Rebirth of Reason

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Post 0

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 12:26amSanction this postReply
So I've started on this collection of essays. The first few were rather basic and similar to what I've read in her fiction. However when I read "The Roots of War" one statement stuck out as being inaccurate. She says "Let those who are actually concerned with peace observe that capitalism gave mankind the longest period of peace in history -- a period during which there were no wars involving the entire civilized world -- from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914."

Now, off the top of my head I can think of the American Civil War from 1861-1865, and the Spanish-American War of 1898. I'm sure that there were many more, not to mention the fact that during that period much of the "civilized" world was involved with occupying, enslaving, and exploiting the uncivilized world. Did she mean that there were no wars involving all of the civilized nations at once? If so, then the statement loses much of it's significance.

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Post 1

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
I would say that trading (capitalism) is the relationship between friends that is peace. That destroying & pillaging (war) and social economic redistribution (socialism/communism) are relationships between enemies.

So by definition, having capitalism is a process of peace.

War, socialism/communism etc are all processes where one group will forcefully redistributed resources from others to themselves. If a group doesn't use a capitalist system to allocate resources within its own constituents, then its very likely that the group will run out of resources (via the lack of incentive to be productive) and hence such a group would need to continue being successful in waging war or redistributing wealth from others to themselves in order to maintain their group's health.

Post 2

Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 1:36amSanction this postReply
Elijah, the generalization is valid, though, granted it is a broad statement. Wars are a result of "human nature." (We have some control over that. We can choose NOT to goto war.) So, finding wars is never difficult. That said, in the 19th century contrasted with other times, wars were short with few of the mass horrors typical of armed conflict. I think that the Six Weeks' War between Austria and Prussia was iconic for that. Contrast that with the Seven Years War, the Thirty Years War, the Hundred Years War...

Read about the town of Magdeburg in the Thirty Years War: of its 20,000 inhabitants, 400 survived. The wars 1618-1648 took 25% of the people of Germany, as many as the Black Death. Nothing like that happened 1815-1914.

Realize also, that the Spanish-American War was a consequence of progressivism and nationalism, not capitalism. The same is true of the Boer War in South Africa.

Consider the casualties from the Crimean War:
Two-and-a-half years of fighting
Total: 143,000 dead:
25,000 killed in action
16,000 died of wounds
about 89,000 died of disease

That many died in a single battle of World War One.
Battle of Tannenberg 145,000160,000
First Battle of the Marne 513,000
Second Battle of Artois 186,000
Battle of Verdun 755,000976,000
Third Battle of Ypres 585,000
Second Battle of the Marne 288,000

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Post 3

Friday, December 20, 2013 - 7:33amSanction this postReply
I second what Dean said. Perhaps the objection is to the claim that capitalism 'gave' peace(or that any such economic system erupting from time to time in imperfect fits and starts-- 'The Unknown Ideal' can 'give' global peace.)

That it may have from time to time struggled to emerge-- for a brief period, in an imperfect, not fully realized form -- coincident with other world events struggling for dominance -- is not, IMO, a reason to expect it to 'give' the world peace.

Capitalism -is- peace, if correctly defined. It doesn't 'give' peace.

Capitalism is free association in commerce, devoid of coercion. It is voluntary exchange of effort and value for effort and value under a set of rules of fair exchange.

It requires coercion -- the coercion of the state/mob -- to keep the consequences of capitalism from breaking out. Such consequences are 'the individual/private ownership of the means of production of value.'

Well of course; those means are, at their essence, human intellect and ability. Who else should 'own' human intellect and ability as means?

And yes, it has been an Unknown Ideal. Because even its alleged practitioners (defined as anyone in wingtips running a business) do not realize it, and many do not even target it. This is an inevitablility of our complex economies based on the fungibility of (effort+value) with (value-proxies.)

We -need- to base our complex economies on value-proxies, but that creates an entire new playing field for criminal shortcuts. Our entire 'financial industry' these days has long devolved into a focus entirely on gaming the value-proxy marketplace, far from the (effort+value) markets.

They ride them just as surely as any statist/collectivist parasite in DC, with whom they are often in collaboration. Fools these days yet struggling to hire people, create value and profit from intellect and effort and the intelligent management of unavoidable risk in doing so, do so with 'reasonable' 15% debt limits, while the financial industry grants itself nearly boundless 5000% debt limits with which to game the system-- including the implicit shed risk of too big to fail government guarantees when the ole college try using OPM doesn't quite hit the unfocused mark.

