Citizen's Wage

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Tyndmyr
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:12 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:Just to clarify -- while I'm not certain of the validity of your point (not an economist! is something I would like to one day study, though!), what I meant was that our current economy does, in fact, seem to be driven by entities attempting to grind their trading partners into the ground.
You wouldn't seem to have much need to trade with competitors. They might be whom you would like to see go out of business.


Trading partners and competitors are *usually* distinct groups, yes. It is not uncommon for trading partners to have a very cordial relationship, and for mutually beneficial relationships to be sought.

In some sectors, the line between these groups blurs, and there's a gradiant in both definition and in resulting behavior.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:22 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:No, the point stands. That the US has a particularly large railway system should be no surprise. It represents a huge proportion of the world's economy (based on GDP (purchasing power parity), it's around 19%). The fact that this is almost exactly the same number as the proportion of the world's railway is not a coincidence. Bigger economies build more infrastructure. That's just obvious.


And why, precisely, is our GDP so big? It hasn't always been. The era of the robber barons correlates with...a massive growth in GDP. A bigger economy HAS more infrastructure because it can afford to, and more infrastructure helps build a bigger economy.

So yes, the era of the industrialists is inextricably linked to our growth as a modern, wealthy nation.


Then why do other countries which didn't have a culture of robber barons at the time manage to acquire large railway networks?

Tyndmyr wrote:
I did a brief analysis of the figures from the CIA comparing the relative strength in the correlation between %railway (by length), area and GDP of the countries with the most rail.

Obviously all these statistics are after the fact so are not necessarily representative of conditions before the railways were built.

Anyway, some of the statistics I was using (like unemployment rate or poverty rate) do not scale with "size" of a nation and so I also compared the statistics with the rail length corrected by the square root of the area of the country.


So...why, exactly, is square root of area the most appropriate "correction"?


A matter of geometry.

Assuming shape is independent of area for a country (or rather, shapes are evenly distributed across all areas) and assuming that railway lines tend to be limited by the distance across the country and tend to be proportional to it, it follows that the area is proportional to the square of total railway line.

A quick check from the data I had suggests that, in this dataset, it's nearer the cube root. Adjusting the correction to this new power (i.e. rail length ~ area^0.345) gives an R2 value for corrected rail length vs richness as 0.0545 which is still much less than we'd expect from random data. It did strengthen the GDP correlation a little though in the corrected case (although, as GDP scales with size, the correlation is still much better with uncorrected length).

Tyndmyr wrote:
If a statistic scales with area and there is a genuine correlation with rail length, the correlation should be weaker when done to the corrected rail length. Likewise, if a statistic does not scale with area and there is a genuine correlation then the correlation should be stronger when done to the corrected length.

The statistics I was comparing were area, GDP, %ge consumption of the richest 10%, population, % unemployment and the % below the poverty line. Of these, only the first 2 and population scale with size.


Well, area, obviously. That and size are kind of the same thing. GDP and size do not correlate very well. Sure, the USA is huge and on the top end, but so is Dubai. Quatar, Luxemborg, Singapore, all pretty much at the top of GDP/population, are quite small.

Of course, if you're using raw GDP as opposed to GDP/population, then yes, that's trivially obvious. All three correlations are.


I'm using raw GDP and yes, this is my point.

I did calculate a GDP/capita and stick it up on there too briefly but the correlation is very weak (R2=0.0572).

Anyway, this is my point, the only significant correlations are trivial. Economic considerations do not appear to be that significant at all when it comes to total rail length.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Again, those are modern numbers and lots of the countries I included there (the top 20 by length of railway) would almost certainly not have been there 50 or more years ago. Still, I suspect going further back starts to favour the UK even more than it does the US (correcting for area of course) and we did not have an obvious equivalent to robber barons.


Google "Railway Mania", perhaps in conjunction with 1840. Your railways were built by private enterprise, and consolidated into larger empires same as ours were. Just on a smaller scale because the country isn't as big.


Railway mania was fundamentally different from the robber barons. Railway mania was just a bubble. There were few enough robber barons that they were able to maintain monopolies whilst part of the problem with railway mania was that there were too many competitors. Furthermore, whilst railway mania was a natural bubble, the robber barons explicitly encouraged such investment. Most of the companies which failed did so not because they were consolidated but because they genuinely did fail. They ran out of funds before being able to acquire the land. Many were denied acts in order to be allowed to make the route in the first place.

The two are not comparable and not merely due to differences in scale.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:25 pm UTC

You don't grind your trading partners into the ground. You grind them into profit. Then you find new trading partners.

If you have a shortage of trading partners, instead of grinding your partners into the ground, you shackle them into bondage (minimize their share of the benefit in the trade in such a way that they are trapped to work to make you the lions share of the profits).

We can see this with airplane tickets selling to customers, Walmart/Amazon/Grocery chains dealing with suppliers, many companies dealing with disposable employees. We can see this with monopoly tactics in the computer software industry, various cartels (from energy through to car rentals), banks in dealing with investors, insurance companies in dealing with clients trying to collect, etc.

Only in the cases where the capitalists have failed in their endeavor, when they lack market power, when capita is weak and incompetent at its goals, is capital harnessed for the general good. Capital is often weak and incompetent at its goals, which is why using capitalism is often an amazing idea to generate economic growth: but holding it up as an inevitability is foolishness. The Wealth of Nations being produced via capitalism is not the *goal* of a capitalist actor, it is a side effect of the capitalist actor's difficulty in perfectly achieving their goals.

