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How Much Profit is Enough?

52 replies on 4 pages. Most recent reply: Sep 12, 2005 1:37 PM by oswaldosalcedo

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Aahz

Posts: 14
Nickname: aahz
Registered: May, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 4, 2003 11:28 AM
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A couple of quickies:

* What we have in the USA is less "capitalism" than "corporatism". The limited liability corporation is a legal and social construct that has little direct correlation with capitalism.

* I call myself a "socialist libertarian" to indicate what I consider to be a dynamic balance.

Ernie Varitimos

Posts: 38
Nickname: erntheburn
Registered: May, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 4, 2003 1:23 PM
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Aahz wrote:
* What we have in the USA is less "capitalism" than "corporatism". The limited liability corporation is a legal and social construct that has little direct correlation with capitalism.


An LLC is NOT a social construct. It is a legal framework that defines the organizational structure and tax liability of an organization that is in business to make profit, in many respects it is more like a Partnership than a Corporation.

It is designed to simplifiy the process and paperwork that is part of a normal corporation and protect you from the liability that may be incurred from the malfesance of other people within the LLC. It was designed in the scrict capatilistic sense to make it easier for smaller organizations and individuals to conduct business without a lot of the red tape. The LLC is based upon a very important and guarded principle in America called the freedom to contract.

* I call myself a "socialist libertarian" to indicate what I consider to be a dynamic balance.

What you are is an Oxymoron.

-ernie

Jordan Zimmerman

Posts: 23
Nickname: jordanz
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 4, 2003 5:41 PM
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I don't know where to begin.

Your article is filled with unsubstantiated assertions as well as statements that show ignorance of how markets work. A small sampling:

* the price of a new piece of computing functionality nowadays has more to do with its utility to the user than its cost of production
This is always been how prices are determined. The notion that prices should be based on costs of production has been refuted for over half a century (if not longer). The price of a product is determined by supply and demand. I thought that this was common knowledge - guess not.

* marketplace where survival depends on ruthless competition and a refusal to support human values
How do you define "human value"? Humans value the things they need to survive. They value things that they find useful. If a company didn't provide things of value, no one would buy them and they would be out of business fast.

* nobody in their right mind would specify a software environment as buggy as [pick your version of] Microsoft's Office or Windows
So, in essence, you're saying that most of the computer users in the world are not in their right minds. All software has bugs. MS's products work well enough to get most people's needs met. I don't know why this is so hard for some people to fathom.

* Unfortunately there seems to be no limit on corporations' manouevers to increase their profits
Why is this unfortunate? What's wrong with profits? That's the point of having a business isn't it? There is nothing immoral about making money. There are no losers in the equation. Someone trades something (money) for something else (a product).

Peter Kidson

Posts: 15
Nickname: peterkid
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 6, 2003 4:30 AM
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Daniel>
> How come that social ~democracy~ is highly totalitarian?
> If democracy is totalitarian and absolutism (e.g.
> monarchy, dictatorship) is, by definition,
> totalitarian, what isn't?

A state whose powers are limited or circumscribed.

What makes a state totalitarian is how much it interferes in society. It has nothing to do with who did or didn't vote for it. A majority with unlimited powers is just as tyrannical as a monarchy with unlimited powers. Social democracy is totalitarian because it involves high levels of government interference.

Daniel>
> ten individuals form
> a state in an imaginary island. They agree to decide how
> much they'll give for common good each year, based on a
> unanimous voting. If any given ~individual~ doesn't
> agree with a given tax formula it's rejected. How comes
> it's totalitarianism? If everyone agrees with the taxes,
> how comes it's interference?

If there is unanimous voting it isn't interference.

The key issue here is unanimity. Real states do not operate from unanimity. At very best they use majority voting, and use force to interfere with dissenters to make them comply.

In your example above, because the ten individuals operate entirely through agreement there is no ~state~ as such - it is an anarchy.

Tasos Zervos

Posts: 17
Nickname: tzervos
Registered: May, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 7, 2003 5:50 AM
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"MS's products work well enough to get most people's needs met."
This can get enough discussion threads to justify Bill V. to make Artima his main profession...!

I do agree with supply and demand, but we need to focus on FAIR.

"If a company didn't provide things of value, "...
...the company would have to promise things of value and then try to lock people in their products in order to drive competition broke or buy competition out...
(preferably before they have to meet their promises)! ;-)

It is an "end justifies the means" economy and possibly society...

