How best to manage the means of production - Page 2 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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As either the transitional stage to communism or legitimate socio-economic ends in its own right.
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#14603760
bug wrote:But in a cooperative the "succes" is not private, thats the whole point of it.
I didnt knew the football team was a coop, gonna research it, thnks


I fear the situation is much more complicated than that.

A true "co-op" is almost always created to be a kind of collective endeavor with an internal, not an external, focus. Co-ops of farmers who combine their grains for storage and sale, for example, or co-ops of foodies who band together to reduce their food costs by buying in bulk, or co-op day care centers that cater to working folks. In the latter two cases, volunteerism is the rule, while in the first case co-ops are often run by professionals who are accountable to the "owners".

Employee ownership is quite different, and is invariably professionally run. Here's a list of the top ones: https://www.nceo.org/articles/employee-ownership-100. Note how small they all are. None has more than 200,000 employees, and only one has more than 30,000. In almost all cases again, the "ownership" isn't a happy band of employees who all back-slap one another at yearly meetings, but ESOPs. Few are entirely employee-owned. The model just isn't workable for large companies, and isn't even workable for many smaller ones.

Note as well that few of these are pre-eminent in their fields. Being a "part-owner" is satisfying, but it's no guarantor of success, financial or otherwise.
#14603794
I fear the situation is much more complicated than that.
It is, but it doesn't have to be.
A true "co-op" is almost always created to be a kind of collective endeavor with an internal not an external, focus. - farmers who combine their grains for storage and sale, for example, or co-ops of foodies who band together to reduce their food costs by buying in bulk, or co-op day care centers that cater to working folks.
These examples don't NEED much external focus, that doesn't mean co-ops are incapable of it.
run by professionals who are accountable to the "owners"
and perfectly capable of being as external as any capitalist management team.
Employee ownership is quite different, and is invariably professionally run. Here's a list of the top ones: http://www.nceo.org/articles/employee-ownership-100. Note how small they all are. None has more than 200,000 employees, and only one has more than 30,000.
They have to live in a hostile environment with bloated capitalists using every economic and political trick possible to eliminate them as competition. As far as size goes, small can be better. Management is simplified and more attention can be devoted to local and environmental considerations. Co-ops can form their own confederations if it's necessary or helpful to present a unified front of larger dimension.
In almost all cases again, the "ownership" isn't a happy band of employees who all back-slap one another at yearly meetings, but ESOPs. Few are entirely employee-owned. The model just isn't workable for large companies, and isn't even workable for many smaller ones.
If you mean by "workable" that they must contend with hostile banks and cut throat competitors, you're correct. This problem should be considerably relieved under socialist authority. Aside from that there isn't anything intrinsically "unworkable." A co-op can use the same management model as any capitalist company ... without any pressure to screw it's employees in favor of profits. ESOPs often feature "limited" employee ownership, established in the private ownerships interest, and don't serve as an applicable example when envisioning a socialist environment. They're a compromise at best and simple exploitation at worst.

Also worthy of consideration is the track record co-ops have established. They almost always succeed and tend to be exceptionally long lived. They may not rise to prominence or dominate their market, but they aren't intended to. They're intended to provide an alternative to the inflated costs and exploitive policies imposed by capitalistic despotism and corporate disinterest.

It should be noted that the GREEN BAY PACKERS, while municipally owned, are a capitalistic endeavor, definitely intent on generating profits ... AFAIK, they have consistently done so.

Zam
#14603871
Perhaps what we need here is a definition of "capitalism". There are multiple ones, and it's easy to lose track. I sense that yours is somewhat idiomatic, perhaps "people who seek to eliminate others through economic means". I'm not as cynical about it as you are. Capitalism in the sense of competing economic units do not create competition, but do harness and encourage it. One of the major risks of a market system is that the players must be constrained, because unfettered competition leads ultimately to the Mafia. When libertarians of my acquaintance spout adherence to what they call a "free market", I remind them that truly free markets are rarely things to be proud of: Somalia is but one example.

Likewise, it's best to define "socialism", perhaps as "ownership of units by employees or government entities". Here I am more dubious than you are that any kind of socialism is a panacea. I see it working in very limited circumstances, just as communism works for the Hutterites but rarely otherwise. And by working, I mean having sustainable traction over time. The problems with employee ownership are many - employees are not automatically motivated to work any harder, there are still free-riders, and employees may not have sufficient business experience to run one in a competitive industry and may insist on too much salary or other benefits. Government ownership has its advantages, but it too suffers from high risk.

