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Old December 11 2012, 01:41 AM   #16
throwback
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

From the article, I feel that the scientist is not so much assailing capitalism; he is assailing the thinking that occurs in a capitalist society.

An example from American history. In the decades prior to the Civil War, the Southern aristocracy was getting rich from cotton. They believed that more cotton fields would bring in more profits for them. Their solution? "Offshore" their farm lands to the Midwest, and plant the newly opened fields with cotton. Now you are making more money, and the Midwest plants crops that will be later sold to the South after harvesting.

Then the Civil War comes. The South secedes. The Midwest joins the Union. So, the crops that fed the South are no longer being sent to them, and, in within two years, the South is starving.

This is what I think the scientist is referring to in his analysis, where our thinking is based on short term gains, and we don't create long term plans.

However, I don't think it is exclusive to capitalistic societies. I think it is because this is how we behave as a species.

On Easter Island, the natives devasted their ecosystem as they were erecting massive stone heads to honor their ancestors. Combined with climate change (nothing happens from one cause), their civilization collapsed. The inhabitants weren't capitalists. They were driven by ambition and ancestral reverence to create the next largest statue, and they weren't considering what might happen to their children and grandchildren. We are the same way.

For me, personally, what will bring about the collapse of our civilization will be a combination of factors - environmental, economical, political, religious, et cetera - and, like before, our descendants will build a new civilization on the ruins of the past. We are a cyclical species.

Like others said, we are incapable of screwing up our planet to the point where it is destroyed. We go extinct, the planet keeps on chugging along.
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Old December 11 2012, 05:33 AM   #17
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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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Old December 11 2012, 05:35 AM   #18
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Earth is not fucked. Our modern world civilization is fucked, but that's not such a big deal.
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Old December 11 2012, 07:23 AM   #19
gturner
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
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.
Central and South America weren't capitalist (by our example), as they had a ruling class or ownership class which excluded the vast majority of people from membership. They're closest to French merchantilism under the old monarchy.

As Hernando De Soto pointed out, these countries flip between ruling juntas, "business" leaders, socialists, and quasi-Marxists, and nothing actually changes except who you have to bribe.

Don't confuse capitalism with stock markets. American capitalism is the result of letting everyone buy, sell, and own land, businesses, or products, which are rights not recognized (or overly regulated and restricted, such as making peasants spend twenty years bribing officials to get a deed to your own house and a license to hire people to sew buttons on shirts) throughout much of the non-Western world.

Socialism only works to the extent it's not implemented, which is one reason why Western Europe scaled it back dramatically. As Margaret Thatcher observed, socialism works until you run out of other people's money (and then you're screwed).

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.
Under socialism you replace 300 million very engaged brains with a mere hundreds of brains, which is why it always fails. Collectively, people are as dumb as crowds, and there's no way around the problem that the people who step up to think for them them will be the power-mad, narcissistic, Dunning-Kruger idiots. It's an information problem, and no government can collectively process all the information of free people conducting transactions on an hourly basis. It's like thinking you can beat the complexity of a rain-forest ecosystem with a top-down management
policy that dictates tree height.

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.
Iraq was a very poor country, dependent on oil revenues handed out by the government, which didn't have much interest in passing the revenues around very freely. We've all seen the pictures. It was a third-world socialist hell-hole with a dysfunctional infrastructure, intermittent electricity and non-existent sanitation. When we invaded, the people there talked about how they remained frozen in the 1970's, as if the world slowed to a stop as Saddam and the Arab socialist Bathists took power. Saddam's inspiration was national socialism and communism. He should've known it wouldn't end well.
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Old December 11 2012, 04:49 PM   #20
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

gturner wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
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.
Central and South America weren't capitalist (by our example), as they had a ruling class or ownership class which excluded the vast majority of people from membership. They're closest to French merchantilism under the old monarchy.
Technically that's an oligarchy, but even if you're correct I don't see mercantilism (or oligarchy) and capitalism as being mutually exclusive. One is sort of the evil cousin of the other, sort of like socialism and communism.

Don't confuse capitalism with stock markets. American capitalism is the result of letting everyone buy, sell, and own land, businesses, or products, which are rights not recognized (or overly regulated and restricted, such as making peasants spend twenty years bribing officials to get a deed to your own house and a license to hire people to sew buttons on shirts) throughout much of the non-Western world.
Neither are they GUARANTEED in the West. The difference is we have an "investor class" that controls most of the money and has the incredibly odd ability to use that money to buy MORE money and increase their power without actually DOING anything. Remember, monopolies of various types are also common features in capitalism.

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.
Under socialism you replace 300 million very engaged brains with a mere hundreds of brains, which is why it always fails.
Read on the rest of my post, actually, where I said essentially the same thing. At its purest form, Socialism SHOULD involve the collective engagement of the entire population, sharing both their money and their knowledge and experience in keeping the economy running smoothly. The reality is that there's no practical way to coordinate that many people without turning all of them into full-time politicians, so socialists wind up sharing their money without actually sharing any control of what happens to it.

It's an information problem, and no government can collectively process all the information of free people conducting transactions on an hourly basis.
Total agreement. Socialism is the perfect system for a perfect world, which is why it never actually works.

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.
Iraq was a very poor country, dependent on oil revenues handed out by the government
And it had a fuckton of oil revenues to hand out. And even with the Baath party's unmitigated greed and the Jaba-the-Hut lifestyle of Saddam's family, they still refrained from imposing a centrally planned economy and allowed Iraq to be maintain an otherwise totally free market.

