Capitalism and Poverty

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Do you agree with the idea that capitalism encourages people to overlook and demonize the poor?

Yes
60
52%
No
56
48%
 
Total votes: 116

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:26 pm UTC

In a fair society, why should your father be able to inherit wealth when another person who did not have a succesful father should not. The only down side to this is that business creates jobs, and that would lose jobs for those who worked in your grandfathers company, which would have a negative impact on society.

But in other instances, for example inheritance of money, then yes I do believe it should all go to the state. This does become more difficult if an item to be inherited has emotional value to the family. It would seem unjust (in my scenario) this being sold off by the government.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

MarshyMarsh wrote:But in other instances, for example inheritance of money, then yes I do believe it should all go to the state.


I find the notion of depriving someone of their inheritance to be a violation of human rights.
Similarly, I find the notion of forcing someone to work their entire life, only to be allowed the same luxuries as someone who didn't, couldn't, or wouldn't, a violation of human rights.

Capitalism isn't perfect, which is why we have many socialized systems in America. But the alternatives to limiting a free market are ghastly and frighteningly worse.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

MarshyMarsh wrote:In a fair society, why should your father be able to inherit wealth when another person who did not have a succesful father should not.

The fairness is that anyone can inherit wealth, there are no restrictions in place preventing it. The "unfairness" is that not everyone has wealth to inherit. You're blurring the line between having equal rights and enforcing economic equality.

But enforcing economic equality requires eliminating equal (property) rights. And can only be accomplished in communist system. Which is just fine and great and all, but not helpful to this discussion.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:24 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
MarshyMarsh wrote:Charity does serve to demonise the poor.


I vehemently disagree. I think charity if anything, serves to demonize the rich. It says Look at you who can afford your absurd lifestyle when someone is dying of malnutrition. You can pay for this person in their entirety if you give just this small fraction of your income. So... You give just that small fraction? Why don't you give more?



I would also vehemently disagree. The poor are demonized as they are almost 'blackmailed' into giving to charity even if they cannot afford it. The Rich may give more in dollars (or whatever currency) in Charity, but in proportion to their wealth they do no, £2 a month can be alot to a typical poor family. The poor are also much more likely to give to Charity as they are able to empathise as they are more likely to receive charity. Many charities also take of a nice healthy Admin fee, which often helps pay expensive CEOs, the CEOs are effectively exploiting the poor for money. I only give the charities that take a very small admin fee or are completely volunter based.

By using emotional advertising material the poor (typically not as well educated), are exploited by many charities who are not only helping others, but making a tidy profit on the top.

This site is very useful (EDIT: if you live in the US): http://www.charitynavigator.org/

As far as giving aid to over countries, then charities are helping. But ultimately, especially emergency aid, is given by UN or the military, which is funded by the governments of its consituent countries. Giving to charity is a good thing, but a non-voluntary give to charity would benefit more people, especially if this money was used to help the poor or those in need. If someone wished to donate more they could, but those who chose not to help still have to give a small percentage of their money. Call it Charity tax.

I come from the UK so have no idea how reputible ABC is, this article seemed to be very right wing, however it does boast some statistics that the poor give more percentage of their wealth.
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Story?id=2682730&page=2

This is fairly irrelevant to te subject at hand, but was nice to explore.

This doesn't mean they are demonised by Capitalism, I would say that the only class to demonise the poor is the Upper, as this class has died out in many countries, I would argue that the poor are not demonised.
I apologize for bringing in a Communist aspect to this discussion, the issue at hand should be discussed. However looking at the opposite to the current system is a good way of exploring in a debate.
Last edited by MarshyMarsh on Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:36 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby mewshi » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:25 pm UTC

Azrael, I think what they are saying is that capitalism, which I can best describe as economic darwinism, postulates that the fittest in an economy will attain greater status - more success.

Which, in some cases, it does.

But you cannot tell me Paris Hilton is more economically fit than, say, a college professor.

Basically, what they are saying is that the idea that people can become wealthy by the sweat of their parents' brows, never lifting a finger in their life, while people who actually produce something useful to the economy remain relatively poor, goes against this notion. In many cases, it becomes a case of the horribly unfit benefitting from the fitness of their parents, while those more fit remain held back.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:41 pm UTC

mewshi wrote:which I can best describe as economic darwinism


I would disagree with this comparison, but it's fairly semantic. Darwinism implies only the best fit survive, and in a given market system, there can be plenty of people who aren't 'perfectly fit to survive' who are staying afloat. That said, Darwinism implies that the offspring are better able to survive in the system, and I think that is generally true.

mewshi wrote:But you cannot tell me Paris Hilton is more economically fit than, say, a college professor.


