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Journal Bill Dog's Journal: the morality of the profit motive 32

I wrote in a post here today:

When in actuality what it really boils down to is whether one thinks that the death panel effect would be worse under the cost-cutting and profit motive of private healthcare, or the cost-cutting and social engineering motive of public healthcare.

I'm not about to say that capitalism is moral. I'm just saying it's more moral (or less immoral, for those who want it worded that way instead) than the alternative. I know that sounds lame in the sense that ideally we'd have something that's moral, but I'm just coming at this pragmatically here.

I have to assume that part of my preference for the system of unfairness that is the free market must be due to it being the only thing I've ever known. But I think most of it is that it is almost strictly predictable in the outcomes it leads to, and that I accept those outcomes. Sort of "better the devil you know...", but not exactly.

My philosophy on wealth as far as I can remember is that you're working to attain whatever levels you might be able to in life, for greater comfort in life and access to greater luxuries. You figure out how much you want to work and how well you want to live and figure out the balance that's right for you, factoring in the kind of brains, drive, and luck that you know yourself to have.

And then be happy where you are, when you reach that. I don't begrudge the richer man for having a better car than mine, because his fate in life is not mine. I feel sorry for the poorer man, but he probably makes worse decisions in life than I do. Or at least worse from my POV.

So I guess I'm okay with the inequalities inherent in life (like brains and luck) and that are a function of what each individual chooses for himself (like drive).

And consequently what I'm not okay with is forced, collective, man-made alterations to this. For example I'm okay with a rich man offering some kid a scholarship to college and possibly thereby altering his chances of attaining a higher wealth level in life than he normally would. But I'm not okay with for example Affirmative Action.

Firstly in the alternative, it can be more chaotic, being based on man's whim, for whichever kind of men are in power in that era. Today's members of a govt. death panel may decide to favor the young, but tomorrow's may favor the old. Whereas under the profit motive, directors can come and go but the goal stays the same. Profit is a uniting goal and one that's orthogonal to differences in politics/religion.

Secondly, but BD you may say, for now and the foreseeable future a federal govt. run anything will be entirely predictable; predictably Leftist. True in a way, and that's why it's not "...the devil that I don't know". But I also don't like many of the outcomes targeted, not to mention outcomes that I might like but never get achieved.

Capitalism has been very successful in raising standards of living. Leftism, not so much. (Granted, maybe it's in part a function of how corrupted that ism has been.)

In short, unproven political preferences has a large tinge of arbitrariness to me. And part of what's fair and right is that which you can count on.

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the morality of the profit motive

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  • I still have issues with affirmative action -- like not believing it works very well -- but after reading the article in The Atlantic, there are a lot of things I am rethinking.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/ [theatlantic.com]

    • Those who enjoy the privileges of being in the majority will not ever understand. It is simply beyond their comprehension, and will simply deny its existence.

    • As that's the poster child for "TL;DR", maybe you wouldn't mind giving your synopsis.

      • by chill ( 34294 )

        Unfortunately, no. Not and do any justice to the article. This is just one of those things that needs to be read in its entirety to be absorbed and properly understood. It is worth the read.

        • A synopsis would make no difference anyway. His mind is set in stone... I'm afraid BD has become the poster child of *Nah nah, I can't hear you.*

          "Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
          And disregards the rest...

  • Capitalism is okay and can work well only when the full opportunity to exploit it is open to everybody equally. All systems are capitalist, even the "worst" form of communism. Deals have to be made before things can get done. Somebody has to manufacture and operate the weaponry, and those people will want some form of compensation. So save your breath. Nobody can get rich without government to protect their interests and provide them special privileges of "ownership" of natural resources. Planting your flag

  • And here's where my left side of my brain kicks back in.

    Socialist or capitalist, there are some areas of the economy where it simply doesn't profit the human race to make decisions based on materialism. Heath care is one of the five basic needs of human beings that should NOT be based on either socialism or capitalism, but rather on private, as highly localized as possible, charity and cooperation.

    Those five areas are air, water, food, shelter, and health care.

    I would highly prefer at the very least a "flo

    • [...], there are some areas of the economy where it simply doesn't profit the human race to make decisions based on materialism.

      The thing is, materialism, along with choice, provides incentive for satisfying the customer. Government is a monopoly, and "buying" its services is compulsory, and that's why it's far, far more dangerous, both in theory and in practice, than business will ever be. So at a minimum you'd have to inject artificial incentives into local governments to get them to perform, and serve their clientele well.

      At a minimum I would think that would include making it no harder to fire someone than in the private secto

      • "The thing is, materialism, along with choice, provides incentive for satisfying the customer. "

        Our incentive should be the second greatest commandment in these areas.

        "So at a minimum you'd have to inject artificial incentives into local governments to get them to perform, and serve their clientele well."

        Yep. Love your neighbor as yourself is an artificial incentive I'd inject into local governments. It is an incentive that does not scale however, so it doesn't work with large populations, and these tasks

        • a few blocks down the street into the next government over

          I love it. Instead of a lot of government, we need a lot of governments. And the most power locally, diminishing as it goes further out to the county and then state and then federal level. The reverse of what we have now.

          At the same time, split up public corporations into a bunch of little ones as well, so that these smaller governments aren't dwarfed by them. Everything of an accountable size best serves the people.

          Because it's not so much about government being evil or business being evil, but that an

          • The term you are searching for is "subsidiarity". It is ideally how the Roman Catholic Church is really organized- and all the worst abuses in religion have happened when religious leaders have forgotten that "The last shall be first, and the first, last".

            Yes, exactly- any function that can be done to a smaller unit- all the way down to the family- should be done by that unit, and by nothing higher, by no larger organization.

            One might even say that the clergy abuse scandals were caused by the Bishops forg

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard