Those who accumulate capital inherently exploit those who don’t

Michael Moore's recent movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, is an important step toward popularizing the class war, but I was disappointed that his film stopped short of attacking one key problem of capitalism head on — the problem of accumulation. He never went so far as to illustrate how capitalism's inherent inequality of socioeconomic conditions always means an inequality of access to better socioeconomic conditions as well.

For this reason, I was left feeling that he has not criticized the capitalist system, but rather its more gross manifestations. And because of this, many viewers may leave the theater with disdain for Wall Street and casino capitalism. But I doubt the film makes any viewer question the morality of passive income, capital gains or bosses who profit from employee labor. These seemingly benign practices are rarely diagnosed as the cancer inherent to capitalist exploitation, but they affect many more people than Goldman Sachs or Citigroup. Moore implies our enemy lives in big corporate buildings in New York and Chicago, which they do, but they also live right here in Buncombe County.

— Thad Eckard

Candler

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66 thoughts on “Those who accumulate capital inherently exploit those who don’t

  1. b.c.w.

    Lots of everyday, middle-class people make honest, necessary income from smart investing choices and capital gains (not to mention savings and 401k plans). How does this make them ‘enemies’ to those who have chosen not to do this with their money? The original poster makes it seem that the only morally permissible way to live monetarily is to live paycheck to paycheck, avoiding ‘accumulation’ on any level.

  2. Carrie

    It seems to me that ‘accumulation’ is a socially and morally correct thing to do. When you want/need something you pay for it rather than spending on credit or defaulting on a loan you can’t afford. To say that doing so is somehow an evil way to live is just strange.

  3. Eli Cohen

    Timmy, bcw, and carrie. You clearly lack the wit to understand what Thad is talking about.

  4. travelah

    Poor Big E, I am hoping your retirement goals include more than just a pail of pea beans and a growler or two of fresh ale. Mrs Big E might not think of you too kindly in your passing her such a generous nest egg for her widow years.

  5. Bernard P

    Thad, where did you pick this up? I suggest you visit Cuba and live there for a while. Then when you are tired of the low standard of living and the lack of freedom, perhaps you will come back here with a new perspective. People have ideas about filling a niche in the market place. They often gamble their own money to get their business going. They work long hours. They provide jobs for people. They sometimes find the reward of a good income down the line. But they have earned it. And their products are bought and used by us, the consumers. If Cuba is too far right now, just “simply” your existence and walk your talk. Don’t buy or use anything made by a corporation. Of course, that includes cars, computers, televisions, just for a start. Try it for awhile. Perhaps you will change your mind, at least a little, and come to appreciate what we have in this country. Not perfect, but nothing ever is.

  6. Eli Cohen

    I’m not a critic of people who save for retirement,nor am I a critic of the capitalist system, but rather its more gross manifestations. For example, speculation in petrol futures, which drives up the price of gasoline and screws the rest of us. Or currency traders who, armed with capital and some computer software, leech a profit. In other words, regulate these crooks out of existence.

  7. “No, just an observation based on your response.”

    Oh, I get it now: You just “observed” that I’m stupid.

  8. Eli Cohen

    “Oh, I get it now: You just “observed” that I’m stupid.”

    No, I observed that you didn’t appear to get it, “it” being the writer’s point. If you do get it, please address it. No insult is intended or implied by me!

  9. Eli Cohen

    “Poor Big E, I am hoping your retirement goals include more than just a pail of pea beans and a growler or two of fresh ale. Mrs Big E might not think of you too kindly in your passing her such a generous nest egg for her widow years.”

    Mrs. Cohen is able to care for her own widow years having saved money for her entire career. She also wonders if the reference to beans and ale is one of your not so subtle digs at my girth? Let’s direct our discussion to the pitfalls of unregulated capitalism. (greed) I’m quite sure you have something to say.

  10. artart

    Apparently E’s accumulation of wit over the years surpasses all of the other posters here, so PLEASE, E give us lesser developed persons the benefit of your intellectual endowments. I am curious what I am missing….if anything.

  11. Rob Close

    perhaps its an issue of scope.

    savings is fine, within reason – but having hundreds of millions of dollars saved up, or getting that much as an annual bonus…well, it does hurt everyone else.

    there’s a lot of money sitting on the sidelines while others remain impoverished. this offends many people. it makes capitalism look bad, frankly. smarter taxes would be a good start, though i’m afraid that the smart tax might encourage more saving (i do like it otherwise).

  12. Matt Mercy

    Never fear, Thad. The international central bank oligarchs will make sure these middle-class “slave drivers” and “hoarders” have every last dime ripped from their hands and all assets given over to… well, the corporate oligarchy. But at least the starving poor and homeless are going to be in good company in the years ahead.

