View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently July 31st, 2014, 12:28 pm



Reply to topic  [ 160 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  Next
 Making Poverty History 
Author Message

Joined: November 10th, 2010, 8:25 pm
Posts: 184
And how do you propose to accomplish that? It seems that you are full of complaints but have no suggestions for improvement. Clearly there are problems, and we need solutions, but if you don't have any ideas to try to make things better, then I'd have to say that the complaints are just noise. What's the purpose?


July 11th, 2011, 5:18 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Thundril wrote:
Because free-market capitalism did very well for a while, developing new technologies and so on, but continuing in this direction requires more and more production and consumption of unnecessary 'goods'.

And I have accepted that maybe in the future we could settle down on a socialistesque global state where everyone at least has the bare necessities in life. But we have yet to reach a total wealth which can be spread to such effect. And I for one wouldn't want it. Picture the planet in such a situation: everyone has enough to survive but nothing more. Having known of (even if not actually owned) luxuries in the past, people will have a drive to own more. That is the human way, and it can be satisfied sustainably. Socialism doesn't lead to prosperity, it leads to stagnation - working to live.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 11th, 2011, 7:10 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm
Posts: 4365
Location: "mysterious east" grinstead
AlexVocat wrote:
Thundril wrote:
Because free-market capitalism did very well for a while, developing new technologies and so on, but continuing in this direction requires more and more production and consumption of unnecessary 'goods'.

And I have accepted that maybe in the future we could settle down on a socialistesque global state where everyone at least has the bare necessities in life. But we have yet to reach a total wealth which can be spread to such effect. And I for one wouldn't want it. Picture the planet in such a situation: everyone has enough to survive but nothing more. Having known of (even if not actually owned) luxuries in the past, people will have a drive to own more. That is the human way, and it can be satisfied sustainably. Socialism doesn't lead to prosperity, it leads to stagnation - working to live.

is this view not incompatible with utilitarianism, which I think you favour over the issue of punishment? The greatest happiness of the greatest number (which is the principle of utilitarianism) must surely be served by equality (with no privation) than by gross inequality, because the rich don't need their wealth; giving some of it to the poor would benefit the latter far more than it would inconvenience the former


July 11th, 2011, 7:55 am
Profile

Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm
Posts: 3014
Wilson wrote:
And how do you propose to accomplish that?


Here's an example; the motor car.
We all know that cars are doing a lot of damage; to our health, to our local envirnents, to our stress levels, and to the ecosphere as a whole. Not to mention killing thousands of us each year!
Now. You are an intelligent, imaginative, self-determined(?) and energetic person. If you put all your abilities towards finding a way to live without the car whilst enjoying an equally good, if not better, quality of life, how long would it take you ?
A big part of my 'solution', insofar as I have one, I call Nuffism. Recognise when you've got 'enough', and enjoy sustaining that.


July 11th, 2011, 10:12 am
Profile

Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm
Posts: 3014
AlexVocat wrote:
But we have yet to reach a total wealth which can be spread to such effect. And I for one wouldn't want it. Picture the planet in such a situation: everyone has enough to survive but nothing more. Having known of (even if not actually owned) luxuries in the past, people will have a drive to own more. That is the human way, and it can be satisfied sustainably. Socialism doesn't lead to prosperity, it leads to stagnation - working to live.

"Enough' does not imply just enough to survive. Enough could be enough material needs satisfied that we can pursue those needs which are not satisfied by the mere accumulation of more stuff.


July 11th, 2011, 10:15 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Thundril wrote:
Enough' does not imply just enough to survive. Enough could be enough material needs satisfied that we can pursue those needs which are not satisfied by the mere accumulation of more stuff.
Fair play, but we must decide on what level that is. I'm undecided whether this would work with us humans. But I definately stand by the fact that regardless, we do not have the ability to sustain everyone to a decent enough level at the moment. Thus I gave the two options on how we could get there (if we wanted to, which I'm not sure we do). Human nature is to consume more and better quality of life. Do you think people in the Middle Ages ever dreamed of the motor car? Yes we're comfortable, but there are many more things waiting to be invented that could greatly advance our wellbeing. Capital is needed for this and if everyone has an equal level of wealth which is only sufficient to give them a level of comfort (whatever level that might be) then this denies investment. Many people would have to invest together and reduce their comfort to develop a new technology. Unless of course the state takes a slice of earnings and uses it to fund such new ventures. But think of the applications etc. It just seems messy, I don't have a clear image in my head of society in such a situation. Where would our sports be? Look at F1, an advertising frenzy but one which produces such an impressive spectacle.

