Try it, you’ll like it

Hello Kind Readers

Regular commentator Bedazzled Crone, made these comments on my previous Post “Jungles of the Mind”

I thought my response warranted its own Post.

Here are Bedazzled Crones comments

Rwanda would have happened anyway. The Hutu just would have slaughtered Tutsi with guns rather than machetes. It was a deliberate attempt at ethnic cleansing by the Hutu. Soldiers, government officials and business leaders organised the killings and were joined by a Hutu militia, the Interahamwe.

Progress has brought about the end of hunger? Where? There are plenty of people in western countries – particularly in the U.S. – who go to sleep hungry.

I have a few questions about this corporatism versus capitalism debate. Didn’t the corporations evolve (adapt) out of capitalism? Has there ever been “pure capitalism”? Just what is “pure capitalism”? How will pure capitalism end poverty, for example? How will it deal with those who “can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps” for any number of reasons? Adam Smith believed that there was a role for government, for example, he believed that tariffs were necessary, at times, although he was against monopolies and mercantilism. His influence has lasted; you can see it in both John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman – two very different economists.

Actually these are questions that I should put on Ray’s blog about capitalism.

AND HERE IS MY REPLY

Hello Bedazzled Crone, thanks for commenting.

But I don’t think you are reading closely enough.

If every Tutsi village had had an armed and trained local militia, they would have been able to stand up for themselves, instead of being led like lambs to the slaughter, hiding in churches, praying to god it wouldn’t be them who was next to fall under the blade.

In fact the Tutsi didn’t even have machetes to defend themselves with.

On a separate and ominous note, certain groups in the UK are currently attempting to ban kitchen knives.

Governments have been the largest killers of their own citizens in the 20th century. We in Canada are very lucky to have such a benevolent one. The monopoly (as with any monopoly) on the use of force is a very dangerous thing, and can quickly be used against the citizens it is meant to protect.

“Progress” has brought the end of hunger all over the world. You have read “the skeptical environmentalist” maybe you should get your own copy for reference.

From page 61 of the 2005 edition:

According to the UN’s definition, a person is starving if he or she does not get sufficient food to perform light physical activity… Globally the proportion of starving has fallen from 35 percent to 18 percent… This should be compared to an estimated 45 percent of developing country people starving in 1949.

Lomborg is not saying that hunger has ended, or that inequality has ended. He is merely stating that we have made “progress” – ooooh that word again, so loaded –  The thing that Marxism has done to poison economic debate has been to inject the fantastical notion that equality of outcomes is a thing to strive for, and would ever be possible. Look at the total failure of every Marxist based economy to provide the for the basic needs of it’s citizens. In the long run almost all of them revert to becoming subsistence economies. All in the name of “equality”. In the case of North Korea, it seems like the country is committing a form of national suicide.

Some will always be more equal than others.

So many people, especially in the social welfare states of the west feel they are “owed” something. At whose expense?

Point by point responses on the rest of your comments

I have a few questions about this corporatism versus capitalism debate. Didn’t the corporations evolve (adapt) out of capitalism?

No – corporations – that is, large economic entities made up of groups of individuals whose energies are harnessed for a common goal – in various forms have always existed – in fact Adam Smith argued against monopolistic mercantilist entities such as the British East India company. Capitalism – a term coined by Marx – was a way of describing the functioning of the economic system as he saw it. You need to read this article on “What is Corporatist America”. Then we can discuss some more.

It is worthy to note, that without corporations, almost all of our modern world would disappear in an instant. Our art, our culture, our cars etc. etc. Please see chapter 9 of Ray Harvey’s book “Leave Us Alone; A Capitalist Credo”

I will also be posting next, the literary piece “I, pencil” that gets to heart of this matter.

You say:
Has there ever been “pure capitalism”? Just what is “pure capitalism”? How will pure capitalism end poverty, for example? How will it deal with those who “can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps” for any number of reasons?

Capitalism offers people opportunity to improve their lives through freedom

To turn your question around, has there ever been “pure socialism”? Just what is “pure socialism”? How will pure “socialism” end poverty, for example? How will it deal with those who “can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps” for any number of reasons?

Socialism offers people forced redistribution to attempt to equalize perceived inequalities.

If anyone was paying attention, that is exactly what the UN was trying to achieve with the Copenhagen Climate Accord in the name of global equality of outcomes – forced redistribution of 45 trillion dollars. In the interest of promoting the “green” economy.

You can read about it here in their own document.

UN-greeneconomy

It is interesting to note that for every “green” job in created in Spain – 2.2 other jobs were lost through forced redistribution of wealth into “green” boondoggles such as windmill manufacturing.

You can read about that here.

