Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,

This conversation is closed.

Is capitalism sustainable?

Bono stated in his TED2013 talk that the numbers show that we can eradicate all poverty worldwide by 2030. While I really hope that is true, it begs the question: Is capitalism sustainable? Is it possible to have a rich and middle class without a poor class? The sad reality of capitalism is that if there is an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, there has to be an exponentially long tail of much poorer people who are each contributing to that wealth. Not that we necessarily need an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, but would the world keep running without capitalistic incentives that increase the separation between rich and poor? Can we eradicate all poverty without the rich sharing their riches? What happens to civilization when nobody is willing to work in the factories and orchards, or build roads?

(Please don't take this question the wrong way! Personally I wish that nobody had to work menial jobs. I just don't understand how we can eradicate poverty when so many jobs will always translate into low-paid labor.)

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    Feb 28 2013: Another idea borrowed from nature. Young trees may double in size in one year, but old trees barely grow at all - only dead branches fall off. The idea of artificial sustenance of corporate behemoths because they are "too big to fail" is strange. Perhaps, they are "too big not to fail". A huge tree falling may damage a few things, but it will open a huge spot under the sun and create opportunity for growth.

    Would it make sense to force corporations larger than a certain size to split into smaller entities? This would prevent enormous concentration of corporate capital, whereas personal wealth should not be limited to leave the incentive for growth. Same idea as anti-monoply laws taken a bit farther.
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    Feb 27 2013: The question is not whether capitalism is sustainable but whether capitalism as we see it today is. Once again nature and its myriad systems become our teachers here. It is inevitable that resources/energy will always flow from where they are high to where they are low. If we consider the energy currency our own body uses (glucose/ATP), we find that the excess glucose is stored away as glycogen in the liver. But then this storage capacity is not indefinite and our system finds ways to bleed off this excess storage in a manner that is salubrious to the entire system. Because too much of glycogen storage becomes toxic to the body and manifests as disease. In a similar vein, too much money concentrated in the hands of few individuals would become toxic to the entire financial system unless there are viable valves to bleed off the excess in such a manner as to benefit human society at large. And needless to say that the present global financial system is diseased for the lack of such bleeder valves. And surely, if the system follows the same trajectory as of now, it is doomed to collapse in a heap in the near future. We need to learn from mother nature as to how it manages biological systems and apply the same laws to our financial systems for long term sustenance and viability. Dr Sivaram Hariharan , Bhaarath (India)
    • Mar 2 2013: I like your analogy Dr. Hariharan. The sugar aspect rings true with me. Here is why.

      When I was in school we studied 'populations'. We did an experiment where we put fruit flies in a jar with unlimited amount of food (honey). We counted the fruit flies (living) everyday and presented the data on a graph. The shape of the graph was an exponential curve (X=Y squared) starting with 2 fruit flies and curving upwards in a dramatic increase until one day there were suddenly no fruit flies. The reason why they all died suddenly was pollution. We were told that other experiments with various living things had the same results: exponential population growth ending in sudden and complete death.

      Is capitalism sustainable? Capitalism is the same expression as the fruit flies devouring the honey. It is gluttony. It is nature and it is frenzy. We are more natural than we are intelligent. Everything we do today is refined and perfected and purified like a powerful drug and like honey. Our food is full of sugar to a point that it is killing us. But what is really going to kill us is pollution. If we graph our population numbers we see the curve is rising along with an atmosphere of frenzy and the silent killer, pollution.
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        Mar 2 2013: Greg, U are so right when U say that we are more natural than intelligent. In fact, I would say that is a compliment to us humans because the intelligence governing natural systems is far far beyond what a human being could conjure at least at this point of time. Maybe, in the far future, provided we do not annihilate each other in wars and terrorism or even through suicidal eco-destruction, human intellect could catch up with this natural intelligence that is inherent in all things living and non-living in this universe. Regardless, Resource Management Systems in nature are ALWAYS regulated. There is no space for excess for even the goodies, leave alone those that are detrimental to the system. There is stringent regulation at all times and at all points so that the system does not get skewed and tips over irreversibly. That would explain the financial collapse of 2008 because the intellectual (albeit theoretical) financial derivatives that were supposed to click big time failed in the real world in absence of tough balances and checks. Each and every aspect of bio systems, starting from a simple virus cell to a complex ecosystem is finely balanced and regulated Greg. Thanks for your reply. Dr Sivaram Hariharan, Bhaarath (India).
        • Mar 8 2013: Natural systems are forced into this though. Too many wolves eat all the game, wolves then die of starvation which allow the game to recover in population thus maintaining the system. We as human are creative enough to circumvent this process by simply breeding more livestock or growing more crops. Agricultural revolution allowed for a tremendous population boom. The advancement of medicine pushed this gain higher still and continues to do so to this day. In advanced enough economies, people tend to have less children. We in the US are currently at 1.9 children per household, which is below the replacement rate. Our population would be shrinking and heading towards a more sustainable path if it were not for social security troubles forcing a looser immigration policy to meet these commitments.
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    Mar 18 2013: It depends on what we mean by sustainable. Capitalism itself just refers to people being free to trade amongst themselves. Even in the worst market failures those transactions can still go on. Peoples lives are worse, but capitalism doesn't end when it fails to deliver prosperity. Will the divide between rich and poor bring an end to capitalism? I doubt it. The poor can still trade what little they have and the rich do like to spend money (after all, why be rich and live in a tent?). Bankers can cheat, markets can collapse, giant corporations can go bankrupt, but capitalism lives on.

    The only thing that can end capitalism is a totalitarian regime that prevents people from trading amongst themselves. Can that happen? Well its possible, and perhaps more likely when the masses feel exploited by big business. Discontent gives the would be tyrants fuel for their propaganda. If that outcome is inevitable, then capitalism is unsustainable.

    What's unsustainable is what we have been getting from capitalism. Our economy is unsustainable, even if capitalism is not. In a pure free market society free of all regulation, business would catch every last fish in the sea, cut down every tree in the forest, pollute every river, and burn every last drop of oil.
  • Mar 16 2013: Most of the "poor" in the US are 1%ers on the global scale.

    When few enough people want the menial jobs, the pay will increase until those jobs are filled by those willing to do them.

    We need to get government out of commerce because monopolies almost invariably come from government favor. The small number of people with extreme wealth result from government regulation preventing competition either from other businesses or from people replacing them on the board of directors in their current company.

    Free markets are sustainable. Socialism is not. The problem with the current system in the US is that people hurt by unethical profit (fraud, poisoning air/water, whatever) cannot get justice from the court system. When that is corrected, the make-a-buck-at-all-cost folks will pay through the nose (or be imprisoned) for harming others. So to answer your question, capitalism as practiced in the US is unsustainable. An actual free society with free markets is sustainable - if we understand what liberty is instead of continually voting for people who work against it. Most people (TED viewers included) do not understand liberty and could not explain its basic tenets. Research classical liberalism to see how far astray liberalism has gone.
    • Mar 16 2013: YES! This is it exactly. What we have now in the US is not really capitalism and it's frustrating to see it designated like that. Well said sir!
    • Mar 17 2013: Ray,

      Can you define socialism in a way that Socialists would recognise, and then show how it is not sustainable?

      The OED defines it this:

      "A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole."

      This applies to many many many systems we have in the UK, the US and literally all over the world, with which we have no problem. (except the very difficult problem of the ecological footprint which is common to public and private sector alike). Your local policeman, your medicare and your fireman is the product of a socialist philosophy - is that somehow intrinsically unsustainable? Is Denmark somehow less sustainable than the US?

      Otoh, free markets are sustaining a more and more rapid depletion of the earth's physical and biological resources. How are you going to deal with that. Sue them in court for destroying the Public Environment?

      All the courts will achieve for you is more legislative activity - crime of all sorts will increase as it becomes more normalised and the social overhead of the legal system will increase.....its already too high.

      Sorry, I don't get much of what you said in your post at all.

      Alan
  • Mar 2 2013: The issue is not capitalism, the issue is that the rich and powerful tilt the system in their favor. Proper capitalism requires that no single person or company has enough wealth to manipulate the system - i.e. bribe officials, buy out the competition, fix prices, pay the $100,000 because they're making $1,000,000 breaking the law, etc. Not that the level of wealth has to be perfectly equal, but there has to be a relatively equal level and there has to be constant movement of money I think. There also is some incentive in wanting money, and there's nothing wrong with that - as long as you remember to be more generous as you gather more wealth. As much as I appreciate people who give away millions of dollars, if that's still only 1% of your income or if you have enough money to keep you wealthy for 5 lifetimes, that's not being generous enough.

    I expect there will always be people who are "rich" and people who are "poor" but I think what Bono is mainly saying is that people don't have to be destitute anymore, and he is right I think. There's also more involved than just flat out economics I think.
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      Mar 2 2013: I think you got it right. Simplistically, capitalism is one who invests his "capital" in a manner to make a profit with the knowledge that he may not make a profit and could lose his investment. And many do.
      The problem as you point out is when cheating is going on. There seems to be a lot of that. So called crony capitalism, bribery (aka campaign contributions), to many more to list, and the worse part is that even when exposed, it is not punished.
      The morality of being charitable, I don't think can be or should be measured. If a wealthy man only gives a small percentage away, I can not say that it is enough or not enough. I am not the one to make moral judgments. Although, I will admit that I am most pleased when I hear of a generous donation to a cause I favor.
      • Mar 3 2013: I am not much for measuring specific numbers either despite what I said, but I do believe in being generous in accordance with how much money you have. This is the moral principle that I was getting at.

        I think there is a distinct difference between pointing out what should be done and going up to someone and saying "Hey you, you're not doing it right".
    • Mar 3 2013: Andrew, Capitalism IS about money tilting systems one way or the other. You are arguing for the continuance of this biased, closed-loop exchange of money in the upper reaches of Marx's "commanding heights" any time you support Big C Capitalism.

      Do not bother dragging morality into the conversation, for there is nowhere to measure it on your balance sheet. Cheating is also a relative term, not measureable in the capitalist system. Ponzi and Madoff were financial geniuses until they got caught. The current "investigations" (stage show) into the too-big-to hold-accountable-to-any-laws corporate giants are a marker for the end times of the Capitalist Agenda. We are in the Randian dream of complete societal control by an oligarchial elite; the spigot is almost in place on the Fountainhead.

      Monsanto wants a monopoly on food, so we are giving it to them. Bechtel is buying the water rights to the third world. And the IMF and World Bank continue to mandate destruction of native ecosystem as the ticket for inclusion to the new world economy, despite any local sentiment otherwise. And you guys want to think it is a handful of bad actors?

      The Capitalist system is governed by a good book; unfortunately it is The Prince, and absolute power is going to be awfully hard to overcome as it is, without all this talk about how at least the trains run on time...
      Like religion we find inconvenient, we start relabeling the parts of our scipture we find distasteful. ALL capitalism is crony capitalism at some level, most trades are inside trades (if done by any financial institution). The key tenet to the religion at question is "money rules". Moral dilemma? See rule one. Ethical question? See rule one. This is not a sustainable model, as no unjust system ever is, but a lot of money will fight to hold onto it as long as possible. And as long as capital creates a commanding height, there will be a fight for that real estate. We must create more parity in capital to acieve social justice
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        Mar 3 2013: capitalizing words does not constitute an argument. "money tilting system" is a meaningless term. you are so far away from understanding how the economy works, it is painful to watch
        • Mar 14 2013: Witnessing the world's most eminent economists all scratching their heads wondering what to do next, is painful to watch.
          It would appear, to me, that there are only two types of economists. The first one knows it is all a con and the other pretends to know what he is talking about, like the emperors new clothing.
          As others have commented, capitalism is the problem not the solution. It is a system that encourages bad behaviour. We don't legislate against good behaviour it's for all the bad.
      • Mar 3 2013: The fact that people corrupted what grew out of the pure seed does not mean that the seed is not pure.

        Capitalism in America is pretty messed up, it is systemically messed up all over the world even, but once you start to understand capitalism as it was intended before people started screwing with it for their own benefit you will see that in of itself it is a good idea.

        Every good idea has been corrupted or misunderstood at some point or another. It's just part of the standard of living in this world. You have to get good at seeing what is pure and hanging onto those individual parts of systems and ideas. Most people don't learn that though I think because most people don't ever grow up and start questioning their assumptions and using honest logic. It is way to easy to use blinders to see the world.

        Edit:
        All across human understanding you run into two ideas: something that is posited, which either means assumed to exist or describes something the way it should be, and normative, which is how it actually is. So basically what is going on is I am talking about positive capitalism and you are talking about normative capitalism. It's an important distinction to draw I think.
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    Feb 27 2013: I think the poverty that Bono spoke about was "extreme poverty" - Coming from Africa I get the feeling that the kind of poverty that is experienced around the world is very subjective. Using words like poverty are infective - I know people who are rich in culture, family, natural and resources, fresh air, clean water and happiness. But are convinced that they are poor because they don't' have cash or a TV. I don't think that our current model of capital is sustainable beacuse it does not capture natural assets or their services, nor does it capture the costs of exploitation and use. Capitalism 's causing the utter destruction of natural environments and like Salgado said, "it's a complete contradiction to develop by destroying everything around us". I work on elephant conservation and it is capitalism that drives lust for ivory in Asia, and it's this lust that is driving elephants to extinction. The rarer the elephants the more valuable the ivory, which is driving the poaching .. it's a vicious cycle.
  • Feb 27 2013: i think yes, but not in the current way capitalism is pursued. getting rich by doing well is great, getting rich by ensuring that funds go to you instead of others is not.

    for example if your product is more convenient and useful then you'll ell more and make more money, which is great capitalism. say your profits are up 10% thanks to the hard work of the employees but only a 5% pay increase is given even though they were responsible for increasing production by 10%, that is wrong. so is firing an employee who has worked hard just because you found someone who will do it for less, or firing a couple of employees and then making the others cover the workload. clearly keeping lower wages low for the sole purpose of raising wages that are already higher is wrong. everybody should get the same % increase.

    personally i favour a 'benjamin franklin law' - an upper limit on wealth, say anything above $2m a year to be taxed at 100%. the name because ben franklin got extremely rich from his printing business, and instead of going for more and more he realised that he had more than enough yearly income to live extremely comfortably on, and started to work on scientific research, deliberately not patenting his discoveries in order to give back to the society that had given him so much.

    i think it's important to remember that every dollar someone has is a dollar that someone else doesn't have, we don't ever make any money. there's nothing wrong with pursuing wealth and riches, however there is something very wrong with enriching yourself at the cost of others, who similarly must be allowed to pursue wealth and riches.
  • Mar 18 2013: Let me suggest some counter-points about the pro- or anti-capitalism:
    1. Capitalism, in my view, has existed long before the modern version of capitalism. For example if a person had a skill or talent like an artist or musician or an architect, even someone having good business sense, he would gain wealth and power under even the feudal system whenever their talent was appreciated by those in power. Even without too much of a monetary system, an excellent craftsman can demand lot of money OR other commodity OR real estate in exchange for his "products" The only difference from then and now is the tremendous improvement of media communication as well as the industrial productivity.
    2. It seems to me that the switch from the feudal system to the modern democracy had only a chaotic buffer zone, that is rather poignant, such as the French revolution and the communism under Stalin and Mao. The communist regimes claimed the wealth redistribution with complete destruction of capitalism. However, the results, put in a simplistic term, turns out to have all poor people and nothing else.
    3. The continuation of emperors by family inheritance was similar to a random drawing of a "ruler", but the system produced, at best, a 50-50 chance of a good or bad rulers.
    4. In comparing the livelihood of the "poor" in the past and now' from an objective view, I think the current poor are still a little better than before. More precisely there were still concentration of wealth in a precious few under the feudal system anyway.
    5. The government structure of a democracy should be strictly adhere to the initial Constitution, with shorter term limits. The 2 major parties should occupy one quarter each of the congressional seats, and at lease 30% of the seats should be allotted to independent candidates nominated by the voters in each state. Any amendment to the Constitution should be approved by 90% of all the states. Any change in tax rates should be approved by super majority in congress.
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      Mar 18 2013: Bart, you have good points. If I may, address a few that I believe could be tweaked.
      I am not sure how the change of the two parties in congress on a timely basis would create the stability you address. I see not much difference in the 2 major parties as we have. The self described fringe elements are the only definable differences between the two. Further I am not sure there would be 30% of independents available. Most Americans are committed to the banners of the 2 major parties.
      I think that a 67% approval rate is sufficient to amend the constitution. A higher rate could be more difficult to get any agreement. The last amendment passed was first proposed as the 11th amendment in the bill of rights. That's 200 years ago. I understand we have a number of proposed amendments still pending ratification. I have no problem with a tax to support the Federal Government, but the 16th amendment is an open check. CJSCOTUS pointed that out last year when the Healthcare bill was passed. We need a fairly proportioned tax, but the tax should be sufficient to operate a Federal Government. It was not intended to fund every hair brained idea that could be conjectured no matter how noble it was painted to be.
      The Federal Government is the most wasteful in the expensing of funds. That is why I have proposed limiting the scope of the Federal government to just those tasks specifically addressed in the constitution and to relook/repeal all the programs the Feds have taken on.
      • Mar 18 2013: Mike, I had read your previous comment on the limitation of the structure of the Federal government.. I fully support the limiting government functions and spending, but in my opinion, the limiting of the government structure can never be completed if we are in grid lock and the Congress is monopolized by the two major parties. For example the Democratic Party are unilaterally increasing the bureaus or sub-agencies under each of the departments even when you restrict the number of departments. So if the Congress is consisted of subgroups of independents, then it can restrict even such sneaky attacks by the administration or a single party by cutting off the funding of any such expansion. This unique weapon with the congress was really the very correct stipulation in the constitution. However, the majority party and the president could skirt this congressional power by passing no budgets, and also by illegal recess appointments which is now in court fight.
        The election of the congressional members can be done by by cutting back the number of congressional districts and add on a number of at-large members from statewide nomination with a loosened minimum endorsement requirement for the independent candidates.
        We can use any other methods for such structural composition in the congress. But the important point is that we should definitely crack the two-party rule so that there could be less gridlock and monopoly (duopoly?) of this important constitutional function and intent.
    • Mar 22 2013: 1) It seems we have devolved back to a feudal system, albeit global and without boundaries. The "Lords of the Forbes List" have an aristocratic hold on political bodies, no different than in the past.
      2) I like the Parliamentary System where you vote locally, the party with the most seats is in control, unless not majority and need to form a coalition government. The party selects the leader, but if within 6 years, he or she gets a no confidence vote, then new elections are held and quickly.
      3) Profoundly said earns a TED Cred
  • Mar 16 2013: The capitalism we know, which I refer to as American Capitalism, is most definitely NOT sustainable.

    Capitalism is not, as is assumed in its American form, a socio-economic system. It is solely an economic system. It is one of the two major systems at work in our society; the other is the social system. Two different systems. Two different goals. Two different methods of meeting those goals.

    The part of our society that allows direct line inheritance of wealth is more part of the social system than of the economic system It is a holdover from feudalism. It is the rot at the heart of the whole society we have developed.

    Capitalism MUST be competitive in order to operate properly. It MUST be relatively fair in order to be long term sustainable. Our present form of capitalism is neither.

    We can correct these problems by having generational inheritance of wealth instead of direct line inheritance. This means that the wealth of anyone who dies would be shared up amongst those who are born. Thus all members of society would receive a relatively identical birthright/inheritance. This would allow of fair competition as all would start from roughly the same starting line.

    This also keeps the money moving. The whole population can spend a lot more money than a few rich kids. We ALL contribute to the wealth that our society creates. We ought to ALL benefit by it. The ability of a few members of our society to amass large portions of the wealth that is created by all of us, working in co-operation with each other, is killing our society.

    In a society where we use capitalist economics as a tool to meet social needs, we'll not have poverty. Poverty is created by some few people having a majority of the wealth. They have NOT "earned" this wealth - only found ways to amass it.

    Citizens' Capitalism, where the social system controls the economic system is the only way to ensure that capitalism - a fine economic system basically - MUST serve the society. Not vice-versa!
    • Mar 16 2013: Hear, hear Larry, fine points. Unfortunately I don't think generational inheritance of wealth instead of direct line inheritance will ever occur. Oligarchs will sell their businesses to their kids for a dollar.

      Capitalism in its current form is inherently biased, discriminatory and unfair. A seemingly fickle case in point is not every musician can be a pop star. Many unknown musicians are more talented than many pop stars so it's not talent that dictates who rises to the top but often less savory aspects such as which talent can be manipulated by managers and record companies.

      On a societal level when I was a kid my 6th grade teacher hypothesized that technology would enable us to work a 4 day week because it would drive down the cost of living and automate many jobs. 35 years later and I don't see any sign of society doing a 4 day week and while technology has driven down the cost of doing business for many companies they haven't reciprocated by paying people the same to work a day less.

      Another case in point being that capitalism is elitist. If you come into this world with a low IQ or a mental/physical deficiency, or you acquire one along the way then pure capitalism will throw you to the wolves. In it's purist form it doesn't have a social conscience. So I don't think it is sustainable in its current form. And unless the richest 10% contribute a lot more to the social fabric of society then as history has shown us revolutions often follow. Only today kings have been replaced by corporations. Many as unethical as their royal predecessors.

      I personally like the idea of capitalism. You get out what you put in. Theoretically. Only it doesn't always work out that way and you often get less than you put in due to an advantage your competition has over you. When that advantage is fair then fair enough, but fair advantage is often a euphemism that someone hasn't done their job properly and achieved an unfair advantage. Which is what the top 10% have now.
      • Mar 16 2013: Steve,
        In our present form of capitalism it is able, as you say, to be what it is. Take especial note that I divide the society's major systems and do not amalgamate them as in present day thinking. What has happened is that the economic system, capitalism, has come to dominate the social system. We now try to live according to the dictates of what is good for the economic system. This is the tail wagging the dog.

        It is not proper or workable for the economic system to determine the precepts of the social system. We do NOT form societies for the benefit of economic systems. We form societies for the benefit of people.

        Now, before we get off on a tangent by blaming the capitalist economic system for all the ills of the society, let me make clear that the economic system is doing what it is wont to do in the exact way that best benefits it. That is its nature. It is up to us to take control of it and use it as the tool that we want it to be. We do that through our social system. It is the job of the social system to establish rules and laws that control the economic system.

        I often liken a capitalist economic system to fire - a wonderful tool when kept firmly in check - but a terrible master if allowed to follow its own nature. Capitalists likewise are NOT evil people who want to turn us all into poverty-stricken slaves. They merely do what is best for their own parts of the economic system. That system rewards them handsomely. But that wealth is NOT created by capitalists. It is created by the whole society and is amassed by capitalists. Our laws allow this.

        And that is our downfall. We have failed to control how the economic system operates and it has taken over our social system. It now dominates us to the point that we even try to live with each other in a dog-eat-dog fashion in our social lives!

        We need, desperately, to get control of the fire. It must be made to work for us - not us for it.
        • Mar 17 2013: Quite right Larry. I like the fire analogy too.

          > It is the job of the social system to establish rules and laws that control the economic system.
          ...
          > We need, desperately, to get control of the fire. It must be made to work for us - not us for it.

          This is a very interesting point but not as easy to accomplish as one might think. Here in Australia we had the government recently try and introduce a mining royalties tax on "massive profits". This was in light of the fact that around 85% of mining profits were going offshore and that the mining companies had hugely whittled down what they pay in tax over the last 15 years.

          Well, as you can imagine the mining companies came out swinging. The ads on TV were almost laughable. Depicting the average Joe saying jobs would be decimated with this tax. It was such a load of rubbish as any thinking person knew there would always be a demand for the resources but of course it had its desired result for the mining companies. A Prime Minister got knifed by his own team even though his popularity was super high in the electorate and the new PM effectively let the mining companies write the rules. The tail wagging the dog as you say. And in the end the government got no boost in revenue as the mining companies sidestepped the little they had to pay. And this is what I hate about the current use of capitalism by the mega rich.

          To top it off the opposition government came out saying they'd abolish the mining profits tax and the carbon tax. A move in my opinion designed to virtually decimate our society in light of the pollution caused by burning coal.

          As I mentioned, the corporations rule the roost and won't relinquish that power anytime soon. The evidence is all around us. Bankers still ripping off the system while the anti Wall St movement has run out of puff.

          The next Bilderberg Group meeting would be where to aim any opposition to how capitalism is being abused. If you can find it...http://g0.to/bilderberg
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      Mar 16 2013: What is it about "wealth"... I will assume you're speaking about those with financial wealth and not a wealth of talents... that upsets people. Macro capitalist ( big corporations) gamble zillions and could loose it all. I hear none of those with your opinion that mourn those who have lost great fortunes. Just the ones that have been successful. Where does it say that society creates financial wealth. most society is employed by capitalist. It is not that they are working for free, they get a salary every week.
      That is their return on their investment of time and effort. If the company they work for goes broke tomorrow, they have lost a job. The owner may have lost everything, his house, all his financial assets, everything. But, if the owner is successful and has a great return on his investment, you make it sound like that is terribly wrong... How come it is only wrong in one direction....
      Equality is not part of your morality?
      • Mar 16 2013: Mike,
        Do not put words in my mouth and then ask me to explain. I DID NOT ever say that one who is successful should not enjoy all the rewards of that success. He should indeed enjoy his wealth so long as it is understood that he could not have gotten that wealth if not for the society in which he is established. A society that provided him with the opportunity and probably the labour and professional employees that he needed.

        That labour must be fairly and properly compensated - none of this paying slave wages nonsense - and he must operate his company as a good corporate citizen without trying to stuff his pockets at the expense of other citizens or the society. A corporation must be morally and ethically responsible and answer to the society in which it operates. That society must establish the laws that keep the economic system - and all parts of that system, including corporations, banks, etc. - in strict control. It is the social system that has this task. It is the lawgiver.

        Upon his death his wealth should be joined with all the wealth of those who've died in a set period (perhaps 3 years) and shared up as a birthright inheritance for all the children born in that same period of time. In this way the wealth, that essentially came from the efforts of the whole society, will be returned to that society. That will give all the children an economically equal start in life. Unlike socialism, that wealth will not be communally owned but will be the private property of the children who inherit it as a birthright. This is very simple; all children will inherit a portion of the wealth of the society in exactly the way the rich man's children inherit his wealth at present. This puts the competition that is at the heart of capitalism on a level playing field; no one born so poor that they cannot compete and no one born so rich that they've already won the competition. In this way all people can live a better life than any socialist system could ever hope to provide.
        • Mar 16 2013: I'm sorry but we all pay taxes for that exact reason: To provide ourselves with a government that keeps the peace. After we've paid taxes then we have no obligation to give the government our hard earned money. If I want to give my money to my kids that's MY right, not your right. If i want to give it to charity, that's also my right. If i want to light it on fire, that's my right. You can't tell ME what to do with MY money. HANDS OFF
      • Mar 17 2013: Mike, Tyler,

        It's nothing about wealth or anyone being envious or trying to steal your money. It's a lot to do with institutionalised unfairness and a culture of selfishness which things are trashing MY society and MY planet.

        I live here and wish to continue doing so. I'm personally keen to build a social system where I am able to live peacefully without people like you disrespectfully trespassing on my commons. I breathe the same air as you and drink the same water. We share - get used to it.


        Your pathetic obsessions of private property are creating real problems all over the planet so Respectfully, if you don't like it on this Earth where you bave to share please go elsewhere. If you can do that without creating excess carbon dioxide and other pollution that would be preferable.
    • Mar 17 2013: Larry,
      I really like your train of thought particularly on generational inheritance - but I'm afraid we're going to fall out over your description of capitalism as an economic system. I think it is actually a religion at best, a political system, or an evil conspiracy cheat the honest of their rightful share at worst.- many, not all, economic functions it delivers can be better achieved by other means.
      • Mar 17 2013: Alan,
        Sorry sir, but I think that capitalism is only an economic system. As such it is a tool that ought to be used by the social system to further social goals and ends. I think you may be confusing what Americans call capitalism - which is their whole society, with the economic system that has come to dominate their whole society. They are wrong.

        The prime reason for this confusion may be that they've not really understood what their social system is, how it works, and what it is for. Thus you have a nation that was set up as a republic trying to operate as a democracy.

        Once you mix the social system with the economic system of a country it becomes very hard to determine where one leaves off and the other begins. In the case of America it has long been mixed and few bother to differentiate the two systems.

        The social system is the prime system. It is the expression of the will of the people. It has responsibility for determining which economic system the society will make use of to reach the goals of that society.

        You may disagree with me but I think that capitalism is an excellent system when not mixed with holdovers from previous systems such as direct-line inheritance from feudalism. It is a dangerous tool to be sure. It must be constantly watched over and regulated strictly. It can never be allowed to get out of hand or to control the social system. Most of those things you say you think are "capitalism", are not. They are part of the social system. Do not confuse the goals or methods of each system with those of the other.

        The proper goal of capitalism is to create wealth. It does so mindlessly. That's its job. It is not required to consider social goals or methods. It is up to the society to establish social controls over its economic system. Capitalism when treated as a tool as dangerous as fire, and strictly controlled, will work for the benefit of the entire society. But that control is absolutely necessary if it is not to burn our butts!
        • Mar 18 2013: Larry, I agree there is a confusion of language and do t disagree with the way you clarify it. But is'nt the term "crony capitalism " relevant in all countries with capitalist economies to some extent, with business interest cosying up to government through lobbying?

          Is this some turning in point in history where commerce and Government separate, in order that a clear direction can be set for our human / social needs?
  • Mar 13 2013: I think that capitalism is not sustainable because it is build on constant growt and creating debt ,and creating money out of nothing.
    We live in a overproduction environment wich brainwashes us sending us impulses through media wich products we have to buy in order to create a desire for it
    All over the world this system is collapsing Europe,USA,and soon we will find out that we depend on eachother because everything is connected .
    Humanity should strive to give every citizen of this planet their basic needs (food ,shelter,healthcare,education) all products that are not urgent we can do without.
    By doing this we create an environment where everybody cares for eachother and create other values then just money.
  • Mar 11 2013: Luke, you bring up a very valid point. However, I believe you are missing a very important fact, and that is some people truly enjoy working, as you call them, menial jobs. My father was a semi truck driver, and he said that he loved it. My uncle spends his days working cattle, and he loves what he is doing with his life. The summer before my Freshman year of college I was a roofer and concrete man on a crew, and I loved what I did. There are men I've worked with who have spent their lives in these "menial" jobs, and they love it. However, there are some that do not. The difference, though, is these men explain why they are doing what they are doing. Mostly, that they made mistakes in their decision making at a young age, and they were unable to escape the consequences. These men don't hold their wealthy fellow Americans responsible for their financial success. These men I've worked with in "menial" jobs in my opinion are noble, wise, and able to earn enough income for necessities.

    Another fact missed is the confusion of true poverty with that of relative poverty. Within the United states there is a significant amount of relative poverty. Relative to Bill Gates most of us are poor, and unable to afford all the amazing things he can. The beautiful thing about capitalism is that if you notice the wealthy begin by getting the "nice" things all to themselves. However, as time goes on those who are relatively poor to the wealthy begin getting the wealthiest bunch's "nice things". The point I am trying to make is that there will always be relative poverty, because it's human nature to compare how well off one is to another. However, we have the ability to use capitalism to minimize actual poverty, and to move on from there. This is such an exciting time to be alive. We have the chance to see the world completely shift, and it is human innovation through capitalism that got us to this point and human innovation through capitalism that will take us forward.
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      Mar 11 2013: Nicely said sir.
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      Mar 11 2013: I could not have said it better.
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      Mar 12 2013: Interesting. But I am not sure, particularly after reading your second para, if you are basing your judgement about 'niceness' of capitalism with a particular country in mind or globally. You taked about relative and true poverty. Here is a reality check.
      #At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
      #More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.
      #The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
      #According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.
      #Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
      #If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
      #Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
      #Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.

      Capitalism is followed almost all over the world. Looks like there is a lot of unfinished business.
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      Mar 12 2013: Well said but I would have to kindly disagree w/most of what you just said.

      it is great that your father and the other individuals you mentioned loved their jobs but you can't possibly credit capitalism for them loving their jobs. They have grown to love what they did because they had no choice but to stick to what they were doing (that is if I read your response right). It is almost like the case with Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill only to have it fall down again. For me that is a problem because it leaves no room for advancement or the freedom to try out other things. Once again it is great that you and the people you know enjoyed what you did for that is rare but I do not think its an argument for capitalism.

      I think you have to understand the harsh reality of capitalism. People are not perfect. Everyone is going to make mistakes with some being more damning than others. Although it may be an individual responsibility that person should have the chance and opportunity to change their life. You can't have that in capitalism. It is possible but if rags to riches stories were common they would not be as remarkable.

      What you said about relative poverty is somewhat true. In the U.S. what we call poverty will be middle class in other cultures. Someone like me who does not make that much of an income, is in the top 20% compared to the rest of the world. We ignore the fact that other people work for only 30cents a day.

      Capitalism in theory sounds nice. If you are referring to capitalism that Adam Smith proposed in the wealth of nations, I am with you but that is not the case in the real world. If you haven't noticed the happiest places to live are not capitalistic countries, it the N.European socialist countries. According to Gallup polls, the U.S. was ranked #11.

      All in all, if i had to paint a vision for the future, it would be modeled off the N.European counties as opposed to capitalistic ones!!!!
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      Mar 13 2013: Why should labourer's work be valued so poorly? I think every person has a right to safe work conditions, including a reasonable sleeping pattern in the case of truck drivers, and should have a reasonable share of the profits for their labour and expertise. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any labour. All labour is honourable.
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        Mar 13 2013: I'm not saying labor work is bad but that in a capitalist system it eventually leaves little room for advancement. I respect the fact that we have people who are willing to do the dirty and hard labor. I just don't think they can be truly represented in a capitalist system
      • Mar 13 2013: Oft times, I have been witness to the phenomenon, "oh he/she's just a janitor, a rock-crusher etc.," being uttered by children at play. The pervasive attitude that ones place in the work-a-day arena dictates their place within societal acceptance is, like it or not, part of the human-condition within any society. I only use my own experience in reflection, as I am guilty of the same misconceptions surrounding this issue that afflicts mankind to varying degrees. Nonetheless, it exists.
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          Mar 15 2013: I must say Robert, this is a social value that is extremely parochial. Its may be true in the U.S.A but in other parts of the globe the social perception of the value of a certain kind of labour varies tremendously. In France for example, many forms of manual labour have artisan status and there are other examples. In the U.S the janitor and the shoe salesman are virtual untouchables, but that is not the case here in New Zealand. I am a Lecturer in a Tertiery Institute, the woman who cleans my classroom and I are friends. If my daughter was to bring home her son as a boyfriend, I would not have a problem with it.
  • Mar 3 2013: Capitalism encourage competition and competition in a healthy/fair environment make us better. I think we have to go back and revise the rules of the game starting with the international trade. In order for the economy to grow in a healthy way, I think the rules has to be fair and transparent for us, and for our neighbors if they want to play.

    Now, I don't think there are menial jobs and that your income determine if you are poor. If you have a job and manage to put a roof over your head and food on your table I don't think you are poor. By the same token, if you have to wake up every single day to work, even if you are making millions, you are not rich - you are just a well compensated worker.

    The level of satisfaction is different for each person; some people need millions - others are ok with thousands $. It is absurd to think that everybody needs a Ferrari to be happy, although that is what Ferrari's CEO want you to believe, LOL!
    • Mar 14 2013: Capitalist want to make money, the easier the better, that's why there's such things as monopolies and cartels.
      A millionaire doesn't need to get up in the morning to work to put food on the table, he will not go hungry.
  • Mar 1 2013: "Yes it is sustainable as their is no practicing alternative in the world."

    Really? We have no model that doesn't have crime, poverty, injustice, or ecological collapse, so I guess we are just stuck with those too? I love the argument that failed Communism means Capitalism has been proven right, because false syllogism is a function of all fundamentalist thinking, and fundamentalist Capitalists are just as easy to disprove as any other fundamentalist religion. Lovell's assumption that the reasons for black poverty are economic ones furthers my point; like most fundamental thinking, the ability to see anything other than one's own paradigm is a given. Might I suggest that prejudice had more to do with a downtrodden black people than economic circumstance? I belive the former begat the latter, not vice versa. And an educated black man of the period was not an equal, just "uppity". So dies that theory...

    But none of this addresses the question. Is capitalism sustainable? And the answer (which I had thought self evident, but there are none so blind as those who will not see) is no. Capitalism's key requirement is an expanding market. Should that become impossible, Capitalism crashes. As we live on a finite planet, with finite space and resources, population eventually must come to a standstill, meaning, inevitably, markets will follow. We are in the first stages of this contraction already, with predictable economic results (wildly increasing food and oil prices, resource conflicts, etc.).

    So like all fundamentalists, the Capitalists will argue that business is the answer to all our problems (apologies to Mr's Gore and Gates, but that is Ayn Rand revisited; the problem cannot be the solution). And indeed, many issues facing the planet today (whether you deny them or not) are mostly borne of this capitalist agenda (global warming, cultural destruction, the shrinking middle class, etc.). Capitalism is not the answer, it's the problem...
    • Mar 2 2013: I agree with you about that the unhindered expansion of reckless capitalism will not succeed without some system to rein them in. On the other hand, we also have "pseudo-democracy" in which politicians got elected by "promising the moon" to promote "reckless" welfare states. Look what that ended up with in the countries they "administered"' nowadays. As to the earth environment and resource problems, we wont solve them until the strong nationalism is seriously checked, so that majority of the countries are willingly to cooperate to develop their economy and total wealth for all the people on earth. With the current chaotic political and economic system on earth, there won't be a system of any kind, including the capitalism, to satisfy each and all of us. Unfortunately, sometimes good intentions may not be the best solution.
      In summary, I am not saying whether capitalism can or can't be sustained. Just like every one said here, that there are no other workable systems existed up to now. Rather I would suggest that we have to look at the other auxiliary or co-required social/political/economic system to make it work for all of us.
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    Feb 28 2013: With Great Power comes Great Responsibility. That quote was not just for the poor, but for the wealthy and all other in between. Capitalism can be sustainable, however all participants have to understand their roles. The most successful have the resources and the knowledge to teach, not give away, their knowledge and create opportunity for the middle class and the poor.The middle class has the responsibility to teach the poor how to rise up from day to day survival. The poor have to be willing to learn and take advantage of the opportunity. We cannot have a capitalism run by people who are afraid because they live a life of lack and limitation. That creates hopelessness, irresponsibility, and hatred. Every one just wants respect. If we can understand that our knowledge is not for us to keep, but to help others rise up, then capitalism will last forever.
  • Mar 26 2013: What an excellent and important topic and discussion. Thank you.

    In my view, capitalism boils down to personal interest (i.e., MY money, MY house, MY land, etc.) which is an immature motive and no basis for society. Truly civil society relies on inclusive, charitable motives, the relief of suffering, broadbased investments in human potential, contributions for a better world -- not more useless, wasteful and/or heartless money-making projects. "Getting and spending we lay waste our power."

    If capitalism is to benefit us all, perhaps its misguided motives could be redirected with strict and wise regulation, protected whistleblowers, tax incentives and penalties to keep its focus wholesome and productive. My guess it that capitalism might also be a lot healthier without its roots in a Central Banking system, too.

    Capitalism's self-serving habits tend to result in unprincipled conduct, low standards, addiction. A symptom of this moral rot is to note how some corporations and uber rich specialize not in contributing to the world, but in trying to get away with something. Its my contention that honesty -- not dishonesty -- is a true solution and antidote to ills. If deceit and dishonesty are capitalism's 'big' ideas, then, to my mind, it's just another scam.

    Society is a team sport, not golf. A machine can make money. So what? Money is just one tool used to achieve a larger objective. What's the larger objective? Capitalism of the unregulated variety has mainly benefitted some golfers and big bankers, not the whole team. Had Jonas Salk been kept poor and uneducated, worldwide suffering from polio would be with us still.

    In my view, it's to our profound advantage to relieve suffering, eliminate poverty--not just for its heartfelt virtue and charity. To quote Stephen Jay Gould, ""I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweat shops."
  • Mar 22 2013: OK, I better begin by saying that I have not read any of the comments below. But, after our tax bill due this April, I am beginning to believe that the U.S. government is going to achieve equality of the people -- making us all equally POOR. Seriously, our tax burden has reached the point where we are becoming poor!
    • Mar 22 2013: Tax Policy is income redistribution, in our case upwards. The wealthy work harder to keep their money than they do to make it. Those who pay less proportion of tax are the ones who cry about entitlements like Welfare. Conveniently, they forget get about tax breaks that equal Wealthcare. Worried about those who get $1000 a month and forgetting tax breaks worth millions. Selective interpretation that Social Security and Medicare are entitlements, when in reality those have been paid for every day that a person worked, by the WORKER. I assume you don't have access to a legislator who will go out of his way to reward a donor with legislation that only favors the Plutocrat. State Referendums are the equivalent of a Citizen Veto and Constitutional Amendment is like a Citizen Legislature. This may be our only hope to reverse the Oligarchic Plutocracy we have become and the Class Warfare it is spawning. The Revolution can not be violent based on the opponent would be the most powerful military, but the revolution against apathy, which has allowed greed to take hold, must be fought.
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        Mar 22 2013: All this time, I thought that we pay taxes to receive some services from a government that we as citizens could not or would not provide for our selves, ie. police and fire departments, good public roads, defense of our country, (effective) schools for our children. Now, I want to be charitable to my neighbors in need, I don't want the government to tell me how charitable or who my neighbors are in need. That's no longer charity, that's redistribution of my wealth.
        When that happens I am not feeling love, I am feeling ripped off. I think there should be inspectors of meats that I buy to insure it's quality. I should not be told how much meat I can consume by that government or some individual who does not eat meat. It is neither's business what I consume, it is my pursuit of barbecue happiness.
        • Mar 22 2013: Government services? For over 1K a week in income taxes I live on an unpaved road with no mail delivery.

          How about the financial burden being placed on us all for calorie labeling? Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it will NOT make fat people thin and healthy. The only ones reading the labels are those already eating healthy.

          Interesting anecdote--I have heard that some Mexicans, and other foreigners, are actually leaving the US because we have too many rules & regulations. They have more personal freedom in their own countries than they do here. Interesting thought.
        • Mar 22 2013: Mike and Winifred,
          Redistribution of wealth has been carried on as class warfare by the wealthy. Warren Buffet, America's second richest man, said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." In the 1960s the highest incomes in America were about three times that of the median. Today incomes of the top 1% range from five times to thousands of times the current median. This was brought about by union busting, employing undocumented workers paid under the table, and shipping jobs out of our country. In addition, "trickle down" economics led to lower taxes on those highest earners. It now takes two full time workers in a family to get by less well than a single wage earner in the 1950s.

          And, Winifred, if you pay weekly taxes of $1k and live somewhere like the area the unibomber chose, that is by your choice because you could well afford a home in the affluent parts of suburbia, unlike some poor I know who have no choice,--and many with no choice but to live on the street.

          And, by the way, when you wealthy have shipped a $50,000 US job, with the taxes that job paid, overseas, and that worker now labors for $12,500 a year, paying much less taxes than he did, so executive pay could be so much higher, why do you whine if you have to make up that tax loss by paying higher rates on your aggrandized wealth?
  • Mar 20 2013: There are really two questions being discussed, with many undefined or poorly defined terms. One question is whether capitalism is sustainable. The other question is whether poverty can be eradicated within a capitalistic society. If the question is purely whether capitalism is sustainable, the answer is yes. If the question on the author's mind is really about wiping out poverty under capitalism, there are many facets that need to be considered.

    Poverty is not only an economic condition, it is also a state of mind as well as a moniker applied to lower income or non earned income people. It is used to define a class of people in an economic condition without regard as to why they are in that condition. It is used to describe a condition in this country that is considered middle class in other places in the world.

    A different, yet corollary question is: Can poverty be eradicated? The answer to that question is a simple no. The reason that the answer to this question is so easy is that there are people, no matter what you do for them or what you give them, will never seek to work their way out of their situation. In fact, the more you give them, the more they will be willing to take without effort.

    Please don't mistake what I'm saying. I am NOT saying that people who are in poverty are lazy. What I am saying is that human nature is also a factor. People who do not have to work to get rewards have no incentive to work for more rewards. People who do work for fewer and fewer rewards will tend to not work as hard and begin to expect the same rewards that those who do not work get.

    The bottom line is that eradicating poverty has nothing to do with capitalism. If it did, then you would not see any poverty in communistic or socialistic societies. Yet, poverty is rampant under those governments. Far more so that under capitalism.
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      Mar 21 2013: Hi Marc,

      i wonder why your only answer to the question whether capitalism is sustainable is "yes" (with no details)? is it that obvious to you?

      Speaking of poverty, did you know that most poor people do work? You can't eradicate poverty by giving people money or any rewards. it's all about the political and social system which does not create opportunities for all people to have a decent life. this is why poverty has a lot to do with capitalism
      • Mar 22 2013: As to your first question, it is that obvious. When the first person on Earth decided that the benefits of his or her labor belonged to him or her and not the entire community, that was the birth of capitalism and it has flourished ever since. It is sustainable as long as the people who work are allowed to keep their rewards, or at least enough of their rewards to keep them happy.

        Do I know that poor people work? Of course I do. Do I believe that a capitalistic society provides fewer opportunities to advance one's own condition than any other form of social experiment? Absolutely not!

        America is rife with stories of people who have advanced themselves through education and perspiration. Education is achieved through learning, not teaching. Like the horse led to water who does not drink, a person can be taught many things, but without the desire to learn, the results are for naught. Perspiration is achieved through the willingness and desire to do better and be better. People who advance themselves have both these qualities and have spent their lives practicing both.

        This is not to say that everyone who has the desire to learn and put all their efforts into their toils will achieve monetary and social advancement, but the chances of doing so under capitalism are far better than under anything else.
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    Mar 20 2013: I do not think capitalism is sustainable. From the first time (thousands of years ago) one person decided to charge another person "a little bit more" for his/her own benefit, THAT is when capitalism became unsustainable. Capitalism uses "supply and demand". People and corporations who use "supply and demand" for profit ruin any possiblity for capitalism to work.

