Sharing the Wealth (or not)

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by ScottXeno, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. Nullifidian

    Nullifidian First time out of the vault

    Nov 4, 2008


    I personally think it's important to always keep in mind that the state is not some magical entity but simply a group of people. As are companies.

    It is always important to remember who is making the decisions and that those folks are in fact people, just like you and me, and as people can be flawed.

    It is also important to note the difference between actions and intentions. For example, there are politicians which endorse trickle down economics because they think it results in more even wealth distribution. There are others who support it because they just want more money. On the flipside there are politicians who support numerous social programs because they think it results in more even wealth distribution, while others simply see it as a way to buy votes. Sometimes there is a mixture of both in each circumstance.

    It's important to always assume the possibility of corruption while not assuming that corruption is absolute (that all politicians are corrupt). i.e. never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. Or in this case, sometimes simple miscalculation.
  2. Herr Mike

    Herr Mike Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Jul 28, 2008
    Wouldn't this problem indicate a corrupt police force?

    I'll be the first to admit that the wealthy should not be able to use coercion against anyone. If you know of a way to keep this from ever happening, I'd like to hear it.

    Lobbying groups are the people. They are representative just like congressmen. Crooked politicians make it a problem. And hey, they are pretty much all crooked. Power hungry immoral assholes. The difference between you and I is that I want them to have less power over us.
  3. Herr Mike

    Herr Mike Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Jul 28, 2008
    So, now that Welsh put as all on the same page, can I quit this thread without being accused of "admitting defeat"? :crazy:
  4. Nullifidian

    Nullifidian First time out of the vault

    Nov 4, 2008
    Everyone has their price. The greater disparity of wealth, the lower that price is and the more likely the wealthy can spend it without it even denting their wallet.

    Lobbying groups are the people. They are representative just like congressmen. Crooked politicians make it a problem. And hey, they are pretty much all crooked. Power hungry immoral assholes. The difference between you and I is that I want them to have less power over us.[/quote]

    Lobbying groups are not "the people" they are the representatives of the top 1%. Make no mistake, the top 1% are different from the other 99%. They fall in a different class, and have different "unofficial" rights.

    As for power, the problem is what you want is completely at odds with what you are arguing for. Removing all regulation gives the top 1% cart blanch to abuse the populace and makes the bottom 99% powerless.

    Checks and balances are needed.

    You've also made the mistake of assuming all politicians are crooked. They are human. As are CEOs and such. They are selfish to varying degrees and their principles have limits. Some lower limits than others. The point is to make the system as difficult to abuse as possible. Make sure the laws are such that abuse of the system is difficult to accomplish and easily caught when done. Most importantly, abuse of the system must have negative consequences for THE INDIVIDUAL.

    For example, under a perfect market system, it is impossible to form a monopoly. In reality, without anti-trust laws, monopolies form because the wealthy purchase politicians LEGALLY through lobbying efforts in order to help create monopolies and enforce them through the law. So by having specific legislation which outright bans monopolies, you help to prevent the wealthy from abusing the system in that way.

    Labor laws are another good example. In a perfect market, such laws are unnecessary because people would refuse to work for a company which put its workers in such danger and companies which do so would have to pay people more to attract them, thus making dangerous working conditions cost ineffective. In reality, companies hide the dangers of their working conditions from their employees as best they can, and in many cases, anyone who attempts to inform the employees of the negative working conditions is eliminated. Either eliminated from the workforce, or sometimes outright killed.

    The FDA is needed for similar reasons. The ability to determine safety and efficacy of a drug is something that requires a great deal of technical expertise that only a very very small percentage of the population is capable of. Additionally, proving that what is in a drug is actually what it says on the label requires expensive and complex equipment as well as a ton of specialized technical knowledge. If the FDA did not exist and no such agency to similarly regulate the pharmaceutical industry existed, medical advancement would largely grind to a halt. The most widely used drugs would be the ones with the best marketing team, regardless of safety and efficacy. The incentive to spend money on actual research would be left only to the truly altruistic since there would be no actual requirements for marketing. Thus being able to sell a product is limited only to being able to convince the relatively stupid and easily duped public that your product works.
  5. welsh

    welsh Junkmaster

    Apr 5, 2003
    quick couple of responses-

    @Herr Mike- thanks, I am all about the love, babe.

