General Question

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

How is Capitalism working for you? Do you believe it is what keeps you free?

Asked by Dr_Lawrence (19401 points ) July 8th, 2010

1) How is the top 1% of the population who control the major financial institutions preserving Democracy and protecting your fundamental rights?

2) Does the US Constitution specify Capitalism as the official economic model of the USA?

3) What successful Democratic countries in the World are strictly Capitalist?

4) Which of these countries fear that any form of socialism will abolish Freedom and result in Totalitarianism and Tyranny?

5) Do you believe the above proposition is true?

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67 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

Wow, @Dr_Lawrence, great question. I’m going to have to think about this one for a while. Capitalism, if there really is such a thing, because it so far only exists in a compromised form and in a truly pure form, is, I believe is unsustainable… well, anyway, I will have to think on this one for a while.

bobloblaw's avatar

To answer #1, the top 1% controlling all major financial institutions doesn’t necessarily lend itself to undermining democracy and undermining of our fundamental rights. It just depends on what that 1% is doing with all that power and wealth.

To answer #2, nothing in the Constitution requires that capitalism be the official economic model of the US. The principles underlying the Constitution merely lend themselves to promoting capitalism. Nothing demands capitalism.

To answer #3, that’s obvious, isn’t it? No economic system is practiced in its purest form. You could make the same argument about any economic model. We should look at it in less of a binary model. Think of capitalistic and socialistic policies as tools in a bag. Sometimes one works better for the problem than others.

To answer #4 & #5, the way I see it, it’s not about socialism necessarily abolish freedom and promoting tyranny and totalitarianism. It’s not even about capitalism concentrating the wealthy in the hands of a few. For me, it’s about whether those governmental policies run afoul of what the Constitution permits and doesn’t permit. If you want to do something that isn’t permitted in the Constitution? Change it.

MissA's avatar

What keeps me free is that which is between my ears.

All else is up for grabs depending on who you believe and your vantage point.

ETpro's avatar

Excellent question. I am a small business owner, so I really do want capitalism to work for me. Our business has been hanging on through the recession, but it has been a real struggle.So how is it working—not so great. Now to your sub-questions.

1—The wealthiest Americans today are largely multinationals. Many invest most or all their capital off-shore where taxes are low or nonexistent and returns are higher than here in the USA they have helped trash. We’ve waited 30 years for trickle-down economics to work. In that time, real wages for the bottom 60% of Americans have dropped. The next 30% have just held their own. Only the top 10% have gained, and the bulk of that gain has gone to the very top, with the highest 1/10th of 1% drastically increasing their hold on the nation’s wealth. We thought trickle down referred to money. Seems it meant urine instead.

2—No, the Constitution doesn’t specify what economic system we must have. But the Framers were distrustful of large corporate entities owing to their experience with the British East India Company and its manipulation of tea prices. That is what sparked the Boston Tea Party and helped bring on the Revolutionary War. Interstate and international corporations were not even allowed to exist in our early days, and states carefully guarded state corporate charters. They were rare and required an act of the state legislature. In 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court changed that. Corporate charters were deemed “inviolable”, and could no longer be abolished by state governments. The Corporation was labeled an “artificial person,” possessing both individuality and immortality.. I think if our Fondling Fathers could come back today and see how close we are to a pure corporatocracy, they would launch a new revolution.

3—There are no successful democratic nations employing pure laissez-faire capitalism. The various banana republics around the world are the examples of what pure free-market capitalism brings. A handful of corporations gain such wealth they become monopolies. They use their wealth and power to ensure government only facilitates their remaining the king of the mountain for all time. They use police and paramilitaries to make those who interfere think again, or disappear.

4—Any country that is run by a corporatocracy HATES the concept of social programs. It is important to note that social programs such as the VA, Medicare, and Social Security are NOT socialism. Socialism is an economic system where the government owns the means of production and distribution of wealth. All the EU countries have strong social programs, but none are socialist countries. All are capitalist.

