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Conventional Wisdom was a term coined by the elder Galbraith, whose last book was called The Economics of Innocent Fraud and which was precisely about the conventional wisdom of the serious people.
One of the many "frauds" that he says capitalism foists on us is that of "accepted fraud", whereby shareholders in a company are deluded into thinking they actually own it and therefore have a say in how it is run. I couldn't help thinking about "our" stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland. We taxpayers bail it out and to all intents and purposes now "own" it, as the Government keeps reminding us, yet I've never been asked what direction I think "my" company should take; have you? Another "fraud" highlighted by this great economist, who died in 2006 at the age of 98, is the division of labour and the wonderful contradiction it produces: "work is thought essential for the poor; release therefrom is commendable for the rich."


Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 07:00:51 AM EST
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Galbraith did not invent the term:
The term is often credited to the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who used it in his 1958 book The Affluent Society:[1]

    It will be convenient to have a name for the ideas which are esteemed at any time for their acceptability, and it should be a term that emphasizes this predictability. I shall refer to these ideas henceforth as the conventional wisdom.[2]

The term in actuality is much older and dates at least to 1838.[3]

Conventional wisdom was used in a number of other works prior to Galbraith, occasionally in a positive[4] or neutral[5] sense, but more often pejoratively.[6]

It's perhaps not an exact translation of "pensée unique", because it carries connotations of a conspiracy of dunces, whereas "pensée unique" has more sinister, authoritarian mind-control overtones.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 07:49:04 AM EST
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The existence of money is another fraud.

Money is pre-Newtonian, never mind pre-Galilean or pre-Einsteinian. It's entirely intuitive as a concept, and entirely wrong practically.

Economics doesn't make sense because the ethical and philosophical basis of NCE is social Darwinism. The point of money isn't to make useful things happen or to increase trade, it's to establish a hierarchy of winners and losers - and to increase the power and survival possibilities of the winners while torturing and killing off the losers.

The existence of money relies on an atavistic primate herd instinct. Banking and politics are instantiations of that instinct.

Which is why "work is thought essential for the poor; release therefrom is commendable for the rich."

It's going to be impossible to have sane long term planning and resource management until this motivation changes.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 07:55:36 AM EST
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ThatBritGuy:

Which is why "work is thought essential for the poor; release therefrom is commendable for the rich."

It's going to be impossible to have sane long term planning and resource management until this motivation changes.

agree 100%

i had a friend in the early seventies who told me the next and last great problem humans had to face and conquer (i should say 'come to peace with!) would be what to do with all the leisure time we'd have.

it hit me quite hard, coming from a family of workaholics, the concept seemed so alien, yet over the years i have reflected often on it, and now i find it quite prescient.

computers are picking strawberries now.

i guess you could better frame it as our chief enemy in life is ennui.

as a massage therapist i would add unproductive levels of tension, but they are far from mutually exclusive.

i find it quite obvious we have previously untold opportunities for cultural self-enrichment, and count ourselves fortunate in this regard.

along with mother's milk we have absorbed certain proclivities, which must be addressed and modulated, in order to become better, more rounded human beings.

chief among these is competition for competition's sake, a very cheap road to the wrong kinds of endorphins.

in hawaii, the biggest problem teachers have is the children want to help each other solve problems, in accordance with the millennia of experience in their genes. this indisputably noble seed of co-operation has to be cauterised, or the kids will be unprepared for the 'real world'. just as their ancestors were found wanting in the immune system dept, when craptain crook arrived with his boatloads of prime euro-nurtured colds, flu and STD viruses.

so to return to your excellent point, we need a new source of motivation to supplant the recipe for tunnel-visioned, over-specialised cog-in-the-machinehood.

it's no secret to me what can supplant that, but it may as well be, because it's impossible to explain to people unless they have felt it too, in which cases it is pure pleasurable validation.

to those unclued it doesn't look or feel right, to opt out of the status games, consumption marker collections etc.

the gulf between the two worldviews yawns, yet somehow must be bridged, if we want to arrive at different results that those surrounding us presently.

the level of communication i find here, and the gravity of the subjects we dare to discuss, are Good Things, and augur well for the future leisure society.

along with wealth distribution, should come the freedom distribution, that was only available to those with the luxuries of education and spare time.

along with the social justice side of things, that for example may permit all to eat, be housed and clothed, if food were grown and distributed more sanely, there would be a psychological justice, which would enable children of all backgrounds to enjoy a good education, in order for them to fully grok the wonders of the planet onto which they've been born, to learn the cautionary tales of world history, and to develop and mature their personalities in a well-rounded, globally informed manner.

nuff blather...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 10:16:23 AM EST
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