My Onion Pi

If you can figure out the name, you'll know what it's about. Fortunately, I'm literate. I'm also funny on occasion. Just beware of the flying PMS.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Unfortunately, The Wrong People Die.

With very little notice or fanfare a great man passed away on Saturday April 29th.
John Kenneth Galbraith was a Canadian-Born economist and professor at Harvard University.
He was considered by many to be a "Liberal Thinker". Which is the Conservatives way of trying to discredit somebody, so that no one else will listen to what it is they have to say.

So what was Galbraith saying that upset Conservatives so much?
In a well known book entitled "The Affluent Society" (1958) Galbraith stated that the "free market system" in the United States was creating great personal wealth at the expense of society. He challanged that the system was sacrificing public needs such as schools and highways. (Can you say Walmart?)

He never shied away from the "label" of "Liberal" and was famous for quotes that cut to the heart of the issue at hand.

I find it interesting that when a person is labeled a liberal what usually accompanies that term is the word thinker. When a person is called a "Conservative", you don't usually see the word "thinker" after that term. The key word isn't Liberal, but Thinker.

And so, there it is, the sad passing of another very insightful man who said almost 50 years ago what was going to happen to this country, and unfortunately he was right.

Quotes by Galbraith to live by: (or just to get you thinking)

"Under Capitalism, man exploits man. Under Communism, it's just the opposite."

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

"The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking."

"Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory."

A man like Galbraith is worth 100 George Bushes.



At Wed May 03, 01:31:00 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

That's a REALLY good call, Hammy. I remember him from when I was doing economics more years ago than I care to elaborate on. The only issue I have with your post is the "100 Bush's" bit... it's much more than that, I suspect.

I like the way you think.

At Wed May 03, 08:26:00 AM, Blogger Badbeans said...

Dearest Hamrose,

I have been keeping tabs on your blog for sometime since our last correspondence and debate concerning abortion. I think that we parted as disagreeing blogging friends, and I suppose this is just such another issue.

I do not take issue with whether or not Mr. Galbraith was a good man. Nor do I even argue that Mr. Galbraith would be worth 100 George Bushs. I would agree with this from the standpoint that Mr. Galbraith only dealt with theory, while Mr. Bush deals with practice. One who thinks and never acts is less dangerous than one who acts and never thinks. Hence, we have the Bush domestic policy.

Communism is a utopia for the left. But like utopia, communism ignores that the nature of humans is to reap the rewards of what they earn. Now rewards can be other than monetary, but in the general economy, money is the medium of exchange, so we must realistically deal with money. Even in communist countries, some form of money is used.

Capitalism rewards people for work. You get as much as what you put into it. You stand to reap higher rewards if you take more risks; but you also stand to lose more by taking the same risks. Hard work, determination, ingenuity, and creativity are all encouraged by capitalism. Where capitalism becomes weak is when government intervenes at too great a level.

Some government intervention is necessary, as is the case with some labor laws and with laws banning monopolies. Competition is at the heart of capitalism.

Under communism, as has been demostrated by the former Soviet Union, government is the monopoly. If you want to know how efficiently services would be handled under a communist government, visit your local DMV. The Soviet Union collapsed economically and has been recovering while adopting freer markets in its several states. Even Red China is adopting free market policy in degrees.

Many examples exist of the inefficiency of government to handle even the most basic duties that are constitutionally delegated to them, at both the federal, state, and local levels. And, admittedly while most of our most contemporary communist societies are more socialist than communist, the idea that communism would work in practice is a pipedream.

A simple experiment that you can perform is this: You and your co-workers agree to put all of your paychecks in a big pot for a month and divide them evenly. After a couple of weeks, watch your frustration level rise and apathy to set in once you are doing twice the work while your co-workers, who are having their needs fulfilled with the same paycheck you get, are standing at the watercooler and talking for 7 out of the 10 hours you work, instead of the normal 3 hours of goofing off they can get by with without getting fired. Under capitalism, your boss would most likely fire their sorry selves, unless they are union of course. Under communism, your boss would simply shoot them.

At Wed May 03, 11:34:00 AM, Blogger runningman said...

Wow Hambone,
After reading what BadBeans wrote I am so happy that the honorable Mr. Galbraith was too tall in 1943 when the US Army refused his entry into military service. He may have never received the Freedom Medal from Monica's boyfriend in 2002. I have to say though, his bio is truely amazing. What a fantastic Man.

At Wed May 03, 04:55:00 PM, Blogger Hamrose said...

Bean Fart! How are ya!
I just knew that someone out there would have a knee jerk reaction to the word "communism". The man was only trying to making a point. It's just an abstraction of thought.

You're assuming that capitalism and communism are two polar opposites. The pure intentions of each system - in theory - is that both serve society in different ways. The theory of communism is that all contribute to a common pool and that all draw from that same pool. No one persons contributions being more or less than anothers. We each have our talents and abilities and all contribute to societies whole.