Don't get me wrong, the Baathists controlled Iraq with an iron fist, socially and politically. They did not as tightly control the MARKET, however, because there simply wasn't a need. They were getting all their bribes, so they were happy; the Boss was getting his tribute, so he was happy. The Sunni oligarchs were up to their armpits in oil revenues, and the shiites were wallowing in poverty where they belonged. As far as they were concerned, the market was doing just fine.

We've all seen the pictures. It was a third-world socialist hell-hole with a dysfunctional infrastructure, intermittent electricity and non-existent sanitation.
There was nothing socialist about it, and the breakdown of its infrastructure was an immediate consequence of war ( in particular, the thumping they got in the first Gulf War). The decade-long conflict with Iran didn't do them any favors either, but that at least would have been recoverable... IF Saddam had convinced that Bush Administration to look the other way on Kuwait.

When we invaded, the people there talked about how they remained frozen in the 1970's, as if the world slowed to a stop as Saddam and the Arab socialist Bathists took power.
Yes, THAT was what they talked about. The awful anti-growth socialism of the Baath party.
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Old December 11 2012, 08:13 PM   #21
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
gturner wrote: View Post
Central and South America weren't capitalist (by our example), as they had a ruling class or ownership class which excluded the vast majority of people from membership. They're closest to French merchantilism under the old monarchy.
Technically that's an oligarchy, but even if you're correct I don't see mercantilism (or oligarchy) and capitalism as being mutually exclusive. One is sort of the evil cousin of the other, sort of like socialism and communism.
No, they are very, very different. Communism is a cousin to the oligarchical system, if not exactly the same thing. The self-annointed rulers get the perks and decide who is allowed to work, who is forced to work, and what work will be done, while the peasants stand in line for bread at empty bakeries.

Adam Smith started studying capitalism because England was getting rich (something that was historically unprecedented for them) and nobody could explain exactly what had changed, because it certainly had nothing to do with anything the nobility had done. What had happened is that they lost control of the populace, giving up on keeping them in their rightful place working the land and deciding to just go ahead and tax them. Some of the third world is now going through social changes that England went through in the 1600's. Much of the rest is still stuck reliving France in the 1600's, where to own a piece of land or start a business requires a team of well-connected lawyers, lots of bribes, and winning the favor of government ministers.

When American businessmen set up shop in such counties, they have the financial resources to do so, and just assume that that's "how business is done here." But if their product is going to compete with a firm controlled by a powerful local family, even that isn't enough to open up a market. The problem is that those countries aren't really capitalist. They aren't designed to support free-markets or competition, and aristocratic families are granted generations-long monopolies in things like the soap business, which is run as a fuedal fiefdom. They never face threats from free-market competition, only from other more well-connected families whose patronage might buy more favor with various ministers, or who might prove a more useful ally of those high-up.

Neither are they GUARANTEED in the West. The difference is we have an "investor class" that controls most of the money and has the incredibly odd ability to use that money to buy MORE money and increase their power without actually DOING anything. Remember, monopolies of various types are also common features in capitalism.
We are all the investor class. Most Americans own stock. Prior to that, what we invested in was our own land and business, and we've been doing that almost since we stepped off the boat. The freeing of ordinary people to take part in capitalist enterprises (as opposed to having a closed and tightly-guarded 'capitalist class') is what marks the transition from medieval European fuedal systems or socialist systems to our modern economy. Marx and Engels used to call America the "graveyard of communists" because every agent they sent here from Europe disappeared, to be found later running a shop or business. What they'd been rebelling against was the period's European system of closed shops and a system people were largely limited to doing whatever their father did.

And it had a fuckton of oil revenues to hand out. And even with the Baath party's unmitigated greed and the Jaba-the-Hut lifestyle of Saddam's family, they still refrained from imposing a centrally planned economy and allowed Iraq to be maintain an otherwise totally free market.
Um, no. They weren't all that far from Soviet communism and even controlled food distribution. A third of the population worked for the state. All the oil revenue was used as patronage almost everyone in government was corrupt, and nothing happened without approval from the local branches of the Ba'ath party. Trying to teach Iraqis how to conduct business after decades of state control drove our military coordinators nuts. The country was close kin to Libya and Syria, also socialist states.
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Old December 12 2012, 06:19 AM   #22
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

gturner wrote: View Post
No, they are very, very different. Communism is a cousin to the oligarchical system, if not exactly the same thing. The self-annointed rulers get the perks and decide who is allowed to work, who is forced to work, and what work will be done, while the peasants stand in line for bread at empty bakeries.

Adam Smith started studying capitalism because England was getting rich (something that was historically unprecedented for them) and nobody could explain exactly what had changed, because it certainly had nothing to do with anything the nobility had done. What had happened is that they lost control of the populace, giving up on keeping them in their rightful place working the land and deciding to just go ahead and tax them. Some of the third world is now going through social changes that England went through in the 1600's. Much of the rest is still stuck reliving France in the 1600's, where to own a piece of land or start a business requires a team of well-connected lawyers, lots of bribes, and winning the favor of government ministers.
All that really demonstrates is that capitalism produces better outcomes for the general population when more of the population is allowed to participate on equal terms. That tends to happen when the population -- through some means or another -- manages to arrange a shift in the existing power structure to allow greater access to the market than before; that access eventually closes again once the new power structure settles into place, which is EXACTLY what happened in England. Capitalism definitely benefits the public interest when the public is enabled to participate in it, but capitalism itself doesn't include this as a feature.

