Thursday, June 21, 2007

Capitalism sucks

*This is going to be meandering, and probably not going to go anywhere, so if you keep reading, don't say I didn't warn you.

I just learned about the freegan movement. Basically, it seeks to minimize consumption and ones participation in a capitalistic system. I think this is an awesome idea, but hopelessly improbable. It'll probably go the way of the Hippie communes in a little while.

But some days, I really wish that I could join them. I wish I never had to touch another dollar, or look at numbers on paper representing some electronic money that I owe or have somewhere in the ether.

Last spring, I took microeconomics. The very first day in class, I'm sitting in the front row, my laptop open to faithfully type down the notes of the day. This was the class that was going to teach me how capitalism works: how current injustices are a result of a misapplication of capitalism, and are not inheirant to it. This was the class that was going to turn me from my godless socialist ways.

Okay, not really. I went into class thinking that this was a waste of a perfectly good hour that I could be sleeping. I had to take the class for my major. The first day of class, I was sitting in the front row waiting to take notes, but that's because I wanted to get the material, take the test, and not have to be there again.

First day the teacher's giving his lecture, saying that everyone in the United States is a capitalist, that no one is a socialist. I raise my little hand and say "No, I'm a socialist...There's a socialist party in the United States." I was duly ignored, like most of the time.

I stopped going, shortly after the forth class that made me want to chuck my laptop at the teacher. The entire CLASS is based on false premises, not the least of which being that people are inheirantly selfish.

One of the more interesting classes in my memory was when we were learning about the Prisoner's dilema. (Which I had already learned of in philosophy). For those of you unfamiliar (and too lazy to click over) the, short version of this story is that there are 2 prisoners, A and B. A or B can turn the other one in. If both keep silent, both go free. If one turns the other one in, the one who turned the other in goes free, the other one goes to jail for 10 years. If they both turn each other in, they both get 5 years.

So the teacher asks "What would you do in this situation?" After about 3 minutes of no one answering, I raise my hand.

"Did I do the crime?" I asked.
"That's not relevant to discussion." He answered.
"Yes it is" I said. "If I did the crime, I would confess. If I didn't, I wouldn't".
"Yeah, well confessing isn't an option" He said. "No one would confess"
"It is an option, and people confess all the time".
"Well, it doesn't work that way. Most people would implicate the other one".

I went back to my internet.

On the last day to drop, he invited everyone to come take a look at their grades. I went into his office.

The first thing he says is "Well, you haven't been attending classes, so you should think about dropping". He then looks at my grade and says "Oh, it seems you have a 92 in class...but it'd be higher if you started attending class".

I smiled, and said thank you.

Going back to my original title, I didn't learn much from class that I wasn't already aware of, but I did find out that capitalism really is the horrible, stupid philosophy that really does bring out the most selfish, greedy characteristics in human and rewards them.

51 Comments:

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Rhea said...

Capitalism is at the root of all evil, as you know.

 
At 3:51 AM, Blogger The Chief said...

Antigone, it's a pity your econ professor didn't do a better job of explaining capitalism to you. Particularly, that he didn't debunk the idea that it's immoral. You have a dollar. I have, let's say, an apple. You want an apple more than you want your dollar, I want your dollar more than I want my apple. So we trade. What could be immoral about that?

Oh, and regarding the Prisoner's Dillema? In most of the psychological studies done on college students in the '70s, they were never told what crime they were being accused of. If you had been one of those students suckered into the experiment all you would know was that you were dragged out of your home, taken to a police station interrogation room and had some intimidating guys in your face telling you that you were in serious trouble. Try to ask what the crime is and they bully you past it. All you know is that you'd better cooperate or you're going away for a long time. Maybe you'd be able to martyr yourself in the situation, but clearly you'd be one of the few.

That aside, I suspect that once you're out of college and have a few years under your belt supporting yourself--and also hopefully learn about a few cultures that have tried socialism, like Cuba and North Korea--you'll look at capitalism differently. As Winston Churchill said, "If you're not a liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you're still a liberal at 40, you have no brain."

 
At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chief, you need to check your quotes. The Winston Churchill one is false and states so on the official website.

http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=112

To quote the ACTUAL source:

""If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain." There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: "Surely Churchill can't have used the words attributed to him. He'd been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?""

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger The Chief said...

Fair enough, Anonymous, if Churchill didn't say it so be it. Hardly makes the quote itself invalid.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

the chief:

That exchange would work if a) you had the dollar and b) you weren't starving. In my next post, I'll explain why those "exchange" examples are overly simplisitic.

In the study you claim, that is more in line with the Milligram experiment, than game theory. It says that you have a high likelyhood of screwing over someone else to go along with authority. That doesn't say anything whatsoever about if you'll screw over someeone else for your own gain. (Personally, I always liked the Fisherman's tale as a better example of game theory).

And you know something? Fuck you. I support myself NOW. I go to work, I pay my bills, I pay my taxes. No one's paying my way through school. So screw that stupid homily about liberal and conservative: I was conservative when I was younger and became progressive when I saw how the world worked. May I never be that cynical again.

Cuba and North Korea are excellent examples of dictatorships, not socialism. You're either being extremely disingenious (which I suspect after seeing you in Hugo's) or you're really dumb. Don't expect me to believe that just because they call themselves something, doesn't make it so. Hell, Congo calls itself a "Republic" does that mean democracy doesn't work? Germany, Norway, France, heck even Canada to some degree are excellent examples of socialist programs working.

