Markets Need Morals

by jhwygirl

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown takes on free-marketeers and the lack of a moral compass inherent in an unregulated economy in a guest column this weekend in London’s The Guardian.

Brown sums up well the source of political anger boiling today. Funny how his words can apply both here in American and there in the United Kingdom. Greed, to be sure, has had its impact worldwide:

The public outcry that followed the two major crises of the past year was driven by moral outrage. The anger was not primarily provoked by breaches of the law; instead it was in response to the violation of an unwritten ethical code that should guide us in our daily lives. The demand now is that both the global financial system and the domestic political system should be brought into closer alignment with the values held by most people across the country.

This kind of stuff should cross party lines, no? Or maybe I’m still too naive.

As we have discovered to our cost, without values to guide them, free markets reduce all relationships to transactions, all motivations to self-interest. So, unbridled and untrammelled, they become the enemy of the good society. The truth is that the virtues that make society flourish – hard work, taking responsibility, being honest, enterprising and fair – come not from market forces but from our hearts. And we should be optimistic, for they are nurtured every day in families and schools, and in businesses and communities.

…Our mission is to support the active citizen, the empowering community and the enabling state: to forge a nation of fairness where empowered citizens bring to civic and public life high moral and ethical standards.

  1. When free markets sacrifice long-term growth and stability for quarterly gains we all lose value- moral and tangible.

  2. Lizard

    you know, there is a more equitable experiment going on, and it’s called ALBA

  3. Capitalist

    The Market Needs Morals? How about Governments? Here is a stat for you, In the first 186 years of our nation’s history where financial records were
    maintained (i.e., the period from 1789-1974), the
    USA spent $3.8 trillion in aggregate. The total of
    projected government outlays during the current
    2010 fiscal year is $3.7 trillion. You guys talk about corporations and healthcare companies fleecing Americans, it is nothing in comparison to what the government is currently doing.

    • problembear

      the “fleecing” you speak of is the back door tunnel that corporations and capitalists have dug for themselves to access our treasury. most of that money goes into the treasure chests of those pirates that you champion, mr cap. and the lobbyists they hire make sure that their access to that money remains unrestrained by congress. thanks now to the recent SCOTUS ruling allowing corporations to spend all they want in electing who they want to represent them in congress, it looks like their haul from that tunnel to steal government money will grow even larger.

      that money that bush/cheney authorized wasting on two un winnable wars was done with the full cooperation of so called fiscal conservative republicans. and most of those dollars went into corporations bottom lines. in fact, rumsfeld helped himself to a lot of the spoils by enriching himself from 6 million to 55 million in five short years.

      • Capitalist

        Let em spend, they are smarter than you. Now we are back on the wars? We always need to come full circle, just as you think the wars might be wasted money I happen to think that our entitlement programs are almost completely a waste.

        • JC

          But you’re down with the $1.8 trillion unfunded, deficit tax breaks for the rich, now aren’t you?

          You republicans and conservatives are a hoot. Think your tax breaks are sacrosanct, yet don’t have a whit of compassion for the plebs that do all the work to make you your riches.

          I think all of the tax breaks for the rich are a complete waste. Why do the rich need to get a little richer? They aren’t hurting.

          The rich’s tax breaks would have been enough money to pay for universal health care for their workers. Used to be the slave owner took care of his slaves. Not so much, the modern oligarchs. Once the unlanded, women and minorities got the vote, let them fend for themselves.

          Well, Mr. Capitalist, your time has come, and as your robot corporations (complete with constitutional protections) rev up their army of lobbyists and money, the people will begin to rise up

          Then let’s see who gets the last laugh…

          • Capitalist

            I’m pretty sure we will, get the last laugh. What is wrong with a little fairness in this society, our tax system is a joke. Would you be in support of a flat tax or consumption based tax?

            The top earners already pay more than their fair share of our taxes.

            What about the $20+Trillion unfunded liabilities of social security and medicare/medicaid?

            So JC, when we get it your way, there will be no incentive to start/grow a corporation, thereby no wealthy people, thereby no source of significant tax revenue, then what?

