Capitalism derangement syndrome, Michael Moore and kooky ideology

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Via The Humble Libertarian

The problem with posting once a week is that there is so much material to post about that it becomes distracting. For example, here were a few potential posts:

NYT and Newsweek had some recently sharp criticisms of Obama and his administration. I wanted to tie these into an old post I had regarding Obama’s potential lack of leadership ability.

I was inspired by my friend tL to go out on a limb and give my thoughts on foreign policy. I usually avoid foreign policy. Like law, it is something I am not extremely knowledgeable and it is also something that is very subjective. I generally try and stay out of the subjects and areas that I am not confident or familiar with.

Or, I could have written about the Left Coast Rebel's most recent big time kudos and brought back the Freddie Mercury Clapping Award.

I’m a firm believer in writing what you are most passionate about and that would be government, economics and business. However, I’m always lost and confused over the gibberish-arguments made about capitalism from those that uphold something else. Most of the arguments ranting on the subject require an absolute suspension of the history of the world. They tend to require absurd moral equivalents. Often, they are broken, tired, and regurgitated arguments from Karl Marx, which leads me to wonder, “Are the proponents of these Marxist arguments aware of their author?”

I was recently reading an article at Rise of Reason written by the author of The Humble Libertarian (I’m new to his blog, but so far not disappointed). The first comment to THL’s article caught my eye. It was well written, but also it represents the kookiness I so frequently see from the likeminded. Here it is in it’s entirety below (sorry for the length):

"Capitalism is an illusion. Perfect capitalism is a perfect illusion. Humans are the problem with capitalism. Greed, avarice, control, power, despotism and all the “deadly sins” are manifested and magnified through the illusion that human beings are little more than narcissists masquerading as actual feeling, sentient beings.

There is no accountability in capitalism perfect or imperfect. As long as power and wealth is concentrated and directed towards a few controlling interests; and in return directed against everyone else, accountability or social responsibility is negated and rendered impotent. Those with the gold rule.

The religious proponents of unfettered capitalism in the US are laughable because no major religion on the earth encourages capitalistic behavior that is Darwinian at its core – survival of the fittest. Humans have the capacity to move beyond such primitive, anachronistic, savage, and narcissistic behavior. Cooperation, compassion, brotherly and sisterly love, genuine concern for others beyond one’s profit margins are all the “better angels” of human behavior.

Corporations and governments for that matter, are little more than sepulchers of amoral (at best), generally immoral (yet shrouded in legality), deadened narcissists that are using a golem of dollars and cents to wreak havoc and keep people in fear with debt, loss of income, government control scenarios and the like. It is amazing that “We the People” are the government, that elects its representatives – illusion of representation – and we have been told to fear and loathe that to which we are inextricably connected. The ultimate self loathing scenario.

Yet we have been told through artful propaganda that corporations, capitalism and the so-called “free market” is preferable to “ The People” and their government; while the “The People” at large have no say or participatory representation within the boardrooms that rule society at large. This seems more fascist than democratic :

“Fascism, pronounced /ˈfæʃɪzəm/, comprises a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology[1][2][3][4] and a corporatist economic ideology developed in Italy.[5] Fascists believe that nations and/or races are in perpetual conflict whereby only the strong can survive by being healthy, vital, and by asserting themselves in conflict against the weak.[6 ]”

Money rules all and people are always left dead and dying in their wake.

“In a free market, businesses succeed and fail on the basis of their ideas, on their merit in creating value for society. This is determined by the free and voluntary activity of individuals who exchange with others- again, on the basis of what improves and adds value to their lives. In this model, businesses that don’t create value for others… fail.”

We are told, lies are spun to create value within the minds of those others that capitalists are creating. M ore illusion, smoke and mirrors. There is little merit in economic models that imposes its creation of value and values for society at large that by definition exclude, do harm and promote violent anti-human behavior for those that cannot comply or will not comply to its will. There is little free or voluntary individual activity expressed or encouraged in corporate economical models. Most ideas that are spawned in the capitalistic model are all contingent upon self preservation and profit with little regard for anyone or anything in its way. Look at the healthcare system where thousands of people died each day due to no healthcare. We have been told that healthcare is a privilege not a basic human right.

