Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

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JasonL
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by JasonL » 20 Aug 2018, 16:14

Mildly related - Medium sent me an article I might like about Capitalist Stockholm Syndrome. It was hilarious in a Jacobin sort of way. Only 10% of Americans own any stock! Why do they defend capitalism?

No it's 50%ish, but thanks for that.

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Jennifer
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Jennifer » 20 Aug 2018, 17:33

Painboy wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 16:07
Jennifer wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 15:17
that's identical to one of the arguments pro-slavery people made against abolitionists before the Civil War. Not that I am comparing the likes of BP, GM or Wells Fargo to slaveholders -
But you just did. Comparing something to something and then saying you're not comparing something doesn't change that you just compared those things. Is it possible to try to find an analogy a little less inflammatory that actually has something to do with modern business practices?
Had you not cut my sentence where you did, you'd note that the full sentence was "Not that I am comparing the likes of BP, GM or Wells Fargo to slaveholders -- but I am saying "If your economic system requires letting people or companies get away with such egregious things, perhaps changing the economic system is better than letting these egregious things continue." If you are going to be inflamed by reading only the first clause of a sentence without bothering to get the full context, that is not something I can fix.

That said, if you can think of another historical example of the argument "Our economic system requires allowing such egregious things" which you'd find less triggering than mentions of slavery, do mention it here and I'll try using that example instead.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Ellie » 20 Aug 2018, 17:45

[needlessly snarky comment deleted. sorry.]
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Aresen » 20 Aug 2018, 17:46

Ellie wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 17:45
Jennifer and Elizabeth Warren are both exhausting to argue with. Not that I'm comparing them, mind you. I'm mentioning them in the same sentence for no reason whatsoever.
/word
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Eric the .5b » 20 Aug 2018, 17:51

The very people who know severity of punishment isn't much of a deterrent (as opposed to likelihood of punishment) in street crime forget that this applies to white collar crime. Otherwise, China's program of literally executing officials and executives for serious corruption would improve things. But, it doesn't; China is still corrupt as fuck.

Ignoring the bad comparison, because complaining about it didn't do any good last time:
Jennifer wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 15:17
I am saying "If your economic system requires letting people or companies get away with such egregious things, perhaps changing the economic system is better than letting these egregious things continue."
What is the change that fixes this? What is the economic system that doesn't have these tendencies? They still have capitalist misdeeds over in the European Utopia. Outright socialist countries have historically had corruption, and fucktons of it.
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Jennifer » 20 Aug 2018, 18:10

Eric the .5b wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 17:51
What is the change that fixes this?
Whatever dysfunctional aspects of current law allow for the status quo we have. The problem isn't even "corruption" per se -- any system will have corruptions, because humans (especially the ones who seek power) are inherently corruptible -- the problem is corruption as a feature rather than a bug or imperfection.

For example ...

TRIGGER WARNING: I'm about to make an analogy involving a serious crime which has nothing to do with corporate malfeasance. If analogies like this enrage you, skip the rest of this comment.

... for example, every so often you'll see a news article on the theme "Rich asshole who commits serious crime gets insultingly low sentence, compared to poor assholes committing similar or worse crimes." I recall one particularly egregious example of IIRC some rich DuPont family member who only got house arrest for raping a toddler. Or the "affluenza" kid who killed several people while driving drunk. Such incidents are indeed atrocious -- but one reason that they get as much attention as they do is because they ARE outside the norm: most people -- even rich asshole people -- who kill multiple people while driving drunk or rape little kids DO actually face significant punishments rather than slaps on the wrist. (And seriously: human nature being what it is, I doubt it is possible for ANY legal system to be set up so that NOBODY with "connections" EVER gets a break. You can and should try to minimize such corruption as much as possible, punish it when it happens -- but you will never, ever have a system that is completely 100-percent free of corruption.)

But the various corporate bad-behavior stories mentioned in this thread already are not like that-- it's not "Whoa, GM got off amazingly light compared to what happened to all those other companies which engaged in similar wrongdoing" or "Jesus Christ, what was the judge in the Wells Fargo case smoking?" -- no, these are how "the system" is set up to work.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Eric the .5b » 20 Aug 2018, 18:45

Jennifer wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 18:10
Eric the .5b wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 17:51
What is the change that fixes this?
Whatever dysfunctional aspects of current law allow for the status quo we have.
And with that complete handwave, I can only shrug.

"We have to change the system to something that doesn't have this problem!"

"To what system? What would/should work differently to prevent this problem?"

"I don't know! To some system that wouldn't have this problem!"
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by JasonL » 20 Aug 2018, 18:50

What would success look like? Is it measured only with fully delisted stock symbols? What is the thing we want to see happen?

