Value of Work

by: Ender

Wed Jan 05, 2011 at 20:38:03 PM EST

I am a Capitalist to the core. I view Capitalism as the most moral (also my morality does not come from the Bible) economic system every invented... To date.

However I can find common ground with many people on the Left on the Value of Work. Let me try to explain, and I am sorry if I am unclear as I have never written these thoughts down.

I am very uncomfortable with morality of creating wealth without real labor. Real labor includes both mental and physical labor of course, but in my mind it equates to work that creates something (other than money itself). It does not include growing or creating money through lending, financial maneuvers, stock trading, etc. I don't disapprove of those activities per se, but there is no creative work, it is almost cheating - getting something for nothing. Utterly simplistic I know, but it does not square away with my notions of fairness.

Ender :: Value of Work
So, a CEO who improves a business that produces decent products for consumers, actually creates legitimate wealth and I have no moral qualms with incredible compensation commensurate with the amount of wealth created. But a CEO of a huge Bank that plays a shell game, gambles on selling risky mortgage packages, and does make billions for the Bank does not get any respect from me. And that's not even talking about all the losers who had to be bailed out by the taxpayer money.

I respect work that produces tangible results. Whether it is done by a professional accountant, or a blue collar factory worker.

In the same way, while I believe in the ultimate fairness of inheritance as a firm supporter of unshakable private property protections, and allowing us all to discharge it as we see fit, I do not respect those who live entirely on the fruits of their parents/relatives and lift not a finger to work or create anything on their own.

So when the WV GOP Senate Candidate John Raese said "I made my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it." it was cringe inducing.

While I support welfare for those poor who produce nothing out of general compassion, and a wish for societal stability, it induces a similar feeling as when I see those rich who produce nothing, though I do not support any welfare for them for obvious reasons.

Then today I saw a dkos commenter in a Musings on Solidarity diary say:

I disagree that receiving something for nothing is a value of solidarity; and that's what "welfare", as a political program is.

I do think that a civilized government needs a balance of pity/compassion and solidarity/common investment. But we need to keep these ideas somewhat separate.

For example, we can see welfare (that is to say, giving to the needy without expectation of a return contribution; or as a benefit from a prior contribution) is a useful and necessary temporary measure - but it is not the solution. Not so much for reasons Republicans will advocate (that is, the culture of dependency), but in that it permits the diversion of focus away from long-term solutions to move the recipients away into a contributory status, such as the generation of jobs.

and further on:

Where did I say I don't believe in compassion?
The Socialist movement is all about work; creating it, encouraging it, and earning a fair wage from it.

What I don't believe in is permanent unconditional relief; though (unlike the conservative) I believe the onus is on the state to provide work, either through direct jobs programs or an industrial policy that promotes the creation of domestic jobs; and requirements that the work be safe and pay a fair wage; and not categorically on the person who needs the work.

Look at it this way: for 30 years, the Dem party has operated on the "soften the blow neoliberalism" model. That is, dismantle the worker's gains, dismantle the unions, but throw crumbs to those hit the hardest by the results of neoliberal policies to keep them from 3rd-world style privation. Where has that got us?

This personal claims to be a socialist, and I disagree with the state's responsibility to provide work, but I do see a value being placed on work in addition to compassion, and a recognition that a person should contribute through working to the society supporting him/her. While these are not necessarily my values, as I do not necessarily agree with the emphasis on contributing to any society - I view it as a necessary evil in order to have a functional country, I agree with the focus.

Work/Labor/Creation should be properly rewarded and encouraged in any fair society, while the lack thereof, whether it is at the elite top, or the rock bottom should be actively discouraged.

And whether you hated or loved (and I know probably all of you hated) Ayn Rand, I am sure she is rolling in her grave at the perversion of Capitalism and the ugliness of worthless, corrupt and government sponsored Corporatism. Value of Work was evident through all her works. And it is something that I see as intrinsic to a well functioning society.

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Value of Work | 51 comments
Corrupt and government sponsored Corporatism? (5.50 / 2)
Spot on!  It's too bad that you're insane.  (You did say that you voted Republican?)

I can't comment on Ayn Rand.  I could never manage to wade far through that swamp.

i need to reply to something in your comment. (7.00 / 1)
It's too bad that you're insane.

i am very happy to have Ender's point-of-view here and the discussion it generates.

he comes here in peace but with very different views.

there are essays here about the rights of prisoners. men and women who have done some vile things. and we demand they be treated with dignity. but in real life? Rusty1776 left here because Ender posts here and Miep wrote someting about how this isn't helping her.

it astounds me. really. we have someone here willing to swim with liberals. i'm not interested in lock step opinions or points-of-views. i want to know how others think and what is important to them. because we have to navigate this together, in the end. or just keep on fighting.

i think any economy that is based on ever-expanding growth is simply wrong. it can not be supported. the whole model has to change, whether you call it socialism or capitalism or whatever...

we need sustainable and stable economic models that include revival of regional economies and small business.

we need to evolve away from "might is right" to "fair is right" and follow some ethical plan.

quality of goods.
integrity of processes.
good to our words.

how do we get there?

simplify... writing in the rAw

[ Parent ]
I'm very sorry. (9.00 / 1)
We have here someone who talks about "Corrupt and government sponsored Corporatism", and who tells us he votes for the current incarnation of the Republican Party.  I think "insane" is rather restrained.

