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There are two fruitcake religions infecting the USA right now: Kristianity and Ferengiism. By Ferengiism I mean the belief
that you must do whatever makes you the most money no matter what the short or long term consequences to yourself
or others. It is the state corporate religion.
~ Roedy(born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)
If you knew, as I do, the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing some of it.
~ Gautama Buddha(born: 563 BC died: 483 BC at age: 80)
The basic philosophy of capitalism is sound — give people what they want rather than what someone else thinks
they should want. Capitalism has been a resounding success. It has brought us an immense bounty of material goods and
services. It has an almost magical ability to allocate resources to organise the flow of goods and services. This
success has lead us to believe it is a perfect system, and must not be modified in any way. It has almost become a
religion with its fanatical Fatwa defenders.
I wish to argue that capitalism still has some problems. I am not advocating abandoning it. Clearly it is the best
approach mankind has developed so far. I merely want to point out that it needs some fine tuning to deal with certain
classes of problem.
The Problems with Capitalism
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search
for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
~ John Kenneth Galbraith(born: 1908-10-15 died: 2006-04-29 at age: 97)
The biggest problem with capitalism is that its solutions are based purely on short term economics, how to
provide a given service most cheaply to the consumer. Only producer and consumer are involved. However, in the
process of providing that service, many others may be adversely affected, especially in the long term. They have
no input into the decision making process. Examples would include such things as cars that pollute, boom boxes
that can be heard for blocks, snowmobiles designed to harass wildlife, harsh chemicals that kill fish when
improperly disposed of, or in an extreme case, atomic weapons. Capitalism fails to consider the big picture. It
is sort of like looking at the world through gold-coloured glasses. It has no way of considering non-economic
factors in decision making.
The producer always acts to maximise his profit. This sometimes leads him to do things that are wasteful or
irritating to the consumer, e.g. nylons than deliberately run, razor blades that deliberately go dull quickly, or
light bulbs that burn out quickly. He may kill millions of dolphins in order to catch tuna for one cent less a
There are costs that are hard to allocate, e.g. the costs of recycling an automobile. Since the original producer
does not pay these costs, he has no incentive to make his automobiles easy to recycle.
Market Leader Advantage
The market leader has a huge advantage over his competitors. He has capital to buy them up. He can use
Microsoftian strategies to lock customers into his products. He can use huge advertising budgets to persuade
customers to pay more for inferior products. He can buy off politicians to rig the laws in his favour.
The Bad Pushes Out the Good
In Thailand, a toy company makes dolls for companies like Mattel and Tyco, toys like Simpsons characters,
Barbies, and plush elephants.
There was a big fire and most of the workers died because they were locked in the building. The few that did
survive jumped out of third story buildings, and the survivors were the ones who were cushioned by falling on
their coworkers below.
Capitalism made the owner of that building lock the workers in. If he did not do that, a rival company would
and that other company would be marginally more profitable, and would put a company that had proper ways of
dealing with fire out of business. The bad and unscrupulous push out the good and ethical. Any decent people are
put out of business by unscrupulous ones.
In a similar way, seeking maximum profit compels companies to cut wages, reduce benefits, ignore worker
safety, pollute and cheat. It is not enough for a company to be profitable. It must be the most profitable
This building was in Thailand where there are no government regulations to protect workers. In such
circumstances, capitalism forces the employer to spend nothing on fire protection, and to lock workers into
prevent theft or taking breaks. Were it not for government regulation curbing the capitalist drive for maximum
profit, we would see similar tragedies in Canada and the USA.
Capitalism has a short term outlook. It difficult to attract money for example to develop a new antibiotic that
may not be needed for another decade, but which will take seven years to create. We may even know that such an
antibiotic will be desperately needed in a decade. There are too many other projects competing for capital
with a faster payback. We will run out of fossil fuels in a mere 30 to 60 years, yet
capitalism is incapable of getting on with the long range preparation needed. It tends to only look ahead about a
year. Most of what goes on in the stock market is speculation (that is gambling) based on hours or days. It has
nothing whatsoever to do with investing in new businesses that will produce new products. A society that has no
long-term values is a jungle. It is not a civilisation any more.
Capitalism turns productive citizens into drones who do no useful work. All they do is buy and sell stocks and
live off the interest. An entrepreneur who creates a business does useful work. Someone who investigates
businesses to see which deserve capital invested in them does useful work. However, the person who just sits back
and earns a living off interest, or plays all day buying and selling stocks is not producing anything useful. He
is just engaging in respectable form of gambling. These people are little better than welfare bums in terms of
the way they are investing their time. America has abandoned productive manufacturing and moved to
profitable, but utterly non-productive, money management service industries. They do this because can make
hundreds of times more money than through legitimate investment. It is economic masturbation.
Profit becomes the only motive for business decisions. This leads us as a species to do some very odd things. For
example, we as a species have now developed the technology to totally wipe out the AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) plague. However, we
refuse to use it, because our capitalist mentality insists that every person taking a medication must pay equally
for it. It does not matter that the cost would be trivial to produce the medication to wipe out the plague now
that the difficult work of developing the drugs has been done. Further, we don’t wipe out AIDS because that
would be unprofitable. Maximum profit demands keeping the virus around infecting new customers. And finally we
don’t wipe out AIDS because we don’t have a way of allocating costs of projects that benefit every
world citizen. We have spent about 4 billion on researching new AIDS treatments but only 0.1 billion on finding a
vaccine to prevent new infections.
