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ARE YOU STOICAL ABOUT RESTRICTIONS?

Seneca (d.65 AD) a Roman stoic philosopher had answers for these questions:

Do you have to obey?

When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled in any case.

Do you obey graciously?
It is not possible that any evil can befall a good man, unperturbed and serene he turns to meet every sally, all adversity he regards as exercise, a test, not punishment. Adversity is exercise. It matters not what you bear, but how you bear it.

Is your hurt and suffering imaginary?  
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

A stoical population would be relatively compliant to govern, compared with those holding libertarian beliefs, such as Ayn Rand’s. Seneca’s approach would be less anxiety-inducing, until government becomes oppressive and totalitarian.

My writing on Covid 19 and Government is at https://martinknox.com

TURNING DOWN GROWTH

As economies strive to regain momentum after Covid 19, should growth of Gross National Product, as a national goal, be limited by stopping certain types of development?

Below are five initiatives against uncontrolled growth. 

Costs of growth to a community can exceed the benefits to the developer. Governments should prevent a few people benefiting from development at the expense of others who have no legal redress. Winner-take-all is a development game won by wealth. Legislation is required to fully compensate losers. See: Does Growth Benefit Some Groups At An Equivalent Cost To Others? M P Knox 2020.

A steady state economy is the sustainable alternative to perpetual economic growth. Responding to an increasingly constrained world, the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy has policy goals of stabilized population and consumption.

Growth could be opposed. Disillusionment with societal development by technological and industrial systems has created interest in overthrowing it by popular revolution. See: Industrial Society and Its Future, Theodore Kaczynski, 1995.

Instead of setting happiness goals that would inspire their citizens, governments fix on GDP growth and increase in wealth. It is proposed that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a suitable template for government actions to achieve real happiness. See: A Plea For New National Goals That Inspire. M P Knox 2020.

Happiness Alliance’s mission is to improve the happiness, well-being, and sustainability of all beings on our earth. It has sought the replacement of GNP by Gross National Happiness as in the nation of Bhutan. 

Control of growth could consider four other concerns.

Jobs and Happiness

Whenever a development is touted, the number of jobs to be created is stated first. Public perception of developments has favoured the creation of still more jobs when there has been near full employment. A surplus of jobs has choice: occupation, income, social status, sociality location that people value. People’s ultimate happiness’s vary: hedonism, eudemonia, flow and spiritualism are the main types. A person’s job defines the types of happiness achievable and what he or she will strive for. Thus the value of growth is partly the summation of employees’ happiness’s. Jobs that reward merely with income for superficial hedonism would be inferior to those bringing higher quality happiness. 

Growth should be sustainable

When demand increases there can be growth in supply, or a chain of supply. The chains go back to primary production from natural resources, which may be abundant or possibly scarce and unsustainable. The supply chains often employ people in permanent jobs. Attractiveness of growth in a chain of supply depends on the overall multiplier effect, measured as the increase in GNP (including remuneration paid) or counted in jobs created.

Increased supply of cotton grown for export from Australia would employ few extra workers, require few supplies, take scarce land and water and devalue incomes in other sectors (Gregory Thesis).

The best growth is at the end of a long and variegated supply chain, with its output value added to by further local processing. It doesn’t matter whether the goods are machinery or fashion accessories, because the happiness generated depends on employment quantity and quality created. Growth from mining of non-renewable resources using scarce water, with low employment and loading them unprocessed into ships, could be turned down as of low benefit to the community.

Individuals and the Public Good

Adam Smith proposed that supply of goods to market buyers was all the public welfare society needed. Jeremy Bentham wanted the greatest good of the greatest number. In welfare economics, the public good is decided with money amounts. A development was good if the benefits exceeded the costs and whether the winners could compensate the losers, or perhaps the losers could pay-off the winners. 

But in practice there are wider considerations in deciding whether to approve a development. Monetary gain, utility, resources use efficiency, humanitarian concerns and environmental impact all affect computation of growth. Keynesian priming of economic project ‘pumps’ with low value public works could be turned down if they do not overcome these concerns. Growth by digging holes and filling them in again should be turned down.

