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"Occupy Wall Street" Movement

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Update from Dayton:

 

Camping on Courhouse Square May Be Banned

 

DAYTON — Proposed regulations would prohibit Occupy Dayton activists and anyone else from camping overnight on Courthouse Square.

 

The Montgomery County Commission will consider adopting the new regulations. If approved, the new rules would immediately limit public use of the outdoor facility at Third and Main streets downtown from 6 a.m. to midnight. Use of the square for lodging or as a sleeping place would be prohibited.

 

The backgrounder is that Occupy Dayton was requested to temporarily vacate Courthouse Square to make way for this big Christmas Tree lighting they have every year.  There was debate on this, and the Occupiers decided to relocate to nearby Dave Hall Plaza (which is more of a parklike space), where they are now.

 

So, now that they are off the square the County administration introduceds these new regulations to prohibit camping.  The article says the county administration wants to also regulate signs being used, but apparently this was a misprint (per county spokespeople) and they are backing off from regulating protest signs.

 

This is a good illustration of what a  bunch of pussies Dayton...or more accuratley, Montgomery County, politicians are.  They lay low, the Occupiers make a good faith effort by vacating their camping place for a community event, and now the County comes back and introduces this ripper bill directed at Occupy Dayton. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Looks like the County has backed-off a bit.  But the city essentially gave them an "eviction notice"

 

County tables plan to end Occupy Dayton camp

 

Earlier, representatives of the city of Dayton and Montgomery County hand-delivered notices to Occupy Dayton activists informing them that camping would no longer be permitted at Courthouse Square or Dave Hall Plaza.

 

“Basically, we got eviction notices to vacate the property from the county and the city,” Johnathon Gallienne, an Occupy Dayton media committee member said. “They’re telling us if we don’t move, there will be consequences.”

 

 

 

 

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Kai Ryssdal: Regardless of how or where the Occupying is being done, the protests have launched important conversations in this country about the wealth gap. We've been riffing on that this week and asking our commentators: If the 1% had less, would the 99% be bettter off?

 

Here's P.J. O'Rourke.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

P.J. O'Rourke: The "Occupy This, That and the Other Place" people are right about the sins of the financial system and right about the evil of government supporting and subsidizing this malfeasance. It's not fair that 1 percent of Americans are rolling in dough while the rest of us are scrimping to pay for our Internet connection so we can go on Groupon.

 

But the Occupiers are wrong about something much more important. They believe in the Zero Sum Fallacy -- the idea that there is a fixed amount of the good things in life. Anything I get, I'm taking from you. If I have too many slices of pizza, you have to eat the Dominos box. The Zero Sum Fallacy is a bad idea -- dangerous to economics, politics, and world peace. It means any time we want good things we have to fight with each other to get them. We don't. We can make more good things. We can make more pizza -- or more tofu, windmills and solar panels, if you like.

 

The Zero Sum Fallacy is just that, a fallacy. Economic history since the Industrial Revolution proves -- be the rich however stinking rich -- we ordinary people can make more of the good things in life. But we have to make them ourselves, with our knowledge, skills and hard work. Government can't give us good things. Government doesn't make things, it just redistributes them. This brings us back to fighting with each other.

 

The good things in life are remarkably expandable, but it's ordinary people who expand them. Look at China, look at India. Yes, it's upsetting that some people have so much while other people have so little. It isn't fair. But I accept this unfairness. Indeed, I treasure it. That's because I have a 13-year-old daughter And that's all I hear, "That's not fair," she says. "That's not fair! That's not fair!" And one day I snapped, and I said, "Honey, you're cute, that's not fair. Your family is pretty well off, that's not fair. You were born in America, that's not fair. Darling, you had better get down on your knees and pray that things don't start getting fair for you."

 

 

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/commentary/orourke-if-1-had-less-would-99-be-better

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...

Here's P.J. O'Rourke.... They believe in the Zero Sum Fallacy -- the idea that there is a fixed amount of the good things in life. Anything I get, I'm taking from you. ...

Well, no, that is not what they believe.

O'rourke isn't funny.  His material at National Lampoon was lame.

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They believe in the Zero Sum Fallacy -- the idea that there is a fixed amount of the good things in life. Anything I get, I'm taking from you.

 

Well, no, that is not what they believe.

 

O'Rourke apparently believes in the putting-words-in-somebody's-mouth fallacy. This movement isn't about spreading around a fixed amount of money. It's about keeping those with the most money from also having all the power. It's about them robbing the rest of us of opportunity to get ahead.

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I am still somewhat active in Occupy Dayton.

 

This evening I participate in a small march throught the Oregon district, brining along a small bohdran (I think) that my late partner had bought as a knick-knack.  I had it in storage and unboxed it as these Occupy things have music and drumming involved....so i figure Id join in.  Also, the nostalgic memory of Rent played a part..Angel and Collins, and Angel being the drummer.  Johnny was like Angel and I was sort of like Collins....the way we saw ourselves in "Rent", characters we could relate to.

 

 

Anyway, the march.  All told there was 8 or 9 of us walking the Oregon chanting...i lent the drum to one of the campers who led the chants.  We also had a tambourine.  We walked down 5th Street, the main drag of The Oregon.

 

So, following us on the other side of the street was "Adam", known to the other Occupiers.  I asked who he was & it turns out he was a conservative "stalker" (who was also responsible for spamming their FB page).  So he follows us on the opposite side of 5th.

