Philosophy, Capitalism, Economics & Income Disparity

Philosophy, Capitalism, Economics & Income Disparity

Talk of economic mobility and the wealth gap is hardly new. From the Occupy movement to President Obama's re-election campaign, income inequality has been in the spotlight for years. Even so, the "inclusive capitalism" conference in London on Tuesday broke new ground. Not because of the conversation, but because of the people having it. The 250 people from around the world invited to attend this one-day conference do not represent "the 99 percent," or even the 1 percent. It's more like a tiny fraction of the 1 percent.

"We have $30 trillion of assets under management in the room," says conference organizer Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who runs E.L. Rothschild, a major investment firm she and her husband, of the storied Rothschild banking family, founded in 2003.

That amount — $30 trillion — is roughly one-third of the total investable wealth in the world. If money is power, then this is the most powerful group of people ever to focus on income inequality. . . . The titans of commerce and finance didn't necessarily fly to this meeting in London out of a sense of ethics or moral duty, though that may be a motivation for some. For many, says Rothschild, it's a sense of self-preservation. Capitalism appears to be under siege.

Source: NPR - May 27, 2014 - World's Richest People Meet, Muse On How To Spread The Wealth

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/05/27/316317191/worlds-richest-people-meet-muse-on-how-to-spread-the-wealth?sc=17&f=1001


Meanwhile, on the conservative side:


Your Teacher Said What?! Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism (book)

CNBC anchor Joe Kernen rebels against the liberal brainwashing of his young daughter by the mainstream media and educational establishment. 

Every morning on CNBC's top-rated show Squawk Box, Joe Kernen asks tough questions. And at home he does the same with his ten-year- old daughter, Blake. What are you learning in school? What TV shows do you like? What message did you get from that movie? Your teacher said what?!

Blake's unsettling responses-including that no matter how bad things get, "the government will take care of us"-aren't surprising in an era when Washington takes over car companies, nationalizes banks, and spends a trillion dollars "stimulating" the economy. Something had to be done to teach Blake the value of capitalism.

Kernen shows that American culture is now so hostile to free markets that even animated movies are hard to tell from propaganda; grocery stores are billboards for the virtues of pre-industrial food; and classrooms do a better job teaching economic misinformation that arithmetic.

To Kernen, this isn't just wrong, it's practically criminal. An unapologetic cheerleader for the free enterprise system, he teaches Blake that it's not only the world's greatest engine for prosperity, but also essential for human freedom. As he tries to raise his children properly, even if he has to teach the basics himself, Kernen will have every conservative parent in America cheering him on.


Join Plato's Cave philosophers as we once again try to find economic rationality and fairness in a capitalist-dominated world. Feel free to post your comments and documents in advance of our meeting and be sure to check the Discussions and Files pages.

Thanks to Mike (the math professor) for suggesting this topic.

Steve, Plato's Cave Organizer



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  • amanda m.

    I think that the two sides thing is a copout. if the room agrees there is a Bully that is pushing others around why take the Bully's view? It is counterproductive. I'm not saying anyone has a magic way to deal with Bullys but giving them credence in a discussion is not particularly productive. I can well understand many avoiding them. But it is not more sainted to do so. It is not more enlightened. it is not morally and ethically all good. Adults stand on their own two feet and make these kind of decisions every day. Once a consensus exists artificially breaking it, is a result of media conditioning. It is a ploy and no more to keep us mired in back and forth instead of advancing the concepts? Can we still have a discussion if we can agree on some things and -then- move on?

    July 22

  • Veronica D.

    Good, passionate conversation. Love the sharing of ideas and good people. Whether we agree with each other or not, it was lively conversation about economic disparity and the concept of Capitalism real or imagined.

    1 · June 23

  • Steve

    I'm always pleased to see such great enthusiasm for our meetups and this one was no different. Thanks to all for your stimulating contributions. I think that if some of our more conservative members had participated, we might have benefited from an even more stimulating and balanced discussion. As it was, I was forced to step outside of my own liberal bias and quote from Joe Kernen's conservative book in an attempt to represent a different point of view.

    2 · June 23

  • Choice E.

    I always enjoy stimulating discourse. This group did not disappoint. Namaste!

    3 · June 23

  • Dale J.

    very good

    2 · June 22

  • Rami K.

