Home > Uncategorized > Where Donald Trump and the elites agree on protectionism: patents and copyrights

Where Donald Trump and the elites agree on protectionism: patents and copyrights

from Dean Baker

Policy wonks and pundits have been nearly unanimous in their condemnations of Donald Trump’s trade war and his primary weapon of tariffs. Tariffs are a tax increase on US consumers, raising the price of imports and the domestically produced goods with which they compete.

Retaliation by other countries will reduce US exports, costing jobs in other sectors. This is not likely to lead to good outcomes, especially when the basis for Trump’s complaints is vague, constantly shifting and often at odds with reality.

The one exception is with patents and copyrights. There is widespread agreement with Trump that China, our largest competitor, is stealing “our” intellectual property. They agree that Trump should be prepared to take steps to stop this theft and crackdown on China’s practices.

The so-called theft takes two forms. On the one hand, the complaint is that China does not adequately protect patents and copyrights internally. As a result, massive amounts of software, recorded music and video material, and other copyright protected items are sold without authorization.

The other form of theft is through requirements that companies looking to set up operations in China partner with Chinese firms and thereby share their technology. For example, Boeing is required to partner with Chinese manufacturers in its operations there, which then gives the Chinese manufacturers the ability to be competitors in future years. 

While the elites don’t like these practices by China, there is little reason for the rest of us to be troubled by them. Most of us don’t own lots of stock in Microsoft, Disney or Boeing, so why should we be bothered if China doesn’t respect these companies’ claims to patents, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property?

After all, these are forms of protectionism, and we know that protectionism raises prices and reduces economic growth. Patents and copyrights are in fact incredibly costly forms of protectionism. Instead of raising prices by 10 or 25 percent, like the tariffs currently on the table, patents and copyrights increase the price of the protected items by several thousand percent above the free market price.

If Chinese consumers don’t have to pay copyright protected prices for software and movies, this means they have more money to buy other goods and services from the United States. That should benefit US workers in industries that are not heavily dependent on intellectual property.

The same sort of story applies to Boeing and other US manufacturers that are forced to transfer technology as a condition of operating in China. If Chinese partners can then become lower cost producers and undersell Boeing and other US corporations, this should mean lower prices for a wide variety of products.

This is pretty much the economics textbook version of gains from trade. As the textbook says, trade has winners and losers. In this case, Boeing and other US corporate giants are losers, but the vast majority of the country ends up winning from lower prices.

Of course, this scenario reverses the winners-and-losers story we have seen for the last four decades. In this new scenario, major corporations and workers in the tech sector are likely to be the biggest losers.

For those concerned about inequality of income and wealth, the policy of allowing China free access to intellectual products should be a gold mine. This is true by all measures of inequality. As many have pointed out, there has been essentially no progress in reducing the racial wealth gap over the last four decades. Imagine taking a sledgehammer to the wealth of Bill Gates and other overwhelmingly white billionaires.

This should also be a hit to the relative pay of workers in the tech sector, a field that continues to be very hard for Black workers and women to enter. Sure, it would be great if tech employers increased diversity, but does anyone seriously believe the picture will look very different a decade from now than it does today?

In effect, allowing China free access to intellectual products will be a great way to increase growth while reducing inequality. We will eliminate vast amounts of waste, for example, by having patent-protected drugs that could sell for a hundred thousand dollars a year replaced by generics that might sell for a few hundred dollars.

We do need to find mechanisms for compensating innovation and creative work, and ensuring that the costs are shared internationally, but the patent system is an incredibly inefficient tool for this purpose. If this seems like a hopeless venture, a little arithmetic might be helpful.

In a decade, China’s economy will be twice the size of the US economy. At that point, China will have far more innovation to “steal” than the United States. This means the United States would actually benefit at that point if there are no rules that require a sharing of the cost of innovation and creative work.

The United States would then clearly benefit in a world where all knowledge and creative work was freely available, it is China that would be hurt. But it would be difficult to get this fact accepted in political debates. As we know, protectionists don’t have a very good understanding of economics, even elite protectionists.

  1. August 3, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Thank you Dean Baker for stimulating poignant thought on a complex relation through time with China. We all read stories of protections. Amazing. Now our US trade experts using Trumpian business canny engage the traditional Chinese center of wealth and culture as it shakes off the barnacles of its last dynastic collapse. China is an three thousand year-old country that survived attempted break up by capitalist representative democracies, while it was down. History awakes, propaganda reality evaporates.

    Yes, wealth gaps among fifty to one hundred year-old industries are changing internationally at an accelerating rate.

    Beyond that, my inquiries have led me to report China may also be into accelerating social evolution. China? Juggling with justice and law evolving at an accelerating rate? Cosmic powered biology creating a garden for democracy with leadership via autonomous peoples congresses? Irony? Science? Ironic science?


