Was the increased ruthlessness of Western economies since the early 80s good?

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,659
Dispargum
#11
I think it is fair to say that since the early 80s, Western economies and management culture has gotten a lot more ruthless, especially against slackers and the merely good enough, which would have been tolerated in the softer and kinder period before the 80s in the West, but this has resulted in Western economies becoming a lot more efficient than they were in the 60s and 70s, whole in the same time the compensation and rewards for the go getter type A social climber personality has increased immensely, is this a good this a good thing, or is the genteel period in Western countries and corporations before the 80s better for society social cohesion as a whole, and on a related question, is social cohesion heavily overrated, especially when there are competitive and efficiency gains to be made in a more hobbesian gladiator like ultracompetive environment?
Given that Western countries are generally democratic, and that democracy requires governments to do what is best for the majority of their citizens, then allowing the economy to reward a shrinking number of winners while neglecting a growing number of losers is inherently undemocratic. Efficiency and democracy have little business trying to coexist. Since the failure of Communism I don't think anyone has argued for complete equality, but extreme amounts of inequality are proving problematic. Democracy is based on the belief that society, the economy, and the country are better off if everyone believes they have a stake in the outcome. If inequality rises to the point where people begin to believe they no longer have a stake in the future, then those people are going to react accordingly. First comes apathy, then escapism, and eventually comes revolution. So while Western countries pre-1980 were less efficient, they were also more cohesive. I think an improvement in efficiency was probably a good thing circa 1980, but I also believe we have now carried the quest for efficiency too far. The costs in terms of social, political, and economic dysfunction are becoming too great.

I would also suggest there are different kinds of efficiency, for instance long term vs short term. Over the past forty years Western corporations have become too fixated on short term success at the expense of long term goals or even the health of their own organizations. For instance, corporate spending on research and development is way down compared to forty years ago. Rather than develop new products and services, corporations are more dependent on accounting tricks, like tax avoidance or stock buy backs, to increase share holder value. The practice of shipping jobs overseas has resulted in a shrinking consumer base here at home. Corporations have gotten very good at shifting their costs off of their own books and onto society at large. Just because corporations are now run more efficiently, it doesn't mean that corporations are healthier, stronger, or more productive today than they were forty years ago. Nor does it mean that society at large is run more efficiently. Your so called "slackers and the merely good enough" are still out there. The only difference is that they used to have jobs. Now they're on welfare.
 
Dec 2011
4,570
Iowa USA
#12
I would also suggest there are different kinds of efficiency, for instance long term vs short term. Over the past forty years Western corporations have become too fixated on short term success at the expense of long term goals or even the health of their own organizations. For instance, corporate spending on research and development is way down compared to forty years ago. Rather than develop new products and services, corporations are more dependent on accounting tricks, like tax avoidance or stock buy backs, to increase share holder value. The practice of shipping jobs overseas has resulted in a shrinking consumer base here at home. Corporations have gotten very good at shifting their costs off of their own books and onto society at large. Just because corporations are now run more efficiently, it doesn't mean that corporations are healthier, stronger, or more productive today than they were forty years ago. Nor does it mean that society at large is run more efficiently. Your so called "slackers and the merely good enough" are still out there. The only difference is that they used to have jobs. Now they're on welfare.
The bolded part is of course an unintended consequence of Clinton-era legislation that attempted to cap the compensation of corporate Chief Executives. The attorneys and directors of the big companies responded to the new legal environment by tying compensation of the CEO to stock performance.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,097
Sydney
#13
Western corporations ?
German corporations , Swedish corporations , Norwegian or Dutch corporations have various outlooks

certainly for many , there has been a push to increase the short term return to shareholders
the biggest shareholders are insurance companies and retirement funds

the increase in pensioners expectations has driven this search for more dividends
thus the olds are eating the young .

to take my point further ,
countries where there is a good government pension entitlements have , in my mind , lagged in flogging their companies to death

I'll be very happy to be proven wrong