Lack of empathy towards the Rich.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 NEXT
 

It's been a while since I last made a thread on the R&P forums. As a few people on here may know, I'm a self-proclaimed Social Democrat. I'm all for universal healthcare, high taxes on the rich, and government regulations of business.

Given that we've reached the end of Lent (Or as my church calls it, "spring cleaning for the soul") I've spent a while examining my attitude towards things, and trying to make myself a better person. Now, one thing that stuck out to me when I was trying to work on my personality was that I have a bit of a disturbing lack of empathy towards the rich. Given that I try to be understanding towards other people and lacking empathy is a small sign of sociopathy, this is something I definitely want to fix. I'm willing to admit I have my prejudices, but I like to think that regardless of someone's opinion I'd still feel sorry if something bad happened to them, I've noticed this doesn't extend to rich people for whatever reason. I always hear stories of how conservatives are talking about "protecting the job creators" or proclaiming the "heroics" of private businesses, but it just doesn't move me at all. If I hear about some millionaire losing a fortune, or some CEO getting terminally ill, I hardly feel even the slightest bit of sadness. The words "Free Market" or "Privatization" literally make me feel uncomfortable, and I genuinely feel a bit nervous around businessmen. Hell, when my family said I'd make a great corporate lawyer I honestly responded with "Yeah, but I don't want to sell my soul."

Here's the thing though: the rich aren't some vague anomalous group I've had no interaction with. My father's side of the family is very affluent (they live in a three story house with a basement that's bigger than my family's home, they own about twelve plasma screen TVs, a pool, and a basketball court) and while my immediate family may be middle to lower middle class, I've never felt any "envy" or "jealousy" towards my affluent cousins (they're family, and I still love 'em regardless of their "class"). I find that this lack of empathy towards the upper class isn't limited to just me however; with the rise of occupy wall street and the growing rift between the middle and upper class in America, it seems like the majority of people are slowly beginning to treat rich people like they're a separate species or even as if they're personal enemies.

Just looking at the R&P forums, you can see some small shades of a "class struggle" going on. There have been threads on researchers proving the rich to be "less moral" than everyone else, threads about lobbying, privatization, and a whole host of other things the "evil rich" are doing. The rich are becoming less of a diverse class of people with their own opinions and ideals and more just some vague anomalous group of modern aristocrats keeping the "filthy plebeians" down. When I hear of some rich person offering "solutions" to the economy or promoting less government control, I don't see them as even remotely trying to help issues, instead I see them as looters just trying to scrounge the last pieces of jewelry from a burning home.

What I'm wondering is why am I (and to extent, part of society) hating the rich so much? Does humanity have some inherent desire to simplify issues by finding scape goats? Are the rich genuinely to blame for this poor economy or are their issues beyond anyone's control at work? Was Marx right in that people tend to associate with their social class and come into conflicts with other classes? I genuinely want to see "the rich" more as human beings and less as "maniacal mustache twirling overlords", however with all the things I hear and see, it's more difficult than it seems.

I agree that we should feel empathy to all people but its easier to not care about the rich as they are afforded all the protections of wealth and social status to begin with. And there's definetely an element of jealousy there too.

Witty Name Here:
Was Marx right in that people tend to associate with their social class and come into conflicts with other classes?

Quick answer: yes.

For all that his major theory of a utopian society catastrophically turned out to be a complete bust in practice, Marx got a lot of things right along the way.

But class hate is very multidirectional. If I were to pick on a wealth class that receives far more societal hatred than any other, it'd be the unemployed.

The rich are those that not only profit from but drive the exploitation and suffering of fellow humans. What you're experiencing is nothing but a completely natural reaction to their immoral and awful behaviour.

If you saw a person forcing a family to live in squalor and misery you'd detest that person. Capitalists do that on a worldwide scale. It's not a lack of empathy for the rich, it's empathy for those who actually need it and are suffering at the hands of the rich.

Before I say anything here, I have to ask a rather silly looking question. In the thread title, why did you capitalize the word "rich"? No really, I'm not kidding, I am genuinely interested in what purpose that's serving.

Overhead:
The rich are those that not only profit from but drive the exploitation and suffering of fellow humans. What you're experiencing is nothing but a completely natural reaction to their immoral and awful behaviour.

If you saw a person forcing a family to live in squalor and misery you'd detest that person. Capitalists do that on a worldwide scale. It's not a lack of empathy for the rich, it's empathy for those who actually need it and are suffering at the hands of the rich.

My grandfather became a multimillionaire by building up a company that he literally started up in the back of his car at the age of 18. He worked tirelessly with his wife (My grandmother has told me that they both worked 60~ hour weeks) the money he made back into the company until the point where they could hire people to help, shifting his role to management. But he still kept putting all of the money back into the company, and only became wealthy late in his life at 48~ or so. Many of the people who worked for him are still close family friends, and regularly visit.

But all rich people are immoral and love watching others suffer, because that's the only way to get rich yeah?

Kopikatsu:

Overhead:
The rich are those that not only profit from but drive the exploitation and suffering of fellow humans. What you're experiencing is nothing but a completely natural reaction to their immoral and awful behaviour.

If you saw a person forcing a family to live in squalor and misery you'd detest that person. Capitalists do that on a worldwide scale. It's not a lack of empathy for the rich, it's empathy for those who actually need it and are suffering at the hands of the rich.

My grandfather became a multimillionaire by building up a company that he literally started up in the back of his car at the age of 18. He worked tirelessly with his wife (My grandmother has told me that they both worked 60~ hour weeks) the money he made back into the company until the point where they could hire people to help, shifting his role to management. But he still kept putting all of the money back into the company, and only became wealthy late in his life at 48~ or so. Many of the people who worked for him are still close family friends, and regularly visit.

But all rich people are immoral and love watching others suffer, because that's the only way to get rich yeah?

