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Author Topic: An Experiment in Class about Socialism  (Read 2310 times)

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Offline Wheeler97

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #50 on: March 18, 2013, 11:15:56 AM »
I've read most of this thread, especially this second page.

Firstly, the "experiment" is decidedly bull----. I think that was established, as there is no evidence to suggest that it happened and it is also filled with fallacies or assumptions. It's a common argument and has just enough "logic" to make people believe it must be undoubtedly true.

Imagine a society where no one worried about money. We all worked for our own personal growth along with the betterment of ourselves and everyone around us. There is no famine, no poor, no greedy super-rich... Everyone has what they need to be happy and comfortable. Government is run by consensus and everyone gets an equal say and the decisions benefits all.

Does that sound BAD to anyone!? That's called Utopian Socialism/Communism. It can't really work here on Earth, yet, because we don't have a great means for achieving the political aspect of it (which is the Communism part). Anyone like Star Trek? Yeah, it's pretty much the same, aside from they got rid of money in that future (probably the smartest thing ever).

Socialism fails because of greed, in the most simple of my opinions (< key word). When we hold our own success and wants (not needs!) above those of everyone else, it creates a competition where there are always going to be winners and losers. When there is only so much in the world, those who get "more" do so at the cost of others getting "less." This problem is a lot simpler in Star Trek as their Replicators can build most of anything a person *needs* and it uses matter, which for all intents and purposes means there's an unlimited supply available to a space-traveling society (then you hit the rarer stellar materials and get wars :P). Hmmm... I've realized, as well, that the bad guys of the Federation are usually the ones taking advantage of the system for power/position/fame (all greed!!!).

Okay, I'll stop with the Star Trek analogies...

Anyhow, to comment on my opinion of the current state of U.S. or global economics, I'll suggest a short video that does a great job of simplifying things.

Look up "Wealth Inequality in America" on Youtube.

Short story? We don't need Socialism, and we don't even need the "Ideal" that most Americans believe the income disparity should be. If only the disparity were as bad as people *think* it is, everyone would be more satisfied than the actuality. The top 5% would be a little worse off, but still have far more than their needs, and just as much more than their actual work effort justifies.

Thanks for indulging me.

Offline OutoftheDust

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #51 on: March 19, 2013, 03:32:58 PM »
I have heard several anecdotes from friends and relatives who have been through basic training, and they all relate instances wherein the whole unit is punished for the failure of one or two. If the one or two continually fail, they face consequences from their peers as well as from their superiors. They then either shape up or wash out.

Military psychology is no joke.

No joke indeed, I can vouch for this personally. I bumbled around training, especially PT, in my first week, and the ones that motivated me to do better were my equals, not my superiors. Nothing makes you feel worse than knowing you've let someone down, and nothing's more rewarding than being part of a whole when you've got that whole indoctrination machine running in your subconscious mind, day in, day out. An instructor of mine used to refer to it as "The Chain of Consequences," rather than the Chain of Command. Something to the tune of "In the Army, the [expletive] flows uphill, downhill, sideways, and back where it came from, all at the same time." The idea was that everyone is accountable for everyone. It creates a chain with fewer weak links.

Smart working philosophy, but very high stress.

Offline mia h

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #52 on: March 19, 2013, 05:53:04 PM »
Like other people have said anything that includes the phrase "Obama's socialism" is complete crap and really should either be ignored.
The morons that came up with little fable mistake socialism with equality of outcome, which is something that never happened even in Communist Russia as miners took home higher wages than doctors. If "Obama's socialism" is about anything then it's about equality of opportunity so it needs a bit of a rewrite :

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never had a class where hadn't failed 50% of a class for being below average, but recently he had a class where more than 50% of the students passed. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and it was a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan. Instead of grading on a curve with extra marks being handed out for the size of the
donations your parents have made to the college, and will have to keep making to the college if you don't want kicking out, you'll be graded on the work that you actually do."