    This is what (fake) Communism is REALLY about. Oh, and approximately 100,000,000 “counter-revolutionary” Americans are going to “disappear” by the time it’s over.

    Enjoy, Thad. You’ve been conned into begging for slavery and death. Your corporatist masters posing as proletariats are more than willing to accommodate you.

  13. chops

    Sad, but true – an economy that harnesses the power of greed is much stronger than an economy based on justice and responsibility.

    Greed will live on; we will never be able to dismantle the smaller, local “seemingly benign practices” of capitalism (that every one of us is involved in), because we are all so friggin’ spoiled!

    But, like a pyramid-scheme, capitalism is destructive to the point of self-destruction. There will be the opportunity to rebuild someday, just not in our lifetime…

  14. Carrie

    Eli, just because I disagree doesn’t mean I don’t understand.

  15. “capitalism is destructive to the point of self-destruction”

    Capitalism is not destructive. Only government interference in the marketplace is destructive.

  16. Eli Cohen

    “Capitalism is not destructive. Only government interference in the marketplace is destructive.”

    Timmie, you’ve been reedin’ annie rand agen. What about monopolies, anti-trust violations, crony capitalism, madoff, enron, etc. I’m continually amazed by the limited vision of the ideologues like you. Annie rand’s sophomoric texts have long been discredited as the product of a deranged personality. Your views are simplistic and childlike.

  17. Eli Cohen

    “Enjoy, Thad. You’ve been conned into begging for slavery and death. Your corporatist masters posing as proletarians are more than willing to accommodate you.”

    Bravo Matt! Thanks for pointing out the obvious…that our representatives are corrupt, bought and paid for by big business. What else is new? I am guessing you and timmie are against regulating campaign contributions.

  18. Eli Cohen

    “give us lesser developed persons the benefit of your intellectual endowments”

    I’ll do my best artart…

  19. chops

    I challenge anyone to illustrate a model of capitalism that is not destructive, or even sustainable. I certainly cannot imagine one.

    In the most simplified model, there will invariably be the exploitation of resources. And in a world exceeding 6.7 billion in population, the assertion that there are sufficient resources is simply laughable.

  20. We do not have a free market in this country. Our current economic crisis is a failure of an un-free market.

    Hong Kong is not destructive or unsustainable; quite the contrary. Now it has been taken over by the Chinese government so they are no longer free.

  21. Eli Cohen

    “Hong Kong is not destructive or unsustainable”

    Says who? Timmy, take off your annie rand goggles and have a peep at reality.

  22. Piffy!

    [b]“Let’s direct our discussion to the pitfalls of unregulated capitalism.”

    There are none. [/b]

    the fantasy world you live in boggles the mind.

    When will azlan return from narnia to save us all?

  23. “What about monopolies, anti-trust violations, crony capitalism, madoff, enron, etc.”

    All creations of government intervention in the free market.

    What about ’em?

  24. Piffy!

    [b]Lots of everyday, middle-class people make honest, necessary income from smart investing choices and capital gains (not to mention savings and 401k plans). [/b]

    “honest’? in what sense? do you know what all those companies in your portfolio do, and how they do it?

    “necessary”. in what sense? in order to breathe? in order to pay for the house you cant really afford? or for the college degree your kid cant afford?

  25. Piffy!

    [b]Fascinating analysis. Do elaborate. [/b]

    Sure. How, specifically, was Hong Kong an example of unadultered capitalism?

    My basic premise was to compare your love of a theoretical potentiality as being attainable as realistic as a fan’s love of say, the lion the witch and the wardrobe.

    hence, i think you live in a fantasy world, but refuse to admit it.

    How, possibly, would you ever see your fantasy play out in this real world we all live in?

    how would a community keep a company from polluting their water, soil, air without regulation? How would true pricing be implimented in this free market of yours? you know, the true pricing that takes into account factors like environmental sustainability?

    There will never be the ‘true capitalism’ you speak of. it’s a fantasy, like lord of the rings, or the 5th sacred thing.

  26. artart

    Looking over this discussion, it is clear that some think all aspects of capitalism are bad and are blinded to the good. Too long to list, but job creation and innovation are among them. Those who always condem anyone who has more than themselves, will never be able to see any value to capitalism. Interesting that the anti-capitalists seem to be so bitter and jealous and envious and always want to take away from others. I have a theory that it is mere psychologocial problems that are deeply rooted and go back to their childhoods. It truly is possible that liberalism/progressivism is a mental disease masquarading as a politcal philosophy much like it is possible Islam is a truly a political system masqurading as a religion.