    If you would like me to explain further, I can for just 29.95 plus shipping and handling. (restrictions may apply, monthly charges will begin without you knowing)
    • Mar 22 2013: Corporations demand they be supplied with Profit. The intended consequence is Guaranteed Profit, but also Guaranteed Poverty. I like your satirical ending (you forgot the bonus for those who respond right now, just pay extra shipping and handling), but you highlighted my "theory" on: Less Terms of Service and More Customer Service. My point is, Corporations and/or Wealthy Individuals have stacked the deck in favor of them, always.
      How does Exxon/Mobil make a steady 25% profit, per quarter? This is not Capitalism, the opposite of Communism, it is Corporationism. All situations between the customer and the Corp are in the Corp's favor, just read ALL the fine print. Legitimate grievances may be blocked by "Tort Reform", if not obliterated in court by a "Big Lawyer" firm. We have the most important terms in fine print and legislation crafted by non Legislators, with the prize buried so deep and subject to some "magical" comma for interpretation. In Capitalism the customer is "always right", In Corporationism the CEO is always right.
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        Mar 22 2013: Hello,

        I agree, but because I read the response I have to charge you 29.95. :)

        (watch out for late fees)
        • Mar 22 2013: SUE ME. I sue for Peace. I sue for Liberty. I sue for Philosophy
  • Mar 14 2013: Capitalism as it is currently practiced in America is a runaway train bound for calamity. You can call that unsustainability if you need to. In order for it to become a non-train wreck capitalism cannot continue to be practiced as a massive singular totality with evangelists and ideologues insisting on the exclusion of other models. It is ironic that with the Cold War in which the world went to the brink of annihilation over two opposing totalities that the salvation of the system that declared itself the winner (no one won, it was only a matter of who lost more) and perhaps the salvation of the human condition is a reconcilement of these former opposing totalities into an inclusive hybrid where both capitalism and collective communism work in the same system. The trouble with collectivism/communism is that it requires mature understanding and a buy-in whereas capitalism mirrors brutal nature and doesn't demand much comprehension in order for the common dolt to eek out a living. But what is wrong with capitalism is that it shuns cooperation as a cultural imperative--education in the west is predicated only on competition and makes no formal investment in social development or the cultural politics of cooperation. Education however makes for the perfect captive audience proving ground to integrate both competition and cooperation. And primary to that is observance of the main elements of truth at all times i.e, sociology, economics and ECOLOGY. If and when you achieve this brave integration where no one is permanently stuck or ordered into one role but routinely assumes one of two modalities, the society becomes ideal as a whole (more or less, but a lot more than now) and issues of sustainability become the language of journalism and history. Does that mean we still won't run out of stuff? No. But it means we will have a new culture of synergy where innovators can implement sustainability solutions without the resistance we still have.
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    Mar 14 2013: I have been chastised. It seems Bob has pointed out that "capitalism" is a political function and I have been duped or just historically illiterate. It seems that Bob is not alone in his convictions that "capitalism" is a political system that is used to subjugate the masses and strip wealth (financial?) from the people.
    What I have tried to say and what is today called "capitalism"; croneyism, state capitalism, etc. is in fact political systems and they are small groups of people exerting control of societies using "money" as a method of control.

    That's not capitalism, thats just tyranny by any other name. Capitalism is a person, using his own resources and may employ helpers to provide for the marketing of product or service at a price that would sustain the operation.
    It's not just capitalism that has been denigrated, it's happened to communism too! The recent "president" of Venezuela who propose an equality amongst the poorest of his nation was able to amass over 2 billion of personal wealth, a little short of sharing all.
    So let's not just criticize capitalism, let's address those who 'bastardize' it and use it to bring suffering to the people.
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      Mar 15 2013: A very good point! If I am correct in my basic presupositions (we all have them and should be willing to change them as pointed out by Allan Savory's talk on desertification) all systems, all societies have some who are more greedy than others, and who are willing to exploit others for gain. This is not a purely capitalistic tendency. It happened in tribes, it happened in socialist societies, it happened under kings, and communist regimes. Why blame a faulty system, (they all are faulty) why not go after those who corrupt them?
      • Mar 16 2013: Hey, Steady on!

        I've been passively scrolling down the conversation here- but this set of assumptions invites an intervention!

        You've just identified the basic human trait of leadership and social organisation then labelled it "corrupt" in the next sentence. What's next on your list of corruptions and dastardly evils? Sex, Food? Some things are just normal.

        Maybe this is another time time to change your basic presumptions! Why not accept human behavior as usually normal in its context and try to change the context? Don't like War? Change your Government. Don't like the way Capitalism works? Then develop or use another method of organisation....there are, contrary to assertion to the opposite, many.
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          Mar 16 2013: Thanks for the intervention Alan. Some of what I said was a little bit "tongue in cheek". Just pointing out that the tendencies that are seen as evil by some are present with some people at almost all times and in almost all places and any system falls prey to manupulation.
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    Mar 13 2013: Now the focus has changed from criticizing capitalism to corporations and the pending financial collapse.
    Again, I read the characterizations going from the sublime to the silly.
    Is capitalism sustainable? Yes. It is the most honest system to advance civilization.
    Is capitalism corruptible? Yes, One wag has said that the energy and talent expended into gaming the capitalism system would cure the common cold, cancer and create interstellar space engines.
    Corporation is a group of capitalists that pool their resources to meet the demands of a national or global market.
    Money and it's derivatives are simply mediums of exchange.
    Most everyone has some wealth that can be used for capital.
    There are no such thing as "menial" jobs. to think so is simple pomposity. All work is worthy effort.
    Poverty is a relative state of mind and most often "envy" is a better descriptive noun.
    There some people who have little to no resources to sustain life. These people need help and charity from us all.
    Did I miss anything?
    • Mar 15 2013: Alternate thoughts: Capitalism is not honest, it mandates fooling some one, it thrives on asymetric knowledge. Capitalism creates inequality and scarcity ... if the "dirtbags" can't pay for it, tough, do without ... Let them eat cake. In the face of a world surfeit of food millions starve, a surfeit of light bulbs Africa is dark viewed from space at night etc. Capitalism plunders natural resources and human resources without a real concern for those who will populate the future. Capitalism meets the demands (not needs) of the market that capitalists create. We don't need all this stuff! Money allows you to accumulate power that you can use at another time or another place. Agree, all work is worthy, except for capitalism it could be valued equally. Poverty is NOT a state of mind ... you have never been poor, a state of mind does not cause you to die of hunger. The survival instinct and natural (scientific) curiosity rewarded by peer praise alone could drive innovation, as it did for millennia, without the need for a capitalistic system.
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        Mar 15 2013: So, English is your second language. I'll try to simplify it for you. You're right, I've never been poor. My grandfather came here with $30 in his pocket with a gaggle of kids. My father reach adult hood in the great depression and worked with the CCC to support his family. Our main meal was cooked macaroni sauced with olive oil and garlic... on Sunday. We may have been impoverished by some standards, but didn't feel poor. State of mind is what you feel.

        And who are you to decide what we need or what we want. You only do that for you, not me or anyone else.

        Consider, also careful study will show that most of the world's hunger is so much a lack of food, as it is a weapon used by tyrannical governments, few of which are State Capitalist.

        Finally, Capitalism is an outgrowth of village markets that began when mankind came out of the caves and formed villages.... 12 millennium ago?
  • Mar 8 2013: Ugh. Why is it so hard for you people to understand that wealth is not a zero-sum game? Capitalism is the only system that allows people to improve their socio-economic standing. Economic freedom is not about allowing the super wealthy to run the show and make the rules. Economic freedom is about allowing the little guy the CHANCE to be part of the game and become successful and wealthy.

    Each person takes a different path in life. Some decide to spend every cent as soon as they get it, some save as much as they can. Some people just want to come home and watch TV and others spend time working harder and educating more. Each decision has an opportunity cost and those who sacrifice certain things and obtain better results because of it should not be punished because other people choose to live differently. Poverty in Africa has nothing to do with Capitalism, it has everything to do with STATISM. People like Mugabe STEAL from the people, they are not Capitalists, they are thieves!
    • Mar 15 2013: Where is this meritocracy you're talking about.
      Should those without ambition live a life of poverty in retirement. Not everyone wants to be a millionaire, warm and comfortable will do.
      Some capitalists deal With the devil. Where do you think Mugabe's money is ?
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    Mar 8 2013: When I was young adolescent in the communist Romania, because of the strong propaganda I did believe that 'capitalism is evil' . It took time, and real life experience to realise, alternatives are tyrannies and worse. It is possible, soon we will be anyway in Information Age, but creating a company and also offering work to others, creating wealth to be able to help children In university, as I did later is not 'evil' or bad. And nor is 'menial job' At some time in that communist country even that was that was denied to me. I do feel the talk about 'bad capitalism' is propaganda, that gets old anyway. Taking money, wealth from one does not makes the others happy or less poor. Free enterprise is what can do more then 'distribution of what is'
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      Mar 13 2013: No Julie, the alternatives are not tyrannies or worse. Now you are listening to the opposite line of propaganda to the one that you were brought up with. Recognise both for what they are: a method for enslaving us. In fact we can strike a balance between the forces of economy and our humanity.
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        Mar 13 2013: So how do you view Nz's current change to the shareholder led country Joanne? almost 300.000 registrations for one energy companies shares in just a matter of days. These companies hiked their prices up touting higher energy costs which must be passed on to the public when in reality they upped their asset worth. The current push by that group that want to slap the banks hands for over charging on their bank fees has my vote only because the gorging was allowed to carry on too long.
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          Mar 15 2013: Well obviously I view it with sorrow and dismay Ken. I see it as the first stage in what will inevitably be the demise of all that I hold precious; a stable, relatively equal, humane, safe, comfortably well off, society.

          Firstly, please do not be under the illusion that we are looking at a demorcratically led transition. Quite the contrary. White colonial New Zealand was a country founded on the egalitatrian Socialist principles of a people escaping a cruel class system. That socio political legacy is still firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of most Kiwis. In tandem with that, the Tangatawhenua or 'People of the Land' or original people, the Maori, follow a communtiy principle of whanaungataugna .

          This translates to a concept of togetherness, family, belonging to community and the land. These two ethos combined mean that there is a great deal of active and strong opposition to privatisation here in New Zealand. This has not stopped it proceeding however. Although there are protests and petitions each week and last week a large hikoi or 'meeting' produced nearly half a million signatures on one petition alone (a significant result in a country only four million strong.) it will not change much.

          The process of turning over the democratic system, and placing paid employees in key decision making roles is complete. The people who wait to harvest this market just sit back and wait for their patsy's to deliver.
  • Mar 5 2013: One of the biggest obstacles to equality is the irrational hatred of taxation. Redistribution of wealth will be a necessity as long as greed is such a dominant personality trait among humans. This isn't even debatable, there are thousands of years of history repeating itself showing what the ultimate result of greed really is. Libertarians believe in self regulating systems, and I fear it's mostly due to naivety and being surrounded by likeminded people with little input from the world around them. Almost subculture-like in nature. It's unreasonable to think that a totally free system would be free of people who would do anything to become the most powerful force in the world. So that's never going to work, I've heard all the arguments and they're all pointing to a world that never existed. A world where everyone is keen to share and everyone stays informed about everything so that their every dollar (every dollar is a vote in an unregulated government-less system) is spent promoting your idea of positive change. The problem here is that once money becomes the only measure of democracy the votes shift DRAMATICALLY.

    Poor people will have substantially less power than the middle class, and nothing is going to touch the rich, they have the power to say "ok, don't like it, buy from someone else." And you can, you can buy from some other corporation whose business practices are equally bad.

    You see examples of this even today, people who are outraged by the factory conditions at Foxconn where the apple products are made, they get all fussy and go out and buy an android phone. That's all nice and wonderful, but they're also made at Foxconn or similar factories. And the people who bash apple only to turn around and buy a product made under the exact same conditions are people who believe themselves to be informed consumers. I would say that 95% of the worlds population couldn't give a crap where stuff is made. They look at the prices and go "I'll have that."
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      Mar 5 2013: wait a second here. you are saying that i'm irrational thinking 50% tax is ridiculous and immoral. i'm also greedy, and the real problem is that i don't give away 50% of my income willfully. i'm also naive pointing out that even in dark the middle ages, taxes never went over 20%, and the most prosperous times in europe and US coincided with taxes one tenth of that amount.

      with such a start, i doubt there can be any reasonable discussion. normally, civilized people don't start a debate with declaring the other side irrational, greedy and naive. also we rarely start with declaring the issue undebatable.

      btw you are right in that last claim. the question is indeed undebatable. as of now, majority simply votes on taxation, and they ask the state to forcefully collect taxes disregarding any opposing arguments, let them be moral, economical or practical.
      • Mar 15 2013: Taxation is a community pot to provide things we need. It's the way it is spent and by whom that is debatable.
        Money is an unquestionable thirst. Care to tell me how much is enough?
        There's a lot of people out there that would prefer the problem of earning the amount you would need to pay the higher rate than go hungry.
  • Mar 4 2013: No system is "sustainable". Class stratification is not unique to capitalism. All systems seem to favor those who discover how to exploit that system. This exploitation becomes more sophisticated, until a large under-privileged majority is serving the whims of the privileged minority at which point there is an involuntary redistribution of resources, often violently, and then the game begins again. It might be preferable to find a way to hit the "reset button" more often and with less violence.
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    Mar 3 2013: Since when is Bono the bastion of common sense? He makes great music but he lives in a rarified atmosphere. He is out of touch.

    Capitalism is not passe' in that it is a good economy that gives people hope and incentive: incentive to provide for their children and give them a better life (education, health care etc.) AND, the most important thing of all, the notion that one does it by hard work (and faith), not by hand-outs. Hand-outs decrease self-respect.

    People confuse wealth with happiness. Happiness is having enough for a happy and healthy life for one's family and some extra for improvements. The worst thing that can happen to people as a whole is to have no incentive.
    • Mar 4 2013: I think the most sustainable economic system would be a capitalistic system based on a gross nation well-being metric and a national/global environmental well-being metric.

      The amount of money that's moving around has little to do with happiness, health, and well-being once basic needs such as shelter, health care, food, etc. are paid for.

      Take a read:
      https://dl.dropbox.com/u/36238416/Beyond%20Money.pdf
  • Mar 2 2013: Hi Luke, we met briefly in San Francisco, didn't we?

    As I understand it, you're projecting that rising incomes eliminate poverty, and without poverty, no one fills menial jobs. Correct?

    The obvious solution: robots! If we automate all menial tasks, the concern evaporates. I see no inherent obstacles to total automation, but maybe I'm missing something and it's impossible. Even so, I still see a way that the capitalist system would fill menial jobs when what we call 'poverty' is gone.

    Say it's 2030, and rising standards of living have eliminated all the things that we call poverty: hunger, unsanitary conditions, dirty drinking water, no healthcare, cockroach problems, stringy shirts with mustard stains etc. It's still an unequal, capitalist society, so there's still a "poor class", but they're wealthier than most people today (in the same way that poor Americans now have things Louis XIV would envy). That's a kind of poverty I'm ok with! You more-or-less said this in your comments below, but I think it bears repeating, because even though there will still be people who are "2030-poor", "2013-poverty" has still been eliminated in this scenario.

    SO, there is room for both the elimination of poverty (in the 2013 sense of the word) and the existence of a poor class (in the 2030 sense). People who are "2030-poor" will still have the incentive to work (if we can take history as any kind of guide). There are poor people now who live in climate-controlled rooms, are food secure and have cars etc., but still FEEL poor enough that it motivates them to work menial jobs. "Poor" is not an absolute thing; it's something we assess relative to those around us.
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      Mar 3 2013: I just like to give my support on your points. Automation (which is clearly viable) could solve so many problems in the world. The problem is that for companies to invest and setup a system it would be take too long to see a significant return, blinded by short term gain in my eyes. Personally, like many things, I believe it falls down to values, a new enterprise is a reflection on a persons personality. The sooner people realise that improvement from the bottom up will improve life for all then w'll be a step closer. Just means a shift in education and training towards other industries is needed.

      For example, an investment in renewable energy sources will allow a significant percentage contribution to the demand of the country; all that needs to be paid for is the maintenance. The decrease in energy costs for heating and lighting will increase disposable income for households as the dependency on oil based energy decreases, allowing them to invest in other areas.
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      Mar 3 2013: Skynet........just saying.......

      All kidding aside, automation would definitely do all the things you have mentioned. The only stumbling block I see is job availability would be cut because many of the jobs are being done by robots. However, that is me looking through my 2013 eyes. There could be new jobs developed through all this automation in 2030. We simply won't know until we get there. Robots 2030!
  • Mar 1 2013: Oh and Lovell, look to Bhutan, or the Haida, or Transition Town. There are alternatives to Capitalism, both old and new. Your stance reminds me of Einstein's quote "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." New thinking is definitely needed... as Al also said...

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    We can do better than capitalism....
  • Mar 1 2013: Capitalism would be there for centuries to come.
    USA. Japan, UK, Germany control about - 45% of Worlds wealth but have to feed only 9% of world population. (data taken from Wikipedia). There is TED talk "Who controls the world" which states a couple of Hundred corporations control the world.
    Note Governments of these Wealthier countries could be bigger evils, as they feed off the Wealthier corporations.
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    Feb 27 2013: Your post is full of so many false logic misconceptions regarding capitalism I hardly know where to begin. The aim of capitalism is to create wealth for all.

    If you understand nothing else at all you must, simply must understand capitalism tends to create wealth where none existed before. It does NOT take a finite amount of wealth and hoard it in the hands of a few. If done correctly, capitalism can create wealth for everyone, without taking away from anyone. It is simply not true in any sense that poor people are a necessary outcome of capitalism, and to believe so exhibits a disappointing lack of economic understanding.
    • Feb 27 2013: Then why are there so many poor? Why are there children that starve under capitalism as it is? Why do people go ballistic when the poor ask for more? The more fair something is the more likely the public deems it socialism and it's shunned. Just look at all the negative press when the president proposed a hike in minimum wage... Capitalism is made for the competitive. If your demeanor isn't aggressive enough to win over your boss or investors to make more of your life then you're screwed.
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        Feb 27 2013: Well then I must remind you that the standard of living under capitalism is higher now than at any time in human history. And there are certainly fewer poor under capitalism than exists under socialism. That the poor still exist at all under capitalism indicates that we haven't perfected capitalism yet, but you cannot give us an example of anything that has ever worked better.
        • Feb 27 2013: Perfection is irrelevant. Nothing the human species has ever made has been perfect. I never said socialism was perfection. Your definition of a higher standard of living is very biased. Having more things doesn't necessarily mean you're living better. Hooray little johnny has a smartphone because his parents don't want him to be teased and bullied at school for looking poor. Hooray little Johnny doesn't eat dinner for the rest of the week. The question on the table is if capitalism is sustainable. I need only to point at America's economy to show that it isn't. We're not number 1 economically. We're not number 1 in education. We're not number 1 medically. The list goes on.

          Basically the poor are very affected if wallstreet doesn't make a lot of money, but not really affected at all if wallstreet rakes in the cash. While the rich are praised for their achievements the poor stand by and watch.. hungry. The only difference is that they don't wear a crown and there are more than one in a nation.
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        Feb 27 2013: Still waiting for you to name a system that has done better for the poor than capitalism, Roland.
        • Feb 27 2013: Your statement is irrelevant to the initial question, Jones. HA YOU CAN'T THINK OF SOMETHING BETTER THAN CAPITALISM doesn't have anything to do with its sustainability. I never claimed there was or is a better system, but that's why we're discussing things on TED. Aren't we supposed to be the thinkers who get the world out of the disgraceful state it's in?
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        Feb 27 2013: Now I'm afraid you're changing your argument, William. None of your previous statements, nor mine, had anything to do with sustainability, because I began by criticizing Mr Huchinson's basic premise. Now that you've seemingly abandoned your debate with me, now you change your focus to sustainability, to draw attention away from your lack of cogent response.

        It's easy to naysay, William, and point out the weaknesses of any idea while failing to offer a better. The fact remains that the world is in a less disgraceful state under capitalism than anything else that's been tried or suggested. Whatever failings of the modern society you're ashamed of, they can most likely be solved with more and freer capitalism.
        • Feb 27 2013: "The fact remains that the world is in a less disgraceful state under capitalism than anything else that's been tried or suggested." Now you're lying to yourself. Capitalism has left us with failing infrastructure; extreme environmental damage, mostly to save corporations’ money; and an increase in health hazards, mostly to make corporations’ money. Just because there isn't yet a solution doesn't mean there isn't a problem.

          My answers have always been about sustainability.

          In my first post I brought to light the flaws of the capitalistic system. An analogy of how flaws eventually lead to catastrophic failure (as in not sustainable) is by looking at the effect of square windows on an internally pressurized airplane. The flaw, square windows (economically represented as capitalism), leads to micro cracks on the windows edges that spread every time you go up and down, apply this to our economy which goes up and down (the micro cracks being poverty spreading through the population). Now one day after the micro cracks have added up to a certain point plane goes up and the pressure is released all at once and it won't fly ever again (the economy has crashed) again..not sustainable

          You responded by comparing socialism and capitalism, the comparison of which had nothing to do with what I posted. The only thing I said about socialism was that proposed solutions to poverty that bring everyone closer to equality are mostly seen in the public eye as socialistic. You also said that I "cannot give an example of anything that has ever worked better." I did not contend this simply because I'm not looking at history. I'm looking forward, as in, what system WILL work (not has worked) better?

          I responded by giving you more examples of my point that there are major flaws backing up how it isn’t sustainable.

          To which you replied

          “Still waiting for you to name a system that has done better for the poor than capitalism, Roland.” You obviously didn’t get that I’ve been talking
        • Feb 27 2013: continued: about sustainability of capitalism the whole time nor did you get that I’m looking for what will work better.

          Capitalism isn’t sustainable and leads to hording of money.

          If capitalism doesn't lead to hoarding of wealth then tell me why we have laws preventing monopolies or maybe why we have laws that prevent communication between members of an oligopoly.
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      Feb 27 2013: You state, Lawren, that "The aim of capitalism is to create wealth for all." But if everybody is wealthy, in a real sense nobody is wealthy. Take a population and increase everybody's income 10x, and inflation will reduce the value of the dollar by a factor of 10 quite quickly, so that everybody is right back where they started. And yet, create a society where everybody has the same level of wealth, and nobody will want to do the menial jobs unless you force them to.
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        Feb 27 2013: You're confusing the amount of wealth with the amount of money, Luke. Certainly, if you increase the amount of everyone's money by 10x, it will all be worth 10x less. However, a productive, capitalist society can create new wealth for everyone, increasing everyone's quality of life by 10x without decreasing anything.
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          Feb 27 2013: Money is simply a proxy for wealth. If you are defining wealth as something like quality of life (and if not, please define it), I agree you can increase everybody's quality of life across an entire country, that is precisely what has happened in developed countries, and what is happening in developing countries. And yet there is still poverty in the USA or Europe. Nevertheless, wherever there is a significant disparity in money owned by individuals, there will be a significant difference in wealth, however you define it.
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        Feb 27 2013: I agree that a disparity in money is a disparity in wealth. But you original premise was that wealth (i.e. quality of life) cannot exist for some unless it's at the expense of others. Now you seemingly argue the contrary.

        If indeed you can increase everybody's quality of life across an entire country, how is capitalism not sustainable?
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          Feb 27 2013: I think you made the assumption from the start that I was talking about the difference between the developing and developed world. If you read my question more closely, you'll see that it's much more focused on the fact that we can't even eliminate wealth disparity within the developed world (implying that therefore promises of eliminating poverty on a global scale are probably over-ambitious). Someone will always need to clean bathrooms and build roads in the developed world, but I doubt you would ever call those people "wealthy" within developed society. A laborer in the developed world would only be considered wealthy if you were to compare them to someone in the developing world.
    • Feb 27 2013: Capitalism is capitalizing on what others don't know.
      It is capitalizing on others misfortunes and problems,
      gaining while they lose, thus increasing the gap between those with and those without.
      This adds power to those with and they use it to their advantage to not only maintain their
      position but to increase the distance between those below them.
      Capitalism has needs to survive. Here are seven:
      Greed, crime, inequality, poverty, slavery, war and death.
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    Feb 27 2013: Bono talks the talk but he does not walk the walk. He changed residence from Ireland to avoid high taxes.

    Capitalism has existed for thousands of years and will last as long as humans do.

    The simple truth is that the standard of living today exists only because of capitalism. Countries did not create the standard of living we have today.

    There will always be inequality so what. Capitalism has given African tribesman cell phones, modern agriculture, the internet, etc, you see capitalism has raised the poorest people's standard of living? In China 10 years ago the GDP per capita was $100 per year today it is $7000, that was capitalism.

    The only time this is a problem is when companies are in cahoots with countries this is called crony capitalism and most likely what you think of when you think of the big evil corporation.
    • Feb 27 2013: sorry but that's not true at all. countries are responsible for creating the standard of living we have today, mostly through funding research which paved the way for advances which all citizens benefited from, royalty free. those products we're all so fond of weren't developed in private companies, they were developed through public research.

      if the us government hadn't funded nasa to develop rockets and satellite technology, the african tribesmen would have no cell phones.
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        Feb 27 2013: Would you care to hold up some facts that support your claim?

        Are you saying that the cell phone was a forgone conclusion after NASA?

        Are you saying Bell Labs had nothing to do with the invention of Cell phones? What about Alexander Graham Bell? Did the government fund Edison and Tesla? Did the government fund the Wright brothers? The government did fund Samuel Pierpoint Langley but what did he do? Did the government invent the computer or did IBM and Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have something to do with it? What about television or radio? The automobile? The washing machine? the toilet? indoor plumbing? cure for polio? cure for chicken pox? converting ecoli into insulin? etc, etc, etc , etc

        Nope not a one from government.
        • Feb 27 2013: i'm saying no telecommunications company had the expertise, money, or inclination to put satellites in space that they would eventually be able to use to further their products. once nasa had done it, telcos and others were then able to use the knowhow to improve their products and make new ones.

          you're ignoring the science that was done that proceeded these inventions. bell labs was able to develop the first car phones thanks to discoveries made earlier by government funded research and support, mostly through the military. the computer is just easy. development was made through the military during WW2. experts in the field were then later employed by private companies.

          you bring up a good point with the wright brothers, though i think not the one you intended. the wright's made their fortunes in printing and manufacturing, which then meant they had the funds to pursue their aviation ambitions. the funds were needed *first* before their plane could be developed, and even then they didn't invent the airplane, all they did was take others' discoveries and add their contribution which was an improved control mechanism. we were lucky that some people in the past were rich enough and interested enough in science to do their own research, and give their discoveries to society royalty-free; decidedly un-capitalistic! benjamin franklin is a good example of this.

          tv wasn't getting anywhere until the BBC provided funding, the polio vaccine was developed non-profit at pittsburgh university, and similarly penicillin was developed non-profit thru research funded by the british government. did you know that despite the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, the world is actually running out of effective antibiotics because no new ones have been developed?

          i'll leave you to find out exactly what gates and jobs gave to the world. let me know please!
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        Feb 27 2013: Ben

        As in the your first post this is conjecture.

        Nasa did not have anything to do with Cell phones, the main invention was cell towers that make cell phones possible. which like almost 100% of inventions was not government.

        The Wright brothers were the first to fly. Anything else is irrelevant.

        The invention of TV was not by the BBC

        Have a nice day
        • Feb 28 2013: on the contrary it isn't conjecture at all. as you can see if shown exactly where those discoveries were made. on the other hand you claim that inventions were made by for-profit organisations without giving any basis whatsoever for that claim.

          cell phones use both satellites (thanks nasa) and cell towers. cell towers work by sending signals by microwave transmission, which was developed mostly by the british government for communications during war. private companies later used that knowledge to build the towers and network, they did not invent it.

          the wright brothers were not the first to fly, they were the first to effectively control flight. they took ideas of others (non-patented of course) to build their own plane, to which they added their own clever method of steering. you can even read their original patent, which is not for the flying machine but its control mechanism, exactly as i've said.

          the bbc did not invent tv and i didn't say it did. it provided the funding for others to develop tv (they were so outrageously expensive that even the rich wouldn't by them, especially since there was nothing to watch on them)), and provided broadcasting services free of charge, without which no tvs would ever have been sold.

          nuclear power - government, solar panels - nasa, the ccd in all digital cameras - various european universities, computers - the british government and manchester university, lcd screens - a few european universities and the british government, etc.

          what private companies do is take research generated by non-profit organisations such as universities and government, and build products using it. some companies do their own research but inventions by these are in a tiny minority. bell labs was a good example, and even that got going on prize money given by the french government in 1880! again no thanks to capitalism!
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        Feb 28 2013: It is definitely conjecture. Lets take the example of a country that it entirely publicly funded such as N Korea verses S Korea or West Germany verses East Germany or Taiwan verses China. The countries who are entirely publicly funded do not prosper the one who are mostly privately funded do prosper. The reason is capitalism.

        You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.
        • Feb 28 2013: so you're saying that because socialist and communist countries don't fund science, then nasa couldn't possibly have developed solar panels? that turing who worked for the government couldn't have developed computers? that crick who worked for a university not a for-profit company therefore didn't discover the structure of dna? the way that government allocates its funds results in invention, not the form that government takes.

          how do you conclude that the examples i have presented are conjecture? perhaps you misunderstand what the word means? if someone were to claim "non-profit institutions do most of the research that supports our current quality of such, as evidenced by these examples A, B, C, and D" that i not conjecture, however someone claiming "capitalism did everything (the end no examples or support)" is exactly the definition of conjecture.

          come on i've given you multiple opportunities and even asked you directly to tell what capitalism has contributed to our current standard of living, and you keep avoiding the issue. i've shown you many examples of how non-profit institutions have conducted research that the private sector has then taken for free in order to make consumer goods, now it's your turn to actually back up your claims.
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        Feb 28 2013: Alright Benny this is my last post as I don't the time to go over the same point endlessly.

        You have not answered my last post. Capitalism has raised the standard of living, this is abundantly clear to anyone but the most obtuse. The diff is N Korea verses S Korea etc
        • Feb 28 2013: you haven't gone over your point even once, you've stated it many times without any support whatsoever. just declaring that capitalism has raised the standard of living without giving any supporting argument whatsoever doesn't make your case, it just shows you are incapable of making the case.

          again, north korea doesn't spend on science, south korea does, it has nothing to do with communism or democracy. in your very own country the government will spend $68 billion dollars on scientific research! if my previous question is too complicated for you, then tell me if capitalism is so good at improving our lives, why does it need the government to fund all the research before it can make any better products?
    • Feb 27 2013: To Pat......Having a cell phone radiating into my brain doesn't define 'quality of life'. Having electricity doesn't mean the air i breathe is clean. Or it is safe for me to walk outside at night because i have CCTV.
    • Feb 27 2013: That's pretty petty of you Pat.
      Bono needs to survive like anyone else while he tries to help and you simply dismiss him when he did what he had to for himself. Quite similar to how you once dismissed someone else by simply using a demonizing term, saying how you could see socialism was alive and well south of the border.

      Well, we've never had Communism or Socialism without money being involved. That is why they mostly fail because money breeds corruption and that destroys the apple cart.

      The standard of living exists for some. It needs to exist for everyone not just fancy Amerikans.
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        Feb 27 2013: Bono sings and lobbies about the need to care about others yet refuses to pay the taxes required to fund the socialism he espouses. This is what socialist accuse the capitalists of doing similar to Al Gore and that ilk. I'm merely stating that people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks.
        • Feb 28 2013: you make a good point about bono and i agree, it's wrong to say one thing and then prove the opposite by doing the other. bono moved in order to avoid paying higher taxes, as far as i know though al gore has done no such thing, what do you base that statement on? (genuinely curious, not trying to have a go at you)
  • Feb 27 2013: There is room in the world for a healthy capitalism. We can learn from Scandinavian countries things that could help the United States and the world at large. Because although the US is still the richest country in the world, we know and see that a lot of Americans wouldn't feel like being part of the richest and poverty has been rising domestically. Some practical (common sense) ideas that could contribute to the kind of world both you and Bono are thinking about are:

    - Healthy spending on accessible and equal quality education for people in all communities (esp. early in life)

    - Regs making it harder for businesses to influence public policies or add provisions tailored only for them (Tax loopholes for instance in the US enable corporations to pay very low (or null at times) actual tax although on the face the US has a high corp tax rate. Significant tax $ is lost due to local & foreign tax havens.)

    - Current & future taxpayers money is wasted indirectly for subsidies for the financial industry: gov payments and guarantees in the housing markets that didn't and won't profit homeowners.

    - It is too easy for corp to shed jobs in the US, and not for serious efficiency or strategy reasons but simply to hit quarterly earnings numbers expected by analysts. (there are articles in the news every week especially with big banks cutting jobs)

    - Regs that curb sourcing practices of firms in developing countries (fairly priced and un-bloody resources: No need to talk about Congo a well known example. I will talk about Niger which supplies for "pennies" most of the Uranium for France via the Firm Areva (nuclear is the main source of energy in France), etc.

    - Less subventions to western farmers (esp. USA for Cotton & Corn). This "kills" the farmers from poor countries who rely on Agriculture but have to sell their harvest at loss.

    - More tech & high speed internet in Africa to empower the youth

    - Return the $ hidden in Swiss banks by former African dictators

    - etc...
  • Mar 26 2013: Nope. It's unsustainable. As long as Corporation focus their agenda to shareholder instead of their employees welfare. I don't see it that it will be sustainable in the future.

    In recent years the robot technology (humanoid) is on the rise. What do you think will happen when Corporations make a decisions to replace their cheap labor workers around the world with a lot more cheap and effective humanoid robot?

    For comparison according to ILO there are 215 millions of child labor around the world. So I can only say that eradicating all poverty by 2030 is unrealistic.
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      Mar 26 2013: It is sad to me that these great capitalists cannot see that even they will be happier if all are. We are all in this together.
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    Mar 25 2013: I'm enjoying this conversation. I don't have much to add, except that, having both Cuban and Venezuelan relatives, I have seen the failure of those 2 systems. (Communism and what is masquerading as socialism). Can agree with most of the posters here that capitalism appears to be the most sustainable system, but it does need a bit of regulation.
    As my Dad was fond of saying when we were kids (and due to his interest in reading many world philosophies, was branded as a "communist" by my grandmother!), systems such as communism "work great on paper", just not in real life.
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      Mar 25 2013: except they don't work on paper either, as ludwig von mises explained back in 1920's why and how the soviet union is doomed to fail.
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      Mar 25 2013: What do you understand when talking about sustainability?

      I wouldnt dare to call capitalism sustainable if your talking about ecological sustainability if you talk about self sustainability (keeping itself alive) then yes it is sustainable.
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    Mar 24 2013: Perhaps the architecture of capitalism makes it easy for the rich to get richer. And as the rich get richer, and control a larger portion of the economy -- because our country lives or dies off its economy -- it becomes easier for the rich to manipulate politics and the law, and -- not coincidentally -- the policies they enact end up speeding up trends of income inequality even more. Marx said capitalism always ends in monopoly. Maybe it's more like capitalism always ends in stratification, but how far can stratification go? A recent slew of articles have come out declaring income inequality "permanent." Not good news. And it's only getting worse, but what happens when employers don't properly compensate their workers for their labor is that they the general public can no longer afford the products made for them.

    The 1950's were the happiest economic decade in American history, and the top marginal tax rate was 91%. In 1914, world class son-of-a-bitch Henry Ford looked out at his workers and thought, "What if they could buy my cars?" He then offered $5 wages ($120 today.) The best mechanics flocked to Ford and training costs were reduced. Studies have shown that after a certain point, consuming more does not make you happier. So when the rich are sitting on these pools of money and the common man is scraping the floor to get by, the only way for the economy to fundamentally function is for rich people to spend and consume more than could possibly make them happy. In a world full of suffering poor people, I just don't think that's just.

    Capitalism CAN be sustainable, I really believe that, but only when well regulated by laws and incentives that take the environment and the entire populous into into account.
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      Mar 24 2013: Capitalism may always end in monopoly as Marx stated, but so does any other human system. Of all the ratty systems that man has devised, capitalism still offers the best chance for the largest numbers of people to escape poverty.
      • Mar 25 2013: I totally agree, Capitalism rewards those who work and gives incentives to those who don't.
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          Mar 25 2013: I do not believe in anything that passively punishes. We incentivize our children to "work hard," but we have a narrow view of "working hard." What of men who work hard to cultivate their hearts and not their wallets? What of men who, with open arms, accept the mantra, "I will take advantage of others to become rich?" What, then, when they reach their desired destination, are they rich in but greed and green pieces of paper?

          Perhaps your assertion should be revised: capitalism rewards those who work to become wealthy and gives incentives to those who don't. The principle here seems to be: wealth is the pinnacle. I feel a true sadness for the men who set -- and reach that goal -- to find it only cold and empty.

          I am an Athiest. My religion is truth; but I can say with relative confidence that capitalism is idolatry.
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      Mar 25 2013: Mr. Hall,
      You are almost correct, but close only counts in horseshoes. Capitalism is self correcting in it's very nature. It's those who abuse it who need the the regulation. And all those rich world class son of a bitches you described
      do not sit on money, the only rich people who did that was Jack Benny and Scrooge McDuck.

      And surprisingly, all those rich folks do take the environment and the entire population into account. The entire population are their customers, the other half of the sale, the customer, the contract. And sometimes whether we like it or not, those customers will ask for a contract to provide them with... stuff from the environment, like gas and oil..
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        Mar 25 2013: I am a human being. I pity you if you consider yourself a customer.

        One of the reasons the American Medical Association lobbied against the first New Deal was that they did not want regulators overseeing the shady practices of doctors. Capitalism paves avenues for the selfish and hides tunnels for the selfless. The string-pullers of the money market began deregulating the financial regulatory framework we put in place after the Great Depression to SAFEGUARD against ANOTHER depression around 1970. That deconstruction was complete in the 1990's with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, which effectively separated commercial and investment banks. With it gone, they intermingled again... fifteen years down the road: the worst economic downturn since the great depression. All of this was orchestrated, choreographed and performed by the so-called "one percent."

        The point is, the saturation of capitalism from "ambitious startup" in colonial America to "global religion" has given us an expectation that capitalism is the way things are. It is the pinnacle. When, in history, has a people not thought what they had was the pinnacle, and when -- except in rare instances (See: Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi) -- were these people, in retrospect, not written off as naive or shortsighted?

        Life is not a game of numbers. Capitalism is a game of numbers. I finish with two quotes. "It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society." That's Jiddu Krishnamurti -- and, "Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world, there are only individuals." Oscar Wilde said that. It's true.
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          Mar 26 2013: I am at a loss, What has anything you've written address the economic system being discussed. The concept of capitalism goes back to the earliest days of mankind gathering into villages and dividing up the tasks needed for the village to survive. And I believe Capitalism is sustainable as long as people stop trying to "fix" it.
          You are defending the Progressive Political Babble that came from an elitist academic fringe that managed to influence the Roosevelt s and Wilson among others. Let me give you an old reference: Plato already thought it up 2500 years ago, it was only a theory then and a bad idea now.
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        Mar 26 2013: Can you please explain how capitalism is self-correcting? I'm sorry. I'm afraid I just don't understand.
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      Mar 26 2013: Well said.
      I wouldn't insult Henry Ford's mother though :) I don't think he was aware of the impact of the labour system in his company. The impact on the life of the workers in it, I mean. He just wanted to make cars. On the other hand, somebody should make him aware of that.
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    Mar 23 2013: The topic at hand is: "Is capitalism sustainable?" I think we ought to keep that in mind as we go. I am talking to myself as much as anyone else. I think we tend to lose focus and get lost in larger issues.

    I think that capitalism is sustainable. My question is:

    If not capitalism, then what system is sustainable?

    To those who don't like capitalism, or seriously believe that it can not be sustained, and want to replace it with a system along the lines of communism, I have asked the questions:

    Why would we choose to replace a flawed system with one that has failed?
    How would we put this system in place?
    Woul;d we be willing to use force to do so?
    Where do we find the altruists who can cary this out without becoming like thos "greedy capitalists"?
    I would also like to know why the political and economic interest of socialists and communists is somehow superior to that of capitalists?

    I have yet to get an answer.
    • Mar 25 2013: Mike, James,
      I agree with you heartily. May I offer a few comments about the problems of those comments that trashes the capitalism, but offer only some vague suggestions about "fair and just" economic system. We already know that pure communism did not fare well. Mmoreover, the original communism based their theory on the principle pf workers (proletariat) revolution, but as I stated in my previous discussion, the future of our economy will base more on capitalism and less on manual labor. So the basic thesis of Communism no longer applies.
      I have also carefully observed the economic situation in Europe. Briefly there are two categories. The first one consisted of the southern European countries. where the governments follow the so-called tax and welfare spending in order to achieve the "economically fair and just society". And we all know that it didn't work, and the chaos is contagious from Greece and now to Cyprus. On he other side there are Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, they also are with capitalism, They are working satisfactorily. Why the difference? In my opinion, the difference is that the citizens in these latter countries have the proper attitude that if they are capable of working to contribute to the society, they would rather work than sit back and receive the welfare payment from the government. Therefore a real almost "fair and just society" has been achieved.
      In economic sense, the society can't sustain itself if its economy only depends on a few citizens to work hard and produce commodity for the consumption of all, it usually falls short if majority of the citizens are idle and live on lavish welfare as in Southern European countries Of course, The government policy influences partially to this INEQUALITY. Welfare is not a dirty word if it is only used for the citizens in need but can't work because of age or disability, but it is not good when the government uses it to pay the able bodied citizens simply for the votes in the election.
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        Mar 25 2013: It is fair to note that the countries you mentioned, the ones that are doing well, also actually have measurable production of products and services. They are also taxed at high rates, and are edging away from elected socialism to the right as time goes on. Your examples are slightly Germanic, you could add Norway and Denmark, and for a little ballance throw in Ireland which has managed to stay the course and seems to be returning to a vibrant economy.
        • Mar 25 2013: James,
          I believe that you misunderstood my comment about the "tax and spending" problem in Europe. As a matter of fact, I really didn't criticize high tax per se since the Germanic countries do have high taxes for the expense in welfare support. However, I was objecting to the high debt by overspending on welfare like that in Greece, say. More precisely, using debt building AND high tax to pay welfare which is used to discourage citizens from seeking work or from their desire to improve education in technology in qualifying them to work and earn a good living. So that this "government stimulus" from high tax receipt does not increase the productivity, thus does not contribute to the economic improvement. Then this "tax and spending" caused heavy debt becomes a negative in the cost-benefit equation. I omitted Norway, because its natural energy resources serves as a buffer for its welfare payments, and Denmark is also a Germanic country, isn't it? The 3 countries I mentioned are among the largest capitalistic ones in Europe. So excuse me for my sins of omission. :-)
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        Mar 25 2013: I understood Bart, just throwing some more info into the pot. I actually agree. It is the productive places that are doing well. I would like to see tak rates go down, everywhere, especially mine! :)
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    Mar 23 2013: With automation, it is pretty much as it has always been with new developments. There are times of anxiety, followed by gains in the business and consumer end of the economy, losses in jobs temporarily effecting labor, followed by new jobs that no one ever even thought of before the innovations. It is sustainable, as long as part of our brain power is involved in finding solutions to the problems we create along the way.
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      Mar 23 2013: James, are you saying that an individual who has an idea for a great product or service will hire a few people and get it our there to make a profit and maybe grow his business, hiring even more people? One day, he/she could become one of the top 1%. Like Ray Kroc did or Bill Gates? Think of it, an individual capitalist, taking a risk and putting it out there. the capitalist and his ilk may hold the key to ending our current economic problems.
      Of course, this would not play well in a string of comments that lament the great social and economic problems of our times. All those great multinational companies who trash the environment, exploit the poor... you've heard all the comments. Of course, you never hear about the hundreds of thousands of direct employees and millions of indirect employees who are working.
      Now, there are those that say, those big companies don't pay enough. I don't don't know. But I am not saying that companies are not with out sin.. But what I don't understand is the impediments that are placed to prevent individual capitalist to excel and the disdain that is shown. There are promises of great new social and economic orders but they seem to always start by ending the current systems and not fully defining the new. .
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        Mar 23 2013: Well Mike, that seems to be the way it works where I live in the world. I think some of the big companies do manage to cheat, but that is a legislative or judicial matter, not a reason to crash the only workable system. I am still reeling from the idea that there are some who still think that communism is still a pretty neat idea!
  • Mar 22 2013: I am confused at why members respond to people's submissions without "liking" them. I am new to TED, but I'm not here practicing my typing. I am realistic that all my submissions will not be "hits", but if you are responding to me, try hitting the like button, as I do every time I respond to another. I even told my responder to like , but he didn't and he even replied again, without liking. I am also venting against the host of the question; Reward those who respond to your question, within reason. As a principle, I have "unliked" my responder and the host.
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      Mar 22 2013: Thomas, you make a good point, and I have found myself guilty of this. Now that you have brought it to my attention I will try to do better. I think that in some cases people don't "like" a comment, because they don't really like the comment! They don't want to like something with which they do not agree. Still, point well taken.
      • Mar 22 2013: I don't "like" every thing I respond to if I disagree. I reward those who took time to be profound, for no other gain but advancement. This should be a topical question all its own, I am unable to directly post questions, but if anyone can, they should.
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      Mar 22 2013: Thomas,
      James makes the point better the I could.
      Maybe when I read comments of people that I can agree with to some point, I comment and I will give acknowledgment to those points.

      But, I tend to give likes to those comments that "really blow my socks off"
      Those words that make me say, "Why didn't I write that?"
      So, if I am one of those that didn't give you a " like" for an agreeable comment, don't take it personally and I won't feel bad if I didn't " blow your socks off" for you to give me a "like"

      My "rewards" from TED members are comments that challenge my comments and give me something more to think about.
      • Mar 22 2013: I saw you saying things like "I agree with" and such and assumed this was equivalent to like. Reward only what is profound to you. The host on the other hand can be generous, within reason, to those who have taken the time to answer. Time is more valuable than Money.
    • Mar 22 2013: Is this kindergarten?
      • Mar 22 2013: No. Kindergarten gives little stars and you get a recess. Plus it is only a half day.
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    Mar 21 2013: capitalism is about doing more with less, which cannot continue forever so i don't think that we can eradicate poverty without contribution from the rich and the wealthy.

    also, the rich have more power that governments in capitalism, which means that they decide who gets a chance to a decent life and who doesn't. i think a more realistic goal would be to try to reduce poverty as much as possible.
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      Mar 22 2013: That's the Army that has to do more with less.

      Poverty is more a state of mine. More about "coveting thy neighbors goods" ( A reference from the Torah) then really being without any resources.

      Rich ... not so rich ... everyone only gets one vote. Someone tries to buy more votes... put them on an iceburg, send them to a south sea island.
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        Mar 22 2013: @Mike Colera
        "Rich ... not so rich ... everyone only gets one vote"

        Theoretically this idea is flawless.

        But, are governments really doing what benefits people? [note: I assume voters want good for themselves hence they choose adequate candidate]

        As Questions First says: " the rich have more power that governments in capitalism". That's a proven fact which peoples are stopping to ignore!
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          Mar 22 2013: OK, I'd concede that only in a perfect world, voters would vote for the best overall outcome putting their personal concerns and greed aside.
          And I will also concede that there are voters who are bought, lack understanding, self indulgent. or simply do not exercise their vote.
          But if a nation's voters do not or can not vote the best they understand, then they become another historical footnote.
          Consider the great societies that began as republics, beginning with the Roman.
          And it really was not so much about wealth, but about the power that money can buy.
          I try to make the point that if voters do not exercise their power, all the bad things people have written in these conversations will become true.
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      Mar 22 2013: So, Kareem Fahim and Questions First , do you think that the self interest of politicians, even those well meaning socialist politicians, is somehow supperior to the self interest of the wealthy?
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        Mar 24 2013: First of all, I don't think there are a lot of 'real socialist politicians' around. At least not here where I live.

