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Old May 5 2013, 05:06 PM   #12
stj
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Re: Greece's Underlying Policy Problem.

Yes, I've read Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail. The notion that capitalism has solved the problem of technological innovation requires two assumptions. First, that the human costs are irrelevant. Second, that ecological costs past and future are counterfactuals, hence also irrelevant. Those two gentlemen also refuse in all those wasted pages to even attempt to describe, much less define, extraction economies. Their fury at the Argentine devaluation fairly leaps from the page, on grounds which for me also calls into question the basic humanity of their views.

I'm not sure how you could possibly think you could require me, personally, to solve the problem of technological innovation in a world where humanity is stressing the entire biosphere. These problems are far beyond one person.

Your implicit assumption that capalism, with the suitable policy, however can says to me that you're the one who should be spelling out policies in rather more detail. This is especially true given the huge importance of the government in so-called capitalist innovation. We are discussing this on the internet after all. Suppose that global climate change does proceed to the point where massive geoengineering projects to repair the damage are needed. Who would have the incentive to do this in a capitalist system? No one.

In fact, in a capitalist system, which is predicated upon a world of nations, or, possibly, empires, such geoengineering projects must necessarily lead to a divergence of interests. There would be inevitable conflict between those nations and empires that would benefit from these projects, while others would suffer. This scenario is not particularly extreme, though who knows if it will come to pass?

(See Levitan for discussion of these possibilities. Incidentally, the way that Levitan clearly states that academic economics is all about incentives, then conveniently never troubles to ask about incentives in his apologetics for ecosystem destroying technological development! Such unconscionable fraud is routine for conventional economists.)

That said, yes, the reluctance of a socialist system to end employment does by capitalist standards mean inefficiency. I believe that simply paying full unemployment to the workers while physically liquidating the assets will make it clear when liquidation of old technology is truly desirable in an economy aimed at fulfilling human needs.

There are multiple reforms that could be made to even the old-style planning system the USSR used. A social form of bankruptcy could be developed. The design bureau approach could be further developed. Given a sufficient level of productive development, experimental forms of development, even to the point of randomly supporting would-be innovators, could be tried.

But frankly, one of the greatest problems was isolation, requiring a single government to attempt to do everything, while under constant threat. No socialist economy has ever been allowed to demonstrate the inevitable failure of socialism. The capitalists have always spent massive amounts of money and spilled massive amounts of blood to make sure that there would never be an opportunity.

The capitalists may know something about their system you dont'?
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