Fuck socialism. Go corporations.
Period? What about socialized fire protection, law enforcement, military, and infrastructure? Do you think that private corporations should do those things?
But only enough to provide for efficient market operation and a healthy society.
Corporations are awesome.
Things are allowed to be both awesome and dangerous. I propose that there is a positive correlation between the the two descriptors, actually.
Corporations are cool, but will trample upon the common man if given the chance.If the management believes it would be profitable to do so
Hell, they'll trample the common man if they AREN'T given a chance.
Rhetoric aside, corporations often go as far beyond the law as they think they can get away with, but that doesn't mean they will be self-destructively malicious. They typically want profits, after all.
Corporations have given the common (Westerner) man everything he could ever want and more.
They don't just give
their products away. We don't live in a post-scarcity system where people no longer need to economize. In exchange for the products and services that underlie the modern Western lifestyle, consumers have given major corporations wealth and power comparable to nations of the past.
Government subsidies and price stabilization prevent the boom and bust cycles that led to shortages, price swings, and farmer bankruptcy in the formerly "free" markets, to the betterment of all, including the agricultural corporations that invest in food production because they can count on relatively stable prices. It was largely government-funded research that enabled the Green Revolution.
Strict government regulation is needed to maintain a semblance of a competitive market in telecommunications, which is a natural monopoly market. Without mandated infrastructure-sharing, spectrum regulation, and antitrust laws, places would see either fragmented service (and therefore lower utility and higher costs from reduced economies of scale) or monopolies (and therefore higher costs and reduced attention to consumer satisfaction due to the telecom corporation exercising market power to maximize profits).
relatively cheap computers
Which came from the establishment of demand for military computation in World War Two. Private sector demand caused it to snowball, but the initial demand for large scale electronic computation came from governments.
They charge what they think will be most profitable, which is usually affordable for many but not all people. They also do other things if they think it will be profitable, like first-day DLC and rootkits
Walmart keeps costs low by importing goods from China (Chinese currency policy artificially lowers the cost of Chinese goods in foreign markets) and by reducing worker compensation to the least it can get away with. So cheap stuff is nice, but that's not the only relevant datum about Walmart.
Which are built largely using technology initially developed by military research, and operate under strict government safety and operational regulation. What do you think air travel would look like without the FAA or similar agencies?
Which would not be very useful without government-provided transportation infrastructure and regulation.
Iffy. Private corporations can operate effective rail networks, but only if they operate cooperatively to maintain system cohesion, and that takes some heavy regulation to prevent monopolistic abuse.
relatively cheap guns
Where would the major gun manufacturers be without military and police contracts? Look at their history. Wartime orders let them expand and take advantage of economies of scale, which then let them offer lower prices to the private market.
Which was initially built on government orders for its own use. It was decades before private consumer use really took off, and governments regulate the Internet today to ensure global functionality. What do you think the state of Internet businesses would be like if we'd had a Beta vs. VHS type fight for global data infrastructure during the dot com boom?
everything i could ever pirate
In which you are subverting the operation of legal markets, taking advantage of government-mandated network freedom to make data flow more freely than media corporations would like. What do you think things would be like if corporations could do what they wished with the Internet?
and so on and so forth
I am the Consumer.
Regarding the above, yes, corporations do a lot of cool stuff. However, they don't do that cool stuff on their own. In order to work effectively for society, corporations need governments to provide basic research and regulation to ensure enough safety and honesty to enable markets to work. Many markets are volatile enough when left to themselves that they need regulatory stabilization to operate effectively over the long term. Also, corporations need a strong consumer base in order to provide demand for their operation. Minimum wage and other employment laws help ensure that, even though a single corporation considered in isolation would see larger profits by slashing worker compensation (tragedies of the commons hurt everyone, including corporations which would rationally inflict them if not prevented by regulation). Consumers acting independently are not in a position to compel corporations to systemically act nice.
Doesn't mean they AREN'T totally evil.
I suppose this is something of a semantic issue.
Yeah, that's all good. They'll still trample you if you let them.
Give me five personal examples, either from your life or the experience of an immediate friend or relative.
