Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gavin Mendel-Gleason — Econophysics and Socialism: An Interview with Paul Cockshott

Paul Cockshott is a Scottish computer scientist and a reader at the University of Glasgow. His major areas of work includearray compilers, econophysics and thephysical foundations of computability.
He has written a number of books including Towards a New Socialism and more recently Classical Econophysics.
The North Star
Econophysics and Socialism: An Interview with Paul Cockshott
Gavin Mendel-Gleason

23 comments:

Matt Franko said...

"What do you think about minimum basic income proposals, given that sufficient use values can be produced with decreasing amounts of human labour, and that there may be environmental reasons to curtail economic growth in any event?

I tend to oppose these. Under a capitalist system they amount to a subsidy to low wage employers and a subsidy that other workers pay out of their taxes. Instead the labour movement should be demanding the full value that their labour creates."

Then how can we currently run a 'deficit', if as you say: "workers pay out of their taxes"?

Well, we borrow that money from our children and grandchildren, which cant go on forever... blah, blah, blah....

Economics is NOT Physics....

Matt Franko said...

I get the same argument from my "capitalist" friends all the time:

"Why should MY tax dollars go to pay for someone else, blah, blah, blah...."

This guy does NOT understand "where the money comes from"... he thinks, the govt is "broke" without taxes... sign him up with the "Fix the Debt" people...

Bob said...

If I recall correctly, he would replace money with labour vouchers that would be tied to the individual and possibly have an expiration date. Hence, he would do away with fiat.

His work on a planned economy is interesting from a computer science perspective.

Matt Franko said...

Bob R,

"The only reason..."

You mean 'the only reason' for YOU people....

rsp,

Matt Franko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Franko said...

Google's monopoly on search is being enforced thru threats of violence????

Larry and Sergei are threatening to beat me up if I dont use their search engine?

The Rombach Report said...

"Economics is NOT Physics...."

Matt - I disagree. In physics, the 2nd law of thermodynamics states that the universe tends towards randomness, disorder and entropy. Yet, the existence of life on planet earth is evidence of negative entropy a.k.a negentropy. In this context, economics should really be viewed as a subset of ecology. Therefore, energy throughput functions in a way to counteract entropy governing human reproductive rates, population growth, labor productivity and growing complexity of economic systems with ever growing divisions of labor that impact on a negentropic feedback loop.

Ryan Harris said...

I think the JG avoids the subsidy problem. The current system is nearly a BIG by providing the basic necessities of life .. Food stamps, housing assistance, medical care, utility allowances and a small cash credit if you work a minimum wage job.

y said...

"you are congenitally incapable of a fair engagement of your opponents"

That describes you pretty well, bob.

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

I am not violating their intellectual property when I (and 99.9999% of others) use their search....thus giving them their monopoly...

Nobody is holding a gun to anybody's head Bob, we have morons in positions of authority who think they are "out of money" and so therefore THEY WANT "YOUR MONEY" Bob as without it these disgraced pieces of human garbage think they are "out of money" and they are willing to do whatever violence either real or threatened to be able to get it from you Bob...

rsp,

y said...

I never said the "analysis of human affairs is just like analysis of inanimate objects", you imbecile.

Why don't you piss off and bore someone else with your idiotic, offensive crap?

Go see a professional therapist. You really need help. Stop inflicting your mental problems on everyone.

septeus7 said...

Quote from y: "You really need help. Stop inflicting your mental problems on everyone."

You've identified the main problem with the obviously wrong NAP (non-aggression principle) that Bob is always yapping about.

By require his psycho idea of the NAP on everyone and refusing to compromise with anyone else's Bob is in fact being coercieve and abusing by the power we give him and letting him be a petty tyrant by letting his emotional standards overide what in the interest of the group.

Thus by definition NAP cannot be real principle of economics by rather is a social power play trying to dominate others i.e. any action based on NAP must be based on agression and force.

First axiom of real social dynamics. Action=Aggression. Man Acts. Man aggresses.

Magpie said...

Ryan Harris,

"I think the JG avoids the subsidy problem. The current system is nearly a BIG by providing the basic necessities of life .. Food stamps, housing assistance, medical care, utility allowances and a small cash credit if you work a minimum wage job."

You are right that "the current system is nearly a BIG".

But I don't think the BIG can avoid the subsidy problem. In fact, employers are already using the current system to avoid paying their workers a sufficient wage (I am referring to the cases of Walmart and McDonalds in the U.S.)

Frankly, I can't see how this problem could be avoided with a BIG (which goes a long way to explain why even some Austerians favour some form of it).

Ryan Harris said...

Agreed Magpie,

A pure JG forces companies to exceed the JG Wage and benefits whereas a BIG works as a subsidy for corporations. The problem with the JG is that mercantilist nations like Europe, Japan and China can all use our JG to buffer their own labor markets. In effect they could rig the system to force more americans to work low end JG jobs except during boom times. In a crude sense, because of the deficit limits and central bank policy, currently Europeans act as the worlds buffer stock of unemployed. A JG would transform americans to being the buffer stock of employed.

Calgacus said...

Ryan Harris:The problem with the JG is that mercantilist nations like Europe, Japan and China can all use our JG to buffer their own labor markets. In effect they could rig the system to force more americans to work low end JG jobs except during boom times... A JG would transform americans to being the buffer stock of employed.

