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Author Topic: How Would One Reduce Inequality?  (Read 23264 times)

GreatJustice

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Re: How Would One Reduce Inequality?
« Reply #150 on: October 21, 2012, 03:05:22 pm »

Sure.  That would be easy.  Except that I have to continue supporting a family while I build up this other thing to be able to support me at some later point.  It's actually near impossible.  I've suspected for a while, but at this point I'm almost certain that you're not a working adult.  If you are, you've either had plenty of opportunity handed to you, you've never actually entertained any ambitions, or you're simply trolling.  There's a reason rags to riches stories aren't a daily phenomenon.

It didn't take me long after becoming full-time employed to realize that it's a trap.  Once you're there, your ability to create other opportunities for yourself is almost completely demolished.  There's just no time.

Let's break down the day, and I'll do this generously.  Let's say you work 8 hours and sleep 8 hours in a day.  That's 16 hours gone.  Now take your standard half hour lunch break.  My commuting time averages about 30 minutes a day, so I'll go with that.  That's 17 hours gone.  Now take your other two meals a day outside of work and basic bathroom activities and the like.  That's at least another hour, being very generous.  That's 18 hours gone.

That's 6 hours absolute maximum that a person has to themselves in a day.  That's if they're completely mechanical about going from Point A to Point B in their daily routine.  Six hours a day is decently sufficient for accomplishing meaningful things.  Starting a personal business is fairly ambitious, but doable with that much time freely available every day, plus weekends.

Now factor in maintaining relationships with friends and family, regular chores and errands such as cleaning and grocery shopping, exercise, longer commutes, overtime or multiple jobs, random life events such as illnesses or social obligations, keeping up with news and otherwise being an informed citizen, a hobby so that stress doesn't kill you in your mid-30's (like my grandfather who worked himself to death), and god forbid you actually have a significant other or children you need to spend time with.  Yeah.  Most of these are things you have little control over, and any combination of them locks your life in place pretty damn hard.

I've actually been working with a small start-up business the last couple months.  I think it will probably be at least a year before it turns into a paying gig.  In the meantime, I'm neglecting my family and haven't done anything for fun in a couple weeks.  I haven't done anything with a friend in months.  I'm feeling it.  It worries the hell out of me.  I have a family history of stress-related illnesses, and have suffered them myself in the past.  I've had two MRSA infections during two of the most stressful periods of my life, and the last one nearly took my arm.

It's thoroughly bullshit, to the point that I could easily take such a flippant statement as "you could go into business yourself, you know" as insult if I wanted, due to the nature of what that statement implies versus everything the suggestion actually entails.  I'm just pointing this out for you, though.  I don't think you actually meant insult.

Okay. So how would the introduction of a propertyless, Mutualist society help you in particular?

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They have the access to the same data as the capitalist. They can hire (or contract) the same experts as the capitalist would hire. I'd like to hear why would they be unable to make a good decision and why some of them retiring would affect the rest of them so much they lose all the expertise obtained. Oh, and what happens when the capitalist dies or sells his business to someone else?

If the workers who are good at making decisions along these lines retire and are replaced by workers who aren't interested in doing so, then their collective decision making ability goes down, especially if those who retire are instrumental in pushing things along.

When a capitalist dies or sells his business to someone else, it transfers to that "someone else". If it was sold, it will either improve from where it was when the previous capitalist had it, or else it will be sold again. When the workers at the factory begin doing things poorly, there is no one else who has accumulated capital to take over.

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No.

So now the workers have to be forced to take all the risk that owning the factory entails?
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I'm afraid that I didn't answer to your questions as you predicted, so this statement no longer makes sense.

Yes indeed, you said "No." with no prelude or explanation to one point and carried on.
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Most of them will most probably just split when they grow too big and cumbersome. Without a single person or small group of persons as the owners, it makes no sense to expand constantly, because more and more money gets spent to manage this monstrosity.

Split to what? Every worker takes his machine and goes home?
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As for such structures going bust, I'm not sure what problems do you see with that.

What happens to them? Under a capitalist, they are either transferred to whoever he sold them to, or are left to his next of kin. Under this system, no one is allowed to have excess "possessions", so obviously they can't save enough to personally restore the factory.
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SalmonGod already answered that.

Personal hardship in saving is not an end-all answer. Do you think entrepreneurs don't risk losing everything in the same way? Certainly some don't, but others stake everything in their businesses, which either pan out or flop.

This also ducks the issue that nearly every worker owned factory in marginally prosperous countries ends up either falling apart or stagnating.

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You answered your own question.

Not quite. The capitalist could just as easily say "I'm being prevented from doing my job by these workers taking my means of production". People attempting to take the machines and convert them for sewing could say the workers are preventing them from sewing. There is no measure of who "owns" the factory since literally anyone could use it.

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At certain point this process becomes self-sustaining. With enough capital, you can hire people who will do all the work for you, including managing your investments and caring for your property. You are also able to influence the state to help you - hamper your competition, influence the market to help you earn more, make a favorable deal with you. Everyone who enters the market after you will have it harder to compete with you for that reason, which makes the game even easier for you.

Certainly, after a point the game is basically rigged in your favour. If the stock market drops, the government will rob the citizens to bring it back up. If the gigantic megacorp is in trouble, the government will give it absurdly good loans. Not to mention small bonuses (eg. a steady inflation rate, in which you, the first to receive "printed" money, effectively get negative interest rates on your stocks and products that the "wage slaves" at the bottom have to pay off), etc. However, that argument is more of an argument against statism in general rather than private ownership of the means of production. After all, there are people like that under state socialism as well, and they are well outside the capitalist system of ownership.
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I'm not thrilled to have my life dictated by someone on the basis that his distant ancestor had a successful workshop in 1836.

I'd be impressed if you could find a significant number of people who are rich because of ancestors from 1836 alone, not in the least because they would have had to have survived several panics in the 19th century, extremely tight competition in the mid to late 19th century, and the Great Depression.

Besides that, if there aren't artificial barriers to entry, it's very much likely that there is a fair bit of competition to this fellow, all of whom would happily take his employees and his customers given the chance.
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The person supporting regenerating health, when asked why you can see when shot in the eye justified it as 'you put on an eyepatch'. When asked what happens when you are then shot in the other eye, he said that you put an eyepatch on that eye. When asked how you'd be able to see, he said that your first eye would have healed by then.

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SalmonGod

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Re: How Would One Reduce Inequality?
« Reply #151 on: October 21, 2012, 03:17:40 pm »

Okay. So how would the introduction of a propertyless, Mutualist society help you in particular?

1.  My job would be obsolete.  Customs brokerage.  Useless imaginary number game manipulation of zero tangible benefit to society.

2.  Even if my job were meaningful, there would be no barriers to more equal participation.  More workers could easily be brought in and the work spread out such that each person need contribute very little to get the job done.  Currently everything is heaped on a bare minimum of workers, and the motives behind this only exist within a capitalist system.

3.  There are about 4 times as many empty homes as homeless people in this country and a huge portion of the food that is produced goes to waste.  There's no reason to deny anybody access to surplus resources, even if they're not productive, offering people who need it the opportunity to take time out from routine and make changes to their lives if needed.
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In the land of twilight, under the moon
We dance for the idiots
As the end will come so soon
In the land of twilight

Maybe people should love for the sake of loving, and not with all of these optimization conditions.

Gantolandon

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Re: How Would One Reduce Inequality?
« Reply #152 on: October 21, 2012, 05:20:42 pm »

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If the workers who are good at making decisions along these lines retire and are replaced by workers who aren't interested in doing so, then their collective decision making ability goes down, especially if those who retire are instrumental in pushing things along.

When a competent manager retires from the company, he is usually replaced by a new one. Either other employee of the company is promoted, or someone else is hired from the outside. This is true for privately owned companies and, again, I don't see why should it look different in worker co-ops.

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So now the workers have to be forced to take all the risk that owning the factory entails?
I'm not sure what do you mean about "taking all the risks". Yes, if the factory goes bust, they lose their workplace and have to seek another one. Its assets will most probably be sold, or used to start up another business. If the business accumulated debt, the money is used to repay the obligee instead, so it's probably better to call it a day before that. It's not more risky than being a shareholder of a company which goes bankrupt.

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Split to what? Every worker takes his machine and goes home?
There are many ways how a co-op can split. I imagine it as some of the workers pooling their assets to create a new branch elsewhere. It's even easier when the community in a new place has a vital interest in having them there, because it may help to set them up.

