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Calling the Greens socialists is an insult to socialists watch

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    (Original post by Observatory)
    Working time has steadily reduced for the last century. People have divided the gains between reduced working time and increased consumption.


    Why would number of working hours be related to salary growth or job security?


    It's interesting at least that even socialists themselves are starting to treat the label as a slur.


    He did, in the informatively named communist manifesto.


    Contrary to his post-1990 apologists, Marx wasn't an anarchist and envisioned something indeed very much like the USSR or PRC.


    I think both sides are talking past one another on this issue.

    No doubt the Spectator author would agree with you that a boiling country of paved toxic waste would be bad, but clearly bringing the country into that state would involve a large amount of economic damage, too. So the question is simply whether current institutions are taking account of that damage, so as to ensure that if that were the optimal way to go (and I think it probably wouldn't be) we would be sure that what we're getting in exchange is worth it.

    From where I am standing it seems that the tort system really doesn't take account of diffuse property damage from gas emissions very well, so the environmentalists have a point there but have made a mistake in hitching their wagon to the left and its misplaced belief in central planning. On the other hand, the existing market mechanism for paving and waste disposal works just fine, and is probably even over-regulated, imposing severe drag on quality of life with e.g. rocketing house prices and fewer jobs in the North.
    I agree that there are ways of combining economic growth with ecological sense (if that's basically what you meant), but most of what's currently seen as economic growth is ultimately based on degradation of planetary resources, global commons and known environmental goods like clean water, a resourceful ocean, the correct balance of gases in the air, etc.

    The problem in dealing with all this is not that we are in danger of sliding into some twisted version of a Soviet state, but that all planning is rejected on ideological grounds by extremist neoliberals. They have thrown out the baby (intelligent planning in useful contexts) for the bathwater. (Totalitarianism and failed state central planning models.) Note that those same right wing extremists do consider planning a positive good if it is about promoting corporate interests!

    Planning is also much more viable now than it was in the Soviet era. Modern computer systems, sophisticated programmed models, adaptive machine learning, big data and vast e-driven monitoring capabilities, all lead to an inescapable conclusion that more rational and evolved future planning has become a real possibility in many economic areas where it was previously condemned. Incidentally, the current global economy is already planned - by hedge fund algorithms and in favour of massive and surging inequality!
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    (Original post by Fullofsurprises)
    I agree that there are ways of combining economic growth with ecological sense (if that's basically what you meant), but most of what's currently seen as economic growth is ultimately based on degradation of planetary resources, global commons and known environmental goods like clean water, a resourceful ocean, the correct balance of gases in the air, etc.
    My point is that all of those things are part of the economy and that environmental damage is economic damage. The whole reason that both sides talk past one another here is their tendency to consider environmental damage as some special class of damage - for the environmentalist, one that should be drastically overvalued relative to other classes of damage, and for the industrialist, one that should be drastically undervalued relative to other classes of damage. It's not a question of "degrading" resources or not but rather whether resources in a raw state are worth more or less than in a refined state; if you think for a second it can't possibly be that raw resources are always preferable to refined resources since that is incompatible with human survival.

    If a sulphurous surface of the UK were the price to be paid for 100x greater lifespan in perfect health in subterranean city complexes built like palaces with hydroponic gardens for all, then maybe we could have a reasonable discussion whether that is worth it. Alternatively, if the pay-off were somewhat cheaper toasters, probably it becomes 'obvious' we want to avoid it. The problems come where these decisions are not clear cut, which is inevitably the case for almost all decisions since almost all decisions are made at the margin - for that you need a market mechanism.

    The problem in dealing with all this is not that we are in danger of sliding into some twisted version of a Soviet state, but that all planning is rejected on ideological grounds by extremist neoliberals. They have thrown out the baby (intelligent planning in useful contexts) for the bathwater. (Totalitarianism and failed state central planning models.) Note that those same right wing extremists do consider planning a positive good if it is about promoting corporate interests!

    Planning is also much more viable now than it was in the Soviet era. Modern computer systems, sophisticated programmed models, adaptive machine learning, big data and vast e-driven monitoring capabilities, all lead to an inescapable conclusion that more rational and evolved future planning has become a real possibility in many economic areas where it was previously condemned. Incidentally, the current global economy is already planned - by hedge fund algorithms and in favour of massive and surging inequality!
    Planning is both supported and opposed by different brands of ideologues, but there are also good technical reasons to oppose planning.

    Planning is actually entirely tangential to this debate. You can have planned economies that underweight environmental damage, like the USSR, or you can have planned economies that overweight it, as left-Greens propose; similarly you can have a market system that accounts for damage caused by waste (as ours does with, say, fly tipping on someone else's property, which is a tort and rarely happens) or you can have a market system that doesn't account for damage caused by waste (as ours does not account for CO2 damage). So the only question is whether central planning is in general better or worse than markets at solving economic optimisation problems and the empirical answer is that it is worse.

    You draw an analogy between central planning with computers and "big data" with hedge funds, but rightly point out that hedge funds are highly unstable businesses that often fail. In the market, this doesn't matter, because the market is a selection mechanism. It doesn't depend on one particular company remaining profitable forever, and the birth, saturation, and death of companies is useful and productive. Central planning is akin to having one hedge fund run the entire world, forever. So having established that markets are more effective than central planning, the sensible question is how to make markets account for CO2 damage, and the obvious mechanism is for CO2 damage to be a tort.

    By hitching their cart to the failed technical tool of central planning, the environmental movement has massively and unnecessarily weakened its own argument, alienated a large base of potential supporters, and reduced the chances of achieving its purported objectives.
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    If socialists don't want to be insulted, they would have to change their ideology
 
 
 
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