What problem? Such mercantilism is a real benefit to the USA & American workers. IF the state practices functional finance. Abba Lerner worked it all out long ago in his Economics of Employment (conciser than his Economics of Control). But I guess nobody reads him. Forstater, but even the rest of the MMTers could do with more detailed reference to Lerner's utter lucidity, particularly on such matters.

Thinking this is a problem is trying to argue in 2 contradictory ways. The mercantilist states underpaying their workers and accumulating US dollars bolster the value of the dollar and allow additional non-inflationary accomodating spending, which can be through a JG or whatever. But the JG wage is then not "low" - it can be easily raised - because of the dollar's strength, all the good (tradeable) things in life provided by the nice mercantilists. Of course it and other additional government spending made possible by the deflationary effects of the mercantilism support additional "multiplier" growth, employment and wealth-creation. The point of FF/MMT is not to have slumps any more, but "permanent quasi-booms" in Keynes words. At the extreme, 100% of Americans work at JG jobs, creating a utopia for the public's good - and are paid in hyper-valuable dollars which can buy a nice electric car from China for $10. And this is a problem how?

Tom Hickey said...

And this is a problem how?

Just little things like neoliberalism, neo-imperialism, and neocolonialism and their domestic and international consequences. Otherwise, no problem.

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Hickey said...

Let me unpack that a bit. Neoliberalism is a political theory that hold ethics and politics equates with economics, economic efficiency being the top priority and socio-economic criterion. Based on this people are in service of capital accumulation.

I am convinced that no progressive economic solutions to current and emergent problems are possible under this social and political theory based on economic liberalism. Neoliberalism is too intrenched to attack frontally. Even if enacted progressive measures won't last long in the face of attack.

Lakoff is correct that a moral argument is required. We need to change the frame by arguing "Put people first," and "Think globally."


If we don't explore options along the lines that Roger has been hitting one, we are toast. TINA is the roadblock.

We need a more powerful argument rhetorically. The logical-factual approach is insufficient to breach the bastion that has been constructed, which, btw, also has a moral basis in the appeal to "freedom."

Who's not for freedom. The problem is that neoliberal freedom is the freedom of the elite to exploit and depredate.

The logical outcome neoliberalism is the privatization of everything, which amounts to the eventual predation of everything. The idea of the tragedy of the commons resulting in ecological degradation with the answer being private ownership of what was commonly held through enclosure — Marx's primitive accumulation — is bogus, and the cumulative effects of negative externalities show it. We need to hit on the strategy of neoliberalism as "privatize the gain and socialize the loss."

Calgacus said...

Tom Hickey:Just little things like neoliberalism, neo-imperialism, and neocolonialism and their domestic and international consequences. Otherwise, no problem.

Words - with no argument and no causation from these aspects of functional finance practiced by nations to these problems. Functional Finance - common sense & accounting - refutes the strange idea that mercantilist states can "cheat" & create "problems" for a country using functional finance, with a Job Guarantee & full employment. Indeed, as Lerner emphasized, functional finance - the opposite of neoliberalism - is a mighty weapon against such Bad Things. For the umpteenth time, I recommend all read his chapters on international issues in Economics of Employment as an antidote to this wooly-mindedness. Such ideas are like blaming diseases on vaccines

Calgacus said...

Ryan Harris:Calgacus, If you accept that gross economic simplification that "imports are always a real benefit" and exports a cost,

Not a "simplification", but true by definition, truer than 2+2= 2+2. When you go to the store, you pay dollars to the storekeeper. You export dollars - a cost. You get - import - groceries - a benefit. Nothing more complicated happens among nations. Thinking that exports aren't a cost & imports not a benefit is as crazy in one situation as the other. Of course productive capacity can decrease in the importing country, which is the only valid counterargument here. But this is a minor and easily solved problem - direct some of the much greater benefits of other countries' "hostile gifts" (Lerner) toward maintaining capacity, buffer stocks of imported materials, etc.

Unfortunately in every human system people cheat. Regulatory arbitrage and Labor market arbitrage aren't an imaginary anomaly, they are the norm. Sure. But SO WHAT? Who are the "cheaters" cheating by underpaying their workers, engaging in regulatory arbitrage? Themselves - their country - say China. NOT the importing country with the JG - the USA. Other countries "cheating" is just giving more gifts at lower prices to the USA. Chinese "cheating" is the same threat to the USA as the new sheriff's threat to the townspeople to shoot in Blazing Saddles. Unfortunately such Rock Ridge logic is nearly universal.

Sure in the imaginary world where laws don't exist, no one cheats, and the current institutions are eliminated, unfortunately in the real world, doesn't work. The USA need change no laws nor institutions to practice functional finance, and indeed by recent international standards it does practice FF compared to most. And others' cheating benefits it, so there is no argument at all here applicable to the USA.

Tom Hickey said...

Calgacus, you are an excellent economist but have the same problem that most economists do in thinking that economics trumps politics and institutional arrangements. As Ryan pointed out, the presumptions are simply naive and will be hijacked out of the box by neoliberal interests. How long will it take them to turn a JG into workfare? I wouldn't give it more than a few election cycles under the best of circumstances. And we already see what is happening with "free trade" as far as who is reaping the real benefits. These interests aren't going to just roll over.

This is why I give MMT only qualified support. It shows how to proceed if we should decide democratically to retain a version of capitalism after neoliberalism is finally and permanently dispatched. Otherwise, it will keep coming back to haunt us. It's a zombie — really a vampire that needs a stake driven through its heart.

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.