D E F E N S I V E
Rant


24.10.1 9:33 The unemployed need. 24.10.1 10:56 The basic assumptions. 24.10.1 13:51 Anti-advertising. 24.10.1 15:07 Poetry magnets. 24.10.1 23:12 Revealed truth, evolved truth. 25.10.1 10:28 Given up and gone to play golf. 25.10.1 14:17 Undergraduate economics class. 25.10.1 16:12 Stacking of information. 26.10.1 10:10 Even when logically argued. 26.10.1 11:28 Cynical enough. Subject: RE: Economic Exploitation Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 16:00:48 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae, "IPE List" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00853.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > does this mean that you believe that it is important to emphasize the > existence of persuasive advertising because you believe that unless you do, > members of the list will tend to advocate lowering "trade union protections?" > If so, would you mind explaining what these trade union protections are. In > other words, who is being protected and from what are they being protected? > Then you might to on to tell how disregard for persuasive advertising might > lead advocates of reduced "protections" to increase their "power base." I would say advertising (or what others might call "propaganda" or even "education") is justified for convincing people to do what needs to be done. How "what needs to be done" is determined would be a matter for discussion of course. How these discussions will be carried out I would leave in the hands of so-called "democratic" principles, like the free flow of ideas, the freedom to debate, and the concept of self-government. As for my own personal position on the issue if it ever comes up, my current stand would be that those jobs that are essential to human survival are the ones that should be most actively encouraged. This is not to say this would be the best or most crystalized position after many rounds of heated discussion - this is just a stake in the ground. I would say much of the influence over the many organizations that regulate internatinal economic matters rest with some of the more wealthy and nominally democratic countries. Because the democratic process does have some influence over the policies of these countries, it is necessary for financiers who want to "exploit" workers in poor nations to gather domestic support for such organizations when they want to restrict the rights of workers in other countries. The claim that workers in the wealthy nations also benefit from their exploitation of the Third World is one possible tactic. This is the "benefit" I dispute - of course, it is hardly enough by itself. As far as "trade union protections and the like" goes, I must admit it is not clearly defined. Some of the more "pro-capitalist" types might say that they are laws that restrict their ability to deal with their employees. Some of the big-government liberal types might say that they are ways in which the government can protect employees from any exploitive tactics used by their employers. A few higher-ups in certain unions might say that they are any laws that encourage union organizing among the employees of a country. Personally though, I would say that they are freedoms that enable employees to stand up for themselves whenever employers, government officials, or even union presidents attempt to act against their interest. Some of these freedoms might include freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, right to bear arms and right to self-defense, and the principle of self-government. All this of course must be taken in the context of (what I would consider) the harmful effect that an "overconcentration of wealth" has on the market economy (which we have both discussed here at length, though coming to little apparent agreement).
Subject: RE: Economic Exploitation Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 11:28:32 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae, "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu CC: alex102@telcel.net.ve, hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00851.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > so what? It is easy to agree that the world would be a better place (e.g., > resources would not be wasted; people could get more of what they really > want) if it weren't for persuasive advertising and for people's suseptibility > to it. But what points follow from this? > What would you suggest be done about persuasive advertising? Or are you just > trying to inform us of its existence? [Since Michael Yount has felt my most recent discussion of social psychology and Elliot Aronson with Alexander Guerrero was not appropriate for this list, I will attempt to more clearly link this with political and economic issues.] Note this thread forked off of the claim that even the "exploited" workers in rich countries benefit from economic "exploitation" of poor countries (see http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00822.html). In response, I attempted to illustrate how mere material wealth is not a benefit. Given my previous claim that the study of economics should be at the service of mankind, why do you think I would attempt to disprove claims that would make workers in rich countries supportive of exploiting poor countries? One may consider me an idealist for making the claim that the study of economics should be an attempt to improve life around the world, but I'm cynical enough to believe that those who want to prolong their political or economic dominance will attempt to rally the workers in their countries to their side by spreading the belief that they too should support actions that take advantage of the poor in other countries. The focus on advertising was not so much a blind attack on capitalism, but an attempt to take away the power base of those who would attempt to lower trade union protections and the like around the world. -----Original Message----- From: Michael Yount [mailto:csf@moscow.com] Sent: Friday, October 26, 2001 10:58 AM To: alex102@telcel.net.ve; John Yu Subject: IPE conversations The most recent dialogue on Economic Exploitation on the IPE mailing list has ceased to be constructive. Please take into consideration the hundreds of people reading your messages when you post to the list. Thanks, Michael
From: John Yu johnyu@microsoft.com Sent: Friday, October 26, 2001 10:10 AM To: 'Alexander Guerrero' alex102@telcel.net.ve; Patrick Gunning pgunning@aus.ac.ae Cc: IPE Subject: RE: Economic Exploitation Alexander Guerrero wrote: > Your rational or irrational behaviuor has nothing to do with one try to > get you understan. I guess you have no followed any elementary course on > economic theory, so is wortheless to continue this two_way discussion, at > the same time I really got bored on your antiadvertising campaign and its > relationship to consumer behaviuor, based exclusively on speculative > assumptions. I find it quite interesting that you have suddenly concluded that our discussion is "worthless" and are now bored (whereas, apparently, you weren't bored before). The book I would recommend to any economist wishing to have an impact on the world is "The Social Animal" by Elliot Aronson (one of the more famous books on social psychology by the way), particularly the chapter on self-justification. Using empirical evidence, he (and others) concluded that people tend to seek excuses for justifying their behavior - often not only do these justifications not explain their true motivations, they are internalized by the person such that these excuses become something they truly believe. For example, the inability to win an argument may lead to someone claiming the discussion is either worthless or boring. The lack of courage to stop their government's killing of innocent people may lead a person to truly believing that there is no other alternative - or that some Jews really do deserve to be murdered in concentration camps. It helps explain how truth, even when logically argued and explained, can be rejected by the listener if it is worded in such a way that hurts your listener's self-esteem - people tend to react to the implication that they are wrong or inferior by actively seeking out reasons why they are right and superior. Better wording is something I would be doing in this discussion if I were better at it. As for your unsubstantiated assertion of "speculative assumptions" might I suggest the following: unsubstantiated assertions are fine if you are speaking to people you already agree with (and they will applaud you for it), but if you wish to convince your opposition (or neutral parties) that what you are saying is valid, you will have to provide reasons for believing what you believe. Your one sentence response in http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00588.html may or may not be true, but is hardly convincing to the unconverted.
