Protected: The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth

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From the archives: Henry George and the Reconstruction of Capitalism

It’s the weekend, the world economy  is seriously wounded and running out of control. Hmm. Maybe it is time to sit back and consider all the issues and  alternatives. So relax, take off your shoes, get comfortable and sit down to read this challenging 1992 essay by Robert V. Andelson. 
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“It would require less than the fingers of the two hands to enumerate those who, from Plato down, rank with Henry George among the world’s social philosophers…[He is] certainly the greatest that this country has produced. No man … has the right to regard himself as an educated man in social thought unless he has some first hand acquaintance with the theoretical contribution of this great American thinker.” ~John Dewey

With the fall of the Iron Curtain, people all over the world seem to be searching for a “Middle Way.” Except in North Korea and Cuba, doctrinaire Marxism has been repudiated virtually everywhere, even by the Left. Socialism has become passé. Its adherents are no longer riding the crest of the wave of the future. Even the most energetic apostles of federal meddling, John Kenneth Galbraith, for example, eschew the Socialist label.

Yet, on the other hand, the free market economists of the classical period would scarcely recognize Capitalism as we know it in America today. Such luminaries of industry and finance as Lee Iacocca and Felix Rohatyn advocate a measure of government intervention that would have seemed entirely insupportable to Cobden or Ricardo. In the political field, the major candidates differ mainly on matters of degree. It is not so much a question of “Shall there be federal aid?” as of “How much federal aid shall there be?” or of “How shall it be administered?”. As long ago as the late 1940s, “Mr. Conservative” himself, Senator Robert A. Taft, sponsored a bill for federal housing. Later, another Senate Republican leader, Bob Dole, was a major architect of the food stamp program, which is itself a dole, not just for the poor, but, above all, for agribusiness. A Republican president, Richard Nixon, instituted price controls, and cut the dollar loose from its last tenuous backing with the cynical quip, “We are all Keynesians now”.

But what we are presented with, from Right to Left, is not a coordinated structure embodying the best elements from both sides, not even a well-thought-out attempt at syncretism, but rather a bewildering welter of jerry-built solutions, each one based on political and emotional considerations and lacking any functional relationship to a unified system of socio-economic truth — let alone any rootage in a grand scheme of teleology or ethics.

A little Socialism here, and a little Capitalism there; a concern for the public sector here, and a concession to the profit motive there; a sop to the “underprivileged” here, and a bow to incentive there — put them all together, and what have you got? Nothing but a great big rag-bag, a haphazard pastiche of odds and ends without any bones and without any guts!

Nevertheless, there is a Middle Way. . .

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WHY THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL SHOULD FAIL IMMEDIATELY


Robert Ayres, INSEAD
with Michael Olenick and Lu Hao

Tax cuts, wages and salaries: Will lower taxes help workers? And the economy?

For several weeks, the guest experts on CNBC and Bloomberg News have been talking about the coming tax cut legislation (for corporations) that the Republicans finally seem to have in their grasp. The Bill, as it is currently proposed, will eliminate the insurance mandate for health care and may leave quite a lot of upper middle class salaried people, worse off, especially in high tax states.

The sure winners will be the shareholders of multinational corporations and “pass through” enterprises, especially real estate partnerships. The “supply-side” cheerleaders for the plan, both in Congress and the White House (Mnuchin, Cohen, Mulvaney, et al) argue that economic growth be much faster, that it will pay for the cuts, and that wages and salaries will rise, thanks to a burst of new investment.

By contrast, virtually all top economists say that the cuts won’t pay for themselves, that the deficit and the national debt will increase, and that growth will not accelerate.

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STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS (Life before “Circular Economy”)

CE Antecedents heros v5

More often than not the concept or application of what is called”Circular Economy” is treated as an entirely new toolbox or approach, that is to say somehow historyless,. Like Athena, at birth springing full formed from the head of Zeus. This is of course far from the case.

The goal of the above quickly fashioned mosaic is to serve as an explicit reminder — an incomplete reminder to be sure— of some of the great men and great thinking that came before, with this listing taking us up to the beginning of this still-new century,. (Surely I have missed here some of the important figures, who to my mind constitute the Founding Fathers of Circular Economy. So please do not be shy and share your thoughts on this with us.)

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Walter Stahel on the Performance Economy

 

Walter Stahel, architect and industrial analyst, argues that the circular economy should be considered a framework: as a generic notion, the circular economy draws on several more specific approaches that gravitate around a set of basic principles.

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COMING FULL CIRCLE: Why Social and Institutional Dimensions Matter for the Circular Economy

Introductory summary and selected excerpts from a key read by  Vincent Moreau, Marlyne Sahakian, Pascal van Griethuysen, and François Vuille, appearing in the Journal of Industrial Ecology dated 28 April 2017. We can strongly recommend the full contents of  the Special Issue of that date: “Exploring the Circular Economy”.

In light of the environmental consequences of linear production and consumption processes, the circular economy (CE) is gaining momentum as a concept and practice, promoting closed material cycles by focusing on multiple strategies from material recycling to product reuse, as well as rethinking production and consumption chains toward increased resource efficiency.

Yet, by considering mainly cost-effective opportunities within the realm of economic competitiveness, it stops short of grappling with the institutional and social predispositions necessary for societal transitions to a CE.

Although the entropy law remains intransigent, institutional conditions and societal values can be challenged and transformed through political processes, in order to usher in a more equitable and circular economy.

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The Emergence of the New Circular Economy: A Bibliography

book reader penang

– Bibliography compiled by Dr David Ness, School of Natural and Built Environments  13 July 2017

The modern view of a circular economy differs from the past. It has started in the second half of the 20th Century and is a case for the simultaneous and uncorrelated emergence of an idea

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