What is capitalism, when did it start, or is it natural?

Saw a college chick that was a big proponent of "smashing capitalism" and installing a marxist/communist system. It got me thinking why do people hate capitalism? First thing that's interesting is that people don't know what capitalism is. Discuss what it is, as it seems to be hotly debated on its beginning, etc.

  1. To start, the Wikipedia page is wrong on the definition of capitalism. It describes it through the lens of Marxism and calls it an economic system.

  2. Capitalism more so resembles a social system based on individual rights.

  3. The economic system under capitalism that advocates for private industry and production, would be the free market economy. Adam Smith described capitalism using the emergence of the division of labor:

Wealth of Nations:
Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society.
  1. The people who understand the practicality of life, know they must develop some ability to produce something that may lead to a valuable and exchangeable surplus that can be traded on the market.

  2. Capitalism is social and natural while the economic system must be reflected in the private and individual institutions that allow for the free exchange of goods.

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Comments (509)

Nov 29, 2017 - 10:09am

Marxism as it was written was supposed to be the final sustainable iteration of a thriving Capitalistic society. In that sense, they're right that it's never been attempted correctly. The philosophy was a response to oligarchy - a state under which people were understandably dissatisfied. The thing is that it was written by an angsty, privileged, self-important young adult with no practical life experience. It failed to take into account basic human incentive structure. Marxism can never work in humans. Democracy rests on the premise that the majority is right, which is also incorrect.

I like Capitalism. Intelligence creates wealth which creates influence... it's a lot more above the table than most other places.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/
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Nov 29, 2017 - 10:27am

I agree. Perhaps some of the chagrin from folks stems from i) misunderstanding of marxist theory and ii) the misunderstanding of capitalism's intent.

My belief was that capitalism unfettered would likely lead to the same path as socialism/communism unfettered. On one end of the spectrum you will have a scenario where a select few folks have a centralized amount of substantial wealth, and are charged of creating products/services that are consumed by folks. However, if it's an ultimate race to the bottom to the extent that folks can't afford to consume, then it becomes a bit of a cannibalizing incident (wholly theoretical, however). OTOH, socialism unfettered really only works as long as others are gregarious in the sentiment that there is a cap on where they can aspire to, as well satisfaction garnered from societal utility broadly rather than individual utility. The second that someone wants to aspire higher, or is dissatisfied of a free rider incident, the infrastructure likely crumbles.

I like capitalism very much, as it allows for opportunities and upward social mobility the likes of which no society in the past was able to accomplish. While there are certainly cases of folks living in poverty, it's not unlike others living under different forms of economic regimes. I suspect much of the dismay from many come from seeing a greater spotlight on global issues and the perception of systemic conflict (a large part due to social media, which tends to emphasize sensationalized events while minimizing commonplace happenings in my view), while misdirecting it's root cause.

There's a closer meaning to my user name. Try reading it quickly. Perhaps you will then understand ;P
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Nov 29, 2017 - 11:03am
alpha_q:

My belief was that capitalism unfettered would likely lead to the same path as socialism/communism unfettered. On one end of the spectrum you will have a scenario where a select few folks have a centralized amount of substantial wealth, and are charged of creating products/services that are consumed by folks. However, if it's an ultimate race to the bottom to the extent that folks can't afford to consume, then it becomes a bit of a cannibalizing incident (wholly theoretical, however).

This is a very noteworthy point. Capitalism does seem to advocate for the accumulation of wealth by a very small minority of the population. The Marxists view capitalism as being a system that allow what they call "capitalists" to control the means of production. The basis and cause of oppression today is by the wealthy "capitalists" from a Marxist's point of view.

It's important to understand this because it's easy to see why this point is made and widely believed. You can see that this does seem to be the case. And it is easy to understand why capitalism becomes such a strong sense of frustration.

I don't know what ways this phenomenon of wealth accumulation and control can be reduced or eliminated. One interesting thought I had is that government and regulation creates a framework for stronger capital accumulation. Regulation acts as a limiting force on how production develops. Take land rights, as an example, only after a permit and sometimes with the requirement that a certain high barrier of investment is agreed on, can someone develop a piece of land. That means not everyone can produce off land.

But, I think if capitalism is going to survive, some form of mechanism needs to be created to increase competition and minimize the affects that large capital accumulation has on market dynamics, if that's possible. Otherwise, people will constantly feel suppressed, separating their identity away from "the capitalists".

Nov 30, 2017 - 5:18pm
alpha_q:

On one end of the spectrum you will have a scenario where a select few folks have a centralized amount of substantial wealth, and are charged of creating products/services that are consumed by folks. However, if it's an ultimate race to the bottom to the extent that folks can't afford to consume, then it becomes a bit of a cannibalizing incident (wholly theoretical, however).

Totally disagree with this statement and it is in of itself a mis-characterization of capitalism. Sure, you have the Warren Buffets of the world with extreme wealth but capitalism does not beat everyone into the ground but instead creates a pretty healthy middle class.

Take a drive through any suburb in the U.S. as an example. We're not all living in shanty huts while Carl Icahn and Warren Buffet count stacks of cash.

I think that you're falling into the popular trap of wanting to present balanced views as to not offend anyone too much. Some views are right and some are wrong. Socialism and Capitalism do not lead to the same place.

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Dec 4, 2017 - 9:01am

What's the alternative to our Democratic Republic though? A council of benevolent multidisciplinary geniusus would be rad. But they would need to truly be gods not to eventually get into it with each other and polarize the public.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/
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Nov 29, 2017 - 4:58pm

This was very well written, thank you! It definitely put into perspective the history I had been taught in grade school. I certainly wasn't encouraged to reflect on history in this sort of angle while I was in school, this totally would have gone over my head.

Nov 29, 2017 - 10:35am

The free flow of capital is the back bone to a free and open democracy. I also love when people assert that money is the root of all evil......like you really want to go skin a beaver to trade pelt for your next meal??

Monkey see. Monkey Doo [Doo].

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Nov 29, 2017 - 10:36am

Why do people hate capitalism? Simply because they can not compete and are at least rational enough to choose a system where their ability to compete is not necessary. However that is where their rationality ends, they align themselves with a system that has zero use for people who have below average ability to compete. Now why do the smart people support this system? Simple, they see it as an easy way to gain more power.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

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Nov 29, 2017 - 10:50am

One bit about Capitalism that trips me up is the environmental shit. I'm pretty Libertarian-leaning until it comes to the environment, at which point I go full Lefty. I don't even know that regulation is the answer, but there was just a 30-car pileup in Mumbai because of pollution and I won't buy ginger from China at the grocery store. And I don't want to have to wait for China to stop polluting because not enough dicks like me won't buy their shitty ginger root. But at the same time, they grew and shipped a 3-lb bag of a perishable goods thousands of miles across the world and want to sell it to me for 99 cents. So that's sort of nifty as well...

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/
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Nov 29, 2017 - 3:15pm

The worst environmental offender, China, is mercantilist--I'm not sure China is, strictly speaking, a capitalist country (although I can see both sides of the argument). In fact, looking around the world, the most polluted and filthy countries are either explicitly not capitalist or they are emerging economies where capitalism is relatively new (and I'm not talking about the fake pollutant, CO2).

Array

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Nov 29, 2017 - 3:28pm

Them and South Korea are Croney Capitalist success stories. Except for the bits about baby girls stuffed in sewer pipes and mass disappearances of old people every year... shit like that

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/
Dec 1, 2017 - 12:03pm

No regulation is the answer. Let people sue the fuck out of companies for damaging land. Those who put their faith in regulation are saying that pollution is fine to a certain level. Also regulation comes with lock outs and other obstacles to recourse. Why not let companies do what they want but make them responsible for what they do? That seems like a damn quick way to solve the problem.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

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Dec 1, 2017 - 2:16pm

Would you get rid of eminent domain then?

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/
Nov 29, 2017 - 10:50am

I agree that part of the reason hate capitalism is because they don't understand it, but a bigger reason that is connected to misunderstanding is that what most people see as capitalism is cronyism, and view capitalism as the cause for the 2008 crash.

Nov 29, 2017 - 11:41am
Stay.Hungry:

I agree that part of the reason hate capitalism is because they don't understand it, but a bigger reason that is connected to misunderstanding is that what most people see as capitalism is cronyism, and view capitalism as the cause for the 2008 crash.

