Political Compass

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
One post, yeah.

Nemesis said:
Once again, your use of the word “discrimination” is but lingo. Capitalist-speak. Preaching to the choir. Only we capitalists could take any of that seriously (well, maybe with some winks), but what does that gain us? Nothing, since we were, by definition, already convinced. Are you just trying to show off, prove that you can walk the walk or talk the talk? Really, between us comrades, it isn’t necessary for you to say anything other than that you’re a capitalist.
I've explained what I mean pretty clearly. I will take the fact that your reply does not attempt to address my point but instead talks about how I shouldn't bother and how I'm just showing off and such as an indication that you don't have any specific objections to what I said :).

cff said:
Poor are not as helpless as babies, but they are more helpless then the rich. And indeed as such capitalism tries to grant equal rights to unequal parties.
The core of our disagreement - unless a person is mentally ill or physically handicapped in some way, I do not see any reason to regard him as being unequal to other people. It's a dangerous path - right now, you're saying that the poor deserve special treatment, but already you also mentioned some tame forms of forced labour in exchange. This is how things begun in feudalism - at first, peasants were technically just as independent as their feudal lords, but as time went on, the feudal lords started usurping more and more control over their vassals, justifying it in much the same way as you do. That's the crux of the matter - you may well refuse to grant the state any excessive control over the people it supports, but since you've opened this gateway, you cannot be sure that somebody fifty years from now doesn't try it.

My challenge was to find a right wing government that strongly opposes monopolies.
Well said. But it seems to me, the real challenge is to find a right-wing government at all... after all, even people considered right-wing extremists, like US President Bush, pursue a strange mixture of right-wing and left-wing policies. A tax cut here, a marriage subsidy there...

True. But the next goverment has to take over the debts of the previous one.
Almost never happens. Take Italy, for example - several different states disappeared to create this strange new country, and the new country did not take over their debts in every case (of course, some had no debt to take over – they were capitalist). But, whatever may have changed for the governments, private companies remained unchanged.

The Enron debacle: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Enron was an electricity supplier, not an insurance company (though, with today's corporations, God knows...). So, the only people to lose their pension in that debacle where those foolish enough to trust a faceless corporation with their retirement money. In that aspect, of course, there is no difference between getting your retirement money from the government or from a corporate insurer - in both cases, you'd've been better off saving the money yourself.

(and yes, most people indeed cannot save - but why not? We teach our kids nuclear physics at school, and we don't teach them something as important as managing their money?!)

ROFLMAO. Again I'll just mention one actual example. [...] Now guess what HE is fired, not the responsible persons.
Which proves my point exactly...

Because mankind didn't have the tools to so completely abuse the environments so far. And actually you could say that such a crash happened for example with the Neanderthals!
The surface area of forests in Europe decreased many, many times more over the course of the 12th-19th centuries than in the 20th century, so I'd rather doubt this claim. This is what I mean when I say you need to be a bit more humble - sure, humans have reached unprecedented destructive capabilities, but it's not like we use nuclear weapons to plow fields. Indeed, human impact pales in comparison to the changes caused by nature itself. It's not the humans' fault that North Africa can no longer provide Europe with an endless supply of grain, for example.

(and the Neanderthals, for all we know, could have been socialist... and indeed, given how hunter-gatherer societies generally have little or no sense of private property rights, they almost certainly were)

Perfect analysis. BUT what you don't seem to realize is that full blown capitalism will ONLY produce that Norwegian/Japanese/Guatemalaian conglomerate. This is the point where a moderate left wing mindset IS needed.
No, this is the point where you need to remind yourself how surprised you'd be if I refused to differentiate between socialism and communism. Like I said, corporations - that is, companies that have a legal status as entities separate from their owners - are neither necessary nor even particularly desirable in the libertarian form of capitalism that I’m talking about.

And of course, capitalism is an entirely different story when you take corporations out of the picture. If you own a company - even one that has dealings all over the world - you will not do things for purely short-term gain. You'll want to leave an even stronger company for your kids to inherit, after all.

An ironic note: there is a peculiar schizophrenia, both in the liberal right-wing and the liberal left-wing, when it comes to corporations. On the one hand, people agree that corporations often behave in an irrational manner, and their managers are frequently driven by greed and corruption, because they're elected by stockholders who know nothing about the business except that they want it to earn them money. On the other hand, however, we all find it more convenient to remain silent about the obvious parallels between the corporate system and the democratic form of government, where the virtually all the same criticisms are equally applicable. Now there's a Pandora's Box we all like to stay away from ;).

Phone lines: well, I am also talking about quality - not only does my phone company not provide me with better (when speed is the criteria, faster = better = quality) internet services, but they also don't bother providing me with stable phone services. Just a few weeks ago, my phone was out for four days, because they couldn’t be bothered fixing it. If I had a choice, I'd already be using a different phone provider – and they’d fight to keep me.

The I am not concerned policy only works for things you can undo.
Let's consider what you're saying for a moment.
1. We shouldn't do things that will negatively affect our descendants, especially if they cannot be undone.
2. It is standard procedure for socialist governments to run at a budget deficit, leading to debt, leading to a higher deficit. Moderate socialist governments, which try to maintain social services while reducing taxes accelerate this process.
3. You cannot undo debt - you can only repay it.

Maybe there's more important things out there than the not-so-impending starvation capitalism is supposedly leading us towards...

But the science I talk of IS much more humble. It really only needs very simple axioms like "the resources of our planet will deplete" that lead to the rest.
You don't quite understand what I mean. When I say you should be more humble, I don't mean you should be more respectful of the planet and more critical of human achievements. Rather, I mean that you should accept the severe limits of our ability to predict the future. To claim that you can solve (or indeed, foresee) a problem even though it does not yet exist, may never exist, and even if it will, nobody knows when - that's pretty arrogant.

BUT if I look at all similar empires I'll notice that all of them fell after about the same amount of years.
"Similar" empires? I can't think of a single example.

Cycles: Let me put it this way. The medieval view of history was that everything happened because God wanted it to happen. This is a very difficult cause to disprove - in fact, it's always a valid explanation. And here's the paradox - if cycles can be used to explain history, and in so doing to validate themselves, then merely saying that something happened because God wanted it to happen is tantamount to proving the existence of God. After all, it couldn't have happened by the will of God if God didn't exist, and if God did exist, it couldn't have happened not by the will of God (since Gods have a tendency to be all-powerful). Now, this is all perfectly fine if you want to prove that God (or some kind of cycle) indeed exists, but it doesn't explain anything.

QTax and social ethics: I know what it's called in Polish, but not sure for English. Possibly, it might be called a poll tax or a head tax. Meanwhile, if social justice can mean the government taking away private property (i.e., not justice), then what does social ethics mean? :) But in any case, this is one point on which we will obviously not agree - I wouldn't bother with those social services at all, for reasons already covered extensively.

That is I HATE the organisations, not the values that they should defend (that they don't do it is the main reason I hate them).
Right, the same reason for which I dislike socialism - it claims to defend certain values, and it ends up doing the exact same opposite. Freedom and justice are important things - if you have everything else but not them, it's not enough.

(a bit more food for thought for you: socialism as a theory is the product of the middle and upper classes, and most of today's socialists are middle-class; have you considered that if payment for social services was optional, many members of these classes would gladly contribute, without any force, without any huge tax & audit departments, and without any abuse of freedom?)
 
Quarto: Well, living in a more or less socialist/liberal country (taking EVERY LAST THING into account is a lot of work, so I'll just go by the leading party's ideology), I can inform you that though the justice might not seem 100% absolute, I dare say it's a good 85%. Even USA seems to be doing worse. Also, I feel most free, thank you very much.

