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Rentier Capitalism – Veblen in the 21st Century
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Credit: Michael-Hudson.com
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In 2012 a conference was held on Thorstein Veblen in Istanbul. It was sponsored by a socialist labor union, the Chamber of Electrical Engineers. We were asked why not focus on Marx. My answer was that Marx had died a generation earlier, and the major critique of finance capitalism had passed to Veblen. This book (from which my following remarks are excerpted) is a series of essays, including by myself and another NC friend, Michael Perelman.

Edited excerpt from Michael Hudson and Ahmet Oncu, eds., Absentee Ownership and its Discontents: Critical Essays on the legacy of Thorstein Veblen (ISLET 2016, ). [Just published.]

Simon Patten recalled in 1912 that his generation of American economists – most of whom studied in Germany in the 1870s – were taught that John Stuart Mill’s 1848 Principles of Political Economy was the high-water mark of classical thought, and nationalizing monopolies or regulating their prices to reflect actual production costs. However, Patten added, Mill’s reformist philosophy turned out to be “not a goal but a half-way house” toward the Progressive Era’s reforms, above all either nationalizing land or fully taxing it, and either nationalizing monopolies or at least regulating their prices to bring them in line with actual production costs. Mill was “a thinker becoming a socialist without seeing what the change really meant,” Patten concluded. “The Nineteenth Century epoch ends not with the theories of Mill but with the more logical systems of Karl Marx and Henry George.” But George was only a muckraking journalist and anti-academic, so the classical approach to political economy evolved above all through Thorstein Veblen.

Like Marx and the rising socialist agitation, Veblen’s ideas threatened what he called the “vested interests.” What made his analysis so disturbing was what he retained from the past. Classical political economy had used the labor theory of value to isolate the elements of price that had no counterpart in necessary costs of production. Economic rent – the excess of price over this “real cost” – is unearned income. It is an overhead charge for access to land, minerals or other natural resources, bank credit or other basic needs that are monopolized.

HudsonBook This concept of unearned income as an unnecessary element of price led Veblen to focus on what now is called financial engineering, speculation and debt leveraging. The perception that a rising proportion of income and wealth is an unearned “free lunch” formed the take-off point for him to put real estate and financial scheming at the center of his analysis, at a time when mainstream economists were dropping these areas of concern. Veblen’s exclusion from today’s curriculum is part of the reaction against classical political economy’s program of social reform. By the time he began to publish in the 1890s, academic economics was in the throes of a counter-revolution sponsored by large landholders, bankers and monopolists denying that there was any such thing as unearned income. The new post-classical mainstream accepted existing property rights and privileges as a “given.” In contrast to Veblen’s argument that the economy was all about organizing predatory schemes, this approach culminated in Milton Friedman’s Chicago School defense the pro-rentier argument: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

This blunt denial rejected th e preceding three centuries of classical value and price theory, along with its policy conclusions promoting taxation of land and other natural endowments, and financial reform. Dropped from view was rentier overhead in the form of predatory and unproductive forms of wealth seeking. The post-classical mainstream treats all income as “earned,” including that of rentiers. Lacking the classical concepts of unproductive labor, credit or investment, today’s textbooks describe income as a reward for one’s contribution to production, and wealth is being “saved up” as a result of someone’s productive investment effort, not as an unearned or predatory free lunch.

This shift in theory has shaped the seemingly empirical National Income and Product Accounts to indulge in a circular reasoning that treats recipients of rent and interest as providing a service, an economic contribution equal to whatever rentiers receive as “earnings.” There are no categories for unearned income or speculative asset-price gains.

Veblen described the largest sectors of the economy where quick fortunes were made as being all about organizing rent-seeking opportunities to obtain income without real cost. He viewed psychological utility as social in character. In contrast to food or other satiable bodily needs characterized by diminishing marginal utility – e.g., from eating food and becoming satiated – his concept of conspicuous consumption emphasized the insatiable drives to raise one’s social status.

The desire for consumer goods was characterized by fads for the most pricey goods as trophies of one’s wealth. The result was the mercenary vulgarity of wealthy Babbitts turning culture into an arena for shifting fashion, all to impress others with similar shallow sensitivities. The largest factor defining status was the neighborhood where one’s home was located. Housing was not simply a basic living space as “use value.” It established one’s position in society, duly enhanced by civic boosterism, public subsidy and infrastructure spending.

“The Great American Game”: Real Estate

Describing real estate as being “the great American game,” Veblen focused on how future prices were enhanced over present values by advertising and promotion. “Real estate is an enterprise in ‘futures,’ designed to get something for nothing from the unwary, of whom it is believed by experienced persons that ‘there is one born every minute.’” Farmers and other rural families from the surrounding lands look “forward to the time when the community’s advancing needs will enable them to realise on the inflated values of their real estate,” that is, find a sucker “to take them at their word and become their debtors in the amount which they say their real estate is worth.” The entire operation, from individual properties to the town as a whole, is “an enterprise in salesmanship,” with collusion being the rule.

Retailers in small towns collude to exploit farmers, a practice broken by the spread of mail order catalogues. But monopoly power is achieved most rigorously in local banking.

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Most loans are for mortgages to inflate land prices. “And the banker is under the necessity –‘inner necessity,’ as the Hegelians say – of getting all he can and securing himself against all risk, at the cost of any whom it may concern, by such charges and stipulations as will insure his net gain in any event.”

Land prices were rising in larger cities as a result of overall prosperity and the easier availability of mortgage financing, while public spending on roads, subway and bus systems, parks, museums and other prestigious activities were organized to enhance neighborhood values.

Such practices prompted Veblen to criticize Clark and also Marshall for ignoring the “pecuniary” financial dimension of life. This was a glaring error of omission in the new mainstream, along with monopolies and large real estate frauds started in colonial times, highlighted by the Yahoo land fraud early in the Republic, and capped by the railroad land grants. As Henry Liu describes how Veblen emphasized the predatory role of high finance:

“Veblen put forth a basic distinction between the productiveness of ‘industry’ run by skilled engineers, which manufactures real goods of utility, and the parasitism of ‘business,’ which exists only to make profits for a leisure class which engages in ‘conspicuous consumption’. The only economic contribution by the leisure class is ‘economic waste’, activities that contribute negatively to productivity. By implication, Veblen saw the US economy as being made inefficient and corrupt by men of ‘business’ who deviously put themselves in an indispensable position in society.”

Veblen against academia turned business Veblen criticized academic economists for having fallen subject to “trained incapacity” as a result of being turned into factotums to defend rentier interests. Business schools were painting an unrealistic happy-face picture of the economy, teaching financial techniques but leaving out of account the need to reform the economy’s practices and institutions.

In a conclusion recalling Veblen’s Higher Education in America, Herman Kahn describes how peer pressure leads experts to accept explanations that deviate from accepted concepts: Educated incapacity often refers to an acquired or learned inability to understand or even perceive a problem, much less a solution. The original phrase, “trained incapacity,” comes from the economist Thorstein Veblen, who used it to refer, among other things, to the inability of those with engineering or sociology training to understand certain issues which they would have been able to understand if they had not had this training.

Kahn adds that this phenomenon occurs especially “at leading universities in the United States – particularly in the departments of psychology, sociology, and history, and to a degree in the humanities generally. Individuals raised in this milieu often have difficulty with relatively simple degrees of reality testing.” The problem is greatest in economics, of course.

From Marx to Veblen

Early (and most non-Marxist) socialism aimed to achieve greater equality mainly by taxing away unearned rentier income and keeping natural resources and monopolies in the public domain. The Marxist focus on class conflict between industrial employers and workers relegated criticism of rentiers to a secondary position, leaving that fight to more bourgeois reformers. Financial savings were treated as an accumulation of industrial profits, not as the autonomous phenomenon that Marx himself emphasized in Volume 3 of Capital.

Headed by Lenin, Marx’s followers discussed finance capital mainly in reference to the drives of imperialism. The ruin of Persia and Egypt was notorious, and creditors installed collectors in the customs houses in Europe’s former Latin American colonies. The major problem anticipated was war spurred by commercial rivalries as the world was being carved up.

It was left to Veblen to deal with the rentiers’ increasingly dominant yet corrosive role, extracting their wealth by imposing overhead charges on the rest of society. The campaign for land taxation and even financial reform faded from popular discussion as socialists and other reformers became increasingly Marxist and focused on the industrial exploitation of labor.