A fear is that as capitalism perfects itself, it capitalist actors get better at their goals, and the uncaptured utility that leaks out of the good capitalist's hands reduces, is a legitimate one. And there is some evidence that this is happening, in the skyrocketing economic inequality in the first world. On the other hand, global inequality might be flattening, and the skyrocketing inequality in the first world might be an artifact of being a captain of a larger economy, but living within a smaller one. When the domain you rule is bounded by the scale of the USA, you will be worth some fraction of the USA's worth. When the domain you rule is bounded by the scale of the world's economy, and the world is significantly larger than the USA, your wealth compared to the wealth of the rest of the USA will grow.

And with capitalism causing thermodynamic distributions of personal wealth, the larger room will have hotter captains of industry.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:07 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:No, the point stands. That the US has a particularly large railway system should be no surprise. It represents a huge proportion of the world's economy (based on GDP (purchasing power parity), it's around 19%). The fact that this is almost exactly the same number as the proportion of the world's railway is not a coincidence. Bigger economies build more infrastructure. That's just obvious.


And why, precisely, is our GDP so big? It hasn't always been. The era of the robber barons correlates with...a massive growth in GDP. A bigger economy HAS more infrastructure because it can afford to, and more infrastructure helps build a bigger economy.

So yes, the era of the industrialists is inextricably linked to our growth as a modern, wealthy nation.


Then why do other countries which didn't have a culture of robber barons at the time manage to acquire large railway networks?


You're ignoring the time factor. The rate at which you aquire wealth matters, as does the era in which you do it. The fact that other countries no doubt long ago caught up with us on carriage production is unimportant because we no longer use horses and carriages. After the invention and rise of the automobile, another country catching up on horses and carriage does not signify them passing us. It means we're in a different stage of economy than them in that regard.

And regardless, every country goes through industrialization phases that look pretty similar. Oh, sure, China can borrow from the experience of others in going through it first to maybe skip some missteps, but their industrialization does not look so different from our own.

I'm using raw GDP and yes, this is my point.

I did calculate a GDP/capita and stick it up on there too briefly but the correlation is very weak (R2=0.0572).

Anyway, this is my point, the only significant correlations are trivial. Economic considerations do not appear to be that significant at all when it comes to total rail length.


Again, I suggest you use historical data, instead of current data. Wealth when the railroads were being built is very different than wealth currently. If you want to see if one causes the other, you need to look at the historical correlation, not just the geographical locations.

Google "Railway Mania", perhaps in conjunction with 1840. Your railways were built by private enterprise, and consolidated into larger empires same as ours were. Just on a smaller scale because the country isn't as big.


Railway mania was fundamentally different from the robber barons. Railway mania was just a bubble. There were few enough robber barons that they were able to maintain monopolies whilst part of the problem with railway mania was that there were too many competitors. Furthermore, whilst railway mania was a natural bubble, the robber barons explicitly encouraged such investment. Most of the companies which failed did so not because they were consolidated but because they genuinely did fail. They ran out of funds before being able to acquire the land. Many were denied acts in order to be allowed to make the route in the first place.

The two are not comparable and not merely due to differences in scale.


Look at the progression of it. The "too many competitors" became four. And yes, the robber barons encouraged investment in them. So too did English railway sorts. Hell, any big enterprise tends to encourage investment in it.

As for the rest, all that happened here as well. People ran out of money, people got stopped because of straight up failures, legal issues occured(often with graft in the case of both countries).


Yakk, well, yes, monopolies are bad. In addition, some examples, like that of a client trying to collect on a policy, is not really a good example of a trade.

In addition, skyrocketing inequity in the first world is a label more frequently used to describe a small subset of that. Geographically, the US, and historically, fairly recently. Mid 80s and 90s, mostly. You will note that several tax code changes occured around then which had the effect of defining more wealth gains as income. For instance, executive stock interest(86, if memory serves). These sorts of benefits are overwelmingly gained only by the richest in society...but that did not actually start then, that has been the case for ages. We merely started tracking them as income then. Inequity has always been pretty vast, but changes in the visibility of it are larger than the actual changes in inequity itself.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:18 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
I'm using raw GDP and yes, this is my point.

I did calculate a GDP/capita and stick it up on there too briefly but the correlation is very weak (R2=0.0572).

Anyway, this is my point, the only significant correlations are trivial. Economic considerations do not appear to be that significant at all when it comes to total rail length.


Again, I suggest you use historical data, instead of current data. Wealth when the railroads were being built is very different than wealth currently. If you want to see if one causes the other, you need to look at the historical correlation, not just the geographical locations.


Fixed the broken quote.

I agree historical data would be useful. It is however much harder to find and I expect is missing the data most relevant to the point under debate (the %ge consumption of the top 10%). I have presented some rather poorly suited data showing that their certainly is little correlation now and thus that any richness which caused the railways has subsequently disappeared if it was as significant as you claim. I then used this as (again, rather poor) evidence for my case that the wealth of the robber barons was not as significant as you believe.

Yes my data is poor and ill-suited. It is however some indication. You are the one claiming this link exists; find some better suited data and prove me wrong.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Yakk » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:40 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Yakk, well, yes, monopolies are bad.

Is that all you got out of it?
In addition, some examples, like that of a client trying to collect on a policy, is not really a good example of a trade.

The entire trade is "purchase insurance now, in exchange for protection later". The insurance company optimizes for people to "purchase insurance now, get as little protection as possible later".
In addition, skyrocketing inequity in the first world is a label more frequently used to describe a small subset of that. Geographically, the US, and historically, fairly recently. Mid 80s and 90s, mostly. You will note that several tax code changes occured around then which had the effect of defining more wealth gains as income. For instance, executive stock interest(86, if memory serves). These sorts of benefits are overwelmingly gained only by the richest in society...but that did not actually start then, that has been the case for ages. We merely started tracking them as income then. Inequity has always been pretty vast, but changes in the visibility of it are larger than the actual changes in inequity itself.

