Friday, November 11, 2011

Being Open to the Opinions of Others Matters

Much to my surprise I was called a "leftard" this morning after questioning a photo that included the caption "socialism has a documented record of colossal failure. World history has proven that. Socialism is NOT AN OPTION in America. Capitalism is how America became a super power." These early morning discussions are probably not for me as I would rather not do such ideological battles so early.For example:

"It is an inescapable fact of life" that "all wealth comes from thrift and productivity" I was told in a discussion about the ills of socialism in praise of capitalism. I pointed out that historically the statement was patently false. The Wealth of Nations has been built on centuries of free labor and indentured servitude, and that big banks and big business have always run the government. I included the Theodore Roosevelt quote that "behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people." I identified this "invisible government" as big business.

In the praise of American capitalism and the decline of socialist states in Europe, I countered that we are presently in economic decline because of a system of capital sanctioned by the government that allows "too big to fail" and disables us from making our own toilet bowl brushes. I noted that there are no pure -isms of any sort. I pointed out that Iceland had a booming economy, clean energy initiatives, and a great educational system. Then entered Goldman Sachs. I quoted Nassim Nicholas Taleb that we "socialize debts and privatize profits."

Regarding big business and small business, I made the distinction that "thrift and productivity" has been the hallmark of small business success, but not so much with big business. Government through trade policies tinker with productivity (often immorally when you consider the success of companies like Apple's production in Asia--as I type on my MacBook--sigh!), and bailout to the likes of GE to the tune of billions when thrift has long not been a hallmark of business and the engineering that once made that company great has largely been replaced with financial engineering tantamount to Wall Street gambling.

There were several replies that insisted that after all of the above and more that I had not answer the "simple" question about where wealth comes from. The discussion ended for me with jingoism about freedom and capitalism, and how Beijing after embracing capitalism soars. Differences of opinions I do not oppose, but often our differences are packaged in idealism and ideology which do not move discussions forward. How do we extract ourselves in order to really hear what others are saying? I suppose humility is a big factor here. I will examine myself further.

1 comment:

Big Mark 243 said...

See, few are interested enough to look within themselves and examine why they feel the way that they do, Jay Bee (but I still think Judy, Judy, Judy when I see your posts!). I think the confusion inside of them is more frightening than anything else... so it is easier to repeat platitudes and propaganda than it is to think for oneself...