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OfflineFrenchSocialist
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Ben Stein criticizes US inequality
    #6671240 - 03/15/07 02:10 AM (7 years, 5 months ago)

You know the situation is bad when a GOP hardliner like Ben Stein is saying capitalism has gone too far. Of course the conservatives are going to respond by saying that all the poor people are just lazy-that or blame it on the immigrants.

Quote:

The Nation's Pulse
Terribly Exciting
By Ben Stein
Published 3/12/2007 12:09:31 AM

A few days ago, a man from a slick new magazine about business sent me an e-mail. He wanted me to do a column for him about what was "new, hot and exciting -- or terrible -- in business today." The only catch was that he did not want me to complain about the rich. This is what I sent him:

Here is what's new and hot and exciting (or terrible) in the world of money today:

The average wage of the American worker adjusted for inflation is lower than it was in 1973. The only way that Americans have been able to maintain their standard of living at the middle and lower ends has been to send more family members to work and to draw down savings or go into debt or both.

The most sought after jobs in the United States now are jobs in finance in which basically almost no money is raised for new steel mills or coal mines, but immense sums are raised to buy companies, recapitalize them -- which means pay the new owners immense special dividends and other payments for going to the trouble of taking over the company. This process results in fantastically well-paid investment bankers and private equity "financial engineers" and has no measurably beneficial effect on the economy generally. It does facilitate the making of ever younger millionaires and an ever more leveraged American corporate structure.

An entire new class of financial entity has been created called "the hedge fund." It is new not in the sense that there were not always funds that hedged by selling short or buying assets uncorrelated with other assets. The new part of this phenomenon is that it is based on a demonstrably false premise: that these entities can consistently outperform wide stock indexes. They have not and cannot, and yet their managers and employees for a time are paid stupendously well.

As with the private equity function, the main effect is to siphon money from productive enterprise into financial manipulation. Or, to put it another way, to siphon money from Main Street to Greenwich or Wall Street.

Starting MBA's at hedge funds, which are basically gaming enterprises, get paid multi-six figure sums. Starting teachers in the state of Florida get paid $28,000 a year.

Here's what else is new and exciting (or terrible) in money: there is real poverty among the soldiers who fight our wars. There are fist fights to get children into $30,000 a year kindergartens and pre-schools in the right neighborhoods in Manhattan. There are 40 million Americans without health care insurance. There are almost 40 million baby boomers with no savings for retirement. There is a long waiting list for Bentleys at the dealership in Beverly Hills.

There are soldiers' wives selling blood to buy toys for their kids. There is a man selling non-functioning body armor who threw a $10 million Bat Mitzvah for his daughter.

In Brentwood, where the houses start at $3 million, the housewives complain about what a terrible country America is. In Clinton, South Carolina, where the textile mill closed fifteen years ago and there is real hardship, the young men still believe in America and their fiancees at Presbyterian College wait for them while they fight in Iraq.

This is a small part of what's new and exciting (or terrible) in America in the world of money right now.


I never heard back from the man at the slick new business magazine.




http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=11130


--------------------


"Both liberty and equality are among the primary goals pursued by human beings through many centuries; but total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs" -- Isaiah Berlin


Edited by FrenchSocialist (03/15/07 03:05 AM)


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OfflineGnosticWarrior
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6671527 - 03/15/07 05:06 AM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Out of curiosity what's so wrong with capitalism? I happen to like the concept of capitalism. I think there are conscious capitalist like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah. Any of the problems associated with capitalism imho happens to stem from fact that one part of the party of a transaction was ignorant or motivated by fear. They either bought something of lesser value than the price they paid, or sold something for lesser value than what it was actually worth.

ie, from the stein article: [i]The average wage of the American worker adjusted for inflation is lower than it was in 1973. The only way that Americans have been able to maintain their standard of living at the middle and lower ends has been to send more family members to work and to draw down savings or go into debt or both.

An entire new class of financial entity has been created called "the hedge fund." It is new not in the sense that there were not always funds that hedged by selling short or buying assets uncorrelated with other assets. The new part of this phenomenon is that it is based on a demonstrably false premise: that these entities can consistently outperform wide stock indexes. They have not and cannot, and yet their managers and employees for a time are paid stupendously well.


