Is there another way?

Amongst all the hysteria and real pain caused by the last forty years of 'conservative' misrule and such, the basic failure of established 'economic theory' now coming to a head with the 'meltdown' new voices are being hear. Voices that question the basic goals and models government uses as it tries to manage and promote economic activity.

One particularly interesting 'movement' created a story in my paper just recently :

'Economists appraise Bhutan's happiness model' where people from all over the world met and raised the question of what it is that we should measure about our society that would give us a good insight into what is happening to folks in their total environment not just that restricted to 'economics' much less all the blather about how a higher GDP is a good thing. There are many indicators that a bigger GDP means very little to the average person and indeed can be a harmful goal to attempt to reach for society as a whole.

 

'Sustainable' is the new black but how can we build a sustainable society when the very structure of our economic system works against same? This is the subject of

'A Steady State Economy' by Professor Herman Daly and a read of this offers some ideas about what needs to be done in terms of structural reform to our economy.

 

I find it no accident that every 60 to 75 years our much vaunted economy self-destructs and while I am of  the tribe which views certain segments of the political and business community as my natural enemies there is more to this periodic failure than Republicans vs. Democrats, deficits vs. surplus and the latest buzz-words 'regulation' and 'bailouts'

 

Read these linked posts and see what you think.

 

 

 

 

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Herman Daly

Has some great research in this area. I listed his papers on our studies page.

What I especially like about him is he sticks to the real statistics in his analysis.

One of those truly innovative policy, analysis people who of course gets ignored in D.C. and who should not be ignored!

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I'm all for a Steady State Economy

But I find it interesting that the basic assumption of what an economy is for is completely different.

America's basic axiom, upon which all else has rested since the Revolution, has been "Liberty is more important than human life". This naturally leads to all sorts of "my choices are more important than yours" pro-choice behavior, not the least being our economic system, where personal profit is king.

In contrast, a stable state economy starts with the axiom "It is the primary duty of governments to support the general welfare of their citizens"- sometimes to the destruction of private choice, when those private choices endanger the ability of other citizens to survive. This is very much a big-brother, Holy Father anti-choice government; where your future is subordinate to your duty to your fellow citizens, including your ability to make a profit.

I just want to make clear the way I see this- to me, liberty is useless without human life, and the choice to be rich in material wealth instead of rich in family life is not a choice that I believe is valid. But when YOUR choice to be rich affects MY choice to have grandchildren, it's time to rethink the whole bloody system.

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Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

Localization is good, the smaller the better

2nd response after reading the Bhutan article:

Part of this mirrors an assertion I've made recently: that macro economics in general simply breaks down past two degrees of separation between participants. Any more than two degrees of separation between producer and consumer invites all sorts of fraud to spring up between them; the anonymity of the stock market is often a barrier to proper assignment of moral blame and credit.

Bhutan, being such a small country, just might be succeeding in this because they *are* a small country- a half-million inhabitants (ok, plus 100k) would indicate no more than three degrees of separation to begin with- and the very real chance that the con artist will find among his in-laws people he has conned, which would make family reunions very hard.

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Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.

You make a good point...

...and it is one that 'classical' economists make also.

My other comments and posts about what it means for a hairy hominid who spent millions of years evolving in groups of 50 to assemble in hordes in the hundreds of millions raise this question also.

But the fact remains that we are assembled into these large groups. The challenge is to find a way to do this without destroying ourselves or the planet.

'The Rule of Law' is just such an effort. 'The Enlightenment' also. We see attacks on both these by individuals and groups who would put their gains above others. That they have been successful, to me, means the average citizen isn't paying attention. A problem when we have such a distraction oriented society and no accident that.

My self I like small groups but the absolute necessity for finding a way for large groups to live in harmony remains.

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'When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.'

An idea I've had

And we're probably about to get smacked by Robert just for talking about something other than economics, but what the hey:

Reverse the rule of law. Subsidarity first, Solidarity second.

That is, make the neighborhood association ordinance the absolute, unapealable rule of law. For that which the neighborhood association can't provide, let the city make an ordinance about. Then the county, then the state. Finally, no law at the federal level can countermand a law at a lower level.

That brings the "local" and "small" back. And it means that if Wal*Mart wants to build a store in your town, they have to pay the local protectionist tariffs to bring in their goods, protecting the small shopkeeper whose relatives on the neighborhood council set the tariffs to begin with.

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Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.