Why Capitalism Sucks: Part 3 – Definitions: Capitalism

Capitalism

The goal of capitalism is to pay the cheapest wages, use the cheapest materials and processes and sell the results for the highest possible price, to result in the most profit or capital, which is then supposed to be reinvested to make more of the same.

We know what the results of largely unregulated capitalism are, since we saw them in the early part of the 20th century: 14 hour workdays, child labor, crappy dangerous working conditions, no breaks or relief, monopolies and nowhere else to go.

The minute one company gets bigger than another, it gets more purchasing and negotiating power, giving it more leverage over the market. The subsequent goal is to start buying up all the competition to eliminate the competition, monopolizing the suppliers and customers so you can name your own prices, which actually ends up overriding the market instead of being subject to it. As we know this leads to monopolies, as was shown in the early part of the 20th century.

Capitalism is supposed to maintain a balance through competition. But for an individual or corporation and their goals, if capitalism "works," eventually one person will own everything, price everyone else out, and pay the lowest wages possible to maximize the profits for themselves because nobody has anywhere else to go. We’re perilously close to that point now, as only a low percent of the population owns and controls everything.

Capitalism can easily become a race to the bottom since as soon as one company pays cheaper wages or increases profits by cheating or shortcuts such as toxic dumping, moving their accounts or jobs overseas, then other companies basically have to do the same in order to compete. Only we the people can collectively stop them by passing socialist and communist regulations such as anti-trust laws and oversight that reign in that system of “competition.”  And capitalism itself simply does not care about you if you're old or crippled and you can’t produce capital, whereas “morally” those people are equal to anyone else.

The only modifications currently sustaining capitalism as a system are the elements of socialism and communism that we've incorporated. That’s why Karl Marx wrote that capitalism shouldn’t be watered down, because if we mix in socialism and communism, as we have, people will actually think capitalism still works!!! But alone it doesn’t.

The Big Three

  • Capitalism is based on money, not just money but extra money (capital). We are subject to the forces (laws) of supply and demand, which decide the value of human beings based on how common (and how much in demand) their skills are.
  • Socialism is based on society, the interaction of the people as a whole. We are subject to each other.
  • Communism is based on the community. We are subject to each other.

Which system(s) are better? Isn't it obvious?

The combination of the three (Capitalism, Socialism and Communism) that we have now actually works pretty well!


Where is the society where we are subject to our individual selves only?
It doesn’t exist. However that is the ideal of Anarchy or Libertarianism, depending on what side of the spectrum a person is from, but they meet around the back of the ideological circle as the same thing. Those systems only work if we care about and respect each other more, and put our own rules and limitations on our behavior, because there is no one else doing it for us. Otherwise the “stronger” (more economic power or earning potential) will just subjugate the weak (less economic power or earning potential).

Most systems become dysfunctional without some altruism.

From a Christian perspective, since capitalism by the definition of the word puts the most worth (Old English weorthscipe =  worth + ship) on Capital, instead of valuing God first (or due to the separation of church and state, doesn’t value what God would value first, which is people), it is similar to Mammon, contrary to God, and therefore idolatry. You can’t love God and Mammon (Matt 6:24, Luke 16:13). You can't love God and capitalism as long is the goal is money and earthly goods and it doesn’t value people equally like God does.

Description of “Mammon” From Wikipedia:
“Etymologically, the word is assumed to derive from Late Latin ‘mammon’, from Greek ‘μαμμωνάς’, Syriac ‘mámóna’ (riches), and was an Aramaic loan word in Hebrew meaning wealth or possessions, although it may also have meant ‘that in which one trusts’.

The Greek word for “Mammon”, μαμμωνάς, occurs in the Sermon on the Mount (during the discourse on ostentation) and in the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:9-13). The Authorized Version keeps the Syriac word. John Wycliffe uses “richessis”.

The Christians began to use the name of Mammon as a pejorative, a term that was used to describe gluttony and unjust worldly gain in Biblical literature. It was personified as a false god in the New Testament.{Mt.6.24; Lk.16.13} The term is often used to refer to excessive materialism or greed as a negative influence….

…In the Bible, Mammon is personified in Luke 16:13, and Matthew 6:24, the latter verse repeating Luke 16:13. In the Greek, Luke 16:9 and Luke 16:11 also personify Mammon.”

 

Public vs. Private

Anytime anything is public, we all have an equal say in what happens (supposedly), and we are sharing. Once something is privatized, nobody has a say at all except the owner(s). People can “speak” with their wallets or pocketbooks, but that’s back to favoring whoever has the most money, giving them more free speech than others. Anytime anything is left to the “free market” (such as school vouchers, unless regulated, more socialism) it will always benefit the richer few over the poorer many, even though the many work just as hard, if not harder.

