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June 09, 2014

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Tim Newman

The car really doesn't care who owns it or if nobody does at all, it will still go.

Well, no it won't. Every car that "goes" is owned by somebody: even your stolen car was owned by you, remember? Yet those cars that have been abandoned by their owners do not go at all, and have to be towed away with a truck. Not very technically minded, are you?

Minnow

"Well, no it won't. Every car that "goes" is owned by somebody"

But it needn't be. It will still go without an owner. It will even go without a driver. You need to learn the difference between the map and the terrain.

Tim Newman

Its not terribly difficult, she is a worker, even if she identifies strongly with management.

Actually, she's the Engineering Manager, employed on the same level as the Finance Manager and HR Manager with a similar level of responsibility. She even owns part of the company via share options. But her direct input saves the owners (of which she is one) millions.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Minnow - "If a worker can keep the full value of her increase in productivity, that is a real incentive."

Sure. And that is what tends to happen over time - wages track productivity. That's why we earn much more than our grandparents did.

NB productivity is not the same thing as profit. How many people want to be paid a share of their employer's profits?

Probably all of them, if you put the question that way.

How many people want their pay to fall when their employer's profits dip, or they hire a bunch of more people without a corresponding increase in profitability?

Almost nobody.

As a matter of fact, there are plenty of jobs out there where you can earn very good money - six figure sums in the right industry - without a degree and where you get a direct cut of your personal contribution to your employer's bottom line.

They're called sales jobs.

Amazingly, most people love the idea of making loadsamoney, but not so much the prospect of making very little money some months, or being sacked if you fail to hit target. Maybe not every type of incentive is equally attractive to every type of worker.

"But we could and it would work if we believe in incentives."

Wages aren't incentives now?

Tim Newman

Capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it.

The wielding of a spanner or a spade is essential, not the person who happens to be holding it.

Minnow

"She even owns part of the company via share options."

If she is an owner she is an owner. You forgot to mention it. But it isn't hard to understand.

Tim Newman

But it needn't be. It will still go without an owner. It will even go without a driver.

No, it won't. I have given you the example of a car without an owner: it doesn't go, and needs to be removed by truck. Cars also don't "go" - meaning, operate in a controlled manner for a sustained period - without a driver. I know Marxists tend to be a bit thick, but not knowing that cars need drivers to operate is particularly dense.

Tim Newman

If she is an owner she is an owner.

Yes, but she is busy working with a spanner in her hand, adding value, alongside the workers in making money for the other owners (who are sipping gins on their yachts). And didn't you tell us earlier that it is *only* the workers who add value, not the owners?

Non-fuckwits would at this stage understand that owners can (and do) also add value.

Minnow

"Capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it.The wielding of a spanner or a spade is essential, not the person who happens to be holding it."

You have confused the analogy again, because, I think, you find property ownership to be so natural, almost mystical. The wielding of the spade or spanner is essential, yes (just like the 'wielding' of capital), but not the person who owns it. It doesn't matter to me if the spade belongs to Gordon if Jenny is using it to dig my garden. It is still Jenny who has done me the favour and I don't think I owe Gordon anything just because he happens to own a spade..

WTP

I've run out of patience with minnows excuse making, sophistry, and general unfounded bullsh*t that no matter how many times it is refuted, s/he simply moves on to more sophistry, excuses, and unfounded bullsh*t. But this is probably my favorite of the zero-sum game fallacy that drives Marxist populism

You must have noticed this, that the more they make the less there was for you?

No. Not just no, but no fucking no. When businesses are successful everyone makes more money. It's obvious to anyone who has even the most fundamental understanding of economics and to anyone who has been a part of a successful enterprise. Minnow of course would not be in this population sample. This static state economics is a huge lie that these cretins perpetuate.

And also, his Goldman Sachs comment way up above is steeped in bullsh*t as well. Perhaps someone with more time and patience than I can explain how the 10 bill was forced on them and why.

Minnow

" It will even go without a driver.No, it won't. "

Oh lord, please don't tell me you are engineer? A car really will go without a driver. Just a slight incline will do (ask my friend Natasha who doesn't have that Metro any more)or turn the key slip it into first and close the door and wave goodbye. Did you think the bum on the drivers seat was having some magical effect that made the pistons go in and out? If you rig the wheel and put a weight on the accelerator it will go even further and faster (and it is fun if irresponsible to do: find a friend with a farm). Google has even made one that will go on long journeys. And none of it depends on having an owner. There is no mystical power of ownership that makes things go.

Minnow

"Yes, but she is busy working with a spanner in her hand, adding value, alongside the workers in making money for the other owners (who are sipping gins on their yachts). And didn't you tell us earlier that it is *only* the workers who add value, not the owners?"

That's right, it's not hard. Insofar as she is a worker, she adds value as you say. Insofar as she is an owner she doesn't as you imply. You say she adds millions of dollars of value and takes not millions of dollars home and is happy with that. Well, OK. But some of those gin sippers on yachts will be getting the millions and it is in their interests that things stay that way round. I think you have to be naturally deeply deferential and conformist not to see anything wrong there though.

Anna

There is no mystical power of ownership that makes things go.

Cars (and lots of other things) only exist at all because they can be someone's property, starting with the manufacturer. Take away the (transferable) ownership and what happens?

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Nikw211 - I get a lot of religious people coming to my door or sending me leaflets.

I've had the Mormons, the Jehovas Witnesses, various Evangelicals, some bumf about free personality tests from the Scientologists, Christmas carol service invites from the Anglicans (which is sweet of them, I love Christmas), and a mysterious group called "TVLIC ENSING" keeps sending me ominous-looking stuff that I bin without reading.

But I've been holding out for the day when an earnest looking young man in hipster glasses and scruffy beard will come to my door. The prophesies say he will bear these signs: a rolled up copy of the Guardian in one hand, a skinny latte in the other.

And he will say unto me: "Knowest thou what plan MARX has for thee? Come and follow me, and I will give thee an iPad mini."

And I will retort: "No way you big spastic. You're a mentalist!", then slam the door.

Minnow

"No. Not just no, but no fucking no. When businesses are successful everyone makes more money."

Some more than others and only some of the time. And sometimes when a business is a complete failure (Goldman Sachs) some people still make money and some people pay for it. Who whom?

Watcher in the Dark

Minnow: "The useful things are made by the poor people, the workers, not the capitalists. The capitalist gets the profit and gets to do the tramping."

I worked. I worked long hours with some highly unpleasant bosses who I saw from time to time, and alongside even more unpleasant union louts who I saw every day. I was in several unions too as they had a habit of 'amalgamating' with some other bunch of losers. Believe me, when it came to tramping then the unions did it best of all. You try not holding your hand up in a meeting when all the firebrands are checking who is "for the filthy rich bosses" and who is "for our version of democracy." Actually, wait, I did that once. Yes, futile gesture as it happens. The strike went ahead (and utterly futile gesture it was too) but several stout union members refused to talk to me for months afterwards. Still, no one can bear grudge like a lefty.

But please carry on with your fantasies, Minnow. The rest of us will try to see the world as it really is.

Minnow

"Cars (and lots of other things) only exist at all because they can be someone's property, starting with the manufacturer. Take away the (transferable) ownership and what happens?"

Well that's right, although it is a different point to the one in contention, and it shows where the analogy breaks down (unless you think workers are one of those things too).

Ten

From the book of Minnow:

No, in my world the workers get rich too. But that does mean the capitalist gets slightly less rich, might have to let the yellow Ferrari go, but oh no, will the red one match his shirt!

Meaning envy drives Marxist and hence Minnow's ideology. With envy comes Minnow's projected covetousness. We should establish this as a baseline:

The only way to drive all boats to the same level is not to refill the basin, but to drain it.

No, in my world the workers get rich too.

And yet in Minnow's Marxland this has never played out, but there of course history and human nature and even arithmetic and basic definitions are right out. What's in is blind faith and new definitions for old realities.

The Board of Goldman Sachs sagely nod their heads while discreetly folding a cheque for 10bn dollars recently receiived from the (ugh) state.

Er, try 80bn a month for a few years. But still Minnow's covetousness zero sum game reemerges: The only way to drive all boats down is to drive all boats down. We'll call it the rich worker's paradise - the next one in the long line of a quarter billion souls killed by their own paradises in the last century alone.

Minnow also conflates this crony oligarchy with capitalism, showing that Minnow has no authentic definition of capitalism, just as Minnow has no authentic view of wealth except that all must share its reduction - and its concurrent destruction of rights and property - by force.

To be absolutely sure the political right's biggest failing is not recognizing the phenomenal corruption of the banking industry and the present monetary system, but again, that's not capitalism. Redefining same as capitalism is Minnow's ace up the sleeve. It's not, it's Progressive oligarchy and its class warfare-based economic segregation.

Why is it that the Progressive insists on such class warfare and the anti-people ruin of justice?

If a worker can keep the full value of her increase in productivity, that is a real incentive. We don't offer it because it would not increase profits. But we could and it would work if we believe in incentives.

Minnow's problem here is similar to that s/he has with other definitions: Having failed to define wealth, force, and the economic mean, Minnow finds it no big step to rule out anti-trust law. Or the entire court system. Finding, for example, that capitalism can't work for want of justice, it's easy to say that justice can't work because "capitalism". Fallacies but handy fallacies for the Marxist.

Most concerns that employ people are larger and liabilities are limited. The owners walk away without a business but with their accumulated private profits and assets intact. The workers are left with nothing and, often, nowhere to go. The owner of a car factory in my example, is not risking anything. While the profits roll, he is getting rich. When they stop, he sells up and stays rich. His workers lose everything.

Kind of like Detroit Michigan, destroyed by collective bargaining and a socialist central executive. Seems the rest of the nation, for what freedom it may still possess, didn't make that same choice.

In other words in a unfettered, capitalist economy when the evil bosses systematically rape the workers - a system of courts and all anti-trust legislation suddenly having magically evaporated in reality and in theory and by way of elections of sound legislators - demand simply shifts and production resumes elsewhere.

Here again Minnow rules out both functional, technical capitalism in the same breath as s/he rules out the system of courts and remedies. The Marxist zero sum game must win if ersatz justice by unilateral central force is to hold, even if we have to destroy other traditional people's remedies available to actual capitalism to do it.

Conflicting classes, yes. When you are in a business as a worker your interests conflict with those in the manager class. You must have noticed this, that the more they make the less there was for you? That what was good for them was often not so great for you?

No, I've never noticed that. Not ever in 40 years. I did, however, notice the quarter billion lost last century to collectivist worker's paradises.

This is so obvious it is amazing that it is still deemed radical to say it, but then we work hard to sentimentalise these relations, to see everyone as 'pulling together' in the Ealing Comedy view of economics that saying the obvious can seem rude.

The irony. All this, like the rest of Minnow's platform, is a complex myth s/he usees to destroy both authentic, functional, just wealth creation by way of production as well as any reasonable definition of it.

You don't want to think about these relations as exploitative but they are. You think they are natural, but I don't.

I've thought about them plenty and what I regularly come up with is is a whole solution to human nature sharing wealth, assuming any external force may ever influence individual wealth. Minnow's is a solution to envy - the Marxist means to indulge it, inflate him or herself, and call it fairness.

Such fairness issues from arbitrary power and not, interestingly, from the basis of the people's real justice, which is precisely what a system of real legal justice erected to protect not Marxist fantasy but the unfettered capitalist real opportunity allows.

I find it interesting that to shoehorn Marx's bullshit into contention by deception and unending redefinition all other fair definitions, fair measures, and real nature have to be lined through. It's as ironic as our era's endless projecting the Progressive's rather spectacular personal dysfunctions onto society countless times - the Progg will invariably return to old failures to insist we try them one more time, baldfaced and unashamed.

It's almost like there's an agenda there, one that includes the unmitigated, dysfunctional arrogance to write all those millions of lost innocent lives off to some sick necessary experimentation in Utopia-making, an experiment that at its core we already knew every time was based on the lie, on envy, on coveting, and on arbitrary, unjust, irrational sheer force.

Minnow

I like the 'Book of Minnow', I wonder if I could get a few fee-paying disciples.

Ever noticed how the 'ambition' we admire in capitalists becomes 'envy' when we talk about workers? How our words betray us.

Anna

Well that's right... and it shows where the analogy breaks down

It's where Marxism breaks down.

Minnow

"It's where Marxism breaks down."

Only if we agree with you Anna that workers 'only exist at all because they can be someone's property'. But I don't think many will (or many will own up to it anyway).

Anna

Only if we agree with you Anna that workers 'only exist at all because they can be someone's property'.

Now you're just making things up. You really are a lying piece of shit, aren't you, Minnow?

Smudger

It's the Minnow Show! Proving every syllable of David's oft-made point about certain types of personality being impervious.

Is your brain actually, literally coated in Teflon? Or what?

Minnow

I've got to go now sadly. It's been fun as always. I have to say that this is just about the only blog I know where someone like me can get away with posting so much counter to so many without getting either banned or piled on or both. Maybe there is something to be said for cynical capitalist exploitative instincts after all.

David

[ Sticks head round door, checks lock on liquor cabinet. ]

Well, that was… interesting. Someone fetch Anna a drink, stat.

God, no. Not booze.

Anna

Snork!

Steve 2: Steveageddon

He was a cop, and good at his job. But he committed the ultimate sin — and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands...an outlaw hunting outlaws...a bounty hunter...a MINNOW.

Smudger

Maybe there is something to be said for cynical capitalist exploitative instincts after all.

Or perhaps for simply being a thinking human being and not, say, a bigot who categorises people - complete strangers - according to a cartoonish and criminally inflexible worldview.

WTP

Anna, he's been making things up and twisting words since this thread started. I believe this whole thread is my fault by pointing out his/her/its logical/thinking/economic understanding flaws. At the very start my words were twisted, totally and completely misstated to fit minnow's world view. We're reaching the point here where, as Twain's adaptation of Proverbs insturcts us, "Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience".


Soviet Union 70 years
North Korea post-wwii
China
Myanmar
Cuba
Poland post-war to 1990's
Bulgaria post-war to 1990's
Romania post-war to 1990's
Czechoslovakia post-war to 1990's
Hungary post-war to 1990's
East Germany post-war to 1990's
Venezuela today
hell, the vast majority of Latin America
Bangladesh
Zimbabwe
Mozambique
Somalia
Lybia
hell again, most of Africa


on the softer side:
Pre-Thatcher UK
India


ahh, hell. google it yourself.

WTP

Oh, yeah...forgot Detroit.

Tim Newman

Minnow (socialist):

A car really will go without a driver. Just a slight incline will do

Tim (engineer):

Cars also don't "go" - meaning, operate in a controlled manner for a sustained period - without a driver.

I think what Minnow means to say is that, without owners, factories will experience a similar trajectory as a driverless car rolling down a hill, presumably with similar results.

Tim Newman

Insofar as she is a worker, she adds value as you say. Insofar as she is an owner she doesn't as you imply.

Ah. So the split between workers and owners isn't clear-cut then is it, as owners can also simultaneously be workers. And managers can also be workers, and owners. Hey, it's almost complex enough that silly soundbites about who contributes what shouldn't be applied, eh?

Tim Newman

There is no mystical power of ownership that makes things go.

True, but there is a very non-mystical ownership that makes things go. *Somebody* has to put in the time, money, and resources to make a car go and empirical evidence (which knocks your Marxist theory into a cocked hat) shows that if a car does not have an owner this won't happen and it doesn't go. This is why your glorious factories in the Soviet Union didn't work half the time, you lot couldn't even figure out who was supposed to do the maintenance.

Dan

You don't need much capital to start a small business, Minnow.

In many cases, you don't need any capital.

People have started with nothing and become billionaires, and along the way they have provided livings for millions.

Not to mention all the goods and services and comforts that life in the 21st century west has to offer, uniquely in human history.

The fact is, some people don't have the brains or the balls to do that sort of thing, I guess you being among them, and that's fine.

Just get out of the way of those who do and everything will be alright.

Tim Newman

The wielding of the spade or spanner is essential, yes (just like the 'wielding' of capital), but not the person who owns it.

Well, yes it does. Because the availability of the capital, spade, or spanner is very much dependent on who owns it. If nobody owns it, it will not be available - as can be demonstrated when a useful item like a spade is abandoned in a public place overnight.

Freshverbal

Michael Moore is a tit, a pompous and dishonest one.