            You can say all you want about the state of our country now but I would guarantee you our founding fathers would be disgraced with your statements.

            Look, if you do not like our country and what it stands for, leave. I think our country, even with Obama, is in a better situation than it would be with what most of you propose.

          • JC

            It’s not that I don’t like our country and what it stands for.

            I just dislike the country you want to live in, and that you think is “fair.”

            You may be “pretty sure” you’ll get the last laugh.

            I’m positive that a nation running on crony capitalism will fail. If you want to talk about the founding fathers being disgraced, I’m sure that if they were to know about Citizens United, they’d make some corrections in the Constitution.

          • JC, I admit to being impressed that you are treating this wingnut dumbass and his counter-factual talking points with even a modicum of respect.

            Would you be in support of a flat tax or consumption based tax?

            Why are those the only two options, wingnut? It’s funny how the privileged always whine like puppies about “fairness” when their very position is owed to the inequities in the system.

            The top earners already pay more than their fair share of our taxes.

            Same BS, different day. Prove your claim, wingnut, and don’t tell us all about “tax rates”, which have nothing to do with actual taxes paid. And I do notice that you still haven’t defined “fair”.

            What about the $20+Trillion unfunded liabilities of social security and medicare/medicaid?

            Exaggerate much, wingnut? The liabilities you over state are because of an inclusive system that covers everybody, whether they need it or not, and is hardly fair at all in funding. Didn’t you just whine about things being “fair”?

            So JC, when we get it your way, there will be no incentive to start/grow a corporation,

            ONe doesn’t need a corporation to generate revenue or wealth. Aren’t the wingnuts always worshipping the small business man when they are attempting to rob him of something? Straw Man bullshit, but let’s see where this dumbass goes.

            thereby no wealthy people, thereby no source of significant tax revenue,

            That doesn’t follow even from the non-argument that the wingnut attempted to make. If corporate giants are the only paying taxes, how come I read those lines on my W2? Seriously, I hate willful stupidity, and our little wingnut is rife with it.

            You can say all you want about the state of our country now but I would guarantee you our founding fathers would be disgraced with your statements.

            Notice the dumbass guaranteeing something that can never be proven as if he has a point. I guarantee him that the Atlantians used lasers and payed no taxes, and that was really at the heart of Jeffersonian Democracy. Notice also that this fecal smudge of a “capitalist” won’t point out exactly what statements are in error to the founders beliefs, or why that even matters. This is nothing more than a willfully stupid appeal to authority.

            And that’s really the problem with wingnut dumbasses. They think they are right, because they think they are right. Facts are never an issue because they don’t have any. That’s why they should always be pointed to and laughed at. Imagine an America where mothers would teach their children to shame the willfully stupid. What a grand country that would be.

          • Capitalist

            Wulfgar, love the name calling.

            Of course there are other options, I take it you would not support either, why would we want to treat everyone’s income fairly.

            According to 2007 tax data the top 50% of wage earners paid almost 97% of total taxes.

            unfunded liabilites – aren’t you proposing everyone be covered anyway

            Small Business’s are corporations also you idiot.

            Never said coporations are the only ones paying taxes. Corporations as well as individuals pay taxes.

            And that’s really the problem with progressive dumbasses. They think they are right, because they think they are right. Facts are never an issue because they don’t have any.

          • JC

            You sure know how to fudge statistics, Mr. Capitalist.

            Those top 50% (numerically) of taxpayers also had 87.74% of AGI.

            So, to put it a little more accurately, 97.11% of taxes were collected from 87.74% of AGI, and that 87.74% came from half of the taxpayers.

            Big difference from what you were claiming.

            And to put that in perspective, the bottom 50% of taxpayers represent those with income below $32,879. All of whom have difficulty paying the exorbitant cost of health care.

            And another tidbit from your nice set of charts: since 1980, the percent of income shared by the bottom 50% of taxpayers declined steadily from 17.68% to its current 12.26%. This represents that total income of the bottom 50% of tax payers decreased by over 30% since Reagan took office.