Well let's not get ahead of ourselves, it was certainly part of the problem lol.

If you find yourself feeling lost, go climb a mountain.
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Dec 1, 2017 - 12:06pm

No it wasn't. Capitalism is not and has never caused a financial crash. Considering that capitalism doesn't really exist in its pure form anywhere, it sure as hell gets blamed for just about everything.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

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Nov 29, 2017 - 11:58am

People hate responsibility, effort and results all three attributed to Capitalism.

26 Broadway where's your sense of humor?
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Nov 29, 2017 - 12:03pm

Capitalism started at the end of the Middle Ages when skilled laborers and craftsmen in Europe started gaining more bargaining power and began forming guilds and companies. But it really didn't take off until credit became more easily available to common folks and joint-stock companies were invented in the 1600s (the English invented the modern public corporation and the Dutch invented the stock market).

After all, what better way for a government or company to raise capital for its empire than by issuing debt?

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

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Nov 29, 2017 - 3:11pm

Correct, and the Italians invented modern banking, and the French were the earliest adopters of modern finance, which was created by a Scotsman (John Law). The modern world really did emerge in institutions created in the last 500 years or so.

Array

Nov 29, 2017 - 1:20pm

Markets naturally occur. Specialization, trade, free association all occur naturally.

Forced equality, redistribution and centralization are not natural things, yet humans keep trying.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
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Nov 30, 2017 - 4:35pm

On the whole I support capitalism but I don't think it should be exempt from serious criticism. As I see it, the focal flaw of capitalism as a system is that it generates and then imposes external costs on society, and in some cases, these externalities can be quite grave. Because free-markets and non-interventionism lay at the heart of capitalism any sort of intercession, whether preemptive or reactive, to address these externalities becomes a gross violation of the system itself- essentially it lacks an effective moderating force and rejects any form of exogenous intervention.

Just to outline a few of the foremost negative "externalities":

Income Inequality: Income inequality is not categorically a bad thing, but there is surely an optimal level for society. I would contend that its best represented by a Laffer curve type function. However, left unchecked income inequality begets more income inequality and initiates a positive feedback loop. If you look at U.S. history, overwhelming outside forces were required to reset the system periodically, such as WWII. Income inequality is now reaching pre WWII highs.

Asymmetric Power and Influence: Concentration of wealth also leads to a concentration of power. In turn this creates a system with less equal opportunity and a political process that increasingly favors the powerful. Research has shown that the political opinion and preference of those in the bottom 90% have literally zero impact upon public policy.

Climate/Ecological Impact: Deforestation, pollution, resource depletion, ect are all severe ecological externalities that require strong economic incentives or regulatory insistence to combat.

These are just a few quick examples. The insinuation here is not that capitalism is inherently bad or that these issues do not exist in other economic systems. The point is that unrestricted capitalism, without sensible guardrails, can erode and cannibalize the society it relies on. Not necessarily to the degree portended by Marx, but enough to warrant legitimate attention.

Nov 30, 2017 - 7:40pm

Please explain income inequality. How does income inequality beget more income inequality e.g.the rich get richer?

I think 1800s capitalism is different than whatever we have now, and I contend that the central bank created in the early 1900s has had a huge negative effect on "pure" capitalism. Also our social security and New Deal programs were implemented to the detriment of future generations.

Dec 1, 2017 - 11:04am

Sure, its largely due to a preponderance of advantages that accumulate and accompany wealth. These include education, asset composition and investment income, political influence, and lower implicit and explicit rates of discount. Inversely, there are factors that disproportionately affect the poor, automation, de-unionization, globalization, and the shareholder revolution.

The relationship between income and education is as strong as you'd expect. However, the cost of secondary education has outpaced virtually any other good. Additionally, those in the top 40% on average tend to spend 4x on education what those in the bottom 60% spend.

The top 20% own 92% of America's share of stocks. In the last 20 years the DOW has quadrupled while real median wages have barely budged. The runaway affects of this should be obvious. Investment income, which is very concentrated, has eroded labor income-- see shareholder revolution.

In fact, because of the stagnation in wages the majority of purchasing power of U.S. households is afforded by debt and debt only. Recent studies have shown that debt among U.S. households is rising 60% faster than wages. This is another dynamic that perpetuates income-inequality.

Automation and globalization are topics that have been beaten to death so I won't belabor them but they disproportionately affect the poor and enrich executives and shareholders.

EDIT: Look no further than the Tax reform bill getting rammed through as I write this. We just had 8 years of monetary stimulus in the form of ZIRP and QE that disproportionately benefited large corporations who used their access to cheap capital to buyback stocks and drive asset prices up versus capex, wages, innovation, ect.

Today we are witnessing stock markets at all time highs, record profit margins, record cash balances, record share buybacks, record executive compensation, and record levels of household debt. Yet despite the soaring heights of the markets, corporate profits, and executive pay we are going to pass a debt-fueled tax reform whose focal point is lowering corporate tax rates. Again, it goes back to asymmetric power and influence on public policy. Corporations have been using the near-free capital available to them to buy back stock over the last 8 years, which enriches the top 20%, but more specifically the top 10%.

The additional capital made available via tax reform will be no different. This is how income inequality begets more income inequality.

Dec 4, 2017 - 1:53am

External costs? Every system has costs...what is this "serious critique" that one must level that will fix this? That's how this universe works...we aren't god, there are always trade offs. Capitalism is the best because, once again, it's how the universe naturally works.

And really, I mean true free markets. Not the crony, centralized, mostly quasi-socialist system we now have in place. Critiquing "capitalism" based on the current state of Western economies is not useful or relevant, might as well rate Ferrari as a company based off the performance of Lamborghini road cars.

Clearly you have no idea how a free market actually functions - the market is the moderating force. Incentives are the moderating force...that's literally the point. How do you suppose it should be done instead? The way it's been trending over the last 200 years, and failing?

Are you arguing another world war is preferably to income inequality?

Concentration of power is by nature not capitalism or free markets. We have such an incredible concentration of power right now precisely because we've slowly eroded our freedoms and liberties in order to gain some of the so-called "necessary moderating forces" that you claim are so vital to a healthy society.

The US leads the way in generally keeping a clean environment. This insane, ridiculous assumption that naturally all free markets want to destroy the environment has no basis in reality, fact or really anything other than childish, nonsensical drivel that comes from extreme far-left ideologue talking points.

I get what you may think the problem is, but I really must ask you to think about how exactly we got to the point we are now...we have nothing like unrestricted capitalism, and we haven't almost as soon as we signed the constitution into place.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
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Dec 4, 2017 - 9:59am

Take a deep breath.

The criticism is not that external costs exist. It's that the system shuns any attempt to moderate those externalities from any force outside of the system itself. This can slow or suppress response times in addressing or removing said externalities, especially when they are the source of a competitive advantage.

The invisible hand was conceived when the world economy was largely mercantilist and even prior to the industrial revolution. It's efficacy as a moderating force in a global economy where corporations comprise 69 of the top 100 world economies is inadequate at best. Unless you think you can dismantle or reset the current state of the world economy then your fetishizing of pure capitalism is just a theoretical wet dream. Transnational corporations have enough scale, capital, and clout now to command the system that you contend would moderate them.

PeterMullersKeyboard:

Capitalism is the best because, once again, it's how the universe naturally works.

Capitalism is an immutable law of the universe? Again, capitalism relies on a sovereign authority recognizing and enforcing private property laws. This, in and of itself, is already a violation of the state of nature and requires the assistance of an entity outside of capitalism-- the state. I think I get your point, but the statement was to grandiose and clumsily stated to let be.

PeterMullersKeyboard:

Are you arguing another world war is preferably to income inequality?

This is an absurd and pointless form of argumentation. It's a baseless straw-man with no substantiation with regards to either A.) the intent of my argument or B.) the logic behind the presented dichotomy.

PeterMullersKeyboard:

This insane, ridiculous assumption that naturally all free markets want to destroy the environment has no basis in reality, fact or really anything other than childish, nonsensical drivel that comes from extreme far-left ideologue talking points.