It’s been said: "The government can’t give to anybody anything that the government doesn’t first take from somebody else. But capitalism can’t give to anybody anything that capitalism didn’t take from someone first either! They take our work and give us our pay. Or they take investors' money and pay it back later with interest. Those situations are voluntary, if there are other jobs or wages available, but we (supposedly) have a vote in taxes too.

Also, there is absolutely nothing that the private sector can do, that the government can’t do also (“we the people” do together). The government creates jobs. We decide we want a road built and we (the government) hire people to do it. Jobs created! The difference is when the government does it, we ALL have a say in where the road is built!  Yes because of that it may take longer. The “government” also hires private contractors to do work, but they have to do it the way we want.

Job creators? Don’t make me laugh!
“During the 1980's and 1990's, the United States underwent the largest "wealth transfer' in our history; the assets of the top 1% of our country rose 17% and the assets of the bottom 40% dropped 80%.  In the words of the prophet Amos, the corporate and public policies of our nation have created a situation in which the wealthy "tread upon the poor" and "sell the needy for a pair of sandals." [Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing", by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling (The New Press, 2004)].

If giving rich people more money creates jobs, where are all the freakin' jobs!!?  (I wrote this around 2009)

Workers create jobs by creating value which is then sold to make profits, which pays their wages.

 

“Free Market” is an Oxymoron

There’s not really any such thing as a free market or economy. By definition the market is the opposite of free, since it is completely “trapped” by the LAWS of supply and demand: charge too much and nobody buys, charge too little and go bust too. Don’t people who start companies have the right to decide how much to pay their employees? The problem is they really don’t have much of a choice - pay too much you won’t be able to compete with other businesses, pay too little you’ll get crappy employees and go out of business. The market decides the value of the workers and leaves us little leeway. Although, the owner of Costco seems to pay his empoyees well and it works!

Before owners hire workers, they don’t have any labor at all (besides themselves). Once they hire folks, then they can run the business, make profits and pay back their investors – it is the workers who earned the money that pays their own wages! Why don’t THEY get to decide how much they get?

The whole economy is at least micro-managed on an hourly basis by the Federal Reserve as it monitors data and sets interest rates.  Or they just print money to make up for it. Aren’t people horrified that all our tax money is handled by a few private (and unelected) bankers that don’t really answer to us at all? And all the interest on our debt goes to the bank! Since capitalism values human beings based on supply and demand, that by itself is a principle that rules us and keeps us from being free! Free to set our OWN VALUE!!!

Quota-ble Labor

We can’t call our market “free” if the flow of labor is not, as it is part of the supply and demand principles.Labor should balance itself out as money and goods should. We put immigration quotas in place in the 1920s and created an artificially high wage structure inside our country, that became increasingly out of balance with the outside. That seemed OK when we were or could remain somewhat isolated, but as the world shrinks and everything becomes global it is impossible. This resulted in the export of jobs as companies, in order to compete, found cheap labor elsewhere, because that is their job under capitalism.

Remember back when so many things were “made in Japan”? Eventually with all that influx of wage money they caught up with us, and for cheap labor we had to go to China, Vietnam, India and elsewhere. Pretty soon they will catch up and there will be nowhere to go for cheaper labor! There is no way to stop the outflux of jobs by penalties and border taxes, because any penalties on companies drive up their prices just as keeping jobs here would have. Tariffs end up increasing the costs of imported materials that we use to make products, driving up our prices as well. Other methods such as targeted tax breaks and incentives, are socialism.

This is a more or less random end to the definition of capitalism, as the discussion continues with...

Up next: Part 4 - Structures & Motivation

Why Capitalism Sucks: Part 2 – Definitions: Communism & Socialism

DEFINITIONS

Let’s define some terms to eliminate some usual misunderstandings right away:

Communism

Communism is derived from the same root as community, common, and commune. Because of all the baggage, a better word is probably “commonism.” Communism is everything that is shared in common, owned collectively by we the people, including even now public roads, lakes, rivers, parks, schools, and all related and government property such as fire and police and military land and equipment. We all own them and we are all supposed to have a say in them. (In academic lingo this physical property is known as the “means of production” when related to industry and manufacturing.)
This is what communism always has been and what it will always be.

The USA is and has been physically 40% communist because we the people collectively own that much of the land through our state and federal governments. Zoning and Anti-trust laws are also “commonist” since we the people collectively decide what can and can’t be done with land and property that is supposedly “owned” by private individuals (though usually a bank actually owns it anyway).

