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> What does the future hold?, How about no growth.
Dingo
post Jun 23 2009, 09:02 AM
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Seriously, maybe no growth should be the ideal or maybe even a little contraction. That's what this Canadian thinks. Saving the planet means no growth. Maybe a whole new paradigm needs to emerge.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/06/22-8

QUOTE
Globalization is effectively dead: what characterized the world for the past thirty years, the suicidal policies of what was called the Washington Consensus, will never return, at least not in its old form. The climate crisis, the damage done to the real economies of the Global North, the arrival of peak oil, the inevitable return of protectionism and state intervention mean that we have left that era behind.
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The magnitude of the moral crisis of the political right is staggering. The greed, dishonesty, hubris and psychopathic disregard for the public good renders the whole business elite utterly unfit to pronounce on anything -- not even on the economy, but certainly not democracy or how we run our collective affairs.
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In Paris last year the Economic De-Growth For Ecological Sustainability And Social Equity Conference came up with a Declaration about the world of the future. Among its many articles, two stand out as characterizing the kind of thinking that must start spreading. Degrowth in the global North, says the declaration, “is characterized by substantially reduced dependence on economic activity, and an increase in free time, unremunerated activity, conviviality, sense of community and individual and collective health; [and the] encouragement of self-reflection, balance, creativity, flexibility, diversity, good citizenship, generosity and non-materialism.”


Questions for discussion:
1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.

2.What do you think should be the future role of the corporation? If you think there needs to be a radical change, in what way?

3.Do you look to a future where the government's power is increased or diminished? Explain.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.
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lederuvdapac
post Jun 23 2009, 01:59 PM
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1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.

No, I think the author is a moron. Leisure and free time is a product of growth and wealth. The author seems to forget that the history of civilization is a history of back-breaking labor and unrelenting poverty. Only an elitist academic could devise such an idea as focusing on the "nonmaterialistic" way of life.

No growth means more poverty. No growth means more deaths due to disease and medical conditions. No growth means less leisure time because there will be nothing of entertainment value produced. If growth is stagnant or goes down, then there will be no jobs. How can unemployed people enjoy this leisure and free time with no source of income?

2.What do you think should be the future role of the corporation? If you think there needs to be a radical change, in what way?

The same as it always is, to make its shareholders money and provide goods and services to consumers.

3.Do you look to a future where the government's power is increased or diminished? Explain.

Increased. People do not see a limit in the coercive power of the state. Under the guise of democracy and pluralism, we will lose liberty.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.

If goods and services cost a half or quarter less. Other than that, throwing most of the population of the world into abject poverty is not my idea of ecological sustainability.
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Eeyore
post Jun 23 2009, 02:34 PM
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1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.

No growth is a dangerous concept that would be very difficult to implement without widespread economic disruption. That disruption would create poverty and would risk calmatous world wide effects. That is a pretty huge risk to take.

Ecological sustainability needs to be integrated into our world economy. The costs of cleaning up the damages caused to the environment by a businesses activities need to be taken from the profits of those companies. Ditching that responsibility is taking the revenues but not honoring the associated expenses and handing them off to governments. Perversely, this is often followed by cries of socialism or big government nanny states, or cries for capping liability by enacting tort reform.

We do have the power to shape our values and demand. I don't think this has to be done on the no or low growth model. If we value less materialism what we demand more will become the next growth industry. What will you be doing in your less-materialistic world with your increased leisure time? Music lessons? Paint supplies? A Hammock garden?

2.What do you think should be the future role of the corporation? If you think there needs to be a radical change, in what way?

I think that corporations need better oversight and regulation in many ways. One way is that these publicly traded companies need better ombudsman powers to protect the employees and shareholders of the company. CEOs and boards have immense powers to plunder or take risks that are not appropriate for their company.

Also, governments need to watch over corporations to make sure that they are not so big that they can't be allowed to fail or that they are not despoiling the environment. There are ways to make money that harm society, shareholders and taxpayers need better protection from these ways and capitalists need to nkow that they will pay the price for making money in harmful ways. Capitalism is amoral and will exploit the best returns available. Harmful returns need to be associated with unacceptable risks to those who would take those risks.

3.Do you look to a future where the government's power is increased or diminished? Explain.

Neither. I do not see all government as bad government, but I value individualism. I think these changes will be mostly social, better driven by changing values applied than by government mandate. But the environment is something that should be protected at a governmental level.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.

Absolutely. In some ways this would take a dramatic change in our society. A world where I don't need to have two cars, a house in an affluent suburb for better schooling, where we did not need two full time jobs to run the family is not that hard to approach.

If we dropped one of our incomes this would effectively make this change. Many of our expenses would change if we did this.
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Dingo
post Jun 23 2009, 08:57 PM
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1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.
Well we are living on a finite planet. It seems to me at some point we are going to have to level off. Expanding growth means an expanding resource base to draw from. That would seem to be coming to an end

2.What do you think should be the future role of the corporation? If you think there needs to be a radical change, in what way?
The corporation strikes me as a seemingly benign monster. It certainly provides us with a lot of goodies and services but it downstreams the cost and as such would seem to be writing off future generations. It's bottom line obsession is purchased at the expense of practically every other consideration that goes into making for a civilized sustainable society. I don't know exactly what the alternative is but the corporation as we know needs to be either radically altered or thrown into the ash bin of history.

Here is a link to Annie Leonards wonderful cartoon and explanation presentation on the corporate-material world and the disaster that awaits us if we continue on with business as usual.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8

Next we have an in depth description of the corporation and its history and effects from a 23 part series on YouTube called guess what, 'The Corporation'. I chose #4, Externalities, from the series because I think the point there is particularly critical but its worth checking them all out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCGTD5Bn1m0...feature=channel

3.Do you look to a future where the government's power is increased or diminished? Explain.
On setting a standard for economic direction I would say an increase in public authority on all levels. The government is the place of last resort for the public when things go badly wrong. A bottom line operation has shown that too often its focus on profits pure and simple is antagonistic to the broader long term public good. The players don't get to referee or if they do the whole game turns into chaos as we have seen.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.
Even much less because I have. It takes practice and it helps if you have a society that honors civilized values and simple living over ones that value accumulation, throw away, profit maximization and environmental clutter.

