I’m always struck that “economics” is so generally the reason we can’t do what’s needed. Those of us who teach it often refer to it as ‘war by other means’ (said of diplomacy too). We have our own jargon -macro-micro monetary-fiscal abrabloodycadabra. These days we tend to go straight for models and arithmetic and cut out thinking altogether.
This means if it seems sensible to have more and better equipped cops (and let’s face it, there’s no shortage of labour) to improve our quality of life through more freedom from crime, we can’t have them because they will be a cost – we even end up cutting jobs and equipment budgets. Sensible ideas like renovating and greening our housing stock can’t be done for the same reason. It’s better to “employ” people to do nothing on the dole! I make no apologies for saying this isn’t clever, it’s fucking stupid. The ultimate “success” of current economics is about consuming stuff that makes us fat, unhealthy and childlike as we breed ourselves into poverty and war and resource annihilation.
A positive economics needs to start with a list of what we want to achieve and the barriers to this. I’d say the first issue is one of world population control. This has more or less tripled in my lifetime, just as the more advanced countries have curbed that of their indigenous peoples. A very thorny issue, yet we’re reaching the point of competition for air and land exhaustion. Our main means of population control has been the education of women and making kids too expensive.
The next is some form of reasonable equality combined with innovative conservation of capital and the work that produces it. This means full employment and probably radical changes in employment relationships.focused on dignity. I guess we could more than get by on a 30hour, three-day week and a 40 week year and raise living standards and quality of life. This is a radical change and we need to understand our current practices are feudal, medieval and broadly neurotic. We are now massively productive. Half of all French workers in 1958 worked on the land and all our economies were once agrarian. We need to harness modern productivity to quality of life, not work as serfs to profit as in the Domesday Book. Our work ethic is out of date.
The point of economics would be to ensure funding for work that needs doing. We have ceded this role to banks – nearly all money is now created by them and allocated as credit. Current disasters have all been to do with their failure to put the money into the right investments and we should return to primitive banking with bankers on wages. I wouldn’t ring fence the rest, but arrest in large numbers and bury the speculative dross and its restrictive practices as surely as the ‘Amalgamated Union of Holeborers’.
I see plenty of room for markets (even Lenin did) but these need to be free of insider trading, algorithms, derivatives and accounting practices that hide failure to the very point of draining the swamp after we’re up to our arses in alligators. We need to wrench capitalism back from favoured oligarchs and parasitic ‘speed’.
Deep questions remain in any of this (and much more) -not least what must replace greed and massive accumulation – or for that matter the fear of poverty as a work motivator and how we could still ‘discipline’ work.and provide some form of productive leisure for the social animals we are.
Perennial problems of world peace, despotic creeps, chronic religionists and bandits still prevail and we need ideas on this beyond vapid assertions on the wonder of human nature. We’ve been living under an American umbrella that has been a holocaust of ‘killing hope’ for others. The maintenance of this has required the beggar thy neighbour economics to keep military superiority and I for one don’t want to give this up to a bunch of the ‘wrong Mullahs’.
That economics isn’t democratic is obvious in history and our democracies have wilted in corruption. We clearly don’t want to create a situation in which getting work done is like herding cats.
Yet what is work now? We know that if you haven’t got any you’re likely to be poor or very rich. What does work make? We would rather give it to North Koreans in Mongolia (paying the clown dictator) than our own. We can’t afford cops, yet we can afford Rooney and the half-assed media circuit of celebrities and news poodles. We aren’t housing our people and creating a green economy, but can have Xmas cheer in the form of plastic crap from China.
The positive questions really concern whether we can trust ourselves with a more rational system and prevent any ‘darkness at noon’ and iron cage of bureaucracy. In the meantime we have nurses chatting whilst old patients starve – and a probable 15% unemployment while all sorts of things can’t be done. We need a leveling and this will come through war unless we can establish a more rational way.
The ideas are around and the analysis could be done. We are apathetic. Another key issue to addfress,