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[P]
Labor Is The Superior Of Capital

By SaintPort in Op-Ed
Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 01:42:36 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves the much higher compensation."

  --  Abraham Lincoln,  State of the Union message, 1861


For quite awhile now I have been in prayer for a thought picture, an idea, an angle.  I have mentioned before that I feel the need to explain to the community the intrinsic value of unionization, and also that it agrees with the tenets of my faith.  And at the same time, I needed a philosophical position for arguments in preparation for the next bargaining session my union has scheduled with my employer.

The Lord responded in time with an article penned by Joe Twarog, and reprinted in our local union's newsletter.  Mr. Twarog pulled together a history and a philosophy so complete and concise, that I called him personally and asked if I might be allowed to reprint it on our fair site.  He agreed, and it follows:


Workplace benefits: not the result of employers' benevolence or goodwill

By Joe Twarog

Associate Director, Labor Education & Training, MNA

You may have seen bumper stickers on vehicles as you drive down the highway that read, "The Labor Movement: The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend."

What exactly does that mean? Well, in a nutshell, it means that many workplace benefits that we all take for granted were issues that were fought for and won by organized labor.

Consistently over the years, it has been labor unions that have waged the battle (and it has always been a battle) for improvements for workers--whether in a collective bargaining agreement or through legislation. These include: the non-working weekend; child labor laws; the 40-hour work week; overtime premium pay; contractualized tuition reimbursement; employer-paid health insurance and disability insurance; paid vacation leave; leaves of absence; guaranteed pensions and retirement; health and safety legislation; child care and elder care provisions; paid holidays; due process through a grievance and arbitration procedure; a wage scale with escalator clauses; job security; workplace non-discrimination; and other major intangibles like dignity and respect in the workplace.

Many of these issues have been won over time, with labor working in coalition with other spearhead groups. These also include many of the broader social issues, such as: Social Security; Medicare; civil rights legislation; Fair Labor Standards Act; family and medical leave; and OSHA to name a few.




Which side are you on?

Consistently throughout history, management and employers were on the wrong side of these issues. None of these improvements in American workers' lives were given out from the goodness or generosity of the boss. The boss always had an argument why anything that stood to enhance working conditions would cripple their business. This was the case in:


  • The late 1800s with the push for the 40-hour work week

  • The early 1900s with the drive to eliminate and regulate the use of child labor

  • The 1970s and the initiation of health and safety regulations through OSHA

    1993 with the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act

  • The current issues of mandating safe needles, bans or limits on mandatory overtime and nurse-to-patient ratios

The arguments of doom and gloom have always repeated themselves. That's why it is important to remind ourselves collectively how the workplace improved. It was Thomas Jefferson (with a sometimes controversial quote, "Every generation needs a new revolution") who realized early in the history of the American republic that the benefits and freedoms enjoyed in this country would be taken for granted by later generations who never experienced first-hand all of the sacrifices made to achieve those gains. Much is the same in labor today.


Collective amnesia

In today's workplace many workers forget--or never had the opportunity to learn--when or where all of these benefits came from. Some workers assume that these benefits are simply a part of the package that employers unilaterally want to offer employees. Others point to non-union workplaces where some or even many of these benefits are also in place.

It is important to recognize that many non-union facilities are forced to offer some of the benefits that labor has won elsewhere simply to attract and retain employees and to remain competitive in the labor market. These benefits are not offered as a result of the employer's benevolence. Furthermore, in non-union worksites, all benefits that are not protected as a part of legislation are not enforceable because of the lack of a contract. That is, the employer can choose to ignore or to use "management's discretion" in providing or continuing benefits. Such benefits have not become part of the workplace "social contract" as it has in many other countries. Every gain has been fought for--often with blood, sweat and tears--and they are always in danger of being lost.

Employers have fought all of these benefits repeatedly using the same old and stale tactics and arguments, such as "the need for management flexibility," or the right to exercise management's prerogative to run the business, or--the most over-used one of all--business cannot afford to operate with such onerous laws that require a minimum wage, or safe working conditions, or bans on child labor, or family leave, etc. Allegedly, these employers won't be able to compete as a result and it will be the end of Western civilization as we know it.

Of course, none of that has happened. What has happened is that because of labor's constant struggle over many of these issues, the workplace is a better and safer place to work. And yes, more rewarding financially as well as personally.




Health care and nurses

For nurses in the workplace, whether in an acute care hospital, mental health facility, school district, visiting nurse/hospice association, or long-term facility, the same lessons hold true.

New nurses coming into the workplace come out of the same popularized culture that tends to hold labor unions in disregard or outright disdain. It is therefore the union's job to educate new members and the general public on what labor has won over the years. This is particularly important in each worksite. The record of improvements in health care work is impressive for the working nurse, as well as for the patient and the over all delivery of health care.

For instance, the hospital industry vigorously fought against safe-needle legislation, claiming that prohibitive costs would force them out of business. Yet such federal legislation passed in 2003 and no hospitals have closed over the use of safe needles any more than bottling companies have gone out of business because of the can/bottle deposit law.

Consider the record on:

  • Whistle-blower legislation

  • Latex sensitivity contract provisions

  • Flexible scheduling

  • Professional development clauses

  • Bans or limits on mandatory overtime

  • Living wage ordinances

Where did the health care industry fall in each of these instances? They consistently fought against them. Labor, along with patient advocacy groups, senior organizations, health care groups, community groups, and health and safety advocates fought long and hard for many of these, and continue to do so.



The fight continues

It is no surprise then that currently in Massachusetts the hospital industry is fighting the MNA's safe staffing legislation in the same manner. They are willing to spend gross amounts of money to mislead and confuse the public and their own employees about such legislation. They have taken out misleading ads and billboards and testified at the State House relating contrived and inaccurate stories about the impact such legislation has had on hospitals in California. Carefully they avoid recognizing the many studies that support and endorse the MNA's position.

None of the workplace victories were easily won. It took sacrifices, and even death, to force changes and improvements--from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that took 146 lives because of the lack of proper precautions and safety exits, to registered nurses' deaths by AIDS or hepatitis from infected needles and sharps.

Yet there is a constant and ever-increasing onslaught of attacks on these workplace gains from:

  • The employer and corporate industry, through mergers, runaway shops, benefit cuts, globalization and outsourcing

  • The Legislature and Congress by sacrificing union rights in the Department of Homeland Security and "free trade"

  • The executive branch by the loss of public sector collective bargaining rights in Indiana and Missouri by newly elected Republican governors, and anti-union appointments to the courts and the Department of Labor and the suspension of the Davis Bacon Act's prevailing wage provision in the rebuilding of hurricane-ravaged communities

  • The media by negatively stereotyping labor and using loaded terminology in news reports such as "special interest group" and "labor bosses"

  • And the NLRB with decisions increasingly hostile to workers

Unions remain a progressive force in the United States today, even as its numbers decline in the face of this multi-pronged attack. They are among the most democratic, dynamic and diverse organizations in the country. As organized labor is under attack it has responded by joining coalitions in social justice movements and broadening its own vision. History has shown unmistakably that it is organized labor that has fought for employee rights and against the race to the bottom.

Abraham Lincoln said in his first message to Congress, "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves the much higher compensation."

  -- Massachusetts Nurse :: October 2005


I was a latecomer to unions. My college career was the business curriculum. My work included manual labor and management. I joined a union after watching how every company I worked for abused the salaried people in their employ.

Though the union might be despised, it is extremely effective in giving voice for the working. I'll wrap this up with a few other quotes that enlighten:



The important role of union organizations must be admitted: their object is the representation of the various categories of workers, their lawful collaboration in the economic advance of society, and the development of the sense of their responsibility for the realization of the common good.

 --  Pope Paul VI

Every advance in this half-century-Social Security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education, one after another-came with the support and leadership of American Labor.

  -- Jimmy Carter

The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor.

  -- A. Phillip Randolph

If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor.

  -- Frank Lloyd Wright



Open your mouth for the dumb [those unable to speak for themselves], for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless;
Open your mouth, judge righteously, and administer justice for the poor and needy.

  -- Proverbs 31:8-9 (Amplified Bible)

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

  -- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 (NKJV)

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Poll
Unions
o will save us all 3%
o are a gift of God 6%
o moderate capitalism for good 26%
o yin balance the corp yang 26%
o just 'are' 10%
o are inherently corrupt 11%
o = communism/socialism = evil. 7%
o cripple the genetically superior 6%

Votes: 78
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o State of the Union message, 1861
o Also by SaintPort


Display: Sort:
Labor Is The Superior Of Capital | 403 comments (327 topical, 76 editorial, 1 hidden)
Thank you for this. (3.00 / 4) (#3)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:00:25 PM EST

I've tried to make this point before but was never able to say it that well.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
This was a major epiphany for me (none / 1) (#7)
by SaintPort on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 06:44:51 PM EST

I had been struggling with this nagging feeling that there is a social viewpoint that we have lost in this generation.

Honest Abe made it so simple.

Thanks for the support.  I'm grouchy today, and you are helping me.

<love><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Why do you think you have exclusive (none / 1) (#32)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:29:05 AM EST

rights to the "social viewpoint"? If you bothered to read the numerous criticisms to this article of yours you'd see that they are mostly based on better welfare for the society, which I would call a social viewpoint, as well. We have not lost it in this generation. We have finally realized that unions today are not the best way to increase welfare in the society.

Your definition of social viewpoint seems to be "higher pay for a selected elite" (union members), whereas my definition is something like "higher welfare for the society as a whole." Guess which one is more desirable outcome?

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

exclusive ? (none / 0) (#37)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:50:01 AM EST

We have finally realized that unions today are not the best way to increase welfare in the society.

Well, whatever it is you are doing, it isn't working.

Re: union members as 'selected elite', you do realize that this isn't some secret society, you just have to organize.

Unions are a prime force that drives the higher welfare for society as a whole. Or do you think wishing for employer benevolence is more effective?

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Wrong (1.00 / 4) (#45)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:14:33 AM EST

"Well, whatever it is you are doing, it isn't working."

I can't be arsed to do your research, but here's graphs which shows that real wages have gone dramatically up in Europe since Industrial Revolution and WWII, and I can assure it's the same trend in the US and rest of developed world.

Or did you have another definition of "not working," too? Something that fits your argument better but doesn't have anything to do with the matter at hand?

"Unions are a prime force that drives the higher welfare for society as a whole."

You can take your ideological bullshit and shove it. Again, take an introductory econ class instead of reading outdated manifestoes and stop making a fool of yourself.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

its your point (none / 0) (#47)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:16:48 AM EST

do your own research

the spread between rich and poor is widening.

If you want to know why it isn't worse, ask a unionman.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Now you're just a lazy troll (1.16 / 6) (#51)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:24:14 AM EST

Soundbites such as "the spread between rich and poor is widening" without any proof whatsoever is disingenuous. By some accounts (absolute number of people) this is true, by others (relative) it is not. Also, there are huge differences in Gini indices across countries and regions which makes blanket statements such as yours meaningless.

As stated in several top-level comments (mine included), unions hike up wages and increase unemployment. This leads to the gap between the rich and the poor widening, which is exactly the opposite of what you would like your dear unions' existence to exhibit.

Maybe it's time to reconsider your point in the face of overwhelming evidence contrary to your current position? Or did you have some hard data to back up your opinion, not your current quibbling and spurious claims to offer?

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

the income gap is widening with the (none / 0) (#57)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:30:44 AM EST

decline of unions. Nothing complicated about that. Your kind of thinking is fueling that problem.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
much of that is due to taxation changes, imo (none / 1) (#60)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:37:39 AM EST

It's hard to say for sure, but the top income tax rate in the U.S. was 91% in the 1950s, and is 35% today. I think the relatively lower income gap earlier in the 20th century was due less to a more even structural setup in the relationship between employers and employees, and more to just a direct wealth-redistribution through high taxes.

[ Parent ]
you have a point (none / 0) (#61)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:14:19 AM EST

the more power the rich have, the more they use it.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
unions are people (none / 1) (#290)
by otchie1 on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:27:30 PM EST

If all workers are in unions (even managers) and all workers rely on profitable companies for their livelihoods then surely it is in everyones best interests to ensure that comapnies remain profitable. Unions aren't about stopping profits, they are about stopping exploitation. Capitalism is built on exploitation; it is of its essence; therefore you need strong unions. Not closed shop exploiters of low labour supply but proper, democratic unions that do what their members tell them to do and have an eye to the continued survival of the company. To the few individuals who see no reason to contribute to any social contract 'as it never helps them', I'll be sure to mark my next donated unit of blood "CASH ONLY" and negotiate it's value with ou when you're bleeding to death.
did i just say that?
[ Parent ]
Once again you give pure conjecture (1.20 / 5) (#64)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:33:50 AM EST

If you don't have any empirical evidence to back that (yet another) spurious claim, just shut up. Hell, I'd settle for a pure theory, anything but this talking point bullshit you're spewing.

No, it's not my kind of thinking that's fueling the problem. It's the dogmatic people like you who are stagnating the discussions since they can't defend their position by anything other than resorting to emotional headgames as their position is undefendable from any objective standpoint.

So, unless you or your ilk have some hard data to back your claims above, consider this discussion ended. I'm looking forward to voting this shit down and watch it go down in flames. I was actually planning to +1FP this because of the ensuing lively debate, but as you obviously are not capable of actually arguing your point I'll enjoy the story's downward spiral in voting.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

when you click (none / 0) (#67)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 10:16:12 AM EST

[dump it], do it with feeling.

Anyway, the point of this posting was not my wonderfully researched economic proof. If you actually read it, it was about philsophy.

The author of the article I reprinted may have some economic proof, I don't know... didn't ask.

If you care, I have a BS in business and the econ part of an MBA. That education brought me into the job market anti-union.  Real life taught me there are more variables than you have chaulk.

Have a nice day.

<withFeeling><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Are you seriously this retarded? (1.00 / 7) (#70)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 10:54:52 AM EST

You prefer the philosophical "right" over the welfare of the society? Philosophy doesn't put food on the table, work does. And there'd be more work if unions didn't exist.

I sure hope you're trolling. If you aren't, pls die.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

no (none / 0) (#79)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 12:10:20 PM EST

I'm not trolling.

And, no, it is the welfare of society I am concerned with. Work doesn't put food on the table of the working man when the capitalist skims the profits and withholds earned due wages.

The problematic point is what part of the profit is due shareholders, and what part is due labor.

Lincoln's point is that labor should be considered first.

But that is not how it works in common practice.  Wages are constrained as low as the labor market will allow.

I realize I'm painting widely.


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

*sigh* (1.50 / 2) (#81)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 12:50:54 PM EST

"due" wages are set by competition, not by you or another bright-eyed but clueless idealist. Your beloved unions skew this competition in favor of members, and decreasing overall welfare in the society.

And, once again, you are wrong: wages are most decidedly not constrained as low as the labor market allows. We have minimum wages (yet another example how unions are to blame for taking away employment from those who need it most) and as pointed out numerous times already, labor unions result in sticky wages, ie. wages are almost never adjusted down.

You should realize you're painting surrealist paintings in a world where such paintings result in empty fridges and crushed dreams.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

Well, whether your point is correct or not, (none / 1) (#104)
by Kasreyn on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:18:34 PM EST

remember that many of those leading the "unions are obsolete" charge seem to think that it leads to the conclusion "we should discard everything the unions ever accomplished". You're throwing in with a camp who only make your claim as a wedge to a far more general strategy of eliminating workers' rights.

Besides, since when were unions elitist? I thought they *wanted* more members. One of the defining traits of an exclusive elite is, obviously, exclusivity - not just anyone is allowed to join. Whereas unions jump at the chance to get new members. Seems more like populism to me.

That's what the recent split was all about, in fact. The ones who left the AFL-CIO claimed it was not doing enough to increase membership, instead devoting its energies to political lobbying. In effect, they were accusing the AFL-CIO of selling out and joining the elitists. Their goal is to make it a mass movement once more. If you ask me, the spirit of the labor movement is alive and well.

I also happen to believe that higher standard of living for society as a whole has to start with a higher standard of living for its laborers, who constitute the vast bulk of society. I doubt either you or I want a return to princes and serfs. All too many of those who oppose organized labor are secretly hoping for just that.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
they want more industries, not more members (none / 0) (#109)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:38:07 PM EST

Unions do want to expand to non-unionised jobs, but they don't want their own jobs to undergo more competition. In general, unions raise the pay of their employees at the cost of keeping out other potential employees: If a company could hire people 20% more cheaply, it would in most cases hire more of them. Instead, fewer people get to work, but those who do manage to get in are better off (and the rest are unemployed).

[ Parent ]
you sir, are incorrect (none / 0) (#115)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 05:31:18 PM EST

companies will hire as few employees as possible, no matter the wages, to lower the 'firm' cost of benefits like health insurance, SS/MC taxes etc.

I know for a fact that our union tries to aid job creation, not extermination. At the same time, we promote education, which is pro-technology.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

it depends on the industry (none / 0) (#156)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:43:45 AM EST

Employers do actually hire more labor in cases where labor markets are more flexible. France has recently been experimenting with this: They introduced a new temporary 2-year contract, with wages set by the employer and advertised on the free market. Employers have been using this to increase their net number of employees substantially, because they can pay them what the market will bear, and don't have to worry about getting locked in with excess employees in a downturn (since they can choose not to renew their contracts every 2 years). The net result has been a decrease in unemployment.

[ Parent ]
Who's claiming that (none / 1) (#147)
by godix on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:05:29 AM EST

remember that many of those leading the "unions are obsolete" charge seem to think that it leads to the conclusion "we should discard everything the unions ever accomplished".

As someone who thinks unions are obsolete, in the US at least, I gotta wonder where you got the idea I think we should discard all union achievements. Child labor, safe working conditions, minimum wage, maximum working hours, etc. are all union achievements that are now protected by law. Keep the laws and enforcement of the laws but realize unions outlived their usefullness and should go away. After all, just because I throw away a dead hard drive doesn't mean I think any data it's ever stored in it's lifetime should be deleted.

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
You fail to understand (none / 1) (#174)
by Ward57 on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:36:49 AM EST

that laws are a dynamic structure. It is in the economic best interests of every business to ensure that the pool of labour from which it employs is as low paid (for equivalent worker skill) as possible. Six day week? It's in business's best interests. Who writes the laws? Labour or business?

[ Parent ]
Political situations are not written in stone. (none / 0) (#187)
by Kasreyn on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 09:13:57 AM EST

It's not like unions won certain things and they became law, and then no one's ever going to try to undo them, ever. Preposterous. The same types who opposed labor back when the labor movement made its great achievements, stand ready to undo it as soon as unions are declared "obsolete".

So thanks very much, but no thanks. I enjoy the 40-hour work week and the concept of having a personal life. The labor movement is what won that for me, and I look around the political landscape and the labor movement seems to be the only group that cares about making sure it doesn't go away again. You mention keeping the laws and enforcing them. Look around. No one but the unions lobbies hard enough to get them kept and enforced.

To me, that sums up the whole question on whether unions are "obsolete": have the people and forces who oppose the unions' goals given up and gone away? No. Therefore the unions still has work to do - defending their past achievements.

This is why I say that those who wish to undo the unions' achievements mask their intentions with lip-service and a claim that their job is done and now they can retire in honor. Bullshit. It would take a cultural change as drastic as Star Trek's "replicator" technology to do away with the need for a political movement for workers' rights. Mere globalization is just the same old thing done bigger and cheaper.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Unions (2.80 / 10) (#13)
by QuantumFoam on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 07:15:30 PM EST

In one of my first jobs, the union there used the collective bargaining power of thousands of employees to prevent anyone from getting a raise until they had worked there for two years. The size of the raise? Ten cents. Why would they campaign for this? In exchange for benefits for the lifers. When I chose not to join this wonderful union (the only difference between being a union member and a non-member being that they took money out of your check), I got shit from the union workers. Thanks Unions!

The higher wages demanded by unions have priced American goods out of the global market. So union workers got benefits and a higher wage for a while, at least until their managers realized that robots don't threaten to walk out. The remaining employees continued to make things unprofitable by demanding too much. Thanks Unions!


- Barack Obama: Because it will work this time. Honest!

Yeah (none / 1) (#17)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 08:31:28 PM EST

That's pretty much the point I'm making in my top-level comment. Unions are driving wages up as well as giving a long list of requirements to employers. Guess what? There's about a billion Chinese who are dying (many literally) to do your job for less and with fewer requirements.

Unions are just one of the many reasons why the West is pricing itself out of many industries. It doesn't have to be so, and the way unions are fighting outsourcing and imports is just hurting the laborer and the consumer.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

International Unions are the fix. (none / 0) (#403)
by grargrargrar on Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 04:59:25 PM EST

The entirety Asia will love that, if it ever comes to pass.

[ Parent ]
this is a general feature (none / 0) (#41)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:55:18 AM EST

Unions tend to harm the better-qualified and more-in-demand workers for the benefit of lesser-qualified workers with skills not in demand. For example, high school chemistry teachers are generally required to be paid the same as high school phys. ed. teachers, despite the former being much more in demand. The result is that chemistry teachers generally do worse in terms of pay and benefits than they would have if no union existed at all.

[ Parent ]
In my experience, American products are shoddy. (2.50 / 2) (#83)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 01:14:02 PM EST

Customer service has always been great. Shame that the workers can't be bothered to ship the items I order, or even stick the bloody labels on straight.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]
Unions, policians, army... (none / 0) (#94)
by svampa on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:05:08 PM EST

All these organizatiosn are a pain in the neck, and their most active task is to make their living from public. But I wonder how the society would be without them.

Unions are what you say, but do you know how was the life of workers before unions? Without unions not specialiced jobs would be slavery. There are a lot of flaws in unions, but it doesn't mean they should be banned, instead it means that they must be fixed

We must thanks unions a lot of things, unless you think you're high qualified, thus the rest of the world may go to the hell.



[ Parent ]
I find it weird (none / 1) (#305)
by Spendocrat on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 03:30:13 AM EST

That whenever anyone has a bad union experience, they see it as an indictment of all unions.

But when someone has a bad experience with a corporation (or the police force, or their car insurance company, etc.) they don't go around calling for the end of that particular establishment.

[ Parent ]

A little game (2.87 / 8) (#14)
by fremen on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 07:31:26 PM EST

I have several friends who are professional classical musicians (all with masters degrees and all symphony quality players), and without exception each one of them wants a full-time orchestra job. And the truth is, I can't blame them -- the starting salary at a major American orchestra is usually a little above $100,000. Of course, all orchestras are unionized and this salary is union driven.

So I like to play a little game with my friends. If they're willing to work for an orchestra for $100,000, what about $90,000? $80,000? I continue, and in general they start getting uneasy at around $50,000 and flat out reject the offer at $30,000.

So now consider that there's at least $50,000 of lost economic surplus for each performer, and then figure that over a 100 person orchestra there's almost $5 million dollars a year of lost funding that goes to union demands. Now consider what a major orchestra could do with another $5 million each year: they could hire more performers, commission new compositions from starving composers, or increase their music education.

So I think it's more interesting to consider not what the unions have given us, but what they've taken away.



You know, you m ight have a point there.... (2.50 / 4) (#30)
by GreyGhost on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 06:30:03 AM EST

If we brought slavery back, management wouldn't have to pay people at all. Of course - slaves would still need to be fed and housed, which would drain some capital, but for the most part I think it would work out much better than the current system we have right now. And as anyone who has visited older portions of large southern cities can attest, skilled labor was not lacking among the slave class when it was legal in this country.



[ Parent ]

Some constraints... (2.00 / 2) (#73)
by fremen on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 11:44:50 AM EST

My argument makes sense in the context of a free workforce that can move around voluntarily and choose the best price for their offerings.

Slavery is economically inefficient (we already know that it's immoral) because slaves, who are not compensated for any of their work, are less likely to perform their labor in a productive fashion.

What I'm suggesting is that compensation is ineffecient if it skews wildly away from a person's reservation price for doing a job. If someone will do the job for $30,000, and the pay is $100,000, then something is probably wrong with the system when the supply of labor is a commodity for this particular job. Consequently, if the job pays $20,000, then the person is free to reject the job entirely -- perhaps choosing a different line of work (that's why I'm not an artist).

[ Parent ]

Market of labour (none / 1) (#99)
by svampa on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:01:07 PM EST

if the job pays $20,000, then the person is free to reject the job entirely--perhaps choosing a different line of work.

No, he is not necessarily free. Perhaps there is not another job, perhaps he can't learn a new job quickly enough to feed his family meanwhile. I can't be yesterday a plumber, today a geography teacher, and tomorrow a bus driver.

It's a matter of supply (workers) and demand (employers).

If there is more demand than supply of workers, prize of workers (that's salary) rises. Or perphas the suply increases, (inmigration). Or perhaps the demand decreases (companies close down or move to another country cheaper).

If there is more supply than demand of workers, price of workers goes down. Or perphas the suply decreases, (emigration or die of hunger). Or perhaps the demand increases (start up more companies).

