Saturday, December 31, 2011

Politics and Paul

     A "Pan-African" is an individual that enthusiastically identifies as black. Cain isn't one. But, when he was accused of being a sex pervert, he quickly reverted to a kind of folksy, and rather more Afro-centric, speech. He may not be Pan-African but he did sound more populist.
     But he does not seem to be a populist, either. He is about business. OK, then, what in tarnation is he? And what is up wit' da folksy speech patterns, ever so conveniently placed on the tongue? Cain sounds to me like a man in the practice of putting on the hat that is convenient. (See NYRB for the story of his high school music career which may, or may not, be relevant to our narrative.)
     Obama did this. He started out talking more like an elitist. THen he changed it, and picked up a lot more votes -- simply by playing it more folksier. A few vocal inflections made all the difference. Come to think of it, Paul Lawrence Dunbar used vernacular in the 1890s! A Pan-African is someone who is really committed to something: he is black; he is definitively not white. Playing on one's race for policical expediency is a cheap gimmick. This seems the essential gimmick, a very subtle, embedded way they both play on race to get elected. Obama is the Harvard man. He may have more credentials for being a leader. He is obviously more cosmopolitan. Despite that, it would seem to be the case that there are gimmicks, in both cases. What that shows is a certain shallowness.
     Of all the candidates, the most genuine of the candidates seems like Ron Paul. Everyone else is phony compared to him. So, Paul has the genuineness. That's undeniable. The man is not a fake. He sits there believing in something; and on those core beliefs he doesn't falter.

(Slightly re-written post-Shari's comment)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Comfortable Places of the World

In most (not all) places that one goes when one is out in public there is the implicit idea, an idea there, hanging in the air (the atmospheric ideology), telling us the leisure and comfort of life is to be found in the private sphere, the "private sector." Generally, of course, persons do find leisure and comfort in their private areas. Of course, yes, they do. They find leisure and comfort in private, and normally that means, quite simply, the home. But not in this world! "private" meant at home.  Of course now it means the "private" -- "business" -- sector. Now which wag came up with that? The "private" business sphere. But what is business? -nobody knows, dahling, nobody knows.

     Anyways at the bar (Kitty O'Shea's to be exact) at the Hilton Hotel on south Michigan is where I am scratching this onto a white piece of paper so it is definitely some privately-owned business that is your only shot for finding out some comfort, leisure. And you know, they are so friendly in those places. I want to open a cafe' called "The Burned Bean" where everything is burned and awful. And the wairtress chews gums and says nastily, "what'll it be, bud?"
     So, the only place left to go for comfort, outside of your home, if you have one, is yet another world called "private."

     Americans as a people are known for being "friendly." In fact, it is as if the private sphere, the business sphere, were their own public property or transplanted on top of it like a fried egg. They are obsessed with kindness and niceness and comfort to the extent of sometimes forgetting to shave. But these are our folks. I'm so loyal. We no longer find comfort in our own family quarters. Where do Americans find it? They thirst for it in commercial establishments, which somehow seems kind of inside-out. This is somewhat disturbing. How can you pay money for that? How can there be "comfort food"?

     But wait: the money thing is important. In that earlier part of the timeline, of a mercantile, commercial society, they find comfort at home but that means where money is not spent. But now, the italics have turned upside down, and, they do it in public (Ooooops...private) places where a latte is four dollars, a hotel room 2 or 300. That is what is "comfortable"?

     I dunno.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I keep writing "sould." I think that was, or "Soul'd Out" was the title.. of an R&B album, once, some time back.

OK. Here goes the post. It's about the tendency to organize society, or to favor the idea of it, which is perhaps a little different.