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 16:12:29 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Alexander Guerrero" alex102@telcel.net.ve, "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00848.html Alexander Guerrero wrote: > Could you offer empirical evidence that consumers behaviour go the other > way round. Just for the begining go to the shelves and have a look at > Deaton & Mullbauer Consumer Behaviour and the papers on there and you will > discover that yours assumptions are not left out, in fact in many examples > they have been tested, and its paraterization does not afect rational choice > of consumers on the grounds of its oportunity costs. Good, do enlighten me on what you feel are some of Deaton & Mullbauer's better arguments. There are certainly many contrarian examples of people for whom "consumer confidence" does not play a role in their purchasing decisions. Many religious people, for example. Does their lack of "consumer confidence (or desire)" then make them crazy? Irrational? How would that be reconciled with the fact that people are rational? Let's say everyone does in fact behave rationally - but based on different and limited sets of information. Because of the card stacking of information associated with, for example, living in a religious community, living in China, or living in the United States, each sees the other as behaving irrationally - while they see themselves as behaving rationally. How large of a role does advertising in Western media play in inducing consumer demand? The cards are certainly stacked in favor of consumer culture - even journalistic news stories are often little more than product advertisements. If it weren't for pride, I'd say most of the discussion on this mailing wouldn't even occur. You've probably noticed that most of the mail sent here is because people disagree with each other, not because of agreement. Are we fighting for money? Material goods? Status? Self-esteem? The satisfaction of having written an "unbeatable" argument? Very few people are willing to admit they're wrong - but we have no lack of people who claim they are right, despite all the disagreement. Why do you think this is? Am I being irrational when I disagree with you? How would you characterize the distinction between rational and irrational behavior? Do I not provide reasoning for my assertions? Do you? Coming back to the original question of "consumer confidence" - I find it arrogant that certain people believe consumer culture is the "way of the future" and that those among the religious who find pride in their simplicity are "primitive". I believe part of the reason certain religions survive so long is because they include values that are conducive to their survival. Along the way of history, religions have had to deal with salesmen and "advertisers" of all sorts - while these salesmen are of course only trying to sell their goods for their own survival, when sales pitches start to dominate the communications of a society without some counter-programing (from religious morality for example) what kind of possible harmful effects could you forsee in terms of criminal motivations and the environment? What types of structures would have to exist to both counter the effects of advertising and yet enable people to be gainfully employed? I don't think it's so hard to examine the needs of those who are unemployed to determine which sectors of the economy new employment should be created in, whether it is by government or non-government action.
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 14:17:07 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Alexander Guerrero" alex102@telcel.net.ve, "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00845.html Alexander Guerrero wrote: > Consumer's desire, or confidence, does not depend on just "clean" desire; > this one depends on incentives, that is, consumers spend or save. Behind > such behaviour lies a "more or less" rational decision, funded on oportunity > costs. While this may be useful for modeling economic behavior in an undergraduate economics class, do you have any evidence that this is actually the kind of behavior that occurs when people make decisions in the real world? Certainly many advertisements make appeals to logic, but others merely use attractive models, music, celebrities, humor, etc etc to sell their products. Quite often, what is being sold is not the quality of the product itself, but the prestige or self-esteem associated with using or having the product. See some of the tactics described in http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00774.html - while the argument could be made that each one of those tactics has some basis in rational thought, the main reason those tactics work is because they are logical fallacies. Is it possible that you are naive for believing consumers are immune to advertising? If they were, why do companies hire advertisers at all? Why do you think there is so much support for the bombing of Afghanistan in the United States? Those logical fallacies described above are being used here to justify the bombing. 1. Name calling: We're fighting evil terrorists. 2. Glittering generalities: We're standing up for freedom. 3. Transference: Bill Clinton comes out in favor of the bombing. 4. Testimonials: Well, thankfully, I haven't been paying attention to celebrities, but it wouldn't suprise me. There are certainly testimonials from less famous folks. 5. Plain folks: The American people deserve justice. 6. Card stacking: The amount of pro-bombing press coverage in American media speaks for itself. Compare this with Iranian media. 7. Band wagon: Amercians and British are united against terrorism. It really is a shame some economists don't study psychology more. You might even realize that money isn't the root of all motivation. Avarice is only one among many motivations - pride, lust, and sloth (among others) come into play as well.
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 10:28:26 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00843.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > > What would happen economically if media advertising gave equal time to > > ads trying to convince people they *don't* need or want something? > Besides the cost of the program, it would require a bureaucratic > decision about what people want or need. You are assuming I'm suggesting that a government program should be involved in trying to reverse consumerism. Why would the government want to do that if it will just increase unemployment? The question was not a suggestion of policy but merely a what-if scenario. What should be the government's response (if any) to a dramatic drop in "consumer confidence" (or perhaps more accurately in this case, "consumer desire" - that is, they decide not that they can no longer afford to buy, but that they don't want to buy)? Should the government then respond with advertising incentives? What kinds of things can the government do about unemployment besides trying to increase consumer spending? What kinds of things can be done without government involvement? It seems you assume ideas will come out of nowhere if the government would just leave the private sector alone. Ideas come from people's heads - whether they work for the government or not. Is it not the economist's job to help come up with some of these ideas? Let's say the government really has given up and gone to play golf. What would be some of the things the rest of the country can do about unemployment, despite lack of consumer demand? In the face of government apathy, how can we (as a nation, as a people, as economists, whatever) encourage the development of solutions to the inability of those who have no work to obtain goods and services?
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 23:12:14 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Alexander Guerrero" alex102@telcel.net.ve, "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00838.html Alexander Guerrero wrote: > I have the whole reason, to ask for something which appears to me to be > confused, particularly when one walks in a very thin line betwen ideology > and science, jumping from one side to another Well, I could certainly ask you define ideology for me, but I won't. Instead, I would ask that you provide some evidence or reasoning for what you think is ideology in this case. Nevertheless, since your replies are mostly free of content, I shall just have to press on by assuming I know what your underlying objections are. Though I have made references to religious thought, I have not made such references as if they were revealed truth, but merely as illustrations of ideas. Note the message at http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00562.html - the argument could be made that even if religious morality / wisdom is not revealed truth, it is evolved truth. Let me give you an illustration (apologies to Hector for changing the subject yet again, but this can't all be dismal, can it): The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, D.C. states the Second Commandment as: Thou shalt not make any graven image, or bow down before any creation in heaven or on earth. It is generally agreed that humans are fallible. The chances that any person will make the correct decision in every situation are remote. However, history is filled with people who are able to make a very large number of astute judgments. These people become leaders when others notice this. The more wise decisions they make, the more they become admired, adored, even worshipped. The more praise that is heaped upon such people, the more likely their words will be taken uncritically, even when clearly wrong. There is an old scam that goes something like this: 1. Send out 512 letters telling people that your investment firm believes stock X will rise. Send out another 512 letters telling different people stock X will fall. 2. A week later, forget the 512 you guessed wrong for. To the remaining, send out 256 saying stock X will rise and another 256 saying it will fall. 3. Repeat this strategy until you have a core group of people who will be willing to sell everything they own to give to your investment firm. The warning against idolatry is one mechanism that enables societies to avoid such mistakes. Matthew 6:24 warns against the worship of money. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. While collecting wealth is clearly useful for many aspects of survival, wealth is like a wise but fallible leader. Those who allow it to dominate every choice and aspect of their lives become a menace to their neighbors.