        To your question: ultimately it's all a freak show where corps/rich hire politicians who pave way for their interests.
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          Mar 24 2013: Okay, that happens in all systems, coruption seems to be ever present. The questions would be : Is there some type of human being existing somewhere on this planet that you would trust to run your economic and political system? Do you think Communist leaders are less corruptable than capitalist leaders? Would you consider political self interest to be better than economic self interest? I watched the video you linked. Still, the questions stand. What sort of of system would replace the current systems? What is in place to rid the world of greed and corruption?
  • Mar 20 2013: Agreed.

    However, nuclear war might come before the ecological disaster as nations fight for diminishing resources.

    A global resource based economy should ensure fairer distribution of food, which would help to eradicate obesity in the west and starvation in other parts of the world.
    • Mar 22 2013: "World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones"-Einstein
  • Mar 19 2013: Capitalism is only sustainable if the success of a business is measures by three bottom lines:

    1. Planet: Business activities must be ecologically sustainable
    2. People: Business activities must not infringe on the well being of society
    3. Profit: The business needs to make a profit to survive
    • Mar 20 2013: 1 and 3 are quite obvious but 1 is certainly not seen as fundamentally necessary to businesses in the current scheme of things.

      "well being of society" is something that is vague and perhaps what this whole debate is about in the first place. What would your definition of well being of society be?

      Also I think this is a little simplistic because capitalism is about more than entrepreneurship. What happens to the legal system, the banks, etc. etc. Good always happens at the cost of evil. well being of group a happens at the cost of group b.

      Also what happens to resources? Do they remain divided as they are now?
      • Mar 20 2013: Thank you Umaid.

        The question is: is Capitalism sustainable?

        The current form of capitalism requires perpetual growth from finite resources. In fact, two thirds of the worlds natural resources have been used up. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/mar/30/environment.research

        This is clearly not sustainable. So I would argue that 1 certainly should be fundamental to businesses that want to remain in business long term.

        With regards to well being of society, this is an Oxymoron. Capitalism, like slavery, can be criticized for the negative effects it has on any hope for equality — in wealth, income, power, access to culture, and so on. Capitalism is a system of production perpetuating a structural inequality and injustice located at its core. Capitalism requires exploitation of local and global society... abolition of that exploitation is the only way towards the well being of society.

        In a world of abundance, the global society will demand better well being at some point in time.

        Capitalism is not sustainable.

        A resource based economy that transends capitalism society is where we are headed.
        • Mar 20 2013: In agreement.

          I hope I was able to convey that although 1 is certainly the bottom line, most people don't realize the urgent implications of the "warning signs" or at the very least fail to take noteworthy and appropriate actions in response.

          Also I think we need to evaluate what our definition of abundance is. IF every individual in the world consumed as much as the average citizen in Western Europe or the United States the world would run out of food!
    • Mar 22 2013: well said and worth a TED Cred
  • Mar 19 2013: Can anyone point out, concretely, what the decisions made by politicians are the cause of our problems and are against the will of most of people?
    Do you believe that the will of the majority of citizens, in terms of polls/votes, are a good way to make public's decisions and policies?
    Or, what kinds of decisions and policies are not suitable to be made by polls/votes?
    If there is a case that majority decision is bad, how a good one can be produced?

    Well, one of the defects of the current politics is that, instead of making bad decisions,
    they don't make any decision, especially for those debatable. They just endless debate and maybe compromise...
    A intuitive solution I can put out right now is that , if possible, we should experiment the various decisions/policies simultaneously, in a smaller scale; and then see the outcomes.
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    Mar 18 2013: I have an example why Capitalism in the US is troubled.

    Two twelve year old children want to earn money over the summer to spend on their vacation trip to Disneyland. So far, so good. I admire little people with "spunk".
    They set up a card table on the front lawn and made a sign offering fresh squeezed lemonade for 50 cents a glass. They went with their mother to the store and purchased a large bag of fresh lemons and sugar.
    they went home and made a big pitcher of lemonade and took it out to the table with a stack of disposable cups and a box of change. Capitalism is born.
    BUT....
    The police came by and shut down this lemonade stand and gave the Mom a ticket with a $200 fine for the illegal operation of a business.
    So, just what did these two kids do or didn't do.
    Well: they didn't get a city business license. Since it was a food service business in a residential area, they didn't apply for a waiver for zoning. They didn't get the sales tax permit or attend the food handlers safety training course and have the health department to inspect the kitchen for sanitary code violations. Then there was the matter of getting the federal tax id for filing the federal taxes. Since this would be a probably a LLP, they could request a waiver for providing health care for employees so there would not be any liabilities under new healthcare law.

    So, why are those people in the 99% seemingly unable to breakout regardless of skills, talents, desire to get ahead.. and the 1 % seem to do so well...

    I think it is because the 1% can afford to hire a gaggle of lawyers to deal with all the applications and forms and fees and politicians and bureaucrats and and and...
  • Mar 16 2013: Larry, You mentioned earlier I think about the environmental aspect of capitalism running out of materials and resources? What about charging businesses for the things they take out of the environment? I'm just spit balling here but could there be a way to charge a "true price" for resources? Say we charge for things that belong to the public like clean air, water, minerals etc that belong to all of us but companies use or pollute? Call it a resource tax. Thoughts?
    • Mar 17 2013: I feel what you've hit on Tyler is a major component of reforming and rationalizing Capitalism. Law & Economics tends to phrase it as "ensuring that prices reflect the true cost of goods". It's a major component of tort theory (you use civil law monetary penalties to ensure a business doesn't profit from what is a net societal harm).

      Applied to the production of goods, it is basically using taxes tariffs and regulation to ensure that what you pay at market for something reflects not only the seller's "cost" but the cost of all of the effects of production. I'd lump all manner of things in there, environmental effects of goods and production, effects on worker health and welfare, effects on consumers etc.

      It isn't really an anti-capitalist notion, just recognition that prices in an unregulated market can't be relied on to encorporate the intangible or second order effects, and that the market forces unfettered producers to avoid every cost they can with little thought to the harm. In a system where prices reflected the true cost of goods "market price" would still exist, but "supply and demand" effects would be a margin on top of the true cost rather than the inexorable economic force that gives us nine-year olds sewing soccer balls.
    • Mar 17 2013: Resource use charge: This is a good idea good imho because it recognizes something actually beyond the bottom line. The problem with Capitalism has always been the accounting system - there are traditional ethical and practical issues around Interest, (Magrit Kennedy in "Interest and Inflation free Money is very good on that) but going deeper the concept of private property is intrinsically anti -science, anti human and anti-environment. (It is often confused with respect for other humans which is another thing altogether. Interesting that the concept of Private Property for other animals has never been championed.).

      We know very well that individuals do not live in isolation yet wealthy people and their followers continue to preach self interest, even base whole economic philosophies on it and impost it on other cultures by force.

      Pathetic, really but that's the way it is for the moment. There are stirrings of hope here but the next 50 years are going to be very interesting at least.

      .
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    Mar 16 2013: The economic history of the past century is proof that unrestricted capitalism is not sustainable.

    When profit is the only motive, basic long term thinking and goals go out the window. Deregulation, a hallmark of untempered capitalism produces short term growth and profits, but will ultimately have repercussions for the future.

    Look at what countries suffered the most from the recession, especially Britain and USA which were deregulated to great immediate growth by Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan respectively. The countries which are doing best have embraced the principles of capitalism and competition, while maintaining safeguards and plan for the future. In Scandinavia, countries like Sweden have managed to maintain a vibrant manufacturing industry, unionized and subject to Government regulations but still competitive.

    Ultimately, Capitalism is a system which fosters exponential growth, and this growth has already begun to strain the limited planetary resources. A balance must be found, historical examples of unbridled expansion abound. A balance must be found or risk the fate of Easter Island but on a global scale
    • Mar 16 2013: Phillip,
      Bang on! Unbridled capitalism may be useful for taking a country from pioneer days to a modern civilization but its constant demand for more, more, more growth eventually begins to harm the society it inhabits. It must be taken in hand and put under 'heavy manners' and strict control of the society.

      Capitalism is a tool. Nothing more. It does not deserve to run the society for its own benefit. That is not why men come together and form societies. Our society exists for our benefit - not that of ANY economic system. We need to get our capitalist economic system under control and keep it there. It's a fine system when used right; just like any other tool when used right. But it can burn us badly if we keep on allowing it to run rampant over our society.
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        Mar 17 2013: exactly it must be recognized that capitalism has no loyalty. Not to any state, not even to Humanity, it is a forest fire, if controlled beneficial, but must be monitored closely
        • Mar 17 2013: Phillip,
          Monitored closely hell....! It must be controlled firmly and strictly. It is, by its very nature, rapacious to an extreme degree. It must be held to doing only what is beneficial to the society. Capitalism operates solely for profit; our society operates solely for the benefit of its members. To me the social system is therefor the prime system and takes precedence over all other systems we use. People come first. They come first as individuals and as a group. No economic system should ever interfere with that.
  • Mar 16 2013: God forbid that you had your tongue in cheek! I've just suggested that we hire poor people to help us do without. I think I need an intervention now!
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      Mar 16 2013: Well, I suspect the standard capitalist response would be a question something like: "How did you earn the wealth to hire them?" That is slightly" tongue in cheek".
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    Mar 16 2013: I like Iceland's answer to that question.because it actually visited that question as a nation and decided that sustainability, thrievability included so much more than capitalism and expressed that in a beuatiful, eloquent crowd sourced constituion.

    Our U.S. Constiutution is actually capitalist and colonilaist..it is a far cry from the eloquently humanitarian and egalitarian vision of the declaration of independence. Jefferson actually visited that when he became president and decided that the ship f state would eventually tack towards what was expressed in the dxelaration of independence and to some extent that has happened.

    By its very definition and workings capitalism eventually includes a 1% who have all the wealth and power and disenfranchised 99% . It is only that false hope that everyone has an equal shot at wealth and advancement that allows it to perpetuate. Now the 99% get that. With no riots upheaval or war the 99% are already leading us away from capitalism towards an economic and social vision that is not only sustainable but hopefully thriveable..
  • Mar 16 2013: "Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else's resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property." quote by Milton Friedman...this capitalism argument has been settled long ago. It is the best system to lift all boats for those that are willing to work. We just haven't been practicing capitalism here in the US for a very very long time. Tyrants and communism do what they do best, infiltrate and promote propaganda, and it ends the same way every time. Read history and read original sources not someone's interpretation.
    • Mar 16 2013: "We just haven't been practicing capitalism here in the US for a very very long time."

      It says Capitalism on the label and when you open the can, it's full of worms, is that what you mean? The Friedman Brand doesn't have the worms? Maybe you should go tell the economists that - many of them feel that Mr Friedman ignores the data which doesn't support his theories.....
      • Mar 16 2013: Proof? I don't hear an argument here.
        • Mar 16 2013: There's no proof that America is a Capitalist Country? No argument? That's because there is no real argument - it is pretty much self evident - America IS a Capitalist economy in the accepted sense of the word. The majority (60%+) of economic activity is Capitalist. You have to go to Sweden (50%) to get into a "mixed" economy and to Cuba (20%) to get a "Socialist" one.

          The US is famous for its full blown espousal of Capitalism, and will go to enormous lengths to impose its preferred system on other nations. (1) Like it or not, the epitome of Capitalism is now seen as being the US Economy as a result of this propaganda offensive.

          When faced with evidence of failures of the market to deliver, the US is not a real / pure Capitalist System according to those who do not wish to accept that the theory of Capitalism is simply a political construct.. (2)

          Friedman is frequently wheeled out by Libertarians but real life attempts at Monetarism can and do fail - "...we looked at the Thatcher government’s monetarist experiment in the early 1980s. It did not end well." (3) "Monetarist policies did not perform well when they were applied in many countries during the 1980s, as even Friedman has since conceded". (4)

          As for the assertion that ".....if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property." that does not stand up. (5)

          And as for the Free Market, there is not a genuinely free market on the planet. They (Markets) just can't function without Regulation. That's why every civilisation in history including so called Capitalist ones has had some form of Government.


          1. Cold War, 1945-1989, countless other Military and Economic interventions.
          2. Lisa's position as stated above, often repeated on other fora.
          3. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com
          4. http://www.economist.com/economics-a-to-z/q
          5. Common sense: Public Libraries are more efficient than private ones,
      • Mar 16 2013: America does not have a truly Capitalist system and saying it doesn't make it so. Free markets are not as you imply, anarchist with no government whatsoever. In a free market the government keeps the peace, enforces contracts, and if you have a problem you can resolve that in court. The reality is the government picks winners and losers. The government chokes competition by extensive regulation. Big business can manage to work with extensive stacks of regulations but smaller business can be deterred. The government allows free loaders to coast on the work of others.

        This is clearly not a free market system. And every time this system is tried we get the same problem: economic failure for lack of a profit motive, too many regulations and top down economic planning.

        Both of us seem to agree that the US as it is now is not a good system. But we seem to differ on our definitions of a successful system and our solutions to the current problem. As I understand it, you want the government to protect everyone, even from themselves? My solution to the problem would be to remove restrictions and allow people succeed or fail on their own wits and dime.

        Treat the cause, not the symptom. Going back to the hair of dog never helped a drunk and regulating an already deeply regulated economy in stress will not solve the problem.
  • Mar 16 2013: Describing any work as 'menial' strikes me as pompous and presumptuous. I have not done janitorial work or built roads, but I have worked in factories doing highly repetitive assembly work. While ultimately I chose to do work that relies on my mind rather than my body, I derived some satisfaction from doing such 'menial' work from doing it the best I could. And I met others who were near retirement who didn't seem to feel as if they were being exploited. They were grateful for the benefits that having such jobs conferred, and they enjoyed the freedom that these jobs gave them. When they punched out, they were done - no budgets, HR issues, or waking up at 3am worried about their project budgets. Not everyone in this world is destined to be an engineer for a startup firm, or be an executive on wall street.

    I love the fact that there are people who are good at and enjoy doing pretty much every job there is, especially because I know most of those jobs are ones I would either be hopeless at, or would absolutely loathe, or both. But that doesn't mean I don't think those who are doing them don't enjoy their work. Sure some don't have the luxury of choosing, and will take whatever they can get. But the fact is, one can take pride is doing pretty much anything well. The real question is will they?

    Then it comes down to society to establish a way of first identifying those individuals who max out their abilities in doing whatever they are doing; and then compensating them accordingly.

    Life ain't fair. The contributions of some will be greater than the contributions of others due to all sorts of circumstances. And society will reward some more than others as a result. That's life. And it sounds an awful lot like the (admittedly imperfect, and in some cases horribly inequitable) system we now have.
    • Mar 16 2013: I like the healthy respect for "menial" labour shown in this post. Many such jobs require real qualities of steadfastness and intelligence. It squares nicely with the next comment that "poverty is when there are no Factories Orchards and Roads"

      As a way of organising Factories Orchards and Roads and providing Jobs, Capitalism is surely specifically designed to be UN-sustainable. What it is good at is wrecking those things, and replacing them with larger, more "efficient" units. E.F. Schumacher, ("Small is Beautiful") argues that this is not purely an economic imperative but a psychological one. (ie in whole system analysis, smaller units are often more economic, but factory owners like to the size of plants growing.)
  • Mar 15 2013: Yes, capitalism is the only sustainable and dynamic economic system; however, current consumption of raw materials, pollution, and population growth may not be sustainable. In the past, we have found solutions to our problems, providing more food for more people, living ever longer and wealthier lives. If we find are able to get more cheap energy... there are real possibilities.

    Regarding your question about wages, people are paid real wages (nominal wage/ price level) based on the marginal productivity of their labor. To raise real wages, one must raise productivity, and to raise productivity we need more education and technology (usually related to more knowledge & education). It will never be possible to eliminate jobs that are "low paid" (in the sense that they are paid less compared to others) but it is very possible to eliminate absolute poverty.
  • Mar 15 2013: The 'definition' you state is not an official definition that I have ever read. In fact, what you write is similar to an expert from a comment about Webster's official definition of the word on Webster's website. The comment was started with: "The 'Left' has Hijacked the word greed." He goes on to basically re-define the word by saying "Greed is not the desire for things, it is the desire for things at the expense of others." This is not the definition of the word...ANYWHERE!!! While I do not want to disrespect Luke's original question by going too deep into Political manipulation (or disrespect you), but this is what this is. Greed at its base is all about "Excess!" Having, Consuming or Desiring more than one's needs. What you would like to have pass as "another" definition is actually "creating" a new definition, so the "Right' can throw yet another label on folks in need, or of little means, as well as justify your own Greed by in essence "changing" the definition of Greed. You completley ignore the fact that "value" has to be "determined" as does the "percentage" in return. Who decides that the CEO of Wall-Mart is of more Value than my child's 6th Grade Teacher? Its the folks with the most money that will have more influence as to what and how things are both determined and done....who gets what and how much. So Greed is a Natural path for our Culture to take. Money is the power. It is the most important thing on the Planet. We don't embrace our People, we embrace our money. You would rather choose to shift blame and characterize an individual who does not have the means to bring equal "value" (as you decide its not) to the table, simply because they would like to have something that may make their life better...not more or too much....as Greedy, Instead of taking the definition as it has been for hundreds of years, and apply it where it should be. As long as we use the system as it is, many will never have an Equal chance. Its not like we started yesterday.
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      Mar 15 2013: Sean Newman Maron has a good comment on greed below. I will not debate the term any furthere since it seems to be settled in your mind. There was never a dissagreement on that to begin with.
  • Mar 14 2013: It all boils down to resources. Who controls the majority of it, or how resources are being allocated. People will always have the choice how they want to live or the kinds of job that they would like to perform. When someone does not have a choice on the most basic necessities (food, water, shelter, clothing) then capitalism is hording and not re-investing back to mitigate social inequality. Capitalism is free market and does not owe anything to social equality, thus we see monopoly in large business organizations. For something to be sustainable there has to be a sense of accountability.
  • Mar 14 2013: it seems the only way to look at this is in real time as in watching a class emerge from being impoverished in china india brazil etc. and recognize the sameness of the pathway has not changed. It is a petro and material mining economy which subjects us all to it's very significant physical consequences. Having a source of energy that represents technology evolution to leave these consequences which tether us to them would change the age old fear dominance and submission class model and thereby allow it to work. So capitalism small c replaces an age old Capital C version with a sustainable passive energy technology in my vision of it anyway.
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    Mar 14 2013: What u r discussing her e i cannot understand , but only one thing i have understood is ONLY THE DEATH OF MONEY COULD BECOME THE BEGINNING OF CHARACTER!!!
    • Mar 16 2013: I agree with this, I think.

      (Not in the Biblical sense that the love of money is at the root of all evil, but at the operating system level where the "software" of money undermines our the capacity of our hard-wired, higher intelligence?)
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    Mar 13 2013: Not only is capitalism sustainable, it is the only system that has ever worked. Does it always work well? No. Is it still rough around the edges? Yes, always and forever, Can we make it better? Absolutely! Is there greed and corruption? Yes! Show me a system where greed and corruption does not exist! It existed in the former Soviet Union, it exists today in China and all other communist and socialist countries as well as capitalist countries. The difference is, that in capitalist countries ther is an opportunity (sometimes hindered by greed and corruption, but still there) for people to escape the poverty. Wealth and poverty is not a zero sum game. Wealth is created, (and yes, sometimes stolen) and there can be enough for all. What stands in the way of economic equality is not the greed of capitalists, it is the greed of politics.
    • Mar 15 2013: Tribal egalitarianism worked for humanity for thousands of years. Most people would scoff at tribal societies and call them backwards but they did do a few things right that us civilized can't seem to get right.
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        Mar 15 2013: Interesting point. At least the wars were smaller!
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    Mar 13 2013: Indeed, the great Renaissance of the 18th century was associated with the attractive character of capital and its birth time gravity. The forthcoming Renaissance of the 21st century will be associated with the repulsive character of capital and its death time gravity. In other words, the law of repulsion is connected with the law of detachment.

    In the near future, all forms of the bailout packages of all governments will become outdated to save the precarious down trend of the economy. The final crunch of the currency system will lead the entire world towards the hazardous collapse. Immediately after the powerful crumble, the entire world will behold a grave disorder in the global banking system. In the aftermath, all currencies will lose their complete value. All over the world there will be an unprecedented monetary meltdown. As a result, the export and import business will witness a grinding halt. Then not even a single product will move from one place to another. There will be complete disconnection between human beings and the law and order situation.
    
    Nevertheless, there is nothing to worry. Whenever the human mind or nature witness inner energy crunch it will cross the threshold of chaos and will emerge in the form of a dynamic force or an idea in correspondence with the particular space-time.

    In the approaching days, the strong compressive wave of global financial repulsion will give birth to a sudden change in the psychological velocity, density, pressure and temperature of the entire humanity and will spiritually design the long awaited Utopian dream of tension-free and recession-free zone on earth forever!

    So, be happy don't Worry!

    For more details go through my conversation at the link below:

    How many days we can run the economy without productivity?
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/17034/how_many_days_we_can_run_the_e.html
  • Mar 12 2013: I think many here have always earned a wage and never had to make payroll. But my point specifically is that capitalism should not be confused with corporatism. the corporation, especially the more modern multi-national type is a perversion of free markets and free people. In its most simple construct, capitalism involves adding value to something so that the result is something people are willing to work to pay for at a price higher than its cost. In this respect, capitalism is simply just another system where people add value to society, but society gets to decide if it is truly valuable. And if it is society that gets to decide value (hundreds of individual decisions), is that not very democratic? Modern corporatism is very undemocratic because being treated as a legal person, a corporation doesn't die unless it kills itself (bad management or buy-out). Thus, the successful corporation only gets stronger and more influential economically and politically. Both the business and the corporation solve for needs, but the corporate business is a ruthless and unsympathetic consumer of resources, not to provide valuable goods and services to society, but to enrich the owners of the corp who have no day to day dealing with the company, its profits and its position in the community.
    • Mar 14 2013: "the corporation, especially the more modern multi-national type is a perversion of free markets and free people."

      This is a nice myth. Capitalism has historically always been perverted, violent thing. You are just another example of being historically illiterate about the history of capitalism and enclosure.

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

      The process of enclosure has sometimes been accompanied by force, resistance, and bloodshed, and remains among the most controversial areas of agricultural and economic history in England. Rich landowners used their control of state processes to appropriate public land for their private benefit. This created a landless working class that provided the labour required in the new industries developing in the north of England.
      • Mar 14 2013: I may be under-educated, but I am not illiterate. But when capitalism wasn't really theorized until the 1700's and you are referencing a feudal system from the 1200's Britain, I think you are being too obtuse. The theory of capitalism Adam smith style was free nonviolent and moral. That people aren't always this way shouldn't surprise .

        But since you brought it up, in America, the first corporations were legislated into existence. It wasn't spontaneous free markets. But interestingly, they were vehicles used to address larger public works type jobs. There wasn't free money floating around, printed at will, and financing was difficult. The corp, meant to be limited in purpose, for ventures that required a Lot of unavailable capital, for people to band together as stake-holders, and build the sewer or damn. Not the government, which would have to tax Peter to benefit Paul.

        What followed was nearly endless legislation that changed the character of the corporation to the perversion of its intent, namely to pool resources, limit liability for the public good.

        Not exactly myth and not exactly illiterate. Please keep your personal attacks to yourself.
        • Mar 14 2013: It's not a personal attack, the idea that you have billionaires and homeless people within the same nation and it isn't for a scarcity of homes for instance. Rich people owning multiple homes that could house and feed many human beings.

          The idea, the conceit that I am personally attacking you is laughable given your lack of historical understanding.
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    Mar 12 2013: In my humble opinion, we are wasting huge amounts of talent by leaving poor people to their own fate. It is hard to become the next Ray Kroc or Bill Gates if your mind is occupied with whether you will have food, clean clothes, shelter, and transportation tomorrow. At the same time we are importing higly-skilled workers from other countries because our 'system' does not create enough higly-skilled workers within our country. Can you imagine what this country (U.S.) would look like if all smart kids could go college regardless of their financial status? We would have so many smart and educated people, it would scare other countries.
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      Mar 12 2013: Too true. Our national capacity to produce highly education people who can better adapt to being new capitalists or have talents that new capitalist would hire to generate capital output is sorely lacking.
      I think a lot of that is we have taken public education out of the capitalist system an put it into the government system. Now, I am not an anarchist. We need government to do things that they can do best..Those things are really specific and don't seem to include education. Not as though they haven't tried. The more government has gotten into education in the US the farther our educational outcome has fallen. For example. today we have tens of thousands of fast food employees holding baccalaureate degrees and owing hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans, if they are employed at all.
    • Mar 12 2013: I think you need to really explore what it means to be poor. Very intelligent people are rarely poor. they are able to take advantage in society whereas the poor do not have that type of intelligence. As I see it, what we really have is a society divided by the have-brains and have-not-brains. I am not saying that there aren't societal structures that encourage that division, but that the division exists for a reason. And we have developed a world that is extraordinarily complex. Just to understand, use and avoid being overtaken by technology requires a much higher degree of intelligence than was required just 30 years ago. As an example, there are thousands of manufacturing jobs available in the US, but the intelligence needed to program and operate the machinery is significant, and well beyond a high school diploma, assuming that has any value. And what do those jobs pay? $15/hr. And so the jobs go unfilled because a person can make more than $15 on welfare and not have to work.
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    Mar 11 2013: I know it is hard for some to believe... that business ... all businesses, large and small.... figure expenses .... all expenses including taxes... into the sale prices.
    I feel like I am telling children "there is no Santa Claus "
    And yes, business use all available and legal options to take advantage of methods to pay as little in taxes to keep their prices as low as possible. Prices too high, don't have buyers.
    And now the worse of all news... those profits....without profits there would be no business, and without business there would be no place to buy stuff and no place to work to earn money to buy stuff..
    Not good.
    Some have said that the government could provide jobs, it's been tried, not too successfully.
    It seems that it is the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.
  • Mar 7 2013: Thanks to Mike and Krisztian. I am in agreement with both of these people.

    And now for the question, Is Capitalism Sustainable? I believe it is, and I also think it is the basis on which our North American countries were built. It doesn't matter if we are employed by an industry of capitalism or own one, as long as we work we benefit from the fruits of our labor.

    I think Capitalism at its base is primarily the attempt to better ones life as an individul by producing something of value to others. The greater the preceived value the more the individual or capitalist benefits.

    Take a natural resource that we in North America take largely for granted, water. If two people live next to each other and they are both thirsty and one of these people decides to dig a well. Who gets the water? Should it be shared between the person who dug the well and their neighbour? Perhaps your neighbour hasn't the physical means to dig a well, what happens then? Should the person who expended the effort to get the resource just hand some of it over to another who didn't? After all the person who dug the well doesn't actually own the water.

    But wait, isn't this exactly what the people who believe in the distribution of wealth insist should happen?

    How many people are going to be willing to dig the wells if their efforts are only rewarded by providing for needy people?

    However even if the person is not capable of digging a well there is a good chance that they can provide or prduce something else of value which can be traded for the water. Perhaps they can hunt or make containers to transport the water in so the person that dug the well can get his water to a larger customer base. Then the two neighbours could form an agreement from which they would both gain greater benefit from tthen either one would as an individual.

    And so on and so forth

    How can this not be sustainable??
    • Mar 15 2013: Dangerous territory when you start talking about economically viable. We will be talking about a cull of the elderly once they outnumber the employed, or in you example, not enough digging for water.
      • Mar 15 2013: Good evening Craig. I don't believe that captialism is absolute, as your comment leads me to believe. Like everything else in the world it's not absolutely black and white. If you are implying that the elderly have no value in a capitalistic society then I must disagree. Knowledge is a valuable an asset as digging a well. Typically the eldest in a family is the most revered, with others coming to them for advice and information. Just look at the age of some of the great leaders in our world currently, including the most recently elected pope.

        That aside lets say your or my father was at an advanced enough age where his mind and body are failing, I know for my father or in our case my wifes father we were more then happy to use the benefits gained from our capatilistic success to support him until the end of his life.

        We didn't ask for anything extra from you, your friends or anyone else for that matter.

        And finally, the question at the beginning of this thread was "Is Capitalism Sustainable" I answered that question with reasons why I think it is. So if you don't believe that capitalism is sustainable why not start a new thread stating that you don't and provide reasons why you don't?
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    Mar 5 2013: My knowledge of the micro financing initiatives is limited. However, in my extended family, there was an uncle who started a small business, with himself, his wife and children. Most of the family focus was on the business. His children received only the basic education. The business was successful. In the next generation of the family, there came business school graduates, lawyers, even a successful politician. I use this as an example of "capitalism". Hard work, good product and a fair price and the people will come. That is the simplicity of it all.
  • Mar 5 2013: First, I think we have muddled democracy and capitalism to be one in the same. They are not.
    Second, America does not have a capitalistic economic system. I say this because with the advent of credit and the available option of bankruptcy to walk away from unsecured dept creates a constant state of excess demand. Since you are not buying goods with money that exists today, but on credit with the idea you will have money later to pay. We've over-leveraged to buy what we desire and not what we need. For those of us that can get credit we use it to fuel our lifestyle and get more stuff. Those that do not have access to credit do not have the fuel to drive the lifestyle they want; they are stuck with an unlleveraged real wage and fall further behind.

    Here are my ideas and they aren't new:
    1) Simple regulations based on people, planet, and profit with huge fines for not complying.
    2) Simple flat income tax for people and companies, maybe tithing, or 15%-ithing- Hey works for the Catholic Church
    3) There is no such thing as unsecured debt.
    4) Companies that provide critical services that make our lives go (i.e. power, gas, healthcare, public transportation, network connectivity, food production, etc.) are non-profit.
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      Mar 5 2013: It's called crony capitalism and it does need to be addressed. Government needs to govern and business needs to do their thing. Governing should be limited to being a referee in the game of business, seeing that everyone plays by the establish rules. When government gets into business with business, we see how those problems get in everyone's business.
      • Mar 5 2013: I hope this means you're an advocate of campaign finance reform. It hasn't been mentioned here much, if at all (I've been jumping between topics as I read). How can we expect our politicians to govern wisely when to stay in office they have to grub for money from wherever than can get it just to stay ahead of the competition? If we could level the playing field for candidates - no big purse strings allowed to get involved even with the use of one's own money, then we should be able to have a government more responsive to the needs of the people of the US. Many of the social conditions in this country are deplorable. No public health system comparable to England's and Canada's. High infant mortality for a first world country. Glaring inequities in public education. The list goes on & soooo much of it comes from being sold a bill of goods by leadership forced to chase the almighty dollar. Where is that dollar mostly? Who stands to gain the most from the status quo? Who has been getting wealthy the fastest? Is anyone foolish enough to believe they are that much smarter than or work that much harder than the average American? How many of you have watched the latest viral video?

        http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/Wealth-Inequality-in-America-viral-video-Politizane/?ncid=webmail6
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          Mar 6 2013: Hi, Ms. Kyte
          The social conditions in the US do need to be addressed. But, your point on the politicians is spot on. I am not advocating campaign financing reform, I am in favor of elimination.
          There have been a number of errors in the past in governance of the USA. The civil war could have been handled better, we did need to address the original Constitution concerning rights of citizenship of Native Americans, African slaves, even women. Don't get me started on prohibition. On big mistake was the 17th Amendment. Repeal would bring back the states into the Federal governance. Which will have to be better then the two tier legislature that has formed today. Next, lobbyist need to be barred from the halls of congress. If congressmen need information, they have the greatest source of information in the world available at the asking. The library of Congress... that is why it was created. Further any free rides, trips, campaign contributions, employment for family or stock tips, all be covered under the bribery laws of government officials.
          I am fully committed to the idea that there should be a defined separation between government and those who would use means to influence policy and extract favorable outcomes.
        • Mar 9 2013: Hi Louise and Mike,
          I just watched the video. Amazing. Revealing. Haunting. Everyone needs to see this and then let's figure out what can be done about it. I certainly agree with your thoughts on barring lobbyists from the halls of congress. The whole profession and process is absurd and leads to nothing but politicians selling out at our expense and the planet's expense.

          I like that you're committed to the idea of a defined separation between government and lobbyists, but how can it ever change? For them to outlaw the lobby would be like kicking a gift horse in the mouth.
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    Mar 3 2013: The human race is in itself a single, living organism. Each and everyone of us as individuals contribute to and complete the genome. The hierarchy that exists is consistent with the laws of nature; ie - survival of the fittest. Different people posses different skills. Some skills are more valuable than others. However, as intelligent beings -- unlike the genetically encoded members of say a bee hive or an ant colony for instance -- the variables that affect our ability to change position within that hierarchy are opportunity and desire. In other words, we as a species have much greater influence over our individual destinies than any other species on the planet.

    Capitalism as an economic model is in my view the most robust and successful because it is the most closely aligned with the laws of nature. It promotes activity which is useful and relevant, and weeds out that which is not. But as is usually the case, the devil is in the details. Finding the best answers rely upon asking the right questions.

    One primary set of factors that have limited individual opportunity are location, distance and time. But that is changing. Emergent technologies in internet and mobile communications are limiting or removing altogether past constraints associated with our geospatial environment. Therefore, one's ability to connect with, contribute to, and create influence and opportunity within society are exponentially increased. In a very real sense, it helps level the playing field for all participants, and provides opportunity which is then dependent upon desire.

    Success means different things to different people. Metrics based on income and net worth may be paramount to one person yet of little importance to another. I would submit that free market capitalism is the most sustainable of all economic models, and exponential advances in opportunity will lead the way to a more prosperous world.
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      Mar 4 2013: U said it Jeffrey. Natural systems are epitomes of controlled capitalism without the room for any toxic excesses. Moreover, nature and its myriad systems are always in the game of getting better and better and weeding out detrimental issues. Dr Sivaram Hariharan, Bhaarath (India)
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    Mar 2 2013: Anyone who can get a lot of money, will do it. Whether it is luck or hard work, one will always want to have a better access to the natural resources of the earth. It needs regulation from the mind and a sense of morality to stop at some point. Or a regulation from the country to achieve fair distribution of money. But those in the authorities will be the first to get *stung* by these laws, and self regulation is one of the greatest challenges that a man has ever encountered. So I dont see how there will not be poor people.

    Its of course my very own opinion and it is not based on much facts.
  • Feb 28 2013: This conversation obviously consists of many slants and meanings on the term "capitalism". Many of you make excellent points while speaking of different sides of the coin, so to speak. For the purpose of this comment, please allow me to point out that I refer to "Runaway Capitalism", which to me indicates lack of humanity and basic common sense. The banking bailout is a great example. CEOs using bailout money for bonuses while hard working families are living in cardboard boxes because they just lost their homes. Ben J. mentioned the "Franklin Rule", which is an actual necessity for any form of capitalism to benefit an entire society. When money is needed to help balance the federal budget, should we really be looking to cut medicare and medicaid without raising the taxes on those who actually have "too much?" Which of course begs the question, "what is too much, and who decides?" I personally have no issues with the amount of money anyone amasses, so long as it is not attained from walking on the backs of people who have worked all of their lives and have now lost everything because this entity "Capitalism" has taken from the bottom instead of the top of the chain. For Capitalism to truely work "for the people", it must be based on a curve, with those who have less getting a little more from the system. Some would call this "Socialism". I call it common sense.
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    Feb 28 2013: The trouble with capitalism is that it is controlled by capitalists, and the economy is run by economists.
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      Mar 1 2013: Capitalism does not create greed rather it holds it harmless.

      The only trouble comes from government involving itself with business as government does not respond to the market place. And screams like a child with it is asked not cut it's spending 1%.

      Your comprehension of the economy has to go in the non column.
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        Mar 1 2013: You're right Pat, I'm not an economist. But interested 'end users' should not be precluded from opinion or comment by people like you who may have detailed comprehension.

        Sometimes the view from the outside is more valuable than the narrower views of those who profess to be expert insiders, especially when their area of expertise is showing obvious signs of dysfunctionality and unfitness for purpose - much the same way as the very competent Doctor Frankenstein lost complete control of his own creation.

        What I'm saying is that all areas of narrow expertise need to be more open to the broader contexts in which they are working. It seems to me that, while economic theory and capitalist ideals may look good on paper, in practice the human and environmental costs are proving to be huge - possibly even irreversible.

        Why is this being allowed to happen? My opinion, for what it's worth, is that heads are still buried in paper, graphs and stats without being cognizant of who or what is being affected in the bigger context. Economics is in serious need right now of broadening its remit into sociology, psychology and environmental science.

        I agree that government meddling in anything is a sure recipe for disaster. But can you explain further what you mean by "capitalism does not create greed"? Are you saying that market forces are harmlessly self-regulating, if left alone by government?
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          Mar 1 2013: There are so many fallacies about economics that it renders the common person stupid on the subject, yet it effects all of us. Most of this fallacy is created by politicians.

          Yes the free market governs the transactions or each individuals 100's of transactions per day. First everyone buys from Ward and Harrington they lose competitiveness to Sears who losses competitiveness to Walmart. All the while the consumer looking for the best value has his standard of living raised as well as the Chinese standard of living who makes some of the products.

          Before you say the jobs get exported the undisputed largest manufacturer in the world is the U.S. by far.

          You see the pie gets bigger and we all get a piece. Unless government steps in and stops growth. Yes some regulation is needed but that was whole lot of regulation ago especially here in Calif.
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        Mar 1 2013: I apologize for my stupidity.

        Your ever-expanding pie analogy is interesting, along with the even more interesting statement that everybody gets a piece of it.

        Are you saying that the ingredients for your inflating pie are in infinite supply, and that the economy, under the guise of capitalism, will ensure wealth for all?

        Again, my stupidity is getting the better of me - I need further explanation from you of how that would work, from the very start, right through to your utopian ideal...?
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          Mar 2 2013: I think Bob nailed it when he said people tend to make economics more complex that it is.
          All the fallacies make it hard to reconcile the propaganda with the truth. One thing I use as guide on this stuff is that the truth is generally simple, if it get complicated my BS meter starts redlining.

          Look at how many jobs the world has today compared to 100 years ago 1.6 billion compared to 7 billion today. That would roughly translate into 4 times the number of jobs. And a much higher standard of living. This is evidence of an expanding pie. And more people have a higher standard of living indicates the everyone gets a piece of the pie.
          There is no guarantee but your odds are much better with the free market of which the U.S. has been the leader, my concern is that when the U.S. falls so will the world.

          The zero sum game is another fallacy put forward by the politicians. The very definition of economics explains much in this regard.

          Economics is the study of scarce resources that have alternative uses.

          As the price of oil rises, money which represents a person's time, will find alternative energy sources. If they could figure out how to create fusion reaction the price of energy drops to virtually nothing at which point something else will be the scarcer resource.

          You mention earlier the need for economics to enter into the field of psychology and sociology. The free market does a tremendous job of this naturally, no PHD required.

          The very basis of morale is production. The morale of a worker is at it's highest when production is the highest, the morale of a team is highest when the team wins. Winning and morale are synonymous.

          Another aspect of this is that a business has to work very hard to raise the standard of living of its customer Walmart verses the mom and pop, Toyota verses the Trabant, expensive American unionized labor or Chinese labor at a fraction of the cost. The point is that this is a very objective process that is healthy.
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      Mar 2 2013: Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

      Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of capital goods and the means of production, with the creation of goods and services for profit

      Allan, I will use the two definations above in this reply. You, and I share the lack of in depth knowledge of economics. That is caused in part by politicians using term improperly and messing with our minds to garner votes. For a long time I tried to make something very hard out of economics --- it is a tool used for measuring the health of the country. If your debit is more than your GDP then your policies suck --- no different that your bank account really --- it that case your accountant says your going to jail if you keep it up .... at the macro level the feds use facts to their advantage to cloak the real problems of the present and the future. You, as I did need to look up Keneysian economics and Austrian Economics models.

      Capitalism has a hand maiden called supply and demand. The goal is to make a profit. The size of the profit is dependent upon the demand for your product and your management abilities to produce it at a cost to ensure a profit and to maintain a balance between the supply and the demand.

      Socialists hate it becuase it is beyond the control of the government. As soon as a socialist leader comes into power they immediately attempt to control capitalism through regulations, laws, taxes, and regulations which put the government in charge of a profit making company and that leads to the demise of the agency and many more government agencies left on the books as a burden to the taxpayers that no longer are recieving taxes from the once prosperious company.

      In plain talk there is never a trickle up .... No investors ... bad .... no profit ... bad ... no jobs ... bad and the list goes on.

      There are no assurances .. just opportunities.

      Bob.
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        Mar 4 2013: Bob and Pat - thanks for your responses.

        I have a number of questions:

        The first is based on the notion that the free market has endemic, multi-faceted attributes that effectively render the likes of sociology and psychology redundant - hence your comment, Pat:

        "You mention earlier the need for economics to enter into the field of psychology and sociology. The free market does a tremendous job of this naturally, no PHD required"

        1 Do you think that anything that is seamed through with wealth and materialism, could possibly self-regulate itself and still remain within acceptable parameters of morality?

        2 If so, who then are the guardians of that kind of morality?

        3 Are they the ones at the top of their game within a free-market economy?

        4 What are the mechanisms that have actually propelled them to the top of their game, and is that something that has run concurrently with moral behaviour?

        5 What is the basic lifeblood of capitalism and free market economics? Is it something tangible, like resources of high marketable value that can be dug or sucked out of the ground?

        6 Given that those resources are finite, what happens when it becomes uneconomical to dig or suck them out of the ground any more?

        7 Bob, do Keynesian and Austrian economic models depend on such high value resources to make them workable? Do Keynesian economic models still apply to the marketing of fresh air (or possibly even polluted air, by that time)?

        8 I understand the concept of supply and demand. But here's an analogy (with thanks to Arkady): If you cut off the main tap root, will the tree stay alive - or die?

        I have loads more questions - and I appreciate your time to answer them.

        Allan
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    Feb 28 2013: Moreover, globally, economic regions could agree to stagger the jubilee year every 7 years so that at any given time, there will be a region "designated for growth". This might create a mechanism to circulate money globally setting up each global region for growth in a predictable way without projects to change human nature, tax system, or the nature of business interactions.
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    Feb 28 2013: Here in the U.S. North West, natural forest fires are a part of the ecosystem. As forests grow, the trees become older. Old trees inhibit the growth of young trees. They become sick and die. This increases the population of wood-eating insects which leads to increased amounts of sick and dead treas. Finally, when the amount of dry dead wood reaches a "critical mass", a lightning strikes somewhere, and many square miles of sick and dead trees burn down killing the wood-eating bugs. The fire also causes cones of some trees to pop open and spread the seeds from which the new forest grows. This is how nature sustains its growth. Sounds familiar?

    Nature, of course, doesn't care, but humans consider uncontrolled fires "bad" and try to reduce them. Simply preventing them by removing dead wood isn't good - wood-eating bugs and parasites keep thriving, and old trees keep inhibiting growth of the young trees. So, people burn controlled fires.

    I cannot envision how to change the nature of economy. It works the way it works. Replacing all trees in the forest with different species doesn't seem a practical way to prevent forest fires. But "controlled economic crises" may be the way to go.

    I wonder, what would happen to a modern capitalist economy if people tried to observe the biblical "jubilee year" when every fifty years all debts must be forgiven, slaves set free, and borrowed property returned to the original owner. It seems to me that it happens naturally anyway that every few decades the debtors loose the ability to pay their debts and something like the foreclosure crisis happens uncontrolled. Why not "build it into the system" and give everyone a fresh start? Of course, closer to the jubilee year, the interest rates would become astronomical, and lending business would virtually stop, but on the other hand, the FED wouldn't need a crystal ball to control the interest rates.
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    Feb 28 2013: Your question ignores the fact that the "economic pie" is not a finite amount but rather an infinite size. As a capitalist economy grows, so does the size of the whole economic pie. Therefore if the "rich" get richer, then so should everyone else.

    I will cede the argument that this has not happened in the US. I believe that this is due in large part to inadequate (and unequal) education structures that overly favor the most fortunate. However, I do not believe that the current disparity shows a failure in the capitalist economic structure. Rather I believe it demonstrates that in order for capitalism to sustain itself over the long run leaders must also be aware of educational and other relevant societal issues that may affect its ultimate form.
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    Feb 27 2013: It seems to me that the question you are posing Luke (and really glad you turned our short exchange in the chat room into this conversation) has more to do with equality and the distribution of wealth, rather than the eradication of poverty. I doubt anybody would dispute that factories, farms (and plumbing!) will always be needed, despite various technological breakthroughs (even though the number of hours we have to toil in them might decrease). Poverty is always relative. Income disparity – the distance between those who sweat on a farm and those who work in a lab or a bank – is not.

    This distance, especially in the western world, has increased expotentially over the last few decades. In 1968 CEO of GM took home about 66 times the amount paid to a typical GM worker; today the CEO of Wall Mart earns 900 times the wages of his average employee. The wealth of Wal-Mart founders ($90 bln) is estimated at about the same as the bottom 40 % of the US population (120 mln people). To me, this seems unsustainable. Nathan Garfinkle („The Gospel of Wealth”) and late Tony Judt („Ill Fares the Land”) are among my favorite authors who have written about the issue perceptively, discussing how it correlates with all sorts of social problems (mental illness, crime, corruption, health problems, etc).

    In plainer terms, one could say that it is the question of dignity, and hope. If someone toiling in a factory or on a farm, feels his work is not being appreciated (and it is hard to feel otherwise if your income is so miniscule relative to someone working in a bank let’s say), and if they feel there is no prospect of their children „moving up” something is bound to happen... Or not?

    Capitalism and free market have a lot of potential for self-correction? One would want to think, that with a system of checks and balances they can work well (create possibilities for people to move up)? Or is it wishful thinking? (I also love dr Sivaram Hariharan’s liver/glycogen comparison!)
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    Gail .

    • +1
    Feb 27 2013: Though I strongly advocate the total elimination of money (and barter is a system of money as well), capaitalism could survive if there were strong rules in place to limit the disparity of wealth. But it would ultimately die off because industry is destroying our natural resources in the name of profits, meaning that it is literally killing off the consumers that rewards the corps with profits. So, unless strong regulations are in place regarding air, water, soil erosion, minerals, radiation, etc., are also put in place along with income caps, (Let's say the max income is no more than seven times greater than the minimum income level) then it's all going to collapse anyhow.

    Capitalism was created to keep poor people poor. Was it Locke or Adam Smith who saw the necessity of the "race of laborers"? It as understood that "natural law", by divine intent, would eliminate the majority of the children of poor people, (they would die of poverty related causes) thus keeping the number of poor in check, so that the wealthy could continue to amass wealth (by divine right).

    You speak of menial labor. This is a relative term. I have a very bright friend who enjoyed being an electrician. He was very intellectuially curious, so his job gave him plenty of time to think. When he was older, he became an electrical engineer. He lost his think-time.