     Some persons may in different ways like organizational things and some persons may see an increase in this aspect of life. The conservative view points to this. They talk about "liberals," or "big government."
     And  that's just who we are talking about-----those guys. The aim of such persons is to increase the organizedness of stuff.
     Socialists (whatever they are) do generally advocate more organization.
     But it is hard to see how we can intentionally make society more, or less, organized. Whether we have a position on this --- whether we want the society to be more, or less, organized we should accede to the fact that it is organized.
      Some may want more of that organization.
      Well, I do not say that. I am more saying that like societies have organization --- this exists --- let's admit it! And ours should be called "capitalist," or capitalism. Therefore it is a capitalist society. It is a capitalist-ic society if you like. I am cool with either of those two formulations: capitalist, capitalistic --- either of those two are fine. And so are you, if you are from Alaska and your name starts with "P."
     So, capitalism is the form of "social organization." Got it? It is not only a formal, or business system though. Oh no. It is organized on the cultural level, the social, informal level. And of course it is also organized on a more formal level, the business level. So, you have a society and it is both formal and informal, cultural and "economic" or "market." It has business and politics and society. Society works as a whole. It cannot work any other way. Any attempt to make it work any other way is doomed; these are not choices that the Bank of International Settlements can make (those people are fools; I do not even pay any attention to that).
     There may, I will accede, be a variety of subjective viewpoints and approaches to this matter of society and whether it should be the main topic for conversation. But here we are speaking (openly) about that, and I admit it. We are discussing the matter of human social organization, or society.
     We are more and more integrated, globalized, or "interdependent." The social basis has been capitalism, or has been expressed through capitalism. And the interdependence has been increasing ---- with globalization.
     Capitalism, i.e. business, needs to be guided (when I say "guided" I am thinking "regulated," so this is the pro-regulation or "mixed economy" position) in ways both formal and informal
     But (to change the subject a little) how does the system exist? How does it "actually" exist? It exists in cultural terms, and, in cultural terms, it exists as a system where action, or freedom, is expressed in terms of the commercial activities of work and entrepreneurship. At the same time, in the system as it is now, the actual qwuantity of money/goods is increasing all the time. That spells trouble! It means that capitalism no longer supports social values; conversely, social values no longer support capitalism. The essential "socialist" core of capitalism is torn out. The system loses its heart. The system becomes "mere money-making" ---- a hollow, empty ritual.
     When capitalism loses its soul we all die.

(Greider's simple phrase, "Soul of Capitalism," tends to come to mind lately)

Hunch (pt. 2)

Why are persons willing to ignore their inner hunch? Why do sales and discounts cause them to erase their doubts?

It is because the persons for whom it works are feeling spiritually incomplete, and persons who are feeling spiritually incomplete (i.e. neurotic) are willing to settle for some compromise.

That's the reason. All those persons are spiritually incomplete. I've got to go now. There's a sale at K-Mart

Icelandic Fisherman portrayed by Lewis

     He wasn't a loser. He was practically the top fisherman/boat captain on the hunk of land called "Iceland." Ahoy Mate! Iceland, relatively speaking, is closer to the U. S. of America so that must be why American banks intelligently chose him to act as middleman for their loans to Argentina.
     Back in Iceland (brrrr....) there is a professional fisherman who became a currency speculator.

      Michael Lewis ("Boomerang") is a good writer. I'm not kidding. There are a lot of nutty things going on in the sphere of money and the social lives of those who live financially.
     Lewis does ask a few good questions.

     It seems to me that we expend an awful lot of wasted energy pretending that the world makes sense. Of course, in the end it does ---- it must. In the meantime, it's crazy.
     There are a lot of irrational persons in the world. Some may be psychotic, particularly some in business and finance. I do believe this. I think we have to quote Paul McCartney or John Lennon, now, that "the banker never wears a mac." (That's 'raincoat' but in Cockney or Liverpoolesque or something.)

     Literary critic Edmund Wilson criticized "mere" money-making, and did so a long time ago ---- summer of 1929, in a letter. (the phrase "mere money-making" occurs towards the end of "letters, vol. 1", and he was one of the top critics of his day so what more do you want out of me?)

     We need to be more helpful. We do. All we do is criticize persons. Or, if they are not so bad ---- if we are not criticizing the hell out of them ---- we are patting them on the back. Ever notice  this? We actually become friends with them! We are telling them, "you are great entrepreneurs," "You are 'clever' financiers," said the president.
     All that great finance stuff was done already, by the Rothschilds, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. So, let's get over it.

