Jump to content

Menu

poverty and protective services


mtomom
 Share

Recommended Posts

I didn't realize the JW's were so against higher education. This is beginning to make more sense now.

 

https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/higher-education-university.php

 

and an interesting listen for those of us not as familiar with JW beliefs on this subject:

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/19/510585965/poor-education-leads-to-lost-dreams-and-low-income-for-many-jehovahs-witnesses

Our official site will give most accurate information for anyone who is interested. https://www.jw.org/en/

 

I would not say it is accurate that we are against higher education. My mom has a degree. I know many people who have degrees. We just believe it should not be the focus of our life.

Edited by Scarlett
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sooooo. If a hurricane is coming through and suddenly gas is $20 a gallon - well we may not like the increase and may not be able to buy the product, but oh well?

 

And there are laws in  place to protect us against that.

 

However, Disney prices have almost doubled in the last 10 years.  I have the CHOICE to not go.  

 

Levi jeans are $50.  Target brand are $19.  And Levi's at the thrift store are $5.    I have a choice.  

 

If beef prices have gone up too much, I stick with chicken or meatless meals for a while.  

 

That is what I am talking about.  

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our official site will give most accurate information for anyone who is interested. https://www.jw.org/en/

 

I would not say it is accurate that we are against higher education. My mom has a degree. I know many people who have degrees. We just believe it should not be the focus of our life.

 

Thanks.  I just didn't realize and had no idea.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And there are laws in place to protect us against that.

 

However, Disney prices have almost doubled in the last 10 years. I have the CHOICE to not go.

 

Levi jeans are $50. Target brand are $19. And Levi's at the thrift store are $5. I have a choice.

 

If beef prices have gone up too much, I stick with chicken or meatless meals for a while.

 

That is what I am talking about.

Yeaaah. And that's the problem. When you are talking about that in a conversation about poverty/low income, then it is a clear disparity in understanding the reality of poverty/low income life.

 

No one in poverty/low income is making those choices. They buy the $5 good will jeans or they don't get jeans. They aren't even thinking about going to Disney.

 

UI would not change any of this anyways. A UI would mean MORE business because more people would have enough breathing room in their finances to maybe make some better buying options. Because cheaper isn't always better or even cheaper in the long run, but it's often the only option. UI would be better bc more people would be able to make buying decisions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And yes, we have laws against price gauging because we recognize that there should be limits to profiting off situations. We have many laws against all kinds of ways to make a profit that we deem unfair to many people.

 

I see no reasons why adjusting our tax laws or developing a UI or instituting UHC would be any different.

Edited by Murphy101
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The model I looked at had a cap.  So, if you make X amount (it did not state specifically, just said "the wealthier"), you don't get the UBI.

 

Basically it said, the poor get more.  The median income get a little bit, and the wealthier get nothing.

This structure would be a  negative income tax (NIT).  The benefit of having UBI instead of it being phased out with a NIT is that the UBI does not distort work decisions as much.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think taxes are stealing either, but many do, even if they get a benefit.  And I think most people think taxes could be inappropriately levied, in which case it would be characterized as stealing even if legal technically.

 

My point was that if it is the case that charging an extra % over the real costs of production is inappropriate, charging more is a form of stealing.  As in price gouging.

 

The fact that people pay in that case - say because everyone is doing it or it is an item they need  - isn't really the point.  Asking people for more can be cheating them.

Charging more than the costs of production and price gouging are not necessarily the same thing.  In fact, most definitions of price gouging are somewhat murky.  

 

Suppose that I inherited my great grandmother's china and I do not care for it.  What is an appropriate price for me to charge someone for it?  It cost me nothing to produce.  Does this mean that it is stealing to charge someone anything?

 

Suppose that I write a book.  I figure it takes me 100 hours to write the book and that a fair price for my time is $10 per hour.  It costs me $100 to market the book and $1 to print each book.  How much should a charge for the book without it being considered stealing?  

 

Suppose I have a brilliant idea for a computer program that helps companies save millions of dollars on their electric bills (and improves the environment.)  This stroke of genius came to me as I was in the shower and it took me five minutes to write the code.  My production costs are negligible.  Is it stealing for me to charge a positive price for this computer code?

 

Focusing only on the costs of production (supply) leaves out half of the equation (demand) of the determination of price and value.  

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Been a JW my entire life and the whole idea of quitting school at 16 is not normal for us. So I can't speak for your mom but that is nothing I have ever been taught or taught my son.

 

It's not the norm, but unfortunately I have seen it on more than one occasion.  There are always people who choose extremes.  Balance is not a principle everyone grasps.  But I don't find that any healthier or more spiritual than the extreme of chasing riches.  Often people in sore financial straits are just as focused and distracted by materialism as the very wealthy.  It's hard to focus on spiritual things or acts of service when you have to constantly search for basic needs.  

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeaaah. And that's the problem. When you are talking about that in a conversation about poverty/low income, then it is a clear disparity in understanding the reality of poverty/low income life.

 

No one in poverty/low income is making those choices. They buy the $5 good will jeans or they don't get jeans. They aren't even thinking about going to Disney.

 

UI would not change any of this anyways. A UI would mean MORE business because more people would have enough breathing room in their finances to maybe make some better buying options. Because cheaper isn't always better or even cheaper in the long run, but it's often the only option. UI would be better bc more people would be able to make buying decisions.

 

 

When your conversations start with soo......., and Yeaaah...... and then continue with me having a "clear disparity in understanding" we truly cannot go anywhere from here.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When your conversations start with soo......., and Yeaaah...... and then continue with me having a "clear disparity in understanding" we truly cannot go anywhere from here.