Capital is everything in a society of progress and ingenuity. If capitalism is needed to increase the threshold of absolute poverty (as I have argued) then what does it matter what we do after that? If my neighbour is richer than me then I can be pretty sure he belongs to a team of people developing some new technology that will benefit me in the long run. I have all the basics I need plus a level of luxury and I am still classified as a member of the absolute poor. Life is fine and I know that it will get better, either through someone elses ingenuity or I could end up spotting a gap in the market myself.

Imagine if the Tudors had decided to spread their wealth. Great, but nothing more would have come from it. Let us stabilise population and continue to make quality of life better and better. Who knows what we might have in the future. Remember it's not consuming more, it's making the same raw consumption go further and further. Technology is efficiency.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 11th, 2011, 12:46 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm
Posts: 4365
Location: "mysterious east" grinstead
AlexVocat wrote:
Where would our sports be? Look at F1, an advertising frenzy but one which produces such an impressive spectacle.
where indeed, and why indeed. I don't know what F1 is and I don't want to know; it sounds like the sort of ever-increasing creation of spurious needs that the advertising industry in particular specialises in. And we are consuming more, despite what you say. This is closer to the real world:
http://www.countercurrents.org/mccarthy250611.htm


July 11th, 2011, 2:14 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm
Posts: 4365
Location: "mysterious east" grinstead
AlexVocat wrote:
Capital is needed for this and if everyone has an equal level of wealth which is only sufficient to give them a level of comfort (whatever level that might be) then this denies investment. Many people would have to invest together and reduce their comfort to develop a new technology.
well? If investment is public (and it could be social rather than narrowly state-controlled) it is more likely to go towards meeting genuine social needs, compared with the private investment you seem to favour which may have some ultimate social benefit but as a very uncertain byproduct. Anyway, there is just no moral justification for extreme inequality (eg slavery) combined with surplus wealth, which often in fact goes into luxuries rather than to productive use.


July 11th, 2011, 2:14 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Animist wrote:
If investment is public (and it could be social rather than narrowly state-controlled) it is more likely to go towards meeting genuine social needs, compared with the private investment you seem to favour which may have some ultimate social benefit but as a very uncertain byproduct.

I made it clear that all investment and everything else stems from something selfish. Social benefit is a by-product, but one to be harnessed. This is the benefit of capitalism. Selfishness can lead to social benefit.

If I told you that by F1 I meant Formula 1, as in the racing sport, would you know what I meant? If not then I've never been so surprised in my life.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 11th, 2011, 2:41 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm
Posts: 4365
Location: "mysterious east" grinstead
AlexVocat wrote:
I made it clear that all investment and everything else stems from something selfish.
rubbish - another result of waste - but maybe there's profit in it?
AlexVocat wrote:
If I told you that by F1 I meant Formula 1, as in the racing sport, would you know what I meant? If not then I've never been so surprised in my life.
actually, why is it called Formula 1? Whatever the reason, it should just be STOPPED


July 11th, 2011, 5:25 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Wowza, anti-racing as well?

Was the space race needed? Not one bit. But who cares? It was advertisement for the US. But who cares? Look out at the moon tonight and remember that we went there. It could have paid for many baby-incubators, many mosquito nets, many bags of rice, many water pumps. But if the people that needed those things weren't here, the need for them wouldn't have been there either. Population stabilisation is the key, it's the ultimate pre-requisite to doing away with the levels of poverty that are currently experienced. Implementing global socialism is like a reserve parachute. If it's not big enough when deployed, there's no back up, no going back. And it isn't big enough. Yes we could all live in a state that's still be better than many of the poor of today. But if we do that now then we'll all be just trying to survive. We'd be better off than a lot of the absolute poor of today but there would be no attempt at innovation because securing everyone's next meal is too important. Thus, there's no progress, no increasing prosperity, no change at all. Humanity, as a whole, would have taken a giant leap backwards.

