Rebranding Capitalism

It’s all in that capitalist concept of “branding.” All the sneering about the inequalities “inherent” in capitalism, famous novelists presaging and praying for the collapse of the “capitalist system,” seems to have had the desired effect. MSNBC reports that business are now using the phrase “free enterprise,” which Americans like better than the apparently sinister-sounding “capitalism”:

Nearly two years after the financial crisis helped push the nation into deep recession, costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes or their retirement savings, even capitalism’s most ardent supporters concede it’s developed a bit of a bad reputation.

Now, everyone from small activist groups to major business lobbying organizations are embracing a term that several surveys show Americans like better: free enterprise....

It’s been used so often by people … who are anti-corporate or anti-business that they’ve, I think successfully, created the idea that capitalism and greed are the same thing, where free enterprise isn’t greedy but capitalism is greedy,” he said.

A survey conducted earlier this month for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 65 percent of small business owners had a very positive impression of free enterprise, while 45 percent viewed capitalism in the same light.

Individuals like free enterprise more as well. A Gallup poll conducted in February found that 86 percent of Americans had a positive image of free enterprise, while 61 percent had a positive image of capitalism.

I wrote about the war against capitalism, errr, free enterprise last month in the National Post.

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  • creech||

    Sort of like liberals rebranding themselves as progressives.

  • Suki||

    Not really. Free market and free enterprise are accurate terms.

  • Cyto||

    They just said progress. They didn't say which direction.

  • Suki||

    Regressive is more accurate.

  • ||

    Bingo. "Regressivist." Keith and Rachel won't like that...
    Atavist is more like it, but nobody will get it...

  • ||

    "Atavist? Is that like Avatar? Yeah, probably. That's probably where we got 'blue state' from, too. Weren't those blue aliens just so cool??? Man, I'd sure wear a ponytail for great sex. Atavist all the way baby, yeah!"

  • Suki||

    I don't remember that from the greatest movie ever, Avatar, but I think you may be joking.

  • ||

    Kind of. My understanding is that "free enterprise" started being used in the late 19th century, when "capitalism" started to have negative connotations.

    "Liberals" and "Progressives" have an even more interesting history. In the 19th century, a "liberal" was someone who believed in limited democratic government, free markets, separation of church and state, etc. In the early 20th century, leftists who weren't quite socialists or communists, but were reformers who leaned that way, called themselves "progressives." After Woodrow Wilson the term acquired a taint, and so sometime in the '20s progressives started calling themselves "liberals." Then in the '60s-'70s, that term acquired a taint, so liberals and socialists who wanted to avoid the bad PR of "socialism" went back to "progressives."

  • Law Student||

    So basically leftists are a bunch of taints.

  • ||

    It certainly says something about the ideology that it requires regular rebranding.

  • Pink Warden||

    You are called upon to submit yourself to the taint for the greater good.

  • ||

    Sort of like liberals rebranding themselves as progressives.

    Or early 20th century socialists pilfering the name used by that era's counterparts of libertarians.

  • Suki||

    I heard somewhere that Capitalism was a negative term made up by Communists (or some sort of Socialists) anyway. Never did run it down for correctness.

    Anybody else know?

  • ||

    Part of the problem is that capitalism (in its most general form) is just something that developed organically during the Renaissance without any ideological motivation. So by the time people started classifying economic systems, all the other ideologically-driven ones got to frame their own narratives and choose their own names, while the system that had arisen naturally got labeled "capitalism" and associated not with some pure ideology but the messy reality with all its warts.

    Think about it -- socialists always try (and usually succeed) at distancing themselves from actual implementations of socialism by claiming that Soviet communism, for instance, didn't conform to socialist ideals. Capitalists will have no such luck distancing themselves from the robber barons of the late 1800s or the crony capitalism of the Bush or Putin regimes, because there's no pure ideology to appeal to.

  • Zeb||

    That is why I don't really think of capitalism as a system or ideology, and try to convince others that this is the case. Capitalism is just what people do when they have the opportunity to trade with each other. And it has existed in spite of every other ideological system that has been tried out. Even North Korea has its little pockets of capitalism.

  • Suki||

    But who coined the term? Is that known?

