1. Pindrop
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    Commercialism, Globalisation and all that jazz

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Pindrop, Jul 23, 2016.

    In the wake of Brexit.... Actually I will get into that a little. I voted against it, I think that Brexit was a victory of nostalgia for a time that has passed, an Empire that is long lost to history. But I do not mourn the result, I think it was a vote against inequality in a world ruled by the 1%, and in which corporations acting in the name of profit have become more powerful than governments acting in the interests of their electorate. So I actually welcome the vote on the basis that it is a vote against loss of sovereignty, and a vote against the arrogance of the EU, which refuses to change in the face of populist demands, that even sees "populism" as a dirty word when it is the lifeblood of democracy. Rich economies cannot continue to prop poor economies, poor economies must be allowed to have their own fiscal and monetary policies, to devalue their own currencies in order to stimulate growth, and the EU will fail because it prevents these basic economic tools. So perhaps we left at the correct time. It is a shame that the arguments used for Brexit were so xenophobic and ignorant.

    ...sorry long aside. It led me to start writing a piece set in the UK after rebellion against the ruling classes. At the apex of a conversation, the following is said; "The truth is that history repeats; when the rich take too much the poor get restless. It happens every single time. But there is no moral high ground, the rich and poor are no different, other than by luck and circumstance. If you were to switch one for the other they would behave the same way."

    What I am after is your opinions on inequality in the globalised world, which should help me with defining a few of my characters viewpoints. Even comments on lizard-men, Illuminati etc are welcome. Cheers in advance.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there a clear tie linking globalisation to income inequality? I know it doesn't do much to fix inequality, but there were haves and have-nots long before globalisation was even a remote possibility.

    It seems to me that globalisation may tend to create more geographic distance between the haves and have-nots, which may make the have-nots less of a threat to the haves, at least in the short term? But then this might build and build and lead to global wars and terrorism rather than localised revolts or riots.

    I'm enough of a neo-Marxist to see economic inequalities at the root of a lot of the world's problems, for sure. But I've never been crystal clear on the ties to globalisation.
     
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  3. Pindrop
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    There probably is no clear link; but it cannot be denied that the rich-poor gap has been widening over recent years, and in both the US and UK there is research that shows that millennials will be poorer than baby-boomers, which was recently plastered all over the news in the UK (I haven't looked into the validity of this research myself, but its prominence on the news tells a lot about popular opinion). It is my own personal opinion that baby-boomers were astonishingly selfish, at least in the UK; they bought houses, second homes, holiday homes, buy-to-lets, forcing their children to rent; they wrote themselves unsustainable pension plans, leaving their children to pay them off; they borrowed using fiat currencies, leaving their children to prop those fiat currencies when government decree looses its value (which is inevitable); they destroyed the environment, leaving their children to clean it up; they took us into illegal wars leaving a power vacuum that was filled by terrorists. This has all manifested in Brexit in the UK, the rise of Nationalism in Europe and Trump in the US.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think that, in terms of a fictional engagement, there are many ways to engage the dynamic and some of them may have to do with the particular kind of inequality one personally experiences. I'm a member of the LGBT community, and it was corporations that first recognized the validity of my relationship with my spouse (extending health benefits and so on) long before the de jour governmental structure of the U.S.A. chose to recognize my spouse as my spouse. I'm not saying that my personal take is any way objective. In fact, I'm saying the opposite. It's very, very subjective.

    Regardless.... One of my two large WIP's has, as part of the setting, an idea I took after researching the Brazilian move toward complete self-reliance. It's a long thought process from that starting point to what came to be in the story, but in short, in the world inhabited by my MC Marco, who is a citizen of the Brazilian Federation of Worlds, the rights one has as an individual are directly tied to the economic connections one makes through employment and other commercial affiliations. As a random, fictitious example, his choice of purchasing a particular brand of feed for his farm means his access to medical care is extended through that company and that company alone. His choice of farming equipment is what gives him access to a particular line of space travel, etc. In this world, corporations are less the de facto governement, and more the accepted de jour governement. Just an idea experiement, really.
     