Statement for you to disprove: A generic human entity has studied a certain science in university, but can't find any work these days where those studies can be applied. (Possible case in hand: IT-students in Sweden - no, it has nothing to do with me.) Now, this generic human has moved, living on his/her own. Let's skip ahead in the event-cycle by a dangerous amount here. This student now needs a re-education, but doesn't have enough money to study full-time and put food on the table.
My statement is as follows: Capitalism/liberalism will say "Tough. Now go find a job so you can earn some money, sheesh." This will prevent the student from a thorough study of the new subject, which might arguably lead to a poor end-result.
Socialism will, using taxation (depending on the population, it probably isn't even noticable), provide this student with means to at least put food on the table - forget about the penthouse-suite at Waldorff-Astoria and caviar every day - so he/she can focus well enough on the education to get by. When the student has finished studying, he/she is on his/her own again, looking for a job - and now, all of a sudden, there actually is a number of jobs to choose from.
If the education went well enough to actually get the jobs in real life is a chapter/detail I won't go into.

Disprove. Take the time you need.
 

cff

Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi
Still only one post. *jumps up and down*

Quarto said:
The core of our disagreement - unless a person is mentally ill or physically handicapped in some way, I do not see any reason to regard him as being unequal to other people. It's a dangerous path - right now, you're saying that the poor deserve special treatment, but already you also mentioned some tame forms of forced labour in exchange.
No, it really comes down to helping getting them back into the normal society. However the motivation for abusing the social net has to be lowerd as much as possible. Also note that no matter how well qualified you are and how many jobs in your field are available if your curriculum vitae tells that you were jobless for 10 years you got a big big penalty here. So actually that forced labour could even be useful!

Quarto said:
Almost never happens. Take Italy, for example - several different states disappeared to create this strange new country, and the new country did not take over their debts in every case (of course, some had no debt to take over – they were capitalist). But, whatever may have changed for the governments, private companies remained unchanged.
Take Germany for example. They took all debt for the Nazi regime.

Quarto said:
The Enron debacle: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Enron was an electricity supplier, not an insurance company (though, with today's corporations, God knows...). So, the only people to lose their pension in that debacle where those foolish enough to trust a faceless corporation with their retirement money. In that aspect, of course, there is no difference between getting your retirement money from the government or from a corporate insurer - in both cases, you'd've been better off saving the money yourself.
Correct. But by Enron going bancrupt still many people lost half or more of their retirement money. This is something that would not happen with governmental controlled one.

Quarto said:
(and yes, most people indeed cannot save - but why not? We teach our kids nuclear physics at school, and we don't teach them something as important as managing their money?!)
LOL. Indeed - indeed. And thanks to prepayed cellular phones we can be knee deep in the red numbers at the age of 6 already ;)

Quarto said:
The surface area of forests in Europe decreased many, many times more over the course of the 12th-19th centuries than in the 20th century, so I'd rather doubt this claim. This is what I mean when I say you need to be a bit more humble - sure, humans have reached unprecedented destructive capabilities, but it's not like we use nuclear weapons to plow fields. Indeed, human impact pales in comparison to the changes caused by nature itself.
My point is a different one however. When the romans did a monoculture it wasn't that mono. Just because they couldn't do it technically. Now we create such pure monocultures. And the land is dead afterwards. For example plant strawberries on the same field 3 years in a row. It won't grow about anything anymore after that for years.

Quarto said:
(and the Neanderthals, for all we know, could have been socialist... and indeed, given how hunter-gatherer societies generally have little or no sense of private property rights, they almost certainly were)
Huh? Since when is survival of the fittest with little to no social structure socialist?! In fact since when is "private property rights" a measure of capitalism?

Quarto said:
No, this is the point where you need to remind yourself how surprised you'd be if I refused to differentiate between socialism and communism. Like I said, corporations - that is, companies that have a legal status as entities separate from their owners - are neither necessary nor even particularly desirable in the libertarian form of capitalism that I’m talking about.
In that case I'd dare to say that your aren't talking about pure capitalism. I dunno what you are talking about liberalism?, but most certainly not full blown capitalism.

Quarto said:
And of course, capitalism is an entirely different story when you take corporations out of the picture. If you own a company - even one that has dealings all over the world - you will not do things for purely short-term gain. You'll want to leave an even stronger company for your kids to inherit, after all.
And where do you draw the line between company and corporation?

Quarto said:
On the other hand, however, we all find it more convenient to remain silent about the obvious parallels between the corporate system and the democratic form of government, where the virtually all the same criticisms are equally applicable. Now there's a Pandora's Box we all like to stay away from ;).
Show me a true Democracy and I'd dare to say that it doesn't apply to it. What we got are really elected Oligarchies. I could name numerous cases where the government did decide clearly against the majority of people in its decision here. I am sure you can do the same for your government.

Quarto said:
Phone lines: well, I am also talking about quality - not only does my phone company not provide me with better (when speed is the criteria, faster = better = quality) internet services, but they also don't bother providing me with stable phone services. Just a few weeks ago, my phone was out for four days, because they couldn’t be bothered fixing it. If I had a choice, I'd already be using a different phone provider – and they’d fight to keep me.
The question would be however: could a private company provide you with a more stable one on your current location. I can of cours eonly speak from my perspective, but whenever the market was more competetive I saw more features, but far less stable systems when it comes to telecommunication.

Quarto said:
Let's consider what you're saying for a moment.
1. We shouldn't do things that will negatively affect our descendants, especially if they cannot be undone.
Signing that one.

Quarto said:
2. It is standard procedure for socialist governments to run at a budget deficit, leading to debt, leading to a higher deficit. Moderate socialist governments, which try to maintain social services while reducing taxes accelerate this process.
But this one is false. A responsible socialist government would still only spend what it earns. Lets take a look at Romania (ignoring that the econmy is really trashed there). Even under COMMUNISM they maintained a policy of 0 debth! So it can be done. Spending more then you get is even nothing to be afraid of as long as it averages back in the full economic circle.

Quarto said:
You don't quite understand what I mean. When I say you should be more humble, I don't mean you should be more respectful of the planet and more critical of human achievements. Rather, I mean that you should accept the severe limits of our ability to predict the future. To claim that you can solve (or indeed, foresee) a problem even though it does not yet exist, may never exist, and even if it will, nobody knows when - that's pretty arrogant.
Up front: I never talked about solving anything. I never claimed there aren't severe limits.
But you cannot deny that there are certain trends. And ultimatively all trends are caused by the human mindset.
A mindset that (evolutionary) cannot change in a mere 5000 years. So have to expect to see similar behaviour from todays people then we did see from people 5000 years ago. Can we agree so far? Similar, not identical BTW - as obviously the environment differs. But wether is the tooth of a crocodile or a Porsche - it is still a tool to impress.
So how far is the step as to claim that, because of this archaic mindset that hasn't really evolved at all very much, we will copy certain social and 'economical' patterns as well? And if we accept that how much more is needed to accept that the causal chains are really still pretty similar.

Quarto said:
"Similar" empires? I can't think of a single example.
AFAIK the time around the Han Dynasty in China is supposed to have similar characteristics. As does our very time now (we are supposed to be at the very end of the last phase or the beginning of this one)

Quarto said:
Cycles: Let me put it this way. The medieval view of history was that everything happened because God wanted it to happen.
And today we got everything happen because of (chaotic) science effects. We really just traded "god" for "natural sciences". As such unproven theories aren't much more then believing in miracles - both is a matter of faith.

Quarto said:
This is a very difficult cause to disprove - in fact, it's always a valid explanation. And here's the paradox - if cycles can be used to explain history, and in so doing to validate themselves, then merely saying that something happened because God wanted it to happen is tantamount to proving the existence of God.
But the cycles aren't some completely abstract invention. They don't talk about a masterplan or anything. The very core of the cycles are psychological effects of societies as a whole. The rest just really falls in place from there. And you cannot deny that the society as a whole as a goal, has a motivation, ... And all of them will change according to their environment. Due to the high number of individuals however statistical exceptions are extremely rare as they would average themself out.

Quarto said:
After all, it couldn't have happened by the will of God if God didn't exist, and if God did exist, it couldn't have happened not by the will of God (since Gods have a tendency to be all-powerful). Now, this is all perfectly fine if you want to prove that God (or some kind of cycle) indeed exists, but it doesn't explain anything.
Let me answer very short here:
I can mathematically PROVE that you CANNOT mathematically prove that god exists (you cannot prove that god doesn't exist either). Its an undecideable problem. And I'd really LOVE to present this prove to some clericals.

