Re: MD In Defense Of Socialism?

Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 16:34:10 BST

Hi Andrea
>From Rog

Actually you replied within 24 hours!

Before I go on let me clarify that I didn't start the ill defined term
"socialist". It has been an ambiguously defined term that has been floating
in posts for several weeks now. The arguments to date by you and others have
been anti-free enterprise (others have already pointed out that the critics
don't agree with each other on what they suggest instead or what THEY meant
by socialism). I will offer that the viable economic alternatives range from
complete lassaiz faire capitalism to complete state controlled command
economies. Are there any PURE examples of either extreme in practice? No
probably not.

Further, I have already agreed that I do not support unregulated capitalism
either. My argument, is that the free enterprise system -- with proper
controls -- though by no means perfect, offers immense social values. I also
agree that the range of emphasis between freedom and state centralisation is
something we can and do need to experiment with. I think various
Scandinavian countries are great experiments to one extreme. The US is
another extreme. OK?

The fact that free enterprise works "so well"
isn't in my book, unless you are referring to making money - yes, that's what
free enterprise is good at.

But it works smashingly well here. We have the freedom to choose a career in
various fields that add value to others or to start our own business that
offers goods or services that others need. We have freedom, a high standard
of living where the wealthy pay the majority of taxes, great universities,
health care, science, technology, control of crime etc.The US really is a
very safe and comfortable place to live or visit despite Hollywood depictions
and occasional anecdotal incidents to the contrary (after all, RMP already
spoke to the dangers of being dynamic).

But money (maybe originally meant as a way to ease
the circulation of goods) can also become a means to give the right to
someone to
prevent others from accessing possibly vital resources, or to buy political
juridical support while having immoral and destructive behavior, etc.

Yes, money is an extremely dynamic social value pattern "enabler". It allows
people to trade disparate goods and services efficiently and economically
across time and space. Your concern is with centralized, disproportionate
power (as partially measured by money) that can lead to exploitation. I
share this concern. Any good society must control exploitation. Free
enterprise does this primarily through competing interest groups. State
controlled economies suffer from the same threat of exploitation by the
state, often without checks and balances.

I heard *this* argument (of people being evil) over and over and over again.
There are millions of counters to it, and I am choosing one at random just for
the sake of diversity: people actually care for (small) collectives such as
family, besides and sometimes even more than they care for themselves.
Selfishness is not the primary force in human nature, or I hope so. On the
hand, if it *is*, I just don't care about the fate of humanity at all.

Who said anything about people being evil? I said people having the choice
to do what they want. I will even add "as long as it doesn't hurt others.'
This includes supporting one's family or community or whatever. Why do you
assume that people having the freedom to pursue their desires in ways that
doesn't harm others is evil? Let's get to the root of this issue...OK?

A: capitalistic systems you have political power and *economical* power,
latter is too often controlling the former, and it is the farthest thing from
being free representational democracy, is it. Tell me about G.W.Bush and
energetic laws, and how petrol companies supported his campaign. Tell me about
philip morris, microsoft...

I will instead point to environmentalist groups and consumer opinion, to the
democrats, to the legislative and judicial branch, to trial attorneys that
are extracting billions from the abusive cigarette manufacturers, to AOL and
the US govt parrying the overgrowth of microsoft. Does one powerful group
gain the upper hand at any one time? Yes, but the checks and balances of our
diverse culture corrects for these abuses over time.

... IMO, it's contradictory
to be fans of the MOQ and supporters of the "free" market system "as is".
Nevertheless, I think free enterprise per se could be dynamic, but for
monopolies aren't (and you have them today despite all anti-trust laws).

