Re: "Men have become the tools of their tools" Henry David Thoreau
1. "... the world is amazingly not sorted along a line with "right" on one side and "left" on the other"
> I agree that 'ideas' and 'politics' are a different animals. I was merely suggesting that the text was perhaps coloured by the author's political views.
2. "What _is_ the cost in human terms?"
> We'll be here all night debating this one! Everything has a cost of course - Communism, Capitalism and all the other 'isms' :)
"In the 1970s and 80s, Herman Daly launched a broadside assault on the academic discipline of economics assailing ... its willful blindness to our looming environmental crisis. In pathbreaking and widely influential books and articles Daly as sailed the “stupor of economic discourse” by holding up to his colleagues what he called the “wild facts” of our ecological crisis: the growing hole in the ozone shield, the alarming evidence of rising CO² levels, the shocking rates of natural resource consumption, the frightening rates of extinction and loss of biodiversity and so on which mainstream economists ignored (and most continue to ignore to this day). The ecological crisis is caused, Daly argued by too much growth: “the scale of human activity relative to the biosphere has grown too large” and most especially, by ever-growing consumption in the advanced industrialized countries. ...
... corporate CEOs do not have the freedom to choose to produce as much or little as they like, to make the same profits this year as last year. Instead, they face relentless pressure to maximize profits, to make more profits this year than last year (or even last quarter), therefore to maximize sales, therefore to grow quantitatively. So automakers, for example, look to make a profit from every car they sell. They can do this either by increasing the rate of profit on each car they sell by intensifying production -- finding cheaper material inputs, cutting wages to lower labor costs or bringing in more efficient labor-saving technology. But they can’t increase profits forever in this way. Competitors can find the same cheap inputs, the same new technology. And they can’t lower wages below subsistence. So this avenue has limits. Or, they can try to maximize profits extensively - by selling more cars. In practice of course carmakers do both but increasing sales is normally the main avenue of profit maximization because, as Adam Smith noted, returns are theoretically limited only by the extent of the market. So facing saturated markets at home, U.S. car makers look to Asia."
> I know we are competitive animals but I think it's better to channel this competitiveness into trying to better ourselves as individuals ie self-improvement. Unfortunately capitalism clearly pits us against each other, resulting in losers as well as winners etc.