Capitalism works brilliantly for luxuries. Other than that, it rewards selfishness and greed. Are those really the traits we want to nurture?

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger The Chief said...

Ah, the famed civility of the left.

Oh, and dictatorship is the logical conclusion of socialism. If one citizen doesn't go along with a socialist agenda he gets threatened with his life (yes, even socialists paradises like Sweden and Canada do this. If you don't pay your taxes, they fine you. If you don't pay the fine, they imprison you. If you try to escape prison, they shoot you).

Capitalist countries do this to some degree as well, of course. A government's job--any government--is to take money from it's citizens and hassle them. The question is to what degree does a government do it, and for what reasons. Socialists do it more and more, for more and more reasons, until finally you end up with hellholes like the aforementioned Cuba and North Korea, the Old Soviet Union, Nazi German, etc, etc.

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Chief:

Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. You want civility? I suggest you stay at Hugo's, or the Happy Feminist, or any number of sites that have plenty of civility. One nobody blog on the internet is not representive of "the left" any more than you're representive of the libertarians.

Dictatorships are NOT the logical conclusion of socialism. Socialism is opposed to dictators. I'm glad to see you're real beef: you want to be a "Screw you, I got mine, I'm not giving it up" libertarian. That's real "civil" too, you know.

All those countrie you name are NOT socialist. They can't even be called communist.

I'm not polite to those who argue in bad faith, or those who act willfully ignorant.

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger The Chief said...

"One nobody blog on the internet is not representive of 'the left'"

Don't sell yourself short, Antigone! I think you're very representative of both the level of civility and the level of coherence and rational thought among leftists on the internet.

Oh, and BTW, Nazi Germany was most definitely a socialist state. The "Socialism" in "National "Socialism" is one clue. Here's another....

http://www.geocities.com/ibcpete/hitler_and_socialism.htm

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Chief, once again, just because someone calls themself something doesn't make it so. The Democratic Republic of Congo is not, Bush calls himself a fan of democracy and Nazi Germany was socialist in exactly the way black is white.

I am not "the left" and just because someone doesn't say "Fuck" doesn't make them civil. I happen to think that saying people with less money, the wrong race, or the wrong gender deserve less rights is uncivil, but apparently I'm in the minority. Saying people should truly be equal but expressing displeasure that isn't with some language that is considered "vulgar"? That of course is the epitome of uncivil.

 
At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chief, check your sources. This is a geocities site with poor spelling and no sources. This site = not a reputable source. If you try and use links at least have ones that are backed up by some documentation and facts. It’s really annoying to have to source check others work. I don't claim to know much about anything except my field, but I can tell when someone is blowing smoke out his/her ass.

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Graeme said...

National socialism is much different than socialism. The goal of socialism is to
destroy the state
National socialists strengthen it.

With capitalism, you are either a pimp, whore or a little of both. You might might enough money to become a pimp (there is usually always bigger pimps) but if you think being a pimp is wrong, you're fucked.

 
At 7:31 AM, Blogger Noumena said...

Fregans play a small but interesting role in a series of novels by Kim Stanley Robinson that I just finished reading. Good summer reading for an environmentalist-socialist.

In order, the titles are: Forty signs of rain, Fifty degrees below, and Sixty days and counting.

 
At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Randy said...

Whoa, kinda looks like you have something against Chad here. You've deleted his last 2 comments. Is he someone that you know?

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

No, I don't know Chad from Adam. He just didn't contribute anything to the thread, so I deleted them.

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Scotty said...

Lol, yeah I'm a first year undergraduate Engineer and we did the Prisoner's Dillema in one of our (compulsory) Economics classes. You're completely right with what you said - and our Economics (business studies) lecturer was full of the same BS that yours was.

 
At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who decides how to allocate necessary goods and services in Socialist society? How are these individuals determined to be more or less moral than others? Who decides how much "enough" is and to whom something is owed? Whether one is greedy or generous does not change the fact that individuals have different wants and needs and different ideas about accomplishing their goals. Does an even distribution of wealth equal justice? I'm not sure whether one becomes more conservative or liberal as one ages but I hope one becomes wise enough to realize financial gain has nothing to do with happiness or fulfillment. I have yet to hear anyone who is dying of a terminal disease ask for more money or stuff at their bedside. I think Churchill also said "women should stay at home and make babies" but then again that might have been the Fox network.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Dean said...

Seems to me that the communist are oftentimes the selfish ones, trying to tell the others what to think and why, I have seen little debate that is civil here,

Capitalism forces civility,

If you are not treated well by your employer you can leave, if you are not treated well by a company you are doing business with you can choose another, If an employee treats people bad they can be let go,,, All lead to learning, promoting and encouraging civil behavior,,, ( of course not all will learn there lesson or take advantage of the freedom that capitalism offers, most would simply like to complain, and force others to treat them as they see fit, rather than using the subtlety of the capitalistic mode to do the work for you,,, (i.e. not buying from a company you do not like.)

In communism, the central plan ( or local ) is more likely to limit choices, ( how could this NOT be, for when the planners are looking to maximize value of the workforce, would that not discourage creating competing brands, for remember competition is considered uncivil in marxist communism,) therefore if there is ONLY one choice, what is there to compel the individual to be civil, other than his own morality, ( remember that Religions must be controlled in order that communism can survive )

From Carl Marx Communist Manifesto I quote ("“There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.”)

