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Thread: Would you vote for Obama in 08

  1. #41
    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    Yeah, dishonesty and greed are part of nature.

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    Josh, I understand the concerns about raising the minimum wage, but consider this: The CEOs have had their wages raised WAYYY far and above what a modest raise in the minimum wage would cost, and prices haven't gone out of control. And it's not just CEOs, it's CFOs, COOs, CTOs, board members, Presidents, VPs, and on through the management chain. If all of them can enjoy rapidly increasing wealth, certainly the system can afford to have the minimum wage at least keep pace with the cost of living.

    On the unregulated free-market issue, I just see people's behaviors not leading to this meritocracy of competition. People want the cheapest goods, period. They don't consider the health of the city they live in, or at least don't connect their particular purchase as having much to do with that. Buyers don't really care how much an employer pays their people - they just want the biggest sale, and the cheapest TV. And that leads to the WalMart-izing of the country, a phenomena which is starkly and depressingly obvious when you drive across the country. Consolidation and monopolization are clear and obvious ramifications in the quest for cheaper goods (and they have to be cheaper with the low minimum wage so many make!) Economies of scale, vertical integration, and less-savory economic practices force small businesses under. Sure, if I make candles and sell them for less than WalMart (how am I really to compete with Chinese candles manufactured with $.50/hr labor?), but WalMart can just give their candles away for free for a few months and take a loss to drive me out of business. Like a garden, the economy takes careful cultivation to grow and maintain its health, lest the giant weeds take over.

    Capslock
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Now I do not know the changes that need to be made to make it better. I too want to see the gap between the lower class and the upper class to narrow. It is just getting ridiculous how the AVERAGE CEO of a company makes 400 times the amount of an average employee.
    Well, think about this question: Why hasn't another company been created that pays their CEOs half that much and put the current market leader out of business. In a completely free market economy that is exactly what would happen. Government regulation doesn't stop the gap; it exsacerbates it.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]You have Deans of schools making Millions of dollars a year. IIRC the Dean of UGA makes over a million a year.
    I think this is a different issue and is more social than political or economic. The biggest problem is that most students do not think of schools as the businesses they are, and insist on maintaining blind name loyalty. How many teens choose their college based on where their parents went, where their friends are going, the school's social reputation, etc. I was amazed at how few students I went to school with thought of themselves as customers, paying a preset cost for a specified service. I had many clashes which teachers who insisted on an attendance policy for this reason: I was paying them to evaluate my skills and abilities in a specified area; not babysit me.

    Many schools can waste money like they do because they have somehow convinced the public that their specific industry should not be held to the standards of any other industry in a free market system. They request donations...and, more amazingly, actually get said donations. The simplest answer is that these schools can waste their money because their customer base has told them that it's okay to.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]The fact is there are some people out there that will screw anyone and everyone including their own mother to make a buck, and that is the reason we need some regulation of the economy.
    That's good, because that is exactly what a free market is based on: selfishness. A free market counts on everybody to act in their own best interests. When consumers purchase the product with the best quality at the lowest price it forces fierce competition, which insures the fairest price. Again, this also places the power of regulation exactly where it should be: with the people. I ask again, if 90% of Americans want Wal-mart to drive every other business into the ground, what ethical right do we have to stop them? Government regulation is imposing the desires of the few onto the many; I do not believe this is ethically or logically valid.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]but now that they have run many other places out of business there quality of a lot of things is starting to decline to keep up with the low prices. I find myself not shopping there as much anymore.
    ...and that is exactly what I was trying to say. Now that Wal-mart no longer offers the best product at the best price, you have decided to frequent other businesses and are voting with your buying dollar. As others do the same Wal-mart will be forced to increase the quality of their merchandise, close, or be happy serving a niche market.

    There is nothing wrong with that last option. I still shop at Wal-mart because sometimes I really only need something cheaply made that will last a few hours. If I can get that at Wal-mart for $5.00 instead of paying $20.00 for a high quality widget at the hardware store then Wal-mart is providing a valid service; they are servicing a niche market.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]But the fact is the middle class is shrinking and something needs to be done.
    Actually, this is not the case. According to wikipedia, the percentage of the population below 'poverty level' has not been so low since before 1980. If only we could continue to fail so badly! The implication of this is that if the middle class is shrinking, and the poor is also shrinking, then the only place for the middle class to be going is to the wealthy or rich classes. I don't know if this is actually the case and doubt the middle class is, indeed, undergoing any drastic change in size.

