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DrHerb
07-28-2010, 10:29 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif

New Oil Leak Reported as Barge Crashes Into Oil Well in Gulf of Mexico (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/07/27-8)

GoToAway
07-28-2010, 11:23 AM
This is hardly surprising.

Especially when you consider that the previous administration did everything within its power deregulate everything and remove corporate accountability.

It's sad, but things like this illustrate exactly why corporations need to be treated like mentally deficient children.

erco415
07-28-2010, 11:26 AM
You're funny- which corporations do you have such good inside knowledge of that you can make such a statement? Also, from what source do you have the knowledge to say that this accident was caused by regulatory deficiency?

Ax was getting dull, was it?

ploughman
07-28-2010, 11:28 AM
If it was hit by a barge at least it's not at the bottom of the Gulf.

GoToAway
07-28-2010, 11:45 AM
Originally posted by erco415:
You're funny- which corporations do you have such good inside knowledge of that you can make such a statement? I don't need inside knowledge to understand that the corporate culture in this country is one of gross negligence.


Also, from what source do you have the knowledge to say that this accident was caused by regulatory deficiency? Common sense and a bit of extrapolation.

Either the barge was in a place where it shouldn't be or the oil well was. Perhaps we can assume that the captain of the barge was incompetent as well just for giggles.

Every single one of these things can be affected by the corporations involved. And when corporations are more or less given a free walk when it comes to accountability, they aren't terribly concerned about being careful when it comes to things like shipping lanes or where they put a well. If you need "insider information" to understand that, then let me point you to the mess that BP has made through sheer laziness and ignorance.

It's interesting that you seem to want to hold one man responsible for the American economy, yet the idea of holding a corporate entity responsible for its actions appalls you. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

erco415
07-28-2010, 11:54 AM
I don't need the facts, I KNOW what's true. Now that is one enlightened philosophy. I'm not as smart as you, GTA, I have to actually have some knowledge of a corporation to judge it's culture. To that end, I KNOW, from first hand observation and discussion with people who work there, that some corporations are run negligently, and that some are run with the greatest regard for doing things the right way. These good companies, in fact, go beyond what is required of them by regulation, they do so because they are concerned with doing what's right, not merely with compliance with regulation.

Sure, the barge wasn't in the right place. Someone made a mistake. Have you considered the possibility that maybe the Coast Guard or the Corp of Engineers made a mistake in marking the channel?

And, for the record, I don't hold one man responsible for our economy, there's dozens of people to blame. I do hold our President responsible for the results of his policies, as I do Congress, and private enterprise.

p-11.cAce
07-28-2010, 11:59 AM
I hate to inject a dose of reality...

http://www.allhatnocattle.net/bush_deficit_graphic.gif

erco415
07-28-2010, 12:04 PM
Vry good, P11.

Hey, that graph doesn't show anything for Obama? Hmm, I wonder what it would show?

GoToAway
07-28-2010, 12:12 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
I'm not as smart as you, GTA It's OK. I don't look down on you.


Have you considered the possibility that maybe the Coast Guard or the Corp of Engineers made a mistake in marking the channel? That's a possibility.

But how does that argue against my point that we've created a society in which large entities (be they corporate or governmental) are rarely held accountable for their mistakes?

The point is that this was a stupid mistake that should not have happened. And it would not have happened if we actually held people accountable for these things instead of just accepting an "I'm sorry" and some CEO symbolically falling on a sword while collecting a pension worth more than I'll make in my entire life. The only thing that drives thinking in areas like shipping or oil is profit, and this is precisely why stupid mistakes are made. Nobody is thinking of consequences because, at worst, some money will be lost and some shares devalued.

erco415
07-28-2010, 12:50 PM
Glad to know I have your acceptance http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

To address your point as to the accountability of government and corporations (and government really gets off scot-free), what would you have done? Would you make mistakes punishable by law? It wouldn't prevent them anyway. Mistakes will always happen. Now, I would like to see corporations, like BP, under less regulation, but with more responsibility for any accidents.

I happen to have a fairly good idea of what goes on inside a decent-size coal company and I can tell you for a fact that profit isn't the only thing that drives their thinking. Do they want to make a profit, of course. But they also don't want to go to funerals, and they go above and beyond to limit the dangers inherent in mining, to the loss of some profit.

Airmail109
07-28-2010, 04:21 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
Glad to know I have your acceptance http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

To address your point as to the accountability of government and corporations (and government really gets off scot-free), what would you have done? Would you make mistakes punishable by law? It wouldn't prevent them anyway. Mistakes will always happen. Now, I would like to see corporations, like BP, under less regulation, but with more responsibility for any accidents.

I happen to have a fairly good idea of what goes on inside a decent-size coal company and I can tell you for a fact that profit isn't the only thing that drives their thinking. Do they want to make a profit, of course. But they also don't want to go to funerals, and they go above and beyond to limit the dangers inherent in mining, to the loss of some profit.

Wasn't there a coal company doing exactly that in the United States?

WTE_Galway
07-28-2010, 05:41 PM
Originally posted by p-11.cAce:
I hate to inject a dose of reality...

http://www.allhatnocattle.net/bush_deficit_graphic.gif


lol ... George dubbleyah just had to outdo his daddy didn't he, couldn't help himself http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

jarink
07-28-2010, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by p-11.cAce:
I hate to inject a dose of reality...

http://www.allhatnocattle.net/bush_deficit_graphic.gif

http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/obama-deficit21.gif

You'll also note that the trend over the last few years of Bush Jr's term was a shrinking deficit. 2008 saw a sharp reversal in that trend, I'd guess mainly due to the economy going south.

The numbers for Obama's first year in office speak for themselves, I think.

GoToAway
07-28-2010, 06:31 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
Would you make mistakes punishable by law? Yes. Using the penal system to encourage corporate responsibility would do a hell of a lot more to better society than using it to incarcerate random pot heads, don't you think?


Mistakes will always happen. They will. But with iron clad consequences for negligence, they'll happen less frequently.


I happen to have a fairly good idea of what goes on inside a decent-size coal company and I can tell you for a fact that profit isn't the only thing that drives their thinking. Do they want to make a profit, of course. But they also don't want to go to funerals, and they go above and beyond to limit the dangers inherent in mining, to the loss of some profit. Surely you realize that isn't out of altruism. Making a safe work environment limits liability... and limiting liability keeps the profit margin nice and safe.

The mining industry was notoriously unsafe for about 5000 years of human history. It has only recently become safe(ish) because of government regulation and the fact that individual miners gained the right to fight for proper working conditions.