            I’d call this a failure of Reaganomics and trickle-down economics. You on the other hand benefitted from this and would probably call it a success.

            I call it the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer.

            That sort of stuff eventually leads to revolutions and lynchings.

          • Wulfgar, love the name calling.

            Whatever gets your attention, wingnut.

            Small Business’s are corporations also you idiot.

            No, many of them aren’t, liar. All companies are not corporations, and vice versa. Don’t expect me to be as willfully stupid as you. You’ll be disappointed. And don’t even dream of chiding someone for name calling, unless you want to be as juvenile as you present and whine “well he did it first”, which would just be another lie.

            According to 2007 tax data the top 50% of wage earners paid almost 97% of total taxes.

            Your own link says different, as JC points out. But then you’re a dumbass, so what different would be expected?

            unfunded liabilites – aren’t you proposing everyone be covered anyway

            Nice spelling, dumbass. And I didn’t propose anything. That’s your Straw Man again.

            Never said coporations are the only ones paying taxes. Corporations as well as individuals pay taxes.

            But you did just say that all small businesses are “coporations”. Your credibility on the point is pretty screwed right now.

            Listen up and listen good, wingnut. There isn’t a lefty here that hasn’t had the same argument with you willfully dumbass types about a hundred times. We consistently win because we consistently have facts on our side. Our only problem is that you un-American assholes will keep repeating the same lies over and over again, to the detriment of all who inhabit this country. If I have to pick traitors out, wingnut, you’re at the top of my list.

          • gag me

            Small businesses – You could be a sole proprietor, S-Corp, C-Corp, LLC, 501c3 corp, and many others. What do YOU think small businesses are?

          • Small businesses – You could be a sole proprietor, S-Corp, C-Corp, LLC, 501c3 corp, and many others. What do YOU think small businesses are?

            Precisely what you write here, which doesn’t agree with the argument from your nom-de-pufta earlier when you wrote:

            Small Business’s are corporations also you idiot.

          • gag me

            Still confused, corp stands for corporations, the “C” in LLC stands for corporation. Help me become smarter.

          • For tax purposes, an “LLC” can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an S-Corp, or a C-Corp, as it chooses.

            Aside from taxes, the “C” means that it is exempt from liability beyond its own assets for its activities. That’s the only real reason for formation of a corporation – the liability shield.

            You asked.

          • gag me

            That is what a corporation is. Small businesses are also corporations. How are you saying small businesses are not corporations?

        • A capitalist system with no checks and no regulation always ends up as piracy.

          To say” let them spend it, they’re smarter than (you) I assume you mean smarter than the people who provide their corporate welfare bailouts?

          How arrogant can you get?

          • Capitalist

            No, I actually mean you. You call me arrogant, I think that might be a compliment coming from the likes of a person like you.

          • Mark t

            So long as we understand that the only reason for a corporation is avoidace of liability, then we agree that “personhood” is a cruel insult to our intelligence.

  4. problembear

    democrats had the chance to bury wingnuts and teapartiers with a decent public option health care bill last summer.

    what mr reid and his mewling kittens passed is not worth supporting. the public knows that. the few reforms that are still intact in the bill are not worth the bribe money we are mandated to surrender to the health insurance leeches.

    if mr reid, obama or max baucus possessed a decent pair of cajoles between them, we would no longer be dealing with ignoramuses like capitalist. the american public would be happily choosing public option and thanking the current administration for a decent affordable health care system instead of being asked to kneel and place our heads in the guillotines of the health insurance maggots and be subject to the further indignity of listening to some rich f#@k gloat about how he can easily afford good health care.

    i am thinking of racking up these hours and splitting the bill for answering these shitheads to mr baucus 1/3, mr reid 1/3, and mr obama 1/3.

    if they had done their job the american public would have been so grateful that blowhards like capme would have been silenced a long time ago and drowned out by a grateful nation.

    just in case you can’t tell, i am angry over this debacle brought on by the cowardice of our leaders.

    and still no word from mr schweitzer on proposing a montana public option? Brian- i met you and i thought you had some guts- let’s hope you have the courage to do something right for your constituents.