    Though touching on a number of important topics, with good insights from everyone: I feel we only maintained status quo in the end -- and that is a loosing effort if we don't continue this topic at a later date.

    2 · June 22

  • Katlaya

    The meetup was fabulous and it was great to get to meet everyone!! Enjoyed the topics and I still could have talked and listened for hours more!

    June 22

  • amanda m.

    Oh and I have "finished" Capital by Picketty. Income inequality is almost to the Gilded Age. Inherited wealth will be worse and a whole new kind of person will populate our country. It would be -stupid- to even work- for generations and generations. And as so much is in tax havens- hidden it is worse than his big book even portrays. I say,there is a 1000 "advisors" for every billionaire. Without hearing even one voice say at the pulpitts that believe in -us, or those who even attend some discussion of ethics and morality, is there any hope? or are they as stuck in their gang-like system as we are at the bottom rungs? No one will break ranks and go after his breathren that worship at the ripoffs? Where is there any hope in this? Picketty says it is political will but where would that come from? The evildoers are now scared I hear from one of them. Scared dogs do not behave nicely. Can we start a revival of conscience? perhaps with the "advisors?"

    June 22

  • Rami K.

    http://youtu.be/Jx65Vroy9hI <- best argument for getting enough sleep ever!

    June 21

  • Jairo M.

    I apologize and sad that I won't be there in the presence of Plato's Cave philosophers. I wish this one would be available in audio. Or transcriptions with those wishing anonymity be so. But may those who attend enjoy and share and learn much. May something come out of this to inspire changes for the better. Thanks, Jairo Jamyang Pawo Moreno, Jamyang Pawo means Wisdom Warrior (a Tibetan Buddhist name)

    2 · June 21

    • Rami K.

      We'll truly miss your presence

      June 21

  • amanda m.

    One way to deal with havin Nothin is to decide that Nothin is just fine. But when kids enter the picture- well, they have to eat. The last five years food has Doubled in price. We have 15 year old boys committing crimes in Orange County- because they are hungry. Maybe not starving but the usual 3 days of bare cupboards for 1 out of 7 kinda ruins your day. Especially as an active teenage boy- needs- calories like 4800 calories a day.

    1 · June 21

  • A former member
    A former member

    Rami, to answer your question - "The Century of Self" is correct. The only reason mass consumerism, pop culture, smartphones, television, personal computers and other forms of mass communication exists is to bombard you with media and make you spend your money - even to the degree that you are unable to reach up to the next rung and become part of the landed leisure class. Self-actualizing and improving oneself is not profitable to shareholders, CEO's, etc. Self-gratifying thru accumulation of goods and services is highly profitable. If we are the artifacer of our own being, the captain of our soul, there is no money to be made. We become too smart for conspicuous consumption and spend our money on books instead of gadgets and things that the media flashes before our eyes. Having the lower classes spend all their money to the upper classes is the zero-sum game that also broadens class separation. This aspect is the consumer's fault, as opposed to govt policy. Both are complicit.

    1 · June 21

  • A former member
    A former member

    The dream of philosophers since Plato's Republic has been the construction of an ideal society. What would the hallmarks of an ideal society look like? Unfortunately, and in Machiavellian fashion, an ideal society will not necessarily be a just society. For the good of the many, a few will most likely suffer. This is the secret that philosophically educated politicians know but cant speak about. NM wrote that sometimes a Prince may need to lie to his people for their own good. Such is currently the case. For politicians to produce Mill's "greatest good for the greatest number and least harm to the fewest" any moral calculus will have winners and losers. Politicians speak about the virtues of equality , social justice andfairness, but it is just Orwellian double-speak. They know what the real goal is, and it is not equality or equity.

    June 21

    • A former member
      A former member

      Throughout history there have been the rich few and the working many. Feudal and monarchical rule always becomes despotic, at which point the masses rise up, displace the rulers with their own, followed by a period of peace followed by despotism and overthrow again. This is the philosophers bane because the people cannot prosper except when a nation is stable and experiences a prolonged and contented peace. So peace between the factions is the first interest of a politician. How can the two sides be balanced against each other in such a way as to promote prosperity. First experiment - Athenian Democracy, then later the Roman Republic. In Rome, the Plebes and the Patricians were balanced against each other by a representative democracy. The later example in Europe becomes the House of Lords (rich few) and the House of Commons (working many).

