1060: “Crowdsourcing”

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Fire Brns
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Fire Brns » Fri May 25, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

jpers36 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:I think the word got its stink from the days that a few big distributors bought food from a whole lot of small farmers, and forced the farmers to sell at a low price, and then sold food to a whole lot of urban families at high prices which the families had no choice but to pay.


I remember those days vividly. The evil corporate suits holding the farmers at gunpoint as they emptied their silos of corn. The roving bands of yes men on motorcycles, setting up roadblocks to prevent direct association between supply and demand. I'm so glad Max Rockatansky came along guns blazing and established the FDA. Or was it the FTC?

Lol.

Without any government interference, we'd get free competition and nothing bad could happen, right? I've heard it argued that the only thing that ever lets middlemen collect all the profits and not let anybody else have any, is government interference. Do you believe that?


The sherman antitrust act is in place so it's not like free market would result in an anarchistic road warrior society run by men on the top floors of skysrapers. If I remember correctly government control of supply and demand can do worse than the free market. I like how you challenge assertions I didn't make. Thanks for making a lighthearted discussion uncomfortably political.

and since no one got my reference earlier I'll make it less subtle: "About 50% of the human race is middle men and they don't take kindly to being eliminated."
Last edited by Fire Brns on Fri May 25, 2012 8:02 pm UTC, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby billybobfred » Fri May 25, 2012 7:57 pm UTC

The cheese is much warmer today.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri May 25, 2012 8:08 pm UTC

Isaac wrote:I've worked in restaurants (Wendy's and Carl's Jr), and I'd like to know what restaurants you go to. If you can make a sandwich that isn't a pbj you know as much about cooking as most non-immigrant restaurant employees..... and the supply chain consists heavily of ingredients that have half-lives on par with uranium-238 and really low standards on what gets served, it really isn't some work of logistical brilliance or even logistical competence...... seriously, I've seen tomatoes that stay firm for a month after being cut (Wendy's) and have seen chicken that went into the charbroiler smelling rancid get served (at Carl's Jr.... not that it matters, at the temperature we cooked at I wouldn't worry about any pathogens, vitamins or protein structures being left)....

Ah, I see the problem here: you're taking fast food joints to be restaurants. I was referring to actual restaurants.

But even fast food places have their value. When I go to lunch today, I will decide whether I want chinese food, a burrito, pizza, or any of a variety of other foods, all within a block of each other, all within a few blocks of my work, all with people standing by to make them on demand with ingredients at the ready. Alternatively, I could drive all the way back home to the other side of town, see what I have in the fridge, and make whatever I can with whatever I have in stock, or go to the grocery store, buy the ingredients I need to make whatever I want, and get back from lunch an hour late. I may or may not be able to produce higher-quality food overall than fast-food restaurants, given the time to figure out what ingredients I will need to make what I want, acquire them, prepare them, and make the food. But they can produce acceptable quality food much more efficiently and conveniently than I can (because they are full of people who know exactly what they need to make that food, and have those things already on hand and prepared, since that's the one thing that they do there), which is sometimes of greater value than the comparative loss of quality, and therefore these middle men have provided a valuable service to me.

Even buying food from the store, why bother with the middle man when you can just buy everything direct from the manufacturer or farmer? Because it saves you the time of locating a manufacturer or farmer of the food you're interested in (never mind discovering that that kind of food exists), contacting them each individually, and arranging to have them shipped to you.


..... or you could go to a farmers market, I think you're over-complicating things.

Yes, because every kind of food I might possibly want to buy is grown locally year round, and farmer's markets are open all day every day. Make an argument about the tradeoff in quality required to provide that convenience if you like (the same as with fast food above), but don't deny that a professional grocery store sourcing and stocking a wide variety of goods year round and open all day every day provides a great convenience over buying whatever the local farmers are growing this month if I can make it to the market during the few hours one day a week it's open.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Isaac » Fri May 25, 2012 10:06 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:Without any government interference, we'd get free competition and nothing bad could happen, right? I've heard it argued that the only thing that ever lets middlemen collect all the profits and not let anybody else have any, is government interference. Do you believe that?


markets aren't perfect, they just have mechanisms that allow self-correction...... interestingly, the free market zealots often screw up that mechanism by insisting that markets are perfect..... government intervention leads to cronyism, for which the correction mechanism is typically much slower and less effective. For example, a bunch of highly politically connected bankers claimed to be insolvent and cooked up a big scare story about how if they where allowed to fail the whole world would burn and in return they got butt loads of free money...... but yeah, most abusive monopolies exist only because of government. Most monopolies that I know of exploit either their ownership of infrastructure or "intellectual properties", both of which are dependent upon legal definitions of property and the enforcement of that property claim by government.



Ghona wrote:
Isaac wrote:I've worked in restaurants (Wendy's and Carl's Jr), and I'd like to know what restaurants you go to. If you can make a sandwich that isn't a pbj you know as much about cooking as most non-immigrant restaurant employees..... and the supply chain consists heavily of ingredients that have half-lives on par with uranium-238 and really low standards on what gets served, it really isn't some work of logistical brilliance or even logistical competence...... seriously, I've seen tomatoes that stay firm for a month after being cut (Wendy's) and have seen chicken that went into the charbroiler smelling rancid get served (at Carl's Jr.... not that it matters, at the temperature we cooked at I wouldn't worry about any pathogens, vitamins or protein structures being left)....


You're talking about fast food exclusively. The initial nutrient content is within rounding error.


Chicken is a good source of protein and that is not a rounding error, but cooking it to an internal temperature of 210 degrees Fahrenheit (target temp was 185 degrees Fahrenheit, but almost always overshot.... I'm still not sure if 210 was a thermometer error or if that is the boiling point of water at the altitude I was working) means the protein is gone.... and yea, I only worked at fast food restaurants, but I know people who've worked at Famous Dave's, Denny's and local restaurants you wouldn't of heard of and it's not any different there.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby jpers36 » Fri May 25, 2012 10:17 pm UTC

Isaac wrote:Chicken is a good source of protein and that is not a rounding error, but cooking it to an internal temperature of 210 degrees Fahrenheit [...] means the protein is gone....