Whilst I dislike the self righteous piety of dogmatic, simplistic, middle class armchair revolutionaries like Micheal Moore, Penny Laurie and Russell Brand I think they highlight some serious issues.

One of my favourite podcasters is Dan Carlin and he does a good job of presenting the lefty view of the West minus the dogma and piety. Take away the crap revolutionary pomposity that Laurie, Moore and Brand bring to the table and the lefty critique of the status quo has some serious legitimacy.

David

I sometimes wonder what the people who are here, reading and commenting, are actually supposed to be doing instead. You can’t all be ladies and gentlemen of leisure. Obviously, I’m happy that people do drop by and join in – yes, even Minnow. But given the number of people reading blogs during office hours, and during office hours is when most blog reading seems to happen, I can’t help wondering if blogging is actually a measurable drain on productivity and the economy in general. To say nothing of all those neglected wives and husbands, and all those unfed barefoot children left wandering the streets.

Just sayin’.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Freshverbal - it's funny when he shouts "knickers!" though.

Tim Newman

You can’t all be ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

I work for a major oil company, and I have been waiting all day for access to a folder on the server containing the documents I am supposed to review. Without access I can't even start, and I asked for it sometime around Friday lunchtime. Nobody ever accused oil companies of being efficient.

Tomorrow I am probably going to have to get something done, but I have an uncanny ability to do my job and write blog posts/comment at the same time.

Karen M

and all those unfed barefoot children left wandering the streets.

I taught mine to forage. If the worst happens we can always adopt more.

present & correct

the way minnow goes on.. its religion.
if youre an 'owner' then you are tainted with original sin.
to the degree that you are also a 'worker', then the sin is absolved.
its fucking mentalist!

Steve 2: Steveageddon

David - I'm supposed to be talking to my clients. But I can talk and type at the same time. Nobody really cares so long as my numbers are good. Just not too good, or they'll raise my target and do me out of money. I got stung for a few tens of K last year for having the audacity to finish a couple of million over target. Never again! To the barricades!

You, sir, are a menace to the British economy.

Hal

You can’t all be ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

Ehn, I'll keep an eye on the commentary in passing, in between everything else---Still need to get back to those two Star Wars notes from Friday---, and then occasionally lob when the comment comes to mind.

'course, some circumstances are dead easy: Oh, it's minnow again,
I'm going to be ignoring, mostly, again.

Me, I slog through hipsters in person when going to and from the paycheck, and other places and among other adults also having to slog through the hipsters, and online is even easier . . .

Steve

"You must have noticed this, that the more they make the less there was for you?"

Nope, never noticed that. Quite the opposite, in fact. Every company I have ever worked with has given some small bonus when a project went well, sometimes just pizza & beer, occasionally a little extra cash, one time the whole office went to Dublin & got pissed. Minnow's bitter & twisted perspective, however, rings no bells at all.

"Capital is essential."

And it usually just appears, magically. But if it doesn't it can just be stolen from anyone who has 'too much'. Wow Minnow's right. Socialism is bloody great.

WTP

I work for a major oil company, and I have been waiting all day for access to a folder on the server containing the documents I am supposed to review. Without access I can't even start, and I asked for it sometime around Friday lunchtime. Nobody ever accused oil companies of being efficient.

I work in the IT department of a major oil company, and I have been waiting all day for my manager to sign off on the reapplication of administrative privileges, which must be renewed every 6 months godknowswhy, so that I can address an issue in my queue regarding some poor schmuck's inability to access a folder. Damn users are always b*tching about one thing or another.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

I sell equipment and services to major oil companies, and minor ones too.

And I have to tell you, they're bloody great as customers. I LOVE those guys.

Except when they want me to help them get stuff into Angola, Nigeria or the Stans. That's a nightmare thanks to the Bribery Act.

Nikw211

And he will say unto me: "Knowest thou what plan MARX has for thee? Come and follow me, and I will give thee an iPad mini."
And I will retort: "No way you big spastic. You're a mentalist!", then slam the door.

Heh.

I've already slammed the metaphorical door in Minnow's face.

I appreciate a good argument – what she's been doing since late last week isn't that; it's just a frenetic outpouring of ad hoc responses that inevitably add up to a pile of bullshit peppered with Whataboutism and Marxist boilerplate (which I assume she thinks we have never heard before … but there's a lot of 101 content in there).

If she actually goes back to making sense, I might be tempted to open it again but not before.

I sometimes wonder what the people who are here, … are actually supposed to be doing instead.

Heh. I ask the same question - mainly about myself!

I work freelance now, so am generally flexible with time. It seems to work out somehow. In fact, in spite of the time I spend on here, it's still a fraction of the time I used to waste in the seemingly endless and almost totally pointless meetings I had to go to at my former employer's (a publishing house).

Theophrastus

Minnow - Do you appreciate that Marx's labour theory of value is now rejected by most economists? Joan Robinson, who was considered an expert on the writings of Karl Marx, argued that the labour theory of value was largely a tautology and "a typical example of the way metaphysical ideas operate". In other words, your premise is shot.

David - I am semi-retired. At present, I am spending a month beside a quiet beach in the southern Peloponnese. *raises glass of local red to lips*

Henry

Self-employed programmer & musician. Also a very hands-on Dad.

Also poorer than I used to be, though this is not the fault of this blog. Yes I should probably be working harder, but I make enough to get by.

One (very bad) future money-spinning idea I have is writing. No, we don't need more writers, but we do need more writers with the capacity for rational thought.. (or so I flatter myself - hey, you need a decent-sized ego to succeed). The blog comments are actually good practice at getting arguments across concisely.

I once had to deal with a seriously annoying troll under something I wrote elsewhere - the kind that just wouldn't give up, made stuff up so much it couldn't have been simple stupidity, skipped from one subject to the next, wouldn't be pinned down as to what he actually thought.

I don't know if Minnow considers her?self a troll, but she does seem to give some idea of what she thinks - sometimes unintentionally, as with the "harder with Shakespeare remark above".

Steve

Architect with own practice and spare time musician of sorts. Taking breaks between visit to construction site of new £2M private house and, so far, half-successful attempts to design a brise-soleil, to laugh at Minnow's naivety whilst simultaneously marvelling at her/his slipperiness.

BTW, people here still insisting on branding all self-labelled 'feminists' as mental cases could do a lot worse than to type Factual Feminist into YouTube - her short videos touch on a lot of issues discussed regularly here including the exagerated campus 'rape' epidemic. (Found via Liberty Pen)

Franklin

Capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it.

It rather does. Entrepreneurs have high time preference and a big appetite for risk. Not everyone is cut out for it. Consequently it matters what kind of person is employing their capital and how.

Rafi

"You must have noticed this, that the more they make the less there was for you?"

Where does Lying Marxist Minnow think raises and bonuses come from?

Ten
Ever noticed how the 'ambition' we admire in capitalists becomes 'envy' when we talk about workers? How our words betray us.

Come again?

am·bi·tion as noun

  • an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment: Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.
  • the object, state, or result desired or sought after: The crown was his ambition.
  • desire for work or activity; energy: I awoke feeling tired and utterly lacking in ambition.

    en·vy as noun

  • a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.
  • an object of envious feeling: Her intelligence made her the envy of her classmates.
  • Obsolete . ill will.
  • And for good measure

    force as noun

  • physical power or strength possessed by a living being: He used all his force in opening the window.
  • strength or power exerted upon an object; physical coercion; violence: to use force to open the window; to use force on a person.
  • strength; energy; power; intensity: a personality of great force.
  • power to influence, affect, or control; efficacious power: the force of circumstances; a force for law and order.
  • Law. unlawful violence threatened or committed against persons or property.

    co·er·cion as noun

  • the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.
  • force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.
  • I'll take Minnow's silence on the shabby underlying principles of Marxism as their obvious defeat and as Marx's proponents' intellectual and moral inferiority.

    Marxists seek to ruin the people's democratic justice by replacing it with arbitrary, structurally-rootless tyranny, provided it doll itself up in lies so transparent even a toothless worker prole can see through them.

    Into history.

    pst314

    Minnow "A Marxist reading of Milton is almost impossible to avoid as you will know if you follow the literature."

