Re: [OPE] Why Markets Fail

From: Anders Ekeland <>
Date: Fri Nov 14 2008 - 05:53:03 EST

At 20:27 13.11.2008, you wrote:
>on 2008-11-12 21:32 Anders Ekeland wrote:
>>I would not say "hopelessly utopian", but mankind has certainly a
>>way to go - and some environmental problems to solve before we
>>reach that. But this also a question of the mode of distribution.
>>Health, education are basically free in Norway - and there could be
>>a lot more of this collective consumption. With a much greater
>>equality of incomes the fact that markets exist - f.ex for housing
>>does not have the negative consequences that it has in present day capitalism.
>I'd say it is a question of the mode of production: how should
>social labour be organised and how should the surplus product be
>determined and appropriated? Health and education are quite
>different from digitized information; they may be free of *charge*
>since they are not purchased as commodities but they have a social
>cost --- labour --- that is significantly greater than, say,
>compressed audio and video.

Yes, but still the mode of distribution is "communist" - free of
charge - and that is an important redistributive mechanism - and
there is no big "overuse" of health services since people do not want
to visit doctors or hospitals.

>>I do not see *relative* abundance as utopian, but certainly a long
>>way to go - and markets will be with us for decades - even
>>centuries - even if the logic and dynamic of the economy was
>>socialist in character.
>It is this idea of a future of abundance, some centuries ahead, that
>I find utopian. In other words, useless for political demands or
>policies even in the long term. Moreover, I do not think market-like
>distribution is in itself a bad thing.

 From my real life experience in Norway I do not find "From each
according to their ability, to each according to their need" that
utopian. That any economy basically is a way to allocate the labour
force of society and that gives a price to products, does not mean
that a relative abundance of industrial, agricultural and energy
products might not be achieved. If you asked people 200 or 100 years
ago if to get rid of hunger was utopian - I guess they would have
said yes. But today in the rich countries overweight is a much
greater problem than hunger - and I do not think that even the
present crisis will change that for the majority 80-90% of the population.

Industrial goods are getting cheaper and cheaper - giving rise to a
Baumolian "cost-disease" for labour intensive goods, but even these
can be "industrialized" with ICT to some degree - and they are
typically collective consumption goods, health, care, education -
live entertainment.

I think it is rational to signal the labour content of goods by
prices, and given a very equal - and continually equalized income
distribution - "voting with dollars" is in many context an efficient
form of democracy which a rational society (=socialism) will have to
use - we cannot be overburdened with political processes to clarify
what alternative we prefer.


>//Dave Z
>ope mailing list

ope mailing list
Received on Fri Nov 14 05:58:11 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Dec 03 2008 - 15:07:39 EST