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This week millionaire investor and star of Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary said income inequality is “a great thing because it inspires everybody” to want to be like the one percent. He was responding to an Oxfam report that stated that the world’s richest 85 people had more wealth than half of the world’s populations.

What was interesting is that he had no desire to think deeply about the meaning of a system where income inequality and wealth disparity was a systemic byproduct. Mr. O’Leary’s thought process reflects the thought process of the current masters of capitalism. Any talking head on CNBC would articulate as much.

Dr. Gar Alperovitz and David Benson visited The Rothko Chapel for a discussion about capitalism last night. Dr. Gar Alperovitz is a professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, and a past legislative director in the House and the Senate. He is a leading theorist in the movement to democratize wealth and build a new, more sustainable and more community focused economy. Dr. Gar Alperovitz included some discussion on his new book What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About The Next American Revolution. David Benson is the director of Programs and Special Projects in the Office of the Commissioner in Harris County Precinct One.

Both of these men are real liberals, real progressives. Both were well read. Dr. Gar Alperovitz was the featured speaker though David Benson seemed to connect more with the realities on the ground.

Follow me below the fold to read more about what these men had to say about the path to an America without capitalism.

Dr. Gar Alperovitz stated that socialism (defined by him as state ownership of all means of production) and today’s capitalism has failed the average human being. After all, he said Soviet-type economies desperately failed and America’s economy is failing many. The answer to what comes after today’s capitalism is somewhere in between he says.

David Benson, who works on the ground with real people—the indigent, people looking for jobs, people underemployed—believes that a societal change based on a new economy is necessary now. He alluded to Americans being conditioned to be silent sufferers. There is a pent-up demand for change that can only come with upheaval of the masses. He provided examples of the type of suffering in Harris County Texas.

These apply throughout the entire country. Harris County farms out its jail population. Because the public and private entities have a vested interest in keeping them filled, communities housing them become feed stocks to imprison for that purpose. David Benson also presented solutions being implemented in his precinct now while some transition occurs. He talks about partnering with local businesses to form public/private alliances to reuse material normally written off or food normally written off or discarded.

Both men agreed that today’s capitalism is responsible for the current income inequality and wealth disparity. They both alluded to the system being biased against the worker. Both believed that only through some hybrid of collective ownership of the means of production and therein employment can these disparities be mitigated.

The first thing that was obvious was the contrast between two intellects based on how they view the effects of today’s capitalism on the masses. Dr. Gar Alperovitz, the author and academic, had great abstract ideas. He however could not express them in a manner that had a material effect on people’s everyday lives. His approach is above the fray and somewhat ivory tower in that it does not provide marching orders but more a la carte solutions without direction or bias. Mr. David Benson was not only a man that was working within the community, he was putting some of Dr. Gar Alperovitz's concepts into action for his particular community. In doing so he realized that a time will come where the coming change will not be as peaceful as Dr. Gar Alperovitz alludes to.

Mr. David Benson is correct. The Oxfam report had the following conclusion:

This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.
If one steps out of the ivory towers and examine the ups and downs of the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is evident that when the current order is threatened, the system reacts not as the supposed democracy it is supposed to be but the fascism that is today’s capitalism.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Capitalism (which is the best of all systems) (18+ / 0-)

    has become too top heavy in its present state.

    If we just say "markets" instead of capitalism we get overwhelming support for the same rough concept.

    Present day capitalism consists of many cartels, trusts, and quasi monopolies.  The solution lies in distributing the means of production to local markets somehow but the devil is in the details.  An Intel Corp, for instance, cannot be reformed as a local market.  Conversely a Wal-Mart could be.

    I am confident I know the problem but the solution is far more complex to calculate.

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

    by shrike on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:41:19 PM PST

    •  Teeter-totter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nicteis

      More like a teeter-totter with a fat kid with ice cream cones in both hands on one end.
      And the kid is crying because the teeter-totters don't work that way.

      I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

      by roninkai on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:13:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I propose Progressive Capitalism (0+ / 0-)

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      The current greedy capitalism is not the only capitalistic framework that is possible.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:57:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism has outlived its usefulness (13+ / 0-)

      Capitalism only works in a time of shortages from lack of production.
        It worked well because if you didn't produce (and thus help offset the shortage of production) then you starved. The more you produced, the more you ate.
        It was great motivation.

       Those days have passed.
      We can now produce far more than we can consume. The only way scarcity is enforced now is by impoverishing the workers, which creates more overproduction and thus becomes a whole different problem.

        I don't know what the future economic system will be, but I'm pretty certain it won't be some compromise between two failed economic systems of the past (state socialism and capitalism).

      None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

      by gjohnsit on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:35:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see why Intel (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nautical Knots

      or other corporations can't be reformed as local markets, at least in the sense of national markets as opposed to being global transnationals corps. Remember that corporations were originally formed for a specific purpose and a limited time, say 20 years. Intel, IBM, GM, Monsanto, any of them could be split up into national entities. The "parent" company, the one with the R&D or production, could sell its products or license its technology to its national offshoots for a contractual 10 or 20 years, but each one would be independent, all profits or losses confined to its nation of incorporation and thus under the control of local governments. Intel HQ would have no say in the operations of the Baby Intels other than protection of its brand, trademarks, etc.

      I would like to see all transnationals converted to nationals (or possibly small regions for tiny neighboring nations such as Costa Rica and Panama).

    •  In the best of all systems,is all is for the best? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel

      Please be candid.

      I disagree with you. I think we've barely begun to state the problem, which is why we have so few solutions. Further, we do not state the problem well enough that the solutions we have are generally accepted, or understood sufficiently by many of the powerful.

  •  This sound more like feudal social stratification, (5+ / 0-)

    together with the guilds protecting their turf.  In you analysis, the function of capital is nowhere to be seen, only the predations of power, political and financial.  One ha to wonder whether there is, in an international sense, any capital in existence not pledged to a creditor through a combination of credit default swaps, other derivatives and an international monetary system that only burdens the exercise of production and transfer of wealth to the extent that there is little or no incentive to produce, at least from an economic standpoint.

    Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

    by StrayCat on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:42:29 PM PST

  •  A question tough to argue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, Thomas Twinnings, skymutt

    If not capitalism, what?  

    Can someone answer this?  

    •  Social democracy (34+ / 0-)

      Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Germany to a great extent, even France and I am sure I am missing others.

      Canada to some extent.  Costa Rica has national health care.  

      Heavy regulation of finance in particular but other businesses as well for health and safety.  Strong protection for collective bargaining.  Progressive income tax system, heavy wealth taxes on inheritance.  Major permanent investment in public education, health care, child care.  Public funding of campaigns for public office.  

      Label is irrelevant.  Good luck getting any of it.

      •  Those are capitalist states. (6+ / 0-)

        The taxonomical confusion around here is too much to bear.

        It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

        by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:26:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Labels are pointless (6+ / 0-)

          This is why I did not use labels.  yes all those countries have capitalism, much private industry, finance, manufacturing in private hands.  They also have national health care programs that cover everyone, extensive public transit, child care, family care and subsidies policies, various programs in senior/elder care well beyond what we do,  etc etc.

          I care less about the label, more about what government is doing and for whom.

        •  State socialism (6+ / 0-)

          The scandanavian countries have state socialism, which was an idea originally created as a middle step towards marxism.
             Real socialism/marxism doesn't have nation states. Socialism, as it was designed, was the anti-nationalism.

            People forget that nationalism, as we know it, was a recent development, and is only a few centuries old.
             Same goes for capitalism.