    I know that if it all collapsed, I would readily volunteer my time to keep the wheels of our common cart turning. There are enough cultures who have survived without capitalism. Capitalism (along with private ownership of land), is a very recent invention within humankind's history. Surely we can do better, and surely, those who like electricity and running water would be willing to volunteer to keep that going. Those who like to eat would see the advantage of volunteering in that regard.

    This type of culture would put giving & social networks in place of money. Life would not come to an end. It would just become sane.
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      Feb 27 2013: "Capitalism was created to keep poor people poor."

      if so, it is the biggest failure in the history of evil plans. since capitalism really took off, poverty is eradicated in a rate never seen before. maybe that is why politicians try to reform it? they want the evil plan to be back on track?
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    Feb 27 2013: "The sad reality of capitalism is that if there is an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, there has to be an exponentially long tail of much poorer people"

    and it is sad because of what?

    "who are each contributing to that wealth"

    this is just false. unless there is coercion, everybody engages in activities that benefit themselves. nobody works to increase someone else's wealth.
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      Feb 27 2013: "and it is sad because of what?"

      [Always baffles me how people with your mentality can have 200+ contribution. Makes me loose faith in TED, had to say it...]

      There are 7+ billion people living in this planet. Capitalism only satisfies 200 million(or less) people... whilst other have to starve (yep, literally, you'd know that if you come out of your mom's basement) and drink filthy water.

      "this is just false. unless there is coercion, everybody engages in activities that benefit themselves. nobody works to increase someone else's wealth"

      Capitalism is a 'money system', how we organize money (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism). (From what I've understood) you are derailing this topic.

      And Kudos to person who gave you +1
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        Feb 27 2013: "Capitalism only satisfies 200 million(or less)"

        this is false. capitalism satisfies everyone participating. it did in the 1800's in the USA and europe, and it does in brazil, chile, singapore, india, china, and many many parts of the world today.

        one does not need an economic degree to see that. a little bit of thinking helps. one good question to ask: before capitalism-ish systems, there were clean water and plenty of food in africa? nope. before capitalism, there were no clean water and plenty of food anywhere. capitalism created those. and continues to create it for those that opt for it.

        "Capitalism is a 'money system', how we organize money"

        no it is not, and it is not surprising that you know very little about economics, and you condemn capitalism. these things usually go hand in hand. the solution would be to educate yourself, but since you seem to be content with your current knowledge, it won't happen.
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          Feb 27 2013: I might be un-educated and ignorant (in all honesty).

          But I'd never call something, which is wrong, right... just because I'm on top of pyramid.
        • Mar 7 2013: "Capitalism satisfies everyone participating"
          Oh no it doesn't , what about the reluctant capitalists like me. I run a business, have a couple of properties and have two vehicles so I must be ok, I don't like the system it's a bad one.
          Maybe you could explain to me, with your formidable knowledge on economics, why America is seen as one of the wealthiest countries on the planet and owes over a trillion dollars.
          Here in the UK, another "wealthy" country, there's talk about power outages by 2015 because we can't afford the electricity and gas prices. We are cutting most of our front line services and it's only a matter of time before someone suggests we put down pensioners because they're no longer economically viable.
          And how come no one knows how to get us out of this economic mess, 5 years on and they're still scratching their head about what to do next.
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        Feb 27 2013: without understanding, you can not tell wrong from right. so it is quite possible to call wrong things right and vice versa without even realizing. you have no chance to avoid that unless you educate yourself.
    • Feb 27 2013: What Kristztian?
      "nobody works to increase someone else's wealth"
      Everyone does!
    • Feb 28 2013: Completely disagree with this idea, that profit is the sole motivator. Effective teachers work to increase others' wealth, as do effective environmental, human & animal rights' advocates & activists (to name a very few), too often at the expense of their own financial health, while increasing true health/wealth of all. They love the world, & love is, I think, the only motivator (whether it's love of money, power, biodiversity, children, wisdom, knowledge).. Real wealth, the health of our planets/species/self, is required, is the foundation of all other wealth, and for any possibility of sustainable capitalism, which is to me our only hope.

      Btw, I do have a good education, and constantly further it, while knowing well that I know nothing. I'm also new posting on Ted-this is my 1st, though I've been experiencing TED w/utter gratitude for years. Pls don't put down my-or your perception of my- intelligence. I participate in, but am not helped by, capitalism, nor are many I know, and I do not think most are, increasingly, but I know it is the machine that runs the status quo, & gives a glossy appearance of progress, on the walls of our psyche's collective cave. I do not understand why money's obsessively motivating power OVER us, as opposed to it ONLY giving us power, as in greed beyond reason, isn't understood by more for what it is, & for how it defines and enslaves.
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        Feb 28 2013: you are completely missing the point here. nobody questioned the motivation of people. the cited and rejected claim was that in capitalism, rich people can somehow make poor people create value for them, and just keep it. it is not how capitalism works. in capitalism, you choose to cooperate a person or a company based on your own valuations and desires. if the cooperation is not advantageous for you, you simply don't engage in cooperation, and that's all. this "profit is the sole motivator" idea is entirely unrelated to the debate.

        you are greatly benefited from capitalism. you have a 1000 sq ft house, air conditioning, car, tv, cellphone, computer, internet access, healthcare, not to mention clothing and abundance of food. and over $50000 of income a year. at least you do, if you are an average american. these are all fruits of capitalism.
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          Feb 28 2013: "...these are all fruits of capitalism."

          Does that include all the putrid decay, maggots and parasites of fruit that has got over-ripe?

          Fruit often looks good on the outside...
        • Mar 7 2013: "in capitalism, you choose to cooperate a person or a company based on your own valuations and desires."
          Was this some sort of laboratory controlled experiment you witnessed or have you never heard of slave labour.
          "You are greatly benefitted from capitalism"
          I'd prefer to say despite capitalism rather than from.
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    Feb 27 2013: I even take this further to say that without capitalism, life and society would cease to exist. Financial and resource gradients are always needed to efficiently run society. We are are all times engaged in the act of giving and taking even within the confines of our homes. And moment there is a giver and a taker, a resource/financial gradient is established and one can never escape these gradients in any walk of life. Even if we were the last standing human on this planet there would still be a resource gradient as we would be taking from the Earth for our sustenance. In the deepest recesses of biology, both at the macro and molecular level, resource gradients become the backbone of efficient ecological and cellular processes respectively and become vital to life itself. The question then becomes as to how efficiently steer these resource gradients with the aim to maintain long term sustenance and not short term gains as exhibited by some avaricious mandarins of Wall Street and other global financial centers. At the same time life processes and biological gradients do not go by the misguided and idealistic logic of equally distributing resources like Communism. It is strictly done on a requirement basis with stringent checks and balances by enzymes and other biological agents. Dr Sivaram Hariharan, Bhaarath (India)
  • Feb 27 2013: You are mixing up a lot of different concepts. You equate capitalism with exponential income inequality, and then try to separate them by referring to capitalistic incentives, when it is the incentives (natural motivations) that generate capitalism.

    Is capitalism sustainable? I think the twenty first century will probably answer this question. I think that in the next century or two humans will wise up and start thinking long term, and on a big scale, or we will die off. Capitalism as practiced today has become extremely short term. CEO's dare not sacrifice the profits of the current quarter for any long term gain. In today's complex culture, short term thinking cannot be sustainable. Continuously destroying the natural environment for immediate riches is not sustainable.
  • Feb 27 2013: I'd like to point something out in this thread; it is started on a false dichotomy between "social justice" and "capitalism", neither of which the originator of the thread seems to understand. He states that wealthy people are the product of a long tail of poor people contributing to that wealth; that is simply absurd. Wealthy people benefit from a capitalistic exchange with poor people, who in turn benefit, though they benefit less than the wealthy person. What does this mean? Capitalism is a benefit to everyone involved. It simply benefits those with more to invest more.
    Let me throw out some food for thought. For people crying about the state of the gap between rich and poor today under "capitalism"; I would point out to you that the gap between rich and poor has been growing at about the same rate as state control over all economic activity and hyper regulation around the globe. Since I worked on Capitol Hill, I have a theory about this; big corporations and certain vested interests lobby for ever more and ever more complicated regulation to strangle any would be start up businesses in the cradle in their own sectors. The net result is excessive government control over the economy (anti-capitalism) and, since newcomers can't ever get over that initial road block to build a new business, a growing gap between rich and poor. Ironically, it is the people lobbying for "social justice" who scream loudest when any of the hyper-regulation now rampant is to be rolled back. It doesn't help that nobody seems to know what capitalism even means anymore. It is very simply the natural default of human interaction that benefits all sides. Capitalism is not an ideology; it goes back beyond ancient Babylon. It has existed under every political system ever. Those that allowed for it's existence thrived in direct relation to their tolerance for it and those that tried to quash it LITERALLY starved.
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      Feb 27 2013: Could I also add here Mr. Biggs that the Communist Ideology has failed globally (as we all are aware) and even the China of today is a capitalist society with a communist veneer. That in itself should answer as to why Capitalism is valid for all time and ages. Ancient Hindu Bhaarath (India) was a cradle of capitalism and unbridled prosperity and it was finely balanced by some heavy duty charity and prayers for universal good by the rich. The ancient Hindu Kings and the rich traders under their reign were famous for many greats acts of philanthropy. One such individual was the great warrior Karna from the epic Mahaabhaaratha and they regularly performed Dhaanas (giving away) and Yagnas (universal prayers for prosperity). And this was also ratified by the Hindu principle of Sanyaasa (Renounciation) where even Kings detached themselves from all their material possessions and kith and kin during their old age and retired for a life of meditation and contemplation in the deepest parts of forests. The Hindu Prince Siddhartha, who of course went on to become the BUDDHA did this very thing at a very young age, even though he had more powerful spiritual motivations for doing this. Regs. Dr. Sivaram Hariharan, Bhaarath (INDIA).
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    W. Ying

    • +1
    Feb 27 2013: .
    My answers:

    (1) To "Is capitalism sustainable?"
    . . No.
    . . Our DNA does not allow.

    (2) To "Would the world keep running without capitalistic incentives that increase the separation between rich and poor?"
    . . Yes.
    . . Will run well without self-extinction.

    (3) To "Can we eradicate all poverty without the rich sharing their riches?"
    . . Yes.
    . . Just quit invalid happiness.

    (4) To "What happens to civilization when nobody is willing to work in the factories and orchards, or build roads?"
    . . Civilization will be created by working for pleasure.


    All in all, money makes invalid happiness, greed, inequality, war, environment destruction, .... self-extinction.

    Wrong?

    (For INVALID happiness, see the 1st article, points 1-3, 14, at https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D&id=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D%21283&sc=documents.)
  • Feb 27 2013: As far as money goes, here's my two cents.

    We have to eradicate money, then all jobs will have the same value, i.e, they will contribute to the human condition because in reality, that is what they already do. We have allowed parsing out of value and separated people by value as well.
    We are our greatest resource because we can do such a variety of things.
    Now, many scoff at my suggestion of getting rid of any monetary system so let's say we keep money.
    We must then, never, never, never make any decisions that involve, are because of, are for, or dependent upon money.
    This will keep reasons and causes for greed, crime, corruption, which lead to inequality, poverty, slavery, out of the equation. The equation I am referring to in my mind, is the decision making equation. It is more important "how" we make decisions rather than "who" makes them. The Who never make the right decisions when money is involved. "How" involves making the right decisions that will solve or lead to solving our problems. People are fooled by money, so I will tell them straight out the truth.
    Things don't......"get done"...........because of money.
    Things.........."don't get done".......because of money.
    Nothing costs money. Everything costs people.
    It isn't scarcity of our resources that is a problem. It is the mismanagement of them by those who have no right to ownership and control of them, for profit. There is that money thing again.
    If you can do this with money, then keep it. If you can't then it is clear. Money must go. Money separates us. No-money will bring us together. We will have the same needs (motivation), the same wants, desires and dreams (motivation), the same curiosity to learn, teach, study, do, help and so on (motivation) and we will still have to solve our problems even if there is no money (motivation). Those in control of money don't want people to think this way because the only power they have is "our false belief we need money!"

    Get of of the box! It's a coffin!
    • Feb 27 2013: But do you think thats practical, any practical suggestion should start with a legislation and expect people to learn why it is there over generations, how do you think this can ever become a legislation, I mean every person taking a decision cannot be influenced by law.
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    Mar 26 2013: I doubt that we can do much to improve human nature. People will be what they are. The best economic system to work within the framework of human inconsistencies is capitalism. It provides the chance to have something other than government sanctioned poverty. That being said, what can we do to make capitalism a more fair and sustainable system?

    1. We can support and encourage the prosecution of those who use capitalism as a tool to cheat others.
    2. We can support laws that will aid in that prosecution.
    3. We can support candidates who will do the 2 things mentioned above.
    4. We can work toward convincing, and educating people that economics is not a zero sum game, that taking everything means losing in the long run.

    Those are my modest suggestions, anyone have more or better ideas?
  • Mar 26 2013: I find most human behaviors which promote balance, sustainability, fairness etc are not sustainable. Humans tend to forget to do the right things until reminded by an atrocity. Humans like being comfortable and will often sacrifice common sense and dissemination of equal treatment and rights to maintain their own comfort. Humans believe protecting their own is paramount and so do not truly care for or about others or will hurt others on purpose to preserve their own. And while there are many humans that resist this sort of selfish and evil nature, none of us are capable of eradicating it from out nature completely. Therefore, when systems are introduced that try to enforce behaviors that are not geared for survival of the fittest, they are torn down or worse, continue to operate in horrible and abusive ways. So the question is not so much about sustainability. It becomes more about what we actively want to fight and work towards as a people. For different countries, there are different answers. The problem in the U.S., I think, is that we are at a critical point where we will either evolve or fall apart. I don't know if enough time has passed for us to evolve. I don't think as a society we are educated enough. So if we continue to poke at it, we will fall.
  • Mar 26 2013: For the sustainability of the capitalism, we must look at the human nature at the base of all human activities in economic, political and social systems.
    Start with the rural/hunting mood with the barter system. this can no longer be applicable when the world has evolved into international trading and it is impossible without MONITARY systems and commercial negotiations. And then the industrial revolution came and capital and labor became essential ingredients in the economic system.
    Lots of the comments here involve pro or counter the capitalism, the latter was usually based on the "exploitation of the human labor by the capitalist., The lives of the labor force in the modern capitalist countries are already better than those under the feudal system or the agriculture societies.
    I agree that the labor is treated as commodity in many ways, but this becomes less important than a couple of centuries ago because of automation and global free market competition, a person with a particular skill or creativity will be able to find a job with higher pay because he will be sought after by many potential employers.
    Some comment said that communist government will treat the labor force better, but the past history hasn't bear this out. I know this as a fact that one of the communist leaders used or persuaded a bunch of adults and children to liquidate the "capitalists" by using them as spies, prosecutors, judges. jurors, torturers and executioners, the victims were not necessarily guilty as charged. Many of these doing this "labor" weren't being paid. Do you think these or other labor at that time were better off than the labor of our time?
    In other word the good or evil of an economic system can't be based only on itself, but on the HUMAN NATURE of the operators within the system. The DEVIL IS IN US. One person may have 1% moral and 99% evil, another could be in reverse. It's very, very rare that a person can be 100% moral. Even if there is one, he can't last long!
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    Mar 26 2013: 3.
    When talking about mixed economies...
    Economically - the bank system that we have today has a number of perils. I do not have enough competence when it comes to economic systems to explain this fully, but what I do know is that printing dollar bills when the National Reserve is empty is risky. On the other hand - is it really that important that it is empty? Why is it so important that it does not have gold in it anymore? Why are gold, diamonds or any other commodities more important than labour, human life, life as it is?
    It's funny that american dollars have "In God we Trust" on them. What else should their proprietors trust in when the system is risky and faulty?

    I'm not saying that credit cards should be abolished, just that credit cards should not be given to people, institutions or countries merely on the basis of faith and hope that it's going to go ok and that they will pay their debt. And, more importantly, credit cards should not be given to people who have no competence to assess if they can pay their debt or not. In other words - banks should not misuse the faith and hope that people have.
    If a company goes bankrupt that's one thing. Maybe the people in the company are robust enough to build a new one. But if a country goes bankrupt because the bank system was faulty, that's different. And countries have gone bankrupt before (Example - Iceland)
    It's good to have hope and faith, but let's be reasonable.
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    Mar 26 2013: We have discussed the sustainability of Capitalism in many differing concepts. There have been many comments decrying the abuses of social and political systems that use capitalism as it's economic foundation.
    That doesn't make the economic system of capitalism bad, that is just an indictment of bad people.

    Capitalism is the most honest way I know of where an individual... I say again.... individual can attain HIS level of achievement himself. He may need help of others, who he must compensate in some manner, but, it is his vision, his resources, his energy that he must offer for his success or even his failure.

    Mankind should not be forced to work, when to work, how to work by any authority against his own free will. That is the basis of all human evil.

    An old priest once told me that when Christ returned to heaven, the devil stayed behind to take men's souls before He could return. That statement requires a high level of faith. But, when I look around and see how things are going, i got to begin to believe there may be some truth in that.
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      Mar 26 2013: I wholly agree that capitalism can work. We also seem to agree that it currently is NOT working. What, then, is the problem? Politics? Justice? Poor education?

      Education, I believe, is a good start.
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        Mar 26 2013: The problem as I see it, some Americans have sold their souls for free healthcare, food stamps, student loans, and a host of other dubious "benefits". When enough Americans have been taken, the rest will go along, even those that maybe hesitant... it's the old follow the lead ewe syndrome. We have become a nation of sheep and I fear our shepherd is not the one the evangelicals talk about on Sunday mornings.
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          Mar 26 2013: We need political engagement from more citizens. Do you agree with that? Government dependents are not the only problem. They did not cause the mess we are in. They certainly did not help, but a deregulated money market was what wreaked havoc on the American economy. General political disengagement and rampant consumerism propagate cynicism. I believe the common man must demand more. I also agree that there exists quite a large portion of people who take advantage of government programs. I propose, in these times, that we reinstate the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Civil Works Administration. Instead of giving people handouts, put them to work conserving the environment and restoring America's infrastructure. Make them work for their money. Give them a sense of responsibility. I believe in that, too.

          I also believe in raising taxes on the rich and on capital gains, instigating a carbon tax immediately, and urging America to become less dependent on fossil fuels. That is the way the world is moving. That is the future. And I would be proud if America led the way in that march. We should subsidize research and development of solar, geothermal and other renewable technologies. Especially solar. The world is already solar powered... We should restore our coastal wetlands (If Louisiana's coastal wetlands had not been drained or cleared, Hurricane Katrina would have left New Orleans unscathed. As of August 2007, we had spent $127,000,000,000 on its damages.) We should subsidize more small farms, and encourage less high-input, dirty agriculture and more polycultures. We should raise, raise, RAISE the minimum wage.

          More than anything, Americans need to become more informed, and more active. I believe reforming our education system to be more self-driven and modern, reforming our political system to be more transparent and less corrupt, and reforming our banking system to be less vulnerable and powerful -- however we might do that -- are good first steps.
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    Mar 26 2013: 2.

    If labour is a commodity and labour is done by people which means that people become a commodity in this system then why not give all labour to machines and let machines become a commodity, which they actually are?
    As long as they do not become intelligent enough to become self-conscious and then rage against their creators. (Sorry, I guess I read too much science-fiction as a teen :))

    You can say that we almost have this system. The problem is that we do not have this system fully and that unfortunately, capitalists still view others as a commodity because of lack of awareness or just interest in personal gain.
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      Mar 26 2013: you are mixing aspects with fundamental nature. we could also say that humans are reproducing machines, according to biology, and thus biologists are looking down on mankind. but in reality, biologists at the same time consider us reproducing machines and human being, and friends, and neighbors, and many other things. this is not a contradiction, but different aspects of the same thing.

      similarly, people are workers, and deliver work hours. work hours have quality, supply, price and so on. that is the labor market aspect. it does not invalidate all the other aspects of human nature. it is just one of them.

      btw it does not matter if someone likes it or not. work hours are a scarce resource. we need to manage it in some way. disliking it won't make the issue go away.
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    Mar 26 2013: 1.

    Do you mean capitalism in its pure form? It is definitely sustainable, but is it sustainable for everybody? Is it a good idea to give all power to capitalists? ("an owner of capital that may or may not be directly involved in production" - Collins Dictionary of Sociology 2.edition)

    The idea that labour is a commodity (as defined in the capitalist system) is in no way silly in itself, but the thing is that labour is done by people, and people cannot be viewed as a commodity.
    Labour = people.
    Commodity = Labour.

    IE - people are a commodity. When you think in this way you can come to a conclusion that pure capitalism gives you a new type of slavery. And the fact that you do not call it slavery does not mean that it's any different from the slavery that existed in old systems of government. You can ask if the fact that a Chinese worker has a minimum wage, works more that 10 hours a day, does not even know what he does and cannot get out from this system because of the consequences for him and his family is not a lot like slavery we had before. Or you can ask yourself - what do I care? He's different than me, and I've got a nice phone thanks to his existence, what do I care how he feels? It's a personal choice.

    Luckily, there's no country in the world, no country that I know of, that has a system og government based purely on ideas of capitalism, the countries in the west have mixed economies. The question that remains is what sort of mixture in these economies we should have and when pondering on this question - what we should take into consideration when deciding (I think humanism, not capitalism; information, not superstition; reason, not tribe thinking; "us" a a whole, not "us vs. them". But that's just my opinion. What is also important is who provides the information and if they provide information in good faith, not gain in any form. Stalin said that "it's not important who votes, it's important who counts the votes". He did not assume good faith...)
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    Mar 26 2013: On top of the problems inherent in Capitalism, advertising has become more and more psychological, and as it has become more effective, our consumption patterns have become unsustainable and unhealthy; and because of our misunderstanding of the old American ideal of liberty, we collectively harbor a stubborn entitlement to those patterns.

    America is physically, psychologically, economically, politically, environmentally and socially a very, very sick place.
  • Mar 26 2013: Before you predict the demise of capitalism, ask yourself what is going to replace it? All of the major communist countries retained the dictator or oligarchy government of communism, but shifted their economic engines to the private sector in the 20th Century. Why? Because government-controlled economies produce mediocre or worse results. There have been a few notable exceptions. E.g., the U.S. race to the moon. However, in general,more government control equals increasingly lackluster results. You are about to see a very clear example of this in the U.S. with Obamacare.

    Some redistribution at the very top within capitalism is needed. However, what most "reformers" outside of business (i.e., in government and academia) overlook is that capitalism increases total wealth. Therefore, the question is not , "Does the young person on the bottom have a menial job?" Rather, the question should be, "Does that young person have a menial starter job that coupled with education and a basic living standard affords him or her the beginning for upward mobility over his or her lifetime?" I can tell you that, early in my life, my jobs included, paperboy, busboy, dishwasher, and entry-level steel worker. However, these jobs supported me while I obtained an education.

    This is the recipe (also known as the "American Dream") that afforded and continues to afford millions of Americans, many of them immigrants, upward mobility. We should be very hesitant to throw out this model for something unproven, particularly if offered by political and other leaders with little or no private sector experience.
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    Mar 26 2013: I believe positive change could come with some sort of reinvigoration of the American political system. People need to become engaged again. People need someone to reintroduce true morality and meaning. We need to stop being so petty, and we need to stop thinking our pettiness is so important.
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      Mar 26 2013: Mr. Hall,
      You had a great end of species scenario going there until you said "people need someone to".
      I am always nervous when "people need someone to...." There have been "someones" throughout history who
      people needed... It never has seemed to work out well.
      But, I digress, I have not been discussing the mess that the US finds itself in today. Let's see, we have a congress that acts like it was a coronation instead of an election, there is open bribery going on at the capital, a bureaucracy growing at an exponential rate, an administration that plans to adopt the population into a state caretaker system under the wisdom of an elitist academia who's stated goal is to drain the life blood of civilization... returning the world to that time when all world was pure and virginal and mankind was vegetarian.

      No, all I was saying is that capitalism as an economic system is sustainable if people won't mess with it.

      .
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        Mar 26 2013: Mr. Colera, I absolutely agree that we must be wary of who we follow. Your assertion that the "someones" we follow, "...never seem to work out well," I think, is only half true. Evil men can posses strong leadership qualities, of course. Hitler, Stalin, Blankflein, and many today's elected "someones" have shown us that.

        But if you peruse the annals of history you will also find great men, who led by example, not by tricks and gimmicks. The first I can recall is Abraham, who lived in a society where human sacrifice and idol-worship was common. He is the first reported to feel God -- and what that means is the truth. Abraham, when called on to kill his son, for the first time in human history, felt that something is WRONG, and, more importantly, he discovered that what is right and wrong can be felt.

        Next was Jesus of Nazareth, who -- for the record -- NEVER BELIEVED IN GOD AS A MAN IN THE SKY. When he called himself the Son of God, he meant he was the son of truth. He meant that served something greater than materialism or hedonism. He laid down self-interest. His message is a message -- always be nice to everyone, even if they are mean to you -- that someone has always come and restored, and it will happen again.

        550 years before Jesus, Confucius told us to "Do unto others as you would want other to do unto you." Across the globe, these sentiments of truth have emerged independently. This philosophy of peace and nonviolence as the fastest, most effective way of change was the moral philosophy of Moses, Muhammad, Buddha. Descartes, Watts, Plato and Socrates enacted to become some of the most hallowed figures in human history, tthe philosophy that worked swiftly and viscerally -- in the hands of Mahatma Gandhi -- to liberate India from British Colonial rule, and the philosophy that drove American Civil rights in the 1960s.

        I do not believe the necessary revolution is economic or political. It spiritual. I have history -- and the truth -- on my side.
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          Mar 26 2013: You have addressed righteous individuals in your belief of spiritual revolution. And I have no dispute with your fervor and in your identity of bad things happening. I have said the same about our current social/political system. I offer a recent news story of a mormon student who was asked to step in the word Jesus in his class. He refused and was expelled from his university class. Academic Elitism? Congressmen/Highest positioned Government officials receiving faraway vacation trips, insider trading tips, reelection funds, Board memberships after federal service. Bribery of Federal Officials? Swindlers contracting for worthless properties to unsuspecting buyers going unpunished. Influence peddling?
          That list goes on. None of this has to do with capitalism.
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        Mar 26 2013: Mike, I agree wholeheartedly. Capitalism can be fixed!
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    Mar 26 2013: Mike Colera, I do not see my life as a series of economic transactions. I hope you don't either. If we are to sustain capitalism, I believe we have much to fix. Corporations should pay appropriately for the damage they do to the environment. Most are uneducated about the environment and ecology. This, to me, is sad. The value, annually, of the ocean's goods and services is about equal to the United States' GDP. 80% of people live near coasts. Sophisticated computer models designed by climate scientists have estimated the sea will rise 3.2-5.2 feet between 2050 and 2100.

    Tropical rain forests host the majority of the worlds biodiversity, and it is there we have found the chemical formulas for many of medicine's most important drugs, drugs used by 80% of humanity, in rain forests; yet we are plowing over them at a rate of 16 to 54 football fields a minute. 40% of the world's forests could be gone in just 20 years.

    We use unsustainable, unhealthy agriculture processes -- monocultures, high-input agriculture, ect -- that are LESS cost effective than biodiverse polycultures. I believe spending MORE on good food means spending LESS on healthcare, and the bottom line is: you don't have to spend more to grow better food. The government, at this time, just happens to subsidize big, dirty farms.

    All of these problems are the sum result of a deregulated capitalist system, created by a small, SMALL percentage of human beings on Earth. The majority of human beings do not want this. A UMASS study showed income inequality perpetuated the propagation of dirty industries into environmentally "untouched" areas. Another UMASS study showed that increases in democracy were associated with across the board decreases in contaminant levels. Human beings do not want things the way they are. That is a fact. The populous has not spoken, but I am confident this is what they feel. They have not spoken because they have -- since the Industrial revolution -- become disengaged consumers.
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      Mar 26 2013: The value of biodiversity should not be underestimated. I am a capitalist, but also a conservationist. We need to be able to convince people that this is not a zero sum game, whether in commerce, or environment. We don't have to have just one winner.

      On the subject of environment, there is a great Ted video from Alan Savory that covers some of the global warming issues her: http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html
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        Mar 26 2013: Much appreciated!
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        Mar 26 2013: James, saw the video, seems to make sense, I am just not sure how the herds in the hill country would work out going along the Guadalupe being herded along by ( I guess cowboys, since there aren't many predator cats left )... crossing I 35 will be a real challenge.
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          Mar 26 2013: It would improve the trasffic around Waco Mike. Be a great source of beef for the boys at Ft. Hood!
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    Mar 25 2013: I think instead of just saying no i might ask a question instead (just popped to my mind right now):
    Might it be that the fight of diffrent economic systems mightve lead to the argument that "people are greedy" which is just the ultimate argument as it touches our very foundation and thus lead to us believing that we are infact greedy which then made us confuse capitalism with the current culture in which capitalism is operating making us believe that capitalism in fact is unsustainable.

    Id describe myself as anticapitalist if it wasnt for the fact that i cant say im pro communist or pro "specific new economic system" so i like to ask any question no matter the potential answer :P
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      Mar 26 2013: Max, I think that gets to the crux of the matter. What is the nature of human kind. If it is always basic goodness, any system, or no system will work well, but if we have a tendency toward madness, selfishness, lust and greed, no system works perfectly. You have to settle on one that takes the human condition into account. Capitalism works better than the other systems in this regard. It may not always be a level playing field, but at least it offers the opportunity to get in the game, a chance for people to escape the forced equality of poverty offered by the alternatives.
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        Mar 26 2013: I think it is a matter of culture and media. 90% of 13-20 year olds in America could not give you an answer if you asked them, "what do you believe it?" or "what is right?" The Dalai Lama once said, "Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Be compassionate, not just to your/ friends, but to everyone. Be compassionate. Work for peace in your heart and in the world.
        Work for peace." This is beyond true. I believe the quickest way to change all this is a complete reform of our British colonial military school-style education system. We need something with more positive reinforcement, something more self-driven, more open-ended and more up-to-date.
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    Mar 25 2013: Yes it is, but not 100% unfettered capitalism, total free markets etc because humans are greedy and short sighted.
  • Mar 24 2013: Capitalism is sustainable provided it is flexible. The problem arises from the almost religious fervor with which free market economy is practiced.
    Capitalism overall has definitely contributed to innovative ideas and growth. Inequality is a by-product that has to be solved by modifying existing frame-work. This is of special relevance to developing economies like India.
    The practice of communism has not resulted in growth and freedom and has been wiped out from some countries. While equality principle is laudable, in the first place there should be wealth. Otherwise poverty equally gets distributed with the exception of the privileged.
    The philosophic issues are open to debate. Does incentive mean glorification of greed? Even then is it not the right way to channel it into productive use? Descartes said 'I think therefore I am'. Are we in a state that can be summed up as 'I consume therefore I am'? Some of the answers will arise from a flexible capitalism. Also capitalism may not be as free as we think. As Eric Fromm said capitalism involves 'soft kill' that involves bombardment with advertisement and other tools till people sustain the expected growth chart.
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    Mar 24 2013: Your basic question "Is capatailsm sustainable?" is very intriguing. What else can we have? Barter isn't practical. As I read your premise, I get what you mean, about the discrepency between the rich and poor and their apparent dependancy on one another. I don't think think that there is any reason for us to accept poverty and hunger and I think it can only be erased with money and effort. Guys like Bono put in the effort. The rest of us put in the money.

    The root cause of most of the worlds problems seems to be poor governments. Perhaps its time that the feudal sytem was supplanted with something better, like a one world government, backed up by the voting power of everyone. I have great confidence in the intelligence of people and am sure we are capable of ruling ourselves equitably.

    We need only provide them with the means. Possibly direct democracy is possible. Maybe we can live without representative rule.
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    Mar 24 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njSV5LtVmR4

    watch ^ video: Owned & Operated is a mosaic of the world through the lens of the internet. Showing our lives as consumers, under the thumbs of privileged individuals and their methods of contro
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      Mar 24 2013: Kareem,
      You didn't seem to understand what James had written. It's about how capitalism as been bent and twisted by politicians and greedy individuals for their own benefits. Capitalism is not perfect, It has been abused. Abuser's should be punished, severely punished. Capitalism is built on the premise that goods and services are exchanged with both parties receiving equal value.
      No other "system" is based on that premise.
      And the other thing that most detractors ignore in their criticism, is that even the most outrageous capitalist employs people who may not otherwise have employment. Someone has to build those private yachts, those palatial estates. As bad as they are, I think capitalists are not as egregious as others. I have never been told what job to do, or where to live, or how to vote, or where to go to church or not, or what to say or not, or who I can call friend or not, or how to vote. I live a a capitalist economy in a constitutional republic. It's not utopia, but of all the utopias, I've seen attempted, I'll stay with this one.
  • Mar 22 2013: Let me discuss one more aspect of Capitalism from the future development viewpoint. Our economic activities have been evolving from rural agriculture to urban manufacturing culture. Then starting in the middle of the last century, both the agriculture and manufacturing have gone further labor intensive operation to the processes of "automation and robotics" (AR). This latest trend significantly changes the supply/demand scenario for he relationship between the labor force and the production of goods and services. And I would say that this trend is not avoidable, and probably unstoppable.
    In the U.S., the agriculture production is already more than halfway toward the full AR. The AR process not only saves the labor cost, it also save resources such as water, fertilizer and seeds. The manufacturing of industrial products is also improving quickly utilizing AR. They have to change because the foreign competitors are moving to automated manufacturing too. As a matter of fact, nowadays new methods in AR are started in Europe rather than the U. S. Even in service industry, they are using AR, such as the ATMs and movie rental kiosks everywhere.
    The AR in manufacturing production shifts the cost structure of the value of the products. We can no longer use the model by Karl Marx, saying that the increase in value over the raw material is entirely due to the labor cost from the workers. under the AR system, the production of consumer goods is mainly contributed by capital investment, coupled with innovation and enterprising. In most of the AR manufactured goods made from raw materials to finished products never go through a single human hand. Thus how can we say that the value of the products came from the the labor?
    As the AR process goes further ahead, there will be less required manual labor. So the economic/social structure have to change. But, as we can produce all the foods and consumer goods cheaply, there should be less poverty, but more leisure time for workers.
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      Mar 22 2013: I guess most of our labor force will be involved in manufaturing and developing the machines that feed us...
      • Mar 22 2013: The personnel involved after Automation/Robotics is in full swing, will mainly consists of engineers, software developers,and technical repairman who serve as "controllers" in case the AR process break down occasionally. Brawny labor force is not required.
        I have submitted a proposal of how to move the excess labor force to other use, such as the care-taking of the increasing elderly population in a previous conversation: "Will Automation leads to Economic Collapse?" sponsored by Matts Kaarbo. If you have difficulties finding my comment please send me an email thru TED, then I will sent you a copy of it thru email.
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          Mar 23 2013: I recall a similar conversation going on in the 70's. Congrssional hearings on what they thought would soon be a "leisure crisis". They were worried that Americans might not have enough to do to keep them occupied. It was just a short time later that we all started working 60 or 70 hours a week just tomake ends meet! Something seems to always be getting in the way of our utopia! Either way, I am okay with it, as long as I don't have to hoe 20 acres of cucumbers in my old age!
    • Mar 23 2013: Moving from human effort to machine effort, though it may eliminate some jobs does not reduce demand for a human labor force. Computers today perform more work than could be accomplished by the entire human population, but that machine productivity has created far more jobs than the limited groups of people whose jobs computers have usurped. The labor force will have a different but greatly enlarged landscape of employment as automation of labor increases.

      Consider the employment impact of the appearance of personal computers including those disguised as tablets, gaming consoles, and cell phones.

      An emerging automation technology with unlimited labor growth potential is the invention and implementation of 3D printers, both professional and personal. When these devices become as ubiquitous as personal printers the output and job potential will be as large as the computer revolution.
      • Mar 23 2013: I agree with you, Richard. though there is one consideration needs to be considered. What the additional manpower need is technological adapt workers which may not be quickly trained in large numbers. Moreover, I foresee the needs for care-taking personnel in the role of human service for the increasing (aging) elderly population. so certain adults or youngsters might be suitable to serve in a slightly less technological, or managerial or human relations positions. I have posed a comment in a previous discussion in TED, referred in my answer to James Burns above. You are welcome to take a look, if you are interested.
        • Mar 23 2013: The training question is almost a red herring argument. Computer kiosks were placed in rural towns that had never seen a computer. There were no instructions. Children saw them and began to experiment. Soon they were both computer and internet savvy, teaching themselves and each other. People have an amazing adaptability. During WWII housewives built ships and planes. Amateurs made bomb sights and cameras. When the war was over most returned to their pre-war lives. It is no different today. Workers can be taught new technology very rapidly, and few will need a broad spectrum cross discipline knowledge base. Most work will still consist of a narrow range of tasks repeated over and over. Even that will be supported by increasingly capable computer programs to deal with the more esoteric calculations. For example, thanks to the Inventor program from Autodesk I have shown newbies in hours how to create complex designs that can be realized as parts from the new 3D printers. Such engineering and drafting capabilities used to take years of specialized education. Now engineering software can assist with materials choice, weight/strength requirements, flow characteristics of liquids, gasses, and electricity.

          Sure, as always we will still need highly educated people for innovative design in esoteric disciplines, but the days of weather broadcaster, for example, needing to pore over charts and numbers to figure out what is happening in the skies are over. He only needs the computer printouts and a compelling video presence to succeed.
      • Mar 23 2013: Richard, let me answer your second response by my post in the previous TED discussion as follows:
        I also would like to make a suggestion for the "life after automation". Since human life span becomes longer which causes population aging problem. So there would be less productive worker and more dependent elderly groups. We could make available a condominium system with elderly in one wing on a floor together with able-bodied young couple with children in the other wing on the same floor, The younger residents will "adopt" one or more "adopted parent(s) or grandparent(s)" to care for the elderly. The arrangement will also use the developed automation and robotics to mechanize and automate lots of care facilities so that most of the caring would be done by robots operated by a push of a few buttons which, of course, could be quickly learned by the teenagers; adopted grandchildren, after a brief training. The young couples (mostly unemployed) could be the managers, bookkeepers, cooks, etc. for the condominium or the building complex maintenance system. This system would be beneficial for both the children (for the lack of role models or guidance) and to the elderly to relieve their loneliness and to be able to interact with someone with more cheerful view in life..
        You see, I had already thought about the adaptability of computer skills by the young generations, especially to be utilized in the AR controlled environment. But the trainees for the "controller/repairman" in the fast moving AR manufacturing processes need a good knowledge of the inner construction of the AR equipments, which has to be taught by academic or professional training rather than by kiosks. Furthermore, would you trust some teenagers to supervise the high speed manufacturing to be the main "supervisors" in the machine room? An if we are talking about adults, especially the older ones, I doubt that we can educate them to fill these jobs without a formal class and hands-on practices as well.
  • Mar 22 2013: Thomas,
    I really can't make out much of what you are trying to say. I majored in philosophy at university and I've never known that Locke said any such thing as you imply. Perhaps your reading of him exceeds mine.

    You appear to be an advocate of some concept of which I am unfamiliar with your "Three Principles of Philosophy". Are you caught up in some cult that is applying its own definition of philosophy?

    As for David Suzuki, I happen to know him personally. I assure you that he is no philosopher! I read him as an arrogant little twerp who is of genius IQ - and won't let anyone forget it. Not satisfied with being brilliant, he also wants to be thought of as wise. He isn't. He rides his various hobby-horses unmercifully, verbally attempting to destroy any arguments contrary to his. If you know him, mention my name to him and remind him of the debate he and I had at York University in 1973. That ought to shut him up for 30 seconds or so - a long time for him.

    Thanks for commenting but I'm not interested in your religion or beliefs or philosophy, whichever it is.
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    Mar 22 2013: I think we sometimes feel that government should solve our problems. I don't think that is a healthy way to look at the world. Certainly, there are cases in which government should stand in the gap, but we seem to forget that here, in the U.S. we are the government. There seems to exist, this notion that politicians are somehow morally superior to the wealthy. Decisions made by politicians are based on the same sort of self interest as the decisions made by corporate heads. That is why the founders of our republic chose the rule of law over other forms of governing.
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    Mar 22 2013: Larry:

    Maybe I have been promoting the good old days to a great extent. What I believe is that we need to go back to a point where the system worked better and knowing what will happen if we continue as we have.
    It leads to the mess we have made today.
    What do I want? A "redo" if you will. Now, I know we actually can't go back in time ( if we could, I would have not smoked, taken better care of myself and not have hurt the people I did... but I digress)...
    The point is, we can understand history and plan to correct our outcome to a better future. I am not sure if it will be a different economic system or a different political system. What I am sure of is that the future should place the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for individuals as the goals of society and government. Not the other way around.
    I also believe that individuals who deprive others of their rights be punished severely. Be they serial killers or bankers.

    I read the blog and the description of the failures of our system is correct.
    My point is that if Homo Sapiens can not get past the genetic flaws of greed and pursuit of power, will the species continue? Or will it expand into a cannibalistic mass of self destruction. I hope we ( homo sapiens) are smarter then that and won't let the pending obvious to happen.
    • Mar 22 2013: Mike,
      I see your point but I think you err on two points. First the way things were done, or set up to be done, in the past seems to be almost a religion with you. By that I mean you have certain beliefs that you just will not examine for veracity. The "good old days" just didn't happen, Mike. They are myth. I am 72. I hear people who were born after 1980 talking about the 50's, 60's, and 70's as though those were great days and everything was glorious. Mike, I lived those days, they were nothing of the kind. You are dreaming of a society that just never has existed. And even if it had, those days are gone. We have to deal with today and yesterday has little to teach us about how to solve today's problems. Some, yes - but very little.

      Listen, my friend, I want to see us develop a society where we, as individuals, have opportunities to develop our personal abilities and "make our fortune" as much as you do. I think capitalism has much going for it in that respect. BUT, capitalism, like fire, is only a tool. It is NOT the "be-all-and-end-all" of a balanced and workable society. In western society today money has taken on a significance that is unhealthy in the extreme. It has become our master in our sick exaggeration of it and what it means. This is not because we, as individuals, are sick by nature (greedy) no matter what you've been taught. We are not. I wanted money and I got it. Plenty of it; but I managed to do that without preying on my fellow citizens.

      And what of other values? Do the arts have no intrinsic value or is everything in our society to be judged by its dollar value? Capitalism is a fine economic system - it is NOT a fine social philosophy. It must not rule over man. It's job, when properly controlled, is to enhance our lives, not to dominate them as it does now.

      It is the job of the social system to organize us so that our work is effective in advancing us as individuals and as a community. Either we hang together or we will be hung alone.
      • Mar 22 2013: Larry,
        I too lived in the depression, WWII, the 50-70s and the present. We went through rougher times than present Americans have ever known. I came through poverty, living at one time in a converted chicken house on a relative's small farm.

        However, the 50-70s were a time when an individual worker could buy a home, have two cars, and send his kids to college. In the 1930s FDR said, "we must build toward the time when a major depression cannot occur again." Had it not been for that effort we would have had another major depression instead of the current "greatest recession." It wasn't the bailout or the stimulus that saved us. It was a yearly 2 trillion dollar economic stimulus about which nobody speaks. FDR initiated social security and unemployment insurance. His followers added medicare/medicaid and food stamps. These programs paid out $1,436,700,000,000.00 each year, and those payments of immediately spent money carried an economy-boost of 160%, giving a net economic boost of $2,298,720,000,000.00. Even in the most severe recessionary period over the past 5 years that kept an additional $11.5 trillion of economic activity flowing in our nation.

        FDR added further, "Do what we may to inject health into our ailing economic order, we cannot make it endure for long unless we bring about a wiser, more equitable distribution of the national income." He also warned about runaway financial speculation, and the Glass Steagall act was passed to reign in such speculation. Our current recession was caused partly by rescinding its restrictions. Capitalism is not the gambling of money belonging to others for one's personal gain. The purpose of stocks is not to trade on miniscule rises and drops in their value to accumulate millions of pennies at a time into extreme wealth. Stocks were intended for investing in new enterprises on the hopes that they would improve our national economy and simultaneously provide wealth for the investor.
        • Mar 22 2013: Richard,
          The standard of living that you mention was supported in large part by supplying arms for two world wars and profiteering on the world's needs after them. Aside from that I cannot disagree with you in most of what you say. But remember that in those days a man could support his family nicely on his earned income if he was a good worker.

          In modern times our real income has fallen so far that it takes two incomes to meet our needs. Not luxury - just what we see as needs. And this isn't getting any better. You and I didn't have to contend with off-shoring of jobs or automation the way today's people do. We had the ability to do well if we wanted to do so because our society had the means to provide us with gainful employment. I, in particular, have done very well in my life, financially.

          BUT.... this is a whole different ball-game today. The system that allowed us to do OK in our day, has been taken advantage of by unscrupulous greedy bastards who have no honour and none of the respect for our fellows that you and I were taught.

          Some of the founding fathers glimpsed the problems that we'd be caused by the big banks and tried - twice - to get the country out from under them by setting up a government currency. The banks bought enough of 'our' representatives to end both those efforts and get themselves re-installed as masters of our currency.

          And that, my friend, was that. Our fate was sealed. The situation we have now was the inevitable result once we lost control of our money to those banksters. Until we get back control of our government and it sets up a proper national currency that owes nothing to the big banks, we're - in the vernacular - fucked.

          Right now our governments are our worst enemies because they're acting on behalf of the oligarchs instead of on our behalf. Until and unless that changes, we'll stay in the bottom of the outhouse.

          Thanks for your comment ;-)
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        Mar 22 2013: Larry,
        We all have views of our childhood. Mine was an immigrant family who literally came here with nothing.
        I was the first to attend college mainly because I got drafted and the sarge told me to be an officer. Officers sleep in tents.
        From your comments, I have not made myself clear.
        We are discussing capitalism. I think free market capitalism is the most "democratic" of all economic
        systems.
        Since the beginning of the US, the Federalist have pushed, schemed, legally and illegally to establish a strong central government, soliciting and favoring financial support by every means possible.
        So, I have maintain through this conversation that we go back to real capitalism and vote out these "politicians" who see themselves as governing superiors.
        Then you suggest that my focus leaves out the societal changes that are here today. Each generation has been identified as to their nature. To my dismay, The greatest generation got so caught up in the post war boom, they gave their children (the age of Aquarius) little moral guidance and the beginning of the 'me too' society got started.
        So, now we have real social problems, fine arts have been reduced to hanging red cloth across the Grand Canyon and our music has gone from Beethoven to Beyonce. So, pardon me I am not excited about there current generation. For the most part, a good swat on the backside is way past in order.
        • Mar 22 2013: Mike,
          I agree that we're talking at cross purposes here. I'm involved in a number of conversations-by-comment here and, being new, I haven't figured out how these threads work and keep getting mixed up as to what conversation I'm having with who!

          Ok, let's see if I can make myself clear. I like capitalism a lot. It's been very good to me. But... there are different forms of capitalism. Each form serves a particular purpose better than other forms of it do.

