Karl Marx and Mitt Romney

I don’t think we’ll have time to discuss this in class (we never got to it in block 2 today), so I’ll throw it out here on the blog.

Last year Mitt Romney made $20 million without working.  For Marx, this makes him the very definition of an exploitative capitalist, someone living off the work of others.  Is Marx correct that Romney is exploiting workers?  Why or why not?  Post your responses in the comments.

Or, for a comic version of the issue, check out this Dilbert cartoon.

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10 Responses to Karl Marx and Mitt Romney

  1. skapoor2014 says:

    Dr. Korfhage brings up a good point. One of the central views of Marx is the upper classes taking credit for the work that they have not done and “stealing” the money form the workers who have worked hard enough to deserve it. Today we live in a very capitalist society where many people receive money for work they have not completed. However, this news did stir up a lot of controversy even in our capitalist world. Many people were confused as to how someone could make 40 million dollars, such a large amount, without working for the money. Mitt Romney epitomizes the class that Marx slanders in his Manifesto. With this vast amount of money it is hard not to believe hat Marx is correct in his view of society. He proves in his manifesto that if this is what causes us to view everything in society in correlation of monetary value.

  2. cpickett2014 says:

    Although Mitt Romney made 20 million dollars last year without working, he still took a risk with his investments which should count for something. As we talked about in class the other day, Romney could’ve lost 20 million dollars instead of gaining it, and it was his choice whether or not to invest. With this said, I still think Marx would be correct in thinking that Romney epitomizes an exploitative capitalist. The video below shows his net worth and his tax returns. I do not think it is fair that Romney is allowed to pay a significant lower tax rate than the American middle class. If Romney makes more money, he should have a higher tax rate, and someone that makes less money should pay a lower tax rate. I think there should be a standard tax rate depending on your income, whether it’s from investments or from your employment.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/mitt-romney-made-42-million-paid-14-percent/story?id=15423615#.TysTH-PLwuE

  3. Maggie Dancy says:

    I agree with both Carly and Sheena. It is unfair to take credit for something you haven’t worked for. Although Romney did had to work at obtaining the money he has, I agree with Carly in the fact that he could have lost all of the money. Even hundreds of years ago the proletarians made money by selling their labor to people like Romney. It is just the specific situations people are in. If you start at the top, you will go even higher. It is socio-economics. If you want work and you are poor, you sell your labor to make money. If you work hard enough, you can get even farther in the economy, even high enough to make millions of dollars like Romney. I don’t believe in a circle of poverty. Every one can break the chain and become richer or even standard; no one HAS to be in poverty.

  4. Aaron Stagoff-Belfort says:

    I agree with what Carly and Sheena said. Romneys actions, wrong or right, are clear examples of the money-driven society that Marx described. In addition, they confirm another classic aspect of Marx’s critique of capitalism. I disagree with Maggie and some of the prior statements that have been made saying that Romney worked to obtain the money he made this year. The money Romney made did not come from the kind of “work” Marx describes the proletarians accomplishing in his Manifesto. Romney simply sat back and took advantage of a capitalist society. In addition, I believe that no one chooses to be in poverty, obviously all people would choose the opposite. If it were so easy to break free from the “chains of poverty,” then almost everyone would considering that the goal in life and this capitalist society we live in is to make money and become wealthy. Because we live in a society focused on making money, no one wants to be in poverty and many of the people in poverty do not have complete control of their situation. I believe the reason people are in poverty is not because of their inability to “break the chains of poverty” like Maggie says, but because of the selfish actions of Romney and his Republican counterparts who refuse to raise taxes on the rich like Sheena mentioned.

