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Capitalism forever?

Discussion in 'Debates' started by Jemert, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. Jemert

    Jemert Member

    Thank you for your sophisticated reply tehuber1337!
    Of course you're right, but the economic growth is exactly the problem! The economic growth makes divides the world population in a producing part and a consuming part, where the producing part does most of the physical work and the consuming part most of the 'services'. However, because the producing part is depending on the money of the consumers to live, they have no other choice then accepting that they are underpayed and suppressed by other people who have the money and power to do so.
    An example: Economical researchers discovered, after the launch of the first iPad, which is as we all know produced in China, that the iPad could only so affordable because it's producers were underpayed. If the iPad was produced in an American factory that met all the American laws, the price wouldn't be 500 dollar, but 10000 dollar.
  2. Loonylion

    Loonylion Administrator Staff Member

    the ipad is not in the least affordable, it's price is about 3x more than it's worth.
  3. 2DamCerius

    2DamCerius My eyes for your brain...fair trade.

    Um, if I hear you correctly the businesses who pay their employees drive a hard bargain, but at least workers are getting paid. I don't think each of those businesses would give higher wages just to lose profit because the whole point of starting a company is to make money unless there is a union for workers to compensate for their income.
  4. Eadelas25

    Eadelas25 Well-Known Member

    Capitalism is perfect for humans, it's just like survival of the fittest, the strong survive in business. That's the spirit of capitalism, you gotta be ruthless to get to the top and absolutely merciless to stay on top. That's how we are, we take advantage of others to further our own goals. Human nature is defined by greed and greed is good. It makes us strive for goals which may seem impossible like our greed for knowledge led us to send that rover to Mars and send people to the moon.

    People are gonna be stepped on in a capitalist society, but that's a small price to pay for progress I say.
  5. Jemert

    Jemert Member

    Thanks for your reply Eadelas25! You only forget that the people that are stepped on do all the work! And I think capitalism is indeed perfect for humans, but will it stay perfect as our numbers grow and our earth remains the same size? We need to make a choice and capitalism isn't the right one. Growth and profit are nice things, but there's not much to grow if the planet which we live on doesn't grow with us. If our resources won't be used all in fifty years, then they will be in hundred years. And after more than fifty years of space research we A) didn't find a replacement for Earth and B) didn't find a way to transport ourselves efficiently through space. So I think we should start some day with sharing our resources with others and being responsable for this earth together. But remember this is my personal thoughts!
  6. Suiseiseki

    Suiseiseki Well-Known Member

    That's like saying "take away lion teeth and claws and you'll find that lions are far from apex predators".

    Shifting the goalposts is juvenile and doesn't reflect reality in the slightest.
  7. Loonylion

    Loonylion Administrator Staff Member

    incorrect. Teeth and claws are natural and part of the animal's body, technology is not part of a human's anatomy.

    In either case there are several hundred species of bacteria we can't kill.
  8. Suiseiseki

    Suiseiseki Well-Known Member

    Technology is an inherent part of our development as a species, it's a legitimate comparison.

    In any case, I feel I should point out that you haven't contributed anything useful to the initial point.
  9. tehuber1337

    tehuber1337 Well-Known Member

    It's true that there is a gap in wealth, and it's true that many companies exploit this gap. However, this doesn't directly imply the less wealthy citizens are themselves being exploited, and despite my disdain for Apple, it doesn't mean that these companies are acting maliciously. It's simply the case that wealth begets wealth.

    What exactly are you asking for? Higher wages? That leads to inflation, which is not true economic growth - this just widens the economic gap further. Economics isn't so simple that you can just redistribute wealth and expect everything to carry on as it does today. I don't know how much Chinese iPad factory workers were paid or what the average salary is there, but China wouldn't really be any better off if Apple had paid them more. You have to remember that money has no value in and of itself. It's all about the goods and services that you can obtain with it. Money is basically a medium for the exchange of labour and desires. More labour for less money doesn't necessarily equate to less sating of desires if those desires are cheaper, as is the case in China.

    On a tangentially-related note, studies have been done on happiness levels. Having more wealth doesn't make people happier in the long term - they might be ecstatic for a short time, but eventually their happiness level returns to the same average.

    Obviously he was talking generally.

    Technological development being done intentionally does not mean it's not also a form of evolution. Or to put it another way, we have evolved the ability and the intelligence to intentionally develop technology, and that's what's put us ahead of the rest of nature. Haven't you ever seen 2001: A Space Odyssey?
  10. Devon

    Devon Well-Known Member

    Bacteria? That's your answer, really? Do I have to write footnotes for my question so stupid answers like this can't be given?

    Also, thanks for butting in.
  11. Seph

    Seph Administrator Staff Member

    The issue here is that you seem to think that because your argument applies to evolution it is equally valid for human society as a whole. Unfortunately this is not really the case. Evolution does not deal with humanity or society at all, it deals with dna and how you get the strongest possible dna for a given environment. It achieves this by simple variance testing of mutations over millions of years, one small change and then if it survives enough times it gets to stay and spread enough that we consider ourselves evolved.

