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March 28, 2006


Tracy W

Interesting post.

I think it is important to note that these different issues cannot always be clearly distinguished. One lesson I think we can learn from the 20th century is that distribution affects what people will produce. So for example, in NZ, the welfare system can create poverty traps, where as market income rises your cash-in-hand income falls, due to the intersection of reduction of welfare payments (including housing subsidies) and of rising marginal tax rates. This, unsurprisingly, has impacts on what people produce (and tends to shift earnings into the black market with consequent effects on the governments tax take). On a broader basis, I think the experience of the Soviet Union with War Communism indicates distribution cannot be distinguished from allocation.

"in connection with how we should combine market, state, and increasingly society (e.g., the p2p commons) to yield the right pace and the right mix of innovations. "

I don't think this is doable. We can't predict, or control, what future scientific or technological discoveries would be made. Otherwise they wouldn't be discoveries.

I spent some time working on policy issues around government funded science, and there doesn't seem to be a strong connection between funding applied to an R&D area and results. (A big example of this can be seen in the US government's funding of Star Wars, or for a more minor example, the lack of an ideal solution to possums in NZ. Meanwhile coming up with a menningitis vaccine was much easier).

I think the best we can do is to just set constraints on the environment, and hope that changes in prices and property rights will lead people to come up with useful solutions that increase economic growth within those parameters.

Or, hope that innovation will allow reductions in demand to be made on the environment before it's damaged too much. (I think, depressingly, that this is our best hope for reducing the greenhouse effect. Forget the USA, of those countries who have signed the Kyoto Protocul, apparently only Britain and Sweden are currently on line to meet their obligations. And Britain is only so because the baseline of 1990 was carefully chosen since Britain was moving from coal-fired electricity stations to gas-fired ones for political reasons).

Dave Iverson

I'm pretty much in agreement with you, Daniel,on this. And with you too Tracy W. You say, Daniel:

* "...we have to be careful about assuming that particular institutions, whether they be labeled market, state, or society, are inherently deficient or proficient guarantors of right allocation, right distribution, right scale, or right depth."

It reminds me of the old adage that in society we have both market failure and government failure all the time. We need to guard against both, but not with either a single-frame focus of "government failure, market fix" or a single-frame focus of "market failure, government fix." To compliment the failures, we also have both market and government work that isn't failure. Best we can do, I think, is to let our governmental workings not get too tangled up with our market workings. But we must not forget that in civil society government and markets are indeed intertwined -- legally, politically, socially, culturally, etc.

We need to recognize the importance of other institutions and their magic as well, whether they be theological, not-for-profit organizations, or whatever. It is when we try to force-fit all into any single frame that I tend to go ballistic. Pluralism, redundancy, openness, adaptivity, etc. are watchwords I like.


Solution is easy -

1. Remove ALL LAND from the market.

2. Return ALL LAND to common ownership by charging leases on all Land based on market supply and demand principles.

3. Return 100% of the resulting revenue from the leases back to every Man, Woman and Child equally in the form of a yearly Land Dividend.

4. This in effect makes the the Foundational Element of Life - LAND - essentially free to everyone. Those who lease more Land than average or Land that is commercially beneficial like near city centers would of course pay more in lease fees than the yearly Land Dividend. Those who lease subpar Land like in a desert environment may pay little or nothing in lease fees while still receiving the same yearly dividend as everyone else. The average parcel of Land would of course fetch the average lease fee which would exactly offset the yearly Land Dividend.

4. To manage resources we just use the current SIC and barcoding system used at the checkout and apply taxes to the various products depending on what resources are expended in their production. A good example of this would be taxing wood products and using the resulting revenue to replant the forests or taxing energy generated using non-renewable resources while placing no taxes on renewable technologies. Taxing in this manner is a very efficient tool for managing, replenishing and restoring our ecosystem while encouraging (through no taxation) products that both enrich our lives as well as maintaining the health of the planet.

The answers to the problems humanity has created are readily apparent as we learn to look at each one of us as equals in Life and restructure our social construct upon the Foundation of Life and return those principles to their Prime position which in reality they have always been anyways - it's been our understanding of our role here that changed.

Dr. Harris Meyer

Holy Cow. How did I happen upon this post from nearly 4 years ago?
Scott, what a wonderful and simplistic (not meant sarcastically) solution. Don't see how it really tackles all the points of this original discussion but I like it none-the-less...but who am I?

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