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When I was in sixth grade in 1984, I was encouraged by my teacher to be part of a new during the day activity group called future problem solvers. It was essentially one of those '70's ideas that finally filtered into the public school system in the early '80's. By the time it got to me, it wasn't exactly as the wiki page describes - it was run more as a method to facilitate group dynamics and critical thinking to find solutions to posed problems.

So, in the spirit of that, I ask the following question:

"If you live on a finite planet, with finite, albeit renewable, necessary resources supporting its inhabitants, how do you most efficiently distribute those resources so that everyone has what they need to live and prosper, the ecological balance is the least disturbed and the distribution is sustainable indefinitely with respect to the totality of inhabitants?"

This is not a loaded question. This is the only question facing us as a species, as this is precisely the truth of our own existence.

If you believe in capitalism, your answer will go somewhat as follows:

1. Ensure that the most necessary resources possible are 'owned' privately by individuals, clans, or eventually corporations. Governments may also be involved in this ownership, so long as long as their first duty is to protect the individual, clan or corporate ownership of such.

2. Through this ownership of necessary resources, create scarcity such that all inhabitants not privileged to 'own' are required to labor for their owners to exploit those resources in order to have access to a bare minimum of those resources in order to continue to live.

3. As the profit from greater resource exploitation grows, encourage and invest in other ancillary industries that, though not directly related to resources, astronomically increase the profit from resource based industries, all the while making subsistence living impossible.

4. Create economic demand for non-necessary, consumable products in order to shore up the non-resource based ancillary businesses, thereby creating an economic world in which everyone is creating worthless bits of junk in order to get food and housing - and worthless junk.

5. Suppress any suggestion that this is not the 'natural order' through military or economic force.

6. Do all of this without regard to the environmental impacts that could threaten the future existence of not just our species, but every species on the planet.

-------------------

In our age, point 4 is essentially the evolution of capitalism. We make unnecessary shit, to pretend that no one starves if they want to acquiesce to indentured servitude, while all of the wealth goes to a tiny proportion of the population, so that they can live lavish lives and destroy the planet.

People who believe in capitalism are equivalent to people who believe in Santa Claus.

As a former 'future problem solver' I can ask a whole bunch of questions:

Why should resources be owned?
What is the basis of that ownership?
On what grounds is that ownership enforced?
What conflicts of interest exist within that enforcement?

Further:
Why do we base an economy on the idea of resource waste?
Why do we allow the few to rule the many?

And most importantly:

Why aren't we asking the question above the fold of every individual, boss, politician, patrician... It involves all of us. We are on the same planet. We face the same question as to our continued existence.

We are destroying the conditions of possibility for the future existence of our own species. What do we do about that? Why isn't that the first question from anyone's mouth?

------

So back to the original question. I have a shitload of ideas - most impractical. But we all need to start thinking about this...

Originally posted to lucid on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 09:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I like thought provoking diaries, and you have (8+ / 0-)

    succeeded mightily at that, so thank you. But...

    Why should resources be owned?
    What is the basis of that ownership?
    On what grounds is that ownership enforced?
    What conflicts of interest exist within that enforcement?
    IMO, the diary is left wanting without your thoughts on the matter :)

    Obviously it's your diary so you can do with it how you please, but I think it'd be awesome if in the comments, people give their own answers to these 4 questions, one by one. If you're cool with it, that is. I'll be happy to throw in my $0.02 and I'm sure plenty of people would. Anyway, just an idea. Thanks again.

    •  asdf (10+ / 0-)

      1. They shouldn't be as they exist within a common planet.
      2. The aristocratic structures that evolved into supposed 'democracies'.
      3. By force.
      4. All of the above.

      My point with those questions was to point out that we are no further along than ancient cultures, despite our hubris.

      We can't move forward unless we acknowledge where we are.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 10:24:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Eco-socialism with a capitalistic fringe (4+ / 0-)

      Include the Rights of Nature into all of our laws and make long-term sustainable management of our planet's resources the basis of all economic theory, planning and development, local to global.  

      Create a commons of all the necessary resources and make goods and services that are essential to our survival available to all according to need: water, food, energy, education, healthcare (including eldercare and disabled care), childcare, housing and transportation.

      Make work an extension of a meaningful life within a collaborative community rather than a way to pay for staying alive: "Making a life instead of making a living." Make working for the common good, not money, the standard by which we judge success.

      Allow a capitalistic fringe, operating within well-defined limits, to supply luxury goods and services to those who want to indulge in non-essentials and don't mind paying for them.

      If money is speech, then speech is money and I should be able to pay my bills with witty social commentary, astute political analysis or good old blarney

      by heiderose1 on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 12:03:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was just about to write a follow up diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil

        suggesting many of the exact same things...

        “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

        by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 05:15:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ecosocialism is the way. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        socindemsclothing, ichibon

        Socialism itself is the best possible, most rational, most obviously logical way to organize a complex society, and ecosocialism its best form.

        It combines our supreme urgency for renewable, sustainable living practices with the logic of socialism's emphasis on the good of all.

        It's time we stop thinking that we have to sacrifice the good of the many so a few get to live "free."

        The entire idea of sacrificing the many goes back to ancient civilizations that sacrificed the poor and the enslaved so that the rich could live literally like kings and queens. We haven't really evolved all that much from that, because we just switched plutocrats for aristocrats.

        Fuck that.

  •  As a Past Problem Solver I Would Ask (8+ / 0-)

    who is the subject of your questions; and do they have the practical power to change the present order and course if you should change their thinking?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 10:11:03 PM PDT

    •  Good question (13+ / 0-)

      But, what I didn't get to is that we're not asking the right questions... My problem with both the modern left and the 'liberal' establishment is that no questions are asked outside of the scale of our current order. We somehow believe that we cannot think, envision or embolden from without.

      We won't find our way out of capitalism while thinking within its terms. That is where I'm not a Marxist. We need to make the conversation about ways out - not ways to fix it.

      And while I am hugely suspect that this can be done in an 'electoral' manner, it must be done, probably starting on the local level.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 10:19:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's amazing you mention 1984 in this diary! (10+ / 0-)

    We're not asking the right questions, and we're acquiescing to the control of a tiny and rapaciously greedy ruling class because we are manipulated, controlled, and subjugated into it.

