and to MY genes. In it's crudest form 'law of the jungle' . In which case 'why have societies? ' the effect would be the same.
Eas I said aren't we then simply animals in suits the same subset of humanity will still survive i.e. those who are dominated by sociopathic traits ?
From an ethic perspective surely we strive to more.
I argue that either we try and controll our desires (emotions= bestial insticts) or we are as billed self aware/deluding animals in suit.

Examinator said...

PS My solution is , as always, break the nexus between wealth and power.
Marx and Klien both confused the means with the cause.

Chad said...

Congrats Jonathan on a solid victory, your arguement was flawless - kudos.

The other ironic part of this is the complete distain and hatred for a single person when the basis of his arguement was that she does nothing. If she does nothing them she is not responsible for the sourcing avenues Wal-Mart has. Since she does nothing then she does not make the day to day decisions.

Then as I think about JC's passion to protect the sweat shop folks I can't help but think about what their lives might be without the contract to Wal-Mart. When they band together for working conditions, better pay and all the things JC barks about the chances are high they will lose the job and Alice Walton will have zero to do with that business decision - she's hired people to make those decisions.

So JC would like these people to fight with a real chance to lose their jobs.

When you only have labor to sell your going to always need to be cheap or you will be replaced.

Again great Job Jonathan.

Chad said...

For me, I guess the biggest concern here is the anti-American ideals you believe in JC. Having discussions about distribution of wealth, social security, taxation is fun, but when step back and review your foundational beliefs they are opposite of the founding fathers, opposite of what this country was born under and anti-american really.

God - Nope, Limited Gov't - Nope, capitalism - Nope.

It's sad.

Examinator said...

Your argument only hold true so long as you are limiting your thinking/options to status quo.
You repeatedly ignore the reason/purpose for Societies/civilizations or at least give me a plausible alternative to the currently accepted definition.

Keep in mind not every has your mental acuity nor your “acceptable” level of sense of humanity or you hide your sociopathic tendencies well. While your skill of reason etc is less self referential dogma based than say the Tea Bag mentality both fail to see that if everyone were to apply your theoretical (if selfishly myopic focused) views, how everyone would know where the line between acceptable and unacceptable is.

In short rules/laws are essential for the existence if not running of society, given the wide spread of competences that exist rules/laws MUST be written to cover the lowest common denominator. In truth it is the the lowest common denominator that needs most of the direction /control/ protection, for the sake of society. On a pragmatic governmental/legal perspective their options are limited in that if they make them too narrow the bulk of people wont understand the nuances or those with clever lawyers will simply circumvent either the law or consequences for their own personal benefit ...not the country's.
e.g when you get up in the morning you don't go to work for the good of the country you do so for your prosaic benefits.

If you had read the book I've mentioned several time it shows how mass human behaviour although made up of individual's own self interests can cause unintended consequences. e.g. ONE CAR slowing down in traffic or one out of sync traffic light can cause grid lock . The book offers other examples.

The same applies to one or a small minority in society who decide for their own different reasons that THEY should be able to do something slightly out of the 'acceptable (?) range and you have ….... Governments by definition must deal in the Greatest good unless you have a different * workable * functional definition/plan
of society.

I am suggesting that your philosophy is fundamentally inconsistent with the notion that society is for mutual benefit for the majority by means of democracy. Rather it is based on the concept of maintaining the power of the most ruthless most exploitive. One could suggest it isn't that far from the concepts that caused the Civil war. i.e. the wealthy by virtue of that wealth are entitled to govern and exploit the powerless (poor is substituted for slave and foreigner/non American white for black ) for the benefit of the rich.

This is a fundamental problem and all other issues of governance and politics are subsets or consequences arising from the above belief in the above exceptionalism.

Jon said...

Chad, where do you get that the founding fathers were capitalist? Slavery is not capitalist. Capitalist is pay for wages and free movement of labor, so the worker can leave and offer his services elsewhere. And basically killing Indians and taking their land isn't capitalist. On capitalism land is sold and property rights transferred based on a contract. That was just theft.

And regardless of that I say you shouldn't worry too much about aligning perfectly with the founding fathers. Why should you? They are not saints, they're humans with strengths and weaknesses, sometimes commendable other times deplorable. You seem to look at them like saints of the Catholic Church. They were just humans, like the rest of us. We're fed a bunch of crap about them when we are young. The defects are ignored, positive traits magnified. You shouldn't view it as sad that people say we should do things differently than what they did. This is the way people act when they recognize the founders for what they were and get past the myth making.

I don't know how much you'd say about small government. Was it small government in service to the poor and big government for the rich once again? They weren't afraid to invoke the power of government to exterminate natives and take their land. I'm not saying I know a whole lot about it, but I think you have a lot of myths floating around in your head about them if I had to guess.

Chad said...

They were all that and more and make no mistake they were flawed men and because they knew men were flawed they put together (or tried to) put together a framework/structure for a new government to limit the power of it. It is and should be the second most cherished document for any US Citizen, but of course it has been under attack before the ink was dry. When you read writing by Jefferson, Washington - many entries in the Federalist Papers it is a common theme to fear government and they did a fabulous job slowing down the death of this nation.

In regards to the founding fathers and capitalism - For the record, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and of course Adam Smith were all capitalists. No, you say? How can they be capitalists when capitalism didn’t even exist back then? Isn’t Adam Smith considered the founder of modern day capitalism? Well, yes. In fact, Adam Smith published his well-known work “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776. So if the idea of capitalism didn’t really exist back then, what was there, only socialism? Or what did they call their economic structure? Well, you see before capitalism there was the idea of mercantilism. What’s that, isn’t that the same thing? Yes, for the most part. Remember though, giant multi-national corporations did not exist back then. There were nations, though they acted like corporations of today. It was each nation, and its generation of product that gave them their strength; much like products and services do for today’s corporations.

Chad said...

Like I said in a previous post, it's so easy to stand on your moral high ground today and call the founding fathers murders, slave owners, tyrants and whatever else you want to - you have that luxury because you have/had zero skin in the game, you weren't there in the heat of the battle.

Your like the guy who yells at the TV during a football game questioning the play call that was made and not executed as if his/your call would have produced better results.

It would be scary, very scary to see what your constitution would look like.

Chad said...

