Author Topic: Living off of other people's work  (Read 73757 times)

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #150 on: May 24, 2013, 10:53:44 AM »
In contrast, in the example I was responding to, the inventor does NO WORK of any kind, ever again, but they continue to get income forever. 

So how about an author?  Say for a concrete example, Tolkien (since we're into fantasy).  He wrote LotR prior to 1954 (when it was first published), yet it didn't become really popular until the 1960s.  So should he have been able to collect money by "renting out" his past work for people's entertainment?

An author is the perfect example - I was considering mentioning it as a better example, but then the nonsense started and I opted out.

Anyway, on a purely theoretical basis (people stranded on an island, or free market with no government intervention) obviously the author has no way to enforce a restriction on "bootlegged" books.  Without a state (and ultimately, its guns) people make copies of the book and no one has to pay more than the cost of the paper for the ideas. 

However, the morality of it, given it is unlimited income forever, based on a single past effort, that's a tricky one. 
Producing something with near zero marginal cost but marketable to an enormous consumer base (i.e. books, movies, music, software) is perhaps the only way to get top 0.1% rich without living off of other people's labor (i.e. investment, or keeping part of the value of your employees' labor).
On the one hand, a lot of time and money goes into producing the creative work in the first place.  Plus their is legitimate risk it won't ever be popular, and never even break even.  On the other hand, once it is produced, the per unit cost may be half a cent, but it sells for $20, to a market of the entire developed world. 
A part of me thinks ideas should be public domain.  It would not have been good for humanity if someone had patented fire, or the wheel, agriculture or indoor plumbing, and held the technology ransom in an artificial monopoly so they could get rich.  True, much of what is produced now for profit wouldn't get produced (though one could certainly make a case for things of this nature that are created for reasons other than profit tend to be higher quality anyway), but maybe that's an acceptable trade-off.
But another part definitely acknowledges that authors and musicians and software developers should be compensated for their work.

I'm not sure what the optimal solution is.  Maybe something similar to drug patents, where the government protection is for a pre-specified time period?  There may be better solutions I haven't thought of.


Mr Mark

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1197
  • Location: Planet Earth
  • Achieved Financial Independence summer 2014. RE'18
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #151 on: May 24, 2013, 02:42:27 PM »
You make it sound like theft, "talking a part of their labour".

Thing is, by renting out your capital investment, their labour productivity increases, beyond the rent they pay. So it's a win win.

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #152 on: May 24, 2013, 04:41:44 PM »
You make it sound like theft, "talking a part of their labour".

Thing is, by renting out your capital investment, their labour productivity increases, beyond the rent they pay. So it's a win win.

more like:

win(?)   /   WIN







The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.  Why would I care if I am producing 10 times as much per hour if I still get paid the same?

nktokyo

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 370
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #153 on: May 24, 2013, 05:35:13 PM »
So as the labourer invest some of your money and start facilitating still more people's work?

The_Dude

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #154 on: May 24, 2013, 05:56:01 PM »



The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.  Why would I care if I am producing 10 times as much per hour if I still get paid the same?

Interesting slide.  Bakari you seem to have done quite a bit of research on this topic.  I'm curious if anyone has done any modeling of what the impact would be to the 99% if the income relationship between the top 1% was held constant with the productivity gains from the 70's? 

It would obviously decrease the top earner groups significantly but I wonder how much the impact would be to the lower groups since it gets spread out over such a large group. 

chucklesmcgee

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #155 on: May 24, 2013, 06:28:25 PM »
The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.  Why would I care if I am producing 10 times as much per hour if I still get paid the same?

Answer: You'll be fired if you don't produce 10 times as much because they'll find someone else who can.

It's like Karl Marx 101. People who control the means of production, who own the business, directly or indirectly, decide what happens to the profits. The price of labor is determined on a supply and demand basis- employers are going to offer the lowest possible salary that will attract someone of the desired level of competence who can be retained. As employees become more and more efficient, the amount of revenue the company creates is increased. But since people are still willing to work at their current wages, especially when a dozen people willing to rush into their job opening, there's no incentive to pay out more.

Profits generate more capital which can be used for more investments  to generate more profit ad nauseum, whereas laborers are constrained by the price of labor and their time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOP2V_np2c0&list=PL39BF9545D740ECFF&index=10

Not a bad video highlighting this disparity. There are a few niggling criticisms of Marx, but the general concept of controlling the means of production explains this situation well.

tooqk4u22

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2416
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #156 on: May 24, 2013, 07:18:52 PM »
The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.  Why would I care if I am producing 10 times as much per hour if I still get paid the same?


Answer: You'll be fired if you don't produce 10 times as much because they'll find someone else who can.


Couple of thoughts on this:
1. I am in a production (revenue) oriented role and I am basically required to bring in 10x my salary in profit before additional compensation kicks in. Bakari would suggest that this is unfair and someone is taking advantage of me, I view it as someone is affording me the luxury of a salary with the opportunity to make more if I am successful.

2. That said - the divergence created as a result of increased productivity and the income increasingly going to the top and the bottom losing out is unsustainable. This is why socialism, or some form of appeasing the masses (like the romans simply giving out bread and having games) is needed to keep the masses at bay....even though they are not reaching or enjoying their full potential and this is paid for by a success tax (I mean a disproportionate income tax on high earners).   

3.  I would summize that those, even those in the lower realms of Bakari's chart, if they saved more than they spend, especially if they saved at a high savings rate, and found themselves with excess capital to invest then those same people at the bottom of the food chain would suddenly feel differentyl and embrace capitalism, passive income and living off the backs of others.



The_Dude

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 201
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #157 on: May 24, 2013, 07:22:32 PM »

I'm curious if anyone has done any modeling of what the impact would be to the 99% if the income relationship between the top 1% was held constant with the productivity gains from the 70's? 

It would obviously decrease the top earner groups significantly but I wonder how much the impact would be to the lower groups since it gets spread out over such a large group.

Since I was curious I've spent the last hour or however long it's been since I made the above post looking into this.  I didn't find what I was looking for with a quick google search so I've spent a bunch of time on the google public data, census and the  parisschoolofeconomics site sited in the slide above. 

I used google public data to determine that total personal income in 2011 was $12.9T and in 1975 it was $1.3T.  Using usinflationcalculator.com a 1975 dollar is wroth $4.18 in 2011 so inflation brings 1975 personal income to $5.6T in 2011 dollars.

Total households in 1975 was 72,867 compared to 121,084 in 2011.

Top 1% in 1975 received 8.01% of the income compared to 17.43% in 2011.

Playing with those numbers I calculated the following (all in 2011 dollars).

