Kermit's Last Post (Destiny)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, November 04, 2019, 15:51 (1660 days ago) @ cheapLEY

Here are my cards on the table: I'm a capitalist, but not without some serious reservations. Because humans participate in capitalism and socialism, both can be corrupted by cronyism and greed, as history has plainly shown. That said, I think liberal democratic capitalism is undeniably responsible for a 30-fold increase in living standards over the last 200 years.

There's no denying that. But what's the cost? We have simply exported our atrocities and environmental destruction in service of the almighty dollar.

I am not anti-capitalist, necessarily. I'm very anti-whatever our current form of bullshit is, though. We can do better than a world in which thousands of people are dying every single day because bloodsucking middlemen in the form of private health insurance companies exist. We can do better than allowing massive corporations to avoid taxes and letting billionaires form policy through what amounts to legal bribery.

Greed and corruption are rampant in both socialists and capitalists systems. We need a mixing of the two. We need far more regulation for massive companies wreaking havoc on the world to produce a bunch of useless bullshit that ultimately ends up in the garbage. And we need better social safety nets.

This has strayed pretty far from the origin of this thread. In the grand scheme of things, I don't think Bungie is really the problem. I don't like a lot of stuff about the Eververse, as we discussed last week. I don't have a problem with their physical store. I am a little flabbergasted that they decided it was worth producing a $160 piece of foam, just because I think it's ridiculously stupid, but, whatever, I'm not going to buy it and I'm not going to waste time caring if someone else wants to buy one.

I do just want to call out the confusion at the younger generation embracing socialism, though. How could they not? Look around at what's happening in this country. Wages are as low as they've ever been while companies post record profits year after year and just generally wreak havoc to do it. We can do so much better than we are, and if that means embracing some socialist policies, I'll board that fucking train.

The problem I have with some of your line of thought here is that it seems to presume (please correct me if I’m wrong) that changing the system will reduce corruption/greed. I don’t think that’s true. I think as long as human beings are behaving in the world, there will be corruption and greed. That’s why I have so little time for the typical “capitalism is bad because GREED” arguments... it’s utterly ignorant. It looks to me like the only answer to greed and corruption is the good will and hard work of other people, and a system that allows those elements to flourish stands the best chance.

It’s not that I think capitalism is the ultimate end-solution or anything like that, but it is so clearly, far and away the best system we’ve come up with, and that’s a BIG DEAL. It’s taken us hundreds of thousands of years to reach this point, and life on earth for most human beings was utterly miserable, short, and filled with suffering. The fact that we’ve clawed our way up out of that is miraculous. And the system and way of life that has allowed that is so complicated, that it’s dangerous to mess with it in any extreme way. We don’t fully understand it. A slight little tweak, and it all could go off the rails. That’s why, despite the fact that I’m generally a left-leaning guy, I get very conservative when it comes to suggestions of messing with what we have. Human beings are terrible at predicting the results of our actions, especially when it comes to something as monstrously complex as western civilization. The chances that any grand, sweeping changes will make things worse instead of better is almost 100%.

Now, on the environmental side, there are some serious concerns there, and we need to deal with them. But we also need perspective. We didn’t even know that our industries were effecting the environment in any real way until ~40-60 years ago. That’s nothing. And yet, in that time, there are some areas in which we’ve made huge progress. There are more trees in the northern hemisphere today than there were 70 years ago (but nobody knows that, because the media only reports the bad news). There is also the widespread general trend that has been well documented by UN environmental researchers that as people around the world get lifted into better living conditions, their local environments start to clean up. Turns out when people aren’t starving to death and live in relative safety, they begin to care about their local environment and work to clean it up. (On a related note, this trend correlates perfectly with the spread of free market capitalism in under-developed nations).

This is where the environmental discussion gets real tricky. When I listen to experts who study the environment and it’s effects on us, and I listen to what they recommend, it doesn’t line up at all with what I hear from “environmental activists”. The activists seem to ignore the proposed solutions from experts, and instead focus on anything vaguely anti-capitalist. You don’t have to dig very deep to discover how many of the environmental activists are self-proclaimed socialists or even full-blown communists. So it’s not surprising that they’re using the environment as a guise to attack capitalism. The problem is they’ve hijacked the entire discussion, so ACTUAL solutions are being ignored.

The most comprehensive and well-rounded research that I’ve found attacks the whole issue from a very different angle. They point out that higher standards of living lead to more concern about the environment from the wider population. They also point out that human beings themselves, when thriving, are the best problem-solving mechanism we know of. We’ve seen it before. Diseases, mass starvation... they were the “environmental crisis” of 40 or 100 years ago. And we solved them by raising standards of living and producing more geniuses (turns out the two are actually related), and those geniuses went to work and created solutions. New developments in battery technology, or the creation of cleaner power sources can and will do wonders for our efforts to clean up the environment. But nothing like that is going to happen if we start dismantling our economic prosperity. If we go by the experts, then proposals like the Green New Deal are just about the worst things we could do to clean up the environment. But again, if anyone believes for a second that the Green New Deal is actually about the environment, they’re not paying attention.

All this to say, the struggle to correct the harm we’re doing to the environment is a) very important, and b) not going to be solved by dismantling democratic capitalism, which is actually the only system we have that produces anything resembling a solution. That is, unless a drastic increase in human suffering is considered an “ok solution”.

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