27 votes

Capitalism isn't 'broken'. It's working all too well - and we're the worse for it

27 comments

  1. [4]
    aphoenix Link
    This seems like "ackshuallyism" to me - when people say "Capitalism is broken" what they mean is that it acts in this way. The fact that exploitation exists in Capitalism is what is broken. To say...

    This seems like "ackshuallyism" to me - when people say "Capitalism is broken" what they mean is that it acts in this way. The fact that exploitation exists in Capitalism is what is broken. To say it is a feature of capitalism is kind of missing the point.

    Moreover, switching to fully democratic / socialist systems categorically do not work either. We need to find middle grounds that use the best of the systems that we have to make the best changes. Capitalism is broken. Socialism is broken. Communism is super broken. There are drawbacks to all of the systems, and we need to find ways to use what works in each of them so that everyone benefits.

    Look at the places in the world that have the best systems (Canada, the Nordic countries, etc); they're all capitalist countries that are regulated with socialist constructs to protect the people. That's less of a step away from the unbridled capitalism of the US, and a better solution than just trying to destroy the rich and change who owns everything.

    11 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara Link Parent
      Most of the countries established these systems after 2 world wars that basically killed off huge swathes of the people who owned everything and had massive, nationwide mobilizations where they...

      Look at the places in the world that have the best systems (Canada, the Nordic countries, etc); they're all capitalist countries that are regulated with socialist constructs to protect the people. That's less of a step away from the unbridled capitalism of the US, and a better solution than just trying to destroy the rich and change who owns everything.

      Most of the countries established these systems after 2 world wars that basically killed off huge swathes of the people who owned everything and had massive, nationwide mobilizations where they collectively managed almost everything in their economies.

      In countries where that didn't happen, the only places where systemic economic reform ever actually took were places that enacted ambitious programs for land reform which, functionally, is expropriating the property of the rich and redistributing it.

      This is all borne out in painstaking detail by Thomas Piketty's work. At some point you just get a critical mass of too much market power being in too few hands and it sets in motion a feedback loop that leads to them being able to skim more and more of the fruits of everyone's labor. The only way around this that has worked we've had that has worked is exogenous events that scatter out these agglomerations of ownership and control. Barbarian invasions, political revolutions, world wars, and plagues have been the process historically (there is a ton of scholarship about how the Black Death might have contributed to Europe's industrialization).

      Collectivizing and redistributionist programs are the civilized, non-violent means to achieve similar results without needing to have paroxysms of violence. But how well that can work depends entirely on the willingness of the people at the top to make the short term sacrifices for long term social stability.

      12 votes
      1. [2]
        aphoenix Link Parent
        Doesn't Piketty suggest a progressive tax on the rich and government constraints? That's not what the author of this article seems to be looking for:

        Doesn't Piketty suggest a progressive tax on the rich and government constraints? That's not what the author of this article seems to be looking for:

        Desperate times call for radical measures. This starts with upending a system that was built to redistribute wealth and power from the many to the few. Working people and our families will not only survive, but thrive, from the jobs created by massive public investment in restructuring our energy grid and transforming our world. And we know the only ones willing to make that demand are those of us who are currently being squeezed by private interests for every last drop of profit. Young people know this, especially, but it will take all of us. Rather than trying to fix capitalism, we should be seeking to replace it.

        1 vote
        1. NaraVara Link Parent
          The scope of Piketty's analysis is constrained to understanding the roots of wealth inequality. Not all the ills in society. Climate change will still be a thing that demands grand solutions...

          Doesn't Piketty suggest a progressive tax on the rich and government constraints?

          The scope of Piketty's analysis is constrained to understanding the roots of wealth inequality. Not all the ills in society. Climate change will still be a thing that demands grand solutions itself, but fixing wealth inequality will fix some political inequality that will make it more possible to muster the political will to do something.