1975 1% avg income = $611K
2011 1% avg income = $1.9M
Increase in 1% avg income = 205%

1975 99% avg income = $71K
2011 99% avg income = $89K
Increase in 99% avg income = 26%

If top 1% was held to 1975' 8% share of 2011 income then their avg income would decrease 54% from 2011 actual of $1.9M to $857K.
If the 99% was held to 1975's 92% share of 2011 income then their avg income would of increased 11% from 2011 actual of $89K to 99K.
In this case both  would share the productivity increases equally.

About productivity vs inflation vs population growth I calculated that:
Inflation increased personal income 418% from 1975 to 2011
Total number of households increased total us personal income 66% from 1975 to 2011
Which leaves an increase of 40% from productivity and/or more working individuals per household from 1975 to 2011.

Conclusion:
Somewhat as I suspected the 99% does see meaningful improvement if "income inequality" is frozen at 1975 levels vs the 1% but I doubt an additional 11% increase in the 99%'s average pay would radically alter the avg 99%'s economic circumstances and opportunities would it?  I honestly don't know. 

I'd like to try and play with some other cuts than just 99% vs 1% especially since I'm using averages instead of median as *most* of the 99% don't see anywhere near the average salaries I calculated. 

chucklesmcgee

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #158 on: May 24, 2013, 08:46:07 PM »
Couple of thoughts on this:
1. I am in a production (revenue) oriented role and I am basically required to bring in 10x my salary in profit before additional compensation kicks in. Bakari would suggest that this is unfair and someone is taking advantage of me, I view it as someone is affording me the luxury of a salary with the opportunity to make more if I am successful.

It all depends really on your political philosophy. I see it as a laissez-faire situation where you will be paid for your labor the price the market is willing to pay and incentivized to maximize productivity. After all, companies don't have any duty at all to hire anyone to do anything- needing to hire someone is just an ancillary cost often required to generate revenue. And you don't have to work for that company if it pays you too little, it's a free country.

But if you take a more Marxist view, it is the capital class exploiting the proletariat. Suppose you take take $1000 in raw ingredients/energy, have people spend 20 hours transforming them, and you end up with finished products that people will pay $100,000 for. Workers here have created $99,0000 in value, but may receive only $200 for their efforts because the owners of the means of production dictate what's done with the profits. If you believe that workers are entitled to a substantial portion of the value they create, this is fundamentally unfair. If you believe in freedom of contract, that workers were offered to be paid a certain wage to do the work, agreed to do the work and were paid according to what they agreed to, there's no injustice.

2. socialism, or some form of appeasing the masses (like the romans simply giving out bread and having games) is needed to keep the masses at bay....even though they are not reaching or enjoying their full potential and this is paid for by a success tax (I mean a disproportionate income tax on high earners).   

It's called food stamps. 1 in 7 Americans are already on them, the bottom 14% give or take. And it's very true that many people will often passively accept whatever their government does- until they go hungry. Lets not forget that the games and bread handouts by the Romans were escalated just before the collapse of the empire in order to stave off chaos for as long as possible. I cynically believe that the push by the Obama administration to increase food-stamp enrollment is out of desire to minimize political unrest during a very poor labor market.

Handouts can keep the situation stable for a while, but it doesn't address the underlying issue. The systemic issue with the job market is only going to get worse.

Technology has eliminated the need for so many jobs and will continue eliminating others. The need for thousands of music stores, book stores, post offices, bank branches, mom & pop shops, video rental stores and car dealerships is vanishing thanks to email, the internet and eCommerce like Amazon and iTunes. i'm imagining a point where most of America outside of large cities will have nearly no infrastructure beyond local restaurants and grocery stores (not even gas stations when electric cars catch on). Employment will basically fall mostly to low level service workers who have to be in the physical area and those who control capital and own these businesses, with nearly nothing in between.

I really don't know a solution to all of this. But the best option to come out on top is to be a capital holder while you still can.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 44
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #159 on: May 24, 2013, 10:15:20 PM »
I think most of recognize that the game is rigged to favor the elite minority. 

The world is pyramid shaped, with a select few living off the backs of the squalid masses below them.  This is just as true for Warren Buffet as it is for the average Walmart shopper, just at different scales.  Buffet doesn't profit without an actively participatory consumer class, and you can't buy a $3 T-shirt without Vietnamese sweatshop labor.  We all prosper in America because the third world is horrendously exploited.

If I were a man of deeper conviction, I could devote my life to changing this system.  In reality I am a man of selfishly expedient optimization, and so I instead choose to learn to game the system, to join the investor class and thus perpetuate the gross injustice of this system simply because it can benefit me.  This is the nature if capitalism and organized crime. Everyone sees it sucks, but as long as it sucks less for me than for you, we all continue to play.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #160 on: May 24, 2013, 11:44:40 PM »
The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.

So why not save a little of your income and become one of the investor class?  While still remaining one of the laborer class, at least until you get to FI?

It's like Karl Marx 101.


Applying Karl Marx's economic theories to the real world is like NASA trying to navigate its space probes by the astronomic theories of Ptolemy.  The man was just plain wrong.

wepner

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #161 on: May 25, 2013, 02:53:22 AM »
Comparing a physical science with a social science is a bad idea. 

tooqk4u22

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2416
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #162 on: May 25, 2013, 06:14:36 AM »
I think most of recognize that the game is rigged to favor the elite minority. 

The world is pyramid shaped, with a select few living off the backs of the squalid masses below them.  This is just as true for Warren Buffet as it is for the average Walmart shopper, just at different scales.  Buffet doesn't profit without an actively participatory consumer class, and you can't buy a $3 T-shirt without Vietnamese sweatshop labor.  We all prosper in America because the third world is horrendously exploited.


By US standards it does look like these people are horribly exploited, but many times (not all) this "exploitation" has resulted in societal improvements through income, infrastructure, etc. So a lot of the time they are still gaining, so to me that is not exploitation.

grantmeaname

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5077
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #163 on: May 25, 2013, 07:44:01 AM »
By US standards it does look like these people are horribly exploited, but many times (not all) this "exploitation" has resulted in societal improvements through income, infrastructure, etc. So a lot of the time they are still gaining, so to me that is not exploitation.
This is really key. The process of globalization is messy and ugly and unpleasant, but it's not a static, one-frame story -- the developing world is growing at leaps and bounds and things are changing for the better.

footenote

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 801
  • MMMing in MN
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #164 on: May 25, 2013, 08:30:34 AM »
By US standards it does look like these people are horribly exploited, but many times (not all) this "exploitation" has resulted in societal improvements through income, infrastructure, etc. So a lot of the time they are still gaining, so to me that is not exploitation.
This is really key. The process of globalization is messy and ugly and unpleasant, but it's not a static, one-frame story -- the developing world is growing at leaps and bounds and things are changing for the better.

Agree: http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/extreme-poverty-drops-worldwide/

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #165 on: May 25, 2013, 09:55:36 AM »
So as the labourer invest some of your money and start facilitating still more people's work?

Only that is something of a pyramid scheme, isn't it?  It wouldn't work if everyone was an investor and no one did any actual work.

The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.  Why would I care if I am producing 10 times as much per hour if I still get paid the same?
Answer: You'll be fired if you don't produce 10 times as much because they'll find someone else who can.

That was a rhetorical question :)

The value of increases in labor productivity have all gone to the investor class, so there is really no benefit to the laborer.  Why would I care if I am producing 10 times as much per hour if I still get paid the same?


Answer: You'll be fired if you don't produce 10 times as much because they'll find someone else who can.


Couple of thoughts on this:
1. I am in a production (revenue) oriented role and I am basically required to bring in 10x my salary in profit before additional compensation kicks in. Bakari would suggest that this is unfair and someone is taking advantage of me, I view it as someone is affording me the luxury of a salary with the opportunity to make more if I am successful.

2. That said - the divergence created as a result of increased productivity and the income increasingly going to the top and the bottom losing out is unsustainable. This is why socialism, or some form of appeasing the masses (like the romans simply giving out bread and having games) is needed to keep the masses at bay....even though they are not reaching or enjoying their full potential and this is paid for by a success tax (I mean a disproportionate income tax on high earners).   

Thats why I don't advocate welfare or redistribution.  I advocate working hours being reduced to reflect the gains in productivity (just like we instituted the 40 hour week after the industrial revolution) and government policy which seeks to limit, rather than enhance, the power of capital



I'm curious if anyone has done any modeling of what the impact would be to the 99% if the income relationship between the top 1% was held constant with the productivity gains from the 70's? 

It would obviously decrease the top earner groups significantly but I wonder how much the impact would be to the lower groups since it gets spread out over such a large group.

Since I was curious I've spent the last hour or however long it's been since I made the above post looking into this...
I'd like to try and play with some other cuts than just 99% vs 1% especially since I'm using averages instead of median as *most* of the 99% don't see anywhere near the average salaries I calculated. 

Thanks fr running the math.  I was going to when I got time.  I still might - I'd be more interested to see the numbers for the top 0.1% or 0.01% and the bottom 50% (or even the middle third).
The 1% includes doctors and lawyers and others who actually earn a salary and are well off but not really super rich, and starting at 50% would address your last sentence.

Couple of thoughts on this:
1. I am in a production (revenue) oriented role and I am basically required to bring in 10x my salary in profit before additional compensation kicks in. Bakari would suggest that this is unfair and someone is taking advantage of me, I view it as someone is affording me the luxury of a salary with the opportunity to make more if I am successful.

It all depends really on your political philosophy. I see it as a laissez-faire situation...
Corporations only exist via government issued charter.  Contracts are only binding with government backed enforcement.  There could be no stock market without government backed securities. 
In a laissez-faire situation a person could, for example, own property.  They could own exactly as much as they could personally defend.  Just like in the animal world.  What can not happen is a cat claiming ownership of territory in another state, and demanding that the cat who lives there pay rent on it.  That requires state power.
That's the difference between a free market and capitalism - a free market is a direct exchange between individuals, but capitalism relies and state-power to enforce unnatural claims of ownership.  If each employer had one location, and had to compete with thousands of other employers in the same field, then the employee and employer position for bargaining salary s equal.  If the employer is allowed to buy out every other employer in the area, he has just gained an unfair advantage in negotiating. 


Quote
After all, companies don't have any duty at all to hire anyone to do anything- needing to hire someone is just an ancillary cost often required to generate revenue.
Why should we, as a society, care if a company generates revenue?  Companies serve a purpose to society by providing a good or service and employment.  If they aren't, maybe the community shouldn't grant a business license, just like we don't for meth labs. 


Quote
If you believe in freedom of contract, that workers were offered to be paid a certain wage to do the work, agreed to do the work and were paid according to what they agreed to, there's no injustice.
There doesn't have to be an "injustice" for there to be a problem.  When everyone takes 4 fish from the lake every day, and the lake ends up overfished and now there is none for anyone, there has been no injustice.  If each individual forgoes smog checks, and the city ends up like Bejing, there was no injustice.  If a person spends ten million of their own money on campaign ads, and wins the election because voters are stupid and believe whatever they see in an ad, there was no injustice.  But in each case there IS a problem for society, one that ultimately negatively effects everyone, even the upper class.  The trend which will lead us to be an aristocratic society is a problem.  Turning the entire middle class into the poor would be a problem.

Anyway, a worker may have agreed to a given wage, but they didn't agree to have Walmart take the place of several smaller independent retailers that paid higher wages but have now closed.  If there is limited competition, then taking the job is not entirely voluntary

Quote

Handouts can keep the situation stable for a while, but it doesn't address the underlying issue. The systemic issue with the job market is only going to get worse.

Technology has eliminated the need for so many jobs and will continue eliminating others. The need for thousands of music stores, book stores, post offices, bank branches, mom & pop shops, video rental stores and car dealerships is vanishing thanks to email, the internet and eCommerce like Amazon and iTunes. i'm imagining a point where most of America outside of large cities will have nearly no infrastructure beyond local restaurants and grocery stores (not even gas stations when electric cars catch on). Employment will basically fall mostly to low level service workers who have to be in the physical area and those who control capital and own these businesses, with nearly nothing in between.
Exactly.

By US standards it does look like these people are horribly exploited, but many times (not all) this "exploitation" has resulted in societal improvements through income, infrastructure, etc. So a lot of the time they are still gaining, so to me that is not exploitation.
This is really key. The process of globalization is messy and ugly and unpleasant, but it's not a static, one-frame story -- the developing world is growing at leaps and bounds and things are changing for the better.

But are they developing because of us, or in spite of us?  Technology raises everyone, (even if it raises some more than others).  If advances in medicine, agriculture, communications, etc are the reason for advancement, then that doesn't mean they aren't also being exploited at the same time. 
« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 11:43:59 AM by Bakari »

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #166 on: May 25, 2013, 11:41:31 AM »
Comparing a physical science with a social science is a bad idea.

Why?  It's not the science that's the point, but the utter wrongness.  I suppose I could have used a comparison to Hitler's Master Race theories, but that would have violated Godwin's Law.  But you're certainly welcome to come up with better analogies if you like.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 44
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #167 on: May 25, 2013, 12:32:28 PM »
By US standards it does look like these people are horribly exploited, but many times (not all) this "exploitation" has resulted in societal improvements through income, infrastructure, etc. So a lot of the time they are still gaining, so to me that is not exploitation.
This is really key. The process of globalization is messy and ugly and unpleasant, but it's not a static, one-frame story -- the developing world is growing at leaps and bounds and things are changing for the better.