Capitalism is overheated. It aims for constant growth. It ignores the biological imperatives that all systems
must be closed and self-sustaining. In biology, constant growth is called cancer. We
can’t keep expanding the economy on a finite planet. You can expand quality of life, but you
can’t (and I mean can’t not shouldn’t) do it by ever expanding consumption
of natural resources. This problem is a side effect of capitalism’s narrow focus rather than considering
the big picture. Capitalists pushed the Newfoundland cod stock right to the point of extinction before they would
pay attention to what nature was telling them. Even then, the capitalist fishermen rioted demanding the right to
kill off the last few fish. The glamour of capitalism makes people ignore the harsh biological realities of life
on planet earth. They foolishly imagine the laws of economics trump the laws of physics and biology.
Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.
With capitalism as religion/life philosophy, those whose consumption is most conspicuous, have the highest
status. Waste as a positive value conflicts with the biological practicalities of a sustainable human population
on the planet. With 6 billion people to house and feed, we can no longer afford to waste resources.
Sometimes the vested economic interests work in favour of the society. For example, it is to the insurance
companies’ benefit if people have fewer accidents. So you find them lobbying for safer cars, fire safety
inspection etc. On the other hand, sometimes the vested interest works against society. Drug companies have a
vested interest in seeing their customers stay sick and continue buying their drugs. Food companies have a vested
interest in obesity by encouraging their customers to exercise less and eat more so they buy more food.
Gravity of Money
Consider the problem of the gravity of money. Money tends to flow toward those who already have a surplus of
money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The top 10% now make
82 times what the bottom 10% make in Canada. The
gap widens ever year. Why is this? Because of interest, those with more money tend to get more money and those
without tend to get even less, everything else being equal. The human mind gets into greed spirals where no
amount is enough. To feel good, not only must you have more than everyone else, you must also push everyone else
down as far as possible. The more money you get, the more powerful you get. The more powerful you get, the more
you can bully or exploit others into handing over their money to you, and into persuading the government to do
this for you. This creates a greed-power-money spiral. Unless there are checks, this will concentrate nearly all
the wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands. In Canada one man, Conrad Black, controls nearly all the
newspapers, TV and radio stations, and dictates their conservative editorial view. No politician dare challenge
him. A TV station toppled a socialist government by showing police arriving at the premier’s back door,
over and over and over for months even though there were never any charges. Capitalism, by itself, tends to
concentrate wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands. This same gravity of money principle works between
countries as well. Rich countries tend to get richer and poor countries poorer. The elite control the education
system and convince the masses that the gravity of money is a Good Thing™, and should be encouraged, not
In a stable system, the relative numbers of people at each income level remains constant. Individual people, of
course, become richer or poorer, but the distribution of incomes does not change. In the early days of man,
pretty well the only factor in production was labour and all labour was supremely valuable. However, in our
modern society, labour is much less important. Technology, capital and knowledge overshadow labour. Unskilled
labour is increasingly less valuable. Further, computers take over a greater proportion of skilled labour every
year. This leads to an instability, since labourers no longer have the clout they once had. The rich get richer
and the poor get poorer.
We can have a democratic society or we can have the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. We cannot
~ Louis Brandeis(born: 1856-11-13 died: 1941-10-05 at age: 84),
Court Justice from 1916— 1939
Ain’t We Got Fun
Bill collectors gather 'round and rather haunt the cottage next door,
Men the grocer and butcher sent,
Men who call for the rent.
But within, a happy chappy, and his bride of only a year,
Seem to be so cheerful,
Here’s an ear full of the chatter you hear:
Ain’t we got fun?
Not much money,
Oh but honey,
Ain’t We Got Fun?
The rent’s unpaid dear,
We haven’t a bus.
In the winter, in the summer,
Don’t we have fun?
Times are bum and getting bummer,
Still we have fun.
There’s nothing surer:
The rich get rich and the poor get poorer
In the meantime,
In between time,
Ain’t we got fun?
Just to make their trouble nearly double,
Something happen’d last night.
To their chimney a gray bird came,
Mr. Stork is his name.
And I’ll bet two pins
A pair of twins just happen’d in with the bird.
Still they’re very gay and merry,
Just at dawning I heard:
Don’t we got fun?
Twins and cares dear, come in pairs, dear,
Don’t we have fun?
We’ve only started,
As mommer and pop,
Are we downhearted,
I’ll say that we’re not!
Landlords mad and getting madder,
Ain’t we got fun?
Times are bad and getting badder,
Still we have fun!
There’s nothing surer,
The rich get rich and the poor get laid off
In the meantime,
In between time,
Ain’t we got fun?
When the man who sold ’em carpets told ’em,
He would take them away,
They said "Wonderful! here’s our chance!
Take them up, and we’ll dance!"
And when burglars came and robb’d them
Taking all their silver, they say.
Hubby yell’d "We’re famous,
For they’ll name us in the papers today!"
Night or daytime,
It’s all playtime,
Ain’t we got fun?
Hot or cold days,
Any old days,
Ain’t we got fun?
If wifie wishes,
To go to a play,
Don’t wash the dishes,
Just throw them away!
Street car seats are awful narrow,
Ain’t we got fun?