Quarto said:
Right, the same reason for which I dislike socialism - it claims to defend certain values, and it ends up doing the exact same opposite. Freedom and justice are important things - if you have everything else but not them, it's not enough.
In this case we shoudld just say we hate hypocrisy. What is my main problem is that you don't seem to notice the high degree of it in capitalism.

Quarto said:
(a bit more food for thought for you: socialism as a theory is the product of the middle and upper classes, and most of today's socialists are middle-class; have you considered that if payment for social services was optional, many members of these classes would gladly contribute, without any force, without any huge tax & audit departments, and without any abuse of freedom?)
That I doubt. How much do you donate each year? You'll surely tell me look at people like Bill Gates who donated sums that could buy a small state. Right. But these donations aren't exactly out of generousity. They are of use for him in two ways. For one they reduce taxes (I'll skip the second Microsoft bashing one).
 

Nemesis

Spaceman
I've explained what I mean pretty clearly. I will take the fact that your reply does not attempt to address my point but instead talks about how I shouldn't bother and how I'm just showing off and such as an indication that you don't have any specific objections to what I said.
Yeah, right, no objections at all. I’m happy to take you at your word. So, of course, when you say that capitalism is “non-discriminatory”, you clearly mean that no one is ever discriminated against on any basis, disfavored in any manner, judged or otherwise placed at a disadvantage compared to anyone else, or deemed in any respect “a safe bet” to fail in life and so “written-off”, and that equal opportunity is a natural (as in fostered by capitalism) constant for all.

Who can argue with that?
 

Ripper

Peace Through Superior Firepower
If you have two guys doing one woman, one in the front and one in the back, and their balls bang together, is that gay?
 

Eder

Mr. Standoff
Nemesis said:
Yeah, right, no objections at all. I’m happy to take you at your word. So, of course, when you say that capitalism is “non-discriminatory”, you clearly mean that no one is ever discriminated against on any basis, disfavored in any manner, judged or otherwise placed at a disadvantage compared to anyone else, or deemed in any respect “a safe bet” to fail in life and so “written-off”, and that equal opportunity is a natural (as in fostered by capitalism) constant for all.

Who can argue with that?
I don't think anybody can at all... equal opportunity is a natural constant in capitalism.

I feel the need to point out to you that "capitalism" and "all aspects of society" or "every single sphere of human existance" are not interchangeable terms.
 

Death

gh0d (Administrator)
Ripper said:
If you have two guys doing one woman, one in the front and one in the back, and their balls bang together, is that gay?
No, but in your case it's a contributing factor to your being given a vacation from the forums. Don't be a dick.

That's an administrative priviledge.
 

Nemesis

Spaceman
I don't think anybody can at all... equal opportunity is a natural constant in capitalism.

I feel the need to point out to you that "capitalism" and "all aspects of society" or "every single sphere of human existence" are not interchangeable terms.
Most certainly. The market is but one aspect of the human dimention.
Yes, those all come across as well-stated, reasonable, even logical, points. And I very much respect the other like statements that have been made in this thread. Theory is good. Idealism is good. But of course what we’re all talking about here ultimately is real life, where the rubber meets the road.

So here are three true stories (I assure you they are, with the exception of a few name changes) that present three different contexts: circumstance, attitude, and trend.

1) Elizabeth is the breadwinner of her family and a mother of four children, one with epilepsy. She is entering late middle age. She works in a large retail store, running the cash register. She makes $6.80 an hour. Twenty years ago she was making $6.00 an hour. She cannot afford health insurance, one consequence being that she was unable to cover her own dental treatment and so lost her front teeth. Management is unwilling to let her rearrange her working hours to better care for the one child who also has some degree of retardation. She has been passed over for promotions, in part because management finds her personal appearance, mostly due to the missing teeth, too unbecoming. (It is a “customer-oriented” business after all.)

2) When I was in college, a group of us went on a “road trip” one weekend. (All names, locations, and details omitted in order to protect the guilty.) At one point we had to pass through a major city, and actually the inner city. For one of my friends, however, that turned out to be a first-time experience. He had lived a life of some privilege; his family was well-to-do and he had even spent a few years living abroad and traveling. He was smart and especially well-read. But on that particular day he was captivated by the rows of identical, worn down buildings and the somewhat bedraggled people sitting on stoops watching us drive by. He finally commented (his exact words): “Why do they want to live like that?”

3) Twenty-five years ago in my neck of the woods, commercial lease agreements set up a certain, and at that time pretty traditional, division of risk between landlord and tenant. The landlord required the tenant to pay a fixed base rental plus so-called additional rent that usually only consisted of the annual property taxes (divvied up among all the tenants of course). The landlord calculated the base rental to include a certain “profit” plus an amount that was the landlord’s expectation of all the additional expenses the property would incur, from repairs to insurance to lawsuits, and so on. Around fifteen years ago, however, landlords began changing the division of risk, shifting more of it to tenants. The base rental now comprised only the landlord’s profit, while the additional rent was defined to include any and all expenses the landlord incurred. In other words, a tenant was now required to guarantee the landlord’s profit and coverage of all such expenses, whatever their amount in a given year. In most recent years, landlords have only further shifted the risk of their commercial properties to tenants. In particular, whereas before a tenant was usually free to sell its business to a “capable” buyer, which included an assignment of the existing lease so the buyer could carry on with the business, now landlords are requiring tenants who sell their businesses to guarantee the performance of their buyers as the new tenants. One upshot is that the “nest eggs” of some small business owners are effectively encumbered and remain at risk for some years into retirement.

Of course you’re free to make of these accounts what you will; I relate them only as background from which to better relate the considered opinion of “the street”, which you’re also free to take with a grain of salt. (Or several.) Understand (and I really mean this) I am not out to prove anything here, let alone convince anyone of anything, just share FYI a range of perspectives commonly shared within the neighborhoods and communities I have known. (As for my bona fides, I grew up in Appalachia.) If I do have a point, I suppose it is simply that this topic is very complex and that while theory is important, indeed essential, it is sometimes too easy to get too comfortable with the “logic” of abstract terms. Which is, I would contend, if you’ll excuse the play on words, the capital mistake made by socialists. (You’re also going to have to forgive if the following sounds like I had a little fun writing it.)

On the question of equal opportunity, “the street” absolutely agrees it is a real thing as well as a constant, something easily found nearly everywhere in fact, and is specifically the $1.00 lottery ticket. As for capitalism being but one part of the jigsaw puzzle of society, or of human “existence” or “dimension”, “the street” says that’s sophistry, for it matters not at all whether capitalism is flawed in some way or whether some other “cog” of society works to keep capitalism from fully realizing its potential, the results are the same and “the street”, like any stout capitalist, is only impressed by the “bottom line”, not efforts or excuses. But “the street” does indeed “get” that under socialism almost everyone suffers want of some kind, while under capitalism many more people can be well-off and happy; what “the street” does not “get”, however, is what a “Mr. Moneybags” could possibly be complaining about–invoking words like “discrimination” and “socialism”–if an increase in his taxes causes him to be able to afford a total of only four separate homes now instead of the previous five. And really, how could he, or anyone, ever feel any “need” past three, maybe even two? Overall, “the street” believes that whatever the economic system deployed, however privilege and power are defined and determined therein, those who come to be the “more well-off” can’t help striving, for some unknown reason, to find ways to make it more and more difficult for the “less well-off” to cross over. And while “the street” likes the word “discrimination” to describe this state of affairs, it really prefers terms like “slow poison” and “boot in the face”, since they capture more of the raw and day-to-day experience of the matter. Nevertheless, “the street” also recognizes that it’s a two-way street, and that given the chance, the “less well-off” will be tempted to transform so-called free lunches (welfare and the like) into free rides. Finally, “the street” sees much to admire in Ronald Reagan’s indefatigable smile of optimism, but thinks Jimmy Carter hit the nail on the head when he said “life is unfair”.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Just in case anyone was wondering, haven't forgotten about this thread, simply been busy doing other things ;).
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Sorry I took so long. First time I replied, I accidentally lost my post, and I didn't feel like retyping it for a while. Anyway, it ended up long enough for two posts, but since I’m replying to multiple posts here, I’m excused :p.

