Some Economic and Political Concepts

The first aim of human economics is to improve quality of life, more than amassing money

Stupid things about our economies

Superstition is not restricted to ecclesiastical dogmas. Churches mix faith with reason in and recognise that they do this. But the secular world makes its own assumptions about how the economic world operates. Economists investigate economies in the same way that theologians investigate dogmas - as if they were givens, but both can be investigated as man-made constructions. What men make, they can try to improve. Economies require investigation by reason and imagination, to consider what else might be possible.

The Great Problem: How to get better ideas implemented, or even tested, when vested interests that profit from the present situation are so strong.

Some examples of concepts that can help to direct thinking out of ruts

  • Capitalism. A perfect theory ruined by human greed and desire for power. Socialism. A perfect theory ruined by human laziness and desire for power.

  • Ceilings of wealth. A concept of decency, civilisation and social insurance.
  • Common Wealth. This word has a real meaning to be kept alive.
  • Co-operation. As important a concept in 21st century economies as competition.
  • Economic theories do sums with the fiction of Economic Man, who behaves in ways predictable by economic models done on computer, but often unlike what Real Man does.
  • Economic Theory for the 21st century. Capitalist and Marxist theory assumed that Capital and Labor are factors in production, but natural resources were infinite. Now natural resources must be factored into the costs of production as Future Cost (qv).
  • Employment. Jobs that are needed. If all the jobs that need to be done were being done, there need be no unemployment. The problem is, how to pay for them to be done, when their great benefit is for the total society and for the future, not private immediate profit.
  • Failsafes. Encouraging innovations needs failsafes if they do not work. For example, if 'level playing field' global trade proves a global trap, how can Australia survive? If foreign debt leads to control by overseas creditors, how can Australia survive? When 'growth' has to stop some time, as resources run short, how can the economy and Australians survive? I
  • Freedom to Work Day. One day each week when all, rich & poor, are supposed to work.
  • Future Cost is what the future must pay for what we spend today, an estimate to be factored in with Capital and Labor as a major component of product cost. A sum to be taken into account in all our planning and costing of life-styles, capital outlays etc. "The Future Cost of an 8-cylinder car is one third more than a 4-cylinder."
  • Gross Unnecessary Suffering (GUS) is one measure of the true wealth and prosperity of a country, to include with other measures such as GNP. "GNP of this developing nation doubled last year but QOL (Quality of life) is worse for a third of the population, and GUS has not improved at all." Detail is available of such indexes.
  • Growth. What is it? When and how does quantitative growth stop, without resulting in cancers or decay? We must look ahead to how and when it must stop, and change to 'qualitative growth', that prevents stagnation. Production has traditionally been a process of Natural resources Æ Product Æ Waste, more suitable for large-scale products than supply of services. Now this consumption goal is being challenged
  • Human Rationalism rather than Economic Rationalism
  • Independence of nations. Political independence means without economic independence.l Nation States began with reducing the lawlessness and rapacity of robber barons; today the barons are international, beyond national laws. Nation states have a function together to protect people from their lawlessness and greed. Cross-national organisations oriented only to profit must not take out of local control the uses of property, conditions of employment, local sustenance and prevention of poverty. Banana monarchies and colonial republics are not the goal for our country or any other.
  • Index of Gross Unnecessary Suffering and Index of Quality of Life to be published for each country along with GDP and GNP as measures of a country's wealth.
  • Index of RDP (Real Domestic Product) omits from its calculations the financial transactions involved in antisocial and destructive activitie - e.g. traffic accidents, expensive law-suits, antisocial advertising, demolition of perfectly habitable buildings.
  • Inverted Pyramid. Our present economic system balances on pinpoints, like a great inverted pyramid. It only needs a tiny error like a Y2 bug, and the whole thing can topple.
  • Jobs that are needed. See list. If all the work that needs to be done were being done, there would be no unemployment. The criterion for job creation is that the jobs need to be done - not whether they make a profit for employers.
  • Jobs. 'Tuesday work for all' On one day a week, nobody is to be idle. Everyone, from richest to poorest, is under social obligation to spend one day working usefully, whatever the work they choose may be. Children can be helpful, the sick can cheer their carers. The dole is pay for that one day's work, any sort of work, undertaken on their own responsibility and not requiring any bureaucratic administration, but it must be something useful that takes a whole day. Then people and money would both be less wasted. This cannot threaten wages for full-time workers.Nobody is bludging because they are earning the dole, and continue work experience. Much useful employment could operate on this principle without taking away any full-time workers jobs, and many avenues of fulltime profitable employment could develop.
  • The fallacy of the Marketplace as the ideal regulator of supply and demand is that demand is wealth-driven. For most needs of the world, the question is how to pay for them.
  • Midas Syndrome. King Midas was delighted with the gift of turning everything into gold - and discovered that life is more important than metal. People with the Midas syndrome think that a Moody's rating or material wealth is more important than fresh air, pure water and food, happy relationships, a beautiful environment, and satisfying work and play.
  • Money was invented to be a means of exchange of goods and services, but it siphons off into sinks - overseas and to the 'already haves' - rather than circulating through the whole community, round and round. Circulating Money is needed
  • $OAP. A thought-provoking measure for incomes, expressed in terms of the Old Age bring home what all those $000,000s really mean. "The directors awarded themselves a rise of 10 $OAP." "The Minister was given a rise of 10 $OAP." "The cost of renovations to Parliament Building is equivalent to all $OAP payouts for ten years."
  • Production has traditionally been a process of Natural resources ÆProduct Æ Waste. Large-scale production profits more than supplying services. But the "< Consumption" goal is challenged as unemployment continues, the poor are jobless, and resources dwindle.
  • Public Enterprise as well as Private Enterprise. Structures and leadership within profit-making public-owned organisations to give the advantages of private enterprise, except that the profits go to revenue, and there is more public accountability. Making the most of both co-operation and competition and avoiding
  • i. the banes of State enterprises, which are laziness, featherbedding, expanding bureaucracies and Parkinson's Injelititis, and

    ii. the banes of private enterprises, which are greed, unethical dealing, exploitation of workers, and wasteful competition which prevents sharing of knowledge and resources.

