The Guardian: Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world


mentalfloss
#1
Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world

The École d'économie de Paris (the Paris School of Economics) is actually situated in the most un-Parisian part of the city. It is on the boulevard Jourdan in the lower end of the 14th arrondissement, bordered on one side by the Parc Montsouris. Unlike most French parks, there is a distinct lack of Gallic order here; in fact, with lakes, open spaces, and its greedy and inquisitive ducks, you could very easily be in a park in any British city. The campus of the Paris School of Economics, however, looks unmistakably and reassuringly like nearly all French university campuses. That is to say, it is grey, dull and broken down, the corridors smelling vaguely of cabbage. This is where I have arranged an interview with Professor Thomas Piketty, a modest young Frenchman (he is in his early 40s), who has spent most of his career in archives and collecting data, but is just about to emerge as the most important thinker of his generation – as the Yale academic Jacob Hacker put it, a free thinker and a democrat who is no less than "an Alexis de Tocqueville for the 21st century".

This is on account of his latest work, which is called Capital in the Twenty-First Century. This is a huge book, more than 700 pages long, dense with footnotes, graphs and mathematical formulae. At first sight it is unashamedly an academic tome and seems both daunting and incomprehensible. In recent weeks and months the book has however set off fierce debates in the United States about the dynamics of capitalism, and especially the apparently unstoppable rise of the tiny elite that controls more and more of the world's wealth. In non-specialist blogs and websites across America, it has ignited arguments about power and money, questioning the myth at the very heart of American life – that capitalism improves the quality of life for everyone. This is just not so, says Piketty, and he makes his case in a clear and rigorous manner that debunks everything that capitalists believe about the ethical status of making money.

The groundbreaking status of the book was recognised by a recent long essay in the New Yorker in which Branko Milanovic, a former senior economist at the World Bank, was quoted as describing Piketty's volume as "one of the watershed books in economic thinking". In the same vein, a writer in the Economist reported that Piketty's work fundamentally rewrote 200 years of economic thinking on inequality. In short, the arguments have centred on two poles: the first is a tradition that begins with Karl Marx, who believed that capitalism would self-destruct in the endless pursuit of diminishing profit returns. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the work of Simon Kuznets, who won a Nobel prize in 1971 and who made the case that the inequality gap inevitably grows smaller as economies develop and become sophisticated.

Piketty says that neither of these arguments stand up to the evidence he has accumulated. More to the point, he demonstrates that there is no reason to believe that capitalism can ever solve the problem of inequality, which he insists is getting worse rather than better. From the banking crisis of 2008 to the Occupy movement of 2011, this much has been intuited by ordinary people. The singular significance of his book is that it proves "scientifically" that this intuition is correct. This is why his book has crossed over into the mainstream – it says what many people have already been thinking.

"I did deliberately aim the book at the general reader," says Piketty as we begin our conversation, "and although it is obviously a book which can be read by specialists too, I wanted the information here to be made clear to everyone who wants to read it.' And indeed it has to said that Capital in the Twenty-First Century is surprisingly readable. It is packed with anecdotes and literary references that illuminate the narrative. It also helps that it is fluently translated by Arthur Goldhammer, a literary stylist who has tackled the work of the likes of Albert Camus. But even so, as I note that Piketty's bookshelves are lined with such headache-inducing titles as The Principles of Microeconomics and The Political Influence of Keynesianism, simple folk like me still need some help here. So I asked him the most obvious question I could: what is the big idea behind this book?

"I began with a straightforward research problematic," he says in elegant French-accented English. "I began to wonder a few years ago where was the hard data behind all the theories about inequality, from Marx to David Ricardo (the 19th-century English economist and advocate of free trade) and more contemporary thinkers. I started with Britain and America and I discovered that there wasn't much at all. And then I discovered that the data that did exist contradicted nearly all of the theories including Marx and Ricardo. And then I started to look at other countries and I saw a pattern beginning to emerge, which is that capital, and the money that it produces, accumulates faster than growth in capital societies. And this pattern, which we last saw in the 19th century, has become even more predominant since the 1980s when controls on capital were lifted in many rich countries."

So, Piketty's thesis, supported by his extensive research, is that financial inequality in the 21st century is on the rise, and accelerating at a very dangerous pace. For one thing, this changes the way we look at the past. We already knew that the end of capitalism predicted by Marx never happened – and that even by the time of the Russian revolution of 1917, wages across the rest of Europe were already on the rise. We also knew that Russia was anyway the most undeveloped country in Europe and it was for this reason that communism took root there. Piketty goes on to point out, however, that only the varying crises of the 20th century – mainly two world wars – prevented the steady growth of wealth by temporarily and artificially levelling out inequality. Contrary to our perceived perception of the 20th century as an age in which inequality was eroded, in real terms it was always on the rise.

