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Thread: The Real Villain Behind Our New Gilded Age

  1. #11
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigLeRoy View Post
    You know, people should actually READ the guy, instead of just talking about him all the time.
    I am embarrassed to say that I have not read Wealth of Nations...
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  2. #12
    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by publius3 View Post
    So where's the collusion. Essentially you're suggesting that employers are colluding to bolster their profits by agreeing to underpay workers.

    "Two centuries earlier, Adam Smith pointed out that the easiest way for businesses to earn profits is not by slashing costs and innovating but by agreeing among themselves not to compete to exert market power to raise prices or lower wages."

    And let's take a look at the poster child for Golded Age trusts - John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil. And there's no question with the Southern Improvement Company that he attempted to essentially make a cartel. See the response to that. After that of course he started vertically integrated and he became a very large concern. What's interesting though is that by the time he was ordered to divest his market share had fallen, there were hundreds of refineries competing against him. And interesting the price of kerosene had fallen dramatically.
    They don't have to collude like that. What they've done is to get the US Congress and lots of state and local governments to pass laws that favor them. Until we make changes to campaign finance laws that's not likely to change.
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    I am embarrassed to say that I have not read Wealth of Nations...
    I've only read pieces from that work. But The Theory of Moral Sentiments (which is more wide ranging and possibly more interesting) I've read with great interest.
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  4. #14
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    I've only read pieces from that work. But The Theory of Moral Sentiments (which is more wide ranging and possibly more interesting) I've read with great interest.
    Interesting. It also appears that it was foundational to all his later works, including Wealth of Nations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    I am embarrassed to say that I have not read Wealth of Nations...
    Do the invisible hand excerpt which will take 30 seconds: Invisible Hand Excerpt from WEALTH OF NATIONS

    Of course I'm not saying NOT to read it but time is short of course!
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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babba View Post
    This opinion piece is spot on. We have forgotten the lessons of the early 20th century and the people have been convinced by the elite that those lessons don't apply today. But they're constant truths that apply at all times.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/o...ilded-age.html

    How can anyone doubt that it goes a long way toward explaining why worker's wages have stagnated and corporate profits have skyrocketed. Teddy Roosevelt was right.
    Almost every single one of these commentaries points to post-war U.S. economic prosperity as if (1) it was solely due to unions and high income taxes, and 2) that the economic conditions of that day can or should always be the norm, if only for strong unions and high taxes.

    This reveals a very poor, intentionally poor understanding of the global economic conditions that led to the American post-WWII economic boom. The global economic conditions and modern supply and demand for human labor mean that a combination of "making unions more powerful" and dramatically hiking income tax rates cannot replicate those 1950s economic conditions.
    Last edited by Neomalthusian; 3rd May 2018 at 07:41 AM.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by publius3 View Post
    Do the invisible hand excerpt which will take 30 seconds: Invisible Hand Excerpt from WEALTH OF NATIONS

    Of course I'm not saying NOT to read it but time is short of course!
    Be careful shaking that hand. You don't know where it's been.
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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    Almost every single one of these commentaries points to post-war U.S. economic prosperity as if (1) it was solely due to unions and high income taxes, and 2) that the economic conditions of that day can or should always be the norm.

    This reveals a very poor, intentionally poor understanding of the global economic conditions that led to the American post-WWII economic boom. The global economic conditions and modern supply and demand for human labor mean that a combination of "making unions more powerful" and dramatically hiking income tax rates cannot replicate those 1950s economic conditions.
    Certainly we enjoyed unique advantages in the post-war period. But that period was also marked by a lack of labor strife and a lot of cooperation with the economic system up and down income levels because the system was seen by most people as fair. If we had suffered from instability resulting from inequality (as we did, for example, in the early twentieth century) we'd have squandered much of that advantage.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    Certainly we enjoyed unique advantages in the post-war period. But that period was also marked by a lack of labor strife and a lot of cooperation with the economic system up and down income levels because the system was seen by most people as fair.
    Unprecedented economic growth and prosperity does tend to ease strife. Taxes were high in part to pay down history's biggest ever war debt. This was back when we were still calling our currency commodity backed, so that was important. We needed a lot more basic manual labor in manufacturing back then. We don't anymore. Outsourcing to poor nations overseas wasn't a realistic option back then. It is now. There are fundamental differences between then and now.

    But all these commentaries essentially boil down to a correlation/causation problem. They point to the 1950s, comment on how great everything was, note that unions were strong and taxes were high, and then try to leave the reader with the impression that high taxes and strong unions simply cause those economic conditions.
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  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    Unprecedented economic growth and prosperity does tend to ease strife. Taxes were high in part to pay down history's biggest ever war debt. This was back when we were still calling our currency commodity backed, so that was important. We needed a lot more basic manual labor in manufacturing back then. We don't anymore. Outsourcing to poor nations overseas wasn't a realistic option back then. It is now. There are fundamental differences between then and now.
    Yes, but much of what you say here doesn't make sense. It's true that rising incomes ease strife, but they don't ease strife when those gains are massively skewed toward owners--we saw that in the early twentieth century. As for the need for taxes, our current deficit suggests that we still need them. And yes, market conditions have changed, but human nature hasn't. I find many of your arguments ignore human nature.

    But all these commentaries essentially boil down to a correlation/causation problem. They point to the 1950s, comment on how great everything was, note that unions were strong and taxes were high, and then try to leave the reader with the impression that high taxes and strong unions simply cause those economic conditions.
    I think my response here puts to lie your contention here that all your opponents are just simple-minded and ignorant.
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