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The Welfare State, Globalization and the Rule of the Market

The welfare state regressing since 1974/76 or since 1982 must be reformed, democratized and decentralized.. What is central is refuting the neoliberal positional logic, reestablishing solidarity and reorganizing and extending the welfare state according to its key role for the development of a democratic and social civil society.. Poverty could be removed forever at least as a social mass phenomenon. This short article is translated from the German.
The Welfare State, Globalization and the Rule of the Market

By Christoph Butterwegge

[This short article is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.sozialextra.de/konfi/skizzen/butterwegge.htm.]

The welfare state has been in the crossfire of criticism for some time. The welfare state hinders the economic upswing and can no longer be financed at least in its previous form. This is heard everywhere. "Globalization" is advanced as a key term of the social-political discussion that for many participants implies a specific development of the welfare state. The social cannot play a great role any more when economies grow together, the world market dictates policies of nation states and societies only function as economic positions or locations.

Questions press which were not answered in the past by either governing politicians or their advisors: Does world market integration of more and more economies inevitably lead to the reduction of social accomplishments in welfare states like Germany or is it a product of political decisions and power hierarchies? In other words, do interested circles of the business camp misuse globalization as a battle cry for their frontal attack on the social security system? What political alternatives exist to break the downward spirals regarding taxable profits, social- and environmental standards and the general level of affluence (mass income)?

The welfare state systematically regressing since 1974/76 or since 1982 must be reformed, democratized and decentralized. Bureaucratization tendencies and encrustations can be burst open without attacking its substance. What is central is refuting the neoliberal positional logic, reestablishing solidarity and reorganizing and extending the welfare state according to its key role for the development of a democratic and social civil society. In the long term, the bond of the system of social security to paid work and the wage rate (declining since the 80s) must be loosened. If all residents in Germany would be held to the social security obligation and protected from elementary life risks by means of a need-oriented basic security, poverty would be removed forever at least as a social mass phenomenon. Germany would be free of inner disintegration through increasing income differentiations.

homepage: homepage: http://www.mbtranslations.com
address: address: mbatko@lycos.com


The wefare state is self extinguishing 14.Dec.2002 15:50

Bush Admirer

Some of the people are pulling the wagon and some of the people are riding in the wagon. The welfare state encourages fewer pullers and more riders. For instance, when they cut the workweek and extend vacations they're reducing puller headcount, and increasing rider headcount (in a macro sense).

When the number of riders outnumbers the number of pullers, and there is a one man-one vote democracy, then the riders will vote to keep riding. The pullers will tire of such an unfair system.

In our society, businesses and corporations do a great deal of the pulling. When they face economic hardship it is only natural for them to try and escape the welfare state. Hence BMW builds the Z4 in South Carolina and not in Germany.

Free trade is a great thing. But it is important for the participants to remain competitive. Excessive government regulation, excessive social welfare programs, and militant labor unions all work to the detriment of commerce, and encourage jobs to move elsewhere.

If the liberals in Germany are looking for someone to blame for the problems of globalization and declining government revenues, then the first place for them to look is in the mirror. They are the problem.

Re: Bush Admirer 14.Dec.2002 18:36

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

So you really believe that these large corporations have any interest in the well being of the people? You think that if we cater to them, life will improve for all? Has this EVER happened in history.

It is human nature that government needs to protect society against (the selfish impulses of greed and power.)

Bush and his scumbag comrades have a history of catering to businesses - justifying their position with 'trickle down' terminology - of course it's all bullshit.

In reality, the small numbers of people are hoisting the rich bastards onto their shoulders. Do we have any real qualifications for the degree to which a given person deserves to be wealthy above others - no, it's all about what you can get away with - this is not democracy, it is just a slight alteration of a kingdom, so that there are just more little kings.

I believe that people who support the capitalistic system are either ignorant, selfishly movtivated, or stupid - because it's proven itself time and time again to be all about given more power and money to the rich.

We cannot expect others to do what is best for the rest of society without punishing them if they don't - we can't just tell businesses to help clean up the environment if they feel like it - that's utterly rediculous, get real.

You're not being realistic Sean 14.Dec.2002 21:11

Bush Admirer

The real deal is that Capitalism is mankind's greatest invention. We owe everything to the great entrepreneurs like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, etc.

Bush is not a scumbag. He's an honest guy and a straight shooter. If you're interested in scumbags, take a look at his predecessor.

You're seriously confused Sean.

most corporations 14.Dec.2002 21:28

dj tubesteak

would go belly up in a matter of weeks if they stopped getting handouts from the U.S. government. A laissez-faire free market is entropic by nature and every time such a system has been tried, it's collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions. The only form of 'capitalism' that doesn't inherently detroy itself is one where the state steps in to regulate and tweak the markets to avoid the chaos of a completely free market. Any capitalist states who hadn't already shifted to a welfare model after 1929 and this is the only kind of 'capitalism' that still exists on a macro level anywhere. The only defense capital has against those 'militant labor unions' finally having enough of capitalism and directly forcibly redistributing wealth as they see fit is a welfare system that keeps enough order in the system to avoid it reaching that critical point. (When this is done gradually, it's generally dubbed 'socialism' and when it has to be done suddenly through circumventions of liberal structures like elected governments and bodies of citizen rights it's referred to as fascism)

Show me an example of a completely free market (no welfare either individual or corporate, no anti-union laws, etc) that hasn't disintegrated into chaos and ended up with somebody finally declaring it non-functional and taking direct control.

Without a welfare system the rich would strung up in the streets while the poor looted their houses.

Owe everything? 14.Dec.2002 22:47

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

Owe everything to great entrepreneurs? The part that these people had to play in the growth of our civilization is small - they are just people after all, just businessmen - not idols.

Yeah, it's great when people can come up with new ideas to better the world... like nuclear weapons, oil-based economies, corporate life, pollution, imperialism, lack of accountability, etc..

It is the businesses that are allowed (sponsored) by the government to do whatever they want to make money that is the cause of alot of America's problems. Yes, we are 'richer' but in a world where there is only a certain amount of resources - you don't have relatively rich without creating relatively poor - it's the yin/yang of the world economy.

I suppose that if you really get off on thinking about yourself as an American nationalist then you could feel good about what we're doing to the rest of the world. In reality, nationalism is about the same thing as racism.

That's what capitalism promotes, think of it as a big football game. We encourage people to pound the shit out of each other while the owners get rich, somehow the masses enjoy giving their money to the owners - because it makes them feel powerful, or apart of something great - but where does it really leave the common people? Out some cash, entertained, and momentarily unaware of the reality of the world at large.

An honest guy and a straight shooter.. yeah and Henry Kissinger is a great statesman..

Check this out;

 http://www.wage-slave.org/scorecard.html

Educating Sean 15.Dec.2002 07:22

Bush Admirer

>>>So you really believe that these large corporations have any interest in the well being of the people? You think that if we cater to them, life will improve for all? Has this EVER happened in history.

Corporations have created most of the jobs and all of the products we buy with money that those jobs generate. Capitalism is the drivewheel of our economy and mankind's single greatest invention.

>>>It is human nature that government needs to protect society against (the selfish impulses of greed and power.)

Yes indeed, and first on the list would be those greedy 'something for nothing' anarchists who want to confiscate personal property from successful people and redistribute to unsuccessful people.

>>Bush and his scumbag comrades have a history of catering to businesses - justifying their position with 'trickle down' terminology - of course it's all bullshit.

Government, including the current government, overtaxes and overregulates business. Our laws, passed when the Democrats controlled both houses of congress and the White House, give unfair advantages to organized labor (we should have federal right to work laws, and there should be no such thing as a closed shop). Governments create no jobs. Governments create no products. Trickle down is simple economic fact and not bullshit. Healthy business is the first order of business if we're to have a sound economy.

>>>In reality, the small numbers of people are hoisting the rich bastards onto their shoulders. Do we have any real qualifications for the degree to which a given person deserves to be wealthy above others - no, it's all about what you can get away with - this is not democracy, it is just a slight alteration of a kingdom, so that there are just more little kings.

Sean, did you ever hear the phrase, "American Dream?" The idea is that America offers the opportunity for anyone to rise from humble beginnings and achieve wealth through hard work, intellect, and ingenuity. The American Dream has been lived out by thousands of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island, founded small businesses, and grew them into larger businesses. Only a fool would want to immigrate to a place where the accumulation of wealth is discouraged and 'equivalent mediocrity' is everyone's lot in life.

>>>I believe that people who support the capitalistic system are either ignorant, selfishly movtivated, or stupid - because it's proven itself time and time again to be all about given more power and money to the rich.

