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anti-capitalism hostility

 
gardener
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It seemed as if we were beginning to combine economics with government. I apologize if my responses to posts allowed us to get off track.

But back to Paul's fish farming and if he deserved compensation for his efforts. I wholeheartedly agree that he should, hard work deserves compensation.
But now we get to what part of Paul's hard work or anyones should the government tax or tithe to promote social and infrastructure costs?
 
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There will always be good vs. evil. Saying that ideology A should be critically modified or abolished because of the existence of evil is like saying life is bad because living people have the capability to do evil. Should we critically modify or abolish life because of the existence of evil? Of course not. Why then would we need to change our ideology on the basis of the existence of evil? Since it is the evil and not the ideology that is the problem, why is the ideology the part under attack? Evil exists everywhere, not at the fault of any ideology. An ideology's job is not to control good and evil. Ideologies are a way for us to comprehend our environment in order to set up a path into the future. Why then do people see evil and then desire to bring down everything around?
 
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I deleted the stuff that I thought was harshing the smooth.  I don't think anybody intentionally harshed the smooth - they just got a little passionate about .... stuff ....

So now I'm feeling like what's left is smooth stuff. 

I like to see folks having a pleasant visit about such an interesting topic.  Let's just keep it a bit zen and I think we'll all be happy.

Back to the topic:

Earlier today I had a thought:  a fool and his money are soon parted.  Since money really is power, then the fools have an awesome party and then they have no power.  I feel a bit mixed about it:  on the one hand, it's probably good that fools don't have power over me.  On the other hand, fools do throw good parties. 

It seems that the folks that do get most of the money are either the people that are smart and work really hard, or the wicked people. 


 
Robert Ray
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The fool got you to the party Paul....maybe they do have power over you.  At least they had fun while it lasted.
 
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I think that the money and power at least generally goes to those who put some honest effort into life in a capitalist system. in a socialist system it seem more likely to reward only those who are willing to lie and cheat and who seek power for less than ideal reasons.

I would soo much rather someone like paul make big bucks on fish farming, dominate the market, and almost preclude any other choice for fish purchases to the general public...rather than that money fill the pockets of someone through bribery, extortion and political position while paul slaves away raising fish and never gets to swing in his hammock.

there are going to be flaws and greed and people who fall through the cracks in any situation. its really about picking the lesser of two evils, just as in many complicated social and political questions. 

ideals are not always helpful. ideally no one would get preventable disease, everyone would get top notch healthcare, no one would be poor, no would would get the short end of the stick through luck over and over or through birth, everyone would only desire the basic needs in life and those needs would be filled. but that is not achievable due to basic human nature.

our ancestors survived and reproduced based on how well they could aquire resources. that inherent need and desire to aquire resources is in most everyone. it is also human nature to covet those who have more than you. but thats ok. its like a carrot on a stick that keeps people going. remove the carrot.......and what incentive is there? 
 
jeremiah bailey
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Or worse yet, move the carrot into the unemployment and welfare lines. In my workplace, I see many people constantly trying to find a way out of work and still get paid. They don't care to improve their station in life. They just want the paycheck. This isn't to be confused with a hammock plan. Their plan is to draw a paycheck while not working. The hammock plan is to draw in as many paychecks as possible by working in order to save enough to get through a period of relaxing.
 
steward
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I think there are two extremes that hurt capitalism, but sometimes one is encouraged. Perhaps both are encouraged, just depends which group you are with.

One extreme is the person who wants to be carried so they can party all the time (or whatever they want to do) They don't care if they take more than they contribute. These are your hammock folk. (by the way, I love hammocks but I never seem to have enough time for one  )

The other extreme is a person who works very hard and is very smart and takes out of the system much more than they have coming to them. I am thinking of CEOs who gift themselves salaries in the millions of dollars. The assumption is that whatever you can negotiate, you should get. The problem is they stack the deck with cronies on the boards.

For capitalism to work, you can't have anyone taking out more than they produce. This means the lazy worker has to work, and the hard worker can't be over compensated. Either one is bleeding the system. It is obvious that the non-productive worker is doing so, but less obvious when a CEO receives a huge bonus, even though the company is not making a profit.