  5. mkturner says:

    Though I do agree that to viewers living outside our society, such as Carl Marx, Mitt Romney’s ability to make such a large sum of money off of other people’s work would be considered exploitive, that is not the case for citizens living in modern day. Our capitalist society was built around many ideals different from those in any other form of government or culture. However, our idea of capitalism is that one can make off others work. Purposely structured that way, it should and would not be thought of as “exploitive capitalism” (rather, just capitalism) to someone in or who understands our society. Yet to an outside set of eye, like Carl Marx, this could seem wrong, for you are taking the work of others and turning it into a profit for yourself. Even then, though, the person investing must, to some extent, research to make sure they are “betting” with their own money well. Therefore, whether it be their own labor of actually making the product, or investing in the product, work is done. That should not be considered exploitive, for that is part of the structure of capitalism.

  6. mcolbert says:

    I agree with what people have said above. I believe this was a perfect example of what Marx was talking about. Whether this is right or wrong, fair or unfair, is a different question. However it can not be denided that this is a perfect example of a member of the bourgeois gaining money by not working. Though Mit Romney does work, it is a different kind of work, not the kind of work that Marx was thinking of when he created his ideas. The way Romney gained this money was using the way a capitalist society works to his advantage. Whether this is right or wrong again is an issue that should be discussed on it’s own.
    Also to address what Maggie said above, how no one has to be in poverty, I think it’s important to remember that it is impossible to know each persons individual situation. If you are born into a very poor family, it is extremely difficult to break out that poverty. Especially if programs meant to help the poor get back onto their feet such as tax cuts for the poor, social service, planned parenthood, etc, are being opposed by politicians such as Mit Romney. How can people in horrible economic system rise out of poverty if they have no aid at all?

  7. dkorfhage says:

    A few questions and responses:

    Mary Kate: I think Karl Marx would agree that it is “part of the structure of capitalism,” but that’s precisely his point: exploitation is built into capitalism itself, therefore it should be replaced. So you instead have to argue that what is, to Marx, exploitation isn’t really exploitation (although you make that argument the first part of your comment).

    Madeline: You sidestep the question of whether it’s right or wrong, but that’s the crucial ethical/philosophical issue. What do you think? Is there a problem with someone making $20 million without working?

  8. Aaron Stagoff-Belfort says:

    Mary Kate- Karl Marx not Carl. The work someone does investing is not actually “work.” Your missing the point that when people invest they are making money off someone’s actual physical or mental work or creation irregardless. Also as Dr. Korfhage says above, Capitalism is exploitation, the very acts Mary Kate describes Romney as committing contribute to the fabric of exploitive capitalism.

    Dr.Korfhage and Madeline- As far as the ethical issue of making 20 million dollars without working I have several thoughts. First of all, I have no trouble with people making that much money if they are contributing to society. Maybe it confirms my own subconscious capitalist beliefs but people should be able to make money if they contribute to society. However, Romney contributes nothing. He is not creating jobs, innovating or increasing the pleasure or rights of his fellow human beings. This is why I think that Romney making such a lucrative sum of money without working or contributing is ridiculous because no one should make so much money without furthering society. It just confirms the empty, money-driven society we live in.

    • mcolbert says:

      I agree with you Aaron, I think that Romney is not contributing to society in a productive way. From what I understand from news articles I’ve read, Romney is not making his money in a way that helps America at all. It is my understanding that the way Romney made a great deal of his money was buying corporations to stop them from going bankrupt. However those corporations that he owned then eventually became bankrupt anyway, and Romney broke up the corporation and sold it in different parts. Yet he is still regarded as a brilliant businessman, which I don’t think one can say if this is how he made money. He is not a good businessman for his companies; he is a good businessman for himself. This in no way helps society, and thus Marx would definitely have a problem with how he gains his money. I could not really have understood the article I read about him however, so this might not be true.

  9. Emma Hart says:

    Yes i do believe that he is exploiting workers. But exploitation is a very harsh word. Though it is not fair that people in China have to work long and hard hours, while he sits around and does nothing, he has made his investments wisely. He should not be punished for this. I don’t see a rational way to fix this problem either. I do think it is unfair that he is getting his money from the hard work of others. Does anyone have any ideas of how to fix this problem?

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