It's all about the opportunity to become rich, or at least to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Wouldn't you like to have a new BMW? Wouldn't it be nice to take 3 or 4 week vacations and visit places like Italy, Egypt, New Zealand, etc.? How about a 3,500 sq. ft house on a lakefront with lovely views? How about a maid to clean the house once or twice a week? And how about being able to patronize really great restaurants, the best in town, once or twice a week? Do you think it's stupid to want those things? Do you think it's stupid for the government to allow people to aspire for and obtain those things?

>>> We cannot expect others to do what is best for the rest of society without punishing them if they don't - we can't just tell businesses to help clean up the environment if they feel like it - that's utterly rediculous, get real.

It's curious that the left chooses to demonize corporations and businesses. Why not work on real problems like crime? drugs? terrorism?

... 15.Dec.2002 11:47

this thing here

>It's all about the opportunity to become rich, or at least to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Wouldn't you like to have a new BMW? Wouldn't it be nice to take 3 or 4 week vacations and visit places like Italy, Egypt, New Zealand, etc.? How about a 3,500 sq. ft house on a lakefront with lovely views? How about a maid to clean the house once or twice a week? And how about being able to patronize really great restaurants, the best in town, once or twice a week? Do you think it's stupid to want those things? Do you think it's stupid for the government to allow people to aspire for and obtain those things?<

the problem, bush admirer, is that you and many like you seem to believe this is all life is about. making enough money to buy fancy things.

unfortunately, bush admirer, life is more complicated than that. the description you wrote above is not the highest pinnacle of achievement that america has to offer mankind.

and once again, this "consumerism is all that america is about" mindset comes from what i believe is a shallow and myopic view of what the "american dream" is all about.

you totally forget about freedom when you talk about the american dream. all you talk about is being able to go shopping to your hearts content. is that what america is all about? what about the fact that i'm free to say that capitalism, as much as it is a success, also has serious shortcomings? what about the fact i am free to say that, and not get arrested as an enemy of the state? i don't know about you, but that counts for a hell of a lot.

what about the freedom artists and musicians have to make a living expressing themselves? what about the freedom writers have? architects? lawyers? business people? all these people are free to do as they choose. does this freedom come capitalism? or does it come from living ina society that is free by law?

but you, bush admirer, give all the credit for this freedom to capitalism, and capitalism alone. you COMPLETLY FORGET to mention the bill of rights.

let me put it this way, bush admirer. the freedom to choose between a BMW 750 and a mercedes benz S-500 is not a freedom worth dying for, or worth praising to the high heavens. it's a cheap, second rate, phony freedom. it doesn't really mean anything. this freedom of choice IS THE EXTENT OF FREEDOM ALLOWED IN A CAPITALIST ECONOMY. however, the freedom to stand outside a BMW plant and protest for cleaner air or safer vehicles, IS A FREEDOM WORTH DYING FOR. this IS THE EPITOMY of freedom. this MEANS SOMETHING.

the soldiers who died on the beaches of normandy. did they die so folks back home could go shopping and have fat wallets? or did they die so folks back home could vote, and speak and think freely?

so, bush admirer, if all the freedom you think you need is making a lot of money and buying shit, then by all means, make as much money as you possibly can, do away with the bill of rights, and go spend your days at the mall shopping away, saying to yourself and the world the "the freedom to choose between nike and reebok, and dell and gateway, is the American Dream, and is the epitomy of freedom for all the world."

but don't make the rest of us here in the u.s., and around the world, follow in your footsteps. we have higher ideals about what freedom is and what it means. capitalism is not as important as the freedom to think, do, make and say as one wishes. and the stronger capitalism becomes, the more it threatens that freedom.

Re: Educating Sean 15.Dec.2002 14:40

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

"Corporations have created most of the jobs and all of the products we buy with money that those jobs generate. Capitalism is the drivewheel of our economy and mankind's single greatest invention."

Yes, invention and mass production do have benefits - but these can easily be separated from a political philosophy that encourages greed and a dog eat dog world.

"Yes indeed, and first on the list would be those greedy 'something for nothing' anarchists who want to confiscate personal property from successful people and redistribute to unsuccessful people."

Personally, I don't advocate stealing at this point, not that I'd care if rich, selfish bastards who have been stealing from the masses were robbed.

Is there any reason why one human being deserves to have so much more in life than another? Do basketball players really deserve those multimillion dollar salaries - while much harder working people get minimum wage? How are you qualifying what actions are deserving of wealth?

"Government, including the current government, overtaxes and overregulates business. Our laws, passed when the Democrats controlled both houses of congress and the White House, give unfair advantages to organized labor (we should have federal right to work laws, and there should be no such thing as a closed shop). Governments create no jobs. Governments create no products. Trickle down is simple economic fact and not bullshit. Healthy business is the first order of business if we're to have a sound economy."

A sound economy for the very rich is the end result. You cannot expect the rich to share their wealth based on the 'goodness of their hearts.'

It is possible to encourage business growth, creativity, and responsibility at the same time. Democrats and republicans really aren't that different - they're both groups of CAREER politicians - who by definition aren't required to represent the masses.

"Sean, did you ever hear the phrase, "American Dream?" The idea is that America offers the opportunity for anyone to rise from humble beginnings and achieve wealth through hard work, intellect, and ingenuity. The American Dream has been lived out by thousands of immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island, founded small businesses, and grew them into larger businesses. Only a fool would want to immigrate to a place where the accumulation of wealth is discouraged and 'equivalent mediocrity' is everyone's lot in life."

Then call me a fool, but I would love to life in a society where the extremes of wealth and poverty were eliminated. I would not remove all incentives for actions that actually benefit society, personally. Do you really think that everyone can have the American dream? - their simply isn't enough to go around with all those pigs hoarding resources and laying off thousands in an instant for tax relief.

"It's all about the opportunity to become rich, or at least to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Wouldn't you like to have a new BMW? Wouldn't it be nice to take 3 or 4 week vacations and visit places like Italy, Egypt, New Zealand, etc.? How about a 3,500 sq. ft house on a lakefront with lovely views? How about a maid to clean the house once or twice a week? And how about being able to patronize really great restaurants, the best in town, once or twice a week? Do you think it's stupid to want those things? Do you think it's stupid for the government to allow people to aspire for and obtain those things?"

Yes, I do think it is stupid to aspire for such things - and it will not bring true happiness. Scientific discovery and the methods to solve the world's problems would be a much more worthwhile persuit.

"It's curious that the left chooses to demonize corporations and businesses. Why not work on real problems like crime? drugs? terrorism?"

Corporate empires and governments that don't provide for all create these problems (crime, terrorism, unhealthy drug addictions.) Corporate irresponsibility IS a 'real' problem - have you heard of Enron, the companies burning the rain forests, Oil cartels that discourage new/cleaner technologies, Health insurance companies that discourage healthcare for all people? What do you think causes terrorism?

response 15.Dec.2002 17:56

dj tubesteak

Bush Admirer does have a point here- our economic system could not have developed the way it did without people like Henry Ford. Entrepreneurship is the means by which an industrial capitalist system is established.

The issue, however, is not whether we 'owe' something to past industrialists; (for information on another famous event in modern history that we owe partly to Henry Ford, see  http://www.reformed-theology.org/html/books/wall_street/chapter_06.htm) their place in our economic situation is obvious. The reason that welfare systems arise is that libertarian capitalism is and has been a complete failure.

Capitalism's essential flaw lies in its presumption that one can somehow create wealth, an idea that probably made sense to contemporaries of Adam Smith with their primitive religious worldview of God providing man with limitless bounty to use as he saw fit, but a notion that is shown to be ludicrous by our modern understanding of chemistry (law of conservation-it is impossible to create something from nothing). While it is possible to create money, (an imaginary commodity whose existence is defined purely by consensual willingness to believe it exists) the only way to do this is through manipulation of the finite amount of actual valuable material (wealth) from which we all commonly draw. Garrett Hardin's 'tragedy of the commons' illustrates the basic truth of the zero-sum nature of wealth, and historically capitalism has always failed when the illusory ability to create money ran up against its own fundmental disjoint with the finite amount of actual existing wealth (illustrated by the stock market crash of 1929 and the Enron collapse, for example).

Thus, the only way for a capitalist system to survive is to a. stabilize itself through a welfare system and b. constantly expand so as to maintain enough input of wealth into the system to sustain the consensual belief in the existence of the money created thereby. Bush Admirer is correct about corporations-to expect them to keep production in an area with high expectations of wages when areas with lower expectations are available contradicts common sense. The driving force behind the function of a capitalist system is the maximization of profit, profit being the difference between cost of production and price of sale. With the passage of time in a given area, those who provide labor (production) and those who provide revenue (market consumers) will each learn to maximize their own self-interests, which are fundamentally at odds with the maximization of capital self-interest given the limited amount of wealth within that area. As the ability of capital to create money from this finite pool of wealth reaches its limit and that wealth is depleted (the fate of the North American Bison illustrates this phenonemon rather well), the maximization of profit demands expansion outside of the local system to gain access to wealth not controlled by workers/consumers in other areas, i.e. those areas where workers and consumers are less organized in their own self-interest.

