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Suffering? Well, You Deserve It

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posted on Mar, 3 2014 @ 11:35 PM
This is a thought provoking article by Chris Hedges at:

The article discusses the Work of Avner Offer "an economic historian and Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History.

And he refers often to Mr. Avner's book "The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950.

Mr. Hedges' article speaks of the history and practise of "Just-World" economic theories and how they match up to reality or not.

This is a pretty deep subject and one that I'm not all that familiar with but am interested in. Upon reading I see concepts that will appeal to all ideological persuasions.

What I took aways from the article was the fact that when the predominate economic model does not predict or reflect economic reality then the powers that be resort to coersion to "make reality conform" rather then question their theoretical models and improve them.

Neoclassical economics, he says, is a “just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.

There is so much more and I hope that some of you will find the article as fascinating as I (and hopefully have a better understanding)>

“The free market norm assumes a frictionless exchange which maximizes everyone’s well-being,” he said. “The existence of ... coercive instruments, such as the prisons and the enormous military, makes you think that the theory is not all it is purported to be. There is a gap between what it pretends to be and what it is.”

Offer argued that “a silent revolution” took place in economics in the 1970s. “Economists,” he said of the 1970s, “discovered opportunism—a polite term for cheating. Before that, economics had been a just-world defense of the status quo. But when the status quo became the welfare state, suddenly economics became all about cheating. Game theory was about cheating. Public-choice theory was about cheating. Asymmetric information was about cheating. The invisible-hand doctrine tells us there is only one outcome, and that outcome is the best. But once you enter a world of cheating there is no longer one outcome. It is what economists call multiple equilibria, which means there is not a deterministic outcome. The outcome depends on how successful the cheating is. And one of the consequences of this is that economists are not in a strong position to tell society what to do.”

In policy, if the model is bad, then reality has to be forcibly aligned with it by means of coercion. How much coercion is actually used provides a rough measure of a model’s validity. That the Soviet Union had to use so much coercion undermined the credibility of communism as a model of reality. It is perhaps symptomatic that the USA, a society that elevates freedom to the highest position among its values, is also the one that has one of the very largest penal systems in the world relative to its population. It also inflicts violence all over the world. It tolerates a great deal of gun violence, and a health service that excludes large numbers of people.”

“Major ways of thinking about the world constitute just-world theories,” he said. “The Catholic Church is a just-world theory. If the Inquisition burned heretics, they only got what they deserved. Bolshevism was a just-world theory. If Kulaks were starved and exiled, they got what they deserved. Fascism was a just-world theory. If Jews died in the concentration camps, they got what they deserved. The point is not that the good people get the good things, but the bad people get the bad things. Neoclassical economics, our principal source of policy norms, is a just-world theory.”

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 12:08 AM
Does he state in his article what he thinks the solution should be? One thing is outlining the problem, and another thing is offering solutions. S+Fed by the way.

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 12:55 AM
reply to post by FyreByrd

Interesting read.

He reminds me of Edward L. Bernays and also Tolstoy a bit. I know their writings differed from this greatly but had a similar feel to me for some reason.

All things aside.....have you not yourself always pondered this? Have you not found yourself wondering what someone did wrong to be handed such a terrible existence? Or what someone is doing so right that they have been afforded such a plush existence?

Further, if you start to dig....and think that someone has a great life but is a bad person.....behind the curtain...their life may be hell. And a simple person that has little earthly material things may in fact be one of the happiest or "wealthiest" of persons.

But I find it interesting that this can be and is applied to economics. Not personal but regional or even global....the attitudes of this is disturbing to me....

but what do I know.....I may have missed the point of this completely.

S&F for a good read.

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 12:59 AM

Does he state in his article what he thinks the solution should be? One thing is outlining the problem, and another thing is offering solutions. S+Fed by the way.

The author of te book is a historian, not a 'policy maker'.

His suggestion(s) are academic:

Those academics who deviate from the central core doctrines, including in economics, are finding themselves defunded. Oversight committees impose quotas on academics and insist that the work conform to what they call disciplinary norms.

“The idea of the autonomous scholar is disappearing,” he said. “I am not sure many people even remember it.”

Another quote from

Offer said that universities, which should be incubators of new and radical ideas, are being stripped of their ability to independently critique the widening gap between reality and the false models of reality that are disseminated by the elites.

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 01:38 AM
reply to post by FyreByrd

I missed that point. Sorry!

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 06:18 AM
reply to post by FyreByrd

I think I can sum it up. "Trickle down, winners and losers, haves and have nots" are terms that make us all feel better when we see beggars, hunger, homelessness. They were the losers so they deserve their suffering. Doesn't that make us all feel better, now?

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 06:42 AM
If the well off are the only ones being spared ever.
Then it makes sense to cater to them always.
He may not be a policy maker but history can
certainly drive policy.
edit on 4-3-2014 by randyvs because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 07:40 AM
It boils down to Dr. Friedman and the Chicago school of economics.
Corporate opportunism, market and currency manipulation.
Read John Perkins "Confessions of an economic hitman" and Naomi Kline's "Shock Doctrine"

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 08:22 AM
When you are doing well for yourself, you tend to believe that it's all your own doing. When things go bad, the natural reaction is to blame it on someone else.

That is why there is so much hate in this world.

Talk about an elitist. They are a person who believes that they achieved/succeeded by themselves.
"It's your own fault."
"If I did it, anyone can.''
"work smarter."

^^If that were the case in reality, there would only be winners in this world. People are generally programmed to fit a mold because it was/is necessary. Roles. Castes. If everyone were a millionaire... You'd probably be broke. There is still a 'I'm better than you' mentality born into us all. People are jealous and spiteful to the point that it makes their personal success relevant. If you are immune to this, you're probably an excellent human being.

posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 11:28 AM
The just-world theory is new to me. It might be loaded to a particular point of view.

This article is heavy with command economy spin

If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.

Mr. Hedges begs the point that we live in a Neoclassical system. There is some neoclassical frosting but our economic system is a Keynesian, quasi-socialistic, mulcted from the top, system.

Offer, who has studied the rationing systems set up in countries that took part in World War I, suggests we examine how past societies coped successfully with scarcity.

World War One and the rationing it caused were created by socialism and collectivism. You can't have a World war unless everybody in the world does what a few dozen people tell them to do. Neoclassicism had noting to do with the declaration of war, or the formations of the armies either. Hedges has falsely associated rationing and war with free market economics.

Clinging to the old neoclassical model could, he argues, erode and perhaps destroy social cohesion and require the state to engage in greater forms of coercion.

True to some extent. The system is so bloated with inflation that any direct return to the natural economics could cause disruption, and lead to state coercion. The system is already broken-- good economics is about everyday life, not fixing deranged political messes.

When used to derive policy, an economic model not only describes the world but also aspires to change it. In policy, if the model is bad, then reality has to be forcibly aligned with it by means of coercion

Like the need for policy is axiomatic. Policy is not needed. Policy assumes socialism to be the only way.

“There are two core doctrines in economics,” Offer said. “One is individual self-interest. The other is the invisible hand, the idea that the pursuit of individual self-interest aggregates or builds up for the good of society as a whole. This is a logical proposition that has never been proven.

The invisible hand is individual self interest. Each person works for himself and the end result is all of the goods and services in the economy.

The change in technology and wealth from the 17th to the 20th centuries clearly shows that the Invisible Hand does in fact improve social conditions.

I haven't read progressivism in some time. I know its there from the "fruits" of the system.

To quote Robert Murphy -- "It would be harder to be more misleading without actually lying"

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