Author Topic: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!  (Read 584 times)

lightbulb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« on: February 23, 2018, 03:45:30 PM »
Just finished reading this manifesto Imagine Non-Profit Society: Utopia or Necessity

In a nutshell: it's a bird's-eye view of the present profit based society, its problems, and draft blueprint for possibly better non-profit society in the future.  Provided by an "outsider" (non-economist), quite provoking with some compelling arguments.

I am all for it - hey, it's FIRE for everyone! But not sure humankind will be getting there. Ever. Despite the fact that kicks in the butt from various sides are only getting more painful, not least from them damn robots.   

So I was left with that disturbing reminder that perpetual economic growth is impossible, one of the rare (serious) concers I have with index investing that I somehow managed to turn a blind eye on. Sure, the growth in productivity has its merits, but if anything, 100+ years of steady index growth indicates that considerable compounding effects will become an issue exposing the limts of eternal growth within a finite system.

I recommend the reading, but do approach it open minded.
Little is needed to make a wise man happy, but nothing can content a fool. That is why nearly all men are miserable.

- La Rochefoucauld

obstinate

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 723
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2018, 05:14:38 PM »
Terrible ideas. There'd be much less reason for me to work hard if I could not invest my savings. Investment implies profit, because otherwise there is no reason to risk your money.

Someday society will be like this, but only once we create tireless robots whose only desire is to serve us. As long as we need people to do anything other than exactly what they desire, free from any compulsion, there needs to be the possibility of profit.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 05:16:34 PM by obstinate »

MaaS

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2018, 05:50:51 PM »
Just finished reading this manifesto Imagine Non-Profit Society: Utopia or Necessity

In a nutshell: it's a bird's-eye view of the present profit based society, its problems, and draft blueprint for possibly better non-profit society in the future.  Provided by an "outsider" (non-economist), quite provoking with some compelling arguments.

I am all for it - hey, it's FIRE for everyone! But not sure humankind will be getting there. Ever. Despite the fact that kicks in the butt from various sides are only getting more painful, not least from them damn robots.   

So I was left with that disturbing reminder that perpetual economic growth is impossible, one of the rare (serious) concers I have with index investing that I somehow managed to turn a blind eye on. Sure, the growth in productivity has its merits, but if anything, 100+ years of steady index growth indicates that considerable compounding effects will become an issue exposing the limts of eternal growth within a finite system.

I recommend the reading, but do approach it open minded.

Disclaimer: Didn't read it.

This "genre" of argument basically comes down to whether government distributed resources can work.  Both on a personal and business level.

The latter is actually why I believe such systems are always destined to fail.

Innovation, even in a technically advanced utopia scenario, requires resources. People, equipment, software, etc.  How are resources distributed? The individual and VC investment model is driven by profit seeking.  Without profit potential, it seems investment would have to be handled by some sort of government.

Does anybody honestly feel confident that any government can successfully pick the ideas that will change the world? And even if they get the idea right, pick the right company?  I don't. I think the day profits aren't viewed as a positive is the day we start moving backwards on a macro scale.  That's not to say inequality can't be reduced while maintaining the profit model, though.

evensjw

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 26
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2018, 06:23:41 PM »
I don't really have a problem with the profit-driven model, it just seems that in the current economy we have not worked out how to ensure that certain costs are accurately passed on, resulting in profits being higher than they should be.  The obvious one is that costs of impacting the environment or global climate are not passed on to companies that cause the impact.  Another more debatable one is that labor costs do not seem to be set fairly.  Or another way to look at that would be to say that some people are not making enough of a profit on their investment of labor, so we need more profit, not less.

markbike528CBX

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 582
  • Location: the Everbrown part of the Evergreen State (WA)
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2018, 06:36:51 PM »
Terrible ideas. There'd be much less reason for me to work hard if I could not invest my savings. Investment implies profit, because otherwise there is no reason to risk your money.

Someday society will be like this, but only once we create tireless robots whose only desire is to serve us. As long as we need people to do anything other than exactly what they desire, free from any compulsion, there needs to be the possibility of profit.

I so wanted "possibility of profit" to be a punk band name.  Couldn't find it, but did find a 2017 song by Mudhoney, my favorite band.  Oh well, it was meant to be.

On topic, I agree with obstinate, well said.

VoteCthulu

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 351
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2018, 06:49:57 PM »
So I was left with that disturbing reminder that perpetual economic growth is impossible, one of the rare (serious) concers I have with index investing that I somehow managed to turn a blind eye on. Sure, the growth in productivity has its merits, but if anything, 100+ years of steady index growth indicates that considerable compounding effects will become an issue exposing the limts of eternal growth within a finite system..
"Hamsters can't continue to grow forever, therefore an economy can't continue grow forever" doesn't strike me as a very compelling argument. It seems much like saying "A Hamster can't grow to be the size of the galaxy, therefore it's impossible for mankind to expand throughout the galaxy."

inline five

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 398
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2018, 07:03:51 PM »
One major advantage of our fiat monetary system is it allows the continued growth of the economy as tied to population growth.

You don't need productivity growth to expand profit, just demand growth. Lots of the worlds population continues to grow and acquire new things. Providing internet to these people is probably the best way we can pull them out of 3rd world status and expand our economy at the same time as we sell high level goods and services to them.

Facebook and Google are both hard at work in solving that issue for good reason.

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 645
Re: So, what seems to be the problem? It's the profits, stupid!
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2018, 09:39:07 PM »
I don't think him being a non-economist is to his credit. There is a reason specialization exists and it's unlikely an outsider understands anything as well as the specialist (Kyrie Irving thinks the earth is flat--is that a healthy outside view?). While some spheres (pun intended) of academia are prone to group-think (economics, at worst, might weakly fall into this category), it's far more likely a non-expert view is rubbish.

Secondly, I don't think it's obvious economic growth necessarily must cease at any point in the future.

If we want to think weird, I did enjoy (in a manner consistent with anti-capitalism, free) Accelerationist Manifesto, which has gems as follows:

Given the enslavement of technoscience to capitalist objectives (especially since the late 1970s) we surely do not yet know what a modern technosocial body can do. Who amongst us fully recognizes what untapped potentials await in the technology which has already been developed? Our wager is that the true transformative potentials of much of our technological and scientific research remain unexploited, filled with presently redundant features (or pre-adaptations) that, following a shift beyond the short-sighted capitalist socius, can become decisive.

Like Slavoj Žižek at his worst (when, paradoxically, he's at his best?) such semi-incoherent ideas at least trigger interesting thoughts. More importantly, the Accelerationst Manifesto was inspiration for Austra's album Future Politics, which is quite good.