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Weekly Rochester Events #665 Starting Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The Failure of Capitalism
by Jason Olshefsky at 7:58 pm (add a comment)

I keep touching on the subject of political and economic systems and it is constantly a topic of introspection. My prior essay on the topic identified socialism and capitalism and outlined their strengths and weaknesses. One of the questions on the online dating site OKCupid is: "overall, has capitalism made the world a better place?" — yes or no. I went back and forth on my answer and offered the explanation, "umm … yes, weakly. It is ONLY good for fast growth (like building a nation), and once we get to a point that we don't need fast growth, it is very very bad."

But you know, I'm beginning to think it's about as useful as using dynamite to go fishing. Sure it's the fastest way to get all the fish, but aside from that, no good comes from it. So now I declare capitalism a complete failure.

Here's why.

Let's move aside from any system and talk about what kind of standards would define a good system. Kind of like a scientific-ish way of looking at it — to look at how we would measure what makes a great system, or a great society.

My first take would be "everyone is genuinely happy all the time". That's the ideal target which isn't actually possible. So what would be acceptable? I'd lean toward "everyone is genuinely happy most of the time" more than "most people are genuinely happy all the time" — in other words, everyone in the society gets to be happy sometimes is better than some people never get to be happy. I'd further say that it be pretty balanced, so there isn't a group of people who are happy one day a year and another group that are happy 364 days a year.

So what's happy? I'm kind of a fan of Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs". I learned about in an intro to psychology class in college and it's always stuck with me. The gist is that each human being must first have jeir "Basic needs or Physiological needs" met before jee can be content in having jeir "Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability" met before jeir need for "Love and Belonging" before jeir need for "Esteem" (feeling successful in life to yourself and others), and all that before jeir "Need for Self-actualization".

For reference, I'll quote the Wikipedia's chart of needs to identify the specific examples that Maslow defined, adding my own interpretation/clarification where applicable:

  • Physiological — breathing, food, water, sex [physiological sexual release], sleep, homeostasis [rudimentary nutrition and shelter; e.g. letting the body heal itself and not freezing to death], excretion
  • Safety — Security of: body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property
  • Love/belonging — friendship, family, sexual intimacy
  • Esteem — self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
  • Self-actualization — morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, accepting of facts

I claim this is the path to genuine happiness as it fits with my own life experience. For instance, I find it terribly difficult to have high self-esteem when I feel my life is unstable. I can't say whether the highest layers apply to everyone, in part because they're a bit more nebulous (e.g. everyone needs water, but what fosters "esteem" in one person may do nothing for someone else.) This is also because the "lower" needs are more primitive to a being, and the "higher" ones are more refined by intelligence.

I guess when I talk about being "everyone is genuinely happy most of the time" I mean more specifically that every citizen has a minimal baseline of needs that are consistently met, and that any individual's level of needs that are met does not radically change from day-to-day.

What a society should do, at a minimum, is to not prevent an individual from tending to jeir needs, then to protect each individual's ability to tend to jeir needs from interference by others, and finally that it provide for the needs of all individuals.

But because the needs of an individual are hierarchical, it's the permission, protection, or providing at the lowest level that counts. In other words, if an arbitrarily foolish society does not prevent anyone from having esteem, but does prevent them from having water, then it is only as good as any society that prevents individuals from having water.

I'm going to attempt this line of logic: the minimal society is no structure at all which does nothing to prevent self-fulfillment of needs, but also does nothing to protect individuals from one another, and does nothing to provide. So any society that actively prevents the fulfillment of any need is necessarily worse than the minimal society. Thus, all societies worth considering must not prevent self-fulfillment of any need at any level.

Next, better societies protect a higher level of tending to needs from prevention by others. For instance, a society that protects individuals right to tend to all their basic needs from intrusion by others is better than one that fails to protect an individual's ability to tend to the need for food, even if (because of the hierarchical nature of needs) it protects individuals tending to the needs of safety.

And finally, the idyllic society would technically fulfill all needs, but that is necessarily impossible as some needs are met through introspection, (which curiously, by my read the definition of Christian "heaven" seems to be a society that fulfills all needs in exactly that way). Thus the idyllic achievable society is limited to providing all externally achievable needs (idyllic in that it is unachievable, but intended as a goal to aspire toward).