    I can't stress enough the almost total mind control effect of being exposed to the American mass media landscape.  It's eerily effective; it may as well be science fiction stuff.

    And then of course, there is the induced economic insecurity control, whereas people are purposely kept living at a barely subsistence level, stripping any possible time or energy for them to figure out "how bad they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30-fucking years ago," as a paraphrase George Carlin.

    I would love to hear your ideas... I also have a bunch of them I like to share once in a while.

  •  simple (9+ / 0-)
    Why should resources be owned?
    What is the basis of that ownership?
    On what grounds is that ownership enforced?
    What conflicts of interest exist within that enforcement?
    1. because ownership is a means of control, and those that have that control won't willingly cede it.

    2. those who have the biggest weapons win.

    3. see 2.

    4. it only seems a conflict of interest to those that are not a part of 1.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 10:31:39 PM PDT

    •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 10:33:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But who asks those questions? (6+ / 0-)

      Alas, very few.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 10:35:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is an assumption in the literature that (8+ / 0-)

      ownership insures good use and prevents things going to waste. This assumption justifies ownership, a very primitive impulse that follows upon accumulation, an even more primitive impulse that's followed by many species with very small brains, but the assumption is demonstrably false. Because, in the natural world, accumulation facilitates rot and combustion to transform matter into its constituent parts. From a human perspective, that's not good use, if only because the constituent microns are too small for us to see.
      In practical terms, ownership is a paliative for insecure humans needing to hold on to what they acquire and accumulate, lest someone imitate their own thieving behavior and take it from them. Ownership is a myopic attitude. When it is politically promoted, the object is to distract from the fact that the ownership of things is a sop to compensate for the owning individuals being themselves owned and subordinate in the culture of obedience. Ownership of things is a reward for humans not being at liberty to go where they want and do their own thing. Ownership is supposed to make up for people not owning themselves. However, some people, not being aware of themselves, aren't bothered by being owned. What is upsetting to them is the assertion that they owe something to someone else, whom they are not able to recognize. That's where their insecurity lies. Giving something back is a concept that exposes a great void.

      Funny that the difference between own and owe is one soundless symbol.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 03:04:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why we have ownership and capitalism (5+ / 0-)

        We have ownership because societies that recognize private property have out-competed all other societies. Further, among societies that recognize private ownership, those following a capitalist economic model have out-competed all others.

        The prevalence of private ownership and capitalism is not because they are better, more natural, divinely ordained, smarter, more just, more fair, help more people, or make anyone happier (although some of those things may be true at some times). It is because societies organized that way have been, to date, the top competitors in the genetic and mimetic elimination tournament.

        Note the key phrase, "to date".

        We often think of survival as a contest of man against nature. After all, it is true that "nature" can kill us, and that we will die if we don't somehow get the right resource inputs at the right times from the natural world. But people organized into social groups are generally very good at coping with nature. For the most part, nature is not the enemy.

        Instead, the greatest threat to the survival of individual humans or social groups is other humans and social groups. It is in order to protect ourselves and our offspring, to compete and survive in that context, that as individuals and societies we have evolved the cultural memes of private ownership and capitalism.

        Of course, everyone else is also competing in that same arena, using those same strategies. Within that frame, thinking only of competition, there can be no such thing as too much private wealth accumulation. No matter how much you have, you are always and perpetually at risk of losing the competition to some other person or group that has even more.

        That is the logic that has brought us to where we are today.

        The big new problem of our era is that we have become so extraordinarily adept at the resource-extraction and stuff-accumulation competition that, as a global civilization, we are close to "killing nature". Of course, we can't actually kill nature-- but we can change the qualities of the natural world in such a way as to make continuation of our own species impossible. We can damage nature so badly that we kill ourselves. And if that happens, what will have brought it about will be the very strategies that we have historically found necessary for the competition against our traditional and most immediate enemies, other humans.

        So there's our challenge: how to rein in the competition among humans sufficiently, so it isn't necessary, convenient, or accidentally inevitable that we "kill nature" and thus ourselves.

        One thing seems clear: capitalism by itself is not a cultural tool capable of meeting that challenge. It is what has created the crisis, not what will solve it.

        •  That's also why solutions must come (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DBunn, richardvjohnson

          from outside of capitalism. It can't be 'fixed', as it promotes the deeper problem.

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:13:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It can't be fixed. Which is why "liberalism" (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lucid, offgrid, viriginia liberal, ichibon

            isn't the answer.

            I used to be a liberal and grew up in a liberal household. But it finally dawned on me that while I was good at defining the problem, like most liberals, recognizing the inequality created by our system, recognizing its costs, I still pushed for "solutions" that kept that system in place -- thinking it could be "reformed."

            It can't be. The system itself is what creates the monstrosity.

            It's a little like this:

            We know cigarettes cause death and destruction. Capitalism is like cigarettes. Many on the right love it regardless, so their "answer" is to get rid of the filter and just smoke the real thing, without filters.

            Liberals, OTOH, think they can mitigate for the downside, so they say go ahead and smoke, but we're going to put on some really great filters and you won't get so sick.

            But that doesn't work. The cigarette itself is far too strong for filters. The cigarette itself is the problem.

            Those of us to the left of liberal, the anti-capitalist left, know that the cigarette itself must be destroyed, filter or no filter.

            •  Unfortunately, there are too few of us (0+ / 0-)

              who have reached that epiphany.

            •  Yes, there is no mitigating the downside... (0+ / 0-)

              because of the way Capitalism works. There is never an end to it. I hate to pimp this diary all the time, but it is a great explanation as to why Capitalism is insatiable and will never bring about what we want.

              http://www.dailykos.com/...

              •  Whatithink, that's a good diary. (0+ / 0-)

                A lot of food for thought, and I'm in agreement with much of it. But I think the diarist leaves out the likelihood that those at the top are, in fact, greedy. That greed is a major factor in what they do.

                It's not an either/or choice. It's not either they're greedy or it's the structure of capitalism. In my opinion, capitalism encourages greed, and the greedy. It's like a call to arms for them. It's like this humungous neon sign that tells greedy people that we have the perfect vehicle, right here, right now, for your greed.