Veblen described how the rentier classes were on the ascendant rather than being reformed, taxed out of existence or socialized. His Theory of Business Enterprise (1904) emphasized the divergence between productive capacity, the book value of business assets and their stock-market price (what today is called the Q ratio of market price to book value).

He saw the rising financial overhead as leading toward corporate bankruptcy and liquidation. Industry was becoming financialized, putting financial gains ahead of production. Today’s financial managers use profits not to invest but to buy up their company’s stock (thus raising the value of their stock options) and pay out as dividends, and even borrow to pay themselves.

Hedge funds have become notorious for stripping assets and loading companies down with debt, leaving bankrupt shells in their wake in what George Ackerlof and Paul Romer have characterized as looting.

In emphasizing how financial “predation” was hijacking the economy’s technological potential, Veblen’s vision was as materialist and culturally broad as that of Marxists, and as rejecting of the status quo. Technological innovation was reducing costs but breeding monopolies as the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sectors joined forces to create a financial symbiosis cemented by political insider dealings – and a trivialization of economic theory as it seeks to avoid dealing with society’s failure to achieve its technological potential.

The fruits of rising productivity were used to finance robber barons who had no better use of their wealth than to reduce great artworks to the status of ownership trophies and achieve leisure class status by funding business schools and colleges to promote a self-congratulatory but deceptive portrayal of their wealth-grabbing behavior.

Significance of Veblen for Today

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As the heirs to classical political economy and the German historical school, the American institutionalists retained rent theory and its corollary idea of unearned income. More than any other institutionalist, Veblen emphasized the dynamics of banks financing real estate speculation and Wall Street maneuvering to organize monopolies and trusts. Yet despite the popularity of his writings with the reading public, his contribution has remained isolated from the academic mainstream, and he did not leave a “school.” The rentier strategy has been to make rent extraction invisible, not the center of attention it occupied in classical political economy. One barely sees today a quantification of the degree to which overhead charges for rent, insurance and interest are rising above the cost of production, even as this prices financialized economies out of world markets.

The narrowing of Chicago-style monetarism and neoliberalism has left the economics discipline in much the state that Max Planck applied to physics from Maxwell to Einstein: “Progress occurs one funeral at a time.”

The old conservatives die off, freeing the way for more progressive successors to take the steering wheel. But what makes today’s economics different is that it actually would help to look backward, to the epoch before the financial sector and its allied rentier interests hijacked the discipline. The most systematic analysis of this process was that of Veblen nearly a century ago. It remains sufficiently relevant that Marxists and more heterodox critics have incorporated his theorizing into their worldview.

(Republished from Michael-Hudson.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Rentier, Thorstein Veblen 
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  1. Kudos to you for another fine article and for deciphering Veblen. I found him harder to read than Marx in Das Kapital (though Marx’s letters are both clear and amusing).

    But what makes today’s economics different is that it actually would help to look backward, to the epoch before the financial sector and its allied rentier interests hijacked the discipline.

    Looking backward can be quite amazing. Plutarch on debt in Moralia and Tacitus on usury and money lender bailouts in The Annals are startlingly relevant today.

    16 1 Meanwhile, an army of accusers broke loose on the persons who habitually increased their riches by usury, in contravention of a law of the dictator Caesar,51 regulating the conditions of lending money and holding property within the boundaries of Italy: a measure dropped long ago, since the public good ranks second to private utility.

    The curse of usury, it must be owned, is inveterate in Rome, a constant source of sedition and discord; and attempts were accordingly made to repress it even in an older and less corrupt society.

    First came a provision of the Twelve Tables52 that the rate of interest, previously governed by the fancy of the rich, should not exceed one-twelfth per cent for the month; later53 a tribunician rogation lowered it to one-half of that amount; and at length usufruct was unconditionally banned;54 while a series of plebiscites strove to meet the frauds which were perpetually repressed, only, by extraordinary evasions, to make their appearance once more.

    Financial ruin brought down in its train both rank and reputation, till the Caesar came to the rescue by distributing a hundred million sesterces among various counting-houses…[and] a vigorous beginning lapsing as usual into a careless end.”

    TACITUS, ANNALS, Book VI (beginning)1

    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Tacitus/Annals/6A*.html

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  2. Mencken’s classic essay “Professor Veblen” is easily available online. Veblen is mercilessly skewered as a silly old fraud with zero new ideas and zero command of the English language. It’s worth a read if you want a good laugh…..

    Read More
    • Replies: @jacques sheete
    Thanks for that! That's exactly what I thought when trying to read Veblen. He kept using some obscure word repeatedly in a very annoying manner. It seemed that he used it in every other paragraph and his writing I would judge was worse than Marx's.

    I was surprised to read that he once had some credibility among the masses.


    Mencken on Veblen

    What the reader then had to struggle with was not only intolerably bad writing, but also loose, flabby, cocksure and preposterous thinking. . .

    .http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=101157.0;wap2

     

    I wouldn't even elevate Veblen's windiness to the status of thinking.
  3. I am reminded that our noble founder George Washington was a land surveyor and speculator supreme. Quo Vadis America!

    Read More
  4. Michael,

    I like your points.

    Bought The Theory of the Leisure Class ten or so years ago. Think I still have it in a box somewhere.

    I never finished it. However, I have no doubt of having received the whole idea from the third or so I read, and skimming through the rest to see it is all the same.

    It is irritatingly repetitive, turgid, pompous, and badly written in many other respects, not least flow.

    Reading it is an insult to the brain, not because the ideas or words are too difficult, but because the ideas are so badly expressed through bad usage of words.

    If Leisure Class is typical of Veblen’s work, it is no wonder that he is underrated. He deserves it for the abysmal quality of his prose.

    Read More
    • Replies: @edNels
    You just named the fault of Economics text books. Annecdotally, I began second semester (Econ 1b)
    and in the first session looking through the used book just purchased, sure enough every paragraph of every page was bad writing, IE: all run on sentences, needless modifying adverbs, cryptic, obscure, totally by intention: impossible!

    But once you know why that is it makes sense. That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ''Economist''. These beginning courses, as is common, weedout many, so that there is a concentration of the field. In this field like others, though, it helps to be a certain type, with a certain gift for BS!

    Degreed economists are in demand, as it is well understood by corporations, governments etc. that these are some of most pathetically (dwarfish) products of the educational institutions, they endeavor to achieve a shingle to hang out, while the intellectual dishonesty is so total, They actually read these tombs of complete crap decorated with pathetic faux ''econometrics'' algebraic equations, (holy shit!) a complete bunch of silly postulations about nonsense!

    Hence, these graduates are the ones you want to feather bed your offices because they are malleable to the max, and will make any fool theory sound authentic in their gaddamned arcane jargon, and they probable can work with the teams of accountants with their creative bents as it were.

    I have to say though, that Michael Hudson makes sensible points about economics without the obscuritan jargoning. He demystifies things remarkably.
  5. One tires of the pseudo-science of “economics”, given that there is no “right” answer to anything in it. Veblen is credited with “having laid the foundation for institutional economics” (see https://infogalactic.com/info/Thorstein_Veblen), a school of thought that at least was dynamic rather than static, but his knowledge of economics didn’t save him from an ignominious end in poverty.

    Economics 101 right through a doctorate: Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.

    Read More
  6. I’m no fan of the evil Zionist Marxism but to reject it because its founder rabbi Karl Marx died over a century ago, is a very dumb argument.

    For example, St. Paul (Saul) the founder of modern Christianity died 2,000 years ago – doesn’t mean 1.7 billion Christian around the world should convert to the new Jewish religion of Holocaust.

    The vultures at the Wall Street, IMF and the rest of 1% Capitalists consider Marxist, Socialist, and Islamic banking systems threats to their economic monopoly – therefore, they all must be destroyed through propaganda lies, threats, and wars.

    These days, criticism of Capitalism, like Israel, Holocaust and Zionism is labeled as an old-fashioned anti-Semitism – because all of them are dominated by the Organized Jewry.

    On August 5, 2014, Walter Williams claimed at the Capitalism Magazine that criticism of Israel’s war against Hamas is “antisemitism”.

    In December 2013, the kosher Pope Francis was accused of being a communist for criticizing Capitalism.

