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For those who lie on the extreme ends of the capitalist/socialist spectrum, the answer is black and white. For those who favor a balance between the two ideals, there is a threshold at which redistributing wealth from the rich to do the poor may be unfair (assuming the rich deserve their wealth), or may actually hurt poor people (assuming the rich skillfully manage the job-creating businesses and investments they own). Has that threshold been crossed?
Debate in Australia rages over whether the current Labor Government plan to spend $37 billion on a National Broadband Network (NBN) is the best use of the Government resources. The ruling Labor party on the advice of their experts won the 2010 election under the mantra: Do it once, do it right, do it with fibre. The NBN will roll fibre to the home (FTTH) to 93% of Australian homes, and all towns with more than 1,000 premises, and supply wireless or satellite to the rest.
Would it be feasible for all of us to work a lot less, or is the concept a pipe-dream? Some suggest that by working less, we could increase our productivity per hour, and have a happier life. Others suggest that the idea is an economically naive socialist fantasy, and that although people complain about excessive work, it's ultimately a sacrifice people are prepared to make for, amongst other things, material wealth, status, and their children.
Gold is often seen as a safe investment, especially during economically uncertain periods. However, some investors and economists believe that investing in gold is highly speculative.
It is frequently claimed that you can't put a price on life. However, this view is somewhat contradicted by our real-world institutions, such as healthcare, insurance, and justice, which often do precisely that. Is putting a price tag on a person justified?
The success rates for entrepreneurs are notoriously low. Furthermore, the reasons for their failure often seem quite predictable. This would seem to indicate that the typical entrepreneur, if they rationally assessed their business endeavor, would be better off being an employee.
Prediction markets allow people to bet money on predictions, with the purpose of providing more accurate predictions for policy and business analysts. Prediction markets are often contrasted with alternative methods used to tap collective intelligence, such as expert committees. Advocates of prediction markets claim that prediction markets are more accurate than their alternatives, but are underutilized due to irrational concerns regarding their accuracy, as well as susceptibility to subversion.
The two main competing strategies for lowering carbon emissions are a Cap and Trade system and a carbon tax. A Cap and Trade system works by having a government issue a capped number of carbon credits to companies, where the more polluting companies that exceed their quota must buy carbon credits from the less polluting companies that sell their unused quota. Some of its critics suggest that carbon taxation is simpler and that a Cap and Trade system can be gamed and subverted.
Economic sanctions punitively restrict trade with a country as a result of a political disagreement. Critics of the approach suggest that it doesn't achieve the desired effect.
It is notoriously difficult to outperform the market. This concept is best formalized by the Efficient Market Hypothesis which is based on the insight that the price of a stock continually incorporates all the information that rational investors have access to. The theory is used to explain why actively managed funds over the long run typically fail to outperform an index.
Robin Hanson
This seems to me a common situation – things said to be critiques of capitalism are often just critiques of humanity. Humans vie selfishly and self-deludedly for status. Some succeed, while others fail. The struggle, and the failures, aren’t pretty. Yes capitalism inherits this ugliness, but then so does any other system with humans.
Historically, capitalism has fostered freedom and an increase in the standard of living and human rights, and vice versa. Societies that have tried non-capitalist systems inevitably fall into tyranny.
Ron Paul
Free trade is not a zero-sum game where some countries benefit and others inevitably suffer. On the contrary, true free trade by definition benefits both parties. Free trade is the process of free people engaging in market activity without government interference such as tariffs or managed-trade agreements. In a true free market, individuals and companies do business voluntarily, which means they believe they will be better off as a result of a transaction.
Robin Hanson
We want a system where stuff is produced by the lowest cost suppliers and goes to the buyers who value it the most. If some supplier offers to sell stuff to folks at a lower price, well then we want folks to switch to buying from that supplier. ... This logic applies just as well to distant nations as it does to a convenience store down the street. Don't be fooled into treating [foreigners] differently because you were built to fear foreigners.
Ann Coulter
Obama plans to pay for his $3.6 trillion-dollar spending bill by raising taxes on "the rich." I know, I know ... I was pretty shocked, too. The bad news is, by hiking taxes in a recession, Obama will turn a disaster into a catastrophe.
Bill Maher
Between the years 1980 and 2005, 80% of all new income generated in this country went to the richest 1%. Let me put that in terms that even you fat-ass teabaggers understand. Say 100 Americans get together and orders a 100-slice pizza. The pizza arrives, they open the box and the first guy takes 80 slices. And if someone suggests "why don't you just just take 79 slices?". "THAT'S SOCIALISM!".
Donald Trump
The plan I am proposing today does not involve smoke and mirrors, phony numbers, financial gimmicks, or the usual economic chicanery you usually find in DisneylandonthePotomac. [Trump, a prospective candidate for the Reform Party presidential nomination, is proposing a onetime net worth tax on individuals and trusts worth 10 million or more. By Trumps calculations, his proposed 14.25 percent levy on such net worth would raise 5.7 trillion and wipe out the debt in one full swoop.]
Robin Hanson
Me, I celebrate these new worthier elites. We aren’t obviously justified in taking their wealth, however convenient that might be, and they might manage to avoid such takings via international competition to attract them. The US seems a bit too arrogantly unaware that we compete on this and many other margins.
Sam Harris
I’ve written before about the crisis of inequality in the United States and about the quasi-religious abhorrence of “wealth redistribution” that causes many Americans to oppose tax increases, even on the ultra rich. The conviction that taxation is intrinsically evil has achieved a sadomasochistic fervor in conservative circles—producing the Tea Party, their Republican zombies, and increasingly terrifying failures of governance.