5. Do I believe that “any form of socialism will abolish Freedom and result in Totalitarianism and Tyranny”? Absolutely not. Suggesting that is idiotic. There are too many examples of nations that have strong and long-enduring social programs but also enjoy a high degree of freedom. Tyranny breeds tyranny. Many of those that are preaching the corporatist theme that social programs produce tyranny also yearn for one-party, ideologically driven rule—and that is the actual hallmark of tyranny in every land where it rears its ugly head.

mattbrowne's avatar

Capitalism as such does not make people necessarily free. Take a look at China. People are not free to found unions for example. In some factories people are almost treated like slaves. Laws and courts don’t protect them. They live in fear. Take England in the 18th and 19th century. Workers were not free. Capitalism works well as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.

I think the most successful version of capitalism which also tries to maximize freedom and opportunities for everyone is the so-called social market economy.

It seeks a market economic system rejecting both socialism and laissez-faire capitalism, combining private enterprise with measures of government regulation in an attempt to establish fair competition, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, a standard of working conditions, and social welfare.

The main elements in Germany are the following:

The Social Market Economy contains the central elements of the free market economy such as private property, free foreign trade, exchange of goods and free formation of prices.

Other elements shall diminish occurring problems of the free market economy. These elements, such as pension insurance, health care and unemployment insurance are part of the social security system. The payments to the social security system are mainly made by the labor force. In addition, there are provisions to restrain the free market (e.g. anti-trust code, laws against the abuse of market power etc.).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy

jerv's avatar

I don’t mean to sound flippant here or anything, but I think we are overlooking a simple fact.

Regardless of what form of government or economy we have, it is going to be run by the most ambitious cut-throat members of a species that is renowned for selfishness. It’s practically impossible to be nice, play by the rules, and get ahead. The only way that nice, non-selfish, law-abiding people can get any sort of power is an egalitarian society where the asshats of the world have (at least) as much power.

Now to your sub-questions:

1) I can’t even answer that one seriously and keep a straight face, so I’ll leave it.

2) No, but it paves the road. We have the freedom to succeed and the government has little authority to intervene even if that success comes at the expense of others. Basically, anything short of treason is Constitutionally acceptable.

3) Mu. Name a country that is strictly Capitalist. Even we aren’t totally Capitalist (we have unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid…. though I think that the GOP is trying to eliminate those) so Capitalism is pretty much restricted to the sort of regime that cannot be democratic; someplace like China.

4) Requires an answer to #3, so it cannot be answered. How do you pick something off of a list of zero items?

5) No. I believe that a total lack of Socialism is akin to anarchy and lawlessness, only dollars take the place of combat prowess/might. In other words, you carry your security in your wallet instead of in a holster.

ragingloli's avatar

@ETpro
Important correction:
Under socialism, the workers own the means of production, which may be represented by the government, but the government itself does not own it. Socialism at its core is democratic and excludes despotic governments and dicatorships, which your version would encompass.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ragingloli – But when looking at the history there’s not a single case of fully-implemented socialism without a despotic government and dicatorship or a single case of fully-implemented socialism that turned out to be a success. Progress and innovation requires the right to set up a privately owned business. It requires entrepreneurship and incentives. Workers owning the means of production doesn’t work in most cases.

ragingloli's avatar

But when looking at the history there’s not a single case of fully-implemented socialism full stop.
The GDR and the Soviet Union were not socialist or communist. They called themselves that as part of their propaganda, but they were far from being socialist, let alone communist (communism requries the dissolution of the state).
The GDR also called itself democratic, in its very name, but it was far from being a democracy.

Progress and innovation requires the right to set up a privately owned business
The Soviets had no problems pioneering space flight without it.

Workers owning the means of production doesn’t work in most cases.
Since it has never been tried, you can not make that statement.

Progress and innovation requires people who have a passion for their profession and their job. For those people, this passion is incentive enough for excellence and you can absolutely have that under socialism and communism.
Look at example at the difference between GM and German Car makers. GM, being led by accountants, only had the profit incentive and they were producing garbage all around. German car makers are led by engineers, who, because they are engineers first, want to make good cars. The result is good cars. In fact, the profit motive actually holds them back, because it forces them to compromise between profitablity and quality. When the profit motive does not exist, then they produce marvels such as the Bugatti Veyron, which is an engineering master piece, but which brings VW 5 million loss a piece.
Or take scientists. What incentive did Einstein have to create the Theory of Relativity, other than drive for knowledge and to unlock the secret of the universe?
Motivation and incentives come from many places, not just a lowly profit motive.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ragingloli – The Soviet space program and Soviet weaponry are exceptions from the rule. Same for the Motorenwerke Zschopau in the GDR which built motorcycles. Free market societies innovate at a rate that’s at least 1000 times greater compared to models with workers owning businesses.