    Werner Sombart (died 1941), German sociologist and author in his 1911 book, ‘The Jews & Modern Capitalism’, claimed that Jewish elites were the dominant beneficiary of Capitalism…..

    https://rehmat1.com/2015/01/22/capitalism-is-jewish/

    Read More
  7. @nsa
    Mencken's classic essay "Professor Veblen" is easily available online. Veblen is mercilessly skewered as a silly old fraud with zero new ideas and zero command of the English language. It's worth a read if you want a good laugh.....

    Thanks for that! That’s exactly what I thought when trying to read Veblen. He kept using some obscure word repeatedly in a very annoying manner. It seemed that he used it in every other paragraph and his writing I would judge was worse than Marx’s.

    I was surprised to read that he once had some credibility among the masses.

    Mencken on Veblen

    What the reader then had to struggle with was not only intolerably bad writing, but also loose, flabby, cocksure and preposterous thinking. . .

    .http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=101157.0;wap2

    I wouldn’t even elevate Veblen’s windiness to the status of thinking.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jacques sheete
    The word was "invidious." He used it on average, on nearly every page in his "Theory of the Leisure Class."
  8. @jacques sheete
    Thanks for that! That's exactly what I thought when trying to read Veblen. He kept using some obscure word repeatedly in a very annoying manner. It seemed that he used it in every other paragraph and his writing I would judge was worse than Marx's.

    I was surprised to read that he once had some credibility among the masses.


    Mencken on Veblen

    What the reader then had to struggle with was not only intolerably bad writing, but also loose, flabby, cocksure and preposterous thinking. . .

    .http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=101157.0;wap2

     

    I wouldn't even elevate Veblen's windiness to the status of thinking.

    The word was “invidious.” He used it on average, on nearly every page in his “Theory of the Leisure Class.”

    Read More
  9. @Che Guava
    Michael,

    I like your points.

    Bought The Theory of the Leisure Class ten or so years ago. Think I still have it in a box somewhere.

    I never finished it. However, I have no doubt of having received the whole idea from the third or so I read, and skimming through the rest to see it is all the same.

    It is irritatingly repetitive, turgid, pompous, and badly written in many other respects, not least flow.

    Reading it is an insult to the brain, not because the ideas or words are too difficult, but because the ideas are so badly expressed through bad usage of words.

    If Leisure Class is typical of Veblen's work, it is no wonder that he is underrated. He deserves it for the abysmal quality of his prose.

    You just named the fault of Economics text books. Annecdotally, I began second semester (Econ 1b)
    and in the first session looking through the used book just purchased, sure enough every paragraph of every page was bad writing, IE: all run on sentences, needless modifying adverbs, cryptic, obscure, totally by intention: impossible!

    But once you know why that is it makes sense. That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ”Economist”. These beginning courses, as is common, weedout many, so that there is a concentration of the field. In this field like others, though, it helps to be a certain type, with a certain gift for BS!

    Degreed economists are in demand, as it is well understood by corporations, governments etc. that these are some of most pathetically (dwarfish) products of the educational institutions, they endeavor to achieve a shingle to hang out, while the intellectual dishonesty is so total, They actually read these tombs of complete crap decorated with pathetic faux ”econometrics” algebraic equations, (holy shit!) a complete bunch of silly postulations about nonsense!

    Hence, these graduates are the ones you want to feather bed your offices because they are malleable to the max, and will make any fool theory sound authentic in their gaddamned arcane jargon, and they probable can work with the teams of accountants with their creative bents as it were.

    I have to say though, that Michael Hudson makes sensible points about economics without the obscuritan jargoning. He demystifies things remarkably.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jacques sheete
    The fact that you already can discern BS when that's what it is means that you are already educated far beyond most folks.

    Good for you! Great comment.
    , @Che Guava

    I agree on Michael Hudson, but am already familiar with most of the concepts he explains very well.

    BTW, the correct term is political economy, economics is a little different.

    You clearly have only read extracts of Veblen, if you had struggled through many pages in sequence, you would have a better idea of what I meant about his awful writing.

    The Wiz of Oz says

    I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class ” in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of “conspicuous consumption”.
     
    'At least enough' is telling, Leisure Class is unreadable, 'conspicuous consumption' is not a novel phenomenon described by Veblen, although his description of the far from novel phenomenon is one of the few points where his laboured work almost lurches out of zombie writing territory.

    It is also in the earlier pages. The Wiz read much less of it than I, in fact the whole ties in to much of what Hudson is explaining in his article.

    From your own reply, edNels:

    That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ”Economist”.
     
    Of course it is true, all of the 'soft sciences' are bullshit, psychology a partial exception some of the time.

    Not so sure about the demand for 'economists', seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors.

    Mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and programmers tend to get the economy-related work outside that. Many would rather be doing something in their own fields, but the state-sector economist and sociology types are eager to throw mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and programmers off a cliff given the chance.

    Waste of the training and study of the latter groups, but as you say, economists are more than a little stupid much of the time.
  10. Retailers in small towns collude to exploit farmers, a practice broken by the spread of mail order catalogues. But monopoly power is achieved most rigorously in local banking.

    Retailers should all be cooperatives, owned by its local customers. Land and buildings and stock and lending should all be a function of its users. This especially goes for banks. They should all be credit unions owned and controlled by their depositors.

    Local ownership is the only method of sustainable long-term human cooperative interaction.

    Currently big money Wall Street is taking over Main Street – Main Street must be in the hands of Home Street. Wall Street is all about money – Home Street is about sustained living with one’s neighbors. Money is a means – not the end-all of human attainment.

    Read More
    • Agree: John Jeremiah Smith
    • Replies: @Oleaginous Outrager
    Sure, set up a co-op to operate and maintain the power grid too, and another co-op for the extraction of petroleum, coal, nat gas, et al? It's the socialist Utopia! Economics and finance are merely badly thought out abstractions of the immutable physics of our existence: usable energy is finite.

    The simplistic notion that the JIT, long supply chain dependent world we live in can simply be repaired by "going local" is as absurd as anything Veblen or Marx ever committed to paper. It's the same elephant in the room that the green energy crowd refuses to even acknowledge, much less offer solutions for.

    , @OutWest
    I thought it was Walmart that took out the small retailers. Do you consider Amazon a catalog outlet?
  11. @Art
    Retailers in small towns collude to exploit farmers, a practice broken by the spread of mail order catalogues. But monopoly power is achieved most rigorously in local banking.

    Retailers should all be cooperatives, owned by its local customers. Land and buildings and stock and lending should all be a function of its users. This especially goes for banks. They should all be credit unions owned and controlled by their depositors.

    Local ownership is the only method of sustainable long-term human cooperative interaction.

    Currently big money Wall Street is taking over Main Street - Main Street must be in the hands of Home Street. Wall Street is all about money - Home Street is about sustained living with one’s neighbors. Money is a means - not the end-all of human attainment.

    Sure, set up a co-op to operate and maintain the power grid too, and another co-op for the extraction of petroleum, coal, nat gas, et al? It’s the socialist Utopia! Economics and finance are merely badly thought out abstractions of the immutable physics of our existence: usable energy is finite.

    The simplistic notion that the JIT, long supply chain dependent world we live in can simply be repaired by “going local” is as absurd as anything Veblen or Marx ever committed to paper. It’s the same elephant in the room that the green energy crowd refuses to even acknowledge, much less offer solutions for.

    Read More
  12. @edNels
    You just named the fault of Economics text books. Annecdotally, I began second semester (Econ 1b)
    and in the first session looking through the used book just purchased, sure enough every paragraph of every page was bad writing, IE: all run on sentences, needless modifying adverbs, cryptic, obscure, totally by intention: impossible!

    But once you know why that is it makes sense. That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ''Economist''. These beginning courses, as is common, weedout many, so that there is a concentration of the field. In this field like others, though, it helps to be a certain type, with a certain gift for BS!

    Degreed economists are in demand, as it is well understood by corporations, governments etc. that these are some of most pathetically (dwarfish) products of the educational institutions, they endeavor to achieve a shingle to hang out, while the intellectual dishonesty is so total, They actually read these tombs of complete crap decorated with pathetic faux ''econometrics'' algebraic equations, (holy shit!) a complete bunch of silly postulations about nonsense!