They won’t smash up our Pierce Arrow,
They’ve cut my wages,
But my income tax will be so much smaller,
When I’m paid off,
I’ll be laid off.
~ Words by Gus Kahn and Raymond B. Egan
Ain’t We Got Fun 1921
Music by Richard Whiting
Capitalism falls apart when a monopoly forms. One theorist, Axelrod, said you need 26 independent competing
companies to avoid monopoly or collusion. This is often hard to achieve in practice. We have a schizophrenic
attitude to collusion. If companies collude to fix the price of gasoline or bank interest rates, there is much
screaming and gnashing of teeth. However, if they formally merge first, or if the leader buys out all its
competitors, there is not so much as a peep of indignation.
The science of cooperation. How cooperation develops among the selfish and even between warring parties. The key is long term association with the same group. Not all cooperation is good. Oligopolies form by the same mechanism. It explains why strict tit for tat is a sound strategy. It is about the mathematics/strategies that generate revenge spirals and spirals of co-operation. Somebody must have read this book when Britain decided to stop taking two eyes for every eye in Northern Ireland, which eventually lead to bringing terrorism under control. Using computer modeling Axelrod discovers the power of a simple tit for tat strategy in dealing with others. He also discovers the mathematical conditions under which people co-operate, collude, compete, aid each other or refuse to offer reasonable assistance. He also explains the mathematics of why corporations tend toward price-fixing and other co-operative behaviour with their competitors.
Online bookstores carrying The Evolution of Cooperation
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
Capitalism works spectacularly well and handling the needs of individual consumers. Go to your supermarket and
marvel at how many types and colours of toothbrushes there are. On the other hand, it has no mechanism for
funding global projects, like eradicating malaria or dealing with the effects of global warming. Even though a
nation like the USA could raise 100 billion dollars in six weeks to deal with terrorism, it was able to pledge
(then fail to deliver) only 200 million (1/50 as much) to deal with AIDS in Africa. The only problems that get
tackled with any enthusiasm are the ones that directly affect the rich.
All Economic Activity Is Good
Economics seems to value all economic activity equally. The Exxon Valdez was great for the GNP (Gross National Product). Funerals count
toward the GNP. Intensive care for lung cancer helps the GNP.
Sinking Below the Event Horizon
If a person in the third world sinks below a certain level of poverty, it is impossible to get back way out. He
needs capital, even if just
investment you can get billions in return. Just go look at websites that track campaign contributions. Even
foreign governments, e.g. Israel and China can play. Israel’s investment in American politicians nets
per Israeli citizen in foreign aid.
God destroyed the city of Sodom, not for anal sex, but for sodomy, which the bible clearly defines as:
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of
bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did
she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
~ Ezekiel 16:49
Money is a co-operative game we humans play to reward each player proportionately to the efforts they expend on
behalf of others. Those with fabulous wealth have discovered ways to cheat both the letter and the spirit of
the game. They contribute little and take the lion’s share of the pie. They imagine they earned
exclusive right to their wealth when in actuality they stole it.
~ Roedy(born: 1948-02-04 age: 66)
The Bastard Effect
There is constant pressure on a company to be more profitable than the competition. This leads them naturally to
underpay workers, spend less on working conditions, dispose of pollutants irresponsibly, treat animals poorly,
lay off workers, etc. Companies get no brownie points for responsible behaviour. Investors look only at the
profitability. In a similar way, countries compete. The countries with the laxest labour laws, the laxest
pollution laws, the lowest minimum wages etc. attract the new factories.
In the USA, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) ’s of corporations are required by law to act like bastards. They are not
permitted to consider the interests of the stakeholders, e.g. the employees, the customers, or the people living
where the company does business. They are only permitted to consider the bottom line interest of the
stockholders. The corporation by law acts like a psychotic person, someone without a conscience.
Book referral for Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
recommend book⇒Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
Based on the Documentary The Corporation available on DVD. It talks about how corporations behave like psychotic humans without concern for morality or the welfare of others. They are single mindedly devoted to profit, and the governments give them free reign. Also talks about corporations such as Interface (a carpet maker) who are notable exceptions to the rule.
Online bookstores carrying Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
is the fourth richest man in the world. He got that way by buying up newspapers, TV stations and radio stations,
then using the profits from those to buy still more, creating effective monopolies in country after country. He
was then in a position to coerce the planet’s politicians to pass laws favourable to his business
interests. If they did not do what he wanted, his giant media machine would smear them. He imposed his own warped
extreme right wing views on this media empire and in turn on the whole world. Through it, for example, through
FOX, he was able to mislead the majority of Americans that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. with endorsements from all his newspapers, he was able to get a village idiot elected to the
presidency of a country of which he was not even a citizen. The problem is the gravity of money gives far too
much power to a single individual. Murdoch has millions of times more power than an ordinary citizen. This is
dangerous. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Americans in particular seem to approach capitalism not as just a way of organising a financial system, but as a
fundamentalist religion. They know nothing of alternatives other than they are all evil. They are
deliberately blind to the shortcomings of their own extreme form of capitalism. They become busybodies meddling
in other country’s financial affairs that don’t in the least concern them. They are willing to go to
war with people who prefer a different system.
What do I care about the law? Ain’t I got the power?