 

Eventually 4 cop cars pull up and the cops warn us...say a complaint was called in about us being loud and disturbing the peace.  Since there was few folks about in the Oregon suspicion naturally turned to "Adam".  One of the leaders confronted him when we crossed 5th. 

 

Then, the cops pulled up to us again...actually twice, once in and once again outside the Orgeon, and they talked with some of the people in our group, asking if "Adam" has been harrassing or following us.  Apparently he was the one who called in the complaint, and ALSO was packing...the cops told us he had a concealed carry permit.  I also notice he had some expensive digital SLR camera gear, too.  I guess to take pix of us. 

 

So we do do our march, but less loud on the return trip down 5th.  Adam sort of disappeared after the police talked to us the second time.

 

But interesting to see how the right is pushing back against OD.  They have pretty much freeped the FB site (there is some sort of "members only" site the ODers have set up to work-around the FB harrassment...that I dont have access too since Im not really a member), and apparently have this one guy harrassing OD in real-time. 

 

On the camping side...seems the lawyer OD has has been negotiating with the city and county and there should be some results of this known Monday. 

 

Also some talk about doing an action on the 6th re the foreclosure/eviction issue. 

 

 

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freeped

 

Has this verb made the dictionary yet?  :)

 

I've participated in an actual "Freep" or few, but as I've told my fellow posters, the verb should probably be "brownsfanned" because we were doing it between '95 and '98 a lot and FR started in very late 1997.

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They are doing this in Dayton, doing some actions re the foreclosure crisis, today.

 

No place like home: "Occupy Wall Street" targets foreclosures

 

(MoneyWatch)  COMMENTARY Occupy Wall Street is going house-hunting. A spinoff of the protest movement, Occupy Our Homes, is launching a campaign Tuesday to help people facing foreclosure fight eviction.

 

The "national day of action," which will involve rallies in more than 20 cities nationwide, builds on existing grass-roots efforts around the U.S. to prevent banks from seizing homes and to draw attention to the millions of homeowners at risk of losing their properties....

 

...."Occupiers" in California, Georgia, Ohio and elsewhere have had some success temporarily blocking foreclosures or re-taking seized homes. On occasion, they've even gotten help from local law enforcement authorities, such as the sheriff's deputies and movers who last month refused to kick a 103-year-old Atlanta woman and her daughter out of their home.

 

...the Ohio reference above would be to Occupy Cleveland.  Dayton occupiers are going to be doing some ralleys, but as far as I know no actual blocking of evictions or foreclosures.

 

Also, our local free weekly has a story on Occupy Dayton:

 

Occupy Black Friday

 

Belief is a funny thing, and it can often make people behave in noble, albeit misunderstood ways.  Some say the true measure of belief is how much one is willing to suffer for it.  And as the grey shadow of winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, the members of the worldwide Occupy Movement are beginning to know what it feels like to suffer for their beliefs...

 

 

 

 

 

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From HuffPo, the Occupy Movement and the Foreclosure Crisis:

 

'Occupy Our Homes' Protesters Highlight Foreclosures Nationwide

 

Bobby Hull is scheduled to be evicted from his Minneapolis house in February, but he won't leave without a fuss. He's invited 100 people from the local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement on Tuesday to protest his foreclosure....

 

Minnesota has been one of the forerunners of a local OWS movement networking with people fighting eviction. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cleveland City Council passes resoultion supporting Occupy

 

Tonight, by a vote of 18-1, Cleveland City Council expressed its support of the Occupy movement.

 

Councilman Brian Cummins, who is a Green Party member, has been an active participant in Cleveland's Occupy group and played a key role in shepherding resolution Np. 1720-11.

 

...there's a Green Party person on the Cleveland council and he is participant in Occupy?  Really?

 

Y'all are like another state up there in NE Ohio.

 

 

 

 

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Your last link (to the Cleveland council resolution in support of the Occupy movement) is broken, I think.

 

As for occupying homes and resisting foreclosures, even when the homeowner hasn't paid his mortgage in more than a year (sometimes multiple years), what do you think the bank's options should be?  Why not just let everyone nationwide stop paying their mortgages with no risk of legal consequences?  Maybe we should also let them out of paying property taxes to fund the schools, fire, and police that serve that home as well?

 

I'm well aware that there is a glut of housing inventory overall as well as a glut of distressed housing, whether in default, actually scheduled for auction, or REO.  Indeed, many banks really are slowing their pace of foreclosures and allowing defaults to persist for significant durations before taking action--which is itself slower than it used to be because of the number of foreclosures that the courts need to deal with.  That does not, however, mean that it would be better for society if a large group of deadbeat borrowers were given either official immunity or practical immunity for their delinquencies.  What message does that send to the next group of borrowers--the ones who are successfully making their payments, even though doing so strains them financially?

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Your last link (to the Cleveland council resolution in support of the Occupy movement) is broken, I think.

 

As for occupying homes and resisting foreclosures, even when the homeowner hasn't paid his mortgage in more than a year (sometimes multiple years), what do you think the bank's options should be?  Why not just let everyone nationwide stop paying their mortgages with no risk of legal consequences?  Maybe we should also let them out of paying property taxes to fund the schools, fire, and police that serve that home as well?

 

I'm well aware that there is a glut of housing inventory overall as well as a glut of distressed housing, whether in default, actually scheduled for auction, or REO.  Indeed, many banks really are slowing their pace of foreclosures and allowing defaults to persist for significant durations before taking action--which is itself slower than it used to be because of the number of foreclosures that the courts need to deal with.  That does not, however, mean that it would be better for society if a large group of deadbeat borrowers were given either official immunity or practical immunity for their delinquencies.  What message does that send to the next group of borrowers--the ones who are successfully making their payments, even though doing so strains them financially?