  2. alyaza Link
    this is an op-ed by Maria Svart, who is the national director of the DSA; for a contrarian opinion to this one that this has been informally bundled with it by the guardian, see Don’t believe the...

    this is an op-ed by Maria Svart, who is the national director of the DSA; for a contrarian opinion to this one that this has been informally bundled with it by the guardian, see Don’t believe the naysayers: Capitalism is healthier than it appears o'er yonder by the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Strain

    6 votes
  3. [9]
    moonbathers Link
    I've become convinced over the last year that any kind of capitalism in which there's a class of people that hold the money and land will never work for everyone. It is wrong to me that someone...

    I've become convinced over the last year that any kind of capitalism in which there's a class of people that hold the money and land will never work for everyone. It is wrong to me that someone who already has one or the other or both has a leg up on people who don't. Someone shouldn't be able to make thousands of dollars a year just by owning a building and doing nothing but renting it out to people.

    I want to see a world where executives don't make an order of magnitude or more money than their lowest-paid employees. I want to see a world where everyone is taken care of, where you don't have to pay money for insurance, where everyone works together to benefit everyone. As long as there's an insulated upper class, humanity will never reach its full potential.

    Imagine how much better-off society would be if the people who go to private schools used their resources to make public schools better. Imagine if we weren't held hostage by monopolies in industries like internet service, and instead your city/county handled everyone's internet service. These things will never happen under capitalism because people with money will fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are, to keep their money and power. They are less accountable to society than the rest of us and working together to create stronger communities and governments is the only way to fix that.

    5 votes
    1. [7]
      papasquat Link Parent
      That's every form of capitalism. The term refers to private ownership of the means of production. I don't think capitalism will ever work for everyone, depending on what you mean by that either. I...

      I've become convinced over the last year that any kind of capitalism in which there's a class of people that hold the money and land will never work for everyone.

      That's every form of capitalism. The term refers to private ownership of the means of production. I don't think capitalism will ever work for everyone, depending on what you mean by that either. I also don't think fuedalism, socialism, or communism would ever work for everyone either though. Historically, socialism has meant centrally planned economies, which we have enough hard evidence of by this point as being extremely inefficient, and highly prone to corruption. I've heard of proposals for pure socialist societies with market economies (basically forcing all businesses to be worker co-ops), but I've never heard the implications of that totally talked through (if the business fails, are all the workers now in debt for instance), and I've never seen an example of it ever working on a large scale.
      Ultimately, the societies that people point to as the most free, happy places to live in the world (canada, finland, norway, the netherlands, sweden) are all staunchly capitalist places. Private ownership of capital is the norm, the government encourages private business, and corporate tax rates are fairly low.
      The difference between those places and places where people point to "capitalism failing" (the US and UK mainly) are that those places have policies that help poor people, they have strong anti trust protection, and markets are well regulated. Their countries are just better run. They have the same basic economic framework as the rest of the first world.
      Capitalism doesn't "work for everyone" in those places, but it works for most people. That's the best we've got so far.

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        moonbathers Link Parent
        Capitalism doesn't work for anyone except for business owners and the wealthy. If you're not at the top of your place of work (and you work in the private sector), someone is skimming off the top...

        I don't think capitalism will ever work for everyone, depending on what you mean by that either.

        Capitalism doesn't work for anyone except for business owners and the wealthy. If you're not at the top of your place of work (and you work in the private sector), someone is skimming off the top of your labor.

        Historically, socialism has meant centrally planned economies, which we have enough hard evidence of by this point as being extremely inefficient, and highly prone to corruption.

        What makes governments more inefficient and prone to corruption than the private sector? Regardless, I'm not talking about a centrally planned economy.

        I've heard of proposals for pure socialist societies with market economies (basically forcing all businesses to be worker co-ops), but I've never heard the implications of that totally talked through (if the business fails, are all the workers now in debt for instance), and I've never seen an example of it ever working on a large scale.

        That's not a valid argument against socialism. Democracy hadn't worked on a scale as large as modern countries before it was tried. I don't have an answer for your hypothetical, but how often are executives of a business on the hook for the business's debt if it fails now?

