What is wrong with this world...

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by cosmictotem, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Do the companies lie about that? Do they claim that they do not charge an additional payment, then charge one anyway?
    Again, there are other options for television. Just putting up an antenna and getting it for 100% free, for example. You do not need to get cable to get TV, just as you do not need to go to fast food restaurants to get food.
    Should there be a law against car repair places charging for labor over and above parts cost? Is that a scam? After all, they are charging a fee for installing already expensive parts.
    Agreed. However, for people to be defrauded there needs to be fraud. You have not demonstrated any.
    Perhaps you would be happier living in a country that was a collective, then, rather than capitalist. And I fully support your right to do that if you so choose. I do not support your right to shove your ideology down other people's throats.
    Then you proceed from a false assumption.
    Nope. The difference between you and I is that I want people to guide their own destinies, making choices that are best for them - even if you think they should not make those choices. You want them to be subservient to you and your ideals. Throughout history there have been regular episodes of people who have tried to do that. Fortunately, so far they have all failed.
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  3. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

    Irrelevant. I've already explained why even if consumers know what they are getting into it is still a deception to charge for commercial sponsored entertainment.

    Good of you to admit commercially sponsored programming can still be delivered for free over the airwaves. Which begs the question, if commercially sponsored programming can be transmitted for free, why aren't all those other cable channels transmitted that way too? It seems running cable everywhere is an economically inefficient and unnecessary burden to place on the general public, which is already overburdened with recurring expenses. Not a very efficient way to run a society that evolved out of a mutually beneficial relationships. A society that can accomplish something with less a tax on the resources of all its members but yet chooses the more resource intensive option you can't really call a very intelligent living model or mutually beneficial, can you?

    Number one, a car repair place doesn't have sponsors paying them thousands of dollars to run their shop. Totally different ball game. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how expensive a television commercial spot is...and when you factor in what the cable companies are now getting from channels devoted entirely to 24 hour selling, like QVC, it is highly doubtful they even need paid subscribers to function with a substantial profit.

    As for any labor involved with providing cable to the consumer's house, at lot of that labor is unnecessary labor. We were transmitting free programming nationally in the '50's. And as with antenna and now satellite, you don't need a hard-wired connection that has to be constantly maintained over thousands of miles to deliver television programming. Before the advent of cable television channels were able to maintain their transmitters with the money they made purely from sponsors, i.e, there were no paid subscribers to programming.

    Here's the problem with your thinking. You object to government regulation of resource management, I don't. You point out when I'm advocating it but fail to recognized you are advocating the same thing with capitalism, just a different economic system. You object to others forcing their idea of sound resource management on you but have no problem with a government mandated capitalist resource management plan forced on everyone else. Your economic model is sound because you believe it and everyone else's is wrong because you don't believe it.

    Yes, it is a fraud to have or convince technologically un-savvy people to pay for essentially the same thing they were getting 20-30-40 years ago for free. You just keep evading and hiding behind some vague allusion to "freedom, yea,...blah, blah..." in order to avoid admitting what the cable companies are doing. Everyone on this forum knows the kind of practices the cable companies are engaged in...Only you, billvon, insist on protecting them. You are not protecting the consumer. You are not assuring that people can still eat a Big Mac. You are advocating allowing companies to continue to get away with harming consumers and unnecessarily draining the resources of the populace.

    You are contradicting yourself. In your own claim of denying forcefully guiding people, you are insisting on your idea of economic guidance for everybody. But no one can get around advocating a universally adopted and followed group resource management strategy. You just can't. No matter whose idea wins out, it will be forced upon the group and forced upon some people who might think it's a wrong strategy. So it might as well be a system beneficial to the broadest spectrum of the population and one based on resource management for a social species evolved for group survival, not a species evolved for solitary survival. But again, there's no doubt you will be forcing your idea on others, just as much as I would be. Large cooperating populations have to impose some universal standard of behavior on themselves. That's just how they function. So dictating the morality of the group is not something that goes against our nature. It evolved in us and enabled us to evolve and organize large and small societies. In fact, our pre-human ancestors wouldn't have evolved into social groups at all if standards of behavior weren't required and forcefully imposed on group and tribe members.

    Despite our disagreement, this has been a very enjoyable discussion for me. Bottom line is, I'm not out to take everything the rich have a leave people unable to support themselves. I just think there is a limit to how much we all really need (some slightly more, some slightly less but not the extreme divisions of wealth we see today) to be comfortable on this planet. It's true, I'd rather see everyone have a little less and use a little less for themselves so there is a more even distribution of resources amongst our united population and less damage done to the environment. I think we've forgotten that we are a social species for a reason. That is for cooperating over resources. That is because, and this will be my final appeal to you in this thread, the group that shared their resources, shared their successes had a survival advantage over the ones that didn't.

    Awesome discussion. I hold no ill-will to you. I'll give you the last word.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
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  5. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

    P.S. Sorry for all the typos. Hopefully, you'll still be able to decipher my sentences. The edit button expired.
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    There's nothing wrong with the world, it's the humans that are the problem.
    cosmictotem likes this.
  8. pluto2 Banned Valued Senior Member

    There are many things that are wrong with this world.

    But I think the real problem with this world is: big corporations shaping the world the way they want.

    I think that we have given too much power to big corporations and these corporations want us at each others throats because that is the only way they can preserve the status quo.

    I think its time we stop getting bent over the table and take back what is ours, we are the ones that keep the cogs turning.

    We don't need them but they need us, the public, we need to all unite as one almighty force and show the powers that rule that we are done being doormats that will not dare to stand up to them, we are the ones with the power and if we wanted we could shut the whole place down am I right?
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I definitely agree that we have given corporations the power we have.
    However I think you have the second part backwards. WE want THEM at each other's throats; we are always demanding lower prices, and voting with our dollars. That's why there is so much cheap Chinese crap being sold by places like Wal-Mart - because that's what we buy.
    A laudable goal, but try convincing people that they should abandon cellphones, laptop computers, cheap food, cars etc because corporations have too much power. You will not likely be successful.
    We need them as much as they need us. No matter how devoted people are to change, for example, they still can't do without food - so you need farms. And big ones, if you are going to support places like New York and Chicago and LA.
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Decades ago, Pogo summarized Billvon's post 126:
    "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    On (3):
    Yes, there is a strong moral argument for managing global resources, not just for more equitable life style for all the world's populations, but that would mean a great reduction in living standard of the populations in the more wealthy countries, which by no coincidence are the most powerful countries. It is human nature to be most concerned for the welfare of one's self and family. So this does not happen - only token aid is provided to those much less well off. That seems to be necessary, so TPTB can live with any feelings of guilt caused by excessive consumption while some literally starve to death.

    Also "intelligent resource management" even just for your own countries population (not the entire world's) is an ideal, that has not proven in practice to deliver as well as the "invisible hand of Adam Smith" in a quasi-free market has. For example, in old USSR, the managers of paper pulp resources made sure they were allocated to production of newspaper and the wide computer paper that printers used back then. The result was months of sever shortage of toilet paper.

    There is excessive arrogance in the believe that a tiny managerial group is wiser than the market place. I.e. The signals of rising prices as the supply of X is less than the demand for X. Conceptually with modern computers and massive cost of continuous sampling of consumption rates, the simple market place price signals could be replaced by computer modeling of demand; but there is no reason to think that modeling would be as accurate or as economical, as the price reflected demand.

    Also that computer modeling system is subject to abuse. For example its criteria could easily be "adjusted" to make the volume of toilet paper produced be that which made the profit of the toilet paper makers greatest. (Higher volume / lower prices makes lower net profit & lower volume / higher prices make lower net profit also, than the profit optimum volume.) This just to illustrated that any resource management authority must have some production criteria(s), that given human nature, not likely to be without biases benefiting some small group instead of the society as a whole. - "The devil is in the details" of the computer's programed criteria.

    On (2) Yes -fully true. The society must use one, not diverse, governing principles. Approximately "capitalism" seems to be the choice made. However I like the Chinese system (free market place / Adam Smith's hand) for deciding on the production of consumer goods, but central planning of large capital investments that take decades to achieve "first benefit." For example planning for the NS water transfer project began in mid 1950s and it is only now 6+ decades later, delivering water to extremely dry NE China. I call it the "half Nile" as it delivers slightly more than half the annual flow of the Nile more than 1000 miles. With less than half the cost Californian could have done the same - deliver water from water rich Washington state, but Congressmen only vote for projects than have first benefits in less than two decades. Thus CA will solve it water problems at much greater cost in both dollars and energy with de- salting sea water.