           We think from inside this tiny box, as if the future will look just like the present, but with brighter colors.

          None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

          by gjohnsit on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:42:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  state socialism (0+ / 0-)

            I thought that state socialism was that the means of production were owned by the state.  Aren't the Scandinavian countries more of a socialist/capitalist hybrid?

            One cannot raise the bottom of a society without benefiting everyone above. Michael Harrington

            by tporky on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:59:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  We could go full Immanuel Wallerstein (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            limpidglass, StrayCat

            Socialist World Government! Just saying that would be enough to set off FoxNews / TPers, lol.

            I must confess poverty of imagination, as I really can't think of any future political economy that wouldn't basically lie somewhere along a 'market socialism'. I mean, there will always be some kind of market at some level of the economy, and there will always be some form of government that will play a central role in interacting the economy. If it's more decentralized, it would almost have to be market based; if overarching directives (equality, efficiency, environment) were set, a government would have to be involved.

            Off the top of my head, maybe some kind of TechnoWorld where massive computers replaced the market mechanism for determining allocation of resources for production? Or perhaps an economy where all environmental costs were included at full value to maintain a self-perpetuating economy/environment.

            Absent Star Trek replicators, there will always be scarcity of some kind. Which leads to issues of allocation of resources and distribution of outcomes, good and bad.

            I would say that I don't think scientific and technological progress will favor lots of smaller organizations; cutting-edge manufacturing (think microchips) will require more power, which requires larger facilities, which require larger organizations to oversee. Once factors of production are mass-produced, then yes you can have smaller organizations in the chain (think Taiwanese electronics shops), but at the base the historical trend seems to be continual growth in size.

            •  Why is capitalism in its present form the only (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Berkeley Fred

              possible method of allocation? That Gosplan failed doesn't mean all other possible mechanisms will fail, or that capitalist allocation won't fail.

              •  I didn't say that (0+ / 0-)

                If I wasn't clear, I do think the most likely future is some hybrid of a market economy and a socialist economy; the question is what the relative balance is. And at least in the US, I expect we will move more towards socialist principles (we could hardly be more monopolistic capitalist).

                Capitalism is both successful in terms of generating profit, and a failure in terms of economic distribution. I don't know if or when conditions will deteriorate sufficiently to provoke popular resistance to our current political economy. However, I do think that environmental and energy constraints will ultimately force a radical change to capitalism.

                No amount of Koch PAC money or Fox propaganda can change the fact that there is not enough free energy left to increase consumption much more than today, and the environment will likely catastrophically collapse long before we meet those limits.

          •  No they don't. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            StrayCat

            The state doesn't own any means of production of consequence in those countries.  It used to, but then they privatized.

            It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

            by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:55:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  They're not pure capitalist states. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StrayCat, TiaRachel

          They employ elements of capitalism. The US is tending towards pure capitalism, which preserves and amplifies existing power. State intervention is not a corruption of capitalism, it is the necessary consequence whilst there is a state. If the state were not there to act as a proxy, the same actions would be performed by the owners' institutions directly, or they would construct their own state. It's always good to have someone to blame and do the dirty work.

          •  They employ elements of non-capitalism. (0+ / 0-)

            They're capitalist states.  My point is that the diary is about transcending capitalism but there's no agreement in the comments among people who simply want to change the flavor of capitalism and those who want to replace it.  That latter group is respectable but how and why they're Democrats is beyond me.

            It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

            by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:56:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't necessarily want to replace capitalism (0+ / 0-)

              I want us collectively to investigate alternatives in case better ones exist, or there are novel, overlooked or ill-understood ways it can be improved. Secondly, in a FPP system, it is not rational to vote  or to try to vote for or shape the policy (except for theoretical purposes, perhaps) of any other party unless you think Rs and Ds are the same, or live in a safe D area.

            •  Semantics. Yours is not the only used definition (0+ / 0-)

              of "capitalist state", and it seems too broad to be useful. Capitalism is an element of those states, it is not their defining characteristic. It's a (somewhat, certainly notably) widely held belief that those states are not truly capitalist, and that neither is the US, because they distort the free market. So I think your absolute pronouncements are a little hasty. If they are capitalist states, by what definition specifically?

          •  Well, in the present circumstance, do we have (0+ / 0-)

            states as applied to the financial activities, or have the owners already become a state with respect to anything that concerns their core interests?

            Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

            by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:32:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  USA 40's thru 60's. We never Took it As Far (11+ / 0-)

        as those countries in many areas, but we do have an extensive history. As late as LBJ we were able to cut the poverty rate in half.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:27:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can hear (0+ / 0-)

        all politicians from both sides screaming from here.

        If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

        by RepresentUsPlease on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:48:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This would be an improvement, however, that (0+ / 0-)

        was the direction we were headed when the corps bought our government and out media from under us.  And we sold out cheaply.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:27:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  At this point socially responsible capitalism (7+ / 0-)

      seems just an oxymoron.

      "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

      by rocksout on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:56:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Richard Wolff believes the future is in (5+ / 0-)

      "workers self-directed enterprises"  See http://www.democracyatwork.info/...

      A WSDE is somewhat like a co-op:

      WSDE’s are enterprises in which all the workers who collaborate to produce its outputs also serve together, collectively as its board of directors. Each worker in any WSDE thus has two job descriptions: (1) a particular task in the enterprise’s division of labor, and (2) full participation in the directorial decisions governing what, how and where to produce and how to use the enterprise’s surplus or profits.

      An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

      by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:15:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds good to me. Notice the words "collaborate," (4+ / 0-)

        "collectively," "full participation," "like a co-op." Doesn't sound
        competitive like the old model, does it?

        "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

        by Wildthumb on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:34:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This sounds like the old Knights of Labor. (3+ / 0-)

        They wanted capitalism in the sense of individual enterprises competing with one another, but with the workers owning the means of production directly, not through the state.

        The technical problems with that scenario are daunting and IMHO insoluble. How, for example, could enterprises like Dow Chemical, Google, Apple, Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto etc. be governed directly by a workers' democracy, or by making their enterprises into small cooperatives?

        It is the present privileged status of the corporation that is the problem, not the "evil" men and women who own them. The corporation produces the men and women; it is not the uniquely evil men and women who produce the corporation and thus our doom.

        For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

        by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:12:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Joe - the place to start isn't the Fortune 100 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OrganicChemist

          You are right that's a tall mountain to climb. The place to start is with the small and medium sized businesses. How do we make the employees a competitive force to buy those businesses when the owners are ready to sell?

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:20:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Why must leaders be imposed to be effective? (0+ / 0-)

          Why can't they be selected? I fear that you've mistaken the corruption of democracy for its ineffectiveness.

        •  Good insight, however, I would submit that (0+ / 0-)

          the corporate organizational form allows the less moral and more driven among us to rise within a setting in which individual morals are submitted to a corporate goal, and the goal, and what is seen as required to reach that goal becomes the mores of the group when in the corporate setting.  The same Vice Presidents and other officers would never steal from their neighbor, but will assist in such to forward the goals of the corporation.  Not a lot different than being in the army in wartime.

          Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

          by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:43:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think employee owned companies are one of (0+ / 0-)

        the important trends that we need to foster. The US should have a public policy agenda to support employee owned companies. Every year tens of thousands of small and medium sized businesses in the US are sold. I would like to see public policies that make the employees have a real chance to be competitive bidders for those companies. This is an area I hope to do some work on and start writing diaries later in 2014.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:17:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like a general assembly at Occupy Wall (0+ / 0-)

        street.  Unfortunately the Hunan soul is made of crooked timber indeed.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:38:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There are several (0+ / 0-)

      ideas floating around. Steady State Economics, for example, which is measured by the well-being of he citizens, not by obscene profit margins. Workers cooperatives (like Mondragon in Spain, the windows company in Chicago (can't remember the name -- New Era or something)), and others around the globe. Small, local currencies based on local goods and services exchanges.

