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Does socialism violate the incentive principle in economics?

IamBane 6 Sep 19

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nope. plenty of people go to public school, allow roads to be repaired with their tax money even if the roads don't go right by their own homes, use the u.s. postal service (which is written into the constitution) and much more, and STILL manage to be highly motivated in their fields of interest, education and/or employment. socialism isn't something that kills motivation, or even kills free enterprise. it doesn't have to stand alone, and it doesn't, in fact, stand alone. i will add that it's not even a THING, really; it's more of a range. it works very well with democracy, which is certainly more than i can say for capitalism.


i was with until the last sentence...damn, so close! ha

@IamBane you fell off the path? climb back on. there's poison ivy down there.


@genessa i AM itching a bit

@genessa is that what happens when someone disagrees with u: they break-out in a rash???? haaa

@IamBane you'd be the first!



Nope. Not for me. As logn as I am able to meet basic needs.... Workign to benefit society at large is motivation enough to do the job and do it well.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

Adam Smith

@IamBane Benevolence does however benefit society at large.

It was Adam Smith who firs suggested the progressive tax system, where persons who benefit the most form a society should contribute the most (via taxation) to keep that society going. Even Adam Smith recognized the excesses of capitalism and a need to keep those excesses in check.

I personally think that the Democratic Socialist countries of Northern Europe have managed to fidn the balance best balance between capitalism and socialism... so far.

@snytiger6 i'd agree with that


The only place where I have heard that to be reasonably founded is in full-on Communism. Socialism is a much broader spectrum of ideas than that, so some forms might, some probably not.


No. Next. Basically made up BS by the right to justify transfering wealth upwards and pretend that the common good doesn't exist.

some of it, definitely

@IamBane If you're talking pure Soviet style collectivised socialism, for sure. But in the sense that right wingers claim, that modest welfare will create "welfare queens" who will just sit around on the dole is BS. The vast majority of people want more than just the bare essentials, and the amount of welfare it would require to deincentivise them is substantial. Nothing like ever gets put into practise anywhere.

@Druvius tru only asking in the abstract. i know u could come up with specifics or anecdotes that don't fit


The incentive principle describes personal choices, right? Under a different system like socialism people would still respond to incentives, they would just have different options. I see no violation here.

Dietl Level 7 Sep 19, 2018

I DO....Say our commune is tasked with potato farming. I get up every morning around 5am and work like hell all day; you get up at 10 and half-ass work all day. But when the time comes to divvy up the profit, your cut is the same as mine....................THAT AIN'T GUNNA WORK!

What you describe has little to do with socialism as it is widely understood. There is some deliberately spread confuson regarding the term. Socialism is a range of political systems where the means up production are owned by the workers. So there is not necessary someone who tells you that you have to farm potatoes. Or that there is a commune. Or that there is profit. I think what you are describing is your picture of 20th century communism in the USSR. There are people who want you to believe that all those things are the same (Communism, Socialism, USSR, Venezuela) but when people say Socialism they don't necessary mean that thing. So if you want to avoid talking past each other we first have to establish what we mean with the word.
Anyways, here is a counter argument to your example: Imagine you work in a capitalist system under the same conditions (from 5am, like hell all day) but the one who owns the land you are working on gets more profit than you for doing nothing. How do you respond to that? That is quite similar to your example, right? Except it is even more unfair, wouldn't you say so?

@Dietl NO, it's much fairer. the landowner's additional profit represents his/her additional risk. my lessor profit equates to my lessor risk. here comes a drought, i go work for the farm that got rain, landowner goes broke

@Dietl and yes "socialism" IS vague...that's why i added the baseline of "pure"

Okay, you think this is fairer. This is your opinion and we would have to agree to disagree here. You value your labor (and risk of injury) less than the risk of the landowner. There is nothing I can really say to that. I'd like to give you my point of view, just so you understand where I am coming from.
I think that equal labor should be compensated equaly. A harder job should be payed more. An easier job should be payed less. I do agree that the risks of a landowner for instance should be considered, but not to a bigger degree than the actual labor. That is what fairness means to me and I don't think that the system we have now manages that. The worst jobs are also the worst paid jobs. Do you have a different experience?

@Dietl "You value your labor (and risk of injury) less than the risk of the landowner."...My answer: yes, that's a result of me being a laborer and he a landowner. there is a transaction going on here: i have land and i need something done to it; you have skills to do that something; and i pay u for the fair market value of those skills.....THAT'S IT!....Furthermore, my landownership is much harder to find than ur skills--ie, the landowner has more leverage in the transaction because of the laborer's elastic skill set as opposed to the inelastic ownership of land.

