Thursday, February 7, 2013

Business, Government or Citizen Control

Grace Kelly created an interesting post on MPP regarding what businesses see as the top risks.  Being a good progressive, she then started to blame business for our woes and noted how powerless us citizens are to face these goliaths... Below is just one of our exchanges, see the link for others.

MPP Business Risks

"I always find it amusing when Progressives imply that big business is in charge. It is kind of like saying that politicians are totally at fault for our problems." G2A

"In other words, no political entity has the power to control Big Business or the increasing accumulation of money and power by the richest 1%. The fossil fuel industry will continue to dominate, collecting huge government subsidies and profits." Grace Kelly

"So where does the individual citizen or consumer fit into your perceived power struggle?

Companies and politicians can not succeed without the full support of these folks? If one wants more American jobs, start buying product from American companies... If folks think we are too reliant on oil, pay more and buy that electric car... If Walmart takes advantage of employees, stop shopping there... If the poor need more food, healthcare, etc., give more money and time to charity... 

It does seem easier to blame the politicians and businesses rather than take responsibility for our own personal/societal contribution to the challenges we face.

However to me it seems like an avoidance of personal responsibility." G2A

Since I am much more of a fan of citizens accepting responsibility, I liked the following article better.
CNN It's Your Fault

So what do you think?  Are we powerless pawns or the decision makers?  Should we keep pointing at others or should we accept responsibility?

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, we tend to be fairly powerless, because individuals find it very difficult to work together. And also because of certain asymmetries in our politics. Business can afford lobbyists, ordinary people cannot.

==Hiram

John said...

Ah... But who gives them the money to hire lobbyists of our own free will?

Anonymous said...

Just think: if politicians didn't have so many "goodies" to hand out, in the form of special tax breaks for some and stifling regulation for others, most of the lobbyists would be out of business! Take the power away from politicians and lobbyists and "the people" then have more power, yes?

J. Ewing

John said...

That is kind of my point.

We elect politicians based on our own "personal special interests".

We buy products and services based on our own "personal special interests".

And then many of us blame the companies and politicians for all kinds of bad things instead of looking in the mirror.... I find it very interesting.

John said...

Some oldies related to this topic.

G2A Magic of They
G2A Responsibility Hierarchy
G2A No Personal Property or Responsibility

Anonymous said...

What do we take responsibility for? I have read on this board that churches should take responsibility for the health care in the United States. I am still waiting for details on that. I am particularly interested in whether churches will be responsible for providing forms of health care that are contrary to their religious doctrines.

--Hiram

John said...

Again with the "THEY". (Ie churches) Thank you for confirming my point.

Anonymous said...

Churches should take responsibility for what they want to take responsibility for, and the rest of us should do likewise. Government, once it reaches a certain size, begins to TAKE from us the need to be responsible or even decide for ourselves what we will be responsible for. Corporations, on the other hand, must convince us to buy their products and services by voluntary exchange, and we usually have the option to buy somewhere else, do without, or open up our own competing business.

J. Ewing

John said...

Wiki Good Samaritan

I do agree with Hiram that often it seems that the good Church going folk don't seem to honor Jesus' wishes.

I assume the government would still be needed to take care of those unrepentent sinners that don't fit the view of the righteous.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the church folk would be more generous if a) government didn't take so much of their income off the top, and b) if government didn't assure us that IT would care for the poor in our names.

But having government pay for irresponsible behavior begets more of the same. The marvelous thing about private charity is that it expects things of the recipients, like making an effort on their own behalf and turning away from bad choices. Government turns that on its head, in that it promises you more if you make more bad choices.

J.

John said...

I agree that private charity is better than public entitlements, and I agree that people would give more if taxes were lowered.

However I don't think it would be enough... Especially if it is needed to pay healthcare. I think too many Americans have turned their backs on giving to help others. They are too concerned about getting that bigger house, buying nicer cars and going on that expensive vacation.

Though this graph seems to disagree regarding the trend. It does show how small the dollar value is, especially if a lot of the money is used to run all the churches and pay all the staff.(ie not social charity)
Atlantic Charity History

Anonymous said...

It took us a long time to construct the welfare state and usurp the care of the truly poor from the churches and other private charities. You will also notice that the number of poor continues growing while the welfare state continues? I think it WOULD be enough, but we would have to change society along the way and wean people off their dependence. OTOH, a work requirement in WI immediately cut rolls by 20%, and Republicans' welfare reform under Clinton cut rolls by almost 50% in the last 15 years.

About health care for the poor, we used to have all of these charity hospitals, and doctors would often charge based on ability to pay. Then the government stepped in and made it mandatory to treat people, and mandatory for the providers to get paid some little bit, but more than giving away their services charitably. Get rid of Medicare and Medicaid, offer a tax deduction for charitable health care, and soon you'll be back where you were. Not only that, you'll have a greater supply of better quality health care, lower overall demand and greatly lower costs.

J.

Laurie said...

John

You seem to have little critism of the results of out capitalist economic system.

I did a quick search and came up with this summary:

As of 2011, the average household income of the top 10 percent of households in the United States was $164,647. For the bottom 90 percent, it was $31,244. The top 1 percent averaged $3,238,386, and the top 0.1 percent $27,342,212. The wealthiest 1 percent of households in the United States possessed 32.7 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 50 percent held between 1 and 2 percent.