090327-employment-public-aid-renewable

For more on why windpower is an expensive plaything for the rich nations of the west who wish to appear “green”, please go to this website – MasterResource.org

Windpower Is Not an Infant Industry!

Here is an excerpt

Windpower is another case of bad economics and bad quality. Wind is actually worse than solar because micro wind for off the grid is not a niche market. Ever seen a wind turbine in the middle of nowhere powering something? I haven’t. But I have seen solar panels in the middle of nowhere doing the work of electricity.

Capitalism, and the freedom it entails, does the most to improve peoples lives through giving them opportunity, and creating the greatest amount of economic growth. Which is in fact what most people want – a chance to better their lives, improve their lot.

Some people will never “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”, no matter how much government intervention occurs in the name of “equality of outcomes”. The way that the social welfare state has chosen to deal with such people is permanent welfare and subsidized housing, with the implicit agreement that they won’t rob the upper classes.

When I was a bike courier, I had an Inuit friend who, due to his ethnic heritage had the opourtunity for a completely free education. He stated that he would rather go back up north to live because you didn’t need much of an education. Of course it may be that his own goals in life did not include higher education. And that is fine. How to you measure the equality of outcomes between him and myself?

I desired a “higher” standard of living for myself and my at the time theoretical offspring, therefore I was willing to go into debt to the tune of almost $18 000 dollars. I now use the education and skills I recieved in my daily life, and have a decent job in part because if it.

I have a friend who is now a banker in NYC. He went into $250 000 of debt in order to have the opportunity to compete in the world of high finance. Of course he also works 12-14 hour days, so how do you measure that equality of outcomes? As well let’s just say he was very lucky to keep his job in the last year, even though he is very intelligent and talented, and it hasn’t done wonders for his pay, as most of his base salary is taken up by the basic living costs of residing in Manhattan, and being the sole breadwinner because his wife doesn’t have a green card. The rest of his pay is made up in bonuses of which there weren’t many to go around due to the global economic crisis

There is a person at my work, who when I was talking about capitalism, said that’s all fine and good, but is it fair that someone makes 12 million dollars at a corporation. Of course there are issues with perverse incentives for non performance in the corporate world(and in government) but at the same time he is perfectly free and able in our country to get a student loan, go back to school for economics, or business admin, and get a job in the world of banking, and have the same opportunity. He is a smart guy.

My wife’s uncle started out with nothing more than a basic degree from Carleton university and ended up the number 2 at Royal Bank. How is that for equality of outcomes?

And who decides what is equal? How do we measure? Better to give everyone the maximum amount if freedom to pursue their own goals.

Adam Smith believed that there was a role for government

Agreed. I also feel there is a need for a limited role for government in our societies.

for example, he believed that tariffs were necessary, at times,

Agreed. I never said they weren’t.

although he was against monopolies and mercantilism.

Agreed and stated above.

His influence has lasted; you can see it in both John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman – two very different economists.

Your point? Good ideas stand the test of time. The marketplace of ideas if you will.

May I also point out that Keynsianism, coupled with our global fiat currency system is now crushing many of the western socialized welfare states(I am including the USA in that description) under mountains of debt that they will never pay off, without hyperinflation of their currencies. I can see the EU-SDR – “European Union of Social Democratic Republics” beginning to burst at the seams. And even some US states are considering greater autonomy from their corrupt and bloated federal government.

The Grasping Hand

The problem is that you continue to view “capitalism” and “competition” through your lens of Marxist critique, I am guessing it was ingrained in you in the 60’s by some professors who were apologists for Stalinism and you haven’t been able to shake it since.

The socialist superstate that was the USSR collapsed under it’s own weight. It was predestined to fail. But the bankrupt ideas that it spawned continue to hold credibility in the west, probably because we didn’t have to suffer under it’s horrible yoke. Ask anyone who grew up behind the iron curtain if they are better off now that they aren’t forced to be “equal”.

Competition is good. I won’t go so far as to pull a “Gordon Gecko”, but he is a caricature in any case.

Monopolistic Corporations don’t like it because it means they may lose their market share. Socialists of all creeds and colours – Red, Green, don’t like it because it means their elite technocrats don’t get to run the world, as the common man or woman knows best how to fulfill their own desires, and make themselves happy. Large bureaucracies(public or private) of any kind full of self-interested and entitled people don’t like it.

I like it.

“Communist” China likes it so much that they have harnessed elements of it to raise millions upon millions of people out of abject poverty.

Maybe you should try it – you might like it too.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Try it, you’ll like it

  1. You might not want to use North Korea as an example of the failure of Communism – it is now, and has always been, a despotic state run by a family of madmen. Its policies and politics defy simple categorization, and while their basic social order derives some of its principles from Communism, the influence of Marx on the country is tiny compared to that of the crazy people who rule it with an iron fist.