More to the point: the market appears to be VERY free to those well connected landowners and oligarchs who have all the economic opportunity laid out in front of them. Much the way the American economy appears to be free to anyone who makes more than $20,000 a year.

We are all the investor class.
No, we are not.

Most Americans own stock.
Actually, about 55% of Americans own stock, and most of those that do keep it as personal investment (e.g. 401(k) or similar long-term retirement/emergency funds).

More importantly, 2% of all Americans own about 90% of the equity in publically traded companies, which they use for actual market activity.

So no, we are NOT all the investor class. The investor class are those who have the economic power to actively engaged in venture capitalism if they so chose. Those who lack that capital are in the position of seeking the support and cooperation of those that do, as they would under most circumstances be unable to raise that capital themselves.

At the end of the day, the only real difference between the latin American oligarchies and western capitalism is what kind of people you have to impress if you want to start your own business.

The freeing of ordinary people to take part in capitalist enterprises (as opposed to having a closed and tightly-guarded 'capitalist class') is what marks the transition from medieval European fuedal systems or socialist systems to our modern economy.
And the slow removal of that freedom by increasingly shifting economic burdens onto what used to be a thriving and self-sufficient middle class is what marks yet another full circle in capitalism's evolutionary cycle (and is nothing new, when you consider what constituted the tightly-guarded 'capitalist class' in the southern states until at least the 1970s).

Um, no. They weren't all that far from Soviet communism and even controlled food distribution. A third of the population worked for the state.
The baathists ENGAGED in food distribution, again using those enormous oil subsidies as part of a wellfare state. They did not CONTROL it the way the Soviet system did, not even close.

All the oil revenue was used as patronage almost everyone in government was corrupt, and nothing happened without approval from the local branches of the Ba'ath party.
Who otherwise didn't care who did what as long as they got their weekly bribes on time. That's, again, the gangster-capitalism of the Saddam regime, but the average Iraqi was still free to start his own business if he just played ball.

Trying to teach Iraqis how to conduct business after decades of state control drove our military coordinators nuts.
Yes, because MILITARY COORDINATORS are exactly who you would send to teach people how to run a business.

I suspect I've read alot of the same books you have -- or maybe a few that you missed -- and clearly recall that one of the fundamental blunders of the occupation was to try and reopen the Iraqi stock market with a computer-based system that none of the existing stockbrokers knew how to use, nor were they interested in learning, and wound up turning off the computers and using the screens as chalkboards as they had been doing for the past thirty years.

The country was close kin to Libya and Syria, also socialist states.
Libya and Syria are "socialist" inasmuch as Kim Kardashian is an opera singer.
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Old December 12 2012, 07:53 AM   #23
gturner
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
All that really demonstrates is that capitalism produces better outcomes for the general population when more of the population is allowed to participate on equal terms. That tends to happen when the population -- through some means or another -- manages to arrange a shift in the existing power structure to allow greater access to the market than before; that access eventually closes again once the new power structure settles into place, which is EXACTLY what happened in England. Capitalism definitely benefits the public interest when the public is enabled to participate in it, but capitalism itself doesn't include this as a feature.
Which would mean that... the rich are living under capitalism and doing well, and the peasants are living under socialism and their lives suck, becaue they aren't allowed to own personal property that's worth much, or have to seek permission to do anything, like going to a government agency and begging for a business license.

More to the point: the market appears to be VERY free to those well connected landowners and oligarchs who have all the economic opportunity laid out in front of them. Much the way the American economy appears to be free to anyone who makes more than $20,000 a year.
Well, we're madly trying to reduce the freedom of the American economy so poor people are poorer than they were, which is going quite well because poverty is hitting record levels. This reduces their access to capital to start a business, and most small businesses in the US start with personal capital from home equity, personal savings, family, and friends.

I know far too many people who started out with nothing, founding major companies. Just today I was at one such company started by a close friend, and he'd had a huge amount of high end electronics donated, still in its ROHS compliant packages (reels of advanced audio chips, microprocessors, connectors, and such). As it turned out, the equipment was donated from the bankruptcy of a major smart-house component firm that spun off from Square-D years ago, and its major shareholder and chief was one of my college friends who I still co-own a sailboat with. I had no idea he was running a big company, because when last I talked to him he was a cog at Square-D.

We are all the investor class.
No, we are not.

Actually, about 55% of Americans own stock, and most of those that do keep it as personal investment (e.g. 401(k) or similar long-term retirement/emergency funds).

More importantly, 2% of all Americans own about 90% of the equity in publically traded companies, which they use for actual market activity.
And if one of them owned ten quadrillion dollars in Ferengi cattle futures, this would affect you how?

So no, we are NOT all the investor class. The investor class are those who have the economic power to actively engaged in venture capitalism if they so chose. Those who lack that capital are in the position of seeking the support and cooperation of those that do, as they would under most circumstances be unable to raise that capital themselves.
You don't need billions to start a business. Most people start small. You don't need millions to by Apple stock.

At the end of the day, the only real difference between the latin American oligarchies and western capitalism is what kind of people you have to impress if you want to start your own business.
In America, you don't need to impress anyone to start a business. People from Latin America come here to start businesses, and do, often on the same day they walk off the plane. We have about 25 million businesses in the US, so it can't be that hard to start one, and that's not even counting farms, which are businesses.