Unions to certain extend, distort the prices keeping them to certains threshold. Just as any other regulators, for example taxes, arancels, and subventions.

The question is that the supply we are talking about are human beings. Decreasign salary means decreasing standard of living of persons, and decreasing supply means emigration or death.

You may ignore the fact that they are persons that suffer, and say "The law of markets", Unfortunately people can't ignore themselves, therefore they get hungry and angry. Those are the seeds of unstability that ends in repression and dictatorship or revolution and comunism (in fact, a dictatorship as well) .

The wild law of Market applied to labour market is a nightmare. And that's what has happened around the world, dictartoships or comunism. And that's what hasn't happened in first world countries (yet) because there are laws and organizations that to certain extend protect the worker.



[ Parent ]
there are better mechanisms for transitions (none / 1) (#107)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:34:36 PM EST

You're correct that transitions (i.e. changes in demand) are disruptive, since workers cannot always easily change jobs and skill sets. That is best dealt with by government providing support in the meantime, through unemployment benefits, funding for retraining schemes, and so on. That way, you actually help effect a transition, while cushioning the disruption through the application of tax dollars. The more traditional union way of doing it—preventing people from being fired or having their pay cut—is an attempt to keep the transition from happening at all, which is in the long run unsustainable, since you can't magically force the demand for a particular type of labor to reappear if it simply is no longer in demand.

[ Parent ]
Even so, (none / 0) (#175)
by Ward57 on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:42:35 AM EST

if you offer me a coin flip of $100,000 or nothing, I'll take it over flat $50,000. I can always try something else if I lose the flip.

[ Parent ]
You're asking the wrong people. (3.00 / 4) (#80)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 12:28:16 PM EST

I'm sure you could find millions of people who would be happy to work for professional orchestras for $50000pa. Hell, you could probably find a couple of billion people who would be ecstatic to do it for $10000pa.

Who would want to listen to the music produced by these people, though?

Presumably your friends would do a better job than the man in the street, but the point still stands.

The orchestra wants the best people it can find. How many of the musicians already employed by the orchestra would do the job for $50000pa? Precious few, I guess.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

True... (1.50 / 1) (#88)
by fremen on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 02:34:43 PM EST

I absolutely agree with you. My assumption is that the labor here is a commodity. Music is subjective, so it's difficult to say what value a top symphony performer adds compared to a slightly less than top symphony performer, especially in a winner take all system (see this book by economist Robert Frank).

What I'm suggesting is a thought exercise based on commodity labor systems. What does an industrial worker do in America that can't be done in Mexico or Indonesia? The answer may be "lots" or it may be "nothing." A union shouldn't prevent the efficient reallocation of capital when the answer is "nothing."

[ Parent ]

I'm a free trader. (none / 1) (#90)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 02:45:10 PM EST

My problem with this whole outsourcing thing is not that jobs shouldn't be mobile, but that there seems to be one rule for corporations and another rule for the rest of us.

In theory, I'd have no problem taking a pay cut to beat someone in India to a job, provided the abjectly poor people from India were allowed to come and cut my lawn and clean my house for me.

As it is, I've not had to make this choice. Outsourcing doesn't seem to have affected IT wages in the UK by one iota.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

For one.. (none / 0) (#119)
by pyro9 on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 06:17:15 PM EST

What does an industrial worker do in America that can't be done in Mexico or Indonesia?

Buy products sold in America (if employed)? Following cause and effectg to their natural conclusion, if all employers outsource so that they can pay next to non-existant wages, their customer base will have next to nothing available to buy products. The problem is that this 'karmic retribution' will come too late to stop the suffering of millions.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Nope... (2.50 / 2) (#122)
by fremen on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:40:24 PM EST

Sorry, this is the zero sum or Lump of Labor fallacy. In short, efficient allocation of capital can help grow the economy providing increased wealth for everyone, both in the United States and abroad.

[ Parent ]
Three things (2.50 / 2) (#143)
by godix on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:47:33 AM EST

A) Our border isn't one way. Things go out AND in it. Ever notice how low skilled factory jobs go to China and cheap trinkets come back from China? Exporting jobs doesn't leave the original country with nothing.

B) The world market isn't zero sum. There isn't X number of jobs avalable in a country forever. When American loses 10,000 jobs to a factory in Mexico it doesn't have X - 10,000 jobs for all of eternity. If the move was an efficient one it will lead to both countries improving. The problem is this is the long view and when 10,000 get the pink slip their view doesn't extend past the next date rent is due. Thus our media and politicians take the short term viewpoint and nevermind it might be better for everyone all around 20 years from now.

C) Buying only products made in America is, at it's core, an informal tariff to protect inefficient companies. Protective tariffs almost always cause huge problems in the long run. You can't keep it up forever and when the stack of cards comes crumbling down it makes a huge mess. And, of course, in the meantime the higher price you've been paying for products has basically been used to rewards companies for bad and inefficient actions. If the best and cheapest product is made in America then buy it. If not, well, isn't it about time the US auto industry figured out how to make a good cheap car anyway?

More CORN!

[ Parent ]

From the perspective of business (none / 0) (#227)
by pyro9 on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:21:14 PM EST

I was actually looking from the perspective of American businesses. Outsourcing is a way to drop costs and retain profits (in clothing, obscene profits). They will only do themselves in in the long run when the standard of living falls enough to make people buy more sensible clothing.

Henry Ford was certainly a believer in paying labor well in the hopes of making his product affordable to the masses.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
You might want to take a basic econ class (2.11 / 17) (#16)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 08:24:19 PM EST

before spewing this nonsense and making a fool of yourself.

Unions are one of the major drivers of unemployment. Unions hike salaries up and make them sticky so companies can't adjust them down during recessions, make firing workers harder and hiring non-union workers difficult or impossible. All these points lead to less employment in the unionized sector.

Without unions we would have higher employment and employers would be able to adjust better to prevailing economic conditions making companies more viable.

Although the unions fiercely protect their right to exist, the only thing unions are actually giving to the workers is some protection from "unscrupulous" employers. But this is largely not necessary anymore due to strict laws preventing the kind of abuses the unions were founded to fight against during the Industrial Revolution.

Yes, unions also increase wages, but this is only for their members. From the societal and economic standpoint we would be better off if we hire 1000 workers at $80.000 than 100 at $100.000. Also, unions may make things worse for their members since sticky wages can mean layoffs or even bankruptcies when unions refuse to lower wages during economic downturns.

There's a lot of empirical research which supports my statements above. You might wanna read up on that. Unions are an anachronism and we would all be better off if all of them were disbanded altogether and the resources freed used on hiring more workers. And of course the number of employed laborers would increase dramatically in all unionized industries.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
-

Systems... (2.75 / 4) (#40)
by Znork on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:54:46 AM EST

"Unions hike salaries up..."

Which leads to companies raising prices which leads to inflation which leads to... etc. The status quo remains, and exchanging a larger number of smaller shiny things instead of a smaller number large shiny things for some specific amount of labour doesnt really either help or hurt.

The debate is old as labour itself, and pointless, because it has deficient inherent assumptions.

"From the societal and economic standpoint we would be better off if we hire 1000 workers at $80.000 than 100 at $100.000."

Here you see one of those inherent assumptions. The fact is, a couple of centuries ago, we were all working the fields, with full employment, working our collective asses off to even get food.  I'd say we're better off now.

Work is not an end in itself. We're better off only _needing_ 100 workers doing a certain thing. In fact, we'd be best off if we automated the whole thing and had robotic labour doing all the work, and could just slouch around enjoying ourselves. That's the whole point of a free market economy, and the one great advantage it has; the capitalistic incentive means you benefit more the less labour you have to use to produce a certain good. As capital and labour for production approaches zero, competition will ensure prices also approach zero.

The real problems stem from other issues; one of them is the merging of economic systems with different rules, without consideration to those aspects. As a society we may not necessarily want to adapt to such rules, yet we cannot, in the long run, avoid the cost of everything from healthcare to housing. Another is the increasing amount of non-competetive segments in the economy, supported by intellectual monopoly legislation, which bypasses the free market economy and consumes more and more resources in inefficiency.

Material wealth stems from the production of desired goods. The fewer people needed for that production, the 'wealthier' we become.

[ Parent ]

it's an interesting issue, though (none / 1) (#43)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:11:23 AM EST

Traditionally, a handful of high-skilled people with ideas and innovation needed a large army of low-skilled people to implement those ideas. The people on top got more of the money, but everyone contributed something useful to society, and was necessary for things to get done.

I agree in principle that more and more things should be automated—there's no reason to manually do something that could be done automatically just for the sake of giving people something to do (that would basically be a charade, pretending those people are doing something useful when in reality they aren't). What result does this have, though?

One outcome is that everyone moves upwards: We have robots doing all the boring drudgery, freeing up human resources to be used on more complex and interesting tasks. Each member of the innovative person's army now has their own miniature robot army at their disposal, allowing each worker to do more than mere manual labor, and exponentially more things get done. This is a sort of utopian future.

An alternate outcome is that not everyone has the motivation and/or ability to move upwards. A large portion of humanity has traditionally filled a relatively narrow role as a cog in a machine of one sort or another. When the machine doesn't need any more cogs, what happens then? Does a portion of humanity become essentially useless?

The latter scenario is a bit dystopian not so much because of the spectre of lots of really poor people—if society's productivity as a whole keeps increasing drastically, we can always siphon off a portion of it to guarantee everyone, productive or not, a decent standard of living. There are some significant social and psychological effects that would result from having a significant portion of humanity essentially have no useful role to fill, though.

I'm not too sure which situation is more likely.

[ Parent ]

"End of Work" by Jeremy Rifkin /nt (none / 1) (#52)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:28:27 AM EST


--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

dammit (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:30:22 AM EST

If only I was born earlier, I could've expanded that comment into a book and gotten rich on the royalties.

[ Parent ]
New improved cog. (none / 1) (#121)
by pyro9 on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:08:45 PM EST

Of course,many of those cogs got stuck in that role for economic reasons in the first place. Having no money, they were forced to go to work to support their family rather than get an education. 10-20 years of brain rotting zombie labor later, they have given up on improving their lot.

Given a decent standard of living and no job taking time they could spend studying, they might get back to productivity. Probably they would start by celebrating not having to go to work, some vegging on the couch, etc. After a while boredom would likely drive them to more useful pursuits. Their children won't be faced with the problem they were. They will grow up in a world where people do productive and interesting things because they want to.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Overly optimistic (none / 1) (#141)
by godix on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:34:00 AM EST

There are already small scale examples of what this type of society would be like. Look at the people who have never held a job and has lived off government support their entire life. That's the future for many if we ever achieved automation of work and a guarenteed living standard. I'm not saying people on welfare are worthless, there are many on the dole who better themselves, but there are many who don't as well.

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
Skewed example (none / 0) (#226)
by pyro9 on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:21:04 PM EST

Those samples are somewhat skewed for several reasons. For one, they tend to come from low income under-educated parents (so not raised in an environment of achievement). They also tend to be somewhat looked down on. It will be lot different when someone would (without hesitation) go back to their High School reunion and happily say 'I decided to go on the dole so I could do X'.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
It's not as black and white as you think. (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 01:10:38 PM EST

Everything you say (minus the invective) is true. High wages and inflexible working practices do drive up unemployment and cost economic performance.

However, it's silly to conclude that low wages and capricious management will make us all rich. If workers don't feel their wage is fair, then they just slack off to compensate. Hiring and firing on a whim destroys workers' commitment to the business.

France is the poster child of a high wage, high benefit, high workers' rights economy. Of course, their GDP per head is lower than the more flexible UK... erm wait a minute... Their GDP per head is 5% higher than lower wage, higher flexibility UK. France also leads the world in productivity rates.

I think that workers need to be given sufficient wages and benefits. Management needs to have sufficient flexibility. Pragmatic unions can help to achieve this balance. Out of control unions will skew the balance, but so will out of control management.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

GDP per head (none / 0) (#84)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 01:22:54 PM EST

2005 estimates of per capita GDP (PPP) are:
  • France: $29,320
  • UK: $30,900
  • US: $43,555
So it seems that the UK's GDP per head actually is higher than France's, by about 5%, and the US's even more flexible economy is ahead of France's by a whopping 49%.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I meant GDP per head per hour worked. (2.50 / 2) (#91)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 02:46:16 PM EST

(See my reply to MMM above.)

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]
Wrong (1.66 / 3) (#86)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 01:34:59 PM EST

I did not conclude that low wages and capricious management will make us rich. If there are no unions doesn't mean management will make laborers into slaves, ffs. Unions don't have a monopoly on creating workers rights nor are they necessary to protect them.

France doesn't lead in productivity rates, it's pretty much exactly the same as the average of the richest economies. That gave me a good lol, thanks.

So, who decides what are sufficient wages and benefits? Do you? Does the government? Or should the markets decide. Guess which one is most efficient and leads to highest welfare for the society.

Pragmatic unions are just as much an oxymoron as are trustworthy politicians. Unions have a huge moral hazard problem which is best dealt with free competition, ie. disbanding unions.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

Sorry, I was imprecise. (none / 0) (#89)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 02:38:46 PM EST

I meant that France leads the world on productivity per hour worked. If you look at the numbers behind the ONS data you linked, you will see that I'm right. Here's a sample:

GDP per hour worked (UK=100):
Year  France  Germany  Japan   UK   USA    G7  G7 exc. UK
2004     129      112     83  100   114   106         107

The USA only has a larger GDP because USians choose to work more and play less. I'm with the French on this... I only work 3 days per week. I've chosen to work less, rather than have more money.

Pragmatic unions are just as much an oxymoron as are trustworthy politicians.

That's unrealistically cynical. I despise politicians as much as the next man, but they're not all totally evil.

Personally, I see unions as being as natural a part of a capitalist economy as limited companies. Workers should be allowed to join whatever groupings they like, just as investors should be allowed to put their money wherever they like. Remember, most of us are both investors and workers. I want to maximise my freedom all-round.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

monopolies should be prohibited, though (2.00 / 2) (#92)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 02:53:06 PM EST

The main power of unions, and their main non-free aspect, comes from the fact that they monopolize labor by prohibiting non-unionized workers from working the jobs they monopolize.

There's a big difference from allowing workers to freely join whatever groupings they choose versus allowing some of those groupings to exclude members not part of the grouping from the market. When corporations try to do the same thing (leverage market power to exclude competitors), that's generally invalidated under antitrust laws.

[ Parent ]

I absolutely agree. (2.33 / 3) (#93)
by mr strange on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:00:00 PM EST

Enforced unionisation is just as bad as banning unions. I'm totally against the closed-shop.

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]
Not really the highest welfare (none / 0) (#205)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:40:28 PM EST

But possibly the largest amount of wealth (certain assumptions required).

The total welfare also depends strongly on the distribution of wealth, because everything, including money, has diminishing marginal utility. i.e. if you give a bum 100$ he will be very happy indeed, whereas if you give bill gates 100$, he'll probably give it back to you, he doesn't need it (which is why he just gave away 600 million dollars to help the poor, he recognises the money will them more good than it does him).

Now since, share owners tend to be wealthy, and non-union workers in unskilled or semi-skilled work tend to be poor, forming a union can increase overall welfare even if it reduces the total amount of wealth produced, because it results in a more even distribution of wealth. There is a genuine trade off here.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

It aint necessarily So (none / 0) (#95)
by brain in a jar on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:07:34 PM EST

Note for example that the Labour government in the UK has been able to increase the value of the minimum wage without any noticable effect on unemployment (it is still enviably low).

In my opinion a little economics is a very dangerous thing. You take a simplified model that rests on a number of assumptions, which are commonly not satisfied in the real world, and then despite this assume that the model describes the real world and make policy based on it.

There is certainly to some extent a relationship between the cost of labour and the level of employment, but its not the be all and end all. I think that there is an important trade off to be made. Unionisation has the potential to make the distribution of wealth more even, because it is most necessary for unskilled workers. The strongest case for unionisation can be made in service industries, food service, shopworkers etc. These are jobs which cannot be outsourced and where the amount of labour required is more or less a given. Pushing up wages doesn't necessarily have a huge effect on employment levels, more an effect on how the income from the business is distributed between the employees and the shareholders/management.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

amount of labour required is not really a given (none / 0) (#98)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:42:28 PM EST

The more wages get pushed up, the more applications in which automation becomes cost-effective.

[ Parent ]
Sure, to some extent (none / 0) (#149)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:12:48 AM EST

but, I don't expect to see fully automated McDonalds restaurants, or GAP clothing stores anytime soon. Some jobs aren't going to go away in a hurry, so the people that hold them probably can/should do something to push their wages up a bit.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Actually... (3.00 / 2) (#386)
by Shajenko on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 11:48:08 PM EST

McDonalds is looking to create a nearly automated store. You'd order through a terminal, and your food would be prepared by machines.

[ Parent ]
econ classes? (none / 1) (#100)
by The Diary Section on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:02:26 PM EST

I don't know, whats the point of studying a wishy-washy liberal humanity?
Get back to me when I can put two economists in the same room together and their "science" will allow them to both come to the same answer on something. Until that time we'll just file under unproductive psuedo-intellectual leech-class who can't even agree, even though its their only occupation, on whats an elbow and whats an arse.

Strict laws? Thats a joke. Have you ever worked in a factory or a steel works or a mine?
I very much doubt it. You'd soil yourself within minutes much less stay working there.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

Ignoring the ad hominem (none / 0) (#110)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:47:48 PM EST

I have worked several summers at a mill, rotating three shifts, most of the workers there were unionized so I know better than most people how it is in the trenches (not to mention real trenches, but that's another story). Pay was ridiculously high compared to other jobs of the same difficulty/responsibility level.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

Trenches? (none / 0) (#127)
by rwarb on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:29:43 PM EST

How can you possibly know what it's like "in the trenches" by "working summers at the mill"?

Was this "summer job" to support your family?

If not how callow of you.

[ Parent ]
No (none / 1) (#128)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:37:11 PM EST

it was to support my college so I could get my degree from one of the best institutions in the world in my field.

From the trenches means that I know how these people view the world, what their fears are and what they value in life. Not to mention my parents are part of these people.

I will go on to provide a better living for them with the added benefit of being able to empathize with these people.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

Question (none / 0) (#191)
by daani on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:10:08 AM EST

I have worked several summers at a mill, rotating three shifts, most of the workers there were unionized so I know better than most people how it is in the trenches (not to mention real trenches, but that's another story). Pay was ridiculously high compared to other jobs of the same difficulty/responsibility level.

I hope you don't mind me asking if you intend to keep working there? Make a career of it? If not, why not?



[ Parent ]
yeah, those rare (none / 0) (#114)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 05:26:09 PM EST

 "unscrupulous" employers

<ROFFLE><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

I don't understand this argument: (none / 0) (#203)
by Innocent Bystander on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:25:13 PM EST

[From the societal and economic standpoint we would be better off if we hire 1000 workers at $80.000 than 100 at $100.000.]

Well, 1000 workers at $80 is $80,000. 100 workers at $100 is $10,000.

So, you're saying that if we spend $70,000 extra dollars it'll be better for the economy? And that somehow shows that unions are bad?

I'm honestly confused. That argument just looks like a pointless tautology.

(d)

[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 1) (#304)
by Spendocrat on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 03:22:20 AM EST

If wages were the only thing that mattered.

I don't know why so many people who've taken a first-year economics course think that labor market graph is the end-all of labour.

[ Parent ]

No, it's not. (2.20 / 5) (#19)
by cbraga on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:21:27 PM EST

A person with capital may hire anyone he wishes as long as he can pay their wage.

A worker cannot walk into a company and say "I want to work here" expecting to be hired.

So your whole article rests on a flawed argument.

Unions increase the cost of doing business. That's bad because it means there are fewer business opportunities which will be profitable and therefore less jobs globally. That's a well known economic fact that gets printed on the newspapers everytime people are trying to get better payment for doing exactly the same thing.

Unions today are only good for workers who don't expect (or can't be bothered) to improve their skills and therefore don't expect to get promoted to better positions and salaries. So they whine and whine to be paid more while there are plenty of other people willing to work for the current pay.

-1, old and tired communistic rhetoric

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p

You are begging the question. (none / 0) (#185)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 09:12:36 AM EST

Saintport:"Labor existed before capital, capital is a produce of labor"

You: "Anyone with capital can hire someone to do a job, but a person requires someone to work for"

i.e. You assume in your argument that capital already exists, without explaining where said capital came from.

I guess both sides of this argument are silly, but using a logical fallacy is bad whatever the subject.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

no (none / 1) (#190)
by cbraga on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 10:34:58 AM EST

First off, today there's lots of capital everywhere. I don't see how the origin of said capital is relevant to the discussion.

Also, the fact that labour existed before capital does not mean all capital is the product of labour. Kings and noblemen up to the industrial revolution inherited states that were many centuries old and not the product of labour. They were ultimately the product of conquest of other nations or tribes, or even simply inherited from the first chieftain that ruled that land.

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]

You, sir, are incorrect. (none / 1) (#202)
by Innocent Bystander on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:19:01 PM EST

[Kings and noblemen up to the industrial revolution inherited states that were many centuries old and not the product of labour.]

While the land itself was not the product of labour, every single thing that had been done to the land was. The castles, the farms, the villages, all labour. Hell, even the serfs that came with such estates were the product of labour.

[They were ultimately the product of conquest of other nations or tribes]

How is conquest not labour?

There is very little capital that is not the product of labour. Undeveloped real estate is pretty much the only one that isn't. And undeveloped real estate is only rarely purchased for speculation.

(d)

[ Parent ]

A Proof (1.60 / 5) (#20)
by eruonna on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:25:28 PM EST

Socialism is communism without the evil. Therefore, communism/socialism = evil

QED



yes, labor is the source of all capital (1.40 / 5) (#21)
by j1mmy on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 09:31:49 PM EST

but the rest of your article is completely wrong.

Nuh uh (none / 0) (#130)
by BottleRocket on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 10:29:35 PM EST

You're wrong.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

You'd love this crap.... (3.00 / 4) (#23)
by babarum on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 10:21:58 PM EST

Zapatista followers argue there is historic change sweeping the hemisphere, and they offer as proof a string of leftist victories, including that of Evo Morales who was elected the first-ever Indian president of Bolivia last month.

"A wind is blowing to the left across Latin America," said Mario Alvarez, head of the Workers Central trade union federation, which has allied with the Zapatistas. "Mexicans, with our tradition of revolution, will join this wave with a passion."

However, Marcos has attacked all the candidates, including leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is favored in many polls to win the election.

"In the coming days, we are going to hear a mountain of promises and lies that try to raise our hopes that things will improve if we change one government for another," said Marcos, who Mexican authorities have identified as former university lecturer Rafael Sebastian Guillen -- an identity he has never acknowledged.

It is yet to be seen whether the Zapatistas will be able to rally major support outside of their base in Chiapas, with its scattered, rural population.

The majority of Mexico's 107 million people live in big cities in the center and north of the country and many are skeptical about whether the Zapatista rebellion, with Indian peasant farmers as its main supporters, is relevant to their lives.

Unions are like the NAACP (2.50 / 6) (#24)
by godix on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 12:22:43 AM EST

They were a great and much needed thing decades ago when they were started but today they're worse than useless. The problem with people who endorse unions (or the NAACP, or NOW, or any of a dozen other similar groups) is they can't figure out when it's time to claim victory and go away. You want to ban child labor? Great, it's been done. Reasonable work weeks? Another victory for you. Safe work conditions? They're there now. A living wage? I have never met anyone earning minimum wage outside of fast food workers and even fast food workers are frequently higher. It's time to treat unions like a college graduation, we went through something difficult and required to improve life. Lets throw a party and get out into the real world. Unions should be, at best, a 'hey remember when...' part of our life.

Because the cost of keeping them around is extremely high. Others have told you unions hurt by making 100 jobs at $100,000 instead of 1000 jobs at $80,000. That's wrong. Unions hurt, in the long run, by causing NO jobs instead of 1000 jobs at $80,000. Consider US steel manufacturers (what US steel manufactures you ask? Exactly my point). Consider Chrysler employees if the government didn't bail their ass out in the 80's. Consider every single person who's job was outsourced because unions jacked US unskilled labor rates two or three times higher than other nations. Consider France's economy after they pushed through the 35 hour work week. Consider Fords recent downsizing and the future problems to come if Ford continues sprialing to oblivion. Consider the exodus of jobs to Mexico. Overeaching unions have caused the japanese trade gap in the 80's, NAFTA in the 90's, and the Chinese/Indian outsourcing now. Knock it off guys, the union's past victories are quickly becoming pyloric victories.

More CORN!

IAWTP% (none / 1) (#25)
by MMcP on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:51:14 AM EST



[ Parent ]
step off the %, fool % (none / 0) (#102)
by creativedissonance on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:13:47 PM EST




ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
I usually hit shift and any number # (none / 0) (#112)
by MMcP on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 05:05:47 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Pyloric victories (2.83 / 6) (#31)
by Hung Fu on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 06:53:32 AM EST

Do you have evidence of this or is it just a gut feeling?