In the 21st century, this is not only the case in the so-called "rich" countries – the US, the UK and western Europe – but also in Russia, China and other countries which are emerging from a phase of development. The real danger is that if this process is not arrested, poverty will increase at the same rate and, Piketty argues, we may well find that the 21st century will be a century of greater inequality, and therefore greater social discord, than the 19th century.

As he explains his ideas to me with formulae and theorems, it still sounds a little too technical (I am someone who struggled with O-level maths). But by listening carefully to Piketty (he is clearly a good and patient teacher) and by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks it does all start to make sense. For this beginner he explains that income is a flow – it moves and can grow and change according to output. Capital is a stock – its wealth comes from what has been accumulated "in all prior years combined". It's a bit like the difference between an overdraft and a mortgage, and if you don't ever get to own your house you'll never have any stock and always be poor.

..more....

Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world | Books | The Observer
 
Blackleaf
#2
I can't believe that, in this day and age, there are people who read - and quote - The Guardian.
 
DaSleeper
+1
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

I can't believe that, in this day and age, there are people who read - and quote - The Guardian.


See......You can do it.....A good, brief post....................
 
mentalfloss
#4
I did the forum the favour of putting it in the headline as a qualifier.

You're welcome boys.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#5
Question: exactly what duty did capitalism have to "the world" that it failed to perform?

And follow-up question: Assuming you answered "Capitalism had a duty to XXX, and failed to do it," who says capitalism had or has a duty to XXX?
 
PoliticalNick
Free Thinker
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Question: exactly what duty did capitalism have to "the world" that it failed to perform?

And follow-up question: Assuming you answered "Capitalism had a duty to XXX, and failed to do it," who says capitalism had or has a duty to XXX?

Capitalism only has 1 duty. That is to maximize profits and increase ROI to shareholders by whatever means deemed necessary. No cares about the environment or people or anything other than profit. Isn't it a wonderful thing.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by PoliticalNick View Post

Capitalism only has 1 duty. That is to maximize profits and increase ROI to shareholders by whatever means deemed necessary. No cares about the environment or people or anything other than profit. Isn't it a wonderful thing.

Says who?
 
mentalfloss
+1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by PoliticalNick View Post

Capitalism only has 1 duty. That is to maximize profits and increase ROI to shareholders by whatever means deemed necessary. No cares about the environment or people or anything other than profit. Isn't it a wonderful thing.

This presupposes that caring about the environment can't provide a profit to the company. I think in some ways it can, but it can require a long term investment rather than going for the quick buck.
 
petros
#9
Perfect example of being green and cashing in is the oil sands.
 
Twila
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Perfect example of being green and cashing in is the oil sands.

Green is not the word I've heard in use recently when referring to the tar sands.
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
+1
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by PoliticalNick View Post

Capitalism only has 1 duty. That is to maximize profits and increase ROI to shareholders by whatever means deemed necessary. No cares about the environment or people or anything other than profit. Isn't it a wonderful thing.

Capitalism is driven only by the relationship between supply and demand.

Everything else is ideology

Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

Green is not the word I've heard in use recently when referring to the tar sands.

What brand of 'green fuel' do you use to tank-up your car?

Opt for a special eco-friendly natural gas or heating oil for the house?

I am still waiting for someone, anyone, to provide me a description of 'clean oil'
 
petros
+2
#12  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

Green is not the word I've heard in use recently when referring to the tar sands.

Why not? Reclamation is in the hands of greenies who got degrees in Environmental Sciences.

Are all these greens doing it the wrong way?

Should the oil companies have hired amateurs?

Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post


I am still waiting for someone, anyone, to provide me a description of 'clean oil'

Whale fat harpooned from sailing ships.
 
Twila
+1
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

This presupposes that caring about the environment can't provide a profit to the company. I think in some ways it can, but it can require a long term investment rather than going for the quick buck.

How about giving tax incentives to companies that are environmentally responsible and/or friendly. The tax percentage could be decided on a scale of how green, with companies that are non environmentally friendly paying the greatest percent maybe even punitive fines for being irresponsible.


A nation that destroys it's soil, destroys itself. - FDR
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

How about giving tax incentives to companies that are environmentally responsible and/or friendly. The tax percentage could be decided on a scale of how green, with companies that are non environmentally friendly paying the greatest percent maybe even punitive fines for being irresponsible.

How will you feel with the Cdn oil companies getting those tax breaks?... And they will when compared to other Cdn industries
 
petros
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

A nation that destroys it's soil, destroys itself. - FDR

And that is why they spend so much time effort and money. 25 years from now when oil sands mining stops and it goes insitu, all the white spruce planted during reclamation will be ready for harvest and supplying forestry and recreational jobs in a region where there weren't any.

Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

How will you feel with the Cdn oil companies getting those tax breaks?... And they will when compared to other Cdn industries

The only companies that hire green beans with a degrees in green beanery are oil, gas, mining and forestry.
 
