Economics do two things impossibly well:
1. Fuels every good and bad thing that happens politically in the world.
2. Confuses the hell out of me.

It seems to me that money spawns at least as much evil as organized religions and this seems to be more true in the USA (probably because I live here and only found out about "strange lands beyond the borders recently).
My question to all of you is this:
Is there a legitimate better system than capitalism that America could adopt to ease the pressure of this problem?

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Well I pay Netflix about $15 a month to watch as much garbage as I like. I currently have the documentary Jesus Camp and one of Michael Moore's shock-umentaries.
As for the Wealth of Nations would you say this covered it or do I still need the book?
That is the book.
It sounds like Louis is complaining that American capitalism isn't 'pure' capitalism, or something like that. That's an awful lot like a religious person arguing that the problems spawned by Christianity aren't Christianity's fault, but rather the flawed execution of Christianity.

I don't buy either argument. The flaws we see produced by our economy and the flaws we see produced by religion are not bothersome side effects of those systems... they are FEATURES of those systems.
Louis, you meant "Classic Capitalism" rather than "Classing Capitalism", right? I really don't mean to harp on a typo, but I was genuinely confused. I think a lot of the "innovations" in Wall Street capitalism are really just various forms of fraud. The whole mortgage-backed security and credit default swap business is pure smoke and mirrors.
Missed the typo, my bad.

Is there a mod who could go back and change that? It should have read 'Classic Capitalism.'
done and done, sir
I was kind of rolling with you since Jacqueline pointed out the presence of classism in the current economic system early in this thread. While I can plainly see it's not exactly classism by the old standards of India, I can certainly see the line. It seems like Americans took the best economic system we could find and then proceded to pick up every bad habit established before.
You may be right. I did skip the Wealth of Nations chapters on sub prime loans, mortgage backed securities, and credit default swaps as well as that whole other non-existent chapter on using tax money to float failed and non-competitive business and industries.

I also must have missed the subsection about lying to investors what with all the emphasis placed on honesty being critical to prosperity.

I also must have missed the part about taxing the wealthy at a rate far less than the rest because Adam Smith made such a point of arguing that the wealthy should be taxed at a higher rate.

I'm going to go on a limb here and say you've never read Wealth of Nations, if you have I would have to ask how you missed so much. If indeed you haven't, I highly suggest that you do before saying you know what 'real' Capitalism is.

There is a difference between saying that Bible doesn't glorify rapists, murderers, racists, and genocidal maniacs -- because even a skimming will show that it does; and saying that Classic Capitalism is not American capitalism because reading through Wealth of Nations will show that it certainly is not.

*reposted for critical typo
This article may be be of some use:

November 13, 2009

Free to Lose


Consider, for a moment, a tale of two countries. Both have suffered a severe recession and lost jobs as a result — but not on the same scale. In Country A, employment has fallen more than 5 percent, and the unemployment rate has more than doubled. In Country B, employment has fallen only half a percent, and unemployment is only slightly higher than it was before the crisis.

Don’t you think Country A might have something to learn from Country B?

This story isn’t hypothetical. Country A is the United States, where stocks are up, G.D.P. is rising, but the terrible employment situation just keeps getting worse. Country B is Germany, which took a hit to its G.D.P. when world trade collapsed, but has been remarkably successful at avoiding mass job losses. Germany’s jobs miracle hasn’t received much attention in this country — but it’s real, it’s striking, and it raises serious questions about whether the U.S. government is doing the right things to fight unemployment.

Here in America, the philosophy behind jobs policy can be summarized as “if you grow it, they will come.” That is, we don’t really have a jobs policy: we have a G.D.P. policy. The theory is that by stimulating overall spending we can make G.D.P. grow faster, and this will induce companies to stop firing and resume hiring.

The alternative would be policies that address the job issue more directly. We could, for example, have New-Deal-style employment programs. Perhaps such a thing is politically impossible now — Glenn Beck would describe anything like the Works Progress Administration as a plan to recruit pro-Obama brownshirts — but we should note, for the record, that at their peak, the W.P.A. and the Civilian Conservation Corps employed millions of Americans, at relatively low cost to the budget.

Alternatively, or in addition, we could have policies that support private-sector employment. Such policies could range from labor rules that discourage firing to financial incentives for companies that either add workers or reduce hours to avoid layoffs.

And that’s what the Germans have done. Germany came into the Great Recession with strong employment protection legislation. This has been supplemented with a “short-time work scheme,” which provides subsidies to employers who reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off. These measures didn’t prevent a nasty recession, but Germany got through the recession with remarkably few job losses.

Should America be trying anything along these lines? In a recent interview, Lawrence Summers, the Obama administration’s highest-ranking economist, was dismissive: “It may be desirable to have a given amount of work shared among more people. But that’s not as desirable as expanding the total amount of work.” True. But we are not, in fact, expanding the total amount of work — and Congress doesn’t seem willing to spend enough on stimulus to change that unfortunate fact. So shouldn’t we be considering other measures, if only as a stopgap?

Now, the usual objection to European-style employment policies is that they’re bad for long-run growth — that protecting jobs and encouraging work-sharing makes companies in expanding sectors less likely to hire and reduces the incentives for workers to move to more productive occupations. And in normal times there’s something to be said for American-style “free to lose” labor markets, in which employers can fire workers at will but also face few barriers to new hiring.

But these aren’t normal times. Right now, workers who lose their jobs aren’t moving to the jobs of the future; they’re entering the ranks of the unemployed and staying there. Long-term unemployment is already at its highest levels since the 1930s, and it’s still on the rise.

And long-term unemployment inflicts long-term damage. Workers who have been out of a job for too long often find it hard to get back into the labor market even when conditions improve. And there are hidden costs, too — not least for children, who suffer physically and emotionally when their parents spend months or years unemployed.

So it’s time to try something different.

Just to be clear, I believe that a large enough conventional stimulus would do the trick. But since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, we need to talk about cheaper alternatives that address the job problem directly. Should we introduce an employment tax credit, like the one proposed by the Economic Policy Institute? Should we introduce the German-style job-sharing subsidy proposed by the Center for Economic Policy Research? Both are worthy of consideration.

The point is that we need to start doing something more than, and different from, what we’re already doing. And the experience of other countries suggests that it’s time for a policy that explicitly and directly targets job creation.
Wow, I really like the sound of this but it's still a bit confusing to me. In fact I'm so in the dark that I thought this was (at least partitally) the point of the stimulous but I'm definitely seeing my mistake there. So is this something that would be considered for the state or federal level? Am I understanding that this system creates temporary jobs until "normalcy" occurs?
In fact I'm so in the dark that I thought this was (at least partitally) the point of the stimulous but I'm definitely seeing my mistake there.

There is infrastructure improvement included in the stimulus package. I've already driven through road improvement projects with signage indicating this. More needs to be done in this direction. However, the right complains when the jobs don't appear instantaneously and then they complain some more about the price tag. And these are the more rational of the right, not the ones calling Obama a Commie Fascist Nazi racist dictator.
There is definitely a need for CCC and WPA type programs. My father was a CCC camp director and I've heard stories about it until the day he died - in glowing terms. The money was minimal but food, clothing and lodging was provided and the money they made was generally sent home.
The participants learned skills, preformed vital services and most important, felt an ownership in their country. Much of the work can still be seen, particularly in the western US.


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