I respect every aspect of your argument from equality but I think it's still not the best option, not for prosperity (which every human desires), not for ingenuity (which gives prosperity), and not for innovation (which every human enjoys). Yes there's poverty and I've given my reasons as to how we can change this through a capitalist means. Former socialist states may have failed due to other reasons than them being socialist. You're right that we shouldn't associate cause and effect so readily, yet it is an idealist's non-acceptance of the world that gave rise to this 'alternative system' and in both theory and practice it's not the best option. There are direct consequences of socialism which would be repeated in any country it was tried in. Wrong species? Well yes in the sense that we want more. We don't want to see our fellow humans suffer, but we wan't more. We can satisfy both of these desires with capitalism. The CEO of Tesco does not wish to directly lower other people's quality of life, but he wants more for himself. It just so happens that the naturally developed system of capitalism will satisfy his greed whilst - if kept in check - not detrimenting other people's quality of life.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 11th, 2011, 7:17 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm
Posts: 4365
Location: "mysterious east" grinstead
AlexVocat wrote:
Wowza, anti-racing as well?
yes, definitely anti-racist. I could never see the attraction of wasting huge amounts of fuel by racing noisy and impracticable cars round and round a track; don't the favourites get to start first any way?


July 12th, 2011, 9:45 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
I think we're all anti-racist. :)

But I'm definately perplexed by your anti-racing stance. It generates money itself, "everyone's a winner".

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 21st, 2011, 5:34 pm
Profile

Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm
Posts: 3014
Alex, I find myself constantly puzzled by your apparent faith in some very simplistic (and poorly supported) assertions. Capitalism works. Capitalism is in accord with 'human nature'. Socialism allows no innovation etc. etc.

AlexVocat wrote:
Was the space race needed? Not one bit. But who cares? It was advertisement for the US. But who cares? Look out at the moon tonight and remember that we went there. It could have paid for many baby-incubators, many mosquito nets, many bags of rice, many water pumps. But if the people that needed those things weren't here, the need for them wouldn't have been there either.

OK, it's true that if humans don't exist, then there are no human needs. Including the need for moon-trips. I don't see consistency in your thinking here. You seem to be suggesting that the needs of well-off people (for innovation, discovery, entertainment (?) etc) are important, but that the needs of the poor are best dealt with by having the poor cease to exist! I'm sure that isn't your conscious intention, but it's difficult to read your argument above any other way.

AlexVocat wrote:
Implementing global socialism is like a reserve parachute. If it's not big enough when deployed, there's no back up, no going back. And it isn't big enough.

This statement is based on no evidence at all, but seems to be based on your own imagined picture of 'global socialism'. But you don't say anything specific about it.
AlexVocat wrote:
Yes we could all live in a state that's still be better than many of the poor of today. But if we do that now then we'll all be just trying to survive.

Why? Can you explain why you believe this?

AlexVocat wrote:
We'd be better off than a lot of the absolute poor of today but there would be no attempt at innovation because securing everyone's next meal is too important.

Or there might be a push to innovation precisely because feeding everyone is so important.

AlexVocat wrote:
Thus, there's no progress, no increasing prosperity, no change at all. Humanity, as a whole, would have taken a giant leap backwards.

Again, can you outline the assumptions on which you base this prediction?

AlexVocat wrote:
Former socialist states may have failed due to other reasons than them being socialist. You're right that we shouldn't associate cause and effect so readily, yet it is an idealist's non-acceptance of the world that gave rise to this 'alternative system' and in both theory and practice it's not the best option.

In the first sentence you recognise that the previous attempts at socialism are unreliable examples, and then at the end of the second sentence you use them as incontrovertable evidence that socialism 'is not the best option'.
(Interesting use of 'idealist' in this context, incidentally. Marxism is certainly not 'idealist' in the philosophical sense.)

AlexVocat wrote:
There are direct consequences of socialism which would be repeated in any country it was tried in.

Name some.

AlexVocat wrote:
Wrong species? Well yes in the sense that we want more. We don't want to see our fellow humans suffer, but we wan't more. We can satisfy both of these desires with capitalism.