Mystery muppet: this is a typically socialist argument - you ask me to take responsibility for someone else's actions, while not only absolving this person of responsibility for his own actions, but indeed even openly stating that you do not consider the question of whether he even did well in his education to be a part of the issue. Well, guess what? I don't give a damn. If you are free to study IT, you are also free to not study IT. If you choose to study IT, it's your choice. If it turns out that this was a bad choice... well, that doesn't change the fact that it was your choice, and the consequences belong to you alone. I don't care if you've got a Master's degree, a PhD, or if you're God Himself. You're still not entitled to my money. So yeah - my advice to such a person would be to get over his arrogance and get a job sweeping the street. At the same time, I would also point out that if it wasn't for socialism, there would be more jobs in his area of expertise, and so he could find the work that he wanted... but that's been discussed already, so you'll have to refer to my previous posts.

Nemesis: again, you insist on ignoring the point I make. I stress - yet again - the fact that I’m talking about legislative discrimination. The law is the foundation of the society. You can of course have an unequal society with equal rights for all, but you cannot have an equal society with unequal rights. In the context of the law (and I never claimed to be saying anything more than that) yes, capitalism is indeed non-discriminative, while socialism is discriminative. Again, please don’t bother me with details of how capitalist countries introduce discriminatory laws et cetera. I know they do – the point is, they don’t have to, while in socialism, they have to.

As for these stories... well, frankly, I don’t see how they’re related to the discussion. I know poor people aren’t happy to be poor, and I certainly don’t claim they should be. But I also know that rich people don’t magically become rich overnight - they achieve this through hard work. There is no way that punishing them for their hard work can be justified.

I’d like to make a quick comment about the third of your stories. Over the past 25 years, it’s not just the landlords that have changed things in the landlord-tenant deal. It’s also the legislators, who make it increasingly difficult for landlords to throw out onto the street people who fail to pay. These people, by virtue of being unable to afford their rent, the argument goes, deserve special protection. And so they get it, and as a consequence the landlords have no choice but to increase the rent for everybody, to cushion the effects of the increased risk that they’ll get a tenant who doesn’t pay the rent and cannot be immediately thrown out. Ironically, the very same left-wing idealists who claim that tenants must be protected against evil landlords that are only waiting for an opportunity to throw them out onto the street are also the most rabid abortion supporters. Go figure.

cff said:
No, it really comes down to helping getting them back into the normal society [...] if your curriculum vitae tells that you were jobless for 10 years you got a big big penalty here. So actually that forced labour could even be useful!
I don't doubt that it could. And I don't doubt that people, once gotten used to it, would fight tooth and nail to keep it - the Russian serfs in the 1860s took up arms when they heard that the government was planning to abolish serfdom. Similarly, one detail that is not often mentioned about slavery (in any time period) is that many of those born into slavery were perfectly happy to live as slaves. As long as they were someone's property, they were taken care of, while if they were free, they'd have to fend for themselves. These facts, however, do not make slavery and feudalism any less immoral.
Incidentally, feudalism wasn't born as a mature system either. A very, very important fact to consider is that feudalism arose in societies that had previously been just about democratic. And the reason that feudalism appeared was because the lower classes thought it was a pretty good deal - they become vassals, give their new lord a portion of their produce and of their time, and in exchange they get protection against all uncertainties. The fact that all this sounds a lot like the socialist system you're trying to justify is pretty disturbing, especially considering that once feudalism was established, the lords did everything they could to gradually remove their vassals' freedom and turn them into serfs. Even more disturbing is the fact that this is clearly where your idea of forced labour is heading, too.
That's why there absolutely cannot be a compromise on this stuff. It's simply far too dangerous. If you truly are concerned about anticipating the future problems of our society It really isn't the (possible, but extremely doubtful) food shortage in the year 7004 that you should be worried about - it's the system you're advocating.

Take Germany for example. They took all debt for the Nazi regime.
Did they have a choice? :p

Correct. But by Enron going bancrupt still many people lost half or more of their retirement money. This is something that would not happen with governmental controlled one.
Why not? Governments can also go bankrupt, especially since it's become so fashionable to engage in unchecked deficit spending. That, incidentally, is another peculiarity of socialism - when a family tries to spend more than it can afford on luxuries it doesn't need, everybody agrees that there's something wrong. But when a government does it...

Neanderthals and property rights: private property rights are a measure of socialism - the less right you have to do what you will with your property, the more socialist the system you live in. In the case of neanderthals - well, of course we don't know much about the times they lived in, so we must be careful with our assertions, but based on our knowledge of other hunter-gatherer societies, we can be fairly sure they were socialist; you could even call them communist. Basically, in a hunter-gatherer society, the survival of the fittest concept is rejected entirely - each individual exists to support the tribe, and the tribe exists to support the individuals. Some peculiarities that arise out of this - you don't own property. You may use it, but anybody else from the tribe can too. Many Aboriginal languages in Australia do not have a phrase like "thank you" - you cannot thank someone for lending you his spear when you believe that you have as much right to use the spear as he does.

Liberalism, capitalism: I am talking about libertarianism. On that diagram, it's at the right end of the scale, and slightly below the centre line. In any case, I don't see what facts you're basing this claim on. Why exactly do you think pure capitalism needs corporations? Again I must remind you, corporations love socialism. One could even go as far as to claim that corporations are based on socialism, since they're a variation of the "let's put our resources together and see where it takes us" notion that social security is based on.

Company/Corporation: a company, no matter its size, has an owner. As far as property laws are concerned, there is no difference between your car and your multi-million-dollar-a-year company. They're both simply your property. A corporation, on the other hand, exists independently of the people running it. Not only does a corporation not have any owners, but it is in fact an owner. Needless to say, this has a devastating effect as far as responsible behaviour goes. The CEO of a corporation can make any decision he likes, knowing that in the event of legal trouble, it will almost certainly be the corporation and not him personally that must take legal responsibility.

True democracy: indeed. I would love to show you a true democracy, but I cannot seem to find one. I don't claim to have the answers about this issue, but sometimes I wonder if we all don't intentionally blind ourselves to the terrible failures of democracy because of all the dictatorships we saw in the 20th century. I mean, if a corporation and a democracy work on the same principles, and we agree that corporations are harmful and irresponsible, then why do we not draw the same conclusions about democracy? And if there is such a thing as a 'true democracy' which would work well, then is there such a thing as a 'true corporation' which would work equally well?

But this one is false. A responsible socialist government would still only spend what it earns. Lets take a look at Romania (ignoring that the econmy is really trashed there). Even under COMMUNISM they maintained a policy of 0 debth! So it can be done. Spending more then you get is even nothing to be afraid of as long as it averages back in the full economic circle.
You're separating actions and consequences here. You cannot praise Romania's "responsible" socialist policies while ignoring the destruction of the economy. You can, of course, try to disprove the connection between one or the other, but... good luck. To me, the fact that even Romania, one of the most resource-rich countries in this part of Europe, failed in its attempt to combine socialist values with economic responsibility is conclusive proof that "responsible socialist government" is an oxymoron.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Part 2/2

AFAIK the time around the Han Dynasty in China is supposed to have similar characteristics. As does our very time now (we are supposed to be at the very end of the last phase or the beginning of this one)
Our time now? In what way does our time resemble the Roman Empire? Indeed, what is 'our time'? The Roman Empire was defined both temporally and geographically. If you want to compare 'our time' with it, you will also have to define this time both temporally and geographically.