Our economies have been a near complete criminal rout, and that, as much as any government collectivist meddling, has contributed to the failure to realize the Unknown Ideal.

Why did the Ideal of capitalism evolve and nearly full blown erupt? What was the essence of its success, as an idea?

My bias is the filter of free association, applied to the following. This is why I think it was so successful. And then I'll describe why I think it was also attacked and not universally embraced.

Risk is unavoidable in the universe. Do we fish the shallows today or do we fish the deep? The Marxists and their theories show up at the docks to redistribute the fish only after the risk has been managed. But there are no fish to redistribute if some don't take on the risk of not returning to the dock, or returning with empty holds.

So what is a fair system of taking on unavoidable risk? It requires incentive. (Surviving should be enough incentive, because that is the nature of Man in the Universe, as it is; no guarantees.) But what system brings fish to the docks?

Without capitalism or any economic system at all, it is just Man in the Universe, as it is. Uphill gradients. Risk requiring intellect and effort to not only overcome, but prevail. But no guarantees; can exert effort and intellect as much as you want, but no guarantee of survival. Risk happens.

With capitalism, the following model evolved. There became choices to manage risk, and folks were free to fit in where they chose.

1] Effort+intellect totally at risk, with no guaranteed positive ROI. Man in the Universe, as it is. Guaranteed by whom or what? No limit on downside...and no limit on upside. ROI totally at risk. Can work for years and net nothing at all, or worse, end up in debt.

2] Effort+intellect with guaranteed ROI as wages. Pull on the pump handle, get agreed upon wages, guaranteed. Stop pulling on the pump handle, no more wages...but no loss of ROI either. ROI guranteed by others...who are ultimately participating with ROI at risk. Wages are discounted to reflect the -value- of the guarantee.

3] Self modulated participation in risk/reward model by way of ownership of equities/stocks in other's at risk efforts. Depending on your individual aversion to risk, can be 0 to 100% of your excess earnings or accumulated wealth.

Capitalism evolved and succeeded because of the inherent -fairness- in that model of intelligent risk management. Those most able/willing to take on risk did so, and by doing so, created the opportunities for others to participate on a wage basis. Those participating on a wage basis were free to, at any time, participate in the equities marketplace and self modulate exposure to risk, or, if so inclined, start their own small business and accept ROI totally at risk.

The inherent -fairness- of that system of intelligent risk management is why capitalism succeeded to the degree it did, even in its imperfectly realized form.

What has replaced capitalism is a resurgence of the shed risk model of socialism and state corporatism. Risk shed onto whom? Managed by whom? Guaranteed by whom?

Where are the incentives to intelligently take on risk, with the kind of focus that only risk of complete loss can bring?

Nowhere to be seen; there can be local big scores -- $500 million of OPM thrown at a Solyndra -- but in the economies as a whole, a complete and total loss of actual -value-. Such shed risk models are nothing but carcass carving: good for the carver, but in the long run, devastating to the once breathing beast. And after decades of carcass carving, the bones are no doubt showing, and we are in the final stages of the parasites frantically swarming over the carcass, seeking out the yet remaing pockets of once breathing, living beast flesh.

In the end, Capitalism was the Unknown Ideal because on average, we are a tribe of naked sweaty apes.

Which is why this ideal was so readily attacked. It is harder to run uphill than run downhill-- even though that is the cold hard deal that the Universe demands in order to get up every hill. Crime will always be easier than calculus. Existentially terrified children, with barely any comprehension of that cold universe and its uncaring but fair rules, rail at the need to run uphill, and will justify any taking necessary to claw up the backs of those around them.

Because on average, that is what naked, sweaty apes do. Maybe there is a short cut up those hills? Maybe if we mask our naked aggression 'taking' with the weasel words 'asking' we can skate by and achieve the carefree utopia we foggily believe is waiting for us if only a secretary at Treasury will print enough 0s on a piece of paper...


(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 12/20, 7:35am)

Post 4

Friday, December 20, 2013 - 8:28amSanction this postReply

That's a good point on how risk consequences are redistributed in the US... This applies not just to wall street companies, but also to a great extent farmers. Due to subsidies etc its hard I think for farmers to farm nutritious food (paleo diet foods), much easier for them to just make the heavily subsidized grains.