Sure does not sound selfless or free to me,,,

So I ask and say, you truly do not believe in the system you
espouse or you would join or create a commune and prove it's worth then
people would see it's glory and would flock to join,,,

Oneida, New Lanark were tried, they again tried communes in the 60's they all fail short of an ever present police state to hold them together,,,

Yes Capitalism can Suck, however, it is still the best game in town,,,

FREEDOM is NOT FREE without ECONOMIC FREEDOM,,,

As it is in the USA you are a slave to the state for fully half the year, do you feel more or less free, how much more could you do with just 20% back, which would be a 40% increase in your net worth,

I do thank you for reading,,,

I trust that another 1000 words would not persuade any more than if I had written none,

Thank you anyways.
Dean

 
At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading a LOT about capitalism during the last few days and I don't even really know why... But, know I see myself learning a lot. In my opinion capitalism = greed. Plain and simply. More money is the end all be all. Screw the environment, we need more oil and the like. You have the "property" owners and then you have the "workers". The workers do most of the work for the smallest piece of the pie. Then the question becomes... How did one come to own so much "property" by raping and enslaving generations of people, white AND black! No all this wealth is passed down from generations. Talk about lazy, CEO's of the big corporations are the lazy ones. Making millions of dollars in stock options and the like, while factory workers churn out the "goods" for just enough money to get by. Oh so I am "free" to find a new job and endure the same BS treatment. No I am not "free". I am a slave to the wealthy FEW property owners... I work for little or nothing or I don't eat... Some of you people on both sides make thing sound a lot simpler than they are. There are shades of gray in between all that black and white you know?

By the way, great blog, I ran across it during my search for more information on capitalism. Some of this is stuff that I wish I learned while getting my MBA...

 
At 10:26 PM, Anonymous AdHoc said...

To the guy above, I couldn't agree with you more. The defenders of capitalism AND socialism make things out to be much MUCH simpler than they really are. So what if I have a choice in the matter of where I shop or where I work? When you have multi-billion dollar corporations who's main interest is to accumulate the maximum amount of monetary gains for themselves with the least amount of expenditure, I'm not going to get much better service from any of them. They will BOTH use the same business practices!!! Why should company A give it's workers and consumers better wages/products when company B is making much more money selling it's products at higher prices while offering it's workers less money? The most common answer would be "because company A would be more attractive, hence it would be the preferred choice of consumers." But NO, you see company B has a cheap labor force which allows it to make more product with less money, coupled with it's extensive advertising campaign, it renders company A's "good will" useless...

And even IF company A decided to continue with it's good will and it DID become successful, with the emergence of more competition, there will be a decrease in net profit, which will eventually FORCE the company to repeat the capitalist process. To protect their present sales and hopefully make more profit companies are forced to invest money in extensive advertising, research, development, and technology, which all costs money. This money comes from the reduction of labor cost.

In the end, why should the super rich care about the majority when they're living the high life, no one will stop them, and they're not required to act on a moral basis? Morals are subjective, but most can agree what is naturally looked on as fair and unfair when it comes to the benefit of group...If you believe that it is ok for the rich and powerful to keep feeding off the poor without giving back anything noticeable then go ahead and continue your "free, self-interested" society...

Libertarians argue that nothing is wrong with self-interest (the main driving force behind capitalism), which I whole-heartily agree with, as long as that self-interest doesn't depend on you being a greedy bastard who isn't satisfied with the wealth of having a successful corporation and needs to have an entire monopoly based on figures as icing on the cake. When no amount of money is enough, and no venture in obtaining it is too low...

Don't get me wrong, like I said, Socialism is not much better, and often it is worse. I agree with all of you who criticized socialism, mainly the chief. There IS such a thing as honor, respect, and pride in life, and material comfort isn't everything. It's only because of the mass propaganda of today that this greedy, over consumptive and degenerate society flourishes.

There is no individual without society as much as there is no society without the individual...
To end it all, I'm not some poor lazy unwilling worker. I go to school and can support myself. This is not a resentment I have for capitalism, but only the obvious problem created by such a system...

 
At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it was Adam Smith that coined the metaphor "Invisible Dick". The invisible dick that rapes us all invisibly in the ass by greedy capitalist. However, capitalism in it's essence is that greed brings forth good in society. In Adam Smith's metaphor "Invisible Dick".. The dick that is fucking us helps us realize that even though the pain is there it actually is good for us. After a bit our minds wrap around this idea of ass fucking as good thing and it soon becomes a pleasurable necessity of life. After a bit, we shape our lives around fucking each other in the ass in both business and personal life.

Soon, we raise are glasses to greed and realize everyone that doesn't work is lazy and are fucking evil bile creatures that deserved to be killed. These non-producers that will not work for the ass fucker are the unwilling and will be hunted down because they find no reward in working in a greedy, materialistic, pointless dull life. Their family turns on them and believes they are crazy and sends them to a mental health facility run by capitalist. Soon, the unwilling worker has his ass injected with all sorts of drugs produced from greedy ass fucking companies. After hours and hours of torturous mental conditioning by economics teachers and indoctrination from books especially "Wealth of Nations". The psychotic unwilling unemployed patient becomes delusional and believes that ass fucking is the only way to obtain an understanding and a meaning to life. He is discharged and climbs the ladder very quickly at a very successful investment company. Goldman Sachs.. After a few years, he becomes president of Goldman Sachs and finds quickly how good it is to ass fuck those little ants at the bottom. Years later, sitting on his yacht in the Carribean Sea watching his television on deck and driving golf balls - a huge rogue wave knocks him off the boat. The wave drives him from his boat quite some distance and he realizes he can make it back but it will take quite some time.