__
From Israel To Lebanon
[ Parent ]
Pyloric? (none / 1) (#62)
by sydb on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:26:33 AM EST

You surely mean Pyrrhic.
--

Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did - Linus Torvalds
[ Parent ]

My mistake (none / 1) (#63)
by sydb on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:27:18 AM EST

You were being clever!
--

Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did - Linus Torvalds
[ Parent ]

Note to myself: (none / 0) (#138)
by godix on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:05:59 AM EST

Stop using google as a spellchecker. Just because there's hundred of thousands of hits for the word doesn't mean it's what you meant ...

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
Minimum wage? (none / 0) (#65)
by dakini on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:55:58 AM EST

I know many industries that continue to pay minimum wages to their workers. Fast food outlets, bars, taxi drivers and yes, even some health care businesses that are not unionized. Having been on both sides of the labour force, both union and management, I feel unions have their place but I also feel that unions also prevent business from happening or closing down because of the high wages and benefits wanted in negotiations. In this day and age, no job is a promise to retirement.

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
[ Parent ]
Minimum wage (none / 0) (#136)
by godix on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:54:27 AM EST

Fast food outlets

Those jobs are not meant to provide a living wage, they are meant as a part time income or for those just entering the job force who still live off their parents. Some people choose to remain in dead end jobs like this for their entire life but that's THEIR CHOICE. I know a man making $10.95 an hour as a stock boy at Target. After I lost my well paying computer job in the post dot com bust I got a job earning $10 an hour doing call center crap within two weeks of giving up on the computer field. While this doesn't make my friend or I rich it does keep us fed and sheltered and neither of us required any special skills or education to get these jobs.

bars, taxi drivers

Both these professions are like waiters, the real money is in the tips not the paycheck. Having know several waitresses, bartenders, and taxi drivers I know the amount they take home is far in excess of minimum wage.

some health care businesses that are not unionized

The US has a chronic shortage of nurses and CNAs and will continue to do so until health care providers start paying them a wage equal to the knowledge and skill they must have. This isn't 100 years ago, people no longer have to work at the mine for ten cents an hour because there's no other jobs avalable. These days there are alternatives and any hospital that wants an adequate staff of nurses will raise their pay regardless of if there's a union telling them to or not. Otherwise the US will continue to have a fair number people with a CNA or nursing degree who earn a living wage once they decided to start waitressing.

In this day and age, no job is a promise to retirement.

Considering how many unions still push for pensions, health care after retirement, mandatory pay raises based on seniority, and arbitration on all terminations no matter how justified they are I'd say that you just provided yet another reason unions are a bad thing these days.

More CORN!

[ Parent ]
corporations and unions (2.71 / 7) (#28)
by cronian on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:43:41 AM EST

Unions mainly exist for large corporations. So, unions should make things more costly for large corporations, which is good, because it provides more opportunities for entrepeneurs.

This is especially good because a large portion of big corporations are centered around doing unscrupulous and/or illegal stuff, and getting away with it. The corporate structure makes individuals not responsible for illegal corporate acts, and expensive lawyers and lobbyists get corporations special priveledges.

The typical manager CYA mentality combined with the committee structure helps to further deflect direct blame or guilt. When that fails corporations are structured to efficiently find scapegoats.

By empowering workers, especially in contentious union negotiatins, unethical corporate behavior is more likely to surface. This behavior is also more likely to be publicised, whereby it can be more easily countered.

The competitive disadvantage is only extent, because some corporations aren't unionized. This could be eliminated if all companies over a certain size were required to be unionized.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
Labor Unions are against our Lord Jesus Christ.$ (1.87 / 8) (#29)
by V on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 05:35:05 AM EST


---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
So... (none / 0) (#53)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:28:33 AM EST

You claim Christ Jesus as Lord. That is perhaps the biggest news here.  God bless!

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
i believe (2.33 / 3) (#96)
by wampswillion on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:31:32 PM EST

that what it all boils down to is that there really needs to be system of checks and balances for any type of society to thrive.   hence i believe that unions are a good counterpoint to the idea of just allowing the capitalist corporate type mentality to flourish all by itself.   i've noticed all kinds of comments directed at you being a "socialist" for putting forth this article and i believe that they are over-exaggerating and misinterpreting your thoughts on the place of unions.  no, "pure" socialism doesn't seem to work.  but then neither does "pure" capitalism.  
in short, it may be messy, but we need both.

all that aside, where i think you weaken your ability to have the article read with consideration is where you say you prayed to the lord and he answered by putting the words of this article in your lap.  that may be the way you percieve it, however that's very open for debate.   and i think it clouds the issue presented by the article.  so is it the issue you care about? or the promotion of your religion?   what i'im saying is it would have been a good idea to leave your rationalization of why you wanted to post the article out of this and just present it (on it's own merits (with full accrediation to the author) to the site.  

 

that is so true (none / 1) (#113)
by SaintPort on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 05:20:57 PM EST

but I am SaintPort. I am simply being honest about my experience. And expressing that means much more to me than making front page, section or somebody's watch list.

It matters most to me that the Lord answered. Let me say that again, the answer is #1.

The #2 thing is the quality of the answer. I think many people see the beauty of the article. But in my particular case, it is tailor made.

Anyway, thanks for the concern. If the stain of faith offends you, please vote against it. No hard feelings.

<really><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

no offense taken at all (none / 1) (#123)
by wampswillion on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 07:47:52 PM EST

saintport.  i'm just saying that IF your aim was to promote the union debate, that you'd have been wiser to leave your rationale out of it.   but if your aim was to promote your belief in god and show how you feel he answered your prayer, then it was right for you to have it in there.  

at any rate, i haven't decided whether to vote or not.  but actually if i do vote, it will be to vote it up.   i thought the actual argument was well written and worth reading.  

[ Parent ]

Unions are about way more than money (2.33 / 3) (#101)
by guidoreichstadter on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:06:49 PM EST

As SaintPort points out, unions and associations of workers and their families were the leaders and the force behind the campaigns that defined central parts of the meaning of work as we know it. Overtime, job safety, working conditions- the modern workplace would be unrecognizable without the fruits of their efforts.

At its most fundamental, unionization is an expression of the idea that workers are also managers- that the people who work in a business are worthy of their part in the decision making process of how the business works. This is in stark opposition to the most extreme form of capitalist dogma- that total executive power over the firm derives from those who contribute capital- the shareholders- and is exercised solely by their appointed management.

Beyond unionism, we can see the practical exercise of the idea that workers can be more than part time participants in the management process of their firms- together, they can control the direction of the firm itself, and in aggregate, the economy.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.

workers have always been able to control firms (2.50 / 2) (#106)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 04:31:08 PM EST

That's what a co-op, or in earlier terms a guild, consists of: A bunch of workers who band together and form an organization in which they are simultaneously the employees and the management.

Unions are a bit different: It's employees banding together to work for someone else's company, using someone else's equipment and expertise. That's not quite the same as a co-op.

[ Parent ]

"someone else's company" (none / 1) (#214)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:31:56 PM EST

I don't have anything in principle against union activity consistent with the law (and in general I think the law defines the worker's managerial prerogative too narrowly).

I would rather see the law recognize a concept of property that assigns a greater role in the control of firms to its working members across the economy. I don't morally support the idea that total executive control of a firm rests derives exclusively from its shareholders; essentially I don't recognize the moral validity of a contract that reserves those rights, though I don't have much choice except to recognize the extent of its legal validity. I don't support the idea that total executive control of a firm derives from its worker members, either, though a firm built on this model is less likely to err on the side of violating the legitimate concerns of stakeholders who must bear the firm's externalities. In general I subscribe to an (not completely formed) idea of human economic rights that guarantees the subsistence of all human beings.

A hundred years ago maybe I would have been a syndicalist. I'm a proponent of cooperativism mainly on pragmatic grounds- there is much less legal friction and resistance to action, less threat of state repression, there's the possibility of growing the experiment in close equilibrium with the market economy to avoid potentially drastic dislocations, I think it gets better press, certainly it's good to have a working exampole of what you're pointing towards, so you don't get too far off the deep end. There's a lot more freedom and autonomy in setting things up right the first time than struggling with contrary interests within the firm a la unionism, of course, not everybody has that consciousness or opportunity, and I generally support union efforts towards what I see as legitimate goals.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

of course it's someone else's company (none / 1) (#229)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:29:10 PM EST

I don't morally support the idea that total executive control of a firm rests derives exclusively from its shareholders; essentially I don't recognize the moral validity of a contract that reserves those rights, though I don't have much choice except to recognize the extent of its legal validity.

How could this possibly, morally speaking, not be the case? Say that I come up with an idea for a business, and using my own labor, ingenuity, and resources, start it up. It may turn out at some point that I need some task done that I don't have the ability or time to do; say I need someone to design a PHP-based web interface. I hire someone to design and program it, paying them for their services. How in the world could this person morally claim any amount of control over my company? I hired them to write me some PHP code and am paying them for doing so; that's where their involvement starts and ends.

Or what if all PHP programmers in my country were organized into the PHP programmers' union, and demanded onerous conditions for me to employ them? That would be pretty irritating, no? I would probably just learn PHP myself and not hire any of them, or hire people on the informal labor market (find a bright high-school student or something).

[ Parent ]

Participation morally confers control. (none / 1) (#256)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:49:43 PM EST

The extent and nature of participation in the firm constitutes a moral claim on the control of its direction. The framework you described, where it's just you, your brains and plans and an ancillary contractor, leaves you with a much greater claim on the direction of your firm. In my estimation, the situation becomes diffferent in proportion to the degree that your degree of participation in the firm diminishes as a fraction of the totality of the firms operation. When your participation is relegated to that of a mere absentee capital contributor, your moral claim on the direction of the firm is at its lowest, but not necessarily nil. Certainly you are entitled to a return on your invested capital. In the situation of a company of hundreds or thousands of full time employees, the claim of employees to democratic co-determination over the direction of the firm preponderates. Similar arguments hold for external stakeholders- those who suffer a negative externality by the firms operation morally obtain a claim in the determinative process that generates the externality.

Most human beings would respond to these claims with more sympathy than the current minority who hold most of the executive control of the worlds firms, and who structure the businesses they control to ignore and deflect these claims as much as possible.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

see, I don't agree (3.00 / 2) (#257)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 09:01:20 PM EST

If I start a company, and hire people to work for me, I don't think they have any claim on my company. If they dislike working for my company, they are perfectly free to start their own, as I (in this hypothetical situation) did.

I do support high inheritance taxes to keep the playing field relatively level at each generation.

Even if the company grows large, I don't see how this means that the workers have a moral claim. For example, I could be a small publisher, initially doing basically everything myself. As I grow larger, I may pay someone else to take care of some of the tasks that are more well-defined and less central to the main things that differentiate me as a publisher; for example, I could hire some clerks to deal with shipping books. Why would these clerks then have a claim on my publishing business? They ship things, and I pay them to ship things; they don't get to tell me what books I should print just because I'm paying them to ship said books.

[ Parent ]

that's it (none / 1) (#311)
by Viliam Bur on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:00:47 AM EST

Basicly, what is a difference if an employee does some work for me, or if another company does the same work for me?

Scenario A: I need some work done, and I do not want to do it myself. I employ someone to do the work, and I pay them for doing it.

Scenario B: I need some work done, and I do not want to do it myself. I pay some other company to do the work.

What is the difference? Why in scenario A the persons becomes a kind of co-owner of my company, and in scenario B does not? The same work is done, maybe it is done by the same person. So why in one situation the person has more rights than in the other?

The correct answer to unionization would be outsourcing labor. To prevent union overtake of my business, I would start two legally separate companies. Company 1 would do the real business. Company 2 would do nothing else except employing a few people, and then making a contract with company 1 that the employers will do the work and receive money. But legally only company 2 is the employer; so union can only overtake company 2. And when this happens, I simply make another company 3, hire new workers, and make new contract between companies 1 and 3.

[ Parent ]

your lack of understanding (none / 1) (#332)
by guidoreichstadter on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:28:30 PM EST

derives from your different moral concept of property (I think we probably both share similar understandings of the current legal conceptions). From my point of view, owning a publishing company in the sense of US law is a morally significant act that makes you liable to moral claims from all of humanity. In particular, it morally obligates you to democratic forms of relationship with the people you participate with to operate your publishing company. The fact that they are interacting with you gives your employees the moral right to democratic interaction dynamics. Morally, you may decide which books are published only with the consent of your employees. Legal ownership of your publishing company doesn't confer a moral right to countermand the will of the other participants in the company. Morally, you will devolve control of the company to a cooperative model when that becomes the majority consensus of your employees. Of course, the legal situation is different.

The immediate fact of the things you legally own right now and even the knowledge in your mind are embedded in a historical context of moral actions stretching back to the dawn of human consciousness. In my view, the historical process, permeated with immoral action and violence, was not such that the present diposition of property is morally neutral. In principle, I believe that there is no possible historical process that would make any disposition of property moral neutral, in current legal meaning of property and ownership.

In light of this situation, it is morally incumbent on you to dispose of your legal property with equal consideration for the interests of all other people. In practice, this generates an obligation to democratic relational dynamics.

The moral implications exceed the limited domain of intra firm interactions.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

well, I strongly disagree with that (2.00 / 2) (#384)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 08:06:42 PM EST

I think the only moral course of action is free association between free people. If I run a publishing company, I ought to be able to enter into a contract with someone who is willing to mail them out for me for a fee. Now if they wish, they could demand a say in what books I publish, but I am free to reject their demands and find someone else to ship my books who won't make such a demand.

In short, the fact that it is my publishing company does confer a moral right to control everything it does. The fact that you have entered into a free association with me, to perform certain tasks in return for certain compensation, does not in any way give you additional rights beyond those agreed upon. If you want to hold out for additional control, you may ask to have it written into the contract and refuse to agree to one without it, but by the same token I can refuse to agree to your demands.

Basically, I find your thinking so highly immoral as to border on the way I think of fascism: You propose to destroy the freedom of individuals to do as they wish based on freely-entered-upon agreements, and instead wish to impose your personal opinions about the best way people should associate on everyone else, forcing us to associate in your particular manner (communes/co-ops).

[ Parent ]

your thinking is inconsistent (none / 1) (#388)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 12:53:01 PM EST

I agree that the only moral course of action is free association between free people, and that this ought to form a basis for economic and political life. You are claiming something much more than, and indeed, inconsistent with, that principle- you are advocating a form of association predicated on the acceptance of an exclusionary principle of "ownership" and an a priori distribution of control of the world's resources considered as "owned things" or "property" that rather curiously privileges you above the vast majority of humanity. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I advocate free association without being under the delusion of recognizing the world's material resources and human culture as "property". I maintain that the act of claiming a part of the material world as "property" (in the sense that I think you understand it, and in the general senses implied by the various US laws establishing legal property rights of various kinds) is inherently a violation of the universal moral human right to free association, because by asserting exclusive control as part of your "ownership" rights, you are unilaterally claiming to exclude most of the people in existence from making free agreements regarding the disposition of the part of the material world you claim as your "property". On what moral foundation does your claim to "ownership" rest? Did you enter into free bilateral contracts with all the living free people on earth to recognize the claims of control implicit in recognizing your "property"? Even if you did, by what right do you and your bilateral partners claim to exclude future generations from the same freedom to make the same agreement you all have made? A child has just been born! In a few years, are you going to renegotiate your claims to "ownership" with her, too? I have a suspicion that if such an attempt to establish "property" on a moral basis were made, the results would be quite other than the presesnt distribution of control. Likely, many elements of the broad right to exclusive control claimed by toady's "owners" would not survive this democratic process of free association. To preserve the universal right to free association, the moral estabilishment of "property" on this basis would have to be ongoing, continuous, and we are led in the limit to an obligation to democratic relational dynamics at each level of social organization.

For me, the right to free association is foremost a political right, which finds expression in the individual's claim to an equal voice in a consensual, participatorily democratic polity. Agreements as to the disposition of aspects of the material and cultural world are subsumed under this process. There are no valid moral claims to such disposition (such as your heretofore unsubstantiated claims to "ownership") that arise externally and independently of this process.

Do you understand what I'm trying to communicate, Delirium? Before you can presume to enter into "free agreements between free people" in which you claim the right to determine who will work and how in the publishing company you claim to "own", you have to establish why I should recognize the exclusive rights to which you pretend as the "owner". If in fact, you are not the "owner" that you claim to be, why should your extraodrinary claims carry any merit in our free negotiation?

I don't think of you as a fascist. I want you to be free, happy, and secure. However, I cannot help but observe that by claiming "ownership" and invoking recourse to the military power of the state to enforce that claim, many alive have already destroyed the freedom of individuals to do as they wish based on freely entered upon agreement. The consequences of this state of affairs are measured in the millions of lives annually.

For my part, unlike the small minority who currently impose their illegitimate claims of "ownership" on the rest of humanity, interposing it unfairly on otherwise free negotiations, I seek to restore the moral balance by nonviolent means. I don't wish to impose a particular form of organization on the mass of humanity by force, as the capitalists have done, but I do encourage people to assert the moral right which is already theirs by peaceful means above all. Can you imagine the absurdity of marching troops into a publishing house to order the unsuspecting workers to adopt democratic co-determination? If free people freely choose to render direction of their actions and the fruits of their work to you, who am I to stop them? But when free people have recognized their moral right, will you try to march troops into the publishing house to stop them from asserting it?


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

don't think that's a disagreement we can resolve (none / 1) (#389)
by Delirium on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 01:05:08 PM EST

You essentially deny the legitimacy of private property, which is a topic we could go back and forth in entire books about. I agree that an a priori distribution of ownership is not necessarily an equitable one, but that's why I support things like inheritance taxes, not the abolition of the entire concept of ownership. I might even be willing to go so far as to adopt a Georgist view, that land belongs to humanity collectively but the fruits of labor belong to individual humans, but I don't see any reasonable way of abolishing private property entirely.

As for my publishing company, it's run out of my apartment, so I would need no troops to defend it, but you can be sure I would defend it myself if someone I had paid for some service attempted to break in.

[ Parent ]

right (none / 1) (#391)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 02:17:56 PM EST

practically abolishing private property would be impossible. morally, it's not that hard.

I think the biggest justification for private property is its demonstrated utility, I mean, the system has gotten (some of) us this far. Utopian socialist schemes have generally turned out (for whatever reason) as abject failures. But I'm all for making a better world that works for as many people as possible.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

if labour deserves the higher compensation (none / 1) (#120)
by zenofchai on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 06:49:43 PM EST

then why hasn't it been achieved? perhaps because now more than ever, labour is a global commodity. a very large percentage of the work that needs done globally can be done by picking nearly any random person from any random population, without regard to education or training.

we can feed vastly more people than are required to produce the food. your response seems to be to charge more to make the food, artificially, when actually it gets cheaper and cheaper to make it.

the problem with most labour unions is that they are trying to create artificial scarcity in a global abundance of labour. artificial scarcities always break down.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph

Well let's see, capital vs labor (none / 1) (#173)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:22:25 AM EST

Which one is kept artificailly scarce - through thte world bank, and which one is made artificially abundant through relaxed and illegal immigration, and free trade agreements. MAybe this would explain your correct observation.



[ Parent ]
artifices (3.00 / 2) (#178)
by zenofchai on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:37:58 AM EST

you're calling walled borders natural, and free-moving borders artificial?
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]
how is labor made artificially abundant? (none / 1) (#182)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:52:42 AM EST

Free movement of people and good across borders is natural. What is artificial is putting up borders and restrictions.

[ Parent ]
Free movement of people, natural or not ? (none / 1) (#188)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 09:22:44 AM EST

Alot hinges on your definition of natural. Since there have been governments, including tribal clannish governments, movement of people has been restricted, out of self defense, protection of property, etc. People have migrated across borders, but always at the expense of the current residents. People wanting to move to greener pastures is natural, letting them move into your greener pasture is not.

As far as trade goes, free trade is a recent phenomenon. Originally, all taxes were collected on imports, and labor was not taxed. Even ancient governments required a fee be paid (usually to the king) by someone who brought goods into an area - its like giving the godfather a piece of the action. Maybe natural is the wrong world, but until now it has certainly been traditional to restrict trade



[ Parent ]
traditional, yes (3.00 / 2) (#189)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 10:14:09 AM EST

I'll agree with that, but I think it a bit unnatural still. That's sort of the whole premise of the Liberal movement starting in the 18th century: That the world's kings and queens were unjustifiably restricting the freedom of their citizens. Heck, even the U.S.'s independence was sparked in part by a protest against tariffs that restricted the free movement of goods (tea imports, in this case).

[ Parent ]
Some groups benefit (none / 0) (#207)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:50:10 PM EST

From free trade, there's no doubt. Others are seriously hurt by it, for example the textile industry in the U.S. A representative democracy is supposed to sort this out, but given the current centralization of capital, some groups are more represented than others.



[ Parent ]
I don't have any particularly US-centric view (none / 1) (#208)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:56:50 PM EST

Sure, the textile industry moving from the U.S. to China hurts the U.S.—but it helps China. On a global view, it's a net positive, because some wealthy (on a global scale) Americans have become slightly less wealthy, whereas some very poor Chinese have become somewhat less poor.

[ Parent ]
Representation is the key (none / 0) (#218)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:29:51 PM EST

Actually textile workers are lower middle class, and now they've become more poor, and probably work at walmart selling chinese textiles. Some chinese I imagine are less poor because of it. The U.S. government is suposed to represent american interests - so the question is, does opening up the labor market, thus decreasing wages by opening up markets, and increasing immigration help more americans on the whole ? Some argued that there would be a net increase in wages as we gained from the cheap merchandise, but we really haven't seen that - so free trade has been a net loss for us- despite the fact that I can buy a Tee shirt at wallmart for $3 american.



[ Parent ]
well, that's relative (2.50 / 2) (#219)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 04:00:40 PM EST

Textile workers are lower middle class by U.S. standards. By global standards, they're fabulously wealthy. It's amazing to compare what's taken for granted in the U.S. to even other relatively first-world countries; it's equalizing more now, but I was quite surprised at the difference between "necessity" in the U.S. and "necessity" in Greece when I used to visit there frequently as a kid. For example, air-conditioning in a hot climate in the U.S. is something even most poor people have (heck, most trailer homes have a window unit), while until about 10 years ago it was considered a luxury of the rich. (That's only one of very many examples.)

So, on the whole, I'm quite happy if the rest of the world's workers get a little bit richer at the expense of Americans getting a little bit poorer.

[ Parent ]

well, OK (none / 1) (#220)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 04:09:20 PM EST

I don't blame you. But from my perspective, I'd prefer the U.S. not enrich the rest of the world at the expense of certain groups of americans. Too much of the benefit gets sucked up in the rampant corruption in third world countries, so its just not worth it.



[ Parent ]
One could argue (none / 1) (#204)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:27:24 PM EST

That denying kids access to effective sex education, allowing pharmacists to refuse to supply the pill, or insisting that parents be informed about their childrens requests for contraception, or making the morning after pill hard to access and abortion even harder is a way of artificially increasing the stock of labour, by ensuring the serfs reproduce lots, but maybe I'm too cynical.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Free trade? (none / 0) (#234)
by thejeff on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:04:53 PM EST

My understanding of the various free trade deals is that they're all about the removing restrictions on capital, not labor. Or only in the sense that they make it easier for capital to be invested where cheap labor already exists.

 

[ Parent ]

That's the idea (none / 1) (#243)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:59:43 PM EST

Sort of, the problem is that the new capital doesn't open up new markets, it's aimed at exploiting the cheap labor. the theory is that the infrastructure and local markets will come in time, but we haven't really seen that happen yet - too much corruption. All that's happened is that the cheap labor competes with my neighbors, so their wages are lower, the rich bankers get richer, and the third world gains very little infrastructure.



[ Parent ]
many free-trade supporters support both (none / 1) (#246)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:06:28 PM EST

You'll find that many supporters of free trade in goods are also in favor of much looser immigration policies. However, they haven't been able to get them passed, because free-trade deals have traditionally been passed by conservative governments, and a significant portion of conservative voters are xenophobic, so would not go along with free-labor-movement policies.

[ Parent ]
Capital is not scarce (none / 0) (#277)
by Entendre Entendre on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:30:39 AM EST

You can have some if you just agree to pay it back with interest - with more interest than the other people who are competing for the same capital.

People who control lots of capital do NOT want to see that capital sitting idle. When idle, inflation causes capital to lose value over time. Investment enables capital to grow over time.

It's up to you to find a way to do something productive with that capital. "Productive" means something that other people will pay you for, so that you can pay off the investor.

The rules are pretty simple. It takes some imagination to exploit them. There are a million other people also trying to solve the same problem, and there's no profit to be had in doing what a million other people are doing.

Life is hard in the wild too. Sometimes you have to work really hard to find food, sometimes you don't eat, sometimes you get eaten by bigger creatures. In civilization it's only a little bit better - you still have to work hard to get more than sustenance, because you're still competing against a million others like you, looking for the same scarce things (food, customers, etc).

