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

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Aug 25 19:33:39 PDT 2008

This guy makes good points and then comes to the opposite conclusion 
that I do.  People are too emotional about drops in the capital markets 
it seems.  This is like lamenting the loss of millions of farm jobs or 
factory jobs or similar.  When robots take over most menial factory 
jobs, are we going to focus on those companies that go under because 
they are slow to switch from humans-as-machines to 
machines-as-machines?  Heck now, punish those laggards and celebrate the 
freedom and bounty that results.

The drop in value of something in a capital market is, to grossly 
simplify, a drop in the expected future value and competitiveness of a 
particular venture.  Although the consensus seems uninformed and 
unnecessarily lemming-like at times, it does seem better than in the 
past, which is probably the best to hope for.

For startups, capital markets are often great for holding back big 
potential competitors more than a concern, at least until you get some 

He seems to be trying to say that quarter focusing is bad (I agree) and 
that it will stifle "corporate creativity" which I disagree with.  In 
certain competitive markets, it may be tough, and it may be that only 
startups can be innovative.  This isn't necessarily something wrong.  I 
like that there are reverse-economy-of-scale issues for large companies.

Am I wrong on those points?


geege schuman wrote:
> <Tenth, one of the most interesting questions over the next generation is
> whether the Anglo-American form of capitalism, which gives primary direction
> of companies to capital markets, will flourish and expand, or not. Some of
> the evidence on the (in)effectiveness of takeovers and the recent sad
> experiences in financial markets rather suggests not.>
> It's a tenuous connection, but read
> http://creativecapitalism.typepad.com/creative_capitalism/2008/08/profit-maximiza.html
> Jeff and JAR, check out the fifth point.
> G
> On Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 6:07 PM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> 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.
>> sdw
>>  J. Andrew Rogers
>> _______________________________________________
>> FoRK mailing list
>> http://xent.com/mailman/listinfo/fork
> _______________________________________________
> FoRK mailing list
> http://xent.com/mailman/listinfo/fork

More information about the FoRK mailing list