Twila
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

How will you feel with the Cdn oil companies getting those tax breaks?... And they will when compared to other Cdn industries

Are they environmentally responsible?
 
petros
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

Are they environmentally responsible?

They have no choice seeing how it's green beans who they hired to do it the way greens want.

Suncor.com. Quite a few green bean jobs available.

Position Name:Environmental Technologist
Posting Number:33178
Employment Type:Perm Full-Time
*
JOB OVERVIEW
Reporting to the E7 Field Services shift supervisor, the Environmental Technologist is responsible for the monitoring and function of groundwater and surface water networks which extend over the large areas of Suncor's Oil Sands operations.
KEY ACCOUNTABILITIES
Monitoring and sampling of network assets
Managing environmental equipment
Coordinating offsite lab work
REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS
Suncor is committed to employment equity and encourages applications from all qualified individuals
Education and Experience:
Technical diploma in Environmental Science or related field
Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) membership or eligibility is an asset
Minimum of 3 years environmental monitoring is preferred
Skills and Knowledge:
Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to work closely with others at various levels within the company
Motivated, self-starter who can work well independently or within a team environment
An effective communicator with the ability to develop positive working relations across a multitude of business units
WORKING CONDITIONS
E7 Shift Schedule
This position is located at our base plant 25 km North of Fort McMurray
Transportation to and from site is provided
This is not a Camp position
WHY SUNCOR
Go ahead. Expect success. We want you to have a job you're genuinely excited about - as well as opportunities to learn, grow and challenge yourself. Plus, Suncor Energy offers a flexible employee package that can be adjusted to suit the changing needs of your life, including:
competitive base salary and compensation programs
attractive annual incentive program
flexible benefits package
rewarding pension and savings plans
Wondering if you and Suncor are the right fit? Hear what Suncor employee Brett Regier has to say about working here »
ABOUT FORT MCMURRAY
Fort McMurray is a northern Canadian city rich in resources and cultural diversity nestled in the Boreal Forest in Wood Buffalo. Explore what Fort McMurray has to offer - from its stunning natural environment and multicultural community, to its quiet neighbourhoods.
Find out more about living and working in Fort McMurray at goaheadfortmac.com*»
BUSINESS OVERVIEW
Suncor Energy is a sustainably operated Canadian integrated energy company. Our company combines a leading position in oil sands with complementary operations in refining and marketing, North American natural gas production and conventional oil production internationally and offshore East Coast Canada.
At Suncor, we operate our businesses reliably and efficiently with an emphasis on employee safety and a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring a safe and healthy environment. Suncor is also committed to contributing to the well-being of the communities where we operate - including yours.
Our use of innovative technology has made us an industry leader in the energy business - and with a strong strategy for growth, Suncor offers a solid foundation for you to continue building your career.As an employer, Suncor is one of the best companies in Canada, providing tremendous future potential where talented people thrive. As our business evolves, so do our employment opportunities. Our work culture includes a dynamic mix of newcomers and experienced professionals, with a diversity of skills and expertise from all parts of Canada.
Learn more about why our employees choose Suncor »
Not sure if this particular listing is the right opportunity? Follow Suncor on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter*for the latest job listings and employment news.
Job Family:Technologist
Job Class:Applied Sciences
Date Posted:April*7,*2014
Posting Deadline:April*20,*2014
Location:Fort McMurray, Alberta
Country:Canada
 
Retired_Can_Soldier
+1
#18
The lack of democracy in Russia seems to be doing wonders for the Ukrainians. Perhaps we should adopt the old Soviet Union policies where there are only two classes. The haves and the have nots who best not complain or they will find themselves in a gulag.
 
petros
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by Retired_Can_Soldier View Post

The lack of democracy in Russia seems to be doing wonders for the Ukrainians. Perhaps we should adopt the old Soviet Union policies where there are only two classes. The haves and the have nots who best not complain or they will find themselves in a gulag.

Neo-Bolsheviks. They are more popular in Russia than people here think they are. Big in Isreal too.
 
Twila
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

And that is why they spend so much time effort and money. 25 years from now when oil sands mining stops and it goes insitu, all the white spruce planted during reclamation will be ready for harvest and supplying forestry and recreational jobs in a region where there weren't any.



The only companies that hire green beans with a degrees in green beanery are oil, gas, mining and forestry.

I didn't know they were doing this sort of thing. This is good to know.
 
petros
+1
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

I didn't know they were doing this sort of thing. This is good to know.

Of course they are. In the end the ecosystems where oil was mined are healthier than before the oil extracted. Now these lands can actually be accessed by the six or seven "living off the land " natives in the region. The rest hunt and fish at wal-mart like the rest of us.
 
Twila
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

They have no choice seeing how it's green beans who they hired to do it the way greens want.