                Again, very few of us, as a percentage, go into business ownership to begin with. Just 7 million businesses have employees in America. And an even smaller subset seeks to make a killing from business. Most of us are content with making a living, not a killing. Capitalism makes the latter possible to a greater extent than any previous system. It basically legalizes and institutionalizes international inequality, and comes with this ginormous propaganda machine that says this is all great for everyone . . . and virtuous.

                No previous economic system has ever had this level of PR. And no previous system ever needed so much PR.

  •  Capitalism is about saving assets for future use. (6+ / 0-)

    That involves an ability to comprehend the concept of time. Many people, including, it seems, a bunch of economists, lack the sense of time. So, they get stuck at the accumulating of things they extract and exact, ignoring use and usefulness entirely. They do, in fact, consume what they need to sustain themselves and effectively destroy the rest by letting it go to waste.
    When these people follow this pattern of behavior virtually with figments of the imagination (money), their physical impact is actually less. Not only is money infinite, but in its electronic form it has almost no palpable effect. The accumulators can be isolated in their own gated enclaves. We need not let their obsessions affect the producers and recyclers. If people are starving, it's not because there is not enough food; it's because some people want to dominate and exploit other people. That's not capitalism; that's parasitism. Natural parasites target a different species. Humans are peculiar in that they target their own kind. Human parasites are an aberration, but they seem to show up everywhere and in all times.
    Parasitism is modified predation in that it does not kill the host outright. Perhaps it persists in the human genome as a necessary variable, just in case co-operation fails. Perhaps it is the consequence of some commonly occurring pre-natal or peri-natal insult that severs some circuits in the brain, to disconnect the cognitive functions from the emotive stem.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 02:34:11 AM PDT

  •  I came to the same conclusion in High School (9+ / 0-)

    This was in the early 60s.

    I listed about 16 reasons why Capitalism would fail in the long run. I predicted that we would first have a Right Wing revolution because of the concentration of wealth brought on by technology. I then predicted that Capitalism would completely crash and we would finally be forced to design an economic/political system that worked. Capitalism and democracy are mutually exclusive. You can't have a system that creates wealth and power that is consistent with the principle of democracy, that is, that the system is run for the benefit of all of the people. That was only one of the reasons, the rest were equally as potent.

    If you make competition, greed and power your prime objective then you get our current political/economic state.

    If you make cooperation your prime objective then you get something totally different. I believe that there is very good evidence that our species evolved successfully because we have the genetically given traits to cooperate in large groups. Cooperation is inherent in the species. If you compete then you have a winner and a loser. If you cooperate then you have two winners. Cooperation brought about infrastructure and technology. These increased productivity. The temptation, then, was for that wealth to be concentrated in a few hands, the elite. The greater the wealth the more inevitable the concentration, thus describing where we are today.

    The issue always boils down to ownership of significant property of public interest, and I mean this in the general sense. The challenge is to define a system in which this ownership of capital is used in the public interest. Communism tried the direct approach, the is, the State simply owned everything. That worked poorly because it removed incentive for efficiency and bred corruption. Capitalism puts those resources necessary to run our lives in the hands of a few individuals. That also doesn't work. There is a way to do this, though. Here are some ideas:

    1) Large economic entities have no owners. They own themselves. Excess capital cannot be accrued to individuals.

    2) Rule based behavior of economic entities, with oversight. e.g. first do no harm

    3) Economic entities are run in the public trust.

    4) Capital is broad based mostly from retirement accounts and is allocated on a combination of rules and oversight. Opportunity is available to anyone with a good idea and the skills to implement it.

    5) Total separation of economic entities and politics.

  •  Capitalism Always Fails Unless Regulated (9+ / 0-)

    Capitalism's driving force always insists on greater efficiency, ultimately leading to monopoly.  This concept works well in a system in which the rules are created from outside the capitalist players but contains the seeds of its own destruction when the capitalists rule the system.  Because of the urge for increasingly greater efficiency in order to improve profits, capitalism will inevitably result in monopolies throughout the society.  Once monopolies are created, if the business enterprises rule the political system, they can change the rules of the game to ensure their continued thriving and existence.  Once monopolies are gaming the total societal system, the rot sets in because competition will go away and monopolies will set policies to maximize profits under the policies they feel they alone will be able to establish.  Any bolt from the blue will result in the whole edifice collapsing.  That might account for the reason that apparently strong, stable tyrannies (like the Soviet Union or even ancient Assyria) have disappeared in the twinkling of an eye.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 06:17:04 AM PDT

  •  Because ownership leads to motivation (8+ / 0-)

    and motivation leads to progress.  

    Capitalism takes advantage of one overwhelming human trait -- self interest.  Simply stated, I will invest extra years in an education, I will work nights and weekends, as a way to better myself and my family.  As a way to benefit nameless, faceless, "society as a whole," when I do not see any significant difference in the lives of me personally or my family?  Not so much.  

    People who advocate a more socialist economy, in my opinion, greatly underestimate self interest as a motivating factor.  

    Capitalism is not perfect.  And it needs to be regulated to make sure that the "average" person (without physical or mental disabilities) can better his or her situation in life through things like investing in education, working hard, and intelligence/ingenuity.  Notice I said "better his or her situation," not become a zillionaire.  Capitalism is never going to be completely "fair," because life can never be completely "fair."  Some people are always going to be born with traits that we are willing to reward more than others. (I wish I had been born a seven foot tall man with an uncanny ability to through a ball through a hoop, but I'm not.)  And there needs to be a safety net for those who cannot take care of themselves because of physical or mental disabilities, for example. And there needs to be intervention for people who are born into more difficult situations, or people who have made bad choices, to help them make better choices for themselves and their families.  But the advantage to a capitalistic system is that, properly administered, most people can make choices -- even if those choices are difficult -- that result in a better life for that person and his/her family.  That is the motivation that gets people to make those more difficult choices. That is what provides motivation for the advances in society -- self-interest.  We are all human, after all.  

    I agree that capitalism is not a perfect system.  But -- properly administered -- it is far better than the alternative.  

    •  There is not just *one* alternative, though, (6+ / 0-)

      unless you're playing the Aristotelian mind game that "everything that isn't A is Not-A".

