No, wealth isn’t created at the top. It is merely devoured there. Rentierism is sucking us dry. - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14985164
From a panel discussion at davos. Really interesting to watch and read up on.
[The tweet doesn't seem to be coming into view. So, you can't watch it.]

[twitter=1090045108064579584]

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... 0/wealth...

https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... ger-breg...

Some choice quotes all from the first article (op-ed):

No, wealth isn’t created at the top. It is merely devoured there.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top.

So entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

But there is also a second way to make money. That’s the rentier way: by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others’ expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.

In other words, a big part of the modern banking sector is essentially a giant tapeworm gorging on a sick body. It’s not creating anything new, merely sucking others dry. Bankers have found a hundred and one ways to accomplish this. The basic mechanism, however, is always the same: offer loans like it’s going out of style, which in turn inflates the price of things like houses and shares, then earn a tidy percentage off those overblown prices (in the form of interest, commissions, brokerage fees, or what have you), and if the shit hits the fan, let Uncle Sam mop it up.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Tollgates can be torn down, financial products can be banned, tax havens dismantled, lobbies tamed, and patents rejected. Higher taxes on the ultra-rich can make rentierism less attractive, precisely because society’s biggest freeloaders are at the very top of the pyramid. And we can more fairly distribute our earnings on land, oil, and innovation through a system of, say, employee shares, or a universal basic income.


Mind you the guy who wrote the article is no communist, rather he wants to, in his own words, 'save capitalism'.

Most of you will probably dis-agree with this. I know I don't, although I don't agree on all points. So I am really just wanted to share this with those who care and issue my call for action. Start with a massive tax increase on the wealthy. And graduated taxes on Capital Gains.
#14985210
Financialization isn’t inessential to capitalism.
This view isnttinherently fascist/right wing but it is something shared by them in their non-emancipatory view of capitalism which obscures essential features of the mode of production.
https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/cssgj/documents/working-papers/wp022-alain-de-benoists-anti-political-philosophy-beyond-left-and-right-non-emancipatory-responses-to-globalisation-and-crisis.pdf
Far Right opposition to globalisation, crisis and austerity is then more accurately described as a very partial or “foreshortened” (Postone 1986) criticism. Financial transactions and speculation are derided as ‘unproductive’ for the ‘national economy’, with a ‘web’ of financiers, bankers and corrupted politicians characterised as forming a secretive plot. On the other hand, such a view of economic processes fails to critique ‘productive work’ and industrial capital, which instead is characterised as honest and decent. Hence, neo-fascist crisis theory seeks to personalise abstract and complicated economic processes in order to lay blame and play on people’s fears. In much of the extreme nationalist literature, economic crises or the ruthlessness of the free market are blamed on Americanisation, or even on a Jewish or Zionist conspiracy that is thought to control the banks of the American East Coast. Modern antisemitism thus takes the appearance of a resistance movement, one that is even termed ‘revolutionary’ by Moishe Postone (1986). At the very least it provides a world view that grapples with understanding global capitalism. Modern antisemitism creates a discursive relationship between Jews and the spheres of money, interest and circulation.
...
Heinrich contends that in Das Kapital Marx did not have in mind the blaming and scapegoating of individual capitalists, speculators or entrepreneurs for abstract economic processes. Marx wrote that his work dealt with individuals “only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories” and accordingly one would be mistaken to “make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them” (cited in Heinrich 2012: 185).
#14986851
By suggesting he wants to save capitalism, the author is saying that it's possible to have a form of capitalism that doesn't devolve into rentierism which is parasitic.

Does he have any historic examples of non-rentier capitalism to provide as an example of what is possible under that system?

I didn't think so.

ODE TO RENTIER CAPITALISM

Rentier capitalism is why the USA has zero high-speed rail (car-oil-road rentiers).

It's why we're still driving massive SUVs to dead malls (car-oil-road rentiers).

It's why the car industry abandoned Michigan (health care rentiers).

It's why no government can do anything or invest anything in a sustainable economy (bank rentiers).

It's why the earth can never know peace and pull itself together (war rentiers).

And why so many of us are ignorant of our present predicament (mass media rentiers).

