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 Post subject: Morality and Economics
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:35 pm 
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Economic Update: Morality and Economics

http://www.democracyatwork.info/eu_mora ... _economics

How does morality and economics get mixed up together? Profits, as everybody knows, is the first law of the jungle.
Market Forces, all about market forces. Economist hide details with blanket expressions that mean nothing. If you want morality, go to church.
As Prof. Wolff says, we shouldn't be surprised, when a small elite are allowed to run enterprises and take most of the money for themselves, it is maintained in all of society. For example of how it penetrates society and is maintained, 82% of Oxford admissions and 81% of Cambridge University come from the top 2 socio-economic class, which is up from 79% five years ago. The richest people get special access to the institutions which keep them the richest, generation after generation. Oxford stood out, there were no black students admitted.

That may surprise you.

My own short summary is below in case you don't want to listen for an hour to the lecture.

ONE:
Growing jobs: Personal Health Aids and Personal Care Aids.
A reflection of our widening-gap-of-income economy.
Remember "The Remains of the Day", that is where the economy is headed.

Greater factor in early death than obesity: Loneliness is a serious problem and is going to get worse.

TWO:
The Senate freeing banks from their regulatory rules. Consumer Protection Agency rule change allowing Banks arbitration protection against consumer lawsuits.

THREE:
Rotten food pills for poor people get a tax break in Brazil.

FOUR:
Study shows Pollution Kills 9 Million People Per Year.
That is Pollution: Kills more people than all of the wars, and all the violence, smoking, hunger, natural disasters, AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Combined.
Why is it that it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves? It costs 4.6 Trillion dollars to the economy, in addition, so the political conservatives are not so good at arithmetic because it hurts industry's profits.
It is just another example of conservatives following a course of capitalism gone wild so far that it hasn't got a bit of sense.

Conservatives need a new school, in my mind, because it isn't possible to teach morality of economics to them.

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Last edited by TheFox on Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:45 pm 
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war economy eclipses human needs

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:49 pm 
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war economy eclipses human needs

Speaking of morality and war adds a new dimension to this thread.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:53 pm 
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A couple of things...

There is no such thing as a free market nor is there such a thing as market forces. All that exists are transactions between parties. These transactions take place within boundaries guided by rules and regulations. The transactions are between parties composed of human beings even though they may be between social constructs such as corporations or government entities. At some point humans make the decision(s). A so-called free market merely means that one party or parties wishes to have the rules, regulations and boundaries in their favor as they wield information asymmetry putting their counter-party or parties at a disadvantage.

Market forces aka let the market decide is a fallacy as only humans decide something. To borrow from I forget whom humans will always truck and bargain. This may be true but the aggregation of humans called society working through the organizational tool known as government most certainly can and should establish the boundaries, rules and regulations of the transactions.

The right likes to chirp about central planning and picking winners. Yet, picking winners is precisely what is wanted by the free marketolaters in the form of bailouts, subsidies and protection from competition from low wage states. Indeed protection allows growth and development of new economies and economies that are making major shifts such as moving to green energy. As for central planning the corporation is the prime example of central planning. The only questions in central planning are is it effective and cui bono. Benefit, if effectively and efficiently achieved, going to the lower 4 quintiles is determined to be bad because the top quintile does not benefit. Thus government can and should make appropriate adjustments to insure the boundaries, rules and regulations minimize asymmetry and maximize benefit to the greatest number of people. A good first step would be the elimination of management stock options to decouple performance from share price.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:03 pm 
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Too me I have an equation that I use, that which is life affirming is moral.
It is a guide I use through my life to help me ponder through life’s questions.

Again, too me, capitalism is not moral. It has one result, which is the exhaustion of resources in the pursuit of more. Capitalism does not have a mechanism for balance, it can only be sustained by growth.

I realize that my views can construed as “unamerican” and I am happy to be labeled as such. I have spent 30+ years on the treadmill in the trivial pursuit of more, and find that the happiness that I have enjoyed in life has little to do the acquisition of things, or the pursuit of more.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:55 pm 
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Too me I have an equation that I use, that which is life affirming is moral.
It is a guide I use through my life to help me ponder through life’s questions.

