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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:01 pm 
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Jorodryn wrote:
The problem is that goes against general human nature toward equating money with success.

That's an American thing, not human. And it's part of why I hate this place.

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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:20 pm 
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Freakyboy, crude income caps like that are just cutting off your nose to spite your face. All it would do is persuade high earners to pack up and leave the country. You might say "good riddance", but it also means that they aren't paying any taxes or contributing to your society at all. The point isn't to stamp down those at the top just for the hell of it, it's to help those at the bottom and in the middle to fulfil their potential and to cushion them against bad luck. And the point is also to protect social mobility. Simply limiting top incomes accomplishes none of that.

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 Post Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:28 pm 
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FreakyBoy wrote:
That's an American thing, not human. And it's part of why I hate this place.


I disagree here. Look through the ages. The people with the gold are the ones in charge and everyone always seems to strive to have the gold. It is a human condition. There are people that break that mold obviously, but it is still a very human thing. Covetousness, greed, envy, they all go hand and hand here.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:41 am 
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Who pays what percentage of the taxes is pretty much irrelevant, with regards to wealth inequalities. What is important is who gets to consume how much. Crows linked article does not really say anything about that. And i'd be suprised if the bottom and middle class in Sweden would get a lower percentage of Swedish overall wealth, then US bottom and middle class, especially if you factor in services and infrastructure provided by the goverments.

And with the exception of a few ascetics, i think most people believe that monetary value should equal moral value. Yes most people are aware that it does not do in reality and that in real life the best we can ever get is a lousey approximation, but i don't think there are many people who disagree with the "should".

Oh and i do not trust the results if functionaries of a large buerocratic organisation decide among themselfs what privileges they should get in return for their work. The buerocratic organisation being private does not change that. And what else are large corporations.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:46 am 
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Kea wrote:
The point isn't to stamp down those at the top just for the hell of it, it's to help those at the bottom and in the middle to fulfil their potential and to cushion them against bad luck. And the point is also to protect social mobility. Simply limiting top incomes accomplishes none of that.

I don't necessarily agree with Kea's first point, but I do agree with this. I would much rather assist those who currently have no money to acquire money, rather than ensure those who currently have money have less of it, because that generally results in the worse off being better off. I don't see wage caps as assisting with that goal, for the main reason that if wages are capped, the money saved will not go to those who are paid less in the company. More likely, it will go to the shareholders in the form of further dividends (therefore making those who own the company even richer than they currently are). Unless, of course, dividends are capped as well (which would be a lot harder, but I'm not saying it ain't possible), but something tells me that those at the top would still find ways of ensuring that all that extra money would go to them. There ain't no system of monetary distribution that someone hasn't managed to find a loophole in.

I suppose you could arrange taxation as such to suck out all money past a certain threshold, regardless of payrises (thus using it as a means of funding for projects to assist the worst-off), but I expect you'd find diminishing returns pretty quickly in that system - No company is going to deliberately send more tax dollars off if they can avoid it, they'll just find tax-free means of recompense.

I guess the simple answer is that I don't see any way of implementing a wage cap that actually channels that money into useful channels that I'd be confident in ensuring that there was no way around, either in current systems or in any hypothetical situation. It's money - it's a great motivator to ensure people find ways to exploit the system. Effectively, I don't trust that humans could build this system well enough for it to do what I'd want it to do.


OldCrow wrote:
Well that's just self-evidently wrong - no skin-flinting company that gave a damn about its profits would spend more on a CEO than they needed to spend. If one of them is paying someone 400 x their average employee's salaries, then they must think that person worth the money. Otherwise they'd just find someone cheaper.


Oh, and I just have to attack this point. The primary reason that CEOs get paid huge amounts is... Because everyone else pays their CEOs huge amounts. It's purely talent attraction, which leads to an impressive wage inflation effect in higher management positions. It's kindof a tragedy of the commons situation - if only a few companies did it, there would be little effect on wages, but since everyone does it, it leads to the massive disparities. Also, once a CEO gets into power, it becomes not that difficult to arrange payrises for yourself on a constant basis. Very few organisations have clear rules governing payrises for CEOs that eliminate this practice, for the obvious reason that such a system would not be attractive to a prospective CEO. So... It's not self-evident that companies can't pay less for CEO talent. They can, assuming everyone did.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:11 am 
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I'm not wild about the idea of stocks and shareholders either.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:57 am 
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Do you have issues with ownership as a whole?

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:54 pm 
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That's a tricky question to answer. I have no problem with the general idea that "these things belong to me, those things belong to him". I can kind of accept the idea of private ownership of things like land and buildings, as long as it's people owning things and they don't own too much and they're not just owning it to keep it locked away from other people for no real reason.

I have deep, serious problems with what passes for "investment" these days. I take issue with the idea that "providing capital" is an actual job and disagree with the assertion that it provides a value service that should be compensated. If I give you $20, and you use that $20 to somehow make $100, I have no right to expect anything more than my $20 back. If I want part of the profit you made on the endeavour you started with that money, I should have to play some role in its execution aside from "giving you $20". To do otherwise merely encourages the creation and propagation of a class of people whose only function in society is "having money" - I find that function more than useless, but actively harmful to society.

And I hate corporations. I think the idea that started as a corporation had some tiny amount of merit when it began, but the whole system has grown bloated, corrupted, and has long since passed the point where its use outweighed its cost. I don't find the existence of corporations to be a net good to society, and think we'd do just fine without them.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:19 pm 
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OldCrow wrote:
If you're really so despondent over the state of your country, then you have my sympathies. But I'd be curious to know which other countries you'd rather be in and why (well, except Canada...that's a given, heh, heh). Even accepting the fact that the US has done a poor job of recognizing that some socialized services may be beneficial, I see a number of other western nations falling apart faster than the US in worse ways - their conceptions of the Rule of Law are on a downward slide.