New Comments

0 Points       dionisos       22 Aug 2016     Is capitalism good? Disagree
It can’t be good nor bad in itself.
It could be better or worse than another economical system, given a particular ethical system.

I think there is a lot of better economical systems than capitalist. (given most consequentialist ethics).

0 Points       Side Effect       08 May 2015     Does money make you happy? (specifically: absolute spending power) General Comment

0 Points       Nashhinton       21 Apr 2013     Does relative wealth make us happier than absolute wealth? Agree
Studies tend to show that relative wealth leads to excessive happiness because it behaves like a point system. That's why we shouldn't simply redistribute wealth through taxation to establish unwarranted egalitarianism, but we should rather provide basic services and opportunities to citizens to increase their motivations to succeed. We need universal college education, job training, universal healthcare (healthy citizens are happy) etc., or any other type of mechanism to encourage citizens to work to eventually accumulate wealth on their own and stimulate the economy. We must ensure that citizens can easily move to the top of the ladder without obstacles, fairly, and without wide disparities of difficulty levels. It may lead to happiness, but it's immoral to accumulate and safeguard vast quantities of wealth in a vault somewhere without using it to stimulate future economic growth. I'm an ethical socialist who promotes a free competitive market and a large work ethic.

0 Points       Nashhinton       20 Apr 2013     Do we work unnecessarily long hours? Mostly Disagree
People should work their asses off. That's what stimulates the economy.

0 Points       Nashhinton       20 Apr 2013     Does government spending help mitigate a recession? Mostly Agree
When the government spends more, there is usually more spending on infrastructure which increases employment. Providing financial assistance to failing businesses and financially desperate individuals (through indirect or direct means) lowers prices, increases consumer confidence and increases productivity. I personally believe we should create tax breaks for the lower classes to stimulate consumer confidence and increase income mobility. I would also want to see taxes raised on the wealthy to slightly reduce the deficit after spending on infrastructure. This increased taxation will also prevent the establishment of a plutocracy, which would severely undermine democracy.

