Major reform of capitalism

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I am a capitalist. What I mean by that is I believe in the basis of private ownership and profit motive as the basis of the economy. Although I believe there's then a lot of room for limits on the freedom of economic actors.

However, it seems to me that the current model of capitalism in the West is failing its societies. In the postwar world up to the 1970s, advancement and improvements were widely spread across the population. Since then, that has broken down. The general economic growth that is regarded as the benchmark of "success" is inadequate as a measure of societal good: specifically, that the distribution of national economic growth flows much more to the rich than the poor - perhaps as much as half our countries, with even the next 40% or so slipping further from the top 10%.

This is fuelling massive discontent in nominally successful societies. Surveys often suggest that the population at large is far less keen on laissez-faire capitalism than the political, media and corporate elites, and yet the elites prove to be remarkably resistant to incorporating these beliefs. Excessive differences in wealth potentially undermine democracy itself, as the power within a country is increasingly captured by the affluent. And even where individual countries might desire change, the globalised economic system works to inhibit variation from established norms.

Claims of the "death of capitalism" are always over-rated. But have we come to the point where there needs to be a fundamental re-working of our economic and societal systems if we are to continue societal progress in the 21st century? What policies might achieve this? Can we return to a stronger state intervention model of yesteryear, or is this also failed and we need a radical, novel approach? In a globalised world, does this need to be an international consensus, or can countries try it alone? Will it effectively take revolutions to break the stranglehold of the status quo?

Profit isn't that much of a motivator for your average person who achieves personal security, however. I mean I'm independently wealthy, I could get a job that would build that wealth into greater sums faster ... but my personal angle is I want money to do what I want to do. Not to have money to still do what other people want me to do.

I'm willing to go without luxury, living in a studio apartment, and utterly fine not eating $50 cuisines each meal or riding the latest hotness. FFS, I eat uncooked rolled oats and some mixed in dried fruit all day most days. It's functional and I actually like it ... the texture is interesting and 'crunchy' is a perfectly valid 'taste' in my books.

I know horses that have a more comprehensive and expensive diet than I do by volume.

The problem with capitalism isn't that profit alone motivates. It does the opposite. Profit doesn't motivate you to do shit. Surviving does. Money merely tells you what you can get away with, and certain people have higher or lower expectations of what that may be.

To give yu an example...

A smart drug dealer doesn't drive around a tricked out vehicle and goes clubbing each night (unless personally moving a shitload of product). A smart drug dealer gets the exact amount of money they need to pay off those they owe money to, the exact amount of money to reasonably live off, without causing too much of a ruffling of feathers between other criminal interests who have more thugs than they do. Then they leave town and make it clear they want nothing to do with it anymore. Living on the illicit gains through investing through the names of close people they can trust to give them the majority of profits made from that.

Those are the drug dealers that don't get caught. Profits alone motivates only idiots and the poor. I would happily exchange 'profits' with a cold hard guarantee from someone of merely positive growth. There is a difference here. Because one is a guarantee of returns, the other is merely something I need to do so as to not go backwards and absorbing what losses I do make or freeing me from additional responsibility.

In the end, any person desires more free time and a guaranteed means to stay afloat rather than simply profit.

Time is the one thing you can't buy. You can sell it, but why do that if you don't need to?

I don't mind property, I own some myself, but I'd like people to be able to explain what they are going to do with it. Work, living, eating, using, whatever. Right now a lot of money is mostly used to make ever more money. This accomplishes little of value and mostly serves to further enrich the rich. I'm in favour of higher taxes on property, inheritance, at least some tax on stock trading and reigning in the financial sector in general. This would help tie the amount of property a bit better to the amount of things you do. In the same vein, as far as I'm concerned, stock owners are glorified moneylenders. Either you run the place or you don't and if you don't, I don't think you should own it either.

Also, more international cooperation to close off some tax evasion loopholes for example by taxing based on amount of production or jobs, rather than where shell headquarters are located. Right now countries like Bermuda, Ireland, the Netherlands, etc seem to struggle to get large multinationals to not pay their taxes to them. Imagine what we could accomplish if google, activision, facebook, etc all payed a reasonable amount of taxes, whereever they'd do it.

Depending on the country in question, it might also be nice to do something about situations where politicians are far too reliant on their donors. The US is the best example, but I imagine different countries have different ways of allowing the wealthy to 'lobby'.

Lastly, but this is probably just a pipedream, have people in organisational roles who know something about the subject matter they are organising. It's rather strange that the same people can be the big guys (or girls... sometimes) at a tech-company this year and at an insurance-, retail- or shipping-company the next. It seems to me like too much money and respect is given to managerial roles relative to the thing they are managing. No doubt some of the middlemanagers at your insurance company could be promoted rather than just finding the guy that was just let go at a tech company for being mediocre there. Couple this with no perverse bonusses that reward C?O's for short term results at the cost of long term stability and we might get some responsible management now and then.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Profit isn't that much of a motivator for your average person who achieves personal security, however. I mean I'm independently wealthy, I could get a job that would build that wealth into greater sums faster ... but my personal angle is I want money to do what I want to do. Not to have money to still do what other people want me to do.

I think this is a cultural matter as well. Right now for example we are told that companies exist to make money. Some of the older people I know were thaught that companies exist to maintain themselves and in a magical time long ago companies existed for some specific purpose: their actual activities.

Maybe people don't think that money is the most important thing in the world but education can change their minds. When you study philosophy, the logical endpoint is a PhD (this is a problem in itself, there aren't nearly enough positions for everyone who wants one) or a job as a journalist, policymaker or something like that. A teacher will compliment a student by saying they could get very far as a scholar. When you study math you are prepared for either research, education or industry. But at a business school things are different. There the mark of succes is not the ability to do research but the ability to make money and have the highest position in some business or other. The mark of succes within the position that you might reach is again a profit margin. (these are very general statements based on my own experience, they obviously don't apply to every last soul doing these studies)

People might not be profitdriven by nature but they'll learn. If everyone around them implicitly assumes that profit is important, as much as possible to be sure, then they will pick up on that possibly without even noticing that much.

Agema:

However, it seems to me that the current model of capitalism in the West is failing its societies. In the postwar world up to the 1970s, advancement and improvements were widely spread across the population. Since then, that has broken down. The general economic growth that is regarded as the benchmark of "success" is inadequate as a measure of societal good: specifically, that the distribution of national economic growth flows much more to the rich than the poor - perhaps as much as half our countries, with even the next 40% or so slipping further from the top 10%.

I don't think the model of capitalism in the west fails, first thing is that as long as we have humans in a system an evolution of the system into a status quo of a class regimented society is inevitable. Also the spreading of advancement doesn't seem to be much of a problem, for example, smartphones and internet:
http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/
http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/06/26/americans-internet-access-2000-2015/
Yeah it's not 100% but it's pretty damn high and not limited to the top 1%.

This is fuelling massive discontent in nominally successful societies. Surveys often suggest that the population at large is far less keen on laissez-faire capitalism than the political, media and corporate elites, and yet the elites prove to be remarkably resistant to incorporating these beliefs. Excessive differences in wealth potentially undermine democracy itself, as the power within a country is increasingly captured by the affluent. And even where individual countries might desire change, the globalised economic system works to inhibit variation from established norms.

I think the discontent is not from the capitalism failing but just how boring life as become, like Addendum_Forthcoming said (hopefully I'm not misunderstanding) life is boring as comfort is ludrisiously simple. The life of aristocracy centuries ago is worse than the life of a middle income family today.
And that boredom starts at thinking an ideal system is possible despite reality signalling otherwise. Also with the advent of the internet the propogation of ideas is far easier as well as alienation from society allowes self-radicalization and the internet (and media in general) favours extremists to convey the mood rather than the majority.

