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Capitalism does not produce Social Optimum

R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,726
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10/23/2012 9:16:53 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
http://www.wimp.com...

One flaw with capitalism is that competition forces a very non-optimum arrangement for the businesses in your community - an inefficiency that will only hurt us more as energy becomes more scarce.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
slo1
Posts: 4,312
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10/24/2012 10:06:35 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 10/23/2012 9:16:53 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
http://www.wimp.com...

One flaw with capitalism is that competition forces a very non-optimum arrangement for the businesses in your community - an inefficiency that will only hurt us more as energy becomes more scarce.

That is a pretty broad stroke. I would think grouping of businesses would be beneficial for energy delivery and a bonus. Secondly, social optimization is relative. If transportation is the main issue, sure. If the competition between value and price of product/services is more valuable to society because transportation is readily available then it is more socially optimized to have direct competition.

I think the take away is that social optimization is relative,unfettered capitalism will sometime produce the best effect and some times it will not.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,726
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10/24/2012 10:14:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
"Socially optimum," I agree, is a broad term. What's "best" for you or me and who has the authority to say? Defining "happiness" would be a similar task.

But upon further examination, one finds that the only hard part, the only subjective part, of defining either concept is establishing the margin at which socially optimum or happiness becomes its opposite. Socially optimal, to me, might be a society where tennis courts are numerous, while to you it might be one in which soccer fields are instead more numerous. Tennis courts and soccer fields can be a source of happiness, or they may not.

But other things are not at the margins and subjective. Starting at the opposite extremes, one could posit that torture is a cause of anti-happiness. When rearing a child, one can rear it with love, or one can neglect the child. Can an argument be made that the happiness of a child does not depend on love or neglect? I'd like to hear someone who's raising a child tell me that happiness is subjective in that way.

As subjective as happiness is at the margin of anti-happiness, it is increasingly objective as you move away from this margin. Social optimum is essentially the same concept, perhaps even based upon happiness itself. My assumption is that the optimum, the happiness of the group of individuals in your community, is based upon the sustainability of their environment.

Environment is everything around you. Your house, your air, your water, and certainly the biological communities in the immediate vicinity. If the animals outside are prospering, then you probably will be as well. Your social environment is also huge. Job, family, and recreational environments, as well as your general community. This is one area of environmentalism that is poorly developed, but I will hopefully be adding a paper to the journals in the next year to help it along.

The Social Optimum, then, involves creating a community (not a nation) in which environmental woes not near the margins, and therefore not subjective, are eliminated in the greatest amounts. This involves, for example, making sure that the products you need to acquire are close to your place of residence and not in inconvenient positions. Why? Because that requires motorized transportation which is hugely energy inefficient. You may not respect the concept of energy cost, but that's just because your electricity needs are being met easily. There are arguments to be made that we are nearing the end of an era of unusually high energy. Our transportation energy need is met with oil, and there is a predictable increase in the price of it as time moves forward. Sure, we can try even more complicated and dirty methods to access a bit more, but there are serious drawbacks and limitations to this that proponents of oil fail epically at denying.

Sustainability, then, must be established upon energy independence. I contend that new, experimental technologies are not our savior, as so many oil proponents hope for in the back of their minds (technology will save us before we destroy ourselves, right?). Wrong. Energy production technologies have not progressed hardly at all for over a hundred years. Most people probably think "fuel cell" is something that engineers came up with recently, not realizing that they've been around for 150 years and only marginally improved upon (give them points for aesthetics at least). Whether it's transportation or electricity production, there simply is not a silver bullet to solving our energy needs. If it's about energy-production (in any capacity), then one of the following MUST be true.

- It is finite, and not reproducible in any practical sense (e.g., oil, coal, natural gas)
- It is a significant pollutant to our natural resources
- It does not produce baseload power (e.g., solar, wind). This means that you can depend on a 24/7 output of high energy - essentially limitless power for any individual. Baseload power, our bread and butter in this country, is produced mainly by coal and nuclear power plants.
- It is not safe (e.g., nuclear)
- It has a negative net-energy cost (e.g., hydrogen, ethanol)
- It depends upon unproven technology/too complex to be practical
- It is only useful locally (e.g., geothermal, tidal)
- It disrupts the ecology around it (i.e., dams)

Basically, creating energy means we pay. We cannot escape the trade-off. Can we overcome it? Yes, but not with brute force - our only recourse is to use as little energy as possible and become efficient, as opposed to trying to produce incredible amounts of it.

Check out Disney's Magic Highway, produced back in the 50s, and observe how we are making the same mistakes now that we did back then.

Now you can tell that, given it was the 50s, this video is well done. They predict video messaging, radar windshields, rear-view cameras, and personal communication devices - but there is one huge error they continue to make! They assume that there will be energy to fuel machines bigger and more powerful than we can imagine. And they assume it will be not only practical, but safe (e.g., the atomic-powered mountain-drilling machine) to use these things... and forget about the other externalities, not the least of which ecological!

There are also serious mistakes about how they predicted the social environment. At just prior to 5 min through, he states that "advances in technology will give us more time for leisure in tomorrow's living." They assumed that technology = leisure. It is quite the opposite. Today's technologies require so much more work to produce, as well as money to pay for, that we are working more and enjoying life less. I thought the American dream was to work one job, let the wife stay home with the kids, and take lots of vacations? We not only assume technology is our savior, but we assume it has no ill-effects on us. And behind it all is our own greed for more of it, pushing us into buying more and more like crack-addicts in denial. We are, in every extreme, as bad as those killing themselves with highly-addictive recreational drugs.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.