RE: [OPE] Value as worth & cockroaches

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Wed Apr 08 2009 - 15:13:50 EDT

Get real Gerry, we are talking the early 60s here.

 A the time DDT and pyrethrins were the only effective public health measure against Malaria in the tropics, the worlds biggest killer disease. Carson was critiquing the effects of large scale DDT use in the USA in agriculture. It is still arguable whether the banning of DDT in Africa for malaria prevention was worth the millions of lives it has cost.

We dont know what the Cuban insecticide actually was, so modes of disposal are an open question. It may have been an old nicotine based one, since prior to the synthetic ones that was one of the few readily available. Whatever it was, it was clearly not very toxic.

From: [] On Behalf Of Gerald Levy []
Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 1:48 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] Value as worth & cockroaches

> If the insecticide did not work it is likely that it would not sell at its
> full value and would have to be discounted by the
> state wholesalers.

Paul C:

If the insecticide doesn't work, then it is likely that (once that was
known) it would have
NO worth.

> The planners on seeing this would scale back production of that line.

They would presumably destroy the excess inventory (which means that it has
*negative* worth
since there would be a social cost with storing, destroying, and/or
recycling the materials in a
manner which is eco-friendly).

> This does not deal with the problem of whether the chemical industry in
> Cuba in the 1960s had the ability
> to synthesise pyrethrins or DDT. If they lacked that basic capacity, no
> monkeying around with prices would
> lead to proper insecticide.

In your socialist economy how would the social costs of the DDT, eloquently
explained by the
late Rachel Carson, be taken into consideration? How would both
externalities (if there is a
market) and internalities be avoided (ex ante) and/or dealt with (ex post)?

In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Wed Apr 8 15:21:06 2009

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