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What is capitalism?

 
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 11:36 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
A good bottle of scotch makes me happy.


There really is no accounting for taste!
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 12:23 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
You are the making bogus claims that society is deteriorating under capitalism.


The fact that you have already decided my claim is bogus before you have even understood what I am claiming gives me pause.

Quote:
If this were true than we would be seeing things getting worse, while over the past several hundred years they have been undeniably getting better (not perfect, but definitely better).


Better in your neck of the woods perhaps. I am not complaining about that. It's great where I live too. I am very lucky. But I see how it is in other parts of the world, and I see connections between the wealth where I live and the poverty elsewhere. My original claim was that capitalism is more similar to religion. One founded on economic principles rather than moral principles.

In my experience, almost every time I make an objection to capitalism based on moral principles, the counter is a justification based on economic principles, almost as if one replaces the other. Our acceptance of the status quo and the realities that perpetuate it has an element of blind faith to it.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 01:27 pm
@Cyracuz,
I don't think that moral principles are a valid way to look at an economic system. If you object based on moral principles, the objection is only valid if I accept your moral principles. But, moral principles are personal. Everyone has a different view.

Let me ask this question.

Let's say that I don't agree with your moral principles. Are you saying that you should be able, through economic policy, to force me to accept them?

It seems to me that an economic system should have little to do with moral principles other than its intrinsic purpose. The idea that moral principles should be imposed on me by an economic system is troubling to me.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 02:40 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
I don't think that moral principles are a valid way to look at an economic system.


I agree. But that does not mean that the economic system frees you from having to consider the moral quality of your actions. Yet, that is how capitalism is used today, which means that it is replacing religion. Capitalism today serves the function christianity did 600 years ago.

Quote:
The idea that moral principles should be imposed on me by an economic system is troubling to me.


I find it more troubling that an economic system should leave no room for moral values, and such ample excuse to disregard morals completely.

Quote:
Let's say that I don't agree with your moral principles. Are you saying that you should be able, through economic policy, to force me to accept them?


No! And yet capitalism does that very thing. I do not agree that charging intrest is a morally defensible practice. It should be against the law, as it creates economic slavery. This is a morally questionable situation, but the moral side of it is rarely even considered, as it is treated as an economic issue.

I also think that having to pay someone who owns the land I sleep on for the right to sleep there is a sick practice. That man is just lucky he was the one to "own" it the day it was decided to take inventory, and stop butchering eachother outright, figuratively speaking of course.

These are two issues that are of a moral character, but that are never even considered as such because the economic considerations obscure all others.




maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 03:29 pm
@Cyracuz,
Wait a second! Capitalism does no such thing. It does not force you to act against your moral values. It allows other people to act against your moral values. It doesn't force you to do anything. It frees other people from your moral values (which you may not like, but I think is a good thing).

I am very happy to pay interest. Interest is the reason I am able to have my own house right now. Interest has saved me money in the long run since if I weren't paying a bank interest on my mortgage I would be paying a landlord rent. In my experience interest is good for me as a borrower (and good for the bank).

For you to tell me that I can't pay interest to a bank in order to buy a house would be a great imposition. You are basically taking away my freedom to do something that is beneficial to me financial and beneficial for my quality of life.

If you think interest is immoral, then fine. No one is forcing you to participate. There are people, particularly people of the Muslim faith, who avoid interest for moral reasons. You have the right to not charge interest and you have the right to not make loans that cause you to pay interest. I have no problem with this as long as you don't try to push your moral values on the rest of us.

But for those of us who benefit from the ability to borrow money at interest, I don't believe you should have the right to impose your moral values on us.




JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 04:03 pm
Max asks us to name "an economic system that has ever worked better than modern capitalism in any measurable way".
That's a legitimate request. I would agree with Max that modern capitalism is the most productive (at least for some classes) system ever. It's productive power is probably the reason we have enjoyed the most extensive middle class culture since the late 40's*, but as time passed its laizze faire version has come to dominate both our political and cultural systems--which is what has had the corrosive effects that Cryacua has rightly decried. I wonder what Cryacuz might tell us about the version of capitalism and socialism he has experienced in Norway (and other Scandanavian societies). How does he compare their "mixed economy" with that of the U.S.?
Theoretically, I prefer the idea of the mixed economy wherein the best of both socialism (where there is much less poverty) and capitalism (with its productive power) are selectively combined for gain and the worst of both systems is minimized for the sake of economic justice.

