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post #121 of 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR
Please read the whole paragraph and don't just quote one sentence. My point was that ethics are tricky. Sometimes people are selling because they need money, and that is different than just selling to make as much as possible. I think I am being misinterpreted here.
I read your entire post I understood that the main thrust of your post was that ethics are tricky. I wasn't even going to respond to your post at all, until I got to the part that I quoted. Naturally, since that was the part I was responding to, that's the part I quoted.
post #122 of 163
Please ignore any typos... I'm NAKing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SEEPAE
I think my main problem with this is a few months ago this would have been looked down upon and all the sudden now its ok? There was a thread about NOT selling something above retail and if you did its just unethical, and I still feel that way and Im very very very sad that you all do not anymore, it means the ethics of the diapering world are changing. It saddens me greatly and I am NOT afraid to point fingers, I have always made sure I offer my items at an ethical and reasonable price even though I SURE COULD use the money.
If I remember right one of the auctions that prompted that discussion had a BIN of an exorbitant price. Many thought that was tacky. If the auction "naturally" went that high hey more power to the seller but to automatically ask that high was frowned at. Same with some of the "high" over retail prices that were being listed at the TP too.

Personally I don't think its anyone's business where someone decided to sell their diapers. Used or otherwise. So I should only post diapers for sell on the TP? Even the ones that I get from other places? I've been buying diapers for over 3.5 years and only been coming here for a 1.5 years, this is the only place I can sell? I don't think so, I'll sell the diapers in the market that is most likely going to get me the best price. Because I turn around and BUY more products from other WAHMs with the money I make off of them. It is supporting other WAHMs. Now I don't sell stuff with the intention of getting higher than what I paid for something but I don't feel guilty about it if it happens. (Means more fluff!! I also don't buy something with the full intention of just turning around and selling it either.

And how does anyone KNOW (unless the person says so) that someone IS doing that??

At different times in my diaper buying career :LOL I have been more "flush" with funds than at other times. SO yes I have bought in "bulk" for the future and later found that I don't like something as much as I'd thought.

Yes a few things I have bought knowing if I didn't like it... I'd be able to probably get my money back in full. Did I know that the Elbees that I placed a large order for (when I was flush and knew they were difficult to get then) and received in Jan04 would still be so difficult to get? No. Do I constantly consider selling the ones I still have left that we rarely or haven't used at all (because there is a HUGE demand for them)? Heck YES!!

I agree with the PP who said this isn't the first and it won't be the last time that this causes a stir.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR

Ethics are typically pretty context dependent and require a bit of thought. It may not always be the case that selling an elbee on ebay is indicative of avarice or greed. Perhaps the seller is in a difficult financial situation and needs to make some money. In that case perhaps they would choose to do something (sell on ebay) that they would not normally do. We might alter our ethical stance if we take these mitigating circumstances into account. But, that does not mean that under normal circumstances the seller would choose ebay. Claiming that you are selling on ebay due to unusual circumstances just underlines the fact that under normal circumstances you would probably not make that choice. We all know that you can recoup your entire investment for an elbee on the TP, so choosing to sell on ebay is a choice to get as much as possible. I would define that as greed and see no reason why a community shouldn't discourage such an attitude under normal circumstances.
I have to disagree with this statement about putting it up on eBay equates basiclly greedy behavior. I've sold some hyena stuff on the TP and some on eBay. I can't tell you how many PMs from the TP listings that I got from people begging or demanding () that I sell something to them at a much cheaper price than I had listed it. And I wasn't listed them at outrageous prices either, most were close to retail because they were either Brand New or Washed and Worn once. Why should I have to put up with that kind of behaviour when I wouldn't get it from eBay bidders? Sometimes listing on eBay is just easier when you get less attitude.



Also I have a question: Why is it okay for someone to get the highest price for something when they "need" money but not when someone just decides to sell something? Why does finacial straits make something 'ethical'?

That has never made sense to me.