Bankruptcy laws which free people from previous debts is also another form of corruption, although this isn't as bad as federal level redistribution: only people who dealt with the bankrupt debtor have to accept the state permitted fraud.

You could say that frivolous tort lawsuits forcefully shift risk responsibility from employees and customers to establishment owners... which is especially costly in the medical industry where identifying the correct illness and performing the correct treatment flawlessly is a very hard problem full of risk.

People expecting the police to collect crime evidence for them and actively protect them against small crime... is another big shift in responsibility I would argue... although the extent by which police should perform these functions is still under debate in Objectivist circles. Can this be interpreted as the forceful redistribution of risk? Risk of theft? I'd propose that police forces should be "non-profit" (donation funded) organizations, but that doesn't quite make sense in my view that cities should be for-profit corporations (where the city would pay a police force to ensure security within its borders).

Post 5

Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 6:53pmSanction this postReply

DMG: "Bankruptcy laws which free people from previous debts is also another form of corruption, although this isn't as bad as federal level redistribution: only people who dealt with the bankrupt debtor have to accept the state permitted fraud."

I have to disagree.  Many of the founders of the republic were merchants and they had a different understanding of wealth, commerce, profits and losses than did the landed warriors for whom Roman and canon law were written. For the warriors, debts were a matter of blood and honor. It was not so for the merchants.

"Do not throw good money after bad."  It is rule of thought in poker that once "your" money is in the kitty (pot) it is no longer yours.  If you invest in a voyage and the ship goes down - storm, pirates, whatever - you do not pursue the widows of the master and captain.  That is the Third World mentality by which children are enslaved to labor for the bad debts of their grandparents.

Losses are the price for profits.

It is a nice story that Caldecott Chubb, founder of the insurance company that still bears his name, came into the office to find the clerks wringing their hands over the loss of a ship they had underwritten. Chubb was nonplussed: "If there were no losses," he said, "there would be no premiums."

Post 6

Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 12:30pmSanction this postReply

I agree with you that we shouldn't make wife/children responsible for their relative's debts. I think that was disingenuous of you to imply that I am holding that position.

What my position actually is: An individual should be made accountable for his voluntarily accepted contractual obligations. Bankruptcy allows people to legally commit fraud.

Take Donald Trump for a real world example of a person who uses bankruptcy to legally commit fraud.
(Edited by Dean Michael Gores on 12/22, 12:32pm)

Post 7

Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 2:14pmSanction this postReply
Dean, I only pointed out that without bankruptcy laws, there is no limit to personal liability. In some states, husband and wife are a single economic entity. The US Constitution gave Congress the right and power to make such laws. Many of the founders were merchants. If a child can inherit assets, why not liabilities? You bridled at the thought of that as an injustice, but I only point out that is one of the logical conclusions from the assumptions.

We must differentiate Donald Trump from the corporations he is involved with.

Henry Ford went through two businesses before his third was successful.

Edward Lear went through three fortunes (and three wives) in his lifetime.

Donald Trump's life is an open book. In a capitalist society, discourse is the common currency: reputation is everything. If people choose to invest with Trump despite his record, that is their choice.

In a marketplace, we have successes and failures. Bankruptcy is a total failure. We have no word for "total success." Reality is not symmetrical here.

The fact remains that when you invest for profit, you accept the risk of loss. As I said above, quoting Caldecott Chubb: "If there were no losses, there would be no premiums."

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/22, 2:24pm)

Post 8

Sunday, December 22, 2013 - 3:35pmSanction this postReply

You are very slippery. Just to take a moment to bombard one of your slips: Net worth can be quantitatively measured in magnitude both when positive and negative. So "total failure" in bankruptcy is not very useful nor truthfully compared to market net worth success. How much is owed in a bankruptcy? How much is owned in a successful business?

Post 9

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 10:22amSanction this postReply

I don't know that it is so much bankruptcy laws themselves as it is the inconsistency of bankruptcy laws that are the corruption.

Michael and I were enjoying a WSJ Live presentation of Gilder on another thread; one of the points he makes is that in order for enterprise/entrepreneurial 'surprise' to generate new knowledge/wealth, one of the things required is a 'quiet/predictable channel/carrier' -- as in, a constant and predictable set of government regulations that aren't written on quicksand.

In an alternate universe(not the one we currently enjoy), a constant set of backruptcy laws become part of the constant and predictable channel noise; it is possible to plan around them, and assess and manage risk in a world where they exist as known constants.

