Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The things now

The things that are going on now in the world seem truly horrific.

Social reform has been successfully stymied. Capitalism has not come under a general system of regulation -- or of modification, control, adjustment, or governance. (I don't mean governance by the central banks or the WTO, b.t.w.)

Protecting the capitalist system from destruction is in the interest of everyone. There is no group (say, 1,000 or more persons anywhere, like the lawyers, or the Jamaicans, or the English working stiffs) of any size that would really benefit from continued lack of general economic interventions. Maybe the two more extreme of the three Koch bros.--Um, that is two persons!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Economics, with and without politics

                                                Theoretical Statement



Businessmen do things out of necessity. We may distinguish such practicality from the act of doing things out of inquiry, scientific curiosity, or altruism. If a farmer or distributor wants to get a price for a product that he has in bulk, he would probably set up an exchange. According to my recent reading, this is how the stock exchange or commodity exchanges are created, in a city like Chicago, for example. Shipments of grain are coming in. Remember, it is for the purpose of feeding the population. So, that is number one. But eventually everyone needs to know something: what is the best price, what should I be paying? A very practical concern. They are not asking out of scientific curiosity! You can probably do this in a slap-dash way, but it seems quite reasonable someone would set up the first grain exchanges this way. So,  they want to set a price. This so would help the buyers and sellers come together. It beats standing in front of a warehouse or loading dock and guessing, and, similarly, it probably also beats having to wondering whether that person you are dealing with is on the up and up. All this seems reasonable, then. It applies to the setting of prices on the wholesale level, of course, not on the retail level since all the little stores can (in older days) probably work out prices for themselves as word of mouth will serve to travel around town easily. But big importers might hide things, right? I think so. So, an exchange is needed, for whatever reason. Not having one is not desirable. Not having one does not improve the life of a big city. So, the Chicago Board of Trade was created. It proves that in real life trade is regulated. 
     There is no “free market” in the sense of some kind of nativism, or in the sense of a naturalistic human activity in which regulations are never imposed. That is a lie. It is a false tale. It doesn't exist. We always “regulate” economics; so, commodity or other exchanges can serve as an example. And there are other kinds of regulation or rule-setting, too, like government in general!

     It is simultaneously true that the imposition of this kind of regulation can be done by business itself. If instead regulation is by outsiders, they could be motivated by something else: like politics. I also mentioned the topics of inquisitiveness or inquiry, scientific curiosity, and altruism, above. The upshot is that, while there are plenty of ways to regulate, or "intervene," there is an argument there about having that done by the businessmen themselves. Yes, this could be preferable. But what orthodox propaganda economists and other big talkers ("rhetoric") will not tell you, for example, is that the businessmen are the same persons as the persons that work in government. Therefore, we are all human beings in the same society. The established economists just happen not to have thought of that (it would take actually thinking, of course, so that's really difficult for them; and, yes Virginia, that does include university professors----who, I may add, are a dime a dozen).
     So, I got distracted. We were specifying an area of argument. Government does regulate the exchanges to some extent. They do not always do a good job, so perhaps this should be kept to a minimum—but not in the case where regulation by businessmen fails, where there is a big scandal, etc. And those kind of things can happen. The idea that there is a clear demarcation between some kind of natural unregulated human trading activity on the one hand and “government regulation” on the other (and this is the second time I am making the point) is wrong.
     This common idea of regulation and free market as being two different, opposed things, seems to exist as regulation. The idea itself is a kind of regulation, since it exists for the same motive: it is a desire to get into policy and tell persons what to do in their lives. They are regulators, you see. It is an interesting point. They are economists, not businessmen, right? It is thus the worst kind of ideological interest, a fraud, not part of the day-to-day workings of business. So, we must eventually come to the conclusion that these theories of “unregulated” markets or naturalism in the market is fraud pure and simple—nothing more to say. Talking about this garbage (sorry, Mom--I'll wash my mouth out) and subscribing to it are the exact same thing.

Thus we have established that societies do, in fact, regulate the activities they engage in, including, naturally, their market activities. Perverts who talk about "the free market" things are irrelevant, then, and markets are (doh) by nature regulated--so are other things; this is the way life is, including political life under government. Regulation exists within the practice of doing business and our example was (that of) the establishment of the exchanges, which, remember, are regulation. It is done either by business, or government, or others. Some agency (big word, for me). There is an argument for the businessmen themselves to do it (and economists are not businessmen), and also an argument that there will certainly be government involvement. Under some circumstances, the two are separate but the latter factor is inevitable. This is so, if only because the government and the businesses are in a democracy often staffed by the same persons.

Out of necessity, business is always going to be regulating itself. This is true in America, a capitalist society. It regulates, and it is a society. It is also not a utopian paradise or an land of individualism, or free enterprise or something like that. It's a society, that's all. We do not see the idea that it is a specifically or radically individualist society gaining traction. The idea is not having any success at all. It is what some persons want for America but it isn't happening. Maybe that just doesn't work. The economy is successful. Why? Because, I would argue, in America businessmen do a good job of regulating themselves—then let us go further. Now we ask—how? As to this matter (of the how of it, or, sometimes, I say the "why" of it too), it traces back to politics. It traces back to the very founding of the country or nation and the political developments. These developments led to the U. S. Constitution, all of it being an organic process of self-regulation (but political this time you see). Societies regulate and economies regulate. Societies have political institutions. Economics is also impacted by these institutions. Go far enough back, and see: the economic success traces back to the founding political events of the country.