In contrast, in much of the third world you have to bribe people in over a dozen ministries to start most small businesses, in a process that can stretch out for decades (Hernando De Soto documented the process quite thoroughly). This evening, after I left the electronics bonanza, I went home with my friend, and his wife announced that she was incorporating and starting a new business this week, having been fired last week by the new CEO who just took over her old company. She doesn't even need her husband's permission to start a new company, much less some bureaucrat's or stock mogul's.

The baathists ENGAGED in food distribution, again using those enormous oil subsidies as part of a wellfare state. They did not CONTROL it the way the Soviet system did, not even close.
They starved out villages as policy. Did the villagers wander over to a neighboring village and buy food? No, they couldn't.

Who otherwise didn't care who did what as long as they got their weekly bribes on time. That's, again, the gangster-capitalism of the Saddam regime, but the average Iraqi was still free to start his own business if he just played ball.
That's not gangster capitalism, that's socialism. That's why the Iraqis called it socialism, and why the thugs had to pay dues to the Iraqi Ba'athist Socialist Party. The problem socialists have is that every time they see an example of socialism in action, with its predictable results, they claim its capitalism. We actually have a frequent communist poster here who still claims that Stalinism is actually uber-capitalism.

Trying to teach Iraqis how to conduct business after decades of state control drove our military coordinators nuts.
Yes, because MILITARY COORDINATORS are exactly who you would send to teach people how to run a business.
Our military coordinators are quite adept at running businesses. One of my closest military enlisted friends could sign off on intelligence contracts up to about $15 million before she had to pass it on up. One proposal she slammed down was a contractor trying to lease a building for intelligence, and she laid out all the business rules that would violate. In case you didn't notice, the military not only engages in very detailed business contracts all the time, they even audit the contractors. Part of the legacy of the military/industrial complex Eisenhower warned about is that the military is full of people who are sharp as tacks at the industrial side, and by gosh they know their purchases, leases, contracts, production orders, and billing.

The country was close kin to Libya and Syria, also socialist states.
Libya and Syria are "socialist" inasmuch as Kim Kardashian is an opera singer.
Libya was as socialist as socialists get. A few years before Quadaffi fell Michael Totten wrote a long series of articles about his visit there. Syria is likewise socialist. Both were modeled somewhat on Nazi Germany, which was socialist. You can look into their economic policies, which are socialist, or you could note that no non-socialist country would ever in a million years put "socialist" in the name of their country or the ruling party, which is almost as much a giveaway as using "People's Republic" anywhere in the name.
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Old December 12 2012, 11:37 PM   #24
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Some here act like Capitalism and Socialism are mutually exclusive. It should be obvious that a hybrid system of the two is most desirable. Let business do what it does well in producing consumer goods and let government run the infrastructure. Neither system has all the answers on their own. Sadly too many people here in the US have had the word Socialism pounded into their heads as some horrible oppressive evil all the while not having a clue as to what it actually is.

gturner wrote: View Post
In America, you don't need to impress anyone to start a business.
You do, if you need a loan to get that business started. And though one doesn't need billions to start a business as you accurately said above. You forgot to mention that most small businesses fail.
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Old December 13 2012, 06:30 AM   #25
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

gturner wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
All that really demonstrates is that capitalism produces better outcomes for the general population when more of the population is allowed to participate on equal terms. That tends to happen when the population -- through some means or another -- manages to arrange a shift in the existing power structure to allow greater access to the market than before; that access eventually closes again once the new power structure settles into place, which is EXACTLY what happened in England. Capitalism definitely benefits the public interest when the public is enabled to participate in it, but capitalism itself doesn't include this as a feature.
Which would mean that... the rich are living under capitalism and doing well, and the peasants are living under socialism and their lives suck, becaue they aren't allowed to own personal property that's worth much....
So now socialism is what happens when capitalists deny other people their property rights?

I know far too many people who started out with nothing, founding major companies.
With all due respect, no you don't. You know people who very cleverly and successfully used the resources they had to start major companies. Even people who use their home equity or family and friends to gain startup capital are doing the very same thing, borrowing money from banks or acquaintances using their own property or good will as collateral. It's the cost of doing business, and you can't GO into business without something solid to back you up.

In an oligarchy, you do this by sucking up to the local land barons and influential families and convincing them to give you a chance to use the resources you have, or to provide you with resources to run a business. This is little different from a man going to a bank and asking for a small business loan, or going to the government and asking for an SBA grant. That's the rules of the game: you have to pay to play. The only difference between an oligarchy and a knowledge economy is WHO you have to pay to get into the game and what sort of payment is acceptable.

This contrasts with socialism, where it doesn't matter in any way shape or form who you pay, but who you KNOW, and who you're connected to. You can buy influence in socialism, but in that case the influence is worth a lot more than the money.

And if one of them owned ten quadrillion dollars in Ferengi cattle futures, this would affect you how?
If I chose to invest in Ferengi cattle futures myself, then my return on that investment largely depends on the actions of that single investor. Simply owning a few of those shares doesn't entitle me to any amount of influence or control over the process and it doesn't empower me to build on that investment; I'm at the mercy of the investor class who actually makes those kinds of decisions.

To be blunt, just because your grandmother gives you twenty dollars to start a lemonade stand doesn't make her a venture capitalist.