I guess time will tell what she does with her fortune and renown. It's no surprise to me that the majority of lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years.

mewshi wrote:Basically, what they are saying is that the idea that people can become wealthy by the sweat of their parents' brows, never lifting a finger in their life, while people who actually produce something useful to the economy remain relatively poor, goes against this notion. In many cases, it becomes a case of the horribly unfit benefitting from the fitness of their parents, while those more fit remain held back.


Yes, but this issue would also be found, in reverse, in socialism. And I don't believe that the 'more fit' remain held back.

MarshyMarsh wrote:The poor are demonized as they are almost 'blackmailed' into giving to charity even if they cannot afford it. The Rich may give more in dollars (or whatever currency) in Charity, but in proportion to their wealth they do not. The poor are much more likely to give to Charity as they are able to empathise as they are more likely to receive charity.


Really? Citation needed. If that is in fact true, I'm not sure what it says aside from that the poor in capitalist societies are still generous. I'm not sure if the poor are giving to charity because they expect some in return, but I would wager that proportionally, those who are below the poverty line and on social welfare of some sort or another, do not in fact give much in the way of charity. I could be wrong about that though.

MarshyMarsh wrote:As far as giving aid to over countries, then charities are helping. But ultimately, especially emergency aid, is given by UN or the military, which is funded by the governments of its consituent countries.


I suggest you look at the second link I provided a few pages back. The US is, without a doubt, the worlds largest contributor to foreign aid, to the tune of 25-some odd billion USD annually. No other country even comes close (I think the next was like 5B USD). For whatever you want to make of that, Americans, NOT THE US GOVERNMENT, outpace that foreign aid donation by ~5billion USD, putting out ~30billion USD to foreign causes annually. How do you posit that the government is the sole proprietor of the 'aiding the impoverished' domain, with statistics like that?

MarshyMarsh wrote:as this class has died out in many countries


Has it? Can you point to some info? I'm under the impression that world wide the wealth gap is widening.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:45 pm UTC

Ignoring momentarily that comparing capitalism to natural selection is, at best, disputed, i have an alternate perspective for the inheritance thing that i hope will help you understand why it isn't, y'know, evil.

Despite what your income tax forms might indicate, all wealth gained is earned*, it simply isn't always earned by the person who spends it. The sweat of someone's brow went into earning that wealth, and if their children can live off of it without working then that simply means they added enough to the economy for two (or more) people





*y'know, except stuff that involves theft, scams, and the like.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:04 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Really? Citation needed. If that is in fact true, I'm not sure what it says aside from that the poor in capitalist societies are still generous. I'm not sure if the poor are giving to charity because they expect some in return, but I would wager that proportionally, those who are below the poverty line and on social welfare of some sort or another, do not in fact give much in the way of charity. I could be wrong about that though.


I got this infomation from the ABC link I posted, they inturn got it from the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey.

Izawwlgood wrote:I suggest you look at the second link I provided a few pages back. The US is, without a doubt, the worlds largest contributor to foreign aid, to the tune of 25-some odd billion USD annually. No other country even comes close (I think the next was like 5B USD). For whatever you want to make of that, Americans, NOT THE US GOVERNMENT, outpace that foreign aid donation by ~5billion USD, putting out ~30billion USD to foreign causes annually. How do you posit that the government is the sole proprietor of the 'aiding the impoverished' domain, with statistics like that?


Even as I wrote my own argument, I wasn't clear what I myself was trying to get at. Yes the US citizens do give the most to foreign aid. But where do the helicopter, ships and many other equipment come from? I have yet to see a Chinook with OXFAM written on the side (any photoshoped image would bring a laugh to me). There is no doubt that the US citsens contributes alot to foreign aid, but simply giving money in my opinion is not enough. If you give your time, your resources and personel (which are controlled by a government) AND the HUGE amounts of revenue given by the charities and their personel then you can succesfully administer foreign aid. The US citizen simply transfering more money than anyone else is not necessarily the defining factor of charity.