  • MNG||

    I thought John's meds only waned in the mornings allowing his female personality to manifest?

  • ||

    The meds have been having less and less effect lately.

  • Suki||

    How sweet! You two still on your date in the Gaza Riviera.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Karl Marx

  • Suki||

    That's what I heard too. Well, didn't remember it by his name, just his crowd.

  • dave c||

    There's quite a few people credited for the term

  • Suki||

    Thank you! I normally don't like Wikipedia for important things like this, but they had an OED reference in there.

  • Tony||

    Exactly... Which is why I don't understand libertarian calls for purity, as if the slightest amount of government intervention will make the entire thing unworkable. The market can be a force for good, but we should not be slaves to it. There is no pure form anyway.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I don't think anyone really requires "purity", but you have to at least understand that when politicians pass laws that try to repeal basic laws of economics, bad things tend to happen.

    As noble as might (or might not) be to demand that the price of bread never go higher than $1.00 a loaf, fixing a price below a free market level will result in an artificially inflated demand and underpayment to producers... Which is just another way of saying it will cause shortages.

    There's no way around that, Tony... So I like to argue as frequently and loudly as possible for the idiots people like you elect to stop trying.

    The market by itself is incredibly robust - cause it's just the aggregate decentrallized actions of zillions of people just trying to improve their lives... And it's a good thing it's so robust, because the amount of interventions that hamper markets from working well to provide people with what they want is immense and is a huge drag on everything. Sure, the market still works in spite of interventions, but hardly as well as it otherwise could.

  • Tony||

    Government is a customer in the market--if you don't believe me read the Washington Post's story on the intelligence community, literally thousands of private companies contracted--so if it alters demand that doesn't make it artificial. Maybe we want government to increase demand for things like health care by "artificially" reducing its cost on lower-income people. Because that's a good thing and it's maybe more important than satisfying the OCD demands of market purists who will never, ever flip the light switch enough times to be satisfied.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Well... That was an impressive fail you just laid out as usual, Tony.

    The intelligence community, just like all other aspects of the military certainly is a player in the market... Unfortunately - problems:

    1. They get their revenue from taxpayers & future taxpayers... Which means that every penny they spend comes at the expense of some private consumption or investment/savings. So they are not an additive player but just a redistributive one.

    I.e. they're hiring people to create things or provide services that benefit the military/government by taking the money from someone else who would have used that money for different purposes. That means real resources are being diverted into technology and operations that kill people rather than being applied towards - for example - that medical care you think should be made more accessible.

    If your conception of "wealth" is purely that some type of trade is happening - essentially, if you buy the idea the GDP is a useful metric (which it isn't for exactly this reason) - then the military industrial complex spending trillions of taxed dollars over the years helps our economy grow. But in the real world, the people who were taxed are just as poor, if not poorer, than before and all they got to show for it was being complicit in the wholesale destruction of various unpopular parts of the world.

    I'll entertain the idea that some military could be useful in protecting liberty... That military is most definitely not the one we have, however.

    2. The government is largely a bottomless pit so when it enters the market and buys various goods, producers go for the deep pockets and start using the law to avoid competition, and prices go up and up and up...

    You should understand that demand is virtually unlimited pretty much no matter what. Generally, everybody wants everything all the time... However, ability to pay is limited, so people need to make choices as to which goods/services are most valuable and then allocate their own resources accordingly. This is why (and how) prices help us coordinate production.

    But......

    When the government steps in, they are supplanting consumer demand, which is limited, with demand from an essentially unlimited source.... and to make matters worse, they have a lot of brute power to back up their requests. So yes, it is artificial... And NO, it's not helpful.

    Right now, the government forcibly increasing the demand for health insurance is - and will continue to - cause health insurance premiums to go up as there are shortages of (in this case) money to pay for health care. As that happens, some companies, usually the small poorly connected ones, will go out of business thus bottlenecking competition and making access even more difficult.

    ...You know... for the poor.

    As good as your intentions might be (and I'm skeptical), the reality is that government "demanding" things just means that there's more waste, higher cost and an allocation of resources & production that would not have occurred based on direct consumers' needs & wants - which is to say, it does a worse job... and comes with whopping side effects like booms, busts & economic collapse.

    You're really a walking broken window fallacy, Tony.