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

but rarely do they risk (none / 0) (#279)
by minerboy on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 06:39:42 AM EST

The capital, you forgot the requirement that when you borrow capital you need to have collateral to pay of the loan if the venture fails. Since capital is fairly centralized and controlled globally by the world bank and IMF, it is made artificially scarce at least compared to labor.



[ Parent ]
that's not how it necessarily works (none / 1) (#281)
by Delirium on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 08:36:48 AM EST

Venture capitalists do risk their capital on new start-ups by making unsecured loans, in return for an ownership stake in the startup.

The IMF and World Bank control a negligible portion of the world's capital; most is in the hands of private investors.

[ Parent ]

artificially scarce? (none / 1) (#301)
by Entendre Entendre on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 01:01:25 AM EST

It's not an artificial scarcity, it's what they must do to stay in business. Show me a bank with artificially high interest and/or collateral requirements and I'll show you a bank that's losing business to a competitor.

It costs money to borrow anything, why should money itself be any different?

And they will take risk - just with correspondingly high interest rates to make it worthwhile. This is why a huge loan secured by a house can be just a few percent, while small loans secured by nothing (e.g. credit cards) are usually closer to 20%.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

ever heard of the Fed ? (none / 0) (#322)
by minerboy on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:45:31 AM EST

The federal reserve, and other organizations set the prime interest rates. Governments also insure that certain loans will be paid. So, loans to exploit foriegn labor are insured while loans to support development of U.S. labor are usually not. Take the recent default by Brazil - will there be less investment in Brazil - yes, loans insure by IMF to allow the exploitation of cheap labr, that will compete with Unionized labor in the U.S. - If all things were equal, capital would more often select the stable workforce, even if it were more expensive. But with Government providing Loan Guarantees for unstable but cheap 3rd world industries, and open markets for goods from these industries - it is a better bet to go with the cheap labor.



[ Parent ]
what does this have to do with neocons? (2.50 / 2) (#155)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:39:43 AM EST

Neoconservatism is an ideology relating to foreign policy.

[ Parent ]
they're incipient fascists (none / 1) (#213)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:59:36 PM EST

Which is an ideology relating to domestic and foreign policy.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
not really (none / 1) (#225)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:19:23 PM EST

Neoconservatives aren't united in what they think the proper role of the state on domestic issues is; they only agree on foreign policy. On domestic economic issues, they range all the way from semi-libertarian to old-style leftist, and on social issues from conservative to liberal.

Now the subset of neoconservatives that are currently in Bush's cabinet are almost exclusively conservative, but that's because he picked the subset that most agrees with him.

[ Parent ]

Exactly (2.66 / 3) (#327)
by guidoreichstadter on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 04:24:15 PM EST

The only neoconservatives that matter are incipient fascists. Lunacy isn't generally dangerous until it's elevated to power.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
only the ones in the Bush administration (none / 1) (#314)
by Delirium on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:52:30 AM EST

The wider world of neoconservatism is still very divided on other issues. By the fact that Bush is a Republican president though, it is true that the neoconservatives in the Bush administration are conservative.

Among the recent prominent left-leaning neoconservatives are R. James Woolsey (CIA director under Clinton), Australia's Michael Danby (prominent Labour Party MP), and until his death in 2003, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (Sentor, D-NY).

[ Parent ]

addendum (none / 0) (#315)
by Delirium on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:54:17 AM EST

In the journalistic sphere, you can add in basically everyone associated with The New Republic, which is neoconservative as a matter of foreign policy, but strongly left-wing on social issues.

[ Parent ]
I suppose you're welcome to your opinion (none / 1) (#382)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 07:59:55 PM EST

I personally consider the American center significantly to the left of the European center. For example, anyone born in the United States automatically gets citizenship, and only a few extremist right-wingers want to revoke that. Meanwhile, Ireland actually did revoke that provision, and most of Europe never had it in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Origins (2.80 / 5) (#126)
by jd on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 08:25:58 PM EST

Unions originated in the coffee shops in England, which King James banned as a result. (This, incidently, is why Americans drink coffee. It was an act of defiance and organized labor. To drink coffee in America is, in a small way, a salute to the original unions.)

The original function of Unions was to provide basic health insurance. Members would contribute money, which would be invested, and when membes fell sick or retired through injury, they would get compensated out of the general fund. Thus, not only does medicare originate with the Unions, so do all of the health insurance companies.

There was certainly corruption within unions. That happens in any organization and only someone determined to find fault would blame the Union concept for the actions of individuals.

Have Unions been harmful in general, though? Well, there are plenty of people who will tell you so. They'll also tell you that there are Reds hiding in your closet, that Communists eat babies, and that McCarthy was merely a little bit misunderstood.

There is no evidence that early Unions (which were responsible for getting children out of cotton mills and into schools, where they were more likely to learn and less likely to have limbs ripped off by machinary) were harmful to the populace or even to business. Educated workers produce more and waste less.

In more modern times, it's more debatable. Arthur Scargill's yar-long miner's strike didn't do the miners much good in the end. Mind you, it didn't do them much harm, as the reason for the strike (mass pit closures in secret) turned out to be genuine. Arguably, the miners lost nothing because it had already been taken. You can't lose what you don't have.

Yes, the strike caused a lot of ill-feeling and a lot of hardship, but that was Maggie Thatcher's doing for the most part. It is hard to blame the Unions for the actions of outsiders. Well, if you're honest, at least.

The failures of industry in recent times have more to do with poor products, crappy QA, lack of imagination, lack of investment and a passion for short-term profits even if that means long-term losses. Those are management decisions. Foolish management decisions. To the extent that the nation suffers as a result of those decisions, I would actually like to see a stronger organized labor take management to task for their incompetence.

For the sake of Godwin's Law, I won't mention which supremecy group many 1940's anti-union American businessmen and politicians sympathised with. I mention it only because people repeat things without considering the source. Many of the modern anti-union prejudices are from that timeframe.

Like I said, there have been corrupt union leaders. No doubt about it. The involvement of some leaders in organized crime is fairly firmly established. The unions did not create the crimes and didn't even make the crimes possible, they were simply a convenient instrument for others to use and they could make a decent profit from it.

That's just prostitution of labor. Which is ironic, as many anti-union folks are pro prostitution, yet use as their strongest rhetoric actions indistinguishable from that which they claim to believe in.

(Ok, Republicans don't claim to believe in it, they just believe it is their God-given right, even whilst slamming others for the same thing.)

Ultimately, American industry will continue in decline until it becomes irreversible and terminal, unless the rights and well-being of ALL (management and workers alike) is accepted and respected by all concerned.

It took a hundred years for England to go from the first unmistakable signs of decay to virtual ruination. It was so gradual that the English today accept the complete loss of virtually all industry and technology as if that were somehow normal.

Unless organized labor becomes a good deal stronger - strong enough to stop and reverse the current slide - that is how America will be in 2040. Well, the bits still above sea level, that is.

As things stand, a lot of pro-business politics (including the anti-Kyoto stuff) is harmful to American business as it encourages inefficiency, decay and a lack of either R&D or progressive thinking. That pro-business thinking is made possible because the Unions have been crippled.

In the end, effects ripple outwards. By harming the unions, businesses harm the workers and thereby the environment and ultimately destroy themselves.

Unions won't fix the world's problems, but they CAN make it possible for SOME of the problems to become solvable by someone. Which is still better than none of them being solvable by anyone.

pure capitalism is evil (2.00 / 6) (#129)
by circletimessquare on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 10:06:33 PM EST

however, capitalism is the only way we know how to create wealth

therefore, capitalism, with social safety nets, is the only way to go: a balance

the problem is when people think you can whine for money and benefits instead of work for them, that you are entitled to them just because, and think that the creation of wealth just takes care of itself. no, these things are priveledges, not rights, and they are earned by work

so you have to be careful when that whining sense of entitlement kind of thinking begins to crowd out capitalist concerns, because the negative effect on wealth creation of that agenda outweighs any concessions that might be gained should entitlement shoulder out capitalism. in other words, some concessions labor wants would only wind up impoverishing labor in the long run. so labor's concerns must always fall secondary to capital's concerns

at the same time, labor's concerns must never be too diminished. capitalism can eat into things that labor rightfully earns and capitalism would be happy to create and ossify a classist aristocratic society of haves and have nots. this is evil

like everything in life, it's a balance, and the enemy of prosperity (for us all) are the fundamentalists: the social darwinistic capitalists, or the pure communists who thinks the only route to justice is to impoverish everyone

life is a meritocracy. if you innovate, you should be rewarded, you enrich all of us. however, you shouldn't get to keep all of the marbles, forever in some classist society just because your grandfather innovated something

balance, in all things is true wisdom, and the most difficult path, crowded on either side by the screaming fundamentalist morons of pure capitalism and pure communism, who are both wrong

i think europe is beginning to learn its lesson, and is trying to make their business environment more friendly to capitalism and less friendly to the sense of entitlement brand of socialism. simpy because they've seen how too much to concessions to labor can ruin their economy. meanwhile, i think the usa is cutting abck on benefits, paltry as they are already, and the ossification into haves and have nots is accelerating


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Haha. (3.00 / 3) (#150)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:25:30 AM EST

the problem is when people think you can whine for money and benefits instead of work for them, that you are entitled to them just because, and think that the creation of wealth just takes care of itself. no, these things are priveledges, not rights, and they are earned by work

Working on a factory floor, just how do you earn a pay raise? It has absolutely zero to do with your work, and the way most factories are tooled up, it's generally impossible to do a better job. Ever hear of an assembly line? You can't do your work faster than anyone else, it just stalls the line. This might not be true for other labor, but they have their other obstacles.

The few things that you can do that would be an improvement (suggest efficiences and optimizations) is traditionally scorned in such a thing. They pay you to work, not think, after all. Most workplaces are designed such that petty office-style politics is the norm.

People that just want to do good work, and get paid well for it don't have alot of options.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

that's 100% true (1.85 / 7) (#162)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:42:33 AM EST

to "just want to do good work, and get paid well for it" is something anyone would want

i want to go to sleep with 2 chicks tonight, but just wishing for something doesn't make it happen

everything in this life is earned

maybe if i work hard at the goal of getting my 2 chicks, maybe some night it will happen

so maybe someone who "just wants good pay" should work harder or learn a skill

what horrible evil words am i saying?

just the simple unavoidable truth of life


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Work harder? (2.00 / 2) (#169)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:41:40 AM EST

What's that mean, exactly? For the worst kind of gruntwork, I suppose it means shovel faster, but there's not alot of that left. And the "learn a skill" thing, that's classic. Just what skill would you have them learn?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
aren't you the one (1.33 / 3) (#206)
by army of phred on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:50:04 PM EST

who broke into his work's server using some sort of javamonkey hacker script?

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Uh. (none / 0) (#318)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:23:32 AM EST

I'm the one that fixed their stupid webapp so that I didn't have to have 50 IE windows open, if that's what you're asking.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
heh "fixed" (none / 0) (#326)
by army of phred on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 01:48:27 PM EST

i still get a kick out of that one

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Fixed, no quotes. (none / 0) (#337)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:55:56 PM EST

Non-destructively, I might add.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
you don't believe (none / 0) (#221)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 04:24:28 PM EST

that people can better themselves through education?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
education isn't a panacea (none / 1) (#230)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:34:20 PM EST

It depends on what you want people to learn. Most people could never, for example, be a top-notch quantum physicist, even given unlimited educational resources.

[ Parent ]
nurses, IT workers (none / 0) (#237)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:31:03 PM EST

that's all i'm talking about in terms of education

why the hell you conflate that idea with turning everyone into albert einstein somehow i don't know

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

the question is how much labor is needed... (none / 1) (#238)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:34:30 PM EST

...at various skill levels, given that many of the lowest-skill jobs that traditionally provided a very large cushion (basically everyone is qualified), may become automated in the future.

I do agree that in the short term this can be gotten around through education, by moving everyone up slightly from "completely unskilled" jobs, which will be done by machines, to "minimally skilled" jobs that are hard to do by machines but which basically anyone can learn to do with some education. But the skill treadmill will continue; I can imagine in the not too distant future the only jobs we'll really need people to do will be quite skilled. Now they won't be Albert Einstein skilled, but as required skill levels keep going up, will everyone have the ability and motivation to keep up?

[ Parent ]

not everyone is destined to achieve (none / 0) (#239)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:44:23 PM EST

not 1,000 years ago, not 1,000 years from today. but a large minority will always adapt and succeed. the more things change, the more they stay the same. you see as variable things which are actually constants


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
that's what I'm undecided about (none / 1) (#240)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:56:09 PM EST

Historically, there's always been some sort of fallback labor that the majority of people could do; in previous eras it was farming; in the industrial era it's been factory worker. Will there be an analog indefinitely, or will robots be able to do basically anything unskilled, leaving nothing to be done by people who don't have the motivation and/or ability to gain skills?

[ Parent ]
Everyone have the motivation. (none / 0) (#244)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:01:21 PM EST

The question is, does our society now have such jobs that they can hope to have, and will it have such jobs in the future.

Answer for now: just maybe.

Answer for the future: we're all supposed to become lawyers and daytraders or something.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

not sure about that (none / 1) (#245)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:04:50 PM EST

I don't think everyone betters themselves to the best of their ability; some people don't have the motivation to do so. For example, the U.S. has a shortage of engineers in general, and engineering as a result pays more than many other majors. Yet there's still a shortage. Is this because every American who is capable of becoming an engineer and has had the opportunity to do so has already done so? I doubt it; many people who are capable of becoming an engineer and have ample opportunity to do so simply choose not to.

[ Parent ]
motivation (none / 1) (#251)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:22:30 PM EST

what do you think of the proposition that the extreme concentration of capital coupled with predominance of command hierarchies for exercising control of that capital create an experience of work that is perhaps a significant factor in demotivating participation in the conventional economy?

Perhaps people want more out of work than salaries, but actually a susbtantively different experience of work as well as greater participation in the controlling the ends of their labor?


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

don't think that's the bulk of it (none / 1) (#252)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:27:31 PM EST

I think regardless of how you organize capital and labor, the majority of people do not want to enter an occupation that requires them to learn how to solve differential equations, even if they are capable of learning to do so.

[ Parent ]
some empirical support (none / 1) (#253)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:29:47 PM EST

One of the occupations in which the worker has the greatest freedom to control his/her agenda is professor; especially once tenured, the professor sets his or her own research agenda and basically does what he or she wants. The easiest way to become professor is to enter a field where professors are in demand, such as the "hard sciences", engineering, or computer science. Yet, few enough people choose this career path that professors in those fields are still in demand.

[ Parent ]
I think that's more a matter of culture (none / 0) (#334)
by guidoreichstadter on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:32:55 PM EST

I would rather be solving differential equations right now, if there wern't more important work to do.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
they ARE getting more (2.00 / 2) (#255)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:48:32 PM EST

before the industrial age, work was mostly mindless grueling backbreaking physical labor

and the punishment for not doing it was simply not eating, and therefore death

now it can be mindnumbingly boring

but we've still come a long way in progress, and we will go further

but that work be exciting for everyone is an impossible expectation right now withh our current outlay of technology

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I think the opposite (none / 1) (#333)
by guidoreichstadter on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:31:44 PM EST

The qualitative value of the experience of work depends more on the human dynamical qualities than on its technological sophistication.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
well if wealth keeps increasing (none / 0) (#248)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:07:43 PM EST

these people will become wards of the state

which is the case in rich countries already


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

that's possible, but has social consequences (none / 1) (#250)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:14:38 PM EST

I think we've already reached the point where the basic needs of society (food, housing, etc.) could be met with only a portion of society working. Having a non-negligible portion of society completely idle and not contributing at all is a bit weird though, even if it's affordable.

[ Parent ]
of course its weird (none / 0) (#254)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:45:09 PM EST

so propose something superior... puth them on chain gangs? no way

what can you do? if someone refuses to work or doesn't have marketable skills, what can you do?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

We can reform welfare! (none / 1) (#317)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:18:28 AM EST

Those people should starve anyway, shouldn't they?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
the usa reformed welfare in the 1990s (none / 0) (#324)
by circletimessquare on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:51:24 AM EST

to great effect. the best and simplest legislative reform of the 1990s was: get off your ass and go back to work or we'll stop paying you for doing nothing


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Even... (none / 0) (#338)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:57:19 PM EST

As they gutted the economy, making sure there'd be nothing left but McJobs to go back to.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
are you talking about the internet? (none / 1) (#354)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 06:43:49 AM EST

and all of those jobs?

jesus fucking christ open your eyes, things change

we aren't maintaining trains and shoeing horses anymore either, but i don't see you weeping about the death of those jobs

we lose manufacturing jobs, big fucking deal, we get better paying jobs in other fields

it's called, get this, "progress"


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

In what fields, though? (2.50 / 2) (#357)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 09:14:37 AM EST

It doesn't require magic powers to see what they'll be 10 or 20 years in advance. Someone from the 80s could have guessed where our jobs might come from, maybe even the 60s.

Except, no one can tell me anything even remotely plausible for 2020.

Ford changed what we used for transportation, and provided a fuckload of jobs. What we see now is more like importing horses from China. There are no jobs to go to next, except paperwork jobs for all these corporations that are outsourcing the actual "work" jobs to India. Don't you think that they'll realize the shareholders will bless the attempt to outsource those also?

Biotech? We're already looking at moving that one outside the US, and even if we didn't it would amount to a few thousand research jobs (since any manufacturing of products is done elsewhere). Are we supposed to be lawyers, insurance salesmen, what? Maybe we'll all be bit actors in Megahollywood. I'd say we'd be retail workers, except there won't be many people left who can afford to shop at the mall.

You say there's always something else, but we don't know that. If we had had 1000 transitions, we can't know that the 1001st isn't the time where there's nothing left. But we don't have 1000, we have a dozen transitions. The hand-waving and powerful oratory of "there will always be something next" rings hollow.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

the sky is falling! the sky is falling! (none / 1) (#358)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 09:59:19 AM EST

any chickenshit argument that depends upon everything going to pot apocalypse style is automatically retarded

you have no faith in innovation at all, do you?

if someone thinks they have a good idea, they start a business, if it really is a good idea, they employ a thousand people

you fret over the death of henry ford's ancient company, but you don't see the 1000 henry fords blooming around you

whatever chicken little

go cover your head and hide under your blanket

the real world apparently is a scary place for a mind as fragile as yours


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Innovation may actually be the problem. (none / 0) (#360)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 10:44:06 AM EST

So having faith in it is what worries me.

When all the real work is done by machines, alot of the work that is done now by humans, the people buying those machines and using them are going to be the ones who have lots of money. As concentration of wealth accelerates even as the population continues to climb, there will be less work for more people scrambling for it.

We'll end up with more than 6 billion people, and research jobs for only a few million of them.

This isn't something that will happen tomorrow, or even in our lifetimes, but to deny that it will happen is absurd.

Work backward for a moment. If that will happen some day in the far off future, what can it tell us about the near future? Well, that there will be less work that can only be performed by human beings. That's not a good thing, especially when you aren't already massively wealthy. Sure, we can postpone the inevitable by having large amounts of people do creative things producing luxuries, but this eventually implodes. You can't eat a painting or drink a movie, and while they can all trade their cash around to each other, eventually they have to trade it to the people who grow food and pump the water. The people who are massively rich. The people who have only a small set limit of how much luxury they might want from the creative middle class.

Can nothing be done? Now I didn't say that at all, did I? I'm not some peak oil nutcase who claims that it's inevitable. Maybe humanity will learn to share the wealth that we're all entitled to, and we'll each have a share in the robotic workforce that feeds us and builds shelter and so forth. Somehow I doubt that though, which is why I worry.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

you're not a peak oil nutcase (none / 1) (#364)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:45:14 AM EST

you're a technophobe nutcase

what, are the machines going to rise up a la skynet/ terminator or the matrix?

please! fucking crackpot

firs toff the population is shrinking in countries like japan, italy, russia, post-industrial age economies, that's what happens. all the growth comes from industrial/ pre-industrial parts of the world. the population is a problem, but it isn't a timebomb, in fact, progress will SAVE us form the timebomb

furthermore, innovation ALWAYS makes more job and keeps EVERYONE employed. the us economy is doing great, unemployment is low. the threat to employment- oil shocks, terrorism, etc., are again problems that INNOVATION will solve

so what is your idea? go like pol pot and kill all the intellectuals and take us all back to agrarian society?

fucking nutjob

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

They don't have to rise up. (none / 1) (#367)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:20:48 PM EST

They just have to make it so that there are no jobs, dude. The robot farmer makes enough food to feed its owners, but no one else. You and I can't farm, because of real estate being bought up and centralized decades ago. We can't pay the owner of the robot, we have no jobs.

Can't build our own either, since industry was centralized, and even all of the available natural resources were bought up and owned by 0.1% of the population decades ago.

I'm not a technophobe, this isn't a technology problem. It's a 1% of the people own 99% of everything problem. Right now, those 1% still need us 99%, because even all their wealth and property can't provide the luxury they still want. That will change.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

oh... my... god... (none / 1) (#368)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:30:13 PM EST

so a future bill gates is going to rise up and kill the poor? ;-P

the us is largely middle class, the rest of the world needs to be put on this model, and in fact, that is what is happening. 1% of us are farmers right now, because you don't need more than 1% to be farmers to feed us. if in the future, only 1% of us are manufacturers too, well then so be it, yet more progress, more leisure time for the rest of us.

i mean, according to your logic , the fact that 1% of us are farmers now means the farmers will stop growing us food and kill us all?

(snicker)

you have a pretty feeble, fear-addled mind, you know that?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

That would be fine... (none / 0) (#369)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:33:35 PM EST

If they reduced the work week accordingly, and paid everyone the same.

But what happens is that companies eat the extra efficiency as profit, and that wealth is increasingly owned by fewer people. We will soon be at the 1% manufacturing mark, I suspect we're close already. When the same is true of all the office jobs, all the administerial jobs and so forth, I doubt they'll continue to pay us and tell us "just come in to work 1 day a month".

Or do you think it will be different?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

yeah but (none / 0) (#370)
by army of phred on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:30:41 PM EST

aren't you the guy who wrote 16000 lines of javascript to break into your works financial records?

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
if we are moving towards aristocracy (none / 0) (#374)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:47:59 PM EST

that would be bad

but you're forgetting that whole huge middle class thing


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Just curious, when does the more leisure time (none / 1) (#380)
by Comrade Wonderful on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 06:43:17 PM EST

begin?

[ Parent ]
Ah, so back to destiny. (none / 0) (#242)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:59:39 PM EST

Those damn poor people, they ain't got what it takes. God says so. Obviously, He hath blessed those who are rich, else they wouldn't be rich. Those CEOs, they are truly righteous.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
i was talking meritocracy and statistics (none / 1) (#247)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:06:44 PM EST

in fact, in a perfect meritocracy, where the children of the rich and the children of the poor are on equal footing, my words apply exactly


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Yay, we can all be nurses! (none / 0) (#241)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:58:13 PM EST

Since the IT workers thing must have been a joke!

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
huh? nurses make good $ nt (none / 0) (#249)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:08:35 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
education... (none / 0) (#235)
by bradasch on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:13:36 PM EST

is necessary but not enough to get a better life. Specially in 3rd world countries.

[ Parent ]
of course it's not enough (none / 1) (#236)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:29:43 PM EST

but it's a required ingredient

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
work smarter (none / 1) (#275)
by Entendre Entendre on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:10:07 AM EST

work for someone else

mow lawns, tend yards, get more clients, hire people to help you mow lawns and tend yards

wash windows

Whatever... Successful entrepreneurs are not people who landed good jobs, they are people who figured out how to get other people (customers) to pay them in exchange for something.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

So. (2.50 / 2) (#306)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 03:41:03 AM EST

It becomes another people problem. The better of a used car salesman you are, the better of a schmoozer you are, the more able to feed yourself. An odd way to try to run a world, and one that rewards personality over being able to do something efficiently.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
That is an unfortunate side effect. (none / 1) (#307)
by Entendre Entendre on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 04:39:23 AM EST

But for the most part it actually works pretty well, as more efficient producers attract more customers due to their lower prices.

Have you got any proposals that suck less than letting people choose for themselves what they want to buy and what they want to offer?

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

As someone that has nothing to offer... (none / 1) (#308)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 04:58:11 AM EST

I'm just a bit worried about starving someday. Didn't mean to imply that I've figured out how to fix the world if people would only listen...

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
nothing to offer? (none / 0) (#312)
by Viliam Bur on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:11:59 AM EST

Are you completely unable to work? Because you always have at least your own time, work, and skills to offer. There is IMHO always a lot of work around to do; some of the work requires a bit of learning, but is still possible for an amateur. The problem is finding someone who will pay for it; but though this is difficult, it is possible; it only requires speaking with a lot of people until you find the right ones.

Some people really have nothing, or close to nothing, to offer. The seriously ill people, children, some old people. I believe that society should help those people. (The "society" does not necessarily mean the state.) However those able to contribute, should contribute. Because if everyone would say "oh, I guess I have nothing to offer, please support me"... then, we would all starve.