Izawwlgood wrote:Has it? Can you point to some info? I'm under the impression that world wide the wealth gap is widening.


The world wealth gap is spreading. The Upper Class is by definition, the aristocracy, their wealth resides in the land they own. When the Industrial revolution came, those that had the economic intelligence invested their money. It is the extremely rich Upper Middle Class (of which we have mentioned Bill Gates, Paris Hilton ...etx...) that have the most wealth and are enlarging the gap.

I will gather some sources, but as the US has no aristocracy, then you will not witness it first hand. The upper-class was cited from Russia after 1917, the US effectively removed the Upper Class when it gained its independance. Remnants still remain in the UK, the F*ck*ng Fulfords are a prime celbrity example. Only a mile away from me is a huge estate, privately owned, which is owned by what would be defined as an Upper Class family, as their wealth is inherited and resides in the land. But to make money from your land you need to rent or sell it (in ye' old age you would farm it with peasants). As this land is sold the Upper Class (unless they invest the money, at which point they join the Upper-Middle Class) the class dies out.

This I have all learnt from my history lectures, we spent about 10 hours debating the ins an outs of social 'classes'. No one person ever falls into one class.

I am student, intellectually my class is middle-class as I am in further education.
However I work on the checkouts at tesco, so my job is lower-working class.
My wealth is not very much, so I am poor. So I am Lower Class.

Mostly, so far we have talked about the class sense in terms of wealth. I have been arguing from my own interpretation of what renders someone poor. We have mostly discussed Capitalism in its free-economy terms.
Last edited by MarshyMarsh on Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:13 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

To say that the majority of "old wealth's" assets reside in the land the own is incredibly naive. They have stock portfolios just like everyone else. Perhaps their social status or social class is tied to those assets, as a hold over from previous economic systems when the two were linked. But not anymore.

(Or the roles are reversed, in the very least - you once had to have social status in order to increase wealth vs now when wealth can 'buy' social status)

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:15 pm UTC

Which is why I said, at the time of Industrial Revolution. When the middle-class were able to generate much more wealth than the Upper Class. Many in the Upper Class invested their money, I am talking over a period of a families generations. An Upper-Class man may invest his wealth and play Stock very cleverly. His descendants however may not be economicly superior. The land they Originally owned slowly shrinks, thus the move from Upper Class to Middle Class (if they still have enough money).

Effectively today though we live in a classless system (or so many of us like to think). There is still a distinct difference in our society (especially here in the UK) between the classes, even though we are all meant to be equal.

I can remember meeting some people from a Private School when I first moved up to college. Being in the same classes and of similar intelligence we got on quit well. When I told them I lived on ".." (A social housing estate), the air changes, you can sense someone is looking down on you. You could call this paranoid, but later on when we got to no each other more, they ammited "When you said you came from ".." we thought you were a bit of a common Yob/Chav". This happens all over the UK, it may be different in the US, but the old class system still runs strong in our social day to day lives.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:19 pm UTC

Great, you've argued at length that the Aristocracy is losing it's economic influence. Which isn't a new or controversial idea in the least. I'd even go as far as to say that it's a widely accepted fact.

So what relevance does this have on ... anything in this thread?

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

As I said earlier

MarshyMarsh wrote:This doesn't mean they are demonised by Capitalism, I would say that the only class to demonise the poor is the Upper, as this class has died out in many countries, I would argue that the poor are not demonised.


The Upper-Classes would demonize the poor in Capitlistic society. In Britain, the conservatives at the time of the Liberal Reforms (early 1900s) were very much of that mind, they were mostly the aristocracy. It was the Liberal party (influenced by Rowntrees lectures on liberal society) that changed the attitudes, as the Upper Class slowly died out (as you said was virtually fact) the poor were demonized less and less.
I am just using this to back up that I think the poor are not demonised in a Capitalist society. I was just backing up those of similar mindset with my interpretation of the argument, this is a discussion after all.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:37 pm UTC

I've felt classism go both ways, in a variety of places. But regardless, the question as to whether or not the classes in America are widening or shortening or whatnot isn't terribly relevant here, as the OP question was 'does capitalism demonize the poor'.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:41 pm UTC

You cannot talk about Capitalism without talking about wealth. Depending on how much wealth you earn depends on what class you are. The poor have to be demonised by someone, I assumed we were arguing if society demonises the poor. I argued that the different classes in society may/may not. It is very relevent.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:43 pm UTC

... but the Aristocracy isn't part of a capitalistic society. It's a hold over from non-capitalistic economies. Anyhow.

