Category Archives: Government Issues

the root of the problem

Capitalism

Capitalism

The below is a decent description on Capitalism via Wikipedia:

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

Economists, political economists, sociologists and historians have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free-market capitalism, welfare capitalism and state capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership, obstacles to free competition and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets, the role of intervention and regulation, and the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism. The extent to which different markets are free as well as the rules defining private property are matters of politics and policy. Most existing capitalist economies are mixed economies which combine elements of free markets with state intervention and in some cases economic planning.”

If you want to read a terrific view of the evolution of capitalism and predictions for the future please consider “Capitalism” by Thomas Pikkety. My view is that the owners of capital tend control the distribution of both income and wealth. Numerous decades ago, the primary source of capital was land. The owners of the land (primarily the Royals) controlled the living conditions of the masses. Today Capital is primarily controlled by major corporations and the top .1% of the wealthiest families (the Nuevo Royals).

There is no question the Nuevo Royals have been more generous with income & wealth distribution and are responsible for the emergence of the “middle class” and a significant reduction in the size of the lowest income segment. When land ownership ruled the day there were basically the Royals & their appointees and the peasants.

Can the middle class make a case that make a case that they are reaping their fair share of income and wealth accumulation? I think so, but I think there is a stronger case for the lowest 50% income group. I have addressed this topic in numerous prior posts. When a family has absolutely no chance to participate in our capitalistic system. In reality they do not have the income to satisfy the basic needs that the middle class takes for granted without some form of subsidy; Food, housing, transportation & healthcare.

I will leave you with this final thought. Most alarming to me is that many of the CEOs of major corporations make 500 times as much (and more) compensation than the average compensation of their employees. Is this fair to the middle-class worker?

Single Issue voters

Single Issue voters

I contend that voters on the political extremes tend to make a voting decision based on one single issue. Using the right to life vs abortion issue as an example I venture to say that as many as 40% of voters will vote based upon this single issue. It will not matter if you consider yourself a liberal or a conservative, this issue controls your vote. There are several other issues that control votes (probably to a lesser extent). Examples are: gun control (for some conservatives), climate change (for many liberals), etc.

It does not really matter if a candidate is unethical, immoral or incompetent as long as he or she adopts a position that agrees with the single-issue voter. It doesn’t even matter if the candidate really believes in the position, it is enough that he or she publicly adopts the stance.

This situation further enhances the increasing polarization that is contaminating our political process. There are many issues that we can come together on: Healthcare reform, budget control & reform, infrastructure improvement/ maintenance, etc.

Single issue voters are a reality and I think there is little that can be done to mitigate their numbers. It’s a political reality that most candidates recognize. The task then becomes to determine what will appeal to the majority of the remaining voters.

The Population issue and how it concerns us in the near term

The Population issue and how it concerns us in the near term

Based on the estimates by the experts that study and analyze population and based on current technology the Earth’s resources have the ability to “sustain” somewhere between 3 & 5 billion people. What this means, with a population exceeding 7 billion we are using up our resources at an alarming rate. Current projections show that the world’s population will be just short of 10 billion in 2050!

In the past, we have believed that one significant measure of a country’s success is growth in the economy. When we examine this view along with population growth it becomes evident that this belief is not sustainable without creating conflict among countries. As resources dwindle countries will become more protective of the resources they have and they will be much less willing to share. Competition for resources will eventually lead to a significant increase in armed conflicts!

Currently, in the US the death rate is slightly higher than the birth rate which I view as positive. The downside is that there are fewer persons working to support the retirement funds that seniors rely on, especially when the numbers in the senior group continue to increase. You might think that the seniors have paid into Social Security and they are merely getting what they put in returned. Unfortunately, that is not the case, but that is a topic for yet another post to this blog.

Fortunately, we do have a modest growth rate in workforce availability via immigration. Looking forward we must come up with more feasible measures of success that do not rely on depleting resources. I would suggest that both productivity and quality of life are worth considering.