And making do from our immediate surroundings is something we did for 99.9% of our human history. Attempting to a major degree to do a modern version of that I think would be a worthy goal. The past is not necessarily bad. Sometimes a commonsense good can be found, just updated to more modern conditions. Local sourcing with local consequences is something we need, to build social accountability into our lives. You live with the consequences of your choices, not foist them on someone else, either now or in the future - the corporate way.
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skeeterses
post Jun 23 2009, 09:33 PM
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1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.
A no growth economy is quite difficult for most people to think about, and going into non-growth territory suddenly would be a shock treatment that would harm society. Nonetheless, we have to think about the concept of non-growth. If real-estate for example were to continue growing indefinitely, the world would run out of places houses to be built. And building skyscrapers all the way to the moon is not an option either.

Leder, the idea that no-growth would send America back into the stone ages is something that I have to disagree with. To maintain a modern civilization, we don't necessarily have to sell more cars and more TVs. If the financial sector completely collapsed or the fossil fuel resources suddenly dwindled away, we have enough knowledge to not go back to the age of backbreaking labor and disease. Throughout the history of civilization, one of the reason diseases were prevalent was because people believed diseases were caused by demons and didn't know about bacteria and the need to keep food refrigerated. Believe it or not, a lot of the handtools people take for granted did not exist throughout the history of civilization. Prior to the 20th century, there were no philip head screwdrivers or adjustable wrenches. If manual labor was bad enough, it was made worse by the fact that people didn't know about disease vaccinations and didn't have hand tools to help them with simple tasks like removing nails.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.
One of those social conditions would have to be walkable communities. If people have to drive to work and suddenly found themselves without a car, riding a bike 10 or 20 miles every day would be hard. Another social condition would have to be a fair reward system. If Americans had to go back to the land and grow their own food, they could get angry if most of the reward for that labor went to a landlord or the taxman. The expenses of life would have to be low enough that people could still live on the 8 hour workday and have enough time to enjoy their hobbies. Another condition yet is that the things of the world would have to last longer. If a pair of shoes is suddenly more expensive than the sneakers we buy from Walmart, the shoes will have to last a lot longer than 6 months. People of course will have an obligation to take better care of the things they already have, like not letting dust gather around TVs and not carrying their cell phones through rainy weather.
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lederuvdapac
post Jun 24 2009, 01:43 PM
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QUOTE(Dingo)
Well we are living on a finite planet. It seems to me at some point we are going to have to level off. Expanding growth means an expanding resource base to draw from. That would seem to be coming to an end


That is not necessarily true. As innovation and new technologies are developed, we are able to extract far more output out of the resources we use. Furthermore, if goods are priced correctly, then we would never run out of them because there would be a point where the price would be too high for people to consume. Take oil. I can agree that there is a finite amount of oil in the ground but I disagree that we will ever run out of it (again, if it is allowed to be priced correctly). If we do start running out of oil, the price will be so high that people will be unable to consume it and entrepreneurs will find substitutes and alternative forms of energy to use. We already have promising leads in a number of alternative technologies like solar, hydrogen fuel, wind, etc... The thing is that oil is still plentiful and the need for alternatives is not yet there. Once oil does become scarce, it will be substituted by these alternatives.

QUOTE(Dingo)
It's bottom line obsession is purchased at the expense of practically every other consideration that goes into making for a civilized sustainable society. I don't know exactly what the alternative is but the corporation as we know needs to be either radically altered or thrown into the ash bin of history.


What is the problem with an entity that provides goods and services to consumers in a free and voluntary manner? If the corporation in question does something wrong, you would be free to take your business and your money elsewhere. Most people who rail against corporations cannot get over the immutable fact that people choose to do business with them, even when taking other considerations into account. In order to get around this, I always hear how individuals don't really have a choice. Well this is wrong. People do have a choice and if they choose to freely and openly use their money on a good or service providing by said corporation, then that is their decision.

QUOTE(Dingo)
On setting a standard for economic direction I would say an increase in public authority on all levels. The government is the place of last resort for the public when things go badly wrong. A bottom line operation has shown that too often its focus on profits pure and simple is antagonistic to the broader long term public good. The players don't get to referee or if they do the whole game turns into chaos as we have seen.


The government is the referee? What disaster has the government prevented? The S&L debacle, the dotcom bubble, the housing bubble, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, FM/FM...isn't this what the regulators were supposed to prevent? Up until the sky started falling, we had the Treasury Secretary Paulson telling us everything is fine and that our economic fundamentals were strong. The government and regulators didnt have the first clue what was going on. The CBO estimates put us at large growth for the next couple of years with no sign of recession or downturn.

Profits provide for the public good because they are the only legitimate measure of what the public wants. Not everyone votes or participates in government. Everyone votes with their money.

QUOTE(Dingo)
And making do from our immediate surroundings is something we did for 99.9% of our human history. Attempting to a major degree to do a modern version of that I think would be a worthy goal. The past is not necessarily bad.


Please. 99.9% of human history was spent in abject poverty with people barely able to survive on the food that was produced. Ask the people in Africa, India, or Eastern China how awesome the past was - because they are living it right now.

QUOTE(skeeterses)
Leder, the idea that no-growth would send America back into the stone ages is something that I have to disagree with. To maintain a modern civilization, we don't necessarily have to sell more cars and more TVs. If the financial sector completely collapsed or the fossil fuel resources suddenly dwindled away, we have enough knowledge to not go back to the age of backbreaking labor and disease.


Dingo's idea of no growth is to return to the stone ages. Knowledge has nothing to do with it. Regression means more poverty, not less. Growth allows people who lost their jobs to get hired in new jobs. Growth increases wages and general wealth which can be consumed or saved. More wealth and higher wages mean more people can afford quality health care. For thousands of years, growth moved at a snail's pace. It is only in the last 200 years that we came to see growth as an almost inevitability. Something that just happened. Those who advocate a no-growth or less-growth approach really have no idea what they are advocating.
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TedN5
post Jun 24 2009, 06:02 PM
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1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.

I use to think some economic per capita growth could be accommodated with some increase in population by internalizing the real societal costs of resource use so that markets approximated real costs. The long struggle over controlling greenhouse gases has convinced me that there is little hope of overcoming the influence of narrow short term corporate interests and establishing a rational market for all resources. Instead, in all probability, human populations and economies will (or have) over reach their resource base and will collapse. That is we will experience r-selection rather than k selection. (See Carrying Capacity). It is likely that we are now encountering these limits in terms of our impact upon the atmosphere and oceans and their feedback on other resources through the climate system.

