The Instigator
HandsOff
Con (against)
Winning
40 Points
The Contender
mindjob
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points

"Profit is inherently dishonest." -- Mindjob

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/25/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,247 times Debate No: 2907
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (24)
Votes (17)

 

HandsOff

Con

The topic of debate is absurd statement made by my liberal friend, Mindjob. I'd like to see him defend it.
mindjob

Pro

I'll apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get to arguments, or if I am unable to continue this debate into the later rounds. I'm currently very busy, so I might have to prioritize other things in front of this.

The profit motive is often times inherently dishonest. By only caring about your bottom line and how much profit you make over it, all other considerations, such as honesty and not harming the public good, fall by the wayside. Enron, Tyco, Worldcom and the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s are all perfect examples of this. Over utilization of oil and under utilization of other resources, use of CFCs that lead to the hole in the ozone, and depletion of rain forests for their land and the exotic wood they yield, are also examples of how the profit motive unchecked works against the public good. Therefore, the profit motive must be regulated to ensure that the general public is benefited, not hurt, by it.

Adam Smith himself, the purported father of laissez-faire, believed that corporations could not be trusted. The market can be left to figure things out for itself, but there are few, if any, assurances that they will figures things to the benefit of society as a whole. This is the heart of the classic "tragedy of the commons", and demonstrates the need for government regulation.

The contention that profit is inherently dishonest isn't all that absurd when you bring up numerous examples to back it up. Not only is it not absurd, it also makes the most logical sense considering what is valued in the profit motive. if all you care about is your wallet, who gives a damn about anyone or anything else if it is going to cost you?

Ok. I think that's a good start. Your turn.
Debate Round No. 1
HandsOff

Con

In instances where profit is made dishonestly, it is wrong and should punishable by law, simply because someone's rights have been violated. But that is why we have the civil and criminal justice systems, which I believe to be the one the only good products of government.

"Inherently" is a pretty strong word. It denotes inseparability and implies that profit cannot be gotten in the absence of dishonesty. Just because profit is occasionally gotten by use of nefarious methods in no way validates my opponents premise that profit is inseparable from dishonesty. Do I really have to give examples of honest businesses making an honest profit?

My opponent will likely continue citing the opinions of others and pointing to anecdotal examples that in no way prove profit is inherently dishonest. I'm pretty certain I can rest my case for now.
mindjob

Pro

It's nice that you admit that government can do something useful and well, even though you have repeatedly said things to the contrary. What's funny is that those courts that you value would have to be paid for by "government holding a gun to peoples' heads" by instituting taxes. Clearly, you must not be against all taxes then. In keeping with your style of thinking, why can't businesses fund courts to regulate themselves? I'd answer it for you, but I'd like to see how you answer it.

Inherently is a strong word, but it accurately denotes the mindset behind it. It's like the difference between lying and B.S. that can be found in the essay "On B.S.". With lying, the liar knows he is being dishonest and is intentionally trying to evade the truth. The fact that the liar actually knows the truth and is trying to evade it denotes at least some respect for the truth. The B.S.er doesn't give a damn what the truth is and instead says whatever he wants to serve his purposes. Such is the essence of the profit motive. Good and bad only have meaning in terms of more or less profit. Nothing else outside of that matters. The pursuit of profit makes people put all else aside that might get in the way of it. Profit might work out to be honest at times, but it is incidental. Much more often than not, however, screwing another profiteer or the customer to enhance your profit is just part of the game without some entity omnipresent to ensure the rules are followed. There is a reason why "buyer beware" has been part of the capitalist lexicon practically forever.
Debate Round No. 2
HandsOff

Con

"courts that you value would have to be paid for by "government holding a gun to peoples' heads" by instituting taxes"

I've told you repeatedly that I am not an anarchist. I believe government should be stripped down to the most basic services-- namely national defense, courts and law enforcement. That would result in lower taxes and fewer infringements, leaving more money in the pockets of citizens who will be free to spend as they choose on products, services and causes they deem most worthy. Anything society values will flourish. Anything it does not will whither away. Talk about true freedom and pure democracy. Now you understand why some equate capitalism with freedom.

