Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 11:55:15 AM EST
Oil--how can anyone accurately value something irreplaceable?
The conventional wisdom of sustainable economics.
The other day, I wrote a comment on the subject of public protests and other vehicles for social change that was, to put it mildly, warmly received. I suggested that Eurotrib filled an important function because it existed to challenge the convention "wisdom" on an important intellectual level and cited Jerome's crusade to call Neoliberalism by it's more accurate name--Anglo Disease. I suggested that if we had 20 ideas just as good, we would change the world.
WE are the people we have been waiting for! - Promoted by Migeru
The reason I like the idea of Anglo Disease so much is that it is intellectually perfect on so many levels.
- It really IS an Anglo problem. I regularly read The Guardian online and enjoy its somewhat lefty views on the world. But when it comes to economics, they are crazy as anyone at the Economist or Financial Times. On occasion, they may critique financial capitalism but it never occurs to them to suggest that properly organized, capitalism is quite capable of performing miracles. In fact, they are almost religiously adverse to allowing a discussion of what could actually save their backward hides. Whether one supports or rejects capitalism, the Brits all share the same assumptions about how capitalism must be organized.
- It really is a disease. If a society is doing something harmful to themselves mostly because they cannot change their minds, we are discussing a real pathology. Besides, it was probably some smug English twit who came up with the concept of Dutch Disease--so turnabout is fair play.
- I wouldn't care except Anglo Disease spreads almost immediately to USA. Phil Gramm, the Texas Senator whose deregulation fever was caught while getting a Ph D in economics, was the primary enabler of Enron. He was not especially corrupt. His sickness is much worse. As a carrier of Anglo Disease, he is still pushing his far-right economic agenda even though he was forced out of office because of his Enron connections.
- After the original Finnish version of Elegant Technology was published, I got to meet some of the folks who were actually in the business of producing green technologies. I LIKE folks who can do what they say they can do. On my way home, I checked out some design for disassembly efforts in Germany. Again, these were serious people who asked to be judged by the products they could make. In USA, these people were like good pre-insane Midwestern Republicans. When I got home, I once tried to explain to a guy how very conservative Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavian industrialists were creating solutions to problems American Republicans would not even admit existed. He asks me why I thought this was true. Feeling playful I said, "I honestly believe that it is caused by a brain disorder brought on by speaking only English." He was VERY offended. Even when I assured him I only spoke English, he was NOT amused. So nearly every time I read "Anglo Disease," I giggle over my lapse of "manners" that day. Thanks Jerome.
To gain admittance to the same lofty perch occupied by Anglo Disease, any part of the new conventional wisdom must sum up an economic idea in less than three sentences and be easily defended. I don't have 20 ideas, but I nominate the following:
The harmless magical money "made" by banks is neither harmless or magical.
We were all much better off when finance represented 6% of GDP than when it became 22%.
There is no cheap and easy way to end the age of petroleum.
$100 Trillion is the minimum amount necessary to be taken seriously if we are to build a new economy.
Any society that can waste investment money on something as useless as derivatives can certainly afford to invest in necessary solar-era upgrades.
If governments do not control the financial institutions, the financial institutions will control the governments.
Usury may no longer be a sin, but it is still monumentally stupid economics.
Anyone who believes that the only job of corporate management is to increase the returns to the shareholders is insufficiently nuanced and obviously unqualified to discuss the modern company.
Any bank that has been bailed out with public funds automatically becomes a public bank with a mandate to invest in infrastructure upgrades.
Trade unions are only slightly less necessary than oxygen.
If all the productivity improvements since 1973 had be translated into time off, the workweek would be less than 20 hours. We are working ourselves into a frazzle to create a world that produces absurd junk.
All the variations of capitalism and collectivism cannot only co-exist, all them must be present for the creation of a successful society.
Regulated capitalism ALWAYS outperforms the deregulated variety. The reason is simple. Rules, fairly written and enforced, protect the honest entrepreneur.
There really IS a difference between up and down.
And for citizens of USA--There is NOTHING more socially perverted than for-profit medicine. Anyone who claims that extracting profits from the pain of others is a good idea is an ethical illiterate and an economic fool.