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Author Topic: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?  (Read 5963 times)

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Offline KateTopic starter

Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« on: October 09, 2009, 03:49:04 AM »
This is a tangent from the abortion thread concerning "rights" associated with an assumed "right of ownership" or "Rights of behavior"

As such it may touch of implications of rights concerning controversial topics - such that concerning abortion, wealth, inheritance and "right to own interpretation" please expect some passionate responses.

Remember meaning is subjective, anything that "seems personal" is a choice - where you can "take" it personally ... or not.

I do beleive that the ownership is destructive generally, it has its place but capitalism or trade / relationship agreements based on ownership is a barrier for utopia.

Are human "Rights" dependent on a shared concept of "owning" ?

Will striving for Utopia be easier while "ownership" concepts are embraced ? or happen in easier strides with if dispensed with ?

I hope those who here all are "chasing utopia" and want to share different views on how that can be done - for issues concerning "ownership"

« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 04:02:14 AM by Kate »

Offline Revolverman

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2009, 04:19:21 AM »
I believe Human Rights are built on Ownership as in I own my body, my mind, and my soul.

It's also human rights to have a choice if you want to share what you have. If you make someone who doesn't want to give up what they have, for the good of the group, has that person not just had their rights violated?

Offline The Overlord

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2009, 06:53:49 AM »

Although some philosophies and political or religious entities will tell you otherwise, bear in mind that no establishment of authority can ‘give’ or’ take’ your rights.

Other humans simply don’t have that kind of authority, they can only allow or deny your pursuit of your rights.

Offline Revolverman

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2009, 07:00:22 AM »
Although some philosophies and political or religious entities will tell you otherwise, bear in mind that no establishment of authority can ‘give’ or’ take’ your rights.

Other humans simply don’t have that kind of authority, they can only allow or deny your pursuit of your rights.

I don't know. A gunshot to the head seems like a fairly total taking of someone's rights.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2009, 07:45:59 AM »
The concept of ownership is supposed to be derived from the right to control the product of your own labor.

The problem with revoking ownership - communism - is that it does not recognize the will of agents to better themselves. How do you prevent someone from creating on their own?

This is different from the concept that we need to provide a baseline so that people can climb back up from poverty - naive capitalism (libertarianism), in contrast to communism, does not recognize the benefit of a governing authority. Given the same initial conditions, groups that cooperate will overcome those that do not. They win. The end.

The truth is, by game theory, some problems are best solved with ownership - your tools and the clothes on your back. Some problems are best solved preventing said ownership - a limited patent or copyright. "Utopia" in part will depend on your specific definition of the phrase, but no matter how you do so, achieving it will not be a single magic bullet answer to every problem presented.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2009, 07:53:12 AM »
If "gun shot in the head" is taking away someones "rights to their body" it does assume
your soul "owns" the body. Also what you call "you" (soul or no so) has rights to it, a value all who are "civil" should agree with.

I think the idea of ownership isn't needed to encourage what is sociable.

Some American Indian tribes (with staggering personal paranormal abilities if true ie self-improvement ) didn't have ownership as the west understands it yet they still got along. I think this is due to them having shamans or wise men and woman that instill values of that what is "else" to what you feel you are is sacred and somethings "them", but that sometimes even bodies can be used by more than one soul.

Like an "angry spirit" is possessing you if your furious. We beleive that these come from "us" as we are told that emotions (energy-in-motion) comes from "us", owned by "us" and we are responsible for it. Those with strong will power may have more power to "repress" these "anger spirits" and may develop methods to be less inclined to be tempted by them.

I feel when "you and I" are merged (Which feels true when your in love with another that loves you back) things work in harmony more, there is no need to distinguish who owns what - everything is shared - and wonders come from it - mainly happiness.

If you "own your mind" then all thoughts are yours ? Even if you are traumatised by someone else intentionally ? Or under hypnosis ? Who "owns it" ? if it does something "bad" in the view of another should it be you that is punished for it because it was your choice (even if you beleive its not true).

*
Communism vs non-ownership.

Most forms of communisim use "ownership" concepts of the state.
The "State" owns your work, furthermore "the state" "owns" authority, it owns "rights", it owns land it ... "owns", its a transferal of ownership from the individual to a collective and not really an example of a lack of ownership in practice.

There is will of agents to better themselves that are not financial, but cultural.
Some people want to heal the world - because the have a drive to not necessarily because they get money doing so. Artists are the same, many people passionate about creating are like that.

Utopia is an environment of subjective heaven, where society changes itself to cater for as many subjective wishes as possible.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 07:54:20 AM by Kate »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2009, 08:30:29 AM »
I'm not sure if you are conflating a lack of free will with lack of ownership or what. Free will is a silly concept, whether or not a soul exists.

