michael perelman | 1 Mar 04:09 2012
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Re: Bell Labs

I think that AT&T used to replace phones that did not work.
Durability made good sense then.

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 3:06 PM, Charlie <charles1848@...> wrote:
> Jim Devine wrote:
>  >
> AT&T made them durable. Nowadays, our phones are built to be recycled
> quickly under the assumption that we'll buy a new one soon. The cell
> phone companies' planning horizon is only long for marketing. The
> prevailing crap about raising profits every quarter -- and screw
> long-term planning -- seems a product of the competitive capitalism of
> recent memory.
> <
>
> After decades, the capacity and speed of semiconductors still increase
> so quickly that it would be a waste to make products durable beyond the
> technological life of the chips inside them.
>
> However, Silicon Valley never drove the creation of tens of millions of
> industrial jobs, exactly the opposite of Detroit (the vehicle complex)
> of roughly 1910-1940. Even the assembly jobs for electronics products in
> China exist only because of their extremely low wages. Foxconn itself
> claims it will install a million robots in the next three years.
>
> Charles Andrews
> No Rich, No Poor
> http://www.amazon.com/NO-RICH-POOR-CHARLES-ANDREWS/dp/096799053X/
>
>
>
(Continue reading)

Sabri Oncu | 1 Mar 08:23 2012
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Re: interest rate policy

Sandwichman:

> I would challenge the implicit assumption that surplus value is first
> produced and then redistributed. It might seem "intuitively obvious" that
> you can't redistribute something that doesn't exist yet but of course you
> can. You just distribute claims on future wealth creation. That's what
> capitalization is about.

I like what Tom say a lot. We can say this: accounting is about the
past whereas finance is about the future. Can we say this: what is in
Capital Volume 1 is about accounting whereas what is in Capital Volume
3 is about finance? Therefore, the LTV should go beyond Volume 1 and
incorporate Volume 3, also? As you may remember, Minsky was claiming
that any economic theory which does not take finance into its heart
cannot explain the world we live in well or something to that effect.

Best,
Sabri
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Julio Huato | 1 Mar 12:36 2012
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interest rate policy

Sabri wrote:

> I like what Tom say a lot. We can say this: accounting is about the
> past whereas finance is about the future. Can we say this: what is in
> Capital Volume 1 is about accounting whereas what is in Capital Volume
> 3 is about finance? Therefore, the LTV should go beyond Volume 1 and
> incorporate Volume 3, also? As you may remember, Minsky was claiming
> that any economic theory which does not take finance into its heart
> cannot explain the world we live in well or something to that effect.

Not sure if this is relevant to the thread, but the most basic
category in the first volume of Capital -- value -- is through and
through about "finance" in Sabri's sense.  To paraphrase Søren
Kierkegaard: accounting only matters because, although life must be
lived forwards, it can only be understood backwards.
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Sabri Oncu | 1 Mar 13:32 2012
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Re: interest rate policy

Julio:

>  To paraphrase Søren Kierkegaard: accounting only matters because,
> although life must be lived forwards, it can only be understood backwards.

Here is a Sloven proverb:

The past is more uncertain than the future, because it gets rewritten every day.

Best,
Sabri
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c b | 1 Mar 15:33 2012
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“The New Jim Crow” is must-read for social justice movement

http://peoplesworld.org/the-new-jim-crow-is-must-read-for-social-justice-movement/

“The New Jim Crow” is must-read for social justice movement

by: Sam Webb
February 29 2012

tags: racism, equality, social justice
new jim crow

Any number of superlatives could easily describe Michelle Alexander's
"The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."
Few books in recent years have left such an indelible impression on
me.

It should be mandatory reading for anyone in the social justice
movement, for anyone who hopes to see socialism in our nation's
future.

Much like James Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time" or Michael Harrington's
"The Other America," Alexander's book is a wakeup call to this nation.

At stake is the future of millions of young African American men (and
other people of color) who are caught in the web of a justice system
that callously, unfairly and systematically turns them into a racial
caste in their own land.