Nothing wrong at all when people share in the profit of a company, but don't bleed it dry.
 
Robert Ray
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Minimum wage is an attempt to protect workers.
I'd like to see a maximum wage enfoced on CEO's. If a company is publicly traded it would protect shareholders from extravagant bonuses.
 
jeremiah bailey
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I agree that some CEOs are grossly overpaid for what they do. Some however, far out-gross even other high paid CEOs and could be considered underpaid for what they do. How would you fairly enforce a pay cap for CEOs? I'd like to be CEO of my own company someday. I realize that some CEOs take advantage of their companies and lead the company to bankruptcy, while filling their own coffers. I see that as wrong. However, what is my reward for leading my company to great success if my pay is capped. What is my incentive to take my company above and beyond? Why should I aim at anything above mediocrity? Why would you want to harm hardworking individuals, just because of a few bad seeds?

My father was CEO of a successful company until he and the other shareholders sold it to another company offering the right price. He is a hard working man and deserves more than he makes.  Before you consider me a privileged brat, let me say this. While I was never hungry growing up, I wasn't spoiled either. I didn't get new toys all the time. I didn't get top of the line anything. I had what I needed, and very few extras. Most of what I was given were hand me downs. Anything extra I paid for out of my own savings funded by a rather conservative allowance. I went to public school. I was taught to earn my own way through life. My dad reinvested what wasn't spent back in the company and in his own retirement. I have very much respect for that.

Those CEOs who are raping their companies are scum of the earth in my book. They are lowlife thieves. I do agree that they need to be held accountable for their actions and their paychecks. But I will stand tooth and nail against national pay caps of any kind at any level. If a company wishes to institute a pay cap within its own system, that would be fine. I apologize if I seem harsh in saying that blanket pay caps for CEOs are a bad idea. After seeing where I come from, I hope you understand.
 
jeremiah bailey
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crtreedude wrote:
For capitalism to work, you can't have anyone taking out more than they produce. This means the lazy worker has to work, and the hard worker can't be over compensated. Either one is bleeding the system. It is obvious that the non-productive worker is doing so, but less obvious when a CEO receives a huge bonus, even though the company is not making a profit.



When you say "for capitalism to work" in that instance, you can substitute any other system besides capitalism and still have a true statement. And those problems will exist in any system. It is just human nature. No system will ever be able to overcome that. In my opinion, capitalism does really well at it. In any other system you will still have those in high level positions taking advantage of those in lower positions. Capitalism is one system that allows a person to rise from the lowest class to being a successful millionaire without being corrupt. This is not to say that there is not corruption in the system.

I do not see it as conceivable that corruption can be overcome. It can be dealt with, but it will always be there. Trying to overcome it by making limits such as pay caps limits what the honest person can achieve. This only hurts the honest person. The thief will just find a different way to scam their way through life.

Dealing with it is different than trying to overcome it. Dealing with it involves calling it out whenever and where ever it is found, then punishing those found responsible. This makes unethical behavior less profitable, while leaving honest folks to reap their rewards. Leave the punishment however, up to the shareholders. Shareholders need to be more hands on. Too many shareholders remove themselves from the activities of the company. This is like absentee landlords who purchase properties and let the tenants and the elements run their investment down. Absentee shareholders buy stock in a company and let the company management run rampant with their money. Then they wonder what happened when the CEO votes himself and his cronies a big pay raise and leave town.
 
jeremiah bailey
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There are some ideas that have been purposely left out of capitalism. There are many ideas that could prevent corruption. I see including those ideas as an even bigger crime than the corruption they would stop. This is because they would hold back honest folks from achieving what they could otherwise achieve. I feel strongly that the emphasis should be not on stifling corruption, but on helping the honest person achieve their goals. Blanket rules intended at stifling corruption, generally speaking, only limit the honest person. The corrupt will just find other avenues to exploit. Introducing more rules to try and stop the corrupt only leads to more loopholes for the corrupt to hide behind. The more loopholes there are, the harder it becomes for the honest person, and easier for the corrupt. This leans the system towards being corrupt by default because nobody can earn an honest living. This is where we are heading today.

