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A new New Deal?

June 25th, 2017

I’ll be talking to the Fabian Society in Melbourne on Wednesday night, looking at the failure of neoliberalism and options for a new “New Deal”.

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  1. Newtownian
    June 25th, 2017 at 19:36 | #1

    If you are of a mind to discuss ecological sustainablity and economics I suggest you could do worse than download the following e-book on steady state economics:

    Positive Steps To a Steady State Economy Edited by Haydn Washington For CASSE NSW 2017

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/haydn-washington/positive-steps-to-a-steady-state-economy/ebook/product-23223562.html (notional cost $2). Its not bad value at 414 pages with 35 chapters by assorted academics and activists and a forward by Herman Daly

    “Foreword – I am enough of a Platonist to suspect that ideas exist in their own realm, and sometimes reach down into the lower world and grab some of us by the scruff of our necks and won’t let go until we advocate and proclaim them to our fellow humans. The idea of a steady-state or stationary economy grabbed the Classical Economists, especially John Stuart Mill, and has never entirely let go of economists, although its grip was severely loosened by the growthist ideas of the Neoclassical and Keynesian economists. However, the steady state idea is making a comeback now, thanks to its own rational power to convince reasonable minds, plus the increasing weight of the real world facts of finitude, entropy, unjust distribution of income, and satiability of legitimate wants. It is especially encouraging that the idea of a steady state economy has descended from the Platonic realm to such an impressive number of Australians, who, as this collection illustrates, have sharpened, developed, and polished the basic idea. Let us hope that steady state economics continues to take root in Australia and spread throughout the rest of our growth-threatened Earth.”

    Cheers Haydn

  2. June 26th, 2017 at 03:28 | #2

    We need visions as well as pragmatism. Keynes’ stable full employment capitalism was Utopian in its day – Britain had structural unemployment ever since the early 1920s, and the Gilded Age economy, with less structural unemployment, had plenty of the cyclical sort.

    Maybe try to work back from a communist utopia like Iain Banks’ far-future interstellar Culture. We have some necessary scarcities, like space and ecological footprint, some unnecessary ones like education, and others have just about disappeared like access to medical care (apart from the outlier USA), information, communications and music. A full red plenty like the Culture is infeasible in a planning horizon of fifty years, but we can shift some things into the non-scarce column in future (mobility? AI support? electricity?) and cut the inequalities in enjoyment of the permanent scarcities.

  3. Geoff Edwards
    June 26th, 2017 at 07:17 | #3

    1.With Newtonian and James, any model for a New Deal must confront ecological realities. “Nature has the last word”. Orthodox economics tends to assume that resources are unlimited outside the market being studied when in fact they are everywhere limited.

    2. Relatively inexpensive petroleum has enabled our societies to achieve economies of scale through centralisation and, lately, globalisation of production that are rapidly becoming diseconomies of scale. E.g., paddock to plate, agricultural supply chains consume five times more calories in energy than the food contains. Localisation of production and consumption offers a way of reducing the waste of energy in flying and shipping food and gadgets thousands of miles. Localisation would also have other, social, benefits as it would stimulate localisation of finance and enterprise.

    3. Market forces/human enterprise/the creative spirit… will incrementally move the economy to a just and sustainable condition if the preconditions are in place. Preconditions include adjusting taxes and regulation such as taxes on raw materials and energy, reintroduction of tariffs on unnecessary imports and a betterment tax on land subdivision. This can be done incrementally – it is not necessary to have a grand plan with a big bang imposition. Many economic signals within our society that are heading in the opposite direction could be reversed. Australia’s economy might still be crushed by forces beyond incremental adjustment, but we are at risk of that happening anyway.

  4. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2017 at 12:33 | #4

    This is a little off-topic I guess. The author of the forward says “I am enough of a Platonist to suspect that ideas exist in their own realm, and sometimes reach down into the lower world and grab some of us by the scruff of our necks… ”

    I disagree completely. I am quite astonished that a complex systems thinker, and a physicalist or “existenist”, would think that way. It is entirely inconsistent. As a priority monist (and a complex system monist) I posit that there is only one realm (all existence) and that that realm (the cosmos) is completely connected and integrated. Discrete “existents” or “processes” identified within that realm by humans – and bearing some degree of truth as some correspondence of the idea or model to the existent or process – are subsystems of the monist system. It follows that ideas come from no other realm but from systems interactions in this monist realm.

    How ideas come and from what interactions they come is a larger topic. But language (including mathematics) and empirical data (experience or sense data) play a combined role in enabling the generation of ideas in brains, or “minds” if you will. Language in turn has evolved (though not in a manner strictly analogous to living organism evolution) and certain key logical operators and concepts tended to survive and be centrally embedded in languages (and later become foundations for logic and mathematics) because they conferred a survival benefit to individuals (and groups) using them.

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