Questions for capitalists.
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09-10-2013, 08:21 PM
Questions for capitalists.
What are your thoughts on indentured servitude? http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servant

What is a free choice?

What is the market?

Do you believe that each individual is Solely responsible for his poverty or his wealth?

Do people in x country have the sovereign right to benefit from the resources that are in their country? Example: what do you guys think about leaders that absolve all foreign owned entities in their country?
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09-10-2013, 10:21 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
To me it's really simple... In that wikipedia page it gives 2 situations:

1) Where the person is thrown into the indentured servitude against his will. That is clearly slavery, and it's an atrocious human rights violation.

2) The person voluntarily enters into a contract where somebody else advances the cost of his travels, and in exchange he agrees to work it off over a certain period of time, as a servant. The "master" in this case is really just a lender, like a credit card issuer. I'm not sure why this is even mentioned in the same context because it's a total different scenario. It's true that our heart may go out to the servant and his grueling labor, but if we ban the process and make it illegal, we are actually hurting the servant even more. Clearly the servant voluntarily entered into the contract because he had no means to pay for the trip otherwise and thought his life would be better off by entering into this arrangement. He obviously feels the very strong desire to leave wherever he is. So you're making the servant's life WORSE by banning the arrangement and forcing him to stay where he is against his will even though someone was willing to advance the cost of his travel. Both the "master" and "servant" enter into the contract because they both see it as a win-win and consider themselves better off.

To me it's a totally black and white distinction between entering into a contract voluntarily vs. being forced into it. For some reason, though, I get into debates with American liberals over this all the time because, when discussing the social contract, I insist the same black & white distinction: if a person is given a choice of jurisdictions to live under and voluntarily chooses to live in a place and subject himself to those laws, he has voluntarily entered into the “social contract”, just like #2. However, American liberals insist that the “social contract” is at the federal level, and that we're all bound to it for life simply because we were born. This is like #1, a completely involuntary transaction, akin to slavery. I'm not sure why American liberals don't see the distinction, though, between entering into a contract voluntarily vs. being forced into against your will.
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09-10-2013, 10:40 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
Capitalism, like democracy is the least worse option available.
They can be corrupted and perverted so need constant maintenance.

While I despise capitalism for different reasons, I can't think of an alternative that would not cause more harm.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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10-10-2013, 01:12 AM
Questions for capitalists.
(09-10-2013 10:21 PM)frankksj Wrote:  To me it's really simple... In that wikipedia page it gives 2 situations:

1) Where the person is thrown into the indentured servitude against his will. That is clearly slavery, and it's an atrocious human rights violation.

2) The person voluntarily enters into a contract where somebody else advances the cost of his travels, and in exchange he agrees to work it off over a certain period of time, as a servant. The "master" in this case is really just a lender, like a credit card issuer. I'm not sure why this is even mentioned in the same context because it's a total different scenario. It's true that our heart may go out to the servant and his grueling labor, but if we ban the process and make it illegal, we are actually hurting the servant even more. Clearly the servant voluntarily entered into the contract because he had no means to pay for the trip otherwise and thought his life would be better off by entering into this arrangement. He obviously feels the very strong desire to leave wherever he is. So you're making the servant's life WORSE by banning the arrangement and forcing him to stay where he is against his will even though someone was willing to advance the cost of his travel. Both the "master" and "servant" enter into the contract because they both see it as a win-win and consider themselves better off.

To me it's a totally black and white distinction between entering into a contract voluntarily vs. being forced into it. For some reason, though, I get into debates with American liberals over this all the time because, when discussing the social contract, I insist the same black & white distinction: if a person is given a choice of jurisdictions to live under and voluntarily chooses to live in a place and subject himself to those laws, he has voluntarily entered into the “social contract”, just like #2. However, American liberals insist that the “social contract” is at the federal level, and that we're all bound to it for life simply because we were born. This is like #1, a completely involuntary transaction, akin to slavery. I'm not sure why American liberals don't see the distinction, though, between entering into a contract voluntarily vs. being forced into against your will.