FAIR is not in our vocabulary...

From "http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport3/worldcup2002/hi/matches_wallchart/brazil_v_turkey /newsid_2023000/2023985.stm"
[Thursday, 6 June, 2002 - Brazil 2-1 Turkey]
[Rivaldo had admitted fooling the referee by clutching his face after Unsal kicked the ball at his leg
while he was waiting to take a corner in the closing moments of the Group C match.
But he shrugged off the fine and defended his faking as part and parcel of the game.
The 30-year-old said: "I'm calm about the punishment.
I am not sorry about anything.
I was both the victim and the person who got fined.
Obviously the ball didn't hit me in the face, but I was still the victim. I did not hit anyone in the face.
Nobody remembers what the Turk did.
I'm not a player who fakes fouls."
And he added that Fifa had made an example of him, saying: "I don't know if everyone would be punished as I was."
Korean referee Yung Joo Kim showed Unsal a red card, leading to boos from the crowd as the incident was replayed on the stadium's giant screens.]

Daniel Yokomizo

Posts: 22
Nickname: dyokomiso
Registered: Sep, 2002

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 7, 2003 10:07 AM
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>Daniel>
>> How come that social ~democracy~ is highly totalitarian?
>> If democracy is totalitarian and absolutism (e.g.
>> monarchy, dictatorship) is, by definition,
>> totalitarian, what isn't?
>
> A state whose powers are limited or circumscribed.
>
> What makes a state totalitarian is how much it interferes
> in society. It has nothing to do with who did or didn't
> vote for it. A majority with unlimited powers is just as
> tyrannical as a monarchy with unlimited powers. Social
> democracy is totalitarian because it involves high levels
> of government interference.

I was trying to assess why the following discussion occurred:

>>> Mr Holden's implicit alternative is a totalitarian
>>>state. The ~state~ will seize excessive profits, the
>>>~state~ will ban advestising .... the ~state~ will
>>>control every aspect of your life.
>> ... he states he's a socialist, but that doesn't mean
>>he's a totalitarian.
>Yes it does. Socialism can only work by coercion, and only
>the state has the power to coerce (use or threaten
>aggressive violence). Socialism is inherently a highly
>statist (totalitarian) doctrine. Social democracy is also
>highly statist/totalitarian.

From your assertions, if we have a state which can interfere in the society but it's powers can be withdrawn or limited by vote isn't totalitarian, or am I wrong? Also I think our primary cause of disagreement is this: you believe that a socialist state (or government or anything) can only exist through coercion, while I believe that it can exist through agreement and vote. I don't think we can convince each other in this medium, so do we agree to disagree on this issue?


> Daniel>
> > ten individuals form
> > a state in an imaginary island. They agree to decide
> how
> > much they'll give for common good each year, based on a
> > unanimous voting. If any given ~individual~ doesn't
> > agree with a given tax formula it's rejected. How comes
> > it's totalitarianism? If everyone agrees with the
> taxes,
> > how comes it's interference?
>
> If there is unanimous voting it isn't interference.
>
> The key issue here is unanimity. Real states do not
> operate from unanimity. At very best they use majority
> voting, and use force to interfere with dissenters to make
> them comply.
>
> In your example above, because the ten individuals operate
> entirely through agreement there is no ~state~ as such -
> it is an anarchy.

So, if a president of a democracy is elected with 100% voting, his country automatically becomes an anarchy? ;)

I don't think all states use force to make dissenters comply, AFAICT most americans aren't threatened by the police or something similar because they didn't vote for Bush. Some people do believe in democracy, as my ex-boss once said: "I didn't vote for him, but he is elected, so now I'll do my best to help him govern our country.". Unanimity is a good thing, but it doesn't always mean that everyone believes in the same thing. In my company we use unanimous voting for every major decision, even if I believe there are better alternatives. Sometimes I agree with someone else's idea, but I say: "I think this is crap, but if you think this will work them give it a shot".

As my primary concern was with this discussion:

>> 1. Note that I don't like totalitarian states
>> 2. If the governmet taxed according to your income, be
>> you a citizen or a corporation, with higher taxes
>> for higher incomes,
>Statement (2) contradicts statement (1). High taxes mean
>high state interference, ie totalitarianism.