 

Or for that matter, banks. 

 

I'm reminded of the story in "Time Enough For Love" when the politicians bowed to the demands of the debtor-voters, and Lazarus Long simply shut down the bank, leaving the government holding the bag and pondering how easy it is to tell someone how to do something when you don't have to do it.

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Right, we live in the best of all possible worlds, this winner-take-all society, for those groupies of the 1%, the conservatives.  OK, not the best, perhaps, because we could use even more deregulation, even more inequality, even more reductions in revenue...more of the same that we've seen over the past 30 years or so.  We just havn't went far enough.

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Right, we live in the best of all possible worlds, this winner-take-all society, for those groupies of the 1%, the conservatives.  OK, not the best, perhaps, because we could use even more deregulation, even more inequality, even more reductions in revenue...more of the same that we've seen over the past 30 years or so.  We just havn't went far enough.

 

We live in a free society, where the laws of economics are almost as immutable as the laws of physics.  Pass laws that go against them, and you will get all sorts of unintended consequences.  No regulation probably won't work, but simple legislation is a lot like wishing....it won't make it so.

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Right, we live in the best of all possible worlds, this winner-take-all society, for those groupies of the 1%, the conservatives.  OK, not the best, perhaps, because we could use even more deregulation, even more inequality, even more reductions in revenue...more of the same that we've seen over the past 30 years or so.  We just havn't went far enough.

 

There are a huge number of fundamentally flawed premises behind this post, and they largely epitomize the intellectual blinders of the left.

 

We are not a winner-take-all society.  The CEO of Wal-Mart may make a tidy fortune each year, but that's after distributing billions to employees as paychecks and billions to shareholders as dividends.  If that's a winner-take-all system, it's a system with a lot of winners.  Of course, actually, that's part of the point: the free market is a positive-sum system, meaning that both sides of a voluntary trade are presumptively better off than they were before.  In addition, in the public sector, the primary driver of our inordinate national debt and deficit is the fact that we are too reticent to let winners and losers sort themselves out, and thus we feel the need for enormous, recurring intergenerational and inter-class wealth transfers.

 

The 1% should hardly be presumed to be conservatives; there are plenty of liberal billionaires and multi-millionaires.

 

As for deregulation: "Deregulation," like "regulation," is an enormous umbrella.  The Code of Federal Regulations is enormous, even without adding the text of the various agency decisions interpreting and applying their own regulations.  That's not even counting state and local regulations.  Therefore, almost everyone is in favor of some regulations and not in favor of others, so more specificity is needed.  However, even without getting into specifics, you're also starting from the flawed assumption that regulation is going to help reduce inequality.  That is hardly a given.  Many regulations increase inequality, while at the same time making society collectively poorer.

 

There are many regulations that I'd support.  There are even more that I would oppose and/or repeal.

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As for deregulation: "Deregulation," like "regulation," is an enormous umbrella.  The Code of Federal Regulations is enormous, even without adding the text of the various agency decisions interpreting and applying their own regulations.  That's not even counting state and local regulations.  Therefore, almost everyone is in favor of some regulations and not in favor of others, so more specificity is needed.  However, even without getting into specifics, you're also starting from the flawed assumption that regulation is going to help reduce inequality.  That is hardly a given.  Many regulations increase inequality, while at the same time making society collectively poorer.

 

Ayn Rand may have "illustrated absurdity by being absurd" decades before Rush and taken her doctrines far past reasonable, but Francisco D'Anconia hit the nail on the head when he referred to anti-capitalist regulation as creating an "aristocracy of pull".

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We live in a free society, where the laws of economics are almost as immutable as the laws of physics.  Pass laws that go against them, and you will get all sorts of unintended consequences.  No regulation probably won't work, but simple legislation is a lot like wishing....it won't make it so.

 

Come on.  The laws of economics are based on assumptions which never hold true.  To use them as the basis for reality would be like not taking into account friction in physics, assuming that light is always travelling through a vacuum, or that there is no air/wind resistance.  They are also far more complex because they rely on human behavior, which can be unpredictable, unlike the laws of physics.

 

That is why there's no agreement on what the best course to take is.  Pure Capitalism (Fascism/Monarchy) is as much a failure as pure Communism.

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We live in a free society, where the laws of economics are almost as immutable as the laws of physics.  Pass laws that go against them, and you will get all sorts of unintended consequences.  No regulation probably won't work, but simple legislation is a lot like wishing....it won't make it so.

 

Come on.  The laws of economics are based on assumptions which never hold true.  To use them as the basis for reality would be like not taking into account friction in physics, assuming that light is always travelling through a vacuum, or that there is no air/wind resistance.  They are also far more complex because they rely on human behavior, which can be unpredictable, unlike the laws of physics.

 

That is why there's no agreement on what the best course to take is.  Pure Capitalism (Fascism/Monarchy) is as much a failure as pure Communism.

 

Wait, how in the world is pure capitalism relatable to Fascism? Or a Monarchy?

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Wait, how in the world is pure capitalism relatable to Fascism? Or a Monarchy?