    • JC

      How do you figure? Those banks and BofA in particular, are making those profits by fleecing American consumers through things like horrendous fees on credit cards and loans, while paying a pittance in interest on savings.

      Making tax payers whole. Bullshit.

      We lend the banks money to cover their risky adventures in faux market capitalism, they jack rates, fees, and drop interest, and the government makes a little money on their stock, and you want to call it “making the tax payers whole.”

      That’s kind of like you lending me the money to buy some vaseline so you can pay me to force you to bend over and take it big time.

      This is what’s wrong with “big bad corporations” and their shareholders that chuckle all the way to the swiss bank accounts and their tax havens.

      And it points out exactly why we need to have a strong, independent CFPA.

  5. Capitalist

    I guess I did not realize you were forced to have credit cards and loans. God forbid that someone else makes money on lending your broke ass money.

    • JC

      Putting money into savings is loaning the bank money–at about 1% interest. Of course, I could just put it under the mattress, or hide it in your swiss bank.

      So you’re good with BofA borrowing money from taxpayers and then reaming the taxpayers with their products? If you think that banks are unessential (nobody forces you to use their products), then you’d agree that TARP was unnecessary. Do you?

      This is exactly what is wrong with our government publicizing risk and privatizing profit. It’s called crony capitalism, and must be reformed, or it will destroy our country.

      And people like you lap up the benefits of it, and laugh all the way to your tax havens and swiss bank accounts. Some day, you’ll have to pay the piper, though, for your ill-gotten ways.

      • JC, you give Wannabe too much credit. Any “capitalist” who doesn’t understand where the $3 trillion “fleecing” of America will end up is neither a capitalist or very smart. He certainly doesn’t have Swiss bank accounts or tax havens.

        • JC

          Credit? I wouldn’t loan him or the bank he works for a dime.

          As to the bank account, let’s ask him straight up:

          Capitalist, where do you hide save your money?

  6. I agree w/wulfgar this guy is
    Obviously a tool of the arisocratic/corporate elite.
    Gag/cap is more pitiful than evil.

    The far right movement uses guys like him to fight their battles for them.

    The guys we want to direct anger at are unreachable behind Hagadorn’s ivy fence trying to break a hundred and sipping glenfiddich on the rocks at tax deductible “business meetings”

  7. Capitalist

    It’s glenmorangie for me if I’m drinking scotch, but frankly I more of a budwesier guy.

  8. problembear

    btw- there is nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting to be wealthy. i know many wealthy people who are very nice people – giving to a fault and very aware and involved in bettering people’s lives who are not as fortunate.

    what most people find distasteful is someone who wants to become wealthy by standing on the necks of others and laughing at the plight of the poor. someone so depraved as to find enjoyment in the suffering of others deserves our condemnation and damnation in the after life. i have no idea if mr capitalist is really as evil as he appears at this site. many people (myself included) have been guilty on blogs of going a bit overboard with our statements just for the entertainment value.

    i will think the best of gag/cap and figure he is creating a blog-only cartoon of himself rather than revealing his real beliefs about people who are struggling to survive in trying times.

    • problembear, you have a very human and understanding nature. I applaud that.

      I, however, have lost all patience will those who willfully heap scorn on the basic gift that whatever powers that be have given them. I feel little but loathing for the willfully stupid. If Wannabe is portraying a cartoon of his beliefs, than that cartoon is poor entertainment; it is willfully stupid and hurtful thereby.

      CapMe is a herd animal, prey. I treat it accordingly.

      • problembear

        wulfgar i was just trying to flush capme out so i could play with him some more…..

        now you went and scared him away again.

  9. Lizard

    i’m so glad the point of the post has been thoroughly lost thanks to trolling and the willingness of folks like Wulfgar! to do righteous battle with them.

    no matter how much anyone may want to believe it, morality doesn’t apply to either party; money and power rule. and obama is either a complicit enabler of the immorality of american imperialism, or he’s a helpless tool.

    these trolls allow the “progressives” here to comfortably sit back and attack the right, instead of facing uncomfortable realities about their own party’s complicity. too bad. it’s slipping away, and hardly anyone seems to have the moral integrity to stand up and say, if it was wrong when bush did it, it’s still wrong when obama does it.

