There's a chance this might be a combination of trying to "sell" leftist ideas as well as a particular understanding regarding some mental health issues.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15True in theory, but with the exception of maybe half of self-described anarchists, most of the leftists I've talked with about that stuff are like "but you're not disabled! in a socialist state you wouldn't have your mental health problems! you'd be able to work just fine!" even if I repeatedly explain that that's not how it works, that every therapist ended up basically declaring me a hopeless case as far as education/employment goes... that's what I meant with the thing about armchair psychologists knowing better, because clearly they think they do.Salmoneus wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 00:02I don't undestand your views here. Karl Marx was pretty clear on the necessity of supporting the disabled: "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need". If someone is unable to work, Marxism is very clear that their needs should nonetheless be met, even at cost to others. Generally, the futher left someone is, the more they support this Communist maxim (with the exception of some groups). Support of the disabled through welfare to the point of equality with the able is also a central, defining principle of liberal egalitarianism.
Most(?) leftist, as far as I've seen it, hold ideas than at least some mental health issues, most notably depression, for example, can be linked to Marx's theory of of alienation, and that moving towards a socialist/communist socio-economic system would, in removing this alienation, relieve at least some mental health issues, thus allowing those individuals who had previously becoming too ill to work to seek out physical work again.
Now, does that apply to all mental health issues? Certainly not, and I do think that at least some people on the left kind of just conflate all mental health issues with things like depression or think that those issues can be tied to capitalism.
As Sal points out, however, one of the mostly widely held beliefs amongst those on the left is "from each according to his ability; to each according to his need", i.e. that if you can't work, don't worry, you'll still be provided for, but, yeah, I do think "mental illness is caused by capitalism" can be somewhat overused to try and sell it to people who are concerned that, under communism, they might find it even harder to get by (and, to some extent, it probably plays into this idea of "work is worth" that a fair few people seem to have, so going "oh, no, you'd be more likely to get a job under communism, because the things stopping you from working would be gone" might be a big plus to some people currently out of work under capitalism).
Another thing you might see come up is the social model of disability, i.e. that someone is only considered "disabled" in so far as they live in a society that does not take into account their "impairment" (you can't can't walk up stairs, but you can get a wheelchair up a ramp. Your impairment is the inability to go upstairs, but you're only prevented from getting up to the next floor because stairs are the norm, instead of ramps or lifts. It's the prevalence of stairs that makes you "disabled"). So you might see people saying things like "under communism, where more people have a voice, disabilities will be removed, as we move towards a more inclusive society, thus allowing those with certain impairments to come to work". Again, that is pretty valid, but, yeah, I think it's overreaching to say it would allow everybody to work.
But, yeah, I think largely it comes from a place of genuine belief that communism/socialism/anarchism/whatever will allow more people to work who are currently excluded from doing so, but in pushing that idea I think it might miss something more "central" to leftism in general, i.e. that you don't have to work. I guess it probably comes from trying to "sell" communism to some on the right as well. "We'll take care of you regardless" makes communism look like an ideology for free-loaders and scroungers, but if you can go "no, no, we're trying to get more people to work", then it might seem more appealing? That's an issue with trying to tailor an ideology that attempts to change society so hugely, though, to so many different audiences. You either pick one narrative that appeals very broadly, even if it misses something, or you tailor it to specific groups and individuals and end up looking almost like you're telling different stories.
Ehhh, I think Sal is probably right on this. Even if you did have some humans working with highly automated systems (I mean, some human oversight wouldn't be a bad thing), that doesn't mean it has to be customer-facing. At least for me, the reduced working hours and working more closely with people within your working environment would, you'd hope, allow for more face-to-face time with people in general. Shopping might become more impersonal, but you'd gain more of a social life and a better sense of comradery with your co-workers, so you'd still have human contact.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15Because of the human dimension. I believe it's important to have some human contact, but even if the emotional aspect was removed, there's still the fact that in many social interaction-type situations an AI wouldn't be able to understand a problem if there was one. Sure, they could be programmed to deal with a million variables, or summon a person to deal with it if it can't figure it out, but it'd be easier to just have a human there from the start.