So now I can finally start comparing systems.

Pure capitalism — pure competition — actively prevents no person's ability to tend to jeir needs, but it provides no protection and fulfills no needs. It is essentially a system predicated on the wild state, and therefore indistinguishable from no system at all.

More realistically, there is the United States flavor of capitalism which, as it stands today, has some socialist elements. In general, it does not prevent tending to needs (although by taxing people who earn less than a minimal living wage, I could argue that it prevents those people from tending to their basic needs.) The laws we have protect individuals tending to most of their basic needs, and a few needs of safety from prevention by others. It provides a bit of a safety net and provides for breathing, food, and water in the form of welfare. On the standard of "everyone is genuinely happy most of the time", it's limited to the most rudimentary basic needs — ergo, "everyone" is guaranteed not to starve to death, although you might freeze to death. By these standards, on the scale of how good things could be, it's pretty lousy.

To try and stay concrete, I'll turn to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. It's a document that outlines a more substantial set of rights for individuals that includes fulfillment of essentially all the basic needs, and nearly all of the safety needs. On brief assessment, I see it as a far superior system, and something worth working towards.

My fundamental argument pivots on belief in Maslow's hierarchy, and that is the nature of humans to constantly attempt to attain their needs. When all the needs on a particular level are fulfilled, it is in our nature to strive to fulfill the needs at a higher level. And by depriving individuals of fulfilling the needs at a particular level, it is impossible to fulfill needs at a higher level (at least in any sustainable, genuine way). Look to your own life and comment if you can provide a counterexample — specifically that you have not fulfilled your needs on one level yet feel it would make no difference to do so to improve your ability to fulfill your needs at a higher level.

My point is that even if there are some people who will not strive to fulfill needs at a higher level, it is worth it to offer as much opportunity to everyone else who will. That is what makes a society great.

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    Today at The Fair and Expo Center (2695 E. Henrietta Rd., formerly the Dome Center) is Senator Jim Alesi's 22nd Annual Family Health and Fitness Fair from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. [source: RocWiki calendar]

    Brighton Memorial Library (2300 Elmwood Ave.) is hosting a Books Sandwiched In from 12:10 p.m. to 1 p.m. featuring a discussion of The Language of Trees: A Novel with author Ilie Ruby. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick This evening at 6 p.m. at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.), photographer Christopher Kleihege will discuss Photographing Caral, the oldest civilization in the Western Hemisphere. [source: Eastman House calendar] [all ages]

    This evening at 6:30 p.m. at The Pittsford Community Library (24 State St., Pittsford) is a Healthy Lifestyle Science Program with engineer Dr. Mike Rudnick, and physician Dr. Naomi Pless answering What Does Science Say Constitutes a Healthy Lifestyle?. [source: RocWiki calendar]

    JayceLand Pick Tonight at 7 p.m. at The Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Ave., near Goodman St.), Richard Newman will speak on Modern Science and the Ancient Americas: Technologies and Cultural Artifacts from the Maya, Aztec, Inka and Others. [source: Memorial Art Gallery calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick Tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. is a performance of Six Characters in Search of an Author at The Multi-Use Community Cultural Center (MuCCC) (142 Atlantic Ave.) [source: MuCCC website]

    The Eastman Jazz Ensemble, and The Eastman New Jazz Ensemble will be at Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) starting at 8 p.m. [source: Eastman School of Music calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Omen starting at 8 p.m. in which a "powerful political family" "accidentally [sets] the stage for Armageddon when they unknowingly adopt the spawn of Satan." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    Over at Starry Nites Café (696 University Ave., formerly Moonbeans) starting around 8 p.m. is Marye LobbMySpace link. [source: WBER calendar] [all ages]

    Tonight at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) is The Hush NowMySpace link, and This AM StaticGarageBand linkMySpace link starting around 8:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court St.) will be hosting really good blues-charged rock from Buford and Smokin' SectionMySpace link starting around 10 p.m. [source: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que calendar]

    This evening at The Flying Squirrel Community Space (285 Clarissa St., formerly the Flower City Elks Lodge) is the Pure Kona Poety Reading and Open Mic starting at 8 p.m. [source: Flying Squirrel Community Space website]


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    Tonight is another First Fridays around art galleries downtown starting around 5 p.m. [source: First Friday website]

    Tonight at The Image City Photography Gallery (722 University Ave.) from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. is the Artists' Reception for Diamonds, Rabbits, and Stars featuring works by Gilbert Maker, Don Menges, George Wallace, and more. [source: Image City Photography Gallery e-mail]

    At this evening's Happy Hour at Abilene Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara), This Other LifeMySpace link will perform starting around 6:30 p.m., then around 9:30 p.m., it's Professor Louie and the CrowmatixMySpace link. [source: Abilene website]

    JayceLand Pick This evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Crossroads Coffeehouse (752 S. Goodman St., formerly Muddy Waters) is the Opening Reception for Mexico in Black and White and Color featuring photographs by Joseph Sorrentino. The works will be on display thorugh November 1. [source: Culture starts with ART! (CSWA) Yahoo! Group]

    Tonight at 7 p.m. at Writers and Books (740 University Ave.) is the First Fridays/Wide Open Mic hosted by Norm Davis. [source: Writers and Books calendar] [all ages]

    The Baobab Cultural Center (728 University Ave., formerly on Gregory St.) will present an Art Exhibit titled Magnificent Africa — Season III tonight starting at 7 p.m. [source: Baobab website]

    JayceLand Pick Tonight is the opening night of The ImageOut Film Festival with The Night Watch at The Little (240 East Ave.) at 7 p.m. The festival runs through October 16 with 45 programs. [source: ImageOut program]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man) starting at 8 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "Adam, a former champion swimmer, enjoys his position as pool manager at a posh hotel until restructuring forces him behind a desk. His own son takes over pool duties as post-colonial Africa's ever-present wars creep closer to home. A quiet and quietly affecting film from one of world cinema's unheralded voices." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting Funktional FlowMySpace link, the instrumental jam-rock genius of Pia MaterMySpace link, and Steel Keys and BrassMySpace link starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    To the DeepMySpace link, Dave's Not Here, and Oceans of Insects will be at Monty's KrownMySpace link (875 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. [source: WBER calendar] [21+]


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    Anderson Alley Artists (250 Goodman St. N.) will be having another open house this and every second Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. [source: the proverbial grapevine]

    Despite near obfuscation of actual information on the South Wedge website, there's a fundraiser for The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) of Greater Rochester today called The Great Urban Challenge — a scavenger hunt in the South Wedge starting at 2 p.m. and ending at Lux LoungeMySpace link (666 South Ave.) [source: South Wedge website] [21+]

    Fun ska from Mrs. Skannotto, and The SteakoutsMySpace link will be at Water Street Music Hall (204 N. Water St.) starting around 6:30 p.m. [source: Water Street calendar] [16+]

    JayceLand Pick This evening starting at 7 p.m. at The new un-named gallery space (280 N. Union St., #50-52 in the Public Market, above Java Joe's) is the Opening Reception for By the Pale Moonlight (on display through November 5) — the Three Year Anniversary Show for The 1975 Gallery, and Surface Hair Salon (, formerly at 658 South Ave.) featuring works by Carla Bartow, BLOKT, Kenny Brown, Jennifer CichelloMySpace link, Sean Chilson, Adrien Moses Clark, Amanda B. Clarke, Daniel Dienelt, Johnny Dismal, Garrick Dorsett, John Fellows, Brian Flynn, Adam Francey, Kepi GhoulieMySpace link (a.k.a. Kepi: The Band), Goatmouth, Chris Hargrave, Justyn Iannucci, Jet, Jes Karakashian, Nicole Killian, Pete Lazarski, Erich S. Lehman, Michael Miyahira, Aidan Monahan, John Perry, Mr. Prvrt, Sara Purr, Rebecca Rafferty, Lea Rizzo, Matt Roberts, Zack Rudy, Sarah C. Rutherford, Geoff Schweigert, St. Monci, Samantha Stumpf, Beth Sumner, Theivin' Stephen, ThinkMule™, Adrien Tucker, Mike Turzanski, Ben Wight, Josh Wright, Caitlin Yarsky, and Arden Zollweg. [Yeah, that's one sentence.] [source: Facebook]

