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Why the "government bad, corporate good" attitude?

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posted on Sep, 17 2009 @ 08:12 AM
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Most large corporations only have the control, size and power they do because politicians and government has been complicit in helping them acquire that power and wealth. Remove cronyism and you will increase competition thus reducing excess profits, crappy products/services and exorbitant executive pay.

[edit on 17-9-2009 by I_am_Spartacus]




posted on Sep, 17 2009 @ 11:50 AM
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reply to post by Open_Minded Skeptic

And that, I believe, is why corporate influence or participation especially in the military arena is just not good for the country.

Again, agreed. The only reason I even included the words 'minimal involvement' is that corporations do one thing in the arena of military that the military just isn't prepared to do well: make things they need. I see no problem with Boeing or Douglas making the fighter jets, as long as it is the military who flies them, the military that arms them, and the military that decides when to drop those arms.

Anything more is just not kosher.


Maybe my point here was that SS itself is a fine program... the only reason it is in trouble is due to the theft we have both noted. My speculation is that corporate influence of said politicos contributes to the enthusiasm they demonstrate in doing that.

Actually, that is one area where I do not see corporate involvement. In respect to the robbing of SS, I see the main culprit as ourselves, the individuals. It has become popular to sell votes for social services, and the massive amount of funds that it takes to buy all the needed votes has to come from somewhere. Raising taxes is always unpopular, and always costs votes. So when you leave money lying around from one fund that can be picked up by unscrupulous politicians as an alternative to raising taxes, expect it to disappear, just as SS disappeared. The people demand it.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and we as citizens have been far from vigilant. We have been asleep at the wheel and have let the worst liars in the country take control from us, not just in our freedoms, but even more so with our economy. As many people here know, I was a trucker for a long time. We had a running joke: "A major requirement for a dispatcher is the ability to lie; if you lie extremely well, they make you a recruiter; if you lie too much to recruit, the only thing left for you is Congress".

Not to mention Congress is pretty much immune from the laws that govern the rest of us. I believe I heard that Bernie Madoff was finally sentenced for his extortion of personal funds to the tune of millions; but how many billions did Ted Kennedy extort from the American people, only to finally be given a heroes funeral when he finally died. And that's just one of hundreds who do the same thing.


The idea, as I remember it, was to provide a set of corporate-managed avenues in which SS contributions could (and would be required to) be invested.

At the time, there was no requirement to invest. One could simply choose if they wanted that 5% to be used in a more traditional investment scheme. Now, if you want to argue that there were hidden plans to make that 5% contribution mandatory, I am all ears. There is little that I would not put past Congress.

There was indeed also a list of which brokers would be able to be used to invest that 5%. A necessary requirement I suppose, to keep the Ken Lays and Bernie Madoffs from conning more people. But it would have no doubt favored those who were favored by Congressmen. My feeling at that point is that if I have a choice between earning 5% interest and losing everything, I will take that 5% interest. If someone else is getting rich off it, that is fine by me; I still get the better deal. It seems I am in the minority, though, as most people would gladly allow their contribution to be frittered away rather than see someone else profit. Around here, we call that "cutting off one's nose to spite one's face".


Had 'privatization' passed, you (and I) would have been forced to invest ...

Not under the original proposal. All participation was completely voluntary.


Given the state of things, the gov't run SS is in trouble. Also given the state of things, I see no reason at all to assume 'private' SS funds, in a restricted set of entities, would have been any better off at all.

Well, even with the current economy, that contribution would have been worth something. Social Security will be worth nothing when I finally get to (a rising) retirement age. But your point is well-taken, that any market involvement would have come with the same risks as a private investment portfolio.


The "going rate" is, in my opinion, execessively high.

So I suggest we concentrate less on how to make sure insurance companies keep their profits (which is the only real purpose behind those plans floating around Capitol Hill at present) and more on holding costs down. Insurers are indeed responsible for a large part of the costs, but there are also the problems with over-built hospitals (in my sleepy little town we have this huge, modern, state-of-the-art medical facility now where once stood a nice hospital. While it was hard to afford the old hospital's services, it is now impossible to afford that new facility's services), high malpractice rates due to both bad doctors and excessive profit from insurers, the massive cost of medical school initially, over-regulated restrictions on heath-care technology, and of course, individual abuse of the system.