The idea or perfect capitalism is pretty much like going to heaven: no one knows for sure; it does not and cannot exist in this world; only benefits the believers, and sooner or later everyone that holds to this model will die believing it and will take thousands with them to the grave."

For those of you that still can’t figure out the definition of Capitalism; “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” If it’s not about private ownership then it’s not capitalism. If a reasonable person were to read this definition and desire to debate Capitalism, they would do so on the merits of individual vs. state ownership. That is the scale that exists in this world. Economies are either moving toward centralization or decentralization. If I were talking to a rational person, I’d expect an argument regarding what is more efficient vs. what some central power determines is fair. The kooks, especially Karl Marx, attach a twisted form of morality to the context.

Somewhere in the incoherent ramblings, we are meant to think what? Why is there a constant echo from the kooks that Capitalism brings out only the worst in people and then the argument ends? The author tells me that I must accept the cynicism of the irrational to avoid being a blinded fool. The author makes this argument as if good exists somewhere in individuals, but not in their ownership of property.

What is your proof of your outlandish claims, Enron? Then what would you say of Hitler? He was the leader of a nation and because he chose evil instead of good, does this make all leaders of nation’s evil? What about Charlie Manson? Since Manson was a person and chose great evil instead of good, are we all murderers? What would you say about the history of the world, which clearly documents 6,000 years of abuse by the centralization of property and power? Wouldn’t history indicate that individual ownership of property is the opposite of what has happened throughout history?

What if it is true; the argument that individual ownership of property is inherently corrupt? As Milton Friedman put it, “Who are these angels” that you will appoint to keep individual ownership in line and how do they obtain this virtue that you assume is inherent in something else? I say something else, because the author doesn’t have a clue. The author opines the tyranny of Capitalism and government. In the wake of his arguments, we see humanism with no one to implement it. It can’t be individuals since they cannot be trusted. It can’t be government since they cannot be trusted. Perhaps, it must come from the collective, but if you advocate something other than anarchy, who is there to ensure the good nature of the community? If it is anarchy you advocate, who is there to ensure the good nature of the community?

The author of this comment speaks as if the definition of Capitalism had added the phrase “you must conquer all, no matter the means if you are to own private property.” If that were the case, it was left out of the handbook when I went to work for Corporate-America. If it were the case, someone failed to teach it to me in college. The farce does not come from the halls of corporate marketing, but the belief that Capitalism operates via Social-Darwinism. Yet, I challenge you to give me an example, save countries where government owns the means of production. Tell me how many private companies operate in the US? If your answer is more than a few, you will have a tough time making your case that individual ownership is only serving the needs of the few. How many more private companies are there in economies run by capitalism as opposed to those that are centrally planned? You would think that this fact alone would make the case for individual ownership over state ownership.

What is the truth? The truth is that very few approach business with the intention and plan to dominate. Instead, most proprietors, be it Wall Street or Main Street, believe in and take pride in what they produce. They believe that what they produce is actually valued, wanted, and needed by those that consume it. There is nothing more to it aside from the desire to continually improve so as to continually meet those needs and fulfill the desires of their patrons. The big lie, the author tells me, is that I actually think that I value, want and need the products they produce. Yet regardless, I do need to eat, I do need clothing and I prefer to engage in hobbies as opposed to sitting in the dark.

Profit is not a result of exploitation, but having a superior competence in some area, whether it is a superior product, a more recognized product, a cheaper product, a more desired product, or differentiated product. Those that are ok at their business will do ok. Those that are good at their business will do well. Those that are poor at their business will fail and hopefully move onto vocations better suited for their talents. As a result, they have a better chance of improving their situation and society’s at the same time.

All people have the capability of making points. The only one I can agree with is, “Perfect capitalism is a perfect illusion.” People and intentions are not perfect. So how do we come to terms with this? Do we turn away from a form of economics that has and still works? Or do we embrace more and more centralization of the economy, which has failed men throughout the history of man and continues to be the face of tyranny in this world? If you know something better, then why not say it instead of babbling on in your own duplicitous way?


Teresa said...

