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What's good reading on the inefficiencies of capitalism?

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yoda's walking stick
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Aug 7 2011 17:58
What's good reading on the inefficiencies of capitalism?

Does anyone know of any good, short articles or books on the subject? I'm tired of hearing socialism is inherently inefficient compared to capitalism.

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plasmatelly
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Aug 7 2011 18:37

Not sure where to direct you - but socialism is inefficient in many ways - not all - and that's why I want to live in a libertarian communist/socialist society. Balls to the efficiencies that capitalists seek. smile

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arminius
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Aug 7 2011 22:08

*Inefficiency* , in my experience, is usually brought up by right cunts, not by anyone who really understands what *real* anarchism/communism/socialism means...

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RedEd
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Aug 8 2011 02:40

Loren Goldner's extensive discussions of how shit the automobile industry and suburbanisation are are a good example of a communist critique of how stupidly inefficient capitalism is.

Uncontrollable
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Aug 8 2011 05:12

The Inefficiency of Capitalism
An Anarchist View
by Brian Oliver Sheppard

http://zinelibrary.info/inefficiency-capitalism

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 8 2011 10:38

Uncontrollable beat me to it.

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Aladinane
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Sep 15 2011 00:23

hi, I just read 'The Inefficiencies of Capitalism'. Fascinating stuff, thanks for posting it as this is something I've been thinking about myself for a while now.

I spotted another inefficiency of capitalism that Brian Oliver Sheppard missed out of his pamphlet. Sometimes capitalism creates a surplus of something desirable but due to the nature of private property does not allow most people to access that product. A good example of this is pleasure yachts & sports boats. I found some statistics about yacht ownership in the Netherlands which I think nicely demonstrates my point.

number of yachts in netherlands = 500'000

Studies show that an average 30’ sports fishing boat owner uses it 10-20 days a year. Presuming that this statistic is similar for all pleasurecraft:

Total yacht days available in the Netherlands: (365x500'000) 182'500'000

Population of netherlands: 16.5million

Yacht days divided by population: 11days per person

Assuming that 2 people are on each boat at any time, the current number of yachts currently in the Netherlands could provide each citizen with 22 days of yacht use per year!

Of course the real use of these yachts would be very different depending on many factors such as the percentage of the population who have the desire and/or ability to make use of a boat and the weather on any given day, but I think it's fair to say that the current amount of yachts in the Netherlands COULD meet the desire of the entire population in a collectivist framework.

Other examples of this inefficiency include the fact that every household in England possesses a lawnmower (used perhaps once a month) , a power-drill (used perhaps 10 times in it's lifetime), tennis rackets, telescopes, video cameras, fondue sets and many other items which it would make much more sense to own collectively among the neighborhood. This practice is an extremely inefficient use of resources and labour and it greatly limits the access that each person enjoys to things he might want or need to use occasionally.

yoda's walking stick
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Sep 15 2011 01:05

I wish I had Peter Camejo's clarity of thought and simplicity of language. It's what makes a good writer!

Peter Camejo:

Quote:
Take the question of hunger. There are people going hungry all over the world, and the US government recently reported that there are a lot of people going hungry right here in the United States. And yet, because of the profit system, the US government is now paying some farmers not to farm. Farmers don’t make their decisions by saying: “We need a lot of corn in the US, so I’m going to plant a lot of corn.” They never say that. They say: “How much money am I going to make if I plant corn?” Did you know that if decisions were not made on this basis, then the US alone would have the potential to feed the whole world? The economic potential is there.
Take the question of housing. If you took just the money that’s spent on the war in Vietnam, you could build beautiful free homes for every non-white family in the US and for 30 million of the poorest whites. They could wipe out every slum in the next four years. The potential exists, not only in the factories and materials for building, but in the potential to build new machines and factories. Yet, they are not going to solve the housing question because it’s not profitable to build low cost housing.
Did you know that because of the way the system is structured a large percentage of the people do not do any productive work at all? You have the unemployed who are not hired because it’s not profitable to hire them. Then you have the people in the army, not to mention the police, and others who consume a great deal but don’t produce anything. Then you have things like the people in the advertising industry. They don’t do anything really useful or necessary. In addition, you have a mammoth, organised effort to create waste. For instance, if you designed a car for the Ford company that would last 50 years, they wouldn’t use it. Because that would destroy the purpose of making cars, which is to produce profits.
I’ll give you another example of how the potential for meeting human needs is destroyed because of the profit system. Say you are a capitalist, and you’re about to build a factory. Do you say: “I’ll build it where it’s nice, where there are trees and fresh air, and where the workers will have nice homes and will be able to go mountain climbing or hunting or swimming?” No, that’s not the way you think. You say: “Well, where’s my market, where are my raw materials coming in, how can I make the most profit?” And this means you might build the factory where you will pump even more poison into the air.

