Capitalism and Its Discontents

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Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Enki » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:18 pm

Barsamian: You write that Americans “had a remarkable 150 years during which workers enjoyed a steadily rising standard of living.” When and why did that stop?
Wolff: What distinguishes the United States from almost every other capitalist experiment is that from 1820 to 1970, as best we can tell from the statistics we have, the amount of money an average worker earned kept rising decade after decade. This is measured in “real wages,” which means the money you earn compared to the prices you have to pay. That’s remarkable. There’s probably no other capitalist system that has delivered to its working class that kind of 150-year history. It produced in the U.S. the expectation that every generation would live better than the one before it, that if you worked hard, you could deliver a higher standard of living to your kids.
Before we talk about why this changed, let’s think for a moment about the trauma the end of this trend represents to the working population. It is the end of the notion that a better future is the reward for hard work. And the trauma is made worse by the fact that there’s no discussion of it, no way to share the experience, because most of the population literally believes that it hasn’t happened.
Barsamian: So why did it end?

Wolff: There are many reasons, but I think four developments in the 1970s were key.
The first was the increasing use of computers, which made it possible for employers to reduce their number of workers, since one computer now did the work of many humans. For example, once upon a time supermarkets needed workers to keep track of how many boxes of cereal and rolls of toilet paper were leaving the shelves. Now a computer scanner at the checkout counter does that. One man or woman sitting at a monitor somewhere can tell exactly how many boxes of cereal have to be ordered at a hundred different super­markets. They don’t need an army of workers to take inventory.
The second thing that happened in the 1970s was that employers moved production to other parts of the world, where wages were lower. Between the computer replacing workers and jobs going overseas, the demand for labor in the U.S. shrank.
The third event was that women joined the paid workforce in large numbers and stayed, largely abandoning the role of full-time mother and housewife. And, finally, we had a new wave of Latin American immigrants who came here looking for jobs and a better life. So while the number of jobs was declining, there was an increase in the number of people looking for work. This combination meant that, for the first time in American history, there was no labor shortage.
With so many people competing for jobs, employers discovered that it was no longer necessary to give raises to attract and keep employees. Since the 1970s American employers have enjoyed record profits. During that same thirty years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, DC, the wage earned by the majority of American workers hasn’t changed. In real terms, adjusted for inflation, what a worker makes in 2011 is about what the same worker made in 1978.

Barsamian: And employees are working longer hours today, right?

Wolff: That’s right. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (oecd), Americans do more hours of paid labor per year than workers in any other advanced country. That is because, if you don’t earn more per hour, the only way to deliver a better life to your family is by doing more hours of work. So Americans have been pushing themselves, taking second jobs or working full time if they had worked only part time before. We have elderly people coming out of retirement to help their grown children. Teenagers are working on weekends to help pay bills. Americans have committed to an incredible number of work hours per household to try to achieve a rising standard of living. Let’s remember that we are constantly bombarded by advertising telling us that, to be a success, we need a better house, a better car, a better vacation, and a college education for our children. To be financially successful today, most of us have to work crazy hours.
And of course the other thing the American working class has done since the 1970s to keep their consumption rising is take on debt. When your wages don’t go up, and adding a few hours a week isn’t enough, you buy on credit.
In the 1970s we had to develop new mechanisms for providing credit to the masses. Before then the only people who carried credit cards were traveling businessmen with expense accounts, and the only company offering such a card was American Express. But then MasterCard, Visa, and others came along to make credit available to the rest of us, because there was such a hunger on the part of our working class for a better standard of living. American workers started to borrow money on a scale that had never been seen before in any country.


http://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/43 ... iscontents
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby YMix » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:52 pm

Class war? Democratization of the workplace? Outright Marxism!
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby AzariLoveIran » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:29 pm

.

Nothing wrong with Capitalism

but

what we ghave in America and some European places (Britain) is not capitalism

Crooks have taken over, hijacked the system

poor Joe

.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby YMix » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:55 pm

The good news just keep coming.

The Federal Reserve's Explicit Goal: Devalue The Dollar 33%

By Charles Kadlec

February 09, 2012 "Forbes" -- The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) has made it official: After its latest two day meeting, it announced its goal to devalue the dollar by 33% over the next 20 years. The debauch of the dollar will be even greater if the Fed exceeds its goal of a 2 percent per year increase in the price level.