  10. capitalist

    pb, appreciate your post. I hide my money at a local montana bank and have brokerage accounts at various places, pay taxes on all of it.

    At the end of the day I believe in less and smaller government.

    I did not agree with the TARP plan, more banks should have been allowed to fail but history will judge that. Given the state of the financial world at that particular time, it might have been our only choice.

    There is no doubt that there were several corporations that were bad but the vast majority of companies in this country are ethical and moral.

    It is unfortunate that people struggle, no one, from either party wants that. I help where ever and when ever I am able.

    I am pro-life and agree that gay marriages should be allowed. Anything else you want to know?

    • JC

      Again, companies are morally neutral entities. It is the people that run them and own them that are unethical and immoral.

      This continual push to anthropomorphize companies and corporations markets is just so wrong. It is one root of the problem.

      Once we allow people like Mr. Capitalist to imbue them with human characteristics, then the obvious course is to ask that we treat them with compassion and give them things they don’t deserve like rights. And then hope that they treat us properly. That’s insane.

      Corporations can’t be punished or sent to jail. But people can. Corporations don’t have a soul or a conscience by which to judge its actions. Corporations don’t learn from their mistakes. Corporations don’t feel the suffering of people. Corporations lack any human means by which to judge the consequences of its actions.

      Corporations are not human beings. Never have been, never will. Corporations were created explicitly to divorce from human beings those things that are most undesirable when operating in the market: liability, accountability, responsibility.

      So to get back to the article above, Brown calls for the morality of the individual to rule in the market place. Not for corporations or markets to become moral and ethical.

      The title of the article, which jhwygirl took for the title of this topic, is “Markets need Morals,” which makes the same mistake of trying to push morality onto an economic concept–the market, which is a construct, not a real entity, and unable of exhibiting moral behavior–good or bad.

      A better title and way to look at it is simple: “Markets need moral and ethical guidance and governance.”

      Which brings us back to why we have laws and regulations, because in the absence of good ones that encourage good moral and ethical behavior of those that run our markets, we end up with what we currently have–regulations and laws the discourage moral and ethical behavior.

      Which has created a system that is dominated by crony capitalism, which allows politicians and those that control our corporations and markets to operate immorally, unethically and criminally.

      Quit treating the notion of “the (free) market” and corporations like they are individuals with rights and feelings and the ability to be moral, ethical beings, and we are half way to solving the pressing problems of our times.

      • Capitalist

        JC, you make some valid points. What happens when we substitute the word government everywhere you mention corporation?

        I have to say, I might disagree with you on several things but I like your style.

        • JC

          Government is “of the people” and is an explicit outcome of our founding fathers and Declaration and Constitution. Corporations are not.

          But I would extend my thoughts about corporations to governments, as well. Government needs to be guided by moral and ethical individuals who create a system of laws and regulations to keep government in check. So that government reflects the basic moral and ethical values of its citizens.

          Which has been done to a degree with the Constitution and major federal laws like civil rights, women’s rights, Clean Air, etc.

          To take it a bit further, the purpose of government is not the purpose of corporations. Corporations serve their shareholders and their owners. Government should serve the people.

          When government begins to serve the corporations above and beyond the people, and corporations exist primarily to serve the government (Halliburton, Xe/Blackwater)–to transfer what were once public functions to private ones, and to deplete the public coffers for private ends–we end up with crony capitalism.

          WHich is why we have the mess we have. And it has to change, or it will destroy our nation.

  11. Oh damn! He did it again, I bet. Check IP addresses to see if “Capitalist” is Max Bucks/Jerry/Jerry Chung or that guy down in Ennis.

    And I did not suspect a thing until he started talking about his brokerage accounts.

    • petetalbot

      I don’t think so, Mark. First, Capitalist shows a small degree of civility that has never been apparent with Max Bucks.