I think that if the focus was shifted to rewarding honest people, then there would be little room for corruption because people would strive to be honest. When you remove the reward for being honest, you only open the door to more corruption.


 
Fred Morgan
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Capitalism had to be modified in order to prevent the likes of Standard Oil from using their monopoly to control the markets. For me, handicapping the extremely successful is not a bad idea. We are very success with our operation in Costa Rica, we have everything from nursery to furniture, which means we have efficient that can not be duplicated by anyone smaller than us. I can easily destroy the businesses of those around me, if I so choose. But, because that is not good for the society, I don't.

But, as most businesses just barely hang on in the current economic climate, we just get more and more powerful. Once an entity gets big enough, it can change capitalism into no compete whatsoever. Microsoft has done this with their OS to a large decree, though a non-capitalist challenge, Linux, seems to have given them a small challenge.

Just thinking out loud folks, because for me, this is not just theory. In our little neck of the jungle, we could easily be capitalism run amok. 
 
jeremiah bailey
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To that end, the oil industry still controls the markets. However the antitrust laws are useful for helping level the playing field. No caps are placed on the performance of a company. However, a company can't block other companies from fairly competing. I'm not against amending capitalism to promote fairness and honesty. I am against amending capitalism in such a way that discourages or harms the little guy. Standard Oil was an example of a company unfairly taking advantage of the system. For an executive pay cap to be fair to the little guy, I think it'd have to be so high as to not be effective against the big guy. This would defeat the purpose of imposing it. Again, I say promotion of honesty and fairness is the best defense against corruption.

It sounds to me that your operation is a good example of capitalism done right. Under its current course and leadership, it could become as big as it can and not become corrupt. It is all in the leadership and stewardship of the capital. Any caps would just hinder your company from achieving its potential. Antitrust laws don't hinder you because you're not keeping anyone from the market. Antitrust laws don't hinder the truly successful because the truly successful don't fight unfairly.

Microsoft had antitrust suits brought against it because it was unfairly competing against Apple, Be Inc, and others. Be Inc. was mortally crippled by Microsoft's actions and was forced to resort to a focus shift which ultimately led to its demise. Microsoft enforced contracts with hardware makers to not allow BeOS to be bundled with their hardware. Several makers had announced plans to bundle BeOS on their hardware, but quickly withdrew those announcements at Microsoft's beckoning. The lawsuits against MS didn't amount to much, but it did draw public attention to the fact that there are viable alternatives to the junk that MS peddles. Now the smaller companies and OSS solutions are making sizable inroads into what was once MS only territory.
 
Leah Sattler
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profit margins and big oil.

the following link contains a graph showing comapritive profit margins for different industries. oil companies profit margins are below, pharma, food and bev, banks, teleccom, and software.

http://everydayecon.wordpress.com/2006/04/26/oil-profit-margins-vs-other-industries/

having seen the books at my dh work. he hasn't made less then 14% on a job. the oil companies make 8%.

they have their share of corruption and problems but they don't make 'too much money'. in actuallity, for the amount invested they make very little.

oil companies are low profit margin companies that are big. rather like selling lots of cheap items rather then a few expensive items.

the 'evil oil companies' imo are just a great buzz word that can get people riled up and can then be used to manipulate votes and political leanings and the power of individual within the government.

 
jeremiah bailey
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I agree with you there Leah, they don't make too much money. They do still control the markets, because just about everything in our economy is based on oil. I do believe there is much beyond their control now, with OPEC being a major force in the industry. The fact remains that oil is power and the oil industry controls the distribution of oil (power) in the country. They're just able to do so on a slim budget.
 
                            
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Capitalism only seems to function "long term" when regulated.  When deregulation occurs, capitalism acts like a cancer (the cancer cells being the big shots pulling the strings).  Left unchecked, you'll end up with a global oligarchy of a few thousand individuals with VAST wealth, and billions in extreme poverty.  No middle class whatsoever (the the possible/probable exception being those security forces that are needed to keep the 99.99 percent of the population away from these new planetary "kings and queens").  As far as I can see, this is exactly the direction we are headed.