Irrelevant, since DaCrum's personal experience is not the issue. Are you unfamiliar with what corporations did (and do now in parts of the world) when not restrained by regulation from making profits by being dicks? Do you not know about 96 hour work weeks, child labor, wage (and chattel) slavery, truck systems, unregulated workplace safety, snake oil, banana republics, corruption, and moral hazard?
But anyway, have you ever used a checking account
or telecommunications service (say, from Comcast)?
[Corporations are] a boon. Best thing that ever happened to humanity.
Runaway selection for intelligence. Development of language, ranged weapons, and control of fire. Agriculture. Social specialization and civilization. Metallurgy. Writing and law. Philosophy and math. Currency, banking, and finance. Democracy and representative government. Capitalism. Printing. Science. Engineering. Electricity. Antibiotics. Telecommunications. Computers. Modern-style corporations have been important, but calling them the best is a stretch.
Especially with more and more companies moving towards the "beneficent company" model.
Of course. Oh
Yeah, for now.
Then one day you'll wake up, and a dozen men own all the wealth, and we're all brainwashed slaves to the corporate state. Like 1984, but with corporations.
Writing's a pretty good contender, I must admit. I guess it would be safer to say corporations are the best thing to happen to modern civilization.
Debatable. The depredations of corporations a century or so ago are why communism showed up. Butterflies, ripples, etc.
Consumerist propaganda? More like, advocacy of technological capitalism.
An advocate of technological capitalism should understand the economics of corporations, and accordingly know that they can cause a lot of trouble if not suitably controlled.
Corporations are able to complete huge projects that can't really be accomplished through anything else.
Except governments and major institutions. We do have them for reasons, after all.
Ultimately, their goal isn't to control the world; it's to get rich.
Meaning, if a corporation thinks that it would be profitable to meddle in politics, it will do so
. What do you think of the recent Citizens United
case and the rise of superPACs?
You can't just summarize a corporation as "evil"; they're made up of people.And what are people
? Or some are
, at least
Executives run things to make the stockholders happy and keep their own salaries high.
Except executive compensation has been decoupled from performance, often by way of gaming the system
Managers follow executives' orders to make executives happy, making the shareholders happy, and keep their own salaries high.
Ever heard of the Peter Principle
? Incompetence in middle management is ubiquitous comedic fodder for a reason. And yet they often enjoy standardized compensation packages with scheduled raises by corporate policy.
The common man follows managers' orders to make managers happy, making executives happy, making the shareholders happy, allowing them to make a living. Then the common man goes home and buys everything to make him happy (videogames, for me) and is able to do so because a) his corporate-paid wage and b) how cheap and accessible corporations make goods.
Ideally, sure, but it seems that in reality, real wages have stagnated
and executive pay
have increased. Why is this? It seems that the common man's negotiating power for wages has declined concurrently with the decline in union power
. It's as if corporations have exercised their greater power in labor markets.
The notion that a dozen men will own all the world's wealth is ridiculous. The world moves too quickly and randomly for that to happen.
A problem with democracy and free markets is that they are only metastable. Change and randomness can make it hard for power to accumulate too much, but once it does, that accumulated power can be used to entrench the control of those at the top. From there, they can ride out instability short of a revolution while suppressing potential competitors. That is why democracies turn into dictatorships and free markets turn into monopolies if they are not prevented from doing so. Now, what do you think is going on in real life regarding such preventative mechanisms?
Wizard: Right now, 1 percent of the US population controls around 40% of the wealth. You're saying that the world is too tumultuous to keep wealth in one hands? Yeah, you're right. Unless those wealthy and those corporations turn the rules in their favoring with favorable taxes, laws, and politicians. Which you can see very obviously in US tax code, corporate laws, the influence of corporations and other special interest groups in the past 25 years.
And it seems that wealth inequality does indeed vary inversely with social mobility
They're run by people, that's WHY they're evil.
Evil exists only in the heart of man my friend.
There are different kinds of evil. Corporations tend to be interested primarily in profit, and therefore pursue self-interest regardless of the effects on others, making them Neutral Evil in the usual alignment scheme. Such evil can work out nicely for others, since rational evil can recognize that it is often better to live in a nice place. The people that make up corporations run the gamut, and they are not entirely rational or perfectly informed, so real-world practice varies.
Also, hell and space monsters, but we'll get to those later.
Who you gonna call?