    However, I don't think historical numbers are going to help in this case because we have no control group for comparison. There was no middle class just a few centuries ago so we saw a drastic increase since the founding of this country. If the middle class is actually shrinking now, and we have more regulation now than ever, that would seem to superficially indicate that it is the regulation itself that is at fault. That is, of course, overly simplified and it is much more complicated. However, I have not seen any evidence that increasing regulation would lessen the variance between the rich and the poor. I have, however, seen evidence to the contrary. I will try to dig it up if you so desire.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]An unregulated economy makes as much sense as roads without traffic laws. No lanes, no speed limits, no stop lights, no stop signs. If you believe that would become "a perfectly fair self-regulating system" then by all means you should trust in a free economy too. The results are the same.
    I'm sorry, but this analogy is a strawman. A better analogy would be to say it would be like believing in a road system where private road owners set the speed limits and traffic laws. In this case, I would support that. I can't stand driving under 80 mph on a highway, but the state speed limit here is 55 mph. I have similar problems with local roads. Scientific studies have indicated that increased speed on these roadways does not increase accident frequency, and can decrease it due to lower traffic loads, but I doubt I would be able to convince my state's aging population with facts and figures. A system that allows me to drive 100 mph on one road, while those who think such is dangerous can drive 8 mph down their chosen road without ever having to see me, would be optimal.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]And it's not just CEOs, it's CFOs, COOs, CTOs, board members, Presidents, VPs, and on through the management chain. If all of them can enjoy rapidly increasing wealth, certainly the system can afford to have the minimum wage at least keep pace with the cost of living.
    Again, I have not had time to check figures but will try to dig up references in the coming days. However, I suspect that the increases in pay are not that far above inflation. In any case, how many thousands of minimum wage workers are in the economy for every single manager? I honestly do not know and would be open to changing my view with evidence showing there are not many, but I suspect the number is very high.

    Either way, keep in mind that these industries are often higher tech industries that do not pay anyone minimum wage. I doubt there is a single employee at my company that makes under $30k / year, which works out to be around double minimum wage. In most companies I have worked for I have seen my pay increase by several times the current inflation level, both because I gained experience and because I was tasked with more important and more difficult jobs.

    Perhaps this is more of a moral issue we are disagreeing over. Ten years ago I made around $7 / hour, working around 20 hours/week after high school. This is far less than I make now and I feel that is how it should be. No matter what my age, someone in that job I had ten years ago requires no training and works in a remedial, tedious position. My job requires several years of education beyond high school, years of experience, and double the workload. I believe I should make more money.

    Similarly, my boss makes more than me. However, he carries much more responsibility. The stress is likely deteriorating his health more so than my position and I know he works a minimum of 60-80 hours per week. He is often away from his home and family. Do you feel that he should make more than me? Further, the guy who had the inspiration, drive, and courage to build the company up from the ground makes much more than both of us. Do you feel his risk should be rewarded as such? If not, this may be the fundamental cause of our disagreement.

    The world today has a much greater variance in requirements and responsibilities than the past. I think it only natural that we see a greater rift between the richest and poorest. This is exsacerbated by the fact that we have more teenagers working today than ever before. If we get rid of all the lowest paying jobs, we are doing nothing more than taking opportunities away from those teenagers that would have otherwise led to valuable job experience.

    As I mentioned before, so long as the poor have an ever increasing quality of life, even if the gap widens between them and the rich, there is no objective way to determine what a fair variance should be. It is subjective and if you say that a popular vote is not the correct way to determine what the correct variance would be then you are effectively implying that there is an elite ruling class that should decide instead...and that's going to lead to all kinds of problems. Not to mention the fact that this country was founded on the very basis of escaping that belief

    I say again, everyone deserves equal opportunities, but what they do with those opportunities is up to them. My grandparents, on both sides, were as poor as poor can be. At times my parents made hardly half of what was considered poverty level, but even with five children (very expensive) they clawed and scratched their way up and scraped what little cash they could together. They used it to open a business and my mom worked 80+ hours a week for years getting it off the ground. They supplemented education and knowledge with experimentation and experience. Now my mom drives her Corvette in the summer and her Lincoln in the winter to her quarter of a million dollar home. Not quite 'rich', but a long way from where they started. What about their kids? I am the poorest of the bunch. Two of my brothers live in homes valued well over a half a million dollars.