ragingloli's avatar

@mattbrowne
Free market societies innovate at a rate that’s at least 1000 times greater compared to models with workers owning businesses.
As I said, their are no examples of states where workers own the means of production, so you can not make such statements.
The reason why the Soviet space program and weapon development was such a success, was because their workers, engineers, scientists, etc, were given a free hand in how to do what they do and without being held back by a profit motive. The rest of the economy did not succeed because they were stifled by top down restrictions by the government. They were told, by people who had barely any connection to the business, what to produce, how to produce it, how much to produce and what and how much resources to use for it. That is a weakness of top down planned economy, not of worker ownership.

Zaku's avatar

1) It’s not.
2) No.
3) Depends on how one defines success. Seems a pointless exercise to me.
4) Only in the USA, I hope.
5) No. It seems true for some though. Which makes me want them or me to leave.

Jabe73's avatar

I think you need a mixture of both socialism and capitalism. Our U.S Constitution would be thrown in the waste basket if we went to far with either system. You need some balance.

Ron_C's avatar

Unrestricted capitalism is at least as dangerous as unrestricted socialism. The “socialist” label is placed on any rule that tries to rein in the abuses of a free for all capitalism. The neocon wants to bring back a Dickensian brand of capitalism with street kids, medical care as charity, and a small middle class that insures that their rich patrons keep their money.

The other 99% of us want freedom and opportunity; we will rebel. The reason unions are vilified by the right is that they represent real opposition to the unrestricted power of international corporations.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ragingloli – In principle you are free to found a party promoting fully-implemented socialism and this has actually happened in many countries to some degree. Such parties are not voted into power because the majority of people does not want fully-implemented socialism. They want folks like Larry Page and Sergey Brin go to venture capitalists and set up their own company.

Let me ask you this: What would be the advantage of fully-implemented socialism over social market economy?

LostInParadise's avatar

You will have to excuse me for not answering the questions directly. There is something that must be considered. Industrialized nations have become consumption driven. The per capita GDP is at the point where people could live comfortably off of it. Of course, the distribution of income is skewed to the point that school districts are having to make cuts.

There is a lot of talk about productivity gains. What this largely means is that workers are being replaced by machines. If this continues, the net result is going to be mass unemployment, with the incomes of the unemployed being derived from machines and distributed by the government. My personal hope, which I think is not entirely unrealistic, is that we will reach the point where people become disgusted by excess consumerism and opt for a simpler more locally based government and economy. In such an environment, I think that @ragingloli ‘s suggestion of ownership by workers is a real possibility.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne I saw your question to @ragingloli and fell the need to add my bit. Complete socialism (communist style) leads to the old “they pretend to pay us, we pretend to work” style industry and command markets. Very wasteful and promotes laziness and poor work ethic. Fully free markets promote robber Barrons and very poor people, shuts down democracy, and is even worse than communism. As in all things, the solution is somewhere in the middle.

ragingloli's avatar

@mattbrowne
It may have several advantages:
higher wages and benefits
less layoffs because of cost cuttings
more innovation, because workers will decide what to produce and will put more emphasis on
improved product quality, and less on cost and projected profit
reduced automation and more manual labour, thus reduced unemployment
reduced abuse of employees
– democratic participation in the company’s decisions results in greater identification with the company and improved morale and work ethic

Again I must stress, since that is obviously ignored (@Ron_C) that the systems practiced in the Soviet block were not socialism and certainly not communism. They were dictatorships with the economy owned and controlled by a small political elite, the very opposite of socialism and communism.

Ron_C's avatar

@ragingloli granted that communism turned into a dictatorship but my point that the all or nothing nature of any ideology eventually turns into one. Unrestricted capitalism turns into fascism, unrestricted socialism turns into a communist dictatorship. It is human nature for the power hungry to consolidate a power base. The trick is balance and democracy.

ragingloli's avatar

@Ron_C
When socialism or communism turn into dicatorships, they cease to be socialism/communism. At their very core, both are inherently democratic.
Communism/socialism can not turn into communist/socialist dictatorships, just as a democracy can not turn into a ‘democratic dictatorship’. All three are oxymoronic statements.