     He wasn't a loser, he was one of the youngest fishing boat captains in Iceland ---- a master fisherman. What kind of guy was he? He would be a very competitive one. In the country (is it really named that?) named "Iceland" (ha ha ha) what kind of person goes into commercial fishing? He would be entering a field of thousands of other healthy males competing for whatever posts there may be, on the piers, or boats, or whatever it was. In the book there is a description of fishing. Whatever fish are extracted from the ocean, going all out, in all weather, as aggressive protestant-ethic persons with maximal competitive work ethic, these animals even after all these processes are only as good as the market fish price. That fish flesh is at the mercy of the world market.
     Is it really such a jump, after all? ---- fisherman to hedge fund? Is that as weird of a transition as it sounded like it was at first? It is practically the same thing. It does have a weird side ---- but, that's capitalism. Capitalism is weird, at least in the form it now exists in.

                                      part two

     Still, I always say that capitalism is what we have ---- this is our system. Regulation is something that should be considered. It should be a normal part of the system. (We always end up regulating in any case, of course. It should always be considered.) It is wrong to say it is the exception to the rule ---- "the" rule? Right. To a rule that someone cooked up, that a so-called "conservative" created out of thin air. Yes, that is what they did. They cooked up a really weird theory, they did it on purpose. And, we accepted it.
     Capitalism is weird yet it is our system. Capitalism is always hybrid. It will always have two parts. This is something we must learn.
     Regulation is hard work but that does not mean there is anything inherently wrong with it. It is one side of hybrid capitalism, and its natural complement is the other side, which is called non-regulation, the "free market" or the dynamic of markets. These two sides have been inherent in capitalistic phenomena for a long time. They have both existed, together, for about two hundred years. The decoupling process has been ideological, and it is a mistake. You should never just look at one side of capitalism and not the other. Ths is because capitalism is a hybrid. It (the system itself) won't work otherwise. "Regulation" -- unlike Joe Wilson's wife -- is "fair game." It should always be under consideration. When we have to regulate, we do. 
     This doesn't mean it is easy. It's a lot harder than uttering free-market claptrap. You have to pay attention to what you are doing. You should not be distracted by that conservative theoretical claptrap. You would need to ignore this stuff that is always coming in your ear; you really must concentrate totally on how to regulate. To do this, you do not concentrate on how not to regulate, get it? You accept the responsibility of regulating; you use a lot of skill doing so. 
     And, in light of this, I think we can see just about what it is that happened. A gimmick is always an easier thing, always the easier thing, right? The simplistic and dead wrong "conservative" version/vision of the lazy boneheads won and took sway. (Assuming we have employ the best persons at the job, that job of governing capitalism should not be so hard that it could not be done.)
     Conservatives always seem to want to see only one side, you know. And you know I am getting sick of this crap. They seem to make less sense every year. At one time communism met its fate. It was blown up. It was blown out of the water but at that time it made more sense than the sense capitalism makes now. In the last period of Americana, let's say since the fifties ----- forces called "conservative" (I would have preferred "malevolent nitwit") have done the worst thing they could have done, and made the worst choice of all. They made the worst choice they could have made, they made the perfect storm. That is what I am saying the so-called "anti-regulation" view (or "view," and I add the quote marks because, you see, it does not even make sense, I mean semantically, or grammatically, logically, or any other way). Theirs is the worst argument, the perfect storm. Their "view"? Their point? We should never regulate. Never, ever? Do you really mean  that, Milton?
     The stance we always see from them is one that says only one side is right. But conservatives do this all the time. Nevertheless, when it comes to capitalism, they are wrong about it: dead wrong.

Comic T.V. Movie Hulk Strip Literature Review

     If they do not like something, they kill it. That's how scared they are of themselves, of their own worthless, undedicated lives. They surround the mystery of rebellion or disobedience with whatever they have that seems to defend their own ---- Walls to keep out truths. Some truths.
     And what do they love? I'll give you the answer: They love themselves ---- And only themselves. This movie illustrates that all the power in San Francisco cannot keep man from himself.