    Likewise it’s disingenuous to say that all attempts to create communist countries have failed economically because of central flaws in communism, when the story of the last sixty years of American foreign policy has been to ensure that Communist states fail by any means necessary, be it coup, invasion, or economic sabotage.

    Who knows how the USSR might have done had they not spent most of their resources building up their own military to prevent America from beating them in the arms race, while spending the rest propping up sympathetic countries around the world to defend them from American sabotage.

  2. I will address some of the issues that you have brought up in your post over a number of comments. Don’t want to make them too long. This is the first response to something that was a little ad hominem, n’est-ce pas? So to clarify:

    POG: The problem is that you continue to view “capitalism” and “competition” through your lens of Marxist critique, I am guessing it was ingrained in you in the 60’s by some professors who were apologists for Stalinism and you haven’t been able to shake it since.

    BC: My intro PoliSci prof. in 1968/69 was Polish and hardly a Marxist. He taught at Conrad Grebel College (attached to the U of Waterloo where I was a computer science/math major). If I were anything, I was first and foremost an existentialist in my late teens (when I read Sartre, Nietzsche & others) and my 20s. I was an ardent supporter of human rights, and already, seriously critical of “systems”. The main influences on my philosophical thinking were Erich Fromm (Escape From Freedom, Beyond the Chains of Illusion, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness), A. S. Neill (Summerhill), John Holt (Escape From Childhood) but probably, one of the most important was Ivan Illich (Medical Nemesis, and Deschooling Society). These writers do not a “Marxist” make! If I have “socialist roots”, they are derived from two basic areas.

    The first is the reality of being the daughter of a steel mill ladleliner. The owner of the “means of production” always needs to be forced to do right by the very people that allow the owner to make his/its profits & he/it sure as hell didn’t/doesn’t want to share it around. My father led sit-down strikes, my Dad was laid off. I doubt very much that he gave a damn about socialism, marxism or anything else along that line. What he did care about were his and his fellow steel workers human rights; – the right to work in a safe environment and the right to a fair wage for a day’s work. The labour movement wasn’t about “socialism/Marxism” as far as I can see – it was about individual human rights. And, sometimes, you needed/need to come together collectively to assert those rights. It is those “capitalists” and their government cronies that labelled the labour movement as “socialist” as it became a corrupted “big business” itself, particularly in the United States. This eventually led to the McCarthy hearings in the US – talk about moral panic creators). What is wrong with people wanting to collectively better themselves? Why is there a need to “break the unions”? Shouldn’t the goal be to bring everyone up to the economic (and benefit) levels achieved by some of the unions so that people get “fair wage for a fair day’s work”? Instead, what we see is the attempts to break the unions through government legislation; the branding of unions as “socialist” or “marxist”. Break the unions so that everyone can slowly find their economic status devolving to that of the level of the people who work at Walmart or McDonald’s. Breaking the unions abrogates my individual right to act collectively should I want to, if you will.

    The second comes clearly from my social gospel United Church of Canada Christian roots. Jesus as the Dude! The worldview that I inherited there and still maintain to a large extent (although the rationale is quite different, since I am no longer a believer) would argue that human beings are interdependent. We are indeed our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers. We always need to care about those who have less than we do. We need to care about those who are injured, who are treated unjustly. Empathy is the thing that differentiates us from most other animals. The ability to care about other human beings should matter as much as “systems”. Sometimes, I think that that is the core of the problem with most “systems” – no matter what they are: the tendency to forget that we are talking about individual human beings who get hurt by these systems. Commodification of the human being seems to be a tendancy of all economic & philosophical (etc.) systems. Altruism may have its roots in The Selfish Gene, but it is a fact that humans seem to be willing to support one another as they are to kill one another – in the evolutionary context. No matter what is in our genetic inheritance, we are thinking beings; we can envision a future different from the one we live in. Historically speaking, human beings are constantly finding ways to overcome their genetic inheritance through creating alternative scenarios, different religions, different societies, different childrearing methods, and different hierarchical or non-hierarchical forms of governance – all for the sole purpose of finding out how we can live interdependently. I doubt very much that that is “socialism” or “Marxism”.

  3. Whoops. My first year was 1967/68 and the only course I passed was Political Science. Mind you, I didn’t write any of my last exams in the day when they were worth a minimum of 75% to 100% of your final mark. Math wasn’t for me, psych was behaviouralist (I hated it because it was so deterministic) and I bloody well knew more about philosophy than my professor who was a PhD student, with a rigid understanding of just about every aspect that he taught. Needless to say, my first year at university was extremely disillusioning. I went back when I learned to “suck it up” in compulsory courses that I hated.

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