          Our society uses the term capitalism to mean the whole ball of wax. Economic system, social system and all the other systems. I doubt the value of "free market capitalism" aka laissez faire capitalism because any economic system is merely a tool and, while free market might be a useful tool in developing a nation, it sucks once that nation is developed. It is way too competitive at a basic level. Any developed nation ought to be able to guarantee its citizens - ALL its citizens - a decent standard of living and - more important - a decent education. Our present one could do that but it doesn't.

          This is not because of having a strong central government. It's because the economic system is dominating the social system. The harm that is being done is from the economic big boys bribing the elected reps to pass laws that put them in the driver's seat. They don't belong there. We, the people belong there.

          You seem to think that letting the economic system control the social - and other - systems is the solution to our woes. I, on the other hand see that as the cause of all our woes. Capitalism need not enshrine the feudalist attitudes of gluttonous luxury vs absolute poverty. That does NOT work for the majority - only for the few at the top.

          Capitalism, of a different form, has the ability to serve us well - ALL OF US! But it will never do so as long as we let it continue to greedily prey on the largest part of the population. Worst of all it is so greedy that its now eating itself!
        • Mar 22 2013: Mike,
          I hope I figured out how to continue in this thread.

          Men form a society so as to accomplish things together that individuals cannot do alone. One of those things is caring for all members of the society including the ill, the old, and the children. We co-operate to those and other ends. When we've done that, we're ready to engage in competition. Until we've done that we're assholes if we cut each others throats for a crust of bread in competition for basics. There is capitalism for social good and there is another kind of capitalism for individual good. Sometimes they are congruent sometimes they are not. Where they are not then capitalism for the social good must prevail over capitalism for the individual good. In other words, I'm happy to see you do well as an individual BUT if you fuck up my kids while you're getting fat, I'll eat you alive.

          The ONLY way for capitalism of the individual to be acceptable is for the well-being of the society - the one that allows of an individual doing well, remember? - to be assured. And that, my friend, means that the society MUST control and set limits on what the economic system, and all who are part of it, may do.

          In our society we elect reps to manage things on OUR behalf in preference to managing our society for those who are engaged in the great game of wealth acquisition. We do that because only few people care to spend their lives playing that game. We, mostly, have other fish to fry. That the 'players' insist on us all playing their game is destructive to all else in our society. Play the game if you wish - and I personally wish - but don't mess with the society that nurtures you and provides you with the wherewithal to play. That screws us up and eventually, as we can see today, screws up the whole system that we all - you included - need. We're not in trouble because of a strong Federal govt. We're in trouble because our govt. is corrupted by wealthy predatory, greed-capitalists.

          We can do it better.
        • Mar 23 2013: Larry,

          Are you saying my comment is crap? If so, c'mon, show me how.

          Or are you suggesting that our present plight is that dire?
        • Mar 23 2013: Richard,

          ""Are you saying my comment is crap? If so, c'mon, show me how.""

          No.
      • Mar 23 2013: Hi, Larry,
        There was no place for me to directly reply to your comment about mine. Firstly, war does not cause economic prosperity, rather it consumes resources into destruction. I have seen others say that the cause of our prosperity was our manufacturing output that had no competition on the world stage. That argument is not only baseless but patently false. Reading the commentary at the time I see that we rebuilt the factories of both our allies and enemies after the war and that they had the latest technologies in those factories while ours were generations old. The latest reason I hear is that oil discoveries were the economic drivers of the time. That may be partially true. But the real cause of prosperity is political policy of the era.

        In the late 1920s the economic spread of both wealth and income was much like it is today. FDR said he was determined to make it more equitable. This aroused the wrath of the wealthy, and a plot was put in place to have him overthrown. Before his election there was an effort to assassinate him. Before his second election he commented, "I should like to have it said of my first administration that in in these forces of greed and lust for power had met their match. I should like to have it said of my second administration that in it they met their master."

        He raised the highest marginal tax rate to 90%. Those monies funded the TVA, Grand Coulee and Hoover dams, the paving of suburbia, the freeway system, and the space program. Each of these and other similar programs brought prosperity and growth to all impacted regions. NASA spun off 1400 industries. That entire period saw comparatively low unemployment. With the Reagan economic policies it was turned around. Unemployment since has been higher than in the previous 30 years. Today those same forces of greed and lust for power are back in control of both wealth and wages. The 99% need to reclaim our nation from their stranglehold.
  • Mar 21 2013: Mike,
    Good comment. I agree with you 100% when you state that, ""To be at the service of a few be it 99% or 1% is still to be in the service of...."", but there is a vast difference between "service" and "co-operation!"

    When men come together and form a society there is a certain level of co-operation that is required for any society to work. I need not, I'm sure, write a big long list of the ways that we all benefit by co-operation. You will already know what I mean, and have had the advantage of such co-operation, from personal experience.

    Let us understand that an economic system is supposed to serve a society and the individuals in that society. Otherwise, why have either one? Certain kinds of economic systems serve certain needs. Unfettered capitalism may - I make no claim of this - may serve a society well at certain times in its development. This does NOT mean that it will serve the society well in other circumstances. My impression is that it seems a great way to develop a society when it is starting from scratch and when all people in that society truly have relatively equal opportunities to take advantage of its unique characteristics.

    However, there comes a time when unfettered capitalism becomes a bane on society; where it no longer serves the needs of that society or the majnority of its individuals. It is that time which is upon us presently. It is now up to us to design a social system and an economic system that will serve us as they should.

    Offered here is a short explanation of what that next step in our social and economic systems might look like. I make no claim that my concept of social participation by choosing social managers by lot, or my concept of "Citizens' Capitalism" as an economic improvement, are perfect or that they'll magically bring utopia.

    What I tried to show is that it IS possible to design an alternate CAPITALIST system, and an alternate social system. If mine doesn't suit you, I'd love to see other (your?) designs.
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      Mar 22 2013: Fair enough. What I think might be more fair. I like a basic capitalistic economic system. Free markets if you will, but I would like contract law to be enforced. Both parties to a contract get what they contract for. I think that the US can best function as a Constitutional Republic. Our original constitution was pretty well written. I would like to start back at the beginning. Why? Because over the last 200 years, the US has been plagued by professional politicians who by their own admission or actions came to the conclusion that they were smarter and better administrators of the law. The nations was only a few years old when the Federalist began chipping away at the Law and began to consolidate power into the central government. A hundred years later, The Washington elite decided that they were the smartest of all and should provide for those not so fortunate. Some good things happened, but not all... and they were provided at the cost of some liberties. The next hundred years more good things have happened and at the cost of more liberties. Until today, when they have wrapped Americans in a swaddling blanket and try to care for us from cradle to grave. A good number of Americans have accepted these conditions from our federal benefactors, a few of us more rebellious types don't desire to have everything done for us or to us.

      So, it is proposed that the federal government be return to it's original state. That it be tasked to do only those duties as specifically defined in the original constitution. All other tasks, programs, policies and procedures be reviewed and only those supported by 2/3 of the sovereign states be continued. That the 17th Amendment be repealed. That congressmen be limited as the president to two terms. The cabinet would be reduced to 7 Secretariats. That lobbying be considered as bribery. That the 16th Amendment be rewritten to be only a flat tax rate of 10%. It's biblical.

      Those are a few of my favorite things.
      • Mar 22 2013: Mike,
        I can understand your thinking. I followed much the same line of thought about 30 years ago. Further thought and observation led me to think that we just do not have the ability to "return to them thar good ol' days" of lore. Why not? Because that is exactly what they were - days of lore - and did not ever really exist.

        But even if they had existed, the grand opportunities that were extent then do not exist today. In those days so much needed doing that there was never any question that production (of goods or services) was required by the society, that we didn't need to pay any attention to the consumption side of the capitalist balance of production with consumption. We were playing catch-up to consumption for hundreds of years. But our capacity to produce has become so great now that our whole economic system has oriented itself to "playing with the economic system" as a means of amassing wealth. We are no longer securely tied to production as we once were.

        The problem arises when we realize that we ARE still tied to consumption though. We NEED things. We NEED services. We are a growing population facing reductions in our traditional way of sharing the wealth we produce. Automation has still only scratched the surface of our ability to produce. As it increases - and it WILL certainly increase because it's is just simply cheaper than human labour - then in order for people to play their role as consumers, we'll need to assure them of an income so they can do that.

        This means that our traditional means of providing income to our population has to re-designed away from "employment" and towards some other means of wealth sharing or distribution.

        Reversing progress to "go back" to another time is fruitless. Putting band-aid patches on this particular form of capitalism is, as we can easily see, not working either. We have no real option; we MUST subdue our economic system or we will fall into socialistic "government of everything." A damned shame I think
      • Mar 22 2013: Mike,
        Here is a short blog that you ought to read. I suggest that you read the author's short bio before reading it so that you know where he is coming from. Comments by Skypixiezero are mine.
        http://open.salon.com/blog/ted_frier/2013/03/21/greed_not_so_good
  • Mar 20 2013: What not ends up turning sustainable? At least starts to think in a open perceptive, to respective sense of conjecture distributed in connection system for reality reproductions: diferences ever will exist, meanwhile, they transforming cyclically up reproducting a level form adaptable behaviorally to history progress. The known capitalism, even as linguistic behavior, in terms of comparison, has a close vinculation with a vast human aspects of production and progressive subvention to a macro cronological sustainability.

    So, the point to work about is between how the concept of poverty corresponds to his meaning and impacts with the distintions of class; considering the advances of graduation, the poverty of future would be the wealth of the present.
  • Mar 20 2013: Bart,
    You're talking about putting band-aids on a system that has cancer. Look sir, you know that you can't run an engine that was designed to use gasoline as fuel on diesel oil. In the same way you can't build a democratic nation on a republican framework. The entire American system is built on the wrong framework for a democracy.

    The founding fathers were great men and much ahead of their time - at that time - but they didn't have to deal with the things we, today, have to deal with. It is no dishonour to them to recognize that the system they envisioned and created just doesn't cut it in today's world.

    It is time to sit down and re-design what is used as a "system." Band-aids just aren't doing the job. And that includes the band-aids you suggest. While I agree that a strong third party would change the game somewhat, if you look at Canada, which has 4 or 5 major parties, it's not much better than the US. In the end the elite will continue to bribe and through their 'contributions' to ALL political parties that could possibly form a government, they will get laws passed that screw "the people" and advantage the wealthy. They are equal opportunity bribers.

    Besides that, how are you going to make the people vote for a 3rd party? They don't do that now and if ever they had a good reason to it is certainly now!

    I suspect that you have little idea of just how deeply the rot is entrenched in the "American System" or you'd not even think that a few more (there are tens of thousands already) patches will fix everything up. Horses get too old to ride, cars get too old to drive, and political/economic systems get too old for the world they're trying to deal with. It has reached the point where every band-aid just adds to the problem. Is this the kind of nation that the children of this society ought to inherit? Can't it be done better than this? Is it not possible to at least, try?
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      Mar 20 2013: Let me understand what you are saying... We change the political system of America from a constitutional republic to a democracy? I am confused because capitalism is an economic system.
      But, ZAP! America is now a democracy. Before the American Democracy today is a vote on trade agreements with "......" OK, I'll be honest, I haven't the vaguest what this is all about. I have a job, and I don't have time to deal with this... and neither does the other 300 million of us.
      How are we to vote?
      Where?
      Who knows?

      Having a democracy in a small New England village of 200 is really cool. Getting 300 million in a townhall is a little challenging.

      So, your point is that capitalism is not sustainable in a constitutional republic because there are crooks and malcontents in the mix.
      • Mar 20 2013: Oh. You weren't following the whole thread of my comments and the reply comments that I got, on this subject. Now I see why your comments seemed to be so odd. I won't go back over it all again. If you care to read what I've said in the entire stream of my comments on this blog, and get caught up, then we might have a profitable discussion. Until then.........;-)
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          Mar 21 2013: Fair enough. I went back to read some more and still come back to the political issues. So, "The entire American system is built on the wrong framework for a democracy. " Which I believe is a true statement.
          In 1787, the new federation of states was base on a free market. By 1830, politics got involved with capitalism. By 1860, we had a civil war. The crony capitalists won. Buy 1900s, Federal capitalism began and was fully implemented by the 1930s. It peaked in the 1960's and has held this level since and now has the support of nearly half the national populous. The balance is nearly split by those who are unsure and those who are wondering how the hell we got here and they are scared.

          My concern is before the evolution of the USA into a society as Mr. Morris describes where all those people need consumer/client protection from unfettered capitalism. Whether the new form is welfare or wealthfare capitalism, I find neither exceptable. To be at the service of a few be it 99% or 1% is still to be in the service of....
  • Mar 20 2013: I would give the opinion that Capitalism as described by Smith, Marx, etc. doesn't exist. This was unqualified capitalism. Today it seems to be Social Marketism. Variables like Welfare/Entitlement or Regulation make the system less pure "capitalistic". There are too many people on earth to allow unfettered Capitalism and Consumer/Client Protection is necessary.
    Our Democratic Republic ceased to exist somewhere around July4, 1976. Our Second Republic is our current Oligarchic Plutocracy. The effect is that regulations are tailored to protect the corporation and/ or super wealthy individuals. Guaranteed profits is not part of Capitalism and guaranteed Poverty is not either.
    All should be equal in Rights, but abilities differ. All should be at liberty to purse the Dream, despite their caste. Money in the hands of the few and power in the hands of the few, is squashing the Dream of many. The intended or unintended consequences have produced many "weak links" in society. Undereducated and over indebted generations have, or will be, coming of age.
    We have Industrial Complexes crafting our Regulations and Tax Code and if history repeats itself, 2029 will be the 21st Century Great Depression. World War III will not take us out of it, only make it so World War IV is fought with sticks and stones (Einstein).
    We can listen to Prophets or Profits. We can let Apathy kill the Empire. We can suffocate on Bubbles and fall into Wealth Gaps the size of Canyons. We can not call it Capitalism without qualifying it, not as Welfare Capitalism but, Wealthcare Capitalism
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      Mar 20 2013: Point well taken. How do you suggest we fix it.
      • Mar 21 2013: More: "Hail Well Good Fellow"/ Less: "What's in it For Me?" (although you could click like my comment and get me a TED Cred like I did for you). "He who dies with the most toys still Loses", and in my opinion the Boomers have locked up many of our Assets and directly and/or indirectly the Worlds assets are tied to theirs. Ask the Chinese why they buy our T-bills with the trade surplus money. The poet Page Plant noted that you can not buy a "stairway to Heaven". Bill Gates is not richest in world because he has given more money away (alive) than what remains of his fortune. Analogy: Shark Tank Or Dolphin Tank. The show Shark Tank resembles our Society, people are rarely rejected because idea is bad, but on the terms. If the judges can't take advantage of the "contestant", this is the reason for rejection. Dolphins, on the other hand, are known to help each other (even humans) to reach air to breathe in times of distress or weakness. We can nurture individuals or be the statistical harvest for the fat cats. I am the other 1%, no diploma, no assets, no retirement, no health insurance, but 100% thought control and about 90% at peace. In conclusion, if I have not answered already, it is "attitude adjustment" that is needed. Less Apathy, More Sharing. Rock Soup for the Soul.
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          Mar 21 2013: Hi Thomas,
          I understand. There is a lot of greed out there. But, I also understand greed, it is predicable. I am also in agreement with the moral act of charity. Where I get flummoxed is where I hear a pious man with the words of the saints extolling us to do more for our fellow man and the best way to do that is to give our souls to another man or small group. These purveyors of our souls, and everything else we have, will insure that all are who need help will be in a state of equality to which we will all give according to our means and receive according to our needs.
          In this way we can save the world, help the environment, stop poverty and misery, the list goes on.

          Thomas, you may be in the other 1%, with all you don't have, except a command of the English language, the technical abilities and equipment to post on TED. You are richer than you let on. I, on the other hand, will say I am one of the 99%, like that means anything.
      • Mar 21 2013: I progress towards Progress. I gravitate towards Gravitas. I steal Wisdom from the Wise. I seek not the Pets, but the Strays. I am a Slave to Mankind and therefor serve no Master. If Offended, I still Defend. I Delete Elite with Delight. Cursed with Non-Conformity, and Blessed to Spread it. The Philosophy of Philosophy is Everything. The Theory of Theory is Abstract.
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    Mar 20 2013: Alan, that is such a nice vision. You mentioned in an earlier post that: "The buy into this can be voluntary but is often more efficient to have compulsory participation. This is done in the open and has no particular psychosocial hazard." I am particularly interested in these wonderfull souls who are to compell us to go forward with this. Where do they come from? Where do we find these perfect people? What makes them any more likely to act according to the best interest of all than those who head corporations, or democratic republics? Why is their motivation somehow more humanitarian than my own self interest?

    I love the "sensible" linguistic modifications you use. By "often more efficient to have compulsory participation" I assume you mean: "We might need to force people to participate." I think you might have the ability to spin well enough to work for MSNBC or FOX either! Someone is doing the compelling, and if the system does not work, when will they know enough to stop it? After all incentive for producing is stripped away, and the community is starving? When they know they either have to give up, or build a wall to keep people in? We are seriously, and probably missguidedly considering putting up a wall to keep people out. I remmember when the dominant power of the system you espouse had a wall up to keep people in!
  • Mar 19 2013: Hi Mike,

    Private property is an invention used to control populations - control is a good thing up to a certain point , and laws which use the concept of private property to make theft, for example, illegal are useful.

    So PP is an artificial, man made tool - it is NOT a natural phenomenon. To verify this apply this concept to say a flock of sheep, or birds, or a school of fish. Do they see any property boundaries? Now look at yourself. You think you are a discrete organism, right? Well, you're not. You depend biologically on millions of organism with separate physical identities - by number, what you are is only 10% you - most of you is bacteria, by mass most of you is you thankfully. So even your most intimate personal existence is part of a living, moving pool of biomass which sits on the surface of the planet like the skin on an apple. You are not a discrete organism, we share the air we breathe and the water we drink. We depend on each other all the time, we are a society.

    I said the concept of private property is good up to a point. Beyond that point you see the idea as important than life. After that you are entering into a sick world, your mind is no longer healthy.....you have lost contact with reality. Unfortunately these imaginary worlds can be sustained over long periods if they get embedded in systems of indoctrination (Nationality, Education, Churches, Political philosophies, many many human institutions are devoted to promoting some ideology over real life)... Sickness over health. Not good

    Returning to the Good, Material PP is verbal and mental shorthand for respect for other people. Respect, natural, not a universal, but a general rule in animal communities. Material Respect in human society can be better expressed in other ways, eg via the concept of Biological Rights - a right to sufficient clean air, wholesome water and food, and the right to pleasurably associate with other beings.

    Social infrastructure to follow.
    • Mar 20 2013: Well actually animals are quite territorial as are humans and I would argue that if and when observed closely there is no respect in the animal kingdom either. We see Younger lions overthrowing their own ancestors, infanticide, parasites etc. plus I don't think something as ambiguous and subjective as respect exists anywhere but in human societies. Ecosystems are very intelligent, but the semblance of order in the animal kingdom comes mostly from fear of life.
      What sets us apart from animals is our ability to rise above our nature and embrace higher consciousness.
      But as a species (as we speak), we are more twisted than anything else because everything we seem to touch dies.
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      Mar 20 2013: Alan: Umaid Gupta has said what I have known all along. People are no damn good.
      • Mar 20 2013: Hey, take it easy! People are animals, and as animals we're just fine ! It's just a small detail that we got smart and intelligent and are now in danger of swamping out a whole bunch of other species, their loss and ours.

        It's possible to fix this by cutting back on excessive consumption and ploughing effort into conservation, spreading information around the community and potentially teaching monkeys to speak because they know a lot about how to do stuff that we don't. Other species like the crocodile have lots to teach us about sustainability!
        • Mar 20 2013: alan sloan: I am an optimist like you.
          I forgot all about Crocodiles and monkeys.
          Although I still think we have more than a steep hill to climb. After making it to the top we may still have to shift our brain from just above our knees to our head.
          BUt then there are crocodiles.
          So I am an optimist.
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          Mar 21 2013: Alan: Isn't this "excessive consumption " you describe the measure of human civilization? So, if I understand, if we were to focus on conservation which is not a bad thing, how much of the evolution of civilization do we curtail. Do we return to the 1950s, 1850s, 10,500 (bce). Now, this human trait of advancing their civilization by doing bigger and better things, WIFI eyeglass, etc., you would curtail by focusing on available resources and future requirements, which we know will never happen.
          You then fault for my comment ??? You and Umaid deserve to be optimist.
          I will remain a realist.
        • Mar 22 2013: If you insist excessive consumption is a mark of civilization. Although when I think of civilization I think of great art, literature, engineering and architecture. In noway is the Roman or Egyptian marketplace symbolic of the civilizations of which they were a part. What lasts and lives on is quite different. So this point though disputable is arguable both ways.

          However excessive consumption certainly isn't in any way measure of the human species, which is so much more than that. Great thinkers of yore feel the two things that set us apart are the ability to rise above our natural tendencies and the ability to move towards ideals or perfectionism.

          On this reading, therefore, I think that while we have become a lot more intelligent than we were, we are at this time, only coming to grips with our potential for intelligence. It is inevitable that evolution will keep taking its course and lead us to a time when we are far smarter, sensitive, noble and efficient than we currently are. In that sense I am a realist.

          I believe this process will become the primary preoccupation of human kind very very soon. I also believe we will be able to put our differences to the side and remove all hindrances to see this end to fruition. So I am an optimist too.
  • Mar 19 2013: Capitalism is a tool. It has been around since the beginning of social development, even before money was invented. If a community was willing to feed and house creative people, those inventive types could produce better tools to improve the lives of those around them. Capitalism can be of great benefit if used wisely; see micro-loan organizations like Kiva. Or, Capitalism can do great social harm, such as by Manufacturers growing their profits by pulling out of advanced economies to take advantage of serf societies. Look at the decline of America, living on credit instead of goods produced.
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      Mar 19 2013: Capitalism as they like to call it , resembles a new form of what I call "Communist Capitalism" . I say this because we are led to believe that the Communist system is the state owns the business and the state profits . Where as the Western form of Capitalism the state does not own the business, but instead the state (taxpayer) is expected to finance a failing or start-up business and all the profit goes to the business.

      Thus leaving the state (taxpayer) footing the investment as a forgiveable loan.So what we have here is "Communist Capitalism". Add on top of the state financing , taxbreaks and companies set up offshore bank accounts....we have a form of robbery by legislation. In the end it will always be the 99% who carry the burden .
      • Mar 19 2013: My understanding is the system you call "Communist Capitalism" where corporate interests collude with government to make more money is usually referred to as Fascism.
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          Mar 19 2013: Yes that would be correct...& this is where we are at . We might not be at Fascism, but we are surely headed in that direction. When you see democracies like Cyprus , being taken over by the IMF and the world bank, one can conclude , government by political parties and business have set that tone.
      • Mar 19 2013: Wayne, I think you are sugar coating it. Communism is when the government owns the business, the capitalism we currently practice is when the businesses own the government. Period. Does DepAg work for people or companies? 90% of AMericans want GMO labelling, but Dep Ag and FDA are fighting it tooth and nail. Why? Because SecAg VIlsack is so in bed with Monsanto they should probably just get married already. The food industry doesn't want it, people do, and who does the government support?

        We just fought a war to destabilize the world's second largest oil reserve, thereby the whole market driving up prices. WHat do we think is gonna happen when we elect the grandchild of Standard Oil's founder, and make the key shareholder in Halliburton his VP? The Banana Wars at the turn of the century, any number of dictators along the way... why does Iran hate us so? Because we upset a popularly elected leader with a coup by a CIA backed dictator, who then tortured and repressed the same religious leaders that are there today. And all at the behest of the oil companies, who didn't want their fields nationalized.

        Officially Ken, I believe we need a dictator to meet the dictionary definition of Fascism; don't think we have a name for yet ,when it is corporate oligarchy masquerading as democracy... but the end results are the same, right?
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          Mar 20 2013: Scott: I guess we are both on the same page.
        • Mar 22 2013: Scott,
          A dictatorship need not have one dictator. We have the interesting phenomenon of having a system whereby we alternate dictators. At least we appear to do so and that seems to satisfy the sheeple that they are "choosing" their dictator.

          In reality, of course, it is the oligarchy who is the real dictator. And yes, fascism is indeed alive and well in the world of today. I see little mention of who the "behind the scenes" true dictator of dictators is but a careful look at things reveals that it is the big banks. Same old story - follow the bucks to see what's really going on.
      • Mar 20 2013: Capitalism has many expressions...social, political, cultural etc. But in essence(and this is the classic marxist/hegelian view on production) capitalism is about goods, commodity chains and particularly about entitlements along the chain.
        Someone cuts a tree and gives it to a factory. In it hundreds of people slave all day to make a pencil. The pencil is then sold in the market. In our current system those who add most value to the piece of wood, i.e the hundreds of workers who labor in factories to create the product....receive the least share of profit from the final sale of the pencil basically because they are the most dispensable group in the whole value addition process. Factory owners have the machines, they also supply marketeers who package the product and give it a unique identity. There are fewer factory owners and marketeers.

        With respect to entitlements communist regimes are essentially the same. Although the state owned everything and there was less variance in salaries in factories and produce was pretty much free, workers were fundamentally isolated from perks and power that the state controlled.

        That being said, I believe that intrinsic disparity in entitlements of the many and the few will hold true across all systems and at all times. So call it what you may.

        I guess while I am in agreement with scott I find it appropriate to add that in the current system corporations own more than the government. They own our thoughts, plagued by false stories of hope inseminated in our brains by a biased media and countless never ending ads etc. We live in an age where people have no trouble believing that something as important and invaluable as time is worth money. I think this sometimes means that money is the best thing you can get out of your time.
        IDiocy, blasphemy, zombiness.
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    Mar 19 2013: thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment Mr.Shamwell. You sparked a glimmer of hope with.....

    'Quite frankly, I don't see the Human Race really taking that next step of its evolution with Wealth determined as we do today. The Wealth should always be in the Person. '
  • Mar 19 2013: Alan,

    I do not understand what you mean by......
    ""The problem with the concept of Private Property is that it is prone to abuse by those with an ideology to peddle. What starts out as a healthy respect for other people and their physical and emotional security (which is where you seem to me to be) is then hyped up and twisted into an ideological tyranny by people who frankly don't seem to know any better.""

    Perhaps you could expand on this thought.

    By the way, I will not go to other sites that you reference in any comment. Either leave it out or put it forward, giving due credit of course, but don't expect me to go off and watch a video so as to understand your position or argument.

    I am happy to hear your understanding of what someone else said; it is, of course, your understanding of it that represents its meaning to you. What it means to you is what I'll be pleased to discuss. I hate "academic" arguments where each person is trying to out-quote the other. I present MY ideas. If others have had the same idea before I did well then good for them. But my ideas are still my ideas. I hold them in a certain context and use them to explain myself.

    Does this work for you?
  • Mar 19 2013: It starts doing the London Bridge and all falls down. Especially with no roads. That's some Mad Max two man enter one man leave thunder dome type s#!t. Crazy!!!
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    Mar 19 2013: Alan, in reference to your comment buried way back in the conversation:

    So, are you saying that capitalism did not exist until it was given that name? Come on Alan!

    If these systems are opperating inside capitalism, isn't that still capitalism, just modified a little?

    I am amazed that you can look at the history of the world since around 1914 to the present and still say that communism "works pretty well!" Show me where and when!

    Even under the most severe communist systems, capitalism still thrived, it just had to go underground.

    All of those systems to which you allude are forms of one of the two systems when you get down to brass tacks.
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    Mar 18 2013: One solution that hasn't been discussed is a voter's action. If voters would all band together and vote out the incumbents at each of the next two or three federal elections, Politicians may get the idea that the citizens are not happy. Now. some voters may lament that the new guy has really divergent views but, the voters will have to remember that in some other election that voter will be facing the same issue. But all voters will have to vote out the incumbent regardless of politics. It's politics that have created our problems. About the third or forth time, voters in masse will have to inform their elected officials to play nice or they're back home in two years or so.
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      Mar 19 2013: I agree that politics creates our problems. But our politics is led by the controlling forces of a political party, thus we must cut off support for any political party. We must push for candidates free from the shackles of the party system and promote independent candidates who represent the very constituencies that elect them.
      You could have the independent candidate sign a contract with the constituency and if the candidate breaks that contract ...recall him or her.


      As I like to say, political party's are nothing more than vehicles used to hijack ...what should be the "people's" system of governing.
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        Mar 19 2013: I think the inherent hurdle is that most of the country's voters have basically a two party mentality. I think I read statistics is that independents comprise less then 25% of the population and some of them described them selves as not affiliated but have conservative or liberal views. To make matters worse, in this age of social media, very "young" sters are developing political conscientious at a very early age. That is why, I proposed the "vote the incumbents out" concept. Where in effect, the voters were not voting so much for a political posture, as they were voting to get the politicians attention, then maybe the voters can get something done.
    • Mar 20 2013: What are your views on a mass scale Civil Disobedience in the States? I>E> what if people got together and refused to pay taxes to the government for say a year?
  • Mar 18 2013: Alan,
    This is why I say that the tail is wagging the dog. Our economic system by means of bribery (let's call lobbying what it really is) of "our" representatives and their political parties has gained control of all other systems that we use by "owning" what is supposed to be "our" government. Nothing is going to "separate" them unless we, the people demand that "our" representatives actually represent us. What chance do you think of that happening? Yeah. Zip. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Not a hope in bloody hell.

    Back in the days when all societies were largely agricultural, and large portions of the people lived in rural areas, a bloody revolution did little lasting damage to the society's ability to survive. This is no longer so in our modern societies. We are mostly an urban population now and we depend heavily for our survival upon modern tech. It is not that we are too cowardly to revolt, it is that we CANNOT revolt without destroying the hundreds of years of technological development that means our survival in today's world.

    That means that real change must come about more slowly and thoughtfully; by evolution rather than revolution, if you will. And THAT means that we need to work hard to design the society that we want. Then we'll need to implement that social system in non-threatening ways so as to introduce it in a way that won't cause anyone to feel personally threatened.

    Yup. Very slow. Not an instant solution at all. We don't like that; we're accustomed to getting what we want, right now. No waiting or building for the future. Borrow the money and get it. Well, sir, this can't go that way. This has to be built over generations, maybe centuries. But, like it or not, this is what we MUST do if we are to survive as a species on this planet.

    The only question is, "Are we Man(kind) enough to do it?"
    • Mar 18 2013: I agree with your comment about our representatives that "....unless we, the people, demand that our representatives actually represent us".
      I also am not against slow changes. But may I suggest which is the place for change with the first priority. If you look at the recent approval ratings of the 3 branches of the federal government, sadly all three are dipping through the 50% boundaries. And the ratings on Congress are inching toward 15%. This atrocious figure cries out for a hard look for urgent need of some changes. It also indicates that this one "leg" of our government system of the 3 legs is just not functioning as our founding fathers expected. It also indicated that the voters, that's us, are extremely disappointed that these ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES ARE INDEED NOT ACTUALLY REPRESENTING US AT ALL.
      In summary, we must start to prepare the change, slowly or not, as soon as possible.
      • Mar 18 2013: Bart,
        It is indeed urgent to begin preparing for change. B U T ... until you know what you expect your social system to be responsible for, you can't very well design a system that will do you much good. That's what you have now. And that's one of the things to avoid in creating a new system.

        The approval ratings are what they are. I'd say that the average person understands completely that things aren't going right for himself and others, as things stand at the moment. Unfortunately Mr. Average Joe thinks a few "fixes" are all that's needed. He doesn't understand that it's waaay too late for band-aids.

        Yet, people are so conditioned to believe that this system is "the best of all possible systems" that it is a hard task to get many to even think about determining what the system should do, let alone designing one that will do that job and planning its implementation.

        I strongly suspect that our present set-up will collapse fully long before you can get people to see the need for change.

        This system is functioning almost exactly as the founding fathers expected. They set up a system that supports a republic. A Democracy is now favoured over a republic. That means the system can't properly support one thing when it was designed to support something else.

        It's time to take the founding fathers off the altar that people worship at. It's time to nail down what the people want a system to do and design, from scratch, one that will do as the people wish. Where it seems wise to adopt something put forward by the founding fathers - or any other people - then let that be done. There's no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It will be necessary to take down the present system but we can keep the "bricks and boards" that are still sound and useable for use in the new building. It's the rot, and the potential for rot, that has to be eliminated. And you can bet that those who profit from that rot now are not going to be enthusiastic about any changes.
        • Mar 20 2013: Larry,
          I agree with you that the main thing to change is to get the rotten wood out of the system. But it seems obvious that at least the current Congress are consisted at least 50 or more who don't have the attitude of what's good for the whole country but instead they have the eyesight on what is good for their party affiliation, or occasionally for the sake of their own states in order to get reelected. Our founding fathers did not specify or restrict that there could be only two parties for the legislative branch. So referring to my earlier comments, I advocated that there should be a third party or independent candidates in order to break the iron-grip by only one of the two major parties in our legislative branch. But instead of a complete revamp of our existing Constitution, is it more practical to modify several important items in the current Constitution with a super-majority of consensus among all the voters. Of course, the first place the axe should fall would be, you guessed it, the composition of the Congress. There is an added advantage when the congress is cleaned up by including at least a 3rd or "independent" party, then even the Supreme Court would not be controlled by only one or the other party. even though the justices are supposed to be free of partisanship. Furthermore, the independents, or more additional parties, should be a group with sufficient number(s), so as they would not be serving as only a decorative figures, they would not have a substantive weight in the senate confirmation process of a supreme court justice (or in fact, it also involves the confirmation of the cabinet officers) , like the two current independent senators had to join the Democratic caucus instead of having their own.
          When there are constitutionally guaranteed congressional seats in the election, there will be substantially more candidates from independent or 3rd party coming out, because the current system overwhelmingly favors the 2 major parties
    • Mar 19 2013: Oh, Larry,
      I'm not well endowed with patience, I've lost it a couple of times elsewhere on this topic and the flash point has been the hubristic promotion of private property as an unalloyed good, which it most certainly is not. Your good hearted advance of the common sense principles of civic participation and careful and deliberate reformation has a calming effect on me. Which is as well as it is past my bedtime here.
      Goodnght.
      • Mar 19 2013: Alan,
        I wonder where 'here' is for you!

        I may not ease your mind any when I tell you that I too consider the ownership of private property to be a good thing. So much so that I would like to see everyone assured of owning their own property.

        But that doesn't mean that our whole doggone society ought to be "privately owned". I love the capitalist idea that we can, if we wish, engage in competition for wealth or other rewards. BUT.... it is idiotic for us to compete for bare survival when we can easily have a society - still capitalist - where the wealth created by that society ends up back in the society instead of in the pocket of one family and inherited down through succeeding generations that do nothing to earn it.

        Such great fortunes now hold over 90% of the wealth. And that just is plain ol' wrong. Wrong because that wealth was amassed by only a few people BUT it was created by a whole society. Wealth does not appear when there is no society to enable it to happen. Every person in a society makes some contribution to all the wealth of that society. Even if they produce nothing, the are consumers of goods and services. The money gained by the businesses that provide goods and services comes, in part, from those who only are able to consume but not produce.

        Too many people who call themselves "capitalists" seem to have forgotten that production is only one side of it. Production must be balanced by consumption in order for it to work. And if people are to play their role in the economic system, then they must have money to spend. That can only come from them receiving a fair and equitable share of the wealth created by the society.
        • Mar 19 2013: Oh, Now I'm really upset. ; -)

          The problem with the concept of Private Property is that it is prone to abuse by those with an ideology to peddle. What starts out as a healthy respect for other people and their physical and emotional security (which is here you seem to me to be) is then hyped up and twisted into an ideological tyranny by people who frankly don't seem to know any better. At that stage it becomes an instrument of psychological imprisonment - anyone who experiments with other system or style of thought is labelled as deviant and vilified.

          Nick Hanauer's "Banned" TED lecture brought out a whole load of comment on utube of this type and from that it appears to me that there is a lot of "mental illness" being caused in some of the "wealthier" nations by the lack of sensible social infrastructure and provision such as you suggest. I use quotes because we're getting into even more semantic problems here - there are different ways of measuring mental health and wealth. See Richard Wilkinson's TED for a more reasoned and fact-based position.

          "Here" is on a lilttle island in Europe where we spell realised with an s and we have to fit 60+ million of so people into a small space. Its not quite as crowded s Singapore but getting that way. Iv'e got to pop out and talk to some of them now,

          Regards,
          Alan
        • Mar 22 2013: What were the rules for Private Property when this country originally was founded? We did not discover what was already discovered. We used Locke's definition of "unfenced" land as being "available". We recognized the sovereignty of indigenous nations and broke every treaty. Western Lands were the only assets the federal gov't had (or just mint more money). Today they have mineral rights and airwaves, which belong to the people who empower the gov't. Eminent Domain is used to benefit private development. I am confused on the rules, so I do not know what is "within the rules". I am even confused on why people keep a piece of Earth upon dying, a burial plot that occupies real estate, vital resources in the form of a coffin, buried for no further use by future generations. We even rob the earth of our carbon, while polluting with embalmers.
          Philosophy has 1 goal: co-existence (peace). The Philosophy of Philosophy has 3 Principles: Conscious Conscience, Common Unity, and the Wisdom of Wisdom (the latter not applying to this conversation). Conscious (aware of) Conscience (my Soul). We are all different or unique, this makes us Common with all. In 2050, 9B people will be "fighting" for dwindling resources we have deemed as "necessities". It is Unity that is the necessity. I am not against private property, but we may have to rethink the definition of it (and redefine Corporation, too.) in order to pragmatically survive in coexistence. I am a Slave to Mankind therefor I Serve no Master. I am ruled not by Body Politic, but by Body Humanity. I am ruled by 7 Billion and counting.
          Philosopher David Suzuki studied a Tribe (name unknown to me) that made decisions by reflecting on the previous 7 generations and the affect on the 7 future generations to follow. Did we ever, or do we now, come close to matching this Philosophy? Will we need to think like this in regards to Property?
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        Mar 19 2013: I was OK until your comment implying that private property was... not good.
        So, I ask that if you are awake and refreshed that you could expend on that comment.
        And what is a sensible social infrastructure?
        Ideological tyranny also got me, one could only have a mind control ability to do that. Was it a metaphor I missed?
        I realise that England is geographically small area with many people sharing limited resources. Unlike America which is a vast land where you can go for hundreds of kilometers and not find enough people for a cricket match. Further, there are vast quantities of resources that Americans seem to waste. On the downside, American doesn't have an attractive royal family to appreciate, so I guess all is fair in it's own way.
        • Mar 19 2013: A sensible social infrastructure is what you get when you get a critical mass of ordinary people deciding to pool resources to build a set of ideas about how people should behave. The buy into this can be voluntary but is often more efficient to have compulsory participation. This is done in the open and has no particular psychosocial hazard.

          A stupid social infrastructure is when you get a group of billionaires sitting round in a room deciding how people should live, then constantly projecting that through advertising and media ownership over a period of several generations. If you are born into that environment you have no choice about buying in. Its only when you try to escape that you find out what's going on and the attendant hazards.

          People see a tendency in the US to veer unnaturally toward the second model.
        • Mar 19 2013: As for ideological tyranny, the clue is in the word ideology. An idea is the creative act, the temporary (or quite even permanent in some cases) construct of a free mind. An ideology is the promotion of an idea beyond its legitimate application or validity. This is happening in minds of people all over the world who understand the concept of Private Property but are too lazy, simple minded, brainwashed or otherwise unwilling to consider other ideas which, lets face, it are a damn sight closer to realities of life.

          I humbly suggest that you look at the output of Fox news, or any other news source of your choice - identify a subject, and count the number and type of adjectives used to describe different events. Is a bomber a "Freedom Fighter" or a Terrorist"? Do other reports on the same channel use similar terminology?

          A pattern will certainly emerge which reflect not any scientifically verifiable reality, or even fair comment. You ill, if you are objective, see a deliberate torrent of propaganda designed to instil fear of the alternative of whatever position the owners of the media support. "They" do it North Korea, the UK and, quite possibly, a Land of the Free somewhere near you.
        • Mar 20 2013: Mike,
          Sorry I missed your comment until now.

          Rest assured that you've read me wrong about private property. I am a STRONG advocate of private property. And that includes any amount of wealth that one can amass in his lifetime. You get it - it's yours. (Presuming you get it within the rules of your particular society.

          HOWEVER...... Once you die it isn't yours anymore. It came from your society - no individual standing entirely alone amasses wealth - and it must, for the sake of the society, return to the society.

          In order to keep all wealth from ending up in the hands of some damned government who 'administers' it on our behalf - communism - I want it to be passed down to the children of the society as a birthright inheritance. As PRIVATE property. When those children come of age and receive their birthright, it is theirs to do with as they please. If they want to use it to make more, they should be free to do that. If they prefer to study dance, or acting, or nuclear physics, or just piss it up against the wall, it's their choice.

          It is the responsibility of each generation to leave the world a better place for their children. Our present system only allows us to leave our own children better off in a shitty system. Our kids, if we can manage to leave them well off, will need to spend their lives protecting that wealth from predatory governments and the poverty stricken. Like a goldfish in a pool with sharks and barracuda.

          Let's take the idea of leaving a better WORLD a bit more seriously. Our own kids may not end up goldfish but they'll have a chance to do whatever they wish instead of being rent-a-slaves to predatory greed capitalism.
  • Mar 18 2013: I like most of Mike's recommendations, but one needs some rework. Pay of $100,000 is fine if you don't live in the District or in NYC. But these people have real costs in very expensive areas. I think a flat rate of perhaps $250,000 would be more appropriate.
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    Mar 18 2013: Not being a very good student of history myself, I have big gaps in understanding the critical junctures that made Capitalism a good idea in the past. Just another thing not taught in school. For me, in a nutshell,

    1. A growing merchant class in imperialist countries wanted feudal lords to relinquish some of their power, by convincing them philosophically that they stood to control most means of production anyway in a merchant-based economy and things like the Invisible Hand and meritocracy will be adequate explanations for the masses' own responsibility of their lots in life.

    2. The invention of America, the litmus for #1 proved true for a splashy, loud few. As well, freedom and democracy were concepts mixed with Capitalism as 'all good'.

    3. The most educated countries, also the colonialist countries saw their exploited working population decline and a middle class grow, giving the perception that things have worked out with Capitalsm.

    4. After the World Wars and with no real natural need to consume at the rate we do, Madison Ave execs invented advertising. To his day, we routinely see the polished aspirational end image or products we think we need and routinely ignore externalized costs of manufacturing them.

    5. Oh, and the invention of consumer credit--to perpetuate the perception that we can still afford all this.

    So, in total, most drawbacks of Capitalism have just been externalized outside of former imperialist countries --making it a going concern in the richest, loudest, most connected, -educated and -media savvy countries. We don't calculate the waste, the debt etc. The math remains that there is a finite amount of resources and a finite amount of money (?) and if some billionaires own most things, then some people, like you said, will necessarily have almost nothing.

    Though 2030 as the eradication date of poverty is reasonable--it's the year in which most of today's billionaires will have died, and their resources donated or redistributed.
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      Mar 18 2013: Just curious about something: How was this merchant class developing and growing if there was not some basic free marlet tendency already present?
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        Mar 18 2013: I think it's prevalent the world over, the tendency to buy, sell and profit. No dispute there.

        Maybe the merchants of those times were tired of lords favouring certain merchants over others (?) or making random restrictions. I'm sure the lords / kings' excuse would have been that if it were not for their say so on all matters, society would fall apart. That's when the argument for a 'natural law' of sorts, Invisible Hand etc. would have come in to change their minds. Backed by great thinkers and academics, perhaps this is how it got ushered in!
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          Mar 18 2013: I figure that the "advent of capitalism" was the first time someone decided to trade a rabit hide for a giant cluster of grapes or something of that nature. That it has always existed in one form or another even under the most serious communist governments, for those at the top, and those at the bottom through the black market. There is really no other system, except a central power saying: "Bring everything you earn to us and we will distribute it to all evenly". We may be headed to that today. It is the equal distribution of poverty.
        • Mar 19 2013: Oh come on James, thats really lazy.

          Trading rabbits for grapes is not capitalism in any shape or form, nor is international barter of ships for oil.. Capitalism is "An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit"

          Apart from Communism (which did, and does still work pretty well by the way) there are lots of other economic systems. New Guinea, Hundreds of thousands of tribal people all over the world have operated all over the world on non - Capitalist principles and even more remarkable on non-Technical principles. Most of these systems have outlived Capitalisms 200 year history by an order or two of magnitude. Co-operatives (yes, collective self interest but still not capitalism) operate many of the systems INSIDE capitalism.

          OK, I agree that many of these systems do not offer you Apple Pie in sufficient super abundance to support mass obesity - but that is not the point. The point is there are many viable and more sustainable alternatives. I've just named/ grouped several hundred. Must I go on?
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          Mar 19 2013: Alan: So, are you saying that capitalism did not exist until it was given that name? Come on Alan!
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    Mar 18 2013: G'day Luke

    I didn't read any of the other replies like I usually do but no not if it means destroying the very environment we depend upon for our survival to sustain consumerist materialism.

    Love
    Mathew
  • Mar 17 2013: Our present problems in the United States, so dramatically demonstrated by the state of our current Federal and State administrations, is that Capitalism, as it now exists, destroys Democracy. Without severe modifications in the way members of Congress and like institutions within each state, Democracy is doomed. Monies for campaigns should be governmentally controlled, and PACs and donations by wealthy individuals must become illegal. In short, we must make serving the public the actual goal of going to Congress.
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      Mar 17 2013: Larry and James, you have expressed the problems with current crony capitalism we face.

      Here are some of the solutions I can envision that would help bring it to an end, I have previously posted.


      > Cabinet level secretariats would be reduced to 7.
      > The 17th Amendment would be submitted for repeal.
      > Constitutional specific Federal responsibilities by law would be identified. All other Federal programs would submitted to Congress for reconsideration vote for continuation.
      > Federal laws concerning bribery would be applicable to members of congress and lobbyist to include campaign contributions, insider trading information, expensive gifts, or other tangible objects, any other
      activity that would give the impression of influence.
      > Cap Federal pay at $100,000 for all Federal employees including elected.
      > Submit new amendment for congressional terms, limit to two terms.
      > Replace current Federal tax law to a 10% flat tax on individual's income from any source.
      > Maintain current treaties and review commitments to foreign nations; withdraw from all foreign operating locations and refocus National Defense into a more defensive posture, address treaty commitments to air and naval power.
      > Refocus government involvement in commercial activities to role of compliance insurance.