Anyway back to the debate. You can't be serious, spouting that the motives of a few corrupt companies or individuals can be used to condemn the entire private sector.

You say that companies will screw each other and their customers "without some entity omnipresent to ensure the rules are followed." A companies job is to be the best it can be and to win over the dollars of it's prospective customers. By doing so, it will incidentally force INFERIOR competitors out of business. But that is a good thing and a result of mediocrity on the part of that competitor. A company's pursuit of excellence is not an attack on or the "screwing" of his competitor. That's like saying the athlete who trained harder and won the 100 yard dash "screwed" his fellow competitors?

As far as screwing customers, I can't think of one company that can survive for long by biting the hand that feeds it. Despite bad press, even those evil insurance companies pay almost all of their claims. When a company does a disservice to its customers with any regularity, no "omnipresent entity" needs to step in. Consumers vote with their wallets. It's called freedom.
mindjob

Pro

You essentially are an anarchist. That is the logical conclusion of what you want. You say you want some vestiges of a government, but society itself would turn into something reminiscent of a third world country. You say that whatever society values would continue, but what it turns out to be is what those with money value would continue. Just like any group in the country, they will vote and pay for what is the most self-serving while leaving everyone else out. Money and power will pool at the top while everyone else gets screwed, and government would do nothing to right it. Whatever was left of it would only serve those at the top. So for the vast majority of the country, it would be economic anarchy for them. You're living in a fantasyland if you think libertarianism would end up any other way.

But as you say, back to the actual debate.

Oh yes I can claim that, because those companies only decided to not play by the rules established by the government. Profit itself has no rules aside from making more profit any way it can. The Enrons and Worldcoms of the world are the examples of what would happen routinely if there was no government to enforce rules and fair play. Pre or post dating stock options, including lead and other hazardous metals in products, overstating profits to artificially inflate stocks, using hazardous chemicals that damage the atmosphere, hiring arbitration courts that are suppose to decide in cases between injured customers and companies but who are bought and paid for by the companies...the list goes on and on. Without a government that mandates disclosure and punishes companies that don't follow the rules, companies would be able to take advantage of their lopsided amount of knowledge over the customer a lot more than they do now. That IS the basis for the health care crisis in this country now. The athlete who beat out his competitors would be screwing his competitors if he won because he shot up HGH before the race. Without regulation, and with winning all he cares about, what is there to stop him without regulations and enforcement measures put in place by an organization above the athlete? The government serves this purpose.

Really? Do you not know anyone caught up in the mortgage crisis right now? You make enough to have an insurance that might actually give you decent coverage, but most of us don't. After watching my gf's struggles with Aetna, trying to get them to cover what she had bought a $500 a month policy for, I can tell you even the most respected and expensive providers look for ways to screw you over anyway they can. Its disgusting and disgraceful, and to say the industry is any different than that is ignorant or shut away in a bubble that the rest of us should be so lucky to be a part of.

To live in the world that you love so much, consumers would need to have perfect knowledge. Because they never do and could never have perfect knowledge, rational choice theory is flawed at best. Companies, who know that customers don't have perfect knowledge, skirt the rules and break them when they can all in the name of profit. Profit doesn't give a damn who it hurts in the process, because to care about anything else decreases the amount of profit you can make. We need to have a strong government to balance out information asymmetry that naturally exists, and only gets worse as government gets weaker in its ability to enforce the rules.
Debate Round No. 3
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
I hope you've lost interest because I've shed some light on your original position. The mortgage fiasco required two to tango. I don't expect you to agree completely, but I hope I've expanded our common ground.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
No. That's ok. I've lost interest in this topic. I'm sure we'll have debates in the future, and maybe even about this, but I've lost interest for now.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
I think this would make an interesting debate topic. Are you up for it? To be fair, I think it would be difficult for you to defend. I will work with you to put a topic statement together with which we are both satisfied.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
Change them slightly if you need to. I'm relieved we agree on 4 which two did we part on? Each question I posed was derived from what you would probably need to believe to honestly defend the borrowers.