Again, too me, capitalism is not moral. It has one result, which is the exhaustion of resources in the pursuit of more. Capitalism does not have a mechanism for balance, it can only be sustained by growth.

I realize that my views can construed as “unamerican” and I am happy to be labeled as such. I have spent 30+ years on the treadmill in the trivial pursuit of more, and find that the happiness that I have enjoyed in life has little to do the acquisition of things, or the pursuit of more.

Madison Avenue hasn't cracked you, yet. They want you to not be satisfied with what you have and buy a shiny new one. Cars are beautiful things. Even old ones.

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Last edited by TheFox on Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:30 pm 
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Too me I have an equation that I use, that which is life affirming is moral.
It is a guide I use through my life to help me ponder through life’s questions.

Again, too me, capitalism is not moral. It has one result, which is the exhaustion of resources in the pursuit of more. Capitalism does not have a mechanism for balance, it can only be sustained by growth.

I realize that my views can construed as “unamerican” and I am happy to be labeled as such. I have spent 30+ years on the treadmill in the trivial pursuit of more, and find that the happiness that I have enjoyed in life has little to do the acquisition of things, or the pursuit of more.

“Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” - Kenneth Boulding

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:08 pm 
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A couple of things...

There is no such thing as a free market nor is there such a thing as market forces. All that exists are transactions between parties. These transactions take place within boundaries guided by rules and regulations. The transactions are between parties composed of human beings even though they may be between social constructs such as corporations or government entities. At some point humans make the decision(s). A so-called free market merely means that one party or parties wishes to have the rules, regulations and boundaries in their favor as they wield information asymmetry putting their counter-party or parties at a disadvantage.

Market forces aka let the market decide is a fallacy as only humans decide something. To borrow from I forget whom humans will always truck and bargain. This may be true but the aggregation of humans called society working through the organizational tool known as government most certainly can and should establish the boundaries, rules and regulations of the transactions.

The right likes to chirp about central planning and picking winners. Yet, picking winners is precisely what is wanted by the free marketolaters in the form of bailouts, subsidies and protection from competition from low wage states. Indeed protection allows growth and development of new economies and economies that are making major shifts such as moving to green energy. As for central planning the corporation is the prime example of central planning. The only questions in central planning are is it effective and cui bono. Benefit, if effectively and efficiently achieved, going to the lower 4 quintiles is determined to be bad because the top quintile does not benefit. Thus government can and should make appropriate adjustments to insure the boundaries, rules and regulations minimize asymmetry and maximize benefit to the greatest number of people. A good first step would be the elimination of management stock options to decouple performance from share price.

Market forces doesn't say anything. It includes greed, exploitation of every resource, even fraud or rolling the dice with all your life's savings. Who holds the purse calls the tune and gets more benefits even while young people die fighting wars for their profits.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:50 am 
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Too me I have an equation that I use, that which is life affirming is moral.
It is a guide I use through my life to help me ponder through life’s questions.

Again, too me, capitalism is not moral. It has one result, which is the exhaustion of resources in the pursuit of more. Capitalism does not have a mechanism for balance, it can only be sustained by growth.

I realize that my views can construed as “unamerican” and I am happy to be labeled as such. I have spent 30+ years on the treadmill in the trivial pursuit of more, and find that the happiness that I have enjoyed in life has little to do the acquisition of things, or the pursuit of more.


So what would you replace capitalism with. It seems to me that in our capitalist system we all the choice to work more or want less. Unless I am missing something is there any other economic system where a person can do the things we can under ours.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:05 am 
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So what would you replace capitalism with. It seems to me that in our capitalist system we all the choice to work more or want less. Unless I am missing something is there any other economic system where a person can do the things we can under ours.

