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Is capitalism good?

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  • #76
    The tradegy is that many may agree. Some survey showed that most senior executives felt that their work-life balance was wrong. They are cogs in the machine themselves - very expensive gold-plated and pampered cogs it's hard to feel sorry for, but still replaceable.

    At the end of the day they are legally answerable to their share-holders to achieve results by hook or crook. The biggest share-holders are pension funds, whose money comes from those who pay into them, which is largely us - we're screwing ourselves to get a decent retirement.

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    • #77
      Originally posted by Jules
      The tradegy is that many may agree. Some survey showed that most senior executives felt that their work-life balance was wrong. They are cogs in the machine themselves - very expensive gold-plated and pampered cogs it's hard to feel sorry for, but still replaceable.

      At the end of the day they are legally answerable to their share-holders to achieve results by hook or crook. The biggest share-holders are pension funds, whose money comes from those who pay into them, which is largely us - we're screwing ourselves to get a decent retirement.
      That's why i never claim CEO's to be living more easily. Their paychecks and benefits are a different story. I think stockholders are unnecessary as the prime motivator of a company. Even Adam Smith disliked speculators.

      You are right about those Pension funds. I largely distrust them and wonder how society could find better ways to get pensions.

      Comment


      • #78
        I'm not surprised Adam Smith disliked speculation as it has nothing to do with the creation of wealth - it's basically a form of gambling.

        I don't have an issue with share-holders and stock-holders (see earlier) owning companies. It transformed the ability of people to raise capital for ventures from having to find a royal or aristocratic sponsor to a far wider group. This allowed an explosion in invention and commerce, and allowed a far wider group of people to get rich through investment and growth.
        It didn't do a lot for the peasantry moved from the country hovels to city slums, but was a step in the right direction. As said above, I don't think many workers today want to work in co-operatives - there is an aversion to the risk and responsibility of owning where you work, and taking the rap when it goes wrong. Maybe that's just a British thing. You hear of employee buyouts but they aren't the norm.

        Mind you, the employee owned John Lewis / Waitrose organisation were one of the few firms on the UK High Street to have grown over the last year - the staff awarded themselves 7 weeks salary as a bonus - so there is a lot to be said for other forms of ownership - and that's a firm where all employees are partners - i.e. you don't have to buy your way in.

        What we really need is a system that can deal with a society where people have different motivations and that get's the best out of all of them - the problem with most political philosophies is that they seem to start from the point of view that if everyone acted in the same way, everything would be great - in Adam Smith's view, all capitalists should act in an enlightened way as a good society of healthy wealthy consumers is the best for business in the long run. Then they step back and start looking at how they can compell everyone who doesn't agree into complying.

        I don't think there's any simple answer on pensions - at the end of the day it's about supporting people who are not actively working. That's either going to come from savings through their lifetime or taxing the existing working population. There are no money trees. I guess there are radical options like a 100% inheritance tax, which would probably go a long way to cover, if people wouldn't seek to avoid it.

        Which I think is the point really - any political solution needs the support of the majority of the people and not too many rule-breakers making a mockery of it. The liberal capitalist society will work providers those within in believe in it's values, ditto the Swedish model. The Swedish model would fail if most Swedes tried to evade paying their taxes or started resenting what they were spent on.

        I'd like to see more money being put into creating things that add to the wealth of our countries - like the great 19th Century public buildings in the UK, or the older town centres of most European towns, or the universities before that became a cheap word. Long term investments in infrastructure that will benefit generations to come. So I guess that's government bonds.

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        • #79
          Originally posted by Theocrat
          You are right about those Pension funds. I largely distrust them and wonder how society could find better ways to get pensions.
          There was a speaker at the UNISON Conference from a US bank set up by trade unions, talking about how public service workers can take control of their own pension fund and use them for good. There's a massive amount of money (and power) sloshing around there - and how mad is it that we complain about jobs being privatised, but have our pensions invested in the very companies that make a profit from shedding staff and slashing pay and conditions!

          'Shareholder confidence' is the spectre that haunts the 'anglo-american' model, causing profitable companies to make workers redundant and indulge in destructive 'low road' competition.