Quote from: Kate
Most forms of communisim use "ownership" concepts of the state.
The "State" owns your work, furthermore "the state" "owns" authority, it owns "rights", it owns land it ... "owns", its a transferal of ownership from the individual to a collective and not really an example of a lack of ownership in practice.

Beyond about two hundred people - and usually well before then - it becomes difficult for everyone to keep track of everyone else's individual needs and utility, so a state of some sort ends up forming or the society divides.

Hunter-gatherer communities do pretty well for themselves in an open environment. They can't compete with agricultural communities, however, and so agriculture rules the world and will for at least the next decade. Algaculture presents an interesting possibility to return to such a tightly-knit lifestyle, but it won't be the end of 'ownership'.

Quote
There is will of agents to better themselves that are not financial, but cultural.
Some people want to heal the world - because the have a drive to not necessarily because they get money doing so. Artists are the same, many people passionate about creating are like that.

If someone's will to better themselves is solely for financial gain, that's pretty malformed. Collecting promissory notes for the sake of collecting them leads to the desire to do that as efficiently as possible - by skimming a little bit off of mass trades, misrepresenting them entirely, usury, etc. We've known some of this stuff is just plain bad for thousands of years now.

Ultimately, what makes you a person, ideally, is setting a goal for yourself above and beyond sustenance or reproduction.

Quote
Utopia is an environment of subjective heaven, where society changes itself to cater for as many subjective wishes as possible.

You don't necessarily need a society for that.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2009, 10:06:51 AM »
...please take abortion talk to the abortion thread, thank you.

Offline NSEMinion

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2009, 11:57:40 AM »
I don't believe a human Utopian society is possible, no matter who "owns" what.  The human species as a whole is too complex, with emotions, needs and wants conflicting.

Merriam-Webster defines utopia as a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions.

The problem is that humans are inherently imperfect.  "Perfection" itself is too subjective, ideal perfection changes from one person to another.
Our needs may be the same (by needs I'm referring only to what we as a person need to exist: water, air, food, shelter from elements.); but our wants and our emotional responses differ too greatly from each other to allow a Utopian society to thrive.

A person could say we "own" our wants and emotions, but are we capable of giving those up to governmental control?  It would be easy to allow government or society to fulfill our needs, but not so easy to allow society to dictate what we want and how we feel.  That would be the ultimate removal of free will.  History shows us examples of societies attempting to do this.  It also shows us that people won't tolerate it for long.

We might be able to tolerate governmental ownership of physical property:goods, land, services; but when it begins to dictate what we want, or feel, or how to think, it eliminates our free will.  (It's such an innate part of my existence, that I cannot view it as a silly concept.)

The only way to do so, would be to completely eliminate our emotions, which in turn would eliminate our wants, leaving only our physical needs.  We could then have a Utopian society, but it wouldn't be human.

Offline Kotah

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2009, 02:36:20 PM »
Let me start out with a fact. I am a communist. More directly I am a Marxist/Trotskyist. Now, I want to go father to clarify I am not a Stalinist (Russia), or a Maoist (China).

I am also not bringing myself into this as a recipe book for perfect communism and utopia. I believe in dialectics, or the idea that everything is ever evolving. In my mind, Socialism, and the eventual Communism are the two next necessary steps of society.

As for addressing ownership. Communism simply doesn't mean that you can't own a TV. There is such a thing as private ownership in both Socialism and Communism. The main former change of ownership is the means of production. You would own that factory that you work at. The people that tell you what to do would be elected into those positions by the workers of said factory. The wages would be democratically decided based off of the income of the factory, sales, and number of employees. For all employees. Even the boss. That is the idea behind how it is supposed to work.

Before I am told that it doesn't work, it does. There are worker controlled factories in several countries. What happened in soviet Russia  was, well, a really stupid mistake on... well... Let's just say fuck Stalin. Stupid jerk. Mao too. Great leap forward my cherry hind parts.

You would still work your job, still have a boss, and still have a paycheck. There simply isn't a fat cat sitting on top of it all, and taking the spoils of your labor.

You would still own your house. Your car. Your TV.


Offline The Overlord

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2009, 04:16:33 PM »
I don't know. A gunshot to the head seems like a fairly total taking of someone's rights.

A lot of us are capable of doing that, and we don’t all work for the powers that be.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2009, 10:28:24 PM »
Beyond about two hundred people - and usually well before then - it becomes difficult for everyone to keep track of everyone else's individual needs and utility, so a state of some sort ends up forming or the society divides.

- Good then perhaps this fact can be used to model how large suburbs should be. And a "city" is a loose collection of whatever the suburbs feel should be organised at a higher tier.

Kotah I am glad your with us and thankyou for clarifying ownership views of communism ideally.

