Scientist declares “Earth is F**ked" --Discuss?!

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Yminale, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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).

    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.

    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.

    Yes, because MILITARY COORDINATORS are exactly who you would send to teach people how to run a business. :rolleyes:

    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.

    Libya and Syria are "socialist" inasmuch as Kim Kardashian is an opera singer.
     
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    And if one of them owned ten quadrillion dollars in Ferengi cattle futures, this would affect you how?

    You don't need billions to start a business. Most people start small. You don't need millions to by Apple stock.

    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.

    They starved out villages as policy. Did the villagers wander over to a neighboring village and buy food? No, they couldn't.

    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  4. Davros

    Davros Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
  5. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So now socialism is what happens when capitalists deny other people their property rights?:vulcan:

    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.

    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.

    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:
    ... 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.

    Of course not. Just to STAY in business for more than a week.

    Why should that surprise you? The ownership class in Latin America doesn't need anyone's permission either.

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

    Then I suppose Al Capone was one of the greatest luminaries of American socialism.;)

    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.

    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.

    So let's recap. According to you:

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

    Nazi Germany -- like Syria and Libya -- was fascist, not socialist; those are two entirely different things.
     
  6. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    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!

    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. :lol:

    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.

    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.

    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).

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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!!!!.

    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.
     
  7. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

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    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."
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And here I realize that you, like most Americans, don't actually know what socialism is.

    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?

    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.

    I rest my case.

    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.

    Hate to break this to you, but "Really strict and annoying business regulation" isn't the definition of socialism either.

    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.

    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?

    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.

    :guffaw:

    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.

    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.

    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 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.
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  10. Davros

    Davros Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No, Socialism is government ownership of the means of production.
     
  11. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Actually, socialism is the state/ruling class' CONTROL of the means of production. And it's a very inclusive concept.
    Gturner went on about these semantics at some length in his posts.

    Also, Davros - gturner's example you quoted as not being socialism is MOST DEFINITELY socialism.
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Davros had it right: ownership is a key part of the concept. Mainly this is because varying levels of control exist even in capitalist economies, from absolute control over what is nominally a privately-owned company, to ordinary business regulation or restriction. Governments can and do -- and really, MUST -- control their economies to a smaller or greater extent in order to maintain stability. Even fascists and totalitarian regimes often permit private ownership of key industries as long as the owners continue to play ball.

    Government OWNERSHIP of the industry is another matter altogether. State-owned companies and institutions need not be under the direct CONTROL of government ministers and could just as easily be delegated to local officials and run on a for-profit basis anyway; the fact that the government and NOT private investors own those resources is the difference between capitalism and socialism. In some ways there is a bit of an overlap between dictatorships and socialist regimes, but only insofar as socialism is a useful but hardly inevitable tool of dictatorships.

    Broadly: Capitalism is an economy whose means of production are owned by private capital. Socialism is an economy whose means of production are owned by government institutions.
     
  13. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Still trying to change the definition of a concept, using this forced semantic interpretation to support your position, I see.

    newtype_alpha, the term 'socialism', as used by today's economists (and I'm really not interested in whatever fringe opinions you may want to dig up via google), includes various means of 'control' of the means of production.
    Deal with it.

    And, of course, there's no such thing as a pure capitalist state (nor is it desirable); various aspects are socialist in any country. That would be the social democracy part - it works quite well for providing a minimal standard of living, equality of chances (more or less) as long as the money for it are provided from somewhere else.
     
  14. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nope.

    Nothing FORCED about that definition, that's what "socialism" actually is, and the key point of the definition is OWNERSHIP. That it is often used inaccurately by people who don't know what the hell they're talking about doesn't change this definition.

    Yeah, it doesn't get much more "Fringe" than the dictionary and Wikipedia.:rolleyes:

    I'm half tempted to dig up my college history textbooks on the subject which include a similar definition plus analysis plus historical examples and outlined differences with other theoretical/practicable systems -- e.g. fascism, communism, libertarianism, mercantilism, monarchism, etc -- but I doubt the twenty minutes it'll take to pull my books out of storage and transcribe all that would be worth the effort.

    Which would be exactly what I meant when I said that capitalism always fails when it is implemented properly, which it almost never is (and is why it succeeds as often as it does).

    FYI, there is no working definition -- OTHER than the lunatic fringe of the right wing -- where "socialism" is defined as "anything that limits capitalism."
     
  15. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    newtype_alpha

    Here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Economics
    Read their work and see just how the concept of 'socialism' is used in it.