2.What do you think should be the future role of the corporation? If you think there needs to be a radical change, in what way?

They should be nationally chartered with their rights to the protection of individuals removed. Originally corporations were creatures of state and national governments with grants of specific authority for specific purpose. These grants could be terminated for cause. In the heyday of railroad construction in the late 19th century through state charters and lower court decisions they assumed the rights of individuals without the responsibilities. (See the Corporation). However, corporation are too firmly entrenched in power to realistically think that they can be substantially reformed. Witness their power in the health care debate. 70% of Americans want a single payer system or least the option of public insurance. Reforming the health care system was a key part of the Democrats campaign effort. Still it is extremely difficult to pass legislation in this area that the corporations oppose.

3.Do you look to a future where the government's power is increased or diminished? Explain.

I would like the government to be a bigger part of the economy and economic decisions. However, this is meaningless without reducing the power of corporations over governments. I would like to see government police powers reduced particularly at the federal level. The Military/Industrial/Congressional complex needs to be curtailed so that we can return to a sane foreign policy.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.

That is basically what we have to do now that I am retired and my wife is retiring. We could cut back much more if we thought it would save a livable planet for our grand children.

This post has been edited by TedN5: Jun 25 2009, 02:51 AM
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skeeterses
post Jun 24 2009, 09:02 PM
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QUOTE
Dingo's idea of no growth is to return to the stone ages. Knowledge has nothing to do with it. Regression means more poverty, not less. Growth allows people who lost their jobs to get hired in new jobs. Growth increases wages and general wealth which can be consumed or saved. More wealth and higher wages mean more people can afford quality health care. For thousands of years, growth moved at a snail's pace. It is only in the last 200 years that we came to see growth as an almost inevitability. Something that just happened. Those who advocate a no-growth or less-growth approach really have no idea what they are advocating.

Knowledge is one of the very things that allowed Society to get out of the stone age in the first place. If workers don't have practical knowledge, any economic growth benefits will then only go to the people at that top who do have knowledge about the technology and the system.

Likewise, if we go into non-growth territory and the economy shrinks, knowledge will help mankind minimize its losses so that people only have to give up a few luxuries rather than lose everything. As far as the confidence that an entrepenuer will come along and develop new energy sources in case the oil runs out, we have to be prepared in case the new energy sources don't work. After all, there is inherent risk in capitalism and things don't always turn out the way society hopes.
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cicero
post Jun 24 2009, 11:02 PM
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1.Do you think the author's call for no growth, ecological sustainability, more free time and a more nonmaterialistic way of life is pie in the sky or just what the doctor ordered. Explain.

It is a very big “pie in the sky.” We have to have growth if want to solve our problems. Doing nothing would result in collapse at some point. However, there is a difference between positive growth and negative growth. Positive growth, in my opinion, would be developing a more sustainable society. Negative growth however, would be going down the same path that we have been currently going down which will also result in collapse at some point. Progress is never always good or bad and it is up to society to consider their choices and the impact they may have.

As for globalization, it is far from dead and is only going to continue. Some could and have argued that globalization has always been taking place but it is the rate in which we should judge it by. But, I tend to believe that globalization did not truly begin until the rise of the internet. Keep in mind that globalization has been developing and growing since the establishment of the United Nation and later the beginnings of global trade, the free market, and as I said, the rise of the internet. Globalization is global communication, trade, multilateralism, and other global and often interdependent issues. Now, there are negative affects of globalization and that is something I am willing to debate as well.

2.What do you think should be the future role of the corporation? If you think there needs to be a radical change, in what way?

I believe that corporations should continue to do what they are doing. The government should stay out of their work just like corporations should stay out of government as much as possible. However, corporations do need greater regulation by the government. I would like to see businesses be more fiscally conservative when and where they can but that’s just my view of businesses. I do however, expect corporation to be held socially responsible and move towards a more sustainable way of doing business. My corporate responsibility works like this definition from, ironically, Wikipedia:

QUOTE
Business would embrace responsibility for the impact of their activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere.
Source: Corporate social responsibility

Corporate responsibly should then include the protection and the respecting of the peoples right to privacy. Something governments, especially ones that stand for freedom like the U.S., should follow more and not breach peoples privacy for just any reason especially not without a warrant. The threat against privacy has never been greater than in the 21st century:

QUOTE
Tools of mass communication that were once the province of governments and corporations now fit in your pocket. Cell phones can capture video and send it wirelessly to the Internet. People can send eyewitness accounts, photos and videos, with a few keystrokes, to thousands or even millions via social networking sites. As these technologies have developed, so too has the ability to monitor, filter, censor and block them.

A Wall Street Journal report this week claimed that the “Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.” The article named Nokia Siemens Networks as the provider of equipment capable of “deep packet inspection.” DPI, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, “enables Internet Service Providers to intercept virtually all of their customers’ Internet activity, including Web surfing data, e-mail and peer-to-peer downloads.”
----
China has very sophisticated Internet monitoring and censoring capabilities, referred to as “the Great Firewall of China,” which attracted increased attention prior to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. A document leaked before a U.S. Senate human rights hearing implicated Cisco, a California-based maker of Internet routers, in marketing to the Chinese government to accommodate monitoring and censorship goals. The Chinese government now requires any computer sold there after July 1, 2009, to include software called “Green Dam,” which critics say will further empower the government to monitor Internet use.
----
Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a media policy group, says the actions of Iran and China should alert us to domestic surveillance issues in the U.S. He told me: “This technology that monitors everything that goes through the Internet is something that works, it’s readily available, and there’s no legislation in the United States that prevents the U.S. government from employing it. ... It’s widely known that the major carriers, particularly AT&T and Verizon, were being asked by the NSA [National Security Agency], by the Bush administration ... to deploy off-the-shelf technology made by some of these companies like Cisco.” The equipment formed the backbone of the “warrantless wiretapping” program.

Thomas Tamm was the Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on that program. In 2004, he called The New York Times from a subway pay phone and told reporter Eric Lichtblau about the existence of a secret domestic surveillance program. In 2007, the FBI raided his home and seized three computers and personal files. He still faces possible prosecution.
Source: Free Speech vs. Surveillance in the Digital Age

Now, if Ian Bremmer is correct then we are headed toward statism and the end of the free market:

QUOTE
“What we are seeing is a rise in statism not state capitalism. As more governments seize the wealth of private corporations, capitalism will get the blame when it is the government controlled entities that are the cause."