    There is a greater variance between my brothers and myself than there ever was in my family in the past. However, I don't feel that is unfair. I did not work as hard as they did, and was not willing to give up what they did to get to where they are (though I still have a few years to catch up, being the youngest). While the variance has increased, the quality of life for even the poorest has also increased. This is not a problem; it means that no one was pushed down, but instead that more opportunities were opened above. A greater variance in itself is not indicative of a problem; a downward trend for the poor would need to be shown to establish there is a problem. If you can present evidence of this I will re-evaluate my views.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]On the unregulated free-market issue, I just see people's behaviors not leading to this meritocracy of competition. People want the cheapest goods, period. They don't consider the health of the city they live in, or at least don't connect their particular purchase as having much to do with that.
    I respectfully disagree. 199 billion dollars were donated to charities by private citizens in 2005 (source). That is a lot of money! That is ten times NASA's budget...or almost a dent in the military's! Heh, sorry, couldn't resist the jab . This shows that citizens do actually care what is going on, though I'm sure the specific charity varies from person to person. If the free market failed, apathy would most certainly not be the reason.

    The problem, in my opinion, is that people have forgotten how to vote with their buying dollar because they have become so used to the idea that the real way to get things done is through legislation. If we transitioned to a free market slowly, and educated the populace, I think you would see the majority of people use that newfound power for what they believe in. It is no different than legislation is now, except that it reacts more quickly, is sure to reflect the majority mindset, and cannot be corrupted.

    That being said, I will admit that there are a few, specific, situations where government intervention is desirable. However, my acceptable level is probably about 1/100th of the current level, so I suspect we still strongly disagree.



    Again, I apologize if I offended anyone by picking apart their posts. I think discussion of such issues is extremely important. Even if none of the debaters change their views it provides an excellent resource for lurkers who may be sitting on the fence. Heck, I learned almost everything I know about logic, critical thinking, physics, and astrophysics by lurking on another forum watching debates like this.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Now I do not know the changes that need to be made to make it better. I too want to see the gap between the lower class and the upper class to narrow. It is just getting ridiculous how the AVERAGE CEO of a company makes 400 times the amount of an average employee.
    Well, think about this question: Why hasn't another company been created that pays their CEOs half that much and put the current market leader out of business. In a completely free market economy that is exactly what would happen. Government regulation doesn't stop the gap; it exsacerbates it.
    I'll disagree with this. The corporate entities in question often have monopolistic holds on their industries. How is someone supposed to start up a new company to compete with Chevron? In many cases, the pay of just the CEO won't result in much of a price increase, so to meaningfully reduce prices to compete, you'd have to shrink the entire pay structure of management. Try recruiting good talent that way. There is a self-imposed entrenched management culture in American business. The regulations that I favor are ones that let businesses compete more fairly and equitably. As it is, many businesses try to compete by exploiting their workers and the workforce as a whole. History is rife with vivid examples of what happens when there are no worker protections. Sure, slave labor would result in lower prices, and therefore a competitive advantage for that company. But that doesn't make it a good idea, nor does that serve the interests of the community as a whole.

    Besides, in today's entrenched corporate culture, the executive level flits around from job to job, so the CEO and his team now aren't necessarily going to be there in two years. So they tend to think in terms of next quarter's results. And the temptation is always there to cut costs - almost always at the low end. So you have businesses like Wal-Mart or McDonalds where the jobs are designed to be low-skill, high turnover positions so they never have to pay decent wages. They'll move people into part time positions so they don't have to pay health care benefits. All because they know that if they can just provide the cheapest possible price, their sales go up.

    People don't think in terms of the good of the community when they just need a trash can. They don't look where it's made, what the conditions are, how the workers are treated. It's just not practical to fully absorb the big picture with every purchase ou make. So there has to be regulations to prevent exploitation, preserve true competition, stop monopolies (something the Libertarian party simply doesn't have an answer for that satisfies me), and to keep the relentless push for efficiency and profit from harming our communities.





