I remember that this was actually proven completely false, and someone had the numbers for it. Please advise.
The reality is that “capitalism” works best when people live. Dead people are not very good participators in the marketplace.
As such, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep as many people alive and capable of making money to spend. It’s also in everyone’s best interest that people keep creating things and the more people and the better the “information” that’s available to people, the better we can produce and the better off we’ll all be.
tl;dr - Dead people can’t buy things. Capitalists like to keep people alive.
Ludwig von Mises
Check out this awesome article from Values and Capitalism: “People-vs-Profits” is a False Dichotomy.
I wished business schools would remind themselves of this. I think b-schools students should be taught Austrian Econ, as a prerequisite
Personally, I’d replace “profits” with “incentives”. People far to often think of profits as purely monetary gains. But some people believe in gains that are not necessarily monetary in nature, such as emotional gains.
There are those that engage in supplying consumers for some sort of emotional gain and that, to them, is the incentive of doing business.
This is where the theories of economics start to diverge with the theories of ethics and philosophy; specifically with the ethics of altruism of David Hume.
Maybe it’s just me, but if we started talking about “income” and “profits” as things that go beyond just monetary gains, maybe we’d attract more individuals to the ideas of capitalism and anarcho-capitalism.
Anonymous asked: I know you're what Americans call "libertarian," so when I see you promote wealth of nations, I am confused... you realize Smith was a Libertarian Socialist, right? He condemns free markets left and right in "Wealth of Nations," and I'm guessing you've never read it?
I guess you can call me a libertarian. I’m a market anarchist or an AnCap or an anarchist or a marketist or a voluntaryist or whatever. To make it easy on you, I don’t believe in the justification of government force.
Why did I post a link “promoting” Wealth of Nations? Because it’s a profound piece of writing, not just for economics, but for government, politics and society as a whole. Even if I completely disagreed with it, I’d still link people to it so that they can read it.
I have copies of Marx and Upton Sinclair in my personal library, not because I’m a communist or a socialist or even because I believe there is some merit to those theories, because I think they are complete bunk. But I’ve read them because it’s important to read them and understand them if I’m going to discredit them and promote my own theories. What point is there in limiting yourself to only reading and studying those works which align with your theories. Confirmation bias much?
Yes, I’ve read Wealth of Nations (Ironically, it wasn’t a voluntary decision at the time) and, no, he does no condemn free markets. If that was your takeaway from The Wealth of Nations, I strongly encourage you to reread it (or actually read it for the first time).
As for Adam Smith being a “socialist”, I’m guessing you derived that idea from reading ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’? Or did you come to that conclusion because Smith talked about how earners should pay back to society (which I think many people misunderstand this to mean pay more taxes).
And if you’re as confused and as misguided as this message makes you out to be and as lazy as I suspect you are, you can bypass the 1,000 pages of reading and have P.J. O’Rourke read the book for you:
Part I: http://youtu.be/TWu_1qrwf3E
Part II: http://youtu.be/e7fG6XdDFDU
Thanks for playing,
America is the richest nation in the world. Our GDP was $15.09 trillion in 2012. That is enough money to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide 276 times over. Yet 146 million American’s (half of our population) live in poverty or are ‘near poor’.
#1, I don’t you understand how GDP works and what it actually measures.
#2, American “poverty”. The poorest American lives like a king in comparison to a significant portion of the world.
#3, You’re assuming that simply taking money from people and giving it to others is a way to eliminate “poverty”.
Some of you guys should just stay away (very, very far away) from economics.
Politicians should be required to wear the logo’s of the companies they accept interest money from, like NASCAR drivers.
I can get with this.
Contempt for Capitalism. How A Lack of Understanding Sparked Hatred
This is a prime example of how limited the people are in their knowledge of how wealth is created and how that process is beneficial to all.
What anti-capitalists don’t understand about the advancement and progress of technology, industry and markets is that overtime what once seemed unattainable and luxurious eventually becomes the norm and even sub-par.
People are fairly clued up on how products come to market and we all can see how innovations eventually become cheaper. Your entire analysis misses is the point of the capitalist mode of production and why anti-capitalists have a problem with it.
Why don’t you enlighten us.
Contempt for Capitalism. How A Lack of Understanding Sparked Hatred
A new theme I’ve seen gain popularity among the youth, both in America and in Europe, is a spurning of capitalism that stems from the notion that successful people owning rare or high-priced goods is evil. This is the idea that a select few should not have possessions that the masses don’t also have access to. This is a prime example of how limited the people are in their knowledge of how wealth is created and how that process is beneficial to all.
What anti-capitalists don’t understand about the advancement and progress of technology, industry and markets is that overtime what once seemed unattainable and luxurious eventually becomes the norm and even sub-par. This process is how
People are so blinded by their present-day greed or envy or even disgust that they don’t realize that someday, in the future, what you have a demand for, yet see as unattainable today will eventually become a common good or even an obsolete good.
