Time to Jump Ship

>> Tuesday, July 5, 2011

If this is what passes for education today; if this is representative of the mindset of those who govern and manage this economy... we're screwed.



One respondent's remarks:

I think it's time that all Americans realized that government connected people are self interested liars, period. They never say anything because they think it's an important rational, logic or ethical fact-- their only purpose in saying anything at all is to lie the public into further theft and control.

It's transparently ludicrous that more government borrowing will help anyone but rich connected bankers and government people [at] this point.

It's also getting to the point [that] if the American people have become so degenerate that they believe ...ever more debt is a desirable thing, they deserve the slavery that's coming to them.

Make a choice Americans, live free or die in [chains of debt].


I've been around quite a while, and I've never seen this country in such bad shape. I'm even having difficulty giving it equal billing with Carter's administration; Carter, much like Obama, failed miserably in managing the economy, but the difference between the two is ideology. Carter at least believed in American greatness, and exceptionalism (while as president, at least), but Obama has never thought of America as 'exceptional.' What Obama is doing is deliberate.

"The stimulus has worked as planned."

If this be the case, then it was the intention of the Obama administration to break America's economic back. Congratulations, Mr. President. It looks as though you'll get your wish.

Before any of you get your back up because I've insulted/slandered your man, let it be known here and now, that I don't think any better of current Republican leadership. 'A plague on both your houses,' I say.

If the economy is truly in such dire straights that it requires drastic measures to correct, then take drastic measures. Compromise is for weak-kneed, weak-willed, pandering and self-serving politicians. If a Republican truly believes this country is doomed without the taking of drastic measures, then he must not compromise. He must be willing to give something meaningful, something personal, to ensure his nation's survival.

What must that something be?

Personal interest perhaps, any thought to personal/monetary acquisition. A man who would truly seek to save his country will do so without thought of personal gain.

Sadly, there are no such men in Washington. None whatsoever.

It's time to stop playing this game, people. Time to stop playing THEIR game. By THEIR rules. It's time to begin thinking for yourself, and acting in your own best interest. Because neither our government, nor anyone in it have your best interest at heart.

Brand me a Cynic if you wish.

32 comments:

BenT - the unbeliever,  July 5, 2011 at 3:50 PM  

So your contention is three years is long enough. The US economy should have completely recovered from the second worst economic disaster in our country's history.

Or perhaps you're angry because after ten years of funding two international wars with deficits a third is too much.

Or is the problem that the portion of the country most able to contribute shouldn't be asked to return to the tax rates they paid under Bill Clinton.

Or is it that the highways are in worse condition but fewer deaths (thanks to car safety government regulations). Or that the ozone hole is shrinking (more gov't regs). Or that the gulf is still a environmental wasteland (but no worse than before the BP oil spill).

WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

you may not Barak Obama's policies. God knows I hated George Bush's, but to demand that the United State default on it's debts is like intentionally not paying your mortgage payment. Is there ever a time when that is a smart thing to do?

ELAshley July 5, 2011 at 4:34 PM  

What is my problem?

I haven't fully figured that one out yet. But it's not solely directed and/or related to Obama's piss-poor management of this country. I think my problem is larger than one crappy politician.

But... as to my quoting the president and his supporters: If the stimulus has worked "as planned," then the misery and uncertainty we face today is deliberate.

I finished reading 1984 last night... I'll wait for the liberals to finish rolling their eyes. It's been decades since I last read it. I had forgotten quite a bit of it actually, but what hammered home was O'Brien's assertion that the state can never be overthrown. It made me think about the nature of evil, and the ends to which it can be taken. I'm not saying Obama is personally evil, but I am saying the system, as it is, is headed in that direction.

We like to tout how great America is. We drag out all manner of hackneyed quotes to demonstrate out goodness. Like Alexis de Tocqueville's "America is great because America is good. When America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." Well, America is no longer good, ergo...

Oh, we're still far better off than any other country I can think of, but the reliability of our moral compass has decayed; north is south, up is down, yes is no... We began strong, and we're ending weak. That's just the way it is.

I don't recognize this country anymore. And it's not solely the democrat party's fault. It's as much their fault, as it is the republican party's fault, as it is my fault, as it is yours.

All of this politics? All the back and forth between supporters of both parties? It's a distraction. We're being bamboozled by corporate [wholesale; systems-wide] sleight of hand. It won't matter who wins next year; politicians will still fail to do their duty. They will seek their reelections at the expense of our economy and the people who suffer because of it.

...

ELAshley July 5, 2011 at 5:11 PM  

The left blames the evil rich. The right blames the socialist maneuverings of liberalism. Keynes is either a brilliant economists, or a complete fool. Democrats will continue to mischaracterize (lie) GOP motives. The GOP will continue to act as though conservatism can't win on its own merits, and Ben is not going to forsake his tropes any more than I will mine.

Obama promised change. But more specifically, he promised reasoned, competent, sure-to-succeed solutions to what he characterized as the 'failed policies of the Bush administration.' Well, the verdict is in. And as it turns out Obama's promises weren't well reasoned. Neither were they competent or sure to succeed. As it turns out his policies have only made things worse.