I admit it's been about a decade since I travelled extensively in the third world, but back then the supposed "progress" that globalization was bringing was a farce. 

Corporations built roads and power lines to extract a country's natural resources, shipped the product back home and extracted all the value far away.  Back in shitholistan, a bunch of dirt farmers living in cardboard boxes had no use for power lines and paved roads for their donkeys and hand tools.  All they saw was their country's vast wealth being shipped away, and then offered for sale back to them at grossly inflated prices their local economy could not support.

I recognize that globalization has provided some benefit to poor countries.  It has provided much more benefit to wealthy countries, though, at the expense of the people who should be profiting from their sovereign resources.  It's highway robbery on a global scale, perpetuated by the rich and foisted on the poor.  And you and I are ones who benefit the most.

Okay, rant over.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 05:45:15 PM by sol »

Mr Mark

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1197
  • Location: Planet Earth
  • Achieved Financial Independence summer 2014. RE'18
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #168 on: May 25, 2013, 01:02:30 PM »
But by being a benign capitalist, making money and freeing your time, you can have a real impact on many people's lives through your money knowledge and time.

Capitalism creates the opportunity for charity. And your impact I believe would be demonstrably better overall by working within the system and doing what you can, instead of bewailing the injustices, trying to get civil servants to do it on your behalf via higher taxes, or staying poor by remaining a wage drone limited in income by requiring the exchange of labour for money.

Paying forward is catching on, and the internet a good example of the power of social media. It's getting harder for corporations to operate in today's world, not easier.

wepner

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #169 on: May 26, 2013, 10:20:45 AM »
Comparing a physical science with a social science is a bad idea.

Why?  It's not the science that's the point, but the utter wrongness.  I suppose I could have used a comparison to Hitler's Master Race theories, but that would have violated Godwin's Law.  But you're certainly welcome to come up with better analogies if you like.

Because physical sciences are verifiable and based on empirical evidence...

We know Ptolemy is wrong because he made a claim "the earth is stationary and everything else moves around us" and we have since disproven it with stellar parallax and several other ways (if I'm not mistaken). Economists/Philosophers talk about a much wider range of issues and its much more difficult to declare them wrong. If you had to rank the "rightness" of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Keynes, and someone from the Austrian School what criteria would you even use? Would you crunch numbers?

Maybe I'm just easily confused...

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #170 on: May 26, 2013, 01:53:10 PM »
If you had to rank the "rightness" of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Keynes, and someone from the Austrian School what criteria would you even use? Would you crunch numbers?

Well, you could try the experimental method: run the economies of a number of nations according to those economists' theories, and observe whether they prosper or fail. 

Quote
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- G. Santayana

bayescraft

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #171 on: May 26, 2013, 03:04:15 PM »
I'm going to throw two ideas out there:

(1) There are too many honest-to-God Bad Things out there for something like this to show up on my radar.

(2) Humans shouldn't be forced to prove their value to continue surviving. Might cost us a lot to stop doing that (or not, I guess that's the disagreement?), but I'm okay with having worse knick-knacks. I can't force anybody to help, and since I am not Mr. Government, I hope people don't react to harshly to me abandoning that Malthusian tradition of ours.

I'm not sure if anyone finds these ideas compelling, but I do.

wepner

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #172 on: May 26, 2013, 08:29:28 PM »
If you had to rank the "rightness" of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Keynes, and someone from the Austrian School what criteria would you even use? Would you crunch numbers?

Well, you could try the experimental method: run the economies of a number of nations according to those economists' theories, and observe whether they prosper or fail. 

Quote
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
- G. Santayana

That's not a bad idea, but you would also have to somehow manage to determine how faithfully those countries adhered to the economic theories and probably try to take into account why they couldn't/ didn't. Does Adam Smith get credit for how prosperous the US has been over the past 50-60 years? because social security, minimum wage and the drastic increase of government regulation are all things that he didn't endorse.

Also feudalism did pretty well for a lot of people for a long time, how do you plan to compare the "prosperity" of Han China or the Byzantine Empire with that of Modern America or Japan? Does the Byzantine Empire get any extra points for lasting 1,000 years?

Seems like a much more subjective kind of study than deciding whether or not the Sun rotates around the earth or not.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #173 on: May 26, 2013, 10:03:00 PM »
That's not a bad idea, but you would also have to somehow manage to determine how faithfully those countries adhered to the economic theories...

I'd agree that the verdict is mixed on those other economists, but remember that we're looking at Marx.  Seems pretty darned clear from the experimental evidence that his theories are nothing but a load of crap.  Unfortunately, crap attracts flies...

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #174 on: May 28, 2013, 09:51:34 AM »
you would also have to somehow manage to determine how faithfully those countries adhered to the economic theories and probably try to take into account why they couldn't/ didn't...

James, what society are you claiming ever followed Marx's recommendations?

"[Marx's vision of society] would be a democratic society, enfranchising the entire population" "...there would also be little if any need for a state..."
Since that never happened, there has been no test of that side of his theories.
Just because a group states they are "communist" doesn't prove they are implementing what Marx called for.  Some may have implemented some (but never all) of the short term ideas - ones which were explicitly transitory, and meant specifically for those societies which were at the time monarchies or other dicatorships - but none followed through to the next step.

There has been reasonably close approximations of the capitalist system described in his theories: "there would also be little if any need for a state"  "Marx stressed that capitalism was unstable, and prone to periodic crises.[8] He suggested that over time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labour.[81] Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labour is the source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew.[173] Marx believed that increasingly severe crises would punctuate this cycle of growth, collapse, and more growth.[173] Moreover, he believed that in the long-term this process would necessarily enrich and empower the capitalist class and impoverish the proletariat."

Its a good idea generally to learn what you're talking about before coming to a strong opinion about it.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1422
  • Location: Metro Boston
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #175 on: May 28, 2013, 11:14:33 AM »
Just because a group states they are "communist" doesn't prove they are implementing what Marx called for.  Some may have implemented some (but never all) of the short term ideas - ones which were explicitly transitory, and meant specifically for those societies which were at the time monarchies or other dicatorships - but none followed through to the next step.

Sounds like capitalism is much more robust to imperfect implementation than communism.

tuyop

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 331
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #176 on: May 28, 2013, 11:19:38 AM »
Just because a group states they are "communist" doesn't prove they are implementing what Marx called for.  Some may have implemented some (but never all) of the short term ideas - ones which were explicitly transitory, and meant specifically for those societies which were at the time monarchies or other dicatorships - but none followed through to the next step.

Sounds like capitalism is much more robust to imperfect implementation than communism.