                                     ("Incredible Hulk" movie)

     Mankind is ignorant. Yet mankind has "civilization." In whose hands is civilization?
     The military man is impressed with civilization not for the right reasons, not for its civilizing influence, but rather for the power that lies within civilization. He himself is in doubt; he is confused. He says he has morals and ideas but he reaches for a bigger gun. The general in the movie just wants to blow up everything. Everytime Hulk gets bigger he too gets bigger.
     His power does him no good, because although he sits in (original wording: sits astride) civilization, he will never know what (any of it) is worth.
     Nothing except civilization has power and yet civilization itself does not have power if it cannot comprehend the greater purpose for which it was created. Civilization is a "shell." We find ourselves within a shell.
     When we find ourselves living within a shell we have to create some meaning within there. Civilization (or, for example, "the friendly confines" of Wrigley Field) is useless to those who cannot find value within the confines or parameters of the container they are living inside of. Those particular members of the human species are merely stunned, they are confused. And they gravitate towards fortifying the wall of their enclosure. This goes on, even as for them, there isn't really much there that is worth all this effort of protecting. And this is how the police and soldiers, and at the higher level, judges for example (who cannot reason their way through a case or put a crime into its context and seem to think it proves some kind of principle to give a weird and foolish Illinois governor fourteen years in prison for being, basically, weird and foolish), and generals, at the pinnacle of power, act based on confusion and fear.
     The future of civilization may well hang on a thread --- and that thread is the ability to project some kind of decency, some kind of mercy --- into the uppermost reaches where the elites dwell.

     Now, if Obama would only stop those drones...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Intuitive hunch (I am being cheated)

The customer has a continual sense of "I am being cheated." He has this little voice somewhere. He has this subtle feeling: "I am getting swindled." It is just there as a part of the person's psychology. He has a hunch.
     Now comes the counteractive force. it is counteracted by 10% off, 50% off, special discounts for YOU, etc.

     That sounds pretty simplistic and crass, so why does it work?

(see tomorrow's post)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Markets, People and Wllm. Greider

My central complaint is with the narrowness of their value system rather than the financial mechanisms. With a few important exceptions, the agents of capital operate with dedicated blindness to capital's collateral consequences, an indifference to the future of society even as they search for the future's returns. The capital system does not authorize financial agents to think about such things and may well penalize them if they do. Yet finance capital shapes and polices the "social contract" in America far more effectively than the government, which has largely retreated from that role. (Greider)

"Dedicated blindness". Boy, I love it. That describes the whole society today, where we are seemingly encouraged to let machines make the decisions with no role for our more human side, or "soul." So, if someone else gets control over "capital," who should that be? What we usually think, in the economics discourse, is that "the market" should make those decisions. As Greider correctly notes, only a few persons in the financial world are making the big decisions. "Nobody elected them, but their exalted position in American life is reflected in their incomes."  [full disclosure: OK, it's "The Nation," 2003]
     But what is "the market," in this situation? That is the question, because as Greider points out, "the market" is a select group of persons in the case of big financial decisions, not the broader mass of humanity. There lies the crux, the contradiction. It is between "markets" and "people." There should be a rough correspondence.


Here is something I got in my inbox today. It is telling me to sign a petition but I didn't do it. Instead, I am simply leaving everything the way it is now:
(the email I received below)
We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.
However we’re worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act — which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online — will undermine that framework.
These two pieces of legislation threaten to:
  • Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;
  • Deny website owners the right to due process of law;
  • Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and
  • Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.
We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. [then there are a list of signatories like Ariana H, etc.]

Looks like I'd better explain my reasoning, huh?
Well, here goes: our society is supposed to based on balance, a balance achieved through competing interests. That is the whole theory of the market. But if we continually "intervene" in things before they play out there is no balancing process. We can only act after the effect has already registered.
     If you pre-empt the processes that are objectively "trying" to get themselves played out then you will never get the result that creates a stable or viable society. The actual balancing-out process is altered.
     For example, I have a very small (in readership) blog. I never check the readership anyways, but I don't think anybody much reads it or whatever. So, let us say that this new law is not good. Let us say it is so bad that even my little home-made blog gets shut down because I quoted somebody or I copied something and I did not pay royalties or whatever these persons in favor of the bill are trying to do.
     That is the cause. Me and thousands of others would then know just how bad this world really is, and we would finally really do something.
     But what if the cause were never created? What if some "compromise" bill got passed and we never got to experience what these persons who want the internet regulation bill wanted us to experience? Then we would never know how bad their ideas really are.

