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Sunday, February 12. 2017
From Arthur Brooks' Confessions of a Catholic convert to capitalism:
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the naive mistake authors like this make is to think of capitalism as some monolithic sea upon whose tides rise all boats, when in fact its a mass of individuals and entities all competing, and the best players are usually the largest, with names like Exxon/Mobil/Walmart who are responsible to other groups called shareholders with names like Pension Fund, Inc.
free market capitalism creates wealth biggly well, no doubt about it, bigglier than command-economies like communism (except during wartime) and if I were a shareholder or my retirement fund were invested in stocks, I can't think of any market reason I wouldn't want the company directors or fund managers to do everything possible to maximize profit to increase the value of those shares. and that includes destroying competition, selling blue skies and hiring third world forest peasants and paying them in handfuls of dirt. I read the Big Book of Real Capitalism and I didn't see any chapter on "fair" or "social justice" as an inherent aspect of the free market.
So I guess all those people who aren't in poverty anymore work for Exxon or sump'n?
Trade requires cooperation, and a free market encourages that more than it encourages competition. What in the world do you think a trade network is other than strings of cooperation and trust? That has been true millennia before any economist tried to describe anything called "capitalism." Also, market forces are not optional, but rather like gravity. If you spend enough energy you can defy the law for quite some time. But it doesn't go away because you decide to install some other system that isn't called the free market that you think sounds nicer.
if you really think a free market encourages a desirable form of cooperation more than competition, you don't grasp how free markets work.
A developed free market economy is not a collection of Ma and Paw's General Store on one of the Andy Griffith shows. The economy is dominated by multiple large and often interconnected players, and these are business entities answerable to boards of directors and shareholders, not Catholic consciences and their purpose is to generate wealth, not social justice to any degree, not even a minimal one. with me so far?
I didn't mention laws or regulations for a reason. capitalism isn't concerned with anything except in so far that it affects the bottom line, meaning there's no reason not to have 60 hour weeks, child labor, dangerous working conditions. if there aren't any of these restraints, there will be these abuses.
you and armchair economists might k00kgasm over the mysterious cooperation between a beet farmer in Mexico and the market in San Francisco, but capitalism doesn't care if the farmer pays slave wages and tribute to a narco gang or the shipper is a RICO enterprise. if I import beets, what part of capitalist theory compels me to give a shit about anything other than the price of beets?
further, cooperation in the real world usually tends to vertical or horizontal monopolies and while Standard Oil may cooperate with Royal Dutch Shell because it has to or is convenient, it will crush AVI Oil if it threatens Standard's market position. I am not going to make an issue out of this, because I'm an unabashed fan of imperialism, but consider the implications of the name, "Royal Dutch Shell".
There's nothing in any theory of capitalism that discourages this and everything that does.
if you want to see examples of capitalism in a more unregulated, nascent form, read Dickens, read up on the labor conditions that resulted in the revolutions of 1848, Haymarket Riot in 1884, the reason for the antitrust and blue sky laws in the 20th century.
workers organized into trade unions and labor regulations and laws are written because capitalism doesn't come with a button that slows it down on the grounds that child labor isn't a great idea, and 60 hours on an assembly line is too much. capitalist economies cycle through boom-and-bust and if you think this is normal, explain why regulation of financial markets and securities exchanges and restraint-of-trade and other antitrust laws are considered reforms.
American capitalism is in good shape and produces a fantastic amount of wealth but not because of its theory alone. you should thank the gods American unions have more in common with American businesses even though they are frequently bitter rivals. Now compare to their european counterparts who have been historic hotbeds of communism.
regulators and lawmakers walk a fine line here as well. they can carve down some of the excesses like monopolization, child labor, dangerous work conditions, or promote growth and development of industries through limitation of liability laws or financial incentives. the problem is, as always, more complex, and regulation can obvious hurt the economy overall.
the problem with a lot of conservative forums is a reflexive splitting. capitalism and the Founding Fathers are the holy writ, beyond criticism, and if you're not with us, you're against us.
tommy gun: The difference between left wing forums and right wing forums is not about some "holy writ", it's about the underlying worldview.