This is not the assumption, it's just a useful strawman for you to rebuke. Again, there is no assumed malevolence towards nature or anyone or anything else, it's just corporations optimizing their outcome within the existing incentive structure. The actual argument is that in some cases, the organic incentive structure of the system itself is either not strong enough, or too short-term focused, to protect long-term collective public interests-- such as deforestation, soil depletion, oceanic pollution, ect.

PeterMullersKeyboard:

I get what you may think the problem is, but I really must ask you to think about how exactly we got to the point we are now...we have nothing like unrestricted capitalism, and we haven't almost as soon as we signed the constitution into place.

My critique was of capitalism through the lens of the 21st century economy. Pure capitalism is merely a thought exercise, as is pure socialism, or pure anything anything at this point. Perhaps, "pure capitalism" is as impeccable and self-sustaining as you contend, but it also exists in a vacuum and arguing about its sanctity does little to advance the current state of economic affairs.

Best Response
Dec 1, 2017 - 11:21am

Capitalism is simply a system of free exchange rooted in private property. It represents the mechanisms that naturally emerge from the ownership of one's productive effort and the ability to exchange with other productive parties. The ownership component creates the incentives required to stimulate production (i.e., your ability to generate and retain the return/loss). The exchange component creates the mechanism required to direct production (i.e., the price mechanism).

To put it another way, capitalism is a cooperative system where strangers produce for strangers. It's why/how, as an example, Croatian blue-fin tuna fisherman supply Japanese consumers without even knowing them. People liken markets to democracy but, in fact, markets are far superior to democratic political systems. If you want a yellow tie, for example, you can purchase a yellow tie. You do not need permission from 51% of the public.

Marxism/communism is not an alternative system. It's simply the destruction of social institutions that have emerged organically over time. It destroys them but it does not replace them. When you read Marxian literature (real Marxian literature, not the shit that e-socialists post on huff post comments board), you'll notice that it's just a critique of capitalism. This is why all socialist/communist systems necessarily degenerate to state-run/crony capitalism.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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Dec 1, 2017 - 1:15pm

"Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering, and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man."

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Dec 1, 2017 - 2:14pm

Capitalism is not "social and natural" - it is grounded in hard-won institutions which are legalistic in nature. Think of the Magna Carta, or the first joint venture companies in mercantile Europe. It is about private property, plain and simple - private property that is harnessed to generate privately held profit. In contrast to tribal, feudal, or communist/some socialist formulations of the economy, capitalism rests upon the notion that private rights to property and transactions involving those properties must be held sacrosanct and protected from violation by mutual covenants that are enforced by the Leviathan. In many ways, this makes for a great system.

The reason people are mad, however, is because there are many permutations of capitalism in society, not all of which serve people well from a utilitarian perspective (i.e. the greatest good for the greatest number), or an ethical one. Unfettered free market capitalism tends to lend itself to a system of haves and have-nots - and if you have a sacrosanct right to own only meager posessions, like the displaced agrarians of the industrial era, then the concept loses a bit of its shine.

There's also crony capitalism where private property exists, but the channels of transacting with your property are calcified and exclusionary, and the Leviathan may protect the covenants of its cronies better than those of the non-cronies.

A number of atrocities have also been committed and justified in the name of acquiring private property and profit - colonialism, slavery, war, etc.

Further, a system which holds private property and the individual rights of its owners above all else may neglect to address issues like the tragedy of the commons and other collective action problems. Just because you own a factory that pollutes, do you have the right to churn out noxious gas to the detriment of your fellow man?

I think it is naive to discuss a world without the notion of private property - it just seems ludicrous to me that a system without this concept could function in a way that imparts maximum benefit to its members. What I think is more reasonable to discuss is the ways in which private property may sometimes need to be regulated in order to avoid some of the harms discussed above.

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Dec 1, 2017 - 2:31pm

It's true that private property is a key function of modern capitalism. I think Esuric's point about capitalism being natural is that functioning trade markets have always sprouted up throughout history--trade between humans is natural. Take Venezuela, for example--a despicable socialist tyranny. There is a vibrant black market for virtually everything--this market operates under the natural laws of supply and demand and the innate idea of private property (that what I trade to you is mine and I have the right to give it up or not for that which you posses).

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Dec 1, 2017 - 3:16pm

What I meant my "natural" is that, whenever you have property you "naturally" get exchange, which "naturally" creates the system we call "capitalism." It's an if-then logical progression. I didn't mean to imply a seamless social process.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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Dec 1, 2017 - 4:23pm

To clarify - my contention against the notion of "natural" is aimed at the OP. I think Esuric's comments, and his use of the word "natural" are spot on. The free market, and other forms of relatively free exchange are the logical result of institutionalized private property.

I was just not clear on what OP meant by "Capitalism is social and natural while the economic system must be reflected in the private and individual institutions that allow for the free exchange of goods", but from what I can gather, I think he mistakenly characterizes how capitalism came about.

Institutions do not follow from capitalism in the first place - capitalism follows from institutions in the first place. Capitalism is not merely the exchange of goods - a barter system achieves that. It is the socially sanctioned and contractually enshrined notion that what you produce or acquire is yours, and not the tithe of your church, your lord, your tribe, or any other paternalistic ruler. On this point, I think the three of us are in agreement.

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Dec 4, 2017 - 1:56am

Ah yes, more regulation - that's worked so well, hasn't it?

Some of you really need to spend some time in the real world.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
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Dec 4, 2017 - 2:05pm

...Thanks bud. Maybe you could disclose your position in the real world so that we can all benefit from your worldly knowledge, and how it applies in this debate? No? Then sit down and be quiet with this BS.

I'm a conservative and generally think that the government does a poor job with regulations. I think Dodd Frank and Basel II/III are great examples of regulation run amok, because rather than limiting credit risk, regulations are increasing it by crowing large lenders out of the middle and lower market.

Nonetheless, if you cannot understand why there needs to be a regulatory response to resolve collective action problems like climate change, you are most likely being an ignorant mouthpiece for the brand of conservatism that is on its way out the door in today's world.

Next semester, I suggest you register for a Game Theory class and start out by learning about the prisoner's dilemma. That should set you on your way to eventually having the requisite knowledge for engaging in this conversation.

Some other regulator-driven stuff that OP has probably concluded hasn't "worked so well", in his unique experience as a participant in "the real world":

  • The Securities Exchange Commission, created by regulators to facilitate transparency in the markets.

  • The Federal Reserve Bank, created by politicians to stabilize aspects of the economy

  • Credit rating agencies, whose judgments as to creditworthiness are mandated by regulators as part of a legitimate offering.

  • The busting of trusts in the early 20th century, to avoid a host of problems arising from monopoly

  • Sarbanes-Oxley, which was devised to hold executives accountable for financial chicanery that they ordered or sanctioned after WorldCom and Enron

The list goes on...

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Dec 2, 2017 - 12:59pm

My experience is that people who hate capitalism don't really hate "regular" capitalism, but crony capitalism. And that's understandable.

How politicians can be bought (through lobbying) for pennies, relatively speaking, is disgusting. Or entities masquerading as capitalist free-market supporters, while pocketing politicians for special treatment, essentially making competition almost impossible (looking at you, telecom).

Next time you speak with anti-capitalist people, try to find out what they really hate.

Dec 4, 2017 - 1:57am

I don't think you understand at all how capitalism works or what it means...there is no "oppression" and "exploitation of others" in a voluntary free market - which is the long way of saying "capitalism"

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
Dec 6, 2017 - 7:06pm

This is the most naive, ignorant, and downright childish response on the forum.

Go ask a factory worker if they wake up at 5am voluntarily.
I'd guess most of them have no choice, as they are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

A simple way to prove this is to see how many lottery jackpot winners return to their minimal wage (or close to it) job afterwards.

Don't be so asinine. Let's call a spade a spade.

And let me add, there is nothing wrong with oppression or exploitation.
But there's a huge problem with denying said fact.

Dec 4, 2017 - 2:15pm

Actually, capitalism was the result of agrarians in Europe, in the latter half of the last millennium, finally gaining the ability to self-determine their economic existence. Finally being able to buy and sell goods for profit. Finally being able to lease land, etc. from their lords, not in some feudal patronage relationship, but in a contractual, legalistic one.

Capitalism is precisely the opposite of how you characterize it. It is based upon mutual, self-determined agreements, and respect of those agreements by entities who previously took whatever they wanted from their destitute subjects.