If we are talking about deterrence value of this stuff I can tell you the existing regime has lots of deterrence value. We spend a horrifying amount on regulatory compliance so as to avoid these penalties and bad press. Yes it's hard to put a stake in a massive company for reasons discussed above, but it is also completely untrue to suggest the current regime is toothless and everyone ignores it at a whim. So you are talking about a regime with very high compliance costs and which levies substantial fines. I'm not even really disagreeing that more could be done, but what specific outcome would satisfy the condition that it looks about right now?

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Jennifer
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Jennifer » 20 Aug 2018, 18:58

Eric the .5b wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 18:45
Jennifer wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 18:10
Eric the .5b wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 17:51
What is the change that fixes this?
Whatever dysfunctional aspects of current law allow for the status quo we have.
And with that complete handwave, I can only shrug.
Not a handwave, an admission that my back-of-a-cereal-box corporate law knowledge does not cover this matter. What IS it about the law, that makes "bank fraud committed by Wells Fargo" treated so much more lightly (in terms of punishment) than "Identical bank fraud committed by an individual, or small group of conspirators?" Whatever it is, that's likely what needs to be addressed.
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Jennifer
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Jennifer » 20 Aug 2018, 19:14

JasonL wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 18:50
What would success look like? Is it measured only with fully delisted stock symbols? What is the thing we want to see happen?

If we are talking about deterrence value of this stuff I can tell you the existing regime has lots of deterrence value. We spend a horrifying amount on regulatory compliance so as to avoid these penalties and bad press.
Based on that, it sounds like much of what you are calling "deterrence value" is actually "nuisance value" -- not the same thing. Whatever annoying bullshit paperwork you must fill out for your job -- and of course, I'm assuming your company is NOT pulling any Wells Fargo-like frauds -- obviously, by definition, those regulatory hoops you have to jump through are not doing anything to address the problem of "lack of criminal accountability by companies as opposed to rogue individuals." It's kind of like ...

TRIGGER WARNING: Analogy involving violent crime unrelated to corporate wrongdoing

... kind of like how whenever there's a school shooting, various members of the Do Something brigade propose all sorts of bogus solutions which, the majority of time, wouldn't even have stopped the shooting in question: "A student who had every right to be on campus shot his classmates -- henceforth let's require all students to carry ID!" "Someone who was NOT a student and had no right to be there anyway waltzed into campus and shot people -- let's require all students to carry their books in clear backpacks!" "While we're at it, let's outlaw the wearing of black trenchcoats on campus!" Which merely penalizes and annoys innocent people but does nothing to hinder criminals. Sounds like most of what you're calling "deterrence value" here is more like the financial equivalent of telling students "You can't carry your books in a canvas bag anymore, and you can't wear your long black coat either." This does fuck-all to address the actual problems complained about here.

The things for which GM, Wells Fargo, Exxon and BP have been criticized in this thread were NOT mere cases of "They didn't fill out all the unnecessary bureaucratic requirements." Wells Fargo wasn't neglecting to cross its "T"s and dot its "I"s -- it was repeatedly committing acts of obvious fraud. GM didn't merely neglect to file some CYA papers on time -- it continued producing and covering up for a defective product it knew was killing people. And so on.
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JasonL
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by JasonL » 20 Aug 2018, 20:33

First, that’s a take that ignores what deterrence is. The existence of punishment A is said to deter action B not because of paperwork but because companies do not want to incur the penalty.

That aside, what would satisfy your need here. $64 billion does not, what outcome would satisfy.

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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Eric the .5b » 20 Aug 2018, 22:14

I object to the hand-waving because it is exactly what powers the standard There Is a Problem So We Are Doing Something approach. This is how we get proposals like this.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Jadagul » 20 Aug 2018, 23:43

JasonL wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 20:33
First, that’s a take that ignores what deterrence is. The existence of punishment A is said to deter action B not because of paperwork but because companies do not want to incur the penalty.

That aside, what would satisfy your need here. $64 billion does not, what outcome would satisfy.
I worry that our current regime piles too many consequences on companies and not enough on actors within those companies---hence my desire to do a better effort cracking down on white-collar crime. I have the citation-needed sense that in the current regime, corporations have a solid incentive to follow regulations, and many corporate managers have an incentive to cut corners.

(And to Eric's point, I'm not so worried about the severity of consequences to white-collar crime--I just want more of them prosecuted, and to make it more likely that committing white-collar crime is a net negative at all).

No, I don't think that Warren's plan is responsive to these concerns at all. But they're deterrence-related concerns so they seemed relevant.

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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by lunchstealer » 21 Aug 2018, 00:21

Jennifer wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 18:10
Eric the .5b wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 17:51
What is the change that fixes this?
Whatever dysfunctional aspects of current law allow for the status quo we have.
I think the difficulty is in the assumption that the current law allows for this status quo. The problem probably isn't the laws. It's the institutions. There are limited resources, and forensic accountants and EPA scientists and so forth are highly skilled, rare, and comparatively expensive. Way more expensive than some shitty chem tech in a forensic lab who can crank out drug assays. So drug enforcement and other 'simple' crimes get the attention because they're easy and cheap.