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 15:07:16 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Alexander Guerrero" alex102@telcel.net.ve, "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00836.html Alexander Guerrero wrote: > Well, now we the female cat jumping over the punt, (or something like that > in spanish) as we have two new concepts intriduced: "non-esential goods" and > "industries that are still neded" which would produce more confusion. We could fight over definitions forever, of course, but it does get tiring. I could even ask you to define "punt" for me, but what would be the point unless I'm just trying to derail your argument without providing any logical reasoning of my own? It seems to me that when certain people are unable to defeat an argument, they resort to uninteresting attacks on definitions. This can get tiresome, so let me suggest a review of some of the more interesting approaches to looking at questionable statements: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~compose/tutor/problems/logic.html In any case, I would not say there is a binary division between the "essential" and the "non-essential" but rather a smooth transition. My lunch was certainly more essential to my survival than my set of poetry magnets. If you would like some empirical suggestions as to "essential" industries, might I suggest looking at which economic sectors are not currently in as much trouble in Japan or in the United States during the Great Depression. However, in order to move the discussion forward, let me raise an objection of my own: wouldn't the loss of non-essential industries mean the end of modern civilization and a return to some more primitive world? To this I would reply with the following questions: Does "modern" necessarily have to mean an abundance of gadgets and consumer goods built up by advertising? How can employment be structured such that people should only feel obligated to produce the goods important for physical survival? What structures would have to exist for people to be able to work on non-essential advancements on a voluntary basis? What could be done to encourage such voluntary behavior? What would be some ways in which such non-essential goals (marine colonies or space travel for example) could be agreed upon in a fair and rational way?
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 13:51:24 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00832.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > Unemployment is an easy problem to deal with, John, although one must be > careful to define it properly. The question that is provoked by your > discussion is what you mean by a "culture of materialism?" No economist I > know would advocate trying to persuade people to buy things that they don't > want. Moreover, in the ascetic world of contemplation, how can unemployment, > by any reasonable definition, exist? I quite agree that unemployment is easier to deal with than many economists believe. Asking the unemployed to produce goods for the unemployed is one possibility. However, why then are so many governments still struggling with unemployment (as defined by those very governments)? What needs to happen in those governments into order to end it? If unemployment hasn't ended in a country because the government is heartless, poorly informed, or afraid of change, what can be done to end unemployment through non-government action? By culture of materialism I merely meant something that many theologians (including Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ones) feel is a problem with modern society. Without getting into whether the materialism is religiously correct or not, I agree that I also do not advocate trying to persuade people to buy things they don't want - and yet this is something that the funding structure of Western media is based upon. What would happen economically if media advertising gave equal time to ads trying to convince people they *don't* need or want something? Would there be mass unemployment as industries producing non-essential consumer goods fail? It can be argued that Japan has been going through similar problems, though not as a result of "anti-advertising". Which then will be the industries that remain - the ones that people still have a need for? What can be done to reconcile the unemployment situation with the industries that are still needed? What possible effects could such a structuring have on the so-called "advancement of civilization"?
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 10:56:17 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar CC: ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00823.html Indeed I am trying to - you might call it a rhetorical tool for establishing the agenda - much easier in email discussions, because I don't have to worry about someone outspending me in either advertisements, or simply buying up media outlets. I must admit, I didn't quite grasp the ability of questions to set an agenda until I read your recent message at http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00800.html - for example, you asked, "What if a 50% tax is enacted on higher income brackets?" And I asked myself, "Do I care?" How do such questions reach the mainstream of economic and political discussion? Why do other questions remain in the background? It is quite interesting the ability of questions to set not only the subject of discussion, but also the basic assumptions. How can questions be posed such that what you are trying to prove has already been assumed, and the resulting debates, though possibly heated, still rest on your assumptions? It's the old "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" strategy. How can such strategies be defeated? So back to the statement that "capitalism creates needs" - are they really needs? Clearly not all wants should be satisfied, because many want such impossible or "immoral" things. What would happen if economists neglect the psychological causes that create various wants? Of course, there are biological wants that are quite basic, and do not require advertising to induce. Is it useful to draw a distinction between different types of wants? How many types are there? What would happen if some were neglected? What would happen if some were actively downplayed? -----Original Message----- From: Hector Maletta [mailto:hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar] Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 10:05 AM To: John Yu Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation John, as frequent with you, you have just changed the subject. You raise interesting questions, but they are alien to the matter at hand. Of course, everything is connected in some way, but one has to deal with subjects one at a time, isn't it? That capitalism creates needs in people has been recognized by many authors, see for instance Michael Lebowitz, "Capital and the production of needs" (Science & Society, 1978). This is especially so, of course, in affluent societies, but happens also in poorer areas of the world. That is a separate matter from the question of exploitation (global or otherwise) that is being discussed in this thread. May I add that exploitation (or overexploitation) of natural resources is also a frequent reproach made on capitalism (though the former Soviet system was also guilty of this crime), but that is a sense of the word "exploitation" that is different from the one discussed here. Both are, again, connected in some way, but they are not the same. One has to make a clear analysis of distinct subjects before analyzing the connections between them. "Distinguer pour unir", as the French say (it is the title of an old Logic treatise I once used, as I recall).
Subject: Re: Economic Exploitation Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 09:33:57 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar, alex102@telcel.net.ve CC: "Norman Mikalac" mikalac@worldnet.att.net, "Pieter Goes" pieter@ptd.net, "IPE" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00822.html > besides capitalists in all countries exploiting their own workers, > labor from the poor countries tended to flow to rich countries to > the benefit of both capitalists and workers in the rich countries. "Benefit" here is not clearly defined. Is it possible to not benefit from having more things? What kinds of things? One of the major problems economists had to deal with in the 1930s was unemployment. As a result, advertising was encouraged to convince people to want more things, thus buy more things, thus lowering unemployment (not unlike the spending spree the Bush administration has recently been advocating). I would have to say that to be convinced ("brainwashed" some might say) to want something and then getting it is of questionable benefit. How can the problems resulting from unemployment be dealt with without resorting to a culture of materialism? What kinds of goods and services do the unemployed need? How can they be organized to fulfill their own needs? What would be the effect on the environment and social psychology if a consumer-based culture were downplayed?
22.10.1 Really savings. Subject: Re: Gold and money Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 09:43:43 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00809.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > Indeed, the history of fiduciary money (unpacked paper, token coins) is > generally described as a gradual replacement of commodity money, by > commodity based money (backed paper and full-bodied coins) and, then, by > fiduciary money. When you say full-bodied coins, you are assuming the "full-bodied" part has value - is something (like grain or fuel) that people need. Is it not possible that the only reason people believe something has inherent value is because of its previous use as currency? Why would such a belief persist despite logic? Note our discussion of power in http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00801.html - ideas are propagated by those who have the power to do so. Who in this case has an interest in maintaining the belief that gold is valuable? How can people be prevented from being duped in the future? How can people duping themselves be prevented from doing so in the future? > I believe that it was Milton Friedman introduced the notion of > purchasing power bonds, which would be redeemed in enough of the > currency to buy the same amounts of goods (or comparable goods) as when > they were issued plus a premium. A price index would have to be used. If > a government was required by a constitution to issue such bonds, its > incentive to inflate the currency would be substantially lower. A fine idea for the purchasing power bonds. What would happen if "money" wasn't used as an intermediary between the bonds and the purchased goods at all - what if the bonds were used as money? How can such a policy be implemented without government involvement? What kinds of organizations and structures would be needed to carry it out independently?