The split may be vertical. Let's imagine a furniture factory in the city A, which buys wooden parts from a sawmill in another city, B. But there is enough wood in A, transport from B is getting more expensive - so it makes sense for the factory workers to talk to A at some point and set up a sawmill with them.

Horizontal split would be a bit more tricky. B needs furniture and still didn't set up their factory for some reason. Meanwhile the furniture factory is starting to be more clamored. Some of the people in the factory, naturally, have other ideas how it should be ran and don't care for being constantly outvoted. At some point it makes sense for them to say "All right, this is not working out. We are taking our part of the share and move to B". Again, people from B may help them to speed the process.

Of course, the people from the old factory will not like it at all - they would, most probably, still want to directly sell furniture to B. Such a split will most probably be full of drama and pointless accusations. Still, they can't just deny the splitters their share or force them to stay. Besides, if enough people is really willing to risk in an unknown place, they must be pretty fed up - so it's probably better they go somewhere else.

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What happens to them? Under a capitalist, they are either transferred to whoever he sold them to, or are left to his next of kin. Under this system, no one is allowed to have excess "possessions", so obviously they can't save enough to personally restore the factory.
Depends. If the facility was crucial to the local community in some way, it may be interested to restore it, but probably wouldn't want it to be governed by the same dumbasses who let it fall. Otherwise it's open for anyone who wants to set up his operation there, most probably splitters from a factory somewhere else.

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Personal hardship in saving is not an end-all answer. Do you think entrepreneurs don't risk losing everything in the same way? Certainly some don't, but others stake everything in their businesses, which either pan out or flop.
It's not "personal hardship in saving", it's pretty much being unable to save with heavily limited time, negligible income compared to the capitalist's and - most probably - being already on debt. Then you have to compete with someone who already has more money, so can just, for example. temporarily lower prices and starve you out. Unless you can tap on some previously unexplored market, or the one that recently started to expand very quickly, the game is rigged against you.

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This also ducks the issue that nearly every worker owned factory in marginally prosperous countries ends up either falling apart or stagnating.
Data, please. From what I know, they prosper pretty well, considering that in most countries law heavily favors privately owned companies.

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Not quite. The capitalist could just as easily say "I'm being prevented from doing my job by these workers taking my means of production". People attempting to take the machines and convert them for sewing could say the workers are preventing them from sewing. There is no measure of who "owns" the factory since literally anyone could use it.
The question you need to ask yourself is - which of these cases benefits the people who are currently using the factory? The difference between possession and property was already described in SalmonGod's posts which you should have already read given the fact that you're discussing with him.

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Certainly, after a point the game is basically rigged in your favour. If the stock market drops, the government will rob the citizens to bring it back up. If the gigantic megacorp is in trouble, the government will give it absurdly good loans. Not to mention small bonuses (eg. a steady inflation rate, in which you, the first to receive "printed" money, effectively get negative interest rates on your stocks and products that the "wage slaves" at the bottom have to pay off), etc. However, that argument is more of an argument against statism in general rather than private ownership of the means of production. After all, there are people like that under state socialism as well, and they are well outside the capitalist system of ownership.
Private ownership of the means of production cannot exist without the state to enforce it. Moreover, existence of the state that favors the biggest players is beneficial to them, so without any government it's in their best interest to set one up. Given that the capital tends to accumulate even without the government intervention, these big players would inevitably appear, the libertarian vision would quickly end where it begun: with a corporate state.

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Besides that, if there aren't artificial barriers to entry, it's very much likely that there is a fair bit of competition to this fellow, all of whom would happily take his employees and his customers given the chance.
There are many barriers that are not artificial. It's hard to compete with someone who can throw money at every problem he faces. When you're suing him, for example, he can afford much better lawyers than you and even if he loses, he will be more than able to shrug off the penalties. If you're competing with him, he can just slash the prices below the costs - you'll either lose customers, or run out of money much faster than him. If he owns enough of the market, he can arrange much more favorable deals with his business customers, because he can just refuse to do any business with them if they don't comply. He can also advertise his product on the scale you can't possibly hope to match.

Basically, if you agree with the fact that money can be used to make more money, it's pretty obvious that, unless some balancing factor is introduced, the guy who had more money before is much more likely to win the game.
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