I’ve been a businessman. My first venture, back in the 1970s, was a worker-owned cooperative that installed solar water heating systems. Our six co-founders wanted the business to stay small and democratic—one person, one vote. And for a while we did, until some of us had kids and others wanted to learn new skills. So we grew the business, became more hierarchal, and earned more income.
My second venture, Working Assets (now Credo Mobile), is a traditionally structured private company with a self-chosen mission: to support progressive causes while earning a profit. It seeks growth as a way to reward early investors and increase its social impact.
Thomas Belsham. What do the Cold War powers of the United States and the USSR have in common with modern day asset managers? The capacity for mutually assured destruction. During the 1950s game theorists described a model of strategic interaction to demonstrate how it might be that two nations would choose to annihilate each other…
Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday to the Boston Fed conference was like a greatest-hits collection of the frustrations long expressed by advocates of more-stimulative demand policy.
One of those frustrations has been rooted in the belief that a more aggressive counter-cyclical response to recessions doesn’t merely jumpstart the economy again, but also prevents semi-permanent damage to the economy’s very capacity for growth — in other words, weak demand now can damage potential supply into the future.
This causal relationship can exist through a few obvious channels. People without jobs lose their skills and their contacts, making them less productive even in later years. The investment in equipment, buildings, and research needed to make innovative breakthroughs is foregone.
The ‘haves’ of the world are always convinced that they deserve their wealth. That their gargantuan income reflects their ingenuity, ‘human capital’, the risks they (or their parents) took, their work ethic, their acumen, their application, their good luck even. The economists (especially members of the so-called Chicago School. e.g. Gary Becker) aid and abet the self-serving beliefs of the powerful by arguing that arbitrary discrimination in the distribution of wealth and social roles cannot survive for long the pressures of competition (i.e. that, sooner or later, people will be rewarded in proportion to their contribution to society). Most of the rest of us suspect that this is plainly false. That the distribution of power and wealth can be, and usually is, highly arbitrary and independent of ‘marginal productivity’, ‘risk taking’ or, indeed, any personal characteristic of those who rise to the top.
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