Monday, April 19, 2010

Developing content

I've been doing a lot of discussions on the Climate Collaboratorium.

Today I did a bunch of posts on the debate on behavioral economics. I'd encourage people to join the discussions.

I'm also interested in how the economic/political system affects our ethics and behaviors. It is widely accepted that the communist system in the USSR and in post-revolutionary China fostered inefficiencies because people did not have enough incentive to work hard. There is also anecdotal evidence that people take advantage of entitlement programs and benefits from being unionized.

On the other hand, it seems to me that capitalism also causes people to value only doing things that are economically rational. The belief in the invisible hand of the market has been used to rationalize selfishness and why it's best for everyone to be as selfish as possible. Within this context, there is no reason why anyone should curb their consumption or even care about their own grandchildren much less other people. Plus, the possession of things is used to express ourselves and gifts communicate to others how much we appreciate them, etc. This idea that things serve a large social function is discussed in the UK Sustainable Development Commission put out a report "Prosperity without Growth".

I think these are very controversial issues, but it would be great if we could try to study them more systematically.

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