• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Re-Framing Capitalism

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
27,725
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
But note that wealth also dissipates over time because most people have more than one child.
Not in the developed world, they don’t. And if current trends continue, that claim will soon be untrue globally.

The Total Fertility Rate in the USA, for example, is 1.70 children per woman, or 0.85 children per parent.

Most people in the USA, Europe, and Australasia have fewer than one child. In the US, people have 85% of a child, on average.

https://ourworldindata.org/fertility-rate
Well, when I took math class 1.70 was greater than 1. Has that changed?
No. But 1.70 is nevertheless less than 2.

When I took a biology class, 2.0 was the expected number of parents per child. Has that changed?
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,993
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Yes we have an obvious class structure, but we also have upward mobility. One of the founders of Intel was a Hungarian immigrant. Bill and Hilary Clinton had humble beginnings.

The problem with this idea is that there is no internal coherency or intrinsic relationship between members of so-called 'classes'. Blurry boundaries, which makes the concept a convenient short-hand, but a fallacy for the most part. Every individual has a different combination of capital and market-skills, which is why we see upward and downward mobility.

It's true that any community forms a kind of hierarchy, with more poor people than rich, but that's exactly what you'd expect in any community, at any point in history. Wealth is rare and hard to come by.
Wealthy school districts with high property taxes have better schools than poor areas. That is a fact. If not class distinctions based on money we can invent a new term.

I can tell you when Hugh Hefner was alive I was not likely to get invited to the Playboy Bunny Ranch. Athletes and Hollowed actors were.

I dare say an average Brit is not going to hang out with te royals.

Over here there are no hard boundaries like the British royals, but the boundaries are there.


You might pay $20 for a meal at a regular restaurant. A more exclusive restaurant might charge $200 to keep out the social
undesirables'. Exclusive golf clubs.

For a long time in the USA loans to start a small business have been available to regular people. Upward mobility.

I'd say capitalism in the west has been reframed.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
Nothing of the sort. DBT doesn't ''want to control anything.'' I merely point out the obvious.

Notably, you failed to respond to my point.

Did you make a point?

Inequality is a vicious cycle
“The rich get richer, the poor get poorer” is not just a cliche. The concept behind it is a theoretical process called “wealth concentration.” Under certain conditions, newly created wealth is concentrated in the possession of already-wealthy individuals [5]. The reason is simple: People who already hold wealth have the resources to invest or to leverage the accumulation of wealth, which creates new wealth. The process of wealth concentration arguably makes economic inequality a vicious cycle.

Of course--the same factors that made one rich and another poor remain in effect.

There are many factors, and a principle factor in keeping wage cost down is leverage. That individual workers lack - unless certain skills are in short supply - the leverage to negotiate a better deal based on market share of the wealth they help to create, rather than poor leverage, therefore poor wages.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor" - Frank Lloyd Wright
People can and do capitalize their labor. Their labor is the product that they sell to those who will pay for it. In this case an individual is a business. Antitrust laws had to be passed to prevent businesses from colluding to fix the prices of their products because such collusion was destroying competition and the free market because collusion creates product pricing above 'fair market value'. Individuals (who are their own business) colluding to fix the prices of their product (their labor) by forming a union is no different.
Such collusion was destroying competition when there were three businesses in a market and they all acted as one; it wasn't destroying competition when there were thirty businesses in a market and three of them acted as one. It isn't collusion that destroys competition; it's saturation of the market.

For that matter, when a hundred investors all contribute their money to finance a management team that buys labor from a hundred workers to do some tasks, those investors aren't competing with one another, offering individual workers higher pay to get them to do what each investor wants, or cutting personal deals with workers to make goods for this investor instead of that one. The investors all put up a united front in their negotiations with workers, with each investor agreeing in advance to accept a given percentage of the common profit. We don't call that anticompetitive collusion; we call that a joint stock company. A corporation is just a labor buyers' union. So if labor sellers do the same thing from the other side of the negotiating table, what's the difference? Buying and selling are the same thing: swapping mine for thine. English happens to have a special word "sell" that means "buy" but that we only use when the commodity being bought is money; changing the name doesn't change what's going on.

So I think Wright had it right. A trade union is capitalism in action. There's a reason capitalist countries all have independent trade unions and socialist countries never do. The last time a socialist country tried tolerating a real trade union it brought down the Soviet empire.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,330
Yes we have an obvious class structure, but we also have upward mobility. One of the founders of Intel was a Hungarian immigrant. Bill and Hilary Clinton had humble beginnings.

The problem with this idea is that there is no internal coherency or intrinsic relationship between members of so-called 'classes'. Blurry boundaries, which makes the concept a convenient short-hand, but a fallacy for the most part. Every individual has a different combination of capital and market-skills, which is why we see upward and downward mobility.

It's true that any community forms a kind of hierarchy, with more poor people than rich, but that's exactly what you'd expect in any community, at any point in history. Wealth is rare and hard to come by.
Wealthy school districts with high property taxes have better schools than poor areas. That is a fact. If not class distinctions based on money we can invent a new term.

I can tell you when Hugh Hefner was alive I was not likely to get invited to the Playboy Bunny Ranch. Athletes and Hollowed actors were.

I dare say an average Brit is not going to hang out with te royals.

Over here there are no hard boundaries like the British royals, but the boundaries are there.


You might pay $20 for a meal at a regular restaurant. A more exclusive restaurant might charge $200 to keep out the social
undesirables'. Exclusive golf clubs.