          Adam Smith was far too clearheaded to be the corporate god the neoliberals would love him to be. He could see the irony that employers would constantly combine to attack the workers, but that the combination of workers was forbidden, I don't think he would be happy at all in our world of monopolies and speculation (any more than Marx would have appreciated North Korea, I suspect...)

          Have I linked to this yet:

          Labour Defended against the Claims of Capital
          Or the Unproductiveness of Capital proved with Reference to the
          Present Combinations amongst Journeymen

          by Thomas Hodgskin
          1825
          http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~...kin/labdef.txt

          Written by one of the founders of my esteemed institution - The London Mechanics Institute (aka Birkbeck College). He would be proud to know it still turns out the odd subversive...
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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          • #80
            Originally posted by Mikey_C
            [by Thomas Hodgskin
            1825
            http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~...kin/labdef.txt

            Written by one of the founders of my esteemed institution - The London Mechanics Institute (aka Birkbeck College). He would be proud to know it still turns out the odd subversive...[/quote]

            Who is this 'Thomas Hodgskin' you keep refering to? He sounds like an interesting character..

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            • #81
              Do any of you believe in private property? Socialism doesn't work because it takes away from the people who produce things. Why in the hell would a centralized government be better for the workers? You would make all business government run? Why would it get better? Is a government monopoly better than any other? It is worse actually, who is to stop it?
              Rich people buy things. Working people make things. What exactly is wrong with that? People who have what they didn't earn, don't appreciate it.
              Where does the myth that capitalism is any harder on the environment than any other from of economic model come from? If you open your eyes, you will see that the opposite is true.
              Do you not notice that the poor african countries are communist? All the aid sent to these countries only makes the problem worse. Take for example clothing. If you send a shirt you are putting a tailor out of business. When you send food you give a dictator leverage over his people and feed his army. Just exactly how much aid do you believe gets to the people anyway?
              Socialists want to do what feels good. If you really wanted to help those people you would demand that their governments be toppled and replaced by force with republic style governments. Give war a chance.

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              • #82
                :lol:

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by helmeteye
                  Give war a chance.
                  "I don't know where you get your ideas from lazerbrain!"

                  :lol:

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                  • #84
                    Why is it a liberal can never listen to a counter arguement without slinging insults?

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by helmeteye
                      Why is it a liberal can never listen to a counter arguement without slinging insults?
                      Sorry if I couldn't help quoting a line from Star Wars.
                      Who said I was a liberal? I'm not clinging to any one ideology.
                      I may have some socialist leanings but I don't really think socialism is an end of itself or a totally desired state of society.

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                      • #86
                        Yea Theo, I do get carried away sometimes and can't quite type fast enough so without editing and such my writing gets kinda choppy. I noticed that you weren't a complete leftist. My main problem is that people on the left, i include G Bush, try to solve all problems with government money. I believe that money is power and to give the government confiscatory powers to take money from the private sector is economic suicide. I just did the "political compass" test: politicalcompass.org/ and ended up just 2 points to the left of Friedman. So to answer an earlier question "where do you get your ideas?" I would have to say Friedman and others like him.
                        I always thought that the American dream was to be independent. For example, owning you own business. I notice that most people coming out of college these days are leftists that hate corporations but seek to work at them making the most money they can. Why do free societies always seek to put absolute power into the hands of politicians in the form of welfare dispersement? Whoever controls the money, controls the society. In the supreme court's last session 5 liberal judges gave to the states the right to take property from one individual and hand it to another in the name of higher revenues. That is what socialism gets you. Now those politicians have the power to buy even more votes.
                        To paraphrase Alexis de Tocqueville(sp. can't find the damn books), the american experiment will work until the people figure out they can vote money into their own pockets.

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          people on the left, i include G Bush
                          That about sums it up.

                          The "political compass" - or is it just you? - equates George Bush's economic interventionism with socialist interventionism because of a fundamental error: it/you presents economic policies in terms of freedom. All public economic policies are equivalent, regardless of their purpose and their outcome, as they limit that freedom.