So your position is that the massive GINI coefficient changes since 1980s is an artifact of the GINI coefficient definition changing?

I'm just trying to understand your position, before I bother tearing it apart. If you want to retract your claim, feel free.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:28 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Yakk, well, yes, monopolies are bad.

Is that all you got out of it?
In addition, some examples, like that of a client trying to collect on a policy, is not really a good example of a trade.

The entire trade is "purchase insurance now, in exchange for protection later". The insurance company optimizes for people to "purchase insurance now, get as little protection as possible later".


There is a difference between "we once made a trade", and "we are trading partners". The latter implies an ongoing relationship. It's the difference between playing iterative prisoner's dilemma and playing it once.

In addition, skyrocketing inequity in the first world is a label more frequently used to describe a small subset of that. Geographically, the US, and historically, fairly recently. Mid 80s and 90s, mostly. You will note that several tax code changes occured around then which had the effect of defining more wealth gains as income. For instance, executive stock interest(86, if memory serves). These sorts of benefits are overwelmingly gained only by the richest in society...but that did not actually start then, that has been the case for ages. We merely started tracking them as income then. Inequity has always been pretty vast, but changes in the visibility of it are larger than the actual changes in inequity itself.

So your position is that the massive GINI coefficient changes since 1980s is an artifact of the GINI coefficient definition changing?

I'm just trying to understand your position, before I bother tearing it apart. If you want to retract your claim, feel free.


There's actually a couple of ways that inequality is measured, but many of them rely on taxation data for income, and income is at the foundation of inequality measurements, since that's what GINI is all about. Obviously, off the record income is hard to measure or track. The GINI calculations themselves need not change, but the results are obviously only as good as the data fed into it.

In addition, I'll point out that while the US has a pretty big pre-tax GINI index, it's after tax index is significantly lower, and hasn't changed that rapidly. Given that taxes are kind of a fact of life, this is kind of important when talking about real world inequality.

Last, but not least, income is not quite the same as wealth. There's a correlation, sure, but wealth disparities are going to exist even if income disparities don't, and off the books income can play a large part in this. As one example, drug income in the US is often concealed due to the illicit nature of the activity, but there is a wide practical gap between the drug kingpin and the junkie at the bottom of the heap.

Income inequality does change, but looking at it in more detail tends to result in a lower estimate of change(at least, for the US).

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby leady » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:29 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Yes my data is poor and ill-suited. It is however some indication. You are the one claiming this link exists; find some better suited data and prove me wrong.


A link unarguably exists - your robber barons were by and large rich men that got far far richer from building railroads and their consolidation. I don't really see how you can argue against large private capital being required to build major private infrastructure. As to whether the "robber barons" were the cause or effect, the answer is going to both. Clearly they were men good at running rail businesses that over the boom period successfuly invested / took over others, to create the biggest railroads and make themselves ludicrous fortunes.

I think the differences between the US and europe at the time, is that europe already had a class of people with a level of wealth orders of magnitude above the common man. Ours just overtly used swords and guns to get their capital :)

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Ormurinn » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:19 pm UTC

[quote="leady"]
A link unarguably exists - your robber barons were by and large rich men that got far far richer from building railroads and their consolidation. I don't really see how you can argue against large private capital being required to build major private infrastructure.{/quote]

Theres no reason to assume railways need to be private.

Hell, even in the U.S they were quasi-public in that state power was used to obtain the land to build them on, and state subsidy made them profitable.

You need concentration of capital - but that can come from government or voluntary assosciations as well as from a few rich men with imperial preference.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:29 pm UTC

Yeah, you need a large amount of capital, but there's no reason to assume that that needs to come from so few people. Large collections of people can produce sufficient capital to build railways if they want. This is the distinction between corporations building railways and individuals doing so.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Yakk » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:51 pm UTC

Remember that capital is 'stuff other people want', and its value is 'what will they do to get it'.

We abstract this into dollars, and debt. Impose debt roughly equal to dollars in circulation, threaten to take stuff away unless you service debt (people tend to want to keep what they have), and each dollar is backed by a dollar of stuff people want.

In short, capital is *easy* if you line it up with poverty. Capital is the debt the poor have to service to keep what they have.

Capital without poverty is trickier. Not impossible: just harder.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby leady » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:55 pm UTC

absolutely, but given that the internet and kickstarter didn't exist in 1830s and most of the lower classes (95%+ of the population) where effectively subsistence labourers, i'm struggling to see how a crowd sourcing model of any ilk would work.

Even if the government did the investing back then the cash would be being taken from the same people, just via a different method.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:07 pm UTC

Of course.

It's a good thing then that I'm not suggesting that the railways were funded by the poor.

I'm just suggesting that their construction did not necessarily have to be funded by the most uber-rich. Instead they could have been funded by a group of the not-quite-so rich or so on.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby leady » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:36 pm UTC

To have funding by the not-quite-so-rich you need them to actually exist

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:44 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
leady wrote:A link unarguably exists - your robber barons were by and large rich men that got far far richer from building railroads and their consolidation. I don't really see how you can argue against large private capital being required to build major private infrastructure.{/quote]

Theres no reason to assume railways need to be private.

Hell, even in the U.S they were quasi-public in that state power was used to obtain the land to build them on, and state subsidy made them profitable.

You need concentration of capital - but that can come from government or voluntary assosciations as well as from a few rich men with imperial preference.


True, one can be a "robber baron" either using private or public means or...as is very common historically, some mix of both to obtain every advantage possible. The private component is definitely somewhat questionable, and I'd argue that public policy was at least influential on railway building for both the US and the UK. Probably elsewhere too. Not always positive, as graft and such like seems to be a recurring issue in industrializing economies, but an influence all the same.