That's nonsense. Protein doesn't magically disappear at 210 degrees.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby MAD JEDDAI » Sat May 26, 2012 12:01 am UTC

dharmamama wrote:This reminds me of the brilliance of Teefury - other folks design the products, Teefury prints & ships only what's ordered.
???
PROFIT

They have folks *competing* to provide their product!


I was thinking of this, and other sites like riptapparel.com, which simply take artists' designs and print and sell them on shirts. They operate at a ridiculously high profit margin compared to other shirt retailers, but allow for a lot of visibility that most artists won't be able to get otherwise.

I also thought of Kickstarter, one of the most awesome middlemen I know, which simply allows people to post their ideas and get funding to bring them into reality. Again, they're providing this visibility that people's ideas normally wouldn't get.

Riptapparel hosts one design per day, and provides a countdown letting you know just how long it will be before you won't ever be able to buy this shirt again on their website. Artists are allowed to submit their designs to riptapparel, where they will then be considered for as long as the group wishes to consider them, and they'll notify the artist if they want to host it or if they eventually decide not to. Then they have the right to not host it for any reason they may randomly decide. They will then take orders for how many shirts customers want, print the design on the shirts, and ship them out. And then the artist gets $1.00 for each shirt, hoodie, or onesie sold (at $10.00 per normal-sized shirt, $15.00 for kids sizes, $35.00 per hoodie, and $18.00 per onesie). So basically the profit margin works as such, an artist sends in their work for free, riptapparel gets to host it, give the artist <10% of the profits, and has to then deduct bandwidth and blank shirt buying/printing fees, netting ript a ton of profits. I've seen many of the artist designs being sold on other, much smaller sites as well, for much higher profit margins, so again this is really just the visibility sell.

Now Kickstarter, I feel, is one of the coolest possible ideas on the planet. They're making money off of hosting giant internet display boards for exciting potential products. That's it. They give you a place to put some pictures of your idea, a video, and a link for people to pay you money to have your idea created, and allow you to set up reward tiers for people who donate money to your potential product. They then allow people to make potential payments through Amazon, which will only be processed if the project reaches its predefined monetary goal. If the goal isn't reached, the project is closed, and nobody has to pay anyone anything. If the project hits its goal, Kickstarter gets 5% of all funds raised, Amazon gets a 3-5% credit card processing fee, and the project creator keeps the rest. Again, it would be cheaper not to have to give away 5% of the profits raised, but you're paying for the high profile visibility that kickstarter provides. People will be far more likely to hear about your project and fund it, and sometimes you can even make far more than you asked (check this one out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doublefine/double-fine-adventure?ref=live).

In the end, I suppose it comes down to advertising. Yeah, you could host your shirt somewhere other than riptapparel, and several artists who have their work on the site do so, but would it sell as much or gain you as much fame? And you could probably try to raise money for your idea through conventional methods, but Kickstarter makes it easy and can get you a ton more potential investors, since I know there are people who just cruise that site looking for projects to back. In this case the middleman is getting quite a lot of money but still allowing their customer to get more money than they potentially would be able to get on their own. Its an interesting balance. Just some thoughts I had on the subject.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Dojji » Sat May 26, 2012 12:42 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:The sherman antitrust act is in place so it's not like free market would result in an anarchistic road warrior society run by men on the top floors of skysrapers. If I remember correctly government control of supply and demand can do worse than the free market. I like how you challenge assertions I didn't make. Thanks for making a lighthearted discussion uncomfortably political.

and since no one got my reference earlier I'll make it less subtle: "About 50% of the human race is middle men and they don't take kindly to being eliminated."


Pretty much. Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work. Besides being utterly impractical -- there's things that you'll just never have the time to do without paying a middleman.

Heck, corporations are middlemen.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby blitz120 » Sat May 26, 2012 3:53 am UTC

blitz120 wrote:Gee Willikers! They've reinvented "stone soup"!


This is odd; I posted '<Oscar><Mike><Golf>!" not "Gee Willikers!"

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ronfar » Sat May 26, 2012 4:12 am UTC

Whys wrote:I've always said that the secret to making money is selling something you don't have. Infinite supply and no overhead.


I sense a parallel with religion.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby StClair » Sat May 26, 2012 4:23 am UTC

Dojji wrote: Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work.

Indeed. I've heard it suggested lately that one of the biggest problems in transitioning to an actual post-scarcity society (in chunks, most likely, since these things never happen all at once) would be what to do with all of the people whose jobs (nay, entire industries) just vanished. We're seeing elements of that already - heck, it's been ongoing since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Some will surely argue that from the perspective of most of the world pre-1700, that's where we are now.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ronfar » Sat May 26, 2012 6:06 am UTC

StClair wrote:
Dojji wrote: Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work.

Indeed. I've heard it suggested lately that one of the biggest problems in transitioning to an actual post-scarcity society (in chunks, most likely, since these things never happen all at once) would be what to do with all of the people whose jobs (nay, entire industries) just vanished. We're seeing elements of that already - heck, it's been ongoing since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Some will surely argue that from the perspective of most of the world pre-1700, that's where we are now.


In 1700, something like 90% of the U.S. population worked in agriculture. Today it's closer to 10%. So when it comes to the basic work of simply keeping (almost) everyone from starving to death, we are indeed already living in that world.

On the other hand, there was one kind of worker who really suffered after the Industrial Revolution - the horse.