But that's neither here nor there. I didn't write this post for the express purpose of kicking Barack Obama. I wrote it because, whether anyone else can see it or not, I'm beginning to see something larger happening. I'm beginning to see some truth in O'Brien's words. And not just his alone:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
--Lord Acton

"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it"
--William Pitt, PM Great Britain

When have the above two quotes never been true? When has any politician risen unstained above these two quotes? If every man is human and susceptible to temptation, then even the great Barack Obama is not immune.

My "problem" is the personal realization that I cannot rely on any governmental, financial, agricultural, or economic system to have my best interest at heart. Too many people in authority, as glaringly illustrated by Miss Romer, and men like Obama who appoint such idiots to offices that directly affect my livelihood, pass off idiocy for reason, expecting the masses to accept it simply because he or she has a degree and therefore must know something more than you or me.

I don't need a degree to know Miss Romer is an idiot. Nor do I need a degree to understand that, as she was integral part of Obama's economic staff, she reflected a like-mindedness with the man who appointed her; namely, president Obama. If I feel anything for Obama at this point, it's antipathy... and that, not for the man himself, but for what he is doing to this country.

Let me be clear about one thing. Yes, I believe what Obama is doing to this country (destroying it) is intentional. But what he is doing isn't any different than what Republicans and Democrats alike are doing. The only difference between Obama's administration, and say, George Bush's administration, is the time it'll take to get to the gates of hell. I don't think I need to tell anyone which party will get us there the swiftest.

My intent with this post, in a word (two, actually):

Self-Reliance.

Resorting to another hackneyed platitude:

"It's time to think outside the box."

It's time to find new ways of fending for yourself; time to figure out how to make your own rules while playing by theirs.

ELAshley July 5, 2011 at 5:32 PM  

As to some of Ben's points...

1 - We are currently engaged in FOUR wars. Iraq, Afghanistan, a drone war in Pakistan, and now Libya.

2- Straw dogs: a)unsafe highways, b)ozone layer, c)BP oil spill. What do any of these have to do with the price of tea in China, OR our present economic woes? The wars in Iraq & Afghanistan? Really? Promising more than we can deliver to the American people has nothing to do with our present problems?

3- The US will default on its obligations if the debt limit is not raised by Aug 1. Really? We'll default on everything if we continue to both spend money we don't have, and print money we can't back-up.

Aside from tax increases. What is the solution? Does it not make sense to cut spending? Because-- and here's another trope --we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. At what point should anyone; person, city, county, state, nation, what have you, admit that promises made cannot be kept? That adjustments must be made if ANYONE is to receive a measure of that promise? Why can't Ryan's Medicare reform idea be implemented? Why can't Social Security be reformed?

Politicians have promised us MORE than it can give us. They (the politicians) are fighting now over cuts to entitlements not because they care about the people who WILL be affected by their lack of fiscal discipline, but because they care more about their political careers... their next campaign for reelection. No one wants to fix it because no one wants their efforts to do so used against them in their bid to retain office.

That, I believe, is as true a definition of cynicism there is. But that doesn't make it any less true.

Edwin Drood July 6, 2011 at 12:47 PM  

Hey BenT, why is borrowing more money the only way to pay outstanding debt?

Jim July 6, 2011 at 1:31 PM  

"we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem."

We have both. Revenue is down significantly due to the recession and due to the effect of the Bush/Obama tax cuts.

The spending curve can't be turned on a dime. Cuts can be made and efficiencies gained, but no one can cut the US budget by 1/3. And most American citizens are in favor of maintaining the services that the US Government provides and are also in favor of ending the Bush/Obama tax cuts.

"Why can't Social Security be reformed?"

Why should it be? Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. The only logic to reducing SS benefits at this time is to be able to not pay back the money that the General Fund has borrowed from the SS Trust Fund.

"Hey BenT, why is borrowing more money the only way to pay outstanding debt?"

Did BenT say that?

Edwin Drood July 6, 2011 at 2:19 PM  

It was implied Jim.

Revenue is not down due to the Bush tax cuts, historically lower taxes bring in more overall revenue.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=us+tax+revenue+historic

The only people who are in favor of keeping government services are the ones who don't have to pay for them.

Marshall Art July 6, 2011 at 2:20 PM  

The only thing I will say, aside from the fact that the Bush tax cuts are not responsible for lower revenues, is that there can be no drastic measures taken without conservative domination in both Houses of Congress and the White House. Now, we've had that before, and things were picking up rather well (before 2006), but they began to spend like drunken Democrats. With this in mind, Eric's cursing of both parties is appropriate.

But I think we're beginning to see the type of right-wing politician for which we've been pining, in people like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Gov. Perry and some others. Are there enough to influence those who have been playing the game for so long? We'll see. At least we will if enough people realize just how badly the left has run the show.

