[p2p-research] no oil crisis?

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sat Aug 15 19:22:46 CEST 2009

that previous australian video I just mentioned has some interesting policy
prescriptions to avoid overbearing speculation on capital ...

On Sat, Aug 15, 2009 at 11:59 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>> I work more closely now with some people involved in the state of the
>> world
>> forum, which is a stellar collection of minds if I ever saw one,
>> I can tell you that literally 'nobody' believes that oil and food markets
>> work the way you suppose they do,
>> there is very very high level debate, as there is indeed panic about both
>> the havoc that the seesaw in oil and food prices is doing to the system as
>> a
>> whole,
>> this 'market' is so dysfunction that it literally threatens the survival
>> of
>> the system itself, this is no wild leftist imaginings, but the thoughts of
>> important members of the current establishment ...
>> the pristine functions of the market you imagine are  nothing else than
>> myth
>> and ideology,
> Personally, I want to transcend the market, especially because I feel
> (based on Alfie Kohn's work) that most competition is inherently
> destructive, and that a means of production built mainly around competition
> is in that sense a dumb idea. (Although, I can acknowledge a hybrid system
> of some competition and lots of cooperation may have some merits.)
> The reason those prices are going crazy is in part the unchecked
> centralization of wealth.  There are many trillions of dollars sloshing
> around in global financial markets (no transaction tax) moving from
> speculation to speculation and doing some of the damage you outline. It is
> another systematic risk of markets, especially as the physical markets for
> food and manufacturing are now being dwarfed by other markets for services
> and finance.
> That's one reason why, as long as we have markets, maybe we need *enormous*
> taxes? Seriously. Maybe we need to go back to the 94% marginal tax rates the
> USA had after WWII, and also lots of property taxes, as long as we have a
> market, with the money going mostly back to the people as a basic income. If
> people don't want taxes, then we need to reduce the role the market plays in
> human affairs. Note, this is completely opposite to the current dominant
> sentiment in the USA, but since the USA is going off a cliff economically,
> maybe that just shows the popular sentiment for low taxes promoting growth
> or societal happiness is a fallacy? Markets can't function well if wealth is
> too concentrated; I've seen others (economists) say that, and it is
> essentially what you are saying here.
> So, what we are seeing is a reflection of how easy it is to solve resource
> problems because, essentially, they are so trivial that in one way, the
> market doesn't care about them or take them seriously anymore. :-) For a
> sign of how trivial these basic problem are, in the USA about 2% of the
> workforce is involved with agriculture, and about 12% (and dropping fast)
> with manufacturing (some imports happen too, granted). Anyway, clearly only
> a fairly trivial amount of the workforce is involved with primary
> productivity.
> And even there, much of what is produced (beef, snowmobiles) is of dubious
> value. So, I'd guess we could support everyone in the USA with a good life
> (mostly vegetarian) with maybe 3% of the workforce (plus maybe some more
> (1%?) for core services like medicine, which could be more peer-ish given
> the interenet).
> So, all the rest of the economy is "fluff" in that sense, mostly about
> guarding (like grocery store cashiers) or dealing with the negative
> consequences of the Western diet. But, it is fluffy enough to hide the real
> stuff. And that 94% of the economy we don't really need is the dog wagging
> the tail is the really essential part of the economy. So, yes, I'll agree
> that is a really dysfunctional situation. So, yes, I'll agree with those
> others in that sense.
> Now, that is obviously a "market failure". So, the government needs to step
> in with enormous taxes and redistribute those trillions of dollars of wealth
> to make the market function again. Printing money is another way to have
> such a tax via inflation, though who exactly gets hurt there is a tricky
> subject. Or, if that is impossible politically, then I agree that people
> need to create non-market alternatives, like a gift economy, a shared
> commons of ideas and other resources, or local subsistence production, or
> some mix.
> Smart countries, like Singapore, see this, and even without much taxes,
> ensure that core services like food production can continue to function for
> national security reasons, which means interfering with the market somehow
> (some interferences are worse than others, perhaps). Again, if so little of
> the economy is really needed these days with all our modern technology to
> supply food and other basics, it does not take much taxes to ensure the
> infrastructure is in place to produce them under any circumstances.
> It is only extreme free market fundamentalist places like the USA that are
> at great risk of starvation and so on. It is both ironic, and
> understandable, that a place like the USA so at the mercy of the free market
> (grain supplies have been run down from years to days due to the Bush Admin
> policies)
>  "Lowest Food Supplies in 50 or 100 Years: Global Food Crisis Emerging"
>  http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5660.cfm
> also spends the most on "national security". That is because rather than an
> *intrinsic* security of a well functioning infrastructure, the USA is
> relying on *extrinsic* security of soldiers to defend an indefensible
> infrastructure for oil and food. So, we have "Brittle Power".
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power
> Unfortunately, if the USA implodes, it has so many nuclear weapons and
> plagues and such that it could take the rest of the world with it. :-(
> Or as I said here:
> """
>  What am I up to with that PU education myself? Besides being a part-time
> stay-at-home Dad, I'm busy these days in my "free" time (along with many in
> the world, such as these people: http://www.reprap.org/ :-) attempting to
> help take down the intellectual scaffolding of global capitalism one myth at
> a time in a controlled safe manner where no one gets hurt, same as these
> people do when demolishing physical structures past their usefulness:
>    http://www.controlled-demolition.com/
>    "And behind each successful project stands the CDI team - a talented