piter
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Sep 15 2011 06:29

capitalism is deadly efficient in reproducing capitalists relations.

but when it comes to producing conditions/relations "worthy of our human being" it's completely out of touch. only communism/socialism/anarchism/callitwhateveryouwant is able to do it and that only is why capitalism has to be destroyed.

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Chilli Sauce
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Sep 15 2011 07:00

Good post Aladinane.

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Auld-bod
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Sep 15 2011 08:37

Aladinane made some good points though I would draw the line at sharing tools with ‘the community’. In my experience a good quality tool if properly used can last a lifetime. It only takes one incompetent user to render it useless or in need of major repair.

I’ve had tools returned to me which have stopped working – a big mystery! A well balanced planishing hammer used to drive in masonry nails (it’s only a hammer anybody knows how to use one of them – well no!). Power tools being carried by their leads, knives and chisels used as screwdrivers, metal drills burned out after use on masonry – the list is virtually endless. I don’t know if it is true of the rest of the world, my feeling is that in the UK the skills of the blue collar worker are held in such low esteem that ‘any fool can do that’ mentality is fairly common – we’re the DIY capital of the world.

I understand that every spring there is a boom in the sale of grass cutting equipment because many people cannot be bothered to maintain their own stuff. If it was owned collectively the community could maintain it properly. I confess however to being very wary about lending my tools.

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Sep 15 2011 12:29
Quote:
It only takes one incompetent user to render it useless or in need of major repair.

seems like nothing that couldn't be easily overcome with perhaps a little bit of instruction for every child. Anyway, I've often thought that practical skills would be much more common in Anarchism, due to the necessity to act autonomously and also the desire/pressure to be useful to your community. You're right though, some people become complete cretins once they have something metal in their hands. What are you doing with a planishing hammer anyway, making armor for the comrades?

Quote:
I understand that every spring there is a boom in the sale of grass cutting equipment because many people cannot be bothered to maintain their own stuff.

There could also be an element of planned obsolescence here, or at least that many consumer/DIY tools and equipment are simply produced as cheaply as possible with no consideration of durability.

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Sep 15 2011 13:26

Aladinane, you’ve given me a splendid vision of a crowd of anarcho-Ned Kellys all clanking down the street. The reason I’ve a set of metal work hammers is more prosaic - my first twenty-five years employment was as a sheet metal worker. The tools still prove useful at times. (Traditionally if a metal worker retired he would usually give his tools to the young lads coming up. Unfortunately where I was, everyone, not just metal workers, were made redundant, so that custom went by the board.)

It occurs to me that in the future society there will be more time for people to help each other and to do work properly rather than bodging things up. I’m lucky as my neighbours tend to help each other, though I know others are not so fortunate. That said, the lass next door hasn’t yet returned my spade!

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Aladinane
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Sep 15 2011 14:16

I took the liberty of drawing up a design, I think you should start work immediately.

I used ms paint, can you tell?

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Sep 15 2011 16:59

This has possibilities though perhaps it needs a few mods. Looks like turning your head would dislocate a shoulder. Anyway, if we’re thinking of getting flint-locks I’d want a Davy Crockett hat. Perhaps wait till body armour can be 3-D printed, I imagine it will be a lot less noisy.
Sorry Yoda, didn’t mean to mess up your thread.

