Like every attempt to construct a scale model of the world, this one is bound to be partial in both senses of the word. To present the whole story, it would have to be as vast as history. There's no way to be unbiased, either: our positions and values inevitably influence what we include and what we leave out. What we offer here is simply one perspective from our side of the counter and our side of the barricades. If it lines up with yours, let's do something about it.
Work doesn't simply create wealth where there was only poverty before. On the contrary, so long as it enriches some at others' expense, work creates poverty, too, in direct proportion to profit.
Poverty is not an objective condition, but a relationship produced by unequal distribution of resources. There's no such thing as poverty in societies in which people share everything. There may be scarcity, but no one is subjected to the indignity of having to go without while others have more than they know what to do with. [...]
think about this more--it's interesting because it's almost the opposite of what PG thinks of as poverty vs inequality. this POV makes a lot of sense.
the real question is: can you have poverty without inequality? and can you have inequality without poverty? where poverty is defined as something "bad". my embyronic theory here is that if everyone is content with what they have, then even if someone has something extra (e.g., more land, or art, or whatever) then, as long as as no one else really feels they like they need, it's not really inequality. that it's a psychological state more than it is something that can be objectively defined. look into this more tho
You could say capitalism puts power in the worst hands, but that misses the point. It's not that the ones rewarded by the economy tend to be the worst people, but that--however selfish or generous they are--their positions are contingent on certain kinds of behavior. The moment an executive deprioritizes profit-making, he or his company is instantly replaced with a more ruthless contender. [...]
aligns nicely with my thoughts (echoed by a ton of books i've read recently) on the systemic forces of capitalism. something to think about: how much room is there for individual differences? because there is definitely some room. how do you analyse the effectiveness of individual action, when individual-collective is a spectrum not a binary?
[...] Relying on small businesses to solve the problems generated by capitalism is less realistic than attempting to bring about the end of capitalism itself.
This isn't to say that wealthy children are born looking out for number one. It takes at least as much social engineering to produce entitled managers as it does to produce subservient employees. Most of this occurs subtly. For example, the curriculum for honors students includes nothing about how to grow or prepare food, make or mend clothing, or repair engines; the implication is that if these students do well, there will always be poor people to do these things for them. Thus the education that prepares them to hold power simultaneously incapacitates them when it comes to meeting their basic needs outside the economy, making any alternative appear genuinely life-threatening.
[...] Working-class mothers often have to pay half their income for low-quality child care so they can attend to rich people's kids. Thanks to the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s, more middle class women can enter the job market and pay other women to clean their houses.
Capitalism produces wealth, but it produces far more poverty. There's no upper limit to how much wealth one individual can amass, but there is a lower limit to how much any one person can be pillaged--so it takes a tremendous number of poor people to produce a few billionaires.
think about this more, esp the objections that people like Paul Graham would raise & how to counter them
Some people chafe at welfare programs funded by tax dollars: why should someone else get a free ride off their hard work? They ought to ask the same question about politicians and bosses. In fact, every poor person who has ever worked for a wage has helped give the wealthy a free ride. Tax money that goes to welfare is one of the only examples of wealth flowing back down the pyramid to the class that does most of the work to create it. Welfare programs were won by decades of bitter struggle; wherever the powerful do not fear an impending uprising of the poor, they are dismantling them.
That's not to say that public assistance programs could ever be an effective solution to the ills of capitalism. [...] The only real cure for poverty is for the poor to seize resources back on their own terms.
This is not to say capitalist production never creates goods that would be desirable outside its logic. Our society produces a tremendous surplus beyond what we need to survive; much of this takes the form of useful tools, enjoyable luxuries, expanding knowledge of the cosmos. But these goods also function as status symbols establishing hierarchies and stratifying power--this explains designer clothing and summer houses that sit empty most of the year. They serve to make socially produced inequalities concrete.
[...] All this free content adds value to the internet itself, filling the pockets of technology magnates like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who sell the means of accessing it. So long as capitalists control the means of producing material goods, free distribution of information can actually exacerbate social divisions in their favor, eroding the middle class in the information and entertainment industries.