Is Capitalism Moral?


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Remarkable man by the way...been reading his stuff for years as well as hearing him on the radio.

Williams's family during childhood consisted of his mother, his sister, and him. His father played no role in raising either child.[3] He grew up in Philadelphia. The family initially lived in West Philadelphia, moving to North Philadelphia and the Richard Allen housing projects when Williams was ten. His neighbors included a young Bill Cosby. Williams knew many of the individuals that Cosby speaks of from his childhood, including Weird Harold and Fat Albert.[4]

His military service was quite interesting:

] In 1959 he was drafted into the military, and served as a Private in the United States Army.[4][6] While stationed in the south, he "waged a one man battle against Jim Crow from inside the army. He challenged the racial order with provocative statements to his fellow soldiers. This resulted in an overseeing officer filing a court-martial proceeding against Williams. Williams argued his own case, and was found not guilty.[4] While considering filing countercharges against the officer that had brought him up for court martial, Williams found himself transferred to Korea. Upon arriving there, Williams marked "Caucasian" for race on his personnel form. When challenged on this, Williams replied wryly if he had marked "Black", he would end up getting all the worst jobs. From Korea Williams wrote a letter to President John F. Kennedy denouncing the pervasive racism in the American government and military, and questioning the actions black Americans should take given the state of affairs, writing:

Should Negroes be relieved of their service obligation or continue defending and dying for empty promises of freedom and equality? Or should we demand human rights as our Founding Fathers did at the risk of being called extremists ... I contend that we relieve ourselves of oppression in a manner that is in keeping with the great heritage of our nation.[4]

He received a reply from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Alfred B. Fitt, a response which he termed "the most reasonable response that I received from any official."[7]

I knew that he was quite radical and Malcolm X attracted him also.

Speaking of his early college days, Williams says "I was more than anything a radical. I was more sympathetic to Malcolm X than Martin Luther King because Malcolm X was more of a radical who was willing to confront discrimination in ways that I thought it should be confronted, including perhaps the use of violence. But I really just wanted to be left alone. I thought some laws, like minimum-wage laws, helped poor people and poor black people and protected workers from exploitation. I thought they were a good thing until I was pressed by professors to look at the evidence."

And then Sowell and he struck up a lifelong friendship, no surprise.

While Williams was at UCLA, Thomas Sowell arrived on campus in 1969 as a visiting professor. Although he never took a class from Dr. Sowell, the two met and began a friendship that has lasted to this day. In the summer of 1972 Sowell was hired as director of the Urban Institute's Ethnic Minorities Project, which Williams joined shortly thereafter[9] Correspondence between Sowell and Williams appears in the 2007 "A Man of Letters" by Sowell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_E._Williams <<<< it is Wiki so check anything you intend to use...

Capitalism the unknown ideal is on his reading list:

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/readings.html

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I've found that Capitalism and morality are symbiotic and that you cannot have one without the other. Capitalism without morality is not Capitalism at all. It is something else. But the parasitic left tries to claim that it is. Why? It is to discredit Capitalism because they're failures at it and feel entitled to leech off of what others produce and to employ government looters to do it.

In my opinion, in America today... less than half of the US economy is Capitalist. Now the economy is mostly driven by debt and government transfer of wealth... neither of which are Capitalism.

The government issues about 80,000,000 payments every month, and that does not include the 100,000,000 Medicare providers and vendors whose claims are paid. Nor does it include the Military which issues 1,000,000 payments a month, as well as paying 600,000 monthly travel expense claims.

This puts the number of government monthly payments closer to 200,000,000.

The population of America is 330,000,000.