Very interesting post! I agree with the phrase,“Perfect capitalism is a perfect illusion.” I just learned in college that there is no "perfect" or "true" capitalism today. Just because one person excels in his field, makes more money than others, doesn't mean the person is corrupt, or a dirty rich capitalist. This means that they worked hard, excelled in their field, and because of this have managed to make a profit.

September 29, 2009 at 5:18 PM

Awesome post C-gen, if this is the content and quality that I will look forward to with your 1 post per week regimen then I deem it is a worthy tradeoff.

Your arguments and point about the nature of capitalism are spot-on. Your definition of many on the left as 'Kooky' is spot-on as well. And yes, Marxism and the commentator's dogma are faith-based and irrational. Nice work! I'll bring readers back to this when I can tie it in......

September 29, 2009 at 5:44 PM
TAO said...

Capitalism is the most ideal system for a society to value production. As a business owner for 25 years and a fiercely independent thinker and individual for 51 years I appreciate the beauty of capitalism probably more than many people do.

But one should not be blinded by the beauty of capitalism to not recognize its own flaws.

When you make a comment such as: "Profit is not a result of exploitation, but having a superior competence in some area, whether it is a superior product, a more recognized product, a cheaper product, a more desired product, or differentiated product. Those that are ok at their business will do ok. Those that are good at their business will do well. Those that are poor at their business will fail and hopefully move onto vocations better suited for their talents. As a result, they have a better chance of improving their situation and society’s at the same time."

You are talking about small businesses rather than the multi national corporations we see today.

When you state, "The truth is that very few approach business with the intention and plan to dominate. Instead, most proprietors, be it Wall Street or Main Street, believe in and take pride in what they produce. They believe that what they produce is actually valued, wanted, and needed by those that consume it. There is nothing more to it aside from the desire to continually improve so as to continually meet those needs and fulfill the desires of their patrons."

That again flies in the face of reality. I think we could name numerous CEO's whos desire is to dominate and who are not focussed on any of the idealistic items of which you mentioned but rather look at only getting bigger and more dominating. IF what you claim were to be true then our automakers would not have been the disasters that their bankrupty filings proved them to be. Our banks and financial institutions would not have melted down the way they did. If your position was true then we would not have the product recalls, the shoddy customer service, the health warnings, and the toxic dumps that we have today.

You are doing a disservice to capitalism when you constantly want to point the finger at government I think the way healthcare reform is being hammered out should be a prime example of how government works and the interelated nature of our government and our big businesses.

Capitalism frees people and establishes a value to individualism and provides a motivation while corporatism provides for the same thing that statism provides: it enslaves, it dominates, dictates, and controls.

You could very well argue that government regulation makes capitalism work better...not that I would expect anyone here to do so! :)

September 29, 2009 at 6:58 PM
Teresa said...

I actually do believe that there has to be some government regulation to keep capitalism, or people in check. There actually were enough rules and laws put in place before the financial crisis, but the SECC officials were too close to the people who they were overseeing so they didn't do they're job aequately, or correctly.

September 29, 2009 at 8:43 PM

@ Teresa - I'm glad to see that they are still teaching economics in college! You summed it up nicely.

@LCR - Thanks and I appreciate any linkage :) I did however, try and avoid the "lefty" paradigm in this post. Although most people that criticize Capitalism come from the left. I'm trying to rant and make a point without over generalizing. I know there are many leftward thinkers that do believe in Capitalism.

@ Tao - Your warning is well taken and I do not disagree entirely with your points. With the accumulation of wealth and power there is often corruption. However, I must say it is difficult the intricate differences of our point of view in a pithy written comment. So while there are stipulations on many of my agreements, here is what I think we can agree on.

It is possible for government to be beneficial to business. However, I frequently see the mixture of political interests and business interests as almost always a bad thing. For example, Obama's financial reforms should be dealing with the concern of "too big to fail." These trillion dollar financial entities have become, by size, threats to our economy and noncompetitive in nature. Obama should have sought to break these companies up. However, due to GE's lobbying, we will not see this happen.

The government can play a role in ensuring that Capitalism does not turn into it's own form of totalitarian rule. However, I do not see a government role in controlling any major part of the economy as beneficial.

@ Teresa - I couldn't agree more.

September 29, 2009 at 10:15 PM
CJ said...

Capitalism is a hard sell because the world’s value systems discourage self-interest. Alan Greenspan talks about this in The Age of Turbulence. Thomas Friedman touches on it too in The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

I think it’s true that if you want to maximize total goods and services produced, capitalism is the best system known.

I do not accept the idea that free markets, and the increased production they can provide, are always a good thing or are tied to personal freedoms. I understand your frustration, though, with people who want more goods and services but think capitalism is evil.

September 29, 2009 at 11:01 PM
TAO said...


Your point about the SEC, and lets not forget the revolving door between our Secretary of the Treasury and Goldman Sachs, is exactly where I think the whole issue of our economic system and our political system lies.

That also includes the lobbyists on K Street.

The concept of 'what is good for the country' can get lost with all the 'hat' shuffling that goes is impossible for someone with years of experience on Wall Street to all of the sudden have a different perspective when becoming Treasury Secretary.

The concept of 'self interest' is not all that difficult. First off, capitalism cannot exist in a society that is lawless and unstable. Thus, welfare provides a way to maintain the law and the stability of a country. There is nothing compassionate about giving people money for being lazy...its better for all of us if the poor having something to live on otherwise they would be marching in the streets. ACORN serves a purpose in society gives the poor and alienated a sense of voice in the system which without they would be less supportive of the system.

Now, I would agree that too much of a good thing can be harmful because in all things balance is important...but one thing that the reactionary right misses when they attack ACORN or welfare, or whatever social program is that what the alternatives would be if we actually did abolish these things...

September 30, 2009 at 12:23 PM
John said...

Am I to assume that you are advocating that ACORN continue to receive billions of taxpayer dollars regardless of the corruption they are involved in?

Secondly, there is a huge difference between small business owners and Publicly Traded Conglomerates.

September 30, 2009 at 10:29 PM
John said...

Sorry I got distracted and sent my post a little to quickly.
Let my pick up where I left off.
"Secondly, there is a huge difference between small businesses and private corporations and Publicly Traded Conglomerates."
The difference (having worked for a Fortune 500 company for 34 year and witnessed its destruction) and the privately own business sector is that Executive compensation became tied to profits as a measure of productively.
"The bigger the profit, the greater the compensation equals greater productivity."
So where did this other faulty paradigms come from? Obviously, they had to come from somewhere. Out of our largest and most prestigious colleges and universities.
Who owns, runs, and teaches in these colleges and universities? Global multinational corporations give billions in funding to colleges and universities. Who are the professors and teachers? They are individuals who have never run or worked in a business in their lives. The one thing that they all have in common is that they have written a book or paper that has been published by some supposed prestigious professional publication yet they lack the credentials of work related experience. These are the same colleges and universities that a certain percentage of our government officials attended. Are you being to see the pattern?
Another paradigm which has been taught is a false set of core values. That is why you saw
the government come to the rescue of certain multi-national corporations. Their failures would have put a huge dent in the globalist bank accounts and definitely set their agenda back for decades.
Someone once said (I don't remember who) "The
most productive work force is one where slave labor is employed."
The next false paradigm is that there somehow "labor" shortages in the US. Labor shortages can not exist in free market economies by themselves. They are generally manufactured by someone (either government or employers) tinkering with the wage rates.
Hence the current problem in Health Care debate. A part of the government's scheme is to control the wages of health care workers in particular Doctor's. Those who can will migrate to higher paying jobs or retire. Students attending college will also migrate to areas where labor rates are higher so the number of students going to medical school will decrease. One only has to look north of our border to see the results. A recent survey shows that Canada has only 197 doctors per 100,000 patients while the US has 267 doctors per 100,000 patients. The end result is a 3 to 6 month wait to see a doctor, 3 to 6 months to get an MRI or other necessary tests, 3 to 6 months before a patient can see a specialist based on the test results, and another 3 to 6 months before receiving treatment or surgery. Total wait time 12 to 18 months. But as one of my many Canadian friends says, "At least the drugs are free, provided you live long enough to get them."

October 1, 2009 at 3:36 AM

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