Subject: Re: Gold and money Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 13:38:36 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae, ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00807.html I actually quite agree with much of what you've wrote here (surprise surprise) except the last statement. But I'd like to first ask for everyone's analysis of this debatable statement from the "Investment FAQ": "According to the Hammarabi Code, the Dinar was worth today's equivalent of about $325 (ie., an ounce of gold - only it weighed slightly more). Within their agricultural economy, it was a piece of metal (more easily transportable) equal in value to a bushel of wheat, which, according to the Code, weighed 1 Stone (the Sumerian Standard), which, by our standards, weighed about 60 pounds." Is it conceivable that a unit of currency that was once backed by some other commodity is now treated as if it were a standalone commodity by itself, and is itself used to back new currency? A unit of currency issued by a wheat farmer, for example, is merely a contract that the currency can be redeemed for some amount of wheat in the future. What would happen if farmers were allowed to do this? Which types of structures would make such currency more easily trusted? Is there a way to guarantee that the money a person "saves" are really savings? If the currency has the ability to crash, then the savings are not really savings, because there is no security in what has been put aside. Is gold preferable to putting aside tangible goods? Would preserving the ability of a nation to produce these goods be preferable? -----Original Message----- From: Patrick Gunning [mailto:pgunning@aus.ac.ae] Sent: Monday, October 22, 2001 12:54 PM To: ipe@csf.colorado.edu Subject: Re: Gold and money Hector Maletta wrote: > people should not be allowed, I imagine, to issue personal > currency unless they actually have (at that time) the necessary goods. Even if people are allowed to issue unbacked promissory notes, others will not accept them at face value unless the dealers in money (first, and later, the guarantors of notes) give them their stamp of approval. In other words, in considering the problem of free issuance of currency, one should recognize the importance of entrepreneurship in helping to distinguish the cheaters from those who are trustworthy. > Or the bank may abandon the idea of backing currency with goods altogether, > and rely only on the public's confidence that it will always be able to > exchange its own banknotes for banknotes of any other currency. Building > that confidence would be hard, or impossible, for all the people: given a > certain banknote issued by Hector Maletta you may wonder who this guy is, is > he a responsible person, will he honor his commitment to back up this banknote, > and so on. the important point is not my trust. It is the trust of a widely respected money dealer and/or guarantor. One should not neglect the possibility that such people would emerge. After all, business is based mostly on trust. > Given a Central Bank banknote you may also wonder, but you'll find > easily other people around with a pretty good experience of dealing with > Central Bank (or, in the US, the Federal Reserve or the Treasury) issue, > who could tell you those institutions are pretty reliable. I wouldn't rely too heavily on the Central Bank either. > I suspect at this point ou may give up on your idea of money printed by > everyone and backed by any tangible goods each of us happens to possess. > Not that it is absolutely foolish: it may only be quite unworkable in > practice for the time being. I agree that this idea should be given up. Why waste the tangible goods?
22.10.1 10:56 Applied economics Subject: Re: Economics and moral goals Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:52:38 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar CC: alex102@telcel.net.ve, Pablo Gabriel Santillán Torres Torija pablo_gabriels@hotmail.com, pgunning@aus.ac.ae, ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00804.html Hector Maletta wrote: > all these questions have actually been posed and discused by > Economics at one time or another. notice that if all "countries" (you mean > governments or also the people in them?) sell all their currency and > gold, who would take the currency or the gold in exchange for goods? notice > that once they have purchased the tangible goods (more tangible than gold?), > some of them may want to excvhange some goods to obtain other goods, but it > may prove difficult to achieve by barter Indeed some of those questions have been discussed on this very list (http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00487.html for example). As for whether I meant just the governments or also the people who abandon dollars and gold, that's a scientific question isn't it? We could split the question into three parts: if one did it, if the other did it, if both did it. You seem to be making the assumption that the only alternative to using gold and dollars is barter. This is not true if you took the second question into account as well. What if they replaced it with a new currency, backed by the goods they use to measure inflation? How can they choose goods that both deteriorate slowly and that they will have a constant need for (as opposed to something they buy once and never need again)? If non-deteriorating goods cannot be found, how can the currency issued take the deterioration into account? Personally, I believe that the arguments used to defend gold borders on ideology (though not the actual defence of it - since in many cases it is in the short- term interest of those with investments in gold). But that's just a personal observation.
Subject: Re: Economics and moral goals Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 10:56:14 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar CC: alex102@telcel.net.ve, Pablo Gabriel Santillán Torres Torija pablo_gabriels@hotmail.com, pgunning@aus.ac.ae, ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00801.html Hector Maletta wrote: > moral considerations are not necessary for the study of physics or biology > as such, though they may be important for developing (or choosing between) > practical applications of knowledge obtained through Physics or Biology. > One may also be able to anticipate (in a limited degree) the probable > consequences of certain changes in the normative-institutional environment, > such: What would happen if a prohibition of imports is imposed? What if a > 50% tax is enacted on higher income brackets? What if people is allowed (or > not allowed) to exchange paper-money for gold, or domestic for foreign > currency? Indeed different economic systems can be studied for their own sake. Theoretical economists that study it in the their own hermetic worlds are of little threat. However, applied economics that attempts to have an effect on the real world is of concern to me - it can be both "good" or "bad" for various people. Ultimately, in order for applied economists to influence the world requires some access to power: 1. Political power: accept the goals held by whoever happens to be political office or is willing to appoint them to office. 2. Economic power: accept the goals held by whoever can pay them now or perhaps in the future. 3. Numerical power: accept the goals of as large a segment of the population as possible. The appeal to the "common good of mankind" I would have to put under this category (though it is not always done honestly). Are there other goals? It's interesting reading some of the questions you have posed below. Instead of answering them, let me offer some alternative questions: What would happen economically if employees were allowed to take control of their companies? What would happen economically if people were allowed to issue their own currency? What would happen to countries if they sold off all the dollars and gold that they have in their treasuries and collected more tangible goods and resources instead?
22.10.1 9:36 Stagnant system of theories. 22.10.1 9:57 Stated and unstated goals. Subject: Re: With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies? Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 10:27:05 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00799.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > Your comments seem to claim that economics is ideology instead of logical > reasoning applied to a particular set of phenomena. If this is what you are > claiming, I very much disagree. But since you haven't stated this, perhaps > I should leave the issue for you to clear up. If you think that economics > is ideology, perhaps you could explain why. You're right, I haven't state it. I think there is evidence of both. I would prefer economists to treat it as a science - something that can and should change, but I do also recognize that many economists often can't help but defend their beliefs as if it were their personal ideology. Some evidence of what would appear to me to be ideology can be found in Ravi Kanbur's review of the World Bank that was sent to this very mailing list a while back (he was the Chief Economist of the African Region): "Group A often retreating into the formal technical bunker, and simply repeating their findings without trying to understand what Group B is trying to say, and Group B dismissing Group A analysis as either out of touch with reality or, even worse, actively manipulated to get certain answers." The purpose of the previous post was not just to point out certain psychological tendencies among some economists, but also a goal that some others do have out there.