I think that we agree that "High taxes" doesn't imply in "high state interference", because they can be achieved through unanimous voting. That leaves us with the "if they operate through agreement there is no state as such- it is an anarchy" statement. While I agree that some forms of anarchism work through agreements, I think that there can be goverment (or state) operating through agreement (with cooperative dissenters as I explained above), just because, IMO, a government is a single entity responsible for collective decisions (i.e. a delegate). I think this is fundamentally distinct from anarchism, because of this centralized approach, but as anarchism is quite ellusive, there's always a different interpretation to it. So I won't try to dispute that assertion and I won't comment on it anymore.

I think that it leaves us with two things: 1 - mr. Holden being a totalitarist depends on the statement "socialism implies totalitarism forall possible form of socialism" which we don't seem to agree; 2 - higher taxes doesn't imply in totalitarism, because they can be reached through collective agreement, or even in non-state contexts (e.g. anarchist communities).

Steve Holden

Posts: 42
Nickname: holdenweb
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 8, 2003 2:35 AM
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> I don't know where to begin.
>
Clearly this was untrue. Otherwise you would have spared us the critique.

> Your article is filled with unsubstantiated assertions as
> well as statements that show ignorance of how markets
> work. A small sampling:
>
> * the price of a new piece of computing functionality
> nowadays has more to do with its utility to the user than
> its cost of production

> This is always been how prices are determined. The
> notion that prices should be based on costs of production
> has been refuted for over half a century (if not longer).
> The price of a product is determined by supply and demand.
> I thought that this was common knowledge - guess not.
>
This assumes a free market, but the market for software products, like other western markets, is far from free. Various distortions are applied, some by the producers and some by the government. Even such a simple thing as the decision to extend the life of copyright has large implications for the world of intellectual property.

> * marketplace where survival depends on ruthless
> competition and a refusal to support human values

> How do you define "human value"? Humans value the things
> they need to survive. They value things that they find
> useful. If a company didn't provide things of value, no
> one would buy them and they would be out of business
> fast.
>
This used to be true, but one of the things I was trying to point out is that the resources of large corporations are now spent on persuading people that they need products, rather than producing what people actually need. The first major work to point this out was Vance Packard's "The Hidden Persuaders", so it's hardly a new (or an unsupported) observation.

When I talk about human values I am actually talking about treating people as though you cared about them, rather than ignoring their real needs because it's in your short-term economic interests to do so. Ultimately we all stand or fall together, and we are getting perilously close to the limits on exploitable resources. Corporate structures allow individuals to act against the interests of their species with the justification that "it's good for the company".

You will doubtless (I suspect) regard this as wishy-washy liberalism, which is merely a convenient label for ideas you would rather denigrate than debate. Or perhaps I malign you?

> * nobody in their right mind would specify a software
> environment as buggy as [pick your version of] Microsoft's
> Office or Windows

> So, in essence, you're saying that most of the computer
> users in the world are not in their right minds. All
> software has bugs. MS's products work well enough to get
> most people's needs met. I don't know why this is so hard
> for some people to fathom.
>
This might have been over the top. Just the same, it's surely undeniable that the inadequacies of Microsoft products cost large corporations huge amounts of money. This is quite unnecessary, but what are the alternatives?

According to a NIST study (http://www.nist.gov/director/prog-ofc/report02-3.pdf) software bugs cost the US economy almost $60 billion per year, and at least one third of those costs could be avoided by better development techniques. But Microsoft and companies like them refuse to invest in such techniques because it would impair their bottom line.

Such economic inefficiencies are an inevitable result of putting individual (corporate or personal) interests above societal interests. Of course it's human nature to do this, but that doesn't make it illegal to point it out, I trust. if this is "getting most people's needs met" then I despair.

> * Unfortunately there seems to be no limit on
> corporations' manouevers to increase their profits

> Why is this unfortunate? What's wrong with profits? That's
> the point of having a business isn't it? There is nothing
> immoral about making money. There are no losers in the
> equation. Someone trades something (money) for something
> else (a product).

It's unfortunate because it demeans us all as human beings. In a capitalist society we are all capitalists, me no less than anyone else. Profit is all right as long as it's a fair profit on work performed. It becomes wrong when it is earned as a simple result of the possession of capital, in such a way that the element of risk is removed. In many Western countries it is hard to avoid the conclusion that corporate and governmental interests are aligned to ensure that profts arrive risk-free to the holders of wealth.