    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]The fact is there are some people out there that will screw anyone and everyone including their own mother to make a buck, and that is the reason we need some regulation of the economy.
    That's good, because that is exactly what a free market is based on: selfishness. A free market counts on everybody to act in their own best interests. When consumers purchase the product with the best quality at the lowest price it forces fierce competition, which insures the fairest price. Again, this also places the power of regulation exactly where it should be: with the people. I ask again, if 90% of Americans want Wal-mart to drive every other business into the ground, what ethical right do we have to stop them? Government regulation is imposing the desires of the few onto the many; I do not believe this is ethically or logically valid.
    If you make a poll and ask people whether they want their community businesses to be replaced by giant chain stores by the highway, they'd say no. But when they need a new snowblower, they can save $50 by going to Wal Mart, so they do it. I think people want the right things to be done, but figure their every individual purchase isn't going to make the difference so they just go ahead and buy the cheapest thing.

    We get together in societies to take advantage of what cooperation and group efforts can accomplish. Why would voluntarily set up the economic rules in ways that crush small buisnesses (and therefore entrepreneurship)? Why would we set up the business rules in ways that hurt towns and cities? I think people want to do what's right for their communities, but are seduced by the low price for the goods they want to purchase. What people want and what they do are different in this sort of case, because of the disconnect with the needs in an individual purpose, and the chain of realities that had to happen to get that product on the shelf. Consumers can never be all-knowing.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]But the fact is the middle class is shrinking and something needs to be done.
    Actually, this is not the case. According to wikipedia, the percentage of the population below 'poverty level' has not been so low since before 1980. If only we could continue to fail so badly! The implication of this is that if the middle class is shrinking, and the poor is also shrinking, then the only place for the middle class to be going is to the wealthy or rich classes. I don't know if this is actually the case and doubt the middle class is, indeed, undergoing any drastic change in size.

    However, I don't think historical numbers are going to help in this case because we have no control group for comparison. There was no middle class just a few centuries ago so we saw a drastic increase since the founding of this country. If the middle class is actually shrinking now, and we have more regulation now than ever, that would seem to superficially indicate that it is the regulation itself that is at fault. That is, of course, overly simplified and it is much more complicated. However, I have not seen any evidence that increasing regulation would lessen the variance between the rich and the poor. I have, however, seen evidence to the contrary. I will try to dig it up if you so desire.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]And it's not just CEOs, it's CFOs, COOs, CTOs, board members, Presidents, VPs, and on through the management chain. If all of them can enjoy rapidly increasing wealth, certainly the system can afford to have the minimum wage at least keep pace with the cost of living.
    Again, I have not had time to check figures but will try to dig up references in the coming days. However, I suspect that the increases in pay are not that far above inflation. In any case, how many thousands of minimum wage workers are in the economy for every single manager? I honestly do not know and would be open to changing my view with evidence showing there are not many, but I suspect the number is very high.
    No, the increases in executive pay FARRRR outdo the increase in inflation, which has been modest for a while now. And the low end has not kept up with inflation. Looking back, would you say that the problem with business was that executives didn't get enough pay and the low-paid workers made too much? I wouldn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Either way, keep in mind that these industries are often higher tech industries that do not pay anyone minimum wage. I doubt there is a single employee at my company that makes under $30k / year, which works out to be around double minimum wage. In most companies I have worked for I have seen my pay increase by several times the current inflation level, both because I gained experience and because I was tasked with more important and more difficult jobs.

    Perhaps this is more of a moral issue we are disagreeing over. Ten years ago I made around $7 / hour, working around 20 hours/week after high school. This is far less than I make now and I feel that is how it should be. No matter what my age, someone in that job I had ten years ago requires no training and works in a remedial, tedious position. My job requires several years of education beyond high school, years of experience, and double the workload. I believe I should make more money.

    Similarly, my boss makes more than me. However, he carries much more responsibility. The stress is likely deteriorating his health more so than my position and I know he works a minimum of 60-80 hours per week. He is often away from his home and family. Do you feel that he should make more than me? Further, the guy who had the inspiration, drive, and courage to build the company up from the ground makes much more than both of us. Do you feel his risk should be rewarded as such? If not, this may be the fundamental cause of our disagreement.

