Chapter 5: Business
And The Danger of Short Range Corporate Thinking
Capitalism has fallen short? Communism/Socialism has always been a failure. What do we replace it with?
As businesses grow bigger the end result is more advertising. This advertising has caused the growth of a society where the environment is damaged, citizens health is damaged, and pressing world issues are ignored, and government becomes ineffectual.
Furthermore as advertising gets more expensive it is useless to the consumer. All it does is try to influence people, especially the poor, the buy things they don't need, whereas TV businessman can get richer.
This all is a moral failure of capitalism. This is incompatible with the teachings of Christ. Communism/Socialism has also failed, contrary to its claim it ends up with a few ruling over the many, with a suppression of individual rights, freedom, open communication and ideas, etc. Also even greater destruction of the environment then though capitalism.
We should ban all TV advertising and go with a pay for what you get system. This puts the motivation in the right place, rather than with the destructive motivation of advertising. Or perhaps a 25% tax on ads to go to education (school systems) and the EPA, making advertising less lucrative in its nefarious effects.
Limit stocks to a 50 year dividend return, after that only voting privileges. This again eliminates the bad motivation inherent in the system. Currently stockholders are abstractly removed from anything but getting money. Only getting money (short term gain can be long term loss for total economy) becomes the Board of Directors motivation and therefore the managements only overriding focus, to the detriment of longer and wider range planning and needs of a healthy economy.
God is not against success, the only difference between what man thinks as success and what God does, is that God knows the long term consequences of everything. So God really knows what makes for success. In the long run what is good for people IS good for business. But when one chops that off to short term thinking, with measuring success by money ONLY, and with non cash productivity left out of the picture, then business cannot possibly fulfill its role in society. Without long term thinking, and wider range thinking, the facts and truths for good decision making are left out. Business becomes a exploiter of people, and hampers our practical education, mentoring, and edification, not to speak of our real success. Just give it long enough and you see these failures affecting us. Promote senseless spending just for spending sake and now 30 years later we are reaping a overweight, unable to cope society that costs everyone a fortune in health costs and waste. That is literal waste, wasted gas, wasted energy, neglected maintenance, wasted time and effort, etc., because no one knows true value from illusions of worth. Yes there is true value to life, meaning to life, practical needs and purposes that fulfill our souls, just by following a God given self-fulfilling cycle of life.
We need to anchor ourselves in God's teachings, in the practical, in survival basics, in domestic tranquility, successfully coping with life's real needs, rather than pursuing frivolous trills, by which we just run from our souls to nowhere. A mature person learns that stability with practical meaning is not chaining their freedom, but gives us a way to use our natural skills to the fullest, opening up freedoms (and contentment for those who can let it in), as God meant it to be.
Short Term Profits, Long Term Profits
True economic success is basically just thinking and planning short term vs long term, it’s as simple as that. Here are a few crude examples.
It's like someone taking a bulldozer and plowing the topsoil off 10,000 acres of farmland and selling it. He can make a lot of money right away selling the topsoil but what is left of the farmland is just a dust bowl for the foreseeable future. Short term profit, long term loss.
Or tearing out all the copper piping from a new building and selling it. A quick amount of cash can be made, but a much more substantial long term loss of use of the building.
Or a cereal maker manipulating the poor with ads for over sweetened cereal, they can get a profit for themselves by exploiting a person’s sweet tooth and ignorance. But it is a large long term loss for the people involved, and society, with increased health care and dental costs.
Or Coal burning Power Plants, they can keep their costs down by not putting modern scrubbers on their smokestacks, but it is long term loss to society when native fish become unusable due to mercury contamination, as well as mercury and other pollutants building up in the soil and air, leading to higher health care costs for many many years into the future.
Or Nuclear Power where short term energy production is a profit for some, while leaving thousands of years of expensive waste management to future generations, let alone the potential for extremely expense disasters like happened several times in Russia.
Or alcohol or other addictive substances, again just short term and limited profits. Think this is not so? Consider an undertaker, The more deaths the more caskets they sell. Only a short term profit (here a windfall), but which is limited to the undertaker, and a loss for everyone else!
So this is where Government has a vital role to play, in regulating business in a way that the health of people and the environment are not compromised by the unfortunate, albeit sometimes unavoidable tendency for business to think in a short term and limited perspective.