Ender can make a lot of sense, when the mood strikes him.  And I know you like to have his point of view here.  I have followed him for several years, and have probably called him worse than "insane".  He can take it just fine.

[ Parent ]
no need to be sorry. (0.00 / 0)
i'm at a loss, gzodik. really.

how to put it all together because very little makes sense. Ender is not alone in his insanity then: we collectively are mad, i think.

simplify... writing in the rAw

[ Parent ]
gzodik is cool :) (9.00 / 1)
We've run into each other out there and not in a bad way.

[ Parent ]
You miss the point. (11.00 / 3)
You make it sound like people who embrace socialism do not value work.

Capitalism at present is Extraction Capitalism.

Picture a water tower, with a reservoir below.

Two gallons are pumped to the top for every gallon that trickles down to the lower one.

Socialism values work for its intrinsic value: No one can be rich without exploiting the only thing of real value... our WORK.

We desire a system in which that work is valued. We want a Unionized system that does not allow extraction to that degree.

We desire moreso a system in which the workers own the means of production and research, and thus have MORE impetus to work for ourselves.

We desire a system in which there is no economic barrier to the education that allows people to be productive members of society (thus provide work) and which some are guaranteed that capability by the grace of being born to parents of the exploitation class.

Your framing is right out of Glenn Beck, dude.

What if I told you, I want a system in which to make me healthy, it was only possible by forcing my ailment on someone else? That to heal, I had to make others much sicker.

That is what capitalism does, only with money - the very system that provides the basic provision for meeting our survival needs.

Visit me at my homepage too: The Wild Wild Left - Cross post if you will!

I disagree with your characterization (0.00 / 0)
There is nothing wrong with using the voluntary labor of others for the purpose of creating products. The contracts are entered into voluntarily and the labor is purchased for an agreed price. If workers want to own the means of productions, they should then purchase those means from the start to form the business. Unfortunately (for them) usually what happens is that it is not the workers who come up with the idea for the business, and it is unfair to suggest that somehow those means of production that were fairly acquired by the business owner, be transferred to the workers after the fact.

If the workers want to own those means of production after the fact, after the creation of such business - they can pool their resources together and try to purchase the company from the owner in a fair manner.

You imply that these means of production somehow magically should belong to the workers simply because they provide the labor. Well the labor is being compensated for through voluntary contracts. No one forced those workers to provide their labor. Labor does not confer ownership.

But let's hypothetically imagine a starting point where no one owns anything. Do you think that these same workers would be capable to start up businesses from nothing, run the factories, create the products and profit for themselves? I do not think so. Collective action does not magically create anything, which is why Capitalism is such a superior system as it allows those who have the ability to create and/or manage the production of these creations to forge voluntary contracts for labor and organize people into suitable structures, to be able to produce. Profit then is the motivator to keep it running efficiently.

Without these original creators, business owners, managers of labor, you have an unmanageable undirected mass that has no real ability to form enterprises that produce anything. Without someone starting those factories to begin with, workers themselves would not be able to do it themselves. Which is why a real pure communist nation is a fantasy, and why semi-communist nations didn't work either.

I have no problem with discussing other things like removing economic barrier to (some) education as clearly most education is already affordable - public schools and community/state colleges. Or good healthcare for all. But to remove the ability to purchase labor and the free market is absurd and incredibly unfair.

[ Parent ]
Your theoretical dance ignores a basic fact. (13.50 / 2)
In a pure, unregulated capitalist system (which is what your party is driving us toward) there is no goal but profit.  The good of the society is ignored.  The public school system you praise is under attack from those who want profit-driven education.  Health insurers, pharmaceuticals, increasingly even hospitals, have no interest in our health, except as it happens to increase profits.

Unregulated, untaxed profit clearly concentrates greater and greater wealth in fewer and fewer hands, concentrating production into fewer and fewer giant, international corporations.  When profits increase and wages are stagnant, with workers spending every penny just to survive, they are unable to start businesses, as you fantasize, even if those businesses could compete with multinationals.

[ Parent ]
first of all (7.00 / 1)
I do not advocate "unregulated" capitalist system. And I completely disagree with suggesting that GOP is driving towards any kind of "pure" or purer form of Capitalism. GOP has participated in the merging of Government and Business interests. Government should be neutral towards Business, only intervening when laws or regulations are broken. Both GOP and the Dems are often friendly to whatever segments of the Business world they are popular with, and are corrupted by the same. Dems (and sometimes even GOP) can also pretend to be hostile to Business to stir up populist sentiment around election time.

I am not very sympathetic to the idea of businesses needing to work for the "good of the society". That's not their job. They should be also neutral towards society. They should not harm the society, but they should also not be under any obligation to help. So long as they are productive and pay (taxes) their share for a stable society, they can try to get as much profit as they wish.

I also didn't praise the public school system. I simply commented that it's affordable. The public school system has been deteriorating steadily due to many factors, least of which imo being the for-profit schools.

Profit is taxed, and should be taxed, so long as it's fair. I am all for removing many of the loopholes that businesses and corporations use to evade some of their taxes. I don't like concentration into fewer corporations because it could reduce competition, but thus far I still see a fair amount of competition available.

Despite supporting the underlying structure, I do not like what is going including partly the stagnation of wages, loss of the industrial sector, outsourcing. But some of those are unfortunately unavoidable in an interdependent smaller world that we live in... Unless you want to start trade wars which  would probably cause even worse hardships for all the other companies that are currently still exporting their goods.

[ Parent ]
You didn't address (19.00 / 1)
what I said at all, though you spun it nicely to suit your needs.

Nowhere did I say that voluntary labor for the creation of products is bad.

The think is? The contracts are no longer voluntary - you either work for an amount that nowhere meets the cost of living, or you starve. Not much voluntary about that.

They have killed Unions, and they purchase our representatives to ensure no legislation that says cost-of-living must be met.

So, you think it fine for the owners of businesses to make a million times more a year than their workers? That extracting and marking up that much is fine? That has only brought outsourcing, this insane rush for extreme profits.

There are NO free colleges. Name ONE. And K-12 lacks money so much, schools go without toilet paper let alone books and computers.

But, 3/4 of every dollar we pay in taxes can go to military subcontractors?

Were everyone to start with nothing, as in your hypothetical, do you truly think that only the 1% that holds 90% of America's collective assets have any "worth or ability" to create a means of production? Bullshit.

In the 60's - 70's economic boon, somehow 30% shared about 60% of the wealth, a FAR more equitable number - and our economy was sound.

"original creators?" Seriously, Henry Fords idea was to pay everyone enough they could buy his products every year.

Surely any given collection of people have the capacity to hire engineers and researchers, and tier the labor between themselves, without Paris Hilton being born to the Hilton Line of hotel industry.

Unfettered, unregulated extraction Capitalism has created a Nation of Czars and peasants here.

The bootstrap, you too can be rich thing is a total fucking myth.

It is now Kings and serfs.

Visit me at my homepage too: The Wild Wild Left - Cross post if you will!

[ Parent ]
again I disagree with many of your statements (0.00 / 0)
There are plenty of people who do work for an amount that meets the cost of living. A vast majority of Americans do. People who live close to or under the poverty line are in a minority, and while I sympathize with their plight, you can't just make blanket statements like that.

Yes, it's difficult to change a job, but it is just especially difficult right now due to the economic situation we are in. Somehow through it all, 85%-90% of those interested in employment, are employed.

Millions of people have started and succeeded with small business. Including plenty of those who are not in that top 1%. I never said that it is only those at the top who can create. But a fair amount of them can, larger amount percent wise than in the rest of the population.

I see success all around me. 2 out of 3 of my best friends have succeeded out of either lower middle to middle class and are not making well into 6 figures in their early 30s. They went to both State and Private schools taking out loans. Then they just worked damn hard. None were born wealthy.

I just don't see this extremely dire situation you are painting. My other friend who is not as successful, also came from a lower to middle class family, married and lost his job due to the economic downturn. He just found a new job after a long search. Is everyone around me just lucky?

It's all about how you spin it. Sure it is hard for many people, but it's not impossible and many many succeed even in bad economic times. Regardless of how much those at the top make.

I honestly don't care how much the owners of private enterprises make, so long as they are not taking bailouts from the government. If they do come begging for taxpayer money, then I do start to care how much they pay themselves with my money. But if they do not, then I do not care.

[ Parent ]
You are full of (0.00 / 0)

Link me proof of this number, when unemployment in the US is goddamned close to 20 %..

Somehow through it all, 85%-90% of those interested in employment, are employed.

Interested in employment?

Fuck you (sorry pf)

I work (sans college) yet I used to run 2 departments that used to tool the entire big 3 of the automotive industry - Manager of Inventory (at all 3) and Repair Coordinator. I wrote every preventative maintenance contract, saved the auto industry millions a year, as well as saved MY company money.

