"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants" - Albert Camus

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blog War: Response To Broletariat (Part I)

Since many of Bro.'s responses rambled on for paragraphs (kind of like mine), I will not cut and paste all of his comments as doing that, along with my verbose style, may mean putting together posts that could rival 'War and Peace' in length!

In order to keep things in context, I quoted in part Bro.'s come back (in red text) before responding.  You can click on the link below to see his post in its entirety.

I am not sure how this will work out as I fear I may come across some organizational problems trying to respond to objections in order.  And now, my responses to broletariat's relevant points in "It Has Begun. Boom":

- "You’ve been a student in a capitalist society, and told your whole life that you would be as important as the few people that were successful coming out of the same schools as you (even Charles Taylor went to Bentley U, rep that one). I’m guessing it didn’t turn out that way, considering your busiest blog day was probably over the last 24 hours. Therefore, your whole life you’ve been told that capitalism is easily the best system, because it allowed so many people to become so successful, and you use the failures of extreme examples of progressive thought, at it’s most immature and vulnerable times, to reaffirm that belief."

The first couple of sentences did not make sense to me. I have no idea what you were trying to insinuate with Charles Taylor attending my alma matter (no I did not know him, he graduated the year I started) or my blog traffic.....maybe you were trying to say I was unsuccessful (? - if so, I do not consider Charles Taylor a success, especially next to so many of my friends) which, if it was what you meant, you need to define success (an impossible task because it is a relative term, a subjective definition - for example a beach bum could be just as successful by his own standards as a multi-million dollar salaried executive of a big corporation).....so I took it to be irrelevant.

(In fact, let me digress and play psychiatrist here for a moment: I sense deep seeded, misplaced anger from the above paragraph.  It is not atypical for the progressive mind to be ravaged with feelings of inadequacy and anger for perceived injustices.  The eventual realization that they are incapable of righting these self perceived injustices makes many of them chronically miserable.  This condition, however, is apparently not their fault.  In reality, they simply are unfortunate enough to have a specific variant of the DRD4 (dopamine receptor) gene which has been found by scientists at UCSD and Harvard to be responsible for progressivism (which they call liberalism - talk about misnomers! - I'll write about this in a separate post soon) provided proper socialization has taken place.  You should read up on it.  I am hoping that a cure is not far behind!)

As I had mentioned in an earlier reply to you, I had my pre-college schooling in Europe.  As such, I was surrounded by more progressives (yes, even in Turkey and Switzerland) than not.  The benefit of classical education is that we actually had to learn not only heavy duty world history, geography, civics, math, etc. but logic and critical thinking which had to be actually used if you hoped to do well in school.  This is hard to comprehend and appreciate for those who have not had the benefits of a classical education.  Thus, it is no wonder that a recent study by NYU and University of Virginia professors found that many college students enter college knowing little and 4 years later, they still are not much better off.  Heck, I still remember being astonished when I found out that many colleges offered pre-algebra in the U.S.

Why am I writing this?  Because I want you to understand that I've experienced, seen, and heard all sides of this issue; and that my education has prepared me to soak it all in and process it.  I did not go to schools where I was told capitalism was good and communism is bad.  I was thought about both and experienced both throughout my travels.

Also, this is a good place to make some distinctions: progressivism (an ideology) is not an economic system like capitalism.  Most progressives are capitalists - not free market capitalists but capitalists nevertheless.  Unless you live under total totalitarianism (like it was under the USSR or the pre 1970s PRC), you will likely be living in a capitalist society of some type.  So when you say:
"you’ve been told that capitalism is easily the best system, because it allowed so many people to become so successful, and you use the failures of extreme examples of progressive thought, at it’s most immature and vulnerable times, to reaffirm that belief."
you seem to be mixing economic systems with political ideologies (since you use capitalism and progressive thought in the same sentence). 

You are right, capitalism has enriched people - some more than others since we are all unique in our abilities, circumstances, etc..  Also capitalism has done the same in the social democracies of Europe (but to a significantly lesser degree -- which BTW will be the dagger in the heart of your arguments later in our correspondences)  Progressive thought and capitalism, therefore, have always co-existed.  It is the nuances that makes the whole difference. 

