The capitalist machine and what 'worth' is...

The capitalist machine and what ‘worth’ is

…or at least what I think it is, I am formerly uneducated in politics but here’s the way I visualise what capitalism is.

Most of us don’t earn wealth as like farmers and miners do, or that was the communist argument ~ but it wasn’t true once mechanisation came into the picture.

After mechanisation you then need the supporting industries and the financial institutions backing up them. Really capitalism is a bit like a machine and it is the product of that machine which counts as its wealth, and not any particular constituent parts of the machine.

It initially doesn’t matter what we earn, it only matters that we take our place in making the machine work ~ as if we are its cogs and gears etc. our earnings are simply a way to stabilise the process and make it more efficient, hence increasing its gross product or ‘wealth’.

We could all work for nothing and have everything for nothing, but that would make for a very inefficient machine. You need people to work hard, do overtime and everything else that increases the efficiency and hence the gross product.

Then< money may be distributed from that product.

So what would make it more efficient?

…if we were all home-owners we would all be paying mortgages, the money of which the banks can then use for loans and financial dealings making the machine more efficient.
If minimum-wage [mw] earners were instead paid half the cost of accommodation, then couples or groups could afford housing.
Taxpayers currently help support MW earners via working and child tax credits [here in Britain], which is an inefficiency! The franchises and other kinds of businesses [I am not here necessarily saying they are bad, I am trying to understand how the machine works] are in a sense not paying their way. Capitalism is all about deals, and a deal should be about employers paying workers enough to live on [inc, homes] and not relying on others [taxpayers] to pay part of what should be their cost.

I understand that if you redistribute wealth to much then housing prices would simply go up, causing wages to effectively decrease [you have less to spend after paying for the same product/home]. Yet the lowest end of the housing market provides a rough line, below which one should be able to increase wages such that it has no or little effect upon housing prices generally [though it would create more demand].

so why cant everyone be richer? i.e. the product of the machine greater.

alt idea:

In terms of socialism rather than as above improving capitalism, as individual wages are irrelevant except as control measures, surely you only need to make the machine work? You probably get less gross product from an economy, but we would be happier ~ and you don’t even need to get rid of capitalism. One could perhaps regulate housing prices so that wouldn’t counter wealth redistribution, and there is a vast amount of wealth available to be redistributed [70% of earners could earn approximately up to 7 times what they currently get].

So who decides on the ‘deals’ when markets [which are already not free and somewhat controlled] create an imbalance?


Everybody can be richer. Everybody in the United States, for example, IS richer than they were a few decades ago, if you stop counting dollar signs and look at the access and convenience that we (we poor people) enjoy.

Also, wage increases leading to inflation isn't just a function of housing costs. It's a function of food and utility costs too.  If minimum wage goes up, even a carton of milk will cost more, not just mortgages.  Assuming, of course, that enough people are being paid the minimum wage in the first place for the increase to impact anything. 

 The other thing to keep in mind about regulating housing costs is that people don't [i]have[/i] to build houses.  If you keep capitalism and tell people what they are allowed to charge for a home, maybe they'll build something other than homes so they can make the profit they want instead of the profit you dictate.

That’s only partially true, …the cost of product[30% av] and workforce would still be a small part of the cost of product, and people would just buy more varied e.g. supermarket products, the cost of milk would barely go up. In fact I think such things are already regulated. In short, the cost of labour rising is only a fraction of the cost of product.

UN forecasts suggest that everyone in the world are becoming increasingly better off. Apparently the aim is to move all people out of poverty within the next 20 years. This suggests to me that bottom level wages are going up faster than inflation [possibly for the reason above].

Naturally a load of regulations would be needed to support such a change.

It’s not the % of the product cost attributed to wages, it’s supply and demand. If I was paid more, I would use more electricity, gasoline, and etc. So would everybody else, so stuff would get more expensive- especially stuff that requires refrigeration. The cost of milk may be ‘regulated’ but only to prevent gouging, it still changes!
It’s important to note that we aren’t on a gold standard. When you raise wages, you aren’t giving people more gold that they can store in a big vault. All you are giving them is more spending power. By definition, if everybody has more spending power, then either there are more things for everybody to buy (which happens), or everything gets more expensive. You can think of the value of a dollar being the amount of stuff there is to buy divided by how many dollars there are.

It gets a little more complicated with distribution of wealth, but if you keep in mind that even a very rich can only eat so much pizza, you’ll see that spreading cash out effectively increases how much of certain things would be bought- how many dollars there are ‘in play’ for buying certain items.

Again, the effect of raising the minimum wage would be a function of how many people actually earn it. If we’re assuming there are enough people earning minimum wage that raising it would actually have a good effect on society, then we can also assume it’s going to cause inflation, I would think.