  2. Helen Sakho
    August 3, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Thank you both for the realistic analyses.
    All is well really. Let us invite interested readers to refer to the A-Z of the Observer Book Of MONEY. (2007).
    Extracts: “Money…It oils the wheels of global finance, pays the rent, and trickles into our bank accounts at the end of each month. But what is money really? Not just some cleverly designed bits of paper and metal, but a vast network of trust backed by little more than the law”.
    Please let us observe the latest news on who is managing the rigging of which elections and where, who is opening up new markets, dealing and wheeling on the stock markets, playing around with the value of currencies worldwide, finding new gold mines in “obscure” places, causing global warming at the cost of the “romantic” Eifel being closed down due to strikes by French workers, and the cost to innocent tourists attracted to the city of romance. I think, I would also strongly recommend looking up short clips of incredible contributions to knowledge by one of the greatest North African authors, Nawal El-Sadawei, now in her 80s and still fighting for justice, despite the most torturous life she has led as a teacher, writer and activist since the very beginning of her life. In her latest contribution she says openly that she is so old and frail now, and the only thing that keeps her going and saving her from dying, is to make one more contribution to peace and harmonious living of all human beings under one roof.
    We owe it to our students and to younger scholars to globalise the universality of authentic knowledge.

  3. Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
    August 3, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Patents & licensing patents is the adult thing to do. I have no idea what has been legally “stolen” from the US, as US firms license many components from Japanese, South Korean or Taiwanese firms, for example. I realize Donnie doesn’t like putting his cards down, since he appears to have a weak hand. Here, however, those firms of whatever national registration ought to have their reasonable use charges paid it seems to me. The aforementioned Asian nations will do better than the US in this regard, I expect.

  4. August 3, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Better to focus on the fact that labor’s share of output goes increasingly to the banking and finance sector. Technology and capital equipment plus human capital do not flow elastically across borders. There is great hysteresis meaning such things, once lost, are not as easily regained. Steel plants shipped to China do not return just because of a few tariffs.

    • Craig
      August 4, 2018 at 12:57 am

      Precisely, and the best way to not only resolve individual monetary scarcity and the hysteresis of plants sent to China is not tariffs but a universal dividend wed to a discount/rebate policy at the point of sale throughout the entire length of the productive/economic cycle. If you don’t have to worry about unemployment or lack of demand you could rapidly re-industrialize the US in as technologically productive and ecologically sensitive way possible. Just one of many “knock on” benefits of the new monetary paradigm of Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Gifting.

      Besides being terminally orthodox about finance and economics Trump being the likely poster boy for Russian money laundering would likely not be interested in a new paradigm.

      Anyone here interested enough to ask a few questions about how the above policies would fit into the economy etc. ??? Or are you all still caught up in the inevitability of inflation according to current orthodoxies? Almost no one seems the least bit curious or willing to examine my claims. Hate to say it but it makes one wonder who supports Real World Economic Review Blog.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 4, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Hi, Peter, as an American long resident in Europe, it is apparent that retaining strong unions is the only sure way to support most working people. Politicians won’t make it, as seen in that the current UK Socialist leader is not close to his unions nor to international thinking which allows working people to join across borders. Bernie Sanders in the US is all about education/health as a public expenditure, which won’t happen until better paying jobs allows the people to support themselves & to elect more centrist candidates. The wealthy otherwise will gain enough political power to protect their own interests, it seems to me.

      • Craig
        August 4, 2018 at 9:57 am

        Labor unions obviously have important functions in any modern economy not the least of which is and would be in an economy based on and aligned with the concept and policies of grace….an equitable share for workers of business revenue.

  5. August 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Very good!… Kudos to Dean Baker.
    In that vein, and as a sarcastic aside, I have always wondered if those proponents/defenders of «intelectual property rights» («no matter what»…) have ever considered paying just a small fee to the Incas for the development of potatotes…
    More serioulsy, Knowledge (as a «commodity»…) has this peculiar characteristic that, the more you share it, the more it grows… Funny, isn’t it?

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 4, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      Useful ideas, F-S, as I am now learning to code online for virtually no outlay. I am asked if I want to start a business using it. This is how clever capitalism operates. Trump’s folks probabily wouldn’t agree, but others are saying that there is a NEW world out there, which includes giving & sharing but most of all team collaboration as an expression of capitalism in a most innovative way.

      • August 13, 2018 at 5:07 pm

        … others are saying that there is a NEW world out there, which includes giving & sharing but most of all team collaboration as an expression of capitalism in a most innovative way. ~ Prof. James Beckman

        Netflix had an interesting documentary on this very subject (https://www.netflix.com/title/80191553). Washington State a while back created a new corporate designation, the Social Benefit Corporation. We can envision and a different model for capitalism I think.