      The goal would be to reduce the size of the Federal Government, break up the Washington Lobby Corps, keep the congress honest (what ever that means) and reinforce the basic concepts of the
      Constitution and leave more money in the hands of the people.
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        Mar 18 2013: Mike, I read your list a little earlier and meant to comment on it. I agree that those items would go a long way toward improvement.
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      Mar 18 2013: " Monies for campaigns should be governmentally controlled..." Larry, I might agree, but isn't that like putting the fox in charge of the hen house?
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    Mar 17 2013: I agree with those who say that the system has some serious problems, and there is corruption and corrupt individuals and corporations and banks taking advantage. But, before we dive headlong into mothballing capitalism, show me a system where this is not the case! What of that corruption? Well, prossecute the ones doing the corrupting! If you think that redistribution of an individuals wealth upon their passing is the thing to do, then approcach that legeslatively. Capitalism is sustainable. It may need modification, but it is sustainable. I have long felt that we needed a system rework, one that does not rely on specualtion and artificial value changes. Perhaps change along the lines of a combination of Milton Friedman (really Adam Smith) and John Nash game theory might help. Some capitalists and almost all socialists see economics as a zero sum game. We need to think more in terms of long term gains: What happens if we kill the goose that laid the golden egg (our planet)? What happens if we don't respect those with whom we deal, our employers, employees, partners, and competitors? At it's worst, capitalism as a system works better for personal freedom than any other system ever tried.

    If we chose to move to another economic system these are some things to ponder:

    Are we talking about a worldwide system?
    How do we get everyone on board?
    Will it be a slow political movement, or is force required?
    If force is required, who exercises that force?
    What changes in governance would be required?
  • Mar 17 2013: Steve,
    Attacking the Bilderberg group is senseless. They are capitalism. As such they do what is best, as they understand it, for the economic system of which they are part and parcel. We cannot expect them to do otherwise. We don't expect cops to do bookkeeping and we don't expect bookkeepers to arrest criminals. Why expect capitalists to act other than they do?

    We are the ones who need to get control our social system and cause it to make laws that restrain rampant capitalism and capitalists. So long as we fail in that duty then we may be sure that capitalists will use every means, fair and foul, to get and keep control of our social governing bodies and individuals and coerce/bribe them into adopting laws favourable to their business interests; something they've exhibited a high degree of ability to do so far.

    In the end we get the systems that we deserve. As long as we put our own personal interests and greed ahead of the wellbeing of of our society then we'll have to live with it as it is. Others better than us at doing this, have taken control. The society is now operating for their benefit - not ours. The tail is wagging the dog.
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    Mar 17 2013: Still, Larry, we seem to be talking about governance and not the economic system. I suppose the reason is that to change the economic system to a more sustainable system would require a change in the political system. Unfortunately, any system can be corrupted, even with these noble citizens with which you intend to opperate this new paradigm.

    I also fear that in typical American fasion, we have framed this conversation around the American system. Trying to be open minded, there is one thing that I know I need to do is to take a closer look at the Scandinavian systems to which so many have alluded.
  • Mar 17 2013: Larry I have been writing and talking about this for some time in how "we the people" have become nothing more than Cheerleaders, waiting for our elected officials and Talk Radio to tell us how to vote and what to do!!
    While what you suggest is very noble, and very sensible, you overlook one thing. As long as Money is THE power, those with the most Money will have the ultimate influence to keep this from happening. Many would say you are overreaching Governments' Power.
    What it will take is States agreeing to adopt a new way of operating, creating much Havoc at first. People will move and shift about, but it will be a gradual change taking roughly 20-30 years or more for full acceptance. But my prediction is Mother Nature will help expedite things, dealing us a heavy blow on our egos and all that we have come to know as "important". We will then be forced to make some changes!
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    Mar 17 2013: Okay, with respect to your theories Larry, I actually kind of like the idea, the thought that we could pass on the day to day decisions of governing to a hand full of randomly chosen citizens who some how, in that short period of time are able to comprehend the complexities of all things governmental. I suspect that given the right social modifacation programs and a thousand years or so of gentle, or perhaps not so gentle coaxing that this could come about. Of course, we have to find a way to convince those in control at this time to go along with this so that we can kick the whole thing off. Look at us, we have become the new social planners, we have suddenly become those people that we hate! We have become the ones in charge. I am not sure that I trust us.
    • Mar 17 2013: James,
      I have worked on this idea for over 40 years. You may believe me when I say that the method by which we can change from the present system to this (or any other suitable systems) has been a big and heartbreaking search.

      I say heartbreaking because whenever I get to the part where we all must expect to spend a few years serving our society, I get that blank look that says more clearly than words, "Not interested."

      Y'see sir, we've been led to believe that all this governing stuff is waaaay to complex for us mere citizens. OH YEAH? Then where the hell do our present governors come from? Is there another planet out there somewhere from which we recruit our government? Not bloody likely!

      And how much great experience does someone we presently elect to office have BEFORE he sits down in that chair for the first time? None. That's how much. He doesn't even get the one year of training that I propose.

      As to how to accomplish the changeover. This takes a book in itself. The people who have power now have it because we consent to them having it. Anytime we chose to withdraw that consent they will simply be unable to govern.

      We can, if we wish, go ahead and institute our system while ignoring the present crop of "leaders" whom we've allowed to obtain an unconscionable amount of power at our expense. Nothing in this world is so powerless as a leader whom people won't obey. And this applies to a group of leaders as well as to any individual leader.

      I expect that this would initially start with various communities doing it. Then some states. Start small and grow as people elsewhere get to see it in action. Those of us who would like to give this a try have to spread the idea around as best we can. All it takes is a few municipalities doing it to get it started. It should most appeal to those who are not registered members of any political party - the so-called undecided. People who have no personal stake in the systems that are operating in our present society.
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        Mar 17 2013: I do like the idea of people in power who are not there because they want to be. I really think that anyone who wants to rule should not be allowed to do so!
        • Mar 17 2013: James,

          B I N G O !!
        • Mar 17 2013: James,

          Please note that I've been very careful about using the word "rule". Our social managers are properly speaking our employees - not our rulers. Yeah, I know that it's worked out that they rule, but this is not proper. My concept does not place them in a MASTER'S position, merely a manager's chair.
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        Mar 17 2013: Good point Larry. We have a number of points of agreement.
        • Mar 17 2013: James,
          As you review these social and economic concepts you will discover many more objections. If you find problems that our present society also doesn't answer properly, then try not to judge my suggestions too harshly. If my concepts don't solve those problems then we are no worse off in that respect. And you are always free to formulate your own answers to those problems.

          I also make no pretensions that this kind of social order will bring about a utopia. It won't. But it might just be an acceptable step forward in our development as a people. We've got to design and develop something better than the mess we presently have at sometime. Why not begin on it now? If my suggestions are unacceptable then I hope that I have, at the very least, shown that we can think outside the present box we are in and postulate a different social order. Eventually the human race has to grow up and fly right. We can't do that with this present awful mess.

          Happy thinking! And thanks for an interesting and lively discussion. You made my day!
  • Mar 17 2013: Tom,
    Yes, yes, yes! The economic system is, of course, made up of its corporate and banking denizens who operate on the basis of economic rules. That the economic system - and/or any parts of it, operate at odds with the social well being of the citizens, is to be expected and is not at all improper. Just as it is the nature of fire to consume all burnable goods within its reach, so too is it the nature of uncontrolled capitalism and capitalists to consume everything within their reach.

    Social systems operate on different rules.

    Just as we make use of fire to serve our purposes by keeping it fully and completely under control, we can use capitalism as a tool to provide much benefit to our society. It is not an easy tool to constrain but unless we do that it will burn our butts big time.

    One terrible flaw in our present laws allows a corporation to "take the blame" for the decisions and actions of its managers. The managers walk off scott free. The corporation gets fined. Well whoop-de-do! Be still my heart! Does anyone think that the corporation that gets fined won't just raise the prices of its goods and recover that lost money? Isn't that a fine howdy-do? The corporation breaks the rules, gets caught, goes to court, gets found guilty, and WE pay the penalty! Sweet set-up that!

    What's needed is social laws that have teeth. A corporation breaks the rules and gets caught, ALL members of the board of directors should get penalized and are removed from ever having any management function with that or any other corporation, company, or bank for the rest of their lives. Since the economic system does not penalize decisions to operate illegally, (not its job), it is up to the social system to do so. It is the job of the social system to formulate the laws and to enforce them.

    Our present social system is so weak that it has been overrun by the economic system. We, the people have even adopted the dog-eat-dog ethics of economics as our social ethic. What a shame
  • Mar 17 2013: Darn it, I thought my moment had finally come. But I am serious and respectful, its a good question and I think I have a good answer so bear with me:

    With respect, there are very many alternatives to the Dollar. Beyond National Currencies, there are local variations and quite different principles like Bitcoin. You are using the word in a generic way meaning a money system in general, I guess, but again there are many different styles of Capitalism working all over the world and some do better than others in terms of how they provide public and private goods for the people.

    Technically Capitalism has only existed since the end of Feudalism in Europe - it superseded the Native Indian systems in the US but since then you have always had it.

    Alternative systems like Co-Operatives are phenomenally successful all over the world - (many of the classic "Capitalist" systems you use every day in the high street are actually co-operatives - VISA for example) and these ways of combining effort to achieve a good output have proven to be financially sustainable. There are actually 20% more people employed in Co-Ops worldwide than in Multinationals! Check out the Co-operative sector for yourself - http://www.uk.coop/worldwide

    So there is actually no reason to be scared about losing the control the Dollar appears to provide. We can get around that with more information and different ways of organising, its very easy in the scheme of things. The real reason to be scared is the gross impact we all have on the planet through over-consuming lifestyles. Check out the Ecological Footprint. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_basics_overview/ I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
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    Mar 17 2013: Lots of discussion in the last days, but the Anticapitalist choice for "WHO" is still unresolved.
    OK, lets make it simple. "WHO" is not a dictator, but the elected president of his nation. And we'll use the USA as typical construct for nation. I know, but play along.
    So, there is an election in 2016 for president. Assuming the current president doesn't run, funny that is even discussed, but we will be looking at least two major considerations, maybe more.

    Since I am a free marketer and for your consideration, this is the platform I could vote for, in no order:

    > Cabinet level secretariats would be reduced to 7.
    > The 17th Amendment would be submitted for repeal.
    > Constitutional specific Federal responsibilities by law would be identified. All other Federal programs would submitted to Congress for reconsideration vote for continuation.
    > Federal laws concerning bribery would be applicable to members of congress and lobbyist to include campaign contributions, insider trading information, expensive gifts, or other tangible objects, any other
    activity that would give the impression of influence.
    > Cap Federal pay at $100,000 for all Federal employees including elected.
    > Submit new amendment for congressional terms, limit to two terms.
    > Replace current Federal tax law to a 10% flat tax on individual's income from any source.
    > Maintain current treaties and review commitments to foreign nations; withdraw from all foreign operating locations and refocus National Defense into a more defensive posture, address treaty commitments to air and naval power.
    > Refocus government involvement in commercial activities to role of compliance insurance.
    >
    >
    More to list... But I think you see my platform, could I count on your support to be your dictator, I mean president?
  • Mar 17 2013: Kevin,
    You haven't quite assimilated much of the implications of "my" system. There would be no political consultants. Neither would there be lobbyists. All that would disappear when the competition for management positions disappeared, along with politicians and political parties.

    If you look carefully at all of our "problems" as a society, you will find that about 95% of them are created by our politicians and those who control them. Eliminate politics entirely and that 5% of problems that are left will be legitimate social problems that can be worked out by our society and its managers.

    Keep in mind that those managers whom our lottery puts in place will have the sole occupation of solving those problems and managing the society effectively. They will no longer act like elected reps and spend most of their efforts seeking their own advantage as career politicians.

    Keep in mind also that the form of capitalism (Citizens' Capitalism) that I propose to go with this social system will remove much of the fear that leads to, and supports, greed. That itself will reduce the possibility of corruption of social managers by the economic movers and shakers.

    We, the people will be our own governors - not some doofus selected for us by political parties - and as our own governors, we'll not likely be interested in passing laws that benefit only the financial elite.

    What I'm looking at here is how we establish the ultimate form of social management. You will know it as, "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." This is very different from what we have now which is, "Government by representatives who are corrupted by special interests, that is passed off on us as self government but which is nowhere near that."

    Try to stop thinking that we need a "leader' or a "master" to guide us. We don't. And those whom we presently select are as human as you and I and every other person. They are not endowed with any great wisdom or ability that we don't have!
  • Mar 17 2013: Yes, though things like equal opportunities are harder to enforce in smaller companies it is well recognised that they provide a lot of value to the economy. Trouble is, larger companies have economies of scale and can out-price, buy out smaller competitors, or in retail the larger companies push the rents up and so forth.

    Capitalism always tends toward a monopoly situation (not always a bad thing - it can bring price right down - the current State Health Monopoly in the UK is actually whole-system cheaper than any private sector challenger. Were it privately owned, we would to be paying US levels of insurance, ie nearly twice what we do now.)

    One way to tackle this problem of tendency to monopoly might be progressive taxation on bigger turnover to level the playing field, so a $1,000,000 operation would pay 10%, a $50,000,000 would pay 20% and so on. This would force fragmentation and open up things to more competition ( counter intuitively it may reduce costs/increase profit for the operations themselves) Of course larger corporations can threaten to leave the country, (standard reaction to any threat to profits), and as from abroad they can export back into your market ruining everyone's good work. So we are faced with the same old paradox - to encourage local free trade you actually need regulation and import tariffs!

    There is a lot of talk about international free trade - but it actually means free licence to supranational corporations to stitch us up, it has nothing to do with what you and I mean by the term. I'm in favour of local regulation aimed at generating local economies appropriate to local conditions - this happened automatically before mass communications when most production was local but would now have to be carefully and deliberately encouraged. Production in the future will always have to be done with ecological benefits built in, this is new too, and is a result of expanding populations wanting better welfare.
  • Mar 17 2013: Tyler,
    The people selected by lot for various positions will not be some kind of dictators, y'know. They'll be part of our society and will have to work with other managers and workers involved in the work of managing society. Part of a group. One thing I'd suggest is that we select our next crop of managers a year ahead of time and sit them beside the present managers for a year. That way they'd learn the job from the inside and not be taking over cold when their time came. Then they'd have a year of being on their own followed by a year of teaching the next citizen just as they were taught themselves. I'd think it hard for them to get away with any nonsense in those circumstances. I admit that it might happen but again compare the rare time when some doofus tried to do it wrong with our present situation where they all are corrupt and always do it wrong!
    • Mar 17 2013: Ok, I like that. Now I'm mad that we don't have that! I really can't find another big hole in it. I wonder if something close to this has been tried? doubtful. Anyways, thank you for the very interesting convo, but now I have to get back to working on my thesis! Thanks again!
      • Mar 17 2013: You will find many holes in it in the days to come as you think it over. I've been thinking about this for over 40 years and still find holes in it occasionally. But when you do, just ask yourself,"If I were designing it how would I solve that problem?" You'll be amazed at how easy it is to find ways to solve all the problems. And keep in mind that there are many very bright people out there who could be involved in designing this system or one that could do the same job for our society. We just need to keep on challenging people to get involved in the design of a workable system to carry our society on into the future. Ours has run its course and is dying in agony and disruption. We can no longer just let a system spring up by itself. We need to design the next one
        using the knowledge we have of this one and all previous ones. We can do it. We must do it - or die. ;-)
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    Mar 16 2013: The best system is one which allows the people to achieve their personal potential, while championing human dignity. In the words of Deng Xiaoping, "It doesn't matter whether it is a good cat or a black cat, a cat that catches mice is a good cat". If communism proved itself to better humanity I would happily see a communist world.
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      Mar 17 2013: Agreed, at least in theory, although conversion from capitalism to some other system, or forced redistribution of wealth probably has more in common with Mao and his definition of where power comes from!
    • Mar 17 2013: Ok, I'm still trying to think about that. What do you mean by human dignity? What about saying....Justice is the most important law and it's absolute, and that mercy is encouraged but we can't force it? This is basically straight frederick bastiat and I'm not even sure if I LIKE the way that's phrased or if I completely understand it.
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        Mar 17 2013: Spare me your banalities.
        Neither bore me nor try to seduce me with your benevolent insolence.
        • Mar 17 2013: Seriously, "Banalities, Insolence"? I would have liked an answer as well! This is not the forum to not be ready to go in depth with what you think.
          The Cat, by nature will hunt the mice. If hungry it will eat its head. The cat does not ask for money in return. "It doesn't matter whether it is a good cat or a black cat, a cat that catches mice is a good cat" If in fact the mice is 'deemed' "Good", then it does matter. By mere association, does not make every Chines person profound.
  • Mar 16 2013: Tyler,
    I'm 72 and been around the political block more times than you can imagine. It all sucks. The whole concept is wrong. It is, as I'm sure you know already, so prone to corruption that is simply doesn't do what we, the people want it to do. Not ever. I can't do that because it's not designed for that. We want a democracy and our system is designed for a republic. In a nutshell, a screwdriver can't do the job of a table saw.

    There is only one way to have the country run as we want it to be run. It is the one way that those people who just love having the power to tell others what to do have tried to avoid us coming up with for centuries.

    Do you remember hearing of the old adage that goes - "If you want a thing done right, you have to do it yourself"?

    Well that's it. Until and unless 'we, the people' are ready and willing to do it ourselves, we'll keep on putting it in the hands of others. Those others will keep on abusing that power so as to keep on having that power. And guess who is always going to get the shitty end of the stick in that case?

    Consider how you'd like it if there were no political parties or politicians. Suppose we dumped them all and chose our social managers, by lottery, from among all the adult, mentally competent, no-criminal population? Put them in social management positions for ONE TERM ONLY. No elections and no re-elections means no career politicians. Just ordinary, honest, decent folks taking care of business in an ordinary, honest decent way on behalf of their society and its people.

    Now Mr. Average Joe Lunchpail might not be as clever as those politicians but which would you rather have in management, a decent regular citizen or a clever crook?

    Now don't just mumble, "Couldn't work", because it damned well could work. And it could work because everybody would make it work. Think how much better off we'd all be if a few assholes couldn't get us into foreign wars, just to start with. I'm out of space but think about it!
    • Mar 17 2013: All right, I like where you're going with this and I promise I won't mumble anything like that! I especially like the idea of term limits and eliminating the career politician. My only concern with the guy who got drawn out of the hat is accountability and making sure that he answers to most of us. How would you address that? I agree with you on the foreign wars too. Every time I hear politicos talking about their justification for their various boondogles it drives me nuts.

      Ok, here's another idea that I like: The government closest to you should be the government with the most power (talking about state, city, federal here) What if we said that individual cities got a lot more lee way in deciding how things got done? That way my vote and your vote matter a whole lot more, it's easier to have a face to face with people in charge and we could have more diversity of governments and allow more people to decide how THEY wanted to live. Thoughts?
      • Mar 17 2013: Tyler,
        This is an example of how hard it is to think with new concepts. Even though we've discussed getting rid of elections you're still asking me what I think of a way that you suggest would "make our votes count a whole lot more."

        In "my" society, there'd be no voting. Management of our society would automatically be more oriented to the local scene because our - lottery chosen - managers would be local!

        This system would break the traditional pyramid of power that exists today as it has done all down through history. Can you understand that it is not because men of evil intent have been in power that things didn't go well, it is because that pyramid of power creates situations that turn ordinary people into predatory monsters when it corrupts them with power.

        That is why I insist on one term in management only. Not long enough to get corrupted. We've got to deal with human beings as they are and they sure aren't angels. We are all of us susceptible to being corrupted. We have to recognize our shortcomings and design our system so that those weaknesses are taken into consideration and prevented from harming us or our fellow members of society.
        • Mar 17 2013: Larry, Ok that clicks now. I agree with you on most of this stuff now, especially the point on corruption and how it's something common to all of us, That definitely turned on the light.

          Now my only concern is, and maybe I'm just not getting it yet, how would you make the local leader accountable to me and you? Or for example, I'm pretty out there and I'm sure most people wouldn't agree with my way of thinking on things. So if a guy like me got drawn, I might tick everybody off? What about drawing more than one? That way if you got a crazy like me, the other 2 or so people in the executive position could at least keep me from doing anything...tooo obnoxious?
        • Mar 17 2013: For me this thread conjures the notion of the tragedy of the commons. Smith's invisible hand is at odds with the greater good. Look at the public outcry against large companies offshoring their profits to minimize the taxes they pay in the US. Is it fair that GE only pays only a couple percent in income taxes on the billions they post in earnings every year, while middle class taxpayers pay 20-30% or more? Well, no. But do these same taxpayers own stocks in mutual funds and in their 401k plans, that include companies like GE who are doing the same thing? Well, yes - bluechippers rule! Well, which do you want? nice returns in your portfolio, or equitable taxation arrangements?

          Living here in California we're taxed to death. And with our proximity to Mexico there are a lot of immigrants working here illegally. Whenever the media gets ahold of a story about an undocumented worker sending their kid to public schools, using medicare, or collecting other publicly subsidized benefits there is a huge outcry. But we sure do like a nice $6 bottle of merlot. So - which do you want?

          With American-style capitalism, the corporation with the rights of an individual is acting rationally, in its own self-interest, at the expense of the society within which it exists. Tragedy of the commons. And unlike the old days, there isn't even anyone to send to jail, or otherwise hold accountable, when things go pear shaped.
  • Mar 16 2013: I say there is NO "true" Capitalism. Anne Rynd was a novelist, i enjoyed the bit about the guy diving into the pool, but her philosophy is fictional. There is ALWAYS corruption of the market when you have a market with rich players, its impossible to avoid . Look around you. Who regulates banks? Bankers. Who regulates the Nuclear Industry. Nuclear Engineers. There is little or no room for Democracy in Government because advanced technical systems demand a high degree of expertise to understand.

    So we agree that Capitalism US style is not a Free Market? (Careful - If you do agree I'm going to ask you for an example of a free market economy....)

    I'm sorry, but the world sees the US as a Capitalist country, there is no way I can personally agree that it is not, though I do know what you are trying to say. I also recognise the profit motive as a driver in a market system, but it is just one of many motivators and should not be given undue weight.
    • Mar 17 2013: haha, ok, I'm not sure what I think of Ayn rand specifically, but putting that aside. I would agree with you that there is no true capitalism as in a free market. And I agree that I can't give you an example of a pure free market. I admit my ideas are fairly rare and not enough people agree with me for us to have an example worth talking about. I agree that the world does see us as capitalists and we've done very little to make them impressed with capitalism, altough we are a very strong nation in many respects despite our stupidity. I also agree that there is more to the economic world than the profit motive. I said earlier that a true capitalist is the one who works hard to achieve his dream with his own resources, I didn't mean to imply that those dreams were all monetary. For example I dream about starting a non profit school, but I don't want to force other people to help me do it

      I also agree there's a lot of corruption and capitalism (even the kind that i want) has problems. But then again most governments are. What do you think about establishing a more...I'm not sure how to put this...effective court system where people who have been wronged can receive justice?

      I didn't mean to imply that I want to throw out the book of regulations (it's actually a pile), We need a lot for sure, I would just like to see them become easier to understand so that one man businesses and lay people can follow them. I know that's not possible in every sense but would you agree we could simplify things? I believe that would give smaller outfits a fighting chance to compete
  • Mar 16 2013: Very difficult in practice - but I see your point. I cant see the sense of using monetary standards as per the World Bank as 2 dollars can mean a lot in one country and nothing in another, so that is not very absolute, unless it were normalised to kilos of rice per body weight or something. My idea of an indicator of absolute poverty would be softer but a little more more rational (?):

    "Poverty - the lack of access to enough resources to maintain a human being in good mental and physical health."

    Lack of access - If someone chooses to starve or live on cookies, then they may not be be poor, but if they don't have access to the right information to know that cookies are a poor diet, then they would be poor .

    But even then we are stuck with the problem of context. Good mental and physical health in 1600 would likely be pretty poor health today, (using longevity as a proxy), so my absolute standard is not very absolute either. Also these days we have to contend with a barrage of advertising designed to subtly tell us cookies are good, so even if we have access to the contrary information, we can still be pushed into a poor diet.

    Yes, poorer people can be unhappy. Happiness is not related to income in a linear relationship - both poorer and wealthier people suffer more mental health problems than the middle incomes do. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/178/3/222.full.pdf and http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html
  • Mar 16 2013: James,
    We do. All of us. Our present political system is a failure. We need to replace that too, I'm afraid. As long as we use a political system where candidates need huge sums of money for campaign expenses, then those candidates can - and will be - bought. As we see now with every political party of any major influence.

    I'd prefer to see us select our social managers by lottery instead of by election. Elections may work OK in small areas where everybody knows everybody, but once they get of the size where few know the candidates then an election is really just an ad campaign competition. The one who spends the most money usually - not always - but usually wins. Not good. Those who win are beholden to those who put up the money. At that point they no longer represent we, the people, but instead represent those whose interests are not ours. Often those interests are directly opposite ours. I can't imagine how we think this is good governing. Or ever can be. It's time to take management of our society out of the hands of politicians and bring it home to we, the people. Yes, my friend, we have to do it ourselves. We just cannot afford to have our society governed by those whose interests are inimical to us.

    But this is a whole new topic now. Perhaps this is not the place for it.
    • Mar 16 2013: You're treating the symptom not the cause. The problem isn't that money buys elections, it's WHY does money buy elections? Because voters allow it. People who can vote, don't. People who do vote don't get involved enough or pay enough attention or they vote by "team." People don't go to conventions and get involved with picking candidates. That's the real problem. Treat the cause, not the symptom.
      • Mar 16 2013: Tyler,
        What you say is true about people not getting involved enough to make an electoral system work but that is still just a symptom. In real politics the political parties determine who people will get to vote for. All the hype and smoke & mirrors of political conventions are just circuses designed to keep the masses thinking that they still have some choices. I'll turn it back on you..... get involved. You'll see, as most of us have already done, that your ideas of political matters are naive at best. Politics is just another business, and in business money talks and bullshit baffles brains.

        As to your youthful admonition to "Treat the cause not the symptom", why do you say I should do that; why don't YOU do that? And just what 'treatment' would you, in your vast wisdom, suggest?
        • Mar 16 2013: Fair points and a fair challenge! I am involved especially at the local level and participated vocally at conventions. Now I did get voted down and my views aren't as popular with others in my party but I'm not giving up on it. I assume that you also are involved?

          Haha, ok, I won't claim any VAST wisdom but my first thought is that we need more people involved and we need a better way of facilitating the conversation, particularly at the stage where candidates get picked as "front runners" also, I hate the 2 party system and I'm straining to find a way around that, any thoughts? So far what I've got is for lack of a better term, revenue sharing among candidates. I don't know if I like this idea or not or even if it would work. Another thing that might be interesting is the use of tech to bring candidates closer to us in a sense. An official government forum or online public square and limit the amount of money that can be spent elsewhere. These ideas aren't great I know and they are just compromises but still I'm interested in your view?
        • Mar 17 2013: Larry,
          I believe a lot of the things that you say especially about politics being a business and the candidate with the most money winning. My question on your lottery system is: Wouldn't this system give even more power to political consultants? The people running the show would have 1 year internship. That is not near enough time to figure out the solutions necessary, as we've shown with term limits. Although I thought these were a good idea and voted for them I have come to the conclusion that they benefit lobbyists who can convince inexperienced "leaders" to do what they want because of lack of experience. I see this as a major problem in your system. (Not that I think our system or legal bribery I.e. campaign contributions is any better).
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      Mar 16 2013: Larry, we started on the issue of redistributing the wealthof the deceased, and have ended up in a new topic concerning politics. My point with the questions: "Who do I make my will out to/" "How do we convince others to do this? If they cannot be convinced, can we force them?" Was to get to the point of saying that iany serious and timely change to our system of economics would require a change in some part of governing, and the problem with it is that someone has to be in charge, and when someone is in charge of redistributing our wealth, the real problems begin. The problem with any revolution, peacefull or otherwise seems to be that it puts the same sort of person back at the top. To quote Robert Frost: "Revolutions may be the only salves, but they are somting that should be done in halves." or better, The Who "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!"
      • Mar 17 2013: James, You are correct of course. The problem, as I see it, is that no matter what form our governing bodies have taken, no matter what their supposed philosophy of governing is, they are all designed to fit into the same basic structure of social management. This structure resembles a pyramid in its shape. A few at the top run the show. They are supported enthusiastically by the tier under them because it too is very high up in the pyramid of power. And so on down the pile.

        I'd like to see us develop a horizontally organized form of social management. One where citizens are selected by lot to fill management seats for one term of about 3 years. No repeats.

        No elections where our choices are limited to those who take their orders from those who provide them with the financial means to run for office. No career politicians who need funds to keep getting elected. Citizens, chosen by lot to sit in those seats for one term will have none of the corrupt baggage that politicians carry around. Chosen by lot ensures that all demographics are fairly represented.

        You misunderstand me re the redistribution of wealth. Any person of wealth will still have it until he dies. Just as in our present system. After he dies people will inherit it - just as in our system. The only difference is that it won't go only to his own progeny - it'll be part of a generational birthright inheritance of all children born into the society.

        Since that wealth was derived from that society it ought to return to that society. This is not only fair and equitable, it is NECESSARY if capitalism is to perform its job of being a useful tool of society. Our present society is grinding to a halt due to so much of the wealth just sitting there. It is owned by a small percentage of the society who CAN'T keep it moving enough to make our form of capitalism work properly. Remember capitalism only works well when the wealth keeps moving.
  • Mar 16 2013: The question is framed incorrectly. You have to define capitalism first and then ask if it is sustainable. Then you have to realize that there is an element of relativity inherent to the question, is there something more sustainable than capitalism? Can it scale? And how do we define sustainable?

    Here's my concern with these type of arguments. There is a lot of knee jerk reactions here with a lot of emotion and not enough reason involved in the discussion.

    I define capitalism as the right to work as hard as I can to achieve my goals but not forcing other people to pay for my goals. In other words, I can build my own house but I can not make my neighbor help me. And if I, in the state of nature, can not force my neighbor to help me then I can't go get the government to force him for me. By this definition, America is not capitalist by fault of both parties for different reasons (Cronyism can work for many classes and both parties).

    I see no reasonable alternative to true free markets that would work better.

    Frankly, my dream is to live in a society where I am free to work as hard as I can and not have the government steal from my hard work and not tell me or anyone else how to live. Our current problem is that the government inserts it's self into the situation and protects people by giving them my money, Both the very rich (and typically Failing) corporation and the very poor who are taking a free ride.

    We don't solve this problem by having MORE government intervention, we will solve this problem by treating the cause, not the symptom. Get government out of our wallets, weed, bedroom, and business, etc.
    • Mar 17 2013: I think you're mixing the notion of Capitalism with what you believe the goals of society should be. Capitalism is an economic construct (roughly that those who invest wealth in an enterprise should own the profits, but that's a bit simplistic). What you're talking about is mostly political philosophy not economic.
      • Mar 17 2013: Capitalism is a political construct, maintained by specific accounting and regulation procedures. It is extremely inefficient economically.
  • Mar 16 2013: Tyler,
    Greed got ya by the short and curlies, huh? When you mature as a person you'll learn better. Until then try to maintain some cool.
    • Mar 16 2013: I didn't mean to come off as...uncool? I'm serious about this. I want to live in a free society both economically and socially. I don't think it's greed. I live within my means, and I really don't need a lot. Even if I made a million or more a year I probably would live about the same. I just don't see a legitimate reason for forcing someone to do what I want them to do, whether that's being more charitable or throwing them in jail for smoking pot. I want to see the government leave us alone as much as possible. I really do mean to have a cool discussion because I am fairly concerned about this.
  • Mar 16 2013: James,
    Think about the social order that I'm proposing. Everyone will inherit a fair bit of wealth. Enough, actually to allow them to live off the earnings of their shares, if they live modestly. What need would such people have to incur great debt?

    But, for the sake of argument, let's assume that some do build up huge debt and then die. Ask yourself how that is handled now? Your debts do not fall on your children's heads nor on the society. That is what lenders have insurance for - if they're wise. That risk is supposedly why it is legitimate for lenders to get paid interest on loans. I see no need for any different method of handling the debts of a deceased person, do you?
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      Mar 16 2013: No, not really, and I do understand that a society so structured would not aquire huge debt, or huge wealth, if people in that society were perfect and all as altuistic as us. How do we convince others to do this? If they cannot be convinced, can we force them?
      • Mar 16 2013: Now you're getting into the social system. I think it behoves us to forsake "forcing" them if it in any way violates their person. Societies since time began have had ways of getting the majority of members to conform to certain, socially desired, behaviour. Often it is just a matter of raising children in a manner that leads them to naturally see the benefits of being a part of their social system.

        One thing that would work well for us is that we will soon be doing away with cash money. All transactions will be by electronic means in the near future. This would allow of control of wealth transfer, no matter what form it takes.

        Getting it started is much more difficult than operating it once it is in place. My preference for initiating it is simply for people who like the idea to form groups and do it within the group. As its obvious benefits become apparent to others those groups will expand and grow until the majority of the population is involved.

        The biggest difficulty that I have with advancing this idea among others is that people are so damned impatient. They want an equitable and fair system NOW! Seldom are they willing to work towards one that won't be fully up and operating for generations. That is too bad for us because other societies - notably the Chinese and Indian societies - are made up of people who DO plan in terms of generations.

        It's time for us to begin planning our social order; designing it to serve us well, instead of just letting predatory capitalism - the American kind - have its way with us.
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          Mar 16 2013: Larry, that is where I see the problem. Aside from living an example, educating our own families, speaking out when we can, (and that is a good deal we can do) there is little that can be done to change a system of this type, or replace it without using force, political and or martial. Then we move into areas I think all of us would agree, did not work when tried in the past and are undesirable for the present or future. Who oversees this great change?
  • Mar 16 2013: Maybe eradication of poverty can be achieved simply through a culture of respect?

    The ability of a person to survive material or spiritual deprivation should be accorded respect just as financial acumen or artistic ability is respected. Therefore we should hire poor people to show us how to do without just as we hire accountants to keep us rich and musicians to entertain us.
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      Mar 16 2013: Nice thought, I am sure Mike would agree, so, who do we make our will out to?

      (this comment was made to a statement about redistributing wealth upon death.)
      • Mar 16 2013: James,
        A will in "my" society would only be for personal things. Wealth in all forms - at present great wealth is not kept in monetary form but in shares of companies - would go into the common pool from which all children would receive a birthright inheritance.

        There are details to be worked out by common consent, about such things as a family home or heirlooms passed down from generation to generation in families, but this is just trivial logistics. All societies already have done this, it would be no difficult thing for this one to do so also.

        On a personal note, I have done rather well in this society. I will be leaving my home to my community for it to be used as an emergency shelter for folks who need it - i.e. a family who has lost its home to fire or other disaster.

        My other wealth will be left, in equal parts, to all the children in my small community who were born during the year previous to my death. That is my way, in the present society, of returning to my society the wealth that I derived from it.

        I grant that this is nothing more than a gesture on my part but what else can I do?
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          Mar 16 2013: Sounds noble Larry. Some, without any form of compulsion do just that. What of the ones who die with a tremendous burden of debt? To whom will that be passed?
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    Mar 16 2013: There is a lot of comment on the invalidity of Capitalism as an economic process. I have maintain that is has been going on since mankind formed villages and decided to barter their "capital" for items needed. A simple system that also began as the basis of law and civilization. In the last 12,000 years or so, we've come a pretty long way in the civilization department. In the process, some of mankind's baser instincts such as greed and avarice have raised their ugly heads. But, in the conduct of business, mankind has instituted laws that prohibit false or harmful activities to be perpetrated. I have no problems punishing those that do evil things. Unfortunately, there are prosecutors in the USA that don't hold my convictions. Oh Well.
    But the more scary thing to me is the number of TED respondents That think there is nothing better then to take control of this system and give the power of the dollar to.... and that's where it gets fuzzy. To someone who will use it to provide for the poor or the poverty or the.... And that 's what scares me. The undefined "WHO" All through history there have been a number of "WHO"s that were going to take from the rich and give to the poor... sound familiar. I can think of a dozen of past and current dictators in central and South America.
    So for all of you that have some "WHO" in mind, please tell.
    • Mar 17 2013: Hi Mike,

      Here I am! Quite happy to take over control of the world - why do you ask?

      Alan
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        Mar 17 2013: You seem to have a lack of respect. So, you don't get my vote. Nothing personal.
  • Mar 16 2013: Does capitalism require the importation of goods and services? Well then I believe you have your answer. Here's what capitalism does without most of us ever realizing it. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=u-o-w_dcoCQ
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    Mar 16 2013: Re: " What happens to civilization when nobody is willing to work in the factories and orchards, or build roads?"

    Poverty is when there are no factories, orchards, or roads.
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      Mar 16 2013: we have been there. 100000 years ago, we had none of these. we had, on the other hand, life standards unimaginably low, average lifetime of 20 years, child survival way below 50%, regular famines and constant violence.
    • Mar 16 2013: "we have been there. 100000 years ago, we had none of these. we had, on the other hand, life standards unimaginably low, average lifetime of 20 years, child survival way below 50%, regular famines and constant violence."

      Very subjective take. The people of that time lived in "normal conditions for the time", just as we do. The tangible, objective evidence is that humankind was able to survive the most incredible problems and conditions for the following 990,000 years before getting into Agriculture. maybe a 25 year lifespan was even an evolutionary advantage. (Things were clearly not so bad, cheer up old man!!) ;-)
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        Mar 16 2013: My point may not have been as clear as it could have been.
        We need to define poverty for the sake of the discussion. We think of poverty in America but here we do not experience the kinds of primitive conditions we see is other places in the world. We define the poor in America in terms of the hungry. We do not experience major starvation like in some place.
        • Mar 16 2013: Your point was really sound and very clear - poverty being the lack of a good environment and infrastructure. (Orchards come first with me, then internet; roads and factories are way down the list!) Hunger in some parts of the world is often due to the lack of political stability - people are amazingly good at planting orchards when they aren't getting shot at or otherwise being displaced by some more "wealthy" party.
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        Mar 16 2013: "for the time" is subjective. average lifespan being 20 years is objective.
        • Mar 16 2013: I'm very unsure about that approach to objectivity. Things have to be measured in context to be meaningful. the lack of Washing Machines in the Stone Age does not indicate poverty in my book. I could be convinced otherwise, but at the moment i think my point stands.

          At the time it was maybe a really good, joyful experience (as well as sometimes painful one) during that 20 years - all that stuff about life being nasty, brutish and short is a totally unfair (and subjective) projection backwards from 2013. Catching a fish with a sharp stick was probably a really good, happy moment in some caveman's life, and he probably went to sleep with a full belly dreaming of a nice comfortable future sometime in the far future in the 21st century. I doubt very very much that happiness was invented along with agriculture, but how can we measure that objectively?

          Just for fun, google "Happiness + Shakespeare" and "Sadness+Shakespeare" and the results score is c.8 million to 2 million in favour of happiness! But "Happiness + Nowadays" only returned 7 million! We really don't want to know what "Sadness + Nowadays" returned. No! don't ask!

          If you can fashion an axe out of flint the I'll be really impressed with your wealth of intelligence...but look down on your own ancestors from a comfortable technical platform I'll scorn you for your poverty of imagination! Well, they can't have been so bad we you came out of the end of the pipe, can they?

          I'm playing here - but seriously, we should question the idea that Poverty is a lack of anything - in sufficiently reduced circumstances even 1 loaf of bread will represent wealth. I think we should define it in psychological terms. Maybe Stone Age Man had less psychological poverty, for example. Lack of longevity, or poor Nutrition or even being at War with the next tribe is not the whole definition of poverty, though from where we sit we can surely agree they go a long way towards it
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        Mar 16 2013: it is a valid argument that you don't lack what you don't know about. i don't think that it is true, but i would accept it as a valid argument. however, there are many many joys in life that our ancient ancestors could very very well comprehend, but they lacked. like for example their children not dying. or always having enough food. or not suffering the cold. i don't think that anyone today would choose their life.

        i think you got it wrong. the definition of poverty should be absolute, just like the definition of being malnourished. it is entirely different that some government office declares an income as poverty line. it should not happen. the definition of happiness is not strictly dependent on poverty / wealth, though it has a very definite relation, especially in the low end.
  • Mar 15 2013: We have never had a democratic subject willing attempt at anything. Don't fall into the trap of blaming individuals. Imagine being offered the equivalent of a lottery win as a bonus every year for just doing your job. That is what happened with the bankers, you can't blame them for taking the money.
    We need to have a complete rethink about how we lead our lives and for what purpose.
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      Mar 15 2013: Then you must agree that it is human nature that is flawed, that is if given temptation all individuals will fold. Granted, the whole system needs a rethink.
  • Mar 15 2013: Ms Donovan, respectfully, I was off-topic to begin.
    Commentaries I read, pulled that blurb out, I think.
    "Would the world keep running without capitalistic incentives that increase the separation between rich and poor?"
    Yes, in spite of the bourgeoisie or the lower echelon people. Workers or non-workers. My presumption being; any given group of people, when faced by a common or uncommon need will do what they must to make it happen(survive). Be it cave dwellers or Marxist kingpins, social value goes out the window when you get right down to it. One may lay and starve or adapt by whatever means, and "oddly" some form of capitalism is usually involved in such evolution of fulfilling need. It "seems" as a society evolves, man's ego does as well, and thus begins the groundwork for social-strata, association, assimilaton and other inate and learned behaviors. I hope I haven't missed the point
  • Mar 15 2013: Joanne,
    A chimp is aware of comfort and leisure the difference is it doesn't get charged for it. Why do you think the lottery is so popular, folk dreaming of what they could do with their winnings.
    Exploitation or taking advantage of a person/situation is deemed as fairplay in our current system. Being ripped off is a norm in the UK. The banks, insurance companies, supermarkets, mobile phone and energy companies are all doing their upmost to take as much as they can from us without any notion of quality, value or respect, even our politicians only take notice when an election is looming.
    With all the new technology now at our disposal we can be mugged in the comfort of our homes.
    Despite the fact that "I'm ok" I find it depressing that we can't find a better way of doing things.
    I'm not looking forward to being looked after in retirement homes were minimal standards are the norm all in the name of profit.
    "sad testiment to the propaganda fed to you by the control group in your own society"
    That could apply to a lot that is being said on these forums.
    I know very little other than the fact that there is something quite disturbing going on out there, but I don't blame any individuals for that, it's the system that is bad.
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      Mar 15 2013: I suspect that all systems are flawed, but that individuals who are actively exploiting the system and exploiting others are at fault for this calamity.
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    Mar 15 2013: Craig, you seem to be creating a straw man. Let's start with our basic assumpptions. You assume people will be kind and avoid greed and develop a perfect or neasr perfect society if they are not trained to be fearfull and greedy. Granted that would be an improvement. My presupositions are a little different. Based on history and the observations of societies that developed apart from our own jaded culture as well as our own. We can agree to disagree on that. Let's assume that you are right. Where do we go from here? We both agree on the human condition as it is now. We do not agree on how it got there. Again, where do we go from here. Who "educates" our children in the manner you described? How do we avoid the destruction of this social advancement by the far more powerfull forces of evil capitalists in the world? Will we need our own socialized government complete with soldiers of the same conviction to avoid that calamity? Will force be needed to maintain and advance the cause? Will there be some great enlightenment that will convert all humanity to your view at one precise moment in time? How do we usher in this great age of human goodness?
  • Mar 15 2013: Sure, do we still Barter?, I do! But not on a scale that I could seriously profit from, without getting arrested. I have even thought about the concept of having a Dual System of Wealth. Both Capitalistic and a Human Wealth System, but the more I think about it the more it would create "classes" that we don't need. The Human "Condition" needs to be at the forefront of Human concern. Not Money. It has become something that it was never intended. It is the decider as to what happens, not the needs of men.
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      Mar 15 2013: The human condition is the issue. As for barter, it occurs, and probably on a wider scale than you imagine. I mentioned it simply because you seem to be opposed to money. Money simply represents a trading tool based on the value of labor. Is it always valued correctly? No. To me, the labor of a farmer is far more valuable than the labor of a movie star, but I seem to be in the minority.
  • Mar 15 2013: i find it interesting that the more sense it starts to make sense, the more you create an even more dire situation. "Computer programers...Game Creators..." But then you go all the way back to the beginning (so to speak) to prove your point. Completely ignoring the "reality' of where we are! This is what "fear" can do when anyone questions Capitalism. While there may have been many necessary processes to implement in the 1600-1800's, we are in a very very different time. And again, your fears make you ignore this fact. You also ignore the fact that it was the same Capitalization (Industrialism) that spurred the immigration to this country by millions looking for jobs, which took poverty to an new scale. And what happens to a company and more importantly, to its workers when the doors close for whatever reason? They are now the needy. For the past 5 years the poverty levels have risen. At over 15%, 46.2mil people live in poverty. In the world I see, with so many other interesting things to pursue and how children will be educated on the essence of being responsible (do you disagree with that too?), to what is important to others as well as personal pursuits, people will do much more and be happier doing it. The only thing they have to respect is, they will have to be productive. No sitting on the couch, cause this will never be a situation we will Culture anymore. You have to look way beyond what you think will work or not work based on very different times with a completely different knowledge base. The Dust Bowl, was an Ecological Disaster. But few really know that. When wheat became Gold, the frenzy to make the money, caused a Tragedy. Lack of information was key! So when you choose to make points based on something necessary in the 1600's, as to what we are doing today when we have 46mil folks living impoverished, stop and ask...is this really working for everyone? The only thing I agree with the comparison is....."they changed something that didn't work...then!
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      Mar 15 2013: I used those illustrations to show that human nature has been the same from the earliest times where we have records. In all ages there have been many who chose to survive on the eforts of others. Whether that be kings and subjects, congressmen, or people who sit on the couch. The crux was this: What if everyone in this new order decides to do something other than provide food, clothing and shelter? It would require some encouragement to do those tasks.
  • Mar 14 2013: PROS:Most commentators feel either one way or the other that the world is more materially affluent and technologically advanced with the advent of capitalism.
    -Moreover some have argued that over time service oriented businesses which offer serious solutions to an life-threatening situations often garner more sustained profits over time.
    - The innovations that have come out of it are commendable.
    - In a sense capitalism leans closer to a meritocracy than most other economic systems that we have known.
    CONS:
    -Capitalism is synonymous with consumerism, cost cutting, quality compromises and a multi trillion dollar marketing and advertising industry among other things.
    -Advertising and gimmicky marketing are surely a bi-product of modern capitalism and the open market. In my mind in their modern avatar, they are exploitative and misleading.
    - We see tonnes of 'fun' but useless things which people buy irrespective of utility.
    - Capitalism has given rise to a patent system that in cases actually makes it harder for important innovations to enter the market.
    -More over we see technology and services being replicated and doing exceedingly well because they are repackaged. In some cases therefore innovation is thwarted!

    Conclusion:
    -Capitalism is sustainable and desirable if reformed.
    -What has to change is the pure evil, contentious, individualistic disregarding attitudes which it sometimes celebrates.
    -What needs to change is the banking system which supports it. Finance and rocket science should be different domains. less money should be earned through 'speculation.'