After a few hours, he makes it almost to the boat when from behind him comes a speeding boat with a bunch of poor 3rd worlders who have had years of torture under capitalism. Finally, they spot him in the water and the captain of the boat realizes that the man in the water is in danger and needs help because the man in the water seems exhausted. Instantly, the captain starts thinking.. Hmmmm.. I need to pull this man from the water he may die if I do not. However, the captain has had quite the hard life - years growing up in a family with little food while rich people around him had plenty but spared nothing. He sees the man in the water and still does feel some compassion and has a innate desire to help him because he knows it could be painful to die in the water. Finally, the captain thinks about the years under such a harsh life and remembers taking economics class about how "self-interest" is key in all affairs. The captain instantly sees pure gain in this situation and decides.. Hmmmm..fuck this rich asshole I am going to steal this huge fucking yacht and sell this baby for some money because hey after all its all about me fuck this guys life. So, the captain leaves the man in the water and steals his yacht. Both boats take off and leave the man to die a fun death at sea. Meanwhile, the man fighting for his last bit of strength to stay afloat thinks about a gigantic invisble dick entering his ass again. He soon realizes no matter how high you rise there is always that invisble dick that fucks you.. Thanks to capitalism.. Remember it is always about gain .. mmmm mmmm.. Good..

 
At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I am poor and lazy right now mainly because I really do not give a flying crap to do my part. I look at it this way it is great that most of you want to get up and work for me and do your part. I am glad that you feel so proud that you are working so hard for me. Well, I watch TV and read papers, blogs, and other news sites to realize how wrong everything is. It just allows me more time to realize I really do not care about contributing to any of it. I did my part a few years back and the older I grew the more cynical I became of the whole mess of humanity.

I could sit here trying to debate capitalism vs socialism or some other form of political/economical model. However, there are many that would point out how wrong I am. To me capitalism is about vanity and pride of the individual to show how much harder they can work than others. I don't care to argue the point but I will state my opinion on how much I really do not care to support it or even be part of it. I look at it this way.. If I only could of been born in another time outside of capitalism life maybe live would seem more fulfilling. I did the whole sports car, nice pad and lots of money thing but after a life changing moment I realized how all of that really doesn't matter or do anything for me. I could accumulate all the wealth in the world and realize how much it really didn't change my feelings of the world. I guess for some though they love control, money and other things that capitalism brings in a wealthy man's life. However, I will admit there are times I feel unhappy because I desire something material from the capitalism world but then in the end realize how pointless it is to desire something that really brings me nothing at the end of the day.

I could have 100 Ipods, 55" plasma TV, Xbox, Playstation 3.. On and on.. really if I did have it I wouldn't be any happier than I was before having those things. Honestly, beneath the surface I am searching for something and I think there is more to this life than all the politics, economics, or science could tell us about any day. I always tell people here we are in a world we know nothing about, a reality we really have little understanding of, and recognize we are existing on some form.. but all we care about is building models of life that support materialism.. I think any form of a system should support something that allows us to work together for searching for answers, build humanity in a positive direction, allows people to work together and understand each other (instead of competing), allows people to feel compassion and maybe even understand loving one another.. However, I guess that is too advanced for such a primitive civilization that touts its technical accomplishments and watches an atomic bomb kill 100,000's of innocent people that were not directly involved with fighting. We seem to have a love for the material things that brings misery more than we have love for our fellow earthly fellow. I think when we all realize we live on the same planet we can realize what is the point of fighting over the same thing. At the end of the day we are not fighting for resources but fighting for who is better than the other.. We are fighting for status to be on the top and really what is that doing for us at the end of the day.. Nothing.. In the end we all die the same way .. Our life's just end and all the hard work seems pointless.. All the scratching, clawing and yelling to climb to the top seems pointless in the end because we realize on our death beds.. It is all pointless.. striving for money just brings misery and emptiness.. It might feel out pockets but something deep down still fills unfulfilled.. At least to me it does..

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger solerso said...

Casssandra and annonymous, thanks for the great real life common sense retortts to the phoney "apple/dollar" exchange parables, and whimsical winston churchill stand up comendy defenses of capitalism. capitalism is a transitional system which cannot be sustained. in the year 2009 it has become a kind of cult. it will destroy itself certainly, is coming to the final stage, and what sane people should be doing is just what we are doing. learning about the nature of the animal, talking to each other about it and trying to come up with reforms that will cushion the inevitable crash of that old, barbaric economic system, so it dosent hurt too many of us when it falls.

 
At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have not read all the comments, but I am a Socialist and I would like to clear some things up.

Socialism is just the idealogy, in which the workers organize themsleves, and wehere everyone works hard toward one collective goal, that state. If everyone works hard everyone benefits, not just the worker. The reaso that everything is nationailized, is becuase that way a handfull of people don't soak up the money for their own personal gain.

