I am only posting this because it is a reply to a post at the anonymous blog "Copper Commando". They are new, and because they are new, I don't know how tightly they will moderate comments before posting. If they post my comment, hurrah, and I will delete this post here and leave the conversation over there. If they do not, I will likely flesh this post out with more commentary. Here is my reply to their thought experiment:
This is nice … as far as self-supporting thought experiments go. However, you might need to revisit your assumptions sometime.
1) Greed is not a disease, nor is anyone “purely greedy”, save those with sociopathic character disorders, and they seem to have an alarming penchant to become CEOs and Politicians. Notice please that both positions ‘inoculate’ those individuals from accountability from the ‘capitalist’ cure.
2) The view of capitalism as a series of voluntary transactions is rather naive, at best. A transaction can only be voluntary to the degree that both parties are un-coerced in it’s engagement. At least the transaction has to be honest. Rarely are they anymore. I shouldn’t have to explain further, but if you’d like to do your own research libraries are filled with books explaining exactly what I’m talking about. You could do worse than start with Marx’s ‘Das Capital’, just ignore the communist psuedo-predictions and the anti-semitism.
3) Your example shows a strong tendency to confuse economic systems with governmental systems, such that government exists to defend the sanctity of economy. You suggest that John, with his gun, could make a deal with the government to aid him in stealing everybody else’s stuff. The only place in the modern world where that’s true is the US. (How else would you interpret “Too big to fail?)
To piggyback off of Greg’s concerns, to steal money in the US one doesn’t need a gun. All one needs is the protection from consequence of action, a *limited liability* for lies, coercion and theft. All one needs is an LLC. Margaret Thatcher once famously said “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”. That’s a very toothsome sound bite, and not founded on any good economic principle at all. What it’s founded on is a fearful view of human nature, that if people don’t have to produce and create, they won’t. So, all the generation of wealth (capital) will lay in the hands of the few good people who defy that human nature, the capitalists, the job creators, the John Galts. The fact that those latter people even exist, as well as your thought experiment here, shows the rather privileged lie behind that thinking. In America, we’ve taken that lie to extreme levels, where we see fit to force people to support capital growth for the ‘job creators’ if they want to even survive, lazy bastards that people are. Hardly the view of the land of opportunity you were shooting for, isn’t it?
I would contend, given the ‘Murkin attitude, that the trouble with capitalism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to steal. Corporations move their ‘headquarters’ to empty offices in Switzerland so that they avoid paying taxes used for covering the health care of the very people they pay so little that those folk can’t even afford the corporations product. Hedgefunders ‘invest’ in companies to the point of ownership, break them up and sell the assets at huge profit to the opportunistic overseas, and completely violate the “fair” deal they had with American workers to “trade” labor for fair pay. For decades, we have sent American military might to defend ‘free market’ capitalist profit, at the expense of those of us who had no say whatsoever in that ‘transaction’. To protect ‘capitalism’ our government continues to escalate the $1.6 trillion (and growing) boondoggle that is the F-35 fighter jet, with support only from those companies profiting and increasingly small numbers of folk in the Pentagon who are looking to ‘fair trade’ themselves into a wealthy retirement as ‘consultants’. That is exactly the coercion through violence you claim capitalism will protect us from and yet it can’t even remotely. You can try, but you will not convince me that that form of governmental supported capitalism is anything but theft.
Don’t get me wrong, and kindly avoid the almost inevitable Ad Hominems. I like capitalism as long as two conditions are met. 1) Government does it’s job which is to protect and defend the well being of the people, the society. Ours is not, and even ‘rational’ Republicans aren’t moving in anything like the right direction. 2) The unfettered greed of Johncorp LLC and his little gun are countered by strict government control and taxation such that certain social (socialist) conditions are met. Infrastructure, defense, communication, civil/labor rights and health care should all be considered the first priority of an elected group of bodies.
Before you hit me with the tl;dr, please consider that this is the very brief version of what’s problematic with your post.