Doughnut economics

James Shaw has pointed out:  Worth reading: A new book by paints a clear picture of what a sustainable economy could look like.

The book is discussed in Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut

In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Kate Raworth of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute reminds us that economic growth was not, at first, intended to signify wellbeing. Simon Kuznets, who standardised the measurement of growth, warned: “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.” Economic growth, he pointed out, measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution.

Raworth points out that economics in the 20th century “lost the desire to articulate its goals”. It aspired to be a science of human behaviour: a science based on a deeply flawed portrait of humanity. The dominant model – “rational economic man”, self-interested, isolated, calculating – says more about the nature of economists than it does about other humans. The loss of an explicit objective allowed the discipline to be captured by a proxy goal: endless growth.

The aim of economic activity, she argues, should be “meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet”. Instead of economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, we need economies that “make us thrive, whether or not they grow”. This means changing our picture of what the economy is and how it works.

The central image in mainstream economics is the circular flow diagram. It depicts a closed flow of income cycling between households, businesses, banks, government and trade, operating in a social and ecological vacuum. Energy, materials, the natural world, human society, power, the wealth we hold in common … all are missing from the model. The unpaid work of carers – principally women – is ignored, though no economy could function without them. Like rational economic man, this representation of economic activity bears little relationship to reality.

So Raworth begins by redrawing the economy. She embeds it in the Earth’s systems and in society, showing how it depends on the flow of materials and energy, and reminding us that we are more than just workers, consumers and owners of capital.

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The embedded economy ‘reminds us that we are more than just workers and consumers’. Source: Kate Raworth and Marcia Mihotich

This recognition of inconvenient realities then leads to her breakthrough: a graphic representation of the world we want to create. Like all the best ideas, her doughnut model seems so simple and obvious that you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself. But achieving this clarity and concision requires years of thought: a great decluttering of the myths and misrepresentations in which we have been schooled.

The diagram consists of two rings. The inner ring of the doughnut represents a sufficiency of the resources we need to lead a good life: food, clean water, housing, sanitation, energy, education, healthcare, democracy. Anyone living within that ring, in the hole in the middle of the doughnut, is in a state of deprivation. The outer ring of the doughnut consists of the Earth’s environmental limits, beyond which we inflict dangerous levels of climate change, ozone depletion, water pollution, loss of species and other assaults on the living world.

The area between the two rings – the doughnut itself – is the “ecologically safe and socially just space” in which humanity should strive to live. The purpose of economics should be to help us enter that space and stay there.

As well as describing a better world, this model allows us to see, in immediate and comprehensible terms, the state in which we now find ourselves. At the moment we transgress both lines. Billions of people still live in the hole in the middle. We have breached the outer boundary in several places.

Academics should be exploring ideas that may help improve our economic systems.

The current and past economic models over the last few hundred years have improved the quality of life for a huge number of people in many parts of the world.

But there are still many people who have benefited little if at all.

It would be silly – and impractical if not impossible – to discard the various economic systems we currently have and try some huge experiment with the only certainty being that it would be far from perfect.

But we should be looking for ways to make current economics work better for more people.

This relates to New Zealand too. Much is said by some people about the ‘neo-liberal’ changes we experienced starting in the 1980s, and some want to though that away and go back to how things were. That’s as fanciful as it is impossible.

We have to look for ways to improve what we have evolved to now.

That will require co-operation (and ideas) from the rich as much as it needs to be demanded by the poor.

Doughnut Economics is listed as available in New Zealand at the University Bookshop

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124 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 14, 2017

    Maybe after looking at the model some environmental religionists will realize it is impossible to deplete the planet of resources, it is only possible to waste them foolishly.

    Reply
    • Meanwhile, back on planet earth ….. read some history and ecology Alan. Underpinning planetary and social systems are not sets of ‘resources’, they are defined by functions. And you can destroy functions easily. Actually, while you’re at it, research complex adaptive systems, emergent properties, feedbacks and thresholds. Grand Banks cod, Ecuadorian pilchard collapse, all the ecological, social & economic system collapses of the past. Seriously, you sound like the neoliberal acolytes I used to deal with in the 1990s. Has your economics managed to connect with the planet yet?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 14, 2017

        I seem to have strolled past your tipping point, cjkp. After that blurt has emptied your barrel, what on earth are you actually trying to say? Yes, the planet is a complex system with myriad forms of life and other kinds of resources and players on it. So what?

        Reply
        • So you can kill it by looking through a market and resources framing. Is this less difficult to grasp?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  April 14, 2017

            Rubbish. The world has operated on a market and resources framing for millenia without killing it.

            Reply
            • Haha. Even history you define through that lens. You really have no idea. I don’t have time to remove your shackles. Bye

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              You don’t have the intellectual capacity to carry on a meaningful discussion. You have only Lefty talking points and pet phrases.

    • Zedd

       /  April 14, 2017

      again.. with the ‘denials’ Alan ! 😦

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 14, 2017

        Simple fact, Zedd. Energy comes in and goes out. The rest stays here.

        Reply
        • Zedd

           /  April 14, 2017

          Heres another fact, for you Alan; what goes in one end, smelling & tasting good (after ‘the goodies’ are removed) falls out the other smelling bad.. its called CRAP !

          maybe something to ponder.. about the way some people treat the planet & everything on it.. like a pile of resources to be turned it….. 😦

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  April 14, 2017

            Have you ever seen how well the grass grows again in crap, Zedd? It’s all just an energy cycle.

            Reply
            • Zedd

               /  April 14, 2017

              Touche Alan.. 🙂

              BUT if your trying to grow anything, on a chemical waste dump.. Im not sure it would grow quite as well ? Its called ‘Sustainability’ sir !

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              Sustainability is a load of crap. No-one knows what will be sustainable as knowledge, needs and conditions change.