Your grandfather earned a modest living working ungodly hours out of the back of his car.

He became a multimillionaire by exploiting the labour of those that worked for him, taking their surplus labour so that he could profit out of their work. If he'd had some class solidarity he might have gone a different route, but sadly not.

You'll also note that I didn't state that Capitalists love to watch people suffer (although I know at least a few that do, calling it justice when people are punished for being poor).

An analogy I like to use is the pharmaceutical industry.

If we lived in a world of cartoonish villains, the head of an EVIL pharmaceutical company might watch gleefully as medicine failed to reach those in need and millions of people around the world died each year from preventable disease.

But we don't. We live in an infinitely faceted world where people have multiple different concerns and largely aren't gleeful over the pains of others. CEOs are more likely to be driven by corporate pressure to accrue profit, such that they will patent vital medicine and sell it at prices that are unaffordable to many people who need it.

The sad thing is that the end result is the same either way. The the socio-economic structure of society is what causes this rather than some desire to cause pain, but we can't strip people like your grandfather of all agency and merely cast them as puppets dancing to Capitalism's tune.

Great, your grandfather wasn't a megalomaniac who enjoyed watching people suffer. He still exploited others and caused harm to others to enrich himself.

Kopikatsu:

Overhead:
The rich are those that not only profit from but drive the exploitation and suffering of fellow humans. What you're experiencing is nothing but a completely natural reaction to their immoral and awful behaviour.

If you saw a person forcing a family to live in squalor and misery you'd detest that person. Capitalists do that on a worldwide scale. It's not a lack of empathy for the rich, it's empathy for those who actually need it and are suffering at the hands of the rich.

My grandfather became a multimillionaire by building up a company that he literally started up in the back of his car at the age of 18. He worked tirelessly with his wife (My grandmother has told me that they both worked 60~ hour weeks) the money he made back into the company until the point where they could hire people to help, shifting his role to management. But he still kept putting all of the money back into the company, and only became wealthy late in his life at 48~ or so. Many of the people who worked for him are still close family friends, and regularly visit.

But all rich people are immoral and love watching others suffer, because that's the only way to get rich yeah?

How many millions should you have before it becomes immoral to allow human beings to starve to death?

If your grandfather, with his multimillions of dollars, was stood next to a homeless person in the middle of winter, the homeless person asked your grandfather for $50 so he could buy a decent sleeping bag for the night, and your grandfather said no, that would generally be seen as fairly immoral, no? I mean, how much is $50 worth to your grandfather compared to what a decent sleeping bag is worth to a man spending a night outside in the middle of winter.

Now, obviously real life isn't as simple as that, but that is essentially what happens every second the number on your grandfathers bank account exceeds X million dollars.

Personally, i don't know exactly where i'd draw the line, but i think owning more than a certain number of million dollars is inherently immoral when there are still people in the world starving to death. Honestly i do believe you have to have a strong element of willful ignorance (or sheer enjoyment) about the amount of suffering in the world to possess such ridiculous amounts of money. Ignorance, willful or not, is no excuse.

It does have to be said all of us on these forums are guilty to some extent since we're all affluent enough to have computers and internet connections, but it's safe to say someone with multimillions is far more guilty than someone earning an average wage.

And there's no way on earth your grandfather worked harder than me or anyone else in my family. Worked smarter, perhaps, who knows, but certainly not harder, so don't bring that word into the discussion, how hard you work in a lifetime does not correlate particularly well at all to how much money you will earn in a lifetime.

Overhead:

Your grandfather earned a modest living working ungodly hours out of the back of his car.

He became a multimillionaire by exploiting the labour of those that worked for him, taking their surplus labour so that he could profit out of their work. If he'd had some class solidarity he might have gone a different route, but sadly not.

You don't know he exploited his labour. Unless you wrote an entire thesis about his grandfather's company there is no possible way for you to know how much value he created and thus how much he deserved.

And that is essentially the problem with the entire surplus value theory. Considering there are lot of people in management, who essentially don't produce things, it is impossible to quantify how much value they create. Well i guess it would be possible but it would require an insane amount of thorough studies to be able to make close estimations.

Vegosiux:
Before I say anything here, I have to ask a rather silly looking question. In the thread title, why did you capitalize the word "rich"? No really, I'm not kidding, I am genuinely interested in what purpose that's serving.

Eh, I have a weird grammatical style where I usually capitalize subjects of importance or the main topic. I'm not really sure why, it's just what I do.

generals3:

Overhead:

Your grandfather earned a modest living working ungodly hours out of the back of his car.

He became a multimillionaire by exploiting the labour of those that worked for him, taking their surplus labour so that he could profit out of their work. If he'd had some class solidarity he might have gone a different route, but sadly not.

You don't know he exploited his labour. Unless you wrote an entire thesis about his grandfather's company there is no possible way for you to know how much value he created and thus how much he deserved.

'Exploited' in this context isn't a loaded phrase, it's very clearly and consistently defined.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation#Marxist_theory

I'd be more than happy to eat my words if it turned out he didn't actually make any profit from the work of any of his employees, only taking money for the work that he personally contributed to the firm while allowing everyone to partake in collective ownership of the means of production.

I don't think I'll be eating my words, frankly.

And that is essentially the problem with the entire surplus value theory. Considering there are lot of people in management, who essentially don't produce things, it is impossible to quantify how much value they create. Well i guess it would be possible but it would require an insane amount of thorough studies to be able to make close estimations.

Surplus value isn't a tool to be used on the micro level where you'd then expect to be accurate to the exact penny, but there's no problem really using it with managers or other people with non-physical outcomes from their work. It relates to services as easily as it does goods and there are already plenty of methods to measure the effect of management, so I don't really get this point.

It's like saying that we wouldn't be able to measure the effectiveness of teachers as they don't produce physical goods either and then ignoring the massive amounts of tracking and measurement statistics we already have for them.