  • ||

    so if it alters demand that doesn't make it artificial

    If it "alters demand" specifically so as to "create jobs" in a particular economic area, it is artificial.

    Same with protecting particular industries from foreign competition. Artificial inflation of import prices so as to protect jobs in a particular industry.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    The market can be a force for good, but we should not be slaves to it.

    How sweet. You want a return to Paradise, without scarcity, toil or moil.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    The fact that it works despite government doesn't tell you something about government? Our bodies work despite our parasites, but that does not mean we "need" the parasites, or do we?

  • Tony||

    OM,

    Did you know that 90% of the cells in your body are bacteria?

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    Is this to imply that 90% of the cells in a body are parasites?

  • skr||

    no

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Crhinny Chin Chin,

    Let Tony equivocate. It's how he gets off.

  • Bill||

    They are not really "in" your body. Most are on the surface of your skin, teeth, etc. and many others are in your G.I. tract which is still on the "outside" of the skin lining the G.I. tract.

  • Jordan||

    The market can be a force for good, but we should not be slaves to it.

    How can you be a slave to the market? Do you even know what the market is? Who am I kidding? Of course you don't.

  • ||

    At very least, you need a notion of "purity" as a target, the hitting of which becomes your impetus for action, even if you understand that the "pure" goal itself will never be achieved.

  • Suki||

    Libertarian calls for "purity" are calls for "do it my way". Which are usually quelled with a free market solution.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Tony, the problem is we don't have the "slightest" amount of government going on here... we have shitloads of it. No thanks to your crew.

  • ||

    Exactly. Capitalism is the natural condition without intervention.
    It´s not a policy, politics is about regulating the natural state of affairs.

  • MNG||

    "Part of the problem is that capitalism (in its most general form) is just something that developed organically during the Renaissance without any ideological motivation."

    Excellent point.

  • ||

    "capitalism (in its most general form) is just something that developed organically..."

    Then how about calling it "Organic Trade"?

    Lefties sure do love all things organic.

  • ||

    Good one.

  • ||

    Or maybe "natural trade."

  • ||

    Part of the problem is that capitalism (in its most general form) is just something that developed organically during the Renaissance without any ideological motivation.

    Renaissance?? Then what the hell were China and Japan and the middle east doing for at least 500 years before that? and what was the Rome doing 1000 years before even that?

  • ||

    credit

  • ||

    ...and insurance were not present in those systems, so they were fundamentally different. (The beloved spam filter won't let me post both terms in the same comment)

  • l0b0t||

    Actually both were present in Rome. Both can be traced back to Sumeria and predate the existence of Rome by quite a spell. Check out Niall Ferguson's excellent book The Ascent Of Money for a detailed history of banking, credit, fiat vs. specie currency, et al.
    http://www.niallferguson.com/s.....pageid=194

  • affenkopf||

    and what was the Rome doing 1000 years before even that?

    Slavery.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Suki,

    I heard somewhere that Capitalism was a negative term made up by Communists

    It was coined by Marx to make it a sort of ideology, as a strawman to attack.

  • Robert||

    What Suki heard is true. In the 1980s Clarence Carson had an article about it in The Freeman. While some radical libertarians, Yankee Doodle style, adopted the term "capitalism" and thought "free enterprise" was a cop-out term, Clarence Carson pointed out that, consistent with the usage of similar "-isms", "capitalism" would imply rule by capital, and said Communist countries had the closest thing to that. He convinced me, and I've tried to say "free enterprise" rather than "capitalism" ever since.

  • ||

    even capitalism’s most ardent supporters concede it’s developed a bit of a bad reputation.

    Then these "supporters" are not worthy of the label. How about we find some reasonably intelligent people who can patiently explain to the folks at MSNBC that by no stretch of the imagination can most markets in the United States be called capitalist given the level of government interference.

  • ||

    You're hearing a message that says "people think 'capitalism' is bad". Your impulse to write to condemn the messenger.

  • ||

    I mean, "Your impulse IS to write to condemn the messenger." Dammit!

  • ManikMonkee||

    Market Anarchism sounds like a better term to me

    Capitalism just makes you think of democrats and bank bailouts etc

  • Suki||

    What about Free Range Anarchy?