    No comment on (1), for now at least as I must leave now.
    cosmictotem likes this.
  12. kx000 Valued Senior Member


    Knowledge isn't as pleasurable as faith is. Science is more how than why so we would honor science with respect more than love.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  13. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Some Chinese stuff is just as good as any other country's. Knowing you are no racist/xenophobe I know by "Chinese crap" you were referring to their monopoly over all kinds of cheap junky commodities.

    Our last best hope is that coming generations will be always leery of that power and that the best and brightest among them will push back, to hold the line on their encroachment into our lives.

    I would add that the other Big Brothers are organized crime, and, to some degree, certain government agencies (such as those who have decided to expand domestic spying...) Note, I am NOT ever going to equate this with the often abused term "Big Government". Big Corporations, and Big Crime, require Big Regulations, and I am all in favor of that, regardless of the number of employees that need to be hired by those authorities who marshal such regulations!

    An interesting phenomenon that I noticed a year or two ago : a news item mentioning the colossal growth of dollar stores.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Yes, in the phrase "cheap Chinese crap" each word was intended to be separate; it's generally Chinese and cheap and crappy. Wal-Mart seems to specialize in such products.
    That's sort of the ultimate extension of the Wal-Mart phenomenon. That's the ultimate in big business; to be able to sell _anything_ for a dollar and make a profit you have to make millions and have that product just be one of hundreds of similar products you sell as a company.
  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    China's economic development is similar to Japan's economic development. Japan once specialized in cheap crap too. At one point, Japan had cheap labor too. But Japan is a free and open society, China isn't. And that is a problem for China.
  16. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Sometime when I was pretty young the fairly rugged toys & stuff kids get as gifts, changed to something less rugged. Steel for example was replaced by thinner steel or pewter, or whatever. This was before plastic was so widely used. And about that time, I became aware of the term "Made in Japan". It became a disparaging term, for something flimsy and likely to fall apart. I wouldn't have been aware of labor costs then but it was pretty obvious the materials (in general) were inferior, and by noting certain assembly methods (folded metal tabs instead of screws) it became obvious that the people who made the stuff were (in my mind) taking shortcuts. It was an era of unbridled xenophobia against Japan, and the term "Japs" was equally disparaging, even when I was too young to understand what the issues were.

    From my POV there are, and always have been, closed technical and business cultures (I guess we could say "proprietary") which have intrigued me. This system - the way any producer managed to win a WalMart gig escapes me. I mean, I understand the basic concept - lowest bid, highest volume, some other indicators for reliability of the supplier to survive for years into the future, whatever. But exactly how this is done, and what the suppliers go through to get there, intrigues me. No matter how many ways we complain about Big Business, there is a kind of mystique there, something that we even aspire to become (Successful, productive, rich?) which also paints these industries (in our minds, I guess) as some kind of elite perhaps equivalent to what as imagine was the adulation of royalty by serfs who simultaneously probably despised them. I think that competes with our disgruntled reactions to other things they do (leveraged buyouts, layoffs, monopolies, mortgage-backed securities, blood diamonds, exploitation of economies, slave labor, and so on .)

    Yes. The other side of this is the growth of the marginally affordable consumer products market, that is, the rise of the poor to a valid and developed market tailored to their search for the lowest prices (down to the penny sometimes). I noticed in one such store a pack of batteries for the very cheap price of 2 bucks. But in one of the dollar stores, the same item was, well, 1 buck. You see this online as well. The same item sells for several different prices, even sometimes from the same supplier. This, I think, signals the interest in squeezing a few more bucks out of that market which had been largely ignored - the impoverished consumer.
  17. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member


    Well it was more than cheap materials. But Japan changed. Ironically, Japan used American quality experts to become better than their American counterparts. I remember the day when made in Japan meant better quality. Back in the 80's Americans were learning about quality production from their Japanese counterparts.
  18. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    I had the good fortune to host a counterpart from Japan (my employer had an operation there) and it was fascinating to see him work. He had no tools to work with but pencils, paper and a calculator. He complained or asked for nothing, bragged about nothing, and spent his workday studying books and diagrams, taking notes, making drawings, and running out numbers on his calculator, and occasionally making technical inquiries with his American co-workers. Now this project involved an electronic device containing hundreds of components. At some point, perhaps a month or two later, I heard him asking questions which led to a rather animated conversation among several folks that sort of lifted the roof. As it turns out, he had found design defects in several of the chips in use. I think two of them were known in Japan (he deduced that the American device utilized them by lot number or something) but he also found a rather unusual defect in a brand new chip just recently in production. Sure enough, testing revealed he was correct and the design flaw was quickly corrected.

