Comments on: Why the UK must reverse its economic course http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/ Sat, 21 Jun 2014 15:30:06 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: Straightup http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-701 Thu, 01 Nov 2012 17:55:17 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-701 Enough already! The President’s reelection was decided after the first debate. Mr. Summers fails to realize Americans rejected Barack Obama and his far left agenda in 2010, and they will do the same in 2012. This election is a gut ideological battle for the direction of the country. The United States of America gets off its ass November 6th!

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By: AZreb http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-666 Sun, 23 Sep 2012 12:27:59 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-666 I have to laugh when I read any article by Summers (or Geithner) telling the EU and its member countries how to do ANYTHING regarding their economy. It is like the pot calling the kettle black since Summers and his ilk led us into our economic downturn with their theories and actions.

In this case, maybe Summers could come up with some ideas to help us in this so-called “recovery” from the recession-without-end. On second thought, maybe he should not!

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By: OneOfTheSheep http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-665 Thu, 20 Sep 2012 19:19:24 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-665 @MaggieMP,

Our concerns have morein common, perhaps, than not. I find it stupid beyond words to focus attention on differences, i.e. where there is NO agreement (what can’t be done), than on were there is agreement (what CAN be collectively accomplished). The “journey of a thousand miles” always begins with that first step. As in the military, if one does what they can, where they are, with what they have, who can ask for more?

As in the military, if one does what they can, where they are, with what they have, who can ask for more? I agree that “…we’re at a far more “interesting place” than we’re willing to admit.” If anything that’s a gross understatement for the peril currently facing the human race. I, too, am “not religious”.

That’s almost a “given” if one is concerned about the long term survival of humanity and believes humanity to be at ever increasing risk of self destruction if there be no divine origin, direction, or long term “plan” to pull our “fat out of the fire” that we, ourselves, both light and fuel.

Without a time machine it is simply not an option to “… revise all civilization’s paradigms for the last several hundred years if not longer…”. And I think you hope for a solution better than I see as genuinely possible.

The “developed nations” of the world will continue to control the wealth and policies which will prevail for the foreseeable future. Their priorities do not and will not place a high priority (beyond rhetoric) on improving the lifves of people for whom there is no purpose or “future” (in the “Western sense”, beyond mere reproduction). They will not voluntatily impoverish themselves to “warehouse” the existing billions of humans already existing, leaving it to famine, sickness, war, or some combination thereof to “cull the herd” as has occurred throughout history leaving clear consciences.

The only alternate resolution for “…too many people, not enough earth” is the ‘off-planet’ solution. As you say, “We are where we are” and “…we can’t continue…” our present course if humanity is to survive. Once we sufficiently destroy this planet’s ““natural earth dynamics”, there simply won’t be a “… next run-up to high civilization”.

I think we MAY have a “shot”, still, at long term survival; but if I had to place odds, I think we’re going to blow it. Humanity’s “fate will be decided in the next few decades.

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By: MaggieMP http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-664 Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:15:46 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-664 Mr. Summers, OneOfTheSheep, and other commenters:

OneOfTheSheep: I’ve been mulling how best to reply (and promise to only click ‘submit’ once no matter what on my screen makes it look as if my message is not uploading!).

One of my problems in replying is that I can’t isolate repairing the economic system’s early 21stC woes from a need to rethink, revisit, revise all civilization’s paradigms for the last several hundred years if not longer. I’m not kidding, and don’t want this kind of complexity for any of us – but given the state of things, I think “everything” is called to question.

I believe you and I have exchanged thoughts before with particular focus on people accused of lacking motivation due to having been “spoiled” by “nanny state policies” (Neither of us used that term but I think it captures the concern.) We disagreed as to cause. I’m pretty sure we still do. (I’d suggest we’ve created a situation of ‘warehousing’ people with a predictable loss of ‘spark’ among many, and it’s become trans-generational.)

I do agree that “there are too many people on this earth for it to support an ‘American’ quality of life.”

