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kick it off

What the f*** is wrong with society? where did it go wrong and how do we fix it?

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Capitalism is a good system when it works for everyone. At the moment it is only working for the already wealthy, who are getting richer and richer, while making it harder for others to have a fair crack of the whip. 

Take housing for example. If my generation put in the hours, saved hard and were sensible it was reasonably easy to get on the housing ladder. It is practically impossible for the current generation. It does not matter if they put in a 60 hour week and live like a monk they still struggle to save even for a deposit.

The easily fooled will just blame it on immigration or some such cop out, but it is far more complex a problem and needs sorting before we have a really serious problem.

Land reform, rent reform, building reform are areas that need property looking at. Unfortunately the already wealthy are in control of this so getting the greedy few to change their mindset will be a very hard task. 

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11 hours ago, Rock The Boat said:

The target of your ire is misplaced. The real, deep problem in society is that people do not behave morally.

Capitalism has brought you a thousand, million benefits. You are going to live longer, healthier with more freedom, choice and enjoyment than at any other time in the past. A lot of that is due to capitalism and more precisely due to those who implemented  capitalism in an ethical and moral way. But we don't need to overstress the benefits of capitalism when we would be much better using our time to consider the importance of morality.

The guy sitting next to you on the bus listening to music without headphones isn't doing so because the fact that he lives in a capitalist society, it's because he is acting irresponsibly. He is a man-child who has yet to grow up and behave like an adult in an adult environment.In other words he is lacking a moral framework.

I think you are mistaken if you believe that the pursuit of wealth has been elevated above all else. Consider who you admire the most in the world. I doubt you will answer someone like Mark Zukerberg, and Kim Kardashian will be way off your radar, I suspect. And even if you were to admire a very wealthy person such as Bill Gates, his charitable work probably has a lot to do with it.

This holds true for left-wing figures, too. I don't think many people revere someone like Nelson Mandela for his socialist economic policies. He is remembered for his courage and bravery during imprisonment and for ending apartheid in a peaceful manner. In other words we elevate those who behave morally, especially when under duress.

Capitalism hasn't made people more selfish, and the core point from Solzhenityn's Gulag Archipelago is that Marxism doesn't make people more corrupt. The point is that we all as individuals make individual choices, and we can be either moral or immoral and that choice is up to us.

And because it is true, it is totally ridiculous to throw out generalisms such as the person taking home £15 million a year is somehow a bad guy. Because you make no distinction about how he made £15 million (perhaps he employs a thousand people?), or how he spends £15 million (perhaps he makes large donations to charity?). So instead of being overly stretched by a large amount of money, isn't it more important, from the chav on the bus to the rich guy in his Bentley, to consider that they (and by extension, we) are behaving in a moral manner?

I should stress I'm not saying capitalism is bad- however I do believe the current form of capitalism isn't working. 

I don't disagree with your point about morality but I believe the system we have an how society has developed has encouraged that. The pure, unfettered free market capitalism prides the individual above all else and plays a part in the 'I'm alright Jack' mentality so many people have.

I think you've also misread my point about people earning millions. I don't have an issue with people making money, I do have an issue when that person tries to minimise their tax payments. 

 

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7 hours ago, king canary said:

I should stress I'm not saying capitalism is bad- however I do believe the current form of capitalism isn't working. 

I don't disagree with your point about morality but I believe the system we have an how society has developed has encouraged that. The pure, unfettered free market capitalism prides the individual above all else and plays a part in the 'I'm alright Jack' mentality so many people have.

I think you've also misread my point about people earning millions. I don't have an issue with people making money, I do have an issue when that person tries to minimise their tax payments. 

 

You quite rightly identify the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude as a root cause of some of the problems in society, of course along with other root causes. But that exists everywhere, regardless of the system. It might even be correct that the capitalist system encourages that particular attitude more than other systems. I don't know if it's true but even if we accept it, the answer is to deal with the attitude and not restrict the capitalist system. If I had a workmate who had an 'I'm alright Jack' attitude, I'd want to know what I could do to change the attitude rather than change the workplace to accommodate the attitude.