It is as I've always said, that we are the reason our country has so faltered, by not paying attention and staying involved with the things that our elected leaders have been doing, and then reacting accordingly at the voting booth. This explains how an idiot like Romer could even be in the neighborhood of any president's administration. You elect a complete idiot like Obama, and you get more idiots appointed to important positions.

Jim July 6, 2011 at 2:55 PM  

"Revenue is not down due to the Bush tax cuts"

Of course it is.

"historically lower taxes bring in more overall revenue." There is absolutely no evidence of that. It's no more than a talking point and a false one at that.

Your link lists himself as a primary source. Also, the charts are in-deciferable.

If it WERE true, why did we end the Clinton years with a surplus and spend the entire Bush years in deficits?

Edwin Drood July 6, 2011 at 4:07 PM  

maybe you could get someone who know math to look at the link

Edwin Drood July 6, 2011 at 4:14 PM  

surplus was due to a republican congress who cut spending. If you love the surplus so much then you should vote for Newt

BenT - the unbeliever,  July 6, 2011 at 5:46 PM  

=====================================================
It will be another 5-7 years before the US economy recovers completely from the Great Recession. It would be smart for the federal government to finance needed programs through debt while we are recovering. It would be even smarter to increase revenue so we don't have to shoulder so much debt. The financial sector of the economy has already recovered from the recession. It is dumb not to use their return to record profits to fuel recovery in other sectors.
====================================================

4. "our moral compass has decayed; north is south, up is down"

I firmly believe that the state or morals of our country today has less to do with politics and more to do with unrestrained capitalism that any other factor. There is no moral component of capitalism. Nothing to keep record labels from selling female singers as sex objects, or television from writing for the least common denominator. There's nothing in capitalism that demands employees excel beyond pushing pictogram buttons on a McDonald's register. No reason to preserve a green wood or majestic mountain if coal resides underneath. Capitalism is why today's CEO's make 200x what the average worker makes, and that average worker hasn't seen a payraise since 1977. Capitalistic greed is why the home mortgage industry was deregulated leading to the Great Recession. Capitalism is why Disney is one of the companies most hated by their employees.

Liberals are no more a conspiracy than conservatives, but capitalists they're evil.

ELAshley July 7, 2011 at 10:04 AM  

Facts become gods and morality becomes ambiguous. Except… facts can be and routinely are skewed by everyone desiring to hammer down a point. Even here, facts are little more than boundary markers; from one side the boundary says x, from the other, y.

You firmly believe that the state or morals in our country today has less to do with politics, but beliefs are not necessarily facts. I firmly believe that everything we set our hands, wills, and actions to are motivated by our individual morals. We are all, in fact, moral creatures; moral, immoral, or amoral, we are driven by our own personal senses of right and wrong. That being said, politics is absolutely driven by morals. You have espoused this very idea (as have I and others) every time you argued the injustice of this conservative policy or that; you’ve done it just now in your latest comment… “I firmly believe that the state or morals of our country today has less to do with politics and more to do with unrestrained capitalism.” This, whether you care to admit it or not is derived from you own personal standard of morality; unrestrained capitalism is immoral.

You claim there is no moral component of capitalism? You’ve just argued the opposite.

Record labels selling female singers as sex objects? How is this not a moral issue? Television writing for the least common denominator? How is this not a moral issue, especially considering government’s television rating system? Two and a Half Men is not suitable for all audiences.

McDonalds’ use of pictogram registers? Are you certain there are not printed words on those screens? Could it not be said that McDonalds recognizes the poor state of education in this nation; that many among its predominately young workforce cannot, or struggles to, read? How is this not a moral component of Capitalism? It’s not McDonalds’ responsibility to teach its employees how to read, but the very fact that such registers are in use (assuming they actually are) shows that the McDonalds Corporation understands it workforce’s limitations and actively seeks to accommodate those limitations, rather than forcing perspective employees to pass a literacy test prior to employment. Morality and Capitalism, in this regard, are mutually beneficial.

No reason to preserve a green wood, or majestic mountain if coal resides underneath? Unrestrained capitalism would decimate green woods and majestic mountains just to get to their respective resources? When all the trees are gone what ‘green woods’ will there be for future generations to acquire wood? Every paper company I’ve ever heard of spends a lot of money replanting forests. Besides which, there are plenty of government regulations that prevent companies from stripping, wholesale, the resources of any given area in the United States. That companies have strip-mined mountains down to “mole hills” is evidence of the morality of a different age, a predominately democrat-led age. Regulations prevent such destruction today—as it should be. Government recognizes that the preservation of green woods and majestic mountains as moral issues. Politicians are always touting ‘our children’s future/legacy” when arguing for continued regulations to protect the environment. They recognize it as a moral issue.

If only they would recognize our current debt crisis as a moral issue.


Continued...

ELAshley July 7, 2011 at 10:05 AM  

Continuing...


