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doG, December 4, 2008 in The Lounge
I never realized Phil Donahue had so much hair.
Kidding aside, I think MFs approach ignores the "heft" and multinational ability to leverage markets and governments in their favor that many players in the market have today, almost to a naive degree. He is trying to convince everyone that his "spherical cow" will actually produce the best milk. I don't disagree, but I'm not going to change anything until someone hands me a glass of milk produced by that idealized entity... that spherical cow.
Not sure that makes sense. I just see the idea of free market capitalism as an ideal state. In it's ideal form, it makes a lot of sense. However, in practice, being pragmatic about this, it's never realized in its idealized state so is doomed to fail at adequately addressing our issues.
Interestingly, though, MF seems to argue a very similar point (about idealized perceptions) at the end regarding "where are you going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us." He's saying basically the same thing I did about the market, but looking in from the other direction. I think we're both presenting valid points, and need to meet somewhere in the middle.
IMO, the problem is that capitalism is a headless monster, it does eventually learn from it's mistakes, but who wants to sit by and watch while it discovers burning up the planet or killing a couple of billion people isn't good business practice?
So you have to keep it on a leash and give it a good yank when it's about to mindlessly trample something.
few points to the video:
* arguably, the worst oppression of a majority was in places like victorian (capitalist) england
* USSR: arguably, the lot of the russians immediately improved under communism before becoming worse. otoh, they wouldn't have won the war were it not for the industrialisation caused by communism.
* despotic communism (like in the USSR) isn't the only communist model (you could allways have, say, democratic communism)
* communism isn't the only non-capitalist model
* nazi germany was a capitalism
* not all non-capitalistic models require centralised (e.g., governmental) control
* the choice isn't strait capitalism or other: you could have a hybrid model, with, e.g., capitalism on a small-buisness scale, and some other model on a larger scale.
* most of our countries dont have a 100% capitalism: there are usually sociocapitalist and socialistic elements, with a large volunteer aspect to the economy (including the majority of the magistrait service in the UK). open-source can be thought of as an economic model (albeit limited to pure information).
BUt....to what extent does greed play a part in each of the models?
<random thought dump>
hmm... what do you mean by greed?
Is the desire to improve one's circumstances greed? If so, i'd assume every economic model includes greed as a motivator, except possibly slavery and the voluntary models... see here for the reasons why people volunteer for magistrate duty (they're all unpaid, apparently ). but... would you include 'warm fuzzy feeling', 'sence of accomplishment', 'fun' etc as 'improving ones circumstances'? in which case, i'd guess every model includes greed (but, if you define it that loosely, it becomes somewhat meaningless).
I'd guess, as i understand the models, the main motivators to work at all | work harder are:
capitalism -- fear (no work = no money = no food) | greed (for personal profit)
volunteer -- altruism? fun? sense of duty? 'someone has to'? learning/self-improvement? | same?
communism -- fear | none?
open source -- sate personal need/profit (your contributions will get better without any further input from you)/fun/probably the same ones as 'volunteer' as well | same?
parecon -- fear | greed (same as capitalism -- work = money)
If you define greed as 'go get a bigger slice of the pie', then i'd guess that'd be abscent from voluteer, open-source, communism (probably to it's detriment), and possibly a few others?
hmm... 'work harder' has two components -- put more effort into your job, and innovate (so that the same work yields greater results).
'put more effort in' would require either that the person derives some kind of pleasure from doing so (fun, sence of accomplishment), accepts it as 'his duty', elsewize does it for either reward or punishment avoidance.
innovation could potentially be done open-source style? motivated by lazyness (a little effort here to efficencyize will lessen our workload in general)? greed? resource-allocation for innovation would have to be done... by commity? by one's reputation/prior performance? democratically alloted? or, by rich peoples' greed to become richer?
hmm... lessee... capitalism has rich and poor people. so does parecon. so, in these models, presumably 'greed' plays a large part in motivating workers to get more money by doing whatever gets them more money (the main argument in favour of parecon is that, apparently, it guarantees that poverty and richness are both voluntary options, available to everyone, that can only be achieved by working easyer/harder).
communism and open-source don't have poor people, so presumably greed plays no|lesser part in these models?
then there's what greed motivates you to do. OK, it's 'make more money', but how do you make more money? as i think iNow's touched on, under capitalism, at least with big buisness, you can make more money without improving society (entailment, leaverage governmen, provide a better seeming but poorer product, risk life because it's cheaper to get sued (Ford, BP), hollywood account people out of their profits, hoard, withhold (rather than provide) services pending payments, etc). also, under capitalism it's required that people can accurately determine what's in their best interests, which isn't always the case (cheap crap that breaks, for example, and anything that could arguably benifit from internalization taxes), and is susceptible to tragedy of the commons.
under more state-controlled models, presumably the only way to make more money could be rigged to be 'do a genuinely better job'? and, you could, by throwing our lots in together, presumably avoid TotC? etc? otoh, regulation of capitalism could achieve similar maybe (corporate murder, internalization taxes, trading/advertizing standards, etc).
Well, if greed is defined simply as self-interest all of them are based on greed. Which system you prefer is completely about how you, personally define self-interest.
Yeah, I totally agree with Milton here. Greed, as a natural consequence of human nature, must be managed. Any regulatory system of government that attempts to manage greed outside of the vacuum - such as socialism, communism, and the US hybrid, if you will, of capitalism and socialism - would seem to require the regulatory conscience to be absent of that greed. Otherwise the governor of greed is itself greedy. As long as humans are the governors, creating the laws and regulatory and so forth, then greed is still being managed by those capable of greed.
This is one of the reasons why I like capitalism so much, because it seems to attempt to manage this greed with a "system" not an external order of some kind. Instead it uses the forces of greed and self interest to create a check and balance system, which is more dependable and reliable than a corruptible human. Other systems attempt to eradicate greed and self interest, which is entirely unnatural.
It's like trying to get humans to stop enjoying sex. Good luck with that. The better option is what we have actually done. We accept that sex is fun, and instead make tools to use when having sex to stop the spread of disease. It isn't perfect, but to fight nature or attempt to change human nature on that kind of scale is a set up for failure.
Doesn't natural selection depend on the pursuit of self interest? Don't I pursue my interests by social manipulation, group cooperation, and etc?
That's a little oversimplified (and off topic). You may wish to check out the selfish gene idea.
~45 second Video Introduction to the book: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4097804265438884551
Longer Video Program called "Nice Guys Finish First": http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3966434788109805830&ei=_uc6SauwDZOwqwLdt5SuCQ&q=selfish+gene
Wiki Summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene
EDIT - The nice guys finish first video is actually very much on topic. I was wrong to suggest otherwise above.
Reading (and watching) this, I'm reminded of an interesting story from the aftermath of the Second World War in Europe. The German fighter pilot Erich Hartmann was known mostly as the holder of the all-time air combat record with a whopping 352 kills. After the war his squadron had the misfortune of being captured by the Red Army, and as a famous figure, the Soviets tried to "reeducate" him to the communo-socialist philosophy. It was a total failure, and at one point he rather famously told his Soviet handlers that he would be more than happy to comply with their request -- all they had to do was produce a contract explaining what his obligations were and what his compensation would be. Then he would be more than happy to work for them!
Alas, they chose instead to convict him of war crimes. But eventually he got out to the west, and in a final bit of irony a few years after he died the new Russian government issued a proclamation exonerating him, which is pretty noble considering how many Russians he shot down (most of his aerial victories being from the eastern front).
I just think it's a great story because of the sheer jutzpa of standing up to an autocratic power like that.
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