Lunacy of economic growth

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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#21  Postby Jakov » Apr 05, 2013 9:59 pm

Loren Michael wrote:
Re: "Sustainable capitalism" that "does not require growth": How does this deal with increases in efficiency? I ask, because if efficiency is increased, then there will be growth unless steps are taken to prevent that growth. How does it deal with new products and services? Are the number of apps available for the iPhone to be capped? Do we ban new songs from being written?


I'd like to know this as well. It seems to me the no-growthers have chosen a roundabout way of achieving what they want. They probably won't achieve it without entirely changing capitalism.

So as far as I can see, there are two main causes of growth.
1) Technological development which reduces costs, which frees up capital that can be invested somewhere else and thus grow.
2) Hitting workers or the environment, obviously reduces costs as well, so capital is freed up and grows.

It seems to me the anti-growth people believe they can stop 2) by stopping growth, throwing the baby out with the bathwater they lose 1) as well.
Much better to attack 2) directly I think. But it's very difficult because when negative growth happens in a recession, owners of capital are very annoyed that their capital isn't growing so there's always the temptation to do 2) in order to restart growth instead of doing some actual work developing something new like in 1).
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#22  Postby Jakov » Apr 05, 2013 10:45 pm

Tomas Kringen wrote:
Jakov wrote:

Really? Under feudalism property was also respected. Is feudalism the same as capitalism then?


No property was not respected under feudalism.


Never mind.

Tomas Kringen wrote:


Why?


I'm sorry for not being specific my bad. You were wrong when you implied (thats how I read it) that capitalists doesnt work and someone else do all the hard work.


Let's take the example of a landlord. He owns property and lets it out to people. Once a month a certain amount of money arrives in his bank account. What work has the landlord done to earn that rent? What new thing has he produced that entitles him to hundreds of pounds each month?
Nothing, in my view. His rent does not come from any work, but because he owns and controls capital. He uses his ownership of property to steal his tenant's labour.

For 'he' replace with 'he or she' because of course women can be landlords too, not that a female landlord is any better than a male one.

You can replace landlord with banker, real property with money and rent with interest. The same point results.


Tomas Kringen wrote:

I don't know what poor socialists want, for I am not a socialist.
Capital does not work, capital owns. Labour does labouring. Individual humans who have some labour inside them will work, and that includes small business owners.


So if a capitalist opens up a factory, that requires no work?


The people who actually own the capital in this case are the banks who provide financial capital so that this factory can start up. The person who takes out a huge loan in order to buy a factory is just another kind of worker. The moneylenders who receive interest payments do absolutely no productive work and yet take an enormous cut.



Tomas Kringen wrote:Today most multinational companies are pretty good at everything from recycling to other things.

[..]


Just like eco/clean food is on the rise, so is "green" enterprise. I'd love to see a factory dump pollution in the river today (at least in Europe or where I live) and get away with it. Theres fracking in the US but thats on the US government. Now there is one thing I would like to say. If a corporation commits a crime today, it will only get fined. But that has nothing to do with capitalism, thats corrupt legal system. I'm all for heads rolling.


:rofl:

The biggest pollutants of our time are greenhouse gases. The problem of global warming and climate change is getting worse not better under capitalism.

Yeah sure, recycle and buy organic, that will stop the Earth cooking.



Tomas Kringen wrote:
The Soviet Union had many of the bad features of capitalism. A concentration of power, a class of rulers capable of arbitrary actions, a large exploited underclass, environmental destruction. The answer is neither capitalism nor Stalinism.


The answer is anarchy and capitalism.


I've seen a wide range of what my fellow humans can do. You have a rosey-coloured and naive view of what the world is like.


I didnt want to say it, but as an anarcho-capitalist I felt insulted. Capitalists are not evil people who only care about profits :cheers:


I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, I could say far worse.

Individual people may not only care about profits, but the capitalist class as a whole cares for nothing else. They're always looking over their shoulder at what market forces are doing, if they don't care about profits enough they will go out of business and no longer be part of the capitalist class.

