Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A course adjustment for real-economics

It's a new year.  Tony and I have been kicking around some ideas we want to try.  It's not that we are unhappy with our little blog, it's just that we believe we must rise above a continuous critique of the current approaches to economics, politics, and especially environmental and resource management.  I'll let Tony explain his thinking but for me, I believe those of us who have been given insights into the methods of community and nation-building should devote our energies into promoting a much more constructive agenda.

Both of us have some interesting opportunities in the near future to promote a builder's agenda.  Tony will pitch his vision to a gathering of progressive activists in North Carolina while I will address one of the volunteer "think-tanks" of Minnesota liberalism.  While Tony will stress political organizing and grass-roots activism, I intend to appeal to theoretical roots of economic thought—a battle that must also be won.

Tony has already produced a rough draft of his Powerpoint presentation.  As you can imagine, it is replete with examples of how USA became an industrial powerhouse with a middle class that was the envy of most of the world—before the deindustrialization disasters since the mid 1970s.  Anyone who believes that USA became powerful using the notions of Free Trade will be in for a long evening.  This is good stuff!

My approach will start with an examination for why 45 years after Earth Day One, the planet is in dramatically worse shape.  Mostly it will explain why a Leisure Class approach will NEVER solve problems based in physics and the consumption of energy.  Those who have read Elegant Technology will know what I am going to say.

What we both will have in common is the price tag—$100 trillion.  We intend to introduce some serious sticker shock.  Both of us agree that the problems we are facing are so enormous, it is blatantly dishonest to suggest that there are any more ways to fix them on the cheap.  After all, the first step to the solution for any problem is a clear and honest assessment of its nature and size.

So I can devote more energy to this and other projects like it, I will be cutting back my posts to four per week—Mon-Thu.  This blog will also serve as a home base for our new "positive" agenda.  I hope we don't come off as too "commercial" but we have an agenda to promote.  This is a ridiculously ambitious task (suggesting that there is a way to save human existence on planet earth and further suggesting that we have discovered what that is) and I wouldn't come near to trying except for one extremely important fact—neither Tony nor I have to invent one damn thing.  Everything we are suggesting is based on historical experiments that turned out great.  Humans HAVE made progress since we lived in caves.  We probably still have a lot of progress left in us.


  1. Give 'em heck, Jonathan & Tony...I will be following along. And I bet it will be an interesting trek.

  2. Sounds interesting to me… I wish you both a Happy New Year and Best Wishes for a successful course adjustment with many happy returns.

    I’m wondering…besides physics, politics, economics and engineering…how familiar are either of you with biology? I've just finished reading “The Meaning of Human Existence,” by E.O. Wilson, and he makes it clear that we are fast approaching the greatest challenge and “greatest goal of all time: the unity of the human race” (or in the absence of that its destruction). What do you think?

    Some of our dysfunction, he says, “comes from the (biologically speaking) youthful state of the earth’s global civilization, which (he says) is still a (dangerous) work in progress.” But, the greater part of our problem, he says, “is due simply to the fact that our brains are poorly wired.” Hereditarily speaking, our “human nature is the genetic legacy of our prehuman and Paleolithic (ancient) past – the ‘indelible stamp of our lowly origin,’ as identified by Charles Darwin. So, it ends up, “The real problem of humanity is that we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and (the power of God in our) god-like technologies.” (So many ways and means to be the instruments of our own destruction!)

    Do you suppose we can ever get beyond “hired thugs” and get back to having an “honestly elected honest sheriff” who will faithfully keep the peace fairly for all…“with liberty and justice for all?” I'll be staying tuned.

    1. Good points Ken. As someone with Viking roots, I am quite aware how thin a skin of civilization covers some quite savage impulses. But it does work, after a fashion. The route from feared Vikings to the most polite societies on earth was a long and quite arduous process, but it did happen. So while like Veblen, I am concerned about the "preservation of archaic traits" I also know the human social evolution is quite possible.