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Market Growth is not the Solution

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by Horace R. Carby-Samuels

We need to take a few reflective pauses, as we go about our lives in the industrialized world. That will allow us to consider from whence came the outputs on which we draw. Take, for example, when we get up in the morning. It is unlikely that we will normally give a second thought to how many different skills, how many different people, how many different locations, or how many different materials were co-ordinated and brought together so as to enable us to acquire the clothes (if any) that we wore to sleep; the bed in which we slept; the linen on that bed; and the residence or the place of rest where we find ourselves. Indeed, the simplest appearing man-made feature in our close environment, is not simple at all. A reflective pause will lead us to see that each item arose out of the myriad integrated, interwoven, and co-ordinated direct and indirect endeavours of other persons.

The “Economic Recovery and Reinvestment” (ERR) initiatives of the U. S. Administration, under President Obama, is currently seeking to promote and to re-energise a corresponding background of integrated profitable production and trade relationships. However, it is not the level of trade, but it is what happens to people, which comprises the primary indication of economic success. Therefore, to judge success of the ERR program by what trade data show, may be somewhat misguided. What is shown by the data which reveal the forthcoming financial income and profit from production and trade operations, does not tell us about how the day to day lives of people, have been affected.

Indeed, governments that are unwilling to be guided by economic evidence, which show how the quality of the living experience of responsible participants in the evolution of the society have been affected, will merely cause the problems which led to the prevailing economic malaise, to re-emerge.

Meanwhile, in our modern industrialized world, division of labour is a critical feature in the production and delivery of the items that we use. Specialization in task assignment, in the skills that are used, and in the locations were production and product assembly take place, have contributed to reductions in the quoted price of the bulk of the respective outputs that are sold on the market. Growth in the market, has therefore caused the living that we each do to be accompanied by various networks of remote and unseen inter-personal involvement with others. Yet, it does not follow that the ERR Packages (of President Obama), which aim to revive prevailing patterns of commercial trade, represent the best way to service the interests of the people that make up the U. S. society. Mere market growth is not the needed solution.

If the ERR program of U. S. President Obama, does not intend to merely revive trade in an environment that promotes self-centredness, selfishness, and greed, some adjustments will become necessary. Specifically, if the President’s program does not intend to return full circle to the economic circumstances of today, its recovery targets will need to become more people-centred. The President (and the gallery of technocrats, officialdom, and bureaucrats that is helping him to draw up and to execute his ERR program), will need to draw on the guidance to a people-centred economic focus, that was first introduced by the English neo-classical economist Alfred Marshall (1890); Principles of Economics; numerous editions; Macmillan and Company Limited , numerous locations /St Martins Press, New York.

In addition, the U. S. President must also take steps to ensure that an exclusive money-centred (ideological) focus on what comprises economic performance, is not allowed to obscure the people-centred results that should form the outcomes which his administration should aim to deliver. The principle which leads to that ideological blockage on what happens to people, and instead to a concentration on monetary results, was initially identified and illuminated by John Lamb Lash (2006); Not in His Image; Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, Vermont.

Meanwhile, the economist Alfred Marshall, had pointed out that the monetary data which show the price of traded goods (in single, or in the aggregate market value of trade and exchange), do not provide a sufficient indication of economic performance. Furthermore, the President and cadre of technocrats and advisors, is invited to recognize that Marshall’s looking beyond prevailing market data, was not based on his awareness that monetary quantities should be adjusted for the price level changes that accompany inflation. Rather, the neoclassical economist Alfred Marshall was pointing out that (at any point in time), responsible persons also have a definite guiding non-cash aspect to how they compute/appraise the measured value of the choices of time and resource commitments in which they engage themselves, as mind-guided entities.

Marshall explicitly focussed on the fact that responsible persons seek to acquire access to material components in behalf of their survival; and they seek, as well, access to fulfilment and to understanding which confirms to them that their living is worthwhile. Marshall was therefore inviting us (as well as the framers of the President’s ERR programs), to recognize that there is also a non-cash dimension to the “income” which persons (as mind-guided human economic agents) aim to secure from the selections of time, effort, and resource commitments, into which they enter; or to which they voluntarily commit their efforts.

That non-cash target, at which Conscious mind-guided human economic agents aim, Marshall called their real income. Obviously, therefore, Marshall was calling upon us to recognize that there exists a real economy in which Conscious mind-guided persons operate; and also a money economy in which hired workers get paid, and in which entrepreneurs set out to secure financial profits.

President Obama, is therefore invited to correspondingly frame his ERR programs, mindful of the presence of these two economies. He is invited to particularly recognize that when economists and statisticians use indices of price level changes, to adjust money income, and wages, to some reference basing point in time, these analysts are still talking about only the money economy. President Obama, therefore has a critical commitment decision, about how his ERR Programs will accommodate to the critical non-cash pivots which make up the real economy. Furthermore, he can make that accommodation, either directly; or indirectly (via a strategy of avoidance).

