Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quote of The Day

"The most compelling explanation for the marked shift in the fortunes of the poor is that they continued to respond, as they always had, to the world as they found it, but that we — meaning the not-poor and un-disadvantaged — had changed the rules of their world. Not of our world, just of theirs. The first effect of the new rules was to make it profitable for the poor to behave in the short term in ways that were destructive in the long term. Their second effect was to mask these long-term losses — to subsidize irretrievable mistakes. We tried to provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead. We tried to remove the barriers to escape from poverty, and inadvertently built a trap."
Charles Murray

2 comments:

  1. Well, it is clear the social economic profile of soul who would find such an explanation "compelling".

    But let me outline some of these "new rules" that have been glossed overe here.

    a. the new poor* were to be DIVESTED OF THEIR LAND and thus the source of much of their secuity and livelihood and economic community - this happened for the most part during Tudor times, during the period of the enclosures - when whole villages were thrown off land so that it could be given over for pasture for sheep, whose wool was required for the burgeoning new cotton industry. (Also displacing agricultural crops wherefore they looked towards Ireland and demanded her crops, notwithstanding the effect of famine).

    b. since the new market economy required labour to be commoditised (experiments such as Speenhamland definitively showed that market economy required this step), traditional economic organisations such as family, tribe, community, etc, that did not use money, had to be broken up so that their labour could be bought and sold on the market for payment. Their traditional economic organisation had to be broken so that they would be DEPENDENT ON PAYMENT FOR THEIR LABOUR on the open market.

    c. The strong currency that the so called free market is dependent on, the pinnacle of which was the international gold standard, depended on a dynamic well expressed by Ruskin in his essay 'Unto this Last' - "The force of the guinea you have in your pocket depends wholly on the default of a guinea in your neighbour's pocket. If he did not want it, it would be of no use to you; the degree of power it possesses depends accurately upon the need or desire he has for it, -- and the art of making yourself rich, in the ordinary mercantile economist's sense, is therefore equally and NECESSARILY THE ART OF KEEPING YOUR NEIGHBOUR POOR."


    ... Saying such a thing as "We tried to provide more for the poor and produced more poor instead. We tried to remove the barriers to escape from poverty, and inadvertently built a trap..." displays a wilful ignorance of the development of one's own economic philosophy.

    This type of wilful ignorance has become even more normalised in our own day and age.

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  2. Here's a good quote for this blog (for balance, perhaps?)

    "We have come a long way from the time when the businessman was content to urge capitalism as a permissive theory, as an assertion of the claim that he had his due and dignified place in society, and that he must not be passed by either the snobbery of the aristocrat, or the snobbery of the intellectual.

    However, it seems that his demands for room to live have turned into demands that his way of life be recognised as the basis of life of the entire community and that those who are not in accord with him should be punished with the whips of a new inquisition.

    N. Wiener.

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