Subject: Re: With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies? Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 09:57:32 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: alex102@telcel.net.ve, hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar, Pablo Gabriel Santillán Torres Torija pablo_gabriels@hotmail.com, pgunning@aus.ac.ae, ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00797.html Alexander Guerrero > Yes, you are right,Paul VI was wrong, as well as the actual Pope which used > such expresion few years ago, both were wrong. Don't think I don't understand sarcasm when I hear it. My little brother does it all the time. It would appear that you are trying to provoke me into a discussion of what is morally right or wrong. What then should the study of economics be for if not the service of humanity? If it's not to improve life around the world, why bother studying it at all? Why fund such professors or research projects if there is no clear goal? (Or are the stated goals different from the unstated goals?) Ultimately, some goal or premise has to be agreed upon, or rational discussion cannot occur, and people resort to petty insults and straw man arguments.
Subject: Re: With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies? Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 09:36:45 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar, Pablo Gabriel Santillán Torres Torija pablo_gabriels@hotmail.com CC: pgunning@aus.ac.ae, ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00795.html Hector Maletta wrote: > Ruthless or "savage" capitalism, frequently associated with the American > economic system, is often contrasted with the supposedly more humane > variety found in continental Europe. I am often reminded of the similarities between economics and theology. Proponents of certain theories will defend them at almost any cost, because to admit defeat hurts their pride. The goal of some is not to advancing the science, but rather to argue that they've been right all along - and they refuse to consider alternatives in a fair way, but merely scour them for holes to debunk, and thus make themselves feel satisfied that their own views are still the best ones. The result is a very stagnant system of theories on all sides. This happens to economists of every stripe. Some lose many of their original goals that they had along the way, and are now stuck fighting for their own entrenched positions. As Paul VI wrote in 1967, "This unbridled liberalism paves the way for a particular type of tyranny, rightly condemned by Our predecessor Pius XI, for it results in the 'international imperialism of money.' Such improper manipulations of economic forces can never be condemned enough; let it be said once again that economics is supposed to be in the service of man." Let me note that I've just resorted to one the of tactics I warned against a few days ago - transference, an appeal to authority - but I think this is a helpful reminder of the goals of what many of us are trying to do here.
From: John Yu johnyu@microsoft.com Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2001 9:28 AM To: 'Daniel Pinéu' danielfrp@hotmail.com; alex102@telcel.net.ve; ! IPE ipe@csf.colorado.edu Subject: RE: Networks, the current crisis and future wars URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00784.html Daniel Pinéu wrote: > Regarding the timeframe... Well, just a couple of quick comments - while > the phenomenon of networks and networking is not new, it gaining ascendancy > and even primacy as an organizational form (especially in security matters) > is indeed something very new. Castells, while speaking of different vectors, > traced the origins of what he dubs the "rise of the network society" back to > the 70's. But i has been during the 90's that this phenomenon grew to its > present-day state, namely through criminal groupings centered around drug- > slave- weapons-trade and also terrorism, as the article authors point out. > As for saying that network forms of organization have existed since the > beggining of mankind... I think it a bit falacious. Once again, we must look > how to define networks. And the early tribal organization of human > communities seems to to be of an essentially hierarchical nature, not very > flexible. Still, embrionary or proto forms of networking might have been in > existence for that long, yes - they had just never been the dominant > organizational forms before, and they did not engage in today's powerful > dialetics with information technology. Networks have certainly existed for a long time, but certainly not with the same immediacy or extent that modern communications technology allows. The organization of many Protestant churches (as compared to the Catholic or Anglican one) are some more familiar examples of networking. Even market determination of prices (as opposed to central planning) is a form of networking. For the same reasons that ARPANET was developed, networks, though exhibiting much wider variation and diversity than more centralized forms of organization, are much harder to destroy by physical means. What holds networks together is not a command structure nor even the technology, but rather some (perhaps small) set of common ideology. Not so bad if some idea is shared by everyone (and thus you have an all-encompassing network), but will result in conflicts if different ideas (ie. memes) are not allowed in and honestly considered, adopted, or debunked. I believe that to think any network can be destroyed is naive. As technology progresses, various overlapping forms will probably become all the more widespread in the future. It would be much easier to transform them through memetic means. --------- "And when it is said unto them: Follow that which Allah has revealed, they say: We follow that wherein we found our forefathers. What! Even though their forefathers were wholly unintelligent and had no guidance?" (Al-Qu'ran 2:170)
15.10.1 At the very least Subject: Re: 10 Principles Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:31:08 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae, "I P E" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00774.html I did not find your message at http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00499.html to be particularly related to political economy nor encouraging of polite, thoughtful responses, so I do hope you'll indulge me for adding a few more off topic posts in the wake of the attacks on my country and on Afghanistan (though I too would prefer this list to focus on economics since I prefer to take my foreign policy debates elsewhere). I do offer much thanks to Clinton Fernandes for bringing to my attention proposals I have never seen before. First let me ask for vigilance against the following (things I too am sometimes guilty of in the heat of carelessness): 1. Name calling - bad labels for ideas 2. Glittering generalities - associating campaigns with poorly defined concepts such as freedom or evil 3. Transference - using authority or prestige to promote statements 4. Testimonials - celebrity endorsements 5. Plain folks - ascribing opinions to the average person 6. Card stacking - presenting only facts that support best or worst case scenarios 7. Band wagon - "everybody is doing it," "we're united" Now let me sidestep the framing of the question as to "whether these principles are on topic" and deal with the question of whether these proposals are better than the current policies officials in my country have chosen for the Middle East. Of all the points, I find the third to be the most compelling. I do not believe that simply allowing the state of Palestine to exist beside the state of Israel will end the problems in the Middle East. Just as other governments are capable of repressing their own citizens, so the states of Palestine and Israel will likely continue to repress their own citizens even if there is peace between the national powers. I would prefer the removal of restrictions that prevent people of all areas from traveling to places where lives are in danger, and, once there, from being able to help protect the lives that are threatened in those areas. -----Original Message----- From: Patrick Gunning [mailto:pgunning@aus.ac.ae] Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2001 2:12 AM To: I P E Subject: Re: 10 Principles Clinton Fernandes wrote: Hi Patrick, Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier; I was offline. The Committee on the Middle East is a group of concerned scholars, including the following: Ms. Arab Abdel-Hadi - Cairo; Professor Nahla Abdo - Carleton University (Ottawa); Professor Elmoiz Abunura - University of North Carolina (Ashville); Professor Jane Adas - Rutgers University (NJ); Oroub Alabed - World Food Program (Amman) ;- University of Queensland (Australia); Professor Jabbar Alwan, DePaul University (Chicago);Columbia University (New York) ; Professor Abbas Alnasrawi - University of Vermont (Burlington) ; - University of Southern Illinois; Professor Mohammad Auwal - CSULA (CA); Virginia Baron - Guilford, CT.; Professor Mohammed Benayoune - Sultan Qaboos University (Oman); Professor Charles Black - Emeritus Yale University Law School; Professor Francis O. Boyle, University of Illinois Law School (Champlain); Mark Bruzonsky - COME Chairperson (Washington); Linda Brayer - Ex. Dir., Society of St. Ives (Jerusalem); Professor Frank Cohen - SUNY Binghamton;Professor Noam Chomsky - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge); Ramsey Clark - Former U.S. Attorney General (New York); John Cooley - Author, Cyprus; Professor Mustafah Dhada - School of International Affairs, Clark Atlanta University; Zuhair Dibaja - Research Fellow, University of Helsinki; Professor Mohamed El-Hodiri - University of Kansas; Professor Richard Falk - Princeton University; Professor Ali Ahmed Farghaly - University of Michigan (Ann Arbor);- American University (Paris); Michai Freeman - Berkeley; Professor S.M. Ghazanfar - University of Idaho (Chair, Economics