socialism/capitalism

How should society be organised, if at all?

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henry quirk
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socialism/capitalism

Post by henry quirk » Thu May 02, 2019 11:24 pm

In another thread (several actually) there's been the back & forth about 'socialism' & 'capitalism' (what they are, their virtues [or lack of], etc.).

Here's *sumthin' to chew on...

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https://alphanewsmn.com/thoughts-from-a ... ffee-shop/

Thoughts from a hipster coffee shop…
My generation is becoming the largest voting bloc in the country. We have an opportunity to continue to propel us forward with the gifts capitalism and democracy has given us. The other option is that we can fall into the trap of entitlement and relapse into restrictive socialist destitution. The choice doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

By Alyssa Ahlgren - April 6, 2019

I’m sitting in a small coffee shop near Nokomis trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism. I put my phone down and continue to look around. I see people talking freely, working on their MacBook’s, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it. Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, “An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.”

Never saw American prosperity. Let that sink in. When I first read that statement, I thought to myself, that was quite literally the most entitled and factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth. Now, I’m not attributing Miss Ocasio-Cortez’s words to outright dishonesty. I do think she whole-heartedly believes the words she said to be true. Many young people agree with her, which is entirely misguided. My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity. I know this first hand, I went to college, let’s just say I didn’t have the popular opinion, but I digress.

Let me lay down some universal truths really quick. The United States of America has lifted more people out of abject poverty, spread more freedom and democracy, and has created more innovation in technology and medicine than any other nation in human history. Not only that but our citizenry continually breaks world records with charitable donations, the rags to riches story is not only possible in America but not uncommon, we have the strongest purchasing power on earth, and we encompass 25% of the world’s GDP. The list goes on. However, these universal truths don’t matter. We are told that income inequality is an existential crisis (even though this is not an indicator of prosperity, some of the poorest countries in the world have low-income inequality), we are told that we are oppressed by capitalism (even though it’s brought about more freedom and wealth to the most people than any other system in world history), we are told that the only way we will acquire the benefits of true prosperity is through socialism and centralization of federal power (**even though history has proven time and again this only brings tyranny and suffering).

Why then, with all of the overwhelming evidence around us, evidence that I can even see sitting at a coffee shop, do we not view this as prosperity? We have people who are dying to get into our country. People around the world destitute and truly impoverished. Yet, we have a young generation convinced they’ve never seen prosperity, and as a result, elect politicians dead set on taking steps towards abolishing capitalism. Why? The answer is this, my generation has ONLY seen prosperity. We have no contrast. We didn’t live in the great depression, or live through two world wars, or see the rise and fall of socialism and communism. We don’t know what it’s like not to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don’t have a lack of prosperity problem. We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it’s spreading like a plague.

With the current political climate giving rise to the misguided idea of a socialist utopia, will we see the light? Or will we have to lose it all to realize that what we have now is true prosperity? Destroying the free market will undo what millions of people have died to achieve.

My generation is becoming the largest voting bloc in the country. We have an opportunity to continue to propel us forward with the gifts capitalism and democracy has given us. The other option is that we can fall into the trap of entitlement and relapse into restrictive socialist destitution. The choice doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

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*put your complementary or opposing pieces or comments in this thread, please

**Venezuela, right now, as I type these words.

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Gary Childress
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Re: socialism/capitalism

Post by Gary Childress » Fri May 03, 2019 12:18 am

Good post, Henry. It gives a side of things that I don't hear very often. Will be interested in seeing others' responses.

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henry quirk
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"Will be interested in seeing others' responses."

Post by henry quirk » Fri May 03, 2019 1:18 am

Yeah, me too.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: "Will be interested in seeing others' responses."

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 03, 2019 1:43 am

henry quirk wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:18 am
Yeah, me too.
Wow. For an ostensibly semi-illiterate Neanderthal, that's an awfully non-illiterate, non-Neanderthal post. I hope we don't lose the other persona, because darn it, he's fun.

Excellent post, though. I don't know what else to say, other than "I agree."

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HexHammer
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Re: socialism/capitalism

Post by HexHammer » Fri May 03, 2019 1:51 am

henry quirk wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 11:24 pm
**Venezuela, right now, as I type these words.
..yadda yadda ..bla bla ...bla!!! Could EASILY be cut with 2/3!

Don't think USA have any interest in Venezuela rising from the ashes to pose economic competition and sell expensive oil, USA loves cheap oil.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Fri May 03, 2019 2:18 am

Mannie,

You get that the bulk of that post was written by Alyssa Ahlgren yeah?

Me: I can get up to 'socialism bad, capitalism good'.

My rep as primitive is solid, I think.

#

Hex,

Go torment some other cozy chatters cuz I ain't havin' none of your malarky today.