        The difference between those places and places where people point to "capitalism failing" (the US and UK mainly) are that those places have policies that help poor people, they have strong anti trust protection, and markets are well regulated. Their countries are just better run. They have the same basic economic framework as the rest of the first world.

        Countries with safety nets and strong regulation are better-run, yes, but people can still make money just by already having it and I don't think that's fair. Someone shouldn't be able to turn a massive profit just by owning apartment buildings.

        8 votes
        1. [5]
          papasquat Link Parent
          Mostly their monopoly on legal violence. The private sector can only be as corrupt as regulations and enforcement allow them to be. There's no one to regulate the government, so giving them...

          What makes governments more inefficient and prone to corruption than the private sector?

          Mostly their monopoly on legal violence. The private sector can only be as corrupt as regulations and enforcement allow them to be. There's no one to regulate the government, so giving them complete control of an entire economy is highly prone to corruption.

          Someone shouldn't be able to turn a massive profit just by owning apartment buildings.

          Why? They financed the construction of the building, or bought it from someone who didn't. If they hadn't, the building wouldn't exist. What incentive would they have to build them in the first place without profit as a motive?

          1. [4]
            moonbathers Link Parent
            The government is accountable to the people (who I know can be easily manipulated, but still). Private companies are only accountable when the government holds them accountable. Because the return...

            Mostly their monopoly on legal violence. The private sector can only be as corrupt as regulations and enforcement allow them to be. There's no one to regulate the government, so giving them complete control of an entire economy is highly prone to corruption.

            The government is accountable to the people (who I know can be easily manipulated, but still). Private companies are only accountable when the government holds them accountable.

            Why? They financed the construction of the building, or bought it from someone who didn't. If they hadn't, the building wouldn't exist. What incentive would they have to build them in the first place without profit as a motive?

            Because the return on projects like that is usually insane. Why should (to use a personal example) someone profit to the tune of $60,000 a year just for owning a three-story building and doing nothing with it but renting it? Providing a living space is valuable, but the amount of maintenance being done doesn't justify the absurd amount of money landlords make. I know people who do a lot more work (and a lot more valuable work) than that landlord and make a lot less than $60k a year and I don't think that's fair.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              papasquat Link Parent
              Mostly because the opposite happens a lot too. Those buildings are priced based on how much potential profit you can make, so buying one is always risky. There's just as much chance of no one...

              Because the return on projects like that is usually insane. Why should (to use a personal example) someone profit to the tune of $60,000 a year just for owning a three-story building and doing nothing with it but renting it?

              Mostly because the opposite happens a lot too. Those buildings are priced based on how much potential profit you can make, so buying one is always risky. There's just as much chance of no one renting it out, it depreciating in value, and the person that bought it losing a lot of money. If you're asking people to risk their livelihoods, there needs to be an incentive behind it.

              I know people who do a lot more work (and a lot more valuable work) than that landlord and make a lot less than $60k a year and I don't think that's fair.

              People who do work aren't required to stake their capital to get paid. When you get hired as an engineer, your company doesn't require a 2,000,000 dollar deposit that you may or may not actually get back. That rent is the motivator for people to engage in, at the end of the day, very risky decision making. Taking those risks are important though, and that kind of risk taking, thousands of times per day all over the place is how economies get more efficient.

              1. [2]
                moonbathers Link Parent
                Where in a major city in North America is a building not going to be rented out? There's no risk in building an apartment complex in pretty much any major American or Canadian city because they...

                Where in a major city in North America is a building not going to be rented out? There's no risk in building an apartment complex in pretty much any major American or Canadian city because they all have huge shortages of housing. Even my hometown of a quarter million is having trouble keeping up. I'm not going to speak for everywhere, but if you're among the vast majority of people that live in an urban area then chances are your city is doing pretty well and as long as you don't put your building in the middle of a swamp or something you'll do fine. A landlord will easily make their investment back from building or buying apartments through rent alone, let alone land value appreciation.