You don't need billions to start a business. Most people start small.
My family started with a couple thousand dollars and some donated equipment. We've now been in business continuously for thirty years and are bigger than we've ever been. Since then, my mother and my sister have gone on to start four successful businesses and we're looking at starting a new one in the near future.

We are NOT members of the investor class. We do not have the kind of economic power to realistically engage in venture capitalism. This is so, because while you don't need millions to start a business, you do need millions to BUY ONE OUTRIGHT, or even to buy a meaningful portion of one.

In other words:
You don't need millions to by Apple stock...
... unless you intend to buy enough stock to eventually sell it off and use the revenues from that sale to, say, start an electronics retail store to sell apple products.

In America, you don't need to impress anyone to start a business.
Of course not. Just to STAY in business for more than a week.

This evening, after I left the electronics bonanza, I went home with my friend, and his wife announced that she was incorporating and starting a new business this week, having been fired last week by the new CEO who just took over her old company. She doesn't even need her husband's permission to start a new company, much less some bureaucrat's or stock mogul's.]
Why should that surprise you? The ownership class in Latin America doesn't need anyone's permission either.

They starved out villages as policy.
They also bombed and nerve gassed them, for much the same reasons. I'm not really seeing the socialism in that.

That's not gangster capitalism, that's socialism.
Then I suppose Al Capone was one of the greatest luminaries of American socialism.

The problem socialists have is that every time they see an example of socialism in action, with its predictable results, they claim its capitalism.
Conversely, there's a huge number of Americans who have such a vague conception of what socialism actually is that they tend to describe it as "anything that is bad for people/business owners/the economy."

The key feature to understand here is that Arab Socialism is not and has never been all that sophisticated, nor are its imperatives all that far reaching. It really just boils down to

- Drill lots of oil
- Spend oil revenues on ourselves
- Drill more oil

Even the eternally business-friendly Dubai adheres to the basic tenants of Arab Socialism.

Our military coordinators are quite adept at running businesses.
Except that they did such a piss poor job in managing Iraq's reconstruction, I might agree. It's worth pointing out that being an effective bureaucrat and being an effective problem solver are NOT AT ALL the same thing, and running a business requires a lot more of the latter than the former.

In case you didn't notice, the military not only engages in very detailed business contracts all the time, they even audit the contractors.
So let's recap. According to you:

Extortion is actually socialism
Oligarchy is actually socialism
Poor people are investors
The military is a business

Libya was as socialist as socialists get. A few years before Quadaffi fell Michael Totten wrote a long series of articles about his visit there. Syria is likewise socialist. Both were modeled somewhat on Nazi Germany, which was socialist.
Nazi Germany -- like Syria and Libya -- was fascist, not socialist; those are two entirely different things.
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Old December 13 2012, 09:00 AM   #26
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
So now socialism is what happens when capitalists deny other people their property rights?
Yes, for the people denied property rights it largely is. However, they don't require capitalists to deny themselves property rights, and the pre-revolutionary Russian serfs maintained a system very much like that, where each village would re-decide which families got to work which plots of land, based on how many children they had, etc, all in the name of fairness and efficiency. The result was the poorest class of people north of Africa, because nobody would make any improvements on the land (since someone else might get the same plots next year), and the plots weren't even contiguous. They could give you a dozen narrow strips that were far apart from each other, so you spent half your day moving from one to the other. But the land and resources were allocated fairly!

With all due respect, no you don't. You know people who very cleverly and successfully used the resources they had to start major companies. Even people who use their home equity or family and friends to gain startup capital are doing the very same thing, borrowing money from banks or acquaintances using their own property or good will as collateral. It's the cost of doing business, and you can't GO into business without something solid to back you up.
Oh, you can go into business with nothing to back you up, and Mexicans and poor people do it all the time. You can't do it as easily in some states, like California that requires about 13 agencies to approve a license to run a barber shop, but most have very few, if any, requirements.

One of the funnier situations I have to deal with is a conveyor/automation company now called Intelligrated. For decades a major holding company out of the UK called FKI had bought up all sorts of conveyor companies (Mathews, White, Kosan, and I think Litton), building itself into a multi-billion dollar operation, one of the major players (along with Seimens, Rapistan, and a few others). They fired a bunch of engineers from one of the firms they acquired (a common occurance) and the engineers started a small controls house (maybe 10 or so guys). FKI's stock tanked due to brutal competition among the big players, and this small group of engineers bought them lock, stock, and barrel for less money than the average conveyor job, then turned around and fired the people that had fired them.

To be blunt, just because your grandmother gives you twenty dollars to start a lemonade stand doesn't make her a venture capitalist.
It does if she's successful at it. The problem with the lemonade industry is that Clinton's anti-trust division never went after the little red wagon monopoly held by Radio Flyer, who now charge hundreds of dollars for any type of off-road heavy-duty wagon, making it almost impossible for children to pay back their investors in a reasonable time frame, since amortization of the wagon doesn't really kick in until they're almost in college.

My family started with a couple thousand dollars and some donated equipment. We've now been in business continuously for thirty years and are bigger than we've ever been. Since then, my mother and my sister have gone on to start four successful businesses and we're looking at starting a new one in the near future.

We are NOT members of the investor class. We do not have the kind of economic power to realistically engage in venture capitalism. This is so, because while you don't need millions to start a business, you do need millions to BUY ONE OUTRIGHT, or even to buy a meaningful portion of one.
But you never know when you're going to see an opportunity, just like the fired engineers who bought FKI for about $10 million with a bank loan. Occassionally major companies have their value plummet almost to nothing, and nobody will buy them because of the debt loads they carry. A decade or so ago Chrysler, one of the big three US auto companies, what snapped up for something close to the cost of a few used Boeings.

But most of the activity in our economy remains at a much smaller scale, and it is (or was), profitable. You seem to be focused on the ultra-rich, when capitalism doesn't actually need or require them to thrive. As Hernando De Soto points out, the third world is populated by brilliant capitalists working within and around a rule system that's not designed to promote capitalism. Their taco vendors will spend as much time and analysis picking a location on the sidewalk as Yum brands uses to site a new KFC or Taco Bell, observing traffic patterns, meeting with other vendors to discuss options and how they'll carve up territories, gaging customer traffic, flow rates, and other factors. They do all this even though legally none of them can run a food cart.

Why should that surprise you? The ownership class in Latin America doesn't need anyone's permission either.
And that's the issue. Latin America has an ownership class, whereas in the US anyone can own almost anything - legally. Latin America was structured by very rich families intent on keeping the peasants as peasants, thinking there was a natural, top-down order to society (a very traditional Catholic idea from Spain). Their ruling families left Spain to rule, whereas the few ruling-class English the King did manage to convince to come to their colonies left when things went belly up for them. For a time George Washington was an apprentice/errand boy for an actual rich Englishmen, but even the richest rebels we had would've been thrid or fourth rate nobodies in London, and they didn't have the means to keep Americans in check, much less control us.

Washington ended up in a series of lawsuits trying to throw some penniless nobodies off land he'd claimed, and he got nowhere at it. He won the case, so they just walked off his property, rendering it even more worthless than it was before. The capitalist rule system we have wasn't introduced by the "investor class", it was invented by dirt-poor settlers who imposed it on the investor class. With poor people in charge, and no power structure to contend with, we built our business laws on the rules of the black market, rules that poor people had used for ages, which are intuitive and functional and most importantly serve the interests of those who use them.

These rules involve fair exchanges, contracts, deeds, squatting, and a host of other common activities. You use them daily, and that rule system lets you own legal title to your house, your car, and your possessions, and use them as collateral for bank loans, personal loans, gambling, and whatever else you want to do. In most of the third world you cannot legally own your house, because it belongs to one of the "investor class" families since 1600 or so, on a land grant from the king of Spain. Their ruling families have structured things so you can't legally own a business unless you legally own the property where it sits, and you often can't legally own a car unless you legally own a place to live, and on down the line. So the chief business law they live by is "don't attract attention" and "don't make waves."

They can't stick their money in a bank because it will get reported and possibly seized, claimed as drug income or some other nonsense because they don't run a legal business because they don't have a business license (which they can't get), so they can be prosecuted for proving they run a real business. As you dig into their situation, they probably have power run illegally to their house, because they couldn't prove they own the house (and so a power company wouldn't eat the expense of running copper unless they could seize the house or put a lien on it, which they can't because they can't prove that the person who conned them into running power was the actual property owner).

The situation compounds, but basically there are so many ways that everyone is skating around the law that nobody is in a position to fight the system and get property rights and establish a system that recognizes those rights, and the only people who do fight the system are convinced that eliminating property rights is the way forward. That leads to the Russian peasant problem, where your property rights are always transitory and contigent, and that path leads to abject poverty.

For more on this problem I suggest you read De Soto's book "The Other Path", or his book on capitlism and why it succeeded so well in the US and failed almost everywhere else (he traced our success to Frankfort, Kentucky, of all places).

Then I suppose Al Capone was one of the greatest luminaries of American socialism.
Yes, he was. Southern Italy had a host of problems meeting EU standards, such as their almost astronomical disability rates. Upon investigation, it turned out that the Mafia operates as an illegal socialist system, surviving not by their actions as thugs, but by their actions of helping families and poor people by getting them government benefits in return for silence and special favors. Basically, they'll prove that your back is out or your grandmother needs a fancy cart if you'll work in a particular bar three nights a week. They provide security and employment in return for loyalty and kickbacks.

Conversely, there's a huge number of Americans who have such a vague conception of what socialism actually is that they tend to describe it as "anything that is bad for people/business owners/the economy."
Did you ever think that maybe they have a vague idea because "socialism" is such a vague idea, encompassing everything from Nazism, Communism, and Fascism (whose end states were socialism) to Baptist church picnics?

Except that they did such a piss poor job in managing Iraq's reconstruction, I might agree. It's worth pointing out that being an effective bureaucrat and being an effective problem solver are NOT AT ALL the same thing, and running a business requires a lot more of the latter than the former.
They had problems they'd never faced before, such as the complete inability of any Iraqi to say "no, we can't do that." It took them about a year and a lot of screaming to get an Iraqi to admit that whatever group or "company" he represented couldn't do a particular job. It might be that such admissions were punished with death under the old regime, or it might be that part of their culture was to never admit you can't do something. Probably both.

A top-down command structure was so ingrained in them that we had all sorts of problems, such as trying to convince sergeants that they could shoot at a target without orders from someone on high, including their tank commanders. We would set up training excersizes and they wouldn't just engage the hypothetical enemy like we do. Our training problem is that Americans will blast anything. They grew up in fear, and were afraid of doing anything without permission, even if it meant death, tactically, because dying on the battlefield for not acting isnt nearly as bad as getting your whole family executed because you showed initiative. This carried over to business, and our screw up was purging all the Ba'athists, which though powermad, did have initiative.

In case you didn't notice, the military not only engages in very detailed business contracts all the time, they even audit the contractors.
So let's recap. According to you:

Extortion is actually socialism
Oligarchy is actually socialism
Poor people are investors
The military is a business
Yep, that's pretty much it. Socialism cannot work without extortion, because why would someone give up the rights to something they made or own without extortion?

Capitalism is simple. If you make it, you own it, unless you were paid to make it for someone else. If you want more stuff, make more stuff. If the stuff you make isn't the stuff you want, trade it.

Socialism is equally simple. If someone else made something, claim it as your orwn. If they won't give it to you then convince enough people that the person producing all the cool stuff isn't being fair, so that the village will produce enought thugs to pressure him to give it to you.

The end states are also simple. Under capitalism, everyone wants more stuff so the produce more and more stuff. This causes the price of stuff to plummet, so they have to innovate to produce even more stuff from less.

Under socialism, people intimidate anyone producing stuff and the stuff-producers give up and hide, leading to a stuff shortage. The "allocaters" who decide who deserves what then become critically important, as does any remaining stuff that can be allocated. People end up at war over who choses who gets to allocate the last clay pot, because the people's survival hinges on it.

One system is rewarding the production of more and more stuff, and one is punishing it. One society ends up drowning in stuff (iPhones, cars, movies, beer, exotic pets), and one ends up paying workers with boxes of rubber dildos (bizarre, but true and a fitting epitaph of socialism).

Gorbachev said one of the big mistakes the Soviets made was running a huge propaganda campaign saying that the unfairness of the capitalist system was forcing the elderly in the US to eat cat food (I remember that one). What he says did them in was that by that point in socialist utopian advancement, the psychological and hushed response was "In the West, they make food just for cats!!!!.

Libya was as socialist as socialists get. A few years before Quadaffi fell Michael Totten wrote a long series of articles about his visit there. Syria is likewise socialist. Both were modeled somewhat on Nazi Germany, which was socialist.
Nazi Germany -- like Syria and Libya -- was fascist, not socialist; those are two entirely different things.
Nazi Germany was not remotely Fascist. Fascists were stauncly anti-racist. Mussolini had a long string of Jewish girlfriends and was pointedly anti-socialist, though all he knew was socialism, having been the editor of the Italian socialist party newspaper as his only real job aside from being a Marxist propagandist and agitator, which got him thrown out of Switzerland.

Mussolini hid his socialist past, denouncing it as flawed compared to his third way path (like Chavez, whose family will probaby face copyright lawsuits by Mussolini's family). The Nazis were proud socialists, and if you dared question their commitment to socialism they would shoot you if you were in range, or get on the radio and denounce you if you weren't. If you search the archive of Nazi propaganda (maintained by some nice US university), you can read their vociferous corrections to confusion between their nationalism and their socialism. Nationalism was their foreign policy, socialism was both their domestic policy and their goal for the rest of the world.
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Old December 13 2012, 04:21 PM   #27
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Why are we even talking about socialism? Socialism isn't happening in Western countries. There are varying levels of social democracy, though, which is not socialism.

That is, unless we're going by gturner's wacky definition of socialism, which apparently includes any country where the government could conceivably tell you "no, you can't do that."
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Old December 13 2012, 05:31 PM   #28
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

gturner wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
So now socialism is what happens when capitalists deny other people their property rights?
Yes, for the people denied property rights it largely is.
And here I realize that you, like most Americans, don't actually know what socialism is.

Oh, you can go into business with nothing to back you up, and Mexicans and poor people do it all the time.
I suppose that's true at face value, so I reiterate: you cannot go into a SUCCESSFUL business with nothing to back you up. You can, of course, start a small business in your basement that doesn't do anything and doesn't have any revenue and continues to exist on paper for ten years after you forgot you created it. That isn't what we're talking about, though, is it?

It does if she's successful at it.
No, it does if your grandmother is an asshole and advances that $20 against at fifteen point royalty and then takes you to court when you don't pay up. Otherwise, that's just philanthropy, or more broadly, being helpful.

But you never know when you're going to see an opportunity, just like the fired engineers who bought FKI for about $10 million with a bank loan.
I rest my case.

But most of the activity in our economy remains at a much smaller scale, and it is (or was), profitable. You seem to be focused on the ultra-rich...
Quite the opposite, I'm very well aware that we have a consumer-based economy where the most relevant activity occurs in the bottom 90% of all income brackets. The thing is, this constitutes an economic oligarchy where the much larger share of the nation's resources aren't participating in the economy and are instead being held in trust by what is essentially an American oligarchy. It's no different from the business class and land barons of Latin America, and isn't fundamentally different even from the feudal serfdoms of medieval Europe. The key distinction is that FOR CERTAIN PEOPLE, western capitalism has featured far greater mobility between classes, yet there still exists a perpetual labor class that for the most part never climbs much higher than it already is.

The ability to start a lemonade stand on a street corner DOES NOT put you in the same class as the oligarchs, even if your lemonade stand is a successful one. Access to that higher rung necessarily means charming your way into the oligarchy, either by courting them as business partners, or by courting them as CUSTOMERS, and even that only gains you access, not membership.

Their taco vendors will spend as much time and analysis picking a location on the sidewalk as Yum brands uses to site a new KFC or Taco Bell, observing traffic patterns, meeting with other vendors to discuss options and how they'll carve up territories, gaging customer traffic, flow rates, and other factors. They do all this even though legally none of them can run a food cart.
Hate to break this to you, but "Really strict and annoying business regulation" isn't the definition of socialism either.

And that's the issue. Latin America has an ownership class, whereas in the US anyone can own almost anything - legally. Latin America was structured by very rich families intent on keeping the peasants as peasant thinking there was a natural, top-down order to society
I take it you don't remember the Jim Crow era?

More to the point, it's not ILLEGAL to own things in Latin American countries. It's HARD to own things, because the ownership class creates all kinds of artificial/procedural hurdles to making those kinds of acquisitions. Which, again, is the same thing that happens in America, and is perfectly surmountable by someone who is willing to jump over all those hurdles.

Washington ended up in a series of lawsuits trying to throw some penniless nobodies off land he'd claimed, and he got nowhere at it. He won the case, so they just walked off his property, rendering it even more worthless than it was before. The capitalist rule system we have wasn't introduced by the "investor class", it was invented by dirt-poor settlers who imposed it on the investor class.
That's funny, because history records the United States inherited its existing capitalist structure from the 18th century British Empire; the Revolutionary War was effectively a dispute between America's increasingly self-sufficient ownership class and their counterparts back in England. I also seem to recall that for most of America's history you couldn't even VOTE unless you were a white male landowner, and until the 1860s in many parts of this country it was illegal for black people to own books.

If all of that is indicative of socialism, when exactly did America become capitalist?

They can't stick their money in a bank because it will get reported and possibly seized, claimed as drug income or some other nonsense because they don't run a legal business because they don't have a business license (which they can't get), so they can be prosecuted for proving they run a real business.
At least they aren't being arrested and sold into de facto slavery because they can't prove that they have jobs.

Again, this is capitalism at its finest. The wealthy ownership class has created rules to limit competition and, in theory, allow THEMSELVES to remain dominant and profitable. It doesn't become socialism unless those rules were imposed on behalf of the people themselves; in this case, as you say, they were enacted to preserve the advantage of the ownership class, not the peasants.

If the street vendors want to ease the restrictions on business licenses, they ought to just spend millions of dollars (which they don't have) lobbying the legislature (who doesn't care about them) to change those rules (which they won't). They have the same opportunity we do, they're just less inclined to use it.

Yes, he was.


Did you ever think that maybe they have a vague idea because "socialism" is such a vague idea, encompassing everything from Nazism, Communism, and Fascism (whose end states were socialism) to Baptist church picnics?
No, because socialism ISN'T a vague idea. It's a very specific type of socioeconomic policy with very specific and generally positive implications pretty much everywhere.

EXCEPT America, where socialism is apparently defined as "a relative lack of capitalism" and is no vague and nebulous that even mobsters and picnics can be described as socialists.

Yep, that's pretty much it. Socialism cannot work without extortion
Actually, socialism cannot work without DEMOCRACY. A really strong, agile, robust and responsive democracy. That is considerably harder to implement than socialism, which is why socialism doesn't work.

Capitalism is simple. If you make it, you own it, unless you were paid to make it for someone else.
Considering that covers 90% of what gets made in the United States, that's a pretty huge "unless." The statement is actually better read "If you make it, your employer owns it, unless you weren't paid to make it for someone else."

Socialism is equally simple.
Socialism is many things, but it is NOT simple. The entire rest of your post is just rhetoric and underscores the fact that you have no idea what socialism actually is.
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Old December 13 2012, 05:43 PM   #29
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Why are we even talking about socialism? Socialism isn't happening in Western countries. There are varying levels of social democracy, though, which is not socialism.

That is, unless we're going by gturner's wacky definition of socialism, which apparently includes any country where the government could conceivably tell you "no, you can't do that."
There's the implication from the OP's study that modern industrial society trends towards greater environmental resource exploitation and instability. Essentially, humans can stave off disaster by accepting a lower/simpler level of existence, which means either some sweeping and painful restrictions in the capitalist paradigm (a huge list of things we're not allowed to do in business) or implementation of socialism (democratic control of the economy itself). Or some combination of both; probably certain industries would have to be nationalized and run as state entities and/or nonprofit companies serving the public interest.

At the same time, we'd also have to impose a new "no growth" economic paradigm, since the current one assumes steady population growth which is inevitable in unregulated reproduction. A population that doesn't grow tends to have labor shortages and other issues, so careful use of automation/technology plus strong population control policies would have to be devised to keep things stable.

Yeah, I don't think it would work either.
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Old December 13 2012, 10:24 PM   #30
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Re: Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

gturner wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
So now socialism is what happens when capitalists deny other people their property rights?
Yes, for the people denied property rights it largely is. However, they don't require capitalists to deny themselves property rights, and the pre-revolutionary Russian serfs maintained a system very much like that, where each village would re-decide which families got to work which plots of land, based on how many children they had, etc, all in the name of fairness and efficiency. The result was the poorest class of people north of Africa, because nobody would make any improvements on the land (since someone else might get the same plots next year), and the plots weren't even contiguous. They could give you a dozen narrow strips that were far apart from each other, so you spent half your day moving from one to the other. But the land and resources were allocated fairly!
No, Socialism is government ownership of the means of production.
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