CEO’s make 200x more than the average worker? This has always been true, except in the past they weren’t called CEO’s; they were kings, lords, and despots. The only difference between the past and present is a system of law that prevents CEO’s from forcing slave wages on their workforce. Furthermore, no one working for a major corporation is forced to work there. Everyone who entered into an interview and was offered a job were told upfront the terms and conditions of employment. If they agreed to a certain wage, there was no obligation for the company to pay them more, except as they saw fit for exceptional performance. What is immoral is anyone who works for a company for an agreed upon wage to then bad mouth the company claiming they’re being cheated. Capitalism works on its own system of checks and balances on top of the regulations government places upon it. Government, too, works on it own system of checks and balances (morality).

Capitalistic greed is why the home mortgage industry was deregulated? This is factually false. Banks were threatened by politicians, and forced by community activists to give loans to the otherwise “un credit-worthy.” This was a big selling point for the democrat party; one that was so beneficial to them that they refused to acknowledge the growing crisis. Bush, on at least on occasion tried to reign in Fanny and Freddie, but men like Dodd, and Frank (both democrats) ignored and lied about their solvency. Capitalistic Greed wrought the “Great Recession”? This is a liberal trope; a talking point to deflect attention from institutional (liberal/democrat) culpability. If anything, Capitalism has suffered from the home mortgage crisis. But this, to many on your side of the aisle, is a good thing, and for them, a moral issue.

Capitalism is why Disney is one of the companies most hated by their employees? No sir. Not capitalism, but rather (if Disney is as truly despised as you claim) because Disney doesn’t feel the need to pay more, or benefit more, its employees in a manner they would wish. I would like to make at least ten grand more a year than I do, but my company is not obligated to pay me a) more than I contracted for; and b) more than they choose periodically to increase my pay. If my pay is not raised annually to reflect cost of living increases, that may represent a moral issue (to me, because I’m the one adversely affected), but that in no way obligates my company to pay me one cent more than they wish, or feel I deserve.

When government intervenes and says “you must!” they do it out of a sense of morality. Government routinely makes these kinds of moral decisions, and forces their will on “Capitalism” in America.

But this misses a greater point I don’t think you’ve considered. If Capitalism (which is merely an economic school of thought) has no moral component, then neither does Socialism, and anyone with a moderate grasp of history knows that morality DEFINITELY played a role in Socialism; in China, Russia, Vietnam, Cuba… everywhere its been tried, and shown to fail. Europe is in the shape it’s in because of “European” socialism. Ireland and Greece have already received bailouts and Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium are all drowning in an ocean of unsustainable debt. Considering the choices we’re being asked to make at this time (or forced later on if we do nothing), we can’t be much further behind those bastions of morality-steeped socialism.


Continued...

ELAshley July 7, 2011 at 10:22 AM  

Concluded...


Here, finally, is the question. If we believe Capitalism is moral, immoral, or amoral is, to my mind, irrelevant at this point. What we see, here and abroad, are governments mismanaging their nations’ and peoples’ interests; seeking its own advancement over that of its people. And these disasters which affect so many could be eliminated or greatly abrogated if people would simply stop trying to game the system, or play by the system’s rules. All I’m saying with this post is Americans are stuck in a mindset that is gone, perhaps forever—that “government is going to take of me.” Are you content to continue as you are, hoping government will take care of you? Or are you ready to take charge of your own fate?

When the first pioneers came to this country they came knowing full well that they either made a go of it… succeeding or failing… entirely on their own; government was not going to bail them out. We need to get back to that ideal, as individuals. We need to become more, if not wholly self-sufficient. We need to begin forging our own paths to prosperity (whatever that means to you as an individual), crossing every t and dotting every i along the way. If you’re relying on government to take care of you, you’re placing your trust in the wrong group individuals. Don’t settle for what they’re offing you. Find and develop opportunities for yourself. This is why I asked, ‘Is it time to jump ship?’

Government doesn’t care about you. And that, my friend, whether you care to admit it or not, is a moral issue.

ELAshley July 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

Sorry, Ben. Blogger is still eating your comment. I'll post it for you.

BenT - the unbeliever,  July 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM  

You misunderstood my first statement. Perhaps I should have written.

The morality of politics has less to do with the state of America today than the morality and influences of modern capitalism.

Capitalism as an abstract philosophy has little moral component. But the application and practices of modern capitalism encourage cheating, lieing and taking advantage of others.

In 1965 CEO's made on average 24x what the average worker made. Until 1977 they still only made 35x average worker pay. It wasn't until the 80's and the rise of Gordon Gecko and the mantra "Greed is good!" that CEO pay began to spike. Chart here.

That was also when US corporations stopped seeing employees as colleagues and valuable resources to be nurtured, appreciated, and invested in. Instead there became a view that employees are a burden to a company. Hire the cheapest labor possible and pay the least in benefits you can get away with. Is this maybe the cause of the decline in quality of modern manufactured goods? Why build a toaster that will last a lifetime, when you can build one for a third the cost and sell at half the price that will break in a quarter of the time, ensuring increased profit and frequent repeat sales?