Now, given the discussion of disability, and the recent worry regarding isolation for the eldery and the disabled that came about with the COVID-19 pandemic, I suspect (although, of course, correct me if I'm wrong) that you're coming from a similar place, e.g. that, to some extent, your only sense of fairly consistent social contact is at shops (or, at the very least, that you understand that concern). However, again, due to a decreased amount of time working, and, hopefully, an increased focus on community action and solidarity (not an idea unique to leftists), those who are otherwise fairly isolated might gain more interaction with people in their community.
Anyway, I don't think increased automation would completely remove a human element. I mean, look at automation in car manufacturing. While entire factories can, in effect, run without human interaction, there's still some human oversight in case something goes wrong, people there who understand the system and the machines so that they can be repaired. And, of course, there have to be humans around somewhere to deliberate over exactly what's actually getting produced.
I'm more than happy for someone to correct me here, but if you're in the US, running a company that has a factory in, say, Angola, and you started paying the Angolan workers the same wage as a US worker doing the same job, then once you include transport costs, wouldn't the price of the product increase? Lowering VAT for poor people would only incentivise them to buy more expensive products from abroad if a) VAT on locally produced goods were higher or b) there's some sort of import subsidy?Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15Not necessarily. If there was more globalism and poor people were incentivised to buy more expensive stuff thanks to lower VAT for poor people, then more poor people from around the world would buy things from other countries for cheap and the increased total should make up for the slight increase in price. Maybe that's not how it'd work in practice (probably with capitalism, it wouldn't...) but I imagine in theory there's no reason it couldn't.
If everyone around the world is earning the same wage for, for example, making a t-shirt, then transport cost becomes the major contributing factor in determining price differences. I don't see how lowering VAT would change that.
I can see the point, but I don't think it really makes all that much sense. VAT is, ideally, a tax on luxury, non-essential goods (and often used as a way of dissuading people from buying products that are otherwise considered potentially harmful). So, if the goal is to circulate as much money back into the economy as possible, then lowering VAT across the board should surely be the main solution (or have a progressive VAT rate that is dependent on the value of the product, but then, again, that would push certain items more and more into the hands of wealthier and wealthier people, thus increasing the inequality in buying power between richer and poorer consumers)Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15My logic was, if poor people don't have to pay as much VAT as rich people (and rich people have to pay more than currently), poor people can afford to buy more things while rich people still have their riches and aren't going to just stop buying things even if they have to pay more, so there would be a total increase in money the government gets from taxes, which could be put into welfare (or even UBI) and education and whatnot.
Ah, okay, yeah, I think I've just made a similar point to Sal, i.e. that increasing "consumption taxes" for the rich reduces the amount of goods produced for them to buy, because they're now less well-off enough to buy it, so they'll just keep hold of the money they have and spend it on fewer things.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15Hmm, that's actually a good point. I do think it'd still be possible for it to help if there was significantly more globalisation, but what you said does make me reconsider that. Maybe something like that would only be worthwhile if it was with locally produced things.Salmoneus wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 00:02If you want to reduce inequality, you need to move money from the rich to the poor - and the only way this happens, other than just directly taxing wealth, is by the rich buying things from the poor. Rich people wasting money by buying pointless things at inflated prices helps to move money away from the rich and toward the people who made those pointless things. Increasing taxes on consumption will encourage the rich to consume less - which means that they end up hoarding their wealth instead of spending it. And hoarding leads to increased inequality.
This is why, for example, some on the left don't see reform as "good enough". You can mess around with things like VAT, and more often than not it'll disproportionately have a negative impact on the poorer members of society, sometimes precisely because it has a negative impact on the wealthy, and that's, of course, the entire thing they're trying to do away with.