~ Cornelius Vanderbilt(born: 1794-05-27 died: 1877-01-04 at age: 82)
When people get rich enough, they have the power to buy off politicians and law enforcement to let them do
whatever they please. That power inevitably corrupts them.
Poverty is nature’s way of excreting unhealthy, imbecile, slow, vacillating and faithless members of
~ Herbert Spencer(born: 1820-04-27 died: 1903-12-08 at age: 83)
To the capitalist, the poor are expendable. The poor are defined as the people with the bottom fifth in wealth.
Yet even if everyone on earth were millionaires, toiling 16 hours a day, there would still be a bottom fifth in
wealth, whose interests did not matter. Capitalism’s mad desire to torment the poor, is as silly as
torturing people because they were not sufficiently tall, or did not consume enough food. For sustainable world,
we need to moderate consumption. This mad race for maximal conspicuous consumption takes us in the exact opposite
It is obviously much harder to come up with solutions to these problems than it is to point them out. What has been
Communism per Karl Marx
This is just too idealistic. People won’t work with out incentives.
Communism per Lenin
A centrally planned economy is just too ponderous. It might work better today with modern computers. It leads
naturally to totalitarianism and corruption with too much centralisation of power. Chinese Communism has the same
problems. Because it is essentially a seniority-based bureaucracy, the leaders are always much older than the
rest of the population, hence overly conservative and without a proper appreciation of the needs of the young.
The problem here is the government keeps expanding into areas where there is no need for it to do so, gradually
increasing taxes, and giving the public what the bureaucrats think is good for it, rather than what it wants. For
example they will subsidise opera and art work created out of dung or raw meat. The advantage is that the
decision makers on things like hydro electric projects are responsible to the people as a whole. They have to
consider not only economics but political considerations.
There are some successes. For example the Canadian federal government formed an oil company called Petrocan to
provide some competition to the small number of large oil producers. That competition kept them more honest than
they were in the USA. The important thing is the mix of private and public enterprise. Pure public without
private competition becomes complacent, just like any monopoly. Unfortunately, the current government is corrupt
and is getting rid of Petrocan at the request of the private oil companies, even though Petrocan is a great money
maker for the country.
Star Trek Next Generation
The assumption here is technology will eventually make this clamoring for more goods superfluous. There will be
no merit in conspicuous consumption. There won’t even be a need for money since goods and energy will be so
cheap. Yet Star Trek’s political system is a militaristic hierarchy, not even as good as a distributed
capitalist system for decision making. There is also the minor problem this the wantum mechanics that makes it
all possible is not quite here yet.
Companies or charities that compete in the same arena as ordinary for profit companies. They attempt to make
their decisions based on ethics and global optimisation as well as economic realities. They put the spot light on
the unethical activities of their competitors in their struggle for customer and employee loyalty. The problem
is, when you play poker and the other players cheat it is very hard to stay in the game if you
Capitalists will do whatever you want them to, if that thing is the most profitable. We need to create taxes for
polluting, taxes for creating unrecyclable goods, etc. that reflect the true costs of these activities to the
planet as a whole. Unfortunately, big companies have the politicians in their pockets and block all such
measures, not realising such taxes are actually in their long term best interest too.
Incentives for Ethical Capitalism
a scheme producing goods or services that entails spending money to earn money that does not damage the
earth or cheat the customers with overpriced, poor quality or mislabelled products.
The ethical behaviour of a corporation is nearly always worse than the lowest common denominator of its leaders
and shareholders. It works solely to maximise profit. It is therefore necessary for the government to offer
incentives for ethical behaviour and disincentives for unethical behaviour to guide corporations back onto the
track of normal morality. To persuade companies to behave well, we must set up the economic conditions so that
they behave well naturally. You can do this with law or with financial/tax incentives. It does not really matter
all that much what the rules are to a company really, no matter how much they scream. The costs are passed on to
consumers, and all companies pay the same taxes.
When you pay your taxes, if you want, you can direct some proportion of your taxes to specific areas. You could
say for example that you wanted 10% to go for defense, 30% to funding new energy sources, 0% to drug enforcement,
50% to incentives to companies to make their products recyclable, and 10% to fund the development of new antibiotics. This gives the people a direct hand in
budgeting, attempting to bypass the corporation-bribed politicians. Gradually over the years, the proportion you
were allowed to allocate could be upped as the public became more sophisticated in its choices — more aware
of the consequences of over/underfunding.
Ralf Nader convinced Detroit to build safer cars, even though it was against their short term best interest. In
retrospect, the change has been exceedingly profitable for them. With the Internet, anyone can become a miniature
Ralf Nader, exposing the not-so-optimal decisions that various corporations are making. Google is very
democratic. If people like your site and what you have to say they build links to it. Google then rates your site
higher in the searches. With sufficient pressure, it then becomes economic for corporations to behave better.
Then they start bragging about their new improved behaviour. Then that behaviour becomes a new competitive
battleground and the pressure is no longer needed.
A federation of countries, if it worked as well as the federation of the Canadian provinces, the federation of
the United States or the European Union, would save a great deal of money in defense. That money could be
redirected to globally useful projects like eradicating AIDS and malaria, and bringing all water supplies up to
an international standard. Unfortunately, globalisation has come to mean serving the interests of multinational
corporations like Nestlé at the expense of everyone else.
With the current system, the true rulers of the world are the multinational corporations, not the governments.
