View 705 Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I’m behind as usual. I did want to call attention to “A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism” (link) by Gore and Blood. It may be that I am losing my faculties, but I at first I did not comprehend it as a serious work. It seemed like a parody, especially when I saw that the authors were Gore and Blood, but apparently it is quite serious.
It is, in fact, a fairly good if dense statement of the liberal socialist view of the future, a command economy with all the results and goals set by central experts rather than consumers, owners, and the market. Private ownership remains, but it is managed by the smart people at the center. The central premises here are almost indistinguishable from peace time fascism as put forth by Mussolini. Benito Mussolini was a life long socialist who believed in industrial efficiency and growth, and given the Italian state and culture when he came to power was able to make some spectacular gains. He not only made the trains run on time, but he also built the railroads and airports. If you look closely at the cornerstone of Da Vinci airport outside Rome, or most of the better train stations, you’ll find a bronze plaque proclaiming this a work of Victor Emmanuel II, Rex, and Benito Mussolini, Duce. Mussolini meant well for the working people of Italy, and while he was ruthless in suppressing dissent, he was really not so much more so than many in the left liberal community have been in suppressing dissent in science and academia.
Of course Blood and Gore have different central goals from Italian Fascism, and unlike Mussolini don’t seem to worry about productivity and efficiency; but then Mussolini wanted efficiency so that he would have the goods to distribute. He was a socialist, after all. He also got sidetracked by visions of the former glory that was Rome, and experimented with Imperialism in Libya and Somalia and Ethiopia, whereas Blood and Gore have different ultimate goals.
Like Mussolini, Blood and Gore set their goals independent of the consumer and the market; they after all are the Enlightened, and it would be silly to consult the Benighted about such complex matters; even Blood and Gore don’t understand climate science, but they have their teams of scientists who do, and who will frequently explain what must be done and what it will cost. Blood is enough of an economist to describe regulatory measures to manipulate the values of the enterprises whose operations he wants to control, and by fiat will make pension obligations, which the market considers as liabilities, actual assets which add to the value of the company. At least I think that’s what they mean:
Because ESG metrics directly affect companies’ long-term value, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, foundations and the like—investors with long-term liabilities—should include these metrics as an essential aspect of valuation and investment strategy. Sustainable capitalism requires investors to be good investors, to fully understand the companies they invest in and to believe in their long-term value and potential.
I conclude that this Gore and Blood essay is far from being intended as a joke; it’s a picture of the future they want to make, a future that has no place for Schumpeter’s creative destruction. Of course Schumpeter had a rather gloomy picture of the future:
“ Can capitalism survive? No. I do not think it can.” Thus opens Schumpeter’s prologue to a section of his 1942 book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. One might think, on the basis of the quote, that Schumpeter was a Marxist. But the analysis that led Schumpeter to his conclusion differed totally from Karl Marx’s. Marx believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its enemies (the proletariat), whom capitalism had purportedly exploited, and he relished the prospect. Schumpeter believed that capitalism would be destroyed by its successes, that it would spawn a large intellectual class that made its living by attacking the very bourgeois system of private property and freedom so necessary for the intellectual class’s existence. And unlike Marx, Schumpeter did not relish the destruction of capitalism. “If a doctor predicts that his patient will die presently,” he wrote, “this does not mean that he desires it.” http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Schumpeter.html
What Blood and Gore prescribe is in fact the end of capitalism as it has been understood. The difference between them and Schumpeter is that Gore and Blood desire the end of capitalism without understanding what capitalism is, while Schumpeter understood it perfectly.
Another who understood capitalism described where thoughts like those of Blood and Gore had already taken much of the world before 1942 and where it was now taking them: Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, published in Britain and then the United States before World War II was over showed just what would happen if the regulatory state had its way.
Once again I remind you that freedom is not free, free men are not equal, and equal men are not free. But then you knew that.
= = = =
[NOTE: Italian fascism was not officially anti-Semitic until the alliance with Hitler. The Fascist State had a number of high ranking Jewish officials in its hierarchy, including the Minister of Information (who was also at one time Mussolini’s mistress).]
And now it’s lunch time.
President Obama: "Well, what we’re going to have to do is continue to make progress on the economy over the next several months. And where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves. But it would be nice if we could get a little bit of help from Capitol Hill."
The usual solution to that sort of problem has been to replace the legislature, or “reform” its election laws to make the legislature more democratic. In Italy it led to the Grand Council of Fasces.
Subj: If Congress does not act, I will act – Obama channeling FDR
That bit from Obama reminded me of a Bonapartist piece by FDR, ordering the Congress to pass anti-inflation legislation, that James Burnham quoted in _The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom_:
I ask the Congress to take this action by the first of October. Inaction on your part by that date will leave me with an inescapable responsibility to the people of the country to see to it that the war effort is no longer imperiled by threat of domestic chaos. In the event that the Congress should fail to act, and act adequately, I shall accept the responsibility, and I will act. At the same time that farm prices are stabilized, wages can and will be stabilized also. This I will do.
… When the war is won, the powers under which I act automatically revert to the people — to whom they belong.
Of course, since the Emergency under which Obama is acting will never end — *can* never end — Obama will not have to worry about his powers eventually reverting to the people.
Limits of forecasting
TTAWA — Two top U.S. hurricane forecasters, famous across Deep South hurricane country, are quitting the practice of making a seasonal forecast in December because it doesn’t work.
William Gray and Phil Klotzbach say a look back shows their past 20 years of forecasts had no predictive value.
The two scientists from Colorado State University will still discuss different probabilities of hurricane seasons in December. But the shift signals how far humans are, even with supercomputers, from truly knowing what our weather will do in the long run.
Colorado State has been known for decades for forecasts of how many named storms and hurricanes can be expected each official hurricane season (which runs from June to November.)
Last week, the pair made this announcement:
“We are discontinuing our early December quantitative hurricane forecast for the next year … Our early December Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts of the last 20 years have not shown real-time forecast skill even though the hindcast studies on which they were based had considerable skill.”
The two will still make the traditional forecasts closer to hurricane season.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said they were stopping all forecasts.
Which needs no real comment. The weather and climate are too complex for our models. That may not always be true, but it’s true enough now. I gather that the Alps are having unusual weather now. Somewhere there is always a place with unusual weather. And Europe is still nowhere near as warm as it was before 1300.
© 2011, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.