Socialists and the credit crunch. Far left policies are... what?

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ecopinko

Fidel wrote:

I think we should utilize the Bank of Canada to carry some of enormous national debt built up by our two fiscal Frankenstein parties since the neoliberal 80's and 90's. And I think Canada needs a national investment bank would be a good idea for investing in Canada and financing projects at local levels, too.

 

I would like to see something like that started in Canada, but of course without local control it would inevitably turn into a patronage trough for party hacks (a la Millienium Scholarship Foundation).

 

Fidel wrote:

I think revolutions tend to happen under the most repressive conditions. We're not quite there yet in Canada. Canadians still have a high tolerance for inequality for the most part.

 

I think the bigger barrier to a revolution in Canada is the total lack of faith the average worker has in themselves and in their organizations (such as they are) to be powerful, which is not an unfounded fear in the present situation.

If we could build the political infrastructure, I think we would a) possibly not 'need' a repressive government to rebel against, and b) be ready for when the next shitstorm hits (like this economic crisis) and be ready to rock. 

Fidel wrote:

And why does socialism necessarily have to be arrived at by violent revolution? It's not like socialists have had to seize power ... because democracy stands between socialism and federal power.

Well, it doesn't have to be violent. Quite frankly, I would hope it isn't. But to be equally frank, I doubt capital will give up anything without a fight - and since a strengthing of the left often coexists with a strengthing of the right, violence can be inevitable. But that's so far off down the road so as to be irrelevant.

Fidel wrote:

What about democracy? What about the Nordic and European social democracies? They are not perfect but certainly something to aspire to compared to neoliberalism in these last bastions of political conservatism in the English-speaking countries - these three or four countries where an obsolete electoral system is still the rule. Canada's social democrats have suggested that Canada, too, could also join the ranks of advanced democracies.

Yup, I'd love to see some PR electoral reform, preferably STV (since it allows for more independent voices and less party control). That being said, I don't think that's going to go far enough. We can't reform our way out of capitalism -reform is dependent on political elites leading the way, and (like Debs said) if you can lead someone in, you can lead them out. A successful social revolution will only happen once the timing is right - and since that's something no one can predict, the best we can do it organize, agitate, and build for the future, and be politically involved without losing sight of our end goals. Which for me means socialist organizing, not social democratic organizing.

Doesn't mean I don't support reform, just not reform for it's own sake - it's gotta lead to something more!

 

genstrike

Well, that is a question of what we want as an end goal.  It seems like me and ecopinko want to actually eliminate capitalism, while you favour a social democratic approach which is basically capitalism with some elements of socialism like healthcare, unemployment insurance, and perhaps free tuition (although you seem to point to free tuition in countries like Sweden as a positive example but oppose any lowering or even not raising of tuition in Manitoba).  I'm sure both me and ecopinko would rather live in a social-democratic society than a right-wing capitalist one, but that isn't our end goal.

And, since we have these different end goals, your end goal can be accomplished by reformism and working within our bourgeois capitalist parliamentary system and electing left of centre politicians*, roads which do not lead to the fulfillment of our end goals.

 

*until they betray you like a whole crop of recent politicians such as Tony Blair, Bob Rae, Gary Doer, and anyone associated with the New Zealand Labour Party in the 1980s, but these betrayals aren't just a recent phenomenon.  Heck, days after getting elected Clement Attlee called in troops to break a strike.  But that is a whole other issue...

Fidel

The Swedes and Norges and Fins and Danes have advanced democracy in those countries. How did they achieve social democracy?

Sweden is a country whose population is somewhere between Alberta's and Ontario's. And they are able to provide free university for all - well funded socialized medicine - generous unemployment insurance benefits and job retraining second to few other countries -  a national daycare program - and an economy ranking in the top ten most competitive global economies for the last several years running. All that while plowing around a third of national income back into social programs. And their social democrats didnt have to go viking in order to do it. Why cant Canada's social democrats win by democratic choice in Canada and set a shining example for democracy right next door to the USA, that other English speaking country that can't seem to keep its army at home for very long?

 

 

ecopinko

From Solidarity  in the USA: The Financial Meltdown and a Socialist Response.

Near the end, David Finkel lists a couple of US-specific demands:

Solidarity US wrote:

Regulation in itself, however, does little to address the real
catastrophe facing tens of millions of working class families. And yet
the measures that need to be taken in this emergency are quite clear,
including these:

  • * Immediate ban on foreclosures. Not only homeowners are being thrown
    on the street, but renters who didn’t even know their landlords were in
    foreclosure! Thanks to some popular struggles, the Cook County (IL)
    sheriff has suspended eviction of renters – an example that needs to
    spread. But no one should lose their home until there’s a –
  • * Rewriting of mortgages to their real value. There’s no point in
    pretending that homes in today’s market are worth their paper value in
    the housing bubble. Mortgages on primary residences, not only those now
    in foreclosure, need to be written down by 30-40%, with interest
    payments reduced to abolish those subprime “adjustable-rate” schemes
    that were jammed down the throats of lower-income people and
    communities of color. (There are many cases where African-American
    women in particular could only get these extortion-rate loans even
    though their income and credit rating should have qualified for
    standard-rate mortgages.)
  • * The government should take over these mortgages, paying the banks
    no more than their actual – not paper – value, and the more subprime
    lenders that go out of business in the process, the better. Further, no
    family should have to make mortgage payments exceeding 15% of household
    income. This will also have the effect of a serious “stimulus program”
    for working class America.
  • * Change government priorities to what we need and eliminate what we
    can’t afford. At a time when federal, state and city budgets are choked
    by debt, “what we can’t afford” is obvious: the cost of empire. That
    means the Bush gang’s $3 trillion war in Iraq has got to go. U.S.
    military bases in 150 countries; hundreds of billions for weapons in
    space; those bloated contracts for Halliburton and private mercenary
    forces like Blackwater – all those expenses need to be zeroed out, and
    the world as well as our own society will be better for it.

What is it then that we really need? For openers, the following:

  • * Guaranteed universal health care is an absolute must, especially at
    a time of growing employment insecurity. There are already at least 45
    million people in this country without health insurance, a number
    growing all the time. For all those families, the real-life threat of a
    “terrorist attack” is negligible compared to the daily terror of being
    bankrupted by an illness, or even permanent injury or death from lack
    of treatment. A single paper universal health insurance program is the
    proven, affordable method for resolving this crisis, cutting costs,
    saving lives, and protecting families from bankruptcy at the same time.
  • * A jobs program on the scale of the 1930s is necessary and feasible.
    There is no lack of work to be done – especially when our
    infrastructure needs to be not only repaired but converted to the
    imperatives of a sustainable economy to avoid environmental disaster.
    Wherever corporate America won’t invest in renewable energy, massive
    recycling, mass transit and news transportation technologies, the
    government should step in with the necessary resources, creating
    literally millions of productive jobs at union wages.
  • * Universal higher education can be guaranteed by supporting
    sustainable university tuition at public institutions, and by removing
    the crushing burden of student loans. This society has the resources to
    guarantee free higher education to all – but at the very least, rather
    than leaving school with tens of thousands of dollars in debts they
    can’t pay, students must have access to no-interest loans that they can
    repay after graduation with payments not exceeding 10% of their income.

There’s a great deal more that can and should be done to meet human
needs rather than corporate profit in our society – as well as
addressing the global crises of hunger, poverty and health, and the
threats of irreversible environmental catastrophe within a few short
decades. In reality, the way out of the global economic crisis lies in
a democratically controlled “sustainability revolution” as profound as
the industrial and scientific revolutions of previous centuries. That
journey has to begin with immediate human needs, and the above measures
are first steps in addressing our emergency at home. What’s needed most
urgently right now are the mass labor and social movements capable of
fighting for these demands and winning them!

 

Fidel

Clement Atlee created a great social democracy in Britain - a country with a very significant conservative aristocracy and imperialist baggage. It was Winston Churchill, a right-leaning LIBERAL, who wanted the army calling in and with machine guns, put down striking coal miners prior to world war. Ol Winbag admired General Franco for his ordering some 200 striking miners and socialists shot to death in Spain.

genstrike wants low tuition fees and thinks Gary Doer has the political wherewithall to make it happen at a provincial level, like social democrats have done at the federal level in those countries. But then again, he's not so sure that Gary Doer's authority to tax and subsidize is equal to that of social democrats in the Nordic countries governing at federal levels and opposing at federal levels by proportional electoral systems. But then again, we're not sure about genstrike - only that he's not wild about heaping any blame whatsoever on our neoliberal Liberals in 1990's Ottawa. I guess those guys were just quietly doing their jobs at the time, removing billions of dollars from the federal social transfer, according to at least one "red"-faced apologist for the Liberals who we wont mention. Anyway, enough about those Liberals - I'm too hard on them. We know.

I think Canada has to become its own country. Brian Mulroney promised "jobs, jobs, jobs" as a result of free trade with the U.S. And that country was supposed to achieve what Pinochet's Chile tried to achieve, which was an economy based on banking and financial services, and become a hot destination for international investment. But we can see now that Canada's economy re-achieved our old hewer and drawer status as of 2005. The information economy that never was, is now going away.

Cuba and Sweden and several other countries took risks with investing in science and high tech over the last few decades. We need to produce real wealth and things worthwhile to people. I think health care, education, and basic research should receive billions of dollars more every year. We need to have goals and accept much risk with investing in the future. We need to encourage the best and brightest to go into science and physics and medicine, and wear lab coats to work instead of chalk stripe suits. We need to create a real economy and set real goals for humanity. Exporting Canada's finite fossil fuel supply to the most wasteful and most oil-dependent economy in the world at an ever more frenzied pace is not a real goal for Canadians. There is no future in running out of conventional oil and natural gas reserves. Certain two old line parties in Canada put us all on a road to serfdom with FTA and NAFTA flip-flops, GST and UI-EI-O slush funds, whopping national debts and nothing to show for it not even a measly daycare program at the *national level. Becoming a Northern Puerto Rico without a decent banana growing season is no future for Canadians. We need new blood in Ottawa and to ditch our 19th century electoral system for a fair and modern electoral democracy.

genstrike

From one of my old favourites:  The Labor Party Illusion

Sam Dolgoff wrote:

The record of the Labour Government which ruled Britain from 1945 to 1951
proves that it betrayed every socialist principle and violated nearly all its
pre-election pledges. These betrayals were reflected in its domestic, foreign
and colonial policies.