After the first test there was a real shock, the students with rich parents all got F's because they weren't used to studying having previously bought their A grades. The students with poor parents also didn't do that well, they weren't used to studying either because they knew from previous experience that no matter how hard they worked they'd still get an F. The students with middle income parents, well instead of them all fighting amongst themselves over who got a C or a D grade they got all kinds of results ranging from A to F, it all depended on how hard they worked and their aptitude for economics.

When the results for the second test rolled around the students with parents on middle incomes still got a wide range of results. The students with poor parents saw that there was a chance they could pass and so they all worked harder, some grades improved some stayed the same. The students with rich parents all still got F's, because instead of studying they bitched and moaned about how the college was taking their parents money and then still expected them to learn something.

Then it came to the third and final test, something remarkable happened, students from all income brackets got all kinds of grades from A to F, 60% managed a passing grade. The poor and middle income students realised that when there was a level playing field what they could achieve was only limited by their talent and work ethic, the rich students realised the same thing and those that failed went off to try and buy a work ethic.

Offline Vekseid

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #53 on: March 19, 2013, 06:13:54 PM »
I want to state that none of those points are mine. I saw this on facebook and thought it was worth sharing.
Believe me, no such experiment will end with straight A's.

If you actually applied Marx's logic in such an experiment, everyone, in every such experiment, would end up with the maximum possible grade, every single time.

This is because pure Marxism only works when the cost of sharing is near-zero, and a classroom setting is just such a case. Marx himself acknowledges this.

Elliquiy works the same way. The marginal cost of someone participating on E is about twenty-five cents a month (not counting my, but that's a different matter). But that's only because the cost is largely fixed. Move to a new server, population could expand thirty-fold, and the marginal cost becomes about 1 cent per person. Of course, there is a problem - not everyone can pay that in a matter that makes it worth it. Most payment services charge a base of 30 cents or so per transaction, plus a percentage fee.

Meaning, going with a 'for pay Elliquiy' makes zero sense economically, even ignoring that members add value for Elliquiy's donors simply by contributing. If I charged 50 cents a month, I wouldn't even break even, as more than half my revenue would be lost by transaction fees. It costs so little to take someone on - why not? Maybe they know someone, or contribute something that convinces someone to donate. And if they don't, maybe one of their friends will. I do want to do some sort of value-added service, eventually, but something that I'm not budging on is people have to be able and happy to spend time here, for free.


Offline Kythia

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Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #54 on: March 19, 2013, 06:41:39 PM »
If you actually applied Marx's logic in such an experiment, everyone, in every such experiment, would end up with the maximum possible grade, every single time.

This is because pure Marxism only works when the cost of sharing is near-zero, and a classroom setting is just such a case. Marx himself acknowledges this.


With caveats.  It does require that the product is perfectly sharable though.  That is, that I as the brightest student in the class can perfectly transfer my knowledge to you as the weakest and that there is no, errrr, no barrier to that.  The most obvious one being that weaker students may not be able to understand the concepts.  I'd water your statement down to "the maximum grade that individual is capable of achieving" rather than "the maximum possible grade"

Offline Vekseid

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #55 on: March 19, 2013, 07:43:50 PM »
Was what I intended to mean by maximum possible, but you'll also often end up in situations where student A knows one answer and student B another, so you'll get better results than the brightest student. We also call these things 'team exercises'. There are certainly slackers in those situations (don't we all know...) but they tend to get bit more often than they succeed.

Offline OutoftheDust

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #56 on: March 19, 2013, 10:28:01 PM »
And I think anyone, anywhere, who wants to bring up Marxism will have to immediately differentiate the politics and ethics supported in a work like Das Kapital or the Manifesto from the dumbed-down epithet that labeling someone a "Marxist" has become. I don't pick sides on politics often, but it's discouraging to me when half of the population uses a word they clearly don't understand to describe, denigrate, and dismiss an entire half of the political spectrum without any reasonable debate to be had. Gotta love buzzwords. They're handier than critical thought.

