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  • Capitalism is Opposed to Human Happiness Debate

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    Discussion Five
    Posts #21-#25

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    Post #21

    Date: 07-18-2010, 09:46 AM
    By Punkerslut...

    Originally Posted by samiam5211
    The economic problems that we are currently dealing with are essentially a consequence of greed.

         I disagree. Rather, I believe it is inequality of bargaining power between the great masses and a very few that leads to exploitation, poverty, starvation, etc.. To quote the economist Simonde de Sismondi...

    "He no longer produced a complete work, but merely the part of a work; in which he required not only the cooperation of other workmen, but also raw materials, proper implements, and a trader to undertake the exchange of the article which he had contributed to finish. Whenever he bargained with a master-workman for the exchange of labour against subsistence, the condition he stood in was always disadvantageous, since his need of subsistence and his inability to procure it of himself, were far greater than the master's need of labour; and therefore he almost constantly narrowed his demand to bare necessaries, without which the stipulated labour could not have proceeded; whilst the master alone profited from the increase of productive power brought about by the division of labour." (1815, "Political Economy," Chapter 3)

         It is something almost of a conspiracy to keep the vast majority exploited as workers and without any recourse to justice. As Adam Smith pointed out...

    "We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of." (1776, "The Wealth of Nations," Book 1, Chapter 8) (Emphasis mine.)

         If there is a relationship between humanity's material existence and our happiness, then Capitalism may not be the ideal system for maximizing the happiness of each of society's participants.

    Post #22

    Date: 07-18-2010, 09:58 AM
    By Punkerslut...

    Originally Posted by flounder
    People measure happiness in so many different ways it's impossible to name a Utopian situation. I may desire more material things, to another person perhaps an artist they mean nothing. I would be very unhappy without many of the toys in life, while somebody else is very content in a cabin in the mountains.

         Yes, but place a patent on that cabin model and issue a deed for the lake -- how happy is our camper going to be then?

         And I know plenty of artists; good paint supplies are not cheap. Again, take away their brush and paint, and how happy are they?

         I didn't say that wealth is the key to happiness, but it seems to be 100% instrumental. There is always a way that property can be used to increase or decrease happiness, such as the difference between drinking a cure and a poison. Look at Gandhi -- for all that he lived in poverty, he was only claiming one thing as property: the entire subcontinent of India for the Indian people. Even with a meak heart, an immense amount of property may be the only thing that leads to happiness. Or, perhaps, I should say to greater happiness.

    Post #23

    Date: 07-18-2010, 10:38 AM
    By Darwinist...

    Originally Posted by Punkerslut
    Hello, everyone,

    The argument I'm presenting here will hopefully be clear and concise. The only thing I am trying to prove that human happiness is opposed to Capitalism, or any system where the means of production are owned and controlled by a very few compared to the whole of society. My argument is for Socialism: the idea that society better serves the needs of its participants when everyone has an equal voice in directing the economy's productive forces. My argument follows this basic reasoning...

    (1) Material existence, though not necessary to happiness, certainly helps better provide for it. You could compare sleeping on a bed versus a rock-hard surface, eating nutritious food versus having to live off of rice everyday, or being able to afford necessary medicine for family members versus having to watch them suffer. It is possible, in any of these cases, that the person who does not have the economic opportunity is happier than the person who does; in a sort of Thoreau-esque, rugged individualism. But, for the most part, each of us would imagine ourselves to be happier with the material existence.

    (2) There is an inequality of bargaining power between the Capitalist and the laborer; or the one who possesses the factories and mines against the one who creates, maintains, and works them. They need each other, yes, but the worker needs the Capitalist far, far more. This inequality of need, just like any situation where bargaining occurs, leads to an inequality of bargaining power -- and, similarly, an inequality of outcome. No worker can live without having some tools of production, but the majority of these tools are possessed by a very few. Herein leads to the inequality of bargaining power. This means that the laborer must be content to give away a portion of their production to the sustenance of the Capitalist. And, furthermore, it shall be up to the Capitalist to decide whether to plough the fields or harvest them -- whether or not the workers are able or hungry. Food will be destroyed or dumped into the ocean, for instance, when trying to sell it would lead to price declines or lessened profit.

    (3) Take that material existence contributes to human happiness and that inequality of bargaining power leads necessarily to inequality of material existence. If we believe in human happiness as an ultimate end of society, then necessarily, it is within our duty to work towards the equalizing of bargaining power for all participants of society. Naturally, there is no way to have them completely equal, unless each person is an equal possessor of the means of production.

    This is not to say that everyone should be paid the same wage. It is only to say that society ought to be reorganized so that no person can live off of anyone else, and that each person has the right to claim the full fruit of their labors. This serves our ultimate purpose of human happiness, since it better provides for each member of society to receive according to their contribution, without being subjugated to a master of economy. Hence, Capitalism is opposed to human happiness.

         Capitalism isn't opposed to happiness; in fact it makes the claim happiness is achieved with the concentration of wealth into the hands of a tiny minority of individuals who use heritable wealth toward two ends: first, to ensure the vast majority becomes and remains dependent on them for life's commodities, and, second, to do everything possible to make sure the condition of their control over the what the majority depends on never passes into the hands of any outside the wealthy class.