    How does this relate to human society? Well it doesn't at all. Evolution assumes that either A OR B. It's a boolean where one wins all the time. Society on the other hand is often more nuanced and contain A OR B, A AND B and NULL (neither A nor B). The most famous examples of this being explored intellectually are probably the popular game-theory scenarios called Hawk-Dove and Prisoners Dilemma.

    In the prisoners dilemma you have two criminals who have been caught but only have weak evidence against them. They each stand to serve only 2 months in prison for a minor crime, however, if they testify against the other person then they get to walk free and the other person get to spend several years in prison. If they both keep silent they only serve 2 months each, if they both talk they both serve several years. In this case it's obviously in their common interest to keep silent so that they each serve the minimum amount of time, however, it's also in their personal interest to talk - provided the other person doesn't.

    The Hawk-Dove game is similar but a bit more complex as it allows for more variables to describe society, however, the gist of it is that in a society with limited resources you sometimes have to share resources. In a population some people are hawks and some people are doves. When two doves meet each other they prefer to co-operate, when a hawk and a dove meet the hawk will kill the dove and take all the resources and when two hawks meet they will fight to the death for the resources. With these game rules you can then try different scenarios depending on how many hawks and doves you add to the game. What's interesting is that the game ends up eventually reaching an equilibrium on the amount of doves and hawks in the game as the hawks will kill each others off.

    What this game simulates is a *very* simplified form of society, actual society is of course much more complex but the fact that evolution is binary and these simple games show that society is anything but means that the argument of "Capitalism is good, just look at evolution, the strongest survive!" is logically false. In fact, it's just the opposite, in a game of Hawk-Dove with only hawks society dies out as the hawks kill each other.

    What's even more fascinating is that evolution actually supports this implicitly. Imagine that you're playing a game of football and you catch a player cheating. What do you feel? Well you feel that he has wronged you, he's taken an unfair advantage by breaking the rules of the game, thus ensuring his own success at the expense of others. Essentially your brain evolved in a way that it can detect unfairness and make you dislike this. You are wired to co-operate with your fellow humans(*1) because a society that co-operates is more likely to survive and prosper. Evolutionary wise the people who co-operate survived and those who didn't died out more often than not. The gene for non co-operation still exists, though, today we just classify it as a mental disorder called being a sociopath when it's most extreme.

    So there you have it, pure capitalism is not what's best for society or the economy. Capitalism is good for the people at the top keeping the rest down. A healthy society that will face a bright future is one that rewards hard work and helping other people grow and prosper. It's one where people work together for the better of the common goal rather than for individual glory. Society is a group of people, not a single individual.

    *1: Side note, unfortunately we also evolved with a keen sense of fellowship but lack the ability to be familiar with a lot of people. Thus we evolved methods to not only judge the trustworthiness of other people but also entire groups at an instant. Even more unfortunately we distrust people who are different from ourselves, thus giving rise to racism and xenophobia. Traits we will have to get rid of if we are to ever truly prosper as a genetically diverse human race.
  12. tehuber1337

    tehuber1337 Well-Known Member

    Capitalism is all about cooperation. When you see a niche in the market, you fill it. You provide services that nobody else does, and you profit as a result. As an entrepreneur, you should know this full well.

    Read up what I said about the individual hand on the first page. Individuals acting in self-interest lead to the greatest public good.

    Evolution works on genetic diversity, so it makes no sense that we'd evolve against it. More likely, it's simply an application of the primitive "us vs not-us" mentality, where one group could only survive at the expense of the other.

    Fun fact: Something like 99.97% of DNA is identical across all humans. The remaining 0.03% is entirely responsible for all differences between people.
  13. necr0

    necr0 Well-Known Member

    Beautiful Seph.
    You get straight As in university?
  14. Jemert

    Jemert Member

    Wow, nice job Seph! I think I agree with you. Society does not work if everybody only thinks for themselves. However, my idea was not to give everybody the same amount of money, but just make sure that everybody can live under reasonable circumstances and that others do not keep all the resources for themselves. Think about the system as it is now. What is the point of one man having billions of money while his government can't pay the health or education system? One man can never spend that amount of money in his entire life. Our system has to be changed in such a way that with great power really comes great responsibility.
  15. Seph

    Seph Administrator Staff Member

    As an entrepreneur I call this entrepreneurship - this is a part of capitalism but it's certainly the entirety or even a major part. Lets quote Wikipedia because we all know how awesome of a resource that is. "Capitalism is an economic system in which capital assets are privately owned and goods and services are produced for profit in a market economy"

    You quote Adam Smith, I assume from Wealth of Nations published in 1776, if not then the period is still roughly the same. This has no bearing on modern capitalism.

    This whole arguments builds on the conclusion that people invest in local industry because it promotes their own security better and as a side effect it improves local society.

    That's adorable. What it's not, is modern capitalism. Modern capitalism is a numbers game, it's profit margin, it's about reducing costs and increasing revenue. This is done through outsourcing local jobs to cheap areas, it's done by price fixing with the competition you cannot beat and by ruthlessly bullying the competition you can beat.