I think Vekseid and Kythia's comments pretty much sum it up. The theory of trickle-down economics doesn't work in reality, and its application in hypothetical chain-emails about the classroom setting is even questionable. The hardest working among us don't often get to the top: ask anyone you know who trims hedges or lays brick if they sweat for their minimum wage like the speculator does for his eight figures, or the banker.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #57 on: March 19, 2013, 10:33:19 PM »
On a related note to what Dust said: The first cry you tend to hear about 'socialism', as exemplified by the OP, is "Freeloaders!" Well... what do you call somebody who lives primarily off of passive income, made by shuffling money around and adding no real wealth to the system? (Ask Spain about the difference between money and wealth sometime. It learned that lesson the hard way about four hundred years ago.)

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #58 on: March 20, 2013, 08:20:36 AM »
The Freeloaders argument always seems so baseless.  People often comment about how hard work puts people forward in the United States, but often times I see people working multiple jobs just to put food on the table.  Research has shown that the average work time of a citizen in the United States has increased while the wage gap between rich and poor continues to increase as well.  If working hard meant making more money and success, then the gap should be shrinking.  People inside the United States work harder and for relatively less money.  During the 1950s a single income household could provide for a house, car and stable source of food and entertainment.  Now a two income household works longer hours to provide below that standard of living. 

What people do not realize about Capitalism is that the system becomes rigged.  People judge their wealth based on what others around them have and so wealth becomes relative.  More is always wanted because the person beside has more.  So in order to stay on top and keep amassed wealth, barriers are put into place to keep others from rising to the top.  Trick down economics lead to a similar problem because people at the top do not get there by spending money unwisely.  The money received at the top stayed there because those business owners and entrepreneurs then invested the money into things like research (particularly automated systems to replace the workers trick down economics is supposed to help) and into outsourcing projects.  Poor people get a tax return and go buy a nice dinner or splurge for a television because this is a rare luxury.  Rich people take their money and invest to make more; they do not run out to buy an expensive dinner they already enjoy.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #59 on: March 20, 2013, 04:00:15 PM »
May I ask this say we have a society of ten million adult citizens and I decide to focus on being the best poet I can be, I write one poem a month and recite it in the town to other citizens. In return I get a small place to live and basic support, lets say I get from gratuities $500 a month so I get some extras (a small apartment, medical care and access to affordable mass transit).

Why would my work be not valuable to society even if to many its on the surface minimal work labor hours or easy to monitor economic value?


Offline Kythia

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Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #60 on: March 20, 2013, 06:43:19 PM »
May I ask this say we have a society of ten million adult citizens and I decide to focus on being the best poet I can be, I write one poem a month and recite it in the town to other citizens. In return I get a small place to live and basic support, lets say I get from gratuities $500 a month so I get some extras (a small apartment, medical care and access to affordable mass transit).

Why would my work be not valuable to society even if to many its on the surface minimal work labor hours or easy to monitor economic value?

I'm sorry, Ruby, I haven't a clue what you're asking.  From the above set up your work clearly is valuable to society.  That's why, you know, they're paying you.  $500 plus extra a month.  That seems like its pretty much the definition of valuable to society, in that its a service society is willing to pay for.

Have I misunderstood you?  Your question seems to be "Lets say I have this job that society values, why would that not be valuable to society?"

Offline RubySlippers

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #61 on: March 20, 2013, 07:03:07 PM »
Because that seems the mindset of the Right you can be the poet, make $500 but try to live on that when its clear you can't without help and they want to remove the "help". In fact any work can fall into that where its not important. That is the ideal of socialism the society would provide for the poet who in turn contributes to society creating poetry. Everyone contributing what they can and getting back what they need.

Lets go extreme her Bob the Poet makes one poem a year and in return he expects the government to provide a basic level of support since his profession is a poet, would he be of value if the government provided say benefits at the poverty line plus Medicaid for this work?