 

Unrestricted Capitalism (absence of monopoly laws, regulations, etc.) leads to wealth concentration by a very few due to economies of scale (think of how many industries are dominated by a few massive companies and now take out monopoly and anti-trust laws which allow them to bleed their influence into other sectors).  Over time, the end result is a small ruling class which controls all of the wealth.  Whether this is Fascism or Monarchy is simply a question of how this ruling class structures itself.

 

The fact that most Americans are so enamored with Capitalism leads many to not believe this, as I'm sure those enamored with Communism back in the day couldn't see its pitfalls.

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Wait, how in the world is pure capitalism relatable to Fascism? Or a Monarchy?

 

Unrestricted Capitalism (absence of monopoly laws, regulations, etc.) leads to wealth concentration by a very few due to economies of scale (think of how many industries are dominated by a few massive companies and now take out monopoly and anti-trust laws which allow them to bleed their influence into other sectors).  Over time, the end result is a small ruling class which controls all of the wealth.  Whether this is Fascism or Monarchy is simply a question of how this ruling class structures itself.

 

The fact that most Americans are so enamored with Capitalism leads many to not believe this, as I'm sure those enamored with Communism back in the day couldn't see its pitfalls.

 

Sorry, the reason most Americans don't see it is that it isn't there to be seen.  Capitalism, for one thing, is an economic system; fascism and (especially) monarchy are political systems.  England is a largely capitalist constitutional monarchy.  Moreover, the extent to which England is capitalist is completely orthogonal to the extent to which it is a monarchy.  You are drawing a false equivalence between high wealth concentration and monarchy or fascism.  Monarchical and fascistic systems will have high wealth concentration, but the reverse does not necessarily hold true.  (I'd also note that J.K. Rowling is currently wealthier than the British crown.)

 

As for capitalism leading to greater wealth concentration: greater wealth concentration than what?  Capitalist countries tend to be less economically stratified than almost all authoritarian countries: most Latin American and African countries have enormous concentration of wealth.  Perhaps you mean greater wealth concentration than heavily redistributive social-democratic countries modeled along Scandinavia or France, but that is a tiny subset of the world's countries, and Europe has plenty of its own economic problems at the moment, many of which can be traced to those heavily interventionist and redistributive policies.

 

In addition, your attempt to define "unrestricted capitalism" is more than a little historically dated.  Absence of monopoly laws leads to greater wealth concentration?  Are you aware that in the late 1990s, Microsoft essentially defeated the antitrust actions against it by the government, and the Bush administration quickly idled them after taking office--and that Microsoft nevertheless lost its preeminent position in the tech world, not due to regulation but due to competition?  The regulators did not tame Microsoft.  Apple, Google, and other companies that were either in their infancy (Google) or down for the count and written off for dead (Apple) did.  Unless a monopoly is expressly protected by the government (e.g., utility monopolies), both economic theory and history show that the monopoly will not last more than a brief historical moment.  As for "lack of regulation," see my previous point about how enormously vague a term that is.

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Occupy Dayton voluntarily takes down camp at Dave Hall Plaza

 

DAYTON - After 69 days of camping downtown, the Occupy Dayton protest voluntarily began dismantling their small encampment in Dave Hall Plaza around 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

 

The camp, protesters say, will move to an as yet undisclosed location, likely on private property but in a prominent public spot. The protest began in Courthouse Square but moved to Dave Hall Plaza to make room for the Grande Illumination and Children’s Parade...

 

...I think the rain and mud and cold convinced them to move.  The decision was apparently made at an emergency General Assembly on Monday night.  They did have an attorney who was negotiating on their behalf, but realistically this camping was dependent on the toleration of local officials (as it is elsewhere), so eventually push would have come to shove.

 

There were about 6 or 7 full-time campers here in Dayton.  They got 8 or 9 (campers + non-campers) for their last protest march.  So the public face of the group dwindled a lot since October....

 

 

Yet what Im impressed is whats going on off-camp.  This has launched a lot of organizing and networking among people here in Dayton, who would ordinarily not be connected (like me). 

 

One of the things that is starting up is  "Food Working Group", which is going to network with this new "sustainability center" here in town (just found out about it thru Occupy) that is in the old Monarch Marking factory on the east side.

 

Things happen off site at peoples houses and art studio spaces, in meeting reooms, etc, as people get to know each other, share ideas, and start planning and doing.  Thats' what Im noticing.  That there is this activist community starting to form.

 

This is what should have the right shtting bricks, becuase one of the tools of repression, or the Society of the Spectacle, is that we are all atomized, isolated individuals, or that we related to each other in mediated ways.  This is breaking that isolation, where you are starting to see people leaving "the Matrix" of alienation as it were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Capitalism, for one thing, is an economic system; fascism and (especially) monarchy are political systems.

 

So?  Economic systems can and do influence political systems.  The uber-wealthy have undue influence in the political sphere.  Unchecked, this nearly always leads to them controlling politics.  I still maintain that as wealth concentrates to a very few that those elite will eventually become the ruling class.

 

England is a largely capitalist constitutional monarchy.

 

First of all, I was referring to an absolute monarchy, not a constitutional monarchy, especially one with a parliamentary system where the monarch is simply a figurehead left in place for tradition.  Speaking of European regimes which transitioned from absolute monarchies to more democratic forms of government (and the parliamentary system IS a democratic form of government), the main reason for this happening was the rise in the middle class.  The disappearing middle class is another reason I think we may be dangerously headed away from a democratic (or representative) form of government.