    Before he left for Japan, I invited him over for dinner. To my amazement he brought a box full of gifts, enough to fill the space under a Christmas tree. It turned out that, by his custom, the visitor would have been invited for dinner every night by each person on the staff, and he had calculated enough gifts to parcel out to each of us. To my embarrassment, I had to sit there for an hour or so and accept each one. But I will never forget him.

    Of course there is no point in generalizing to this stereotype. I just thought of this - the irony that "cheap crappy stuff" was the output of such a culture as his, which produced such enthusiasm and goodness. How and why this culture became the terrorists of WWII is another story. But the post WWII culture that learned to sell us cheap crappy stuff was certainly then on the rebound, I think.
  19. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

    I appreciate you making the effort to try to dispel me of what you believe are erroneous beliefs. But on point 2 I've moved on. I don't really believe there must be one governing system as much as no system should have the authority to impose its sole rule on everyone. Resources and land, in my somewhat new estimate (though not entirely new to me), should remain neutral until occupied by someone under some basic universal rules and land itself should be freely allocated but limited in its distribution to the individual. Once you are provided your land, you can choose the kind of system you want to practice upon it but you (or any system) shouldn't be able to prevent access to land to people who wish to follow other systems. I think we're in agreement on using a balance of systems until technology can rectify the battle between them. I just happen to think the technology for a large part of the transition is already there.

    In regards, to your toilet paper hypothesis as an example of abuse, you are forgetting a natural law resource based economy would be a moneyless system and there would be no profits to be made. With no profits to be made, the motive for corruption is vastly reduced if not eliminated.

    Of course, I am still in disagreement with you on point 3. I think I outlined for you previously in this or another thread a completely open access governing system that would be free and open to everyone willing to go through the prerequisite (and, again, free) education. Access to governing management would not require money or votes but simply a willingness to go through the preparatory education and wait your turn management queue. It would just be another job to do with no more benefits or access than any other job but the tools and access needed to perform it. Each government job would have a set limited term to keep the queue moving and prevent the long term control of any one individual.

    Since our previous clashes on this topic I have also made myself more familiar with the ideas advanced by the Zeitgeist Movement, which I believe greatly reinforces both the inadequacy of competitive capitalism and validity of a non-monetary system. I'd be interested in your assessment of their conclusions, should you wish to share. They certainly put the alleged wisdom of the market place into great question.
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes we have covered all this before. Sad to see you have "moved on" on the one point you had correct. Two radically different systems - say private owner ship of land vs. public (or no land owner ship at all) can not co-exist without total separation in all aspects. For example:

    If the government says Y owns parcel X that you (not Y) are now farming it because only you wanted to use it until it was recently learned to have high grade vanadium ore under it so the "V corp" bought it from the registered owner Y, to start mining vanadium, then you must move on to some land, if any exists, that no one is using. Having land for sale (or to buy at the "right" price) is how we make sure it is put to its most productive use. Note I said "productive" nothing about "profitable use."

    If there is no profit associated with making toilet paper, only the state will put up the capital to build the toilet paper factory. (Capital is saving - Please don't tell me you don't want people to save for their non- working years)* IE what you advocate, but seem to lack the courage to clearly state is: State ownership of the means of production and equal distribution of the produced goods and services. So if all are entitled to equal life style, who will pick up the trash, clean toilets, do dangerous but necessary jobs. They can simply collect their equal shares of production and services.

    In summary your "to all according to their needs and from all according to the skills" has never worked long except in very small religious groups. They can only be simple farmers or craft men - can not produce a tractor or car. Can not coexists with a private owner ship society for reasons stated above, yet will want the drugs that the "for profit society" only can produce. Hell they can not even produce the knife the wood caring crafts man uses.

    Your ideas are just that - unworkable in practice except for a stone age life style.