They want to keep things that way.
The cells in your body co-operate with the understanding that every organ in the body has to function properly
for the body as a whole to survive. In tough times, e.g. hypothermia, the body shuts down blood to all but the
core systems with the goal of making the body as a whole survive. Similarly, if a political party is able to keep
backstabbing to a minimum and have its member co-operate, it has a better chance of prevailing over other
political parties. Similarly for workers in a company or citizens of a country. To compete effectively at a
higher level, you must co-operate effectively at a lower level. Americans encourage cut-throat competition and
exploitation within their country. Little wonder America’s ability to compete internationally is
waning. Similarly, to compete against global problems like peak oil and environmental degradation, countries need
to co-operate. They don’t understand this yet.
To compensate for the natural flow of money from poor to rich countries, in 1969 the
western countries met and agreed to donate back 0.7% of their GNP to the third world. According to Stephen Lewis,
UN (United Nations) Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS, had the countries kept their promises there would have been enough to fund the end
of malaria, tuberculosis, stop the AIDS epidemic and contribute substantially to ending world hunger. However,
they reneged. Here is what they actually donated in 2003:
% of GNP in 2003
Below 0.7 goal
was 0.48 in 1993.
It has dropeed to 0.25 in 2012
It is ironic that Americans think of themselves as the most generous nation on earth when in reality, they are
the stingiest, coming in second last place in the west. I’m sure that if Americans generally were aware of
this poor showing, they would insist on moving into first place. Up until 1985, Canada
was giving at the 0.49% level, and claims it will gradually get back there over the next ten years.
Americans can take pride though, that because they are the third largest country in the world, and because
they have largest GNP, that even though they are the stingiest as a percentage of GNP, America is in first place
in terms of total contribution to global foreign aid. Unfortunately, national pride makes Americans dwell on this
fact and ignore their last place standing by the generosity measure. On the other hand, American foreign aid is
often not worthy of the name. It sometimes take the form of weapons. It comes with strings attached, so it could
sometimes better be considered bribery. It sometimes does more harm than good e.g. Monsanto seed with terminator
genes. And the lion’s share ($6.2 billion of the $14.9 billion the USA
provides in foreign aid), goes to Israel, hardly what most would consider a third world needy country.
With only 1/27th of the planet’s population, America takes from the world 1/3 of its natural resources
and gives back 1/1000th of its GNP in foreign aid, and, like some Biblical hypocrite, trumpets the deed as
astoundingly generous. Other industrialised nations are not that much better.
It would take only about $1 billion a year to bring tuberculosis under control,
yet somehow, even with trillion dollar budgets, it can’t be found in the combined budgets of the western
world. To put this is perspective, this is about 1/4 the amount America spends on lipstick each year.
The international economic system is strongly weighted in favour of the rich nations. The World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund)
sporadically bail out third world countries, but what is needed is a formal, sustained, reliable flow of money
back to the poor countries to level the playing field.
Somehow the conventional wisdom of 200 million sullen South Americans sweating away in the hot sun for the next
decade to earn the interest on their debt so Citicorp can raise its dividend twice a year does not square with
~ Barton Biggs , Managing Director Morgan Stanley Investment Banking.
Negative Income Tax
Accept that the entire economic system is rigged in favour of the wealthy, and that it tends to create a flow
from poor to rich. Instead of trying to stop that flow, simply create a counter flow to precisely balance it.
This would create a truly level playing field that the capitalists are so fond of. This could be implemented as a
negative income tax. The problem with most current systems to redistribute wealth to the poor is that the instant
the poor make any income at all, all assistance disappears, effectively taxing their income at over 100%. Hardly
the incentive any capitalist worth his salt would strive for.
Professor Milton Friedman’s negative income tax proposes getting rid of all welfare bureaucracies and
simply leveling income at tax time. Those with very low income get money back — money to live on for the
next year, that might be paid out in installments to help budgeting. Ronald Reagan liked the idea but never
implemented it. Negative income tax is similar to a guaranteed livable income. With it,
everyone, rich and poor, gets a monthly cheque sufficient for subsistence. At tax time accounts are squared, and
the rich effectively give the money back, and the poor do not. There is no means test and no bureaucracy to
decide who is worthy of help. Everyone, rich and poor, housed and homeless is. People have freedom to spend that
money anyway they please. You would need a bureaucracy to care for mentally deficient people and drug addicts who
could not survive without supervision, but not for people who had no problem other than poverty.
When someone becomes superwealthy, they become above the law. They can buy politicians and judges. Their very
wealth intimidates, turning ordinary folk into slavering sycophants. Consider CNN (Cable News Network) ’s Lou Dobbs interviewing
Bill Gates. He did a perfect impersonation of Ned Beatty in The Toy. The super rich become almost
like black holes, sucking all money and companies that come within their purview into themselves, crushing them.
For the same reason that we no longer permit dictators or kings with absolute power, we should limit just how
much economic power a person is permitted to accrue. In a similar way we should block mergers and force large
corporations to break up to ensure competition prevails. Consider how corrupt the oil industry has become with so
few players. It has even subverted the US federal government. Almost every cabinet member is an
ex-oil person. They are running the country purely for the short-term benefit of the oil
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my
country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power
of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the
wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.