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli Sorry to be so late replying to your comment to my answer. I was simply reminding people what the word, socialism means, because the Republican disinformation and revision machine has busily been trying to redefine it in American political debate for years. But in practice, socialist nations such as the USSR, China, North Korea and Cuba may say the people won the means of production, but the truth is a dictator owns the people. In all those examples only party members vote. There is one party rule. Even party members below the top echelons have virtually no say in anything. There is no right to redress, right to free speech, right to assembly and airing of grievances. In all the real-world examples we have, what ended up happening was probably every bit as evil as the oligarchy that pure laissez-faire capitalism breeds.

LostInParadise's avatar

There are in fact businesses owned by the workers. They are generally known as worker cooperatives. You can do a search on the term. I could not find a suitable link, since most were either not informative or heavy on propaganda.

Ron_C's avatar

@ragingloli I think that we are agreeing on the main points. There are democratic socialist governments in the Scandinavian countries. The last country that fully integrated industry with government was Nazi Germany. Germany then became the ideal “free market economy”. The industrialist set the rules, banned unions and even accepted slave labor because it punished dissenters and helped the bottom line.

I believe that we need a vibrant industrial base but they must be restricted from their fascist tendencies.

Communism drifted from it’s Marxist origins because the communist party became obsessed with control just like typical conservative governments always do. They became what they hated most.

The thing that they have in common is that they abolished or severely weakened the middle class. A weak middle class insures that democracy will fail.

The reason scandinavian countries have successful governments is that they work to raise people to the middle class and limit the power of big corporations.

ETpro's avatar

@LostInParadise The problem with worker cooperatives is they are typically limited to enterprises which require relatively low capital investments. If we relied on worker financing alone, energy production, air travel, space exploration, telecommunications, transportation, the military industrial complex and a host of other capital intensive enterprises simply would not exist. But where they work, I think they are a great idea.

@Ron_C GA!

GracieT's avatar

I’m probably repeating something someone else said. We do not have a true democracy, but a republic. I don’t know if a true democracy could survive.

ETpro's avatar

@GracieT The USA is a democratic constitutional republic. North Korea is a republic, as is Cuba and China. So just calling the US a republic isn’t very enlightening.

I agree that in a nation as large as the US, direct democracy would be impossibly difficult to manage. It hasn’t been used in any large nations. Its last successful use was in the city-state of Athens, I believe.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am delighted with the quality of discussion that has arisen so far from this set of questions.

Imagine what we and like-minded people could accomplish to cut through all the BS out there and make our society more successful and fair for so many of our fellow citizens.

The Scandinavian countries seem to be making some of these ideas work well.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There are many nations where this conversation could not be discussed openly.

Ron_C's avatar

@GracieT We have a representative democracy. In theory, our representatives in congress are supposed to vote in our interest and opinion. In fact, they vote they way the people who pay them the most want then explain how it is really what us voters wanted.

ItsAHabit's avatar

The introduction of capitalist practices in China has led to unprecedented prosperity there following the oppressive and failed practices of communism. Deng and other leaders realized that people need economic incentives for prosperity to occur and they had a good model in Kong Kong. Mao’s strong opposition to any hint of a free market was demonstrated in the disasters of the Great Leap forward and the Cultural Revolution. He failed to understand economics, whereas other leaders such as Deng (who is now revered in China) did understand and followed the advice of economists.

The history of this is a very long and complicated one that I have greatly simplified.

Ron_C's avatar

@ItsAHabit I agree but remember, there are strict controls and, since Chinese are just people, a number of people that try to game the system. The Chinese solution for particularly egregious offenses is the firing squad. I think they may have something there.

ItsAHabit's avatar

For clarification: “there are no examples of states where workers own the means of production” That is correct in that there are no states in which all of the workers own all the means of production in the state. However, in Israel there are many industrial and agricultural kibbutzim in which the workers do own the means of production. Interestingly, over the decades they have increasingly been introducing bits of privatism.

jerv's avatar

After reading Makers by Cory Doctorow (also available here if you want to download a text, HTML, PDF, or other format instead of reading it online, or you can buy the dead-tree edition) I have a few new insights into things like this, and I think that anybody who is really interested in this discussion might want to give that book a look-see.