Glen, you miss the point. Capitalism is a political economy where the means of production, generally, are in private hands and a stable legal system exists that protects private property rights. But you have fallen for the same trap as Von Hayek and Friedman. That does not equal freedom nor is it the only consideration or factor. Smith, in writing “The Wealth of Nations”, basically took a static, backward looking picture and projected into the future. Among the things missing in his theology was the impact of money and a financial system as well as what could happen when a political economy financializes. Otoh, Smith was a moralist and he noted that collusion among “merchants”, better described as capital would appear and it does in the form of consolidation, influence/distortion in the political process via contributions, distortion of the regulations and rules under which the boundaries are enforced for transactions to occur and lastly, wage suppression. Marx is very useful as is Veblen and Minsky for analysis of the faults inherent in capitalism. However Marx is not so useful for solutions. Keynes and Minsky are much better as are Ha-Joon Chang, Duncan Foley, Richard Thaler and others. Well regulated capitalism combined with social programs achieves much better results than the pure theology of Von Hayek and Friedman.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:10 am 
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Market forces doesn't say anything. It includes greed, exploitation of every resource, even fraud or rolling the dice with all your life's savings. Who holds the purse calls the tune and gets more benefits even while young people die fighting wars for their profits.
I won’t argue that. Market forces or let the market decide are obfuscatory terms that tell us nothing. Capitalism is, as I note in my response to Glen, a static, backward looking picture projected into the future. It says nothing about much if not most of what a political economy entails and how a society using government must organize itself.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:45 am 
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Glen, you miss the point. Capitalism is a political economy where the means of production, generally, are in private hands and a stable legal system exists that protects private property rights. But you have fallen for the same trap as Von Hayek and Friedman. That does not equal freedom nor is it the only consideration or factor. Smith, in writing “The Wealth of Nations”, basically took a static, backward looking picture and projected into the future. Among the things missing in his theology was the impact of money and a financial system as well as what could happen when a political economy financializes. Otoh, Smith was a moralist and he noted that collusion among “merchants”, better described as capital would appear and it does in the form of consolidation, influence/distortion in the political process via contributions, distortion of the regulations and rules under which the boundaries are enforced for transactions to occur and lastly, wage suppression. Marx is very useful as is Veblen and Minsky for analysis of the faults inherent in capitalism. However Marx is not so useful for solutions. Keynes and Minsky are much better as are Ha-Joon Chang, Duncan Foley, Richard Thaler and others. Well regulated capitalism combined with social programs achieves much better results than the pure theology of Von Hayek and Friedman.

8-)
Now, could you dumb that down for the Fox Nooze fans so's they could understand it?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:54 am 
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8-)
Now, could you dumb that down for the Fox Nooze fans so's they could understand it?

Rich people will buy politicians, buy up competitor companies and destroy them with debt, demand deregulation and plead poor when it comes to raises for their employees?

Nah, probably not enough.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:18 am 
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Rich people will buy politicians, buy up competitor companies and destroy them with debt, demand deregulation and plead poor when it comes to raises for their employees?

Nah, probably not enough.


Agreed. They'd first have to accept the fact that Capitalism has flaws.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:07 pm 
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Glen, you miss the point. Capitalism is a political economy where the means of production, generally, are in private hands and a stable legal system exists that protects private property rights. But you have fallen for the same trap as Von Hayek and Friedman. That does not equal freedom nor is it the only consideration or factor. Smith, in writing “The Wealth of Nations”, basically took a static, backward looking picture and projected into the future. Among the things missing in his theology was the impact of money and a financial system as well as what could happen when a political economy financializes. Otoh, Smith was a moralist and he noted that collusion among “merchants”, better described as capital would appear and it does in the form of consolidation, influence/distortion in the political process via contributions, distortion of the regulations and rules under which the boundaries are enforced for transactions to occur and lastly, wage suppression. Marx is very useful as is Veblen and Minsky for analysis of the faults inherent in capitalism. However Marx is not so useful for solutions. Keynes and Minsky are much better as are Ha-Joon Chang, Duncan Foley, Richard Thaler and others. Well regulated capitalism combined with social programs achieves much better results than the pure theology of Von Hayek and Friedman.