Urufu_Shinjiro
07-28-2010, 07:24 PM
Originally posted by jarink:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by p-11.cAce:
I hate to inject a dose of reality...

http://www.allhatnocattle.net/bush_deficit_graphic.gif

http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/obama-deficit21.gif

You'll also note that the trend over the last few years of Bush Jr's term was a shrinking deficit. 2008 saw a sharp reversal in that trend, I'd guess mainly due to the economy going south.

The numbers for Obama's first year in office speak for themselves, I think. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

So a worldwide economic disaster is Obama's fault now?

GoToAway
07-28-2010, 07:39 PM
Originally posted by Urufu_Shinjiro:
So a worldwide economic disaster is Obama's fault now? Of course it is. These things happen over night, you know. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

(this actually illustrates one of the biggest problems with the voting block: they have no conception of time. As far as many Americans are concerned, the economy is Obama's fault simply because he's the one in charge at the moment and he hasn't been able to turn the ship on a dime. They're completely ignorant to the fact that it began brewing years before anybody even knew his name, which is why he'll be a one term president and we will instead be saddled with a religious extremist in 2012.)

AndyJWest
07-28-2010, 07:43 PM
Is it just me, or do other people find these US 'political' threads boring?

No real politics at all, just lots of name-calling...

p-11.cAce
07-28-2010, 08:21 PM
Politics is dead - if it ever existed at all.

WTE_Galway
07-28-2010, 08:48 PM
Originally posted by p-11.cAce:
Politics is dead - if it ever existed at all.

haha you should be in Australia at the moment.

Both sides are campaigning the current election with an absolutely identical platform: "If we say as little as possible and never promise anything we cannot get in trouble from the press."

Messaschnitzel
07-28-2010, 10:32 PM
Originally posted by AndyJWest:
Is it just me, or do other people find these US 'political' threads boring?

No real politics at all, just lots of name-calling...

You could always dig up some exitement in one of the other threads posted here on the forum. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

Here's one that looks like a real barnburner:

http://forums.ubi.com/eve/foru...1013236/m/3911079478 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/2601013236/m/3911079478)

http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

erco415
07-29-2010, 12:21 AM
Come now Urufu, Jarink made no such accusation. He merely pointed out that the deficit was shrinking under Bush until the recession hit. Of course the recession isn't Obama's fault. But the President, and his comrades in congress did have something to do with the deficit numbers under their watch. Arguing about the effectiveness of spending your way out of a recession is all well and good, cause you sure as hell can't tax your way out of one!

(Anyone interested in knowing that they've changed, over the course of several administrations, how they count unemployment? The real number is a lot closer to 15%.)

GTA, criminalizing mistakes won't reduce the number of mistakes and will actually increase the severity of mistakes. How is this? If there are criminal penalties for a mistake made on the job, everyone will be doing their damndest to cover up anything that even looks slightly like a mistake. Covering up problems is an excellent way to make sure that the problem isn't addressed. Compare how Brazil and the United States handle aviation accidents/incidents: In the US, the worst that can happen (besides, you know, dying) to a pilot who makes a mistake is that his certification can be pulled, and if the pilot takes the time to fill out an Aviation Safety Reporting System form (also called the NASA form) describing the incident, factors that contributed to the incident, and suggestions to prevent the incident happening again, then the incident can't be used against the pilot in an enforcement action. Many airlines also have 'self-reporting' programs in which they willingly admit to errors in exchange for a promise of immunity to certificate action. In both sorts of programs, this immunity is only granted if the pilot self-reports promptly, the pilot isn't an repeat offender, and the incident in question isn't a willfull violation of the regulations. The result is an open airing of the issues facing pilots which allows them to be addressed, which improves the overall safety record.

Brazil, in contrast, holds pilots (and others) criminally liable for aviation incidents. As a result, problems aren't addressed, and everyone mostly hopes that accidents won't happen. The Gol mid-air incident is an excellent example of how a system that focuses on prosecuting mistakes differs from one that is focused on preventing mistakes. (You can read more about that accident here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gol_Transportes_A%C3%A9reos_Flight_1907)) Instead of trying to discover what went wrong, and then fixing it, everyone does their best to point fingers elsewhere and CYA.

Except in cases of willfull negligence, criminalizing accidents is counterproductive. (I agree with you about the pot-heads, let 'em go.)

No doubt that going above and beyond is good when talking liability, but, in fact, the company I know is altruistic in it's approach to safety. I say this because they do things out of a sense of what's right. That is their first concern, not a desire to reduce their exposure. Would it surprise you to know that they aren't unionized? But, in relation to that, I think it's significant to know that their first concern when hiring is to hire good people, and you'll have a hard time believing this, but I've never met one of their employees who wasn't ethically impressive as well as technically proficient. Having people who are going to do the right thing goes a long way to preventing accidents. It cannot eliminate them.

Airmail, could you be more specific?

Ba5tard5word
07-29-2010, 12:39 AM
Not sure how we got onto the deficit but I'll just post this here:

http://www.perrspectives.com/images/CBPP_deficit_factors_2019.jpg

Ba5tard5word
07-29-2010, 12:44 AM
Also, by and large Americans do not trust corporations. If you go to places like Japan or Germany, people there revere their major corporations. They do not question them or criticize them much, the press and government leave them alone or outright protect them, and it is very hard to sue corporations for alleged wrongdoing. As a result they don't have as much of a commitment to public safety from faulty products as we have in the US. Americans meanwhile do not trust anyone who has power so we question and criticize them and have numerous legal avenues to try and get transparency and answers and responses from these companies. I don't think it is a right or a left thing. In the US it is considered normal for a CEO of a company to be hauled in front of Congress for questioning about something major that results in a lot of deaths or injuries or costs to taxpayers. This would never happen somewhere like Japan.

erco415
07-29-2010, 12:52 AM
Yeah, there is a very different attitude here, though some companies get the rock star treatment. Interesting that Apple could lie like a rug and people were upset over it an average of a half minute or so.

Interesting chart. Funny how they include the Bush tax cuts, which will expire this year, out to 2019.

Btw, no doubt there'll be plenty of reasons to pin this on- but next year will see a drop in tax revenue despite the increase in the tax rate.

You just watch.