There was a type of employee at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution whose job and livelihood largely vanished in the early twentieth century. This was the horse. The population of working horses actually peaked in England long after the Industrial Revolution, in 1901, when 3.25 million were at work. Though they had been replaced by rail for long-distance haulage and by steam engines for driving machinery, they still plowed fields, hauled wagons and carriages short distances, pulled boats on the canals, toiled in the pits, and carried armies into battle. But the arrival of the internal combustion engine in the late nineteenth century rapidly displaced these workers, so that by 1924 there were fewer than two million. There was always a wage at which all these horses could have remained employed. But that wage was so low that it did not pay for their feed.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Taikand » Sat May 26, 2012 8:43 am UTC

Dojji wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:The sherman antitrust act is in place so it's not like free market would result in an anarchistic road warrior society run by men on the top floors of skysrapers. If I remember correctly government control of supply and demand can do worse than the free market. I like how you challenge assertions I didn't make. Thanks for making a lighthearted discussion uncomfortably political.

and since no one got my reference earlier I'll make it less subtle: "About 50% of the human race is middle men and they don't take kindly to being eliminated."


Pretty much. Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work. Besides being utterly impractical -- there's things that you'll just never have the time to do without paying a middleman.

Heck, corporations are middlemen.

Being a middlemen do you not have an interest to make your job more important then it is?That's why you'd have an incentive to create jargon and pseudo-sciences in order to fool other in believing that whatever you do ("synergy consulting" and other such crap) is useful?

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby J Thomas » Sat May 26, 2012 12:19 pm UTC

Ronfar wrote:
StClair wrote:
Dojji wrote: Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work.

Indeed. I've heard it suggested lately that one of the biggest problems in transitioning to an actual post-scarcity society (in chunks, most likely, since these things never happen all at once) would be what to do with all of the people whose jobs (nay, entire industries) just vanished. We're seeing elements of that already - heck, it's been ongoing since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Some will surely argue that from the perspective of most of the world pre-1700, that's where we are now.


In 1700, something like 90% of the U.S. population worked in agriculture. Today it's closer to 10%. So when it comes to the basic work of simply keeping (almost) everyone from starving to death, we are indeed already living in that world.


Today it's closer to 1%.

On the other hand, there was one kind of worker who really suffered after the Industrial Revolution - the horse.


Exactly. Horses do not vote, and they are not particularly good at cross-training for jobs in new industries like data-entry or fast food. So the supply of horses went down to meet the demand.

In the late 1940's the John Deere company and others did a lot toward mechanizing agriculture in the US south. By the early 1950's we had a whole lot of former sharecroppers unemployed in cities in the US north. But we did not let the human population fall to meet the short-run demand for labor.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby J Thomas » Sat May 26, 2012 12:27 pm UTC

Taikand wrote:
Dojji wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:The sherman antitrust act is in place so it's not like free market would result in an anarchistic road warrior society run by men on the top floors of skysrapers. If I remember correctly government control of supply and demand can do worse than the free market. I like how you challenge assertions I didn't make. Thanks for making a lighthearted discussion uncomfortably political.

and since no one got my reference earlier I'll make it less subtle: "About 50% of the human race is middle men and they don't take kindly to being eliminated."


Pretty much. Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work. Besides being utterly impractical -- there's things that you'll just never have the time to do without paying a middleman.

Heck, corporations are middlemen.

Being a middlemen do you not have an interest to make your job more important then it is?That's why you'd have an incentive to create jargon and pseudo-sciences in order to fool other in believing that whatever you do ("synergy consulting" and other such crap) is useful?


Yes, but also if you find a niche that is actually valuable but which is not easy for laymen to understand, you can still perform your service so long as your customers think they get something valuable.

It's quite possible that Enron was performing a valuable service, except they did it wrong. They had an explanation why their work ought to be valuable. Except they did not in fact provide the value they said they would.

Maybe financial derivatives can be useful. The many bankers etc who bought derivatives believed they were getting value for their money, until the crisis.

Many people believe that catastrophic health insurance is worth the money, until they have a health catastrophe and suddenly find that they are not covered for that particular problem. But honest catastrophic health insurance would probably be a good thing. Etc.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sat May 26, 2012 11:31 pm UTC

Dojji wrote:Heck, corporations are middlemen.
No. They are NOT people. :|
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Fire Brns » Sat May 26, 2012 11:56 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:
Dojji wrote:Heck, corporations are middlemen.
No. They are NOT people. :|

Corporations are a collective representation of the combined workers and shareholders. They are people. If you took the people out then there would be no corporation. Prove me wrong find a corporation that does not contain a single person? (Shell companies don't count since people still own them)
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Mirkwood » Sun May 27, 2012 12:39 am UTC

Err, while the discussion about the usefulness of middlemen in the economy is very interesting and all, wasn't the joke in the comic that they're not really doing anything? They're not producing the designs because they're crowdsourcing, they're not middlemen because they're using "already-in-place social networking infrastructure", and they're not the ones using the designs either. The proposed business model is not one in which they are middlemen in the system, but one in which they aren't part of the system at all.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sun May 27, 2012 1:11 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:Corporations are a collective representation of the combined workers and shareholders. They are people. If you took the people out then there would be no corporation. Prove me wrong find a corporation that does not contain a single person? (Shell companies don't count since people still own them)
Corporations represent nothing of the workers. Corporations act on behalf of their shareholders; workers act on behalf of the corporations. So, really, the workers are a collective representation of the shareholders.

Would you call Mothers Against Drunk Driving *a* person? Would you call the ACLU *a* person? Would you call the USA or Ireland or Uruguay *a* person? They are just as made up of people as corporations, but they in no way qualify as people themselves. Entities of a sort, yes, but not people.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby J Thomas » Sun May 27, 2012 1:48 am UTC

Mirkwood wrote:Err, while the discussion about the usefulness of middlemen in the economy is very interesting and all, wasn't the joke in the comic that they're not really doing anything? They're not producing the designs because they're crowdsourcing, they're not middlemen because they're using "already-in-place social networking infrastructure", and they're not the ones using the designs either. The proposed business model is not one in which they are middlemen in the system, but one in which they aren't part of the system at all.