You think a fox in a hen house is going to "regulate" it's own actions, or tear every chicken to shreds?  You think leaving a 3 year old alone in a candy store won't eat himself sick?
Think again.
 
Leah Sattler
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I disagree kahunadm. I do believe there is corruption and some people with vast wealth that are socially useless. but I don't think in general that those with vast wealth are suppressing others. their vast wealth is not in mason jars in the back yard. it is working. it is investing in companies who create new jobs, in new tecnologies, in new medicines. it is going over seas and creating hope in countries that have few natural resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

few people work for poor persons.

 
Robert Ray
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It's hard to seperate economics from government.
  There are succesful capatilists that do good works just as there are successful capatilists that choose not to care.
Just as there are economically challenged who are willing to share what little they have.
Government, religion for that matter are established to temper wrong doing. When do we allow them to interfere with an individuals success in a capatalist system? To what degree and who makes that determination?
Does a succesful capatalist think a government is corrupt when it steps in?
 
Fred Morgan
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I disagree kahunadm. I do believe there is corruption and some people with vast wealth that are socially useless. but I don't think in general that those with vast wealth are suppressing others. their vast wealth is not in mason jars in the back yard. it is working. it is investing in companies who create new jobs, in new tecnologies, in new medicines. it is going over seas and creating hope in countries that have few natural resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

few people work for poor persons.




And I will have to disagree with you (without being disagreeable). I live in a third world nation. Yes, there are a few people who come to build jobs and a better life for those here, but by far, it is wealthy people wishing to get even more wealthy by utilizing cheap labor, hoping to get away with things they couldn't get away with back in the USA. ESPECIALLY leaving their messes for the poor people to deal with after they have extracted the resources.

Many of the third world nations in Latin America have tremendous natural resources, and many rich companies wish to extract these resources and duplicate in Latin America what they did back home.

If you would like, I could start listing the situations. I would say it is more common than not.
 
paul wheaton
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I really appreciate how folks are discussing this so openly and decently:  with heaps of respect for the other contributors.    Thanks everybody! 

And now I'm feeling a bit bad that I may have started something inappropriate for the forums.    I would like to have the forums focus a bit on farming/gardening/healing-the-earth and not so much on politics and the like. 

When I started this thread, I wanted to express concern over openly living my path and collecting hostility about somebody's idea of capitalism.    So the issue was really about communication and not so much about capitalism. 

Jeremiah sent me an email and suggested that I change the subject line to better reflect that and I think he makes a good point.  So I am making that change.

I would like to feebly request that we let the discussion about capitalism fade away. 


Thanks!
 
                            
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Darn it....I missed my chance to respond to Leah!  Alas, Paul, I think you stepped in at the right time.  crtreedude was on to the correct response, but I could have written about 10 paragraphs on top of that.  No worries...plenty of other forums for that kind of discourse.
 
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Deeply enjoying this conversation, and want to add my two cents.

There appears to be an assumption that we all start from the same basis, and have the same advantages.  As a woman in our American culture, it has become clear to me that there are some obvious inequities around "working to create value", especially around childrearing.  No one pays me for staying home and raising children, which is obviously work and has value.  I have to be partnered with someone else who will go out and raise money to support me and my kid.  Working to create "value" isn't enough; it really is all about MONEY.  And MARKETS.  If there is no market for my task, like raising my own children, or cleaning my own house, then my effort is worthless.  But it's still effort, i.e. work.  I don't see how you can sing the praises of a system that requires effort but has no mechanism for payment for said effort.
 
Robert Ray
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Don't take this as meaning that I do not see value in rearing children.
  I was a single parent and raised my daughter, worked and attained a college degree without external assistance.
From where would your support come from if something would happen to your partner?
At what point would and from whom should parental assistance come? When would that assistance start and end?
Should society be responsible for radical behavior of an individual, for example the infamous "Octomom".
 
Laura Sweany
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At the risk of re-invigorating a sensitive forum, I'm choosing to continue this conversation because I think it's important and a useful contemplation of how energy cycles.