Ba5tard5word
07-29-2010, 11:37 AM
I'll be really surprised if the Bush tax cuts aren't renewed, I expect that the GOP will blackmail the Dems into renewing them by complaining about "the biggest tax hike in history" even though the tax cuts to expire only affect the top 3% of American earners who have made out like bandits during this recession. Then after they're renewed, Republicans will go back to complaining about the deficit.

erco415
07-29-2010, 02:47 PM
You know, BS, the end of the Bush tax cuts will effect everyone who pays taxes. The bottom rate will go from 10% to 15% ( a 50% hike on those who can least afford it), while the brackets in the middle (25, 28, 31, and 33%) will see a 3% increase and the top bracket will go from 35% to 38%. So, while half of Americans pay no income taxes at all, those of us who do will see our burden increased.

Gammelpreusse
07-29-2010, 03:25 PM
Originally posted by Ba5tard5word:
Also, by and large Americans do not trust corporations. If you go to places like Japan or Germany, people there revere their major corporations. They do not question them or criticize them much, the press and government leave them alone or outright protect them, and it is very hard to sue corporations for alleged wrongdoing. As a result they don't have as much of a commitment to public safety from faulty products as we have in the US. Americans meanwhile do not trust anyone who has power so we question and criticize them and have numerous legal avenues to try and get transparency and answers and responses from these companies. I don't think it is a right or a left thing. In the US it is considered normal for a CEO of a company to be hauled in front of Congress for questioning about something major that results in a lot of deaths or injuries or costs to taxpayers. This would never happen somewhere like Japan.

Uhm.....I can't speak for Japan, but if stuff like the oil spill happend under the responsebility of a german company, you can bet all hell would break lose.
The matter of fact is, however, that german companies
a) are under much tighter government regulation and supervision
b) german companies, even the global players, have a completly different attitude when it comes to public and social responsebility compared to the american pure profit makers (though before the crisis there was an alarming and alienating trend of the big companies to follow the american "give it all to us, f*ck the rest" trendsetting, luckily that is reversing now)
Exceptions prove the rule, naturally.

As a result, there usually simply is no need for huge distrust and congressial hearings because companies here simply don't tend to lose ground contact.

If at all the german system is somehwere in the middleground between the american and japanese extremes.

Ba5tard5word
07-29-2010, 03:42 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
You know, BS, the end of the Bush tax cuts will effect everyone who pays taxes. The bottom rate will go from 10% to 15% ( a 50% hike on those who can least afford it), while the brackets in the middle (25, 28, 31, and 33%) will see a 3% increase and the top bracket will go from 35% to 38%. So, while half of Americans pay no income taxes at all, those of us who do will see our burden increased.

I'm pretty sure that the plan is that the Bush tax cuts (there were two rounds) that actually affected the bottom 97% of earners will be kept in place, while the ones that affected the top 3% are the ones that will be allowed to expire.


If at all the german system is somehwere in the middleground between the american and japanese extremes.

Since you're German I'll take your word for it, you're probably right. I do know that reverence for German companies in the media and government is much higher than in the US. In the US it is common for company officials to be interrogated in lawsuits, while in Germany I have been told that it is considered insulting to the company.

Japan practically does not have any sort of safety regulation and as a result when people are injured they cannot get any information from the company or the government and lawsuits are very difficult to prosecute. There was a good article about this in the New York Times but I can't find it since it's no doubt buried in all the news stories about Toyota's gas pedal problems. I don't think Americans would tolerate going to a system where there is no accountability in terms of safety regulations AND lawsuits (you need one or the other, or both, or else people WILL be injured) but it is what corporations and the right wing in the US want and we get closer to it every day.

WTE_Galway
07-29-2010, 04:50 PM
Trust and corporation are contradictory terms.

The original point in incorporating was to form a separate legal entity so the owners/executives could not be personally sued when they did the wrong thing http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

As a simple case in point here is a review of the doings of our favorite corporation Northrop Grumman:



http://www.crocodyl.org/wiki/northrop_grumman

The first major scandals in Northrop Grumman’s history came in the early 1970s, when the company, then known as Northrop Corp., was embroiled in controversies over illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign by company chairman Thomas Jones as well as some $30 million in bribes paid to foreign governments to win orders for fighter jets. A few years later, there were revelations that the company regularly entertained Pentagon officials and members of Congress at a hunting lodge on the eastern shore of Maryland. During the 1980s, Northrop was the subject of numerous investigations relating to alleged mismanagement during its work on the MX Missile and the B-2 Stealth bomber.

In 1989, Northrop was indicted on criminal charges of falsifying test results on cruise missiles for the Air Force and Harrier jets for the Marine Corps. Just as the trial in the case was about to begin in 1990, the company agreed to plead guilty to 34 fraud charges and pay a fine of $17 million. Under the plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to end the investigations relating to the MX and the B-2. However, the company agreed in 1992 to pay $4.2 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit—brought without the involvement of the Justice Department—alleging that the company padded its invoices on MX missile guidance system work.

Grumman Corp., acquired by Northrop in 1994, brought with it a history of controversies on issues such as cost overruns in the production of F-14 Tomcat fighters for the Navy, production of defective municipal buses by its Flxible division (sold in 1983) and a bribery scandal involving Iran and Japan.

In 2000 Northrop Grumman paid $1.4 million to settle a whistleblower case alleging that the company overcharged the Air Force for B-2 bomber instruction and repair manuals. In a case inherited through the acquisition of TRW, Northrop Grumman agreed in 2003 to pay $111 million to settle claims that TRW overcharged the Pentagon for work on several space electronics programs in the early 1990s. Also in 2003, Northrop Grumman agreed to pay a total of $80 million to settle two False Claims Act cases, one involving work by Newport News Shipbuilding before Northrop acquired it in 2001 and the other involving the delivery of allegedly defective aerial target drones.

In 2004, Northrop settled for $1.8 million the remaining individual whistleblower case from the late 1980s involving cruise missiles. The following year it paid $62 million to settle the remaining claims relating to overcharging on the B-2 bomber program.

The false claims allegations continue. In March 2008 a whistleblower brought a lawsuit charging that Northrop Grumman’s Melbourne division with hundreds of millions of dollars of overcharges relating to the Joint STARS radar aircraft program.

Not all of Northrop’s performance problems have been related to overcharging. Soon after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the company’s Vinnell Corp. subsidiary (acquired as part of the purchase of TRW in 2002) was awarded a $48 million contract “to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi army.” It botched the job so badly that the Jordanian Army had to be brought in to take over.
Labor:

Some 17 percent of Northrop Grumman’s 122,000 employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Some of the most contentious labor relations have been at the company’s shipbuilding operations. Northrop inherited these relationships when it acquired Litton Industries and Newport News Shipbuilding in 2001.