Surprisingly, yeah, it does seem like it. The incredibly wealthy seem very aware that even extreme rises in, say, rates of income tax, won't necessarily affect them all that much, because they already earn significant amounts. It seems to be the "wealthy, but not crazy rich" people who seem to be against rising taxes, because it can lead to a "bigger decrease" in what they perceive to be their "meaningful income" (if a billionaire ends up living like a 100-millionaire, they might see that differently to a millionaire living like someone earning 100k)
Ohhh this one is huuuuge (also why the VAT thing above, I think, doesn't necessarily work). Cheap labour incentivises companies to take their factories abroad because, even once you offset transport costs, they'll be able to create a product that they can sell at a lower price to the domestic market, but at just a high enough price that they actually increase the company's income.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15Unfortunately, I don't know how pretty much any problems could be fixed in practice. Encouraging buying from countries/companies that don't use slave labour could only be a part of it, which could encourage countries/companies that do use slave labour to stop using it so that they could re-enter the market, but I don't know how that could be achieved at least with China since companies from all over the world rely on their slave labour...
Now, of course, there is the idea of "ethical consumption", e.g. buying locally sourced foods, locally manufactured goods, products that weren't manufactured in sweat-shops, but ethical consumption, surprise surprise, costs money, and also money that poorer consumers can find difficult to save.
Say I need a pair of shoes now. I'm right at the bottom of the full-time wage rate. My untaxed income has gone almost entirely on rent, bills, food, and toiletries/sundries. I need those shoes now. There's a pair of shoes for £20 that I can afford, but they've been made in by poorly paid workers in Benin or somewhere who work in substandard conditions, no breaks, 10 hour days for pennies. There's also a pair of shoes for £40 that I can afford if I wait just a month, and they were made in Germany, by someone paid a decent wage, in a factory that they're safe working in. But I need the shoes now. The ones I have on my feet now are literally falling apart, and I've put off buying them as long as I can. Right, £20 shoes it is. They're substandard quality too, so chances are I'll be back in a year making the same bad decision, but if I'd bought the £40 shoes, I could have worn those for 4 years. So I'm also now spending £80 on shoes over 4 years buying the cheap shoes I can afford now, vs. £40 if I'd just had the chance to save up for the more expensive ones.
Not only have I not been able to make an ethical choice, because of my low income and relatively high outgoings, I'm now personally, financially, worse off in the long-run, meaning I'm now encouraged to continue making choices that I believe are unethical.
The question is, though, why am I on such a low wage? At least some of it might be down to, well, some jobs being shipped abroad to countries with lower wages. I wanted a job making shoes, but they've all moved abroad. I have to take what pay I'm given (hey, at least I'm earning something - and the company producing shoes domestically still needs to compete with the ones that moved their factories abroad, so the hit has to be made somewhere) or retrain or take some job with a low level of entry that I can get on the basis of just having done well in high school. So now I can't make an ethical choice on financial grounds precisely because jobs were moved to countries where companies could pay employees even less, meaning that I get paid even less.
That's at least part of the issue, as far as I understand it. Globalisation can have some amazing benefits. Decentralising crop production, for example, can counter droughts or disease. But globalisation as it stands today, where, effectively, land and resources are bought up by bigger "first world" companies, taking advantage of lower living conditions to pay lower wages, in order to increase their income at home (likely without having to pay taxes)... it just benefits business owners and the people they can hand out money, jobs, and influence to, keeping them at the top of the pile at the expense of almost everyone below them.