    • Craig
      August 4, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      Yes, sharing denotes a duality to integrate which is the process of wisdom and continual and thorough integrating of a duality results in a thirdness greater oneness which is the signature of grace. And greater abundance is an aspect of grace as well.

  6. Helen Sakho
    August 5, 2018 at 3:12 am

    A good indicator of these “wars” is to simply observe the currency fluctuations as they relate to the real value of each, and the implications for each country and region’s import-export markets. Look which currency is “pegged” on a loose and wavy rope, which is losing value, which is trying to equalise with which, which will conquer the world (and how) and which is completely useless. Also observe the amount of money laundering (cash) that is taking place across certain borders in anticipation of boycotts and the like. And how nothing is really guaranteed to be of any value except gold, silver and the like, in the longer run. And even this, the really big superpower(s) cannot guarantee! In any case, can poor people anywhere eat a piece of gold or silver to survive, even if they had it?

  7. August 13, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Is an action capitalism if it doesn’t create a profit for those who “own” the action? Operating a factory, or airline, or trading stocks, or building the next space ship to Mars, or teaching a child to read, or constructing a building, or making Pepsi Cola don’t need capitalism for their tasks. Capitalism can be used to perform these tasks, or not. Many were performed successfully before capitalism existed. Does capitalism improve the quality of performing these tasks? Does using capitalism to perform these tasks improved the quality of the society and some or all its members? Does capitalism impose additional burdens on certain persons or all of society that would not exist minus capitalism? Put more generally, does allowing individuals, companies, or others to acquire a profit from performing such tasks improve society above any harms such permission may cause to society? These are difficult questions to answer. But these questions and related ones must be answered before humans allow capitalism to perform such tasks. That economists have convinced many humans to stop asking such questions is what’s wrong with economic in a nutshell. Copyrights and patents are one capitalist solution for the problem of failing or failed human creativity. Do we need or want these solutions? Do they work? Is there even a problem to solve? Who’s asking and answering these questions? Capitalism isn’t necessary for humans to thrive. When humans use capitalism we need good reasons to believe using capitalism is worth the substantial risks it poses for humans.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      August 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      Ken, if one considers knowledge & all our artifacts, we probably do more now in 10 years somewhere on the globe than our entire species did in thousands, although in each case diffusion is/was required to get the thinking & goodies out to the rest. Gee, my great-grandfather showed me how to sharpen a piece of special stone on two edges—wow. Now our teen-age grandchildren can enlighten most of us to the latest dance or fashion fetish.

      • August 15, 2018 at 8:30 am

        James, Sapiens is a creative and pernicious species. These together lead it to expand across the planet and to kill millions of its own while trashing the planet. Sapiens is also a great organizer. Not just wars and technology, but also social movements that alter human society and the planet at a basic level. Now the species is on the cusp of leaving the planet and plying those skills and knowledge across the universe. Assuming, of course the Species manages to survive its tendency to kill itself in racial, monetary, and conceit wars.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 15, 2018 at 2:32 pm

        Ken, you nailed it.

      • Robert Locke
        August 18, 2018 at 11:20 am

        I lived in France for five yeaars, traveling all over the country when doing research in family archives for my dissertation on French Legitimism. I had to learn aboutt menegoating ntalities far different from a working class person, growing up in Bellflower, California. I listened and observed, but my friend Comte Benoist d’Azy, when I was dealing with a French publisher about a book, told me, when I said I’ll do the negotiations, “no, I’ll do it, you don’t know how,” meaning that after all my exposure to France I did not know enough about Fremch business cu;ture to understand the subteities of negotiatioms.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 18, 2018 at 1:28 pm

        Robert, I know that feeling of being on the outside, having lived in Europe for 16 years. That’s what culture/nationality does, isn’t it, put us on the outside or inside of various groups?

      • August 19, 2018 at 6:59 am

        James and Robert, I grew up multicultural. My father moved us around the world till my 14th birthday. But since then I’ve become thoroughly American. But now and again I do experience glimpses of my former life. And I seldom feel outside any culture. I know the ways in.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 19, 2018 at 10:00 am

        Ken, I’ve operated the other way–since college become international. But there is a difference between generally knowing & a sense of belonging, is there not? I know Liberia, West Africa for example, having lived there while doing doctoral research. Aside from its many changes since, I can’t say I BELONG there as I can about much of the US.

      • August 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm

        James, there is a difference between being comfortable in a culture and being a part of that culture. Anthropologists do the former often. But the latter is sometimes dangerous since joining a culture can cut connections with one’s present culture.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 19, 2018 at 5:35 pm

        Ken, yes, indeed as Malinowski and many of my Uni California friends can attest. Probably I wisely did not accept an AfricanIst’s chair, as indeed I identified so closely with “my people” in Liberia. I guess I would have spent much of my life there, despite revolutions & disease. Not at all a bad outcome, but then I wouldn’t be observing this globalization excitement across many time zones.