Frankly Im more "left" then "right" for many major reasons, I have not read into communisim as much as you but I beleive that its not as bad as many say. It "feels right" somehow. There is a strong argoument that "anti-captialism=comunism=doesn't work"
... this view annoys me - luckily I beleive none have voiced it here.
If it is I would reply "dude capitalism doesn't work!"
(and communism isn't really represented well by some of its worst manifestations where it is corrupt and you dont have anything approaching benevolence at the top).

I guess utopia I should loosen the conditions for and be closer to its formal definition of being an ideal the society strives for.

Also "getting to utopia" and "what its like once you there" may be very different. Places like austria and denmark are very "left"
(I dont really understand the difference between socialism and communism - any that want to explain the difference please do).

I think that something "very left" is more workable when the country
is very rich already (ie austria). High tax rates is transitory - theoretically (Ie the Culture series written by ian m banks). I think capitalism is good for getting country off the ground, but it does
cause massive social-economic class differences later that is worse than unrest - it becomes systematic and the tools the country has to change things are diminished.

The move for ameria to be a bit more left (hearing usa complain about a 5 percent tax increase when its already soooo low compared to other countries doesnt really weird. Taxwise ameria is one step away from a tax sanctuary like the caman islands), from the rest of the world generally things america should embrace ombama's view on the health system.

Vekseid - you mentioned to ruby to please take abortian issues out of this thread - can you please retract that request and let her ?

The reason why I want her to do so (even though i disagree with her views) is so this thread can be used as a discussion concerning the implications of "ownership" in its extreme (ie personal and economic, inheritance, abortion etc ) - abortion being one topic I do want to allow being graced. Yes it opens options for massive tangents - can this please be permitted.

The idea of "ownership of rights" for abortion issues was requested to be taken to another thread - and is why this thread exists.

Creating one narrow subject thread of "ownership-rights and abortion" is not my preference as I do want to permit views of ownership in its own right to clarify some points (which would be deemed off topic if such a thread was made)
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 10:47:21 PM by Kate »

Offline Zakharra

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2009, 10:35:38 PM »
 Abortion is it's own issue and rightly needs to be spun off on it's own thread. The topic here seems to be more concerned about personal and property ownership.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2009, 10:51:32 PM »
lol thats poetic

A disagreement on the "right" thread for "abortion-ownership" context to be forum'ed.

Seems the subject of "distinction" (where you draw the line between two things)
relates highly to ownership.


Offline RubySlippers

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2009, 11:33:07 PM »
Then explain Peru they gave property rights to the poor, making informal deals and ownership official, freeing up credit and they have had a higher economic growth rate of 4.3% over the last 15 years. That beat ALL other South American nations I will point out. They had related reforms like starting a business with a license in one day and bank loan regulations to protect the poor but it worked.

In other poor nations the poor don't own property or have far fewer advantages including in the US. So I would say ownership is vital to the poor so they can have credit and meaningful options in most nations of land and other assets. Its as important as education for me and sound law enforcement.


Offline Vekseid

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2009, 12:11:48 AM »
Vekseid - you mentioned to ruby to please take abortian issues out of this thread - can you please retract that request and let her ?

As you wish. It can be difficult to maintain a dialectic without keeping a narrow focus, is all.

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2009, 01:12:34 AM »
thanks gods.

I know having a vague topic is encouraging a tangent mess but i would prefer that than those not able to talk about a subject to clarify a view they have.

Slippers - can you just add at the beginning of your post who you were responding to ? (you and I seem to come from different schools of thought on many issues - i saw something hinting we may find agreement on something controversial - i hope so)

« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 01:14:21 AM by Kate »

Offline Zakharra

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2009, 11:58:40 AM »
lol thats poetic

A disagreement on the "right" thread for "abortion-ownership" context to be forum'ed.

Seems the subject of "distinction" (where you draw the line between two things)
relates highly to ownership.

  It is a type of ownership, of ones own body, but the abortion issue is highly contentious and brings out the feral nature in discussions on both sides of that issue. If it's discussed in here, it'll take up a majority of the posts and topic. As Vekseid said, any abortion discussion should be referred to that topic's own thread and not in here.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2009, 12:30:22 PM »
With certain exceptions, the thread starter should be in control of the direction of their thread. I just misinterpreted her will in the matter. At the same time, if P&R fills with abortion derailing then I reserve the right to act >_>

- Good then perhaps this fact can be used to model how large suburbs should be. And a "city" is a loose collection of whatever the suburbs feel should be organised at a higher tier.

Some things take more than a few hundred people to make right now. Civilizations that make use of that will, currently, perform better. You want a group of people small enough to care about each individual need and value but large enough to be a political force. That's... difficult.

Quote
Frankly Im more "left" then "right" for many major reasons, I have not read into communisim as much as you but I beleive that its not as bad as many say. It "feels right" somehow. There is a strong argoument that "anti-captialism=comunism=doesn't work"
... this view annoys me - luckily I beleive none have voiced it here.
If it is I would reply "dude capitalism doesn't work!"
(and communism isn't really represented well by some of its worst manifestations where it is corrupt and you dont have anything approaching benevolence at the top).