I noted earlier your appeals to human nature, but have yet to see exactly what you think human nature is. I wonder if you could point to any parts of human behaviour (individual or collective) which can be attributed to anything other than human nature? And if you can point out any such behaviours, would you like say what you think causes these behaviours?
AlexVocat wrote:
The CEO of Tesco does not wish to directly lower other people's quality of life, but he wants more for himself. It just so happens that the naturally developed system of capitalism will satisfy his greed whilst - if kept in check - not detrimenting other people's quality of life.

I have no idea what motivates Phillip Clarke, or his predecessor Sir Terry Leahy. I doubt it's greed. Anyone who has a few million quid really has no use for any more spending power.
Leaving aside speculation about the motivations of this or that successful businessman, we can start to think a little more deeply about why people who already have far more money that they could ever 'spend' continue trying to make more.
You most definitely can have too much to eat, more videos than you can physically watch in a lifetime, or too many suits and shoes to wear. But money is more than just a purchasing ticket. Money also brings political and social power and status. So why do some individuals drive for more and more power and status? I wonder if there are some (probably a minority) individuals who are for some reason never able to stop struggling for more and more 'respect'? Perhaps such individuals do not understand that respect cannot be commanded, but they know that fear and obedience can be.
The drive for more and more power is possibly related to an inability to understand that fear and obedience are not signs of respect.


July 21st, 2011, 10:11 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Thundril wrote:
OK, it's true that if humans don't exist, then there are no human needs. Including the need for moon-trips. I don't see consistency in your thinking here. You seem to be suggesting that the needs of well-off people (for innovation, discovery, entertainment (?) etc) are important, but that the needs of the poor are best dealt with by having the poor cease to exist!

I see your confusion but I did try to tackle this. I am not saying we should neglect the poor now. But I am saying that people keep on thinking of short-term aid and miss the fundamental point which is that the poor exist because there are simply too many people on this Earth, and this is on the increase! Are we to keep giving and then giving some more? Socialists say stop consuming and spread our wealth, I'm saying carry on consuming and limit our population to one that can be sustained. Now, taken simply, there isn't one reason why we should go for one option or the other but in the real world there is one: the current global wealth is not sufficient to be spread across the vast population that currently inhabits this planet. For this reason, it's population limitation for me. It's the mosquito net model. Give one to help one person. If he has more than one child, we have to give another or even more. And so it continues. This prospect is futile. Socialism works on paper because it limits over-consumption and spreads it around, but there isn't enough wealth to get everyone to a satisfactory living standard. Thus it is population which must be stabilised, from there consumption can increase willy-nilly provided it parallels and increase in efficiency, thus allowing that consumption to sustain the same number of people.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 22nd, 2011, 12:41 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Thundril wrote:
Or there might be a push to innovation precisely because feeding everyone is so important.

Interesting point. But the incentive is greatly reduced. Remember selfish desires. If we want development to help secure our next meal then the idea that any profit will be instantly spread like a raindrop in a swimming pool reduces the selfish incentive. Granted it's still there, but to a much smaller extent. The greatest prosperity comes from bottom-up trade. As soon as you dictate who does what and where products go, rate of prosperity is reduced.

Thundril wrote:
Marxism is certainly not 'idealist' in the philosophical sense.

I'll concede that.

Thundril wrote:
Name some.

Stagnation of economy, and the knock-on effects of this.

Thundril wrote:
I noted earlier your appeals to human nature, but have yet to see exactly what you think human nature is. I wonder if you could point to any parts of human behaviour (individual or collective) which can be attributed to anything other than human nature?

Perhaps human nature is a confusing phrase to use. I think the thrust of my point was that capitalism evolved in a bottom-up fashion. The evolved part is the key though. Naturally, something which has evolved has stood the test of time and has worked best for the greatest number of people. The most capitalist countries are also democratic. This says something about the views of the majority within those capitalist states.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 22nd, 2011, 12:45 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Thundril, your later discussion about why we want more and more is another example of human nature (which I agree incorporates everything that we do). But there's a distinction between human nature which we should allow and embrace for the greater good and human nature which must be recognised as detrimental to the greater good, therefore warranting it in need of control. It's utilitarianism.