I realize there were some loan REPS who, in order make a commission, may have told borrowers what they needed to state on their applications, but you can't say the borrower were not complicite in their fraudulent statements.

I also realize there were a few cases where borrowers had no idea their rates would readjust to reflect current interest rates. But if you've ever filled out loan docs before, you would know that those terms are gone over in great detail during the signing process. There is also a 3-day right of recission for the borrow to have a lawyer or family member read the docs in detail. The borrower even signs and intials tons of disclaimers stating he is aware of the terms and that the interest rate will change.

The lender itself (not the loan rep) is not involved in any of the negotiations with the borrower. All the lender does is looks at the app an runs the numbers to see if the borrower is worthy based on his own statements. Employment is verified, credit score is varified. But on stated income loans that is all. This was a mistake on the part of lending institutions because they trusted the borrower to be truthful on the app.

You can call the lenders stupid, and call the borrowers liars. But there's no way (in the scenario I just described) you can call the lenders predators and the borrowers victims. Please confirm that with me, so I know you're not delusional. I've enjoyed our debates, but I need to know I'm debating someone who's not on another planet entirely.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
I'm not going to allow you to frame BS questions and jump through the hoops you want me to. At least we agree with 4 though, except that they are being punished for not caring what people put for income, they gave credit anyway. You still haven't given any proof that the crisis was created by borrower fraud. You continue to assume with nothing to back it up. The ease with which lenders can check income levels means I have logic on my side, so what besides your own baseless assertions do you have backing up your claim?
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
You're not going to answer them are you?

Here are my answers.

1.F
2.F
3.F
4.T
5.F
6.F
7.F
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
I didn't agree with the way you wrote your questions, so I answered them as I saw fit. Had you written them in a more fair and objective way, I might have acquiesced to the way you wanted them. As it is, you can decipher a true or false from the answers I gave.

You are the one that has dragged this discussion down to the level it is at. I appreciated the tone of the debate itself, but your comments in this debate and others have taken on a similar tone of condescension that has led to comments in-kind.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
By the way, I'm trying to have a calm discussion about these things. Can you stop with the person attacks? You are completely misunderstanding my intentions.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
Mindjob,
I submitted those questions to you as true or false. I was trying to see if you really believed all of it. They are not my oppinions but opinions I believe would be in line with your thinking. Can I have them again in True or False form? Then we can discuss them.

By the way- by "investors" I meant the people who bought the loans from the mortgage companies and those mortgage companies that kept the loans. These are the ones who handed over their money to the borrowers. I wasn't refering to those who flip properties. I don't feel sorry for them either-- and I do a lot of that myself. Can I get your true or false answers on these?

1. Investors who are holding worthless paper after lending their money on houses worth half what is owed are benefited from this fiasco.

2. Lenders, who looked at fraudulent applications (filled out by dishonest borrowers) to determine lendability, are the ones guilty of deception.

3. Homeowners, who bought homes they really could not afford, are better off staying in those home rather than renting homes they can comfortably afford.

4. The mortgage fiasco is a good lesson for lenders, and they got what they deserved for letting people simply state their income. (I believe this one to be true.)

5. Lending money on terms to which BOTH the lender and borrower consent is much like rape. (You likened my stance as similar to believing rape victims weren't victims.)

6. In a defaulted loan scenario, it it the lender, not the borrowers, who is reneging on his agreement.

7. When a borrower (even of a personal loan) walks away from his obligation to pay, he is the victim. The person who lent him the money is the offender.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
I still don't see how anything you're saying about borrowers is in any way different from someone saying a rape victim was "asking for it". It follows the same logic and is equally disturbing
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Vote Placed by HandsOff 8 years ago
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