    No it doesn't. Evolution is simple A/B testing done over time. Evolution only results in genetic diversity because that happens to provide a stronger set of genes that are more likely to survive and procreate. Even then, it's not something that scales, you can't make the argument that because genetic diversity is better than inbreeding then the greater the diversity the better. If a black and white person happen to procreate that's not necessarily a better set of genes than if two white people or two black people procreate.

    Now, are you actually being serious about this or are you just trying to see how much bullshit that resembles a truth you can get away with before someone calls you out on it?
  16. tehuber1337

    tehuber1337 Well-Known Member

    Strawmen, strawmen everywhere.

    You're splitting hairs. Fine, I'll clarify that I meant free-market (laissez-faire) capitalism, in which the invisible hand manifests. It's observable in truly competitive markets, such as commodity markets, and there is much empirical evidence supporting it. What you're talking about are not free, competitive markets, but oligopolies. Protip: price-fixing, collusion and all those other shady acts are known as antitrust actions and they're illegal in any free-market nation.

    Now, what you're doing is you're looking at things from the perspective of a single nation or community, in which importation of products and outsourcing of labour are bad for the local economy. However, in the global economy such externalities do not exist. Spending money overseas supports people overseas. Is this not exactly what OP was asking for? The only difference is that, from our positions of relative wealth, it seems that citizens of undeveloped nations receive less pay than we would receive for the same job. However as I said, this is a merely a matter of purchasing power.

    I never said that diversity will necessarily produce better results. That's a strawman argument.

    >Evolution doesn't work on genetic diversity
    >It just happens that evolution works best on genetic diversity
    >Evolution doesn't scale
    >It's just that evolution only works over millions of years as variations aggregate

    Do you even read what you're writing?

    I could ask you the exact same thing. I suggest you stick to business rather than economics or evolutionary biology.
  17. Icarus007

    Icarus007 Well-Known Member

    i think the top has become a tangent going from capitalism to evolution.

    In a world as diverse as ours you cannot have total equality because you cannot make people of different ethnic backgrounds,castes,sects,communities,religious beliefs see the same thing .we cannot make two humans equal because they are never same.There will always be people one level below you and there will always be people one level above you.Equality doesn't work because it is in human nature to want more (Greedy us).And that's why Capitalism is forever.......

    Think of a privilege You get when you Are a Capitalist.When You harvest what you sow you keep it and nobody is bothered or you can give to society and feel good.

    It's a dog Eat dog world and if you do not take the opportunity some other fool will take it.

    It's always about "More". More money.More food,More this,more that,etc.That is capitalism on the smallest level.
  18. Niflheim

    Niflheim Horrible evil rat

    Who are you quoting?
  19. Nachtholm

    Nachtholm Member

    I'm sure our well-read friend who quoted Adam West himself will be familiar with this idea, but here I go anyways.

    Before I really start, evolution as a allegory for capitalism paints the system as it is not. Evolution is a case of predator/prey and organism/environment interactions. Economic relations within the framework of capitalism are purely single-species, social interactions. Survival of the fittest has nothing to do with it. The wealth comes to the individual who can best concentrate power and gather followers (or workers and customers). As such, a more appropriate allegory would come from political science rather than biological science. In which case, a better outside idea would be that of the "natural state" as posited by Hobbes in the book Leviathan.

    Now, back on topic...

    Capitalism has a major flaw with it. This is the fact that without a frontier (or extreme underclass) to strip for resources and labor Capitalism will fall apart. The invisible hand only functions when there are more resources to be had, as the market is a naturally expanding creature. Without expansion, Capitalism will slowly move towards stagnation which will result in a massive concentration of power. At this moment Capitalism ceases to be Capitalism and reverts to Mercantilism (Or what passes for capitalism today). As such, Capitalism is a self defeating system, completely unsustainable in a world of finite resources. This is despite the fact that the major reason Capitalism exists is to distribute the admittedly finite resources of our world. As it stands though, Capitalism, flawed as it is, happens to be the best system we have at the moment.

    Thus, the best we can do for Capitalism as a system is to regulate and restrict the movements of markets in order to prevent the kind of market concentration which results in the reversion to Mercantilism. An example of this done successfully would be the Glass-Stealgle Act (R.I.P.), which prevented banks from taking the money deposited to savings and checking accounts and using it in overly risky investments. This law also forced the separation of investment banking companies and savings and loan banks (aka the bank you deal with in most cases). Capitalism as a suicidal system requires a firm guiding hand to ensure that all participants (both consumers and producers) are playing by the same rules, and furthermore preventing anyone from "winning" the giant, real-life game of Monopoly (or more frequently Oligopoly).

    The only two solutions to the problem of diminishing frontiers that I can see are either the return of slavery or the invention of the Star Trek replicator which will function to completely remove the issue of finite resources. Of course, who knows what a world without the pressure of finite resources would be....
  20. Loonylion

    Loonylion Administrator Staff Member

    It won't. The replicators themselves need raw materials ('replicator rations') in the series, which are finite.