Claims of the "death of capitalism" are always over-rated. But have we come to the point where there needs to be a fundamental re-working of our economic and societal systems if we are to continue societal progress in the 21st century? What policies might achieve this? Can we return to a stronger state intervention model of yesteryear, or is this also failed and we need a radical, novel approach? In a globalised world, does this need to be an international consensus, or can countries try it alone? Will it effectively take revolutions to break the stranglehold of the status quo?

First of all, reducing corruption. This is the main flaw today and can cause pretty big problems like seen in the USA. Besides that I'm against globalism as I see it more beneficial to the rich than the actual citizens of a country.
Besides from that I can't think of a way that wasn't tried and failed, at least with our current day technology. Humans will remain humans and that means they will hoard stuff for their offsprings, even if it is not fair that others will have less to.

I do think capitalism will fail in the next half-century.

But only because automatisation moves on. And the jobs replaced after lorry drivers will be those of the bankers. And that will start a big transformation of our economies. And then people will realize that you don't need wealthy individuals to make personal investment decisions as those are done by AIs anyway. Resulting in the realization that you don't need wealthy individuals anymore at all.

Pseudonym:

I think this is a cultural matter as well. Right now for example we are told that companies exist to make money. Some of the older people I know were thaught that companies exist to maintain themselves and in a magical time long ago companies existed for some specific purpose: their actual activities.

Maybe people don't think that money is the most important thing in the world but education can change their minds. When you study philosophy, the logical endpoint is a PhD (this is a problem in itself, there aren't nearly enough positions for everyone who wants one) or a job as a journalist, policymaker or something like that. A teacher will compliment a student by saying they could get very far as a scholar. When you study math you are prepared for either research, education or industry. But at a business school things are different. There the mark of succes is not the ability to do research but the ability to make money and have the highest position in some business or other. The mark of succes within the position that you might reach is again a profit margin. (these are very general statements based on my own experience, they obviously don't apply to every last soul doing these studies)

People might not be profitdriven by nature but they'll learn. If everyone around them implicitly assumes that profit is important, as much as possible to be sure, then they will pick up on that possibly without even noticing that much.

Right, but that still doesn't necessarily discount what I'm saying, does it? Your average person may plan out their retirement ... but they'd plan it a hellof a lot closer if they don't need to worry about working (whole point, right?). Even those upper echelon managerial types you talk about before, they get a company car. They get a corporate credit card for entertaining clientele.

Giving them more money isn't going to make them do a better job, and the research shows that. Big salaries merely attract people with big egos who think they deserve 12 million per year. I have never met a corporate officer in my life thatactually sufficiently returns back to the company thesalaries they are demanding. Especially when you comparethem to younger financial, marketing, and managerial gurus bneing taught the latest ways to manipulate human behaviour through consumer psychology and worker management.

The best, and I mean the best, applied consumer psychologists you will ever meet are the shop assistants in an aspirational brand store. The people that actively act like arseholes on purpose and due to an amazing quirk of human behaviour manages to get people to hand over their credit cards based on manufactured desirability through public perceptions of exclusivity.

You know, the types of people that make you immediately feel bad after you buy something?

They are better potential ad sales department material than half the fucking wankers I've met asking for 100k+.

But the thing is, once you know how this stuff works you suddenly realize that pub-style chicken parmagiana, or that quaint Indian fast food place is 10 times more reasonable and heartier than any amount of rare ribeye steak with truffle mustard sauce, it ceases to fascinate you.

Even the company is better in that suburban pub. As at least the strangers there are not lying to themselves or you.

And the thing is ... the politics of envy that you describe is merely that. Envy. But wnvy over what?

The greatest failure of capitalism is preciselyt that, profit motivates only the poor or the stupid ... not those who actually realize what's actually on offer. The second greatest failure is that at the cost of some rich bastards lying to themselves and promoting and self-fueling these thoroughly retarded (yes, properly retarded ... clinically retarded) ideas of wealth ... the more people actually suffer both the idea of apirational brands but also the fact that the wealthy justify their wealth to the exclusion of others receiving their fair share to atleast recognize the sham.

Hell, when Nietzsche tells us to burn down the marketplace ... I get it. Because people will still get that fucking chicken parmagiana, they will still get that beef vindaloo and poppadoms, and not have to worry that they're missing out in some transcendental experience that is built on utter piles of garbage.

These are literally garbage people. And it's hard to look at them any other way once you shake their hand and start talking to them.

What people should be angry about isn't the fact that some colossal fuckwit is riding around ina yacht that requires 12 hands on deck to actually manage it over any sufficient degree of time.

What they should be angry at is the fact that at the cost of that, they can't afford to be paida living wage and be allowed to pick their kids up from school or play with them and the family dog at the park. Because there's a very definite connection to someone earning an average of 400 times what you do, for working half the hours and with near zero true responsibility, and you ending up having to do unpaid labour every single fucking day.

This is compounded by the fact that in order to achieve these rates of iniquity, the manufactured exclusivity of 'aspirational branding' is more keenly felt. It becomes a source of growing anxiety rates. It makes people actively bitter when they come back home ... and worse still, even if it doesn't make them bitter, it makes them think that the reason to want profit is to merely own more things.

I have more fun playing the new L5R game from Fantasy Flight Games than anytime I've been on a yacht. Admittedly only twice in my life but I feel like that was more than enough. The cost of paying no less than three base copies of that new game to run my beloved Phoenix and Crane clan decks was $120USD (I can't decide what clan of the two I love most, both are glorious).

No shit, I will be more crafty, driven, sneaky, and 'motivated' in a game of L5R or Netrunner than I have ever been engaged working in a corporate enterprise. More crafty, sneaky, driven and 'motivated' than any of these big salary earners in their careers that I've met. I get no money for playing L5R. I will get no real kudos. I will never get that 180 footer yacht. But I will try to fuck your shit up, manipulate, calculate, co-ordinate your defeat or die trying. And I will be happy in victory or defeat and I'll sincerely tell you it was a great game.

So no ... 'profit' doesn't motivate people. The only time it truly motivates people is if they're getting less than they deserve, or merely that they think they're getting less than they deserve. The problem is the reasons why one group of people desire greater proifits is precisely because the latter group of people are getting so much more off their exploited labour because capitalism.

To put it plainly and with an example.

Australian politicians. Easily amongst the highest paid bureaucrats in the world and with the best benefits packages any employee will ever see on this planet. And yet they're Australian politicians. Need I say more? Australian politicians are so pointless, such ugly people, such meandering arseholes, Australia has effectively had the equivalent of 4 impeachments of the highest office in the land.

For a decade, the 'Honourable' Prime Minister(s) of the Commonwealth of Australia, has found themselves disgraced and the public utterly polarised against their continued leadership, that none have survived as the leader of the party from one election to next federal election in a full term in office. All of them toppled and removed from the highest station of the federal government.

All of them.

And Malcolm Turnbull looks to be the next victim slowly crumbling down, bringing that to 5.

And you want to know what the most galling thing is? Australia has gone the longest time in all financial history of any state entity since antiquity without a recession. We didn't go into recession in 2008. We didn't go into recession during the dot com bubble burst. 25 years of being recession free ... and yet our politicians are getting backstabbed by their own parties that we've gone without a single Prime Minister serving a full term in office for ten years.

5 Prime Ministers over 11 years. Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull.

Japan's economy is in the toilet and it is five years shy of being written off as one of the worst economic meltdowns of a Western nation in peacetime ... and their politicians have a far lower revolving door count on leadership!

A bigger paycheque doesn't seem to be making for better, more 'motivated' politicians, does it? Well, save for backstabbing the fucking shit out of eachother to get a frontbencher job. In that fashion it seems to motivate them just fine.

"Which capitalism?" I think is a good place to start. There are many understandings, all which emphasize different components of the historical phenomenon of capitalism.

I think that an economic system which naturally develops into a situation where power and control of resources perpetuates power and control of resources is obviously one which is going to have problems, and the tendency to go in that unstable direction also points to an underlying injustice in the system as well. It is impractical in the long term (or to the extent that it is practical, inconsistent), and second of all unjust.

What about capitalism causes this? Individual private ownership of the means of production and the rights and responsibilities that entails. Individual private ownership of the means of production puts owners in a very nice situation: they have a number of choices about what to do with the means of production; they could sell it or rent it out, but usually someone will end up choosing to hire employees to use the means of production in return for a wage, while the owner of the means of production keeps the produce and then sells it for an amount of money which is limited in only one fashion: it must be on average over the long term higher than the cost to produce, or to put it another way "profitable". Great.

The rate of profit could be 3% or it could be 300%, just as long as it's positive. If it's not positive, the owner is well advised to change something about how he's selling or what he's paying his workers or else stop entirely and leave the means of production unused like a fallow field. He needn't concern himself with what that might mean for the workers, because of "individual responsibility", the very handy idea that whatever you are individually responsible for doing is the problem of whoever those decisions affect because those people are, by custom and tradition, individually responsible for their own circumstances. "Individual responsibility" is the other side of the private ownership coin: private privation.

In any case, the ones who control the relevant means of production tend to find it fairly simple to maintain profit enough to live comfortably entertained and so have ample opportunity to save, speculate, loan, usure, or even invest if they're feeling saucy. Whatever they do, it gives them more and more of what we might call "rent", because neither a savings account nor a junk bond nor a share of Wal-Mart require doing anything to make a person money. This is really important, because it means that the more money you have, the more opportunity you have to buy things which will make you money without requiring that you do anything other than buy them. And you can even hire someone else to buy them for you (or more likely several someones).

And where are all these profits coming from, ultimately? If commodity speculation, the people who produced those commodities. If a company, the workers who perform the labor. If a savings account, the workers who perform the labor at wherever the bank loaned its money (this chain can be a bit longer, but is utterly dependent on conditions that make the bank loaning money profitable enough for them to want to give you interest to be able to loan more money: ultimately, someone is producing something to make this happen, and it's not you, the saver-- if the savings account is enabling consumer debt, then the consumer's labor or the labor of his employees is what is making the loan profitable to the bank and causing them to pay a positive rate of interest). Meanwhile, laborers are spending oftentimes about as much over the life course as they make in wage + whatever they've been able to save for retirement.

Some people are able to save more than that, and there is then some inheritance. Savings grows in a compound manner: ownership of something bought for x dollars breaks even over some period of time, at which point x dollars can be (or already have been) used to buy something else which, along with the original asset, return you x dollars even faster and so on until you're passively making tens of thousands of dollars per minute simply for existing while others perform the tasks that actually create that value.

So, individual private ownership and control of productive assets seems to give rise to extreme concentration of wealth. Is that what we are meant to like about capitalism?

Naturally, individual private ownership and control of productive assets also seems to coincide with individual private ownership and control of personal property such as houses and yards and what we're to eat for lunch. And that seems good, if we're talking about what we're personally going to use. It's nice to be able to decide where I'm going to live and to control how I live there, what I eat and so on. It gets murkier when we're talking about the individual private ownership of a tenement building. Better than nothing, one supposes, but is the creation of rents accruing to a landlord actually how we want to handle housing?

Personal property has been a thing (though possibly so like water to fish as to pass without comment) for much longer than division of labor or markets, and those much longer than capitalism as a historical phenomenon. So personal property seems like something we should easily be able to preserve, whatever we decide, but also not something with which we should identify capitalism.

So we have individual private ownership of the means of production, wage labor, concentration of wealth, markets and personal property. Of these, personal property seems uncontroversially good. The Soviet Union had personal property: as I said, uncontroversial.

Are there any upsides to individual private ownership of the means of production? So far, I've highlighted negative, but in fact there is at least one: private ownership of the means of production encourages the production of better means of production. This is Locke's argument: an owner of a farm wants to improve the land to yield more produce. An owner of a business wants to improve the business to yield more profit often, though certainly not always, by making it more productive. More productivity is good. Virtually no one would disagree-- Locke agrees, Smith agrees, Mill agrees, Keynes agrees, Samuelson agrees, Friedman agrees, Marx agrees. Perhaps the only argument against productivity is that we should be measuring output against something other than labor, such as for example environmental sustainability... which may be a fair point. But even so, getting more produce out of the same labor? That's good for everyone. Or it could be, at the very least.

So that is something else to preserve: we now have personal property, inclination to increase productivity. What about markets?

Market competition leads to some good things and some bad. What is good about them: when I like a yellow car and you like a red car, and there's a yellow car and a red car on a lot and we both have adequate amounts of money to buy one of them, a market allows you to choose to get that yellow car and me to choose to get that red car and we both are more or less happy with that decision. And if we both like red cars, then you get the red car and I either don't care about color that much and wait for a red car or just take the yellow car. If I do wait for a red one, and enough others share a preference for red cars, then the sellers of red cars notice and start ordering more red cars to fill their inventories because those are in more demand. Inventory signals and price signals are good information for producers of goods and services, and market economies allow for both to have influence (and even to have influence on each other).

What's bad about markets? Markets provide people some incredibly good reasons to be dishonest with each other. I'll sell you a broken watch as if it's not a broken watch, for example: profit. That then prompts a need to spend effort coming up with and enforcing regulations. Markets can also be unstable and prone to crisis. They also are very bad at distributing goods and services to people who have no money. Markets are good when all involved are acting honestly and have enough money to satisfy their needs and desires, and they are bad when that is not the case. So, there are circumstances in which markets seem like a thing to preserve in the current system, and there are some things about markets which are good even if we don't end up preserving markets.

So those are some thoughts; I'll probably add more later.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

I'm willing to go without luxury, living in a studio apartment, and utterly fine not eating $50 cuisines each meal or riding the latest hotness. FFS, I eat uncooked rolled oats and some mixed in dried fruit all day most days. It's functional and I actually like it ... the texture is interesting and 'crunchy' is a perfectly valid 'taste' in my books.

All in on the third of these, it looks like: "Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion" (Jean Jacques Rousseau). Not a bad strategy.

Seanchaidh:

All in on the third of these, it looks like: "Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion" (Jean Jacques Rousseau). Not a bad strategy.

Yeah, well they were still treating syphilis with mercury when Rousseau was alive. One of my doctors says my colon looks fantastic, so I think the fibre helps with that. So that's two thirds of those things.

Plus I do genuinely like it, and no economic model exists where all people can have a live in cook.

So it's the difference between me experimenting with something in the oven or stovetop, and me eating dry oats mixed with fruit... I can safely mix those two latter things without burning it. Also, minor quibble. Only fools leave their money in a bank account. Well, you know ... one that requires a name.

Plus I like the comforting thought that if the megarich start eating everyone else, they can market me as premium grain-fed. None of that low quality corn-fed peasant stock. Perfectly marbled human flesh due to zero persistent hard labour but with a reduced sugar load oatmeal diet compared to other sedentary stock.

At least $50-60 for a premium cut I would imagine.

inu-kun:

I think the discontent is not from the capitalism failing but just how boring life as become, like Addendum_Forthcoming said (hopefully I'm not misunderstanding) life is boring as comfort is ludrisiously simple. The life of aristocracy centuries ago is worse than the life of a middle income family today.
And that boredom starts at thinking an ideal system is possible despite reality signalling otherwise. Also with the advent of the internet the propogation of ideas is far easier as well as alienation from society allowes self-radicalization and the internet (and media in general) favours extremists to convey the mood rather than the majority.

The irony being that the people who are suffering the most from our increased levels of emotional distress in society is not the well-off middle class, it is the lower end of the middle class and the lower class. The people who have stagnated the most in terms of wealth in the last 30 years. This has nothing to do with boredom or excessive luxury on a systemic scale, because the people with tons of money are comparatively well-off in terms of mental health. It has to do with a society that has been picking up the pace in redistributing wealth from the masses to the top 1% (or so) in the last 30 years and now has reached truly staggering rates of wealth accumulation among its' riches people.

