Capitalism Creates Scarcity of resources Artificially? A Rebuttal.

June 7, 2014

I’ve lately frequented the facebook page called Still Laughing at ‘Anarcho’-capitalism (SLANCAP), which is maintained by self-described anti-capitalist anarchists. They believe the that phrase Anarcho-capitalist is an oxymoron, and, as far as I can tell, they believe the that the phrase anti-capitalist Anarchist is redundant. Hence, they feel no need to specify the flavor of Anarchy to which they subscribe. I’ll call them anti-capitalist Anarchists, redundant as that may be.

Maybe I’ll get into the merits of these labeling choices another time. Suffice to say here that I have learned a great deal about anti-capitalist Anarchist objections to capitalism by following the SLANCAP facebook page. The authors of the page have yet to change my mind about how I think the world ought to work, but they have convinced me to pay more attention to the self-congratulatory rhetoric the libertarians and anarcho-capitalists often employ without realizing they’re doing it.

The page admins have launched a traditional website at slancap.com for anyone interested. I think I’m good for trolling only the facebook page for now, whereupon I recently spotted the following video about scarcity. Capitalists and anti-capitalist Anarchists will never come to an understanding about scarcity until they each learn to understand how the other uses the term. This is yet another a definition problem, at the core. Here is the post:

I appreciate this anti-capitalist gentleman’s polite, constructive criticism. Here are a capitalist’s, rebuttals, responses, and apologies. This is going to be a long response, so I’ll sum up the main rebuttals first, and then I’ll launch into details afterwards. The rebuttals are:

  1. Anti-capitalist Anarchists use the word scarcity differently than capitalists do.
  2. Private property and markets create the illusion of abundance where, in reality, there is not enough of each commodity to satisfy all demand.
  3. Describing private property as “an unlimited amount of property that [the owners] never personally interact with” does injustice to those who interacted with the property in the first place to increase its utility.
  4. Where dwellings go unsold, unused, and vacant, owners have a capitalist financial incentive to let others use the dwellings in exchange for maintenance services, and many property owners have begun to do just that.
  5. Government manipulation of incentives away from those of the capitalist price system, often at the behest of an economically naive populace, is why so many people built so many houses so uneconomically in the first place.

Read the rest of this entry »

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An Anti-capitalist-to-Reality Pocket Translator

September 14, 2013
Sister Teresa Forcades: to where does the road paved with good intentions lead?

Sister Teresa Forcades: to where does the road paved with good intentions lead?

A friend of mine shared this article with me on facebook:

Sister Teresa Forcades: Europe’s most radical nun

The article begins:

A Spanish nun has become one of Europe’s most influential left-wing public intellectuals. This year, thousands have joined her anti-capitalist movement, which campaigns for Catalan independence, the reversal of public spending cuts and nationalisation of banks and energy companies.

Where one sees the word “anti-capitalist”, a to-do list of pie-in-the-sky fantasies generally follows. This article provides about the best example I’ve seen in a long time. Sister Theresa’s goals are all well-intended, I’m sure, but evaluating them through even the thinnest lenses of economic clarity yield immediately unpleasant results.

According to the article, she drew up her 10 point plan “with economist Arcadi Oliveres”.  I’d like to learn more about this apparently anti-capitalist economist, but early Google searches turn up only Spanish language web sites. Perhaps he is the Richard D. Wolff of the Spanish-speaking world.

Here is Sister Teresa Forcades’s 10 point plan, with my Anti-capitalist-to-Reality translations:

• A government takeover of all banks and measures to curb financial speculation

Translation: Forcefully monopolize the banking industry. Applaud as the monopoly charges whatever interest it see fit. Create a new class of criminals called unlicensed usurers. Earning a profit by foregoing consumption and lending money without the government’s permission shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate.

Create a new class of criminals called unlicensed investors. The act of buying now for the purpose of selling later at a profit shall be a crime, unless done with the government’s permission and to its specifications. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate to imprison unlicensed investors.

• An end to job cuts, fairer wages and pensions, shorter working hours and payments to parents who stay at home

Translation: Firing or laying off an employee for any reason shall be a crime. Applaud as employment falls to near-zero, because employers will take far fewer chances when hiring people they may not lawfully fire or lay off. Build police forces and penitentiaries to warehouse the former employers who have fired or laid off workers..

‘Fair wages’, in the anti-capitalist lexicon, generally means ‘more wages than are currently being paid’. Cutting wages, or continuing to pay wages at the current amount, shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries to imprison employers who carry on their businesses but fail to increase wages to the arbitrary, ever-increasing, State-mandated minimum. Applaud as the forced increase in the price of labor causes a decrease in the demand for labor. Applaud as established, entrenched mega-corporations thrive and upstart competitors struggle to either launch or maintain their businesses.

Offering work in excess of a state approved number of hours per day shall be a crime. Those who either want or need more money must take a second job to acquire it, because employers who dare employ will avoid paying extra money for overtime. Applaud as workers pay higher travel costs.

Take more money from the people who leave their homes during the day and give it to the people who stay at home. Those who leave their homes during the day, acquire money, and attempt to bring all of that money back to their homes shall be criminals. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate to house them.

• Decent housing for all, and an end to all foreclosures

Translation: Siphon resources from other worthy projects in the economy to build houses of State-mandated luxuriety for which no-one shall be responsible for paying. Applaud as practically everything else in the economy becomes impossible to afford. To refuse the State the use of one’s resources shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as necessary to house those who refuse to forgo their other projects in furtherance of the State housing project.

• Genuine “participatory democracy” and steps to curb political corruption

 [I’m not quite sure what this means yet, so I’ll pass on it.]

• A reversal of public spending cuts, and renationalisation of all public services

Translation: Siphon resources from other worthy projects in the economy so that the State may “serve the public” in its discretion, and without the inhibitions of cost accounting. Applaud as practically everything in the economy, including these services, becomes impossible to afford. To refuse to the State the use of one’s resources shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as necessary to house those who refuse to forgo their other projects in furtherance of the services that the State, in its discretion, deems worthy of pursuit.

• An individual’s right to control their own body, including a woman’s right to decide over abortion.

Translation: Same meaning. This is a cognate.

• “Green” economic policies and the nationalisation of energy companies.

Translation: Criminalize all forms of energy that do not enjoy the license of the state. Applaud the Solyndra-style scandals as the State hand-picks “green” winners in what is left of the marketplace.

Forcefully monopolize the energy industry. Applaud as the monopoly charges whatever prices it see fit. Create a new class of criminals called unlicensed energy providers. Earning a profit by providing energy without the State’s permission shall be a crime. Build police forces and penitentiaries as appropriate.

• An end to xenophobia and repeal of immigration laws

Translation: Same meaning. This is a cognate.

• Placing public media under democratic control, including the internet

Translation: Repeal the First Amendment. The majority of voters is authorized to quash unpopular viewpoints. Pirate websites, radio stations, television stations, and newsletters shall be illegal. Build police forces and penitentiaries as necessary to imprison those who publish or broadcast them.

• International “solidarity”, leaving Nato, and the abolition of armed forces in a future free Catalonia

[I’m not quite sure what this means yet, so I’ll pass on it.]

Perhaps as this pocket translator grows, I’ll make it a full feature of the blog…..

Image via Lrubiope, Wikimedia Commons