      Personally, I'd like to propose mandatory nomadism. Our troubles started when we discovered agriculture and settled into villages then towns, then cities. When you stay in one place most of the time, you tend to have room to put stuff and that gives you the desire for more stuff. With mandatory nomadism, you move so frequently that hauling lots of stuff around becomes oppressive. So your consumer desire goes way down. (Yes, I'm being lamely snarky here.)

      And there is a great interest in many disciplines at looking for ways to increase empathy and cooperation in our economic system . . . that would fundamentally change capitalism into something else.

    •  Democratic Socialism. It's what's for dinner. (0+ / 0-)

      For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

      by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:56:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is the wrong question (4+ / 0-)

      because it presupposes, in the minds of many, that there exists a simple choice between what we have now, and what would benefit the most people.

      Then we get a fight about Soviet Russia, and other complete irrelevancies.

      The question should presuppose that what we have now (monopoly capitalism) is both fatally flawed, and broken beyond repair ... so where do we want to go, and what steps do we need to take to incrementally get there?

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:07:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If not the horse and cart, what? (0+ / 0-)

      If not wattle and daub, what?

      We need better societal technology. There is no program to develop it. It is unreasonable to expect fully-formed, inassailable systems of thought to be presented. We can't sensibly predict what can replace it. We should be willing to imagine, though, and not scared to. What do you imagine replacing it? What frightens you about that system? What other systems might exist?

      One step is to create realistic economic and societal models. The accepted economic wisdom is demonstrably flawed, incomplete and even fraudulent.

      Another is to examine alternative systems of transaction. Cryptography has vast potential here (BitCoin is more or less eGold: it's a very rough first draft). These have the potential to displace money when used in conjunction with a legal system that marginalises fungibility.

      Democracy is inherently in conflict with capitalism. I don't think it's a complete answer, but a more powerful demos, more distributed power, would not just require, but I think cause the marginalisation of capitalism. There may be a future for a tame capitalism, just as there are still horses and traps.

      I don't think the question should be whether capitalism should exist. It simply does (in terms of money existing). The question should be how the institutions capitalism generates can be made less powerful or prevented by displacement. The key to that is better understanding of it and its consequences by all sectors of society.

      Another better question would be: what can we have instead of privately owned, mandated profit financial institutions? That almost answers itself.

  •  "In Between." Actually There Was Something In (8+ / 0-)

    between the start of the Soviet era and today's restoration of Gilded Age capitalism:

    New Deal - Great Society liberal governance, here and in much of the developed world.

    In between in terms of timing and of economics.

    Step one may be knowing you have a problem, but step two is knowing that you once had it solved.

    That era's governance here and abroad need to be the starting point for discussion.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:47:24 PM PST

  •  the irony of having it in the Rothko Chapel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, ichibon, tardis10

    makes it even more important to reflect on the void that capitalism has created

    The Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas, founded by John and Dominique de Menil. The interior serves not only as a chapel, but also as a major work of modern art. On its walls are fourteen black but color hued paintings by Mark Rothko.
    The Menil Collection, located in Houston, Texas, USA, refers either to a museum that houses the private art collection of founders John de Menil and Dominique de Menil, or to the collection itself. Dominique was an heir to the Schlumberger oil-drilling fortune, and John was an executive of that company.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:48:14 PM PST

  •  It's good to see the very topic taken up in (7+ / 0-)

    "column left," but these paragraphs seriously need developing.

    I've long thought that we've needed a peaceful transition to a hybrid economic system, with tons more "microeconomies" not dependent on massive corporations. I've yet to see a real people's movement to pass the talent, the resources, the healthcare, the shelter, and the wealth around in genuine cooperation rather than competition. It's competition that divides and polarizes the human race and cooperation that unites us.

    I don't think anybody knows how the most humane economic movement will look yet.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:49:38 PM PST

    •  Some competition is necessary and good (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hmi, AlexDrew, Pi Li

      it is competition in the market place that leads to innovation.  

      Take out competition -- and, more importantly, the competitive incentives --  and you get economic stagnation.  

      •  I never tire of your 19th Century ideas. (11+ / 0-)

        What are you doing to further your own wealth? Because that's what everyone wants to know. Because there is nothing more important that what a person is doing in Capitalism Today ™ and everyone wants to know. Because you folks are so much smarter than we are.

        Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

        by commonmass on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:55:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, competition is good. It's just that (5+ / 0-)

          the unbridled greed that seems to come with winning that competition is getting in the way of social progress.

          "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

          by rocksout on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:04:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And Coffeetalk is high into it. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z, rocksout, Ezekiel in Exile

            She hates any competition she doesn't win, and God help the people of the United States.

            Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

            by commonmass on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:30:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Think we seriously have to question (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TiaRachel

            the competition breeds innovation meme. What type of innovation? Necessary, or useless and wasteful?

            What if society was led by true needs and fostered our shared needs, instead of competition, to lead innovation?

            Do we require competition to spur ingenuity to fulfill needs in imaginative ways? I think not.

            •  What do you need? Is it the same thing or things (0+ / 0-)

              that I need?  I know people who feel that they need nothing other than a roof over their head and a musical instrument.  I know others whose needs, as felt by them are many, including electronic toys, and the freedom to travel at any time.  Beyond food, shelter and security, what are needs and what are wants?

              Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

              by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:53:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Small Business Is Not Necessarily Capitalism. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, NoMoreLies

          I've been self employed 15 years now and never earned any part of my living with capital. Nor have I ever borrowed to finance my business. I'm in competition with numerous others in my craft.

          I can see numerous benefits from competition to an extent, like all human drives, it's just a drive and we have it because it's helpful, and like all self-oriented drives it needs to be balanced by community-oriented drives and checks.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:32:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In 15 years you've never made a profit? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            commonmass, VClib

            I suspect you have done so.

            You are a capitalist.  You don't need to borrow money to be a capitalist.  You just need to own the means of production that produces said profit.

            DIRTY ASS CAPITALIST!  

            (all snark of course)

            "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

            by shrike on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:43:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Craftsmen are not necessarily capitalists. In (0+ / 0-)

              that setting, the excess income from the craftsman's labor are put back into materials and other supplies, and not saved and aggregated.

              Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

              by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:55:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, coffeetalk is right. (7+ / 0-)

          The problem is largely that the only ones who have to compete these days are small entrepeneurs and people who need to work for a living.  A bodega has to pay some of the highest corporate taxes in the developed world while the big-box stores pay pennies on the dollar.  A thousand hands arise to slap down workers who dare to form a union -- they have been forced to resort to pre-Depression tactics.  

          Oil prices are set by the OPEC cartel.  Farmers have to sell to whoever owns the local silo.  Cel phone service is split between three companies who charge the highest rates in the developed world.  Cable and utilities are local monopolies, most of whom give generously to legislators and get favorable treatment in return.  In small towns, Wal-Mart is the place to buy the necessities and luxuries of life, so it gets to charge what the market will bear.  Colleges and universities have a chokehold on advancement into the middle class and charge five digits where they used to charge four.  

          The government's reluctance to tax the wealthy, spend on infrastructure and its endless quest for trade deals with countries that shoot uppity workers means that workers must compete for few jobs.