-------------------------
mewshi wrote:Azrael, I think what they are saying is that capitalism, which I can best describe as economic darwinism, postulates that the fittest in an economy will attain greater status - more success ... But you cannot tell me Paris Hilton is more economically fit than, say, a college professor ...

If Capitalism is Economic Darwinism and yet Paris Hilton is not "more fit" than we should ... take away the inheritance of wealth? I think we should instead realize that Economic Darwinism is not a perfect model of Capitalism and move on from trying to bend a system to fit a bad analogy. But, if you'd like to stick with it just look at it from the perspective of the offspring. The parents have passed on *really* good economic material in this model, instead of genetic material. The survival of the offspring is significantly easier because of what's been passed down. That seems to fit the survival of the (economically) fittest to me. Remember that Darwin wasn't referring to the survival of the individual animal, but a [lineage / species / genetic material]. Preventing inheritance would be like ... sterilizing the [strongest/fastest/heartiest] specimens of a species. Wealth is the same as good genetic material in this model, after all.

-------------------------

It's also important to note that wealth gain is not tied directly to the amount or difficulty of work done in a capitalistic society -- compensation is tied to the utility of the work done. People get paid more for work that the market deems to have more utility.

So there's a pretty solid argument that Capitalist society values high-utility work over low-utility work. Since (almost by definition) the poor are the ones doing low-utility work, the question is roughly equivalent to "Do people disparage those in low-utility jobs." And I'm pretty confident saying "Yes."

And even my own follow up line would've pretty accurately demonstrated that: "But someone has to do those jobs." Oops.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

Fine, to tie of my whole class rant, before a free-economy, the poor were demonized. But within a free economy there and the lack of an Upper Class the poor are not demonized.

------------------------------

But in response to the above post, I would argue that your success in a free-economy does = work done. Paris Hilton will pay her PAs to drum up business, from which she will regain more money than she put in for the work by the PA. She will put her money into a bank, upon which some clever Stock Market Analyst will use that money to generate more money. The work he has done equals the wealth gained by Paris Hilton.
Also there's a pretty solid argument that Capitalism values high-utility work over low-utility work. Since (almost by definition) the poor are the ones doing low-utility work, the question becomes "Do people disparage those in low-utility jobs." And I'm pretty confident saying "Yes."


You cold also argue that the job of Paris Hilton's PA, in regards of it's usefullness to Capitalism is low-ultility, yet it creates high returns.
I would also say that those in low-utility jobs disparge those in high-utility jobs.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:52 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:Do people disparage those in low-utility jobs." And I'm pretty confident saying "Yes."
And even my own follow up line would've pretty accurately demonstrated that: "But someone has to do those jobs." Oops.


Is your definition of disparage in this case then 'paying someone to do something you don't want to'? I don't think the mere existence of such a so called 'low-utility job' indicates demonization. The prevalence of maid services, landscapers, and relatively high wages paid to city laborers tells me that jobs most would deem 'low-utility' and thus demonizing, are not.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:56 pm UTC

Izawllgood gave a much better analogy than me, I would like to side with what he said.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:08 pm UTC

MarshyMarsh wrote:You cold also argue that the job of Paris Hilton's PA, in regards of it's usefulness to Capitalism is low-utility, yet it creates high returns.

Actually, no. You couldn't argue that. High return = High utility. That's what makes it high-utility. That's why stockbrokers get paid more than ... I dunno, landscapers?

MarshyMarsh wrote:I would also say that those in low-utility jobs disparage those in high-utility jobs.
I think the word you're looking for is "resent". But maybe you just don't quite see the distinction in utility, so let's make it clear: high utility jobs are the ones that [theoretically] get paid more.

If we've gotten to the point where we have to argue whether society values high-utility jobs over low-utility, something's amiss. That seems like perfectly clear fact to me - so ingrained in our cultural landscape that despite how much we'd rather it *not* be the case, everyone understands somewhere that it *is* the case. Bad example on soooo many levels, but:

Which would the average Stereotypical Person of The Gender You're Find Attractive prefer you to be, upon getting to know you for a first date, if all other considerations were equal: A part time temp worker at the local garbage dump or ... a successful small business owner?

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby WaywardAngel » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:14 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:we both agree that there are other factors in place, that capitalism is not the reason black people in America (or hell, minorities in general) are disproportionately more proverty stricken.


Just thought I'd throw some statistics out there for those who might want to question this assertion. I agree that racism is still a significant issue in America, and that it does influence social mobility for minorities, but even if we look at social mobility in general, it still seems that America is lagging way behind less comprehensively capitalist democracies. In absolute terms:

"[in the US] Children born to parents with income on the bottom rung of the ladder are highly likely (42 percent) to also be in the bottom rung in adulthood, while those born to parents on the top rung are very likely to stay at the top (39 percent)." - Economic Mobility Project, 'Economic Mobility in America'

If we look at things relatively speaking:

"About half (50 percent) of parental earnings advantages are passed onto sons in the United States compared to less than 20 percent in high-mobility European countries." - Ibid.

And another statistic:

"42 percent of American men born into the poorest fifth of families stay in the bottom fifth of the earnings distribution as adults, compared to 25 to 30 percent in some other countries." - Ibid.

You may well ask about the relative mobility of racial minorities, and here we're all agreed:

"Almost half (45 percent) of black children whose parents were solidly middle income end up falling to the bottom of the income distribution, compared to only 16 percent of white children." -Ibid.

Yet even taking such factors into account, "the best available evidence suggests that the U.S. stands out as having less, not more, intergenerational relative mobility than Canada and several European countries" - Ibid.

What conclusions can we draw from this? Firstly, it seems that (ceteris paribus) a poor person in America has less chance of upward economic mobility than in European countries with greater social provision of high quality healthcare, education etc.

Does this have an impact on American attitudes towards poor people? It's obviously hard to quantify such things, but I found it interesting that (in the US) sympathetic attitudes towards poverty surged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, particularly among minorities, for example:

'When asked, "What do you think should be the most important priority for the U.S.?" 58 percent of blacks chose "eliminating poverty" over "rebuilding our own cities,""fighting terrorism," and "establishing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan,"' - Peter Prengaman, Associated Press, Friday, October 28, 2005

What's the upshot of all this? It seems that laissez-faire capitalism in America reduces social mobility, while simultaneously endorsing 'the American dream' of rags-to-riches. While this doesn't constitute demonising the poor, it does seem to encourage attitudes which bear little relation to the facts.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby MarshyMarsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:22 pm UTC

Ok, I mis-interpreted the point you were striving at. And I do not want to get into a 'perfect' society argument. But you have made a very rational generalization of those in high-utility jobs;

Azrael wrote:Which would the average Stereotypical Person of The Gender You're Find Attractive prefer you to be, upon getting to know you for a first date, if all other considerations were equal: A part time temp worker at the local garbage dump or ... a successful small business owner?


Are you saying that genetic attraction is wholly to do with the utility of their job? I assume you mean that based on their jobs, who can provide a better home, support for children, security. Then yes the Business owner is the prime example (well maybe not in our current economic crisis), but that type of attitude with which you present is likely to bring back a stronger class system, if I was a full time business owner I would probably look for a part time or no time mate, someone who is in a low-utility job. This goes against the disparging argument. Going 'cross-gender' then I would say a high-utility employed person is less likely to disparage a low-utiluty person.

I cannot support my argument with sources, as we are talking about people's personal preference. I have made a very large generalisation, as did you.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:24 pm UTC

MarshyMarsh wrote:Are you saying that genetic attraction is wholly to do with the utility of their job?

No, I'm not saying that - "all other considerations are equal". But you've demonstrated my point anyhow by choosing the one with the 'better' job.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby WaywardAngel » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:28 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
MarshyMarsh wrote:You cold also argue that the job of Paris Hilton's PA, in regards of it's usefulness to Capitalism is low-utility, yet it creates high returns.

Actually, no. You couldn't argue that. High return = High utility. That's what makes it high-utility. That's why stockbrokers get paid more than ... I dunno, landscapers?

MarshyMarsh wrote:I would also say that those in low-utility jobs disparage those in high-utility jobs.
I think the word you're looking for is "resent". But maybe you just don't quite see the distinction in utility, so let's make it clear: high utility jobs are the ones that [should/do] get paid more.