 

Not if that's your best refutation. I had no intention of offending. I tend to converse online very similar to in person conversations over my dinner table. Sooooo? Is not an unusual way to pose a theoretical question. Yeaaaahno. Is not an outlandish response to something that makes to sense. Pointing out a fact you don't like hearing doesn't make it no longer a fact.

 

If person A is discussing poverty/low income and person B responds that those people can just choose to not go to Disney or buy expensive jeans, that person B lacks basic understanding of what poverty/low income means. No, those people cannot choose to not go to Disney or buy more expensive jeans. That implies they could choose to buy it and they can't. Poverty/low income by its nature in this country tends to mean they have few or no genuine choices.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not if that's your best refutation. I had no intention of offending. I tend to converse online very similar to in person conversations over my dinner table. Sooooo? Is not an unusual way to pose a theoretical question. Yeaaaahno. Is not an outlandish response to something that makes to sense. Pointing out a fact you don't like hearing doesn't make it no longer a fact.

 

If person A is discussing poverty/low income and person B responds that those people can just choose to not go to Disney or buy expensive jeans, that person B lacks basic understanding of what poverty/low income means. No, those people cannot choose to not go to Disney or buy more expensive jeans. That implies they could choose to buy it and they can't. Poverty/low income by its nature in this country tends to mean they have few or no genuine choices.

I do know some low income people living below the poverty line in the US who do choose to purchase expensive jeans and go to Disney.  The fact is that defining poverty/low income is much more difficult than it appears on the surface.  There is a certain amount of generational poverty that is difficult to break out of.  But, when we look at yearly income, there are a number of people who suddenly find themselves in a low income/poverty situation due to an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, a divorce, etc.  Also the number of people who are temporarily in the low income/poverty range because of intentional choices they make--return to grad school, retire but not draw retirement income yet, or spend a year in mission work.  This is one of the reasons why creating policies to deal with poverty are difficult; what helps in some situations does not even begin to address the problems in other situations.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not if that's your best refutation. I had no intention of offending. I tend to converse online very similar to in person conversations over my dinner table. Sooooo? Is not an unusual way to pose a theoretical question. Yeaaaahno. Is not an outlandish response to something that makes to sense. Pointing out a fact you don't like hearing doesn't make it no longer a fact.

 

If person A is discussing poverty/low income and person B responds that those people can just choose to not go to Disney or buy expensive jeans, that person B lacks basic understanding of what poverty/low income means. No, those people cannot choose to not go to Disney or buy more expensive jeans. That implies they could choose to buy it and they can't. Poverty/low income by its nature in this country tends to mean they have few or no genuine choices.

 

You made a statement that people shouldn't make any profit and should just sell things at slightly above cost.  I disagreed.  Now you are saying I can't possibly understand.

 

Forget the Disney reference, you seem to keep talking about it.  I was merely saying that they had DOUBLED in price.

 

There ARE choices people make and there are things people can do to minimize their spending.

Since I wasn't even mentioning the truly destitute, and was only addressing profit margins, it is rather irrelevant to bring up the destitute.

 

If you want to talk about the truly poor, that is an entirely different discussion.....although they *can* be affected by price gouging, which is not what I was referring to either.

 

I was ONLY addressing the profit margins mentioned earlier and saying that it is not stealing.  I still think that is true.  

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeaaah. And that's the problem. When you are talking about that in a conversation about poverty/low income, then it is a clear disparity in understanding the reality of poverty/low income life.

 

No one in poverty/low income is making those choices. They buy the $5 good will jeans or they don't get jeans. They aren't even thinking about going to Disney.

 

UI would not change any of this anyways. A UI would mean MORE business because more people would have enough breathing room in their finances to maybe make some better buying options. Because cheaper isn't always better or even cheaper in the long run, but it's often the only option. UI would be better bc more people would be able to make buying decisions.

So here's a not-so-funny story, somewhat related to the jeans scenario.

 

Yesterday, my mother asked me to help her with her budget. I added up the numbers and her expenses are bigger than her income, not even including anything like gas, groceries, etc. Just the bills.

 

So we're going to have to give her a couple thousand dollars to get rid of some of those payments so she can at least come out to even. Because she can't live with us to save money because she sings and dances when she's happy and does heavy sighs when she's sad and tells us stories using nicknames and lingo so we have to ask her for details and she feels important. DH needs Xanax to be around her more than a few hours.

 

We went to the store together today so we could... discuss how this predicament happened. And she proceeded to buy a jar of name brand, not on sale peanut butter, because my brother (who lives at home) won't eat the cheap kind. He is 26 freaking years old. I am apparently helping her out so she can continue to buy Jif for an adult toddler while my kids get "what I bought or just don't eat." I wasn't willing to fight this battle today.

 

I'm just sick of trying to be caring and understanding. All the little crap adds up, and yes some people can be too dumb to figure it out. It just all pisses me off.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm just sick of trying to be caring and understanding. All the little crap adds up, and yes some people can be too dumb to figure it out. It just all pisses me off.

I completely understand and personally know that frustration.

 

But here is the deal... you can't educate out this problem and you can punish it into not happening either. There is always going to be a certain small segment of the population like this that the rest of us just have to suck it up and provide for because to not provide for them costs us more in our personal humanity than it does in finances. And a UBI would be a great start in that direction. It might not change her habit, but it would ease YOUR situation dealing with her at least a bit.