And it's also why our constiutions were replaced by free-trade-agreements written behind closed doors (Rentier solidarity).
#14986852
QatzelOk wrote:why the USA has zero high-speed rail


Lies! There's the excela in the Northeast, the brightline in Florida, and Texas is looking at create a high speed rail triangle (Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio->austin)

Fundamentally, you're right though. What I mentioned above is only recent developments and is always facing strong headwinds.
#14986859
Rancid wrote:Lies! There's the excela in the Northeast, the brightline in Florida, and Texas is looking at create a high speed rail triangle (Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio->austin)

Fundamentally, you're right though. What I mentioned above is only recent developments and is always facing strong headwinds.

China has built a 29,000 km national network in the last ten years. And I'm not sure if the Acela counts as "high speed."

The park and ride rail projects in the USA are all about making driving your SUV easier, and not about replacing the auto industry's rentier-class-damage to America with a much less expensive (for riders) and much greener (fore everyone) alternative to cars and planes.

If I had the choice, I would take high-speed rail from where I live to Miami, and complete my journey to Cuba by boat. But this alternative is not available, thus forcing me to fly (oil rentiers, aviation rentiers, business traveller rentiers, etc) I have no choice, and this is what the rentier class wants.

You could have also mentioned that there are quite a few car company jobs still left in Michigan. But Ontario (in Canada) has been the main car building region in N.A. for more than a decade because of (rentier-enriching) health care costs in the USA.
#14986861
QatzelOk wrote:China has built a 29,000 km national network in the last ten years. And I'm not sure if the Acela counts as "high speed."

The park and ride rail projects in the USA are all about making driving your SUV easier, and not about replacing the auto industry's rentier-class-damage to America with a much less expensive (for riders) and much greener (fore everyone) alternative to cars and planes.

If I had the choice, I would take high-speed rail from where I live to Miami, and complete my journey to Cuba by boat. But this alternative is not available, thus forcing me to fly (oil rentiers, aviation rentiers, business traveller rentiers, etc) I have no choice, and this is what the rentier class wants.

You could have also mentioned that there are quite a few car company jobs still left in Michigan. But Ontario (in Canada) has been the main car building region in N.A. for more than a decade because of (rentier-enriching) health care costs in the USA.


Yes, I agree. I was mostly just fucking around.

That said, what are your thoughts on driverless cars? Do you think it would help the situation or make it worse?

At a minimum, it would reduce the total number of cars on the road.
#14986869
Rancid wrote:That said, what are your thoughts on driverless cars? Do you think it would help the situation or make it worse?

I think driverless cars are a meme of the rentier class to make us forget about any alternatives to expensive personal vehicles that take us hundreds of miles between bungalows and strip malls.

They actually show that our rentier class has no imagination, and can't visualize anything that decreases consumption and increases equality.

They also demonstrate how uncritical our commercial (rentier) media is of any trend that could lead to advertising dollars. Doctors smoke, and smart people buy into driverless cars.
#14986981
QatzelOk wrote:
I think driverless cars are a meme of the rentier class to make us forget about any alternatives to expensive personal vehicles that take us hundreds of miles between bungalows and strip malls.

They actually show that our rentier class has no imagination, and can't visualize anything that decreases consumption and increases equality.

They also demonstrate how uncritical our commercial (rentier) media is of any trend that could lead to advertising dollars. Doctors smoke, and smart people buy into driverless cars.



Well, valid critiques of commercial culture aside, I think the best argument for driverless cars -- though admittedly short of a *mass* transit approach -- is that it would greatly reduce injuries and fatalities on the whole by eliminating 'human error'. Such has been a staple of the airlines for quite awhile now, 'fly by wire', or 'autopilot'. As I understand it's now fully Point-A-to-Point-B in that there's no need for a pilot anymore since the computer systems can also do takeoffs and landings.

I also like to think that, once brought down in price, driverless cars could potentially cut against the housing crisis by doubling as a ready overnight 'shell' for sleeping, for some, while also repositionable over any landlocked geography, just by using a phone app. Of course it's not a solution, and capitalism still needs to be overthrown, and, no, I'm not angling for a job in marketing. (grin)
#14987282
ckaihatsu wrote:...driverless cars ... would greatly reduce injuries and fatalities on the whole by eliminating 'human error'.

The human error that driverless cars will NEVER eliminate is the very human tendency to follow trends that have been well marketed - regardless of the possible side effects that are never mentioned in their promotion.