 

Moreover, the extent to which England is capitalist is completely orthogonal to the extent to which it is a monarchy.  You are drawing a false equivalence between high wealth concentration and monarchy or fascism.  Monarchical and fascistic systems will have high wealth concentration, but the reverse does not necessarily hold true.  (I'd also note that J.K. Rowling is currently wealthier than the British crown.)

 

Once again, England is not an absolute monarchy.  Also, England does not have high wealth inequality.

 

I am not trying to equate wealth inequality with monarchy.  I am saying that I believe unregulated laissez-faire capitalism will concentrate wealth and power.  Over a long period of time, I have no doubt that this would cause these powerful elite to become the ruling class and put in place whatever form of government they deem serves best to preserve their wealth and influence.  So I am saying that an extreme right economic system can lead to a non-democratic form of government where power is concentrated in the hands of a very few.  A specific economic system can cause a certain polticial structure to arise.  However, this is not the only way to end up with wealth inequality, and this is not the only way to end up with this form of government.  You're the one trying to claim I am equating the two and arguing against that strawman.  It is quite possible for non-capitalistic countries to have wealth inequality as well.  That doesn't say anything about the outcome of a purely capitalistic country.

 

As for capitalism leading to greater wealth concentration: greater wealth concentration than what?  Capitalist countries tend to be less economically stratified than almost all authoritarian countries: most Latin American and African countries have enormous concentration of wealth.  Perhaps you mean greater wealth concentration than heavily redistributive social-democratic countries modeled along Scandinavia or France, but that is a tiny subset of the world's countries, and Europe has plenty of its own economic problems at the moment, many of which can be traced to those heavily interventionist and redistributive policies.

 

The countries which have the lowest wealth inequalities are not even close to being purely capitalist.  In fact, Republicans in the US love to hammer them for being socialist (but of course they also have capitalistic qualities as well).  As you said and as I pointed out before, the countries with the lowest wealth inequality have leftist democratic governments.  However, some of them also have economic problems, and that is the struggle.  Right-wing economic policies promote economic growth at the expense of equality.  Left-wing economic policies promote equality (amongst other things) often times at the expense of economic growth.  That is why I believe it's dangerous to move too far in either direction.  I don't wish for an extremely prosperous nation where most of the population is basically in slavery.  I also don't wish for an egalitarian nation where everyone is poor.  I wish for a healthy mix of the two.  Moderation is key, and I believe we're to the right of the "ideal" point in the spectrum right now.

 

In addition, your attempt to define "unrestricted capitalism" is more than a little historically dated.  Absence of monopoly laws leads to greater wealth concentration?  Are you aware that in the late 1990s, Microsoft essentially defeated the antitrust actions against it by the government, and the Bush administration quickly idled them after taking office--and that Microsoft nevertheless lost its preeminent position in the tech world, not due to regulation but due to competition?  The regulators did not tame Microsoft.  Apple, Google, and other companies that were either in their infancy (Google) or down for the count and written off for dead (Apple) did.  Unless a monopoly is expressly protected by the government (e.g., utility monopolies), both economic theory and history show that the monopoly will not last more than a brief historical moment.  As for "lack of regulation," see my previous point about how enormously vague a term that is.

 

First of all, Microsoft did not defeat the US government.  However, that's irrelevant.  Apple was not a startup anymore than Microsoft was.  They both entered an emerging market at nearly the same time and won the battle for dominance in it.  Google also entered an emerging market when it started (and had plenty of competition, most of which has been effectively squashed already) and is now spreading into Apple's and even Microsoft's domain.  In the long run, only a couple will remain standing.  Even after this short amount of time, three behemoths controls most facets of the computer and software industry.  Look at every other industry.  Rather than the supply-demand theorist's wet dream of perfect competition with low barriers to entry, we have monopolies or at best oligopolies in nearly every sector.  And they are rapidly consolidating as well as spreading into other sectors.  Look at the food industry.  Large conglomerates own nearly everything.  Nearly all fast food companies are owned by a few massive companies.  Look at the control Monsanto has over the food industry.  Look at Wal-Mart and the areas it has spread into, eliminating competition in many different areas.  Look at the banking industry and how large and few the players are.  Look at the automobile industry, which has gotten "too large to fail."  The company I work for was bought out by a Fortune 500 company, which in turn was bought out by another Fortune 500 company, which has since bought out many more companies.  The pace has quickened in recent years (of both corporate consolidation and wealth inequality) thanks to deregulation and a relaxing of anti-trust laws mainly started during the Reagan years.

 

I am not saying that even with a complete laissez-faire capitalistic system put in place (which is not what we now have) that the end result of extreme wealth and power consolidation would happen overnight.  It could take hundreds of years, but I feel it would in fact be the eventual end result.  That is why I fear people who always push in one direction.  I prefer moderation, as governments which are either too far right  or too far left are both just as bad.

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As for capitalism leading to greater wealth concentration: greater wealth concentration than what?  Capitalist countries tend to be less economically stratified than almost all authoritarian countries: most Latin American and African countries have enormous concentration of wealth.  Perhaps you mean greater wealth concentration than heavily redistributive social-democratic countries modeled along Scandinavia or France, but that is a tiny subset of the world's countries, and Europe has plenty of its own economic problems at the moment, many of which can be traced to those heavily interventionist and redistributive policies.