Pure capitalism is just as imaginary as pure communism.

velocistar237

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1422
  • Location: Metro Boston
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #177 on: May 28, 2013, 11:47:15 AM »
Pure capitalism is just as imaginary as pure communism.

I didn't say anything about pure capitalism. What use is it to consider the pure form when economies will never be pure?

Which one fails more gracefully? Which one retains its function better in the presence of corruption? I maintain that on average, capitalism performs better in its impure forms than does communism, which is what I mean by robust.

FrugalEE

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #178 on: May 28, 2013, 11:48:40 AM »
Late to the thread but I feel the need to correct a fallacy which has been repeated numerous times.  That fallacy is the idea that increases in technology lead to unemployment.  People have been saying the same thing for hundreds of years and have been consistently proven wrong.  I do not understand why this notion still persists today.

When Gutenberg invented the printing press thousands of scribes lost their jobs.  One person operating a printing press could do the work of hundreds of scribes.  The workers productivity increased 1000%.  Let's now compare the productivity of the scribe to a website operator.  The website operator can reach millions of people with lets say 1 millionth of a percent the effort of the 14th century scribe.  According to Bakari the proper way society should have dealt with this technological advancement would have been to allow the website operator to work for 14 seconds a week instead of 40 hours a week for the same pay as a scribe such that the productivity gains are shared between "laborer" and "capital owner".  This is obviously a ridiculous example but it is equally ridiculous to suggest the same thing over shorter time periods.

In 1862 90% of of Americans were farmers.  Today only 2% of Americans are farmers.  We should have 88% unemployment today!  This obviously is not true.  Peoples labor got diverted to areas where they could be more productive.  As a result we now have cars, roads, computers, the internet, etc.

Technology does not eliminate jobs or decrease the need for labor.  All it does is move it to areas where it can be more productively utilized.  I have heard numerous people say that "This time is different".  The same thing was said when sewing machines replaced hand stitching and cars replaced horses and buggies.  This time is not different.

As for the idea that increases in productivity do not benefit the worker this could not be any further from the truth.  Up until recent human history there was a huge number of subsistence farmers  People who worked endlessly their entire lives just so that they could feed themselves and their family.  Today you can eat a healthy diet on a dollar a day http://business.time.com/2010/04/02/how-to-eat-on-a-dollar-a-day-part-ii/.  This is only 50 hours of work at a minimum wage job to feed yourself for an entire year.  MMM lives a lavish life style which would put former Kings and Queens lives to shame and he only worked for 7 years!  This is only possible as a result of technological advances.  I'll leave with some writing by Fredrick Bastiat.  He can summarize this idea much better then I can.

Quote
Let its go back to the thirteenth century. The men who then practiced the art of copying received for the service they performed a remuneration determined by the average rate of wages. Among these copyists, there was one who sought and discovered the means of multiplying rapidly copies of the same work. He invented printing.32*

I.4.43
At first, one man became rich, while many others were being impoverished. However marvelous this discovery was, one might, at first sight, have hesitated to decide whether it was harmful or beneficial. Apparently it was introducing into the world, as I have said, an element of limitless inequality. Gutenberg profited by his invention and employed his profits to extend its use indefinitely, until he had ruined all the copyists. As for the public, the consumers, they gained little, for Gutenberg was careful to lower the price of his books only just enough to undersell his rivals.

I.4.44
But God had the wisdom to introduce harmony not only into the movement of the spheres but also into the internal machinery of society. Hence, the economic advantages of this invention did not remain the exclusive possession of one individual, but instead became for all eternity the common inheritance of all mankind.

I.4.45
In time, the process became known. Gutenberg was no longer the only printer; others imitated him. Their profits at first were considerable. They were compensated very well for being in the vanguard of the imitators, and this extra compensation was necessary to attract them and to induce them to contribute to the great, approaching, final result. They earned a great deal, but they earned less than the inventor, for competition was beginning to operate. The price of books kept falling lower and lower, and the profits of imitators kept diminishing as the invention became less novel, that is, as imitation became less deserving of especial reward. Soon the new industry reached its normal state: the remuneration of printers no longer was exceptionally large, and, like that of scribes in earlier days, it was determined only by the average rate of wages. Thus, production itself became once more the measure of compensation. Yet the invention nonetheless constituted an advance; the saving of time, of labor, of effort to produce a given result, for a fixed number of copies, had nonetheless been realized. But how was this saving manifested? In the cheapness of books. And to whose profit? To the profit of the consumer, of society, of mankind. Printers, who henceforth had no exceptional merit, no longer received an exceptional remuneration. As men, as consumers, they doubtless shared in the advantages that the invention had conferred upon the community. But that was all. In so far as they were printers, in so far as they were producers, they had returned to the conditions that were customary for all the producers to the country. Society paid them for their labor, and not for the usefulness of the invention. That had become the common and freely available heritage of all mankind.

I.4.46
I confess that the wisdom and the beauty of these laws evoke my admiration and respect. In them I see Saint-Simonianism: To each according to his capacity; to each capacity according to its production.33* In them I see communism, that is to say, the tendency of goods to become the common heritage of men; but a Saint-Simonianism, a communism, regulated by infinite foresight, and in no way abandoned to the frailty, the passions, and the tyranny of men.

I.4.47
What I have said of printing can be said of all the tools of production, from the nail and the hammer to the locomotive and the electric telegraph. Society possesses all of them in having an abundance of consumers' goods; and it possesses them as gratuitous gifts, since their effect is to reduce the price of commodities; and all that part of the price that has been eliminated as a result of the contribution of inventions to production clearly makes the product to that extent free of charge. All that remains to be paid for is current human labor; and it is paid without regard to the result of the invention, at any rate when the invention has gone through the inevitable cycle that I have just described. We may take the saw as an example. I summon a workman to my house, he comes with a saw, I pay him two francs a day, and he makes twenty-five boards for me. If the saw had not been invented, he would perhaps not have finished one board; yet I would have paid him no less for the day. The utility produced by the saw is thus a gratuitous gift I receive from Nature, or rather, it is a portion of the inheritance that I have received, in common with my fellow men, from the wisdom of our ancestors. The same is true of agricultural implements. I have two workmen in my field. One works with a plow, the other with a spade. The results of their work are quite different, but their daily wage is the same; for the remuneration is proportionate, not to the utility produced, but to the effort, the labor, demanded.

I.4.48
I entreat the reader's patience and beg him to believe that I have not lost sight of free trade. I hope he will be good enough to remember the conclusion I have reached: Remuneration is proportionate, not to the utility that the producer offers on the market, but to his labor.34*

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #179 on: May 28, 2013, 11:53:35 AM »
James, what society are you claiming ever followed Marx's recommendations?