    @Null - Not quite true to say that lobby groups represent the top 1%. For instance, a lot of social groups are also lobby groups. Sierra Club- does it represent the top 1%. The most powerful ethnic lobbies- Jews, Greeks, etc- represent more than the top 1%. Nader's groups, many legal aid societies, church groups- etc. Lobby groups represent both a wide range of interests and people. and articulate their interests in a lot of ways.

    And that power should not be under-appreciated. There are two ways to challenge law- through legislation and through the courts. Lobby groups can be very powerful mechanisms for bringing action on behalf of social interests.

    COnsider- Sierra Club need only to introduce one person as a plaintiff to bring an action to force the government to comply with the law.

    It was individuals, afterall, that were bringing to court cases on water pollution under the ancient Rivers and Harbors Act, that got the Supreme Court interested in Environmental Law when Congress was unwilling to touch the issue because it was too politically hot. Likewise, it was the power of the lawsuit that got the Surpreme Court to preempt Congress on matters of civil rights.

    Conservatives tend to criticize the Supreme Court for being "activist" but I say thank god. Often they will resolve issues that are necessary and essential when members of Congress are to pussy to act.

    The problem of corruption - is more complex than often appreciated. There's a book Crony Capitalism- by Kang that looks at corruption in the Philippines and South Korea- that explores this difference. South Korea develops not because it isn't corrupt. It certainly corrupt, but corrupt with significant differences.

    To go back to Herr Mike's Imperial France and Soviet Union suffered significantly wrong to say that the US is free of it, or are most governments.

    The question may be one of degree and opportunity. Individuals are both self-interested rational actors and also social creatures. As social creatures we form collectives to get things done. As rational actors - we go for incentives and will often breach the rules when we think we can get away with it and the benefits are sufficient.

    The question may have more to do with what the rules are, the incentive structure and the opportunities. Patronage is rampant in feudal and imperial systems, while a powerful bureaucrat can use his influence in a highly authoritarian system and a sleazy politican can sell his vote in some democratic systems. Its hard to assume that a Brazilian policeman won't sell his services to the highest bidder when he makes less than the cost of living.

    So its in the opportunity that one finds corruption. We are all self-seeking rational actors and given the right opportunity, will free ride or even screw each other.

    Which is one of the reasons we have literature, art and film.

    As for rulers- you argue that we should assume that rulers are just like people- some will do the "right thing" and others will do the "wrong thing". In reality, yes that might be true.

    But there are a couple problems with that if you want to generalize or develop theory.

    (1) Without opening up skulls, its hard to know what is in a leader's head. What motivated them to act on a particular rule.
    (2) Tested across many cases we find a whole lot more political leaders are prone to abuse power if given the opportunity. Even the virtuous are prone to occasions of despotism.
    (3) Given doubt, best to keep them bitches in line.

    Assume the worst and you may be pleasantly surprised. Assume the best, and you'll be disappointed. I like surprises.

    I believe in a healthy dose of skeptism- That if a ruler is to gain my loyalty, we got to see the proof that they deserve it. We need always remind them that they rule at our behalf- at least if we are a democracy.

    YOu got to keep these bastards accountable and one way to do that is a bit of existential fear. This is why I think Scooter and Rove should be tried for treason for Valerie Palme and shot, why Bush should be impeached for lieing to the US about weapons of mass destruction, why corporate CEOs should be executed if they embezzle for $1 million, why drug dealers who make $1 million per year should be shot. I'm a bit brutal, but hey, there's a price that comes with power.

    As for the FDA- let's not forget that a lot of the early narcotics addiction- use of opiates, cocaine, etc were largely the result of a lack of regulation over pharmaceuticals in the 19th Century. Heroin was made public initially as a less addictive pain reliever than morphine.