  • ||

    Wait....Death Camp....Lets call Capitalism Death Camp! Because with a name like Death Camp you know it has to be good!

    http://snltranscripts.jt.org/75/75qjam.phtml

  • BakedPenguin||

    Capitalism just makes you think of democrats and bank bailouts etc
    reply to this

    This would make Obama a capitalist.

    That sounds like a fun thing to tell your progressive friends. Over and over.

  • George W. Bush||

    I'm leaving TARP completely out of my biography.

  • ||

    George we appreciate how badly you sucked...but come on you have been a nobody for nearly 2 years...can't we call the guy who sucks now sucky without you butting in all the time?

  • Blame||

    I am flexible.

  • George W. Bush||

    Be sure to read my up coming White House memoir. It is coming out . . . oh, in October! Right before the elections! Whew wee! If Michael Gearson and David Frum writing my speeches didn't tip you off to my sweet ass being nothing but a plant to make left of Clinton Democrats popular again, I don't know what else to tell ya!

    Note, I ain't no leftist myself being a Christian man and all, but what I did to that whore's pussy in Vegas was wrong, man, just wrong. Jesus may forgive me, but Ted Kennedy's mob buddies have the goods.

  • Old Mexican||

    They already coined the term Anarchocapitalism.

  • ||

    Capitalism is a very general term, which covers a lot of economic systems where markets are not free. (Capitalism existed long before Adam Smith.) So it makes sense to get more specific about which type of capitalism we support, ie, that which has free markets.

    Then again, I'm highly suspicious of the words "free enterprise" coming out of the mouths of business lobbyists, who are more often than not seeking to restrain the free market rather than unleash it.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I don't generally consider Mercantilism as part of Capitalism - but I see your point.

  • ||

    Tulpa, authentic anarcho-free enterprise types would never be a lobbyist swapping spit with solons seeking rent.

  • ||

    Neither would killer pedophile clowns. Your point?

  • ||

    Then again, I'm highly suspicious of the words "free enterprise" coming out of the mouths of business lobbyists, who are more often than not seeking to restrain the free market rather than unleash it.

    I can see now why libertarianism is so popular. You try to make the language describing it more appealing to the general public and the first thing that will happen is you will get kicked in the nuts by the likes of Tulpa.

    But yeah we are going to do fucking great so long as we keep hating the Business lobby.

  • ||

    I'm not hating them, just suspicious of their motives. Big business is a natural ally of big government (and an enemy of the free market) in the long run. This isn't some minor ideological quibble, it's a defense mechanism to keep from getting used and cast aside.

  • ||

    My understanding is that U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a big business lobby but an umbrella group for shit pot of small businesses.

    Anyway i think your suspicion is higher then it needs to be. Personally i think nailing them when they fuck up, praising them when they do good and supporting them when they are worth supporting is a far better strategy.

  • ||

    The local Chamber of Commerce has been taken over by leftists who run businesses. So, not totally clueless economically, but in favor of all sorts of bad shit.

    Dunno if the U.S. CoC has been also coopted.

  • JoshINHB||

    My understanding is that U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a big business lobby but an umbrella group for shit pot of small businesses.

    Your understanding is wrong.

    As the owner of several small businesses I can tell you that the US Chamber represents and pushes the interests of big business to small businesses.

    Most small businessmen are too concerned with operating and growing their businesses to have any interest in influence the government. In Fact the only think they want from government is to be left alone.

    Any defensive lobbying done for small businesses happens through trade associations.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's more difficult to find a third person moniker to slap on someone who practices free enterprise. "Capitalist" just rolls off the tongue, but by the time someone struggles to come up with "free enterpriser" they've already forgotten to spit immediately after.

  • Astrid||

    Yeah, free enterprise pig just doesn't work the way capitalist pig does.

  • Threadjack||

    More news from post-racial America:

    Decisions on which car dealerships to close as part of the auto industry bailout — closures the Obama administration forced on General Motors and Chrysler — were based in part on race and gender, according to a report by Troubled Asset Relief Program Special Inspector General Neal M. Barofsky.”
  • ||

    Looks like the Program was as Troubled as the Assets it was supposed to Relieve.

