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Forum Post: The Power of the People

Posted 3 years ago on Nov. 5, 2011, 2:25 p.m. EST by Rico (3027)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

In a Democracy, we get the government we vote for. Likewise, Capitalism allows us to vote for the corporations of our choice with our dollars. By borrowing, we make the bankers rich. If we borrow money to buy foreign goods, we make the bankers rich AND lose our jobs.

We currently enjoy the political and economic state we "voted" for.

Referencing http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/housedebt/ we see that Americans spent not only their disposable income, but started borrowing at unprecedented levels starting in 2000 to buy foreign made goods. By 2008, fully 20% of disposable income was going toward household debt payments to pay for all those foreign goods. Our purchase of foreign goods produced a trade deficit that averaged 714 billion per year between 2005 and 2008, or $2.1 trillion in total cash outflow over a three year period ( http://tinyurl.com/CensusTradeData ).

The most positive action I have seen to date by OWS is the people voting with their dollars by closing Bank of America accounts and moving their funds to Credit Unions. This is how consumers change the face of corporate America.

You are all blessed with the Internet. Engage your representatives with rational positions; according to my own representatives, few people do. Research the companies with which you do business on a daily basis and stop doing business with those that do not pay a "living wage" or provide the benefits you feel are appropriate. Skip that self check lane at the supermarket and use one staffed by a human. Press "O" whenever a computer answers your call.

Above all, consider the full SOCIAL cost of each and every financial transaction you engage in.

Stop voting for the product with the cheapest purchase cost alone cost and consider your neighbors job now and then. This means you may actually have to pay a little more for the product, but this simply means your values are WORTH something to you. Stop selecting the most convenient choices like that computerized check-out lane, that computerized voice on the phone, Amazon.com, etc and insist on dealing with real people. You may have to wait a bit longer, but in waiting you are saying your values are WORTH something to you.

It is darned HARD to be a responsible citizen, but this effort is what is required of us if we are to live up to our Founder's faith in Man's ability to self-govern.

We the People have all the power to effect change. Use it.

28 Comments

28 Comments


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[-] 1 points by mikedenis (49) 3 years ago

boycott Wal-Mart

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

I'm going to ask you to do more. We need to grow some jobs without making the bankers rich in the process. I've taken some of the work out of this by creating some Christmas shopping guidelines at http://occupywallst.org/forum/ows-please-support-the-american-worker/ . Please spread the world as widely as you can via your social networks and let me know how many folks you seeded so I can keep a tally !

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

"Stop voting for the product with the cheapest purchase cost alone cost and consider your neighbors job now and then. This means you may actually have to pay a little more for the product, but this simply means your values are WORTH something to you."

This actually means that YOUR values are worth something to me.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

I would say "Thanks!" but I don't think you meant to complement me ;o)

I can restate my post in language you may find more appealing. I COULD have said ...

"You kids need to stop whining about banks, no jobs, fair wages, and so on. YOU caused these problems by the decisions YOU made when you borrowed money to buy your Chinese iPhones, decided to do all your shopping on-line, etc. MAN UP and take responsibility for your decisions. If you want companies to do the 'right' thing, then don't SHOP at companies that do the 'wrong' thing. If you don't want the bankers to get rich, then stop BORROWING from them. You can't have it both ways."

Would that be better ?

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

Yes, I was just pointing out that you were implying that your values (which you stated only implicity) should be held by everyone as if they they were the only ideas which could be considered as values.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Nope. People can do whatever they want, but if they don't like like how companies are behaving, they DO have the power to "vote" against them with their dollars. I for one, don't like the fact that We the People have driven so many jobs overseas, and I will do my utmost to try and encourage them to buy American if they agree. That's my right.

[-] 0 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

It is, but please recognize that the cause of businesses shipping jobs overseas is the minimum wage laws and overwhelming government regulation. We have the power to vote for or against companies we wish to support. There is no need for the government to determine what we can or cannot buy and by whom and what method it is to be produced.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

To be fully correct, it was the low cost of Chinese labor versus the cost of capital investment that drove our factories off-shore. They have human labor doing what is normally done using robotics in modern economies.

I never advocated Government control of business. I advocate CONSUMER control of business, and THAT'S certainly nothing new ! If American companies, DO come back on shore, they will likely HAVE to use robotics to keep prices "in the window" of consumer tolerance (folks won't pay TWICE the cost for social reasons). We will, however get back all the higher level assembly work.

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

what is meant by "capital investment" if not wages and red-tape fees?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

I used "Capital Investment" in the common sense of equipment, facilities, etc. These are investments in real property that are typically depreciated over their service life.

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

Ok, makes sense. So you're saying that in a free market economy (in one with no minimum wage or other government intervention), it would be more cost-effective to employ people instead of using machines?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

No. I'm saying that American companies COULD have made capital investments in robotics and still remained competitive. Instead of making that investment, they took the easier path of out-sourcing to the same slave labor as used by their competitors.