[ Parent ]

But, as the thread points out... (none / 0) (#313)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:18:55 AM EST

My own labor doesn't amount to crap, since labor isn't the important aspect here. No, I do not have much in the way of entrepreneurial skills.

Maybe if there were some wilderness to colonize, I could run off in a covered wagon, and work on some sort of subsistence living.

Sure, there are skills that can be learned, but as soon as everyone knows what they are, they're worthless. Let's play the retraining lottery, you too can be a winner!

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Funny (1.50 / 2) (#165)
by PrinceSausage on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:30:24 AM EST

balance, in all things is true wisdom

Except when it comes to muslims. THEY SHOULD BE BOMBED INTO THE GROUND BECAUSE THEY ARE SWARTHY AND TERRORISTS!

But feel free to quote Walt Whitman right back at me.

[ Parent ]

that would be a valid comment (none / 0) (#215)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:10:55 PM EST

had i ever said anything like that

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Even funnier (none / 0) (#222)
by PrinceSausage on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 05:00:22 PM EST

welcome to our reality: the middle east has to be held accountable and responsible for the madmen their societies breed who bomb the west

Oh, that was just part of your rant. But if memory serves you seemed to think that the actions of individuals merit a military response against nation states that have not been conclusively shown to be associated with the actions in question. (No bombs falling over Riyadh as of yet, isn't that amazing)

What you are advocating is genocide. There is no difference between arguing collective guilt on the part of middle easterners or the arguing of collective guilt from the terrorists. All israelis are military. Civilians are a legitimate target. Any country who we dislike are now a legitimate target. Amazing. So. Where was I wrong?

[ Parent ]

genocide? let's talk genocide (1.00 / 3) (#223)
by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 05:17:12 PM EST

when hutus and tutsis were slaughtering each other by the hundreds of thousands in 1994, no one did anything about it

that fucking pissed me off

that's genocide, and genocide that the UN and rich nations were complicit in because they knew what was going on and they decided to hold debating contests instead of acting to prevent massacres

but had they actually done something, we know what people like you would say: "neocolonialism! imperialism!"

when the REAL impetus would be to stop exactly what you speak of: genocide

if i had anything to say, US and UN troops would be all over rwanda in 1994. that's who i am. that's what i stand for

a human conscience requires action in the world

where is your human conscience?

those who do nothing to fight evil men are complicit with evil men in this world

so please, smear me and what i stand for with whatever brush you like

i am completely unimpressed, because you obviously haven't the slightest idea of who i really am and what i really stand for


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

And there we go again (none / 1) (#273)
by PrinceSausage on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 04:25:34 AM EST

Lunatic rant completely off-topic.

Well done, you completely proved my point.

[ Parent ]

i proved my point (none / 0) (#294)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 04:32:00 PM EST

that you have to invade basket case countries in the name of helping it's people


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
what the? (2.00 / 2) (#287)
by bobzibub on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 11:26:02 AM EST

Jesus we agree on something! I think you'll find that the Clinton administration put the kabosh on a Rwanda intervention in the UN b/c they were still smarting over some unlucky bastard being dragged through Mogadishu.. Now to Darfur....Can we get some movement please????????

[ Parent ]
The inaction of the US Gov (1.33 / 3) (#309)
by brain in a jar on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:27:33 AM EST

in cases like Dafur and Rwanda, where there is plenty of human suffering, but no oil, is one of the main reasons that people like myself are very skeptical of any claims by the US gov. that the iraq war was about bringing peace and democracy to the middle east.

If the US historically cared about peace and democracy, it wouldn't have supported so many crappy brutal dictators in South America (and Saddam Himself).

As far as I can see the only recent cases where the US did something for moral reasons as much as practical was the kosovo intervention and possibly the (rather unsuccessful) intervention documented in "blackhawk down"(somalia I believe).

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

if it was all about oil (1.00 / 3) (#319)
by circletimessquare on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:32:13 AM EST

how come the us didn't invade until after 9/11?

if african radicals bombed los angeles, you'd be certain that the usa would be interested in military intervention in african trouble spots, right? as it is, it was arabic militants who created 9/11. so the usa wants some accountability for who and what conditions create those madmen. if no one in the middle east will clean up their mess, then the usa will clean up the mess that is the middle east. they have to. their security depends upon it now

if you wanted to be cynical about it, you could say that if you want someone's attention on an issue, bomb them. and your cynicism would be 100% correct, you would get their attention. what you wouldn't get is the service of your agenda though. al qaeda actually believes they can bomb the usa and make them submit to their agenda. which is insane, until we find voices in the west like yours: you speak cold war incriminations

the usa did plenty of evil things during the cold war. so did the soviet union. in the cold war, it made sense to support despotic regimes, rather than have them become communist puppets of moscow. that logic, of course, doesn't apply anymore. and since the cold war is over, neither do any of your incriminations

actually, if you cared about despotic regimes, you would be angry at beijing. china has ringed itself in basket case countries: myanmar, north korea, nepal is now suffering under a heavy maoist insurgency. china knows that were these countries stable, there would be more pressure on them. better to let their yapping insane lap dogs like north korea occupy the west's attentions.

the usa, meanwhile, yawns as strongly leftist governments take hold in south america. no one cares anymore. because the spectre of communism isn't a threat anymore. would hugo chavez/ evo morales rise to power during the cold war, you can bet it would be all the usa would be thinking about, and they WOULD consider invading. just as chavez keeps screaming to his people that the usa is about to invade any moment now. it's great rhetorical effect: people in venezuela actually believe the usa might invade venezuela, because they think like you: still stuck in cold war thinking. it's classic fear-based powermongering, god bless his manipulative heart, and it works. chavez is shopping around for military hardware now too. whatever! the real truth is simply hilarious in comparison to chavez's rhetoric: THE USA DOESN'T CARE ABOUT VENEZUELA GOING LEFTIST. THE USA DOESN'T CARE ABOUT VENEZUELA, PERIOD. THE COLD WAR IS OVER. NO MORE DOMINO THEORY. LET SOUTH AMERICA DO ANYTHING IT WANTS

because the current fight isn't about cold war crimes. it's about islamic fundamentalists. why do you think making amends and atonements for the cold war era will have any effect on the problems we face today?

you can't say to the usa "if you hadn't done xyz during the cold war, you wouldn't have the problems you have today." that's total bullshit. people like osama bin laden are not the ghost of che guevara and trotsky. osama bin laden has an agenda. his agenda is sharia law across the middle east. the usa is in his way. cold war crimes HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM. and addressing cold war crimes- valid or not, has no effect whatsoever on osama bin laden

you fail to see how accountability and responsibility work. if you believe osama bin laden is the creation of the usa, this only reveals you to be ethnocentric: to look at the man and his motivations and see nothing but a reflection of the west? are you that ethnocentric? how can you look at a religious fundamentalist from a completely nonwestern part of the world and see the actions of the west in him? is osama bin laden a man? or a james bond movie villain? he's a real man, a creation of nonwestern religious bigotry, not the west!

this logic does not work: "we gave osama bin laden a stinger missile in 1982 to fight the soviets in afghanistan, therefore, we should have seen 9/11 coming"

do you honestly believe that? i know you don't but seem people actually believe that incredibly creative assertion! but then how come you think cold war crimes has anything to do with anything? why bring them up? what can be achieved in terms of solving the problems in the world today?

but now i'm going to get really wacky and turn 180 degrees right now. i'm going to agree with everything you asserted about the cold war and incriminations and accountability, to make a point... say you were 100% correct in your thinking: that all of the problems with islamic radicals is because of cold war crimes, cold war crimes like propping up saddam hussein. and 9/11 is just deserts for usa cold war crimes. let's go with that thinking for a second, that the usa is 100% responsible for saddam hussein: complete bullshit, but let's go with you for a second...

THEN WHY AREN'T YOU JUMPING UP AND DOWN AND APPLAUDING WHEN THE USA GOT RID OF HIM???!!! ;-P

which is it? is saddam hussein the usa's creation or not? i don't believe he is, but you are telling me he is, that all roads lead to washington. ok, so he's a mass murdering thug, and the usa is claiming responsibility, as YOU assert he is the usa's responsibility, and now they are making amends and getting rid of him!

which is it? you can't have both:

  1. saddam hussein is not the usa's fault. getting rid of him is all about oil... or a universal conscience, take your pick
  2. saddam hussein is 100% the usa's fault. getting rid of him is about accountability and responsbility for usa cold war crimes
and you can't have this at all:

saddam is the fault of the usa... and in response to accepting that charge, the usa should do... nothing?!

how does that work! do you actually understand how responsbility and accountability work?

if i break the cookie jar in the kitchen, and you come in and shame me for making a mess, what next?

in the real world, you'd have me clean up my mess. in some sort of wacky world that doesn't exist, you shame me for breaking the cookie jar, and say the cookie jar should just be left on the kitchen floor, broken in pieces, and i should go back to my room and lock the door!

IS THAT WHAT YOU EXPECT OF THE USA AND SADDAM???!!!

people who claim saddam hussein is the fault of the usa- which is complete bullshit, also claim the usa should do nothing about saddam hussein!

how the HELL does that thinking work?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

It works like this (none / 0) (#351)
by brain in a jar on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:47:27 AM EST

Is saddam America's fault.

No.

Is china bad for supporting evil dictatorships.

China more or less, is an evil dictatorship, its people may have economic freedom, but no political freedom.

How can I say saddam was bad, but not applaud the US for getting rid of him?

Because Iraq isn't looking any better really, its moving toward Iranian style theocracy and frankly because I dislike being lied to.

WMD: Lies

Supporting Democracy: Only if the country has oil.

Finally do you think the Iraqis care whether its the US killing them and in some cases imprisoning them without charge and possibly torturing them or if Saddam is doing it. I think if you are being shot and imprisoned without cause, the person doing it isn't really the point.

I know I won't change your mind but invading Iraq was a dumb misstep and I have no idea why you are ranting on about Osama, he has nothing whatsoever to do with Iraq, nothing.

Except of course for providing a pretext for an invasion the neocons had a hardon for.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

what bin laden has to do with iraq (none / 1) (#359)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 10:35:49 AM EST

bin laden is not the product of saudi arabia, or lebanon, or syria, or egypt. bin laden is the product of the middle east. that which created 9/11 is religious bigotry endemic to the region. religious bigotry that is fed because the governments there suck. therefore, the solution to 9/11 is not one country, or one man, or one organization. the solution to 9/11 is to clean up the entire middle east, the whole goddamn theohistoric, socioeconomic, geopolotical mess. IRAQ IS JUST THE FIRST, OBVIOUS, STEP

iran, syria, saudi arabia fall to democracy next. whether peacefully, via example of iraq, or by the sword should another 9/11 style event befall the usa at the hands of arabs. what is this is strange theory of mine? IT'S CALLED ACCOUNTABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY! USA to middle east: "if you won't clean up your mess, we will, because we are suffering for it" how are we suffering for it? 9/11! THAT is what bin laden has to do with iraq. underfuckingstand now?

we should have offed saddam in 1991. I WAS PISSED OFF WHEN WE TURNED AROUND BEFORE ENTERING BAGHDAD BACK THEN! we didn't then because it would have cost too much in american body bags. it took ten years, and 9/11, for american leaders to finally figure it out: suffering anywhere is suffering everywhere. despotism breeds human suffering, and exports it. that's what 9/11 is, a product of suffering in the middle east. so after 9/11, the politicians, the american people, everyone knew it: it is going to cost americans body bags to clean up the middle east. the only quesiton is whether you want those american body bags to be in downtown manhattan, or kandahar and fallujah. that's your only choice. get it now?

why is iraq the first, obvious step in cleaning up the entire middle east? because he's the teetering domino. saddam had no legitimacy whatsoever. none of his people believed in him, none of his neighbors (because all he did was invade them) and no international country supported him. the question is very simple then: who is going to replace him? would you leave that job to al qaeda? they wanted to off him too. and if they did that, instead of the usa, then that gives al qaeda legitimacy. is that a good thing? figure it out: far better it be the usa who removes him instead.

as far as wmd? you are right: total lie. but that bush and company are morons does not change the fact that saddam should be removed. the people who removed, the bush administration, are complete morons, but it was good he was removed, no matter WHO removed him, get it?

as far as oil? now it's your turn to swallow a total lie. ever since march 2003, oil prices have skyrocketed. what did we fight the war for again?! bush, HIMSELF, just announced yesterday in his state of the union address that the usa needs to use less foreign oil! so the big conspiracy theory: "the usa just wants more oil" is proven to be what it is: typical lowest common denominator low intelligence cynicism. useless. retarded cynicism is not intelligence. motivations are complicated things, you don't figure out people's motivations by pointing to the stupidest, most cynical possibility and call it the reason for the entire thing. unless, of course, you are low iq and cynical yourself. and such people don't even matter to the world because such people are only good for whining on the internet anyway! we should spend our time convincing people to act in this world who are actually capable of action. people who can't be convinced of anything, because they don't believe in anything, are useless anyways, so fuck them. forget about them. let them whine loudly and moan their conspiracy theories, what are they going to do? by their own promises, they are going to do nothing. SUCH PEOPLE SIMPLY DON'T MATTER TO ANYONE, OR ANYTHING. including iraqis! ;-P

as far as iraq becoming a hell hole? wow! i didn't know you could see the future! if you can see the future, hats off to you ;-P but if you want to talk reality: WHATEVER iraq winds up being, even though all roads point to something like egypt: a quasi-democratic volatile state, THAT IS AN IMPROVEMENT OVER SADDAM!

is there anything else i can help you with today?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

An Odd Situation (none / 1) (#289)
by virg on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 12:02:59 PM EST

This is a very odd situation that I find myself defending cts, but I must, since you're hyperextending what he said to what you want it to mean. While I disagree with his result, it's only fair that you address what he thinks and not your own interpretation.

In all of my readings , cts does not equate "accountable and responsible" with "collective guilt", which is the mistake you made in reading him/her/it/them. By my understanding, the message is, "you have a responsibility to deal with your own extremists, and if you refuse or fail we'll come do it for you, and if you don't like our methods then do it yourselves", not "we'll deal with you and your extremists the same way".

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Which sounds nice in theory (none / 0) (#291)
by PrinceSausage on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:35:11 PM EST

The follow up on that is usually "well, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs". And the next one is "Oh but the military is not a police force". And then we end up with "Oh shit, they really didn't like us coming over".

If you think the solution to the terrorist problem is to invade more countries then you have your head up your ass.

[ Parent ]

your thinking is the fallacy of the slippery slope (none / 1) (#295)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 04:36:20 PM EST

social conservatives say "you can't let gays marry because then you will have to legalize bestiality and pedophilia"

uh, no, absolutely not, homosexuality!bestiality!=pedophilia

i know that, you know that, social conservatives don't know that because they are letting their fear overwhelm their reason

now, you are doing exactly the same

"well, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs"!"Oh but the military is not a police force"!="Oh shit, they really didn't like us coming over"

you think they are the same, because just like social conservative thinking on homosexuality, you are letting your fear cloud your reason


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Down the Road to Madness (none / 0) (#371)
by virg on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:34:39 PM EST

> If you think the solution to the terrorist problem is to invade more countries then you have your head up your ass.

If you think that the only reaction to a country not dealing with its own extremists is invasion of said country, then you shouldn't be telling me where my head is.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
IAWTS (2.75 / 4) (#131)
by BottleRocket on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 11:35:24 PM EST

Many people here have left comments pointing out that unions hurt the economy by forcing salaries higher and refusing to come down in times of recession.

During bargaining, the union position often appears outrageous, and their organizers seemingly adament. As an example, in the recent transit strike in New York City, the organizers wanted 8% pay increases for each of the contract's three years, and refused to push up the retirement age, even for new hires.

What people always forget, and the media never points out, is that when an union organizer goes to the bargaining table, he should ask for three times as much as he thinks he's going to get. That way, if he only gets half of what he asked for, he's made out well. He may never explain this to reporters, no matter how much mud they sling. To do so would weaken his position. He must always ask for a raise, because otherwise his salary will not keep up with inflation. And he can't sell out new members, because that's bad for solidarity.

Let's get back to the original argument that unions "sticky salary" requirements and pay demands are bad for the economy. What about the pay demands of the CEO? Between 1995 and 2003, the average CEO's salary more than doubled. This even includes the pay cuts they took after the accounting scandals wrecked the economy, and doesn't include stock options. Source: Oxford Review of Economic Policy [pdf].

It's hard to argue that unions are bad for the economy when the economy is hot, but now that the bull is starting to look bearish, unions make a convenient whipping boy. If a company is doing well enough to offer such generous compensations to its executives, surely its labor force is entitled to a share of the spoils? Maybe I'm being naive. But it seems to me that it is a little unreasonable that an executive should be making 475 times the salary of the workers on his factory floor.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
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$B R Σ III$

on the protected status of unions (2.75 / 4) (#134)
by khallow on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:21:17 AM EST

Let us not forget that labor unions are heavily protected by labor laws in the US and elsewhere. They are protected rent-seekers. Ie, they use government power rather than market forces to syphon resources from business.

Further, I think it's reprehensible to permit unions in government work. Not only do the public labor unions enjoy legal protection, they also exercise significant influence over who gets elected. Ie, they help elect people who will knuckle under to labor demands.

At its heart, a labor union is just a protection racket much like government, insurance, and some forms of organized crime. I don't see anything inherently wrong with this as long as it is capitalist in nature. But when government power is used to supplement that of the labor union, you are going to get bad results.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Barely able to compete (none / 1) (#140)
by BottleRocket on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:27:45 AM EST

Lots of special interests work in Washington. Labor is among them, sure. But I'm going to suggest, without proof, that the interests of the executives are much better represented.

As for having unions doing government work, I agree, it's probably not necessary. But workers in government are pretty well cared for. They get excellent benefits, they have pretty much guaranteed salary increases, that are incremental and work on a well-established pay scale.

That's not to say that government isn't hugely bloated anyway, but the departments themselves are responsible for that bloat- not unions.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
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$ . . . . .
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Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
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. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

Could 475 of those workers (3.00 / 3) (#137)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:58:27 AM EST

collectively act as well as the executive? I rather doubt it.


"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]
That argument is horseshit (none / 0) (#139)
by BottleRocket on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:21:12 AM EST

Could 475 of those workers collectively act as well as the executive?

Are you high? What does "act as well as" even mean?

Could 475 migrant laborers design a prototype cryogenic refrigeration system? I rather doubt that too. What's your point?

I wouldn't suggest that some hungover factory stamp operator is entitled to as much as his manager. But for the CEO to make 475x his salary is obscene.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
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. ₩ . . . . . ¥ . . . . . € . . . . . § . . . . . £
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
$B R Σ III$

[ Parent ]

if he provides 475x as much value, it isn't (n/t) (none / 1) (#154)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:38:48 AM EST



[ Parent ]
I'm on the tail end of a comedown :-P (none / 0) (#167)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:38:36 AM EST

seriously though, 'act as well as' simply means performing the same job with the same efficiency. 475 migrant labourers probably couldn't design a pantry. If they could, they'd do that instead of low paid unskilled manual labour, and get more money. My point is that if no-one wants to be a CEO until they're paid 450x a minimum wage, then provided the need is sufficient they'll get the money. If there was a pool of people with the skills to manage but content with less cash then they'd drive salaries down. Do you think that CEOs should settle for less? Would you?


"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]
Exective compensation... (2.33 / 3) (#183)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:57:32 AM EST

how executive compensation actually works.

There is not some competetive market for good CEO's with companies competing to get the best ones and having to pay top dollar in order to do so.

The way it works is that the pay for company directors is decided by, wait for it, company directors. Essentially CEOs tend to run off with as much of the shareholder's money as they can get away with, in cosy, you vote for my raise and I'll vote for yours, type arrangements with the rest of the board.

The shareholders are often very unhappy with the amount the CEO and the board gets paid but the rules are often set such that it is extremely difficult for the shareholders to get rid of kleptocrat managers e.g. they cannot vote to sack single board members, only the whole board, and/or that the candidates in elections for empty positions on the board are chosen by the board (you can elect anyone you want so long as he's a good friend of mine).

Basically the whole thing is a giant circlejerk, with interlocking boards of directors in related companies all helping to ensure that they all get their fat paychecks and options even if they have made awful decisions and the company is tanking. The worst cases being Golden Parachute clauses, whereby the company has to buy out the executive's contract at huge cost (tens to hundreds of million dollars) if they want to sack them before the end of their contract is due.

The whole line about CEO pay being the going rate, or decided by market forces is laughable and belief in it is usually the result of excessive exposure to the Wall Street Journal.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

In cases where this is truly the case, (none / 0) (#194)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:23:32 AM EST

the shareholders are engaged in speculation, not sound investment. They're willing to pay for fluff in the weak expectation of big future rewards, in other words.

Obviously it sucks to be holding an index fund when almost every large company is enjoying the results of, for example the internet bubble, but there is always the option of putting or taking your money elsewhere.

So what do you think... are the worst days of the bear market still ahead?


"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]

The problem is (none / 1) (#200)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:16:02 PM EST

that these kinds of issues are so common that it is hard for the sharholders to know where to take their money. It is essentially a culture within the corporations, some are better, some worse, but it is distressingly common.

As to the markets, I'm more a newshound than an investor but for what its worth here are a few thoughts. Things are looking good in Japan, the fundamentals of their economy are good, they have lots of cash assets kicking around and once they regain faith in the market is should grow strongly.

The US situation is worrying, the government and the people are indebted. Everyone is mortgaged to the hilt and the property market is fluffy. If the dollar starts to fall for whatever reason (balance of payments, national debt, reduced dollar purchase by china, increased oil trade in euros (especially by iran) then the fed will have to push up interest rates, americas indebted consumers will feel the pain and stop spending and things will look ugly. Also the new fed chairman may find it necessary to establish his credentials as an inflation hawk by pushing up rates a bit, this could cause a slowdown. So the US market looks risky, it does however have some things going for it, the fact that it sucks to be a worker in many places in the states, allows share owners to capture a greater proportion of the wealth created, not only that but the drive to work more hours, to buy more stuff, to assert ones social status in particularly strong in the US which does help to keep the US economy humming along.

Well I'm rambling now, but I would make sure that I didn't have all my money in US stocks and dollar denominated bonds, I would hedge by getting some Euro denominated bonds (I don't thing the dollar will be getting stronger against the euro in the medium term) and maybe japanese equities would be a good place to be.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

The anus of a sea slug... (2.00 / 3) (#146)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:01:34 AM EST

Could do a better job than most CEOs. Factory workers make things, things that people and other companies buy. That's actual productive work. 475 times as much pay implies some superhuman ability to make correct decisions, when history shows their decisions are at best mediocre.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
What is your basis for comparison? $ (none / 0) (#168)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:39:01 AM EST




"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]
A ses slug anus... (none / 1) (#170)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:43:18 AM EST

Is less disgusting.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
lol (none / 0) (#171)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:51:59 AM EST

no dude, I meant to ask how you know historic business decisions were mediocre on average... if that isn't a tautological statement. I guess that even if you're right there's solid evidence that the aggregate effect is good: check the last 100 years of the S&P 500 - selection in action. If you have the possibility of hiring an excellent manager for £X000 but no chance whatsoever for £(X-30)000, you have to take the gambit, and that's how less than brilliant people can come to the top.


"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]
Um. (none / 0) (#177)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:48:32 AM EST

The number of business failures, even high up the chain. Ever take notice of those? There seem to be a few companies that buck the trend and are exceptional, but I can name them counting on one hand. The rest are mediocre, or on the other side of the curve. And yet, from one side of the curve to the other, the CEO salaries are all in the hundreds of thousands to millions a year range.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
However, the American stock market (none / 1) (#192)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:17:17 AM EST

has collectively risen by an average of... 6% per annum over the last 100 years. Companies can rise and fall, but the capital tends to move with the profitability, over the long term. As to why all CEOs get huge salaries (that isn't strictly true by the way - some hold or receive stock instead, so get the same return as any investor) it's because that is what the market price for a CEO is. If you don't pay that, you are guaranteed someone who doesn't even know what he or she is worth.


"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]
Well, no, not really (2.50 / 2) (#268)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:31:16 AM EST

It turns out that the most reliable predictor of "is a good CEO" is "has been a good CEO before." The problem is, once you have that on your resume, you can always find SOMEONE who will pay more to have you if you try hard enough. Combine this with the natural need that absentee investors have to believe in the leadership of the company, and these guys are as much a comfort blanket as anything else. Sure, you might think they're overpaid, but if the alternative is the company's market cap shrinking drastically and them having to lay off tens of thousands of people, do you still think so?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I've never understood the market cap thing. (none / 0) (#363)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:01:14 AM EST

Sure, I know it is the number of outstanding shares times the market rate for them. But once those shares are sold, and being resold, how the hell does that help/hurt the company? That money goes to the person selling the shares, which is no longer the company.

Is it that companies with a high market cap can borrow money at better rates? I don't really get it.