Well no. Communism is not too far form corporatism, really. There are a lot of social experiments businesses are doing to keep subunit sizes small, to account for this, but ultimately past a couple hundred people, there will be someone that any one person does not care for - cannot afford to care for, even, and taking this to millions of people is insanely difficult. Taking it to billions is impossible with human minds guiding things.

Quote
I think that something "very left" is more workable when the country
is very rich already (ie austria). High tax rates is transitory - theoretically (Ie the Culture series written by ian m banks). I think capitalism is good for getting country off the ground, but it does
cause massive social-economic class differences later that is worse than unrest - it becomes systematic and the tools the country has to change things are diminished.

Once you get to the point where you harness the power of a star (or more, in the case of the Culture), having a human in charge of things is tantamount to genocide. There is the matter of creating the intelligence that controls that - you do not lose the need for trust.

Quote
The move for ameria to be a bit more left (hearing usa complain about a 5 percent tax increase when its already soooo low compared to other countries doesnt really weird. Taxwise ameria is one step away from a tax sanctuary like the caman islands), from the rest of the world generally things america should embrace ombama's view on the health system.

Health care reform is largely the health insurance lobby, against everyone else with any sense. They are effectively a parasite on the American economy. There are additional measures that should be taken - rewarding cures and the quality of them rather than treatments, for example.

As for tax rates, we effectively tax transactions, rather than the retention of currency or property. I would set income tax to zero if I was deciding such things.

Offline kylie

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Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2009, 12:06:26 PM »
First since you started from abortion:  I did not attempt to read that entire thread.  I have some views on it, but the opening questions seemed terribly loaded and imprecise to me.  At one point, the mods poked in and said, stick to the opening questions.  I felt that doing so would actually exacerbate the length and messiness of the going exercise.  However, I am interested in this thread more generally.

Quote from: Kate
I do beleive [sic] that the ownership is destructive generally, it has its place but capitalism or trade / relationship agreements based on ownership is a barrier for utopia.
     I suppose it may depend on what sort of agreements you have in mind, and what mechanism you think sustains the "barrier."  For example, Marx's concept of historical materialism would say that workers may gain class conciousness through a heightened sense of exploitation in dense and particularly exploited urban concentrations.  After which, they would have a need to create some institutions to ensure that the means of production (and goods / proceeds) were distributed more equitably.  Eventually -- although I don't think he was very clear about this part -- this bureaucratic communism would give way to a more utopian, more technically classless structure where such broad monitoring was no longer necessary.

Quote
 
Are human "Rights" dependent on a shared concept of "owning" ?   
     I think this question might be more focused with an example of what you have in mind.  There are likely to be some disparate takes on what human rights might be, and whether all those are actually enforced, practical to pursue, or desirable.  What the US has (erratically) pushed on the international level as human rights?  Freedom of speech in the abstract?  Right to be an eccentric living in the mountains if it (purportedly) harm no one else?  On and on.

Quote
  Will striving for Utopia be easier while "ownership" concepts are embraced ? or happen in easier strides with if dispensed with ? 
     From a social psychological perspective, we all attempt to assume a certain ownership of others' bodies whenever we expect that they should react in certain ways.  If we accept that 1) our current economic and legal ideas of ownership are centered around private property and 2) that the pursuit of utopia calls for some change of symbols and organization which better serves public good...  Then, in this social psychological sense, with regard to the interactional level, it is impossible not to proceed via claims of ownership.  I could have stuck with #2 alone and kept ownership in there...  But, I think many Western people would need a radically historical and comparative education to have this discussion without speaking through "public versus private."  As things stand, there is enough folk inertia and conservative resistance that we're often talking back around #1. 

Quote
I hope those who here all are "chasing utopia" and want to share different views on how that can be done - for issues concerning "ownership"
     "Utopia" always seems to need some conceptual outline, so with the usual caveat that we'd know it better if only our society evolved such that we had more of it, already...

     There may be a better model out there, but for the moment I'm curious about Marx's concept of species being.  It may be somewhat vague, but as a matter of principle, what kind of social order would allow more people to carry out work of their own choice?  And somewhat by extension, to lead lifestyles much more broadly fulfilling to them?  I say "by extension" because work has come to be associated with the whole organization of time and thus determines where people go, how they present themselves, who they can meet when, etc.  I am rather interested in Marcuse's work:  Marcuse emphasizes that we do have technical means to provide a higher standard of living for many more people than currently allotted, and that the use of sexual repression to secure industriousness is problematic. 

     So I suppose my minimal requirements for utopia are 1) higher standard of living for everyone, and 2) more people doing things that make them happy, more of the time.  I tend to think that #2 would mean we need to rethink our models of the market and of sexuality and communication.  Explicitly deconstructing the fallacious public-private divide is part of this: Everything is politically public.  That notion is leveraged the moment anyone else's sense of "propriety" (think, property) is put in play.  [Edit, adds: ]  Whether there is agreement or disagreement, this is about a shared and often socially institutionalized line dedicating things -- and behaviors, whole ways of being -- that could have otherwise been shared or contested, to one side or the other. 

     The management of time is also due for revision.  Our current leading classes win largely by having "free" time to artistically reframe arguments and (where they are more entrenched in the system) to manipulate and rewrite institutional rules.  The uber-wealthy in particular win over time because the model of reward through capital accumulation is virtually endless: All they have to do is keep funds away from everyone else, leverage existing disparity to profit from sale of soon-expended items, and reinvest both interest and profit.  Issues of the day need not matter, short of global catastrophe, because the capital is saved and can easily be relocated through the labor of less valuable people-hours and differentially more vulnerable societies elsewhere.  We need a model of productivity that incorporates more local values, shorter-term security for the many (defined as something happier than credit bubble/subsistence in the West and mass squalor in the South) and translates those with regional or larger systems that manage environmental sustainability and a modicum of peace. 
« Last Edit: October 17, 2009, 12:31:05 PM by kylie »

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2009, 11:40:54 PM »
Kylie - excellent.

I adore your perspective.

I share your view on time and agree that culturally sexuality has been used in a manner to feed the capitalistic engine - on all fronts. Just an add depicting more success or harmony with the other gender if "so and so happened or if you "buy our product" - in the west its culturally linked and causes distress for all.

I think wealth (money) implies buying power - you can "buy time" or resources or property ... ownership etc. Strangely where it came from makes it colorless, due to its nature deserving is completely dispensed with.

Some are wealthy because they stole it from another or exploited the poor or something.
Some countries are wealthy due to Jewish gold they couldn't claim after WWII... yet onces its money its "liquid" - ownership is 9 tenths of the law, deserving of ownership is not really addressed systematically.

During war time you get coupons ... X coupons for necessity 1, Y coupons for necessity 2 and so on .. how many coupons you have is determined by how many are in your family.

I like this idea that there is more "color" to different types of money exchanges, a type of money that effectively is coupons for a CONTEXT.... Ideally I would adore to see a trail society where you get "money for necessities" and different money for luxuries...
Debatable this is the case for selective taxation - but not really as you have mentioned
those that are already wealthy or have free time have the luxury to look into methods for managing money to minimize tax - or simply hire someone that does it for you - so the divide between the rich and poor isn't solved that way.

All thoughts on this issue is interesting other than hearing "Captialism works" ... capitalism in its current climate is not sustainable - and does lead to the environmental issues we face now "individual growth at the cost of the many" is unchecked.


Offline Asuras

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2009, 11:52:07 AM »
Quote from: Kate
During war time you get coupons ... X coupons for necessity 1, Y coupons for necessity 2 and so on .. how many coupons you have is determined by how many are in your family.

I like this idea that there is more "color" to different types of money exchanges, a type of money that effectively is coupons for a CONTEXT.... Ideally I would adore to see a trail society where you get "money for necessities" and different money for luxuries...

I agree that people shouldn't have to be completely on their own when it comes to necessities, but I think there are better ways of helping out with that. I don't understand the advantage of handing out coupons, having an entire bureaucracy dedicated to do that, and dictating how much an individual or a family is going to spend on food - why don't we just give them a guaranteed minimum income in cash, and let them figure out how they want to spend it? If they want to spend that much on food, fine, but if they want to save a bit more or spend on education, then I'm for that.

Quote from: Kate
Debatable this is the case for selective taxation - but not really as you have mentioned
those that are already wealthy or have free time have the luxury to look into methods for managing money to minimize tax - or simply hire someone that does it for you - so the divide between the rich and poor isn't solved that way.

When we had more progressive income taxes in the postwar period, income distributions in western countries flattened. Income taxes worked.

And the rich people really do pay taxes - there's tax havens and so on, yeah, but taxes do work:



The main reason that the rich get richer is not because they avoid taxes (they pay more in taxes) or have better money managers (anyone with $100 can save in an index fund, and there's a very famous book in finance which shows that actively managed funds underperform humble, passively managed index funds). Some of them are just plain lucky; but I'd say that most it comes from the fact that they simply save a larger proportion of their income. And that's easy to do if food+housing is a tiny part of expenses.

Quote from: Kate
All thoughts on this issue is interesting other than hearing "Captialism works" ... capitalism in its current climate is not sustainable - and does lead to the environmental issues we face now "individual growth at the cost of the many" is unchecked.

Do you have to scrap capitalism to make the modern way of life sustainable? If so, why? Why wouldn't (for example) carbon taxes or quotas work?

