idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
1. Giving/taking both have connotative meanings that don't apply here.
And some which do. I'll point them out to you.
2. Not all upper class peoples have "taken" from the lower classes. They may function in a system that has propped them up, but most aren't actively preying on them. There are plenty of people who got rich without trying to fuck someone over, but because they had a good idea (the capitalist dream). I would argue that the system gave them too much, but I wouldn't agree that they took anything. I WOULD, however, say that the Banking industry has taken from the people quite heavily. By using these terms in a broad sense, you lose the intricacies of the problem which are important.
So you acknowledge that your method of distinguishing between "good rich people" and "bad rich people is based on whether they "took" their wealth. And you wonder why I talk about giving/taking?
Um... I'd also question your assessment anyway. Somewhat by definition, in order for a banker to make money, he first has to give it (loan actually) to someone else. It just seems like you're being circular here. You're defining who is good or bad based on whether they gained their wealth by taking it, but you seem to decide whether an industry "takes" wealth based on whether you like them or not. Is there an objective measure going on here at all? Cause I don't see it.
When you have 1 billion dollars, and the gov't tells you to give 900 million to the homeless, you are going to say that it's your money and that they have no right to it, no? You think you are entitled to it.
Yes, of course. But not because they're entitled to it, but because it's their money. We can quibble over how they got that money, but the word "entitled" in this context suggests something you don't have, but should have. Which is the "giving" part of the "giving/taking" I spoke of earlier. You seem to want to define money a rich person has as being 'given' to them, but I disagree with that assessment. More on that later.
And that's true, relative to the capitalist system you live under.
But what people are complaining about isn't the fact that you have 1 billion dollars, it's the system that allowed you to have 1 billion dollars. You are only entitled to that money if that particular capitalist system (or one sufficiently like it) holds. If the people choose to adopt a socialist system, you are no longer entitled to your money.
Again, I'd stop using the word "entitled" if I were you. It has a meaning that isn't exactly correct here. Your argument is correct though, under any economic system, a person "gains" money (or equivalent) based on the rules of the economic system itself. If our system says that people with big noses get twice as much as everyone else, then that's the system. I get it.
Why? Because the system that gave you power was one big social construct. And it no longer exists. There's no objective fact about the universe that says that the money was yours. It was yours because the people agreed it was yours. Once they no longer agree, tough luck.
Ok. But here's where the giving/taking bit comes in. The free market is called a "free market" because it requires very little regulation to operate. The objective is to make it as close to what economics would be absent any rules at all, while still protecting property rights and preventing abusive behaviors. The core concept of "earning" money isn't part of the construct though. It's based on very real factors that apply whether there's a "system" in place or not.
If you are alone in the wilderness and you don't produce enough food, shelter, etc to survive then you will die. No system needs to be constructed to make this happen. If you produce lots of those things, you will survive, perhaps even thrive. A group of people is an extension of that one person. They must collectively produce enough for all of them to survive. Following this so far?
What the free market does is attempt to reward those who produce the most for the whole by applying as much of the rules of a solitary survival model as possible. The more you produce, the better your outcome is. The same should apply to a larger society. The thinking is that the more people who are producing more things, the better *everyone* is. But that only works if we allow those who produce the most to retain the most.
This is not as arbitrary as you're making it out to be. And I think it's a mistake to say that such a system is no more legitimate or "fair" than any other. This smacks of people who try to argue that rights/liberties/freedoms are also just arbitrary social constructs and can be whatever society's whim of the moment is. While it's true that we *can* make them whatever we want them to be, it's also true that some sets of those things follow a set of objective rules that derive from natural laws, while others do not. It's wrong to pretend that they're all equally valuable or useful.
And before you make some stupid claim that says the people can take your money at any time, realize what an actual shift in systems would mean. It's a massive undertaking, and requires a huge amount of public support. I'm not talking about a military regime--I'm talking about the people collectively standing up and telling people exploiting them that they are out of line.
So a communist revolution?
You know what the biggest problem with a communist revolution is? Actually convincing people that they're being exploited to such a degree that they must rise up. This is hard to do when most of the population has never known real hunger, or want, nor been denied basics, and in fact most of whom live lives which would be considered ridiculously luxurious in historical context.
But good luck on that! I don't think it's going to happen. You will, however, potentially get people to give one group of politicians power instead of another and if you think that there's more to this than that, you are horribly naive.
And OWS isn't about the destruction of economic classes. Certainly, many people who support it believe in dismantling them, but it's not a central theme of the movement. At most, they believe in reducing the distance between them. If you are working, or have a legitimate reason you can't work, then you should be able to live a comfortable life. You shouldn't have to be terrified that you might get sick and miss a paycheck or two. You should have access to health care. You shouldn't need to worry about your bank screwing you over, or that your credit is going to plummet because you can't pay back the loans you took out so that you could pay your medical bills. Etc.
Ok. But which is it? Either you're chucking out the whole "system" based on simply allowing people to retain whatever the market will bear for their labor in favor of some other supposedly more equitable alternative, or you're not. But you cant or wont say exactly what that alternative is, and when I point out that problems with it, you insist that your not proposing anything that extreme.
But it has to be one way or the other. Either it's a minor change, in which case the "rules" of the system I've been talking about are still in place, and the assessments in terms of "giving/taking" are valid to make *or* you're chucking the whole thing out, in which case it's legitimate for me to question what that other system would be, how it would encourage people to produce, who would be in charge of deciding what a "fair" distribution of wealth should be, and dozens of other questions which seem to always be left unanswered. You can't have it both ways.
The distinction between rich and poor matters a hell of a lot less when you don't have people terrified that their next pay check can't cover their rent, but they are already overdrawn on their bank account. That's the point of OWS. Feel free to support a capitalist system, but people shouldn't be starving when others have 30 billion in their bank account.
I think that's a false comparison though. Do you think people will be less likely to be afraid that their next pay check wont cover their rent if the rich aren't as rich relative to them? Unless you assume that by making the rich less rich, you'll make everyone else a bit more rich? But that's the zero sum game issue I spoke of earlier. I don't agree that things work that way. In fact, I don't think you agree things work that way. Heck, I could provide a clear example showing that it doesn't if you want. It's not even hard math. Even if we assumed that we could just take X dollars from "the rich" and give that money to everyone else to help them out, and it wouldn't affect any other economic factors at all (patently false), it would not change the likelihood that the same percentage of the population will end out in the same overdrawn, paycheck to paycheck, always worrying about money situation.
And that assumes that doing that wont reduce the number of paychecks available in the first place (which it would).
I keep coming back to the same problem. It's easy to point out problems with something. It's a hell of a lot harder to propose an alternative and show that it would be better and would introduce fewer problems itself. But if you can't do that, then complaining about the current system is just that: Complaining. It's completely useless in terms of actually solving anything. The fallacy here is that of assuming that anyone starves because someone has 30B in the bank *and* that if you somehow eliminated that $30B in that person's bank it would help the alleged starvation going on. This is often assumed to be true, but very few people even attempt to argue it. Usually because the argument breaks down very quickly. It's easier to just pretend it must be true and rail about rich people having lots of money while poor people don't.
Sorry. I'm going to ask you to explain why you think that's a problem and what you think we should do differently to prevent this problem from occurring. Because while you may insist that my free market system is arbitrary, within that system the same rules that allow that guy to have $30B in his bank account, allow you and me to have $100, or $1000, or $10,000, or to own a car, or a home, or anything at all. If we take away his property rights, aren't we taking away ours as well? Edited, Nov 21st 2011 6:21pm by gbaji