~ Abraham Lincoln(born: 1809-02-12 died: 1865-04-15 at age: 56)
Taxation on corporations should discourage bloated monopolies and conglomerates, and encourage small and
medium-sized businesses. Corporate taxation should be progressive, just like personal tax. The rate should be
based on the total income of the conglomerate. Excess profits, aka gouging, should be taxed to discourage
companies from schemes to screw the public.
Where gargantuan size is truly needed, market forces will create size.
The purpose of corporations is to provide goods and services. The means is via raising money for stockholders.
You want a tax system than continually reminds corporations of that. Americans particularly are prone to
enslaving themselves to corporations. Corporations should be subservient to the public interest.
The original purpose of gambling was wealth redistribution. With casinos taking over the function, it is now
mainly a tax on the stupid.
Money is like manure, it’s no good unless you spread it around.
~ Thornton Wilder(born: 1897-04-17 died: 1975-12-07 at age: 78)
and Jerry Herman(born: 1931-07-10 age: 82), Horace Vandergelder in Hello Dolly
Folk wisdom says everyone prospers if everyone has money to buy the necessities of life. If some don’t,
then not only they suffer, but those they would buy from also fail to prosper. In Canada, the family allowance
benefits and the GST (Goods and Services Tax) rebates that are the same for rich and poor alike, have this function. Unfortunately, they
don’t help those who need it most, the homeless. However, I oppose any sort of program that encourages
having more kids.
In contrast, Reagonomics, aka Voodoo economics, aka
trickle down economics holds that concentrating the wealth in the hands of the most
wealthy and powerful is the best approach because clearly these people are the movers and shakers and know how to
make things happen with money. Everyone will prosper as a result of the increased economic activity. The
government will more than make up for its largesse to the wealthy by increased tax revenue from the stimulated
economy. Three presidents have tested this theory. What were the results?
President Reagan: a deficit larger than all previous administrations in history combined. The gap
between rich and poor widened.
President Bush Sr.: a deficit larger than even Reagan’s. The gap between rich and poor widened.
President George W. Bush: turned a healthy surplus into a deficit topping even his Bush 41’s, The
first trillion dollar experiment failed, so he tried a second. The gap between rich and poor widened.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
~ Rita Mae Brown(born: 1944-11-28 age: 69)
in Sudden Death often misattributed to Benjamin Franklin.
Persistence is great, but you must persist with something that works.
By Rita Mae Brown’s definition, George Bush Jr, is insane.
Why don’t Reagonomics work?
The wealthy are smart cookies and invest the largesse overseas in more booming economies. The money does
not sit around long enough to generate an economic activity at home.
The wealthy have no need of more necessities. They spend it on luxuries and frivolities, which don’t
do anything for the practical prosperity of the country. Reaganomics distorts the economy away from producing
useful goods to frivolous ones — toys and services for the idle rich.
The poor have less money to spend on necessities.
Perhaps, just as an experiment, we could also test the manure theory of economics. Let’s see what happens
when you spread the wealth around, unconcentrate the wealth, narrow the gap between rich and poor.
But wait, the experiment has already been tried, numerous times, with great success! The most notable
experimenter was Franklin Delano Roosevelt with his New Deal that pulled America out of the deepest recession in
To the wealthy, the word enough is meaningless.
~ Matt Fair
Politicians know full well the manure theory of economics works and that Reagonomics does not. Why would they
persist in the folly of Reagonomics? Why do they disparage the workable manure theory of economic with even less
palatable epithets such as communism? I suggest their motives have nothing to do with stimulating the
economy. They are simply giving kickbacks for campaign contributions received from the wealthy both over and
under the table. Campaign contributions have an astounding ROI (Return On Investment).
Guaranteed Annual Income
As jobs become scarcer, and computers and outsourcing devours jobs, are we going to let the general population
starve? For the first time in history there is a surplus of labour. We have to get used to the idea that people
have a right to life even if they don’t have a job. This can implemented with a guaranteed minimum annual
income, perhaps to top people up, or a flat amount given to everyone. That flies in the face of human thinking
ever since the invention of agriculture. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Yet now there simply is
not that much work that has to be done. We could ease into this new reality with a gradually shrinking work week
to help share the gradually shrinking pool of jobs. Instead, people are working longer hours and taking on
multiple jobs just to earn food and rent. The labour glut is forcing wages down and down. People in the third
world are hit hardest. They toil in Kathy Lee Gifford’s purse factories in China for
No Public Companies
Consider how socially responsible The Body Shop and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream were before they went
public. Once they went public, they started behaving like any other unscrupulous company. The problem is the
publicly traded corporation that acts without conscience. They are required by law to act that way, acting purely
to maximise profit. Perhaps we should only allow privately held companies and make the owners legally liable for
what their companies do. In Germany, designated employees are legally liable for what their corporations do. The
problem with this approach is raising sufficient capital for big projects. Ethical
capitalism almost never happens in a publicly traded company. Famous examples of ethical sole
proprietorships included Josiah Wedgewood, Henry John Heinz and Milton S. Hershey. You usually see it in a co-op
where the owners are the customers, e.g. Mountain Equipment Co-op. You also see it to some extent where the union
of workers owns the company, e.g. WestJet. You can see the pattern. The closer the owners are to the customers,
the more ethical a company will be. Historically, absentee landlords are the most notorious for mistreating their
tenants. Publicly traded companies are the industrial equivalent of absentee landlords.