Cycles again: the whole point of the discipline of history is to work out the incredibly complex cause-effect relationships in history, while realising that our knowledge of history will always be incomplete. As such, the idea that it can all be explained with some vague (and it has to be vague, because anything more exact would not work) cycle theory is nothing less than absurd. It's like the "every second Star Trek movie is good" theory - the facts may indicate that there is some truth in this claim, but knowing this gives you absolutely nothing, and in a worst-case scenario, will result in idiots claiming that, say, Star Trek XVI, will be be a great movie while Start Trek XV will suck, or even worse - that Star Trek II was good not because it was a good movie, but because it was the second Star Trek movie, while Star Trek III was bad because, as an odd-numbered Star Trek movie, it HAD to be bad. Such analyses are simply an absurd joke. Cycle theories are amusing, and sometimes serve to highlight interesting coincidences, but used for anything more than that, they are absurdity and abstraction.

In this case we shoudld just say we hate hypocrisy. What is my main problem is that you don't seem to notice the high degree of it in capitalism.
There's a difference between hypocrisy in capitalism (which I do not see) and hypocrisy in people who claim to be capitalists (which is, indeed, plentiful). But to consider these two things as one and the same would be like me trying to disprove the advantages of socialism based on Pol Pot's actions.

That I doubt. How much do you donate each year? You'll surely tell me look at people like Bill Gates who donated sums that could buy a small state. Right. But these donations aren't exactly out of generousity.
This is a problem caused by socialism, though. Why should I donate money to charities when the government is already taking a part of my income for (supposedly) that exact reason? Meanwhile, the fact that people are willing to give to charities when their donations are tax-deductible is very revealing. These people are obviously not motivated by greed (the taxes are ONLY reduced by the amount that you donate, so it's a zero-sum game). So why do they bother? I mean it's less work to just pay the damn tax in full than to give money to a charity and then prove to the government that you did indeed give the money away and your tax should be reduced. It seems reasonable to assume that in fact, these people are motivated by good intentions.
Would people give more money if their taxes were lower? Personally, I think this goes without saying. But if you want proof, I suggest you take a trip to north Germany. Wandering about the cities that were once a part of the Hanseatic League of merchants, you will see something remarkable. Churches - lots and lots of them. Built with the money of private donors.
 

cff

Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi
Quarto said:
>Take Germany for example. They took all debt for the Nazi regime.
Did they have a choice? :p
Well there are other countries like mine that could at least share some of it, no? Not that we don't have to pay enough in restaurations anyhow.
Anyhow - you are even kinda strenghtening my point - similar other governments don't have much choice aither.

Quarto said:
Why not? Governments can also go bankrupt, especially since it's become so fashionable to engage in unchecked deficit spending. That, incidentally, is another peculiarity of socialism - when a family tries to spend more than it can afford on luxuries it doesn't need, everybody agrees that there's something wrong. But when a government does it...
Right on both. BUT if your government goes truely bankrupt there really isn't much point in any argumentation anymore. You will loose your money no matter if they had it or private companies.

Quarto said:
Neanderthals and property rights: private property rights are a measure of socialism - the less right you have to do what you will with your property, the more socialist the system you live in. In the case of neanderthals - well, of course we don't know much about the times they lived in, so we must be careful with our assertions, but based on our knowledge of other hunter-gatherer societies, we can be fairly sure they were socialist; you could even call them communist. Basically, in a hunter-gatherer society, the survival of the fittest concept is rejected entirely - each individual exists to support the tribe, and the tribe exists to support the individuals.
Ow - ow... Hold on. What you call communism is called civilisation. You demand that everybody is completely self sustained otherwise. Which would destroy capitalism as well BTW - after all why buy goods if I can make all of them myself. We are talking purely about spezialisation and the evolution of sozial structures. This has nothing todo with ANY form of government or economic view.
Let me take your example and turn it 180 degrees: In the end it doesn't really matter if money is involved or if the goods themself are traded, right? So I could actually say Neanderthals were the ultimate capitalists - those who were of no use to the tribe got thrown out and probably didn't make it. Its also not like that everyone had the same status. Of course the more 'useful' members of a group got a bigger share of the wealth. There - where is your communism now?

Quarto said:
Liberalism, capitalism: I am talking about libertarianism. On that diagram, it's at the right end of the scale, and slightly below the centre line. In any case, I don't see what facts you're basing this claim on. Why exactly do you think pure capitalism needs corporations?
I didn't say it needs corporations. I just statet the fact that corporations are the inevitable RESULT of free capitalism. Like nuclear waste is the result of any atomar-reactor.

Quarto said:
Again I must remind you, corporations love socialism. One could even go as far as to claim that corporations are based on socialism, since they're a variation of the "let's put our resources together and see where it takes us" notion that social security is based on.
No, they are a variation of "lets pool our resources to maximize profits" which is a purely capitalist notion.
I see where your affinity between socialism and big companies comes from, but that doesn't make them socialist entities.

Quarto said:
Company/Corporation: a company, no matter its size, has an owner. As far as property laws are concerned, there is no difference between your car and your multi-million-dollar-a-year company. They're both simply your property. A corporation, on the other hand, exists independently of the people running it. Not only does a corporation not have any owners, but it is in fact an owner. Needless to say, this has a devastating effect as far as responsible behaviour goes. The CEO of a corporation can make any decision he likes, knowing that in the event of legal trouble, it will almost certainly be the corporation and not him personally that must take legal responsibility.
Again I ask - when does a company start to become a corporation? When it has more the one owner? When it has a CEO? When it starts to be traded on the stock market?

Quarto said:
If a corporation and a democracy work on the same principles, and we agree that corporations are harmful and irresponsible, then why do we not draw the same conclusions about democracy? And if there is such a thing as a 'true democracy' which would work well, then is there such a thing as a 'true corporation' which would work equally well?
Well the goal of the true democracy is to care for the majority of people, right?
The goal of the true corporation is to make money, right (they can be responsible and all, but ultimately it is about money)?
So there is your difference - they migth work on the same ruleset, but the goal is different.

Quarto said:
You're separating actions and consequences here. You cannot praise Romania's "responsible" socialist policies while ignoring the destruction of the economy. You can, of course, try to disprove the connection between one or the other, but... good luck. To me, the fact that even Romania, one of the most resource-rich countries in this part of Europe, failed in its attempt to combine socialist values with economic responsibility is conclusive proof that "responsible socialist government" is an oxymoron.
That's why I said it was a bad example. But it is not like that the 'unresponsible' communist governments around them are in much better shape either, is it? Or at least where at the moment the communists left them. The reason why Romania is still as bad as it is is more a motivational problem. Not trying to be insulting - but the general Romanian seems to be far far more lazy then any other Easter-European. Of course this is also a result of the communism there. But the other countries still seem to recover faster form it.

Quarto said:
Oh nooooooooooooooooo!

Quarto said:
Our time now? In what way does our time resemble the Roman Empire? Indeed, what is 'our time'? The Roman Empire was defined both temporally and geographically. If you want to compare 'our time' with it, you will also have to define this time both temporally and geographically.
It resembles the Roman Empire in as far as we are at the start of the Empire phase.
(in Roman comparision we'd just have survived Hannibal, and Caesar probably is gone as well and we are moving towards the Trajan area.
Geographically (Western-)Europe.

Quarto said:
Cycles again: the whole point of the discipline of history is to work out the incredibly complex cause-effect relationships in history, while realising that our knowledge of history will always be incomplete. As such, the idea that it can all be explained with some vague (and it has to be vague, because anything more exact would not work) cycle theory is nothing less than absurd.
Not at all. The cycle theory merely claims that the cause-effect relationships repeat themself. Actually you could even only say that the cycle theory claims that the causes repeat themself.
Trying to present easier results:
What would happen with an extremely repressed society? There will be a revolution. Each and every time. Sometimes bloody, sometimes gradually. But it will happen.
Now what happens with the freed society? It will grow and prosper, but in the end it will grow decadent and will finally turn into a repressed society again.
This doesn't negate the need for historicans. It is still a very interesting topic to analyce the how and whys of a particular case.
What you try to tell me is that as our understanding of physics is and will always be incomplete and thus the idea of Newtonian physics to explain things is absurd.

