Re: How Much Profit is Enough?
Posted: Jul 3, 2003 10:57 AM
> > Voltaire, I don't have to agree with your beliefs, but
> > I'll fight to death for your right to have them.
> Agreed. However, as with most critiques of capitalism, Mr
> Holden offers no alternatives. It's fine to have beliefs
> that profits are too high, or that ads manipulate people
> but what should we do about it? By offering no actual
> solutions, the simplest rebuttal is a Churchill-style
> remark that modern capitalism is the worst form of
> economics, except all the others!
It's really difficult to make a real critique of something that is subjective or the status quo. First we need to define which are the grounds of the discussion and how can we measure an alternative. Next we need to verify which are the basic postulates behind each alternative. Then we need to verify the validity of our arguments, their consistency and interdependency so we can stablish a useful conclusion (including a "Insufficient data" result).
The primary critique people say about capitalism is: its base hypothesis are wrong. But what are they? Free market (should it include armies, police and government?), profit over selling of goods and services (and the question of this blog, how much profit is enough?), competition (how can we block monopolies or cartels without protecting incompetent business? perhaps Microsoft was using its power to destroy its competitors, but how come this action can be bad or good if they're a monopoly or not?), what else? When people saying capitalism they don't define what does it mean, so they can stablish quick rebuttals to anything. If the critique doesn't suggest alternatives it isn't true that the critique's target is incorrect.
Saying that, there are some good capitalism critiques available by the so called "anarcho-capitalists" (I don't agree with their postulates but some of their expositions are very good). There's also other written by economists following other schools of thought. I won't bother posting book names because, my personal belief, any non-scientific discussion is unable to teach people. If there's someone really interested, they'll research them, read and make their own judgements.
We can compare this critique to an imaginary dialogue between two pre-historic parents.
stranger: I don't think you should beat the crap out of your kids whenever they do wrong things.
parent: Huh! So, what you're supposed to do when they misbehave?
stranger: Well, you could punish him by not letting him do the things he like, or showing the error in his ways.
parent: But what if he disobbeys you, and escape his punishments, don't listen to what you're saying and misbehave again.
stranger: Hmmm, I don't think it'll happen most of the times. I believe children aren't evil.
parent: Hah! So you can give a working alternative, just a lame excuse that can work only sometimes. I say beat him and if he doesn't learn kill him. My system always works and doesn't require beliefs on the human nature.
P.S.: My position about this issue is, the government should interfere less, including not enforcing IP-protecting laws. Contracts and laws should be simple, with more rules and less exceptions. Any time the goverment mess with things we have less freedom and more headaches. But this is my opinion, it doesn't have to be coeherent or rational, so don't flame me if you disagree.