HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » We need government to pro...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:34 AM

We need government to protect us from the rich

It's something my husband says in response to the conservative argument that government is bad. It makes sense to me.

29 replies, 2130 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply We need government to protect us from the rich (Original post)
Sugarcoated Dec 2012 OP
Capt.Rocky300 Dec 2012 #1
freshwest Dec 2012 #4
BlueCaliDem Dec 2012 #26
tama Dec 2012 #2
ReRe Dec 2012 #6
tama Dec 2012 #7
ReRe Dec 2012 #12
tama Dec 2012 #13
ReRe Dec 2012 #16
Ghost Dog Dec 2012 #28
FrodosPet Dec 2012 #14
tama Dec 2012 #17
jwirr Dec 2012 #23
zentrum Dec 2012 #3
freshwest Dec 2012 #5
tama Dec 2012 #9
AtheistCrusader Dec 2012 #8
SamKnause Dec 2012 #10
cyclezealot Dec 2012 #11
Mothdust Dec 2012 #15
Sekhmets Daughter Dec 2012 #18
Recursion Dec 2012 #19
99Forever Dec 2012 #20
Sugarcoated Dec 2012 #25
KharmaTrain Dec 2012 #21
Sugarcoated Dec 2012 #24
KharmaTrain Dec 2012 #27
Sugarcoated Dec 2012 #29
Skidmore Dec 2012 #22

Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:45 AM

1. The first duty of government.......

"The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful." Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Capt.Rocky300 (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:16 AM

4. +1,000.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Capt.Rocky300 (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:22 PM

26. + 2,000 eom

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:47 AM

2. In fact

 

Rich couldn't be rich without government allowing them to rob and enslave others and protecting their stolen property, while those robbed are hungry and homeless.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tama (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:29 AM

6. All wealth is derived from....

labor. I don't know who said it, but it stuck to me.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ReRe (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:43 AM

7. Adam Smith and Ricardo

 

But according to Marx the historical materialist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_materialism):

Contrary to popular belief, Marx does not base his LTV (Labor Theory of Value) on what he dismisses as "ascribing a supernatural creative power to labor", arguing in the Critique of the Gotha Program that:

Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much a source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor which is itself only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power.


Here Marx is drawing a distinction between exchange value (which is the subject of the LTV) and use value.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_theory_of_value

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tama (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:52 AM

12. Thanks, Tama....

.... but I think that's a little too much info for me. I checked the links out, but found too many run-on sentences and terms I was unfamiliar with. What do I have wrong in my equation? Should it be "all wealth is derived from labor and natural resources"? And if so, is that called Marxism or Capitalism? Or is it both? (I'm not being smart with you...I'm truly confused.)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ReRe (Reply #12)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:36 AM

13. Let's go with common sense, then :)

 

Let's suppose there's a farmer village, and the people tend the fields and share the crop as a co-op. The crop is at the same time blessing of nature and their work on the field. Without land, plants, water etc. their labor would not produce anything, and if they don't take care of the field in sustainable way but use unsustainable farming methods that make the field unproductive, they will starve. (That's what Marx says is wrong with Smith and Ricardo Labor Theory of Value, it excludes ecosystem/natural resources from the theory).

Next, suppose the farming village has a good year and lot of surplus, and a villager says that he can take the surplus and trade it with other villages for the good of all his fellow villagers. On his route he meets a group of bandits who threaten to take the bushels of grain and his life, but the trader suggests them that they make him their leader and he will lead them to his village where they will get surplus of the fields every year instead of just this time, if they make him the leader of the village and act as his personal army to make others obey.

So then the trader villager becomes de facto owner of the whole village, with help of bandits, making others work for him as his slaves and servants, leaving them only enough to eat so they can keep on working the field, giving more to the bandits and trading the surplus for bigger house for himself, more and better weapons for the bandits, etc. etc.