It is true that the U. S. President is the elected head of a capitalist society, where access to the acquisition of more money (even if by devious means), is given the status of god; and where people are conditioned to go out and chase after money, in or der to register how successful their living has been. As a result, (notwithstanding the political propaganda, and all that sort of rot), people are accommodated as merely implements (called human capital), that are manipulated in behalf of how they contribute to more private financial accumulation. However, President Obama needs to decide what results in the lives of people, his ERR policies will aim to generate. Does he aim to primarily foster the world of commercial banking, and its role in fostering market growth? Or does he also intend to foster and to deal with the targets of people, in the real economy?

Clearly, if the experience of people is his primary target, the President will need to see them as working together, not merely to generate buoyant commerce, and accompanying increases in gross national product (GDP). Instead, he will first need to recognize that persons are mind-guided Conscious entities, who understand that they need to work together to accommodate comfortably and predictively to their natural environment. Furthermore, the President must recognize that as conscious entities, respective persons understand that they must exercise their co-operation with each other, at the same time that they respectively set out to carve out a personal existential experience. That experience, they execute by means of personal selections of time and effort commitment which in which they participate (sometimes involuntarily). It is via their direct and indirect participative selections of time, effort and resources, that persons as mind-guided entities, expect to secure/access a preferred path of survival, (in terms of non-cash economic management outcomes, that accompany their sense of being existentially fulfilled or better off).

As a result, the judgements which Conscious (mind-guided) persons make about whether their real income will be enhanced, contains a sense and of their being better off, that capitalist economic analysts have tended to overlook.

The overall sense of being better off which persons frame, is therefore guided by the extent to which they are able to secure a higher quality-of-living, (as indicated by their relative access to mixes of critical technical services and opportunities, and to opportunities for participating in their communities). Accordingly, they seek access to customary items of subsistence (food, clothing, shelter, health-care support, security of person and property, and opportunities for rest and recreation). Additionally, in their search to secure enhancement in their real income, they also seek to achieve access to critical verifiable information. They particularly need information which will enable them to understand and also to work in concert with the evolution of their natural environment (and its laws of autonomous evolution). This policy and program background, was elaborated in Horace Carby-Samuels (2007); Quality-of-Living and Human Development as the Outcome from Economic Progress; Ottawa, Canada; Agora Publishing Consortium).

Essentially, the Administration of President Obama, is invited to recognize that economic performance is not shown only in the money economy, to which the activities of people contribute. Instead, government appraisals of prevailing economic performance, must recognize that there is also the real economy (in the form of the time-use management options that are accessible to people).

Persons aim to secure the attributes to quality-of-living, and to then gain access to enhanced opportunities for Human Development. As a result, the appropriateness of prevailing economic operations, in the U. S. or in any other economy, is shown by the extent to which such quality-of-living opportunities are being made available, or are being enhanced. The Administration of President Obama may therefore not rely only on performance results in the money economy, as indicated by Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Meanwhile, provisions for investment in health-care, and in education, are also included in the proposed ERR package of this President. However, the provision for investment in education and in health care, is aimed largely at how they will function as complements to commercial activities; rather than at their function as complements to the achievement of a higher quality-of-living, as a stage on the path to the ultimate realization of Human Development.

It is also notable that in the proposed ERR package, there is no provision for monitoring the extent to which the scarce non-renewable resources of the society, are available to service the Human Development targets and aspirations of its members. Additionally, in the ERR package, government funds are being used to refinance private banks, so that they can again merrily pursue their money-centred greed-driven profit agendas. It is also the extent to which corporations are making high levels of financial profits, that will be used as the indication of the forthcoming economic success in the ERR programs.

Accordingly, it will therefore be the same old selfishness-centred, greed-driven economic context, (which had generated the prevailing economic malaise in the first place), which is being resuscitated and reinvigorated by the so far presented ERR programs.

The Resistance to the Inclusion of Real Income

Oversight. and resistance to including the real income that persons achieve in how programs of economic development and revival are structured and are appraised, comes from a surprising and rather comprehensive source.

Meanwhile, a capitalist government is overwhelmingly concerned with promoting and reviving commerce, and that forms the first point in the resistance to including the real income context in how economic performance is measured. Accordingly, fostering the effectiveness with which people may be manipulated to service the profit targets of commerce, (on account of the contribution to of such activities to GDP enhancement) is one of the not overtly stated economic development targets of capitalist government-sponsored economic development programs.