He goes on to explain:

QUOTE
Across the United States, Europe, and much of the rest of the developed world, the recent wave of state interventionism is meant to lessen the pain of the current global recession and restore ailing economies to health. For the most part, the governments of developed countries do not intend to manage these economies indefinitely. However, an opposing intention lies behind similar interventions in the developing world: there the state's heavy hand in the economy is signaling a strategic rejection of free-market doctrine.

Governments, not private shareholders, already own the world's largest oil companies and control three-quarters of the world's energy reserves. Other companies owned by or aligned with the state enjoy growing market power in major economic sectors in the world's fastest-growing economies. "Sovereign wealth funds," a recently coined term for state-owned investment portfolios, account for one-eighth of global investment, and that figure is rising. These trends are reshaping international politics and the global economy by transferring increasingly large levers of economic power and influence to the central authority of the state. They are fueling the large and complex phenomenon of state capitalism.
----
State capitalism has four primary actors: national oil corporations, state-owned enterprises, privately owned national champions, and sovereign wealth funds (SWFs).
Source: Foreign Affairs "State Capitalism Comes of Age"

I believe in Capitalism and the free market but I fear that this is what the new world may look like. If people are not careful they will end up with socialism or fascism or what I believe is happening, which is, a new form of social, political, and economical platform taking place. This is happening because of globalization and the changing political, economical, and social environment, in my opinion. Additionally, I believe that this new form will be bad and not good for the world. I do not have a name, yet, for this new form taking place. But, there is hope that a positive form will evolve from all of this. I remain optimistic because I do see such great potential in not just United States but the world. It is the current state of extremism that I see taking place in the world that concerns me.

3.Do you look to a future where the government's power is increased or diminished? Explain.

I look toward a world with less government but also government that is affective, efficient, and responsible. But, I fear we are just going to get the opposite. But, things can always get better if we take the right actions.

4.Do you think under the right social conditions you could live on a half or quarter of your income. Explain.

What are the "right social conditions?" Under my right social conditions people would have more income not less. I like to make choices not have them chosen for me. Taking away more of my income, to me, would mean fewer choices. Income is not everything but it helps. However, to answer the question, I probably could but I would rather not find out.

This post has been edited by cicero: Jun 25 2009, 01:11 AM
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Dingo
post Jun 25 2009, 12:29 AM
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QUOTE(lederuvdapac @ Jun 24 2009, 06:43 AM) *
That is not necessarily true. As innovation and new technologies are developed, we are able to extract far more output out of the resources we use.

Do you think we will be using as much energy 50 years from now? I don't think so.
Do you think we will have less of a water problem 50 years from now? I don't think so.
Do you think the ocean will provide us with as much food 50 years from now? I don't think so.
Do you think global warming and its consequences will be less of a problem in 50 years? I don't think so.
Do you think overcrowding and illegal immigration will be less of a problem 50 years from now? I don't think so.

I could name these and many more problems that argue against the sustainability of present growth. And I would defy you to come up with a believable narrative that shows how any of the above will get better if we continue on our present course. Even with a few free market fixes I don't see a positive change. The only one with the power to turn us from our present disastrous course is government. That doesn't mean it will but it's the only one that has the power. And to do it it must be freed from the hammerlock of the corporations with their singular bottom line obsessions.

QUOTE
What is the problem with an entity that provides goods and services to consumers in a free and voluntary manner?

It's not bottom line free and voluntary. It comes accompanied with massive advertising and enormous influence exercised on government to accommodate its interests.

QUOTE
If the corporation in question does something wrong, you would be free to take your business and your money elsewhere.

People mostly make economic choices based on narrow personal needs or desires, often heavily influenced by advertising by the way. Most of the sins of the corporations are on a much broader scale that don't get serious consideration at the personal purchasing level. It's an apples and oranges comparison.

QUOTE
The government is the referee? What disaster has the government prevented? The S&L debacle, the dotcom bubble, the housing bubble, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, FM/FM...isn't this what the regulators were supposed to prevent?

Corporate influence was behind most of those problems. The regulators were beholden to corporate interests and the regulating powers were often too limited, think credit default swaps, because businesses wanted them that way. The public sector needs to be freed from the grip of corporate power. It needs to become a real referee not a bought one.

QUOTE
Please. 99.9% of human history was spent in abject poverty with people barely able to survive on the food that was produced. Ask the people in Africa, India, or Eastern China how awesome the past was - because they are living it right now.

I'm not calling for a pure stone age solution. I'm simply saying let's take the technologies we have and adapt them as best we can to a way of life that sustained us for say a million years. That is living simply and sustainably, drawing as much as possible from our immediate surroundings. Whatever its inefficiencies it would add greatly to integrity-accountability because all the mistakes would cycle right back to the parties that made them. The past is not all horror; it had its ups and downs but one thing we know is it kept us viable. And they had one huge advantage; they weren't staring in the face of a possible culturally produced technological wipe out of mankind.

Maybe if you can at least appreciate that one fact, we can take if from there. cool.gif

PS. Check out the two video links in my previous post. They speak to the problems with our corporate culture better than I do.
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lederuvdapac
post Jun 25 2009, 01:58 PM
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QUOTE(Dingo)
Do you think we will be using as much energy 50 years from now? I don't think so.


Probably more energy. However, to assume that it will come from the same source at the same rate of output as it does now with no new innovations or inventions in the next 50 years is absurd.

QUOTE(Dingo)
Do you think we will have less of a water problem 50 years from now? I don't think so.


We will only have water problems if water is not priced correctly. All resources are finite. The materials used to build your computer, your coffee mug, and you sneakers are finite. However, we aren't running out of computers, coffee mugs, and sneakers. I wonder why? hmmm.gif

QUOTE(Dingo)
Do you think the ocean will provide us with as much food 50 years from now? I don't think so.


Same as above. A lack of private property rights will ensure that the tragedy of the commons will destroy the fishing industry. Integrating private property has been shown to be effective (source).

QUOTE(Dingo)
Do you think global warming and its consequences will be less of a problem in 50 years? I don't think so.