Quarto said:
It's like the "every second Star Trek movie is good" theory - the facts may indicate that there is some truth in this claim, but knowing this gives you absolutely nothing, and in a worst-case scenario, will result in idiots claiming that, say, Star Trek XVI, will be be a great movie while Start Trek XV will suck, or even worse - that Star Trek II was good not because it was a good movie, but because it was the second Star Trek movie, while Star Trek III was bad because, as an odd-numbered Star Trek movie, it HAD to be bad. Such analyses are simply an absurd joke. Cycle theories are amusing, and sometimes serve to highlight interesting coincidences, but used for anything more than that, they are absurdity and abstraction.
This example is actually quite good imho. But you ignore one thing: the reason WHY the odd ones are bad. Given the rather big sample space by now you should start to query the mehanics behind it rather then say it is absurd. Now I don't know enough about ST, but let me do the same comparision for WC!
WC2 and WC4 are considered better then WC1 or WC3 by the majority. Now why is this so?
Simple: WC1 and WC3 had been new technical innovations. They live of the WOW-factor. Wow a spacesim with a story. Wow FMV in a game. WC2 and WC4 OTOH didn't have that WOW-factor. So Origin instead had to improve the over all game and especially the story - making them the far better games in the end then their respective predecessors.
So indeed I'd claim that every WC game that is built on the same engine then its predecessor will be better then said predecessor. This is cycle theory.
Note that this does not apply to P1 vs P2 - they don't share the engine.
Also note that we also see what I called a major shift in society when comparing WCP and SO. By theory (and if we accept that SO is a standalone game) SO should be superior. However it isn't. This isn't so because the theory above is wrong, but because something chaotic and hugely unexpected happened - Origin gave away a game for free. If they had been a true WC6 built onto the WCP vision engine I have no doubt it would have been better then WCP.

Quarto said:
Meanwhile, the fact that people are willing to give to charities when their donations are tax-deductible is very revealing. These people are obviously not motivated by greed (the taxes are ONLY reduced by the amount that you donate, so it's a zero-sum game). So why do they bother?
a) PR
b) to feel better (it makes you feel better to give one poor person something then to give an anonymous organisation that in turn gives that same poor person the money)
c) It is only a zero sum game as long as there are taxes. So rigth now you don't loose a thing so why not donate. However without tax it would a true loss, so the money donated woul be LOWER.

Quarto said:
Would people give more money if their taxes were lower? Personally, I think this goes without saying. But if you want proof, I suggest you take a trip to north Germany. Wandering about the cities that were once a part of the Hanseatic League of merchants, you will see something remarkable. Churches - lots and lots of them. Built with the money of private donors.
I'll just present Austria as a counter-example. We got one of the highest taxes in Europe, I think only second to Germany. Yet as it seems we have the HIGHEST ammount of private donations in Europe as well. This is really more a question of mentality then it is of money. Also note that most of the ones that donate are actually quite POOR people. If you look at the lists you see sums of 1 euro for example, sometimes even less. You rarely see anything like 1000 euro however.
The mentality needed to get rich also is the mentality to completely forget about the poor in most cases...
 
Quarto said:
this is a typically socialist argument - you ask me to take responsibility for someone else's actions, while not only absolving this person of responsibility for his own actions, but indeed even openly stating that you do not consider the question of whether he even did well in his education to be a part of the issue. Well, guess what? I don't give a damn.
A-HA! No, NOT 'take responsibility', it's about lending a hand. Bein' a good samaritan, like. Besides, it's not like it's a lot of money, AS LONG AS EVERYONE PAYS THEIR TAXES.
Ooo, just thought of something - we HAVE a system like this already, in the... unions, or whatever they're called. Those bunches where the workers pool together, collective wages, improved working conditions, etc. Anyway, you pay your union like 1.06% of your pay, and after various detours, some of it is given to those unlucky sods who haven't had a job for a while (I don't know how long).
So yeah - my advice to such a person would be to get over his arrogance and get a job sweeping the street.
Arrogance was never a factor.
At the same time, I would also point out that if it wasn't for socialism, there would be more jobs in his area of expertise, and so he could find the work that he wanted...
Actually, you're wrong. We had what we called an IT-bubble here in Sweden a few years ago. Everyone and their grandparents wanted to get a share of the goldmine this IT-industry promised to be (capitalist-notion?). Because of that, the market was saturated almost instantly (I don't think it took even 18 months), people were fired all over, several companies went bankrupt, and those who began studying IT before that mess are pretty much on their own.
Now, if it would've been a government-controlled business (like electricity was recently, and like booze still is), I suppose not even half of the previously indicated people would have been employed in the IT-sector in the first place (but isn't that monopoly? Communism-like?). BUT: The market wouldn't be saturated so bloody quick, some companies might be lucky enough to get a chance to expand, etc. People could've worked in that sector longer. Now, let's all not attribute that to saturated market alone - some company was a bluff, maybe others, and some couldn't do what they set out to do, which hollowed out the confidence in IT. *Splat*
In a properly socialistic state, the unemployed could easily enough educate themselves into something else without much fear of losing their home. *Cough* Provided it's pretty spartan, I suppose... :)

The eleventh commandment: Social safety-net is a Good Thing.
 

Ripper

Peace Through Superior Firepower
So if I move to Sweden, and don't want to work, you have no problem taking care of me?
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
Mystery muppet said:
A-HA! No, NOT 'take responsibility', it's about lending a hand. Bein' a good samaritan, like.
Lending a hand and being a good samaritan is something commendable, and voluntary. Government taxation with threat of imprisonment isn't.

Mystery muppet said:
The eleventh commandment: Social safety-net is a Good Thing.
I don't think The Ten Commandments need to be revised by socialist legislators.
 
Ripper: Well, the specifics of the welfare-system isn't something I'm familiar with. Sounds about right, though. You wouldn't get much money (just enough to put food on the table when the bills are paid, hopefully), so you wouldn't be able to survive solely on that.

Delance: Threat of imprisonment for ditching public schools and hospitals sounds pretty sane to me. Those institutions are on their knees already because of questionable regional politics.
And don't take me too seriously about any religious references, sheesh. :)
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
cff said:
Well there are other countries like mine that could at least share some of it, no? Not that we don't have to pay enough in restaurations anyhow.
Really? So why didn't those other countries, like yours, share some of Nazi Germany's debts? Because nobody made them. No government will ever agree to 'inherit' somebody else's debt unless it has no choice. Nazi Germany lost the war, so the post-war Germany had no choice but to agree to the victors' demands.

The link between government bankruptcy and personal bankruptcy: this link is an artificial one, and only exists because socialist governments have stopped backing currencies with precious metals. Money is issued by governments, and has no inherent value whatsoever. A government can print more money any time it wants - whoa, talk about wealth creation :rolleyes:. Of course, in order for this to work, most governments outlaw private currencies, but private companies keep finding new ways to get around these restrictions. For example, VISA and other credit cards are only a very, very short step from a true private currency. If the American government went bankrupt today, most American citizens would not go down with it, because VISA would step in to fill the void.

Neanderthals, communist or capitalist: the idea of "useful" members is a communist one. In capitalism, nobody gives a damn whether you're useful or not - if you're useful, good for you, and if you're not, that's your problem. And people don't give you money to show their appreciation of your usefulness - they give it to you because they want the service you're offering, and they can't get it without paying you. Of course, if they could, they would pay as little as possible (which is why in communism, the truly skilled individual will not get a bigger share of the wealth, unless he goes into politics). Meanwhile, in communism or socialism, there is an obsession with social usefulness. If a person isn't useful (for example, by being unemployed) this is seen as a problem that must be corrected, whether this person wants it or not. That's where forced labour comes in, of course, and that's also where exile or execution come in sooner or later. The reason, perhaps, why euthanasia has become such a hot topic in the past twenty years or so?
As for what you said about civilisation - note that there are NO civilisations out there that would insist on maintaining a hunter-gatherer-like culture (the Soviet Union and Communist China excepted). Such cultures are static - the history of human civilisation is the history of moving AWAY from such cultural systems.

