Sunday, April 15, 2012

How Times Change In Capitalism

One of the nice things about capitalism is that conditions aren't constant--companies that get complacent, or which just are merely surpassed by another, don't prosper. As long as competition exists, the business environment is fluid, and this is usually good for consumers.

When I was a baby, "cheap Japanese junk" was the phrase used to describe anything "Made In Japan". Come the '80s, there was fear that "they'll be making the computer chips and we'll be making the potato chips". Sony was the name in consumer electronics for many years. The Walkman was the iPod of its day, but today is a different day:
“The time for Sony to change is now,” said Mr. Hirai, who formally took up the C.E.O. post on April 1. He posed for the cameras, one finger held high in a No. 1 sign. “I believe Sony can change,” he said.

Outside Sony — and inside it, too — not everyone is quite so sure.

That is because Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life.
When I was young, Sears was such a major retailer that it mailed its catalog, twice a year, to every house in America. As recently as the '90s, Kodak was a major player in the photography field (I even worked for a Kodak subsidiary for 9 weeks in the '90s, but that's a different, long story). How long has it been since the Big 3 American car companies led car sales in this country? The first Target store I ever saw was in the late '80s in Colorado Springs; when was the first time you ever heard of Wal-mart, much less saw one? Desilu Studios made Star Trek, which is one of the most profitable TV/movie franchises in existence. Remember when TWA and Pan Am could get you just about anywhere in the world you needed to go?

Companies get bought and sold and merged, they get created and they go out of business. Everything I mentioned above occurred since the Great Society legislation was signed; has there been any impact on poverty rates in this country?

My point is that government can do some things well, and it should stick to those enumerated powers. Government will never provide anything as well as the market can.

12 comments:

mazenko said...

You had some valid points - right up to this: "Govts will never provide anything as well as the market can."

Seriously. Get real. Stick to the valid points.

Govt provides safety better - both locally, nationally, and internationally. It provides regulation better, as few industries self-regulate. It provides universal education better, as private companies have no incentive to educate a poor child. It provides equal protection under the law better, as the private sector has no incentive to provide for both sides equally. It provides transportation infrastructure better, as the private sector is not out building the road for you to get to the store.

Darren said...

Of course you ignore the preceding sentence: My point is that government can do some things well, and it should stick to those enumerated powers.

Much of what you listed is *not* provided at the national level, but at the local level--but I'll grant that you wouldn't know I was alluding to national government when I left out the word "national".

And allow me to provide a little history lesson: the bus company that made Rosa Parks a household name did *not* want to segregate the buses; it was local *law* that *required* them to do so.

mazenko said...

Of course I didn't ignore the previous sentence. I read it, then realized I must take exception to your next sentence which ignored or refuted your own sentence by saying it "will never provide anything."

The question you have to ask yourself is - why would you do that? Why write the first sentence, and then feel the need to qualify it with an illogical follow-up of ideological nonsense. Without that sentence, I'd simply say, "OK." But with it, the qualification must be stated.

MikeAT said...

Well let's leave it to a great man and President who said it very clearly.

A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.

Darren said...

Who, MikeAT, who might have said that? :-)

allen (in Michigan) said...

Govt provides safety better - both locally, nationally, and internationally. It provides regulation better, as few industries self-regulate.

Providing for national defense is one of the few, proper roles of government. After that things get more then a bit murkier since domestically government's a wonderful instrument for providing that little bit of coercion without which the proper leaders of mankind might have to, very improperly, go hat in hand asking for permission to rule.

And, government's been put in that role here in these United States.

It provides universal education better, as private companies have no incentive to educate a poor child.

Not that is funny. You might want to read a few of the writings of Dr. James Tooley. He comes to rather a different conclusion and his conclusion is based on evidence not feverishly clung-too beliefs.

Oh, and then there's the private school industry here in the U.S. which, despite the requirement that all of it's patrons pay for the service they've declined have to pay for the school to which they send their child as well. Either they know something you don't know or they know something you've chosen to not know.