          What we are developing here is a Soviet system of production and distribution.  Instead of commissars, we have Wall Street and the 0.1%.  Instead of Pravda and Izvestiya, we have CNN and Fox.  Instead of the profits going to the commissars, they go to those who are wealthy already.  

          "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

          by Yamaneko2 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:37:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Don't agree. I've worked with volunteers on (9+ / 0-)

        projects without so fucking much as "gas money," and I've never seen such joy in human work. No competition, just pure activity for its own sake, and tons of goodwill to go around. The idea would be to harness that sense of human
        "pitching in" on a massive scale. I think it's doable.

        "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

        by Wildthumb on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:12:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Interestingly, for all the CNBC crowd (8+ / 0-)

        praises competition, they don't really want competition.  Powerful multi-nationals put a lot of resources and energy into making sure their profits never face meaningful competition.  Monsanto gets legislation against organic food labels, Exxon gets propaganda campaigns against renewable energy, Walmart gets gets legislation that undercuts the labor laws, Big Coal gets to keep its chemicals secret, Disney gets to re-write the copyright laws to keep Mickey Mouse from public domain. Some corporations claim legal rights to employees' ideas.  

        "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

        by Reepicheep on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:29:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  necessity is more the trigger for innovation.. (3+ / 0-)

        competition works on paper in a petri dish sized Randian fantasy where the overwhelming advantage of size isn't factored in

        When a garage inventor has the latest idea it is the hugely larger "competition", lacking any invention of its own, yet loaded with 'investment capital' that can and very often does, steal the idea, lawyer up any patent infringements, and the small garage type innovator crushed.

        •  Eric - I have been in the startup business (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limpidglass, nextstep

          for 30 years and have reviewed more than 1,000 business plans and inventions. It may be that I am in the heart of Silicon Valley where inventors are more sophisticated and regularly file patents but I have yet to see a single example of what you have stated, that big companies steal ideas and crush the garage innovator. In my experience if the idea is truly novel, and the patent was well crafted, the big companies will license the technology rather than trying to intimidate the inventor and face possible treble damages.

          I respect that your personal experience could be quite different.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:08:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My experience has been the same.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, nextstep

            I have not near the start-up experience as VClib, but for those I have been involved in, the same things have happened. Larger corps are very happy to license, buy, merge or invest in other peoples' ideas and patents if they look to have merit. Many are quite interested in fostering smaller start-ups - it happens all of the time. I think most of the patent jostling happens on the big-boy level. Look at Apple and Samsung. I've just never seen or heard of much of the nefariousness that Eric described as happening.

            •  The inventor does OK. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TiaRachel

              But the point is that capital is used to acquire more capital without merit. The start-up gets to a certain size, then is taken over by a larger entity. That's the deliberate end-game under the present system. There is little or no competition on the large scale, only newly acquired resources that can shift the market boundaries from Oceania to Eurasia.

          •  How about the windsheild wiper guy? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, Eric Nelson

            That was a pretty famous case. From Wikipedia:

            Robert Kearns

            Having invented and patented the intermittent windshield wiper mechanism, which was useful in light rain or mist, he tried to interest the "Big Three" auto makers in licensing the technology. They all rejected his proposal, yet began to install intermittent wipers in their cars, beginning in 1969.

            “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

            by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 05:43:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  PL - I am sure there are many such examples (0+ / 0-)

              I just think they are not that common in relation to the number of inventions reviewed. If the inventor had a good patent for the intermittent windshield wipers he could have retained a contingency lawyer to litigate the case. In addition, all intellectual property lawyers would advise anyone showing an invention to a big company to have them sign a non-disclosure agreement.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:15:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Whilst competition creates incentive, there is no (0+ / 0-)

        incentive for competition.

      •  I think that there are more notions of what the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        word competition means than are apparent, and that we have different notions here about what it means. Competition in ideas is not the same as market competition.  Nations compete in different ways, and the general term does not seem to capture the differences.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:49:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There is a middle ground: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel

      some competition is neccessary and good.  But the competition does not need to be a zero sum game, with winners and losers and strict division of the proceeds.  The game can be more positive and productive.

      One of the recent social phenomena that I find particularly interesting is that of "free and open-source software".  Free and open source software has become very successful of late.  The big idea is that software can be made free and open to co-operative development.  Note, this does not mean that there are no profits to be made.  Red-Hat, although not a co-op or WSDE, grossed a billion (with a "B") dollars last year, supporting the ecosystem around Linux, perhaps the premiere free and open-source software product.

      An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

      by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:01:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Of course it's ridiculous (3+ / 0-)

    to propose that most people are so unrealistic as to think they might someday be filthy rich.
    And really, I doubt that most people, regardless of their circumstances, would even want to be filthy rich. Most people just want enough money to be secure and have the basics of life, and enough left over for some splurges- which probably doesn't include yachts and multiple villas and worrying that your kids will develop affluenza.

    •  I don't know. A lot of people like to indulge in (0+ / 0-)

      "if I ruled the world" and perfect comfort type fantasies, and see money as a way they might get to that. And lottery tickets sell pretty well-- most people don't want to engage with the fact that the chances of winning are negligible.

  •  Revolutions are Messy Things (7+ / 0-)

    I've been reading about two of the most dramatic revolutions in history: The October Revolution and the French Revolution. Both provide plenty of lessons to be learned by the poor, workers, business owners (or "bourgeoisie", if you prefer), politicians and civic leaders, and of course the very rich.

    In both cases life had become so unbearable for the majority of the "peasants" that they could stand it no longer. In both cases, the masses rightfully attacked the leaders. In both cases things got a lot worse before they got better, and one could argue that in one case, things never did really get better.

    America was conceived to be responsive to such mass yearnings, so it took a while for things to get this way. She had her crisis at the turn of the 20th century, as capitalism was running roughshod over the people. We had no Lenin, but we had Clarence Darrow and others, and we had a president with the foresight to change policies before it got out of hand.

    I am not sure those forces are in play this time: perhaps they did learn from history after all. Did we?

    •  Not Being Up on French History, Is There an End (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bluesee

      period for the French Revolution and its aftermath at which point it was a clear win for the people?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:33:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clarence Darrow? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bluesee, Aquarius40

      What has he to do with this?
      I had a history teacher in high school who posited that had FDR not won, the left would have briefly succeeded in revolution, to be overthrown by fascism.  So the irony of the right wing hatred of FDR is that he saved capitalism.  Though perhaps they did not want to be saved, fascism would have been so much more attractive to them!

    •  Let's not forget (5+ / 0-)

      That Russia in 1918 and France in 1792, both got invaded by literally everyone.
         But revolutions didn't stand much of a chance not to get messy because the capitalists of the rest of the world refused to tolerate it.

      None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

      by gjohnsit on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:47:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Add to that the Anarchist Revolution in Spain. (5+ / 0-)

        On one side, Hitler and Mussolini were helping Franco.  On the other side, Joe Stalin was disarming the Anarchists and plotting to defeat even his own Communists.  On the sidelines, Capitalist "democracies" were doing whatever they could to defeat the revolution without intervening directly.

        Nationalist differences quickly disappear when the fate of the ruling elites is at stake.

        •  Not only that (4+ / 0-)

          the US actually allowed corporations to directly help the fascists by selling them oil and thousands of trucks, and also giving them oil on credit. Some think the fascists would have lost the war if not for the help with these desperately needed items. The US thus sided with the fascists in allowing this help to the fascists to get past the non-interference agreement.