What is less possible is, in a world where those laws are fluid and subject to daily change, or to the random crapshoot of the judge of the moment, the intelligent assessment of risk becomes impossible.

It has been often said of the GM bondholders that they should have known they were taking on the risk of ... a capricious government of will, where a someday future dictator would, with the sweep of a pen, steal assets from some and assign them to others at the point of a gun.

That is the exact -opposite- function of a rational government that is trying to protect the engines of prosperity. That is the action of an infestation trying to destroy those engines.

The current infestation is precisely targeting the engines of capitalism, to destroy capitalism, and in the wreckage, offer up a completely alternative model of tribal organization.

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste...or, to not initiate.


p.s: witness the current dictum du jour, regarding ObamaCare.

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 12/23, 10:25am)

Post 10

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 12:16pmSanction this postReply
(As per my previous posts the problem of people gaming bankruptcy laws originate within in the existence of representative government.)
However may I suggest adding a provision lasting a lifetime that "reaffirms all debts" should the filer begin to require a second fortune after and/or because of the bankruptcy.
This would allow the hopelessly indebted person relief (that is reasonable) and protect creditors from unscrupulous filers gaming the system.
Their acquired wealth from a second fortune would of course need to be limited (to some amount) and at that point, debts of previous bankruptcy filling would be 'reaffirmed' and need to be paid before the person retains more wealth.
Of course some would say, 1.) There is no way to know what the 'second fortune' of the debtor would be, and 2.) because each type of industry has it's own level of capital requirements to qualify for funding, there is no way to know what the proper level of acquired wealth should be before previous debts are reaffirmed.
Of course, in a representative government there is no way to come to such a 'limit on wealth' without someone speaking for others.
Not to harp on this issue but this problem only arrises under a constitutional government not a common laws approach.
Notice (without help of representatives) we all observe, 1.) the necessity for debt relief after an honest effort has failed, and 2.) some people game the system. This gaming, morally amounts to theft.
I would submit free individuals (not 'spoken for' by politicians) could locate a jury or elect a judge (to a limited term) competent enough to tell the difference between what is a good faith effort to make a business venture work vs. someone swindling people could be found such that each in particular case could be presented clearly and decided if a second debt relief is appropriate or not.
I don't care how complex the issue, I see no reason for politicians to exist at all.
(My view of the constitution being an empowering of political offices as opposed to a grantor of political rights. The constitution say in effect: This office has this power, this office has this power and check over that one, and people who hold these offices 'promise' not to take away free speech, guns, etc. Submit to rule and we 'promise not to rule you.)
Not to change the subject but as far as capitalism goes I don't see the causal link between profit and risk. Just venturing out and trying something will involve risk. There is also risk in new/unproven ideas. And, since, by definition, it is new, there is little or no competition so if the idea works it maybe profitable - OKAY TRUE.
This risk is indicative of activity it isn't the source of profit. Profit is a result of the production of the activity. For example, a pineapple farm in Alaska has huge risk but no profit. If no production, no profit.
And Merry Christmas to you all!

Post 11

Monday, December 23, 2013 - 1:04pmSanction this postReply

Not just 'risk' but the intelligent management of risk. I'm not sure a pineapple farm in Alaska qualifies as the intelligent management of risk.

Not risk as pure random chance, but, risk as in outcome not guaranteed--even by the intelligent management of risk.

Profits are not guaranteed. Do we fish the shallows today, or do we fish the deep? Or do we tip the scales with knowledge and heuristics? Do we invest money in direct satellite real time IR imaging systems, to image the precise location of the Gulf Stream NOW, in near real time, because those damn NOAA charts are either old or predictions? (Yes, longliners in the 90s actually did just that.)

And when we do -- when we risk investment in that capital for improved knowledge, do we do so without risk? Or, today, will the area we want to fish be covered by a cloud bank, preventing spaceborn observations from being effective? Somedays we win on risky investments like that, and somedays we don't-- even when the risk is in acquiring new knowledge.

Or, does a wave hit the boat with enought force to damage the 28VDC supply feeding our IR system? Or, any of a thousand random slaps up the side of the head by the universe, not out of any sense of malevolence or benevolence but just because it is at finite temperature and shit happens?

Perfect knowledge is seldom available or static. (See LTCM and the long term bet that the weather in San Diego is going to pleasant today-- almost always a sure bet until it isn't.)