Also, if they really are security blankets, then there is way too much voodoo in the stock market to believe that it is in any way, a good thing.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

market cap doesn't directly impact lending rates (2.50 / 2) (#383)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 08:01:53 PM EST

It's more of an indirect effect: Larger companies tend to be more stable and less likely to fail in the immediate future. There are exceptions, of course: GM is huge, but seen as risky and therefore gets charged high interest rates. In general, though, a small mom-and-pop startup is much more likely to fail in the next [n] years than a company like Boeing is.

[ Parent ]
Could 1/475th of the CEO (2.00 / 2) (#184)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 09:00:54 AM EST

do any job at all?

If my argument is nonsense, so is yours.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Money has a remarkably solid aspect to it (none / 0) (#195)
by topynate on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:27:01 AM EST

in that it provides a means of valuing disparate objects on the same scale. I propose that the value of a good CEO to a company can well be that of 500 factory workers (or more, but then paying a proportionate salary would hurt many businesses), but I'll take your addition of 1/475 of a CEO < 1 factory worker.


"...identifying authors with their works is a feckless game. Simply to go by their books, Agatha Christie is a mass murderess, while William Buckley is a practicing Christian." --Gore Vidal
[ Parent ]
Yes, but you have to be careful (2.50 / 2) (#199)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:03:36 PM EST

Price is not equal to value.

You can buy a bottle of mineral water for a dollar, but if you are in the desert without any other access to water then you would pay almost any amount to get that water.

This might seem like a contrived example, but is true of essentially all transactions that the price paid for a good or service is (almost) always less than its value. This makes sense since no rational consumer will pay more for something than it is worth to them.

Now in our case here, however great the value of the factory worker to the company, absent a union, the wage he can command is limited by the fact that if the company can find an unemployed person to do the job for less, then can sack him and employ the other guy. So the wage the factory worker gets paid, is necessarily less than his value to the company (assuming the company is rational). With a union present,the worker is capable of capturing a greater proportion of his value to the company, because he can't simply be replaced if someone cheaper comes along.

As for the CEO, he is certainly likely to be able to capture a larger proportion of his value to the company (because he's harder to replace), but that isn't all. In the previous discussion we've assumed that the business or consumer is rational and won't pay more for something than its worth, and will not pay more for something when a cheaper substitute is available. This however ignores the fact that board members essentially decide how much to pay themselves, and they are paying themselves out of someone elses money (the shareholders). Assuming, as economists do, that individuals only look after their own interests, we can see that the CEO will pay himself the largest amount that he can without causing a shareholder revolt, and this may well be more than his value to the company (this doesn't concern him since it isn't his money).

In short, for ordinary workers wages necessarily underestimate their value to the company, for board members the value of their wages and options may sometimes overestimate their value to the company due to conflicts of interest (board vs shareholders).


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

CEO's generally suck... (none / 1) (#350)
by Gooba42 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:42:14 AM EST

The CEO's job is to maximize the value of the company. Period.

This leads the CEO to see validity in strategies like cutting and running as soon as it looks like the shares might slump. The CEO then preserves their image as having built up the company which is then reinforced by the slump that shows up when the next guy gets stuck with the job.

The 475 manufacturing workers then get laid off despite the fact that they have all been performing as they always have and thus business continues as usual.

Now for a truly absurd limiting factor here... how about we limit CEO salaries to some multiple of the lowest paid employee? We set a limit of say... the CEO will never be paid more than 100x what any other employee receives. Now he has to increase company profits and deal with his employees as if they were humans worthy of respect (which indeed they are).

[ Parent ]

CEO pay is a negligible fraction of employee costs (3.00 / 3) (#153)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:37:53 AM EST

Even the most outrageously paid CEOs do not cost their companies a significant amount of money compared to the rest of the employees. Take GM: 50,000 employees making (incl. benefits) $100,000 each is $5 billion. Even if the CEO makes $10 million, that's 0.2% of total labor costs.

[ Parent ]
$10M = peanuts (none / 1) (#176)
by bml on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:46:55 AM EST

10 highest-paid CEOs

BTW, I think only one of those 10 companies has more than 50,000 employees.

A CEO making $10M would be just the 139th best-paid CEO in the US. I think stock options are not included.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]

Re: $10M = peanuts (3.00 / 2) (#375)
by slashcart on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 08:45:52 PM EST

A CEO making $10M would be just the 139th best-paid CEO in the US. I think stock options are not included.
Stock options are included in the chart you linked (the chart lists total compensation). Most of a CEO's compensation comes from options; CEOs often take only a few hundred thousand dollars in striaght salary.

There are 8,800 publicly traded companies on stock exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ, American). The 500 largest of those are listed in the S&P500. Note that a CEO who ranks 139th is near the top of the pay scale for publicly traded companies in the U.S.

I'm not saying that CEOs aren't overpaid. I'm just saying that executive compensation is probably typically less than a few percent of total employee compensation.

[ Parent ]

Striking a balance (2.33 / 3) (#132)
by xC0000005 on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 11:49:56 PM EST

Having grown up in a very pro union family, I've seen good and bad from unions.  I tend to believe from my experience though that the government has zero place in this balancing act.  

Unions should be allowed to strike/slow/sick out whenever they want, for however long.
Employers should be allowed to bust unions as they see fit/are capable of.

This idea that any part of a society can be compelled to do something (a back to work order) or not do something (anti union busting laws) is ridiculous.  Let the society function as a market, and find what balance it will.


Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't

Exactly (2.00 / 2) (#180)
by daveybaby on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:47:45 AM EST

Union bosses tend to be arseholes pushing unrealistic agendas. Management tend to be arseholes pushing selfish agendas. As they push against each other then somewhere in the middle we hopefully get sanity.

[ Parent ]
The problem with your theory... (2.75 / 4) (#210)
by Parity on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:02:00 PM EST

... would be that history tells us that unregulated union/employer negotiations result in the Pinkerton's firing bullets into crowds of striking workers who are trying to brain 'scab' workers with rocks and sticks.

I assume that you wouldn't object, if such a case were to occur modernly, to the government intefering by interposing riot police, of course.

However, the idea behind the union laws is to try to keep things moving smoothly enough that there's no need for (expensive, tax-paid, and plenty busy already) armed forces to keep the two sides apart.


[ Parent ]

Somewhat agreed (3.00 / 2) (#211)
by xC0000005 on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:41:12 PM EST

I do not believe that employers should be allowed to shoot picketers/striking union people. I also don't think that union people should be allowed to harm scab workers. If the union people don't want to work, and someone else does, that's completely up to them. Let the union people strike for as long as they have sick leave/vacation without consequence. After that, there's no reason that the union person has a job to come back to if a replacement is available. Again, simply put - I do not believe in forcing someone to work, or forcing someone to negotiate. It's probably in both side's best interest, but I believe that governmental pressure does not educate.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
No government intervention? (3.00 / 2) (#303)
by Spendocrat on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 03:10:00 AM EST

We'll have to get rid of corporations then :(

[ Parent ]
The Union is a corporation (none / 1) (#376)
by xC0000005 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 11:34:24 PM EST

A corporation of workers. It's got everything from the people who do the grunt of the work to the corrupt CEOs who care more for their own goals than any good/profit line.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Yes, thus *my* point. (none / 0) (#377)
by Spendocrat on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 12:22:34 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Historically (2.00 / 2) (#331)
by walwyn on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:09:43 PM EST


Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.

Adam Smith, "The Wealth Of Nations"



----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]
This crap is going to be voted up. (none / 1) (#142)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:45:32 AM EST

Nice.

But you leave me wondering, if the boss man is so evil, just what do you propose?

Unions are a joke. They have been a joke all my life. This will not change.

Communism as practiced in every country throughout history that has ever tried, is a joke. This will not change.

Socialism as practiced in every country throughout history that has ever tried it, is a joke. This will not change.

What's left then? A philosophical wankery that shouldn't have been voted up in a diary, let alone to the front page.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

You've learned your lines very well (3.00 / 4) (#145)
by daani on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:56:35 AM EST

I'll grant you that. And in the United States "socialism" has been turned into some kind of swear word. But there are plenty of countries where the populace benefit greatly from a moderate socialism. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom spring to mind first.

Very, very stupid and ignorant to think that arguments for moderate socialism come down to "the boss man is evil".

[ Parent ]

How's that? (1.66 / 3) (#148)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:07:14 AM EST

I worked as a computer tech for a public school system on a project. In the library one day was some stupid bitch going on about how great social security is. Of course it is for her, she's in her 50s.

For me, it means paying into something I know for a fact will never pay off for me. When I pointed this out, she became quite defensive, but without much of an argument.

Even in the land of polar bears and igloos, otherwise known as Linkwhoreland, what good would their medicine do me? I never go to a doctor, and seem to have little need of one. Yet, I'd get to pay for everyone else going. Nice that.

Any idiot can point out that things are unfair, it's how to fix things that no one can figure out.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

It's the same as insurance (none / 1) (#151)
by gordonjcp on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:30:41 AM EST

Why should you pay for John Random down the street to get a new boot lid 'cos someone rear-ended him, when *you* haven't had an accident?
Because that's just how it works. It *might* be you that has a prang.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
In the USA... (2.50 / 2) (#161)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:08:06 AM EST

Social security isn't much like insurange at all.

By the time I'm ready to retire, the Ponzi scheme will have tanked.

Besides, I'd like the option of actually deciding for myself whether the insurance is a good deal or not.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

You'd like the option (none / 1) (#260)
by The Diary Section on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 10:41:26 PM EST

of being a burden to the rest of society for no other reason than your own irresponsibility?
Or do you honestly believe you'd drag your rotting carcass into the hills and shoot yourself if you got  sufficiently poor and ill? I don't, I think you'd beg or possibly steal. At the very least you'd avail yourself of what you could for free, which you haven't made any contribution to or ever would be able to again.

I couldn't make a stronger argument for social security if I tried.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

You didn't answer him (none / 1) (#267)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:27:24 AM EST

He didn't just say SS is bad. He said (quite rightly,) that it isn't working. As in, it is about to go bankrupt. The pols are all lying to you when they say it will last 50 years or whatever. It won't last 20 years. It might not last 10 years depending on how the economy does over that span.

Repeat after me: the government does not have any surplus invested. It spent all the money and has no way to get it back. The T-Bills the surplus is supposedly "invested" in are worthless IOUs with nothing to back them whatsoever. Repayment would have to come from the general fund, which means slashing other programs to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in the short term, and hundreds of billions, even trillions in the long term. This would mean the complete demolition of the entirety of the federal budget as it exists today just to pay benefits, which we all know won't happen. Therefore, Social Security is unalterably, completely doomed. This basic financial reality cannot be escaped by reforms, no matter how drastic, because it is far too late in the game for that. Your politicians lied to you, and you believed them because you wanted to hear what they said. Now you're fucked.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Er (none / 0) (#272)
by The Diary Section on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 03:30:45 AM EST

He didn't ask me a question and social security is a generic term.

I'm sure you are right about that specific case.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

In the USA... (none / 0) (#362)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 10:54:20 AM EST

Social Security is the name of a specific socialist retirement benefits program. If you're in any other country, you get a pass at this. If you're in the US, you're a retard.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Yes, please (none / 0) (#302)
by Spendocrat on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 03:08:11 AM EST

Drive without insurance, see how that goes.

[ Parent ]
A bit better.... (none / 0) (#361)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 10:52:24 AM EST

Than earning a paycheck without paying FICA, I'm pretty sure.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
It's not supposed to be "fair" (none / 1) (#152)
by daani on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 02:36:56 AM EST

at least, not the way you're looking at it. It's supposed to be for the greater good. If you're asking for an explanation as to how subsidizing
the existence of poor people helps you personally, you probably aren't going to accept anything that anyone comes up with.

Maybe you'll go through the rest of your life without needing any assistance from socialist programs. I hope to do so myself also. Maybe some people you care about will not. For sure there are some very worthy individuals that you and I will never meet who will not. The moderate socialism appropriate in todays society is about making sure such people are not forced to live like animals.

I certainly do not deny that there are some pretty fucking selfish people out there trying to get more for themselves from such programs. In Australia there are some inappropriate handouts. I, like you, object to taking money out of my pocket to subsidize someone who is already better off than me (paid maternity leave with no means-test is rearing it's ugly head again for example).

[ Parent ]

Haha. (none / 0) (#160)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:01:48 AM EST

I'm not a monster. Making sure people don't starve when they have rotten luck is a good thing in itself, something I'm willing to pay for.

This is far different from what happens, mind you.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Re: Haha. (none / 0) (#164)
by daani on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 05:41:17 AM EST

Socialism as practiced in every country throughout history that has ever tried it, is a joke. This will not change.

Making sure people don't starve when they have rotten luck is a good thing in itself, something I'm willing to pay for.

So what am I misunderstanding? The way I look at it, the second statement is the foundation of modern democratic socialist philosophy. A former leader of the ALP described the mission of socialist parties in the 21st century as "civilizing capitalism".



[ Parent ]
No, that's what they say. (none / 0) (#166)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 06:32:16 AM EST

What they do is something else entirely.

Where is it again in socialist europe that you can collect maternity/paternity leave from your disability from your unemployment?

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

let me get this straight (none / 0) (#198)
by Innocent Bystander on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:54:33 AM EST

So, you're basically saying that because some people take advantage of a system that system should not exist?

Name a single system that is immune to corruption.

If you can't than we should all just revert to anarchy.

Yes, some humans are self-centered shits who should be culled from the gene-pool. Does that mean that you harden your heart to the point where people who *aren't* self-centered shits should live like animals so that you don't feel like you've been ripped off?

Got news for you, you're being ripped off right now by your government, wherever it is that you live. I'm being ripped off by my government so that the poor can be fed, housed, and recieve medical treatment. Why are you being ripped off?

(d)

[ Parent ]

depends on what you mean by socialist (none / 1) (#181)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:49:19 AM EST

"Socialist" has historically been used in two senses, and a lot of grades in between those two.

One end of the spectrum is to refer to capitalists who want to add some government safety nets to capitalism. The first use of the term in English was in such a sense, by Robert Owen in 1827; Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal is generally in this mold as well.

The other end is the Marxist view of "socialism", as used in, for example, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Most modern Democratic Socialist parties come from the Marxist point of view. Their original break from revolutionary Marxists was not over ideology but means: whether democratic means or revolution should be used to bring about a socialist state. Those who held more to the "capitalism but with a safety net" view were "liberals" rather than "socialists". For example, in the UK up until the 1990s or so, the Liberal Party was in favor of capitalism with social nets, while the Labour Party was in favor of workers gaining control over the means of production.

Whether out of a necessity or a genuine change of heart, most socialist parties have begun shifting away from their Marxist heritage and more towards the tempering-capitalism view. Germany's SPD took Marx and class struggle out of their platform in 1959, for example, and Britain's Labour Party did a complete overhaul in the 1990s to become "New Labour".

[ Parent ]

Note to you (3.00 / 2) (#266)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:23:30 AM EST

"The greater good" means "the good of those in power." Of this, you can be unquestionably certain. Always.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
What a complete load of crap. (none / 0) (#286)
by daani on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:49:17 AM EST

The history books are full of people who acted selflessly to improve the lot of their fellow man. Often to the detriment of those in power. For example your own overrated "founding fathers".

Or the invasion of Iraq that you all cheered for so optimisticly. Do you believe the American leadership is in it for the "greater good", or do you believe they are somehow trying to advantage themselves personally?

Sometimes the greater good is just an excuse. But more often it is, in fact, the greater good. Are you seriously telling me otherwise, or are you just another right-wing blowhard for whom cynicism is cool?

[ Parent ]

No, no (2.50 / 4) (#340)
by trhurler on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 08:07:45 PM EST

You don't understand. Nobody says "we're in Iraq for the greater good." They say lots of things, but they don't use THAT phrase. That phrase is what you use when you're fucking someone in the ass and you want him to feel good about it. For instance, eminent domain to build a shopping mall, or seizing white peoples' farms in Africa to hand over to black people, or the fact that the US seizes something like 30% of the wages paid therein and wastes them trying to help less than 10% of the populace BUT FAILS!

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
How cute! (none / 1) (#282)
by divinus on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 08:36:55 AM EST

You talk about how socialism doesn't work, citing an example from a library of a public school.

That's funny because both public libraries and public schools are socialist institutions. You probably appreciate a lot of your other socialist institutions, like public highways, roads, and bridges, but don't think about it because you're wrapped up in Social Security. Please.

[ Parent ]

public libraries (none / 1) (#310)
by Viliam Bur on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 06:48:55 AM EST

Sometimes one part of "statism" is helpful in reducing the damage done by the other part of "statism"; but removing them both would be more useful. Public libraries are useful for spreading information, but removing the copyright laws would be more useful. Then, you would simply find everything on the internet; more easily than today. Without copyrights, someone (e.g. Google) would make a big online library, where you could read all the books. It would also be possible to make a library where you could order a book in paper version, the library would print it for you, and if returned undamaged, would buy it back for 95% of price.

[ Parent ]
Worker control (2.75 / 4) (#212)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 01:51:18 PM EST

The way corporations very generally work now in the non-totalitarian states: External capital holders vote their shares in a firm to set its board of directors and hence strategic outlook, the board controls major aspects of the business and is responsible for setting up the top of the firm's executive structure, and executive power flows downhill from the top through the layers of management.

Based on the corporations bylaws, the board, executives and management putatively act as the trustees of the external shareholders, exercising their fiduciary role for the financial benefit of the shareholders alone to the exclusion of all other interests. This has several big implications- 1. labor is treated as no more than a factor of production, to be hired or fired as the firms executives choose to respond to market conditions such as changing demand or variable labor market prices. Any "loyalty" that the firm displays to its workers is ultimately a matter of financial expediency. Changing market conditions that reduce the power of labor are met by executive responses to cut labor costs- wages, pensions, benefits, etc. 2. barring the intervention of political or social forces, the board,executives, and management answer only to the duty of maximising "shareholder value" regardless of the costs their actions impose on the rest of society. They are constitutionally incapable of internalizing externalities, and have a contract imperative to create externalities whenever it will profit their shareholders. In the context of millions of large global firms wielding huge capital accumulations and advanced technologies, the result of action based solely on the firm's profit motive is that the world becomes literally awash in negative externalities- from global warming, species loss, chemical pollution, military escalation, etc. 3. the firms express their exclusive profit drive by intervening in the political, media and social systems to externalize their own costs- for example, not only do the executives have a contract duty to pollute to the maximum allowed by law if it is profitable, they have an internal motivation to change the political system to lift controls on pollution, and manipulate society by hiding the effects of their actions. In the current context of a mass media information system owned by these corporate interests, the ability of society to create a culture that accurately models reality is fatally compromised. In the absence of this culture, the ability of many if not most individuals to estimate or articulate their own self-interest is severly impaired.

The shareholders themselves that own the vast majority of share voting equity in the world's corporations are a tiny numerical minority of the world's population and their own particular interests are widely divergent and unrepresentative of the interests of most of society, and yet these are the individuals that control the most dynamic institutions for re-creating the material and informational basis for human life.

We can create an economically superior alternative to elite-led capitalism. The essential basis of this alternative is the democratisation of strategic and operative control over the major economic institutions, the large corporations, devolving control to the people who work in them. In this alternative, neither an unrepresentative private minority of elite capitalists who remain external to the firms they control nor an unrepresentative minority of state officials controls the operation of the corporation- the people who work in the firm absorb the directive role of the shareholders by voting the firm's board in general assembly on the basis of one person, one vote. The firm's executives and managements become trustess of the goals articulated by the firm's worker-members, who are elevated to a dual role as participants in the firm as well as directors, with responsibility for their firms' success or failure. This is the rough operational framework of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, largest and most dynamic federation of democratically controlled worker cooperatives, the nearly two hundred associated cooperatives of which operates across nearly the full spectrum of advanced economic activity, including finance, manufacturing, retail and distribution. Mondragno provides a basic proof of concept support for the viability of the proposition that demcoratic worker self management is a model capable of developing unlimited sophistication and suitable for the basis of a global economic system.

Worker self management in principle is capable of solving the major objections to elite led capitalism that I listed above. The exlusive profit motive is replaced as the driving motivation of economic activity by the democratic agreement of a more representative sample of society to balance economic goals with social, ecological, moral and other human goals of its worker-members. The firms worker members are empowered to eliminate externalities by directing a course of economic action consistent with their full human goals, not merely the exlusive profit motive. As controlling participants in the firm and also represenative members of their communities, worker-members are placed in a position of better understanding of the costs to the firm and society of both the firm's decisions and society's politically expresses imperatives. The bottom-up control structure of democratically self managed worker cooperatives also faclilitates their ability to coordinate with other worker managed firms to solve economic and social problems.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

A problem occurs... (none / 0) (#276)
by mikelist on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:12:59 AM EST

...in that even if the boss is basically fair-minded, theory urges him to pay as little as possible in wages in order to be an efficient boss.
That part is subject to equilibrium, but when greed or prejudices come into play as factors in employment decisions, there is no effective counter to it. Even a strike is a bad choice, because after/if the desired changes are made, the labor force still loses money. The boss doesn't get any hungrier than the union guy when he misses a meal, and the balance of lost wages and output end up with the labor getting the shitty end of the stick, just wiped off a little.

Greed keeps communism/socialism from working, but it merely exaggerates capitalism.

[ Parent ]

What do Socialism and Christianity have in common? (1.50 / 2) (#163)
by chlorus on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 04:56:12 AM EST

They both require divine intervention to work.

Peahippo: Coked-up internet tough guy or creepy pedophile?

Seems to work pretty well in the EU $ (none / 0) (#179)
by brain in a jar on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 08:41:32 AM EST


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

And Canada -nt (none / 0) (#196)
by Innocent Bystander on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 11:45:43 AM EST



[ Parent ]
not very well, really (none / 1) (#209)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 12:59:29 PM EST

France is in a huge mess; their social-welfare system is in the process of imploding, and powerful unions are impeding any possible changes by calling general strikes.

[ Parent ]
Norway, sweden, the UK $ (none / 0) (#263)
by brain in a jar on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 01:56:57 AM EST


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

not really the UK (none / 0) (#280)
by Delirium on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 08:29:18 AM EST

The UK is in a huge pensions mess too. Norway is doing ok because it has huge oil reserves. That leaves Sweden with the only reasonable example.

And I can add more than France to the list of places where European social-welfare systems are imploding: Germany, Greece, and Italy, for starters.

[ Parent ]

Pensions are a problem (3.00 / 2) (#285)
by brain in a jar on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:04:57 AM EST

almost everywhere in the west for demographic reasons, I wouldn't say a particular economic system is a failure because it has a pension problem at the moment.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

bingo (none / 0) (#339)
by hitmark on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:59:54 PM EST

currently the reason european pension systems are "falling apart" is because the post war baby boom. all those people are now hitting the pension age.

allso, the same people have had about the 1.5 avarage child (im part of such a family myself) and there for the tax income is low while the pension expenses are high.

two options, redo pensions, raise taxes.

still, there is whole lot of work imigration going on these days in european contrys. to much realy in some contrys that allready have a problem with unemployment. still, some of those imigrants will gradly take on jobs that "natives" dont want to consider...

sosicalist economy is a big tree, with a lot of branches. keeping track of it all is difficult...

still, i must make a slighty offtopic comment. i wonder about what benefits the boom/bust waves, that current capitalist economy generate, realy have for your avarage worker.

[ Parent ]

BWAHAHAHA (2.00 / 2) (#265)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:22:30 AM EST

If the EU's economic fortunes don't change, it will be a collection of banana republics in 50 years' time. You call that success?!?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Keep lauging (none / 1) (#278)
by brain in a jar on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:42:59 AM EST

The main thing powering the US economy at the moment is the government and consumers spending themselves into debt. If the fed is forced to put rates up or the chinese decide to stop subsidising the US government, expect things to get real ugly, real fast.

The long term prospects for Soviet UKia look a lot better.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Right (none / 1) (#341)
by trhurler on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 08:09:57 PM EST

Um, you realize that if you are a creditor and you have a huge percentage of your money tied up in some particular debtor, YOU CANNOT let that debtor fall so far that he can't pay back, right?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Thats clear enough (none / 0) (#356)
by brain in a jar on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 07:07:02 AM EST

But there is certainly an incentive for the debtor to allow the value of his currency to decline appreciably so that the (dollar denomiated) debt becomes smaller.

So I don't think that china will whip out the rug from under the US but it may decide to use it as leverage on geopolitical issues like Taiwan, and it will at some point start hedging against the (rather likely) risk of the US currency falling in value by buying bonds denominated in other currencies (they still want to keep the renmimbi as cheap as possible).

But China is only part of the problem, the consumer debt and the way in which it limits the ability (or at least the inclination) of the fed to raise interest rates is probably the bigger part of the problem.

