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InDefenseOfPOMO

Can humanity survive while continuing with the economic mechanisms of the past 3 centuries?

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InDefenseOfPOMO

A few minutes ago I was researching zero growth and climate change. One article that I stumbled on--from "Science Direct", I believe--reported that after manipulating some economic models the authors found that there can be economic stability under both an economy that encourages continued growth and a steady-state zero growth economy.

 

It then occurred to me--someone who has read and thought about economic anthropology more than the overwhelming majority of other people--for the first time that all discourse concerning climate change subconsciously privileges the neoclassical, market-dominated economic culture that can probably be traced to Adam Smith while excluding all other lifestyles and economic cultures, such as those found in traditional, indigenous cultures. Basically, the thinking that is taught in college Economics departments.

 

But is this wise?

 

Can we survive continuing to filter climate change and every other problem through that paradigm?

 

Would we be wise to start addressing problems with a more holistic framework such as economic anthropology?

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Ardoise

I don't know very much about economics, but I hope that we can someday become a post-scarcity society.

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Yeast

A closed system can't continue to expand indefinitely. The earth is a closed system in terms of natural resources. Empires are based primarily on agriculture. When an empire exceeds its region's ability to produce food, it collapses. Civilization appears to be like a series of wildfires. They were once localized and eventually burned out. Advanced technology now has globalized everything. The entire planet is burning. Zero growth seems at odds with capitalism which encourages indefinite expansion. One solution that has been suggested is moving into space and finding suitable planets to colonize. The universe is rather vast. Unfortunately the solution is also the problem. The closest star is over 4 light years away and physics states the speed of light can't be exceeded. Science fiction speculation offers warp drives and worm holes but I prefer fact, not fiction. However what sounds like science fiction may be science fact some day. Modern history seems to suggest that some day humanity will end when humans merge with their own technology. Earth like planets will no longer be our only option. Of course humans will be technically extinct except for the ones confined to cages they will never know they are in.  We have met the aliens and they are us. 

 

We'll make great pets ...

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Ardoise

Colonizing Mars is a genuine possibility in the foreseeable future.  With time, we might even be able to create a self-sustaining biosphere there.  Moving out into the asteroid belt like in The Expanse is also a potential option.

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Ardoise

We could also reach other stars at sub-light speeds with a truly long-term strategy.  Some authors and scientists have proposed "generation ships", where the eventual settlers of the new world would be the children or grandchildren of the ones who set out.

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Sally

Since you've been studying climate change, you must understand that we can't expect to spend the next 30+ years -- or even 10 years -- working on space exploration/emigration because the earthly space we'll have available is rapidly shrinking, as will be our financial resources.  

 

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Probably Alexandra

Anybody know about NESARA/GESARA? The Saint Germain World Trust and the one time jubilee/debt forgiveness? Weird but fascinating stuff and seems much closer than anyone previously thought.

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InDefenseOfPOMO
2 hours ago, Ardoise said:

I don't know very much about economics...

 

That is probably a good thing.

 

Neoclassical economics--you know, things taught in college Economics departments such as supply and demand, scarcity, insatiability, opportunity cost, marginal thinking, GDP, etc.--is the language of industrial capitalism like math is the language of physics.

 

Industrial capitalism got us into this climate change mess, so why are we trying to save ourselves using its language?

 

If "Economics" is a folder on the desktop of a personal computer would it not be wise to drag it to the trash bin and click "Empty Trash" before we proceed any further addressing climate change?

 

What would that leave us to work with? Oh, things like stewardship .

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Dreamfield

I think that one of the most important problems here is that, in the contemporary socioeconomic system, the status quo ideology is often presented as "common sense" and "science", so anybody trying to push something different experiences a great deal of resistance, not only from the system itself, but also from many fellow individuals who are also victims of this system.

But I hope this will change with time for the better.

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Anthracite_Impreza

Absolutely not, no.

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Nevyn

I don't think we have to worry quite so much. The whole world is about to break out into war again. That's what always happens when our Earth becomes too crowded.

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Homer

I said it before and I'll say it again - the only way to save this planet is to eradicate mankind.

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Woodworker1968

I think it's been our collective sociology and mentality which ultimately lies at the root of the problem.

 

Most people don't think in terms of being their own leaders. They either want to be a boss, or be bossed around by someone else. Most people also don't think scientifically. When we use something and then get rid of it, most of us don't think about recycling.