Progressives have a strictly pragmatic worldview. They believe that the government should create laws to regulate behavior and we should all fall in line. Their solutions are always changing because they're not founded on any solid principles.
Traditionalists believe that laws that have been handed down over the ages have proven value. The more you study Judeo Christian values the more they make sense. It's a whole cloth. There are no gaps. You have to have an understanding of history to know this though.
the difference is in point of view only with the conservative forums somewhat less wrong.
Traditionalists believe that laws that have been handed down over the ages have proven value.
explain the "proven value" of the constitutional protection of slavery, especially the protection of the slave trade until 1808 (Article I, Section 9) and the extension of slavery into new territories and states. and if you say it was a matter of expediency or necessity you just bought yourself a clue as to why black lives matter goes apeshit over The Man.
for your personal edification: the constitutional concept of the source of law being "natural rights" means, in context, that the source of liberty wasn't the king's writ, which could be withdrawn at the king's pleasure. this was a very radical idea at the time, and not something found in age old practice.
do you understand that "amendment" means "change", which implies that what went before needed changing? if you don't, then explain to me why constitutional protections for rights such as freedom of speech, expression, assembly, press, petition, gun ownership, due process, equal protection, etc., etc. as against the states as well as the fed is a bad idea. ProTip: this is what the 14th Amendment did. you know, something like four score and seven years too late.
Judeo Christian values
says the man who does not live by the Mosaic Law and who has never even read Leviticus, who doesn't know that Paul advised slaves to be true to their masters (Ephesians 6:5, Orange Catholic Bible) and that Jesus Himself said that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36, OC Bible). but gimme that ol' time religion regardless.
So if it's all about change, what is the change that you are looking for right now?
The good people of this country rose up against slavery a long, long time ago in a civil war, I don't see your point in continuing to bring up slavery.
The country is now in a sort of civil war, and the only thing I see people marching for on the other side is the right to kill their unborn children. (I'm a woman and a mother).
I am a father and active in pro-life activities in my diocese.
that said, Gone Windy would stroke out if he read your comment and remind you that the good people of the South rose up to defend slavery. and that the good people of the US decided that allowing slavery was the preferred choice of the country for some 70 years after the constitution was adopted.
I provided you with some counterexamples to your assertion that traditional values should prevail. were you going to defend or explain any of that?
In reply to your question, the examples that you cite as traditional values are not, so of course I won't defend them.
What a sorry record this kind of economic ignorance has in the real world. If you had your way, there'd be a lot more poverty and misery in the world, but oddly enough you'd probably feel all warm and self-congratulatory about it--and a lot of people wouldn't have jobs at all because the jobs they'd been offered weren't up to your standards.
all honest work is honorable, even yours. but for the life of me I don't understand why you think capitalism is some noble concept, faultless and unstained and mysterious, except that you're at the lemonade stand grade of economic sophistication and if you can't address points made, there's always ad hominems.
"for the life of me I don't understand why you think capitalism is some noble concept, faultless and unstained and mysterious"--maybe because I've never expressed a view even close to this? The most I'll claim is that free markets have done more to raise more people out of poverty than anything else human society has ever tried. It's not particularly mysterious, and I don't even know where "noble," "faultless," or "unstained" come from. Free markets are efficient ways of getting the input of a large, diverse group of strangers into a wide web of decisions about how to use scarce resources with alternative purposes. Its results will more or less accurately mirror what the mass of people want. There's no guarantee they'll want something noble, faultless, or unstained, just as there's no guarantee that a centralized bureaucrat will. On the whole, though, experience tells us clearly that more people will be able to afford shoes and food, apparently because a distributed "wisdom of crowds" process uses resources more efficiently than a central power can, at least on matters where is a broad consensus, like shoes and food. People are always hoping that the newest central power has the magic trick and will outperform the distributed decision-making of markets. I won't claim that's impossible, just that we've never seen it yet. More often we see something between needless dreary failure and outright famine, depending on how rigidly the central planners hold onto their power and personal quirks.