      Taken to extremes, this mind game leads to logical fallacies at best, raving lunacies at worst.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 08:07:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "The alternative" is a system (0+ / 0-)

        where we lessen the link between a person's choices and his/her own economic self-interest (or ownership of property) -- a system where, as the diary advocates, we move away from individual ownership of property.  

        I recognize that there is not one model for such as system, any more than there is one mode for capitalism.  Capitalism, too, takes a number of different forms.  

        I simply believe strongly that a system based largely on personal ownership of property is much more likely to benefit more people than a system that is not based  largely on personal ownership of property, because the latter discounts the notion that people are motivated by personal ownership.  

        •  Designing an economic system that ignores (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          coffeetalk

          people tending to act in their economic self interest is like an  architect designing a building that ignores the existence of  gravity.  

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 01:03:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Capitalism totally ignores that reality. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lucid, viriginia liberal, Cassiodorus

            It's designed OBVIOUSLY for business owners and their economic self-interest, which is in direct conflict with the economic self-interest of everyone who doesn't want to own or run a business, and with everyone who works for someone else.

            Capitalism is set up for the economic self-interest of a tiny fraction of society, while real socialism is set up for the self-interest of the entire society.

            Remember, "self-interest" extends beyond the merely economic -- which was far more clear to far more people BEFORE capitalism made the economic realm dominant above all others.

            But even if we just take the economic self-interest part, capitalism goes against the economic self-interest of the majority because it lets a tiny minority set prices and wages -- especially wages -- and it sets them so that that tiny fraction benefits far and away above the majority.

    •  You're not thinking about the consequences (3+ / 0-)

      We can't all 'better' ourselves in a capitalist context because it will result in our destruction as a species. There simply aren't enough resources for the pyramid scheme.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:23:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, the assumption in a capitalist economy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kvetchnrelease, thestructureguy

        is that those for whom things like wealth and property are more important will do more to attain those things.  Those for whom other things are more important (a less pressured life? more free time?) will not do the things necessary to increase their wealth and property.  

        And yes, most of us can "better" ourselves in a properly administered capitalist society.  There are all sorts of studies showing that there is a direct correlation between level of education and income.  There are all sorts of studies showing that if a person (1) gets an education and/or a marketable skill; and (2) does not have children before he/she is married or in a long-term stable relationship where there will be two employed parents to raise the child, that person is far, far, far less likely to end up in poverty.  Most of us can affect our economic situation by the choices we make.  There needs to be a safety net for people who make wrong choices, to help them get in a situation where they can make better choices.  Or a safety net for people who make good choices but through circumstances beyond their control end up in dire economic straights.  But capitalism assumes that rewards in terms of better income will act as a motivation for people to do things that they don't necessarily want to do (absent the financial motivation) and to make better choices.  

        Simply put, if you graduate from high school and go to a state public college and major in engineering and graduate, you have a far, far, far, far better chance of making a decent living than if you have a child at 16 and drop of out high school.   We as a society need to encourage young people to make that kind of choice. If you graduate from high school, and learn a marketable skill that does not require a college education, you have a far, far, far better chance of making a decent living than if you have a child at 16 and drop out of high school.  We as a society need to encourage young people to make that kind of choice.  And capitalism needs to provide the means for young people to make those choices.  For some, of course, it will be more difficult to make those choices than for others, but we need to provide the assistance for young people to make those choices, and do what is necessary (difficult as that may be in some instances) to better their own economic situation.  That's what I mean by my statement that, for most people, they can make choices that will increase their chances of having a decent standard of living. Our economic system,in general (and properly administered) rewards those who make the choices necessary to increase their own standard of living.  That increase in their standard of living is the motivation for them to do things that otherwise they might not choose to do.  

        What this diary advocates in its criticism of capitalism is a system where we would lessen the link between those kinds of choices and one's personal economic situation - where we assume that people will make those good choices even without a strong self-interest as the motivation.  And given that we are all human, and that for virtually all of us, self-interest (what's best for us and for those whom we love, like our family) is most important, I don't think a system like that will be successful.  

        •  I reject philosophically the Anglo-saxon (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          diomedes77, Tonedevil

          formulation of self-interest. It is at fundamental odds with the continental tradition wrt to 'self interest'. Kant speaks a lot about self-interest as well & considers it the basis of society. However, he also sees it as the basis of moral law - namely the moral recognition that every else also has self-interest. It is the fundamental process of recognition that differentiates the immature notion of freedom [found in the Brits] from continental notion of freedom. Freedom is only possible when it is universally recognized as the condition of every human - of every self-interested party. This is essentially Kant's 'kingdom of ends' - treat every rational being as an end in themselves.

          Marx recognized that capitalism introduced and nurtured the atomized notion of freedom, and predicted it's collapse because it would never be able to actualize the mature notion of human freedom, i.e. self-determination. The mode of social organization within capitalism is fundamentally at odds with human freedom. Our economic system rewards hording, inefficient energy waste, the creation of useless needs. It in fact limits our choices and cages us such that we waste our time and energy, and non-renewable resources as we struggle to make enough scratch just to continue our own miserable existence.

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 05:26:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Now let's cherry-pick observations the other way. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lucid, Tonedevil
          Those for whom other things are more important (a less pressured life? more free time?) will not do the things necessary to increase their wealth and property.
          Of course, if you're born into the investor class you don't have to do anything because the rest of the world already works for you (or pays rent to you).
          There are all sorts of studies showing that if a person (1) gets an education and/or a marketable skill; and (2) does not have children before he/she is married or in a long-term stable relationship where there will be two employed parents to raise the child, that person is far, far, far less likely to end up in poverty.
          1) those who control the market decide what gets to be a "marketable skill."  One must have significant resources already ready-to-hand if one is to hire someone else and thus to define what constitutes a "job" -- those are the people who control the market.  This cuts to the heart of the diarist's main point.  Skills which involve sustainable modes of subsistence?  Not so marketable.  There are plenty of these not-so-marketable skills which the human race will desperately need when the capitalist system is through plundering planet Earth.