      Also, IP address is in south Missoula.

      But I have a feeling 4&20 is going to see a lot more right-wing traffic now that Missoulapolis is on hiatus.

    • No. Max Bucks was using an IP redirect service when he would comment at my place. It’s possible he no longer uses it, since he appears to be very careful where he comments any more. Wannabe uses a very easily traceable IP.

      Also, Wannabe seems inordinately concerned with being polite now, after starting out being grossly insulting and condescending. “Max” showed/shows no such inclination for civility at any time.

      Finally, amidst his almost casual racism and social Darwinism, “Max” every once in a while would show that he does have a deep understanding of capitalism and markets. Wannabe has displayed nothing that isn’t just wingnut boilerplate. Gubmint bad, Taxes unfair, liberals want communism, only wingnuts get to call a time out for civility, IOKIYAAR, blah blah blah.

      No, “Max Bucks” isn’t CapMe.

  12. problembear

    at some point, the reasonable left and the reasonable right must come together and join forces in some meaningful way to control corrupt influences both in private enterprise and in their enablers, the politicians who support their fleecing behavior.

    or else this country is doomed.

    if we do not lay down our arms and fight the common enemy which threatens us we will simply allow the corporate astro-turfers, the lobbyist spin doctors and “married to the process” political wonks to keep stirring things up between us, the big players who profit by theft and the crooked government influence peddlers will win. and this country will fall.

    • If you really want to see the depth of my cynicism, here it is.

      at some point, the reasonable left and the reasonable right must come together and join forces

      I don’t believe in a reasonable right, at all. There are those who are conservative who have passion and understanding, (Craig, Gregg, Budge and others) but “the right” leapt the tracks some time ago. The left as we know it hasn’t been much better, if any at all. The reasonable left keeps calling for “bipartisanship” when engaging those who have no sense at all. That alone proves many on the left ‘unreasonable’. Unlike Mark, I don’t think them in cahoots. I just believe that many many folk don’t understand what’s real anymore. That is what dooms us.

      • You’ve just described political entropy.

        Absent some extremely charismatic and honest national leader who can galvanize support for cleaning this mess up, I am afraid you’re probably correct.

      • There’s plenty of room for this outcome without “cahoots” when both parties have the same financiers. What intrigues me is the lengths you go to to deny the possibility that many of them are in league. Why is it so hard to to imagine that servants of wealth would masquerade as men of the people? After all, it is not hard to do. Voters aren’t that bright.

        Has not Baucus caught your eye? Have you noticed how he doesn’t manage to wrangle up a worthy opponent? Have you ever played poker, for Chrissakes? Do you imagine that people have a capacity for deception? If not, you should go into journalism.

        Good grief, it is as if you just stepped out of Peewee’s Playhouse.

        • The propensity of the majority of serfs to kiss the feet of aristocracy for survival is tens of thousands of years old.

          Our little experiment is only a few hundred years old.

          Fear is the dominant emotion and aristocracy plays that card well by keeping us at each others throats while they loot us unmolested.

          • Mark t

            It’s more sophisticathed than that. They herd us into two parties, refine our differences down to talking points on teleprompters (or the palm of the hand), and let us have at it. For so long as we stay in that framework, we are contained and do not threaten them. Did you notice the venom that Nader drew? Not disagreement or airing of differences on a civil platform, but venom, and hatred.

            That only tells me that he was on the right track. Yes it is true for all time that the bought people suck up to the aristocrats. But it is also true that men and women have fought them and paid a price. Never forget that Debs ran hisGiza presidential campaign from a prison cell. We have made progress – Nader was indeed arrested once when he tried to crash a “debate”, but he could not be imprisoned. Things have gotten better!

          • This is interesting – I typed out the above comment on a hand-held device which as a spell-checker that also inserts words that it thinks I am attempting to write. Thus appeared the word “hisGiza”.

            I humor it, as it is wrong more than right, but if some time you are reading a comment from me and in the middle of it appears something like he’s full of shit then I will know that it has become human.

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