For a long time in the USA loans to start a small business have been available to regular people. Upward mobility.

I'd say capitalism in the west has been reframed.

People with like characteristics will group together, but when you try to nail down the concept of class into a hard, scientific definition it's not that simple. It's fine to invoke the term if you want to signify a group based on relative wealth, but as a scientific indicator of how societies actually work and evolve it's quite a bit more complicated.

Anthony Giddens, one of the most renowned sociologists in the world today, wrote an entire book about it. I haven't read the whole thing but from what I can gather the main differentiator tends to be land ownership.

Using myself as an example, economically I'd likely be upper-middle class. But a pair of my in-laws are multi-millionaires, one of my best friends is dirt poor, and a few of my other friends are wealthy doctors. So what 'class' am I in exactly? Relative to other people in my community I have a certain amount of wealth, but that doesn't really tell you a whole lot beyond who I'm most likely to form friends with.
 
Last edited:

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
...
Which is the problem with Picketty's book--he's entirely focused on members of classes without realizing the classes are not fixed. The people that fly high often crash hard and the later generations rarely lack the skill to maintain the wealth they do inherit.
True. And, on the flip side, many individuals that would be grouped in DBT's class of 'the underdogs' become powerful or wealthy or even 'stinking rich'. What DBT and those with his mindset see as classes is an illusion, only a snapshot in time, because individuals can and do change their condition in life constantly. Some improve, some decline, some flutter back and forth.


You are presenting a Strawman. Percentage wise, very few workers become billionaires.

''In America, there were 607 billionaires in 2018 – one in 538,715 of the population and 11.8 million household millionaires (3 percent).''
As usual, you fail to understand.

The point is that there is nothing holding an individual in a 'class'. There was in the 1800s when Marx set out the basis of your philosophy.


I made no mention of class in the sense you refer to. There are poorly paid jobs that are poorly paid because individual workers have little or no leverage.

Isn't it clear by now that talking about the power imbalance between management and individual workers?

I explained what I meant. I supported what I said....yet you bring up 'class!!'
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
...
Which is the problem with Picketty's book--he's entirely focused on members of classes without realizing the classes are not fixed. The people that fly high often crash hard and the later generations rarely lack the skill to maintain the wealth they do inherit.
True. And, on the flip side, many individuals that would be grouped in DBT's class of 'the underdogs' become powerful or wealthy or even 'stinking rich'. What DBT and those with his mindset see as classes is an illusion, only a snapshot in time, because individuals can and do change their condition in life constantly. Some improve, some decline, some flutter back and forth.


You are presenting a Strawman. Percentage wise, very few workers become billionaires.

''In America, there were 607 billionaires in 2018 – one in 538,715 of the population and 11.8 million household millionaires (3 percent).''
As usual, you fail to understand.

The point is that there is nothing holding an individual in a 'class'.

DBT you might find Anthony Giddens' The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies a good read. It's a good analysis and is along the lines of what skepticalbip is explaining.

In short, classes don't really exist, but the fundamental schism we do see is usually property ownership vs lack of property ownership. Obviously it's a good bit more complicated than this.

Nor did I mention class in that sense. It's a Red Herring.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
It is specifically collective bargaining that gives them the leverage to negotiate a better deal.

Extortion works. Duh.

Leverage.

Leverage works both ways. If management can capitalize on their leverage, so can workers.

"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor" - Frank Lloyd Wright

As power is more likely to be balanced in favour of management, collective bargaining creates better balance.

That's all. A fairer outcome for the underdog.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,993
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Unions went from bargaining for safe working conditions, pay rates, and benefits to wanting to control business decisions.

Auto unions over tine negotiated essentially unsustainable cradle to grave pensions from car manufacturers. Lifetime medical support.

It is always a dynamic tension in a free market system. All parties try to maximize their situation. Pro athlete unions are a prime example.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
7,304
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
...
"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor" - Frank Lloyd Wright
People can and do capitalize their labor. Their labor is the product that they sell to those who will pay for it. In this case an individual is a business. Antitrust laws had to be passed to prevent businesses from colluding to fix the prices of their products because such collusion was destroying competition and the free market because collusion creates product pricing above 'fair market value'. Individuals (who are their own business) colluding to fix the prices of their product (their labor) by forming a union is no different.
Such collusion was destroying competition when there were three businesses in a market and they all acted as one; it wasn't destroying competition when there were thirty businesses in a market and three of them acted as one. It isn't collusion that destroys competition; it's saturation of the market.

For that matter, when a hundred investors all contribute their money to finance a management team that buys labor from a hundred workers to do some tasks, those investors aren't competing with one another, offering individual workers higher pay to get them to do what each investor wants, or cutting personal deals with workers to make goods for this investor instead of that one. The investors all put up a united front in their negotiations with workers, with each investor agreeing in advance to accept a given percentage of the common profit. We don't call that anticompetitive collusion; we call that a joint stock company. A corporation is just a labor buyers' union. So if labor sellers do the same thing from the other side of the negotiating table, what's the difference? Buying and selling are the same thing: swapping mine for thine. English happens to have a special word "sell" that means "buy" but that we only use when the commodity being bought is money; changing the name doesn't change what's going on.

So I think Wright had it right. A trade union is capitalism in action. There's a reason capitalist countries all have independent trade unions and socialist countries never do. The last time a socialist country tried tolerating a real trade union it brought down the Soviet empire.
You are right that a trade union is a group of individuals that unite to sell their time and skills - essentially forming a business that sells that product. There is no problems with that. The anti-capitalist problem is if they do not allow other individuals that are not in their union to compete with them. Historically, this has been done through extortion of the business to not hire anyone not in the union, and/or threats and intimidation of anyone who would dare to compete with them.