Dept); Professor Kathrn Green - California State University (San Bernadino); Professor M. Hassounda - Valdosta College (GA); Professor Clement Henry - University of Texas (Austin); Professor Herbert Hill - University of Wisconsin (Madison); Professor Asaf Hussein - U.K.; Yudit Ilany - Jerusalem; Professor George Irani - Lebanese American University (Beirut); Tahir Jaffer - Nairobi, Kenya; David Jones - Editor, New Dawn Magazine, Australia; Professor Elie Katz - Sonoma State University, CA; Professor George Kent - University of Hawaii; Professor Ted Keller - San Francisco State University, Emeritus; John F. Kennedy - Attorney at Law, Washington;Samaneh Khader - Gruadate Student in Theology, University of Helsinki; Professor Ebrahim Khoda - University of Western Australia; Guida Leicester, San Francisco; Jeremy Levin - Former CNN Beirut Bureau Chief (Portland) ; Professor Seymour Melman - Columbia University (New York); Dr. Avi Melzer - Frankfurt; Professor Alan Meyers - Boston University; Professor Michael Mills - Vista College (Berkeley, CA);- Idaho; Shahab Mushtaq - Knox College; Professor Minerva Nasser-Eddine - University of Adelaide (Australia); Professor Peter Pellett - University of Massachussetts (Amherst); Professor Max Pepper, M.D. - University of Massachusetts (Amherst); Professor Ruud Peters - Universiteit van Amsterdam; Professor Glenn Perry - Indiana State University; Professor Tanya Reinhart - Tel Aviv University; Professor Knut Rognes - Stavanger College (Norway); Professor Masud Salimian - Morgan State University (Baltimore); Professor Mohamed Salmassi - University of Massachusetts; Qais Saleh - Graduate Student, International University (Japan); Ali Saidi - J.D. candidate in international law (Berkeley, CA); Dr. Eyad Sarraj - Gaza, Occupied Palestine; Henry Schwarzschild - New York (original co-founder - deceased); Professor Herbert Schiller - University of California (San Diego); Frank Scott - writer, Marin County (CA); Peter Shaw-Smith - Journalist, London; - New York; Dr. Manjra Shuaib - CapeTown (South Africa); Robert Silverman - Montreal; Professor J. David Singer - University of Michigan (Ann Arbor); Professor Majid Tehranian - Director Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy; Dr. Marlyn Tadros - Deputy Director, Legal Research and Resource Center for Human Rights (Cairo); - William and Mary College; Ismail Zayid, M.D. - Dalhousi University (CA).Identifications As for your concern about the state of Israel, I ask whether you reckon things are going well at the moment? Regards, Patrick Gunning wrote: > Clinton, can you tell us something about this committee? The principles > seem very naive to me as if they were written by moralists without a > grasp of political economy. Among other things, they would lead to the > ultimate destruction of the state of Israel. Do you approve of the > principles? Why? Why not? Thanks for the response, Clinton. I suppose that answers my question. But it prompts a second one. Things aren't going well for the Taliban, the Northern Alliance, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, Northern Ireland, the Kashmiris, etc. Accordingly, I suppose that we should just write them off. A further question: What do the 10 principles, or your response, have to do with political economy?
Subject: Re: 10 Principles Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 10:26:31 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar, "Patrick Gunning" pgunning@aus.ac.ae CC: "Clinton Fernandes" cfer@deakin.edu.au, "I P E" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00763.html There's a bit going around the media and internet here in the States about "Four Minute Men" - people asked by the Wilson government to defend his policy and convince the country to join World War I. It would not surprise me very much if there were similar "agents" in operation today. The problem with these people engaging in scientific discourse is that their goal is not the promotion of science, but rather the defense of whatever policy the government has chosen to carry out. If it turns out to be a poorly thought out policy, their defense of it will not change until the government itself decides to change its policy. At the very least, I would hope such agents would report reasonable alternatives back to their superiors. Whether this is an old document or not, wherever it came from, in my opinion these principles are a great improvement over current U.S. policy in the Middle East. Calling them "naive" is a broad and unsubstantiated generalization unless you can offer valid counter-arguments. Whether the authors intended the destruction of Israel or not, let me point out that governments change. By their nature, each generation is a little different from past ones. Perhaps one day the state of Israel will encompass the entire globe, perhaps one day it will be replaced by something completely different, something that makes no reference to ancestry or creed. Simply calling it the "destruction of Israel" is like calling it "the end of the world as we know it" - what do we know it as? Would it become "better" or "worse"? -----Original Message----- From: Hector Maletta [mailto:hmaletta@fibertel.com.ar] Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2001 7:44 AM To: Patrick Gunning Cc: Clinton Fernandes; I P E Subject: Re: 10 Principles I'd like to call attention to the fact that the text on the 10 principles seems a bit dated. For one, look (at point 4 below) the call that certain goals be achieved "by the turn of the millennium". Either the text is old, or they are thinking of the year 3000... Hector Maletta Universidad del Salvador Buenos Aires, Argentina Patrick Gunning wrote: > Clinton, can you tell us something about this committee? The principles > seem very naive to me as if they were written by moralists without a > grasp of political economy. Among other things, they would lead to the > ultimate destruction of the state of Israel. Do you approve of the > principles? Why? Why not? > > Clinton Fernandes wrote: > >(COME) Committee on the Middle East's Ten Principles for a new U.S. Middle > >East foreign policy: > > > >1) A complete withdrawal of the Israeli army and intelligence services > >from the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 war in > >accordance with numerous United Nations resolutions thus allowing for > >the creation of a fully sovereign Palestinian State with U.N. > >membership, capital in East Jerusalem, and serving as a democratic > >homeland for all people of Palestinian origin including those who were > >forced to flee Palestine during the 1948 and 1967 wars and during the > >years of Israeli occupation. > > > >2) A major redistribution of American aid throughout the Middle East > >region including providing the new Palestinian State -- once > >established, internationally recognized, and having held totally free > >national elections unfettered by Israeli constraints and manipulations > >and to which all Palestinians everywhere were enfranchised including > >those forced to live in exile -- with a significant amount of economic > >aid as was done for Israel during its formative years. > > > >3) Serious and consistent support for true democratic principles, an > >independent press, truly free elections, and rapid political evolution > >away from the repressive monarchies, dictatorships and "client regimes" > >that prevail in the Middle East region today, most of whose origins > >can be traced back to Western manipulations that began earlier in this > >century and have continued to the present day. > > > >4) A rapid phasing out by the turn of the millennium of American > >economic, military, and intelligence support for monarchies and > >dictatorships that engage in press censorship, torture, and political > >intimidation, or that refuse to allow their people the basic rights > >enshrined in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other > >widely recognized international human rights covenants. > > > >5) A major yearly decrease in American arms sales to the Middle East > >making it possible for the countries of the region to quickly shift > >toward desperately important economic and social priorities. > > > >6) An immediate end to sanctions against Iraq -- sanctions whose result > >has been nearly genocidal according to numerous international studies > >and one of whose main goals has been to keep Iraqi oil from reaching > >world markets -- except for military arms sales restrictions that are > >equally applied to all other key countries in the region. > > > >7) An end to the misguided policy known as "dual-containment" designed > >to perpetuate long-pursued Western policies of "divide and rule" and > >which continue to encourage the development of competing blocks and the > >resultant further escalation in regional tensions and arms sales. > > > >8) An end to the excessive power and intimidation of special interest > >groups and Political Action Committees (PACs) over the policy choices of > >the American Congress and Presidency, especially the inordinate and > >self-serving influence of both the Israeli/Jewish lobby and that of the > >Arab Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. > > > >9) The immediate release of Israeli "Nuclear Prisoner of Conscience" > >Mordechai Vanunu from imprisonment and establishment of a nuclear free > >zone by the turn of the millennium throughout the region so that no > >country in the area will feel compelled to possess nuclear, biological, > >chemical or other weapons of mass destruction. > > > >10) A serious new commitment to the principles of political and economic > >democracy which have been flagrantly violated throughout this century by > >repeated Western intervention in regional affairs designed to control > >natural resources and economic markets through the establishment and > >manipulation of pliable "client regimes" who have in turn seriously > >damaged the economic, social, and political institutions of the area > >and grossly retarded the entire region's development.
