From: Nicholas Dronen <ndronen@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 01 Jun 1996 09:21:59 -0500
Steven, stoned as hell 8) , wrote:
> "The World Health Organisation reports that the biggest killer in the
> world today is not coronary thrombosis or cancer, but 'deep poverty'
> in which a thousand million people live....In the United STates -- the
> richest society in the whole of human history -- 32 million people
> were living below the poverty line in 1988 (at the height of the
> 1980's boom) and nearly one in five children were born into poverty.
> In Britain, a third of children grow up in poverty."
> And here's another:
> "In 1950 the richest fifth of the world's population took 30 percent
> of its incomes; today they take 60 percent. Meanwhile, the poorest
> fifth of humanity are left to share a mere 1.4 percent of total world
> (Both taken from: Harman, C. _Economics of the Madhouse: Capitalism
> and the Market Today_ (London: Bookmarks, 1995).
> Evidently, capitalism does produce prosperity. But that is certainly
> no reason not to work for its speedy overthrow and forcible
> suppression, in Marx's phrase, "by the immense majority, in the
> interest of the immense majority."
Marx, clearly, was was affected by Dickensian Londen. He lived
during a time of radical economic change and it certainly wasn't pretty.
I don't know if his "insights" apply today. Sure, we can throw about Marxist
theory, but can we throw it about *as if* its terms really fit the phenomenon?
Steven, from the rooftops:
> Slavery (that is, non-"wage-slavery") produced prosperity for SOME
> people. But that was not a point in its favour, according to most
The emphasis in neo-classical economics is on freedom, not slavery,
and I think the metaphor of slavery is only accurate insofar as "employment"
represents a *temporary* loss of freedom.
Many economists analyse employment in terms of the individual's ability
to take a certain job or leave it. However, I do concede that in the West most
people have to take some job or other; that is, whether to accept a job *at all*
is not a salient question.
Steven, with madness in his eyes, wrote:
> Yet another quotation, this one pertaining to the relation between
> capitalism and "scarcity":
> "In the short term, of course,
> huge surpluses of cereals and dairy products are being stored in
> government silos and refrigerated butter mountains all over America
> and Europe."
> (Anatole Kaletsky, _Financial Times_ (UK), April 3, 1985).
> I do not claim that this settles the issues surrounding scarcity. But
> it clearly DOES show that anyone who goes hungry today goes hungry
> BECAUSE OF CAPITALIST PROPERTY RELATIONS (that is, because they only
> get as much food as they can pay some boss for, such that the latter
> makes a profit), and that therefore the question as to the so-called
> "legitimacy" of those relations cannot be settled without reference to
> the question as to the "legitimacy" of unnecessary death-by-starvation.
The governments of America and Europe do have a ton of grain and
other commodities in store and some people are starving. But why, pray
tell, are only *America and Europe* mentioned as having these immoral
surpluses? Other than simply having been blessed with good land, they
have in common that they are more efficient agricultural producers.
"Property is the spirit of the laws." The idea that justice would
be served well by a permanent policy to take *forcefully* from the have's
and give to the have-not's is suspicious insofar as it is doubtful (given
the example of the U.S.S.R.: ) whether we would have any have's at all in
such a system (and, if we did have any have's, it is doubtful that they
would be anything less than party posses and smugglers). It is much more
appropriate to consider the North-South problem as a problem of economic
development. It's wrong for a poor country to blame a rich one for its
plight. The rich one did not cause the condition of the poor one. The rich
one simply isn't poor. That is, of course, not to say that we could not have
more generous foreign aid programs. In the long run, however, it would be
better to focus on developing the poor countries rather than repeatedly giving
grain to them.
Steven, numb as a rock, added one last quotation:
> "The form of association...which, if mankind continues to improve,
> must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can
> exist between a capitalist as chief, and workpeople without a voice in
> the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on
> terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they
> carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and
> removable by themselves."
> (John Stuart Mill, "Principles of Political Economy")
In order for a voluntary labor cooperative (assuming you're talking
about them and not a top-down enforcement of a cooperative arrangement on
all firms) to be as productive as a "capitalist" firm, it would need very
dedicated members. Free-riders abound in the world. They're out there,
waiting to sap you and me of valuable resources. Be careful.
Back to packing!