Austerity in Greece a Remedy not a Punishment for Self-made Ills

By Con George-Kotzabasis September 23, 2016

My short reply to a political theorist of the Jurgen Habermas School of Critical Theory

It is rather surprising to see a votary of Jurgen Habermas in using an analytic blunted tool that leads to the false inference that malevolent Europeans wilfully imposed upon Greece austerity measures to punish it. The truth is, that these measures were saddled upon Greece as a result of a consumer’s binge and an exuberance of public spending, fuelled, by a profusion of borrowed funds which inevitably pushed Greece into the quagmire of bankruptcy. Austerity therefore and the economic structural changes imposed on the country were a remedy, not a penalty, for the self-inflicted ills that past government policies, mainly of Pasok, engendered.

My question is, why you have not mentioned anything of the pledges, that Kyriakos Mitsotakis had made in his speech at the Exhibition of Thessalonica last Saturday, with their great potential to pull Greece out of its long economic crisis. In my opinion, a government, under the strong and astute leadership of Mitsotakis, will pull Greece out of its immiseration—as the Samaras government was close in achieving. An immiseration that the totally inept Tsipras government is exacerbating, with its historically obsolete neo-Marxist fixations and panaceas.

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How the Good Intentions of a Left-Wing Economist Lead to Bad Results

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 19, 2016

The following is an unconsummated reply to professor Andrew Leigh’s lecture with the title, “Markets Monopolies and Moguls…” held at Melbourne University, on May 19, 2016. This was due to the chairman’s instruction that only a sprinkle of questions would follow the end of the presentation and there would be no debate

I’m overly distrustful of people who use scarecrows, in this case the “mogul” Richard Pratt, to make their argument. Moreover, it is a term associated with sinister practices and easily tantalizes and incites the feelings of the crowd to purge the evildoers. But more dismally it is wrong in your case, as it is an exercise in a fallacy of composition: Just because there are few rotten apples in the cart it does not mean that all apples are rotten. The unprecedented prosperity of capitalism was not engendered by rottenness but by the creative, innovative, and dynamic spirit of entrepreneurship.

The great economic historian, Fernand Braudel, depicts the shifts of capitalist centres and their entrepreneurial moguls, from Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, to New York, spreading boundless prosperity to these metropolises and their environs by means of the ceaseless division of labour, international trade and the capitalist dynamic ethos of entrepreneurial creation. It was the sun-king of entrepreneurial capitalism that had pulled millions of people out of the sunless caves of poverty into the sunlit vistas of capitalist plenitude, heightening their standard of living, for the first time in history, on ever-higher plateaus.

(The scientific writer, Arthur Koestler, contends that the great discoveries of science were motivated by ambition, competition, and vanity, which happen also to be the inherent characteristics of capitalist moguls.)

You have mentioned a lot of negatives about “bigness” and market concentration but not the fact that they rather have a short life since there is no blockage of entry in a competitive economy to other entrepreneurs into these concentrated areas. One example, the entry of the innovative entrepreneur ALDI into the food-chain services and its reduction of the prices of its products in comparison to other chains, not only attracted many consumers to its stores but also forced the other two major super markets of COLES and WOOLWORTH to reduce their prices at the feel of the competitive pinch of the newcomer. Competition does not discriminate between big and small but it equally affects both.

But to deal with your argument that inequality should be a major consideration in competition policy, and regulating mergers and prices would be beneficial to the consumer. The competitive market in itself, without the need of regulation, spreads its cheaper products to an ever-greater number of consumers and therefore decreases inequality. The competition of Telstra and Optus is an example. The same applies to iPods. Ride a train, a bus, or a tram and you will see even the lower classes fully equipped with these cheaper gadgets of a competitive technology and once again the line of inequality is lowered down for the less wealthy consumer.

It is not the business of government to regulate mergers and pricing. This is the bailiwick of entrepreneurs who decide if such a merger will be profitable, whether it will be able to compete with an already established corporation producing the same product, and setting its price on such a level that it will attract consumers to buy its product en masse. Furthermore, as far as the regulation is close to the estimates and interests of the entrepreneurs it is superfluous; and as far as it is distanced from these estimates and interests, it is destructive. No businessman will invest his money in a venture where profit is unattainable. Hence, your regulation, that aborts the setting-up of a merger that would produce cheaper products for the consumer, by depriving the latter from having these goods, increases the inequality of the mass consumer. Not surprisingly, as often happens, good intentions lead to bad results.

Therefore, your proposal of government dirigisme as a panacea in regards to competition and regulation is inutile, fanciful, and fallacious, and more perniciously may turn out to be a destructive force.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

 

 

Marx and his Reincarnation Continue to be Hotbed of Gross Errata

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following is a very brief reply to professor of economics Kostas Lapavitsas, and former member of Parliament with the Party of Syriza, to his thesis, that Greece can achieve its national sovereignty only by going back to its own currency, i.e., the drachma, delivered at the Ithacan House, Melbourne, on April 15, 2016. The three first paragraphs were omitted from my response as I assumed regrettably wrongly, that the time allotted to the questioners at the meeting would be too short and hence I did not include them.

 

Professor Lapavitsas, allow me to make a short comment before I come to my question, as at the start I want to point out what I believe to be the roots of your erroneous proposition.  

Dialectical materialism even in its modern reincarnation of neo-Marxism, which you espouse, is a hotbed of gross errata, not to say terata (monsters), and hence a fallacious doctrine.