I now clean houses and wait tables for 2 fucking 72 an hour at almost 50 year old.  We all got downsized for record profits.


Who "wants" employment? Every single unemployed person here would ratrher have a good paying job. Instead, we work 2 or 3, never see our kids, and get sick, only to be told we are denied health care by those profiting off our insurance payments. I have had chest pains for 2 years, and now cannot EAT without excruciating pain, which I hide to family becasue my husband's cancer is driving us so far in debt, that a cardboard box is next.

I have worked at least 2 jobs since I was 14 - I lied about my age to work.

The dream promised me has been fucked right out of existence by the fucking greedy, and promoted by people like you, who try and tell us its our own fault.

Fuck off. Post here all you want... its peefs blog.

But I hope you suffer every fucking thing I have before you stgep up on a soapbox again.

Who wants to work, are.

Fuck that.

I have worked 2 jobs for 28 years.

Asshole.... no wonder so many left because of you.... your true colors show...

Visit me at my homepage too: The Wild Wild Left - Cross post if you will!

[ Parent ]
rather boring emotional drivel (0.00 / 0)
in response to a normal human being. I guess because your circumstances are horrid, I must acknowledge the falsehood of America going down the toilet.

US must've never experienced these kinds of difficulties.

[ Parent ]
Boring emotional drivel? (0.00 / 0)
It is but an excerpt in a real life - proof positive that your neo-con posturings are false in real time.


Back up your claim that everyone who wants to work (or 90% of them) are working.

You lie.


Visit me at my homepage too: The Wild Wild Left - Cross post if you will!

[ Parent ]
sure (0.00 / 0)

Unemployment is really at 9.8%, expected to decline to 9.7% especially with new strong private job increases released today.

U6 that includes those who are partially employed, but want a full time job is at 17.3%. I did say 85%-90% to account for a lot in that extra 7.3%. I can adjust it to 83-90%.

[ Parent ]
your statistics are bs (0.00 / 0)
You are little green footballs looking for am in to brain wash lefties.

Nicely played agianst the kindness of Pfiore8.

Only those who want to work have jobs, and the rest are slackers eh?

The WSJ is a rag for the right anymore....

Visit me at my homepage too: The Wild Wild Left - Cross post if you will!

[ Parent ]
you can find the same government statistics (0.00 / 0)
elsewhere if you hate wsj. It's not a conspiracy theory. Nor did I suggest anywhere that everyone without a job is a slacker. But I am up for reading more caricatures.

[ Parent ]
Whatever (0.00 / 0)
they are NOT govt statistics.,

Done with you.

I thought you came her hoping to have a conversation, but you came here as an ideologue propagandist for the right.

You are now on my DNR list, like all trolls.

I won't play with blatant liars.

Visit me at my homepage too: The Wild Wild Left - Cross post if you will!

[ Parent ]
I guess the Labor department (0.00 / 0)
is no longer part of the government. Whatever.

[ Parent ]
relying on the government for anything, (0.00 / 0)
even favorable statistics, is inconsistent with wingnuttery.  Grover is ashamed of you, Ender.  

We all know the numbers understate employment on several levels.  They are at best very misleading.  People who have lost everything to the greed of corporate whoredom, including the ability to opt out of a corrupt and abusive system, are NOT statistics.  Yes, it is an emotional response.  Deal with it.  That is the reality of our existence, and you can't just dismiss it.  Not if you want to help solve the problems that we face.  

You don't need to commiserate, and no one's asking you for a hand out, so I think the polite thing for you to do here is not be a jerk.  You're perilously close, imo.  

[ Parent ]
I haven't had a chance to be polite (7.00 / 1)
before being told to fuck off and that I lie oh and that I should suffer. I think I've been quite polite since under the circumstances.

I don't begrudge the response, even though I can't pretend to understand not being in those shoes. Though just because I don't exhude guilt for not being terribly unfortunate the way some others might, does not mean I do not sympathize in my own way.

[ Parent ]
even a polite jerk (0.00 / 0)
is still a jerk.  A flippant "whatever" is at least as inflammatory as a direct "fuck you", and it's far more condescending.  You hit a button and just kept pushing.  

Practice tolerance.  In return, the rest of us are more likely to tolerate your particular character traits, even that Beckian framing thing.

We're all in this together.  Mark my words.

[ Parent ]
make that - (0.00 / 0)
"understate unemployment"  

Ender, you sly dog, you were going to let that slide, weren't you?

[ Parent ]
wtf? (0.00 / 0)
and because your friends all make six figures, we must acknowledge the falsehood that America is still the best thing since sliced bread?

[ Parent ]
neither is true (0.00 / 0)
just simply pointing that out.

[ Parent ]
I don't think that it's really worth discussing (19.00 / 1)
the merits of "socialsm" v "capitalism" or of any other economic or political -isms for that matter.  Different people mean different things by them depending on what point they're trying to make.