Well, the responses on here have been pretty... Extreme.

I don't think wealth inherently makes you immoral, just that a lot of people who have wealth tend to generally screw other people to help themselves. I don't think you should be considered "immoral" just because you have millions and others don't. You would be immoral if maybe you had millions and kept it solely to yourself and never donated to charities once. But if we follow the "you have millions and others suffer!" argument, then it can be twisted right back towards you; after all you have an internet connection while people in Africa don't, you have a home while some people don't, are those things making you immoral? Even if you were homeless and crippled in, say, Europe, you'd be a lot better off than someone who's homeless and crippled in the middle east. We should live for others, I agree, but I don't think we should demonize others for their mere existence. For their actions, maybe, but not for their existence.

I hate defending the rich, but these arguments of yours might be going a bit too far.

well, the rich can always afford the best therapy and/or vacations to help them get over the hate.

Overhead:

Great, your grandfather wasn't a megalomaniac who enjoyed watching people suffer. He still exploited others and caused harm to others to enrich himself.

The alternative being...? He not hire those people (Leaving them unemployed and unable to make a living if they couldn't find other employment)? And I don't see where you're pulling 'harm' from. Harming by not paying them every last penny he made? Apparently they weren't paid too poorly, because one of them, Robert Mendez, went on to become a Firefighter, then a Doctor, then a Captain in the Navy (Training to become a Doctor and Firefighter both cost a significant amount of money. Doctor much more so, but eh.)

And as was mentioned, you're wealthier than a vast majority of the world simply by virtue of living in a first world country and not being homeless. Do you donate everything but the bare minimum you need to live to the less fortunate? There are some people who are forced to live on less than 2 USD a day, do you? Because if not, it sounds pretty hypocritical. You could argue that he has more and thus less to lose, but you're still asking someone to give up money/their lifestyle for no reason other than you feel they have too much, while you yourself have more than most everyone else.

Edit: Another example. I make most of my money by investing the money that was left to me when my grandfather passed away. In essence, I use his money to help new businesses get on their feet, or to support existing businesses. Would you then say that I'm still harming people, despite filling the needs of the common man via filling a needed niche, albeit in a roundabout way? The money lets the companies hire new workers, fund R&D, make new stores...all of these things benefit and contribute to society. And the nature of stocks means that if the company isn't providing, then I don't actually make money at all. I only make money when a company is successful.

Witty Name Here:
Well, the responses on here have been pretty... Extreme.

I don't think wealth inherently makes you immoral, just that a lot of people who have wealth tend to generally screw other people to help themselves. I don't think you should be considered "immoral" just because you have millions and others don't. You would be immoral if maybe you had millions and kept it solely to yourself and never donated to charities once. But if we follow the "you have millions and others suffer!" argument, then it can be twisted right back towards you; after all you have an internet connection while people in Africa don't, you have a home while some people don't, are those things making you immoral? Even if you were homeless and crippled in, say, Europe, you'd be a lot better off than someone who's homeless and crippled in the middle east. We should live for others, I agree, but I don't think we should demonize others for their mere existence. For their actions, maybe, but not for their existence.

I hate defending the rich, but these arguments of yours might be going a bit too far.

If I have a home and an internet connection while perpetuating the system that allows me to be relatively wealthy while other live in crippling poverty then yes, it makes me immoral.

As for us having an internet connection while people in Africa don't, it doesn't automatically make you immoral, but it is sort of fucked up to expect someone who couldn't afford to go to school and who is being payed below living wage for their hard labour to then sympathise with our problems. If I contracted hepatitis (for example) and a kid in Namibia thought I deserved it, I'm not going to cry about how I never did anything against that kid personally, his plight isn't my fault and that he has no right to hate me for the situation we both find ourselves in. I'm going to acknowledge that he hates me because if he were the one who contracted hepatitis there would be fuck all he could do about it, whereas I get all the benefits of first world healthcare. That's empathy. Empathy is understanding that some people are too removed from your way of life to be able to sympathise with you. It's really arrogant and inappropriate to expect sympathy from those less fortunate than yourself.

I see both sides of the coin. I get why "The 99%" are angry. I do. However, allow me to play devil's advocate for a minute here. There is a pretty big movement by a not small amount of people in America to demonize these people and, while sometimes deserved, it often times crosses a line. It's to the point now that a good portion of of the country inherently sees rich people as something bad.

There was an article on Gawker, a news/blog site that leans heavily to the left, about a plane crash in the midwest not too far back. A private jet crashed into a couple of homes and a few people on the plane were killed. There were quite a few comments celebrating the fact that these people died. Why were they happy? Because they were "rich". You had actual people celebrating the death of another person for no other reason than the deceased person had the audacity to be financially successful.

I'm far from being rich. If I was though I think I may have a hard time feeling any compassion for those less fortunate. Look at how successful people are constantly portrayed in the media as not "paying their fair share" and various other tired cliches. Again, if that was me I can easily see myself developing a "let them eat cake" attitude towards people who aren't as wealthy as myself.

The thing is that there are a lot of rich people out there doing a lot of genuine good with their wealth. You don't see that being reported on though nearly as much as you see the opposite. Why? Because it doesn't fit with the narrative that all rich people are soul sucking abominations that maintain their wealth through the ritual sacrifice of low income newborns.

Rich people are just like any other class of people. Some are good some are bad. Some are kind and some aren't. They come in all kinds. They also became rich through a multitude of ways. Some inherited their wealth. Some built a company. Some cashed in on some talent like athletics of acting or music. Finally, just like it would be wrong to prejudge someone by the color of their skin it is equally wrong to prejudge someone strictly by their net worth. Personally, I would no sooner look down on someone for being rich than I would for being poor.

In the end there is certainly no small amount of class warfare going on in the US and neither side is any more free of blame than the other.

Witty Name Here:
Just looking at the R&P forums, you can see some small shades of a "class struggle" going on.