Now that the villagers no more control their common land and what land and their labor produce, they don't care anymore about farming with good methods that preserve the land fertile, and can't stop the owner boss cutting down the woods for his house etc. so erosion starts to make the land less fruitful and produce less, and as the owner boss keeps demanding more and more as his share, the villagers and their children start to starve.

Owner boss who is not stupid but smart in his way - while not a wise man - sees the situation and asks some young villager slaves to join his army so they can conquer neighbor villages and their fields, make the people there their slaves, and live well again (until their greed cause more erosion, they need to conquer more and more, rinse and repeat)

So it begins, and continues, until there is no more land to conquer, no more oil to burn, no more other free peoples and commons to turn into slaves... which is more or less the current state of civilization and capitalism.




Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tama (Reply #13)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 06:21 AM

16. That was stunning!

You sort of remind me of Buckminster Fuller in Critical Path.
The "big stick"-no carrot philosophy, aka capitalism. No?
I'm out of here for the night. Thanks for that explanation.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tama (Reply #13)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:04 PM

28. Excellent.

Thanks, tama.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tama (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:47 AM

14. The labor theory of value is confusing to me.

For labor to have value, it must be in the production of something needed or desired. Without a market for the product or service being produced, labor has no natural value deriving from mere existence. You can spend a lot of time digging a hole in the ground and filling it back up, but if no one wants a hole dug and refilled, it has no value.

As for the role of the investor: Generally, labor needs tools to be usefully and efficiently performed. Those tools may be a hammer, a wrench, a pencil, a computer, a microphone, whatever. It often needs raw materials and/or components. It needs someone to convince the potential customers to buy their whatever from YOUR enterprise as opposed to someone else's enterprise. It usually requires some form of transportation for some or all of the materials, finished product, and/or required labor. It frequently needs accounting, payroll services, someone who understands the legal requirements of the various levels of government, etc. When multiple individuals are involved, it needs someone to direct everyone's energies towards a common goal. And ultimately, it needs a source of funding to provide all these things before payment is ever received from the customer(s).

To do this without capitalism strikes me as extremely challenging. Simple math says income has to exceed outgo, otherwise finite resources (money and material) will be exhausted. Capitalism provides an incentive to make those resources available by trading ownership equity for them. Another forms of incentive is interest from loans. And then finally, there are gifts and subsidies. Unfortunately, gifts and subsidies have a limit of the provider's available resources, which are not being replaced, much less incentivized.

The biggest part of socialism and the labor theory of value that I have had trouble wrapping my head around is how to provide an incentive to resource providers absent either ownership equity or profitability from lending. Altruism is good for the warm and fuzzies, but falls apart once the available balance hits zero.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to FrodosPet (Reply #14)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 07:40 AM

17. It is confusing and complex

 

Again, from wikipedia:

Contrary to popular belief, Marx does not base his LTV on what he dismisses as "ascribing a supernatural creative power to labor", arguing in the Critique of the Gotha Program that:

Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much a source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor which is itself only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power.

Here Marx is drawing a distinction between exchange value (which is the subject of the LTV) and use value.
Marx uses the concept of "socially necessary abstract labor-time" to introduce a social perspective distinct from his predecessors and neoclassical economics. Whereas most economists start with the individual's perspective, Marx starts with the perspective of society as a whole. "Social production" involves a complicated and interconnected division of labor of a wide variety of people who depend on each other for their survival and prosperity.
"Abstract" labor refers to a characteristic of commodity-producing labor that is shared by all different kinds of heterogeneous (concrete) types of labor. That is, the concept abstracts from the particular characteristics of all of the labor and is akin to average labor.
"Socially necessary" labor refers to the quantity required to produce a commodity "in a given state of society, under certain social average conditions or production, with a given social average intensity, and average skill of the labour employed." That is, the value of a product is determined more by societal standards than by individual conditions. This explains why technological breakthroughs lower the price of commodities and put less advanced producers out of business. Finally, it is not labor per se, which creates value, but labor power sold by free wage workers to capitalists. Another distinction to be made is that between productive and unproductive labor. Only wage workers of productive sectors of the economy produce value.