LostInParadise's avatar

@ETpro , The neo-Luddite in me says that it is the corporate model with its concentration of capital and energy use that leads to so much inequality. If green energy is not able to fill the fossil fuel gap then multi-national corporations may be playing a smaller economic role.

mammal's avatar

But as i frequently want to remind people, the so called communist countries are often forced to adopt draconian measures in order to fend off the onslaught of the Capitalist States. A ruling government/body that declares itself Communist automatically metes upon itself the full salvo from the Capitalist industrial military armoury, be it literally, economically or through espionage, subterfuge/subversion, thereby determining the expression of Communism that we have witnessed historically. We see this in North Korea, a country under siege, because of it’s determination to retain it’s National identity, independence and in it’s resistance to the perceived misery of a capitalist economic system. But if a citadel or castle is under siege, is it reasonable to then condemn the inhabitants for taking harsh measures on themselves in order to resist and survive, clearly they cannot exist as if conditions were anything approximating normality. When Robert Kennedy announced that we would visit the terrors of the earth on Castro, he wasn’t indulging in the kind of risible Hyperbole we have seen from Saddam or occasionally Ahmadinejad. No it was a sober statement of intent carried out upon the Castro regime and finally spreading to the greater populace, in a mixture of frustration, desperation and spite, when it became clear that the Regime was too resilient.

…...But more importantly, and this is the most important point, Capitalism is the mother of Communism, by pursuing Capitalism, aggressively, without reservation, the conditions become ripe for Communist ideology to flourish. It might be overstating the point or over simplification, to describe the process as an inevitable dialectic consequence or as an irrefutable Newtonian law of counteractive forces…but it is absurd for die hard Capitalist advocates to imagine they are dispelling Communism by aggressively advancing Capitalism. When the fact is, this strategy actually brings about the kind of politics they so despise, Communism, Islamo-fascism and so forth. Notwithstanding the strain on climate and natural resources.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have a roof over my head, 2 nice cars in the driveway, my 2 and 4 legged family all have full bellies and happy demeanors, so for me personally, I’d say it is working pretty damned well.

Ron_C's avatar

@mammal You have some validity in your description of Cuba as a communist state under siege. North Korea is in no way a communist state. It is in fact a theocracy with the Kims as the god head. Indeed, their day begins and ends singing the praise to their founder and their god. I feel nothing but pity for the people of north Korea and nothing but contempt for their leaders.

ItsAHabit's avatar

During the Cultural Revolution in China, children who didn’t eat all of their meal were told to eat it and think of all the starving children in capitalist countries!

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo That’s better than a lot of people in America these days, so count your blessings. It’s a good thing for me that I am accustomed to (and in some ways, prefer) cars that cost <$500 and often need repairs that I cannot afford or else I would be even more miserable

LostInParadise's avatar

Here is a much better explanation of what I have been trying to say – Story of Stuff

rooeytoo's avatar

@jervHere we go again with your oh so invaluable lessons to me. There are also many people in America who have not worked for the last 50 some years (sometimes at less than desirable jobs and for less than minimum wage in order to learn new skills). The blessings that I count are my health and sound mind, the variables over which I have no control, not the rewards of my labor and scrimping/saving in a theoretically capitalist society.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo So… you place no value on meeting your nutritional needs? Last I checked, you pretty much had to “play the game” if you wanted to avoid starving to death. The way our society is here/now, life itself is a reward of labor. I don’t think that’s right, but it is what it is.

While Capitalism may be treating you just fine, it also treats some others far less well, so I would say that the fact that you actually do have even your health means that variables you have no control over have worked in your favor to make you affluent enough to afford to live. In other words, you really are lucky to be alive.

As for the roof over your head and two nice cars, well, that’s just gravy, and I think that we both agree that there are things less important than being of sound mind and body. In fact, that is why I don’t feel Capitalism has totally failed me; I have what I need to get by and a loving wife, so having the $300 beater car instead of a $78,000 Nissan GTR really isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things.

rooeytoo's avatar

@jerv – I didn’t say I place no value on eating, I said I have a full belly and that is a good thing and if by playing the game you mean working all my life then yeppers it is what I did to avoid starving. And I said my health and sound mind are the variables over which I have no control. Yes at 65 I am lucky to be alive, I have lost many contemporaries.