To say there are no losers in the equation is to ignore the whole point of the original post. In that post I pointed out that the maximization of profit leads, in effect, to offshore slavery, and that while so far such slavery has been limited to the creation of physical goods, it won't be long before it has extended to software and similar products. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". The effects of slavery in the United States are still being felt in bitter racial conflict decades after its abolition. We would be fooling ourselves to believe that exploiting foreign economies in the way that Nike and similar former manufacturers do will have no repercussions.

Steve Holden

Posts: 42
Nickname: holdenweb
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 8, 2003 3:01 AM
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> > 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?
>
What indeed? And yet the fact is that as individuals we are powerless to alter these realities unless we act in concert. Unfortunately when the dwindling number of workforces with any political power do decide the time has come to act, for example by striking, the state that Mr. Kidson abhors so much often changes the law to make their actions illegal.

> Although he seems reluctant to come out and say it, Mr
> Holden's implicit alternative is a totalitarian state.
> The ~state~ will seize excessive profits, the ~state~
> ~ will ban advestising .... the state will control every
> aspect of your life.

I don't see why my complaints about the way that capitalism operates necessarily imply a desire for a totalitarian state. In fact, in my opinion government in the USA interferes far too much, and I'd like to see a little creative anarchy being indulged as a means of letting people feel more in control of their own lives. I have already pointed out my belief that the greed which brings out the worst in a capitalist society will probably bring out the worst in other forms of society too. Yet the modern state proscribes the freedoms of its citizens more and more in the name of freedom.

What I don't like about government is the way government interferes far more often to defend the interests of the landed and the wealthy than those of the landless and the poor, and the recent changes in US tax regulations are just one more example. The median tax advantage would be less than a thousand dollars (much less), but the hugely wealthy will see huge advantages. Unless you believe in the trickle-down theory, which surely must have been discredited by the experiences of Thatcher's and Reagan's economics, I find it hard to see any justification for such changes even though they benefit me much more than others.

Socialism is a dirty word in the USA as a result of a determined campaign of propaganda against all left-wing political beliefs. There are various flavors, just as there are various shades of Republicanism. One can hold socialist beliefs and still operate in a capitalist economy, and indeed one has few alternatives nowadays.

Study the changes that Allende made in Chile before the CIA-inspired coup resulted in his death. Although many changes were initially centralised, the threat to the USA was simply that he was using information technology to implement a decentralised socialist state, which would have given the lie to the propaganda.

One can espouse human values or one can try to square the circle by proving that greed operates in everybody's best interests. It doesn't.

Peter Kidson

Posts: 15
Nickname: peterkid
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 8, 2003 8:58 AM
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From your assertions, if we have a state which can interfere in the society but it's powers can be withdrawn or limited by vote isn't totalitarian, or am I wrong?

Whether a state is totalitarian or not has nothing to do with how many or few people vote for it. It has to do with how much it interferes with people against their will. The more "total" its interference in peoples' lives, the more totalitarian it is.

Since real-world socialism is a political philosophy that advocates a high degree of state involvement, socialism is inherently totalitarian.


Also I think our primary cause of disagreement is this: you believe that a socialist state (or government or anything) can only exist through coercion, while I believe that it can exist through agreement and vote.

It is of course possible for an organisation to exist without coercion and entirely by agreement as you suggest. But such an organisation would not be a state.


So, if a president of a democracy is elected with 100% voting, his country automatically becomes an anarchy? ;)

No, it only becomes anarchy if the state ceases to exist and all social interaction becomes voluntary.


I don't think all states use force to make dissenters comply

Yes they do. Why do you think anyone pays tax?


Unanimity is a good thing, but it doesn't always mean that everyone believes in the same thing. In my company we use unanimous voting for every major decision, even if I believe there are better alternatives. Sometimes I agree with someone else's idea, but I say: "I think this is crap, but if you think this will work them give it a shot".

There is a fundamental difference between the state and all other social organisations, eg your company. If you don't like your company you are free to resign and not be bound by its decisions. But you cannot resign from the state, as it were. If you do attempt to leave the state, the state will send it's hired gunmen (aka the police) to hunt you down and either force you to do as they say, or lock you up. This is not an option any organisation other than the state has.



I think that we agree that "High taxes" doesn't imply in "high state interference", because they can be achieved through unanimous voting.

No we don't agree. If there is unanimous voting then by definition there is no coercion, hence no state and no taxes. There are only voluntary payments in exchange for services, no different from someone going into a shop and buying something. Everything is privatised and consensual.


I think that there can be goverment (or state) operating through agreement (with cooperative dissenters as I explained above), just because, IMO, a government is a single entity responsible for collective decisions (i.e. a delegate).

This is a definitional issue. A state is by definition an organisation that operates through the use or threat of aggressive violence - "the monopoly of legal violence within geographical area" is the common short definition.

You could indeed have a single entity responsible for collective decisions with cooperative dissenters, but it wouldn't be a government. It would be more like your company or sports club, only much bigger.

Peter Kidson

Posts: 15
Nickname: peterkid
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 8, 2003 1:24 PM
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the market for software products, like other western markets, is far from free. Various distortions are applied, some by the producers and some by the government.

You are distorting the meaning of what a distorted market is. Only governments can distort markets, since only governments have the power of coercion. A free market can be described as free as long as there is no government interference in it. The behaviour and size of private (ie voluntary, non-coercive) organisations has no bearing on how free a market is.

one of the things I was trying to point out is that the resources of large corporations are now spent on persuading people that they need products, rather than producing what people actually need.

If significant resources were being spent on advertising, companies that spent nothing on advertising would have a price advantage over companies that did. If this cost was significant, and was something the public cared about, the non-advertisers would drive the advertisers out of business. Since this isn't happening, what is there to worry about?



Corporate structures allow individuals to act against the interests of their species with the justification that "it's good for the company".

Explain, including what you suggest is done about it. More state interference perhaps?


it's surely undeniable that the inadequacies of Microsoft products cost large corporations huge amounts of money. This is quite unnecessary, but what are the alternatives?

We live in an imperfect world - all products have inadequacies. What of it? And what do you suggest - a state ban on the sale of any product that has a defect?


at least one third of [costs due to bugs] could be avoided by better development techniques. But Microsoft and companies like them refuse to invest in such techniques because it would impair their bottom line

And the reason it would impair their bottom line is that the public do not want to pay a higher price for better software. They prefer cheaper software. The public has decided. Where is the problem exactly?



[profit is] unfortunate because it demeans us all as human beings.

Profits are an indication that a company has provided something that people want. In what way is this demeaning? Would it be less demeaning if they produced something noone wanted?


Profit .. becomes wrong when it is earned as a simple result of the possession of capital, in such a way that the element of risk is removed. In many Western countries it is hard to avoid the conclusion that corporate and governmental interests are aligned to ensure that profts arrive risk-free to the holders of wealth.

I quite agree that governments should not interfere to carry capitalists' risks. They should operate in a free and unprotected market.


To say there are no losers in the equation is to ignore the whole point of the original post. In that post I pointed out that the maximization of profit leads, in effect, to offshore slavery

That problem is the whole point of the original post was utterly misguided. You appear to have confused offers of employment where previously none existed, with slavery. Why don't you ask the people who work for Nike et al whether they would prefer it if Nike withdrew from their countries? A low wage is still better than no wage.

Jordan Zimmerman

Posts: 23
Nickname: jordanz
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 8, 2003 1:26 PM
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This assumes a free market, but the market for software products, like other western markets, is far from free.
This absolutely true (though I'm sure we'd disagree about the direction that it should change). But, in the western countries it is, essentially, free. In any event, when markets were the freest they've ever been (100 or so years ago) prices were (as they still are - as they always are) based on what the market will bear, not the cost of production.

When I talk about human values I am actually talking about treating people as though you cared about them.
What does it matter if a company cares about me? Does a farmer care about me when he plants his crops? No. He's planting crops because he enjoys it and wants to make a living. This is the best design for human happiness. Let everyone work for their own personal fulfillment. I can take care of myself.

Corporate structures allow individuals to act against the interests of their species
What corporations are acting against the interests of the species? No don't you'll mention destruction of the environment and third world poverty. But, I'm sure we disagree on these. Show me the evidence. Corporations (via a Capitalist society) have raised the standards of the human condition to the greatest levels in history.

software bugs cost the US economy almost $60 billion per year
All software has bugs. Microsoft is no worse than anyone else.