Isn't there somewhere in there where they extract money from somebody? That makes them part of the system.

If there's nothing in there about them getting a profit, how is it a business plan?

And if somebody pays them for somehow allowing the process to continue, how are they not middlemen?

Should they be called off-in-left-field-men?
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby J Thomas » Sun May 27, 2012 1:55 am UTC

StClair wrote:
Dojji wrote:Eliminating all middlemen would put easily half the country out of work.


Indeed. I've heard it suggested lately that one of the biggest problems in transitioning to an actual post-scarcity society (in chunks, most likely, since these things never happen all at once) would be what to do with all of the people whose jobs (nay, entire industries) just vanished. We're seeing elements of that already - heck, it's been ongoing since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Some will surely argue that from the perspective of most of the world pre-1700, that's where we are now.


It's a dilemma. On the one hand, capitalism has no theory for dealing with a post-scarcity society. On the other hand, communism has no mechanism to create a post-scarcity society.

In theory, a capitalist society could do OK if everybody was an owner. But how could that happen? Just give everybody ownership of something?

Norbert Weiner discussed this at length in the 1960's, but I think his ideas got dismissed as just '60's thinking.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ghostbear » Sun May 27, 2012 3:53 am UTC

Fire Brns wrote:Corporations are a collective representation of the combined workers and shareholders. They are people. If you took the people out then there would be no corporation. Prove me wrong find a corporation that does not contain a single person? (Shell companies don't count since people still own them)

So? Yeah, corporations have people in them. They also have money in them: find a corporation that does not contain a single financial element to it. That doesn't mean that corporations are money. Corporations are as much people as people are lungs (find me a human without any lungs!). All you've pointed out is that corporations are a form of divided property, but so are the houses of married couples, and houses sure as fuck aren't people.

Or, since I'm feeling sarcastic:
Humans are a collective representation of the combined cellular components of the body. They are single celled organisms. If you took the single cells out, then there would be no human. Prove me wrong: find a human that does not contain any single cell organisms.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sun May 27, 2012 5:05 am UTC

Actually, that's a pretty good analogy.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ghostbear » Sun May 27, 2012 5:32 am UTC

Yeah, the analogy was sincere. It's just the choice of phrasing that was sarcasm.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun May 27, 2012 9:38 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:Isn't there somewhere in there where they extract money from somebody? That makes them part of the system.

If there's nothing in there about them getting a profit, how is it a business plan?

And if somebody pays them for somehow allowing the process to continue, how are they not middlemen?

That's the point of the joke. They are pitching their "business plan" to investors. Investors who give their company money, in the hopes that the company will use that money, and its business plan, to make more money, which it will then give back to the investors. Instead, the company pays its employees -- the people pitching the plan -- then, having no business plan, goes out of business, leaving the investors holding the short end of the stick.

J Thomas wrote:It's a dilemma. On the one hand, capitalism has no theory for dealing with a post-scarcity society. On the other hand, communism has no mechanism to create a post-scarcity society.

In theory, a capitalist society could do OK if everybody was an owner. But how could that happen? Just give everybody ownership of something?

As Cecil Chesterton said, the problem with capitalism is not that there are too many capitalists, but too few.

Strictly speaking we need here to make a distinction between a free market and capitalism, and likewise command economies and socialism. It's free markets that drive the progress that could lead to a post-scarcity economy. Capitalism just allows existing property-owners to benefit disproportionately from that progress, which leads to the problem of a post-scarcity capitalism leaving the bulk of people to starve to death. Socialism would see to it that the new wealth generated goes first to raising up those in need of it most, instead of those who need it least; but most propositions for doing so circumvent the markets that lead to that kind of progress, and in the extreme cases end up equalizing people by dragging them all down to the same levels.

The problem to be solved, then, is how to make a free-market socialism work; to avoid capitalism without instituting a command economy. It's the only way that we can keep going forward, together; instead of us all staying behind together, or a select few running off to leave the rest behind.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby whateveries » Sun May 27, 2012 9:20 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:
whateveries wrote:Crowdsourcing, it's like, just when you think the internet is tapped out, bingo! another surge of buzzword bonanza strikes...which is just as well, becuause i am just about sick to death of hearing about that fucking cloud.

I just had a great idea: Cloudsourcing! BRB making flowcharts.

:D Beat me to it. Damn...


ok. you have had a few days, now where are the flowcharts? tsk.

one thing I have to note is the divergence from the comic that this thread has taken, other than Qaanol's usage of 'middlemen' I am not sure if it has a strong connection to the actual comic, as a subject con men, would have been closer, as far as I can tell and probably would not have led to a five way philosopical discourse on capitalism vs nutrition...or something.
Admittedly I do tend to skip a few papragraphs when it comes to posts by the resident philosphers Pfhorrest, J.Thomas and others, not because they are not worthwhile, because it affects my carefully tuned shallow approach to happiness, philosophy rarely ends well, esp for the philosophers, where as shallow leads to all kinds of merriment and laughter. funny that.

Edit: clarity removed as much as possi le.
it's fine.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby J Thomas » Mon May 28, 2012 3:06 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
J Thomas wrote:If there's nothing in there about them getting a profit, how is it a business plan?


That's the point of the joke. They are pitching their "business plan" to investors. Investors who give their company money, in the hopes that the company will use that money, and its business plan, to make more money, which it will then give back to the investors. Instead, the company pays its employees -- the people pitching the plan -- then, having no business plan, goes out of business, leaving the investors holding the short end of the stick.


I think your interpretation is better than mine. If they just had it set up so they extracted money from the system, how would that be unusual?

J Thomas wrote:It's a dilemma. On the one hand, capitalism has no theory for dealing with a post-scarcity society. On the other hand, communism has no mechanism to create a post-scarcity society.