     It is not like everybody will die if the SOPA bill gets passed. Therefore, since we will not die immediately, we have to let social processes play out. You should not interfere with it. When everybody's blog gets shut down by this bad law, then we might really see some social activism!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Systemic Failure of the Economics Profession

"The global financial crisis has ...also made clear a systemic failure of the economics profession. Over the past three decades, economists have largely developed and come to rely on models that disregard key factors...    ...In our hour of greatest need, societies around the world are left to grope in the dark without a theory."

reproduced from
"The Financial Crisis and the Systemic Failure of Academic Economics" - -

This agrees with my views. And it was written by a bunch of academics. Of all people!

The authors further state: "The implicit view behind standard equilibrium models is that markets and economies are inherently stable and that they only temporarily get off track."
That is the wrong thing to be assuming.
What is inherently stable (what is assumed) is not markets and economies. Some more basic factor needs to be found, like "the world," or "an established human culture." The search is on for the assumptive entity, the assumed, the basis on which profit and loss and everything else are balanced. We need to assume that "the world" is stable, that is justified because, for  one thing, without a stable world there is no investigation and no investigator and nothing to investigate. The world can be assumed to be stable, because, if it were not, you the researcher would not be here, supported by an institution, doing your work.
     Or, for example, an individual human biological organism must be stable in order to function properly. Something like that can be posited as being stable, otherwise there cannot be any theories. We never speak of the relationship of (what the authors are calling) "markets and economies" to the assumptive physical world. What then is the relationship of "markets and economies" to the assumptive physical world? "Markets and economies" so to speak are overlaid upon that reality, which is to say the reality of the world or of the human beings in it. The question then becomes: what is economics, and how is it overlaid upon the world?
     Therefore, the economists who collaborated on this paper are right in general. I agree about the failure of the field of academic economics.  The academics are right, too, because something indeed has to be automatically OK. But it is the world or the human being that has to be automatically OK, and that has to be the value system to which capitalism, or, in a sense, "economics," is compared. Economics cannot merely be compared to itself --- and then backed up by some kind of math. When we presume to study "economics" we are missing something. The new task is made a bit more clear: what must be investigated is the relationship between "the economy" and "the world." The focus needs to change. The field of Economics is misinformed, misdirected.
     Thus, the very most basic assumption of "the economists" is wrong because this academic clique never places markets or economics into any context, there is never the context of human reality. Supposing that they did, there would be lots of things to consider, beyond any quick statement for me to make here. But...
     The first thing that occurs to me offhand is that they should consider that trade is interactive, and human reality is social. Economists never consider that social aspect. But economics is something that humans do as social beings.
     How would that be a new kind of economics? Well, what did Weber ask? He asked: why did Europeans allow capitalism to be a part of their world? Why did society accept capitalism? And capitalism also displaced something. It has, again, a context. It displaced feudalism (or something like that). What made capitalism as a system not only acceptable but able to dislodge other systems, earlier ones that the societies had as their earlier systems?
     How is it that people allowed capitalism to be overlaid onto their societies? This is the great matter of the how and why of the system. How did a system characterised by the twin features of capitalistic economics and the people's right to vote, or democracy, replace feudalism or the aristocratic systems or whatever I should call the pre-capitalist world? It seems to me that that is a very great question.

And as for these academics, they even agree with me on another thing, the idea of scarcity:

"This failure has deep methodological roots. The often heard definition of economics—that it is concerned with the ‘allocation of scarce resources’—is short-sighted and misleading."

My reasoning -- I don't know what theirs was -- which is to say as to the scarcity thing -- is that if capitalism is good at anything, it is good at producing what McKibbenn his bood called MORE. If capitalism does anything, it produces more and more, never stopping, and not only that it does so at lower and lower costs.  
     That does not that sound like scarcity. 90% of economics today deals in things like software and coffee concoctions. Why does standard, neo-Classical economic theory always get caught in contradictions like these? The easy answer is that they made up the wrong thing. The thing they compose is the wrong theory. (What are they going to do, get mad at me?)
     What you would need to find is causality. Why do people work and live in a capitalist society every day? Where does business profit come from?  (Scarcity?!!!?? Maybe a rabbit out of a hat, huh?) The question is: Why does a person not make money one year and go on to make money the next year? The person goes from hunting to agriculture, then from agriculture to the city. Where is the cause for the quest for money to get itself satisfied in the capitalist system? Why should that work?, and, where is the underlying principle?

