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Dustin86

Does Capitalism Lead to Men Living for the Sake of Other Men?

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An oft-cited Objectivist mantra is "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.'

It was recently stated, and confirmed by the fact-checking organization PolitiFact, that the six Wal-Mart heirs own more wealth between just the six of them than the wealth owned by the entire bottom 40% of America (~128,000,000 people)

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

Edited by Dustin86

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1 hour ago, Dustin86 said:

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

Are you claiming that had these workers taken the pledge above (what you call a mantra) they would be in breach of it for having accepted or for keeping a job at Wal-Mart?

Are you suggesting that said Wal-Mart workers should DO something ELSE in order to live up morally to that pledge?

What do you suggest they should do, and how do they do it while NEVER asking (or forcing) another man to live for their sake?

OF a certainty IF they quit Wal-Mart they will owe nothing to Wal-Mart nor will Wal-Mart owe anything to them.

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1 hour ago, Dustin86 said:

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

One, it isn't necessarily for the sake of their bosses. It might be for some, and not others. Working at Wal-Mart for a few years is not always so bad.

Two, if it's a matter of improper relations between Wal-Mart and the government, then the best thing to do is figuring out some way to alter that injustice.

Three, to the extent one has the political right to do so, starting a business is always an option. I say political right, as sometimes regulations screw with what you want to do. If that is also a problem, again, this means you'd need to seek a way to fix that injustice.

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6 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

The answer is pretty obvious. They should work as neuro-surgeons instead of bag-stuffers. 

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6 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

An oft-cited Objectivist mantra is "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.'

It was recently stated, and confirmed by the fact-checking organization PolitiFact, that the six Wal-Mart heirs own more wealth between just the six of them than the wealth owned by the entire bottom 40% of America (~128,000,000 people)

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

I don't understand the problem here.

Folks who work for Wal-Mart, at a minimum wage or any other, are doing so for their own sake. They're not working there to help out the Wal-Mart heirs, but because they want the paychecks that Wal-Mart offers (even if you consider those paychecks to be "meager").

How exactly does this conflict with the Atlas Shrugged quote?

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7 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

 

Your question essentially reads, "How are workers not living for the sake of employers?"  The answer is, it is a voluntary trade and whether a worker is working for himself or for others is up to him, as is the choice to work at all.  Your question implies that it is not a man's choice that determines whom he is living for, but the income gap between him and his employer.  Are minimum-wage employees of small businesses that can't afford to pay more than minimum-wage living for the sake of their employers?  Are middle-class employees of billion dollar companies working for the sake of their employers?  What are the rules to this "sacrifice determined by price gap" and how do you justify them?

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9 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

How many of the Wal-Mart workers/associates took Galt's Oath?

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Walmart employs an astounding 2.1 million people. In the United States alone, the company employs 1.4 million people. This is a staggering 1% of the U.S.'s 140 million working population.

The Walmart heirs are worth $89.5 billion, while the world's net worth was estimated at $250 trillion back in 2015.

It's hard to believe that the 7 Walmart heirs should be "sacrificing their lives" to provide employment (create jobs) for 0.003% of the world population* (job consumers) for 0.0358% of the worlds total wealth.

* not adjusted to the worlds working population

We have a new measure of global employment from the International Labour Organization (ILO). Late last night the ILO published their Global Employment Trends 2011. The report shows that as the population of the world approaches 7 billion people, 3 billion are employed and 205 million are unemployed.

This would adjust 0.003% of the world population to 0.07% of the worlds "working population".**

**Do the children and retired folk amount to just under 4 billion people? This doesn't seem to add up.

Edited to note: 7 billion used as world population in original calculations.

Edited by dream_weaver

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22 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?

You have presented no argument that they are. I can't think of any either. So I guess it's settled, they're not living for the sake of the Walton family.

Also, your question contains a blatant lie. $9/hour (about the average minimum wage in the US) is a lot more than is required for survival. There are billions of people in the world who work much harder and in much worse conditions, and survive on less than 10% of what Walmart employees get paid.

On a global scale, Walmart employees are part of the economic elite: they live in a level of comfort and luxury that is not available to most people in the world (precisely thanks to the fact that in the US, which is one of the more capitalist countries in the world, the Waltons were able to build a store chain that supports the kind of employment conditions most people can only dream of, for 1.4 million people).

Edited by Nicky
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Employees obvious have the freedom to do whatever they want. If they don't like a particular WalMart, or any WalMart, they can seek employment at World Market, or Target, or any number of other places. Or they can be unemployed. Or they can start a business selling pink cat-ear hats online, or they can create a new operating system that will revolutionize business, or whatever it is that they can do to survive. Or they can decide that there are no more values left for them on this planet, and they can end their existence. They are free to do whatever they want, according to their values.

I can't honestly say that more than two or three of them are actually working for their own sake. I do personally know of two who are working for their own sake. The rest of them may (in the imaginary sense of "may") have some bizarre self-sacrificial ethos whereby they irrationally feel that they should sacrifice their time and labor so that some another person will thrive, but that is just such an unimaginable and arbitrary idea that I really don't see that there is any basis for imputing such beliefs to those people. In the case of all of the people who I personally know and have discussed the matter of working retail, I can tell you that their reasons are entirely selfish: they want money and benefits, and indeed they do get that.

I do know that there are a number of people who do live for the sake of others, especially those who are high on volunteering and giving back to The People. So I don't deny that there are such people, but honest employees of retail do not deserve to be castigated for their selfish choice to live for their own sake.

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12 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

Employees obvious have the freedom to do whatever they want. If they don't like a particular WalMart, or any WalMart, they can seek employment at World Market, or Target, or any number of other places. Or they can be unemployed. Or they can start a business selling pink cat-ear hats online, or they can create a new operating system that will revolutionize business, or whatever it is that they can do to survive. Or they can decide that there are no more values left for them on this planet, and they can end their existence. They are free to do whatever they want, according to their values.