"Although this new system of racialized social control purports to be
colorblind," writes Alexander, "it creates and maintains racial
hierarchy much as earlier systems of control did. Like Jim Crow (and
(Continue reading)

Sandwichman | 1 Mar 18:04 2012
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Re: interest rate policy

I'm unsure about attributing this directly to Marx's Capital, although the inspiration, if not the explicit exposition, is clearly there. Wennerlind's analysis is grounded in a critique of what he calls "credit fetishism" an explicit hat tip to commodity fetishism.

What I am suggesting is an analysis that takes issue with the intuitive/Marxist notion that it is the "reserve army of labor" that disciplines labor, if only because the crucial moment when such discipline is needed is when the threat of unemployment is least credible. Peter Frase has a post today at his blog on "The Scourge of Overemployment" (http://www.peterfrase.com/2012/03/the-scourge-of-overemployment/) that I have commented on. Here is my comment:

As you know, I've been grappling with this issue for quite some time. Not only have economists "chosen not to pay attention to this gross distortion of the labor market," they have also chosen to not pay attention to the neoclassical theory -- Chapman's -- that predicts precisely such a gross distortion.

The structural, cyclical and frictional explanations still leave me with a riddle: why do these conditions persist through successive "regimes of accumulation" and why has there been such an enduring and spirited defense, by economists, of the effects of these structural, cyclical and frictional distortions? It can't be (I suspect) because they actually think long hours are more "productive".

I think I have an explanation but it involves setting aside the "intuitive" assumption that production precedes distribution and working through the problem with the sequence: 1. consumption, 2. distribution and 3. production. This is how the modern credit system evolved, with government war debts representing the first stage of the sequence, followed by monetary expansion facilitated by that debt and finally production stimulated by the monetary expansion.

I suspect the logic will be difficult to follow without close acquaintance with the history of the English financial revolution and I strongly recommend Carl Wennerlind's "Casualties of Credit" for an exposition of that history. The financial revolution was literally a "revolution" in terms of turning the expected sequence of production and consumption upside down! To continue the account of that inversion into the industrial revolution, I would recommend Robert Steinfeld's "Coercion, Contract, and Free Labor in the Nineteenth Century." Steinfeld challenges the conventional wisdom that employment relations in the 19th century U.S. and the U.K. was "at will" and describes the key role played by state enforcement of coercive master/servant contracts.

As your opening quote suggests, there is a tendency, following Marx, to see the "industrial reserve army" and the threat of unemployment as the great enforcers of labor discipline. But that really is only salient during the slumps. The trick for capital is to enforce discipline during the boom period. All those seemingly perverse structural incentives start to make sense in a regime compelled by credit to "make hay while the sun shines".

I should mention a brief essay of mine that refers to the Wennerlind and Steinfeld theses, "Crisis, Credit and Credulity: the incredible circulation of a counterfeit idea." (http://tinyurl.com/belgianlol) It was written for an "ethics in economics" online conference, so it takes that angle. Eventually, I'll work up a step-by-step presentation of the argument that credit imposes an inverted production cycle.



On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 11:23 PM, Sabri Oncu <sabri.oncu-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:
Sandwichman:

> I would challenge the implicit assumption that surplus value is first
> produced and then redistributed. It might seem "intuitively obvious" that
> you can't redistribute something that doesn't exist yet but of course you
> can. You just distribute claims on future wealth creation. That's what
> capitalization is about.


I like what Tom say a lot. We can say this: accounting is about the
past whereas finance is about the future. Can we say this: what is in
Capital Volume 1 is about accounting whereas what is in Capital Volume
3 is about finance? Therefore, the LTV should go beyond Volume 1 and
incorporate Volume 3, also? As you may remember, Minsky was claiming
that any economic theory which does not take finance into its heart
cannot explain the world we live in well or something to that effect.