  • The Gobbler||

    Threadjack? More like Constitution jack.

  • mr simple||

    65 percent of small business owners had a very positive impression of free enterprise, while 45 percent viewed capitalism in the same light.

    I guess you don't have to be smart to start your own business. Otherwise they would know that they could only freely start their own business in a capitalist system.

  • no shit||

    Distinct difference between the two.

    A whore is "free enterprise" - her pimp is the "capitalist".

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: no shit,

    No, you're wrong: her pimp is her negotiator and security manager. Her whoring is the free enterprise, her body is her capital.

  • Syphilis||

    And I'm an externality.

  • JoshINHB||

    Not really,

    Not for the whores that are not free agents.
    They "work" for the pimp, who controls pricing, quantity of tricks and uses violence to prevent "his" girls from quitting.

  • ||

    You know where the term 'free enterprise' is now strangely absent?

    http://www.deca.org/

    I got to check which way my toilet is flushing when I get home.

  • ¢||

    Let's call it Shania Twain Presents All-You-Can-Shop Saturdays—Every Day!™

    That'll get 'em.

  • MNG||

    As Neil Postman once noted capitalism is the greatest progressive force in world history. We have a popular culture, international trade, and technology that has more and more broke down traditional mores, statuses and roles because people could get rich creating the facets of it.

  • MWG||

    Milton Friedman once described 'capitalism' as capital brought under control. In that sense (I'm paraphrasing Friedman) all countries are capitalist, including the Soviet Union. He believed a better term would be 'competitive capitalism'.

  • The Gobbler||

    "'capitalism' as capital brought under control"

    Would that make "socialism" a society under control?

  • ||

    MNG, yes, Lenin's legatees called it "state capitalism."

  • Old Mexican||

    The poster's initials are MWG, not MNG. Don't worry, I was fooled as well, one time.

  • MWG||

    Thank you OM.

  • ||

    The shape of M followed by G with a slanty capital letter in between produces a visceral response. MWG would be wise to consider a new appellation, just like Himler.

  • MWG||

    I hear you, but I lack creativity...

  • ||

    Anyone know what MNG and MWG stand for?

  • ||

    It's like KFC -- it used to stand for something until they started using generic avian parts in place of what the C stood for.

  • MWG||

    Here's the video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....p;index=63

    Friedman makes the point at the beginning of his response.

  • The Gobbler||

    RANGEL CHARGED (yeah, I already posted this on the Cap-n-Trade thread, but this is big)

    A House investigative committee on Thursday charged New York Rep. Charles Rangel with multiple ethics violations, a blow to the former Ways and Means chairman and an election-year headache for Democrats.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38.....itol_hill/

  • Ska||

    According to WSJ there will be a public hearing starting next week. Interesting....

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Capitalism, Free Enterprise, Competitive Capitalism, Free Capitalism... blah blah blah.

    Whatever you call it, they're still going to tax the ever-loving fuck out of it.

  • ||

    I think the big story is the rebranding of socialism.

    "Investment" used to be something people did to get a return on their money. Somehow "investment" turned into taking money from people and squandering it on some government scheme.

    That's the rebranding story!

    Some dare call the nationalization of the American auto industry "socialism"! How dare they?!

    It's an "investment'!

  • ||

    Don't you remember Bill from Chapaqua bloviating about "investment?"

  • ||

    I think the trend started with the phrase "investing in infrastructure" which is only a minor stretch of the term, since much infrastructure is something (a) only government can plausibly produce, and (b) helps more future wealth to be created than it costs in present wealth, which makes it similar to a private investment.

    Of course, this harmless inch led to a mile quick enough.

  • ||

    since much infrastructure is something (a) only government can plausibly produce

    Citation needed. ANY needed infrastructure will be produced by private parties if government gets the hell out of the way.

  • ||

    As a commercial real estate developer, I gotta tell you that we paid for most if not all the infrastructure around town.

    We paid for the storm drains, we paid for the streets, we paid for the schools to be built, we paid for the parks and the overpasses and the underpasses and the flyovers...

    I think it should be remembered too that the government doesn't do very much in the way of productive activity--it's hardly self-financing.

    All the money they spend ultimately originates from productive activity--aka "capitalism". So, it's hard to say private enterprise, or whatever you want to call it, doesn't build everything the government does.