Offline kylie

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Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2009, 10:45:05 PM »
I agree that people shouldn't have to be completely on their own when it comes to necessities, but I think there are better ways of helping out with that. I don't understand the advantage of handing out coupons, having an entire bureaucracy dedicated to do that, and dictating how much an individual or a family is going to spend on food - why don't we just give them a guaranteed minimum income in cash, and let them figure out how they want to spend it? If they want to spend that much on food, fine, but if they want to save a bit more or spend on education, then I'm for that.
     Not that I am necessarily convinced fixed-use coupons are the only way...  However, I can see a couple obvious issues with this.  What will guarantee that the prices of necessities do not largely absorb or outrun the lump stipend?  And with totally liquid assets, there is more incentive for someone to offer some other product at a significant price that might promise thrills or multiplication of wealth at some risk...  But that might not be as healthy, nor necessarily as long-term financially sane as simply turning in a coupon and getting a selection of (hopefully nutritious) foods. 

     Perhaps there could be additional categories of tradeable coupons for more elective options like harder to procure foods or second bachelors degrees.  If the currency remains purely liquid and can be held indefinitely though, then we are stuck with credit bubbles and hoarding.  Perhaps if more of the currency pool were automatically reset/redistributed every few years (or some appropriate rotation for each category of coupons), then people would focus more on what they can practically use.  There could be some larger package allotments for larger production centers, public works management etc.  Not so much or so guaranteed that some Big Cheese would again hold easy monopolies or be rewarded with profits that buy mansions rather than public works.

     In that sort of system, it would be less rewarding to hoard the medium of exchange as numbers in the bank or on private gilded properties, to store up profits and tie those hoards into different levels of prestige and privilege.   Within each circulation time for a given type of coupon, one could use the credits, trade for other coupons within certain category ranges (some more specialty foods instead of more import liquor, more plain music instead of all that video, urban planning instead of gardening authority, whatever).  One might gain a reputation of ethical service that brings support for larger scale, public projects -- that urban planning role, resources to continue a sizeable product distribution chain, etc. 

     The currency could be recycled such that everyone keeps getting "subsistence plus a couple projects and a few extras" every so often.  Those who could keep support and were interested in contributing to society out of love of a project could show potential at the small-scale and seek backing to try their hand at larger, not to have more stuff than everyone else but to be supported in spending their time at something they had chosen (regardless of what their parents chose to work as).  It would be a far cry from the top handful and select industries manipulating so much of the wealth.  The incentive would be:  Keep more people stable with some key choices, enjoy a minimal guaranteed standard of living with allowance for reasonable demands on the system over time...  And let people who can sell an idea, learn an ability have a shot -- without enabling untouchable dynasties that hold disproportionate influence over everyone else's time.

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  When we had more progressive income taxes in the postwar period, income distributions in western countries flattened. Income taxes worked.
     Perhaps, but now we have massive disparities and even the financial bailout has rewarded a good deal of bonuses as usual on Wall Street.  Granted any change requires political will, and a serious income redistribution would be a good thing -- if it lasted. 

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And the rich people really do pay taxes - there's tax havens and so on, yeah, but taxes do work... 
     Honestly, I'm having a hard time making sense out of the graph.  Trying to stay on track...  What do you mean when you say taxes "work"?  What goal for tax policy do you have in mind?

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The main reason that the rich get richer is not because they avoid taxes (they pay more in taxes)
     I don't think anyone is arguing that they don't pay.  I think the problem is more that they are left with a huge absolute figure to play with, whereas to the widening lower middle class, losing a few thousand becomes significant as there isn't much more to go around.

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or have better money managers (anyone with $100 can save in an index fund, and there's a very famous book in finance which shows that actively managed funds underperform humble, passively managed index funds). Some of them are just plain lucky; but I'd say that most it comes from the fact that they simply save a larger proportion of their income. And that's easy to do if food+housing is a tiny part of expenses.
     As you said, "if food+housing is a tiny part of expenses."  For many people, it is not.  For the few, they can keep investing. 

    [ Edit: I misread about index funds... But still: ] I don't think my larger notion of utopia -- nor even, a more conventional financial one -- is reachable from some $100 fund in my lifetime...  Is there evidence that these funds are actually outrunning inflation and the rising cost of living?  I would also ask what the cost of managing them is.  And it's all a moot point for the people who are just breaking even or worse.  It also may not save many more of us, who have debts and limitations common to an economy where you are supposed to invest beyond your means to "get somewhere."

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Do you have to scrap capitalism to make the modern way of life sustainable? If so, why? Why wouldn't (for example) carbon taxes or quotas work?
     I'm not sure if Kate would give the same answer or not...  And it does depend on how many/ what kind of quotas you would suggest...  For now I tend to think:  We need fundamental change because capitalism as we know it (especially US-style capitalism) is premised upon keeping most of the property and control away from the majority of people.  You may not be concerned about that when you say "sustainable," but I think the overall direction of that capitalism is implicated in recognized crises like recessions, depressions, lack of social services or disaster prevention, ease of misinforming the public, fear politics, etc.  If this is actually "sustainable" by certain measures, it certainly isn't ethical by my compass.