 

So yeah, humanity has paved a dead-end road for itself in more ways than one.

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Woodworker1968
1 hour ago, Nevyn said:

I don't think we have to worry quite so much. The whole world is about to break out into war again. That's what always happens when our Earth becomes too crowded.

That, or an epidemic hits. One consequence of the Black Death was that those who lived through it generally ended up with a better quality of life afterward.

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Ace of Mind
2 hours ago, Homer said:

I said it before and I'll say it again - the only way to save this planet is to eradicate mankind.

I'm doing my part -- looking to go for graduate degrees in A.I. 🤣

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Ardoise

I think that what we need to do is to find better ways to manage our resources so that we can get off-planet without absolutely going broke.

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Ardoise

And, as to what others have said on this thread, moving to other planets would free up this one to recover from our impact on it.  We wouldn't have to go extinct for the biosphere to heal.

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sorrow-of-mind
Quote

I said it before and I'll say it again - the only way to save this planet is to eradicate mankind.

This. It seems that humanity is shockingly short-sighted. Not all of us of course, but surely those in power. What kind of planet are we going to leave for our descendants? I think they will be cursing us, while breating in toxic air and fighting over scraps of equally toxic food.

 

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Skycaptain

Eventually the pressure on resources will result in war, and one with WMD. Humanity will survive, even if we end living in sterile biodomes (think Eden Project) with barren rocks outside, almost like the Australian outback is today 

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InDefenseOfPOMO
12 hours ago, Dreamfield said:

I think that one of the most important problems here is that, in the contemporary socioeconomic system, the status quo ideology is often presented as "common sense" and "science", so anybody trying to push something different experiences a great deal of resistance, not only from the system itself, but also from many fellow individuals who are also victims of this system.

But I hope this will change with time for the better.

 

If a house is on fire do its residents watch it burn while they debate a steady state, zero growth economy versus economic expansion?

 

Or do they put out the fire?

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Aebt
17 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

Neoclassical economics--you know, things taught in college Economics departments

As a fan of Economics, I am wondering what limited availablity of classes you had in your college Economic department. MMT, Austrian, Keynesian, Post-Keynesian, Classical, Neoclassical, and Classical-Keynesian Synthesis Economics are all taught at my college (Sadly not much on Marxist Economics, but Marx shows up everywhere else so you can learn that elsewhere). So in defense of at least some Economic departments, not all only teach Neoclassical Economics.

20 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

One article that I stumbled on--from "Science Direct", I believe--reported that after manipulating some economic models the authors found that there can be economic stability under both an economy that encourages continued growth and a steady-state zero growth economy.

Interesting, I would like to know what economic models they were using, do you have a link or something to see the article. Stability and what constitutes the idea of Economic stability can vary wildly so knowing the specifics would be helpful. I would like to know how they grapple with Hyman Minsky and his theories, since his theories argue against any stability without fairly-extreme government economic intervention.

 

20 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

privileges the neoclassical, market-dominated economic culture that can probably be traced to Adam Smith while excluding all other lifestyles and economic cultures, such as those found in traditional, indigenous cultures.

Very true, although I do want to point out that, as you probably know, Market-Dominated does not inherently mean Neoclassical Economic theories. But can we turn back time, so to speak, to return to these indigenous economic systems, and, even if they bring benefits for solving climate change, do they have risks that would outweigh even that noble goal?

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Pandark

A solid economy is necessary for mankind. If people stop trading they need to become more self-reliant. Self-reliance is relatively inefficient. The problem is in very specific sectors. Many may not like it but I'm going to say "animal agriculture" again.

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InDefenseOfPOMO
3 hours ago, Aebt said:

 Interesting, I would like to know what economic models they were using, do you have a link or something to see the article. Stability and what constitutes the idea of Economic stability can vary wildly so knowing the specifics would be helpful. I would like to know how they grapple with Hyman Minsky and his theories, since his theories argue against any stability without fairly-extreme government economic intervention.

 

I didn't  read the article, but this part from the abstract was interesting:

 

"Further, according to the model, the wages share is higher for zero-growth scenarios, although there are more frequent substantial drops in employment."