Your mentioned the words voluntary and choice. This usually is used in the defense of capitalism which is why I asked capitalist supporters to explain free choice.

Do you believe when a person is an indentured servant and a person is a master they are in this position solely due to their own labor?

Do you believe a servant and a master enter into contract as level players in the market?
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10-10-2013, 08:41 AM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
(10-10-2013 01:12 AM)I and I Wrote:  Do you believe when a person is an indentured servant and a person is a master they are in this position solely due to their own labor?

Do you believe a servant and a master enter into contract as level players in the market?

It depends solely on whether it's done voluntarily. If both parties enter the agreement voluntarily, without duress, they are doing so because they feel the arrangement makes them better off, and you're hurting them by interfering.

Say you're the iPhone developer who made InstaGram, but you're broke, and now Facebook comes along and wants to buy your software for $1 billion. But, nearly every purchase like that includes in the contract that you will have to continue working for Facebook for, say 3 years, and during that time cooperate with them fully, such as bug fixes and training Facebook's coders. This contract does make you an 'indentured servant'.

Now if I'm a politician and in and say "Oh no, this can't be allowed. I'm going to save you, I and I, from making a bad decision to become an indentured servant. I'm going to block the transaction". Have I done you any favors? Aren't you going to be begging me "Please, please let me be an indentured servant. I really, really, really want that $1 billion, and I'm fine being Facebook's servant." Am I doing you favors if I ignore your pleas and block the transaction anyway, forcing you to remain a "poor coder"?

How's this fundamentally different than the guy who says "Please pay my travels to come to the New World and get out from the hell-hole I'm living in. I promise to work for you for 3 years if you help me out."

You asked if both parties are "level players". In my example are you and Facebook level players? You're broke, and Facebook has billions. HOWEVER, you own something that Facebook wants MORE than they want their $1 billion. So, while you have no real cash, you've got $1 billion worth of "assets"--unless, of course, I'm a "do gooder" and block the transaction in which case I've effectively stolen your assets. Similarly with the indentured servant. Yes, he's poor and destitute living in a hell-hole. HOWEVER, he has something of value that the "master" in the New World wants more than the master wants the money for the travels--namely the servant's skills or labor. If you block him the servant from getting the full advantage of his skills, YOU are, imo, stealing from the servant. You're taking from him the one asset he has of any value, and condemning him to a life of misery.

But here's my question to you. If two people want to enter into a voluntary agreement, and they're not harming anybody, and nobody's being forced, what give you the right to interfere and block the transaction? If you swoop in and tell the 'indentured servant' that you're saving him from himself, isn't that arrogance, because you're telling him that you know better than he himself what is in his best interest? You're treating him like a moron who cannot make decisions for himself. To me, the 'voluntary indentured servant' and the 'master' are both equals. One is not necessarily better or smarter than the other. One should not have more rights than the other. Both should be trusted to decide for themselves if this arrangement makes them better off.
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10-10-2013, 09:13 AM
Questions for capitalists.
(10-10-2013 08:41 AM)frankksj Wrote:  
(10-10-2013 01:12 AM)I and I Wrote:  Do you believe when a person is an indentured servant and a person is a master they are in this position solely due to their own labor?

Do you believe a servant and a master enter into contract as level players in the market?

It depends solely on whether it's done voluntarily. If both parties enter the agreement voluntarily, without duress, they are doing so because they feel the arrangement makes them better off, and you're hurting them by interfering.

Say you're the iPhone developer who made InstaGram, but you're broke, and now Facebook comes along and wants to buy your software for $1 billion. But, nearly every purchase like that includes in the contract that you will have to continue working for Facebook for, say 3 years, and during that time cooperate with them fully, such as bug fixes and training Facebook's coders. This contract does make you an 'indentured servant'.

