[FoRK] Mastering the art of living meaningfully well, Is America a Failing State?, The Great Splintering

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Fri Dec 30 16:18:13 PST 2011

"Umair Haque"?  Seems like a clever anagram pseudonym...
Betterness: Economics for Humans

He seems to be promoting very similar ideas to my Make City social contract concepts.


> *There are many kinds of looting. *There's looting your local superstore — and then there's, as Nobel Laureates Akerlof and 
> Romer discussed in a paper <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=227162>now famous among geeks, there's looting 
> a bank, a financial system, a corporation...or an entire economy. (Their paper might be crudely summed up in the pithy line: 
> "The best way to rob a bank is to own one.") The bedrock of an enlightened social contract is, crudely, that rent-seeking is 
> punished, and creating enduring, lasting, shared wealth is rewarded and that those who seek to profit by extraction are 
> chastened rather than lauded. Today's world of bailouts, golden parachutes, sky-high financial-sector salaries — while middle 
> incomes stagnate <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13663778> — seems to be exactly the reverse. Perhaps, then, our societies have 
> reached a natural turning point of built-in self-limitation; and this self-limitation is causing a perfect storm to converge.
> An enlightened social contract is not built on subsidies or "handouts" — whether to the impoverished, or to the pitiable 
> welfare junkies formerly known as "the markets." It's built on a calculus of harm and benefit not just accepted by a plurality 
> of its citizens (versus a tiny Chalet-owning, caviar-gobbling minority at the top) — and also a calculus that can be said to 
> meaningful in the sense that it results in real human prosperity. Without such a bargain to set incentives and coordinate 
> economic activity, even the mightiest, proudest societies will find themselves as bent old men on an endless plateau, 
> searching for a lick of shelter as the typhoon bears down.



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