                1 vote
                1. papasquat Link Parent
                  It's not a risk of not being rented out, it's a risk of not being rented out for enough to cover what you paid for the place. New York City is a really hot real estate market, and buildings are...

                  It's not a risk of not being rented out, it's a risk of not being rented out for enough to cover what you paid for the place. New York City is a really hot real estate market, and buildings are priced accordingly. Because you're spending so much on land/real estate, you also have to make a lot of money in rent to cover that investment. If the area you buy in starts to decline, or the housing market takes a downturn or whatever, you're losing a lot of money. Real estate is very far from a guaranteed thing.

                  Obviously the people buying real estate in new york are usually going to be well off (or more likely, will be part of a large pool of investors that share stock in a real estate company), but they still need to be incentivized to spend that money. There are plenty of landlords that go out of business, so that risk has to be worth it. I don't say that in order to get you to sympathize with rich land owners, I say it because it's necessary for the system to work.

    2. cantstandit Link Parent
      High corporate taxes went pretty far in keeping the workers paid better. If the profits were just going to be taxed, the business usually chose to spend the money rather than pay it in taxes....

      High corporate taxes went pretty far in keeping the workers paid better. If the profits were just going to be taxed, the business usually chose to spend the money rather than pay it in taxes. Trickle down theory was just the opposite of the reality. When taxes are lowered for the wealthy, the money flows upwards to them. When taxes are higher, then there is a trickle down to people who benefit from the CEO's willingness to spend more money, to avoid taxes.

  4. [8]
    45930 Link
    In my experience with the DSA, they seem at best goodhearted without fully thought-through ideas. The biggest point of contention I have with them is the lack of definition about what capitalism...

    In my experience with the DSA, they seem at best goodhearted without fully thought-through ideas.

    The biggest point of contention I have with them is the lack of definition about what capitalism means. I see it used vaguely and/or as an alias for <current US socio-political situation>. I think that this one point has huge implications in any debate about proper economic policy, and what the socialism-as-a-meme crowd is missing is that if you "dismantle capitalism", you will lose some amount of total output that can be shared amongst the people. I wouldn't venture so far as to quantify that, but it's too common to think the GDP is $x per year, so if you split that between n people, we'd each get $x/n per year! That's a fallacy. Actually plugging in the numbers and predicting how far total production would fall should be a priority for anyone proposing a socialist policy.

    When I talk about capitalism, I mean a system by which producers and consumers negotiate a market price for any given market without outside interference. And I also make the assumption that people are interested in their own benefit so that for any market, the highest bidder is not bidding more than they think something is worth, and the lowest seller is not selling for less than what they think something is worth. I couldn't agree on the assumption that people are self-interested with a DSA friend of mine in a facebook debate one time, and I think that's fine, but it disqualifies him and me from talking about capitalism, because we can't agree on what it is.

    Some things that that the US does, that are NOT capitalism, are give subsidies to special interests, limit who is allowed to provide certain services (trading securities, telecom services, etc..), and on the other side, restrict employment to specific conditions (min wage, overtime, safety standards), operate market entities to produce goods and sell them for less than what they are worth (primary school, NPR & PBS). Obviously not an exhaustive list, but I just mean to illustrate ways in which we are not living under capitalism and the C word can't be used interchangeably with America (using my definition).

    IMO, where me and DSA can find common ground is in supporting specific policies and politicians that will reduce the amount of aid that the US government is giving to corporations, and increasing the amount of aid that it is giving to people in need. Unfortunately, I think their rhetoric is far too incendiary and lacking in substance to be useful in shaping policy. While I have my differences with them, I am happy to recognize the value of local organizers in winning elections across the country for progressive candidates. Maybe rabid and undercooked populism is what the left needs to rile people up and get them to the polls, even if the candidates they're supporting are not rabid and undercooked. Yet I am all too aware of the power of people responding to us vs them rhetoric and their ability to elect utterly poor candidates to office. I hope that we don't end up over-radicalizing such that when the left comes back into power in force we make bad policy.