What you are talking about in first paragraph is exchange value, digging a hole and filling it can have various use values for the digger that cannot and need not be exchanged as market commodity (but at the same time necessary requirement for production of commodities of exchange value, e.g. if the digger is digging to stay sane and healthy).

I'm not suggesting that anyone accepts Marx' economic theories uncritically, but he has many deep insights, as well as limitations - especially from contemporary view. Neoclassical and Austrian school theories are not worth discussion IMO, just bonkers.

As for your second paragraph, it's a long litany of things you say are needed, but are they all really? For what? Consumer capitalism is master of psychological manipulation to create artificial needs. Assuming that highly technological civilization is what we really want and desire (as society as whole and not just to make some capitalists and bosses more fat and happy) which is a big if, that obviously requires a complex distribution of labor. What is much less obvious is that it requires oligarchic capitalist investor class with profit motive of private greed. Soviet Union, what ever it was, was able to defeat Germany while relocating the whole war industry and the first to send people in outer space without capitalist investor class with motive of private profit.

To do this without capitalism strikes me as extremely challenging. Simple math says income has to exceed outgo, otherwise finite resources (money and material) will be exhausted. Capitalism provides an incentive to make those resources available by trading ownership equity for them. Another forms of incentive is interest from loans. And then finally, there are gifts and subsidies. Unfortunately, gifts and subsidies have a limit of the provider's available resources, which are not being replaced, much less incentivized.


Natural resources are indeed finite, money is not finite and it is not a resource but a cultural artifact. Money is created of and as numbers and number theory contains infinities, and exchange value of those numbers is quite complex social issue that cannot be looked at separately from the whole of the social system.

Incentive of monetary interest does not and cannot create any natural resources available to the market or for use value, and certainly not create resources more than finite planet provides, but it does two things, neither of them nice: it requires the monetary system to grow exponentially ad infinitum and it creates artificial scarcity of commodities, as they can be under capitalist class system acquired only by money and money can be acquired only by selling labor to the owning class. Feodalistic slavery has been replaced by much more devious wage slavery, not to mention gift economies of native tribes.

How to provide an incentive to resource providers absent either ownership equity or profitability from lending.


In other words, how to guarantee that labor of primary producers (+ Mother Nature) keep on feeding and providing secondary and tertiary producers and purely parasitical financial classes? Especially without forcing them to do so with threats of various forms of violence? That is a fair question for urban populations, and Marxist theory and socialism does not offer full answers to solve this conflict. Altruism and human compassion are very likely the only hope that you have, and Makhno's peasant anarchists feeding starving urban populations out of pure altruism during the Russian Revolution, thousand of community gardens popping up in rust belt cities like Detroit, Occupy Sandy etc. etc. - when financial balance sheet hits zero and goes under - give good empirical foundations for hope.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tama (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:06 AM

23. Nature - like oil and coal? without the labor to extract them they are useless.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:48 AM

3. Every democratic institution we have...

...since the beginning of recorded history, arose to protect the poor and the many from the rich.

The rich, as a group, seem unable to self-limit. Ever.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to zentrum (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:17 AM

5. That's why people have to get involved, not run from it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to zentrum (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:54 AM

9. First you have to ask

 

how there came to be rich men, through what kind of political processes and institutions.

Most native tribes - whose members are very equal and make decisions collectively ("horizontal democracy" is what it's now called) actively suppress the desires of their members to become "big men" who consider themselves more important than others, who don't need to support themselves and their families when they are able to do so but make living by making others work for him.

Most of the recorded history is about imperialistic civilizations conquering, destroying and enslaving democratic native societies. Native American societies were and are very democratic and equal, at least compared to European invaders and their institutions.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:53 AM

8. Check the net worth of the house and senate and get back to me.

Foxes guarding the henhouse comes to mind.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:30 AM

10. Protection

Our government has failed miserably !!!!

They are now enablers.