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:43:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We must own the means of production. (4+ / 0-)

    I propose a Worker's State, one where we have the opportunity to manage and produce capital and products.

    Call me a Communist if you like, but that's what I propose.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:52:20 PM PST

    •  Interestingly, in "free and open source software" (0+ / 0-)

      the means of production are owned by the writers and then the product, the software, is given away.  Money is made in the support of the software.  Support can easily be owned by the workers, though currently large corporations (such as RedHat and IBM) profit.  There is nothing to preclude "Support-Coops"  or "Support Self-directed Enterprises".

      Software might seem unique, because the marginal cost of production is close to zero.  But this is true of many kinds of "intellectual property" such as music, architecture, even medicine.  The model may fit.

      An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

      by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:19:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like where you're going with that, but what's (0+ / 0-)

        the analogue of technical support (i.e. rental of technical expertise) for music? Live gigs, I guess, though that doesn't seem sustainable. How about authors? I think the kickstarter-type model (some have suggested using BitCoin for reduced overhead) is more the way to go. Some FOSS-related (though not software, that I know of) projects have gone this way, e.g. Linux Voice. Then again, some or even many kickstarter models do not open their content. I'd also note that even Richard Stallman acknowledges the difference between content and software; he advocates sharing for personal use, but copyright for commercial purposes (and he doesn't like the term "content").

        I believe that people should have the freedom to noncommercially redistribute exact copies of any published work. That includes music and software, and many other things. In particular you should be allowed to distribute anything through a P2P network. Laws against this are unjust, and their only ethical implication is to reduce the respect that the state deserves.

        Works whose purpose is practical use, including software, recipes, educational materials, and reference works, ought to be free in the sense of the four freedoms. But I would not say the same about works of art and opinion. I think it is ok for commercial use, and modification, of works of art to be limited by a copyright system for a time such as ten years. Thus I do not say that music must be free; rather, I say it must be sharable.

        Note also that many FOSS consultancy companies work for large corporations. They are free in a sense, but they are also tied into the system. I suspect the consequences of moving to a more peer interaction based system would change what was viable, and have other inobvious consequences.
  •  Capitalism (11+ / 0-)

    at least in its current form - is doomed to failure at some point.  It just is.

    As time marches on, more and more jobs will become automated.  It may be 50 years, 100 years, 200 years, whatever, but at some point, there simply will not be enough jobs for humans to sustain the workforce, and as such, an economic system built on consumerism will fail.  This is not a Luddite-like argument - I welcome the advance of technology.  Instead, I simply recognize that the time is coming when technology makes a large part of the workforce obsolete.  Whether or not it is tomorrow or 200 years from now is irrelevant - sooner or later, we're going to have to start thinking about how a post-capitalist society will work and how people will support themselves.  This will only be exacerbated and sped up by population growth that outpaces the creation of new employment opportunities, and starts to outpace job growth at a faster and faster rate as technology reduces the need for human-held jobs.

    It may still be science fiction today and for the foreseeable future.  But sooner or later it will change from science fiction to simply... Reality.

    •  But why is capitalism doomed in this dystopia? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RabbleON

      Why can't the masses be placated with trinkets?  

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

      by shrike on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:12:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As long as the 1% redistribute some of the profits (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ezekiel in Exile

        They might be able to. But as history shows, they only do so when they feel threatened by the masses (see FDR and the New Deal). Back then, communism was a genuine threat. Today, there is nothing that challenges the global free market model, with the possible exception of al-Qaeda, but they don't count. So we have Republicans in Congress who are not only willing, but eager to prove Marx right. And if they win it all in 2016, we're going to take a giant step closer to The End of American capitalism.

        What about pressure from the masses? As tough as life is in America for increasing numbers of people, there hasn't been the kind of desperation we had in the 1930s. To be honest, I hope we never get there, because this time around, if we truly have Great Depression 2.0, I think it's even money we go the way of Weimar Germany--enough said.

      •  Obviously (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ezekiel in Exile, TiaRachel

        because trinkets can't replace jobs.
          The means of distributing the economic surplus in the capitalistic economy is through wages. If the jobs aren't there then the economic surplus isn't redistributed.

          On top of that, the governments have decided to get their tax revenue through income rather than wealth. Thus tax revenue will dry up too.

          First of all, Democracy can't survive in that sort of system. But also, the economic system won't be able to survive either.

        None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

        by gjohnsit on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:51:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  More basic than that - energy (0+ / 0-)

      Technological change is important, but without the widespread exploitation of fossil fuels we would be operating more like 1814 than 2014. Yeah yeah, we've fracked our way to record oil production in America, lol, but it won't last. All the libertarians and goldbugs who say Peak Oil is a myth, well, nothing changes the fact that in about 300 years of industrial civilization we've used up most of the fuel that took 300 million years for nature to create.

      Fossil fuels and solar energy are essentially equivalent; wind hydro and geo are stopgaps at most. Nuclear fission can work, but carries enormous costs. And fusion, sadly, is always 20 years away. ;)

      Without a breakthrough in fusion, the present world capitalist system will soon run into fundamental energy constraints. And once capitalism can no longer grow, eventually it will transform into something else. My guess is some form of either state capitalism (i.e., fascism) or market socialism (Sweden if we're lucky, China if we're not). And I don't think it's that far away; generations, maybe even only a few decades.

    •  So why not just kill the majority of the pop'n? (0+ / 0-)

      A nice synthetic virus with vaccine should do it. Then you get even more stuff that you don't have to share. He who dies with the most toys wins, remember.

  •  $150 million dollars for a Major League Pitcher (4+ / 0-)

    Why does a guy like that need more than, say, $10 million?
    Why does a CEO of a large corp need to earn the amount of money he/she earns?

    Cap salaries in a way that the money is re-invested somehow back into society.

    I don't know the details of how that would happen, but those who say that such a cap would destroy incentive are wrong. The United States is huge and there's plenty of resources.

    The other thing that needs to be done is that it needs to be easier to start and operate a business. Since capping salaries is not realistic, then tax anything over X amount enough to build a working national incubator program for small businesses and get them access to real capital.

    •  Same reason (0+ / 0-)

      Same reason a candy bar used to cost a nickle.

      The US dollar is not what it used to be, thanks to greedy fuckers around the globe.

      I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

      by roninkai on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:18:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not really. Under the current system profit is (0+ / 0-)

        necessary, it's not the result of greed. Debts can be something useful, allowing generally beneficial actions that wouldn't otherwise happen. AIUI, it's profit and debt that cause inflation, since both require assigning a greater price to items than they had previously.

        That is, even if people acted morally inflation would occur.

    •  The Details Are In Your History Book (5+ / 0-)

      covering the New Deal through Great Society period.

      Individual income was progressively taxed so that you paid nothing on the first x thousand, your next x thousand you pay 5 or 10%, the next x thousand you earn are taxed at 15%, and so on. Around $300,000 in today's income, your next thousands would be taxed at 50%, and at around $3,000,000 in today's dollars, any greater income would be taxed at 91% at the peak to 70% through Carter.

      Investments stocks etc. were taxed, and it's not my specialty but there may have been bans on using stocks as compensation in some ways.

      So top execs in that time were drawing about 40x as much as their bottom end workers, workers who could send a kid to state university often without the spouse working outside the house. It made no sense to offer someone a 4th million compensation if $900,000 of it went to taxes, mostly the company having to send it in on quarterly estimated taxes.