Finally if the iranians start trading significant volumes of oil in Euros that will also impact the value of the dollar, whether that will come to pass remains to be seen.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Petro-Euro rubbish (none / 1) (#373)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:22:56 PM EST

Finally if the iranians start trading significant volumes of oil in Euros that will also impact the value of the dollar

No it won't. This so-called theory is utterly nonsensical. The financial instrument used to denominate petroleum has no direct, and no substantial indirect, affects on the trade value of US dollar on the currency markets.

It's pure crackpotism. And despite looking high and low, I've yet to find anything like a respectable economist anywhere in the world who endorses the assertion that the US dollar's favored status as a reserve currency is in any appeciable way tied to its being the currency in which petroleum is denominated on the global markets. In fact, most would argue that arrow of causation actually moves in the reverse direction.

The only real advantage the US economy enjoys by having petroleum denominated in dollars is that OPEC will sometimes make month long commitments to a specific price band, and so long as that price commitment is denominated in dollars, it can act so as to artificially keep the cost of petroleum down for the US.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Actually, (none / 1) (#366)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:11:57 PM EST

a lot of countries end up in that exact situation.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
motive issue (none / 0) (#387)
by Innocent Bystander on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 11:45:11 AM EST

You're assuming that the debtor doesn't have an ulterior motive, and only wants the capital back.

If, on the other hand, China were to decide that it would be cheaper to bankrupt the US rather than trying to fight a war with them ...

(d)

[ Parent ]

You don't get it (none / 0) (#392)
by trhurler on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 02:22:35 PM EST

If China did that, "the capital" involved would be most of the value China has ever produced. They'd bankrupt THEMSELVES. They're not just investing some fraction of their accumulated worth in the US - they're putting MOST of it here. Otherwise, their comparatively tiny economy would be incapable of consuming such a high percentage of US debt.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I am astounded (none / 1) (#283)
by Comrade Wonderful on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:01:15 AM EST

that you didn't use 'um' in your subject!

[ Parent ]
the usa is socialist (none / 1) (#323)
by circletimessquare on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:49:01 AM EST

ever here of social security? medicare?

the truth is that pure capitalism is rife with injustice, social darwinistic cruelties like: if break your leg and can't afford a doctor, you should die of starvation in the street

of course this is insane, but the fact that the government creates safety nets so things like this don't happen means that the government is socialist

sorry to burst your bubble, but socialism is necessary

however, dear socialists, socialism doesn't create wealth, and social justice is not served by making everyone as poor as the poorest member in society, which is what pure socialism would have us do

capitalist engine, social safety nets: the perfect society. neither the usa nor the eu has got it right yet, but both are closer than any other country in the world right now

china, meanwhile, after decades of communism, has come out being that social darwinistic dystopia i described above: if you are a poor peasant, and you break your leg and can't pay your doctor, you WILL die, today, right now, in china. all of the communist health infrastructure has evaporated away. weird that decades of communist rhetoric should produce this state of affairs, no?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

notes on capital serving labor (2.66 / 6) (#217)
by guidoreichstadter on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 03:24:50 PM EST

Unions are a way for workers to assert limited control over the conditions of their work, but they are limited in their effectiveness by several issues. Since their members aren't generally involved in the direction and management of the firm, or privy to its strategy and internal information, they are at a disadvantage in balancing the needs of the firm as an economic entity with their goals as individuals. The gains they win will always be vulnerable to assault from hostile shareholder, executive and managerial interests, and their lack of control over the firm limits their ability to help the firm adjust to the market economy. Fundamentally, their lack of control means that workers will always be working for someone else's purposes and goals. In order to place capital at the service of labor, it is necessary for workers to gain democratic control of the economies firms and redefine themselves as both workers and directors.

Most for profit corporations in the non-totalitarian states currently function on this very general model: external capitalists exercise voting shares in a firm to set its board of directors and hence strategic outlook, the board controls macro aspects of the business and is responsible for setting up the top of the firm's executive structure, and executive power flows downhill in a command hierarchy from the top through the layers of management.

Based on the corporations bylaws, the board, executives and management putatively act as the trustees of the external shareholders, exercising their fiduciary role for the financial benefit of the shareholders alone to the exclusion of all other interests. This has several big implications-

1. labor is treated as no more than a variable factor of production, to be hired or fired as the firm's executives choose to respond to market conditions such as changing demand or variable labor market prices. Any "loyalty" that the firm displays to its workers is ultimately a matter of financial expediency. Changing market conditions that reduce the power of labor are met by executive responses to cut labor costs- wages, pensions, benefits, etc.

2. barring the intervention of political or social forces, the board,executives, and management answer only to the duty of maximising "shareholder value" regardless of the costs their actions impose on the rest of society. They are constitutionally incapable of internalizing the effects of their actions on others, and have a contract imperative to create externalities whenever it will profit their shareholders. In the context of millions of large global firms wielding huge capital accumulations and advanced technologies, the result of action based solely on the firm's profit motive is that the world becomes literally awash in negative externalities- from global warming, species loss, chemical pollution, military escalation, etc.

3. the firms express their exclusive profit drive by intervening in the political, media and social systems to externalize their own costs- for example, not only do the executives have a contract duty to pollute to the maximum allowed by law if it is profitable, they have an internal motivation to change the political system to lift controls on pollution, and manipulate society by hiding or disguising the effects of their actions. In the current context of a mass media information system owned by these corporate interests, the ability of society to create a culture that accurately models reality is fatally compromised. In the absence of this culture, the ability of many if not most individuals to estimate or articulate their own self-interest is severly impaired.

The shareholders themselves that own the vast majority of share voting equity in the world's corporations are a tiny numerical minority of the world's population, perhaps a few percent, and their own particular interests are widely divergent and unrepresentative of the interests of most of society, and yet these are the individuals that control the most dynamic institutions for re-creating the material and informational basis for human life.

We can create an economically superior alternative to elite-led capitalism. The essential basis of this alternative is the democratisation of strategic and operational control over the major economic institutions, the large corporations, devolving control to the people who work in them. In this alternative, neither an unrepresentative private minority of elite capitalists who remain external to the firms they control nor an unrepresentative minority of State bearocrats or part heads controls the operation of the corporation- the people who work in the firm absorb the directive role of the shareholders by voting the firm's board in general assembly on the basis of one person, one vote. The firm's executives and management become trustess of the goals articulated by the firm's worker-members, who are elevated to a dual role as participants in the firm as well as directors, with responsibility for their firms' success or failure. This is the rough operational framework of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, largest and most dynamic federation of democratically controlled worker cooperatives, the nearly two hundred associated cooperatives of which operates across nearly the full spectrum of advanced economic activity, including finance, manufacturing, retail and distribution. Mondragon provides a basic proof of concept support for the viability of the proposition that democratic worker self management is a model capable of developing unlimited sophistication and suitable for the basis of a global economic system.

Worker self management is capable of adressing the major objections to elite led capitalism that I listed above. The exlusive profit motive, which creates externalities and overrides all other human goals, is replaced as the driving motivation of economic activity by the democratic agreement of a more representative sample of society to balance economic goals with social, ecological, moral and other human goals of its worker-members. The firm's worker members are empowered to eliminate externalities by directing a course of economic action consistent with their full human goals, not merely the exlusive profit motive. As controlling participants in the firm and also represenative members of their communities, worker-members are placed in a position of better understanding of the costs to the firm and society of both the firm's decisions and society's politically expressed imperatives. The bottom-up control structure of democratically self managed worker cooperatives also facilitates their ability to coordinate with other worker managed firms and with the rest of society to solve economic and social problems, and by placing the basis of control of firms in the population itself, worker cooperation empowers workers to developed advanced participatory structures for the firm itself.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.

A few disagreements (none / 1) (#385)
by slashcart on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 10:23:05 PM EST

The exlusive profit motive, which creates externalities and overrides all other human goals, is replaced as the driving motivation of economic activity by the democratic agreement of a more representative sample of society to balance economic goals with social, ecological, moral and other human goals of its worker-members. The firm's worker members are empowered to eliminate externalities by directing a course of economic action consistent with their full human goals, not merely the exlusive profit motive. As controlling participants in the firm and also represenative members of their communities, worker-members are placed in a position of better understanding of the costs to the firm and society of both the firm's decisions and society's politically expressed imperatives.
It seems unlikely to me that owner/operators will care any more about the environment or humanity than capitalists do. Whenever a union is in control, it behaves just a greedily as had the capitalists, except the greed is for the benefit of the union members and to the exclusion of everyone else.

...My main problem with your idea is that it amounts to theft by employees of capital which they did not create. The employees didn't start the company, didn't defer their consumption, and didn't save or invest their money; therefore, they aren't entitled to the company's dividends.

If the employees wish to buy the company for which they work, they're completely entitled to do so. That isn't as difficult as it sounds. The employees of General Motors, Ford, or any of the traditional airlines could buy their company for a few thousand dollars per employee. Even Wal-Mart, a very valuable company, could be purchased by its employees for ~$50,000 per employee.

After the employees have purchased the shares in the company for which they work, they're entitled to do whatever they want with that company. They're entitled to all of the company's profits. They can run the company in a zero-profit fashion, distributing the money to workers instead. They can run the company for the benefit of mankind, or for the environment, provided they voluntarily submit to the huge pay cut that would be required to do so.

Before you say it's implausible for workers to buy their companies, you should recall that the employees of United Airlines bought their airline and now run it for their own benefit. That airline has fared no better (and no worse) than the other traditional airlines.

What bothers me about wealth redistribution schemes is the element of coercion that is always involved with them. We allow savers to invest their money, then take the dividends for ourselves. Bear in mind that this dishonest theft will work precisely once--we should not expect the savers of our society to continue saving under the assumption that it will be stolen from them eventually.

Everyone has the option of dividing their salary into any ratio of consumption and investment. After doing so, he must live with the consequences. The sole option to which none of us are entitled, is to consume all of our income and then demand that others' investment be taken from them and granted to us.

Companies are not, and should not be, run on a democratic basis. That would grant an equal share regardless of contribution, and would allow people to take for themselves the full benefit of a company's success when a only minority was actually responsible for that company's success.

One more thing. I've noticed that the socialistic employees are very inconsistent insofar as they don't want the investor's dividends shared equally among everyone in the world. They want the investor's dividends distributed to them. But they wish to retain the privelege (and disproportiante income) of being first-world citizens. That is quite unjust. The investors actually deserved their dividends insofar as they made the investment necessary to earn those dividends. The employee, on the other hand, is no more worthy than any 3rd world peasant. He just happened to be born in the U.S. or the E.U., where prior investment allowed industry to flourish; but he didn't make it so; his position is one of pure privelege. Unlike the investor, he doesn't deserve his position in the least. If he really believes in socialism, he should favor liquidating his own property and forgoing his own higher income, distributing the excess to the people of the 3rd world.

[ Parent ]

a few misunderstandings (none / 1) (#390)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 02:06:19 PM EST

It seems unlikely to me that owner/operators will care any more about the environment or humanity than capitalists do. Whenever a union is in control, it behaves just a greedily as had the capitalists, except the greed is for the benefit of the union members and to the exclusion of everyone else

For the record, the Mondragon cooperatives donate minimally ten percent of their annual corporate profits to charitable causes. Much of the freedom of cooperative firms to adress certain ecological and humanitarian concerns is limited by the fact that they are currently such a small part of the total global economy. Capitalist firms won't internalize their costs, such as pollution or unlivable wages, unless forced to by law. If cooperatives must compete with capitalist firms while internalizing all costs when the capitalists don't, they operate at a potentially fatal disadvantage. The larger a part of the global economy cooperatives become, the more they can afford to operate consistently with how their members would like to run things. The key difference is that no matter how much of the economy capitalists control, they won't ever choose to internalize costs of their own free will. Unions generally aren't ever in control, and many of the historical gains they have fought for and won, such as worker safety and overtime pay, have benefitted many people outside of the union. I agree with you, though, some unions have at times pursued policies geared to their own benefit to the exclusion of some other groups. Part of the benefit of cooperatives in fostering a more humane social system instead of a small minority of major shareholders walling themselves off from the rest of us and choosing not to hear our voices, in cooperatives, we the many, listening to each other and making our own contribution the decision making process, are in control. Look at the simple fact that every major capital controlled corporation has bylaws imposing the duty to maximise profits above all other consideration. Normal human beings don't act like that.

..My main problem with your idea is that it amounts to theft by employees of capital which they did not create. The employees didn't start the company, didn't defer their consumption, and didn't save or invest their money; therefore, they aren't entitled to the company's dividends.

Actually, this is incorrect. While I believe that employees even in capital controlled firms have a moral right to a part in the management of the capitalist's firm and a say in the distribution of profits, that isn't how cooperatives work. Cooperatives, such as Mondragon, are started and owned by their worker members, and do not offer voting stock to external agents. Mondragon was largely self-financed- the workers retained a large part of the profits with the cooperative, and lent their own savings to it. Mondragon also opened a bank in its early years to attract savings from the community to help finance its growth. The bank, Caja Laboral Popular, is now one of the largest in Spain. In general, I encourage people to organize themselves together to form coopeatives.

If the employees wish to buy the company for which they work, they're completely entitled to do so. That isn't as difficult as it sounds. The employees of General Motors, Ford, or any of the traditional airlines could buy their company for a few thousand dollars per employee. Even Wal-Mart, a very valuable company, could be purchased by its employees for ~$50,000 per employee.

Unfortunately, the capitalists who have mismanaged General Motors have spectacularly failed to responsibly plan to fund their pension obligations, which is a large weight on the company's value. Most of Wal-Mart's employees would have a very difficult time indeed in raising $50,000, but that suggests an excellent idea for a community effort to transform Wal-Mart into a paradigm of successful worker cooperation. The Mondragon group operates Spain's largest hypermarket chain, Eroski, as a cooperative.

What bothers me about wealth redistribution schemes is the element of coercion that is always involved with them. We allow savers to invest their money, then take the dividends for ourselves. Bear in mind that this dishonest theft will work precisely once--we should not expect the savers of our society to continue saving under the assumption that it will be stolen from them eventually.

Are you referring to cooperatives?

Companies are not, and should not be, run on a democratic basis. That would grant an equal share regardless of contribution, and would allow people to take for themselves the full benefit of a company's success when a only minority was actually responsible for that company's success.

People will have to choose for themselves what kind of companies they want to work in. Generally, cooperatives don't divide their surplus equally between members, but democratically determine as a group the rubric for how effort will be rewarded. Generally, compensation is tied to a job's level of responsibility, difficulty, and the amount of time spent working. At the same time, after paying the agreed interest on loaned capital and other operating expenses, the remaining benefit of their work is their own to decide how to use. Cooperators generally recognize that everyone is responsible to some degree for the success of the company- a cooperative can't succeed without janitors and shop floor workers anymore than it can suceed without managers or engineers. No one recieves the full benefit of everyone's labor, everyone recieves some benefit.

One more thing. I've noticed that the socialistic employees are very inconsistent insofar as they don't want the investor's dividends shared equally among everyone in the world. They want the investor's dividends distributed to them. But they wish to retain the privelege (and disproportiante income) of being first-world citizens. That is quite unjust. The investors actually deserved their dividends insofar as they made the investment necessary to earn those dividends. The employee, on the other hand, is no more worthy than any 3rd world peasant. He just happened to be born in the U.S. or the E.U., where prior investment allowed industry to flourish; but he didn't make it so; his position is one of pure privelege. Unlike the investor, he doesn't deserve his position in the least. If he really believes in socialism, he should favor liquidating his own property and forgoing his own higher income, distributing the excess to the people of the 3rd world.

I actually believe that everyone on earth has a moral right to live, and that I have an obligation to contribute to an economic basis to support that moral right. I think that the most grievous inequalities can and should be ended immediately. Cooperatives as they stand today can't solve all the world's problems. Mondragon operates factories in countries where people have less resources and it doesn't pay the same wage as it does in Europe, and it manages the factories like capital controlled firms, with employees who are not members of the cooperative group. Quite possibly, Mondragon couldn't afford to do so, though it is studying how to integrate its overseas holdings into the cooperative network. This is an economic constraint imposed by operating in a world where most firms in the world are not willing to make similar compromises. As cooperatives organize more and more of the global economy, the people who make them up will gain greater power to make their ideals reality.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Re: a few misunderstandings (none / 1) (#393)
by slashcart on Sat Feb 04, 2006 at 11:04:01 PM EST

For the record, the Mondragon cooperatives donate minimally ten percent of their annual corporate profits to charitable causes. Much of the freedom of cooperative firms to adress certain ecological and humanitarian concerns is limited by the fact that they are currently such a small part of the total global economy. Capitalist firms won't internalize their costs, such as pollution or unlivable wages, unless forced to by law. If cooperatives must compete with capitalist firms while internalizing all costs when the capitalists don't, they operate at a potentially fatal disadvantage. The larger a part of the global economy cooperatives become, the more they can afford to operate consistently with how their members would like to run things. The key difference is that no matter how much of the economy capitalists control, they won't ever choose to internalize costs of their own free will.
It's entirely true that corporations would never internalize costs for themselves; but I remain convinced that the best way of resolving that problem is through taxation: we should tax negative externalities according to some estimate of the damage they cause and then use the proceeds to subsidize positive externalities. No other intervention is required or should be attempted.

It's worth noting that an "unlivable wage" is technically not an externality. It would only be so if the corporation somehow reduced the wages of workers to lower than what they otherwise would have made if they'd worked elsewhere.

Actually, this is incorrect. While I believe that employees even in capital controlled firms have a moral right to a part in the management of the capitalist's firm and a say in the distribution of profits, that isn't how cooperatives work. Cooperatives, such as Mondragon, are started and owned by their worker members, and do not offer voting stock to external agents. Mondragon was largely self-financed- the workers retained a large part of the profits with the cooperative, and lent their own savings to it. Mondragon also opened a bank in its early years to attract savings from the community to help finance its growth. The bank, Caja Laboral Popular, is now one of the largest in Spain. In general, I encourage people to organize themselves together to form coopeatives.
I absolutely do not agree that employees have a moral right to a share in property they do not own.

However the rest of that paragraph I agree with. That's why I'm quite fond of captalism--it's the only economic system not based on coercion. The employees of the collective have every right to save their money, organize themselves into a corporation, and spend their incomes exclusively on products made (or services offered) by other collectives. Nobody is forced to buy the products of private firms or to work for them.

With socialism, on the other hand, the attempt to work for a private firm and keep your money is punished by the state, even in cases where no externalities exist. That punishment can range from expropriation (typically imposed by social democracies) to hard labor or death (imposed by communist states). Note that I'm not meaning to be melodramatic here. I'm just suggesting that most socialistic schemes involve a strong element of statism which often has negative consequences far in excess of the externalities of corporations. The danger posed by large corporations is often recited these days but no corporation has ever physically exterminated a large portion of its employees, a problem which seems recurrent in communist states.

...I hope very much the Mondragon collective is successful. I certainly favor alternative structures for corporate organization, and even if it fails then there was little harm in experimenting.

I actually believe that everyone on earth has a moral right to live, and that I have an obligation to contribute to an economic basis to support that moral right. I think that the most grievous inequalities can and should be ended immediately. Cooperatives as they stand today can't solve all the world's problems. Mondragon operates factories in countries where people have less resources and it doesn't pay the same wage as it does in Europe, and it manages the factories like capital controlled firms, with employees who are not members of the cooperative group. Quite possibly, Mondragon couldn't afford to do so, though it is studying how to integrate its overseas holdings into the cooperative network. This is an economic constraint imposed by operating in a world where most firms in the world are not willing to make similar compromises. As cooperatives organize more and more of the global economy, the people who make them up will gain greater power to make their ideals reality.
Although everyone on Earth may have a moral right to exist, that doesn't address the point that I'd raised. I was arguing that the wage difference between 1st and 3rd world laborers is based on privelege, and if socialists were consistent in their stance against privelege then they would be against their own.

[ Parent ]
expanding (none / 0) (#394)
by guidoreichstadter on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 12:47:43 AM EST

t's entirely true that corporations would never internalize costs for themselves; but I remain convinced that the best way of resolving that problem is through taxation: we should tax negative externalities according to some estimate of the damage they cause and then use the proceeds to subsidize positive externalities. No other intervention is required or should be attempted.
In general, I agree that externalities should be minimized as you suggest. Whenever this happens it's a good thing. Part of the disadvantage of consigning the solution to the problem of eliminating externalities in this way though is that it requires the intervention of the political system and the media to generate public pressure, both of which in real life are heavily coopted if not directly owned by the very people responsible for perpetrating the externalities. In general, the current manifestation of democratic polity provides only an incomplete feedback mechanism. It's also generally more efficient to prevent an externality than to remediate it once its generated. So, from the point of view of society, it's better to have more responsive decision making mechanisms in place directing the economic entities. One would hope that these can be established by consensual means.

It's worth noting that an "unlivable wage" is technically not an externality. It would only be so if the corporation somehow reduced the wages of workers to lower than what they otherwise would have made if they'd worked elsewhere.

Even technically, it's an externality if that unlivable wage makes life physically untenable for the dependent child of the unlivable wage earner. Morally, it's always an externality.

I absolutely do not agree that employees have a moral right to a share in property they do not own.

Do you care to expound on your moral philosophy of property and ownership?

However the rest of that paragraph I agree with. That's why I'm quite fond of captalism--it's the only economic system not based on coercion. The employees of the collective have every right to save their money, organize themselves into a corporation, and spend their incomes exclusively on products made (or services offered) by other collectives. Nobody is forced to buy the products of private firms or to work for them.

Capitalism offers some individuals a large degree of autonomy in economic decision making. This isn't the same thing as being free from coercion. The military invervention of the state is required to establish and maintain the existence of property in a capitalist economy, among other economic functions.

Although everyone on Earth may have a moral right to exist, that doesn't address the point that I'd raised. I was arguing that the wage difference between 1st and 3rd world laborers is based on privelege, and if socialists were consistent in their stance against privelege then they would be against their own.

I think the socialist response would be to dismantle the wage system or something like that. Everyone who faces the general fact of the injustice of the human situation chooses to do something about it, whether ignore it, exploit it, or try to understand and change it. I recognize some of the many ways that I enjoy morally unfair privilege, some I try to minimize by renouncing their advantage when possible (and it is not always possible), others I try to exploit to disestablish the cause of that privilege. I'm not sure that the most effective way to disestablish the privilege you're alluding to lies in the suggestion you've made.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

expanding still further (none / 1) (#396)
by slashcart on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 11:28:00 PM EST

In general, I agree that externalities should be minimized as you suggest. Whenever this happens it's a good thing. Part of the disadvantage of consigning the solution to the problem of eliminating externalities in this way though is that it requires the intervention of the political system and the media to generate public pressure, both of which in real life are heavily coopted if not directly owned by the very people responsible for perpetrating the externalities. In general, the current manifestation of democratic polity provides only an incomplete feedback mechanism. It's also generally more efficient to prevent an externality than to remediate it once its generated. So, from the point of view of society, it's better to have more responsive decision making mechanisms in place directing the economic entities.
The discouragement of externalities must be a matter of law, because the externalities must be discouraged for everyone equally. Otherwise the firms which act to internalize their own negative effects will be at a competitive disadvantage to those which don't. Over time the voluntarily internalizing firms will be eliminated, as a matter of statistical law.
Part of the disadvantage of consigning the solution to the problem of eliminating externalities in this way though is that it requires the intervention of the political system and the media to generate public pressure, both of which in real life are heavily coopted if not directly owned by the very people responsible for perpetrating the externalities.
The private sector must not be mistaken for a single, monolithic entity with shared goals and a shared strategy. The private sector is divided into millions of capitalists who often impose the externalities on each other, and who often have very different goals. I will grant that the private sector is not democratic, but it is highly distributed (unlike the state) with no single entity controlling more than a very small portion.
One would hope that these can be established by consensual means.
If those measures cannot be established by consensual means then they should not be established at all.

By granting coercive powers to the state we always assume that those powers will be used for the intended purpose. But generally the coercive powers are used for purposes quite different from those we intended; and the people who granted those coercive powers to the state in the first place may find that they're no longer capable of controlling it.

Even technically, it's an externality if that unlivable wage makes life physically untenable for the dependent child of the unlivable wage earner. Morally, it's always an externality.
The term "externality" is an economic (not moral) term with a precise definition.

No wage, no matter how low, could ever be an externality, insofar as it was voluntarily accepted because it was the highest wage available to the wage earner at that time. The only externalities caused by wage payments would be effects caused to people or firms which weren't a part of the wage contract. For example, if one company paid an artifically high wage for a specialized skill, then it could cause an externality to others, because the equilibrium price of that skill would be driven up for other firms and employees which weren't a part of that wage contract.

Low wages may very well be unfortunate from a human standpoint, but they aren't externalities.

Low wages are not imposed arbitrarily by the capitalist. A wage is a price subject to an equilibrium level, and that price is determined by labor scarcity, which in turn is determined by the ratio of labor to capital. As such, the general wage level is determined by independent factors; it cannot be altered at will, either by the capitalists or by the government. The only conceivable way of raising wages generally is to increase the ratio of labor to capital, which could only be accomplished either by increasing the amount of capital or by reducing the number of laborers. Any attempt to raise some wages above the equilibrium level (either by capitalists or by the government) will simply reduce wages for others. Indeed, that has been the result of virtually all the labor market interventions in Europe--wages have been increased for some laborers and inadvertently decreased for others. Usually, what ends up happening is that money is taken from poorer laborers and given to richer ones, although not intentionally.

