Saturday, March 12, 2011

Well said

Ian Welsh discusses the difference between an economic system based on long-term development and one based on short-term extraction. And it shouldn't come as much surprise which we currently have in place:
Here’s the rule, whenever greed becomes a primary motivator, and an acceptable primary motivator in a society, the society burns itself down. It extracts money by destroying actual long term value. This has been going on in the West, with its most extreme forms in the US, for over 30 years.

But as a society, what you get is money while destroying actual value. The society as a whole is poorer than it would have been otherwise.

An actual capitalist society (which we do not live in) makes cashing out very difficult. You don’t want people creating money by destroying value, and you don’t want viable ongoing concerns arbitrarily destroyed or weakened. Whenever a company is bought out by borrowing the money, then making that company take on a loan to pay back the original loan and then another loan to pay the buyers even more money, money has been extracted while value has been destroyed (layoffs and other cost cutting inevitably follow).

As a society, allowing this sort of behaviour is death. You must make sure that people do better by adding value than by destroying it. Forceful short term extraction of money destroys value. The only profits that most people should see are long term profits. Want to get rich? Great. Either create something genuinely new under the sun (and no, Facebook is not something genuinely new, it is merely the winner in a market someone was going to win) or stick it out for a good twenty to forty years, taking your legitimate profit each year.

When you make it possible for people to get rich by destroying jobs that actually create value, by destroying companies which are actually viable, you are destroying your own society’s prosperity.

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