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  5. Pindrop
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    Thanks. Part of the discourse will be about Tyranny of the Majority, which in pure democracy may not have afforded you the rights you currently have (i.e. the solution may be worse than the status quo- or frying pan-fire). I love the idea that loyalty to a brand can extend your personal rights... I'll look into this.
     
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  6. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    This isn't entirely true. There were lots of people that voted to leave and didn't pay attention to the
    so called 'Brexit leaders' or the mainstream arguments. They voted because they have their
    own political ideas about being tied to a centralized European organization. They're not racist
    or xenophobic, and many of them are very intelligent and well-educated.

    They got together and had their own discussion, exchanged their own
    ideas etc. Just because their images and ideas weren't widely disseminated by the media,
    doesn't mean they didn't exist. That's the danger of letting the mainstream media be your main
    source of information. You miss the very real nuances of the very real world that's going
    on around you.

    It's a fallacy to assume that Bojo et al represent the entire Exit Vote. And it's quite ignorant
    to label all Exit arguments as xenophobic.

    Of course, I'm sure there was an element of prejudice and ignorance. But to claim without proof
    that this negativity is the dominant factor is quite frankly lazy and unhelpful to the cause
    of meaningful resolution.

    And to be further frank, I found ignorance in the Remain campaign as well.

    I didn't pay it much attention, admittedly. I don't buy tabloid newspapers and don't watch TV.
    I simply observe the world around me, read good quality journals and form opinions that way.
    But when I did pay it a bit of attention, all I found was empty slogans, and people making
    claims without backing them up with reasoned arguments. It was almost like the media presented
    a set of opinions and some people picked them off the shelf and wore them like trendy
    clothes. But then I'm not surprised: there's always been an element of intellectual
    laziness in our allegedly advanced democratic society.

    If I was a tutor tasked with marking their statements, I would've failed many of them
    such was the low level of discussion. I just don't think this is a good way to make
    important national decisions. Until people en masse actually make the effort to
    work things out instead of watching TV, our national debates will by-and-large
    be useless and unproductive.

    That said, I'm hopeful that such dialectical tension will encourage people to get
    their thinking caps on, roll their sleeves up and take an active role in the development
    of their own society. Time to up our game. Time to make good on the promises
    we've made about moral enlightenment, education and social advancement.
    For too long these ideas have been little more an IOUs.

    Time to redefine what it actually means to be a democratic citizen.

    I'm sure you have many things to say in response to this. But I've had
    my fill of 'Exit/Remain' discussion. So I'll leave you to it.

    I'm quite happy to live a simple life in the countryside, good food, good
    wine, good company; art, poetry and storytelling. To me, this is the stuff
    of the good life. Maybe as I get older I'm becoming more Epicurean.

    So on this note, I wish you all the best in your pursuit of truth and understanding.

    No hard feelings to anyone, agreeable or otherwise.

    Peace.

     
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  7. Pindrop
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    Pindrop Banned

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    Perhaps I should rephrase that the arguments put forward in the media were overwhelmingly xenophobic and ignorant. The stay campaign also relied on fear and nonsense. As my original post stated, there are very clear advantages to leaving the EU, so I am not sure if your argument is aimed at me or some strawman you decided to kick over.
     
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  8. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, now that you've modified the statement it's a little bit clearer. I was responding
    to the original statement, which, for me, represents a prevailing attitude I frequently
    come across and never fail to be irritated by lol

    Peace.
     
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  9. Pindrop
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    I wonder if you would support the EU if it was a pure trade pact, an economic Schengen zone, rather than a movement towards a federal government?
     