If we've gotten to the point where we have to argue whether society values high-utility jobs over low-utility, something's amiss. That seems like perfectly clear fact to me - so ingrained in our cultural landscape that despite how much we'd rather it *not* be the case, everyone understands somewhere that it *is* the case.


I see where you're coming from, and it makes sense, but it seems you're conflating 'society' with 'the free market'. The free market values high-utility jobs i.e. ones which provide high returns. Society as a whole includes much more than the free market; I'd argue that as a society we tend to place a high value on lots of jobs which aren't the best paid: e.g. fire-fighters, teachers, nurses...

Not sure quite where this is going, but it's something to do with the idea that identifying people with their monetary worth is specifically a capitalist phenomenon, but that it's not yet all-pervasive. Thus capitalism may encourage us to look down on poor people, but our knowledge that the free market isn't the be-all and end-all reminds us that they're still our equals.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:44 pm UTC

WaywardAngel wrote:I see where you're coming from, and it makes sense, but it seems you're conflating 'society' with 'the free market'. The free market values high-utility jobs i.e. ones which provide high returns. Society as a whole includes much more than the free market; I'd argue that as a society we tend to place a high value on lots of jobs which aren't the best paid: e.g. fire-fighters, teachers, nurses...

It only 'seems'? Well, capitalism can't 'demonize' or even 'disparage' so a certain amount of fusing between market and society is sorta necessary here. Starting with just capitalism, it's can't value high-utility job, the market merely assigns a utility to each job. It's within a society that embraces capitalistic ideals that the judgment or value statement is made.

And that's pretty much the entirety of my thought: Capitalistic societies value high-utility jobs. And since the poor are the ones doing the low-utility jobs ...

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:07 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:And that's pretty much the entirety of my thought: Capitalistic societies value high-utility jobs. And since the poor are the ones doing the low-utility jobs


I don't think the phenomenon of finding the wealthy attractive is A) unique to capitalism and B) indicative of high vs. low paying job reproductive benefits.

A) Nations across the world would answer in favor of the more 'successful' choice, and that is different from demonizing the poor. While I agree that capitalist systems tend to value accumulated wealth as a metric of success higher then other qualifiers, I don' think that means the opposite is true.

B) That said however, considering that the poor statistically also have more children seems to indicate the we might both be looking at this backwards.

But in further response to your assertion that the poor are the one's doing low-utility jobs, there are a variety of entrepreneurial individuals who have taken said low-utility jobs and done quite well with them. Chicago alone has more then 20 on call maid services, the summer I spent doing landscaping earned me more then I make now in the sciences, and I think that this sort of capitalist spirit in the midst of 'low-utility' jobs is demonstrative of the system not demonizing the poor.

Yes, of course there are crappy jobs out there that are only fit for the minimally educated, for which we provide next to no benefits and next to no rewards. I would object strongly to them being 'compensated' or 'supported' by the system enough so that they have the same spending power as say, a teacher, but wouldn't for a second suggest that because such a person was unable to find/keep/work a better job, that they should be kicked to the curb. There's a world of difference between capitalism, a system that allows for free markets, and feudalism, a system that exploits the poor and affords them no chance of changing their circumstance.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby WaywardAngel » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:09 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
WaywardAngel wrote:I see where you're coming from, and it makes sense, but it seems you're conflating 'society' with 'the free market'. The free market values high-utility jobs i.e. ones which provide high returns. Society as a whole includes much more than the free market; I'd argue that as a society we tend to place a high value on lots of jobs which aren't the best paid: e.g. fire-fighters, teachers, nurses...


It only 'seems'? Well, capitalism can't 'demonize' or even 'disparage' so a certain amount of fusing between market and society is sorta necessary here. Starting with just capitalism, it's can't value high-utility job, the market merely assigns a utility to each job. It's within a society that embraces capitalistic ideals that the judgment or value statement is made.

And that's pretty much the entirety of my thought: Capitalistic societies value high-utility jobs. And since the poor are the ones doing the low-utility jobs ...


You're right, I phrased myself badly. A society's ideology can be partly capitalistic, but even in the US the free market doesn't encompass the whole of society; it's similar to Hegel's distinction between civil society (i.e. the part of society where we interact as individuals in a free market) and the state (the part where we come together as a community and decide how we want to live collectively).