The Soviet Union, all of the Eastern Bloc nations, China, Vietnam, etc.

Quote
"[Marx's vision of society] would be a democratic society, enfranchising the entire population" "...there would also be little if any need for a state..."
Since that never happened, there has been no test of that side of his theories.

On the contrary, his theories were disproved in part precisely because the Marxist regimes did not produce that sort of society, as they should have done if his theories had been correct.

Quote
Marx stressed that capitalism was unstable, and prone to periodic crises.

Which is precisely why it is stable in the long term - the "crises" are what makes it work.  Chaos theory, basically: it's a dynamic system rather than a static one.

Quote
Its a good idea generally to learn what you're talking about before coming to a strong opinion about it.

Also to practice what one preaches :-)

tuyop

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 331
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #180 on: May 28, 2013, 12:02:41 PM »
Pure capitalism is just as imaginary as pure communism.

I didn't say anything about pure capitalism. What use is it to consider the pure form when economies will never be pure?

Which one fails more gracefully? Which one retains its function better in the presence of corruption? I maintain that on average, capitalism performs better in its impure forms than does communism, which is what I mean by robust.

Again, it's a matter of definition. What we have is not "capitalism" any more than the soviet system was "communism" or "socialism", if you will.

Instead, the "capitalism" that you say fails gracefully is in fact a weird patchwork system that incorporates parts of many different systems that do not appear to be complimentary. It's incorrect to say that our current system is "capitalism" unless you mean a very loose form of capitalism, which would require more adjectives or explanation.

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #181 on: May 28, 2013, 12:05:03 PM »
Late to the thread but I feel the need to correct a fallacy which has been repeated numerous times.  That fallacy is the idea that increases in technology lead to unemployment.  People have been saying the same thing for hundreds of years and have been consistently proven wrong.

www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/mustachianism-around-the-web/what-if-'retirement'-was-no-longer-a-choice/

The effect was initially muted by the introduction of the 40 hour work week. 
It has been continued to be hidden by constant growth.  That is why our economy has always been dependent on growth, why we have used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets so many times throughout history. 
The effect is hidden behind a consumer economy in which no amount can ever be enough.
But access to new markets and inflated consumer demand are not infinitely sustainable. 

Quote
As for the idea that increases in productivity do not benefit the worker this could not be any further from the truth.  Up until recent human history there was a huge number of subsistence farmers  People who worked endlessly their entire lives just so that they could feed themselves and their family.  Today you can eat a healthy diet on a dollar a day http://business.time.com/2010/04/02/how-to-eat-on-a-dollar-a-day-part-ii/.  This is only 50 hours of work at a minimum wage job to feed yourself for an entire year.  MMM lives a lavish life style which would put former Kings and Queens lives to shame and he only worked for 7 years!  This is only possible as a result of technological advances.

Exactly.  Technological advances.  That is an entirely independent question from societies economic organization.  I pointed out (with the graphs above) that over the last 40 years or so additional productivity has not benefited the working class.  The fact that they can buy a smart phone is due to computing power being cheaper, not due to them being paid more as productivity increased.

FrugalEE

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #182 on: May 28, 2013, 12:53:55 PM »
Quote
Exactly.  Technological advances.  That is an entirely independent question from societies economic organization.  I pointed out (with the graphs above) that over the last 40 years or so additional productivity has not benefited the working class.  The fact that they can buy a smart phone is due to computing power being cheaper, not due to them being paid more as productivity increased.

Your graph didn't point out anything of the sort.  I could post a graph of productivity per worker going back 4000 years and it would be even more dramatic then the graph you posted.  Despite that fact everyone's standard of living has increased.  The additional productivity per worker leads to less expensive products which benefits the "laborer".  You point this out yourself with the smart phone example.  200 years ago a worker got paid to build an abacus and could afford an abacus.  50 years ago a worker got paid to build a calculator and could afford a calculator.  Today a worker gets paid to build a smart phone and can afford a smart phone.  The worker might not be getting paid more but now instead of an abacus he has a super computer in his pocket.  Who cares how much you get paid if your standard of living increases.

According to you workers should be paid more because they are now more productive.  Worker A's job is to push a button which in turn makes an abacus.  Worker B's job is to push a button which in turn makes a calculator.  Worker C's job is to push a button which in turn makes a smart phone.  If I understand you correctly the worker who pushes the button to make the smart phone should be making millions of times more then the one pushing a button to make an abacus.  Is that what you believe?

Quote
Handouts can keep the situation stable for a while, but it doesn't address the underlying issue. The systemic issue with the job market is only going to get worse.

Technology has eliminated the need for so many jobs and will continue eliminating others. The need for thousands of music stores, book stores, post offices, bank branches, mom & pop shops, video rental stores and car dealerships is vanishing thanks to email, the internet and eCommerce like Amazon and iTunes. i'm imagining a point where most of America outside of large cities will have nearly no infrastructure beyond local restaurants and grocery stores (not even gas stations when electric cars catch on). Employment will basically fall mostly to low level service workers who have to be in the physical area and those who control capital and own these businesses, with nearly nothing in between.

To the above quote you responded "exactly".  The entire point of my original post was to show you that this is not true.  You didn't address that.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #183 on: May 28, 2013, 02:57:56 PM »
...why we have used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets so many times throughout history.

Fact check here.  I assume by "we" you mean the USA?  Then when has the US ever used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets?  Indeed, I think you'd have a pretty hard time finding instances where access to new markets was even a significant side effect.

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #184 on: May 28, 2013, 04:30:19 PM »
James, what society are you claiming ever followed Marx's recommendations?

The Soviet Union, all of the Eastern Bloc nations, China, Vietnam, etc.

They weren't founded on Marxism, which later became corrupted.  They were never examples of Marxism to begin with.  Marx didn't lead the initial revolution, Lenin did, and Lenin explicitly disagreed with Marx:
http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1990s/1990/no-1027-march-1990/marxism-versus-leninism

Quote
Quote
"[Marx's vision of society] would be a democratic society, enfranchising the entire population" "...there would also be little if any need for a state..."
Since that never happened, there has been no test of that side of his theories.

On the contrary, his theories were disproved in part precisely because the Marxist regimes did not produce that sort of society, as they should have done if his theories had been correct.

Even if we ignore that our only examples of communist countries were totalitarian regimes which were not actually made up of the collective working class (i.e. not Marxist regimes), saying that one specific prediction - one which was never central to the overall ideas - failed to come to fruition invalidates everything he ever said would be like saying that because Einstein got it completely wrong on quantum mechanics then special and general relativity must also be crap, and mass does not actually equal energy times the speed of light squared.