This forum started as an exploration of capitalism, with forays into communism and an attempt to define capitalism and discuss "why do we need government?"  If capitalism is defined as societal development structured by markets and capital, then we have a gaping hole when you have social activities that are not recognized by markets and funded by capital.  This is where communism looks good - non-monetary contributions are valued, too.  I would suggest that the role of wise government is to attempt to close the inevitable gaps in a "governing" structure - whether the structure is capitalism, communism, whatever.  When the structure works for a smaller and smaller number of participants, the "government" has to get bigger and bigger to keep filling gaps.  Then we have problems of scale, like we have now.  Re-localization seems to be the answer; this way we as individuals can problem-solve together and share responsibility on a human-size scale.

I would prefer that my assistance come from a small local group or co-op of folks that have the same needs that I do, not some faceless "government agency".
 
Robert Ray
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That would be perfect if a small group could support a nuclear core of families.
Scandinavian countries in particular Norway have an entirely different outlook on maternity leave and parental compensation.
There is merit in wanting to have children, yet there are those that choose not too or can not. I am sure we can see conditions of abuse in where we might agree that there are some people that should not be parents. Would a good parent be entitled to more compensation?
Our current system pretty much adheres to a matriarchal norm. If a father wanted to assist in preforming parental duties would your support system include the payment to the pair of parents as an option?
The largest part of my taxes in my particular County goes to schools so I am already contributing to the cost of children who are not mine. I don't mind because I see value in educating those next in line.
I would think that a co-op or small local group would need some type of work that could be accomplished in situ and would offset support given. Would that still be capatalistic or socalistic, communistic? If you place a value (support) on your work as a parent it is capatalistic.  If I am required to pay for raising or educating others children, socalism already exists in the US to some degree.
 
                                          
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so⋅cial⋅ism [soh-shuh-liz-uhm] - NOUN- 1. A theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

Paying taxes is not socialism, no mater how you slice it.  If it were you would get to choose if you pay for schools or not, and factually you don't.  If you don't like that, take it up with the democracy was founded requiring the need to educate the entire population.

And matriarchal system?  What?  I don't think it's nessecary to launch into a 3-page rant about how America, and most of the world for that matter, is a distinct patriarchy.  Mothers get more default rights to kids, this is true, but I doubt that alone is standing for the argument that our current governmental and capitalist system is a matriarchy.  Considering that women are paid less for the same work(this is statistical fact)and that many, because of their defualt rights and in turn responsibilites to children, are not allowed to freely participate in the free market, it sounds a lot more like men have the upper hand overall.

I mean, here is a system of polictics and financial practice that says you can get paid to raise OTHER PEOPLES KIDS, but not you own, be you a man or a woman.

 
Robert Ray
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When one collects from a group and have paid no tax that is a SOCIAL program. The group that pays the taxes has elected or by default provide a social program with funding. Food stamps, welfare, senior care all necessary components when times are tough and people need assistance.  A pure capatalist structure would require one to pay their way regardless of circumstance.

If you identify programs from the United States that are social in nature, education among them, you will see that we do have an organized control that distributes capital, controls some farm production through subsidies and don't forget the bailout of car makers. It is not complete but it does have components of socialism.

If you think that raising children is patriarchal in the US I beg to differ it almost always falls to the women and many of them get the short end of the stick. I was refering to paternal responsibility when I said matriarchal, not government. I agree that there are a large number of men that fail in their responsibility. Many carry through. My question was if a father wanted to assist in paternal duties would compensation be warranted for both parents, in lauraflora's small local government with a recognizable face.

To support or provide support to a woman or man who elects to stay home and contribute nothing to the small group or co-op other than raising their children and taking care of the home would be a burden that might not be able to be sustained in a small community. Here is where the need for a partner to work in acheiving that independent child rearing circumstance might come into play.



 
 
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Paul,

First, let me tell you that I've really enjoyed your discourse.

You seem to express the opinion that I've heard before that the system of capitalism is a neutral one, and is as susceptible to corruption as the next, and while any system can be corrupted, different systems stem directly from different base values.  The base capitalist value is one of private ownership and inequality, as it seems to be that -structurally- any capitalism will stratify with the rich getting richer and poor getting comparatively poorer.  At least, that seems to be the case without drastic government regulation, which surely no good capitalist will advocate! 