It’s these volunteer ‘beta testers”, if you will, who put up their own money to buy high-priced yet typically unrefined goods that pave the way and open up markets for more competition, more supply and more efficiency in production (costs, time and price).
Let’s look at some examples:
Automobiles: Only the rich had cars. Then, because the rich actually spent money and smart people entered the industry, cars became affordable and the masses could have cars. We’ve become so accustomed and spoiled by this becoming the norm that some people are embarrassed of their lower-quality cars. 50 years ago, you’d drive around in a beat up Carola like you were a Rockefeller.
Let’s look at something even simpler than a car.
Running hot water: Today, almost everyone in America has running hot water and we’re getting tot he point that almost everyone on the planet has the same. Sure, in other parts of the world, it’s more rare, but let’s focus on America. 100 to 200 years ago, you’d shower once a week, if lucky, in reused, lukewarm water. Today, we take daily is not multiple showers a day.
Thanks to progress, these things have become the norm, yet we don’t appreciate it. And some people, the anti-capitalist crowd, are to stupid to even realize to be taught.
Look at every industry. Look how Airbags and ABS went from only a Mercedes feature, most couldn’t afford. Today, the worst car has 6 airbags and giant breaks. Look at medical advancements. A 100 years ago, the common cold would kill you. But with the advancement and investment by those vilified rich, those that could afford the emergent, cutting edge treatment, today we have tech available for people how have no money that would seem like science fiction for our great grandparents.
Accumulation of funds and the investment of those funds bring about progress. When people who have brilliant ideas and need the resources and the funding to develop them, that’s what advances humanity. That’s what brings progress. Without the ability of market interaction and voluntary investment, everyone would hoard their ideas and their resources and we’d never accumulate short-lived pools of ideas and funding to ever create new wealth for all to benefit from.
Appreciate what you have and understand that overtime, progress touches us all and we all benefit. Don’t hate those that benefit now due to their ability to afford it for themselves. Their high-priced investment today will help bring that product to the masses for cheap in the future, improving the daily lives of all of society’s members and paving the way for demand of newer and better technology. It’s a beautiful cycle that continues to grow and continues to give to all so long as we all appreciate it’s overall impact.
*This was a comment I had posted on another post, but I liked it too much to let it be lost as an obscure comment, so I made it a post.
flipping through the “news”
“Capitalism” which we live under is oppressive due to the intervention of a coercive government.
Now tell me, if you removed the collection of power and used as force (government) would the idea of voluntary exchange still be corrupt?
You’re an AnCap, let me throw some Rothbard at you: suppose that the government is about to be dissolved, but their last act before this dissolution is to seize and hand over all of the property of Manhattan to the Rockefeller family.
Now, there’s no more GOVERNMENT, so all exchange from hence forth would be “voluntary”… but the property itself is the result of artificial privilege and injustice.
So before we can call a system of voluntary exchange “not corrupt” we have to account for injustices in the distribution of property based on the State privilege we both admit exists.
I think that overtime, it will correct itself and that possession will change hands and dilute and perhaps others will come to own a large share of property or that we might have times of equal ownership and so on. But the markets will remain in flux in terms of who actually holds money simply because life is finite and all of us have a scare amount of time in the planet.
I posit that, more or less, everything should be possessory. All property titles should be “invalidated” and be subjected to the homesteading principle or whatever, so that houses belong to occupants rather than banks, companies belong equally to laborers, all primarily taxpayer-funded projects (including roads, public hospitals, the internet infrastructure, etc) are turned over to the communities utilizing them, etc., and all vacant and unimproved land is immediately declared “unowned”.
I agree and I don’t agree. I think in our current system no one owns anything because there are still property taxes. If these taxes were finite, okay, but they aren’t. I can own a house for 150 years and I’d continue to pay property taxes, which is bullshit.
I also agree that all tax-funded assets should be returned to the public giving all that paid ownership.
But you shouldn’t dissolve property ownership simply because the events leading up to this point were corrupt. #1, that’s the core principle of libertarianism, if you want to eliminate it than you’re not a libertarian. #2 Why not give the market time to correct the previous mistakes that no longer have a corrupt system which is they only way they would be sustainable.
I mean, that’s some murky water, but you see my point. The current distribution of property is fundamentally tainted with the blood of injustice and it cannot be allowed to stand if justice is to prevail; we cannot kill the State but let remain the shadow of its artifice. It’s not a load-bearing boss and tearing it down won’t make its injustices crumble.
You’d have a point if people lived forever and never made mistakes, took risks, leveraged assets but they don’t. People are fallible and that’s why there is income mobility even in our “unjust” system that we currently live under. Yes, even millionaires and billionaires fall off their high horses, even when government helps keep them strapped in.