What I am confused/perplexed about here is if you hate this country so much then why not move/leave? I hated everything about Illinois because it is such a Liberal sess pool so I left. I wanted to live in Indiana, but to accommodate both my work and my wife's work we had to move to Ohio. Then I studied the surrounding counties then cities to find the most Conservative town I possibly could.

You know your ideas/beliefs will never take in America, you got 3 strikes against you with no God, no Capitalism and a belief in Socialism so why stick around?

It's kind of like the Global Warning thing - your absolutely convinced its man made - it's happening and anyone with a whisper of a different idea is a moron, but yet you aren't living to what you believe. Yes you say you've trimmed certain things in your life, but that's like being a little pregnant. You still took 2 family trips on airplanes, driving an older model car that is pumping unsaid amounts of carbon in the air and the list goes on.

Just curious about that.

Jon said...

Adam Smith was not a founding father, Chad. Alexander Hamilton was, but guess what Alexander Hamilton did? Rejected Smith's advice regarding pursuit of comparative advantage and he implemented instead what was called "infant industry protection." That is he invoked government to protect industrial development. His solution was big government involvement in the economy. So after years following Smith's advice and languishing in poverty, much like third world nations do today, Hamilton pursued what was later pursued in places like South Korea and Japan. The British wouldn't allow us to do it. In fact they wouldn't let any of their subjects do it, which is why they remained poor. But in the US we won a war against the British and hence earned independence, and ultimately prosperity, rejecting the fundamental assertions of Adam Smith and instead going with Hamilton's government intervention approach.

As far as your claims about me the founding fathers, were they not slave owners? Were some of them not murderers? I understand that people are a product of their times and I'm not screaming at them about it. I'm making pretty reasonable claims I think. They had good qualities and bad, did some good things and bad. That's not exactly like screaming at the TV for a bad football play. In fact it's pretty much the opposite. So I don't know why you characterize me in a way opposite the way I actually write.

Jon said...

And of course I don't accept your claim that if I don't agree with everything the powerful do (make war, pollute, kill) this means I hate America. You are the one that wants to prevent Americans from implementing their ideals. If anything wouldn't this mean you hate America, not me?

The majority wants restrictions on carbon emissions. They want single payer health care. They want strong Social Security and tax hikes on the rich. They want strong unions. They want banking regulation. The few wealthy don't want any of those things and you side with them and against the majority of Americans. I'm the one that wants to give back so that other Americans can have a decent life, not be homeless in retirement, get decent health care. So if I stand with the majority of Americans and you oppose the majority and wish to block democracy, isn't it you that hates America? You hate what most Americans believe and don't want them to be able to live the kind of life they prefer.

My van gets about 18-20 mpg by the way. I think it's because the motor is fairly weak, which is fine for me. I could get a new one. Mine had 150 hp, a new one typically has about 250. So the new ones are faster, but their mileage isn't much better. And buying a new one means expending a lot of energy in the auto factory to produce it, which would more than offset any gain in mileage I would get.

Jon said...

Again, why are you saying I'm screaming about the founders? You say I'm condemning them for holding slaves. I'm not really. I'm just countering your claim that they were capitalists. Slavery and theft of land just is not capitalist. I have to be able to talk about what the US economy was like when it was founded if I'm going to address your claim that the founders required capitalism. Holding slaves is just not the kind of behavior a committed capitalist would engage in.

Chad said...

Yes air and listening to the wants of the mob poll is working oh so we'll in Spain/France and other countries who attempt to take from the rich/business using Democracy as the battle cry.

You did see the IRS report outlining the lowest cost (bronze level) for a family of 5 of the new health care will cost $20,000. Of course you know better than everyone and not only is your idea on healthcare cheap it would fix the deficit as well.

It's wonderful that you think it's Democracy for all of the have nots and do nots being able to vote on the confiscation of personal property and wealth because that is what they want. Thankfully the founding fathers put together the bill or rights and a Constitution to slow the mob's/Liberals progress.

When your talking about these polls - who's the voting block? Are they the providers and producers or are they the takers and the recipient class?

8% unemployment, 90 million additional citizens no longer in the work force or looking for work. 1 in 4 Americans Recieving some kind of gov't handout and not a single strong idea to stimulate a horrific job market so we MIT be heading to your version of Democracy after all. Probably will lead to another revolution, but hey what the hell - a good old fashion resolution is like a good face lift.

Being cheeky, but seriously my friend - the rich are hiding their money, moving and becoming very light on their feet for a reason and that is because of people (like you are here) saying that this is democracy working - get those rich and give me free phones damn it!


Examinator said...

I'm loathed to disagree but Adam Smith is taught or was,the grand father of Capitalism as a philosophy. Much the same way Marx and Engles were with Communism But in both categories there have been a myriad of versions there of since.
Capitalism is actually about the “efficiency of capital” in terms of maintaining the burgeoning British empire of the time and supporting the concept that the wealthy/ better educated were best to rule (general literacy at his time was very low and was largely limited to the idealised richer of the population), not so much wages per se that existed centuries before 'Capitalism' Smith.

Examinator said...

There were a range of philosophies around at the time, As I understand (as was taught in Economics Theory 101) most of the founding fathers were influenced by the hot new thinking/philosophy in Europe of the time... ' the Enlightenment'.
The problem with your argument is that you are assuming an all or nothing concept much of what you understand as capitalism existed Well before Smith. What is important to understand that very few of Smiths ideas/principles were new . He was perhaps the first to articulate in a cogent form i.e. a systematic philosophy. Likewise socialism was a series of disconnected ideas and ideals but didn't become a clear and systematic argument/philosophy until Marx/Engles. It is Fact that Socialism was/is successfully part of many primitive and sophisticated Cultures for10's of 1000's of years before 'Capitalism' as Smith defined/argued it in a systematic philosophy..

If I remember my history the founding fathers were all rich and considered themselves the elite and believed because they were so, they knew best for the country (hmmm) as opposed to a hereditary Monarchy. They were influenced by the European thinkers Locke and Voltaire including the Brits i.e. Runnymede (Magna Carta... the English Bill of rights... Commoner Parliament entrenching the wealthy and the Hereditary Nobles... ergo the house of reps and the house of Lords as a brake on radicalism... and their 'Legal Lords' .) This was in turn built on a British charter in 1216 codification/ semi institutionalising of the Legal system.(in this case the wealthy Lords were making consistent decisions for the benefit of the nobility i.e. the monarchy.
The constitution was a compromise betwien the two factions *at that time*. It was designed to avoid the the 'tyranny of the many', in context this meant, they as the wealthy well educated elite were better equipped than the largely poor and semi literate mass population. They were concerned that these semi illiterate poor might bring in laws that stripped them of their wealth and power.