In Socialism, all basic needs would be provided by the government. Becuase there would be an alienation of trade, all prices are relative. This means that currency and prices only depend on what it costs to produce items within the state.

Regaurding the fact countried like China claim they are left, it entirley angers me. If you called a dog a chair, would it make it a chair? Countried like Cina still have more than one class, still have private enterprise, etc. The fact that they call themselves communism, only reflects bad on Socialism itself.

The chief, let me ask you this:
Does Captilism take care of you, does it provide you your basic necesities?
Does it allow you to purchase commodities at low prices, because of teh fact the prices are only relative to what it pays to produce them?

And, last of all, when people, like Bill Gates make money, how do you benefit?

(Sorry for jumping around on each topic, for it is quite late and I am tired. I agree , this post may seem a bit week, but later, if I remember, I will continue)

 
At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't read very much of your article or the responses I can tell very quickly that you, the people who commented on the article and all that have tried to explain this idea to you are very confused and have bad concepts of money and value. I would like to talk to you more so if you would like to learn about capaitalism, I'm not telling you an opinion I'm telling you factually and logically how economics works, I would be glad to tell you.
My aim account is aaronruiob

This offer is open to all are confused about... literally anything

 
At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Wes said...

As an economics major and a socialist I sympathize with the OP's views, though I found her comments to the Chief to be a little on the rude side.

The problems with the models you are shown in economics class are

1. The models only reflect increases in overall wealth, not the distribution of wealth. A tax will almost always result in a loss of output and overall wealth, but if that tax distributes money to those who can put more use to it, then society is better off. Is it better for one guy to have 2 million dollars or for 1.5 million to be divided up between 100 people. I think most people would see the latter as more beneficial, and the extremely basic economic models (except the MPC/MPS in the basic Keynesian model) don't reflect where the money goes.

2. Expanding on the first point, econ professors don't tell you how pervasive monopoly power is.
Examples of companies with heavy monopoly power (not necessarily pure monopolies though)
* Microsoft (MS office/Windows/Xbox)
* Apple (OSX/Iphone ... and the iphone is a significant example as it an exclusive platform for some applications)
* Debeers (diamonds)
* Gas Stations in locations without many gas stations
* Healthcare (this is more of a cartel situation)
* A lot of local electric companies
* Any product/service that is differentiated ... as long as it doesn't have perfect substitutes is has monopoly power

Monopoly power not only creates deadweight loss (econ term for lost money/productivity) but also eliminate consumer surplus, and moves money to the producer (who tends to be rich in the first place)

The double bind is that without monopoly power as an incentive we probably wouldn't see as many products put out.

3. Capitalism can't produce unique things ... and when it tries you end up with a monopolistic situation. Imagine if the electric company that builds the power lines are the only ones that can use them. We would end up with tons of power lines all over the place for every competing company and/or a monopoly situation where everyone gets gouged. This is why local governments regulate power lines and allow all companies to use them to encourage competition. Also there is only one interstate highway system and I don't want more than one, this is where government is good, really good.

 
At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capitalism truly is evil. It promotes walking over everyone and everything you can to make the most money and destroy all of your competitors. Screw workers, if they try to unionize and increase their wages, fuck and fire them all. Screw the environment. You want to see how Captalism doesn't work? Learn about the Gilded Age in American history. The top 90% of the wealth was owned by the top I believe 5% of the population. Do you know how messed up that is? Communism doesn't work either, but it isn't nearly as bad as Capitalism.

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger George said...

You had to tell to your teacher about Plato's story of the prisoners in the cave, and how wonderful it was when one of them escaped and saw the truth about earth, above the ground. That prisoner also had 2 choices, either to go back into the cave and lead everyone to the truth and eventually freedom or go on with his pathetic life and die alone!

 
At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Nico said...

What a great exchange of ideas happening here. Nice blog.

To the anonymous poster on the "Invisible Dick" - that is totally how people come around to capitalism. I liked your writing.

Anytime an entity other than yourself is 'allowed' to tell you what to do, no matter what you call it, it is BS.

I think more than ever, we need to take a lesson from the animals. Even though their self-interest comes about in their need for survival, they operate on an individual level, and they don't dominate each other. Even the most carnivorous ones don't enslave the rest of the populace with seemingly impenetrable systems of control.

You absolutely can not count on a society - any system - to guarantee your freedom. They are only good at taking those away. You have to take it on an individual level. An animalistic one, even. And when I say that, I just mean understand your biological needs - even the social, community and family ones - and don't let big intimidating pricks get in your way.

 
At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good blog .. your prisoner example reminds me of the same dilemma faced by two Russian guards I watched standing at the war memorial on the strasse by the Brandenburg gate in Berlin in 1982 . The Guards could break and run to the WEST -- (the Teirgarten) 70 yards away but the other might shoot them ... and so the dilemma . The guards were chosen from different regiments so 1) does guard A shoot guard B and run or vice versa?
2) does Guard A run and Guard B doesn't shoot .. ( unlikely)
3)maybe they hold hands and run spontaneously.. you know --like gay guards-- (unlikely in macho Russian army)
Well Guards did run and Guards were shot but some did make it.
In the real world all possibilities are tried . cheers

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger SLC_LP said...

As a reformed leftist and someone sitting at his computer literally trying to find a, coherent, negative critique on capitalism for nothing more than my own amusement.I stumbled upon this and thought it might be fun to leave my first comment ever.