> group of professionals with decades of experience dedicated to absolute
> perfection on each new project."
>  See, there are people whose whole careers are devoted to the safe
> demolition of historic structures. And this essay is not intended in any way
> to defend anyone who intentionally destroys structures in a way intended to
> hurt people. ...
>  At some point, after you are done building a new building (or a new
> post-scarcity society) the scaffolding comes down. :-) But unlike the easier
> time CDI has with demolishing vacant structures, it's much harder if people
> (including PU alumni) still mistake that competitive capitalist scaffolding
> for the post-scarcity building full of abundance the scaffolding surrounds
> (and likely always did. :-) And I'm definitely hoping for that intellectual
> scaffolding's removal in a controlled way, not a big crash like these where
> often people get hurt: :-(
>    "Images of catastrophically collapsed scaffolds"
>    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=scaffolding+collapse
> """
> There are no doubt other reasons for the problems the USA is causing.  As
> one person wrote to me (given I had referenced Bush's Lyme disease that
> might have come from an accidentally released weaponized version): "I
> sometimes wonder with what (mentally and physically) the neocons are also
> infected. Historically, most if not all rulers have been infected with
> insecurity, a compelling need to dominate from a basis of power & greed, a
> "need" or compulsion to "get even" or to show those under them something -
>  or to at least impress someone some how. The many STDs with which many
> world leaders have been documented or reputed to carry (and transfer) may
> explain some of their anger, and wishes to create suffering upon their own
> sycophant subjects first, and then the world."
> An interesting idea about STDs and centralized leadership. Maybe that is
> another reason a peer economy makes sense -- it does not centralize STDs in
> a small number of active politicians who are contracting them and then
> making political decisions?
> Still, let's be very clear. Pricing is part of a rationing and control
> system. Just because a control system fails (say, a computer in a car) does
> not mean the rest of the system has any physical problems. Even if the car
> won't start, it is still there, and could be repaired by replacing one tiny
> component (an ideology of free market fundamentalism in this case).
> I wrote more on alternative approaches here:
>  http://www.pdfernhout.net/post-scarcity-princeton.html
> """
>  Here is a sample meta-theoretical framework PU economists no doubt could
> vastly improve on if they turned their minds to it. Consider three levels of
> nested perspectives on the same economic reality -- physical items, decision
> makers, and emergent properties of decision maker interactions. (Three
> levels of being or consciousness is a common theme in philosophical
> writings, usually rock, plant, and animal, or plant, animal, and human.)
>  At a first level of perspective, the world we live in at any point in time
> can be considered to have physical content like land or tools or fusion
> reactors like the sun, energy flows like photons from the sun or electrons
> from lightning or in circuits, informational patterns like web page content
> or distributed language knowledge, and active regulating processes
> (including triggers, amplifiers, and feedback loops) built on the previous
> three types of things (physicality, energy flow, and informational patterns)
> embodied in living creatures, bi-metallic strip thermostats, or computer
> programs running on computer hardware.
>  One can think of a second perspective on the first comprehensive one by
> picking out only the decision makers like bi-metallic strips in thermostats,
> computer programs running on computers, and personalities embodied in people
> and maybe someday robots or supercomputers, and looking at their
> characteristics as individual decision makers.
>  One can then think of a third level of perspective on the second where
> decision makers may invent theories about how to control each other using
> various approaches like internet communication standards, ration unit tokens
> like fiat dollars, physical kanban tokens, narratives in emails, and so on.
> What the most useful theories are for controlling groups of decision makers
> is an interesting question, but I will not explore it in depth. But I will
> pointing out that complex system dynamics at this third level of perspective
> can emerge whether control involves fiat dollars, "kanban" tokens,
> centralized or distributed optimization based on perceived or predicted
> demand patterns, human-to-human discussions, something else entirely, or a
> diverse collection of all these things. And I will also point out that one
> should never confuse the reality of the physical system being controlled for
> the control signals (money, spoken words, kanban cards, internet packet
> contents, etc.) being passed around in the control system.
>  The above is somewhat inspired by "cybernetics".
>    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics
> """
> So, the market and fiat dollars is just one possible control system among
> many. It has its good points and bad points in different contexts. You are
> validly pointing to a fundamental weakness -- the fluff in our society is in
> charge of the critical part. So, we either need to spread the wealth around,
> highly regulate that part of the market (the US has tried, but done it
> badly) or we need to take our infrastructure out of the market (some
> government planning like Singapore, or peer alternatives and local
> production, or some other way). Or some mix of all those things.
> So, what is fair to say is, in a theoretical market, with wealth roughly
> evenly shared, the market responds to resource problems faced by everyone.
> In a real market we have right now, with wealth heavily concentrated, the
> market only responds to the needs of a few key individuals, and they spend
> most of their money on fluff. :-) So, everyone else may starve amidst
> plenty. Or, in other words, "Let them eat virtual cake." :-(
> I'll have to look more at the rest of what you posted, which will take some
> time. :-)
> I've posted a tangentially related note I wrote elsewhere about die-offs
> and carrying capacity and my disagreement with that premise.
> --Paul Fernhout
> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
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