Saturday, June 25, 2016

bruce wilder 06.24.16 at 7:59 pm

Lee A. Arnold: The basic problem underneath all of the discontent is not trade and immigration. It is that the elites really are protecting their ownership of wealth.

Their ownership of wealth and the power of domination and the claims on income and consumption that go with it.

As the advanced economies move ever further in the direction of “the rise of robots and AI ” and “anybody will be able to make anything” (using quotes to indicate that I have some quibbles about describing trends that way), many of the financial claims we call “wealth” look ever more arbitrary and socially counter-productive. IP claims in Pharma are among the most morally outrageous, because financial drones can extort millions by holding lives hostages over medicines that cost very little to make. But, really, the profits of Disney or Apple don’t look sustainable — how much will an iPhone cost in five years, ten years? how much will bandwidth cost? Why am I spending more than a few pennies to watch a movie?

Politically, the political opportunism of smash and grab is going to look better and better, if elites continue as they have, relying on wealth claims from ever higher mountains of debt. If anyone can make anything, and do it cheaply provided they don’t have to pay for the brand management or the IP, collapse of the global system doesn’t look like such a big threat.

The costs that matter in the long run are not the fictions spun out by the City of London in the wake of the computing and communications revolution, but the rising tariff charged by the natural environment, which really doesn’t want our exports and can not sustain the rate of our imports.

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