The problem here is the fundamental question of what we propose to do once our welfare/capitalist system has expanded globally to encompass the entire planet and we are all forced, as the cliched t-shirt slogan says, to "realize that we cannot eat money," and it becomes a question of who will be able to control a share of whatever resources are left.

Don't forget.. 15.Dec.2002 19:50

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

Our economy couldn't have developed the way it has without cheap labor provided by third-world and developing nations.

Not to mention space for us to dump our trash.

Invention and improvement of manufacturing processes are not dependent on capitalistic incentive or entrepreneurship.

Where does wealth come from? We don't just create it out of thin air, we have set amounts of resources based on our current technology, capitalism doesn't increase resources - it just shifts power and money to certain groups of people.

The key to enhancing life for all of earth is technology and socialistic control of government and everything that government controls.

Instead of using money and power to bribe people into 'helping' society, give honors and social recognition. Isn't this what people are really seeking when they aspire for riches (beyond the normal needs of human beings.)

Creating Wealth 15.Dec.2002 21:28

Bush Admirer

Sean and Tubesteak

It seems that neither one of you understands the simple mechanism of wealth creation in a Capitalistic society.

Suppose there were to be an entrepreneur in San Diego named MacDonald. Further suppose that he has a great idea for a double decker hamburger with sesame seed bun that he's decided to call a Big Mac. And further suppose that he thinks golden arches are really cool.

He scrapes together enough money to open up a hamburger joint called MacDonalds. It's a struggle but people like his hamburgers and his business flourishes.

He expands and opens a second hamburger joint, and then a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc. As the business expands he employs more and more people. Pretty soon he's a major employer.

His gross sales volume rises rapidly as do his profits. He makes only a few cents profit from each transaction, but he has a high volume business that is rapidly growing.

Eventually the profits add up to a sufficient amount to call him wealthy.

That's the simple process of wealth creation under capitalism. It's the entrepreneur who is the drivewheel. The same success that creates wealth also creates jobs and prosperity.

You don't get this from government.

Unfortunately, i do understand. 15.Dec.2002 23:30

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

Even if i didn't understand, what's your point?

I'm talking about implementing a different kind of system (not capitalistic.)

But if we are going to be stuck in a capitalistic democracy - then I would want more socialistic controls, if it's harder on those poor businessmen not to do the right thing - tuff shit. If they are so creative and worthy of veneration, surely that can come up with ways to make money while making the world a better place at the same time.

What you are basically proposing is that we put our future in the hands of greedy, blood sucking bastards that aren't required to be accountable on a global scale - and how is this supposed to be good?

For a well-faring state of existance for all 16.Dec.2002 00:55

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

It's pretty obvious that an individual can create wealth for themselves by becoming an entrepreneur - and yes, they can provide jobs when they are rich and have a big business.

But at what cost?

How do we ensure that his business isn't bad for the world?

Should we just trust him to do what is right? Expect consumers to only buy his products if it benefits the world?

Of course not, that's why we need to regulate businesses.

Apparently, in the US, we need much more regulation (if we are still talking about our so called "democracy.")

To goal of government should not be to encourage individuals to become relatively wealthy, it should be to ensure the well being of the many.

And we don't need rich businessmen to create jobs.

You say that government doesn't create jobs and provide wealth?

What about all those government jobs we have now that the Republikans want to do away with?

Image all the jobs that would be created by UNIVERSAL healthcare, education, housing, etc...

We need a world government, not a sporting league of nations that compete selfishly against each other.

And we need to let the people of the world create this government, not US businesses. Nationalism is akin to racism.

no, you missed my point 16.Dec.2002 03:10

dj tubesteak

The creation of wealth is a notion that violates the basic laws of natural science--your entrepreneur's burgers have to be made out of cows who have to be raised and fed grain which has be grown out of soil, then purchased by people whose money is obtained through the exchange of their labor. You're not creating wealth, you're redistributing it. It may be possible to alter something not otherwise valuable into something more valuable, (i.e. grass eaten by cattle who become hamburgers) but this process is still one of alteration of some portion of a finite amount of alterable and distributable material, and the same is essentially true of time (in the sense of man/hours). The indirect exchange of time (labor) for material or vice versa through a fictive commodity like money should not be misconstrued as the creation of something valuable (wealth) where previously none existed. One can accumulate wealth; one cannot create it. Thus the accumulation of wealth in one party's control through the manipulation of the monetary system necessarily implies a dearth of that wealth available for exploitation by another. Hardin illustrated this through the metaphor of a village of herdsmen who have communal ownership of a field upon which to graze their cattle. By adding animals to his own herd, each herdsman increases the percentage of the field's ecological carrying capacity which is able to turn into personal profit. As naturally in such a situation each herdsman stands to gain profit from increasing his herd and gains nothing from forfeiting a share of resources to others b declining to do so, each herdsman will begin adding animals as quickly as he is able. This allows each participant to increase his own profit, but not does not represent the creation of wealth, as ultimately each herdsman's profit depends upon the ability of the field to sustain animals, the number of which is necessarily finite. Once the maximum quantity of animals (profit) sustainable is reached, the ability of any other herdsmen to increase their herds is restricted. i.e., the available wealth in any given economy is a zero-sum game. The participation of any additional individuals requires the redistribution of some of the basic commodity necessary for profit.

In modern societies, the ability to acquire either material objects, the benefits of other individuals' time (labor), or some combination thereof is assigned a base value through the creation of a fictional commodity to serve as a unit of exchange. (Creation of this commodity occurs whenever bills are printed or a credit purchase is made, which effectively represents a conversion of future labor into present wealth) It is a basic assumption here that any given individual needs a certain minimal amount of this commodity to survive and function (acquisition of at least material and, as a specialization increases, increasingly the products of others' labor). As long as they can obtain this quantity or more through the operation of a given system, they will be integrated into that system. However, it is in the nature of a capitalist system for each participant to minimize the quantity exchanged and maximize the quantity received. Since maximizing share of real wealth (as opposed to money) involves minimizing number of participants, the de-integration of large numbers of individuals will occur under an unrestricted capitalist system. However, the human survival instinct being quite strong, these de-integrated individuals will do whatever is necessary to gain access to at least the minimal amount of wealth-share necessary for socially- and self-defined function, including the direct employment of time/effort (labor, essentially) to redistribute an amount of wealth-share to themselves from such sources as are available (this process is also known as theft). In the case of more complex systems, these de-integrated individuals may even integrate themselves into smaller subsystems peripheral to a larger one which regulate this redistribution (organized crime, for example). What your model fails to take into account is the considerable 'opportunity cost' inherent in an individual's refusal to simply forcibly take from others what ethics/law would dictate one not.

The function of a welfare system is to keep enough individuals integrated in a given 'capitalist' system to avoid the level of extra-systemic redistribution of wealth from reaching a critical point where it causes the larger system to fail. The forcible repression of this extrasystemic activity (police, prisons) is the alternative, but is of nature less cost-effective, causing its employment to correspond directly to the level of threat posed to the system by extrasystemic forces to tend to correspond inversely to the effectiveness of the system in avoiding de-integration. Thus, when the economies of the western world experienced a sudden drop in their capacity for integration between the 1920's and 1930's, those societies reacted with some combination of artificial integration (welfare) and repression (expansion of police powers). To a certain extent it can be said that the United States emphasized the former and Germany and Italy the latter, but both were responses to the perceived threat of complete systemic failure (represented by Bolshevism).

What I was further getting at was the imperfection of even the most well-designed growth-based system that necessitates its constant expansion, if need be through the externalization of its extrasystemic forces (violence being essentially a forcible intercession to a given degree into an economic system of which one is not otherwise a part), to expand its scope to include previously unavailable resources. 'Globalization', or the separation of production from the localities of consumption, is essentially an attempt to do just this, but the problems inherent therein derive from a. its profound de-integrating effect on the population of the original locality of production (as happened with the loss of American automotive manufacturing jobs after passage of NAFTA) and b. the ultimately limited pool of resources (in this case, cheap labor). According to your model, integrating these low-paid foreign workers will elevate their economic standing, but implicit in this is, as noted before, a net loss in global wealth-share for others and thus eventually further expansion in order to maintain maximization of profit through cheapest possible labor. The theoretical possibility exist here of actually continuing this process until no base wealth remains, at which the point the system will fail, but I think it more pressing that long before this happens the massive level of artificial integration and forcible repression necessary to keep such an extensive system functionally stable will require a complete abrogation of such supraeconomic commodities as personal and political autonomy in the service of maximum socioeconomic efficiency. (As I think happened on a much smaller scale in countries like Italy and Germany due to their lower level of initial baseline stability; our system is not immune to these tendencies so much as capable of delaying their coming to a head until when the wave finally breaks it will occur on a much more drastic, complete and global scale.)


