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Thread: What's wrong with capitalism?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    What's wrong with capitalism?

    I was thinking about this the other day.

    For one thing, the form of capitalism we have now differs from the form that once prevailed in that the production of value - worthwhile things - now takes a back seat to a virulent form of rent-seeking. What I mean is that in the past, the conscious objective of most businesses (and the individuals who ran them, specifically) was to make a really good "x" (car, vacuum cleaner, whatever it might be) with the profits deriving naturally - but secondarily - from that. But today's vulture capitalism is all about maximizing the revenue stream first and foremost - to the point that even a few extra pennies of profit per unit are worth anything and everything else - from cheapening the product itself to the most vicious sorts of labor practices (outsourcing to foreign countries, etc.) in a headlong rush to the bottom (price-wise) in order to attenuate the profits uber alles that flow from this misery to a literal handful of shyster "investment class" types - who themselves rarely if ever produce a single worthwhile thing for the betterment of the economy or their fellow citizens.

    An interesting contrast, "then" vs. "now" is Henry Ford vs. any of the current heads of a major US automaker. Ford was a self-taught engineer who venerated his product - the profits earned thereby secondary to the primary object of making something of value - cars. The life goal of Ford was not "making money" or "increasing shareholder value." It was building the Model T and the Model A and putting the average American behind the wheel of one. Ford got rich, but his workers also earned a living (and perpetually rising) wage and both they and Ford (and America) benefitted enormously from the process.

    Today, the model is - grubbing for money. The cars themselves matter less than quarterly profits - and this has given us the short-term thinking and vicious, adversarial relationship between management and worker (and company and consumer) that has resulted in the virtual collapse of the industry (even while the top handful continue to bleed the system for millions in filched "earnings") and the dislocation of millions of average workers and the economy generally.

    Companies don't take pride in making things (and making them best). What matters above and beyond every other consideration is making money. And not just that - but making the maximum feasible profit, even when it's fractional and comes at a huge cost to workers, or to the nation - and even when the "earnings" (for the upper management/shareholder class) are already mind-boggling.

    It seems to me that this disease has metastasized across our economy. We have gone from being a nation of builders and makers of things to a nation of wheedlers and shysters who don't produce anything - just flim-flam "finance" scams and the like. Thus an economy built on production and value has been hollowed out into a "consumer" economy built on debt and fraud.

    Many so-called conservatives and misguided Libertarians defend this as the "free market" - but it's anything but "free" or a "market." What we have is a system of corporate syndicalism, in which an elite of interchangeable big business and big government parasites strip the flesh off the productive economy for their own ends. In which earning an honest dollar via productive work is considered a fool's errand - and where the slickest shyster who figures out a way to wheedle average people out of their life savings is a kind of living god.... .

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    Eric - That is a brilliant description of the state of the country and the economy. The effects of labor arbitrage are beginning to be felt in a big way by American consumers.

    As an aside, I just got back from a "Black Friday" shopping expedition with my girlfriend. It was an unbelievable spectacle of the morbidly obese crowding the stores and shopping on command from shyster peddlers such as Wal-Mart and Target to buy the discount $200 TV set from China.

    People are literally participating in their own race to the bottom with nary a protest.

    The whole thing is enough to make me want to vomit.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    Eric - That is a brilliant description of the state of the country and the economy. The effects of labor arbitrage are beginning to be felt in a big way by American consumers.

    As an aside, I just got back from a "Black Friday" shopping expedition with my girlfriend. It was an unbelievable spectacle of the morbidly obese crowding the stores and shopping on command from shyster peddlers such as Wal-Mart and Target to buy the discount $200 TV set from China.

    People are literally participating in their own race to the bottom with nary a protest.

    The whole thing is enough to make me want to vomit.
    Thanks Henry - and, me too.

    I'm by stages furious about and depressed by the whole debacle.

    I think if I were 20 I'd leave this country and head for the most depopulated part of Australia I could get to ...

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    I forgot to add that every corporate fast food franchise parking lot was overflowing with the Obama and McCain voting masses gulping down quantities of fast food junk for quick energy to do more shopping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I was thinking about this the other day.