+++++

I'm not usually one to quote Reason/The Vatican of the Free-Market Worshipping Faithful, but you might like this article on Max Weber and that "Protestant ethic" of his. I was going to put this in the Niebuhr thread because he and his brother were in part responding to these ideas, which as you regularly point out, are basically just more theologies. But it's better suited in this thread, I think.

Max Weber Was Wrong

Quote:
That his book is "great" does not mean it is correct, or is to be taken as good history or good economics or good theology.

Max Weber, the north German economist, proud reserve officer in the Kaiser's army, literal dueler with academic opponents, and co-founder of modern sociology, sits on every college reading list for his 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. If you didn't read it in college, it's time to turn off the TV, Google it, and do so. It's a stunning performance, one of my top 100 nonfiction books of the 20th century. The book is brilliant, readable, short. (By the way, henceforth you should exhibit your sophistication by pronouncing his name correctly. It's "VAY-ber," not like the "WEB-er" hamburger grill you've just put away for the year. You get extra points for saying "Max" in echt deutsch: "Maahx," not like "Mad Max.")

Others of the stunning 100 include Joseph Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), John Maynard Keynes' The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (1949), and Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983). If you don't know such books, you don't know much, and you really need to get going.

But that a book is "great" does not mean it is correct, or is to be taken as good history or good economics or good theology. Marx's Das Kapital is indubitably a great book, one of the very greatest of the 19th century, as I say to annoyed friends of libertarian or conservative bent. But then I say to my left-wing friends, annoying them too, that Marx was wrong on almost every point of economics, history, and politics. Which is why I haven't got any friends.


lol.

Quote:
So what's wrong with Weber's argument? First we need the argument. (Reading this summary is not an excuse for skipping the actual book.) Weber thinks that there is such a thing as, to use the Marxist word, modern "capitalism," originating in the 16th century. By capitalism he means, as the name implies, the focused accumulation of capital in masses. The focused accumulation, he says, depends on ample saving and hard work, characteristic of the Protestant north Germans as against the lazy, Catholic Bavarians.

How to get the ample saving and hard work? Spirit, Geist, runs things, he says (and I do too). He claims that the doctrine of salvation put forward by John Calvin emerged as the new spirit's engine. People saved and worked because they wanted to prove to themselves that they were in fact among the few "elect," predestined since the beginning by an omniscient God to be saved from hell's fire.

It is a theory about psychology, applicable Weber claimed even to the world-enjoying descendants of Calvinists, such as our own Benjamin Franklin. Weber took the comical speech Franklin wrote for Poor Richard's Almanac in the person of wise Father Abraham—"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise"—to be exactly what Franklin believed. No one lacking a sense of humor should venture on interpreting Franklin.


Anyway, it's a fun read.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:41 pm 
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Glen, you miss the point. Capitalism is a political economy where the means of production, generally, are in private hands and a stable legal system exists that protects private property rights. But you have fallen for the same trap as Von Hayek and Friedman. That does not equal freedom nor is it the only consideration or factor. Smith, in writing “The Wealth of Nations”, basically took a static, backward looking picture and projected into the future. Among the things missing in his theology was the impact of money and a financial system as well as what could happen when a political economy financializes. Otoh, Smith was a moralist and he noted that collusion among “merchants”, better described as capital would appear and it does in the form of consolidation, influence/distortion in the political process via contributions, distortion of the regulations and rules under which the boundaries are enforced for transactions to occur and lastly, wage suppression. Marx is very useful as is Veblen and Minsky for analysis of the faults inherent in capitalism. However Marx is not so useful for solutions. Keynes and Minsky are much better as are Ha-Joon Chang, Duncan Foley, Richard Thaler and others. Well regulated capitalism combined with social programs achieves much better results than the pure theology of Von Hayek and Friedman.