In short United States of American 'founding fathers' didn't invent from scratch they blended several ideas THAT EXISTED AND WAS OF THEIR TIME. Hence it's focus is 200 years old/ out of date and doesn't deal with issue and circumstances of today. See Limited liability companies and corporations, off shore trusts , advertising/PR industry, the internet, TV, derivatives etc. Most of which have favored the wealthy etc.
As Jon says the founding fathers were humans and as such fallible. And should be regarded for what good they did (but in keeping with the times they lived) not as an irrevocable source of a different time and circumstances.
The constitution needs to be up graded.

Jon said...

Yes air and listening to the wants of the mob poll is working oh so we'll in Spain/France and other countries who attempt to take from the rich/business using Democracy as the battle cry.

I can hardly believe the things you say. Spain blocked democracy and implemented austerity, the very thing you recommend in response to the economic downturn in this country. The whole place has crashed and burned in response, and you want to blame the "mob." That is the people who objected to the things the government was doing, because the government was responding to the rich only.

The word "mob" is commonly used by anti-democratic people, so again why is it that I am the one that hates America when you are the one that refers to the majority of the people of the country as a "mob." You want to beat back the people and have rule by the few.

When your talking about these polls - who's the voting block? Are they the providers and producers or are they the takers and the recipient class?

They include everyone, so that includes the takers (Mitt Romney and Alice Walton who don't work but get all the money) as well as the producers (janitors, tomato pickers, mechanics, etc, you know, the people that actually work for a living instead of just taking the money that others create). But of course the producers actually prefer these policies at higher rates than the parasite class type people like Romney and the Walton family.

Jon said...

Ex, I'm not much of an expert on Smith, but for a good read check out a book I frequently recommend called "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism." Smith's recommendation to the colonies was to trap and fish, pursuing their relative comparative advantage, and leave the industrial products to Britain. In fact Britain enforced that policy by of course banning tariff protections. Nobody was going to buy US industrial products at the time because British products were superior. So how can we ever industrialize when we can't compete? Same of course was true in India and other British colonies. When the US gained independence it immidiately imposed enormous tariffs, contra Smith, and industrialized rapidly.

Chang calls it "kicking away the ladder." Countries industrialize by banning imports via tariffs. Then when they reach success with industrialization they try to prevent other nations from similarly imposing tariffs on their products. So Britain industrialized this way, then all of the sudden now that they've used tariffs to succeed they say "Tariffs are terrible, it's free markets that will make you rich." And at the point of a gun they prevent you from imposing tariffs. The US was able to resist their gun, but now that the US has industrialized, what do we do? The same thing to Haiti, Africa, and Latin America that the British had done to us, and of course those places remain poor as we did. We are kicking away the ladder.

Examinator said...

I'm not opposed to capitalism, on the grounds that we the modern society need the capital to be efficiently invested on productive activities. Not everything can be made by hands on small organizations i.e. take a MRI machine or say any means of mass transit. Multi story residencies. i.e. your ascetic inspirational person lives in one.
That is the reality of 7+ billion people.
However, I don't accept that a business needs to be humongous to the point they dominate/ distort the very center of Smith's philosophy i.e. the level playing field in any direction.
Nor do I accept that investors NEED to have Limited liability nor do they NEED corporations (with are tools, a notional construct) that have the same rights as humans! Based on that logic a carpenter's hammer or (Schroedinger Cat) should have the same rights as a human but none of the responsibility just good attorneys in it's me the bit of the corporation that thinks or feels (not humans that work for or own them) like a human.
Nor do they NEED derivative instruments like debt swaps. Clearly their purpose is to make money not create anything tangible.
I emphasise the word NEED because all these features are add ons after the theory of Capitalism and are geared to tilt the playing field in the direction of the WANTS of the rich and mega businesses . This clearly leads to abuse of power and being too big to fail.
Like the *^$@#%^*)! banks, owners of corporations, they didn't take any real risk .
The risks at the big end of business are appreciably less that those who aren't. Yet intrinsically, the risk is the same. It is the big players who enforce the risk.
i.e. a major supermarket in a shopping center pays one 1000th if any of any other shop in the center. They don't contribute to traders groups or their funded activities yet they benefit. In effect the small traders rents actually pay for the supermarket. In return the supermarkets :
can take the smaller traders products /business but if any tried to sell groceries the terms of their agreement they can stop the small trader doesn't go both ways.

Examinator said...

if one Thinks about it, if all shops in a center paid the same rate per square foot then there would be less small players fail and the supermarkets would be less inclined to undercut the sole trader.
Because his overheads would be similar.

By the way there is a well known principal of business that notes that the ratio between productive staff and non productive staff decreases if not goes the other way.
i.e. if you have 10 employees you need one supervisor ( see the bible 10 X 10) but if you have 11 employees you need a 12 th to make up the pays and a second supervisor. By the time you get to 20 product producing employees you need an office worker to process the invoices etc, personnel person. Possibly a person to do the selling who then needs an office worker to handle quotes and figures for the boss. Add another 10 employees and you need an extra supervisor and an extra pay person and maybe another personnel worker so then you need a manager to over see the non producing staff. Clearly the company overheads increase ergo the capital is less efficient unless you increase business and selling price . At this stage you are attracting competition who while smaller they can undercut you ….the Big business then starts to mass advertise and lobby the government and this costs more and new staff are required et al ad nauseum. the ration is shrinking all the time.

What you said about Smith is true but but his primary focus was on the efficiency of capital.
He was also of the opinion that UK businesses WOULDN'T seek to exploit off shore because it would weaken the nation's base (he believed in Patriotism) not Chad's faux version but because it was best for the country. Tax evasion wasn't really an option then Limited Liability Companies were perhaps still 80 year away.
Chad's version hold the wealth to him and to hell with the greater good.

What is important to note appart from his romantic notions and foibles like England first, is the concepts of a level playing field and the efficient use of capital.
Not how to avoid responsibility.

Examinator said...