« Last Edit: October 19, 2009, 11:00:18 PM by kylie »

Offline KateTopic starter

Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2009, 07:29:13 AM »
Kylie you are one cluey girl.

you would make a good benevolent dictator I think.

concerning "rewarding those that are successful" money isnt the answer, nor is it the core motivating force of the entrepreneur I think.

In Kylie's view ... which seems simular in some ways to my own

(at least in core values, however she does seem considerably more eloquent and probably more educated on the matter ... )

Prestige, creation is and yes even privileges would be.

The ancient greeks were very powerful for one core reason .. they didn't really
"do the accumulation of possessions" thing ... if you were a wealthy merchant, your house would likely be identical to those not of such wealth - with some differences, your vase in your kitchen impressive, you may have silk curtains or a finer rug ... but it wasn't much else.

Yes you can say "well thats just what Capitalism would be in an ancient society what were you expecting ? Cars ?" ... what happened though was when they did something impressive
for the community ... they would

a) Have a stronger "voting" power (ie effectively more influential in choosing what public works should be attempted when)

b) Effectively in whatever way possible had their efforts publically appreciated for a long term thing that really didn't give them proportional wealth options, but increased their "quality of a typical day" in non direct means - eg naming new streets after them, putting their crest on boat flags ... better seating in amphitheater's during plays or orations (which was not THEIR seat... it just happened to be offered to them at times they did attend ) ... yes their communities were small enough so if one person did something good the other families knew of it pretty soon. However it was reasonably obvious if someone did something good as it did help the community - wasn't just "oh arnt you smart" stuff.

Trade existed, transactions still did but "context" releavence or the returns of a good transaction was directed differently.

They realised one thing very quickly - the more possessions you own the more they own you - if they had 40 houses - they need to clean more, there is more to protect more security, more "insurance" less fraction of wealth to enjoy at any one given time.

Say if Kylie was a good merchant... she would sail back and say "yo all I managed to trade so we have another two ships ! fancy that huh ?" .. the ships wouldn't be hers ... it was the communities - but the community would maintain it, and she would have first dibs on public seating ... or the ships named after her family etc. Those seeing the crests on the ships wouldn't think "wow she owns this" they would think "we own this thanks to her" ... thus she would be very liked - and more influential politically, be a sense of pride for her family that is respected by all (None would be burning them, as it wouldn't be representing exploitation or a family owning another)

Lets say Kylie did this a few times .. what happens was the following.. she would be in a respected position that she likely would WANT to do (ie if she didn't care for overseeing judgments for petty crimes she may choose to oversee some public construction - so its done her way) ... also she wouldn't easily be able to liquidate her "investment" easily - as her "wealth" is more an understanding and a range of quodos and privileges that is quiet localised.. her running away doesn't let her keep that "work" - but she still benefits from it a lot when she is in the town, because she has a lot to loose and nothing to gain running away, she unlikely would make trades that give her good short term returns but poor effect on the community as a whole (as doing so makes her loose qudos she earned)
she woudl be more trusted - be given more guards or soldiers to escort her trading caravans and be given ambassadorship roles and may trade in higher commodities valuable to the community.

As a result the communities were extremely strong, they were not the best fighters, but taking over a greek town wasn't easy as everyone wanted to save their neighbor, and the powerful wouldn't easily be abandoning things (which was 1/2 the reason why the powerful ensured that decent walls were maintained etc ... for their own sake).

For those helping many greek's .. statues, plaques on libraries, minted coin's faces etc ...

It worked SO well ... things became so well organised, because the individual is readily rewarded doing something that helps others - in ways all individuals respond to (smiles, gleefully welcomed - everyone happy you have arrived ... ) the towns flourished ...
because there really wasn't a linear return on investment for many tasks (ie you dont get an extra dollar working an extra hour) ... many had free time to spend not working...

they didn't spend it in their homes (which was mainly used to sleep) they did it watching plays or social activities ( where the qudos was most exploited - seeing a play of your own family being cool ? - showing you give ships - everyone applauding the play and its meaning ! how proud would your kid's faces be looking up to you saying "mom did really do that for us here?".

... this opened up forums of public debates to be very very popular, western philosophy was born ... (western) mathematics etc followed ...