The idea of using a kickstarter model for industrializing a country is, while not historical, of course, still an intriguing one. The big problem with doing it on such a scale is what happens when the project manager decides to bail with the funds?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby addams » Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:14 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Of course.

It's a good thing then that I'm not suggesting that the railways were funded by the poor.

I'm just suggesting that their construction did not necessarily have to be funded by the most uber-rich. Instead they could have been funded by a group of the not-quite-so rich or so on.

What?
Who do you think funded the US rails?

That is a complicated and heart breaking set of Stories.
That some Rich Asshole shit the Transcontinental Railway is Stupid.

That was Government and Human Resources working to get a Job done!
They were using: 'By Any Means Necessary."

We are living in the 21st century.
We do not need that Stupid saying anymore.

We do need Governance.
It would be nice with Global Communication and Digital Devices Commonplace to have International Oversight.

What does the Rail Way have to do with CW?
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That poor woman in Australia.
oh. 'All Is Fair in Love and War.'

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Ormurinn » Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:True, one can be a "robber baron" either using private or public means or...as is very common historically, some mix of both to obtain every advantage possible.


I'd go further - without using State Power to trample the competition, offload the costs of negative externalities, and profit from economic rent, you're not a robber baron. You're just a successful person who is wealthy because you've provided a great deal of positive utility to people..
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Soralin » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:57 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:True, one can be a "robber baron" either using private or public means or...as is very common historically, some mix of both to obtain every advantage possible.


I'd go further - without using State Power to trample the competition, offload the costs of negative externalities, and profit from economic rent, you're not a robber baron. You're just a successful person who is wealthy because you've provided a great deal of positive utility to people..

You don't need state power to be able to do any of those things. If you have enough private resources, then all you need is for state power to not interfere and prevent you from doing them.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:08 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:I'd go further - without using State Power to trample the competition, offload the costs of negative externalities, and profit from economic rent, you're not a robber baron. You're just a successful person who is wealthy because you've provided a great deal of positive utility to people..
What's the fundamental difference between me driving competition out of business by controlling the market with my money and me driving competition out of business by controlling the market with government regulation?

In fact, in practice, I suspect these two actions are often so similar that you sometimes can't tell any difference at all.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Aug 02, 2013 8:14 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:I'd go further - without using State Power to trample the competition, offload the costs of negative externalities, and profit from economic rent, you're not a robber baron. You're just a successful person who is wealthy because you've provided a great deal of positive utility to people..
What's the fundamental difference between me driving competition out of business by controlling the market with my money and me driving competition out of business by controlling the market with government regulation?

In fact, in practice, I suspect these two actions are often so similar that you sometimes can't tell any difference at all.


Well, if you rely on money alone, the state may stop you.
If you have the state working for you...

But yes, the basic functions of power are mostly indistinguishable, regardless of what label you apply to the power structure. The state is simply the label given to the biggest, most encompassing power structure in an area. So, it probably has the most capacity for abuse of power, but the difference is one of scale, not of kind.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if you rely on money alone, the state may stop you.
Use your money to buy the state!
Tyndmyr wrote:But yes, the basic functions of power are mostly indistinguishable, regardless of what label you apply to the power structure. The state is simply the label given to the biggest, most encompassing power structure in an area. So, it probably has the most capacity for abuse of power, but the difference is one of scale, not of kind.
This is more or less the reason I posted; something bothers me when we look at this through the lens of the State being the guy with the most power -- or (oversimplifying what Ormurinn said) State use of power is 'bad' while non-State use of power is 'good'. I don't see that division as being very clear. Maybe it should be, but in a lot of ways, the State and corporate interests are often so entangled that it sometimes seems very hard to tell the difference between a corporate action and a state action.

Ideally, I think these two types of actions should serve very different agendas -- but in many respects, I see their agendas actually combining in ways that are genuinely horrifying. See the perverse incentive system in the privatization of US prisons for one example (the more prisoners we find, the more money we make!).

My hackles just get raised when we start talking in ways that imply State power is tyrannical and economic power is rightfully earned. Both types of power can be (and often are!) tyrannical; the only way to determine this is to look at how they are applied.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Aug 03, 2013 2:33 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if you rely on money alone, the state may stop you.
Use your money to buy the state!


Yeah, in practice, you can expect to see state collusion in cases of monopoly, etc because this strategy is (if you have the resources and opportunity) pretty obviously advantageous. It may not even be a straight bribe, mind you...you can express power in other ways, such as buying mediums to spread your message....but bribery is a pretty blatant, direct use of it, so when possible, it's particularly powerful, so it's very highly represented in the worst cases of abuse of corporate power.

I do not view either use of power as intrinsically bad or good. It's like electricity. You can use it for damned near anything. Power doesn't have morality. People have morality(or a lack thereof). So, one can look at two companies of the same size, and see one as better than the other based on your perception of the way the people in charge act.

Perverse incentives are a problem, and you've highlighted another particular factor of the power system....the concept of a balance of power. We tend to accept that a balance of power among the governmental branches limits the harm government can inflict. Likewise, government and corporate interests sometimes moderate each other(or various corporate interests conflict). When the competing power interests are well balanced, lower powered individuals can affect the balance of power(smaller companies, individuals, etc) But entirely unmitigated power, when everyone is working together, has the potential for rapid, powerful changes that the individual may be powerless to stop....and if bad, the outcome can get drastic indeed. Incidentally, this is basically the entire problem with fascism, since it endorses the government and corporations working towards the same ends.