P.S. I started typing this over an hour ago. : Hunt and peck one handed typing sucks... and he JUST fell asleep too.
post #123 of 163
It is annoying to list a hyena item on the TP sometimes.Then you have to answer a ton of pm's and sometimes check times of posts and pm's to see who was first.Whenever I would list a hyena item on the TP I would have to make sure that I had time to sit and be ready to edit the listing ASAP and reply to the pm's.Ebay is so much easier.And Samantha brought up a good point.Why should only MDC moms get a chance at the el bees and such.
post #124 of 163
Holy Smokes! I mostly leave the diapering page for a couple of months and I just happened to pop on...and the drama marches on. :LOL

FWIW, I don't think it's anybodys business what you sell your property for. I do enough things deemed stupid by others to get a heap of unwanted judging...far be it for me to judge someone elses needs or wants.
post #125 of 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR
Ok, this is one ethical standpoint, but, while persuasively stated, it is not the only one. In order to accept that there can never be anything unethical about sellling luxury items at market prices, one must also assume that the existence of said luxury items in no way impacts the existence/quality/availability of necessity items. If drug companies are busy producing viagra because there is a great luxury market for it, they are not investing in the production of drugs for aids or diabetes or cancer etc. So the line between luxury items and necessity items is not as clear cut as Angelica's perspective suggests.
Without going into detail about your example about the drug industry (whose business model is based on government enforced immaterial rights regulation which are a violation to natural property rights), cloth diapers remain luxury items. If you follow your line of thought to the end, then not a single person on this planet is entitled to produce a single luxury item as long as there is any primary need unmet. Where do you draw the line? When is a SAHM allowed to produce the first luxury item? When there are no homeless people in the US? When there is no hunger in Africa? When we have a cure for AIDS (I bet she could do her share in the research too)? Why are you using your luxury item (computer and internet service) at the moment for mostly entertainment purposes as opposed packing canned food for the Asian tsunami victims. But that’s not your responsibility or moral obligation. People are entitled to produce luxury items even when there are unmet primary needs in the world as there will always be. But please, since you seem to disagree, were would you draw the line and how would you enforce this? And in general, who should draw the line?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR
Second, saying that something is the eqivalent of a communist/socialist ideology is not in and of itself an argument against it. One must explain why such an ideology is undesireable.
I think there has been enough theoretical and empirical evidence the last century to make it rather clear why a communist/socialist system is not desirable and therefore I won’t elaborate on this point. If anyone truly wants to get into a debate about this, please PM me. To state it shortly, in a system where prices are decided by individuals (as opposed to bids and offers on the free market), we need a regulator. Who get to be this regulator? How is he elected? What about those individuals who do not accept that the fruits of their labor is taken to the common pool? A socialist system requires either the use of violence or the threat of violence to function. Thus, being the only non-violent alternative, the free market is clearly the more just one. If you think otherwise how do you justify the use of violence? You haven't mentioned violence thusfar, and I suspect you haven't accepted that element in a larger communist/socialist system yet. If you think that violence is not necessary in such a system and that it can function simply based on inducing guilt in people, then name a single example where this has happened. (You can have a small commune, from 10-100 individuals where a commune can work to a certain extent simply with the use of inducing guilt, but never a nation from 10,000 to however many million individuals where this can work). It's important to note that inducing guilt is only appropriate on ethically just grounds. If not, people will eventually realize that their behavior was in no way morally wrong and begin to resent those which they have been performing charity for, since they won't see them as appreciative, rather as arrogant, and themselves as manipulated. This will contribute to social division.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR
Third, what is the meaning of "fair market value?" What makes "market" value better than "use" value, or the value of labor and materials? We are often told it is because the market is not biased. It is the "invisible hand," and hence not subjective in the way that other determinations of value might be. But, the market does not exist in a vacuum. Markets exist in real worlds with real inequalities and injustices, and inevitably reflects those injustices. There is nothing sacred about the market. It is only as fair and just and valuable as we make it. A "market" requires an infrastructure of buyers and sellers (ours happens to be characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty), it requires rules of the game to govern its operation, and it requires a way to generate demand for items (such as a discussion forum where hype can create artificial demand). All of these things are subjective and biased. Ebay, for example, has rules against bidding up one'e own item. According to Angelica's ethics, this rule is unnecessary. As long as the buyer "voluntarily" (and we could also debate the meaning of voluntary) puts in her bid, why should it matter if the seller is jacking up the price by bidding on her own item?
