Tag Archives: Poverty

Wise Sloth Video List: Predatory Capitalism

This list comes from my essays on economics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these other video lists:

 

 


Sustainable Monasteries Could Solve Poverty, Pollution, And Refugee Crises

The most popular Youtube vlogger is Pewdiepie, a Swedish man-child who posts videos about playing video games and acting silly in his computer room. Pewdiepie currently posts about one blog each weak, which means, in the time between each of his posts, at least 1,900 civilians died horrible war-related deaths somewhere in the world, and that’s a very conservative estimate.

List of war-related deaths by country. At the top are Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria

The civilians who survive these conflicts are only technically lucky. Over 22 million people are living in foreign countries right now because they’ve had to flee the apocalyptic death, destruction and destitution in their birth-land. That’s not counting the 65 million people who have fled their homes but haven’t left their country. This means there are about 100 million people who are homeless because they would die if they went home.

There are 65 million forcibly displace people worldwide including refugees, homeless, and stateless people

That number doesn’t count the 100 million people in the world who are just old-fashioned homeless, or the 1.3 billion people who have homes and jobs but are working themselves to death while starving in a shit-covered tin hut with no water, electricity or sanitation.

In conflict zones, it’s hard to get real numbers how many people are suffering, but we know that over 3 billion people live on under $2.50 per day. These statistics don’t highlight a few isolated travesties. Almost half the population of the world lives in extreme poverty, and there are still several billion more who make more than $2.50 per day and live below the poverty level.

Basically, if you have running water, air conditioning, heat, a bed, pornography and an education, you’re one of the most privileged people in the entire world. Drop to your knees and thank God if the worst problem in your life is that nobody loves you.

If you factor in all the money countries and nongovernment agencies spend on humanitarian aid each year, the cost easily eclipses $100 billion dollars each year. The world could afford to spend more money to fight poverty, but it spends over $2 trillion on the militaries which are displacing people. So taxpayers are spending more money on creating humanitarian crises than solving them.

We already spend trillions of dollars every year on infrastructure that is supposed to help people live functionally, but it hasn’t solved the problem because it addresses the problem in a roundabout way that creates more problems than it solves. All the roads, plumbing, and power lines haven’t saved the poor in Detroit or any other major city in the world.

This makes the problem seem unsolvable, but the solution is really very simple. All people need to be happy and healthy are food, clothing, shelter, water, electricity, jobs, transportation and access to markets. If you built a ring-shaped apartment complex with 100 million condos and offices, then dug a man-made river encircling the entire building and used that to water gardens and orchards, you could give the people living there agriculture jobs and a never-ending supply of food and water.

With those problems solved, some workers could specialize in other jobs, which they could reach by walking across the hallway in their apartment complex. Every business would be connected by one road that would never get congested. The bigger you make the diameter of the circular building, the more external markets it would have access to.

Basically, the complex would operate like a secular monastery the size of a major city. You could also think of it as a permanent, self-sustaining refugee camp. As long as the residents don’t have to pay rent, receive an equitable percentage of the profits their work produces, and aren’t overcharged for the goods and services the monastery sells, then everyone will always have everything they need, and nobody would live in destitution or fear thereof.

How would you pay for such a mega project, and who would build it?  It costs about $120 per square foot to build a traditional house, but if you built the refugee camp/monastery using earthbags, you could bring the construction cost down as low as $10 per square foot. Since all that dirt will need to be dug up anyway, you can use the dirt from digging the reservoir/water channel/moat around the complex.

It would take thousands, if not millions of people to build a structure the length of a small country, but earthbag construction is relatively simple. You could simply have the 100 million refugees do the work and then move into the home they built when they’re done. Then they would have a sense of ownership, pride and shared identity with their fellow coworkers/neighbors.

The richest 1,400 people in the world have $5.4 trillion dollars just sitting in their bank accounts, not doing anything. If each apartment unit in the earthbag megastructure is 500 square feet and costs $10 per square foot, you could build 1 billion, eighty-five million units with $5.4 trillion. This figure doesn’t take all the building costs into account, but to put this in perspective, it costs $1 billion per mile to dig an underground tunnel to reduce traffic congestion. You could build a mile of earthbag apartments with a road, gardens, utilities and an aqueduct for far less than $1 billion per mile, especially if you built it in the middle of Africa, Russia or China where property values are low.

