I'm a Marxist. Are you? Why/Why not?

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This topic contains 72 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #38616

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Enco it is altruistic.

    And freedom to be altruistic is quite the phantasmagoria of political ideology that inures to the benefit of the upper echelon. Give more attention to the notion of freedom. In the current climate of the pandemic republicans want the freedom to decide whether to wear masks and take vaccines. Exercising their freedom has consequences just like it does in economic systems. You want to put on blinders and dismiss the uninsured and the poor? Everybody gets an equal shot? We are all born with same advantages? Same opportunities? Is there ever a point in which the disparity between the few and the many suggests things should change?

    You brought up Ford. Not only was he and his son Edsel nazi sympathizers but they and other American companies collaborated with Nazis. It is same old shit throughout history. If you allow too great concentration of power you find abuse of that power. Read about capitalism before labor unions and government regulations. Why do you think there was support for socialism even in USA? Me like Unseen’s idea or Prof Woolf’s.

    #38617

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Did you notice what’s missing? Labor costs

    Labor is a commodity. 99.5% of employees are almost instantly replaceable with zero repercussion. Vision, clever design ability and the ability to sway investors and customers are not commodities… they are rarities. How much is a cult of personality like Apple had (still has.. maybe) worth? Does the guy who places the FCC sticker on the back of a phone deserve to cash in on Steve Job’s vision, charisma and cult appeal? What does a guy or gal who snaps the LCD screen into a phone do to drive consumers crazy and wait in line 12 hours to overpay. Nothing.

    How does the Marxist deal with this fact?

    #38618

    Unseen
    Participant

    Did you notice what’s missing? Labor costs

    Labor is a commodity. 99.5% of employees are almost instantly replaceable with zero repercussion. Vision, clever design ability and the ability to sway investors and customers are not commodities… they are rarities. How much is a cult of personality like Apple had (still has.. maybe) worth? Does the guy who places the FCC sticker on the back of a phone deserve to cash in on Steve Job’s vision, charisma and cult appeal? What does a guy or gal who snaps the LCD screen into a phone do to drive consumers crazy and wait in line 12 hours to overpay. Nothing. How does the Marxist deal with this fact?

    You’re talking about price, basically. Marx, as I understand him, basically sees the operating costs of a business as a kind of pie chart. You don’t plug numbers into it other than percentages of allocation of labor resources going into the product’s production. The widget gets a price (a market value) once it is available to purchasers. I think Marx would say that once profits come in, they should be allocated, if things are to be fair, according to that pie chart. The person who puts a sticker on the widget so that it can legally be marketed has an important job, just like the mechanic whose job it is to properly tighten all the lug nuts on a wheel. Both kinds of laborers can be viewed as commodities, but some companies go through top management in hopes of finding a better (or luckier) one in much the same way they might get rid of an assembly line worker whose retirement eligibility date is a month away and replace him with a less productive trainee who will nevertheless cost the company less, all things considered.

    What does a COO or CEO do that deserves making 1000 times what the person who places a legally required sticker on a widget? Is that a fair distribution of the firm’s labor outlay? Suppose the top manager’s salary were reduced by 75% so that he only made 250 times the sticker guy’s salary but with the result that every worker could then make a wage making The American Dream available to them?

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    #38620

    Unseen
    Participant

    Summarizing the points in this video: Capitalism is unstable. It crashes every few years in a cyclic fashion. Capitalism produces toxic inequality. The 80 or 90 richest Capitalists have more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population (according to Oxfam). Finally, capitalism vs. democracy. Capitalism can’t resist tampering with the political process, either in legislatures or in elections, using their wealth to try to guarantee outcomes that, above all else, improve their profits.

    #38621

    Unseen
    Participant

    And if investors are “exploiters” according to Karl Marx’ Labor Theory of Value, then there are a whole lot of workers deeply vested in individual shares, mutual funds, IRAs, 401ks, Keough Funds, and other investment instruments who can, do, and will have something to say about that Theory…and none of it is nice!

    My Uncle and Aunt are just two examples of millions. They were just line workers at Freightliner Trucks for years who made the right investments, persisted investing through the ups and downs of the market, and managed to not only get good pensions, but they also own their own home and a second beach house.