I think it's less of a "class struggle" and more of a situation of trying to hate your enemy as much as possible. I believe the discussions you are alluding to are the discussions in which fiscal liberals and conservatives crash. The way I see it, it boils down to this:

Well...first of all, BIG disclaimer: I am not saying any this is true of all liberals, conservatives, rich people, or poor people. This is simply a microcosm of the general feeling I'm getting from both sides. If my summary doesn't suit you, I apologize, but there really isn't any way to get this across without doing a bit of generalizing. And I apologize if a bit of my own bias slips in. So, on with the show:

Liberals "despise" the rich because they feel the goal of rich people is to, first and foremost, serve themselves. They don't mind charging them higher taxes because even if a person who makes $50 million per year is charged 90% income tax, they will still have enough left over to live a very comfortable life. Whereas a person who makes $20,000 per year and loses a mere 10% is on the verge of poverty. They believe the rich will take advantage of the poor (or anybody, really) when given the opportunity, and regulations need to be put into place to prevent them from abusing their money or power to do so. Conservative policies disgust them because they see it as protecting the already well-protected while leaving the vulnerable out in the cold. Yes they create jobs and run large businesses, however they don't do it because they want people to have jobs. They do it first and foremost to gain money, at least if you ask a liberal. To them, creating jobs is merely a side-effect of gaining money. It isn't something they value or strive for, it just happens, and since it loses them money they'd probably rather it not be the case if possible.

Conservatives "like" the rich because they feel the rich first and foremost serve the economy, by creating jobs and services. They do not make the distinction that job creation is merely a side-effect of their progress towards more money, and will sometimes frame the rich as benevolent in nature, since they are so kind as to allow people to do work for them and even pay them for their time. Conservatives are scared that if we bother the rich too much, they'll shack up and stop granting us jobs, so they want to tear down as many barriers as possible to let they and their companies grow. The logic is that the bigger and more successful the companies are, the more jobs they will create and the better off the economy will be. They value this over the possibility of the companies totally screwing over people or the economy through irresponsible and/or unethical practices[1] They believe that because of the benevolent and giving nature of the rich, the more you put into them the more people and the economy will get in turn as it trickles down. That is because the bailouts were all such a success--the more you put into the rich, the more they put into us.

Okay, sorry, got really partisan there at the end. But I think you get my point--the two sides have very specific views of how the rich operate, which causes them to personify them. Liberals recognize that the rich are prone to taking advantage of things, so they have a habit of personifying them as evil overlords undeserving of pity or empathy. Conservatives value the jobs the rich create more than they respect the rich of them taking advantage of things, so they have a habit of personifying the rich as selfless, benevolent job-fairies. So that is where your lack of empathy towards the rich comes from, the way I see it anyway.

[1] See ENRON, the housing bubble, smog in cities before the Clean Air Acts, the stock market crash, offshore bank accounts, and the industrial revolution before unions and safety regulations.

I understand the desire to be rich, I understand why capitalism is a good system to run in the real world, and I understand the arguement of you cant just tax the rich to make up for not taxing the poor.

My problem with the rich is when someone tells me that they are not rich and have the same problems I deal with. No mister senator, I dont think you know what its like to live ina house where the parent has 2 children to care for and makes 50K with over time before taxes when you say you know what its like to ONLY have 250K after taxes. No miss australian mine owner, i dont think you quite realize that 2 dollars an hour is NOT a liveable income in a developed world and its hard to get by on that kind of money. NO i dont wnat to hear I only have to work harder to be like you and anyone can do it. No not everyone can do it, and when you have wealthy parents (not always the case) it does put a considerable sum in your favor.

If youre going to rich thats fine, but dont tell me that you in your current wealthy state know what its like to live in the lower middle class. thats where I have a problem with you.

I don't know really. Hard to empathize with people with so much money and power.

Like when hearing that papa john owner refusing to charge an extra 3o cents to give their employees healthcare yet able to give away millions of pizza.
Or the Walton family who make their money off paying low wages to their workers

Or ceos who mess up and were still given millions.

So understand its very hard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Av_GHJIqWQ good documentary on the 1%

I won't say there's hatred for the rich so much as some of their attitude and actions.

You start with the basics: I'm rich and I work hard. You're not rich, therefore you must be lazy. Anyone with common snese and basic understanding of supply and demand knows not everyone can be a million dollar earning CEO and someone has to scrub the floor and make the products. But so many people get called lazy right out the gate because they don't have an executive job. You get told your pay is based on your contribution, and it's hard not to take offense at the idea that no matter how hard you work, you will still be worthless in your bosses' eyes while they can get millions even if they royally fuck up.

Then you get into the more asshole territory:

My costs go up I have to raise prices or cut jobs because I can never even conceive of taking home less pay the way other people do. the extra cost of 14 cents per pizza Obamacare will cost me is cripling.

I have no money to expand my business after I pay for my kids' private school and for the taxes on my 4 big houses.

I want everyone to have a job, but if you have [long list of problems] don't come looking for a job here.

I have more money than I see spending in my lifetime, but I still insist on earning and hoarding more out of a sense of pride.

I started form nothing comments from people with rich parents paying their education of giving them loans or supplying contacts.

Then for me it all sums up in that final insult: for all the indifference they show if not hostility, for all they really could do more but chose not to, they take the pity route can bitch about how no one loves them like they deserve. I'm a fucking multi millionaire that puts as many employees as I can out of work to make money for myself, and I expect to be loved by those people I layoff damnit. I can respect greedy assholes, but this disconnect is depressing. People that really don't get that if you show indifference or disdain to others, they show you the same in return. That if we seem to "hate the rich" it's because we no longer see them as our job creators, but destroyers. That we don't see ourselves making it ourselves because someone will always be here to deny us a path if they notice our efforts at all. That they've become people that won't care if we die on the street in the name of protecting money they certainly don't need, and may not even particularly want for any other reason than to "be rich." The response to this image problem: complain about it, Feel persecuted, basically act like an emo teenager.

Kopikatsu:

Overhead:
The rich are those that not only profit from but drive the exploitation and suffering of fellow humans. What you're experiencing is nothing but a completely natural reaction to their immoral and awful behaviour.

If you saw a person forcing a family to live in squalor and misery you'd detest that person. Capitalists do that on a worldwide scale. It's not a lack of empathy for the rich, it's empathy for those who actually need it and are suffering at the hands of the rich.

My grandfather became a multimillionaire by building up a company that he literally started up in the back of his car at the age of 18. He worked tirelessly with his wife (My grandmother has told me that they both worked 60~ hour weeks) the money he made back into the company until the point where they could hire people to help, shifting his role to management. But he still kept putting all of the money back into the company, and only became wealthy late in his life at 48~ or so. Many of the people who worked for him are still close family friends, and regularly visit.

But all rich people are immoral and love watching others suffer, because that's the only way to get rich yeah?

Your grandfather isn't the kind of rich I'd be talking about, and they aren't the kind Overhead is talking about either. He didn't employ(using that term loosely) thousands in Chinese sweatshops. He didn't request the CIA depose democratically elected leaders so they could continue to grow bananas in the corrupt paradise they'd built for themselves... Though it might be nice to hear what kind of business he was involved in to be sure.

Your grandfather was a successful small businessman. He wasn't a modern day slave owner advocating the plunder of the human and natural resources of the third world. There's a big difference between people like him and the sweatshop owners... maybe. I don't know what he was involved in. Even the poorest of the working poor in the U.S.

Alright, more to the point. It's harder to feel bad for someone who has problems but not the same kind of problems we have. Face it, a lot of the issues the normal person faces stem from money. Rich people do not have the same problems unless they start living outside even their means. They don't stay rich for very long that way. Normal people have all these financial problems on top of the usual personal problems like a sick kid, a divorce, a death in the family. Then there are problems that are unique to rich people, like their horse getting sick(sad, but you have a fucking horse, I can't relate). That's one I've had come up on my facebook feed.

Kopikatsu:

Overhead:

Great, your grandfather wasn't a megalomaniac who enjoyed watching people suffer. He still exploited others and caused harm to others to enrich himself.

The alternative being...? He not hire those people (Leaving them unemployed and unable to make a living if they couldn't find other employment)?

A worker's co-operative.

And I don't see where you're pulling 'harm' from.

When you take money from those who need it more than you, which is the basis of acruing a profit in Capitalist society, that's harming. That's of course not even getting into his supply chains for materials and the like and whether they ultimately relied on sweatshops and disenfranchised third world labour.

Harming by not paying them every last penny he made?

Harming them for not paying them every last penny they made.

Apparently they weren't paid too poorly, because one of them, Robert Mendez, went on to become a Firefighter, then a Doctor, then a Captain in the Navy (Training to become a Doctor and Firefighter both cost a significant amount of money. Doctor much more so, but eh.)

Useless anecdote because it has nothing to do with your grandfather's expoloitation and even ignoring that, it's only a single example without much there.

And as was mentioned, you're wealthier than a vast majority of the world simply by virtue of living in a first world country and not being homeless. Do you donate everything but the bare minimum you need to live to the less fortunate? There are some people who are forced to live on less than 2 USD a day, do you? Because if not, it sounds pretty hypocritical.

Hypocrisy would be if I fail to practice something that I preach. You are accusing me of being a hypocrite for not giving all my money to charity. My argument had nothing to do with your grandfather not giving all of his money to charity, but rather the fact that he personally exploited others to get money in the first place. I do not personally exploit others to get money, which is the bit you've got confused about and replaced with a totally different point that a different poster (Witty Name, I think) mention, so I'm not a hypocrite.

Edit: Another example. I make most of my money by investing the money that was left to me when my grandfather passed away. In essence, I use his money to help new businesses get on their feet, or to support existing businesses. Would you then say that I'm still harming people, despite filling the needs of the common man via filling a needed niche, albeit in a roundabout way? The money lets the companies hire new workers, fund R&D, make new stores...all of these things benefit and contribute to society. And the nature of stocks means that if the company isn't providing, then I don't actually make money at all. I only make money when a company is successful.

Yes, you're harming people in the worst capitalistic fashion. You're not even building a business up itself, merely using your capital to leverage even more capital from others due to your privileged position. The needs of others is a poor excuse, as you could put the money into something which directly benefited people (including putting the money to work for democratic forms of work like worker's co-operatives) and it would offer all those benefits (and more, seeing as they wouldn't have to give a return and give a share of their money to support you and your lifestyle) and work for a living instead.

Instead you live off the work done by others, using nothing more than an inheritance you were lucky enough to be given. Your actions benefit you. Oh, they might benefit others more than you burning the money in a pit or hiring a squad of goons to go round smashing worker's legs, but if benefit to workers was your main concern then you wouldn't be investing your money.

"Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him."

Overhead:
snip

You know, I generally don't agree with much that Kopikatsu says, but he appears to have the more reasonable position in this debate you're having. Your post puts a lot of weight on assumptions about him and his grandfather that you have no justification for making. You really are saying that they are immoral for making money, which is just as fallacious as someone saying a person is moral for making money.

The fact is that you don't know enough about the details here to make the kind of statements you're making. If your goal is to persuade anyone that capitalism is bad and Marxism is good, then you will probably not succeed by doing it this way. In fact, I think that if your posts have any effect at all, it will be to associate Marxism with blind fanaticism in the minds of some of the people who read them.

OT: Depends on the person. There are rich people who come by their wealth by inheriting it and then lecture those working multiple jobs just to afford food and housing on how they should stop being so lazy. These people are scum, and yes, I do believe they waived their right to empathy by having none themselves.