Scale matters in business and economics. What works for small companies in limited circumstances won't work at a bigger size. It's not that it hasn't been tried, it's that natural forces prevent it. When I see someone pitching a new plan for something that's been done by humans for thousands of years, I'm automatically dubious. Most everything has been tried at some point in human history; there are no really new ideas in business dynamics. Some ideas have worked, albeit only under particular circumstances. It does little good to rail against these successful models, because they're never going away simply by wishing them to. If there are markets in a modern world, they'll come to be dominated by a few players who will contrive to both compete and prevent competition. It is more than likely. It is inevitable. Everything we know about economics tells us this. Every study, every examination and analysis, tells us that this is the pattern. Wishing it otherwise is futile. Experimentation into other forms has resulted in precious little.

Take ownership, for example. Splitting an enterprise into pieces has been done for thousands of years in various forms. The most prevalent is the simple partnership, where each partner contributes his or her own part, with few or no employees or contractors. Again, size matters. By the time this enterprise grows to significant heights, it must have workers who neither want to be partners, nor would have the skills to be worth a partnership.

In sum, capitalism is not a disease but just one more method of distributing resources. It must be held in check lest it destroy lives or an entire economy, but it's not inherently any worse than socialism's ills.
#14603876
taltom wrote:Perhaps what we need here is a definition of "capitalism". There are multiple ones, and it's easy to lose track. I sense that yours is somewhat idiomatic, perhaps "people who seek to eliminate others through economic means". I'm not as cynical about it as you are. Capitalism in the sense of competing economic units do not create competition, but do harness and encourage it.
We do disagree, I wouldn't consider myself cynical about it ... Capitalism is competitive, often excessively so. It's so competitive that anti-trust legislation, corporate and securities regulation, and vocal opposition is required. This isn't cynicism, it's realism, and it's not easily countered with idealistic platitudes.

In sum, capitalism is not a disease but just one more method of distributing resources. It must be held in check lest it destroy lives or an entire economy, but it's not inherently any worse than socialism's ills.
With this I agree completely, Value judgments seldom have any social value. Capitalism is a necessary phase in human development. My personal opinion is that it will continue to be a necessity until humans migrate into space. I think at that point it will rapidly become obsolete and an anachronism that survives only as a benign tradition.

So... all you little socialist/communist boys and girls out there, start thinking about the opportunities that Co-op Industrial Space Platforms, Orbital Habitats, and Lunar colonies represent !

Zam
#14603980
quetzalcoatl wrote:Worker-controlled and -owned enterprises.

Now we're talking about an actual model. Finally an interesting discussion about communism with a plausible model, thank you.

To be most effective they would have to be units of less than 250 people.

But how would you prevent them to grow larger? And how would you address projects so complex that they require much more people? The government? But not all of those projects are of public interest at start: Facebook and others are useless in my eyes but they gave birth to complex infrastructures that are turning operations at this scale into a mere commodity.

These mini-corporations (you can call them cooperatives if you like) would vote their own managers, decide all salaries and working conditions, and distribute profits among themselves. Lower and higher end salary caps, as well as percentage ranges for managers and workers would be established. 95% of distributed profits must go to workers on an equal basis, with 5% reserved for manager bonuses.

Wait, on one hand you claim that workers must be in power and decide of everything, then on the other hand you impose them rules. What is your justification here?

They would collectively decide production goals and formulate a marketing strategy to the public.

Do you assume that basic workers have advanced marketing and executive skills or do you assume that such skills are worthless and that any idiot can do so? Or do you think that it is of so much importance to the mere worker that he must be in charge of this despite inefficiencies?

Capitalism overestimates the importance of executive roles but I think you underestimate it. This is a job of its own, with competences of its own, and not a trivial one at all. It requires ten to twenty years to master. I think you should respect others' skills more, whoever they are.


These entities would have access to direct financing from the government in the form of no-interest loans with delayed payment schedule, as well as start-up financing with advice on business plan formulation for new enterprises. These businesses wold operate within a market environment, but one strictly controlled to benefit society as a whole. Social goals would always take precedence over efficiency in the design of this system.

For the context imagine yourself in the 70's picturing the personal computer and Internet to a bunch of 50 years old civil agents. See the problem? Now what would be the decision process? A generic committee who knows nothing about the sector? A committee made of people from this sector whose interest is to ban future competitors? Would you request 50% of votes or 5%? I think you need to pay a far greater attention to this because this is a weak point of all communist projects I encountered so far.

