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There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more. ---Lord Byron
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    Does it leave a bad taste in your mouth? When you hear that word, what does it make you think or feel? Evil, greedy and exorbitantly wealthy individuals seem to come to many people's minds. I don't blame them, just look at the numbers for U.S. compensation rates. In 1968, the Chairman of General Motors received compensation of $795,000, which was 142 times that of the average worker. In 2006, the ratio between CEOs has risen to 411 times that of average workers. Certainly not all countries are the same; CEOs in Sweden and Japan typically earn less than 100 times that of the average employee. In the U.S., there is a corporate status quo for "going salaries," which Board members uphold in order to keep their management and officials from leaving for a similar company that pays better. And while most Board members are often independent of that corporation, they are part of management in another corporation. So by increasing salaries of top officials for one corporation, they are creating salary competition that will ultimately drive their own management salaries higher. It's an endless cycle of competition that requires more and more compensation be given to higher management. What's just as unethical is that many managers and CEOs are rewarded even for failures! For the most part these acts are irresponsible because of how shareholders, lowly employees and the rest of society is affected. We see similar things in the Federal Government; how does Congress have the ability to increase their own salaries?

    Even so, this is not how I see capitalism.

    Capitalism, what it was meant to be, a completely free market, is a means for people to manifest their dreams and visions into goods and services for society free from regulation. The control and exploitability of an open-ended economy for profit is high, but social and environmental responsibility should take precedent.

    I think Ziad Abdelnour describes capitalism best:
    Volatile and shifting ideas, and the human beings behind them— not heavy and entrenched establishments — are the source of our nation’s wealth. There is no bureaucratic net or tax web that can catch the fleeting thoughts of the greatest entrepreneurs of our past. Or future.

    In this mindscape of capitalism, all riches finally fall into the gap between thoughts and things. Governed by mind but caught in matter, an asset must have an income stream that is expected to continue if the asset is to retain its value.

    Wealth is valuable only to the extent that others think it will be valuable in the future, and that depends on running the fortune for the needs of the customers rather than for the interests of the owners. Its worth will collapse overnight if the market believes the company is chiefly serving its owner, rather than the owner serving it, or that it is being run chiefly for the managers rather than for the people who buy its wares. Look at the recent BP debacle and see for yourself.

    Socialist regimes try to guarantee the value of things rather than the ownership of them. Thus socialism tends to destroy the value, which depends on dedicated ownership. In the United States, on the other hand, the government normally guarantees only the right to property, not the worth of it. The belief that wealth consists not in ideas, attitudes, moral codes, and mental disciplines but in definable and static things that can be seized and redistributed is the materialist superstition.

    It stultified the works of Marx and other prophets of violence and envy. It betrays every person who seeks to redistribute wealth by coercion. It balks every socialist revolutionary who imagines that by seizing the so-called means of production he can capture the crucial capital of an economy. It baffles nearly all conglomerateurs, who believe they can safely enter new industries by buying rather than by learning them. Capitalist means of production are not land, labor, or capital but minds and hearts.

    The wealth of America isn't an inventory of goods; it's an organic, living entity, a fragile, pulsing fabric of ideas, expectations, loyalties, moral commitments, visions, and people. To vivisect it for redistribution would eventually kill it. As Mitterrand's French technocrats found early in the 1980s, the proud new socialist owners of complex systems of wealth soon learn they are administering an industrial corpse rather than a growing corporation.

    So the flaw is not in our capitalist system. In fact, capitalism is the very essence that drives innovation, creativity, and also allows for a system of service in making others' lives better, exist. I don't think most people understand this benefit. The flaw is in the people that are ultimately out for themselves, the CEOs who want to keep their profits for themselves and not use them to restore the environment, encourage healthy living, promote community development, education, and better general welfare. I'm not saying they cannot have any profit, but should determine that amount in a reasonable and ethically responsible way. All enterprises and corporations that have immediate ability should want to adopt self-maintained systems of social responsibility that help create a new, sustainable status quo, ideally for example, one in which companies restore the environment for the amount of damage is does in order to produce goods. Surely there will be expensive costs associated with such efforts, but the status quo of capitalism has changed before and will change again… but will we— can we— get off of this slippery slope? In the end, profits will be able to be realized, people will be healthier and happier than ever, and we can turn the environment back over to Nature.

    Wed, Jul 7, 2010  Permanent link

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    PARADOX     Fri, Jul 9, 2010  Permanent link
    Infinitas     Fri, Jul 9, 2010  Permanent link
    That's a great article. Bageant really puts all of this corruption into perspective. I'm still unsure of whether or not there was something innately wrong with capitalism from the very beginning, but that's not important anymore. The issue is what it is now: something that tries to screw over almost everyone in the world. I think capitalism can work (maybe it should be called something else) but the natural born rights of man need to be upheld—life, liberty and the pursuit, no? Therefore, I rule out all other current economic and political options.

    So the question is whether or not we can evolve capitalism into something better, such as I try to describe above: a world and system where every man can be for himself, but willingly only after nature and society. Unfortunately, this is completely beside the current human mindset, and at best, an ideal that will probably never be reached in any of our h+ lifetimes.

    Here is a video about the Fed and our Fiat system of increasing debt that I suggest watching.

    And just because it's an awesome song that ties in in so many ways, so very well: Faithless- Mass Destruction.