Fair market value is based on VOLUNTARY bids and offers. There is no threat of violence or confiscation of property involved. Just two parties believing they are both better off doing the transaction based on their bids and offers. This aspect of “voluntarity” makes market value better. How is your ‘use’ value determined? Who determines it? How is it enforced if the parties do not happen to voluntarily agree on it?
Your notion that the value of a good could be the labor and material put into it is fundamentally flawed. Assume that I would decide to build a car. After educating myself for years and constructing it manually, I would finish by maybe 2010 if I’m lucky. I would have put easily more than $200,000 of labour + material cost into building this thing which would be light-years away from factory produced vehicles. Can I then assume to sell it to you for $200,000? It is after all a “fair price” :the labour and material put into it.
The fair vale of an item is what somebody is voluntarily willing to pay for it, that is the market value, nothing else. Period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR
Finally, perhaps it is worth thinking about why it is that acts of charity can raise someone's standing in a community. Presumably we honor such acts because we see value in placing the preservation of communal ties (and the mitigation of poverty, inequality,and injustice that strong community requires) above mere self-interest. It makes perfect sense for a community or nation to cultivate such a communal attitude by developing an ethical perspective that discourages avarice and greed.
About charity: Charity is a free market act. It is by definition a VOLUNTARY act. Cultivating a communal attitude can benefit some needy people for some time but if this attitude becomes predominant and if everybody counts on these acts of charity we soon have a nation of beggars and very few primary producers and when we then go down two generation we do not have a nation at all (see case USSR). Charity can only happen in a system where private property rights are respected because you cannot give away what is not yours to give. I do agree that cultivating an attitude of charity is good but it has nothing to do with taking the fair market value of your goods. If you are not taking fair market vale you are performing an act of charity. If charity by definition is a voluntary act it can never be unethical not to do it. You would need to make the case why someone is obliged to perform an act of charity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR
Ethics are typically pretty context dependent and require a bit of thought. It may not always be the case that selling an elbee on ebay is indicative of avarice or greed. Perhaps the seller is in a difficult financial situation and needs to make some money. In that case perhaps they would choose to do something (sell on ebay) that they would not normally do. We might alter our ethical stance if we take these mitigating circumstances into account. But, that does not mean that under normal circumstances the seller would choose ebay. Claiming that you are selling on ebay due to unusual circumstances just underlines the fact that under normal circumstances you would probably not make that choice. We all know that you can recoup your entire investment for an elbee on the TP, so choosing to sell on ebay is a choice to get as much as possible. I would define that as greed and see no reason why a community shouldn't discourage such an attitude under normal circumstances.
Contrary to common belief ethics is not context dependent or subjective. In human conduct there are fundamental and universal rights and wrongs, which do not change with place, time or society. Burning children at the stake was unethical yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. People engaging in voluntary barter with their own goods was ethical yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. (To think otherwise would be to think that initiating violence [to prevent these voluntary transaction which by definition will take place if not prevented] is ethical, and clearly initiating violence in this case is not.)
I'd like you to define 'greed.' I understand you seem to object to the scarcity of resources and unequal distribution of them in nature. If so, where would you draw the line? How much can a person own before he becomes ‘greedy’ or too wealthy, since if I read you correctly between the lines you somehow seem to think that those too go hand in hand? $100,000? $500,000? More? Less?
Any person in a community has of course the right to discourage ‘greedy’ behaviour and it can be good to some extent. What you seem to think of as ‘greed’, the voluntary free market operations, are however the foundations of material wealth and thus make charity possible in the first place. Therefore I would not object to what you call ‘greed’ too much. A nation of beggars gets nothing in the end.