    For one thing, the form of capitalism we have now differs from the form that once prevailed in that the production of value - worthwhile things - now takes a back seat to a virulent form of rent-seeking. What I mean is that in the past, the conscious objective of most businesses (and the individuals who ran them, specifically) was to make a really good "x" (car, vacuum cleaner, whatever it might be) with the profits deriving naturally - but secondarily - from that. But today's vulture capitalism is all about maximizing the revenue stream first and foremost - to the point that even a few extra pennies of profit per unit are worth anything and everything else - from cheapening the product itself to the most vicious sorts of labor practices (outsourcing to foreign countries, etc.) in a headlong rush to the bottom (price-wise) in order to attenuate the profits uber alles that flow from this misery to a literal handful of shyster "investment class" types - who themselves rarely if ever produce a single worthwhile thing for the betterment of the economy or their fellow citizens.
    Yes. The question that these mega corps fail to answer is: "What is your motivation to be in business?" I would bet 99% could not give an honest answer, we would hear a lot of bull shit about corporate goals, etc, but no real substance. Because the true answer is: "To make money in every way possible."

    We have discovered that people will ruin their own social order, degrade their fellow man, all for cheap products at Walmart.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    An interesting contrast, "then" vs. "now" is Henry Ford vs. any of the current heads of a major US automaker. Ford was a self-taught engineer who venerated his product - the profits earned thereby secondary to the primary object of making something of value - cars. The life goal of Ford was not "making money" or "increasing shareholder value." It was building the Model T and the Model A and putting the average American behind the wheel of one. Ford got rich, but his workers also earned a living (and perpetually rising) wage and both they and Ford (and America) benefitted enormously from the process.
    From about 1995 on, I witnessed many of my clients (software) converting jobs - dumbing them down, replacing one quality employee with 1 1/2 or 2 part time employees. They pay them $12 - $14 an hr - minimal benefits - no health insurance. It works. The employees live at or near the poverty level, they are capative, and they fall back on the state (Minnesota, in my case) to provide medical assistance, eyeglasses, daycare, housing, you name it - someone else pays for it. The state in turn, goes to the federal government, and requests all sorts of money - like LRT - which in Minnesota is subsidized something like $14 a ride!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Today, the model is - grubbing for money. The cars themselves matter less than quarterly profits - and this has given us the short-term thinking and vicious, adversarial relationship between management and worker (and company and consumer) that has resulted in the virtual collapse of the industry (even while the top handful continue to bleed the system for millions in filched "earnings") and the dislocation of millions of average workers and the economy generally.
    Dislocation is a nice term. Millions of Americans have studied in trade schools and college to establish themseleves as 'experts', 'seasoned', 'skillful' workers. Only to have the rug pulled out from under them by a mismanaged economy, outsourced jobs, and a tsunami of illegal workers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    It seems to me that this disease has metastasized across our economy. We have gone from being a nation of builders and makers of things to a nation of wheedlers and shysters who don't produce anything - just flim-flam "finance" scams and the like. Thus an economy built on production and value has been hollowed out into a "consumer" economy built on debt and fraud.
    It seems that this awareness (We have gone from being a nation of builders and makers of things to a nation of wheedlers and shysters who don't produce anything) has happend overnight.

    It's amazing that Obama is elected, universal health care, cap & trade, huge deficit spending, have all come overnight.

    I don't think it's a coincidence - but rather it's been coming for sometime, but nobody really was aware of the situation. We must have been going towards complete surrender of personal power (socialism) for sometime, without knowing it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Many so-called conservatives and misguided Libertarians defend this as the "free market" - but it's anything but "free" or a "market." What we have is a system of corporate syndicalism, in which an elite of interchangeable big business and big government parasites strip the flesh off the productive economy for their own ends. In which earning an honest dollar via productive work is considered a fool's errand - and where the slickest shyster who figures out a way to wheedle average people out of their life savings is a kind of living god.... .
    My predicition is that this will kill virtually all the energy and gusto Americans once were famous for.

    Big business loves big government - and vice versa!

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