Innovation is driven by iconoclasts. The ones in charge are conformists, people whose natural tendency is to oppose innovation. You want to put the latter in charge.

Also... Business plans are worthless. Anyway many startups end up selling something else than what they had in mind. Business is never straightforward. In my opinion you have a simplistic view of innovation and businesses as something predictable, schedulable, controllable. It isn't, it always come from unexpected angles and not necessarily ones that appeared as good for the society at first. As I said Facebook and others gave birth to unprecedented infrastructures that are now becoming a commodity for all large-scale services. And many startups appeared in mere garages because no one believed in them.


Utilities such as banking, electrical generation, water, etc would be owned and operated exclusively by the government. Likewise industries with a significant public safety risk such as airlines and oil exploration.

Do you know what happened in France when Internet did rose? We had a public monopoly that charged Internet communications on a per-minute basis at ridiculous prices (1.5€ per hour) and our country got years late and only changed when our politicians finally realized we were losing a war. And the employees were even more conservative. Again centralized controls are ran by people whose tendency is to oppose innovation because the current system is the one that did put them in power, because they are conservatives conformists, and because they are old and therefore afraid of changes.

Public systems have their own strengths, cherish them. But never ever grant them a monopoly.

quetzalcoatl wrote:For mid-level managers, basic notions of psychology we absorb from childhood are more important than an MBA.

Even if this was true, this would not make an MBA useless. When you put someone in charge of a whole team, every advantage is a nice bonus for everyone. The best managers I encountered were not always the ones with a technical past, even though this strongly helps.



Bonus questions : so you created a competitive system between corporations? And you still encourage people to earn as much money as possible (or to leave the corporation at once if it is not profitable enough since no one has an interest in making it survive)? How would it cause less problems? There would still be this competitive pressure, this productivity pressure, the social dumping, the tax evasion. Sure, the workers now collectively own the enterprise they work in but it's not much. They're not even a lot wealthier given that dividends usually amount to less than a sixth of wages (and you need equivalent taxes to finance other corporations anyway). And democracy is not that great, it's just a way to arbitrate conflicts by favoring the majority, not to reach a situation that pleases everyone.

Your system still has some good sides for workers. But not much for most of them. And on the other hand I think your system has a lot of weak points that may make it worse for most.
#14603994
Harmattan wrote:But how would you prevent them to grow larger? And how would you address projects so complex that they require much more people? The government? But not all of those projects are of public interest at start: Facebook and others are useless in my eyes but they gave birth to complex infrastructures that are turning operations at this scale into a mere commodity.

The choice of 250 employees is somewhat arbitrary, although I justify it on the basis of how many people can operate in a direct democracy. The limitation on size is a principle of the utmost importance. It is the ONLY thing that can prevent concentrations of power, and the resultant extreme inequality. Once you sacrifice the limitation on size, you have given up everything.
Wait, on one hand you claim that workers must be in power and decide of everything, then on the other hand you impose them rules. What is your justification here?

Freedom is not absolute. These worker-owned enterprises are not free to simply re-enact the same oppressive hierarchical structures they were designed to replace. This is the entire point; otherwise we may as well stick with what we have. It has been proven that reforms of the New Deal variety will simply be withdrawn once they have served their temporary purpose. There must be actual structural changes to make any difference.
Do you assume that basic workers have advanced marketing and executive skills or do you assume that such skills are worthless and that any idiot can do so?
I assert that such skills can be taught, and that every worker should be encouraged to learn as many different skills as they feel capable of taking on. I utterly reject the cult of the executive and his attendant technical priesthood.

You have fallen prey to the destructive myth of innovation and constant disruptive change. Such changes are neither necessary nor particularly beneficial. The innovations you cite would have eventually occurred in an organic fashion, without the constant paranoid scramble to gain a march on the competition. The rate of technological change has already been slowing down for decades, and this is not a bad thing at all. Worker-owned enterprises are an invaluable adjunct to a steady-state economy.
Also... Business plans are worthless. Anyway many startups end up selling something else than what they had in mind. Business is never straightforward.