    Hence, these graduates are the ones you want to feather bed your offices because they are malleable to the max, and will make any fool theory sound authentic in their gaddamned arcane jargon, and they probable can work with the teams of accountants with their creative bents as it were.

    I have to say though, that Michael Hudson makes sensible points about economics without the obscuritan jargoning. He demystifies things remarkably.

    The fact that you already can discern BS when that’s what it is means that you are already educated far beyond most folks.

    Good for you! Great comment.

    Read More
  13. Sure, set up a co-op to operate and maintain the power grid too, and another co-op for the extraction of petroleum, coal, nat gas, et al?

    My power company is three quarters of the way to being a full coop. It is a partial government operation. It has an elected board of directors. It works well – it is dependable – its rates are reasonable. It helps those who are poor – I like that. It would be better if it was 100% owned by its customers.

    My phone company is a Wall Street operation – they are my enemy – they try and nick me 50-different way. It would be far better if I sent my payments to a local company that looks out for ME. That goes for about everything I buy. It is not written in stone that we must have a greedy Wall Street ownership system in order to live.

    National business can operate locally through cooperative franchise arrangements. All this can be done with no changes in law.

    Economics and finance are merely badly thought out abstractions of the immutable physics of our existence: usable energy is finite.

    The whole universe and everything in it is energy – how can we run out of the universe? The facts are that every day now, we use less energy to do more – we are getting more efficient at everything. The problem is the greed of the 1%, they are a drag on our future – end of story – period.

    Private local cooperative ownership is the only rational sustainable way for humanity to function.

    Read More
  14. @Art
    Retailers in small towns collude to exploit farmers, a practice broken by the spread of mail order catalogues. But monopoly power is achieved most rigorously in local banking.

    Retailers should all be cooperatives, owned by its local customers. Land and buildings and stock and lending should all be a function of its users. This especially goes for banks. They should all be credit unions owned and controlled by their depositors.

    Local ownership is the only method of sustainable long-term human cooperative interaction.

    Currently big money Wall Street is taking over Main Street - Main Street must be in the hands of Home Street. Wall Street is all about money - Home Street is about sustained living with one’s neighbors. Money is a means - not the end-all of human attainment.

    I thought it was Walmart that took out the small retailers. Do you consider Amazon a catalog outlet?

    Read More
  15. I thought it was Walmart that took out the small retailers. Do you consider Amazon a catalog outlet?

    We need more local private cooperative companies. The current mix on Main Street is 80% Wall Street. Walmart and Amazon are Wall Street companies. Yes they are more efficient – but are they making for a more stable local culture? Walmart has evolved to were the variety of goods that they sell is greatly diminished. And the service from its employees has fallen off. The Walmart of today is not Bill Walton’s Walmart.

    Walmart and Amazon accelerated the Chinese takeover of American manufacturing. Walmart could buy at cheap prices in sufficient volumes, without the expense of sales and distribution concerns to the Chinese. This is lose lose for local America.

    The local retailers who Walmart and Amazon replaced constituted a more stable society then what we have today.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith

    Walmart and Amazon accelerated the Chinese takeover of American manufacturing. Walmart could buy at cheap prices in sufficient volumes, without the expense of sales and distribution concerns to the Chinese. This is lose lose for local America.
     
    Much like the "immigration crisis" can be quickly halted and reversed by fining and imprisoning employers of illegal aliens, so can the big-box retail problem be cured by putting tariffs on imported goods. It's very simple and very functional.

    All of these situations stem from allowing any and all donations to political campaigns. You want immigration stopped? Limit political donations to $10. You want corporate thievery of the citizenry to stop? Limit political donations to $10.
    , @OutWest
    The Co Ops have been coopted! In the industry I’m familiar with small outlets have banded together for purchasing power. The members are precluded from buying from “non-approved” sources. All there approved (low price/low quality) sources are in China or Taiwan. It turns out that a few large, state-assisted sources are cheaper (in every sense) than local sources. The irritating part is that the state assistance includes the U.S. government, mostly for foreign suppliers and a few large domestic political contributors.
  16. E. O. Wilson has said in reference to ants “Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species” He meant that while ants and other eusocial species appear to live in communist-like societies, they only do so because they are forced to do so from their basic biology, as they lack reproductive independence: worker ants, being sterile, need their ant-queen in order to survive as a colony and a species, and individual ants cannot reproduce without a queen and are thus forced to live in centralised societies. Humans, however, do possess reproductive independence so they can give birth to offspring without the need of a “queen”, and in fact humans enjoy their maximum level of Darwinian fitness only when they look after themselves and their offspring, while finding innovative ways to use the societies they live in for their own benefit.
    An Eminent scientist debunks “socialism”. Please disregard Michael Hudson.

    Read More
  17. I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class ” in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of “conspicuous consumption”. With more knowledge of the world one grasps that the idea of conspicuous consumption can be a great oversimplification. Many people in Anglophone cultures are brought up to treat conspicuous consumption with distaste and disdain. Many cultures likewise discourage excessive display. Not every modern culture even has the equivalent of the big man chief who provides many pigs for banquets for the little people.

    Stll I’m all for a personal consumption tax on top of VATs, sales taxes and the like. I believe most societies would accept a lower income tax combined with income related taxes on consumption after allowing deductions for health, education, charity and net investment.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith

    I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class ” in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of “conspicuous consumption”. With more knowledge of the world one grasps that the idea of conspicuous consumption can be a great oversimplification.
     
    To control problems created by the "leisure class" phenomenon, you need control of the media. That will work, but it creates new and different problems, viz. Russian "retailers" in the 80s.
  18. John Jeremiah Smith [AKA "MCPO USN"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Art
    I thought it was Walmart that took out the small retailers. Do you consider Amazon a catalog outlet?

    We need more local private cooperative companies. The current mix on Main Street is 80% Wall Street. Walmart and Amazon are Wall Street companies. Yes they are more efficient - but are they making for a more stable local culture? Walmart has evolved to were the variety of goods that they sell is greatly diminished. And the service from its employees has fallen off. The Walmart of today is not Bill Walton’s Walmart.

    Walmart and Amazon accelerated the Chinese takeover of American manufacturing. Walmart could buy at cheap prices in sufficient volumes, without the expense of sales and distribution concerns to the Chinese. This is lose lose for local America.

    The local retailers who Walmart and Amazon replaced constituted a more stable society then what we have today.

    Walmart and Amazon accelerated the Chinese takeover of American manufacturing. Walmart could buy at cheap prices in sufficient volumes, without the expense of sales and distribution concerns to the Chinese. This is lose lose for local America.

    Much like the “immigration crisis” can be quickly halted and reversed by fining and imprisoning employers of illegal aliens, so can the big-box retail problem be cured by putting tariffs on imported goods. It’s very simple and very functional.

    All of these situations stem from allowing any and all donations to political campaigns. You want immigration stopped? Limit political donations to $10. You want corporate thievery of the citizenry to stop? Limit political donations to $10.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art
    All of these situations stem from allowing any and all donations to political campaigns. You want immigration stopped? Limit political donations to $10. You want corporate thievery of the citizenry to stop? Limit political donations to $10.

    All politicians must take a pledge to take NO money or anything of value from anyone who can not vote for them. The max amount given, should be a reasonable amount for a middle class citizen.

    No pledge - no vote - PERIOD!

    (This is all voluntary, it requires no changes in law.)
  19. John Jeremiah Smith [AKA "MCPO USN"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Wizard of Oz
    I read "The Theory of the Leisure Class " in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of "conspicuous consumption". With more knowledge of the world one grasps that the idea of conspicuous consumption can be a great oversimplification. Many people in Anglophone cultures are brought up to treat conspicuous consumption with distaste and disdain. Many cultures likewise discourage excessive display. Not every modern culture even has the equivalent of the big man chief who provides many pigs for banquets for the little people.

    Stll I'm all for a personal consumption tax on top of VATs, sales taxes and the like. I believe most societies would accept a lower income tax combined with income related taxes on consumption after allowing deductions for health, education, charity and net investment.

    I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class ” in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of “conspicuous consumption”. With more knowledge of the world one grasps that the idea of conspicuous consumption can be a great oversimplification.

    To control problems created by the “leisure class” phenomenon, you need control of the media. That will work, but it creates new and different problems, viz. Russian “retailers” in the 80s.

