Re: Don't believe the offshore hype?

Subject: Re: Don't believe the offshore hype?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 18:36:56 -0800

Richard G. Combs wrote:

I'd argue that capitalist economists tend to value human nature as it is,
while socialists generally would like to shape human nature into something
rather different that they value more.

What, me? Never! (Well, hardly ever).

To me, captialist economists seems more apologists for the way conservatives would like things to be than a universal description of human nature. The various schools studiously ignore the fact that capitalism is rare historically, and that all countries - not only most of the United States' alllies, but the United States itself - today have mixed economies that owe as much to socialistic as capitalistic thought. NWhen so much is overlooked, the claim that it describes human nature lacks credibility, I'm afraid. And the fact that capitalist theory is no better than other theory at predicting the economic behavior of indviduals or nations tends to support the impression that it's missing as much as Leninism is.

From my own half-baked perspective, part of the problem is that it mistakes the map for the territory. Yes, humans are motivated by reward, and economic returns are one form of reward. However, just because hard cash is the reward our culture emphasizes doesn't mean that humans aren't motivated as much, and often more by other rewards: recognition, status, meaning, altruism, and affection are all frequently more powerful incentives than economics. Of course, many capitalist economists claim that these things can be viewed as forms of economic activity, but they can only do so by stretching their definitions beyond the breaking point.

Finally, as an aside, I should also mention that the equation of socialism with totalitarianist communism is a little like assuming Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all the same religion (or even that a Unitarian is the same thing as a southern Baptist).

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177


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