[FoRK] Closing funny bits, was Re: Malthusian machinations

Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca
Thu Jun 17 10:36:18 PDT 2010

--- On Thu, 6/17/10, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:

> On Jun 16, 2010, at 10:37 PM, "Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo" <ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca> wrote:
> > I say this with respect, Aaron, because I agree with
> the rest of what you said. "Externalities" in this context
> is pure unadulterated bullshit. It's the crap that those who
> loudly espouse "free markets" or "fair markets", and who
> honestly want neither, excrete when they are trying to avoid
> any form of restriction on their activities.
> I say this with respect, Ken, because I agree with the rest
> of what you said.  Your invective about "externalities"
> is pure unadulterated bullshit.  It's the crap that
> those who fear a boogeyman called "anarchy" or it's evil
> twin "out of control capitalism" loudly spout when any
> suggestion is made favoring decentralized economic
> non-authoritarianism.  ... 

Fair enough. I have no doubt I sound a little strident when we get close to this area. But are you saying that capitalism isn't pretty much out of control? Or, perhaps more correctly, too much in control? Of most of the institutions that should serve to limit its most egregious excesses?

"decentralized economic non-authoritarianism" sounds good to me.  Will it work as well as "free markets" are?  ;-)

You would have to be just a tad more specific about what it is, or would look like, before I can tell you if I'm in fear of it.

Keeping in mind that authoritarianism comes in multiple guises and from multiple places. Tell me, with a straight face, that Wal-Mart or any other corporate entity is less authoritarian or less naturally inclined to be, than governments.

What is "decentralized economic non-authoritarianism" and how do we get from here to there? Can it be done without without authoritarian intervention?

>  --- you're so stuck on the obvious failures of such a system to
> address things that it isn't even intended to address that
> you fail to see at all.  You fail to see the
> preponderance of successes, the inadequacies of the present
> alternative, or the false dichotomy that says it's one or
> the other.

I'm not sure that's entirely true. My vision is coloured by the obvious failures; I'll freely admit that. But I don't *think* I'm blind. Overall, I'm personally a pretty happy camper. I have a modest home, a lovely wife who has managed to tolerate me for nearly 40 years, a sweet daughter and three grandchildren, two cars, no mortgage. I spend my summer days on the golf course. And I just bought a new motorcycle on the weekend. I have family members and friends who have had healthier lives, or simply survived, because of our medical system - facilities, health care professionals, equipment, treatments. &c. &c. &c. 

I'm very much aware of where all that, and more, comes from. Perhaps more aware in some cases because I also come from, and still have family involved in the agrarian part of our system. I have long known that chocolate milk does not come from brown cows. I have actually decapitated a chicken and helped prepare it for dinner.

I'm just frustrated because I have seen the negative side moving ahead of the positive in my lifetime and that scares me for the future of my progeny. 

I hate binary thinking. But in this case I'm at a complete loss to see any alternative to making what we've got work somehow. Thus, the apparent dichotomy. So you could fairly accuse me of being "blind" to alternatives. Not because I'm against them. I'm simply not aware of anything that might have a fighting chance. At least not without bloodshed or at least massive disruption.

I do try to keep my eyes open in case I ever trip over one. 

I think what scares me most about unfettered capitalism is that I've seen so much of where greed leads. Not just overt greed of those inside corporations to enrich themselves. Perhaps more importantly -- certainly more insidious -- the greed of we little people who are part of the mutual funds and pension funds that comprise large parts of the capitalization. We want reasonable returns on our investments ... hell, most of us probably want outrageous returns if that was possible. So we stick our money into the funds and abdicate any responsibility to understand what those corporations are doing. 

Left to their own devices, and with lots of pressure from us to increase share prices constantly and in the short term and ignore the "externalities", the results are entirely too predictable. 

That's what scares me.

We, the masses, are as ill-prepared to drive corporations as we are to pilot Spaceship Earth.

How does that get changed?

You implied that businesses aren't geared to worry about these "externalities"; that it's really not their business to do so. It seems to me there's no reason better behaviour couldn't/shouldn't be a fundamental part of any corporation's business. Especially in the United States where they are awarded virtual citizenship simply by virtue of existing. Is it not reasonable, then, to expect the same sort of awareness and responsibility of their impacts as we do of each other, individually and collectively?

You will expect and teach your twins to be aware of things beyond their personal and immediate comfort and convenience and insist that they act responsibly in that context. Why *shouldn't* we expect precisely the same from BP or Wal-Mart or Goldman Sachs or ....?

> ...  And yeah, that's as fair a statement as calling me a corporatist or
> rabid Randite despite all evidence ton the contrary.

Not guilty, I hope. I don't know of any pigeon hole that would fit you. ;-)


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