The way power is earned can be an indicator of someone's worth to wield power, though. Certainly, I would feel more confident with some degree of earning, be it work, or having to win elections, or whatever, than someone who happened to get power because of happenstance of birth or some watery tart wielding a sword. You probably still shouldn't abandon the concept of a balance of power, mind....but embracing both safeguards is rational.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby jseah » Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:30 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if you rely on money alone, the state may stop you.
Use your money to buy the state!

Sometimes you don't even have to do that. If your company employs 1% of the people working in a state, you can be sure the state isn't going to pass laws that jeapordize your position. 1% is alot.

Tyndmyr wrote:But entirely unmitigated power, when everyone is working together, has the potential for rapid, powerful changes that the individual may be powerless to stop....and if bad, the outcome can get drastic indeed. Incidentally, this is basically the entire problem with fascism, since it endorses the government and corporations working towards the same ends.

To an extent, I agree. The downside I see of balance of power is that nothing gets done, or it takes forever.

A deadlocked government is one that fails to pass an emergency market stabilization measure in the face of financial meltdown. It can't act rapidly because the system is designed not to, and it sucks at handling emergencies.

I come from Singapore, which is well, not that democratic, being essentially a 1 party democracy (the opposition not having enough people to even contest all the seats). Can you guess how long it takes Singapore to pass a new cooling measure to avoid a housing price bubble when the previous one didn't work? A couple of weeks. And when that didn't work either, they came back with a new one with even more sweeping measures in another few weeks. And they just restarted construction of subsidized housing (the apartments btw, only takes the government about a year to build from the time they say 'go').
Result: we don't have a bubble or at least the meteoric rise in price has halted.

Unmitigated power has its upsides too. =)
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby addams » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:28 am UTC

jseah wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if you rely on money alone, the state may stop you.
Use your money to buy the state!

Sometimes you don't even have to do that. If your company employs 1% of the people working in a state, you can be sure the state isn't going to pass laws that jeapordize your position. 1% is alot.

Tyndmyr wrote:But entirely unmitigated power, when everyone is working together, has the potential for rapid, powerful changes that the individual may be powerless to stop....and if bad, the outcome can get drastic indeed. Incidentally, this is basically the entire problem with fascism, since it endorses the government and corporations working towards the same ends.

To an extent, I agree. The downside I see of balance of power is that nothing gets done, or it takes forever.

A deadlocked government is one that fails to pass an emergency market stabilization measure in the face of financial meltdown. It can't act rapidly because the system is designed not to, and it sucks at handling emergencies.

I come from Singapore, which is well, not that democratic, being essentially a 1 party democracy (the opposition not having enough people to even contest all the seats). Can you guess how long it takes Singapore to pass a new cooling measure to avoid a housing price bubble when the previous one didn't work? A couple of weeks. And when that didn't work either, they came back with a new one with even more sweeping measures in another few weeks. And they just restarted construction of subsidized housing (the apartments btw, only takes the government about a year to build from the time they say 'go').
Result: we don't have a bubble or at least the meteoric rise in price has halted.

Unmitigated power has its upsides too. =)

Power tempered with Competence, Intelligence and Good Will toward The People is a sword that should not break.

Brute force will Get The Job Done; If the Job is Brain Surgery with a Hammer.
The results are less than optimal. Justifiable, because we can all tell you have been busy.

What works for Singapore will not work for All of us.
Those people may have a good Model.
That death penalty for Marijuana, may be a deal breaker.

The Lack of Educated Competent Professionals that are able and willing to work together has Nothing to do with Marijuana.
The Netherlands has plenty of Both.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Aug 03, 2013 4:38 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The way power is earned can be an indicator of someone's worth to wield power, though. Certainly, I would feel more confident with some degree of earning, be it work, or having to win elections, or whatever, than someone who happened to get power because of happenstance of birth or some watery tart wielding a sword. You probably still shouldn't abandon the concept of a balance of power, mind....but embracing both safeguards is rational.
I agree with what you said above, but I'd feel remiss if I did not point out that -- in my experience, at least! -- the method by which power is attained can sometimes accelerate the worst people to the top.

Elections (in America) are more or less beauty contests; they aren't decided by who's got the best positions so much as who's got the best narrative. Nepotism is still alive and kicking -- both in corporations and in wealth. And sometimes, clawing your way to the top isn't demonstrative of character; it's demonstrative of being an incredibly shitty person. Having character is often actually a barrier to power -- how fucked up is that?

Yeah, in one way, relying on watery tarts lobbing swords around is a terrible way to decide who should have power, but in another way, sometimes it's actually better -- at this point in the US political landscape? It's getting to a point where I'd almost prefer a random lottery to decide the winner.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby addams » Sat Aug 03, 2013 11:19 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The way power is earned can be an indicator of someone's worth to wield power, though. Certainly, I would feel more confident with some degree of earning, be it work, or having to win elections, or whatever, than someone who happened to get power because of happenstance of birth or some watery tart wielding a sword. You probably still shouldn't abandon the concept of a balance of power, mind....but embracing both safeguards is rational.
I agree with what you said above, but I'd feel remiss if I did not point out that -- in my experience, at least! -- the method by which power is attained can sometimes accelerate the worst people to the top.

Elections (in America) are more or less beauty contests; they aren't decided by who's got the best positions so much as who's got the best narrative. Nepotism is still alive and kicking -- both in corporations and in wealth. And sometimes, clawing your way to the top isn't demonstrative of character; it's demonstrative of being an incredibly shitty person. Having character is often actually a barrier to power -- how fucked up is that?

Yeah, in one way, relying on watery tarts lobbing swords around is a terrible way to decide who should have power, but in another way, sometimes it's actually better -- at this point in the US political landscape? It's getting to a point where I'd almost prefer a random lottery to decide the winner.