You can view the spectrum as such: At one end you have pure laissez faire capitalism (a rather idealistic state, also coined as anarcho-capitalism, where there is practically no government) and at the other communism.  Everything else in between  is state capitalism or socialism.  We are at different places on that spectrum.  I am a proponent of liberal capitalism (closest to a pure laissez faire system but with more defined government involvement).  You, on the other hand (and correct me if I am wrong) sound like may be classified as a social capitalist or maybe a neo capitalist (which would be a lot closer to a strict command and control, centralized economy)

I am not pointing to extreme and immature progressive thought to reaffirm my beliefs.  My points will be made when I show that it is the lesser progressive thought/policies that have made the difference between the level of success you can attain in different capitalist societies.  I plan on doing that by comparing and contrasting the EU economies (that you claim are working fine) with that of the U.S.  That, however will be forthcoming on a seperate post (I'll title it "Comparative Capitalist Systems" since you are not defending Communism) as well since it will require substantial time and space.

Lets move on, Bro., another reason you've got this capitalism thing all wrong:  You see, all systems can get corrupted.  Capitalism is not immune and ours has been corrupted by a faulty political system that allows crony capitalists to buy the politicians who depend on their money for their political lives.  Having money as the centerpiece of politics along with having no term limits is insanity (and thus the inmates are running the asylum).  It requires only 'perfectly honest and principled' people to run for office, and, we all know that is unrealistic as well as naively idealistic. 

There are remedies for this but they require for the same politicians to cut their noses despite their faces (or figuratively commit suicide).  That is a whole different subject we can discuss some other time in a different post.

Regarding my words:
"Ever since collectivist policy failures starting with the collapse of the Soviet empire, continuing with free market success stories in China and the U.S. of 1980s and 1990s, and culminating with the failure of european welfare states (PIIGS) as well as our pending financial collapse due to 53 trillion in unfunded obligations due to three progressive ideals - namely social security, medicare, and medicaid, the former Fabian socialists who pass themselves as progressives have been in search of a new strategy”,
you say  "this thought lacks real merit" yet do not clarify your point sufficiently.  Are these failures in former USSR and other social democracies, and comparative successes in China and the U.S. not historical facts?  As I said earlier, I'll present the facts on these in a seperate post. 
However, in the same section, you mention:
"it is not fair to judge their failure and attribute it to any sort of economic regulation (I assume you mean system). It is an extreme example where a small percentage of the population had almost complete control of the country’s wealth (much like the current US)."

I take serious issue with this statement (talking about the USSR).  True, wealth is always concentrated in the hands of top few percentage of the population in open economies like the U.S., but in totalitarian regimes this is never because of capitalism but rather totalitarian corruption and the wealthy are amongst the political class only.

I know exactly where your views coming from: a hopeless affliction of social liberalism.  You have difficulty accepting the differences in individual ability, drive, and circumstances.  You rebel that there is not enough equality of outcome, and that it is unfair that the advantaged have a leg up.  Reality is your no. 1 enemy.  Yet, when you examine history with a degree of intellectual honesty, you will see that under every system there are the advantaged few and then the masses.  That is as true with humans as it is with the animal kingdom.  So, isn't the fairest solution to make it as easy to succeed for the masses so that there can be more success stories?  That is what the U.S. has done by minimizing central planning/command type government for most of its history.  Yes, I think they can loosen up a lot more but comparatively speaking, the U.S. has been a lot more politically liberalized than the E.U.  As a result we enjoy a standard of living that overwhelming majority of European families living in their 1,000 sq.ft. apartments and driving their Fiat Doblos could only dream about.
Have you been to London, Paris, Rome, or any other western european capital and buy a Big Mac ($7 last time I did in London) or fille a 20 gallon tank with gas ($200 in London and pretty damn near that elsewhere compared to $70 here)

Why? Is labor much more expensive in the EU?  Not really.  Try the host of other problems plaguing all of them: low productivity, low innovativeness, chronic unemployment, and high taxes.  THAT, my friend, is the price you pay for living in a social democracy under a social welfare capitalist system.  Yet, the visible relative economic deprevation is not the worst of it.  Worse yet, for their future prospects, the entrepreneurial spirit of their citizens have been seriously stunted if not outright killed off.  When you limit the reward for risk, then fewer and fewer people take risks.  This is a truism and denying it would be illogical.  This, again, by itself requires several pages of dissertation, so I will wait for you to comment.