When a burglar breaks into your house, you know you have been ripped off. However, corporations and governments rip
you off for much more, and you never know they did it. The entire system is rigged in favour of the corporations and
the wealthy. Here are some examples:
Inflation. Inflation makes money effectively disappear from the everyone’s bank accounts and from those
on fixed incomes. I wonder who gets it?
Devaluation. In 2003, the American dollar lost 20% of
it purchasing power abroad due to the collapse of the value of the American dollar. This happened because of
Bush’s record deficits and the huge trade deficit with the rest of the world.
Electric companies charge higher and higher rates for electricity even though it costs them less and less to
Software companies sell you software that does not work, then claim an extra cost upgrade will make it work
Sales taxes are sometimes explicit and sometimes hidden. By not doing them in a consistent way people lose
track of just how much they are.
Banks lend out your money five to twelve times over, charging interest, and charge you for the privilege.
Near monopolies such as Altria/Kraft/Philip Morris hide that fact by selling
under hundreds of different formerly legitimate brand names, e.g. Altria is really Philip Morris Tobacco, Kraft,
General Foods, Sanka, Starbucks, Country-Time Lemonade, Oscar Mayer, DiGiorno, Calumet, Shake n Bake, Jell-O, Oreo,
Post, Nabisco, Planters, Toblerone…
Companies go bankrupt leaving the shareholders with nothing. Where did all that money go?
Fledgling investors lose their shirts time and time again. Where did all that money go? Why did they always
lose? They might have done better playing three card Monte.
A bum who steals a loaf of bread will likely get more jail time than a stock broker who steals ten million from
pension fund. When a broker is fined for fraud, the fine is less than 1% of the
amount stolen, hardly a disincentive.
Private banks are permitted to lend money that they don’t really have, to the government at interest. In
other words, the taxpayers pay the banks for a service they don’t really provide.
Laissez faire capitalists seized on Darwin’s notion of natural selection to justify ruthless capitalism. Darwin
and the evolutionists never used the phrase survival of the fittest. They talk of differential
reproductive success — some individuals have slightly better reproductive success — more offspring
living to reproduce. 18th century industrialists deliberately misinterpreted Darwin to morally justify exploiting
their workers and destroying the environment with dark Satanic mills. Survival of the fittest justified
every dirty tactic in the book. However, natural selection works on many levels, the gene, the cell, the individual,
the nation and the species. Natural selection patiently weeds out anything that does not work. A society that adopts
philosophies that destroy the natural environment and impoverish the bulk of the population will go extinct before
ones that do not.
Capitalism makes us do many things that will almost certainly make our species go extinct including: creating
nuclear weapons, creating artificial plagues, eroding soils, polluting groundwater, wiping out other species at a
rate of four a hour — the same rate as the biggest extinction event in earth’s history, burning fossil
fuels causing greenhouse gases, widening the gap between rich and poor to the point of fomenting war and terrorism.
From Darwin’s point of view, anything that makes your species go extinct in a definite no no.
Desire For Wealth
If you crave wealth, basically you want a slice of the world pie disproportionate to the effort you are willing to
contribute to the benefit of others. You are in essence a cheat. When you read up on get rich quick (or even slowly)
schemes, you are effectively researching ways at how to scarf more than your fair share of the food at
the world banquet while paying less than your fair share.
Here are the main ways you can trick others into giving you money without giving them something of value in
Capitalism. You trick people into giving you money simply because you have money already.
Crime. You embezzle, steal, counterfeit, pull church cons, take bribes etc.
Fame. If you are sufficiently famous, people will assign you high status, and hence pay a huge premium for your
services, including entertainment.
The only legitimate way to create large wealth is to massively benefit others. You might do this by writing a book,
creating a computer program, inventing something, devising a new drug…
The irony is, those most successful in subverting the money system to deflect a huge flow of undeserved wealth to
themselves, are the ones who scream loudest about even modest taxes and about how others steal money
from them in the form of taxes. They are like bank robbers bitching about being forced the give back 10% of their ill-gotten loot.
It is coming clearer every day that corporations were a bad idea. It was quite naïve to think that an entity
that cared for nothing but profit could possibly behave in a responsible way. Corporations are raping the planet,
poisoning people, enslaving workers (especially in the third world), corrupting governments and breaking financial
promises, all in a mad pursuit of profit at any cost. It feels dangerous to criticise corporations, but this is
just because the corporations have kept up a steady drumbeat of pro-corporate propaganda that suggests anyone who
had qualms about what corporations do must be some sort of crazed communist traitor. It is all very well to criticise the corporations, but what could replace them?
Proprietorships, partnerships and family-owned businesses. Personal reputation a strong motivator. However,
these are necessarily small and cannot take on the big jobs that corporations handle.
Co-ops, where the workers or the customers own the company. These are currently rare, but they tend to bend
over backwards to keep the customers happy.
Crown corporations where there is a natural monopoly, such as an electric utility, land-line phone company or
cable company. Here the people have some control over how they behave by voting out the politicians who control
corporations. These tend to be overly bureaucratic since they don’t have the spur of competition to keep
Attempt to reign in the corporations. The people in corporations who commit crimes on behalf of the
corporation should be punished just as if they committed the crimes on their own. When corporations pollute, we
must force them both to clean it up, and pay a fine equivalent to twice the cost of the cleanup. Ditto for
stealing. They must pay it back, and pay a fine double that. Enough of these slap on wrists that corporations
just treat as a cost of business. Corporations can use their wealth to hire lawyers to endlessly delay actions
against them. Somehow that advantage has to be weakened.
