Senate Help Me: Settle a Debate

Discussion in 'Community' started by blubeast1237, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. blubeast1237 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2007
    star 5
    Well more of a disagreement. A colleague and I have been going back and forth about why inequality is bad and the topic of whether or not capitalism, as it tends to be more individualistic, has successfully convinced people (At least in America) to forget that the maintenance of the state is a communal project, per social contract theory.

    He argues: A state should not be a continuous project of the social contract that established it. He also believes capitalism to be a protection of the individual and instead the inequality is to be blamed directly on that rich people are able to influence politics disproportionately compared to the poor, which then allows the cycle of inequality to continue.

    I argue: A state is a continuous project per the social contract of communal involvement. I think that capitalism has been able to distract people from this purpose thereby then allowing us to think that individual prosperity is all that we need. Inequality, then, is caused by the fact that we all have an equal claim to this state as citizens and that has been forgotten. Some citizens are valued more than others, but that this is especially apparent when it comes to money and politics.

    I don't think that either of us are entirely wrong, i just think he's not seeing the bigger picture. He argues from standpoint, from what I can tell, that equality should be the goal. I disagree.
  2. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Equality of what, though?

    Generally, and probably less so in the US where they're just stupid and cruel, conservatives tend to support equality of access whereas leftists tend to focus on equality of outcome.

    It's a key difference.
  3. blubeast1237 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2007
    star 5
    Well we were focused on economic equality, and its more about equality of access is the sense I get. Equality of outcome is rather ridiculous, from a capitalist standpoint.
  4. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Well no it's not, because a key component of modern capitalist economies is the progressive tax scale which tries to create that outcome.

    The thing is, economic equality is largely unattainable and modestly undesirable. You want a gini coefficient score <0.5 globally, but no less than 0.35.
  5. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    as a leftist, i prefer equitability of access, which would lead to greater equality of outcome. the difference being that equality means everyone gets shoes. equitability means that everyone gets shoes THAT FIT. i believe a system should be designed to use resources in a way that allows for modest overall gains and plans for future disasters and gains, while maximizing the freedom of each individual, without jeopardizing the whole.

    and if you're concerned about "inequality" arent you concerned about greater "equality of outcome"? i mean, we are talking about the giant gap in wealth distribution both globally and within the united states, right? that IS what equality means in most economic discussions, right? are you concerned about people's actual standard of living rising at a comparable rate or are you just interested in tweaking rules of the "game" so that when you "win" you can feel better about yourself?

    EDIT: @Ender Sai addressed this last bit, but i would of course disagree that equality is undesireable in any amount, and i would point out that we need to adopt better measures of equality and development than solely the economic, as the gini relies upon
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Jun 29, 2014
  6. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Well so long as we're confining our discussion to the theoretical, and not the real world...

    You always need to have a mix of poor, middle and upper class in society Rogue. Firstly, you need to ensure an appropriate level of reward exists for risk takers (by which I mean innovators, not foolhardy people who dreamed up CDOs and subprime mortgages). You also have to ensure people with specialisations are adequately rewarded for their professionalism - that is, not just ensuring the neurosurgeon gets paid more than the janitor, but that say the best mechanic is paid more than the worst, etc.

    The problems to this model aren't witht he model itself, but when you stray from pure capitalism and become whatever the US first, and others, are becoming now. That is, allowing competition to be stifled for profits (see also: Apple v Samsung), dismantling the welfare safety net, etc.
  7. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    and i would argue that is an inherent consequence of the very system of incentive you propose. money attracts more money. it is only natural that when "innovators" (or those who inherit or swindle their wealth) have enough money to do so, they're going to take whatever steps they can to safeguard and increase that wealth, which naturally leads them to overriding the "democratic" process. the united states got more wealth, in fewer hands, faster than any of their competitors, and that is why they've seemed to "change" faster than the others. they'll (continue to) follow the US's path
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Jun 29, 2014
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Sure, but the problem with that is it assumes that the American experience is universal. It's not. You forget that concepts like a "wet Tory" or noblesse oblige or social democracy in Europe manage to co-exist with capitalism. You need a strong regulator; instead you have the SEC. You need a social conscience; instead you have Christianity. You need a safety net, instead you have the Tea Party.

    The US is a cautionary tale against what happens when you forget to add liberalism to capitalism.
  9. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    i dont assume the american experience is universal. indeed, i daresay its... exceptional ;)

    but i think capitalism leads to one place eventually, and that's extreme inequality. if the rest of the developed countries continue down a capitalist path, you'll see your social safety net eroded and stripped away. you'll see your regulators weakened bit by bit. you'll see your political diversity merge into one center-right mishmosh, with a bunch of weirdos around the margins as a sideshow. as you've noted, the transformation has already begun

    america had its chance at social democracy with debs and the union movement and the sewer socialists, but the pecularities of the american economy following the gilded era meant the capitalist class was already relatively wealthy (and therefore powerful) enough to crush it. inequality continues to increase under capitalism in other countries that have so far enjoyed some measure of social responsibility, which is why the elites of those countries are now beginning to amass the power and control necessary to erode those same concessions to human dignity that were forced on them in the past
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Jun 29, 2014
  10. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I don't know that it is inevitable, but I agree it's a very easy and alluring path for those at the top to steer us all down.
    Rogue_Ten likes this.
  11. blubeast1237 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2007
    star 5
    The US isn't a cautionary tale of what happens when you forget to add liberalism to capitalism because liberalism, in the sense that you're using, doesn't exactly mean what you think it means there, but I will allow you to explain what you mean before pouncing.