So anarcho-capitalism...
There's a housing crisis in London at the moment. Too many people not enough homes. Imagine I organised 500 of my revolutionary friends to take over Buckingham Palace. We could each live in one room, the Queen can also live in one room.
Under anarcho-capitalism there's be no state, no police and no army to stop us? That sounds great, bring it on! :p

What about if a general strike is organised in the UK? Last time it happened in 1926 there were tanks and soldiers brought onto the streets in an effort to keep control. Under anarcho-capitalism there'd be no tanks so the general strike would win. Sounds great, bring it on! :p
A general strike was the method of choice in the Arab Spring, it brought down Mubarak and Ben Ali. They used tanks and soldiers of course but you can't keep down all the people all the time.
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#23  Postby Loren Michael » Apr 06, 2013 3:18 am

Steve wrote:I would not argue over your definitions of capitalism - no one cares. What matters is the United Nations who set the rules in the United Nations system of National Accounts. All nations have to conform to belong to the UN, to borrow from world banks. And that is a fucking mess. That is why poverty is ignored and Monsanto gets all the love and kisses.


Poverty is ignored because of the UN System of National Accounts? Really?

I think poverty is ignored because it's easy to ignore, and it's easy to invest in "solutions" that don't work.

I think Monsanto gets all the love and kisses because it's a money maker that invests in good products and good lobbyists.
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#24  Postby Steve » Apr 06, 2013 4:30 am

Loren Michael wrote:
Steve wrote:I would not argue over your definitions of capitalism - no one cares. What matters is the United Nations who set the rules in the United Nations system of National Accounts. All nations have to conform to belong to the UN, to borrow from world banks. And that is a fucking mess. That is why poverty is ignored and Monsanto gets all the love and kisses.


Poverty is ignored because of the UN System of National Accounts? Really?

I think poverty is ignored because it's easy to ignore, and it's easy to invest in "solutions" that don't work.

I think Monsanto gets all the love and kisses because it's a money maker that invests in good products and good lobbyists.

Wow. Just wow. The reason poverty is ignored is the same reason women's work is largely ignored - it doesn't get measured by the SNA. It does not factor in GDP.

Meanwhile Monsanto is getting massive subsidies in India in the form of land and natural resources as it will register as good for GDP. But it comes at a horrific cost to the Indian farmers who are going bankrupt, committing suicide and losing their land.

It is not just the lobbyists - that is secondary. The primary reason is how money gets meted out, which is according to what makes a good GDP. War is wonderful for GDP - you consume all this expensive stuff. Oil tanker crashes, car crashes - all great for the GDP. Go poking inside that link.

I got all this from watching the video in the OP, hearing the lady mention Marilyn Waring and googling her and watching the documentary that I linked. Just watch the video in the OP...
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#25  Postby Loren Michael » Apr 06, 2013 8:57 am

Steve wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:
Steve wrote:I would not argue over your definitions of capitalism - no one cares. What matters is the United Nations who set the rules in the United Nations system of National Accounts. All nations have to conform to belong to the UN, to borrow from world banks. And that is a fucking mess. That is why poverty is ignored and Monsanto gets all the love and kisses.


Poverty is ignored because of the UN System of National Accounts? Really?

I think poverty is ignored because it's easy to ignore, and it's easy to invest in "solutions" that don't work.

I think Monsanto gets all the love and kisses because it's a money maker that invests in good products and good lobbyists.

Wow. Just wow. The reason poverty is ignored is the same reason women's work is largely ignored - it doesn't get measured by the SNA. It does not factor in GDP.


I suppose if we're considering strawconomists who consider GDP and nothing else, that might be true. Do you have any evidence that this is the case?
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#26  Postby iamthereforeithink » Apr 06, 2013 9:37 am

Loren Michael wrote:
Re: "Sustainable capitalism" that "does not require growth": How does this deal with increases in efficiency? I ask, because if efficiency is increased, then there will be growth unless steps are taken to prevent that growth. How does it deal with new products and services? Are the number of apps available for the iPhone to be capped? Do we ban new songs from being written?


The issue is not growth, by itself. The key issue is WHAT is growing and HOW it is growing. The lady in the video is objecting to an exclusive focus on growth as measured by the supply of money in the economy. Money is an artificial instrument and does not contain any value, in itself. An increase in the supply of money in the economy does not necessarily mean that greater value has been created in the economy, and it certainly does not necessarily mean that greater value has been created for the world as a holistic ecosystem.

The lady in the video is not advocating that growth beneficial (or neutral) to humanity that naturally takes place as a result of increase in efficiency should be curtailed. She is specifically talking about the kind of economic growth that does not actually create net value for the world. Can you explain to me how the Monsanto non-reproducing genetically modified seeds are creating net value for the world? Non-GM seeds would naturally yield more seeds from cotton plants, thus naturally "growing" the economy and increasing the prosperity of farmers, but without any incremental benefit to the likes of Monsanto. Instead, Monsanto's GM seeds create a razor-blade model for Monsanto, where Monsanto "grows" but the total ecosystem becomes worse off.

