# The end of capitalism as we know it?

I'm a business man, I'm in contact with people from all over the United States on a daily basis. Except for a few isolated areas, no one can find help anyplace! I spend a lot of money advertising for workers. I can't find help, and either can anyone else. Where are all of these starving poor unemployed people? I even called temp services. I pay well, yet I cannot find labor.

My business is booming! I turn down customers every day. I can't keep up. I keep raising prices only to find out that everyone else is getting more money for their products and services than I get. Also, raising prices is the only way I can limit my business enough to offer decent service to my customers.

Every week the local sunday newspaper lists new companies formed, and the companies who have gone bankrupt. Many new companies are formed every week, and there is only a few a month that go belly-up.

I can't imagine how these government agencies can put out statistics like you've listed. It's a joke. It just doesn't add up.

How can these poor starving unemployed people be using so much oil? How can they borrow so much money to run up consumer debt?

I guess the moral is: Don't believe what you see with your own eyes, believe what the government tells you.

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russ_watters
Mentor
Ivan Seeking said:
And the standard of living has dropped accordingly. We are losing the middle class. I have read that in 1950 the average middle class household was able to bank about 30% of the family income. This relied on a single source of income for the house. The latch-key-kids of the 70's were a sign of the decrease in living standards. What I see now is that entire factories are being nearly emptied in nearly every sector of manufacturing.

I will be back later with some supporting information. I haven't had time to dig into the numbers.
The information I see as relevant to that is the Census bureau's income stats, which disagree: incomes across all income groups are rising and have been since stats started being recorded in the '60s.

Latch-key kids? I see that as a biproduct of women's lib: women choosing to work whether they have to or not. That and more single-parent families, a different issue altogether.

Saving less? People are buying bigger houses and more expensive cars than they used to. Again, a choice.
What is the average debt per capita now, as compared to one's yearly earning capacity, as compared to the 1950's.
Its near the highest its ever been - which is unsurprising considering interest rates are near the lowest they've ever been.
Workers in said developed nations lose their jobs. So "things have never been better" is rather relative. Things have never been worse for the thousands of blue-collar workers losing their jobs as factories close. Things are great indeed, however, if you're in the minority, the money-shufflers and the management, who gain profits regardless of where the labour is performed.
Unemployment stats (as Mattius suggested) disagree with you.
Between 2000 and 2001...
The economic cycle lasts about 5-10 years. One year numbers are utterly meaningless for setting a trend. And btw, the numbers for this past year show marked improvement. Care to trend that out?

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russ_watters
Mentor
Ivan Seeking said:
I found one quick link that touches on this issue.

...falling household income...
What's your source for this? Its seems at odds with the data:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/inchhdet.html [Broken]
http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/h03.html [Broken]

The income group doing the worst is indeed the lower middle class (2nd fifth) - the average household income of this segment has increased "only" 28% since 1967, inflation adjusted.

This also illustrates what I often say about our skewed view of economic classes in the US. For an economist, classifying by 5ths is useful, but for a lay-person, it clouds the fact that the terms "lower class," "middle class," and "upper class" have largely lost all meaning. A pretty high percentage of people who we call "middle class" today would have been considered "upper class" 40 years ago.

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russ,
Your statistics agree with reality. Are you having trouble hiring people, and finding contractors who are not swamped with work?

Njorl
Cost reduction can not kill capitalism. First, it is the minor source for profit, second to demand expansion. Second, if purchasing power declines in the consumer sector, the incentive to cut costs also declines. Cost cutting almost always involves an initial outlay. If there is no one to buy your product, why spend the bucks to reduce production costs? Entrepreneurs stop doing it before it becomes fatal.

This phenomenon does occur in isolated sectors of the ecomony for temporary periods. It can destroy whole towns, but it can not destroy capitalism.

Njorl

Njorl
The hardest jobs to fill here are the temporary skilled building trades. We have a lot of work going on at the lab, and electricians essentially dictate the terms of their employment.

Scientists and engineers are being offered incentive packages to quit or retire.