On this issue of minimising tax payments, you must hate me then, because I minimise my tax payments by paying a big chunk of my salary into my pension pot which has the effect of reducing my tax bill. I don't really think you have an issue with people avoiding tax - you should celebrate it! - but of course, it is immoral to evade paying taxes, and once again the issue really comes back to morality once again, and the choice we have to do the right thing.

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10 hours ago, Herman said:

Capitalism is a good system when it works for everyone. At the moment it is only working for the already wealthy, who are getting richer and richer, while making it harder for others to have a fair crack of the whip. 

Take housing for example. If my generation put in the hours, saved hard and were sensible it was reasonably easy to get on the housing ladder. It is practically impossible for the current generation. It does not matter if they put in a 60 hour week and live like a monk they still struggle to save even for a deposit.

The easily fooled will just blame it on immigration or some such cop out, but it is far more complex a problem and needs sorting before we have a really serious problem.

Land reform, rent reform, building reform are areas that need property looking at. Unfortunately the already wealthy are in control of this so getting the greedy few to change their mindset will be a very hard task. 

I'm interested to now who you think are the greedy people in the housing market and what they are doing?

I don't think you mean the people who are in the market for a home? Incidently, Herman, our generation paid about the same as the current generation does during the lifetime of the mortgage. What has changed is that we had relatively lower entry costs as the deposit was more affordable but our interest rates were much higher than what a mortgagee pays today, so our higher costs were spread out over a longer time period. Today, someone who is lucky enough to have a deposit it is a better position that we were because of the lower interest rates. But like I said, over the length of a mortgage the costs are not that much different than we paid relative to income. So why did deposits become so much more expensive? That is mainly due to rise in house prices - and that partly is a result of not enough housing stock to meet demand but even more as a result of low interest rates due to QE and the encouragement of debt.

It could be easily fixed and the market returned to how it was for our generation, by measures such as raising interest rates and restricting who is allowed to issue home loans,  allow building on Green Belt, for example. But it's not done because of the negative effects on the rest of the economy and for environmental concerns. 

But yeah, tell me about the greedy few.

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Ben Habib?! There's one name for you to investigate. 

Land bankers as well. 

Leasehold speculators. 

Edited by Herman

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3 hours ago, Herman said:

Ben Habib?! There's one name for you to investigate. 

Land bankers as well. 

Leasehold speculators. 

Buy to let landlords, second home owners...

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16 hours ago, Rock The Boat said:

You quite rightly identify the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude as a root cause of some of the problems in society, of course along with other root causes. But that exists everywhere, regardless of the system. It might even be correct that the capitalist system encourages that particular attitude more than other systems. I don't know if it's true but even if we accept it, the answer is to deal with the attitude and not restrict the capitalist system. If I had a workmate who had an 'I'm alright Jack' attitude, I'd want to know what I could do to change the attitude rather than change the workplace to accommodate the attitude.

Again, I'm not against 'the captialist system' but I am against completely deregulated, free market capitalism. When profit becomes the aim above all else then inevitably the human element suffers. Just look at private healthcare in the states for instance- people going bankrupt because they get cancer. No humane society should want this yet it happens because insurance companies are businesses whose main duty is to making profit and appeasing shareholders. Similarly check out the working conditions at an Amazon fulfillment plant. Amazon could easily afford to pay and treat their workers much better but the bottom line is all important.

16 hours ago, Rock The Boat said:

On this issue of minimising tax payments, you must hate me then, because I minimise my tax payments by paying a big chunk of my salary into my pension pot which has the effect of reducing my tax bill. I don't really think you have an issue with people avoiding tax - you should celebrate it! - but of course, it is immoral to evade paying taxes, and once again the issue really comes back to morality once again, and the choice we have to do the right thing.

I don't hate you- I don't agree with your choice but there you go. You do lose me when you say it should be celebrated though.

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On 15/05/2019 at 17:08, Rock The Boat said:

You quite rightly identify the 'I'm alright Jack' attitude as a root cause of some of the problems in society, of course along with other root causes. But that exists everywhere, regardless of the system. It might even be correct that the capitalist system encourages that particular attitude more than other systems. I don't know if it's true but even if we accept it, the answer is to deal with the attitude and not restrict the capitalist system. If I had a workmate who had an 'I'm alright Jack' attitude, I'd want to know what I could do to change the attitude rather than change the workplace to accommodate the attitude.