People should be more wealthy in 50 years and better able to adapt to whatever negative consequences may arise. But you ignore any positive outcomes of global warming. A lot of people may actually be better off.

QUOTE(Dingo)
Do you think overcrowding and illegal immigration will be less of a problem 50 years from now? I don't think so.


I don't consider either a problem.

QUOTE(Dingo)
The only one with the power to turn us from our present disastrous course is government.


In other words, the only entity that has the power (use of force) to coerce individuals into doing your bidding is the government. People are making choices that run counter to your vision and hence they must be forced into doing things your way.

QUOTE(Dingo)
It's not bottom line free and voluntary. It comes accompanied with massive advertising and enormous influence exercised on government to accommodate its interests.


What are you a robot? Advertising? Advertising increases available information in the marketplace. People make decisions based on that information. This is why competition is important. Competition allows consumers to choose between different products and different advertisements.

Government accommodations for corporate interests is not a blemish on corporations but a blemish on government. If the government did not appropriate itself so much power over economic affairs, there would be no corporate interest in being involved in government.

QUOTE(Dingo)
People mostly make economic choices based on narrow personal needs or desires, often heavily influenced by advertising by the way. Most of the sins of the corporations are on a much broader scale that don't get serious consideration at the personal purchasing level. It's an apples and oranges comparison.


Right, and you know whats best for other people? I mean this is what your argument comes down to. You like to throw around vague concepts like the "public good" yet the only true measure of what the public wants is through their individual free and voluntary transactions. What you want is actually the opposite of the public good because if you actually upheld such a principle, you would allow the public to make their own decisions!

QUOTE(Dingo)
Corporate influence was behind most of those problems. The regulators were beholden to corporate interests and the regulating powers were often too limited, think credit default swaps, because businesses wanted them that way. The public sector needs to be freed from the grip of corporate power. It needs to become a real referee not a bought one.


What a joke. The most powerful corporations on the planet do not hold an ounce of the power of some mid-level regulator in a government agency. If I do not like Microsoft, Disney, or Wal-Mart, I never have to associate with these entities ever in my life. I don't buy a PC or I don't go to a Disney theme-park or I shop at other places instead of Wal-Mart. The exchange is peaceful and voluntary. However, if my business wants to hire new personnel or I want to build on my private property, some regulator has the power to prevent me from doing this.

The only reason the government is influenced by corporations is because government got involved in business in the first place. Answer me this question Dingo, if tomorrow the government said that it will not involve itself in any business' affairs, what reason would a corporation have to lobby? If there was a guarantee that no money was going to be handed out and that no regulations were going to be implemented, then for what reason would business lobby? The answer: no reason. Businesses lobby because the government provides hand-outs and because they meddle in private affairs with regulations. In order to get a piece of the pie and to have the regulations be favorable, businesses are forced to lobby. You want to end corporate influence? End government influence.

QUOTE(Dingo)
The past is not all horror; it had its ups and downs but one thing we know is it kept us viable. And they had one huge advantage; they weren't staring in the face of a possible culturally produced technological wipe out of mankind.


Yes it was bad! That is why the population levels were so low and why nations faced massive famine and disease. The Irish potato famine? The Black Death? It wiped out 1/3rd of the Earth's population.

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Ultimatejoe
post Jun 25 2009, 02:34 PM
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QUOTE
We will only have water problems if water is not priced correctly. All resources are finite. The materials used to build your computer, your coffee mug, and you sneakers are finite. However, we aren't running out of computers, coffee mugs, and sneakers. I wonder why?


You don't wonder why, you think you know exactly why... that it is a publicly regulated and managed resource. Of course, you will continue to think this without any real evidence or investigation, and without an evaluation of the market realities you claim to venerate. Water, unlike sneakers or computers is both a finite resource and a necessity of survival for which there is no alternative; it is a resource that is dwindling even in "markets" where it is carefully rationed, and a resource that people would rather fight over than relocate to pursue. Care to share how privatization will absolve the Israeli and Palestinian claims to their shared, shrinking aquifers, for example?

QUOTE
But you ignore any positive outcomes of global warming. A lot of people may actually be better off.


Who might those be? Any evidence whatsoever that the potential benefitee's would outnumber those who suffer?

QUOTE
Right, and you know whats best for other people? I mean this is what your argument comes down to. You like to throw around vague concepts like the "public good" yet the only true measure of what the public wants is through their individual free and voluntary transactions. What you want is actually the opposite of the public good because if you actually upheld such a principle, you would allow the public to make their own decisions!


Well, the public did a bang-up job managing the Buffalo resources of the American plains. The tragedy of the commons is not an indictment of public management; Hardin makes it quite clear that his subject is the conflict of individual interests in a sharing environment, public or privately-mandated sharing regardless. I know you've interpreted it that way, but the text is at best ambiguous on the subject... Lets consider your earlier example of fisheries and establishing property rights. While that behaviour has been successful in the examples you've cited, it ignores the fact that much of the damage to fish stocks is done outside territorial waters and as such falls outside the purview of regional governments. How are these stocks to be managed? How do you fairly or correctly assign rights in this case?
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lederuvdapac
post Jun 25 2009, 03:28 PM
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QUOTE(UJ)
You don't wonder why, you think you know exactly why... that it is a publicly regulated and managed resource. Of course, you will continue to think this without any real evidence or investigation, and without an evaluation of the market realities you claim to venerate. Water, unlike sneakers or computers is both a finite resource and a necessity of survival for which there is no alternative; it is a resource that is dwindling even in "markets" where it is carefully rationed, and a resource that people would rather fight over than relocate to pursue. Care to share how privatization will absolve the Israeli and Palestinian claims to their shared, shrinking aquifers, for example?


The necessity of water is immaterial. It is only pertinent in terms of demand. Water is provided in many cases at a price below the market price and that is why there is scarcity. If water was priced correctly, then we wouldn't have scarcity problems because the price would prevent consumers from using it. The state of California often runs the risk of water rationing and shortages and the state government implores the citizens to conserve their use. However, they have no incentive to conserve their water usage for showers, washing dishes, watering their lawn or washing their car. The water comes free from the tap and they do not feel the economic effects of their consumption. If people were forced to pay for the amount of water they use, they would be more careful in their usage.