The increasing unrest and emotional distress has to do with the realization that people who were promised that they'd get it better if they allowed the rich to get richer has not gotten the trickle down they were promised. Instead they are at a new low point in terms of job insecurity, welfare dismantling and socioeconomic divide. The last 30 years or so have unambiguously shown that if the 1% are allowed to do as they want, they will fuck over everyone under them for their own profit. By outsourcing jobs, by moving their money off-shore, by contributing money to lobby groups that work only to serve corporate interests and by doing everything they can to enrich themselves even more at the expense of everyone else.

Sure, we have more leisure opportunities today then ever before, but the whole "adversity breeds happiness"-dogma is fucking bullshit. People were not happier in the middle ages when the plague could wipe out your entire family any day or they had no guarantees they'd survive the coming winter. Back then people feared starving to death from a bad harvest, today people fear becoming impoverished because they are stuck in a capitalistic system that will happily take their money and settle them with debt for life, but which gives them almost no opportunities to actually profit from the system. If you will, people have become disillusioned by the greed driven capitalism of the last 30 years, because it has by and large failed to actually provide all the improvements it promised.

There's capitalism, the exchange of money for goods and services run by private enterprises, who whom competition for the former will improve the latter, and there's Capitalism where, well:

Mylan raised the price of the EpiPen to levels that literally killed people with allergies.

Mylan made billions. The company's CEO became a millionaire. And the stockholders were overjoyed.

Was that good for you?

http://www.stonekettle.com/2017/10/giving-us-business.html

There"s a problem that happens when the product stops being the product. None of the fuckers who caused the 2008 recession wre actually punished by it or lost out in anything but trifling ways. They didn't lose their only how, their retirement is in full swing, hell, most of them got paid more by being fired than I'll likely make during my entire life.

That capitalism causes people's rebellions. That capitalism is going to destroy everything. And I can't say that's a bad thing.

altnameJag:
That capitalism causes people's rebellions. That capitalism is going to destroy everything. And I can't say that's a bad thing.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer has been saying for a couple of years now that unless something is done about the rampant corruption brought about by laissez-faire capitalist policies, people like him will be the first against the wall.

BeetleManiac:

altnameJag:
That capitalism causes people's rebellions. That capitalism is going to destroy everything. And I can't say that's a bad thing.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer has been saying for a couple of years now that unless something is done about the rampant corruption brought about by laissez-faire capitalist policies, people like him will be the first against the wall.

No it won't. Clearly, like in any revolution, it's politicians and teachers. It's always the teachers... I know people's Phys. Ed. teachers are hard nuts, but consider this future revolutionaries. If they didn't teach you how to swim or to exercise properly, and other basic life skills involving moving your body, chances are your parents wouldn't bother either.

Satinavian:
I do think capitalism will fail in the next half-century.

But only because automatisation moves on. And the jobs replaced after lorry drivers will be those of the bankers. And that will start a big transformation of our economies. And then people will realize that you don't need wealthy individuals to make personal investment decisions as those are done by AIs anyway. Resulting in the realization that you don't need wealthy individuals anymore at all.

Having more people invest their money would perpetuate capitalism, not destroy it. The economy is all about keeping the money running, and wealthy individuals became wealthy by placing themselves where more money could pass through their hands (so they could keep more for themselves than anywhere else).

Agema:
Surveys often suggest that the population at large is far less keen on laissez-faire capitalism than the political, media and corporate elites, and yet the elites prove to be remarkably resistant to incorporating these beliefs.

That's because they know who will own the autonomous death bots, once automation has replaced the need for 90% of the populace.

Gethsemani:

The irony being that the people who are suffering the most from our increased levels of emotional distress in society is not the well-off middle class, it is the lower end of the middle class and the lower class. The people who have stagnated the most in terms of wealth in the last 30 years. This has nothing to do with boredom or excessive luxury on a systemic scale, because the people with tons of money are comparatively well-off in terms of mental health. It has to do with a society that has been picking up the pace in redistributing wealth from the masses to the top 1% (or so) in the last 30 years and now has reached truly staggering rates of wealth accumulation among its' riches people.

The increasing unrest and emotional distress has to do with the realization that people who were promised that they'd get it better if they allowed the rich to get richer has not gotten the trickle down they were promised. Instead they are at a new low point in terms of job insecurity, welfare dismantling and socioeconomic divide. The last 30 years or so have unambiguously shown that if the 1% are allowed to do as they want, they will fuck over everyone under them for their own profit. By outsourcing jobs, by moving their money off-shore, by contributing money to lobby groups that work only to serve corporate interests and by doing everything they can to enrich themselves even more at the expense of everyone else.

Actually it is the middle class who in the state of emotional distress. They are the ones currently LARPing as Nazis vs. Commies, they are the prime "victims" of living in a sheltered life that promised them they are the bestest thing in the world, they are the one going to universities and buying the socialist/"whatever you call modern day socialism" mantras and most important of all, they are the ones with over abundance of free time as well as reliable internet connection to write in forums and social media a good chunk of their day (edit: and free time to cosplay as 5$ ninjas) as well as the ones that media acknowledges their existence and humanity.

Sure, we have more leisure opportunities today then ever before, but the whole "adversity breeds happiness"-dogma is fucking bullshit. People were not happier in the middle ages when the plague could wipe out your entire family any day or they had no guarantees they'd survive the coming winter. Back then people feared starving to death from a bad harvest, today people fear becoming impoverished because they are stuck in a capitalistic system that will happily take their money and settle them with debt for life, but which gives them almost no opportunities to actually profit from the system. If you will, people have become disillusioned by the greed driven capitalism of the last 30 years, because it has by and large failed to actually provide all the improvements it promised.

This how you think the poor thinks and I have to wonder how many of them would agree with you, people in general dont go around thinking neurotic "what if" scenerios all day long (since who has time for that? the answer is well off people). As well as be happy with simple stuff like community and religion, things that unsurprisingly are demonized by the middle class.

inu-kun:

This how you think the poor thinks and I have to wonder how many of them would agree with you, people in general dont go around thinking neurotic "what if" scenerios all day long (since who has time for that? the answer is well off people). As well as be happy with simple stuff like community and religion, things that unsurprisingly are demonized by the middle class.

....What? *Rereads* What? The middle-class demonize community? Uh. No. No we fucking don't. And we don't demonize religion as a concept. Overbearing and corrupt religion? Gladly. But not religion as a whole. And I think people who have to live paycheck to paycheck would be damn paranoid about something going wrong when they can't afford it.

That and, you know, I'd like to know what you've got to back up your claim that everyone going out and doing all this stuff is middle class, because I don't think they carry signs proclaiming their economic status.

inu-kun:

Actually it is the middle class who in the state of emotional distress. They are the ones currently LARPing as Nazis vs. Commies, they are the prime "victims" of living in a sheltered life that promised them they are the bestest thing in the world, they are the one going to universities and buying the socialist/"whatever you call modern day socialism" mantras and most important of all, they are the ones with over abundance of free time as well as reliable internet connection to write in forums and social media a good chunk of their day (edit: and free time to cosplay as 5$ ninjas) as well as the ones that media acknowledges their existence and humanity.

What? Yeah, no.

There's more reporting of depressive and anxiety disorder rates amongst upper middle class and wealthy, however. As those are the only people that can afford decent therapists. The lower you are on the economic spectrum not only dictates your access to psychotherapy to adequately deal with depressive or anxiety disorders, but also the fact that the environmental causes of your anxiety and depressive disorders are far more concrete and unyielding. This is why suicide rates spike in occupations where people feel particularly disempowered. For example, banks foreclosing on the homes of soldiers while on active duty and yet still can't make ends meet.