On this issue of minimising tax payments, you must hate me then, because I minimise my tax payments by paying a big chunk of my salary into my pension pot which has the effect of reducing my tax bill. I don't really think you have an issue with people avoiding tax - you should celebrate it! - but of course, it is immoral to evade paying taxes, and once again the issue really comes back to morality once again, and the choice we have to do the right thing.

 

9 hours ago, king canary said:

Again, I'm not against 'the captialist system' but I am against completely deregulated, free market capitalism. When profit becomes the aim above all else then inevitably the human element suffers. Just look at private healthcare in the states for instance- people going bankrupt because they get cancer. No humane society should want this yet it happens because insurance companies are businesses whose main duty is to making profit and appeasing shareholders. Similarly check out the working conditions at an Amazon fulfillment plant. Amazon could easily afford to pay and treat their workers much better but the bottom line is all important.

I don't hate you- I don't agree with your choice but there you go. You do lose me when you say it should be celebrated though.

Again, I'm not against 'the captialist system' but I am against completely deregulated, free market capitalism

Me, too. Though I see regulation as mainly for creating a level playing field and intervening to prevent harm to people, the environment and such like.

Health care is a very good example. Almost all new medical drugs are produced by companies operating in a competitive market, and while a lot of research is done through government funded grants, it is countries with flourishing market economies who are able to raise the necessary funds through taxation who are able to fund the research. How many ground-breaking medical advances can you name that have occurred in pre-capitalist Russia or China, for example? 

The work at amazon won't be for everyone. It involves a lot of walking and movement. If you're overweight or unfit then it's probably not a job for you. But that's hardly Amazon's fault. And they pay the market rate. If they didn't then you wouldn't work for them. Yet at Christmas Amazon took on 15,000 seasonal workers in the UK, and were able to offer full-time employment to 2,300 of them the following January. And after two years permanent employment those same people would be eligible for Amazon stock options. So that's a whole bunch of people who got jobs who didn't have a job previously and have been literally rescued from the dole by one of the most successful examples of the free market economy in action. And that's why the bottom line is so important. It is the incentive that makes it worthwhile for entrepreneurs to take the risk and start up totally new businesses from an idea. Something that governments just aren't good at. And because of the rewards of capitalism it comes back to what I wrote in my very first point in my first post. You are going to live longer, healthier with more freedom, choice and enjoyment than at any other time in the past. 

 

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18 hours ago, Rock The Boat said:

 

You are going to live longer, healthier with more freedom, choice and enjoyment than at any other time in the past.

Certainly this was true but there are alarming indications that this has gone into reverse in the poorer parts of the UK and US. For me this in part of the unwinding of the post war social democratic consensus since the eighties. The neo-liberals/monetarist/Thatcherites/whatever you want to call them took the benefits of the consensus, the UK's one off North Sea Oil bounty, the one off sales of assets and a private debt bubble to reform the economy. Unfortunately the financial crash demonstrated the limitations of this approach. Growth is not now driven from the productive economy because there has been massive underinvestment but rather through asset bubbles, borrowing and rent. Effectively a giant Ponzi scheme. The low wage, low investment, low productivity, low tax economy has successfully created this jobs miracle but is unsustainable.

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3 hours ago, Herman said:

Capitalism done the good way, where everyone benefits. Bosses, workers and customers.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/18/richer-sounds-boss-julian-richer-has-no-regrets

Good spot, Herman. Backs up what I am saying, that there is no good or bad capitalism but there are good and bad people operating within the system. The answer is not to change the system but to get the bad guys to stop and encourage the good guys to continue.

Socialism on the other hand is inherently bad because it is a system predicated on taking away the rewards of those who work and giving it to those who don't (while skimming off a percentage for those who perform the giving and taking). It's theft, even if some of it is of the Robin Hood variety.

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"The answer is not to change the system but to get the bad guys to stop and encourage the good guys to continue."

As has been shown in the US, UK, Europe, South America etc the bad guys are being actively encouraged by being voted into power.

 

And as to socialism being inherently bad it depends what type you mean. The Nordic model style of social democracy has worked rather well (could include Germany in this?!) and Chinese "socialism" has worked, although not pleasant.

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