Now if I'm a politician and in and say "Oh no, this can't be allowed. I'm going to save you, I and I, from making a bad decision to become an indentured servant. I'm going to block the transaction". Have I done you any favors? Aren't you going to be begging me "Please, please let me be an indentured servant. I really, really, really want that $1 billion, and I'm fine being Facebook's servant." Am I doing you favors if I ignore your pleas and block the transaction anyway, forcing you to remain a "poor coder"?

How's this fundamentally different than the guy who says "Please pay my travels to come to the New World and get out from the hell-hole I'm living in. I promise to work for you for 3 years if you help me out."

You asked if both parties are "level players". In my example are you and Facebook level players? You're broke, and Facebook has billions. HOWEVER, you own something that Facebook wants MORE than they want their $1 billion. So, while you have no real cash, you've got $1 billion worth of "assets"--unless, of course, I'm a "do gooder" and block the transaction in which case I've effectively stolen your assets. Similarly with the indentured servant. Yes, he's poor and destitute living in a hell-hole. HOWEVER, he has something of value that the "master" in the New World wants more than the master wants the money for the travels--namely the servant's skills or labor. If you block him the servant from getting the full advantage of his skills, YOU are, imo, stealing from the servant. You're taking from him the one asset he has of any value, and condemning him to a life of misery.

But here's my question to you. If two people want to enter into a voluntary agreement, and they're not harming anybody, and nobody's being forced, what give you the right to interfere and block the transaction? If you swoop in and tell the 'indentured servant' that you're saving him from himself, isn't that arrogance, because you're telling him that you know better than he himself what is in his best interest? You're treating him like a moron who cannot make decisions for himself. To me, the 'voluntary indentured servant' and the 'master' are both equals. One is not necessarily better or smarter than the other. One should not have more rights than the other. Both should be trusted to decide for themselves if this arrangement makes them better off.

Whether they both enter into contract on a level playing field is determined by external factors beyond their control. Hence the other question in the op was whether someone's position was solely due to their own personal actions.

The hypotheticals you mention omit external factors.

A person selling himself into servitude is doing so because of factors beyond his own control and his position has forced him into that particular situation. An economic system that perpetuates this class structure where one large group does the labor and one other much smaller group privately owns the product and profit from someone else's labor, means that people don't enter the market place on level terms. A person doesn't sell his labor power to someone else because he loves a corporation, economic factors past and present beyond his control has formed a class system and he just happens to be in the class that has to sell labor power to live.

Keeping in mind that the price of a laborers labor power is mostly not if at all ever decided by the seller of the labor power.
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10-10-2013, 09:36 AM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
Quote:The hypotheticals you mention omit external factors. A person selling himself into servitude is doing so because of factors beyond his own control and his position has forced him into that particular situation.

Agreed, but my position is that I cannot possibly know all the external factors that are driving a man's decisions, I cannot, therefore, be the one to make those decisions for him. Only he himself knows those external factors and can decide what's the best way to overcome them.

In the OP, you mention people from the 'old world' selling their future labor in exchange for travel to the 'new world'. I don't know what their life is like in their part of the world at that point in time. I can imagine that working as indentured servant in the new world was pretty tough. But maybe in his homeland he lived under a Lord that beat and tortured him every day. Maybe for him the life of indentured servant in the new world is nirvana by comparison.

Quote:A person doesn't sell his labor power to someone else because he loves a corporation, economic factors past and present beyond his control has formed a class system and he just happens to be in the class that has to sell labor power to live.

Totally untrue. I have the choice of sitting at home and watching TV all day and doing nothing at all, just living off a welfare check. I CHOOSE to work because I WANT to work. I PICK the corporation to work for that I like the most.