          2) The point of "getting an education" typically has very little to do with having a "marketable skill," and everything to do with artificial criteria displayed on job descriptions specifying that job applicants "must have a (name) degree."  What one learns in the process of getting a business degree, for instance, typically has little to do with what one does with one's business degree after graduation.  The point is to create a system for weeding out some people and granting privileges to others.  If an employer really wants you to have a skill, you will be trained appropriately once you are hired.

          Most of us can affect our economic situation by the choices we make.
          Class mobility these days, already very low, is about zero.  Here's a snapshot of the real process at work: "Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth As Rich-Poor Gap Widened."  Investors get to profit off of the labor of others, who merely profit from the surplus earned above and beyond what they require for subsistence under capitalism.
          Our economic system,in general (and properly administered) rewards those who make the choices necessary to increase their own standard of living.
          This is completely redundant.  Our economic system rewards those who choose to be rewarded by our economic system.
          What this diary advocates in its criticism of capitalism is a system where we would lessen the link between those kinds of choices and one's personal economic situation
          Since this link, i.e. the prospect of class mobility, is damned close to being nothing at all, there really isn't much to brag about here.  People are obliged to work not because they are enticed by economic improvement, but rather because they are horrified by the prospect of poverty as it is created and maintained by the capitalist system and its client governments.
          where we assume that people will make those good choices even without a strong self-interest as the motivation.
          My self interest depends intimately upon the forthcoming end of the capitalist system and its replacement with a system of political economy that is not so recklessly destructive of ecosystem integrity.

          "America no longer has a left-wing." -- Paul Craig Roberts

          by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:17:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  People work hard without owning the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lucid, Tonedevil

      company they work for.

      The vast majority of people are employees, not employers. In fact, there are roughly 7 million business owners with employees in America -- compared with some 130 million workers.

      If your premise were true, then 130 million people wouldn't have any incentive at all to go to work, put in a solid day's work, and try to "better themselves."

      We have never, ever needed private ownership of the means of production. It's never been necessary. Owners tell us it is, because they want to continue to have the chance to exploit workers for their own, personal gain. They want to keep up the indoctrination that says without private ownership of the means of production, nothing would get done.

      Again, given the fact that the vast majority of working adults DON'T own the company they work for, we know that's nonsense.

  •  When was capitalism invented? This is one (5+ / 0-)

    of the most important questions.  

    It was at one time a truly revolutionary practice, one that over the ensuing several hundred years literally moved mountains, shook seas, changed the face of the earth, and worked both great good and great evil on this planet.

    But it is an old idea.  

    The questions you ask make sense to us, but we have the benefit of post-Marx, post-nineteenth- and twentieth-century labor movements, and post-social activism hindsight to see how necessary those questions are; indeed, to be able to conceptualize those questions in the first place.  

    The first practitioners and then theorists of capitalism saw no problem with resources being owned; capitalism developed out of a Western, European world in which individuals, families and institutions had been conquering, stealing, invading and taking over resources for millennia.  

    As far as "allowing the few to rule over the many," capitalism ain't the only guilty party.  Go to most societies and cultures in world history, and you will find that it was a feature built in-- or imposed-- with ceaseless variations on the theme.

    However, some of the social, material and cultural infrastructures that generated capitalism, and on which it relied for centuries, are now deeply altered, or nearly disappeared.  

    What does that have to do with the kind of capitalism we have now?  Does modern capitalism make sense, given those fundamental changes and big shifts?

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 08:23:43 AM PDT

    •  It evolved in a time of ever-expanding (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, concernedamerican

      resource exploitation, i.e. colonialism. Your right - the world is very different now, and unless we plan on colonizing Mars, we cannot sustain it.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:26:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  EVEN IF we plan on colonizing Mars (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lucid, Tonedevil, richardvjohnson

        and every other semi-plausible piece of real estate in the Solar System.

        Short of some kind of mass teleportation system, there's no way there would ever be enough return on investment - and I suspect the required energy input would be prohibitive anyway (on the order of a supernova explosion?).

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:51:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism came out of the crisis of feudalism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      after the Black Death of 1348-1351 -- with one-third of Europe dead, the working class was in a position to demand a better standard of living, but since the working class was composed of peasants living under a manorial system (aka feudalism), there were no higher wages to demand.  So from the perspective of the nobility something had to be done to maintain a structure of class privilege in light of crises of old frameworks of exploitation.

      The nobility responded, over time, either by imposing "absolute" monarchies over the workers (what the French did), or by privatizing the commons upon which the workers resided and herding the workers into cities (which is what the English did).  The second option, the English one, became global capitalism.

      "America no longer has a left-wing." -- Paul Craig Roberts

      by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:46:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And the alternative would be for people (0+ / 0-)

    responsible for distributing resources to steal them. B/c this is what happens when smth like this is tried.

    •  Capitalism already requires theft. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, Tonedevil

      It was built on theft, just as systems of economic apartheid are built on theft. Profit is built on theft, by definition, in capitalism.

      In order to profit from an exchange, you have to get more in return than you give.

      The alternative would be to stop stealing -- from workers, from indigenous peoples, from consumers, from our common resources as humans. Our common birthright as humans.

      Capitalism was born from theft, slavery, oppression. It boggles the mind that it has ANY supporters at this point beyond capitalists.

    •  This is what happens under capitalism. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil

      The exploitation of labor is merely an alternative to the theft which the capitalists practice every day anyway.

      So a typical line of the defenders of capitalism is that "the alternative to capitalism is capitalism."  They are so immersed in the system that they cannot see an alternative, much as fish do not conceive of living in something other than water.

      "America no longer has a left-wing." -- Paul Craig Roberts

      by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:22:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect that Capitalism is a lot like (0+ / 0-)

    Democracy, insofar as it is the worst possible option except for all the other alternatives.

    In this regard I totally agree with George W Bush in that things would be much better if somebody would simply endow me as Dictator (of everything)

    •  That points to the root of the problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fuzzyguy, Tonedevil, leema

      People get invested in thinking of capitalism as a political system - when it is really just an economic system that flourishes under many different political systems, including, perversely, some of the most draconian forms of totalitarianism.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:21:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Still, the open question remains "what is the (0+ / 0-)

        alternative"?

        The problem being that no other economic system has shown much promise (unless you are enamored with China's strange mix of of totalitarianism and capitalism - which is either the best or worst of both worlds, depending on how one looks at it).