Which is problematic if you live someplace like Australia, because good luck finding a house or even an apartment in the next two years that doesn't cost over a million dollars. So there is a metric fuckton of lower income people that are not only going to face a massive increase of unreliable work or underemployment, but also can't afford the rent to keep a roof over their head.

This how you think the poor thinks and I have to wonder how many of them would agree with you, people in general dont go around thinking neurotic "what if" scenerios all day long (since who has time for that? the answer is well off people). As well as be happy with simple stuff like community and religion, things that unsurprisingly are demonized by the middle class.

???

Can you try again, only this time be intelligible? The poor spend their entire day worrying whether they'll have to make a choice between rent, feeding themselves, or paying for the electricity bill. The poor have to be content living not only with flatmates but roommates. The poor have to worry about the bus fares going up by another 50c, because sure as shit they can't afford buying a car and other associated costs.

What fucking fairy tale world do you live in where the poor do not engage with highly complex systems of wealth degradation like transportation networks, inflation, debt, and health care management? What fairy tale world do you live in where you don't think the poor constantly worry over these things?

When I was doing social work for trans students during my first run at university, the problems kept flowing in... just trying to find extra work, or find affordable accommodation with non-arseholes, or locating doctors that won't treat them like garbage monopolized our efforts. And that was over 13 years ago.

The problems of the poor have merely skyrocketed since then, and the poor know it better than anyone else.

The poor can tell you better than anyone else what regressive taxes like the GST did to their means to afford groceries each week. The poor can tell you how many notches of their belt they'll need to tighten if train and bus fares go up by another dollar. The poor can tell you just how worried they are about their rent given land prices have doubled in 4 years...

Last I checked, religion is a poor substitute for antivirals to fight off a particularly deleterious infection.

And the thing is the poor and lower middle class have always lead and swallowed up counter-cultural movements. The Simpsons, for instance. Ironically airing on the Fox Network of all places, was to begin with an almoist unabashed mockery of all the bullshit stereotypical upper middle class American families you saw on tv. Instead you have a working class family that is dysfunctional, a tyrannical boss, domestic abuse, religiosity, underfunded public schools, schoolyard bullying, depression, unengaged and underpaid teachers crippled by bureaucracy-driven cynicism, blatant corruption within the medical community, alcoholism, mistreatment and social isolation of the elderly poor, and the crippling stagnation of the 'American Dream'. It took the ugly warts of the anxiety and social consciousness of the real world and satirized it.

And even a former President denounced the show as being 'unAmerican' ... even cited said 80s era sugary sweet and trite 'show families' that involved said upper middle class snobbery as if to perpetuate the mythology of the 'American Dream'... and guess who the Simpsons was mostly popular with and aimed at? Lower middle class and working poor American families, of whom the grand bulk could at least see themselves in part belonging to what was on display that broken system of affairs...

To pretend like the poor don't understand how they're being fucked over is to ignore countercultural movements itself.

Vivian puts it best...

The social commentary is the same. Hell even the counter-argumentation to the social commentary is the fucking same. The Young Ones is 40 years old... and the same macrological social problems, the same macrological problems of police violence and suppression (only far less mainstream news), the same chronic underfunding of educational and skills retraining services, the same corporate entities that bought government...

And yet for every economic crises, some illiterate commentator and politician saying: "Well we've tried a first, second, third, fourth and fifth way of capitalism... but I have good feelings abouth the 6th way of capitalism!"

You know what the average life expectancy of an economic boom is? 8-12 years in the West. Do you know who decides it's a boom time? Mostly property and share market investors. Do you know who pays the most during either a recessionary crisis or boom? The working poor.

And the longer a boom continues, the working poor suffer that as well. Australia. Land prices and rentals going through thr roof. Wage stagnation and underemployment forcing ever more people out onto the street. Yet this is a *booming* economy showing little to no slowing in the next few years... despite a ridiculous level of household debt now exceeding 120% of GDP.

I'm making fucking bank despite my approximate productivity being 0%-10%. I am a perpetual uni student and researcher, I contribute *something* tov the economy and my daily time usage. But certainly not as much as that 9-7 doctor, or that nurse pulling double shifts.

It's almost as if capitalism does the opposite of motivate people to be productive... it's almost as if the more productive you are in a capitalist system, the more you rely on your productivity to survive, the more people take the earnings of your productivity. It's almost as if the way I make money is precisely by investing in all the ways I, personally, do not have to be traditionally productive.

It's almost as if capitalism lives up to its fucking namesake.

You think the wealthy suffer that debt load? You think the poor can't read their bank statements?

And you want to know the most downright Kafkaesque thing? European and American economists both point to Australia as the 'exemplary capitalist marketplace' ... the miracle economy that "gets it right"....

What a fucking joke.

The inevitability is the working poor can't afford capitalism. Whether a boom goes on for too long, nor the *inevitability* of its recessionary crisis.

And hey, I look forward to having this discussion about the "7th Way of Capitalism" when the debt burdens of Australian households cannot go any further, the market stalls, and people lose even more hours of precious paid labour ... Capitalism has all the hallmarks of an organized religion. Based on faith, assumed virtues that are utterly lacking substance, and it demands your fucking attention whether you want it to or not... even has its own overdressed clergy singing the same hymnals time after time after time of every entirely manmade human tragedy that could have been avoided, but we are so quick to forget.

We can totally spend time ignoring the structurally inherent problems of capitalism. Ignoring that household debt has a ceiling. Ignoring that credit markets require depositors to lend while ignoring that the ever growing wealth of the rich do not simply leave their money in the hands of traditional lenders. If we just ignore hard enough the fundamental aspects of capitalism relies of exploitable labour to profit from. If we just ignore hard enough all the fundamentals of economic theory ... I'm sure we'll find that magical unicorn of a capitalist marketplace that can do no wrong. That exists without any crippling human tragedy of a recessionary crisis nor the incredibly pains of the poor struggling to afford the roof over their head when "times are good."

We're about 2-3 years from another global recessionary crisis. That's not me saying that, that's the IMF and the BIS saying that. Household debt alone in Western countries is at unmanageable levels, and the real problem with this isn't that this is going to be constrained to merely the U.S. and the EU zone ... this is suddenly in places like Australia, Hong Kong, Denmark, Sweden, etc...

https://www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2017e_ec.pdf

And congrats, we spent 9 years now pissing about without addressing the core fundamentals of the banking system and how government revenues should operate, or improving social spending projects to bolster individual household savings to weather the capacity of lifting interest rates. We didn't bother with social spending projects to help the average prson start actually building a wealth pool.

And poor people understand that just fine given that it hurts them the most... and they're not going to be very fucking happy... Poor people, just like with the GFC, will know exactly who to blame.

erttheking:

inu-kun:

This how you think the poor thinks and I have to wonder how many of them would agree with you, people in general dont go around thinking neurotic "what if" scenerios all day long (since who has time for that? the answer is well off people). As well as be happy with simple stuff like community and religion, things that unsurprisingly are demonized by the middle class.

....What? *Rereads* What? The middle-class demonize community? Uh. No. No we fucking don't. And we don't demonize religion as a concept. Overbearing and corrupt religion? Gladly. But not religion as a whole. And I think people who have to live paycheck to paycheck would be damn paranoid about something going wrong when they can't afford it.

That and, you know, I'd like to know what you've got to back up your claim that everyone going out and doing all this stuff is middle class, because I don't think they carry signs proclaiming their economic status.

Mainly observation, the people rioting in the street doesn't look much like 40+ year olds with children. You define pretty much every non-"exotic" religion as "Overbearing and corrupt" so yeah, you demonize religion.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

What? Yeah, no.