What are we talking about here? Most of the countries typically thought of as "Western nations" are doing pretty OK, except for their economies turning to rubbish. Some countries technically in the West ain't doing so OK (see: Italy), but they were never really "Western nations" in the sense of basing themselves on the Enlightenment.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:24 pm 
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FreakyBoy wrote:
If I give you $20, and you use that $20 to somehow make $100, I have no right to expect anything more than my $20 back.

I'd disagree with this part. You shouldn't really be entitled to my profits, but ideally you'd have some compensation based on risk; if there was a good chance I'd lose all the money, and you financed me anyways, it would be nice to reward you for that. On average, you don't want the risks to lose you more than you gain. How this principle relates to buying stocks from someone who has no other connection to the company getting privileged as a form of investment, though, is beyond me.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:25 pm 
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FreakyBoy wrote:
I can kind of accept the idea of private ownership of things like land and buildings, as long as it's people owning things and they don't own too much and they're not just owning it to keep it locked away from other people for no real reason.

Who does that, exactly? I can't think of a single situation where someone (or even some company) went out and bought some asset just to hoard it and keep it away from other people, with no real purpose for owning it. That's just bleeding away money with no hope of getting anything back.

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I take issue with the idea that "providing capital" is an actual job and disagree with the assertion that it provides a value service that should be compensated. If I give you $20, and you use that $20 to somehow make $100, I have no right to expect anything more than my $20 back.

Except that if you take my $20 and go broke instead of making anything, then I've lost $20 and you've lost nothing. My "role" in you endeavour was shielding you from having to absorb the cost of failure, and that's why I'm being compensated. Otherwise, what's your alternative? How do people with good ideas but no money get a chance?

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I think the idea that started as a corporation had some tiny amount of merit when it began, but the whole system has grown bloated, corrupted, and has long since passed the point where its use outweighed its cost.

Corporations exist to (again) shield investors from risk, by ensuring that if the company fails that they only lose what they invested in the company - rather than have the company's creditors trying to put liens on their house, repossess their car, etc, etc. The only bloated and corrupted system is the legal system that let's corporations claim the rights which belong to real people.

The only way we'd do fine without capital and corporations is if industry is mostly limited to the size of the General Store, with a few ultra rich people controlling things like mining, transportation, and so on. The ability for large groups of people to invest small amounts of money individually and create a large pool of funds - with little risk to themselves - is one of the reasons we're still not living in the mercantilist societies of the 17th century. Why would you want to go back to that?

Crazed123 wrote:
What are we talking about here? Most of the countries typically thought of as "Western nations" are doing pretty OK, except for their economies turning to rubbish. Some countries technically in the West ain't doing so OK (see: Italy), but they were never really "Western nations" in the sense of basing themselves on the Enlightenment.

Well, the UK seems well on its way to trying to create a Panopticon society. Not to mention the fact that these days police in the UK seem to think the best way to deal with crime is to tell people to let themselves be victimized or risk facing police wrath themselves. France is about a handspan away from becoming a failed state. I can only hope that the way Sweden is dealing with Julian Assange is an aberration, otherwise it appears that they are quite willing to toss Rule of Law when it suits them politically.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:36 pm 
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I have no problem whatsoever with investment and shareholding in theory; it is a necessary method for a business to raise capital. Simply moving money around may not seem like a productive job, and certainly the rewards for it seem disproportionately huge. But just like a bank providing a loan for an individual to purchase a house, it is a vital service to the economy. Getting a return on your investment is simply a way to incentivize people to do this.

That said, the stock market as it exists today is a patently illogical system.

A logical method of shareholding follows the basic premise, "I will invest money in your business by buying stock. In exchange I will receive a proportional share of the profits of your company (in the form of dividends), and have proportional voting power to select board members. If your company does well, this will be reflected in rising dividends and a corresponding rise in the value of my stock, which I may then sell to other investors."

Unfortunately, this apparently has a tendency to morph into, "I will buy shares of stock in your company from a stockbroker. In exchange I will receive a piece of paper (or digital contract) representing a portion of your company, whose value is linked to the performance of your business based solely on a general assumption that this will be the case. My hope is that at some point in the near future other investors will start to think the stock will be worth more in a little while than it is now (which in turn is based on their hope that future investors will make the same judgement), and this will allow me to sell the stock for something more than I bought it for, hopefully before the value begins to drop again."

And then there's the derivatives market, where the piece of paper doesn't represent a portion of anything at all...

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:04 pm 
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Kitten, your two paragraphs describing corporate investing say the same thing, essentially.

Moreover, the first one is an accurate reflection of how most people approach stock ownership.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:05 pm 
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OldCrow wrote:
Who does that, exactly? I can't think of a single situation where someone (or even some company) went out and bought some asset just to hoard it and keep it away from other people, with no real purpose for owning it. That's just bleeding away money with no hope of getting anything back.


90% of options on movie rights are never excercised, just to prevent competition. For example. In other cases, patents or trademarks are acquired and sat on. That is illegal, but it's hard to enforce. Take a look at the Star Control trademark and Atari. Just to keep it from reverting, they put out the bare minimum effort to have a vague claim to it so they could renew the trademark. One they aren't using and have no plans to use.


Grillick - the causality is reversed, there's the distinction. Speculation rather than observation of success.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:07 pm 
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drachefly wrote:
In other cases, patents or trademarks are acquired and sat on. That is illegal, but it's hard to enforce.

The first half of the second sentence in the above is false. The second may be true, were it possible to enforce something that isn't the law.

And to your edit: It is impossible to remove speculation from the value of any good traded on a market.

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