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Debates Forum

  1. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    15 Jul '09 01:31 / 1 edit
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers before they started this business. One was more of an investor but the other, we'll call him Pete, was the engineer in the throttle.

    Pete probably sunk close to a quarter of a million dollars in cash and incurred liabilities. Pete could have instead gotten a management job with a different company, but chose to create this business instead. I personally watched Pete over many years work his butt off to build this company. He worked long hours and weekends. He read everything he could about the industry and literally moved across the country for the sake of the business.

    I worked for Pete almost since the begining of the business. I also worked hard, at a below market wage in exchange for promises of future rewards and because it was a job I loved doing. But, a key difference that never once escaped my attention was that whereas I risked almost nothing other than some time put in at below market wage, Pete would be ruined financially if the business failed. I watched him during downturns sink more and more time and money into the business, at times worrying that he was throwing good money after bad. I was never willing to take any financial risk myself (though I was offered).

    Fortunately, the business has done fairly well. Not enough to make anyone rich, but enough to return Pete his investment and to be paying market rate salaries. Excess profits are still being re-invested in new technologies and services for the business. Other employees, other than the few originals of us, have worked at market rate salaries during their entire tenure. They have taken no risk on the company.

    Now, assume that some government bureaucrat walks in and says "Well, let's divide this company's profits based on production. Everyone will get reasonable back salaries for the times they were unpaid or underpaid and henceforth, everyone gets what they product. Pete, sh76, you're producing roughly the same value for the company right now. So, we're nationalizing the company and you each get equal salaries from now on. Giving Pete a higher salary than sh76 is unfair because it allows Pete to profit on sh76's back."

    In my view, this is not only stupid (because it discourages the Petes of the World from starting new businesses), but it is also immoral. Pete worked his heart out and was willing to take the risks to build the business. I wasn't. I deserve some credit for building the business, but not as much as Pete does. For Pete and I to be granted equal salaries because we produce the same amount would be disgusting. Without Pete, there would be no business and the US economy would lack a good producer, employer and service provider. Without me, Pete may have found a dozen other people who could have done what I did (though I'd like to think maybe not as well). Pete deserves to own the company, to be able to sell it to the highest bidder and to be able to realize the profits that the market gives him. I deserve my negotiated salary and those promised rewards. Our employees deserve the salaries that the market will bear for them. To say that they, who took no risk, deserve as much as does Pete, who took a tremendous risk, or even I, who took a moderate risk, is absurd.

    If Pete makes a lot of money, should he pay the taxes necessary to fund necessary social programs? Sure. But should his profits be confiscated through taxation calculated to re-distribute wealth simply because a political philosophy has determined that he doesn't deserve profits any more than the workers? That thought sickens me.

    Would I support any Socialist-like policies in certain fields like healthcare if they were necessary and efficient? Maybe. Depends on the industry and the program. Do I support taxation and some wealth re-distribution that is necessary to maintain reasonable standards of living for people? Again, if it's done reasonably, I'm fine with it.

