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The_Walrus
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30 Nov 2022, 2:19 pm

Dox47 wrote:
Just a quick note on the Nordic countries; many of the have enormous oil wealth, and that has allowed them to prop up generous social welfare programs despite otherwise lackluster economies. Make of that what you will.

Norway has lots of oil.

The reason Sweden, Finland, and Denmark can afford their social programmes (which aren't necessarily actually that much more generous than in western Europe) is because they're actually very low-regulation. It is quick and easy to register a business, for example. The Heritage Foundation, which isn't known for being in favour of social democracy, ranks those three countries as the 9th, 10th, and 11th most "economically free" in the world, despite them all being dragged down by high government spending and high fiscal burdens. Heritage gave Finland a 100% score for property rights, for example. Take out the spending considerations and these would probably come in above Switzerland and Singapore as the best places in the world to do business.

Oil is often a blessing and a curse. Norway have made it work, but many oil producers have economies that entirely revolve around oil. Instead of growing their economy across all sectors, they just produce oil. Venezuela is the worst example but there are plenty of places that seem rich but are entirely dependent upon the oil.



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01 Dec 2022, 11:29 am

magz wrote:
usagibryan wrote:
I think it's kind of an outdated ideology now too, a product of it's time.
I think the "labor theory of value" does not account to i.e. automatization - the same things can be produced with way less amount of labour but they are just as useful or useless as they were before.
There's enormous difference between e.g. how much work had to be put into agriculture 100 years ago to feed everyone - vs how much agricultural work is needed today to produce even more food.

I think the apparent contradiction there is because the term "value" is being used to represent two rather different things - labour-value and use-value.

Innovation reduces the labour-value when it reduces the necessary labour time. Not that it makes the products less valuable to the user. Marx saw use-value as a separate concept to labour-value, and was only concerned there with whether or not a thing was deemed useful at all. I think a lot of confusion arises from the clash between Marx's specialised definition of the term "value" and other, commonly-accepted, definitions. I've read that many economists only accept actual price as their definition of value, which may be politically motivated.

What I like about the LTOV is its potential to highlight who is getting unearned income and who is footing the bill - it offers a handy way of calculating fair exchange and degree of exploitation. But it gets rather more complicated when for example an individual claims their high income is deserved on the grounds of the risks they took to achieve it.



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01 Dec 2022, 12:25 pm

I think labor theory of value can be considered as... maybe rather labor aspect of value?
I mean, it can be a meaningful analysis to see actual labor put into producing various goods - but it's very limited when used separately. It does not obviously account to i.e. knowledge and talent, I think it struggles with grasping a value of innovation, creativity and efficiency, so using it solo can easily lead to ridiculous effects.
I think a price of thing is "market value" and in is yet another aspect of value. Maybe using it solo leads exactly to the diseases of capitalism?
I put a lot of focus on functional value but I'm pretty sure using it solo when constructing an ideology would also lead to some weird distortions :D


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01 Dec 2022, 2:52 pm

magz wrote:
I think labor theory of value can be considered as... maybe rather labor aspect of value?

Yes. I wish Marx hadn't tried to take over the term "value" quite like he did. To me it's not really the theory of value, it's as you say an aspect, a way of seeing value, a concept in itself. I think human language sometimes gets quite muddled, and it's hard for the individual to straighten it out unless they're a very powerful influencer.
Quote:
I mean, it can be a meaningful analysis to see actual labor put into producing various goods - but it's very limited when used separately. It does not obviously account to i.e. knowledge and talent,

Perhaps knowledge and talent can be factored into the calculation by figuring out the labour time embodied in the worker's training, though I sense there's more to it.
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I think it struggles with grasping a value of innovation, creativity and efficiency, so using it solo can easily lead to ridiculous effects.

Yes it gets complicated. Those things could be about the production process or the individual worker. I'd need examples to ponder.
Quote:
I think a price of thing is "market value" and in is yet another aspect of value. Maybe using it solo leads exactly to the diseases of capitalism?