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 03, 2019 3:09 am

henry quirk wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:18 am
Mannie,

You get that the bulk of that post was written by Alyssa Ahlgren yeah?
Yeah...but somebody's got to be able to read it, and somebody's got to see that it's got a point to make, and then that somebody's got to post it in an informative way. And that takes a little more than it takes to chew on mastodon bones and scrawl on caves, or to fire your twenty gage at road signs out of the back of your pickup truck because you're too loaded on moonshine to realize that ain't a deer.

Not that I'm saying those are bad things...a person's got to have hobbies.

FlashDangerpants
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Re: socialism/capitalism

Post by FlashDangerpants » Fri May 03, 2019 6:18 am

There's some stuff to applaud in that post, but it's substantially wrong in multiple important ways. To keep this short-ish, I will only consider the poverty stuff.

Macroeconomic statistics seldom measure the thing we use them for. To be useful we need to collect them on a monthly basis, and they have to be about things we can actually measure. So we use a couple of main indices. On the one hand we look for absolute poverty by calculating what level of household income buys all the necessities in life (food, shelter, healthcare, education ...dignity*...). Then we look at how many households don't reach that income level and we close the books and call that a poverty rate. On the other we declare that X% of the median income in some designated geographical area is the relative poverty threshold and we do the same with that number, with results that differ wildly from the previous.

But everybody knows that we are wealthy to the extent that we are able to afford things we want, and we are poor to the extent that we cannot afford things we need. Those numbers don't measure that. They aren't the only poverty indices of course. There are plenty of others, just as there are all sorts of things we want or need to buy that some people cannot get. Those other measures are mostly too expensive and difficult to acquire, so they just don't get measured much. It matters, but not much, because none of them measures the ethereal object that is poverty anyway.

So the thing about poverty is that you can feed your children for less than a dollar a day in a lot of places in this world, but I doubt many of them are in America, so that "Thirty. One. Times." routine was just stupid. Obviously the poverty rate in a country where living is cheap is going to be lower than one with higher costs. Likewise, in a society that has many more goods to offer, it is true that the range of goods one can be considered poor for not being able to afford is generally understood to be greater. If you can afford a tin roof in one place, that counts as shelter for the purpose of local poverty stats, it doesn't in America, I hope we aren't reaching a place where somebody argues it should.

While I think the right in America are fixated on AOC mainly because it feels nice to see a left winger who is as thick as Palin or Trump, if she actually said that US youngsters "came of age and never saw American prosperity” then I guess it's fair to whale on her a bit.

But it's worth thinking through where that claim comes from, I have seen a lot of substantially similar things ones out there. There is an array of Macroeconomic indices being pushed at us which tell us we are collectively all becoming poorer. that our wages have fallen 'in real terms' since the 70s, or that corporations are getting a bigger share of profits which somehow means that the money doesn't go to humans, and so on, basically we have been getting poorer since the 70, the 80s and the 00s separately. If any of that were true, we wouldn't be able to buy anything like as much stuff as we do, if our real incomes are lower than in the 70s, we can't buy more stuff than we did in that decade, and bought much, much, much less stuff then. It doesn't matter that an index tells us we earn less if you look at wages and inflation and nothing else, if we are buying more then there is other stuff than wages and inflation to take into account ffs**. The details don't matter much, important thing is to have a sophisticated understanding of the way in which these measures of a phenomenon invariably do not measure the thing itself, just something adjacent for which numbers can actually exist.***

So does that mean all is rosy and America doesn't have any poor people? Probably not. Let's think of a couple more ways to look at this to see roughly why. On the first hand, who is the poorest person in the world today? If you want to collect a very bad statistic on this matter for instance, you might just take the net worth of all the richest billionaires in the world, and compare that against all the people whose net worth is the lowest in the world - and by some miracle you will find that 20 or so people own as much stuff as 3 billion others do. Funny thing though, if you do that you might get lazy and end up counting persons who are negative a million dollars because of their mortgage as the poorest people in the world. The poorest man in the world though has no debt at all, because nobody will lend him any money ever in his life, he can't afford debt.

The poorest people in America can't afford debt either - they can get it, but they have to pay a lot of extra cash. Putting aside unnecessary moralizing about why these people have bad credit scores, some of which will be fair and some less so - or giving me a lecture on why the joyless inhabitants of Germany use the same words for debt and shame - in America today, if you cannot afford credit to buy something useful like a car that might allow you to commute further to a better job, that's a form of poverty. There might be something that can be done to alleviate this in some way that falls short of a plan to DESTROY CAPITALISM!!!11!!!1

Or here's another thing. We probably agree that genuinely poor people can't afford to buy important things. So, what about people who don't trigger some measures of poverty, but only because they work two jobs and spend 80 hours a week doing that plus apparently some of them have to ride 3 buses to get to the jobs and so on. These are people who cannot afford to work less, or in other words they are unable to purchase time with their family. That seems like a form of poverty to me, and an important one with genuine suffering involved. I don't like to see that sort of thing written off with a glib comment about how kids can afford iPhones, I think it matters too much for that.