    Even if that infrastructure was all built by 100% government owned entities, it's capitalism that pays for it all.

    Oh, and there are things private enterprise builds infrastructure wise without any cost to the taxpayer whatsoever. This comment will bounce back and forth between a few thousand miles of carbon fiber that was almost completely laid at investor expense. Of course, that's just one example, there are a million more, I'm sure.

  • ||

    You'll get no argument from me that the money the government spends ultimately has to come from private wealth creation. However, there are types of infrastructure that it's dubious private wealth would be directed toward building. Such as the interstate highway system.

    Especially with respect to roads, you also need eminent domain to build them.

  • skr||

    When there is a private development that has a neighborhood with roads, who do you think pays for them, tulpa? Sure there was a huge amount of roadway that probably, for better or worse, wouldn't have been built without government. Alot of new developments require a lot of investment on the part of developer. I have neighbors that live on an unimproved road in LA and they have to pay for the improvement on the road if they wantto add on to the house. New houses have to pay completely to have sewage systems extended along with street improvement.

  • skr||

    MFT

  • ||

    Really? What private interest would have built the interstate highway system?

  • ||

    "Really? What private interest would have built the interstate highway system?"

    I doubt anyone would have. ...and I might even question whether it should have been built as extensively as it was.

    I'm not an anarcho-capitalist myself, and I wouldn't say that government never has any interest or hand in putting up useful infrastructure.

    In the context of this thread, I do think it would be wrong to think of the government as making such "investments" in infrastructure apart from the capitalists who build and fund all that construction.

    But I think that a lot more of that infrastructure people are talking about is actually built by private industry, more than most people realize. That's one of the things I was trying to get across to people in the wake of Katrina--even if New Orleans is likely to get hit again by the same thing, so much of the cost of building anything is in the infrastructure. So much of the value is in the infrastructure.

    If you ever find yourself buying fire insurance, a lot of people find themselves buying too much because they want to cover the price they paid for their home. But if you look at the replacement cost (what it would cost to rebuild your house), you'll find that it costs a hell of a lot less to rebuild than it does to buy something new. ...and that's because so much of the value of your home is the land--that's true, but if you look at the cost difference between "unimproved" land (no water, no utilities, no storm drain, no street), and "improved" land--you'll find that a whole hell of a lot of the value of your home is buried in the ground. And the city didn't pay for any of that stuff.

    The original home buyer reimbursed the developer for all that stuff. And all that value is still in the dirt--even if the house burns down.

    So, anyway, what I'm trying to get across is that a lot of what people think of as infrastructure isn't really built or maintained by the government. And I haven't even talked about all the fiber various telcos have put in the ground along railroads, etc. We haven't talked about Ted Turner or Craig McCaw or the millions of homes that have been rigged with smart meters at utility company expense.

    Highways? Okay. Levees? Alright. ...but even they're all paid for by capitalism. So why are we talking about the very few areas where government is necessary? That really shouldn't be the dominant theme in the narrative. What about all the infrastructure capitalists lay down at no expense to the taxpayer?

    Shouldn't that be the story here?

  • ||

    All I did was throw a phrase out there as an explanation for why it's not totally inappropriate to talk about government "investments".

  • ||

    So there is an exception?!

    I mean, given what's going on with what the Obama Administration is doing right now, why are the rare exceptions to the rule of any importance?

    I mean, am I supposed to think private investment is destroying this country--and it has to be stopped?!

    Obama squandered $350 billion of future economic activity bailing out Wall Street investors and the UAW's pension liabilities--they're about to start taxing a lot of private investment like ordinary income, which can only discourage investment...

    ...and we're supposed to focus on the rare exceptions where government "investment" hasn't always, necessarily been a travesty?

    I don't even understand the point of that.

  • ||

    Ken, for God's sake, read my original post. I said that the habit of referring to some government spending arose in reference to the "exceptions" I described. And then was stretched to cover spending that was not as investment-ish.