The first part, the American worker needs to understand that the most tax efficient way to make money is via capital gains. Don't focus on just being an employee. Yes, we all need to start off working. Be smart, live frugal, save your money and invest in stocks of undervalued companies and align yourself with the owners, and make additional wealth from capital gains and dividends like the wealthy people do.

The second part, capitalism is about freedom of choice and minimal interference. If hedge funds are not great investments, what wise person would want to invest their hard earned money into them? The manager and employees from the hedge fund get paid well because people are willing to invest thier money with them.

Capitalism ensures the divide between the haves and have nots are based more on education and intellect versus race, religion, or a prefered group. Look at Oprah, she was born a poor, black, girl is racist Mississippi. Under the capitalist system she became a billionaire. Why? She's has education and intelligence! Can't say that for socialist systems. Also its human nature for someone to always be on top or in charge. I think its fair if its based on who's willing to work the hardest and be the smartest.


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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: GnosticWarrior]
    #6672355 - 03/15/07 01:26 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

While I'm not a big fan of any system, I would have to agree with much of what you are saying here. I was able to retire at 53 having only worked part time most of my working life and never making high wages. (less than $20 per hour) I own my home which is worth a lot more than I paid for it. I did this by living within my means using the discards of a decadant society (garage sales etc.) and a little bit of investing. The average person under any system is not intelligent or confident enough to think for themselves and will usually find others living off their efforts.


--------------------

The basic texture of research consists of dreams into which the threads of reasoning, measurement, and calculation are woven. -Albert Szent-Gyorgyi.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC

A human life is a journey into darkness -unknown



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OfflineGnosticWarrior
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: Icelander]
    #6672861 - 03/15/07 03:27 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Icelander, you're a smart dude and making the most from the opportunities provided to you. I also give up props for doing it on your own. I got it easy because my parents did all the hard work of being someone's employee. They lived frugal enough to have savings for me to use my education and I am able to not work for someone else by minding the family business, which is investing in stocks. I'm 30 and still live with them. Homes are too expensive here in beautiful Hawaii.

Being dependent on a paycheck and being an employee is hard. Hard to have your indpendent thinking and hard to maintain your spirituality. When I was working, most I saw compromised their personal integrity, or did not know that they lowered their standards, they made themselves numb to the inner voice. However, my pool was limited to govt. employees. I also feel for my artist type friends, who also turned me on to psychadelics. The capitalist system does not work for them. They're the ones that ended up in prison or being homeless.

I guess all we can do is try our best to keep seeking and living the truth as it evolves with you and help those we can along the way to do the same.

"Economy is the basis of society. When the economy is stable, society develops. The ideal economy combines the spiritual and the material, and the best commodities to trade in are sincerity and love." - Morihei Ueshiba


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InvisibleArp
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: GnosticWarrior]
    #6672964 - 03/15/07 03:56 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

If I could trade stocks successfully I'd be off to South-America and do it from a distance. Everything is cheap overthere and you could have your own house by the beach :sun:


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: GnosticWarrior]
    #6673145 - 03/15/07 04:43 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

GnosticWarrior said:
I'm 30 and still live with them.




Well, that should make you feel proud of yourself
Quote:



Being dependent on a paycheck and being an employee is hard.




Wow, what a fucking concept, supporting yourself is work (Oh my zappa, I said the evil word).
Quote:



The capitalist system does not work for them. They're the ones that ended up in prison or being homeless.




Apparently, THEY don't work for themselves either. Let's see, failed artist, no job, doper, yep, prison or homeless is pretty much their options. Poor misunderstood babies.
Quote:



I guess all we can do is try our best to keep seeking and living the truth as it evolves with you and help those we can along the way to do the same.