In nonmanufacturing sectors this drive for "Greed is Good!" encouraged media companies to spend less on quality and more on packaging and appearance. If you can get the story of the dirty sex scandal in your magazine, you can be sure to increase sales. Who cares if it's degrading or untrue. Sales Baby! Sales!

You wrote of government regulations curbing the worst environmental excesses of capitalism. Why do you think those regulations were needed?

Political motives and goals will always be fraught with differing opinions. You desire policy goals that I oppose. However I hope you will agree with me that modern capitalism at least as practices since the 1980's encourages the worst desire of humanity-greed, lust, vanity, gluttony, dishonesty.

The American dream is a middle class family, living in their own home, with enough money to pay the bills, save a little, and maybe splurge on a road trip vacation in the summer.

Since the 1970's CEO and upper class income growth have siphoned up all of America's increasing productivity and wealth. If during that time CEO payratioes had stayed at 24x, then every American worker would have had an extra $17,000 more per year.

Think about that in your own life.

I am a highly skilled and experienced motion graphic artist/web site designer. I know it pisses me right off, that I'm supposed to be grateful to be allowed to continue working for my employer.

Marshall Art July 7, 2011 at 1:08 PM  

Wow, Ben! According to you, there was likely a fifty year window (approximately) between the greed of corporate owners that spawned the union movement and the owners of today! If only I worked during that joyful period!

This is totally backward:

"But the application and practices of modern capitalism encourage cheating, lieing and taking advantage of others. "

It is the lack of morality that corrupts the economic system that provides the best opportunity for the most people. It wouldn't matter if the system was socialism or communism, without a strong moral character, people will find a way to play the system for personal gain.

You also seem to suffer from a common belief that an employer owes you anything more than what was agreed upon at the date of hiring. The employer is in business to produce wealth for himself. There is nothing the least bit wrong or immoral about this. He sets a scale of compensation for services and goes about finding people to provide those services in order for him to increase his ability to acquire wealth. If there are no takers, then he adjusts the scale to attract some. This is free market at its basic and best. YOU are not required to accept just any pay for just any job. However, if you cannot find a job that suits you at a compensation level that suits you, you must then decide to starve or adjust YOUR terms in order to eat. What comes next is where YOUR morality and standards come into play.

Do you spend beyond your income? Do you save and study to improve your worth to your employer or potential employers? Do you invest in something that will increase your income and wealth, or do you whine about how little you're paid?

What many refuse to keep in mind is the effort expended and sacrifices made by those in the position to own and/or run corporations. Few employees consider how long employers survived on borrowed money, no or little wages, often paying their employees more than they themselves were taking home, in order to make a go of the business until it could generate the kind of wealth YOU think they should divide between them and you.

It doesn't matter what economic system we are under with such covetous attitudes. You'll never be satisfied that you are justly compensated. This is not to say that one cannot lobby for better than they are getting. But if you lose at the point of hiring, it is as much your own "greed" as there's. The dynamic will always exist wherein the employer wants the most work for the least pay out his employees, while the employee wants the most pay for the least work. Whatever balance of this exists is decided at hiring time. Bitching later is an expression of self-loathing for not having the spine or skills to insist on and get better at that point in time.

Marshall Art July 7, 2011 at 1:19 PM  

An BTW, Ben. You DON'T have to be grateful for your position. You are perfectly free to shop your skills to your employer's competitors. Better yet, why not develop a business plan, attract investors, develop a market niche and then hire employees of your own so that you can set the example for all others to follow. Certainly if you pay a wage you now believe is appropriate, you will thrive as you believe your current employer can by doing so.

ELAshley July 7, 2011 at 2:01 PM  

"then every American worker would have had an extra $17,000 more per year."

Uh, no. What it means is investors in the company would see more profits and dividends. Employees might have seen some increase, but certainly not the $17,000 more per year you suggest. Again, employers are not obligated to pay their employees any more than said employees have contracted for.

It's easy for us to sit back and bitch about how much we're paid (I do it a lot myself), but we get what we put in. That is to say, if all we do is work for 'the Man' under his terms, we get what we deserve. But if we get out and create our own niche, then the sky is, and should be, the limit.

You and I both know this intimately. Aren't you and I, even now, engaged in the fine art of entrepreneurialism? It's not enough right now to take off on our own, but it's a step in the right direction. You see? you and I have already planted a flag outside the mainstream thoroughfares; we have taken our skills and sold our abilities to those will to pay OUR terms. In a small measure we have become our own bosses.

I'm proud of that. So should you. THAT, my friend, is your way out. Also, to echo Marshall... no one says you should be grateful for what you're given in terms of wages and benefits. But you, because of your particular skills, have nothing between you and the income you desire, but your own drive and desire. Same with me.

If I can manage just two grand above and beyond my current 'on the job' wages, this year, I'll consider that a great first step in the right direction. You have potential to do far more than that, this year alone.

Oh, and by the way. I have you to thank for my present opportunities. Thank you. And I mean that.