The theory of capitalism (which only works if a true free market condition exists) is also that everyones contributions count in some way, and everyone benefits to a certain degree. Its presumes that everyone is able to give their time or talent to something. However, capitalism in theory leaves a caveat that if an individual desires to go beyond that basic degree, then they should earn the benefit of their hard work. Or so it goes in theory.
However, the other presumption is that the general or community pot keeps getting a contribution.

If I decide my talent will be dairy farming, and I become the allotted dairy farmer, who purchases cows and hires people to milk and care for those cows, and hires people to can the milk and sell the milk, and then decide (when I'm the only major game in town) that I'm going to take all my cows and move to mexico where I can get people to milk and tend my cows for 1/10th of the wages, and set up my distribution system nationwide (because now I have 90% more money to work with) and sell my milk so cheaply that I put all the other farmers out of business, and make sure that any wanna be farmers won't be able to compete with me....ya see?

Not very free market is it? Never mind all of those former workers who are out of a job and now have no way of contributing their skills anymore.

Sound like the auto industry? Walmart? the textile industry? Family-turned-corporate farming? etc. etc.

The idea isn't supposed to be that you win all the marbles and take the marbles home with you - effectively making it impossible for anyone else to play the game.

Take the stock market for example.
"Insider information" was used to build the fortunes of this societies first millionaires: Kennedy, Vanderbuilt, Carnegie, Morgan etc. Yet as soon as Joe Kennedy became head of the SEC he banned insider trading as illegal. Hypocrite. This way "the little guy" would never have a real chance at amassing a fortune like he did. Yet how many of the wealthy "talk" to their CEO pals and make decisions based on the kind of "table talk" that the average person will never be privy to?

Communism, Capitalism...
what difference does it really make?
Everything in theory is an excellent idea.
The major design flaw in both systems is that human beings are involved. Greed has made both systems equally destructive to the society in which they are practiced. (actually ALL systems really)

I used to believe in all of that patriotic crap. But I can see that the truth of the free market system is that it requires and creates imbalances that ultimately cannot be corrected and it needs that in order to survive.

The common man does not have a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. protecting his own personal interests.

The ugly truth of our society lies in the artificial shortages and unfounded pricing set by those who control resources. Historically by force and slavery and later by exclusionary tactics and inequality of access.

My ex-Mr. Ham enlisted in Viet Nam for two tours of duty. When he came back after the second tour, he said he came back with his eyes opened to the truth of Viet Nam. Namely that young men were dying and being sacrificed to protect American Business interests.

This is the unfortunate truth of this country: that it was founded on lies and enslavement. It started with the native Indians, who were tricked into giving away their land, slaughtered by the government cavalry and killed and crippled by "gifts" of blankets infected with small pox, and the scourge and addiction of white man's alcohol. We made and broke peace treaty's with impunity. We destroyed a race of people and their nation.

The wealth and economy of this country was created first with slave labor from Africa and later with exploited and mistreated immigrants who were paid poverty wages without much choice in the matter.

The free market system means that very few individuals will win and many, many people will lose. The fact is, once the resources are controlled by a family or group, those resources are not available for anyone else - and it stays that way. Even if those resources were obtained in a less than noble or righteous manner.

Patriotism does not mean blind flag waving. I can look back into history and take an honest appraisal of the foundations of what greed and corruption have done in this country. It doesn't mean I love my country any less. However, I feel have a higher power that I owe my allegiance to. A universal law. And that requires when something is morally wrong, that am obligated to point it out. I don't consider myself a leftist or a rightist. I just am myself. I don't like greed and I don't like injustice. I don't care what the "system" it functions in is called. It's all just words. Exploitation and greed are exploitation and greed.

The bottom line is this: there will be no justice until the just judge comes. And then, I fear, many a "free marketeers" knees will tremble.

At Thu May 04, 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Badbeans said...

Another take on Mr. Gailbraith is here on this link.

At Thu May 04, 05:42:00 PM, Blogger Firestarter5 said...

"Communism is a utopia for the left."

"Capitalism rewards people for work."

These beliefs are the results of having a dish of bad beans for dinner.

At Thu May 04, 07:26:00 PM, Blogger Hamrose said...

Well, I agree with the statement about communism, but I'm not so sure capitalism does reward people for hard work. It seems like your tossed aside, or majorly shit on as soon as they get an opportunity to stick it to you.

I don't know. I just know that "we" don't seem to be a whole hell of a lot better than "them" and I always thought that we's disappointing and really makes me very sad. I don't like what I see out there. People are really going down, and it's not like they aren't trying to make it work. They are trying.

I don't know where it's all going to end. Corporate greed knows no bounds, and the sense of community, society and fair treatment has all but disappeared.

I will check out that link Bad beans...(I'm always willing to listen to what someone has to say.)