        •  Try cooperatives...look up Mondragon etc (4+ / 0-)

          Gar Alperovitz has a book out on what next that offers systems that are viable and have a track record.  You just don't hear much about them...cause they aren't on the corporate radar.

          Try State Banks: read Ellen Brown's books.  

          Dollarocracy is not Democracy

          by leema on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 02:15:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I understand that one can sit down and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep

            propose all kinds of wonderful and plausible ideas in theory.

            But in reality they don't tend to work out all that well for any number of reasons - in most cases simply due to human nature (read: greed).

            •  Guess you didn't look up Mondragon. n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, Cassiodorus

              Dollarocracy is not Democracy

              by leema on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 02:46:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Human's are not naturally "greedy." (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lucid, Tonedevil

              That's a cartoon version of human nature created by the people it benefits the most:

              The 1%.

              In reality, that 1% is greedy, the alphas, the sociopaths, whereas most of us are fine with getting by, living in peace, trying to enjoy life.

              Humans actually lived communally for their first 200,000 years on the planet. We are "naturally" a social people, given to sharing, given to cooperation. We just have this highly aggressive, often vicious alpha class that has tried to ram a vision of human nature down our throats that really only fits for them.

              And they've succeeded all too well.

              It's a great trick, too. Make your own sociopathology the "norm" and it sustains your ability to be a sociopath.

              •  What's worse, it's contagious (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lucid, Tonedevil

                or at least it makes it easier for other sociopaths to climb to the top of the ladder and become excessively influential - and pretty soon you have a kakistocracy (rule by the worst).

                There's a book, Political Ponerology, which tries to explain it, but the author's own history sounds just a leetle teeny bit paranoid...possibly with some reason.

                http://www.ponerology.com/

                If it's
                Not your body,
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                And it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:59:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  But it is fundamentally unsustainable (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, marsanges, richardvjohnson

      so we better start thinking about our options.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:27:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  capitalism is nothing but a scam... (7+ / 0-)

    ...remember that "invisible hand" of capitalism that was supposed to guarantee that corporations acted in the public good because it was in their long-term interests? Remember the "invisible hand" that would eventually provide economic equitability as market forces overcame all obstacles? Remember that "invisible hand" of "self-regulation" that was built into the capitalist system? Remember that "invisible hand" of capitalism that would guarantee corporations would operate in a moral and ethical way because the "invisible hand" would force them to?

    Well, that so-called "invisible hand" of capitalism is invisible, that's for sure. Because it doesn't exist. Capitalism has proven, if nothing else, that corporations are either incapable for unwilling to self-regulate. They've proven that, given the chance, a small number of greedy pigs would use the capitalist system to their own personal advantage while screwing everyone they felt necessary in the process.

    Capitalism has no "invisible hand."  It is nothing but pure greed.

  •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil, richardvjohnson, lucid
    If you live on a finite planet, with finite, albeit renewable, necessary resources supporting its inhabitants, how do you most efficiently distribute those resources so that everyone has what they need to live and prosper, the ecological balance is the least disturbed and the distribution is sustainable indefinitely with respect to the totality of inhabitants?
    This will be rejected as a loaded question by both the elites and the suckers. What about lazy or stupid people? Why should the get anything? I should be able to obtain anything & everything I want, even if others suffer, you can't limit my access to infinitudes of stuff. etc.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 09:40:45 AM PDT

  •  The Economic Problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid, Tonedevil
    "If you live on a finite planet, with finite, albeit renewable, necessary resources supporting its inhabitants, how do you most efficiently distribute those resources so that everyone has what they need to live and prosper, the ecological balance is the least disturbed and the distribution is sustainable indefinitely with respect to the totality of inhabitants?"
    That in essence was the content of the first part of Richard Heilbroner's classic economic textbook of the 1960s, a section he titled "The Economic Problem".

    There are three ways to approach this problem.  The first is cultural tradition binding over time with sets of rules into which each succeeding generation is socialized.  One rule might be, for example, do not destroy nut trees until they have produced nuts for twenty years in succession; then, only destroy them to make fine hardwood useful and artistic objects.  Or rules for the distribution of goods and services by the types of labor performed.

    The second is through some political process that looks at the facts at issue and makes consensual political decision based on tradeoffs.

    The third is to use a market to sort out supply and demand by the usefulness or personal preferences of people and the difficulty of production.

    So with that, you have to ask what exactly you mean by "efficiency".  Are we talking in terms of physics and mechanical efficiency?  Are we talking about economic efficiency in clearing the transactions so there are no shortages and no waste?  What exactly does "efficiency" mean?

    My solution to the problem goes something like this.  There are cultural limits to how and how much you can exploit natural resources, labor, or physical capital, and those are expressed as a set of traditional rules.  These rules set the boundaries so that you do not outstrip the limits of the environment.

    Certain goods and services are infrastructure for society.  These include a food security system, transportation system, provision of water and waste disposal, communication system, information processing syste, educational system, energy system, health care system.  They all have a uniform standard for all users and are provided by through political action and participation.

    The remaining goods and services are distributed in two ways: through a gift system or through exchange.  And around both of these are strong cultural rules and most likely political mechanisms for adjudicating conflicts.

    Notice that it is not a "pure" system in terms of fundamental ideas.  It is not based on a single strategy of solution.  And different populations in different times and places on the planet could implement these in different ways.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 03:48:42 PM PDT

    •  That's a really interesting way to look at it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TarheelDem, Cassiodorus, Tonedevil

      I don't think a solution needs to be 'pure'. It can certainly contain the idea of markets in a limited sense.

      What I mean by 'efficiency' is that because we live in a society in which no ones basic needs are provided for, we're forced to create industries that serve no useful purpose except to waste resources in order to employ people so they can continue to exist. I would guess that 80% of our economy is produces nothing of value. The resource waste supporting that is not only inefficient, but insane and unsustainable.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 05:33:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you are the person to decide (0+ / 0-)

        what is of "value" and what is not?