      The thing that's had me terrified since Clinton came in was that Americans forgot that we had almost all the answers, even if we didn't take them far enough, and what those answers were.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:41:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  --Concluding: So It's Not "Redistribution" Because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kenwards

        the exec or the ball player never got the money in the first place. Government causes the economy to value labor more and management & ownership less, because progressive brakes make it not worthwhile to pull huge amounts out of an enterprise to small numbers of people.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:44:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Gooserock - there have never been any prohibition (0+ / 0-)

        on the use of equity, either stock options or restricted stock, for corporate executives. The history and current compensation of senior executives in the Fortune 1000, which is outrageous, is a very complex story with many moving parts. Some day I'll start writing some diaries about it.

        You can't compare tax rates before the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and those after. They have no relationship to one another. They are apples and oranges. Few, if any, senior executives every actually paid $900,000 on their last marginal $1.0 million of income when the top marginal rate was 90%+.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:33:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Taxes, not caps (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, Eric Nelson, kenwards

      Confiscatory taxes at the top, or at least steeply progressive much simpler than coming up with caps.  Note I did not say politically feasible, just simpler to design and enforce.

      •  yes; when one individual or incorporated.. (0+ / 0-)

        ..individual for instance, catches a cold and that effects "the market" adversely, democracy isn't happening.

        And catching a cold is unintended. Huge inequality in wealth is rarely limited to unintended maneuvering. eg. Koch bros.; Sheldon Adelson et al.

        So higher marginal tax rates (progress tax structure) are vital to limit a permanent plutocracy from wreaking havoc. Close the loopholes, and crank up the top brackets of the income tax.

        The point is not only to get revenue (although that's important), it is also to limit a permanent plutocracy with the financial power to destroy the economy and democracy with their accumulated capital

    •  chuck - it's hard to think a major league pitcher (0+ / 0-)

      is worth $20+ million a year, but if the players didn't make big salaries the owners would have even higher profits (or the salaries would be more evenly distributed). Every league has a negotiated split of the revenues between the players and the team operations.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:28:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think a salary cap is the answer, but (0+ / 0-)

      a 100% tax on income over a certain amount.
      Determine a comfortable annual income. $300,000, maybe which is very comfortable, and the tax rate over that is 100%. The "earner," whether salary, capital gain (realized or not), dividend or other, simply pays the "excess" over to the govt. Up to that point, a progressive tax, much like today.
      Of course (I almost typed "curse,", which would be an apt Freudian slip), the right says that would take away the incentive to work. So what, says I. The "earner" of passive income (rents, issues and profits) has no incentive to do anything differently, and the "earner" of wages or salary could simple take leave of absence once he/she hits the $300k level, whether January 15 or July 1 or whenever, providing an opening for someone else for the balance of the year, incentive being to enjoy life, or continue to work for "nothing," incentive being to enjoy work for the sake of work, or continue to work, incentive being to make sure he/she still has a job when January 1 rolls around the next year.

      Aside: it is hypocritical on the part of those who say that hard work is good for you, on the one hand, and maintain that they should be able to accumulate wealth so that they can pass along their wealth to their offspring so their offspring won't have to work like they did, because bootstraps, maker, all that stuff.

      Another aside: I often think about what life must be like, certainly in much of the world, and even for many here (a growing number with the expiration of extended unemployment benefits, when there are four job seekers for every open job out there, giving the lie to those who say, as an excuse to not extend unemployment benefits), as illustrated in Pillars of the Earth, who have no support mechanism at all to even make it through the Winter, no fuel, no food--they simply, eventually, wherever they are, freeze to death. I could be one of them.

  •  Good journal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandia Blanca

    I like Gar Alperovitz.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:11:28 PM PST

  •  Comfortably well-off. (0+ / 0-)

    That's all anybody USED to want.

    I would tell you the only word in the English language that has all the vowels in order but, that would be facetious.

    by roninkai on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:11:45 PM PST

  •  America beyond capitalism? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon

    It's very simple: The New FEUDALISM, baby! King Koch the First and Second. Duke Rand of Kentucky. His Highness Blankfein of Manhattan. Duke Walton of the Osage.

    It's what's coming, baby. EMBRACE it.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:14:37 PM PST

  •  Nope.. $200 million a year isn't enough.... (0+ / 0-)

       I could be a great Job Creator (TM), a Master of the Universe (SM), one of the Titans of Industry.

        But all that hard work, sheesh.    Unless its worthwhile, I'll just continue with my middle income job.  

         So, unless you arn't really serious about Concentrating The Wealth (C), it ain't worth my while.....

  •  CAPITALISM (0+ / 0-)

    The sad ironic truth about unfettered capitalism is that within lies the seeds of its own destruction whenever the few at the top become too rich when compared with those further down the latter.  The failure usually is preceded by some sort of bubble leads to either a revolution or economic collapse.  The real caretakers of capitalism are not the self proclaimed free marketers who rail against government restrictions but rather those who seek to use its power to improve the lives of all not just the few while building a civilized and progressive society.
    Capitalism to be fair and successful has four equal yet competing pillars: the shareholder or owners; the managers those responsible for the day to day operation of the business or enterprise; the workers, producers, the servers, clerks, the doers and make things happeners and the government agencies which regulate, overview, enforce the rules and act as the cop on the beat.  Each is a check and balance upon the other or should be howsoever whenever the legs become unequal the structure falls over.  In our current crisis, it was the lack of government regulations over several so called innovated securities proclaimed safe and self policing by the self appointed brightest and best ; weaken labor and their union due to government policies favoring big corporations over big labor representation and free trade agreement which left the workers out and unprotected while desolating manufacturing jobs, and the co-mingling of managers/owners to an extent where they as owners control the corporation to the exclusion of a numerical majority of shareholders having the power and the votes to put their interests above that of the shareholder/owners thereby screaming the cream for their own benefit without the shareholder/owners input or concurrence.  Couple this with the frequency with which these manager/owners to also become intertwined with government regulatory agencies and Presidential advisors and the revolving door of special interests serving their own self interest.  These public self servers become the firstest with the mostest, the quickest and the greedest.

    •  Here's one for your noodle to ponder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thomas Twinnings

      Why did communism fail? Too corrupt. Not enough people bought into the system. It was a facade covering up widespread graft and black marketeering and immense suffering.

      Why will unfettered lawless 'capitalism' fail? ...

      It's really easy.

      "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

      by DaddyO on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:41:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Communism" in the Marxian sense was never tried. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gjohnsit

        For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

        by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:01:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  China's Cultural Revolution was a strong (0+ / 0-)

          attempt at Communism.  Look where they are now.  This is not to say that Capitalism is in the forefront of the arrow of history.  It may very well be succeeded by other, better systems.  Communism failed because it was top-down.  The new systems may be bottom-up.

          An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

          by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:28:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  DaddyO - the only system I know at all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        is the USSR because I have close friends who lived through it and I have traveled to Russia and had many conversations on this topic. As my friends describe it the big problem was that 90% of the people worked at 50% of their potential because there were no incentives to work hard. So the core of any society, it's human capital, was functioning at a low level.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:38:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A classic joke in the USSR was (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib

          "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work"

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:27:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's the accepted wisdom. But incentives are not (0+ / 0-)

          the only thing that drives people, nor the only thing that was lacking in the USSR.

          •  And I'm using "incentives" in the sense it's (0+ / 0-)

            usually applied in that argument: renumeration tied to managerial or client approval.

            •  Thanks for the clarification (0+ / 0-)

              I was using the term incentives in a much broader context, although I think in a work environment having fewer carrots to work with makes motivating people a bigger challenge. The 10% of the people who lived in the USSR, including my friends who were members of the Russian Academy of Science, were self motivated and would have been successful anywhere. In the West they have certainly been a success. There were probably another 10-20% that found incentives within the system that they responded to. But for most people life was very structured and not challenging.