We can't all be rich, by definition, so I'm happy to preserve and advance my personal and political autonomy at the expense of some luxuries. We 'something-for-nothing anarchists' are trying to point out to you that freedom demands responsibility. By insisting upon the ability to accumulate as much wealth to your own use as possible, you're imperiling the social and political freedoms that depend on your exercising economic self-restraint. It's about 'something for nothing', it's about being willing to part with enough 'something' to keep others from reaching the point where they'll simply take that 'something' from you, along with a whole lot more.


Please please please argue with me on this. I'm always disappointed when you 'everyone is trying to mooch off me' whiners walk away from these arguments.


P.S. if you're such a free-marketeer, whats your problem with drugs? If I want to grow some pot and other people want to buy it from me, then isn't that a beautiful example of free individuals exercising their right to pursue happiness? Or does the free market only apply to commodities you approve of?

Wealth Creation 16.Dec.2002 07:01

Bush Admirer

You guys are focusing on the tail and ignoring the dog. The tail would be the wealthy founder of an organization like MacDonalds. The dog would be the vast economic benefits derived by employees, suppliers, and perhaps customers.

If the CEO is able to accumulate millions of $$ via creation of an enterprise like this, then he will have created billions of $$ in total wages paid and materials purchased. Those supplies and material purchases provide revenues to the the other industries that provide such supplies. Those companies, in turn pay their employees with those funds. Those employees buy cars and groceries, buy houses or pay rent, etc.

The 'wealth' accumulated by those at the top of this financial pyramid are siphoning off a miniscule percentage of the total cash flow. And they deserve it -- they created it and it benefits the many.

corporatism is the new capitalism... 16.Dec.2002 08:25

this thing here

>they created it and it benefits the many.<

yes, but it really benefits only those who can land a job and keep a job. welfare is an attempt to deal with those in a capitalist society who are not employed. without employment, a person is meaningless in a capitalist society that defines "worthyness to live" simply on productivity. however, a living human is not meaningless in a society of fellow humans living together. humans have worth beyond purely economic concerns. america is both of these societies. but when one, say the "capitalist society" begins to take power over the "human society", problems are just waiting to happen.

i really believe that when people talk about america, they need to separate capitalism from freedom as outlined in the bill of rights. i think they are two very different things. and in my opinion, i think it is alarming to see many give the credit for freedom to "capitalism" and not to democracy or law or the bill of rights. it's a dangerous line of thinking.

in my opinion, any economic ideology should be second compared to freedom as defined by law. economic ideology should bow before freedom, not the other way around. when economic ideology comes before freedom, in a sense the result is "state capitalism", a totalitarian system where production is all that matters, and economics is glorified at the expense of humanity.

could capitalism become totalitarian? well, i'm not sure. but as anyone who has been laid off knows, the bottom line is ruthless. the danger for democracy and capitalism and america is for capitalist power to merge with state power, and for the two to become one overriding super-ideology. the two are already in a co-dependent relationship. the capitalist power relies on the state's military power for protection as it expands, and the state relies on the money and products generated by the capitalist power. the closer the two become, the more totalitarian they get. the state becomes the economy, and the economy becomes the state. their fates become tied together, and power uses whatever means neccessary to ensure a positive outcome. and the people are forced to go along for the ride.

i would suggest that all look up the word corporatism. and use it in a sentence where you formerly used capitalism. i think corporatism is a more appropriate word for america today, in which capitalism has begun to merge with the state, and where corporations have become large enough and powerful enough to take on almost governmental powers. and please realize, corporatism is a term that has been around for a long time. it was not invented by "leftists" a "couple years ago" while they were sitting around talking.

question for 'Bu$h Admirer' 16.Dec.2002 11:11

curious

"Those companies, in turn pay their employees with those funds. Those employees buy cars and groceries, buy houses or pay rent, etc."

--ok, like what Ken Lay and the rest of the Enron/WorldCom CEOs did?

(*none* of them have remained in jail, or suffered anywhere near the economic or social losses that their displaced former employees have)

who/what is accountable within the capitalist system?
question for 'Bu$h Admirer'
question for 'Bu$h Admirer'

it is curious 16.Dec.2002 16:24

someone

> It's curious that the left chooses to demonize corporations and businesses. Why not work on real problems like crime? drugs? terrorism?

What makes you think that the two aren't one and the same?

If there were 1) more jobs and 2) higher wages than there wouldn't be any crime. If everyone could work and make a decent living why would they risk going to jail? It serves the corporations to pay workers less, that should be obvious since the owners (capitalists) get to keep the money for themselves. It also servers the corporations to support an institutionalized system that promotes unemployment. Afterall, how do you get people to accept jobs for low wage unless they are faced with the possibility of no job at all?

And yet, nothing says that capitalism has to be like this. Many other nations are attempting to put systems into place to eliminate both unemployment and poverty because they see these as adisgrace to the country. It's still capitalism, but with a different set of values from what the United States is practicing. After all, in response to the Enron picture, a lot of so-called "free market capitalists" are claiming that there is nothing wrong with what the executives of Enron and their peers have done. The claim is that those executives owe nothing to the share holders, the employees, or to anyone else. If they can amass the money and buy the means to stay out of jail then more power to them, literally. This is still capitalism, but the values are pretty repugnant, to me, and self-serving to say the least.

As for drugs, well, hemp is illegal because DuPont didn't want to compete with hemp fiber... so much for the free market... Plus, there are millions of dollars to made in the drug trade, and the CIA doesn't want to give that up. It's one of their biggest sources of income. No one fire back with conspiracy theory bullshit, the role of the CIA in running drugs has been proven conclusively for all who bother read any of the many books written about it. Perhaps, it bothers people to use the sweeping generalization of "the CIA" so replace it with "agents or elements within the CIA" if you are so inclined.

Personally, I wonder what would happen if the tobacco companies really thought about how much there was to be made in the drug trade. With their lobbying power maybe we'd see some change in drug laws. They could sell it to the american people on the premise that it would lower taxes (by stopping the ridiculous amount of money funding the completely inneffectual drug war).

As for terrorism, like crime, one has to look for its roots. If it were not in the best interest of corporations to screw other countries out of their resources there would be no terrorism. I am working to end terrorism by trying to end the tyranny of this country. If we continue to use the example of McDonalds, a wonderful example, we see that without cheap sources of materials, McDonalds simply could not operate at the level it is currently operating. The price of beef has been so artificially lowered to make it possible for the beef consumption of this country that if people were actually forced to pay the real cost of raising cattle humanely, in this country, without clear cutting any more land, they'd be paying about $25 (that estimate relies on approimations of the value of the land cleared for grazing) for a big mac, and McDonalds would either have to switch to veggie burgers or go out of business. Luckily for them, they have the US government and military to "persuade" other nations to clear cut their forest, sell beef cheaply, and work for nothing.


But, we don't have to leave this as conjecture. Let's just end corporate welfare and see how well these corporations do without massive government subsidies from the tax-payers.

Sean 16.Dec.2002 19:27

Bush Admirer

Sean

>>You say that government doesn't create jobs and provide wealth? What about all those government jobs we have now that the Republikans want to do away with? Imagine all the jobs that would be created by UNIVERSAL healthcare, education, housing, etc...

You fail to understand the nature of primary vs. secondary and tertiary employers. If Intel builds a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Smalltown, USA they are the primary employer. Suppose they hire 2,000 workers. They are the primary employer in that community. They create products and they create a market for those products.

That creates opportunities for secondary employers like the dentist, the plumber, the dry cleaner, the yoga coach, the motel, the grocery store, the hamburger joint, etc. Without the primary employer, none of them would be there. They're valid contributors to the town's economy, but they're secondary to the primary employer.

And then comes the tertiary employers like the IRS and the welfare bureau. They're the parasites who suck blood out of the primary and secondary employers. The jobs they create to enable employment, but they are primarily a burden

Corporatism 16.Dec.2002 19:35

Bush Admirer

>>> I think corporatism is a more appropriate word for america today, in which capitalism has begun to merge with the state.

Where do you liberals come up with this bizarre stuff? How ridiculous does it get?

Government and Business have an uneasy relationship at best.

It's like the relationship between Academia and Business.

The parties need one another, but they clearly don't like one another.

Forget about your merger. It ain't gonna happen.

Reply to someone 16.Dec.2002 20:01

Bush Admirer

Someone:

>>> If everyone could work and make a decent living why would they risk going to jail?

Beats me. As Exhibit "A" I give you Andrew Fastow of Enron. As Exhibit 'B' I give you Winona Ryder, America's favorite shoplifter. As Exhibit 'C' I give you Bill Clinton (want to buy a pardon?).