You could even see it in Marx's distinction between exchange-value (the relative value placed on a good or service by the free market) and use-value (how much use/benefit individuals actually gain from it). If you want me to go into this in more depth I will, but it would take a while and I'm pretty sure you get the idea. I'm saying that we have at least two conflicting senses of utility, and only the capitalist-style version leads us to look down upon those who are poor.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:40 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:But in further response to your assertion that the poor are the one's doing low-utility jobs, there are a variety of entrepreneurial individuals who have taken said low-utility jobs and done quite well with them. Chicago alone has more then 20 on call maid services, the summer I spent doing landscaping earned me more then I make now in the sciences, and I think that this sort of capitalist spirit in the midst of 'low-utility' jobs is demonstrative of the system not demonizing the poor.
Our views don't really differ by much, but I'd like to point out that if someone is "doing quite well" with a job, then not only are they not poor, but the market has valued their job as having a high utility.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:I'd like to point out that if someone is "doing quite well" with a job, then not only are they not poor, but the market has valued their job as having a high utility.


Good point. Then if you are saying 'does capitalism demonize those stuck with really shitty low income jobs', I would posit that it does so no more then any other system. I can't imagine communists look to their fellow man and say "I'm glad the system cares for that guy who does significantly less then I do, exactly as well as it cares for me, hard working Joe".

I assume that capitalists hate the poor for failure in the same regard that communists hate the lazy for sucking off the system? That is to say, no more or less then any reasonable human being in any form of market/governance system would?

At what point in the argument are we able to say "Lazy people garner disrespect from their fellow human being" and not be labeled a bourgeois-pig? Either capitalism loathes the poor and other systems don't, or we come to the notion that peoples place in their community/society is at least somewhat linked to their 'productivity'. The latter of which isn't particularly compelling.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby phonon266737 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:17 am UTC

On the subject of "low -utility jobs" - are trades such as carpenter, plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, HVAC technician, etc, considered "low utility" ? Landscaping, construction, the list goes on and on.. these are all jobs with high utility and low cost of entry. If capitalism is working well and the middle class is buying houses and living the "american dream" , then there will be great demand for these services. Anyone who takes the opportunity can join in! The police and military are other career paths which provides an oportunity for poor people to recieve good pay and training in return for service to the government.

Then you have the jobs noone wants - maids/janitors, meter readers, cashiers, retail, standing on the side of the highway holding a billboard. These are the jobs that many people feel should pay "living wage" - meaning that a full time cashier shouldbe able to support a small family on that job. Others feel that these are entry-level jobs, and high minimum wage restricts acess to them. In either case, they exist, but if you are working these jobs you tend to be poor and not going anywhere unless you are actively trying to get a better job - which is not to say "job searching" , but rather learning how to do plumbing off the clock at your facilities management janitorial job for the local college.
The sad thing is that when capitalism stops working and money gets tight, these jobs are often the first to go. many people are perectly capable of cleaning thier own bathroom and the store manager can run the register during the slow shift. However, they can't re-shingle a leaky roof and the manager can't fix his own car when it breaks down.

Are the "haves" entitled to do their own labor, rather than pay a "have not" to do it for them when money is tight? Or is cutting the minimum wage jobs considered "demonization"

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Lemminkainen » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:32 am UTC

phonon266737 wrote:On the subject of "low -utility jobs" - are trades such as carpenter, plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, HVAC technician, etc, considered "low utility" ? Landscaping, construction, the list goes on and on.. these are all jobs with high utility and low cost of entry. If capitalism is working well and the middle class is buying houses and living the "american dream" , then there will be great demand for these services. Anyone who takes the opportunity can join in! The police and military are other career paths which provides an oportunity for poor people to recieve good pay and training in return for service to the government.

Then you have the jobs noone wants - maids/janitors, meter readers, cashiers, retail, standing on the side of the highway holding a billboard. These are the jobs that many people feel should pay "living wage" - meaning that a full time cashier shouldbe able to support a small family on that job. Others feel that these are entry-level jobs, and high minimum wage restricts acess to them. In either case, they exist, but if you are working these jobs you tend to be poor and not going anywhere unless you are actively trying to get a better job - which is not to say "job searching" , but rather learning how to do plumbing off the clock at your facilities management janitorial job for the local college.
The sad thing is that when capitalism stops working and money gets tight, these jobs are often the first to go. many people are perectly capable of cleaning thier own bathroom and the store manager can run the register during the slow shift. However, they can't re-shingle a leaky roof and the manager can't fix his own car when it breaks down.