Greg

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WW and his explanations are mostly utilitarian. He does get some morality in there, especially the morality of being a producer and not being in the zero-sum government benefits' game. However, from the start he pushes aside any considerations of "selfishness" and "greed"--obviously used by him in the conventional sense. That means he cores out by omission the heart of Objectivist moral philosophy. In almost all if not all of their writings, he and Thomas Sowell have little or no truck with Objectivism. Essentially they are free-market conservatives and only coincidentally libertarian. (Sounds like Greg.) I think the dividing line between these two groups is lack of referencing individual rights. Individual rights are political expressions of morality. Objectivism ties that into the Objectivist Ethics while libertarians stay with Utopian politics and, logically therefore, with anarchism. Rand wasn't willing to give up her own political Utopianism and that is what sucked in the libertarians, if not making many young persons libertarians in and by itself. But they didn't want the rest of the baggage including, in her own lifetime, of being an Ayn Rand suck up, which was her implicit demand she kept rendering real with her kick-out-itis. I'm sure if she had lived another ten years, even Leonard Peikoff would have had enough--or been literally shown the door. LP. btw, was also in his soul, a utilitarian. He stuck with Rand because of all he had invested in her philosophy. He ended up in a natural and logical dead-end, refusing to break the momentum and logic of his own life for something beter and much more rational. Afterall, dog-legs aren't pretty. He wanted to be pretty, but the throne he made for himself to sit on turned into a different kind of throne.

--Brant

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Individual rights are political expressions of morality. Objectivism ties that into the Objectivist Ethics

I suppose so. What she achieved in Fountainhead was a convincing case for personal integrity, the hero's journey as Joseph Campbell explained it in mythological terms. In Atlas, her monumental breakthrough was the sanction of the victim. I don't think her notions about legal rights or "political expressions of morality" were original or significant.

Scott Fitzgerald said something in Tender Is The Night that got my attention and never forgot. His main character, Dick Diver, had one or two good ideas, all he would ever know or discover. I feel that way about Ayn Rand, about myself, about everyone in all of human history. Thomas Jefferson had one or two good ideas, for instance, mixed up with a lot of crummy ones later in life. Not sure if Peikoff ever conceived an original idea?

Ellsworth Toohey's individual rights are a pile of peanuts.

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Wolf writes:

"In Atlas, her monumental breakthrough was the sanction of the victim."

The brilliancy of that moral principle illuminates the pages. It is remarkable in that it rightfully places all of the responsibility on each individual, while taking away the justification to angrily blame (unjustly accuse) others.

In my opinion, all of the evil acts in this world begin with the angry blame (unjust accusation) of someone else... because evil always begins with believing a lie.

Greg

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Individual rights are political expressions of morality. Objectivism ties that into the Objectivist Ethics

I suppose so. What she achieved in Fountainhead was a convincing case for personal integrity, the hero's journey as Joseph Campbell explained it in mythological terms. In Atlas, her monumental breakthrough was the sanction of the victim. I don't think her notions about legal rights or "political expressions of morality" were original or significant.

Scott Fitzgerald said something in Tender Is The Night that got my attention and never forgot. His main character, Dick Diver, had one or two good ideas, all he would ever know or discover. I feel that way about Ayn Rand, about myself, about everyone in all of human history. Thomas Jefferson had one or two good ideas, for instance, mixed up with a lot of crummy ones later in life. Not sure if Peikoff ever conceived an original idea?

Ellsworth Toohey's individual rights are a pile of peanuts.

If this is your understanding of Ayn Rand she blew right past you leaving "one or two good ideas" in her wake.

You sound defeatist. You write as if you are projecting your sense of self onto others. Don't get me too wrong; we all do that. We are interactive social beings. That's why babies and youngsters are so wonderful. And take a dog. A dog wants to work and play and be happy. A depressed dog is an abused dog. We humans are more complicated. We think ourselves down. We self abuse and make ourselves into our own victims. This is especially true of Americans in that most of our victimhood is internally generated. First-hand victimization is what happens from existential factors. Second-hand is self-generated. A depressed American--all else being equal (no illness, abuse, etc.)--is a second-hander. One way out of that mess is getting rid of one's automated negative thinking. This is very hard to do. That's because negative thoughts re-enforce themselves and can be reduced to a catalyst that makes all that stored up negativity create the depression with only a few words as paragraphs for (previous) thoughts.

Rand ramped up in her politics-economics through her discussions with Isabel Patterson. The sanction of the victim is pretty much there throughout her work but, as you said, particularly in Atlas Shrugged. It goes hand in hand with the impotence of evil. Toohey was impotent. Peter Keating's potency was through Howard Roark. The entirety of that novel was structured on Roark's mistake of helping Keating with his work. The effectiveness of that petered out for Peter leaving him without his delusions and an empty unhonored self. (You can say that today about the world's economies sustained by the parasitism of central banking pumping money into artificial consumptive capital structures displacing real capital with a pile of money as debt. That's coming a cropper too; it's Peter Keating economics.)

I have no understanding of your remark about Toohey and "rights." Rand didn't generally give positive explications to her evil characters. For a remark like that you need a page reference or explication. The novel was not about politics. The novel was about why Howard Roark was an invincible human being--it was his I N T E G R I T Y --just like you said. That's not an "idea"? She hardly wrote a sentence without ideas falling out. So what if it was a lot of re-packaging? That's standard intellectual SOP.

--Brant

and Ayn Rand disappears in the distance (?)

Ayn Rand is at least as important to me as she's always been, but my perspective has changed and grown (for I've grown)

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One way to deal with this thread's question, "Is Capitalism Moral?" is to also ask the question, "Is Socialism Moral?"

--Brant

hit 'em with the right fist then hit 'em with the left fist then kick the statists when they're down!

and trample trample trample them to dust! (metamorphically speaking)

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I have no understanding of your remark about Toohey and "rights."

Well, let's think about it. Toohey had all the same constitutional and legal rights that Roark did. He could vote, organize a labor union, testify in court, speak at a public meeting or publish a book without prior restraint. As a working stiff Toohey was entitled to Social Security and Medicare (like Ayn Rand) and labor relations law that reinstated him at The Banner. Toohey's life, liberty and property were protected by the cops, US military, and common law courts.

About capitalism

"Capital" means capital plant and equipment. When it's time to cut a bar of steel in half or punch a tunnel through a mountain, all the haircuts, sovereign debts, central bankers, and newspaper columns in the world can't do it. However decorative and amusing Disney movies, tourists, sportsmen and priests purport to be, in reality consumption contributes nothing to the work of production. Whether the capital in question is a paintbrush, or a petrochemical plant, or an oil rig, or the pipe-welding robots and steel mills that make it possible to exploit a naturally inaccessible, dangerous, useless raw muck, the productive power of tangible investment in the form of industrial plant and equipment is the literal (and largely forgotten) basis of capitalism.

Before you can have a market, you need goods. Pieces of paper and taxes are not goods; they are merely claims to goods. Let's talk about actual physical goods: food, clothing, shelter, energy to keep us warm in the winter, mechanized transport, medicine and sanitation. These are tangible, life-sustaining physical goods that free societies enjoy in great abundance.

We need to look at capitalism from a simple, proletarian perspective — at the level of nuts and bolts and seed grain. Free enterprise rewards study, forethought, frugality, fidelity, intelligence, initiative, willingness to experiment, and showing up for work every day, ready to work whether it's fun or not. This is the reality of work, whether the work is skilled or unskilled, physical or mental. Most employers recognize and reward productivity. It is in their interest to recruit and retain able, hard working people. No employer deliberately hires lazy sycophants and stooges.

— except in government. Political office rewards conventionality, seniority, multiple meaningless rituals, symbolic gestures, half-truths, evasions, deliberate delay, trading the unearned, shaking hands, smiling, empty platitudes, feigned concern, absolute allegiance to the party line and the party leader, secret deals, backbiting, paranoia and showing up at cocktail parties to beg for money and favors.

Capital plant and equipment is the lifeblood and sinew of private enterprise. The vast bulk of productive investment is NOT financed by the so-called "capital markets," nor from government handouts or tax breaks, but instead from retained earnings. Proper maintenance of plant and equipment is a crucial priority for every factory, every farm, and every pilot of an 18-wheeler. Freedom implies responsibility. If your competitors have better technology, they cut costs and win customers. The free market economy is a school in permanent session, teaching every participant the virtue of practical education. We don't always enjoy learning to use new tools — but we do it to stay in business and to make ends meet. Until very recently, the secular trend across all industries throughout American economic history has been falling prices and rising productivity. The computer on my desk cost $1000 and quietly outperforms any $1,000,000 mainframe built 30 years ago.

None of this applies to government. The bulk of state investment is NOT obtained from its operational revenue or taxation, which barely cover the salaries and pensions of a constantly growing number of government drones. Badly-timed, over-specified, bloated investment in state plant and equipment (weapons, office buildings, roads) are funded by the one and only "capital market" that governments care about — sovereign bond auctions. US bureaucrats, legislators, military planners and school districts have no incentive to maintain their plant and equipment. Dependence implies irresponsibility. Whether you view the government as a recipient of our willing charity, or as a thief who holds taxpayers at gunpoint, the essence of the game is dependence. Government makes nothing, sells nothing, earns nothing. Their entire strategy is to elaborate and expand governmental operations, preferably to do less with more...

What many people mistakenly call "capitalism" is the intangible financial services conducted by intermediaries who trade claims to wealth at varying dates and terms of payment. In J.P. Morgan's day, it was called banking. It's the pixie dust that allegedly pulled America into a healthier and happier service economy. Because it has no furnaces, factories, or chemical effluents, it is 100 percent eco friendly. Like the government which regulates financial services and enforces debt contracts, banking is inert of productive power. All the bankers and brokers in the City of London couldn't make a ham sandwich without help from farms, factories, oil wells, refineries, power plants, transportation, butchers, bakers, and nuclear candlestick makers.

[COGIGG, pp.101-103]

There are more Tooheys than Roarks. The problem we face today is a socialist US, governed by Tooheys.

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Actually there are only one of each by the metrics we are using. As for productive vs unproductive, that's a more rational beginning orientation.

Most of the rest of your material seems to be utilitarian or "bathtub economics." That's not the way Rand approached rights or politics--or economics.

Even Toohey deserves a better sentence than the one you put him in. The grace of that is not on him, but on Rand.

--Brant

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Ayn Rand on Social Security and Medicare may deserve a thread. Of the two I consider the first more debatable than the second. The reason is Medicare has driven medical care from Chevrolet pricing into Cadillac pricing so you take it or risk being bankrupted. Government has also driven the price of a college education through the roof. Basically it's the same problem of prices expanding to absorb all the available money.

So, let's talk about Social Security--at least at first.

The problem of the idea you deserve SS because of past taxes paid and extorted does not account for the fact that that money was spent. Never mind the phoney bonds owned by SS. They are all electronic digits created out of nothing. The actual money is gone. It is quite credible that Rand did not recognize her position as a rationalization. Frankly, she didn't need SS but she also must have paid tremendous amounts in taxes over the years. So, I excuse her for that. Period.

This raises the fact of the nature of the national debt. Let's say it's 15 trillion dollars. This debt is also phoney and of no real consequence. All the money has been spent. Through a balance of trade deficit, for example, China has accumulated dollars. What to do with them? Why buy US T-Bills. The US government says "Thank you, China!" and spends those real dollars. (Some of them are then used to buy more goods made in China, likely through a contracting back and forth percentage if not augmented by more deficit spending.) The dollars are gone, gone, gone or going gone! China can present every single T-Bill to the US Treasury on maturity and get dollars in exchange--even real paper dollars but would gladly settle for electronic dollars. Where do those new dollars come from--they are new for US taxpayers don't pay enough dollar taxes to cover them? Somebody pushes a button and Viola!--they they be! No sweat, no tears. The bond markets themselves hardly affected for it's been mostly already discounted.

If you or I do that it's counterfeiting. Not the case for the US government. That's why today's buck would be worth 2 cents a hundred years ago and maybe 98 cents less a hundred years from now. Don't bury any in your backyard.

--Brant

don't worry about the national debt, worry about your dollars retaining their value (another discussion)

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"Capitalism" is more pixie dust , more esoteric than the sinew of physical plants, the bankers don't need to make a ham sandwich, they just need to go to Katz's and that's more than his counters and slicers.

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Derek writes:

I always liked the line-

" The problem isn't capitalism, the problem is the capitalists"

The only real problem is the "Capitalists" who are Creditists.

It's moral justice that their problems are rightfully their own...