CM: If I understand what you're saying, the corporations trample over everyone all the time BECAUSE the top 1% "controls" 40% of the wealth? Forgive me, but I don't understand exactly how that works. Could you explain how one is directly related to the other?
In an ideal free market, no entity has appreciable market power. In the real world, large corporations can control significant percentages of their markets, which lets them use market power for monopolistic practices like price fixing of products and wages. The more power controlled by a single entity or small group, the more they are able to steer the functioning of markets to modes of operation that benefit them at the expense of the economy / society as a whole (they capture more of the market surplus in a manner that reduces the total market surplus). This is exacerbated when politics is added, where those with some concentration of money can use it to enact legislation that protects their position at the expense of others. For example, this has led to a significant shift in the balance between the public and private domains in copyright law. Long-term copyright allows media corporations to milk established franchises indefinitely instead of innovate, while incentive to innovate was the major justification for copyright in the first place. What would you expect tax, capital gains, and inheritance policy to look like if those with the most wealth were allowed to use it to influence politics without meaningful restriction? What would those with the most wealth want
it to look like? Remember this
EDIT: Also, how exactly is the tax code stacked in the favor of the rich? It was my impression that over 40 million Americans pay zero taxes, and some even see a negative tax rate. Even if a rich person only pays 20% of their total income in taxes, they're still paying 20% more than 40 million people. Could I get you to expand on that?
Your impression is wrong. I mentioned it in previous discussion, but while there are many people who pay zero or effectively negative federal "income" tax
, there are local, state, and other federal taxes that affect poorer people much more than wealthier people. Things like payroll taxes (percentage of income up to a cap), property, gas, sales, etc. taxes (percentage of something's value) apply very much to poorer people but relatively little to wealthier people whose income and wealth tend to be used in ways not applicable to those taxes. The overall tax burden is rather flatter than you characterize it
. And recall that the really
rich folks make most of their income from capital gains, which is taxed at 15%. Remember Mitt Romney's 13.9% tax rate (lower than what the bottom quintile pays, even though Romney makes thousands of times as much)? More info
Also, did you mean that 40+ million American workers
pay zero taxes? Because there are more than that many children in the US too young to legally work. I hope you don't expect them to pay the same tax rate as business dudes. They still pay sales taxes, but that's not very high.
A good balance of temporary subsidies and correctly placed taxes could encourage the development and growth of a more sustainable and healthy food market. The food market can be very well guided by the legislation. And once sufficient improvement is made subsidies can be slowly recalled and incentives not to use the previous means of production either banned or taxed accordingly so as to prevent them from re-emerging.
The thing is, fast food (and its attendant franchises and vertically integrated supply) is very appealing for its convenience even apart from issues of direct monetary cost. When pressed for time or when traveling, it is very nice to be able to travel a short distance to a franchise restaurant with a known menu, quality, and cost, and get a meal in less time than it would take to cook. I don't think that reasonable market intervention will make fast food go away or remove its appeal. However, I propose that it can be made healthier in practice with targeted incentives to shift consumer preferences within their offered menus. Say, a cent tax per milligram sodium after each item's first two hundred grams, and a similar tax on calories per item. Fast food would still play its (useful but hopefully smaller) role, but hopefully some of the health issues would be lessened.
Some things shouldn't be fed to humans, but what's wrong with mechanically separated meat?
That meat by itself is not a problem. Since it provides a very valuable source of somewhat nutritious food. The problem with it is how hard it is to control and enforce most standards in it.
Fair enough. Though I don't know of there being any food poisoning cases from it. Unlike many other foods (fresh vegetables, say).
Which is why it's so easy to bypass the standards and limits as to fat content and many other regulations with this kind of meat. A lot of the meat that litters the food market with unhealthy fastfood is MSM. Keep in mind MSM was only labelled as meat for human consumption in 1994. Which seemed to overlap with a new increase of obesity rates in the US. Now, correlation does not imply causation. But a relation between these events is likely.
Actually, fat and risk of obesity isn't really an issue with this type of meat. In its manufacturing process, it is heated and centrifuged to separate the muscle fibers from the fat, and the resulting meat paste is rather lean (this is why the "pink slime" is technically called lean
finely textured beef). It is often used to make ground meat leaner.