It's unfortunate because it demeans us all as human beings
What is demeaning about profits? Quite the opposite. In a Capitalist society, everyone is treated as an equal. Everyone can attain any level they want to using their minds. Compare this to every other society the world has ever known. How about all the Communist killing factories from the 20th century that were based on the principles of caring for people and not allowing profit. I'll take the "demeaning" of Capitalism over the gulags of Communism thank you.

Peter Kidson

Posts: 15
Nickname: peterkid
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 8, 2003 2:03 PM
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when the dwindling number of workforces with any political power do decide the time has come to act, for example by striking, the state that Mr. Kidson abhors so much often changes the law to make their actions illegal.

So can I take it you would support a deregulation of the labour market so that strikes were no longer crimialised? Perhaps you too can learn to abhor the state.


I don't see why my complaints about the way that capitalism operates necessarily imply a desire for a totalitarian state.

What other possibility is there? You don't like free markets, but you like unfree markets even less?


In fact, in my opinion government in the USA interferes far too much, and I'd like to see a little creative anarchy being indulged as a means of letting people feel more in control of their own lives.

How about slashing government to 5% of its present size?

I have already pointed out my belief that the greed which brings out the worst in a capitalist society will probably bring out the worst in other forms of society too.

The difference is that in socialism, greed is backed and organised coercively by the state; there is outright plunder of some by others via redistributive taxation. In capitalism if you want more you have to go out and produce more.

What I don't like about government is the way government interferes far more often to defend the interests of the landed and the wealthy than those of the landless and the poor, and the recent changes in US tax regulations are just one more example. The median tax advantage would be less than a thousand dollars (much less), but the hugely wealthy will see huge advantages.

The government is not interfering more to help the rich - if tax is going down it is interfering less/u]. It's not that the state is giving the rich a bigger tax advantage, it's that they are being given a smaller tax disadvantage than before - but still a bigger disadvantage than everyone else. That is because they are paying more tax to start with. In a truly fair society everyone would pay exactly the same tax and have the same responsibilities.


Socialism is a dirty word in the USA as a result of a determined campaign of propaganda against all left-wing political beliefs.

Socialism is a dirty word because it is a dirty concept. It is only the left's overwhelming superiority in progaganda in Europe and other less advanced societies that makes people believe otherwise.


Study the changes that Allende made in Chile ... he was using information technology to implement a decentralised socialist state, which would have given the lie to the propaganda.

Explain this allegedly "decentralised socialist state" Allende had in mind.

Tasos Zervos

Posts: 17
Nickname: tzervos
Registered: May, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 9, 2003 4:37 AM
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It seems that most of the critisism above is related to the fact that a lot of people only feel safe in a good-evil, good-bad, white-black polarised environment...

"If you are not with us you are with the others". "You could as well burn in hell"!

Give it a break!

Whatever you call Capitalism didn't come to us with the first human settlements. Let your eyes and mind open and think that our/your current systems are not terminal! We are just in another point of our evolution.

And if Gulags are not here anymore is because they evolved as well...!

Steve Holden

Posts: 42
Nickname: holdenweb
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 9, 2003 8:12 PM
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What other possibility is there? You don't like free markets, but you like unfree markets even less?

To place capitalism and totalitarianism at opposite poles the way you continually do suggests that you think capitalism protects us from totalitarianism. I see capitalism moving towards an oppressive society in which the choices open to the ordinary individual are increasingly limited.

How about slashing government to 5% of its present size?

That would be fine if it didn't lead to even greater accumulations of wealth among the already wealthy. Unfortunately, in a capitalist society that's extremely unlikely. The rich continue to get richer and "trickle-down" has been exposed for the lie it always was. Given that the current distribution of wealth is uneven, we appear to disagree about the fairness of redistribution as well as the government's role in effecting such redistribution.

The difference is that in socialism, greed is backed and organised coercively by the state; there is outright plunder of some by others via redistributive taxation.

This right-wing extremism is amusing for a while, but I'm afraid your polarised view of the world (at least as expressed in this forum) is rapidly becoming tedious. In my opinion it's outright plunder to make tax cuts that benefit the rich far more than the poor.

In capitalism if you want more you have to go out and produce more.

Please explain how the 13c-per-hour workers in the sweatshops can get more by producing more. they're already working 70 hours a week. Should they stop slacking and work more?

The bottom line seems to be that you don't feel it's desirable, let alone necessary, for people to look after each other. Instead we should all grab for as much as we can, and the devil take the hindmost. I hope I'm misunderstanding you, as your attitudes appear to reflect a terrible lack of human sympathy.

I'm rather less paranoid than you about such matters as progressive taxation, since I feel that the more you have the more you should contribute to the general good. This is my form of socialism, a personal political philosophy rather than a theoretical dictionary-definition bogeyman to be feared and despised. What the world actually needs is more rich socialists. If you think I'm joking, or that that's a contradiction in terms, then your understanding of socialism is theoretical and not practical.

It is only the left's overwhelming superiority in progaganda in Europe and other less advanced societies that makes people believe otherwise

My personal experience as a committed European allows me to tell you this is arrant nonsense. For really effective propaganda there's nothing to match the American right wing. That's the extreme right wing, of course, since America doesn't appear to have a political left wing at all. However, even in Europe the right wing has dominated politics for a long time, and the forces of reaction have ensured that entrenched political power remains where it has always been, with the wealthy.

Peter Kidson

Posts: 15
Nickname: peterkid
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: How Much Profit is Enough? Posted: Jul 10, 2003 9:54 AM
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PK: What other possibility is there? You don't like free markets, but you like unfree markets even less?

SH: To place capitalism and totalitarianism at opposite poles ... suggests that you think capitalism protects us from totalitarianism.

Yes, free markets and unfree markets are inherently at opposite poles. I don't see how you can possibly dispute this.

In very loose terms, capitalism refers to free markets (little or no state), while socialism refers to shackled or unfree markets (a highly intrusive state). Or if you prefer we could refer to libertarianism (my position) and authoritarianism (yours).


I see capitalism moving towards an oppressive society in which the choices open to the ordinary individual are increasingly limited.

I tend to agree - capitalism (freedom) being does seem to be progressively losing out to socialism (statism).


PK: How about slashing government to 5% of its present size?

[i/]SH: That would be fine if it didn't lead to even greater accumulations of wealth among the already wealthy.[/i]

So you are prepared to sacrifice freedom for oppression, merely in order to prevent people becoming wealthy from the honest fruits of their own endeavours?

The rich continue to get richer and "trickle-down" has been exposed for the lie it always was.

No, in fact is is the the critique of trickle-down has been exposed for the lie it always was. In capitalism the rich get richer and the poor get richer.


Given that the current distribution of wealth is uneven, we appear to disagree about the fairness of redistribution as well as the government's role in effecting such redistribution.

Yes. You want everyone to equal wealth regardless of their contribution, and advocate whatever coercion or other unfairness is necessary to achieve this. I on the other hand have no interest of the distribution of wealth, but want all wealth to be fairly attained. Your basic philosophy is authoritarianism, mine is libertarianism.




PK: The difference is that in socialism, greed is backed and organised coercively by the state; there is outright plunder of some by others via redistributive taxation.

SH: In my opinion it's outright plunder to make tax cuts that benefit the rich far more than the poor.

You have it back-to-front. More tax is plundered from the rich than from the poor. These tax cuts reduced the plunder on the rich more than they reduced the plunder on the poor, but the rich are still being plundered more than the poor. To be fair everyone should obviously pay the same tax and get the same benefits.

PK: In capitalism if you want more you have to go out and produce more.

SH: Please explain how the 13c-per-hour workers in the sweatshops can get more by producing more. they're already working 70 hours a week. Should they stop slacking and work more?

I don't claim to know how they can produce more in order to earn more. Learning new skills perhaps. But stealing from others (whether by street muggings or via the welfare state - there is no differebce) is not the answer.

The bottom line seems to be that you don't feel it's desirable, let alone necessary, for people to look after each other. Instead we should all grab for as much as we can, and the devil take the hindmost. I hope I'm misunderstanding you

Yes you are. I have nothing but admiration for those who help others voluntarily. It's the coercion and those who advocate it I object to.


I feel that the more you have the more you should contribute to the general good.

But still you duck the central question : should this be a voluntary, or should coercion and violence be used to force compliance?


It is only the left's overwhelming superiority in progaganda in Europe and other less advanced societies that makes people believe otherwise

Compared to North America, Europe is a cultural and economic backwater, a pathetic self-opiniated geriatric rashly resting on its 200 year-old laurels. Hence the EU and slide ever leftwards in its politics. And the left, as always, remain masters of propaganda and spin : there are few more shallow, arrogant and biased loony-left news agences as Britain's BBC for example.

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