I meant to add that I'm not OPPOSED TO capitalism per se Just what it has become.
Keep in mind also I'm not convinced that it's the only other option to a dicteatorship be that oligarchiac or communist or socialist.
In short I'm not particularly for Capitalism either.

Jon said...

Ex, I'd suggest that it is not necessary to have an ownership class of people that are paid for doing nothing in order to have a way to buy expensive capital, like an MRI machine. In fact we know that it is done already today. Take a look at Mondragon Corporation, which employs over 83,000 people. That kind of collectively power stemming from workers rather than non-working owners, has enormous capacity.

And this is not the only way to create funding for capital expenditures. In the book I reference, "Against Capitalism" the author proposes a 10% profit tax which is disbursed through government on capital expenditures (promising R&D, needed equipment in growing industries, etc). Plenty of ways around the problem of raising capital.

The idea from the right wing of course is that we need to insert a middle man. We need to have someone somewhere in a mansion that we must bown down in front of. He does nothing, contributes nothing. He just has these titles of ownership that we must respect and funnel the largest portion of the revenue to him. We'd be lost without him. It's really quite absurd, but it's not unexpected that his apologists claim that he is the glue that holds the whole system together. Since he has most of the money he pays stooges, like right wing think tanks, or via advertising dollars, to tell people to spew that line. They do and people like Chad buy off on it.

In the US the health insurance companies basically made it clear to Obama that a public option can't be considered even as an option for people to take part in. The reason? They said they cannot compete with it. Well that makes sense. Insurance companies have stockholders. People that do nothing but collect checks. Just middle men. How can a system like that compete with a system that lacks the middle man, who takes an enormous chunk? He can't, and so that option can't be allowed.

We could see a big fight in another area soon. The FCC has proposed government provided wireless internet throughout the US. No need for a cell phone plan because coverage will be across the nation. You can make calls on the internet. No need for ripoff cable provider prices. It's a total disaster for the rich capitalists that have the Comcast stock. It's a huge benefit for the population. So this will be a fight. Fortunately the people have some corporations that prefer easy and cheap internet access. Google's profits depend on widespread usage. Same for Netflix. But you know Comcast, Sprint, and Verizon will fight tooth and nail because it is the death of them. They can't compete with a public system because they have rich old men in mansions that want money for doing nothing. Capitalism is inefficient in so many ways, the requirement of paying the non-working is one of many reasons.

Chad said...

The austerity measures came as a direct result ot the Progressive type policies put in place to have 'free health care" and "free schooling" which ran these countries straight out of money, but you already know that sir. Was their other right wing type policies to help weaken the wall sure, but it was the people who continued to vote for free stuff - who demanded it through their gov't reps and they got it for just the time it took to run out of free money. Now the choice out of the mess is to end free things that are really not free or to find the evil group with the money and to take it from those people. The problem of course is no matter how much you take it will never be enough to quench the hunger of the free loader.

Yes Jon - lets have "free internet" for all that way unemployment can explode when Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon and the countless other companies fold. Then - who is going to upkeep the towers, adjust to new technology, sponser the football games, give out scholarships, who are we to call with Technical Support questions?

You've fallen off the deep end sir.

Not to mention the biggest problem with such a horrible horrible foolish idea is that you will then give government complete power over the internet and all phones - a huge no no to any free people, but your not interested in freedom.

You call these people middle men then by competition they should be easily removed from the market place? If they add zero value then it should be rather simple through free market capitalism to remove these people from the playing field of commerce - like you said they bring nothing to the table except additional costs so this has an easy solution which is to make sure policies are business start up friendly - maybe eliminate the stupid Patent office or at least significantly reduce the time on those patents and lets have some good old competition - its good for the soul and the country.

Chad said...

I buy it hook, line and sinker because I would absolutely love the idea that in this country you can be compensated handsomely without working because of an idea, process or previous success through hard work. Sometimes it is as simple as writing a check to someone who puts in 80 hours a week to build their dream and you sit back to reap the benifits - other times you have to get in their and work too. That is why one of my favorite - favorite shows is the 'Shark Tank'. That panel is full of Mitt Romney type guys - probably way more wealthy, but they each have a back story of how they got to sit in those chairs. Each of them started with an idea, all of them put in the hard work, ground and pound days of 80 hour work weeks, but now they are in a position to write a check to someone who brings an idea forward and riding on the back of their labor and drive - they can make more money.

Kevin O'Leary is my favorite on the show. Son of a seamstress and a saleman he took $10K seed money and is now beyond wealthy, but I know JC he is a vulture - he doesn't earn his money, he is a middle man that is not needed.

You think I am full of shit which is really fine and I can live with that fully, but I beg you to read what this man recently wrote. This is a guy who's created business and wealth, but read it carefully sir and you get to see exactly what the guy who you say offers absolutely nothing - did. Just look at all the things both directly and indirectly touched by Mitt Romney - hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of jobs that his man touched - even if just with money, the trickle down in many cases started with Romney and guys like Kevin O'Leary.

Read what that 10 year old said - its coming back round my friend and the attitude I think is shifting back to hard work and embracing capitalism/small business and investors - at least I hope so, but that young lady gets it.

Jon said...

The austerity measures came as a direct result ot the Progressive type policies put in place to have 'free health care" and "free schooling" which ran these countries straight out of money, but you already know that sir.

There's no reason to believe that and every reason to believe that deregulation in the housing industry caused the crash. Your idea is to blame the poor and offer zero evidence in support. My idea is to look at pretty much every study not conducted by a corporate think tank. There is no correlation between debt and crisis. The correlation is between deregulated finance and the crisis. Deregulated finance that funneled huge $ into the pockets of finance, the wealthiest people in the world.

Yes Jon - lets have "free internet" for all that way unemployment can explode when Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon and the countless other companies fold.

Of course the work still needs to be done. There's just no need for the capitalist middle man sitting in his mansion doing nothing collecting checks. That's why private health care can't compete with public health care. France and Britain still need doctors and hospitals. They just don't have any capitalist middle man doing nothing, so they provide a better service for half the price.

a huge no no to any free people, but your not interested in freedom.