That's my suspicion. The terms "overpriced" and "underpriced" haven't been removed from the dictionary, and the former is well-used by shoppers, and many of us hold that profiteering exists and is reprehensibile, all of which suggests the matter-of-fact price doesn't always tell us the fair price. I suppose many pro-capitalists would deny the actual price could be unfair. There's this argument that in a free market an overpricer would go out of business because a competitor would undercut it. But in the real world it doesn't always work out that way.
Quote:
I put a lot of focus on functional value but I'm pretty sure using it solo when constructing an ideology would also lead to some weird distortions :D

Yes functional value is clearly a useful idea. The degree of usefulness of a product to a buyer is important, though AFAIK Marx didn't see it as relevent to its fair or natural price, except as a binary thing, i.e. if it's useful, it's in demand, and if it's useless, it's not in demand so nobody in their right mind would produce it.

Maybe the biggest problem is that the modern economy is too complicated for anybody to truly get their brain around.



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01 Dec 2022, 3:10 pm

ToughDiamond wrote:
Quote:
I think it struggles with grasping a value of innovation, creativity and efficiency, so using it solo can easily lead to ridiculous effects.

Yes it gets complicated. Those things could be about the production process or the individual worker. I'd need examples to ponder.
I was having in mind creative work - science, engineering, art. You can do lots of work without any value there or, with a spark of genius, something of great importance with relatively little work.
ToughDiamond wrote:
Quote:
I think a price of thing is "market value" and in is yet another aspect of value. Maybe using it solo leads exactly to the diseases of capitalism?

That's my suspicion. The terms "overpriced" and "underpriced" haven't been removed from the dictionary, and the former is well-used by shoppers, and many of us hold that profiteering exists and is reprehensibile, all of which suggests the matter-of-fact price doesn't always tell us the fair price. I suppose many pro-capitalists would deny the actual price could be unfair. There's this argument that in a free market an overpricer would go out of business because a competitor would undercut it. But in the real world it doesn't always work out that way.
Well, the concept of "ideal market" is... ideal. It can be a better or worse approximation of the reality, depending on the circumstances.
ToughDiamond wrote:
Quote:
I put a lot of focus on functional value but I'm pretty sure using it solo when constructing an ideology would also lead to some weird distortions :D

Yes functional value is clearly a useful idea. The degree of usefulness of a product to a buyer is important, though AFAIK Marx didn't see it as relevent to its fair or natural price, except as a binary thing, i.e. if it's useful, it's in demand, and if it's useless, it's not in demand so nobody in their right mind would produce it.
Pity.
I moved to a bigger apartment not long ago. Homes are always useful, they're in demand - but they can be more or less comfortable, better or worse located, sometimes simply better or worse fitting needs of a particular person or family. These needs are not universal, i.e. we didn't mind fourth floor without an elevator but insisted on the place being quiet. Plenty of people would prefer it the other way (which was reflected by market values).
BTW, homes are an example of an area where the model of ideal market totally does not apply - because well-located space is a fundamentally limited resource, so competition won't ensure fair prices.
ToughDiamond wrote:
Maybe the biggest problem is that the modern economy is too complicated for anybody to truly get their brain around.
Certainly. I believe we can still make models of it, only we always need to remember none of such models is The Absolute Truth.
And let's better not start any revolutions ;)


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01 Dec 2022, 4:54 pm

In the US, "Third Way" is more of a centrist system. It refers to the Clinton-era Democrats, compared to the FDR-era party.



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02 Dec 2022, 2:17 am

Tim_Tex wrote:
In the US, "Third Way" is more of a centrist system. It refers to the Clinton-era Democrats, compared to the FDR-era party.

Neither had universal healthcare - which would render it not only non-centrist but practically non-considered in Europe.


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02 Dec 2022, 12:55 pm

magz wrote:
I was having in mind creative work - science, engineering, art. You can do lots of work without any value there or, with a spark of genius, something of great importance with relatively little work.

I guess those who had created a product with exceptional use-value would have to be content with the warm fuzzy feeling that they'd benefited society at a stroke, which I think is itself a great reward. For those who had wasted a lot of time and produced nothing, I suppose they could be paid for their time. I think most people in that situation would feel motivated to do better, and unless society was doing economically well enough as a whole, they couldn't normally be allowed to continue working ineffectively, so training or redeployment would be indicated. In the case of a worker who was seriously ill / disabled and could barely work at all, society would just have to pay them for nothing out of the gains made from the lucky geniuses. In today's economic system many people are furious when the Left tries to implement anything of the kind, because they've been taught that selfishness and leaving the less fortunate to the wolves is OK. Yet a loving family would run in much the way I've outlined, so I think we're back to the problem of scale.
Quote:
I moved to a bigger apartment not long ago. Homes are always useful, they're in demand - but they can be more or less comfortable, better or worse located, sometimes simply better or worse fitting needs of a particular person or family. These needs are not universal, i.e. we didn't mind fourth floor without an elevator but insisted on the place being quiet. Plenty of people would prefer it the other way (which was reflected by market values).
BTW, homes are an example of an area where the model of ideal market totally does not apply - because well-located space is a fundamentally limited resource, so competition won't ensure fair prices.

Yes. Strangely, I've never quite embraced the socialist idea of abolishing home ownership, but that might only be because we don't live in a well-run socialist society and I don't trust most landlords, whether they're individuals or part of the social housing sector. It was ironic that a lot of English "muesli-belt" socialists moved to Wales to pursue their dreams of forming hippiesque communes. They paid well over the going rate for their houses, pricing the locals out of the market.

ToughDiamond wrote:
Maybe the biggest problem is that the modern economy is too complicated for anybody to truly get their brain around.
Quote:
Certainly. I believe we can still make models of it, only we always need to remember none of such models is The Absolute Truth.
And let's better not start any revolutions ;)

Yes I think it's good not to completely stop trying to fathom it while accepting that we probably won't figure it all out.



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02 Dec 2022, 1:53 pm

ToughDiamond wrote:
magz wrote:
I was having in mind creative work - science, engineering, art. You can do lots of work without any value there or, with a spark of genius, something of great importance with relatively little work.

I guess those who had created a product with exceptional use-value would have to be content with the warm fuzzy feeling that they'd benefited society at a stroke, which I think is itself a great reward. For those who had wasted a lot of time and produced nothing, I suppose they could be paid for their time. I think most people in that situation would feel motivated to do better, and unless society was doing economically well enough as a whole, they couldn't normally be allowed to continue working ineffectively, so training or redeployment would be indicated. In the case of a worker who was seriously ill / disabled and could barely work at all, society would just have to pay them for nothing out of the gains made from the lucky geniuses. In today's economic system many people are furious when the Left tries to implement anything of the kind, because they've been taught that selfishness and leaving the less fortunate to the wolves is OK. Yet a loving family would run in much the way I've outlined, so I think we're back to the problem of scale.
Well, Wikipedia works largely for "that warm feeling"... and it does work. And it is true that when my husband changed his workplace from one where all he created was super confidential and ended up somewhere deep in the archives to one where he could publish his work under his own name in open source - they payed the same but the satisfaction was uncomparable.
And why do I moderate WP? ;)
So, you know, there are non-financial incentives to work and even do one's best, like fame or feeling of being useful. But they need well-established, non-anonymous communities... and one's basic needs have to be already met.

Quote:
Yes. Strangely, I've never quite embraced the socialist idea of abolishing home ownership, but that might only be because we don't live in a well-run socialist society and I don't trust most landlords, whether they're individuals or part of the social housing sector. It was ironic that a lot of English "muesli-belt" socialists moved to Wales to pursue their dreams of forming hippiesque communes. They paid well over the going rate for their houses, pricing the locals out of the market.
Here, in a mixed economy and post-socialist society, the standard in urban settings are co-ops. People try to legally own their apartments whenever they can afford it.
Even without it, eviction is super hard (even if the tenant destroyed everything and paid nothing!) which is a double-edged sword: it protects tenants from homelessness but it shrinks the market for apartments to let and the price must account for the risk. Once you prove you're a non-problematic tenant, you may be offered a discount price to stay (that happened to my friend). But I think, a side effect is, landlording for money is highly discouraged in general.


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02 Dec 2022, 2:56 pm

I’m a small-state liberal.

I was going to post about how I would try to implement communism with the benefit of knowledge of the last 150 years, but then I realised I’d just be re-inventing social democracy.

Almost any ideology that isn’t anarchist can be described as “social democracy”, of course. I am specifically referring to one that supports higher taxes, higher public spending, and greater wealth redistribution. In general, social democrats (as I am defining them) are sceptical of the free market and big business, but view them as necessary evils that government should seek to control.

The big failing of my approach as a small-state liberal is that my desire to let the market dictate success and failure basically assumes that people who have no money deserve to have nothing. I don’t actually think that’s true. I support some social programmes and I believe in the long run, a light-touch approach will result in a larger economy and fewer poor people. But still, the level of social support I think to be optimal results in increased suffering right now compared to a more left-wing approach.