I'm all for creating a system that favor equality. I'm just not willing to do it at the expense of liberty, by denying people their free will and forcing them into a system because I think it's for their own good. If you can find a system that works better than capitalism at achieving equality, and doesn't use threats of violence to strip people of their free will, I'm all for it. But, as of today, the only places in the world I've seen where people have any shred of liberty, where people are free to decide if they want to work or not and if so what work they want to do, are capitalist societies. That's not to say that there's not a better way. Which is why I want you to continue exploring other alternatives and I agree with you that it's abhorrent when capitalist societies try to force their ways on others, just like I think it's abhorrent when communist societies do it. If you guys can demonstrate another system that works better, GREAT, I've got a very open mind and I'll be happy to come join you. But at this point in time, I choose not to go live in North Korea or Cuba.
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10-10-2013, 09:46 AM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
P.S. I _DO_ know lots of people who LOVE the corporations they work for. I've got lots of friends who work for Google. They LOVE Google. They get to eat all the fresh, delicious food they want at great restaurants -- for free -- they get massages in the office -- for free. They have spa and gym facilities in their office. They get to work one day a week on their own project--and Google still pays them. They get paid $150,000/year with lots of benefits. They are by no means being "forced" to work at Google.

Now, since I answer all your questions, please answer mine. Outside of capitalist societies, what is the best place to work, and what's it like working there? Let's compare those working conditions to Google.
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10-10-2013, 12:25 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
I doubt there are many actual capitalists here. That is, I doubt there are many people who own productive capital and profit from its use by others. If you don't own a factory, or productive real estate like a mine or an office building, or some large amount of investment that you don't need for present or future living, you are NOT a capitalist. If you make your main living from wages or salary or even interest, instead of profits, you are not a capitalist.

You may support a capitalist system. You may aspire to be a capitalist someday. You may believe that capitalism is in your best interest. But without profitable capital, you're not a capitalist.

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10-10-2013, 12:39 PM
RE: Questions for capitalists.
@I and I, I already gave my situation earlier in this thread, and I asked you if I am a capitalist or labor, but never got a reply. Now you're saying I'm not a capitalist. But please explain. From my post below, who are the capitalists and who are the laborers? What about Bill Gates? Capitalist or laborer? How are he and I any different? We're both software coders, we both started a business, we both made money at the business, and we both invested it in other projects. Of course, there's a HUGE difference in the numbers (his numbers have many more zero's than mine). But, explain to me, please, from a practical, philosophical manner, what's the difference between Bill and me based on my situation. To me, most of us ARE capitalists and we're all laborers too--for many people their 'capital' is the fruits of their labor, but it's entirely fluid and dynamic and labor can be converted into cash and vice-versa. Have you ever invested in anything, I and I? What about a computer? If you invest a computer and use it to make money, aren't you a capitalist, just like the investor who puts money into a company to buy computers?

Quote:It's an old trick to make up a fake 'battle' between capital and labor. I started a business several years ago. I sold my home and assumed huge debt to get the business going, and worked in the business 100+ hour weeks for several years without a break. Was I "capital" or "labor"? At one point when money got really tight, I offered the employees to take some of their pay in stock instead of cash. Most took advantage of that. Are they "capital" or "labor"? And later I took on an investor who bought shares for cash. He's obviously "capital", but why do you say he's on the opposite side of the "laborers"? Weren't the laborers doing the same thing, effectively donating cash (in the form of reduced salary) to buy equity in the business? If the investor's interests were contrary to the "laborers", why were the "laborers" so thrilled to have an investor come on board so they could again take a full salary? Some of the "laborers", however, preferred to continue with a reduced salary in exchange for equity. Capital and labor are NOT opposing teams in a free market capitalist system, they are both on the same team struggling for the same goals. If an investor, say a doctor, works hard for decades and lives modestly so that he has extra income to invest in start-up business, his "capital" _IS_ his "labor". They are one and the same. In life we all have choices to make to balance risk vs. reward. Some prefer the security of collecting a regular paycheck and will give up own equity in business. Some are all about taking on risk to have more in the future and will invest everything they made from previous labor, or put in new labor ("sweat equity") to own a stake in a business. Others balance this and collect salary + stock. In a business, you have a group of people working together towards one goal, and they all put in what they have, some have capital, some have labor, some have both.
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