There's more reporting of depressive and anxiety disorder rates amongst upper middle class and wealthy, however. As those are the only people that can afford decent therapists. The lower you are on the economic spectrum not only dictates your access to psychotherapy to adequately deal with depressive or anxiety disorders, but also the fact that the environmental causes of your anxiety and depressive disorders are far more concrete and unyielding. This is why suicide rates spike in occupations where people feel particularly disempowered. For example, banks foreclosing on the homes of soldiers while on active duty and yet still can't make ends meet.

Which is problematic if you live someplace like Australia, because good luck finding a house or even an apartment in the next two years that doesn't cost over a million dollars. So there is a metric fuckton of lower income people that are not only going to face a massive increase of unreliable work or underemployment, but also can't afford the rent to keep a roof over their head.

But I'm not talking about mental health issues but people with loads of time on their hands and ideas how they should "fight the system".

holy snippity snip batman!

It would take me the better part of the afternoon to sift through that post, it seems you take the extreme of "absolutely completely improvished" and apply it to all people below middle income. And looking at the current political climate it seems the "low educated majority" (disregarding particular states) isn't very keen on the socialism train despite how people here think for them how it will better their lives.

inu-kun:

But I'm not talking about mental health issues but people with loads of time on their hands and ideas how they should "fight the system".

Which you'll notice from every revolution ever, happens when enough poor people have had enough. Plenty of lower middleclass, and working poor that know what 'needs to be done'.

After all, I know post-docs feeling like they're driven to living in their cars by unsustainably high costs of living and ridiculously low pay for researchers. After 11-13 years of study and research I can expect a job that will at best probably pay me in the CSIRO (assuming they're even hiring) less than my teaching job I did for only 4 years study and 1 year prac.

Go figure.

Plenty of very intelligent, lower middle class and working poor out there.

Scientists dress like dags for a reason. A career in academia is less about the salary, it's all about the company you get to keep.

It would take me the better part of the afternoon to sift through that post, it seems you take the extreme of "absolutely completely improvished" and apply it to all people below middle income. And looking at the current political climate it seems the "low educated majority" (disregarding particular states) isn't very keen on the socialism train despite how people here think for them how it will better their lives.

What? Yeah, I call them the working poor. Because that's the reality. These people are responsible for 60% of all of Australia's private debt through things like mortgages, or business loans, etc...

They literally pay all their money towards a negative equity investment. The poorer you are, the more indebted you are, the longer it takes suffering interest on larger sums of what remains of the principle. Unless you can pay off a substantial base load for a property, the interest and rates alone will kill your total profitability. Hence why I call them 'negative interest equities' ... And people have already bought into an inflated market that has already stretched the marketplace for private debt to breaking point.

To put it simply, 'working poor' is all the people who are just that. Even if they earn a decent wage and live well ... they rely on a solid income to meet their debts and have reduced capacity to build a wealth pool.

To put it another way, even if you are a doctor or a lawyer, when you're talking estimates of roughly 30-40% possible correction ... that's two-four years salary down the pisser of total land value depending on where you are in NSW. And it only gets worse the more money you have borrowed.

The other problem on top of that is land prices are dictated by lending institutions far more than real value. If banks can lend more money to people with lower credit scores to buy property, that creates demand and it also raises landprices ever more as more money is lent out. So you end up in a situation where banks are artificially inflating land prices by giving out loans to people that are going to be foreclosed on ... which means total capacity to lend is cut short, which means less credit to other potential buyers, which means land prices then plummet when there is a financial shock.

So even if you personally don't borrow money, or borrow much, you're still buying inflated land because the banks are still lending unscrupulous amounts of money.

If banks are asking 5% deposit, and you can reasonably expect the local garbo and school teacher couple can reasonably rake together 40k for a deposit for a decent local house in a rural town with a average sort of backyard, suddenly a whole lot of local properties are going to start fetching 800k+. Because it's not as if you're going to sell your property much less than what banks are going to be willing to lend to out to other lower middle class families.

The problem is, I don't really need to tell you how much money is spent only on interest if you have 760k principle, with a 3.75% FR 20 year loan, ontop of rates and stamp duty and all sorts of other expenses. And of course, if you ever get into a spot of trouble or the kids end up more expensive than you would have liked ... if you ever need to refinance, you end up suffering the death spiral of what is known as amortization hell. The process by which you get fucked by increasing loan repayment times met by increasing uncertainties of your capacity to do so.

If you refinance in your 50s, suddenly you're often paying something off into your 80s. Often blowing out your total expenses 100s of thousands out of whack for what is at best only a year of struggles.

And that longterm car/workplace/etc accident/injury can happen to anyone... You run a red light by accident, T another car or motorcyclist ... that's a year's salary or more down the drain.

It's amazing what that +0.4% and additional 10 years can do.

Not worth it in my opinion...

You start to see a problem when there is that 30-40% correction. You see how much of people's money that has been squandered. it's not just the land value correction they have lost, they have lost a metric fuckton more than that that they will never get back. And the thing is if someone gave me their 760K to work with, in five years I'll probably have doubled it on the share market with only modest market growth and reinvestment of the div yield.

The flipside of that is, of course, you can't make money on land if no one is buying and/or banks don't want to lend much. It's a bit of a Catch-22.

This creates reciprocal problems, however. As mortgage lending is favoured more than business lending. Business lending is seen as riskier. Whole reason they invented 'building socities' to begin with is to create ethical lending institutions that favoured regional commercial interests and home ownership of account members as opposed to large property developers and large corporate account holders.

Regardless, 'working poor' need to work, so whatever happens they need to hold long-term job security, with long-term desirability, they need to work in an industry that has high labour demands, and they need to be financially sound. A surgeon that suffers crippling nerve damage is no longer a surgeon. Or well they could be, but you get my point.

It's not just impoverished people that suffer inevitable busts.

It's just the poorer you are, the least options you have but to suffer busts.

inu-kun:

This how you think the poor thinks and I have to wonder how many of them would agree with you, people in general dont go around thinking neurotic "what if" scenerios all day long (since who has time for that? the answer is well off people). As well as be happy with simple stuff like community and religion, things that unsurprisingly are demonized by the middle class.

This is how I know the poor thinks, since I grew up in the lower working class with two single parents. I know it is how they think since I meet them every day at work, where they are making the decision about whether to remain on the ward receiving medical treatment or should discharge themselves because they can't bear a cost to the tune of 10 USD a day for medical care. The uniting factor among modern day working class and middle class is that they are both seeing the consequences of the last 30 years of "trickle down" economy.

The working poor and the unemployed poor bears the brunt of the massive wealth divide that our current capitalist system has created and perpetuated. It is they, like Addendum points out, that have to worry about not having enough money for rent and food or that a price hike of 50c for commuting will break their budget. It is they who fear the start of every school semester because they can't afford to buy their kids new clothes or even pencils (which is my lived experience). They live this experience of not having enough money to address even small unforeseen expenses, let alone saving enough money to allow themselves to climb the social ladder.

The middle class is increasingly seeing this too. In the US the middle class is actively shrinking, for the first time since the Great Depression, because the cycle of deregulation of industry since the 80's are seeing people put out of their jobs or taking lower pay and worse conditions because of the fear that not doing so will leave them without a job entirely. These are not some luxury problems that the middle class makes snarky tweets about, these are problems that face millions of middle class people in the West, which makes them, quite rightly, fear for their future because the capital won't take social responsibility and the state is increasingly unable to deal with the social effects of industry deregulation.

But hey, tell me again how I am wrong. It is pretty amusing to see you type out nonsense about things you don't understand.

inu-kun:
Mainly observation, the people rioting in the street doesn't look much like 40+ year olds with children.

1. You realize that class has nothing to do with age, right?
2. You also realize that parents tend to not put themselves in situations where they might jeopardize their children? Such as by getting arrested and convicted of violent rioting?
3. You also understand that the older people become the more risk adverse they become and that not fully developed brains (ie. prior to age 25 or so) are much less able to correctly assess risk and consequence, which leads to more risk taking behavior in younger people?
4. You do know that young age correlate with political radicalism and that older people are less likely to be physical activists, in favor of opinion building activism like spreading fliers and door to door conversations?