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Sep 15 2011 19:43
Aladinane wrote:
There could also be an element of planned obsolescence here, or at least that many consumer/DIY tools and equipment are simply produced as cheaply as possible with no consideration of durability.

An element ? I would go a lot further, most stuff is not designed to last so you will buy another one

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Aladinane
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Sep 15 2011 20:49

I don't know, I think perhaps planned obsolescence can be overestimated. I can certainly imagine competitive reasons why a company would produce goods to last, providing that the consumer is well informed and has enough money. Sheppard gives the example that computers are often outdated before you even get them out of the box but I imagine this has more to do with Moore's law than planned obsolescence.

Of course, take away competition and there's no reason at all not to make goods to last.

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Auld-bod
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Sep 15 2011 21:23

There are cheep items manufactured not to last, like plastic toys which will not sustain long term usage. I’m not thinking of abuse just average wear and tear. However a large percentage of ‘obsolete goods’ such as cast-off clothes are simply no longer fashionable and it is irrelevant the quality of their manufacture. Indeed those sad ‘dedicated followers of fashion’ will often have to buy the best, only to charity shop it as passé the following session. Old Ray Davis knew what he was talking about as far back as 1966. No one is immune to the pressure to consume.

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Sep 16 2011 03:10
Aladinane wrote:
Sheppard gives the example that computers are often outdated before you even get them out of the box but I imagine this has more to do with Moore's law than planned obsolescence..

There's another way to do planned obsolescence in the tech market, which is to produce a slightly better product every so often even when you could have produced the better product almost immediately, so that people essentially buy the small thing several times, but just slightly upgraded each time by design. Apple and Intel both, apparently rely on this strategy very heavily, and I expect other companies do too.,

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Sep 16 2011 08:23

LOL that is so true red ed. Me and my mates constantly insult a guy called Joe because he is so much of an apple fan with exactly that point. They also try to disguise standard things as a new innovation. We were going through the apparent 250 new features on I think it was the new ipad. One of them was "drag and drop files" or something. Its hilarious.

Jenre
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Sep 16 2011 13:05
RedEd wrote:
Aladinane wrote:
Sheppard gives the example that computers are often outdated before you even get them out of the box but I imagine this has more to do with Moore's law than planned obsolescence..

There's another way to do planned obsolescence in the tech market, which is to produce a slightly better product every so often even when you could have produced the better product almost immediately, so that people essentially buy the small thing several times, but just slightly upgraded each time by design. Apple and Intel both, apparently rely on this strategy very heavily, and I expect other companies do too.,

Apple really are the masters of this

they've been doing it with ipods since the 2nd gen was released and continued the trend with the iphone and ipad

RedHughs
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Sep 18 2011 04:06

Looking for communism to be "efficient" misses the point as usual...

The question is whether communism is a system which creates a human community. Within communism, the process of producing things may often be its own reward. Contrast a skilled bike frame builder creating something she loves with a bike factory worker desperately maximizing production. The question is not "who's most efficient?".

Capitalism is obviously the productive means of production history has seen so far. It's blown up mountains, drained seas, and transformed the entire earth. It is clearly extremely efficient in some ways.

Communism has existed in fits and starts, if at all, so far in history. Contrasting the two system's efficiencies just seems ridiculous.

If you can inculcate a worker to literally live at his desk and spend every waking producing, you have certainly discovered an efficient way to use him as resource. So what?

If the resources this regime uses to inflict misery were used for our satisfaction, even with considerably less efficiency, our world would be immeasurably more pleasant.

On the other hand, one can prove mathematically that the market is not, in general, an efficient allocator of resources by itself. I've played with these mathematical formulations a bit but they are ultimately beside the point. Capitalism has filled the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with utmost efficiency. Do you need to know more...

Next Question!

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Chilli Sauce
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Sep 18 2011 08:59
Quote:
The question is whether communism is a system which creates a human community. Within communism, the process of producing things may often be its own reward. Contrast a skilled bike frame builder creating something she loves with a bike factory worker desperately maximizing production. The question is not "who's most efficient?".

Very true, but

Quote:
Looking for communism to be "efficient" misses the point as usual...