....
The problem to be solved, then, is how to make a free-market socialism work; to avoid capitalism without instituting a command economy. It's the only way that we can keep going forward, together; instead of us all staying behind together, or a select few running off to leave the rest behind.


In theory, capitalism is an evolutionary system. By rewarding success and punishing failure, the system breeds further success.

And in theory, giant corporations do the same. The top executives don't have to understand all the details of their divisions. They can reward the successful divisions and punish the failures. But they do more. They take resources from their cash cows and invest them in divisions that look promising, that might someday become cash cows themselves. They do this based on their understanding of their divisions.

So -- nobody knows ahead of time what will be successful. With an evolutionary system a man could start a small business making a product that's new or better, and if successful then repeat the process on a larger scale, and a larger one, and his success at each stage makes him eligible to try for the next level. The Peter Principle can stop him at any stage. But we set up various methods to allocate extra resources to people we expect will succeed, so they can succeed faster. To the extent that we pick the right people, we improve on evolution this way.

But the result is that one way or another, the hottest developments get most of the resources. Whole regions of a nation or of the world get essentially no development money, because they do not look like the best places to invest. People who live in those places who want to succeed must travel to the best places and somehow make themselves look like they are the best people there.

Currently we have no system in place to make large-scale long-run decisions. That may be just as well -- what track record could we use to judge the people who would run such a system? But if we did have something like that, I think that going forward together should not be the primary goal. Our first task must be conservative, we must work to avoid the extinction of humanity.

One important step would be to set up a reserve of at least a billion people who would not be exposed to modern chemicals. We have more than 5 million new chemicals that are not found in nature. None of them have been adequately tested, except a few that we know are actively dangerous. We do not know what they are doing to us. We need for a core of humanity to be safe from them. At present we leave that to chance, by having places that are too poor to get much stuff. We musn't depend on chance for this.

We should have at least a second billion who are selectively exposed to modern chemicals. Perhaps divide them into smaller groups who get exposed to different combinations, in higher concentrations than the mass of the population. We might find out about some of the biggest threats in time, that way.

If the public realizes why this is necessary, they might refuse to allow most modern chemicals to be used except under carefully controlled conditions. Then we might not need the billions of people for backup and for testing. It would slow economic growth somewhat, though.

A second important step would be to limit our random mating. Most mammals are divided into relatively small breeding groups, with limited exchange among them. And in some populations -- rats, mice, fruit flies, corn, etc, all the ones that have been studied the most -- we have found genes that take over populations even while they tend to drive them extinct. (For example, imagine a Y chromosome mutation that kills all sperm that have an X chromosome. Males with this mutation will father only male children. Other things equal, the mutation will double each generation until the number of females gets too low for it to keep doubling....) Suddenly we have a global population with random mating. This is unsafe. We need a backup population of at least a billion people who are divided into groups of 10,000 to 100,000 who mostly do not get pregnant by outsiders. It's OK if a few people leave these groups each year, provided the groups stay large enough. We should keep a billion or so people who do random mating too, so we can document what happens to them. As we learn more about genetics we may find ways to reduce the restrictions some, but to be safe we should continue at least ten generations past the time we're pretty sure we have it solved.

A third step is to limit travel and limit transport of biological materials. With our large population and quick travel we set ourselves up for epidemics. We desperately need to at least slow that travel. Also, when we have a global economy we more than lose in diversity what we gain in economy of scale. So we must much reduce travel between separate populations, and much reduce transport across ecotones,

People won't care so much about getting "wealth" distributed to them when they notice how risky that "wealth" is. But they also will not tolerate people who gain great power while leaving *them* the risks.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Fire Brns » Mon May 28, 2012 3:11 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:Corporations are a collective representation of the combined workers and shareholders. They are people. If you took the people out then there would be no corporation. Prove me wrong find a corporation that does not contain a single person? (Shell companies don't count since people still own them)
Corporations represent nothing of the workers. Corporations act on behalf of their shareholders; workers act on behalf of the corporations. So, really, the workers are a collective representation of the shareholders.

Would you call Mothers Against Drunk Driving *a* person? Would you call the ACLU *a* person? Would you call the USA or Ireland or Uruguay *a* person? They are just as made up of people as corporations, but they in no way qualify as people themselves. Entities of a sort, yes, but not people.

Again they are a collection of people, they represent people. Other people only argue otherwise if they want to remove the rights of a corporation and in turn the people who operate it. Some corporations offer stock options to workers and as such the workers are represented by the corporation, further they are paid by the corporation and thus their wellfare is based on the sucess of the corporation just as a stockholder's is. Salary is just a dividend for your time.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby jpers36 » Mon May 28, 2012 5:52 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:We should have at least a second billion who are selectively exposed to modern chemicals. Perhaps divide them into smaller groups who get exposed to different combinations, in higher concentrations than the mass of the population. We might find out about some of the biggest threats in time, that way.


Seriously, dude. Are people a means or an end? If they're an end, what you're talking about in your command economy test tube fantasy is obscene and unconscionable. But if they're a means, your whole post is pointless -- what is the end?

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Mon May 28, 2012 7:20 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:They are people.

Fire Brns wrote:They are a collection of people.

Fire Brns wrote:They represent people.


Which is it?

To defend your claim that corporations ARE people, you make arguments supporting a conclusion that corporations are collections of people and/or that they represent people. Except being a collection of people, being an actual person, and representing people - are ALL very different things.

Corporations DO represent people. But not equally. The workers are not represented as equally as the shareholders or executives.

Corporations ARE collections of people, but only in the most basic and useless of senses, the same way non-profits and nations are collections of people.

Corporations are NOT people.