Corporations, result of free capitalism: Not the inevitable result. It's simply a case of ensuring that the legislation does not allow for their creation. Since this doesn't affect capitalism in any way, there's no reason why it shouldn't be done. I won't deny, however, that a capitalist system that's not sufficiently protected by a sufficiently rigid (but minimal) system of laws will sooner or later turn into socialism. It's a sad effect of the benefits of capitalism - sooner or later people start thinking that, now that they are rich, they can afford a bit of socialism. The trick is to ensure that the backbone of the legal system (the constitution) does not allow any legal changes that would reduce the rights of the individual - which, by definition, prevents any socialist reforms.

No, they are a variation of "lets pool our resources to maximize profits" which is a purely capitalist notion.
Going along that logic, you would conclude that socialism is a variation of capitalism, and that's crazy :). No, corporations are definitely socialist entities. "Let's pool our resources to maximise profits" is socialist, not capitalist. A capitalist gets a loan, increasing his capital as well as his risk and his possible profits. A socialist forms a corporation, increasing his capital but reducing both risk and possible profits (Bill Gates may be the richest man alive, but how much richer would he be if he owned Microsoft?).

When does a company become a corporation: when the government grants it the status of a corporation. Because corporations do not exist until a government grants them this status, there is no problem distinguishing a corporation from an ordinary company.

True democracy/true corporation: To take care of people, means above all, to increase their wealth. This goes without saying - even socialist governments tax people not in order to steal their money but in order to use it to increase their wealth (though of course, they fail miserably). The only difference is that a corporation says outright that its goal is money, while a socialist government will conceal this simple truth beneath terms like 'social security funds', 'public healthcare', and so on. A good corporation will make its stockholders richer. A good democracy will do the same. Logically, then, a 'true corporation' = a 'true democracy'. Except that there’s no such thing...

Romania: the irresponsible communist governments around them are in a far better shape. Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in particular are way ahead of the rest (Poland was too, but it got bogged down - not that those others are capitalist, they're just less socialist than us). And Estonia - dear God, an ex-Soviet republic! - is practically an economic miracle on a global scale (because they turned right at the first junction). Even Russia under Putin, has been able to pull out of the abyss by adopting right-wing policies. Today, Russia still owes billions to the west. But if both Russian and European policies remain unchanged, the roles will be reversed pretty soon.
As for motivational problems in Romania, that claim is baseless. Their economic problems, I would suggest, are linked to the fact that unlike their neighbours, they haven't tried adopting any right-wing policies.

Roman Empire: uh, how can Europe (western or otherwise) be at the start of the empire phase, when there is no empire? The EU cannot be compared with the Roman Empire, as it is a completely different kind of entity. I can't quite see who Hannibal and Caesar would have been in this scenario. The parallels just aren't there.

Cycle theory: I do realise that cycle theories aren't entirely useless. But they’re only good as starting points - they are useless by themselves. Essentially, a cycle theory becomes useful when somebody tries to understand why it works in a particular scenario. Like you did with WC - you started off with the cycle not as an answer, but as a question. Interestingly, by the time you reached your own answer, you had found that the question itself was incorrect (because the cycle wasn't as universally applicable as you first thought it was).

So, the value of a cycle theory does not lie in the fact that its assertion that any free society will prosper for a while but eventually grow decadent and turn into a repressed society appears correct. Instead, its value lies in the question this poses - do all free societies follow this pattern? And in the case of the societies that do, why is this the case, and what is the similiarity between them and other societies that do the same?

Until these questions have been posed and answered, however, this cycle theory is not only useless, but dangerous, because it risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. There's a lot of this happening in today's irrational stock market, actually - economical analysts have the amazing ability to make their own predictions come true, because people mistake their predictions for facts (result: "oh, my God, this analyst says Company A's stock will double in value this year, I'd better buy now" ...and up goes Company A's stock value). Another, more disturbing example, is the ‘class struggle’ in Cambodia or Russia. One could suggest, after all, that Pol Pot’s genocide is ultimate proof that the rich are indeed locked in a deadly struggle with the poor.

Taxes and charity: first up, one thing that I should have pointed out in my previous post - you're implying that if I give someone money for reasons other than pure-hearted helpfulness, this is not a real act of charity, and should be condemned - or at least, should not be praised.

Rich people have it pretty bad, really. If I give five dollars to some bum on the street, people will praise me - but if a rich person gives a hundred dollars to the same bum, people will say that the rich guy is greedy and cynical, and undoubtedly only helping the bum because he believes this will help him. There's no reason in this - frankly, it's nothing less than the most disgusting of greed. People simply realise that the rich guy has more money, so even though they should already be thankful, they greedily try to guilt-trip him into giving even more money. There is an unspoken assumption in our society that if someone is rich, he can only be considered a good person if he gives away all of his money to the poor - nothing less that will do. Now, of course, if you want to think like this, that's your problem - but this kind of thinking absolutely must not be enshrined in the law, the way the socialists wish it to be.

As for your Austrian counter-example... a rich person in Austria gives 50% of his income to charity (aka the government), and then faces even more punishment through VAT and other taxes. That's at least 60-70% of his total income, all gone. Why on Earth would such a person be expected to then give MORE money to the poor of his own free will? Consider that this guy, like everyone else, goes to work every day to improve HIS situation and that of his family (yes, rich people have families too! :p). Yet, at the end of the day, he has to sit there in frustration watching the government steal his money and waste it. Forget about the poor? Oh, how he wishes he could!
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Mystery Muppet: the amount of money being spent on this is a secondary issue (although still an important one). What matters is the amount that every individual must pay in taxes. And this amount is incredibly high - in Poland, it can get pretty close to 50% - the highest income tax bracket is 20%, but then you have to add VAT, social security payments, compulsory insurances, etc.. Which, incidentally, is nothing compared to what you, Oh Ever So Free Swedes, must deal with - your highest income tax bracket is a massive 60%, and by the time you add VAT and everything else, the overall taxes would almost certainly surpass 80%. This rate, incidentally, has been rising for many years now, and there's no indication that it will stop rising. If your country doesn't wake up soon, it will end up destroying itself - the people in the highest tax brackets will simply leave and Swedish companies will relocate overseas (as they're already doing), while poor immigrants from overseas will happily relocate to Sweden to exploit what's left of the system. In short, your country is being socialised into non-existence. Hey, if you don't mind this, that's your problem - but don't try to suggest that this is a good example to follow.

Oh, yeah, the IT bubble. This great, huge international disaster of capitalism. Billions of dollars lost irrecoverably. Thousands of jobs gone forever. Whole economies ruined.

Wait, what?

The IT "bubble" created, out of nothing, thousands of jobs in hundreds of new companies. Of these, a great number soon disappeared again - no great loss, since they didn't exist at all before. Many companies went bankrupt - no great loss either, most of them didn't exist before. Billions of dollars were lost... except that they weren't, since money doesn't disappear. Whole economies were ruined... yuh-uh, right ;).

The upshot - the terrible, debilitating capitalist disaster known as the IT bubble left in its wake many new jobs, many powerful new companies (www.amazon.com), and has generated billions in income. Oh, right, and there was a huge number of people who (through either their own incompetence, naivette, or plain old bad luck) didn't get anything out of it, and in some cases even lost a bit of money. Boo hoo, I'm so sad about that. No, not really. Truth be told, I don't give a fuck. You'd have to be a total moron to invest in a new business money that you needed for basic survival without realising that you're taking a risk (of course, if you invested all your money into a business and succeeded, you'd deserve infinite praise for your courage). And as for those who risked a reasonable amount of money and lost it, that's not my problem either, and they don't need my help in any case.

Ah, but what about all those poor, misguided students who studied IT because of the bubble, and then got stuck with a bad degree after it burst? They never existed. The bubble was around very briefly, so anyone who decided to study IT because of it still had many years of study left when it burst - plenty of time to change degrees - while those who graduated with IT degrees at the time of the bubble had chosen an IT degree for entirely different reasons.

