Re: LO and Big Layoffs LO5705

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: LO and Big Layoffs LO5705
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 1996 18:11:07 -0800 writes:
> Replying to LO5628 --
> In 5628 Bill Hobler wrote
> Ah, yes, the lost lessons of history.  I read, a short time back, a number
> of articles which talk about the development of a Have's-vs-Have-Not's
> society in the US.  I believe that this phenomenon is reflected around the
> world.  This is a very serious dynamic and issue which I feel we have an
> obligation to address globally as well as locally.
> Capitalism is much touted as the superior form of society on this planet
> by those who are benefitting from capitalism.  However, I have to question
> the premise of this viewpoint when I consider the increasing numbers of
> homeless people and the unemployed in this country.

Actually, it may be a "Religious" argument, in sight of what Kenneth
Arrow (economist/game-theorist,) has formalized and published, (and
won a Nobel for, BTW.) Usually, such "ism's" provide a distinctive
means of prioritization of issues and agendas, (ie., it is "better to
distribute wealth by competitive means," v.s. "wealth distribution
needs to be centralized in market controls, like policies and
planning," etc.)  Arrow's work presented some mathematically formal
arguments that such things can not be argued, at least in a rational
or logical fashion. What the interpretation of this statement is
depends on who is telling the story, but it is probably safe to state
that there is no such thing as a perfect economic, (or social,)
system, and no way of establishing a logically consistent set of
metrics by which one could decide which of the economic systems under
scrutiny is superior.  (Of course, one can alway argue a belief
system, but in doing so about economic systems, one could not rely on
logical or rational arguments-only beliefs. FYI, Arrow's work
specifically addressed the optimization of the social welfare
function. His, so called, "Impossibility Theorem" states that it is
impossible to do that-strange name for the theorem. Now, consider the
issues between the Presidency and the Congress ... case in point.)

> Someone mentioned our low unemployment rate in a previous posting.  This
> reminds me of a story told by Tom Peters about an executive who stood
> during one of his "speeches" and informed Tom that their company was not
> doing anything that everyone else was [not] doing, too.  They didn't
> deserve to be talked down to by Tom because they were no worse than anyone
> else in their business.

Perhaps there is a misconception on the function of capitalism and its
relationship to job creation. I have never seen a definition of
capitalism that includes job creation as a priority, (until now!) The
definitions I have seen, (which are narrow, formal, statements, of
economic axioms,) are concerned with the generation of wealth, (which
may, but not necessarily, create jobs-not that this is the way it
should be, mind you, but capitalist theory doesn't expand too much on
job creation. In point of fact, Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" may
have been the first diatribe on efficient utilization of resources to
control costs, which could be interpreted as the minimization of the
work force.)

There has been some game-theoretic work published on the systematic
outcome of capitalist market places. These tend to conclude (depending
on who is telling the story,) that in a capitalistic market place with
multiple players, the inevitable outcome is that the market will
degenerate to an agenda where the players operate with zero
profit. And, that is not good for job creation-nor any other
"infrastructural" agendas, (like R&D, etc.) So, how do we ballance all
of the agendas?  Go back to the first paragraph ...



John Conover,,

Copyright © 1996 John Conover, All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: Fri Mar 26 18:56:58 PST 1999 $Id: 960219181110.742.html,v 1.0 2001/11/17 23:05:50 conover Exp $
Valid HTML 4.0!