I personally rant against exessive profit...

Define excessive. You will have one definition, while I will have another, and the next guy who reads this will have yet another. It's like saying "the rich do this or that"; define 'the rich'? In most people's estimation, the rich are those who have more than them, while the poor are those who have less than them. It's a relative term.

One year many moons ago, I managed to achieve the dream of all rednecks everywhere and open my very own fireworks stand.
Not being very proficient in business at the time, I did some calculations and realized to my amazement that I could sell fireworks for a 200% profit margin and still undercut everyone else! (Of course I did this and was very successful; but the following year the building I was renting for the stand had disappeared thanks to 'progress' and I could find nothing else cheap enough to use in the area.) By the end of my two-week enterprise, I had a profit margin ranging form 200% to 400% (3-5 times my cost at wholesale) and couldn't drive customers away.

Was that excessive profit? I think not. I had the lowest prices around. The business was short-lived rather than year-long and I had to pay my overhead out of that profit margin. Now, did I make good money? I think so, a little over $5000 for two weeks, and this was long enough ago that it would be about double that today. But someone right now is reading this thread and screaming "You're a crook!".

It's all a matter of perspective. So whose perspective do we follow?


Largely agreed. As it happens, where I work there are cost cutting measures in place at the moment, in trade for no layoffs, so I am in fact not being paid for all the time I work. But that's a side issue...

So you're that guy sitting next to me in this boat!


Same situation here.


The excessive profit being leeched from the economy has screwed it up big time.

Agreed, but how is this profit being leeched, and can anything reasonably be done to stop it? The purpose of any corporation is to make money, so if the CEOs are being overpaid (which I agree many are), how is it that the corporations who employ them are allowing this?

I don't have an answer for this. I'm all ears if anyone does.


It takes a statistically significant number of people acting, in either kind of voting, to make a difference. Too few give enough of a damn to look up from the latest game on their cell phone (usually while driving
- personal peeve) to make wise or even semi-educated decisions.

I was talking with my crew leader yesterday while driving the van, and the subject of mercury in the swine flu shots was raised. She didn't even know mercury was dangerous.


I have said for a long time that we are getting exactly what we deserve. Our population has become so pampered, so lazy, so apathetic that they don't care what is happening around them. That's the bottom-line reason politicians can get away with the evils they do. that's the real reason corporations can influence congress so readily. That's the most basic reason mega-corps like you describe can exist, and even thrive on the backs of those they abuse.

The problem, again, is how do we fix it? And again, I have no answer.


Oh, and I have the same pet peeve.
It's a car, not a phone booth!


Have you tried to buy tools lately? Very difficult to find tools made in the US, and the crap that is available is, uh... crap.

A couple of years ago I managed to buy the tool of my dreams (well, one of them, anyway). I bought a Smithy Midas 1220, a machine that is made in the good old USA (Ann Arbor MI)! I still am trying to figure out how to use it!


But yeah, I understand what you are saying. Too many tools have "made in China" on the handle. Of course, there is the reasoning that it is the higher costs of production here, in no small part due to the higher standard of living and associated wages, that are the cause.

--- continued on next post ---



posted on Sep, 17 2009 @ 11:50 AM
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--- continued from last post ---

I can personally remember minimum wage being about $3 an hour. It was recently raised to $7.25. As that minimum wage is raised, wages are cut in two ways. First, as has actually happened in my present job, hours are cut to try and save money. Secondly, the price of goods rises to reflect the higher labor costs, making that wage increase meaningless. I am all for a fair living for everyone, but individuals have to take responsibility for their actions. If you coast through your education and refuse to prepare yourself for a career, you will not make a lot in life. That's reality. If you work diligently to try and make yourself valuable, you will have a very good chance of having a better life. Socially, we seem to think that even those who care nothing about even giving an honest day's work in a grunt job deserve somehow to have all the advantages of those who spend a lifetime preparing themselves to succeed. That is simply not sustainable, and now we are seeing the result of this attitude.