The eleventh commandment... huh? If you're gonna go around trying to add more commandments, you should try learning the original ten first. I refer you in particular to the two that deal with NOT stealing and NOT coveting your neighbour's property.
 

cff

Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi
Quarto said:
Really? So why didn't those other countries, like yours, share some of Nazi Germany's debts? Because nobody made them. No government will ever agree to 'inherit' somebody else's debt unless it has no choice. Nazi Germany lost the war, so the post-war Germany had no choice but to agree to the victors' demands.
Its not only debts, but also rights. And it is not like Austria 'won' the war. And as I said it isn't like we didn't have to pay restaurations so we did inherit a debt if you want to call it so.

Quarto said:
For example, VISA and other credit cards are only a very, very short step from a true private currency. If the American government went bankrupt today, most American citizens would not go down with it, because VISA would step in to fill the void.
If the American government went bankrupt today what do you think would happen? The USD would be worthless. Which would take at least 1/3rd of the world down as well. How exactly DOES visa calculate? In USD. You cannot say it won't be affected because it doesn't use physical coins. Also don't forget about the social implications. A country doesn't just say "Hey I am bancrupt - good bye". It will go down in flames. And in that case just like in every war the future of your personal property is really a gamble all along.

Quarto said:
Neanderthals, communist or capitalist: the idea of "useful" members is a communist one. In capitalism, nobody gives a damn whether you're useful or not - if you're useful, good for you, and if you're not, that's your problem.
Indeed it is my problem. If I am a useless Neanderthal I would just have been thrown out of the tribe.

Quarto said:
And people don't give you money to show their appreciation of your usefulness - they give it to you because they want the service you're offering, and they can't get it without paying you.
Well I'd define the usefulness of a person to the society by the value of the service he is offering, no?

Quarto said:
Corporations, result of free capitalism: Not the inevitable result. It's simply a case of ensuring that the legislation does not allow for their creation.
Since this doesn't affect capitalism in any way, there's no reason why it shouldn't be done.
But then it isn't FREE capitalism anymore. Which really was the point of my arguing all along. I need something besides the pure capitalism.
You cannot find this in capitalism ever as it WOULD affect capitalism as it shortenes profits. You don't seem to realize that this is highly uncapitalistic. And you can twist it areound anyway you like - your restriction of capitalism is in the end a socialist tendency in capitalism. You sacrifice money for some greater good.

Quarto said:
I won't deny, however, that a capitalist system that's not sufficiently protected by a sufficiently rigid (but minimal) system of laws will sooner or later turn into socialism.
I'd rather reply any capitalist system that's not sufficiently protected will turn into an authoritan regime. After all it is really far more that power structures a corporation benefits from then any form of socialism (anarchistic left wing would TAKE their money after all).
The problem in our conversation is that you equal socialist and authoritan while I kinda equal Nazi and authoritan. Which results from both our countries experiences.

Quarto said:
No, corporations are definitely socialist entities. "Let's pool our resources to maximise profits" is socialist, not capitalist.
WHAT?! I really think you are starting to completely mix up definitions.

Quarto said:
When does a company become a corporation: when the government grants it the status of a corporation. Because corporations do not exist until a government grants them this status, there is no problem distinguishing a corporation from an ordinary company.
Ok, so what makes the difference in status from company to corporation. Where does the evilness of that status arise from?

Quarto said:
True democracy/true corporation: To take care of people, means above all, to increase their wealth.
No. Quite and simply no.
It means to increase the subjective feel of content of the population. It is a very western and capitalist mindset that equals this to the increasal of wealth. What would make you happier? 1000 bucks or the truely perfect girlfriend? Money isn't everything - this is only the industry trying to lure us into buying unseless stuff so that we think we are happier.

Quarto said:
As for motivational problems in Romania, that claim is baseless. Their economic problems, I would suggest, are linked to the fact that unlike their neighbours, they haven't tried adopting any right-wing policies.
Ah, but the question is WHY. Would you say the fact that they had a 'responsible' communism makes them less likely to adopt economic right principles? Unlikely. It has to do something with the society itself.

Quarto said:
Roman Empire: uh, how can Europe (western or otherwise) be at the start of the empire phase, when there is no empire? The EU cannot be compared with the Roman Empire, as it is a completely different kind of entity. I can't quite see who Hannibal and Caesar would have been in this scenario. The parallels just aren't there.
It might be the EU or it might be what arises after the EU falls. And as I said - cycles don't mean 100% identity in history. To say so would be claiming that humanity doesn't learn.
Would you deny that the west has a similar role then the roman empire in many ways? The have the war power. They are the intellectual leaders.
You rather like to point at a few dissimilarities and thus say they are no similarities. Try it the other way around for a change?

Quarto said:
Like you did with WC - you started off with the cycle not as an answer, but as a question. Interestingly, by the time you reached your own answer, you had found that the question itself was incorrect (because the cycle wasn't as universally applicable as you first thought it was).
But this is the nature of cycles. They will work only for a certain ammount of time. They will fail if the environment unexpectingly and harshly changes. No cycle will last forever.

Quarto said:
So, the value of a cycle theory does not lie in the fact that its assertion that any free society will prosper for a while but eventually grow decadent and turn into a repressed society appears correct. Instead, its value lies in the question this poses - do all free societies follow this pattern? And in the case of the societies that do, why is this the case, and what is the similiarity between them and other societies that do the same?
Well both is interesting. Obviously the more interesting question is the why. But the prediction that your societey will most likely follow the same pattern is useful as well. To know when to flee with your goods.
Similar in my WC example it is interesting as to why the even ones are better. But when going shopping for my next WC the WHY isn't that important for me. I am happy to know of the cycle effects at all and will buy WC2,4 and 6.

Quarto said:
Until these questions have been posed and answered, however, this cycle theory is not only useless, but dangerous, because it risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Of course. In fact I'd bet that many economical cycles heavily suffer from the self-fulfilling prophecy problematic. Which doesn't matter of course. Its still a predictable entity*. It only matters once you want to get rid of a cycle.

*In fact you could argue if a self-fulfilling prophecy isn't part of the cycle and thus an integral part of that particular cycle. And if one is eliminated the cycle will grab for a new one.

Quarto said:
There's a lot of this happening in today's irrational stock market, actually - economical analysts have the amazing ability to make their own predictions come true, because people mistake their predictions for facts (result: "oh, my God, this analyst says Company A's stock will double in value this year, I'd better buy now" ...and up goes Company A's stock value).
Very true. BUT if I want to make a profit on the stock market does it matter to me if he was true in analyzing it or if he did cause the effect in the first place? I know the prediction and can act accordingly. As I said the why (besides being scientifically interesting) is only relevant if you want to break the cycle.

Quarto said:
Taxes and charity: first up, one thing that I should have pointed out in my previous post - you're implying that if I give someone money for reasons other than pure-hearted helpfulness, this is not a real act of charity, and should be condemned - or at least, should not be praised.
No it shouldn't be condemned. But its nothing to brag about either. Its easy to give something that doesn't cost you.

Quarto said:
People simply realise that the rich guy has more money, so even though they should already be thankful, they greedily try to guilt-trip him into giving even more money. There is an unspoken assumption in our society that if someone is rich, he can only be considered a good person if he gives away all of his money to the poor - nothing less that will do.
But then what do you consider to be the more nobel act? If a person on minimum wages gives $10 which will cost him his next meal himself or if Bill Gates gives $1000 which he won't even notice missing?

I'll give a semi unrelated example - penalties. How useful would it be to give Bill Gates a fine of $1000 for speeding? None. Now look at the Finnish model. There fines are in percentage of your income. Now is it fair that the CEO of Nokia pays more for speeding then some people earn the whole year? Nope. Fair it aint. But then would it be a good idea of both of them payed the same? Nope. It only ensures more rights for the rich.

Quarto said:
As for your Austrian counter-example... a rich person in Austria gives 50% of his income to charity (aka the government), and then faces even more punishment through VAT and other taxes. That's at least 60-70% of his total income, all gone. Why on Earth would such a person be expected to then give MORE money to the poor of his own free will?
You did read my example right? I was not complaining that we don't give enough. I SAID we give the MOST of at least Europe in relation to population. So DESPITE the high taxes this doesn't stop people form donating. And as I also said - these aren't companies that can use it as tax deductions.
 
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