    A case of unregulation- In China, companies tore through dense forests to make chopsticks that were later sent to Japan. The loss of trees led to all sorts of bad environmental consequences. When the government figured out what happened and that it had to replant the trees- the damage had been done and cost of replanting trees was greater than the profit on chopsticks.

    Companies serve stockholders and owners. Some business theorists also express this idea of stack holders (which I think is mostly bullshit). Companies are like any other rational actor- they are self-seeking rational creatures that will exploit opportunity to the detriment of others. Too much of that- and its a disaster in the making.

    Four main activities of a state- internal order, employing a military, maintaining a communications infrastructure, and a fair economic market.

    A good discussion can be found here-

    Mann is fucking awesome.
  6. Scowl

    Scowl First time out of the vault

    Nov 21, 2008
    Would you mind elaborating on this?
  7. ceacar99

    ceacar99 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    WRONG, lobbyist groups are groups hired by various orginizations to hound the lazy, the incompetant and the just downright senile politicians into doing something about an interest to that group of people.

    you think the "top 1%" you talk about truely honestly gives a flying fuck about colorado's national forest? you think its in their evil schemes to preserve such things?

    places like that survive, regulations on pollution survive, and social programs survive all because groups of normal people have gotten a lobbyist group to attack politicians. sometimes they throw in a lot of money, other times they just hound the politicians enough to get something done.

    believe me friend i have been involved in politics since a very young age because of my grandfather and all my experience will speak to you on this matter. usually the winner in games of lobbying and getting the government to do something isnt about how much money you have, its about how much determination you have and how far you will go to hound them to get it done.

    a perfect example are anti tobacco measures put in government, the industry and its leaders have the money, but its common people with a will, and an agenda that is winning. maybe not quickly, but the people are definately slowly moving to kill off the tobacco industry. it isnt even the common folk either, its a small group of people, the majority just want to let smokers lay....


    sorry, i flip out when people blame things on the federal government when it has NOTHING to do with it. the anti trust laws were passed durring an era where true industry was really just forming. it was durring the first industrial revolution. steam power allowed railroads to exist, which allowed more farmers to sell to more people for a higher profit which allowed more city jobs which in turn also allowed new businesses like us steel to form to cater to all the new needs that were rising such as the railroad itself that allowed all that to happen.

    since there was nothing round to begin with the forerunners filled these massive gaps in power and took it upon themselves. railroad companies in particular became incredibly powerful. since the growth of the times allowed these businesses to rise up with such alarming speed the truth is that no real competitors were able to even take a noticable share of the market. thus monopoly. the anti trust laws were designed to break up this freezing of the market and allow new growth to come in. really there hasn't been much call for the law's use since the end first industrial revolution, and that was a LOOONG time ago bud....

    the last call for those laws i can remember was against microsoft. however it was demonstrated that while microsoft is an incredible power its not the boss. ibm is actually still more powerful then microsoft, and of course there is apple computers that has weathered the storm and come out strong again. in the end all three are linked together now but they are seperate entities and new software and hardware companies are rising up and taking their places. a good market annalisys shows that microsoft may have a great big share of the digital market but it doesnt control it like a monopoly.

    reminds me of one of the stories i read about some of the first unions. they started in southern states in cigar factories long ago... rolling cigars is boring repeditive work and they didnt even have a radio to listen to, so often the workers pooled money out of their pay and hired a reader. usually the reader was a well educated respected person in the community and he would do just that. he would read to the factory. he would read stories and legends, he would read history and educate the workers as they did the mind numbing job. eventually under the reader's influence the workers began to realize how poor they had it and bound together in a union and started striking and fighting for a better share of the wealth gained through the factory. no factory hires a reader anymore, really they stopped doing that because they viewed it as too risky. now they just play a radio or have a tv going to keep the workers calm and content.

    unions in their truest pure forms are wonderful things that fix the problems in laybor. they aren't actually a modern thing, but they are modern in the incarnation. the issue is that the majority of the union ive been around these days are corrupt themselves, and often members are forced in. mobs have even used them as their primary means of power. however the union itself demonstrates, if the job really is bad, the people can solve the problem without using the government to do so with a sledgehammer and destroy the entire industry.