 

The countries which have the lowest wealth inequalities are not even close to being purely capitalist.  In fact, Republicans in the US love to hammer them for being socialist (but of course they also have capitalistic qualities as well).  As you said and as I pointed out before, the countries with the lowest wealth inequality have leftist democratic governments.  However, some of them also have economic problems, and that is the struggle.  Right-wing economic policies promote economic growth at the expense of equality.  Left-wing economic policies promote equality (amongst other things) often times at the expense of economic growth.  That is why I believe it's dangerous to move too far in either direction.  I don't wish for an extremely prosperous nation where most of the population is basically in slavery.  I also don't wish for an egalitarian nation where everyone is poor.  I wish for a healthy mix of the two.  Moderation is key, and I believe we're to the right of the "ideal" point in the spectrum right now.

 

Most economic libertarians do not want a prosperous nation where most of the population is in slavery, either.  The flaw in that line of thought is the assumption that economic freedom necessarily leads to that.  Free markets do create losers, but left alone, they create far more winners--certainly more winners than centralized planning ever could.  OWS tries to frame their struggle as the 99% against the 1%, but in practice, life at the 50% level in 2011 beats the heck out of life at the 50% level in 1971 (or even 1991).  Economic inequality and slavery are hardly equivalents.

 

Also remember that the various bailouts of the banking system were not free market initiatives.  They were deviations from free market principles--left wing policies, if you want to use your metric of regulation and government intervention in the economy being left wing and principled adherence to free market economics being right wing.  (I also don't think that those are particularly apt equivalents, either.)  The free market solution would have been to let the collapse of the high-risk debt market run its course, and see who had been swimming naked when the tide went out.  In that instance, free market principles would almost certainly have led to greater wealth and income equality because the wealthy had far more tied up in high-risk debt securities than your typical engineer or carpenter, and the financial industry (particularly in investment banking and private equity) is well known as the place where concentrated, stratospheric incomes are the norm.

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OWS tries to frame their struggle as the 99% against the 1%, but in practice, life at the 50% level in 2011 beats the heck out of life at the 50% level in 1971 (or even 1991).  Economic inequality and slavery are hardly equivalents.

 

I agree that the 50% level is better off now than 20 or 40 years ago.  I disagree that free market principles would ensure that continues.  If wealth concentrates fast enough, the total economic gains at some point are surpassed by the drop in share of those gains by the masses.  Just because it doesn't happen right away doesn't mean it can't or won't happen.

 

Also keep in mind that part of what staved off the crossing of this point is that we were in a bubble (both Y2K/.com and housing) which pumped artificial wealth into the economy temporarily.  Without that, I'm not sure we wouldn't have crossed the point where the masses lose out even with overall economic gains over a decade ago.  Even during these prosperous times, the lower 50% saw their wages stay nearly flat when adjusted for inflation (I believe the increase was around 1% in the last 30 years) and I have not seen estimates of wealth, but the lower half almost assuredly are faring even worse on that measure than they do on income.

 

Also remember that the various bailouts of the banking system were not free market initiatives.

 

Of course they weren't.  They were a response to a crisis.  A crisis that was created due to the fact that free market principles allowed corporations to exert enough influence and amass enough power and wealth that their collapse could have brought down our entire economy (or at last that is what people, both Democrats and Republicans, believed).  I don't think it was the best action to take, but it was a one time action as a response to a crisis situation, not a long term economic plan.  You can't blame wealth inequality on the bailouts (although they sure didn't help).

 

They were deviations from free market principles--left wing policies, if you want to use your metric of regulation and government intervention in the economy being left wing and principled adherence to free market economics being right wing.

 

I never said there are no bad left wing policies.  Quite the opposite.  Both sides have their fair share of policies which are damaging to the nation as a whole.

 

(I also don't think that those are particularly apt equivalents, either.)

 

What is considered right wing economically today ("neoliberal right," "right-wing libertarianism," or "anarcho-capitalism") are all based on economic freedom and free market principles and reject any type of government regulation or involvement in the economy through ownership.

 

The free market solution would have been to let the collapse of the high-risk debt market run its course, and see who had been swimming naked when the tide went out.

 

So we can speculate on what would have happened if something that didn't happen had happened?  OK, let me have a hand at this.

 

The well-run large financial institutions (of which there were some) would have come out way ahead.  Their wise investments would have never been at much risk, and they would have been able to buy up the failing institutions at a fire sale, bringing their customers into their fold.  This would mean fewer, stronger, larger banks which would have been better for the economy as a whole than bailing out the failing banks and letting them limp along without learning a lesson.  However, it would have done nothing to promote wealth equality in the long run beyond the temporary spike which may have occurred due to the shock to the economy.

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The well-run large financial institutions (of which there were some) would have come out way ahead.  Their wise investments would have never been at much risk, and they would have been able to buy up the failing institutions at a fire sale, bringing their customers into their fold.  This would mean fewer, stronger, larger banks which would have been better for the economy as a whole than bailing out the failing banks and letting them limp along without learning a lesson.  However, it would have done nothing to promote wealth equality in the long run beyond the temporary spike which may have occurred due to the shock to the economy.

 

I think I agree with everything you've been saying. Good stuff. I just want to add that a strong economy doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a strong society. The recession has been over for a good long while, but recession is a term with very limited meaning. The economy is slowly bouncing back, but as in all recessions in recent decades, the reviving economy leaves a lot of people behind and weakens the social structure.

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So we can speculate on what would have happened if something that didn't happen had happened?

 

If you're going to speculate that things would have been better had the financial industry (or all sectors of the economy) been more heavily regulated, then yes.

 

OK, let me have a hand at this.