Capitalism offers some individuals a large degree of autonomy in economic decision making. This isn't the same thing as being free from coercion. The military invervention of the state is required to establish and maintain the existence of property in a capitalist economy, among other economic functions.
Presumably the police and military exist only to prevent one person from coercing another. The purpose of the police is to coerce the coercers into not coercing. As such the police reduce the amount of coercion in society rather than increasing it.

The alternative to the police is not a free society, but a society run by bullies, bandits or warlords for their own benefit. That's what happens everywhere public order breaks down. For example, that's what happened in Afghanistan and Somalia, that's what happens in some prisons, and that's even what happens (on a small scale) in schoolyards of delinquents. Of course, after the breakdown of public order, the police re-appear almost immediately; or at least, a new kind of police appear. But the new police exist to enforce the property rights of the warlord only.

Do you care to expound on your moral philosophy of property and ownership?

The reason some countries today are rich is because they have adopted the docrtines of an extremely profound science which was developed during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, namely, the science of economics. Unfortunately that science and its revelations are understood by a diminishingly small proportion of the world's population, even in developed countries.

The general ignorance of economics has led industrial citizens to misunderstand the causes of their affluence. They view their affluence as somehow a gift of nature. They feel that their affluence was somehow a natural consequence of being born in (say) Europe rather than Nigeria. These industrialized citizens feel that they've been born into a garden of Eden; that the products they love will magically develop themselves and show up for sale in supermarkets; that they would experience the same level of affluence under any economic arrangement.

The most hilairous example of this, is the industrialized laborers who believe capital is exploiting them! As if they created the economic system which they inherit! As if they were innately more talented than any 3rd world peasant! As if the poverty of (say) India were caused by a shortage of laborers there!

Industrialized workers notice that capitalism was socially constructed, but they're completely unaware of the very profound reasons why it was constructed in precisely that way. They confuse a socially constructed system with an arbitrary one. They assume, that since capitalism was invented it could be replaced. The result is that they wish to replace the carefully developed economic doctrines with ideas of their own choosing, usually fashionable ideas developed in a cafe.

But of course, if they abandoned the market mechanisms which created their affluence then they would abandon their affluence also. The economic doctrines applied in the 19th century are the sole cause of their wealth in the 20th. If they abolished those doctrines then they would learn that their affluence was an abnormal circumstance. They would gradually return to the state of humanity which has prevailed for all human history, namely, subsistence just above survival, and sometimes below it.

Of course, the reduction in standard of living would take a long time to occur. I'm not meaning to be melodramatic here. But don't doubt that it can occur. India adopted some maddeningly idiotic socialistic doctrines during the 1940s, and the result was a reduction in per-capita income of 40% over two decades. Since India was already impoverised, the result was that 150 million people there starved to death. Even the very minor economic interventions in Europe have already caused economic growth there to cease. Europeans should be grateful that they're rich already, because they're not getting any richer.

You asked me about my philosophy of property. Obviously I realize that property is enforced by society, even if it's a naturally occuring phenomenon among human societies. Nevertheless, I do not believe that property is an arbitrary institution. I believe that capitalism is the sole system developed thus far which can raise the standard of living of many people above subsistence. I believe that capitalism is the sole reason western countries today are rich. I believe that the only way of creating similar conditions in poor countries is to introduce a similar economic system there.

Already, the limited capitalist reforms in India and China has led the 2.5 billion citizens of those two countries to triple their PPP-adjusted real income (more in China than in India). As a result, the worldwide average wage has increased more during the 1990s than in any decade during human history. Indeed, if this is the 19th century for India and China, as some critics have claimed, then let us hope the next century for them will be the 20th.

Happily, I have every reason to believe that economic growth there will be greatly accelerated, and that they can experience 1st world standards of living in less than 5 decades.

In the mean time, the best way to ameliorate poverty there is to curtail our own consumption spending and give them the leftover money, for their consumption spending. That is the most effective way of helping them. It is not effective to refuse to buy their products, since that will make them poorer.

...By the way, I must say that I'm enjoying the conversation and I find your comments insightful.

[ Parent ]

intermission (none / 0) (#399)
by guidoreichstadter on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 08:52:06 PM EST

Thanks for you response, I'm sorry I'm not able to respond just now due to time constraints; I should be more free in a couple of days.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
Thanks for waiting (none / 0) (#402)
by guidoreichstadter on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 09:24:51 PM EST

I'm really very sorry I havn't been able to give your post the attention it deserves. This is a very busy time of year. I hope that I will be able to respond in the near future.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
Dear fuck! (1.33 / 3) (#224)
by bighappyface on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 05:23:02 PM EST

I +1FPed it, but is it necessary for EVERY comment on the article to be at least 1000-words and devoid of any coherent/logical paragraph breaks.

FUCK!

I mean, it's one thing on paper, but when it's on the screen you need fucking paragraph breaks.

FUCK!

How Many Factories Shut Down? (2.66 / 3) (#271)
by hardburn on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 03:22:34 AM EST

. . . the most over-used one of all--business cannot afford to operate with such onerous laws that require a minimum wage, or safe working conditions, or bans on child labor, or family leave, etc.

Child labor and minimum wages almost certainly did shut down factories. While it wasn't a civilization-ending event, the loss of a cheep work force (and one that could do certain work more easily, such as getting into small places in machines) will definately force some factories out of buisness until the supply drops low enough for the price to rise to a new equilibrium point, which allows the remaining factories to be profitable. However, the benefits of children being in school and then growing up to more worthwhile jobs is probably a net gain for society overall.

Minimum wages are a price floor, and thus will cause a surplus when the equilibrium point is below that price. That means that people who would be willing to work for that minimum wage, and who are fully qualified for the job, will not be able to find work. The same goes for absurdedly high union wages for factory jobs; $20+/hour for screwing on lug nuts is way over the equilibrium price, shown by the simple fact that there is a huge waiting list of people to get into just those sorts of jobs (demonstrating a labor surplus).

I appreciate that the labor movement made far better working conditions possible, but their current positions are every bit as greedy and short-sighted as the factory owners they fight.

Further, some industries don't require unions at all to improve working conditions. Google did not install laundry services for employees because a union forced them to. They did it because their employees want to do things more interesting than laundry. Such situations, however, seem more likely to happen for highly-skilled, highly-demanded jobs, rather than the unskilled labor that unions generally target.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


laundry? (none / 0) (#284)
by hswerdfe on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:04:51 AM EST

dude, google lets you do laundry on site, so you don't have to go home to do it. thus, you can stay longer and do MORE free over time.
--- meh ---
[ Parent ]
No shit sherlock (none / 0) (#293)
by brunes69 on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:37:58 PM EST

Thats what he said.

Google did not install laundry services for employees because a union forced them to. They did it because their employees want to do things more interesting than laundry.



---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]

The reality is, it's not about the economics. (none / 0) (#400)
by mbmccabe on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 04:39:45 PM EST

Child labor and minimum wages almost certainly did shut down factories.

Statistically or theoretically, perhaps "almost certain".

But, I'd challenge you to produce a list of factories of any significant length that A) weren't already uncompetetive and therefore on their way to going out of business (capitalistically speaking) and that B) you think were put out of business because of child labor laws and/or minimum wage.

You need to read more about the history of how things got this way.

Unions do not exist becuase Google and companies like them do good things, nor do unions exist becuase they make good economic sense.

Arguments against them on these grounds fail because they do not address the reality or the history.

If you ask me, it seems to be a humanity issue.  ( Not that this is my original thought.)  People in positions of power (bosses, mangement, etc) tend to want to abuse that power.  Only in extremely recent history has humanity come up with significant offsets to this tendency, and labor unions are one of the big ones.

On another note, of course labor unions will suffer from some of the same "humanity issues" when they become structured like businesses where there are "bosses" and "managers", etc.  A key question to ask is: "Why would unions adopt the same structure if they know what the likely outcome will be?"

Unions did not start out that way, but became that way with much help and encouragement from business and government entities.  Accidentally or coincidentally you ask?  On purpose?

Read up, pay extra attention to "alternative" sources of information -- People's History of the United States is a very decent one -- and decide for yourself.

Best of luck!
-Matt

[ Parent ]

I could accept the unions (3.00 / 2) (#288)
by hatshepsut on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 11:54:49 AM EST

If it wasn't mandatory to join one in order to do certain types of work.

Think about it, if you want to work in the auto manufacturing sector (Canada and the US, anyway), you must join the union. So, anyone who doesn't feel that the union could/does represent their best interests doesn't have the opportunity to prove or disprove that theory.

If the unions were confident that they truly do represent the best option for people working in a certain field, then why do they make sure that to work in that field, you MUST be one of them. I would think it would be more fair to see what would happen in a situation where union and non-union workers are doing the same job. Who feels they are being better or worse treated? The unionized person will get their standard raises and benefits, as negotiated by the union on their behalf. The non-unionized person would be able to directly compare that to how they are treated as an individual (is the opportunity to prove themselves out-of-the-ordinary in some way directly related to out-of-the-ordinary compensation?). I don't even pretend to have an answer for this one, but I don't see why the situation is not permitted to occur.

I have never belonged to a union, my parents did their whole careers. I have changed employers and responsibilities based on my expectations, my hopes and my desires. If I didn't like the working conditions somewhere, I walked. Less than 10 years into my career, I make substantially more than my parents did at the end (30 years) of theirs. They had a sweet pension plan (I will concede that), but I put away a large portion of my pay which will amount to the same thing (and they payed through the nose for that pension plan, it was no freebie). Before anyone asks, my parents each had a university degree and a college diploma, I have 2 university degrees (no PhD). Oh, and I am not in IT.

teaching (none / 0) (#298)
by Rhodes on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 06:46:25 PM EST

in Public schools. All teachers are represented by their respective unions; not all are members. In addition, unions may or may not represent teachers at private schools. My father was a member of the union. He would complaign about fellow teachers that accepted all the benefits of representation but complaign about the union dues, and indeed not pay the dues. Is it fair to not compensate for benefits?

[ Parent ]
not entirely free of unions there (none / 1) (#299)
by Delirium on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 08:36:12 PM EST

As you mention, all teachers are represented by their respective unions; the flip side of this is that no teacher is permitted to negotiate their own contract as their own representative. This works to the detriment of science and math teachers, who could earn more than the union-mandated salary were they allowed to compete on the free market (because science and math teachers are much more in demand than most teachers).

[ Parent ]
Just a few... (none / 1) (#292)
by A synx on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:37:26 PM EST

Just a few depressing comments.  :)


  • The late 1800s with the push for the 40-hour work week
    Yeah, just like today people work and commute 40 hours a week.  Uh... wait a minute...

  • The early 1900s with the drive to eliminate and regulate the use of child labor
    And prevent children from working, and make families dependant on the public school system, and PTA meetings, and soccer games, etc.  There is good and bad with this.  Child labor was eliminated for all practical purposes, and probably should instead have been regulated because it's healthy for children to work some.

  • The 1970s and the initiation of health and safety regulations through OSHA
    As Upton Sinclair said to the response to his work <u>The Jungle</u>,  "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."

  • 1993 with the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act
    Yes, more family worship.  No doubt the Family and Medical Leave Act did not provide any provisions to someone who did not produce children to swell the working classes.  You have to produce babies before the government will help you after all, it's your duty and you have no choice!

  • The current issues of mandating safe needles, bans or limits on mandatory overtime and nurse-to-patient ratios
    The current criminalization of marijuana, the jails swelling with innocent pot smokers, and pitiful victims of harder drugs demonized and crucified as criminals.

Sorry, you can say the state has done good, but overall it's spiraled into corporate slavery, idiot breeding, and mindless baby worship, all because of the effectiveness of advertising.  Unions just don't have anything to prevent them from being controlled by mean, powerful bastards, anymore than corporations do.  Things have gotten better, but not the list you provided.

Employment is a bad institution. (1.85 / 7) (#297)
by Baldrson on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 05:52:55 PM EST

The employer/employee relationship is a bad institution.

In ancient terms it is the move toward a Baron with his retainers and away from the yeoman. I've been advocating a net asset tax system exempting yeoman's assets for 14 years now and recently discovered that the British king most recognized for having brought financial stability to the kingdom applied a similar tax. Henry the VII, although he did not directly tax the assts of the baronage, did tax them for the number of retainers they kept. This profoundly decentralized wealth and returned many retainers to independence. As a consequence the barons were no longer able to roam the country side extorting from the yeomen -- and many former retainers became yeomen.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


you have to be the most reactionary fuck (none / 1) (#321)
by circletimessquare on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:41:02 AM EST

i've ever met

empty the cities, bring back feudal economics, keep the races separate

the incredible baldrson reverse time machine

baldrson, oh reactionary fuck bladrson, how do we defeat thee?

we don't, we don't have to lift a single finger to defeat you: entropy does, time's finger points only one way

but how your mind lept forth from the 1600s completely untouched by any history since then is simply some sort of magic trick i'll never understand

maybe newton or da vinci perfected cryonic preservation, and used the retarded stable boy as a test subject

well hello then retarded medieval stable boy!

welcome to the new millenium!

we await your rivetting insight into solving the world's problem via the powers of alchemy, trepination, phrenology, and deciding the course of war by reading the entrails of small dead mammals!

(snicker)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

What an idiot... (1.00 / 2) (#328)
by Baldrson on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:00:35 PM EST

Henry the VII got suppressed the baronage, a feudal institution. Jews have done more to reintroduce the baronage in its modern form than any other single group and its obvious why.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

jews, jews, jews (1.00 / 3) (#330)
by circletimessquare on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:03:43 PM EST

you got nothing to worry about my dear antisemitic crackpot... in 50 years the entire world will be owned by a handful of chinese banks, not a jew in sight

so readjust your xenophobia please, k thx


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

And guess who set us up for that takeover? (none / 1) (#335)
by Baldrson on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 06:10:53 PM EST

It was Henry Ford who, in "The International Jews" wrote that the Jewish question was whether creative industry or the world of finance would come to dominate the West. This man was the one who took mass industrial production into the 20th century scales and saw Jews as threatening the US's position in that portion of the economy.

Jews won short term and the US lost and China won longer term.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

No surprises here... Just the usual... (none / 1) (#344)
by D Jade on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:01:37 PM EST

You fail it as always...

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
Success (none / 1) (#347)
by Baldrson on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 11:46:24 PM EST

The most important, although tragic, success here was Henry Ford's prediction not only of the fact of the US's loss of manufacturing supremacy but the reason therefore.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

Oh I don't think that's teh Joo'z fault... (2.50 / 2) (#348)
by D Jade on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:08:55 AM EST

I think it's mainly because you Americans are all fat lazy bastards (of which you are the leader) who have no work ethic. Compared to those Asians, you're screwed...

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
you have serious psychological problems (nt) (1.50 / 2) (#355)
by circletimessquare on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 06:45:40 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
i'm seriously considering changing my sig. (none / 0) (#395)
by warrax on Sun Feb 05, 2006 at 12:38:09 PM EST

even though i've had it forever. this is just too priceless.

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]
Pot Kettle Black (none / 1) (#343)
by D Jade on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:00:32 PM EST

You can just say Henry VIII as the convention states you dipshit.

Jews have done more to reintroduce the baronage in its modern form than any other single group and its obvious why.

Okay then. Let's just ignore Massachusetts and Connecticut where those Irish Catholics live... What were their names? You know the ones. They're rich and have had vast political and economic influence in America...

Oh, that's right. Those families couldn't be responsible for their own "noble" legacies because they're not teh Jews.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Henry VIII Destroyed Henry VII's Legacy (none / 0) (#345)
by Baldrson on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 11:30:06 PM EST

Henry the VIII was recaptured by the incensed barony and had his father's retineu tax collectors executed. This destroyed the socioeconomic foundation his father laid and set the kingdom on the path of ruin which culminated in Cromwell betraying every principle for which his Roundheads fought, and acted as an absolute monarch in defying his own parliament in letting the Jews back into England -- the bribe was a loan to him by the Amsterdam Jews.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

I was referring to the THE (none / 1) (#346)
by D Jade on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 11:36:02 PM EST

and not the number dipshit...

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
Newton was of a yeoman farm (none / 0) (#336)
by Baldrson on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:04:27 PM EST

maybe newton or da vinci perfected cryonic preservation, and used the retarded stable boy as a test subject

Funny you should mention Newton. Newton could not have achieved what he did had his family not had its farm and hence the independence to pursue their interests without excessive outside indebtedness. They were yeomen.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

But if we went back to feudal times baldrson... (1.50 / 2) (#342)
by D Jade on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:55:50 PM EST

... wouldn't be as comparitively ugly to the norm as the rest of us. So he might actually be able to get laid for once in his miserable life.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
We all fight for our own advantage. (2.60 / 5) (#316)
by TheGaffer on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 09:16:27 AM EST

The beauty of a free society is the right to engage in a free market. In said free market everyone seeks to maximise their benefit and minimise their effort - a totally natural thing. In the normal ecology of a free market, workers duke it out with the bosses and semi-settle at a point which is amicable for all - if wages are too low for the workers they strike, if wages are too high for the employers, work is outsourced, foreign workers are brought in or mechanisation/automation are used to reduce labour costs. Most of the time a happy medium is easily struck. Unions allow workers to unite and fight more effectively for their benefit just as corporations allow people with capital to band together.

Where this goes wrong is when one side or another uses unjust coercion to further their goals. The whole system goes way out of whack if (as in the Miner's Strike in the UK) Pickets prevent men who want to work from doing so or if the state are pressed by employers to enforce anti-union legislation. The natural ebb and flow of the economy is tampered with and while one side benefit in the short term, these impositions serve to dam up problems that will at some point gush out, be it mass redundancy (Murdoch, Wapping and the NGA) or economic crisis (Callaghan, Winter of Discontent). Unions are valuable and valid institutions as long as their boundaries are clear - to protect their members without interfering with the right of others to go about their business. To my eyes the only sustinable role the state can take is merely to act as referee and stop both bosses and unions from acting unlawfully.
Poker for Linux, Mac & Windows
Doesn't follow. (none / 1) (#320)
by Sledge Hammer on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 10:35:39 AM EST

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves the much higher compensation." -- Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union message, 1861

Something has always bothered me about that quotation, and I think I've figured it out. The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. It's a non sequitur. Try it this way.

Parents are prior to, and independent of, children. Children are only the fruit of parents, and could never have existed if parents had not first existed. Parents are the superior of children, and deserves the much higher compensation.

That may be true so long as the children are little, but the dream of most parents is for their children to grow up and have a better life than they, the parents, had. I would say that, to the extent that capital can "grow up" it may be that it should be compensated more highly.

-Sledge

Barf! (3.00 / 2) (#329)
by walwyn on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:03:42 PM EST

Its the dream of labor that capital should be more highly compensated? Gack!


In a society of an hundred thousand families, there will perhaps be one hundred who don't labour at all, and who yet, either by violence, or by the more orderly oppression of law, employ a greater part of the labour of society than any other ten thousand in it. The division of what remains, too, after this enormous defalcation, is by no means made in proportion to the labour of each individual. On the contrary those who labour most get least.

Adam Smith, "The Wealth Of Nations"



----
Professor Moriarty - Bugs, Sculpture, Tombs, and Stained Glass
[ Parent ]
Not quite right (2.66 / 3) (#379)
by jolly st nick on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 05:33:36 PM EST

Children are only the fruit of parents,

But this isn't true. Children aren't only the fruit of parents. They're persons, just as much as their parents are, and naturally have all the privileges and duties appertaining thereunto, with proviso made for their limited judgement.

With respect to the statement being a non-sequitur, I agree, but not with your reasoning.

The conclusions only follow if you take as axiomatic that if A is the fruit of B, then B is the superior of A. This is problematic in my view becuase (1) it's not clear why this should be so and (2) it's not even clear what it would mean if we accepted it.

No.

The key axiom is this:People are the superior of things.

To discuss matters of policy using economic terms like "Labor" and "Capital" misses the point. Both Labor and Capital are things -- abstractions of realtionships between people that are too complex to squeeze onto a bumper sticker. But in any case people are the supeior to both. Public policy should not be made to benefit capital or labor, but the people on whose behalf it is made.

[ Parent ]

philadelphia is the superior capital $ (none / 0) (#325)
by bugmenot on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 01:15:54 PM EST

but sometimes the letter R

---

l:p bugmenot:bugmenot

Your complete lack of understanding (2.50 / 2) (#352)
by insomnyuk on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 05:44:34 AM EST

in regards to economics will only serve to further the opinion that Christians are idiots when it comes to any matter that is practical or important.

Labor can't exist without capital in a market economy.  There's plenty of 'labor' in Africa, so why do you suppose people in the Sudan still die of famine?

Also, citing the Pope to justify an economic argument is a terrible idea if you have any knowledge of Catholic history in terms of their attempts to set economic policy (see: Fixed Prices as an issue of morality).

Good luck with your dual-mythology!

---
"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken

People need capital, but not capitalists (none / 1) (#365)
by guidoreichstadter on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 12:04:53 PM EST

People are more than capable of creating and cooperatively directing and managing successful economic organizations of unlimited sophistication and scale without the control of an elite minority of external capital owners.

Incidentally, Catholic social justice doctrine was a major historical influence on the economic thinking of Father José María Arizmendiarrieta, a primary cofounder of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a dynamic and growing democratically controlled worker cooperative which is now Spain's 7th largest company.


you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

Your complete lack of understanding (none / 1) (#372)
by projectpaperclip on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:48:28 PM EST

in regards to African history illustrates why you think Africa's lack of capital is the source of Sudanese famine. If America's people and resources had been stolen and had their entire society turned upside down for hundreds of years, no amount of capital could save them from the ensuing chaos (oh, wait... America's people and resources were stolen... the natives to America anyway, and look at how great they are doing, even with all the capital generated by the gambling industry). You're willful ignorance to history does not change the fact that capital is in more need of labor than labor is of capital. The author did not claim that labor was unnecessary, but consider settlers throughout history who have been able to simply mix the earth with their labor and create a life... try mixing capital with the earth, and all you will get is some filthy money, it creates nothing on it's own. Labor *can* be enhanced by capital, but is capable of much on its own. Capital on its own is nothing.

[ Parent ]
only in the short term (none / 1) (#381)
by Delirium on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 07:55:17 PM EST

capital is in more need of labor than labor is of capital

This will become steadily less true as it becomes possible to automate more tasks. When you can build a robot to perform labor, then capital is labor.

[ Parent ]

the matrix? (none / 0) (#398)
by projectpaperclip on Mon Feb 06, 2006 at 12:56:58 PM EST

who builds and maintains the robots?

[ Parent ]
be more specific (none / 0) (#401)
by insomnyuk on Sun Feb 12, 2006 at 05:14:10 AM EST

what part of african history are you referring to? the Sudan? what?

---
"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]
Bit of a straw man argument (3.00 / 3) (#378)
by jolly st nick on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 05:11:00 PM EST

You are overstating the author's case. The argument is not that capital is useless. It's that the concerns of working people deserve to be held a higher regard than they are now.

In any case, logically speaking, of course labor can exist with out capital. It's just hampered in its productivity. Technically, they're both factors of production. Marginally, in any given situation a unit of capital may or may not be a higher priority than a unit of labor. However, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the unit of labor is a human being.

[ Parent ]

Unions vs changes in society (3.00 / 2) (#353)
by panta on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 06:37:56 AM EST

I agree that unions have brought a lot of good things (reduced work hours, week-ends off, healthcare, paid holidays, benefits, ...). But the society is changing in that new kinds of workers are emerging that don't have access to these results. At least here in Italy, more than one third of workers is not a regular employee. Companies prefer to avoid hiring people, to avoid paying taxes for healthcare, retirement plans, holidays, ... The effect is that these "external" workers have the perception of earning more, but only because they don't take into account the loss of benefits. They can be fired with no prior notice, they are unpaid when ill or on vacation, they often work 13/14 hours a day (without any extra) or during the week-ends. They will have nothing when they'll retire. This is a problem that is common to many professional categories (accountants, lawyers, computer programmers, trainers, ...). So in the end, if you work in a factory you receive fairly good "protection" by the unions and by the law, but if you have spent 20 years studying, well, you are on your own... I'd like to know what's your opinion here.

Labor (1.50 / 1) (#397)
by jlnca on Mon Feb 06, 2006 at 03:26:21 AM EST

Labor is not synonimous with Union. Anytime Organized labor leader's compensation is comparable with that of CEO's of multinational companies, It is time to stop and think, who is hurting the working person more? As far as I can see both organized unions and companies are looking out for themselves without a care for the ones trying to eke out a living.

Labor Is The Superior Of Capital | 403 comments (327 topical, 76 editorial, 1 hidden)
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