  • Quality of Life (QOL) is measure of a country's real prosperity, to help make people think more critically about GNP as being the only or a sufficient measure of a nation's wealth. Indexes can calculate these measures.
  • Quality of life. In an ideal society, on a lovely day everyone can go outside and enjoy it.
  • Regional Currency circulates only within a country or region, unlinkable with the national currency that is used for banking, finance and international trade. Regional currency can only keep circulating to pay for goods and services - it can be banked only for security. It cannot drain out of the region or country or be trapped in the sink of millionaires' profits or even interest-bearing private saving. That means that there need be no paradox of need combined with unemployment. Jobs that are needed can be paid for, because the wages will be returning into circulation to pay for local goods and services, and the income from these that is received in regional currency will be then passed on again, round and round.
  • Resources Costs of the major world industries can be made public - war, arms, drugs.
  • Riches. The job of big business should be legally changed to include social responsibilities, to improve the whole commonwealth, with shareholders the second priority. e.g. Plotting takeovers gives something for power-hungry executives to do, and to spend surplus profits on, and reduces their competition, but other healthy companies need protection from them. This is particularly important when takeovers from overseas destroy the local competition in this way.
  • Self-terminating Shares and Loans that terminate when the dividends and interest paid add up to x times what was originally paid for them, regardless of prices in transactions since ( x = what would be fair, allowing for rewards for taking risks in investment - or not risked, in the case of government bonds.) The greatest problem with public and private debt is that until the capital can be paid off, the borrower continues to pay interest. It is said that heirs are still receiving interest from loans made to finance the Battle of Waterloo. The share-owner who has contributed his capital is paid his dividend as long as production continues to be profitable, although the laborer is paid his wage for his share in contribution to production - and that is that. This is inequitable. The consequences of such a scheme would be far-ranging - and have a strange and possibly beneficial effect on the workings of the Stock Exchange.
  • The Sustainable Household is as important as the Marketplace in thinking about Economics. Snooks and others have written on this. It will be even more important in the future, as waste becomes recognised as a major problem leading to shortages of resources.
  • Take-overs. Plotting takeovers gives something for power-hungry executives to do, and reduces the competition they face, but there needs to be protection against this for healthy companies. This is particularly important when takeovers from overseas destroy the local competition, which is likely to have more concern for the welfare of their own country
  • Taxes. Useful taxes. Many ideas come to mind that would be more socially useful than payroll tax or taxes on goods and services. For example, a Benevolence Tax - A wealth tax in which the payer can stipulate the benevolent use that can be made of it, from a published list of organizations and purposes which would like to receive Benevolences (new meaning for an old word! - we may update Indulgences next. Another idea.) The sum is extracted from the rich taxpayer by the Taxation Office which forwards it to the organization, to prevent any funny business. The payoff for the Benevolent Taxpayer is honor and glory. (Detailed account available.)
  • Waste-prevention today is as important as production of material products to ensure a country's continued prosperity and positive trade balance. It should be a major source of high-status employment. At present at least 50% of our production is either wasted or barely utilised.
  • Wealth defined as money is not the same as true wealth, or Common Wealth. Increasingly it is accumulated from non-productive sources and even anti-productive international financial dealings, land speculation, futures, derivatives and stock-exchange speculation. It then increases disastrous economic cycles and financial problems of nations.

Work - redefinitions and distinctions are needed.

Paid and unpaid work are both work. Do not ask, 'Do you work,' but 'Are you unwaged?' 'Is your work at home'? Some re-classifications: -

Being paid Just that.

Drudgery Forced activity that may be useful but is dreary and satisfying

Employment Activity that is paid, which may or may not be useful or satisfying

Earning Paid for doing work that is socially beneficial.

Pay distinguished from earnings - between what people are paid and what they actually earn. "The lawyer was paid $2000 per hour - more than he earned. The cleaners were paid $10 hour - less than they earned. The inventor earned $1,000,000 for his edible packaging but was only paid $10,000'

Play Enjoyable activity, which may or may not be useful

Toil Hard labour which may or may not be drudgery or work

Unproductive employment' , an invidious category in which people are paid for useless or antisocial activities.

Unwaged. Someone who does not get paid. A person without a job in the 'workforce' may be unwaged, but not unemployed, because they have plenty of work to do. It can never be said of a housewife that she 'does not work' - but of many supposedly employed people it should be said that they 'don't work much'.

Work Redefined as useful and satisfying activity, that may also be play.

Workwork. Work that doesn't get paid, eg. housework. Q. "Do you work ?"(meaning, do you get paid). A. "No, I workwork".

Work is useful and satisfying, drudgery is dreary.
Wasteful and useless activity is not work, even if people are paid for it.