How come you let your artist friends become homeless? You have no expenses to speak of, why didn't YOU save them?
Quote:



"Economy is the basis of society. When the economy is stable, society develops. The ideal economy combines the spiritual and the material, and the best commodities to trade in are sincerity and love." - Morihei Ueshiba




There is no evidence whatsoever to support the notion of a spirit. None


--------------------


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OfflineFrenchSocialist
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: GnosticWarrior]
    #6673339 - 03/15/07 05:29 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

GnosticWarrior said:

Capitalism ensures the divide between the haves and have nots are based more on education and intellect versus race, religion, or a prefered group.




How do you know this?


--------------------


"Both liberty and equality are among the primary goals pursued by human beings through many centuries; but total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs" -- Isaiah Berlin


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OfflineFrenchSocialist
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: Icelander]
    #6673360 - 03/15/07 05:34 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Icelander said:
The average person under any system is not intelligent or confident enough to think for themselves and will usually find others living off their efforts.




Any system which allows for millions of its citizens to fall through the cracks is a dysfunctional system. Regardless of whether or not your model of an ideal human can make it through successfully, the fact is making a system based on this ideal is unrealistic.

A working system has to take into account human nature. It is quite clear, with what you said above, that capitalism doesn't take human nature into account.


--------------------


"Both liberty and equality are among the primary goals pursued by human beings through many centuries; but total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs" -- Isaiah Berlin


Edited by FrenchSocialist (03/15/07 05:37 PM)


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6673376 - 03/15/07 05:37 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:


A working system has to take into account human nature. It is quite clear, with what you said above, that capitalism doesn't take human nature into account.




Au contraire, it is the only system that takes human nature into account.


--------------------


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OfflineFrenchSocialist
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: zappaisgod]
    #6673394 - 03/15/07 05:40 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

zappaisgod said:
Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:


A working system has to take into account human nature. It is quite clear, with what you said above, that capitalism doesn't take human nature into account.




Au contraire, it is the only system that takes human nature into account.




How so? To my knowledge, when the system of capitalism was first proposed by Adam Smith, humanity was largely ignorant of human nature.

Also evidence from modern psychology contradicts your claim.

As I have stated before:

Quote:

Data from evolutionary psychology would suggest otherwise.1 Also, new scientific research suggests that too much choice actually harms an individuals well-being.2 And the inequality that arises from it also tends to create long-term stress related health problems.3






Edited by FrenchSocialist (03/15/07 05:46 PM)


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OfflineFrenchSocialist
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: zappaisgod]
    #6673472 - 03/15/07 06:02 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

zappaisgod said:
How come you let your artist friends become homeless? You have no expenses to speak of, why didn't YOU save them?




That's not his job. He probably does have expenses, and he probably isn't wealthy enough to support that many people. The problem that effected Icelander's friends is societal-it should be confronted at a social level, not blamed on an individual who has been struggling to just get by. It's actually pretty rude of you to bring that up.


--------------------


"Both liberty and equality are among the primary goals pursued by human beings through many centuries; but total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs" -- Isaiah Berlin


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OfflineRedstorm
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6673513 - 03/15/07 06:13 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:
Quote:

zappaisgod said:
How come you let your artist friends become homeless? You have no expenses to speak of, why didn't YOU save them?




That's not his job.




Just like it's not mine or anyone elses' job (via taxation to welfare programs) to take care of those who do not pick a profession which will not give them an income.


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OfflineFrenchSocialist
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: Redstorm]
    #6673577 - 03/15/07 06:24 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Redstorm said:

Just like it's not mine or anyone elses' job (via taxation to welfare programs) to take care of those who do not pick a profession which will not give them an income.




Taxation is a necessity. It's is the government's job to promote the general welfare and the government has to collect taxes in order to do its job. Paying taxes is actually more then a job, it is an obligation.


--------------------


"Both liberty and equality are among the primary goals pursued by human beings through many centuries; but total liberty for wolves is death to the lambs" -- Isaiah Berlin


Edited by FrenchSocialist (03/15/07 06:43 PM)


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OfflineGnosticWarrior
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: zappaisgod]
    #6673667 - 03/15/07 06:58 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

zappaisgod said:

Quote:

How come you let your artist friends become homeless? You have no expenses to speak of, why didn't YOU save them?




I have minimal expenses, but I cannot be financially indpendent on my own with out my parents. Before, they were on my case about not being serious about working. Only now that I've shown them some success at investing their money do they accept my lack of a career.

