Sunday, October 20, 2013

What do we think of this?

Below is a short, well-produced film about growing economic inequality in America. It's worth the five minutes it takes to watch it. I'm not sure how I feel about the message. On the one hand, it shows that for all the liberal talk about equality, liberal societies are becoming more unequal. On the other hand, I dislike the idea of statist redistribution of wealth. I particularly dislike statist wealth distribution which encourages people to make poor life choices.

Still, my ideal society would not be as economically unequal as current day America. But how then do you achieve a more even spread of wealth, without unjustly taking wealth from those who own it (and without discouraging people from creating wealth in the first place)?



22 comments:

  1. Encourage entrepreneurial activity, discourage corporate concentration of power. Consider getting rid of zero-liability corporations all together.

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    1. Can you, or someone else, explain the zero-liability issue?

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    2. I spoke without exactness. What I mean is that currently corporations are too large and in practice have virtually zero accountability for their malfeasance. See, for example, the lack of criminal penalties for banks involved in the banking crisis. I don't suggest we get rid of limited liability corporations.

      Why not cap the amount a corporation can be capitalized? Surely we would be better off without these big beasts that act as vectors for social liberalism and long term economic fragility.

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    3. I suppose Anonymous writes about "privatizing profits and socializing losses" of some big corporations.

      If I have not missed something in the document, the distribution violates the Pareto principle. Interesting.

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    4. Thanks, that gives an idea of what is meant.

      Anon wrote:

      "Why not cap the amount a corporation can be capitalized? Surely we would be better off without these big beasts that act as vectors for social liberalism and long term economic fragility."

      I'm sympathetic to the general aim, though I'm not sure other trads would be. I think you're right that the big corporations aren't likely to support traditional social arrangements. If we want to have an economic class to support us, then perhaps we need to think about ways to support smaller businesses that rely on local patronage and loyalty. I don't want to rush in, though, with specific policies - they need to be carefully thought through.

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  2. I bet if that 1% gave all their money away the dollar would be hyper-inflated out of existence.

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  3. "But how then do you achieve a more even spread of wealth, without unjustly taking wealth from those who own it "

    More homogenous societies such as Japan and previously Scandinavia tend to have a more even spread of wealth, due to (a) a more even distribution of abiiity in the population and (b) stronger fellow-feeling - solidarity, which leads to eg less of a pay differential between bottom and top. Diversity harms solidarity and encourages a robber-baron mentality at the top.

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    1. Right.

      Wealth represents political power, and that matters too. A more homogeneous society such as previously Scandinavia, with a more even spread of wealth as well as more fellow-feeling, social harmony and goodwill, can support an egalitarian politics. That is, a politics that supports a healthy middle class is possible because the middle class has enough money to fund candidates that support middle class values and interests.

      If you look at the American situation, it's not like that. The middle class don't have money, only votes, and a political party cannot survive with no money and no media, only votes. That's why the Republican Party can afford to betray whites, who are 90% of its voters, consistently. No matter how much they hate what is being done to them, they don't have the money to oppose trends within the party or to fund a "third party" which would soon be the second party, since the Republican Party has money but not credibility.

      This is rule by a minority with values and interests distinct from those of the majority, which is the negation of democracy.

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    2. Simon and Titus... that's exactly correct. It is worth noting that the efforts of the left here in the U.S. are especially meretricious when it comes to this income inequality business. Rhetoric centers on "the 1%" but this group is pretty much untouched by anything the democrats do. Instead, it's the penulltmate and antepenultime groupings that get slammed... not coincidentally the groups that have *some* allegiance to traditional American ways of life, and the means to make productive contributions to preserve them.

      The working class, meanwhile, has been all but pushed entirely out of existence. To the extent that their bureaucratic "betters" would prefer to welcome foreigners, effectively making the US labor market coextensive with the world one, they are pushed into the lowest-wage occupations, or state assistance. Their being "american" is a strike against them.

      Also, the democrats are also working assiduously, under "environmentalist" auspices, to sink, or at least limit, those sectors of the US economy most promising to working class people... I'm thinking of fracking and other energy sector developments.

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    3. Aaron S., agreed.

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  4. Poverty has become a very relative thing in the west. The truth is that there is no actual poverty in western countries any more. The poverty that exists is entirely self-inflicted poverty. If you spend most of your income on drugs or gambling rather than on paying the rent you’re not poor, just stupid. If you decide to have a bunch of kids even though you’re not married you’re not poor, just stupid.

    The problem with this outstanding success story of western civilisation is that it takes away the Left’s biggest issue. So the Left stopped talking about poverty and started talking about economic inequality. Even though every single person in the western world today is fabulously wealthy compared to the way just about everybody lived a couple of hundred years ago the Left has no intention of celebrating the success of capitalism in bringing that about. Now the whine is that some people have more.

    What we do have is relative poverty. And relative poverty is not poverty. If you’re earning $200,000 a year you’re poor compared to someone earning $500,000 a year.