White collar crime is hard to detect, and hard to prosecute, and hard for juries to even understand.

So you could pass all the laws you wanted but barring a well funded white collar crime enforcement effort, you don't get too far from the status quo we have. To sustain that kind of well funded white collar crime enforcement effort, it has to get some visible and obvious successes, and do so in a way that somehow DOESN'T piss off both business and labor for killing some sacred cow of a corporation.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Shem » 21 Aug 2018, 01:21

JasonL wrote:
20 Aug 2018, 20:33
That aside, what would satisfy your need here. $64 billion does not, what outcome would satisfy.
It was 44 billion. They were able to write the rest off on their taxes. And I'd be a lot more impressed with that number if they hadn't tried to Exxon their way out of paying the parts that went to the people whose livelihoods they destroyed. Especially since the biggest reason they weren't successful in doing so was that they agreed to the amount to avoid a bigger punishment, then immediately set about trying to weasel out.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Shem » 21 Aug 2018, 01:25

lunchstealer wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 00:21
White collar crime is hard to detect, and hard to prosecute, and hard for juries to even understand.
Not when you properly fund the IRS. We've spent years cutting studies and forcing the ones we have to go after random people to get back a couple thousand bucks from Joe Sixpack rather than having them focus most of their attention on high-value targets. Because profiling isn't ok if you have money.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Shem » 21 Aug 2018, 01:27

And I still argue well-executed German-style codetermination would be in the best interests of workers and companies.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by thoreau » 21 Aug 2018, 02:35

The things that European countries do well could never work here, Shem. When someone praises it as socialist we say that it is actually capitalist, and when somebody asks if we could try their style of capitalism we say that it is actually socialist.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by lunchstealer » 21 Aug 2018, 02:45

thoreau wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:35
The things that European countries do well could never work here, Shem. When someone praises it as socialist we say that it is actually capitalist, and when somebody asks if we could try their style of capitalism we say that it is actually socialist.
This is an effort to literally give the workers 40% control over the means of production, so ...
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Shem » 21 Aug 2018, 02:56

lunchstealer wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:45
thoreau wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:35
The things that European countries do well could never work here, Shem. When someone praises it as socialist we say that it is actually capitalist, and when somebody asks if we could try their style of capitalism we say that it is actually socialist.
This is an effort to literally give the workers 40% control over the means of production, so ...
What's the difference between a union that represents the interests of workers and board representation that does the same thing?
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by thoreau » 21 Aug 2018, 03:09

Shem wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:56
lunchstealer wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:45
thoreau wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:35
The things that European countries do well could never work here, Shem. When someone praises it as socialist we say that it is actually capitalist, and when somebody asks if we could try their style of capitalism we say that it is actually socialist.
This is an effort to literally give the workers 40% control over the means of production, so ...
What's the difference between a union that represents the interests of workers and board representation that does the same thing?
Adversarial relationships between two distinct entities are usually different from the internal politics of people sitting in the same body. Not saying one is better or worse, but I can certainly see room for distinctions.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's

Post by Eric the .5b » 21 Aug 2018, 04:00

And, reading the Warren site, TIL that the 1970s were an economic golden age. Who knew?
lunchstealer wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 00:21
So you could pass all the laws you wanted but barring a well funded white collar crime enforcement effort, you don't get too far from the status quo we have. To sustain that kind of well funded white collar crime enforcement effort, it has to get some visible and obvious successes, and do so in a way that somehow DOESN'T piss off both business and labor for killing some sacred cow of a corporation.
So, back to increasing the likelihood of getting caught and punished, not severity of punishment on the unlucky bastards who actually do get caught and punished.

Which this proposal doesn't do, because the goal isn't actually to fix anything, but to throw out red meat in a bill that won't get passed.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by Kolohe » 21 Aug 2018, 04:49

Shem wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 01:27
And I still argue well-executed German-style codetermination would be in the best interests of workers and companies.
You know who else were well-executed Germans?
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by lunchstealer » 21 Aug 2018, 06:35

Shem wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:56
lunchstealer wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:45
thoreau wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 02:35
The things that European countries do well could never work here, Shem. When someone praises it as socialist we say that it is actually capitalist, and when somebody asks if we could try their style of capitalism we say that it is actually socialist.
This is an effort to literally give the workers 40% control over the means of production, so ...
What's the difference between a union that represents the interests of workers and board representation that does the same thing?
Well the board is the organ that controls the means of production. Putting workers' representatives on that board meets at least a technical definition of socialism.
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Re: Elizabeth Warren's "Accountable Capitalism Act"

Post by lunchstealer » 21 Aug 2018, 06:36

Kolohe wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 04:49
Shem wrote:
21 Aug 2018, 01:27
And I still argue well-executed German-style codetermination would be in the best interests of workers and companies.
You know who else were well-executed Germans?
dammit
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