If I ever do obtain enough wealth to be financially independent, helping struggling artists are on my list. Unfortunately too though you can only save those who want to save themselves. Look at Mike Tyson, he wasted his opportunities, can any amount of money save him?

Quote:

There is no evidence whatsoever to support the notion of a spirit. None




Yup, I can't provide physical proof of the spirit or love. But if you ever had "that" feeling, that's all you need to know that its true. I can't convince anyone who never experienced it.

But overall you're right I am spoiled and don't truly know what suffering is all about and have no right to talk. It's just that its a little hard for me to see the benefits of walking the path of Buddha right now.


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InvisibleArp
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: Redstorm]
    #6673708 - 03/15/07 07:12 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

There are probably enough resources in a rich society to give those who are less fortunate a decent life as well?

But I can understand your reasoning if your country happens to be in the 3rd world (or a rich one under false pretense) where you struggle daily for your survival.


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6673896 - 03/15/07 08:05 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:
Quote:

zappaisgod said:
Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:


A working system has to take into account human nature. It is quite clear, with what you said above, that capitalism doesn't take human nature into account.




Au contraire, it is the only system that takes human nature into account.




How so? To my knowledge, when the system of capitalism was first proposed by Adam Smith, humanity was largely ignorant of human nature.





Capitalism predates Mr. Smith by several millennia and humanity has never been ignorant of human nature
Quote:


Also evidence from modern psychology contradicts your claim.




Really? Do you have any knowledge whatsoever of the tenets of behavior modification? B. F. Skinner? Pavlov? Your ignorance astounds me.
Quote:



As I have stated before:

Quote:

Data from evolutionary psychology would suggest otherwise.1 Also, new scientific research suggests that too much choice actually harms an individuals well-being.2 And the inequality that arises from it also tends to create long-term stress related health problems.[url=http://hiderefer.com/?http://obssr.od.nih.gov/Content/Publications/Articles/SOCIALIN.htm]3[/url]









Yes you have stated before. Of course, your statements have all the weight and force of a feather in a hurricane. Your Pinker (first link) citation is irrelevant, I would love to see what point you are trying to make with that. Your second citation describes the freedom to choose which capitalism has brought (ohnoes whaddaya mean I have to make a choice?) And the third is just ludicrous. People who have no money are less healthy than people who do. Well fucking duh? No wealthy no healthy? Bullshit. Is it stressful to be a bum? Probably. Not anything I would want to experience, which is why I went to fucking work and took care of myself and my family. Without a profit motive we wouldn't have the health care we do, which is unprecedentedly fabulous for all. Aint capitalism grand?

Here's all you need to know about human nature. Without a belief that reward is somehow tied to performance no one will ever perform. At all. Unless you put a gun to their head. Then they'll do the minimum required to not get shot. So, which do you prefer? The carrot? Or the stick? Methinks you seem to prefer the stick.


--------------------


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6673915 - 03/15/07 08:09 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:
Quote:

zappaisgod said:
How come you let your artist friends become homeless? You have no expenses to speak of, why didn't YOU save them?




That's not his job. He probably does have expenses, and he probably isn't wealthy enough to support that many people. The problem that effected Icelander's friends is societal-it should be confronted at a social level, not blamed on an individual who has been struggling to just get by. It's actually pretty rude of you to bring that up.




Is it my job??????? Because that's what you're espousing. The problem that "effected" Icelander's friends is their unwillingness to work. Fuck, I have a yard and a house to clean. Call me. Struggle to get by? As do we all.

Edit: Icelander, though mentioned by FS, is not the subject, Gnostic Warrior is. FS got that wrong, too, and I didn't reread the whole thread until now.


--------------------


Edited by zappaisgod (03/15/07 08:32 PM)


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6673925 - 03/15/07 08:13 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:
Quote:

Redstorm said:

Just like it's not mine or anyone else's' job (via taxation to welfare programs) to take care of those who do not pick a profession which will not give them an income.




Taxation is a necessity. It's is the government's job to promote the general welfare and the government has to collect taxes in order to do its job. Paying taxes is actually more then a job, it is an obligation.