This sounds like "freedom to starve".

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Guys, the "freedom" you're talking about is freedom for the rich, where everybody else is told to work or starve.

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18 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

Guys, the "freedom" you're talking about is freedom for the rich, where everybody else is told to work or starve.

I wasn't talking about any kind of freedom. I was talking about two things:

1. your inability to present a logical argument to defend your arbitrary claim

2. the big fat lie contained in your post

Comment?

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1 hour ago, Dustin86 said:

Guys, the "freedom" you're talking about is freedom for the rich, where everybody else is told to work or starve.

Well, why would they starve if they quit Wal-Mart?

In other words, why would would forming a business, or joining another one, not be viable?

Granted, having more money makes it -easier- to transition from a job, but that doesn't mean automatically everyone that is poor is starving.

I gave you answers before as what to do if the problem is some injustice committed by Wal-Mart or the government.

And for what it's worth, it's wrong to say that that it's a "lie" that $9 is enough to live, unless it's "enough" that a wage allows you to survive. It doesn't let you flourish, or grow to your potential, even if you're alive. That's when injustice comes in; you need to ask -why- the person is stuck. It's true that $9/hour sucks, but there's more to ask.

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I'd like to point out briefly that any time we talk about anything in the actual, existing economy we have in real life, we're talking about what's going on in a mixed economy. The situation under an actual capitalist economy could be very, very different for any given specific example from the real world that we may discuss. Walmart, its owners, and the wages of its employees are all impacted by things like minimum wage laws, child labor laws, OSHA, the EPA, licensing laws, alcohol and tobacco laws, anti-monopoly laws, roads and other infrastructure being tax-funded, tax codes in general, laws favoring offering health insurance as a job benefit over purchasing it independently, etc cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera ad nauseum. Our economy, including what job positions already exist, what new ones can be created and how easily, what happens and when if one becomes unemployed and so on are all extremely heavily skewed from what they would be in a capitalist system. The alternatives people face in the here and now vary greatly in many ways and specific cases from what they would be in a capitalist system.

Maybe Walmart would exist in a capitalist system, maybe it wouldn't. Maybe they'd exist and be a much smaller business. Maybe they'd be even bigger. They probably wouldn't be paying $9 an hour starting wages though since that's heavily influenced by minimum wage laws. Maybe they'd pay people less, maybe they'd pay more. There may be (if Walmart existed still) a lot more competition Walmart would be facing both in what other businesses they were competing with to sell products and in who they were competing with for getting people to work for them at all. If starting businesses wasn't so full of legal nightmares, more people may start them, including more people who could offer potential employees better compensation and people who may have otherwise worked for Walmart themselves. What jobs exist at Walmart could even be very different due to different products and services that may exist without all these legal hindrances. What hours people work at such a hypothetical version of Walmart may be very different too if it still was a relatively low paying option. It could be something people did fewer hours at and treated more as a supplement to incomes from other, higher paying jobs rather than being something so many people worked at as much as they could and heavily depended upon for large percentages of their income.

So, yeah, please don't assume that Walmart, or any other real business or job, is necessarily some perfect example of capitalism at work. People could have good intentions and goals and want and try to do things that would be in the spirit of capitalism and would be good to pursue under a capitalist system, and if so, that's great, praise worthy, very moral of them, but they're still going to have to work within and be impacted by the real world's heavily distorted mixed economy. Specific real world scenarios are always going to be needed to be taken with a whole shaker of salt when evaluating them against what would, could, and should be done under capitalism.

So, the actions of the owners of Walmart and of Walmart employees are not what they would be in a capitalist system. Anybody can try their best to pursue ends in a capitalistic manner though, they can still make morally correct choices out of far from morally ideal options. A and B may both be rotten options, and the only options, but B is definitely worse than A, so A is the moral choice to make. I don't know what the owner's end of things looks like to evaluate if they're making the most moral choices possible here as well as I could evaluate things on the employees' end, but you don't care about the owner's end in your first post anyway. Within the context of our flawed, flawed real economy, taking a relatively shitty job with relatively shitty pay is generally done because all other known options at the time are simply regarded as even worse. People don't take these jobs because they give a shit about the Waltons, they take them because they have some kind of unmet need of their own that this is the best thing they can find to try to fill it.

How much money the Waltons do or do not have is completely irrelevant, never even factoring into the decision to take the job or not. In our current, real economy, I doubt much would be achieved by trying to demand more pay just because the Waltons have a lot of money that, theoretically, they could give to employees. I doubt it since there are so many people out there just as desperate to get a paying job, maybe even more desperate. It's not that hard for people to simply be replaced in the here and now. If employees were to just get a bunch more money, just because they wanted it anyway, there's still so many employees and so much time to cover that I doubt you could go too long before the Waltons ran out of money and you had to go back to old wages again or the business got impacted in ways that may require cutting jobs or raising prices which could begin to make the business less successful or even fail too. You're not going to get more money, especially not for long, just because somebody you work for has more and you demand they give you what they have, especially not in the here and now. The current economy lacks incentive to pay people lots more for typical jobs at Walmart and paying them much more may not be feasible even if somebody tried. So, again, how much money the Waltons have is moot to deciding whether to work for their company of not. Somebody's life may still be notably improved over what it was before or what else they could have had by taking a job at $9 an hour even though it is still much less than what they may really want or need and much less than what they could have had in a real capitalist system. That's why people do it. They have their own self-benefiting motivations. They offer their time and services and find that $9 an hour is still worth it to them over the available alternatives.

(Side note, whoa, I haven't seen DavidOdden posting around here in aaaaaaaaages.)

Edited by bluecherry
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