[Marxism] A new analysis is painfully lacking

Barry Brooks durable at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 24 14:11:24 MST 2009

How to create a comprehensive world-left? Find and advocate solutions to
the world's problems. Provide understanding, answers and hope. That must
be based on a new analysis, which is painfully lacking. That new
analysis is our contemporary duty. It helps to just rediscover the old, 
but only to get a lift up in order to make the new.

Forgive me if I repeat some old ideas, but there is some new stuff and 
no one bothered to tell me to shut up yet.


Physical Economics

Although it's not easy, we can change the rules of money economics, but
the rules of physical economics can not be changed. Starting with
knowledge of the things we can't change and the things we want we can
begin to outline a new plan for economics.

Intelligent design of an economic system must be rooted in the study of
physical economics. Money and politics tend to obscure the physical
basis of economics. Physical economics does not rely on money values to
measure wealth. The subject use-value of an item to a person is poorly
predicted by money value in the market.

The need to put a number on everything invites the neglect of many of
the most important subjective considerations. Even when measurement is
possible we might remember that we shouldn't bother to measure the
fire's temperature before deciding to not walk on it. There's no need to
put doubtful numbers on things that defy any kind of measurement beyond
the subjective binary we need to decide whether to do it or not.

Actual numbers are less important than an understanding of the functions
that describe how things work, even though the use of numbers in
examples can help us to conceptualize the functions.

One example of the importance of physical economics is afforded by
consideration of the relation between the rate of production and the
goods-in-service resulting from that production. To provide cars for the
whole population engineers will plan to put enough cars into service,
but what rate of production is possible? Since the rate of production is
limited by many factors, provision of the needed fleet of vehicles will
take time.

If we needed 1000 cars in service, but could only produce them at a rate
of 500 cars/year it would take 2 years to provide the desired fleet.
Then, as the fleet wears out it could be replaced with a lower rate of
production, which depends of the life-span of the cars. If the cars
lasted for 10 years the final replacement rate of production would only
be 100 cars/year.

Any rate of production above the replacement rate will increase the cars
in service. We can have vast wealth even after we reduce our consumption
to sustainable low levels if we start to think about providing a fleet
in service rather trying to increase the rate of production. Instead of
producing more we could make durable items last longer. We would have
more wealth with less consumption and pollution, but the money economy
would suffer.

Waste and war make lots of jobs and money, but they squander physical
wealth. High rates of production and full employment are not indications
of economic health. Economic health depends on our physical wealth. That
depends on the quality and quantity of goods in service. Too bad
that the quantity and quality of goods in service can never be boiled
down to a meaningful number.

Money economics can not always guide us to do the right things, because
often the right things don't make money, and the wrong things can make
us rich. The new economy will need a money economics that supports
physical economics. Where money doesn't directly apply to a situation
the best thing money economics can do is to say out of the way. Physical
externalities don't belong in money economics. We could plan around
"hidden" costs, limit them by law, or we could just refuse to do some
things because they are wrong.

Putting artificial prices on physical externalities is money-ism. It
will not lead to effective planning. Artificial costs will not
effectively guide the building of a better system. The external planning
that money-ism hopes to avoid will still be needed. It would be so much
easier to start with the direct implementation of a plan to build a
sustainable physical economy that makes the money economy its slave.
That would allow leaving prices up to the market and physical economics
up to good judgment.

Barry Brooks

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