Edited by Murphy101
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have never ever made any such statement because I have never ever agreed with such a statement.

 

You are confusing me with someone else.

 

 

Oh yes, sorry, it was bluegoat but when you jumped in to quote me and argue with me, I assumed you agreed with her that anything that would be considered a large profit margin (which is subject able I know) would be stealing.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charging more than the costs of production and price gouging are not necessarily the same thing.  In fact, most definitions of price gouging are somewhat murky.  

 

Suppose that I inherited my great grandmother's china and I do not care for it.  What is an appropriate price for me to charge someone for it?  It cost me nothing to produce.  Does this mean that it is stealing to charge someone anything?

 

Suppose that I write a book.  I figure it takes me 100 hours to write the book and that a fair price for my time is $10 per hour.  It costs me $100 to market the book and $1 to print each book.  How much should a charge for the book without it being considered stealing?  

 

Suppose I have a brilliant idea for a computer program that helps companies save millions of dollars on their electric bills (and improves the environment.)  This stroke of genius came to me as I was in the shower and it took me five minutes to write the code.  My production costs are negligible.  Is it stealing for me to charge a positive price for this computer code?

 

Focusing only on the costs of production (supply) leaves out half of the equation (demand) of the determination of price and value.  

 

More demand then supply is usually going to reflect limits in production.

 

A genius idea is of course a very rare thing, no matter how long it took you to think it up.  If you have only one in say, five years, I'd say that it took longer than 5 min, yes?  It's really not a one every 5 min item.  

 

You don't have think about demand, or perhaps I'll say put so much weight on it, just because we generally do so now.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not the norm, but unfortunately I have seen it on more than one occasion. There are always people who choose extremes. Balance is not a principle everyone grasps. But I don't find that any healthier or more spiritual than the extreme of chasing riches. Often people in sore financial straits are just as focused and distracted by materialism as the very wealthy. It's hard to focus on spiritual things or acts of service when you have to constantly search for basic needs.

Correct. And that would not be balanced.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

doubt that's true - would you be willing, say as a small business owner, to exploit your workers, or pollute the river next to your shop, even if there were no laws around those things?

 

Because both of those will affect the bottom line.

 

By the logic you are outlining here, unless you are allowed to do these things with impunity, there is no point in starting a business, you aren't making as much money as you could.

 

Interestingly, in the past when thinking of profit this way was common, more people had a small business, and fewer were employees. Ultimately, if no one does have a business, there will be no jobs for employees, and everyone will have to work for themselves. So again - a different kind of economic landscape.

 

There still would be advantages though to owning - you would have a chunk of capital you could sell or pass down at the end. You would have a kind of autonomy and ability to define your own work. You wouldn't be dependent on others providing a position for you.

 

All those supposedly cherished free-market values, that we actually don't see much interest in in our culture.

 

You are misrepresenting what I have been saying all along; I specifically talked about an ethical business that treated its employees fairly and compensated them fairly, as well.

 

It's ridiculous to assume that because a person starts a business wanting to make it as financially successful as possible, then that person must also be unethical and willing to do terrible things in order to make that business succeed.

 

Your so-called advantages to owning aren't enough. If I start a business and it is successful, I should be able to decide what to do with the profits from that business. Otherwise, I don't really own that business at all.

 

 

Again, this comes to overcharging.

 

Think in terms of price gouging. Why do we think it's wrong? It isn't just that we think it is mean.

 

If the "correct" price is always what the market will bear, if it is impossible to over-charge, why would that be illegal?

 

The right price is not always what the price will bear, and it isn't necessarily primarily defined by that, though it may be a good signal when it's working properly.

 

If the price being charged is inappropriate, the seller in that case is essentially stealing from the customer

 

What I am suggesting is that the correct price is more closely related to productivity. The price of the product reflects the costs involved in producing it, and the productivity of the workers and owners. There is no extra 5 or 10% or whatever is normative for the industry tacked on top of that. (Availability in the market is a signal that can be useful - if a product is hard to find it may be because of difficulties related to resources, production, or transport. But it isn't always a clear signal - there are confounding factors and it can be manipulated.)

 

I can see that people are having difficulty imagining this. If you scale it down, how would it look. Say you live in a town where people produce a variety of products and services that people need or want. You charge your customers the costs associated with your products and what you require to support yourself in whatever is seen as a decent lifestyle. Therefore your customers are getting this product from you at a very fair price. In their turn, they charge you for various products you need too, which you are also getting for a fair price, and they earn a livelihood. What happens when one or all of those people decides to charge more than that - as much as they can get out of the customers? How does that make the system better? It seems to me that it begins to create a lot of confounding factors.

People are having a hard time imagining what you're suggesting because, honestly, who would do the math? Who would determine the definition of "overcharging?" Who would be qualified to decide the "fair" price for every single item produced and every single service rendered? That would be an impossible task. And if you're going to tell me exactly how much I can charge for my products and services, we come back to the same conclusion -- it's not really my business at all.

 

Sorry, but I still come back to the same conclusion -- my business, my decisions, my money, my decisions what to do with that money.

 

You may know different people than I know, but the people I know wouldn't start businesses without the incentive of profit and financial gain. And these are ethical people who aren't trying to rip anyone off, although by your standards, it seems like anyone who makes a profit from their product or service is somehow cheating the public and stealing their money.

Edited by Catwoman
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So here's a not-so-funny story, somewhat related to the jeans scenario.

 

Yesterday, my mother asked me to help her with her budget. I added up the numbers and her expenses are bigger than her income, not even including anything like gas, groceries, etc. Just the bills.

 

So we're going to have to give her a couple thousand dollars to get rid of some of those payments so she can at least come out to even. Because she can't live with us to save money because she sings and dances when she's happy and does heavy sighs when she's sad and tells us stories using nicknames and lingo so we have to ask her for details and she feels important. DH needs Xanax to be around her more than a few hours.

 

We went to the store together today so we could... discuss how this predicament happened. And she proceeded to buy a jar of name brand, not on sale peanut butter, because my brother (who lives at home) won't eat the cheap kind. He is 26 freaking years old. I am apparently helping her out so she can continue to buy Jif for an adult toddler while my kids get "what I bought or just don't eat." I wasn't willing to fight this battle today.

 

I'm just sick of trying to be caring and understanding. All the little crap adds up, and yes some people can be too dumb to figure it out. It just all pisses me off.

(Hugs).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may know different people than I know, but the people I know wouldn't start businesses without the incentive of profit and financial gain. And these are ethical people who aren't trying to rip anyone off, although by your standards, it seems like anyone who makes a profit from their product or service is somehow cheating the public and stealing their money.

 

I don't know if bluegoat would identify as such, but that's pretty much the marxist position in a nutshell.  I'm not saying this in a disparaging way, just to say that this idea has been around a long time, that profits can only be made via exploitation of workers.

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

More demand then supply is usually going to reflect limits in production.

 

A genius idea is of course a very rare thing, no matter how long it took you to think it up.  If you have only one in say, five years, I'd say that it took longer than 5 min, yes?  It's really not a one every 5 min item.  

 

You don't have think about demand, or perhaps I'll say put so much weight on it, just because we generally do so now.  

Demand and supply are not fixed quantities.  Demand is the functional relationship between price and quantity demanded.  Supplyis the relationship between price and quantity supplied.  A shortage means that, at the given price, quantity demanded exceeds quantity supplied.  

 

Yes, a genius idea is rare, and unfortunately, I haven't had one.  But, the point of the example (and the other two examples that I gave) was--what would be the approrpriate price to charge in those examples?  Especially if your assumption is that the price should be based upon the real cost of production.

 

Economics does not say we "should" put a weight on demand and then people do it.  Economics considers demand AND supply because it describes behavior and markets.  If demand is not given equal weight to supply when considering what is an appropriate price, consumer's tastes, preferences, and desires are being ignored (or considered less important than costs of production) when it comes to price determination.  (and how were those costs of production determined if it wasn't using a market price?)

 

If you go back to the very basics of trade and I can make two nets or one hut in a day and you can make 5 nets or 2 huts in one day we benefit from trading--I make huts and you make nets.  But my cost of a hut is 2 nets.  I am willing to trade my hut for 2 or more nets.  You are willing to give me up to 2.5 nets for a hut, because your cost of a making a hut is giving up 2.5 nets.  So, how do we trade without at least one of us charging more than our costs?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if bluegoat would identify as such, but that's pretty much the marxist position in a nutshell.  I'm not saying this in a disparaging way, just to say that this idea has been around a long time, that profits can only be made via exploitation of workers.

 

Yes, and I obviously disagree with that idea. :)

 

I know that some businesspeople would choose to exploit their workers in order to increase their profits. I also know that some businesspeople would choose to manufacture inferior goods and/or provide poor quality services to their customers in order to increase their profits. But I think it is absolutely wrong to assume that all -- or even most -- businesspeople are so unscrupulous, or that it is somehow immoral of a businessperson to want his or her business to make a profit.

 

I believe it is entirely possible to be both ethical and successful in business, and I also believe it is possible for a business to be financially profitable without cheating its customers or "stealing" its customers' money.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This isn't a difficult concept.

 

There has to be a point where it is no longer simply creating profit, it's creating serfdom.

 

The bottom line is that 3% of the population IS doing that. And the only way to avoid civil unrest is for the people to have the ability to redistribute some of that wealth via taxes and social policies.

 

I'll say straight out, I don't care the those 3% fearing it will only make them multimillionaires instead of multibillionaires or more.

 

That's not just about profit. It's about power. And that much power should not be so concentrated in so few in a supposedly democratic republic.

Edited by Murphy101
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But again, who determines the owner's salary? Who determines the definition of "a reasonable expense of the business?" And if I own the business, why should someone else get to tell me how much of my business's profits I'm allowed to keep?

 

My idea. My business. My time. My effort. My money.

 

I'm wondering if you think people should be allowed to be millionaires or billionaires or if they should only ever be permitted to keep a certain amount of money.

 

I feel like I'm misunderstanding you, and I apologize for that. I'm not trying to be argumentative; I'm trying to figure out what you mean. :)

 

Well, if a business owner is paying so little that his employees need to go on food stamps, therefore having their wages supplemented by the taxpayer, that is too low, and it is him profiting off of the taxpayer's dime basically. 

SaveSave

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, if a business owner is paying so little that his employees need to go on food stamps, therefore having their wages supplemented by the taxpayer, that is too low, and it is him profiting off of the taxpayer's dime basically.

 

Save

Save

Yes, but throughout this thread, I have specified that I was speaking of ethical business owners who treat their employees well and pay them a fair wage.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly so.

Except that, as far as I know, no one here has said it was acceptable for business owners to treat their employees unfairly or to pay them very low wages.

 

Again, it is entirely possible for a business owner to treat his or her employees very well and compensate them fairly, yet still run a profitable business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Except that, as far as I know, no one here has said it was acceptable for business owners to treat their employees unfairly or to pay them very low wages.

 

Again, it is entirely possible for a business owner to treat his or her employees very well and compensate them fairly, yet still run a profitable business.

I agree it is. I have no issue with profit in a healthy and ethical format.

 

But yes, there is such a thing as too much. Profit in excess is unhealthy. As for where that line is, I put forth the suggestion of starting with redistributing some of the excess at the top 3%.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, and I obviously disagree with that idea. :)

 

I know that some businesspeople would choose to exploit their workers in order to increase their profits. I also know that some businesspeople would choose to manufacture inferior goods and/or provide poor quality services to their customers in order to increase their profits. But I think it is absolutely wrong to assume that all -- or even most -- businesspeople are so unscrupulous, or that it is somehow immoral of a businessperson to want his or her business to make a profit.

 

I believe it is entirely possible to be both ethical and successful in business, and I also believe it is possible for a business to be financially profitable without cheating its customers or "stealing" its customers' money.

 

I absolutely agree with "possible".  I don't think it's the majority, in reality.  If it were, would this conversation even exist?

 

Take Apple and its factory workers.

Our healthcare crisis and insurance companies' executive salaries.

Walmart and... everything.

Social workers who are supposed to care for children while struggling to provide for their own.

All (seriously, almost ALL) of the contractors in my area who promise to obtain all the necessary permits for a job, charge for the permits, and then count on nobody checking up on them.

The farmers and buyers who won't pay a penny a pound more for undocumented tomato pickers. (Looking at you, Wendy's!)

 

My husband's career is based on keeping contractors from ripping off insurance companies.  The fact that he makes what he does, doing what he does, is indicative of the greed that permeates the industry.  Besides overcharging, those contractors are notorious for paying their labor (largely marginalized and vulnerable people) peanuts.

 

We can go ahead and talk about amazing individual business owners, but I think that's akin to talking about amazing individual teachers and pretending we don't need any education reform because of those great examples.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

You are misrepresenting what I have been saying all along; I specifically talked about an ethical business that treated its employees fairly and compensated them fairly, as well.

It's ridiculous to assume that because a person starts a business wanting to make it as financially successful as possible, then that person must also be unethical and willing to do terrible things in order to make that business succeed.

 

 

No, I am not saying that you don't believe those things - I am pointing out that you DO.  You have already agreed that those things are important, and in fact almost everyone agrees with that.  We already admit that there are things other than renumeration for the owner that are important in principle.

 

In fact in many cases we create legal frameworks for these things.   We might say - the purpose of a business is to make money for the owner.  

 

But that isn't something we should take for granted - there were not always laws about such things, and in the past many business owners argued, and believed, that these kinds of rules were against their rights as business owners.  We aren't different kinds of people, the reason most people believe differently now is because we've been taught to think about it differently.

 

It isn't impossible, as some seem to be saying, to think about several principles at once, and balance them.  We already do it.  We often don't notice we are doing it because we take for granted that, say, we can't create an unduly unsafe work environment, or abuse employees, or sell tainted foods.  But really, we are already saying that there are other principles that are inherent in the relationships involved in business.

 

Your so-called advantages to owning aren't enough. If I start a business and it is successful, I should be able to decide what to do with the profits from that business. Otherwise, I don't really own that business at all.

 

 

This really makes no sense to me.  Do you think in the days when people thought differently, they didn't "really" own their own businesses?  They might have argued, since most of them did not owe money to the bank for their business, that they had a much cleaner claim to ownership than most modern businesses.

 

If we are talking about a business with no profits, who decides what to do with them is rather a moot point.

 

 

Sorry, but I still come back to the same conclusion -- my business, my decisions, my money, my decisions what to do with that money.

 

 

Well, that's fine for you.  

 

But I am trying to point out that this is not the only way to think about it.  It is not logically necessary.  It is not "natural".  It's one human construct, and there are other possibilities.  We define the nature of the constructed environment.

 

By all means argue it's the best one.  But people should not for a moment believe it is the only way to conceptualize money or business or productivity.  And many people do believe it is the only way, the only way that has ever been tried, and that it is equivalent to the laws of nature.  Saying - what about a system without profit is not the same as saying, let's get water to run uphill of it's own accord.  It could be done, if we wanted, and it might have real advantages.  

 

 


People are having a hard time imagining what you're suggesting because, honestly, who would do the math? Who would determine the definition of "overcharging?" Who would be qualified to decide the "fair" price for every single item produced and every single service rendered? That would be an impossible task. And if you're going to tell me exactly how much I can charge for my products and services, we come back to the same conclusion -- it's not really my business at all.

 

 

No, it's no more impossible than what goes on now.  It may be inexact.  Many things are inexact.

 

How do you know what a fair price is now?  How do you know what is overcharging?  How do you  know how much profit to tack on to your good and services?  How do you know what your costs are?  Businesses that don't know these things fail.   All that is happening in what I am suggesting is one element is not added or that other elements are considered as important as well.  

 

These determinations are already made in business all over the world.

 

It would not, necessarily, be required for anyone to tell you how much to charge.  As I've said at least three times - it might well be more a matter of how YOU decide what to charge.  Just like YOU might decide it is correct to try and give a health plan to your employees.  

 

That being said - there have at times - and there still are in many places - rules about what to charge for certain items.  Sometimes they are decided by government regulators.  Sometimes by business or professional organizations.  Milk.  Drugs.  Media services. Medical services.  Gasoline.  And yet no one thinks these kinds of things mean the doctors surgery isn't a real business, nor the pharmacy, the dairy farmer, or the gas station, the telecommunications company.

 

 (And they manage too to figure out what a fair price is.)  

 

These things are less common in the US, but it's not like they are only found in places where there are only state-owned businesses.  

 

In any case - knowing that it's been done before should suggest it is entirely possible to imagine it.

 

 


You may know different people than I know, but the people I know wouldn't start businesses without the incentive of profit and financial gain. And these are ethical people who aren't trying to rip anyone off, although by your standards, it seems like anyone who makes a profit from their product or service is somehow cheating the public and stealing their money.

 

 

And yet people have started businesses without the idea of profit being the main motive.  I won't say no financial gain, as that isn't what I have said or suggested.  A good life where you can afford the things you need, plus owning a business that will be worth some money,  sounds like financial gain to me.  It isn't human nature that only under modern economic conditions do people work.  People have worked, and operated businesses, in a variety of different environments.

 

Perhaps the people you know have been influenced by what they have been taught is the only way to do things.  Perhaps people in our economic system are particularly lazy, and need extra motivation.  

 

I'd suggest the first of those plays a role, but the main reason is neither of those - It actually isn't anything to do with individuals and whether they are dishonest or stealing from customers or are lazy.  It's a system question.  If you are living in a system where it is set up for businesses to operate, and for us to exist as economic actors, in a certain way, individuals can't very easily opt out of that system.  Even those who try usually can only do so partially, because they have to operate within the economic community.  You, as an individual,  can't just decide to not accrue profits, because the whole financial system in predicated on the fact that people are.

 

The question is, what happens if we change the rules and assumptions of the community as a whole.  How would it behave differently?  How would it cause individuals to behave differently?  

Edited by Bluegoat
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Demand and supply are not fixed quantities.  Demand is the functional relationship between price and quantity demanded.  Supplyis the relationship between price and quantity supplied.  A shortage means that, at the given price, quantity demanded exceeds quantity supplied.  

 

Yes, a genius idea is rare, and unfortunately, I haven't had one.  But, the point of the example (and the other two examples that I gave) was--what would be the approrpriate price to charge in those examples?  Especially if your assumption is that the price should be based upon the real cost of production.

 

Economics does not say we "should" put a weight on demand and then people do it.  Economics considers demand AND supply because it describes behavior and markets.  If demand is not given equal weight to supply when considering what is an appropriate price, consumer's tastes, preferences, and desires are being ignored (or considered less important than costs of production) when it comes to price determination.  (and how were those costs of production determined if it wasn't using a market price?)

 

If you go back to the very basics of trade and I can make two nets or one hut in a day and you can make 5 nets or 2 huts in one day we benefit from trading--I make huts and you make nets.  But my cost of a hut is 2 nets.  I am willing to trade my hut for 2 or more nets.  You are willing to give me up to 2.5 nets for a hut, because your cost of a making a hut is giving up 2.5 nets.  So, how do we trade without at least one of us charging more than our costs?

 

As for the genius idea - I haven't had any either - I would think it would require a pretty high price, because it would require supporting said genius for 5 years in order just to pay back the costs of production, as it were.  Plus perhaps whatever education and special environment the genius required.  Perhaps a genius who worked best in a depressed environment would charge less.

 

And you might also look at it in terms of what it would save the person who could then use the idea. There would also be questions about whether or not there was some sort of system of patents and such.  These are all related to the real effect and instantiation of the idea.  

 

But it's really not an impossible problem.  I'd say one already solved.  Nothing I've said is going to require wildly different ways of thinking than we already use.  In any system that has price controls, and there are lots of them, these kinds of valuations are made.  If you run a non-profit business, how do you decide what is profit and what isn't?  

 

As for huts and nets - maybe one of us would buy some fish and show in .5 worth of a hut.  Or, I could say, I'll give you an extra whole net, and you give me a deal on my daughters hut next year when she gets married.  Or we  could trade in representations of value rather than directly in huts and nets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, and I obviously disagree with that idea. :)

 

I know that some businesspeople would choose to exploit their workers in order to increase their profits. I also know that some businesspeople would choose to manufacture inferior goods and/or provide poor quality services to their customers in order to increase their profits. But I think it is absolutely wrong to assume that all -- or even most -- businesspeople are so unscrupulous, or that it is somehow immoral of a businessperson to want his or her business to make a profit.

 

I believe it is entirely possible to be both ethical and successful in business, and I also believe it is possible for a business to be financially profitable without cheating its customers or "stealing" its customers' money.

 

Yeah, no one is saying they are immoral.  

 

The system or paradigm is the question, not individuals motives.  And not even whether it is immoral - whether it is true.

 

An economic system is constructed in a way like an ecology.  If you get important concepts in your ecology wrong, you end up with unbalance - maybe your whole planet becomes covered with ants, and they eat all the other plants and animals. Oops.

 

Is our economic system constructed in a way that is unbalanced?  I'm suggesting it is, there is an error in the way we are thinking about it.  The reason we have the economic inequality and environmental degradation etc is NOT because people are unscrupulous - it is because the system tends to create that outcome even when people aren't.

 

On the contrary - if we think the system we have is just fine, as you are suggesting, then the injustices we see must come largely from unscrupulous people who are content to take advantage of others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Except that, as far as I know, no one here has said it was acceptable for business owners to treat their employees unfairly or to pay them very low wages.

 

Again, it is entirely possible for a business owner to treat his or her employees very well and compensate them fairly, yet still run a profitable business.

\

This happens, and is completely legal, and justified by many business owners..  Because the purpose of business is not to provide jobs, or good jobs, or fair pay - it is to make a profit.

 

It really doesn't matter if some individuals bring their higher moral values into it - those are not intrinsic, in that system, to being good at business - in fact they can take it harder to compete against those whose motive are more focused on turning a profit by any legal means (or often, any means they can get away with.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

But it's really not an impossible problem.  I'd say one already solved.  Nothing I've said is going to require wildly different ways of thinking than we already use.  In any system that has price controls, and there are lots of them, these kinds of valuations are made.  If you run a non-profit business, how do you decide what is profit and what isn't?  

 

As for huts and nets - maybe one of us would buy some fish and show in .5 worth of a hut.  Or, I could say, I'll give you an extra whole net, and you give me a deal on my daughters hut next year when she gets married.  Or we  could trade in representations of value rather than directly in huts and nets.

If you are a non-profit, you determine what is profit according to IRS rules.  A non-profit just means that there are not shareholders to collect a return on their investment.  Being a non-profit does not determine the price the organization pays for its inputs or the price it charges for any output.  A non-profit can pay its top executives huge salaries, many times more than what it is paying its office staff and other workers.  

 

I am not understanding your solution to the net and hut example.  The issues is not fractions versus whole nets and huts.  For me, it costs 20 nets to make 10 huts.  If I trade the 10 H with you, you pay me in nets.  If you give me 20 nets for my 10 Huts, then I have charged you my cost.  However, you have given me 20 nets. You sold me 20 nets for 10 huts, but it only cost you you 8 huts to make those nets  So, you make more for selling your nets than your cost.  

 

If you lower your price and charge me less than 10 huts for my 20 nets, then I am making more for my huts than my cost.  

 

It doesn't matter if we agree to give someone a deal next year because we will have the same dilemma then, we are just pushing it forward in time.  Using a representation of value does not solve the problem either.   

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This discussion is reminding me of an article I read years ago about Ben& Jerry's business model. The top earner could never make more than 5 times more than the lowest earner. I think I have the numbers right but I thought it was an intriguing concept. They sold out though so I guess it was NOT a sustainable concept.

 

Edited to add important word.

Edited by Scarlett
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are a non-profit, you determine what is profit according to IRS rules.  A non-profit just means that there are not shareholders to collect a return on their investment.  Being a non-profit does not determine the price the organization pays for its inputs or the price it charges for any output.  A non-profit can pay its top executives huge salaries, many times more than what it is paying its office staff and other workers.  

 

I am not understanding your solution to the net and hut example.  The issues is not fractions versus whole nets and huts.  For me, it costs 20 nets to make 10 huts.  If I trade the 10 H with you, you pay me in nets.  If you give me 20 nets for my 10 Huts, then I have charged you my cost.  However, you have given me 20 nets. You sold me 20 nets for 10 huts, but it only cost you you 8 huts to make those nets  So, you make more for selling your nets than your cost.  

 

If you lower your price and charge me less than 10 huts for my 20 nets, then I am making more for my huts than my cost.  

 

It doesn't matter if we agree to give someone a deal next year because we will have the same dilemma then, we are just pushing it forward in time.  Using a representation of value does not solve the problem either.   

 

A non-profit means the business, as a business, doesn't make a profit.  Yes, it can still do all kinds of things in terms of salaries, which may be fine, or immoral.

 

But the point is it is actually possible to have some idea of what things actually cost the business to do.  All businesses have to do this. Non-profits need to know.  Apple needs to know.  if you decide to sell something at cost, for any reason, you need to know.

 

It's not necessarily exact down to a dollar amount, but a business, if it isn't going to go bankrupt, needs to know what it costs to do what it does.  Apple does not make an IphoneX with knowing what it will cost them, probably under a variety of possible circumstances.

 

I misunderstood your net example.  I'm not sure why you would try and trade things based on your own productivity with an item you are not, in fact, producing.  That seems very odd.  If you can get a net cheaper by making it yourself, then make the net yourself.  If you buy it from me, you need to pay what it costs me.  

 

Anyway,  given that people do manage to trade that way, I think there must be a solution.  In this situation, where someone is trading his huts for your nets, if neither is interested in turning a profit, how do you think they would solve the problem?  Practically speaking I think they would simply come to a mutually satisfactory trade where both felt they were being treated fairly and being compensated for their work in a way that was useful to them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This discussion is reminding me of an article I read years ago about Ben& Jerry's business model. The top earner could never make more than 5 times more than the lowest earner. I think I have the numbers right but I thought it was an intriguing concept. They sold out though so I guess it was a sustainable concept.

 

There are other big businesses that use the approach - Costco maybe?  I know it's been talked about as an idea for legislation in some places, I don't know if any have actually done it.

 

It's interesting because sometimes people think of it as restricting top salaries - actually though it doesn't - they can go up as long as the bottom ones also do.  The idea is that if the company makes more, it is the result of the work of everyone, so needs to be distributed throughout the organization, not hoarded by a few who can grant themselves higher salaries.

 

I think B&J was pretty successful, but I don't believe the people that bought it were committed to that model.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are other big businesses that use the approach - Costco maybe? I know it's been talked about as an idea for legislation in some places, I don't know if any have actually done it.

 

It's interesting because sometimes people think of it as restricting top salaries - actually though it doesn't - they can go up as long as the bottom ones also do. The idea is that if the company makes more, it is the result of the work of everyone, so needs to be distributed throughout the organization, not hoarded by a few who can grant themselves higher salaries.