    Over at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 10:30 p.m. is Mosaic FoundationMySpace link, The Big Mean Sound MachineMySpace link, and Dreadscott. [source: Bug Jar calendar]


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    JayceLand Pick This afternoon at 1 p.m. is a What's Up Lecture titled Art and Food with Cherie Whipple. Then at 2 p.m., Jennifer Angus will discuss her works in the upcoming exhibition Extreme Materials 2. [source: Memorial Art Gallery calendar] [all ages]

    Today at The Pittsford Community Library (24 State St., Pittsford) starting at 2 p.m. is a Civil War Lecture Series discussing Civil War Poetry — Then and Now. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar]

    Today from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Penfield Public Library (1985 Baird Rd.) is a History of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department with quartermaster Todd C. Allen. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar]

    Over at The Flying Squirrel Community Space (285 Clarissa St., formerly the Flower City Elks Lodge) starting around 3 p.m. is No Bragging RightsMySpace link. [source: Flying Squirrel Community Space website]

    Vince DynamicMySpace link, very good hard-bar-rock band InugamiMySpace link, and Archimedes will be at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

    Abilene Bar and Lounge (153 Liberty Pole Wy., formerly Tara) will be hosting Mark Gamsjager and the Lustre KingsMySpace link starting around 9 p.m. [source: Abilene website]


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    Fly the flag today.Columbus Day (observed)

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    JayceLand Pick This evening at in Webb Auditorium at RIT (One Lomb Memorial Dr., campus map) starting at 8 p.m. is a lecture in The Caroline Werner Gannett Project with Ryan Knighton discussing It's, Like, For Real: A Life in Autopathography. [source: Caroline Werner Gannett Project website]

    Tonight at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) is Desert NoisesMySpace link, and The Second Estate starting around 8:30 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]


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    National Coming-Out Day

    This morning at 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria overlooking the arboretum in Bausch and Lomb (140 Stone St.) is the Artists Breakfast Group meeting ... anyone interested in art or creativity is invited.

    JayceLand Pick Today from 12:12 p.m. to 12:52 p.m. in The Kate Gleason Auditorium at The Rochester Public Library (115 South Ave.) is another Books Sandwiched-In with Scott Forsyth reviewing David K. Shipler's The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties. [source: Rochester Public Library calendar] [all ages]

    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Hedwig and the Angry Inch starting early at 7 p.m. — an ImageOut of the Archives screening. The musical mockumentary about a singer whose botched sex-change operation leads to inner turmoil that she redirects into song. [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) will be hosting The Lonely Ones, and Nate DeBrine starting around 9 p.m. [source: Bug Jar calendar]


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    JayceLand Pick The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Witchfinder General starting at 8 p.m. (presumably so, since the Dryden calendar says 8 a.m.) Vincent Price described his own performance as "one of the best performances I've ever given" as (according to the Eastman House calendar) "a self-appointed 'witchfinder' who takes advantage of his position to rape, kill, and plunder across 17th-century England. When he attacks a young soldier's fiancée, however, he becomes the hunted." [source: Dryden Theater calendar] [all ages]

    Over at The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) starting around 9 p.m. is Summer PeopleMySpace link, HotChaChaMySpace link, Zlam DunkMySpace link, and CavalcadeMySpace link. [source: Bug Jar calendar]

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    This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do. Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat." Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed. Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events. I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity. Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.) It's also not to be confused with Jake's World or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator. While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, October 6, 2011 (Thu, Oct 6, 2011, 10/6/2011, or 10/6/11) Friday, October 7, 2011 (Fri, Oct 7, 2011, 10/7/2011, or 10/7/11) Saturday, October 8, 2011 (Sat, Oct 8, 2011, 10/8/2011, or 10/8/11) Sunday, October 9, 2011 (Sun, Oct 9, 2011, 10/9/2011, or 10/9/11) Monday, October 10, 2011 (Mon, Oct 10, 2011, 10/10/2011, or 10/10/11) Tuesday, October 11, 2011 (Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 10/11/2011, or 10/11/11) and Wednesday, October 12, 2011 (Wed, Oct 12, 2011, 10/12/2011, or 10/12/11).


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