We can't move all people out of poverty without the consent of the Governments that dictate their economic systems. The idea that 'we' are doing anything with regards to this is kind of silly if you think about it for a second.  But it only makes sense that as technology increases, the overall amount of wealth will too.  There's more stuff to buy, so some stuff can be had more cheaply.
Right, like forcing people to build houses they don't want to build, and forcing people to sell construction materials at prices they won't make a profit on, and forcing people to take carpentry jobs that they aren't interested in working...between screwing over the hardware stores, carpenters, construction companies and land-owners, who is actually being helped here? 
 Compare it to the natural system of houses being built in accordance with how much property is available to build them and how many people want to buy one. Can you say with any confidence that the regulated system would be an improvement? Does history give us that impression?

P.S.: A prediction. If we ever get on the cusp of eliminating poverty globally, the U.N. will revise it’s definition of poverty such that half the world is afflicted with it again.

good! then things will have to be pushed further. poverty will be, not having a large-screen TV, a mobile phone and a computer. cant wait until not having a Bently will mean you are impoverished! :laughing:

Implication being that if poverty is just a number made up in order to convince people that there’s a desperate need for economic leveling, then it’s a bold-faced and I just saw through the lie. It’s bad enough that the solution is risky and proven to lead to disaster over and over again, but if there isn’t even a problem in the first place, there goes ‘social justice’ down the toilet of bad ideas.

Ha, you took that way right of centre for me lol, the only problem being that; there is no need for low wages. You can say all of that once the capitalist stop grinding people into low paid service industry jobs. You the taxpayer are paying for their working tax credits and other benefits. If you get everyone to earn at least half a small mortgage, then you significantly reduce the deficit ~ not just by having more home owners, but by having less rentals the taxpayer has to pay for.

  It's really simple. Either being poor sucks and it ought to be fixed, or it doesn't and it shouldn't.   If you're only concerned about the $$$ and not the quality of life, you aren't really making a point about the human condition.  If you are concerned about the human condition, then you have to concede that most people below the poverty line in the U.S. really don't have it that bad, and don't need any sort of radical reform in order to be helped. 

"There is no need for low wages" gets the question wrong. You're assuming that it's up to YOU what companies pay their workers, and if they can't justify it, you (or a surrogate with the power and your ideology) gets to tell them what to do.  No.  People get to do what they like, how they like, unless you have a compelling reason why they shouldn't. The onus is on you.  And if poverty isn't a big deal in the country, then you have no argument. That's why the "Let's just force companies to pay their workers what we tell them to until we all drive a Bentley" argument is immoral in addition to impractical. 

     The simpler, easier way to reduce how many rentals the taxpayer has to pay for is to get the Government out of the business of paying people's rent.  It that sounds cruel, don't forget, you already conceded that poverty wasn't a big deal, but just a number's game, so we've no compelling interest to help any bother other than redistribution for its own sake.

 I'm all for raising the quality of life so that, as you say, the 'poor' in the world have access to all kinds of things that the rich have access to now. That's great.  But it's also completely different than simply [i]calling[/i] those people poor just you can justify some economic reform that you want to do for reasons you haven't specified.

They are assuming that the taxpayer should pay some of their employees wages?! Everything about capitalism is a deal of some kind, I am just saying that reworking some of those deals could improve the whole thing. Not just in terms of dollars, but as you say, for peoples quality of life.

One of the main driving forces of capitalism is peoples drive for more, ‘being satisfied’ cannot be enough ~ if you want the output of the machine to increase. You are being un-american dammit :laughing: all people should have the opportunity to grow, get a place to live and prosper somewhat, no?

Even if we only saw it in a cold financial manner, getting all those now homeless [or in sharing accommodation] people up to the level of home-owner, would increase the output of the machine in many ways. ….nor have to smell ‘them’!

  • reasons specified.

But who’s going to realize this. The government, right?

What drives companies, individuals and governments?

Who is going to pay for a standard income? No, this means; who is going to work for that to be realized?

It sounds pretty good but I don’t fully believe that the ingredients have been assembled. This luxury position we might be in as a species if it weren’t for the capitalist greed of the 1%, has it not been attained by the same thing that has amounted in the position of the 1% – that which in extremo becomes greed?

I think a basic income from the state is such magnificently decadent idea - fit to states like Dubai and Qutar - and indeed, Switzerland - that I can’t believe that we could not lose the Earth and all our real freedom at the cost of it.

I don’t want the state to pay for me. I never asked for benefits when I was unemployed because I don’t want to owe the state anything. I don’t believe that the state should be there at all to determine what’s fair and what’s not, let alone to provide that which it thinks is fair.

The state is run by cartels. It is the meta-cartel. If you’re going to accept general handouts you’re pretty soon going to receive them on a microchip implanted in your index finger.

The most unfortunate fact is, surprisingly,and unfortunately is the fact that not only has the 1% been infected by the greed virus, most everyone has.
Now know this is not the psychological board, but it’s not a stretch to call greed and envy not really the strangest of bedfellows.

