Comments on: Are capitalists happier? Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:57:19 +0000 hourly 1 By: gay tube Thu, 26 Mar 2015 03:02:00 +0000 Looking forward to reading more. Great article.Thanks Again. Want more.

By: nods Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:19:17 +0000 Well theft is the biggest game in capitalism as it is today. And one reason for this is limited liability ownership. Imagine that if a company is guilty of an obvious crime, and that all who profited from said crime is guilty under full liability ownership. This will lead to a world where a CEO or fund manager would rather phone an investor and report a 5% rise in earnings than a 10% rise and 60 hours community service or 2 months jail for each and all investors.
Now how would corporations act towards people then? How would investors choose where to put their money? It is still capitalism just with the stick. How about the carrot… CEOs and management can earn a ceiling of 15 times the lowest salary of any employee in said corporation.. Stock and options included.. Overall people who excell are still rewarded better for tougher work but the more they exploit their workers the less their own compensation can legally be.
And how many community hours will be accumalated? All Im saying is that the “socialism” theft scenario is actually what happens in capitalism today and instead of the game ending, everyone will be indebted to the ones who stole the most…..
Democracy is a political aspect, capitalism is a financial aspect and socialism is a human aspect. It is about the way we treat each other. How we relate. Limited liabilty means that we are not truly accountable for the actions performed in attaining our wealth. If bank owners( all shareholders at the time of fraud in proportion to their % ownership ie if sentence is 100 years prison then 10% owner will get 10 years) were held liable for the libor fraud.. then multi billionaire families would be the ones going to jail..the ones who profited most from the crime, not to mention their liability through trusts, shells, dummy and ghost entities.. So your theft experiment is a good representation of capitalism as we know it today and you will see that the ones who steals most will be able to protect themselves by paying others to enforce laws on the poulation, and then become loansharks and then banks as we know it………… An honest and accountable banking and corporate system is what we need………………………………. Socialism( The way we treat each other in good faith and exploitation is seriously frowned upon) and capitalism( Our abilty to trade goods and services and produce the technologies to enhance our lives) will co exist.. and so will we

By: paintcan Mon, 31 Oct 2011 06:29:36 +0000 I keep a thread open until the time it closes. But this one has been open for months.

So Magpie – they may not have been at home when you asked your question and were trying to design a better experiment or just gave up on the idea? They may not even know you asked the question.

I don’t think you can use the old Roman principal – “Silence connotes consent”. You may also have them stumped or they can’t figure out what you were asking?

People also have to be trained and educated to live in a capitalist society.

The barter or the more sophisticated money economy, are not that hard to learn. I think they are instinctive, or skills even a child understands at a very early age. How many times have you seen children trying to imitate the grownup world by setting up lemonade stands? People were using money in Mesopotamia before anyone had a clue what “capitalism” was. Capitalism and market economies may not actually be the same thing at all.

Have you even read the work of Fernand Braudel?

By: tolzkutz Mon, 10 Oct 2011 00:27:38 +0000 Well, I think western economists underestimate the ability of people to be “trained” and “educated” to live in a socialist society. Look at what we got in Eastern Europe… several generations that clearly have problems adopting a capitalist approach to the economy because they were prepared to live in socialist economy in almost full equality with other people. I don’t say thats bad for them but if Vernom Smith has carried out his experiment in a soviet-type socialist state in the 80s I dare say his results would have been qualitatively different.

By: TheMagpie Sun, 28 Aug 2011 11:55:31 +0000 “(…) the authors haven’t said a word and you agree with so much of what I said (…)”

Indeed, they haven’t said a word.

However, the lack of answer to a legitimate question, expressed respectfully, based on reasoning and a legitimate request for further information, within the limits of intellectual inquiry, sounds to me like an answer in itself, wouldn’t you agree?

In any case, I don’t think I read too much into the experiment.


By: paintcan Sat, 27 Aug 2011 02:26:30 +0000 @magpie – aren’t you reading too much into the experiment? They are trying to create a laboratory market economy. The players are producers exchanging their production for chits so they can either purchase other goods or save it and they want to make a profit.