Current capitalism is not as good as it could be, that I will agree on. A system of capitalism where everyone is at least at some base acceptable level of life standard is what I would aim for. And this can, IMO, only be achieved by an initial population stabilisation, followed by spreading of wealth. So it's socialism when we are able to implement it, which will be when the population size is at a much lower size.

But when this has been achieved, there is no reason why capitalism cannot resume, at a rate which does not exceed the sustainable threshold.

If we're all at least 'comfortable' then I don't have a problem with a guy earning quite a bit more than me if he's providing a spectacle of Formula 1. There's no reason why this should be happening, it's just extra consumption, but it's a human thrill, and can be accommodated without anyone below an acceptable living standard.

_________________
Alex Vocat


July 22nd, 2011, 12:58 am
Profile

Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm
Posts: 3014
AlexVocat wrote:
Thundril wrote:
OK, it's true that if humans don't exist, then there are no human needs. Including the need for moon-trips. I don't see consistency in your thinking here. You seem to be suggesting that the needs of well-off people (for innovation, discovery, entertainment (?) etc) are important, but that the needs of the poor are best dealt with by having the poor cease to exist!

I see your confusion but I did try to tackle this. I am not saying we should neglect the poor now. But I am saying that people keep on thinking of short-term aid and miss the fundamental point which is that the poor exist because there are simply too many people on this Earth, and this is on the increase!
. . . .

the current global wealth is not sufficient to be spread across the vast population that currently inhabits this planet.

This is nonsense, Alex. As an example, consider the effect of providing clean drinking water. In many places, it is the girls who spend all day collecting water, often from heavily over-used and malarial sources. If people have a source of readily available clean water, they have improved health, improved life- expectancy (especially for infants and young children), improved chances of getting girls into school, therefore better motivations and opportunities to practise birth-control, hence a way to get themselves out of poverty, across a couple of generations.
I can't find the reference just now, but a few years ago a group comprising members of several different organisations (WHO, Oxfam, Water Aid, Christian Aid, I think, were all involved) calculated that the cost of supplying clean drinking water to everyone on earth, in a time frame of twenty years, would be about equal to the total wealth of the seven richest individuals on the planet!


July 22nd, 2011, 1:08 am
Profile

Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm
Posts: 3014
AlexVocat wrote:
Socialism works on paper because it limits over-consumption and spreads it around, but there isn't enough wealth to get everyone to a satisfactory living standard.

We have already established that the few 'State-socialist' experiments thus far offer no way forward. I have made my position on this abundantly clear. Therefore your constant pointing to these examples is a kind of 'straw-man' fallacy.
I argue that our current economic practise is actively damaging to very large numbers of people in the world; that it is consuming finite resources at a rate which allows no clear plan for what to do when these resources become scarce enough to cause serious military conflict; that our current rate of energy consumption is doing irreversible damage to our chance of survival as a species.
I argue that we need to consider some better strategy than a pious hope that the 'Invisible Hand' will sort it all out for us. I point to the fact that private enterprise is an excellent mechanism for supplying a certain category of human needs, is useless at supplying some other needs, and is downright destructive in respect of yet other human needs.
I refer to socialism only in passing, as one of the ways in which a certain subset of human needs might be met.


July 22nd, 2011, 1:26 am
Profile

Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm
Posts: 3014
AlexVocat wrote:
I think the thrust of my point was that capitalism evolved in a bottom-up fashion. The evolved part is the key though. Naturally, something which has evolved has stood the test of time and has worked best for the greatest number of people.

Naturally something that has evolved has stood the test of time and works best for its own survival. The welfare of people has very little to do with it. Cosider how long slave-economies have persisted for.
AlexVocat wrote:
The most capitalist countries are also democratic.

Not true. Lots of capitalist countries operate for long periods of time with no democracy whatsoever.
All the South American Dicatatorships in the mid 20th Century.
Apartheid South Africa.
Almost all the countries of North Africa and the Middle East.
In fact, apart from Libya, North Korea and Cuba, all the dictatorships in the world are capitalist.


July 22nd, 2011, 1:38 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 160 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
Designed by ST Software for PTF.