Re: ECON: The Affluent Society (was Dyson ) (long)
22 Jan 1999 01:42:39 -0000

James Rogers <> wrote:
> At 07:38 PM 1/19/99 -0000, Damien R. Sullivan wrote:

> >But many people now would take a lower growth of the pool in return for a
> >more certain share. And they band together or pressure the government for
> >relief from the vigors of pure competition. Farmers, manufacturers,

> could certainly help. The cliche "expenses rise to meet income" expresses
> a common symptom of this behavior. Most cultures implicitly encourage

A large theme of Galbraith's which I did not go into was the significance of advertising. However, he is not one of those who thinks that advertising by itself warps society and makes the market model irrelevant, that it's a puissant form of mind control. Rather, the fact that ads work at all (at least for demand creation; market share competition is a different matter) indicates that most people have, literally, more money than they know what to do with. The hungry, homeless, and ambitious (whether for a mansion or an early retirement) have no need to be told what they want.

(And not to say that there aren't more useful things we think they could be doing with their money. But _they_ don't know what to do with it, so persuasion by repeated suggestion works.)

He does think that once this process of demand creation starts then market analysis moves to shaky ground, when production is satisfying the wants production has created, but I don't go there now.

(Minimum income societies)

> received its instantiation surplus from the latter. Governments and
> politicians almost never demonstrate the discipline required to amass huge
> surpluses of cash, particularly over a span of decades. Such government
> amassments are almost always plundered long before maturity.

I note that Alaska seems to be trying: putting oil money into a trust fund whose dividends go to the citizens of the state. The dividend's about $1000 dollars, so we're not talking good survival money yet, but I'd think the fund big enough to be tempting. I suppose the real test will be when the oil runs out: raise taxes, or plunder the fund? They'll have to modify the consitution as far as I know, so the people should get some chance to choose.

And I think Norway's done a decent job of using its oil money for high social investment. Better than the gulf states.

As you say, the examples are few. And small. (Also cold. I keep wondering about that.)

But you seem to be saying that there have been a lot more attempts/instances than I knew of. Can you give more examples?

> increased through intelligent investment. I do not think the entire world
> could do this without crumbling into the classic socialism that we love to
> hate; the secret to this model is that individuals external to the society
> effectively foot the bill for your free lunch.

How so? By buying the oil? By providing growth your small country's investments can skim?

-xx- Damien Raphael Sullivan X-)