The bottom line is that no matter what economic or political ism people find themselves living under, that ism has an economy with wealth being distributed throughout it.  One constant method of distribution throughout all economic and political forms is taxation.  They aren't ever going away.

Check out this video which is well worth watching in its entirety and speaks directly to the argument you're making -

Basically, the US used to leave labor more or less alone tax-wise and taxed the living shit out of rent, aka the kind of economic parasitism whereby people make lots of money through no work at all that you decry.

Today, thanks to massive deregulation pushed for by both major political parties, instead of taxing the parasites, we throw them fresh carcasses to devour.

They'll suck as all dry eventually if people don't take direct action on the streets and do something about it.

But even if there is no revolt, once they've cleaned the rest of us out, they'll start eating each other, a process which has already off to a great start.  They won't be around forever, but they're going to do a lot more damage before they go down.

you nailed it, cman. (13.50 / 2)
all the chum thrown into this debate simply obscures this.

socialism? capitalism? immigrants. terrorists... abortion. homosexuality.

good god. and we fall for it every time. because, as Oliver Stone said in an interview recently, we want to be THEM. so we make it about abortions and anal sex between two men. yeah. this will cause famine and drought in the world. god will smite us for sure.

like this whole repub gov thing going after labor unions... i mean, how much clearer can it be? the labor unions didn't destabilize a world economy. the bankers and brokers did. but somehow, they can still line up for bailouts.

it borders on insane really. we are insane. how else can one explain it?

simplify... writing in the rAw

[ Parent ]
things are not that dire (0.00 / 0)
Yes, there is plenty of economic parasitism, but there is also plenty of honest producing enterprise. There are also tons and tons of opportunities for people to excel and succeed. I see it everywhere.

The way I see it, there is parasitism on both ends. And while I doubt it is fixable in the near future, I do not support any kind of "direct action" but hope that reform does happen. I am very uncomfortable with the amount of Corporate-Government collusion.

It's just not fascism or the end of the world. Which is why I disagree with pretty much all of you :)

[ Parent ]
The parasitism on the low end (7.00 / 2)
pales in comparison to what the bankers are making off with.

False equivalency.

[ Parent ]
And (19.00 / 1)
it may not be the end of the world as we've got a few billion years to wait before that happens, but words do have meanings and what we are seeing in this country is fascism by Mussolini's definition of the word.

It sure as hell isn't democracy.

[ Parent ]
Mussolini's definition of the word (0.00 / 0)
was meaningless because that is not the practical definition of the word. Fascism under Mussolini or under Franco or Hitler or Pinochet was a dictatorship of one person with varying degrees of private sector collaboration, but that collaboration forced under the gun of the dictatorship.

What we have in US is a voluntary collaboration between business and government, without any dictatorship present. We are very very far from any fascism that ever existed.

[ Parent ]
Don't start conveniently forgetting your history (0.00 / 0)
There is never a dictatorship of one, no matter how convenient it is to pretend there is.

And IIRC, Hitler at least was elected and had quite a bit of popular support.  Sort of like Bush or Obama.

And Pinochet?  What country was it again that helped that fascist take power?

Police state - check.

War machine - check.

Corporate control of government - check.

Sure sounds like fascism to me, regardless of whether the US has killed as many of its own citizens as some of those others did.  Yet.

[ Parent ]
hitler (0.00 / 0)
lost the presidential runoff in '32 with 36% of the vote and the Nazi Party never received a majority of votes or higher than 37%, but they were a large minority largely drawing support from the lower and middle classes. Hitler was appointed Chancellor due to a failing coalition government and proceeded to consolidate power from there. There was no corporate control of the government in Germany whatsoever or even any business support for his rise to power. Afterwards, sure, if they didn't want to be killed.

All the fascist regimes were dictatorships led by strong leaders. Just because they had strong supporters and collaborators, doesn't mean the power was diluted. There was also much more extreme government control over the countries. Again, I don't see us being anywhere close to that.

[ Parent ]
erm, (12.33 / 3)
Capitalism is most definitely NOT a moral system.  It is by definition, amoral.  Not necessarily immoral, but amoral.  Lacking in any morality, whatsoever. That's actually the heart of it's appeal.  There is no need to muddy up the works with human emotion or values or judgment.  Just let the market sort it out.

Pure capitalism does effect the most efficient distribution of goods and services, but that does not equate to the most fair or desirable distribution.  I agree that Rand is probably rolling in her grave over the perversion of her ideas about pure capitalism, but even in their pure state, they didn't work.  

Rand's philosophy fails because of one simple truth:  no man is an island.  Much as we might each like to be, we simply are not.  Not over the long haul.  Yet, we go to great lengths to feed the fantasy that if we only work hard enough, we can be self-sustainable, we can be individual islands, beholden to no other.  It's just not true, and it is the greatest lie ever told.