That human safety can be found in "flying metal boxes controlled by a small computer that's been programmed by a human being" moving through public spaces where children used to play.... is a product of marketing, and not of logic or instinct.

Rentiers own and control our commercial media, so our socially-engineered collective stupidity is also on their hands.
#14987444
QatzelOk wrote:
The human error that driverless cars will NEVER eliminate is the very human tendency to follow trends that have been well marketed - regardless of the possible side effects that are never mentioned in their promotion.



Agreed, of course. The Dalkon Shield comes to mind.


QatzelOk wrote:
That human safety can be found in "flying metal boxes controlled by a small computer that's been programmed by a human being" moving through public spaces where children used to play.... is a product of marketing, and not of logic or instinct.



Well, I'm quite sure that such driverless automation doesn't rely on conventional *direct programming*, in a linear, typical 'blueprint'-type program -- I think the computer system is a *neural network*:



A self-driving car, also known as a robot car, autonomous car, or driverless car,[1][2] is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and moving with little or no human input.[3]

Autonomous cars combine a variety of sensors to perceive their surroundings, such as radar, computer vision, Lidar, sonar, GPS, odometry and inertial measurement units. Advanced control systems interpret sensory information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as obstacles and relevant signage.[4][5]

Potential benefits include reduced costs, increased safety, increased mobility, increased customer satisfaction and reduced crime. Safety benefits include a reduction in traffic collisions,[6][7] resulting injuries and related costs, including for insurance. Automated cars are predicted to increase traffic flow;[8] provide enhanced mobility for children, the elderly,[9] disabled, and the poor; relieve travelers from driving and navigation chores; increase fuel efficiency of vehicle;[10] significantly reduce needs for parking space;[11] reduce crime;[12] and facilitate business models for transportation as a service, especially via the sharing economy.[13][14]



Technical challenges

Main article: Hybrid navigation

The challenge for driverless car designers is to produce control systems capable of analyzing sensory data in order to provide accurate detection of other vehicles and the road ahead.[62] Modern self-driving cars generally use Bayesian simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms,[63] which fuse data from multiple sensors and an off-line map into current location estimates and map updates. Waymo has developed a variant of SLAM with detection and tracking of other moving objects (DATMO), which also handles obstacles such as cars and pedestrians. Simpler systems may use roadside real-time locating system (RTLS) technologies to aid localization. Typical sensors include Lidar, stereo vision, GPS and IMU.[64][65] Udacity is developing an open-source software stack.[66] Control systems on automated cars may use Sensor Fusion, which is an approach that integrates information from a variety of sensors on the car to produce a more consistent, accurate, and useful view of the environment.[67]

Driverless vehicles require some form of machine vision for the purpose of visual object recognition. Automated cars are being developed with deep neural networks,[64] a type of deep learning architecture with many computational stages, or levels, in which neurons are simulated from the environment that activate the network.[68] The neural network depends on an extensive amount of data extracted from real-life driving scenarios,[64] enabling the neural network to "learn" how to execute the best course of action.[68]

In May 2018, researchers from MIT announced that they had built an automated car that can navigate unmapped roads.[69] Researchers at their Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new system, called MapLite, which allows self-driving cars to drive on roads that they have never been on before, without using 3D maps. The system combines the GPS position of the vehicle, a "sparse topological map" such as OpenStreetMap, (i.e. having 2D features of the roads only), and a series of sensors that observe the road conditions.[70]

Heavy rainfall, hail, or snow could impede the car sensors.

Nature of the digital technology

Autonomous vehicles, as a digital technology, have certain characteristics that distinguishes them from other types of technologies and vehicles. Due to these characteristics, autonomous vehicles are able to be more transformative and agile to possible changes. The characteristics will be explained based on the following subjects: homogenization and decoupling, connectivity, reprogrammable and smart, digital traces and modularity.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-driving_car



---


QatzelOk wrote:
Rentiers own and control our commercial media, so our socially-engineered collective stupidity is also on their hands.



Yeah, the current political economy really more-resembles a *technocracy*, unfortunately, with the state mopping-up after the more-privileged wealthy protagonists in our society, with most people remaining *dispossessed* from any meaningful, active roles in the world. I wouldn't call it 'stupidity' as much as I'd call it 'disempowerment'.