We can argue the degree to which corporations are collections or representations, but that's a separate argument from whether or not they are people themselves. Arguments supporting the former two conclusions do not support the latter.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby J Thomas » Mon May 28, 2012 7:24 pm UTC

jpers36 wrote:
J Thomas wrote:We should have at least a second billion who are selectively exposed to modern chemicals. Perhaps divide them into smaller groups who get exposed to different combinations, in higher concentrations than the mass of the population. We might find out about some of the biggest threats in time, that way.


Seriously, dude. Are people a means or an end? If they're an end, what you're talking about in your command economy test tube fantasy is obscene and unconscionable. But if they're a means, your whole post is pointless -- what is the end?


You are making a false dichotomy. People are of course means and ends both.

Unless you want this generation to be the end, existing humanity is the only means to create the next generation. We used to have an environment in which our species was far from extinction -- by the best genetic guess, it's been a pretty long time since our last population bottleneck. But our reckless use of untested technology has given us a world in which the risk of extinction is unknown but maybe quite large.

Can you suggest a goal that is so important it would justify driving humanity extinct? I do not see any goal like that. So I say that avoiding extinction should be our most important goal. We can have whatever other goals that are consistent with that.

In that context, it should be obvious that our irresponsible use of applied chemistry has put us at risk. Not so much the cancers -- the population could easily survive something that reduced the average lifespan by ten years or more. But look at the diethylstilbestrol example. Women exposed to it before they were born, themselves had reproductive problems a generation later. That is by no means the worst or the sneakiest adverse effect possible from new stuff.... Clearly we must reduce mass exposure to new chemicals until they have been tested on humans for at least a few generations.

I do not particularly recommend a command economy. Only a economy which follows reasonable technological limitations. We need to slow the spread of invasive species into ecosystems they have not already invaded. When we have lots of physical trade across ecotones, we risk invasive species hitchhiking with it. What short-term economic advantage can possibly be worth that? "Sure, I'm risking the destruction of my grandchildren's environment. But it's worth it. I get to have table grapes from south america in the wintertime!" I say, we can have lots of transport across ecotones after we understand enough about ecosystem development to accurately estimate the risks. Right now the risks look real bad and we don't know how much worse they might be than they look.

I don't want anything unreasonable. Just, we need to provide a safe environment for some core population until we find out just how dangerous the new stuff happens to be.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Fire Brns » Mon May 28, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:So? Yeah, corporations have people in them. They also have money in them: find a corporation that does not contain a single financial element to it. That doesn't mean that corporations are money. Corporations are as much people as people are lungs (find me a human without any lungs!). All you've pointed out is that corporations are a form of divided property, but so are the houses of married couples, and houses sure as fuck aren't people.
I never stated that corporations were not money so you are skewing the discussion. The divided property was bought with the money earned from the labours of man. What is man besides the minutes he lives and value he contributes?

Ghostbear wrote:Or, since I'm feeling sarcastic:Humans are a collective representation of the combined cellular components of the body. They are single celled organisms. If you took the single cells out, then there would be no human. Prove me wrong: find a human that does not contain any single cell organisms.
I do not need to, we are not composed of single celled organism, remove a cell from a human and short of a nutrient vat and electrical stimulus it will die. Humans are composed of cells which by their nature must act as a collective.

Princess Marzipan wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:They are people.

Fire Brns wrote:They are a collection of people.

Fire Brns wrote:They represent people.


Which is it?

To defend your claim that corporations ARE people, you make arguments supporting a conclusion that corporations are collections of people and/or that they represent people. Except being a collection of people, being an actual person, and representing people - are ALL very different things.

Corporations DO represent people. But not equally. The workers are not represented as equally as the shareholders or executives.

Corporations ARE collections of people, but only in the most basic and useless of senses, the same way non-profits and nations are collections of people.

Corporations are NOT people.

We can argue the degree to which corporations are collections or representations, but that's a separate argument from whether or not they are people themselves. Arguments supporting the former two conclusions do not support the latter.

They are people, a collection of people is still people. And a person is represented by their contributions into and payment from a corporation in the same way I am represented by the light that reflects off of my body. NPOs and Nations are also people. No person in the country is represented perfectly equal so the arguementmade earlier that a shareholder get's more representation than an employee relies on a spherical cow arguement.

I failed to adress an earlier question so I apologize on that account.
people is a plural word; If you had said a corporation is not a person I can wholeheartedly agree.

I love your avatar btw.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Mon May 28, 2012 9:18 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:people is a plural word; If you had said a corporation is not a person I can wholeheartedly agree.
...and "corporations" is also a plural word, so "corporations are not people" is the plural form of "a corporation is not a person." Again, you took my statement and tried refuting it by touting all the ways corporations are *made up of* people, which is not the same thing as BEING people.
But at least we do agree somewhere.

Fire Brns wrote:What is man besides the minutes he lives and value he contributes?
Obligatory:
Spoiler:
A MISERABLE LITTLE PILE OF SECRETS

Serious:
Well, to a capitalist, or anyone else to whom people are reduceable to terms present only on the left side of an equation, nothing.
To me, a man person is a ... well, a person. They're valuable in and of themselves, because they're a human being. They have value to their friends and family members whose lives are enriched by their presence. My problem with corporations is that they rely on people to function, but as profit-seeking entities, they fall quite short of caring about the people that make them up. We have to create laws to make them behave properly and treat their component people like PEOPLE, and they still do everything they can to skirt around that.


Fire Brns wrote:I love your avatar btw.
Thanks. Credit to Google Image Search.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ghostbear » Mon May 28, 2012 10:20 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:I never stated that corporations were not money so you are skewing the discussion.

So you would say that corporations are money then? It doesn't matter if you said it before: I used it as an example of my own accord.

Fire Brns wrote:What is man besides the minutes he lives and value he contributes?

That's simple: a human being.

Fire Brns wrote:I do not need to, we are not composed of single celled organism, remove a cell from a human and short of a nutrient vat and electrical stimulus it will die. Humans are composed of cells which by their nature must act as a collective.

I don't see how that refutes anything?