    The world today has a much greater variance in requirements and responsibilities than the past. I think it only natural that we see a greater rift between the richest and poorest. This is exsacerbated by the fact that we have more teenagers working today than ever before. If we get rid of all the lowest paying jobs, we are doing nothing more than taking opportunities away from those teenagers that would have otherwise led to valuable job experience.

    As I mentioned before, so long as the poor have an ever increasing quality of life, even if the gap widens between them and the rich, there is no objective way to determine what a fair variance should be. It is subjective and if you say that a popular vote is not the correct way to determine what the correct variance would be then you are effectively implying that there is an elite ruling class that should decide instead...and that's going to lead to all kinds of problems. Not to mention the fact that this country was founded on the very basis of escaping that belief

    I say again, everyone deserves equal opportunities, but what they do with those opportunities is up to them. My grandparents, on both sides, were as poor as poor can be. At times my parents made hardly half of what was considered poverty level, but even with five children (very expensive) they clawed and scratched their way up and scraped what little cash they could together. They used it to open a business and my mom worked 80+ hours a week for years getting it off the ground. They supplemented education and knowledge with experimentation and experience. Now my mom drives her Corvette in the summer and her Lincoln in the winter to her quarter of a million dollar home. Not quite 'rich', but a long way from where they started. What about their kids? I am the poorest of the bunch. Two of my brothers live in homes valued well over a half a million dollars.

    There is a greater variance between my brothers and myself than there ever was in my family in the past. However, I don't feel that is unfair. I did not work as hard as they did, and was not willing to give up what they did to get to where they are (though I still have a few years to catch up, being the youngest). While the variance has increased, the quality of life for even the poorest has also increased. This is not a problem; it means that no one was pushed down, but instead that more opportunities were opened above. A greater variance in itself is not indicative of a problem; a downward trend for the poor would need to be shown to establish there is a problem. If you can present evidence of this I will re-evaluate my views.
    While my views are more toward the socialist side of things, one thing I agree with is that people who provide more value to society should be paid higher. People should be able to make a lot of money with their successes. I have no problem with that. I've always had my own businesses, and am currently a Chief Officer and co-owner of a software business employing over 50 people. I want to get rich doing this, and fully understand the connection between the profit motive and hard work. I'm at work right now, for example. I am the highest paid person here, but instead of making several hundred times what the average person makes, I make roughly double. In part because we pay ourselves modest salaries all things considered, and in part because we pay our people a lot. If we put out a hit piece of software, everyone will benefit. In most similar companies, if there is a hit piece of software, the corporate ownership alone will make a bunch of money. Because we're among the last of the independents that haven't been snapped in a conglomeration spree that's infected all media for a while now, and when you have a corporate parent, the whole reason they bought you is to get the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]
    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]On the unregulated free-market issue, I just see people's behaviors not leading to this meritocracy of competition. People want the cheapest goods, period. They don't consider the health of the city they live in, or at least don't connect their particular purchase as having much to do with that.
    I respectfully disagree. 199 billion dollars were donated to charities by private citizens in 2005 (source). That is a lot of money! That is ten times NASA's budget...or almost a dent in the military's! Heh, sorry, couldn't resist the jab . This shows that citizens do actually care what is going on, though I'm sure the specific charity varies from person to person. If the free market failed, apathy would most certainly not be the reason.

    The problem, in my opinion, is that people have forgotten how to vote with their buying dollar because they have become so used to the idea that the real way to get things done is through legislation. If we transitioned to a free market slowly, and educated the populace, I think you would see the majority of people use that newfound power for what they believe in. It is no different than legislation is now, except that it reacts more quickly, is sure to reflect the majority mindset, and cannot be corrupted.

    That being said, I will admit that there are a few, specific, situations where government intervention is desirable. However, my acceptable level is probably about 1/100th of the current level, so I suspect we still strongly disagree.



    Again, I apologize if I offended anyone by picking apart their posts. I think discussion of such issues is extremely important. Even if none of the debaters change their views it provides an excellent resource for lurkers who may be sitting on the fence. Heck, I learned almost everything I know about logic, critical thinking, physics, and astrophysics by lurking on another forum watching debates like this.
    Good stuff again, Nicholas. Perhaps the place to go from here it to talk about specifics. What actual regulations do you see that are hampering business? Filing Environmental Impact Statments? Occupational Safety and Hazard regulations? Pollution standards? Family leave bills? Anti-trust legislation? Should price-fixing be allowed? Child labor? Should there be ANY regulations?

    Capslock
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    My photos are copyright-free and public domain

  5. #45
    Cardiac Nurse JB_OrchidGuy's Avatar
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    My word this has been a good thread so far.
    JB
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  6. #46
    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    I Heart Wal-mart.

    Lol, it's like that southpark episode where Wal-mart comes to town and it sucks everyone in with it's outragously low prices. Everyone shops at wal-mart, and it never lets you go.

    As far as child labor goes, all I have to say is tiny hands make tiny stitches

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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]How is someone supposed to start up a new company to compete with Chevron?
    Well, I suppose someone isn't, but some entity is. There is no shortage of wealthy people and companies with a lot of usable capital. If a company is too large for any private person to compete with that does not preclude another large company from competing. I can guarantee that if Chevron starts using a 750% markup on a product they have a monopoly over, another company will expend the capital necessary to get into the industry and charge a 700% markup, thus seducing many Chevron customers with their low prices and still earning a sizable profit. This will, invariably, begin a price war that will drive prices to the lowest level possible while cover operating costs and modest growth.

    The only time it is not so simple is when the barriers to entry go beyond financial. An example of this would be laying all new telecom wires or trying to write a new OS (OS/2 Warp anyone?). However, our current regulations do not focus exclusively on these situations.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]In many cases, the pay of just the CEO won't result in much of a price increase, so to meaningfully reduce prices to compete, you'd have to shrink the entire pay structure of management. Try recruiting good talent that way. There is a self-imposed entrenched management culture in American business.
    That may be so, but I take exception to your comment about recruiting good talent on several levels:

    First, the salary for upper management must come from somewhere. In your example it is coming from inflated pricing on the companies products which increases it above the competition's pricing. If this company is still able to survive and, further, force the competition to increase their prices then that indicates that the upper management is providing greater value to the company than that same decrease in product price would. In other words: they are worth it.

    In a free market a company will survive and flourish only if they are able to provide the best service to consumers for the best price. If a competitor could pay management less and the decrease in price would be worth more to consumers than the resultant decrease in quality, then I guarantee a competitor would do so. Similarly, if a competitor could maintain product quality by shifting that extra pay to the lower level workers instead of management and use that higher quality to outsell the company, then I again guarantee that they would. Thus managers will receive higher pay because they are worth that higher pay to the company, or they will not receive higher pay at all.

    You said this yourself better than I did by saying that an employee's pay should be tied to the value they provide to the company. A free market insures that they are providing that value at all times. You seem to have taken it as an axiom that management is not worth this wage while that hasn't been shown at all.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]History is rife with vivid examples of what happens when there are no worker protections.
    I would like to discuss specific examples if possible. Could you list some examples that you feel existed because of a free market system and were alleviated by regulation?




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Sure, slave labor would result in lower prices, and therefore a competitive advantage for that company.
    But only if the products could be produced at the same quality as higher paid employees. My company could fire me and use my wage to hire twenty unskilled uneducated 'slave labor' workers to build their web applications instead. However, those workers simply would not be able to build the same quality product that I could. You are forgetting that the job market is also working on a free market principle. My pay is as high as it is because if it were not other companies would offer me a huge raise to work for them instead. If a company wants to maintain high quality in a high tech industry it must maintain fair wages.

    Now, assume my job was of the nature that my company could replace me with two minimum wage workers and get the same quality. In this case I think we would both agree that there is no problem with this as I was not providing much value to the company; I was more overpaid than the CEOs you referred to above. This provides an incentive for me to continually improve my skills and to work my skillset towards higher tech, and higher value, areas. This is good for the economy.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Besides, in today's entrenched corporate culture, the executive level flits around from job to job, so the CEO and his team now aren't necessarily going to be there in two years. So they tend to think in terms of next quarter's results. And the temptation is always there to cut costs - almost always at the low end.
    But again we come back to the concept of value. Not every company does this. So if executives are truly thinking and acting only short term then their competitors would produce a competitive product with a lower price to put them out of business. However, short term employment does not imply lack of value. I've done a lot of contract work, sometimes being with a company for as little as three or six months, but I can assure you that the work I did when I was there was of great value to the company and is probably still being used by most.

    I would also point out that the big fad in the past decade has been for companies to 'clean house' at the higher end. Almost everywhere I've worked has gone through a series of cuts to decrease unneeded management so they can streamline their workflow and make their prices more competitive. This is the free market at work.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]People don't think in terms of the good of the community when they just need a trash can. They don't look where it's made, what the conditions are, how the workers are treated. It's just not practical to fully absorb the big picture with every purchase ou make.
    I disagree with the last statement. I will not buy any product from Sony, which covers a wide range of products while only needing to have researched and remembered a single company. However, I will agree that most consumers won't absorb the big picture with every purchase.

    But let's talk about that trash can. What labor was required to create that? How much value was the random worker who touched that adding to the company and adding to the community? We already agreed that employees should be paid based on the value they add. If a trashcan can be produced by a minimum wage teenager, who has no training but desperately wants money to buy the new Evanescence CD, why should we be concentrating on taking that job away from them? Why should we inflate the cost of trash cans, in essence taxing the public, to support the worker in that position? What we should instead do is encourage that worker to aspire toward a job that will provide greater value and wealth to the community and their employer. A free market does this by nature.

    I understand that not every low-paying job is held by a pimply teenager. However, those positions need to be there for those teenagers to gain experience and training. If experienced adults are stuck there by choice it is not our place to help them get something they did not earn. This is a choice they have made and it is their right to make that choice. While there will be a small percentage of workers who are stuck in that position by circumstance and who cannot get out, they need to be specifically targeted for help which can be done most effectively with a private charity. Government legislation will target the larger subgroup and waste a large portion of available capital on those who do not need, or do not deserve, the help while simultaneously having negative effects on the economy as a whole.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]stop monopolies (something the Libertarian party simply doesn't have an answer for that satisfies me)
    I think the burden of proof is on me on this one. Give me some time to gather some examples and details and compose a proper response. I'll get back to you soon.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]and to keep the relentless push for efficiency and profit from harming our communities.
    Could you specify exactly what harm you are referring to? As I discuss below, I think the free market does just the opposite.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]If you make a poll and ask people whether they want their community businesses to be replaced by giant chain stores by the highway, they'd say no. But when they need a new snowblower, they can save $50 by going to Wal Mart, so they do it.
    If I may, I would like to try a different analogy: If you ask me if I would want to drive around in a new Ferrari instead of my Firehawk, I'll say "yes!" in an instant. But when it comes time to buy a new car, I won't pick up a Ferrari if I have to pay $300,000 for it. A new variable, the cost, was not there in the poll's hypothetical question.

    In your example above you are asking them initially if they would prefer smaller shops. However, you're not taking into account any cost involved. That is why those same people that answer "yes" to you will go to Wal-Mart. It's because to many people having Ma-and-Pa shops instead of chain stores is not worth a few hundred, or a few thousand, dollars per year. Again, please don't mistake my objectivism for my opinion: I frequent small businesses as often as I can; I think there is a place for both small and large businesses. But the place of the government is to consider what the populace wants; not what I want.

    If you design a poll that asks people (and gets serious responses) if they would want their community businesses to be replaced by giant chain stores by the highway if it meant they could save $250 per month, I think you would see the results match relatively closely to the number of people who shop at Wal-Mart for their new snowblower rather than Ted's Hardware down the street. Once the populace is placed back into a mindset that the proper way to do things is through voting with their buying dollar instead of through legislation, I think you will see that results of the poll match reality almost perfectly.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]We get together in societies to take advantage of what cooperation and group efforts can accomplish. Why would voluntarily set up the economic rules in ways that crush small buisnesses (and therefore entrepreneurship)? Why would we set up the business rules in ways that hurt towns and cities?
    But where is a free market shown to do this? As I mentioned above I think legislation causes more harm than a free market. The idea of most regulation is to 'equalize' the playing field, or treat physical land or government funds like a 'common'. This results in what is called Tragedy_of_the_commons. When you allow free access to a finite resource you have a psychological phenomena occur where everyone takes as much as they can with the rationalization that everyone else will do the same so they better get what they can now; if everyone else does not, then their over-taxation of the resource will be so miniscule that it will not make a difference. However, with everyone taking as much as they can the common resource is quickly depleted or destroyed. For instance, when you see someone litter in the park or on the highway, do you think they do the same in their own yard?

    There is not an exception when politics is involved. Collected taxes become a common that individuals can exploit via pet projects and terribly managed programs that can only exist because of government intervention. While some subsidies can provide a viable service (though whether it should be done is questionable), many fall prey to this same issue, and most government organizations and bureaus become complacent without competition. Privatization is the best way to avoid this problem.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Looking back, would you say that the problem with business was that executives didn't get enough pay and the low-paid workers made too much? I wouldn't.
    I would say that for me to express an opinion on that, and enforce it through legislation, would be to imply that I am in some sort of preferred, elite reference frame. I am a citizen, no greater and no less than you, and I do not believe I have the right to make such a decision on behalf of the other 300 million citizens in this country. I have the greatest respect for science and logic, and have learned over the past years how much all of it relies on objectivity and the willingness to question even the most basic truths we believe we know. As such, I would say that the evidence contradicts your assertion; as I discussed above those executives are obviously providing greater value than they were receiving pay for, or they would not have seen such a drastic increase.

    I also want to point out that having wealthy individuals can help to accomplish things that cannot be done via simple government funding nor middle-class investment. For instance, Anousheh Ansari's contributions made the X-Prize possible, which was one of the single most important steps to jumpstarting the privatization of space. Several more X-Prize's are in the works, the next one dealing with advances in medical science. These have, and will, provide priceless advances in our knowledge and technology, but no elected official would put government money towards such laudable goals (nor do I feel they would have the right to) and no private company would invest in such a program without polluting it with insistence of return on investment.

    Further, wealthy individuals still donate to various charities just as middle class individuals do, though I will wait to say more on this until I have time to research what percentage of their income goes to charity vs. the percentage of middle class income that does.




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]I am the highest paid person here, but instead of making several hundred times what the average person makes, I make roughly double. In part because we pay ourselves modest salaries all things considered, and in part because we pay our people a lot. If we put out a hit piece of software, everyone will benefit. In most similar companies, if there is a hit piece of software, the corporate ownership alone will make a bunch of money. Because we're among the last of the independents that haven't been snapped in a conglomeration spree that's infected all media for a while now, and when you have a corporate parent, the whole reason they bought you is to get the money.
    That is very admirable. If I may ask, do you feel that the employees you have are a representative sample of the industry, or do you feel they are great at what they do? If the latter, then do you feel that your competitive pay structure may have something to do with this and given you an edge against your competition?




    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Good stuff again, Nicholas. Perhaps the place to go from here it to talk about specifics. What actual regulations do you see that are hampering business? Filing Environmental Impact Statments? Occupational Safety and Hazard regulations? Pollution standards? Family leave bills? Anti-trust legislation? Should price-fixing be allowed? Child labor? Should there be ANY regulations?
    I apologize, but I am getting tight on time and will have to get back to you on some of this. I will say that yes, there should be some regulations, but there needs to be an objectively defined outline that can be used to define what those should be; the Constitution may be a good start for that.


    Remember that for every really visible program put into effect, there are a plethora of pork barrel projects going on behind the scenes and pet projects funded with public money. This sort of corruption is fueled by self-righteous elitism and cannot be stamped out no matter what system you have in place. The only way to prevent government corruption from affecting us so greatly is to reduce government's scope and power.

    I will quickly note on child labor that I don't know how the laws are written right now, but I donít think there should need to be any business regulations regarding it as it should fall directly under citizens' rights. We live in a republic, which respects the rights of the individual, and as such those individuals should be protected from unfair exploitation. This is a complicated subject, though, because even the best of intentions can get muddied in the gray area of the real world and often cause more harm than good if not tightly restricted.

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