Read moreWhy Capitalism Sucks: Part 2 – Definitions: Communism & Socialism

Why Capitalism Sucks: Part 1 – The Scenario & My Experience

(NOTE: I didn't mean for eight of my articles here to have the word "suck" in the title! But it just happened that two of them, written at completely different times, needed to be divided into four parts each. Anyway, here we go...)

The issue here is not really capitalism as a whole, it is basically the unfair pay scaling. Entrepreneurship, hard work in order to research, come up with ideas, plan, innovate, invest, sweat and see them come to fruition is awesome, and we would never want to discourage that. But we also have to ask ourselves if making money/mammon the reason or necessity or reward for doing them is really best, and if it’s fair to pay everyone else who makes those dreams come true less.

(NOTE: Helping or taking care of people who don’t or can’t work, is a different discussion not addressed here. But often, helping others helps us, even from a practical or strictly selfish standpoint.)

Read moreWhy Capitalism Sucks: Part 1 – The Scenario & My Experience

On Being An Artist (or: How to be a creative person in a prefab world)

What is an artist? Creative? Intuitive? Weird. Outside the box. What box? Outside of my own box. Raconteur? That sounds "rakish" but it really just means "storyteller." We’re telling our stories and we must be arrogant enough to believe enough other people will relate to them for us to make a living at it. Freaks and hippies? Rejects? Empaths? Sociopaths? Off the beaten path? Or just beaten.

Everyone creates. Every thought, every sentence is a unique creation of the person it comes from. Even if you repeat something, it still has a different inflection or reason for being said this time. But many people create theirs to fit into something. But even if you’re trying not to fit into something, that’s still trying to fit out of something else. Pro anti. If you’re anti anti, you’re pro status quo. Quid pro quo - money for nothing.

Read moreOn Being An Artist (or: How to be a creative person in a prefab world)

Neckties That Blind

Who decided that if I tie something tightly around my neck I will work more effectively? What the hell is that? It's bad enough that we're judged by what we look like, what we have, what we do, who we know and how hip we aren't. All of those assessments are based on the shape of the shell that we shuffle around in. Each of us is a sweet and chewy, rich and gooey inside, wrapped, rather trapped in a cookie crumbly, meat and mumbly outside. We're shapeless souls walking around in opaque prisons that misrepresent, obscure and lie about us. Angels walk by in ugly, bulging bubbles, while devils prance around in svelte, melt in your mouth hard candy shells that hide the grotesque truth. Seeing-eye people are blinded by sight, while blind people have got it good because they can hear right through the lies. Although they may judge people by the sounds of their voices or their manner of speaking. So really only those who are blind and deaf have got it. Unless they judge people by how they smell, taste or feel. I guess Helen Keller was the most blessed of all.

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Better Late

A little thing i wrote years ago, but, better late than never...

Who needs coffee? Just wake up late enough so that if you catch one stop light red, you'll get fired. It may take awhile of being late to work up to this point, but so much the better. I wake up by screaming at traffic and pounding the steering wheel. It's the near-accidents, the screaming commuters and the emotional wreckage you'll leave in your wake, wreak on yourself and others, that works best. Or if you can snag some coffee before you leave home, you may find that spilling it on your lap helps. Wake up your heart without mainlining caffeine; go straight for the stress. There's nothing like the stench of a burning clutch and brakes in the morning. Don't these people know I'm late for work?

Read moreBetter Late

So Long, Diane: Soliloquy For A Coworker

Here's a little something i wrote many years ago for a co-worker who left for a new job:

Please mark your calendars for a celebration/mourning of sorts, as Diane is leaving our humble enclave for pastures at least as green (although she'll still be outstanding in her field 😀 . 'Twil be a mourning for her passing, yet a celebration of her new (ad)venture. More like the morning after the dawn of a new day; or maybe a new era; a Dianeless era. Or a morning fraught with emptiness and strife, full of memories twisted and bent by the jaws of time, a morning of days stretched into weeks stretched into months stretched into years stretched into millenniums stretched into (well, you get the picture), a morning sweet, yet sour; joyful yet bitter, a pantomimed salute to the confusion and fortitude that is the human soul.

Read moreSo Long, Diane: Soliloquy For A Coworker

Redemptive Pride

Have you ever been told "pride comes before the fall"?  It is one of those sayings we hear often that is attributed to the Bible but is not actually in the Bible.  The idea is taken from Proverbs 16:8 which says, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" (KJV).  Taking hold of this verse, fourth century monk Evagrius Ponticus used it to declare pride as one of the "seven deadly sins," thus beginning a 1,600-year Christian belief that pride was sinful.

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