From: ehrbar (ehrbar@LISTS.ECON.UTAH.EDU)
Date: Mon Dec 04 2006 - 18:04:10 EST
Paul, The main difference between us seems to be that I don't think we have time to first abolish capitalism and institute socialism, and then we can fix the environment. We have only about 10 years to start the economy on a radically new path. This has to be done under capitalism, but a capitalism which is much different than the free-market capitalism from today. Monbiot uses the war economy in the US during WWII as an example. We do have the strength to see to it that this capitalism will be penetrated by many more socialist elements than even the Swedish welfare state model. In the further course of events it will become clear that socialism is the only option forward. Preserving the environment means to take heed of thousands or millions of different constraints. You cannot do this with an economy which has a one-dimensional guideline (money) but it needs exactly the kind of computerized planning you are talking about. I am not worried that we can ever have a genuine capitalism that is environmentally sound. But for the extraordinary investments necessary in the next few decades capitalism will do just fine. That's why I don't want to raise the minimum wage to a level at which profits are impossible. The switch to a carbon-less economy will create so much demand that capitalism will boom (just as the capitalist sector in Venezuela is booming right now). We need those capitalists. Enough of them will fall by the wayside to create a great laboratory and basis for socialism. About fuel taxes: The absurdity of the present system is that it not only fails to encourage and subsidize environmentally sound practices, but it even spends a huge amount of money subsidizing the environmentally most unsound practices. This has to stop. There is no way around it. It is simply a no-brainer that gasoline is far too cheap and its price must be raised, that car owners should pay for the maintenance of the roads, etc. I know this is extremely unpopular, but the discussion must be started somewhere how this can be done. You have a very good argument in "Towards a New Socialism" that in the presence of a just income distribution, the subsidies for bread and rent known from the socialist countries don't make sense. The same can be said about the subsidies for gasoline. If you want the price system to contain any useful information, you have to rectify the price of carbon fuel. We have to make the income distribution more just, and at the same time move gasoline prices to a real cost basis. This will encourage clean factories built right next to the homes, so that people can walk to work, etc. Perhaps a car sharing system with electric cars for the inevitable occasional car trip. But we have to set a clear signal that the days of the private gasoline-driven car are numbered. Hans.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Dec 31 2006 - 00:00:04 EST