    Read More
  20. @edNels
    You just named the fault of Economics text books. Annecdotally, I began second semester (Econ 1b)
    and in the first session looking through the used book just purchased, sure enough every paragraph of every page was bad writing, IE: all run on sentences, needless modifying adverbs, cryptic, obscure, totally by intention: impossible!

    But once you know why that is it makes sense. That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ''Economist''. These beginning courses, as is common, weedout many, so that there is a concentration of the field. In this field like others, though, it helps to be a certain type, with a certain gift for BS!

    Degreed economists are in demand, as it is well understood by corporations, governments etc. that these are some of most pathetically (dwarfish) products of the educational institutions, they endeavor to achieve a shingle to hang out, while the intellectual dishonesty is so total, They actually read these tombs of complete crap decorated with pathetic faux ''econometrics'' algebraic equations, (holy shit!) a complete bunch of silly postulations about nonsense!

    Hence, these graduates are the ones you want to feather bed your offices because they are malleable to the max, and will make any fool theory sound authentic in their gaddamned arcane jargon, and they probable can work with the teams of accountants with their creative bents as it were.

    I have to say though, that Michael Hudson makes sensible points about economics without the obscuritan jargoning. He demystifies things remarkably.


    I agree on Michael Hudson, but am already familiar with most of the concepts he explains very well.

    BTW, the correct term is political economy, economics is a little different.

    You clearly have only read extracts of Veblen, if you had struggled through many pages in sequence, you would have a better idea of what I meant about his awful writing.

    The Wiz of Oz says

    I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class ” in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of “conspicuous consumption”.

    ‘At least enough’ is telling, Leisure Class is unreadable, ‘conspicuous consumption’ is not a novel phenomenon described by Veblen, although his description of the far from novel phenomenon is one of the few points where his laboured work almost lurches out of zombie writing territory.

    It is also in the earlier pages. The Wiz read much less of it than I, in fact the whole ties in to much of what Hudson is explaining in his article.

    From your own reply, edNels:

    That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ”Economist”.

    Of course it is true, all of the ‘soft sciences’ are bullshit, psychology a partial exception some of the time.

    Not so sure about the demand for ‘economists’, seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors.

    Mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and programmers tend to get the economy-related work outside that. Many would rather be doing something in their own fields, but the state-sector economist and sociology types are eager to throw mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and programmers off a cliff given the chance.

    Waste of the training and study of the latter groups, but as you say, economists are more than a little stupid much of the time.

    Read More
    • Replies: @edNels
    Well I shouldn't have sounded off like I did, but I still resent teachers. As a 30yrs+ old night schooler, I gave the teacher at Santa Rosa JC. a chance to paraphrase the book for me, and he couldn't, he just read it again, and said: "Well, Economics isn't for everybody''.

    Not so sure about the demand for ‘economists’, seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors
     
    .
    Yeah you're probably right there's no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees, because they know they are getting clay in their hands to work with. Instead of some applicant with the usual silly personal baggage, or belief systems that need to be over rode in the indoctrination to corporate culture, as the vetting has been done. This because of the gymnastics required to go through the bs to get that type of degree, which does show a proclivity for abstract thinking, and detachment, so, if that's anything good, (I'm not too convinced those aren't features of... Socio's as well!)

    Being honest I think I would rather take a course in Macramay… or at least ceramics, and don't forget Life drawing of naked ladies yaya.

    But all around there's so many average working people that I know who think these guys are like wizards and that they are talking about real actual things, and I don't. I think they are full of it.
  21. @Art
    I thought it was Walmart that took out the small retailers. Do you consider Amazon a catalog outlet?

    We need more local private cooperative companies. The current mix on Main Street is 80% Wall Street. Walmart and Amazon are Wall Street companies. Yes they are more efficient - but are they making for a more stable local culture? Walmart has evolved to were the variety of goods that they sell is greatly diminished. And the service from its employees has fallen off. The Walmart of today is not Bill Walton’s Walmart.

    Walmart and Amazon accelerated the Chinese takeover of American manufacturing. Walmart could buy at cheap prices in sufficient volumes, without the expense of sales and distribution concerns to the Chinese. This is lose lose for local America.

    The local retailers who Walmart and Amazon replaced constituted a more stable society then what we have today.

    The Co Ops have been coopted! In the industry I’m familiar with small outlets have banded together for purchasing power. The members are precluded from buying from “non-approved” sources. All there approved (low price/low quality) sources are in China or Taiwan. It turns out that a few large, state-assisted sources are cheaper (in every sense) than local sources. The irritating part is that the state assistance includes the U.S. government, mostly for foreign suppliers and a few large domestic political contributors.

    Read More
  22. @John Jeremiah Smith

    Walmart and Amazon accelerated the Chinese takeover of American manufacturing. Walmart could buy at cheap prices in sufficient volumes, without the expense of sales and distribution concerns to the Chinese. This is lose lose for local America.
     
    Much like the "immigration crisis" can be quickly halted and reversed by fining and imprisoning employers of illegal aliens, so can the big-box retail problem be cured by putting tariffs on imported goods. It's very simple and very functional.

    All of these situations stem from allowing any and all donations to political campaigns. You want immigration stopped? Limit political donations to $10. You want corporate thievery of the citizenry to stop? Limit political donations to $10.

    All of these situations stem from allowing any and all donations to political campaigns. You want immigration stopped? Limit political donations to $10. You want corporate thievery of the citizenry to stop? Limit political donations to $10.

    All politicians must take a pledge to take NO money or anything of value from anyone who can not vote for them. The max amount given, should be a reasonable amount for a middle class citizen.

    No pledge – no vote – PERIOD!

    (This is all voluntary, it requires no changes in law.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art
    All politicians must take a pledge to take NO money or anything of value from anyone who can not vote for them.

    The Libertarian Party must make the pledge - to only take donations from people that can vote for them in the election. A limited amount - no lobbyists - no deep pockets - city - state - national.

    That will set them totally apart from the Democrats and Republicans. Only then will they start winning elections.

  23. @Che Guava

    I agree on Michael Hudson, but am already familiar with most of the concepts he explains very well.

    BTW, the correct term is political economy, economics is a little different.

    You clearly have only read extracts of Veblen, if you had struggled through many pages in sequence, you would have a better idea of what I meant about his awful writing.

    The Wiz of Oz says

    I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class ” in distant youth, at least enough to pick up the idea of “conspicuous consumption”.
     
    'At least enough' is telling, Leisure Class is unreadable, 'conspicuous consumption' is not a novel phenomenon described by Veblen, although his description of the far from novel phenomenon is one of the few points where his laboured work almost lurches out of zombie writing territory.

    It is also in the earlier pages. The Wiz read much less of it than I, in fact the whole ties in to much of what Hudson is explaining in his article.

    From your own reply, edNels:

    That is, that it is known as psuedo science. More, it is an education in how to pretend to learn, pretend to be informed, and pretend to be a knowlegdeable ”Economist”.
     
    Of course it is true, all of the 'soft sciences' are bullshit, psychology a partial exception some of the time.

    Not so sure about the demand for 'economists', seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors.

    Mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and programmers tend to get the economy-related work outside that. Many would rather be doing something in their own fields, but the state-sector economist and sociology types are eager to throw mathematicians, engineers, physicists, and programmers off a cliff given the chance.

    Waste of the training and study of the latter groups, but as you say, economists are more than a little stupid much of the time.

    Well I shouldn’t have sounded off like I did, but I still resent teachers. As a 30yrs+ old night schooler, I gave the teacher at Santa Rosa JC. a chance to paraphrase the book for me, and he couldn’t, he just read it again, and said: “Well, Economics isn’t for everybody”.

    Not so sure about the demand for ‘economists’, seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors

    .
    Yeah you’re probably right there’s no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees, because they know they are getting clay in their hands to work with. Instead of some applicant with the usual silly personal baggage, or belief systems that need to be over rode in the indoctrination to corporate culture, as the vetting has been done. This because of the gymnastics required to go through the bs to get that type of degree, which does show a proclivity for abstract thinking, and detachment, so, if that’s anything good, (I’m not too convinced those aren’t features of… Socio’s as well!)

    Being honest I think I would rather take a course in Macramay… or at least ceramics, and don’t forget Life drawing of naked ladies yaya.

