BigBallinStalin wrote:I'm not sure if you know what it's like to be poor, but I can imagine that buying higher quality goods (e.g. from whole foods, or from wherever) really eats into one's budget. Those are luxury goods from their perspective. You can feel smug by calling them "mindless consumers," which I don't think they are, but you're really not resolving their constraints. "Mindless consumption." People gotta eat. What are you annoyed about?
Calling food that are raised responsibly with attention to both labor AND environmental repercussions are not "luxury" goods. They are survival. Sadly, too many people gain profit from more traditional methods, making them seem cheaper, but in the long run they are far, far more expensive. Further, in many cases, higher quality actually means healthier -- more whole grains, fresher foods. That is a direct health impact that is felt by society.
ALL of the "savings" you keep pointing to are really just pushing costs onto others, pretending they don't exist. Agricultural land is not static nor gaining, we are losing arable land. Water, too, is more and more limited. Most of your market economics pretend that there are no real limits, but that is not reality. The reality is that its the rest of us who wind up paying.
Now, I am not suggesting that Whole foods itself is "the answer". Some of what they market is not really and truly as sustainable or responsible as they like to claim. Buying from local farmers and paying attention to how they grow things, perhaps not absolutely sticking to organics, but being more aware of the entire food stream and its creation.. those are paramount, and not things that will just naturally occur in your imagined system.
BigBallinStalin wrote:Also culture is not homogenous, so this irreparable damage claim is a joke. Remove wal-mart, and you get... a culture of people affording less goods at higher prices? What a great culture! What would the culture even look like? How do you know the current culture is even caused by wal-mart or by buying low-priced goods? How do you know what that culture looks like? I think we're grasping at straws here, so perhaps we can look forward to a different conversation on culture.
Walmart is a symptom. The problem is lack of responsibility. There is nothing in any business model that truly rewards the more responsible business, except sometimes (and ONLY sometimes) in the very long term. In the case of many current problems, we plain cannot wait for that long term. You forget that many times the real change only came after war and revolution. Personally, that is not something I want. Ignoring history means we will repeat it, not that history will somehow go away.
To me, whe i read your criticisms on cultures, I must ask: Who are we to even claim which culture is superior to others? That sounds imperialistic to me. (using the general you): How do you even know these things? I'm not proud/arrogant enough to claim which culture would be best for which people. I only want them to be able to choose whichever they identify with, and allow them to do so on a voluntary basis.
BigBallinStalin wrote:Regarding informing people, that's fine--so long as the information isn't propaganda. "Soft regulation" when done through the political process won't overcome interest group politics nor rent-seeking, so I'm not inf favor with this concern of mine, which in my opinion is inevitable through any political process of large-scale democracies. People already market all the time on the margins we've been discussing. How do you think Whole Foods came about? I view it as a reaction to "rampant consumerism" (yet Whole Foods can definitely be part of 'rampant consumerism'), yet such places serve as a fill-in-the-gap measure for environmental issues. The market handled that one section pretty well without soft regulation and bold claims about hampering international trade and about what would be best for other people's cultures.
LOL.. how about you are so immersed in your market view of the world you have no real idea of what the real truth is, and you cannot be bothered to find out. That failure to investigate doesn't equate to your being correct, it just means you are ignorant.. and, if you actually believe what you are saying, happy to remain so.
BigBallinStalin wrote:Of course, there is the long-term v. Short-term concern. I look at the various processes for attaining our mutual goal (in general, prosperity for more). In my opinion, the most efficient means of correcting addressing problems must overcome knowledge and incentive problems, which are best yet not perfectly achieved through the market process).
Finally, a real criticism of the idea that markets are entirely self-correcting? Only if you were to really pay attention, instead of just use it as a minor blip in your debate.
BigBallinStalin wrote:Anyway, IIRC the main question: Would average wages for poorer people within the US increase if "more domestic consumption" was increased? It depends on the prices and really the means for affecting this change.
No, it REALLY depends on how those costs are created and passed on. Far too often things are made "cheaper" simply because folks are allowed to pass on many of the real costs onto others.
Building a highly polluting and dangerous operation overseas doesn't eliminate the cost to lives and health, it just removes "problems" of following US regulations and pushes it onto other countries less able or willing to protect their people.
Buying locally actually costs less in very real terms. You save on transport, marketing, etc. Further, when you talk about food, a lot of what really needs to happen is to better empower people to grow their own food. Even in big cities, it is possible to grow a significant part of a food budget. Many food pantries are even beginning to offer things like seeds and training to some low income people. I remember hearing about this in New Orleans, prior to Katrina -- it was just part of the culture that people would have all kinds of vegetables "just growing" in their backyards, whether owned or rented. For some, that made a big difference in how much food they got. For others, it just added some "freshness" to the diet. Of course, Katrina made a lot of that no longer practical or even harmful, with all the heavy pollutants now in the soils.
The REAL problem is that many of those countries are hardly democracies and allowing business to flourish and gain the most wealth there not only perpetuates harm in those countries, it gives us less power to preserve ourselves. For all the debate, for example, over some big issues in China, they are now gaining so much economic power that it won't be long before they start lecturing us on THEIR "morality". I mean, if they felt it was correct and right to limit family size in their own people, why on earth would anyone think they would not take a similar stance with us? When we are so beholden to them economically, our ability to fight or even challenge them will disappear. Or, take Russia and its notoriously oppressive view of opposition and criticism of any sort.
BigBallinStalin wrote:Hampering international trade would make domestic goods more expensive--assuming that the domestic production of such goods was less efficient compared to trade (so, assuming we'd have a comparative advantage better than our trading partners. Currently, the US doesn't; otherwise, that intl. trade wouldn't be occurring to such a degree). Regardless of those factors, an increased demand for labor in such sectors would on some margin pull labor from other sectors. You can't have your cake and eat it too, nor is unemployment homogenous, so I don't find the "well, there's unemployment in the US, therefore, no problem." So with a policy focused on domestic consumption, you might get an increase in domestic wages, you'd get an increase in prices. So effective wages wouldn't increase (they might even fall, depending on how much trade is hampering with).
Nope, you have it backwards. Its not people wanting better wages that are wanting to have their cake and eat it, too, its those wanting to hire folks cheaply, cut subsidies for the poor and also get away with whatever damage to land/soil and water they wish without any serious regard. Such things are almost NEVER economical until forced, because there will always be more than a few willing to skirt and cut. You might see a few higher end retailers like Whole Foods, catering to a select and fairly well off target group, but to make these things permeate down to the average person requires regulation and control. Walmart will not pay much more than the minimum, own't hire more full-time workers unless forced. Big agri companies won't check pollution, cut use of antibiotics or the use of other additives/pesticides unless forced, because they do get short term economic gain. It is only when the longer term picture comes into view that the true cost-benefit of such measures come into play. Typically, a farmer who lives on his or her own land and who plans to pass it on to his/her kids does care, but those farms that are just another business venture for various investors --aka "absentee owners" do not. It has to do with a base ethic of what you value. Those who get money through investment value anything that will get them gain, for the most part. (it takes a pretty heavy and absolute moral issue to make most change, something like dangerous child labor.. and not all will, even then.)
Those who plan to stay care about the very long term. Of course, even "on the ground" farmers can make errors, but that is an entirely different issue, one met with better education, than the issue of values that just don't account for or care about true long term impacts. The thing about absentee owners is that they rely upon folks who are hired, on the ground to relay problems. There is an inherent problem in that, because generally the pressure is to reduce costs for the owner. Bringing up problems increases costs. Even when the problems are real, many workers know well that the owner's decision, faced with too many problems, will be simply to close.. so they don't say anything. THAT is just part of why our country is slowly, but surely being destroyed.
BigBallinStalin wrote:There's more, but regarding the deficit: that is allowed to continue due to the government's fiscal policy and the Fed's monetary policy. If 'money' is being shipped out to make up for the lack of exported goods, then--ceteris paribus--the supply of money would decrease, and so in relation to money, we'd get deflation (as the money depletes, you'd need less to buy the same amount of goods). But, the government avoids this--thus the necessary impetus to change our balance of payments, which to me is a problem. Markets in currencies which aren't fiat could correct for this, but <shrugs> try convincing the government to relinquish its indirect method of taxing people through inflating the money supply.
You are looking at things solely from the perspective of an investor. You need to consider what it means to actually LIVE in a country and the impact of various operations on that type of life.
Controlling the deficit is absolutely paramount, but first we have to reduce the need for additional payouts. Requiring more responsibility of all business, not just smaller local businesses will stem the bleeding.
There is a good chance that we have reached something close to our limit of sustainable growth, at least until some major technological fixes come about. The thing is, we have to wait for those fixes BEFORE allowing the growth. Pretending that we can just go on as always because those fixes might someday come doesn't work. It leads to disaster.