Dealing with the real world poses a problem for any economic solution to capitalism. Prof. Wolff, a prominent Marxist economist, recommends denouncing capitalism all together. Capitalism held in check by regulations and compensated by social programs are easily (and as we see quickly) undone by the economic influence of the wealthy. It is, of course, the least we can do to lasso the immorality and greed that it invites. Prof. Wolff would argue that it is better not to give the ownership or control of production to a small group of people in the first place. Coops are successful and a growing alternative to the powerful corporation's top down business structure, which has successful whittled down unions nearly out of existence. I am all for knocking down capitalism from its exalted throne of public opinion which views it as a religious doctrine.

While we are focusing on morality, capitalism is putting greed somewhere in the ten commandments. It is really shameful.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:09 pm 
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Das Kapital is actually a pretty good analysis of the functioning of the industrial system that existed in his time. It's not as relevant when Marxism draws on German philosophy, to propose a utopia in the future once the class struggles have dialectically run their course.

The free market, of course, doesn't exist. It would be like saying the people moving about the theater screen do so independently, and we're looking in at their lives from an omniscient point of view. No, they are projected from a booth in the back of the room. The free market, if defined as one where supply and demand set prices, requires whole thick books of rules, and is best done in exchanges under very tightly controlled conditions, by people with years of training. It's an inherent contradiction, where constraints on freedom create the illusion of same. But all we see are the figures on the screen.

Capitalism went off the rails a long time ago, but we didn't notice until they let banks own brokerages. The problem with laissez-faire capitalism is that it tends toward chaos, because it self-destructs. It ODs on its own assumptions. We're in one of those right now.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:39 pm 
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I often talk about Weber and his book The Protestant Ethic in my course.

In essence, it is an attempt to answer a historical question. I think that despite the book's flaws, the question still deserves answering. There's no doubt that if you look at the rise of capitalism, it first takes hold earlier and stronger in north-western Europe. There is a strong overlap between the countries which go capitalist first, and which countries more strongly embraced the Protestant Reformation (like Britain and Germany) ... which were not the southern, central, and eastern European ones. (Some were also not Catholic, but were not-Protestant dominated, either. They were Eastern Orthodox.)

So along comes Weber with a weird argument. Apparently, it all has to do with predestination, Calvinism, the Elect, and its doctrine of salvation somehow transmogrifying from the next world to this one. Basically, people increasingly take hard work and saving money as proof of being saved. They thus accumulate capital. This leads to the rise of capitalism. OK, this is way too much the Cliff Notes version, and I've left out how this also relates to the rationalization and bureaucratization of society, the disappearance of traditional authority and the rise of contractual, etc., which is also related to this.

You have to understand Weber is also attempting this argument as a way of challenging Marx. Weber redefines social class, where Marx saw it as your relationship to the means/modes/relations of production, Weber actually redefines it the way most people use it today: as a synthesis of wealth/income, social power, and social rank or status. Then he writes the Protestant Ethic, to challenge Marx's historical materialism, that says social change only emerges from material conditions and structures. Part of the argument in the Protestant Ethic is Weber telling Marxians that changes in ideology (such as the Protestant Reformation) can create social/material change (the rise of capitalism).

In many ways, I think few people bought Weber's argument of how this all happened when he first suggested it in the 19th century, let alone today. Calvinism? Where and when does predestination become salvation through capital accumulation? That the argument of how this happened is flawed may not mean that Weber wasn't correct on another point - there still is some relationship between where the Protestant Reformation occurs and where capitalism rises. Maybe somebody needs to come up with a better theory? :mrgreen: I think it might have to do with third variables.

As for flaws in Marx, well, yeah, the bottom line remains while he was probably one of the best people at explaining the contradictions of capitalism (along with confere Friedrich Engels, of course), his model of a solution and what would happen in the next century were way off. He was the first to argue for the revolutionary vanguard and the dictatorship of the proletariat, so in a way, you can really only blame Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and the Bolsheviks for taking some already bad ideas and making them worse ... the bottom line is LaSalle and others may have based social democracy on Marx, but Marx never accepted anything other than proletarian revolution as the solution. He rejected bourgeois parliamentary or multiparty democracy. Of course, he also thought that the dictatorship of the proletariat would just be a phase, and then under communism, the state would wither away, and the end of history and classless utopia would prevail.