 

The well-run large financial institutions (of which there were some) would have come out way ahead.  Their wise investments would have never been at much risk, and they would have been able to buy up the failing institutions at a fire sale, bringing their customers into their fold.  This would mean fewer, stronger, larger banks which would have been better for the economy as a whole than bailing out the failing banks and letting them limp along without learning a lesson.  However, it would have done nothing to promote wealth equality in the long run beyond the temporary spike which may have occurred due to the shock to the economy.

 

A plausible scenario, but I think it would also have permanently (or at least for the long term) shrunk the financial sector as a portion of the economy, particularly in the parts of that sector that most resemble the "casino" stereotype that some people have about the entire sector.  That long-term effect would be particularly long-lasting if many of those making nine and ten figures a year were forced to return some of their gains via bankruptcy avoidance actions.  In addition, the federal government would not have incurred the level of debt and contingent obligations (e.g., loan guarantees) that it has now, which will have to be paid with money taxed from the entire country.

 

Moreover, if wealth inequality ticked upward again after the shock you mentioned because of consolidation in the banking industry as better-run financial institutions bought out more reckless ones, at least we could say that those higher paychecks were going towards better managers--the ones who helped clean up the mess, not the ones who caused it.  As I mentioned above, the federal government's debts would also likely be lower (or would have been incurred in the service of more ordinary people, though I obviously consider even that not good enough an argument for burdening the taxpayers with more debt).  I think far fewer people would be as angry as they are today in that event, which speaks to UrbanSurfin's point about societal strength and economic strength being linked but far from identical.  However, in this instance, you're suggesting that government should be the one to clean up the mess--when the government was a very active player in causing it (and in socializing the losses afterward).

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However, in this instance, you're suggesting that government should be the one to clean up the mess--when the government was a very active player in causing it (and in socializing the losses afterward).

 

I didn't say government should have cleaned up the mess.  I think government should have tried to prevent the mess.

 

Regardless, this one short-term crisis is irrelevant to my arguments about the long-term effects of unchecked capitalism.

 

Remember, I am arguing that laissez-faire capitalism has a certain outcome.  I am not arguing that for all policies that are not laissez-faire capitalism there will be a better outcome.  If it were simple, I'd hope there'd be an agreement among scholars at least as to what the best route to take is.

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....  In addition, the federal government would not have incurred the level of debt and contingent obligations (e.g., loan guarantees) that it has now, which will have to be paid with money taxed from the entire country...

Exactly how large were those "obligations", in your observation?

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However, in this instance, you're suggesting that government should be the one to clean up the mess--when the government was a very active player in causing it (and in socializing the losses afterward).

 

I didn't say government should have cleaned up the mess.  I think government should have tried to prevent the mess.

 

Fair enough, though that still involves predicting what would have happened had the legal system or political decisions been different.

 

Regardless, this one short-term crisis is irrelevant to my arguments about the long-term effects of unchecked capitalism.

 

I don't think you can handwave it away, because you are proposing an alternative political system in which the federal government has even more control over the economy than it currently does.  At the bedrock, that means more control over the financial system, which is the most critical intermediary layer between the government and the rest of the economy.  Therefore, if a government heavily active in the financial system is prone towards taking steps to preserve institutions in that system that should be allowed to fail, that is a serious practical flaw in your design.  You might assert that that influence could be contained by proper regulation of the government itself, of course, but that adds an additional layer of difficulty and complexity to any more heavily interventionist system you propose.

 

Remember, I am arguing that laissez-faire capitalism has a certain outcome.  I am not arguing that for all policies that are not laissez-faire capitalism there will be a better outcome.  If it were simple, I'd hope there'd be an agreement among scholars at least as to what the best route to take is.

 

Well, to the extent that you're only arguing against the theoretical ideal of laissez-faire capitalism, I don't have much interest in it because that system does not exist in reality and, practically speaking, never will (which you noted earlier as well).  The only question is where in the middle we are, and whether we should be moving somewhat more in a libertarian direction or somewhat more in a socialist direction (recognizing that we won't go all the way in either direction in either case).  Given that even under your own formulation--that libertarianism produces growth at the expense of equality and socialism the converse--I wonder why you suggest that we are insufficiently libertarian at the moment, given that we cannot even talk about sharing growth that does not exist, and growth has been negligible for years now.  Indeed, part of the entire thrust of the economic-libertarian policy argument of the last few years is that we need to get back on a growth trajectory.  It isn't as though we're talking about the difference between 5% growth and 7% growth at the moment, after all.

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....  In addition, the federal government would not have incurred the level of debt and contingent obligations (e.g., loan guarantees) that it has now, which will have to be paid with money taxed from the entire country...

Exactly how large were those "obligations", in your observation?

 

According to CNN Money, the answer is <a href="http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/bailouttracker/">really fracking big</a>.

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Well, to the extent that you're only arguing against the theoretical ideal of laissez-faire capitalism, I don't have much interest in it because that system does not exist in reality and, practically speaking, never will (which you noted earlier as well).  The only question is where in the middle we are, and whether we should be moving somewhat more in a libertarian direction or somewhat more in a socialist direction (recognizing that we won't go all the way in either direction in either case).  Given that even under your own formulation--that libertarianism produces growth at the expense of equality and socialism the converse--I wonder why you suggest that we are insufficiently libertarian at the moment, given that we cannot even talk about sharing growth that does not exist, and growth has been negligible for years now.  Indeed, part of the entire thrust of the economic-libertarian policy argument of the last few years is that we need to get back on a growth trajectory.  It isn't as though we're talking about the difference between 5% growth and 7% growth at the moment, after all.