Marshall Art July 8, 2011 at 1:33 PM  

One of Ben's comments didn't publish. I present it here:

--------------------------------------------

Marshall your logic is the same as that used by sweatshop owners to justify their practices in the third world.

"Why should I pay my employees 50 cents an hour when they will work for 25? Why do they need bathroom breaks or days off for sickness. It is their honor to work for me and if they don't like it they can quit and starve!"

While America has a higher average wage than most third-world countries, we also have a higher cost of living. And for almost forty years the average American wage has remained stagnant while the cost of living has increased.

"But hey if you don't want to work for what the corporations will pay, then you're free to starve! And when you decide not to starve with dignity, check you pride of craftsmanship in your job at the door, cause we don't need that in our new American workforce!"

Sure I could quit and move away from family to a larger city (something I don't want to do) for a wage that is greater, but still not quite enough to make up for the increased cost of living.

Or maybe I could quit and borrow enough to start my own printing company or television station (Ha!). And then I can look forward to my prices being undercut by my former company.

Yeah that's the options. Yeah capitalism!

It's amazing whenever proponents of modern capitalism reply they never talk about increased product quality leading to profits or benefits for the American workforce. The refutations are "more money is good for corporate owners!", "it's their right!", "you work for what you can negotiate!"

I fail to see how these are persuasive positive points in favor of modern capitalism. And still no one refutes that modern capitalism encourages immoral acts. That it is only through external pressure that corporations don't rape the environment and take advantage of workers.

Marshall Art July 8, 2011 at 1:52 PM  

Ben,

The logic of the sweatshop owners is no different than any business owner, except to degree. YOU would hold the same opinions and attitudes if YOU were a business owner or you would not be in business for long.

Let's say you're currently making 40K per year and are bitching about it. You lobby for more and your employer is moved to the point of raising you to 60k. What has happened here? He is now saying, why should I pay Ben 61K when he'll work for 60? There's no difference in the attitude except as a matter of degree and what the market will bear.

YOU might feel guilty as a business owner paying a low wage, but might not have any alternative if you expect the business to thrive and your family to eat. OR, you may have two employees each performing at the same high level of competency and efficiency, but one is willing to work for free and the other will never be satisfied even if he brought home more than you. In the mind of each, morality as regards compensation is what EACH OF THEM has decided it to be without regard to the impact of that determination on the person who has provided the job in the first place.

You speak of the greed of the owner without realizing that you are only working from a position of what YOU can get out of the situation. You don't consider what it took to create the job YOU think is underpaid, never considering that it wouldn't exist without the efforts of the guy YOU have determined is corrupted by capitalism. What of your own corruption as you demand more simply because you believe you are worthy?

As to other points of capitalism, it works best when quality is key. If you buy crappy products, work for a company that markets crappy products, that's on you, not the economic system. Because what you fail to keep in mind is that there is no company capable of succeeding by producing crappy products if there isn't a market for them. You keep buying them, they'll keep making them. What's more, what you consider crappy products is simply a product produced as cheaply as possible in order to provide that type of product for those who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

The idea that companies go out of their way to produce crap because it means the product will break down and consumers will have to replace it is a common whine, but not based on fact. Manufacturers look for ways to increase market share and often that means creating a product that will do what more expensive, higher quality versions will do for a lower price. They know that the product might not perform to the same level as the higher quality version, but that isn't to say they intend for the thing to break. Without the lower quality version, a segment of the market cannot be served. It's a segment that wants the same thing but can't afford what is already available. Someone finds a way to fill that void and YOU believe their purpose is to rip people off. Talk about immoral! That attitude is terribly immoral.

continuing...

Marshall Art July 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

If YOU ran a business, Ben, you would also be looking to get a share of the market. You would set your prices to be competitive with your competition so as to attract their business to yours. But it seems that the possibility of your competitors doing that as well frightens you away from the thought of creating your own business. Boo-freakin'-hoo. What do you think your employers are dealing with every day? That's how the market works and YOU'RE cower in the face of it.

Instead, you demand more money for the work you do because YOU have determined what is moral behavior your employer should follow. Where do you get off? You won't put forth the effort and sacrifice and risk that they have, but you'll tell them how they should go about it? What hubris!

I've been in the workforce for around forty years. What I've seen is bad employers and worse employees. The latter is every bit as responsible for the mess this country is in as is the employers, and likely more so. Are there greedy, selfish employers? Sure. Don't work for them.

But what YOU'RE calling for is a world on YOUR terms without regard to realities with which employers deal every day. You want high quality products and services at low prices with high pay for employees hired to produce and provide them, regardless of what it means to the income of the person or persons that sacrificed and risked, likely failing and starting again, in ways you won't consider for yourself. Where's the morality in telling someone else how to run their business when you won't take those same risks and make those same sacrifices? I don't see where you have any room or understanding to make such demands. Far easier to sit back and whine and pretend they are acting out of selfish greed.

But let's look at those who actually might be working out of that greed. How can you pretend to care with only a self-styled set of standards? Without a solid basis for morality, ala Christianity, who's to say their way is wrong?