Why isn't there a similar problem with milk, soda, or whiskey? Again, all resources are finite. Every single thing in your house and on your person came from some resource that is finite. So again I ask the question, why do we have water shortages and not sneaker shortages? Or whiskey shortages? The answer is that the resources used in the production of those other goods are priced according to market forces. Most water utilities in the world are publicly owned and are provided to the public via massive government subsidy.

QUOTE(UJ)
Who might those be? Any evidence whatsoever that the potential benefitee's would outnumber those who suffer?


No. I am speculating in the same sense that Dingo is. He can't tell the future any more than I can. My point was simply that to assume a completely negative outlook without even considering the possible positives that global warming could bring about is intellectually lazy.

QUOTE(UJ)
Well, the public did a bang-up job managing the Buffalo resources of the American plains. The tragedy of the commons is not an indictment of public management; Hardin makes it quite clear that his subject is the conflict of individual interests in a sharing environment, public or privately-mandated sharing regardless.


Public management or no management is the same thing in this regard. Take your home for instance. If you happen to have a garden in your back yard where you grow tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, lettuce, etc... then the crop produced is your property. Nobody is allowed to enter your property and take your produce without being sanctioned through a court of law. If your back yard was public property, then everyone has an equal right to the crop produced and people can just take anything they want. They do not care about conservation because they have to assume that others will not overindulge as well. As a property owner, you want to conserve the soil in your yard so that next summer, you can grow more vegetables.

QUOTE(UJ)
Lets consider your earlier example of fisheries and establishing property rights. While that behaviour has been successful in the examples you've cited, it ignores the fact that much of the damage to fish stocks is done outside territorial waters and as such falls outside the purview of regional governments. How are these stocks to be managed? How do you fairly or correctly assign rights in this case?


You're right, the issue isn't black and white. I don't pretend to have all the answers but all I am opining on is the observation that people need an incentive in order to conserve resources. That incentive is usually the hope of making continual and sustainable profits. This has also been done with endangered species in Africa to prevent them from being hunted (source). There are certain things that can be done to alleviate the ecological problems we face. In most situations, market solutions that provide individual incentives are the best method at achieving our goal.
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metropolitical
post Jun 25 2009, 03:43 PM
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QUOTE(lederuvdapac @ Jun 25 2009, 06:58 AM) *
QUOTE(Dingo)
Do you think we will have less of a water problem 50 years from now? I don't think so.

We will only have water problems if water is not priced correctly. All resources are finite. The materials used to build your computer, your coffee mug, and you sneakers are finite. However, we aren't running out of computers, coffee mugs, and sneakers. I wonder why? hmmm.gif

I was just browsing through and didn't read the full thread, so I may be missing some other subtext in reading yours, but I want to point out that water, unlike the other products you listed, is essential to life. So ultimately, if there isn't enough to go around for everyone's wishes, then it will have to be rationed according to minimum need first, regardless of the price as dictated by pure demand. Moreover, water is also needed to grow food which is essential to life too. Currently, agriculture is subsidized in many ways, one of which ways is cheaper water. So the market for water has already been tampered with and to some extent is artificial, and because of its importance to basic survival, always will be.

Moreover, if you ignore the impact of the aggregation of energy costs in the production of consumer goods, and simply look at the availability of the unharvested materials used in manufacture, the items you listed have an abundance many times greater than their consumption, far greater than that of fuel or water use to as related to need. Take for example how the petroleum is used in the manufacture of plastics (such as in the shoes, computer, or mug) compared to its use as a fuel. There are probably 1-2 quarts of oil going into computer plastics for a single desktop. As a fuel, 1 quart is consumed in most cars in less than 10 min, whereas as a computer you may end up making that quart of oil last for 3-5 years. Over 80% of the earth's crust is composed of silicates, so the raw material for integrated circuits is also incredibly trivial, (and equally unimportant in the making of ceramic mugs also for that matter). Aggregated energy costs in manufacturing, which include fuels used to power industry and its commuters, are basically what will drive the base cost of those consumer goods far more than their raw material supply in the end.

This post has been edited by metropolitical: Jun 25 2009, 03:50 PM
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Ultimatejoe
post Jun 25 2009, 04:09 PM
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Leder, you and I are not so far apart as you may think on this issue, but I think that your idealism is blotting out your awareness of reality.

QUOTE
The necessity of water is immaterial. It is only pertinent in terms of demand. Water is provided in many cases at a price below the market price and that is why there is scarcity. If water was priced correctly, then we wouldn't have scarcity problems because the price would prevent consumers from using it.


Water usage can only be produced to a certain degree regardless of incentives... and then people start dying. Fresh water supplies are dwindling rapidly in parts of the world where water is already being used at a necessity-level and those "consumers" are not able to secure an alternate supply. I agree that water should be priced at cost (or higher), but that will do nothing to help people where there isn't enough water to go around. You and I may be able to migrate to pursue resources, but not everyone is so lucky.

QUOTE
Most water utilities in the world are publicly owned and are provided to the public via massive government subsidy.


Water availability (that is, fresh water which can be harvested) in North America is four times what it is in Asia. At the same time natural (and potentially unnatural) climate forces are constantly redistributing water resources. You want to speak in generalities, so I'll ask you a general question: If a single person needs 1 litre of water per day to survive, there are three people trapped in a room, and only two litres of water are made available each day... how can the market ensure their survival?

QUOTE
Public management or no management is the same thing in this regard. Take your home for instance. If you happen to have a garden in your back yard where you grow tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, lettuce, etc... then the crop produced is your property. Nobody is allowed to enter your property and take your produce without being sanctioned through a court of law. If your back yard was public property, then everyone has an equal right to the crop produced and people can just take anything they want. They do not care about conservation because they have to assume that others will not overindulge as well. As a property owner, you want to conserve the soil in your yard so that next summer, you can grow more vegetables.


You are correct in the garden scenario; but life is not so simple as your example. Say, for example, I start using a fertilizer that benefits my garden, but the water runoff damages my neighbour's...

QUOTE
I don't pretend to have all the answers but all I am opining on is the observation that people need an incentive in order to conserve resources. That incentive is usually the hope of making continual and sustainable profits.


And I am trying to convince you of two things: first, that incentives do not always direct people towards ideal behaviour, and second that market-driven conservation may not be enough. I'll toss in a third right now...

There are four ways in which human behaviour is controlled (a theory promoted by Lawrence Lessig): the market, laws, social norms and architecture. I would argue that of these four, the "free rider dilemma" is most severe for the market. One need look no further than the behaviour of fish-depletion and waste-dumping off the coast of Somalia, or the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by Pakistan in violation of various arms treaties to see that the market can work against effective group interests just as much as it can incentivize it.
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lederuvdapac
post Jun 26 2009, 02:00 PM
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QUOTE(UJ)
Water usage can only be produced to a certain degree regardless of incentives... and then people start dying. Fresh water supplies are dwindling rapidly in parts of the world where water is already being used at a necessity-level and those "consumers" are not able to secure an alternate supply. I agree that water should be priced at cost (or higher), but that will do nothing to help people where there isn't enough water to go around. You and I may be able to migrate to pursue resources, but not everyone is so lucky.


It is a classic case of the tragedy of the commons. When nobody owns the right to the resource, there is no incentive to conserve it. The only incentive is to get as much of it as you can, while you still can. Water is essential for life. But so is food - and food for the most part is priced according to market forces. Farmers own the land they farm and they sell their crops at competitive prices. The farmers take care of the land because it is their property and it is their livelihood. As technology and innovations progress, we have been able to produce more output of food than ever. If we continue down the current path, then maybe in a generation or two starvation will no longer be an issue even in the third world. I am concerned about fresh water supply in the future because it is the kind of thing that can start wars and conflict. This is why I think the solution lies in property rights and the rule of law.

QUOTE(UJ)
You want to speak in generalities, so I'll ask you a general question: If a single person needs 1 litre of water per day to survive, there are three people trapped in a room, and only two litres of water are made available each day... how can the market ensure their survival?


And I will retort, how can a government? Rationing policies don't work. They lead to shortages and misallocations. And it still constitutes a tragedy of the commons where there is little incentive to conserve. The globalized marketplace allows all kinds of goods and services to reach people in far away lands that we do not even know about. The question that I ask is if the scenario works with the distribution of food, which I think we can both agree is equally as essential to life (or at least in the same ballpark), then why is water so special? If you think about it simply as a good that is demanded then it really isn't different at all.

QUOTE(UJ)
Say, for example, I start using a fertilizer that benefits my garden, but the water runoff damages my neighbour's...


If you damage your neighbor, then I think the neighbor should have the right to sue you in court for a violation of his property rights. One of my roommates and I got into an argument about river conservation. He works for an environmental NGO here in DC and their specialty is water conservation. He is all about enhanced regulations on polluters and internalizing the costs of polluting. I tell him that his intentions are good and his logic is rational but the consequences will run counter to his intentions. The fact is that corporations do not have the right to violate your property rights. They do not have the right to dump waste in your yard, they do not have the right to allow runoff to seep past your home and they do not have the right to poison your air. These are property right issues. If they violate it, then you should be able to take them to court and prove harm and seek damages. If the corporation knows they will get sued for their actions, then they are not going to to do it. The pain is immediate. Regulations do not internalize costs. They pass the costs on to the consumer while preventing competitors from being able to enter the marketplace and offer better quality goods and services.


QUOTE(UJ)
There are four ways in which human behaviour is controlled (a theory promoted by Lawrence Lessig): the market, laws, social norms and architecture. I would argue that of these four, the "free rider dilemma" is most severe for the market. One need look no further than the behaviour of fish-depletion and waste-dumping off the coast of Somalia, or the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by Pakistan in violation of various arms treaties to see that the market can work against effective group interests just as much as it can incentivize it.


I still think that these are issues where the problem is a lack of property rights. The Pakistani proliferation scenario cannot really be chalked up to a market failure.
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Ultimatejoe
post Jun 26 2009, 03:33 PM
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QUOTE
The farmers take care of the land because it is their property and it is their livelihood. As technology and innovations progress, we have been able to produce more output of food than ever. If we continue down the current path, then maybe in a generation or two starvation will no longer be an issue even in the third world.

Food and Water make a poor comparison point for several reasons: first, because we cannot "produce" water, we can only work harder to exploit existing supplies. Desalinization is not a viable replacement for fresh water access because of the toxic waste it produces in highly salinated water (the EPA lists it as an toxic waste-product). Second, because once a water supply is exhausted it cannot be replaced. Third, because water cannot be stored or transported as easily as food. And fourth, because water supplies are more vulnerable to environmental conditions because of their constant use; a farmer can survive a drought by getting his food elsewhere, and if the rain returns the soil will as well; outside of the developed world a farmer without water has to abandon his land. Your optimism about the food supply notwithstanding, it does nothing to speak to the issue of fresh water supplies.

QUOTE
It is a classic case of the tragedy of the commons.

This sentence is a classic case of misreading the tragedy of the commons; the point is that people are inherently selfish and will seek to maximize their own interests in the short term when in competition with others. Privatization and property rights are a remedy for this, but so are laws and regulations. The fact that you've avoided all of the challenging examples I discussed and addressed the softer ones demonstrates that your reliance on it does not provide solutions to this problem.

QUOTE
The question that I ask is if the scenario works with the distribution of food, which I think we can both agree is equally as essential to life (or at least in the same ballpark), then why is water so special? If you think about it simply as a good that is demanded then it really isn't different at all.

See my example above. Can you think of another good which people NEED on a daily basis, at a consistent level, that cannot be readily stored or transported in most parts of the world, and which is in a perpetually dwindling supply? We may enjoy the luxury of tap water, but a majority of the world's population does not, and in those areas where it is a luxury there is insufficient capital and water supplies to provide it. Your approach is akin to saying "well, malnutrition isn't a problem in Canada, so those losers in Ethiopia just need to follow Canadian practices..." Once again you've ignored the reality of the situation because it is incompatible with your opinion of how things should work. Explain to me how to transport water in parts of the world when local supplies are insufficient, or how people who have access to water at subsistence levels only are able to reduce consumption please.

QUOTE
They do not have the right to dump waste in your yard, they do not have the right to allow runoff to seep past your home and they do not have the right to poison your air. These are property right issues. If they violate it, then you should be able to take them to court and prove harm and seek damages. If the corporation knows they will get sued for their actions, then they are not going to to do it.

