Wednesday, April 05, 2006

found on dkos

I have a wonderful machine... (8+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
mtobis, sj, RFK Lives, roses, Mike Erwin, Alexander G Rubio, metacin, qrswave
It does nothing, but it looks good doing it. Cool, huh?

What the NYT article is saying in effect is that the purpose of an economy is to grow on paper, regardless of whether it actually produces anything of value for actual humans.

That would be a Terri Schiavo Economy: It's braindead but it's still breathing, so it must be alive, right?

First of all, start with the fact that infinite growth is simply not possible on a finite planet: an infinity cannot be a subset of an integer, period. There is no way around this one, and we are finding out now (peak oil, climate change, potable water shortages) what happens when we run into the limits of finitude.

Second, the idea that production for human use is "merely political" and somehow irrelevant to the economics, is absurd. An economy is a tool, and a tool is only as good as what you build with it. A market is a mechanism for distributing goods among humans, not an isolated system like a piece of clockwork under a bell jar.

Any fool can design a theoretical system that performs well as long as it is never called upon to do anything useful.

Here's the question you can keep on asking, which reveals the absurdity (not to mention the moral bankruptcy) of the arguement put forward in the NYT article: What is an economy for? What is the purpose of having an economy in the first place? That is, why have an economy, rather than having something else, perhaps a poodle or a bad cold? Why do we even want to have an economy, instead of having a day off or having good sex? The obvious answer is, to produce and distribute goods and services to humans, not to go ticking away like meaningless clockwork under its bell jar for the amusement of its makers. And once you go there, the whole premise of the NYT article falls flat on its face.

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