Not sure where you were going with the iPhone apps and new songs. The lady is not advocating, for example, that kids be prevented from growing up or trees be prevented from growing beyond a certain height.
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#27  Postby Loren Michael » Apr 06, 2013 10:08 am

iamthereforeithink wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:
Re: "Sustainable capitalism" that "does not require growth": How does this deal with increases in efficiency? I ask, because if efficiency is increased, then there will be growth unless steps are taken to prevent that growth. How does it deal with new products and services? Are the number of apps available for the iPhone to be capped? Do we ban new songs from being written?


The issue is not growth, by itself. The key issue is WHAT is growing and HOW it is growing. The lady in the video is objecting to an exclusive focus on growth as measured by the supply of money in the economy. Money is an artificial instrument and does not contain any value, in itself. An increase in the supply of money in the economy does not necessarily mean that greater value has been created in the economy, and it certainly does not necessarily mean that greater value has been created for the world as a holistic ecosystem.

The lady in the video is not advocating that growth beneficial (or neutral) to humanity that naturally takes place as a result of increase in efficiency should be curtailed. She is specifically talking about the kind of economic growth that does not actually create net value for the world. Can you explain to me how the Monsanto non-reproducing genetically modified seeds are creating net value for the world? Non-GM seeds would naturally yield more seeds from cotton plants, thus naturally "growing" the economy and increasing the prosperity of farmers, but without any incremental benefit to the likes of Monsanto. Instead, Monsanto's GM seeds create a razor-blade model for Monsanto, where Monsanto "grows" but the total ecosystem becomes worse off.


That sounds a bit more reasonable, but I'd still dispute the terms. "Growth" is ultimately the desired thing, insofar as it enables most other desired things. It's wrong to focus on growth as a problem.

Insofar as a lot of economic activity is created via abuses of a broken IP law system, I think that's a huge problem, and insofar as that activity is calculated into GDP, that's a problem of how growth is measured.

Not sure where you were going with the iPhone apps and new songs. The lady is not advocating, for example, that kids be prevented from growing up or trees be prevented from growing beyond a certain height.


Growth includes new products and services. That's going to include new songs and new software. Insofar as one's goal is to prevent growth, those are things that need to be addressed somehow, as they contribute to growth.
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#28  Postby iamthereforeithink » Apr 06, 2013 10:41 am

Loren Michael wrote:That sounds a bit more reasonable, but I'd still dispute the terms. "Growth" is ultimately the desired thing, insofar as it enables most other desired things. It's wrong to focus on growth as a problem.


I would again emphasize the WHAT and HOW of growth. Not all growth is good. It's important to focus on whether the growth of something is creating net, sustainable value for the world. That's not something that can be said for a lot of current economic activity that's leading to economic growth. You talked about growth as a result of efficiency increases. Here is an example of such growth, from today's news:

http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/mcafee/2013/04 ... -shri.html

So while 3000 people became unemployed, efficiency increased and greater shareholder value for created for UTC shareholders. And perhaps the newly created money trickled down to other providers of goods and services. But wait a minute, there are fewer and fewer people providing these goods and services, because economic activity in general requires fewer people than before. So income distribution becomes more and more skewed. What do these people no longer engaged in economic activity do to sustain themselves? Possibly new economic activity that "grows" the economy, while consuming even more of the earth's resources? Where does such growth end? What might it eventually lead to?
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#29  Postby Loren Michael » Apr 06, 2013 10:57 am

iamthereforeithink wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:That sounds a bit more reasonable, but I'd still dispute the terms. "Growth" is ultimately the desired thing, insofar as it enables most other desired things. It's wrong to focus on growth as a problem.


I would again emphasize the WHAT and HOW of growth. Not all growth is good. It's important to focus on whether the growth of something is creating net, sustainable value for the world. That's not something that can be said for a lot of current economic activity that's leading to economic growth.


I'll agree with that. Growth that sabotages the prospects for future growth is extremely problematic. See any tragedy of the commons, for example. This is why I'd prefer managed growth guided by laws that prevents that kind of outcome.