While robotics would eliminate some jobs on the line (as in automobile companies), we would at least retain the upper level assembly, quality control, inventory management, and all the other jobs associated with a manufacturing plant.

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

Are you suggesting that workers in other countries are forced to work for American companies by their respective governments?

Also, by 'remained competitive', do you mean that they could have offered their goods at the same or lower prices and maintained or improved the quality of those goods by making these capital investments in robotics instead of shipping jobs overseas?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Watch the news. The workers are not forced to work in their squalid conditions by their government, but their government does not intervene on their behalf or provide adequate services. Instead, it amasses great wealth and rattles its saber in the China Sea.

Yes, I mean American companies elected to use cheap foreign labor rather than make capital investments that would have allowed them to remain competitive while operating domestically. Unfortunately, it's much cheaper to simply exploit foreign workers. While I am no big fan of robotics in general, they might have been employed to counter the cheap labor of foreign markets, and it would have been better for American to retain some manufacturing jobs rather than lose them all.

Once China's economy is mature, it's wages will rise and they will no longer enjoy the advantage of cheap labor. It will also increase domestic consumption and be less dependent on exports. Once that condition is attained, I believe the entire world will need to either reconsider expanding human labor use or prepare for a major shift in it's socio-economic paradigm. Robots are a dangerous dance partners.

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

If the workers are not forced to work, then how can offering them jobs they otherwise would not have be considered 'exploitation'? And, if investing in robotic labor in the US is really a competitive option, why take the risk of another country nationalizing resources you own (by relying on labor and infrastructure located in another country)? It's certainly happened before. While I am certainly no great student of China's economic policy, I'm going to guess that they have a mixed economy similar to our own?

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Just as when American workers left their farms to see the promise of prosperity only to find terrible conditions, the Chinese leave their farms for the big cities. In our case, we eventually had the labor uprising to fix the issues, but that can't happen in China because the government won't let it.

The risk of the Chinese nationalizing US assets was removed via the rule sets they had to accept in order to receive our Direct Foreign Investment dollars (and Euros).

I'm not sure what you mean by "mixed economy."

I was once a big fan of Ayn Rand, "free trade," laissez-faire capitalism, etc, but my understanding has matured to acknowledge the real world just isn't as simple as I thought. I still prefer things be TILTED in the direction I did before, but I now understand all of these things have to be moderated to accommodate reality.

[-] 1 points by whisper (212) 3 years ago

By a mixed economy I mean an economy in which there is some level of individual economic freedom and some level of government control. I do not believe that the 'labor uprising' fixed any issues. Perhaps it sated the hunger of those who had been promised the impossible, but I don't think that forcing wages higher than would otherwise be offered in a free market is a lasting solution to anything. As we can see, it has caused businesses to employ people in other countries which do not implement such measures, or which implement them to a lesser degree.

I am curious, what aspects of the real world caused you to forsake the ideals of laissez-faire capitalism?

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[-] 0 points by USCitizenVoter (720) 3 years ago

nice post I like it.

HARD to be a responsible citizen

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Initially, all we need to do is focus on growing some jobs without making the bankers rich in the process. I've taken some of the work out of this by creating some Christmas shopping guidelines at http://occupywallst.org/forum/ows-please-support-the-american-worker/ . Please spread the world as widely as you can via your social networks and let me know how many folks you seeded so I can keep a tally !

[-] 0 points by USCitizenVoter (720) 3 years ago

saved a link in fav.

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[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Zeitgeist is always interesting, but the idea of a "zeitgeist movement" is contradictory in the same way a National Anarchist Party would run contrary to its own premise.

I agree that knowledge, society, civilization, etc are living breathing organisms that evolve over time. Trying to accelerate their progress toward some selected end, however, defies the very idea of evolution.

Messing with evolution according to the very limited understanding we hold at any given point is dangerous work. It's akin to trying to "improve" the human genome.

[-] 0 points by Thrasymaque (-2138) 3 years ago

Zeitgeist has been debunked ten times over.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Include my comment, and you can say "11 times over." ;o)

[-] 0 points by Thrasymaque (-2138) 3 years ago

In a Democracy, we get the government we vote for. In Capitalism, we get the corporations we buy from.

You commit a logical fallacy in the opening lines of your article making the rest of it worthless.

A democracy is a governmental structure, while capitalism is a monetary structure. It is not either/or. They can both co-exist.

[-] 1 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

What ? I never said they don't coexist. Capitalism is economic Democracy.

[-] 0 points by Thrasymaque (-2138) 3 years ago

The construction of your two first sentences imply this. You might want to rewrite them.

[-] 5 points by Rico (3027) 3 years ago

Done, thought I doubt it matters.... posts in this forum get pushed off the page so quickly, it's hardly worth posting at all !