  27. > “Sure. How, specifically, was Hong Kong an example of unadultered “capitalism?

    Hong Kong is the premier example due to their successful separation of economy and state. Government interference would be the adulterating factor. They avoided that adulteration for decades and became the freest, most prosperous place on Earth. I hope to one day see a Western country with a free market.

    > “how would a community keep a company from polluting their water, soil, air without regulation?”

    Through enforcement of objective laws protecting individual rights. Regulation is the application of political controls over the economy. This is what America has: a regulated, interventionist economy. The government’s only proper role is the protection of individual rights, not interference in the economy. Pollution of water, soil and air are violations of those rights and it is the government’s proper role to enforce protections, without regulating sectors of the economy based on political calculation.

    > “How would true pricing be implimented in this free market of yours?”

    All pricing should be based on voluntary exchange of value for value on the free market.

    > “you know, the true pricing that takes into account factors like environmental sustainability?”

    People need the environment so they can flourish as human beings. We are constantly sustaining the environment, for that purpose. Pricing has nothing to do with it. A price is determined by traders in a free market and indicates scarcity of a good.

  28. b.c.w.

    pfff said…

    “necessary”. in what sense? in order to breathe? in order to pay for the house you cant really afford? or for the college degree your kid cant afford?
    ———————————

    ‘Necessary’ in the sense that unless you consciously choose to live paycheck to paycheck, not taking advantage of opportunities to invest and grow your money is silly. You make the assumption that all people who invest do so to live above their means and live like spoiled jerks. Lots of regular, working people make a decision to use the investing resources that are out there in order to advance and grow their income to make *necessary* purchases, such as a home within their means, and to help save for their kids’ college education. If you find that using these investing resources is ‘morally reprehensible’, you are free to believe that.

  29. evolved

    And as we all squabble over capitalism and communism, the 1/10 of 1% that run both, laugh as they count their money. And the longer we do that, the longer we’ll all be ripped off slaves to them.

  30. chops

    artart – The “good” forces in a helthy economy (innovation and job creation, etc.) do not require capitalism.

    Example: community-based economics. Look at the privately-owned coop as a (small-scale) model where these aspects thrive and are actually integral to the very survival of its commerce.

  31. chops

    oops – “healthy”

    Imagine a state-supported version of a coop, where workers are part owners (and decision-makers) and profit is reinvested or appropriated in the best interest of the community. Here, resources, workers rights, local interests, etc. will be respected and protected. Innovation, ideas, values, collaboration are shared and there would be a larger pool to pull from.

  32. artart

    yes, chops, I can imagine a state supported version of a coop……and I have yet to see anything that is state supported excel in prooducing what it is meant to produce or doing it with any degree of efficiency. I like imagining a concept I heard where the US is geographically split into two with those leaning toward more and more government going to one area and those who want less and less governement to the other area. What a utopia for the pro gov’t people. No work, free health care for all, free food, housing, all the left is always clamoring for. But without the less government people, who is going to pay for it? SO in the final analysis, it can be said that those who support more and more gov’t and gov’t programs are also supporting plundering more and more from those who are productive on their own. I Guess the redistributionist (a prettier word for theft) Pres has a lot of people that see things the way he does. Nah, cops, let’s let the state stick to what it does best which is…………?????? spending money they confiscate from people in very wasteful ways?

  33. Dionysis

    “It truly is possible that liberalism/progressivism is a mental disease masquarading as a politcal philosophy…”

    That is straight from the old Soviet Union and today’s Chinese communists.

    “Psychiatry’s utility as a device for suppressing political dissent has not been lost on totalitarian regimes. The best-known example occurred in the Soviet Union during the post-Stalin era (1,2). Khrushchev and his successors, no longer comfortable with the widespread use of overt repression, looked to confine dissidents in psychiatric facilities instead of labor camps. Psychiatric hospitalization, in addition to its “gentler” face, offered the advantage of discrediting the dissidents and their causes as “crazy” and thus unworthy of world support”

    “The latest allegations about the systematic misuse of psychiatry for political purposes come from China.”

    http://psychservices.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/52/10/1297

  34. jeff turner

    i believe you good folks have gotten off topic..i accumulate wealth/capital solely for the purpose of leaving a clean slate when im dead and gone,instead of my children scrambling for funding to bury me,i accumulate capital to buy things,,,,i dont live on credit,i spend on needed ,then wanted,,of all the people defaulting of late ,i feel that my not owing any debt was the correct approach ,in other words
    i live within my means,just like a bunch of other mountain people do..and all the while,doing so, without exploiting those who dont

  35. Piffy!

    [b]You make the assumption that all people who invest do so to live above their means and live like spoiled jerks. [/b]

    nice, bcw. actually, you completely missed my point, i suspect intentionally, since i was mainly taking aim at your comment about ‘honest investment’ and wondering how you define ‘honest’ investment in a market that promotes greed and environmental stupidity.

    but it’s telling how you completely avoided that part.