So, on the whole, we should welcome constructive *technological* reforms as readily as we would *social* reforms -- and, arguably, those two terms are politically synonymous anyway. But none of these reforms address the class division, so proletarian revolution is still required nonetheless.
#14987756
ckaihatsu wrote:...we should welcome constructive *technological* reforms as readily as we would *social* reforms -- and, arguably, those two terms are politically synonymous anyway. But none of these reforms address the class division, so proletarian revolution is still required nonetheless.

The rentier class keep telling us that "we have no choice" but to accept the latest technologies and then change our behavior to adapt to this new gadget. The rentier class are always happy to sell us yet another gadget, and then to sell us some of the cures for their gadget's side effects.

Our current collective behavior is so far from our instinctive selves already that it appears that the human race is preparing for collective suicide without a care in the world for anything except loyalty to the hand that feeds them gadgets.

At what point do "believers" wake up and see the general trends in social-controlling behaviorism and gadget-merchandising? When they're dead and happily so?
#14987760
Potemkin wrote:Capitalism cannot and should not be 'saved'. What would we be 'saving' it from? Itself? :eh:


@Potemkin ,

I meant to reply earlier to this post, in the context of this thread and the idea that somehow you can have modern Capitalism without all this parasitism of High Finance and the Rentier class of Capitalists that engage in it. You simply cannot. That's what the Great Depressions of the 1870's and the 1930's showed; that Capitalism cannot exist in it's ''pure'' form without constant life-support infusions of liquidity pumped into the economy. As much as the Rentiers are parasites, producing nothing at all but money from capitalists who seize it in turn from their workers, the Capitalists would not exist as a class without them.

I was tempted to believe otherwise for a moment, the promise of a Capitalism unbound from it's shackles... (maybe the Anarcho-Capitalists are right?)

But then I recalled my history; as I said the 1870's Great Depression that lasted over 20 years, and the Great Depression, which produced WWII (1931-1945). And the saviors of the Socio-Economic crisis (besides the war) were the Bankers, and thus we had this present phase.

It's just the way it is. It either changes or we're knocked back into a previous Socio-Economic way of life, Ancient or Feudal, when this comes tumbling down
#14987788
@annatar1914, you of course, reject the idea that MMT could be right. However, MMT allows for the injecting of cash into the economy without the risk that private borrowing always has. Namely that it never needs to be paid back [whether or not it is from bond sales/borrowing or selling the bonds to the Fed. which is just the same as spending the cash without borrowing].
. . . So, if MMT is right then it allows capitalism with cash injections without the rentier class being necessary.
#14987794
QatzelOk wrote:
The rentier class keep telling us that "we have no choice" but to accept the latest technologies and then change our behavior to adapt to this new gadget. The rentier class are always happy to sell us yet another gadget, and then to sell us some of the cures for their gadget's side effects.

Our current collective behavior is so far from our instinctive selves already that it appears that the human race is preparing for collective suicide without a care in the world for anything except loyalty to the hand that feeds them gadgets.

At what point do "believers" wake up and see the general trends in social-controlling behaviorism and gadget-merchandising? When they're dead and happily so?



'Instinctive selves' -- ?

This is implicitly a 'human nature'-type argument, which is inherently a non-starter since humanity is infinitely self-malleable.

Sure, I can understand and appreciate that we're not living in a Panglossian 'best of all worlds' kind of world, but I also think that I often have variances with many comrades on the issue of technology as it's implemented today, under capitalism and commodity production.

I just can't throw out the baby with the bathwater. I think of ourselves as *tool-using* human beings, so if there happen to be certain tools like a hammer or a laptop, that people can make use of, despite their being commodities, then I think that's a *positive* thing, compared to the world *before* capitalism and commodity production.

But, yes, I also appreciate the argument that points out technological 'lock-in', according to brand or whatever -- the terrain of technology is not exempt from commodity-production-type social dynamics of turf, competition, cartels, pricing, etc.

(And, btw, I think you mean 'the bourgeoisie', or 'the equities class' -- instead of 'the rentier class' -- in describing the commercial *results*, like gadgets, of such equities-based social organization, with labor-power.)