Amen!

Random chance is ok.
Watery Tarts are Better.

Or; The Supreme Court can decide it, like they did in 2000.

The Court was Incorruptible in 17 something, something.
Guess What! That may not be True, anymore.

The world is different, now. We need Watery Tarts!

Have you seen the Tarts on TV? We have Tarts!
They hand out Power each and everyday.
Some take a day off for their Birthday.

Everyday, without fail;
The Tarts on TV hand out Power and Prestige.

Your wish has come true.
Tarts hand out Power.

Make another Wish.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:31 pm UTC

jseah wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:But entirely unmitigated power, when everyone is working together, has the potential for rapid, powerful changes that the individual may be powerless to stop....and if bad, the outcome can get drastic indeed. Incidentally, this is basically the entire problem with fascism, since it endorses the government and corporations working towards the same ends.

To an extent, I agree. The downside I see of balance of power is that nothing gets done, or it takes forever.

A deadlocked government is one that fails to pass an emergency market stabilization measure in the face of financial meltdown. It can't act rapidly because the system is designed not to, and it sucks at handling emergencies.

I come from Singapore, which is well, not that democratic, being essentially a 1 party democracy (the opposition not having enough people to even contest all the seats). Can you guess how long it takes Singapore to pass a new cooling measure to avoid a housing price bubble when the previous one didn't work? A couple of weeks. And when that didn't work either, they came back with a new one with even more sweeping measures in another few weeks. And they just restarted construction of subsidized housing (the apartments btw, only takes the government about a year to build from the time they say 'go').
Result: we don't have a bubble or at least the meteoric rise in price has halted.

Unmitigated power has its upsides too. =)


Sure. Unmitigated power can act very rapidly, and the good/badness of this entirely depends on the actions....but consider a dictatorship, which probably has less mitigation of power than even your one party democracy. They vary in quality, sure...but dictatorships very frequently end up with someone terrible in charge, and catastrophic consequences. It's a trade off in stability. This is probably a larger problem for larger states, too...average social distance increases, and it is harder to represent everybody adequately. If we had the same proportional representation that we did in colonial america now...well, congress would be too large to ever get anything done, really.

It's likely that different sizes of government have different practical limits on how large they can grow. The commune style government where everyone simply agrees on what to do and is at least quasi-equal works well enough at small scales, but seems to have issues scaling up. Democracy certainly seems to get a lot larger, but it may be that it also has a cap at some level, beyond which it rapidly gets increasingly less efficient.

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The way power is earned can be an indicator of someone's worth to wield power, though. Certainly, I would feel more confident with some degree of earning, be it work, or having to win elections, or whatever, than someone who happened to get power because of happenstance of birth or some watery tart wielding a sword. You probably still shouldn't abandon the concept of a balance of power, mind....but embracing both safeguards is rational.
I agree with what you said above, but I'd feel remiss if I did not point out that -- in my experience, at least! -- the method by which power is attained can sometimes accelerate the worst people to the top.

Elections (in America) are more or less beauty contests; they aren't decided by who's got the best positions so much as who's got the best narrative. Nepotism is still alive and kicking -- both in corporations and in wealth. And sometimes, clawing your way to the top isn't demonstrative of character; it's demonstrative of being an incredibly shitty person. Having character is often actually a barrier to power -- how fucked up is that?

Yeah, in one way, relying on watery tarts lobbing swords around is a terrible way to decide who should have power, but in another way, sometimes it's actually better -- at this point in the US political landscape? It's getting to a point where I'd almost prefer a random lottery to decide the winner.


A random lottery would be interesting, but I would still want to rely on a balance of power for that. Maybe more so, even. Randomly electing one person president scares the shit out of me. Too much risk of getting someone *really* bad. Randomly electing congress is a lot more viable, because while you're going to get some terrible choices, at least you'll get a variety of terrible choices, and it's statistically unlikely that you'll get them all from one side or point of view.

Of course...even in such a system, such people are vulnerable to corruption, since people who have lots of money or lots of media access or what have you are disproportionately more influential.

And in the end...I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing. It certainly can be bad, but it also has it's up sides...the highly educated tend to have more pull than average, for instance, and I do favor that. All other things being equal, more education should result in better decision making. Even if we could find an entirely egalitarian solution(say, unmoderated comments on the internet), it is probable that the sheer noise would drown out the experts.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby addams » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:58 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:I'd go further - without using State Power to trample the competition, offload the costs of negative externalities, and profit from economic rent, you're not a robber baron. You're just a successful person who is wealthy because you've provided a great deal of positive utility to people..
What's the fundamental difference between me driving competition out of business by controlling the market with my money and me driving competition out of business by controlling the market with government regulation?

In fact, in practice, I suspect these two actions are often so similar that you sometimes can't tell any difference at all.

The mechanisms of my Government were used by private individuals to shut my business down.
The actions without oversight are not different at all.

The Gangsters Rule today as always.
Who are the people that can get things done?

Those that use money to get people to do what they are told to do.
I may understand a part of what has happened in this nation during the last fifteen years.
Would it help to type about it? What difference would it make to explain?

It is not possible to cure the disease,just, by knowing how the Virus works.
It is mildly interesting. Interested?

Did you ever study War?
I attempted to avoid Policy Stuff.
My interest was in The People.

I was told something one time by a very passionate young intellectual.
He surprised me. He said, "China has only been conquered, once."

Well; That got my Attention! Conquered? China? Never. Once?
He explained some things to me that I had never considered.

When we had the big 2000 switch over it was a bigger deal than most of us thought it was.
People that study War often look at, 'How it was done.'