    2 votes
    1. [7]
      moonbathers Link Parent
      Why should GDP be the end all be all though? I won't speak for all socialists but I would think our measurements of our country's happiness and quality of life would be better ways to measure...

      I think that this one point has huge implications in any debate about proper economic policy, and what the socialism-as-a-meme crowd is missing is that if you "dismantle capitalism", you will lose some amount of total output that can be shared amongst the people. I wouldn't venture so far as to quantify that, but it's too common to think the GDP is $x per year, so if you split that between n people, we'd each get $x/n per year! That's a fallacy. Actually plugging in the numbers and predicting how far total production would fall should be a priority for anyone proposing a socialist policy.

      Why should GDP be the end all be all though? I won't speak for all socialists but I would think our measurements of our country's happiness and quality of life would be better ways to measure success. I'd rather make 30k a year and be happy than make 60k and be miserable.

      5 votes
      1. [6]
        45930 Link Parent
        That’s a valid line of thought, but a) Socialism still isn’t extremely popular in the US. Are we talking about you and your friends being happy or everyone being happy? b) There’s not a well...

        That’s a valid line of thought, but

        a) Socialism still isn’t extremely popular in the US. Are we talking about you and your friends being happy or everyone being happy?

        b) There’s not a well tested system that we know of to model happiness. If we get rid of capitalism and replace it with the intent of increasing happiness, we need to have a fairly good idea of how that will work.

        In the world where happiness is the metric, will there be happiness inequality? Will 1% of the most happy people have 50% of the happiness?

        It’s easy to say you’d rather have half the money but double the happiness with the lens of today’s understanding of money, but if you throw the concept of money out the door, how can you estimate how much you would need? In capitalism, everyone maximizes their own amount of money, and with that money they can do what they want. Many people find happiness that way. It’s also possible for the individual to earn less money that they could, but doing something that they love, and they have happiness that way. If you want to make the personal choice to halve your income, I’m sure that’s possible today, but what happiness do you gain? It’s sort of up to you to determine.

        Anyways, my whole point is that to enter a serious discussion (not tildes, more like senate floor) about replacing capitalism, you need to have something more tangibles than “what if we measured happiness instead of money”? Economic output of a certain level is necessary for happiness of the masses. If there’s no doctors because being a doctor doesn’t make people happy, then there’s no universal healthcare. If there’s no food because farming doesn’t make people happy, then you will not be happy. The system you put forth has to incentivize people to perform necessary actions.

        1 vote
        1. [5]
          moonbathers Link Parent
          Something's popularity doesn't determine what's right. Trump's approval rating is a bit over 40% and even with the most charitable interpretation of him he's an incompetent idiot. I'm sure people...

          Something's popularity doesn't determine what's right. Trump's approval rating is a bit over 40% and even with the most charitable interpretation of him he's an incompetent idiot. I'm sure people would be unhappy in the short run if they have to make some sacrifices, but in the long run we'd all be better off under socialism than we are now.

          Happiness isn't a tangible thing to measure, no, but when the same few countries consistently rank at the top of the list of happiest countries I think they're on to something. I'm not saying do away with the concept of money, I'm saying it shouldn't be the end-all be-all of a person or country's success. Yes, you do need a certain economic output for everyone to be happy, but we're (the United States, but this applies to all developed countries) the richest country in the history of humanity and have more than enough resources to make sure everyone is healthy and has a safe home.

          The system I'm putting forth is one where the rewards of everyone's labor don't go to a select few at the top. Limit the difference in compensation between the highest and lowest-paid employees of a company and suddenly everyone's getting a raise. Nationalize all forms of insurance so that people don't have to fight tooth and nail to get their cancer treated. Outlaw all private schools so that the resources that were going to them (and further stratifying the divide between the haves and have-nots) can be shared among everyone and create better schools for everyone. Regulate internet service as a utility and nationalize that, too (or give control of it to the city / county / etc). Everyone will still get paid and still have their incentives to do things.