Then there are rich people who got rich because they had a talent, recognized it, cultivated it, and worked hard and made sacrifices to make a business or product out of it. Some of these people even become philanthropists afterwards. They did something few other people could have done, put the work in, and earned their independence. I'd happily buy such a person dinner before doing so for someone who's only motivated enough to complain about how hard life is.

In all income brackets, you can find people who are hardworking and worthwhile, and you can find people who are lazy and worthless. Work with or make friends with the former, avoid the latter, but don't judge them by their bank account.

Witty Name Here:

Vegosiux:
Before I say anything here, I have to ask a rather silly looking question. In the thread title, why did you capitalize the word "rich"? No really, I'm not kidding, I am genuinely interested in what purpose that's serving.

Eh, I have a weird grammatical style where I usually capitalize subjects of importance or the main topic. I'm not really sure why, it's just what I do.

Ah.

I think Lilani was quite on the mark there, in a rather exaggerated manner, in that case.

Kopikatsu:

Edit: Another example. I make most of my money by investing the money that was left to me when my grandfather passed away. In essence, I use his money to help new businesses get on their feet, or to support existing businesses. Would you then say that I'm still harming people, despite filling the needs of the common man via filling a needed niche, albeit in a roundabout way? The money lets the companies hire new workers, fund R&D, make new stores...all of these things benefit and contribute to society. And the nature of stocks means that if the company isn't providing, then I don't actually make money at all. I only make money when a company is successful.

Well, people who came to their wealth through a fluke will of course rationalize how they have "earned" it and how they "deserve" it anyway. Not everyone is fortunate enough to come into a significant amount of money through no effort on their own part, though, and it's hard to empathize with someone who just got lucky.

Because the rich are getting richer whilst the poor are getting poorer, and the gap between them is getting insanely wide right across the world. I have no problem with someone having more money than someone else as they've worked hard for it. But when the money is just inherited or when the wealth is in the billions & acquired through unethical means, I do not care for that person at all.

Witty Name Here:
Was Marx right in that people tend to associate with their social class and come into conflicts with other classes?

it wasn't just Marx.

here's Adam Smith (the "inventor" of Capitalism) :

To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers...The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

The Wealth Of Nations, Book I, Chapter XI, Conclusion of the Chapter, p.267, para. 10.

why ? because as everyone is acting out their own self interest the tangible effects of the self interest of "the rich" in action has a vastly disproportionate effect on wider society.

in investiture of Capitalism had a societal aim and it should never be forgotten.

it's aim was to raise "the middle" (of which Smith, who would have been seen as a member of the quite small "middle class" who largely existed to serve "the rich" in his own time, was a part ;) ) by getting "the rich" to put collectively put their money (capital) out into circulation within wider society in the pursuit of even more money (profit).

by doing so most of the money (and thus political power) ends up (at any given time) in the hands of that "middle" and you avoid what Smith and other thinkers like him saw as the inevitable outcome of the free reign of human greed which is basically a pseudo "feudal" state of affairs where you have a small number of "super rich" holding all the wealth (and political power) and everyone else lives a life dominated by their beck and call...

that is basically how Humanity lived for virtually all of human history prior to the institutional investiture of Capitalism as a system (which ofc was carried out by "the mercantile classes" ie "the middle" in their own interest ;) ).

it was never supposed to be about just making the rich richer.

that was just the carrot (that got them to put their wealth out into wider circulation) but it was not the aim.

some more Adam Smith for your perusal (and i urge anyone to go actually read his work) :

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.... But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render them necessary.

this last quote is a fucking doozy in light of recent historical events...

...when war comes [politicians] are both unwilling and unable to increase their [tax] revenue in proportion to the increase of their expense. They are unwilling for fear of offending the people, who, by so great and so sudden an increase of taxes, would soon be disgusted with the war [...] The facility of borrowing delivers them from the embarrassment [...] By means of borrowing they are enabled, with a very moderate increase of taxes, to raise, from year to year, money sufficient for carrying on the war, and by the practice of perpetually funding they are enabled, with the smallest possible increase of taxes [to pay the interest on the debt], to raise annually the largest possible sum of money [to fund the war]. ...The return of peace, indeed, seldom relieves them from the greater part of the taxes imposed during the war. These are mortgaged for the interest of the debt contracted in order to carry it on.

for 30 years we've been fed the lie that its about making the rich richer.
for 30 years living standards in and social mobility towards "the middle" have flatlined.

basically people have been sold a lie as to what Capitalism is actually for.

and if we don't stop it while we still can...well back to pseudo "feudalism" here we come tbth...

McMullen:

Then there are rich people who got rich because they had a talent, recognized it, cultivated it, and worked hard and made sacrifices to make a business or product out of it. Some of these people even become philanthropists afterwards. They did something few other people could have done, put the work in, and earned their independence. I'd happily buy such a person dinner before doing so for someone who's only motivated enough to complain about how hard life is.

Would Bill Gates be a billionaire had he been born in Krakow? Even with talent, hard work and sacrifice you still need the stars to align, that leg-up that very few get but makes most of the meaningful difference. And all this talk about "sacrifice" sometimes make it sound as if they gave away an arm and a leg >.> Say, how about those who "sacrificed" a career for something else?

Oh and by the way. Who's ever going to buy me dinner? Am I too poor to be entitled to free stuff?[1]

[1] PLEASE don't take this part too seriously

Esotera:
Because the rich are getting richer whilst the poor are getting poorer, and the gap between them is getting insanely wide right across the world. I have no problem with someone having more money than someone else as they've worked hard for it. But when the money is just inherited or when the wealth is in the billions & acquired through unethical means, I do not care for that person at all.

Food speculation is very popular in our time, I discussed this on another thread and some conservatives believed that it was completely alright to buy up food to make it more expensive by decreasing available supply and then sell it again for a higher price. Even if it meant that families would starve.. To me that's one of the most unethical proofs of the fault in Capitalism. But to others its a story about people who act smartly and earn money through clever speculation.