@Dietl it's ALL about " of loss" and how much skin u have in the game

@Dietl i appreciate the convo, Dietl, u are a thinker

Thanks, I also think this conversation can be fruitful if it doesn't end in the usual dismissal of the others position.
So what you critizised about Socialism was that it was unfair, but I think we could agree that there is plenty of unfairness is the system we have here. First of all, who owns the land to begin with? Most people who were born rich stay rich and most people who were born poor stay poor. There is some upward or downward mobility but not as much as could be expected if everything was fair. Not everybody has the same opportunities. So who owns the land is not necessary a product of skill but just of who your parents were. This also seems deeply unfair.
Next, you say the landowner would pay for the fair market value of your skills but the landowner just as you wants to maximize his profit, so he will pay you as little as possible. The money he pays you must be less than the value your work really has in order for him to make any profit.
I'm not trying to convince you of the goodness of Socialism but this is exactly what Socialism is about and what it wants to change. It is about those who work on the land should own the land in order for them the get the full value out of their labor. This can be done in a variety of different ways and I think we both agree that the USSR was a bad way. To figure out which system of is good and which is bad is very hard but the intention is to find a system that is more fair than the capitalist system we have now. A good example of socialist principles is the Mondragon Corporation in Spain. The wage ratios between the executive and the factory workers are detemined by a democratic vote. So an executive doesn't earn more than 9 times what a factory worker does and this ratio is not fixed. Corporations like this are called worker cooperatives and I think they can be very helpful to show how a society can be organised but they function within a capitalist system.
Which leads me to social democracy. This system is often called Socialism by some people but actually it is capitalism with social benefits to counter the inherent unfairness of the capitalist system. Most western countries including the US are in fact social democracies but they differ in how much regulation they do. For instance, a minimum wage has nothing to do with Socialism because it doesn't change who owns the land (factories ect.) but it tries to give people the opportunity to earn a fairer share of their labor (the owners still make profit and still don't give the full value). Other things like universal healthcare also just try to help people deal better with capitalism. It's more like a crutch but can work very well.
I hope you see the differnce between Socialism and Social Democracy because they are often used as if they are the same. On the other hand it has been repeated so often that the word creates more confusion than when you just talk about what specific policies you are for. So maybe we should just avoid the label when possible and say exactly if we mean worker ownership or just social policies within capitalism.

@Dietl in sequential order: the US, the posterchild for capitalism ☕, we have more social mobility than any other not know that, is to not know anything
2..., bosses try to squeeze as much capital out of a worker as they can...this provides strong incentives for the worker to master a skill set in order to increase his wage...if ur talking about Marx's bullshit math we can discuss it, im pretty good at that kinda thing and i know exactly what ur talking about in "das kapital"
3...capping executive pay is nuts...these guys are the smartest around, and they're gunna go where they are appreciated and PAID....u start that shit and they'll just move to where they get more--ie the US.
4...if the minimum wage works, why not make it $100.00 an hour
5....Some men/women in this world are super...they have genius like u and i cannot even fathom, and as soon as u start telling them what they can or cannot do with their money and power, they will leave

@Dietl it's ALL about incentives people, all about incentives!!!!


  1. I did a quick google search and found different results. On wikipedia I found that the UK has a higher mobility and on a different site the US wasn't at the top either. You can show me your statistic but I think that is kind of besides the point. Let's say the US was number one, that doesn't mean that it couldn't be better in a different system.
  2. What if the worker is barely making ends meet with a full weeks labor and has no time to learn a new skill? This would leave the worker without a way out of his exploitative situation.
    I don't think it matters if Marx said it or not. What we should be concerned about is if it's true or not.
  3. I think you would be right if all people cared about was getting money, but that is not the case. People seek all kinds of things. A good social status is more than just having a lot of money. Also people seek meaning in their lives. From a cost benefit analysis being a doctor is not a very good deal, but you still see people doing it. So you have to take into account all of what human being want and need to get a complete picture.
  4. Well nobody argues for a $100 minimum wage. A minimum wage should provide you with a decent living. I think $15/hour provide that in the US. But we don't have to keep this point theoretical. In some states in the US there is a minimum wage. Is it not working? If so, why? Please provide data for your points if needed.
  5. I don't deny that there are many people out there that think like that but I'm not sure if they are the exception or the rule.That again is a scientific question that would need to be studied.


  1. the US has brought more people out of poverty than any other nation in human history
  2. that worker should have been paying attention during his state sponsored education, rather than fucking off
  3. I don't know what to say to "Dr's don't make good money"...Moreover, there's a serious shortage of non-specialized ( earning specialties) doctors right now. they are all going for the big bucks.
  4. my logic still stands
  5. i knew ud see it my way sooner or later


  1. Maybe that's true maybe not. It has nothing to do with what we are talking about.
  2. If that is your response to an unfair relationship between a worker and an employer how do you still justify your critique of socialism? I thought socialism was bad because it was unfair. Now you're okay with unfairness?
  3. I think you misunderstood my point. It wasn't doctors don't make good money but doctors have a hard job compared to the money they make. There are much easier ways to make money. My point was why are there doctors at all.
  4. I fail to see logic in your responses. Instead of providing evidence to back up your claim that minimum wage doesn't work you just give a infantile rebuttal.
  5. So much for a fruitful discussion. You didn't really make any arguments to counter my points or provide any statistics. I feel like playing chess with a pigeon if you know what I mean.


  3. ?
  4. it's called a reductio ad absurdum...ur logic taken to it's inevitable end
  5. yeah, i agree: i feel like i'm playing chess with a bird, i DO know what u mean.

@Dietl if u think i didn't just light ur ass up over the last 12 hours, u may actually be a bird

@Dietl u see how short, concise and "to the point" my arguments have been. as opposed to ur fluffy nonsense

I encounter this kind of thing very often where at the end of an argument everybody thinks the other side is stupid. Of course, at least one of them is usually wrong. It sometimes makes me question myself. What if I am wrong? Maybe the other side does have a point. But then I just read your comments again and am reassured. You argued with no reason and understanding but with an unwarranted amount of confidence. Just look at your last points, laughably bad and plain wrong. You also showed that explaining each of your mistakes in detail would be a waste of time because you are not listening.
The comments are there for everybody to see, not that many people will care, but let others be the judge of whose ass got lit up and of who is the bird.
In other words, let's agree to disagree.

@Dietl i have no doubt u run into this a some more of my comments and "reassure yourself! haaaaaaaaa

@Dietl i will NEVER agree with u on just too "infantile" and like a "pigeon"

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