So damn, it is almost like what you said is a non-sequitur.

inu-kun:
But I'm not talking about mental health issues but people with loads of time on their hands and ideas how they should "fight the system".

Ironically ,neither was I. It was you who had to try and shift attention away from the increasing levels of emotional distress and mental illness in the poor. But why don't you tell me more about how my professional understanding of this is wrong?

inu-kun:

Mainly observation, the people rioting in the street doesn't look much like 40+ year olds with children. You define pretty much every non-"exotic" religion as "Overbearing and corrupt" so yeah, you demonize religion.

Inu-kun? There are 20 year olds who aren't in the middle class, and 40+ year olds with kids who are in the middle class. What you said doesn't have anything to do with class. At all. And oh, I just love it when people tell me what I think and do, even when it's totally divorced from what I actually say and do. Please tell me more about how I find Methodism to be overbearing and corrupt.

You can blame the shills at Third Way for this or Economic rationalism for Australians.(In reality, it's economic mental illness)

Ever since Reagan, and Marget Thatcher, people have sought to remove the Keynesian demand-side economic policy and regulations in favor of letting the corporation do whatever they want.

500 dollars for EpiPens, Sure why not Says Mylan.

Pocketing the 400 billion dollars meant for fiber optics in the US. Why not says internet companies.

Crash the economy for high risk, high reward subprime mortgages, no one goes to jail. In fact, we will even elect you as a Democrat. And if you're from Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers, you will get the power to be an elected official. As long as you support gay rights and all those fun costless liberal social policies.

In fact, I would say the Third Way think tank is the MOST harmful think-thank.

To borrow a phrase. With Republican think tanks, you get fronted stab, but you know it's coming, with left-wing think tanks such as the ACLU that advocates against getting rid of money as free speech which is the root of all the problems in US politics, you get back-stabbed which is harder to look out for.

Those lunatic hawkish right-wing neo-con think-tanks that advocate for war will be countered by peace-activists and a variety of X-Americans PACs. (Iranian Americans for example)

The Heritage Foundation can be countered by liberal think tanks, and progressive think tanks funded by Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook( even out progressives are funded by multi-nationals)

There is no counter currently for people ON THE FRIKING LEFT who advocate for charter-schools and cutting social security, Medicare, and Medicaid as well as less regulation of corporations as well as tax cuts for the rich. (Which the Third Way does)

And these are the organizations that were the most efficient when it comes to getting republican leaning fiscal goals passed.

Gergar12:
To borrow a phrase. With Republican think tanks, you get fronted stab, but you know it's coming, with left-wing think tanks such as the ACLU that advocates against getting rid of money as free speech which is the root of all the problems in US politics, you get back-stabbed which is harder to look out for.

Money as speech wouldn't be such a problem if we just took all their money. Pillage Wall Street. :)

inu-kun:

I think the discontent is not from the capitalism failing but just how boring life as become, like Addendum_Forthcoming said (hopefully I'm not misunderstanding) life is boring as comfort is ludrisiously simple.

Boring? For whom? The people struggling to pay their mortgage, worrying about whether they'll lose their job, etc.? Which nowadays includes much of the lower middle classes? I don't think you'll find it's generally the comfy upper middle class people who have the wealth and liberty to be bored that are the really unhappy ones.

The important thing you're missing out is that it turns out people are much more socialistic than the conversations their political and media elites are having. That's not just boredom, that's political beliefs.

The life of aristocracy centuries ago is worse than the life of a middle income family today.

People measure themselves against their peers in the here and now, not people 200 years ago. You try making someone live in a shed and dressing in sackcloth, and telling them they should be happy because they're better off than a caveman chieftain from 5000BC. Do you think they're going to say "Sounds fair enough, okay, show me to my heap of corrugated iron."

Agema:
People measure themselves against their peers in the here and now, not people 200 years ago. You try making someone live in a shed and dressing in sackcloth, and telling them they should be happy because they're better off than a caveman chieftain from 5000BC. Do you think they're going to say "Sounds fair enough, okay, show me to my heap of corrugated iron."

One also shouldn't forget that previous societies tended to explicitly encourage stealing from other societies, suggesting that they were not in fact content with their material circumstances. And indeed, the poor tend to need to work much harder for what living standard they have than a renaissance aristocrat whose lifestyle resembled more that of the capitalist today than the laborer. And that's not an insignificant point: a leisurely medieval opulence might have less of a life expectancy for various reasons, and is certainly not as technologically sophisticated and may be less nutritious. But it's somewhat difficult to see how it's actually less enjoyable than the wage slavery of today. Expectations should be rising, yes, but also "standard of living" is not just about consumption, it's also about leisure.

We shouldn't want to go back to the middle ages not because we're more satisfied in the present but because we're just one smart political shift about distribution of resources away from something truly great. Automation means we're on the cusp of everyone being able to live the aristocratic lifestyle, not just the rich, but we'll only see that with a radical reorganization of our economy.

Agema:
Claims of the "death of capitalism" are always over-rated.

I'm really not sure they are, what way is there to prop it up any longer? Some big state intervention operation to rewind things a bit and close the divide between rich and poor a little more to the point where nobody needs to riot? We already tried that, it failed. Keeping it by encouraging people to put trust in a free market/achievement oriented society hybrid? Literally to become impossible in the near future.

I mean sure, we can sit around scratching our heads for 8 years and then come up with some fuck huge bandaid (or maybe not, who knows) but why the fuck would we? Its a pointless exercise. If current claims about the death of capitalism are overrated we'd be better off throwing the bandaids in the bin and fetching a knife to make sure that death happens after all.

RiseOfTheWhiteWolf:

I'm really not sure they are, what way is there to prop it up any longer? Some big state intervention operation to rewind things a bit and close the divide between rich and poor a little more to the point where nobody needs to riot? We already tried that, it failed. Keeping it by encouraging people to put trust in a free market/achievement oriented society hybrid? Literally to become impossible in the near future.

Like I said, if we take a few core principles like private ownership and profit motive... after that the room for manoeuver is huge.

In the developed, we have public sectors as low as ~30% (South Korea) all the way to ~60% (Finland). We have countries with ~90% workforce unionisation down to around 15%. GINI coefficients from ~25 to over 40. These are broad statistics - in terms of individual policies be they welfare states, redistribution, central government strategies (by industry, generally, etc.) the list is almost endless.

It seems to me however we've got stuck in the same godawful cliches of "free trade, free markets, free movement, free capital, low tax, etc." We're being sold the idea of generalisations - blunt and clumsy "rules". But all countries are different and face different challenges, and instead of looking at the challenges we face as individual countries, everything is abstracted into these generalisations which may not be the answer any one country needs in the form it is sold.

Even in terms of things like private ownership, though, we can think about forms of more distributed ownership. Ownership currently is overwhelmingly the super-rich and institutional investors (although the latter includes us mere mortals in the form of pensions, for instance, although the pension management means in practice we cannot exercise meaningful control). A firm owned in substantial part by its workers is still privately owned - but in social terms it's a world away from the owner-worker dichotomy that characterises much of the current world.

I mean sure, we can sit around scratching our heads for 8 years and then come up with some fuck huge bandaid (or maybe not, who knows) but why the fuck would we? Its a pointless exercise. If current claims about the death of capitalism are overrated we'd be better off throwing the bandaids in the bin and fetching a knife to make sure that death happens after all.

I think capitalism has some pretty important babies to not throw out with the bathwater. I suppose we could talk social democracy, which (in a simplistic fashion) at one end attempts to recreate capitalistic processes as an adaptation of different underlying fundamentals.