We have the money to end extreme poverty in less than five years. We just need to stop spending it on constructing and repairing inefficient cities full of economic dead zones, and build a mega-home that fills all its residents’ basic needs.

The picture below has the aquifer in the center of the building instead of a moat around it, but it still illustrates my proposal.

1. Buy a field. 2. Build a circular sandbag monastery. 3. Build greenhouses. 4. Work and expand. 5. Replace suburbs and refugee camps with sustainable eco-ring monasteries

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Talk About Saving the World
Be Better People
 Build a Better World
Buy a Better World

7 Economic Injustices We All Accept

1: High prices

Everything costs as much as possible. When you see a sign in a store that says, “50% off,” what it really means is “Fuck you 50% less than normal.” Extortion is the norm. It’s half the reason the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poor. It maximizes profits for the rich and minimizes what the poor can afford. High prices are cruel. High prices kill people. High prices create misery. Yet, most of the world’s business owners have decided independently to set prices as high as possible so they can live opulently. Business owners wouldn’t do that if people were more important to them than paper.

 

2: Low wages

Business owners know how big their paycheck is, and they know how small their workers’ paychecks are. Business owners know they couldn’t get their big paycheck without all their employees working their asses off day in and day out for barely enough money to survive. That’s cruel, but it’s the norm.

 

3: Advertising

Businesses spend a lot of time and money trying to manipulate customers into buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have for reasons that aren’t important. Advertisements warp people’s perception of reality and make them act in their own disinterest. That’s cruel, but that’s the norm.

 

4: Subjugation of customer service workers

When an advertisement convinces you to go to a business and spend money on a product or service, you’re going to be greeted by a customer service representative who will be wearing a monkey uniform. You can yell at that person. You can treat that person like shit, and they’ll have to stand there and take it and smile and act like this is the best day of their life and you’re the best person in the world. Their boss will fire them if they stand up for themselves, and they have to take abuse from their boss too. And their boss will yell at them if they don’t work as hard as possible for longer than is healthy. So their lives just suck on every level every day they go to work. That’s the norm. That’s insane. Our society really doesn’t value people.

 

5: Acceptance of sweatshop workers

Most of the stuff you own was made by slaves in sweatshops. Most of the food you eat passed through a slave’s hands at some point between the fields and your kitchen. We know this. We know our iPods were made by people who live in dormitories with suicide nets outside the windows. If you knew that one of our family members had been kidnapped and was being forced to live in those conditions you’d make it your life’s mission to free them, but we don’t feel more than a slight twinge of guilt over it happening to the people it’s actually happening to. If all people are equal then we should be equally concerned for everyone.

 

6: Unequal rights

We take it for granted that women don’t have the right to take their shirts off where men can. We accept that gays can’t get married where straights can. We get offended at the idea of people from another part of the world moving to the part of the world we live in because we take it for granted that they don’t have the right to move. We accept that soldiers and prisoners have had almost all of their rights stripped away. We make excuses to justify these lapses of equality.

 

7: War

War is hell on earth. It’s the worst thing that can happen, and it’s never necessary, but there are lots of wars going on right now, and they’re going to keep going on, and after they end new wars will take their place. Hell is here to stay, and we don’t care. We don’t even care enough to pay attention to which wars are going on or why. We go further out of our way to find out about the latest blockbuster movie coming out, and we’re more emotionally involved in Hollywood stories than stories of people living in war zones. Where do we draw the line?

How bad of an atrocity has to happen before the world puts its foot down if we won’t draw the line at unjust wars? Based on the precedents we’ve set, we clearly don’t value our fellow-man enough to ever draw the line. If we don’t value our fellow-man then we must not understand why our fellow-man is important.

People are important. Every one of us is an animate, sentient, autonomous cosmic supercomputer. We’re the rarest, valuable and most powerful thing in the universe. Any one of us is worth all the money in the universe.

Being the rarest thing in the universe, we have the rarest opportunity to explore and experience the majesty of the inanimate, unconscious and yet uncannily elegant universe we’ve found ourselves in. There are wonders to behold, and we could have them all. We’ve got about seven billion animate, sentient, autonomous cosmic supercomputers we could use to design and create an interstellar chain of utopian planets. But we’re not doing that. We’re forcing them to assemble cheap junk in sweatshops that customers are going to be manipulated into paying too much for.