    Just who is “exploiting” whom here? Neither my Uncle and Aunt nor the overwhelming bulk of U.S. workers invested in the market can be sold on Marxist Bourgeoisie vs. Proletariat “Class War” gibberish such as Karl Marx’ Labor Theory of Value.

    I wanted to come back to this briefly.

    I suppose one of the more devilish aspects of capitalism is that one can join in the exploitation and experience being an irrelevant part of it. While the management and their bosses, the major stockholders are exploiting you, you can take part in the exploitation as well, but only in a small and limited way.

    Your aunt and uncle, you say, made a number of right choices, in the stock market for example. But there are no “right” choices in the stock market, just lucky ones, UNLESS you have insider information, which it is illegal to use, so to use it would be a wrong choice.

    It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which conservatives place such low or even no value on luck. Jeff Bezos, to a conservative, is a brilliant business tactician. However, his whole business success is built on the luck of starting up in parallel with one of the greatest black swan events in history: the rise of the Internet. Had he started up Amazon 10 or 15 years earlier, there’d be a very good chance if I asked someone about Amazon or Jeff Bezos, the reply would be “Who or what are they?” and maybe a brilliantly-managed Sears would have assumed the place Amazon holds today.

    #38622

    Davis
    Moderator

    The luck/success video is stuff I have been saying for a few years now. Nicolas Taleb talked about it extensively in his book “Black Swan” over a decade ago (it should be required university reading in my opinion). Basically some talent and a lot of hard work is a must for a lot of success, but luck is an ENORMOUS ingredient in success and anyone who has gotten there has enjoyed massive doses of fortune (and many many different kinds of fortune). And yet the overwhelming majority of successful people act as though it was their genius and cunning that completely got them there. They look down at the unsuccessful as a mix of fuck-ups and lazy and idiots and pushovers and uncompetitive and you name it. In reality 100 set of people under similar starting conditions and do virtually the same thing, make all the right moves, be the same mixture of savvy and intelligent and on-the ball and one will enormously succeed, a few will succeed, some will get by, many will spectacularly fail and a few will dive and never recover. The prime ingredient for this was fortune. There were all smart and hard working. They all played the game properly and yet many were bound to fail by the very nature of this game. The winners act like gods and the losers (depending on the country) can enjoy social services to get back on their feet or go fuck themselves.

    Any society that takes the worst losers in that game and lets them rot away in the gutter, kicks them in the face for not winning a luck lottery and doesn’t take care of them is a cruel society. And this is a game of intelligent savvy people with capital and what is needed to success. Take most people who don’t have these qualities and many of them need services. And lets not get into those born with mental problems and disabilities that make any of this possible. Societies that don’t take care of them are cruel ones. This is very likely the kind of society that would be Enco’s paradise. Put everyone in an aggressive, cutthroat, competitive economic game and let the many losers fuck off and rot in the gutter with no help (except the completely insignificant pittance that the rich give to charity…most often strategically given to the right groups to make them look good and/or help their business and/or launder money). Sounds like a paradise for the select few and a nightmare hell for those who don’t win the genetic lottery or are unlucky in the competitive heartless market. I cannot understand how people can know this and still not support social services unless they have sociopathic tendencies.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Davis.
    #38625

    Unseen
    Participant

    @davis

    I know all about black swan events. For years I made a decent living doing girlie photography and as time went by, I got pretty good at it self-taught. Then, suddenly, cheap digital cameras came along. I’m talking $350-$600. They took 2 or 3 megapixel photos, but that size was large enough for the customers I worked for. I was working with a prosumer Nikon costing $1500 or more and I used pro lighting. Suddenly I had “weekend warrior”-type competitors who were shooting for fun rather than profit  and would take $1000 bucks to the $2000 per shoot i needed to run my business and pay my bills. My work was more professional-looking but the other guys’ work was good enough for an uncritical customer base.

    I was doomed and eventually had to take the bankruptcy and IRS settlement route.

    These new cheap digital cameras showed up rather suddenly and unexpectedly. Nobody was out there telling photographers like me to get ready for that development. Hence, a black swan.

    #38626

    Davis
    Moderator

    Yeah indeed I would call that a low-level black swan event. That is harsh unseen!