Capitalism to me is like AA, it works if you work it.

ragingloli's avatar

Remember, kids: Most of the world is capitalist. And most of the world is poor.

ItsAHabit's avatar

“Most of the world is capitalist” is not an accurate statement. And even if it were, correlation doesn’t demonstrate causation.

jerv's avatar

@rooeytoo “Capitalism to me is like AA, it works if you work it.”
There are too many elements of chance and elements that we have no control over that I cannot agree. Even if you work it, that is no guarantee that it will work for you. Conversely, even if you do everything wrong but just happen to be in the right place at the right time, you can achieve unearned success.
However, you are entitled to your opinion so I won’t say you are wrong. I just disagree.

@ItsAHabit Correlation doesn’t demonstrate causation, but you have to admit that the correlation is pretty strong. True, it’s probably due to other factors like corruption rather than any inherent flaws in Capitalism, but the way I see it, any theory that doesn’t take human nature into account isn’t a valid theory anyways.

ragingloli's avatar

@jerv
The causation is that capitalism encourages business to pay as little on their employees as possible to maximise profit. Which means in third world countries where there are no laws and regulations that would protect workers and employees, companies, especially multinationals, can safe on worker and workplace safety and health, worker satisfaction, benefits and above all, wages and salaries. That is especially encouraged since their products are not sold where they produce, but in the western world, where the money is. Why do you think so many corporations outsource labour to poor countries? Just look at Foxconn, supplier to global corporations like Apple, pay their employees so little that they have started to kill themselves en masse.
That has nothing to do with corruption, but everything to do with the fact that capitalism encourages, even requires poverty of the majority to satisfy the need of a small portion of the population.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Economies appear to improve when elements of free enterprise are introduced, as China illustrates.

jerv's avatar

@ragingloli Personally, I feel that that is the Law of Unintended Consequences in action. If we had a truly global economy with only one currency and cost of living was fairly equal across the globe then there would be no benefit to outsourcing, only increased overhead from shipping costs.
Now, if you made the argument that Capitalism is idealistic and fails to take into account how the really real world actually works, I would agree. I also believe that, in theory, Capitalism could lead to prosperity for all, but generally doesn’t merely because some people are greedy and insist on having a bigger slice of the pie even if that means that there is less for everyone else or leads to a situation where profit/growth is unsustainable in the long-term.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Yes, the solution is somewhere in the middle and to me it’s called

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy

mattbrowne's avatar

@ragingloli – I think all the advantages you’ve listed are covered by the existing social market economy model. Modern management styles do encourage more innovation, because workers can decide what to produce and will put more emphasis on improved product quality, and less on short-term profits. Reduced automation and more manual labor, thus reduced unemployment, does not work in high-tech countries such as Germany or the US. It does happen in Romania where machines are more expensive than manual labor. All products must compete on a global level so they can’t be too expensive.

Why does have a party like “Die Linke” not get 51% of the vote? I’m sure they’d love to introduce full-scale socialism. I think this is because the majority of the voters including most liberals (SPD) think the existing social market economy will produce better results. Why does a party like “FDP” not get 51% of the vote? Because the majority of the voters does not want total laissez-faire capitalism.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne social market is a lot like capitalism, it improves products, and workers situation. The only real losers are the top executives, they lose a little power and a lot of their ill gotten gains.

American school books used to talk about laissez-fair capitalism. That is what supported monopolies and robber Barons. I don’t believe the new government studies book talk about what happens with unrestrained capitalism, they’ve been “cleaned-up”.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Germany got a social market economy and most top executives still earn 2 million euros or more, but they have to deal with the Betriebsverfassungsgesetz which is a law governing industrial relations within a company law governing industrial relations within a company and leads to the setup of workers councils.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne Two million for CEO’s is chump change in the U.S. There is a typical 400 to 1 difference betwee the average employee and his CEO’s salary. The workers councils are analogous to our union leadership. The only problem is that only 15% of our industry is unionized because the conservatives have worked to get rid of them.

I travel a great deal and this is the only country that has little or no import protection. The only things we export in quantity are war, jobs and dollars. I blame every U.S. president and congress since Reagan was elected. He began the decline of our country.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C 400:1? Your info is dated :D

I found this editorial in today’s paper, Are low taxes exacerbating the Recession? , that I found interesting and relevant.