                          It is extremely disingenuous to talk about "economic freedom" in relation to free-market economics. As you said yourself, money is power. And accumulated power is a threat to freedom, be it in public or private hands.

                          If you want that compass to have any relevance, you should try this: just a little requalification of the scales. Instead of the "political freedom" and "economic freedom" scales, make it "political power" and "economic power".
                          You will notice that the extremes of the political spectrum stay the same, and keep their relative positions: Communism (all power to the state) opposed to neo-liberalism (all power to the wealthy). Fascism gets to be maximum power to both state and wealth (ideally merged into an "aristocratic" class - the model would be Mussolini or Franco rather than Hitler) and Anarchism...no power at all.

                          It's just the meaning of the results that becomes a bit different. More coherent, as it were, as apples are not being compared to oranges anymore.

                          And, oh, George Bush finds a much more logical place in that spectrum. Guess where?

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                          • #88
                            Originally posted by mordenkainen
                            people on the left, i include G Bush
                            And, oh, George Bush finds a much more logical place in that spectrum. Guess where?
                            :P :clap:

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              Originally posted by helmeteye
                              Yea Theo, I do get carried away sometimes and can't quite type fast enough so without editing and such my writing gets kinda choppy. I noticed that you weren't a complete leftist.
                              Note.. There are different kinds of socialists. When someone says they're a socialist, you have to take it with a pinch of salt, as the contents usually vary, but they can vary enormously too. Just because I have socialist ideas doesn't mean I'm a "dogmatic communist".

                              I read a funny thing once. That Americans like some socialist reforms if it just isn't called socialism.

                              Originally posted by helmeteye
                              My main problem is that people on the left, i include G Bush, try to solve all problems with government money. I believe that money is power and to give the government confiscatory powers to take money from the private sector is economic suicide.
                              Any links on the net to an article about this?

                              Originally posted by helmeteye
                              I always thought that the American dream was to be independent. For example, owning you own business. I notice that most people coming out of college these days are leftists that hate corporations but seek to work at them making the most money they can.
                              They don't have enough capital, or (and this is what I think it mainly is about) the market is already saturated with commodities, services and goods.

                              I even know a communist here in Sweden who owns and runs his own business.

                              Originally posted by helmeteye
                              Why do free societies always seek to put absolute power into the hands of politicians in the form of welfare dispersement? Whoever controls the money, controls the society.
                              Of course! And who is now really controlling it? And in "who's" interest is it being governed? Which strata in the hierarchy makes these decisions? It's obvious that it isn't the majority of the people.
                              Sure enough the government is administering some "welfare" money, but why do you think they are doing it?

                              Originally posted by helmeteye
                              In the supreme court's last session 5 liberal judges gave to the states the right to take property from one individual and hand it to another in the name of higher revenues. That is what socialism gets you. Now those politicians have the power to buy even more votes.
                              No. You are taking the meaning of socialism out of context.
                              Taking property from one individual and handing it to another in the name of higher revenues isn't socialism. Socialism means the democratic owning of "the means of production". If it's just an individual taking over a business thats run badly, its a way for the business to survive, and keep the money coming in for the investors. And isn't the government a really big investor?

                              That is where Fascism gets you!

                              Originally posted by http://www.spiritone.com/~gdy52150/chpt1.htm
                              1. Totalitarian
                              2. Extreme nationalism
                              3. Top down revolution or movement
                              4. Destructive divisionism such as racism and class warfare
                              5. Extreme anti-communism, anti socialism, and anti-liberal views
                              6. Extreme exploitation
                              7. Opportunistic ideology lacking in consistency as a means to grab power
                              8. Unbridled Corporatism
                              9. Reactionary
                              10. The use of violence and terror to attain and maintain power
                              11. Cult-like figurehead
                              12. The expounding of mysticism or religious beliefs
                              Originally posted by helmeteye
                              To paraphrase Alexis de Tocqueville(sp. can't find the damn books), the american experiment will work until the people figure out they can vote money into their own pockets.
                              "All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it."

                              http://www.tocqueville.org/

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