Actually I am. What are corporations? Tyrannies. They make the decisions. You have no say. What I advocate is a situation where people also have a say. So for you to turn freedom on it's head and pretend that handing all power over to private, unaccountable tyrannies is freedom whereas handing power over to a public institution that is susceptible to democratic forces, well that's pretty standard liberterian rhetoric where tyranny becomes freedom. Remember, you are the one that despises the "mob". You don't want the people's voice to matter. For you it's not one person one vote. It's one dollar one vote.

You'll say I should just go be Bill Gates. I should just start a business, become a billionaire, and I'll have as much say as the rich to today. But I don't want that. I don't want to be king. I want others to have a voice to. Freedom for me doesn't mean I get to be king and everyone does what I say. It means janitors and field workers are just as human as me and I shouldn't be able to decide how they must live just because I'm rich.

You call these people middle men then by competition they should be easily removed from the market place? If they add zero value then it should be rather simple through free market capitalism to remove these people from the playing field of commerce

God bless you, Chad. So innocent and naïve. When you have concentrated power you have an ability to keep yourself in a position of power even if you don't bring value.

Everybody knows that US health care ranks pretty poorly even though it costs TWICE AS MUCH AS THE REST OF THE WORLD. Why do you think that is? Is that just an accident? Do you think the 35% overhead has anything to do with it? That is, profits to shareholders, advertising, CEO bonuses. That is, things public systems don't require.

Look, a gangster collects protection money. Does he really bring value? Does the grocer really need protection? No. The gangster is simply powerful, and so he continues to collect the checks even though HE DOESN'T BRING VALUE. This is the point the right wing doesn't think about. What is the effect of concentrated power on the distribution of revenue? Don't you think the more concentrated the power the more likely the scales will be tipped in favor of that power REGARDLESS OF THE VALUE BROUGHT.

I'll read your link.

Jon said...

Having read your link I notice a familiar pattern. Assertions. Here's what is true. The last 30 years have been an age of venture capitalism. Regulations is gone. Government is much more out of the way. And so he talks about it and says "Look at all the jobs I created, look at how much good was done." Uhhmm. Have you looked at what has happened in the US over the last 30 years? Wages for the poor stagnating or declining. One financial crisis after the other (there were none in the regulated years). Unemployment off the scale. Deficits through the roof as people lose jobs and tax revenue dries up. A corporate health care system in crisis. When you compare the regulated years with the recent 30 unregulated years there is no doubt what the conclusion is. This recent period of financialization has been a catasrophe.

It's a pile of contradiction. "Look how much better we've made things, and also notice that the old days of everybody having a good life are gone, so what to do? Let's do more of the things that took away the good life. Let's accelerate the downward spiral. I mean upward spiral, since you notice how much good Bain Capital and the rest have done." I mean, does the guy not read his own article?

Of course people are going to have to take risks, they are going to have to work twice as hard. We could of course work less, but with a capitalist class that wants more and more we need to consume more, work more, just accelerate all the behaviors that are destroying our planet and starving so many. The idea that we should take a step back and produce for need rather than for hoarding wealth is unacceptable. Kind of bizarre, but on the other hand not surprising. The wealthy get wealthy from the destruction, so they have to try and convince us to continue on this path even though it will destroy us because it serves their short term profit interest.

It's doubly sad because really this is not how you will become happy. Hoarding and trying to maximize your accumulations. This is not going to make you happy. A contented simple life could. And it doesn't require the destruction of the planet.

Jonathan said...


You make a good point about trying to apply my views on business ownership and applying it universally, and problems that might / do arise. However, I'm not advocating for a specific economic solution or framework that we must govern the masses by. You and I are discussing this topic on different levels. I'm trying to determine the underlying assumptions that Jon (and others) are bringing to the table, and I am doing so with simple examples. If we start with different assumptions, we're of course going to come to different conclusions, and we're going to be talking past each other.

You can always argue that someone is being dogmatic, and that their ivory tower pie in the sky philosophies are inherently selfish, but so what? That just means we have different starting points, and different assumptions. If you start from the world view that it is our job or government's job to minimize the amount of harm or pain in the world you're going to end up with different conclusions than if you start with the assumption that your purpose in life is to adhere to a specific moral code to the best of your ability, and that justice will be imparted ultimately by God. By the time you reach the question "which form of government should we have" you could have much different answers because your world view is so different.

So instead, I prefer to look for commonalities on the lower level. What is justice? Does a business owner being kind, loving, and fair to his or her worker also necessitate sharing the bulk of the businesses wealth?

The second order questions as far as "how do we prevent businesses from taking advantage of the worker" are rather pointless to look at if we have different objectives in mind.

So honestly, I have little interest in debating what methods one should employ to make the world as fair and just of a place to live in until we first explain what exactly this does and does not mean.

So what do you think Examinator - how would you determine what % of the revenues of a business should a worker get? Is it simply a function of the amount of value they bring to the business, or if they could live a comfortable life for $3/hr could it be just to pay a lower salary? If unjust, then if worker A lives in the US, and worker B lives in the Philippines, are they entitled to the exact same compensation if their level of work is the same?

Examinator said...

I suspect we are talking at cross purposes, or arguing different levels of analysis.

What I am saying that is that Capitalism (the efficient use of capital) has its in principle truths and as such does not warrant total dismissal. BUT IT IS IN A CONTEXT. Part of that context is the currently hard wired HUMAN elements Plus or minus assorted degrees (see variations in genetics and epigenetics) cannot live by logic alone. One of the issues that is to varying degree is their drive to compete (a subset of survival). One simply can't stop that because it fails the the theoretical logic test.
As I have alluded to many times most if not all 'philosophies' tend to ignore the human element ( it is often regarded as an externality in the same way in which the environment In a finite world is regarded by Feral capitalists). Chomsky brilliant as he is tend to push a absolute alternative that ignores the afore mentioned human element.

Chad as an example of the reasoning of the average person (tea bagger and the rusted on Democrats 'till I die' type) goes the exact opposite to philosophy's tendency to ignore the human element, they wrap themselves in the extreme human emotions and dismisses everything that challenges their myopic, context free limited perceptional understanding. No offence is intended but they simply doesn't understand the principles involved and argue everything from the limited perspective of protecting their place in the primal pecking order. They justifies their stance by faux logic of extreme Black or White, absolutes and reduction to the ridiculous techniques. The result is a Luddite perspective of the unknown.

I claim no genius etc. by having an infallible solution merely a mind that rebels at absolutes. Think of it in terms of Newtonian physics truly brilliant brilliant in a context of what was known But once one moves to the sub atomic or the astronomical not all of his assertions hold true.
As I have pointed out several time also, Predicting human behaviour at the micro level is nigh on a black art form but it is possible to predict mass behaviour to some degree of statistical accuracy. Hence traffic flows, advertising etc. If there wasn't so these practices would have stopped a long time back (inefficient use of capital) . You can believe it that without a sophisticated mathematical analysis of traffic etc. the chaos on the streets would be Orders of magnitude worse.

Examinator said...

Dare I say it this is also true of AGW we cant predict some weather facets with relatively fine detail, However on a medium scale not so much BUT we CAN predict long term climate outcomes with the above degrees of probabilities. Hence the nonsense of the self interested (obsessed) right a cold snap today on it's own doesn't disprove AGW is happening. In reality it added to its probability.

Chad's last missive is simply proof of that inability, unwillingness to accept the very tenuous observations of his own faculties. As you say he's still self referencing his arguments. Working on the principle that asserting something often some how makes it more true.
I've tried to show how that understanding is not the sole province on any philosopher, that their understanding/ theories are part of a virtually a never ending continuum and should be viewed in that context.
i.e. The US founding fathers encapsulated some valid observations and understanding but like Newton it wasn't the end of the line.
The corollary of that is that fixing our nation, legal system et al on something 200 year old context is manifestly a recipe for what we have a dysfunctional and unfair inequitable (inhumane?)outcome. (anybody want to objectively challange the facts?)

To me the only truth is that GUT and TOE are a long way off. The only god is context.

PS I reject you purple prose (hyperbole) about bowing down to non poducing Capitalists. But perhaps you can explain to me how what I've said advocates that.
I'd suggest that you prejudice is comming to the fore there. I own a conure (bird) property how does that make me powerful?
Private ownership in and of its self is as sterile.
If as I suggest when take in the WHOLE of my changes her money would (the level playing field) be a as important as my conure or bike ...personal indugences.
She simply would make enough and given the risks associated .... think it through.

Examinator said...

This says it all. Certainly most of what I do

Jon said...

Ex, you must be thinking I'm turning into the same dogmatic right wingers you are quick to criticize. Your point is valid regarding bowing down before the rich man that owns the plantation. I confess to getting just a bit too extreme with that comment.

I think we are talking past each other a bit. Maybe when I say "capitalism" I more mean the kind that involves the extreme concentration of power, like 1000 employees all working for a single person. Like I mentioned to Jonathan previously I can see the merit of capitalism on smaller scales such that entrepreneurs are rewarded for their hard work and innovation.

Actually I think there's also merit in the things these Shark Tank people do. Recognizing a potential successful innovation is work. What Chad doesn't offer is a defense of capitalism AS CAPITALISM. That is the person making money PURELY as a capitalist. This is Mitt Romney today. He doesn't even bother recognizing valuable things to invest in. He pays a money manager to do that. He literally does nothing. That's what you call capitalism qua capitalism. The people on shark tank actually are doing something. More than Romney.

But I will say though I wouldn't strongly object to a system that allows private ownership of the means of production on a small scale, perhaps 10 employees and fewer, I don't think I would go so far as to think this is necessary for a healthy and well functioning society. But this is probably not a critical point.

Examinator said...


Yes we are discussing the topic from different ends. By analogy you are taking about the 41st floor of a Sky scraper .
The truth is you need to invert your logic and discuss the foundations before building edifice.
Sadly Conservatives generally and some non conservatives tend to assume that no more attention is required beneath that.
e.g. Chomsky in the piece I posted points out that IF one accepts the notion that the US Owns the world then all the rest follows. However if one doesn't make that assumptions on moral grounds then the likes of Vietnam, Iraq et al and much of the rest doesn't .
One has to be in a moral 'iron age' to accept the USA's violent hegemony and that would also include it's Corporate vulturism of the less fortunate.
In reality one needs to start and periodically restart at the moral level af equity (not necessarily financial equality) and refurbish restructure our sense of society and fairness not simply build another dodgy level onto the house of Babel.
Christianity says and rightly so unto others as we would have done to us.
Frankly the $3 wage isn't it.
I find the notion that $3 per week is a comfortable life in Philippines or anywhere else as incredibly myopic/naive and simply repugnant self salving justification of Marie Antoinette who said ' if the people don't have bread then let them eat cake'.
FYI $3 per week doesn't give them a waterproof home , one with reasonable sanitation, medical insurance, work safety, etc. Keep in mind it was the Christians who took them from their self sustainable lives and put them in disease Squalor etc, crime ridden, environments. Encouraged them to breed like rabbits and banned birth control and condoms as a means of protection from AIDS.... By the way prostitution, child wages etc are all whitey's additions. In that context the living standard is neither acceptable nor is it Christian it is medieval poor at best. Smelly, Brutish, disease ridden, soul/hope depleting, shit hole existence. I've actually been in some of those areas and trust me you don't want that for you or your family. Simply because of an accident of birth.

Where is the line ? I give up I just don't accept the vulture Capitalist's as being remotely humane or equitable.
One of the things I know about business are that a mega corporation that off shores doesn't become huge other than a on the ,corpses of a lot of bodies. Look at Bhopal , the sweat shop in Bangladesh, the farmers in northern India , the natives of west Papua, Congo or maybe Chile, Burma shall I go on?
Ergo Walton et al . What is the difference between what is done in her name and in the name of C13th potentate? Who may or may not have done or ordered the repression. Ask your self do they deserve their recompense ?
To answer your question directly Zilch when it exploits institutionalises other's misery/deaths. What's Christian, ethical or moral about that?

Jonathan said...


I was referring to $3 an hour, not $3 a week, which at nearly $500 a month is a decent wage in many places in the Phillipines.

Having worked with a number of VAs for this wage and gotten to know them personally, I know for a fact you can support a family while working from home for around $3/hour. I could live pretty comfortably at this wage in the Philippines (although I'm sure I'd prefer more to move from middle class to upper middle class living honestly).

