Re: [OPE-L] Socialism and markets

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Jan 18 2006 - 09:02:50 EST

> UN calculations have been done of the type that an annual levy of 5.2% on
> the fortunes of the world's 500 or so billionaires would be financially
> sufficient to guarantee essential needs for the whole world population.
> Wheter it should happen is another story, it is just stated as a fact (it
> would require a high level of human cooperation to achieve this).
> We're talking here about clean drinking water, proper sanitation,
> essential  health care, sufficient food intake, etc. Now just extrapolate
> the mathematics of this.


You are missing my point.  When conceiving of needs, I am _not_
using the UN criteria of basic needs.  So, it's _not_ a simple matter
of extrapolation.

Do you think workers in the Netherlands will be satisfied with the
assurance that only their 'basic needs',  as defined in some international
standard about what is minimally necessary to sustain human life and
health,  will be met under socialism?  Or will they want and expect
more, i.e. will they define their needs as being greater than that?

>  It seems to me reactionary to argue that the lot of the poor
> could not be improved, because it would stuff up the environment -
> a poverty of thought really.

I didn't make that argument.  I was simply noting that there are
environmental consequences of using all possible global resources.
From the standpoint of the issue I wanted to see addressed,  this
has major implications for determining the quantity of resources
that can and should be used to be able to provide for the needs
of people.

While there is merit to much of what you say in the para that
began "There are many reasons ...." (sorry, although I read it,
I deleted it when composing this reply), I am not comfortable
with the claim that  "Necessity is the mother of invention" if
it is meant to imply that people will come up with effective
social answers because they have to.

Since you repeatedly have emphasized over the years the need
for Marxists to do more empirical research and more concretely
examine the subject of socialism,  I  thought that you would welcome
my call for _someone_ to actually attempt a calculation which
examines whether there are enough resources in the world
now (without raping Antarctica, etc. and bringing about an ecological
disaster!) and efficient ways of using those resources to provide
for the needs of people in the world (needs as currently socially
understood in different cultures, not just basic needs!).

I'll leave the discussion on ethics and morality for another time.

In solidarity, Jerry

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