    But all around there’s so many average working people that I know who think these guys are like wizards and that they are talking about real actual things, and I don’t. I think they are full of it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith

    Yeah you’re probably right there’s no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees
     
    I have degrees the Navy paid for, but did they get any return on the money? Heck, no. When you hit Master Chief, you're just a glorified administrator. Waste of money, imo.

    I had a lot more fun with welding classes, auto mechanics, mill-work. I think working a big, CNC- programmable mill is a boatload of fun. Never got to do it till I retired from the Navy.
    , @Che Guava
    Will get back to you on this topic, and to the mil respondent. Agree with all both of you said.

    Priority now is a stylish Halloween image for a rock show.
    , @Che Guava
    Hey edNeils.

    Really appreciate the post. Srsly.

    ... and, quite seriously, you may try ceramics on a wheel, and imaginative messages, shading, pics., if you have access to the space at the time. Take every advantage of facilities when they are there. You are sure to more than pass your degree.

    There is a guy in England, Perry, he casts all of his pottery, but covers them with inane pictures and words, very popular, I am not a potter, but I know enough to understand what potters mean by criticizing him for always casting (not turning) the work and using cheap glazes.

    Life drawing of the naked form, not only ladies, it is not such a bad thing, but sure, it often turns into sleaze, and generally does among 'fine' artists.

    If you are still on campus, take as much advantage of creative facilities as you can, developing monochrome film photos in a darkroom is great fun. Sure, the chemicals aren't great for your hands, but nobody much is doing it now. You can always wear latex gloves. Although not doing that was a mark of pride.

    Understand why you find it so depressing, but why did you choose economics in that case? Why not switch to something more interesting?

    Touched by your post.
  24. John Jeremiah Smith [AKA "MCPO USN"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @edNels
    Well I shouldn't have sounded off like I did, but I still resent teachers. As a 30yrs+ old night schooler, I gave the teacher at Santa Rosa JC. a chance to paraphrase the book for me, and he couldn't, he just read it again, and said: "Well, Economics isn't for everybody''.

    Not so sure about the demand for ‘economists’, seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors
     
    .
    Yeah you're probably right there's no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees, because they know they are getting clay in their hands to work with. Instead of some applicant with the usual silly personal baggage, or belief systems that need to be over rode in the indoctrination to corporate culture, as the vetting has been done. This because of the gymnastics required to go through the bs to get that type of degree, which does show a proclivity for abstract thinking, and detachment, so, if that's anything good, (I'm not too convinced those aren't features of... Socio's as well!)

    Being honest I think I would rather take a course in Macramay… or at least ceramics, and don't forget Life drawing of naked ladies yaya.

    But all around there's so many average working people that I know who think these guys are like wizards and that they are talking about real actual things, and I don't. I think they are full of it.

    Yeah you’re probably right there’s no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees

    I have degrees the Navy paid for, but did they get any return on the money? Heck, no. When you hit Master Chief, you’re just a glorified administrator. Waste of money, imo.

    I had a lot more fun with welding classes, auto mechanics, mill-work. I think working a big, CNC- programmable mill is a boatload of fun. Never got to do it till I retired from the Navy.

    Read More
    • Agree: edNels
    • Replies: @Che Guava
    Having some experience there, too, Chief, numerical control at university, welding, arc, oxy-acetyl, tech drawing on paper (useless now, but I am proud that I can do it), fitting and turning.

    Fitting, small hands, but I always managed it, with pain.

    However, except for numerical control, it was all while in uniform. Perhaps the US fails their servicepeople there, too?

    My fave was arc welding, did very smooth arc-weld joins.
  25. @Art
    All of these situations stem from allowing any and all donations to political campaigns. You want immigration stopped? Limit political donations to $10. You want corporate thievery of the citizenry to stop? Limit political donations to $10.

    All politicians must take a pledge to take NO money or anything of value from anyone who can not vote for them. The max amount given, should be a reasonable amount for a middle class citizen.

    No pledge - no vote - PERIOD!

    (This is all voluntary, it requires no changes in law.)

    All politicians must take a pledge to take NO money or anything of value from anyone who can not vote for them.

    The Libertarian Party must make the pledge – to only take donations from people that can vote for them in the election. A limited amount – no lobbyists – no deep pockets – city – state – national.

    That will set them totally apart from the Democrats and Republicans. Only then will they start winning elections.

    Read More
  26. @edNels
    Well I shouldn't have sounded off like I did, but I still resent teachers. As a 30yrs+ old night schooler, I gave the teacher at Santa Rosa JC. a chance to paraphrase the book for me, and he couldn't, he just read it again, and said: "Well, Economics isn't for everybody''.

    Not so sure about the demand for ‘economists’, seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors
     
    .
    Yeah you're probably right there's no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees, because they know they are getting clay in their hands to work with. Instead of some applicant with the usual silly personal baggage, or belief systems that need to be over rode in the indoctrination to corporate culture, as the vetting has been done. This because of the gymnastics required to go through the bs to get that type of degree, which does show a proclivity for abstract thinking, and detachment, so, if that's anything good, (I'm not too convinced those aren't features of... Socio's as well!)

    Being honest I think I would rather take a course in Macramay… or at least ceramics, and don't forget Life drawing of naked ladies yaya.

    But all around there's so many average working people that I know who think these guys are like wizards and that they are talking about real actual things, and I don't. I think they are full of it.

    Will get back to you on this topic, and to the mil respondent. Agree with all both of you said.

    Priority now is a stylish Halloween image for a rock show.

    Read More
  27. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    The rentier strategy has been to make rent extraction invisible

    Not that hard, when the extracted-from are as blissfully oscitant as they are.

    A part of them have been turned into devotees of their “extractors”, see Valve’s Steam fandom.

    “Preorder now, get it 9 months afterwards” offers are “in the ascendant”, the occasional complainer laughed off.

    You can train humans even to enjoying being “extracted” (as well as thinking that intelligence is the same in Cape Verde and Kyoto, and a tourist faces equal risks of being subjected to rape in Subsaharan Africa and Tokyo’s uptown).

    Humans, the lovable clay.

    Read More
  28. @edNels
    Well I shouldn't have sounded off like I did, but I still resent teachers. As a 30yrs+ old night schooler, I gave the teacher at Santa Rosa JC. a chance to paraphrase the book for me, and he couldn't, he just read it again, and said: "Well, Economics isn't for everybody''.

    Not so sure about the demand for ‘economists’, seems to be restricted to the state and supra-state sectors
     
    .
    Yeah you're probably right there's no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees, because they know they are getting clay in their hands to work with. Instead of some applicant with the usual silly personal baggage, or belief systems that need to be over rode in the indoctrination to corporate culture, as the vetting has been done. This because of the gymnastics required to go through the bs to get that type of degree, which does show a proclivity for abstract thinking, and detachment, so, if that's anything good, (I'm not too convinced those aren't features of... Socio's as well!)

    Being honest I think I would rather take a course in Macramay… or at least ceramics, and don't forget Life drawing of naked ladies yaya.

    But all around there's so many average working people that I know who think these guys are like wizards and that they are talking about real actual things, and I don't. I think they are full of it.

    Hey edNeils.

    Really appreciate the post. Srsly.

    … and, quite seriously, you may try ceramics on a wheel, and imaginative messages, shading, pics., if you have access to the space at the time. Take every advantage of facilities when they are there. You are sure to more than pass your degree.

    There is a guy in England, Perry, he casts all of his pottery, but covers them with inane pictures and words, very popular, I am not a potter, but I know enough to understand what potters mean by criticizing him for always casting (not turning) the work and using cheap glazes.

    Life drawing of the naked form, not only ladies, it is not such a bad thing, but sure, it often turns into sleaze, and generally does among ‘fine’ artists.

    If you are still on campus, take as much advantage of creative facilities as you can, developing monochrome film photos in a darkroom is great fun. Sure, the chemicals aren’t great for your hands, but nobody much is doing it now. You can always wear latex gloves. Although not doing that was a mark of pride.

    Understand why you find it so depressing, but why did you choose economics in that case? Why not switch to something more interesting?

    Touched by your post.

    Read More
    • Replies: @edNels
    Thanks Che for getting back.