But fine, I'll move to example B so we can skip a bunch of pedantic bullshit:
Computer processors are made up collectively of transistors. You can take any of those transistors out and (so long as you do so properly) they will still function. The processor itself derives its functions and outputs from the collective properties and inputs of those transistors. Is a processor a transistor? No. It doesn't follow any of the electrical properties of a transistor itself. If you treat a processor as if it were transistors, you would be very, very disappointed at your (soon useless due to your mishandling) lump of highly processed sand that doesn't do anything (except that one time it let the magic smoke out).

If thing [X] is a collection of multiple things [Y], that does not make thing [X] a thing [Y]. All of your arguments are based around that concept, which you have yet to prove or argue (as Princess Marzipan pointed out as well). Corporations are just legal constructs meant to separate liability from shareholders and operators, while allowing divided ownership. That's all they are: legal constructs.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon May 28, 2012 10:51 pm UTC

If I may:

I believe Fire Brns is trying to say, in essence, that corporations are entirely reducible to people; that there is nothing more to a corporation than some people. So you might say "a corporation is people (arranged in a certain fashion)", the same way you might say "a diamond is carbon atoms (arranged in a certain fashion)". The only way I can see to pluralize that is to say that "diamonds are carbon atoms", which is unfortunately ambiguous with the pluralization of "a diamond is a carbon atom", unless auxiliary verbiage disambiguates that, such as "diamonds are nothing more than carbon atoms" -- which is not to say that each diamond is a carbon atom, but that if you have some diamonds, you have nothing but some carbon atoms, grouped into arrangements of a certain fashion.

His point being, I think, that if you do something to a corporation you are doing something to people (the people it's made of), and likewise when you do something to corporations in general, you are doing things to people; so our rules for what's acceptable treatment of people apply also to what's acceptable treatment of corporations, as a corporation cannot be interacted with without some people being thus interacted with.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ghostbear » Mon May 28, 2012 11:18 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:His point being, I think, that if you do something to a corporation you are doing something to people (the people it's made of), and likewise when you do something to corporations in general, you are doing things to people; so our rules for what's acceptable treatment of people apply also to what's acceptable treatment of corporations, as a corporation cannot be interacted with without some people being thus interacted with.

This is going to be true of all properties. You can't interact with a chair without doing something to the person that owns that chair. Are we going to start saying that chairs are people? That whole line of thought is bullshit.

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Mon May 28, 2012 11:31 pm UTC

They've already agreed with the point I was actually arguing; English kind of got in the way for a bit. I think everyone who's been arguing is in agreement with both "A corporation is not a person" and "corporations are made up of people."

To go further, though, a corporation is actually a bit MORE than just a collection of people - when the people that make them up die, the corporation doesn't die with them, it just replaces them. Depending on the level of influence and power of the position held when someone dies, or quits, there may changes of varying noticeability. But, ultimately, the corporation exists solely to create profit for its shareholders. Yes, it is made up of people, yes, it is reduceable to a "legal construct", but it has a power in the minds of those of whom it consists and with whom it interacts, a power that transcends its ephemeral nature.
Because of this, a corporation is a sort of entity in its own right, looking out for its own self-interest - profits. Of course they're going to externalize costs by dumping chemical wastes or pumping fumes into the air, or forsake safety procedures in the names of efficiency and greater profit. Of course they're going to demand more of its employees while rewarding them less. Of course they're going to seek to use their economic and political influence to their own advantage. Actual people, humans, do these things as well - but humans can experience empathy and are capable of considering profit to be of lower priority in some cases. Corporations are not. The entity exists solely to amass capital and wealth, and it will use any means at its disposal to achieve its goals.

I'm not entirely sure what my point is or who I'm arguing with anymore, but this has all been running through my head and I am in a typing mood, so there you have it.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue May 29, 2012 12:01 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:His point being, I think, that if you do something to a corporation you are doing something to people (the people it's made of), and likewise when you do something to corporations in general, you are doing things to people; so our rules for what's acceptable treatment of people apply also to what's acceptable treatment of corporations, as a corporation cannot be interacted with without some people being thus interacted with.

This is going to be true of all properties. You can't interact with a chair without doing something to the person that owns that chair. Are we going to start saying that chairs are people? That whole line of thought is bullshit.

That's not quite the sense I was speaking of.

If you say that a corporation cannot say certain things, you are saying that some people (in some circumstances) cannot say certain things. If you sit on a corporation's chair, you are sitting in some people's (jointly owned) chair.

However, if you say that a chair cannot stand on the sidewalk, you are not saying anything about whether the owner(s) of that chair can stand on the sidewalk. And you sit on a corporation's chair, you are not sitting on the corporation, that is, any of the people which constitute it.

A piece of property is not its owner. However, a joint entity is its constituents; in the case of a corporation, its shareholders. It may own property, and it may employ people, but it is not its property or its employees.

Princess Marzipan wrote:The entity exists solely to amass capital and wealth, and it will use any means at its disposal to achieve its goals.


Only because the people who constitute it have decided that that is their purpose. A non-profit corporation or a state is similarly just a composition of people, differing only in that they have joined together for a different purpose. There is nothing magical in any organizational charter which compels the organization thus charted to act a certain way (for instance, a constitution does not physically constrain people to doing as it says); it has only the force of the people who believe in it. Corporations are greedy amoral entities because their shareholders are, in their capacity as constituents of the corporation at least, greedy and amoral.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ghostbear » Tue May 29, 2012 12:41 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:That's not quite the sense I was speaking of.

It follows the same logical path, and you have yet to differentiate them with reason.

Pfhorrest wrote:If you say that a corporation cannot say certain things, you are saying that some people (in some circumstances) cannot say certain things. If you sit on a corporation's chair, you are sitting in some people's (jointly owned) chair.