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 08:38:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We don't really need -- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lucid, Tonedevil

          advertisers, market analysts, sports teams, bankers, lawyers, politicians, insurance reps, salespeople, cashiers, cops, judges, prison guards, and so on... we might "value" them, but our "valuing" of them persists as a byproduct of our entrapment in the existing system of political economy.

          lucid's comment points to an alternative system in which everyone produced something that people would need.  The vast reserves of labor-time saved by not pursuing wasteful business could be re-employed in activities to mitigate our global ecological crisis.

          "America no longer has a left-wing." -- Paul Craig Roberts

          by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:28:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was going to simply point to (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus, Tonedevil

            The financial sector before seeing your comment. Here is an example of a huge industry that contributes exactly zero value to the world (and I say this as one who earns a good share of their income as an accountant).

            “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

            by lucid on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:06:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Who gets to decide what I need? (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

            Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

            by milkbone on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 10:25:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, because even though (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil

          I firmly believe in small d democracy and am an avowed anarchist, I'm actually a closet totalitarian.

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 09:57:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What an impressive collection of intelligent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid

    responses to questions which defy assuming the status quo.  No anticapitalist system, from Italian 'corporatism' to Soviet 'communism' has ever resulted in anything but thuggery and theft.  But we're seeing in the current stage of capitalism (and maybe not so much before the 1980s) social outcomes that are equally evil, and an astonishing degree of theft and rent-seeking.
    Clearly what we have is bad, the question is how to get to something else without mass slaughter and starvation.
    Perhaps the answer is in the very first question, about the ownership of resources.  Can't be joint ownership of everything by all of humanity, too impractical; but somehow local shared ownership?  Then there's the problem of defining the local entities which could exercise the ownership and how they would be controlled, so back to democracy in some form.  What about 'resources' (coal mines in KY and WV for example) which have definite economic value but which most of us would pay to NOT exploit.  That wouldn't make the locals happy.  Do we subsidize/bribe them to keep their planet-killing coal in the ground?    
    Only one thing is for sure - if we don't ask these questions and try to change the way things are, we acquiesce to the probable decline of our species/civilization (whatever the heck it is) and the possible extermination of all life.

    •  Re (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      richardvjohnson, hmi
      Can't be joint ownership of everything by all of humanity, too impractical
      There's another bigger problem here.

      If ownership is divided among everyone in the world equally: does my stake (or that of my existing children) get diluted because someone else decides to have a child?

      How do you resolve this conflict?

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 04:53:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The forced answer to that will be limiting (0+ / 0-)

        reproduction for the simple reason that immortality will be with us all too soon, and what then?  Reproduction will have to become something exceptional, something earned by great humanitarian or artistic accomplishment.
        And clearly the world needs a lot less people, not more.  It will have less one way or another, either by choice or by war and famine and rising sea levels.  A world population of a few hundred million would allow plenty of wealth to spread around. And that's about what might be sustainable for the next millenium.

    •  the first task I believe is to create a society (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      diomedes77, richardvjohnson

      in which everyone's basic needs are met. That would rid us of the need for resource waste required to employ everyone in businesses that create absolutely no value so they can eat.

      Beyond that, yes I think some form of communal ownership & democratic governance of how resources are used would be required - that could take a lot of different shapes.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 05:37:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Soviets only got to State Capitalism. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lucid, richardvjohnson, Tonedevil

      They never made their way into a true alternative to capitalism. China, North Korea, same thing.

      It's command and control, state capitalism.

      It's so frustrating to read, again and again, how no alternative ever has worked, so we're stuck, even though no real alternative has ever been TRIED.

      At least not since the advent of capitalism, some five hundred years ago -- with its slow climb to dominance, especially in the 19th century.

      Let's stop repeating the talking point that everything has failed to supplant it until such a thing has actually happened.

      •  Anarchism is what hasn't been tried, and was (0+ / 0-)

        brutally suppressed by the Communists in Spain, as if fighting Franco and fascism wasn't enough.  
        I didn't say no alternative could work, just that so far they didn't, and capitalism came out looking pretty good from say 1933-1980, but has now become as bad as anything.  Fox News and the state-controlled media in North Korea look pretty similar to me.
        Though it doesn't address ownership of basic raw materials, the anarcho-syndicalist idea that a factory might best be run by its workers under their joint control seems pretty common-sense and basic.  Except in revolutionary Catalunya it's hardly ever been tried.  
        And if that could work, maybe mines controlled by the miners, farms controlled by farm workers...

        •  Maybe 1947-1973. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          richardvjohnson

          The entire world was still in the state of depression for most of the 30s. But I get your point.

          That said, that brief period was basically it for capitalism. Before and since, we had/have various forms of robber baron economics.

          I definitely am in favor of worker-owned businesses, but as a precursor to full public ownership. If we can never get to the latter -- my ideal -- then the former is far preferable to the current regime.

          And by "public ownership" I don't mean by political parties, or even "governments." I mean in the real sense that the citizens of this country would own all means of production, together. By right. By constitutional right.

          No political party could usurp that.

          My dream society would be one without political parties, in fact. They would be banned. No ruling class or any class, for that matter. We'd have full, direct democracy, with local, regional and national reps chosen via lottery. No elections. You do your time as a rep then go back home. Kinda like a military commitment, but it's pure civics. Everyone rotates in, with exemptions made for reasons of health, etc. etc.

          All products must be approved by local councils with full local votes, using local, regional and national guidelines (and the new constitution) for safety, health, environmental impact, etc. Same thing for wages and prices, and we'd have no money or profit.

          Will do a diary on this soon.

          •  Yes, reps chosen by lottery, it's the only (0+ / 0-)

            equitable solution.  Like my grand jury, randomly chosen, all ethnic groups, surprisingly total agreement because people are really not all that stupid and self-serving when given the chance.  I look forward to your diary.

  •  Derivatives: Thought Experiment on Capitalism (0+ / 0-)

    Derivatives: Thought Experiment on Capitalism
    Fictitious Capital multitrillion dollar nightmare.

    Fi

  •  I've been saying for years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coldwynn, diomedes77

    that capitalism as it is presently understood is basically a suicide cult, kool-aid and all. The followers of the Invisible Hand may yet be the downfall of the human species.