 

 

Source:

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800917306869

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InDefenseOfPOMO
5 hours ago, Aebt said:

As a fan of Economics, I am wondering what limited availablity of classes you had in your college Economic department. MMT, Austrian, Keynesian, Post-Keynesian, Classical, Neoclassical, and Classical-Keynesian Synthesis Economics are all taught at my college (Sadly not much on Marxist Economics, but Marx shows up everywhere else so you can learn that elsewhere). So in defense of at least some Economic departments, not all only teach Neoclassical Economics.

 

As someone who was an undeclared major for a long time (for too long) and spent many hours reading the course catalogue front to back many times, I can assure that all of those topics were covered in undergraduate course offerings.

 

I use "Neoclassical economics" to refer to all thought that is utilized by professionals called "economists" and that is really just concerned with capitalism.

 

It seems to me that even if an "economist" investigates the behavior of traditional/indigenous peoples past and present he/she does it through a Western, capitalist worldview.

 

The point is that other perspectives through which production, distribution, consumption, etc. can be viewed--such as cultural anthropology--are more holistic.

 

 

5 hours ago, Aebt said:

Very true, although I do want to point out that, as you probably know, Market-Dominated does not inherently mean Neoclassical Economic theories. But can we turn back time, so to speak, to return to these indigenous economic systems, and, even if they bring benefits for solving climate change, do they have risks that would outweigh even that noble goal?

 

It seems clear to me that all of these cheap, mass-produced goods and services that capitalism has given us have not made us happy.

 

We have an unprecedented number of choices available to us as consumers, we are told. But those choices have left us with absurd rates of obesity. Some observers are seeing that we have a loneliness epidemic. Could it be partly (or greatly) due to the fact that we spend so much of our time shopping for, purchasing and using that unprecedented number of different products and services rather than spending time with our friends, loved ones and members of our communities? The products that we end up purchasing from all of those available choices often end up collecting dust after very little use or buried in a landfill not long after they are purchased. We can't be happy with anything we buy--that is not how it works. As soon as we purchase something we are told through advertisements that what we have is not good and that only the newest product will make us happy. I could probably write an entire book about how all of these cheap, mass-produced goods and services that capitalism has delivered have compromised our happiness and well-being.

 

Then there is work. Under capitalism production has moved from the home to factories, offices, factory farms (opposed to family farms), etc. Work has become increasingly monotonous. Workers have increasingly had to train for and perform narrow specialties. The home has become nothing more than a place for entertainment and recreation. Wendell Berry, Christopher Lasch and others have commented on this better than I can.

 

Not only would earlier economic organization likely significantly reduce emissions, it would likely make us much happier and more fulfilled as economic actors. The difference between buying building materials from a local supplier rather than a national chain and making your own furniture in your home with your own tools rather than buying mass-produced furniture from a chain mega-retailer would probably be like night and day with respect to happiness and fulfillment. And that furniture would probably be taken much better care of, valued much more, and be exponentially less likely to end up collecting dust from lack of use, sitting in a dark self-storage unit, or rotting in a landfill.

 

A return to earlier forms of economic organization might result in the numbers that economists measure being worse. But the things that economists cannot or do not measure, such as how fulfilled we are as unique individual human beings, would likely improve.

 

Basically, we would have to learn again how to be happy and fulfilled without destroying the biosphere. And it would probably be easy.

 

That is, it would be easy if the elites and those with extremely disproportionate amounts of wealth and power would allow it.

 

Wait, most of us now live in cities and sprawling suburbs covered with asphalt and concrete! How would we feed ourselves if we stop consuming mass-produced food?! Uh, all of those parking spaces behind big box stores that never get used other than on Black Friday--how about the owners work with engineers and see if there is a way to cover that space without interfering with storm drainage and causing flooding? If there is a way, how about dividing that space into units and renting those units to households who could put greenhouses on them and grow their own vegetables? See how easy that was?

 

I do not see a transition to earlier, lower-emissions forms of economic organization being difficult or painful. On the contrary, the creativity, imagination and entrepreneurship that would make it happen would likely be fun.

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InDefenseOfPOMO
15 hours ago, Homer said:

I said it before and I'll say it again - the only way to save this planet is to eradicate mankind.

 

If I was a woman, non-white person and/or non-Westerner, I would be extremely offended by that statement.

 

Anthropogenic climate change is the creation of white, Western men who have subjugated and exploited for the slave labor or cheap wage labor that made it possible children, women, non-Westerners and non-whites. Some people, such as the Native Americans, have not had the chance to be subjugated and exploited in great numbers--they were almost all killed to clear the way for all of the settlements, railroads, factories highways, airports, shopping malls, etc. that have contributed to anthropogenic climate change. Furthermore, surpluses of non-whites are being exploited in another way: mass incarceration of African-Americans has become a profitable business.

 

Yet, you say that all of those people are the problem and must be eradicated. Only a small percentage of humans in a relatively small window of recent human history have organized and carried out the activities that have caused anthropogenic climate change. The overwhelming majority of humans died before anthropogenic climate change and did not contribute to it. The overwhelming majority of humans who have lived in the time that anthropogenic climate change has been caused have been oppressed and have only suffered from the process. Yet you say that all humans past and present are the cause of the problem and all of them must go. I do not think that racism, sexism and imperialism get any worse than your words.

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Sally
1 hour ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

Yet you say that all humans past and present are the cause of the problem and all of them must go. I do not think that racism, sexism and imperialism get any worse than your words.

 

That's not at all what Homer said.  He didn't say that all humans were the cause of the problem; he said that "the only way to save this planet is to eradicate mankind."   

 

The damage is done and is rising exponentially.  A new study appearing in the American Association for the Advancement of Science says that by the end of this century, the oceans will have risen 12 feet.  The previous estimate was 6 feet.  I'm taking a course given by an emeritus science professor at the University of Washington; he told us today that atmospheric scientists have said the accurate phrase is "climate catastrophe", not climate change.   It is undeniable that capitalism caused this catastrophe; however, they will continue on that path because the political will does not exist to stop, and they own the political will.  

 

All that being the case, what Homer said is true.  

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Pandark
5 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

Anthropogenic climate change is the creation of white, Western men who have subjugated and exploited for the slave labor or cheap wage labor that made it possible children, women, non-Westerners and non-whites.

No, it isn't. The problem is everyone wants a bigger share of the earth and its resources. We've more people to share with every day, but most people seem to feel they've more people to compete with.

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gisiebob

washing your hands with cynicism seems like a really fun way of saying you have things to add to the conversation, when you don't. if ya wanna say "Dad's already shot the gun and Jr's already got his grave dug, nothin' I can do" is...fine, I guess. but don't hang out with feet on either side of the kitchen door. late capitalism's number one export is apathy, I know. (I've got it too!)

 

On 5/20/2019 at 10:09 PM, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

Industrial capitalism got us into this climate change mess, so why are we trying to save ourselves using its language?

learn the language of anyone who thinks they need to kill you specifically. if you say the system that keeps us currently alive is just hostage takers guess who gets stockholm syndrome. no, we can't butcher our own cows and grow our own corn suddenly anymore. or if we can, I'm stuck with them unconcerned doomsayers that'll be dead weight in dredging a solution.

 

I think we can grow within the skeleton we have without breaking too many of them. that mass production as a part of a balanced breakfast can be sustainable and wholesome, both for the consumers and producers, as long as it is more than a competition for profit. but I don't know how to break the hands of the mythos of "People will only work if they are paid" and "buisneses exist to make money" without sounding evil.

 

I mean, making capitalism redundant, building a post-scarcity world on top of it with all sorts of nervous folk thinking capitalism remains as a safety net could work. well, besides having to wrestle artificial and manufactured scarecty into submission. but I don't think we have the time to "Let it happen"

 

so, if about any recipe that is worth it's salt says "Revolution"

how we revolution?

how do we unify ideals and goals?

how do we coagulate into groups from individuals?

how do we press against society until it bends?

I can't see the way to do that and those other things, and I feel a lot like the most I can do is argue against my apathy which says that is the whole story.

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Aebt

I shall just be looking at their model for now, as there are a few issues with their model.

Quote

. . . [T]he Phillips curve should satisfy Φ(0) < 0 to ensure there is an employment rate below which there is downward pressure on wages.

Is that true though? Does not the work of the, now late, Alan Kruger prove some of that wrong? He was able to do a field study and show that minimum wage, up to a point, does not impact the number of jobs available. If that is true, then if the employment rate is low (unemployment rate being high, logically) then there may not be a strong connection between wages and the number of people employed.