    * If you don't want capital production by people saving for their old age, then you want a society that runs on welfare. - I.e. forced taxes on those who are productive to pay income to those who are not, as well as communistic in the means of production.
    Mankind has "been there / done that" and did not like it. Risked death climbing over the fences needed to keep the citizens from escaping to a system where their rewards were proportional to their social contributions; not all the same.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

    And ironically now carries connotations of high quality when compared to Chinese manufacture.
    For a fascinating look at this process, google "Vlasic $2.97 pickles at Wal-Mart."
    Right. Unfortunately to support such prices, offshore labor is pretty much mandatory, reducing the employment opportunities for that same market.
  22. cosmictotem Registered Senior Member

    I think you have fallen into a reflexive pattern of trotting out old arguments to what you think is the traditional socialist or communist proposal. And so the differences and objections to the competitive free market are not really hitting you.

    There are already many jobs current automated technology can relieve us the onerous task of doing ourselves. With the right planning and design we can incorporate even more of this technology into our culture.

    That was a point the zeitgeist movement and I are in confluence on. There are many more.

    One of their objections to the current competitive free market, and one I agree with, as well, is the corporate tactic of planned obsolescence. That is because for the system to work, there must be constant consumption. So products are purposely designed to either breakdown or be obsolete much sooner than modern science could make them. How is such an approach a valid behavior within an economy, which is a word that means to economize? So this current competitive free market system that you are suggesting has more validity than any other system is dependent upon the wasting of resources. To me, the realization of that point, alone, spells the death knell for the competitive market system.

    But there is also the additional system failure of zero consideration for the environment from which the resources to run the system are taken. This system insists on no regulation of any kind in regards to the environment and resources it depends on for production and the endless consumption it demands for its continued existence. Indeed, without government regulation, the competitive free market doesn't seem to have any concern, or even awareness, for the environment it is dependent on at all. How is that a smart way to run an economy on a single planet with finite resources? It's laughable.

    Um, let's see, what else is critically wrong with the current system? Oh yea, the only way to continue consuming is for the participants in the free market to remain employed. This requirement of the market is in direct opposition to increased efficiency of technological automation. As more and more jobs become automated, less and less people will be working. But how can people continue to consume if they are not employed in jobs which give them money so they can keep consuming? So the only way to keep people working, and therefore consuming, is to resist automated technological innovation. But what kind of system resists automation?

    What kind of system resists longevity in design to prevent resource waste, awareness of finite resources and technological efficiency?
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    This is only attack on the current system and I largely agree with it - many things current US system does are damaging to the environment and waste resources all in the name of greater profits; but your post is not any reply to the points I made in post 137 about why your alternative would not even work, and never has.

    I agree, automation is now terminating jobs that are the only ones many are qualified by education to do.* They need to be re-trained for jobs that do exist - many skilled jobs are now lacking workers. Also more "job sharing" (two 20 hour / week employees, etc.) can help give more incomes adequate for living - but no vacations in Europe, etc.

    Instead of depletion tax allowance, there should be depletion taxes to make recycling more common. I have considerable technical skills. Our microwave oven is about 20 years old - has broken twice, but I repaired it. A simple burnt our resister one time. We need to end the "throw away economy" we have. Yes it is more economical to buy new than repair if not charged fully for the use of resources that belong to future generations. Keeping thing repaired would make many jobs, and required more education, still more jobs. Education should be a life long jobs for both students and teachers.

    I don't say "planned obsolescence" does not exist, but style changes I think are more important in many cases - like new clothes. Some of my pants have "cuffs" as my father bought them 50 or more years ago (I rarely use them.) In many cases, like replacing a film camera or computer more than 5 years old technical change is the driving factor, but the older versions could be given to less well off in the third world instead of the trash man.

    SUMMARY: instead of advocating total scraping of an economic system with an idealized one that has never worked, in part because of the many fundamental flaws I mentioned in post 137, lets try to modify the working one we have to improve it. Economic evolution, not revolution is the proper approach, IMHO. If you disagree, then you are obligated to show why the many flaws mentioned in post 137 are false.

    * the fundamental problem is local funding of pre-college schools. Poor neighborhoods don't have the resources to provide the education modern societies need. For example with school that are not even safe for female teachers, they get only teachers unqualified to teach in well off neighborhoods. The books in their library are gifts from good will etc. and visited by hungry rats more often than by serious students, broken windows go months in that condition. etc.

    TPTB like it this way - Their kids go to private schools and these poor school keep them well supplied with low cost chauffeurs, yard men, cooks and maids. Those other graduates (who do) are losing their jobs washing cars to automation, which is now even delivering food orders in a few restaurants!
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015

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