The Betrayal of Capitalism

Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO – USA

“The idea that the markets are always right was mad.” This was the reaction of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to the meltdown in global financial markets. He blamed the current financial crisis on a betrayal of the “spirit of capitalism.” He argued that capitalist economies should never have been allowed to function without strict government oversight and regulation. He was right. It remains to be seen whether capitalism can survive the betrayal.

During its early stages of development, economics was called political economy. Classical economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, and Karl Marx were clearly as concerned as much about philosophy and politics as what we today call economics. They had clear ideas concerning whether economic choices were good or bad for nations and right or wrong for humanity, though obviously not always agreeing.

Over time, however, academic economists sought to distance themselves from the social and ethical consequences of growing industrialization by retreating to scientific empiricism. They began relying on the observable and quantifiable choices of consumers and producers. They accepted the preferences revealed by those choices as inherently right and good, or at least left such matters to the philosophers, sociologists, and political scientists. Philosophy and politics had no place in the new economics, other than dealing with “market failures,” which they thought to be few. The “spirit of capitalism” had been betrayed long before the financial meltdown of 2008.

Economic systems have acquired their names – capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism… – from their sources of dominant economic power or authority. Under socialism, workers – those who make up the vast majority of society – are the dominant source of economic power. Communism focuses the socialist power of workers on their local communities.

Mendo Slaughterhouse: The Community Comments

From Ukiah Daily Journal

[Reader comments on UDJ slaughterhouse article — no longer available — gathered into paragraphs for readability. A very few repetitious ones eliminated. The photo above is from a photo documentary of how sheep are humanely led to slaughter and processed down on the farm, in Romania, as has been done for thousands of years all over the world. Small-scale, on-the-farm, meat processing with mobile units, outside our population centers will be encouraged. The horror, filth, and unhealthiness of centralized slaughter in our Ukiah Valley will be resisted. Let’s hear it for the NIMBYs! -DS]

[Wendell Berry: There’s  a lot of scorn now toward people who say, “Not in my backyard,” but the not-in-my-backyard sentiment is one of the most valuable that we have. If enough people said, “Not in my backyard,” these bad innovations wouldn’t be in anybody’s backyard. It’s your own backyard you’re required to protect because in doing so you’re defending everybody’s backyard. It is altogether healthy and salutary.]

Traveler didn’t read the story. to quote: “Concerns about a dirty, smelly, offensive operation are addressed in the concepts used in New Zealand where plants are “clean enough to provide tours to the public.”
Study writers need to demonstrate — not just claim!– that a small meat plant does not have to be a smelly nuisance. How about posting some video from New Zealand? How about talking to neighbors of Redwood Meat Co. on Myrtle St. in Eureka? In this thread,… neighbors say they don’t notice odors.
Our Mendocino County grass-fed beef is delicious, and our cattle lead lives outdoors eating grass like cattle should. Let’s work together to find a location that works, to get our good beef to urban customers who want it, and who can pay for it, and to give good jobs to those who need it here.

Swedish True Crime Author: Henning Mankell

From THE GUARDIAN (2003)

[If you’ve read the Stieg Larsson books, and are casting around for a similar author, this is the guy. -DS]

Henning Mankell was raised by his father, a judge, in a flat above a courtroom, and has had an interest in legal systems since childhood. He worked as a merchant seaman and a stagehand before turning to fiction. Now, as the author of an acclaimed series of detective novels, he divides his time between his native Sweden and Mozambique, where he runs a theatre.

Twelve years ago, when Henning Mankell published the first of his Inspector Wallander novels, he could not have imagined how successful they would be. In his native Sweden the series was to triumph spectacularly and he has sold more than 20 million books worldwide; Wallander outsells Harry Potter in Germany and is top of the book charts in Brazil. Ruth Rendell, who is half Swedish, has read all nine in the original. She admires their edgy, convincing police work and social concerns. “There’s a belief that crime fiction should be about little old ladies solving murders in country villages,” she says. “But Mankell is modern, and he makes you reflect on society.” Questions of responsibility and morality – of justice and democracy – are explicitly raised, which is unusual in detective fiction. “I work in an old tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks,” Mankell says. “You hold a mirror to crime to see what’s happening in society. I could never write a crime story just for the sake of it, because I always want to talk about certain things in society.” He says the best crime story he has ever read is Macbeth – “a terrible allegory about the corrupting tendency of power that could equally be about President Nixon”.