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Comment: Re:fees (Score 1, Insightful) 358

by Pfhorrest (#49154907) Attached to: Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

It is a big fucking deal because there are long running threads of economic thought which oppose capitalism yet support free markets, and to conflate the two (and equivalently to conflate socialism with a command economy) creates a false dichotomy between capitalist free markets and statist socialism, ignoring and erasing the possibilities of non-capitalist free markets and non-statist socialism.

Comment: Re:fees (Score 4, Interesting) 358

by Pfhorrest (#49152335) Attached to: Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling

Adam Smith wrote about free markets. Capitalism is something above and beyond a free market, first written about by Marx, who argued it was an inevitable consequence of free market and used that to criticize free markets.

When you conflate free markets with capitalism you're buying into a little bit of Marxist ideology.

Comment: Re:Service Sector (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49084009) Attached to: The Software Revolution

I'm not talking about SF and places like that. Those are even more ridiculous. I just mean the median housing price across the entire state, which is about twice that of the country in general. I live (and always have lived and want to continue living forever) in an area with median-priced housing for the state. I make about twice the national median income, which (my income) is not much less than twice the California median income, and I have no debts (besides rent), so you'd think median-priced California housing should be affordable to me, but as it is, it would be a stretch for me just to afford the national median housing prices, and the California median is about twice that still. And the majority of other people in the state are even worse off than I am, both in terms of income and in terms of other debts.

It still seems unfathomable to be that in most of the rest of the country mortgage payments could possibly be less than rents. Can you show me some examples?

Comment: Re:Service Sector (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49083957) Attached to: The Software Revolution

Toys are irrelevant when it comes to class and who controls the basic necessities. Take me to a future where everyone has personal Star Trek style replicators and holodecks but all of the land is controlled by a tiny handful of people so everyone else is still subservient to those people if they want to have a place to legally keep their replicators and holodecks and, you know...just exist somewhere at all...and I'll still call that a dystopia.

I'm not concerned about how much monopoly money the top 1% have compared to even the bottom 1%. I'm concerned that the vast majority of people are in one way or another forced into debt to that top 1% and can't even just sit and be poor all alone without being bothered if they want; they have to struggle constantly working for those with more than them just to justify their right to have a place to even starve to death in peace.

A poor African farmer who owns his own land with a hand-made shack on it and crops that he grows for his own food with his own tools passed down for generation is more middle-class than the waiter in New York who has a game console and a big screen TV but has absolutely no hope of ever escaping the perpetual insecurity of being thrown out into the street if he misses one month's rent.

Comment: Re:Service Sector (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49082071) Attached to: The Software Revolution

Here in California —pretty much anywhere in California I've looked — just the interest on a mortgage would exceed the cost of rent you'd otherwise be paying. I have spent the past ten years fighting an uphill battle desperately trying to get to a place where I can stop throwing money down a rent-hole and actually start buying something I can eventually stop paying for. If "most places in the US" really are like you describe, and it's actually cheaper to buy than to rent (and looking at median incomes and housing prices, I have doubts about that), then that's awesome and the way things should be, but California is the most populous state, so there's still a huge chunk of the population stuck in a situation where renting and homelessness are their only options; and since homelessness is effectively illegal and not a reasonable option anyway, that means renting pretty much is obligatory.

Comment: Re:Service Sector (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49081991) Attached to: The Software Revolution

From your earlier description I don't think I would describe you as "borrowing capital". You're laboring upon someone else's capital, but it's not like they've lent it to you and you owe it back, and you pay part of your income from your labor with it to service that debt. You're just selling your labor.

Even if using your employer's tools did count as "borrowing capital", you've also suggested that you have possible means of income that would not require "borrowing" like that, which in my book would still leave you middle-class because you're not borrowing out of necessity, you're just choosing to. It's like the difference between someone who rents because that's their only option besides homelessness, and someone who could totally buy a house at any time but rents because it's more convenient for them or something. I'd call the latter definitely (at least) middle class, but the former definitely not.

Comment: Re: Software is the wrong villian here. (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49081949) Attached to: The Software Revolution

Someone else who responded to me already pointed out that Jews were actually prohibited from lending at interestto each other. But lending to gentiles was allowed. Christians also follow the Old Testament, and there's the famous scene where Jesus flips his shit over the money-changers in the temple, so there's also basis for Christians prohibiting it, though why they'd still allow Jews to do it in Christian lands, I'm not sure.

Comment: Re:Service Sector (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49078557) Attached to: The Software Revolution

Capitalism is indeed a system where the only control on who buys what is the price.

That's not what capitalism is, and it's not what I said it was either. That is just a free market. Capitalism is something more than just a free market. It's not capitalism until it is possible to make money simply by having money (or other wealth), without working for it; basically, a system where property income is possible. That is not necessarily possible in every free market, though it's an open question as to how to prevent it without compromising the freedom of the market.

Comment: Re:Service Sector (Score 1) 307

by Pfhorrest (#49078541) Attached to: The Software Revolution

You are technically correct, which is the best kind of correct, but I think it's pretty clear that when people say "free of government regulations" they generally mean markets free of a specific kind of regulation, namely the kind obliging anyone to buy or sell anything to anyone at any specific price. But not one free of regulations against force and fraud.

In that same vein though, I think those same people generally assume that it is also not free of government enforcement of artificially created obligations, i.e. contracts, and that's a possible point of contention. A system with maximal (to use Hohfeldian terminology) liberties and immunities is consequently one with minimal claims and powers, and while plenty of free-market advocates bang a loud drum against claims more than minimal negative claims, they seems pretty gung-ho on allowing pretty extensive arbitrary power to contract, which does not automatically come part and parcel with a system that allows only the minimal claim to property and the minimal power to trade. It's an extra thing added on top of that minimal free market system.

I think it's that power to contract where all the problems with capitalism (and many other social problems) creeps in, and though I mostly make a big noise about certain specific kinds of contracts being problematic (those involving rent and interest), I've half a mind to throw contracts out entirely. The deontological half of my mind, arguing from first principles at least; that would obviously have fairly far-reaching consequences and unlike eliminating just rent and interest, I don't quite have thorough solutions to all the problematic consequences already in mind, so deontological arguments be damned, I'm not quite sure it's a good idea just yet.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.