An increase in the price level of 2% in any one year is barely noticeable. Under a gold standard, such an increase was uncommon, but not unknown. The difference is that when the dollar was as good as gold, the years of modest inflation would be followed, in time, by declining prices. As a consequence, over longer periods of time, the price level was unchanged. A dollar 20 years hence was still worth a dollar.

But, an increase of 2% a year over a period of 20 years will lead to a 50% increase in the price level. It will take 150 (2032) dollars to purchase the same basket of goods 100 (2012) dollars can buy today. What will be called the “dollar” in 2032 will be worth one-third less (100/150) than what we call a dollar today.

The Fed’s zero interest rate policy accentuates the negative consequences of this steady erosion in the dollar’s buying power by imposing a negative return on short-term bonds and bank deposits. In effect, the Fed has announced a course of action that will steal — there is no better word for it — nearly 10 percent of the value of American’s hard earned savings over the next 4 years.

Why target an annual 2 percent decline in the dollar’s value instead of price stability? Here is the Fed’s answer:

“The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) judges that inflation at the rate of 2 percent (as measured by the annual change in the price index for personal consumption expenditures, or PCE) is most consistent over the longer run with the Federal Reserve’s mandate for price stability and maximum employment. Over time, a higher inflation rate would reduce the public’s ability to make accurate longer-term economic and financial decisions. On the other hand, a lower inflation rate would be associated with an elevated probability of falling into deflation, which means prices and perhaps wages, on average, are falling–a phenomenon associated with very weak economic conditions. Having at least a small level of inflation makes it less likely that the economy will experience harmful deflation if economic conditions weaken. The FOMC implements monetary policy to help maintain an inflation rate of 2 percent over the medium term.”

In other words, a gradual destruction of the dollar’s value is the best the FOMC can do.

Here’s why:

First, the Fed believes that manipulation of interest rates and the value of the dollar can reduce unemployment rates.

The results of the past 40 years say the opposite.

The Fed’s finger prints in the form of monetary manipulation are all over the dozen financial crises and spikes in unemployment we have experienced since abandoning the gold standard in 1971. The financial crisis of 2008, caused in no small part by the Fed’s efforts to stimulate the economy by keeping interest rates too low for, as it turned out, way too long is but the latest example of the Fed failing to fulfill its mandate to achieve either price stability or full employment.

The Fed’s most recent experience with Quantitative Easing also belies the entire notion that monetary manipulation can spur the economy. Between November 2010 and June 2011, the Fed tried to spur economic growth by purchasing $600 billion in Treasury securities, flooding the banking system with reserves and keeping interest rates low. In response the economy, which had been growing at a 3.4% annual rate, slowed to a 1% annual rate in the first half of 2011. Once, the Fed stopped supplying all of that liquidity, economic growth in the second half of the year accelerated to a 2.3% annual rate.

Second, the Fed does not use real time indicators of the price level. Instead, it views inflation through the rear view mirror of the trailing increases in the PCE. And, even when it had evidence of rising inflation — as it did in the first quarter of last year — it chose to temporize, betting that the spike in inflation would prove temporary.

This spike in inflation did prove temporary, as Fed Chairman Bernanke predicted at the time, but not for the reasons — a slack economy — that he cited. Instead, the growing debt crisis in Europe led to a massive shift in deposits out of the euro and into the dollar — an event totally out of the Fed’s control. Yet, this increase in the demand for dollars was far more important than any action taken by the Fed because it increased the value of the dollar and produced a slowdown in the inflation rate.

What we are left with is a trial and error monetary system that depends on the best judgment of 19 men and women who meet every six weeks around a big table at the Federal Reserve in Washington. At the end of a day and a half of discussions, 11 of them vote on what to do next. The error the members of the FOMC fear most when they vote is deflation. So, they have built in a 2% margin of error.

Given the crudeness of the tools the FOMC uses to set monetary policy, allowing for such a margin of error is no doubt prudent. For example, when the economy slowed in the first half of last year, inflation picked up, accelerating to a 6.1% annual rate during the second quarter. And, when the economic growth accelerated in the second half, inflation slowed. These results are the precise opposite of what the Fed’s playbook says are supposed to happen.

The best the Fed can do — an average debauch in the dollar’s value of 2% a year while producing recurring financial crises and a more cyclical economy — is demonstrably inferior to the results produced by the classical gold standard. Here’s just one example. The largest gold discovery of modern times set off the 1849 California gold rush and increased the supply of gold in the world faster than the increase in the output of goods and services. The price level in the U.S. did increase by12.4 percent over the next 8 years. That translates into an average of just 1.5% a year. The gold standard at its worst was better than the best the Fed now promises to do with the paper dollar.