The free enterprise systems are exremely dynamic -- creating much of the
social and technical and intellectual patterns that are spreading around the
world. The freedom and creativity is awesome. Open yourself to the
possibility! (I already spoke out several times against monopolies -- they
are a very bad thing but pretty rare overall)

How can you denigrate selfishness when it obviously means "freedom to pursue
that which one values" in terms of the MOQ? Certainly you don't think
promotes viscious win/lose selfishness more than other economic models do?
Or do

This really makes my hair stand, Rog. Selfishness is about what one values,
the freedom to pursue it. You are selfish if the value you pursue is, for
example, being as wealthy as you can independent of what happens to your

I agree that it is immoral to pursue one's values "at the expense of" others,
 ie stealing , cheating, lying, refusing to honor contracts, raping murdering
etc. But why do you want to force someone to be subservient to others? Talk
to me. Like David, this 'selfishness" thing is some undefined term that
seems to lead to all types of conclusions. Let's talk it out.....

Plus, as I have exposed ad nauseam now, IMO we are selfish as much as, and
because, the economical system wants us to be, to boost consumerism. We don't
share because it's better if everyone buys his/her own lawnmower even if you
it 2 hours a week and your neighbors too - better for the lawnmower sellers.
the western way, you have freedom to pursue that which you value (within
limits, especially budget) but *that which you value* is strongly influenced
the society. That's mock (not MOQ) freedom, IMO.

Advertisers created selfishness? Ah yes, the myth of the noble
pre-industrialist. Get real. Most of our resources go to housing,
transportation and food. Not designer jeans and tennis shoes. If I want to
buy my own lawn mower I will. However I happen to agree with you. I see
buying one as silly. That is why I pay someone that owns one to mow my lawn
(as do about half my neighbors). And, are you actually arguing that
other-than free enterprise societies don't influence individual values?

The "freedom not to get a job" is an absurdity. There may be cases when one
do that, but I think you wouldn't want to be without a job, and you have
good reasons for it. Especially when you have this quick national health
you mention elsewhere, and have to *pay* for it. Especially when you have high
crime rates in the streets where you might want to sleep at night (if you
have no
money). They tell me you can live pretty good in the USA without a job (hence
without money), but something tells me that it's not gonna be an easy life.
Am I
wrong? If Thoureau was living today, someone would sooner or later come by his
door and tell him this is public ground his house is built on - pay for it or
move. The odds are he would be doing civil disobedience in jail even today, in
the free America.

Funny, I am in the middle of re-reading Walden (it is dog-eared on my
nightstand as I type). Interestingly, Mr Thoreau did indeed work on Walden
Pond as a surveyor and handyman. He contributed to the local community while
"selfishly" taking care of his own needs (please correct me if I use your "s"
word wrong.)
As for freedom to not work, I said you are free to choose it, not that you
are free to choose it and have the ability to force others to pay for your
choice. (and crime isn't what hollywood leads you to believe. Every free
country has bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods)

...So one of the reason communistic regimes
didn't work was that rich people in non-communistic regimes got frightened and
economically and militarily sieged them. (It's amazing, there's always so many
viewpoints to look at things from). They had to fight hard to survive and to
spend huge amounts of money for defense (see USSR). And, they were poorer in
beginning too. Plus, they tried to provide *each* of their citizens with food,
shelter, health support and so on prior to everything else except survival of
nation. They just had less money to spend. Western countries developed a lot
high-quality because they were richer and, in their priorities, intellectual
accomplishments came before some *biological-quality* level accomplishment for
the masses, too.

Ah yes, free countries sieged communists. Thanks for the history. And I
assure you, even the poorest person here is above the middle class in any
past or present communist regime. And the beauty of it is that the poor here
are not destined to be poor in the future. In fact most poor become middle
class over time. You were aware of this weren't you Andrea?

My problem with the free enterprise system nowadays is that while I see a
good trend in western societies, despite many problems, I can't think this is
good as long as I see the third world going worse and the environment being
destroyed. I think that possibly the free enterprise system "as is" is making
world go steadily *down* the quality curve, albeit some micro-systems are
up (western nations). Selfishness about your personal private properties is
something I can smile at, but selfishness about what happens outside the
western-average-to-rich microcosmos is something I want to be out all the way.

No argument on environmental damage from any economic/political system. My
only argument is that there is only one proven system to elevate standards of
living, and it is economic freedom controlled to avoid exploitation by an
excessively powerful state, the wealthy, or corporations. Moderated free


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