Not only are we throwing away the future’s potential but we’re throwing away the present as well. When you’re on your death bed the thing you’re going to remember fondest in life is your friends. Everyone you meet is a potential friend whose wonder you can bask in right now. Everyone is has a beautiful universe in their mind, and even if you don’t like someone, there’s someone who loves them because beneath their faults they’re worth loving. Everyone brings beauty into this world, but that beauty is minimized when you’re worked to death at a job that treats you like crap. That takes a diamond and turns it into coal.

It might seem like a lot to ask everyone to value everyone regardless of how different we are, but you shouldn’t have to be guilt-tripped into doing it, because we’re all family, and you don’t have to be guilt tripped into helping your family. No matter how different we are, we’re still human; we’re not just on the same team, we’re on the only team. We’re all we’ve got.

Every one of us count. We should value each other and treat each other accordingly. When we treat people badly we should be reminded how important we are so we don’t waste the opportunity to live, grow and experience the majesty of existence to the fullest extent possible, together.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

7 Reasons Why Minimum Wage Should Be Higher

Cartoon of a man standing on a huge pile of cash shouting, "Your greed is hurting the economy!" next to a poor person holding up a sign that says, "Raise the minimum wage."

1. It requires specialized skills/attributes

One way high wage earners justify their pay is by saying that not everybody could do their job. So since their skill is so rare then they deserve to be paid more. This point of view overlooks the fact that not everybody can do hard labor  If you took the CEO of a big restaurant chain and made them work in one of their restaurants’ kitchens for three months they’d all fail. Even out of the general public, there’s a significant percentage of people who don’t have the strength or patience to do the jobs minimum wage earners do.

Go ask any kitchen staff, road crew, farm crew, or retail worker about people they’ve seen work at their job for a week and then burn out from exhaustion or didn’t have the mental fortitude to do their jobs. Those who pass the test will always be able to look each other in the eye and know they had the metal to make it while so many others didn’t. But even though minimum wage earners have attributes and skills just as rare any upper-middle-class job. Their paychecks don’t reflect this.

 

2. Compensation for pace

Think of an office romance drama series like Mad Men, Suits or The Office. Imagine if the characters ran as fast as they could everywhere they went, and where ever they went they were always very busy with their hands, and they were always racing the clock while pacing themselves so they could last the day.  And somebody was always yelling at them and threatening them. It would be funny if it wasn’t true.

The longer and faster you have to work the more you have to commit your total life’s attention on what you’re doing. Some people have slow-paced jobs where they can daydream all day, call their friends and family and take long lunches while getting paid very, very well. A lawyer would charge you more for his services if he had to devote his total attention to your case and work as hard as he could none stop for three months straight. But field hands, cooks at chain restaurants, and warehouse staff don’t get paid any extra for how totally they have to devote themselves to their jobs.

 

3. Compensation for inevitable injuries

If you do anything as fast as you can for nine hours a day for a lifetime you’re going to hurt yourself. Just lifting files or typing will give you crippling hand aches in old age. Lifting heavy bags and boxes will take its toll immediately. When you do minimum wage it’s not a matter of if you’ll develop some kind of health problem, it’s a matter of which one you’ll get. And since millions of minimum wage jobs involve handling poisonous material, a lot of people are guaranteed to die from work-related illnesses.

It’s bad enough that people are dying from work-related injuries, but they’re suffering here and now in very real, very graphic ways. Any fry cook can tell you a few stories about burns and cuts they’ve seen kitchen staff get. There are millions of people in the world who have stitch marks on their bodies from on the job injuries they got while working for minimum wage, but they don’t get any compensation. Their employers don’t even offer them health care. If you asked the employer why, they would probably tell you that the accident was the employee’s fault. Even if that were true, these injuries are statistical inevitabilities. If you put 90 million human beings in kitchens around the world working as fast as they can all day for three months cooking over hot stoves, slinging boiling liquids and chopping things with sharp knives, you’re going to end up with millions of injuries. You can repeat the experiment as many times as you want, there will always be injuries. So going to work is like playing the lottery. You might be one of the unlucky ones who fate has doomed. And when that inevitable day comes for some man, woman or child, their employer will probably find some valid excuse for why they don’t have help the person who won the doom lottery inherent in minimum wage work.