Anyone who cannot see the contributions that "capitalism" and America have given to the world, just isn't looking. History is literally full arguments to support this.

And rather than argue with comments who's writers obviously have a limited knowledge of economics and history, or post books and research material that you will surely not read. I would like to take a different approach.

Has it ever occurred to any of you that human beings, being nothing more that complex collections of cells, could never do anything that wasn't natural or exactly what they were supposed to? Have you ever thought that if we some how could that would make us, essentially, god? I know it's simplistic but think about it.

Now with this frame of reference I would like to suggest that capitalism is only natural, because how could it not be? Does it occur to any of you that Humans are the only species that even thinks twice about killing or exploiting. I believe this to be an evolutionary characteristic, seeing as we are currently the only species capable of destroying the world, designed as a safety mechanism.

I guess my closing statement is that anyone who wouldn't work for your own best interest, and keep in mind that can be interpreted a number of different ways, isn't morally superior or enlightened they are just dumb.

 
At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah capitalism sucks and makes people do terrible things like exploiting others, destroying nature, slowing technological progress and a lot more. but i think the main problem is in human nature. its sad but i think that humans are sworn to destroy themselves one day or another. anyway thats my opinion and since i smoke too much weed it problably isnt worth a shit :P

btw sry for my bad english

 
At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest most intelligent liberals...I have learned to never discuss anything meaningful with any conservative. Remember, they are self-serving, so therefore unless they are talking to themselves, they will never take the time to listen to anything you would have to say. Don't waste your precious time.

 
At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many pseudo scientific jobs and services that have been invented just so that people can pay mortgages and buy gasoline - that now everyone is basically full of shit.

 
At 7:29 PM, Anonymous godspeed2048 said...

@TheChief

Defenders of capitalism love to invoke their economics professors.

Economics professors' sole purpose in the capitalist economy is to indoctrinate young people with irrelevant preschool BS about 'trading apples for dollars'. All the while ignoring important issues like social stratification.

 
At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capitalism can't afford to do what mankind needs to do to survive. by the end of this year, we could have 7 billion people on the planet. Nature's balance can only support just under 1 billion. Utilizing the technology we've created (with our capitalistic approach), we COULD create a new 'balance' that is sustainable, but we MUST get rid of capitalism to do it; because the greed component of capitalism is what is now killing the planet, while simultaneously making the building of a sustainable habitat completely unprofitable (hence impossible).

Nobody seems to 'want' to give up their slice of the pie (especially here in canada) so that someone else can share in it.....at least not till 'someone else' goes first. Well.......I HAVE GONE FIRST!!! now it's your turn. one pound of effort will not stop a runaway train, but 7 billion pounds could. Here in Canada, we are well fed and strong. We could easily put in 100 pounds of effort each, to make up for the ones weakened by the poverty WE created.





From my perspective, capitalism has destroyed what i need most (compassion). My need for psychotherapy goes unmet thanks to the 'concept' of 'making a buck'. The industry seemingly attracts the lazy and greedy. Psychiatry is worse. It see to be in the pocket of drug companies. DRUGS DON'T WORK!!! I am stuck between a rock and a hardplace. Even 'spiritual' help costs money...because everyone needs to 'survive' in this crazy f'd up world.

I see an increasingly individualistic society that tramples upon those that falter in their struggle to 'keep up' to the jones'. They are labeled and discarded. Barely recognized as everyone busily scratches out 'thier' living.

I see the concept of profit as 'taking something you didn't earn'. For every 'gain' SOMEONE has to lose. There is only so much to 'take' in this world. It has a very definable limit. For one to take more than they deserve means another gets less. It seems so simple to me and so moronic.

I worked hard to instill this in my stepkids before my ex robbed me of my 'nestegg' and family. I feel very successful today, even though i am broker than broke and utterly alone.

I was raised in a capitalistic 'family' that today i am an outcast from, and i rejoice in it. It allowed me to see the world without blinders or rose colored glasses.

Money/capitalism certainly had it's place to get us (humans) to where we are......but it's not the way any more. Mankinds time to 'evolve' is here. What will we do?


dystopia ... where i live now
utopia ..... where i'd like to live

pardon me if my 'rant' has offended or bored anyone. I'm relatively new to this medium called blogging.

 
At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was browsing a blog (http://lorla.com/bill-gates-financial-facts/)and found some interesting stats about Bill Gates' financial situation. It seems unfair, in my mind, that he should 'sit' on such wealth, while allowing the 'masses' to cover debt, that mostly HE (and his) profited from. In other words, the money the gov borrows somehow seemed to 'end up' in his pocket. If he (and other's) hadn't sucked that money out of the economy, then there simply wouldn't be any debt. Taxes would be based on 'needs' instead of 'interest rates'. Governments intent when making decisions would be based on what's best for humanity, instead of basing it on Bill Gates (and other's, including pension funds) investments in some company that believes more in 'profit' than in 'ecology' or 'humanity".

 
At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what can i say....
capitalism suck , the world is stuck.
Every Country should be self sufficient, preserve resources, not destroy it just for money, the feeling of rich never lasts. The goal for capitalism now is to eat other countries resources, with money they had sucked from there own resources. We should all learn to clean up our own backyard..arrrghhh capitalism make me want to sH*t on it..
..