The direction of Labour Government policy was clearly formulated by a high
party official, Sir Hartley Shawcross, in February, 1946: "I take the
opportunity of making it quite clear that this Government like any Government
as an employer, would feel itself perfectly free to take disciplinary action
that any strike situation might develop demanded."

The Labour Party had pledged itself not to use troops as strike-breakers. Only
six days after coming into power the Labour Government ordered troops to break
a strike of London dock-workers
. This was repeated three months later. The
Government decreed wage freezes and compulsory arbitration.

Pre-election pledges to the effect that the unions would have direct
representation in the management of state owned industries were forgotten.
The
Party, once in power, reversed its traditional opposition to military
conscription in favor of permanent peacetime conscription.

In nationalizing the Bank of England, the coal mines, railways, canals and
other utilities, the Labour Government guaranteed the stockholders the same
income as before.

The principle behind these domestic policies guided Labour Party action in
foreign and colonial affairs as well. Before the dropping of the atom bombs on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, President Truman had obtained the
agreement of the British Labour Government. The military adventures in Greece,
Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Korea and elsewhere caused an increase in the "defense"
budget from 692 million pounds in 1948 to 1032 million pounds in 1951. One
hundred and thirty six Spanish anti-fascists
were deported into the arms
of Franco to certain imprisonment, torture or death.

The Labour Party's defeat in the last General Election was due primarily to the
justified disappointment of the workers with its actions when in power.
In
1945, Arthur Greenwood (Labour Government Privy Seal) said: "I look around my
colleagues and I see landlords, capitalists and lawyers. We are a
cross-section of the national life and this is something that has never
happened before."

it is impossible for any political party of "Labor" to reach power without
concessions to the Right--to the middle class--at the expense of basic
principles. "Labor" (or "Socialist") parties lose their identity and
eventually are found to differ only on minor points from the "conservative"
contenders for power. Labor Partyism is class-collaboration in the political
field and it is just as disastrous for the workers as class-collaboration has
been in the economic field. There is every reason to believe that the same
fate would befall an American labor party if one were established. Advocates
of a labor party in the U.S. could profit by the lessons of the British Labour
Party.

Admittedly, the Attlee government will be remembered as one of the better Labour governments (especially when compared to the likes of Blair), but even his government betrayed and let down its supporters upon taking power.  Attlee might have not been a Churchill, but he wasn't a saint either.

 

Fidel wrote:
genstrike wants low tuition fees and thinks Gary Doer has the political
wherewithall to make it happen at a provincial level, like social
democrats have done at the federal level in those countries. But then
again, he's not so sure that Gary Doer's authority to tax and subsidize
is equal to that of social democrats in the Nordic countries governing
at federal levels and opposing at federal levels by proportional
electoral systems.

Not that I particularly want to drag this thread back to this old issue, but if Doer has the political wherewithall to give tax cuts primarily to the rich and corporations to the tune of $800 million, he has the political wherewithall to spend around $200 million eliminating tuition.

Fidel wrote:
But then again, we're not sure about genstrike

What the fuck is that supposed to mean?  More of your asinine insinuations?

Fidel wrote:
Anyway, enough about those Liberals - I'm too hard on them. We know.

It's not that you're too hard on them, it's that you think that when backed into a corner (or when a thread drifts into the territory of criticizing the NDP), you seem to think that an appropriate counter-argument is some crazy non-sequitur rant about the Liberals.  I generally agree with your criticism of the Liberals, but not with trying to derail a serious discussion with poorly written non-sequitur rants.

 

And back on topic, these ideas put forward by the OP and by a couple of ecopinko's postings are all good ideas and steps forward.  To me, it is a little tricky on deciding what far left policies in response to this economic crisis should be.  Revolution now and implementing a complete anti-capitalist agenda "from below" would be nice, but sadly we need to work on building up the "below" and building prefigurations of the new society within the shell of the old before we're ready for that.

So, basically for any short term program what we wind up doing is instead of proposing a complete anti-capitalist program, we pretty much have to water it down to something that is actually possible to implement "from above" (assuming the politicians cooperate, which is very unlikely).  So, we wind up with a programs that have varying degrees of social democracy (although generally a lot more genuine than the brand proposed by the mainstream political parties) and state intervention.