Sounds like that is a statement of the basic question of the study of economics...indeed...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chicago Tribune

 Hil:  Russians "deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted."
"Putin, in turn, complained that [Hil] Clinton had denounced Sunday's elections as fraudulent before she [Hil]had reliable info."

     The elections were either fraudulent or, they were not.

     In the course of history going back to the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, or wherever you want to choose as the beginning point of the trend, the trend towards liberal or democratic methods occurs only because this is all that works, not because of ideas or ideals. It does not occur because of opinions. It works because nothing else will. These are the only methods that will work. So, the practices we think of as modern, liberal, democratic - what we call modernity - work not because of opinions or ideas, but because there is nothing else.
     What is functioning is not the example of someone's clever ideology. You can see pics: Hillary speaking and Putin sitting, or speaking, in the Chicago Tribune, on page 20, Dec. 09. Both photos are exceedingly well-executed by the photography departments (Reuters and Novosti). Both persons are dingbats. Democracy wins. Get it, Pootsky?
     What does Pootsky think he is going to prove? What does he think his is going to get?, -immortal life?

William Mullen in the Tribune

"As charges of greed and self-interest fly in these hyperpartisan times,
humans might do well to look to rats for lessons in kindness and caring.” 

Hey. That is the kind of pithy writing I like to see in a reporter, and it is the opening paragraph of an article it's in a major urban newspaper about a study, done at U. of C., that shows that rats have pro-social (helping) behavior. 

So do humans. 
It is just hard to see it. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Debt Trap: Education Dream Deferred

Today I bumped into a (less-well known) newspaper. Here is something stemming from that encounter:
NEW YORK CITY - Pamela Brown recently added her name to the "pledge of refusal." By doing so, she agreed not to repay her student loans----if 999,999 other Americans sign the pledge, too.
   Ms. Brown, a graduate student at the New School here, has more than $100,000 in education debt, which she's long planned to repay after graduating and finding a job. Like many students and recent graduates, however, she's come to see higher education as a promise gone sour, an ever-deepening pit of debt.
(reproduced from "The Chronicle of..." LVIII, 15)

It comes down to how easy it really is to make it. We live in a world that promises a lot of stuff. The world promises everything. What you need is money. So, if persons are allowed and encouraged to borrow in order to get into that dream, they may take the loan.  The bottom line... ...ha ha ha... that banks are doing this as part of their business. This is true. I experienced it myself,when I took out a student loan. This was a frictionless effortless feat on my part. All the bank needed was to have a form filled out. The agreement was between the bank and the governmental agency guaranteeing the loan, not trust between the bank and myself. As for myself, I knew of course that I was taking on the responsibility to pay it back. But this was only my own interior knowledge. No one discussed it with me, or suggested I reconsider what I was doing. It was about going to the bank and having them wire the money to the school. It is a general truth about banking and the economy that profitable loans are lucrative for them. They are perfectly willing to make loans if they will profit. So, the loan was no problem, but, in a broader sense, there was a promise floating around. For my part, I thought I was going to become an economist (I remember - I actually believed that!) and I couldn't do the mathematics. Not only ---- I also quickly figured out that the theory, called "neo-Classical microeconomics," was wrong. (period) No one else seems to have figured that out, but, hey, what kind of grade would you get if you did? Well, remembering all this really make me want to yawn; it is just such a waste of my time.

     We promise everybody everything...
               ...but is the world really what it claims to be?

In yet another article in the same newspaper, pollster Yankelovitch is quoted as saying that universities like Penn State and Davis (U.C.) are "examples of institutions that seem to be concerned with themselves rather than their students. That's the rap against the banks". [my emphasis] Well put, Mr. Yankelovich. Just to add a further contour to it: what exactly is the "self" of a university? It is the business aspect of the institution. Before the universities developed this "business model," which they developed in the early nineties, according to Mary Evans, i.e. at least in Great Britain it occurred then, the university would have been deemed psychotic if the university believed it had its own interests, separate from that of its student body. So, what happens when we add the "business model"? We get a third person into it? Deleuze calls it "object-ism." (See "What is Philosophy," a weird little thing I started reading yesterday by this French individual and did not like at first but now I think I am getting it, although  my application of the object concept is quite different than his is in the book----but, I think Deleuze would've loved that.)  