  • skr||

    If you ever find yourself buying fire insurance, a lot of people find themselves buying too much because they want to cover the price they paid for their home. But if you look at the replacement cost (what it would cost to rebuild your house), you'll find that it costs a hell of a lot less to rebuild than it does to buy something new. ...and that's because so much of the value of your home is the land--that's true, but if you look at the cost difference between "unimproved" land (no water, no utilities, no storm drain, no street), and "improved" land--you'll find that a whole hell of a lot of the value of your home is buried in the ground. And the city didn't pay for any of that stuff.

    This greatly depends on where you live. I live in L.A. and if you look at assessments you will notice that land value is often a great portion of the value of the property compared to the improved value. However, if you try to rebuild a house , it will most likely cost you more than the assessed or appraised value because of all the seismic and modern code issues with which you will have to deal. Nevermind contemporary labor and material costs.

  • ||

    I'm a developer based in Los Angeles.

    The heavy lifting and value added work goes from taking raw land, putting the infrastructure and selling an approved map--especially if you're talking about home sites. Most builders like KB, et. al. are interested in taking as little risk as possible on getting infrastructure in and plans approved and just buying approved maps. Most developers who do that work don't bother building them themselves, they just hand the land over to a big name home builder after they've put in the infrastructure and gotten the map approved.

    There are all sorts of other fees attached to a house too--the first time it's approved, from school fees, your contribution to the fire department fees, blah, blah, blah... Might as well call all of it infrastructure. On commercial property, my specialty, they're charging you school fees, typically, and you're paying traffic fees, which go to pay for new or exist roads upkeep, other traffic related infrastructure projects...

    All of that's already in your land cost too.

    The point is that the construction of the house above ground may be a fraction of the total cost. Seriously. Figure how much you paid for your house, and then ask your fire insurance rep how much you need to insure it for--bet it's a fraction.

    Fees and requirements vary from city to city, but the infrastructure is always key everywhere. Just like pork bellies are worth more than live hogs. There's significant value added with infrastructure, why wouldn't there be? Over here you got a plot of dirt that can't be used for anything, and over there you got a parcel with all the infrastructure in place and the entitlements to build.

    Most developers profit from the value they add by putting in infrastructure, paying the fees and getting the plans approved. (which SoCal can cost you a few million for a 20 acre parcel and take 18 months to process.)

  • Douchebagger||

    Capitalism is almost as oppressed as white Christian males!

  • ||

    So, what, we're not supposed to complain?

    It's not bad enough that the president forced us to bail out wall street investors with our future earnings, not bad enough that he forced us to bail out the UAW pension plan with our future earnings...

    No, worst of all, we complain about it! ...and we're not supposed to complain because we're white and Christian?

    And that makes sense to somebody?

  • ||

    Just for the record (and my own sanity)...

    Capitalism is the opposite of forcing tax payers to compensate Wall Street investors for their bad investments.

    Capitalism is the opposite of forcing tax payers to carry the UAW's bloated pension liabilities.

    And I don't see why white Christians, and everybody else who pays taxes, shouldn't bitch and moan about the lack of Capitalism in this country. At all.

  • Douchebagger||

    You're right. If only government had been less powerful, that way industry could just own it outright instead of making us go through this charade of helping the dirty little people keep their jobs.

    I mean the only place where there are depression-levels of unemployment is the black community. Obviously they are mostly to blame for our sad plight as Christian white capitalist males under Obama.

  • ||

    "I mean the only place where there are depression-levels of unemployment is the black community. Obviously they are mostly to blame for our sad plight as Christian white capitalist males under Obama."

    I don't see racism around here very often, but I've been calling it out every time I see it around here for years.

    And if you're trying to suggest that there's something inherent within the black community that makes them incapable of flourishing in a capitalist system, then that's bigotry!

    There isn't anything about forcing taxpayers to bail out Wall Street investors that helps the black community. There isn't anything about forcing tax payers to bail out the UAW pension fund that helps the black community.

    And hating on Barack Obama for making working people fund those shenanigans doesn't have anything to do with being white or Christian.

    Meanwhile, if you can't keep your bigotry to yourself, don't be surprised if people who are disgusted by it call you out for it in a public forum.

  • Douchebagger||

    Betcha didn't know that about their unemployment levels. The poor always cause all our problems, ergo, black people cause them now. And for some reason have been causing them forever. I mean, sheesh, they're one of the few groups left that are still racist!