      June 21

    • A former member
      A former member

      3. The next step for the political "Prince" is to ensure a vigorous economy that will benefit the rich and the country as a whole. So deregulate industry (knowing that economic shocks will result) and increase the velocity of prosperity at the expense of those at the bottom. So as to prevent strikes, protests and revolt the govt becomes the arbiter of fairness and redistributor of wealth, knowing full well that it was their regulatory policy that made the rich (and the economy and coffers of govt) richer. This is why, under all the current models of a democratic republic, we will always have this disparity. The govt will always promote a vigorous economy and give welfare to quiet the losers.

      June 21

  • Rami K.

    "IMF Releases Paper on Ending Predatory Behavior" http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/84-84/24346-imf-releases-paper-on-ending-predatory-behavior | Given their history, is this a wolf in sheep's clothing; Or, is it as Jairo shared with me recently: the one percent of the one percent working to keep the whole system from tumbling down?

    June 20

    • Rami K.

      SIMON JOHNSON wrote about this five years ago in http://www.theatlanti...­ "recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform" Now the question: Is the IMF to be trusted?

      June 20

    • Rami K.

      http://www.globalizat...­ && http://www.economicsh...­ The primary complaint is that after working with lessor and greater successes towards goals set forth by a small group upon other nations, the IMF it turning on the localhost nation itself; and in the meantime countries like China and Brazil have started to conduct trade in their own currencies as opposed to using the US Dollar; So internationally the financial writing is already on the wall.

      June 20

  • Rami K.

    See what Jon Jandai has discovered http://youtu.be/21j_OCNLuYg

    June 20

  • amanda m.

    I am now 55 pages through Capitalism by Thomas Piketty. It is such a thick book but now I feel compelled to finish it!

    1 · June 12

  • Katlaya

    Anyone that can stream netflix may wish to watch this. Robert Reich is a very interesting and learned fellow... Here is the trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCbAyk8aRxI

    1 · June 13

  • Jairo M.

    There is a new form of Capitalism under development that hopes to save the conventional form of capitalism. It's called Quantum Capitalism. And a key feature is that all forms of cash and gold assets have expiration dates and depreciation curves. This forces anything of that potential energy to be spent and converted to purchasing actual wealth creating ingredients such as labor, machinery, training time, engineering and research, and infrastructures that benefits the societies. And this forces the 1 % 'ers to spend what they have been in the habit of saving and leaving it in banks to grow in interest which really doesn't help the 99%.

    June 7

    • Katlaya

      Trust me, power that large will not allow that to happen. They have the will, the Congress, and every other tool at their disposal. It may be a nice thought, but I doubt seriously that it will be allowed to happen.

      June 13

    • Katlaya

      One thing I "do" know, is that evil eventually tends to burn itself out. The very means by which it tries to conquer will become the vehicle for it's own destruction. It has happened over and over again in history. The transitional thinking and societal adjustment always tends to be painful, but it happens, nonetheless.

      June 13

  • Rami K.

    The Money Fix - A Documentary for Monetary Reform
    http://youtu.be/TwmM5Nb6hiE

    June 8

  • Rami K.

    Only recently has the majority share of total income in this country gone to the top 10% [see last chart http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/charts-income-inequality-middle-class-census­]. This means essentially that a small group of people through their belief that they know best with regard to the governance of the means to life, after some forty determined years, have achieved for themselves supreme dominance in our republic. Now do we want it to stay this way? If yea, our conversation is ended; If nae, then what kind of nation shall we make of the new present?

    June 8

  • John

    Wish I could make it but will be out of town. Good to see that the group may get going again.

    June 7

  • Rami K.

    Thom Hartmann "The Crash of 2016"
    http://youtu.be/039Zh9KBCqY

    June 6

  • Choice E.

    I opposed the government bail-out of corporate America. Nonetheless, it is my belief that to not do such would have signaled the doom of those corporations, their employees, shareholders and ancillary businesses as well.

    June 5

  • Mike T.

    I have a post, "Shades of Hari Seldon!", at my website www.mdeetaylor.com that may be of some interest. It touches -- at least tangentially -- on elites and thus inequality and the effects of inequality.

    1 · June 5

  • Rami K.

    The One Percent http://youtu.be/HmlX3fLQrEc a documentary film by one of the son's of the set.

    June 5

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