    your right there....

    added: this stuck out to me...

    i am ULTRA right wing and i'll tell you that i completely agree with the supreme court. it is one final safety for the good of the people, not even the will of the people but the good of the people and usually the protection of the constitution. a perfect example is when the supreme court ruled against segregation in schools and started the ball rolling to end that dark chapter in our history. almost all the politicians at that time however considered it political suicide to go for such a route so thats why the measure almost had to be done by the supreme court.
  8. Snackpack

    Snackpack It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 4, 2008
    Just had to comment on this.

    There is huge money behind squashing tobacco consumption: Health insurance providers.

    The last thing they want is to have to pay out after someone has payed in for 40 years. That would be like offering a product or service in exchange for money!
  9. ceacar99

    ceacar99 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    ..... ..... conspiracy theory.... .... ...
  10. Sander

    Sander This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Jul 5, 2003
    No, common sense. It is in the interest of health insurers to either stop paying out to people who smoke (which isn't doable), or stop people getting sick from smoking.

    That has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, nor is saying 'conspiracy theory' actually a valid argument.

    There are also other groups interested in getting rid of the tobacco industry, of course .

    Look, pretending that lobbyists are evil old men who represent only a very small percentage of people and don't ever look after the 'common good' is just as retarded as pretending that lobbyists groups aren't also often representing big businesses and small special interest groups counter to the common good. Both things happen.
  11. Snackpack

    Snackpack It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 4, 2008
    While I have no facts to back this up, I don't think it's an unsound logical leap. Occam's Razor would point towards the health insurance companies first I think. Isn't it a bit strange that you can still smoke in public places across Europe? With socialized medicine smokers who spend the last year of their lives in the hospital are actually a drag on society, yet in the states anti-smoking sentiment is almost a religious movement.

    I have a hard time believing that the ubiquitous anti-smoking ad campaigns are funded by a small group of rich folk who don't like the smell of tobacco. I'm not suggesting that health insurers are the only ones involved, but I'd guess that's where the biggest chunk of change comes from.

    Anyways, gettin a little off topic here, just wanted to bring this up as an unrepentant smoker :)
  12. Loxley

    Loxley Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Apr 11, 2003
    Several countries in europe are banning smoking in public places as we speak. Norway and ireland have done so allready. And yeah it is allmost religious in proportion here aswell.
  13. ceacar99

    ceacar99 It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    anti smoking laws are spreading across all western nations. its because the general public does agree that they cause health problems and that determined fringe groups believes that both the companies and the product itself are an evil cancer dug into our society. you can see the effectiveness of such programs and laws by the fact that developed nations are slowly declining in smokers and developing nations are either staying level or growing.

    now its logical in a sense to say that the insurance companies dont want to pay out large amounts of money and thus promotes anti smoking agenda. further down that line of thought is that insurance companies are trying to close down places like mcdonnalds because fat related illnesses are another major cause of needing treatment. hell following that line you can link an interest from the insurance companies in almost everything. they could be pushing lobby groups to put bubble wrap on all playgrounds! nevermind that they dont want to spend all that money on something that might have such a trivial return and the fact that other people are allready pushing that agenda.

    just because something is benificial for a corperation doesnt mean its involved. the truth is that your going to have an extreemily hard time linking money in the public health and safety movements to insurance companies, or better housing standards and so on to insurance companies.
  14. Snackpack

    Snackpack It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 4, 2008
    I was merely refuting the point that there was money behind smoking, but none against it. And it would make more sense for an insurance company to invest in anti-smoking over other things, as statistically playgrounds and beer don't cost them quite as much. On a side note, the playgrounds are pretty much getting bubble wrapped, theres no good slides anymore!
  15. Nullifidian

    Nullifidian First time out of the vault

    Nov 4, 2008
    A major factor in creating anti-tobacco laws is FUD created by big money class action lawsuits.

    FUD is a big motivator for the common idiot. Just look at drug prohibition.