            • Gezza

               /  April 14, 2017

              The evidence is abundant that no matter what happens short of a nearby supernova earth will carry on producing a plethora of life until some time before the sun absorbs it in its red giant phase. I consider it well possible that some point may well see the entire planet populated by intelligent life. My regret is that it appears I will not be around to see it.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 14, 2017

    As opposed to voodoo economics advocated by the Left, here is a simple exposition of how State interference with prices leads to violence rather than a win-win solution:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/economics-101-price-controls-lead-to-force/article/2620152

    Reply
    • David

       /  April 14, 2017

      A market price is a free-will exchange. Price controls, by definition, are the use of force to change this.

      Reply
      • Yeah, free will, willing-buyer-willing seller crap – the illiterate but brilliant bulldozer driver on one side of the table, with seven corporate lawyers on the other. Totally equal in power. If you have your head in a model and not in the real world. Jesus, you guys are so incredibly unsophisticated in your thinking about life. Read some Adam Smith on not allowing merchants to influence policy – they’ll rort if they can, they’re selfish like no other group. It isn’t just states that distort your precious and metaphysically bankrupt ‘free market’ ideal. Power differentials do. I’d have far more respect for neoliberal “thought” if there was at least an acknowledgement that we are no where close to Smith’s powerless, relatively well informed village, and you advocated policies that actually tried to balance power and create the institutions advocated by Elinor Ostrom.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 14, 2017

          I’d have more respect for Lefty “thought” if it was promoted by people who actually did stuff. Yes, governments are subject to corruption and rorts – usually via interfering in the free markets.

          Reply
          • Zedd

             /  April 14, 2017

            I do ‘stuff’.. Alan 😀

            pls explain !

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              No, I’ve got to go and do stuff, Zedd. Guests are in next door and coming to the cabins tomorrow. Got to finish getting it ready.

        • David

           /  April 14, 2017

          Off down the neo-liberal rabbit hole at warp speed I see. I’m sure you read Elinor Ostrom enough to know even she admitted her theories only worked on a small scale and a society above a certain size need property ownership. Good luck applying on a global scale.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  April 14, 2017

            whereas Ayn Rand who …I understand died on ..welfare is a POSTER CHILD OF THE LAISSEZ FAIRE ..SET…!caps=sorry.

            Reply
            • David

               /  April 14, 2017

              What does that have to do with either market pricing or Ostrom’s theories?

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  April 14, 2017

            • Blazer

               /  April 14, 2017

              @David,if you can’t work that out….excuse yourself from discussion….don’t let the door hit you on the way out.AC clearly is very familiar with ..Rand.

          • Jeez, you guys really specialise in the supercilious don’t you. Institutions matter – like trust, participation, a sense of belonging, energy, confidence, hope, a sense of equity & opportunity, a meaningful life – but you can’t put qualitative soft systems stuff in your asinine quantitative models so you shut out all alternative thought (you’re a “lefty” – not too dissimilar to your opposite economic fundamentalist State Communists referring to any questioner as a “capitalist roader”) and put on wisdom airs. Which is hilarious given your lack of wider social and planetary understanding.

            Btw, re Ostrom, yes, you have to have a community. Communities have a local scale condition. And 2 billion live in managed commons structures today, and some of them are 2000 years old. Yes, that’s right, Hardin is a complete crock unless you have a completely free for all – which isn’t a ‘common’, it’s a free-for-all. Buts that’s another argument. I really am not interested in a pointless dialogue with a religious fundamentalist. Say hi to My Lord Market next time you’re at the altar. Read a novel or a poem. Take a humanities subject. Go work in a small community and see how people *really* act and think about others.

            Reply
            • David

               /  April 14, 2017

              This reads more like a cry for help than a response to anything written here.

            • Haha, what I just wrote. Nice one David. Obviously I need therapy. I’m questioning your delusions.

        • David

           /  April 14, 2017

          Just to add, Ostrom put that limit at a ‘few thousand’.

          Reply
      • @ David – “A market price is a free-will exchange” but, unfortunately, only in theoretical anarcho-capitalist UtopiaLand which, strangely enough, we find has never existed in the real world …

        I’d like to see the rationale behind “a society above a certain size need property ownership”? [and I suppose I’ll look it up since neither you or cjkp have cited anything …]

        “Ostrom put that limit at a ‘few thousand’” …

        Why a few thousand? We’re surely talking about a nation’s or perhaps even the world’s people deciding democratically on a governance system? That means agreeing to it … Many millions and perhaps billions of users of flush toilets throughout the world have (to my knowledge) agreed on the Universal S Bend …

        Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  April 14, 2017

    well that was the most one sided contest I’ve seen for a while newcomer.cjkperley absolutely…blended yournz stalwart….Al.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  April 14, 2017

      Seemed like the usual attack-the-man and say the argument is too stupid to counter stuff that people of a certain persuasion seem to resort to actually.
      Griff is the same on climate discussion.
      It is frustrating as it destroys what should be a good contest of ideas.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 14, 2017

        Disagree ,Al makes generalisations,peddles cliches like ‘loony left’…and when challenged….cuts and…runs.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 14, 2017

          Actually your new hero cut and ran first. But then being wrong about everything is your forte.

          Reply
    • David

       /  April 14, 2017

      I think blazer just found a friend.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 14, 2017

        quite a few ..today…David.Even with Goliath on your side,eventually…..the people will wake up and..react.

        Reply
        • David

           /  April 14, 2017

          Goliath was the underdog, David had superior weapons technology. The resilience of the capitalist system should tell you something.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  April 14, 2017

            in your world of selective…’truth’ ..anything is..possible.

            Reply
  4. Two topics on here more-or-less capture the extremes of present-day ‘economic’ thought. Kate’s ‘Doughnut Economics’, vis …

    “The aim of economic activity, she argues, should be “meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet”. Instead of economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, we need economies that “make us thrive, whether or not they grow”. This means changing our picture of what the economy is and how it works.”

    Or the alternative, which is “‘Ingredients for Life’ on Saturn Moon” … Continue as we are and the survivors eventually bugger-off to another planet …

    It’s interesting to note that if they did bugger-off and set up a ‘colony’ on a Saturn Moon, whoever the survivors [or ‘explorers’] were would have to operate and cooperate VERY MUCH within a doughnut model …

    Ultimately life is not about ‘economics’, its about Life. ‘Market Society’ (as distinct but not separate from Market Economy) is another well spun fallacy, greatly exaggerated and promulgated by neoliberalism, partly for dubious ends …

    “The fundamental problem of … our life is to establish the right relation between the individual and the community as a whole, the individual groups, and the organisation as a whole … An all-embracing organisation must be created, but one which will leave the fullest play for that which is special and individual” (Frank E Warner, ‘Future of Man’, 1944)

    While I absolutely DO NOT want to “go back to how it was” …. This, “We have to look for ways to improve what we have evolved to now” is just another neoliberal mindset fallacy … I’d go further and call it a *CROC* of BS … like saying, “We can only improve things by building better neoliberalism” …

    By this same dictum, post-1935 Social Security (irrationally labelled ‘socialism’) must have been an improvement on what we had evolved to up until then, its predecessor being “laissez faire” capitalism which brought the world’s ‘Market Economy’ to its knees …

    So NO … Its absolutely obvious, major systemic changes COULD be made given the will of the people …

    Reply
    • David

       /  April 14, 2017

      “Its absolutely obvious, major systemic changes COULD be made given the will of the people …”

      Of course they can, Stalin and Mao had a crack at it last century. Those who were not willing got dealt with.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 14, 2017

        so you acknowledge that what Parti said and how you attempt to twist it are 2 separate…themes.

        Reply
      • A futile argument anyhow … Stalin and Mao weren’t “elected” … which is strongly implied by my “will of the people” … Although a minority government elected by a slim majority doesn’t represent the will of ‘the people’ either …

        Closer to home, and infinitely more pertinent, Roger Douglas didn’t have “the will of the people” … He and his cronies tricked the people after being elected instead …

        Reply
        • David

           /  April 14, 2017

          “A futile argument anyhow … Stalin and Mao weren’t “elected” … which is strongly implied by my “will of the people””

          You expect your economic revolutionaries to be elected? Well, that would be a first.

          “Roger Douglas didn’t have “the will of the people” … He and his cronies tricked the people after being elected instead …”

          Douglas got re-elected didn’t he? And I also notice that no political party has got into power promising to change his revolution either.

          Reply
          • @ David – “You expect your economic revolutionaries to be elected? Well, that would be a first.”

            Correct … the prime example being Roger Douglas …

            There’s been plenty of amelioration of “his revolution” though – hardly an original or ‘Kiwi’ one – and thankfully it was prevented from running its full course …

            “The divisions within the government came to a head in 1988. Lange felt that New Zealand had experienced enough change … [plus] the effects of the 1987 stockmarket crash and … economic recession. Douglas … put forward a proposal for a flat tax. Lange … held a press conference … Douglas released a letter and press statement stating a lack of confidence in Lange, and Lange treated it as a resignation.

            The next year saw even greater fracturing. After being defeated in his bid for party presidency, Jim Anderton quit the party to form NewLabour, which stood for Labour’s traditional values. Douglas was re-elected to Cabinet, leading to Lange’s resignation. He was replaced with Geoffrey Palmer, a Lange supporter and constitutional lawyer … shortly before the 1990 election he was replaced by Mike Moore.

            The Labour Party took several years to recover from the damage of these years and to regain the trust of their former supporters [They’ve never regained mine]. In the 1990 election, Labour lost many votes to NewLabour, the Greens, and in 1993 to the Alliance Party …

            Douglas did not stand at the 1990 election, and several of his supporters were defeated. He went on to form the ACT Party – [about as Right-Wing as you can get and remain ‘mainstream’ though very minority] – which aimed to continue his reforms. He was later joined by Richard Prebble, who became leader.” – Wiki

            So how has ACT gone for yous Righties …?

            Reply
      • And while I strongly disavow violent revolution, I needn’t be afraid of mentioning it in relation to capitalism, need I …?

        After all … Heck and Jumpin’ Jehosaphat … the greatest capitalist nation on earth, the good Ole United States of America, was born of violent revolution … colonist against coloniser …

        Reply
    • Corky

       /  April 14, 2017

      This is an old debate between Rightwingers and Libertarians. ‘ How many chooks can you keep putting in the pot.’ Pity socialists didn’t realise there was an argument to be had.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 14, 2017

      We’ve done the “economies don’t need to grow” thing. It was called the Dark Ages. Then we had the Renaissance and haven’t looked back.

      Reply
      • Anonymous Coward

         /  April 14, 2017

        So the dark ages was an economic thing? Right oh.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  April 14, 2017

          All ‘ages’ were an economic thing, when the discussion is economics.
          They are a number of other things as well of course, but that is irrelevant to this post.

          Reply
      • We’re having an intelligent conversation here Alan … do you mind …?

        “As the accomplishments of the era became better understood in the 19th and 20th centuries, scholars began restricting the “Dark Ages” appellation to the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century). Many modern scholars avoid the term altogether due to its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate.” – Wiki

        To paraphrase you, I could just as usefully say, “We’ve done the ‘societies don’t need an economy’ thing … instead using Church Terrorism & Feudal Warlord Tyranny – tithing and … more tithing – called the Dark Ages … Then we had the Renaissance and haven’t looked forward much, mainly only sideways …

        What have we got now … Secular State-Church influence, manipulation and pressure ‘ultimatum’, plus Feudal War-and-Finance Law’d tyranny … ?

        Of course, one day people will talk of the 2nd and 3rd Renaissances … and people will say, “We’ve done the “economies MUST grow” thing. It was called the Black FIIRE Ages. Then we had the Ethics Renaissance and haven’t looked back” …

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 14, 2017

          I read the Wiki article in the hope of finding some factual refutation of the economic and intellectual stagnation of the Dark Ages and found absolutely nothing. So I went searching and found they built some nice buildings, lucked a warm climate, used ploughs and the Muslims invented algebra. I’m presuming there are some ideological reasons for regarding that as a satisfactory progress for a thousand years.

          Reply
          • … the same “ideological reasons” perhaps for regarding slavery, colonisation – including multiple genocides – plus innumerable civil and two global wars – including the only atomic bombs used in combat – as satisfactory ‘Western’ progress in the last 500 years Alan …?

            Again, one day people might say of the Dark Ages folk, or perhaps folk of an age yet to come, “They lived healthy, fulfilled and peaceful lives without much happening for 500 years … That’s an amazing accomplishment!”

            Reply
      • Please define “grow”. In meaning, happiness, fulfilment, resilience to surprise, diversity, self-organisation? Oh, you mean in ‘resource’ use and money circulation?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 14, 2017

          Growth in knowledge, skill, health and well-being. Generally driven by social and economic freedom along with protection of individual’s life, liberty and property.

          Reply
          • I like knowledge, well-being etc. Also agree with ideas of freedom as vital. A pity that neoliberal priests in Treasury set up the public service, research, hospitals, schools etc in the image of their favourite authoritarian corporate state (do as I say, tick your box, and don’t discuss anything or we’ll call you a ‘lefty’). Oh, and let’s centralise decisions where they might conflict with the commercial imperatives of our corporations. Can’t have people declaring a local interest in GM Free or clean rivers, or even all those boards of this and that they used to elect locally. Neoliberalism is very clearly associated with the rise in bureaucracy, hierarchy, autocracy, the rise of sociopaths or arse lickers into senior management, task-orientated Eichmann-like obedience, the stifling of dissent and a superb environment for PR businesses and spin. Welcome to the Borg Collective. Work will make you free. Real freedom and all those important social values are at complete odds with Neoliberalism. The only freedom you have improved is the freedom of the powerful to exploit the less powerful and the non-represented. Hear hear.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              None of those things are the result of neo-liberalism but quite the converse, they are the result of over-regulation, socialism and authoritarianism.

            • Crap. Yes, that’s your line, but just bother to go and have a look and go and ask some people who work in these institutions who are not afraid to tell you what really happened. Elizabeth I set up the public service ethos by asking her Privy Council for free & frank advice without fear or favour – then the State Sector Act 1988 – filled with neoliberal nonsense – set up the public service as a corporate structure with the new ‘CEOs’ ‘accountable’ to the minister (like a board chair) with a risk pay etc. Independence destroyed. You killed free, frank and introduced fear and favour. Treasury idiots with no understanding of the real world held the sword of Damocles over the heads of departments. And that spread to Crown Research Institutes etc. Now far less thoughtful and dominated by managerialism. Completely batty neoliberalism did that because they see the world as an atomised machine with tasks in a hierarchy. They don’t understand culture or ethos because they can’t put a number on it for their autistic models. So they destroy it. They told us we don’t have an ethos, not because they had any shred of empirical evidence, but because we are all selfish based on their ludicrous assumptions. Ask a worker now how free he feels relative to those of the past. Arbeit Macht Frei. You stifle thought just as much as your State Communist alter egos. Neoliberalism kills democracy (people’s desires as manifested by democracy might involve a govt ‘distorting’ the market – we can’t have that. Though corporate ‘distortions’ are fine because their power doesn’t exist in our models), and then tends to totalitarianism. You can see it now with the rise in corporatocratic oligarchies – who find Neoliberal non-thought – which favours mega-corporate power – which funds more neoliberal non-thought. All shrouded in empty rhetoric about freedom.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              Ok, so you are a bureaucrat. Yes, the bureaucracies used to run everything and now they don’t. That has had consequences not all good for them. I think the State Services Commission has performed poorly. Treasury long ago lost its neo-liberals and now is led by second rate apologists. But the past was no nirvana when bureaucracy held the country in an isolated time-warp.

            • Haha. You’re a classic. I worked operationally, in policy, in consultancy, in research, and in management. I’ve dagged sheep, and cut down trees, and worked in a factory and spend weeks on end in the bush plotting, and climbed effing mountains, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the truth or otherwise of what I am saying. Why are neoliberals such poor philosophers? I didn’t say the past was perfect. I said you lot with your mad delusions made it a hell of a lot worse, and that you are in no way a champion of freedom, quite the reverse. Defend any one of these delusions: equal powerlessness, rational economic man, asocial individuals, selfish utility maximisation, meritocracy, willing-buyer-willing-seller equity in a state of equal powerlessness, the reduction of a complex ecosystem to measured ‘resources’, the reduction of a complex society and culture to individual ‘resources’, perfect information, the government as a ‘distortion’ but not corporate power outside monopolistic setups, equilibrium. Seriously, the structure of your world view is an empty vessel without the vessel. Neoliberalism is philosophically indefensible. I won’t even go into the assumptions of mechanical determinism – the world as a reducible machine. By all means, call me a ‘lefty’. I’m actually quite used to neoliberals when faced with logic running to the discussion= dissent = unhinged response.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              You obfuscate. Your specific complaints were about the bureaucracy and CRIs.

              The rest is just a rant.

            • David

               /  April 15, 2017

              “I’m actually quite used to neoliberals when faced with logic running to the discussion= dissent = unhinged response.”

              There isn’t any logic or discussion in your posts. You simply post the same stream of dribble every time, regardless of what you are replying to.

              Well, some ‘neo-liberals’ gave you the ass in 84 and you have not got over it, well, it’s more than three decades ago and it looks like you’ve been on this treadmill ever since. How’s that working out for you?

            • A final word to you two zealots. I’ve pointed out your assumptions. They are a nonsense. I’ve pointed out the corollaries of allowing the worst to be unleashed upon the world. You call them rants because I disagree. The reason I even bothered was because both of your came across as insufferably arrogant and referred to ‘lefties’ before anyone else had commented. So familiar. You agree with neoliberalism or you are a wacko. Of all the disciplines I am constantly struck by the black and white framing of neoliberalism. Questioning assumptions and looking empirically at the world is something that comes from outside your discipline – so different than other disciplines that self critique and are at least a little fallibility.

              Neoliberalism is a religion with a catechism that can’t be questioned. Axioms that are delusions. Consequences that have so much harm. Justified by reference back to your axioms. You treat people and the planet as mere things, and that is where evil begins.

              I don’t expect to convert you. But I can tell you this. Your nonsense will soon be laughed at the way we laugh at ‘trickle down’ and State communism.

              The trouble is you cannot see humanity in all its complexity – or the planet – through anything other than your selfish framing. So dialogue that challenges is obviously sourced from a person motivated by self interest whose challenge represents a flaw in that person. I don’t expect you to see this, but that attitude is pervasive in your responses.

              Enjoy your lives. I’ll do my best to make sure Neoliberalism and your megacorporate sponsors are completely removed from our policy making framework before you destroy the world. That’s not hyperbole. Your beliefs and the concentration of the most vicious, short sighted and narrow power will destroy humanity on this planet.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 15, 2017

              Having waded my way through your very lengthy pieces it seems that your main argument against Neoliberalism is that it has been bastardised by bureaucracy and over regulation.

              The problem with neoliberalism is it means a number of different things to different people and can be attacked or defended at complete cross purposes which achieves nothing.

              Personal responsibility can be defined in a number of ways, as can the issues of costs of production and property rights.

              There is no “correct” definition that can define such things, and regulations are brought in to place arbitrary definitions from which we work from.

              There is always a line where personal rights impact on others, where the line is drawn on production costs – water rights and pollution charges are good examples – and where personal property rights can impact on the collective.

              None of this devalues the neoliberalist philosophy – it just means that as knowledge increases the frameworks in which we operate can be adjusted to ensure equity and equality in opportunity.

              Producers can be charged the “true” cost of production taking into account environmental mitigation and downstream effects.

              Talking of ‘delusions’, ‘arrogance’ and ‘black and white framing’ is untrue and unhelpful.

              The beauty of the neoliberal framework is its flexibility and the ability of the markets to adjust and meet new challenges. This is the great advantage it has over other systems.

              Are there people who rort the system – of course. Do unethical businesses exist? Absolutely.

              This is however, true of any system.

              For all it’s issues standards of living across the world are better than they have ever been and even the poorest are better of by historical standards.

              You can argue inequality and wealth gaps all you like, but the fact remains in objective terms people’s lives are better now than they were before the 1980’s.

            • No. Its assumptions are baseless. And its consequences are horrific. As to being a better world now ….

            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 15, 2017

              The overriding ethos of letting people take responsibility for their own lives and to reap what they sow is hardly meaningless.
              You may harken back to the good old days of communal living but this does not make differing viewpoints baseless.
              You are big on sweeping dismissals and personal attacks while decrying the same in others.
              Perhaps the scales are on your eyes and you refuse to see the good that has come from globalisation and free trade?

            • I wrote a list of neoliberal axioms somewhere above, and asked for support. No one has yet responded.

              I am not against trade, nor personal responsibility. I am against the continued accumulation of power and greed especially where it destroys both the essential functions of community and environment and is ruled by vice. You are playing the straw man by suggesting that being against neoliberalism is tantamount to being for communism or some other black:White dualism.

              As to personal attacks, I am very clear that an attack on the neoliberal faith is not a personal attack. If I have attacked you personally, I am sorry.

              I do g know if you’ve ever read Thomas Kuhn, but this is pointless. I continually see a response to critique as a personal attack and evidence of some matching but opposite extremism. We all live within a value-laden world. I will say in my defence that I once thought the simplicity of neoliberal thought was good, and then all the consequences, and the zealotry, and the nonsense assumptions made any continued support indefensible. So who has the scales on their eyes?

              This has just confirmed by experience dialogue between with neoliberal extremes. They put YOU in a box rather than question their own metaphysics.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              rant verb [ I ] UK ​ /rænt/ US ​ /rænt/

              to speak or shout in a loud, uncontrolled, or angry way, often saying confused or silly things

              I called them rants because that is what they were. I haven’t said anything about you as a person. I will say that you appear afraid of dialogue and immediately resort to unilateral wild and sweeping assertions for which you can brook no questioning. It’s not a recipe for a rewarding life.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Just to correct your confused ideas about neo-liberalism, it is simply advocating for social and economic freedom commensurate with the obligation not to cause harm to others and a regime that defends personal life, liberty and property.

            • So your simple version of neoliberalism doesn’t include assumptions of powerlessness, rationality, asocial individuals, a planet of ‘resources’ etc? As to personal attacks, who was the one who started calling any dissenters to your faith ‘lefty’?

            • David

               /  April 15, 2017

              ” I’ll do my best to make sure Neoliberalism and your megacorporate sponsors are completely removed from our policy making framework before you destroy the world. That’s not hyperbole.”

              The wonderful thing about neoliberalism is that you can happily work for it’s overthrow, while enjoying all the fruits of it’s bounty, and it doesn’t march you off to a gulag somewhere cold.

            • Oh that’s right. If you’re against the nonsense of neoliberalism, then you’re against personal freedom (for the powerful to exploit the less powerful because you assume equal powerlessness and meritocracy) and you’re for totalitarianism probably of the communist persuasion.

              Are you actually listening to yourself? Neoliberalism begets the accumulation of power because it doesn’t recognise it. It begets totalitarianism in time. I’m dead against any authoritarianism, corporate or State. Both destroy communities, environment & personal freedom. The claims of neoliberalism that it is for freedom mean absolutely squat unless they recognise and constrain power and its abuse.

              I’m sorry if that was too ranty for you.

            • David

               /  April 15, 2017

              “As to personal attacks, who was the one who started calling any dissenters to your faith ‘lefty’?”

              You came into the thread with an aggressive manner, accusing those who’s posts you disagree with of ignorance; “Meanwhile, back on planet earth” was your opener. If someone threw a lefty comment back at your many posts later, it’s hardly a surprise given your zealotry.

              Your not here to discuss, your posts have been exactly the same blurb in every case, you simply throw up a neoliberal straw man and attack it.

            • Yeah, I think it’s important to stay on the planet. That was in response to some dismissive reference to lefty in response to s very reasonably initial post on an alternative complex systems approach to economics. Doughnut economics interested me. But alternatives are quickly condemned by neoliberalism with a derogatory epithet without deep thought.

              Typical, I thought. Sorry, tried to nail down the assumptions I relate to neoliberalism; asocial powerlessness etc so we could get well beyond straw men, but no one is responding. I tried.

              Look, religions cannot be changed by dialogue. It’s pointless. And fundamentalists will always see s secular critique as the infidel. So most of the response relates to high church clerical arrogance.

              You haven’t defended any of your assumptions, and think the world is just spiffing as a consequence of neoliberalism & corporatism over the last 40 years. I thinks that’s complete bunkum. And I’m not a communist if that in anyway helps you put justified dissent in a box.

            • David

               /  April 15, 2017

              “I’m dead against any authoritarianism, corporate or State.”

              But here you are, telling us how we are all wrong and we should do as you tell us. Seems a bit on the authoritarian side to me.

            • No, I’m saying you represent authoritarianism. You can do what you like, but get your filthy hands off my country. (That’s paraphrasing a song lyric btw)

            • Not like the terrible days of Labourite and Muldoonist Kiwi ‘Socialism’, when dissenters were forcibly carted off to work camps and compulsory re-training centres …

              Nowadays, one of the reasons some [perhaps large numbers of] people seem disengaged from politics is that they fear for their corporatized public service and private enterprise jobs if they express anything except the prevailing orthodoxy …

              It’s such a pathetic ‘thin ice’ response … “Don’t come to the next sustainability conference unless you walk there in bare feet eating only wild grasses gathered from the side of the road along the way” …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Yes, the Muldoon years when protesters were beaten up by the Red Squad and my nephew was given the third degree by Customs for the crime of buying a transistor radio on a trip to Sydney.

              There are plenty of businesses on the sustainability gravy train, PZ. I doubt their executives walk along the road much.

            • David

               /  April 15, 2017

              “Nowadays, one of the reasons some [perhaps large numbers of] people seem disengaged from politics is that they fear for their corporatized public service and private enterprise jobs if they express anything except the prevailing orthodoxy …”

              Total bollocks.

              “It’s such a pathetic ‘thin ice’ response … “Don’t come to the next sustainability conference unless you walk there in bare feet eating only wild grasses gathered from the side of the road along the way” ”

              As apposed to arriving in a private jet with limos door to door?

            • It’s not bollocks David. I’ve seen it in the public sector, councils, corporates and CRIs. A dramatic change yo box ticking conformity since the early 90s. Where thinkers were once valued – like those who question the assumptions of industrialising life and neoliberalism – they either left or shut up to pay the mortgage and the box tickets and those with a megalomaniac propensity to invade Poland rose.

  5. Alloytoo

     /  April 14, 2017

    100 years after

    Reply
    • Alloytoo

       /  April 14, 2017

      So 100 years after the Russians decided to try and fail at command economics, crack pots continue to advocate variations of the sad failed theme. It’s even sadder that people advocate it as some sort of democratic imperative when the market economy is in and of itself a democratic expression.

      Many societies have recognized that unfettered market sometimes lead to undesirable socially outcomes. This has resulted in a demand for certain social outcomes, at the price of taxation, the mixed market economy which yields on average a far better quality of life.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 14, 2017

        ‘a better quality of life’…for…who?

        Reply
        • alloytoo

           /  April 15, 2017

          “on average” means the vast majority, and certainly beating the “average” of command economies.

          Reply
      • All economics is a variation of it … some amalgam and percentage mixture of (so-called) socialism and (so-called) capitalism … a “mixed market” … as you point out in your second paragraph.

        Surely the only democratic imperative is democracy itself … If enough people vote for something they can choose whatever they want …?

        So perhaps your “crack pots” are just phantasms after all …?

        Your implication that the slightest mention of pre-Rogered times denotes someone who wants a wholesale return to Muldoon’s [or Stalin’s] “socialism” lock-stock-and-barrel is a dead giveaway … It sets the bar for discussion very low …

        On this rudimentary (and indeed rude) level of ‘economics’ – which has been purposely mistaken for human organisation – we need only debate “social outcomes” and the level of taxation required to achieve them …

        An ethical debate … which I think is what Kate Raworth is discussing … and certainly what I am about … goes a whole lot deeper …

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 14, 2017

          Democracy offers only two choices, win or lose. Markets offer millions of choices – something for everyone.

          Reply
          • Clearly an argument exists for our votes being purchased then Alan, rather than merely being cast …?

            Oh …

            A democracy that offers only “win or lose” is a democracy in dire need of revision and improvement … defrag and reset …

            And markets can be just as tyrannical as people …. since what markets are is … people …

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              Sorry, PZ. You’ll never get me to believe I’ll benefit from having to get 51% of people to agree with me before I can do anything.

            • It’s your “win-or-lose”, no compromise, right-or-wrong, good-or-bad, Right-or-Lefty mentality Alan, not percentages, which pervades Westminster and ‘democracy’ as we know it …

              Along with some bizarre assumption that a) It cannot be improved upon, and b) It suits everyone else … e.g. indigenous peoples’ … because it suits you …

              IMHO, it in fact constitutes a permanent stain on human dignity and capability …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Of course it can be improved on, PZ, but only when a majority of people want it to. In the meantime we have to live with it, in it and around it.

            • If only that was the case Alan …

              The problem is that disengagement is another option, one increasingly exercised by an ever-growing portion of the electorate …

              How many disengage rather than try to change it? Do we have a democracy that functions increasingly due to voter ‘resignation’? … Or is increasingly ‘slanted’ by it?

              Regardless, the disengaged are ruled by those who do engage, which, as our local body elections show, can be a small minority … 22% [or less under FPP] could constitute a majority in our last local body elections, where voter turnout was 42%!

              So … first alternative option … Pro-active Democracy … get out and ask people, especially the disengaged, like census-takers do …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Unfortunately it was Lange’s government taking its cuppa that amalgamated local government into unaccountable large entities and divorced them from their communities. I fought that and it was the antithesis of neo-liberalism.

            • I disagree. Local body amalgamation was [and IS] an essential ingredient of neoliberalism, the corporate model of governance, maximise productivity and efficiency … Estrangement from communities is simply a happy by-product of it … allowing them to do with impunity much more stuff to people who are more isolated from one another …

              Neoliberalism isn’t anarcho-capitalism … It’s always included austere social welfare …

              Social welfare austerity is there for a purpose and, like everything else in neoliberalism it’s a purely financial purpose, to save someone higher up money as they exploit those lower down …

              And perhaps to appear to save ‘the public’ money? So the great fake edifice, the snake-oil salesman, neo-witchdoctor-economist’s misconception can be perpetuated …

              Lower taxes … Everything will be okay if we can just reduce taxes …

              Doesn’t seem to be working does it? Now we need “more police, more prisons” … more roads to satiate the road transport-tourism-and-holiday highway lobby … more intervention with ‘out of control’ behaviour in schools … more infrastructure to keep pace with housing demand …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              No, it was a ploy by Labour to enable it to take over local government by making it remote enough for party politics to succeed. And it has worked by putting most big urban areas into the political control of the Left. Areas like Far North were just collateral damage.

          • Gezza

             /  April 14, 2017

            Depends what kind of democracy Al. Sometimes it’s win some, lose some. Sometimes it’s a draw. Going for win-win’s always worth striving for.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 14, 2017

              How?

            • Gezza

               /  April 14, 2017

              Balance mainly. Social democracies that operate well enough to prevent one group having too much power over others & benefitting from that power to the detriment of others. It’s hard to get it right. When someone does, it doesn’t last. Seems to me that generally when one, usually small, group gets far too wealthy that’s when this starts to happen. Whether the wealth is acquired and then the power, or the power is acquired and then the wealth.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Democracy has a role at a meta level ensuring law and freedoms but not at the level PZ wants to mandate our lives.

            • Gezza

               /  April 15, 2017

              Just want to say that whoever it is that’s currently not liking you it’s not me Al. I still luv ya like wayward brother.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              No worries, G. You know I never downtick and I add downticks to my score anyway!

        • alloytoo

           /  April 15, 2017

          People “vote” with their dollars every day, an ongoing continuous democratic expression, Wealthy countries have more “votes” to spend and can afford more luxuries such as welfare, sound environmental practices and a variety of cultural expressions.

          Reply
          • alloytoo – “People “vote” with their dollars every day” …

            They do indeed alloytoo … They support the political party that best rewards them personally … they make donations to ‘think tanks’ which influence government policy to best reward them personally … they form associations which manipulate government policy to best reward them personally …

            “Wealthy countries have more “votes” to spend and can afford more luxuries” … and they’ve also ‘convinced’, mostly by force, all the poorer countries that they can do nothing without possessing similar ‘wealth’ … which of course is abject Bullshit …

            People in poorer countries could … and probably many do … go support those even poorer still and do whatever they do for “food, shelter, clothing and community” … and perhaps a minimal payment of some kind …

            Communal cooperation has gotta be at least a possibility if say our money system collapses, as opposed to people taking up arms and robbing and murdering their neighbours …

            Many people, for instance, have great admiration for the early days of the State of Israel, where people lived in Kibbutz and worked for the common ideal of ‘homeland’ …

            Course they were mostly White people … but still … you know …

            Reply
          • Just to be crystal clear – are any of you in support of one dollar one vote? Do you think that is democracy? If not democracy, do you think that one dollar-one vote represents a better system than democracy? Do you think having additional dollar votes is a manifestation of merit or perhaps ‘aristo’ (being ‘better’, wiser etc.)?

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  April 15, 2017

            Do you think having additional dollar votes is a manifestation of merit or perhaps ‘aristo’ (being ‘better’, wiser etc.)?

            Often but not always. Depends how the dollars were obtained along with other factors. You left out “hard working” I notice.

            We’ve heard a lot about what you dislike. Not much about what you like.

            Reply
            • We probably have a covert system presently which is something akin to one dollar-one vote, whereby dollars buy influence, spin-doctored media presence and public attention, and extreme wealth constitutes manipulative political power …

              There’s your neoliberal contradiction Right there, believe in one dollar-one vote yet talk constantly about one person-one vote … especially when anything like Treaty Settlements threatens to upset the established order of things … the one dollar-one vote apple cart …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Every dollar you spend is a vote for the seller and against hiser competitors. We are voting every day this way. The single vote every three years is a blunt and ineffectual instrument in comparison.

            • I postulate that most of the dollars many [and perhaps numerically MOST] people spend are spent based on two simple premises or imperatives, 1) Cheapest price … mainly from necessity, and 2) Convenience … mainly from convenience … and that these barely constitute decisions at all; certainly not ‘for-and-against competitor’ decisions …

              So we’re voting for cheapest and most ‘convenient’ … along with all their baggage … The great majority are constantly voting for and reinforcing the idea of lowest common denominator … whoopee!

              Your “dollar spend = voting” only looks like a refined instrument when you do the account books afterwards … only as a ‘numbers game’ … only after people have been reduced to the status of commodities … to units of production and consumption …

              Resist anything outside this paradigm … at any cost …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 15, 2017

              Nonsense, PZ. In choosing price and convenience you are rewarding the person who provided them for you. That is not the lowest common denominator it is the best service for you personally.

            • Oh, here’s a thing I like – Democracy. And here’s *another* besides myopia thing I don’t like – Oligarchies that form with one-dollar one vote. You are effectively saying that you support Oligarchies. You don’t call them that of course, you probably think that they are ‘hard working’.

              Thank you for being crystal clear that you tend to favour the rise of the few at the expense of the many. Freedom.

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2017

              “Nonsense, PZ. In choosing price and convenience you are rewarding the person who provided them for you. That is not the lowest common denominator it is the best service for you personally.”

              Well, if you don’t got much, it is the lowest common demoninator, of necessity, & while you are certainly rewarding the person who provided it for you, & if in doing so they actually cost you your job, then you start to wonder if price should always be the only consideration.

              Isn’t this where Trumpy has scored big hits with voters? By promising to increase the cost of overseas competitors products to provide jobs, even though that may mean higher prices for American-made?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 16, 2017

              @cjkp, so who are the small group of people in control of NZ? And since a lot of the stuff I buy is from small sellers on Trademe just how does that contribute?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 16, 2017

              @G, should you have a job if you are not efficient and giving customers the service they need at the best value for money?

              Yes, Trump was willing to trade more expensive goods for more jobs for Americans. His argument was that Chinese currency was undervalued artificially by its Government’s control. There’s truth in both sides of the debate and the best solution is that rising wages and affluence in China will rebalance the distribution of jobs between nations. But also within America there is a need to rebalance the distribution of jobs and wealth between the mega cities and the rest of the country. I suspect a good deal of that imbalance is a direct consequence of Government interventions.

            • The Chinese currency accusation is another u-turn by Trump.

              By David Lawder | WASHINGTON
              President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that his administration will not label China a currency manipulator, backing away from a campaign promise, even as he said the U.S. dollar was “getting too strong” and would eventually hurt the economy.

              http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-currency-idUSKBN17E2L8

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2017

              @ Al
              “I suspect a good deal of that imbalance is a direct consequence of Government interventions.”

              Correcting it looks like being done with government interventions too.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 16, 2017

              I don’t think it’s been analyzed properly yet, G, so I don’t see it being corrected yet either.

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2017

              That’s true. Wonder if the lumpenproletariat who voted for him will notice if it doesn’t.

            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2017

              “G, should you have a job if you are not efficient and giving customers the service they need at the best value for money?”

              I’d be quite happy with a sysytem that keeps more people in jobs & provides the broadest base of customers with good, efficient services at a reasonable price.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  April 16, 2017

            Well, yes, that’s having your cake and eating it, G. A judicious balance is called for – especially if your job involves an export market.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  April 16, 2017

              This is where doing good deals with the right people can be helpful, and doing bad deals with the wrong ones can be unhelpful. I believe Trumpy is of a similar mind … still … so far?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 16, 2017

              I would say its early days on that yet, G, but so far no bad signs and some good signs. I do think Trump’s strength is in pretty shrewd judgement of the people he hires and a willingness to listen to them. I detect him hiring both extremists in the disruptive policy stances he has advocated as well as serious critics of them and enjoying hearing them fight it out so he comes to an ultimate decision on how to act. I think this is commendable. He is not afraid to be disruptive but he likes to have it tested as well as it can be.

            • When Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office, he …brought with him a collection of advisers who, according to another senior administration official, not only have “breathtaking personal agendas” and are willing to “malign the people around him” but are also prepared to say, “We are going to do it our way and push through what we want whether it is right for him or not.” The two former presidents Trump is most often compared to are Reagan (for the unserious image that Reagan had as a B-list movie actor) and Richard Nixon (for his authoritarian tendencies, his paranoia, and his antipathy toward the press). But those presidents, this senior administration official explained, had “a real ideology and a real set of issues, and that doesn’t exist here.”

              Unlike previous presidents, Trump has also neglected to appoint a professional staff with a high-level governing or White House background. This is due in part to ignorance. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, in his first meeting with Barack Obama, Trump seemed surprised by the scope of the president’s duties, and his aides seemed unaware that there wasn’t a permanent West Wing staff that he would simply inherit.

              To get a sense of the current West Wing senior staff, I spoke with members of the administration, including some of those closest to the president, as well as with friends and former classmates of the senior team. Nearly all of them asked for anonymity in order to be able to speak freely. The West Wing right now is a place where the ground is always shifting. With the exception of two family members—Trump’s daughter Ivanka, an unpaid assistant to the president, and her husband, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president—no one on Trump’s topmost White House staff has been with the new president for very long. That presents a sharp contrast with the teams around Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Trump’s staff is as unbridled as the president himself. His advisers came together almost by accident and by default. They exhibit loyalty to their boss in front of the camera, only to whisper about him (and about their rivals, often in vicious terms) when the camera is gone.

              From http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/jared-kushner-steve-bannon-white-house-civil-war

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 16, 2017

              I read it. It’s gossip mag stuff and I would take all its comments with a pinch of salt until confirmed. Here’s another bit:

              s a senior official close to the president explained, “He could cure cancer tomorrow and these people would still hate him—including the editor of your magazine. Donald does that to people. He gets under their skin. People say: He’s unhinged. I think he’s unhinged everybody else. Take a step back. He is who he is and people want him to sit down and be a normal politician. Sit with a child and play catch. He’s not a politician and his range is what it is.”

  6. Sorry, typo laden. On cellphone.

    Reply

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