Capitalism doesn't encourage immoral behavior. Immoral attitudes pervert any system for self-profit. A system is only a system. Moral people, those raised with some external influence regarding what is or isn't moral, act morally in any system. But capitalism allows anyone to succeed whereas alternative systems don't. You blame the system for failings of human nature.

BenT - the unbeliever,  July 8, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

I'm not christian, but even Chirstianity makes pretty clear that employers, slave owners, even farmers have a duty to those that work for them.

"For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?" - 1Corinthians 9:9

If an employer makes $500-million in profit this year isn't there a moral obligation to share that wealth with the employees that produced the wealth? Isn't that moral obligation even greater if the income disparity between the employer and the worker is 300:1 or more?

Notice I am speak morally, not legally. An employer may not be obligated beyond the strictures of the law, but doesn't morality of any sort demand equitable, fair, even generous treatment of others?

Edwin Drood July 8, 2011 at 3:41 PM  

On the flip side what if an employer looses money, does his employees owe him then? Is this morality a one-way street?

BenT - the unbeliever,  July 8, 2011 at 3:50 PM  

Certainly there have been instance of many unions and workers accepting pay cuts and early retirement packages when they didn't LEGALLY have to.

BenT - the unbeliever,  July 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM  

Looking at bible verses, Christianity is pretty much in opposition to modern capitalism

1 Timothy 5:18 For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."

Leviticus 19:13 "'Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. "'Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.

1 Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned?

Deuteronomy 22:1 If you see your brother's ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him.

Deuteronomy 24:14 Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.

Deuteronomy 24:15 Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.

Deuteronomy 25:4 Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.

Romans 4:23 The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone,

Marshall Art July 9, 2011 at 3:41 AM  

Another comment by Ben slipped by. Here it is:

--------------------------------------

You are taking my points about large national and multinational corporations and transposing them onto small businesses. I have no beef with capitalism as applied to small businesses. I think many of America's small businesses still work at the traditional ideal of building better products to increase market share. I think it's a lot harder for small businesses owners to screw over their employees when they know them by name and see them every day.

My points have all been directed at the large corporations that employ 40% of the country. Corporations where the average CEO pay has grown by 300000% since 1965 and the average worker pay has grown by 15%.

You are mistaken if you think today's corporations don't debate whether to invest a 10% in increasing product quality or 10% in increasing market budgets.

I can speak knowledgeably about my own corporate owners. Do you know how stations increase market share in competitive television markets? They don't invest in more quality programming. Hire experienced investigative reporters, reduce commercials to increase content. NO! They increase their marketing "Action News NOW!" They stop covering important boring stories like city elections and the education system. They switch to sensational tabloid reporting, "It bleeds it leads." "Can you get any nudity?"

And in the case of my own television station, even though we are a very profitable station, with strong market share, our parent corporation has this year reduced staff, to increase profits. And our new general manager has cut our commitment to community service by 60-70%. His words, "I don't mind supporting community groups, but I want to get something out of it too."

Don't tell me there no moral component in modern capitalism.

Should I talk about the story of the "World of the News" hacking into the voice mails of Iraq War dead?

The decades long story of Philip Morris hiding knowledge of the dangers of smoking, in fact working with scientists to make cigarettes more addictive.

Marshall Art July 9, 2011 at 4:04 AM  

Ben,

You seem to be relying on Christian Scripture when it suits you. You should try a more comprehensive reliance.

But let's look at your offerings.

The 1 Cor verse is part of a context that is Paul defending his ministry and the support that should be provided by those to whom one ministers. But that particular section does not imply one, even an ox, getting more than one is offered when the job begins. Neither that, nor any of the rest provide any support that Christianity has issues with capitalism. They all suggest, at best, issues with greed or oppression. If you think that such things are non-existent under other economic systems, you are kidding yourself. As I hoped to imply earlier, it isn't the system, but the morals of the people operating within the system that matters. You want to rip on capitalism because of greedy people who thrive in such a system. But greedy self-centered people thrive in socialist and communist systems as well. What's worse, in those systems, fewer people have any opportunities to thrive honestly beyond what the system will allow. Capitalism allows for anyone to thrive at any time based on their own abilities, whether they are honest or greedy.

Some other problems with your verse offerings:

Taking advantage of a poor man requires knowledge that the man is poor upon hiring. Obviously, when one is applying, one is in some kind of need for the job, but not always is that person unemployed or even unemployed and poor. If abject poverty is an issue, are you prepared to step away from your job in order that someone worse off can have it? Is it only the company owner that is obligated to assist the poor?

You also speak of withholding pay, but who does that? It's not a common practice unless there is some issue that warrants such a thing, an issue spelled out in advance of taking the job. Rarely does any employer try to get out of paying an employee without some legitimate reason for doing so that anyone would find reasonable.

But when someone provides a job, the wage is determined before the job is offered. If no one applies for the job at that pay rate, the employer must adjust. Once someone agrees to work for that wage, obviously the wage is just regardless of whether or not you or anyone else thinks otherwise.