I do believe that matters in ethics and economics are less subjective than people in general seem to think. You have naturally the right to your own opinion and you have the right to disagree with me. However, the fact that you might personally not like or approve of something has not necessarily anything to do with ethics. Ethics is more a science of logic than the introspective analysis of emotions.
Analyze these issues and please continue to argue with me if you like. But I ask you this: are you sure that what you call "greed" is the root of all evil and not the root of all good? An undisputable fact of reality is material scarcity, and the root of this issue is how to address that. But please address how we are to do that, if not allowing individuals to operate on a voluntary basis.
post #126 of 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennisee
Wow, I could really go for a big Libertarian group hug right now.
me too!
post #127 of 163
Great thoughtful response Angelica. I was not trying to offer a complete ethical theory here, just to suggest to others that the perspective you offered is only one of many ethical theories.

To say that there are connections between luxury and necessity items does not necessarily mean that no luxury items can be produced until all "needs" are met (it might mean this in some theories, but I can easily think of theories where the requirements are less stringent), it is only to suggest that seeing the connections between the production of some luxury items and the scarcity of some need items might help us to make better (more thoughtful) decisions about which luxury items we as a society want. Also, democratic communities have established elaborate procedures for making public decisions about the distribution of all sorts of goods (granted, some of these decision-making procedures are flawed, but that is definitely another debate). So decisions about production are not, should not, and in fact never have been, left soley to individuals. So there is not only one endpoint to my line of thought. You stated that there can NEVER be anything unethical about selling luxury items at market value, and I am merely pointing out that that assumption depends on a particular ethical perspective.

I will not debate the merits of socialist political and economic systems except to say that there is much debate remaining over the best way to organize production and distribution. To suggest otherwise is simply to ignore that debate. Your perspective again depends on a particular theory of human nature and motivation, for which there is some evidence. But it is certainly not the only theory of human nature and behavior available.

I did not really offer an alternative theory of value, but rather was raising questions about the meaning of "fair market value." My references to use value or other means of determining value were just quick references to other possibilities. The idea that market transactions are defined by voluntariness seems to be the same as that offered by Milton Freidman in his famous book CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM. Here Friedman suggests that market transactions are free as long as they are bilaterally voluntary and informed. Again, I am just asking people to think seriously about what this means. What does it really mean for both parties to be completely informed about a transaction. And what does it mean for a transaction to be completely voluntary. Obviously you could spend some time thinking about this problem, but I would suggest that the current situation of great inequality of wealth and power and voice not only in the US but also in much of the rest of the world, makes it very difficult for transactions to be completely voluntary (unless of course you have a very weak definition of what voluntary means - ie as long as I don't have a gun to your head). Voluntariness may indeed play a role in determining value, but it is just not as simple as you suggest.

Your definition of charity also depends on other definitions. It assumes we agree on the definition of fair market value, which, as I stated above, is a disputed concept. I agree that it assumes a system of private property rights. But remember, just like the notion of a market, property rights have to be defined. They are not self-evident. And, defining them is, or ought to be, a public political act. Even if I accept your definitions, I still do not agree that it can never be unethical not to engage in an act of charity (unless of course you are arguing that charity as well only applies when we are talking about luxuries and not about needs, and then well what is the point?). It would be unethical for the US not to offer disaster relief to South Asia. According to your perspective this would still be an act of charity, would it not?

To say that ethics are not context dependent is again a PARTICULAR ethical perspective, but certainly not the only one. Also, to say that ethics are context dependent does not necessarily mean that there are not fundamental rights and wrongs. What it does mean is that most of the time it is very difficult to say act X is unethical in all contexts across history etc. Sure, I think we can say that about some things (genocide for example), but the ethics of everyday life is not quite as simple. What I am suggesting here is that when we think about certain more mundane acts, like selling on ebay, the context DOES matter. It is too simplistic to say that it is either right or wrong, period.