    I mentioned my thoughts on economics and how I have a sort of negative impression of it, but when I said that I was 30 yrs+, that was then, over 30yrs. ago! I just still reverberate from that teachers comment about it and just how badly the book was written. He said: Well, Economics isn't for everybody, I marched right back to the bookstore and returned it, and dropped, the Econ second semester would have made a year of transferable credit to take to a state 4 yr. if you wanted to, so the 1a was a waste on that score, but wasn't too bad as it was introductory, and laid out the main concepts and who's who. Never go wrong with that kind of stuff.

    Back then, I was still under a spell about academic things I got a couple of good courses in Russian history, physical science, construction tech basic math, were good, there was one dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue taught by a retired diplomat, that guy was sure war weary though… we learned a few things like the Balfour Declaration.

    Never even got the HS diploma either, but I don't need it, I have an active libary card in me pocket!
    Another thing is, the curricula in the colleges hasn't necessarily got better or likely didn't keep pace with the adult contingent of students… as they retire when they have serious time on their hands to pursue course work. Well, when you had the energy and purpose, you didn't have the time. just a little anecdote to explain, I remember getting up early, working all day hoisting sacks of fishmeal, and driving to the jr college just enough time to get there no stop for clean up or dinner, and then sitting in a chemistry class, not with my peers mind you, but with precocious 16 or 17yrs old, who's parents might be younger than me, boy that was embarrassing. I squeaked through and learned enough to quench my curiosity, (plus got a fix on applied algebra, quite easy too,) Avegodro's number anybody? (10 to the -23rd)

    Reading the cutting edged essays so carefully chosen and Commenting on Ron Unz Review is therapeutic too, verbally exhaustive where working with clay would be complementary, ceramics would be excellent for anybody, I'm tied up with carpentry and puttering, but ceramics is wonderful to get ones neurosis' out in the open, working with shapes, making useful ashtrays or figures of things. Two Flew over the Cukoo's Nest was a great book and movie. At the end McMurphy breaks all the rules and takes the guys out for a days fishing and cutting up.

    I sense or wonder if RUR isn't sort of analygous in a small way, a little fishing trip away from the preverbial 4 walls. I'm spinning it a little maybe.
  29. @John Jeremiah Smith

    Yeah you’re probably right there’s no particular market for the economists, but my intended point was that companies probably like to hire newly degreed economics starter employees
     
    I have degrees the Navy paid for, but did they get any return on the money? Heck, no. When you hit Master Chief, you're just a glorified administrator. Waste of money, imo.

    I had a lot more fun with welding classes, auto mechanics, mill-work. I think working a big, CNC- programmable mill is a boatload of fun. Never got to do it till I retired from the Navy.

    Having some experience there, too, Chief, numerical control at university, welding, arc, oxy-acetyl, tech drawing on paper (useless now, but I am proud that I can do it), fitting and turning.

    Fitting, small hands, but I always managed it, with pain.

    However, except for numerical control, it was all while in uniform. Perhaps the US fails their servicepeople there, too?

    My fave was arc welding, did very smooth arc-weld joins.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ivy
    There is something satisfying about making tools, like lathe cutting tools, and then products (turned, welded, other) with your hands. One of my favorites is a hole-punch made from raw materials, including a turned spring and hardened punch rod.
  30. @Che Guava
    Having some experience there, too, Chief, numerical control at university, welding, arc, oxy-acetyl, tech drawing on paper (useless now, but I am proud that I can do it), fitting and turning.

    Fitting, small hands, but I always managed it, with pain.

    However, except for numerical control, it was all while in uniform. Perhaps the US fails their servicepeople there, too?

    My fave was arc welding, did very smooth arc-weld joins.

    There is something satisfying about making tools, like lathe cutting tools, and then products (turned, welded, other) with your hands. One of my favorites is a hole-punch made from raw materials, including a turned spring and hardened punch rod.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Che Guava
    You are very correct, Ivy. Any links to your examples would be enjoyable. I suppose by 'turned spring', you mean one made on a metal lathe. Never near that level on lathe work, thinking, suppose it must be possible.
  31. @Ivy
    There is something satisfying about making tools, like lathe cutting tools, and then products (turned, welded, other) with your hands. One of my favorites is a hole-punch made from raw materials, including a turned spring and hardened punch rod.

    You are very correct, Ivy. Any links to your examples would be enjoyable. I suppose by ‘turned spring’, you mean one made on a metal lathe. Never near that level on lathe work, thinking, suppose it must be possible.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith

    I suppose by ‘turned spring’, you mean one made on a metal lathe. Never near that level on lathe work, thinking, suppose it must be possible.
     
    I doubt it, unless there's some new process I never heard of. Springs have to be drawn, not cut. I suppose you could cut a piece that looks like a spring, but it won't be springy. That said, you can get a little bit of stretch and rebound out of copper, but it fatigues quickly.
  32. John Jeremiah Smith [AKA "MCPO USN"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Che Guava
    You are very correct, Ivy. Any links to your examples would be enjoyable. I suppose by 'turned spring', you mean one made on a metal lathe. Never near that level on lathe work, thinking, suppose it must be possible.

    I suppose by ‘turned spring’, you mean one made on a metal lathe. Never near that level on lathe work, thinking, suppose it must be possible.

    I doubt it, unless there’s some new process I never heard of. Springs have to be drawn, not cut. I suppose you could cut a piece that looks like a spring, but it won’t be springy. That said, you can get a little bit of stretch and rebound out of copper, but it fatigues quickly.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ivy
    You can use a lathe, a spindle and a wire to make a spring by having the lathe spin slowly and letting the wire wrap around the spindle. At least, that is how I did it at age 15 in metal shop. That isn't industry standard but a lot of what was done in class was seat-of-the-pants and trying not to get your hands injured too many times. ("That brass sure is grabby", meaning a cutting tool that was advanced too fast into a rotating brass piece would stop the progress, as the teacher admonished about lathe work).

    You could also press a milling machine or other rotating device into service as needed if some other kid was on a machine that was your first choice for the project. I always liked the metal surface patterns achievable through milling, and welding, too.

    Sorry I don't have any links.
  33. @John Jeremiah Smith

    I suppose by ‘turned spring’, you mean one made on a metal lathe. Never near that level on lathe work, thinking, suppose it must be possible.
     
    I doubt it, unless there's some new process I never heard of. Springs have to be drawn, not cut. I suppose you could cut a piece that looks like a spring, but it won't be springy. That said, you can get a little bit of stretch and rebound out of copper, but it fatigues quickly.

    You can use a lathe, a spindle and a wire to make a spring by having the lathe spin slowly and letting the wire wrap around the spindle. At least, that is how I did it at age 15 in metal shop. That isn’t industry standard but a lot of what was done in class was seat-of-the-pants and trying not to get your hands injured too many times. (“That brass sure is grabby”, meaning a cutting tool that was advanced too fast into a rotating brass piece would stop the progress, as the teacher admonished about lathe work).

    You could also press a milling machine or other rotating device into service as needed if some other kid was on a machine that was your first choice for the project. I always liked the metal surface patterns achievable through milling, and welding, too.

    Sorry I don’t have any links.

    Read More
    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith

    You can use a lathe, a spindle and a wire to make a spring by having the lathe spin slowly and letting the wire wrap around the spindle.
     
    You sure can. Sorry, I got the impression you were cutting a spring out of solid steel rod. Yes, springs are wound from drawn wire, and we made them in metal shop, just as our forefathers before us had wasted a bunch of wire until the shop teacher found out. ;-)
  34. John Jeremiah Smith [AKA "MCPO USN"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Ivy
    You can use a lathe, a spindle and a wire to make a spring by having the lathe spin slowly and letting the wire wrap around the spindle. At least, that is how I did it at age 15 in metal shop. That isn't industry standard but a lot of what was done in class was seat-of-the-pants and trying not to get your hands injured too many times. ("That brass sure is grabby", meaning a cutting tool that was advanced too fast into a rotating brass piece would stop the progress, as the teacher admonished about lathe work).

    You could also press a milling machine or other rotating device into service as needed if some other kid was on a machine that was your first choice for the project. I always liked the metal surface patterns achievable through milling, and welding, too.

    Sorry I don't have any links.

    You can use a lathe, a spindle and a wire to make a spring by having the lathe spin slowly and letting the wire wrap around the spindle.