I also fully understand how labor saving devices of the most ordinary household type and similar devices in workplaces have “freed up” talent, study, and skill for countless individuals, especially women. I do want to add that this has been true in societies that have made these gains, and to point out they’ve done so with ‘out of sight, out of mind’ dependency on rather brutal exploitation of earth and its peoples in the farther reaches. There are places in the world today where impoverished miners have half the expected life-span of people living in “advanced” societies who rely on their work. If there were a map of the world to show unhealed places of toxic and severely damaged earth surfaces – both at land and sea – I think the scope of our “advanced living systems” would be clear. (I’ve looked every so often for such a map – no luck yet.)

I understand advantages of ordinary labor saving devices. I was raised in a ‘wringer washer’ home and later lived slightly more than a decade with no plumbing at all (child in cloth diapers, a challenge!). I will point out that neither my grandmothers nor my mother were diminished by using wringer-washers. All were well educated, and although farming, all had time to participate in civic and broader cultural affairs.

In any case, I didn’t mean to suggest we should scrap advantages gained. I meant we should scrap *some* of what we think we’ve gained that in truth is simply excess (estate sized homes with 1 bath per bedroom; more broadly – planned obsolescence to increase sales).

I also meant to suggest we should scrap energy practices that increase the severity of our crisis, (fossil fuel use for replacing reparable homes, when anyone who’s run a sound thought experiment surely would realize the attendant externalized, ignored, costs to the very earth that we depend on).

We in modern industrial nations, especially but not only the US, are most responsible for earth damage on such a scale that earth cannot keep up to our pace. It cannot repair and replenish itself fast enough. Emerging nations may be clamoring for what we’ve got – but they’re not the problem. The problem is the one you identify: too many people, not enough earth.

We got to where we are by following practices increasingly geared to ‘funneling’ people into a cash economy, (now morphed to a ‘debt’ economy – significant difference, but I’ll leave that aside.) Enclosure acts – laws to justify denying access to life-giving resources – began the funneling process.

Enclosure acts have continued in other guises – NAFTA displaced high numbers of small corn growers in Mexico; investment interests that aggressively pursued control of food lands as far back as the Irish potato famine continue. Land is used to grow specialty crops for export while local, displaced, peoples starve. This happened in the Sahel region. It will happen again as large parts of Africa and highly productive food lands elsewhere are bought up.

Few corporate farm practices that replace small holder skills are “earth friendly”. Capital and chemical intensive farming has multiple threads of unhappy consequences. Part of the point I want to make is that land *distribution and access* as per the current economic system is *not* interested in “best outcome for all life and the earth that supports it”. Current corporate agricultural methods are generally oblivious to “earth care”, and since we’ve run out of “frontier space” on this earth, we’d best examine what we’re doing with the bits we’ve got!

Those with their life decisions limited by concern for “investment income” will wring their hands and “suffer” with those who starve. They’ll explain to themselves that excessively elaborate homes are “unrelated” to the suffering. They’ll say “we need more jobs so these people who’ve been displaced can enter the cash economy”.

They’ll want to build a factory or a service center .. the paradigm goes on … eventually, when they’re unable to find ways to put people to work making baubles or services to buy and sell, and when the earth has been reduced to an empty toxic ocean, and land where no birds sing … then will they say, “Oh, maybe we could have approached this differently.” ?

IMO, they are stuck in a paradigm that needs to be deeply examined.

Some years back funneling people into a cash economy seemed to eventually ‘work out’. People displaced by enclosure acts people could be employed in factories. A lot of them died in the streets as well as the factories, of course, but for larger financial interests – commandeering key resources and restricting access worked. Others willingly or unwillingly traveled to geographical frontiers and “built new lives” (usually this required destroying systems and people already living there.) Now that we’ve “been there, done that”, what next?

I’m not denying lots of significant gains made ‘over-all’ between then and now, but we can’t say it was bloodless and I’m not ready to say that bloody and early deaths of some were absolutely unavoidable and therefore OK.