 

They also appear to fix the interest rate, which while I understand why having it never-changing would be beneficial in the model, the interest rate is explicitly interconnected with the business cycle

 

Furthermore:

Quote

. . . [The model economy suffers from a] breakdown of stability if the level of investment, or ‘animal spirits', are too sensitive to current GDP.

Investments are nearly always dependent on current GDP, hence why investments fall in recessions and depressions. How much instability it would introduce into their model I do not know, but that statement kind of belies the idea that the model is stable.

 

It remains an interesting model though, even if what I pointed out does cause it to not be as accurate.

 

8 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

It seems to me that even if an "economist" investigates the behavior of traditional/indigenous peoples past and present he/she does it through a Western, capitalist worldview.

That is usually very true, economists are often tied to what they experience. Oftentimes the economies of traditional societies are impractical or impossible to measure the same way the economy can be measured in a Capitalistic, State Capitalistic, or USSR-Socialistic society.

8 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

We can't be happy with anything we buy--that is not how it works. As soon as we purchase something we are told through advertisements that what we have is not good and that only the newest product will make us happy.

Although it is true that excessive material possessions/wealth does not equate out to happiness, the happiest nations on Earth (Iceland, Finland, etc.) are by no means poor nations and have quite a lot of wealth, they are considered wealthier nations. So while wealth does not equal happiness, poverty does not either. Rather happiness tends to increase with wealth, up to a certain point. Happiness through other societal factors would also factor in to determining happiness. Just because we are not happy does not mean the entire economy is at fault, our society can be broken also.

8 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

Work has become increasingly monotonous. Workers have increasingly had to train for and perform narrow specialties. The home has become nothing more than a place for entertainment and recreation.

True, and that specialization is not always a good thing for the humans involved. But not every job has suffered from extreme specialization. Manufacturing jobs are the main ones that have suffered from specialization ever since the humanity has congregated together in groups, but picked up speed after people started settling in cities.

8 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

Not only would earlier economic organization likely significantly reduce emissions, it would likely make us much happier and more fulfilled as economic actors. The difference between buying building materials from a local supplier rather than a national chain and making your own furniture in your home with your own tools rather than buying mass-produced furniture from a chain mega-retailer would probably be like night and day with respect to happiness and fulfillment. And that furniture would probably be taken much better care of, valued much more, and be exponentially less likely to end up collecting dust from lack of use, sitting in a dark self-storage unit, or rotting in a landfill.

Although that would be lovely, not everyone really wants to make their own furniture. I suspect quite a few people simply do not care how they get their furniture.

8 hours ago, InDefenseOfPOMO said:

A return to earlier forms of economic organization might result in the numbers that economists measure being worse. But the things that economists cannot or do not measure, such as how fulfilled we are as unique individual human beings, would likely improve.

Of course economists cannot measure everything, and economics does suffer from a focus on the numbers, rather than how those numbers translate down to the humans involved. And no one has been able to satisfactorily measure how happy individuals are, happiness is hard to quantify whether one does it be economic means or other means.

 

Your statement on feeding oneself in urban environments is entirely correct, not to mention vertical urban farming ideas and more.

 

One last thing: The economy grows by technological advancement, if you want a zero-growth economy you would have to force technological advancements to cease. That would very much be a double-edged sword. (I am using the word technological in the broadest sense to mean technology, organization, communication, transportation, etc.)

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Pandark
2 hours ago, gisiebob said:

if you say the system that keeps us currently alive is just hostage takers guess who gets stockholm syndrome

The system is flawed but unavoidable. As long as political progressive and conservative parties keep distancing themselves from each other the flaws will remain.

 

In my opinion this discussion, like most political discussions, is waaay too focused on details.  All this accomplishes is reshuffling. I'll draw a simple parallel: imagine humanity as a single living organism. Economy is resembled by its bloodstream, while the earth and its resources resemble breath, water and food. On the one side, people are focused on restricting air, water and food consumption and thus restricting the bloodstream and health of society. On the other side, people are focused only on maintaining the bloodstream and ignoring the natural limits on air, water and land/food. What do you think will happen?

 

There is plenty of air, water and food for everyone. There's also plenty of room for entrepreneurs, provided a handful of harmful practices are abolished. If you ask me the solution to this is more or less as simple as to stop poisoning the well with agricultural malpractices. Give the earth its forests back and stop leaking shit into the water and air.

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