...and not anyone else's. :smile:

Greg

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tmj writes:

Capitalism" is more pixie dust...

That "pixie dust" makes personal financial independence an objective reality.

Greg

By pixie dust I meant abstract. By oxymoron I mean what I think you meant by "personal financial independence". Russian oligarchs , capitalists?

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tmj writes:

By pixie dust I meant abstract.

I see.

It's totally up to each individual whether or not they make Capitalism a reality in their own life. A high price is paid for not doing it.

Greg

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tmj writes:

By pixie dust I meant abstract.

I see.

It's totally up to each individual whether or not they make Capitalism a reality in their own life. A high price is paid for not doing it.

Greg

Everyone would profit from thinking and acting rationally , from their own actions and in their dealings with others, especially in that the 'others' were acting rationally too. But that in itself won't guarantee that someone won't come and try and take from them through force. From what I think a rational perspective looks like , everyone would want to live in the most capitalistic society they could find. The society would need to be 'engineered' toward making capitalistic relationships between individuals the norm, so a society based on the idea of the protection of individuals rights.

Not all people see 'it' this way , so for some the price to be paid for what they see as security , a kind of guaranteed mediocrity isn't that high, it's actually just right. I don't think a lesson on the difference between credit and debt is a good way to show someone the bigger picture.

You arguments make it seem like you view a 'prepper's' accumulation of material for future consumption as living as a Capitalist and not just someone who has prepared to ride out an 'inevitable' civil collapse(.Because it was foretold a cosmic vengeance will not be denied, because it was foretold)

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The largest bank ever to fail in the US was WaMu. It grew to 2k national locations with 30k employees.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-lost-bank-the-story-of-washington-mutual-by-kirsten-grind/2012/07/20/gJQAsPoQ0W_story.html

Whether Capitalism is a moral/ideal economic system is answered by W. Williams and A. Rand. But is it a practical system?

There really has to be big time trust when entrusting your money, your retirement, your nest egg, what you intend to rely on at 64 to an entity. Sure FDIC is there for depositors up to $250k. Beyond that nothing will save their loss from being your loss. Perhaps a difference in quality of life.

Killinger wasnt as financially exposed personally as a result of his failed oversight as CE of the bank. He still has his houses.

"If Killinger was clueless about the amateur way his company was being run, it wasn’t long before even some of the normally sympathetic bank examiners at the Office of Thrift Supervision took notice. They were, in their own words, “concerned” about the quality of mortgages in WaMu’s portfolio, “concerned” about the bank’s underwriting standards and “concerned” about the concentration of higher-risk loans on its balance sheet."

What manner of deterrent is available in the free market/legal system to make a banker personally responsible for errors he created?

"Grind is much more comfortable telling stories than drawing broad analytical conclusions about finance, corporate culture or public policy."

At the center of her book is Ramona Hermanez, a willing "victim" of her own desires and the consequences she created along with that of the banking industry. And Killinger.....his personal embarrassment.

"Although he didn’t say so, perhaps what really irritates Killinger about Grind’s book is that she calls attention to his midlife crisis, complete with the predictable divorce, remarriage and headlong rush into the corporate fast lane: private jet travel, lavish homes, a fancy new headquarters and, of course, a big boost in executive compensation."

His punishment didnt fit the "crime". The writer of the article, correctly admonishes the author and, imo, proponents of Capitalism, in saying there were no "analytical conclusions about finance, corporate culture or public policy."

An alternative to stuffing a mattress with life savings and dealing with sleep deprivation might be private citizens could audit the auditors of private institutions and safeguard their monies. But advocates of Capitalism might put their shoulder into solutions statists can sleep with more comfortably.

The money vanished overnight, leaving no individuals nor remnants of WaMu left to prosecute for the disaster as statists moved in for the kill. On a scale thats never happened before in the US, WaMus' wealth destruction leaves unanwered - the question of whether the moral is the practical.

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Is capitalism "a practical system?"

Let's try it out and see what happens.

We could use the Penn-Central disaster of decades ago for the same conversation.

--Brant

airplanes crash, ships sink, cars collide and people drown

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