Next time you feel like taking this misanthropic view towards the status quo, remember what preceded it:

  1. Mercantilism - essentially plundering and murdering indigenous populations for the sake of the king's pocketbook.

  2. Feudalism - i.e., growing up and dying on the same plot of land as your father, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on, for no other reason than your lordship has the favor of the current monarchy.

  3. Papal rule - i.e. the pope and his cronies building lavish cathedrals in the Vatican using the proceeds of indulgences that they sold you - you know, those little pieces of paper that will totally get you into heaven in exchange for your meager earnings.

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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:04pm

Some Thoughts on the Capitalist Ethos of "Greed is Good" (Originally Posted: 09/13/2010)

 In the same year that saw the outbreak of the American war of independence a quirky academic who definitely fit the popular profile of a crackpot, a peculiar-looking, hypochondriacal, absentminded professor of philosophy who was known to literally wander the streets talking to himself, and who remained a lifelong bachelor with an unusually close relationship with his mother, Adam Smith, wrote a bulky book, The Wealth of Nations, that has ever since provided the capitalist system and its true believers with a handy rationalization for selfishness and greed. 

 In a thousand or so pages Smith constructed an argument that supposedly turns looking out for #1 into a social virtue. At least the choir of corporate bosses, bankers, and Wall Streeters that he continues to posthumously preach to think so. But despite his sophisticated if strange mind, Smith's vaunted case for self-interest boils down to little more than Gordon Gekko's uncouth assertion that "Greed is good". Professor Smith fancifully theorized that in a so-called free-market society greed would operate like an "invisible hand" guiding all the participants in the economy to do the pragmatic and productive thing, and orchestrating the creation of a lavish prosperity that would trickle down even to those at the beggarly bottom of the economic totem pole.

 Talk about an ivory-tower theory! Those of us living in economic real time, so to speak, know that turning people loose to follow their greed is a prescription not to increase the general welfare but rather to wind up concentrating a despicably disproportionate amount of wealth in the grasping hands of a few cutthroat alpha male capitalists. When avarice is deregulated the result is NOT a free-market meritocracy in which hard work is fairly rewarded, in which enterprising individuals generate affluence for society as a whole. What we really and lamentably get is a society in which a few aggressively greedy captains of industry and finance grab and lock up most of the capital created by the labor of working people, leaving only the economy's crumbs for everyone wearing a blue collar.

 It should come as no surprise at all that this is the way the world really works under capitalism. If you allow people to be wantonly guided by greed do you really think that you're going to have a system in which the big boys of big business don't monopolize as much of society's bounty as possible? A society in which the super rich, out of some kind of ethical good sportsmanship, refrain from exploiting their power to unfairly rig the game? And a global economy in which the wealth of nations is equitably spread around? 

 The notional notion that you can harmlessly and beneficially harness greed is actually far more unrealistic than the supposedly discredited socialist conviction that greed can be put in check by a system based on altruism and social compassion. At least socialism recognizes greed as a dangerous human foible and attempts to discourage it. Capitalism, on the other hand, tries to fool itself that greed can be channeled as a force for good. Capitalism and its diehards make the exact same mistake with the greed that lurks in our human nature that "the company" in the movie Alien makes with the frightfully feral creatures discovered on a distant planet. Capitalism and "the company" both mistakenly think that they can safely manage and make use of an unmanageably destructive quantity. And the result in both cases is ruefully disastrous.  

 The Ripley character in Alien had the right idea about how to deal with an untamably dangerous force, you fight it, you don't try to make it your b**ch. You can dismiss socialism as a utopian pipe dream if you like, but at least socialists choose to nobly fight not foolishly accommodate our selfish and anti-social tendencies. 

 Let me reiterate by referencing another movie, self-interest is most certainly NOT an "enlightened" guiding principle to live our lives by, rather life experience and history teaches that it leads straight to the dark side, for individuals and societies. Capitalism willfully embraces the dark side that our greed inclines us toward, and socialism resists it. Capitalism then is the Darth Vader of socio-economic systems, and socialism is Luke Skywalker leading the revolt against it. 

 Unfortunately today the world has been swallowed up by Darth Vader's evil empire, global capitalism is in the geopolitical and economic catbird seat for the present and the foreseeable future. The pro-greed ethos of capitalism is having its way with human history, setting it on a course for more and more misery. 

 The materialism and ethical egoism ("The view that each individual should seek as an end only his own welfare" –  Runes' Dictionary of Philosophy) at the empty heart of capitalism have created a spiritually unfulfilling, morally unhealthy, and economically unjust existence for us to endure. And the human condition under such a system is only likely to grow more socially and spiritually sickly. 

 We already live in a world in which billions, with a B, are serving an undeserved life sentence of poverty, powerlessness, exploitation, drudgery, and grief. And not only does there seem to be no hopeful prospect of a general pardon or compassionate parole for the innocent masses of mankind currently jailed in the morbid reality of capitalism, things clearly appear to be going in the opposite direction of hopeful. The wealth gap between the poor and the plutocrats who sit pretty at the top of our society's food chain continues to obscenely widen. The economic, technological, and military goliath nations continue to pursue globalization in ways that cause horrendous hardship for the enlarging underclass of the Third World. And the ecological chickens of the greed-driven Industrial Revolution are beginning to come home to roost in a big way in the form of catastrophic climate change.

 Ironically, even though they pride themselves on being "realists", none of this makes much of a dent in the devotion of capitalism's adherents. They can certainly see the mote in the eye of "Marxism", to use their favorite word of reproach. They're always quick to cite the fact that the Soviet Union was an unpleasant and ultimately unsuccessful system as conclusive confirmation of the conventional wisdom that socialism is a failed experiment, a historical footnote to the wishful idealism of those of us on the loony left of the political spectrum. The demise of the Soviet Union is supposedly proof positive that capitalism, a system "rationally" predicated on the profit motive is the only genuinely viable system and that anyone who thinks otherwise is living in a cloud-cuckoo-land. If conservatives would only apply the same critical analysis to their beloved capitalism!

 Alas yes, it turns out that it's really capitalism's faithful who are delusionally out of touch with the entire unpretty picture of cold, hard reality I've been painting. They enjoy smugly thinking that the commies we're knuckleheadedly naïve for believing that selfishness could be socially engineered out of human nature and refuse to acknowledge the plainly pernicious social consequences all around them that result from the blatant way we befriend our greed under capitalism. They like to speak in euphemistic terms such as free enterprise and the Protestant work ethic. They glibly blame the victim when it comes to homelessness and poverty, simplistically surmising that anyone not doing well must doubtlessly lack drive and a well-developed work ethic. Some still even cling to denial about the glaring reality that industrial capitalism is helping to cause global warming and threatening our very survival as a species. Etc., etc.

 Whatever it takes to keep their flimsy faith that self-interest is enlightened and greed is good, hmm? Yep, the intellectual dishonesty of free-marketeers seems to know no shame when it comes to rationalizing their own wishful idealism. Never mind that the touted triumph of capitalism has come about by trampling upon the working class, upon the democracy we profess to hold dear, and upon morality, spirituality, and social solidarity. Never mind any of that, capitalism lets people freely fly their greed flag, and that freedom is supposed to covers its multitude of sins! Staunch supporters of capitalism just curl up with this libertarian rationalization, retreating into the ideologically defensive fetal position of being proponents of "freedom" and refusing to face the real-world evils of a system that gives way too much free reign to man's piggish proclivities. 

 Let me be perfectly blunt here, the greed, consumerism, and ethical materialism codified by the capitalist system are sending our civilization down an express road to perdition in a Gucci handbag. But the corporate owned media establishment keeps propagandizing us to think that me-ism, mammonism, and materialism are working for us. Capitalism may have taken away our spiritual sense of direction and moral moorings, but not to worry, just keep your hungry-eyed gaze fixed on that carrot of upper middle-class affluence it dangles in front of you. Keep selfishly chasing the dream of living the lifestyle of the rich & famous. Keep shallowly functioning as though man does live by bread alone, and as though you can never have too much bread. This is the bosh bourgeois programming we're constantly bombarded with by our crass culture nowadays...