Risk in the universe is finite, is always with us, else all would be predictable and there would be no surprise and centralized planning far from the spinning machines would actually have a prayer.

The intelligent management of risk is crucial in yielding profit as 'surprise,' or else any idiot could realize it, guaranteed.

Risk is just a way of acknowledging that profits are nowhere guaranteed. Risk doesn't guarantee profit; just the opposite. Intelligence minimizes the risk but does not totally void it.

A corollary: declaring that one is unilaterally disinterested in profit is about as whacky as declaring that one is unilaterally disinterested in loss or risk of loss. I don't think the Universe cares, nor will it arrange things so that a non-profit will always break even in its expenditure of resources and efforts to accomplish some goal. As if the Universe was keeping track of such things: "Wait a minute, this guy over here is a non-profit. He isn't playing the risk/reward game. No profits and no losses for him, he gets to break even on every roll of the dice and.or theory of perfect knowledge..."

Risk is constantly with us; what varies from individual to individual is the ability to intelligently manage risk; to be sufficiently certain(not the same as certain) in the face of uncertainty to not only act, but to prevail enough of the time to net a profit on the effort.

Post 12

Friday, December 27, 2013 - 9:59amSanction this postReply
I should post a full review of Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein.  For Bernstein, many societies and cultures have "merchants" or "traders."  Perhaps most or even arguable all do.  But capitalism depended on something else: the calculability of the future.  (I will tie that to the rise of the individual and the recognition of individual rights later.)

Post 13

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 10:02pmSanction this postReply
Fish, pineapples, corn, squash, whatever point is no production = no propfit. Intelligent and well thought out or not. No one ever went to a store and paid more for the risk someone took to bring it there (a buyer does not even have away to tell what risk was taken by an investor. My example wasn't meant to be real.) A buyer wants the pineapple and will pay market price for it, they do not take into account the risk the investor takes. Risk is irrelavent to profit. Risk may keep would-be suppliers out of a market but the price won't go higher because of risk.

Post 14

Friday, January 3, 2014 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply

re: a buyer does not even have away to tell what risk was taken by an investor.

Well, we disagree. Here is an example of a buyer who has a way to tell what risk was taken by an investor, knowingly or not:

A buyer in a centrally planned communist/socialist piss-hole goes to the shell of what once was a store, with empty shelves. There is a rumor that next week the store might have either potatos or shoe-laces, based on the current five year plan in their failed centrally planned 'the' economy. It depends on how well that slave labor, tied to the communal capital of its oxcarts, does in relationship to the slave labor tied to the communal capital of its spinning wheels. Apply labor to capital, and well, we have production, do we not? Is easy.

A totally risk free 'the' economy, centrally planned in a command and control fashion.

Forget the hunger pains; small price to pay for a world without risk. Besides, those could be some really sweet shoe laces, you never know.

Or potatoes.


(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 1/03, 12:31pm)

Post 15

Friday, January 3, 2014 - 12:29pmSanction this postReply
The intelligent taking on of unavoidable risk in the universe, as it is, makes itself known when it is not being taken on.

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Post 16

Friday, January 3, 2014 - 1:08pmSanction this postReply

"But capitalism depended on something else: the calculability of the future."

We've discussed that before. For sure, an example of the intelligent management of risk.

But 'the calculability of risk' is not the same as the repeal of risk. It is a bounding of risk -- a process that itself has an uncertainty associated with it.

That is far in preference to 'totally unknown and unbounded risk.'

What still distinguishes players(on a fair playing board)is, their ability to assess even bounded risk and yet act in the face of finite uncertainty. That is the intelligent management of risk.

Take actuarials at an insurance company. That is what they do-- attempt to convert the business of insurance into a more or less sure thing-- insert risk tables here into the sausage grinder, add money, grind out certain profits.

But nobody knows when that hundred year storm comes. And nobody even knows for certain that it is indeed a hundred year storm, and not a twice in ten years storm. There is always finite risk that a hundred year storm is really a twice in the next ten years storm. (Sort of like what we were all told LTCM was ten years before the 2008 financial crisis...a hundred year storm. Ha!)

If risk in the modern era is truly tamed by its calculability, then why did AIG/GM/banks need so much bail-out? Indeed, what has the 2008-2014+ slow down/recession/depression(depends on what street you drive down) been all about?