That shit never happened. Not in China, not in the Soviet Union, and for sure, not in North Korea.

He also thought the Communist revolution would take place first in the advanced industrial (and Protestant, BTW) countries of England and Germany. He never predicted that it would first occur in some peasant societies in Russia or Asia (which he felt was constrained by "Oriental despotism," anyway.)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:30 pm 
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Russia is just about the last place Marx would have expected the revolution.

The Protestant Ethic is of course very significant. Indeed, the European economic theories did tend to secularize religious doctrines in many cases. I don't see this as the cause of the emergence of capitalism any more than you do, but I see an affinity for sure. It provided a favorable moral environment.

There's also something to do with England and its industrialization, with people coming to see the accumulation of wealth as a second aristocracy available to more people than those born to titles. Some of the same grace of God stuff gets mixed up in it, and status tends to equal wealth. You see this all through the English language, where nearly all of the words used to define personal worth also define associated financial states. Rich, poor, high, low, and of course one's "net worth." To name very few. I went down the whole list once, and it was a pretty long one.

This of course transplants to North America. After that, the US contribution to all this seems to be the de facto life peerages given to successful performers and athletes.

Maybe I need to sit in on your lectures.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:54 pm 
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Russia is just about the last place Marx would have expected the revolution.

The Protestant Ethic is of course very significant. Indeed, the European economic theories did tend to secularize religious doctrines in many cases. I don't see this as the cause of the emergence of capitalism any more than you do, but I see an affinity for sure. It provided a favorable moral environment.

There's also something to do with England and its industrialization, with people coming to see the accumulation of wealth as a second aristocracy available to more people than those born to titles. Some of the same grace of God stuff gets mixed up in it, and status tends to equal wealth. You see this all through the English language, where nearly all of the words used to define personal worth also define associated financial states. Rich, poor, high, low, and of course one's "net worth." To name very few. I went down the whole list once, and it was a pretty long one.

This of course transplants to North America. After that, the US contribution to all this seems to be the de facto life peerages given to successful performers and athletes.

Maybe I need to sit in on your lectures.

I wouldn’t doubt that the rise of Protestantism which shifted the requirement of belief in the Roman church dogma and required support of the Roman church along with its imprimatur for ruling as well commercial transactions contributed to the rise of primitive accumulation. I also agree that industrialization which developed division of labor as noted by Smith contributed as well.

I also wonder how much the Treaty of Westphalia and the development of the nation-state played a role. Countries needed bureaucracies as well for revenue generation/collection as power shifted from divine right to parliaments. A middle class which would arise as the concept of labor would provide a broader tax base possibly than the wealthy who were the previous nobility. Of course wage suppression would follow but again capital would weigh the strain on social relations caused by both accumulation and wage suppression. That they tend to misread the strain is obvious.

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bird's theorem-"we the people" are stupid.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:01 pm 
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On a side note, despite Steve Forbes’ stupidity markets are not moral. They are amoral or rather they are only as moral as human beings since human beings make the decisions. And government is not immoral or unmoral either. Government is amoral. Again only humans can be moral. And the definition of moral is movable.

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bird's theorem-"we the people" are stupid.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:22 pm 
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The other aspect to Weber's book is the rationalization of society. Essentially, social bonds under feudalism were primarily loyalty based, people swear oaths to each other. Protestantism shattered the old feudal order, and thus led to the rise of new social relationships based on contract (which are short term and specific) rather than loyalty. In traditional societies like Japan, there is still this idea that workers are like family members, and thus you have a long term commitment to them. You take care of them. But in bureaucratic, contractual societies like we have in "the west," workers are just a disposable asset, kind of like ... widgets.

I would say "Let the markets decide" is just a form of curious anthropomorphism and/or reification. Markets do not have human or any other kind of consciousness ... they do not think, they do not decide ... they are just systems made up of interacting human buyers and sellers. Those people think and make decisions. What we call the market is just the aggregation of lots of people deciding.