Offline Kythia

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Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #62 on: March 20, 2013, 07:13:36 PM »
Because that seems the mindset of the Right you can be the poet, make $500 but try to live on that when its clear you can't without help and they want to remove the "help". In fact any work can fall into that where its not important. That is the ideal of socialism the society would provide for the poet who in turn contributes to society creating poetry. Everyone contributing what they can and getting back what they need.

Lets go extreme her Bob the Poet makes one poem a year and in return he expects the government to provide a basic level of support since his profession is a poet, would he be of value if the government provided say benefits at the poverty line plus Medicaid for this work?

I am really unclear where you're going with this.  In your first example, the poet received a wage.  Fine.  Clearly someoen values his work or he wouldn't be getting one.

Your second example though, I don't understand.  Bob writes one poem a year and expects government benefits for that.  Well, OK, Bob can expect whatever he wants but thats not the issue.  I'd suggest we're using "profession" differently - in your second example the only income he gets is from the government so he's clearly, to my definition, not a professional poet. He earns no money from poetry.  Is your question "Is poetry of value to society?" because thats kinda the only one I can tease out.

I get that analogies and examples can be illuminating but honestly in this case I think they're just obscuring something and I can't for the life of me tell what. 

Offline RubySlippers

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #63 on: March 20, 2013, 07:36:27 PM »
Under a classic socialist model society gives to the person what he or she needs and in return he or she gives what they are able. In that case Bob the Poet would produce masterworks of his art say ten poems in his lifetime and participate as a poet in society promoting poetry and in return the society would provide for Bob the Poet freeing him to be a poet. 

Its not obscuring Marx leads to that as does most if not all socialist theory. So I would say the very experiment was flawed since no one would have to participate at all especially under the writings of Paul Lafargue work would be passť for ones passions the scientist would be one not for money but they enjoy it, the cook would enjoy cooking and so forth with technology taking over for dangerous and drudgery.

Offline Randall Flagg

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #64 on: June 08, 2013, 09:21:07 PM »
I think there would need to be terms in place as to the value of one's work and then that person would be rewarded for that value.

I believe that everyone should be valued equally, but what they do should not... rather, it should not just be up to the individual to state what their value should be.

Bob the Poet can't just say, "Well I think my poetry is soooo good that I should only have to work for 15 minutes and spit out some verse and then not have to worry about things for the rest of the year."
Well good for Bob for thinking so highly of himself. I don't really share his value. In fact, I don't really like ol' Bob's poetry at all, because all Bob does is re-hash Lord Byron. 

See what I'm saying? This line of thinking is subjective. Yeah, I get it... it's hard to put a value on conceptual things like poetry, writing, and art. I don't know how to solve this problem either. I mean who gets to decide that value?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #65 on: June 08, 2013, 10:21:26 PM »
There is no reason we should be forced to work much if we focus on essential needs and let microbusiness fill wants, people should get by on very part time hours the goal should be to use automation and technology to end the need for work free society to focus on things they want to do. So Bob the Poet would just have to go over here and get a meal from the cook-o-bots, could go to bed in a free housing unit and do poetry that is what he does and pick up an outfit at a commissary.

The ideal end of true communism is to end want and free humanity to enjoy existence.

Offline Randall Flagg

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #66 on: June 08, 2013, 10:26:48 PM »
woops.

My bad, I thought we were discussing things that are possible in the here and now.

What you are talking about doesn't exist.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: An Experiment in Class about Socialism
« Reply #67 on: June 17, 2013, 03:39:48 PM »
But pure socialism leads to Communism in the end many Post-Marxist theorists think work should be passť for what people choose to do. Why should in the end people have to work but if they must society needs to only produce enough goods to meet needs and a small free market could provide wants, but it would mean a shift from a Consumer society to a new model I would call one of Equilibrium. Maybe some surplus in some areas for some choices and to save goods fore emergencies.

And such societies did exist most Pacific Island nations before the West ruined them had a good balance work to meet needs and leisure time ample as well.