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Old December 11 2012, 05:33 AM   #17
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Aeronef wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
That's like equating "gun" with ".50 caliber automatic machinegun." If it's pointed at a child's head when it goes off, that's a distinction without a difference.
This is a non-sequitur.
No it isn't. You're implying laissez-faire capitalism is somehow different from regulated capitalism, presumably because it's safer or less prone to economic disasters. The fact is, even a tightly regulated market can still fail, and the fact that it was tightly regulated before it failed doesn't really mitigate the consequences.

My point, in case I wasn't clear, is that your post confused one particular type of capitalism with capitalism in general.
I got your point. I'm saying it's not a confusion because CAPITALISM IN GENERAL has this feature. Laissez-faire capitalism is merely the least stable form of it, which doesn't change the fact that capitalism itself is inherently unstable.

That is to say: you were talking about a small number of cases, in the past couple of decades, and making sweeping generalizations based on this very limited data set.
Yes, in the same way that I could refer to a half dozen gunshot victims and say "Bullet wounds tend to be traumatic and painful."

There are lots of things that can mitigate the fallout from an economic meltdown. Government oversight and regulation isn't one of them; at best, those are mechanisms that are meant to PREVENT those kinds of disasters from happening in the first place, and fact that almost all responsible first world governments employ them should tell you something.

So what?

Many conservatives insist that President Obama is a communist Muslim who secretly wants to destroy America. Are they correct?
They very well could be... IF they were speaking as members of the Obama campaign and/or his administration.

I'm disinclined to believe at face value what capitalists and/or conservatives claim about their OWN position, but the fact that they make the claim about themselves instead of something of which they are not a part means I can't ignore it either.

This is a straw man.
It WOULD be if I ascribed that belief to you, which I did not. There are, in fact, two competing schools of thought that are related but utterly independent. There's YOUR position:

I do not believe that a "less materialistic, more socially-oriented set of economic policies" must necessarily be un- or anti-capitalist.
Which differs sharply from the position of many capitalists that the free market an provide those same socially-oriented services more effectively and more efficiently than the government.

The "market fundamentalists" have this position as much more than a philosophical point. It's proscriptive rather than theoretical; they believe that they SHOULD provide those services, and have a well documented tendency to try and convince politicians of this as well.

That, more than anything, is why I cannot dismiss the "market fundamentalist" position as mere reductionist error. They don't simply believe it, they also PROMOTE it, and they are extremely prolific even in tightly regulated markets. For this very reason ALL capitalist economies trend gradually towards laissez-faire capitalism, and policies to reverse these trends are usually enacted only after the damage has already been done.

Markets are not separate or distinct from states: they exist within, and are shaped by, and are dependent upon, certain legal and political (and social and cultural) frameworks. It's all connected...
Just because they're related and impact each other doesn't mean they're the same thing. MANY things are interconnected and interdependent that otherwise have nothing to do with each other; you might as well suggest that basketball teams are not separate or distinct from police departments because both depend on the patronage of their home city to exist.

It's a foregone conclusion that governments can -- and in some cases MUST -- influence markets, and the reverse is also true. But there is still the trend among capitalists to prefer the market to have more influence over the government than the reverse, and where this has been easy to accomplish -- in central and south america, for example, where the capitalist class controlled considerably more wealth than the governments of those countries -- the result has been consistently disastrous.

Actually, problems arise under many more circumstances than this. See, for example, Great Britain in the 1970s--a country which no one would ever accuse of being run by capitalists who insisted on managing state institutions as businesses.
Half right. Great Britain's troubles were caused by people who thought the state WAS a business and sought to run it like one. In their case, the conservative backlash has alot to do with the fact that actual businessmen realized the government was being managed incompetently and assumed -- possibly correctly -- that they could have done a better job. That spawned a more sweeping generalization that turned into a philosophy that private businesses ALWAYS do a better job than government, which isn't always the case, and isn't always the point.

What you're describing is not a problem with socialism, or capitalism, or any other economic and political system: it's much more basic than that. It's the problem of power.

With great power comes great irresponsibility. People will only behave in a responsible fashion if someone or something actually has the power to make them answer for their actions.
Exactly. And the fundamental problem with capitalism is the basic imperative of its participants is the pursuit of greater economic power, ostensibly for the purpose of driving even greater market activity and making still greater returns on those investments. Altruism and public interest are possible, but strictly voluntary, and therefore there is a built-in competitive advantage for capitalists who DO NOT act responsibly. That, as I'm sure you understand, is the whole reason why market regulation exists.

As long as capitalists -- not even all of them, just the irresponsible few -- are motivated to deregulate markets and remove the controls on their own power, they will continue to exploit momentary weaknesses or divisions in the government bodies responsible for containing them. Like water seeping through a concrete dam, it happens somewhat slowly and is hard to reverse.

The problem with both capitalism and socialism is that, left unchecked, they both have a tendency to produce concentrations and imbalances of power: under socialism, an imbalance of political power that distorts the economic process; and under capitalism, a concentration of economic power that distorts the political process. They both 'systematically fail' if they're pursued too far.
The reason socialism never systematically fails is because it is never systematically implemented. At their cores -- where they relate to one another, at least -- capitalism is an economy controlled by private investors while socialism is an economy controlled by the public. The fundamental difference between them is where the money comes from: in pure socialism, all investments are made collectively through the the delegation of tax dollars, while in pure capitalism all investments are made voluntarily and individually.

The problem is, socialist countries never actually place their economies under public control. The people who actually wield that power are as far removed from public accountability as their capitalist counterparts and are perfectly positioned to maintain their advantage at the expense of everyone else. In theory, an inept or corrupt socialist government should be subject to democratic review and scrutiny at all times and in an ideal world could be removed the moment he is caught doing something that doesn't serve the public interest. Capitalism, by contrast, assumes that the driving force of the market is the return on investment, and the only responsibility of the capitalist is to protect the investments of his business partners; those investments may sometimes be at odds with the public interest, especially for a section of the public that has nothing invested in that particular business venture.

IOW: socialism fails whenever it is not implemented properly (and it almost never is). Capitalism fails whenever it IS implemented properly (and it, too, almost never is). That, more than anything, explains why capitalism has a much better track record than socialism.

True as that is, just because a system is unjust doesn't make it a failure. Saddam Hussein, for example, was arguably the most effective leader Iraq ever had, despite the fact that he was basically a gangster with an army of psychopaths at his beck and call.
I don't see how you can say that.
Purely as a matter of political efficiency and economic growth. Iraq was a rich country under Saddam. Miserable and terrified, sure, but they did experience fairly steady growth and prosperity until they got their asses kicked in the Gulf War. OTOH, losing a war is typically the worst thing that can ever happen to a country's economy, and under Saddam Iraq lost basically all of them, so his MILITARY leadership is unquestionably lacking.

Whatever his economic policies may have been--and I confess I don't know much about that--whatever economic successes his regime may have enjoyed, they were more than counterbalanced by its political failures.
It wasn't his POLITICAL failures that were the problem. It was his inability to defeat the most powerful military on the face of the Earth in two separate engagements.
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