Does this belong on a different Thread?
What could China in the middle of last Century have to do with the US Seventy years later?

I only got one lecture on the subject. I was very interested. It was not what I was taught in School.
The one thing that is consistent with what I was taught is The People suffer when War is Waged.

That whole Eastern/Western Border is so Strange to me.
It was behind the Bamboo Curtain.

What could we learn from China? Not mandarin.
That might be nice, but our people are suffering in poverty and ignorance.

Not all; Many.
Lifting the bottom is something we could learn. Correct?
Lift our people. Lift them from the bottom.

Set a higher standard for our Poor. It will elevate all of us.
Pride could be more than Hollow words from Belligerent Assholes.

It is ok to look at a person that has wasted their allowance and say, "See?"
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:30 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:My hackles just get raised when we start talking in ways that imply State power is tyrannical and economic power is rightfully earned. Both types of power can be (and often are!) tyrannical; the only way to determine this is to look at how they are applied.


The Great Hippo wrote:My hackles just get raised when we start talking in ways that imply State power is tyrannical and economic power is rightfully earned. Both types of power can be (and often are!) tyrannical; the only way to determine this is to look at how they are applied.


States can do things to you without your consent and compel you with force. Thats kind of the point of them.

Corporations can't. When they do (East India Company) they're more like states than companies.

As long as theres a State around, google can't force us to use it's search engines at gunpoint - but it's that very concentration of power that means that the state needs to be watched more closely than Google. It's also that concentration of power that makes maipulating the state's laws (through patent law, property law, regulation etc) a higher percentage move than trying to do it on your own.

One type of power comes from having lots of people value your services. The other is inherent in the nature of the actor wielding it, and dwarfs by orders of magnitude the other. Private Economic entities can't tax me, or conscript me, or dictate the terms of my private life without my prior consent. That's why the State deserves much closer scrutiny, the lack of consensuality in peoples relationship with it.
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:29 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:States can do things to you without your consent and compel you with force. Thats kind of the point of them.

Corporations can't. When they do (East India Company) they're more like states than companies.
I can do things to you without your consent and compel you with force. It's 'supposed' to be against the law -- but I can still do it, and I can still get away with it.

Corporations do things like this all the time. Go google 'pharmaceutical company evil' for some particularly egregious examples. One of my all time favorites is the one where Bayers infected non-US citizens with AIDs to avoid having to just dump some product.
Ormurinn wrote:As long as theres a State around, google can't force us to use it's search engines at gunpoint - but it's that very concentration of power that means that the state needs to be watched more closely than Google. It's also that concentration of power that makes maipulating the state's laws (through patent law, property law, regulation etc) a higher percentage move than trying to do it on your own.
Everyone with a strong concentration of power needs to be closely watched. And in certain spheres, corporations act as the State. I pointed out just one example: Privatized prisons. Th'fuck is more 'violating your consent' than a prison?
Ormurinn wrote:One type of power comes from having lots of people value your services. The other is inherent in the nature of the actor wielding it, and dwarfs by orders of magnitude the other. Private Economic entities can't tax me, or conscript me, or dictate the terms of my private life without my prior consent. That's why the State deserves much closer scrutiny, the lack of consensuality in peoples relationship with it.
This belief is in complete defiance of reality. I cannot overemphasize this enough: I am just as capable of killing you with the power I have through others valuing my services as I am capable of killing you with the power I have through others believing I work through the government.

If you think that one of these power is -- by definition -- weaker than the other, then you understand neither.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:55 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:One type of power comes from having lots of people value your services. The other is inherent in the nature of the actor wielding it, and dwarfs by orders of magnitude the other. Private Economic entities can't tax me, or conscript me, or dictate the terms of my private life without my prior consent. That's why the State deserves much closer scrutiny, the lack of consensuality in peoples relationship with it.
This is not true, except as a technicality. The modern world is opaque enough that consent is often given where informed consent is well-nigh impossible. Big Data is a big part of this; in principle I don't mind that somebody (or some company) knows what I bought for breakfast. However, it turns out that enough of this kind of data paints a rather complete picture of my personality, which is of great interest to entities that would like to convince me of something. The ability for them to do so is rapidly outpacing the understanding consumers have of what the consequences are of such (purportedly) minor information collecton. Also, participation in the modern world (by which I mean such basic things like emailing your friend or calling on the phone) entails information release to private corporations that is pretty much unavoidable. It is consensual in name only.

One example: if you send an Email to a gmail.com address, the terms of service permit google to read that private email and build a profile on you, even if you have no relationship to google at all. That is because the recipient has already consented to letting google read and comb their incoming emails. Google is thus "off the hook"; it is your friend who is violating your trust, and your friend probably doesn't know (or care) that they're doing it. This only works because google is so entrenched in our lives (whether we use it or not). Don't even get me started on facebook!

I'm not sure what this has to do with a CW though. It's not like a CW will make any of this go away.

Jose
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:37 pm UTC

ucim wrote:This is not true, except as a technicality. The modern world is opaque enough that consent is often given where informed consent is well-nigh impossible. Big Data is a big part of this; in principle I don't mind that somebody (or some company) knows what I bought for breakfast. However, it turns out that enough of this kind of data paints a rather complete picture of my personality, which is of great interest to entities that would like to convince me of something. The ability for them to do so is rapidly outpacing the understanding consumers have of what the consequences are of such (purportedly) minor information collecton. Also, participation in the modern world (by which I mean such basic things like emailing your friend or calling on the phone) entails information release to private corporations that is pretty much unavoidable. It is consensual in name only.