You talked about growth as a result of efficiency increases. Here is an example of such growth, from today's news:

http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/mcafee/2013/04 ... -shri.html

So while 3000 people became unemployed, efficiency increased and greater shareholder value for created for UTC shareholders. And perhaps the newly created money trickled down to other providers of goods and services. But wait a minute, there are fewer and fewer people providing these goods and services, because economic activity in general requires fewer people than before. So income distribution becomes more and more skewed. What do these people no longer engaged in economic activity do to sustain themselves? Possibly new economic activity that "grows" the economy, while consuming even more of the earth's resources? Where does such growth end? What might it eventually lead to?


Possibly new economic activity that grows the economy, yes (ideally), which may or may not consume the earth's resources. Certainly, it would consume people's time.

As to where it all leads, I imagine that the world will gradually shift to people doing less manufacturing and more services. That's where everything seems to be going. To the extent that policies hinder that kind of development (see: IP law that penalizes people/makes it very difficult to break into a large chunk of the service industry), those are huge problems. To the extent that there is a large group of people who have skills that don't match the current demand, that's also a problem. I'd advocate a lot of investment in subsidized education and unemployment insurance to resolve that problem.
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#30  Postby Steve » Apr 06, 2013 2:49 pm

Loren Michael wrote:
Wow. Just wow. The reason poverty is ignored is the same reason women's work is largely ignored - it doesn't get measured by the SNA. It does not factor in GDP.


I suppose if we're considering strawconomists who consider GDP and nothing else, that might be true. Do you have any evidence that this is the case?[/quote]
Just World Bank and all the sources of international money. Other than that you can play in your sand pit to your hearts content. To be clear, I did not know this before I started reading this thread. I got curious after watching the OP video and looked at the video about Marilyn Waring who became a Member of Parliament in NZ in the mid 70's. I remember her - she was a bit of a puzzle but smart as hell. Anyway she ran up against it - as she was trained in how to do her job she would ask why things were done that way. Eventually she traveled to the US to see these documents for herself. She dropped out of politics to be a feminist and activist and see what she could do about how this document measures things. She felt it would make sense to measure how much time people spent at tasks as that seemed to be a lot more equitable and sensible. You can watch the video at the link I left for the case she makes, plus an explanation of why this document is such a piece of shit, yet it is what rules our economic life. It explains why a disaster is so good for GDP - tons of stuff gets used up and new stuff bought. There is no measure of the impact on lives, or even the loss of life. Life is irrelevant.

And no, it is not just GDP. That document lists how all economic indicators should be measured. It is whacko. I am considering taking this to a Daily Kos group who meet tonight and ask them about it.
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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#31  Postby the_5th_ape » Apr 06, 2013 4:49 pm

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Re: Lunacy of economic growth

#32  Postby Steve » Apr 06, 2013 7:11 pm

iamthereforeithink wrote:
Loren Michael wrote:That sounds a bit more reasonable, but I'd still dispute the terms. "Growth" is ultimately the desired thing, insofar as it enables most other desired things. It's wrong to focus on growth as a problem.


I would again emphasize the WHAT and HOW of growth. Not all growth is good. It's important to focus on whether the growth of something is creating net, sustainable value for the world. That's not something that can be said for a lot of current economic activity that's leading to economic growth. You talked about growth as a result of efficiency increases. Here is an example of such growth, from today's news:

http://blogs.hbr.org/hbr/mcafee/2013/04 ... -shri.html

So while 3000 people became unemployed, efficiency increased and greater shareholder value for created for UTC shareholders. And perhaps the newly created money trickled down to other providers of goods and services. But wait a minute, there are fewer and fewer people providing these goods and services, because economic activity in general requires fewer people than before. So income distribution becomes more and more skewed. What do these people no longer engaged in economic activity do to sustain themselves? Possibly new economic activity that "grows" the economy, while consuming even more of the earth's resources? Where does such growth end? What might it eventually lead to?


Again - idle people are not counted as a cost as no money changes hands. This is not a capital issue so much as one of the model used. There has to be a value attached to resources. Clean air, clean water, minerals, public health, public education are all things of value that do not get measured and thus get no voice in economic models. The voice they get, as much as they get one, is through legislative rules that establish standards and reserves.

So as far as a "no growth" capitalist model might work it could do so through having to operate within these regulatory limits. Within that they can get as efficient as they like. But if the state decides public health must meet certain standards and folks are becoming unemployed and consequently less healthy that would require compensation in some manner. In general I think efficiency is good, but as they say, when was the last time you sold a robot a car, house, new shoes etc?

In the end I think the solution lies in legislation.

Meanwhile I also think there might be some other indicators that could be measured besides money.
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