 

4. Compensation for degradation of off-duty time

A lawyer would charge you a premium if he had to work all day every day as fast as he can for three months. A lawyer would probably raise that fee after a week after he realizes that working that hard and that long doesn’t leave you any energy to enjoy your free time after work, and in fact, he was probably spending all his evenings just trying to recuperate from the day’s work while prepping himself for another day of marathon work tomorrow. I’m sure a lawyer could write a fantastic explanation of why they should be compensated extra if their professional work degrades the quality of their personal time. So far no lawyer has done minimum wage workers the favor of writing an explanation of why they deserve extra compensation for not being able to fully enjoy their free time.

If a lawyer worked as fast as possible for three months he could pamper himself all along the way with good meals, healthy snacks, massages and a big vacation at the end. Minimum wage earners can’t afford any of that. They don’t get to stop at cafes on the way to work. They have a hard time getting sick days, let alone vacation days. And for them, it’s not just three months. It’s their fate in life. That’s why poor people drink and smoke so much. Their life is fucked. There’s no hope for them. In hopeless times humans tend to turn to religion or hedonism for relief. If minimum wage earners got paid more I predict you would see a decrease in religion and hedonism. Think about that. Minimum wage jobs are so miserable they force people to turn to God or slow, euphoric suicide to cope. That’s morally fucked up. That’s an atrocity. That’s the kind of thing that generations from now, our descendants will look back on us and say, “Damn, that generation was stupid and backward. I’m sure glad we’re not that shamefully stupid and cruel now.” So how about we not be that stupid and cruel now? How about we compensate minimum wage earners for losing their personal lives. Better yet, let’s not take away their personal lives to begin with.

 

5. Compensation for humiliation

Some lawyers get to pick and choose their clients and their price. If a prospective client insults the lawyer or is obviously going to be a pain in the ass to deal with, the lawyer could charge the client extra to make it worth his time. Minimum wage earners get yelled at constantly by bosses and customers. Everyone is allowed to tear them down and use them as punching bags, and the minimum wage earner has to just stand there, wearing a demeaning company uniform and endure emotional and sometimes physical abuse from the people they have to spend almost every day of their life with.

There’s been a lot of research done on the topic of classical conditioning and bullying. If you insult someone and humiliate them every day, they’re going suffer. It’s immoral to do that to somebody. It’s downright sadistic to do that to somebody and then tell them that they have to come back every day for the foreseeable future and endure the same emotional abuse while smiling and pretending like it’s the happiest day of their life, and if they can’t maintain constant perfect bearing they’ll be thrown out into the streets to starve and die in the rain. That’s as messed up as the plot to The Human Centipede 2. If you’re going to have to spend your life eating other people’s shit you should get some kind of compensation for that. Better yet, maybe we should stop sewing retail employee’s mouths to the customer’s asses or giving bosses god-like authority to bully employees.

 

 6. Compensation for investment of labor

You can’t build a company with capital. Investors who provide employers with start-up capital expect a return on their investment, and everyone agrees that this is entirely reasonable. However, you can’t build a company without labor either, and the workers who invest the irreplaceable seconds of their lives at work don’t get dividends. They just get the lowest paycheck legally allowable and a kick in the ass the day they quit, get fired, their contract ends, the company goes bankrupt or gets bought out.

If you invest a few thousand dollars in a company at the right time you can get millions of dollars in return. You can invest a few thousand hours of your life in a company, and you won’t even get a thank you card. You have to be a complete sociopath to think that’s okay.

 

7. It’s the decent thing to do

Why should we pay minimum wage workers more? Because it’s the decent thing to do. That’s why. That’s all that should have to be said. Everybody knows it would make minimum wage workers’ lives better if they worked shorter hours and were paid a higher percentage of company profits. It would make people happier, and we would live in a happier society. That’s what the world is supposed to be like. Are we not good people? At least, don’t we want to be good people? Well… let’s be good to the people holding up the pillars of our economy.