Corporations have become so powerful they have corrupted the Supreme Court in the USA to give them permission to
buy the next generation of politicians with overwhelming amounts of money. They are so powerful they can
bribe/pressure/threaten governments to enact laws that nearly all the people do not like. If we don’t stop
them, they will destroy the earth with greenhouse gas emissions, leaked genes, pollution, resource
exhaustion… We will feel such chumps if we did not even try to stop them.
Some of these problems have been obvious for hundreds of years. I think the best solution so far is democratic
government that alternates between capitalist and socialist, each acting as a check to the other’s excesses.
The great thing about the Internet, is that if someone comes up with an obviously good new solution, it will take a
lot less time for everyone to know about it. Yet it may be harder than ever though to change the institutions that
are now so firmly based in a purely capitalist philosophy.
No matter how much effort we collectively expend, there will always be precisely 50% of the population below
average. In Dickens day, we punished such people with indentured servitude and debtors’ prisons (where they had
no hope of earning money to pay off the debt or even paying for their food). Today we punish the people of the third
world with grinding poverty, pressing our economic advantage to the fullest. Perhaps in some enlightened future time,
we will look back on our times as barbaric, when we deliberately tormented the economically disadvantaged.
The key thing to understand is that the elites of the world like things the way they are. They want the poor to be
as grindingly poor as possible. It makes them feel better by comparison. The elites are in control of the
corporations, the governments and the media. We see only their point of view day after day. Even the poor and middle
class are seduced into voting Republican, voting against their own best interest. The only hope I see for cracking
this hold on the popular imagination is the Internet, which may gradually supplant TV and newspapers as a more open
I sit on man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet I assure myself and others that I am very
sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means, except getting off his back.
~ Leo Tolstoy(born: 1828-09-09 died: 1910-11-07 at age: 82)
Book referral for Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)
recommend book⇒Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)
How the American taxation system takes money from the poor to enrich the rich. It is about the fundamental crookedness and unfairness. He names names, how each of the famous rich Americans cheated to get their wealth.
Online bookstores carrying Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)
This book is simple and somewhat repetitive. It argues five main points.
A vigorous middle class is essential for democracy.
Throughout history, the elites have done battle to eliminate the middle class and scoop all the wealth for themselves.
Starting with Reagan, the lower and middle classes in the USA have become poorer while the elite’s wealth has exploded into the stratosphere.
The elites tell all manner of lies to trick the middle class into giving up their power and wealth to the elites.
You have a choice:
government can run things, via representatives responsible to the people.
corporate CEOs can run things, responsible only to their shareholders.
When you consider the alternative, big government managing society does not look so bad.
Hartmann argues that historically the wealthy elite have always worked to eliminate the middle class, and hence stomp out democracy. They can then run things for their own ultimate financial benefit. We are going through a period now where the middle class is collapsing as a result of the corporatocracy and wealth of the tiny elite at the top is exploding. Since they control the media, they spread all manner of myths that make people vote against their own self interest in favour of those of the elites.
The book also discusses how the war business hijacks government to provide it with endless streams of money for perpetual unnecessary war.
Online bookstores carrying Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class — And What We Can Do about It
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock. Try looking for it with a bookfinder.
If you ignorantly believe there’s not enough life support available on planet Earth for all humanity, then
survival only of the fittest seems self-flattering to warrant magna-selfishness. However, it is due only to
human’s born state of ignorance and the 99.99 percent invisibility of technological capabilities that they do
not recognize the vast abundance of resources available to support all humanity at an omni-high standard of living.
~ Richard Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller(born: 1895-07-12 died: 1983-07-01 at age: 87)
Grunch of Giants
Robert Reich was minister of labour under Bill Clinton. He explains how competition between companies for favourable legislation has lead to a sort of lobbying arms race. He explains the consequences, cheaper consumer prices, but also lower wages, and less job security. He points out that corporations have no interest whatsoever in community values. It is pointless to expect them to care about global warming, job security, health care etc. They are purely market-driven. He believes this is as it should be. (I strongly disagree. Corporations should be just as responsible as individuals, and all individuals should be personally responsible for their actions they perform on behalf of the corporation.) However, he calls for citizen involvement in government to ensure issues that affect entire communities are properly addressed.
Online bookstores carrying Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life
Michael Winterbottom [Director], Mat Whitecross[Director]
1961-03-29 age: 53
Documents with grisly footage certain themes in US foreign policy ranging from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Afghanistan to Iraq including:
Imposing Milton Friedman’s shock economics on other countries
Use of torture techniques pioneered by Dr. Ian Cameron, terrorising the elderly, women and children too.
Impoverishing the masses and incrementing the incomes of the elite 100 fold.
Starting wars to distract from economic woes.
Supporting military dictators
After viewing this movie you will likely have a strong urge to do some unspeakable harm to Cameron, Reagan, Friedman, Pinochet, Rumsfeld, Thatcher and Bush after seeing what they did and hearing about it from their own mouths. There is a book of the same name by Naomi Klein. She appears several times in this DVD.