However, if you say that a chair cannot stand on the sidewalk, you are not saying anything about whether the owner(s) of that chair can stand on the sidewalk. And you sit on a corporation's chair, you are not sitting on the corporation, that is, any of the people which constitute it.

You haven't actually provided any logic or reasoning for this. It's just circular logic: "corporations are people because restricting corporations is restricting people; restricting corporations is restricting people because corporations are people". The individuals that share ownership of a corporation have not lost any of their individual rights when buying those shares -- restricting the actions of joint property doesn't change that.

Pfhorrest wrote:Only because the people who constitute it have decided that that is their purpose. A non-profit corporation or a state is similarly just a composition of people, differing only in that they have joined together for a different purpose. There is nothing magical in any organizational charter which compels the organization thus charted to act a certain way (for instance, a constitution does not physically constrain people to doing as it says); it has only the force of the people who believe in it. Corporations are greedy amoral entities because their shareholders are, in their capacity as constituents of the corporation at least, greedy and amoral.

I think it's obvious what was meant. Saying "Corporations only care about profit" is a lot quicker and to the point than saying "Corporations only care about accomplishing a set of goals, typically defined during the foundation of the corporation but possibly able to be redefined by shareholders following sufficient consensus, that is, in most cases, limited to the act of maximizing the value of shares of ownership in said entity".

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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Princess Marzipan » Tue May 29, 2012 12:50 am UTC

Corporations are greedy amoral entities because we have allowed our legal system to REQUIRE them to be, without really thinking through the implications of such a directive being carried out by a soulless, mindless, and noncorporeal construct.

Yes, ultimately "people" are again responsible for this. Society, in creating corporations, has created a force which compels people to be total selfish assholes while shifting responsibility for their actions onto said force, which cannot be punished except financially - which means any punishment it might receive becomes just another cost to factor in, or risk to mitigate or avoid.
Publicly traded corporations have the requirement to seek profit. Any other goal that might get into the head of a CEO - improving product quality, increasing employee compensation, reducing environmental impact - must be justified by a resulting increase in profits. Private corporations can have their own goals, of course, but they rarely do. What we've done is build an institution based on greed, and enshrined it as a noble pursuit.

Ghostbear: It IS worth noting that corporations as purely profit-seeking entities is a phenomenon that's developed over time. The problem is with the prioritization of profit, not with the idea of corporations as their own entities with rights and responsibilities.

I was looking to confirm and cite the legal requirement for corporations to profit their shareholders, but wasn't sure that's not an oversimplification or misrepresentation. I didn't find clarification, so didn't mention it, but I found this which is saying my thoughts a bit more eloquently and effectively than I may be:
This essay wrote:[...] the continued failure of our societies to be clear-eyed about the role of the for-profit corporation endangers the public interest. Instead of recognizing that for-profit corporations will seek profit for their stockholders using all legal means available, we imbue these corporations with a personality and assume they are moral beings capable of being “better” in the long-run than the lowest common denominator. We act as if entities in which only capital has a vote will somehow be able to deny the stockholders their desires, when a choice has to be made between profit for those who control the board’s reelection prospects and positive outcomes for the employees and communities who do not.


Edit: I found the information I was seeking as I read further in the linked piece.
Ultimately, any for-profit corporation that sells shares to others has to be accountable to its stockholders for delivering a financial return. This is not a new notion. An American entrepreneur by the name of Henry Ford tested that proposition and lost some ninety-three years ago in a famous case.[30] In that case, Ford brazenly proclaimed that he was not managing Ford Motor Company to generate the best sustainable return for its stockholders.[31] Rather, he announced that the stockholders should be content with the relatively small dividend they were getting and that Ford Motor Company would focus more on helping its consumers by lowering prices and on bettering the lives of its workers and society at large by raising wages and creating more jobs.[32]

To simplify, the Michigan Supreme Court held that Ford could not justify his actions that way, and that although he could help other constituencies such as workers and consumers, as an instrument to the end of benefiting stockholders, he could not subordinate the stockholders’ best interest.[33] This holding was central, in my view, to the court’s embrace of what we call the business judgment rule.[34] Under that rule, the judiciary does not second-guess the decision of a well-motivated, non-conflicted fiduciary.[35] Fundamental to the rule, however, is that the fiduciary be motivated by a desire to increase the value of the corporation for the benefit of the stockholders.[36] By confessing that he was placing his altruistic interest in helping workers and consumers over his duty to stockholders,[37] Henry Ford made it impossible for the court to afford him business judgment deference.
Last edited by Princess Marzipan on Tue May 29, 2012 1:16 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1060: “Crowdsourcing”

Postby Ghostbear » Tue May 29, 2012 1:07 am UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:Ghostbear: It IS worth noting that corporations as purely profit-seeking entities is a phenomenon that's developed over time. The problem is with the prioritization of profit, not with the idea of corporations as their own entities with rights and responsibilities.

I have a bit of a disagreeing agreement with this.. the idea of corporations having their own rights and responsibilities is fine, yes. However, I don't think that idea is wholly divorced from the problem, which is corporations being given rights equivalent to people. It rears its ugly head most easily on society because they are single minded profit seeking entities, but even if they had other concerns it would still be a problem. A corporation seeking to further their religious goals (such as banning all beliefs other than their own) would be just as bad with those same rights of people instilled in them. It's the single-mindedness combined with the extra, unnecessary rights.

It's like the example of an AI that absent-mindedly converts the entire solar system into pure energy, in order to solve a math problem posed to it. The AI as a purely problem-solving entity isn't a problem until you give it the ability to convert the solar system into energy (or similar wide reaching actions). The corporation being purely profit driven isn't a problem until you give it the ability to influence the political process -- then it's able to prevent other restrictions being placed on it so that treating employees well, creating better products, etc. are always a part of staying profitable. It's only when it has those rights and responsibilities that it is able to exert its full psychopathy.

Beyond that, the whole claim "corporations are people" is just entirely disingenuous.


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