I sympathise with the OP. I think we can make your argument and take on apologists of capital on one of their main points, namely the supposed superiority of capitalism efficiency.

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Sep 18 2011 19:02

@ RedHughs - Yes sure our aim is to develop a economic system that is more humane primarily, but you can't just palm efficiency of as a question that need not and should not be asked.

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Chilli Sauce
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Sep 18 2011 20:50

Also, I'm all about techno-communism. Let's automate the fuck out of factories precisely so we can focus on socially useful and psychologically rewarding tasks like the bike example listed above,

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Sep 18 2011 21:02

I think I will tentatively say Im with you on that. The less work we have to do post revolution, the better and funner smile Lets just hope we won't get bored, or is that my still brainwashed thinking coming through, because you could interpret that to be saying "you should strive hard to become a wage slave because its boring sitting there in your house not having to rent yourself out to some boss"

action_now
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Sep 18 2011 21:05
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
Lets just hope we won't get bored, or is that my still brainwashed thinking coming through, because you could interpret that to be saying "you should strive hard to become a wage slave because its boring sitting there in your house not having to rent yourself out to some boss"

well if you were bored, i don't think anyone will have any problem with you doing any labour, i won't use the term work since it wouldn't be complusory, if you really want to.

RedHughs
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Sep 18 2011 21:45
Quote:
RedHughs - Yes sure our aim is to develop a economic system that is more humane primarily, but you can't just palm efficiency of as a question that need not and should not be asked.

Well despite not addressing my arguments, that does sound reasonable.

But I would claim this sounds reasonable mostly because we're all conditioned to considering "the economy" an external "entity" that does things and that we react to. The point is that "the economy" is what we all do. We want to create a system which

You can prove that an abstract market system doesn't maximize the output of an abstract production in the most general case. The condition for the market maximizing output of such an abstract multi-input, multi-output system is that Langrangian multipliers or shadow prices would be equal the equilibrium produer prices (in a Marxian or Sraffian sense). A simple calculation shows that this implies that the production function is equal to the classic Cobb-Douglas function. This is a restricted condition which does not occur in generality. So you show that a hypothetical different abstract system might be able to utilize resources more efficiently. QED but so what?

You won't convince a libertarian nutcase with this argument anyway. Even if you did, this is only argument that some other process than the market could attain higher efficiency than the market - for example, some hypothetical state/private fusion or something. You can't argue yourself out of the abstraction of the economy from life using abstract mathematics (much as I might actually enjoy the maths).

The sooner we let go of "the economy" as an abstraction outside of the total activity of people today, the sooner we'll be thinking of communism, see my earlier points...

Edit: Also, "efficiency" is essentially the perspective that the "intermediate processes" of "economic activity" are wasted, useless effort and need to be avoided in a favor of "the final result". My argument is that a communist society would reorganize all of human activity to make it satisfying, "ecologically friendly", "sustainable" and such rather than focusing on merely the final result. Obviously, you'd have to consider whether you could produce enough to meet basic, biological needs. But given modern technology, that seems pretty darn easy.

RedHughs
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Sep 18 2011 22:07
Quote:
I think we can make your argument and take on apologists of capital on one of their main points, namely the supposed superiority of capitalism efficiency.

Also, agian, if take purely, purely capitalist efficiency perspective, you could argue that capitalism is more efficient.

Taking an example from "my industry", If a software company hires twenty-something kids to work eighteen hours a day writing software, these kids would likely produce less good software per hour than a better trained person working eight hours a day. The kids would also wind-up burn-out husks after say, ten or fifteen years. But the end result could still be more software for less money for the capitalist. Is that efficient? Sure, if people are to be used as "resource", like bacteria on a petri dish, then using them up and destroying them might be very efficient for those harvesting them. What is the argument to that?

RedHughs
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Sep 18 2011 22:15

(dupe)

radicalgraffiti
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Sep 19 2011 17:01

efficient at what is the important thing. capitalism may produce certain types of things more efficiently than communism, but if they are things that we don't want producing, or it is at the expense of producing or maintain something we do want than that is not a point in capitalism favour.