You have only to look outside your suburban. Picture window to realize that late model, shiny, statement making autos are there to elicit envy.

That said, the middle class is built on a pathetic negative energy producing web of lies. Jealousy produces envy, and envy promotes greed.

Now, if we are further to go up and down the blame game, did madison avenue in response to a few of the 1%, trickled this value system down with a purposeful design? Or, can it be safely said that the problem is more generic, involving human nature it’s self, which in turn gives rise to the purveyors of this not to be missed opportunity?

Here is the catch, and the penultimate question reminiscent of the ghost in the machine argument, and it’s attempted de bunking of Ryle?

Has madison avenue succeeded to resurrect the pseudo duality long posed by descartes? Meaning, the metaphysics of jealousy in human nature thanks to hume, was never really sewed up, as they would like us to believe, only another one of a number of tactics in the identity formation of the so called Western Man? I hazard to think so, after all Hobbs read decline of the west, and it’s only been a few hundred years…but we are coming to the critical point in human history, which to some historians has been said to have already beyond it’s self.

But what self is that, which can be beyond it’s own self? That is the problem, and academicians have become apologists, revisionsits and pointers , guides through unfamiliar terrain always talked about to no end, even to the point of absurd reduction?

Writing is fun, and good, but to accuse and scapegoat those who have successfully bought into the great myth, well then they are no more guilty than the rest of us.  We just think so, because we have been brainwashed to think in such misleading terms.

But when did this start? And why? These are the questions we should be asking.

Fixed Cross

I wasn’t looking for a standard income, only one that makes the machine work more efficiently both for itself and individuals ~ a better deal. Or in other words, I am using capitalist philosophy to undo itself!


indeed people esp the young these days seem to be taken in by greed philosophy, they don’t realise that e.g. here in Britain our worship or an incredibly rich monarch portrays our desire for people to be as rich as we would ultimately like to be. Then our desire for such whitewashes the reality that it hasn’t worked that way since the Norman’s or perhaps even the Roman’s.

It would take an big change in the way we utilise the capitalist machine, to make things right i.e. in terms of people getting their just rewards for skills and effort ~ which clearly that 1% cannot possibly achieve. I wonder if the machine inherently isn’t ‘evil’ or unfair, but people are, it could well be used differently and be even more efficient in the process of that.

I have no idea what you're talking about here.   If a company pays a worker wage X, and the worker agrees to it, then that's it. There's no assumptions by the employer about the kind of lifestyle X will be able to afford.  Maybe the worker has somebody supporting him and doesn't need X to pay for his basic needs. Maybe the worker has another job. Maybe the worker has expensive tastes/special needs/habits/addictions such that X would typically be more than enough, but for him it's not. 
  You need to get past the idea that the primary purpose of a wage is to pay for everything somebody wants or needs. It's not. The purpose of a wage is to compensate somebody for their labor, period. 

Right, and I’m pointing out that the specific re-works you suggested wouldn’t actually improve anything.

So you’re saying that the way to motivate people’s drive for more is to hand them more?

Right. We should just bulldoze every forest in the nation to build houses, and then hand those houses free of charge to people that did nothing to earn them and have nothing invested in their upkeep.

What could go wrong?

The taxpayer pays MW employees working tax credits, and child tax credits to supplement their wages…

The wage for labour has to support them and their families, I had already taken into account that these days that only means half the household income of a generic family. If it doesn’t achieve that then nobody would do the job except under duress [they only do it because they are getting money from the state i.e. you the taxpayer. I agree that there are instances where e.g. a teenager may work in retail and is being supported by their families, and hence don’t need a wage that pays half a necessary adult income.

This is why the labour force invented unions and whatnot, but surely capitalism doesn’t want that ~ its just extra money being wasted on the union officials and money from the workers wages to pay for that. Some of the top members of the bank of england are union chaps, surely capitalism doesn’t want any such socialisms?

As far as the capitalist machine goes, getting more people to own homes increases the output and efficiency of said machine [its product]. Even better it means that some people aren’t paying for others to live and rent etc!

Naturally? If you give them a beginning, a basic house to start a family and buy products, they will wish to continually advance that state! If not they can relapse into an economic depressive state of no hope, and that isnt good for society or the efficiency of the machine surely.

absolutely not, no, that would be an inefficiency and I didn’t say that anyway. I think people who do low paid jobs should be able to live off the income and advance from that ~ a basic freedom. The people in retail are making the machine work aren’t they, hence they deserve a living as much as bankers and the top 1%, who would all ultimately get even richer if they didn’t have to pay very high taxed to supplement socialisms.



In my opinion the discussion so far has not properly addressed finance. (Capital should be a very important part of capitalism right?)

The possibility of debt has allowed the machine you talk about to actually consume wealth.