People have been doing that since the beginning of human society. Ideas like socialism or communism would only enter the picture depending on the clan, family or tribal structure to which these primitive or “state of nature people” belonged. The prerogatives of the clan would determine the “taxes’ paid by the producer. He might have to turn over all profits or only a part. They could be aborigines of the northwest practicing ceremonially distribution of the production in the form of a potlatch. They could be Egyptians or ancient Romans that trade with money and charge interest or medieval peasants bringing their crops or livestock to the fairs. Pharaoh, or Caesar or the Lord of the Manor would have decided what they get to keep for themselves. Those market participants were unlikely to have had an economic philosophy to explain their activities. The ruler decided the rules of the game. The demand of the social system were met one way or another.

The experiment doesn’t mention taxes and there are many historical and cultural ways that taxes can be imposed without the use of money. Socialism tends to use taxation to distribute wealth. The Ancien Regime all over Europe would impose forced labor on peasants to accomplish rural public works. Nobles would be expected to field armies out of pocket to support the king. They were social duties that tend not to be called economic issues or tend to be ignored. They were taxes that might not have been in the form of money.

You evidently would rather not hear from me but the authors haven’t said a word and you agree with so much of what I said. As there is no etiquette for these discussions, I felt like answering.

By: TheMagpie Wed, 24 Aug 2011 00:44:11 +0000 @paintcan,

Except for paragraphs 1 and 2, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment.

However, I don’t understand how your comment in any way relates to mine.

In paragraph 2, you state:

“The experiment tested whether people working in a market economy were happier.”

Given this statement, I suppose your interpretation, as was mine, is that the experiment’s initial state (i.e. experimental setting) was intended by the authors to represent capitalism.

My objection, expressed in the paragraph below (which you quoted) is that the initial state does not represent a market economy at all: in a market economy not everyone owns capital or land.

“Thus, the initial experimental setting of absolute equality seems singularly inappropriate to test whether socialism improves well-being: why should people strive to achieve equality, if they are already equal?’

In fact, if one were to define equality as equal ownership of the means of production, the initial state of the experiment perhaps could be identified as “communism”, but it would never be described as a market economy.

In any case, and I hope you don’t take offense, I would rather discuss the experiment with their authors (and I assume you are not one of them).

And my insistence on having the authors’ opinion is because, as represented by the piece “Are Capitalists’ Happier?” this experiment seems to me as very poor science. That’s why I would like to know if there is something “lost in translation”, before making a definitive pronouncement that could be unfair to the authors.


By: paintcan Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:42:08 +0000 Magpie writes; “Thus, the initial experimental setting of absolute equality seems singularly inappropriate to test whether socialism improves well-being: why should people strive to achieve equality, if they are already equal?’

The experiment tested whether people working in a market economy were happier.

And socialism doesn’t made all people equal any more than the Constitution of the US made all men equal except to abolish titles conferred at birth.

Socialized medical care can be defended on the grounds that poverty can be inherited and without access to health care, any notion of equality becomes meaningless.

The issue of slavery in the old south was a true evil. It condemned people to a state of being bred like livestock. They were “mated” and their family affiliations were not respected if their owner had to sell them to raise capital. In fact, the southern slave could be either labor or capital depending on his master’s needs. He could breed slave children as just another cash crop.

A society that considers health care or any other aspect of the economy that can effect all of the population (like food that few can grow on their own anymore) a privilege and a reward for success is dangerously close to being a society where people can be enslaved by their own poor environment. The self-satisfied may claim it is due to one’s bad choices in life but it doesn’t require bad choices to sink into poverty. And one can make some truly rotten and even sociopathic choices to attain wealth. It may require super human effort and/or ruthlessness to out perform millions of other who may also be trying to get out of poverty. But if there are few opportunities to succeed, then most of that effort will be wasted. China has managed to elevate over a billion people above subsistence levels without massive debt by temporarily reducing everyone to slave status while India is developing rapidly but becoming a massive debtor and still living with teaming slums.

Life in the developed world makes it impossible for billions to ever return to the hypothetical state of nature or even to an adequate subsistence level. It requires having money to live in a developed society at all but depressions start because too few people have enough money or liquidity to keep the economy alive or active. Private debt isn’t sustainable in the long run and public debt may not be either. To put it another way: if the developed world collapsed – billions would very quickly die – winners and losers.

The health and welfare of the general population serves the capitalist and today the wealthiest individuals and enterprises don’t want to pay the system for all the goods it produced. Public education, a health care infrastructure, transportation and utility systems, defense capabilities, and a working government all made their fortunes possible at all. Socialism is the defining system of modern life and yet it somehow has becomes a dirty word. But it is socialism that has to take over in a crisis because capitalism wants to make a return on investment and shuns too great risk. It doesn’t work well with extreme poverty at all unless it can control the poor in slave like labor conditions. Slaves are all it tends to think the extremely poor are worth as tools.

