Arm waving aside, whenever they advocate about officials deciding about who should get what, I think of Czech or Hungarian limp bodies swinging from lamp posts.

Laborers don't want their good efforts expropriated. As do not those smart and industrious enough to create profitable systems in the first place.

There is a zero sum sense short-term, but the battle is positive sum and unending. The problem lies in subsidizing profiteering champions of your cause when you wind up on the wrong side.

Zubin Al Genobi writes: 

Under capitalist theory, the purpose of capitalism is to use workers labor to provide a return to those whose capital is being utilized. Labor cannot really be levered, and is limited in a way that capital is not. I suppose productivity is a leverage of labor but does not grow exponentially in the way capital does. The worker does not reap the benefit of productivity. Capital has mobility. Labor is less mobile.

Stefan Jovanovich writes:

Discussing commerce using the academic Marxist term "capiatalism" is like listening to a former communist explain why freedom is a good idea. They mean well, but they never quite escape the notion that liberty has to have an underlying dialectic. It doesn't. Money is movable only in the abstract; in practice, it's owners have to go with it. If they don't keep an eye on where it is parked, both digitally and physically, it has a terrible likelihood of disappearing. Labor can be levered; that is precisely what enterprise is - the ability to get people and machines to work together better, faster, cheaper. And cheaper is measured by unit costs of outputs, not individual rewards. The reason American and most other progressive countries' labor laws outlaw payment by piece work is that it rewarded the people who could work faster and smarter. The unacknowledged part of U.S. labor history is the struggle between the home grown craft guilds and the mass unions promoted by the (mostly) German immigrant believers in syndicalist labor organization. Of course, workers reap the benefits of their greater skills and productivity. The question is whether the law, in the name of social justice, will allow them to do so. My Polish grandmother figured out in 6 weeks how to work two looms at once and more than doubled her wages (she said her work had better quality when she could follow the rhythm of 2 machines). She then learned how much of poverty is about people acting like crabs in a barrel and preventing anyone from being able to climb out. A Socialist comrade complained that Hedwiga was not showing proper solidarity and that was that.

Peter Ringel writes:

Stefan's great reply saves me from a rant. He checks all the boxes. Some additions (not well sorted):

- there are leverage winners and leverage losers. More or less a zero-sum game.

- leverage facilitates the animal spirits, which is an important driver of an economy (H/T G.Gekko)

- labor is leveraged

- I agree with ZAG & Stefan: productivity is a form of labor leverage, especially the work-time saving aspect.

- we are all highly specialized workers with specialized skills, standing on the shoulders of earlier generations.

- In my whole lifetime I could not build a machine, that brings you this email. I can not pump the oil to build a PC, and If I could, I can not build the wafer or the chips, and if I could, I can not build the undersea cable or the satellite, and so on, yet I produced this email in a few minutes.

- I see this accumulated knowledge as leverage.

- by many measures, my wealth is greater than the historical wealth of British royals. I have a car. They had a horse (or two)

- "they" call it capitalism. "We" call it freedom. It's about where to move and apply spare capital most efficiently.

- Smith's invisible hand moves the investor and the laborer (and the politician). Every laborer is also an investor.- the German immigrant communists in America were an embarrassment. Something is wrong with us. An analysis would bring us back to Kafka and his characters.

- Stefan's Polish grandmother is exemplary: I believe the urge for freedom of the Polish people where always stronger compared to the Germans. I grew up in East Germany. In the 1980s from an age of ~8 to 12 my father took me to Poland each Summer. It was the Poland of Solidarność and it was the land of freedom for me. My definition of freedom back then was: CocaCola, Pepsi and arcade Games. None of this existed at my home. This was all that counts.





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1 Comment so far

  1. Heterosaucer on August 17, 2018 3:49 am

    Why 1789?
    Why 1917?
    Why 1991?

    For me, the most interesting question is why does it take so long for excess to catalyze the reorganization of any group of people who consider themselves a united group?

    Man never regards what he possesses as so much his own as what he does & the laborer who tends a garden in perhaps in a truer sense its owner than the listless voluptuary who enjoys its fruits.

    Yet toil the serfs did, and for so long. Until one day, for some reason, the demands of those far enough removed from the true cost of their fantastical designs, the costs imposed upon the actors, destroys the faith of those who believe.

    The chaos that ensues, the destruction of systems incapable of recognizing their neglect of their obligation, provides a chance for something new to emerge. While the flux period is often terrible, history suggests it is how we iterate new systems of cooperation.

    Truly human action is that which flows from inner impulse, and freedom is undoubtedly the indespensible condition without which even the pursuits most congenial to human nature can never succeed in producing salutary influences.

    If a man acts in a mechanical way, reacting to external demands or instruction rather than in ways determined by his own interests, energies, and power we may admire what he does, but we despise what he is.

    Power will always be the enemy of the progress. It manifests itself in many ways, including control of distant productive resources by those who would call proclaim “management” to be the most valuable contribution. But the major advancements of human understanding were never pursued for remuneration. Calculus, formal logic, the advancements of principle that gave birth to new comfort in the form of products, the people who gave us these things were motivated by a type of inquisitiveness as compulsive as the need of the needle.

    However, whether the conditions of a society promote individual autarky or engender innovation depends upon the trustworthiness of specialists.

    The ability of a person to use their productive hours specializing flourishes in a system where that person can rely on the advice of other specialists.

    And it is good that bodies hang from lamp posts when power concentrates, and those with power abnegate the responsibility implied by the advantage their position.

    To deny that decomposition enriches the soil is to deny nature itself.


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