 

I think B&J was pretty successful, but I don't believe the people that bought it were committed to that model.

Yes I agree that is a better way of saying it. The new owners weren't committed to that model.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

I misunderstood your net example.  I'm not sure why you would try and trade things based on your own productivity with an item you are not, in fact, producing.  That seems very odd.  If you can get a net cheaper by making it yourself, then make the net yourself.  If you buy it from me, you need to pay what it costs me.  

 

Anyway,  given that people do manage to trade that way, I think there must be a solution.  In this situation, where someone is trading his huts for your nets, if neither is interested in turning a profit, how do you think they would solve the problem?  Practically speaking I think they would simply come to a mutually satisfactory trade where both felt they were being treated fairly and being compensated for their work in a way that was useful to them.

 

 

The only way for me to sell you huts at my cost and you to sell me nets at your cost is for huts and nets to be destroyed in the process.  Either one or both of us will profit from the trade.  The trade is mutually satisfactory, even though there is profit. (If it wasn't mutually satisfactory we wouldn't trade.)  The profit is how much we are better of from trading than not from trading.   I don't loose satisfaction from the trade simply because you are earning a profit; there is no reason for you to loose satisfaction from the trade because I am earning a profit.   

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think my religious culture views these things differently. 

 

Like Paul, maybe? ;) "If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:8-10

 

FWIW, I am not at all opposed to individual wealth. It can be a huge blessing from God and should be used to bless others. I do think it takes a person of strong character to keep that wealth from becoming a primary focus or from allowing it to lead them into temptation and sin. I'd say we have some examples of that in high places.

Edited by MercyA
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only way for me to sell you huts at my cost and you to sell me nets at your cost is for huts and nets to be destroyed in the process.  Either one or both of us will profit from the trade.  The trade is mutually satisfactory, even though there is profit. (If it wasn't mutually satisfactory we wouldn't trade.)  The profit is how much we are better of from trading than not from trading.   I don't loose satisfaction from the trade simply because you are earning a profit; there is no reason for you to loose satisfaction from the trade because I am earning a profit.   

 

So how is it then that people selling nets and huts managed to have a cultural view that profit was immoral, that it is not something they would do to their neighbours, and managed to carry on trade that they felt was within that standard?

 

It's a moral problem, not a measurement problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes I agree that is a better way of saying it. The new owners weren't committed to that model.

The original owners were not committed enough to the model to keep the business and keep it operating that  way.  While the original owners took a salary of no more than 5 times what the lowest paid worker made for a time, they chose not to keep their capital tied up in that company.  Looking at the salaries the people at the top took while they owned the business, without adding in the price at which they sold the business, is only looking at part of the story--and part of the way that they were being remunerated for their work in the business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The original owners were not committed enough to the model to keep the business and keep it operating that  way.  While the original owners took a salary of no more than 5 times what the lowest paid worker made for a time, they chose not to keep their capital tied up in that company.  Looking at the salaries the people at the top took while they owned the business, without adding in the price at which they sold the business, is only looking at part of the story--and part of the way that they were being remunerated for their work in the business.

 

Owning the business is the extra for being a business owner that people keep complaining is missing if they aren't getting some extra % all along.

 

No one as far as I see is having an issue with that.

 

As far as why they sold it, it's hard to say.  Maybe they wanted to cash in.  Or maybe they were ready to retire.  If they were committed to the business model, one would think they might have taken steps to try and ensure it's survival, but that may not have been possible.

 

Which I suppose it why some countries have thought to make it a legal requirement - so that it isn't impossible or based on the whims of individuals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Owning the business is the extra for being a business owner that people keep complaining is missing if they aren't getting some extra % all along.

 

No one as far as I see is having an issue with that.

 

As far as why they sold it, it's hard to say.  Maybe they wanted to cash in.  Or maybe they were ready to retire.  If they were committed to the business model, one would think they might have taken steps to try and ensure it's survival, but that may not have been possible.

 

Which I suppose it why some countries have thought to make it a legal requirement - so that it isn't impossible or based on the whims of individuals.

Actually, Ben and Jerry's was not successful at keeping the pay ratio 5-to-1.  They could not find talent that was willing to work for that and raised it to 7-to-1 and up from there until it was finally 17-to-1 before they sold to Unilever.

 

The point is that no one has to own a business.  They can retire rather than work for only 5 times more than the lowest paid worker.  

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Owning the business is the extra for being a business owner that people keep complaining is missing if they aren't getting some extra % all along.

 

No one as far as I see is having an issue with that.

 

I am not following this.  It seems to me as if you have been arguing that it is immoral for a business owner to get some extra % each year because that would be profit.  Is it OK for the owner not to get the extra % each year but get a return for the business when he sells the business?  If so, then it doesn't seem as if you are arguing that a profit is immoral, it just depends on how you take that profit--taking a bit each year would be wrong, but not taking it until you sell the business would be OK. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, Ben and Jerry's was not successful at keeping the pay ratio 5-to-1. They could not find talent that was willing to work for that and raised it to 7-to-1 and up from there until it was finally 17-to-1 before they sold to Unilever.

 

The point is that no one has to own a business. They can retire rather than work for only 5 times more than the lowest paid worker.

I think I remember reading about it when they sold. I can't understand why it has to be a matter of finding someone to work for on 5 times the lowest.....why not up the lowest salary until the top reaches what someone is willing to work for,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...