2155. Some side thoughts while COVID and Climate are central

Several thoughts

  • why do we have to have corporations? If we didn’t have a procedure for incorporations society would be simpler. Economics treats a corporation as a single person, a rational “agent”. Is it rational to seek monopoly or to trash the environment? Maybe without corporations we could avoid the super rich and have much more local innovation and interesting communities.

 

  • Speaking of whom…. It seems amazing that economics has not come up with a way of more fairly distributing the gross earnings of a corporation among capital, workers, managers, inventors and on to schools that educated the workers and customers so they could be exploited, and the streets and wires and land, even the earth itself? A distribution that measures their contribution. It is impossible to imagine that Tim Cook made that much of a contribution, or that Jeff Bezos alone is responsible for Amazon. Society provided him with the workers customers and market in which he became the major player. Someone had to be the largest, that is given by logic, and the product of society, not of Jeff.

 

  • I was zoomed into our country supervisors meeting last week. There was a report by an economist on the future of the county economy. His presentation was built around supply, demand, regulations, percentage unemployed, housing starts. The underlying logic was how to return those numbers to “normal”. There was no crack in the presentation where raising the question of trying something new could enter. There was no mention of the climate change issues nor of the plight of the bottom part of the county’s economy. It was pure econ 101 .

 

  • Background: during WW2 we had full employment, including for the first time many women who worked the factories as the men were drafted. With lots of constraints on consumption, saving went up, so at the end of the war, with Europe destroyed, the US was rich, employed and ready to spend. This rapid growth during the war and afterwards led to new orders of complexity (McNamara was head of the project to manage the one million parts in a B29 bomber – precomputer)The middle class grew as the communication links in the new complexity. Corporations made a deal with the Unions – keep production going with no strikes and we will pay well. The arrival of the computers quickly undermined that middle class function of communication. The result has been a reversion to the prewar condition of wealthy owners and poor workers with a little need for a middle class (which was mainly sole proprietor professionals and small shopkeepers)

 

  • The economy is part of society, not the other way around. Capitalism (where major decisions are made by money not votes) should be for the good of the larger society which supports business, rather than society being the hunting ground for the rich. Can this be done, or is it the nature of society that we stuck forever with a greedy elite and a revolutionary under class?

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