  • ||

    If I was called out as a racist in a public forum, I'd deny it 'cause it isn't true.

    You can't do that, can you?

    You don't think people of certain races should complain when they're mistreated. You seem to think mistreatment of people is okay, so long as they're white and Christian...

    Do you know what that says about you?

    You should find a way to get rid of all that hate. ...just for your own good.

  • Douchebagger||

    But I'm agreeing with you. The oppression felt by white Christian males is exactly morally equivalent to that felt by blacks in the 60s and before. Indeed, they've had it so good ever since, white Christian males might just be the most oppressed people in the history of the world.

  • skr||

    I mean the only place where there are depression-levels of unemployment is the black community.

    That would be the War on Drugs. You won't find any support for that here.

  • -||

    As the conversation degenerates into linguistic relativism...

  • ||

    Actually, that's kinda what the thread is all about, isn't it?

    Linguistics is interesting. We used to have a legitimate Linguist as a regular commenter around here too, I especially miss her in threads like this.

  • ||

    Was she a cunning member of her profession?

  • ||

    Was her name Constance ? She was the youngest of the Lingus sisters.

  • Elena Kagan||

    Many people ask me, "What is capitalism?"

  • Ron L||

    And I'll bet you have to look it up.

  • ||

    Free enterprise and capitalism really are not the same thing.

    Capitalism is about leveraging capital. you can do that in a communist state, a free market and a socialist economy.

    Free enterprise on the other hand with that "free' modifier implies that unlike capitalism can only work in a free market system.

  • ||

    It depends on whether "free" is as in "free speech" or "free radicals".

  • ||

    Or "free" as in Newspeak, where the only permitted meaning is something like "that dog is free of fleas."

  • ||

    Cheer up. 50 years ago nationalization of property and industry were condisered serious options. The communist debacle proved them wrong and however much politicians may rant it is implicitly acknowledged, even by the lefties, that it is the private sector that creates wealth and the govt just plays a balancing game of leeching us as much as they can without bringing the whole system down. We´re evil, we´re nasty but they acknowledge they need us. They may borrow or tax us to ruin, but an intellectual battle has been won.

  • ||

    50 years ago nationalization of property and industry were condisered serious options.

    If you think they're not now, I've got a Chevy Volt to sell you real cheap.

  • Economic crisis of 2008||

    I get no credit around here. I fucking owned that trickle-down bullshit.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    I say we use the term 'freedom' and just stick with that. And fuck MSNBC.

  • Ben||

    I don't think there are enough drugs or alcohol that would make me want to sodomize Chris Matthews, Kieth Obermann, or Rachel Madddow.

  • ||

    Not sure why you equate "fuck" with "sodomize". There are other ways to do it.

    And Rachel Maddow wouldn't be half bad to do if you kept her from ever speaking.

  • ||

    If you're male, sex with another man is going to have to be sodomy.

  • ||

    Rachel Maddow...eewww

  • Enyap||

    Anybody got an ideas why free enterprise and capitalism have a significantly higher approval rating among the general public, then they do with small businesses.

  • Wal-Mart||

    Nope, not a clue.

  • ||

    Cuz they go to local planning meetings and get shit on by elected officials, their staff, and advocacy groups for being capitalists.

  • ||

    Entrenched mom and pop retailers probably don't like capitalism or free enterprise too much. But no losers like the way the game was played, so that's to be expected.

    The terms probably have a better rating among the potential small business owners who are thwarted by licensing requirements and zoning laws.

  • ||

    I have two suggestions:

    Free Exchange

    Bottom-Up System

  • ||

    Or:

    Masterless Economy

  • ||

    Meh, just call it Tulpism and be done with it. No negative associations there.

  • Mike Laursen||

    ...business are now using the phrase “free enterprise,” which Americans like better than the apparently sinister-sounding “capitalism”

    Good for them. Why the hell go around using Marxist terminology.

  • ||

    Strangely enough, most progressives today are effectively neo-merchantilist, given their paranoid fear of foreign trade and obsession with local production of everything.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neomercantilism

  • andy||

    i prefer the term "freed market" or "freed enterprise"... it makes explicit the fact that neither of these entities are currently "free", but in a state of needing to be "freed."

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