    You sure can. Sorry, I got the impression you were cutting a spring out of solid steel rod. Yes, springs are wound from drawn wire, and we made them in metal shop, just as our forefathers before us had wasted a bunch of wire until the shop teacher found out. ;-)

    Read More
  35. @Che Guava
    Hey edNeils.

    Really appreciate the post. Srsly.

    ... and, quite seriously, you may try ceramics on a wheel, and imaginative messages, shading, pics., if you have access to the space at the time. Take every advantage of facilities when they are there. You are sure to more than pass your degree.

    There is a guy in England, Perry, he casts all of his pottery, but covers them with inane pictures and words, very popular, I am not a potter, but I know enough to understand what potters mean by criticizing him for always casting (not turning) the work and using cheap glazes.

    Life drawing of the naked form, not only ladies, it is not such a bad thing, but sure, it often turns into sleaze, and generally does among 'fine' artists.

    If you are still on campus, take as much advantage of creative facilities as you can, developing monochrome film photos in a darkroom is great fun. Sure, the chemicals aren't great for your hands, but nobody much is doing it now. You can always wear latex gloves. Although not doing that was a mark of pride.

    Understand why you find it so depressing, but why did you choose economics in that case? Why not switch to something more interesting?

    Touched by your post.

    Thanks Che for getting back.

    I mentioned my thoughts on economics and how I have a sort of negative impression of it, but when I said that I was 30 yrs+, that was then, over 30yrs. ago! I just still reverberate from that teachers comment about it and just how badly the book was written. He said: Well, Economics isn’t for everybody, I marched right back to the bookstore and returned it, and dropped, the Econ second semester would have made a year of transferable credit to take to a state 4 yr. if you wanted to, so the 1a was a waste on that score, but wasn’t too bad as it was introductory, and laid out the main concepts and who’s who. Never go wrong with that kind of stuff.

    Back then, I was still under a spell about academic things I got a couple of good courses in Russian history, physical science, construction tech basic math, were good, there was one dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue taught by a retired diplomat, that guy was sure war weary though… we learned a few things like the Balfour Declaration.

    Never even got the HS diploma either, but I don’t need it, I have an active libary card in me pocket!
    Another thing is, the curricula in the colleges hasn’t necessarily got better or likely didn’t keep pace with the adult contingent of students… as they retire when they have serious time on their hands to pursue course work. Well, when you had the energy and purpose, you didn’t have the time. just a little anecdote to explain, I remember getting up early, working all day hoisting sacks of fishmeal, and driving to the jr college just enough time to get there no stop for clean up or dinner, and then sitting in a chemistry class, not with my peers mind you, but with precocious 16 or 17yrs old, who’s parents might be younger than me, boy that was embarrassing. I squeaked through and learned enough to quench my curiosity, (plus got a fix on applied algebra, quite easy too,) Avegodro’s number anybody? (10 to the -23rd)

    Reading the cutting edged essays so carefully chosen and Commenting on Ron Unz Review is therapeutic too, verbally exhaustive where working with clay would be complementary, ceramics would be excellent for anybody, I’m tied up with carpentry and puttering, but ceramics is wonderful to get ones neurosis’ out in the open, working with shapes, making useful ashtrays or figures of things. Two Flew over the Cukoo’s Nest was a great book and movie. At the end McMurphy breaks all the rules and takes the guys out for a days fishing and cutting up.

    I sense or wonder if RUR isn’t sort of analygous in a small way, a little fishing trip away from the preverbial 4 walls. I’m spinning it a little maybe.

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  36. @John Jeremiah Smith

    You can use a lathe, a spindle and a wire to make a spring by having the lathe spin slowly and letting the wire wrap around the spindle.
     
    You sure can. Sorry, I got the impression you were cutting a spring out of solid steel rod. Yes, springs are wound from drawn wire, and we made them in metal shop, just as our forefathers before us had wasted a bunch of wire until the shop teacher found out. ;-)

    That is not making a spring on a lathe.

    Read More
  37. By the time he began to publish in the 1890s, academic economics was in the throes of a counter-revolution sponsored by large landholders, bankers and monopolists denying that there was any such thing as unearned income.

    This wasn’t a normative judgment, but a methodological one. Is a person who inherits skills that are valuable in the jobs market any better or more noble than one who inherits land or money?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Miro23

    Is a person who inherits skills that are valuable in the jobs market any better or more noble than one who inherits land or money?
     
    Better for the economy? If this is the question, then inherited (and developed) skills are certainly superior since land and money quickly dissipate without skills, but applied skills drive development, even starting with very little land or money (e.g. Singapore).

    There's also the secondary problem that inherited land and money can oppose meritocracy and crowd out the young and poor with inherited skills.
  38. @Rifkin

    By the time he began to publish in the 1890s, academic economics was in the throes of a counter-revolution sponsored by large landholders, bankers and monopolists denying that there was any such thing as unearned income.
     
    This wasn't a normative judgment, but a methodological one. Is a person who inherits skills that are valuable in the jobs market any better or more noble than one who inherits land or money?

    Is a person who inherits skills that are valuable in the jobs market any better or more noble than one who inherits land or money?

    Better for the economy? If this is the question, then inherited (and developed) skills are certainly superior since land and money quickly dissipate without skills, but applied skills drive development, even starting with very little land or money (e.g. Singapore).

    There’s also the secondary problem that inherited land and money can oppose meritocracy and crowd out the young and poor with inherited skills.

    Read More
  39. There’s also the secondary problem that inherited land and money can oppose meritocracy

    Switzerland had some problems with that, as non-landed citizens in various cantons realized that they would never be able to buy what was not going to be for sale. That situation encourages economic migration.

    Read More
  40. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Economics degree here. In my career operating the US power grid, microeconomic techniques are quite useful, for example, in cases of deploying generation meeting certain parameters, or managing points of congestion. In terms of “political economics” (for lack of a better term), mathematical economic techniques come up short and should not be heavily relied upon for policy. This is because raw, cold numbers dictate everything and do not reflect the world as is actually is. As an example, consider a production possibilities curve, which is nonlinear to reflect each slightly varying combination of resources for a nation (or wherever). The mathematical idea of such a curve is correct, but it is an abstraction. The assumption underlying such a curve’s application to real life policy is flawed. The huge assumption behind this and other forms of free market models is that all places more or less balance out regarding their potential to contribute to global demand with their own resources. The inaccuracy of the assumption is obvious, which is why it’s usually kept very vague in the textbooks.

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  41. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    To clarify my point, I think what I’m trying to say is that in purely mathematical models that total free market advocates and vulture capitalists rely on, many parts of graphs are given this or that label which sounds legitimate. Doing basic geometry and finding values for these areas doesn’t always reflect the REAL WORLD. And obviously leaves many thing unaccounted for. In terms of analyzing pure negotiation of superfluous goods, free market models suffice just fine. However, that type of analysis is a long way from a question like, “how to provide expensive medical care in a country where tens of millions of people cannot possibly provide valuable enough labor afford it”. That type of question cannot (and should not) be answered by mathematics alone.

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    • Replies: @Miro23
    Another economics degree here. Outsourcing corporations and their billionaire owners will fall in love with any economic theory that keeps the game going (e.g. Neo-liberalism, tariff-free trade, the World is Flat, service-economy etc.)

    Another long time favourite is "Positive Economics" that gets rid of "Normative" judgments like fairness, honesty, loyalty, community etc. by focusing on the mathematical relationships in totally international free market models.
  42. @Anon
    To clarify my point, I think what I'm trying to say is that in purely mathematical models that total free market advocates and vulture capitalists rely on, many parts of graphs are given this or that label which sounds legitimate. Doing basic geometry and finding values for these areas doesn't always reflect the REAL WORLD. And obviously leaves many thing unaccounted for. In terms of analyzing pure negotiation of superfluous goods, free market models suffice just fine. However, that type of analysis is a long way from a question like, "how to provide expensive medical care in a country where tens of millions of people cannot possibly provide valuable enough labor afford it". That type of question cannot (and should not) be answered by mathematics alone.

    Another economics degree here. Outsourcing corporations and their billionaire owners will fall in love with any economic theory that keeps the game going (e.g. Neo-liberalism, tariff-free trade, the World is Flat, service-economy etc.)

    Another long time favourite is “Positive Economics” that gets rid of “Normative” judgments like fairness, honesty, loyalty, community etc. by focusing on the mathematical relationships in totally international free market models.

    Read More
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