          Society is better off when people work together. Right now we have an upper class that takes money from the rest of us and walls themselves off. It's the same "I've got mine, forget everyone else" attitude that's making climate change so much worse than it has to be.

          6 votes
          1. [4]
            45930 Link Parent
            We would? We'd all be better under socialism? I didn't say that it was, I simply defined what I think Capitalism means. Sure they are. Cultural homogeneity, racial homogeneity, physical closeness,...

            I'm sure people would be unhappy in the short run if they have to make some sacrifices, but in the long run we'd all be better off under socialism than we are now.

            We would? We'd all be better under socialism?

            I'm not saying do away with the concept of money, I'm saying it shouldn't be the end-all be-all of a person or country's success

            I didn't say that it was, I simply defined what I think Capitalism means.

            Happiness isn't a tangible thing to measure, no, but when the same few countries consistently rank at the top of the list of happiest countries I think they're on to something.

            Sure they are. Cultural homogeneity, racial homogeneity, physical closeness, lack of war, longstanding cultural predisposition to community, consumption of goods produced by USA and China. Last time I was in Norway, they seemed perfectly happy to trade their goods and services for my money. Under the definition that I put forth, they still operate under capitalism, with government intervention in various specific markets just like the USA. The markets they choose to interfere in are different, but the concept of the free market is not fundamentally different.

            we're the richest country in the history of humanity and have more than enough resources to make sure everyone is healthy and has a safe home.

            We became the richest country in the world through exploitation of the working class. If we stop exploiting the working class, we will no longer be the richest country in the history of humanity. At that time, neither you nor I can guarantee how many resources we'll have.

            The system I'm putting forth is one where the rewards of everyone's labor don't go to a select few at the top.

            Citation needed

            Limit the difference in compensation between the highest and lowest-paid employees of a company and suddenly everyone's getting a raise.

            Or they are getting fired

            Nationalize all forms of insurance so that people don't have to fight tooth and nail to get their cancer treated.

            Something I generally agree with, but you're lacking implementation details

            Outlaw all private schools so that the resources that were going to them can be shared among everyone and create better schools for everyone.

            How do you plan to capture the resources going to a $100k per year private high school? Will you charge rich people $100k to attend public school?

            Regulate internet service as a utility and nationalize that, too

            Again, sure, but what's the implementation?

            Overall, I'm not in disagreement with the outcome you want, but I think you, like so many others are severely under-scrutinizing your assumptions. Part of the reason why socialism has been successful in some places is that in other cultures, people care about their countrymen. Americans, by and large, don't. Even you, in your first sentence, say "sure, socialism isn't popular, but I don't care about the people who will be harmed by it" (paraphrase). Rich people in socialist countries comply with the policies. There is so much efficiency gained by having people with more happily play ball and support people with less. White people in socialist countries think of black people as equals in citizenship and worthiness of support.

            Corporations in the USA today, generally speaking, only follow the law if it's convenient. Rich people don't pay as much tax as they're supposed to. Poor white people hate poor black people. There is a lack of trust in the police. Our culture from day 1 has been to break rules that you don't like, take what you want if you can, and value personal freedoms above personal comfort. I'm not saying that we can't change the culture, or that it hasn't changed over time. I'm not saying that you have to leave if you don't like the culture. What I am saying is that, IMO, the lack of national unity, lack of care for our fellow citizen, and overall personal greed filters us out of the list of countries that socialism would work in for now. Socialism NEEDS support from the people to work.

            1. [3]
              moonbathers Link Parent
              Maybe not people who are obscenely rich, but they'd still be well off. I am going to strongly disagree with you about cultural and racial homogeneity being part of a nation's success, and to a...

              We would? We'd all be better under socialism?

              Maybe not people who are obscenely rich, but they'd still be well off.

              Cultural homogeneity, racial homogeneity, physical closeness, lack of war, longstanding cultural predisposition to community, consumption of goods produced by USA and China.

              I am going to strongly disagree with you about cultural and racial homogeneity being part of a nation's success, and to a lesser extent disagree with you about consumption of goods produced by the US and China. I agree with you on the rest, though. I also agree with you that those countries are still capitalist.