Even if you’re a complete sociopath who doesn’t care about anybody else but yourself and you look at the world through a cold, calculating perspective, you should still want to raise the minimum wage, because the empirical cost/benefit analysis of economic oppression didn’t add up.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

What America’s Class And Tax Systems Really Look Like

A friend sent me a Youtube video and asked for my opinion on it. I had so much to say about it that I wrote a blog about it. The video argues that America’s progressive tax system rewards the lazy and punishes the rich. If you don’t want to watch the five-minute video, I’ve summarized it in a one-page comic below.

 

 

The lowest class is lazy and ungrateful. The Middle class is doing the bare minimum, and the upper class works constantly and is happy.

 

In case the message in the video isn’t clear, the producers at PragerU.com made at least two more, Do The Rich Pay Their Fair Share? and The War on Work, reiterating the point: Poor people just aren’t trying hard enough, and rich people are hard workers who have to feed the leeches. PragerU probably isn’t run by capitalist conspirators who are knowingly creating misleading propaganda to placate the masses into accepting a life of indignity, fear, and toil. There are millions of other Americans who have the same perception of reality and want to spread the truth as they see it.

Recently a story went viral after a twenty-six-year-old woman lost her job for writing a blog called, “An Open Letter To My CEO” about how little money she made and how hard it was/is to survive. Then a twenty-nine-year-old wrote a response that went viral. She basically told the first girl to suck it up, work harder and stop expecting handouts. She’d probably tell me the same thing if she read the open letter to my CEO I wrote five years ago.

Nobody wants to give handouts to lazy people who don’t want to work. Saying that poor people are just poor because they’re not working hard enough is a warped perception of reality at best and a straw man argument at worst. Below is a comic that more accurately reflects America’s class and tax system:

 

Comic about the upper class exploiting everyone else

 

The poor are not America’s enemy, they’re its victims. The ultra-rich aren’t heroes. They’re the creators and sustainers of economic oppression. They’re going to continue to make economic inequality worse as long as they have all the money and thus all the power, and they’re going to hold onto their money and power as long as Americans justify and glorify their own slavery.

The economic revolution America needs has to happen in the minds of Americans. They need to understand how the economy is stacked against them and start pointing fingers at the real source of the problem.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

Billionaires Won’t Save You, And Socialism Won’t Kill You

In 2010 I wrote an essay titled, “The fundamental problem with the economy,” in which I argue poverty exists because most business owners pay their employees the lowest wages possible while charging their customers the highest prices for the cheapest-made products, and I suggest that business owners could eradicate poverty by paying equitable wages and fair prices. A few days ago, one of my readers left the following comment and video in response to that blog:

 

“We can start by having the biggest US companies follow your example; like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, Microsoft, Exxon-Mobile, Chase, Wells-Fargo and Berkshire Hathaway. You think they would do it? Most of the giant corporations are run by liberal-leaning CEOs.

Look at Venezuela, they have Socialism and the governments seized too many companies and they’re not producing enough food to feed people. People are going hungry and babies are not getting their milk. What is your analysis on the Venezuelan condition? You should do a blog on it.”

 

 

CEOs could end poverty tomorrow if they all collectively agreed to pay their workers a fair share of profits and charge customers fair prices, but small-to-medium-sized business owners can’t do that. As long as most businesses charge extortion prices, they force each other to pass on their operating costs to their workers and customers to keep up with the price of doing business in a cut-throat economy.

Every Fortune 500 company could afford to lower their profit margins, but they don’t, not because it would hurt their business’s chance of survival, but because the owners and investors wouldn’t be able to horde as much money for themselves.

If Microsoft and Berkshire and Hathaway needed every penny of their profits to operate, then Bill Gates and Warren Buffet wouldn’t have been able to pocket billions of dollars in profit. So the price of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway’s products and services aren’t based on necessity. They’re based on two factors:

1: How badly Gates and Buffet want to stockpile money they’ll never spend

2: How little Gates and Buffet care about their workers and customers’ quality of life

This makes them either the most evil or delusional people in the world. They may talk progressive and give fractions of their fortunes back to the poor through charities, but they’re still driving the train of economic inequality full speed ahead. Even billionaire, George Soros, who American conservatives hate for sponsoring Democratic politicians, is still raping the lower classes to feed his insatiable bank account. Today’s billionaires are the modern-day version of feudal lords or colonial slave plantation owners. No matter how neat their ideas are, or how many pet charities they support, they’re still the reason poor people’s lives are a living hell.