12.10.1 11:28 Christianity and Capitalism Subject: Re: Economic prospects in Central and SW Asia Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 13:47:06 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Norman Mikalac" mikalac@worldnet.att.net CC: "Raja Abillama" R.Abillama@inco.com.lb, "International Political Economy" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00741.html Norman Mikalac [mailto:mikalac@worldnet.att.net] wrote: > I agree that the Christianity of the Catholic Church and the biblical > Prophets (see quotes below), communitarian and altruistic, is > diametrically opposite the individualistic and egoistic premises of > capitalism. However, the Protestant reformers, Calvin, Luther, etc., > resolved that dilemna and made Christianity and capitalism perfectly > compatible. IOW, Protestant Christianity and Capitalism are now > perfectly compatible - not opposites. I wouldn't classify Protestantism as individualistic and egoistic so much as a variation that sees more value in drawing directly from the text of the Bible than deferring to papal interpretations (which many saw as corrupt in times past). The same structural difference (doctrinal centralization issues) can be seen in two of the major denominations of Islam. So not to leave out Protestants, here are two examples: The struggle of the poor and the struggle against de-humanizing poverty is the historical process through which humankind - both rich and poor, powerful and powerless, oppressed and oppressors - can gain (or re-gain) their true humanity. This is true not only because the Bible clearly asserts God's particular concern for the poor but also because unnecessary and surmountable, but also growing and artificially increased poverty is the characteristic that defines our contemporary world. Jose Miguez Bonino I had learned why a Lutheran bishop is a threat to the government of El Salvador. The "sins" of Bishop [Medardo] Gomez are the sins of a host of others as well: he believes that the church's mission includes political involvement; that the gospel has a special concern for the poor that must be translated into the actions and policies of a nation; that a negotiated peace is preferable to an ongoing war; and that bishops often have to speak out and act in ways that are critical of the government... At an ecumenical service on Epiphany, a Baptist pastor said to Bishop Gomez, "We Baptists don't have bishops. But you, Medardo, are our bishop." Ditto for this Presbyterian... Robert McAfee Brown Protestants, however, prefer personal interpretations of Biblical text, so one might expect to see more reference to the source than to other people's interpretations: ...I was hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not... I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment... Matthew 25:42-46
Subject: Re: Economic prospects in Central and SW Asia Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 11:28:48 -0700 From: "John Yu" johnyu@microsoft.com To: "Raja Abillama" R.Abillama@inco.com.lb, "International Political Economy" ipe@csf.colorado.edu URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00730.html > I see no reason why Islam and Capitalism should be conceptualised as > oppositional. On a similar note, I see no reason why Christianity and Capitalism should _not_ be conceptualised as oppositional. Capitalism has set up once more the idols execrated of old by the people of God - mammon, Baal, and Astharte. Filipino Christians have the obligation to smash these idols enshrined in the capitalist structure, both in its foreign neocolonial aspect and in its domestic semi-feudal manifestations. We must collaborate in building a new world order wherein men will strive not for selfish gain but for service to the common good of the human race. Christian Filipino Democratic Movement (IDOC-NA no. 33, p. 26) "You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich." St. Ambrose And if your brother becomes poor, and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or increase, but fear your God; that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. Leviticus 25:35-38 This of course depends on your definition of "capitalism" - whether it is merely market pricing and non-government control of business, or if it also includes landlords, stockholders, and "exploitation."
3.9.1 Need to oppress or compete. 9.9.1 13:11 A holy cure-all. Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2001 13:51:04 -0700 (PDT) From: John Yu cyu@oz.net To: ipe@csf.colorado.edu Subject: Re: Isolationism or Trade? URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00562.html > > this is not to say that even an apparently economically independent > > nation should cut itself off from the rest of the world - because > > world conditions fluctuate. While it may be fairly stable overall, > > random regional natural disasters means it would be in the interest > > of any independent region to live among other prosperous regions who > > have the ability to help. This is a key difference between > > competition-based and cooperation-based societies. > Could you please be a little more specific and explain me the > differences, if any, between your cooperation - based and Pat > competitive based - societies? Unfortunately the study of cooperative development has been placed on the back burner ever since the concept of "survival of the fittest" burst upon the memetic scene, so its understanding is not yet mature. However, let me attempt some explanation. According to "survival of the fittest" ideology, one might expect that the most powerful species will become the dominant lifeform on earth, while others are forced to extinction - one set of genes has destroyed another. However, that is not enough to explain the fact that the human gene sequence exists alongside those of our crops and our livestock. The survival of each set of genes actively promotes the survival of the other. This is not competition in the traditional sense. Why have religions survived so long if their followers are asked to help and give to one another? Competition ideology would imply that such societies are only making themselves weaker, by allowing for the survival of the "less fit". Cooperative ideology, on the other hand, would claim that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That by working together, wealth is not a zero-sum game, but can be produced in greater quantity - that competitive behavior, like hiding trade secrets or corporate espionage, is an inefficient way of running an economy. One might argue that it is no longer a competition between individuals or groups, but rather a competition between the best methods of cooperation, but then we're getting into the realm of semantics. However, given the realities of trade, competition will continue to exist. Economic independence is one tactic that can allow an economy to free itself from being forced to compete in international markets. This freedom then allows it to engage in more cooperative tactics, like sharing trade secrets or helping to build up the economies of its neighbors, as an insurance plan against possible unplanned events, like natural disasters.
