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Socialist ECA

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  • BFJ Cricklewood
    No, I recognise that you (plural) are working on a
    Message 1 of 33 , Feb 2, 2002
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      << ROBIN:
      you apparently recognise that socialism would not
      entail a centrally planned economy. >>

      No, I recognise that you (plural) are working on a
      blueprint for a type of socialism without central
      planning. (And further that this blueprint is the
      central topic of discussion on this forum).




      << BFJ
      All these millions of final goods and resources have
      millions of alternative uses. And this, I stress, is
      the scenario facing a single person." >>

      << ROBIN
      Really? A "SINGLE PERSON"? Can't you see that this
      sounds like this "single person" [is the] the central
      planner? >>

      No, actually I'm damned if I can imagine how you
      jumped to that conclusion. Central planning is
      clearly something much on your mind in some strange
      way. Like a cheesy tune you hear on the radio and
      hate, but can't stop singing?

      The problem here is you snipped (and so ignored) the
      bit contrasting this consumer scenario with the vastly
      greater challange facing a central planner, who would
      need to simultaneously deal with all the millions of
      scearios that each single consumer faced.



      << BFJ:
      To put it simply once more, any given consumer needs
      to know what the combination of trade-offs they face.
      One steak or five burgers... one steak or a half a
      cinema ticket ... two and a half burgers or one cinema
      ticket .... etc etc etc. Ditto a producer. >>

      << ROBIN
      the economic calculation argument is about how you
      efficiently allocate resources, it is not really about
      the consumption of final goods which is what you are
      on about. >>

      But before you allocate resources you need to know
      what to allocate them for. If there is enough meat
      resource for 100 steaks or 500 burgers, how do you
      calculate how much to allocate for each? How are these
      opportunity costs transmitted to the consumer to
      enable him to make a rational and informed decision?


      << ROBIN
      the mechanism for ensuring the efficient allocation of
      resources without market prices in the light of thier
      opportunity costs(i.e. calculation in kind, a self
      regulating sysytetm of stock control and the
      crucially, the law of the minimum) >>

      Calculation in kind is precisely what causes the
      combinatorial explosion of choices problem.

      And it gives the consumer absolutely NO idea of
      opportunity costs - how many burgers he would need to
      sacrifice for each movie ticket, say. It seems to me
      what your blueprint needs more than anything else, is
      a practical alternative to this non-starter.



      << ROBIN
      you introduce a further consideration which you
      obviously believe will enormously complicate matters -
      "any given consumer needs to know what the combination
      of trade-offs they face. One steak or five burgers...
      one steak or a half a cinema ticket"
      Why in the first place do you assume that there needs
      to be a" trade off"?
      > ...
      > Why can you not have a steak and 5 burghers, one
      > might ask, to which you would no doubt respond
      > because there is simply not enough to go around.

      Because resources are finite. If you use a given cow
      to make steaks, you forgo the burgers. This is a
      simple fact true in ANY economic system you care to
      name or invent.



      << ROBIN
      your whole argument is not really about the ECA; it is
      about the inevitability of scarcity which requires
      some system of rationing

      What is rationing if not the allocation of scarce
      resources?


      << ROBIN
      Well.. scarcity is an artificial construct created and
      maintained by capitalism. >>

      No it isn't. Using a cow for steaks means you can't
      use it for burgers IN ANY SYSTEM.


      << ROBIN
      your whole argument is grounded on the presumption of
      scarcity whereas I am saying that this presumption is
      groundless >>

      No scarcity means you can use a cow for steaks and not
      forgo using it for burgers.
      You just cannot. The presumption is reasonable.







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    • BFJ Cricklewood
      ... No, I was merely explaining socialist and capitalist mechanics as requested by Stuart. (Why are you so desparate to believe I am advocating something?) ...
      Message 33 of 33 , Mar 14, 2002
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        > ROBIN: Ha! So after all this guff from BFJ that he
        > is not advocating any particular method of calculating
        > opportunity costs, we now discover that he
        > does indeed advocate representing costs along a
        > cardinal scale - i.e. in the form of a continuous
        > quantity variable (which is what afterall money
        > constitites).

        No, I was merely explaining socialist and capitalist
        mechanics as requested by Stuart.
        (Why are you so desparate to believe I am advocating
        something?)


        > ROBIN: It is of course self evidently true that
        > by using "money and markets" one is able to
        > gennerate "information" about prices that will enable
        > you to measure the opportunity costs of your decisions
        > but ONLY in a very particular sense of the word - where
        > these costs take a monetary form.

        Since money is exchangeable for any other good, having
        costs in a monetary form means having any good in terms of
        any other good as well - the pure opportunity cost.


        > ROBIN : So what you are saying really only amounts to
        > a tautology - that only a market system can measure
        > opportunity costs

        It is not a tautology.
        And I have not ruled out the possibility of someone coming
        up with some new method. Or, failing that, socialists using
        money and markets themselves.



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