We have no idea how the world would have ‘unfolded’ if we’d structured our economic system differently. We are where we are.

My concern is that we can’t continue. Things have reached the point where we’re about to “bring down the house” – that being earth itself.

I’m – as they say – “not religious”. But I do have a deep reverence, even awe, for “life living itself” in all its forms. You mention ‘off planet’ solutions, I’m noticing these more often in on-line dialogue. Personally, I don’t think we’re mature or wise enough and rather hope we settle-up here first. At this time, the ‘off-planet’ solution strikes me as similar to wanting a new house because we’ve trashed the perfectly functional one we had.

My proposal that labor be given a well-honored role among real, on-earth, solutions requires, as I said, a new attitude. I don’t suggest that “brains” are the problem, I want labor brought in among solutions in such a way that laborers have opportunity to lead lives of greater enrichment using their own brains, which have had access to education. I also don’t mean muscle should replace machines – in fact, my plan depends on robotics!

What I most hope to achieve is to chip through paradigm walls. Those who’ve most found ‘status quo’ comfortable are least inclined to even realize how ‘paradigm bound’ their models and thinking may be.

Most of the above (my own particular ‘hand-wringing’) may in the end be moot. The time of our discovering we’ve pushed earth one nudge too far seems possible sooner rather than later. But even with possible significant depopulation through starvation, war, and radioactivity “everywhere”, it’s my concern that the survivors will have little “natural earth dynamics” operating on their behalf. How long will it take oceans and toxic lands to repair themselves – 2, 3, generations – more? And then what.

Will we have learned nothing that might make “the next run-up to high civilization” an improvement? Will we still believe we should create scarcity for the sake of impoverishing one another and try to control who gets to claim wealth and power? Will we still believe in ‘enemizing’ one another to justify killing over resources, using gee-whiz toys in grand battles? Will we once again coach our children that empathy and cooperation, as normal and natural as aggression, must be dampened down because they are “weakness” in the “grown up” world? Will we repeat empty mantras about ‘democracy’ while simultaneously limiting participation?

I think we’re at a far more “interesting place” than we’re willing to admit.

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By: matthewslyman http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-663 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 09:30:00 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-663 Correction: This is the first Hadas article I intended to refer to:
http://blogs.reuters.com/edward-hadas/20 12/06/27/both-sides-losing-austerity-fig ht/

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By: sylvan http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-662 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 09:02:56 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-662 To pretend that UK deliberated the essence of the economic argument is ridiculous. Country Supper Dave and Murdoch’s Boy George promised to sell the rest of BSkyB to Rupert’s boy James. Rupert also demanded lower taxes, and that can only be done if the debt is reduced, so that is the basis for the decisions to abandon logic and economics. When Dave flew out to Murdoch’s yacht with his best buddy Rebecca, he promised to slash public spending and in exchange, Murdoch agreed to use his multi-headed press machine to elect Dave. So Larry Summers and Gordon Brown can discuss how stupid the economic decisions are till the cows come home, but UK’s decision are not based in science but in the art of the deal. And Dave is looking to have one more term so politics and secretive insider deals will rule.

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By: OneOfTheSheep http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-661 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 04:24:21 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-661 @MaggieMP,

Thanks for the kind words. You are obviously a “thinker” and your words sound straight from the heart. I would offer my differing “take” on some of your suggestions for consideration, no offense intended.

Whether slaves, serfs, peasents, or today’s “minimum wage” workers, the economic value of “bodies and brains” is determined by supply and demand. The brain of an author just beginning their first work may have “tremendous potential” for the future, but few, if any, know or even suspect it. That, and five bucks buys me coffee at Starbucks.

Like a geological survey, mere “potential” is worth only a fraction of the value of a proven, pumping well. The brain of prolific authors of “best sellers” can be referred to as a “tremendous asset” because there is tangible evidence of genuine economic value.