    "Forecast for tomorrow? A few sprinkles of genius with a chance of doom!" -Stewie Griffin

    by quillsinister on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 07:24:19 PM PDT

  •  Let me scare you. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid
    "If you live on a finite planet, with finite, albeit renewable, necessary resources supporting its inhabitants, how do you most efficiently distribute those resources so that everyone has what they need to live and prosper, the ecological balance is the least disturbed and the distribution is sustainable indefinitely with respect to the totality of inhabitants?"
    Define "everyone" in numerical terms, please. Because while you appear to treat that number as a fixed constant, I don't think the capitalists do that.
    2. Through this ownership of necessary resources, create scarcity such that all inhabitants not privileged to 'own' are required to labor for their owners to exploit those resources in order to have access to a bare minimum of those resources in order to continue to live.
    I think you are over-generous in thinking that the capitalists intentionally leave a bare minimum for the labor class to continue to live.

    I think the capitalists have been limited in how much they can cut back on the 'expenses' of labor at any one time.

    I think through the wonders of conglomeration the capitalists are working toward a re-institution of the truck system.

    And as for my impression that capitalists consider 'everyone' to be a numerical variable, there is always war. That would reduce the numbers of resource-users thus freeing up plenty of land / water / ski slopes for the capitalists to have. Just have a few wars, but don't bother to armor the humvees or the troops (and we saw that happen once already!)

    So I think the capitalists' answer to your original question is to reject a path of 'efficiency' and ignore any goals of prosperity that include 'everyone', and instead choose the path of reducing the numbers that feed off of "their resources". War, famine, pestilence, death. Capitalists have before, and will again, use the four horseman to free up resources if they think they aren't getting what they deserve.

    "Let them eat cake".

    Sig line is from the bruce springsteen song 'death to my hometown'.

    Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.

    by JayFromPA on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 07:36:42 PM PDT

    •  We know this because of Foxconn and other (0+ / 0-)

      hell holes.

      We know that it's not just the capitalists of the 19th century who knew no bounds of exploitation. It's 2013 corporations, including the beloved Apple of Steven Jobs.

      Paying workers in China 70 cents an hour and driving them to suicide proves that they would do this here, if they could. If they could get away with it, they would.

  •  Capitalism is a System of Exploitation (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone who thinks the PTB of the times would concoct a system where the privileged would have to fairly compete toe-to-toe with anyone is not ... paying attention. The privileged have always stacked the deck.

    It's not to say there isn't competition, yada, yada, yada, rather the competition is limited in domain. A true capitalist is left to fight over the scraps rentiers have left or allowed to be tasted.

    Capitalism is an economic system designed by, of, and for the privileged to exploit labor and capitalists. This won't change for several decades.

  •  It is crazy, isn't it? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lucid

    The whole idea is crazy. Put all our trust into the hands of business owners whose sole purpose is to make money for themselves, and then hope they "do the right thing", pay decent wages, avoid pollution, avoid making crappy products because they can, etc. etc.

    The internal dynamics of capitalism leads to massive waste, massive concentration of wealth, rotten wages, rotten working conditions, and the production of products no one really needs. It's also destroying the planet.

    It must grow. It must expand on this finite planet, regardless of the consequences. It must increase consumption or it dies.

    Other than that, it's great, cuz, well, we get Ipads!!!!

    •  Years ago (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      diomedes77, offgrid

      Darksyde wrote a diary about what it's like to be an atheist. I find myself in a very similar position vis avis capitalism. I just don't get it [and I make my living as an accountant]. I look at it and see right through it while almost everyone around me seems enamored of its 'efficiencies' and its 'freedoms'. When I look at it, all I see is waste and indentured servitude. It seems insane to me.

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 10:04:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. And its "efficiencies" are myth, too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lucid, Tonedevil

        No system can possibly be called "efficient" when it distributes resources -- not to mention wealth -- in such a lopsided manner.

        The richest 20% of the world consumes 85% of all resources. Any system that leaves just 15% for the bottom 80% is an epic failure.

        And that's not even accounting for things like education, health care, a non-toxic place to live, etc. That's just basic consumption proportions.

        Three billion humans live on less than 2.50 a day, while the 1% live like kings and the 0.1% live like sultans. Tens of millions of people die of starvation, while those sultans throw away food that got too cold at the dinner table.

        As for wealth. The richest 400 Americans now hold as much wealth as the bottom 60% of the country combined. Again, no system that creates that level of apartheid can be deemed "efficient." Except if by "efficient" one means the obscenely aggressive concentration of wealth at the top.

        Yes, most certainly, capitalism wins that test hands down.

  •  In my sustainable utopia... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    diomedes77

    Travel is difficult.  If comfortable, fast transportation is less available then there is an economic incentive for leisure, work, food, community involvement, etc., to be local.

    We make fewer babies, invest more in their well-being.

    We have a minimalist aesthetic.

    It's all about slow, high quality vegetarian dining with friends.  Eating meat is the new smoking.  We tax meat.

    A 25 hour work week is mandated by law.  It's illegal for anyone to work more than 30.

    Natural habitat restoration is a high status leisure pursuit.

    We define ourselves by our skills, knowledge, activities and character and not by what we own or consume.

    There is a steeply progressive income tax.

    The US stops selling arms to other nations. Vastly reduces defense spending.  Engages a foreign policy that actually promotes peaceful cooperation among nations.

    Wow.  Utopias are hard work...

  •  A capitalist doesn't ask those questions. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, lucid, Tonedevil

    It would look more like this:

    "If you live on a finite planet, with finite, albeit renewable, necessary resources supporting its inhabitants, how do you most efficiently profitably distribute those resources commodities so that everyone has what they need to live and prosper can purchase those goods, the ecological balance is the least disturbed and the distribution profitability is sustainable exponential indefinitelywith respect to the totality of inhabitants?"

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 06:18:50 AM PDT

  •  No one lives beyond the age of 35, ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tonedevil
    how do you most efficiently distribute those resources so that everyone has what they need to live and prosper, the ecological balance is the least disturbed and the distribution is sustainable indefinitely with respect to the totality of inhabitants?"
    ...or until your Costco sized tub of peanut oil runs out.


    I think clowns wear makeup just to get my attention. Actually, I’m more of the big shoe type.

    by glb3 on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 01:09:03 PM PDT

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