Why don't I have a custom title by now?!
Every voluntary trade, such as cash for a product or service is cooperation where both parties benefit.
And there have never been any crook ever in the history of the world. Nobody ever sold defective goods, nobody ever defaulted on payment.
Scam everywhere, unless honesty is enforced.
And there's a saying (I learned it from alex jones, heh heh) "a rising tide raises all ships", as a metaphor for the economy.
Which is not what people want. People want to raise their own ship, and see all the other ships sunk.
"It is not enough to be happy, it is also necessary that others be unhappy." This is how (a sizable portion of) humanity works.
Like imagine if anyone could compete to create places to live
I don't need to imagine. This actually already exists. They are called slums, shanty towns, townships. There is no license needed to become a slumlord.
If nobody respects plumbing and shitting outdoors becomes a hygiene problem, well now many potential buyers would
YOU KEEP USING THAT ARGUMENT. "People would pay more for quality, so shoddyness wouldn't exist". This is false. People wouldn't pay more for quality because they couldn't afford more. You keep thinking that everybody would be upper-middle class, but this would never be the case. The middle-class cannot exist without the state protecting it.
Money attracts money. You have more money than your neighbors? Then you will become richer and they will become poorer. You have less money than somebody else in the vicinity? Then you will become poorer, and he will become richer. This is how it works.
The only method to keep people more-or-less on an equal footing is through forced seizing and redistribution of wealth. This is done by the state through taxing and spending. By taking money from the wealthy (taxes), giving money to the poor (welfare), and injecting the remainder in various investments (infrastructure construction and maintenance, public function services, etc.), the state takes money that would effectively be removed from the economy, and grows a middle-class.
Policy changes since the Reagan/Thatcher era has been to reduce the influence and power of the state on the economy. As a direct result, the middle-class is shrinking, the upper class is becoming richer, and the lower class is becoming much larger. This is because when you stop the redistribution of wealth, it is swallowed by financial black holes: persons and legal entities which earn more than they will ever spend.
In fairy tales, there's an evil dragon (capitalist) who sleeps on a hoard of gold (money removed from the economy or used only for speculative means rather than invested in constructive uses) and then the heroic prince (the state) kills the dragon with his sword (laws and taxes), rescue the princess (the nation) and returns the treasure to the kingdom (the economy) so that everyone lives happily ever after. In reality, the dragon eats the prince, because the prince has been convinced by the evil vizier (the wealthy 1%) to use a butter knife instead of a sword (deregulation & tax cuts). The dragon can then gleefully rape the princess ever after.
I think potential for winning/losing/draw has to add up to 0, whatever) by just observing that EVERYONE in modern times 'wins' relative to everyone in hunter/gatherer times such as being able to make phone calls, the internet, cars, etc which weren't available then.
And why do these things exist? That's right, nation-states. Cars are useless without roads, who build roads even in places where there will not be enough traffic to make a toll profitable? That's right. Nation states. Who extend the power/phone/etc. grid to even remote village with but a handful of habitants? That's right, nation states. Who created the Internet and got it off the ground? A government agency (ARPA), a research center (CERN), and several universities -- all things that exist thanks to nation states.
But you could be right.. I don't know, what would you prefer, minarchism? resource based zeitgeist type economy?
I'd like a system where the economy is not reduced to a simple, abstract number corresponding merely to the amount of money. I'd like to see factored in a number of extremely important factors that are omitted because they aren't money and are not considered to belong to anyone in particular. Notably:
- Quality of local infrastructures (road/rail/canal networks, power grids, etc.).
- Relative sizes of the upper, middle, and lower classes. The larger the middle-class, the smaller the other two, the healthier the country is.
- Quality of life. Are people either overworked or unemployed? Is there a large number of suicides caused by job-related stress? Are people in need of medical aid going without it because they cannot afford it? Is criminality high, with a lot of robberies, aggressions, and petty vandalism?
- Quality of environment. Is the air and water clean? Is there enough biodiversity and variety so that, for example, not all crops/cattle use the same handful of "hyper-efficient" stock that will all share the same weaknesses to diseases/parasites/unusual climate, meaning that one accident might entirely destroy the entire continent's production?