    The human race is going through a great and turbulent evolution in consciousness and capitalism in itself does little or nothing to transform or adapt to changing ideologies. Today we are more aware, intelligent and able. We need a more intelligent and less destructive economic system to drive social change.

    Reformation in order!!
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      Mar 15 2013: Reformation is in order... but what reform? The The Pros listed are are reasonable evaluations, but some of the cons?
      You seemed to have said that mankind with his evolution in science and technology still goes out to purchase silly stuff only because we get sold a bill of goods.
      So we are getting smarter being stupid?
      I also question this strong desire for materialistic items and little thought given to greater consciousness. I see too many double income families where children are literally abandoned, while the parents are out supporting the mini mac mansion with the 3 car garage. Americans will understand this metaphor.
      To make matters worse, too many people in other parts of the world after seeing American movies, seem to hold that lifestyle as their new cultural goals.Others use them as a sign of decadence and validate their reasons to destroy America.
      The thing that bothers me most is the common thread throughout this conversation that implies that capitalism may be OK if we bring it under some kind of control.
      My question is "Whose Control?" Scientist? Politicians? The guy down the street?
      My concern is that every time someone or some small group have come in control of society, the outcome has not been "completely desirable"
      • Mar 16 2013: I share your curiosity. Frankly, each individual has the right to his or her own money because we have the right to our own work. People should mind their own business literally. I just wish we actually had true free markets. I feel like right now the government makes it impossible for a young guy like me to succeed because of so many regulations. And I'm even more frustrated that in substance both parties do the same thing. Everybody want's more government control. Where can I go if America continues to destroy her own free markets?
      • Mar 18 2013: @mike colera....thanks for your reply.
        As for what reform?
        I am not an expert and don't have many grandiose ideas. But the few I think will work(intuitively) focus on making our societies more virtuous and more rewarding towards virtuosity.
        -One great way of realizing this the idea that prizes be distributed for work that is commendable and re distributive in nature.
        --The opposite will only uphold the above. for example: Actions which amount to treason or sedition in many countries are taken very seriously and the offender is either required to be extradited or imprisoned for life. Their family names are shamed and redemption often becomes elusive like a mirage in the ever ending dessert.
        Yet for capital crimes committed by corporations against the workforce employed in third world countries and elsewhere and/or environmental violations of indubitable seriousness, the lack of a company's/organization's commitment to sell products which are healthy(tobacco, coca cola and other poisons make their way into our homes and we actually pay taxes to buy them), innovations which are more sustainable(where are battery operated cars?) and intelligent, ramifications are a lot more relaxed.
        -Governments in most countries do little to support such change (compare this to money spent by any country on oil excavations or on weapons).
        -Sometimes offences which to any common man's eye are simply criminal in nature are dropped because the law is complex, convoluted and worded ambiguosly to see some pretty obvious offences to their logical end, amercement, dissolution etc. I have heard of arbitration processes which(in my country and in some notable developed countries) have lasted for decades over issues which were quite obviously offences.
        -There are plenty of smart people in powerful places who contribute to these pages. I am sure they're clued into all of this. But it is hard for them to reach an agreement on a basic humanism, which seems to underpin our day and age?
      • Mar 18 2013: As for the who part....
        -There is an idea a thinker called Robert Michels penned down in 1911. It was called the 'iron law of oligarchy.' It states power only shifts from a few to a few. I agree with that idea, it is well demonstrated historically and in the present. Hierarchies exist even in some truly stoic monastic orders.
        -Power is contagious and it shifts, it doesn't matter who it goes to as long as they can be held accountable and responsible to it. Checks and balances on power didnt worked too well anywhere.
        Transparency in action and intention is something that is doing much better.
        WE SEE THE WORLD BECOMING MORE TRANSPARENT AS WE SPEAK! Activists, reformers and good citizens should capitalize on this new development in a more fervent and impact-full way.
        -I don't think power or change should be the exclusive right of any group.
        A notable Indian Thinker and social reformer Vivekananda brought a crude but profound aphorism to popularity. It goes "a dogs tail remains curled up or crooked no matter how much you straighten it out." There is no perfection in this world. There never will be.
        I believe in massive upheavals and revolutions, but not on the surface. Any political or economic system seems to be inspiring in its ideals. You seem to hold that view for free market economies.
        Capitalism has some notable PROS. One that I missed earlier was social mobility.
        But that being said you seem to have misconstrued what I was trying to spell out above. Which was
        CAPITALISM IN its current avatar IS NOT OK! IT NEEDS TO BE REFORMED.
        WE DON'T NEED REVOLUTIONS ON THE SURFACE TO AMEND IT(institutional or organizational).
        WE NEED A MUCH DEEPER, MORE INTELLIGENT AND MORE SERIOUS REVOLUTION!
        One that includes everyone and everything to be more awake and alert
      • Mar 18 2013: Secondly, which cons are you in disagreement with?
        Thirdly, I am in agreement with your metaphor and coming from a country where more and more "educated people" feel it is fashionable to watch american soap operas over learning their native languages! Most minds are feeble. Most people don't have an opinion and all that glitters isn't gold.

        @Tyler.
        I don't know about which regulations make it harder for you to succeed. But in some situations correct regulations have allowed for young innovators to succeed and to do good while they're at it.

        Lets say the government lifts all regulations on you and other companies around you tomorrow. What do you think will happen?
        I would argue that unless some huge redistribution program was in order, you'll be swallowed up and chewed to the bone by a bigger fish.
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    Mar 14 2013: As I understand, the purpose of this chat is to discuss whether or not capitalism is sustainable. Some obviously believe it is, some obviously believe it is not. I think that it is and that it needs to be modified to make it more equitable. Those of you who don't believe it is sustainable, I ask you to offer a better solution. One that goes beyond: "We should all focus on the better part of our nature and stop telling children what to do...etc." Tell me where to find these perfect people who will usher in the golden age. Tell me how they will produce the goods they need in order to survive, and how they will manage to avoid being consumed by the Satanic forces of capitalism that remain until we can all sit down and sing "Cum Ba Ya" together. In the words of the old Beatles tune Revolution: "We'd all love to see the plan!"
  • Mar 14 2013: As Remade states, it all boils down to resources, in which i believe. Yet as this point is correct in the phyisical sense, distrubution and greed takes the majority of the of the issue mentally.

    The point of the steel nail been thrust with the force of humanity, behind and within full view, begs the question of those who actually feel that way. (the idea of the neverending circles, the no time to think nevermind the motivation to accomplish true happiness)

    I am a sudden new believer in capitalism in the fact of it been a menial exchange for a product or service, yet when this menial exchange comes at a cost of "labour"4"freedom" it is a human error;

    I recommend not looking at the capitalistic virtues, or the pull of riches but living well within you given means, i have genuine insite as i have been on the four sides of the wooden cross, and all so recently:

    I can prove undoubtedly that money in fact brings turmoil, to daily life, and consumerism, as to put it in to perspective (that one moment you get your money, the thought of what your going to spend it.... that is one monent that is irreversable and can not be spent again, and wasted when you change your mind or progress the application to turn your money into things) i suspect it's a new generation. Like i like to know where my eggs come from (and no thanks "lion quality" thanks happy clucky berty the chicken that belongs to mr. smith) as with all comsumerables, ...

    What does the average person choose to have to be happy, as per dali lama (happiness is the key to life) and as all the greats, philosophical thinkers down to the scientifically interllectually

    I feel life for anyone needs to have variables, in which the mind can focus and be in "control" and money effectively gives that "control" to the masses. So although i don't use money per say, i have turned to moments to fulfill my life varibles.

    Money is only as involved in your life as you let it, i do feel a better well being clinic (spiritual awa
  • Mar 14 2013: What you are describing just does not happen James. No disrespect my friend, but a farmer cannot legally trade crops for meat. Money has indeed taken the place of bartering, in a legal sense. And as I have not been able to find the start of "token exchange" either, it still exists today. Token Exchange suggests that one has earned those tokens through some form of legal labor. But that is so not true today, nor has it been for many years. And there is no way to make that kind of system Sustain all human beings.
    I'll be back later, gotta go now. Love the dialogue!!!!
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      Mar 14 2013: Craig, that was merely an example, although it does occur I was using it to illustrate the point that money is nothing more than the labor it will purchase. Whether that labor is in barttered goods or coins.

      As a side note: Here in Texas, one can often find ranchers trading a side of beef for farm products.
  • Mar 14 2013: I was thinking this week.

    Could we change all the base labor from people to machines?

    What would be the consequences in a world:

    Without capital based economic system
    or
    With the same economic system we have today

    ?

    Can this be future?
    • Mar 14 2013: In the Indian context this would be disastrous since there simply wouldn't be enough jobs for people! I don't think there is any harm in having machine aided laborers. Just like bull-dozers need drivers, other machines should be operated by humans to make sure jobs are still available to all. Here's a better idea......why not get rid of machines and get willing people to do work at prevalent market prices all over the world?
  • Mar 14 2013: Capitalism is responsible for the Culture of what our Political System is today. While you try to blur the lines between the "Barter" system and Capitalism, it cannot be done. And do you seriously believe people have to be told what is right and what is wrong?? Now this is where our natural instincts do kick in! Humans quickly understand our environments and discern the what is or is not right. What they have to be taught is there is "Consequence" for such actions and why. The real question is why do so many continue to steal knowing there is such consequence? Because deep inside people long to operate outside the system we have in place!! "Get over on the system!"
    Mike you make the assumption, even-though I stated just the opposite, that a child would be "told" what to be. And that is not it at all! In fact it would be completely the opposite. Children would have exposure to many things during their formative years. Adults would help to pay attention to the child's development and help recognize their 'gifts' and make sure to expose them to things that also compliment those gifts. Support roles in our society would have as much weight as principles roles. Schools can be geared towards learning skills at a much younger age, because we are no longer Test Score Driven. We could have rotation systems in which everyone gets a chance to enjoy sitting in the box at a ball game or on the front row. While many things will have to ironed out, as it stands, the human being who asks not to be born, is worth very little at birth if they are of a struggling family. In fact, people kill their children because the money they have to spend to take care of it is just not there. When will human life become more important than money? When money no longer exists.
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      Mar 14 2013: What if all these untold children in your scene all decided to be computer programers, or game creators, or just sit on the couch? Who produces the food, the clothing, the shelter for that generation or the next. I read Bradfords Diary many years ago. The story of how the first full year in the new world they plowed and planted as a community, and that winter almost starved to death. The next year, they parceled out the land snd seed according tof the size of each family, and basicly said "sSink or swim on your own!" The result was a bumper crop! When people understood that their lives depended on their own work, they worked!
  • Mar 14 2013: To be accurate, its not a "Good" definition, it is the definition. "A baby wants more of what appeals to it's taste buds, and will become angry when not satisfied." What you say (about "want") only depends on what is presented that child's taste-buds. Tell me when you have ever seen a new born drink more from the Tit of the mother or the bottle, when they become full. If a child has tasted something that "appeals" to them, when they get hungry they may make a fuss, for sure. But after a while when the hunger pains are too much to bear, that child unconsciously, will decide to eat what is there.
    ..."but the tendency toward greed seems as ancient as man." Funny you said that, but however you did not give me an answer to how old the concept of "money" is and how long has civilization been using it! You see, no one can actually pinpoint when "money" was created! While you think it is our nature to "want" more, I disagree. It is in our nature to "want", but to want "more" is Cultural. By definition Culture means: "the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group." I am not saying that what you say is false concerning where we are and why, but just "where are we?" In 2013, more people for the first time are dying of eating too much that not having enough to eat. But at the same time, we have more children living on the streets and under bridges and in cars in this country since WW2. A record number of cities have filed for bankruptcy. To do this my friend, will not take "perfect" human beings. It will take courage. Dialogue like this. Just think and ask yourself. To build a house you need the materials, the floor plan, which we make, and the Manpower. Technically, money is not really needed. But in a Capitalistic Society, its all that matters. Why is this? After so many years of "money", how is it that so many, are still falling through the cracks. Why at this point would you ever hear someone say "we can't afford to build a school"?
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      Mar 14 2013: As for the definition, I was just being civil and making note of the good use of the definition. i suppose I should have made that clear, but felt it would be understood.

      My baby illustration may not have been the best one for the purpose of our talk. It required a bit of a jump. It could have just as easily been a fork that caught the childs attention, or something even more dangerous.

      The only meaning that money has is what labor it will purchase, either in terms of a product that has had value added by labor, or the labor to accomplish something that you want to accomplish. It matters not whether that labor is translated into coins or paper, or in the form of trading goods for goods, or goods for labor. I work to produce a crop, so that I can have part of the crop, trade some of it to the butcher who provides me with meat, some to the baker who provides me with bread, and some to the carpenter who helps me add on to my shack. it matters little if that is done by direct trade, or by assigning a value and using a token of some type.

      As for how long money has been used, from my study of ancient documents, I can't find a time when some form of token exchange did not ocur.
  • Mar 14 2013: More than a reasonable question. Your answer lies in the nurturing nature of Capitalism. Capitalism nurtures Greed. This has to be recognized...discussed and discussed some more. As it is right now! I appreciate a forum where sensible replies like yours allow me to share what I feel is the time for us as a species to think outside of our addictive comfort zones. Us being the folks who are not living in squalor. "...If Greed was not part of the Human Condition" This would suggest, that Greed is by Nature embedded in our existence as a species. I disagree. Greed, by definition is attached to 'the desire to acquire or possess more than one needs.' So the next logical question would be 'WHY' would someone feel the need to do this? Is it in his very Nature, or is it the very Culture he lives in? Culture and Nature are two very different things, that can easily be confused. But in the same breath, the two are as intertwined as day and night. The Aspect of our "Nature" in play here is 'FEAR'. Capitalism promotes Fear, fear nurtures Greed, Greed nurtures deceit and crime. And it is our Fear that has created a Culture of Greed. But the most important part of your reply James was the last 11 words.
    "...until someone comes up with a way to make better people." EXACTLY! I know it can only be done by taking away the Fear of the need for Money. When Luke said "...I wish that nobody had to work menial jobs.",supposed you did want a menial job? What if that was all you could handle, for whatever reason? Supposed you want to be surgeon, and knew you could pursue it? Supposed 'Sanitation' cranked your tractor? The face of politics would change into a more meaningful process which would be goal driven behind the soul purposes of Education, Quality of Life and Ecological Awareness and Restoration. Sure, Jealousy, Ambition, Competitiveness, Love, will always factor in when "Struggles" are present. But I know we can do better than this, with all we know and are capable of in 2013.
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      Mar 14 2013: " I disagree. Greed, by definition is attached to 'the desire to acquire or possess more than one needs.'"
      Very good definition, but the tendency toward greed seems as ancient as man. As an example you could go back to the ancint laws from almost every culture, the "thou shalt not covets" in all ancient societies. We seem to be born wanting more. A baby wants more of what apeals to it's taste buds, and will become angry when not satisfied, I don't think it is the culture, I think it is in our nature to want more. I am not saying it is right, I am saying it is what is! We have to start from where we are, even if where we are is pretty much screwed up. Even if such a program would work, where would we find these perfect human beings who would help us to manage it? Who provides the resources, the food clothing and shelter needed for the first few decades of this Brave New World? Probably the greatest advancements in the human condition, the very advancements that brought us to the point of being able to have this discussion in this manner, and the political freedom to do so came as a result of capitalism. Does it have a dark side? Yes it does! Our political system with capitalism at it's base has allowed freedom, and, at the same time, slavery. It is worth noting that that same system eventually found the heart and soul to end it.
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        Mar 14 2013: We can point to greed as "human nature" and thus use this as justification for unbridled greed, as if by denying our greed we are denying our human nature. But charity, forbearance, reflection, and contentedness are also all aspects of human nature as endemic to the human race as greed. Human nature also must include an abiding sense of justice, fairness, equality, progress, and (perhaps as new capacities) sustainability and global awareness. We can always retreat to limbic levels and our fate may indeed resemble something akin to that depicted in. e.g., the book (or movie) The Road. But I believe the promise of a discussion such a this is in dispelling the inevitability of this outcome and recognizing that we can-- and often should-- control our primal urges that were wrought in a world of scarcity. We have much greater potential to nurture the 'sapiens' aspect of our species' namesake than contemporary capitalism's emphasis on avarice allows.
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          Mar 14 2013: We certainly should control the darker side of our nature, no doubt about that. Even if greed is not a part of our nature, it still exists. People have debated these issues since the very earliest days of human accounting. My question is still the same: How do we get there? If communism or socialism could have produced the sort of utopian people we are talking about, surely no person in China or North Korea, or the former Soviet Union would be hungry at this point. I wish I was wrong, but unfortunately it is not so. I hope that some of those who differ with my oppinion are right and we can all live in peace and harmony, but thousands of years of human history seem to indicate otherwise. What our history does show without exception is that the only places in the world where people on a large scale have managed to have some measure of peace and prosperity are those places where there has been a free market system.
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        Mar 14 2013: There must be a distinction between communism-, socialism-, and/or capitalism-done-right and communism-, socialism-, and/or capitalism-done-wrong. Marx and Engels wrote in response to the dystopia of capitalist industrial England. This does not mean that capitalism looks like mid-18th Century England in all cases. Likewise communism under Stalin or in N. Korea presently is hardly what Marx and Engels envisioned. And as to socialism, Denmark and Sweden seem to be faring well these days economically and in terms of citizen satisfaction with their government and society. Perhaps we should be less spooked by these labels and then could learn a thing or two from these good examples of, say, sociaiism-done-right.
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          Mar 14 2013: I understand that a modified socialism in a modified free market can work on some levels, at some times. In the big picture, it is rare.
        • Mar 15 2013: Eben, what you said I could not agree with more and is at the Crux of how some folks in America create mass fear to move their own agenda(s).
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          Mar 15 2013: Eben and Craig, even if greed is not a part of human nature, it still exists in our world. How do we move from being a greed riddled humanity to being better individuals in a world where greed is the predominate culture. How do you keep people from being greedy? How do you keep the greedy from swallowing the innocent. Do you force it? In a world dominated by selfishness, lust and greed, who is at the helm of such a great movement? Will those who help us get beyond our selfish tendencies become greedy in the process? Where do we find those saints who guide us? I would not even trust myself!
    • Mar 15 2013: Another definition of greed to consider: "Greed is wanting more from others than you are willing to provide to them." Under this definition, a person who is providing a great deal of value to the world should never be chastised for accruing wealth. Humans are driven to accumulate sure, but is this a bad thing? Wealth is created by delivering value to others, and capturing a percentage of that value for yourself in return for your efforts. If you provide a lot of value, you deserve great deals of wealth. But if you provide nothing, you would be greedy to expect anything.
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        Mar 15 2013: Sean, perhaps the key issue is the difference between what is shared and what is accrued, using your definition of the term 'greed'. The recent TED talk by Richard Wilkinson may help put some meaning behind a term like 'value' in the context of 'providing a great deal of value to the world'.

        Perhaps you would agree to the folksy wisdom of the quote by Libertarian Walter Williams: "Let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you, and why?"

        The answer to Williams is this: it depends on how you earned that wealth. If that wealth was "earned" by exploiting labor and extracting environmental resources beyond sustainability, then that wealth cannot be fairly called "yours". The concept of sustainability recognizes, for the first time in the human experience, the real raw resource limits of our planet and the fact that this is a key source of wealth. This where social justice and environmental sustainability intersect, and this is where terms like "wealth" and "value" must be anchored.
        • Mar 15 2013: I agree with this. I believe those who produce should be allowed to keep mostly all of their wealth as long as two constraints are met: their efforts do not exploit the life/lib/pursuit of happiness of someone else and the long term health of our planet. We've mostly gotten the first one under control, but on the second one we have major work to do.

          I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on implementing this.
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        Mar 15 2013: Some concepts that are difficult for us to grapple with presently can, in time, become social norms by "organic" transformations of behavior, such as through popularization of ideas, adopting new descriptive language, and even through dialogues such as this. I think about, for example, the effect that Harriet Beecher Stowe had on influencing the national mood about slavery.

        I can also cite, for example, Brownmiller's (1990) account of Camita Wood's appeal for having been denied unemployment insurance after what we would now identify as clear case of 'sexual harassment'. That case was the origin of the term 'sexual harassment'. It was a term that was deliberated on in a brainstorming session by Woods and her lawyers and several others with similarly denied claims. Now as a result we have an easy way to discuss a concept that circumlocution could not otherwise communicate effectively enough to justify leaving a job and being eligible for unemployment. A similar history attends the term 'child abuse'. These are what linguists refer to as 'lacunae'-- concepts for which there is a gap in language. I believe that words can change worlds. The fact that we are discussing 'sustainability' at all is progress. This word would have drawn blank stares 20 years ago. But now we have some sense for a target in mind that would, 20 years ago, have required several sentences and possibly the loss of attention.

        I believe that national moods can change as well. Conspicuous consumption can grow more unpopular than it is now. It can be popularly internalized that hoarding wealth is not the gateway to happiness and that it may actually cause suffering in the world. And quite possibly those intangible elements of support and esteem-building-- those that give us a sense of accomplishment and success; those that give us a sense that we have lived/are living 'the good life'-- will center on ecologically sustainable behaviors. I already see much progress in this regard, and I hope for more.
      • Mar 16 2013: " Humans are driven to accumulate sure, but is this a bad thing?"

        Yes, it is. Nature is not designed for this. We are not squirrels occupying a tiny ecological niche. We got clever, realised we could engineer a comfort zone for ourselves and our preferred species, and set about building the largest ecological ponzi scheme the world has ever seen.

        Over the next 50 years or so (if we wish to live in such vast numbers) we've got to re-engineer our production/consumption systems. Accumulation has to be seen in context of the whole - it is vital to carry forward a strategic reserve but there is no serious place for just owning more stuff .
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    Mar 14 2013: Does anyone else believe in the promise of developing a concept such as Gross National Happiness (as coined by Bhutan's enlightened king Jigme Singye Wangchuck) to transition from capitalism-as-we-know-it to something more directly relating to sustainable and equitable happiness than placing personal accumulation of wealth as the summum bonum of capitalism?
    • Mar 15 2013: Franklin D's 2nd Bill of Rights would have attempted to this very thing! And I could not agree more!!
    • Mar 16 2013: Yes, I think metrics like the Human Development Index are very useful, but more as an indicator of the state of the system than for actually indicating the way forward. In very complex systems sometimes Backward is the best way to get a Forward, if you see what I mean! ;-)
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    Mar 14 2013: I think this is the model for sustainable capitaism: I see capitalism changing with a new generation of what we could call "social capitalists" who work together open source, and create new advances that often blossom into economic opportunities. Maybe they are trying to develop something to solve a common problem for the sake of the community. Maybe to develop something to earn money in the traditional capitalist way. Sometimes, perhaps most often, to develop something just be cause the opportunity is there. This new paradigm is working in technology, and has evolved there on it's own.
  • Mar 13 2013: So I was asked, What would I replace "Capitalism" with. In actuality, what would be replaced is is 'Transferable Wealth in the form of Currency. This is the true flaw of Capitalism. Money, in my pocket or bank, can be stolen or "Maddoffed" (as in Bernie) and now what was my wealth, is some one else's. Technology has made Capitalism even more vulnerable.
    My system, starts with the children. There will be a very difficult transition through this but it will start with doing things with money taken out of the equation, from the stand point of whether it gets done or not. And it will start with Schools and the Teachers. In all of nature, the young are protected as it is understood that they are the future of the species. We do a poor job of this. Start building Schools that are needed, with everything the school should have. The system will not have to pay for the school. We have the technology to create a transitional compensation system for materials and labor. Next are upgrade and rebuild Dwellings and Hospitals. As in schools, every child born from a certain point will have only to need medical care... to get it. While everyone will be required to work and choose what they want to do, it will be understood that from birth, focus will be made on an individual's talents and gifts to help them decide how they contribute to Society. Many, (only for profits sake) careers/industries, will be no more. Thus cutting waste on producing things we either don't need or are of no real world value. Reward will be given to those who take on more intense or multiple careers, in the form of Tech Development, Medicine, Education, Sports and Entertainment. This will be the start of not needing money to do, to eat, to have shelter. People will have value at birth, and it can't be taken away. And the "no money no ambition" argument, I don't buy it! I cried hard after the first Video Project I ever did, because of the effort I put in!!
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      Mar 13 2013: Laudable, but how do you get there from here?. What I am saying, Craig, is that there is nothing new here. It has already be said many times before and even tried. For example"
      Who is going to provide materials and stuff the schools will use and what is a transitional compensation. Debit Cards?
      If everybody wants to be bakers and no one wants to grow wheat, who is going to make the decision of who does what?
      Who decides what those things are we don't need and have no world value.
      So a child from birth is selected to be a (fill in the blank). I saw the movie, it didn't end well.
      Since everyone gets food and shelter, who decides I get box seats at the super bowl because I did a great job. You are making a strong case for a political system that is ruled by some "who".
      All through history there have been societies ruled even unmercifully by some "who". No freedoms, no choices, no opportunities.

      Capitalism is not a political system. It is a term for a market where barter is the manner for goods and services to be exchanged. All those great calamities you described are real but they have nothing to do with marketing good and services.
      When I was a young boy, I went to Sunday School. There we learned about Moses who came with the "Thou shall does and don't" As I got older and wiser, I thought about this, why do people have to be told that murder, lying, steeling, were immoral things to do and even societies have rules to make these illegal and punishable. Because there are people who do immoral and illegal things.
      I see your frustration with our current society. But before we can find a solution to the problems, we must better identify the real problems. Not the Obvious.
      • Mar 14 2013: "Capitalism is not a political system."

        You are deluded my friend. Money is just a special law enforced by men with guns, otherwise we would allow counterfeiting. Money and property are instruments of domination. The whole idea that there exists billionaires and homeless people in the same nation is quite political. To believe otherwise is to be gullible and historically illiterate.
        • Mar 16 2013: There are many different cultures operating under the umbrella term of Capitalism, but they are all political systems designed to organise Material Productivity and as far as I know all do so at the expense of Ecology.

          The question is whether this political system can be sustainable.

          I don't think it can, because the very uneven distribution of power it has to engender to maintain the accounting process creates a massive social and ecological inefficiency. Efforts to lead us into Sustainable Capitalism, I fear, are going to lead us into something like a globalised version of Medieval China at best, and WW3 at worst.

          The Tabloid press sees this process of degeneration as entertaining and I agree that it is, but it also has a serious side which merits discussion.
      • Mar 16 2013: Mike, the world does not really operate as a big barter market, because those who have nothing to sell but their labour are required to enter into asymmetrical relationships. Then, to maintain those relationships, Education, Media and other social services are engineered accordingly.
  • Mar 13 2013: First let me respond to your characterization of my post. Capitalism has been in place in all Societies where transferable Money is used for many, many years. Call it what you may, Socialism, Communism, whatever.... Because as long as there is Money (transferable currency) there is Capitalism in play! We are not talking about anything new here Mike. And nor are we talking about Armageddon. Tell me I am not conversing with someone who does what Sean Hannity does and "label" outside thinking as some kind Apocalyptic mindset!? 'Cause this is not at all. Believe me! So no offense intended, but just bear with me ok! For many families and individuals, Capitalism has not only failed them, it has cost them their lives! From slaves being taken from their homelands, to young women today being kidnapped and sold for money. To the Congressman who is trying to keep up with his lifestyle to the drug dealer on the street trying to have one at all, Money...Capitalism, is the root of much of what we as a Global Society struggles with. You... however you may want to try, (and you can) cannot argue with this fact. Its very easy to criticize someone's lack of any kind of ambition and fault them for their own "condition", but this is an ignorant critique, excluding the fact that it is the first 10 years of a person's life that are the most important to their belief that the world cares about them or not. Even a very well off child may not feel "cared" for, but in a Capitalistic society, he or she will never want for food, clothing or shelter. This is a life altering experience for any child to go through. Thus the mindset of "I will do anything to protect my family or myself" is born... "Trust no one!" My plan would start with executing a system starting with the very young, in which all are created equal. i will post a detailed description separately when I return from a shoot a bit later here in this thread. You may find it interesting at the very least!
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      Mar 13 2013: Do you not think that such strugles would exist outside of capitalism? The root of those struggles is human greed, which exists in any political or economic system. To get rid of greed you would have to step outside the realm of economics and into other disciplines, perhaps politics, religion, phsycology and other social sciences. Humanity has struggled with that existence from the begining and still no answer is forthcoming. Any system, even no system at all would work if greed was not a part of the human condition. Capitalists recognize this greed and use this flawed system to provide some healing in the present world, untill someone comes up with a way to make better people.
  • Mar 13 2013: This is the question that, at its core, will determine how we progress as a species. In my opinion the single most important issue of our time! For many millions of people living now, and to the souls that have died, the answer is NO! For many people Luke, capitalism could not sustain them, because they did not have the money to get into the game. Is Capitalism sustainable?, or can Capitalism sustain all of the People? Either way, the answer is NO. This is an issue that I have thought about for many many years, and I am now in the thought path of what it will take to bring about real change. And that means a Cultural change in in the minds and hearts of men as to what is important. As it stands, Money is more important than Human life, and has been for a long time, but the extremes are widening. In this country, we have a political system in which one side is basically about protecting people's money....not....PEOPLE. One post said something that I believe is at the base of who we SHOULD be. "No one asks to be born"! But yet while we all come into this world the same way, we are not all born in the same set of opportunities. This is one flaw in Capitalism, its not equal from the start, for everyone. And then there is the increasing population, along with technology changing the work place and absorbing jobs, exponentially! But even worse and glaringly obvious (and even more ignored) is the fact that the need for money, for EVERYTHING, is also the reason for 90% of all crime! The main reason for STRESS and a multitude of illnesses for humans. Capitalism, in the form of transferable currency is antiquated. What is the sense in having the material, the people, to build a much needed school, but then having a system in place where the bottom line is... "We are trying to cut spending, we can't afford that. We have to balance the Budget!!" This system, with all we are now capable of, makes no more sense! Its old and is neither SUSTAINABLE nor can it SUSTAIN us!!
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      Mar 13 2013: Since you see "capitalism" as the final Armageddon of human society, Just what would you replace it with and how would the new system work ?
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      Mar 17 2013: Mr. Shamwell, I agree with your thoughts.

      someone please explain to me what in the world changed so quickly when 2 hard working, responsible adults earn salaries that barely meet the family's basic needs, food, shelter, fuel, good health?

      I laugh when I hear the cry from those sitting at the round tables enjoying a life of security, about the need to address the alarming increase of obesity, violence, mental illness, drop-out rates in public schools, the war on drugs....on and on we go.

      Ladies and gentleman.... we are afraid and live in a state of stress, we are envious of those that end the day with basic needs stamped "PAID", we are angry about the enormous inequality of shared profits made from our labor, our public education system is antiquated and in dire need of reform but, it is primarily supported by local taxes and we are already taxed to the hilt,a much needed secondary education to be the least bit competitive in the 21st century economy has become a for profit institution, Good health...how many uninsured people in our country...too many for without it, the cost is astronomical, obesity...when did the cost of a shopping bag full of healthy food become such a financial struggle? Drugs....an escape more and more people seek, and you are correct about the of money for "everything" speaks to the rise in crime.

      capitalism started out as a good idea, and I agree Mr Shamwell, somewhere along the line the word PEOPLE left the equation. The truth be told "we the people" don't need all that much. I think the word Security speaks to what we all are seeking . Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs states it best: "Security of body, employment, resources, morality,the family, health and property". pretty basic.

      I don't know what I would replace capitalism with for I have little faith in the moral compass of human beings.
      • Mar 17 2013: And it is just that Mary Ellen, as you question the "Moral Compass" of Human Beings! This is the nail on the head statement. Just as the Compass of a Captain at sea can point his Compass anywhere he chooses, if the sound of the Sirens is just too strong to break away from, he will soon meet his peril. I have no doubt the Compass of mankind can be changed, but try to tell a Bank Executive who happens to hooked on Meds' he or she has a drug problem and they will tell you just the opposite. Empowerment is addictive, and nothing is more empowering than Money!
        The truth of the mater is, there is enough money for every single person of adult age to live comfortably on the planet. Their is enough money to break many of the cycles that feed impoverishment, build schools and educate all the children. Just in the US alone, we waste enough food every year to feed the enter Worlds hungry. But even thinking like this to Big Capitalist minded people and you are talking about "Hand Outs", "Taking My Money", "Taxing the Rich", "Feeding the Lazy"! Our whole political system (now) is about who controls the money.
        Quite frankly, I don't see the Human Race really taking that next step of its evolution with Wealth determined as we do today. The Wealth should always be in the Person. The Person who asked not to be born. The wealth should be in knowing that we have prepared the best possible situation for that person to feel useful to society and to himself. We are raping forests all over the world, not to create more jobs, but to generate more wealth in the form of money. This is so backwards. Capitalism will only insure that we deplete our resources. Resources that should not have any attachment to Wealth Creation. Have we become so weak that we have surrendered to the notion that as long as Capitalism works for SOME......Its Working???!!!

        Thank you for you thoughts Mary Ellen. And I thank Luke for asking such an important question that we should all revisit soon!
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    Mar 12 2013: What follows are 
    thoughts posted 
    to TED thread
    re:capitalism;

    “Is capitalism sustainable?”
    Yes. 

    Is our current zero-sum capitalism paradigm good for humanity?
    No.

    “Is it possible to have a rich and middle class without a poor class?” 
    Yes.
    What human conceived/created… human can change.

    “The sad reality of capitalism is that if there is an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, there has to be an exponentially long tail of much poorer people who are each contributing to that wealth.”

    False.

    Your “sad reality” is an artificial construct.
    Your “there has to be” is hubris.

    Absolutes are a fool’s game.

    Change occurs where there is a will to change.

    Permanence is dogma.
    Dogma is decay.

    “Not that we necessarily need an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, but would the world keep running without capitalistic incentives that increase the separation between rich and poor?”

    Yes.

    Poverty is unnecessary.
    Tragic.
    Inflicted upon many by few.

    No one asks to be born.
    No rational human would choose to be born into poverty, suffering, then death.

    “Can we eradicate all poverty without the rich sharing their riches?” 

    The rich should share.
    Be grateful fate was kind.

    Poverty is a human construct.
    Poverty need not exist.

    “What happens to civilization when nobody is willing to work in the factories and orchards, or build roads?”

    False premise.
    Never happened in the history of humanity.

    While there are those, 
    for their unique reasons, 
    fall into your category…

    The vast majority of humanity strives to be productive.

    Humans are natural problem-solvers.
    Humans are naturally curious.

    Humans created the world we live today.
    Humans are creating the world we will live tomorrow.
  • Mar 12 2013: The MIND|Spirit is the primary cause for EVERYTHING. The ONLY "ism" in existence is Individualism - The Indivisible Dualism of Heaven (Theory, lit. GodCraft) & Earth (Practice, School, Stage, Movie-Set). And the POINT for our physical existence on earth is TO OVERCOME DEATH.
    • Mar 13 2013: Why do we have to overcome death?
      • Mar 13 2013: Because "death" is temporary and the consequence of Ignorance, the transgression that kills. The remainder can be found hidden in the world's #1 Mandatory Instruction Manual, called bible (KJV & ASV only).

        HowToOvercomeDeath.com
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    Mar 12 2013: The only problem I have with this reply, is that many I know due to consumerism (I believe which is encouraged by Capitalism) wants people to make money for themselves.
    I mean of course your going to be happy if you spend your money on altruistic deeds, and you pursue your carer choice due to your passion (and then get into a sense of flow and have purpose). :)
    But money as an end to produce happiness(otherwise, and correct me if I am wrong, is known as ulitlity) in my opinion is what Capitalism encourages. I mean yes if we could create a form of Capitalism which encouraged altruistic deeds, doing things out of "purpose and passion" (to create "flow") then yes Capitalism would be sustainable but until then I don't think it is. Hope this makes more sense now!
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    Mar 12 2013: "a big endorsement deal or scoring a winning goal in the world's cup".
    I found this statement very interesting! Because it assumes more utility is gained from the "world cup" then "a big endorsement deal"! I mean you would have to calculate what you could do with both, I mean you might be able to do a lot more with an "endorsement deal" and gain more utility from it. (But I suppose the reputation you would gain from the "world cup" could count as ultility).
    That's an interesting statement though, because I would say that probably means happiness is not necessary rational (correct me if I am wrong).
    But I would say it is vital to make society happy rather than rich.
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    Mar 12 2013: Personally I think we should just concentrating on increasing happiness the most.
    I mean what is the point of a society which is technologically the greatest and wealthiest but can't really enjoy the wealth nor the technology. While Capitalism promises you that the pursuit of money is a worthwhile one, which I have found personally (and statically) is probably not the case. Which makes Capitalism unsustainable due to the fact, that once people all realize that there is no correlation between wealth and happiness then we will have to form a new economic system.
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      Mar 12 2013: Who says that there is no there is no correlation of wealth and happiness?
      Who states that capitalism is about the pursuit of money...money is a tool. It was a technological advance over the original barter system that capitalist used.
      Why is there so much miss understanding of what is capitalism.
      Someone once said that ignorance was bliss, if that is so, I have fallen into the happiest universe, so let's all be happy...
      In America there are 130 million people who are employed by capitalists. But in our happy place there are no capitalists. So, there are 130 million people who have no jobs to earn a salary and support their 180 million dependents. But no matter in our happy place, even if you had a salary, there are not stores to buy things, no markets and no food. Farms, stores, factories and offices, No PCs, or cell phones, or even electric lights.
      No sound, no music, all things we have at some point come from capitalism. But in our happy place with no capitalists, there is nothing but us and we are all happy.
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        Mar 12 2013: There have been many studies on the correlation of wealth and happiness. Look up Ted talks like : The surprising science of happiness or Flow the secret to happiness. Which show that once you advance beyond 75K then you don't really statically become much happier. (otherwise know as the Easterlin Paradox, also look up "Hedonic treadmill".) :D
        I mean if we money = natural happiness. And you always change your goals really and natural happiness is only momentarily, and thus doesn't last very long. Hope I have explained this well!
        Also I admit I don't understand what "capitalism" is very well. Do you know if you could explain it to me? :D
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          Mar 12 2013: No.
          Unfortunately, We are an ocean apart and don't speak the same language. But, is that the real global problem?
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          Mar 12 2013: Yes, there has been "studies" on wealth and happiness if you consider wealth as only financial status. But, I would say, that if you asked Beckham who is so wealthy in football skills, would he be happier with a big endorsement deal or scoring a winning goal in the world's cup? I would guess the score. I could be wrong.
          About capitalism education... You can google capitalism and get all the info I could give and much more. One thing you will learn that the term ranges from simple to large number of convoluted intrusions in the process that have a variety of names that all sound as an improvement to basic capitalism. I follow the KISS form of capitalism. Unfortunately, in the USA, there are a number of forms of capitalism in practice, not all are good.
    • Mar 12 2013: I think you are off point. People are happiest when they are pursuing what is important and interesting to them. Those that work in fields that are important or interesting and provide value to society are happy people. In fact, in our constitution, the pursuit of happiness referred more accurately to pursing these types of endeavors, not trying to find a state of happiness. Does money make someone happy? Not necessarily. Does money earned from providing value to others make people happy, YES. It is confirmation of a job well done. I have seen people make money honorably and seen people make money dishonorably, and the difference is striking.

      Capitalism carries an ethical component, and it is ethics, values and morality that requires our greatest attention, not the business itself.
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    Mar 12 2013: Stacey, I am lost on your interpretation of wealth. Wealth is something you have a lot of. It could be talent, intellectual ability. physical ability, financial assets, the list goes on. And only you know what you have.
    Further, What do you mean that capitalism is cancerous...? It is a process for people to create goods and services for other people. And you speak of consumption. What does that mean? In some case materials are changed from one form to another, preferably for the capitalist into a form that other people will want. And you want to find an alternative to capitalism before we devour ourselves? How does that happen? I try to picture that.
    I see... Sweeny Todd... if you know the play... He was a barber and his neighbor ran a restaurant... It seems the customers went for a haircut after lunch. Well... you have to see the play. The point is that they soon ran out of customers.... Not good capitalism, so you can see my confusion.....
  • Mar 12 2013: What does that mean?
  • Mar 12 2013: Wealth would imply I had more than anyone else. I'm not qualified to make that call. I do think we need to rethink how the world runs. Capitalism is currently the best model being practiced on a wide scale but its cancerous. It's very nature is consumptive as opposed to communism's innate stagnation. Another alternative is necessary before we devour ourselves.
  • Mar 11 2013: In our presentations for the Economics for Ecology conferences in Sumy we'd bee making the point that it wasn't sustainable. What I found interesting recently is that we seem to have common ground with a leading Marxist on the issue:

    http://www.p-ced.com/1/node/41
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      Mar 11 2013: i would found that suspicious as opposed to interesting
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      Mar 11 2013: Looked at the site, read the perceptions and had some understanding but got lost on the solutions.
      I think it is some kind of mix of two diametrically opposed economic systems with a lot of oversight.

      My philosophy has always been that government role in an economy is more like the referee in a football game and not like a director in the theater.
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    Mar 11 2013: Who else here also has a conservative view on the free-flow-market analysis?
  • Mar 11 2013: Pure capitalism is very sustainable. The problem is when regulations make pure capitalism impossible. (Just to be clear, regulations that ensure the safety are not my issue). The constant intrusion of silly regulations, coupled with radical intrusion such as labor unions makes capitalism hard to sustain. In a country like the U.S., unions and crazy over-regulation such as excessive environmental regs make it cheaper to move jobs overseas. There will ALWAYS be classes. Even in communist Russia, the ”worker” lived in poverty while party members enjoyed luxury. Many peoplw need the idea of improving their station in society to motivate them to work hard and innovate. Telling people that there is no reward for innovation will make many of them not even try. For an example, look at the innovations over the past 100 years. How many came from capitalist countries, compared to socialist countries? Even things in the US attributed to the government (take NASA for example) were actually made by private, for-profit companies like Northrup-Grumman, or Lockheed-Martin. Our (U.S.) Biggest threat is ”class warfare” where the ”poor” (the standard of living for a ”working class” American is far above the ”poor” of most other nations), created by politicians trying to pander for votes.
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      Mar 11 2013: Nicely said Sir

      The change in income between classes is more propaganda than truth.
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      Mar 12 2013: There is no pure capitalism. If you want to point to the U.S. such a pure capitalist society would dismantle itself within 5 minutes. No "pure" capitalistic system would be able to survive.
  • Mar 10 2013: I'm agree with the capitalism, above all because it is the best wealth creator, but i believe that we have to improve it and regulate it, we mustn't forget that we are in a huge economic crisis because of the mistakes of the capitalism.
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      Mar 10 2013: your middle name should be echo
    • Mar 15 2013: 5 years on and still no one knows what to do and what will happen next. Capitalism is a bit like a one armed bandit, looks promising, everyone has a chance but only works for a few.
  • Mar 10 2013: Capitalism is a tremendous wealth creator, and I like to think that it can be made "sustainable" with a few careful tweaks.

    Some ideas that could help:

    1. Restructure GDP, why are we counting government spending and healthcare in this thing?
    2. Automate jobs that can be automated.
    3. Bare bones federal government that enforces only laws that make us safer and protect natural resources.
    4. Politicians cannot campaign and our automatically forced to resign if the government runs a deficit.
    5. 10% flat income tax on everybody that covers all government salaries.
    6. A progressive tax on corporate profits, covers a few gov programs that keep people from starvation, but not much more.
    8. Debt cannot be used for consumption, only to finance production/investment.
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      Mar 13 2013: Wrong Shaun. Capitalism is a tremendous wealth POLARISER. The capital, as a factor of human labour, exist anyway.
      • Mar 14 2013: Joanne, you are right that the capitalism we see today is a wealth polarizer. But I'd argue that this is cronyism, not capitalism. For example: the 2008 housing crisis. In a truly capitalistic society, the banks, GM, and AIG would have been allowed to fail. Instead, they were propped up by our government in an effort to prevent a depression. While we probably did avoid a depression, these large corporations used this event to grab more of the pie. They were acting in their own self interest, which is fine. Whats not fine is giving them this opportunity to risk other peoples money and then get bailed out consequence free. The reason wealth is so polarized is government has given companies opportunities like the bailouts, which a normal market would not provide.
        • Mar 15 2013: Sean, the banks knew they wouldn't be allowed to fail. If the money ran out in the cash machines and garages would only take cash for fuel, most firms would have come to a standstill within a week.
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          Mar 15 2013: Sean, leave out please, if they disturb you, words like cronyism and capitalism, (please again! you will attract Pat! and I say that lovingly Pat :)). These words only illustrate, and poorly too, what is essentially the condensation of capital or labour through a process of limited choice aka exploitation, into a small section or elite of society. We can easily observe the negative consequences of this phenomenom, you have mentioned some incidents yourself. There are those who would argue the benefits of this, the INVISIBLE benefits, lol but we can really only argue this if we present the alternative. I present the alternative now. The Nordic Model. Iceland. I have my ticket booked.
      • Mar 15 2013: Be that as it may, we have certainly done ourselves no favors. All we have done is set up a larger bubble that is going to burst in the future. When American debt becomes worthless all the hardship we avoided in 08 will come back ten fold. Companies know this too, the wealthiest 1% (and China) and loading up on real assets like gold because they see whats coming.They will be fine, its the middle class, the savers, and the mainstreet guys that are going to be wiped out.
      • Mar 15 2013: We are in agreement that individuals ARE being exploited, but not WHO. In the social democracies, I'd argue that the producers are being exploited for the benefit of the labor force. Since the sustainability of an economy hinges on investments in the future, I believe that the welfare model is not as sustainable as a free market. The whole model hinges on high employment, which as we saw in 08 can change overnight based on global economic circumstances. If producers see a drop in demand and cut jobs, the heavy tax burden cant be supported. While this system is great for the general population disinterested in production, it hurts those who drive the economy and is not robust enough to survive financial adversity.
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    Mar 10 2013: One more time. Business:: Gross sales - Expenses = profits. Most business carefully plan for sales and that net profit. One of the expenses is any... all taxes paid to local state or federal governments. Businesses adjust prices to cover expenses. to insure profit.
    Here is the sad part... Profits are the rewards for the investors. So government takes a some. Then the profits are distributed to the investors and they pay taxes on those funds. Now you can better understand those great "profits" you hear that those big companies make. The net for distribution to shareholders is chump change.
  • Mar 9 2013: Sorry in new to this area of discussion I personally do think capitalism can work mostly because if the human factor the greed but from some of the things I have read so far there is some things people are forgetting and the biggest is the multinational company’s that siphon the money from there sales in America out of America and don’t pay any of the taxes that was what made capitalism and America great. Now it is left to the lower middle class and the poor to pay for all of Americas expenses because they are the only ones that do. And because of the deficit left by these multibillion dollar corporations not paying there fare share is is why we have to cut so many life dependent budgets
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      Mar 9 2013: Multibillion dollar corporations and the little hamburger joint down the street. All pay business taxes, fair share or not .... business don't pay any taxes. Their customers pay the taxes. The tax is included in the price of the product or service.