One example: if you send an Email to a gmail.com address, the terms of service permit google to read that private email and build a profile on you, even if you have no relationship to google at all. That is because the recipient has already consented to letting google read and comb their incoming emails. Google is thus "off the hook"; it is your friend who is violating your trust, and your friend probably doesn't know (or care) that they're doing it. This only works because google is so entrenched in our lives (whether we use it or not). Don't even get me started on facebook!

I'm not sure what this has to do with a CW though. It's not like a CW will make any of this go away.

Jose
Exactly, and this is an excellent example of corporate collaboration with the state -- the recent NSA kerfluffle USA-side demonstrates very vividly abuses of power aren't merely expressions of the state; they're expressions of multiple entities (sometimes the state, sometimes not!) pooling their considerable resources toward some often mutually beneficial set of ends.

Here's the thing that worries me about what you're saying, Ormurrin: It sounds like you believe tyranny is a property exclusive to the state. And that's an incredibly dangerous belief to hold, particularly in our modern world.

I don't oppose the state; I don't oppose corporations. I oppose tyranny. Tyranny comes in a multitude of forms -- state abuse of power is just one of them. When you believe the state has a monopoly on tyranny, you've given tyranny a very dangerous power: Invisibility. You become incapable of noticing all the tyranny going on around you that isn't performed at the hands of the state.

Many of us live in deeply dysfunctional societies. The dysfunction is not merely a byproduct of state-power; it's a product of multiple interests -- states, corporations, political groups, etc -- all with power over their various spheres, all collaborating to meet their various ends, creating a landscape of confusion and toxicity.

To put this another way: To presume that tyranny is solely a product of the state is to grant everyone other than the state the power to tyrannize you. It's a critical weakness -- and one that many in the world today will be happy to exploit.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:22 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Exactly, and this is an excellent example of corporate collaboration with the state -- the recent NSA kerfluffle USA-side demonstrates very vividly abuses of power aren't merely expressions of the state; they're expressions of multiple entities (sometimes the state, sometimes not!) pooling their considerable resources toward some often mutually beneficial set of ends.
True, but my point is that abuses of power do not need to involve the state at all. Sure, the state can join in, but the abuse exists independent of the state. Most people are blind to it, and helpless in its shadow.

Jose
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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:43 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:Exactly, and this is an excellent example of corporate collaboration with the state -- the recent NSA kerfluffle USA-side demonstrates very vividly abuses of power aren't merely expressions of the state; they're expressions of multiple entities (sometimes the state, sometimes not!) pooling their considerable resources toward some often mutually beneficial set of ends.
True, but my point is that abuses of power do not need to involve the state at all. Sure, the state can join in, but the abuse exists independent of the state. Most people are blind to it, and helpless in its shadow.

Jose
Right, that's what I just said (and agreed with you on); see the part of my post you quoted where I say 'sometimes the state, sometimes not!'. The NSA kerfluffle involved collaboration between state power and corporate entities, but -- as you are saying -- there are plenty of examples of power-abuse that don't really involve the state at all.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:51 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Here's the thing that worries me about what you're saying, Ormurrin: It sounds like you believe tyranny is a property exclusive to the state. And that's an incredibly dangerous belief to hold, particularly in our modern world.


Anyone can abuse power, but it is rational to worry more about state abuse at a certain level. I do not think any modern corporation has quite the body count of some of the governments we've seen in the modern era. Both are capable of going off the rails in exactly the same way, but a state being much larger than a corporation, has a great deal more power to abuse.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:18 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Anyone can abuse power, but it is rational to worry more about state abuse at a certain level. I do not think any modern corporation has quite the body count of some of the governments we've seen in the modern era. Both are capable of going off the rails in exactly the same way, but a state being much larger than a corporation, has a great deal more power to abuse.
Yes -- within a certain context, and with certain qualifiers put into place, it can be reasonable to worry more about state power than corporate power! This is trivially true -- and isn't relevant to what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the belief that a state's power is definitionally more dangerous/corrupt/tyrannical than any other type of power, and I'm specifically criticizing the notion that the state is always the primary malefactor re: tyranny. As you pointed out yourself, fascism is largely made possible when corporate interests and government interests are made to coincide.

Those who believe the only type of power that leads to tyranny is state power stand in defiance of reality. Tyranny happens when power is concentrated in the hands of a few -- and there are a remarkable number of types of power. Economic power can destroy lives just as quickly as state power; even worse, economic power can (and does) buy the state.

A healthy government acts as a third party to counterbalance the extraordinary gap of power between individuals and corporate entities. An unhealthy government collaborates with corporate entities to knife you in an alleyway and rifle through your pockets for loose change. What's happening in America is partly the growth of governmental power in response to the growth of corporate power -- but rather than counterbalancing corporate power, the government is colluding with them. They're both trying to fuck us -- and they're only getting progressively better at it.

Basically, this shit is complicated, yo -- and I grow wary when people start talking like there's just one problem.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby morriswalters » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:11 pm UTC

Why would you believe there is really any difference?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:19 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Why would you believe there is really any difference?
Difference in what?

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:18 am UTC

Between state power and corporate power. They are both amoral. And money pushes the buttons of both. The bulk of the government isn't elected, and its primary purpose is to perpetrate itself. Which is also true of corporations. And they are heavily commingled by various processes. However this is in the nature of an opinion and I can't support it.

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Re: Citizen's Wage

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:38 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Between state power and corporate power. They are both amoral. And money pushes the buttons of both. The bulk of the government isn't elected, and its primary purpose is to perpetrate itself. Which is also true of corporations. And they are heavily commingled by various processes. However this is in the nature of an opinion and I can't support it.
I'm talking about the actual, concrete differences in power; not the moral differences.

The state has a different set of powers than the corporation. The state has a monopoly on applying violence in pursuit of law, for example.


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