[OPE] The Financial Times says the Left haven't got a clue

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Wed Mar 26 2008 - 14:48:58 EDT

The FT has a broadside against the Left, so the debate is hotting up even if it's cold outside.

"And now we have the great financial unravelling - with governments and central bankers playing a role for which past decades have left us unprepared. Many people remember what Callaghan said about the sea-change in ideas. Fewer remember his observation that these changes seemed to happen every 30 years or so, or that he said that 29 years ago. So what sort of change might be we witnessing? If the Thatcher-Reagan era is at an end, what might replace it? Trawling leftwing and far-left websites is instructive, because they clearly have not got a clue either. They are not demanding the nationalisation of the banking system, perhaps because that has already happened, either explicitly or implicitly. But they do not seem to be calling for anything else. In The Nation, the leftwing US magazine, Nicholas von Hoffman lays into "our crooked, avaricious, heedless and duplicitous financial system", but admits: "We are in unknown territory facing situations that have never arisen before and taking measures that have never been tried." Surely Britain's Socialist Workers party can do better than that? Not really. "Now more than ever, we need to present a different vision of how the world could be run - one in which the needs of the many come before the greed of the few." Like what, exactly? Even in crisis, capitalism remains fortunate in its enemies. However this ends, and however widespread the damage, most of our economies will remain in private hands. There is still no better way to apportion and price our goods and services. There will, on the other hand, be better ways to regulate and police our financial services industry. There will have to be. But the triumphalism of the past 30 years is over. The market is no longer the answer to everything. It certainly does not heal itself." 

Hmmm. Just when you thought that the economy is in private hands, it turns out that those hands were just "borrowed" from stakeholders somewhere else. So the problem you have is: whose hands are they really, who has a hand in this, so to speak? I might as well argue that The Nation and the Socialist Workers Party couldn't exist if there wasn't capitalism - capitalism gives rise to them. But why does capitalism give rise to them? Presumably because capitalism gives rise to its enemies. But why does it give rise to enemies? In Renaissance thought, we find the idea that there must be something in capitalism that is contrary to human natures, or human nature is contrary to capitalism in some respects. But why? Far be it from me to hurry up the debate, but I'm intrigued by what others think. If there is still no better way to apportion and price our goods and services, why does the crisis occur at all then? It may be true that "many hands make light work", but it still doesn't seem to prevent a financial crisis. Maybe it's not handwork, but...

How many economists does it take to change a lightbulb? 

- We will never know. The lightbulb does not match the conditions assumed in the model.
- It depends on the wage rate
- Very interesting question. What does Krugman think?
- They do not change light bulbs; they search for the cause explaining why the last one went out.
- Any one will do - they can supply it on demand
- Only one, if you hire me. I can actually change the light bulb by myself. As you can see from my resume, I've had extensive experience changing light bulbs in previous positions. I've also been named to the Harvard Maverick Light Bulb list, and am presently a teaching assistant for Light Bulb Management 666. My only weakness is that I'm compulsive about changing light bulbs in my spare time.
- A lot in the short run, which amounts to nothing in the long run. 
- Sorry, that item has been cut from the budget!
- Irrelevant - the light bulb's preferences are to be taken as given. 

 - None. It's too early to say if the lightbulb needs changing. None, because our data show it's getting brighter! It's definitely getting brighter !!! None. If the light bulb really needed changing, market forces would have already caused it to happen. None. There never *was* any light bulb. None - the market has already discounted the change. None 'o yo' f****** business!  None. It's left to the reader as a thought experiment. None: None; they're all waiting for the unseen hand of the market to correct the lighting disequilibrium. None. The darkness will cause the light bulb to change by itself. None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in. None. "There is no need to change the light bulb. Our model shows that all the conditions for illumination are in place. None. "Well it's not really a question of should we change it or should we not change the lightbulb, but more a question of...(blah blah waffle)" None: They can't remove the old ones since they are already part of the environment. None. Recent surveys show growing confidence in the lightbulb lighting up again."

- Only one, but it may take upwards of five years for him to get it done. One - He grabs the bulb and waits for the world to revolve around him. One -Bernanke holds the bulb and the goddam world revolves around him. 

- Two - One to assume the existence of ladder and one to change the bulb. Two - if they are Americans. One to change the lightbulb, and one to sue the lightbulb manufacturer for pain and suffering for having to change the lightbulb, compensation for lost light, and to set a new legal precedent requiring lightbulb manufacturers to state clearly that lightbulbs may require replacing, and that the manufacturer is in no way responsible for lost wages or any other consequential damages as allowed by law. Two - one to screw it in and one to screw it up.

- Three. One to construct the model, one to test the model against previous data, and one to protect intellectual property rights.

- Four - One to change the lightbulb, and three to act as academic referees.

- Five. One to change the bulb and four more to chase off Californians who have come up to relate to the experience. Five. One German to start it, one Frenchman to give up really easily after only trying for a little while, one Italian to make a start, get nowhere, and then try again from the other side, one Americans to turn up late and finish it off and take all the credit, and one Swiss to pretend nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

- Six. One to turn the bulb, one for support, and four to relate to the experience. (in California)

- Seven, plus or minus ten.

- Eight. One to screw it in, and seven to hold everything else constant.

- Nine. One to change the bulb, and eight to study the nuclear power plant that generates the electricity that powers it.

- Ten. One to prepare the proposal, one econometrician to run the model, one each MS and PhD students to write the theses and dissertations, two more to prepare the journal article (senior authorship not assigned), three to review it, and two to refine the model and replicate the results.  

 - A baker's dozen. One to change the bulb and a dozen others to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to apply for the job. 

- Twelve to investigate Clinton's involvement in the failure of the old bulb, 23 to deregulate the light bulb industry, and 51 to pass a tax credit for light bulb changers.

- One professor and twenty eight delegates representing all the social, economic, and ethnic communities.

- Fifty. Fifty? Yeah fifty; it's in the contract. 

- All, because then you will generate employment, stimulate more consumption which will shift the AD (aggregate demand) to the right.

Q: How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb? 
A: None: The light bulb already contains the seeds of its own revolution. 

Q: How many Trotskyists does it take to change a lightbulb? 
A: None. Smash it! 

Q: How many anarchists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, the light bulb must change itself. All anarchists can do is help its process of discovery.

Three economists and three mathematicians were going to an academic conference by train. Before the journey, the mathematicians bought 3 tickets but economists only bought one. The mathematicians were glad their stupid colleagues make such an error which verified their view that economists can't perform even simple mathematics and were going to pay a fine. However, when the conductor was approaching their compartment, all three economists went to the nearest restroom. The conductor, noticing that somebody was in the toilet, knocked on the door. In reply he saw a hand with one ticket. He checked it and the economists saved 2/3 of the ticket price. The next day, the mathematicians decided to use the same strategy - they bought only one ticket, but economists did not buy tickets at all! When the mathematicians saw the conductor, they hid in the toilet, and when they heard knocking they handed in the ticket. They did not get it back. The economists took it, and went to the other toilet.

Q: How many existentialists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two: One to screw it in and one to observe how the light bulb itself
   symbolizes a single incandescent beacon of subjective reality in a
   netherworld of endless absurdity reaching out toward a cosmos of



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