*By the way, since the Reagan era capitalism is abolishing (if you'll permit the hyperbole) our middle class.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 07:09 pm
@JLNobody,
Of course JL. I agree with this latest post. I also want a mixed economy.

I believe in a regulated capitalism. I want the ability to enter a mortgage to buy a house. I want successful large corporations who can build things like cars and the internet and provide jobs. I also want government protection for workers and restrictions on business practices that hurt consumers. And I want the ability to choose my own moral values up to the point that I am taking rights away from someone else.

It was the extremism of the earlier posts on this thread that prodded my reaction. I have no problem if you are simply arguing for reasonable regulations to make our system more efficient and fair. If you are advocating the wholesale uprooting of our economy and culture, that is a different matter altogether.

How many of us agree on a regulated free market system (such as we have now)?


JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 07:21 pm
@maxdancona,
O.K., I too favor a "regulated capitalism" or perhaps a democratic socialism that encourages individual enterprise. Corporations, however, are objects of suspicion and mistrust because of their demonstrated amoralism, i.e., a morality applicable only to their stockholders. But I am not a revolutionary, an uprooter of our economy and culture.
And I even enjoy scotch on ice now and then. Smile
0 Replies
 
33export
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 07:36 pm
The motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of labour, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of profit and surplus value. The employer can claim right to the profits (new output value), because he or she owns the productive capital assets (means of production), which are legally protected by the capitalist state through property rights.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 07:42 pm
@33export,
So you don't want property rights?
33export
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 07:46 pm
@maxdancona,
Didn't say that at all.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 07:50 pm
@33export,
If you are complaining about the negative effects of property rights, I think it is fair to ask what the alternative is. Likewise with corporations which benefit me with a decent paying job.
33export
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 May, 2013 08:24 pm
@maxdancona,
lol I was only using Marx' concept of capitalism - outdated, maybe- then again, maybe not. Didn't intend to drift int Economics 401.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 04:16 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
I am very happy to pay interest. Interest is the reason I am able to have my own house right now.


No. The reason you have your own house is that you wanted one and worked for it. Good job.

Quote:
For you to tell me that I can't pay interest to a bank in order to buy a house would be a great imposition.


You misunderstand me. I am saying that you should be able to have your house without paying intrest to someone for it.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 05:29 am
@Cyracuz,
Quote:
I am saying that you should be able to have your house without paying intrest to someone for it.


How is that going to work? I haven't earned enough money yet to pay for my house up front.

Are you saying that the builders should have to build houses without getting paid for 30 years? How are the people who work to build my house going to eat during that time?
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 07:54 am
@maxdancona,
If you don't have enough money, you should be able to borrow without intrest. Intrest makes the whole banking system fraudulent and creates a situation where everyone is in debt. The banking system would still work without intrest, and you could borrow money for your house, then pay back that money instead of working your ass off to pay intrest until the day you die. Then your children inherit your house, but also the debt you couldn't pay off even working a lifetime towards it.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 07:58 am
@Cyracuz,
How would the banking system work without interest?

Why would you ever give a stranger your hard earned money for 30 years? This means that you will be unable to buy things this period of time.

And without interest, how would you force people to give you their money when you need it?

reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 08:01 am
@Cyracuz,
Quote:
The banking system would still work without intrest


I can agree to a point but I do think that there would need to be a little interest maybe .5 to 1% or a fee of some sort to pay the people who's job it would be to manage this system.
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 08:05 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
Why would you ever give a stranger your hard earned money for 30 years? This means that you will be unable to buy things this period of time.

And without interest, how would you force people to give you their money when you need it?


A society could print its own money to be lent out and as far as people saving money they would not receive interest on their money and we would have mechanisms in place to keep their money from loosing face value.

They would only be saving for rainy days and for retirement.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 May, 2013 08:11 am
@reasoning logic,
So a car manufacturer can get free money from the government to build a new factory without interest?

Would my money be given to them (without interest), or is my money out of the picture?
 

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