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    1. Dfordoom, point taken. However, is there still not a slipping of the middle-classes happening? For instance, my father, my father-in-law and my uncles got a good education, good jobs and were able to accumulate a modest amount of wealth through investments and all retired comfortably at a time of their choosing. It's not possible for me to follow them in this; as after repaying mortgage payments I don't have enough money to invest (I would have to borrow money speculatively to fund investments). The only way I could accumulate wealth like the older generation would be to have my wife work full-time in a good job. But that is still slippage - it means a dual income family income would be replacing what used to be single income one.

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    2. "The truth is that there is no actual poverty in western countries any more. The poverty that exists is entirely self-inflicted poverty. If you spend most of your income on drugs or gambling rather than on paying the rent you’re not poor, just stupid. If you decide to have a bunch of kids even though you’re not married you’re not poor, just stupid."

      There actually is poverty in the west and it is not self-inflicted. There are people who do not use drugs or gamble. Who have everything going for them that still get locked out of the system.
      Some of the big reasons for this is mass immigration, off shoring, Work place discrimination ("reverse racism")

      "n paying the rent you’re not poor, just stupid. If you decide to have a bunch of kids even though you’re not married you’re not poor, just stupid."

      So for instance all the young Australian locked out of the home market? Having to pay increased costs of goods. Unable to find work in an already industry dry country with an almost open borders policy on foreign workers. They are stupid?

      No Dfordoom your comments are incredibly hurtful to any counter-left movement. Time and again I see the complete mind boggling stupid reaction to the lefts insincere compassion with "rightwing" elitist bigotry. Almost as if you are playing into their stereotypes or worse a plant.

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  5. Relative poverty isn't squalor, but it is relative powerlessness, even regarding things that touch on one's vital interests. If the wealthy decide that you neighborhood will be integrated with Muslims and violently criminal blacks, if they decide that your marriage will be redefined as the same sort of thing as a homosexual shack-up, if they decide that your wife will be incentivized with cash and prizes to divorce you, if they decide that your children will be indoctrinated in homosexuality and discouraged from marrying and breeding, and even if the financial elite decide to outright genocide you with mass immigration and forced integration, you are out of luck. You and all your friends may complain, but nobody will have the money to fund an opposition even to your own genocide.

    That's the negation of democracy.

    Actually it's worse than that. It's tyranny.

    In medieval England, the king had a lot of rights, but one right he never had was the right to settle foreigners in the land. Everyone understood that that would be deadly for the English.

    In modern pseudo-democracies, we don't have a life and death right that medieval peasants had. In a vital way, we are worse off than they were.

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  6. What is "absolute wealth, by the standard of previous societies"? If it is consumption, other things are more important. If absolute wealth is the difference between a black and white tv with a 3.5" screen versus home theater with a 40" 3d screen, I don't think that matters at all.

    If you are getting a Soylent Green sendoff, collectively, it doesn't matter how nice the pictures of sunflowers are and how hi-fi the music is.

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  7. Globalization has been driving this trend towards growing economic inequality. Essentially, it creates a much less level playing field between capital and labour. It is now much easier for owners of capital to outsource employment to countries where wages are lower and labour standards less restrictive. Conversely, in the case of industries that cannot be easily outsourced (construction, services, etc.) it is now much easier to insource low-wage labour. The native working class, and increasingly the native middle class, is caught in a bind with no easy exit. The old unionized working class is becoming a lumpenproletariat that subsists on McJobs and disability beneifits. Middle class parents try to get elite jobs for their children (e.g., in finance or law) but there just aren't enough elite positions to go around.

    All of this is happening because the elite invests a lot of money in creating the right ideological environment, essentially by buying influence in the media and academia. This isn't a new problem. It's just that the elites have gotten better at it.

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    1. "Essentially, it creates a much less level playing field between capital and labour."

      That's an important point. This has had a major effect on the income of my brother, in the IT industry. He was making good money for a while, but has lately found it more difficult to get contracts due to the use of 457 visas by employers.

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  8. What about feminism's role in creating more inequality? Because of hypergamy, women will never marry down and never help raise a man from a lower socio-economic status to a higher one, as men do many times with women. A society with feminism is a much more unequal and less egalitarian one than is one without feminism.

    See these articles for more on that:

    Why feminized societies will fail by Vox Day

    http://alphagameplan.blogspot.ca/2013/07/why-feminized-societies-will-fail.html

    And here's a Canadian mainstream newspaper columnist arriving at a similar conclusion!

    Margaret Wente: How alpha women are changing our world in unimaginable ways.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/age-of-the-alpha-woman/article14917148/

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  9. http://www.amren.com/news/2013/10/why-have-young-people-in-japan-stopped-having-sex/

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  10. One possible way of restraining the cancerously disproportionate growth of corporations is to do away with CEOs and boards and keep business tied to a distinct man and his family. A CEO is a gun for hire who will make profitable short term decisions and then move on before the long term consequences come home to roost.
    It is interesting that the one US automaker who didn't accept the government bailout was Ford, a business which is still primarily family owned.

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  11. A citizen's dividend financed by asset based taxation instead of taxing production and labour.

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