      So, if you vote for BP to pay more taxes.. . their "fair share"... you'll see it the next time you fill up for gas. Welcome to the real world.
      • Mar 9 2013: Wouldn’t that be the sales tax? But what about there tax on income earned? And we are paying the price at the pump just last month they raised the price .70 per gallon because they say its the summer blend but yet my gas mileage is the same. Besides if they pay there share we could lower taxes for all in the long run because more revenue would be coming in. and in doing so would generate more revenue because other company’s from over seas would see our lower taxes and large sales and move here
      • Mar 11 2013: Companies would pay their "fair share" through corporation tax, which is a percentage of their profits, so would not be paid by the customers at point of sale. It’s these large multi-national corporations using tax loop holes and claiming they make no profits by moving money around the world through their various corporations that are not paying their “fair share”. Tax should be paid into the tax system of the country in which the profit was made, off the backs of the working class people making, or providing their products and services.
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          Mar 11 2013: "corporation tax, which is a percentage of their profits, so would not be paid by the customers at point of sale"

          i recommend to think it through once more
  • Mar 8 2013: The relevant question is not the distribution of income. The relevant point is the morale of capitalistic behavior. Capitalism in itself is neither good nor bad, and uneven wealth distribution neither. But how to use wealth makes the difference.
    In the deepest capitalism of the late 19th Century one of the most important entrepreneurs in Germany Alfred Krupp said and lived the principle: that "solid, satisfied regular worker" are more important than the distribution of dividends, The actual foundation manager Beitz asked in November 2011 for the bicentennial anniversary: "The moral capitalism must be the foundation of our economic trade." And even in the actual crisis of this major steel conglomerate the discipline remains to live the mentioned principle rather than folllow short term unethical "capitalistic" exclusive shareholder driven behaviours.
    The second point I would like to add to this conversation relates to inheritance.
    The story in one reply of Mike Colera reads like this:"He spent days in his dorm room writing computer code for his new atari computer. They were the newest geek toys and he and his friends had a great time making apps to make this computer do things. Well, he and his friends dropped out of school and started a small business of writing code for computers. His father gave him some seed money to get him started. He had intellectual capital. He's Bill Gates". Great. But seed money is one thing, cementing wealth with kids who never contributed at all to generate any financial wealth, is an other aspect. If one criticize the distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor than one should also criticize the distribution of wealth from the parents to the (poor) kids.
  • Mar 8 2013: RE: Is capitalism sustainable?

    Which capitalism is sustainable? Wikipedia lists the following long list of capitalisms:

    Mercantilism, Free-market capitalism, Social-market economy, State capitalism, Corporate capitalism, Mixed economy capitalism, Anarcho-capitalism, Crony capitalism, Finance capitalism, Financial capitalism, Late capitalism, Neo-capitalism, Post-capitalism, Technocapitalism, Plutonomycapitalism, and Welfare capitalism.

    And, I would go so far as to add: Quantitatively-Eased capitalism, Private equity indebted capitalism, and Multinational corporate capitalism that under presidential executive order on Private-Public Partnership Act that sold control of US assets to the multinationals.

    So, which one are you using as the basis of this discussion?

    Over the last 30 years, big business has so intervened in government, to get government to intervene in business, to the advantage of the politically influential business over its competition and consumers, that it has already formed a plutonomy at the expense of the middle class, and an elite group of bankers who can do no wrong in their strive for fraud, knowing they will never be prosecuted.
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      Mar 8 2013: Let's apply the KISS principal. I like the program as defined by Alfred Smith all those years ago. All the variations you've list are simply outside influences trying to get a bite out of the capitalist apple... pardon the metaphor.
      Yes, there are individuals and governments and and and who try to get control of capitalists efforts for their benefit. Yes, there are frauds, con men, white crime practitioners. They simply strengthen my convictions about capital punishment.
      So, do we throw out the baby with the bath water? No. The people still have the vote, maybe not for long, but they can limit terms, add elected officials to bribery laws, petition for prosecution. If they will
      • Mar 8 2013: Your answer about throwing the baby out with the bath water ignores the fact that here has been a fundamental change in what was considered your Alfred Smith type traditional capitalism. Now, one has to question whether the hired management, who rig the business for bigger short-term compensation for themselves and their management team, have more control over the business than do the stockholders who own it and get stuck holding the losses when management's short-term efforts turn south. And when it does, management walks away with wealthy golden parachutes and leave everyone else to suffer for the greed of short-term profits.

        I can speak from experience as both a former GOP common councilman, who was elected during the Reagan administration, and as a retired marketing communications manager/art director for some of the leading corporations in their industries. The unwanted influence by business that I experienced as a common councilman ran counter to my efforts as a marketing manager for companies that benefited from government spending. So I experienced both sides of the scenario. Business intervening in government is good only within limits. All this intervention in government by business, either by socially based businesses, or by conservative and military based businesses, create such competition for government funds and regulations that benefit them, that we have reached a point where all this competition has stalemated congress. Many of our regulating agencies, like the SEC, are no longer effective at their basic function because of the intervention of the very businesses they are supposed to regulate. The financial crash of 2008 is a perfect example of this.

        I am not saying to throw captialism out, but rather to get back to the fundamentals that made it great. However, the question was, is it sustainable. The answer is, will it destroy itself in its evolution?
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          Mar 8 2013: You have addressed the problem. People have gotten into the system and turned it into their own feeding trough. Further, these same people have brought in politicians to help their cause.
          All true.
          So, simplistically, we have two choices.
          We can scrap capitalism and turn to any number of systems that are basically the same... one man or a small group tells everyone how to live, how to work and how to die. Surprisingly, a popular solution, if I read these conversations correctly.
          Or,
          Stockholders and voters can resume to do "due diligence" and throw the bums out, if not in jail. A simple solution, but surprisingly seemingly hard to do.
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      Mar 8 2013: the question asked this way is answered by ludwig von mises long ago. he concluded that any combination of central interventions and free market economy is unstable. interventions always have unwanted side effects which make other interventions necessary, and so on. you either have a free market, or you have central control. any other solution is temporary, and gravitates toward one extreme. sadly, usually gravitates to the central control side.
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        Mar 15 2013: There are OBVIOUS flaws in this 'reasoning' I am surprised you cannot see them!
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        Mar 15 2013: Think 'premis'. Question 'premis' . Then maybe you can see the flaw.
  • Mar 7 2013: Capital is the currency for comfort and leisure. Thus the object of some is to accumulate wealth by any means. That's why there are wars, famines and shortages, someone is making a profit.
    We've tried the individualist route and unless I'm mistaken, it only works for a few. So a collectivist approach should be looked at.
    Unfortunately the debate about alternatives is stifled at best or completely ignored at its worst by the media.
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      Mar 7 2013: the core of all collectivist approaches is beating dissenters into submission. are you fully aware of this burden? are you ready to take responsibility of destroying dreams and lives, in the name of the collective? or you dismiss that and you look the other way instead?
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      Mar 15 2013: Lol. Craig! 'Capital is the currency of comfort and leisure'??? So a chimp in the wild never knows comfort or leisure? Are you trying to say,you think exploitation is the only means by which we can attain happiness? I think we could find many communities on the planet, even today, who would provide witness to the fact, your statement is a sad testiment to the propaganda fed to you by the control group in your own society.
  • Mar 7 2013: The Venus Project (Google it) shows an idea of what society could be like without capitalism. Eventually humanity will realize for its own sake that something like the Venus project will be needed if we are to survive as a race.

    Yes capitalism is fully entrenched at this moment especially in the western world, but with much effort it could be changed if humanity had enough desire to do so.

    We forget nothing on this earth is lasting or etched in stone as the be all system or thing. However humans resist change and with limited time facing so many people just trying to survive, change would be very hard at this point.

    Still, The Venus project gives us all a glimpse of what is so far the closest vision so far that seems workable for all.
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      Mar 7 2013: and here we go again
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      Mar 8 2013: Technocracy, that old chestnut. My question. "Why are there so many people out there that feel they need someone to tell them how to live their lives. Didn't Plato start it all? Go back and read them all. Every one of them has the same song. "If I or people like me were in charge, the world would be full of peace and tranquility.
      There would be no want or disease." All we have to do is exactly what they say and when they say it.
      Why would anyone want to live without the freedom to live their lives, make their mistakes and relish their success.
      PS. the few times those who claimed social superiority and came to lead their societies... it didn't turn out so well. You can google that.
      • Mar 15 2013: Mike,
        I'm a TV & Satellite distribution engineer. Most of my customers aren't aware of the choices they have at their disposal. They trust me with the advice that I give and the work that I do. Most of my work is repeat work or recommendations. I am a specialist, they can trust me to do the right thing for them. My customers don't need to understand bit error rates, modulation and carrier to noise ratios.
        That is what is needed by our politicians, the problem is they are all capitalists and think that their positions merit reward, not always for actions.
  • Mar 7 2013: To those thinking "It is impossible to live with the capitalism and sustainable society" you guys are thinking it's the wrong way. We are in the computer age, soon we will be in 3D printer and Space Mining age. We are not in the dark age anymore. Please think differently, most of the rules have changed.

    There is only free manual labors soon, There are no longer any need for cheap labors like those found in china or india, . Robots will replace them along with our soldiers.
    Most Brick Store will soon be replaced by online store and 3D printers.

    Dividing money of the rich to remove the poor class. It will never work, because they are not mentally mature or make educated decision to handle those kind of money. Just like those lottery winners who won millions. they end up losing it all in just a few years. Those money is more than enough to run a Small Country!!!.

    Education and Technology
    Without Education there is no Technology which in turn no Sustainable society.
    Sustainable society where poverty is eradicated is possible, when poverty are define as lack of food, basic needs, shelter and Education.
    As our technology advances and scale up, so will our food, energy and living space we needed to provide the basic human necessities and Education for family to thrive and have better life and better place in society.

    As technology and Education advances, everything will go automatic. Robots will provide the basic workforce to lunch our society forward. Designer/artist, innovators, Engineers/programmer and scientist to name a few will be the norm of everyone jobs.
    As our society get more advance, we will reach closer to this day. Thus ending poverty
  • Mar 7 2013: There's no capitalism where the income distribution of people is not Pareto-like because there's always been SUCCESS LAW or SUCCESS PRINCIPLE or kind of like that.

    It's not a problem whether they are right/wrong, better/worse, or even statistically valid or not.

    The problem is THE ASYMMETRICITY OF THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE LAW/PRINCIPLE etc.
    INFORMTION ASYMMETRICITY leads to a situation, that is, some people believe it or even put in practice while the others don't.

    There probably be several reason for the wealth inequality, but I think this is the most crucial reason.
  • Mar 7 2013: It's impossible to live with the capitalism AND a sustainable society. That's because, in it's origin, capitalism is to divide in unfair portion all the wealth. That's the truth, but it doesn't mean that we can't make it work a little better. Eradicate poverty is a hard task, and I think it's not building a consumer society, where there's too many people doing it, the better way to solve those issues.
    After all, world population is growing in geometrical patterns, and the food we produce is properly measured by arithmetical scale. What can we do? CHANGE some of our foolish beliefs, for example, think about humanity in opposition of the way we think today: individually and in some cases, being victims of an awful greed as nothing matters but only ourselves .
  • Mar 6 2013: With the possiblity of sounding ingnorant, could someone explain exactly what capitalism is? I have my own opinions on this but if we are commenting on the sustainability of an ideal, then should we not then all be commenting on a common understanding of the ideal?
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      Mar 7 2013: Maybe you will understand a story.
      Years ago, there was this man who enjoyed backyard parties with his neighbors. He'd grill up burgers and dress them the usual toppings and mix of ketchup and mustard and stuff. His neighbors really thought his burgers were good and told him he should go into business.
      So he did. He borrowed some money on his house, rented a building on a busy street, bought some meat, buns and stuff and even hired a couple of kids to help him. He sat down and figured out that if he priced his burgers for a quarter and could sell 100 a day, he would make enough money to pay his loan, pay the kids working for him, buy more food and would have enough money to take home to support his wife and kids.
      If he did not, he would have to let the kids go, maybe lose his house and live on burger for only a few months. Scary.
      Anyway, he opened his burger joint and soon he was selling over a thousand burgers a day. He couldn't believe it. He had these huge profits from his burger stand. So, he paid off all his loans and had money leftover to build another burger stand. Soon, two stands and two thousand burgers a day. Well, he keep building more burger joints and earning more money from sales. In a few years, he had so many burger stands he couldn't keep up. At this time, a major investment group approached him and offered to buy his business for millions of dollars. He accepted and became a storied character in the history of capital success. His name was Ray Kroc. There is the story of this college kid who didn't like to go to class.
      He spent days in his dorm room writing computer code for his new atari computer. They were the newest geek toys and he and his friends had a great time making apps to make this computer do things. Well, he and his friends dropped out of school and started a small business of writing code for computers. His father gave him some seed money to get him started. He had intellectual capital. He's Bill Gates
      • Mar 7 2013: Thanks for the stories Mike. However they don't provide a common definition for capitalism. Myself, I am a self employed Canadian, many of my friends are also self employed. I am not riich financially but am so rich in many other ways.

        I think that capitalism like many ideals is open to interpretation.

        During a course dealing with communication we broke into groups of 10 people. Each group was then given a word and we were all asked write a descripton of what the word meant to us. I know I and the rest of the class were surprised at how very different the answers were, even for simple words.

        So without a common definition the comments we get are highly subjective to the posters reality and their understanding of what capitalism is.

        I personally believe that some people confuse the pursuit of power and control over others as an integral part of capitalism.

        I don't think the two are related idealogically. However human nature being what it is, the pursuit of power and control over others seems to be a driving force for many and the potential financial rewards possible from capitalistic ventures make that easier to acheive.

        I consider myself a capitalist, in that I mean I benefit directly from the effort I put into my life. I don't depend on others for their charity and frankly don't welcome it. I don't aspire to control others, but that is my choice.

        What are the alternatifves?
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          Mar 7 2013: Jim, you have just defined capitalism. You are living it. Why make it more complicated then it is.
          It is just an individual taking his capital that could be financial, intellectual, physical, whatever and using it to create a product or service that he could market at a profit. Now the profit is important. Without the profit, the capitalist can not continue to exist.
          Now here is the big picture that all those anti-capitalist don't see.
          Most people do not want to be capitalist. I for one do not want to risk my capital, because if I am wrong or make a mistake, I could loose everything. So, I want to get guaranteed employment from a capitalist. I want to help him make a profit so he can give me my salary.
          Most people are like me, we just want to work for our living.
          Now most of the "criticism of big corporations , you hear is mostly noise..
          OK, lets take BP. You have heard of it. One of the biggest energy companies in the world.
          What is it. It is thousands of capitalist who have pooled their resources, hired managers and employed tens of thousands of employees to provide a product at a profit. Now, you have heard that BP makes too much profit. I don't know what that means. What is too much profit. When you make a big profit one month are you guilty for your "sales"?
          Profit is a function of cost vs. sales Some will say that BP should give their profits to the poor. OK, I want you to take all your net profit and give them to your favorite charity. Do that for a year. Are you still in business? Would you want to be in business if you couldn't make a profit. Neither would the investors in BP.
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          Mar 7 2013: One point I didn't address is that there are individuals involved in the capitalist process that are... greedy, manipulative, larcenous, just despicable in every sense of the word.. they violate rules, regulations and laws. I know there are such individuals, I have seen their actions. What I don't understand is that they are seldom punished. That is one phenomenon that I just can't fathom.
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      Mar 7 2013: common definition is: the means of production (capital = tools, machines, etc) is in private hands, subject to the usual property rights including freedom to use, sell, destroy, lend, rearrange and all other possible uses. the fruits of using capital becomes the property of the owner of the capital.
  • Mar 6 2013: Okay, I was gonna be silent on the issue thinking that more intelligent voices would be heard and I could probably learn something. I haven't. With a few exceptions, I just heard the same arguments vomited forth over and over so here’s my food stamp worth of thought.
    No, capitalism is not sustainable nor is it natural. Nor does it innately encourage "advancement". We've thoughtlessly tossed about terms like 'wealth', 'progress', ad nauseum without considering what’s happening here.
    First, wealth is ALWAYS a quantifier not a qualifier. What I mean is that like the word poverty it has no intrinsic value without its opposing compliment. Wealth obliges poverty and the eradication of one necessitates the end of the other.
    Second, if scientific and/or technological progress result in the loss of vitality, spiritual, mental or physical health or human empathy is not progress its a trap.
    Third, nobody ever created a single thing worth having for the sake of money. Bridges were built because there was a need to get to the other side of an obstacle not because someone would pay for it. Necessity has always been the Mother of Invention.
    The problem is that capitalism is innately consumptive not creative, and it isn’t the epitome of competition so many claim it is. Too easily capitalism lends itself to corruption (institutional or otherwise). Capitalism has FUNDED as many atrocities as advancements and its advancements haven't inspired anything that didn't pertain to the bottom line. There are other models that do not fall into the fluid concepts of capitalism, communism or socialism. Deep Ecology, High Empathy, and Gift Economy are examples of economic and social alternatives to prevalent economic models that doesn't leave us spinning on a barren rock stripped of all resource. These alternative will require a major paradigm shift however requiring a major activating event so the real question is can we change ourselves before change is imposed on us.
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      Mar 7 2013: So are you down on intellectual wealth?
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    Mar 6 2013: Scott! Fair enough. Let's talk about the TEA party and all the ill will you expressed about the Military and Capitalism and and and.
    The TEA party (and it's not really a party) is a political policy that addresses the waste of tax dollars by the Federal Government.
    And then you speak of all the wondrous cabinet agencies, I lost count after twenty and let's not mention the various czars hanging around. HUD a cabinet agency that spent billions of dollars building some of the greatest slums in the country. Who can forget the Department of Education. Created so the federal government could get involved in local school systems. Under their leadership our public education levels have fallen from one of the best in the world to below many third world impoverished countries. But they did provide college loans. So here we are tens of thousands of Sociology majors working at McDonalds with nearly a trillion dollars of student loan debt. Department of Energy getting into investments in new green energy factories who failed faster then they could cash the government checks. Oh, and we bailed out GM,
    well, no, we screwed the old GM investors out of billions and we are about to do the same to the US taxpayers with the new GM.
    I can go on with hundreds of pages of wasted tax money, but we only have 2000 characters. So enough about the TEA party.
    You have addressed all the bad of capitalism so well and you propose alternative models to do what?
    High Empathy? Gift Economy?
    Consider this. Once you have distributed all the financial wealth equally, who pays the next tax requirement. Everybody? Will the Jihadist really accept empathy?
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    Mar 6 2013: I'm confused. Why is there this great hue and cry to gather individuals for the greater good of the society. Capitalism is a method of creating wealth be it financial, intellectual, physical, etc. for individuals. I know of no other system that is so centered on the individual.
    I like individuals, I am one. I relish the fact that I am free to do what I want to do. Now, I realize that a great number of individuals got together and decided that my right to swing my fist stops at the beginning of my neighbor's nose. OK, that's fair. I am thinking about my nose.
    What's all this about "the greater good" of society. I understand that a group of individuals get together and agree to some rules so they all can do their thing. BUT, it seems in reading history, that every time that happens, it isn't long before some one comes along and wants to be in charge and then tells everyone what HE wants them to do.
    In the writing of the US Constitution, they tried to come up with a way that everyone could do their own thing and prevent someone to come along and take over, but over the years, the "dictators in waiting" have been chipping away at the constitution so that soon they will be able to take charge and lead us to the "Greater Good"
    What's this about poverty? Poverty is those who I think have less then me and the one per centers are those who I think have more then me. Poverty is a state of mind, where wants over whelms needs and causes anxiety.
    Now there are people that do not have water, food, shelter and are truly poor. They are a whole other conversation.
  • Mar 6 2013: Why not. But any other alternative is worser than what we already have. Unfortunately we see our success and failures in a narrow band of the recent failures. Equally in other controlled societies like Singapore for example it had been a great success. Need to think how this can be made more inclusive and mature rather about inventing something new which may not be anything better.
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      Mar 6 2013: Let's see, equality in a controlled society however well successful? That is one for my oxymoron list.
  • Mar 6 2013: I think capitalism has outdated itself in the 21st century, we need to come up with a better system that makes us all rich like the 1%% at the top.
  • Mar 5 2013: Yes, it is we have a twink government though, tax the rich more so it twiddles down and balances are economy.
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      Mar 6 2013: Twiddle Dee or twiddle dumb. All the taxes we currently get from the "rich" doesn't twiddle down and balance the economy. It twiddles over and grows the government. That is why we have high unemployment and falling median incomes.
  • Mar 5 2013: It seems people are poor because they are passive participants - Rich are scared to empower them for fears of increase in competition, forgetting that empowerment triggers creativity - that can nurture and strengthen them and the society !! True Capitalism seems free competition, active participation !! Education to empowerment seems the answer - sustained capitalism - Creative competition,transcended fears -empowerment to all without rich sharing riches ;)
  • Mar 5 2013: Ronny is spot on; I was reading Wendell Berry last night (The Unsettling of America, 1934), where he was talking about the resposibility of consumers and how no one ever talks about that. Well, Ron does... :)

    And the tax thing; in my country the biggest tax dodgers have wrapped themselves in flags and crow about patriotism. But Ben Franklin (these tea party types love the founding fathers) said the only patriotic duty left to those who would not or could not serve militarily, was to pay their taxes. These same tea party folk also carry on about bringing the country back to Jesus, as if it was ever was (Jefferson, Franklin, and most particularly Madison were all atheist, Washington was a deist who attended EVERY church in Washington, including the synagogue), but that inconvenient "As you do for the least of these" has turned into "47% mooching off the rest of us". WWJD? I guess he would close the borders, buy a gun and hunker in the bunker, to here these people tell the story...

    Seems that the Bible is now inconvenient truth, or at least the only parts that seem worth saving (to a heathen like me anyway) are the ones being discarded. Seems that any petty, selfish thought can be dressed up in an Uncle Sam costume and made not just palatable, but sought out. Seems it is worth dragging not just our economy, but the whole planets', to a standstill. All to keep from giving some money for the general good. Seems these folks talk a mean game of Christianity, but they sure can't walk the walk...

    And Dave, we have never had a class of people our societies haven't created, either intentionally or not. So class structure is a human creation and greed is a human choice. Even small donations can change lives for the better. Charity has had it's own issues, but new models are coming of age; my wife and I are committing a day of earning every month to Kiva after watching Jess' amazing TED talk; THIS could well be part of the answer...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqj0sgrNL1
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      Mar 5 2013: Really, the TEA Party?
      Here I thought their biggest grip was about continually raising taxes to spend on waste, fraud and abuse. And what really ticked them off were new programs that could be froth with more waste, fraud and abuse.
      • Mar 6 2013: Depends on where exactly that Tea Party is; in Arizona it's about immigration, or in Florida, all they ever seem to talk about is how the laws protecting mannatees are hurting their time to get to open sea in their boats. But taxes, ANY taxes, seem to be the big issue. They want to cut HUD, WIC and the Department of Education, but for what? "Do it for our children." Brilliant.

        I'n not saying that deficit spending works or is preferable over a balanced budget, but this ain't balancing the household checkbook, we are running a country here. And occasionally that means deficit spending to maintain social stability. We had eliminated hunger in the U.S. in the 70's; along comes Saint Ronny the Immaculate in 1980 and bam! Hunger is back. And it hasn't gone away since, because the military eats poor people's food. Try talking cutting defence (the vast majority of our budget, over 60%) with the TP folk and watch how you become a commie-pinko liberal for even suggesting a cut, let alone say a program like WIC stays (less than a percent of U.S. budget). They talk out of both sides of their mouth, cut the social programs (peanuts) but leave defense (meat AND potatoes) alone. What is wrong with that picture?

        It suggests (correctly I think) that currently capitalism is not sustainable in the U.S. without militarism, and that is the road to fascism. Capitalism is an inherent part of fascism; it is simply a dictatorship without a military-industrial complex. And when you have governing bodies like the last U.S. regime, partaking in the planetary arms trade (Bush, GHW and GW are board mebers for the Carlyle Group, an investment group specializing in armament; check out the roster of members), we are further yet down that road. Weapons remain, as they pretty much have since the end of WWII, the chief export of the U.S. How is that sustainable without continued war? Where is the incentive for peace? And why are people suprised when we end up in prolonged conflict in this country?
  • Mar 5 2013: We could possibly eradicate poverty but that doesn't mean there won't be a lower, middle and upper class. Capitalistic incentives and self interests will most likely always result in some people having more than others. We could increase the velocity of poverty being eradicated if society used the same principles of capitalistic incentives and self interests with social causes as it does wealth creation. What if people could concentrate on eradicating poverty, even dedicate their lives to it, and know they and their family will have security in the future because of it? That would create an environment that allows different new ideas and more involvement to accomplish that goal much quicker.

    Thanks for reading and your feedback.
    Dave
    www.RepaySomeday.com
  • Mar 5 2013: "would the world keep running without capitalistic incentives that increase the separation between rich and poor?"

    The incentives of capitalism are twofold as I understand them. By the return from one's efforts being directly linked TO one's efforts, one is motivated not only to increase one's efforts for material gain itself, but also for the prestige of material gain. They need not increase the separation between rich and poor and have indeed not always done so. In the United States, the gap between rich and poor was decreasing for a number of years until somewhere around 1970, I believe. This should be easily researched. I believe it was achieved largely through collective bargaining and through quite a strong graduated income tax, but also through other types of legislation and a fostering by society of the values of honor and charity, among others. It is said that it was also largely due to the echoing influence of the self discipline inspired by the need to go all out to win WWII which was only accomplished with the cooperation of a large proportion of the population. This impressively large proportion of the population had gained not only a work ethic stronger than the one it would have had otherwise, but also impressive work training. Plus, due to mortality from the war, the labor force was more in demand than usual. This always tends to spread the wealth as it did in Europe after the large die offs from the Black Plague in the Middle Ages. All of this is off the top of my head. This sort of thing is pretty common knowledge among those who are reasonably well educated. It pains me that these sorts of things seem to be so little understood today, for this leads to needless consternation. A well rounded education is supposed to provide such understanding.
    • Mar 14 2013: The incentive for a capitalist is money and how to make it, preferably, the easiest way possible.
      Despite being practically bankrupt after WW11 we created a National Health Service, in the UK, based on need and not the size of your pocket, a socialist thing. We are now sleepwalking into a privatised, profit driven model.
      It's a pity it took a plague and a world war to improve things.
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    Mar 5 2013: What does it take to imagine a solution? What does it take to make a transition? How are "YOU" (yes the person reading this) going to make things better today? Thoughts>Words>Actions>Change . I found a very inspiring little lesson http://ed.ted.com/on/NTwRKjCq which talks about a principal called power functions in networks. This can accelerate a solution.
  • Mar 4 2013: In my opinion, as a Socio-Economic system Capitalism in its purest form is not a complete or sustainable system. There must be a proper blend of Socialist concepts and practices into a predominantly Capitalist society in order to try to attain the most amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. You cannot really create much that was not already there in some form or another, thermodynamically speaking you cannot introduce create energy you can only change its form. There is no way to have a small number of people hold the lions share of the wealth while somehow eradicating poverty. I am by no means opposed to Capitalism, i love it but it is incomplete. Things such as Food, Housing, Education and Healthcare should be provided as a basis for life while layering the system with the Capitalist principles of harder work brings greater rewards. It would in effect be a blend of two systems to produce a complete one.
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    Mar 4 2013: Capitalism is sustainable.

    Bono is wrong.

    China and East Asia costs will rise. Africa and India will follow as cheap work force and after Africa costs rise Latin America (except Brasil may be) will take place.
    The whole process will take around 100 years.
    Capitalism is sustainable.
  • Mar 4 2013: Dunno... robots and a clean, reliable and sufficiently potent energy source. Yep easy answer. Robots do manual labor, then there is no laborer class anymore. What all those people will do with their time I cannot say, but that is the most feasible and likely way in which this might happen.
    • Mar 14 2013: 200 years ago the Luddites were smashing the looms that mechanised their jobs. There are currently 200 million people worldwide unemployed. So under capitalism and the mechanisation removing the need for labour, it clearly is unsustainable.
  • Mar 3 2013: Most of humanities history has been tribal egalitarian. Whats remarkable about tribal life is that it is not a state of desperate want like you will find in the slums or sweatshops of our civilized existence. The life of an Indian is a continual holiday, compared with the poor; On the other hand it appears to be abject when compared to the rich civilized man. Civilization therefore has caused the disparity of wealth we find so remarkable.

    Should we call an economic system that leaves people in desperate want acceptable, fair, free? I think to preserve the benefits of what is called civilized life, and to remedy at the same time the evil which it has produced, ought to be the economic goals.
  • Mar 3 2013: Capitalism is at least partially based on:
    1. perpetual consumption
    2. perpetual growth

    we also see this pattern in cancer
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      Mar 3 2013: Cancer?
      I see evolution.
      Let's define capitalism.
      You got to a workplace every day and perform certain tasks and at the end of the week you get a check for an agreed upon amount of pay for your services. Most of us do that.
      A few of us, gather all the capital they can, by making loans, asking others, putting all they have and can get into a workplace, with materials, tools, and hires the most of us to make a product or provide a service
      that they can market to anyone who might purchase that product or service at a price that returns a profit.
      Regardless of sales, those few must pay for the workplace, the material, tools and his employees at the agreed upon costs. If no profit, those few loose everything. not only all their investments but the investments of others who believed in their success. It has been recorded that 97 out of 100 of these few lose. The surprising thing is that the employees, the real estate people, the tool manufactures, material suppliers, the money people all have a number of legal protections to cushion the loss caused by failure of those few. A failed capitalist can't even draw unemployment insurance.
      Why do you berated those who provide most of us a living, agreed some better then others, at the risks that they face?
      • Mar 15 2013: You might find "The ragged trousered philanthropist" a good read, set 100years ago.
        Who's providing who with a living?
        Those poor people at the top risking their money just so that we can work.
        Work to live or live to work, I know which one I'd prefer.
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      Mar 3 2013: how do you plan to stop "perpetual consumption"? maybe we should give nukes to iran after all. it is very good against consumption.
      • Mar 3 2013: Marketers sometimes play on our emotional triggers to get us to buy more than what we need. So marketing can be partially blamed for perpetual consumption.
      • Mar 3 2013: I've been convinced to buy something that I later regretted, yes. Most people make unnecessary purchases because they are led to believe it will do something for them or make them feel some way.

        Not that I buy crap off of infomercials but that kind of advertising would be an example of how people get led to believe they should buy something they don't really need.
      • Mar 3 2013: I have a problem with lying, yes.
        • Mar 4 2013: Do you have problems with someone like Assad, Putin, Mugabe, and some of the "leaders in Somalia, Sudan or even Argentina. Or you don't think they are lying with their citizens?
          Do you mind to ask these "slum dwellers" here if they desire to move to these countries because there are less marketing theanhere in the US?
          Even in the Indian villages, people are still subjected to some "marketing" by street venders. But whether or not you buy the commodity is still up to you. If you can afford the buying due to the "lying" promotion, that wouldn't harm you very much. However, if you can't afford it and were persuaded to buy the commodity, then you should at least share the "evil" event due to your own weak willpower!
          Human interactions always involve some lying, promotion, and exaggeration because that programed in human nature. So as I see it, to blame the marketing promotion is just a one-sided view of something that has been programed into human nature including yours.
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        Mar 3 2013: Perpetual Consumption?
        You are pulling my chain aren't you ? Life is perpetual consumption!!
  • Mar 3 2013: We live in societies and a physical realm of change and strife (inc. the necessity of chemical reactions; death and morbido/libido); therefore, no economic system is -ultimately- sustainable on an indefinite time-scale. OP (that is, Luke Hutchinson), what time-scale are you considering? Forgive me if you've already indicated this elsewhere; it's a question with many answers despite my poverty of time.
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    Mar 2 2013: I often equate capitalism with highly competitive sport where only the best prevail. If we take sports as an analogy and good old American baseball as an example within and take pitching within that, we all could agree that the best pitcher ups a teams advantage to win. To be best, the starting pitcher needs to have a gun of an arm and have pitching variations and sustain this arm power for at least 6 innings before he runs out of steam and gets relief. Moreover, he needs to sustain it over the course of a long MLB season. How hard a pitcher can throw and how often he pitches is limited by the tendency to get injured. There is of course a limit imposed by biology on even the strongest of pitchers. Even the best need rest. Therefore injuries act as a balance point for speed in pitching. (No doubt, the hard throwing closers are meant only to last a max of 2 - 3 innings. Beyond that it is injury zone for the pitcher and this in turn compromises the starting rotation and the bullpen.) That is why bb managers take great care in this regard over the course of a long season. The best manager (and this gets really true for post-season bb) is the one that calls for an adroit balance between the vital factors of talent, power, speed, injury, and rest. And this is true for all of sport. Similarly, high speed reckless capitalism as we see it today is highly prone to injuring itself as well as the system.
    • Mar 14 2013: Your analogy is somewhat flawed. You don't take into account the lying, cheating and desires by the wealthier clubs to snap up all the talent, as happens here in the UK, with our football.
      Advocates of capitalism appear to have some kind of romantic notion that we live in a meritocracy and that supply and demand takes a natural course and is not fixed.
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        Mar 15 2013: Of course, I agree Craig that sport itself has its share of cronyism where many a time wealthier clubs use brutal money power, the NY Yankess being one such example to have done it throughout the history of the majors in their journey to a plethora of pennants and WS titles. But there is something called charter in every sport and this charter precisely acts as a deterrent against cronyism or at least supposed to on paper. And this charter works as the corrective mechanism and goes good ways towards leveling the field in this physical realm of human endeavor (sport) where only the best is supposed to prevail. Sport (along with its charter of fair play) can also be our teacher in this regard as to how to regulate capitalism from crossing that thin gray line separating genuine excellence from cronyism. Thanks for ur response. Dr Sivaram Hariharan, Bhaarath (India)
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    Mar 1 2013: Yes it is sustainable as their is no practicing alternative in the world. Note the so-called communist countries who now practice it having abandoned any appearance otherwise. These countries notably Russia and China..boast of their Billionaires. Who would have thought such a thing possible as late as the 70's. Poverty and menial jobs are not just side effects or creation of Capitalism...but are necessary because so many people either are not given a good education or do not take advantage of that opportunity and therefore have no skills that would pay them a higher salary. For years this was certainly the case in the poor Black areas as schools were filled with low scoring teachers who provided a poor education, which restricted them to poor paying jobs as they were not prepared for higher education, or where emphasis was on trades (per Booker T. Washington), which was "low-paid labor". This restricted them to remaining in the same poor neighborhoods,(Blackcodes aside which made it illegal to sell houses to Blacks in "good' neighborhoods), raising children in those same poor neighborhoods and their children attending the same poor schools, receiving the same poor education they did. It was and is by design a vicious cycle. Now drugs have replaced trades as the alternative to education as a source of income. The result is the same. I think it is however more insidious that the cities to avoid adequately paying teachers in poor neighborhoods, use those funds to support Charter schools which exist as for profit enterprises to break the teachers unions, deprive them of jobs and do not require instructors to even have a education degree as a requirement to teach.
  • Feb 27 2013: To-- Luke,
    You stated that "Personally I wish that nobody had to work menial jobs."

    I don't think that eradicating poverty is possible in today's US capital based society.
    The argument that there is no better system, is false.
    There really is, but we must lead congress to the right answer.

    Corporate and Political reforms are unpopular, and our Congress must
    first be convinced to act to correct our basic system of Commerce.
    Elimination of Limited Liability Laws, the carrot to keep successful
    Corporations within US borders. They have been copied by foreign nations,
    who daily offer successful Corporations larger carrots.

    And Congress must somehow be convinced to eliminate nation-wide
    those 24/7/365 Lobbies which have paved the way to political riches
    with their golden bribes.
    An Example--
    The 1974 ERISA Act allowed pension fund savings to be taxed upon retirement when
    the retiree might be in a lower tax bracket. Banks, Insurance Corporations, and
    Financial Funds of every ilk, armed with a 10% penalty for early withdrawals ran
    daily full page ads for individual retirement account savings.

    It took about 20 years of intense Wall Street Bank Lobby efforts to get the Banks deregulated.
    Quickly Banks were solicited to invest into those murky High Risk circular Investments of Wall Street. .

    We call that -- a Bail Out of Banks that were deemed To Big to Fail.
    I call it, Jesse James rides again.

    Major University Law graduates head for Washington to get rich quick, and they have.
    Intel-Politicians, are today, actually rewriting 250 years of world history since 1760.
    (Better get an older world history book now, before they disappear, because they will.)

    However, unless the Media can become the people's willing partner, it cannot be done.
    Only 2 political parties select electable Politicians that run for office. Two choices only.
    The media works ONLY for the 2 political parties that pay their advertising bills 24/7/365.
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    Feb 27 2013: This must be done. We need only determine what the captial cost of the envirinment is, then actual cost to the envorinment would be obvious. There are exceptions, of course, Nuclear waste damage would have to be taken as a capital loss as it is virtually permananet. And we could never measure the human cost. If everyone died a year too soon, we would have the loss of almost 7 billion years of human production lost.

    It must be shown that anything else but full cosideration of environmental input is unethical, even a criminal act.
  • Comment deleted

    • Feb 27 2013: Carolyn,

      You struck a nerve about "we believe in competition".
      Yup, we do. Another sale was made sometime ago.
      Capitalism is competition for the almighty dollar. No doubt about it.

      Did you know?
      There are people who believe that competition is not good.
      And go so far as to manufacture non-competitive games for kids.

      I think that there is a place in our society for this type of thought.
  • Feb 27 2013: Ummm.It is a really good question.When I found how profound the education to affect the society.I started to devote myself to the teaching job at school.And I found the education has the closest relationship with politics.Then I started to pay attention to political information.I am patient to read political news,speeches.I am very delighted to see to improve middle class income in United state.I can read a lots of ideas which pay so much attention to larger people's benefit ahead of rich class's,pay so much attention to weak groups' welfare:old people and young kids.And very clever plan is United State start to invest in preschool education.I feel excited when I read them from internet.Infact it doesn't matter capitalism or communist,as long as all people's educaiton can be improved day by day,once people have good education,they will not have bias about what jobs are menial or noble.they know once they want to see their values in their lives:working is a must.it means we are all happy to work.Then a harmonious and peaceful world will be closer and closer to us step by step.Oh,guys,that's very beautiful we are lookingforward to it.But It isn't the right time be ready yet.maybe after one hundred or two ,three.....or longer time.But we must be positive to the direction.And only education it does help the most:)
    • Mar 7 2013: In the UK we educate the majority to pass tests and in a few schools they teach them how to run a country.
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    Feb 27 2013: The question becomes very fundamental when we take all forms of capital in question. Plus the in the form we see Capitalism now, the divide between poor and rich is a normal outcome not a defect. Moreover, Capitalism in its present form is inefficient to say the least.
    The problem seems to be the inherent inability of the neo-classical economics in the Capitalist models of Market Economy to account for the long term ecological costs on present economic activities. While ‘Degrowthists’ forsake such models altogether, Natural Capitalism seeks to account for such costs. Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins in their 1999 book named Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution” said, (the traditional ‘Industrial’ Capitalism) “does not fully conform to its own accounting principles. It liquidates its capital and calls it income. It neglects to assign any value to the largest stocks of capital it employs- the natural resources and living systems, as well as the social and cultural systems that are the basis of human capital.” They also asked fundamental questions like: What would our economy look like if it fully valued all forms of capital? What if our economy were organized not around the abstractions of neoclassical economics and accountancy but around the biological realities of nature? What if Generally Accepted Accounting Practice booked natural and human capital not as a free amenity in inexhaustible supply but as a finite and integrally valuable factor of production? What if in the absence of a rigorous way to practice such accounting, companies started to act as if such principles were in force?
    You may like to check my blog posts here:
    http://pabitraspeaks.com/limits-to-growth-and-beyond-part-ii/
    http://climatechange.thinkaboutit.eu/think4/post/the_wealth_question_in_climate_change/
    http://climatechange.thinkaboutit.eu/think4/post/climate_change_and_future_of_economics_-_can_we_put_nature_on_balance_sheet
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    Feb 27 2013: No sir. Capitalism is a failure and only works for 'upper-class' of the pyramid. And by upper class I mean bankers and people who understand how to exploit bugs in this system.

    IMHO Capitalism is same as 'Ponzi scheme'. Only difference is when this bubble bursts (Corporation paid) politicians run to bail banks out :). Meanwhile media keeps people entertaining.

    Idea of 'healthy capitalism' is a flawed one from its core... as Capitalism promises an annual growth which is impossible due to limited resources and infrastructures (you can always invade other countries but it is a temporary option).

    Capitalism always leads to crises. Crises leads to war. Capitalists finances both (or multiple) sides and hence story continues. [i.e.: Great Depression]
    • Feb 27 2013: Kareem,

      You've won the coveted HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

      Your complete understanding is unique.
      Did you know Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme?
      The ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs, a wall street firm, was sentenced to 2 years for his mistakes.

      The ex-US Treasury Secretary also another ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs convinced Congress
      almost overnight that the bubble had burst, and the only way to save us all was to empty our
      Treasury and send a $Trillion Dollars to Bail Out those To Big to Fail Banks. We are still sending
      the Banks, and others, Bail Outs.

      Most of these politicians were lawyers, graduates of Harvard, and some even ran that University.
      It wouldn't take a lot of convincing to make this all into a conspiracy.
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    Gail .

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    Feb 27 2013: You might want to consider this relevant TED talk:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html
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    Feb 27 2013: Capitalism is indeed sustainable and I have no hesitation in saying that it the backbone of human society and human nature itself. One can make a powerful analogy with water in nature. In the natural world, environmental health is maintained only if there is a balance between freely flowing and water that is held. (Water is the currency for many natural systems and almost all places need water for sustenance and all places also need some water to be held for its own purposes. Also, stagnant water has the risk of becoming toxic and a breeding zone for vermin. ) If either of these two goes out of balance, environmental viability of any niche is affected. And water needs a gradient to flow. In the same vein, there should be a fine balance between the free flow and holding of money in society. Also, money needs a gradient to flow and that gradient is provided by capitalism. Whereas communism asks for flow of money and prosperity without being held at any place and many a time requires illogical financial gradients in its quest for resource equality, hardcore capitalism asks for money being held in selective places and only allows for a trickle in the lowest part of the money hill. A balance of between this flow and hold and having logical financial gradients makes good logic and sense for all times and places. Above all, these financial gradients should also make for ethical and moral sense. Dr Sivaram Hariharan, Bhaarath (India)
  • Feb 27 2013: Is capitalism sustainable?
    I'm tired tonight and will take this from off the top of my head.

    NO,
    unless the US Congress can water down both Corporate and Political
    Limited Liability Laws or abolish them completely.

    Congress must find a way to control or eliminate lobbies,
    before our capitalistic system of commerce eats itself into oblivion.

    Capitalism infects -
    All Executive Branches of Government, US Presidents
    and their Administrations, 50 State Governments, their
    Counties, Cities, and every Town in this nation.

    All these US Governments are protected by Capitalism--
    Insurance, Corporate and Political Limited Liability Laws,
    plus collective bargaining agreements with Employee Unions.

    Lest we forget hidden US government Capitalism in action--
    'non-government' Association and Corporate memberships.
    Members being US Government past and present Executives
    and other Employees. These Associations blur the roles of
    US Government Executives and Employees and provide no
    transparency at all, and instead are ripe with non-safeguards
    for our nation's citizens.

    Capitalism history, aka: They called it a Bail Out.--
    The Banking Industry in the 1960's was prohibited from investing
    public and private retirement funds into leveraged high risk investments
    such as wall street's circular investment schemes.
    After 30 intense years of lobbying, the Banks were deregulated.

    The US government today, still sends to the Banks Bail Out money.

    Go figure.

    Extra-- A recent example of Capitalism in government--
    Some Federal Government Department's when exposed to
    sequestration, could only find budget cuts through advising
    lower level employees of likely furloughs, and 4 day work weeks.
    Plus cutting of services to citizen beneficiaries. (Nothing was
    said about reducing Executive Compensation.)

    That became a capitalistic mess before sequestration has begun.
  • Feb 27 2013: I believe the answer is simple when one asks - What is capitalism? It could come in many forms. There is never capitalisam of note where there is not a stong government. Unless you want to live in Somalia Okay most of us would not last long there. Read Francis Fukuyama's book- the origins of the political order. Okay - it's more complicated than that, but right now I remember his discussion of laws, and I had always heard before about the kind of laws you need for a modern industrial country. He has interesting comments on China. Want to build a new Titanic - go to China. They are a real can do country now. Enough rambling- What I am saying is for most countries enact the right kinds of statutes and regulation - just like we are not doing in America today.
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    Feb 27 2013: Anything in excess is not always good. The Hindu ancients have a saying that in excess even (Amrut) the nectar for immortality becomes poison. That being said, capitalism no doubt has so far withstood the vagaries of time albeit shakily, esp going by the various global financial crisis that have hounded us in recent past. The ancient Hindus had maintained sustainable prosperity for ages due to the concept of Dhaana (charity) and yagna (prayers offered through the fire for environmental and universal prosperity). While the concept of charity is valid for all ages, the yagna of ancient Hindus would translate to genuine work for environmental and social uplift. The Hindu Upanishads aver that both Dhaana & Yagna by the rich have the greatest powers to morph their enemies to friends as well as tone down envy and jealousy them by the downtrodden. This makes sense as II strongly believe that most of the problems of capitalism arises out of this class envy and the gap between the rich and poor. While the gap can never be completely wiped out, it should stay within reasonable limits. This is the lesson that modern capitalism should garner. Dr Sivaram Hariharan. (Even today thousands of yagnas for universal and environmental prosperity are performed by Hindus all over the world)
  • Feb 27 2013: Personally I feel capitalism, in its present shape and form, has to die, and that may not be such a bad thing, I can foresee a combination of capitalism and socialism coming up, while the absolute bottom level of human wealth is raised, and the absolute top is defined.

    How may this become a reality, well, can we think of a cap on absolute personal wealth, say no one can hold assets or income beyond a particular level, so that there is a clear force to push "down" the spare wealth.

    For this to happen, human beings should learn and accept that beyond a point it is counter-productive to society to reward the capitalist. I am not very confident of this happening though, people may say even a billion dollars is not enough.
  • Feb 27 2013: I dont think it can work because any time we fix one problem we bring up another." For example, there have been a number of projects to increase the standard of living in Ethiopia, which is a country literally famous for being impoverished. One such project involved installing water taps in Ethiopian households. While this had several incredibly beneficial effects, most notably dropping the infant mortality rate, it ultimately contributed to household shortages. More children means more family members to support, and those water taps weren't spitting out any extra money -- so essentially, the children were surviving infancy only to grow up starving. By solving one problem, another equally devastating problem was created."
    If you thought this was to long just read it on http://www.cracked.com/article_20216_5-insane-theories-about-why-we-havent-discovered-alien-life.html
    Strange how we find some answers by looking somewhere else