Personal goals and achievement

John Stuart Mill put responsibility for growth on individuals, who pursued liberty within the confines of societal laws required to protect other individuals.  Simone De Beauvoir in her book The Ethics of Ambiguity has explained that true freedom cannot be obtained by walking over others’ freedoms. Growth that takes away individuals’ freedoms should be turned down. 

In conclusion, growth should be regarded with rational scepticism as a sectoral interest. Cargo cults and cranes on the horizon are ideologies of past times and have no place in the present or future.

https://martinknox.com 

Pruning controls growth

ON USA ELECTION EVE IS SELFISHNESS WORSE THAN LEVELLING?

ON USA ELECTION EVE IS SELFISHNESS WORSE THAN LEVELLING?

Not according to philosophers Ayn Rand and Jordan Peterson. They regard self-responsibility for family, kith and kin as paramount. It does not deny the need to care for others but opposes collective responsibility, socialist levelling and altruism. Attitudes are entrenched, for example in Britain’s class system, illustrated in the photo from a Montepython skit.

It has taken a long time and many social experiments to forge minds of modern men and women. Aristotle regarded our ultimate end as happiness, by virtuous living, which existed in a mean state between excess and deficiency. Prodigality was excessive, stinginess deficient, but liberality was virtuous. Selfishness would have been excessive. 

John Stuart Mill acknowledged that individual freedom, of which selfishness is an aspect, has to be limited in the interests of the community. Nietzsche saw individual achievement as daring to oppose and endure hardships, such as social inhibitions, by the exercise of an iron will. It was the apotheosis of selfishness and when demonstrated by Hitler and Stalin, wilful selfishness lost popularity. 

Simone de Beauvoir regarded freedom as requiring respect for others’ freedom, as if selfishness had a responsibility to others. The notion of ‘selfishness’ encapsulates a priori individualism and opposes collectivism without implying a dearth of social responsibility.

Individualism has levelling as a secondary concern, with the social problem being the have nots, rather than the haves, who are derided as selfish. Selfishness, in these terms, is therefore better than levelling, because self-care does not make claims on others’ responsibility and care. 

This issue could be resolved by individuals taking responsibility for and helping disadvantaged persons, rather than by labelling others’ behaviour as selfish or needing to be levelled.  

What is your view?

https://martinknox.com

LOYALTY VERSUS COVID19

Yesterday I went to my local food supermarket with reluctance, unsure of what I would find. This week I had attempted to obtain goods or services from several other retailers. They had been closed, kept me waiting, conducted demanding identity checks, imposed automatic responses that denied my wants and prevented me from complaining about the treatment I was getting. These ordeals had made me feel isolated and superfluous. Without personal attention, consideration or courtesy, I began to wonder if somehow I was unworthy. I was fearful of COVID19.

Going to the food store, I prepared myself for unpleasantness as shoppers scrambled for the few second-quality goods I imagined.

With great pleasure I found business as usual, with produce in abundance (only a few empty shelves). Usual high standards of order pertained, with cleanliness, high quality goods and courteous staff.

You don’t need to know the name of the retailer. A loyal supplier is easily recognised.

Prices were as usual, not cheap but without the exploitation of COVID19 that a duopoly could apply.

This immaculate store validated my individuality. I was a free buyer, without my identity mattering. I was as good as anyone and could buy anything in the store. I had been a loyal customer and they were being a loyal supplier.

This one supplier revived me. Their civility made hope possible and austerity bearable.

Cynics will say they did it for market share and profits, with staff diligent in fear of losing their jobs. That’s okay. Bill Gates has shown that kindness can coexist with business. Not all profits are subtracted from the public good.

The fabric of our civilisation is fragile and no more anywhere than in supplying food. Would that all other suppliers e.g. banks, utilities, social media and government departments, were as loyal, as we strive towards a future together, against COVID19.

http://www.martinknox.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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