Njorl

Man, that's funny. I supply figures from US census material, and the response is "I can't see it right in front of my eyes, so it's wrong". Wow. Even the US government is not a good source of data for the blind patriots. Very funny.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
hughes johnson said:
America is the land of opportunity, things are better than ever before. Quit whining and get a job.

If you would learn to pay attention you will see that I started this converstation by talking about my job. I can see that your observation skills are seriously lacking. Thanks for the demo.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
russ_watters said:
The information I see as relevant to that is the Census bureau's income stats, which disagree: incomes across all income groups are rising and have been since stats started being recorded in the '60s.
After adjusting for inflation? Could you post some information?

Latch-key kids? I see that as a biproduct of women's lib: women choosing to work whether they have to or not. That and more single-parent families, a different issue altogether.
Maybe that's how you saw it. The was we saw it, we needed the money to make the most basic ends meet; I grew up on powdered milk. Perhaps you are too young to remember the double digit inflation.

Saving less? People are buying bigger houses and more expensive cars than they used to. Again, a choice.
To some extent I agree. Credit companies allow us to dig the hole even deeper.

Its near the highest its ever been - which is unsurprising considering interest rates are near the lowest they've ever been. Unemployment stats (as Mattius suggested) disagree with you. The economic cycle lasts about 5-10 years. One year numbers are utterly meaningless for setting a trend. And btw, the numbers for this past year show marked improvement. Care to trend that out?
You are completely ignoring underemployment and those who have completely given up looking for work when you look at the unemployment numbers. Also, personal debt has been increasing in spite of what are usually now two income households. Remember, the middle class used to get by on one income. I call that a long slide.

russ_watters
Mentor
Ivan Seeking said:
After adjusting for inflation? Could you post some information?
The link is in the post that followed.
Perhaps you are too young to remember the double digit inflation.
I am: that was 25+ years ago. I thought we were talking about the economy going downhill (or not) today? In fact, now you seem to be arguing that it was worse 25 years ago...
You are completely ignoring underemployment and those who have completely given up looking for work when you look at the unemployment numbers.
I must admit I don't have stats on that - but then, there aren't any reliable stats on that. And the stats also do include things like people who choose to be unemployed and they shouldn't. Job flux is why economists consider ~5% unemployment to be full employment. Unemployment stats are always based on the same thing, so you most certainly can compare them from one cycle to the next.
Man, that's funny. I supply figures from US census material, and the response is "I can't see it right in front of my eyes, so it's wrong". Wow. Even the US government is not a good source of data for the blind patriots. Very funny.
Yes, Adam, you amuse me very much. You aren't very good at manipulating statistics. They don't lie.

If you'd like to try justifying your stats, feel free. For example, compare the ones you gave with the ones from the following year. Did the "trend" you implied continue or not?

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No manipulation is required. I HAVE supplied the data. I can see you wish to ignore it and make ad hominem attacks again, but that's very clear to everyone.

Between 2000 and 2001, poverty rose to 11.7% of the population, or 32.9 million people, up from 11.3% and 31.6 million.

23.3 million people sought and received emergency hunger relief from our network of charities in 2001.

Soldiers executing POWs.

POWs held for years without charge.

Using 75% of the world's oil production.

Average unemployment rates in the past year have risen: in 2001, the rate was 4.8%, but jumped to 5.7% in 2002.

In the last decade, the average US household consumer debt (non-mortgage) has increased from approximately $8,500 to$14,500. (Federal Reserve Statistical Releases and U.S. Census Bureau)

According to the Federal Reserve, outstanding non-secured consumer debt rose from $355 billion in 1980 to$1.2 trillion in 1996 to $1.65 trillion in 2001 and is expected to exceed$2.2 trillion by 2004.

Quit whining and get a job.
Ivan Seeking,
So sorry! I should have said "quit whining and get another job". I also could have said "quit whining and get two jobs". This is America, so you can have as many jobs as you want. You are also allowed to make as much money as you want. Things have never been better; you can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting a millionaire. So enjoy yourself, the only one stopping you, is you.