What gunks up the risk works is not our imperfect attempts to intelligently manage risk or even the odd hundred year storm showing up too frequently; what gunks up the risk works is the criminal impulse to find ways to shed risk unwillingly onto others as an easier path to profits.

Government and its guns is key in that criminal activity, and the modern financial industry wooing those guns is selling out capitalism far faster than the extreme left in this nation is attacking it and tearing it down.

My current health insurer in the present mess-- HIGHMARK -- is a prime example of a government wooer. More I read, more their practices make me sick. They are jumping onto ACA and buying a local monopoly.

There was a theory, a political assertion, that the government bailout of risk in 1998 with the implicit FED backing of LTCM's play was a hundred year event. That theory was blown to hell in 2008, and in recognition of that failure...we double downed on the insanity.

And by double downed, I mean, we jacked up 3.5 billion in shed risk damage to the engines of prosperity into a 3.5 trillion swipe at the nation's spine. LTCM was where moral hazard was conceived. 2008 is where it was born.

Any day now? It's 2014 and counting...

Post 17

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 11:02amSanction this postReply
LOL but I hardly go to WalMart with this in mind. The scenario does not sound like a place where there is too much production.
(Edited by Paul Betzing on 1/07, 12:10pm)

Post 18

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 1:58pmSanction this postReply


(re post 13):


Interestingly enough, the first economist who thought seriously of risk was Keynes.


Early, pre-General Theory work with Russell, Ramsay, Wittgensten, and (later) Sraffa stated that Say's Law failed to accomidate both Marshall's supply function from the point of risk/pricing and and consumer propensity to consume.


In other words, production not only doesn't naturally lead to a sales transaction, but the assumption that it would neglects the element of risk management--hence, overproduction and stoppage.


Of course, Keynes started with banks; selling money depends upon a reasonable chance of getting re-paid.


The philosophical problem that Keynes ecountered (therefore Russell, Wittgenstein and Ramsay), was an adequate definition as to what 'risk' might entail. Therefore, the introduction of Euler's fancy equation to define how people 'marginally' react to buying opporunities.


In this sense, said Keynes, the early Austrians were correct--they just could't do the math.


Keynes further emphasized that marginal risk assessment is equally valid for both buyer and seller.

Moreover, that both parties operate under the same laws as premised is what makes capitalism work.


An interesting historical point of Keynes is that in General Theory he emphasized the buyer -sell distinction: while producers invest, buyers save. This concept then becomes a Keynesian-Friedman-Modgiliani-Scraffa free-for all, ultimately morphing into part of the the famous 'Cambridge Contraversy'.






Post 19

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 2:19pmSanction this postReply



(re post 12):


As for Bernstein, my quick perusal (plus mass hysteria from the econ dept!), indicates that he's best forgotten. People have been assessing risk for thousands of years.


For example, Athenian clay pottery was well-known throughout the entire Mediterranian, and beyond, into Gaul. The Gauls, btw, loved the pots for decorative purposes, but refused to purchase the amphorae, because they stored  their own wine into oak.


This is how, btw,  native Gallic cercus fragments glazed with wine resins can be found in the Black Sea, along with Athenian pottery.


While the industrial basis of Gallic cooperage seems sketchy, the volume of that found in un-gallic places clearly indicates big bizness.


As for the Athenian pottery, we have sites, kilns, receipts, salary and cost accounting to demonstrate what everyone knew at the time: forget all of that philosophical stuff--Athens is a trader giant with its own port, Pireaus.


In brief, if you know that the economics of factory production exist  in many places and times, would it not be prima-facie absurd to assign the virtue of 'risk assessment' only to your own epoch?


Besides, any reading of the massive literature on greek military affairs woud indicate the hellenes to be the acknowledged mastes of strategic risk. Whty would one not, therefore assume the same care in economic matters? 


Speaking as second-generation half-Greek ancestry, Bernstein's notion goes far beyond the irresponsibly un-read. It's nearly racially offensive.


Moreover, he's using a poorly- researched concept (what has he read?) to raise a bully-pulpit cheerleader defense of an idea that needs no defending: todays' capitalists are somehow 'special'.


Well, not. For the corporate boardroom-people to read his nonsense and think of how special they are is to indulge  in 'hubris'.

Worse still, their vanity is being provoked by an 'alagapalon'. Not good.






(Edited by Matthews on 1/29, 6:27pm)

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