You have stated the usual cliches. Most of us here are fairly familiar with them. Reasserting them with greater emphasis does not make them true.
There is the basic fact, the premise of Brooks's comment, that wealth has increased enormously, not only for the wealthy few, but for the great mass of humanity - despite population growth. It has grown more quickly in those places which adjust themselves to free-market understandings of how the world works.
You have attempted to argue this by asserting that competition must always be cruel and heartless by definition, because that is the only understanding you can muster. You assert that capitalism can only mean unregulated, short-sighted competition for the last remaining biscuit - and arguing against that straw-man, dismissing the arguments of others without a moment's thought, you just naturally win every time! Remarkable!
I am extremely familiar with early 19thC history, BTW. I recall, for example, that people moved from the provinces to the very London that Dickens describes because they could make a better living there. No one wrote the stories of the rural poor, so we believe a partial picture. As you have.
You might start by not assuming you are smarter than everyone here. That hasn't worked out well for people.
you should quote instead of incorrectly stating my position.
capitalism does one thing well, create wealth. unchecked it creates wealth at unacceptable costs, which I don't think you or this forum acknowledges ("cliches", really?). e.g.:
child labor: unacceptable.
60 work weeks: unacceptable.
RICO entities: unacceptable.
antitrust activities in restraint of trade: unacceptable
payola, payoffs, bribes: unacceptable
unregulated securities trading: unacceptable
there's nothing in the theory of capitalism that prevents this and the maximization of wealth actually encourages it, and, given the nature of man, this is inevitable, as any good Catholic knows.
my point is there's nothing magically nice about capitalism, which is the dominant unthinking position here. capitalism works only for most when its balanced by the progressive forces that are inevitably despised on conservative forums: trade unions, labor laws, commercial regulation, securities regulation. psychologists call this "splitting" because demonizing is easier than honest analysis, but that's post for elsewhere.
since you've questioned my familiarity with the US economic system several times as a germane part of your argument, for the record, my law practice is almost all civil and criminal RICO defense so the understanding I can muster is based on long experience with how business practices work in the real world.
"You might start by not assuming you are smarter than everyone here. That hasn't worked out well for people."
It works well for me, because I engage in extended discussions on issues where I am smarter than everyone. that is, on MF. apparently you run a blog of your own, and I assume you'll ban anyone who disagrees with your opinion.
and while we're at it, since you're in an ad hom mode, let's consider the value of your opinions on your blog in terms of capitalism. there's no paywall, so you're basically giving your work away for free, an accurate assessment of its true value.
Slightly OT, but how many realize that the competition in the market place is an illusion. Imagine walking down the HBA aisle of your local store. You may see many "brands" but only a few manufacturers. This carries across a lot of consumer products.
And even further OT, though I know that consumer fraud is as old as human beings, today marketing is the differential, even though it is based on deception, hype, and omission.
Competition is supposed to be the driver of improvement, and no doubt it is, but maybe more so in the past. Have you noticed how hard it is to compare many products, apples to apples, without the assistance and input of supposedly unbiased third parties.
We all know that "fair" or "social justice" is simply code for "I'm too lazy to work so give me free stuff". Why would anyone even still be unashamedly asking for "fair" or "social justice"???
I don't understand the anger over what our markets and/or super markets sell. If you don't like it don't shop there. Simple as that. I like it and I suspect 95% of the people like it. There is this tired old socialism that seems to hate any success and any abundance.
any argument that starts "we all know" means you're too lazy to research the topic.
Huh! I thought it meant "we all know". Thank you for your interpretation. I've never heard that one before. But seriously, we all know when you simply take pot shots at someone on the internet you are a troll. You do know what a troll is I hope. We all know...
"Huh! I thought it meant "we all know"."