My point about greed, which I am sorry was misunderstood, is just this. We have had lots of posts saying it is perfectly acceptable to sell your items for as much as you can get for them. I do not believe we have had any posts stating that it is acceptable to be as greedy as you want to be. My position is simply that under normal circumstances (ie not economic need or charity auction, and yes, someone would need to decide what constitues economic need) sellling for as much as you can get is what I would define as greed. I do see a significant difference between someone who needs to pay their bills to keep the lights on selling their hyena product at auction, and Pamela Anderson doing the same (I am assuming something about her economic needs here that may not be accurate, but you get the point). And, I agree it would be very complicated to defined needs and think about all the different possiblilities, but that is what a complex ethical system for a complex society requires.

I will just end by saying that your perspective on ethics, that it is
scientific system and less subjective than people think, is indeed one valid perspective. However, it is not the only one. And that it is not the only one was the whole point of my post in the first place. There are many understandings of ethics that have been debated for thousands of years. I don't believe I said that greed was the root of all evil. I don't believe I stated anything about the root of all evil. I merely suggested that a comunity ethics that discourages greed might be a useful thing in some contexts.

Ok, my kids are waking up, so I have only had time to respond (pretty pathetically, sorry) to Angelica. But, I guess momma ethics calls. This has been fun. I'll try and get back before the thread gets pulled as off topic. :LOL
post #128 of 163

Omg

This thread is enormous and horrid to read through. I can see the baloney monsters got out. :LOL

Angelica
post #129 of 163
Thank you for continuing our discussion, Jessica! And Kathleen, I'm sorry this is no fun for maybe anyone but Jessica and I! :

You say in different forms at least on 3 occasions that there are many other ethical theories than a free market based libertarian system. Could you please name one or two or give me a list. I will gladly point out the problems and inconsistencies with each and every one of them, one by one. You seem to say that there are other solutions, yet you do not provide a single alternative for me to analyze and criticize here. Random objection here and there are not enough. We need an equally comprehensive system which addresses all the aspects that a laissez fair system does.

When it comes to Friedman’s definition of a voluntary trade he is simply wrong. This has been debated in academia many times over. In this world there are no guarantees of full information. Who would define when a trade was informed? If no one was forced by the threat of violence to a trade it was voluntary. It does not need to be well informed. People are ‘tricked’ to buying products based on very biased information through commercials all the time. Yet purchases triggered by commercials should be regarded as voluntary. In a free society people are allowed to make decisions without full information like most people do throughout their lives. They can also decide to obtain more information before engaging in the transaction. Nobody is forced to do anything, hence voluntary. Friedman’s addition is simply wrong.

The problem with your subjective ethics is that it leads to exactly the kind of legislation the US has today. Million of pages of cases of all possible different scenarios one by one and still we get new ones by the thousands every year. The legislation of a nation should be based on a few fundamental rules that protect the populations rights, the constitution. In the US the spirit of the US constitution is long gone and dead. A nation’s legislation should be short and give room for individuals to agree to it among themselves on a voluntary basis. Any credible ethical code should consist of only a few principles from which you can derive the right conduct for particular cases.

With your system of ethical subjectivity you have not been able to define if it was ethical to sell diapers on ebay or not. You need more information, don’t you? How can such an ethical code serve anybody, when a simple question like this cant be instantly answered?

When you talk about greed and the acceptability to get as much as you can for an item you need to address one important question. Acceptable to whom and on what grounds? The fact that you as a bystander do not approve of someone’s voluntary transaction does not really lead to any ethical implications. You are entitled to you feeling but are you introspective enough to find the root of your disapproval. Why does it bother you that these two people who both consider themselves better of after the transaction engaged in it in the first place? Can you formulate a simple ethical code for buying and selling diapers in your subjective world. The laissez fair solution fits on one line:
When two parties exchange a diaper on a voluntary basis for any amount of $, its ethical.
You can go on and ad:
If both or one of the parties is forced to do this trade by the threat of violence the whole transaction should no longer be considered ethical.
post #130 of 163
Critique is an essential and legitimate intellectual exercise.

