Camejo still bullish

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMnetzero.net
Wed May 16 15:02:31 MDT 2001


>>Therefore the "new economy" has not succeeded in solving the fundamental
problems
faced by world capitalism and humankind. There is no sign whatever that is
capable
of so doing, since the only discernible effect of the new-tech boom in the
US has
been to *accelerate the growth rate* of resource and energy use and of GHG
emission.<<

Mark,

    Just in case anyone has any doubts, I have neither said nor believe that
there is a "new economy" at all; nor do I believe that this misnamed "new
economy" can solve "the fundamental problems faced by world capitalism and
humankind."

    I do believe the advances in science and technology, the "digital"
transformation of the way many things are done in the economy, has led to
big advances in output and efficiency. Bourgeois productivity figures echo
this, although at best imperfectly, since "productivity" is output measured
in dollars, but precisely one of the striking things about these
technological changes is that they produce a drop in real (adjusted for
inflation) costs and prices.

    Also the productivity figures include a "service sector" component. That
component tends to be very difficult to quantify or price. What is the
"output" of a bank, so that we can figure out whether the amount of output
has increased or decreased per hour of labor?

    That's why I believe it is very important to make close, detailed
observation of what is going in in the actual real workplace; and what is
revealed is that in many cases, such as banks and TV stations, much more is
being done with many fewer people than, yes, 20 years ago, but also than
even 3 or 5 years ago, and that these labor-saving changes continue to be
implemented.

    I believe this is important in thinking about the current economic
conjuncture, and especially useful if one is tempted to adopt the typical
socialist/marxist rap about the coming catastrophic crisis of capitalism and
so on.

    As to the current energy crisis in the United States, I firmly believe
that what Bush is talking about, and what you are talking about, are two
entirely different things. Over the past decade, any number of patently
idiotic policies of neo-liberal inspiration have been adopted by various
levels of government in the United States. Among these are the idea that you
can simply wish into being a "free market" by diktat. Here in Georgia, for
example, the local regulated gas monopoly has been "broken up." Yes, Atlanta
Gas Light still handles all the pipelines, connections, disconnections etc.,
but now different marketing companies "buy" the gas for consumers and bill
them. Of course, "my" gas is immediately comingled with everyone else's in
the one and only gas pipeline system. But what it has made possible is for
the price of gas to spike to absurd levels and pass this on to consumers. We
see the same thing in California, in relation to electricity. What is going
on is simply a shell game to ream the consumers. It takes advantage, of
course, of the anarchy and dislocations that are inevitable in any "free
market," but preserves all of the benefits to an enterprise that accrue from
being a monopoly.

    It is no accident, I believe, that this crisis broke out with much
greater vigor once Bush was appointed president-elect  by the Supreme Court.

    As to whether the world is now facing "the big one" in terms of chronic
and long-term energy shortages, I would defer to your much more intimate
familiarity with the petroleum industry, but I still dissent from the degree
of catastrophism with which you make the case. It may well be true that
there isn't enough oil to be extracted cheaply enough and quickly enough to
allow the industrial countries, and especially the United States, to
continue on its binge of ever-higher consumption of oil and gas. But I
believe there are both the resources and technologies available so that
within a 10-20 year framework, the U.S. could drastically change its energy
consumption patterns and especially the inefficiency with which energy is
used.

José

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Jones" <jones118 at lineone.net>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2001 7:06 PM
Subject: RE: Camejo still bullish


Jose G. Perez wrote:

> I think Peter's *analysis* of the economic situation is essentially
correct.









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