>>> It serves the corporations to pay workers less, that should be obvious since the owners (capitalists) get to keep the money for themselves. It also servers the corporations to support an institutionalized system that promotes unemployment. Afterall, how do you get people to accept jobs for low wage unless they are faced with the possibility of no job at all?

That's extremely naive. You want low wages, you go to Thailand or India. Smart corporations, like Microsoft, endeavor to hire the very best people they can, and to reward them accordingly. Most every successful entrepreneur you might interview will credit his or her success to 'attracting and retaining the very best people.'

>>>> And yet, nothing says that capitalism has to be like this. Many other nations are attempting to put systems into place to eliminate both unemployment and poverty because they see these as adisgrace to the country. It's still capitalism, but with a different set of values from what the United States is practicing.

So when are you moving to Sweden? You'll love seeing 70% of your paycheck evaporate in the form of taxes.

>>> After all, in response to the Enron picture, a lot of so-called "free market capitalists" are claiming that there is nothing wrong with what the executives of Enron and their peers have done. The claim is that those executives owe nothing to the share holders, the employees, or to anyone else.

I find the Enron situation totally repugnant. Lock them up and throw the keys away. But don't presume that Enron is typical of corporations. That's like saying that bin Laden is evil, and therefore all Muslims are evil.

>>> As for drugs, well, hemp is illegal because DuPont didn't want to compete with hemp fiber... so much for the free market... Plus, there are millions of dollars to made in the drug trade, and the CIA doesn't want to give that up. It's one of their biggest sources of income.

Where do you come up with this bullshit? Geez. I don't think Marijuana is a big problem. But cocaine and heroin are big trouble. And the CIA conspiracy theory is ridiculous bullshit.

>>> Personally, I wonder what would happen if the tobacco companies really thought about how much there was to be made in the drug trade. With their lobbying power maybe we'd see some change in drug laws. They could sell it to the american people on the premise that it would lower taxes (by stopping the ridiculous amount of money funding the completely inneffectual drug war).

Do you want to outlaw tobacco and drugs? Fine with me.

>>> As for terrorism, like crime, one has to look for its roots. If it were not in the best interest of corporations to screw other countries out of their resources there would be no terrorism.

C'mon -- you've fallen off the ledge. Try to get your feet a bit closer to planet earth. That's ridiculous and totally unfounded.

>>> I am working to end terrorism by trying to end the tyranny of this country. If we continue to use the example of McDonalds, a wonderful example, we see that without cheap sources of materials, McDonalds simply could not operate at the level it is currently operating. The price of beef has been so artificially lowered to make it possible for the beef consumption of this country that if people were actually forced to pay the real cost of raising cattle humanely, in this country, without clear cutting any more land, they'd be paying about $25 (that estimate relies on approimations of the value of the land cleared for grazing) for a big mac, and McDonalds would either have to switch to veggie burgers or go out of business. Luckily for them, they have the US government and military to "persuade" other nations to clear cut their forest, sell beef cheaply, and work for nothing.

I'm so sorry to see that you've had another episode. Please take your medication or we'll need to call the male nurse and have them put your restraints on (straight jacket). You've gone off again.

>>> But, we don't have to leave this as conjecture. Let's just end corporate welfare and see how well these corporations do without massive government subsidies from the tax-payers.

I'm all for ending corporate welfare. However, reality is that corporations pay a disproportionate share of federal income taxes (eg: disproportionate = unfair). Just out of curiosity, how much did you pay in federal income taxes last year?

Bush Admirer 16.Dec.2002 21:17

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

<"You fail to understand the nature of primary vs. secondary and tertiary employers. If Intel builds a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Smalltown, USA they are the primary employer. Suppose they hire 2,000 workers. They are the primary employer in that community. They create products and they create a market for those products.

That creates opportunities for secondary employers like the dentist, the plumber, the dry cleaner, the yoga coach, the motel, the grocery store, the hamburger joint, etc. Without the primary employer, none of them would be there. They're valid contributors to the town's economy, but they're secondary to the primary employer.

And then comes the tertiary employers like the IRS and the welfare bureau. They're the parasites who suck blood out of the primary and secondary employers. The jobs they create to enable employment, but they are primarily a burden">

Let's imaging life without the IRS and welfare bureau....

So what happens when Intel is no longer making money in smalltown, they declare bankruptcy and walk away with an enormous amount of money...

What about the workers? Have their lives been improved by this encounter? What about the rest of us who have to pay taxes to make up for Intel's bankruptcy? To pay taxes to cover all of the unemployment benefits?

What about the legacy of their product (which was designed solely to make money for Intel) - how good and useful will this prove to be for the world?

What about Intel's waste and environmental impact?

2,000 workers are now forced to relocate and find new work, some experience may transfer to another position, but many will lose all their seniority and hard earned raises, 401k?, stocks?, health insurance?,

Now, who ends up the winners? Only the big cheeses at Intel, say a handful out of thousands.

And it happens all the time.

Now do the people like Intel - no, they become militant Anarchists and destroy the Intel CEO mansions in Florida that were not confiscated when Intel went bankrupt.

Now, the disgruntled workers vote for the Green party and there is prosperity for all.

The End

okay bush admirer 17.Dec.2002 00:23

someone

I can't believe some people still don't believe the CIA and drugs. For reading about the CIA and Heroin during Vietnam just pick up a history book or look it up in a newspaper. That's old news. Here's some current reading for the CIA and drugs. How about picking one and reading it. I haven't read all of them, some of them might be complete crap. But, the ones I've read, all the evidence comes directly from the testimony or statements of CIA agents (like this one  http://www.wethepeople.la/tatum1.gif) or from department of justice investigations.:

Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America by Peter Scott

Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion by Gary Webb

Whiteout : the Cia, Drugs and the Press by Alexander / Clair, Jeffrey Cockburn

The big white lie by Michael Levine

Defrauding America : Encyclopedia of Secret Operations by the Cia, Dea, and Other Covert Agencies by Rodney Stich

Cocaine Politics :
Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America by Peter Dale Scott, Jonathan Marshall

I could list websites but you could do the search if you wanted to, and frankly, the idea obviously threatens your worldview too much for you to consider it. But I thought I'd let you know plenty of information is out there, for the rest of us, if not for you.

As for your comments... None of the "exhibits" you gave are spending any real time in jail, so they don't disprove my point, merely bring up an additional one. That is: what will people do if they think they can get away with it. And thereforse, you could argue that all criminals expect to get away with their crimes and thus, their motivations are separate from the penalties. So, we can agree that crime would still exist because people now are embezzling from their companies left and right. But, street crime, robbery, assault, drug trafficking, etc, are all correlated with poverty and income level. So, by raising people up by providing good jobs we wouldn't necessarily have less crime (although I suspect we would) but it would certainly take different forms.

I'd like to think smart corporations are the ones who invest in their workforces. I suppose that's another value judgement, but one I'll agree with you on. But those corporations seem to be the exception these day. For example, you'd expect Boing and Lockheed Martin to do the same thing, investing in intelligent American workers and yet they're moving oversees so fast that it's ridiculous. There is cheaper labor elsewhere and they intend to take advantage of it. You and I may not think that it's smart but they obviously do, just like every auto maker, clothing manufacturer, and countless more. They're all fleeing the country to find cheaper labor. Again, this reduces the number of jobs, forcing people to settle for less to even have a job. I've seen this in practice in the IT field, although, the job losses are largely from the tech bubble bursting, but the downward pressure on wages has been striking.

It's a myth that European countries pay a lot more taxes (for Switzerland look here:  http://switzerland.isyours.com/e/taxes/personal/, they pay less than 30%, just like us) but you completely missed my point. It doesn't take more taxes to create jobs and end poverty. In fact, it's the opposite. Job creation and the elimination of poverty would reduce taxes by rendering social programs obsolete and by having a larger work force to draw income taxes from. All that is required is a shift in values. Do you think if we wanted to end poverty or unemployment we, as a nation couldn't do it? I think we could, it's just a question of whether we have the values and vision to do so.

In some ways Enron is atypical and in some ways they are very typical. What they did is not atypical at all, at least for public corporations, it was merely the degree to which they did it that people are repulsed. But most other companies are cooking the books too. In other respects I hope you're right; I'd like to think more corporations have a sense of decency not to screw their employees and shareholders, but I guess only time will tell.

I'm glad you pointed out the inconsistencies in the drug policy. Although, I do think that prohibition is never the answer, in that it never works and creates a worse set of problems. Anyway, this is somewhat offtopic but I do think tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs should be dealt with in the same framework (not that I'm advocating treating them equally which people sometimes assume when I say "same framework").

Anyway, toward the end of your response you didn't bother to provide any actual argument, just name calling, so there's nothing for me to respond to.

