While we all soberly ponder the outcome and ramifications of the weekend elections in Greece (more on this later), I wish to share a recent blog post from Mises.org, which as you may know, is a highly esteemed institute of free market thinkers embracing the Austrian school of economics, of which I am a student and subscriber.
Mises author David Gordon provided an insightful critique of a New York Times article titled “Let’s Be Less Productive” written by Tim Jackson, who is a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey.
Mr. Gordon titled his critique “Is Greater Productivity a Danger” on the Mises Daily blog.
A Challenge for the Austrian School of Economics
In small part as a plausible conduit to build a natural bridge to span the ever-growing chasm between dogmatic ideologies of every stripe, and in large part in endeavor to inspire enduring effectual solutions, I have presented an honest challenge to the Mises community that I wish to share for expanded global discourse.
In commenting on Mr. Gordon’s post under the pseudonym Man of Reason, I have proposed a challenge to the Mises community. It is my hope that the Mises community will rigorously debate the challenge and be able to provide a framework of rational free market solutions that might effectually address the challenge.
In kind, I present to you the same challenge here and now.
A Challenge for all Persons of Intellect and Reason
I am in search of rational argument/debate/solutions relative to the Greater Productivity issue:
Before presenting the specific challenge, I wish to state that I believe the principles of Austrian economics to be far superior to any other set of economic principles currently known.
I suspect the vast majority of students and professors of the Austrian school would agree that capitalism as has been practiced in the west for more than 100-years in no way resembles free market capitalism as defined by Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, and the like.
I suspect also that the vast majority of Austrian thinkers would concur that the apparatus created by the state over the past 200 years has from a western capitalistic viewpoint evolved into a leviathan requiring infinite exponential growth for its very survival.
In my view, this condition would not have come about had the politics, philosophy, and economics of the Austrian school been in force for the last two centuries. Making a bad situation worse, Brazil, Russia, India, and China have embraced western statist capitalists as model partners.
As misfortunate as this is, we are where we are and must now determine how best and least destructively to transition toward a more rational means of freely conducting our individual and collective interests both here in the US as well as abroad.
The Essential Resource Driver of Productivity
Though one may argue the amount of fossil fuels remaining and debate further as to when those non-renewable resources will likely drawdown to critical levels, one cannot argue the finite constraints of these resources relative to the parabolic explosion in population and technological advances that these magnificent resources have brought about.
Furthermore, the state, and by association the Global apparatus to which we now find ourselves wholly immersed, is completely dependent upon finite resources that in time, will not be sufficient to satiate the global populations unending human demands for the freedom to pursue their various and limitless definitions of happiness, liberty, and prosperity.
Given that all manufactured goods and services require a rather high percentage of fossil fuels for their production and delivery, at what point in the growing populations limitless demands relative to the finite resources needed to supply them will either war or the acceleration of economic collapse (or both) present themselves as unavoidable consequences void of practical solutions?
The Easy Solution
Obviously, a new renewable set of technologies to replace finite fossil fuels is the easy answer, but for the sake of argument, let us reasonably assume that such a technological revolution will not surface in time to supply the immediate and ongoing (irrational) demands for infinite growth.
It is very easy for me to understand how laissez-faire empowers, supports, and is able to sustain prosperously, and peacefully, a largely undeveloped world with excess resources.
However imbalanced as it may be, amid conditions of a largely developed world with scarce and diminishing resources, it becomes more difficult for me to understand the praxeological tenets that would regulate time preferences (immediate/medium-term/long-term) relative to potential distortions in effectual perception of productive vs. nonproductive development to fit the resource constraints faced in kind.
I arrive at a significant impasse when trying to identify and extract principles of human action beyond the mere animalistic survival-of-the-fittest that would incentivize individuals and populations throughout overdeveloped and undeveloped regions of the world to agree equitably in laissez-faire manner, the way to solve the existential problem of finite resources relative to the trajectory of the current population.
If you suspect my rationale in arriving at this challenge contains flaws, please bring them to my attention for enlightenment. Whether you agree or disagree with this quandary, please make your case and open the challenge for solutions to rigorous debate.
In fairness to all persons of practical reason with sound and legitimate arguments, I have also been a student of J.W. Smith, who is an independent economist with a PhD in Political Economics and founder of the Institute for Economic Democracy.
As presented in his book, Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the Twenty-First Century, although I am in agreement with many of Mr. Smith’s observational accounts of historical episodes that brought the world to its current state, I am not convinced of the efficacy in his blueprint prescriptions to rebalance global economies.
It is a rather long road to serfdom as well as to freedom. We must decide NOW which road to pursue, and make certain throughout the long and arduous process, that we collectively strive (or revolt if we must) to insist upon an effectual political and economic framework from which to steer our fate in the proper direction for current and future generations.
Greece Wins the Race to the Bottom
Amid the current global system of economics, money, and credit, on each of their respective trajectories, no country on earth shall be spared from eventually crossing this rather bitter finish line.
What do Cuba, China, and the US share in common?
Fast approaching the bottom, and likely to come in last, (which is good in such a race) marking the ideological span from socialism to capitalism, we illustrate the flags of Cuba, China, and the US.
Note what each of these “best of the worst” countries has in common. They are ALL Statist Countries, and harbor top-down, command-and-control - exceedingly interventionist political structures that rely exclusively upon coercion and physical force to govern. All are arguably totalitarian governments, including the US.
China and the US are among the last place winners for obvious reasons however; Cuba is likely to keep pace simply because it has been one of the very few countries to successfully fight for and win its right of sovereignty in opting to free itself from the coercive demands of a broadly interconnected global cartel of powerful economic players.
By all accounts, I suspect there is little dispute that Greece will be the first to cross the finish line, and thus become the poster child winner in the worldwide race to the bottom.
I further suspect that if the anti-bailout forces prevail in this weekend election in Greece, it would be reasonable to speculate that such a victory in attempt to free itself at this stage may have arrived a little late in the game, and void of a cogent plan to rebuild. Timing is everything, though we suppose that late and unprepared is better than never.
If the Greece pro-bailout faction prevails, well then they cling to the rest of us downhill racers and just kick the can down the road to add further insult and greater injury at some point in the near future.
This coercive and subtlety imposed race to the bottom must cease, as it will end in inevitable failures such as those occurring in Greece and throughout the balance of the socialist/statist Euro-Zone.
From where the world currently stands, the only rational direction for it to pursue with all expediency and prudence, is to head UP and toward the CENTER at warp factor-9 with Godspeed. Engage already for goodness sake!
In closing, there appears to be a vast multitude common arguments resident between the Austrian school of thought and many of the arguments outlined by J.W. Smith.
If our future is to revert to a bright one, we must at all cost enable free rational thinkers to come together in providing truthful, accurate, objective, and persuasive leadership in moving toward a common ground of equitable and sustainable solutions before it is too late. Time is of the essence.
Additional Resource Links:
- · Peak Oil