    #38633

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Your aunt and uncle, you say, made a number of right choices, in the stock market for example. But there are no “right” choices in the stock market, just lucky ones, UNLESS you have insider information, which it is illegal to use, so to use it would be a wrong choice.

    That is not true at all, and a very common mistake. I made zero choices except to invest and have eclipsed my 2nd million in net worth. I simply bought a fund that indexes the performance of the total market. It is all tax deferred until I pull it for retirement and fall into a lower bracket. There is no reason why any healthy working American could not become a millionaire except for the lack of financial education.

     

     

     

    #38634

    Unseen
    Participant

    Point taken, though I was talking about picking individual stocks not stock funds or index funds.

    Stock fund managers buy into tens or hundreds of stocks, many of which will prove to be losers, but if they are pretty good at researching stocks, they will pick more winners than losers.

    I am invested in two stocks, one a Chinese metal products company, ZK International Group, with a subsidiary, XSigma which is focusing on blockchain technology and is working toward taking on a significant presence in the online gaming sector. I won’t explain it further because plenty of info is easily googleable.

    The other, MindMed, is a company applying the power of psychedelics (cannabis, “magic mushrooms,” etc.) to drug addiction, clinical anxiety, ADHD, and other mind problems. Harnessing the relevant components of these plants and applying them where they’ll do the most good could be the next big medical revolution. That’s my bet. Once again, Google is your friend.

    Both stocks would seem to have good long-term prospects, but at 74 I may not live long enough to see them bear the kind of fruit it’s possible they’ll bear. It’ll be up to my executors to decide whether to keep them or cash out, possibly at a loss.

    Why don’t I invest more safely in a fund? I’m 74 and I’m willing to take risks to grow my wealth. Even a good fund grows relatively slowly by comparison with a good/lucky stock pick.

    Both stocks have actually gone down in value in the short-term, however. I may not live long enough to see them bloom, if indeed they ever will, because some other company could end up doing what they are doing better than they are. And then, there’s the possibility of a medical black swan.

    I am also invested in Bitcoin, and anyone who follows crypto knows that Bitcoin went into a doldrums two or three months ago which was, as luck would have it, just after I bought a couple thousand dollars worth. NOBODY I’m aware of is predicting that Bitcoin won’t in the short run (1-3 years) double or triple in value, or over a decade or longer go to twenty, fifty, or even a hundred times its current value. This is because unlike most cryptos, there never will be more than a certain number of them (21 million Bitcoins as a matter of fact). They can’t “print more money” causing an inflation so, in a sense, barring governments fucking things up, the sky is the limit. But there is that risk that the tax collectors will get paranoid and demand we sell off our Bitcoin (at a loss of course) or face prison. The government has done this in the past with gold, which people wrongly assume is a 100% safe investment.

    How the US government seized all citizens’ gold in 1930s

    However, with major businesses starting to accept Bitcoin as payment, and with major banks and investment companies investing in Bitcoin, doing much more than regulating it seems unlikely.

    Now, let’s get back to Marx.

    #38636

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    The whole problem with the American healthcare system pretty much boils down to middlemen and the profit motive.

    I’d add that Americans are not concerned enough about the burden on small and large businesses to foot the bill for health coverage. It’s a very strange kludge to pay for a nation’s universal public health. Even pure capitalists should see this as bad for profit centers.

    #38637

    Unseen
    Participant

    The whole problem with the American healthcare system pretty much boils down to middlemen and the profit motive.

    I’d add that Americans are not concerned enough about the burden on small and large businesses to foot the bill for health coverage. It’s a very strange kludge to pay for a nation’s universal public health. Even pure capitalists should see this as bad for profit centers.

    Probably the main upside would be as a recruitment tool. After I retired from photography, I worked for three years for Goodwill to earn mad money and opted into their healthcare benefit which was with Kaiser-Permanente. Whatever one thinks of K-P elsewhere, in Oregon, when you shop for Medicare Advantage Plans, KP is the lone 5-star rated plan. Even the AARP-sponsored plan only gets 4.5 stars.

    When I had a heart attack, all of the services I got, including two days and nights in a single room, all I paid was about $30. That included several tests (ECG, MRI, and others), a stent, four catheterizations (something they did effed up my urinary tract), and an ambulance ride. Just $30.