But disproportionate does not mean unfair, as far as I'm concerned. Someone living at the poverty line shouldn't have to pay taxes. So they're paying a disproportionate share, but I would say it's fair because they have nothing. Likewise for someone who has a lot I don't see it as unfair for them to give back to a country and to a system that has benefitted them so profoundly. Bill Gates has been leading the charge of the wealthy who do not want tax cuts. They understand and are grateful and don't mind paying taxes.

As for corporations "paying" a disproportionate share of taxes that's not entirely true. While they're taxed at a high level, corporations, as a whole, generally, only pay a little over half of what they're taxed. Several corporations pay nothing (like AT&T and Cisco), and some even get rebates, like oil companies, who are only taxed at 12.3%.

So, if your facts were accurate we could argue about what is fair. But I don't think it's fair that oil companies who make billions of dollars are taxed and at 12.3% and receive rebates of millions of dollar (like Texaco) while I, as per your request, am taxed at 20% paying about $10,000 in taxes, which is pretty standard for my tax bracket, maybe even a little high since I don't have mortgage deductions.

Again, all the information is there. A long time ago I went to the IRS data itself because I couldn't decide who to trust with all the facts and figures given out by various organizations. If you don't believe me maybe you should do the same.

B.A. hey, wake up. heads up. c.mon, get up... 17.Dec.2002 08:33

this thing here

>Forget about your merger. It ain't gonna happen.<

if this is the best you can do to refute the existence of corporatism, i feel sorry for you. don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Simply put... 17.Dec.2002 16:18

harpyr

Bottom line:
CAPITALISM-
A system based infinite growth cannot be stable in a world of finite resources.

This is a fact that we will all be woken up to eventually, wether it be now or in the future when it will become Painfully obvious.

financial pyramids 17.Dec.2002 18:44

dj tubesteak

Bush Admirer-

you capitalists--so bright-eyed and idealistic!

Way to to ignore the basic point again.

You've heard of pyramid scams, I assume?

Essentially how a pyramid scam works is that one person inflates the value of a cheaply acquired commodity in order to sell it to a group of people on the assumption that they can then resell it, and then each of them repeats this process, each individual on each level of the pyramid passing on their own costs and siphoning off a certain amount of profit. The bottom of he pyramid consists of the people who pay a higher price for the commodity being sold than anyone else is willing to believe it's worth. The original 'entrepreneur' makes a profit, as do the people on all levels of the pyramid except the last, who incur a huge cost without acquiring anything of value. The reason a scam like this works (and they do all the time-think those junk emails promising you the means to make thousands of dollars in a few weeks) is that only the people on the bottom of the pyramid are getting screwed. To everyone between the first and the second-to-last members of the chain, the worthless item has value, and they make a profit by selling it. Of course, for the whole thing to work, there has to be a group of people who give up their money without getting anything in return. The point is that you can only inflate the value of the item so much before the difference between its actual value and its ability to be marked up for resale becomes obvious to everyone.

Capitalism operates on the same basic principle. The entire 'wealth-creation' concept relies upon exchanging a commodity (a material asset, the benefit of your labor, or the combination of the two through processing of the material) for a greater sum of value than you had to part with to obtain it. It follows that since there isn't an infinite amount of value (wealth) to go around, each person in the chain is necessarily accumulating value from a source that lies further down the pyramid. The creation of jobs results from adding levels to the pyramid, but there's still a limited amount of value that can be derived by everyone in the system. Thus, someone still has to get screwed. People being somewhat averse to being screwed by nature, the addition of individuals adds entropy to the system, which will fail if the people who are getting screwed have the ability to interfere with its operation. Since the system's need for a given individual's participation does not remain constant, a certain number of people have to be jettisoned to maintain the system's profitability for those higher on the pyramid, but because there's a limited amount of wealth to go around, a highly developed system (relying upon corporations rather than individual entrepreneurs) makes a certain number of those who are brought into the system dependent on it, and once jettisoned those individuals will be forced to obtain the minimum necessary income from those still in the system by methods that interfere with the system's functioning. A welfare system serves to keep the number of these individuals low enough for the system to remain stable enough to perpetuate itself, by siphoning money ('created' value) from the sectors where it is concentrated and expending it on the reintegration of enough of these individuals as is necessary.



"Forget about your merger. It ain't gonna happen."

No one who doesn't enjoy the support of at least a portion of the corporate sector has any chance of winning a Congressional or Presidential election. If you don't believe that, run for one of these offices funding your campaign only with your own assets (unless you're highly placed in the corporate hierarchy yourself, a la Mark Dayton from Minnesota) and $1000-capped donations from individual supporters and see how far you get.

Boeing would go out of business without the patronage of the U.S. military, and if that happened to every company that similarly depends on monopsonistic government business, most of the high-technology sector would be dragged down with them.
Agribusiness would collapse if it had to absorb its own costs or pass them to consumers; that's why it's so heavily subsidized.
Every business sector that keeps our economy running depends upon the government funneling money through taxes back into targeted parts of the system. If you think an economy as extensive as ours runs (or could run) on entrepreneurial innovation and good old fashioned American hard work alone, you're living in a childish fantasy world.

Welfare isn't an anarchist concept, by the way. A welfare system is inherently designed to keep a state/capitalist social system intact. Forced redistribution of the wealth I generate (through my labor) in the form of income taxes I pay that fund handouts to corporations really pisses me off, and its made necessary by a capitalist system where people or corporations can use a government to enforce ownership of things like the land or water and somebody has to 'create jobs' to begin with.

Sean 17.Dec.2002 18:48

Bush Admirer

>>> So what happens when Intel is no longer making money in smalltown, they declare bankruptcy and walk away with an enormous amount of money... What about the workers? Have their lives been improved by this encounter? What about the rest of us who have to pay taxes to make up for Intel's bankruptcy? To pay taxes to cover all of the unemployment benefits? What about the legacy of their product (which was designed solely to make money for Intel) - how good and useful will this prove to be for the world? What about Intel's waste and environmental impact? 2,000 workers are now forced to relocate and find new work, some experience may transfer to another position, but many will lose all their seniority and hard earned raises, 401k?, stocks?, health insurance?, Now, who ends up the winners? Only the big cheeses at Intel, say a handful out of thousands. And it happens all the time. Now do the people like Intel - no, they become militant Anarchists and destroy the Intel CEO mansions in Florida that were not confiscated when Intel went bankrupt. Now, the disgruntled workers vote for the Green party and there is prosperity for all.

Whoa Sean. There is a grain of truth in your argument but it's a very small grain. A business is a venture. Not every venture is successful. There are no guarantees for the stockholders or the management. There are no guarantees for the employees. They're all in it together. Workers make the mistake of thinking the company owes them something after payday, and for years to come. They fail to understand that they're selling their labor on an hourly basis. The contract is consummated on payday. Employment is not a lifetime guarantee of security and income. It's a job. If they don't like it they should change jobs.

Someone 17.Dec.2002 19:15

Bush Admirer

I must first of all complement you, someone, for a good effort. You're playing with a fuller deck than most here.


>>> I can't believe some people still don't believe the CIA and drugs. For reading about the CIA and Heroin during Vietnam just pick up a history book or look it up in a newspaper. That's old news. Here's some current reading for the CIA and drugs. How about picking one and reading it. I haven't read all of them, some of them might be complete crap. But, the ones I've read, all the evidence comes directly from the testimony or statements of CIA agents (like this one  http://www.wethepeople.la/tatum1.gif) or from department of justice investigations.: Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America by Peter Scott, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion by Gary Webb, Whiteout : the Cia, Drugs and the Press by Alexander / Clair, Jeffrey Cockburn, The big white lie by Michael Levine, Defrauding America : Encyclopedia of Secret Operations by the Cia, Dea, and Other Covert Agencies by Rodney Stich, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America by Peter Dale Scott, Jonathan Marshall

So let's see if I'm understanding you someone. You're saying that the CIA is in the drug business. Is that what you're really saying? Or am I misunderstanding your allegations? I would hope that the CIA would be involved in drug smuggling for purposes of infiltrating drug cartels and identifying criminals.

>>> I'd like to think smart corporations are the ones who invest in their workforces. I suppose that's another value judgement, but one I'll agree with you on. But those corporations seem to be the exception these day. For example, you'd expect Boeing and Lockheed Martin to do the same thing, investing in intelligent American workers and yet they're moving oversees so fast that it's ridiculous. There is cheaper labor elsewhere and they intend to take advantage of it. You and I may not think that it's smart but they obviously do, just like every auto maker, clothing manufacturer, and countless more. They're all fleeing the country to find cheaper labor. Again, this reduces the number of jobs, forcing people to settle for less to even have a job. I've seen this in practice in the IT field, although, the job losses are largely from the tech bubble bursting, but the downward pressure on wages has been striking.

