Moderator: Mod Squad
Period? What about socialized fire protection, law enforcement, military, and infrastructure? Do you think that private corporations should do those things?MetsFan wrote:Fuck socialism. Go corporations.
But only enough to provide for efficient market operation and a healthy society.NeoWarrior7 wrote:Fuck corporations.
Things are allowed to be both awesome and dangerous. I propose that there is a positive correlation between the the two descriptors, actually.MetsFan wrote:Corporations are awesome.
If the management believes it would be profitable to do so.DaCrum wrote:Corporations are cool, but will trample upon the common man if given the 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.NeoWarrior7 wrote:Hell, they'll trample the common man if they AREN'T given a chance.
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.MetsFan wrote:Corporations have given the common (Westerner) man everything he could ever want and more.
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.MetsFan wrote:cheap food
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).MetsFan wrote:cheap cellphones
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.MetsFan wrote:relatively cheap computers
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 rootkitsMetsFan wrote:affordable videogames
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.MetsFan wrote:wal-mart
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?MetsFan wrote:planes
Which would not be very useful without government-provided transportation infrastructure and regulation.MetsFan wrote:lotsa cars
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.MetsFan wrote:trains
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.MetsFan wrote:relatively cheap guns
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?MetsFan wrote:the internet
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?MetsFan wrote:everything i could ever pirate
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.MetsFan wrote:and so on and so forth
I am the Consumer.
I suppose this is something of a semantic issue.NeoWarrior7 wrote:Doesn't mean they AREN'T totally evil.
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?MetsFan wrote:Give me five personal examples, either from your life or the experience of an immediate friend or relative.DaCrum wrote:Yeah, that's all good. They'll still trample you if you let them.
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.MetsFan wrote:[Corporations are] a boon. Best thing that ever happened to humanity.
Of course. Oh, wait.MetsFan wrote:Especially with more and more companies moving towards the "beneficent company" model.
NeoWarrior7 wrote: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.
Debatable. The depredations of corporations a century or so ago are why communism showed up. Butterflies, ripples, etc.MetsFan wrote: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.
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.MetsFan wrote:Consumerist propaganda? More like, advocacy of technological capitalism.
Except governments and major institutions. We do have them for reasons, after all.MetsFan wrote:Corporations are able to complete huge projects that can't really be accomplished through anything else.
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?MetsFan wrote:Ultimately, their goal isn't to control the world; it's to get rich.
And what are people? Or some are, at least.MetsFan wrote:You can't just summarize a corporation as "evil"; they're made up of people.
Except executive compensation has been decoupled from performance, often by way of gaming the system.MetsFan wrote:Executives run things to make the stockholders happy and keep their own salaries high.
MetsFan wrote:Managers follow executives' orders to make executives happy, making the shareholders happy, and keep their own salaries high.
Ideally, sure, but it seems that in reality, real wages have stagnated while productivity 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.MetsFan wrote: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.
MetsFan wrote: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.
And it seems that wealth inequality does indeed vary inversely with social mobility.DaCrum wrote: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.
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.NeoWarrior7 wrote:They're run by people, that's WHY they're evil.
Evil exists only in the heart of man my friend.
NeoWarrior7 wrote:Also, hell and space monsters, but we'll get to those later.
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?RuffDraft wrote: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?
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.RuffDraft wrote: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?
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.Q.U. wrote: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.
Fair enough. Though I don't know of there being any food poisoning cases from it. Unlike many other foods (fresh vegetables, say).Q.U. wrote: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.Some things shouldn't be fed to humans, but what's wrong with mechanically separated meat?
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.Q.U. wrote: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.
I still don't want to eat food and taste ammonia, do you? If it only saves them about 3 cents per pound, can't it be eliminated entirely?DaCrum wrote:Friend who wants to become a meat scientist told me there's nothing dangerous about pink slime so I'm inclined to agree with the woman who makes the damn stuff.
Fair enough. Though I don't know of there being any food poisoning cases from it. Unlike many other foods (fresh vegetables, say).
RuffDraft wrote:I still don't want to eat food and taste ammonia, do you? If it only saves them about 3 cents per pound, can't it be eliminated entirely?DaCrum wrote:Friend who wants to become a meat scientist told me there's nothing dangerous about pink slime so I'm inclined to agree with the woman who makes the damn stuff.
RuffDraft wrote:Either way, why do we allow this practice to go on at all?
I'm not so sure about that, based on the fact that it was only the USDA's decision to allow this meat into the markets (which did not apparently receive congressional approval). According to the Wiki on pink slime:Whatis6times9 wrote:The short answer, lobbying.
USDA scientists Carl Custer and Gerald Zirnstein say they argued against approval, saying that it was not "meat" and was in fact "salvage," but were overruled. Approval was ultimately granted by then-Under Secretary of Agriculture JoAnne Smith, who according to former USDA microbiologist Carl Custer stated "It's pink, therefore it's meat."
People used to think that amalgam fillings in teeth were harmless. The WHO released a study in 1991 saying that the leading cause of mercury in the body was in fact these very amalgam fillings.DaCrum wrote:Because it isn't dangerous? Did people notice this before the whole 'pink slime' controversy started? No. This is mental effect. People are just being whiny, again.
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.
People used to think that amalgam fillings in teeth were harmless. The WHO released a study in 1991 saying that the leading cause of mercury in the body was in fact these very amalgam fillings.
The WHO reports that no level of mercury exposure is considered safe. The long term effects of mercury poisoning (that is, people who have been exposed to small quantities of mercury over a long period of time) has been linked to nervous system damage, memory loss, muscle coordination problems, and so on, and may be irreversible (from what I can tell, people with long-term mercury poisoning have shown improvement when the mercury has been removed from their environment, but have never fully recovered).Q.U. wrote:Just to point out. There's not a single element of the periodic table, molecule, chemical compound or substance in the universe that would be harmful to you in the right dosage/exposure. There's not a single one of those that would be harmless in an excessive dosage/exposure.People used to think that amalgam fillings in teeth were harmless. The WHO released a study in 1991 saying that the leading cause of mercury in the body was in fact these very amalgam fillings.