    And equality of outcome is not what the progressive tax does, because the progressive tax isn't even crippling to the rich, its really there to show in tax revenue that people are indeed making more money and should directly pay more as they earn more, not balance out a final outcome because then no one would want to become rich.
    As far as the proper mix to have in society, I don't think it has anything to do with income and who's rich or not because in this case we're not arguing just capitalism, we're arguing society. Society is only created so people can get the things that they otherwise could not hold and protect in nature. But even in a capitalist society, there still does not necessarily have to be mix of people, there just needs to be an exchange of goods and individuals able to freely use whatever resources they need to make their products.

    I could be looking too deep in this. Inequality is a problem in the US, and growing in the world, because there's no concept of "I have enough." Which isn't necessarily greed, just.... idk, what happens when people lose sight of their jobs as a citizen.
  12. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Sorry; I correctly define liberalism as the ideology of people like JS Mill; and not lazily and incorrectly what the left in America calls itself.
  13. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    sigh

    i didnt make it past the first paragraph @Ender Sai. ill leave the first year polysci student to you, since she seems to be addressing you directly

    EDIT: i see you didnt make it past there either :p still, id expect you to dismantle her more thoroughly than that
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Jun 29, 2014
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  14. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Since you asked, Maik

    The point of a progressive tax system is absolutely to scale the tax burden up commensurate with wages. That people bribe votes with cuts is immaterial; we're talking conceptually here.

    Take Econ101, you'd learn something. Like about price discovery, risk takers, risk appetite v reward.

    Until you get basic grasp of these concepts, there's little point debating with you, starting as you do from such a low base.


    No, it's not. Inequality is a problem in the US because you have this pathological obsession with dismantling the welfare state. It's becoming a problem in other places largely because material priorities have shifted and luxury goods are no longer the domain of the wealthy. The downside being that people with less disposable incomes still must have Ralph Lauren polo shirts and iPhones and given they have less discretionary spending it's impact in other areas. Which is America's version of capitalism - consumerism - at work.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  15. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7

    something about this phrase just... shuts down my brain a little bit
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  16. blubeast1237 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2007
    star 5

    *Shrugs* I guess I should respond, but only because of the insults.lol

    You disagreed with a point that I didn't make/disagree with initially on the progressive tax. I just stated that I don't think equality of income is the goal of the progressive tax, which you didn't even refute.

    I've taken more than econ 101, but that's a bit distracting from the issue that you're describing this system within the current system, not in the state of the capitalist society in theory and what it would need to maintain itself. But... Idk, maybe I didn't make it explicit that I was thinking of theory. Its not unusual though for that mistake to be made.

    To the last point, the only real point of disagreement that holds any validity, I would say I disagree. Its VERY obvious that what our society needs now is for people to buy things, consumerism, yes, but to blame income inequality on poor people spending out of their means is a bit absurd. Income Inequality would be a problem even without people spending outside their means because the system, at least in America, is obviously stacked against the people at the bottom. Along with the political influence that the rich has, this consumerism that you're criticizing itself may be a product of income inequality. Adam Smith said that is an objection on a society when people cannot go out of their house without shame (of what they own/wear); in a way this has been manufactured in America and somewhat world wide.

    And my comment of "No one would want to become rich." lol, taken a bit out of context, but I'll bite. When I say no one would want to be rich, I'm meaning something very particular: If everyone was being balanced towards a particular, or equal, outcome and the forces shifting these scales was of overwhelming influence, then the idea that I have to work hard or be innovative to achieve this end would become moot, would it not? But maybe I'm coming at this from afar. Lets say that the inequalities, or the forces behind it, are illegitimate. The income inequality could then be blamed directly on the institutional falseness of the systems.
  17. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    the idea that you have to "work hard" to become "rich" is a myth. the vast majority of people in the wealthiest classes today inherited their wealth. many of the others made their money through means that i would hardly consider particularly "hard work"
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Jun 29, 2014
  18. blubeast1237 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2007
    star 5
    I can agree with this sentiment, at least today. I can't make the second part of your claim, but I haven't seen the same evidence you have. Where did you get it from? (Serious inquiry)
  19. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    do you consider day trading to be harder work than day labor?
  20. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9

    Hate to break it to you dog but those old school methods of making money are dying. Why would I pay someone an active management fee when an ETF designed to track a particular index will net the same or better returns for a fraction of the management costs?

    Bear in mind that a lot of traders either take a clip for advising on the trades they make; or only take pay if a strategy is successful.
  21. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7

    so social mobility is becoming even more of a fairy tale? good...?
  22. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Well, I can't speak for the US but in Australia, the highest rates of social mobility are among... tradesmen.
  23. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7

    ive heard about that. apparently your neoliberals were comparatively tame so far
  24. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Well, no, we just had a government that facilitated ease of access. Didn't patronise the working class by assuming that the nanny state knew their needs and wants better than they did ;)
  25. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    just saying you didnt have a thatcher or a reagan to break the back of labor. but i must confess that's hearsay, as i dont know the lay of the australian political-economic landscape well at all