  36. Piffy!

    timpecked said: [b]People need the environment so they can flourish as human beings. We are constantly sustaining the environment, for that purpose. Pricing has nothing to do with it. A price is determined by traders in a free market and indicates scarcity of a good. [/b]

    And yet the ‘free-market’ that you describe would favor companies that made more profit by cutting corners when it comes to environmental regulation, just like in Hong Kong.

    so, again, how does this magical free market ensure companies dont pollute for profit?

  37. chops

    jeff turner:

    I’m sorry, but if you live in the U.S. then you are living above your means. You are taking from this world more than your share. We all are.

    In fact, If everyone in the world consumed like the average U.S. citizen, we would need at least four more planet Earths.?(Source: Purchasing Power, World Watch Paper 166)

    This means that our practices are unsustainable – and in order to maintain our lifestyle, we are leveraging our power so that we can gobble up a disproportionate amount of energy, water, and land.

    I see it as stealing, from future generations, and from others around the globe.

    timpeck:

    “Pricing has nothing to do with it.”

    There would have to be some sort of intervention to construct pricing that “takes into account factors like environmental sustainability”, because that impacts the cost that everyone pays.

    Check this out:

    http://www.storyofstuff.com

  38. Betty Cloer Wallace

    For the record, and for inquiring minds who have asked, I am not the b.c.w. who has been posting in this thread. I always use my real name.

  39. jeff turner

    my family is indian,,native from 13000 years back,maybe you are gobbling and consuming to much,,seems thats all you whitemen are really good for,you came here with your grand ideas an in an instant you murdered your way to skyscrapers and highways…,,do me a favor and swing by the house for some crow,and see how much im not …then when you leave take your silly notion with you,,,i live way below the poverty level,and my rented trailer is really just the gate to hell,,,so come on down off your all consuming perch and see another face of american poverty

  40. Piffy!

    [b]This letter is just naive Utopian bs. [/b]

    Not nearly as bad as the Libertarian mythology.

    jeff turner. I dont believe anything you said in your last post, above. feel free to pm with your address if you want to prove me wrong. i wont eat crow, but i’d love some squirrel. i’ll bring the moonshine, or apple cider.

  41. Piffy!

    [b]For the record, and for inquiring minds who have asked, I am not the b.c.w. who has been posting in this thread. I always use my real name. [/b]

    Betty, i’m glad you stated such for the record, but don’t worry. You couldn’t write that bad (or foolish) if you tried. Your writing is usual clear, intelligent, and you know how to spell simple words.

    unlike the bcw fellow from an unregistered account.

  42. More than 50 COMMENTS! This is absolutely amazing. I had no idea. We should do this more often!

  43. Some day I will acquire enough capital to take fifty or sixty of my close, personal friends (whom I will meet earlier in the day on the streets of Asheville) to the Blue Ridge Dining Room at GPI.

    Why, yes, I know how to dress “resort casual.” I am the very model of a modern major-general.

  44. JWTJr

    “This letter is just naive Utopian bs.

    Not nearly as bad as the Libertarian mythology.”

    According to this letter, everyone needs to be self employed. Hiring anyone is a sin. Saving money for the future is bad. Jeez

    This is hardly “Libertarian mythology.” Nice attempt at a jab. The letter is just naive and bitter.

  45. Piffy!

    [b]This is hardly “Libertarian mythology.” Nice attempt at a jab. The letter is just naive and bitter. [/b]

    I made no implication that the letter was Libertarian Mythology. Your reading comprehension is highly questionable.

  46. JWTJr

    “I made no implication that the letter was Libertarian Mythology. Your reading comprehension is highly questionable.”

    Piffy, I know you were just poking at Peck.

    However, your comment does bring into play your distaste of market economies and competition. It is totally relevant to the letter.

    I know how you want the US Gov’t (GovCo) to spoon feed you everything you need to survive and Libertarianism is the antithesis of your beloved Huge Gov’t model.

  47. Piffy!

    [b]However, your comment does bring into play your distaste of market economies and competition. It is totally relevant to the letter.