Life is never straightforward. Business is just another aspect of life. it has its complications, but so does bringing up a child - or many other aspects of life we tackle by simply diving in.
In my opinion you have a simplistic view of innovation as something predictable, schedulable, controllable. It isn't, it always come from unexpected angles and not necessarily ones that appeared as good for the society at first. As I said Facebook and others gave birth to unprecedented infrastructures that are now becoming a commodity for all large-scale services. And many startups appeared in mere garages because no one believed in them.

On the contrary, I assert that innovation as a value in itself is literally worthless. The same may said of efficiency. Still anyone could still have a garage start-up under this system.
Do you know what happened in France when Internet rosed? We had a public monopoly that charged Internet communications on a per-minute basis at ridiculous prices (1.5€ per hour) and our country got years late and only changed when our politicians finally realized what other countries were up to. Again centralized controls are ran by people whose tendency is to oppose innovation because the current system is the one that did put them in power, because they are conservatives conformists, and because they are old and therefore afraid of changes.

I simply don't care. it's not about efficiency or innovation, it's about worker sovereignty.
Public systems have their own strengths. But never ever grant them a monopoly.

Private systems must never be allowed to operate in, much less dominate, the public sphere.
Even if this was true, this would not make an MBA useless. When you put someone in charge of a whole team, every advantage is a nice bonus for everyone. The best managers I encountered were not always the ones with a technical past, even though this strongly helps.

What point are you making? What function could an outside MBA fulfill that an employee with the same training could not? What if every MBA, instead of being lone ranger mercenaries, were sent to business school by a worker-owned business?

Here's a news flash. Most people working in the rank-in-file don't give a shit about your concerns. They want a decent living and to have some kind of say over their working conditions; they don't want to be harassed by idiots who pride themselves on being assholes.
Your system still has some good sides for some workers. But not much. And on the other hand I think your system has a lot of weak points.
I'm interested in hearing your solutions. Do you have some?
#14604031
Likewise, it's best to define "socialism", perhaps as "ownership of units by employees or government entities".




Since when? Socialism is about the working class retaining the full fruit of their Labour rather than having to hand it to the parasitic financier class who produce nothing.
#14604141
Decky wrote:
Socialism is about the working class retaining the full fruit of their Labour rather than having to hand it to the parasitic financier class who produce nothing.


This is political propaganda, not economics. In economic terms, when workers take home paychecks, they're taking fruits of their labor. Whether the fruits are big enough and juicy enough to satisfy critics is another argument entirely.

It's also the sputterings of one who has, quite likely, never started nor run a real-world business. Few workers, in reality, want the headaches of operating a working business. The details are messy and fraught with risk. Budgets are often tight. Do you spend this month's paltry marketing budget on newspaper ads or flyers? Should we put on another headcount while growth is evident, only to possibly lay them off when there's a downturn? How do we deal with the opening of that Big Box store a half-mile from ours with prices 15% lower than ours, when our margins are already less than 15%?

Behavior is a reliable proxy for state of mind. Those who want to participate in business, and not just function in it, do so. They start companies. They can't help themselves. Worker bees are vital to all enterprises, but they do not want to make decisions. And the simple economics of the situation is that, on the whole, worker bees are much easier to find, hire, and manage than executives who can deal with harsh scrutiny, uncertainty, and the intricacies of finance. This is why the above definition of "socialism" is malarky. Reward generally comes as the obverse of risk. Workers have risk, but that risk isn't generalized. It's personal. And it's usually manageable. The risk to an entire enterprise, or to its financiers, is far bigger. If things go badly wrong at that level, EVERY worker can be impacted for the worse, all at once.

As I've written before, I tend to look at what mankind has done in the past as indicators of what mankind WANTS to do. If socialism were the preferred and dominant model, it would have appeared in greater volume ere now. The reality is that real socialism, no matter how defined, has existed only in rare and specific cases. This isn't a moral issue, but a simple economic one. And it isn't because mankind is beset with greedy slave-owners. It's because human social structures, like soap bubbles, tend to take on the most efficient shape possible under the circumstances.

The key problem, of course, is that circumstances can shift, so that yesterday's efficient pattern is today's catastrophe. This is the price that capitalistic societies pay for its benefits. Capitalism is driven right from the soul of mankind; it's woven into us to eke out a good deal. It produces wealth, power, and leisure. Even the meanest households in the US have basic services, including refrigeration, heating, phones, and even television. Travel to Somalia or Ethiopia to see what real poverty looks like - water is often unavailable, food is scarce and infested with vermin, child death is epidemic, corruption is the order of the day. Don't compare American workers to American elites: compare them to citizens of countries with truly awful conditions. Granted, financiers can wield too much power, as Wall Street did during the Great Recession, but that's what governments are for in today's world. Ours did nothing to monitor or stop the gathering whirlwind of destruction, and then reacted only with reluctance when the storm was at its height and the economy was in mortal peril. Circumstances had shifted.

When socialism is merely envy, it's an ugly thing. When it's just cheap philosophy, it's laughable. Economists have long studied where worker ownership functions and where it does not. I suggest a reading of the readily available literature.
#14604145
taltom wrote:It's also the sputterings of one who has, quite likely, never started nor run a real-world business. Few workers, in reality, want the headaches of operating a working business. The details are messy and fraught with risk. Budgets are often tight. Do you spend this month's paltry marketing budget on newspaper ads or flyers? Should we put on another headcount while growth is evident, only to possibly lay them off when there's a downturn? How do we deal with the opening of that Big Box store a half-mile from ours with prices 15% lower than ours, when our margins are already less than 15%?


This is presupposing that worker's owned economy will operate under the paradigm of capitalist market mechanism and hence is entirely inappropriate criticism.

This is political propaganda, not economics. In economic terms, when workers take home paychecks, they're taking fruits of their labor. Whether the fruits are big enough and juicy enough to satisfy critics is another argument entirely.


Nope, not propaganda at all. Workers are indeed handing over major part of fruits of their labor to a parasitic class.

It's because human social structures, like soap bubbles, tend to take on the most efficient shape possible under the circumstances.


Not exactly, there are tons of historical example where societies have degenerated into inefficient clusterfuck. Yours is a very idealist view if you truly believe this.

Capitalism is driven right from the soul of mankind; it's woven into us to eke out a good deal. It produces wealth, power, and leisure. Even the meanest households in the US have basic services, including refrigeration, heating, phones, and even television. Travel to Somalia or Ethiopia to see what real poverty looks like - water is often unavailable, food is scarce and infested with vermin, child death is epidemic, corruption is the order of the day. Don't compare American workers to American elites: compare them to citizens of countries with truly awful conditions. Granted, financiers can wield too much power, as Wall Street did during the Great Recession, but that's what governments are for in today's world. Ours did nothing to monitor or stop the gathering whirlwind of destruction, and then reacted only with reluctance when the storm was at its height and the economy was in mortal peril. Circumstances had shifted.


And what are Somalia and Ethiopia? Not capitalists? Only successful countries are capitalists while non successful countries, I guess are not "pure" capitalism or let alone the fact that a big reason why these regions are poor is because they are interwoven into a world capitalist paradigm.

btw, the bolded part is basically pure and unadulterated idealism.
#14604151
This is political propaganda, not economics. In economic terms, when workers take home paychecks, they're taking fruits of their labor. Whether the fruits are big enough and juicy enough to satisfy critics is another argument entirely.


Erm no. Workers are only paid part of the value of their Labour. Where do you think profit comes from? The workers produce a certain amount of wealth, they are paid less than this amount and the idle parasite boss pockets the difference. Profits are just unpaid wages, no worker in a profitable company is paid the full value of his labour otherwise there would be nowhere for the profit to come from.

It's also the sputterings of one who has, quite likely, never started nor run a real-world business.




Of course not, what do you think I am a class traitor? I've also never owned a slave.
#14604168
quetzalcoatl wrote:The choice of 250 employees is somewhat arbitrary, although I justify it on the basis of how many people can operate in a direct democracy.

And I do agree with that point. My problem is that many essential activities require far more people than this. I think the actual end result would be an artificial division of those activities into sub-entities, with the result of voiding the leaves of their practical freedom by putting them at the mercy of the end product manufacturer (the trunk), their exclusive consumer.

From what I understood you would like to ban this (under which criteria?) and have those complex activities taken in charge by the govt. But very large parts of your economy would then be taken in charge by the govt. Automobile manufacturing, computer manufacturing, etc. Many complex products involve tens to hundreds of thousands of employees and thousands of high-level executives alone to coordinate the swarm of sub-contractors and logistic chains. So the end result would be an economy mostly controlled by the govt, unless you revert technology back to XIXth century like levels.


These worker-owned enterprises are not free to simply re-enact the same oppressive hierarchical structures they were designed to replace.