The Fed’s best is hardly good enough. The time has arrived for the American people to demand something far better — a dollar as good as gold.

Copyright 2012 Forbes.com LLC™
“There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent? Take a look at what we’ve done, too.” - Donald J. Trump, President of the USA
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Endovelico » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:59 am

AzariLoveIran wrote:.

Nothing wrong with Capitalism

Crooks have taken over, hijacked the system



Crooks taking over and hijacking the system is structural to capitalism.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Sparky » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:04 pm

That's an ever present risk in all systems.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Parodite » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:39 pm

Sparky wrote:That's an ever present risk in all systems.


Bingo.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby AzariLoveIran » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:38 pm

Endovelico wrote:.
AzariLoveIran wrote:.

Nothing wrong with Capitalism

Crooks have taken over, hijacked the system

.


Crooks taking over and hijacking the system is structural to capitalism.

.



yes, Endo, true

meaning , nothing wrong with Capitalism, the implementation of capitalism has been hijacked by crooks

Capitalist, people who have capital, in reality, they money managers, asset managers

laws & regulations direct where those money and asset managers put their capital

If laws reward real estate or commodity or bond speculation same as taking risk development next cancer drug, than things happen as they happen now, money goes to real estate speculation driving housing prices out of ordinary Joe reach and next collapse

crooks control levers of power


.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Endovelico » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:40 pm

If there were no crooks any system would work fine, even soviet style communism...Trouble with capitalism is that it gives a free hand to crooks. In fact, being a crook and being competitive are nearly one and the same thing, in capitalism.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Enki » Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:58 pm

Sparky wrote:That's an ever present risk in all systems.


Agreed. I talk about this with my lefty friends on FB whenever they talk about needing more regulations and empowering the regulatory bodies. I point out that Monsanto runs the FDA and USDA. I point out that Goldman Sachs will keep getting those appointments in Presidential administrations.

One big problem we have in America is allowing regulatory bodies to draft regulations. Only Congress should be able to make laws. And regulations are crypto-laws that you can go to jail for disobeying. Regulatory bodies should be enforcement only. That would cut down on the capacity for corruptibility immensely.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Simple Minded » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:26 pm

Endovelico wrote:If there were no crooks any system would work fine, even soviet style communism...Trouble with capitalism is that it gives a free hand to crooks. In fact, being a crook and being competitive are nearly one and the same thing, in capitalism.



Henry Hazlett said it well "The private sector is the voluntary sector the public sector is the coercive sector."

For simple minded sorts like the two of us, it boils down to the age old statement of "Since humans are imperfect they need to be regulated. Since the pool from which the regulators will be selected is comprised of humans, how much power over your life do you want to give any regulator?"

Give some humans more power to regulate the rest of the humans?....... Hmmm...... I just don't see the solution there.

There are some out there who simply do not like the sense of personal responsibility that freedom or adulthood requires. "Throw me in chains but feed me!" has always been the demand of many to their potential rulers.
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No great mystery here . . .

Postby Marcus » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:45 pm

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
—John Adams (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31)

"Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
—Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
—Benjamin Franklin

"Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants."
—Benjamin Franklin

"Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.... If the next centennial does not find us a great nation ... it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."
—James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Simple Minded » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:52 pm

AzariLoveIran wrote:meaning , nothing wrong with Capitalism, the implementation of capitalism has been hijacked by crooks

Capitalist, people who have capital, in reality, they money managers, asset managers

laws & regulations direct where those money and asset managers put their capital

If laws reward real estate or commodity or bond speculation same as taking risk development next cancer drug, than things happen as they happen now, money goes to real estate speculation driving housing prices out of ordinary Joe reach and next collapse

crooks control levers of power


Amen Azari! Capitalism works better on Main Street, than on K street or Pennsylvania Avenue.

Every succesful business man I know, became successful by providing their customer a product or service the customer valued more then the money they paid. Most transactions in the US are still voluntary.

Where do all these crybabies come from? I've never met a single person who has been forced to buy a house, a car, a cheezeburger, attend a college, or take a job against their will. They all do so voluntarily.

I work for a French owned company in the US. Most of them who come here on long term assignment spend the first week telling anyone who will listen the US needs to become more socialist like France. Within a couple months, they get quieter. Within a year, many have reversed their positions and state that France needs to become less socialist like the US. Some decide they don't want to return to France.