Quite possibly the most naive statement I've ever seen on this board. Ever hear of Bhopal? Corporations measure risk, but their models are not always accurate and the people conducting their measurements aren't always correct, or entirely ethical in their conclusions. We talked about this story in a class I took in high school (sorry, couldn't find the whole article). The people affected are well within their rights to sue, and it didn't exactly act like a successful deterrent. How would property rights have prevented this kind of behaviour? More importantly, do you actually believe that bad behaviour will cease or lessen just because someone is afraid of being sued? The tobacco companies never really seemed to buy into that kind of thinking...

QUOTE
I still think that these are issues where the problem is a lack of property rights. The Pakistani proliferation scenario cannot really be chalked up to a market failure.

How is the Somalian example an issue of property rights? You kind of glossed over that...

The point I was trying to make with Pakistan is that the market does not necessarily promote ideal group behaviour: the creation of the current non-proliferation regime established a legal market for nuclear technology... Pakistan subverted it to pursue its own interests.
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post Jun 26 2009, 04:06 PM
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QUOTE
This is why I think the solution lies in property rights and the rule of law.


For the most part I agree with usage of property rights with your discussion leder, however as you are already aware property law always lags behind environmental and social issues which place pressure on the commons. UJ provided a coherent example where simply providing an accurate price point is not enough to remedy social ills on an essential commodity. The tragedy here is the more accurate the price becomes the more unaffordable it becomes. This is not an economic issue, this is a social one. I think the water serves as salient example where simply commodifying or privatizing a good may not solve all problems.

The second part which UJ could use against your stance if he so chose is for the longest time water use was not properly valued. Industry uses potable water in a consumptive or polluting fashion. Industry can exert an organized cartel-like pressure to reroute water for their own uses in a similar manner as forests are plowed under for palm and soy plantations. This is a political problem which again impedes attaching an accurate price on the given good because food production is consistently valued less than manufacturing. As you know rising food prices become a political issue. Attaching a more realistic value to food production entails recognizing several environmental factors which will squeeze the poor. No government will passively let food production rise just as water usage is too ingrained in less productive fashions to be cut back easily.

Either way barriers exist on the path to proper price points and simply arriving at these numbers is guaranteed to generate chaos in the short term. Either a 500 year pattern of industrialization is going to have to change or an even longer pattern of social proliferation is going to have to change OR we adopt the Mao solution of a harmonious society which plans for premeditated famines.

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lederuvdapac
post Jun 26 2009, 04:25 PM
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Here is the thing UJ - you support two opposing and contradictory outcomes. You want to 1) conserve fresh water & 2) provide water for everyone that needs it. Such a scenario is impossible. You can't conserve water and at the same time provide it on a need basis. There are three options:

1) Conservation via the market. Conservation can best be achieved pricing fresh water according to supply/demand. As demand goes up and supply goes down, the price rises limiting consumption. This will limit the amount of people who have access to water but it will ensure that we will always have it.

2) Provide fresh water on a needs basis. People will have access to fresh water but because it is not priced correctly, it will be consumed at a higher rate and will eventually be completely used up.

3) Mixed solution. This is the governmental and regulatory solution that you propose. However, this option cannot last. As I said, you can't both conserve water and provide it for everyone. What this solution would really do is lead to rationing. The price of water will be held down so that anyone can afford it and have access to it, but it will be rationed because if everyone consumed it, the water would obviously not be conserved. So in reality, in this scenario not everyone will actually be able to access fresh water while at the same time the water will continue to be consumed until it is gone.
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post Jun 26 2009, 05:42 PM
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QUOTE(lederuvdapac)
Here is the thing UJ - you support two opposing and contradictory outcomes. You want to 1) conserve fresh water & 2) provide water for everyone that needs it. Such a scenario is impossible. You can't conserve water and at the same time provide it on a need basis. There are three options:

1) Conservation via the market. Conservation can best be achieved pricing fresh water according to supply/demand. As demand goes up and supply goes down, the price rises limiting consumption. This will limit the amount of people who have access to water but it will ensure that we will always have it.

2) Provide fresh water on a needs basis. People will have access to fresh water but because it is not priced correctly, it will be consumed at a higher rate and will eventually be completely used up.

3) Mixed solution. This is the governmental and regulatory solution that you propose. However, this option cannot last. As I said, you can't both conserve water and provide it for everyone. What this solution would really do is lead to rationing. The price of water will be held down so that anyone can afford it and have access to it, but it will be rationed because if everyone consumed it, the water would obviously not be conserved. So in reality, in this scenario not everyone will actually be able to access fresh water while at the same time the water will continue to be consumed until it is gone.


Not necessarily, because "consumption" is a big heading that covers a lot of possible water uses.

In times of shortage, where the market and the price mechanism is the only driver, one person might die of dehydration while another merely fills up their swimming pool less frequently, because the consumer have unequal access to recources. If they are in the same market, the price mechanism alone is going to let someone die so someone else can swim just yards away from their breakfast table because the price mechanism is blind.

And it's even worse if the person likely to die of dehydration is in Sub-Saharan Africa while the person with the pool is in, say, Wales (where rainfall is FAR higher. Too high to have an outdoor pool, anyway wink.gif ) . There is not one market for the water, so the market mechanism cannot work to price the water to meet both needs.

Yet nobody sane would argue that my mum's neighbour Joe's wish to go for a dip in the morning trumps Ahmed's wish not to die. Would they? And the market doesn't value building a pipeline enough to trunk fresh, disease-free drinking water 6,000 miles (or however much) to Sub-Saharan Africa, because the supplier's expectations of a return of the investment required would be over such a short term (typically 3 years in Anglo-Saxon economies, 5-10 in the European or Japanese models) that prices would be too high to ever attract any custom from the target (Sub-Saharan) market. If they had longer term ROI expectations (which are not set by the simple market of consumer & producer, supply and demand) then maybe the cost per unit might go down far enough that such a pipeline's water might become affordable at the supplied end.

It's not that the simply supply-and-demand model doesn't work; within a single market it broadly does. It's that the corporate investment-return model doesn't work, which is why even domestic governments have to finance, underwrite, commission or just plain build most major infrastructure projects these days.

That's not to say that private corporations can never or have never built major infrastructure off their own bat - they have. Though that was mostly in the past, especially prior to modern management ideas like agency theory and consensuses like those from the Boston consulting group and the world's MBA-churning business schools took hold of Western capitalism. For the past 50 years, most major "public works" have been ultimately funded by government (even the PFI/PPP schemes are in practice underwritten by government).
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