If you're interested in exploring this and other related topics in greater depth you're cordially invited to visit my new website, The Total Revolution Project.com Just click on or copy & paste the address below. Thanks.

www.thetotalrevolutionproject.com

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:07pm

But if you look at the stats, those poverty stricken nations are the ones that don't have freedom - they have a ruling elite. Their governments are the ones in control, and the people can't do anything to get out from it. To have a socialist society, there has to be an entity in control, which is a very powerful position to be in. In general, power corrupts

http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking.aspx
Check out the Heritage Foundation's Country Freedom rankings. I know, it's probably a biased source, but if you can find a different source for info such as this, I'd be interested to see it.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:11pm

Who has time to read this, let alone write it?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:12pm

Seriously, way too long. And you are wrong about Smith. I read Wealth of Nations in high school (for fun, btw) and not once in the book did he say that 'greed was good' or any variant of it. Smith's point is that individuals should act in their rational best self-interest. Greed is an emotion. Nothing about it is rational. All Smith was advocating is that free individuals need to make choices based on rational contemplation, not because they are forced to engage in transactions against the state. The whole book is an argument against mercantilism, and has nothing to do with Gordon Gekko.

looking for that pick-me-up to power through an all-nighter?
  • 1
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:14pm

For what its worth you are correct that capitalism is a total shit system but if you aren't going to suggest an alternative and you are going to just trash capitalism then you might as well be an anarchist.

Also, alot of your reasons for why capitalism is a shit system are completely off base.

Back to the barter system

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:15pm

Is Capitalism Dead? (Originally Posted: 05/17/2011)

When global financial markets collapsed in 2008, many governments around the world responded by increasing spending in the name of "stimulating" their economies. With the world seemingly embracing Keynesian economic thought and a greater role for governments, many politicians, activists, and media commentators declared that "capitalism is dead."
Two years after governments bailed out failing banks, auto manufacturers and other companies, they are moving to impose new restrictions and regulations on much of the world's financial sector.
But is capitalism truly dead? Can we ignore the past success and prosperity brought about by policies of low taxation and minimal government? Does failure need to exist for the market to work? Is there a new or old economic system that is better than capitalism, or will capitalism emerge stronger than ever as economies recover from the recession?

"The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard." - Francisco d'Anconia
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:16pm

I think we do need creative destruction, recessions are like diarrhea, they're unpleasant but they help get rid of bad things, in the body it is germs, in the economy it's bad companies. Capitalism is the best system extant as it relies on voluntary exchanges and there is no element of coercion in it. We need to go back to a small government.

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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:18pm
futurectdoc:
I think we do need creative destruction, recessions are like diarrhea, they're unpleasant but they help get rid of bad things, in the body it is germs, in the economy it's bad companies. Capitalism is the best system extant as it relies on voluntary exchanges and there is no element of coercion in it. We need to go back to a small government.

Or bad banks... oh wait.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:17pm

Capitalism obviously is not dead, anyone telling you otherwise is using hyperbole to advance a political point or agenda.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:19pm

Capitalism isn't dead: the reality just isn't as perfect as the philisophical abstraction and that bothers some people. There are reactionaries who freak out when any rules are imposed, but the reality is that capitalism is unstable sometimes, and political leaders aren't simply going to let a country collapse because a few business morons gambled wrong. If anything, capitalism is spreading across the globe......

Get busy living
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:20pm

Capitalism, socialism, the world, and the future (Originally Posted: 12/10/2013)

You're a smart bunch of guys, take a look at this:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/class-tension-in-san-franci…

Yikes. I can see how they would be frustrated: real estate prices are skyrocketing and then if/when GOOG moves it's HQ somewhere else they will crash and the city will be stuck with the fallout. But $1MM fees for buses? There's a better way to do things for sure. Big picture: the writing is on the wall and this is only going to escalate. I see San Fran as yet another canary in the mine, and not an isolated incedent.

Mind you, this article isn't written by some hack leftist blogger from their mom's basement. None other than Henry Blodgett decided to commit the following to writing:

"the larger issue - increasing inequality - is not going away. And yesterday's protest in San Francisco is likely only one of many that we will see over the coming years."

Carl Icahn, Warren Buffet, Bill Gross, and a slew of other obviously capitalist folks are saying about the same. Even the pope, from a strict Jesuit formation, has commented on this and the last time public sentiment swung this way in America we had an upsurge in union activity accompanied by socialist political discourse. This time is different though given it's global, and it's increasingly globally organized. Unlike last time, companies are running out of third world countries to export jobs to and there is a limit to how far labor can be commoditized. Some companies, notably Ford, deliberately paid their employees enought to afford their product but this does not seem to be a major trend.

Here's a thought excercise:

The middle class is going to have to come to terms with its expectations and then do something about it. You can't expect your company to pay you more than it has to when you or your pension own shares of that company and demands the company reduce overhead in order to boost profit. Cutting executive comp is only part of the picture: you can ultimately get a higher salary or you can have your share prices go up. 403b's, pension funds, IRAs, family trusts, and a gazillion other defined contribution plans make up huge shares of buyside money. If Communism is defined as the people owning the means of production, and the peoples' portfolios own companies....then mission accomplished. Capitalism on a large scale becomes a mechanism of making things efficient: motivate people with more money and they'll put out more effort and brainpower. But we're neither completely socialist nor capitalist, and the world at large is a mish mash of mixed economies and unique local arrangements.

You also can't give all the power in the employer/employee relationship to the employers. Think realistically: what happens when one person in a relationship has all the power? They tend to abuse it, mostly because they can. But no one wants another Detroit and there's no use in squeezing business too hard (something DeBlasio realizes, so we'll see how he does). If the middle class wants to continue to exist, they're going to have to take a more active role in running things and not just hope that they can walk off a 9-5 with a million dollars. The rich and the poor will always be with us but I think the middle class is basically going to realize that they've been demanding to have their cake and eat it too. Kicker is though, the middle class is being rapidly decimated. And maybe that's the plan. I don't know. The only solution that makes sense to me is to develop the concept of income as a commodity, but that's another post for another day when I've thought it through and can make an actionable recommendation.

I have no solution to propose and no opinion to put forth today. Theoretical discussion fascinates me and I'm curious what you think. If you're going to answer.....please make an effort to THINK, and avoid clogging this post with canned spam from CNN or FOX news political talking points.

Have at it.

Get busy living
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:23pm

One of the most polluted cities in America is Los Angeles; the city with some of the worst class tensions and greatest economic inequality is San Francisco; the big city with among the worst gun crime is Chicago; the city with some of the highest rents in the world is NYC.

See a connection?

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:24pm

No? Is this some sort of look they are all run by liberals thing?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:25pm

You need to quantify more. I see only a pattern of cherry picking anecdotal cases to support your usual assertation that conservative GOP politics are the solution to everything from AIDS to insomnia. Actually read the post, think a bit more, and then get back to me.

Get busy living
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:26pm

Little off topic so I apologize but I saw Dallas Fed President Fisher speak a couple months ago about how Texas is just killing it and why he sees that continuing. Some quotes loosely assembled from memory,
- "Some of my Co-Workers joke with me that Texas added the most minimum wage jobs, to which my reply is YES along with the most jobs in every pay grade."
- When pressed as to why that was, "We do not have the best social services here in Texas and we don't need them, people come here to work." Interesting tid bit, the majority of aliens moving to Texas are from California.

Rarely will any of my posts have enough forethought/structure to be taken seriously.
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:27pm

The Nordic economic model seems to work very well. Denmark is the biggest social welfare state and has the lowest income inequality and people in Denmark tend to me the happiest in the world. They also have the highest minimum wage in the world.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2010/02/weodata/index.aspx

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/table.do?tab=table&language=en&pco…

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/indexes/global-peace-index

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570835-nordic-countries-…

Maybe Karl Marx wasn't so off in saying capitalism doesn't work and it would crumble on its own.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:29pm

Did you just compare a 'country' of 300 million. Do you know the cost of living in Denmark? The tax rate? Or do you just say OMG this place is amazing and look at everything through that lense without taking one moment or iota of intellect to actually understand what the fuck you are talking about. Denmark doesnt even pay for its own national defense.

IP will be here soon and he and I can get into this debate again.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:32pm

The greatest social experiment with communism in history was the USSR, and while it took 70 years, it failed. America has been a capitalist society since inception, and it has yet to fail. Basic economic principles will always win out in the long term. Pushing for equal opportunity will always trump pushing for equal outcomes, as the latter tends to only make everyone equally miserable in the end.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:28pm

The future of America and the world involves increased welfare and essentially paying people to not work. While this might seem like a rejoice for liberal America, it will be the door opening event for eugenics and other population control measures.

See, I don't give a shit if someone has 10 kids. I mean sucks to be them, but whatever. When I have large amounts of left side bell curve people reproducing and being provided for from my wages, that is when I start caring. You cannot have paternalism and freedom, just doesn't work. So as more adults become wards of the state, so will the state start acting more and more like their parents.

Look at our medical system for a moment. Many of the most costly and expensive drags on the system are 100% caused by lack of control or poor choices. If everyone quit smoking and reduced what they ate, combined with modest physical activity, you'd see health care costs plummet.

Right now I don't care what people do because smokers and fat people pay higher premiums, higher co-pays, etc. Once I have to subsidize them I will 100% demand a seat at the table.

Maybe this is what is best since these people act like children. I will happily fork over more from my paycheck to placate these people, but do not think you will enjoy the same level of choice and freedom as a tax payer when you are dependent on someone else.

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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:33pm

To do:
- Register as Democrat (before ANY public political action)
- Make a shit ton of money
- Harvard JD/MBA
- Seek power position
- Become President
- Run moderate for 4 years, assure Republicans take the House and Senate in second term
- Demolish every welfare, immigration protection, and minority program
- Sit back and watch as the Republicans secure the White House for decades

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:30pm

I don't think he read the articles he posted. The Economist article was pretty good (as The Economist usually is) and it was hardly some cheerleader for socialism or the increased welfare state.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:38pm

Societies naturally trend towards increased governance: the Congressmen demand more power, the people demand more largesse and the bureaucrats demand more jobs. I see no compelling reason to believe that the US will head in any different a direction than did the host of crumbled governments by which it was preceded.

A previous poster heralded Nordic countries for their supposed contemporaneous happiness, satisfaction and prosperity. Yet, these are simply countries that landed in their bed of governmental benevolence more gracefully: they were made wealthy by way of capitalism long ago, trended - as all countries do - towards bureaucratic bloat, and have thankfully maintained order among their overwhelmingly homogeneous populace. The hoi polloi of America diversity will not succumb to the same order, as we have seen.

Of course it is possible for the USA to continue operating as a bureaucratic state! The US possesses such unparalleled and globally significant wealth that redistribution can continue ad nauseam. In time, however, we will be succeeded by the freer economies that form in our stead. We're already seeing this in Singapore and Hong Kong, whose material wealth accumulated with mind-boggling rapidity.

In a global economy where financial assets are so freely transferable and so easily mobilized, wealth will flow to those areas that most liberate it from restriction.

It should be no surprise, then, that neither the Nordic countries nor any other country has ever meaningfully improved the standard of living of its average citizen without free enterprise and largely free trade. This is an inescapable truth of economics. That, as it seems, the "have-nots" cannot accept a reality in which they are less wealthy than their peers (even if they are, by virtue of capitalism, wealthier than 99% of the world's population) is irrelevant.

If we cannot accept the maxim of free markets and instead focus on something as vacuous as "income inequality" (which, in practice, is the world's wealthiest 1% of citizens complaining about the success of the world's wealthiest 0.01% of citizens), then we are surely doomed to repeat history.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:34pm

Capitalism works, but requires mobility of labor.

There is a job shortage in North Dakota, with positions starting at over 6 figures for driving a truck full of sand to fracking wells. Wind turbine technicion jobs in Oklahoma start at 60k for cleaning debris from turbines.

I know these are only anecdotal, but i think it illustrates the issue that many people would rather stay in the city, collect their welfare/unemployment and complain about the haves, rather than improve their own situation through hard work. Without socialistic "safety nets" the choice would be work or starve, and labor would be allocated more efficiently.

Just my two cents.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:36pm

The ironic thing about the recent rise in income inequality is that as of late, it has been substantially increased by the Fed's actions. Wealthy people own assets- financial, real estate, luxury goods- and the monetary policy of the last 5 years has done nothing but push those assets up in value. So, the leftist, liberal, equality for all government is just as much to blame for the current dichotomy seen in our economy as any other faction.

To clarify, the biggest issue is still what has been pointed out in above posts that as long as a safety net(welfare programs) exists, there is no incentive for the public to take any responsibility and produce, and we will continue to see an incredibly flawed, entitlement mentality. But, I just wanted to point out the irony of the current office holder's policy that is supposedly taking the side of the disadvantaged and little guy, but in reality, they(the fed and Obama administration) are only making the rich richer. Way to go poor people.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:41pm

Did you really just post this?

Excerpt from other "Top Article" on that site:
(In regards to Obama senior military advisors)
"The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on US citizens or not.
Those who will not are being removed."
-Dr. Jim Garrow

Quick Google (the irony huh?) of this guy reveals an article where he hypothesizes that Obama planned on carrying out nuclear attacks on the US this past fall.

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.
  • 1
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:40pm

NYC, Chicago, LA, all great cities. They can fuck up big, but people will still want to live there. Placed like Detroit have a smaller margin of error. That is why liberal policies in the above mentioned cities can go on for an extended period of time and placed like Detroit get nuked.

And by liberal I mean higher tax, pro-union/labor (pensions, wages), negative/neutral on business and high crime (unless deterred). The cities that fail also tend to be formed industrial cities with large amounts of lower educated and impoverished people clustered together.

So cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc. These cities can live or die based on choices they make.Pittsburgh diversified into Meds & Eds and is doing ok. Cleveland is struggling. Philly is ebb and flow. Detroit is hurting bad.

Liberalism depends on other peoples money. Like it or not, pensions and welfare are paid by tax revenue or borrowing. If your city doesn't have a draw to keep people and you keep the benefits up you will have to borrow. In the near term that is fine, but eventually you will be fucked. Simple math.

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Dec 7, 2017 - 4:44pm

My only point was that the harder these people push for income equality, or gun control, affordable housing, or clean air it seems that they get the opposite. I find it ironic that San Francisco is the front line in the war of classes.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:46pm

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
  • 2
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:47pm

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
  • 2
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:57pm

Black Knight:

I just came across some very interesting research. Apparently people's perception of income inequality is greatly exaggerated. Any idea how we can profit off of companies pumping the income inequality brand? It seems to be taking off... I always wanted to profit off of things like this.

Here's the research in case anyone's interested: www (dot) sciencedaily (dot) com/releases/2013/12/131216080504 (dot) htm

Just curious, why did you feel the need to replace each "." with "(dot)?"

Array

  • 1
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:50pm

UFOinsider:

Mind you, this article isn't written by some hack leftist blogger from their mom's basement. None other than Henry Blodgett decided to commit the following to writing:

"the larger issue - increasing inequality - is not going away. And yesterday's protest in San Francisco is likely only one of many that we will see over the coming years."

Carl Icahn, Warren Buffet, Bill Gross, and a slew of other obviously capitalist folks are saying about the same.

UFO, I enjoyed your post and tend to appreciate anything that shines a light on the fact that we live in a mix-market society, but I really have to call-out your point on Buffet bro. Warren Buffet is in no sense of the word a capitalist, not anymore at least. When you have the government straight up handing you money in back room deals involving bailed out banks, you're pretty far into the realm of corporatism (or crony-capitalism). Add to that the entire existence of the Buffet Rule and calling him capitalist becomes downright fucking offensive.

Also, Blodgett isn't a leftist hack but he is a well-known Keynesian+egalitarian proponent, so in many peoples' eyes (mine included) it's sort of a wash.

“Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do”
  • 3
Dec 7, 2017 - 4:56pm

Liberals have destroyed every city they've ever run. Thank goodness Rudy and Bloomberg managed to rescue NYC from becoming the next Detroit. With Deblasio though, NYC will revert back to its pre-Rudy state of urban decay.

Dec 7, 2017 - 4:58pm

2015 Definition of US Capitalism (Originally Posted: 10/22/2015)

Pretty interesting concise article that I found quite insightful explaining US Capitalism.

This is not the path to prosperity either. In fact, if I were to update the T-shirt for today, I would include these entries:

US government: You have 330 million cows. You milk them down to the last drop, tell them that they're the freest cows in the world, then train them to be afraid of men in caves.