That's looking at the big picture and thinking on the long-term, basically. But capitalism doesn't like it. Capitalism wants a simpler reality, one which is easier to understand: short-term profit is the only god. People only think in terms of dollars and GDP. Everything else can be sacrificed as long as the GDP is increasing and moneylenders are repaid.
In the statist paradigm all these fat cats can use the monopoly of violence, government, which forces everyone to pay it so has unlimited disposable income (especially by legalizing counterfitting for itself in the federal reserve), to attack competing start ups. In a free market, starbucks probably wouldn't have tanks because that'd be a business cost, and if people become aware they can voluntarily stop doing business with a war mongering coffee business.
They don't need tanks. They just need a few, ah, handymen. You know. Put some rat poison in a competitor's supplies. Sabotage their equipment. Sling mud and monger rumors. If all else fails, plant a bomb. Improvised explosive devices are ridiculously easy to create, as I think we are all aware if we have read a newspaper or listened to a news broadcast within the last ten years.
The idea that people could become aware is ridiculous. People are generally characterized by their desire to be unaware. Ignorance is bliss. Also, voluntarily stop doing business with you? That's even more ridiculous. How many people actually do that? Boycotts don't work. On the one hand, people are too sheepish and too ingrained in their habits for them to work; on the other hand, the idea is that if they don't do business with you then they don't do business with anyone because you have eliminated all your competitors. Besides, if you still have competitors around, you can be guaranteed that they will be just as unethical as yourself, otherwise they'd have succumbed by now.
Basically, you are hostile to the idea of nation-states. You see it as illegitimate form of authority. That is the crux of the issue.
The theory behind the modern democratic nation-state is that the state is the only legitimate form of authority, because it is the expression of the people. The state is the people. The laws are passed and enforced in the interest of the people. The nation is governed according to the will of the people. United, the people is strong enough to protect itself from threats, be they internal or external.
Of course, a nation-state is vulnerable to corruption. Power is said to corrupt, and that is partly true; but mostly, power attracts corrupt people. Honest and responsible people are generally happy with their lot in life (if they live in a functioning society with a decent amount of prosperity and liberty), so they will generally not aim to go much higher than where they are. Greedy sociopaths, on the other hand, are never satisfied and always want more, so they'll do everything they can to climb ever higher. In time, this leads to having the society's "elite" (people in government or with a reasonable chance of getting there) entirely infiltrated by greedy sociopaths. You'll know when that happens because the mainstream political discourse will be about how greed is good, about how if you let the wealthy keep all their wealth it will somehow "trickle down" more efficiently than through state-based redistribution, and so on.
What to do in such a situation? That's the problem. Nothing. Ideally, voters wouldn't put greedy sociopaths in positions of powers, but it's not like any candidate is a decent and honest man, so whoever is elected will be a greedy sociopath as that is all there is to choose from. Furthermore, people don't like to be aware and responsible with their choice (same deal as to why boycotts don't work) so they'll vote for corrupt criminals all the same. There is but one issue here: continued destruction of society through egotistical reforms made to benefit the greedy sociopaths to the detriment of everybody else, causing an endlessly aggravating crisis, until everything explodes and there is either a war or a revolution. Then most of the corrupt elite can be guillotined with abandon by angry mobs (or at least removed from office) and a new society can be rebuilt based on the ideals of universal brotherhood of mankind, the need for people to be equal in rights and in the eye of the law, the need to favor cooperation over competition, and having a state that does represent the people's will and have for its mission to protect the common interest.
This new society will work well for a while. The same old greedy sociopaths will keep pushing for their agenda, but as long as the cause of the old society's collapse will remain fresh in the collective memory, they will not be paid heed. After a while, though, people will start to forgot and will buy again into discourses like "greed is good" and "trickle down actually works!" and the cycle will repeat.
Which is why mandatory state education is good too, though it should mostly insist on history, and especially recent history, notably the causes of World War 1, those of the 1929 crisis, and those of World War 2.