         This second point is demonstrated by examples of the superwealthy buying the businesses of up-and-coming commodity-suppliers, whether they produce a physical product or a virtual one. It's akin to the saying about feeding a man a with fish versus teaching him how to fish: when an up-and-comer sells his company to a corporate conglomerate or wealthy individual, all he's gained is money; more importantly, he's handed over control of his ability to produce to the monied interests that want to keep their little club of producers of goods an exclusive one.

    Post #24

    Date: 07-18-2010, 01:23 PM
    By Punkerslut...

    Originally Posted by geofree
    The problem is that capitalism uses government issued privilege to monopolize natural resources and other natural opportunities. This results in diminished opportunity for those of the working class by making them dependant on the owners of privilege. An example:

    "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today…The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors." -- Bill Gates

    So, the capitalist Bill Gates uses government issued regulation and privilege to force would be inventors to work for him, either directly or via payment for access to his privilege. It is this privatization of natural opportunities which make capitalism so oppressive; though socialism is even worse. The answer is free markets and the abolishment or taxation of capitalist privilege. This government issued privilege is the source of the capital/labor conflict.

         There seems to be a conflict in this reasoning. You pointed out how big businesses, by their wealth, can impose whatever they want on smaller businesses. Does it not naturally follow with workers and their employers? After all, my argument has simply been that we should improve the happiness of all, not just some way to increase economic idea. If you think that big business has so much bargaining power that they exploit small businesses, where is your sympathy for workers who have so little bargaining power that they must content themselves with such a small portion? To quote Peter Kropotkin,

    "It is because, having reduced the masses to a point at which they have not the means of subsistence for a month, or even for a week in advance, the few only allow the many to work on condition of themselves receiving the lion's share. It is because these few prevent the remainder of men from producing the things they need, and force them to produce, not the necessaries of life for all, but whatever offers the greatest profits to the monopolists." (1892, "The Conquest of Bread," Chapter 1, Part II)

         Besides, this leads to a greater problem: if the laws are always and have always been manipulated by the rich, why should we put up with an economic system that drains away Democracy? After all, I hardly doubt the state stepped in and demanded to corrupt the situation; rather, I think the state was propped up by corrupt interests.

    Post #25

    Date: 07-18-2010, 01:43 PM
    By Erls...

    Your entire argument stems from the idea that happiness involves material happiness, and that all people should be materially equal. That is not the case.

    Happiness does not stem from material goods, happiness stems from stimulation of the mind. Those who stimulate their minds, use their minds, are generally those who are rewarded with material things. Yet, the cause of their happiness is not in the material, it is in the mind. The material is merely the by product of a useful mind.

    Furthermore, the laborer is not worth as much as someone who uses their mind to create happiness. The laborer is a dime a dozen: the majority of people willfully choose not to use their mind to create happiness but instead demand that happiness (in the form of material goods) be given to them by those who have created those goods. The laborer believes that (s)he is entitled to those goods, entitled to the same happiness, as (s)he who has created those goods with their minds, under the assumption that all (wo)men are created equal.

    And, all people are created equal. All people are created with a mind, which they can choose to use from an incredibly early age. If many choose not to use their mind, but instead to indulge in pleasures of material goods, then who are they to demand true happiness from those who have worked hard? For you see, the only truly indispensable people in this world are those who do not complain about things being unfair, who do not demand that others provide for them, or give to them. The only truly indispensable people are those who use their minds with the pure motive of furthering their life, of creating happiness for themself through the stimulation of their mind. Those are also, coincidently, the only people in this world not to issue demands on others, the only people in this world who are persecuted in the press for being 'un-caring' and 'selfish'. But, is it really selfish to live your life without demanding anything from others? All this group of people do is trade, value for value, with others who have accepted the offer of trade. They present no demands to humankind, they make to claims of entitlement on the profits of others. And, they also meekly submit to those demands when they are demanded of them by those who believe happiness lies in the material.

    Capitalism, as we know it today, is a farce. (Wo)men of the mind are made to feel ashamed of their ability, of their triumphs, of their happinessl. They are told that they must give back to others who are less fortunate. But, those who are less fortunate are that way through their own choices. They have chosen not to use their mind to create happiness for themselves, but instead to demand material goods from others. Therefore, those people can never truly be happy, so they continually demand more and more from those few who are truly happy. In true capitalism, the only things law needs do is enforce contracts between parties. One need not worry about monopolies, as someone else of the mind will always come along and do something better than the prior person did, creating competition. One need not worry about laborers being unable to get food, as the less they are paid the cheaper prices will be. It is the demands of the many on the few that create embalances, as the many demand material happiness instead of happiness of the mind.

    As long as you believe happiness to stem from the material, you will never be happy. If you accept that happiness comes from the mind, and that you have the exact same ability to be happy as anyone else, you will see the choice before you. Because, happiness IS a choice. One can choose to use their mind and find happiness, or one can choose to not use their minds and demand from others while never finding happiness.

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