Saturday, November 15, 2008

Distribution of Labor, Capitalism, and Obama

"Barack Obama and Joe Biden will enact a windfall profits tax on excessive oil company profits to give American families an immediate $1,000 emergency energy rebate to help families pay rising bills. This relief would be a down payment on the Obama-Biden long-term plan to provide middle-class families with at least $1,000 per year in permanent tax relief." [emphasis added]

Where did these so-called windfall profits come from? The question really begins with where do profits come from, and why? And there is still another question which leads to an answer to both: What historical event caused the ability to make profits, when before that event capitalism did not and could not exist?

The mechanical clock changed history in the direction of capitalism. Without the clock, or something else metaphysically the same in its historical-industrial importance, there would be no capitalism. Before the mechanical clock there wasn't any capitalism; the clock was the metaphysical impetus to start the industrial revolution. That impetus needed capital to keep it operating and the industrial importance of the clock was that it demonstrated that anything--so it was believed--could now be mechanized, thus saving time in the form of manpower, and effort also in the form of saved manpower.

Savings equal profit, and it must begin with a savings of human effort.

So, before the mechanical clock, there was no capitalism, because the clock provided the mechanical means for the distribution of labor. How?

"Mechanical clocks replaced the old water clocks, which, by the 13th century, had been around for millennia. Water flowed steadily into a vertical tank and the rising water level indicated the time of day. That's simple enough, but, like mechanical clocks, water clocks had become ornate structures with gears and dials. Like mechanical clocks, they tolled the hours and displayed the planets.
"What makes a mechanical clock is a mechanism called an escapement -- the balance wheel on a watch or the pendulum on a grandfather's clock. An escapement ticks in a steady rhythm and lets the gears move forward in a series of little equal jumps." John Lienhard; University of Houston;

"Regular time-keeping and order was an essential feature of monastic life, especially under the Benedictine Rule. Work and prayer were controlled by the clock. This pattern of work was later transferred to secular working practices, and became a feature of early factory organization. It is primarily for this reason that Lewis Mumford traced the origins of the Industrial Revolution back to the tenth century.

"Writing in the 1930s, Mumford identified the clock as the key machine of the industrial age." [emphasis added] time for technology

Secular working practices were such that the machines built on the metaphysical premise of the clock, the premise in the belief that anything man could do with his hands could be done better and faster with a machine, did not become evident as "division of labor" until the machines had been built, which then naturally divided labor--one man would operate one machine, another man another, and so on, dividing the labor of the manufacturing process. This is where the time and labor savings came in to play.

But it took another six centuries after the invention of the clock until Renaissance science made the metaphysics of machines a reality. Until then, machines were still rare; the metaphysical belief that anything done by man could be done mechanically was about to be given its form and shape.
Coin-striking machines powered by horses were some of the first, followed by the loom, and of course the Gutenberg's Press. Gutenberg's press allowed the printing of one of the first encyclopedias, intended not to instruct about the things in the universe, i.e., history and such, but to instruct men in how to perform the professions, which for centuries had always been taught in guilds. We now call them "how-to" books, and they are written on every subject imaginable.
It was actually believed that no occupation could be properly learned except when taught by a master to a journeyman. That encyclopedia greatly expanded the ability of men to master new trades.

The division of labor is "the specialization of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and roles, intended to increase the productivity of labour. Historically the growth of a more and more complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialisation processes." Wikipedia
Without this division, made possible by the metaphysical nature of the desire to create machines to do man's work better and faster, there could be no capitalism. But modern men have been taught that capital is a natural resource, or at the very least is printable by the government.

It is neither. Capital is the value of increased production with the attendant savings in manpower, which lowers prices to affordable levels, so that consumers can afford them, thus driving up production and lowering prices more. (The first calculators, introduced in the late 1960s, cost $1000.) Other industries spring up to support those already operating, such as manufacturing of bags to carry store-bought goods; Ipod covers; cell phone headsets; car polish; as well as new products previously unheard of.
Factories that produce goods at affordable prices, that people want, make profits.
Therefor, there is no such thing as a "windfall profit". The American auto manufacturers that made billions of dollars when they served the market are now in the red by billions of dollars every month because they failed the market--the market did not fail them.

The oil companies that made billions of dollars from the high cost of oil and fuel may find themselves in the same place as Detroit if the Obama administration has its way with the energy market, by pouring $100 billion in the next ten years into subsidizing energy industries that until now could not offer what the public wanted at prices the public could afford because they were failing the market. Perhaps that failure was due, in part, to the oil lobby in Washington. What if Obama's policies cause a failure in the oil industry to the point where they are in the red by billions every month? Then, will anti-capitalists give back what they are intending to tax away?

The bare-bones fact is, the only windfall profits in existence will be those which the Obama administration and the Democrats will create for their own purposes, taken from those who provided the product that Americans needed and wanted; and the inflationary $trillion printed for the mortgage bailout. The proof that Americans needed and wanted their private cars is the statistic that public transportation ridership did not significantly increase when the price of gas was going up and up and up.

That is what capitalism is: we buy what we desire and the providers make a percentage--the same percentage at high prices as at low prices.

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