Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Robert Costanza reviews Mariana Mazzucato's The Value of Everything, and highlights its focus on attaching proper importance to priorities that aren't reflected in prices:
(T)he current mainstream ‘marginalist’ concept bases value on market exchanges: price, as revealed by the interaction of supply and demand in markets, determines value, and the only things that have value are those that fetch a price.

This has major implications for ideas about the distinction between value creation and value extraction, the nature of unearned income (‘rent’) and how value should be distributed. As Mazzucato notes, it stokes inequality because the market, simply by generating income, is seen to justify its level and distribution: “All income, according to this logic, is earned income: gone is any analysis of activities in terms of whether they are productive or unproductive.”

Mazzucato lays out disturbing implications of the marginalist approach. These include (mis)measuring national income and real wealth, confusing financial speculation with the production of value, perverting the patent system (which stifles, rather than rewards, innovation) and undervaluing government and public goods, including public infrastructure, ecosystems and social networks. Her engaging and insightful exploration reveals how embedded the marginalist approach has become, and how it distorts economies’ ability to foster innovation, equity and real progress.
Economics has been defined as the use of scarce resources to achieve desirable ends. In the Anthropocene epoch of human influence on the planet, we need to redefine those ends, and reevaluate which resources are truly scarce. Value should be viewed as contribution to the sustainable well-being of Earth and all its inhabitants...Mazzucato’s trenchant analysis is a compelling call to reinvent value as a key concept to help us achieve the world we all want. 
- Meanwhile, in a prime example of how reality is being warped to achieve surface financial goals, Matthew McClearn discusses how Ontario's Libs are condemning citizens to decades of avoidable interest payments in order to avoid answering for the costs of power privatization.

- Richard Florida examines the role housing prices play in the growth of inequality.

- Howard Mann views the Trudeau Libs' determination to put the resource sector and its foreign profiteers ahead of the public interest through backroom deals as a hallmark of third-world governance. Andrew Nikiforuk takes a look at the Enron roots of Kinder Morgan, the latest beneficiary of the Libs' largesse. And Ralph Surette offers kudos to John Horgan's NDP for being able to tell the difference between the "national interest" and the profit motive of the fossil fuel sector.

- Finally, Isabella Lovin discusses the need for countries to not only reach their modest climate change commitments in the short term, but to reach net zero carbon emissions in a matter of decades to avert a climate catastrophe.

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