Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'd go further than you on this line.  Efficiency has gotten to a point that it is directly harmful to society as a whole.  In short, when the majority of people are not needed to produce the goods and services which they, and the wealthy, would like to consume, then they are irrevocably reduced to the position of slaves, as they simply have nothing to bargain with.  When the last weapon of the proletariat, the ability to withhold labor, is no longer meaningful due to the massive gains in efficiency and productivity thanks to modern technology, then their bargaining position in society as a whole will inevitably decline and they will be inevitably impoverished, as the distribution of wealth is primarily a political matter of power.

At its heart, efficiency is about cutting as many people out of productive transactions as possible.  But is a world where Central Asia has no purpose (where it was once a home to the great synthetic societies of the silk road), where the small shopkeeper and small farmers have been squeezed out by Walmart on the one hand and Archer Daniels Midlands on the other, or where the masses subsist on gruel handouts while squatting illegally in great camps of the dispossessed really an improvement?

In Japan, I see around me the decaying remnant of the boom time economy, one composed of hundreds of small businesses, small shopkeepers, and small farmers all tied together in economic networks of general equality and reciprocity.  Sure, this was not terribly efficient, but it worked, and created a livable society.  Now Japan seems dead set on following the lead of the US, with big box stores selling imported goods to customers who drive in from miles away.  It's sad.  

by Zwackus on Sun Nov 7th, 2010 at 02:09:29 AM EST

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