Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Branko Milanovic — Inevitability of the need for economic growth—the nth time.

Today, I got into a bit of a Twitter spat with Kate Raworth who suggested in a talk to OECD top brass that their statement of objectives (defined, I guess, in the 1950s or 1960s) which emphasizes the achievement of high growth rates should be modified to create “redistributive and regenerative economies..whether or not they grow”. I have to confess not to have read Kate’s very successful “Doughnut economics” yet but hope to make up for that very soon. But I have read some reviews and my reaction to the suggested change in the OECD mission statement was thoroughly negative. De-emphasizing growth is not desirable, and perhaps more importantly, is utterly unrealizable in societies like our modern societies. Because I am convinced of the latter, perhaps I should refrain from criticizing her position—since I believe that nothing will ever come of it.
But let me still explain under several headings why I think so. (Surely, the OECD statement may be changed for PR reasons, but this is immaterial.)
Depends on the meaning of "growth.

Obviously, a growing population requires maintaining growth to offset and innovation can produce higher growth levels thorough increased productivity that obviates or reduced increased need for scarce resources and does so sustainably.

This is an important debate to have and the issues are coming to the fore in political economy as it relates to globalization.

In my view, the neoliberal concept of growth (growth for the sake of growth) needs to be revisited and overhauled on the core assumption (value statement) that economies serve societies rather than vice versa.

This is essentially a debate about values, and the kind of world that we want to create and living in, not only ourselves but future generations. Discussion of means follows this.

Milanovic observes that the fundamental problematic is that of capitalism. Everyone wants the benefits but then complains about the tradeoffs that are systemically necessary but undesirable. Standard of living includes more than can be measured in terms of increased material benefits, which not only do not yield abiding happiness but the inordinate pursuit of which individually and socially may become a detriment to fulfillment.

Global Inequality
Inevitability of the need for economic growth—the nth time.
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


19 comments:

Matt Franko said...

Some people are happy in the pursuit of material benefit or material systems improvement....

Tom Hickey said...

Some people are happy in the pursuit of material benefit or material systems improvement....

Temporarily.

Abiding fulfillment is "the peace that the world cannot give."

A person or society that prioritizes material satisfaction misses the point of living.

Material satisfaction is a good, but it is not the good.

Material satisfaction is not actually a requirement for abiding fulfillment. Many people that lived simply if not in actual poverty report on their experience of inner fulfillment. According to them this is the genuine "utility."

I had friend that was formerly an American Catholic priest serving at the Vatican in the ecumenical department. He was very impressed with Buddhist monks he occasionally saw and worked with on projects. By choice, they are helpless, homeless and hopeless as far as the world is concerned. The last time I saw him he was off to Harlem (he was a middle-class Black person from an LA suburb) to show the homeless there how to really be homeless.

Matt Franko said...

Not everybody is the same Tom...

Matt Franko said...

Policy should be complementary to the various types of people ...

Complementary meaning "combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other or another."

Some people train hard to be the best in whatever endeavor they are interested in, often these are material oriented endeavors...

Tom Hickey said...

Not everybody is the same Tom...

This is the bottom line of liberalism. Liberalism is for freedom for all. But freedom requires discipline and responsibility to be human freedom of it is just license that approximates the law of the jungle to one degree or other.

This is another reason that a fundamental question regarding liberalism is what constitutes a good life in a good society.

Tom Hickey said...

Policy should be complementary to the various types of people ...

Complementary meaning "combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize the qualities of each other or another."

Some people train hard to be the best in whatever endeavor they are interested in, often these are material oriented endeavors...


But does that imply that technocracy is the optimal form of governance?

Tom Hickey said...

Actually, many if not most around the world don't use paper, they use water, for example. That includes countries in the West, too.

Matt Franko said...

"What is the good life"

Well having ample supply of toilet paper certainly isn't asking too much...

Matt Franko said...

Maybe look at governance as a separate discipline within the academy... separate from the technical disciplines...

Matt Franko said...

We need competent technical people advising govt..

Tom Hickey said...

“It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear its imperfections, if they are at all bearable; and they will not make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which those imperfections qualify.

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.”


― John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism

Tom Hickey said...

Maybe look at governance as a separate discipline within the academy... separate from the technical disciplines...

We need competent technical people advising govt..


The problem is how to do this under liberalism.

There are basically two views of liberalism,following Hobbes on one hand and Rousseau. Hobbes held that people in general were not capable of self-governance and needed to be ruled authoritatively by their betters, which became the basis for conservatism. Rousseau held that people are natural good and capable of participating equally in the social contract.

Conservative liberals prefer a democratic republic that is organized such that the "most qualified" rule, while liberal liberals prefer government of, by and for the people based on all for one and one for all.

The problem with liberal conservatism is deciding on how to choose who is "most qualified" and preventing vested interests from dominating as "the most qualified" based on chiefly wealth and influence, or patronage.

The problem with liberal liberalism is avoiding rule by the unqualified and falling victim to the rule of the rabble.

jrbarch said...

My technically competent OS keeps crashing (even when hands off)!

The Generals that want to rub out every other in sight, not in the same uniform, are highly technically competent.

There is more education in the world today than ever before - and more ignorance too.

Human beings used to just screw things up royally; now they can do it with a computer in nanoseconds.

I'm going out to enjoy the day regardless.

Matt Franko said...

Well here is Abby Martin's CV:

"She received an undergraduate degree in political science and minored in Spanish."

Now we are supposed t listen to her about what is going wrong in Venezuela?

She knows nothing... she is trained in politics so she ofc thinks it's a political problem.... meanwhile all she keeps pointing out are technical problems.... she probably couldn't check the oil in her car...

Who died and left John Stuart Mill the boss???

Matt Franko said...

jr, get a mac...

Tom Hickey said...

Who died and left John Stuart Mill the boss???

Mill wrote the book on utilitarianism, and he pointed out that utility is more than material satisfaction (Bentham), which is what satisfies animals and immature humans, who he calls fools. Utility is conventional economics is about material satisfaction.

jrbarch said...

”jr, get a mac ...”

Right. The MS business and product development plan is to let their customers be guinea pigs. When something goes wrong they send out a fix; then fixes for the fixes. Layered bandaids. Imagine buying a car like that. You drive it away from the dealer and it crashes – no fault of yours. Or just freezes in the middle of the highway. They fix it and it crashes again. And people can’t wait for the next model .... a metaphor for the world .... all those BO and DT promises that just run off the road while the steering wheel spins freely; but hey, we have technical competence (the new religion of the day) ....! We have economic science (adding up and subtracting)! The Generals have an amazing smorgasbord of technical competence at their disposal. See your eyelashes from outer space. Hiroshima was their shining hour ....

Agrarian revolution, industrial revolution, communications and transport revolution, capitalism revolution, information revolution, technology revolution – they are all prophets promising happiness. Politicians who are streetwise too promise happiness; even though they know they can’t deliver. More time, for a better life. A good life. Get to know your kids. Enjoy being alive. Just vote me in and wait and see. As stressed out as we all are, running the rat race, busy busy busy, no time to spare, insular. Always disappointed. True believers until the bell tolls ....

I wonder if I should get a mac .....?

Matt Franko said...

"material satisfaction (Bentham), which is what satisfies animals and immature humans,"

That is about the most disrespectful, condescending, elitist, offensive statement towards anybody who has ever studied/worked in a STEM field as I've ever seen...

Tom Hickey said...

That is about the most disrespectful, condescending, elitist, offensive statement towards anybody who has ever studied/worked in a STEM field as I've ever seen...

Then maybe (some) STEM people shouldn't be so arrogant about having all the answers, and acting like liberal arts people are "dispensable."