There had been a bitter dispute dating back to the early 1990s between Avondale Industries and the New Orleans Metal Trades Council, a group of eight unions which had won a representation election for 5,000 workers. Avondale fought the unions, which in turn launched a major corporate campaign against the company. The confrontation deescalated after Litton took over Avondale in 1999 and signed a neutrality agreement with the unions. In 2002, with Litton now part of Northrop Grumman, the dispute was finally settled.

In 2003, there was nearly a strike at the other Litton shipyard inherited by Northrop—the Ingalls operation in Pascagoula , Mississippi. After a 14-day “cooling-off” period a settlement was reached that was approved by a majority of the 7,000 workers covered. Things did not go so smoothly in 2007. The workers in Pascagoula struck the shipyard for 27 days before accepting a revised contract offer from the company.

Members of United Steelworkers Local 8888 at Northrop’s shipyard in Newport News, Virginia ratified a new 52-month contract in 2004.

In 2007 it was reported that guest workers from India employed by Signal International, a Northrop Grumman subcontractor in Pascagoula, were being held against their will.

Gammelpreusse
07-29-2010, 05:24 PM
Originally posted by Ba5tard5word:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">If at all the german system is somehwere in the middleground between the american and japanese extremes.

Since you're German I'll take your word for it, you're probably right. I do know that reverence for German companies in the media and government is much higher than in the US. In the US it is common for company officials to be interrogated in lawsuits, while in Germany I have been told that it is considered insulting to the company. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

"Insulting" does not fit here, really. The german government simply does not have any legal means to force a company's head to come in for a hearing. When it comes to companies breaking the law or causing accidents, it's a judicative problem, not an executive one.

With other words, it's a matter for courts to settle, not for the government.

Add to that a basic culture of dialogue and compromise in politics and business, opposite to that of confrontation and alienation and it should become quite obvious why Germany deals with such problems in much different ways.
After all, offical hearings are more a show for the public and a kind of punishment for people that represent an organism that is much more complex then just their current heads, with policies sometimes based on decades of planning. Forcing ppl from such a company to a hearing simply does not reflect reality, it just delivers scrapegoats for a public feel good. And for the company it's a good way to deal with troubles as all the brute public anger is merely directed at a couple faces a company, when in doubt, can do without. Let them pay, replace them ét voilâ, back to business as usual.

If you really want to have a company conducting well in the long run, you have to work with them, and the companies have to work with the public. Else the connecting elements between public and business are lopped and both will just seek short term goals with a degenerative feedback on development. That is where regulation and supervision come in. That may sound repressive to an american, but it does not end here. In return for these oversights, the government tries to find compromises between company and worker demands, tries to provide support for new technology and product development and provides networks for science/business/product connections. Basicly, it's a system build on mutual cooperation, with both advantages (more planning and investment security, environmental and social standarts, better long term planning) and disadvantages (less flexebility, worse absilities to cope with changing economy environments). The disadvantages can only be compensated by all parties involved pulling into the same direction. That requires discipline and a dedication to success and progress for the public good as a whole.

That last one, however, won't ever be achieved by implrementing laws. It's a matter of attitude. in the US, the underlying currents suggest a "do what is best for yourself" attitude. In communism, it was "do what is best for all others".
In Germany and actually most of Europe, it rather is a "do what is best for yourself AND what is best for all others". This is relfected both in politics and business conducts.

This may explain some of the differences and why companies here would consider it as an insult to be treated like companies in other countries are.

Again, those are just basics, there are many black sheep here just as well, there simply are not that many due to the differences in the systems. Siemens comes to mind, just recently having been in a huge bribery scandal, or Deutsche Bahn with their AC failure problems.

To make it short, there is more trust and responsebility within an economic system that is much more tightly regulated and overseen by both the government and the public, with the latter two in control of the broad direction of the country, while it appears in the US business it the defining institution with the public and the government following but a few short show tribunals without any lasting effects.
Though that is just an outsiders impression, you surely will be able to correct me if I am wrong.



Japan practically does not have any sort of safety regulation and as a result when people are injured they cannot get any information from the company or the government and lawsuits are very difficult to prosecute. There was a good article about this in the New York Times but I can't find it since it's no doubt buried in all the news stories about Toyota's gas pedal problems. I don't think Americans would tolerate going to a system where there is no accountability in terms of safety regulations AND lawsuits (you need one or the other, or both, or else people WILL be injured) but it is what corporations and the right wing in the US want and we get closer to it every day.

That would not fly in Germany, either. Ppl here probably have more trust in the good intentions and responsebility even in big companies, but they are not as stupid as to think there won't ever be any black sheep around. And transparency in government and business actions are a huge topic here as well.

Lastly, It should be said that Germany (business, public, politics) has seen all kind of economic models, everything from extreme communist to hardcore capitalistic societies, and drew lessons from all of them.
And in the process also got a lot less confrontational. It has less to do with reverence, they way you suggest it and, admittingly, could be interpreted as, but with a rather sober view on such issues after quite a few expiriences in the past and mutual respect for the knowledge of mutual dependence.

Ba5tard5word
07-29-2010, 07:00 PM
"Insulting" does not fit here, really. The german government simply does not have any legal means to force a company's head to come in for a hearing.

What I meant was if there was a lawsuit or governmental hearing in the US and company employees from Germany were brought in to testify in one way or another.

Gammelpreusse
07-30-2010, 01:01 AM
Originally posted by Ba5tard5word:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">"Insulting" does not fit here, really. The german government simply does not have any legal means to force a company's head to come in for a hearing.

What I meant was if there was a lawsuit or governmental hearing in the US and company employees from Germany were brought in to testify in one way or another. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

that would be problematic indeed

GoToAway
07-30-2010, 06:35 AM
Originally posted by erco415:
GTA, criminalizing mistakes won't reduce the number of mistakes and will actually increase the severity of mistakes. How is this? If there are criminal penalties for a mistake made on the job, everyone will be doing their damndest to cover up anything that even looks slightly like a mistake. Covering up problems is an excellent way to make sure that the problem isn't addressed. Compare how Brazil and the United States handle aviation accidents/incidents: In the US, the worst that can happen (besides, you know, dying) to a pilot who makes a mistake is that his certification can be pulled, and if the pilot takes the time to fill out an Aviation Safety Reporting System form (also called the NASA form) describing the incident, factors that contributed to the incident, and suggestions to prevent the incident happening again, then the incident can't be used against the pilot in an enforcement action. Many airlines also have 'self-reporting' programs in which they willingly admit to errors in exchange for a promise of immunity to certificate action. In both sorts of programs, this immunity is only granted if the pilot self-reports promptly, the pilot isn't an repeat offender, and the incident in question isn't a willfull violation of the regulations. The result is an open airing of the issues facing pilots which allows them to be addressed, which improves the overall safety record.

Brazil, in contrast, holds pilots (and others) criminally liable for aviation incidents. As a result, problems aren't addressed, and everyone mostly hopes that accidents won't happen. The Gol mid-air incident is an excellent example of how a system that focuses on prosecuting mistakes differs from one that is focused on preventing mistakes. (You can read more about that accident here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gol_Transportes_A%C3%A9reos_Flight_1907)) Instead of trying to discover what went wrong, and then fixing it, everyone does their best to point fingers elsewhere and CYA. I think that is a very good system, but I don't have enough faith in humanity to trust it in a corporate environment.

In your example, you are talking about individuals. Such a system can work in that case.

In the case of corporate negligence, we're talking about large corporations that are beholden only to their shareholders. As profits are on the line, it will always be in their best interest to cover things up. Even if some sort of immunity was offered, who would take advantage of it if it cuts into the profits?

I'm not saying that cracking down is a perfect solution, but I don't see many alternatives when the root of the problem is greed. The problem isn't one of regulation or punishment, but basic human nature.

erco415
07-30-2010, 08:21 AM
You're quite right that it comes down to individuals, always has, always will. I can see your point that in a big corporation, personal responsibility can be watered down to the point that no one feels that they're responsible for more than following procedures. But, build the right corporate culture, and you can harness the power of the individual to address problems.

Frances Oldham Kelsey, who was newly hired at the FDA back in JFK's day, was responsible for not allowing thalidomide to be released in the US. From the Wiki:

In 1960, Kelsey was hired by the FDA in Washington, DC. At that time, she "was one of only seven full-time and four young part-time physicians reviewing drugs"[2] for the FDA. One of her first assignments at the FDA, was to review application by Richardson Merrell for the drug thalidomide (under the tradename Kevadon) as a tranquiliser and painkiller with specific indications to prescribe the drug to pregnant women for morning sickness. Even though it had already been approved in Canada and over 20 European and African countries,[6] she withheld approval for the drug, and requested further studies.[1] Despite pressure from thalidomide's manufacturer, Kelsey persisted in requesting additional information to explain an English study that documented a nervous system side effect.[2]

Kelsey's insistence that the drug should be fully tested prior to approval was dramatically vindicated when the births of deformed infants in Europe were linked to thalidomide ingestion by their mothers during pregnancy.[7] Researchers discovered that the thalidomide crossed the placental barrier and caused serious birth defects in infants.[5] She was hailed on the front page of The Washington Post as a heroine[8] for averting a similar tragedy in the US.[9] Morton Mintz, author of The Washington Post article, said "[Kelsey] prevented ... the birth of hundreds or indeed thousands of armless and legless children."[8] The public outcry was swift and drug testing reforms were passed unanimously by Congress a few months later.[7] The drug testing reforms required "stricter limits on the testing and distribution of new drugs"[5] to avoid similar problems. The amendments also, for the first time, recognized that "effectiveness [should be] required to be established prior to marketing."[7]

Any organization can adopt the 'culture of safety' mindset that we have in aviation. It requires good people, and it requires a focus on doing what's right.

GoToAway
07-30-2010, 11:28 AM
Originally posted by erco415:
You're quite right that it comes down to individuals, always has, always will. I can see your point that in a big corporation, personal responsibility can be watered down to the point that no one feels that they're responsible for more than following procedures. But, build the right corporate culture, and you can harness the power of the individual to address problems. I don't disagree, but how can you expect such a corporate culture to be built universally and retrofitted across society? Are there instances of responsible corporate cultures? Sure, but it has certainly not been the norm since the birth of "the corporation."

The thing is, we need ALL corporations to adopt this sort of culture, not just some. And if we could just rely upon self policing, honor, and honesty, then we wouldn't be in the situation we're currently in because a responsible corporate culture would already exist across the board. As a society we cannot legislate morality, but we can enforce rules and regulations.

Ba5tard5word
07-30-2010, 11:44 AM
Frances Oldham Kelsey, who was newly hired at the FDA back in JFK's day, was responsible for not allowing thalidomide to be released in the US.

Isn't this an example of government regulators protecting people? A lot of conservatives would like to get rid of the FDA (whose powers have already been very watered down by lobbying), which was founded by noted communist Teddy Roosevelt.

Urufu_Shinjiro
07-30-2010, 12:13 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
Come now Urufu, Jarink made no such accusation.

Kinda sounded like it to me:


Originally posted by jarink:

The numbers for Obama's first year in office speak for themselves, I think.

erco415
08-02-2010, 09:24 AM
GTA, we DO legislate morality, all the time. It's illegal to lie under oath, to steal, etc etc etc. But I get what you're saying, there's no way to compel corporations, and by extension, people to behave in a responsible way. Human nature being what it is, you will never have 100% of the population acting in a responsible, honorable, honest fashion. But I think that we can do better than we do now in encouraging that sort of behavior in people. If we have a morality problem in our corporations, then we have a morality problem in our nation. Look at the effort expended in schools to teach children the green message, it dwarfs the effort spent on teaching children the rewards of personal responsibility or any other virtues. If you want to retrofit every corporation in the US with a responsible corporate culture, you'll need to produce a few generations of employees (and a CEO is an employee) who believe that doing what's right trumps all other workplace concerns. But, like I said, even then you'll still have some companies that won't, human nature being what it is. But we'd be better off than we are now.


BS, the FDA didn't get a medal from President Kennedy, Ms. Kelsey did. Government administrations are made of individuals just as corporations are. Ms. Kelsey could have gone along and approved thalidomide, as other nations drug approval bodies did, but she didn't, and was willing to hazard her career over her objections. Of course, the FDA as a body has done some good things, they have also approved medications that they later had to recall as unsafe. My take on corporations and government agencies is nicely summed up thusly:

Inigo: I give you my word as a Spaniard.
Man in Black: No good. I've known too many Spaniards.
Inigo (suddenly very serious): I swear upon the grave of my father Domingo Montoya, you will make it to the top.
Man in Black: Throw me the rope.

I can trust a man's word, but I've known too many companies and agencies to trust their word. Like I pointed out, the FDA has some saves, but they've also had some failures. I work altogether too closely with the FAA, and for every guy there that is competent, there's another four who don't know what a Q-tip prop is, and don't get me started on the clowns who tried to take Bob Hoover down. In general, I don't have a problem with government agencies, as long as they don't abuse their power. And believe me, most government employees I've met are more concerned with their own procedures than in serving us, their customers.



Originally posted by Urufu_Shinjiro:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by erco415:
Come now Urufu, Jarink made no such accusation.

Kinda sounded like it to me:


Originally posted by jarink:

The numbers for Obama's first year in office speak for themselves, I think. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Sounded to me that he was saying that The Obama Administration has some responsibility for the deficits they're running.

Urufu_Shinjiro
08-02-2010, 02:50 PM
True, but aren't those deficites a direct result of the economic colapse? We can debate about stimulus packages etc. but the reality is something had to be done to prevent a total meltdown, McCain would have done something similar, and Bush started to do it before he left as well.

erco415
08-02-2010, 03:22 PM
Some of the deficit can be tied to the various stimulus schemes, and I agree that any president would likely have endorsed stimulus spending, but to put all of the deficit down to the economic collapse is a bit much, I think. Heck, there's still stimulus money that remains unspent.

Ba5tard5word
08-02-2010, 04:49 PM
In general, I don't have a problem with government agencies, as long as they don't abuse their power. And believe me, most government employees I've met are more concerned with their own procedures than in serving us, their customers.

Mainly they are more concerned about their own paychecks than anything else.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/...etail?entry_id=69116 (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=69116)

WTE_Galway
08-02-2010, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Ba5tard5word:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">In general, I don't have a problem with government agencies, as long as they don't abuse their power. And believe me, most government employees I've met are more concerned with their own procedures than in serving us, their customers.

Mainly they are more concerned about their own paychecks than anything else.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/...etail?entry_id=69116 (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=69116) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


Government bodies are an example of a "de-meritocracy" where the competent leave and get jobs elsewhere and the incompetent stay and end up in charge.

Messaschnitzel
08-02-2010, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by Ba5tard5word:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">In general, I don't have a problem with government agencies, as long as they don't abuse their power. And believe me, most government employees I've met are more concerned with their own procedures than in serving us, their customers.

Mainly they are more concerned about their own paychecks than anything else.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/...etail?entry_id=69116 (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?entry_id=69116) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif The Muni union getting a raise at this time doesn't surprise me. Hey, since you used to live in S.F., tell us about some of your muni bus ride stories... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif

Now that I'm on a roll, here's some other links about government agencies abusing their power:

http://www.latimes.com/news/lo...00802,0,449553.story (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bell-pensions-20100802,0,449553.story)

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/in...php?Article_ID=19634 (http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=19634)

http://latimesblogs.latimes.co...oposed-contract.html (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/07/los-angeles-city-worker-union-rejects-proposed-contract.html)

This last one is partisan, and if it has any truth to it:

http://biggovernment.com/labor...ion-pension-bailout/ (http://biggovernment.com/laborunionreport/2010/07/30/why-democrats-are-pushing-the-165-billion-union-pension-bailout/)

From what I've been reading, it must be a good situation to be working for big or small government, at least for the time being. I think that what keeps me from wanting a government job is when I think about it, the word 'Vichy' keeps popping into the picture and conflicting things for some reason. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gif

iroseland01
08-06-2010, 12:17 PM
hmm..

Folks seem to like to attribute Clinton with the budget surpluses of the late 90's

Lets take a close look at what he was managing to accomplish.

He made it a firing offence to be caught smoking in the white house..
He passed a large and sweeping anti weapons ban along with the crime bill..
he signed NAFTA
he was able to close and shrink a post cold war military ( he however did not win the cold war )
despite the previous smoking ban at the Whitehouse, he was apparently ok with consuming a cigar ( under the right circumstances )

the result, of all that was during the largest economic growth period in my life the government was spending most of its energy trying to figure out the exact circumstances surrounding the use of a cigar in the oval office.

Personally, I really did not care much about how the cigar was stored, or who it was consumed with. I was fairly bothered by the hypocrisy of a huge anti smoking guy consuming a cigar in environment that he declared non smoking.

I also greatly enjoyed a government where the legislative and executive branch were at such extreme odds that they could barely pass a budget, let alone anything else. It was awesome because they spent all of their time fighting, and the heck out of the peoples way. If they had really been paying attention we now would have a very heavily regulated and taxed internet. We instead managed to have neither, because during the time they would have been doing that they were busy fighting over the meaning of very small words. The result of the massive amount of prosperity that was the result of the government being the heck out of the way of was a fantastic amount of taxes being collected by a population that for a short time, was not only employed, but actually increasing their standard of living. Yea the rich got a heck of a lot richer, and the fool crack heads who spent the 80s' and early 90s' claiming that they "couldn’t handle school" managed to get just as poor as they were before, but now with cell phones, and internet access. In between them there was a lot of income tax, and sales tax getting collected on a great deal of economic activity because the money was flowing like water.

The sad sad fact is that both sides have very annoying and counter productive habits during boom times that make recessions worse than they would need to be.

The folks on the right, figure its time to cut taxes like crazy and not worry about actually paying off the debt since we can always do that later.

The folks on the left, figure that now is a great time to spend the extra cash on more programs that will be dependent on that cash always being available, and again we can always pay off the debt later on.

Neither of them ever consider the fact that rainy days will come, and sometimes the rain shows up as a cool shower on a hot day, some times, it shows up as a hurricane, and sometimes it shows up as drizzly rain that goes on for days.


Fact is that having any kind of monoculture in Washington has a habit of not being all that good for the economey. The reason, is that once there is a monoculture in Washington made of either party things have a habit of getting out of control, and unpredictable in the long run. The extremists of the part in power suddenly think they have a "mandate" to go off the deep end and pass what evever whaky stink of a law they want to. For buisness to do well, under any government it need predictibility and consistancy. So, why bother to invest now, if you might get a bigger tax break later? Or, why add empoloyees now, when they might suddenly become really expensive to have around in 6 months? Why risk adding infraastructure now, when in a year it could turn out that the EPA suddently has the ability to say you should not be usging that electricty to produce something, or that your new building needs to be converted back into a wetland. How can your accounting department figure out how to amortize a new medical imaging wing on the hospital when out of the blue the feds decide they are going to reduce payments for service through medicare? Here is an example of stupid on both sides of the isle..

dems pass HIPPA apparently without concidering how much more expensive the reporting requirements would make providing medical care. Go work in a HIPPA environment, and tell me it didnt perhapse go a wee bit too far.

republicans pass SOX. Sarbanes Oxley, was supposed to do one thing, but so far just manages to make getting through the frequent audits and expensive pain in the bottom.