Don't get me wrong; I am all for second chances and helping others to succeed as well. I am just a realist. You can't help someone who refuses to help themselves, and people do not deserve to succeed in life for simply being born. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." And I add, "You can't teach a man to fish if he keeps eating the bait." That is a very true saying, and a harsh reality we must keep in mind.


As I said at the beginning, gov't is by no means perfect. But given that many of the issues being discussed - health care, energy production and distribution, etc - are going to happen if we are to maintain an industrial culture, there seems to be a push to get gov't out of those areas. Which means that, since they are going to happen, they will be under corporate control

And as we see, corporate is at least as corrupt as gov't.

Can we agree that 'corporate can be as corrupt as government'? I would feel more comfortable with that.

The reason I say 'can be' is that not all corporations are large comglomerates. I have actually owned one privately-held C-Corp in my life, and I strove to treat my customers as honestly as I would want to be treated. Yet, legally, there was no difference between my firm and something like BoA (save you could buy BoA shares from Wall Street). I tend to believe that the problem tends to worsen as conglomerates get larger and more removed from their customer base. Ironically government as well tends to become less responsible at the higher levels. So perhaps it is not the government or the corporation that is inherently evil, but the size of the entity.

Great thread and great points.


TheRedneck



posted on Sep, 17 2009 @ 12:18 PM
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Originally posted by TheRedneck
--- continued from last post ---

Socially, we seem to think that even those who care nothing about even giving an honest day's work in a grunt job deserve somehow to have all the advantages of those who spend a lifetime preparing themselves to succeed. That is simply not sustainable, and now we are seeing the result of this attitude.




Hallelujah!!



posted on Sep, 17 2009 @ 06:23 PM
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reply to post by TheRedneck
 



Originally posted by TheRedneck
I see no problem with Boeing or Douglas making the fighter jets, as long as it is the military who flies them, the military that arms them, and the military that decides when to drop those arms.

Anything more is just not kosher.


Right there with ya.




Actually, that is one area where I do not see corporate involvement.


Well, I'm willing to be wrong on that point. I do have to acknowledge that I've not been able to track down any hard evidence of a link there.




In respect to the robbing of SS, I see the main culprit as ourselves, the individuals. It has become popular to sell votes for social services, and the massive amount of funds that it takes to buy all the needed votes has to come from somewhere. Raising taxes is always unpopular, and always costs votes.


What you said there is pure gold. We as a society have this penchant for wanting things, and not wanting to pay for them. We see it reflected in our personal lives (avg household credt card debt: $8300), and we see it in how gov't operates... people want stuff, but get in a big panic about taxes. Well, that's how gov't pays for stuff, be the 'stuff' a jet fighter, library or Welfare. And we are seeing now the effects of that sort of financial style.

Thanks for the corrections on the SS privatization... I was not aware of that any longer, if indeed I ever had it straight.


And I agree again with your point - it's our fault.

On the healthcare front, yeah, I was just talking to my wife the other day about how all the furor is over the wrong thing anyway... they should be going after the cost side. Seems to me that paying more each month for insurance we rarely use than we do for our house that we use all the time just doesn't make sense.




I personally rant against exessive profit...

Define excessive. You will have one definition, while I will have another, and the next guy who reads this will have yet another.
...

It's a relative term.


I see where I have been unclear here. I apologize for that, and thank you for the questions that pointed it out to me.

It is not the absolute amount of profit that concerns me so much. If a market produces boatloads of profit, hey, I'm all for that!


What concerns me more is the gap between pay scales. It used to be that the wage gap between execs and the average Dick or Jane was a factor of about 30 to 1. In 2007 it was 344 to 1. That dropped a bit to 318 to 1 in 2008, but according to some, it is widening again.

Source

So it is not the absolute amount, but the fact that wealth is concentrating in the hands of far too few. Henry Ford knew the trick of it... he paid his workers well, and they in turn became his customers.

It is my opinion that the concentration of wealth into the hands of a few is a culturally de-stabilizing force. I am skeptical that any one person's contribution is that much greater than others.