I don't think my consumer decisions will have much impact on these outcomes. I think govt has more power to make adjustments to this imperfect economic system through taxes and regulations, though I wouoldn't expect any large impact.

To me you seemed to have missed the main pt of the MPP post that that big business and the wealthy have much power and more attention should be paid to how they are pursuing their interests.

John said...

J,
I am still of the opinion that the Public "Social Services" system became popular and grew to be the current monster it is because the Private charity systems were not adequate.

Laurie,
I agree that the government, business and people all have a role in this. Now the rich have money and influence, I don't disagree. Yet when they go to the voting booth, they only have one vote like each of us.

As for the economic influence of citizens, imagine if American citizens decided that they would only buy cars that were designed, tested, marketed and built by American firms with mostly American employees, even if it cost somewhat more, they were very slightly less reliable or not so fashionable. How would that impact the need for trained employees in America that got paid more.

Instead we American citizens continue to optimize our choices to meet our personal wants. Not a bad thing, but it definitely has significant consequences. And to deny that we are the primary cause of our own issues seems hypocritical.

Besides there is the issue of whose money is it?
G2A Personal Property Rights

Should my family pay huge taxes because we for generations been conservative people who saved and invested our wealth instead of spending it?

All to fund those who spend their money or those who lack motivation. I would really have enjoyed spending more on vacations, eating out, cars, etc. yet it was not the responsible thing to do.

Laurie said...

John,

Is your family part of the elite group of the super rich?
Does anyone really deserve an an annual income of $30 million? I think half of that should be shared for the benefit of society and those much less fortunate.

You haven't perusaded me at all on the value of making a significant impact through my consumer spending, as the super rich are likely to always be among us.

John said...

So we (society) have rights to their personal property because they saved, invested and accumulated, and we believe they have been too successful at this. We are already charging them huge taxes dollar wise.

Let's say Americans buy 10,000,000 foreign cars per yraar at $20,000 per car. That means we have spent $200,000,000,000 per year supporting out sourcing of American jobs and reducing our tax base. Granted we will capture some of those dollars, but that's only cars...

So do you think most of our politicians are corrupt then, if money equals control?

Finallly, do you think Apple would keep assemblying exclusively in China if Americans refused to buy?

John said...

Just remembered. To make matters worse, the USA companies also lose a lot of their R&D funding so they start to fall further behind. Then fewer people buy the product. Bummer...

Anonymous said...

It's the age-old question of who decides? If that 0.1 percenter wants to give away half his millions of income, I applaud him. If he instead wants to blow it on expensive wine and hookers, well, that's his lookout and eventually he will get what he deserves. It's not up to me to say him nay.

My favorite examples are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Given the chance to give away $60 billion between them, did they give it to government to disburse among the poor? No. They created the Gates Foundation which does a lot of good, as directed by Messrs Gates and Buffet. That's as it should be. Suppose government had taken the $60 billion; do you imagine the poor would have been any better off than they are now? Compared to what the Gates Foundation has done?

Having government do charity is robbery on both ends of the transaction. The giver is robbed of the fruits of their labor and the gratitude due them, while the receiver is robbed of human dignity and an adequate living both, because so much is wasted in between.

J.

Laurie said...

I just love googling on the internets.

I searched the phrase "does Bill Gates deserve his fortune?" and up popped this:

The Bill Gates Fantasy

I don't agree completely with this writer as choices, including working hard do matter. I just don't see how one accepts that the super rich are 500 times smarter and harder working than someone like me.

John said...

I agree that luck is a key factor and that individuals should understand and appreciate their good fortune. And hopefully give some back to society. I just don't think I am up for using the govt to punish successful people excessively because they were successful.

Anonymous said...

Here's a crazy idea. First let's have a flat tax on disposable (i.e. above the poverty line) income. This makes the tax perfectly progressive in both dollars and percentage. (Get rid of all the FICA, estate, etc.) THEN the government can track people with high earnings for multiple, say 5 years, and just send them a letter suggesting the mental health benefits of being charitable. That's all. Almost every person who is greatly wealthy will figure this out for themselves at some point, and if we quit punishing them through taxation they will come to it quicker, but why not have some government suggestion that would deliver the blessings of charitable giving to givers and receivers alike, and sooner?

J. Ewing

John said...

Doesn't high tax rates have a similar effect? People choose to give to their preferred charities rather than pay the government.

This way they can get their names on a library or something also.

Carrots or sticks...

Anonymous said...

You're talking about a charitable deduction, but even at Obama's new tax rate, that means I have to contribute $10,000 to avoid $3960 in taxes. Wouldn't it be better to give the whole $10,000 freely?

J.

John said...

It would be better, however I think there are a lot of rich folk that won't see the personal benefit of giving freely.

Raise their marginal tax rate to 65% and they may quickly become more open to giving to charity, rather than being stuck up by Uncle Sam.

From my experience, people who have spent their lives saving and investing often have a hard time parting with their net worth, even when they retire. Increasing it has become a life long pursuit and their habits are pretty hard wired.

Anonymous said...

Remember the big difference-- those who earn their fortunes become more charitable more quickly, while those who didn't-- Hollywood types and trust fund kids (like Mark Dayton) become liberals who want to send Other People's Money to their chosen charities.

Look into who complains loudest when talk of curbing the charitable deduction for rich folks is discussed-- it's the charities, who recognize that most of their donation base comes from those with the big bucks.

J. Ewing