Not all economists are the same
Don McIver writes nonsenseDon McIver is an economist. He used to work for big business. Now he is an apologist for big business, directing research of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a social and economic policy think tank based in Halifax. On Saturday, 3 March 2012, the Chronicle Herald published an opinion by Don McIver, Global earnings: We are the five percent! I have copied this opinion, in order that it might be preserved for everlasting ridicule.
Mr McIver seems to prefer authority to reason, citing "Nobel Prize winner Richard Lucus" as his preferred authority. I had never heard of Richard Lucus and he is not on the list of Nobel Laureates. There is an economist called Robert E Lucas who won The Prize in Economic Sciences. But this is not a Nobel Prize! The Nobel Prizes are:
The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901. As far as I can tell, Muhammad Yunus is the only economist to ever receive a Nobel Prize. Muhammad Yunus was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. I can see why, Muhammad Yunus has the unusual virtue of not being in the plutocratic pocket. Of course, The Noble Peace Prize is not selective according to profession. Scientist, Linus Pauling, got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. A scientific collective, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Al Gore were awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1953 The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Winston Churchill, a literate politician, of all things!
- The Nobel Prize in Physics
- The Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- The Nobel Prize in Literature
- The Nobel Peace Prize
I guess the Economists were feeling a little left out, back in the 1960's. After all, these guys (and they were all guys) considered themselves to be the planet's prime movers and shakers, their opinions plastering newspapers like so much scat. So they decided to buy a prize. It's called "The Prize in Economic Sciences"... or, to be more complete, The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Never mind that there is bugger all about economics that can be considered to be science! Heck, Alf Nobel gave a fortune so that his memory would be associated with the best of human achievement --- the economists paid a fortune to rub their grime and slime all over Alf's coat tails. It's amazing what money will buy!
The Prize in Economic Sciences was first awarded in 1969, to Ragnar Frischa and Jan Tinbergen. In ironical juxtaposition, in 1969 The Noble Peace Prize was awarded to the International Labour Organization (I.L.O.). Though spinning in his grave, Alf might still have had a quiet chuckle.
Having dismissed Don McIver's nonexistent authority, let us return to what Don actually has to say for himself."Before falling to the temptation of searching for a way of constraining the earning powers of the super-rich, we should consider another manifestation of globalization --- that more than ever before, wealth and capital have become globally footloose."No Don, globalization, as it has been practiced, is the free movement of capital to wherever it can be used to achieve the greatest return (though not the greatest productivity). Globalization is also the free movement of resources, but not of people... It is devious for an economist to rebadge a "defining property" as a "manifestation".
I am old enough to remember slithering pits of politicians and economists who told us that globalization would have positive manifestations. Globalization would increase productivity and make everyone better off, they reassured the powerless people whose jobs they were on the brink of being exported to the lowest bidder. In Australia, the slime-bag economists and politician's obscurred the truth with the clever country mythology --- yeah, like sending a ship load of sheep from New Zealand to Australia and raising the IQ of both nations! You bastards, do you think that I can't remember?
Canadian politician's were the same, just less colourful. The message was always, we'll have the smart jobs because we have better education. Or perhaps they thought that a North American is just genetically smart, like Australians. Bullshit! And bullshit! Every nation requires a full range of jobs if it is to employ the full range of its citizenary. Globalization takes no account of that!
Globalization certainly increased the return on capital investments, creating a new breed, the super-rich. But there are far more desperately poor people today than ever before. The typical North American has gone slowly backwards since the Reagan era. For a brief time, an illusion of wealth was created by mortgaging the nation, excessive borrowing, and exploiting slave-labour overseas. But it was an illusion. When you strip away the lies, we have gone backwards since globalization. Now, the super-rich are anywhere they please to be and the poor are everywhere more numerous.
How can this be? There has been huge technological advance since the Reagan era. All else being equal, that technological advance would provide much more for everyone. The economists were wrong. The politicians were wrong. They are still parroting the same-old same-old. You'd think the bastards would want to know where they went wrong? But they don't. They're content playing the game as always --- suckled by the super-rich, they stay the course, propagandizing for the plutocracy.
To understand where things went wrong, we should start by going back to that false claim that economics is a science. So what are the sciences. Well, the most fundamental science is physics. As my old Prof explained in my first year at university: "Physics is the scientific study of the physical universe". That would just about be everything. Even a great delusion, like economics, is just errant physics happening in a brain. Of course it gets quite difficult to do a complete quantum mechanical calculation for molecules, so a semi-empirical approach is taken --- we call it chemistry. About 3.5 billion years ago, molecules started to do get together in interesting ways and biology was invented. As physics is fundamental to chemistry, chemistry is fundamental to biology.