At Fri May 05, 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Badbeans said...

I am deducing from some of the comments that many associate capitalism with greed and shafting working Americans. And I also take it that most would believe that anyone who supports capitalism supports greed. But to the contrary.

Greed is a human emotion that everyone displays to some degree or other at some point in life or other. Fortunately, many overcome the greed that is part of the human condition. Some do not.

In a capitalistic economy, you are free to choose to where the fruits of your labors go. In a communist economy, the fruits of your labors go to the needs of others, or should I say the presumed needs of others. As is evident by our own socialistic programs within this country, many find ways to live off of the socialist systems rather than being productive members of society. Our socialist tendencies are reflected in tax policy, where the top 50% of income earners (as opposed to wealthiest Americans), pay over 90% of the income taxes. These parasites have more incentive to live off the government than to be productive. Those that are productive do so because they have drive and a willingness not only to work to earn more money for themselves, but also to provide jobs for other Americans, who will, in turn, be productive and earn higher return to the owner(s).

Christian charity teaches us that we should take care of those who cannot care for themselves. And if we do not freely choose to do so, then may the judgement of Almighty God find us. But, for those able, if a man does not work, then shall he eat?

Capitalism is the economic system by which people are free to be charitable or not. Charity is within itself a reward to him who gives freely. Capitalism also rewards those who work for what they earn. I can say that, in my own experience, I worked harder in college as opposed to high school since I worked to pay my own way through, while in high school all of my taxpaying benefactors footed the bill for the overpriced mandatory education that I received.

Communism requires that all parties buy in equally to the same notion freely, or else you are required by force. Capitalism allows for diversity and creativity in ideas and work choice.

But to say that I am in favor of greed, I say that I am not in favor of greed in any form or fashion. But I had rather endure the greed of one man than the greed of an oppressive government. And if you think we have it bad now with the one we have, ask someone in the former Soviet Union about their experience.

At Mon May 08, 07:26:00 PM, Blogger Hamrose said...

I take the lazy way out, I'm afraid. Just a few quotes from those more eloquent than I:

Samuel Strauss, a journalist and philosopher writing in the 1920s, suggested the term consumptionism to characterize this new way of life that, he said, created a person with
a philosophy of life that committed human beings to the production of more and more things—“more this year than last year, more next year than this”—and that emphasized the “standard of living” above all other values.
“From a moral point of view," Strauss continued,
it is obvious that Americans have come to consider their standard of living as a somewhat sacred acquisition, which they will defend at any price. This means that they would be ready to make many an intellectual or even moral concession in order to maintain that standard. (cited Leach 1993:266)

As Jack Weatherford (1997:11) noted:
Money constitutes the focal point of modern world culture. Money defines relationships among people, not just between customer and merchant in the marketplace or employer and laborer in the workplace. Increasingly in modern society, money defines relationships between parent and child, among friends, between politicians and constituents, among neighbors, and between clergy and parishioners. Money forms the central institutions of the modern market and economy, and around it are grouped the ancillary institutions of kinship, religion, and politics. Money is the very language of commerce for the modern world.
Furthermore, the culture of capitalism is being exported to all parts of the globe. Yet few people are aware of how the culture works and how it affects our lives and those of people all over the world—how American consumption, labor, and investment patterns relate to wages paid to women in Indonesia, the destruction of the rainforests in Paraguay, or the use of water on the American Plains. This is not necessarily the fault of the individual, for the culture of capitalism purposefully masks from its members the problems that result from its maintenance and spread.

The . . . metamessage of our time is that the commodity form is natural and inescapable. Our lives can only be well lived (or lived at all) through the purchase of particular commodities. Thus our major existential interest consists of maneuvering for eligibility to buy such commodities in the market. Further, we have been taught that it is right and just—ordained by history, human nature, and God—that the means of life in all its forms be available only as commodities. . . . Americans live in an overcommodified world, with needs that are generated in the interests of the market and that can be met only through the market.
—Stephen Fjellman, Vinyl Leaves:Walt Disney World and America

By many poor men that work early and late; If it were not for them that do our labor full hard
We might go and hang ourselves without regard. . . .
By these people’s labor we fill our purse.
If trading grows dead, we will presently show it,
But if it grows good, they shall never know it (seventeenth-century labor song).
—Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce

The capitalist system makes it very much easier for people not to realize
what they are doing, not to know about the danger and hardship, the
despair and humiliation, that their way of life implies for others.
—Edmund Wilson, The Shores of Light

Why must we be compared with Russia? A godless brutal nation that sells the lives and souls of its people for its constant pipe dream of some form of world domination.

Why can't we be compared to Switzerland or Norway? Nations who have managed to find some of the fairest and most compassionate ways of dealing with most of humanities many thorny and difficult issues. The Scandinavian countries are light years ahead of us in many ways, albeit they are not perfect either.


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