Isn't that just gentrification? Richer people come in (or the state comes in), buys up as much local property as they can, throwing money at improving the area, which brings in more wealthy people, meaning the area can be improved even more, decreasing things like crime and homelessness, and increasing education (because the wealthy are less likely to commit certain crimes, because they're not in a disadvantaged position, and, depending on where you live, education funding is tied to things like house prices which is... weird, and wealthier people usually have better access to things like private tutors or the ability to buy books). The higher the house prices become, the more people who've lived there longer will become willing to sell, because it means they can go and buy something better a few miles down the road.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15Where we currently live? I mean, I'm lucky to live in a place that almost magically turned from a crime-ridden hellhole into basically a literal paradise (I really don't know how that actually happened) that has quite a lot of nature still left, so I'm happy to live where I live, but I know many aren't as lucky... so hopefully governments could be convinced to do more stuff for poor people with the intention of making them less poor in the long run, and they do some stuff like that sometimes here, but the downside is that it's always environmentally destructive in the typical way: no green roofs, no vertical farms, no parks, etc. There's no balance to it, or thinking of the future, even if they claim to be thinking of the future.
Probably the best would be to redevelop already existing areas into a more environmentally friendly/restorative condition, with better local services focusing on poor people, but... that kind of things are only done where rich people live, unless it's done at the local level, but there isn't enough money at the local level to do it or to even incentivise doing it properly.
But that doesn't actually change anything, I don't think. Not really. All it does is see the rich, and the lifestyle they bring with them, move into an area that used to be poor, taking advantage of low house prices caused, in part, by relatively higher crime rates, a lack of amenities, lower education rates, etc.
That just moves the lower income families elsewhere, though. It doesn't increase things like their wages, or their standard of living, so the area they move to might still have the same rate of crime, poverty, etc. and they might need to travel further for work now, so their real-term income just went down.
So "where we live" is great, as is wanting to reduce things like crime and homelessness, but just doing up an area and having a bunch of well-off people moving in just moves the problem around. It treats a symptom, not a cause.
I think Sal is right here. That's very "only wanting the right people to move in" thinking. I can agree that wanting people to be more left-leaning or more progressive is probably a good thing, but only letting leftists and progressives in at all is a bit... "us vs. them", "oh, you can be part of the in-group", messy. "Long term maximisation of progressivism" becomes local, rather than widespread. Again, it's treating a symptom, not a cause. You don't convince people to magically change their minds by going "oh, you think rich people should pass on their wealth to their children? Sorry, you can stay over there in I-don't-care-where-you're-from". You'll just end up increasing conservatism in the areas where you left those people behind, instead of recognising that they're just people too who, if you show them first hand, by including them, that your ideas are valid, and that they work, probably might go "huh, okay, yeah, maybe I was wrong". And if they don't change their minds, well, that's their minds. You just keep doing your thing, trying to make society better for everyone.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15I guess if you consider conservatism in the sense of wanting the status quo of progressivism to remain that way, it admittedly is. But with the long-term maximisation of progressivism and minimisation of conservatism that would result from it, I don't think it makes sense to call it a conservative view.
Leftism isn't just for leftists. It's for everyone.
Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15It's not like they'd have to last ten years, just that they wouldn't be expected to break within ten years. Currently at least France has made that kind of a thing into law but it's just two years, which I think is ridiculously short considering an older computer or phone can last literally a decade or more with very few issues and the problem becomes finding replacement parts if something breaks. I'm sure the economic impact could be softened at least a little bit by the technological industry focusing more on replacement parts with different varieties and whatnot and making things more repairable/recycleable, etc.
Planned obsolescence does suck sometimes. It's a very mixed bag of a topic. Some aspects of it are good, in that, for example, it can drive legitimate innovation, and it can return material back into the production line in order to create that replacement. On the other hand, yeah, a lot of planned obsolescence now is aimed at just producing new things to be consumed, especially when you take into account the lack of right to repair, but that seems like an issue with obsolescence within the sphere of capitalism that with obsolescence itself.Vlürch wrote: ↑05 Aug 2021 01:15They don't think that, of course, but planned obsolescence has been proven to be a thing enough times with enough products that at this point there's probably always someone going "we should make our products less durable so that people have to buy new ones more often".