 
At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Dave said...

Great post!

@ The Chief

Capitalism isn't as simple as apples and dollars! Lobbyists who spend billions to squeeze out competition and corporate corruption add a whole new complicated dimension to today's capitalism.

As a whole, capitalism does breed selfishness and greed. As you said: it's about what we want as individuals. Not what others' need or want. That's greed! Both selfishness and greed are needed to make the whole capitalistic system work. If you're into that, okay then.

But capitalism has gotten it's well-deserved tarnished image because of the corporate culture and the "winner-take-all" mentality of too big to fail companies. Capitalism is about profiteering--more, more, more. Yet more is never enough! And to corporations that often means immoral and underhanded dealing and marketing. After all, the goal is to make more. Just take a look at labor offshoring and the recent jump in product recalls for example. Use cheap labor, produce cheap products... then deal with the outcome later or deny later on.

Only problem is, a system like that can't sustain itself for too long without collapse! People will begin to demand that "capitalism-gone-wild" be tamed.

BTW, countries like Cuba and North Korea aren't socialist countries, they are flat-out communist regimes. There is a difference! For examples of real working, and even thriving socialist systems, look no further than many successful European countries.

 
At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capitalism hampers technological progress, and should be banished.

 
At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Greedy Man said...

Well come to Corporate Capitalism.
Still want to get paid? Work for it!
2 Cents a month! You can't run cause if you do you either be homeless or I'll buy your land out.

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger Jennings said...

Why do people think they are entitled to somebody elses property because the need it. Example: I have an apple, you have 100.00, I will trade the apple for 100.00, it's my apple if you don't like it buy someone elses. I don't have to sell it if I don't want to. It can rot in my cellar for all the good it will do me. You are not entitled to the apple.

 
At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Jennings said...

Why do people think they are entitled to somebody elses property because the need it. Example: I have an apple, you have 100.00, I will trade the apple for 100.00, it's my apple if you don't like it buy someone elses. I don't have to sell it if I don't want to. It can rot in my cellar for all the good it will do me. You are not entitled to the apple.


----

I guess what I never understood about fools like Jennings is...

Why go through all the trouble of being greedy? Its not like they can take the money to the grave with them. Oh- keep it in the family... that's how rich get rich and poor stay poor.


In retort to your post:


1. Because your hand is on it doesn't mean you own it. Even if you think you own it- so what?

And people wonder why some steal from others... because

2. Your price is too high.

3. Your shop is probably paying minimum wage and you are turning 500% profit. When you should only be making 150% profit with the rest going to others you are not selfless enough to offer to charity, non profits, etc.

3. Your selfishness is going to land you in hell one day. Glad I don't have your problem.


Lets count how many times people have become overthrown because of their greed- in any industry or government. There are too many to count.



How is it self centered people have no compassion or concern for others? How is it they become so self centered?

Lack of faith in God is one aspect, and is the biggest problem me thinks.


Anyway.

Its folks like you that would sell $2 soup cans for $20 in a food shortage. And they would be sitting on the shelves while your windows are broken and people are raiding your store.


The world simply needs to go back to bartering where money denominations are not needed. Taking greed out of solution is the only way. The only other option is to regulate at least the US economy. My 2c.


I feel Jesus wanted socialism or at least some sort of bartering to continue even in today's age- he was very much against the tax collectors and the rich who had no mercy for the poor.

As it was written anyway.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 6:24

 
At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Additionally:

Why shouldn't lay people, construction and blue collar folks have some of the finer things in life or at the least not have to struggle barely paying monthly bills while banks rip them off on mortages?

Why should the US economy have to suffer while half of the 'global market investors' are american and simply shitting on their own soil.

The rich seem to think they are better than everyone else. That no one should have their property. Funds some themselves have 'stolen' and they know it.

How many wars has this world gone through, because of such greed? 3000+ y-e-a-r-s.

The biggest fault with captialists and the rich is- that they are too blind to see that they are as human as everyone else- and no better than anyone else. That there are no levels of status that they try to put on other people.


Hey Jennings.

You own your apple, I'll throw in a hanky. Someone just threw it on you to wear since its 'your property'.

 
At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you a violent person? Would you impose your will at the point of a gun or threat of violence? If not, then your socialist utopia can never take hold because it relies on violence to get people like me to do what you want me to do (apparently because doing what I want would be "selfish").

If you would use violence to get your way then I commend your honesty but condemn your value system. You should never initiate force to get what you want.

 
At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a capitalist, libertarian, hard working, smart, curious, do my best to do the right thing, happy person. I typed "capitalism sucks" into Google and came across this website. Reading these arguments is causing me to feel a sense of both pity and fear. It's kind of like the feeling you get when you see a person who has been abused all of their life, you feel bad for the person but you also know that they are more likely to abuse others. You pity their situation but you fear what they may do so, you generally want to keep them at arms length. For those who don't want to trade freely with others (i.e., non-capitalists), I feel pity because I know they will rarely have the happiness that I have. At the same time, they scare me because I know that they will enslave me into their socialist agenda at every turn. In fact, they're (or you are) 40% successful already in the sense that I am forced to give up about 40% of my life to the collective in order to have my 60% free and wonderful life. Please leave me and my family alone.

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

I keep hearing this crap about how libertarians object to the government because it's from "the barrel of a gun". This is something that is just rank hypocrisy.