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #185 on: May 28, 2013, 04:57:53 PM »
Quote
Exactly.  Technological advances.  That is an entirely independent question from societies economic organization.  I pointed out (with the graphs above) that over the last 40 years or so additional productivity has not benefited the working class.  The fact that they can buy a smart phone is due to computing power being cheaper, not due to them being paid more as productivity increased.

Your graph didn't point out anything of the sort.  I could post a graph of productivity per worker going back 4000 years and it would be even more dramatic then the graph you posted.  Despite that fact everyone's standard of living has increased.
That graph had two lines - one for productivity, the other for inflation adjusted income.  If you went back 4000 years the line for inflation adjusted income would have increased.

Quote
The additional productivity per worker leads to less expensive products which benefits the "laborer".  You point this out yourself with the smart phone example.  200 years ago a worker got paid to build an abacus and could afford an abacus.  50 years ago a worker got paid to build a calculator and could afford a calculator.  Today a worker gets paid to build a smart phone and can afford a smart phone.  The worker might not be getting paid more but now instead of an abacus he has a super computer in his pocket.  Who cares how much you get paid if your standard of living increases?
As I said, technology raises everyone, but technology is not dependent on capitalism (though, granted, it often accelerates it).  Having a super computer in your pocket reflects increases in technology.  But that doesn't automatically imply an improved standard of living.  Semi-conductors and gene sequencing haven't made buying a home cheaper.  A super computer in your pocket is a cool thing to have, but it doesn't affect quality of life the same way land, or income security, or access to healthcare do.  The price of food and transportation and heating hasn't dropped proportionately with increases in technology.  A smart phone doesn't give you more time to spend at home with your family.   
Over the past 4000 years median standard of living has increased.  Over the past 40 it hasn't






Quote
According to you workers should be paid more because they are now more productive.  Worker A's job is to push a button which in turn makes an abacus.  Worker B's job is to push a button which in turn makes a calculator.  Worker C's job is to push a button which in turn makes a smart phone.  If I understand you correctly the worker who pushes the button to make the smart phone should be making millions of times more then the one pushing a button to make an abacus.  Is that what you believe?

Absolutely!  If technology increases the total pool of wealth, the benefit to society should be distributed.
What is the alternative?

Investor A buys a machine that makes an abacus and a worker to operate it.
Investor B buys a machine that makes a calculator and a worker to operate it.
Investor C buys a machine that makes a smartphone and a worker to operate it.
All 3 put in similar amounts of (inflation adjusted) capital, and all 3 took on similar levels of risk.
The investor did not personally invent semi-conductors, or wi-fi, or any of the other technology that makes smartphones.
Investor C is entitled to millions of times more than Investor A, while Worker C stays at the same (inflation adjusted) income level as Worker A?
How is that a more fair or just or reasonable outcome?

This is the difference between me and communists: I believe that inequality due to differences in talent or work ethic are totally acceptable.  If person A works harder than person B, they should be rewarded with more wealth.  However, increases in wealth that NOBODY actually earned, such as those that come from technology, or from previously undiscovered natural resources, no one has any moral claim to deserve to keep that wealth for themselves.



Quote
To the above quote you responded "exactly".  The entire point of my original post was to show you that this is not true.  You didn't address that.

?

www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/mustachianism-around-the-web/what-if-'retirement'-was-no-longer-a-choice/

The effect [of technology induced unemployment] was initially muted by the introduction of the 40 hour work week
[The effect of technology induced unemployment]  has been continued to be hidden by constant growth [of the American economy].  That is why our economy has always been dependent on growth, [as well as] why we have used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets so many times throughout history. 
The effect [of technology induced unemployment]  is hidden behind a consumer economy in which no amount can ever be enough.
But access to new markets and inflated consumer demand are not infinitely sustainable. 

Bakari

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1799
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Oakland, CA
  • Veggie Powered Handyman
    • The Flamboyant Introvert
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #186 on: May 28, 2013, 05:26:23 PM »
...why we have used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets so many times throughout history.

Fact check here.  I assume by "we" you mean the USA?  Then when has the US ever used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets?  Indeed, I think you'd have a pretty hard time finding instances where access to new markets was even a significant side effect.

1853, Commodore Perry brought 4 warships into Japan for the explicit purpose of forcing the Japaneses government to allow trade with the US.

Several years before his election to the presidency, William McKinley said: "We want a foreign market for our surplus products." Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana in early 1897 declared: "American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume. Fate has written our policy for us; the trade of the world must and shall be ours." The Department of State explained in 1898:

It seems to be conceded that every year we shall be confronted with an increasing surplus of manufactured goods for sale in foreign markets if American operatives and artisans are to be kept employed the year around. The enlargement of foreign consumption of the products of our mills and workshops has, therefore, become a serious problem of statesmanship as well as of commerce.

Our interests in intervening in the Cuban revolution (Spanish/American war) and the Philippians (which we "won" in that war, but then they revolted against us) were primarily, if not exclusively commercial

"It is reasonably estimated that at least from $30,000,000 to $50,000,000 of American capital are invested in the plantations and in railroad, mining, and other business enterprises on the island. The volume of trade between the United States and Cuba, which in 1889 amounted to about $64,000,000, rose in 1893 to about $103,000,000." - President Grover Cleveland

"Mr. President, the times call for candor. The Philippines are ours forever. . . . And just beyond the Philippines are China's illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. . . . We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world. . . .
The Pacific is our ocean. . . . Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer. . . . The Philippines give us a base at the door of all the East. . . ."
- Senator Albert Beveridge

A State Department list, "Instances of the Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad 1798-1945":
1852-53 -- Argentina -- Marines were landed and maintained in Buenos Aires to protect American interests during a revolution.
1853 -- Nicaragua -- to protect American lives and interests during political disturbances.
1853-54 -- Japan -- The "Opening of Japan" and the Perry Expedition. [The State Department does not give more details, but this involved the use of warships to force Japan to open its ports to the United States]
1853-54 -- Ryukyu and Bonin Islands -- Commodore Perry on three visits before going to Japan and while waiting for a reply from Japan made a naval demonstration, landing marines twice, and secured a coaling concession from the ruler of Naha on Okinawa. He also demonstrated in the Bonin Islands. All to secure facilities for commerce.
1855 -- Uruguay -- U.S. and European naval forces landed to protect American interests during an attempted revolution in Montevideo.
1859 -- China -- For the protection of American interests in Shanghai.
1893 -- Hawaii -- Ostensibly to protect American lives and property; actually to promote a provisional government under Sanford B. Dole This action was disavowed by the United States.
1894 -- Nicaragua -- To protect American interests at Bluefields following a revolution.