              When you visit Russia, and recall that before the Revolution this was a country that was a world leader, with vast natural resources, what if it had turned toward a British system of government instead of the communists? How great would it still be today? Two or three generations of wasted human capital. What a tragedy.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 02:46:24 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think we achieve much with regard... (0+ / 0-)

    ...to electing "more and better Democrats" with front-page diaries about an America beyond capitalism.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:28:05 PM PST

  •  the simplest example of a postcapitalist(sic) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Joe Hill PDX, Eric Nelson

    transformation for the US would be to create (de-corporatize) this nation's healthcare system to create free universal healthcare

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:36:53 PM PST

  •  It'd be nice to see a post-capitalist America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ezekiel in Exile

    One where money wouldn't be an issue or a motivating factor.

    I think we're too entrenched in it on too many levels for it to ever change, though.

  •  tshirt (0+ / 0-)

    is there anyway to get that image on a tshirt?

  •  Good post. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaNang65, Eric Nelson, kj in missouri

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:41:24 PM PST

  •  It's not capitalism in and of itself that failed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, kenwards, JimWilson

    I'm going to throw out that capitalism as a theory is just that, a theory that works great in textbooks but fails in the real world because so many things to do fit the capitalist model:  Families are not capitalist units, we don't let inefficient humans die, etc.  But the biggest reason it is failing right now is that the relationship has been inverted:  Instead of capitalism existing for our benefit, it's been decided that we exist for the benefit of capitalism.

    And, to tell you the truth, any system will fail because there's that small segment of people who are psychopathic (can't find a better word) that they will bend any system toward their benefit even if it means hurting others, and I'm discounting those who do things just to hurt others.

    I happen to think that capitalism, a regulated capitalism, is the best economic structure because it localizes decisions.  But it has to be regulated.

    But part of our failure is not capitalism's fault.  It's a fault of us as a people (not necessarily those on this site).  We've decided that the only scorecard is wealth.  Instead, our scorecard should be based on how many people are starving, how many children our dying from preventable diseases, and how well educated people are.  And these are a failure of democracy, not capitalism.

    Right now, we live in a society where if someone invented the replicator, it would be suppressed by industry, governments, and quite a few people.

    "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

    by anonevent on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:45:13 PM PST

    •  Capitalism selects for psychopathy, IMO (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel

      The "rational actor" of economic theory is essentially a psychopath. They do not subvert capitalism, rather they are raised up by it.

      Could there not be other systems of allocation that localize decisions?

      •  It would be called captialism (0+ / 0-)

        That's what makes it different from socialism.  It's not the state owning resources and deciding how they get allocated.

        "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

        by anonevent on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:21:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not necessarily. There are entities, mechanisms (0+ / 0-)

          and actors other than the state that could do the allocation. There's no particular reason for that to be the mechanism we call money, and certainly not for it to be the very specific mechanisms of share ownership, mandated profit, absolute property rights, etc, that we have currently.

          Russell

        •  There are other possible actors, mechanisms and (0+ / 0-)

          organisations for the allocation of resources that do not comprise a state. There's no particular reason for it to be  money, and certainly not the current system of share ownership, mandated profit, absolute property rights, etc

        •  Not necessarily. There are entities, mechanisms (0+ / 0-)

          and actors other than the state that could do the allocation. There's no particular reason for that to be the mechanism we call money, and certainly not for it to be the very specific mechanisms of share ownership, mandated profit, absolute property rights, etc, that we have currently.

  •  This is a very important diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Hill PDX

    It has been said that FDR saved Capitalism from total destruction because he worked to make the system more fair. World War II also, with all its horror, caused the country to come together to face a common enemy. We need a regulated system that is periodically adjusted.  Unfortunately big Capitalism resists such regulations and thus begins its own destruction, as it has in recent times. Kevin O’Leary's myopic view pinpoints the flaw in corporate fascism that, if not corrected, will bring down everybody, including the 1%. Many did not see this in the 1920s and even 1930s, but we somehow survived.  We may not this time!

  •  Well I am not opposed to capitalism. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Hill PDX, Aquarius40, TiaRachel

    Appropriately regulated capitalism together with a strong labor movement is what allowed the Middle Class to blossom in this nation from the 1940s through the 1960s.  What I am opposed to is our current form of unfettered capitalism, which allows corporations to pass off all of their costs of production onto the general public.  This problem can be fixed by implementing appropriate environmental, safety, and labor regulations.  In particular, the minimum wage needs to be raised to an amount that will permit workers to enjoy a reasonable standard of living without having to resort to public programs paid for by the taxpayers.  Asking the American public at large to subsidize WalMart's labor costs is not alright in my book.  New environmental laws and regulations also need to be implemented.  Such laws and regulations should fine corporations in an amount equal to the true costs that they are imposing on our environment in terms of their carbon footprint and other forms of pollution that they emit into our environment.

    We also need a greater amount of redistribution of wealth through progressive income taxation as well as through inheritance taxes on large estates (i.e. estates over a million dollars).  And we of course need to maintain a strong safety net for those who are simply not able to work due to circumstances beyond their control.

    While there are a few sectors of our economy that I believe should be public (i.e. police, fire department, criminal justice system, utilities, schools, libraries, and HEALTH CARE) I do not favor the idea of collectivizing industries like the auto industry, the computer industry, or other manufacturers of consumer goods.  Instead these industries should remain private, but they should be appropriately regulated.

    We have nothing to fear but fear itself

    by bhouston79 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:00:23 PM PST

    •  It sounds like you agree with (3+ / 0-)

      John Kenneth Galbraith, who talked about the necessity of oligarchic industries in capitalism, but insisted that it must be balanced by "countervailing interests" e.g. strong regulations, labor unions, environmental controls, etc.

      I disagree; I think that oligarchic capitalism has shown over and over that these barriers are insufficient. Look at the rules in the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, for example. It's quite clear the corporations have gone from being the servant of the state to being the master of the state.

      Marx was correct in this respect - capitalism, despite its ability to produce a vast array of commodities, is inherently unsustainable.

      For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

      by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:06:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  IMO middle class can't last in true capitalism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Hill PDX, Ezekiel in Exile

      The postwar US economy was a singular set of circumstances that will never recur again: we had an intact economy while the rest of the world was wrecked; our relative technical and resource advantages were at their peak, so that we composed about 50% of world GDP in 1945; women were moving out of the factories (not voluntarily); minorities were restricted in their opportunities. Therefore, even if we had an FDR New-Deal Democratic government today, I don't think it could withstand pressures from the global market. For example, look at post-apartheid South Africa: for most in the ANC, capitalism and apartheid went hand in hand. Afterwards? Even the ANC has to do what the market tells them.

      Under monopoly capitalism (and not the perfect competition model from Econ 101), the logical ultimate outcome is a handful get to be the Waltons, and everyone else is a Walmart greeter. *shudder*

  •  Recession in purpose? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kenwards, Eric Nelson

    I've wondered if the cyclical nature of the economy is actually driven by  those in (economic) power wanting to reduce the number of jobs, which creates competition for jobs, thereby keeping wages low. Supposedly, the original minimum wage (1965??) adjusted for inflation, would be $10/hour now. Most proposed increases don't come close.

    If too many workers/job keeps wages low, what will happen when all these baby boomers retire?  