      • August 20, 2018 at 10:08 am

        James, my anthropology PhD is in cultural anthropology. I determined right away I did not want to, or rather could not teach. So, I work in forensic anthropology. I testify as an expert in such areas as environmental and energy justice, financial fraud community impacts, and government reforms. So, I never had to choose between one culture and another in terms of my own life.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 20, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        Ken, that does make for avoiding tough cultural choices, such as mine about my Liberian girlfriend–or an earlier Japanese one. For better or worse I felt the adjustment for them in the States would be too great, while I was not at those times so imbued with their cultures so as to drop being what I was born into. Of course, for your work you certainly have enoough cultural sensitivity I would expect. My cultural sensitivities help me with non-American students & business firms, obviously.

      • August 21, 2018 at 8:53 am

        James, I’ve learned to be sensitive to cultural differences. But I’m also quite hostile toward some differences, as you’ve probably noticed in some of my responses. I strongly dislike fascism.

      • August 20, 2018 at 9:07 am

        If we carefully consider the difference between knowing and ability to oerste within a culture we are appalled with leaders who act without any knowledge
        Of a culture, without consulting those who do, with dreadful results.

      • August 20, 2018 at 10:37 am

        Robert, several years back I worked with the FBI and school districts on busing plans for desegregation. The FBI provided the muscle to force implementation of the plans. Most never worked as intended or failed altogether because the plans were based on either a gross misunderstanding or just plain ignoring those who objected. For the FBI it was a matter of law enforcement. For those whose children were being bused many uncertainties and aversions were in play. They wanted these concerns addressed. Compliance or arrest weren’t working. Robert, my efforts to explain and recommend ways to address these cultural imperatives were ignored. Took years for some of these communities to recover. Some never did.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 20, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        Ken, in the 1970’s I was called into the busing situation in the Los Angeles City Unified School District. It was obvious that hardly anyone could or would expend the mental energy to try to perceive things as did those in other social groupings. Lots of platitudes, but it was always “we” & “they” rather than “us”. While there were almost daily gang shootings, fortunately that was not a major issue, as we bused out of the “ghetto” & never into,.

      • August 21, 2018 at 8:38 am

        James, I bet LA was interesting. I worked on busing in Boston and several other cities in Massachusetts. But Richmond, Virginia was the most difficult case I had to deal with. There white parents destroyed the public-school systems rather than comply with integration of any sort, including busing.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 21, 2018 at 12:44 pm

        The public response to school integration almost reads like a map of extreme American racism, doesn’t it, Ken?

      • August 22, 2018 at 6:55 am

        James, extreme racism is not more common but also more impactful in the US than just about any other place on earth. There are both evolutionary and cultural roots for this difference. But then who listens to evolutionary or cultural anthropologists? And no one has much interest in listening to historians.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 20, 2018 at 1:00 pm

        Right on, Robert, business & government are both hurt by “leaders” who are insensitive to the needs of their constitents.

    • Craig
      August 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      The answer of course is that we don’t need capitalism. However, if getting rid of it means eliminating the quite natural impulse to profit from one’s actions….we might wait a long time…like forever. That’s why we need the integrative thirdness greater oneness of direct and reciprocal monetary distributism.

      • August 16, 2018 at 7:44 am

        Craig, what’s makes you assume it’s a “quite natural impulse to profit from one’s actions?” This impulse is a cultural creation of recent origin. It did not exist prior to 3000 BCE. And has had a limited existence in the non-Western world.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 16, 2018 at 9:25 am

        Ken, as you know, capitalism depends upon revenue above costs to compensate the owner for his capital & probably his/her efforts. How do you propose we collect capital to, say, repair all the bridges which seem ready to collapse in the EU? The operative word here is “motivation”, is it not?

      • August 16, 2018 at 10:51 am

        James, how about the old socialist motto, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Out of place perhaps in our individualism-dominated culture. But still a solution for the problem you pose. If there are no owners, then the shared wealth is enormous. But more credibly the money for bridge construction and repair could be created through taxes, since the bridges are for the public needs and public good.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

        Ken, it doesn’t seem to work unless one is conditioned to give their best for the group. We tried it in the Marine Corps. That’s why we shook up the recruits to get them out of their normally slothful ways.