              We became the richest country in the world through exploitation of the working class. If we stop exploiting the working class, we will no longer be the richest country in the history of humanity. At that time, neither you nor I can guarantee how many resources we'll have.

              Is exploiting the working class not wrong to you? I want it to stop. I don't think the economy will collapse if execs and administrators stop making six and seven-figure salaries and the working class makes more. If anything GDP should go up because people spend more as they make more (up to a point).

              Or they are getting fired

              Management can't do everything by themselves. Companies need secretaries and janitors and other lower-level people to function. In addition, companies won't hire more low-level workers than they need, so they would either need to keep everyone they already have or lay some off and increase everyone's hours (and I'd regulate that more too).

              Something I generally agree with, but you're lacking implementation details

              All kinds of insurance work the exact same way, except the insurance company is the government. That removes the profit motive and instead gives the user a fair assessment of their risk.

              How do you plan to capture the resources going to a $100k per year private high school? Will you charge rich people $100k to attend public school?

              Put all property taxes into a fund at the state level and distribute them evenly instead of schools being funded at the city level. Income taxes should be raised as well.

              Again, sure, but what's the implementation?

              Your city or county is now your ISP and maintains the network. You pay them for this service and everything works as it does now.

              Part of the reason why socialism has been successful in some places is that in other cultures, people care about their countrymen. Americans, by and large, don't. Even you, in your first sentence, say "sure, socialism isn't popular, but I don't care about the people who will be harmed by it" (paraphrase).

              You're right, and it's unfortunate, but I don't think me not having sympathy for rich people who would still be rich is the same as "everyone else can suffer, I've got what I want."

              Our culture from day 1 has been to break rules that you don't like, take what you want if you can, and value personal freedoms above personal comfort. I'm not saying that we can't change the culture, or that it hasn't changed over time. I'm not saying that you have to leave if you don't like the culture. What I am saying is that, IMO, the lack of national unity, lack of care for our fellow citizen, and overall personal greed filters us out of the list of countries that socialism would work in for now. Socialism NEEDS support from the people to work.

              I don't know how we get people to support this stuff, but I'm going to try my best to get these policies passed regardless. We can't throw our arms up and give up just because our culture is so individualistic. We have to try even if a bunch of people are opposed to it.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                45930 Link Parent
                Well, agree to disagree for the most part. You're still sort of putting words in my mouth here: It's not the nation's success, it's the nation's successful implementation of socialist policies....

                Well, agree to disagree for the most part. You're still sort of putting words in my mouth here:

                I am going to strongly disagree with you about cultural and racial homogeneity being part of a nation's success

                It's not the nation's success, it's the nation's successful implementation of socialist policies.

                re:

                All kinds of insurance work the exact same way

                It's not like it's that simple to run an insurance pool. It's one thing in theory to simply lower prices a bit to the point that you're not making a profit, and get better-negotiated prices because you are a monopsony consumer, but the government still needs to review every claim, negotiate deals with hospitals and pharma, and do all the other shit that comes with operating an insurance company. Just because they don't care about a profit doesn't mean they don't care about running the business well. I believe this could work, but it's really really hard. The system has to be robust to a republican becoming president. The best way to do that is to actually get republicans on board. Republican voters are starting to turn on healthcare in polling, so maybe that's getting close. I don't think you will find long-term success with that kind of program by shoving it through during the first 2 years of a blue cycle. It would simply be removed later.

                Your city or county is now your ISP and maintains the network. You pay them for this service and everything works as it does now.

                I'm all in favor of this, but it's an area where rich liberal tech cities will be doing great, and everywhere else will be SOL. How will the Flint ISP hold up compared to Seattle's? Just like offloading welfare to individual states was probably good for people on welfare in blue states and bad for people in red states, I think local ISP's would be a disaster for a lot of the poor. Of course, I'll take it anyways. I think it's the way of the world that those people are going to be left behind by their inept leaders. But if you want national socialism to work, those are the exact people you need to slow down and wait for.