 

I feel that our current lack of growth is caused more by the bursting of previous bubbles than a fault in economic policy.  Also, increasing globalization will continue to stunt our growth, but I believe that's an issue outside of the long-term policy issue (globalization is a one-time event that will "complete" at some point in time, at least in theory).

 

As to not caring about the mythical purely capitalistic state, don't argue with me then! :P  (Kidding...being able to go back and forth rationally is refreshing on an internet forum.)  But I wasn originally responding to E-Rocc's comment and then calrifying for surfohio.  I'm not arguing because I think we'll end up there, but because it seems popular right now in this country to attack anything that isn't completely free market capitalism as if the purely capitalistic state is the only rational end goal.

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....  In addition, the federal government would not have incurred the level of debt and contingent obligations (e.g., loan guarantees) that it has now, which will have to be paid with money taxed from the entire country...

Exactly how large were those "obligations", in your observation?

 

According to CNN Money, the answer is <a href="http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/bailouttracker/">really fracking big</a>.

That CNN-Money summary includes the 2009 stimulus ($577.8 billion) and a huge number of other programs that will *not*  "be paid with money taxed from the entire country".

 

There certainly was not $11 Trillion or $3 Trillion added to the national debt as one might read into that summary.

 

The amount that was added to the public debt as a result of President Obama's management of the debt crisis is measured in the tens of billions of dollars, from what I recall.  If you want to pull a better number from somewhere, do your best.  You are the one who needs to defend your claim.

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shs96: The government "covered" the bad debts of the American banks.  I know that most of the TARP funds have been "paid back" and the public is no longer on the hook for those debt.  The government sold much or most of the GM and Chrysler stock that it had taken ownership of.  At least that is how I understand it.

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....  In addition, the federal government would not have incurred the level of debt and contingent obligations (e.g., loan guarantees) that it has now, which will have to be paid with money taxed from the entire country...

Exactly how large were those "obligations", in your observation?

 

According to CNN Money, the answer is <a href="http://money.cnn.com/news/storysupplement/economy/bailouttracker/">really fracking big</a>.

That CNN-Money summary includes the 2009 stimulus ($577.8 billion) and a huge number of other programs that will *not*  "be paid with money taxed from the entire country".

 

There certainly was not $11 Trillion or $3 Trillion added to the national debt as one might read into that summary.

 

The amount that was added to the public debt as a result of President Obama's management of the debt crisis is measured in the tens of billions of dollars, from what I recall.  If you want to pull a better number from somewhere, do your best.  You are the one who needs to defend your claim.

 

Boreas, as usual, your ideology is strong and your reading comprehension skills are not.

 

(1) I said nothing about Obama or Bush.  The bank bailout programs began under Bush and I never suggested otherwise.

 

(2) I distinguished "debt" and "contingent obligations" in what I wrote.  The loan guarantees are contingent obligations, and therefore have not added to the debt--yet.  Nevertheless, jam40jeff, UrbanSurfin, and I were also talking about the societal effects of various government interventions and non-interventions, and I believe that there were significant socially corrosive effects to those contingent obligations even if the contingencies have not been triggered yet.

 

(3) Money is fungible, so one can never attribute 100% of the deficit to any source.  Nevertheless, these outlays represented new spending different in both degree and kind from those that had gone before.

 

(4) You have a lot of nerve talking about how I need to defend my claims and provide sources, when you almost never do, and when you do, they tend to be from decisively left-wing think tanks, whereas I just cited CNN Money.  As usual, you're trying to suggest that you're right (with whatever it is that you actually believe, which I gather is some unfocused hodgepodge of left-wing folderol) if I don't provide you with a 20,000-word original article capable of getting into a prestigious economics journal.

 

(5) On that note, you are the one making the claim that "That CNN-Money summary includes the 2009 stimulus ($577.8 billion) and a huge number of other programs that will *not*  "be paid with money taxed from the entire country."  Yes, I'm well aware that it includes the 2009 stimulus.  That is contained within the document itself.  The $3 trillion total "invested" figure, however, does represent an actual outlay.  Naturally, to the extent that some of that money actually was "invested" (as opposed to "investments" in the welfare state, which are just consumption expenditures given the euphemism "investment" by their supporters for PR purposes), we may recover some of it, and indeed, I am well aware that we have already recovered some of it.  However, many of those "investments" were in failing companies and distressed debt, and we deliberately paid above-market prices for both, in order to "restore liquidity" (a.k.a. give a huge pile of cash to a small mob of well-dressed miscreants), meaning that we are almost sure not to get all $3 trillion back.

 

So, I've showed you my figures.  Your turn.

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shs96: The government "covered" the bad debts of the American banks.  I know that most of the TARP funds have been "paid back" and the public is no longer on the hook for those debt.  The government sold much or most of the GM and Chrysler stock that it had taken ownership of.  At least that is how I understand it.

 

TARP funds account for $700 billion of the 11 trillion in the summary.  The rest of it isn't loans that will be "paid back".  Some of it I found to be useful (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) while some of it I found to be not so useful (stimulus act) and some of it to be self-inflicted and indicative of the overall problem (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout)...and makes me curious as to why OWS steers away from protesting the other half of the mess, i.e., the governments role in all of it...no one was holding a gun to their head to accept the corporate influence...or be the largest purchaser of subprime MBS

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