I am old enough to remember women whose lives were infinitely improved as “progress” and “relative economic affluence” made available the early washing machines, electric irons, gas stoves, indoor plumbing, electric light, refrigerators and air conditioning. Where would you draw “the line” between needs and wants?

No longer did their hands shrivel from constant immersion in caustic water, get scarred from handling poorly balanced stove-heated cast irons, chopping or splitting wood for the stove. Backs did not ache or become bent carrying water from an outside source.

With indoor plumbing, summertime was no longer a time of disease; people didn’t live half their lives with the pain of rotting teeth, fewer women and infants died in birth and appendicitis is no longer a death sentence in most of America. The family “lived better” before the sun came up and after it went down because one could see better with electric lights that were safer and brighter than candles, kerosene lanterns or gas light.

I don’t think you could sell many women of today to go back to the “good old days” I have described. The Industrial revolution was all about replacing human sweat with animal sweat, steam “energy”, electric “energy”, or “petroleum energy”; the latter three largely being produced by burning wood, coal or oil (or refining same).

Would you people on bicycles or treadmills to generate electricity? People aren’t hamsters, but if that was the sole energy source for TVs, we might have less obesity.

You are 100% right that the ratios of fuel consumed for fuel gained are rapidly dropping and no one can argue with a straight face that man is not eagerly destroying the earth’s rain forests and overfishing it’s oceans. Why? The reason is simple.

There are too many people on this earth for it to support with an “American” quality of life. This has been a truth ignored by those who should know better for far too long.
@MaggieMP,

Thanks for the kind words. You are obviously a “thinker” and your words sound straight from the heart. I would offer my differing “take” on some of your suggestions for consideration, no offense intended.

Whether slaves, serfs, peasents, or today’s “minimum wage” workers, the economic value of “bodies and brains” is determined by supply and demand. The brain of an author just beginning their first work may have “tremendous potential” for the future, but few, if any, know or even suspect it. That, and five bucks buys me coffee at Starbucks.

Like a geological survey, mere “potential” is worth only a fraction of the value of a proven, pumping well. The brain of prolific authors of “best sellers” can be referred to as a “tremendous asset” because there is tangible evidence of genuine economic value.

I am old enough to remember women whose lives were infinitely improved as “progress” and “relative economic affluence” made available the early washing machines, electric irons, gas stoves, indoor plumbing, electric light, refrigerators and air conditioning. Where would you draw “the line” between needs and wants?

No longer did their hands shrivel from constant immersion in caustic water, get scarred from handling poorly balanced stove-heated cast irons, chopping or splitting wood for the stove. Backs did not ache or become bent carrying water from an outside source.

With indoor plumbing, summertime was no longer a time of disease; people didn’t live half their lives with the pain of rotting teeth, fewer women and infants died in birth and appendicitis is no longer a death sentence in most of America. The family “lived better” before the sun came up and after it went down because one could see better with electric lights that were safer and brighter than candles, kerosene lanterns or gas light.

I don’t think you could sell many women of today to go back to the “good old days” I have described. The Industrial revolution was all about replacing human sweat with animal sweat, steam “energy”, electric “energy”, or “petroleum energy”; the latter three largely being produced by burning wood, coal or oil (or refining same).

Would you people on bicycles or treadmills to generate electricity? People aren’t hamsters, but if that was the sole energy source for TVs, we might have less obesity.

You are 100% right that the ratios of fuel consumed for fuel gained are rapidly dropping and no one can argue with a straight face that man is not eagerly destroying the earth’s rain forests and overfishing it’s oceans. Why? The reason is simple.

There are too many people on this earth for it to support with an “American” quality of life. This has been a truth ignored by those who should know better for far too long. The “Population Bomb” that concerned ordinary U.S. citizens in the sixties left the public conscience and has since quietly exploded worldwide. Is the ostrich in danger any safer in denial with head in sand?

