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Old 03-23-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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As a sideline:

Do Good Capitalists buy products made in (communist) China?

Why or why not?
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Old 03-23-2010, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
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NorthStarDelight, I'm not going to read this whole thread. Your premise is all wrong, in my opinion. Capitalism and morality can most certainly co-exist, probably more easily than can socialism or communism and morality. I see no reason at all that capitalists would lack morality than anyone else does. It's all a question of what price they put on their moral values.

I also disagree with your statements about Walmart. I live in a town that, until the past few months, had basically zero unemployment. (Yeah, the unemployment figures said something like 2%, but anyone who wanted work had it. If you got to town and were ready to work by 8 a.m., you had a job by noon.) All that time, Walmart was able to hire workers. In fact, they had applications on had waiting for turnover. So their pay was fair. They offer insurance, which is something many businesses do not offer.

Yes, they had profits. They could have lowered their prices, which in turn would have driven out even more of the mom and pop shops, or they could have paid higher wages, which in turn would have driven out even more of the mom and pop shops, or they could pay their shareholders dividends and kept their corporation healthy. Which would be the "morally correct" thing to do? What would YOU have done if it was YOUR investment and your company?

I've been a manager, business owner and investor for 35+ years. I have NEVER made a business decision that I thought was immoral. I know many others like me -- owners, managers, and good community neighbors. The questions asked of all of us on a daily basis is, how much do we charge for our service/product, how much do we pay our employees, how much do we give to our community, and how much, if any, do we keep for ourselves. If we balance it out right, everyone profits a little from our involvement, including ourselves.

It's always a balancing act. Customers want the best and cheapest goods and services, employees want the best pay and benefits, investors want the highest return on their money, and CEOs are charged with providing all of that. It seldom works out that way. If balanced just right, nobody is quite happy with what they get, but everyone is satisfied.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WyoNewk View Post
Capitalism and morality can most certainly co-exist, probably more easily than can socialism or communism and morality. I see no reason at all that capitalists would lack morality than anyone else does. It's all a question of what price they put on their moral values.
The point is, capitalism DOES put a price on moral values. It has to, because the entire reason for its existence is to set prices and use them to gain advantage, which is not a part of the function of socialist or communist economies. By the way, the price that capitalism puts on moral values is currently about a nickel, and falling fast.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:56 PM
 
Location: it depends
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This is a great thread, and thanks to all for the thoughtful posts. I haven't seen this angle in the conversation yet, so here goes...

Capitalism (not "crony capitalism" which is often akin to fascism, or one of the bastardized government-influenced hybrids) in its pure form not only can coexist with morality, but is the most moral form of human interaction yet invented. Consider that in capitalism, every transaction has two winners. You want the pair of shoes more than you want the money; the store owner wants the money more than he wants the shoes. A voluntary transaction between willing parties, each believing he is improving his position, is entirely moral. Now consider the store owner: will he prosper by screwing and misleading and cheating people, or by delivering the most possible value to his customers? I think we all know examples of great businesses that were focused on long-term value creation, provided maximum value for the dollar, and prospered greatly.

People are not perfect, of course, and many succumb to the temptation to put short-term gains above true long-term self-interest. So we also know of businesses that once were great, but sold out to short-sighted new owners who wrung the most out of the short term but ultimately ruined the business. Consider this: when the business was ruined, capitalism was punishing bad behavior.

Corporate scandals are often cited as an indictment of capitalism. Consider this: in the early 2000's, Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia and Tyco perpetrated massive frauds. So what about the 99.2% of the Fortune 500 that did not? The scandals were the exceptions, not the rule.

I'm in business. My business is not a charity. My future is dependent on performance for customers--the better we perform, the better it is for customers and the more money I will make in the long term. I could fool people, make a lot of money I didn't deserve, but not for very long. Because I am dependent on favorable decisions made by free people who have other options, I must be as good as I can possibly be to win business now and in the future.

Finally, what are the alternatives to capitalism? How have they worked out in the real world? I would say that freedom (capitalism is economic freedom) is correlated to prosperity, but is also correlated to volatility. America is relatively free, prosperous, and has volatility--ups and downs. North Korea has little freedom and no prosperity--but boy are they stable. (They were eating tree bark last month, and they'll be eating tree bark next month.) The social democracies of Western Europe are in-between, more similar to the US than North Korea--but with a 30% lower standard of living. Europe is less volatile than the US--but less prosperous. The unemployment rate in France never got below 9% from 2000 to 2008--while the US unemployment rate never got that high.