Being a green bean hired by a company does not equate to honesty. We hear about this issue when it comes to fisheries and ocean's scientists being silenced.
 
petros
+1
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

Being a green bean hired by a company does not equate to honesty. We hear about this issue when it comes to fisheries and ocean's scientists being silenced.

Why not? They aren't forced to hide anything and can quit and whistle blow anytime they want.

Have you heard any former Environmental Scientists from resource industry whistle blow?

Do resource companies sift through the environmental scientists and only hire the evil green beans?
 
Twila
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

Why not? They aren't forced to hide anything and can quit and whistle blow anytime they want.

Have you heard any former Environmental Scientists from resource industry whistle blow?

Do resource companies sift through the environmental scientists and only hire the evil green beans?

You mean you haven't heard about scientists being silenced in Canada?

Do you think they wouldn't succumb to gov't pressure or their own greed?

You don't think that large corporations couldn't weed out absolute do-gooders and find those who're more likely to tow their line?
 
petros
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by Twila View Post

You mean you haven't heard about scientists being silenced in Canada?

Do you think they wouldn't succumb to gov't pressure or their own greed?

You don't think that large corporations couldn't weed out absolute do-gooders and find those who're more likely to tow their line?

I'm silenced too. I don't own my data, I just collect it and am not allowed by penalty of laws to disclose ANYTHING to anyone.

What pressure? What greed? They make fantastic money applying their green beanery degrees towards being green.

I think it very hilarious that you think that just because an environmental scientist works in resources they must be evil, greedy or gotten to by some omnipresent power wielding a big stick.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#26
Question, petros. Do you think all environmentalism is a scam, and resource extraction companies, if left completely unregulated, would return their mined, drilled, strip-mined land to a pristine-or-better condition out of the goodness of their hearts?

The reason I ask is because I've never seen anything from you except hatred and contempt for people who are a little concerned about forests, lakes, rivers, &c.
 
petros
+1
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Question, petros. Do you think all environmentalism is a scam, and resource extraction companies, if left completely unregulated, would return their mined, drilled, strip-mined land to a pristine-or-better condition out of the goodness of their hearts?

The reason I ask is because I've never seen anything from you except hatred and contempt for people who are a little concerned about forests, lakes, rivers, &c.

The people who are a "little concerned" aren't making a living off or trying to impede progress using bullsh-t are they?

If you want to be a green bean be a real one and get a job in reclamation then you can stand up and say "I did something, what did you do?"
 
Tecumsehsbones
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

The people who are a "little concerned" aren't making a living off or trying to impede progress using bullsh-t are they?

Everybody makes a living off something. There's resource extraction people never been within a hundred miles of a coal mine or an oil rig. Don't see you hating them none.

Quote:

If you want to be a green bean be a real one and get a job in reclamation then you can stand up and say "I did something, what did you do?"

OK, right after the Vice President for Corporate and Government Affairs of Friendly Oil Company puts on a hard hat and picks up a shovel that isn't all shiny and nickel-plated.

I notice that you didn't address my question. But that's OK, you answered it anyhow.

I mostly like you. But I think it's sad that you think of "progress" only in terms of barrels drilled or cubic metres mined.

Seriously. Not patronising you. Just think about it some.
 
petros
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Everybody makes a living off something. There's resource extraction people never been within a hundred miles of a coal mine or an oil rig. Don't see you hating them none.


OK, right after the Vice President for Corporate and Government Affairs of Friendly Oil Company puts on a hard hat and picks up a shovel that isn't all shiny and nickel-plated.

I notice that you didn't address my question. But that's OK, you answered it anyhow.

I mostly like you. But I think it's sad that you think of "progress" only in terms of barrels drilled or cubic metres mined.

Seriously. Not patronising you. Just think about it some.

where did you get the idea it's all bottom line in my eyes.

What are your opinions of those who took the Inituative to get off their asses and work the frontlines only to have their hard work slammed by the clueless?

The people who got off their asses are doing one f-cked of good job but because they work resources they are evil, greedy or gotten to.

If greens don't like what greens are doing, quit being green.
Last edited by petros; Apr 14th, 2014 at 06:40 PM..
 
Tecumsehsbones
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

where did you get the idea it's all bottom line in my eyes.

Due respect, from your posts, petros.

Quote:

What are your opinions of those who took the Inituative to get off their asses and work the frontlines only to have their hard work slammed by the clueless?

Are you kidding? I worked my way through law school. You think you and your colleagues get one tenth of the crap lawyers get from every side all the time? I'll make my usual offer. $1000 to your favourite charity if you can come up with a lawyer joke I ain't already heard a hundred times.

Man up. And part of manning up is to separate the legitimate points of the "other side" from the screaming-meemie BS.

But spare me the "I work so hard and they're so MEAN to me!" snivelling.