    I no longer work for them but I am now on the KP Medicare Advantage plan. Even so, the same event would likely cost me many hundreds of dollars, perhaps over $1000, which is still much less than someone ineligible for Medicare and no insurance would be charged.

    I wish I could work for Goodwill again, but the sort of job I’d need (30/week and off my feet) just hasn’t been available there. Should one crop up, I’ll apply for it.

    #38639

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Unseen, (Whoops, sorry, Robert. I didn’t know where this was coming.)

    Unseen wrote:

    Your aunt and uncle, you say, made a number of right choices, in the stock market for example. But there are no “right” choices in the stock market, just lucky ones, UNLESS you have insider information, which it is illegal to use, so to use it would be a wrong choice.

    Robert replied:

    That is not true at all, and a very common mistake. I made zero choices except to invest and have eclipsed my 2nd million in net worth. I simply bought a fund that indexes the performance of the total market. It is all tax deferred until I pull it for retirement and fall into a lower bracket. There is no reason why any healthy working American could not become a millionaire except for the lack of financial education.

    Unseen, how do you know that Robert’s strategy is not the one my Uncle and Aunt used?

    While no one is necessarily making any presumptions, as I had previously thought (Sorry,) there is some mistaken thinking here, Unseen.

    An index fund, combined with Dollar-Cost-Averaging, is not a matter of luck.  It’s automatically investing less when the shares are higher in price, and more when shares are lower.  This automatically assures that you come out better off than just sitting on or spending your funds.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Getting it right on who's quoting what
    #38641

    Davis
    Moderator

    I’ve actually been extremely impressed with the Scottish socialised health care. When I lived in London 20 years ago the NHS in London was I would say A- at the time (definitely nothing to really complain about though you did have to wait a couple weeks to see a doctor for a non-emergency).

    Here I’ve had rapid stellar treatment, my medicine is completely free (unlike the £10 prescription fee you pay in England) which is good cause I take 9 different medications AND it also includes completely free physiotherapy, dental, eye exams (with free glasses if you are low income) and I have even used a cognitive behavioural pain therapist service for my chronic back pain which has been spectacular. They have truly taken good care of my kidney problem and offered a nutritionist if I needed it (which I already had in Spain). I would say the service has been an A compared with Spain’s A- and Canada and Belgium’s A+ but having to pay for services.

    Unseen, I cannot imagine how stressful it must be to worry about getting a job just so you can have better health coverage. I am though really impressed that your premiums were only $30 after so many complex procedures. That’s what you would have to contribute in many socialised health services in some European countries so that is a whole lot better than I thought it may have been.

    As for goodwill…I have been blown away by how many charity shops there are in Scotland. There are 10 on my street alone, from junk quality to super high end brands with fancy shop interiors. I have bought literally everything I have in my flat in charity shops and love how well they select good functioning stuff. I went to a charity shop last week and asked them if they knew where I could buy a cheap extension chord and they said “I have 20 of them in the back”. She showed them to me, I said how much is this one…she said…uhhhhhhhh…I don’t know…let’s say…1 pound? I said…can I take three? She said…”yeah okay 3 for 2 pounds”. LOL. The addage that Scottish people are cheap is a stereotype with a bit of truth in it.

    How was it working for goodwill?

    #38642

    Davis
    Moderator

    Unseen and Robert are both correct. You can certainly make more informed choices in the market which will give you a higher chance of success. Having said that…it is still massively luck dependent and people seriously underestimate the risks involved. Nicolas Taleb does a great analysis of this in his book Black Swan where he shows that, yes, the good traders do need to have a certain level of knowledge and make some informed decisions, but once you clear that hurdle…the number of traders who make it seem extremely luck dependant and those who fizzle out and find another job seem mostly bad luck dependent. That is, traders all doing the same thing, following the same “play book” and some succeeding and others failing. Those who play dirty though may have more success (that last part wasn’t said by him, though many others have openly admitted to this).

    But he stresses that people underestimate the likelihood of crashes and unexpected terrible events and super experienced highly confident traders lose their houses. His recommendation:

    Invest 80-90% of your funds in the highest yield completely safe bonds. Invest the rest in well thought out venture and wait until you hit a positive black swan (a google, uber or tesla). It is certainly what I would do if I had funds to invest.

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