There are billions in Africa, China, India, South and Central America that aspire to own the cell phones, TVs, homes, cars and food they see on television the world over. Will they accept your suggestion that these things will remain forever beyond their grasp, and that of their children and their children’s children? Good luck with that.

If a majority of human’s “purpose” is to provide “sweat labor” their whole life, how is their existence better or of more significance than that of a horse or an ox? Respect is like a “good reputation. It is something earned again and again, and not something given once and forever. On what possible basis would such “sweat labor” earn the respect you suggest?

Indeed, I would argue that if mankind does not very soon devise and implement efficient and environmentally sustainable sources of economic energy and food production, humanity is destined to turn this big blue marble into a big brown marble. We live in a time that most do not realize is one of the most peaceful in history; and yet there are more than enough crazies “out there” that would happily reduce this planet to radioactive slag within moments of gaining access to the necessary tools of destruction.

The only credible alternative is that the world will prioritize the resources necessary to establish colonies on the moon, Mars, and outward that can ultimately be self-sufficient. So long as humanity’s “eggs” are all in one basket, i.e. on this Earth. all the hopes, dreams, sweat, and sacrifice represented by all of man’s recorded history is in grave peril.

You can create any kind of society you want just by how your tax system penalizes and rewards people. When the U.S. taxes individuals who achieve increasing economic success at a “proportional rate”, at some point the incentive to “produce” disappears. “Success” is thus discouraged.

When illegal immigrants who jump our borders and America’s own” poor, unmotivated, unskilled, and unemployable are rewarded with tax incentives, literally “by the head” to produce ever more of themselves, these become an ever-increasing proportion of our population. History will look back and ask “What were they thinking?”

I believe a choice must be made between quality of life and quantity of life. Only by embracing the promise of technology can man discover the best and brightest path forward. The necessary economic “seeds” must be planted and carefully nurtured to maturity if our existence on this Earth is to become more sustainably productive and the lives of ordinary citizens more “meaningful”.

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By: thesafesrufer http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-660 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 02:49:38 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-660 The main reason is when the United Kingdom’s economy recovers and expands it discredits all of the arguments by Statists like Mr. Summers who advocate destructive monetary policy. The United States is experiencing its most anemic recovery from a recession in its history and Mr. Summers writes as if America is the ideal for the world to follow. What total folly.

In fact stimulus does work to rebound from recoveries. Stimulating the economy by cutting taxes and pursuing strong dollar monetary policy led to our most vigorous rebounds from recessions under John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. They relied on the Microeconomic vitality of the private sector when they cut taxes and attracted capital by raising interest rates.

Mr. Summers needs to read more of the work of Nobel Laureate Robert Mundell.

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By: MaggieMP http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-659 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 01:27:39 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-659 And could someone PLEASE delete duplicate posts! It looks like a few others had the same ‘symptoms’ as I did … comments stayed as if not submitted for incredibly long times. I even went on a 2 hr errand trip while one seemed to go nowhere! My last post is the greatest disaster in duplication – it bothers me … makes me want to grab the website and “fix it”!! THANKS IF ANYONE CAN TAKE CARE OF THIS!

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By: GrahamLovell http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/2012/09/17/why-the-uk-must-reverse-its-economic-course/#comment-658 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 00:40:38 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers/?p=258#comment-658 As a non-economist, please explain a couple of issues for me.

Firstly, why do you cite the USA experience as an example? The US economy is being held up by an ongoing fiscal deficit, which is nearly 50% of their taxation income. This looks like highly risky behaviour, which will leave a legacy like that of Japan.

Secondly, hasn’t Japan followed the strategy of attempting to stimulate its economy? Yet it has failed, racking up a government debt to the level of about 200% of its GDP in the process. Yet isn’t this the strategy you are advocating.

I might be naive, but it seems to me that businesses lack confidence because there is a doubt that governments around the world can actually fund themselves. If this situation could be remedied, this would be more likely to trigger a return to economic health than a simplistic attempt to jump-start the economy.

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