Where do you think the ability to have private property comes from? The government, us of the same people, with the same guns, enforce that will against those who would steal it. Those who have money keep money with the threat of force. Our labor is constantly undervalued because "Something" will get us through the day when "nothing" will not. Contract among equals is a lie that keeps getting repeated. "Trading freely" means you have to have the ability to say "No", something that most people don't have.

In libertarian "utopia" land, it would be more people with the same (or bigger) guns, and if you don't believe me, take a look at failed states.

You are a privileged twit who can't look beyond your own stuff.

 
At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robespierre had the best policy concerning capitalists; cut their fucking heads off in public.

 
At 2:14 AM, Anonymous System Crash said...

Great blog entry. We require comprehensive solutions to the fundamental problems we face as a result of the crisis of capitalism. The time is long overdue to question the system itself, and we on the left must develop the underpinnings of serious political activism if we are to realize any lasting positive change.

The following forum is rife with excellent analyses:

http://www.socialistphalanx.com/forum

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, some kind of grassroots "evolutionary" option to replace capitalism is doomed to failure or if it succeeds it would take centuries. People need help now. The exploitation needs to end sooner rather than later. The only way to get there is through the coercive power of a democratically-elected government.

Capitalism was never a fair or decent or non-coldblooded system. It's just that back in the 1950s when there were labor unions representing about a third of the private sector workforce, fighting for a less exploitative wage for their members and (gasp!) actual benefits, it was LESS unfair and LESS egregious of a failure for the average person. Unions have a ripple effect in that it scares non-unionized business owners/shareholders into decreasing the level of exploitation of their own workers to try to avoid the fate of becoming a unionized business. Unions were greatly represented in the manufacturing sector.

Nowadays with an anemic manufacturing sector and unions representing less than 7% of the private sector workforce it has become open season on the working man and woman, who have increasingly little leverage to effect a better wage and benefits for themselves as anyone with common sense knows that 1 person bargaining with a corporation or even against a small business for that matter has NO clout. A predominantly service sector economy with hardly any union workers makes for a very dismal, very exploitative range of job possibilities for the average worker or average prospective worker. In the service sector the worker is eminently replaceable, hence unions have gained very little traction there. And things seem to be getting worse instead of better.

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But unions or no unions, under a capitalist economic model the average worker IS GOING TO BE EXPLOITED to a greater or lesser degree, period. Capitalism simply cannot function without that huge gap between a worker's value added and a worker's wage because 1.the business owner/shareholders wouldn't be able to afford their overhead costs and 2.the business owner isn't going to be making a profit, meaning he or she isn't going to bother to remain a business owner for long. So let's not sugarcoat it and let's all have guts enough right now to admit the obvious: capitalism = exploitation of everyone who does not possess the capital to be able to exploit others.

The capitalism versus state socialism/communism debate is possibly the biggest false choice ever given to mankind. We are made to think that if you don't like capitalism then the only other alternative is something like the Soviet Union where the government literally owns all the productive assets, then they trot out the litany of abuses and failings of the horrid Soviet-style economy, the bread lines, the scarcity, the sameness, the lack of motivation to do a better job et cetera et cetera. Then they fold their arms smugly as if they just proved capitalism is the only option as communism is such a clear failure.

That is like telling someone that their only 2 options are to be hanged or to be mauled to death by wolves, then when they choose hanging saying "See? Being hanged is great! It's the only way to go!" and totally ignoring the third option, continuing to live rather than being put to death. An extreme comparison but a valid one considering how different and how ignored the third option is. And it certainly is NOT some kind of in-between part-capitalism part-communism option.

The other option beyond capitalism and communism is a combination of the best aspects of socialism and anarcho-syndicalism and is what the future world will look like. It will be a popular government whose goal is to better the lives of its citizens, the vast majority of its citizens, not a tiny select elite class that owns everything. But it will itself own few of the productive assets, only those directly related to the health and well-being of the citizens, i.e. the health care industries, finance and energy which would be run as non-profits for the public good. The rest of the businesses would be in the hands of their workers, directly. The government would use its coercive powers of legislation, taxation and when necessary the police and military to effect the transfer of the ownership of the productive assets out of the hands of exploitative business owners and shareholders and into the hands of the only people who will not exploit the workers, i.e. the workers themselves. They would have as much right to do this as they would to take an abused child away from their abusive parents, as much of a right as they would have to confiscate a snake oil salesman's snake oil. This is the ONLY WAY to prevent the mass exploitation of the average person, our children and grandchildren. Direct worker ownership of the businesses, achieved by a popularly elected government that is transparent and accountable to the people at large through recall elections up to and including the president, and having a unicameral legislature is the answer that makes capitalism and Soviet-style state socialism look like dinosaurs. Time for the people who do the work that makes the profits to actually benefit from it. Time for them to have some incentive to do more than the bare minimum because unlike with capitalism (or state socialism) they would have the incentive as they would be a part owner in addition to being a worker. The answer is obvious. Put capitalism in a museum next to Soviet communism. The world needs to move beyond it. Wage slavery that benefits a tiny sliver of the population by exploiting everyone else in varying degrees is pretty far from the best that humanity can do.

 
At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah capitalism suck balls because it's a piece of crap system full of flaws, greed and grub. I'd rather take the beneficial aspects of it and go lead a descent life at best instead... I don't care.

 

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