    My state, Minnesota, has unemployment at 4.6 right now. Its higher in the northern areas. I've looked up some job postings for medical related jobs...there are scores of openings in each small city. As always, not enough workers for the positions that take education.

    The dumbing down of the education system in, most especially, the red states, will come back to bite those states, as there is an exodus of talent... Leaving openings for ?who? even less educated people?  My son is a teacher in the state with the 49th worst pay, and a wage freeze. There's a net exodus of teachers, which means that the state is paying to train people who quit or leave. My son said that in his grad school ed classes, most of the adult students didn't know some things he had studied in junior high.

    At what point will the GOP politicians see what is happening due to their own undermining of real competition, and then demand a non capitalistic  bailout?

  •  I'm pretty certain about one thing (4+ / 0-)

    That our future economic system isn't going to be some compromise between two failed economic systems of the past.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:31:50 PM PST

  •  Just an aside. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Conservative Socialist

    Adam Smith, the supposed "father of capitalism" was most vociferous in his opposition to corporations.  When the people repeating the rewards are insulated from the consequences of their actions the venture is doomed.  Thomas Jefferson felt that the life-span of a corporation should be that of a typical human being (75 years).

    The problem is not capitalism.  After all, I don't want the government making my television of car.  The problem is unbridled corporatism.  Government is necessary to make sure everyone plays by the same rules in an ordered society.  The reason our society is so disordered is that it is being hamstrung in fulfilling that function.

    Since I doubt we will ever do away with corporations I suggest we fix them by:
    1) Limiting their charter to a set period at the end of which it is desolved and  the proceeds distributed to the shareholders.
    2)  Shareholders must have unfettered recourse to the board of directors holding them accountable (something that is not true today - shareholders cannot sue the board for misfeasance or malfeasance)
    3)  Workers must be required to hold at least 50% of the seats on the board.
    4)  Board members may not sit on any other board of directors thereby eliminating interlocking boards.
    5) Corporation officers are limited to 50 times the earnings of the "typical" employee.
    6) Dilution of stock value should be eliminated by discontinuing gratis stock options and stock trades.  If an officer receives stock as compensation the market value of that stock should reduce the cash compensation by a like amount.

    Just saying.

    You will note that the Bill of Rights is now apparently a Bill of Concerns. Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine Feb 2014

    by spritegeezer on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 08:50:53 PM PST

  •  I truly believe Capitalism will survive... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JimWilson

    far longer than it should because it feeds the people who control the system making it very hard to break. I like the Socio-capitalist hybrids of Europe and do believe they are the best model for a 21st century economy.

    I think we are in the very early stages of the 'age of technological unemployment' with the 21st century seeing huge numbers of humanity with simply nothing to do to earn a 'living' because technology does it better faster and cheaper. Somewhere a long this line things have to break as millions and maybe eventually billions have no access to a job.

    I believe these hybrid economies will handle this transition far better because they will protect their unemployed, but in  the US, given the current state of things, its probably going to be a lot messier.

    If something isn't done before hand it could even destroy the nation completely.

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 09:38:21 PM PST

  •  It took a study to come up with this conclusion?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, TiaRachel
    This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.
    Get real.  That's just a restatement of the obvious.  This reminds me of the great self-help era in the 80s.  I once had a whole stack of books that were supposed to teach me how to help me fix all the things what were wrong with me.

    Eventually I got smart and realized that they all had one thing in common.  Nine tenths of the book restated whatever the problem was.  For instance I'm and adult child of an alcoholic and was coming to grips with that.  Well there are only so many ways to describe what that particular problem is like so all the books were just restatements.  

    Then way back at the back there was always a tiny chapter restating the pre-agreed upon solution.  There hasn't been a new ACOA book written since the first one.  

    We know what the problems with Capitalism are.  Adam Smith told us most of them in his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. which if you don't know was published in, lets see now, oh yeah, 1776.  How could I forget.  

    237 years later we are still looking for workable answers to fill in that one little chapter at the back of our 12 Step Guide to Fixing Capitalism self-help manual.  So here's a hint from the 80's.  There are always 12 Steps and they all begin with, "We admitted we were powerless over X and that our lives had become unmanageable."  Sounds like everyday life in America to me.  Let me count the ways on how unmanageable my life is.  Oops not enough bandwidth in the world.  

    We know what the problems are.  What's the Fucking solution???

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:44:42 PM PST

  •  Capitalism is fine. What we have is feudalism. (0+ / 0-)
  •  "purpetuating" (0+ / 0-)

    Therefore this argument can be dismissed.

  •  Capitalism only works for workers if (0+ / 0-)

    they have a union.  Unions are market-based capitalism.

    Think about it: material prices get negotiated, fuel prices get negotiated, etc...   Capitalism works for everybody who negotiates their price.  However, the price of labor is hardly ever negotiated.

    If a single person walks into the a corporate office and demands to negotiate, that person will no longer have a job.  Negotiating only occurs if the workers do it together.  

    Unions are the capitalist, free-market solution to the wages, vacations, sick days, job safety, job security, etc...   I don't understand why they are not advocated for as such.

  •  Capitalism ain't it! (0+ / 0-)

    BAck to basics - Adam Smith - 1776 - Wealth of nations - all anyone ever has to read for their BA in econ. Well the book Smith wrote before that was the BASIS for capitalism and he proposes in the first book "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", that no entity, company, or society can succeed if it ignores that basis. The Basis is that the "entity" must first and always have as it's primary purpose, the uplifting of the lower classes and the unfortunates. Contrast that with US Capitalism - so brilliantly outlined by Bain Capital (Mitt Romney is the architect) -
    Ruthless Economy and Efficiency in the Corporation.
    Increases ofShareholder Returns
    Retention of Capital
    Elimination of Debt by transfer.
    No mention of any social concerns at all. But it goes right along with the Cliff Note Version of Smith's 2nd book. We may live long enough to see the failure of the present system but this system is NOT Capitalism - it is Corporatist - Fascist - Oligarchy Romney Style. I recommend http://www.rollingstone.com/...

  •  Capitalism. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo

         When we allow for a small number of people to manage our money supply, we allow for fraud to occur. We have not had a capitalist system in our country for over one hundred years. What we have had is a cabal that has created bubbles, inflated currency, devalued the dollar, rigged interest rates and coming to us with hat in hand when the system crashed as a result of the very policies which they themselves instituted and followed. This is Socialism for the rich. They know what they have done, they have reaped for themselves our lives and labor without lifting a finger. They paid key people in key positions a ton of money to allow this to happen. Some sold out cheaper than others, but the net result is that they have extracted from us our livelihoods and left us to foot the bill. We have paid them to move jobs offshore, paid them to move money offshore, paid them to industrialize our education system, paid them to privatize some of those local systems that we depend on and we will continue to do so until they have us in an abject grip of poverty. Capitalism is not what this is and we ought to remove that phrase as we discuss how best to deal with the problems at hand.

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 12:27:55 PM PST

  •  Capitalism is a cancer. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TiaRachel

    It was built on the backs of slaves, indentured servants, child labor and the forced expulsion of "peasants" from the countryside. It was built on destroying home economies of self-provision, so people would have to go to the factories for wages, and would buy things they once made themselves or could live easily without.

    And it is the first economic system in history based entirely on exchange value, rather than use value, severed from the land and community. It has made this cancer portable and exportable, and it must die.

    On top of the above, it also rests on a permanent conflict between ownership and worker, ownership and consumer, and ownership and the earth. There are no redeeming qualities to capitalism. It creates and requires economic apartheid and must be dismantled.

    Period.

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