Re: [OPE-L] workers' consumption and capitalists' consumption

Date: Sun Jun 04 2006 - 13:36:42 EDT

An intervention from an archives reader follows. / In solidarity, Jerry

---------------------------- Original Message -------------------
From:    "Barry Brooks" <>
Date:    Sun, June 4, 2006 2:50 am

Adopting the common-sense meaning of "consumption" to
mean the end of an item's useful life, rather that meaning "use,"
will eliminate one source of fuzzy economic thinking.

Our wealth is approximately all that we ever
bought minus all that we ever consumed. Wealth is
an amount, while income is a rate. They are connected
by durability. (See Herman Daly, "Steady-state Economics)

One example: cars produced at 100 per year that last 5
years would finally create and maintain a fleet of 500
cars. That same fleet could be supported by producing
only 10 cars per year that last 50 years. At one limit we
would have zero cars on the road, while producing
a million per year if they had a life span to 10 seconds.

The blur of meaning between use and consumption has
surely retarded understanding of the importance of

Extended durability and population stability (decline)
will make inheritance the main source of wealth,
someday. This kind of system would have a very high
efficiency as defined below.

Surplus labor combined with wage dependence means that
we must increase consumption, beyond just filling real needs,
to make jobs. The proper goal of an economy it to increase
wealth; not consumption. We should match the labor to
the needed jobs, instead of matching the jobs to
labor, as we do now.

We can't begin serious conservation so long as people
are dependent on wages. We can't do or respect important
unpaid work so long as work is just about money. If
dividends are good why is welfare bad?

Economic efficiency should be use-value/consumption,
but we define it as actual-consumption/possible-
consumption. The consumer economy is very efficient
in its ability to waste and pollute.

One can find implied solutions to "impossible" problems
in these considerations.


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