Are the "haves" entitled to do their own labor, rather than pay a "have not" to do it for them when money is tight? Or is cutting the minimum wage jobs considered "demonization"

The thing is, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and the like obviously are not low-utility, as these people are actually fairly well-paid for their services. In general, the amount that one is paid for work is equal to the value of that work-- people are willing to pay until the marginal utility of hiring someone is less than the marginal cost of doing so. Thus, high-utility workers are paid more. In an economic downturn, the marginal benefit of each additional cashier or meter-reader is reduced, and as money is tighter, the remaining amount is more valuable, so you'll hire fewer of them. However, the utility of people with skills is less elastic, and they won't be cut as often because they are more valuable to their employers than their counterparts.

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby phonon266737 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:31 am UTC

2 questions:

1 - Does each and every human have a right to
a: have an employer
b: be valued by that employer enough that the employer is willing to support their family above the poverty level

2 - Does the existence of the poor provide downward pressure on the cost of necessities (food, housing, transportation, energy)
The inverse of this could be "Would a society without poor suffer price inflation until the poor existed again"

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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby TheStranger » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:23 pm UTC

phonon266737 wrote:1 - Does each and every human have a right to
a: have an employer
b: be valued by that employer enough that the employer is willing to support their family above the poverty level


No, nobody has a right to an employer... or to be paid above a certain amount. Employment is a voluntary agreement entered into by two individuals, or between an individual and a larger group (such as a corporation), and compensation for services rendered is part of that agreement. If a potential employee does not want to take the job for the given amount then the employer can look for someone who will.

2 - Does the existence of the poor provide downward pressure on the cost of necessities (food, housing, transportation, energy)
The inverse of this could be "Would a society without poor suffer price inflation until the poor existed again"


The "Poor" as defined by 'those who have the least' will exist in any system. Another way to see it is that people will always see the 'poor' as those at the bottom of the economic ladder, without regard for where the bottom of the ladder sits.
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Re: Capitalism and Poverty

Postby Philwelch » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

MarshyMarsh wrote:Hmm, there are land owners, but not in the same typical European fasion. The British, French, Germans, Spanish, Polish, Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Italians ...etc... all had a 'superior' class, the autocracy who owned the land which the working class tilled (basic feudalism). With the introduction of moss production, and enteprise. A new UPPER (key word)- middle class rose. Business men who are wealthier than the Upper Class. Bill Gates is not Upper Class, he is Upper Middle Class.


From a European standpoint. The last vestiges of that type of system in the United States only really existed in the South though. One advantage of living in a country with tons of land: no reason to restrict land-ownership on a feudalist basis. For generations, being even a modestly successful American has meant buying a house (and the land that it's built upon).

Capitalism didn't really work the same way in America that it worked in Europe. America's aristocratic ruling class for the most part willingly abandoned their aristocracy. Much of their land has been turned into federal property, and the rest of it was subdivided and sold to peons in such a way that, apparently, not even the European aristocracy has done yet. We don't have any vestigial feudalism left over on this side of the pond.

Now, back to the point.

Poverty is the state of nature. Outside of small feudualistic elites, I don't think any sustainable and humane escape from this state of nature has been discovered other than capitalism. (Stalinism created an industrial base but not a long-term workable peacetime economy, and at the expense of millions of lives.) Now, it's true that a market economy does allow people to become and remain poor, to put it delicately. Even a perfect market economy would result in economic inequality.

But when you look at absolute poverty? In most real-world capitalistic systems, it doesn't really happen all that much. In America, "poor" people have (or can have) cable TV, microwave ovens, and obesity. Absolute poverty in America means being homeless—everyone else can get by, by hook or by crook. The relative poor in America—the fat, microwave-oven-using, cable-TV-watching poor—have escaped the state of nature of real poverty more effectively than most kings throughout history.

Those least able to make themselves productive, in a perfect market system, will be relatively poor. Even in a mostly-perfect market system that's only burdened with a fair tax that provides for an efficient welfare system (glossing over all the arguments about how that's implemented), some folks are gonna have enough to be rescued from absolute poverty without much more. And these people will be perceived as less productive. Which, I guess, degrades them in the eyes of those who value productivity, but I'd say it's worth it.
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