In contrast, the Administration of U. S. President Obama needs to recognize the principle that, by virtue of the role of mind in human evolution, Conscious, responsible, mind-guided, and aware persons, are particularly focussed on their survival path. Such persons are particularly focussed on how their time, effort, and resource management activities, and their survival path are linked. That is why the framers of President Obama’s ERR Programs, must also see the economic management efforts of persons, as being aimed at heightening the survival-centred returns that they are able to secure from their selections of time and resource commitments.

Support to an effective linkage between the money economy, and the quality-of-survival of persons, represents a set of fundamental relationships to which the President’s ERR Program must contribute.

Notably, the real economy reveals itself in the pattern of the survival-centred time-use results, to which persons have access. Meanwhile, in the process of going about their lives, Conscious persons also estimate their economic success, in terms of the relative access which they secure to mixes of technical components, that will enable them to achieve or to experience an enhanced quality-of-living.

Persons then link their access to technical components on which they are able to draw in support of their living, into estimates which they form about how effectively the survival which they seek is being supported. In particular, respective persons frame estimates about whether the prevailing access to technical services which will enhance their quality-of-living (or the access at hand), provides them with opportunities to achieve or to experience the non-cash result of Human Development; (which happens to be the terminal existential target/achievement, that brings fulfilment to their lives).

However, capitalist economists are not prepared to acknowledge that any such type of non-cash target, accompanies the economizing activities in which human economic agents engage. Meanwhile, it happens that an alert (or a sort of “heads up”), as to why the presence of that Human Development target remains and is likely to continue to remain unrecognized and un-accommodated in our society, was elaborated in the book by John Lamb Lash (2006); Not in His Image; Chelsea Green Publishing Company; White River Junction, Vermont.

It must be particularly remembered that while pursuing their time, effort, and resource management activities which make up their living, human beings are also operating as Conscious, mind-guided entities who respectively (even if not collectively) have a conception of self survival. Therefore, the question as to, what are the people-centred outcomes at which the efforts of these Conscious entities are directed, is both relevant, and nontrivial.

Capitalists, for example, impute that the trading and related economic management activities of persons, are directed at making money. However, if one bears in mind the real income feature, to which Alfred Marshall had pointed, it is not sufficient for the ERR Packages of President Obama to dwell only on operations in the money economy. Furthermore, the associated forthcoming data in the money economy, and that on the real economy, do not vary either proportionally or in unison. As a result, to achieve the reconciliation results in Human Development at which they aim, the survival path, which respective human economic agents are seeking to carve out for themselves, does not await the intervention of a redeemer figure. Instead, in their aim to pursue the non-cash objective of Human Development persons are stimulated to execute a judicious blending of their operations in the money economy, with those attainments to which they (decide to) commit in the real economy.

The framers of the ERR programs of President Obama, are therefore invited to appreciate humans, as making time and effort management choices, in support of their aim to go about their lives as responsible entities that are in search of a preferred survival path. To recognize that such is their commitment, contrasts with the focus which emphasizes humans as chasing (opportunities to acquire) money.

Clearly, therefore, ERR programs which have been framed to complement the activities of people, as money chasers, will differ from ERR programs that aim to enhance the real income of persons, so as to foster their access to a survival path, which accompanies enhanced quality-of-living.

Meanwhile, John Lash has pointed out that the fundamental operating premises of a number of the organized religions of the world (and he names Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), are based on a redeemer, salvationist, or redemptionist context, which adherents are conditioned to frame into how they interpret their continuing existence.

Government officialdom, bureaucrats, and economic technocrats, who have been indoctrinated and conditioned in the redemptionist context (of these organized religions), will be unwilling to recognize that “appropriately civilized” humans in the society, may also aim to take personal responsibility for the survival path, that is their lives. Analysts and officialdom that has been so indoctrinated will be inhibited from being disposed to countenance the presence of Human Development, (as the background existential terminus at which Conscious mind-guided persons aim their time and effort commitments).

Analysts and officialdom who have been so conditioned in the redemptionist context, but who may be associated with the ERR Programs, will be indifferent to giving due attention to the need for support to the non-cash elements, out of which real income enhancement will be forthcoming, and from which the path to Human Development will arise. Additionally, such technocratic and bureaucratic adherents of the redemptionist perspective on human reality, will be also correspondingly indifferent to the need for the living-related resource management and other activities in which persons participate, to be also associated with practices of empathy, mutuality, and non-predation. Currently, therefore, the economic analysis behind President Obama’s ERR program, does not look on the need to recognize, or to accommodate plans, to the presence and to the importance of the non-cash results (such as real income, and enhancement in quality-of-living, that eventually lead into the Human Development), as targets at which mind-guided human economic agents aim.

However, when economic analysts, and also the framers of government policies, have been conditioned (through their religious allegiance to a redemptionist context) to overlook the presence of the real economy (and how it is linked to fostering of quality-of-living, and to Human Development), some grave existential results follow.