Oh, it's true enough that we can create the illusion.  We expend enormous amounts of energy doing exactly that.  We create that illusion through the accumulation of wealth.  If you have enough land, or things, or money, you can pay for others to provide the things you cannot provide for yourself.  You can be an island, at least for the short time that you walk this earth.  But it comes at a price.  A price no Randian is ever willing to acknowledge because it requires admitting that wealth accumulation is only possible through the exploitation of "others."  

Anytime you claim "ownership" of anything, you reduce the total pool of resources available to the rest of the world.  Each piece of land, each building, each water share, each idea -  if you "own" it, no one else can.  You have effectively removed it from the pool of things that others can compete to own.  You have made it harder for others to accumulate wealth - even if they are willing to work harder than you did.  You have devalued their labor, their "work".

If the accumulation of wealth is not equally available to all under the same set of standards, it necessarily results in exploitation.  As the pool of resources shrinks, no amount of work can make up for the lost opportunities to the exploited.  

So, I take issue with your claim that you value work.  By your own words, you do not.  No, I don't think you are lying, but you obviously haven't thought it through, your position is hypocritical, and we haven't even talked about the inheritance issue yet.  

It's nice that you are willing to force the expenditure of accumulated wealth to provide some level of charity, but I am really offended by your refusal to acknowledge that the accumulation of that wealth is what creates the need for charity in the first instance.

That said, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, if you are not outraged by the current state of affairs, you simply are not paying attention.  Our current system of indentured servitude places a nearly zero value on work.  

Thanks for opening a dialogue.

saying most definitely (0.00 / 0)
does not make something true. No offense, but different systems of morality do exist, and we can differ on what is and is not moral.

What is the same set of standards? I do not agree with finite resources idea because the new products and new areas of business have always been opened up. Sure when you have people trying to enter the same area, you will have competition and some will lose. You can't have everyone win and have a successful business, it's just not possible. Is it devaluing the losers' work? That is a strange way of putting it. I haven't thought of it that way, and don't have a great answer. But it is a much more natural way than somehow have everyone share same result no matter how hard they work. Imo.

I also don't view voluntary contracts with employees as exploitation. Can't see it as a valid term. No one is exploiting my work even if the owner of my company is getting 100 times what I am getting. I accept the value he is placing on my work. I may disagree, but I can leave and accept all the consequences that come with that. I am not a serf.

[ Parent ]
certainly we can differ (19.00 / 1)
on what is or is not moral.  My point is only that capitalism, by definition, doesn't make those distinctions.  

Resources are finite.  There is only so much land.  There is only so much gold.  An individual's capacity for work is finite - there are only so many hours.  We can argue about whether ideas are finite, but in the end it doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter how many new ideas for business are developed when there are no resources to put the ideas into production.  If someone else already owns (or has used up) everything I need to make and sell my widgets, I am reduced to selling my idea to them - I can't "capitalize" it.  The standards have changed and I am at a severe disadvantage.  

Employment is only voluntary if there is a way to survive without it.  There isn't.  The days of throwing up a teepee and hunting for dinner are long gone.  But at $7.15 an hour, in today's economy, your labor isn't worth enough to provide for all of your basic needs either - that's slavery.

I haven't thought of it that way,

That is the ultimate goal.  Thinking of things in new ways.  

[ Parent ]
if it's a zero sum game (0.00 / 0)
then how has our economy constantly expanded, with an ever increasing amount of people? GDP per capita keeps increasing. If you are only talking about global mining resources, then yes those are limited, but there is much more to our economy than that. Just as an example there are renewable energy resources such as solar power and wind which are only limited by our technological ability to harness them. Higher technology enables more and more efficient uses of both physical and knowledge resources, constantly increasing the size of the pie available to all. The amount of businesses is constantly increasing.

I have not heard of anyone not being able to produce a gadget simply due to lack of physical resources. The people who might be investing in said gadget have limited resources themselves and would be forced to pick and choose between different ideas, but that's about it. If you can give me examples of being not able to create something simply due to the absence of available purchasable resources, I would take a look, but I would wager that you will have trouble procuring that.

It's easy to imagine it, but that's not how the world works.

Sure there can be subsections of the economy that are purely zero sum (land,gold) but even so a vast majority of them would never affect anyone in the current world environment. There is plenty of land for sale for anyone who needs it and has the funds, and same with gold (though it is still being mined), and same with any "zero-sum" resource. There is plenty of each available for any use without the negative effect that you are talking about. Just because I bought some land from a guy in Texas, doesn't mean both of us didn't benefit. In that moment I valued the land more than the money, and he valued the money more than the land. Everyone wins.

As for employment being voluntary - I didn't mean that you can just stop being employed - I meant that any job you take is your own voluntary decision, but you must have some job if you have no other means to survive. It's just that particular job that you took is a voluntary decision, because you could've looked for another one. Regardless of how difficult it might be for someone to find a job, it is still a voluntary choice to take any specific job.

[ Parent ]
x (0.00 / 0)
if it's a zero sum game . . .
then how has our economy constantly expanded, with an ever increasing amount of people?

Because we don't play by the rulz.  When we come up short, we steal from others.  We pretend that morphing $14T in mortgages into $700T in derivatives is growth, not insolvency.  But we've run out of things to steal, so our economy is now imploding.    

Just because I bought some land from a guy in Texas, doesn't mean both of us didn't benefit. In that moment I valued the land more than the money, and he valued the money more than the land. Everyone wins.

The land was owned by someone.  It was sold to you because you had the money.  The two of you win, in the short term.  In the aggregate, the land was never available for purchase by any of those wage slaves whose labor isn't valued enough to allow them to accumulate enough wealth to ever buy it.  At some point, the money received for that land will be spent on consumption, and that consumer will be forced out of the market with no means of reentry.  Over time, all resources get more and more concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer "players" - in the long term, one side or the other of your initial transaction will eventually be forced out of the market with no means of reentry.  

Regardless of how difficult it might be for someone to find a job, it is still a voluntary choice to take any specific job.

Ahhh, yes.  We always have a choice.  Increasingly, that choice boils down to take the job and starve slowly, or refuse the job and starve quickly.  Not much of a choice, but still a choice.  

[ Parent ]
And that hypothetical land decision (0.00 / 0)
affects more than just the buyer and seller.

Some guy in a rural area sells of some land to a wealthy out of state buyer.  Then they put up a big McMansion on it.  Then property values rise, for reasons which those already living in the area have no control over.

That might be nice if those in the area also wanted to sell their homes.  But if they don't, all of a sudden they're paying higher property taxes through no doing of their own which they may or may not be able to afford.

That type of thing happens all the time.  I could point to any number of people in the rural area where I grew up who've been affected by land sales like this, including my parents and probably myself one of these days depending on what happens to their property.  

[ Parent ]
I don't value work.... (8.50 / 2)
Sorry. I don't. Having said that I work pretty hard as do most folks just trying to hold on to a job.

Right now I am working full time and going to school. It feels like something I have to do not something I strive for. Striving is what I do in other areas in my life.

Who is to say what work does and does not have value and what is the "value" we assign it it? Who decides and why?

I have nothing against capitalism it seems like a temporary structure that could easily have no meaning in another era. If we even make it to another era.

Ender has as much right as anybody to believe in a particular economic structure. We always believe in what we benefit from. Human nature. Not to say that Ender or anybody else who appreciates capitalism has not themslves made great effort.

Something must be wrong with me. I don't find this at all offensive. Maybe because I think we are all slaves worshipping our own personal Gods?

because (0.00 / 0)
like you say "Who is to say what work does and does not have value and what is the "value" we assign it it? Who decides and why?" it is difficult for any one human being, or even a group to decide these things. Which is why in Capitalism, anonymous and in many cases quite impartial market decides what value of work should be based on many factors such as demand, skill level, quality, etc.

I'd rather have the market decide in many cases what various professions should earn, than biased people setting salary levels for everyone.

As long as I have decent control over my own destiny, I do not see myself as a slave. And so far, I can clearly see the choices I've made leading me to where I am today. Am I saying that external factors don't overwhelm and screw many others? No. Just that I can't agree with the idea that all of us are not in control over our destinies.

[ Parent ]
You can't have it both ways (19.00 / 1)
You cannot decry the parasitism of the financial "industry" (racket would be a much better descriptor) and then turn around and say the market alone should decide what people are allowed to make.

Maybe from an ideological standpoint you can try it, but the ideology doesn't reflect the reality of what actually happens.

What happens when people are allowed to make as much as the markets allow is that they then turn around and use that wealth as a hammer to get even more.  Don't want to play ball with Blankfein, then kiss your next campaign goodbye as they pull their bribes and give them to someone else.  The financial industry controls DC these days, and at least one Senator has admitted that they own the place.  

IMO, nobody should be allowed to make above a certain amount.

Strike that last bit.  I'll concede that if I were running some profitable company, I wouldn't want some outside source telling me how much I can make and putting a cap on my income. The government shouldn't be able to tell anyone how much they can make.  What they can tell you is how much you get to keep.  These rich assholes who got that way by using their obscene wealth to rig the syatem in their favor should be taxed to the point where they can't do it again.

Nobody should sink to low or rise to high in the kind of society I'd like to live in.

And c'mon man.  You know damn well that claptrap about how we all control our own destinies is nothing but feel good bullshit you can read in any two-bit self help book.

I don't control the price of wheat, the price of cotton, the price of rents,  nor do I control whether my place of employment will increase my salary to keep up with the cost of living.  For most people, it's either work at the job you are stuck with or quit and be even worse off.

[ Parent ]
I didn't say complete control (0.00 / 0)
Of course I can't control all the external factors, but there is still plenty that is up to me. The decision to go to college, to pick a certain profession, to become good at it, to find a decent job, to get married, to buy a house, etc. Those are all decisions I made, and they got me to where I am today regardless of the prices. Sure external factors can put a damper on my quality of life, but I could've made either worse or better choices and consequently changed my lifestyle in very measurable ways.

That's what I mean by controlling my own destiny. Sure, not everyone can do it because for whatever reasons either their own decisions or purely external factors, or combination thereof completely remove any ability to change for the better. Most of us have made the choices that led us to where we are today, and I stand by that.

When I talk about market deciding what people should be making, I do it in a context of also wanting to limit the political influence of money. Sure, that is not happening, but even without it I much prefer the market setting the rules than the government. At the moment, even with the parasitism of the financial industry, we do not have a better alternative than the market. I do not trust government in most areas, especially when it relates to business and the market. I do want those who are wealthy to pay a fair share, but we differ on what that fair share is.

[ Parent ]
There are plenty of better alternatives (0.00 / 0)
than simply letting the supposedly "free" market decide, especially when that market is rigged.

I don't think things like health care or education should be market based at all.  They should be paid for through taxes and available to any citizen.

And even the decisions you say you controlled aren't all that cut and dry either.  I went to college and planned to study applied mathematics with a professor I thought was brilliant.  Then they fired him and I switched majors to a completely different field.  I had control of what to major in but no control over my mentor getting canned.  Quite a number of students protested to the administration about him being denied tenure, but to no avail despite a fairly considerable effort to get our point across that he was a great teacher. If I knew then what I knew now, maybe I would have transferred to a different place.  But of course at the time I didn't have the 20 extra years of life experience under my belt that I do now.

[ Parent ]
none of it is cut and dry (0.00 / 0)
but our personal decisions do mostly shape the life we end up in. What many people here speak of is all individuals twisting in the wind at the whim of some masters, completely unable to influence their own life, with no choices available. That is nonsense in my experience and from what I can see in US as a whole.

I also didn't necessarily mean that everything should be market controlled. I've said before that I could see getting out of for-profit health care, though not education.

The reason why education should be a choice between public and private and absolutely homeschooling is because we as parents (which I am not one yet) should have full control over the kind of education we give to our children depending on our personal resources and dedication. If I want to give my child a better and/or safer education than what is provided in our public schools, I should have that choice.

The difference between healthcare and education is that healthcare access is critical with a life or death impact. I don't like an idea that anyone should be denied healthcare over their inability to pay.

[ Parent ]
I'm not for abolishing private schools (7.00 / 1)
I went to one for college at least.

But I'm also not for privatizing more and more secondary schools and leaving the public ones to rot, which is what has been going on in the US for years.

Lack of education may not directly lead to life and death situations like lack of health care would, but indirectly, you bet it does.  Ask anybody who joins the military (which is accepting ever less qualified applicants these days) because it's the best opportunity available to them.

[ Parent ]
I have a problem (8.00 / 1)
with your idea that anyone who figures out a legal way to amass a huge fortune somehow "deserves" it.  Deserves be damned.  What is he going to do with it?  Hire lobbyists and buy politicians, it seems.  When "money is speech", as the Republicans would have it, democracy goes down the toilet.  

If a guy turns up who is so clever that he can control all the wealth, and everyone else can work for him or die, is that right with you?

Howard Roark... (13.00 / 2)
...Hard Work...Dagny Taggart...cigarettes with dollars is all a blur...

It is true that there is a strong strain of redemption through hard work, the dignity of work -- a kind of spiritual tale -- at the heart of socialist and capitalist narratives.  

I personally use this myth all the time.  In serious reflection, I don't agree with it though -- I think it is an artifact of the industrial revolution in both cases.  Whatever the structure of economy or politics, you have to work damned hard and very well to make trains go, airplanes fly, and crops come in.  But what happens when there are seven billion people and the distribution of those people and their resources is undergoing uneven growth and change?  Any model for how people "should" be, and the personal feelings about right action for individuals, seems less than directly relevant, just another recipie for letting a bunch of people die for good sounding reasons.  There are places without the infrastructure to turn hard work into sustainable (in the short term) existence, and millions of people live there.  

But on a personal level (7.67 / 3)
there is little to compare with the joy of having a difficult and important job and doing it well.

[ Parent ]
nice post (0.00 / 0)
Such a kind of article is really awesome,I daily read your blogs and give my notice for that here this article is too great and so interesting.Window N90 S

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