Now, let’s propose instead that we have this “fairness”, this “justice”.
You are asking me: if I have a loaf of bread and I want to exchange it for, like, a gold coin that you’re willing to give up, or whatever, is this system of true voluntary exchange corrupt?
Nope. I’m down with that.
BUT! That ain’t capitalism.
Yes it is. You created bread decided on a value for it, found a partner for exchange who agreed on your prescribed value and have a good or service to exchange for it. That’s capitalism.
Surprise you though it might, Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand are not the progenitors or curators of the word “capitalism”.
It was Proudhon, Marx, and others who really brought the term into its own. What they meant by the term was “a socioeconomic system where the owners of capital are in control, and obtain profits by using this control to exploit those without control”.
That’s capitalism. It is characterized by hierarchy, wage-labor, absentee-ownership, and economic exploitation.
cap·i·tal·ism/ˈkapətlˌizəm/ Noun: An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.
Not mutual exchange.
Now, if you want to redefine “capitalism” to mean “free exchange, and free exchange alone”, I guess you could say “I support capitalism”, but that is not what capitalism is generally understood to mean. You can call our economy “corporatist”, though it isn’t (corporatism is a fascist idea based on the dividing of the body politic, or “corpus”, into contingent parts such as labor, church, agriculture, investment, blehblahbluh).
If you tell me “I am against power and exploitation and in favor of free and mutual interaction”, then you and I share a philosophy.
Like I said, we agree on a lot of things. We just need to get our definitions paired out to move forward.
But, perhaps we don’t share it all the way.
Suppose, in a free society, we should see that one man, through luck or skill or anything else, has come to dominate the productive capacity in an area. We see that others, desperate to survive, are forced to turn to him by these circumstances, to be paid a wage and obey his orders to produce more wealth for him.
Do you object?
If the people wanted to, they can hold out, collectively. Force the market to come to equilibrium. But if people are willing to enter and stay static at a wage point, that’s their choice.
You can also argue that disgruntled employees are less likely to create wealth for you compared to well compensated employees. Also, without gov’t granted monopoly or a gov’t created barrier to market entry, competing businesses who don’t have the same quality of product but do provide a more attractive employment situation will be created.
I didn’t do a good job formulating this argument because I’m watching the game and my wife is talking to me about why dancers wear stupid close (don’t ask) but I hope you get my point.
Now, if he truly amassed this wealth and conditional power without any compulsion or violence, I’m not gonna go crack his skull and rob him or seize his factory or anything else.
Of course not, they earned it and are entitled to their keep.
But I will support action which frees workers from their dependency on him, whether it is the creation of a cooperative alternative, a commune, or any other system of promoting the independence and autonomy of these workers. I object to the involuntary subordination of his wage laborers; I do not believe that “work or die” is any kind of meaningful choice, and I believe greater choice should be the focus of ALL true anarchists.
But that dependence goes both ways. If they depend on him for wages than he depends on them for their labor/skill.
I think what we disagree on is that no one is forced to work somewhere just like no one is entitled to a specific job.
This isn’t work or die, it’s work or go find another thing to do to survive. But the flip side of it is hire me or find someone else who is as capable at my price level.
I do agree that sometimes the business owner has the market advantage and sometimes the laborer does. Given the specific situation, one will be in a position of power when negotiating wages. However, a business doesn’t exist in a bubble, in the market place, there are seemingly endless employment opportunities. If you can’t find a job which satisfies your income needs with a company, you can move on to another company or you can go at it on your own or you can take a job and work your way up or collectively, with other employees, ask for changes. A lot is possible.
Also, I think you’re disregarding the fact that those business owners don’t maintain monopolies forever (let alone live forever, as discussed). In fact, if you study corporate life spans, most are no different than humans, they grow, maintain and then decline and eventually disappear. How many 100 year old companies exist today, even with the corrupt gov’t-business relationships? What about 200? 300? What about the other way, how many actually last an entire decade? 20 years? 50 years?
Businesses come and go, even with artificial capital infusion. This is a fact.
I don’t think it’s sufficient to simply handwave the circumstances as “voluntary” because “this proto-capitalist hasn’t coerced anyone”; perhaps he has not, but his workers are still getting a bum deal and they deserve better, and conscious and active anarchists should be working to change that.
So my critique of capitalism beyond the State is twofold: first, that the system of power and privilege will be perpetuated long after the coercion stops unless it is corrected, and two that even when a weakened form of that privilege emerges in a truly free and just society, it should be combated, not in a way that harms the emergent proto-capitalist forcefully but in a way that offers greater choice and freedom to those who have become dependent on him.
If you’re down with those two critiques… you’re an anarcho-“capitalist” who is just stuck on a problematic word and there’s hope for you yet, and not an “anarcho”-capitalist who is hopelessly devoid of any common sense.