Re: [OPE-L] Differentiation and Two Socialist schools of thought

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu May 17 2007 - 11:20:21 EDT

Take the example of food production or the production of intoxicating
substances  like, whiskey, tobacco and cocaine. We know that given free
choices of these goods after being subject to advertising, that a large
fraction of people will choose to consume things that are inimical to
their well being. If vodka, cocaine and tobbaco were available on the
market at prices proportionate to their labour contents, rather than being
taxed or restricted, then addiction to these toxins would be even higher
than it now is. One has only to look at the increase in alcohol related
deaths in the former USSR once restrictions on vodka production were
lifted to see this. But a similar issue exists with high fat and high
sugar foods. With these products it is possible to ascertain
scientifically what human needs are, and to plan production in accordance
with these needs. For instance, appropriate planning of agricultural
production, would address the problem of excess sugar and saturated fat
consumption at source by reducing the amount being made.


Hi Paul C:

I'm not really comfortable with the process you are suggesting.  What
to produce should be decided by the people themselves rather than an
elite -- in this case, the "scientists".  If the scientists decide that
a product is harmful and some segment of the people still want it, then
that leads in the direction of a black market in your socialist

One could argue that education is key, and that's true.  It's also true
that scientists and health professionals have _a_ role in the process of
health education.  But, this is by no means an easy process, especially if
we are referring to addictive substances.  There were campaigns in the
former USSR and in some  Eastern European nations against the negative
health consequences of (over-) consuming vodka, but that didn't stop the
practice.  Nor does making its consumption illegal lead to profound
changes in consumption patterns - the most likely consequence is merely
an increase in price and the creation of an underground - and unregulated
- part of the economy.

Changes in cultural norms and practices will take time to change. They
won't be profoundly altered by decrees from an authority, including
decrees from scientific authorities.  Yet, _some_ cultural practices will
_have_ to change and change quickly (especially if there are negative
environmental consequences) so there is no easy solution to this problem.

In solidarity, Jerry

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