Yet the ghost in the machine of Marxism, despite its irreparable breakdown, continues to churn-out apparitional panaceas for the ills of global capitalism. One such quack panacea is your own proposition.

My question is: Show us one country in the world hit by absolute poverty, which, your implied return to the drachma entails, that by adopting your proposal has achieved national sovereignty and kept it; If you cannot show us such a country, then your proposal is a mirage, a will-o’-the-wisp, an occult fancy.

But what is more worrisome is that you are asking the Greek people, after the botched Tsipras-Varoufakis experiment, to be also the guineapigs to your own theoretical experiment which has hardly better odds of success than the Varoufakian one.

National sovereignty is the result of prosperity not of poverty.

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On Wise Vote of Undecided Hangs Hope of Greece

The conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny.

Michael Oakeshott

By Con George-Kotzabasis January 22, 2015

All the pre-voting polls show that the radical party of Syriza leads the liberal party of New Democracy by three to four percentage points up to this moment. This is because a sizable part of the electorate has been gravely wounded by the austerity measures of the Samaras’ government that were necessary for Greece’s economic resurgence, and therefore has been easily duped by the populist spurious promises of Syriza in its fixed-all campaign that will presumably pull out the country from the quagmire of austerity. If there is no reversal of this lead of Syriza in the next few days, then this party of neo-communists by taking power will throw the country into the vortex of economic destruction and bankruptcy, as a result of their barren, sinister, and deadly ideology, whose consequences will plunge Greeks into mass poverty and political enslavement for at least a generation.

This intransigent Marxist ideology is readily encapsulated in the  preannounced inflexible and inexorable hard stand of Syriza’s position toward the negotiators of the Troika, i.e., the lenders of Greece, by threatening to repudiate and shred basic tenets of the second Memorandum that had already being agreed by the Greek government and its European partners. The latter have made it limpidly distinct that any action by a future Greek government that would imperil fundamental clauses of the Memorandum, could lead to the cessation of funds going to Greece that are so vital for the economic stability and resurgence of the country, and indeed its survival. Hence any unyielding rigorous stand on the part of Syriza’s negotiators with the European Union would lead to the economic rigor mortis of the country. Therefore, the elections of Greece next Sunday are tragically Shakespearian, “to be or not to be.”

Is there a force that could prevent this tidal wave of Syriza from destroying the country? My answer is in the affirmative. It is the force of intelligence that is embodied in that part of the electorate that has not decided as yet for which party to vote next Sunday. The major part of this undecided part of the voters consists of former supporters of New Democracy who are grievously angered with the policies of the Samaras government but who nonetheless perceive the small improvement in the economic magnitudes that have been accomplished by these policies in the short span of two and a half years since New Democracy was elected. It is inconceivable to imagine that these voters will let fly the one bird that they have in their hand for the two birds in the bush promised by Syriza. Nor could one imagine that this middle class would cut their nose to spite their face and vote for the neo-communists. It is on the wise vote of the undecided part of the electorate that hangs the hope of Greece. The return of New Democracy into the government benches under the insuperably strong and astute leadership of Andonis Samaras will ensure that Greece will overcome all obstacles to its economic recovery. In times of severe crises only the strong and intelligent can indulge in hope.

The Search of Neuroscience for the Quintessence of Economics

By Con George-Kotzabasis—October 03, 2014

A reply to “of markets and minds” –by professor Peter Bossaerts

Melbourne University Magazine

Economics is the application of scarce means for the attainment of countless abundant ends. Since all ends cannot be fulfilled because of the scarcity of resources, human choice selects those ends that are more needful or pleasurable to man than those that are less so. The attainment of those more needful ends is a result of human action. These ends, however, are the fruits of the future and the inevitable uncertainty that is riveted upon it. Therefore human action is always speculation based, however, not upon the throw of the dice but upon ratiocination. Furthermore, actions are determined by the value judgments of individuals i.e., the ends they are eager to attain. These valuations differ among individuals due to the different circumstances and living conditions of these individuals and to the variable desires and wishes that emanate from the plethora of their personalities. There is no constant relationship between these valuations, as they emanate from the different wishes, desires and caprices of an umpteenth of individuals, and are therefore beyond the bailiwick of science to measure them; what scientific method could measure with precision the capricious longings of man and the uncertainty that surrounds his existence?

Professor Bossaerts’ attempt therefore, to identify and control the ‘cells’ of the economy and finance and the complex interactions that determine their course by the scientific method of neuroscience for the purpose of rationally directing the process of the economy to a more beneficial path, is in vain and is bound to fail. Science measures constant relationships in the controlled experimental environment of the lab but cannot measure uncontrolled innumerable variants that determine, in our case, the process of a free market economy. The search, therefore, of finding the inexorably elusive quintessence of the economic process by the tools of the hard sciences, though a laudable task, is purblind, as it cannot see nor understand that science is incapable of measuring the measureless.

The endeavour to supplant and redress, on the one hand, the imperfections of the free market economy, and on the other, the failures of government dirigisme to regulate and direct the economic process of the free market to a more optimal state, by the powerful algorithmic tools of science, will be found to be another futile attempt to direct the economy from a central command post, this time by the methods of neuroscience and not by an omniscient cabal of socialist planners.

In an imperfect and uncertain world, the free market economy will proceed and move by trial and error and continue to spread its benefits to mankind. But the intervention of man’s reason and understanding will substantially diminish the errors by increasing their correction in time by the power of man’s imagination and ratiocination.