Ron_C's avatar

@jerv excellent, thank you. My right wing friends look at articles like that and just say “bull-shit” they point to Reagan’s tax cuts and say “see that proves tax cuts work”.

I’ve had this argument here and in real life, with zero results. It seems like Reagan is the great prophet of the right. Pretty good for a guy that wasn’t very bright, had no original ideas, and slipped into dementia way before the end of his final term. Like I said before, I hope he is roasting in hell for the things he’s done to this country and in South America. He should be preparing a nice hot place for the sociopath Bush, Jr.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C While it is true that lowering tax rates can increase revenue under certain circumstances, many seem to be under the impression that setting the tax rate to zero will lead to maximum revenue. The more rational/intelligent ones will mis-estimate where we are on the Laffer Curve.

They also seem to overlook how much the Republicans spend. While the Democrats have done quite a bit to earn the reputation of “Tax and spend”, at least they make an attempt to cover the cost of their spending as opposed to putting it on credit and passing the bills to our great-great-great-great-grandchildren.

Actually, that isn’t entirely correct. Look how much money they save the government by cutting education and unemployment and letting our roads fall into disrepair. Almost enough savings in a year to pay for one month of Iraq and Afghanistan!

Ron_C's avatar

@jerv it is amazing to me that people don’t understand the death spiral they are advocating. They insist (republicans and democrats) that the government spends less yet also insist that we prosecute two unnecessary wars, continue the Bush tax cuts, stop sending money to states but we should pay for the Gulf clean up, and keep tax subsidies to oil companies and multinational corporations.

Wall street is no longer a source for business capital but a combination of Las Vegas and a Ponzi scheme but we should not regulate it but encourage further mergers of banks that keep us hostage. There are many people in Washington that need to go but candidates for their replacement seem to be either trying to change us into an armed Christian country or supporting the same things that got use into this problem.

I am disgusted and will probably never consider voting for an Republican or “centrist” democrat again. The more I learn the more progressive and secular I become.

To me, nobody in their right mind, that cares for this country can ever vote conservative until the party reforms and gets back to its Eisenhower roots. Even Nixon was more liberal than Obama.

I want Dennis Kucinich to run again.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C Like I always say, there are a lot of people out there that give the “intellectually challenged” (you can’t call them “retards” any more) a bad name. It’s a special brand of stupidity that mere brain damage alone could never cause.

Yeah, I wanna see Kucinich try again. With Palin and Obama (a dingbat and a Pariah) on the ballot, I think Dennis will have a better shot in 2012 that he did last time.

Ron_C's avatar

@jerv I worked for Obama, even though I travel a great deal. I would take time off to work for Kucinich. I have heard that some people didn’t vote for him because he is short and has big ears. Many people can’t get past really superficial things. There is something that the people in his district know that doesn’t seem to translate to big screen television. If there was television when Lincoln ran, he wouldn’t have won either.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Worker’s councils are not the same as unions. Typically, people who are also part of a union create “running teams” but there’s a lot of competition especially in larger companies. Some worker’s council teams are even somewhat anti-union. There are worker council’s elections.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne I ran into the workers council in Belgium. The made a good rule. There was a slow down at the factory and nobody was allowed to do overtime even salary personnel. The thought was that if we need overtime, we need to bring back some of the workers.

All they do in the U.S. is force the overtime and when that works out, they never bring back workers. Terrible way to run a business.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The question seems to have been abandoned in favour of a discussion of all kinds of other topics.
Please continue but I’m done following the thread I started.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C Actually, Lincoln would have a chance. Historically, we’ve usually given the job to the taller candidate. But yes, nowadays we go for style over substance in most things, politicians included.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – There are smart worker’s councils and stupid worker’s councils. Same for managers.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne hopefully they are not both in the same company. That seems the point of unions, The balance out the employer’s power, possibly helping each group prevent really big mistakes that ruin the company.

I remember when U.S. Steel was the big player in the steel industry and the Steel Workers had comparable power. They, together managed to ruin the company, then Reagan came along and basic steel production rapidly moved out of the country.

When you have three groups doing the worst possible thing for American manufacturing, the situation is hopeless.

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