I don't believe that there's any available data from which to infer that either of these two alternative poverty indicators I have proposed is going away any time soon. So thinking about how to make that happen isn't a waste of effort.

So, while that lady's post isn't all terrible, and her opponents are no better, I don't think it helps much. There's a real problem with both left and right presenting simplified misleading views of complex matters to nudge the unsophisticated towards deeper misunderstanding for ideological purposes. We should feel bad for all the poor bastards getting fucked over as a result of this. Anybody attempting to shape public discourse by exploiting the difficulty of the subject matter rather than explaining it deserves to feel shame.



* don't blame me, Adam Smith included that bit, google "adam smith linen shirt" to get lots of background info on why.

** don't bother trying to look up all the relevant debt stats, the answer is that prices actually fall faster against these indices than wages do when wages fall, and inflation is calculated against a changing basket of goods which means it cannot capture the effects of commoditization.

*** once more, if somebody would like to explain to prof why that same problem dooms his attempt to make a science out of ethics, you'd be doing him a great favour. He isn't receptive to me telling him.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Fri May 03, 2019 2:56 pm

Mannie, you overestimate me.

Flash, I don't understand a good chunk of your post (cuz I'm an ignorant Austrian [all the 'macroeconomics' is eyewash to me]), but I suspect you missed the point of Ahlgren's piece.

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri May 03, 2019 3:15 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:56 pm
Mannie, you overestimate me.
So you do have a pickup, a twenty-gauge and a jug of moonshine?

That explains the road signs.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Fri May 03, 2019 6:30 pm

Well, I drive a rondo (that's in the shop), own and use a stoeger 12 gauge coach gun, and, in the past, have been known to take a nip now and again.

I don't shoot road signs: waste of shells and them signs never did me nuthin'.

DPMartin
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Re: socialism/capitalism

Post by DPMartin » Fri May 03, 2019 11:09 pm

socialism or capitalism isn't intrinsically evil, its the powers that be that administrate nations that bring nations into well being or not. management of power is the key, you don't vote for, for fear of in the US but it has been shown that Russia has a history of such.

and corruption also plays into the way things go. basically in mankind managed efforts such as nations the wise set them up to not eliminate corruption but to control it for national interests and stomp it out when it gets in the way of the nations need.

in the US, social security is a form of socialism the elderly are entitled but it helps those who need. there's no pure capitalism or socialism just well managed and mismanaged.

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henry quirk
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"socialism or capitalism isn't intrinsically evil"

Post by henry quirk » Fri May 03, 2019 11:42 pm

I disagree.

One (even in its current adulterated form) aligns well with the way folks actually think and act; the other (in all its forms) doesn't.

May not be 'good' & 'evil' in the large, your-soul-is-on-the-line, sense, but both words are applicable.

FlashDangerpants
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Re:

Post by FlashDangerpants » Sat May 04, 2019 3:25 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:56 pm
Flash, I don't understand a good chunk of your post (cuz I'm an ignorant Austrian [all the 'macroeconomics' is eyewash to me]), but I suspect you missed the point of Ahlgren's piece.
The point of her post seemed to be that her generation is incapable of distinguishing actual poverty because, because, being American they have never experienced poverty, no? Further to that she is claiming that they don't understand capitalism either, and therefore don't recognise what it has done to limit their access to such information. What am I not getting here?

The above automatically puts into play questions of whether she understands capitalism, socialism, prosperity and poverty. In my view there are significant flaws in her understanding of all those things, and I just picked poverty as the most important. I would imagine that many of those millennials have witnessed it, some will have experienced it directly. Saying they are totally wrong because they also have phones and drink coffee is glib and silly.

If the extremely simple macroeconomics I referenced there is actually beyond you, then you might not really count as an Austrian because you cannot possibly understand them either, their stuff being way more complex than this. But for what it's worth, I would have thought that my comments on the limitations of empirical measurement aren't that far from the Austrian position anyway, even though they are fairly standard stuff and it is hardly an original thought.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Sun May 05, 2019 7:39 pm

Flash,

"What am I not getting here?"

Perhaps I read into the piece that which isn't there. What I get is: a generation, as it basks in the benefits of capitalism (even the adulterated state-directed monster we have now) rails against capitalism and looks to socialism (of a kind), a 'system' that surely will deprive them of those benefits they take for granted.

#

"If the extremely simple macroeconomics I referenced there is actually beyond you"

Oh, I get it, I guess. It all seems nonsensical to me, is all.

#

"you might not really count as an Austrian"

Well, I favor unrestrained markets, gold, government as final arbiter of contract and nuthin' more, no one is too big to fail, savings, investment, pure & raw supply and demand.

#

"their stuff being way more complex than this"

Their stuff is founded on the self-interested actions of individuals across naturally shifting circumstance, so it's easier to wrap my head around than Keynesian folderol.

#

"my comments on the limitations of empirical measurement aren't that far from the Austrian position anyway"

Mebbe, but as the christians might say 'even the devil can quote scripture'.

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