  10. Pindrop
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    Apologies @BayView that was rather a dismissive and antagonistic response. I agree entirely that globalisation is not clearly linked to inequality, in fact, as @Wreybies mentioned, some corporations, particularly in the US (excuse split infinitive), has resulted in corporate interests overriding draconian state laws, and while I dislike the idea that corporations can override the will of the people, thank fuck, in certain circumstances, they have; that certain corporations have upheld the rights of the minority against the will of the baying mob. I also think this is an indictment on the chasms in US society that these situations ever arise. To be honest, the US is a poor example of how a cohesive society should function, and although the UK have voted themselves out of the EU, I truly believe that beyond the mindless Kafkaist bureaucratic narcissism of the likes of Juncker (who got swiftly slapped down by Merkel (thank God she is sensible)), that Europe is a fine example of freedom and tolerance. We should be, we have had years of democracy to hone it.

    As with all representative democracy, the people with the ulterior motives, the selfish individuals, end up in charge, they are the only people who would go for the job. Unfortunately the caring, socially conscious, altruistic individuals do not have the conceit to chase the job, or the arrogance to feel that their opinions are of greater importance than the people they serve. So yes, since the dawn of time the selfish individuals have compelled themselves into a position of authority in order to further their own agenda. I find conspiracy theories silly, but the rich and powerful have always dictated the course of history. Human nature is not a conspiracy. In the past they have only had a limited jurisdiction, but in a globalised world the rich and powerful have a common purpose that can turn into a great covert machination. They create laws to keep themselves rich, the only freedom they allow is the freedom to continue buying their wares unimpeded. They have no interest in the rights of the individual, unless it opens up new markets for them to sell their wares. There is no altruism in them.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    I feel as if there are two definitions of "have-nots" going on with globalization:

    - The have-nots in moderately wealthy countries, who don't get paid enough, and get stop getting paid at all when their jobs are sent overseas. When they were the only labor source, companies had to make at least some effort to pay them; now that those companies can go elsewhere, they can leave their local have-nots out in the cold.

    - The have-nots that are getting those jobs that were taken away from the have-nots in the moderately wealthy countries.

    It seems to me that the conflict is too often couched as the poor versus the poorer, the moderately poor trying to make sure that the extremely poor don't take any of what they've got.

    With no one making any effort to keep the rich from bleeding everyone dry.

    Because a situation where we paid people fairly for the wealth that they create with their labor would be communism or socialism or something evil. All goodness stems from creating a clear field for bleeding the poor. And when you transform the middle-class into the poor, you've created more good! Yay!

    Yes, there was a good deal of sarcasm there at the end. In case there was doubt.
     
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  12. Pindrop
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    I hate to sound like a hippy, but rewarding a trait other than greed would be a good start to remedying this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    One interesting thing about corporations is that in many situations it's actually illegal for them to be altruistic. And I don't think that's a bad thing, necessarily.

    They sell shares based on their ability to make money, so if they turn around and start doing things that don't make money, they're essentially in breach of the contract they made with their shareholders.

    In a perfect world, I think this could be a fair mechanism. If ownership shares were equally distributed (employee-owned, for example) and if there was enough political will and resources to enforce legislation re. environmental protection, consumer protection, etc. I think corporations would be an efficient, and, frankly, almost socialist mechanism. I can't afford to buy a software company outright but I can buy shares in Apple and benefit from their success.

    So I would argue that there's nothing wrong with corporate structure, per se, there's just something wrong with the regulatory bodies that should be keeping corporations in line, and aren't.
     
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  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was just hearing that there's some sort of corporate structure that makes this not-illegal. If I successfully Google what it's called, I'll come back and note it.

    I'm back: Benefit corporation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefit_corporation
     
  15. Pindrop
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    Pindrop Banned

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    I hate to agree, but I do. If a customer base (and lets be honest, most customers are young and enlightened ;)) want a corporation to behave in a certain way, then it is in the interest of profit/ shareholder returns, to fulfill the wishes of their customer bases. Is that a bad thing? Emphatically no.
     
  16. Pindrop
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    I gotta say, in the UK (lawyer) it is not illegal to be altruistic. It is illegal not to act in the interest of shareholders, or to be negligent (i.e. act contrary to insurance).
     
  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, sorry, I should have been more clear. As long as the shareholders know about the situation when they invest their money, fine.