I have absolutely no problem with an employer making tons more money than he pays me or anyone else in the company. I don't care if the employer is a guy with three employees or a chairman of the board of a major corporation. Would I be pleased if they shared their good fortune with lowly employees like me? Sure I would. But they're free to run their companies as they see fit and I'm free to look for gainful employment elsewhere. Better yet, I'm free to use my income in a manner that improves my own net worth and that includes the sacrifices that go with doing so.

The biggest problem with the capitalist system is people who don't want to put in the effort to succeed under it, but will bitch and moan that those who do don't share.

More later.

Marshall Art July 9, 2011 at 3:27 PM  

"My points have all been directed at the large corporations that employ 40% of the country. Corporations where the average CEO pay has grown by 300000% since 1965 and the average worker pay has grown by 15%."

The difference is in the size of each company. The small business owner is simply at a stage long ago surpassed by the corporate owners. The ability of the small business owner to enjoy a huge salary is still limited. They are where the corporate heads were when they were striving to get where they are now.

The problem in general is not what corporate heads pay themselves OR their employees, but how the employees live their lives based on what they are able to secure from their employers. If all one can get is 20K per year, one has no business living as if they make 21K, no business pining for a lifestyle only 30k or 300k can can provide. One must content one's self with a life that 20k can easily accommodate until such time as one can earn more.

Both employees AND employers must deal with rising costs. The employer who strives to deal with rising costs without impacting the lives of his employees is to be commended. But he is under no obligation to do so as he has already met his obligations by paying each employee according to terms discussed at hiring. To suppose that his obligations extend further is a false sense of what is moral that is provoked by your own desire for more than you were able to procure at hiring. Your very job is not something your employer is obliged to continue providing if he has no further use for your services. What you are doing is imposing YOUR notions of morality upon him in order to force him to meet your needs and desires. That's not what he's in business to do. No employee should live in a manner that takes their position with a company for granted. No employer is in a position to guarantee his business will last forever.

More...

Marshall Art July 9, 2011 at 3:55 PM  

"I can speak knowledgeably about my own corporate owners. Do you know how stations increase market share in competitive television markets?"

Your lesson is incomplete. Television and radio exists for the purpose of advertising. They make their money by attracting those willing to cough up bucks to run ads on their airwaves. News is a service they provide, but it is not their purpose. We have a news station on local radio in my area that many people listen to because they provide snippets of news and traffic and weather every eight minutes. People find that to be a convenience so they keep a button on the car radio tuned to that station. Because of this, manufacturers of products and services know that if they place ads on that station, many people will hear their ads and THEIR profits will (or should) rise as a result. Radio stations (and I'm sure TV stations) monitor the results of placing such ads on the bottom line of those manufacturers.

The quality of TV or radio programming is directly related to what the public will spend their time consuming. Why would a TV station spend big bucks producing a show with expensive special effects when they can run reality shows for peanuts and grab a ton of viewers or listeners? They've accomplished their goal in the least expensive manner possible---attracting advertising revenue in order to increase their own bottom line.

A lot of news coverage has been given to this Casey Anthony case. I had no interest in it. I did not listen to radio stations covering it, did not watch any news shows on television pretending to know the truth about it, didn't read any newspaper stories about it. Why would I? But many people were engrossed in the story, enough to maintain market share of viewers, listeners or readers. Ads were sold and money was made. When interest in current programming wanes, the network honchos will have to adjust in order to re-attract those lost consumers. If it takes expensive special effects, hot-shot reporters, news stories that actually matter to the average viewer in a real way, they will do so.

What this all means is that the consumer is driving the situation you lament. It is the same throughout the market place. One can imagine the perfect toaster that lasts forever, but the cost of such is likely prohibitive for the average consumer. But if that's what the consumer demands, eventually someone will find a way to produce them at a cost beneficial to both the production of the item and the consumer who will purchase it. Until then, you'll get something less, and likely, several variations of it with degrees of quality and price that will accommodate the most consumers.

Part of doing this requires setting wage levels in a manner that allows for the production of whatever quality of item is being produced without affecting the price to the point of driving away consumers.

more...

Marshall Art July 9, 2011 at 3:58 PM  

"And our new general manager has cut our commitment to community service by 60-70%. His words, "I don't mind supporting community groups, but I want to get something out of it too.""

One question: How much community service do YOU volunteer to provide in your own life? If any, why not more? Why not raise your own level of involvement in community service to act as an example to others?

You rag on your employer for cutting his community service as if he exists as a business entity for the sole purpose of providing such free of charge. How much income can he generate for disgruntled employees by doing community service at his own expense? Perhaps you should agree to sacrifice some of your salary in order to help him maintain the level of community service you feel is morally acceptable.

"Don't tell me there no moral component in modern capitalism."

But that's the fact. There is only a moral component to human behavior, not the systems under which humans operate. You can supply any anecdotal tale of corporate greed and I can match them with tales of corporate largess. So what? Neither is the result of capitalism but the moral character of the people involved.

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