Give me capitalism every time. It is the only moral system. Many of its failures are rooted in the unintended consequences of government action--as in the mortgage meltdown with Fannie and Freddie and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Business jumped on the artificial profit possibilities created by government--short-sightedly--and wrecked a lot of people. But don't blame capitalism.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:29 PM
 
Location: it depends
6,074 posts, read 5,330,925 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The point is, capitalism DOES put a price on moral values. It has to, because the entire reason for its existence is to set prices and use them to gain advantage, which is not a part of the function of socialist or communist economies. By the way, the price that capitalism puts on moral values is currently about a nickel, and falling fast.
But the only way to prosper in capitalism is to be of value or service to others. Capitalism therefore rewards moral values.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The point is, capitalism DOES put a price on moral values. It has to, because the entire reason for its existence is to set prices and use them to gain advantage, which is not a part of the function of socialist or communist economies. By the way, the price that capitalism puts on moral values is currently about a nickel, and falling fast.
I beg to differ. The entire reason for capitalism is to trade goods between free men. As Marcopolo pointed out, if I want to sell you a pair of shoes, I've got to price them at a point you'll want to buy them. I also must set them at a price where there's enough margin for me to pay the manufacturer, a shipper to get my merchandise, my sales clerk, utilities, rent for the store, etc., and hopefully enough profit that I can buy food for my family. (Good example, Marco, since I used to own a shoe store.)

The shoe manufacturer must go through the same kind of pricing considerations. If his prices are too high, I won't buy his shoes; if my prices are too high, YOU won't buy my shoes.

Now, at what point am I putting a price on moral values? Do you think I shouldn't pay the manufacturer? The heat bill? My clerk? My landlord? My family? I don't understand your reasoning. Do you think if that shoe store was owned by the government that the heat would be free? The shoes? The labor? MY labor? Explain it to me, jtur.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Originally Posted by marcopolo View Post
But the only way to prosper in capitalism is to be of value or service to others. Capitalism therefore rewards moral values.
It also rewards theft. And fraud. And deception. And cheating. And marketing of harmful products. And prostitutes, who are of value or service to others.

Capitalism rewards those with a larger share of the wealth, regardless of how it is attained. In order to avoid a free-for-all, a prudent capitalist state places a few token obstacles in the way of immoral grabbing of wealth, that are sometimes randomly enforced.
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:03 PM
 
Location: it depends
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jtur88, in your opinion, what non-capitalist paradise is superior to the land of the free and the home of the brave? I think non-capitalist governments are the world champions at theft, fraud, deception, and cheating.
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:11 PM
 
Location: South Jordan, Utah
6,801 posts, read 7,362,623 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
It also rewards theft. And fraud. And deception. And cheating. And marketing of harmful products. And prostitutes, who are of value or service to others.

Capitalism rewards those with a larger share of the wealth, regardless of how it is attained. In order to avoid a free-for-all, a prudent capitalist state places a few token obstacles in the way of immoral grabbing of wealth, that are sometimes randomly enforced.
Theft and fraud etc. is not capitalism at all. Voluntary interaction does not involved force or fraud.
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:11 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,212,583 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcopolo View Post
jtur88, in your opinion, what non-capitalist paradise is superior to the land of the free and the home of the brave? I think non-capitalist governments are the world champions at theft, fraud, deception, and cheating.
Wow. Who's your cable company? Credit card. Cell phone. Car insurance. Do you check over the invoices to make sure they didn't make any "honest mistakes", which seem to be always in their favor? Have you ever wondered why there are regulatory agencies?

Which non-capitalist countries have you lived in, to know so much about how dishonest their governments are?

If you think America is the "land of the free", paint the word "Taxi" on the side of your car and go pull up in front of the airport terminal. See how free you are. Put a chair in a city park with a sign that says "Haircuts--$5". See how free you are. Walk down the street with a chocolate cake, selling slices to passers-by. In the land of the free. Build a little transmitter and put a neighborhood radio station on the air.

Last edited by jtur88; 03-23-2010 at 10:21 PM..
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