If the trade union competed with other trade unions or other individuals to sell their product then that would be free market capitalism. Otherwise the trade union would be a monopoly.
 
Last edited:

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
As usual, you fail to understand.

The point is that there is nothing holding an individual in a 'class'. There was in the 1800s when Marx set out the basis of your philosophy.


I made no mention of class in the sense you refer to. There are poorly paid jobs that are poorly paid because individual workers have little or no leverage.

Isn't it clear by now that talking about the power imbalance between management and individual workers?

I explained what I meant. I supported what I said....yet you bring up 'class!!'
- You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship -- a self perpetuating autocracy in which the working class is --

- Oh there you go bringing class into it again.

- That's what it's all about; if only people would --

 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
The anti-capitalist problem is if they do not allow other individuals that are not in their union to compete with them. Historically, this has been done through extortion of the business to not hire anyone not in the union, and/or threats and intimidation of anyone who would dare to compete with them.
People call a lot of things "extortion". Historically, Coke won't sell a restaurant Coke products unless the restaurant agrees not to also buy Pepsi products. Is that extortion? Seems to me if a union negotiates a union shop contract with a company agreeing not to buy non-union labor, that's what Coke's doing to the restaurants. But if union members beat up scabs trying to cross the picket line, that's extortion.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
7,304
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
The anti-capitalist problem is if they do not allow other individuals that are not in their union to compete with them. Historically, this has been done through extortion of the business to not hire anyone not in the union, and/or threats and intimidation of anyone who would dare to compete with them.
People call a lot of things "extortion". Historically, Coke won't sell a restaurant Coke products unless the restaurant agrees not to also buy Pepsi products. Is that extortion? Seems to me if a union negotiates a union shop contract with a company agreeing not to buy non-union labor, that's what Coke's doing to the restaurants. But if union members beat up scabs trying to cross the picket line, that's extortion.
The difference being that Coke could only withhold their product unless the restaurant agreed. The restaurant could continue operation with only Pepsi products as many did. The Union threatens to, not only withhold their product, but to shut down the company by not allowing others (scabs) to take the jobs. So yes, that is extortion.

The threat of refusing to sell ones product is a pretty weak "threat" in a free market system where there is competition.

If for some weird reason the restaurant decided to agree to Coke's demand and then later Coke demanded 30% more for their product, the restaurant could say "fuck you", not order any more Coke products and instead order Pepsi, RC, Pop Cola, etc.
 
Last edited:

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
But note that wealth also dissipates over time because most people have more than one child.
Not in the developed world, they don’t. And if current trends continue, that claim will soon be untrue globally.

The Total Fertility Rate in the USA, for example, is 1.70 children per woman, or 0.85 children per parent.

Most people in the USA, Europe, and Australasia have fewer than one child. In the US, people have 85% of a child, on average.

https://ourworldindata.org/fertility-rate
Well, when I took math class 1.70 was greater than 1. Has that changed?
No. But 1.70 is nevertheless less than 2.

When I took a biology class, 2.0 was the expected number of parents per child. Has that changed?

For easy math lets use that 2.0.

How many children? 2
How many grandchildren? 4
How many great grandchildren? 8

See how the wealth gets dispersed even if those generations are good at preserving it?
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
27,725
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
But note that wealth also dissipates over time because most people have more than one child.
Not in the developed world, they don’t. And if current trends continue, that claim will soon be untrue globally.

The Total Fertility Rate in the USA, for example, is 1.70 children per woman, or 0.85 children per parent.

Most people in the USA, Europe, and Australasia have fewer than one child. In the US, people have 85% of a child, on average.

https://ourworldindata.org/fertility-rate
Well, when I took math class 1.70 was greater than 1. Has that changed?
No. But 1.70 is nevertheless less than 2.

When I took a biology class, 2.0 was the expected number of parents per child. Has that changed?

For easy math lets use that 2.0.

How many children? 2
How many grandchildren? 4
How many great grandchildren? 8

See how the wealth gets dispersed even if those generations are good at preserving it?
That 2.0 is the number of ancestors, not the number of descendants.

1.7 is the number of children per mother; That’s 0.85 children per adult.

Try your progression again, using these actual figures, and see that wealth isn’t dispersed at all.

Each generation, the wealth of two parents is passed to their 1.7 children. That’s not dispersing the wealth; It’s concentrating it.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Wealthy school districts with high property taxes have better schools than poor areas. That is a fact. If not class distinctions based on money we can invent a new term.
Except there is little relationship between school district spending and student outcome.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
There are many factors, and a principle factor in keeping wage cost down is leverage. That individual workers lack - unless certain skills are in short supply - the leverage to negotiate a better deal based on market share of the wealth they help to create, rather than poor leverage, therefore poor wages.
Continuing to preach doesn't make it so.

The market dictates the share of the wealth that the workers get, unions move it around between workers but in the long run they don't change the size of the pie. If unions manage to get a larger piece of pie the long term result is companies die off and aren't replaced and the pie shrinks again.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
It is specifically collective bargaining that gives them the leverage to negotiate a better deal.

Extortion works. Duh.

Leverage.

Leverage works both ways. If management can capitalize on their leverage, so can workers.

"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor" - Frank Lloyd Wright

As power is more likely to be balanced in favour of management, collective bargaining creates better balance.

That's all. A fairer outcome for the underdog.
If unions are fair then blacklist must also be fair.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The anti-capitalist problem is if they do not allow other individuals that are not in their union to compete with them. Historically, this has been done through extortion of the business to not hire anyone not in the union, and/or threats and intimidation of anyone who would dare to compete with them.
People call a lot of things "extortion". Historically, Coke won't sell a restaurant Coke products unless the restaurant agrees not to also buy Pepsi products. Is that extortion? Seems to me if a union negotiates a union shop contract with a company agreeing not to buy non-union labor, that's what Coke's doing to the restaurants. But if union members beat up scabs trying to cross the picket line, that's extortion.
That's not comparable. Coke says "You can deal with us or them, not both." The union says "You can only deal with us."

Union power comes from being a monopoly. Monopolies are bad.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
It is specifically collective bargaining that gives them the leverage to negotiate a better deal.

Extortion works. Duh.

Leverage.

Leverage works both ways. If management can capitalize on their leverage, so can workers.

"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor" - Frank Lloyd Wright

As power is more likely to be balanced in favour of management, collective bargaining creates better balance.

That's all. A fairer outcome for the underdog.
If unions are fair then blacklist must also be fair.

How so?
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
As usual, you fail to understand.

The point is that there is nothing holding an individual in a 'class'. There was in the 1800s when Marx set out the basis of your philosophy.


I made no mention of class in the sense you refer to. There are poorly paid jobs that are poorly paid because individual workers have little or no leverage.

Isn't it clear by now that talking about the power imbalance between management and individual workers?

I explained what I meant. I supported what I said....yet you bring up 'class!!'
- You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship -- a self perpetuating autocracy in which the working class is --

- Oh there you go bringing class into it again.

- That's what it's all about; if only people would --



There you guys go, the defenders of excessive wealth in the hands of the world's population, bringing up class again.

Classification is not the same as ''Class'' - someone of average income may come up with a product that generates millions and makes them wealthy, having millions classifies them as millionaires, Having billions classifies someone as a billionaire.

Someone who earns a wage is classified as a worker. That is not their ''Class'' because classification is not a fixed condition.

But of course, defenders of excessive wealth, power in the hands of the few love their Red Herrings.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
It's not hard to grasp:

''When workers unite to call for better wages and conditions, the boss has to listen. That's called collective bargaining - and we need more of it.

There were few decades in the last century when work got worse, not better. But over the last ten years, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Work has become a harsher place, with less pay and less security. 900,000 people are on zero-hours contracts, 8 million people from working households are living in poverty, and the number of people going to food banks has sky-rocketed
People are working hard, but struggling to get by. Why? Because they don’t have enough of a say over their working lives.''

It’s hard for one person alone to challenge bad bosses and bad working conditions.

But if everyone gets together and proposes better wages and working conditions for all, then the boss has to listen.

After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

The bosses know this, so they have to sit down, negotiate and compromise – and everybody wins.

Workers joining together to negotiate with employers is known as collective bargaining. It changes the balance of power in the workplace – and it works.

But collective bargaining rights have been eroded for decades and the law makes it hard to get unions going in new companies.''
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,993
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Amazon warehouse workers today are good examples of where unions came in. Workers on Ford's original assembly lines had the same complaints. Being slaved to an assembly line machine and repetitive task physical problems.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,330
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

So my in-laws who worked 80 hour weeks completely re-vamping and pivoting the strategy of their two businesses to respond to Covid had nothing to do with keeping their businesses profitable? It was all the work of the college students serving tables?

That doesn't sound quite right..
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Messages
507
Location
Western Canada
Basic Beliefs
Non- theist
I have a bit of time to kill this morning so I'm going to draw out a few of my thoughts on this topic.

If we take the textbook definition of capitalism we get:
an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state

The way many of us tend to look at this is that we have ownership of land and property controlled by a few, to the exclusion of many who don't have access to direct profit generated by that land. Fair enough, but is there any other way of looking at capitalism as an economic model?

Lets backtrack a bit and recognize that the survival of any member or group of our species is contingent on the control of land. At no time in our history have we not been in competition for resources, except maybe when our population was so small that we were rarely in direct conflict with each other. IOW, conflict for resources is intrinsic to what it means to be a living thing in a world where those resources are finite. Put yet another way, property 'ownership' has been a thing long before capitalism as an economic model, but up until recently it wasn't quite as legalized, with no corresponding state apparatus.

This is where I like Max Weber's concept of rationalization. That is, the defining feature of our history is that we tend to increasingly rationalize, routinize, and organize how our cultures work. The routines we undergo throughout everyday life, more and more, become subject to calculation. What this can mean is that, in another light, capitalism as an economic model can also be seen as a new stage of rationalization in the organization of property. When there are an overwhelming number of people on the planet, we have to somehow devise a system that approaches fairness in who has access to property and who doesn't. Note, I'm not claiming that the current system is completely fair, but that our current economic model is an attempt at making it more meritocratic. And yes, there are a huge number of exceptions and gotchas and things that don't seem right when we talk property.

Put another way, now the fruits of our labor, market skills, and property can be protected, and accumulated toward the end of owning property. That doesn't mean that all of us are going to have an easy go at it, but at this point in history many are at least entrenched in a system where, in theory, we just have to gain some skills and everything we earn and own can be secured for us. This makes many of our lives more safe and secure, even if we aren't rich business owners.

Going back to the common way of looking at capitalism - that it concentrates power in the hands of the few - I have to wonder if economically we need to recognize that ideals only work in theory, and as a goal, and can't actually exist in practice. I believe Marx, fundamentally, had the right intent and the right (somewhat malformed) idea - that we need to increasingly work towards our communities working for everyone. However, I believe it's more realistic to let go of the idea that a 'perfect society' can actually be achieved. Rather than a hyper-focus on where we ought to be, we need to hyper-focus on knowing how things actually work in the present, so we can guide our economies into the future in a realistic way.

The Marxist stream of thought is what I'd call an 'equalization' philosophy, thought held by those who would benefit from an inversion of current power structures. It's a line of thought that's going to be present in an unequal world, but doesn't necessarily indicate a pragmatic way forward, and may just signify or symbolize current inequality.

That's about all I have for now. I'd love some critiques.
There is something kind of Paleo Conservative about the idea that we are destined to be in direct competetion for resources. I don't believe in the idea that because at points in our evolution we exhibited trait A (in this case is product of our environment), we therefore must accept that as core to our being, and future being - for better or worse, ie: Trait A defines our species and behavior.

There will be, and should be new ways of going about things.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,330
There is something kind of Paleo Conservative about the idea that we are destined to be in direct competetion for resources. I don't believe in the idea that because at points in our evolution we exhibited trait A (in this case is product of our environment), we therefore must accept that as core to our being, and future being - for better or worse, ie: Trait A defines our species and behavior.

There will be, and should be new ways of going about things.

We're not competitive just because it's a genetic trait, we're competitive because that's what reality requires. That doesn't mean we don't also co-operate or that competitiveness is core to our nature, but we do live in a world with finite resources. The idea that someday we'll be able to transcend this is a bit anthropocentric.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,993
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Plant species compete for light and nutrients, albeit in slow motion.

Competition goes all the back to the earliest civilizations. War over trade and resources along with nationalism. Greeks vs Persians. Rome vs Barbarians.

The Europen and North American idea post WWII was to comet but do it civily without destructive conflict. Russia and China are in the old conflict and conquest mind set. Neither want to see themselves as working in cooperation with the west.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

So my in-laws who worked 80 hour weeks completely re-vamping and pivoting the strategy of their two businesses to respond to Covid had nothing to do with keeping their businesses profitable? It was all the work of the college students serving tables?

That doesn't sound quite right..

Of course there is more than one factor that makes a business profitable. A small family business may do well without needing to employ anyone, but that's not the point here. Which is, a profitable business may not be paying their workers fair market value of their input into making the business (one that requires workers) profitable.

Not necessarily because they cannot afford to offer better pay and conditions, but management, wanting to keep costs low, see no reason to do it.

It's only when the balance of power becomes more equatable for their workers - collective bargaining - that they are able to negotiate a better deal.

Human nature 101.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,330
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

So my in-laws who worked 80 hour weeks completely re-vamping and pivoting the strategy of their two businesses to respond to Covid had nothing to do with keeping their businesses profitable? It was all the work of the college students serving tables?

That doesn't sound quite right..

Of course there is more than one factor that makes a business profitable.

Perhaps you could explore those factors, rather than repeating the claim that 'it's workers who generate the wealth of a company'.
 

steve_bank

Diabetic retinopathy and poor eyesight. Typos ...
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
9,993
Location
seattle
Basic Beliefs
secular-skeptic
Bosses don't do work? A childish immature ignorant view.

Most people have no idea what it takes to get a company going and keep it going.
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
8,685
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Bosses don't do work? A childish immature ignorant view.

Most people have no idea what it takes to get a company going and keep it going.
They don't generate the wealth of the company. That's not the same thing as "not working". Management is important, but it isn't the actual product of any company.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
7,304
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

So my in-laws who worked 80 hour weeks completely re-vamping and pivoting the strategy of their two businesses to respond to Covid had nothing to do with keeping their businesses profitable? It was all the work of the college students serving tables?

That doesn't sound quite right..

Of course there is more than one factor that makes a business profitable. A small family business may do well without needing to employ anyone, but that's not the point here. Which is, a profitable business may not be paying their workers fair market value of their input into making the business (one that requires workers) profitable.
And how do you arrive at the workers' "fair market value"? It isn't what the worker would like to make and it isn't what the employer would like to pay. It is the value that the worker will willingly accept and the price the employer will willingly pay in a free market. If there is no free market for labor then labor uses extortion to set the price. If there is no free market for jobs offered then the employer uses extortion to set the price. Extortion does not arrive at a "fair market value".

There is a serious threat to the free market if a labor union monopolizes labor or a business monopolizes available jobs. Either leads to extortion and abuse. Essentially, you can't use free market terms like "fair market value" when advocating the use of extortion (threats to shut the business down) when 'negotiating' wages.
Not necessarily because they cannot afford to offer better pay and conditions, but management, wanting to keep costs low, see no reason to do it.
In a free market system, management has to keep costs low to keep prices low so they can successfully compete with the competition. Failure to do so means bankruptcy... which means the management and workers will no longer have an income.
 
Last edited:

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,330
I'm not too invested in this conversation, because we're straying from the original post. But the best you can likely say is that a company as an interrelated whole is responsible for the wealth it generates. But, in addition, those higher up the ladder tend to be more heavily invested in that company.

Sticking with the example of my in-laws, their livelihood, and the livelihood of a few others, literally depends on their businesses. If they go out of business they are, to put it impolitely, fucked. The front-line workers for their businesses don't bear any of this risk, they are free to come and go at any time they like. They can start their own businesses, they can go back to school, or work for anyone they want to. While my in-laws market skill literally is business ownership. They reap great financial benefits, but they also lose out on significant time, and have minimal alternative options.

I have nothing against a fair deal between employees / business owners, but I'm also interested in actually progressing the conversation, rather than repeating dead points, thread after thread.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
There is something kind of Paleo Conservative about the idea that we are destined to be in direct competetion for resources.
This has it kind of backwards. Competition is what gives people a reason to make progress. Getting rid of competition is a way to make it practical to keep a society static. Can't get much more paleoconservative than that.

There will be, and should be new ways of going about things.
Well, a species with a hive mind wouldn't compete. Is that what you think we should go for?

Short of that, if we don't compete, then that means there's an overriding goal we all cooperate in pursuit of -- some common goal we all subordinate our individual goals to. Is there some goal you think people could all agree to make their top priority?

Short of that, if we all cooperate in pursuit of some goal and subordinate our individual goals to it even though some of us don't think the collective goal ought to be our top priority, who should get to decide which people get to make their goal the common collective goal, and which people have to cooperate in pursuing a goal that isn't their own?

I.e., have you thought this through? Why do you think a new way of going about things without competition is something there should be? It sounds to me like it would be a dystopian nightmare.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Bosses don't do work? ... Most people have no idea what it takes to get a company going and keep it going.
They don't generate the wealth of the company.
Why do you believe that? Is it an article of faith? A deduction from premises? An inductive conclusion derived from experiments?

That's not the same thing as "not working". Management is important, but it isn't the actual product of any company.
Is that your reason? If that's a reason to think managers don't generate the wealth of the company then it's an equal reason to think laborers don't generate the wealth of the company. Labor isn't the actual product of any company either except maybe the Kelly Girl corporation.

After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.
Is that your reason to believe it? Without the bosses, everything would grind to a halt too, except in the tiniest operations.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,330
There is something kind of Paleo Conservative about the idea that we are destined to be in direct competetion for resources.
This has it kind of backwards. Competition is what gives people a reason to make progress. Getting rid of competition is a way to make it practical to keep a society static. Can't get much more paleoconservative than that.

There will be, and should be new ways of going about things.
Well, a species with a hive mind wouldn't compete. Is that what you think we should go for?

Short of that, if we don't compete, then that means there's an overriding goal we all cooperate in pursuit of -- some common goal we all subordinate our individual goals to. Is there some goal you think people could all agree to make their top priority?

Short of that, if we all cooperate in pursuit of some goal and subordinate our individual goals to it even though some of us don't think the collective goal ought to be our top priority, who should get to decide which people get to make their goal the common collective goal, and which people have to cooperate in pursuing a goal that isn't their own?

I.e., have you thought this through? Why do you think a new way of going about things without competition is something there should be? It sounds to me like it would be a dystopian nightmare.

Another flaw to this line of thinking is the belief that when we get to our theoretical situation where everyone is provided for adequately, that people will be satiated and not want more for themselves. That's not really how human nature works. We have productive energy and, at least the ambitious among us, always want to be more productive, to be better, to have more.

If you want to talk co-operation the state system is already doing a pretty good job of levelling things out. You basically just need to exist and can make a wage if you want to. But within individual states there is still a fight for property, jobs, sexual partners etc etc. And between states there is obvious conflict as well.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
It is specifically collective bargaining that gives them the leverage to negotiate a better deal.

Extortion works. Duh.

Leverage.

Leverage works both ways. If management can capitalize on their leverage, so can workers.

"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor" - Frank Lloyd Wright

As power is more likely to be balanced in favour of management, collective bargaining creates better balance.

That's all. A fairer outcome for the underdog.
If unions are fair then blacklist must also be fair.

How so?
Union: We workers will act as one rather than many.
Blacklist: We employers will act as one rather than many.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

After all, it's the engine that moves the car. The idiot in the driver's seat has nothing to do with the car being useful.
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
27,725
Location
The Sunshine State: The one with Crocs, not Gators
Gender
He/Him
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
A small but all powerful committee, often dominated by a single person with many job titles, makes all the decisions.

All buying and selling is centrally planned, as is all productive activity.

The people actually doing the work have no say regarding policy, nor any influence on who is appointed to positions of power; Such appointments are made by those higher up in the structure, often on the basis of personal friendships rather than ability or suitability.

Work is performed according to quotas set by the hierarchy, with only the performance against the specific targets and measures imposed being considered as important; Actually doing the right thing is always subordinate to achieving the required numbers.

Any hint of dissent is stamped out; People who question the way things are done, or the suitability of those in power to be in their positions, are tagged as troublemakers, kept under close surveillance, and if (or when) they break any of the myriad rules, are ruthlessly disposed of.

If those at the bottom don’t end up with enough to survive, that’s of no particular concern to those who are able to carve out a successful niche for themselves.

The USSR was a terrible place to live; But the above is in fact a description of every large corporation in today’s America. They claim to hate communism, but they practice it as effectively as Joe Stalin.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DBT

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
7,304
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
A small but all powerful committee, often dominated by a single person with many job titles, makes all the decisions.

All buying and selling is centrally planned, as is all productive activity.

The people actually doing the work have no say regarding policy, nor any influence on who is appointed to positions of power; Such appointments are made by those higher up in the structure, often on the basis of personal friendships rather than ability or suitability.

Work is performed according to quotas set by the hierarchy, with only the performance against the specific targets and measures imposed being considered as important; Actually doing the right thing is always subordinate to achieving the required numbers.