I do agree but I was actually interested in knowing why you think such scheme could be reproduced. If the workers are in charge they are not going to favor a minority of them. The risk is rather that they will discriminate the minorities.


they don't want to be harassed by idiots who pride themselves on being assholes.

I think this will still exist. Do you know about the game company Valve? They do not have hierarchies, instead decisions are taken by agregation: people are encouraged to work on what they believe in, which is a form of democracy that avoids many of the problems of traditional democracy. Here is the handbook for new employees.

This has a lot of great sides, for sure. But the reality is that there are "high-school gangs" who drive most of things. Those ones enjoy the actual authority. Whatever you will do, authority will find its way to you because this is how humans work. As I said before I do not think your model fixes as much problems as you think it does. If you want to get rid of coercion then I am afraid the most important step is to make sure that no one has to work to get a decent living, which is unfair for those who continue to work.

For me the enterprise under communism is like a dogpack. Leaders would naturally emerge out of the pack: politicians and brutes. There may very well be be more psychopaths in charge than there are today since other leaders' profiles would disappear (the individualists, the innovators, etc).


I assert that such skills can be taught, and that every worker should be encouraged to learn as many different skills as they feel capable of taking on.

But reducing specialization is yet another inefficiency source.

You claimed that you do not care about inefficiency, but reducing it would lead to impoverishment. And I am afraid you are too generous with the way you stockpile inefficiency sources. Is it better to be an employee in the XXIth century, working 35h a week and living in a warm and enjoyable house, or a coal miner in the XIXth century working 80h a week with a high mortality rate? Democracy in the workplace is not worth the latter choice.

For most people freedom and democracy only outweigh wealth past a high level of wealth. Especially democracy, since actual freedom gains would be tiny.


On the contrary, I assert that innovation as a value in itself is literally worthless.

I think changes make the world interesting. And to prevent them you would need to shut up curiosity, to discourage those with ideas and desires for changes. Those people would grow to hate your society and people would complain that your govt is unable to fix problems and would regret the good old capitalism where mankind was advancing and people could hope to see cancer disappear.

I know: you would fund cancer. The problem is that a cure for cancer will not come from researches against cancer. It will come from all sort of unrelated things: nanotechnologies, chemical and biological simulations, genetic manipulations, etc.

But, yes, everything would eventually happen. Far later. Far far later.


I'm interested in hearing your solutions. Do you have some?

Personally I am a capitalist betting on the fact that capitalism will consume itself by making all productions so cheap and commoditized that people will naturally opt for freedom rather than efficiency (including purchasing power). I see capitalism as the lesser evil to reach this point as fast as possible.

Also on a personal note I am more comfortable with an individualist and hierarchical society than I am with a collective and normative one. The latter would have been very oppressive for me.
#14604204
quetzalcoatl wrote:The limitation on size is a principle of the utmost importance. It is the ONLY thing that can prevent concentrations of power, and the resultant extreme inequality. Once you sacrifice the limitation on size, you have given up everything.


People are NOT equal. Some are communists, some are not. Those that are not should be kept down or put down, whatever's most expedient.
#14604332
taltom wrote:If socialism were the preferred and dominant model, it would have appeared in greater volume ere now. The reality is that real socialism, no matter how defined, has existed only in rare and specific cases. This isn't a moral issue, but a simple economic one. And it isn't because mankind is beset with greedy slave-owners. It's because human social structures, like soap bubbles, tend to take on the most efficient shape possible under the circumstances.
Socialism is essentially non competitive, but it is efficient. It was that efficiency that created the confrontation between banks an credit unions a few years back. The banks played dirty, they bought regulators and politicians, credit unions barely survived and were coerced into assuming massive debt that limited their efficiency to the point where banks were again competitive. This is an excellent example of why there is only a little socialist structure in our society. Capitalism keeps popping those bubbles. As long as capitalism can manipulate authority, socialism can only manifest thru revolution.
Capitalism is driven right from the soul of mankind; it's woven into us to eke out a good deal. It produces wealth, power, and leisure.
No, Capitalism is driven right out of the Gonads, it's a primitive instinct to dominate. It encourages us to take more than we give. It's only justification is the competitive necessity for progress.
Even the meanest households in the US have basic services, including refrigeration, heating, phones, and even television. Travel to Somalia or Ethiopia to see what real poverty looks like - water is often unavailable, food is scarce and infested with vermin, child death is epidemic
Because capitalism has exploited their labor and resources and failed to offer an equitable return ... The US resident gained all those nice things thru the theft of Cuba's sugar, Guatemala's Banana's, Chiles Copper, The Congo's Uranium, and Pacifica's Copra, etc ... Globalization exists to balance that debt, and ! Capitalist don't like it much, do they...
When socialism is merely envy, it's an ugly thing. When it's just cheap philosophy, it's laughable. Economists have long studied where worker ownership functions and where it does not. I suggest a reading of the readily available literature.
Socialism is the future, Capitalism is rapidly becoming the past. It's cannibalistic and is devouring itself. We'll keep it going as long as we need it and then it will fade away very quickly. As an economic model, capitalism is not inherently evil ... it just becomes so when a very small group of abnormal humans are allowed unlimited access to it. It's not an easy thing to drag a pig away from it's feeding trough.

Zam
#14607484
KlassWar wrote:People are NOT equal. Some are communists, some are not. Those that are not should be kept down or put down, whatever's most expedient.


Do they let you visit your family on weekends? Or do they have to visit you?
#14608495
A federation of co-ops and worker councils would be a good starting point, but that still leaves specific factories and workshops in the hands of specific sets of workers, whereas I think that at least to some degree there should be a sense of the tools and machinery themselves as a commons. I see factories moving away from specialized mass production of specific goods to a general set of high-tech tools that can be used by anyone wishing to manufacture something they can't make at home. Public workshops, you might say. Not that mass production would have to go away entirely. There could still be factories dedicated to specific products. But these sorts of decisions would be arrived at democratically based on social need, not private gain.
#14608715
Paradigm wrote:A federation of co-ops and worker councils would be a good starting point, but that still leaves specific factories and workshops in the hands of specific sets of workers, whereas I think that at least to some degree there should be a sense of the tools and machinery themselves as a commons. I see factories moving away from specialized mass production of specific goods to a general set of high-tech tools that can be used by anyone wishing to manufacture something they can't make at home. Public workshops, you might say. Not that mass production would have to go away entirely. There could still be factories dedicated to specific products. But these sorts of decisions would be arrived at democratically based on social need, not private gain.


I agree, and would add that we should move away, as much as possible, from the concept of worker specialization in the name of a spurious efficiency. With a staggering overcapacity in the West, efficiency can't be allowed as the overriding value any longer.

Death to efficiency!
Death to specialization!
Death to privatization!
Death to innovation!

These are the battle cries for the 21 century worker.
#14609018
You'll convince few economists that "capitalism" is on its way out. Indeed, it has been the dominant form of human interaction for at least ten thousand years that we know of, and perhaps far more than that. We have strong evidence that traders walked hundreds of miles to bring goods to tribes not their own, and likely received some kind of bartered goods or services in exchange.

Of course, there are many definitions of "capitalism", although overheated partisans sling it about as if they have defined it. For some, it is the mill owner in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, paying poverty wages while sipping rare champagne at black-tie parties. This is the Dickensian view. And indeed, it was the terror of Communism's rise in Russia that partly convinced mossbacks in Congress to enact legislation protecting labor organizers. Here in the States, at least for a few decades, the working class enjoyed a substantial standard of living, with TVs, cars, mortgages, clean water, and many other things that working people in other nations could only covet from afar. In effect, the working class saw itself as the owner class in miniature: they might not be able to afford a yacht, but a bass boat was a satisfactory substitute. Labor even managed to get itself onto a few governing boards.

But observe that this dynamic is not inevitable. The typical German worker, for example, enjoys a rather high standard of living, and his labor unions do not have to mount savage attacks on their employers.

If you define capitalism differently, then its virtues and vices are also very different. Most companies are not Dickensian, but instead are small, perhaps only 1,000 or fewer employees. These firms do not have the capacity to collude much with others, because they hold little economic power. Most are not at financial choke points, as banks are. And it is those huge numbers of SMBs that supply us with the truly gargantuan network of goods and services we've come to expect. As Edward Glaeser points out in Triumph of the City, cities thrive because they provide close proximity to so many necessary resources, but to thrive they also need daily infusions of thousands of items - shoes, auto parts, air conditioners, kumquats, paving stones, bottled water, and innumerable other things. Almost all are procured, shipped, and sold by SMBs, not international conglomerates. And these firms compete fiercely, because they must.

Now, this should produce chaos, an overabundance of shoes, a shortage of auto parts. But it doesn't, because they're acquired through millions of tiny feedback loops that don't exist in a central control system. Strange as it is to say, competitive capitalism, with its inherent waste from duplication of effort, actually is more efficient at allocating resources in the long run than centralization.