There is something very strange in this and other modern countries in that religious institutions or even popular religion doesn’t seem to understand the economies they live in at all. A lot of them – especially popular religions – live in dreamlands that would prefer not to think about it. The Catholic Church was very suspicious of “liberation theology” because the old guard feared it. The current Pope and his predecessor was a staunch enemy of it and excommunicated many of its leading lights. Catholicism and Christian Fundamentalism, but not Protestantism to the same extent because it required that their followers could read well enough to read the Bible, don’t believe in the equality of people or access any more than Judaism or Islam does. All of them are more or less willing to accept the “divine right of kings” and the privileges of aristocracies, and it’s amazing how few people notice that. Modern democracy cramps their style. They all fear that modern life can make them redundant.

If the experiment lasted long enough it could have entered to the area where players were becoming indebted to the winners. And in the long run, the success of the winners may have been due to nothing more than the odds of choosing heads when someone else chose tails. And it doesn’t mention the possibility that winners can purposely misrepresent the rules of the game to set up losers as a cost of doing business. Slaves don’t tend to catch themselves.

By: TheMagpie Wed, 17 Aug 2011 01:47:08 +0000 While a Marxist, my personal approach to experimental economics is rather sympathetic. I, for one, am happy to acknowledge the many positive things achieved by researchers in this field (like Prof. Smith): in my view, the flaws demonstrated in the Homo economicus view of human behaviour, underlining the broader methodological individualism paradigm.

Also, unlike most Marxists, I tend towards empiricism.

With these two things in mind, it’s easy to understand that I find intriguing and exciting the idea of applying experimental economics to the question: “Which kind of economy ultimately works better in the long run – capitalism or socialism?”

What’s more, I welcome the proposition: “Using virtual economies, we can now literally recreate, in laboratory investigations, the state of nature and are no longer left to philosophical musings of first principles.”

Considering all these things, I respectfully must say that the desire not to rely on “philosophical musings of first principles” is not an excuse for not knowing what those first principles are.

And I regret to say, with due respect, that on the evidence of the text presented, the authors seem to have a poor understanding of basic terms.

Let me put an example where no “philosophical musings” intervene. If I understand the experimental setting, each experimental subject is equally endowed with the basic means of production: a capacity to produce (i.e. labour) and a “field” (i.e. land) where they can individually produce the blue and red commodities in some proportion of their choosing. (Although capital was not mentioned anywhere, this is not necessarily an objection, unless the authors intended their demonstration to apply to Marxist socialism).

They can also steal “from each other because, in the state of nature, no legal system protects private property”. Although not explicitly stated, I take it they can steal blue and/or red commodity from each other, but not the “field” itself.

To put it all in a more succinct way: there is absolute equality (including property of the means of production)

However, it’s a basic point of all forms of socialism that not everybody is equally endowed with the property of the means of production. Incidentally, the term “communism” itself alludes to an ideal state where land and capital belong to the community (which although not identical, somehow seems to correspond to your initial setting, ironically enough).

Although the authors do not seem to have it in mind, in the capitalist mode of production, for example, the fact that capitalists monopolise capital (while workers can only provide labour) leads to conflicts. Note the inequality in the initial endowments.

Likewise, in the feudal mode of production, the fact that feudal lords/aristocrats monopolise land, while serfs provide labour in exchange for the right to use a part of the land on their own behalf, produces conflicts.

Thus, the initial experimental setting of absolute equality seems singularly inappropriate to test whether socialism improves well-being: why should people strive to achieve equality, if they are already equal?

Although a more philosophically-oriented criticism would probably be unfair and outside the scope of this reply, I would recommend a revision of the notion of individualism underlying economic liberalism, as it has deep Hobbesian roots; unlike socialism, in all its forms, that emphasises equality, collaboration and at least some degree of “collectivism”.

Finally, I understand that the post I’m replying to is not a formal research report, thus there may be things “lost in translation”. If possible, a link to a publicly available formal report (maybe the working paper version) could help clarify the situation.


By: theant Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:02:23 +0000 I am trying to understand something if this is true then why is it that Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Canada have the happiest people.

The problem I see is you use sound bites and select the groups for study. That is not the case in the world today.

The problem has always been and always will be our whole system (all of them are flawed). When you have winners and losers you are setting yourself up for a fall no exceptions.