Any hint of dissent is stamped out; People who question the way things are done, or the suitability of those in power to be in their positions, are tagged as troublemakers, kept under close surveillance, and if (or when) they break any of the myriad rules, are ruthlessly disposed of.

If those at the bottom don’t end up with enough to survive, that’s of no particular concern to those who are able to carve out a successful niche for themselves.

The USSR was a terrible place to live; But the above is in fact a description of every large corporation in today’s America. They claim to hate communism, but they practice it as effectively as Joe Stalin.
There are similarities and differences:

In one case the quotas are set by a central committee. In the other quotas are set by consumer demand. In a free market economy production goals are important but so is quality and standards as the product has to be accepted by the consumer. Under the Soviets, quality was unimportant if it interfered with meeting the quota. The consumer had to accept a defective product or do without because there was no competition in the USSR but in a market economy the consumer is free to reject defective products and buy the competitor's products.

In the USSR dissidents were imprisoned while in a market economy they are fired and free to find other employment.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

So my in-laws who worked 80 hour weeks completely re-vamping and pivoting the strategy of their two businesses to respond to Covid had nothing to do with keeping their businesses profitable? It was all the work of the college students serving tables?

That doesn't sound quite right..

Of course there is more than one factor that makes a business profitable.

Perhaps you could explore those factors, rather than repeating the claim that 'it's workers who generate the wealth of a company'.

The whole point of contention is related to wage rates in relation to marginalized workers who are powerless to negotiate a better rate of pay and conditions on their own.

That some businesses are profitable without needing to employ anyone is not an issue.

That some profitable businesses are paying their workers a fair market share for their input is not an issue.

The problem lies in the area where workers are essentially being poorly paid because of the described power imbalance between employer and employee.
 

DBT

Contributor
Joined
May 2, 2003
Messages
13,262
Location
ɹǝpunuʍop puɐן
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

After all, it's the engine that moves the car. The idiot in the driver's seat has nothing to do with the car being useful.

That has nothing much to do with what I said. There is no car to run unless it is first built. The car, once built, won't run for long without refueling and maintenance.

The idiot in the drivers seat drives the car in whatever direction he sees fit.

The idiot in the drivers seat needs a network of support to get things done.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
People call a lot of things "extortion". Historically, Coke won't sell a restaurant Coke products unless the restaurant agrees not to also buy Pepsi products. Is that extortion? Seems to me if a union negotiates a union shop contract with a company agreeing not to buy non-union labor, that's what Coke's doing to the restaurants. But if union members beat up scabs trying to cross the picket line, that's extortion.
The difference being that Coke could only withhold their product unless the restaurant agreed. The restaurant could continue operation with only Pepsi products as many did. The Union threatens to, not only withhold their product, but to shut down the company by not allowing others (scabs) to take the jobs. So yes, that is extortion.
The union can only withhold their product. The union has no authority to stop scabs from taking the jobs. Sure, they'd like to; but then Coke would like to stop Pepsi from supplying Pepsi products. It's government's job to make sure nobody else uses force and to refuse bribes to use its own force on behalf of one side or another.

The threat of refusing to sell ones product is a pretty weak "threat" in a free market system where there is competition.
Exactly. A union isn't extortion per se. Certain union tactics are extortion. Those tactics are popular with a lot of unionists -- people have been singing folk songs for about two hundred years celebrating beating up scabs -- but then certain corporate tactics are extortion and those tactics are popular with a lot of businessmen too. What a surprise -- people tend to be biased in their own favor. It's why the world needs neutral judges.

If for some weird reason the restaurant decided to agree to Coke's demand and then later Coke demanded 30% more for their product, the restaurant could say ...
If for some weird reason* an employer decided to agree to a union shop and then later the union demanded 30% more for labor, if the original contract hasn't run out the employer can go to one of those neutral judges and get an injunction against the illegal strike; and if the contract has run out the employer can fire the lot them and hire a whole new workforce.

(* And the reason isn't that weird. Employers agree to union shops when the alternative is telling the union to go to hell, getting a strike, and having to choose between shutting down for the duration or shutting down for however long it takes to hire a whole new workforce. It's the same reason Boeing agrees when Rolls-Royce jacks up jet engine prices.)

People call a lot of things "extortion". Historically, Coke won't sell a restaurant Coke products unless the restaurant agrees not to also buy Pepsi products. ...
That's not comparable. Coke says "You can deal with us or them, not both." The union says "You can only deal with us."

Union power comes from being a monopoly. Monopolies are bad.
But the union isn't a monopoly. There are thousands of unions, and billions of non-union laborers. Unions would love to say "You can only deal with us.", just like Coke would, but they have no authority to make it stick. They can make switching to another supplier a pain in the ass; but then saying bye-bye to Coke and making a deal with Pepsi is a pain in the ass too.

If unions are fair then blacklist must also be fair.
How so?
Union: We workers will act as one rather than many.
Blacklist: We employers will act as one rather than many.
Union: We 0.01% of workers will act as one rather than many.
Blacklist: We 100% of employers will act as one rather than many.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
It's not hard to grasp:

''When workers unite
The linked article is entitled "Collective bargaining - what is it and why it means higher pay for everyone".

to call for better wages and conditions, the boss has to listen. That's called collective bargaining - and we need more of it.
...
But if everyone gets together and proposes better wages and working conditions for all, then the boss has to listen.
...
The bosses know this, so they have to sit down, negotiate and compromise – and everybody wins.
Ms. Williamson is peddling lies. That's called propaganda and we need less of it. Collective bargaining is not "everyone gets together and proposes better wages and working conditions for all". Collective bargaining is "we get together and propose better wages and working conditions for us", and she bloody well knows it. The whole point of a union is to drive up the price of labor by eliminating competition. That means higher pay for those who have jobs; it means lower pay for those who can't get a job any more because they've been stopped from competing for one. The promise of higher pay for everyone is a lie.
 

Bomb#20

Contributor
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
6,431
Location
California
Gender
It's a free country.
Basic Beliefs
Rationalism
Any hint of dissent is stamped out; People who question the way things are done, or the suitability of those in power to be in their positions, are tagged as troublemakers, kept under close surveillance, and if (or when) they break any of the myriad rules, are ruthlessly disposed of.
Where "ruthlessly disposed of" means "shot".

The USSR was a terrible place to live; But the above is in fact a description of every large corporation in today’s America.
Only if we presume that "ruthlessly disposed of" means "shot", and we presume "no longer bought from" means "ruthlessly disposed of", and deduce that "no longer bought from" equals "shot".

They claim to hate communism, but they practice it as effectively as Joe Stalin.
... In the USSR dissidents were imprisoned while in a market economy they are fired and free to find other employment.
^^^^ This ^^^^. One of the ironic but endlessly repeated tropes of anticapitalist propaganda is that the propagandist portrays a competitive capitalist enterprise as though it were a monopoly, precisely because that makes it look awful, even though the alternative noncapitalist society the propagandist is trying to persuade people to embrace really would turn into a monopoly.
 

Elixir

Made in America
Joined
Sep 23, 2012
Messages
20,842
Location
Mountains
Basic Beliefs
English is complicated
They claim to hate communism, but they practice it as effectively as Joe Stalin.
... In the USSR dissidents were imprisoned while in a market economy they are fired and free to find other employment.
^^^^ This ^^^^. One of the ironic but endlessly repeated tropes of anticapitalist propaganda is that the propagandist portrays a competitive capitalist enterprise as though it were a monopoly, precisely because that makes it look awful, even though the alternative noncapitalist society the propagandist is trying to persuade people to embrace really would turn into a monopoly.

That is one reason why total anticapitalism is a fringe idea, as is corrupt totalitarian capitalism (now, Trumpism).
Either or both could be nigh and they both lead to monopoly, but I'd bet on totalitarianism due to its historical record of (short term at least) success in these situations.
The American experiment has semi-successfully endured or balanced these extremes for a couple of centuries plus, but it sure looks dicey now.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The USSR was a terrible place to live; But the above is in fact a description of every large corporation in today’s America. They claim to hate communism, but they practice it as effectively as Joe Stalin.
There's one fundamental difference.

In the USSR there was only one option. In capitalism there are many such people, you can choose to go with the ones that make it work properly. A company that is too bad to it's workers won't have workers, a company that is too bad to it's customers won't have customers.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The whole point of contention is related to wage rates in relation to marginalized workers who are powerless to negotiate a better rate of pay and conditions on their own.

That some businesses are profitable without needing to employ anyone is not an issue.

That some profitable businesses are paying their workers a fair market share for their input is not an issue.

The problem lies in the area where workers are essentially being poorly paid because of the described power imbalance between employer and employee.
Wages are set by supply and demand. Just look at what has been happening to the market now that Covid has take out a lot of workers.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
After all, it’s workers who generate the wealth of a company, not the bosses. Without them, everything would grind to a halt.

After all, it's the engine that moves the car. The idiot in the driver's seat has nothing to do with the car being useful.

That has nothing much to do with what I said. There is no car to run unless it is first built. The car, once built, won't run for long without refueling and maintenance.

The idiot in the drivers seat drives the car in whatever direction he sees fit.

The idiot in the drivers seat needs a network of support to get things done.
I was comparing the workers trying to cast off management to the car trying to cast off the driver. Both work about as well.
 

Loren Pechtel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 16, 2000
Messages
36,687
Location
Nevada
Gender
Yes
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The threat of refusing to sell ones product is a pretty weak "threat" in a free market system where there is competition.
Exactly. A union isn't extortion per se. Certain union tactics are extortion. Those tactics are popular with a lot of unionists -- people have been singing folk songs for about two hundred years celebrating beating up scabs -- but then certain corporate tactics are extortion and those tactics are popular with a lot of businessmen too. What a surprise -- people tend to be biased in their own favor. It's why the world needs neutral judges.

If the union threat were simply to quit you would be right. The union threat is deliberately designed to disrupt the company, though--that makes it extortion.

People call a lot of things "extortion". Historically, Coke won't sell a restaurant Coke products unless the restaurant agrees not to also buy Pepsi products. ...
That's not comparable. Coke says "You can deal with us or them, not both." The union says "You can only deal with us."

Union power comes from being a monopoly. Monopolies are bad.
But the union isn't a monopoly. There are thousands of unions, and billions of non-union laborers. Unions would love to say "You can only deal with us.", just like Coke would, but they have no authority to make it stick. They can make switching to another supplier a pain in the ass; but then saying bye-bye to Coke and making a deal with Pepsi is a pain in the ass too.
It's not all workers, it's all workers with certain skills. And in that regard they are sometimes a total monopoly.

Union: We 0.01% of workers will act as one rather than many.
Blacklist: We 100% of employers will act as one rather than many.
Union: In some situations they are 100% of the relevant workforce.
 
Top Bottom