I think hiring the smartest and most highly motivated workers is the way to succeed. That's the heart of Microsoft's strategy. That's the heart of Apple's strategy. I agree with that. But when excessive government regulation and labor unions show their ugly heads, it may be time to head for Singapore.

>>>> It's a myth that European countries pay a lot more taxes (for Switzerland look here:  http://switzerland.isyours.com/e/taxes/personal/, they pay less than 30%, just like us).

Whoa!! The average American (family of 4 and $40K income pays 53% in taxes. Thats when you add up the incredible array of taxes that we pay (road tolls, import duties, liquor taxes, luxury taxes, sales tax, property tax, stay and federal income tax, etc. etc.).

>>> It doesn't take more taxes to create jobs and end poverty. In fact, it's the opposite. Job creation and the elimination of poverty would reduce taxes by rendering social programs obsolete and by having a larger work force to draw income taxes from. All that is required is a shift in values. Do you think if we wanted to end poverty or unemployment we, as a nation couldn't do it? I think we could, it's just a question of whether we have the values and vision to do so.

The solution is not for the taxpayer to subsidize slackers. The responsibility for ending poverty is squarely on the shoulders of those people who don't carry their own weight. If you don't want to work, then you deserve to be on the bottom rungs of society. America is the land of opportunity for those with ambition, energy, and intellect. It is not the land of opportunity for the worthless bums, the unwed welfare mother with six children all by different fathers, people who've never been able to hold a job, peace activists who'd rather whine and complain that work and make something out of themselves, etc.

>>> In some ways Enron is atypical and in some ways they are very typical. What they did is not atypical at all, at least for public corporations, it was merely the degree to which they did it that people are repulsed. But most other companies are cooking the books too. In other respects I hope you're right; I'd like to think more corporations have a sense of decency not to screw their employees and shareholders, but I guess only time will tell.

Enron is completely atypical. Almost all corporations are model citizens. Cheats occur in every walk of life including corporations. Even our President was a cheat (in the former administration).

>>> I'm glad you pointed out the inconsistencies in the drug policy. Although, I do think that prohibition is never the answer, in that it never works and creates a worse set of problems. Anyway, this is somewhat offtopic but I do think tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs should be dealt with in the same framework (not that I'm advocating treating them equally which people sometimes assume when I say "same framework").

My personal opinion is that Marijuana is probably no bigger problem than alcohol. However, cocaine and heroin are a very big problem. We should go after cocaine and heroin growers, drug lords, and street dealers with the same enthusiasm that we have for Al Queda. I think the drug guys kill more people than Al Queda.

>>> Disproportionate does not mean unfair, as far as I'm concerned. Someone living at the poverty line shouldn't have to pay taxes. So they're paying a disproportionate share, but I would say it's fair because they have nothing. Likewise for someone who has a lot I don't see it as unfair for them to give back to a country and to a system that has benefitted them so profoundly. Bill Gates has been leading the charge of the wealthy who do not want tax cuts. They understand and are grateful and don't mind paying taxes.

10% across the board would be my idea of fair.

Tubesteak 17.Dec.2002 19:32

Bush Admirer

>>> Essentially how a pyramid scam works is that one person inflates the value of a cheaply acquired commodity in order to sell it to a group of people on the assumption that they can then resell it, and then each of them repeats this process, each individual on each level of the pyramid passing on their own costs and siphoning off a certain amount of profit. The bottom of he pyramid consists of the people who pay a higher price for the commodity being sold than anyone else is willing to believe it's worth. The original 'entrepreneur' makes a profit, as do the people on all levels of the pyramid except the last, who incur a huge cost without acquiring anything of value. The reason a scam like this works (and they do all the time-think those junk emails promising you the means to make thousands of dollars in a few weeks) is that only the people on the bottom of the pyramid are getting screwed. To everyone between the first and the second-to-last members of the chain, the worthless item has value, and they make a profit by selling it. Of course, for the whole thing to work, there has to be a group of people who give up their money without getting anything in return. The point is that you can only inflate the value of the item so much before the difference between its actual value and its ability to be marked up for resale becomes obvious to everyone. Capitalism operates on the same basic principle. The entire 'wealth-creation' concept relies upon exchanging a commodity (a material asset, the benefit of your labor, or the combination of the two through processing of the material) for a greater sum of value than you had to part with to obtain it. It follows that since there isn't an infinite amount of value (wealth) to go around, each person in the chain is necessarily accumulating value from a source that lies further down the pyramid. The creation of jobs results from adding levels to the pyramid, but there's still a limited amount of value that can be derived by everyone in the system. Thus, someone still has to get screwed. People being somewhat averse to being screwed by nature, the addition of individuals adds entropy to the system, which will fail if the people who are getting screwed have the ability to interfere with its operation. Since the system's need for a given individual's participation does not remain constant, a certain number of people have to be jettisoned to maintain the system's profitability for those higher on the pyramid, but because there's a limited amount of wealth to go around, a highly developed system (relying upon corporations rather than individual entrepreneurs) makes a certain number of those who are brought into the system dependent on it, and once jettisoned those individuals will be forced to obtain the minimum necessary income from those still in the system by methods that interfere with the system's functioning. A welfare system serves to keep the number of these individuals low enough for the system to remain stable enough to perpetuate itself, by siphoning money ('created' value) from the sectors where it is concentrated and expending it on the reintegration of enough of these individuals as is necessary.

What an incredible amount of words you've used here to create a bullshit argument. Please take a shortcut next time. The people at the bottom are not victims. More likely, they're the non contributors or the least contributors. An ideal system would reward participants in proportion to their contribution.

>>> No one who doesn't enjoy the support of at least a portion of the corporate sector has any chance of winning a Congressional or Presidential election. If you don't believe that, run for one of these offices funding your campaign only with your own assets (unless you're highly placed in the corporate hierarchy yourself, a la Mark Dayton from Minnesota) and $1000-capped donations from individual supporters and see how far you get.

And where is the problem with that? Corporations create most of the products and most of the jobs that underpin our economy. Call it justice.

>>> Boeing would go out of business without the patronage of the U.S. military, and if that happened to every company that similarly depends on monopsonistic government business, most of the high-technology sector would be dragged down with them.

And the military would likely be defeated without Boeing.

>>> Agribusiness would collapse if it had to absorb its own costs or pass them to consumers; that's why it's so heavily subsidized.

Oh my, you struck a chord. I'm in favor of ending agricultural subsidies.

>>> Every business sector that keeps our economy running depends upon the government funneling money through taxes back into targeted parts of the system. If you think an economy as extensive as ours runs (or could run) on entrepreneurial innovation and good old fashioned American hard work alone, you're living in a childish fantasy world.

Did I say that? I don't think so. We do need some minimal government regulation. Otherwise the Mafia would take over.

>>> Welfare isn't an anarchist concept, by the way. A welfare system is inherently designed to keep a state/capitalist social system intact. Forced redistribution of the wealth I generate (through my labor) in the form of income taxes I pay that fund handouts to corporations really pisses me off, and its made necessary by a capitalist system where people or corporations can use a government to enforce ownership of things like the land or water and somebody has to 'create jobs' to begin with.

We're sort of in agreement here. Any government taxation leading to redistribution of income pisses me off, corporate or private.

ahh, the rhetoric 17.Dec.2002 22:09

someone

Bush Admirer, no one in this country pays 53% of their income in taxes. I've listened to this rhetoric for years but no one has provided any evidence that it has ever happened. Again, I went to IRS records, and you should do the same. Like your 70% tax in Switzerland the 50% tax figure is complete rhetoric. Now, in the case of the US, you can artificially create a scenario in which someone would pay 50% of their income in taxes, I've done the figures myself. However, no one actually falls into this scenario. But feel free to prove me wrong. I've offered this challenge for years and no one has been able to do it but go ahead, find me one person in this entire country of 250 million people that pays 50% of their income in taxes. So far no one has been able to, are you up to the challenge?

As for the CIA, it's not their job to stop drug smuggling, that's the DEA. But, it's common knowledge that they were running drugs during vietnam, and into the inner cities in the 80's. There are literally dozens of newspaper stories on it as well as many books. I'm not asking you to believe me, just pointing out that if you want to refute the evidence you have to read the evidence first.

I don't buy the excessive regulation argument, since I don't see any tangible evidence that corporations are adversely affected by regulation. Sure without regulation they could dump toxic sludge wherever they wanted to but those things have a way of coming back in lawsuits and boycotts. As for unions, well, by studying the history of the labor movement we know that unions were a necessity to get workers some very basic rights. I would have to agree that most unions today are hardly much of a benefit. I wouldn't want to go back a hundred years but nor do I want to see the current union situation continue. But moving oversee to avoid unions or working to destroy unions in other countries is not a practice that should be admired. It does benefit the capitalists but it hurts the country.