    But would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
  2. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    15 Jul '09 02:19
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    If the world produced only enlightened despots, then despotism wouldn't be so bad, would it?
  3. 15 Jul '09 02:28
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    So what country are you going to move to since you don't like socialism?
  4. 15 Jul '09 02:39
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    That was a good example. Small business in this country is loosing incentive as it is. Get a socialist government mucking it up and why even bother.
  5. 15 Jul '09 02:53 / 2 edits
    I have to say that there is more about socialism that I detest. Entitilements are an example. They are but the bait on the hook for people to embrace socialism. I am all for helping those who are destitute, but not if I am detitute myself. Look at the US. They are some $11 trillion dollars in debt and in the middle of a financial crisis and the first order of business is to wrap our arms around the biggest entitltment ever suggested which is universal health care. It is like being destitute and taking out loans in order to give to the poor. It is madness. Of course, that is not the only thing I detest about entitltements. In short, it robs from those who give to those in need the gift of giving and it robs from those who recieve the gift of gratitude for those who give. What is left then are people who detest giving and find any way they can to get out of giving their money via tax breaks etc and those who receive the entitlement who adopt an attitude entitlement and are never satisfied. In fact, they always think they should be entitled to more. But the kicker is the middleman who is skimming money off the top because they need paid to make it all happen. In fact, the steal money out of the pot much like social security and it becomes nothing more than a ponzi scheme. The salt in the wound is, however, no matter how many entitlements you put out there, you still have the poor. You still have those who don't recieve proper medical care. In short, it is NEVER enough so they keep pushing for the utopia that never comes.
    Other than that, entitlements are great!!!
  6. 15 Jul '09 02:57
    Originally posted by joe beyser
    That was a good example. Small business in this country is loosing incentive as it is. Get a socialist government mucking it up and why even bother.
    What is even worse is the incentive to work. Why work when over half your pay check disappears? Then the only people working will be those who "enjoy" their jobs. In other words, there will be few and far between who work and those that do will only work when they want to work. What a productive economy that would be!!
  7. 15 Jul '09 03:33 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    What is even worse is the incentive to work. Why work when over half your pay check disappears? Then the only people working will be those who "enjoy" their jobs. In other words, there will be few and far between who work and those that do will only work when they want to work. What a productive economy that would be!!
    The USSR is an example of failed socialism. At what point does the government go from telling you how much you can make to what job you must work? If people decide not to work, will the government order you to do so. Can a person quit his job? If he quits his job then does the state confiscate his children? It is best to keep government out of business I think. If this governmet is so good at money matters that it can say who can make how much, then how come they can't run a balanced budget?
  8. 15 Jul '09 05:50
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    Well put. Will any socialist sympathizers out there take the time to actually read some real life stories of how their favored ideologies work out in practice?
  9. 15 Jul '09 06:37
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    I can agree with that. I believe in welfare capitalism as set out by Thomas Paine and others since then. Marx went too far in suggesting that all socially necessary work should be paid equally.

    The government should smooth out the rough edges of capitalism (e.g. pollution, homelessness, etc.) and provide certain essential services (e.g. healthcare, libraries, roads, postal services, emergency services, etc.) but not take over things altogether. It's about finding the right balance.
  10. 15 Jul '09 06:39
    Originally posted by whodey
    What is even worse is the incentive to work. Why work when over half your pay check disappears? Then the only people working will be those who "enjoy" their jobs. In other words, there will be few and far between who work and those that do will only work when they want to work. What a productive economy that would be!!
    Progressive taxation deals perfectly well with this issue. There was plenty of incentive to work during the economically liberal post-WW2 years under Truman, Eisenhower and JFK.
  11. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    15 Jul '09 07:00
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    Not a socialist myself, but a free country with free market can do very well with some redistributive mechanisms. Ideologies really don't matter but the bottom line: that people are well.

    I wonder: how much Pete owes for what he received throughout his life? Education, infrastructure, medical care, etc.

    Moreover, what would have happened if Pete falls ill or his wife or kids? I am sure he deserves to collect the fruits of all his hard work, not to pay them all to some private clinic.
  12. 15 Jul '09 08:15
    All I can say about this is that if you take a risk, it kinda goes with it that you may lose, and fair
    has absolutely nothing to do with it. The idea behind socialism is that you shouldn't have to
    take risks to live well and enjoy all the fruits of your hard labour. You only take risks to get ahead
    of everyone else (why that would even matter). What's so detestable about that?