Sadly, most of these programs generally don't say too much about our relationship with production.  I think some sort of workers self-management would be an important part of a program (which ecopinko touched on with coops), but then we get into a whole bunch of issues of whether true workers self-management can exist in a society that is still fundamentally capitalist (with a few socialist features) and if it can be implemented from above (methinks not)

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

I think Canada has to become its own country. Brian Mulroney promised "jobs, jobs, jobs" as a result of free trade with the U.S...

Yeah, I'm all for opposing American capitalists and their machinations, but we need to be careful that we oppose them because they are capitalists, not becuase they are Americans, otherwise we are liable to simply trade American capitalists for Canadian ones, which isn't really a significant improvement.  And we also need to see free trade as not just an American constpiracy, but something that Canadian capitalists are willing partners in and not just spineless lackeys.

Fidel

genstrike wrote:

From one of my old favourites:  The Labor Party Illusion

Sam Dolgoff wrote:

The record of the Labour Government which ruled Britain from 1945 to 1951 proves that it betrayed every socialist principle and violated nearly all its pre-election pledges. These betrayals were reflected in its domestic, foreign and colonial policies.

Good you brought it up. England was a country struggling with Mosley's fascist party and an aging industrial base dilapidated after decades of neglect. Atlee's Labour was an earlier example of how a government had to deal with a bankrupt capitalist country owing massive debt to the premier emerging capitalist empire, the U.S. With British labour, English people won national health care, pensions, unemployment insurance, and a post-war national housing boom which saw millions of homes built for Britons, and making Canada's national housing program, which was short-lived some decades after Atlee's British Labour, pale in comparison. England knew social democracy decades before Canadians would ever come to benefit by medicare and decent rail service and unemployment insurance, decent housing etc. And Atlee handed India  their independence to the dismay of Britain's colonial aristocracy.

My mother was a war bride who came to Canada and couldn't believe Canadians were still using backhouses and had ditches running down the streets. One family my parents knew in the late 1940's were going to the toilet through a hole in the floor, and one outside wall of their house was propped up by a two by four. And just about every flimsy shack in the hood was infested by bedbugs. And no cash upfront no health care either. My old ma was appalled by the abject poverty across Canada and thought this country had actually been through a world war instead of England by the looks of things. You sneer  now at things you nothing of, genstrike.    

genstrike wrote:
Not that I particularly want to drag this thread back to this old issue, but if Doer has the political wherewithall to give tax cuts primarily to the rich and corporations to the tune of $800 million, he has the political wherewithall to spend around $200 million eliminating tuition.

You're full of baloney. Tuition fees are a small portion of post-secondary costs. Doer has other areas of the economy to allocate money to not just PSE, like: *health care, public works, and social services. And you dont have to bring up the abysmal failure of Paul Martin's 1995 budget to resemble a progressive government ever again. We won't mind at all. You're really too hard on those Liberals, you know.

Fidel wrote:
Anyway, enough about those Liberals - I'm too hard on them. We know.
genstrike wrote:
It's not that you're too hard on them, it's that you think that when backed into a corner (or when a thread drifts into the territory of criticizing the NDP), you seem to think that an appropriate counter-argument is some crazy non-sequitur rant about the Liberals.  I generally agree with your criticism of the Liberals, but not with trying to derail a serious discussion with poorly written non-sequitur rants.

Just genstrike deflecting criticism of those former head honchos who controlled the federal purse strings for twelve years leading up to the Harpers again. We get the picture. I remember a time when PSE was actually affordable in Canada. It wasnt so long ago that one could save the cost of a year's tuition with a summer job. Funny that was then, before Jean and Paulie Pockets ruled the roost compared...with... now and your obsession with Gary Doer and soaring PSE tuitions across Canada. Old Gary really gets around.

genstrike wrote:
Yeah, I'm all for opposing American capitalists and their machinations, but we need to be careful that we oppose them because they are capitalists, not becuase they are Americans, otherwise we are liable to simply trade American capitalists for Canadian ones, which isn't really a significant improvement.  And we also need to see free trade as not just an American constpiracy, but something that Canadian capitalists are willing partners in and not just spineless lackeys.

Except that they really have been lackeys to the neoliberal agenda emanating from the U.S.(and Ottawa) since the 1980's. Not all of Canada's billionaire family empires survived the neoliberal era. They thought they would become fabulously wealthy plus, if they were to gain access to U.S. markets through FTA and NAFTA. What happened after the scrapping of FIRA were unparalleled in the world foreign takeovers of Canadian crowns, crown assets and Canadian corporations. Over 36 sectors of Canada's economy are now majority foreign owned and controlled, and mostly by Americans. Not one other industrialized economy in the world allows a third as much foreign ownership in manufacturing as Canada does. And Canada's national energy plan is dictated to us from corporate board rooms in the U.S. Our two old line parties have demonstrated supreme stupidity with dealing for FTA and NAFTA. They are the stupidest trade agreements in the history of the solar system.

And just how many sectors of U.S. economy are under majority ownership and control by Canada's billionaires today?: zero, as in, nada. Yes, Canada's billionaire oligarchy arent the brightest bulbs on the tree either.

Jacob Richter

genstrike wrote:
Sadly, most of these programs generally don't say too much about our relationship with production.  I think some sort of workers self-management would be an important part of a program (which ecopinko touched on with coops), but then we get into a whole bunch of issues of whether true workers self-management can exist in a society that is still fundamentally capitalist (with a few socialist features) and if it can be implemented from above (methinks not)

 

I apologize for not repeating my stance on worker co-ops in this thread, with all the history commentary and what not. Embarassed

genstrike

Jacob Richter wrote:

I apologize for not repeating my stance on worker co-ops in this thread, with all the history commentary and what not. Embarassed

Well, it is just that you've put together a decent program, I just think that in a lot of the programs I have seen worker coops and self-management in industry should focus more prominently.

It isn't that I doubt any of your convictions or anything, it is just that we have difficulties when we try to take a long-term revolutionary program and try to cut it down to a package that can be implemented by the capitalist state in the short term.  We're always going to have issues with what to include, what to leave out, what the state can theoretically implement (if they are sympathetic, which they aren't) and what they can't.

And, of course, we need to be clear that this is only a temporary measure until we can organize to take the whole pie.

 

Fidel wrote:

You're full of baloney. Tuition fees are a small portion of
post-secondary costs. Doer has other areas of the economy to allocate
money to not just PSE, like: *health care, public works, and social
services.

Except he decided to allocate money to tax cuts for the rich and corporations.  It's only stoogeocracy when other people do it?

Fidel wrote:

You sneer  now at things you nothing of, genstrike. 

Back to personal attacks and calling me stupid again?

I have a feeling I should have stopped responding to Fidel a long time ago...

Fidel

genstrike wrote:
Except he decided to allocate money to tax cuts for the rich and corporations.  It's only stoogeocracy when other people do it?

Who pawned off Manitoba's most profitable utilities in the first place to rich friends of the conservative party?

If Ottawa was to raise federal tax revenues to just the OECD average as a percentage of GDP, there would be $35 billion dollars more for social transfers.

And if Ottawa was to raise overall tax revs to the EU-15 average, again as a percentage of GDP, there would be $75 billion dollars more than now for social spending and important infrastructure. 

I'm sorry to have to remind you that the Liberals' legacy in Canada is a $130 billion dollar infrastructure deficit and social transfers to the provinces gutted since the infamous 1995 budget. L-I-B-E-R-A-L-S But again, enough about the Liberals. They don't exist and neither does Ottawa. Ottawa is just a central repository for colonial administrators and tax collectors. The real power for taxation and nationalism lies at Queen's Park since FTA and NAFTA. And I'm sure we wish it was true. Sorry to be slagging off your Liberals again, genstrike. Enough about them though.

Jacob Richter

genstrike wrote:
Well, it is just that you've put together a decent program, I just think that in a lot of the programs I have seen worker coops and self-management in industry should focus more prominently.

 

Which program?  The economistic OP (tailored for a [url=http://www.revleft.com/vb/broad-economism-t97399/index.html]broad-economistic[/url] audience), or the politically loaded one that I sent you? Tongue outWink

 

Either way, the ordering of the demands is important.  Initially the co-ops demand was put last because I wanted to imitate the [url=">http://www.archive.org/details/EisenachProgram][u]Eisenach Programme[/url] and cap off the demands of a less political nature (putting it first would seem awkward, like in the [url=">http://www.voiceoftheturtle.org/dictionary/dict_g1.php#gotha][u]Gotha Programme[/url]), but ever since I've read some stuff by one [url=">http://21stcenturysocialism.blogspot.com/2008/08/programmatic-objectives...Paul Cockshott[/url] (and conversed with him directly), I'm considering the addition of one more demand either afterwards or just before: the regular calculation of labour time across society.

 

Quote:
It isn't that I doubt any of your convictions or anything, it is just that we have difficulties when we try to take a long-term revolutionary program and try to cut it down to a package that can be implemented by the capitalist state in the short term.  We're always going to have issues with what to include, what to leave out, what the state can theoretically implement (if they are sympathetic, which they aren't) and what they can't.

 

I know, my work-in-progress is obviously not yet complete.  I don't like lengthy basket cases like Die Linke's "programmatic points" (riddled with the type of yellow reforms that I DON'T like), but I hope my work so far is clear enough for the reader.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Fidel wrote:

I think revolutions tend to happen under the most repressive conditions.

I think Hugo Chavez may yet prove you wrong.

Fidel wrote:
And why does socialism necessarily have to be arrived at by violent revolution?

I think Hugo Chavez may yet prove you right.

 

[IMG]http://i38.tinypic.com/1r9lpy.gif[/IMG]

Fidel

They were pretty damned poor in Venezuela before Chavez and still are. Venezuela has been a client state of the U.S. for many years. Lots of work to be done still.

The Evolution of Electoral Rules in Venezuela 

Revolutionary

Scott McHale

I've read this thread ( wow, you guys write long rants! ) - admittedly not every word, but most of it.

What are your end goals? ( without using negatives like the end of capitalism - focus on what you want to start )

What do you picture?  Do we all work for the government? ( ie. the common good ) - I try not to think of the government being some body of aliens seperate from the rest of us.

Are we all paid the same?  Are there price an wage controls?  Do we control public consumption?

Who decides how much labor/wages/materialownership is reasonable or obscene?

Sometimes tone doesn't come across in e-mail/posts and those questions may seem provocative.  That is not the intent.  You have an interesting conversation going.  I am truly interested in understanding your thoughts on these questions and have no interest in attacking those views.

I simply believe that sites like this one can be more useful if we use them to find our common goals rather than our differences.

Maybe we'll find we don't have common goals.  Still, the pursuit is of interest.

 

Fidel

I think our goals all along have been to close the democracy gap in this country. Or at least, it's been one of the many long term goals of the NDP in Canada.  When conventional oil and gas reserves run out in just over a dozen years or so, I think cash crop capitalism such as bananas and coffee would go over like screen doors in a submarine as far as Canadians are concerned. Failing all that I think we could be looking at plan b, or violent and bloody overthrow of the stoogeocracy. But we want to avoid that if we can.

Brian White

Scott McHale wrote:

I've read this thread ( wow, you guys write long rants! ) - admittedly not every word, but most of it.

What are your end goals? ( without using negatives like the end of capitalism - focus on what you want to start )

What are the goals? Reduce the inequity mightily!

  I just happened to read some irish news.(check the quote at the bottom).The greens are in coalition there. (a tiny part but they have at least 1 minister) and I think Jack layton would do well if he came out with the same kind of retoric.  It is just insane that those at the top of the pile are "earning" a hundred times more than those at the bottom.  It is not justified, it is wrong and it does no good for the economy. I believe it is way better if we have a more equal distribution of wealth.  The right will scream about "redistribution" and "socialism" when they hear this. but if we take a look at the figures for 10 and 20 years back, asd 50 years back, the gap was not so big so they have being doing a sneaky redidtribution via the back door for the last 50 years!  We should promote the concepts of fairness.  Nobody needs to "earn" more than 10 times what I do. even bill gates and warren buffet recognise that something is wrong with the system. (Otherwise they would keep their money). 

 "Minister Ryan says a new culture of management in the regulatory system, the Central Bank and the commercial banks is now urgently required.
Clear lessons have to be learned from the past 15 to 20 years, he says, and those systems and personnel responsible for the current state of Irish banking will be replaced.
That includes the system of pay and bonuses which, Minister Ryan says, has encouraged bad lending practices, giving top earners 100 times more than those workers at the bottom of the ladder".

 

Fidel

I think debt-driven capitalism dependent on growth and maximized profit is a runaway train. Basically capitalism has to be scrapped if we are to avoid a new dark age, a proliferation of "terrorism" worldwide, and perhaps even global war.

Socialism is the only system that could save the world from ecological disaster and societal breakdown. The power of socialism is that production can be achieved at cost and labour allocated to production where necessary as resource and manpower constraints dictate. Capitalists can't compete with this model. Not without spending hundreds of billlions of dollars on a cold war. We have to eliminate the profit motive from war and overconsumption of finite resources. 

Socialism or barbarism 

Socialismo O Muerte

Scott McHale

Okay, but can we scale the goals back in scope to get to the underlying beliefs?

- Should everyone earn the same wage or should some talents/skills be considered more valueable and compensated as such?

-  Should the guy who just wants to party all day make and own everything that is made and owned by a doctor who heals the sick day in and day out?

- Should the changes be only Canadian or should we measure our consumption in relation to the rest of the world ( i.e. until everyone on earth has a 60 watt light bulb, no one may have two )

I won't try to suggest that my questions don't betray my beliefs but it is fair to say that I lean both left and right.  I've done the down-with-capitalism rant and many of those arguments still hold merit in my mind.  When I start asking questions like the ones noted above, however, I do find myself asking whether there is an inherent flaw in human nature which makes the socialist utopia an unlikely, and possibly unfair, end game.

Fidel

Scott McHale wrote:

Okay, but can we scale the goals back in scope to get to the underlying beliefs?

- Should everyone earn the same wage or should some talents/skills be considered more valueable and compensated as such?

I really have a hard time believing that workers would buck any kind of state diktat regarding pay scales. Canadians and Americans are already enjoying all-time low personal savings rates and dependent on credit for everything from housing to buying cars and nick-nacks.

As for vital services, physicians are one example of where people go into a field of study for reasons other than money. We would not see a shortage of doctors and scientists if wages were lower for those positions than they are in countries like the U.S. Cuba is a good example of this.

The Gorbachev Foundation has some things to say about remuneration for captains of industry.

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 Should the guy who just wants to party all day make and own everything that is made and owned by a doctor who heals the sick day in and day out?

The idea is to reduce inequality and live within our means. 

Quote:
- Should the changes be only Canadian or should we measure our consumption in relation to the rest of the world ( i.e. until everyone on earth has a 60 watt light bulb, no one may have two )

If we create new laws and embark on emergency rationing of finite resources, then the law has to apply to everyone, or the law will have no teeth. I would be more concerned with corporate level consumption of raw materials and fossil fuels for things people really dont need today. And there are many examples of this in our false economy today.

Jacob Richter

Scott McHale wrote:

I've read this thread ( wow, you guys write long rants! ) - admittedly not every word, but most of it.

What are your end goals? ( without using negatives like the end of capitalism - focus on what you want to start )

What do you picture?  Do we all work for the government? ( ie. the common good ) - I try not to think of the government being some body of aliens seperate from the rest of us.

Are we all paid the same?  Are there price an wage controls?  Do we control public consumption?

Who decides how much labor/wages/materialownership is reasonable or obscene?

Sometimes tone doesn't come across in e-mail/posts and those questions may seem provocative.  That is not the intent.  You have an interesting conversation going.  I am truly interested in understanding your thoughts on these questions and have no interest in attacking those views.

I simply believe that sites like this one can be more useful if we use them to find our common goals rather than our differences.

Maybe we'll find we don't have common goals.  Still, the pursuit is of interest.

 

Historically speaking, I'm not a "French socialist" (socialists with fetishes for egalitarianism).  Also, capitalism has three markets: consumer goods and services, labour, and capital.

1) Full worker control over the economy (on the basis of labour time itself), free from surplus labour appropriations by any elite minority, from private ownership of productive and other *non-possessive* property, and from all forms of debt slavery.

2) It depends on how you define "paid the same."  Some are of the opinion that the compensation rate *per hour* should be the same regardless of job performed (case in point: the difficulty of tracing teamwork to specific individuals), while others differ.  But definitely those who work more hours *with normal effort* should be paid more. [For simplicity, this doesn't get into the allocation of labour time for consumer goods and services produced for the elderly, disabled, etc.]

3) Abolition of that other function of "money" - the deviation from labour time (either standard labour time or labour time adjusted for higher compensation in, say, risky jobs), thereby facilitating both wage labour and money-capital formation (means of exchange do not necessarily have to circulate).

http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/ope/archive/0705/0148.html

4) As for price controls for consumer goods and services, that would be up to the public at large to decide, though I would actually advise against such.

Scott McHale

Fidel wrote:

I really have a hard time believing that workers would buck any kind of state diktat regarding pay scales. Canadians and Americans are already enjoying all-time low personal savings rates and dependent on credit for everything from housing to buying cars and nick-nacks.

I think it's fair to say that  those who would see their pay rise would be in favor of controls and those who would see a decline would be against.  I have no information or statistics to back this up but the conversations I have with colleagues and others I know suggest it - and I don't believe that's only because I live in Alberta.

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As for vital services, physicians are one example of where people go into a field of study for reasons other than money. We would not see a shortage of doctors and scientists if wages were lower for those positions than they are in countries like the U.S. Cuba is a good example of this.

I agree, in many instances people enter these fields for reasons other than money.  I disagree, however, if you're suggesting those people don't feel they are deserving of greater pay for their years ( and money ) invested in learning to be a doctor or scientist, than those who are unwilling or unable to muster the skill or commitment to finish high-school.

I think it's worth noting that Cubans are not free to decide and many, many Canadians have left Canada for more lucrative pay in their fields in the United States and elsewhere.

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The Gorbachev Foundation has some things to say about remuneration for captains of industry.

I'll have to look that up, I'm not familiar with their work on the topic..thanks.

Quote:
The idea is to reduce inequality and live within our means.

This is another case where my experience, however anecdotal, suggests we'd have a problem finding anything near a concensus.  I am a professed "self-limiter" and I take a good deal of flack for it.  What is wanted and what is needed has a different definition in almost every kitchen.

Quote:
 

If we create new laws and embark on emergency rationing of finite resources, then the law has to apply to everyone, or the law will have no teeth. I would be more concerned with corporate level consumption of raw materials and fossil fuels for things people really dont need today. And there are many examples of this in our false economy today.

Again, wants and needs are extremely subjective.  I do thank you though for the thoughtful responses.  I'm not trying to shoot down your responses.  I just keep running into the same issues ( I've given a lot of time to thinking along the same lines you've proposed here and I keep running into the fairness issue ).

 

I guess it's my turn fire up some clay ducks and let you guys take shots.

 

Can we look at working within the currently flawed system to develop laws ( specifically on taxation ) which reward those things people seem to desire rather than punishing those we generally seem to abhore (sp? )? 

 

Specifically, we need to support entreprenurialism ( we need a spell check on this site ) throughout the entire value chain of production while discouraging what some would call the looting of revenues by technocrats and managers.  These are not fully formed ideas, your shots will help me refine my thinking

 

The Plus-15 Corporation ( so named because I thought of it while walking in Calgary's excellent +15 system of downtown core building connections )

Canadian Corporations who meet the standards of a +15 Corporation pay no corporate tax.  Further, employees of +15 Corporations pay a preferred rate of income tax on salaries payed by the +15 Corp and no tax on profit-share revenues.