Federal Reserve: You have two cows. You give them to the banks for free. The banks slaughter them and eat all the meat. You conjure money out of thin air and buy them two more cows.

Wall Street: You don't actually have any cows. But you rake in billions from selling out your own customers and illegally manipulating the price of milk. The government gives you a slap on the wrist.

Silicon Valley: You have two cows. They don't produce any milk, and your operation loses $500 million per year. Top VC firms invest in your cows, valuing your company at $25 billion.

US small business: You have two cows. You cannot sell the milk without a permit. You cannot drink the raw milk that comes from your own cows. The government fines you $10,000 for failing to file form BS-01519.

US big business: You have two cows. You hire the former head of the FDA to be your corporate 'advisor'. You get a huge government contract. Now you have two million cows.

How about you– any ideas?"

twitter: @StoicTrader1 instagram: @StoicTrader1
  • 5
Dec 7, 2017 - 5:03pm
VALuation:

I get tired of reading ZeroHedge. Shit is depressing and the claims are empirically weak.

Not to mention t's the worst looking website this side of 2002

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Dec 7, 2017 - 5:02pm

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ZH is from a bored bulgarian dude named Georgi Hristozov that noticed US traffic is 1-tier and is good for monetization

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:04pm

I'm not a massive fan of ZH either, but it's difficult to counter the message in that article. Who actually thinks the U.S. is a paragon of economic freedom anymore?

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:07pm

I tend to believe that it was an over abundant faith in pure capitalism that got us into this current state. Don't get me wrong, I love capitalism but I have to agree with Marx that unchecked capitalism is a dangerous thing for the overall stability/longevity of a well functioning market.

For example, I think that the ever widening gap between the wealthy and the impoverished is a major issue that needs to be addressed. I don't believe that a well functioning economy has 1% of the population representing a vast majority of the tax revenue, but that is were we are now. There are systematic changes that need to be made, it shouldn't happen over night.

Take it for all it's worth.
  • 1
Dec 7, 2017 - 5:08pm
Aliazz:
I tend to believe that it was an over abundant faith in pure capitalism that got us into this current state. Don't get me wrong, I love capitalism but I have to agree with Marx that unchecked capitalism is a dangerous thing for the overall stability/longevity of a well functioning market.

For example, I think that the ever widening gap between the wealthy and the impoverished is a major issue that needs to be addressed. I don't believe that a well functioning economy has 1% of the population representing a vast majority of the tax revenue, but that is were we are now. There are systematic changes that need to be made, it shouldn't happen over night.

The top 1% of the country earns 19% of the $$ but pays 40% in taxes. Let me say that again. 40% of ALL taxes, meaning the other 99% only pay 60%. Capitalism works because it is a natural extention of peoples incentives and drives.

People are motivated primarily by two things: Survival instinct, and self-interest, in that order. The only problem with capitalism is that corruption happens if left unregulated. But we are so far from unregulated. Capitalism works, let the private sector decide if it needs to spend more, not the fuckin government inflating our dollars. Anyway, I gotta book to finish...

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:09pm
Aliazz:
I tend to believe that it was an over abundant faith in pure capitalism that got us into this current state. Don't get me wrong, I love capitalism but I have to agree with Marx that unchecked capitalism is a dangerous thing for the overall stability/longevity of a well functioning market.

The fact is, the U.S. has never been purely capitalist, therefore there is no evidence that the current crisis can be blamed on "capitalism". It can be blamed on welfare capitalism, state capitalism, but not pure capitalism. Businesses, Wall Street, the entire economy as we know it is built on and have to maneuver around a foundation of artificial, economically unsound government incentives and disincentives which are backed by the rule of law. Therefore, none of the symptoms of our economic house of cards can be blamed on "pure capitalism".

However, though I believe we would all be better off with a mature, totally free capitalist system, I understand that this is the system we are stuck with for now whether we like it or not and we have to perform maintenance on this system via some Fed measures to make it the best it can be, to reduce economic suffering and appease public psychology.

I have faith that as technology develops and robotics, materials science, nanotech, biotech, and computers all exponentially progress in the coming decades that this will change. These advances should improve education, manufacturing, operations, basically every aspect of society. This will eliminate many of the baseline worries that leftists and liberals have, such as poverty, environmental destruction, etc because everyone and everything will be 'buoyed' by an increasingly effective base of technology. This will also cause people to become more logical and rational and thus government's role in the economy will shrink because people will be better educated and rational players in the market and thus will warrant less government teat.

Merely extrapolating here, in an optimistic way.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:11pm

Off topic, but I've read that the movie version of Atlas Shrugged finally has a green light and they're casting now.

I've heard Angelina Jolie and Julia Roberts bandied about for the role of Dagny Taggart. Neither one gets me too excited. Especially if AJ gets the nod, they'll probably try to pull a Hollywood stunt like casting Brad Pitt as John Galt just to generate "buzz".

Any thoughts? Is this a movie that even can/should be made?

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:14pm

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have been quoted as saying that they are fans of Atlas Shrugged, which is why they signed on so quickly. Other than that they haven't really voiced political opinions so I trust them because they are decent actors.

Hopefully Hollywood producing and directing will resist the urge to twist or the message. I've only seen corporations and capitalists portrayed as villains in Hollywood and though it has made for a few good movies such as Michael Clayton, I tire of it.

This is totally irrelevant but that reminds me, the Tucker Max movie "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" is showing wide release in a few months and in his book he is quite critical of liberals and socialists, despite the contents being completely irrelevant to politics.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:16pm

I'd rather see them cast an actress who is both hot and brainy for the role of Dagny. My top pick would be Natalie Portman. Geena Davis could have pulled it off ten years ago, but she's a little long in the tooth now.

Oh, and ST2008:

71% of Americans have confidence in Obama to fix the economy.

That should scare the SHIT out of anyone with half a brain. I would love to be proved dead wrong and find out that you actually CAN spend your way out of debt. But if 71% of a country that is so easily distracted by sideshow trickery believes it, I feel pretty safe in the assumption that it just ain't so.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:17pm
Edmundo Braverman:

71% of Americans have confidence in Obama to fix the economy.

That should scare the SHIT out of anyone with half a brain. I would love to be proved dead wrong and find out that you actually CAN spend your way out of debt. But if 71% of a country that is so easily distracted by sideshow trickery believes it, I feel pretty safe in the assumption that it just ain't so.

Obama reminds me of a dude who walks in to a bar, realizes he doesn't belong, and is scared to act normal for even one second lest they see him for the fake he is.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:30pm
MDR:
Say what you will about GW, but at least the man had principles that he stuck to. The idiot in the oval office today just goes along with whatever the populist heard has to say. He has no spine.

I am waiting for the day that the mainstream media actually calls Obama out for his lengthy list of lies and half-truths. This guys is without a doubt the worst politician I have ever seen, but I suppose that only matters if the media outlets cared about how he can't seem to tell the truth about anything.

At any rate, I am going to call BS on that 71%. Seriously, if only 29% of this country doesn't have faith in Obama and "his" policies than I could practically name just about all of that 29% from my circle of friends alone.

On a lighter note, Charles Barkley was on Jay Leno last week and he mentioned how upset he was that so many Americans and politicians are already hoping that Obama will fail and that we/they should be fair and give him a chance. Question. Where was Bush's chance? The liberal left and mainstream media crucified Bush for 8 years, starting with day one.

This country could use a little less hypocrisy and a little more responsibility.

Regards.

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan
  • 3
Dec 7, 2017 - 5:46pm
MDR:
Say what you will about GW, but at least the man had principles that he stuck to. The idiot in the oval office today just goes along with whatever the populist heard has to say. He has no spine.

Principles of G.W. Bush:

1.) Against nationbuilding ---> Iraq War

2.) Hunt down and kill Bin Ladin, make those responsible for 9/11 pay -----> Iraq War and failure in Afghanistan

3.) Capitalist virtues ---> Financial Bailout

Oh yeah, he stuck to his principles. Get the fuck out of here.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:20pm

Tradinganalyst I agree. Though I myself am more in favor of Libertarianism (small government) than Anarcho-capitalism (market fulfilling all government roles).

Drexelalum, I agree - the current state of education and society is woefully irrational. I meant a theoretical alternate reality and "mature free market" as in it had a few generations to develop and such. I ended with the technology note because I feel that education will eventually improve enough to ensure more rationality among the populace to the point where a smaller government, libertarian society is feasible.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:21pm
Putz:
Tradinganalyst I agree. Though I myself am more in favor of Libertarianism (small government) than Anarcho-capitalism (market fulfilling all government roles).

Drexelalum, I agree - the current state of education and society is woefully irrational. I meant a theoretical alternate reality and "mature free market" as in it had a few generations to develop and such. I ended with the technology note because I feel that education will eventually improve enough to ensure more rationality among the populace to the point where a smaller government, libertarian society is feasible.

Not sure how the lazy will feel about the technology continuing to take over their jobs...

It would be one thing if "education" was synonomous with developing "thought," but a couple hundred g's on parties and powerpoint regurgitation isn't doing much to improve that a whole lot

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:27pm

Heh, just thought I'd put that out there. But hey, if there is direct brain interfacing I'm sure we'd still "work". Even if you make physical scarcity obsolete, there will still be a scarcity of ideas and value.

Totally irrelevant to the thread, I know, but I felt like the thread was going to die soon anyways and wanted to keep the conversation going/bump it up.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:28pm

2 words.....

GINI COEFFICIENT

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.
Dec 7, 2017 - 5:34pm
Where was Bush's chance? The liberal left and mainstream media crucified Bush for 8 years, starting with day one.

Bush was extremely popular throughough late 2001 and most of 2002 after 9/11 (>90% approval ratings), so he definitely had a chance. He used most of that goodwill towards the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. I don't remember the media really turning against him until late 2004 during election season.

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:39pm

The fact is that GWB stuck to what he believed in no matter what anyone said. He said that he wanted people to get better, more affordable healthcare and passed Medicare Part D- the biggest expansion of federal welfare spending since the Great Society. He also said he wanted to better education and passed NCLB- another great expansion of government size and power. All together GWB did what he wanted and stuck to his principles- just not always very good ones.

Republican Presidents>2% of Democrat Presidents>GWB>98% of Democrat Presidents>Obama

So what do you do?
-I work for an investment banking firm.
Oh okay; you are like my brother, he works for Edward Jones.
-No, a college degree is required in my profession

Reality hits you hard, bro...
  • 1
Dec 7, 2017 - 5:42pm

According to always trustworthy and unbiased wikipedia (copy pasted below), ST2008's appalling usage of less than signs is totally fine by academic standards (total BS in my opinion):

An additional use of the notation is to show that one quantity is much greater than another, normally by several orders of magnitude.

* The notation a ≪ b means that a is much less than b.
* The notation a ≫ b means that a is much greater than b.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_than

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:45pm
M6V10:
LMAO.

The posts from the Republican/GWB lovers on here made me laugh..literally.

And who said spending your way out of a downturn has never worked? Did you fail history?

Idiots.

Idiots? GWB was a huge spender, pushing the biggest increase in social welfare spending since Johnson. The Republican Party is currently in quite a mess, filled with populism and rampant religious moralism. I, on the other hand, am a libertarian.

What the fuck are you talking about? Did you fail economics?

Dec 7, 2017 - 5:47pm

...I love all the assholes complaining about all the gov't spending now when Bush and the Republicans spent 6 years (when the Republicans had total power) spending on anything and everything they wanted and wasting time with shit like Terry Schiavo.

If people really gave a shit about cutting government spending, they'd have voted for Ron Paul. I laugh when I see these fucking retards at the "tea parties" complaining about taxes and government spending. I saw one retard holding a sign that said, "Don't blame me, I voted for Sarah (Palin)," it's ridiculous beyond belief.

Dec 7, 2017 - 6:01pm

Also, keep in mind some of the reasons that the (measured) income inequality in the US has increased:

  1. We take a tremendous amount of immigrants that start off at the bottom of the income ladder. They make much more than they did in their home country, but they're still poor by our standards. As a thought experiment, imagine what would happen to inequality in a country of 1M if you added 100K people who had incomes in the (previous) bottom quintile. Obviously, measured inequality would go up, but when you look behind the data you realize no one was getting rich at the expense of anyone else.

  2. Women used to be "barefoot and pregnant." They didn't get college degrees and they didn't work. These days, that's no longer the case. Since, "birds of a feather flock together," men and women with similar education backgrounds and incomes (or expected incomes when young) often marry one another. That is, highly educated and productive people tend to marry one another, further increasing the gap between rich and poor.

Below are some other random thoughts on the topic:

  1. Inequality says nothing about mobility. Maybe there's a certain gap between rich and poor, but people move along quintiles a lot. And maybe there is a relationship (positive or negative) between inequality and mobility. In other words, even if measured income inequality has increased, you actually can't draw the conclusion that "the rich are getting richer." Check the Economics Group income inequality post, I put up a video that explains this point. (Statistical groups are not flesh and blood human beings that remain fixed/constant over time, and should not be treated as such.)

  2. Sometimes the studies look at household income inequality, without controlling for household size and the fact that family size among various groups has changed over time. So, maybe in 1950 the bottom quintile and top quintile both had the same average number of children. And maybe today, the bottom quintile has a lower number of people on average. Maybe it turns out that "rich families" are rich because they are often comprised of two working parents. And poor families are more likely to be comprised of single, recent college grads, or households with only one working parent due to divorce.

  3. Is "correcting" income inequality (even to a modest degree) achievable? And if so, what sorts of unintended consequences will result?

What's my point? You can't just look at some statistical artifact and draw a lot of conclusions that people try to draw. Data and the studies that analyze them are complicated, sometimes confusing, and often leave a lot to be desired.

  • 3
Dec 7, 2017 - 6:03pm
econ:
Also, keep in mind some of the reasons that the (measured) income inequality in the US has increased:
  1. We take a tremendous amount of immigrants that start off at the bottom of the income ladder. They make much more than they did in their home country, but they're still poor by our standards. As a thought experiment, imagine what would happen to inequality in a country of 1M if you added 100K people who had incomes in the (previous) bottom quintile. Obviously, measured inequality would go up, but when you look behind the data you realize no one was getting rich at the expense of anyone else.

  2. Women used to be "barefoot and pregnant." They didn't get college degrees and they didn't work. These days, that's no longer the case. Since, "birds of a feather flock together," men and women with similar education backgrounds and incomes (or expected incomes when young) often marry one another. That is, highly educated and productive people tend to marry one another, further increasing the gap between rich and poor.

Below are some other random thoughts on the topic:

  1. Inequality says nothing about mobility. Maybe there's a certain gap between rich and poor, but people move along quintiles a lot. And maybe there is a relationship (positive or negative) between inequality and mobility. In other words, even if measured income inequality has increased, you actually can't draw the conclusion that "the rich are getting richer." Check the Economics Group income inequality post, I put up a video that explains this point. (Statistical groups are not flesh and blood human beings that remain fixed/constant over time, and should not be treated as such.)

  2. Sometimes the studies look at household income inequality, without controlling for household size and the fact that family size among various groups has changed over time. So, maybe in 1950 the bottom quintile and top quintile both had the same average number of children. And maybe today, the bottom quintile has a lower number of people on average. Maybe it turns out that "rich families" are rich because they are often comprised of two working parents. And poor families are more likely to be comprised of single, recent college grads, or households with only one working parent due to divorce.

  3. Is "correcting" income inequality (even to a modest degree) achievable? And if so, what sorts of unintended consequences will result?

What's my point? You can't just look at some statistical artifact and draw a lot of conclusions that people try to draw. Data and the studies that analyze them are complicated, sometimes confusing, and often leave a lot to be desired.

I agree that we need to look beyond the raw statistics. Nevertheless, I've seen in various places that the top 400 earners in the U.S. together earned more than the bottom 50% combined. You don't need to look too much into those numbers to come up with some hard conclusions. Obviously this is happening for a reason, but we should not dismiss it out of hand like so many libertarians and conservatives do.

Dec 7, 2017 - 6:04pm

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Dec 7, 2017 - 6:10pm

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Dec 7, 2017 - 6:11pm

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looking for that pick-me-up to power through an all-nighter?
Dec 7, 2017 - 6:14pm

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Dec 7, 2017 - 6:12pm

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