You say:
"In China, the government already owns all the wealth, not huge corporations that put almost no money back into the economy or government, so when they get wealthy the government prospers, not the people."

Wrong again.  I'll give you this: It is true that the rich (millionaires and up) in China are such a small percentage of the society that it is laughable (tiny fraction of one percent at best - I'll get some numbers) but for a country that has opened up its economy for less than four decades, they are doing fantastic.  Where you are wrong is the wealth being owned by the government.  Yes a lot is, but also take a look at the statistic of billionaires.  China is second in the world with 115 billionaires - that is more than the top 5 EU countries (which have always had open economies in modern era) combined.
Give China time.  The way they are cornering raw materials and minerals/ores around the globe, in another 20-30 years they may be the only super power in the world unless they roll back capitalism.  However, I am not counting on them harming themselves.  Only western countries are great at killing the goose that lays the golden egg.  The Chinese are too wise for that.

This is getting really long and I have to take too many breaks to do other stuff, so I am afraid it will read like a jumbled mess.  It is my first experience in online debating so we will have to refine the process.  Before I go, let me briefly comment on a few other statements you made:

"Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me. Our 53 trillion dollars in “unfunded obligations” come from capitalism (Reagonomics) and capitalist imperialism (Oil Wars,most recently in Iraq). Those are the two main factors behind our nation’s debt. The progressive ideals that you are naming – social security, medicare, and medicaid – are in fact funded.  They’re just failing because the American public’s tax dollars can’t afford it any longer, and Corporations that have all the money aren’t funding them with their taxes."

This one takes the cake.  What does unfunded liabilities in entitlements have to do with the national debt of $14 trillion?  Nothing.  The unfunded liabilities are debts down the road as they represent what we have promised in services but lack the resources to provide for.  Soc. Sec. would have been actuarily just fine if politicians did not spend the money elsewhere already.  You are spewing the progressive line that they are funded.  They are funded if you shuffle paper around or consider IOUs as assets.  Soc. Sec. is only funded if the government fulfills their obligations, which means borrowing the trillions since there is no huge vault with cash sitting in it - just IOUs.  The CBO, OMB, Obama's own debt commission and the actuaries of the entitlements all know this and have testified dozens of times.

I need you to explain how Reaganomics, which is responsible for the longest wealth expansion in modern times (including creation of 50 million jobs in 25 years - between 1983-2008) has caused the $14 trillion in debt?  Spending causes debts, nothing else.  Can you blame your boss (for not paying you enough) for your personal debt if you over spend?  This is exactly your point and it is ridiculous to be honest.

I will discuss the technical environmental issues as well as others that I have not yet touched upon later. 


Anonymous said...

I'm still writing my answers to your four questions listed on a comment on your blog. I have a question concerning Reaganomics. Do you think the economic philosophy encourages or discourages "crony capitalism?"


WELL DONE! You simply crushed that idiot. It is unfortunate for the Republic that there are thousands like this idiot running around out there without a leash and a muzzle.

The Patriot said...

Ok, lets slow this down because we are all over the place. No need to rush. Maybe a philosophical discussion should be the first order of things, and then we can discuss the merits of different systems as evidenced by empirical evidence.

As far as your question about economic philosophy encouraging or discouraging crony capitalism, it does but in mixed/planned economies where government gets involved in economic planning. This is why: crony capitalism is the end result of state capitalism, made possible by crooked politicians and unethical corporate leaders who would rather gain an unfair advantage over their competitors than compete fairly. In true communism, corporatism does not exist outside state run organizations. In true laissez faire economy, government would have little influence over corporations due to lack of susbtantial regulations and a much friendlier tax environment.

As for Reaganomics, if your question was whether it furthered cronyism, the answer is no.

The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to:

1.Reduce Government spending.
2.Reduce Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
3.Reduce Government regulation.
4.Control the money supply to reduce inflation.

The environment that these pillars creates would encourage less interdependence between government and busiess.

It is the political system, not as much the philosophies, that foster crony capitalism. When money becomes the mother milk of politics in an open society, crony capitalism is virtually inescapable. Our founding fathers foresaw this two and a half centuries ago. Amazingly, they were smarter than many who live today.