[FoRK] Obama: communitarian, redistributionist, confused? (from NYT)

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Aug 25 15:07:40 PDT 2008

J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Aug 25, 2008, at 1:48 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> As a market trader, I would think that you would grok that much of 
>> the value of things and the will to move in a positive direction has 
>> to do with attitude, inspiration, and, while not least, not the only 
>> thing either: predicting the future.  The market is one place where 
>> optimism really works.  Maybe not for every irrationally exuberant 
>> individual investor, but for the market and society as a whole, it does.
> Optimism does not contribute to the GDP without the working fluid of 
> capital.  If you simultaneously increase optimism and reduce capital 
> flow, you end up with something approximating a minor real economic 
> impact over the short term, and a loss of efficiency and opportunity 
> over the long term due to poor capital allocation.
I didn't say that optimism without working capital would work.  I was 
saying that working capital without optimism doesn't work, or at least 
not with any speed.  We have been in a lull in many areas for a while, 
for instance.  I'm advocating vision + optimism + working capital + some 
creative approaches, a la X-Prize, DARPA Challenge, etc.  More fluid 
movement and usage of doers/makers/creators.  That kind of thing.  Bush 
avoids pretty much everything like this, apparently on the grounds that 
all of those additional smart people might hurt religion in some way, or 
worse, create more thinking people who tend to be Democrats.  (I'm not 
maligning all other Republicans, especially the thoughtful and 
intelligent ones.)
> Where will the optimism come from in business in the absence of real 
> economic opportunity?  This is revolutionary thinking, the idea that 
> optimism trumps basic economics.  That experiment has a poor track 
> record.
What specifically is Obama certainly going to do that will create the 
absence of real economic opportunity?
Simply making sure that individuals who are making a living on an 
activity that is currently classified as capital gains pay a similar tax 
rate to the rest of us doesn't seem like it is going to wreck the whole 
system.  What else?

Perhaps you could split optimism into two categories: optimism that you 
can create something / solve a problem / make people happier and 
optimism that you can make money.  Both are good generally.  The latter 
has a range of goodness which is dependent on most much of the former is 
fostered, directly or indirectly.  Focusing purely on the latter is not 
good, while the former won't succeed without enough of the latter.

> J. Andrew Rogers

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