Also, instead of redistributing wealth through welfare, which hardly stimulates the economy at all, we should instead focus on providing people more job opportunities by transferring people (who are fully able to work and who are dependent on welfare) to work for a living. I personally believe that workfare is an ideal alternative than welfare. Though I do advocate helping people, I personally support the idea that you should teach the person to help themselves. That's why we should increase government funding for job training facilities and increase employment incentives. Hence the famous phrase: "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime"

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Is substantially reducing CO2 emissions worthwhile? Agree
Whether or not it is possible to reverse global warming by reducing CO₂ emissions, there is good reason to believe we should be trying regardless. At the very least, I haven’t seen any good arguments for not reducing CO₂ emissions.

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Do we work unnecessarily long hours? Agree
Yes. We need less full‐time work, more part‐time work, more jobshares, resulting in more places available for new employees, and less unemployment.

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Are America's rich taxed enough? Disagree
For me to say yes to this, either a point must be reached where everyone can afford a decent living, or everyone must be equally wealthy (I think the former would be reached a long time before the latter), but it seems clear that this won’t happen any time soon, so I disagree.

0 Points       TheSentinel       30 Jan 2013     Is capitalism good? General Comment
wow, didnt even know about those. nice post!

0 Points       TheSentinel       30 Jan 2013     Is capitalism good? General Comment
or you will need to fight, and the lion has been training hard to fight on his own, that is why he is strong. The Hyenas can laugh but the Lion will roar feircly and scare the cowards away.

0 Points       TheSentinel       30 Jan 2013     Is capitalism good? General Comment
benefits were earned buddy. They are not simply given. Also "anti-sharing act"? Try " you get what you work for". How many people are born into wealth and keep it all by spending like crazy and not working? none, you have to work hard to make and keep your money. They dont have to share what they worked very hard for. Especially with someone like you who is ungrateful for what he has, you wouldnt even be grateful if they did share it with you.

0 Points       TheSentinel       30 Jan 2013     Is capitalism good? General Comment
well said, that is a very honest statement on Capitalisms strengths and weaknesses. Like you, I belive that a balanced system is good. However I also agree with having more economic control being left with the nature of people in the private sector.

Economics Question Index

Is free trade generally beneficial for a country?
Is capitalism good?
Are America's rich taxed enough?
Is a National Broadband Network for Australia good value at $37 billion?
Would the typical entrepreneur be better off as an employee?
Is substantially reducing CO2 emissions worthwhile?
Does minimum wage help the poor?
Does government spending help mitigate a recession?
Is there a housing bubble in Australia?
Do we work unnecessarily long hours?
Does money make you happy? (specifically: absolute spending power)
Are biofuels good?
Is gold a good hedge?
Does relative wealth make us happier than absolute wealth?
Can you put a price on life?
Is development aid to Africa effective?
Is peak oil imminent?
Does Cap and Trade beat carbon tax for reducing emissions?
Was the US government's $700 billion bailout ultimately good for the taxpayer?
Is efficient market theory the best approximation of the truth for the average investor?
Does economic inequality cause crime?
Will energy scarcity cause a severe world depression?
Are prediction markets the most accurate way to aggregate expert predictions?
Could rising health and retirement costs bankrupt the US?
Do economic sanctions work?
Can nuclear power be economically competitive with other major energy sources?
Did the Fed bailout Bear Stearns to benefit the taxpayer?
Is there a housing bubble in the United States?
Is reduced affordability causing a housing bubble in Australia?
Do Australia's land and housing regulations choke supply?
Should the US Government bail out car companies?
Will Australia enter a recession before 2010?
Is the US Federal Reserve to blame for the 2008 financial crisis?
Will Australia's Housing Affordability Fund work?
Will there be a global recession before 2010?
Is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a huge risk to the economy?
Is the world economy largely decoupled from the United States?
Should financial firms be strictly limited in their ability to leverage capital?
Should the Federal Reserve have bailed out Long Term Capital Management?
Will oil prices surge over the next year?
Has socioeconomic mobility taken place in India since 1990?
Do software patents stifle innovation?