    As for the rest - as said, I'm really not interested in whatever fringe economists' opinions you find via google.
    Of course, you didn't even bother looking for such opinions - you just took the simplified definition of the concept as it's found in a dictionary and assumed that's how the concept is used in economics.
     
  16. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, I HAVE read several books and articles written by these people (Paul Krugman, Lloyd Shapely and Elinor Ostrom are among the more prolific).

    YOU, however, have not.

    Really? Because you just posted a list of those very same economists, and now you're not interested in what they have to say?

    We were discussing the basic fundamental definition of socialism, and the key to that definition is "government ownership of the means of production." How that concept is used in economics is both far more complicated and thoroughly irrelevant, since the deeper discussion -- dealing with the subtler implications of socialism and its effects on the market, on production, on political power balances and social forces, etc etc -- do not affect that central premise that socialism is government ownership of the means of production.

    Now you just went ahead and cited a whole list of nobel Laureates in economics, presumably on the assumption that at least one of them wrote something that supports your claim that mere CONTROL of the economy in the absence of real ownership is enough to define "socialism." All you have to do is find me one article or one textbook written by any of these people that actually supports that contention. Are you prepared to do that?
     
  17. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Actually ownership is irrelevant if you have control, which is why many definitions of socialism say "government ownership or control." In the case of the Russian serfs, the land and tools were owned by the aristocrats who owned the serfs, yet allocation was left to the villagers. When the aristocrats were stipped of ownership, control of the land and tools was still exercised by the villages, which had always been the local body in charge of such allocations. Then under communism the situation was still unchanged, or worsened. Who owned the land and tools on paper was irrelevant to the serfs who never gained control of their own fates, and who couldn't tell any difference between medieval slavery and socialism based on their own experiences. They were told which plots to work, with which tools, in what organizational group, and then someone would come and claim most of the grain they grew.
     
  18. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

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    Given how broad a term "control" is, there is no functional state on Earth that couldn't be described as "socialist" under that definition.

    There are always controls on what you may or may not do with your capital. A really simple example is if you want to put up any kind of permanent structure on land you own, such as a workshop, you virtually always need to obtain a government permit, have it inspected, etc. etc.

    Once you expand the definition of "socialism" to include this, it becomes a useless distinction, because every government thus becomes socialist, from China to the United States to Estonia.
     
  19. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    I think the difference is when you are told to build an outbuilding, and told what you will store in it. In the South, some slaves ran businesses for their masters, but they still didn't have ultimate control of what they built and ran. For the serfs, the land was communally allocated on a year-by-year basis under the aristocrats or under socialism, so to them both systems looked the same. Ownership is a problematic measure because under many systems, such as most of the third world, it can't even be accurately determined, with overlapping claims that depend more on exerting will or ignoring what the official paperwork says. In the developed West, ownership is usually clear and straightfoward. Elsewhere, not so much, and in many places everything is owned by whoever you are negotiating with if you are looking to buy, but always somebody else if you are trying to collect a debt.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Two really good examples.

    In the first place, the government tells various businessmen to build things for them -- space ships, for example -- and those companies go and build it to the government specifications, usually at an agreedupon price.

    In the second place, even a business that is CONTROLLED by slaves is still OWNED by the slaves' masters whether he actually does anything or not.

    A government may exert control of, say, the banking industry or the finance sector by imposing regulations or by sharply restricting activities it considers damaging to the economy. It may exercise control of oil companies by restricting where they can and cannot drill for new oil sources, or it can require them by force of law to pay to repair damage caused by their occasional mishaps.

    This becomes socialism if and only if the government takes direct OWNERSHIP of the company away from its shareholders or other proprietors. It would still BE socialism even if the state-owned companies were run on a for-profit basis as if they were private companies, even if they were amazingly profitable, even if the government ministers who nominally supervised them made no attempt whatsoever to exercise control over the appointed CEOs.

    I fully concede that there's sometimes a very thin line between social democracy and outright socialism. It must be said, however, that that thin line is the difference between private and government ownership of the means of production

    Do not confuse theft or corruption with an actual dispute of ownership. It is common practice in some Latin American countries to disenfranchise certain groups (certain ETHNIC groups, although Latinos on both sides are loathe to admit this) through legal and logistical tricks that may or may not even be legal. In some cases it's a bit like the Predatory Lending scandals in the U.S., but on a much larger scale because their governments are a lot less responsive to those kinds of problems.