Now, imagine what these two craptastic laws do to an enviornment where you need to follow both.

So, Clintons surplus? Really, I dont think so. It seems more like we can thank Microsoft for Deilivering windows95 with TCP/IP support, and a functional dial up manager. While a kid from Central Wisconsin was getting Mosaic to load on just about anything with a GUI.

mortoma
08-06-2010, 09:32 PM
Originally posted by GoToAway:
This is hardly surprising.

Especially when you consider that the previous administration did everything within its power deregulate everything and remove corporate accountability.

It's sad, but things like this illustrate exactly why corporations need to be treated like mentally deficient children. What does regulation have to do with a barge or boat hitting a capped off wellhead slightly below water level?? The only "regulation" that would likely prevent that from happening would be a regulation that ceased drilling for oil off the coast entirely? Deregulation might have made the big BP leak more likely ( although regulation is hardly a panacea answer for everything ) but in this case I fail to see how any regulations could help much.

mortoma
08-06-2010, 09:36 PM
Originally posted by Urufu_Shinjiro:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by jarink:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by p-11.cAce:
I hate to inject a dose of reality...

http://www.allhatnocattle.net/bush_deficit_graphic.gif

http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/obama-deficit21.gif

You'll also note that the trend over the last few years of Bush Jr's term was a shrinking deficit. 2008 saw a sharp reversal in that trend, I'd guess mainly due to the economy going south.

The numbers for Obama's first year in office speak for themselves, I think. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

So a worldwide economic disaster is Obama's fault now? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>So is it Bush's fault then? I doubt it............

PhantomKira
08-08-2010, 09:49 AM
No, at least not directly. I'd venture it's the fault of the idiot consumer (or maybe the banks who let him do this), who decided he could take credit buying to the extreme. And when his debts were suddenly called in, he couldn't pay, and the floor fell out from under, and down went the economy. (It was the real estate market here in the US. Don't know about elsewhere). Hmmm. Sound familiar? Crash of 1929 ring any bells?

GoToAway
08-08-2010, 10:05 AM
Originally posted by PhantomKira:
No, at least not directly. I'd venture it's the fault of the idiot consumer (or maybe the banks who let him do this), who decided he could take credit buying to the extreme. And when his debts were suddenly called in, he couldn't pay, and the floor fell out from under, and down went the economy. (It was the real estate market here in the US. Don't know about elsewhere). Hmmm. Sound familiar? Crash of 1929 ring any bells? Exactly.

Do we really need any more proof that capitalism doesn't work, has never worked, and will never work as long as men are controlled by greed?

PhantomKira
08-08-2010, 10:22 AM
Hmmm. Almost 100 years. Whatever happened to "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it"?

erco415
08-08-2010, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by GoToAway:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by PhantomKira:
No, at least not directly. I'd venture it's the fault of the idiot consumer (or maybe the banks who let him do this), who decided he could take credit buying to the extreme. And when his debts were suddenly called in, he couldn't pay, and the floor fell out from under, and down went the economy. (It was the real estate market here in the US. Don't know about elsewhere). Hmmm. Sound familiar? Crash of 1929 ring any bells? Exactly.

Do we really need any more proof that capitalism doesn't work, has never worked, and will never work as long as men are controlled by greed? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

It works a heck of a lot better than the alternatives.

But, a lot of people uses the inevitable corrections, crashes, bubble bursts, etc as proof that capitalism doesn't work. This is no different than saying that cars don't work because they crash. Economies, like every other human invention, are subject to occasional failures, tragedies, and disasters. To give up on the economic form that has done more than any other to improve the quality of life for people worldwide, because it doesn't work perfectly, is really missing the point. It works as well as people are willing to make it work. Men will always be motivated by self-interest, whatever the economic system you give them.

I'll add that men are also motivated by fear, which goes a long way to explain the sluggish economic recovery. But, fear is just another form of self-interest.

Lastly, when did we as a society decide that tragedy was an unnatural, unacceptable part of life? No one likes tragedy, but it happens, and to think that we can eliminate it has made for some awfully strange legislation.

GoToAway
08-08-2010, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
But, a lot of people uses the inevitable corrections, crashes, bubble bursts, etc as proof that capitalism doesn't work. Yeah.
That and the fact that 5 of the world's 6 billion people live in abject poverty, anyway.

I rather doubt that most of the human population would agree with your assessment of the virtues of capitalism since it was capitalism that put them where they are in the first place. Capitalism is great--for the minority on top.

It's barbarous for everyone else.


Economies, like every other human invention, are subject to occasional failures, tragedies, and disasters. Inventions must be refined and occasionally reinvented in order for progress to made.

Oddly, economics has turned into something akin to a religion for many. People dogmatically cling to capitalism the same way that they cling to the Bible.

Something can't be improved when people "have faith" that it is inherently right.

erco415
08-08-2010, 01:28 PM
You got any data to back up that assertion, GTA?

Gary Becker, (Nobel prize winner) has this to say:

"Or look at developing countries," he says. "China, India, Brazil. A billion people have been lifted out of poverty since 1990 because their countries moved toward more market-based economies—a billion people. Nobody's arguing for taking that back."

(Full article here. (http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB1000142405274870409410457514401190622 2520.html))

This (http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB1000142405274870445430457508168048059 9148.html) is also a good article. An excerpt:

How Conservatives Get Capitalism Wrong

If our argument has been correct, then the Great Recession was a regulatory failure, not a failure of capitalism. But it is also an occasion for a rethinking of capitalism--by both its conservative defenders and its liberal critics.

Let us start with conservatives, many of whom make the mistake of extolling the brilliance, wisdom, or heroism of capitalists. They forget that for every Jamie Dimon, there is a Chuck Prince. Capitalists are as fallible as anyone else. Collectively, they possess no superior powers; their lucky guesses, no matter how well informed, are still guesses. Everyone can see this in the wake of the crisis. Paeans to capitalist genius will no longer do.