But I think we're locked into a situation where we have a problem of inability to effectively communicate a debate - or at least, where it matters which is to say the political field - and overcoming the increasing capture of the means of communication by defenders of the status quo. And a lot of the alternative routes unfortunately tend to be buried under foreign-run disinformation campaigns, and quasi-conspiracy theory nuts with relatively trivial bees in their bonnet.

Agema:
Like I said, if we take a few core principles like private ownership and profit motive... after that the room for manoeuver is huge.

Workplace democracy can still have both of these, notably, although it's usually a different take on ownership based on working in the present rather than having invested money in the past. Or at least that's how I would design it. Not terribly interested in a guild apprenticeship style system.

Agema:

RiseOfTheWhiteWolf:

I'm really not sure they are, what way is there to prop it up any longer? Some big state intervention operation to rewind things a bit and close the divide between rich and poor a little more to the point where nobody needs to riot? We already tried that, it failed. Keeping it by encouraging people to put trust in a free market/achievement oriented society hybrid? Literally to become impossible in the near future.

Like I said, if we take a few core principles like private ownership and profit motive... after that the room for manoeuver is huge.

In the developed, we have public sectors as low as ~30% (South Korea) all the way to ~60% (Finland). We have countries with ~90% workforce unionisation down to around 15%. GINI coefficients from ~25 to over 40. These are broad statistics - in terms of individual policies be they welfare states, redistribution, central government strategies (by industry, generally, etc.) the list is almost endless.

It seems to me however we've got stuck in the same godawful cliches of "free trade, free markets, free movement, free capital, low tax, etc." We're being sold the idea of generalisations - blunt and clumsy "rules". But all countries are different and face different challenges, and instead of looking at the challenges we face as individual countries, everything is abstracted into these generalisations which may not be the answer any one country needs in the form it is sold.

Even in terms of things like private ownership, though, we can think about forms of more distributed ownership. Ownership currently is overwhelmingly the super-rich and institutional investors (although the latter includes us mere mortals in the form of pensions, for instance, although the pension management means in practice we cannot exercise meaningful control). A firm owned in substantial part by its workers is still privately owned - but in social terms it's a world away from the owner-worker dichotomy that characterises much of the current world.

Bit of an anti-globalist stance there mate. But yes, you're right about that obviously - trying to draw the same lines everywhere is pure ideology.

I very, very much disagree with the first sentence though. Private ownerships with generous or no limits and the profit motive are the causes of our current crises, everything just builds on those two principles. If you hit the reset button we'd be right back where we started before long. Its not like this is the first time capitalism has slid slowly into disaster, and its not like we haven't tried all sorts of things to make it work over a longer time period, all of which have failed. No, I think its time we said enough is enough and just dropped this system which unfortunately seems to be inherently flawed and well past its best-before date.

Agema:
I think capitalism has some pretty important babies to not throw out with the bathwater. I suppose we could talk social democracy, which (in a simplistic fashion) at one end attempts to recreate capitalistic processes as an adaptation of different underlying fundamentals.

But I think we're locked into a situation where we have a problem of inability to effectively communicate a debate - or at least, where it matters which is to say the political field - and overcoming the increasing capture of the means of communication by defenders of the status quo. And a lot of the alternative routes unfortunately tend to be buried under foreign-run disinformation campaigns, and quasi-conspiracy theory nuts with relatively trivial bees in their bonnet.

In a surprise to absolutely no one, I'm not a big fan of social democracy. Not a big enemy either but I don't see it as superior to other systems we've tried.

Seanchaidh:

We shouldn't want to go back to the middle ages not because we're more satisfied in the present but because we're just one smart political shift about distribution of resources away from something truly great. Automation means we're on the cusp of everyone being able to live the aristocratic lifestyle, not just the rich, but we'll only see that with a radical reorganization of our economy.

This is a dangerous assumption to make. Automation is about mass consumption at the lowest price point, not luxury goods.

Automation is just as likely to mean everyone not independently wealthy eating mass produced bug jelly out of the 'beneficience' of the wealthy to provide the unwashed masses with enough protein to survive. As opposed to pretending, somehow, that automation means you get a yacht.

If you want a guarantee that automation is to work for the masses' benefit, the masses need to control the resources of industry. Power, raw materials, infrastructure.

Automation is kind of a dead end, because it lacks the flexibility and spontaneous creativity of a human workforce, but also because automation is all about mass production of the same stuff to universal specifications. You can't entirely automate a process that is about limited market consumption. Because the incentive of automation is not about limited consumption, but large scale profits made on diminishing returns that, inevitably, another automated manufactory may fulfill.

Automation is more about turning out ridiculous volumes of cheap ramen, not about providing mentally interesting housing and working environments for the poor that naturally excites and improves human happiness and increases processing efficiency of complex human thought.

If you want the poor to be intellectually engaged and to thrive, you need environments that facilitate easy social interaction, but also a high degree of mental stimulation ... and automation is awful at providing that environment.

Automation provides zero incentive for the independently wealthy to provide that environment. If anything, automation is about the independently wealthy doing all that is possible to negate having to provide it.

After all, a world without automation requires schools, and universities, and complex ethical and social ideas of formation and collectivism to achieve increases to standards of living. A world of total automation is not having to have so many schools, not needing to publicly fund universities, not having humans making ethical (or unethical) choices, and about social isolation because all base needs are met. But that latter aspect does not magically mean human happiness.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
This is a dangerous assumption to make. Automation is about mass consumption at the lowest price point, not luxury goods.

The aristocratic lifestyle is more about leisure than it is luxury goods or pointlessly wasteful consumption. And anyway, I said we need a radical reorganization of our economy to accomplish it. At some point, we will have to seize the means of production, or if it can be done cheaply, simply replicate the means of production.

Seanchaidh:

The aristocratic lifestyle is more about leisure than it is luxury goods or pointlessly wasteful consumption.

'Leisure' and 'luxury' is more than consumption, but consumption of resources is important.

For instance, the wealthy ... push to shove ... probably wouldn't mind providing automated construction housing. But then again, housing does not a happy human make. What's fundamental is the mental stimulation they get from neighbours, public garden spaces, good local schools, friendly nearby police station.

It's less about how a human lives, and more about the social interaction and the forces of interpersonal relationships. Simply having 'free time' doesn't cut it if the environment for which you spend it in is some soulless monstrosity of concrete and steel that only has 'efficiency' in mind.

The one thing that royally fucking pisses me off in research is that it's far harder to get approval and funding for neuroscientific study. As opposed to how fundamentally easier it is to get funding for A.I. research and robotics.

It's fundamentally unfair, because in neuroscience we can deliver onto humanity the means to be entertained, to learn faster, to improve cognitive and physical capabilities, to see the world in new ways and to create universes of bridged thoughts that remove traditionally fundamental barriers to human interactions.

Where as those fuckwits in robotics and A.I. research monopolize funding, because that's what the wealthy want instead of genuine human evolution.

We should reverse that tide as quickly as possible. Make neuroscience the cornerstone of future human development, not merely look at processes to which automate and cheapen our livelihoods.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Seanchaidh:

The aristocratic lifestyle is more about leisure than it is luxury goods or pointlessly wasteful consumption.

'Leisure' is more than consumption.

For instance, the wealthy ... push to shove ... probably wouldn't mind providing automated construction housing. But then again, housing does not a happy human make. What's fundamental is the mental stimulation they get from neighbours, public garden spaces, good local schools, friendly nearby police station.

It's less about how a human lives, and more about the social interaction and the forces of interpersonal relationships. Simply having 'free time' doesn't cut it if the environment for which you spend it in is some soulless monstrosity of concrete and steel that only has 'efficiency' in mind.

Leisure is the absence of labor. It's not really consumption at all, except of time. Leisure is when people are actually free.

As for soulless monstrosities, this is why we radically reorganize the economy-- its power dynamics-- so that everyone gets a say in what it looks like, not a dictatorial capitalist.

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