                1. moonbathers Link Parent
                  I don't know how to get Republicans on board. They're a party that's been led by criminals for the last half-century (not that the Democrats are perfect but they've been far better) and people eat...

                  I believe this could work, but it's really really hard. The system has to be robust to a republican becoming president. The best way to do that is to actually get republicans on board. Republican voters are starting to turn on healthcare in polling, so maybe that's getting close. I don't think you will find long-term success with that kind of program by shoving it through during the first 2 years of a blue cycle. It would simply be removed later.

                  I don't know how to get Republicans on board. They're a party that's been led by criminals for the last half-century (not that the Democrats are perfect but they've been far better) and people eat up everything they say about immigrants, colleges, democrats, minorities, etc. I agree with you that any system that we come up with has to survive a Republican presidency, but I'd rather shoot for the moon and have it be watered down by Republicans than compromise right off the bat and then have it be watered down by Republicans anyway.

                  How will the Flint ISP hold up compared to Seattle's? Just like offloading welfare to individual states was probably good for people on welfare in blue states and bad for people in red states, I think local ISP's would be a disaster for a lot of the poor.

                  In poor areas, let internet service be subsidized by wealthier areas. So Flint would get money from the state of Michigan to make up for it. I don't know how to hold Flint's leaders accountable if their internet service sucks, but there has to be a way somehow.

                  2 votes
  5. krg (edited ) Link
    Hmm..I felt both articles too shallow to be convincing one way or another. The economy is a nebulous beast where cause and effect is hard to pin down. Well, the current state of the economy is...

    Hmm..I felt both articles too shallow to be convincing one way or another. The economy is a nebulous beast where cause and effect is hard to pin down. Well, the current state of the economy is maybe the effect that results from those with "ambition" rising to the top. I'm not suggesting they belong there in a "social Darwinism" sense, more that their greed has put them in a position to set the rules (to an extent), which is why we're where we're at. So, in a new system how do we stamp out the desire for an accumulation of wealth and power? Without removing this desire I feel any system will eventually be dictated by a handful of people willing to take advantage of the masses.

    Edit: I read the article @BruceHad linked to and it explores the ideas I was thinking in a much more eloquent and reasoned way.

    1 vote
  6. Nmg Link
    So, I am reading a really interesting book called "Enlightenment Now" by Pinker. He quotes a person called Radelet, who wrote " In 1976 Mao singlehandedly and dramatically changed the direction of...

    So, I am reading a really interesting book called "Enlightenment Now" by Pinker.

    He quotes a person called Radelet, who wrote " In 1976 Mao singlehandedly and dramatically changed the direction of global poverty with one simple act: he died."

    Capitalism is not a perfect system, by no means, but it is superior to many other systems we have seen this far. Do you think the average farmer's child 250 years had to worry about what their gender identity is when they didn't even know if they would live through another day of famine??

    The world is more inequal than it's ever been, yes, but at the same time, we are expecting to eliminate global extreme poverty within 1-2 decades. That inequality may have deeply enriched the Gates, Buffets, and Musks of the world, but it also enriched everyone else too.

    There is a lot to work to do, and our economic system can still be improved, but anyone claiming that we need a revolution and start all over is doomed to repeat the history that they never bothered to learn.

    1 vote
  7. [3]
    BruceHad (edited ) Link
    So, communism? Edit to try to add something constructive: This article by George Monbiot is in the same vein but, I think, does a better job of analysing the problem.

    build a global economy based on democratic control of production

    So, communism?

    Edit to try to add something constructive:

    This article by George Monbiot is in the same vein but, I think, does a better job of analysing the problem.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      alyaza Link Parent
      no, because communism would have to involve the end of class, money, and the state. what you're quoting there would be the basis of an international socialist system if it were put into practice.

      So, communism?

      no, because communism would have to involve the end of class, money, and the state. what you're quoting there would be the basis of an international socialist system if it were put into practice.

      3 votes