Grrr, angeeeer.

Needless to say I have zero empathy towards those kind of people. Food speculation, sweatshops etcetc, it has no place in our day and time. No, place. And aye, they might blame us for buying the cheapest available clothing. And they might use the excuse that if they don't, someone else will. But even if they 'can' use those excuses. It doesn't remove the fact that it's a paper-thin defense.

McMullen:

Overhead:
snip

You know, I generally don't agree with much that Kopikatsu says, but he appears to have the more reasonable position in this debate you're having. Your post puts a lot of weight on assumptions about him and his grandfather that you have no justification for making. You really are saying that they are immoral for making money, which is just as fallacious as someone saying a person is moral for making money.

The fact is that you don't know enough about the details here to make the kind of statements you're making. If your goal is to persuade anyone that capitalism is bad and Marxism is good, then you will probably not succeed by doing it this way. In fact, I think that if your posts have any effect at all, it will be to associate Marxism with blind fanaticism in the minds of some of the people who read them.

OT: Depends on the person. There are rich people who come by their wealth by inheriting it and then lecture those working multiple jobs just to afford food and housing on how they should stop being so lazy. These people are scum, and yes, I do believe they waived their right to empathy by having none themselves.

Then there are rich people who got rich because they had a talent, recognized it, cultivated it, and worked hard and made sacrifices to make a business or product out of it. Some of these people even become philanthropists afterwards. They did something few other people could have done, put the work in, and earned their independence. I'd happily buy such a person dinner before doing so for someone who's only motivated enough to complain about how hard life is.

In all income brackets, you can find people who are hardworking and worthwhile, and you can find people who are lazy and worthless. Work with or make friends with the former, avoid the latter, but don't judge them by their bank account.

According to Marxist economics, unless Kopikatsu's grandfather shared the company's profits based on work done with his workers, he's exploiting them. He's using their work to get rich and only giving them a token "wage". The very idea of a wage, according to Marx, was exploitative. And unless you want to assume that Kopikatsu's grandfather ran a Socialist business, it's safe to assume that he used a Capitalistic pay measure, based on position in the company and seniority rather than work done.

And Kopikatsu admitted that he lives off of the investment returns of an inheritance. He doesn't work, he lives off of the work of others. Again, by Marxist economics, this is the very essence of exploitation.

As a Capitalist myself, I disagree with Overhead, but I understand the logic behind the above.

McMullen:

You know, I generally don't agree with much that Kopikatsu says, but he appears to have the more reasonable position in this debate you're having. Your post puts a lot of weight on assumptions about him and his grandfather that you have no justification for making. You really are saying that they are immoral for making money, which is just as fallacious as someone saying a person is moral for making money.

No, he's not making assumptions, he's criticising them for exactly what they have done/are doing.

He's objecting to the entire system of capitalism. I would suggest he has no problem with people making millions entirely through their personal labour, without employing anyone else; or if the profits of the whole enterprise were shared throughout the entire workforce (like a co-operative). Thus he is not criticising people for making money so much as how they are making money.

But no-one, really, makes it "rich" through labour. Bill Gates is worth let's say $50 billion (plus whatever billions he's given away in charity), of which his salary probably contributed under 5%.

I am sure empathy for the wealthy would be better if the guy at the right end of this graph only decided to keep one or two stacks.. but as you can see they have more than everyone else combined:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMhvYeQPOcE

I mean one or two stacks should be more than enough for anyone... Hell from the looks of it that would be more than enough for everyone else combined!
Here is the graph for those who are unable to watch video:
image

Though if you can, it is a good watch when you have the time. Oh and the CEO making 380x the average workers salary, that is not the janitor.. that is everyone running the company. Yes the average worker would have to work a month to make what the CEO does in one hour.

There really is no excuse for 1% to have that much and the other end to have .. nothing.. or even the middle class to have so little. If they would solve this, I am sure the empathy for the wealthy would increase.

EDIT: This is where it gets really scary:
image
http://www.fultonschools.org/teacher/fernandezj/AP_government_images/001_demographics_economics_income_distribution.jpg
http://iamjanosik.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/2010-income-distribution2.jpg
If you combine the chart above with the wealth distribution, and the chart of the percentage of people being affected by income distribution, you then have the real picture of how the majority of the population really lives. Since the majority of the population is not so evenly divided as it is in the first picture and is skewed towards lower income, when you combine these two graphs it is quite disturbing. Since more people make less money, the reality is the majority of that first graph should be blue to represent the number of people this is affecting, rather than equally divided by income groups.

wintercoat:

McMullen:

Overhead:
snip

You know, I generally don't agree with much that Kopikatsu says, but he appears to have the more reasonable position in this debate you're having. Your post puts a lot of weight on assumptions about him and his grandfather that you have no justification for making. You really are saying that they are immoral for making money, which is just as fallacious as someone saying a person is moral for making money.

The fact is that you don't know enough about the details here to make the kind of statements you're making. If your goal is to persuade anyone that capitalism is bad and Marxism is good, then you will probably not succeed by doing it this way. In fact, I think that if your posts have any effect at all, it will be to associate Marxism with blind fanaticism in the minds of some of the people who read them.

OT: Depends on the person. There are rich people who come by their wealth by inheriting it and then lecture those working multiple jobs just to afford food and housing on how they should stop being so lazy. These people are scum, and yes, I do believe they waived their right to empathy by having none themselves.

Then there are rich people who got rich because they had a talent, recognized it, cultivated it, and worked hard and made sacrifices to make a business or product out of it. Some of these people even become philanthropists afterwards. They did something few other people could have done, put the work in, and earned their independence. I'd happily buy such a person dinner before doing so for someone who's only motivated enough to complain about how hard life is.