Essentially the conditioning to accept that more existential/human ennoblement and perfection is achieved, by virtue of the influence of a redeemer, cultivates a parallel indifference to the aim of persons to use their effort commitments toward the achievement of Human Development. The conditioning in the redemptionist context, essentially inculcates a disposition to accept a capitalist approach to what personal responsibility is all about. The result is that in the limit, personal responsibility becomes construed as the circumstance which requires that people must go out and earn their own money, which they must then use to look after themselves and their own families.

Allegiance to the redemptionist conditioning therefore accommodates and tolerates the creation of a society where persons are conditioned into a capitalist concentration on selfishness, and self-centredness, on a money-centred measurement and appraisal of economic results . The implicit redemptionist promotion of the capitalist doctrine (with its emphasis on money-centred results, with its legitimation of exploitation, and with its indifference to the experience of people), provides the opportunity for capitalist doctrine to have a field day, in how persons in the society are conditioned to see their reality, and in how their efforts to contribute to economic progress is measured.

The ERR Program can aim at generating something else other than eventually leading back to the circumstances that brought us to the prevailing economic malaise. However, it can do so only if it is prepared to also bring into prevailing measurements of economic performance, a focus on the relative success of people, in achieving the non-cash quality-of-living targets that they have.

The economic performance of ERR initiatives must be also appraised in terms of the extent to which the opportunities of persons to acquire critical mixes of real services, which satisfy their requirements for subsistence (food, clothing, shelter, health-care, rest and recreation, and for security of person and property), have been enhanced. It will not be sufficient for measurements of performance to show how much money people have begun to earn. Additionally, accompanying investment in appropriate formal and informal programs of education, and skills development, must not only provide skills training, but they must also promote the access that persons have to verifiable information which will enable them to understand their natural environment, (and its autonomous rules of operation).

Meanwhile, the principle of division of labour, ensures that trade and commerce will also contribute to the real income flows that form a normal part of the real economy. However, that does not mean that the accompanying trade, must be a part of normal capitalist practice. For example, doctrinaire capitalism condones exploitation and inter-personal predation. Accordingly, it was the accommodation, promotion and condoning of deceptious and misleading advertising in capitalist trade in commercial paper, which brought us to the prevailing global economic stalemate.

Government, (as the institutional embodiment of the particular society), therefore faces an aggregate economic management challenge. It must service an economy where trade, in expectation of market profits, is accommodated; but where the delivery of outputs which enable persons to achieve a higher quality-of-living is also promoted.

Mindful of the presence of the real economy, (where persons manage their time and effort commitments toward the achievement of Human Development), governments therefore face a challenge. They are required to facilitate and to promote an informed environment of resource and effort management, where the principles of mutuality and of empathy are foundations to the interaction of persons, with each other as well as with the natural environment (and its autonomous laws of evolution).

The ERR initiatives of President Obama, are therefore challenged to operate as more than a stimulus to the reinvigoration of a capitalist bag of tricks, where private individuals or groups set out to use various ruses, to acquire or to trap a private accumulation of a flow of cash. Instead, the ERR Program, must also promote in the trading environment, prevailing rules of operation that are consistent with the principles of mutuality and of the empathy of persons, with each other as well as with the natural environment.

Meanwhile, in the normal operations of a society that operates under capitalist doctrine, people are conditioned to hold the view that the central pivot to their participation in economic life, is the success of their efforts to (directly or indirectly) acquire money. However, in recognition of the presence of the real economy, the ERR program of U. S. President Obama needs to give due recognition to the correspondingly critical role that the time-use-management opportunities which people face, plays in their economic life. That is why the President’s ERR programs, must also give due attention to promoting the access of responsible participants in the society, to mixes of critical services on which they need to draw in order to achieve a high quality-of-survival. Additionally, the ERR operations must also promote the access of persons to critical verifiable information about their natural environment, and how it evolves.

It will not be sufficient for the President’s initiatives, to stimulate trade that leads to the enhancement of gross domestic product (GDP). That type of economic development emphasis will operate merely to resuscitate the type of commerce, where people are accommodated largely for how they will function as (no more than) technically employable “stiffs”. Additionally, in the presence of an ERR focus that is centred on market and on profit growth, the bulk of the members of the society will be accommodated primarily for their function as customers, (who can be bamboozled or “hustled”, (as entrepreneurs, professional groups, and corporate organizations, use deceptious advertising, to promote profitable trade).

Therefore, if the ERR package of President Obama and its rules of operation, aim to service the quality-of-living and also the survival priorities of people, rather than the financial profit targets of the banks and the corporations, the package needs to adjust its guidance framework.

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Written by thecanadianheadlines

December 14, 2009 at 11:04 pm

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