So, to sum up, anyone who's summarily 'anti-gadget' is really just being glass-half-empty in their outlook on contemporary technologies. The technological capabilities of everyday cell phone calls, texting, emails, etc., are more than mere gadgetry, as you proclaim. Technologies can be very *enabling*, too, and are not solely the domain of their creators, meaning Silicon Valley and its market caps.
#14987797
Steve_American wrote:
@annatar1914, you of course, reject the idea that MMT could be right. However, MMT allows for the injecting of cash into the economy without the risk that private borrowing always has. Namely that it never needs to be paid back [whether or not it is from bond sales/borrowing or selling the bonds to the Fed. which is just the same as spending the cash without borrowing].
. . . So, if MMT is right then it allows capitalism with cash injections without the rentier class being necessary.



Jumping in here, I'll posit that the problem is with the underlying use of *exchange values*, and not merely with the present-day *symptomatic* squirreling-away of cheap government money into private, static hoards.

The Wikipedia entry on MMT basically plays footsie with how basic exchange values are to be calculated, whether a government-tax-receipts definition or a currency-sum-total-value-based definition. Neither approach is complete, of course, but both *are* solid, fundamental components of any such aspiring calculation / definition.

I go over this ground just to point out that the use of (such) exchange values is *inherently problematic* since bourgeois economists can't even *agree* on an all-encompassing *definition* for such, thus calling into question what 'one dollar' (or whatever) even *means*, or should be valued-as. Add in the use of the military for providing First World countries (like the U.S.) with a semblance of currency stability, and we have an even *bigger* mess of social definitions of exchange values. (Why should the people of *Venezuela* suffer with their economics while the U.S. population *doesn't* suffer?)

Sure, I agree that the rentier class hasn't been *socially* necessary since the overthrow of feudal relations, as in the French Revolution, but unfortunately rentierism remains a necessary component of *capitalism*, and so that remnant of feudalism -- non-productive asset ownership that is rewarded with rents and interest payments -- continues to exist today, in the economic period of the supposed triumph of *equity* (investment) values, to organize socially-necessary production.
#14987988
ckaihatsu wrote:Jumping in here, I'll posit that the problem is with the underlying use of *exchange values*, and not merely with the present-day *symptomatic* squirreling-away of cheap government money into private, static hoards.

The Wikipedia entry on MMT basically plays footsie with how basic exchange values are to be calculated, whether a government-tax-receipts definition or a currency-sum-total-value-based definition. Neither approach is complete, of course, but both *are* solid, fundamental components of any such aspiring calculation / definition.

I go over this ground just to point out that the use of (such) exchange values is *inherently problematic* since bourgeois economists can't even *agree* on an all-encompassing *definition* for such, thus calling into question what 'one dollar' (or whatever) even *means*, or should be valued-as. Add in the use of the military for providing First World countries (like the U.S.) with a semblance of currency stability, and we have an even *bigger* mess of social definitions of exchange values. (Why should the people of *Venezuela* suffer with their economics while the U.S. population *doesn't* suffer?)

Sure, I agree that the rentier class hasn't been *socially* necessary since the overthrow of feudal relations, as in the French Revolution, but unfortunately rentierism remains a necessary component of *capitalism*, and so that remnant of feudalism -- non-productive asset ownership that is rewarded with rents and interest payments -- continues to exist today, in the economic period of the supposed triumph of *equity* (investment) values, to organize socially-necessary production.

Thanks for joining the conversation.
On the question of the value of a dollar. Isn't it set by the market and/or by the Gov. setting a minimum wage?

I don't get what you mean by social necessity or by 'plain' necessary. I suppose someone needs to own the land. Is that what you mean?

I would suggest a progressive tax structure that is exponential. That is, it goes way, way up for the over half a billion $$ in net worth crowd. And the corresponding incomes are to be heavily [90%] taxed too. In fact I would have a very high net worth tax at the start to take away the wealth that the rentiers have accumulated over the last 3 decades. I'm not sure how high it needs to be but maybe 20% for 3 years and then reduce it to 7%.
And all income needs to be taxed at the same rate with Capital gains indexed for inflation. [But, not for risk.]
I have suggested that the Constitution limit the number of allowed deductions. This would simplify taxes a lot, and end all the exemptions for this and that. Maybe 5 is enough. One would be expenses for corps., but what is an expense? Why can the CEO get a free car but his workers can't deduct the cost of their cars?

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