    But if they bought shares thinking the corporation was going to be working toward profit and growth, and then the corporation started giving money away (and couldn't justify this as some sort of PR move or whatever), the shareholders would have reason to complain.

    ETA: And now I'm thinking of the Friends episode about how every act is inherently selfish - you help others to make yourself feel good, etc. If corporations can prove that their apparent altruism is actually a form of self-interest, they should be fine. But if they can't, barring special circumstances like the one you mentioned, they could have trouble.
     
  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Possibly we're not using the same definition of "altruism". It's hard for me to think of an example of true corporate altruism that would be in the interest of shareholders - can you give me an example?
     
  19. Pindrop
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    Of course, Pret used to give sandwiches away to the homeless at the end of the day = GREAT PR!!

    EDIT: I should add insurers stopped them, hence the second part of my post. Fucking insurers protecting risk :(
     
  20. Ben414
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    Economics is affected by and affects many other factors such as government institutions, violence, education, environmental factors, etc. so trying to determine whether a specific economic policy is good or bad in isolation isn't particularly useful. Globalization isn't inherently good or bad. Looking at the current incarnation of globalization in context, one thing I would make note of is how corporations in developed countries like the US and UK make profits by exploiting the populations of other less developed countries. It's not sufficient to just note how the economy of a country affects inequality within the same country--it should also be analyzed how it affects inequality across the globe. Right now, IMO too much of corporations profits comes from globalized rent seeking through taking advantage of countries with weak labor laws or state institutions that can't effectively prepare and organize its labor. Globalization has helped many people get out of the most severe forms of poverty (since it takes such a small absolute increase in dollars per person to do so), but I'm skeptical whether its current incarnation in its current context will help those same people get into the middle class since the majority of the worldwide economic gains are being given to a tiny proportion of the population.
     
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  21. Pindrop
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    Agree.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, we're not really talking about the corporation giving money away, so much as behaving decently. OK, I shouldn't say "we"--I mean me. :)

    I'm talking about things like paying decent wages, and investing in employee training, and providing childcare, and recycling waste, and not trying to break unions, and providing sick leave, and lots of things like that. And if a company does hire overseas workers, paying those workers a decent local wage, and following a good level of safety and health standards for the plant. Basically, not being as evil as the law would allow them to be.

    I don't know if shareholders could successfully sue a company based on, "You had a SPRINKLER SYSTEM in your foreign plant, when the law didn't require you to care whether your worker burned to death! You allowed your workers to take NINE HOURS A DAY off for sleep and recuperation! You could have dumped your toxic waste in the rivers, and you DIDN'T! You--you---you--oh, my God, you provided SICK LEAVE?! We're gonna sue!!!!!"

    But...yeah, sadly, I could imagine that lawsuit working. I don't know just how evil the law requires a normal corporation to be.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, maybe the problem is that if it's in the interest of society and the shareholders, it stops looking like altruism?

    Imagine, say, a corporation that hires full-time employees, and pays them benefits and sick leave, and offers childcare, and gives them detailed high-quality training, and promotes them from within.

    And a corporation that makes sure that all employees are part time, so that they don't have to pay them benefits. And there's no sick leave, and training is quick and sloppy and ad hoc, the undertrained training the un-trained, and the very idea of childcare is laughable.

    The first employer will pay substantially more per employee, if you just do the math of dollar cost per hour worked. But that employer will also have far less turnover--and turnover is incredibly expensive. The employees will be doing better work, because they're better trained and less miserable and resentful, and because the better wages and work conditions mean that the employer can choose the best employees that apply. You won't have sick employees going through their day zombie-style and making other employees sick. Parents will do better work because they won't be as distracted by childcare requirements.

    So the first employer is paying more per hour worked, but they're also getting more benefit per hour worked. They're being altruistic, and they may also end up ahead.
     
  24. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I think if they can show that they're likely to come out ahead and that this is a business decision based on firm profit-oriented goals, however long-term, they'd be fine. If they couldn't show that, they might have trouble.
     

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