Opinions vary.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Enki » Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:08 pm

Morality is wonderful. It's just that most of the people talking about how we should have a moral and just society want to make it so by using government violence to accomplish it. Then they forgive the hypocrites in their own ranks for the same.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Marcus » Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:11 pm

Enki wrote:. . most of the people talking about how we should have a moral and just society want to make it so by using government violence to accomplish it. . .


All law is someone's notion of what is "moral and just."
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Enki » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:46 pm

Marcus wrote:
Enki wrote:. . most of the people talking about how we should have a moral and just society want to make it so by using government violence to accomplish it. . .


All law is someone's notion of what is "moral and just."


True. Lets just pare it down to the simplest terms. "No violent coercion."
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby YMix » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:00 pm

Marcus wrote:All law is someone's notion of what is "moral and just."


I don't think that pork barrel legislation is seen as "moral and just" by anybody, including its sponsors. And I'm not referring to what they say in speeches for public consumption.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Marcus » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:21 pm

Enki wrote:
Marcus wrote:
Enki wrote:. . most of the people talking about how we should have a moral and just society want to make it so by using government violence to accomplish it. . .


All law is someone's notion of what is "moral and just."


True. Lets just pare it down to the simplest terms. "No violent coercion."


What world are you living in? To the state and to the state alone is given the power to coerce (the power of the sword). If law cannot be coerced, then it is not law.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Enki » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:53 pm

Marcus wrote:
Enki wrote:
Marcus wrote:
Enki wrote:. . most of the people talking about how we should have a moral and just society want to make it so by using government violence to accomplish it. . .


All law is someone's notion of what is "moral and just."


True. Lets just pare it down to the simplest terms. "No violent coercion."


What world are you living in? To the state and to the state alone is given the power to coerce (the power of the sword). If law cannot be coerced, then it is not law.


The world where the state has the monopoly on violence.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Marcus » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:06 am

Enki wrote:The world where the state has the monopoly on violence.


And thus it has always been and ever will be.
"The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson's time."
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby noddy » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:47 am

Marcus wrote:
Enki wrote:The world where the state has the monopoly on violence.


And thus it has always been and ever will be.


a legitimate monopoly on violence comes from having 90% of the population supporting you, not 51% (or less)

horsetrading between odious authoritarians of both left and right flavours adds up over time.
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Re: Capitalism and Its Discontents

Postby Enki » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:43 pm

Marcus wrote:
Enki wrote:The world where the state has the monopoly on violence.


And thus it has always been and ever will be.


I was talking about the limitation on what individuals are allowed to do.
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Re: No great mystery here . . .

Postby Aferim » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Marcus wrote:"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
—John Adams (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31)


Not that it matters in any way, but not all of them were into sprouting idealist nonsense:
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.


"Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
—Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence

Which sect of Christianity is right, and what shall we do about the others? There's a reason religion needs be kept out of politics, and people would do well to remember that from time to time.

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
—Benjamin Franklin

It is obvious that God wanted white Anglos to massacre the Indians. :roll:

"Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants."
—Benjamin Franklin

So the choice is mortal (and killable) tyrants or a bigger badder Tyrant? Lemme see...

"Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.... If the next centennial does not find us a great nation ... it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."
—James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877

Fine. Let's assume that Americans today are impure and cowardly compared to some imagined Americans of the past. What do you suggest? That we force people to be pure and brave? Who gets to define pure and brave?
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Re: No great mystery here . . .

Postby YMix » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:09 pm

Aferim wrote:Which sect of Christianity is right, and what shall we do about the others? There's a reason religion needs be kept out of politics, and people would do well to remember that from time to time.


I find it amusing that the emperor Julian is known as an apostate for his rejection of Christianity, while Constantius II, his predecessor and a devout Christian, is known as a heretic. Apparently, he chose the wrong brand and all his efforts to promote union among the Arians and Niceans were consigned to the dustbin of history.

It is obvious that God wanted white Anglos to massacre the Indians.


Of course. 'God hath hereby cleared our title to this place.'
“There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent? Take a look at what we’ve done, too.” - Donald J. Trump, President of the USA
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Re: No great mystery here . . .

Postby noddy » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:32 am

YMix wrote:
It is obvious that God wanted white Anglos to massacre the Indians.


Of course. 'God hath hereby cleared our title to this place.'


within the pagan/christian syncretism i think this analysis is a bit backwards.

it was your problem to keep yourself confident and risk taking,then you acted, then god chooses the winner.

god is on your side by virtue of you being the one still standing, we are talking about a people whos legal system was built off this principle

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