Best,
Sabri
_______________________________________________
pen-l mailing list
pen-l <at> lists.csuchico.edu
https://lists.csuchico.edu/mailman/listinfo/pen-l



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Jim Devine | 1 Mar 20:46 2012
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Re: interest rate policy

Sandwichman wrote:
> What I am suggesting is an analysis that takes issue with the
> intuitive/Marxist notion that it is the "reserve army of labor" that
> disciplines labor, if only because the crucial moment when such discipline
> is needed is when the threat of unemployment is least credible.

IMHO, it's a mistake to treat this as somehow a contradiction in Marx.
The situation "when the threat of unemployment is least credible" is
that where unemployment is low. Marx didn't see that as impossible; he
clearly saw the situation as a possible source of a squeeze on
profits, though his emphasis is on the role of wages as a cost instead
of on the motivation of workers (in CAPITAL, vol. I, chapter 25). But
if capital is left to its own devices, this situation leads to a
cut-back in the rate of accumulation and a re-creation of a reserve
army of labor.

When capitalism is not left to its own devices, as when war spending
prevents this mechanism from operating (cf. the late 1960s), then the
problem of disciplining labor can persist.
--

-- 
Jim Devine / "In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to
be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But
in poetry, it's the exact opposite." -- Paul Dirac
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MICHAEL YATES | 1 Mar 21:25 2012
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The Great Inequality

This article might be of interest to my fellow economists and to those who did not have the misfortune to have endured a graduate education in the dismal science. Comments are welcome.  http://monthlyreview.org/2012/03/01/the-great-inequality
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Sabri Oncu | 1 Mar 21:36 2012
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Kalman filtering versus Kalman smoothing

I mentioned this Sloven proverb:

"The past is more uncertain than the future, because it gets rewritten every day."

If you know anything about Kalman filtering, you know that it is about updating the future probability
distribution as you get new information. Kalman smoothing is less know than Kalman filtering, although I
don't understand why. Maybe because the smoothing things are too technical and smoothing is technically
more complicated than filtering? Kalman smoothing is about updating not only the future, but also the
past. As we learn more, not only we change our expectations about the future, but also we change our
understanding of the past. How to incorporate this into the LTV?

Best,
Sabri
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Sandwichman | 1 Mar 22:23 2012
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Re: interest rate policy

I'll take the "mistake" then, Jim, because it accords with the historical evidence.

It is precisely because it looms as a "possible source of a squeeze on profits" that capital must take precautions to make sure that such a potential does not materialize.

Hence, the Masters and Servants Act in the 19th century, suppression of trade unions, otherwise nearly unintelligible or incoherent bourgeois economic pseudo-theories -- wages-fund doctrine, lump-of-labor fallacy, canonical labor/leisure choice model, NAIRU -- and a structure of perverse incentives imposing quasi-fixed costs, tying social benefits to employment, etc.

But, again, I'm not interested in a pissing match about whether Marx did or did not say something or whether what I'm saying does or does not accord with or contradict Marx. Let the dead bury the dead.

By the way, Paul Dirac has it ass-backwards.

On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 11:46 AM, Jim Devine <jdevine03-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w@public.gmane.org> wrote:
Sandwichman wrote:
> What I am suggesting is an analysis that takes issue with the
> intuitive/Marxist notion that it is the "reserve army of labor" that
> disciplines labor, if only because the crucial moment when such discipline
> is needed is when the threat of unemployment is least credible.

IMHO, it's a mistake to treat this as somehow a contradiction in Marx.
The situation "when the threat of unemployment is least credible" is
that where unemployment is low. Marx didn't see that as impossible; he
clearly saw the situation as a possible source of a squeeze on
profits, though his emphasis is on the role of wages as a cost instead
of on the motivation of workers (in CAPITAL, vol. I, chapter 25). But
if capital is left to its own devices, this situation leads to a
cut-back in the rate of accumulation and a re-creation of a reserve
army of labor.

When capitalism is not left to its own devices, as when war spending
prevents this mechanism from operating (cf. the late 1960s), then the
problem of disciplining labor can persist.
--
Jim Devine / "In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to
be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But
in poetry, it's the exact opposite." -- Paul Dirac



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