And their re disbursement should be solely for the common good and not for the enrichment of a bunch of do nothing dilettantes.


--------------------


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: GnosticWarrior]
    #6673982 - 03/15/07 08:29 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

GnosticWarrior said:
zappaisgod said:

Quote:

How come you let your artist friends become homeless? You have no expenses to speak of, why didn't YOU save them?




I have minimal expenses, but I cannot be financially indpendent on my own with out my parents. Before, they were on my case about not being serious about working. Only now that I've shown them some success at investing their money do they accept my lack of a career.

If I ever do obtain enough wealth to be financially independent, helping struggling artists are on my list. Unfortunately too though you can only save those who want to save themselves. Look at Mike Tyson, he wasted his opportunities, can any amount of money save him?




I find your motives and your methods to be pure. Unlike some others you are not putting a gun to my head and demanding that I support those who refuse to support themselves.
Quote:



Quote:

There is no evidence whatsoever to support the notion of a spirit. None




Yup, I can't provide physical proof of the spirit or love. But if you ever had "that" feeling, that's all you need to know that its true. I can't convince anyone who never experienced it.




There actually is physical evidence of "love". They have even found a reasonable biological explanation for the "seven year itch".
Quote:



But overall you're right I am spoiled and don't truly know what suffering is all about and have no right to talk. It's just that its a little hard for me to see the benefits of walking the path of Buddha right now.




The first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem. Now get out there, grasshopper, and engage the world with gusto and a full heart. It's more fun than you realize.


--------------------


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OfflineGnosticWarrior
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Re: Ben Stein criticizes US inequality [Re: FrenchSocialist]
    #6674180 - 03/15/07 09:36 PM (7 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

FrenchSocialist said:
Quote:

GnosticWarrior said:

Capitalism ensures the divide between the haves and have nots are based more on education and intellect versus race, religion, or a prefered group.




How do you know this?




Remember nothing is perfect. I view the difference between capitalism and socialism as the method in which goods, service and the resources needed to produce them are distributed or allocated. In socialism If govt. is the sole organization to make that determination of what goods, services and the allocation of resources to provide them is best, what makes the people who are in govt. qualified to make thier decisions? What yardstick are they using to measure its optimal allocation? There's a relaionship between consumers and producers/providers. Almost every person in society has a role as both a consumer and as a producer/provider. In socialism, the govt. interferes too much to allow the natural relationship of being a consumer and yet a producer/provider to exist.

In capitalism, govt's. role in the mix is more limited. Their role is just as regulators and enforcers of society policies of the nature of exchange of goods, services and resources are distributed and allocated between consumers and the processors/providers. The participants themselves, the "market" decides based on the price they choose to pay for consumption, dictates how resources are allocated to producers/providers. Remember most participants are both consumer and producer/provider. Since resources are limited, Capitalism uses profit as a benchmark. In general consumers will choose to give their money to the producer/provider that is the most efficient based on cost, to produce/provide goods and services that they desire. This is where the education and intelligence factor comes in. The more someone specializes on producing/providing a particular good/service they increase the quality and also the avg. cost per unit. Since all participant's are also consumers, profits are the benchmark that captitalism uses to hold are parties accountable. As an employee and/or investor, they both depend on the profits of a corporation for money to consume goods/services they desire. So they would not want to work/invest in a company that's not profitable. As a consumer, they will choose to spend their money on the producer/provider who can provide goods/service at the best price or quality that they desire.

Sorry, so long. Anyway a smart capitalist knows that profits matter over race, religion, or whatever. If your my employee, I don't care if your black as long as you can produce. If your a consumer, I don't care if a muslim made it, as long as its a quality product at a cheap price. So yes capitalism discrimates based on abilities to be efficient, profitable, and services oriented. If a participant chooses to use any other form of discrimination, that would not mix well and they probably would have less potential ability to consume and produce goods/services.

I hope this answers your question. btw, as an Investor I read a lot on Warren Buffett, who is also friends with Bill Gates. Those two guys happen to be the worlds two richest people. They live in a capitalist country.


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