    If I go to work every day for forty years, end up with a broken back and in need of hospital care,
    I'd like to think that my future is not dependant on some capitalist despot whom decides whether
    or not I "deserve" it, but that the society for which I've ultimately worked, makes sure I'm ok in
    times of need. Why the hell would I even bother working and giving society a fair share of what I
    produce, if the return falls mostly in the pocket of some other guy who couldn't care less about
    my well being once I'm no longer work enabled? The point of a society is that we're stronger,
    more productive and better protected against harm from the outside, and with that comes
    responsibilities. You have to do your fair share to see to it that this is so. People who escape this
    responsibility under lofty excuses like "taking (unnecessary) risks deserves rewards" are not
    working in favour of a society, but directly against it. I don't see why they would even consider
    being part of a group, since clearly they think they're better off without everyone else (but for the
    exploitation of course).
  13. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    15 Jul '09 10:14
    Originally posted by sh76
    Okay, as promised on another thread a few days ago...

    For most of my working life to this point, I've worked directly for the owners of small businesses. One is a law firm and that has a different character than most businesses, so let me focus on the other one.

    This business was started by two entrepreneurs, both of whom were successful in their careers ...[text shortened]... t would I support socialism as a philosophy? Never in a million years. I abhor it.
    Government bureaucrats mandating equal pay for unequal risk? That's your conception of socialism? Sounds like a strawman argument to me.

    You have described a set of input taken by 'Pete' that lead to a certain outcome. Both the input and the outcome are exclusive to a capitalist system. In your conception of socialism you imagine the input remaining the same, but the outcome being forcibly altered by shadowy government bureaucrats. This is simply not the case. Both the input and the outcome would be altered.

    Plus the story is anecdotal. You examine one good boss who worked hard and therefore conclude that capitalism is justified. I could just as easily find one worker who was screwed over by a rapacious boss and conclude that capitalism is unjustified. It devolves into dueling anecdotes.
  14. 15 Jul '09 10:19 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by karnachz
    Progressive taxation deals perfectly well with this issue. There was plenty of incentive to work during the economically liberal post-WW2 years under Truman, Eisenhower and JFK.
    I would say that progressive taxation works to some degree, but as Leonna Helmsley once said, "Only the little people pay taxes". THey hire lawyers and accountants and use off shore accounts etc. to find ways around paying their taxes. Other examples are all the tax dodgers in Washington we witnessed earlier this year. Of course, that does not iinclude those in Washington who pay their taxes but find ways around having to pay as much for them. In addition, you have businesses going over seas to avoid higher taxation and higher minimum wage expenses as well as having to shell out money for entitlements. Therefore, it would be better to say that those trapped between being poor and extremetly wealthy are the only ones who pay "progressive taxes". Soon, however, a nonprogressive tax will be put in place that is the highest tax increase in US history via cap and trade. Once you start down this road there is no turning back.

    Edit: As a side note, I would say that employers having to pay minmum wages and entitlements hurt small businesses like the one sh76 was talking about more than the big corporations.
  15. 15 Jul '09 10:26
    Originally posted by eljefejesus
    Well put. Will any socialist sympathizers out there take the time to actually read some real life stories of how their favored ideologies work out in practice?
    I think of myself as a liberal or social democrat, not a socialist, so I'm not defending nationalised industry here, but this is a real life anecdote in favour of universal health care.

    My 40-year old cousin is the mother of three boys. When the eldest boy was five, he had a sudden stroke, due probably to a virus which weakened his circulation. It was entirely unpredictable and very serious, leaving him paralysed from the neck down, and requiring prolonged and costly treatment.

    I'm not actually using this particular family as proof that universal health care is justified. My cousin and her husband are both employed, and her father, though retired, is very well off, having held senior positions in a number of prominent private firms. If we did not have a decent national health service in Britain, then my cousin's family could no doubt have afforded health insurance. But my cousin's case is not unique, and there will be others in similar circumstances who do not have the salaries or family backing to afford treatment without government help.

    So my point is basically, when the same sort of tragedy befalls a poor family, I think a civilised society ought to be willing to fund their treatment from general taxation. It may be "fair" that the healthy get taxed to pay for the treatment of the sick; but then it's not really "fair" that some five-year-old boys suffer strokes, either.