Take a minute and let the gravity of this sink in. Generations of our ancestors wasted their lives, working themselves to death at jobs that treated and paid them like they’re less than human. They spent their lives working against their will, doing things that had no personal meaning to them and only kept going to work out of fear. Fulfilling their boss’s contrived responsibility robbed them of the time they had to fulfill their potential and give their lives meaning.

This is why economic theories like Socialism and Communism were invented, because business owners have been literally and existentially killing their workers and customers for all of human history, and they still are.

The poor need a new economic system more than the rich need more expensive luxuries, but America is the world’s dominating superpower, and the majority of America’s population identifies as pro-Christian, conservative and Capitalist. Most Americans couldn’t tell you what Communism or Socialism are, but they know they’re evil and, every country that has tried them has failed, which proves (to them) Capitalism is the best economic system.

America can’t change until it can have a sane national dialogue about economics. It can’t do that as long as the majority of Americans believe anything divergent from Capitalism is evil. To that end, they need to learn it doesn’t make any sense to demonize Communism and Socialism for at least four reasons:

 

1: None of the countries that called themselves Communist or Socialist were what they claimed to be.

Immediately after Lenin seized power in the Soviet Union, his countrymen raised an army and went to civil war with him because he didn’t implement Communism. He implemented a fascist dictatorship with some poorly implemented aspects of Communism. When his followers pointed this out, he justified this by basically saying, “Yeah, I know it’s not really Communism, but that’s a goal we have to work towards, and these are desperate times. So what we’re doing right now is ‘War Communism,” which will be replaced by real Communism when things settle down a bit.” But instead, he reinstated a limited amount of Capitalism and turned a blind eye to black market Capitalism.

 

 

After Lenin died, Stalin took Lenin’s fascist leadership style to the next level, and in less than one hundred years, corruption and greed imploded the U.S.S.R. before anything resembling Marx’s Communism could be implemented.

China’s ruling party calls itself Communist, but the country is run by billionaires and is full of sweatshops. The definition of “Communism” is, “a political theory advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.”

The definition of “sweatshop” is, “a factory or workshop, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages for long hours and under poor conditions.” Billionaires, sweatshops and iron-fisted authority are all antithetical to Communism.

If you were to study any Communist country without knowing it was Communist, and then tried to identify what kind of government it has, you’d probably guess fascism every time. That doesn’t mean Communism is fascist. It means fascist leaders use doublespeak.

I’m not saying Communism is better than Capitalism or that it should be tried again. I’m just pointing out that claiming Capitalism is the best system in the world because Communism failed, is like saying Coke is better than Pepsi because Faygo is disgusting, and Juggalos are crazy.

 

 

2: America has made efforts to destabilize every country that has ever called itself Communist or Socialist.

 

A long quote by Will Blum from "Killing Hope," which says every non-capitalist country has been sabotaged by capitalist ones.

 

The Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis were campaigns in the war between Capitalism and Communism. America orchestrated dozens of coups and bloody revolutions in its war against alternative economic models. So the argument that Capitalism is the best economic model because every Communist and Socialist experiment has failed, is like saying your Nike shoes are better than someone else’s Adidas shoes because you won a race against them after shooting them in the face.

 

3: Socialism is a blanket term for a wide range of nuanced economic models.

Socialism is defined, “a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production, as well as the political theories, and movements associated with them. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective, or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. Social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms.”

Ultimately, Socialism means employees share ownership and profits of the company they work for. This means co-op grocery stores are the smallest example of Socialism, but you can scale the concept up and mix and match it with different government styles. Just look at Wikipedia’s list of different flavors of Socialism.

 

Saying Socialism doesn’t work because Venezuelans are hungry is like saying it’s impossible to raise dogs as pets because you know somebody who tried to raise a wolf and it ate their children. Even if Chavezism is a legitimate example of one type of Socialism, the argument that Socialism doesn’t work because Venezuela is collapsing, would still be tantamount to saying fishing is a failed method to get food because people have been injured fishing with dynamite. Just because dynamite fishing is crazy, that doesn’t prove hunting is the only way to get food.