So I say "good on you!" for your $5000 in two weeks!
But if you had somebody working for you for 8~10 hours per day, and paid them $14.50 for that same two weeks, then I might look askance at that...



So you're that guy sitting next to me in this boat!


Same situation here.


Well, maybe if we don't freaking drown, we can have a cold one some day!



As for what to do about it... that is a TOUGH one. To me, it's a matter of behaving with Honor. I'm not a big fan of enacting laws limiting income, or even setting a cap on the wage gap between exec and average wages.

What I would favor is a longer term cultural approach. Somehow change the culture so that profit is not the first, last and only consideration. Change it so it is culturally shameful for an exec to make 344 times what the average worker makes.

Given that - a healthier, more honorable approach - the situation would self correct maybe, with no need for a bunch of bs laws.

I've got to shut down, there's a storm rolling in, and I don't want to lose any more equipment to lightening surges...

Thank you for your many insightful comments. I'll be back in the morning...




posted on Sep, 19 2009 @ 02:21 PM
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reply to post by Open_Minded Skeptic

Thanks for the corrections on the SS privatization... I was not aware of that any longer, if indeed I ever had it straight.

At the time it was pushed, there was so much disinformation and speculation going around, it was difficult to get any real facts. So don't feel too bad.



people want stuff, but get in a big panic about taxes. Well, that's how gov't pays for stuff, be the 'stuff' a jet fighter, library or Welfare. And we are seeing now the effects of that sort of financial style.

That is exactly the root problem. we can sit around and complain about how the government gets away with murder all we want, but the harsh reality is we are only upset because we can't do the same thing in our daily lives without consequences. If we want to truly be a free nation, we have to each decry the actions of wasteful government, not because we want to do it too, but because it's just plain wrong.


Seems to me that paying more each month for insurance we rarely use than we do for our house that we use all the time just doesn't make sense.

That is pure gold right there!

Insurance was never intended to be the only way to pay for health care. It was intended to be a sort of lottery in reverse: you lose a little to make sure you don't lose a lot. The constant cry of the masses to get more for less (or more apt, to get everything for nothing) has led us to a point where insurance acts like a key to open the door to medical care... and that's just plain wrong IMO.

So someone tell me again why we're 'fixing' the problem by making insurance coverage mandatory?


What concerns me more is the gap between pay scales. It used to be that the wage gap between execs and the average Dick or Jane was a factor of about 30 to 1. In 2007 it was 344 to 1. That dropped a bit to 318 to 1 in 2008, but according to some, it is widening again.

I see that situation as a result of scaling the system. As the economy grows, so will the differential in pay scales. Here is where government could actually help maintain a fair and balanced system for all, by making it harder to gain wealth if one is already wealthy and easier if one is poor. we started along that path with the graduated income tax, but somewhere along the line we have decided instead that the wealthier one is, the easier it should be to gain more.

Again, that's just plain wrong IMO.


But if you had somebody working for you for 8~10 hours per day, and paid them $14.50 for that same two weeks, then I might look askance at that...

At the time I was mainly working as an electrician. I had one employee that I paid, if memory serves, $8.00 an hour (which I considered pretty good as he was hired on with no knowledge or skills; later on he learned so fast that I even offered to let him run the company while I moved on to something else. Too bad he didn't.
). He was paid the same when he ran the store as when we were pulling cable. I hired him at a price, and regardless of what job he was performing, his time was therefore worth that price. I believe most retail clerks were paid on the order of $6.00 an hour back then.

To pay him less would have been just plain wrong IMO.


Well, maybe if we don't freaking drown, we can have a cold one some day!

Looking forward to that day!



What I would favor is a longer term cultural approach. Somehow change the culture so that profit is not the first, last and only consideration. Change it so it is culturally shameful for an exec to make 344 times what the average worker makes.

I agree. We can have public awareness campaigns for illegal drug use, smoking, overeating, and about everything else one can imagine, and they always work. They just take some time. So why not get a public awareness campaign out to make people feel guilty about losing track of where they came from?

Sorry it took so long to reply. I lost the thread when Firefox finally leaked enough memory to make me have to reboot.

TheRedneck



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