      • August 16, 2018 at 1:57 pm

        James, culture is the framework within which each person’s life is created and within which that life makes sense. It’s not exactly conditioning in the psychological sense, since it is much stronger and more inclusive than this popular psychology notion. Cultures change. Due to many factors. Outside attack, internal failures on important problems, pandemic, and sabotage by one or more out of favor subcultures. If we want any of the solutions I propose to succeed large cultural changes are necessary.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 16, 2018 at 2:43 pm

        We are very similar in our outlook, Ken. I consider myself a psychological & economic anthropologist. You & I know that our personal mental characteristics are largely fixed in the early years, and seldom change much later. Yet of course we have seen young people change under military & academic experience. I, myself, after the early years designing microchips have begun to return to it because Artificial Intelligence is based on the logic trees contained in those chips. It’s all tied to the stat we know.
        The cultural setting moves on even as we normally remain largely fixed personally in our mental ways. Sure culture changes, with new generations being formed while the older ones cope as best they can. It is in that vein that I frequently note that Mr Trump represents a part of American society, circa 1965+/-. It’s interesting to me that the very conservative Koch Brothers had a father who married a stripper when he was in the mid-80’s. So the Koch’s had a Donald in their father, at least in this regard.

      • August 17, 2018 at 6:35 am

        James, psychology is an element of western culture, as is the conman (Trump) and the eccentric rich person. Along with the academic, and Freudian psychoanalysis. Also, stages of human development, western science, and logic. Along with a desire for the truth. These are not elements in many other cultures. So, changing cultures or moving from one culture to another is not like changing one’s shirt. It’s more like changing one’s brain, skin, and central nervous system. Multicultural societies are thus always filled with tension, not recognizing one another, and hatred/fear. That is, if and until the opposing cultures are replaced by a comprehensive new culture, or some sort of agreements to control fear, anger, and hatred, even in the face of massive cultural clashes. Cultural battles threaten everything, down to the most basic parts of what is human, what humans can do, and where humans come from. No other form of conflict is so far reaching and severe.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 17, 2018 at 8:40 am

        Ken, scientifically, that is by observation/measurement & sharing such with others who are so inclined, we seek in cognitive psych to learn how people are conditioned to perceive, how they structure their perceptions & how they make decisions leading to action, among other issues.
        As a former military officer & global traveler I often look into peoples’ eyes & watch their hands in some situations. I instinctively have responses given certain perceived signals. So that is my style when possible threats are noted. Others may hardly perceive such until or unless struck. That’s the stuff which each of each carries with us once we acquire it, it seems to my.

      • August 17, 2018 at 10:47 am

        James, you give a wonderful description of the western cultural artifact, psychology. It’s not shared by many other cultures, particularly non-western cultures. Your trick would be less effective in China or Japan. Chinese and Japanese go to great lengths to hide their eyes, particularly from strangers. Instead, check how and how low these folks bow when greeting you. Little trick I learned working with Chinese and Japanese Marines and soldiers on embassy assignment.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 17, 2018 at 12:41 pm

        Ken, during some months at Camp Hague, Okinawa, I found looking into their eyes could allow me to physically shake their hands, say. I take advantage of such discontinuities, being the friendly guy I am. Ah, Embassy duty was another matter, as you had all that protocol.

      • August 17, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        James, the embassy Marines and soldiers from China and Japan never broke protocol. Always correct and formal. Eyes down. If they looked up I always assumed they were reacting to something they considered an insult. With all the young Marines I commanded potential insults were more common that I would have preferred. Most embassy duty was spit and polish and protocol. Except for Libya and Lebanon. Lots of 40-mile patrols and snipers.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm

        Ken, glad that in at least two instances they got to use their training. And, yes, young kids are not necessarily sophisticated in the ways of others. Mine tended to get into bar fights in Naha, Okinawa over nothing which an adult couldn’t handle peacefully.

      • August 18, 2018 at 6:23 am

        James, the patrols and snipers were an interesting problem. But nothing we couldn’t handle. No IEDs. That was a plus. You know Marines. We train them to focus on their training and to always be the aggressor. Sometimes that makes them poor citizens after they leave the Corp.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 18, 2018 at 7:23 am

        Well said, Ken.

      • Craig
        August 16, 2018 at 8:07 am

        I don’t buy that it (the natural impulse to profit/acquire/accumulate or even to want more) didn’t exist before 3000 BCE. Tribal leaders and even the rest of tribal members undoubtedly had these impulses and desires.

        The question is how can we best integrate such into our technologically advanced culture so as to create the maximum freedom for the individual, the maximum social cohesion and the best environment for human self actualization.

      • August 16, 2018 at 10:37 am

        Craig, there is no evidence the kind of individualism you’re describing was a part of human cultures prior to the Western Enlightenment. And it’s still a rare part of non-Western cultures even today. Although here it is becoming more common as Western cultures influence non-Western cultures. And, there’s no evidence tribal leaders or members had these “impulses” prior to the invention of agriculture by humans about 10,000 years ago and with it the invention of cities, economics, and eventually capitalism. Tribal leaders were concerned with preserving the tribe. Tribal members were involved in meeting the needs of the tribe. Humans who failed in this work were generally ostracized or even killed as defective. Monarchs and religious leaders acted the same. The cultural artifact of individualism is quite dangerous for humans since it threatens the cohesion and discipline that preserves and protects human cultures and societies. Witness the disorder that continues to plague the US from the assertion of absolute individualism during the Reagan revolution.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 16, 2018 at 11:58 am

        Craig & Ken, don’t leaders have to step out in front from time to time? Alexander the Great & Genghis Khan were nothing but individualists, it seems to me, long before the Enlighten- ment. Try Aristotlle, Plato & Socrates, among the thinkers.

      • August 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm

        James, to use your phrasing, leaders before the invention of modern liberalism and with-it individualism, didn’t step out but rather stepped back. In other words, these “leaders” attempted to serve their cultures more fully and more actively than anyone else. All the examples you provide made such an effort. It sometimes failed, but it seems clear from their actions that was the intent.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 16, 2018 at 2:48 pm

        Ken, I have difficulty believing that the Mongolians & Northern Greeks, or those people led by Attila the Hun, Hitler or Stalin, were all socialists at heart–or perhaps nationalists as they killed so many “outsiders”. I see them rather as the manifestations of the “me” orientation. That of course ties them to arch capitalism, it seems to me.

      • August 17, 2018 at 5:48 am

        Anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski described the goal of the anthropologist thusly, “to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world.” In other words, grasp the native’s culture. Malinowski emphasized the importance of detailed participant observation and argued that anthropologists must have daily contact with their informants if they are to adequately record the “imponderabilia of everyday life” that are so important to understanding a different culture. This approach has one big downside, as Malinowski explained in one of his notebooks. After entrenching himself with a tribe of the Trobriand Islands Malinowski records that he awoke one night covered in mud staring at the moon and realized that if he did not leave immediately he would never leave. He walked over 100 miles the next 5 days to a European settlement. The point: culture is all encompassing and once you’re in getting out is generally impossible. This is what we see with Attila, Alexander, Genghis Khan, and Malinowski. The culture which encompassed them provided them a path to follow. They followed the path. Western culture evolved and changed until at certain points the individualism we encounter today was created and became an option for the actions of members of western culture. In the vernacular, Alexander, Genghis, etc. and Donald Trump today are simply “doing what comes naturally.”

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 17, 2018 at 8:30 am

        Hi, Ken, Malinowski was my lodestar in learning anthro. Thanks for the citation.
        When the first Holy Roman Emperor had killed nearly 3000 knight for not accepting Christianity, or a Mongol conquerer 1 million Hungarians for being foreign to him, or Stalin more than 20,000 military/professional Polish leaders as WWII began they were just being themselves. Perhaps many others in those distant times would have done the same. Perhaps many would today. But certainly not all would/could then or now, as they did not possess those “leadership” capacities.

      • August 17, 2018 at 10:34 am

        James, I’ve never argued that some members of a culture don’t stand out in terms of abilities or confidence. My position is these are not individuals in terms of following a path not laid out by the cultures in which they lived. These are leaders, yes, leaders of a culture.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 17, 2018 at 12:37 pm

        Hi, Ken, leaders within a culture given the opportunity. A lot of people would want that opportunity, but not so much as to lie, cheat or kill…too much, I have found.

      • August 17, 2018 at 1:56 pm

        James, persons acting within and to protect the culture of their life can perform cruel and vicious acts. But all within that culture. Zulu King Cetewayo when told the British were about to invade Zululand replied we shall defend our land and people in the Zulu way. The Zulu did precisely that and the British Army suffered its most humiliating defeat ever.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 17, 2018 at 2:15 pm

        Good example, Ken, of why we need to do our research on possibly significant others. Poor Brits seem not to have learned.

      • August 18, 2018 at 5:45 am

        Monarchs who don’t support the culture that put them in that role are either psychopaths or too stupid to be a ruler. History is filled with such monarchs and the oppression and bedlam their actions create. As to the Brits, they had their own “way” to put up against the Zulu – British Empire. For the Empire, the defeat by the Zulu was merely a temporary setback. Britain took over Zululand.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 18, 2018 at 7:22 am

        Yes, Ken, lose a battle but win the war. That indeed is what Mr Trump practices when someone effronts him, as where he implies that removing security clearances will injure those who have not bowed to him. That is an extension of his youthful preppie style of bringing a fancier auto to the prom because others have not acknowledged him adequately. Yet he somehow had those bone-spurs in his heels so he could not serve in Vietnam like the rest of us. Guess there are times when even great egos have no immediate redress.

      • August 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

        James, for all their arrogance the British were seldom cynical. They believed in their empire and would do what was necessary to maintain it. Donnie is both cynical and corrupt. He’s certain anyone disagreeing with him is just out for personal gain. Donnie will do anything to beat them to the prize – the money. Consider every action of Donnie with this background in mind. The big question is how long the sane members of government service will allow Trump to continue his cynical show.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 18, 2018 at 1:23 pm

        Ken, I’m 100% with you on this.

      • August 19, 2018 at 6:45 am

        James, the question is this, what can we do to fix this?

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 19, 2018 at 9:54 am

        HOW to fix means what social group, for starters, Ken. Many of us here are in basic agreement, but then our circle of people must be enlarged by contact & discussion. Give me the size of your budget, and I will give you a plan, because this contact/discussion takes our most valuable asset, time, does it not? This thinking is an application of how the internet can reach all. Otherwise, the road to Damascus is long…and in that example deadly.

      • August 19, 2018 at 1:59 pm

        I don’t have a good answer for this question. But I do know it will involve changes that shatter present cultural norms and the death or imprisonment of many Nazis.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 19, 2018 at 5:30 pm

        Yes, Ken, it is a tough question. We’ll see how various electorates work at it, I expect.

      • August 20, 2018 at 9:01 am

        James, I agree. The most difficult part for me is our passivity in the face of these direct threats not just to democracy but to the entire notion of impartial treatment through the law. Laws made by those to whom they apply. A very rare achievement in world history. Now Nazis and Fascists are working to end this. If we allow it there may be no way back.

  8. Craig
    August 16, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Since we can’t jump into a time machine and observe them it’s not possible to know. I would say that human cultural evolution is the interaction between partially conscious individuals and their environment. As grace is the quintessential natural integrative and highest ethical human concept and experience it is the concept that will both resolve problems (a problem being defined as simply the conflict of postulate-counter postulate) and enable us to attain and maintain better social agreement as well.

    • Craig
      August 16, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      That should read: As grace is the quintessential natural integrative state of consciousness and highest ethical human concept and experience….”

    • August 17, 2018 at 6:52 am

      Craig, it’s a lot more complex. Culture is created in the interactions of humans with everything, including one another. But then the culture thus created is used to evaluate and direct other interactions. Which then does the same, over and over. Grace is an element of western cultures, but generally not others in the world. The same with the notion of ethics. Compare western ethics with Confucius. It’s revealing.

      • Craig
        August 17, 2018 at 8:11 am

        Grace as I define and understand it isn’t just western. It’s human in its most basic sense, that is to one degree or another conscious, self aware. Grace, the state of grace is flow, free flowingness. Why? Because it’s human consciousness aware of and focusedly at one with the temporal universe which being of time also flows freely. Here’s the formula for the experience of grace as I most basically define it:

        [ (present space x present time) self awareness-consciousness itself ]

        It’s an integrated duality within an integrative trinity-unity-oneness.

        It’s an utterly integral and natural experience and because of its basic-ness and naturalness the conceptual and experiential aspects of it are applicable to any problem personal or systemic. Grace is a gift of the cosmos, an abundant gift. Vis economics and money systems it is an abundant gift of money insightfully and intelligently implemented at strategic places and times that will result in individual monetary freedom, systemic free flowingness and as I have enumerated here many times resolves the two most chronic problems of modern economies monetary scarcity and inflation. And a lot more “knock on” problems as well. It’s that powerful and applicable a concept.

      • August 17, 2018 at 10:12 am

        Craig, interesting. But can you cite some examples of grace as part of Chinese or Russian culture?

      • Craig
        August 17, 2018 at 6:41 pm

        Generally speaking China and India being influenced by Hindhuism, Buddhism and Taoism tend to stress the passive-internal-love-“standing in the light” aspect of human spirituality. Russia is similar in its serf soul kindness resignation concept. Their processes of consciousness unveiling/self actualization are similar in every culture but again the stress this passive aspect.

        Western spirituality arose out of and mixed with this perspective, but with Judaism and then Christianity it tended to express the act/action aspect of love, namely grace. This present time-extroverted perspective is likely why the west picked up science and technology more actively and progressively than the east.

        Regardless, human history at its most basic level is an increasing expression of its self awareness-consciousness itself….or in our current wonderfully productive scientific culture
        its re-discovery.

      • August 18, 2018 at 7:00 am

        Craig, I recognize that humans created all these spirituality notions. Including Christians. We’re on the same page there. What I’m having trouble with is the notion human history is “an increasing expression of its self awareness-consciousness itself.” Or, per your comment, “re-discovery.” I just don’t see any historical evidence that humankind is moving the direction you describe, except of course for a few unusual (perhaps even dysfunctional) humans.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 18, 2018 at 7:13 am

        Craig, a nice summary. My question, however, is to WHOM these characteristics are projected. Notice the continual violence between Muslims & Hindus in India, or Muslims against one another most anyplace in the world. Throw in some racism & America’s Southern Baptists stand convicted of heinous crimes against their Jesus. Aren’t we a joke as a species, even if we are “nice” to those in our own particular group?

      • Craig
        August 18, 2018 at 7:26 am

        “I just don’t see any historical evidence that humankind is moving the direction you describe, except of course for a few unusual (perhaps even dysfunctional) humans.”

        Yes, that’s because even though wisdom has always been there for humanity to progress with….for the last 5000 years the paradigm of Debt Only as David Graeber has nascently discovered has never allowed civilizations to do so. And the only way for that to happen is to awaken to the new monetary and economic paradigm of Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Gifting. It’s THAT important that this awakening occurs. A new monetary and economic paradigm will be the biggest progressive event for the species since the change from Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture, and because the coalescence of Finance’s monopolistic paradigm has so stressfully integrated into human life and its systems the end of it with the new paradigm will have many “knock on” effects for humanity’s other systems and culture…exactly as occurred when agriculture changed everything.

        Dysfunctional humans?

      • August 18, 2018 at 8:11 am

        Craig, in other words, you can’t identify any historical evidence either. Dysfunctional human = human impaired by lack of clear awareness or delusions.

      • Craig
        August 18, 2018 at 7:42 am


        This is a recent personal quote from my blog:

        “Religion is the abstract formalization of spirituality and hence at least once removed from the direct experience of love and grace which are its deepest insights.”

        All of these conflicts, violence and religious stupidities are a direct result from this fact combined with obsessively conflicted dualistic thinking and the failure to instead practice wisdom-spirituality whose thirdness greater oneness is the contemplation and self actualization of love in action also known as grace.

        Just another reason to accomplish the new paradigm so that we can acculturate leisure which will make creating the first contemplative society much easier and much more likely.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        August 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

        Craig, I appreciate our discussion. My take on it in action is between the believers & others. Switzerland has refused citizenship to a Muslim couple who would not shake hands with well- wishers of other genders, nor allowed a Muslim child to continue in school untill he shook his female teacher’s hand. Where does grace enter when one relgion has practices prohibited to it, but demanded by another?

      • Craig
        August 18, 2018 at 8:57 am


        “Craig, in other words, you can’t identify any historical evidence either.”

        I go by the obviousness of a zen saying: “Wherever you go, there YOU ARE. In other words the omnipresence of self awareness-consciousness itself, even if missed, forgotten or invalidated is and always has been there.

        The experience of self awareness-consciousness itself is not a delusion.

      • August 18, 2018 at 10:08 am

        Craig, still no evidence. And as a clinical therapist, I’ve witnessed self-awareness as delusion. It can and does happen.

      • Craig
        August 18, 2018 at 6:08 pm

        Ken, The experience of self awareness-consciousness ITSELF is not a delusion. Obsessive-compulsive dramatization of religious dogmatism or some other un-integrated, unhealthy problem is not self awareness-consciousness ITSELF.

        James, the answer is grace as in understanding and tolerance….and if aggression or violence attends intolerance it is grace as in morality and the return to rational order. The concept of grace is not just airy-fairy niceness, it also includes the recognition of and optimal handling of outnesses. Being love in action It recognizes all realities accurately, effectively and ethically

      • August 19, 2018 at 6:40 am

        Craig, we mere mortals don’t deal much with ITSELF. When I’m a therapist my job is to help my client recognize her/his actions and decisions, and to integrate the results of these into their lives going forward in a positive, if possible or at least neutral fashion. I’ve heard lots of words in this process, but never the word grace, except from those taught to use it by religionists.

      • Craig
        August 19, 2018 at 7:40 am

        Well now you’ve heard it from me without invoking any religious orthodoxy. Nice to have a new experience once in a while don’t you think. :)

  9. Helen Sakho
    August 17, 2018 at 3:25 am

    Humanity is GLOBAL, as is cruelty.
    We need to humanise Economics. This is our urgent task this century. A simple suggestion from each of us for a new agenda of teaching and research will be more than adequate to collectively develop a new textbook. Such a textbook will be a good one that can be exported as authentic knowledge and translated into all the languages that are still spoken. It might just do the trick. And, you never know, other Economists might actually join the teaching.

    • August 17, 2018 at 7:03 am

      Helen, economics is human. Humans created it as part of their cultures. If you mean humans need to re-invent economics to meet goals other than enrichment, growth, and winning, I agree. For this you’ll need to change important elements of several western cultures. You’ll need lots of allies for that kind of work.

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