The socialist (communalist, communist, communitarian, whatever) core value is really one of community, since instead of the self, it's based on an idea that we all have the same basic needs and desires and how good can I feel, really, with my wealth when my brother is starving, or is laboring for me while I reap ever-increasing profits from that labor.  It seems to be that where the means of production are privately held, we are less secure (unless we are the one holding it).

And the simple truth (FOR ME) is that I don't want to live in that state of capitalism all the time.  I don't want to always feel on guard that I need to trade for everything, and careful not to be taken advantage of.  I simply don't like the way it FEELS to interact with people on that level, in that emotional space.  Certainly people often do band together, and engage in capitalism together instead of with each other, such as in a marriage, where you have property in common, so that all parties can feel more secure.

Because just as passions flare and die down, the flights of who fancies who changes, and I damn well want the farm, and the houses and the food and the kids and the equipment not to be dependent on that relationship.  Those things are too important.  This is why I find myself rather more of a socialist.

The question of allowing you to walk your path is fine as long as you're walking your path, and I'm walking mine, and you're not being icky as you call it.  However, when the system is such that allows the corporation to rape the third world (and much of the rest of it too) for it's own profit, I can't abide by it, and it's not just the system corrupted, it's the nature of that system.

I'm interested in pursuing other systems.  I have just been attempting what you would call an anarchist commune, where we moved on the land together, with no rules except for an agreement to abide by consensus, and hold our own council highest.  Now, I've come to the point of wanting a system, a transitional system to help us create a new CULTURE, one that is permanently sustainable, not just it's agriculture, but in it's political culture, it's sexual culture, it's economic culture, etc.

On this subject is the work of Allen Butcher at http://culturemagic.org

He's gone a long way to classify a lot of the terms involved in economic-political discussion, and advocates an "egalitarian commonwealth" with a mixed economy involving some shared resources and some personal resources, operating under consensus.  I see there's much discussion going on here in this forum about consensus, and I am a strong advocate of it.  It seems to me the safest, since now on the community we've formed, another of the original founders and I are divided, on this very issue even, between our base economic values, and yet both would be required to kick either of us off. 

So while I hope I'm not hostile towards capitalism, I want to engage in it collectively and for a common good, lest it's base values express themselves in my own corruption.

Love and Light,
Joshua
 
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let me just get this out of the way: I'm absolutely hostile to capitalism.  there.

but just because I think capitalism is no good doesn't mean I don't appreciate the efforts of folks who try to make capitalism behave better or seek to practice capitalism in a way that is consistent with their ecological sensibilities.  those of you who are defending capitalism in this thread aren't defending the nasty bits, you're defending the bits that make sense to you.  at the same time, you're condemning the folks who are responsible for the nasty bits.  by practicing a more enlightened capitalism, I hope you folks will shift the trend toward a less damaging economy.  just because I might do what I can to scrap the whole thing doesn't mean I'm going to try to stop folks like you from improving the situation in the meantime.

how about a clumsy metaphor?  the best solution might be to stop binge drinking, but I'll still swallow a handful of aspirin to alleviate my hangover.  carry on capitalizing.
 
Robert Ray
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I'm not on the dark side but more in the grey.
 
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In 19th century America there were several schools of thought which reacted to industrial capitalism.  These systems of thought were very different from Marxism, but Marxism sort of pushed its rivals off the stage.  Here is one example worth looking at again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgism

For me personally:
Free trade and private property (in some form) are good things.  Institutions where the people who make decisions don't live with the personal responsibility are bad.

Wage labor and salaried labor are bad.  I don't say that from a priori principle, I say it based on my personal experience.  The only thing I hate worse than being a wage slave, is being an employer where someone is draining my money as the clock ticks.  If you own a high cash flow business where you have to fight to protect your little margin, it turns you into an A-hole.  Some people can handle it better than others, but I think it affects everybody.  I greatly prefer a profit sharing system where everyone understands money comes from customers not employers. 
 
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Paul talks about anti-capitalism hostility in this podcast: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/413-podcast-069-building-a-better-world/
 
Been there. Done that. Went back for more. But this time, I took this tiny ad with me:
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