In all income brackets, you can find people who are hardworking and worthwhile, and you can find people who are lazy and worthless. Work with or make friends with the former, avoid the latter, but don't judge them by their bank account.

According to Marxist economics, unless Kopikatsu's grandfather shared the company's profits based on work done with his workers, he's exploiting them. He's using their work to get rich and only giving them a token "wage". The very idea of a wage, according to Marx, was exploitative. And unless you want to assume that Kopikatsu's grandfather ran a Socialist business, it's safe to assume that he used a Capitalistic pay measure, based on position in the company and seniority rather than work done.

And Kopikatsu admitted that he lives off of the investment returns of an inheritance. He doesn't work, he lives off of the work of others. Again, by Marxist economics, this is the very essence of exploitation.

As a Capitalist myself, I disagree with Overhead, but I understand the logic behind the above.

If you're trying to get rich through wages, you're doing it wrong. Part of the idea behind capitalism is that those who want to get ahead start their own business. Greater risk, greater reward. Running a business is hard; not everyone can do it. Nor can everyone have an idea for a new business and put it into action. Those that succeed create not only a product, but jobs as well, so it makes sense that the compensation should be much higher for a successful businessperson.

That's the idea anyway. In practice, there are all sorts of exploits and loopholes that mean many people who should be able to make it never get a chance, and some who've done nothing to earn their bonuses get paid more money for doing a poor job than I'll ever see for doing a good one.

It's true that I don't understand Marxism very well, but I would argue that those who claim that wages are exploitative don't understand capitalism all that well either.

Overhead:

And that is essentially the problem with the entire surplus value theory. Considering there are lot of people in management, who essentially don't produce things, it is impossible to quantify how much value they create. Well i guess it would be possible but it would require an insane amount of thorough studies to be able to make close estimations.

Surplus value isn't a tool to be used on the micro level where you'd then expect to be accurate to the exact penny, but there's no problem really using it with managers or other people with non-physical outcomes from their work. It relates to services as easily as it does goods and there are already plenty of methods to measure the effect of management, so I don't really get this point.

It's like saying that we wouldn't be able to measure the effectiveness of teachers as they don't produce physical goods either and then ignoring the massive amounts of tracking and measurement statistics we already have for them.

Well it's not even a matter of non-physical outcome. Service are essentially valued the same way as goods: by the price people are willing to pay for it. But as such one could claim that no one is stealing anything considering the market determined their worth. (but than again, the market is not perfect)

The thing however is that it is near impossible to quantify the value people create due to the complex interactions between all the entities working in a company. Whether it be the interactions between different tiers in a department or the interactions between different departments.

And determining the effectiveness of teachers is already one hell of a headache actually.

And here's my issue. You judged a person (thus on a micro level) by using a tool which according to you isn't to be used on a micro level. That seems rather contradictory.

McMullen:
You know, I generally don't agree with much that Kopikatsu says, but he appears to have the more reasonable position in this debate you're having. Your post puts a lot of weight on assumptions about him and his grandfather that you have no justification for making.

Which assumptions am I making? The only one I have made is that he acted like a typical capitalist and made a profit from his workers. I think that's a fair assumption to make.

You really are saying that they are immoral for making money, which is just as fallacious as someone saying a person is moral for making money.

No, i haven't said that at all. I said it's immoral to make money by economically exploiting others, using your control of the means of production to extract the surplus labour from their work simply because you're in a position to economically take advantage of them.

The fact is that you don't know enough about the details here to make the kind of statements you're making. If your goal is to persuade anyone that capitalism is bad and Marxism is good, then you will probably not succeed by doing it this way. In fact, I think that if your posts have any effect at all, it will be to associate Marxism with blind fanaticism in the minds of some of the people who read them.

You seem to have either misunderstood all of my points. This isn't some rabid piece of dogma, this is a core part of capital accumulation.

Overhead:

McMullen:
You know, I generally don't agree with much that Kopikatsu says, but he appears to have the more reasonable position in this debate you're having. Your post puts a lot of weight on assumptions about him and his grandfather that you have no justification for making.

Which assumptions am I making? The only one I have made is that he acted like a typical capitalist and made a profit from his workers. I think that's a fair assumption to make.

You really are saying that they are immoral for making money, which is just as fallacious as someone saying a person is moral for making money.

No, i haven't said that at all. I said it's immoral to make money by economically exploiting others, using your control of the means of production to extract the surplus labour from their work simply because you're in a position to economically take advantage of them.

The fact is that you don't know enough about the details here to make the kind of statements you're making. If your goal is to persuade anyone that capitalism is bad and Marxism is good, then you will probably not succeed by doing it this way. In fact, I think that if your posts have any effect at all, it will be to associate Marxism with blind fanaticism in the minds of some of the people who read them.

You seem to have either misunderstood all of my points. This isn't some rabid piece of dogma, this is a core part of capital accumulation.

The dogmatic part is that you take the moral absolute stance that making profit in any way is immoral.

That the mere act itself is an immoral act.

Frankly, go read your history books. People want what they don't have, and when they revolt to take it they inevitably end up creating a system that does just as bad or worse then the one they supposedly overthrew. Russia to the USSR, China to the Peoples Republic Of, the French Revolution. Any revolt you have where you have the poor overthrowing the rich for 'exploiting' them usually ends up with the 'moral poor' becoming just as bad as the ones they replaced.

Everyone is crap. Keep that in mind and it makes life much simpler. Even I am crap. I'm greedy and selfish, I want to spend my money on video games instead of curing AIDs. Even the most selfless man in the world probably has some selfish wants and needs.

People hate the rich because their rich, and their easy to hate. A rich person has something they don't, and they don't care how they got it, or what they do with it, just that they have it and I don't. And I can say that the rich have more influence, so I can blame them for more, like the economy. And in some cases, that dislike is reasonable. Sometimes someone is rich does fuck things up for someone who isn't.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked