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writing for godot


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Saturday, 15 June 2019 02:54


The founders of modern economics chose the firm, not the household, as the basic unit of economic analysis

1. The implications of this choice weigh heavily in human society to this day. Much of the current economic thinking severely neglects the household and the community. The aggregation of household interests gives a reasonable approximation of the community and its collective interests. We need to return to the original conceptual roots of the word economics --oikos (from the Greek the family's property, and the house)-- by taking the household as its basic unit of analysis. (David Korten) This be done, the human rights (HR) of the household dwellers will come to the forefront --would’nt you agree?


The urge of expansion is the demon of capitalism (Lenin, 1917)


2. As per UNDP documentation older that 20 years now: There are five kinds of bad economic growth: jobless growth (the economy fails to expand job opportunities); ruthless growth (the rich get richer), voiceless growth (democracy and empowerment fail); rootless growth (cultural identity is oppressed); and futureless growth (the present generation squanders vital resources). I leave it up to you to choose from this relevant smorgasbord and use its important message.


The ‘free’ market peddled by the demon assumes voluntary exchanges occur, but is this true?

3. The free market does not exist, it is a utopia. The market is commanded by TNCs and rich nations that impose their rules either directly or through multilateral institutions --UN agencies included. (Angela Siqueira)


4. The only information the market offers is price. This does not incorporate the true resources inputs or human costs of production (or costs in HR!). Because the market omits such critical information, it deludes us. The market price cannot incorporate the price to be paid by current and later generations for whom that cannot be quantified. The market is blind to the costs to nature and to society. It assumes no costs from nature’s plundering. (Tikkun Vol 2 Nr 4)


Contemporary society is dominated by the unholy alliance of power, privilege and technology


-The worse is that power without abuse loses its allure. (Paul Valéry) …Wither human rights!

-It is hardly necessary to remind us that, in practice, the promiscuity between economic and political power comes from very far back in history.


5. Globalization and free trade have been touted as the saviors of all our problems. This is a blatant lie put forth by the rich and powerful who stand to benefit --and they own the media to put forth this message.* (Greg Brown) The framework of free trade is actually contradictory to the HR framework. Trade agreements are binding and thus enforced. Human rights treaties are often ignored and rely on voluntary compliance.

*: The rich are necessarily interested in maintaining the only order of things that can secure them the advantages of their possessions. Civil governments have as an objective securing property, i.e., defending the rich against the poor, or those that have some property against those that have none. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776).


6. How some become wealthy beyond imagination is simply mind-boggling. If some can become so endowed, it must be at the expense of those who live in poverty (think Oxfam exposees in Davos). Only so much wealth is produced each year. Its distribution and what causes that distribution must be of our primary concern, but is not. (David Brooks)


7. The increasing concentration of wealth thus needs to be understood not just as an incidental HR concern, but as an inherent injustice and the product of a web of regressive policies that systematically ignore governments’ economic and social rights obligations. This is no time to abandon the challenges this present to us!  (Ignacio Saiz)


And then there are the transnational corporations

8. When in a poor country there is a strong presence of TNCs, chances are 9:1 that income distribution is very skewed, that there is no commitment to redistribution and that HR are being violated more than elsewhere. Am I exaggerating here?


9. Multinational and local bourgoisies working in association (if not in collusion) produce durable consumer goods for the 40% of the population in the monetary economy (ignoring the other 60% --‘the marginals’). There is no interest in TNCs to adapt their technology to local needs. They undercut smaller entrepreneurs by getting all the bank credit, not needing therefore to bring-in capital. A disproportionate share of national income is then being returned to corporate stockholders and not to the wage earners.


Human rights is beyond money metrics


10. Access to the state as a source and means for the accumulation of private wealth has become an end of itself among the entrenched ruling classes. (Development in Practice)


11. Should a tax thus be imposed on speculative capital? No. Speculative Capital is not the problem. Speculators merely seek out opportunities for their unearned profits. It is governments that create the unearned profits. Speculators are like flies attracted to garbage. They do not create the garbage, they merely take advantage of it. You cannot clean up garbage by brushing the flies off it. (Roy Langston)


It will be a long time before the rich ever do the right thing

This is true, unless we make it very hot for them. And even then, it is still going to take new rules and laws. (Greg Gerrit) …and will especially take tons of claimholders mobilization


12. Also true is the fact that the effective redistribution of wealth --and increased work on HR-- will have to involve gaining the support of middle class household members.


13. Our inability to resolve the problems of globalization-going-haywire entails economic costs of much greater magnitude than staying the course. Ignoring the benefits forfeited through inaction is irresponsible or even criminal. (Joachim von Braun) So, what next…?


Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City

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Postscript Marginalia

-A society cannot be measured or assessed by the number of shopping centers it has.  (Marcelo Colusi)

-Want to be confused? In 2000, the World Bank called for the emergence of “cross-national networks of progressive people and organizations to fulfill a process of ‘globalization from below…” ?? (Voices of the Poor, WB, 2000) your social media marketing partner
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