Now, economists begin from the position of being able to model and describe all these aggregations, because all these human deciders are supposedly acting in perfectly rational self-interest, knowing how to balance their costs and benefits, and maximizing their utility. However, when they notice their rational self-interest isn't always what they were expecting, then these shamans and prophets start mumbling stuff about "animal spirits" and "irrational exuberance". In the end, a recognition that, as with all the other social sciences, using a lot of math doesn't make the complexity of human decision-making easier to understand.

Once you recognize markets fail, the claim that everything will work out if we just "leave it to the market" is falsified.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:43 pm 
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I wouldn’t doubt that the rise of Protestantism which shifted the requirement of belief in the Roman church dogma and required support of the Roman church along with its imprimatur for ruling as well commercial transactions contributed to the rise of primitive accumulation. I also agree that industrialization which developed division of labor as noted by Smith contributed as well.

I also wonder how much the Treaty of Westphalia and the development of the nation-state played a role. Countries needed bureaucracies as well for revenue generation/collection as power shifted from divine right to parliaments. A middle class which would arise as the concept of labor would provide a broader tax base possibly than the wealthy who were the previous nobility. Of course wage suppression would follow but again capital would weigh the strain on social relations caused by both accumulation and wage suppression. That they tend to misread the strain is obvious.



Don't forget the German Princes. Can't forget those hot messes.

They're one main reason why Lutheranism took off in Germany. They really liked that idea of getting out from under the HRE.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:09 pm 
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The other aspect to Weber's book is the rationalization of society. Essentially, social bonds under feudalism were primarily loyalty based, people swear oaths to each other. Protestantism shattered the old feudal order, and thus led to the rise of new social relationships based on contract (which are short term and specific) rather than loyalty. In traditional societies like Japan, there is still this idea that workers are like family members, and thus you have a long term commitment to them. You take care of them. But in bureaucratic, contractual societies like we have in "the west," workers are just a disposable asset, kind of like ... widgets.

I would say "Let the markets decide" is just a form of curious anthropomorphism and/or reification. Markets do not have human or any other kind of consciousness ... they do not think, they do not decide ... they are just systems made up of interacting human buyers and sellers. Those people think and make decisions. What we call the market is just the aggregation of lots of people deciding.

Now, economists begin from the position of being able to model and describe all these aggregations, because all these human deciders are supposedly acting in perfectly rational self-interest, knowing how to balance their costs and benefits, and maximizing their utility. However, when they notice their rational self-interest isn't always what they were expecting, then these shamans and prophets start mumbling stuff about "animal spirits" and "irrational exuberance". In the end, a recognition that, as with all the other social sciences, using a lot of math doesn't make the complexity of human decision-making easier to understand.

Once you recognize markets fail, the claim that everything will work out if we just "leave it to the market" is falsified.

Which explains why Long Term Capital Management failed despite having two “Nobel” economists on staff.

Which is also why I like Duncan Foley’s “Adam’s Fallacy.”

As for social order I recall reading somewhere that there is not an inherent distrust of government in the Orient. Of course those who wield power can be capricious and arbitrary anywhere but what seems to have become a part of American mythology is missing in the East. Perhaps once hierarchal systems are challenged or fall into disorder there is a vacuum which requires filling by other types of authoritarian systems. Thus the convergence of state and corporation at the same time of the divergence of people in society as a whole. Complexity is driving new aggregations of power while forcing disintegration of social relations devolving downward. As I mentioned elsewhere Rosa Brooks notes the changing of the nature of war and conflict as well as the blurring/elimination of the distinction of war/not war. So it is with economic power and the state. As the shift to selectively efficient/effective private sector in place of public sector accelerates the end result must be the pseudo-conservative/libertarian dream of one dollar, one vote. Social movement upward will become even more stunted. Movement will likely occur within the top quintile.

Thus why sociologists must include political economy in their studies. And in depth.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:11 am 
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I guess I ramble on too much...

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bird's theorem-"we the people" are stupid.

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