Offline kylie

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Re: Utopia thawted by the delusion of Ownership?
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2009, 09:30:05 AM »
Kylie you are one cluey girl.

you would make a good benevolent dictator I think. 
     Hee, wow thanks...  I wonder.  I might be a little too impatient to get all the "ducks" lined up  :P

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In Kylie's view ... which seems simular in some ways to my own

(at least in core values, however she does seem considerably more eloquent and probably more educated on the matter ... ) 
     Puah!  I am about to crack up.  At least someone is still learning about more of what the Greeks actually did to organize their people besides orate and go to the theatre.  Which was all interesting too...  Just, I have some sneaking suspicion that with the modern fluidity of capital, we have twisted the Greek notion of theatre into a really manipulative spectacle.  Something known as advertising or propaganda, but these days it has a cultist effect in producing a constrictive race to property for many / sense of entitlement for a few. 

    Kate, can you say more about how the Greeks viewed the function of religion or spirituality (and that versus theatre)?  I'm curious because thinking about public spectacles like this reminded me of Henry (Culture Against Man), who wrote that today we actually (mis)use advertising much like an evangelical religion.

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better seating in amphitheater's during plays or orations (which was not THEIR seat... it just happened to be offered to them at times they did attend ) ...
     I think there is something to this.  It could, under certain orders, be misused.  I'm not positive if (or when exactly) there were duels and such in Greece, but the modern US Senate has certainly been prone to assumption of privilege and process that can elbow out service, and historically even turned the place violent...  However, I do think it is very important that extra privileges be linked somehow to when people are actually connected to a project somehow.  Today, it's more like, if one has the numbers in the bank or the capacity to waste other people's time massively (for instance, with filibuster and intimidation politics), then others are pressured not to claim that reality could be moved any other way -- however practical and popular the alternatives might prove to be.

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They realised one thing very quickly - the more possessions you own the more they own you - if they had 40 houses - they need to clean more, there is more to protect more security, more "insurance" less fraction of wealth to enjoy at any one given time.
     I wonder what their concept of "gifts" might have been... 

     For example, China has long had an idea that more stamps of ownership on a painting actually can make that piece more interesting.  It imbues the work with an added social history...  To me, this also suggests at least conceptually, there was some sense that only so many works could be enjoyed at once anyway...  To the extent that a class has way too much stuff -- and ideally, to the extent that some of that stuff is something many people actually have some interest in finding a common use for -- why not keep passing some things on to others who will actually use and share them?  While there have been wealth disparities and a fair bit of bluster about showing off in Asia too, the gift as a diplomatic gesture and furtherance of some cause has a certain history there.

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  she wouldn't easily be able to liquidate her "investment" easily - as her "wealth" is more an understanding and a range of quodos and privileges that is quiet localised.. her running away doesn't let her keep that "work" - but she still benefits from it a lot when she is in the town, because she has a lot to loose and nothing to gain running away, she unlikely would make trades that give her good short term returns but poor effect on the community as a whole (as doing so makes her loose qudos she earned) 
     I think this is really vital......  The general privatization of core services, massive real estate, infrastructure, parks, security and warfare today...  Combined with the flight of capital to sites of poorer labor, different cultures with vulnerable markets, and a notion of international "development" that crowds out working native systems just as soon as a "crisis" can be manufactured...  All of this has brought deep alienation, urban architecture that presumes systemic crime and violence, class conflict, and North versus South hostility (in certain forms, also known as "terrorism"). 

     Capitalism tends to claim that the thinkers, inventors and investors of the market should have the privilege to develop anything they want wherever they can manage to go...  So as things stand, they often "manage" from remote "heights" of the system while delegating the work to middle managers who parcel it out to desperate or technocratic (or sometimes plain thuggish) lower agents...  Each of whom is removed from worker communities or from waste/restructuring sites -- places where the costs and suffering are most visible.   
   
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taking over a greek town wasn't easy as everyone wanted to save their neighbor, and the powerful wouldn't easily be abandoning things (which was 1/2 the reason why the powerful ensured that decent walls were maintained etc ... for their own sake). 
     This is really interesting, too.  Today lots of people are screaming, oh "socialism" will make us weak...  The Soviet Union is typically held as an example.  And oddly enough, considering that the impact of American military spending on Soviet plans and moreover, on the longer-term American economy is not explicitly scrutinized there!  It has been some time, but I recall reading that spending on for example, large navies has historically been a considerable drain on the economic progress of nations...

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because there really wasn't a linear return on investment for many tasks (ie you dont get an extra dollar working an extra hour) ... many had free time to spend not working... 
     There are many fields that are set for multitasking, seasonal effort, or work in series over longer periods.  Certain artistic projects, pastoral labor, perhaps some agriculture, tourism even...  If these can be rewarded in something other than a linear and immediate monetary payment, there could be more incentives for people to do them better, develop the methods during down seasons, take on a second occupation not because they have to make X amount more money but because it's really a second occupation they are interested in, etc.

     Thanks for the post.  I'm feeling again like many of us are not being taught a whole lot more about (even Western) history than just the canon of reading in Classics.  But that was quite encouraging.