Seventy-three percent of the successful entrepreneurs recently surveyed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation said luck was an important factor in their success.[23] These successful capitalists' own assessments happen to track the standard liberal view. The main point made by John Rawls--the great philosopher whom conservatives love to loathe but hate to read--was that good luck, including even the good luck to develop a strong work ethic, confers no moral claim. Winners of the genetic lottery, Rawls said, are not thereby entitled to be rewarded. Liberals are right to notice that good luck explains many capitalists' success, and that bad luck--accidents of birth--condemn millions to lives of misery. Conservatives who close their eyes to the accidental element in wealth and poverty make themselves appear both heartless and clueless.

In addition to their unfortunate romanticizing of capitalists, conservatives have erred by adopting the economists' standard explanation for the success of capitalism: self-interest. Self-interest is supposed to ¬provide the "magic of the market," but we can safely assume that Chuck Prince was every bit as self-interested as Jamie Dimon. Both of them had equally strong incentives to save their banks, but that did not help Citigroup. Armen Alchian, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed in 1950 that capitalism would succeed even if capitalists were not motivated by self-interest. And the fact is that many successful -capitalists, such as the founders of Google and Whole Foods, were not motivated by self-interest.[24]

Unfortunately, economists have only grown more obsessed with self-interest--that is, "incentives"--since 1950. This has led many conservatives to embrace the idea that "greed is good"--a woeful misreading of Adam Smith. Smith's parable of the baker, to whose benevolence we do not appeal when we buy our bread, is actually a lesson in unintended consequences, not in the wonders of greed. Even if the baker intends merely to make money, he can do so only by providing his customers with bread. In his case, greed is indeed good. But that does not mean that greed is always good and benevolence bad, nor that all bakers are in it solely for the money. Nor does it mean that greed accounts for the success of capitalism.

How Liberals Get Capitalism Wrong

Liberals are right to see through the usual conservative defenses of capitalism, but they are wrong on the big picture. They fail to notice that there is more to capitalism than luck and greed: there is competition--the saving grace of the whole system; the device that turns good luck to social advantage; and, when undisturbed, the source of capitalism's systemic strength.

Competition is the engine that turns the talents of the lucky to the service of all. A baker who offers moldy or bland bread can be driven from the field by a competitor offering a better product. That is the message of Adam Smith. The successful baker, no matter how greedy his motive for baking bread, must unintentionally mimic the very actions an altruistic Rawlsian philosopher would prescribe. The reason is the competitive nature of the capitalist system; the motives of individual capitalists are irrelevant. Competition puts capitalists' different motives, like their different ideas, to the acid test of consumer satisfaction. This tends to give consumers what they want--or at least what they think they want--and it diversifies a capitalist society's investment portfolio. Capitalism thus mitigates both human greed and human fallibility. This is an amazing achievement, but there is nothing magical about it.

Now consider again the alternatives liberals tend to favor--either the regulation of capitalism or its replacement by something more democratic, like an idealized socialism. Since regulators' or citizens' ideas would then be imposed on the whole economy at once, they could not be put to the competitive test--any more than the conflicting arguments of debaters, the conflicting promises of politicians, or the conflicting forecasts of budget analysts can be tested. If the citizens' or the regulators' ideas happen to be good ones, we all gain; if they happen to be bad, we all lose.

The whole system crashed when the financial regulators' ideas about prudent banking backfired, but such failures are inevitable unless modern societies are so ¬simple that the solutions to social and economic problems will be self-evident to a generalist voter, or even a specialist regulator. That modern societies really are that simple is, in truth, the hidden assumption of modern politics. This is why political conflicts get so ugly: neither side can understand why their adversaries oppose what "self-evidently" should be done, so both sides ascribe evil motives to each other. But the financial crisis has exposed this simplistic view of the world for what it is. In the wake of the crisis, nobody can plausibly deny anymore that modern societies are bafflingly complex. The solutions to social and economic problems are thereby unlikely to be self-evident. The theories that seem so obviously true to voters or regulators may turn out to be disastrously false--unless regulators or citizens are infallible.

That surely would be magical. But there is no more magic to politics than there is to markets. The question raised by the ongoing intellectual contest between socialism and capitalism, and the ongoing practical battle between regulation and competition, is how best to guard against human frailties: By putting all our eggs in one politically decided basket? Or by spreading our bets through the only practical means available: competition?

GoToAway
08-08-2010, 01:55 PM
Originally posted by erco415:
You got any data to back up that assertion, GTA? http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Jakarta_slumhome_2.jpg/800px-Jakarta_slumhome_2.jpg

This is how the majority of the human population lives. With projections putting the population near 10 billion in 2050, this is getting worse, not better.

Yes, a billion people are better off than they were 50 years ago. But that really isn't saying much, now is it. Now these people have bikes and closet apartments instead of shoes with holes and shacks, but they still are not living at the standards of the most fortunate billion.

When an economic system fails 4/5ths of the human population, I'm really not sure how it can be argued to be a success.

erco415
08-08-2010, 03:20 PM
When an economic system fails 4/5ths of the human population, I'm really not sure how it can be argued to be a success.

Because it did better than the alternative. And, frankly, I don't buy your assertion that capitalism failed these people. Your picture (where was it taken?) could be the result of economic policies other than capitalism. There are a number of things needed for a nation and it's people to become prosperous.

It seems to me that the core of your dissatisfaction with capitalism is that it does not create economic equality among people. No doubt you are aware that a disparity of wealth is present regardless of the economic system?

Anyway, imagine if we took all of the world's wealth (est.$44 trillion in 2006) and distributed it equally among all the world's inhabitants. The 2005 estimate of the world's population was 6,580,990,897 people, which works out to around $6685 per person. This sounds to me like something you would consider fair. No doubt, to the many in the world who have never seen such an amount of money in one place, this would seem a blessing (though a reader of Steinbeck's The Pearl would recognize that it could just as easily be a curse). My question to you is how long would this equality of wealth last? Certainly not longer than it would take for the recipients of this windfall to make it to the nearest market, or for the first thief to practice his trade.

And then what would you do? Would you have in place a system that guarantees that none of us would ever have more (or less) than $6685? Have you ever given any thought to what the social and economic effects of such a system would be? However, I doubt that you would subscribe to such folly. I suspect that there is some disparity of wealth that you would find acceptable.

Of the two major economic systems, socialism concerns itself with the distribution of wealth while capitalism is concerned with the creation of wealth. Socialism as a system is quite poor at creating wealth. Capitalism does not distribute wealth equally. It is worth noting that among the 'socialist' nations, those that are most prosperous are those that have embraced capitalism. There is no better example than the rise of China, except for the fall of Venezuela.

And I am impressed- turning your nose up at a BILLION people being better off takes some doing.