 

 

Technically, those metaphors don’t apply to Venezuela anyway, because Venezuela is arguably no more Socialist than China is Communist. Hugo Chavez nationalized a few industries in Venezuela, but he didn’t nationalize every business. So the economy was still predominantly Capitalist.

In theory, the companies he nationalized became the property of the state, and since the state belongs to the people, therefore those companies belong to the people. However, the people didn’t get an equitable share of the profits. A lot of it was stolen by corrupt politicians, and the rest went to subsidizing prices and giving away free stuff.

Plus, the workers didn’t have any control over the companies, and even though Chavez was democratically elected, the policies he implemented and enforced, were his own creation, not the will of the people. When civilians protested him, he ordered police to shoot them in the streets.

If Socialism equals social ownership of businesses, then what happened in Venezuela wasn’t Socialism. It was just fascism, corruption and inefficient bureaucracy failing to fix the problems of a predominantly Capitalist economy.

 

4: Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism aren’t the only possible economic models.

Communism is one man’s theory on how to fix a country that doesn’t exist anymore. Socialism and Capitalism are both spectrums of ideas. The flavor of Capitalism used in America can be more accurately described as “Predatory Capitalism” than “Free Market Capitalism.”

Capitalism is defined, “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.”

Ask anyone who works for a co-op, they’ll attest private ownership of business isn’t inherently evil. Capitalism only becomes predatory when business owners squeeze the life out of the people they’re meant to serve. So claiming Capitalism is evil because America has apocalyptic levels of economic inequality, is like saying nobody should eat cake because your dad owns a poison cake business.

The easiest solution to economic inequality is for business owners to treat their workers and customers as they would want to be treated. Barring that, there are a million other economic models we could design using concepts taken from Communism, Socialism, Capitalism and new ideas we haven’t thought of yet.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

The Letter I’ll Never Send My CEO

Dear Daniel,

You must be very proud of your company. You started it on your own and took it from a garage-sized operation to an award-winning and internationally known brand. Few people in the world ever achieve that much success. Equally impressive is the fact that success doesn’t seem to have gone to your head. The few times anyone has asked me what you’re like I told them you’re a down-to-earth kind of guy, a little shy even. I told them you’re always smiling and friendly and that I can’t even imagine what you’d be like when you’re angry because that would just be so out of character for you. It’s unusual for someone as gentle as you to make it so far in the dog-eat-dog, cut-throat world of business. You should be proud.

I sometimes wonder if you ever imagined your company would grow this large when you first started out. If so, I wonder how you envisioned your company would look. I wonder if you imagined it being a progressive, Utopian(ish) workplace like Google where your employees would almost rather be at work than at home. You certainly seem to be trying to take it in that direction, what with the idealistic company values printed on the giant poster in the front office, the lack of dress code, the free milk and coffee and fruit and the occasional company-sponsored fun-night. Some workers even get a dollar an hour bonus for meeting their “key performance indicators.” I know some of the executives get bonuses for reaching their targets, and their bonuses are so big that nobody ever talks about them. You’ve also set a sales goal, that if we meet, the company will divide up one million dollars between all the employees. We both know you’ve been far more generous with perks than most companies.

I wonder if this is how you envisioned the future of your company when you first started out. I also wonder if sometimes you look down from your corner office and think, “You guys are all suckers. I can’t believe you’re doing this. Thank God I’m not as naive as you.” Let’s be honest for a minute and spell out the math, so to speak. I know this must have crossed your mind before.

You pay your workers as little as possible within the context of the law and supply and demand. Some of us get fifty cents or a dollar fifty over minimum wage, but let’s be honest. If the minimum wage were six dollars you’d be bragging about how you pay some of your workers seven dollars an hour. If the minimum wage were four dollars you’d be bragging about how you pay some of your workers five dollars.