We have no one to protect us.

The Supreme Court sold us out.
Our politicians sold us out.
Our military brass sold us out.
The majority of our media sold us out.


Corruption and greed have infested every aspect of our lives.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:31 AM

11. You hit the nail on its head.

Always has been that way. First of all, we need democracy to assure a majority controls the Government and that government looks after its people. With our convulted form of representative government they do their best to prevent that. (Just like , if we don't like the election result, lets disenfranchise those we don't like. ) Or from our post colonial era, only the rich could vote or today's congressional gerrymandering.
. Without that assurance of representative democracy, those banksters who screwed over farmers during Shay's rebellion also controlled the government. That is why our "Founding Father's " developed a system to do their best to call those farmers 'factions' and allow their "Faction " to control the government and the poor they were screwing over.
Some things never change. As an example , during most of America's historical financial crisis' , it was the banksters and speculators brought down the economy , whether it was in "Long Recession" of 1873 or 2008.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:30 AM

15. what the rich really want I think

Is to have the life depicted in the great Disney film, Mary Poppins! A beautiful orderly home filled with servants, maids ,nannies, & chimminy sweeps. The likes of us would have to become the servants to stay alive, warm, and clean. The rest would become bird women. There's a lot going on in that film when you really think about it : )

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:02 AM

18. Amen.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:36 AM

19. I don't want free stuff, I just fear corporations more than the government right now

I inadvertently started a Twitter shitstorm when I said that, but it pretty much sums up how I feel

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:42 AM

20. Not meaning to be snide...

... but if you or your husband know of a place where this is how it actually works, please let me know and I'll head there immediately.

'Cuz from what I can see, the rich here, own the government, lock, stock and barrel.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to 99Forever (Reply #20)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:33 AM

25. It's never been perfect, but the government was keeping the playing field much more level

Reagan, et al, began to chip away at it, deregulating, union busting, etc. Propaganda that government is bad. Glass-Stegal Act overturned. The Idiot Son's eight years of fucking us. It's a constant battle, but I think people are waking up and realizing they have to participate, or yes, the corrupt will prevail.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:53 AM

21. Define "Rich"...

is this someone who has an income over $250k a year? 500k a year? 1 million? Or how about assets? Do we then codify this? Obviously I doubt there's any way our elected and paid-for "public" officials will ever do this, but the point is that "rich" is a vague term that depends on who is using it. To someone with $1 million, they see someone with $10 as "rich". It's all perspective.

What the government does is protects us all with a level playing field...or it should...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to KharmaTrain (Reply #21)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:24 AM

24. I take it to mean people like that coal baron who didn't follow the rules to keep those men alive

two years ago and then said he'd fire people if Obama won. The Wall Street guys who tanked the economy. Mitt Rmoney. I guess any level of "rich" can screw people if they don't follow the laws that the government passes and try to get away with it, but a majority of the plutocrats, for the most part, follow the laws or there are consequences.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Reply #24)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:02 PM

27. We Need A Stronger Judiciary...

You're referring to Arnold Murray...a first class robber baron and who has the blood of many a coal miner on his hands. Sadly this dirtbag is able to use his wealth to buy justice...prevent his crimes from being investigated or brought to trial. His hold is so complete that few will dare to challenge him. I agree that this bastard needs to be brought to justice and his greed reigned in, but it's not his wealth that creates his power, it's the other way around. His business practices need to be investigated. Maybe some intrepid Attorney General will try.

My point is that "rich" is thrown around with no real definition other than a general "someone who has more money than me". My thing is not to tax the rich more as much as make sure that they pay what they actually should. There's no reason someone like a Willard can pay 13% (and I still believe he paid far less than that) while you and I pay more with far less income and assets. There's the inequality that needs to be addressed...

Cheers...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to KharmaTrain (Reply #27)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:15 AM

29. There's a special place in hell for Arnold Murray and pigs like him

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Sugarcoated (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:56 AM

22. and religion. I would add religion to that too.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread