Jobs and the environment

It may be that in order to solve environmental problems we first have to get over a hang up on jobs.

Jobs are important because they provide economic well being and psychologically because they provide us with a self-identity. But so long as society must provide everybody with a job, there is a need for development and economic growth.

The real problem is to ensure everyone has a reasonable standard of living food, shelter and toys. With the production technology currently available, this should be easy if we can get away from our devotion to jobs. Perhaps a guaranteed annual income scheme would work. The problem is one of distribution rather than production.

Self-identity should come from the non-economic things we do. One could be an artisit, an actor, a writer, a ski bum or a beach bum.

If we could make this shift in thinking, then it would be easier to deal with environmental problems, especially when they are in conflict with the need for jobs.

Initiating relationships

A news report of a trend for American women in their 40s through 60s to date younger men brings forth two theories.

The first is that as we grow older there is a change in balance of power between the sexes. When we are younger, girls have a much greater choice of partners than do males because they can date all those guys who are older than them. However, as we age this balance changes as the guys die off (faster than women do) and as every year a new group of young girls become available. This along with the economic prosperity of our times allows men to become more assertive within relationships.

Could it be that we live in a highly matriarchal society and feminism is a reaction to male assertiveness?

The second theory is that women quietly initiate relationships even though they let men think otherwise. Some years ago there was a report of research by a sociologist watching the initiation of relationships in a bar. It was noticed that women looking for somebody would look over the field, make a choice and place themselves in a suitable location. The first touch was very important and any guy who touched first was probably doomed. Since reading this I have been very sensitive where women place themselves and to being touched. I tend to believe the research. It appears that men don’t have much choice about initiating relationships and all we can do is run away. Smart guys are very picky and develop good running skills.

A few years ago we met a just retired couple. He like to talk and occasionly told the story of how he met his wife. I often wonder what her version was but so long as he was around there was no way to hear it. This summer, his wife, now a widow, came to visit with her best friend from childhood. When I asked I heard repeated his version. When I pushed a little, the friend explained that on these matters women have “secret” stories.

I still believe that generally women initiate relationships.

Who's to blame for the economy?

Who’s to blame for the economy? This question comes from a blog title on the Christian Science Monitor website and was originally by on a blog by Robert Reich. Reich’s answer is that it is because Wall Street and big business are out to make as much money as possible.

Another answer may that most if not all of us are to blame. Most of us strive for “the good life” with lots of material and comfort things including children. In the process we consume lots of resources which cannot be replaced and do damage to the environment. This has to be putting stresses on the economy which we do not understand and probably are at the root of the recession

However, Wall Street and big business make good scapegoats.

Perfect competition – an economic utopia

Perfect competition uutopia

When I started studying economics and learned about perfect competition and its assumptions I thought it was totally unrealistic. I really enjoyed the joke about the economist who wanted to assume he had a can opener.

However, through the years I have come to see perfect competition as an utopia which provides guidelines for policy. I like the perfect competition model because it provides high efficiency, equality in that there are no profits, it works without economic growth and decision making is by individual consumers rather than governments.

One of the features of perfect competition is that there are no profits because if profits are being made in an industry others will enter that industry increasing competition and driving prices down until there are no more profits.

To get around this no profit feature business people lobby governments to pass legislation which restricts competition. For example, subsidies, some taxes, licensing, copyright and patent legislation all interfere with perfect competition.

To make our economy more competitive we should:

– Give subsidies to consumers rather than producers. This way prices will reflect true costs and buyers can make decisions according to their own values.

– Require producers to provide consumers will all relevant information about their products.

– Abolish patent and copyright legislation.

– Unilaterally abolish import and export tariffs.

Following is a summary of the assumptions for perfect competition.

The link for the website from which they were taken is

Assumptions behind a Perfectly Competitive Market

1. Many suppliers each with an insignificant share of the market – this means that each firm is too small relative to the overall market to affect price via a change in its own supply – each individual firm is assumed to be a price taker

2. An identical output produced by each firm – in other words, the market supplies homogeneous or standardized products that are perfect substitutes for each other. Consumers perceive the products to be identical

3. Consumers have perfect information about the prices all sellers in the market charge – so if some firms decide to charge a price higher than the ruling market price, there will be a large substitution effect away from this firm

4. All firms (industry participants and new entrants) are assumed to have equal access to resources (technology, other factor inputs) and improvements in production technologies achieved by one firm can spill-over to all the other suppliers in the market

5. There are assumed to be no barriers to entry & exit of firms in long run – which means that the market is open to competition from new suppliers – this affects the long run profits made by each firm in the industry. The long run equilibrium for a perfectly competitive market occurs when the marginal firm makes normal profit only in the long term

6. No externalities in production and consumption so that there is no divergence between private and social costs and benefits.

The fisherman's dream

The Fisherman’s Dream

Here’s an interesting little story. I rather like it although some of us want to do more than just sit on the beach in the sun. It is from the book “One hundred wisdom stories from around the world” by Margaret Silf and published by The Pilgrim Press, 2003.

A fisherman once sat in the midday sun, gazing out to sea, watching his little fishing boat riding at anchor, and thinking to himself how good it was to sit in the sun with no worries, watch the waves breaking and enjoy God’s creation.

But his daydream was interrupted when a smartly dressed and rather overweight businessman came up to him, and broke into his reverie with a sharp question: ‘What are you doing lazing around at midday. Why aren’t you out fishing?’

Somewhat taken aback, the fisherman replied, ‘I’ve done my day’s fishing. I’ve taken my fish to market, and now I’m relaxing in the sun.’

‘But why don’t you put out to sea again and catch some more fish?’ his questioner insisted.

‘Why would I want to do that?’ replied the fisherman politely

‘Well, then you would make twice as much money.’

‘Why would I want to do that?’

‘Well, then you could buy a bigger, better boat, and catch even more fish. You could even employ other people to do the fishing. My word, you could own a whole fleet of fishing boats if you weren’t so lazy.’

“Why would I want to do that?’

‘Well, if you owned your own fleet of boats, and employed other people to do the fishing, you would have as much money as you could ever dream of.

‘Why would I want that?’

“Well, then you could spend the rest of your life just doing whatever you wanted to do. Sitting in the sun, relaxing and enjoying yourself with no worries…’

Evil people

the most evil of all people are those who try to push their relgion, values, morals or sexuality ont others.

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