It's true that competing firms can sink into collusion, or, perhaps as bad, aggregate into ever-larger entities. But these moves create their own problems that aren't always obvious on the surface. And although these cases get much press, their overall effect on the economy isn't as great as the media would portray. Far more Americans are employed in the "long tail" of SMBs than by huge corporations.

And finally, as to "profit" - it has a technical meaning that is often lost in propagandistic displays of vitriol. It is what's left after the bills are paid, and it's often very little. Small companies are vulnerable to hundreds of variables, and it's not uncommon for an owner to forego his or her own paycheck so that payroll can be met. Rabid socialists would have us believe that all capitalists are cartoonish fat cats. The reality is quite different.
#14609048
taltom wrote:Indeed, it (capitalism) has been the dominant form of human interaction for at least ten thousand years that we know of and perhaps far more than that

Good god, someone call the paramedics ... that statement is insane ! Commerce does not = Capitalism ... And while there are variations, it's was first defined by Adam Smith (1776) who is generally considered the father of capitalism. He predicted (correctly) it would supersede "mercantilism."

walked hundreds of miles to bring goods to tribes not their own, and likely received some kind of bartered goods or services in exchange.

Primitive Barter is most definitely not "Capitalism." You, of all people should know better than to start "redefining" well established language to suit your arguments.

And finally, as to "profit" - it has a technical meaning that is often lost in propagandistic displays of vitriol. It is what's left after the bills are paid, and it's often very little.

And it's just as often scandalously large. In a competitive market, failure is indeed common. Success and failure defines and perpetuates capitalist systems.

Rabid socialists would have us believe that all capitalists are cartoonish fat cats. The reality is quite different.

You are dissembling, you (intentionally it seems) left a word out. "Rabid socialists would have us believe that all >>>Successful<<< capitalists are cartoonish fat cats.

Zam
#14609052
taltom wrote:If you define capitalism differently, then its virtues and vices are also very different. Most companies are not Dickensian, but instead are small, perhaps only 1,000 or fewer employees. These firms do not have the capacity to collude much with others, because they hold little economic power. Most are not at financial choke points, as banks are. And it is those huge numbers of SMBs that supply us with the truly gargantuan network of goods and services we've come to expect. As Edward Glaeser points out in Triumph of the City, cities thrive because they provide close proximity to so many necessary resources, but to thrive they also need daily infusions of thousands of items - shoes, auto parts, air conditioners, kumquats, paving stones, bottled water, and innumerable other things. Almost all are procured, shipped, and sold by SMBs, not international conglomerates. And these firms compete fiercely, because they must.

Now, this should produce chaos, an overabundance of shoes, a shortage of auto parts. But it doesn't, because they're acquired through millions of tiny feedback loops that don't exist in a central control system. Strange as it is to say, competitive capitalism, with its inherent waste from duplication of effort, actually is more efficient at allocating resources in the long run than centralization.


This is a joke right? Corporations patent genes in plants and engineer them so that they die out should any other farmer try to grow them. Meanwhile, we have people on food stamps.
#14609060
Saeko wrote:This is a joke right? Corporations patent genes in plants and engineer them so that they die out should any other farmer try to grow them. Meanwhile, we have people on food stamps.

If you are talking about the terminator gene then in many cases it was not making the plant sterile. It was simply disabling the added genes in descendants, leaving farmers with the original, unmodified, natural, plant. And this was actually an excellent thing than been been regrettably and mistakingly rejected by the opinion, politicians, farmers and ecologists!

Not only it would have nullified risks related to dissemination, but it would have left farmers in a far better position than the one they now find themselves in, with Monsanto & al massively suing them because they are assumed to have violated intellectual properties laws anytime a GMO seed landed in their fields.

The terminator gene was an excellent thing and fighting it was a mistake from both the farmers, politicians and ecologists. Retrospectively I am pretty sure they all realize their mistake, aside of the hardcore obscurantists.

Corporate communication specialists should all study the case of the terminator gene to see how the world massively rejected something that was good for itself because of a bad buzz. Good innovation, bad political context, bad communication.


quetzalcoatl wrote:Death to efficiency!

Do you think that...
a) there is a massive hidden wealth you could tape in to offset the poverty increase that would result for efficiency decrease?
b) poverty is not that bad, at least better that domination by capital?
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