Woohoo! Blind fanaticism!

russ_watters said:
The link is in the post that followed

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Anyway, whether or not capitalism brings its own end, which I don't think it will, I think that we need a system to help displaced workers who lose their jobs as result of new technology or large layoffs, and I think that it would be great if in the future would could have a system in which most people do not need to work.

Extra
Jobless claims lowest since 2000

Decline surprises analysts and bodes well for April employment report due Friday. Wages also show an increase, adding to fears of inflation.

By MSN staff and news services

The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless pay dropped last week to the lowest level since 2000, the government said on Thursday, bolstering expectations for a strong April employment report.

for the whole article
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/invest/extra/P83006.asp

Since Bush is blamed for a poor economy then he should also be credited when the economy is good right?....Looks like he's doing a fine job to me.

Njorl
kawikdx225 said:
Extra
Jobless claims lowest since 2000

Decline surprises analysts and bodes well for April employment report due Friday. Wages also show an increase, adding to fears of inflation.

By MSN staff and news services

The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless pay dropped last week to the lowest level since 2000, the government said on Thursday, bolstering expectations for a strong April employment report.

for the whole article
http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/invest/extra/P83006.asp

Since Bush is blamed for a poor economy then he should also be credited when the economy is good right?....Looks like he's doing a fine job to me.
That is a sliver of data for a single month. New jobless claims are probably the single worst stat to push if you are a Bush supporter. They have been ghastly over the rest of his presidency. He is going to be the only president to preside over a net job loss since Herbert Hoover. If you put the argument in terms of unemployment instead of job losses (they are different), it is less clearly bad for Bush. The only way the economy looks good is in GNP trend. While it is arguable that growth cures all ills eventually, those with out jobs don't care about eventualities.

Njorl

Woohoo! Blind fanaticism!

Blind? No, sitting around on your *** and whining instead of going out and making a success out of yourself when there are plenty of jobs - that is blind.

fanaticism? No, making a living, being a success, and supporting one's family is not generally considered to be fanaticism, unless one is a bum.

hughes johnson said:
Blind? No, sitting around on your *** and whining instead of going out and making a success out of yourself when there are plenty of jobs - that is blind.
The trouble is that society defines success in a particularly limited and myopic way. Anything outside that tiny frame is defined as failure, or laziness, or being a bum, or weird. Society also rewards achievements in a rather irrational and haphazard manner: some are richly rewarded, some are totally ignored, and some are even punished.

fanaticism? No, making a living, being a success, and supporting one's family is not generally considered to be fanaticism, unless one is a bum.
Calling someone a bum because s/he does not live up to society's narrow definition of success is fanaticism. Calling someone a bum because their favoured mode of creative expression is not conducive to profit is fanaticism.

Hughes Johnson, you are remarkably good at entirely missing the point.

Watch closely:
1) Bill Gates has lots of money.
2) Bill Gates says "I have lot sof money, therefore nobody in the USA is poor or hungry.
3) Bill Gates is correct.

That is the argument you have been using. Does it make any sense whatsoever? No, it doesn't. Please try thinking, then come back.

Hughes Johnson, you are remarkably good at entirely missing the point.

Watch closely:
1) Bill Gates has lots of money.
2) Bill Gates says "I have lot sof money, therefore nobody in the USA is poor or hungry.
3) Bill Gates is correct.

That is the argument you have been using. Does it make any sense whatsoever? No, it doesn't. Please try thinking, then come back.
1) There are lots of jobs and not many workers here. I could work 3 jobs if I wanted to. So could anyone else.

2) I agree with you; Bill Gates is right.

FIRE!...
AIM!

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cragwolf said:
Calling someone a bum because s/he does not live up to society's narrow definition of success is fanaticism. Calling someone a bum because their favoured mode of creative expression is not conducive to profit is fanaticism.
Sorry you're not doing well, perhaps you should find yourself a different favoured mode of creative expression.

hughes johnson said:
There are lots of jobs and not many workers here. I could work 3 jobs if I wanted to.

FIRE!...
AIM!
That changes the 30 million people living in poverty... how, exactly?