    I know how you want the US Gov’t (GovCo) to spoon feed you everything you need to survive and Libertarianism is the antithesis of your beloved Huge Gov’t model. [/b]

    And what do you base this on? Where have i lobbied for “Huge Government”? just becuse I think the Libertarians are foolishly naive does not mean i support their supposed opposite. To come to this conclusion, with no actual evidence other than assumptions is certainly reflective of a tiny mind. that’s not what you’re doing, is it?

  48. JWTJr

    I’m reminded of that classic Life Cereal commercial

    Don’t ask Piffy, he hates everything!

  49. Piffy!

    “Don’t ask Piffy, he hates everything! ”

    Umm, how does that prove your multiple false assertions in this thread? I dont hate or like you. I just notice when you make absurd claims you can’t support.

  50. JWTJr

    I wasn’t saying you hate me. You probably wouldn’t if you knew me. Its just that you say what you’re against way more than what you’re for.

  51. I honestly don’t understand all the hub-bub about this letter.

    You poor people attacking it are carrying the water of the ultra-rich, uber-elites and you do not even understand that you are playing against your best interests.

    What about all the people who, for the last thirty or forty years, have been told “Don’t trust Social Security, put more of your money into our 401K and our IRA and this fund and that fund” – all activities which essentially have helped prop up an unsustainable system of false capital and virtual money? These people are now struggling in their twilight years and perhaps even more than people ever struggled on Social Security alone.

    Meanwhile, while your parents and grandparents wonder about the sustainability of their meager lifestyles, the criminals in charge of multinational banks and corporations are continuing, on a daily basis, to take huge bonuses and paychecks. In effect, they are collectively defecating on the entire class of people whom they have used for three decades to prop up a corrupt, immoral and unsustainable economic system.

    And yet, they still have defenders in the lower classes who buy into the mythology of the American Dream; rugged individualism (when none of the elites could survive thirty minutes without the tether of their credit cards, valets and assistants) and anti-government interference in business (when the government has largely been complicit in helping the business class loot and plunder from the lower classes).

    If there is such a thing as the Class War, then some of you people are merely the cannon fodder for the Ruling Class and the Wealthy, destined to be chewed up, spit out and then paved over as another set of high-rise condos goes up to let the rich have yet another house to use to store their vast reserves of wealth that could be used to help other human beings.

  52. “to prop up a corrupt, immoral and unsustainable economic system”

    The corrupt, immoral and unsustainable economic system is Interventionism, not Capitalism; which we do not have. We do not have a free market economy.

    You are demonizing the very economic system that you champion. And rightly so.

  53. Look, as much as I completely respect you for being too modest to even admit that you are running for City Council in an admirable if somewhat doomed write in campaign, I have to go ahead and tell you something – just so you will know.

    You aren’t really saying anything intelligent or important here.

    No one with any shred of common intelligence will say that we have a “free market” economy. It takes people with a very special kind of intelligence to maintain that we should have one.

    But, you fail at every opportunity to follow your own bizarre logic to its own infallible conclusion: a minimal number of winners and a maximal number of losers. That is the only end result of an unfettered free market, isn’t it? Can you come up with even one semi-coherent argument that it is not? Don’t quote Van Mises or Rand – they bore me to tears and they don’t serve any useful purpose in the dialogue. You may attempt to synthesize their “ideas” into some cohesive form or response but I doubt you will. I don’t feel your heart is really into it.

    Maybe it is that your write in campaign for City Council isn’t going so well. Is that why you are selflessly backing another candidate? That’s honorable, if somewhat less than free market-y.

    On top of all that, why don’t you go ahead and explain yourself in the context of the real concern of my post? Namely that you are carrying the water of the moneyed elites who would no more care if you face first in the mud beneath their feet than if you were shining their shoes or wiping their bottoms.

    Tell me, what do you get out of actively assisting people in the continued criminal activity that robs people of the very power which you so fervently claim to want to give them? Would your system seek to first level the playing field so that all might finally have that chance to prove themselves on the economic battleground that is your Land of Make Believe, the Fabled “Truly Free Market”? Or would you throw yourself between the bankers and the rabble rousing masses clamoring to tear their edifices of power down, brick by brick and feed their bloated families to the poor?

    What is it, exactly, that you champion, Tim? Are you tearing down the opponents of your Free Market in the name of the Greater Good? Is that the Objectivist model? To allow the status quo to continue unabated by ridiculing all those who speak against it, but not for what you want?

    You want to be taken seriously? Start having some ideas.

    Until then, you can just rest easy knowing that those of better station in life appreciate your sacrifice on the front lines of the Class War.

  54. “a minimal number of winners and a maximal number of losers. That is the only end result of an unfettered free market, isn’t it?”

    No, that is not the result of economic freedom.

    The result of a truly free market is a prosperous, classless society.

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