    And yet, strangely, people were able to fruitfully read Milton for centuries without the dubious benefit of Marxist theory. Now, thanks to Marx, they can read Milton and find only Marx. ;-)

    Jeff Wood

    Semi-retired accountant living out of the UK, almost ruined by the recession as clients gave up. Second time for that: the recession of the early 1980s disappeared a promising generation of young entrepreneurs who didn't reappear until the 1990s.

    The early 1980s were a necessary correction after the socialist excesses of the 1970s and before - that other people's money thing. The latest seems too have been a combination of corporate greed and politicians being socialist about pushing mortgages on people who could not afford them, then clearing up the mess with other people's money. I sometimes have the nastiest feeling that this one will be definitive.

    Way back, I knew some of the people who made up or hung around Blair's government. I was not surprised they made a hash of it. Now I am aware the entire political class is rotten, and am glad I got out of student politics.

    Reading down the thread, I was mentally composing a different comment, then found WTP making it for me. I would simply add: compare West and East Germany, North and South Korea. Rather settles the matter to my mind.

    Best wishes to all, including Minnow: sorting out where you are mistaken clears everyone's mind for them.

    present & correct

    Am i right in considering Minnow as a Cargo-Cultist?
    After all, you can take some feckless cretin, redistribute someones elses capital to them... and the magic profits will just happen.
    All they need do is mimic the superficial appearance of a business owner by possessing capital.
    Because after all, "capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it."

    Jeff Wood

    "Because after all, "capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it.""

    Ah, good. We can starve the Kulaks, shoot the Capitalists, and have a worker's paradise.

    WTP

    "capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it."

    Yeah, and who makes sure that capital is well maintained and does not fall into disrepair and neglect? If it is owned by no one, no one cares.

    Socialism is theft.

    bgates

    I quite liked how while the evidence against socialism were the numerous socialist hellholes of the past century, the counterargument against free market capitalism was always Goldman Sachs getting a big check from the government, a perversion of free market capitalism brought about by the American politicians who are most keen on socialism.

    present & correct

    aargh!... the italics... they burn!

    Jacob

    Best wishes to all, including Minnow: sorting out where you are mistaken clears everyone's mind for them.

    Have you ever known a Marxist admit they were wrong?

    David

    aargh!... the italics... they burn!

    [ Puts down glass of red and mops up flood of italics, muttering about people who don’t close tags. ]

    WTP

    "the counterargument against free market capitalism was always Goldman Sachs getting a big check from the government"

    Yes, but GS never wanted the damn money. It was force on all the largest banks, even the healthy ones.

    "Paulson also told the bankers it would not be prudent to opt out of the program because doing so "would leave you vulnerable and exposed."
    It's no secret that some of the banks had to be pressured to participate in the program, with several bank CEOs saying they had been strongly encouraged to take the funds. But the documents are the first proof of the government's insistence."
    ...
    "Paulson wanted healthy institutions that did not necessarily need capital from the government to participate in the program first to remove any stigma that might be associated with a bailout. He told reporters during a news conference that the intervention was "what we must do to restore confidence in our financial system.""

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/30750868/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/documents-paulson-forced-banks-bailout/#.U5drafldWBE

    It was a socialized shame. This is what PO'd me about minnow's ignorant BS typical lefty comment about Goldman.

    Ten

    Please investigate the alternate view, WTP, the one that matters and the one that obliterates the false psuedo-rightist narrative that being ostensibly in industry banking is not complicit in guaranteed failure.

    pst314

    Not sure what a "false pseudo-rightist narrative" is, but I suspect it is good comedy material.

    Hal

    Marxists seek to ruin the people's democratic justice by replacing it with arbitrary, structurally-rootless tyranny,

    Firefly: Lieutenant! Why weren't the original indictment papers placed in my portfolio?

    Roland: Why...eh...I didn't think those papers were important at this time, Your Excellency.

    Firefly: You didn't think they were important? Do you realize I had my desert wrapped in those papers? Here, take this bottle back and get two cents for it.

    Chicolini: Hello, boss!

    Firefly: Chicolini! I betcha eight to one we find you guilty.

    Chicolini: At'sa no good, I can get ten to one at the barber shop.

    Prosecutor: Chicolini, you're charged with high treason. And if found guilty, you'll be shot.

    Chicolini: I object.

    Prosecutor: Oh, you object! On what grounds?

    Chicolini: I couldn't think of anything else to say.

    Firefly: (Bangs gavel) Objection sustained.

    Prosecutor: Your Excellency! You sustained the objection?

    Firefly: Sure, I couldn't think of anything else to say either! Why don't you object?

    Prosecutor: Chicolini...When were you born?

    Chicolini: I don't remember...I was just a little baby.

    Prosecutor: Isn't it true you tried to sell Freedonia's secret war code and plans?

    Chicolini: Sure! I sold a code and to paira plans! Heh, heh...(To Groucho) At's some joke, eh boss?

    Firefly: Now I'll betcha twenty to one we find you guilty!

    Prosecutor: Chicolini...Have you anyone here to defend you?

    Chicolini: It'sa no use. I even offered to pay as high as eighteen dollars, but I no coulda getta somebody to defend me.

    Firefly: (Pontificating) My friends...This case moves me deeply. Look at Chicolini...He sits there alone...An abject figure.

    Chicolini: I abject!

    Firefly: (Pontificating again) I say, look at Chicolini...He sits there alone...a pitiable object! Let's see you get outta that one...Surrounded by a sea of unfriendly faces...Chicolini! Give me a number from one to ten!

    Chicolini: Eleven!

    Firefly: Right!

    Chicolini: Now I ask you one...What is it has a trunk but no key, weighs two thousand pounds, and lives in a circus?

    Prosecutor: That's irrelevant!

    Chicolini: A relaphant? Hey! That's the answer...There's a whole lotta relephants in the circus.

    Judge: That sort of testimony we can eliminate!

    Chicolini: At'sa fine, I'll take some.

    Judge: You'll take what?

    Chicolini: A lemonade...A nice, cold glassa lemonade. (Aside to Firefly) Hey boss, I'm goin' good!

    Firefly: Gentlemen...Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you...He really is an idiot. I implore you! Send him back to his father and brothers, who are waiting for him with open arms in the penitentiary...I suggest that we give him ten years in Levenworth, or eleven years in Twelveworth!

    Chicolini: I'll tell you what I do...I'll take five and ten in Woolworth!

    Firefly: I wanted to get a writ of Habeas Corpus, but I should've gotten a-rid of you instead.

    David Gillies

    I tune into Mr T.'s blog and see 169 comments and think, "oh bollocks, it's Minnow." It's like arguing evolution via natural selection with a Pentecostalist. The likelihood of there being a meeting of minds is slim, to put it mildly. One of the most abundant ingredients on Minnow's big ol' smorgasbord of fallacies, in among the straw men, begged questions, the regiments of No True Scotsmen punting at ever-moving goalposts, is the Nirvana fallacy. Imaginary Marxism trumps actual capitalism. This sort of foolishness is more akin to cultist brainwashing than a coherent political viewpoint. Apparently the reason we haven't achieved the Gramscian Rapture is because we have been impious, not due to the fact that socialism carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction (where have I read that line before?)

    WTP

    Not sure where Ten was going with that, but having a short market for real estate is a good thing. Leading up to the bubble I sure as hell wish I had known how to get in on that. Though the risk with such shorts is being able to stay in without a margin call hitting you just before the big collapse. Along with the cajones to wait it out.

    Rich Rostrom

    Minnow | June 10, 2014 at 12:40:Capital is essential. Not the people who happen to own it. It is true that workers cannot dig for gold if the land happens to be owned by someone with a shotgun,but that person is the obstacle to production not the 'provider' of capital in the sense you want to imply.

    Complete misunderstanding of what capital is. minnow is an economic illiterate.

    The land where a mineral might be found is not "capital", and no one ever said it was.

    The "capital" is that "workers cannot dig for gold" unless someone pays several years of salary and expenses for the prospecting team that finds the lode, then provides picks, shovels, rock drills, wheelbarrows, explosives, timber for props, a railroad to the site to bring in supplies and haul out ore, a refinery to extract gold from the ore, and several months of food/clothing/housing/recreation (or the equivalent in wages) for the workers while the mine is developed.

    That is, unless capitalists invest millions of $ before a single flake of gold is produced. Capitalists who could lose their whole investment if the price of gold drops below the cost of production, or the vein peters out abruptly.