There are dozens of ethical theories, many of which have developed out of critique of free market based theories, and many of which have their roots in theories that predate the Enlightenment and the development of classical economic liberalism.

I agree that Friedman is wrong, but how do you define "voluntary" without any reference to adequate information. Just eliminating "and informed" from Friedman's formulation doesn't clarify what it means for something to be voluntary (or at least doesn't clarify it enough for me). The choice to work at Walmart for a pittance is "voluntary" according to this definition. Yet there is so much coercion involved in that choice that I think it renders the idea of voluntariness meaningless.

The problem with the short and sweet understaning of constitutionalism or law is that it is difficult to address the complexities of contemporary society with a few simple principles. As I see it, the short and simple approach often tends to favor those who already have power and wealth and influence.

Gotta run now, I will try to add more specifics, and answer the diaper question tonight.
post #131 of 163
Gosh- I am simply not smart enough to keep up with this thread! :LOL
post #132 of 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingMama
This thread is enormous and horrid to read through. I can see the baloney monsters got out. :LOL

Angelica


It used to bother me to see an Elbee go for $70...but really- if someone wants to pay $70 for an Elbee good for them...and yipee for the mama who sold it. She had NO control over how much it was going to go for. I've seen Elbees go for $25-$75 each on ebay...it really depends.

Can't we all be friends? :
post #133 of 163
I also wanted to add that I am very grateful for Ebay. How else would I have a chance to get my hands on that beautiful Mudpie baby inchworm fitted, right Angelica . I wanted that when it was on the MDF but it was snagged before I got a chance to get it. I never have time to stalk the tp. At least now I have a fighting chance.
post #134 of 163
Quote:
Thank you for continuing our discussion, Jessica! And Kathleen, I'm sorry this is no fun for maybe anyone but Jessica and I!
: I have a nasty head cold and I ache all over so when I read this thread my brain is going help me. :LOL I think it is good to sell for whatever you can get for your stuff. I never had it in me to do eBay because I personally hate selling on eBay but if there were another site that had tons of traffic I would go there and hope for the biggest dollar I could get. Let's face it we all need money.
post #135 of 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingMama
I never had it in me to do eBay because I personally hate selling on eBay but if there were another site that had tons of traffic I would go there and hope for the biggest dollar I could get.

Me too! I just hate to do Ebay. The TP is so much easier. And then most of the time I just end up giving things away because it's too much of a hassle to sell things. I have some new Mother Ease stuff that I really should stick on Ebay though since that seems to be the only place to get good prices for that stuff.
post #136 of 163
If someone is listing them with good intentions and they just happen to go high, well, no biggee there. But, the mamas that stalk just to ge a hyena item to make a profit, well, that's lame. Especially to the lower income mamas that have bad connections and cannot afford the prices on ebay. It's a free country, they can do it, but it sure does say something about their character. I usually list things first in the TP. IF there are no bites, I ebay. So, I never feel bad if the items go for higher, cause I offered them up at the TP first. I am not saying you have to do it this way, of course.
post #137 of 163
Angela-I do agree with you to a certain extent. I mean, when I see something go for close to or over a hundred dollars, I don't get mad, I think the winning bidder is a fool! I say that cause no matter how much money I had, I just could not justify that(especially to dh!)
post #138 of 163
I don't know how I feel about this. I've bought things (hyena dipes) above the retail price on ebay, and sold them considering the fact that it's used, making a small profit.
post #139 of 163
I think that this all boils down to one basic thing--Socialists and Libertarians will never agree. No matter how much we go round and round, our core beliefs are just flat-out different.
post #140 of 163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennisee
I think that this all boils down to one basic thing--Socialists and Libertarians will never agree. No matter how much we go round and round, our core beliefs are just flat-out different.
Sooooo true, mama.
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