Also: the first page of the December 2, 2011 edition (the edition under consideration) of this less famous newspaper has good pictures. When I see a copy of it, usually at a university library, "The Chronicle of Higher Education" [insert trumpet fanfare as object-ism payment for my revealing its title] always seems to b a good product. For me it looks like ...a pretty good thing anyway.
Another aspect of it is that of a divide between administrators and academics. Academics have their own problems of course but administrators are, after all, administrators, so they are going to be looking at the bottom line --- that kind of stuff, you know? (Why did I call this another aspect?) They are going to want things like power. Their priorities tend to lead them away from the matter of learning and knowledge and, as is the case with the topic of the "profit motive" in economics, the worst-case scenario is that they think only of "themselves," as Daniel Yankelovitch put it. Nothing a bit more relevant to students or to the real idea of university education? No. We don't get to have that. Not with this indispensable new business model that we are forced to employ.
    So, again, my point is made. You cannot get everything. The world always promises us just about everything so we get a lot of false information which is the 'info' if that is the word ---- about how easy it is to "make it" and so forth ---- when what we need and would rather have is maybe something a little more realistic. It could also be something maybe a little more useful to the real bottom line which is ourselves. The real bottom line is is ourselves. Schools are for students. Not the ego of the university administrator but our lives ---- all of our lives.
     So, is the "business model" a good idea or a bad idea, applied to higher education? It seems to be the only choice that the protagonists in this sphere of activity can make. It is a "good" idea by default, since there is no other alternative available. Whether it is a good idea in some other, broader context is unknown if there is no other, broader context. Once again, all analysis fails if we cannot find a broader perspective. (see blog for Dec. 11th --- of course this is a re-write of this blog post, done on the twelfth...)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Economics Views, for Dec. 06, 2011

More of Jack Silverman's version of economics:

At this particular time - moment - in history the "capitalist" structural form certainly seems to be at the top, which is like saying that amongst the world's social systems none can compete. This "capitalist" kind of social structure has its kind of ingeniousness. Such a world may, simplistically, look like a society in which everything is measured in terms of money but what is really important is the human sociality that runs parallel to that. The ingeniousness would be useless without the social network. It is the social network through which the money is earned. (or, to re-write: the money is earned through the social network) It is difficult to earn money without social skills or without for example the sense of social belonging. (see the work of historian Gordon S. Wood)
     Capitalist has a history. In North America, there was an initial move that cemented this form of social structure. This was the act by the "founding fathers" (or perhaps their immediate successors) of opening the gates of capitalism, or, simply put, the gates of participation in trade. A process emerged after the secession of the colonies from the mother country by which anyone could go into business. This new nation was doing something new and radical. This was a new kind of nation, whose people were allowed to be more involved in business endeavors that was any other people previous to them, in any other nation previous to this one.
    Individuals were given free reign to go into business; and, it worked. Simultaneously, formal and informal class distinction were removed, at least in theory.
    There is a little more to it than simply putting price tags on products. The notion, "it is all based on money" is, therefore, deceptive. It is a deeply social process.
    Although these class distinctions were in a sense removed, the "magic" (of the market?) was in the fact that the social structure as such remained intact even though it was formally loosened. Class distinction were removed, and yet they remained. That's the ingeniousness, or the secret, or the "magic." There were still insiders and outsiders, workers and capitalists, and feuding ethnicities.
     But, with the outer veneer (of class) removed, the accumulation of wealth as well as the gradual spread of that wealth out to more members of society took place at accelerated rates. This is kind of ambiguous situation is implicit in phrases like "prince (captains) of industry," or even the more dastardly "robber baron." Persons of those days quite rightly understood: the new capitalist rich must have some relation to the earlier forms of society. The new society could be none other than something that was related, somehow, to the old aristocracy.
     Thus, the "magic" of the market is not something mathematical; it lies in sociality, and in the ambiguous fact of various component social groups (i.e. with what historian, Gordon Wood repeatedly refers to as "social ties") who stay around, even after the formal (and informal) enforcement mechanisms of class have disappeared.