For 3 billion years ecology and evolution coughed up nothing more than single-cell life-forms. Not a small thing, as Lynne Margulis has shown. Before bodies, cells consumed each other, competed for resources, and formed remarkable mergers. (That is why the DNA of your mitochondria are different from the DNA of your chromosomes --- they came from different cells that merged long ago, long before bodies ever existed.) About half a billion years ago cells started linking themselves together with collagen --- not a merger, but a flexible arrangement that we call a body. Once bodies evolve, why would we be surprised to find them both competing and cooperating in order to survive. And so 3.5 billion years of history has been passed forward.
In a real sense, we are all 3.5 billion years old. Each of us is a branch of lifes 3.5 billion-year history. 3.5 billion years of sound economic management --- consuming, competing and cooperating --- otherwise we would not exist. If economics and history have a foundational theory then that theory is ecology and evolution! By the bullshit they spout, we know that ecomonists (and historians and demographers) are willfully blind to this reality... If they were not blind then they would know why we have growing poverty even though technology has so advanced.
There was a time --- long ago, before economists thrust their foolish theory through every media outlet and into our every orifice --- when anyone could answer the question. I'll let one of my favourite Nobel Laureates explain it for the lame-brained economists."Science and technology will then follow their tendency to rapid expansion in an exponential fashion, until saturation sets in. But that does not necessarily imply an increase of wealth, still less of happiness, as long as the number of people increases at the same rate, and with it their need for food and energy. At this point, the technological problems of the atom touch social problems, such as birth control and the just distribution of goods. There will be hard fighting about these problems..."Max Born wrote that in 1968 --- just before the b(w)ankers created their silly little prize in economic pseudo-science. You won't ever hear that view nowadays, it's been silenced by the Empire of Illusion that the super-rich have created, in the USA, in Canada, everywhere. Universities have been turned into hot-beds of conformity. Economists fob us off with illusion and lies. The news-media are degenerate, unthinking, propagandizing pundits and always careful to protect the interests of their super-rich masters. Entertainment is a degrading reality show or gladiatorial sporting spectacle; breakfast for the new man, standardized, conformist, domiciled like a bovine-beast, and brain-dead.
A predatory elite, the super-rich, they want population to grow. They don't care that doubling of population diminished lifestyle of the ordinary person. You see, their wealth scales as the number of people! Population growth is the business model preferred by lazy bankers. The super-rich will never be resource limited, that fate is for the commoners whom they feed upon.
Economics should be the field that contributes most to human well-being --- yet why so few Nobel Peace Prizes? Because they are just a part of the plutocratic machine --- denying science, denying the consequences of overpopulation --- peddling an illusion in order to make a quick buck.
The following is a copy of an opinion article written by Don McIver.
Global earnings: We are the five per cent!
Together, the people of Canada and the United States account for around five per cent of the world's population. Too frequently lost in the strident debate in advanced countries over the disproportionate income share of the top one per cent is the equally lopsided distribution of global earnings whereby that five per cent reaps more than 25 per cent of worldwide earnings.
Even as "globalization" is being socially vilified for its apparent contribution to rising national income disparities, it is substantially narrowing the income spread between countries.
We often hear it bemoaned that the process is resulting in the export of "our" good-paying middle-income jobs to people in Third World countries. Perhaps we should consider why we feel that those jobs are really "ours" and why we feel it's appropriate that for so many years, we have been entitled to a so much higher standard of living than most of the rest of the world.
Writing a decade ago, Nobel Prize winner Richard Lucus commented: "The resources of all kinds that will be at the disposal of [a] new American will be on the order of 15 times the resources available to his Indian brother. This seems to us a terrible wrong, justifying direct corrective action, and perhaps some actions of this kind can and should be taken. But of the vast increase in the well-being of hundreds of millions of people that has occurred in the 200-year course of the industrial revolution to date, virtually none of it can be attributed to the direct redistribution of resources from rich to poor."
Before falling to the temptation of searching for a way of constraining the earning powers of the super-rich, we should consider another manifestation of globalization --- that more than ever before, wealth and capital have become globally footloose. The list of industrial billionaires, once heavily based in the United States, is expanding sharply to include hundreds in the emerging giants. Both the individual skill-sets and the financial capital necessary to create and dominate commerce are becoming increasingly stateless.
The moral discussion around the relative justice of income distributions within the advanced economies, relative to the fairness of the divide between advanced and emerging economies, is becoming irrelevant. The genie has left the bottle --- the horse has departed the barn. If we wish to share in the new developments in technology and health care that will increasingly originate in the rapidly expanding new economies, we will inevitably have to accept that our stranglehold on middle-class jobs has ended. It has ended not because we have given up our position by negotiating trade pacts, but because other countries are beginning to excel in precisely the same economic strengths that generated our advantages.
As Lucus suggested, the idea that we can engineer some sort of corrective action is misplaced. It is hard to conceive of any effective system of protection that could be constructed. Capital and the super-rich will be drawn to where the rewards are greatest and those middle-class jobs will gravitate to where the physical and intellectual skills, creativity and costs are most productive. In any setting except that of our own preoccupation with natural entitlement, that would be manifestly perceived as "fair."