"American Interests" generally means commerce, either US companies that are extracting natural resources, or else markets for American goods.
Perhaps I overreached with the absolute term "sole", but access to new markets was more than just a "side'effect", it was at times the explicit primary purpose.

wepner

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Yokohama, Japan
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #187 on: May 28, 2013, 07:03:21 PM »
Your graph didn't point out anything of the sort.  I could post a graph of productivity per worker going back 4000 years and it would be even more dramatic then the graph you posted.  Despite that fact everyone's standard of living has increased.  The additional productivity per worker leads to less expensive products which benefits the "laborer".  You point this out yourself with the smart phone example.  200 years ago a worker got paid to build an abacus and could afford an abacus.  50 years ago a worker got paid to build a calculator and could afford a calculator.  Today a worker gets paid to build a smart phone and can afford a smart phone.  The worker might not be getting paid more but now instead of an abacus he has a super computer in his pocket.  Who cares how much you get paid if your standard of living increases.

People that make smartphones can't afford to buy smartphones...

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #188 on: May 28, 2013, 07:23:11 PM »
...why we have used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets so many times throughout history.

Fact check here.  I assume by "we" you mean the USA?  Then when has the US ever used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets?  Indeed, I think you'd have a pretty hard time finding instances where access to new markets was even a significant side effect.

1853, Commodore Perry brought 4 warships into Japan for the explicit purpose of forcing the Japaneses government to allow trade with the US.

Sole purpose?  Lots of other purposes there, and arguably providing transport & protection doesn't really constitute use of military force.

Quote
Our interests in intervening in the Cuban revolution (Spanish/American war) and the Philippians (which we "won" in that war, but then they revolted against us) were primarily, if not exclusively commercial

Even if the interests were purely commercial (many would disagree), they were not new markets.  Trade had existed long before, as the statements you've quoted demonstrates.

Quote
Perhaps I overreached with the absolute term "sole", but access to new markets was more than just a "side'effect", it was at times the explicit primary purpose.

Except that in every case you've cited, with the exception of Perry in Japan, the markets were not new.  There were existing trade relationships, investments, and so on which the US government is arguably bound to protect.


People that make smartphones can't afford to buy smartphones...

Just as the people who built the Pyramids weren't buried in them.  Or consider that the people who build Boeing 747s can't afford to buy one.  But many of them can afford to ride in one, just as many of the people who build smartphones can afford a dumb phone...

swiper

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 254
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Ottawa (Gatineau)
  • swiping ottawa
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #189 on: May 28, 2013, 08:10:30 PM »
...why we have used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets so many times throughout history.

Fact check here.  I assume by "we" you mean the USA?  Then when has the US ever used military power for the sole purpose of access to new markets?  Indeed, I think you'd have a pretty hard time finding instances where access to new markets was even a significant side effect.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 08:12:42 PM by swiper »

nktokyo

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 370
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #190 on: May 29, 2013, 04:33:22 AM »
People that make smartphones can't afford to buy smartphones...

Yet

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #191 on: May 29, 2013, 12:03:55 PM »
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/living-off-of-other-people's-work/?action=dlattach;attach=1193;image

Sorry, but no.  Even if you accept the claim that it was all about oil, it was hardly a new market.  And that claim itself is something that could only be made by those who are either completely ignorant of Islam's 14 centuries of war against the Dar al-Harb, or who understand history but hope to fool the gullible.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 17400
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #192 on: May 29, 2013, 01:53:04 PM »
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/antimustachian-wall-of-shame-and-comedy/living-off-of-other-people's-work/?action=dlattach;attach=1193;image

Sorry, but no.  Even if you accept the claim that it was all about oil, it was hardly a new market.  And that claim itself is something that could only be made by those who are either completely ignorant of Islam's 14 centuries of war against the Dar al-Harb, or who understand history but hope to fool the gullible.

So, your contention is that the main thrust of the Iraq war had predominantly religious motivation?

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9443
  • Registered member
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #193 on: May 29, 2013, 02:09:22 PM »
I haven't read the entire thread (seems like too many tangents) but yes I plan to live off of a combination of my own past work and the compensated work of others.  Because I am not investing in slave labor, I see no moral issues with earning a profit off my employees.  If participation in the global economy is immoral (maybe it is?) then the only solution would be hermitville, population: you

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #194 on: May 29, 2013, 06:06:12 PM »
So, your contention is that the main thrust of the Iraq war had predominantly religious motivation?

Yes, in that it was a defense* against attacks which were motivated by religion.

*However incompetently it was conducted by the Idiot-in-Chief of the time, but that's a tangent I don't think we need to go down.

Luck better Skill

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 283
  • Location: Virginia
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #195 on: May 29, 2013, 06:38:29 PM »
To answer Zeb's Question?  Yes you can loan capital at interest and be moral.  I feel you need the following:

1.  The parties are not forced into the deal.  Not a tenant farmer or coal miner in hock to the company store.  If parties are free to walk away then both should benefit from the agreement.
2.  There is no barriers to entry thus competition.  This allows people to shop for best deals.

  I am sure there are some more guidelines you would feel comfortable with.




GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 17400
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #196 on: May 30, 2013, 01:14:46 PM »
So, your contention is that the main thrust of the Iraq war had predominantly religious motivation?

Yes, in that it was a defense* against attacks which were motivated by religion.

*However incompetently it was conducted by the Idiot-in-Chief of the time, but that's a tangent I don't think we need to go down.


Assuming that I agree with your idea of Islam being in a holy war against the western world (I don't).  Why would Iraq have been picked when Iran is so much more anti-west than Iraq ever was?

nktokyo

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 370
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #197 on: May 30, 2013, 06:08:01 PM »
I haven't read the entire thread (seems like too many tangents) but yes I plan to live off of a combination of my own past work and the compensated work of others.  Because I am not investing in slave labor, I see no moral issues with earning a profit off my employees.  If participation in the global economy is immoral (maybe it is?) then the only solution would be hermitville, population: you

+1

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #198 on: May 30, 2013, 10:28:38 PM »
Why would Iraq have been picked when Iran is so much more anti-west than Iraq ever was?

See above comment re Idiot-In-Chief :-)

I will mention, though, that you seem to have fallen into the common trap of thinking that everyone must see the world in terms of the Western nation-state paradigm.  And worse, that the straight-line-in-the-sand borders imposed by the West really mean much of anything to the locals.

tuyop

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 331
Re: Living off of other people's work
« Reply #199 on: May 31, 2013, 03:31:24 AM »
I haven't read the entire thread (seems like too many tangents) but yes I plan to live off of a combination of my own past work and the compensated work of others.  Because I am not investing in slave labor, I see no moral issues with earning a profit off my employees.  If participation in the global economy is immoral (maybe it is?) then the only solution would be hermitville, population: you

+1

Yeah no, nice false dichotomy.