>From: Max More <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Have you ever traveled to the third world? Do you really think they live in
>a free market society? (I dislike the term "capitalist"--the term was
>coined by Karl Marx, who understood nothing about human capital.)
Pardon me while I mount my soapbox...
I believe Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas would qualify. I've been there
and I've observed squalid poverty in each of those places, and they each
have "free market" societies. Do I believe these places would be better off
if they were communist? No. Again, that is *not* what I'm saying. I
realize that poverty has myriad causes, historical, social, political and
personal. *No economic system* can alone eliminate poverty in today's
world. I realize that.
I live in the US. I love the US. I am a capitalist. I am an entrepreneur,
and I enjoy being one. But, call me a bleeding heart, I feel for those in
the underclass. It would agonize me to bring my own children up in poverty,
and I don't feel *that* much better about children living in poverty simply
because they are not mine. I guess what I am saying is I dream a world
where there is no such thing as poverty. Maybe communism won't make that
dream a reality. But there is *no question* that capitalism, free market
society, whatever you want to call it, will not do it.
Capitalism is Bill Gates. Capitalism says "Get all that you can for
yourself as soon as possible and by any means necessary." Capitalism is a
system where winners prosper to the exclulsion of the losers. And, to make
it worse, the winners become more likely to win even bigger, while the
losers’ chances of winning slip ever further away. Microsoft is the perfect
example. They didn't do anything wrong, except win. And as they won, they
gained power to continue winning, to the point where they had, in effect, an
insurmountable lead, with a huge monopoly and an ever growing war chest with
which to defend and extend that monopoly.
Last year the combined net worth of the world's top 200 richest people rose
$100 billion to over $1 trillion -- twice the entire GNP of Mexico. *That*
is what capitalism is about. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
That's cool for the rich. But there's a lot more poor people in the world
than rich people and, frankly, I don't like it.
>Poverty has multiple causes, not all of which will automatically be
>eradicated by free markets. But governments usually make things worse. The
>welfare system (especially in Europe) has perpetuated poverty by subidizing
There ain’t no subsidization of poverty in Mexico or in Jamaica and, believe
me, there’s plenty of it to go around. Again, I realize that poverty has
many causes, not the least of which is governmental incompetence and
corruption. But surely you have to admit that, even in the most efficient
and ethical “free market” states, there is still a great deal of poverty.
>State schooling which stifles competition for good education works
>especially badly in poor neighborhoods. There's a clear correlation between
>degree of education and income (though it's not perfect). Putting some
>competition into the (pre-university school system would immensely help the
>least well off gain real skills that can help them in life. It would also
>make my part-time college teaching more fun. I'm frustrated that in
>philosophy classes I have to first explain factual basics (whether in
>physics, biology, or finance) before I can even tackle the philosophical
>issues. The United States still has a rigid industrial style of education
>in an information economy.
>In the "Third World" (an increasingly outdated term), the state is usually
>pervasive, or else fails in the job it has taken on of enforcing the rule
>of law, thereby making markets ineffective, and making it hard to get out
>of poverty--unless you can become one of the rulers.
>Free markets are not the whole answer. Some unfortunate people do poorly
>because of psychological disorders. Extropians of benevolent disposition
>look forward to a time when medicine has advanced to the point where Prozac
>and Zanax will look as primitive as ECT, and we can truly offer people the
>chance to function effectively.
So, if you are poor you are either stupid, lazy, crazy or you are ruled by a
kleptocratic despot? Fact: poverty breeds poverty. If you are raised in
it, you are likely to stay in it. The same nation which gave rise to Bill
Gates is home to millions of poor -- white, black and otherwise. Why is
that? Are *all* the poor in America lazy, crazy or stupid? Hint: Bill
Gates was *never* poor. His daddy was bankrolling a Harvard education for
him before he owned his first piece of Microsoft stock. How likely do you
think it would be that he would become the world’s first $100 billion man if
his parents were eking out a meager existence in Arkansas as he was growing
Capital is consolidating now at an unprecedented pace. This is great news
if you are in the top 10% of wealthiest people. Otherwise it is not such
great news. I don’t want to live in a world where 5% of the population has
as much wealth as the remaining 95%, even if I’m in the top 5%. Call me
crazy, but that’s just me. That is the world that capitalism is creating.
I think we can do better.
"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:13:25 MDT