Marx and Communism
I haven't read though a standard Economics text, nor have I read much of Marx, but from what I hear about his theory it has many flaws. For one he claims wealth, ie goods, are only a factor of work. So 12 hours of work on a table makes it have that amount of value. I do not believe this; work alone does not determine value. Value is determined by fulfilling human needs. One could work 1000 hours making something that has not much value at all. Fulfilling basic human needs of shelter, food, health and maybe some others are the cornerstone of a healthy economy. Shelter needs land, but Marx said land had no value because it could be bought with goods, so only the work done on goods has value. Well the converse is true too, goods can be bought with land, so does only land have value? Land has value, even though work did not produce it (but can clear, plant or transform the character of it!), BECAUSE freedom has value, freedom for each individual to be able to be creative with their talents depends on choices made with land and resources and labor, etc., all of them are needed to produce. Land has no value, hah! I heard Marx said farmers are stupid. No wonder he thinks land has no value of he does not value the growing of food AND THE TALENT AND CREATIVITY IT TAKES TO DO SO. Marx put all value into wealth, wealth alone is not the only factor in life, there are many others, just one of which is POWER, when you equalize wealth, and strip people of property rights, and you strip people of POWER. Having money and property is a form of power, as you have control over it, and therefore have the opportunity to exercise that power in a POSITIVE way to be creative and productive (of course you can be negative and wasteful too). When money is taken and redistributed, it is the re-distributor who now has the POWER, i.e., the power is centralized!! Ideally in communism they redistribute it perfectly and transfer some power back to people? Perhaps? But history shows otherwise, and theoretically the fact is this POWER is just as important as work in creating wealth, and where communism attempts to distribute wealth evenly, the very fact of doing so means POWER is distributed less evenly, which leads to choice and creativity and talent being wasted, as the masses lose power to the centralized planners, who can never know the detailed needs of each individual. SO IRONICALLY COMMUNISM ENDS UP DOING JUST what it wanted to fix, that is making the poor poorer rather than richer, and distributing the MEANS of creating wealth UNEQUITABILY, therefore inefficiently. And ironically again it takes power from the many and gives it to the few.
Another example of why decentralized land control, i.e., private ownership, is better economically. Decisions have to be made as to land use (again land and resources, not just work have value therefore), in Communism and state control of land that is therefore a centralized decision. What is the state? It does not existence in itself but is just people in power and leadership positions. What if, even within the state (departments) there is a conflict over land use, say the dept. of mining says to extract coal from a certain parcel, but roads and highway says that is needed for an interstate highway, or other dept. has another use. Well such conflicts are not the exception, but pretty much the rule, that is making DECISIONS is a common need. If only the state has control of land, and if depts. have conflicts the higher up leadership has to make the decisions, and since this is a common thing, a few people are going to be making much of the decisions of land use nationwide. These are therefore going to be very detached decisions, as a few people cannot possibly know well what are the issues over millions of acres of land. Indeed in Communist countries we see this centralized, detached from the real situation, decision making is one of the biggest problems. Another huge problem is the question of motivation to work when more work does not equal more pay (because the state controls your pay regardless of how much you work).
Also it has been seen in Marx's personal letters he was a violent person and a racist, as well as Anti-Christian to a repressive degree (ie against, and willing to take away, individual freedom) Also I hear he was against Democracy.
So to recap a little, Marx saw work and wealth (goods) as the only real factors in economics. When if fact there are many factors, especially those relating to freeing up HUMAN POTENTIAL FOR CREATIVITY. Marx wanted wealth distributed evenly, in doing so you automatically unevenly distribute power. Marx wanted private ownership of land abolished, but when you do that you distribute power and decision making unequally. Freedom and liberty of action is taken away under such a system, ei , is distributed unequally.
So under Communism
Equal distribution of GOODS (WEALTH, $$) but
Unequal distribution of Power and of decision making and of liberty and freedom.
As we can see from the results in Communist nations the later factors apparently are much more important than the equal pay in creating a productive society. And as I have tried to show, this is so in theory also. Marx left out too many factors in his economic analysis, indeed I am sure there are quite a few more than just what I have considered here, or are considered in modern economic theory's. Indeed the main problem with modern theory is similar to what I said in the first few lines above about Marx. WHAT IS OF VALUE is what fulfills basic human needs of shelter, food and health. Anything more than this is luxury, (of which we are blessed with too much today actually). Modern theories are concerned too much with supposed absolute numbers of GNP, when indeed the factors that go into GNP are not always stuff of any real value. So again it is a question of considering enough factors, and having a proper perspective and goal of basic needs.
Marx also, unfortunately and with my sympathy, appears from his private writing to have been a very troubled person, prone to violent thoughts and expressions, as well as racist and genocidal utterances. Some claim he was into the occult.
The appeal of helping the poor of course lures many into believing his ideas, and most assuredly helping the poor is great. Let’s look at this issue. In medieval times indeed there was upper and lower classes. Much of this was based on education though, as in those times most could not read, etc. Also the political system was one of hierarchy, today’s democracy and universal education is much preferable to this, and much more attainable in this day and age then it was then. In those times much poverty was also systemic, that is beyond anyone's control, it was caused by diseases of which now we have cures, and lack of machines and know-how for production, of which now we have much. And overpopulation, more population than resources and technology could support, due to lack of sexual self-control of men and women, and lack of birth control medicine. Today overpopulation if again the main cause of wage stagnation, and indeed lowering of standards of living for the first time in 2000 years. Again caused mostly now by lack of education, self-control, and birth control methods in less developed nations. This is threatening the environment we depend upon for food, fresh water, oxygen, and enjoyment. Overcrowding is causing conflicts and and disease. To attack poverty in this day and age, stabilizing population though equable laws and requirements for reasonable and necessary family sizing is the ONLY HUMANE OPTION we have. To not do so would be irresponsible and lead society into more poverty and warfare.
The Answer to the First Title
Capitalism is okay, to the extent it falls short is not due to the idea of the free market system, but in simply tackling the old and new issues of importance to our peace and happiness in a appropriate way, including limited but appropriate government regulation and structure. And we must have Christian morals, Gods free advice, without the same any state will eventually fail.