Date: Sun, 09 Sep 2001 13:11:56 -0700 From: "D. Gale" cyu@oz.net Organization: Dark Side of the Rainbow To: ipe@csf.colorado.edu CC: pgunning@aus.ac.ae Subject: Re: Isolationism or Trade? URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00561.html Patrick Gunning wrote: > > The source of these goods (let's say, wheat from Colombia) will be > > eliminated if a third-party wealthy consumer can pay Colombian farmers > > more to produce less vital goods like coffee or cocaine. > You argue that an increase in demand for a single product (bread) by wealthy > consumers can make poor consumers (of bread) worse off. This is certainly > true. A decrease in demand would make them better off. But unless there are > sharply increasing long run average costs of production, this phenomenon is > mostly temporary. The short run increase in demand will be followed by a > long run increase in supply. Yes, I do realize that your association of your ideology with your sense of self-worth is hindering your ability to follow a train of thought that will lead you down the road to an "unacceptable" conclusion, so let me try to help you along. Indeed what you have said is true in many ways, but the train of thought you have chosen (perhaps not consciously) to overlook is not the supply of bread, but the supply of labor. Note again that the argument deals not with the wealthy buying up all the bread, but with the wealthy "buying" labor to produce other (less important) things. Your argument about a long term increase in the supply of available labor (ie. population growth) does not apply - so long as there exists a wealthy class (whether as result of capitalism or not), there will be a disproportionate amount of labor producing for them than for everyone else, so long as they operate in the same market economy. The greater the wealth disparity, the greater the disproportion of what labor is being hired to do. > we can focus on the main reason why development in many countries occurs > unevenly... It is that the governments of many countries insulate some > industries from international trade. The producers and workers in those > industries become inefficient and non-adaptive by world standards. Again with the government intervention - the libertarian-capitalist obsession over this particular issue as a holy cure-all is rather amusing. Let me grant you a libertarian-capitalist paradise, let me grant you a nation with the most flexible labor force known to man, in fact, let me grant you all economies in the world with such flexibility - how then does the market deal with the international capitalist class (assuming their relative wealth is not harmed by such changes)? The wealthy one day decide that product X is what they want, the market instantly reacts to produce product X. The next day, they decide they don't want X anymore but want product Y, and the market is capable of instantly replacing its X production with that of Y. Sounds great, no? But since wealth disparity remains high, you'll have to admit that there will be people who are unable to buy everything the wealthy can buy, no matter how flexible the labor force is. This is because they cannot "buy" the same amount of labor that the wealthy have working for them. Again, the greater the spending disparity, the less resources the average employee will have devoted to producing goods and services for him. > To claim that gold is relatively useless is to substitute your value > judgment for the judgments of those who demand this product. It inserts > ethics into the analysis. Although many people might agree that gold is > relatively useless, many may disagree. Heavens, am I hearing subjectivity from objectivists? It is true that some people will appreciate some things more than others. However, you've once again missed the point of the argument. A poor man might also prefer a Gucci shoetree over a beautifully restored Third Reich Swizzle Stick, but before that, there are things that both the rich and the poor need to buy in order to survive. What they choose to buy after they have what they need to live is not important (even if it is gold) - but if the results of such economic activity (producing these less vital products) is taking resources (labor, energy, etc) away from the more vital economic sectors, leading to scarcity, starvation, frustration, and social unrest, well, that's a different story isn't it?
Date: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 11:36:39 -0700 From: "D. Gale" cyu@oz.net Organization: Dark Side of the Rainbow To: ipe@csf.colorado.edu CC: pgunning@aus.ac.ae Subject: Re: Isolationism or Trade? URL: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00553.html Patrick Gunning pgunning@aus.ac.ae wrote: > > Thus both an export economy and foreign currency should be used to build > > up economic independence, if true economic security is what your economy > > is after (though cooperative evolution would imply that a secondary goal > > would be to make sure your neighbors are able to help in times of natural > > disaster). > Do you mean to advocate isolationism? ...I cannot control the actions of my > grocer, from whom I buy my daily bread... I rely on what I know are the > incentives, in a free enterprise market economy... I believe that so long as > bread can be produced cheaply, a number of individuals will be willing to > supply it to me... In my view, isolationism in a world in which the global > trading system is vibrant and expanding is a recipe for poverty and a threat > to world peace. We've talked about your facile understanding of isolationism before at http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/ipe/2001/msg00228.html - again, it is not isolation that is the goal of economic independence, but rather achieving the ability to deal with other nations from a position of strength rather than weakness. It is not strength that forces slave owners to dominate their slaves, but rather it is weakness that forces them to do so, because they are unable to provide economically for themselves. A nation without need for other nations has little need to oppress or compete with them. However, this is not to say that even an apparently economically independent nation should cut itself off from the rest of the world - because world conditions fluctuate. While it may be fairly stable overall, random regional natural disasters means it would be in the interest of any independent region to live among other prosperous regions who have the ability to help. This is a key difference between competition-based and cooperation-based societies. Indeed I too rely on the fact that bread can be produced easily by someone who is not me. However, I am not blind to the fact that if someone else can pay more for the bread, or the labor producing the bread, then the supply of bread (or labor) available to me decreases. Thus, even an economy with a fairly even wealth distribution is not immune to the wealthy consumer effect if its trade is focused on trying to import vital goods. The source of these goods (let's say, wheat from Colombia) will be eliminated if a third-party wealthy consumer can pay Colombian farmers more to produce less vital goods like coffee or cocaine. Thus an alternative to international intervention in foreign economies is to build up domestic sources of vital goods, without which, one might argue, we would have "a recipe for poverty and a threat to world peace". > You define a speculative transaction as being irrational. I did not. Whether something is rational can differ across different scopes of time and space. What may be rational for me to do (on a personal financial basis - counterfeiting, for example) may not be rational with respect to the overall health economy if such actions were common. That is the distinction being drawn with respect to speculation. Again let's return to gold. If a commodity is relatively useless, it is irrational for the general economy to continue to produce and secure it. However, at the same time, it may be rational for a small section of population (the gold mining industry for example) to continue to promote its production. This is not to say that policy goals should be to destroy the gold mining industry without offering those involved in it alternative ways of making a living - that too would be irrational, because it would invite further irrationally defensive resistance. > central banks and governments do not back their notes with gold. And the > idea that selling gold would be self-defeating is strange indeed. It would > only be true if a single individual or bank owned the lion's share of the > gold and, only then, if the demand for its gold was inelastic. Where do you think the lion's share of gold is in the world? Central banks? Jewelry? Buried in personal vaults? You treat a bank as if were not made up of many individuals like multiple banks or a social class might be. If many central banks and the wealthy sell off their gold in unison, the effect would be the same. However, that and elastic/inelastic demand is beside the point. Demand is not "real" if those with large amounts of spending power (central banks, the wealthy, for example) are demanding something. Sure, I can demand a trip to the moon, but unless I have the money to spend, it doesn't register in the market. The more wealth is concentrated, the more the "value" of goods demanded by the wealthy is exaggerated.

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