The actual number doesn't matter so much, but the question I'm asking is this - assuming one can provide a comfortable and sustainable living for someone living in a country with a much lower cost of living, is it inherently unjust that their cut of the net revenue of a company is quite small? **This is ignoring any larger opressive ramifications of a company or market forces keeping wages artificially low, or otherwise limiting the options of the worker**

For me, I've got not problem with this - it passes the do unto others criteria with flying colors. Having lived in a 3rd world country before, I know I could comfortably live at a much reduced wage than is required in the US, and therefore if I were working for a company that was raking in the dough and paying me just a small fraction of their profits, if it was providing for my needs and I had other options, I would not feel I was entitled to more of the profits. How about you?

Jon said...

Jonathan, I know your question is to Ex, but let me make a comment anyway. Maybe you've heard of comparing currencies by PPP (purchasing power parity). Essentially it's like you say. $3/hr in the Philippines is different from $3/hr in the US. I tend to think fair for equal work is something close to equal dollars by PPP.

Ex's point is interesting though, and I don't know much about that history. These people had a sustainable, satisfying life. That life was destroyed by capitalism. You drive people off the land so they can't function except by selling their labor for wages. To turn around at that point and say hey, you need to just bargain for your wages based on whatever the free market demands, well that's a load of crap, and unfortunately very common. That's what I see pretty much across the board from the right wing. "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps you slacker." Pretty infuriating given that the only reason they have so few choices is because of the very behavior of the very people telling them they don't deserve a hand out.

The point being there's another reason why the guy in the Philippines will work for $3/hr. He has very few alternatives thanks to the destruction that was imposed on his nation years ago. It's not your fault. You didn't do it. But do you benefit from it? Yeah, you do. And when he edges up towards $4/hr and you say "I'm out of here, got to find a new place that was crushed in the past even worse where they will work for less", well I'm not saying I blame you. Everybody likes getting things cheap. And the guy in the even poorer country likewise needs work just like the guy in the Philippines does. But the whole thing is wrong. This is another expected capitalistic outcome. 80% of the world's population lives on less than $10/day. That's the world we live in where everyone must be capitalist and a lucky few, many of whom are in the US, reap the rewards. Go ahead and hire that VA on the cheap but also think about and try to change this arrangement.

Jonathan said...


Yes, yes, 1000 times yes. I'm fully aware of your critique of the actions of the US and how it relates to the current situation in countries like the Philippines.

If you'll notice, I've never once advocated for capitalism in this thread - I'm just asking questions. You and the Ex seem to be reading into my questions as if I'm trying to defend the US and or all the outworkings of capitalism as you see them.

So true - fair point - one could argue that a Philippino worker has been oppressed for so long that the standard of living and cost is now quite low. Therefore it is disingenuous to argue for low wages which keep the status quo. You are in fact, acting like part of the problem.

But the question still remains - which I fortunately was finally able to get resolved in speaking with you on the phone - that is it inherently wrong for a business owner to have a larger slice of the pie, or is there something about building or even owning a business which makes it a materially different relationship.

If you told me I went into partnership with a guy from the philippines on a business, and then he's doing 90% of the work and I'm keeping 90% of the profits, I say that's completely unjust. If that same person is my employee, I see that as a different ball of wax.

Maybe you and Ex don't want to examine things on this level and can't help but jump to good part of the discussion where you get to point out the injustices in the world and show how those that think they are being good and just and are in favor of hard work leading to the benefits of a booming business, when in fact they are actually in favor of oppression. Fine - you guys can argue that all you want - but you have to ask yourself, would you rather be right, or would you rather have a dialog?

What's a little ironic here is that *ALL* off us are in agreement with 95% of the subject here. No one's in favor of being oppressive (Not sure Chad, if you were arguing that the benefits of oppression result in a greater good causing people to rise up or just arguing that it's not all bad) but when you couch the discussion in terms of capitalism being inherently wrong and immoral, you'll get a lot of back and forth talking past each other.

I think if you would have started with the premise "Capitalism has a dark underbelly that needs to be exposed, I'm in favor of a morally responsible derivative of capitalism which rewards the risk and hard work of the business owner, and eliminates the oppression"

I think we'd have a more productive dialogue if we started from a softer premise than "what has capitalism ever done for us!"

Reminds me of a similar discussion on the Romans...

Examinator said...

I understood your point well enough but I guess I didn't explain mine clearly.
I'll try a different approach.

I see you as trying to treat wages etc as separate to the community or society in which one live.
Put it this way as a well educated Whitey in Port Moresby (capital of PNG) I could earn a very healthy wage BUT with 30% unemployment street crime/car jacking/ murders, robberies as a consequence is horrendous. The “ex pats” are compelled to drive with windows closed, live in razor wire guarded dog patrolled compounds.
Add to that like the Philippines corruption , health care is sub standard, I draw your specific attention to MDR (Multiple Drug Resistant ...super viruses) see Drug resistant TB and Malaria etc.
What you are ignoring is that the probable most likely victims ore not so much the poor but those who are better off than the poor but not rich enough to live in gated communities.
In essence what I'm saying is that you can't meaningfully the living conditions and the risk to life from the wage. It's a meaningless proposition logically UNLESS you redefine the the meaning of fairness and the purpose of society.
Australia has a different culture and as such has a concept called the 'Social wage' which takes into account the facilities supplied by the country and state like police, social security, support mechanisms including day care and kindergartens, public education and universities, student loans etc. , universal health insurance and a federal government mandated superannuation payments by both employer and employee all this is taken into consideration when dealing with wage claims under their Federalised/ arbitrated Industrial Relations (labor mechanisms) .... No it isn't socialism but it does go back to the fundamental concept of the purpose of a society and the concept of fairness.

One of the things that perplexes Aussie about Americans is that we can't get our heads around that and the associated concept of enlightened self interest... the Super Bugs are one glaring example . The CDC acknowledges that the USA is a major source of them both in the amount of antibiotic abuse , the profit based input /over use in food production and in the waste flow. The final factor is that the best incubator is the poor and lack of universal medical affordability and price of drugs...again both profit based. Like it or not the Philippines system was imposed on them and it also included the flaws that prevent substantial changes (cheap labor) the root causes of this are the corruption that it the people who want to pay $3 per hour and all else is 'externalities'. I have no problem with making a % on accumulated capital but the context is what bothers me. As I said if it is under the context of reality as it exists i.e. the exploitation of the vulnerable and the bolstering of fundamentally unfair systems then no . Would they do that at home ? No because in the conservatives terms it's wrong and it's “unChristian” they, 'you' are about universal truths.

Examinator said...