I am very confident communism doesn’t work: it requires an oppressive state, or a small enough society where a black market is pointless, and in the long run the economy grows less than in a liberal society.

I am not confident that my approach is better than a slightly more left-wing approach. My positions are those which, on balance, I think are most likely to be correct, but I also know I am definitely wrong about some things (I just can’t say exactly what), and so there are lots of economic issues where someone slightly to my right or slightly to my left will be closer to the truth.

On economics, I am a pragmatist: I want policies that work to reduce poverty and increase prosperity. On social issues, my approach is more deontological: I support things because they align with my liberal “live and let live” principles, not because I think they’ll help achieve some other metric.

One key thing that separates Marxists from social democrats is that Marxists are deontological: they support their goals because they view their goals as inherently good. Social democrats on the other hand are more pragmatic: they support their goals because they want to achieve things like reducing poverty or reducing inequality or improving access to healthcare or whatever.

I think the communists are clearly wrong. Contrastingly I think social democrats are more wrong than I am, but acknowledge that I might be wrong about that.

If you’re committed to Marxism, saying “abolish private property” or “seize the means of production” or “revolution” isn’t going to convince anyone who isn’t already a Marxist. Saying “we should strengthen the welfare state”… you know what? You might be right! That’s a goal that is achievable, that will be met with reasoned disagreement rather than the full force of the state, and that will attract broad support.



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03 Dec 2022, 12:22 pm

magz wrote:
Well, Wikipedia works largely for "that warm feeling"... and it does work. And it is true that when my husband changed his workplace from one where all he created was super confidential and ended up somewhere deep in the archives to one where he could publish his work under his own name in open source - they payed the same but the satisfaction was uncomparable.
And why do I moderate WP? ;)
So, you know, there are non-financial incentives to work and even do one's best, like fame or feeling of being useful. But they need well-established, non-anonymous communities... and one's basic needs have to be already met.

Yes I think digging holes and filling them in again would be a depressing job for most people. Most of us enjoy sharing the fruits of our talents. I've often thought I'd like to set up a co-operators' homeland and tell those who prefer to pursue untold riches and drive each other into the dirt to go and do it somewhere else. Not practically feasible in the real world, but it's a glorious vision.

Quote:
Here, in a mixed economy and post-socialist society, the standard in urban settings are co-ops. People try to legally own their apartments whenever they can afford it.
Even without it, eviction is super hard (even if the tenant destroyed everything and paid nothing!) which is a double-edged sword: it protects tenants from homelessness but it shrinks the market for apartments to let and the price must account for the risk. Once you prove you're a non-problematic tenant, you may be offered a discount price to stay (that happened to my friend). But I think, a side effect is, landlording for money is highly discouraged in general.

In Arkansas (rural and therefore right-wing), tenants have astonishingly few legal rights. My daughter-in-law lived in a barely-habitable hovel and had to pay an extortionate rent. Her landlord doggedly ignored a pipe leak which ran up a big water bill, and then insisted the tenant paid it. Meanwhile, our landlord charges a remarkably low rent (which hasn't been increased in the several years we've been here) and tries hard to maintain the house. She cleans the roof gutters herself, and when the refrigerator died she sent us a mini-fridge to keep us going while she got us a proper new one a couple of days later. I'm pretty sure she's an aberration.



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07 Dec 2022, 7:17 am

I don't think we can entirely give up market economy.
Subsistence economy does not work with advanced technologies, gift/potluck economies become too complex to handle in large societes. Market economy simplifies the rules of exchange of goods, so it can go in large quantities.
A problem of scale again.

That having been said, it's not necessary to leave everything to market economy nor to build ideologies around it. Scale again - we're reaching the scale where limited capacity of the planet starts to become visible. No vast emptiness to conquer anymore. We need to develop a system where limited resources are sustainably shared, while unlimited and nearly-unlimited resources can circulate.


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07 Dec 2022, 7:59 am

When I think back on Marxism-Leninism, I prefer to consider the way those governments put M-L into practice rather than Marx's theories. And to be fair, they did make a sincere attempt in many cases, such as ensuring the availability of crèches for working women.


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08 Dec 2022, 2:03 am

 

Image

If the workers do not control (or own) the means of production, then the system is probably Capitalism.


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08 Dec 2022, 10:41 am

^
I like that. Based on Marx but easily understood.