    The workers? They've been paid every week for the value of their labor, whether the mine ever turns a profit or not.

    There is of course the principle of "sweat equity", where those who work in creating an enterprise gain a share of ownership - by foregoing part of their wages, which becomes part of the capital invested. For some odd reason, those workers feel entitled to more income than workers hired on after the enterprise has become a going concern.

    Meanwhile, what of NHS workers? The NHS generates no profits for anyone. Should they be paid at all? What of London Transport's train drivers, who get over £50,000 a year from an enterprise that loses money?

    ac1

    "It's like arguing evolution via natural selection with a Pentecostalist."
    I do think that Marxism is best described as economic-creationism.

    ac1

    Oh I forgot to post this too.
    http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2014/06/05/obama-bergdahl-moral-narcissism/

    Freshverbal

    It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers.

    It's like reading Fox News rhetoric all be it with more intelligence bought to bear.

    I'm seeing historical revisionism of the kind which recasts Hitler & Stalin as ideological kin residing at one end of the spectrum (the bad/totalitarian lefty end) and Reagan & Thatcher at the other (good/freedom loving righty end)

    I'm also seeing the kind of anti socialist hysterics of the kind which recasts socialism of any form or level (from the NHS to disability allowance) as a slippery slope to economic destitution and ultimately Auschwitz & the Gulag.

    This is worthy of the "Keep your government hands off our Medicare" Tea Party, not intelligent people.

    Is it not fair to say that free market capitalism and freedom itself is compatible with a tax payer funded safety net, EG:Socialism and capitalism running concurrently?

    Can a nation not implement both socialism and capitalism, remain free and become a global powerhouse?

    Don't we have examples of capitalist/socialist economies which are blindingly successful economically, freer and more productive than America like say modern Germany?

    Unless one is a fundamentalist anarcho-libertarian who believes all tax is theft and that society should be run on a sink or swim basis, -with all essential services (from firemen to doctors) being distributed on the ability to pay directly for those services- one cannot completely reject all socialism as the antithesis of freedom and the bedfellow of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao (and judging by this line of thinking Genghis Khan and his socialist hordes)

    The idea that because the Nazi party had socialist ideas and referred to themselves as socialists, that makes the Nazis a movement of the left and the socialism of Michael Foot akin to Hitler's is preposterous.

    Socialism is not a slippery slope to Stalin let alone Hitler.

    Any argument which blames one end of the political spectrum for all the mass murderers of modernity is just far too convenient and anything that convenient is most likely wrong.

    Yes the Nazis called themselves socialists and had some profoundly anti free market and collectivist policies but to extrapolate from that that Hitler and Stalin were both lefties and that Scandinavian socialism and the NHS are on the same continuum is historically illiterate hyperbole.

    Come on people you can do better than Glenn Beck!

    Freshverbal

    Marxist Nazi plots are everywhere.

    :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU22QEclVQo

    David

    David Gillies,

    The likelihood of there being a meeting of minds is slim, to put it mildly.

    Indeed. But the non-meeting of minds can be revealing too. I think the word ‘slippery’ has been used, along with more colourful terms.

    Imaginary Marxism trumps actual capitalism.

    That being the gist of it.


    Freshverbal,

    It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers.

    I’m not sure who you’re addressing with this. I only have the time and inclination to defend my own comments. I can’t speak for others. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the tone of a given thread can depend in part on traffic to this site from elsewhere. Thinking beyond a skim of this particular thread, my impression is there’s actually a fairly broad acceptance here of a social safety net, support for disabled people, and other things you might regard as socialist in origin, along with a scepticism of government, the people it tends to attract, and its tendency to grow in both scope and cost. I’d also venture that there’s a certain scepticism regarding what might be thought of as egalitarian psychology and its various dishonesties, and which I’ve illustrated more times than I can count.

    But I’ve only been doing this for seven years, so I could be completely wrong.

    Patrick Brown

    "It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers."

    I'm not. I'm a social democrat. I believe in strong government and state-provided healthcare, education and welfare. As a prerequisite for all that you need economic activity to tax. Money does not grow on trees.

    In countries with capitalist economies regulated by democratic governments and social democratic safety nets, the poorest are better off than the vast majority of humans that have ever lived. There is no actual poverty worth speaking of. To me, that's something to be pleased about. To throw that away because some people are wealthier than others, and replace it with a system we know from long experience results in poverty and repression, and doesn't actually achieve its goal of equality, is obviously foolish.

    David

    Have you ever known a Marxist admit they were wrong?

    Heh. I was under the impression that was the unofficial signature of a Marxist. Never having to say you’re wrong, or sorry. Admitting error, even catastrophic moral error, isn’t that common among people in general. The personality types attracted to Marxoid thinking are, in my experience, even less inclined to make that kind of admission - and by some margin. Instead, there’s typically a sense of their own invincible intelligence. The Marxoid tendency is nothing if not self-flattering.

    For instance, William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn spent a great deal of time entranced by plans of “seizing power” via “armed struggle” and “revolutionary war,” thereby “building a new society” – a “dictatorship of the proletariat” – complete with “re-education centres” and the “elimination” of dissent. So far as I’m aware, neither of them has even blushed at their – to say the least, embarrassing - sociopathic power fantasies. Likewise, the fêted Stalinist Eric Hobsbawm was famously impervious to shame. Interviewed in 1994, Hobsbawm was asked whether achieving his imagined socialist utopia would have justified the murder of 20 million people. He replied, “Yes.”

    Minnow

    "Minnow - Do you appreciate that Marx's labour theory of value is now rejected by most economists?"

    No time to reply to everyone who has been impressed by my wrongness, but worth noting this was Marx and Adams' theory of value. Marx developed it from Adams. Yes, it has been mostly rejected as economics has progressed (?) in the intervening 150 years, just as we are beginning to see the economic theorising of the last 50 years be rejected by nnew evidence. It is worth saying that the labour theory of value does hold for a large amount of economic activity though.If a way is found to make an ipad with half as much labour, the price will move downwards. Marx's theory was more complex than that, obviously, including the costs of labour in developing the plant etc. But you don't need a labour theory of value to recognise that without its labour Apple (and everyone else) would be valueless.

    Minnow

    ""Capital is essential." And it usually just appears, magically. But if it doesn't it can just be stolen from anyone who has 'too much'. "

    Just one last aside before I have to go. No it doesn't appear from nowhere. It is made by workers and then, typically, seized from them. Did you image the Duke of Westminster and his scions were born with a sort of capital gland or something that just excretes the stuff? Or is their having it just some sort of natural fact, like Ben Nevis.

    Dan

    'It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers.'

    There is no full-blown American free market; the USA is a highly regulated country in many ways.

    I think most of us (though I can only definitively speak for myself) are probably realists who look at outcomes, whereas the 'other side' are emotionalists who look at expressed intentions.

    No, it isn't very nice that Mr X has $X billion while people down the road live in shacks.

    But what do people think X is doing with the money? Eating it? Sleeping on it? Usually it is invested - so it is creating jobs and wealth for others - or being spent (ditto).

    So if he's literally sleeping on it - in a £500,000 gold-plated, four-poster bed - that's £500,000 that he has released to the makers of gold-plated four-poster beds.

    I think Minnow's Ferraris of various colours are gaudy and tasteless, but the Ferrari factory employs people, as do the bars and restaurants nearby who service the Ferrari workers, and so on.

    The alternative is that politicians, and people like Minnow, get to take some or all of that wealth away and instead decide how to spend or invest it.

    Why does anyone think that politicians or Minnow know better how to spend that money than does Mr X?

    And what is wrong with the free market?

    Leaving aside the evidence of our own eyes - that, when they are not starting ruinous wars or swanning about in fancy cars, politicians do little more than squander money on projects that they hope will result in their own re-election, and that Minnow seems to have had a fairly unimpressive career (I will stand corrected if we get more detail) - the beauty of the free market is precisely that no-one controls it.

    It is the unimaginably complex result of billions of people interacting with each other, using price as a signal.

    Tesco doesn't set the price of bread: Tesco's customers set the price of bread. Tesco would love to charge £5 for a loaf, but its customers will pay no more than £1.25.

    There is nothing else to it. Supply, demand and the willingness to pay X for a loaf of bread. The price goes up because of scarcity, so farmers in Canada plant more wheat and the price comes down. And everyone gets bread. (Some on the British left are trying to claim the poor are going hungry, even as we see grotesquely obese poor people waddling through our streets.)

    I prefer the customers to set the price of bread than Minnow, or politicians, because in the latter case all sorts of other considerations come into play, such as electoral bribes, quasi religious beliefs about what the price of bread should be, and strange ideas that a small number of enlightened people could know better than the mass of humanity.

    It is certainly not perfect; human beings are involved, so it can't be.

    But it's precisely that 'billions of people' thing that helps (insofar as it has ever been properly tried) to smooth out many of the mistakes, the petty frauds and the political graft that blight the system.

    I wish everyone could be equal. I wish no-one was hungry. I just believe that imperfect capitalism is the best way we have of getting as close as possible to those objectives.

    I am happy that it provides the wealth so that our poor can die of obesity-related conditions (though I wish they didn't).

    Yes, some people get ludicrously wealthy as a result.

    Yes, some are still very poor, even in advanced countries.

    We should do what we can to help the poor, and to help them help themselves.

    In the UK, we offer as a minimum eleven years of free education. Sadly, many children still leave school unable to read or write very well. There's clearly room for improvement just in that area alone.

    (But note: British educationis almost exclusively the province of the State, and politicians, and people like Minnow. A blush might be nice.)

    Socialism and various other forms of leftism have been tried, repeatedly, all around the world.

    It always, but always, ends in no bread except for the politicians and people like Minnow, and millions of people tortured, imprisoned or dead.

    Tim Newman

    But you don't need a labour theory of value to recognise that without its labour Apple (and everyone else) would be valueless.

    This is what is known as a strawman. Nobody is saying labour isn't essential, merely that the labourers are not the only ones adding value, and hence the rewards of the entire enterprise shouldn't rest entirely with the labourers.

    It is made by workers and then, typically, seized from them.

    Income taxes are a bitch, aren't they?

    Tim Newman

    If a way is found to make an ipad with half as much labour, the price will move downwards.

    This assumes that the bulk of an iPad's price is made up of labour costs (which is doubtful), and that the market price of an iPad is based on the cost of production alone (as opposed to the maximum the market will bear, price of competing products, etc.)

    In other words, you're wrong. So very, very wrong.

    Now you can make the argument that reducing costs (of which labour is merely one) *may* reduce the price of a product, but this has absolutely feck all to do with Marx's theory of value no matter how much dimwitted lefties like to claim basic economics which predates Marx by centuries is the product of his wisdom.

    Dan

    @Minnow: 'Just one last aside before I have to go. No it doesn't appear from nowhere. It is made by workers and then, typically, seized from them. Did you image the Duke of Westminster and his scions were born with a sort of capital gland or something that just excretes the stuff? Or is their having it just some sort of natural fact, like Ben Nevis.'

    There's certainly something distasteful about the ownership by the heriditary nobility of vast tracts of land, and for all I care you could make a rule that no-one can own more than x houses, but there are very very few Dukes of Westminster, and it's what you would do to (or about) entrepreneurs that interests me.

    Take a businessman like (say) Jimi Heselden.

    An ex labourer and ex miner (I suspect he knew more about being a 'worker' than you ever did or ever will, Minnow), he was made redundant in the 1980s.

    He had a great idea - the Hesco Bastion unit - and set up a business to produce them with his redundancy pay.

    He offered the people who lived nearby a choice.

    It was: 'Either do, or do not, come and work for me in my factory, into which I have put every penny I have - and I will pay you £x a week for your labour.'

    Some said no, and some said yes.

    His factory made him millions.

    Did he 'seize' those millions from his workers?

    Steve 2: Steveageddon

    Hi Freshverbal,

    "It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers."

    I'm offended by this implication.

    I would describe my politics as Dickensian gentleman-bastard. And you can't get more British than that.

    "Can a nation not implement both socialism and capitalism, remain free and become a global powerhouse?"

    Not for very long, it's not sustainable. The parasitic socialist part of the economy eventually grows so large it sickens and then kills the productive capitalist part that creates the surplus wealth necessary to fund socialist goodies.

    Look at the postwar history of Britain. This is how we ended up with a national debt of over a trillion pounds, with no plan to pay it off. This is how we have a pension system that politicians admit is a Ponzi scheme, dependent on unlimited population growth to fund it.

    But who gets the blame for suicidal spending by successive Labour and Tory governments? The rich, bankers, private companies, anybody with a bit of savings tucked away. Not the takers. No, never them. They're "vulnerable people", or "essential public sector workers". Even when they're not.

    "Unless one is a fundamentalist anarcho-libertarian who believes all tax is theft and that society should be run on a sink or swim basis,"

    All tax is theft, inasmuch as it's a non-voluntary transaction based on coercion backed up by violence. But I'm not an anarchist. We should have a state, but one that restricts itself to the minimum functions necessary to defend liberal society. The courts and police, the armed forces, the roads - I'm happy to pay a contribution towards these things.

    But I'm not happy being taxed to pay for foreign aid, free money for lazy people who don't feel like working and yet have tons of kids, diversity coordinators, or our increasingly shitty and useless state schools. These things can all be either abolished completely or privatised through a voucher scheme.

    The British welfare state punishes people who work for a living and rewards the feckless and the feral. If we want to remain a civilised first world country we need to put a stop to this.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't give alms to the poor. I'm saying we shouldn't financially incentivise people to become helpless clients of the state.

    I have a great belief in Britain, you know. We are not a nation of social workers, or clients of social workers. We are not, please God, a nation of deserving cases. We are a fierce, proud nation, and we are still, God willing, a nation to be reckoned with.

    Nikw211

    Freshverbal,

    It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers.

    Speaking only for myself, I would say that the position outlined by Patrick Brown is the one that probably is closest to my own (though he has summed it up more eloquently than I think I could).

    One of several things I appreciate about this particular blog is that there is a very wide range of opinions, all of which – as even Mrs Minnow has acknowledged – are given an airing and are challenged on their own merits (or lack thereof).

    This is often in stark contrast to what I frequently find to be the case where it ought to matter most – various branches of education. There is a real sense there that any ideas outside of the Left are seen as a kind of contamination and effectively scrubbed out of the classroom. It's as if there is a fear that leaving students to make up their own minds about something will result in some of them taking the 'wrong' path. This is a mistake on almost every level. Ironically, it will be the Left who has the most to lose through this kind of political quarantine in the long run because closed communities always collapse from the inside, and end up devouring their own.

    You may or may not find this appealing, but I think the following - which is a lengthy quote from Conor Cruise O'Brien cited by Christopher Hitchens in his autobiography – is interesting in relation to this discussion:

      "Are you a socialist?" asked the African leader.

      I said, yes.

      He looked me in the eye. "People have been telling me," he said lightly, "that you are a liberal …"

      The statement in its context invited a denial. I said nothing.

      And yet, as I drove home from my interview with the leader, I had to realize that a liberal, incurably, was what I was. Whatever I might argue, I was more profoundly attached to liberal concepts of freedom – freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom, independent judgment and independent judges – than I was to the idea of a disciplined party mobilizing all the forces of society for the creation of a social order guaranteeing more real freedom for all instead of just a few. The revolutionary idea struck me as more immediately relevant for most of humanity than were the liberal concepts. But it was the liberal concepts and their long-term importance – though not the name of liberal – that held my allegiance.

    Civilis

    Come on people you can do better than Glenn Beck!

    We are doing better than Mr. Beck. You, on the other hand, seem to be overly fond of poorly-constructed strawmen.

    Yes the Nazis called themselves socialists and had some profoundly anti free market and collectivist policies but to extrapolate from that that Hitler and Stalin were both lefties and that Scandinavian socialism and the NHS are on the same continuum is historically illiterate hyperbole.

    Part of the issue is that there are multiple continua in play. Minnow's political continuum seems to be a nationalist / internationalist spectrum, which solidly puts the various nationalist socialist flavors on one end and the various ideally internationalist socialist flavors on the opposite end, which is great for separating the icky racist mass-murders from the noble mass-murders that want everyone to be equal, honest. The traditional European system of left/right (as it has evolved) tends to score nationalists as 'right' and internationalists as 'left'. It has the disadvantage of having to deal with systems that aren't readily classifiable using that scorecard, which would be the equivalent of imaginary numbers to the continuum of real numbers.

    We are talking about a continuum that rates systems by the level of control over the populace expressed by the government. In popular culture, this generally ranges from North Korea as the high end of control and Somalia* on the low end of control. (Note that in real life, Somalia is run by a patchwork of small tribal governments, most of them quite dictatorial in nature). On this scale, both the nationalist socialists and the internationalist socialists rank high on the control end, and an increase in government control moves a system down toward the North Korea end even if that increased control is used for a benign purpose. The American political spectrum tends to score low government control as 'right' and high government control as 'left'.

    So, having that strawman torched with a flamethrower, care to debate the issues at hand?

    WTP

    To be clear "Socialism is Theft" does not mean "Taxation is Theft". Though there are questions where the line belongs in the latter.

    And again Soviet Union, North Korea, China, Myanmar, Cuba, Poland post-war to 1990's, Bulgaria post-war to 1990's, Romania post-war to 1990's, Czechoslovakia post-war to 1990's, Hungary post-war to 1990's, East Germany post-war to 1990's, Venezuela, hell...the vast majority of Latin America, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Somalia, Libya, hell again...most of Africa, Pre-Thatcher UK, India, they didn't start the fire...oh, wait a minute, yes they did.

    WTP

    oh yeah, and Detroit.

    Civilis

    There is nothing else to it. Supply, demand and the willingness to pay X for a loaf of bread. The price goes up because of scarcity, so farmers in Canada plant more wheat and the price comes down. And everyone gets bread. (Some on the British left are trying to claim the poor are going hungry, even as we see grotesquely obese poor people waddling through our streets.)

    I prefer the customers to set the price of bread than Minnow, or politicians, because in the latter case all sorts of other considerations come into play, such as electoral bribes, quasi religious beliefs about what the price of bread should be, and strange ideas that a small number of enlightened people could know better than the mass of humanity.

    To second your observations, at a fundamental level economics is the question of how to allocate resources. Take a simple thought experiment: we have a group of people with a scarce essential resource, such as food. The experiment works whether the group is small (a small group of shipwrecked people) or large (an isolated nation like North Korea), and whether the lack of food is limited to a few people skipping a meal or a good portion of the people dying of starvation. The question of economics is, how do you allocate the food in this scenario?

    The capitalist says, you have the food producers determine how to allocate the food individually. The central planner says, you have a central organizing person or group (such as a socialist government) that determines how to fairly allocate the food. Neither method is perfect, as the scenario won't allow everyone to get the food they need, there's no way to have a happy outcome for everyone.

    In theory, the socialist system will take in to account individual needs and the needs of the group as a whole and allocate food in the best, most moral possible manner. Capitalism has no such presumptions, in fact, in theory, capitalism has no moral underpinnings at all; capitalism would be perfectly fine with someone hoarding all the food. That's how the theory goes, at any rate. ("In theory, theory is just like practice. In practice...")

    However, in the real world, everyone has their own desires as to how the food should be allocated. Most people want to make sure they get food they need. Many people will have family members they want to feed. Some people will have less moral demands, like food distribution should prioritize certain ethnic groups. How do you make sure your demands about distributing food are met (ie, how do you make sure you and your family get fed?) In the capitalist system, you produce the food, or find something that the person that produces food values and trade it to them. In the socialist system, you get to be the person or a member of the group that determines how food is distributed, or, if that doesn't work, you offer services to the person or people that make the decisions. The capitalist system rewards the people that provide goods and encourages more production of scarce goods (which may be through knowledge as well as direct labor. If I know a good source of food I can acquire without much work, or can teach farming techniques, I may provide as much food as someone that does a lot more work actually producing food). The socialist system, in contrast, rewards the people that control the system. Kim Jong Un is a lot better fed than his fellow countrymen.

    Okay, so in a capitalist system, a food provider won't sell to certain people. Perhaps he's an evil racist. A socialist system which could force him to sell would be even better, right? Well, the people that can't buy from our racist food hoarder can always buy from someone else. In fact, if they have things to trade, the more people that won't sell to them the stronger the incentive is for the others to sell. And they can always produce their own food. On the other hand, if the people responsible for distributing the food are racist, there's nothing that can be done about it...

    ... except cheat the system. All systems will have cheaters. In a capitalist system where transactions are entered into freely, cheating is theft by force or fraud. These will always be issues due to pesky human nature. Any system can function if people are perfect. People have an incentive to report this kind of theft. When the government controls the exchange of scarce resources, a new type of crime has to be invented. Perhaps I hoard food for my family. Perhaps I trade food to someone not on the approved list. You've now criminalized a behavior between consenting individuals, and you need to now have a method for finding this hidden crime and rooting it out. But this adds another class of people that do something other than produce food, and you either need to feed them or risk them cheating just like everyone else. Congratulations, you've invented black markets, corruption and bribery.

    Which mimics what we see in the real world when socialist economics take over. We have a theory about what will happen as an economy gets more centralized, and we see it played out time and again in the real world.

    Jeff Wood

    This thread could have been short, consisting of a few witty dismissals of the appalling Moore. Thanks to Minnow the Mistaken, it has been most fruitful, using Minnow's arguments as - ahem - fertiliser.

    Smudger

    Yes, but, uh... social justice!

    /sarc

    Re Kim Jong Un being a fat boy while 'his' people starve, why it that the benevolent despots at the top in socialist states - individuals who are without exception infinitely better off than the common folk beneath them, and who contribute literally nothing to those same people - get a pass from Western lefties when it comes to their wealth and material trappings, yet The Rich(TM) in the West - who pay taxes, create jobs and otherwise spread their wealth courtesy of capitalism - are demonised?

    Is it because those Western lefties aren't actually concerned about the things they claim to be concerned about (such as people being dirt poor and powerless)? Surely not.

    David Gillies

    "It seems to me after skimming this thread that the majority of you are full blown American style, fundamentalist free marketeers."

    That of course, is rank question-begging, as if being a fundamentalist free marketeer is a disqualifying criterion for having anything useful to say. It's also question-begging in another sense, as free market fundamentalism is scarcely an American virtue anymore. As for me, I'm a pretty rabid minarchocapitalist, but of the British, expatriate, persuasion. I design software systems for a (reasonably comfortable) living. These have the salient feature that there is an objective metric by which their utility can be measured, viz. do they work? Earnest intention and purity of motive count for little. Likewise, even if we grant the (very generous; contradicted by evidence) assumption that socialists act from nobility of purpose, the fact that everything they touch turns to shit (ineluctably, too, and not through any failure of will but through socialism's essential nature) means they should not be allowed to touch anything.

    Hal

    I'm seeing historical revisionism of the kind which recasts Hitler & Stalin as ideological kin residing at one end of the spectrum (the bad/totalitarian lefty end) and Reagan & Thatcher at the other (good/freedom loving righty end)

    I'm also seeing the kind of anti socialist hysterics of the kind which recasts socialism of any form or level (from the NHS to disability allowance) as a slippery slope to economic destitution and ultimately Auschwitz & the Gulag.

    Wellllll . . . No.

    Yes, Hitler and Stalin are going to be lumped together because they are together, are the same practice, are the same philosophy---have a look at the story of Stalin’s projectionist for a reminder that the worship of Stalin is the worship of Mao is the worship of Hitler. So to sort out if that’s being right wing extreme or left wing extreme, yes, by the way, that does mean that the opposite right wing extremist is Torquemada through the Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, with All of them screaming that God! Is the state, rather than the left wing worship of the Big Brother of the moment.

    Sooo, Once Upon A Time, when God=The State and The State=God, that did make the left wing extremists the liberals and the right wing extremists the conservatives . . . But that was then. These days, we do have the two opposing extremes of God=The State vs The State=God --Iran and North Korea for two easy examples.

    At this point, those two extremes are basically identical in both demanding My Agenda Now!!!! regardless of if the agenda will work, is helpful, is harmful, where all the reasonable issues are all deemed irrelevant because The Ideology must be followed. So if liberal is opposition to That Which Works and How We All Take Care Of All Our Own, that does then mean that both the right and left wing extremists are now the liberals . . . . .

    As for the rest of us, we who have to keep the bills paid, the roads paved, we who keep the food, water, air healthy, are rather interested in our collective children being accurately and usefully educated, this is where we recognize that individuals are not individually going to take care of all this, that there is going to be some overall overaching organizations---generally called government---that takes care of all the Big Details And also yes, as we have all these concerns, we are the conservatives, not the right wing liberals . . . . .

    Sooo . . Of what government is supposed to do and such, we thus wind up with the left wing fantasy that The State=God, that Government Must Be Absolutely Massive And All Over The Place, that all income will be totally and completely taxed and that The State, aka God, will command everything for everyone . . . . and of course The Enlightened (left wing, socialist, communist, fascist, Whatever) Leaders will tell us what to do. We thus wind up with the right wing fantasy that God=The State, that Government Must Be Absolutely Missing or Barely Existent, that there will be no taxes whatsoever, that things will miraculously Just Work, because God, aka The State, will command everything for everyone . . . . and of course The Enlightened (right wing, blessed, consecrated, Whatever) Leaders will tell us what to do.


    And, out here in reality, therefore, the conservative observation is that the correct amout of government is going to be the Goldilocks sized government, there should and will what is needed, and that amount will get discussed. Having an educated populace is rather more useful than a bunch of illiterate hipsters---yeah, redundant, I know---and so we do happily pay taxes to have the schools running, and then we discuss how to have those best schools . . . and roads . . . and healthy environment . . . and energy policies and methods. Yes, y’know, what also happens is that when we do a really good job with our country, and some other country points out that if they would like to do that just like us, and that all would indeed benefit if they got some help, then we conservatives remain very much in favor of foreign aid---Marshall Plan, anyone? . . . and we discuss that too.

    And when the facts change, we change our minds . . . .

    And By The Way, noting that helping with health, and education, and the roads, are those cue screams of horror socialist!!!!!!! things that must be banned, that There Must Be The Free Market---Um . . when y’all say that, just what do you mean by free market???---and yes, as Civilis noted, All systems will have cheaters. In a capitalist system where transactions are entered into freely, cheating is theft by force or fraud. These will always be issues due to pesky human nature. . . . . Sooo, noting all that, allow me to recommend a read of a rather conservative paper that someone wrote up, Capitalism - the Gift That Keeps on Taking, by Michael Gene Sullivan.

    Here's the thing: we now live in a three-part society.

    One aspect is Capitalist: people with money making investments in companies that produce consumer goods and services. (Michael says this while checking out the new Huffington Post app on his for-profit produced iPod Touch!)

    One aspect is Socialist: Commonly owned resources -- parks, schools, libraries, clean air, clean water, etc., and commonly provided services -- education, law enforcement, etc., which we collectively pay for and provide for ourselves. (Michael takes a deep breath of federally regulated, cleaner-then-it-would-be-if-left-up-to-Wall-Street air.)

    One aspect Communist: Self/Worker owned businesses. (Remember -- all that Stalinist shit wasn't communism. That was Totalitarianism, mixed with "For the People" slogans. Communism simply means the workers own the means of production, and Marx said the Communism without Democracy was unthinkable. Michael thinks Stalin was a punk who gave every worker-owned barbershop or art collective a bad name.)

    The big problem of modern societies has been the battle between each of these important aspects for primacy. It's like the movie "Highlander," and the life and death struggle between immortals because "There can be only one!" The battle between Unregulated Capitalism vs. State Socialism vs. the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Some countries have worked towards a balance, but in the United States Capitalists have fought long and hard against common ownership of anything (except their debts), and in the 1980s the Free Market Zealots started going freaky maniacal against anything that did not turn a profit.

    The fact is we all slide fairly effortlessly between each of these seemingly incompatible economic systems each day. We check our Capitalist 401(k)s while driving down publicly financed streets to get our kids to our essentially Socialist schools before we go to the Communist owner-operated/worker owned coffee shop on our way to a corporate cubicle. Even the biggest Capitalists in the country, who blast Federal spending on services, rely on the Socialist network of roads, schools, environmental protections to keep their workers or consumers from rising up in rebellion. What we need, and the only salvation for our society, economy, and our children's future is to stop the battle, and create a new system in which each of these philosophies is responsible for its aspect: A well-regulated market to generate investment in innovation, a government big enough to provide all the services (and that includes Health Care, Transportation, Energy, and Basic Nutrition) a modern society needs for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and an intercommunal spirit of worker-ownership and responsibility.

    How about CapiCommieSocialism? The cool thing is you can put them in any order, which ever you prefer. CommuSocialCapitalism! SocialCapiCommunism! Your turn! The point is we need and use all three all the time. The Stock Market should never be the dominant factor in any nation's economy - it should be a component. A limited, regulated market has it's place, but that place cannot be at the front.

    . . . I see no problem with going with the easiest and moist elegant label. It’s not right wing liberal, it’s not left wing liberal. It’s conservative.

    Hal

    Oh, and for a look of the great joys of modern life under a modern right wing liberal extremist government, I give you the economy of Iran

    ac1

    Ha, I'm a Georgist (Adam Smith/David Ricardo/Winston Churchill Capitalist), it seems to annoy pretend capitalists as well as economic-creationists.

    Megabeast

    You know, if you all just ignore him he'll go away.

    WTP

    MB, Putting aside the condescention...I find that approach might work with the mostly harmless. I prefer to keep those who endorse using the power of the state to control those who produce engaged in justifying their nonsense. Evil prospers when good men do nothing. Besides, it's rare that these creatures venture out of their cocoons exposing themselves. Why let the opportunity pass?

    Civilis

    "You know, if you all just ignore him he'll go away."

    Minnow's not throwing insults around or otherwise acting disruptive. If he was, I'd endorse the all powerful banhammer.

    Not everyone who sees these comments will be solidly one way or the other on the issues. If we don't answer his points, no matter how strawman they are, the undecided viewer comes away with the impression that we don't have an answer, when the truth is we've seen the same point raised a dozen times and swatted it away each time.

    Freshverbal bears watching, his use of tired invective over actual argument gets old real fast ("American style, fundamentalist free marketeers" as a description and an insult, and the invocation of "Fox News" the "Tea Party" and "Glenn Beck").

    Dan

    @Civilis 'Freshverbal bears watching, his use of tired invective over actual argument gets old real fast ("American style, fundamentalist free marketeers" as a description and an insult, and the invocation of "Fox News" the "Tea Party" and "Glenn Beck").'

    To be fair to Freshverbal, I didn't read those as insults but questions.

    I think he (for gender brevity, I apologise if it's she) is in that transition phase between card-carrying, unthinking leftism and seeing the light.

    He described himself on another thread as 'a heretic of the left' I think, or similar. I suspect he is currently stuck on the road to Damascus, wondering whether to press on or turn back.

    This is not an uncommon position to be in. It is hard to make the leap, after twenty or thirty years of believing the impossible, despite daily seeing it contradicted by the evidence of one's own eyes.

    The 2008 crisis gave the nuttier end of the left a glimpse of what real power was like: workshy students and professional layabouts 'occupying' other people's property and smashing it up is intoxicating, after all.

    But the headiness of power corrupts and leads to lots of internecine squabbles.

    I suspect lots of perfectly decent and normal leftwing people such as Freshverbal are finally seeing that the leadership of the modern left is not really concerned with the plight of the working man but with squalid attempts to control others and exercise power over them, all the while drawing nice salaries from the public purse while doing nothing of value whatsoever.

    Eventually, after years of this, all but the truest of believers, the useful idiots, and those who personally benefit will crack.

    Thus, you will never see union leaders or SPADs or lecturers in womens' studies recant, because £££/$$$.

    But the people who pay their wages... the dislillusionment will be strong and painful.

    Freshverbal, I for one welcome you and hope you find things of interest here.

    Minnow

    "You know, if you all just ignore him he'll go away."

    You may be surprised.

    Steve 2: Steveageddon

    Hiya Minnow

    I don't want to ignore you (I like arguing on the internet) and I don't want you to go away (not my blog so it's not my place to say who's welcome, but I don't think David is hostile to debate).

    My tuppence worth: you're wrong about a lot of stuff but you stand your ground. I like that. It's not easy being in a minority of one in a discussion, as it can feel like everybody's piling on you like in a scrum.

    Why are you called Minnow though? If I was to choose an aquatic alter-ego, I'd be a mermaid.

    I mean - Mer-MAN!

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