My point to you is not to bash you or America but to point out that what exists is inconsistent with what “is notionally” the definition of Fairness and the purpose of civilisation.
The conservative functional notion is really like having life boats for only the first class passengers on the Titanic and claiming well they have/had in context a fair wage or they don't deserve both ...bull shit I say.
In that context I argue that the 1st class passengers are entitled to cushions and designer colors etc on their life raft but the ordinary don't ...that is fair(ness) . I'm differentiating between want and needs and putting wealth in a power neutral position. What's disingenuous about that?

I simply don't accept the artificiality of *externalities * ...that's what got the human race in the position it's in now .. have you seen that painting of the slave in chains in a life boat with a cyclone coming (that's us).
To me the US doesn't have conversations it has emotional (idealogical self interested Screaming matches ) about triviality. See the last election PR not who was the most competent.
This is + or – a western( read US [the current empirical power] Leadership).
I'm in favor of a meritocracy not what we have today.
Yes Jon, that includes much but not all of Capitalism (lite). Certainly the Vampyristic version of to day. Note the spelling , deliberate as in insidious needing the secrecy of dark corners, sucking the life and soul of both benefactor and victim.
In pragmatic terms YES I do think more regulation is required to curtain the monsters. But none of us are in the position other than a theoretical armchair discusion.
Thus trying to argue the case you are is moot. By addressing the larger issue and influencing other we as citizens may affect real attitudinal changes.

Jon said...

Jonathan I actually viewed my comment previously not as an argument against you but just an answer to your question. Obviously the PPP point was to say that yes, cost of living matters. As you know I do agree that we should contrive a system where the founder/seed planter guy is able to reap a portion of the work his employees would produce under some conditions.

Yeah, the conditions the Filipino finds himself in are not your fault, you are not to be condemned for trying to find the cheapest VA. I think we are agreeing a lot here.

Examinator said...

Somewhere in my mess of a response,( hopefully this more cogent) I put the argument that was meant to agree that the capitalist is allowed to make a profit from their capital input. However, it needs to be made within a set of parameters.
Call them laws, morals , ethics or simply fundamental principles of society and fairness.
e.g. Funding a business is fine but if it's business is to rob banks? No! Provide girls for the sex slaves trade?
Would you argue that in doing so, you are giving these poor, uneducated girls, with no future, a job, a means of subsistence and therefore a good thing (I have heard that argued )?
Pity about STDs (AIDS is just one) and the unwanted pregnancies because unprotected sex is demanded and the girls fear a bashing by the johns or the pimp for refusing. The hopelessness of it all and *its * consequences .
Would you then claim that they are 'externalities' to the capitalist's 90% take of their earnings.

[Keep in mind prostitution isn't illegal in every country in the world. Not just in the 3rd world countries.]

Would you further argue “ I didn't create the problem” “ my business model demands I exploit these girls powerlessness for my benefit (new BMW , large house).

Well then how about, setting up a sweat shop in a refugee camp and paying, say 12 Cents per garment … then claiming “I am giving them money they didn't previously have so I, the capitalist is doing what capitalists do...making money.

Such arrangements doesn't help the conditions of the exploited or really give them a chance to better themselves.
Only in in the narrowest of self-righteous justifications could that be rightfully argued.

Holding the metaphorical gun to a person's head and saying in effect “kiss my ass or die” is hardly a reasonable choice or a choice at all. To suggest that, is to support *Vulture* Capitalism.
Accordingly e I do not accept the notion that a Capitalist can come along and simply reinforce or contribute to the problem... for their own benefit and to hell with the collateral damage (real people's lives). As those justifications do.

To make what is a moral judgement here one has to ask the question do these enterprises meet with the fundamental principles?
What principles ? To make money ? Clearly not or the above would be acceptable. I'd suggest those principles are the purpose of societies, a definition of fairness (equity, win ,win, Christian values if you like) and the last one the principles of Capitalism (aka “level playing field”). And if we're honest nor does the current form of capitalism meet with the constitutional values [like *all men(and women) are equal* ] either at home or in the wider world. We're too frightened to face the answers.

I have consistently argued that logically, there are no such things as real “externalities” in a finite physical environment in fact they are an oxymoron. Infinite growth and exploitation of 'resources' are also logical physical nonsenses. And any system that deals in the physical world needs to at least be consistent with know physics/tangible realities …..i.e. you can't feed real people with notional concepts of (relative concepts) they NEED actual food and liveable conditions. Dare I say it? More than I need a new car or any other WANT.

Examinator said...

Rationally a Capitalist can't get away with saying “we need to do this to continue in business”, that in its self assumes that being in business implies a right to continue even if it means distorting or ignoring the capitalist/ moral/ sociological principles. Likewise a profit is conditional and not guaranteed.
Businesses come and go depending on their ability to meet the demand of the market *within a level playing field* et al.
Consider this, if Walmart ceased to exist because its overheads [ Keep in mind what I said about the ratio of supervisors to the productive staff in big corporations] meant that it could no longer meet the demand at a cheap price would the NEED (aka demand) stop ? No it wouldn't. Someone else ( or many *someones * ) would seize the opportunity, both probably locally.. IF(I have to introduce another concept ) it is a natural market not a contrived one. A contrived market is one that is solely for the profit and non productive. Like the sale of debt swaps, derivatives etc none of which produce anything tangible. These type of markets tend to distort the real/ natural ones again look at the housing crisis. Anybody want to argue that the world couldn't get along without the contrived markets?

Interesting thought: did you know that Grenwalls bank's micro loans risk non payment is several times less than normal business loans.

One could then ask the the question “why not make more $ available to such loans” would be less exploitive,more productive and actually help to developing the 3rd world to an acceptable level.? Answer Vulturism is more profitable, because the rich have distorted the playing field their way. e.g. The life science (sic) Corporations (Monsanto) .

So where does this leave your prosaic question (mindset) . This essay was designed to point out the lack of intellectual foundation and objective reasoning in Big is Better (vulture Capitalism) argument . And to point out the logical false hood that a real level playing field wouldn't be able to compensate in line with the above principles.
I'd say with little fear of being proved totally wrong, that the market has paid death to the need to maintain status Quo several times before. See the computer industry , motor vehicles etc. What happens is simply the jobs and capital would go where it's needed. As the mechanism would do if it wasn't distorted by corrupting vested interests.