It provides equal protection under the law better, as the private sector has no incentive to provide for both sides equally.

See my first paragraph. At best that describes a representative form of government with constitutional guarantees of equality before the law. At worst it's just a nasty joke given the rather more common use to which government is put - oppression.

It provides transportation infrastructure better, as the private sector is not out building the road for you to get to the store.

Ever been to Florida? How about the Ohio Turnpike?

Locally, I'd guess private enterprise could do a better job as well if, for no other reason, that road commissions do a poor job for a high price and seem to be an unending source of stories about about corruption.

mazenko said...

Don't see a bit of evidence that refutes my points. I'll check out Tooley. But there is nowhere that the private sector is simply educating the masses for free. And I've been to Ohio and Florida, but I know of no private sector roads. And, of course, I'll take my local police department, state cops, and the FBI over the private security forces that patrol my mall ... or Iraq for that matter. Same goes for firefighters. And the CDC. And the NIH. And the FAA.

Darren said...

1. Govt doesn't educate people for free, either.
2. Isn't there a privately-owned toll road right there in Denver?

mazenko said...

Yes, but government educates the masses regardless of ability to pay. Which the private sector would not - or not universally. For all intents and purposes, the education my child gets is far beyond my ability to pay for it - especially in Cherry Creek schools. As I always say, "The best private school education that public money can buy."

Secondly, E470 is not a privately owned road. It's not a state highway. But it's run by a commission supported by county and city governments. The same is true for the Ohio Turnpike that Allen seems to think was built by a bunch of private sector businessmen and individuals who just went out, built a road, and fund it all on private sector money. Not even close. And another example of how clueless Americans are regarding their country and govt.

Anonymous said...

I am student, on the way to become an educator just like you guys (I assume everyone here is an educator.) With that being said, I know that there are a great number of things I have to learn, some will be in life lessons and other things I will learn from my teachers. This blog is one such tool that I will use to look at from time to time to see what teachers have to say about things…things such as privatizing schools.

I first want to address mazenko and his comment of:
Govt provides safety better - both locally, nationally, and internationally. It provides regulation better, as few industries self-regulate. It provides universal education better, as private companies have no incentive to educate a poor child. It provides equal protection under the law better, as the private sector has no incentive to provide for both sides equally. It provides transportation infrastructure better, as the private sector is not out building the road for you to get to the store.
Being that this is an education forum, how/why did you take offence to what Darren said? This is an education forum so I took Darren’s comment of “Govts will never provide anything as well as the market can.” as over the years the government has been throwing millions of dollars (2% of the national budget every year for over the past 12 years) to education; lets try something different. Why do people, such as you, fear change? This “could” be the way that teachers could teach to the child’s ability.

I would also like to say something else. You said something about education being free. Could you tell me where you live? I am tired of paying property tax! As far as kids/families not being able to pay, the property tax that a house pays could easily go with that student. Now, I know that you will respond about the family renting, leasing etc. that they don’t pay property tax. Each school is allocated “X” amount of money per student, or some ratio close to that, I feel that the STATE government could easily keep track of that.

Your next question I am sure will be that the best school will cost so how will the “poor” students be able to afford to go the best schools? That is a very good question (if you have it). I am sure that there will be more scholarships available than what there are now and more business wanting to invest into people futures. Let it be up to the schools to how and what they want to teach…yes, people will learn different things, what is wrong with that? Last I knew it takes all types of people and all types of skill sets to make this country go from day to day. From the guy that works on your car to the guy that is setting at a computer programming the newest program to keep our boys alive during the next war.

MikeAT said...

@Anon

Like your points but one thing. Renters do (at least in Texas) pay property taxes which fund our local schools, indirectly. The cost of the school taxes is factored into the rent.

Anonymous said...

Ok you got me there! ha ha