 

Requirements to be considered a +15 Corporation*

- Any profits ( earnings before interest, taxes, and ammortization ) exceeding 15% are paid to employees as part of a profit-share which must be evenly distributed to each working member of the corporation ( not those who are only shareholders ).  

- Salary compensation of any member of a +15 cannot be more than X times that of any other member of the corp.

.....it would be great if this number worked out to be 15 but something in the area of 6 or 7 might be more reasonable.  I realize that still sounds large to anti-capitalists but we can't escape the fact that these companies would have to compete for qualified people against other companies which would not have such controls( I also personally believe that people with talents in greater demand should be paid more than those without those talents ).

-  Non-salary compenstation, as a % of salary, of any member of the corp cannot be more than 15% above the mean non-salary compensation.

 

*A formula, preferably a simple one, to determine the % of inputs from non-plus15 companies would be needed to determine the 'status' as a +15.  This is to prevent a cadre of managers paying themselves wildly and avoiding taxation within the rules while simply outsourcing everything that is dilutive to their compensation.

 

I look forward to your thoughts on the matter.

 

Scott McHale

Brian White wrote:

It is just insane that those at the top of the pile are "earning" a hundred times more than those at the bottom.  It is not justified, it is wrong and it does no good for the economy. I believe it is way better if we have a more equal distribution of wealth.  The right will scream about "redistribution" and "socialism" when they hear this. but if we take a look at the figures for 10 and 20 years back, asd 50 years back, the gap was not so big so they have being doing a sneaky redidtribution via the back door for the last 50 years!  We should promote the concepts of fairness.  Nobody needs to "earn" more than 10 times what I do. even bill gates and warren buffet recognise that something is wrong with the system. (Otherwise they would keep their money). 

 

I have a problem with parts of this argument.  I agree it's not reasonable in my opinion for someone to make 100 times that of someone else engaged in the work of the same company.  Unfortunately, that's entirely subjective.  Some would say my willingness to pay $15 for one type of beer is unreasonable given that another beer can be purchased for $9.  The ingredients and processes are relatively similar.  Nevertheless, I might pay the higher price because I prefer the label, the marketing, the business practices of the company even though it makes no material difference in the beer itself.  ( I don't actually drink much beer and I'm certainly not a resource for 'good' vs 'bad' beer ).

The decision makers at a company may well believe that the work of a person, any person in their organization, warrants what we would consider unreasonable pay.  Some might pay more for beer without a logical reason.  Who's to say either of them is right or wrong.

The fact that Buffet and Gates make the choice to give away their money doesn't necessarily suggest they don't beleive they should have been compensated for the skills they have and the risks they'd taken.  I'm certain they would not suggest that, not having the skills or taken the risks they have, I should make as much money as they do.

 

Fidel

Scott McHale wrote:
I have a problem with parts of this argument.  I agree it's not reasonable in my opinion for someone to make 100 times that of someone else engaged in the work of the same company.

Especially those banksters and Wall Street fraudsters who "create wealth" out of thin air and speculating on rising prices in markets - markets ranging from actual money markets to near money markets and iou's on near money several times removed. There are markets in rare postage stamps - bits of paper that will never be used to post so much as a letter. Linda McQuaig pointed out that there are even markets in racial slurs. Shouldnt these people just work real jobs like so many other people do? The rich will invest and salt their money away in the dumbest things. But it's generally thought among neoliberal ideologues that governments don't know how to spend money. We have a $130 billion dollar infrastructure deficit across Canada, and cities and municipalities dont have the money to upgrade aging water and sewers, and Toronto and Ottawa cant afford world class transit systems. And never mind investing in green economy and infrastructure needed ASAP. Neoliberal capitalism lurches from one crisis to the next it seems.

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The fact that Buffet and Gates make the choice to give away their money doesn't necessarily suggest they don't beleive they should have been compensated for the skills they have and the risks they'd taken.  I'm certain they would not suggest that, not having the skills or taken the risks they have, I should make as much money as they do.

But without workers to manufacture and deliver their products on one end and buy their products and services on the other, where would they be? Surely they can't do everything themselves?

And besides, Gates did not invent the computer or anything so important. The beginnings of the computer and computing technology were made by people educated in universities funded with public money. Brian Kernighan, a Canadian no less, was a co-developer of C programming, a much more advanced PL than MS-BASIC. DARPA engineers and scientists practically invented the internet along with a few publicly funded researchers in the U.S. military and academy. In fact, a few hundred of them were responsible for a range of technologies, including: lasers, satellite tech in the west, important metallurgical advances, slant oil well drilling technology(Can-Am), parallel computing, RAID drive technology and so on. I think we would have personal computers today regardless of whether Bill Gates was a master of marketing and business. AES: a Canadian cautionary tale

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