In addition to paying your workers as little as possible to maximize the profits you get to take home you work us as long as the law will allow. You also exploit the loophole that as long as overtime isn’t mandatory you don’t have to pay over time, and despite the fact that we do intense mental and physical work for you, we’re expected to keep up the highest pace humanly possible the entire time, every day. And you guarantee that we’ll exhaust ourselves to that limit by designing the computers we use to monitor, record and report everything we do. So even if our boss doesn’t see us resting the system will show it. If there’s any doubt that we’re pushing ourselves to the limit (which there’s not) you can always play back the video footage from the dozen cameras that keep a constant watchful eye on us.

Even though nobody counts the way you spend every minute of your day and you can take as long of a lunch break as you want and take time off whenever you want I know you’re a busy man. So I’ll get straight to the point. I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that your business model is based on exploiting wage slaves, which is just a fancy way of saying, “slavery.” I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that every dollar you put in your pocket was earned by us, and every dollar you spend on luxury is a dollar we can’t spend on necessity. I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that every day we come to work we’re fighting against your “key performance indicators” for survival. I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that the key performance indicators are based on the best worker working at their best speed and doesn’t take into consideration all the little tasks we have to do every day like tidying up, looking for a pen, changing stations, finding a computer that works, waiting for the constant little lags in the system caused by the tragically designed infrastructure, restocking supplies, tying our shoes, going to the bathroom and so on. So in order to reach the ninety-five percent productivity rate that’s expected of us we actually have to work all day at a one hundred to one hundred and ten percent productivity rate.

Granted, all the stress would be worth it to us if we meet that sales target and get that one million dollars… except everyone in the company knows it would take fifty miracles to make that happen. That bar was set low enough to (theoretically) motivate us but high enough that there was never any risk of you having to pay up. So all that “incentive” has accomplished is sending a clear message to everyone who works for you that we’ve made you enough money that you can afford to give away a million dollars but you’re not willing to share that wealth with us. In fact, you’re willing to insult our intelligence and lie to us to try to squeeze as much sweat and irreplaceable time out of our fleeting lives as you can so you can convert it into cash in your pocket to squander on more luxuries for you and your family.

This is why your best workers leave. This is why you have so many immigrants and potheads working for you, because they’re the only ones desperate enough to endure the working conditions you’ve created.

I often wonder if this is how you imagined you’d build your fortune when you started your company. I wonder if you dreamed of wasting the best years of people’s lives slaving away for you for barely enough money to survive. I wonder if you even realize you’re doing it and if you’ve excused it all away by telling yourself things like, “That’s business.” or “If you don’t like it you can get another job.” or “I have to do this to stay competitive.”

I wonder how much thought you’ve put into the value of human life, and by that, I don’t just mean how much one person’s life is worth but how much each minute in a person’s life is worth. Is a minute in one person’s life worth more or less than a minute in another person’s life? If you had to spend five years working in the conditions you’ve created for the pay you allow, would you consider those five years fully lived? If your children had to work in the conditions you’ve created for the pay you allow would you feel like they fully lived their lives? If the answer to either of those questions is “no” then why would you demean and rob other people’s lives that way? Is there really any excuse big enough to justify wasting an equal human being’s potential for money?

Why is it that if you cut a person’s life short it’s called murder but when you cut the best years of their life out in the middle it’s a justified business expense? You might think these questions are overdramatic, but if you play back the video of your workers and you see the dead-eyed, stressed out expressions they wear on their faces all day when your back is turned you’ll realize I’m not exaggerating when I say that the reality is, you’re killing us little by little every day.

I’m positive this isn’t what you envisioned when you started your business, and I’m positive that you’re either completely ignorant of what you’ve become or you’ve made enough short-sighted excuses to justify your actions to yourself, and I’m positive you’ll never realize the true cost your success has come at to the people who run your company. I regret that I’ll never be able to send this letter to you because you’ll fire me, and I need this job because slavery is better than starvation. So I’ll work for you as long as I have to until I’ve saved enough of the crumbs you’ve let fall from your plate and I can start my own business that treats the people I work with as equal human beings fully deserving of equal respect and profits. I, and everyone who has ever worked for you, will always remember you with sadness and regret.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Predatory Capitalism Creates Poverty
Socialism and Communism
The Life of the Rich
The Life of the Poor
Oppression in the Workplace
Success and Retirement
The Housing Market
Healthcare in America
The Stock Market
Banks
Taxes
Cryptocurrency
Fixing the Economy
My Tweets About Economics

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