As for welfare, again, you're buying into the rhetoric so deeply. None of what you said about welfare is even close to reality. Again, do the research for yourself. I was lucky enough to be able to go over a GAO report on welfare which should be publicaly available although I dohn't have the title handy; I can find it though. Most people are on welfare for very short periods of time. People want to work. I'm sick of this bleak vision of humanity thrown out by republicans that so thinly veils their racism and classism. The responsibility for ending poverty is on all of us, but the government has the ability to put forth policies and programs to promote job creation and promote good wages and benefits. Most women on welfare do not have many children, and the insuation that they would be from different fathers is simply classist and racist. You don't know that, and if you ever bothered to read studies on welfare you would know that the miconceptions held by most of the public are just that, misconceptions and rhetoric. But again, don't believe me, do some research; there are many books and studies on poverty.

I hate to tell you peace activists are working... our economy forces people to work in one way or the other. If you don't work, you don't survive. I know you want to feel good about yourself and your worldview but it simply isn't accurate. And I've wondered reading your posts how old you are. I answered your questions about how much I paid in taxes last year. How much did you pay? I'm asking because I get the feeling you don't work, but rather, that you're in school. But it's hard to tell with such limited interaction. But how about letting us know how much you paid in taxes and how much you make?

"All corporations are model citizens" is such a flawed statements because corporations aren't citizens. Do they hold the same values? You could argue that, this country values greed and so do corporations so you could say corporations are modeled on people. In lends weight to the statement that if we changed our vision and our values for this country corporations could still exist because they would follow too. That is possible, and I'd rather see that than a complete social, economic, and/or ecological collapse. Unfortunately, people still don't realize how completely unsustainable our way of life is. It will have to change, soon, although no one knows how.

As for our former president. I can't get over how much people like to bash Clinton for things that were all done by Bush Sr. Let's see they both:
* had affairs
* lied to the public
* lied under oath
* bombed countries to distract the public
* pardoned the rich (and in Bush's case all those convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal)
* sent US jobs oversees

All of these things have been done by many presidents. Clinton certainly was a terrible president. I'll agree with that, but he wasn't any worse than any of our other presidents. As for Bush Jr, hardly an honest word ever comes out of his mouth, although, I wonder if he might be like Reagan, someone who honestly believes what he's being told to say. That makes it different than Bush Sr. or Clinton who knew they were lying, who knew the weight of their actions, but I'm not sure if either is better or worse than the other.

But if you want to discuss flat tax proposals. I actually agree that a flat tax would be ideal to reduce the tax beauracracy but a couple of things are needed. First, a 10% tax can't pay for the military budget. So, either you need to increase the figure or decrease the military budget. Frankly, I think the military could be more effective if it were more efficient and operated with half it's current budget. Then we might be able to get close to 10%. Beyond that there are a couple of caveats. Anyone living in poverty should not be taxed, and since having a single point of taxation is also unfair, there would need to be a short ramp up to 10% after the poverty line (which is sorely in need of updating). 2) There needs to be something at the upper end of the income spectrum. Some have proposed a cap of say 25 million dollars a year. That would probably win the support of the people and would work but many people find that goes against their princinciples that anyone should be able to make as much as they can, even if they can't possible spend it within their lifetime. Another alternative would be to ramp up the tax rate at that point. A person making 25 million having to pay 20%, 5 million is really chump change at that point and again, I think that it's their patriotic duty to give back to a country that has so rewarded them. You may not see it as fair, but I suspect that most people would. But, we're a long way from a flat tax scheme, and frankly we've got bigger problems in our immediate future.

But what I see is really a difference in worldviews, you've bought into the republican rhetoric and it decides your vision of the world. I think paying taxes is patriotic and shipping jobs oversee is unpatriotic, one helps the country the other hurts it and you seem to feel the reverse. Although one could certainly argue whether or not they want to help the country. I would like to see a country whether 20% of children weren't going hungry every day. You talk of the burdern of paying taxes but we have children starving in our own country, you may not have a problem with that, but I do. But then, my vision is different then yours. Mine may never be a reality unless people start looking at two things 1) what they feel is right and 2) what works for a society. Look at Malta for example, where everyone is guaranteed a job that pays a living wage. It's not a perfect system, but it works. Of course, their country has many other problems, but, it's a capitalist country. It works because when everyone has a job a lot of money flows into the economy. It's an important issue because our economy is in a downward spiral. Corporations are not creating jobs because the economy is crashing, and the economy is crashing because fewer people have jobs, and those that do are worried about losing theirs and putting money away into savings. Although opportunity can still be found here (although the kinds are dependent on one race, gender, class, education level, age, etc) there a lot of skilled people without jobs right now. I see it every day. In portland the average computer job will receive over 300 applications, almost entirely from qualified candidates. So if you want to keep your faith in capitalism as it's currently implemented, you have the right to so, but I Would hope you won't cling so tightly that you can't change your mind sometime down the road. It's your favorite president in the whitehouse and the republicans have control of congress and the supreme court. There is absolutely no excuse for them not to implement their agenda and time will tell if it works or not. If it does, and this country is a great place in two years we can have a good discussion about it then.

bush admirer 18.Dec.2002 05:32

dj tubesteak

Do you have some kind of allergy to actually providing the evidence or logic upon which you base your disagreement with my arguments? Or do you just not have any?

"The people at the bottom are not victims. More likely, they're the non contributors or the least contributors"

This, for example, is an unsupported assertion, not a persuasive argument.

In the case of the textile industry, those at the bottom are the people in El Salvador and Saipan who get paid less than a dollar to sew a pair of shoes or Old Navy Cargo Pants that the company turns a profit of $10+ on (Or a comparable ratio, I suspect. How much do Old Navy clothes run, besides a shitload more than they're worth?). Try making those products in a country where workers don't have to accept wages that are less than the market value of their labor and the whole enterprise will collapse from having to pass the labor cost on to either customers (though the fact that a lot of Americans don't realize how stupid they look driving Dodge Durangos around suggests that one should not underestimate the power of advertising) or investors. This system doesn't reward people proportionally to their contributions so much as reward those with the ability to find people more gullible (or powerless) than themselves.

"where is the problem with that? Corporations create most of the products and most of the jobs that underpin our economy. Call it justice."

This was essentially Mussolini's opinion on the subject, though he took it a step further to its logical conclusion.


"We do need some minimal government regulation"

You really like trying to dodge the point, don't you?
We tried letting people fund their own businesses. It didn't work. The whole thing tanked in 1929, and the only reason the same system is nominally around is that we a. used the government to create a lot of artificial make-work jobs and b. went to war, which funneled huge amounts of taxed money into heavy industry, and we really haven't stopped doing that since. (Remember how they tried to cut back military spending after the Cold War and everybody started bitching because they lost their jobs? Why do you think we boosted it back up? I suspect it's not because we were that afraid of Manuel Noriega and Slobodan Milosevich) Our economy would break down if we stopped giving handouts to corporations. We don't just do it for kicks.

The biggest period of growth in the U.S. economy of the last century was between 1945 and 1965. If you look it up, you'll note that the average rate of income tax for the top brackets during this period was around 80%. Compare this to the 'trickle-down' years when cutting this bracket's taxes was the rage and the average American income in real dollars dropped a very aerodynamic rock. What does that say to you about what keeps our economy going?

???

[It's just a shame this is about to drop off the front page and I probably won't get the pleasure of B.A.'s response]

P.S. 18.Dec.2002 05:38

dj tubesteak

By the way, the Mafia have taken over. You ever read where the Kennedy fortune came from?

Mafia 18.Dec.2002 06:41

Bush Admirer

>>> By the way, the Mafia have taken over. You ever read where the Kennedy fortune came from?

Joe Kennedy's Mafia connections are well documented. The Mafia's attempt to assassinate Castro at Jack Kennedy's request is also pretty well documented. Mafia control of significant elements of organized labor has been out in the open for years.

For those of you who enjoy conspiracy theories consider the Mafia controlled labor unions and the clout labor has with the Democrats.

The Democrats have always been corrupt, but are they Mafia controlled or just Mafia influenced?

alas 05.Jan.2003 16:45

someone

No response to me BA... I guess I'll just have to assume that you're in school then. Maybe when you enter the real world you'll wake up to some of the realities that working people face every day. But maybe you have connections to prevent that... I find that you not only refused to defend your position but instead to throw out Maria conspiracy theories to be interesting. I think conspiracy theories have a bad rap; labeling them is just to prevent people from taking them seriously. Yet, why would you be selective... if you believe in one conspiracy theory shouldn't you also recognise the possibility that others are true. Anyway, I appreciate that you at least enaged in discussion for a little while. Next time you should leave out the insults, it only makes you look like a child.