April 18, 2014

"In our quasi-religious fervor to compete, we have expected fabulous efficiencies, miraculous economies, infinite creativity, and dazzling innovation."

"Instead, we have found ourselves gasping for air in a sea of corruption, dysfunction, environmental degradation, waste, disenchantment and inequality—and the harder we compete, the more unequal we become."

So writes Margaret Hefferman in "A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition," which is trashed in The Wall Street Journal by Marc Levinson.

12 comments:

tim in vermont said...

From her bio: " She was born in Texas, raised in Holland and educated at Cambridge University. She worked in BBC Radio for five years where she wrote, directed, produced and commissioned dozens of documentaries and dramas. As a television producer, she made documentary films for Timewatch, Arena... "

She doesn't compete much, I see, so it's the rest of us who need to stop.

tim in vermont said...

Remember the scene in The Great Gatsby where the rich guy wanted all of his neighbors to thatch their roofs?

Jon Burack said...

The absolute best author on this issue is Deirdre McCloskey, whose first two books of a planned trilogy ought to be required reading for anyone who says the stupid thing Margaret Hefferman says. The titles are "Bourgeois Virtues" and "Bourgeois Dignity." In McCloskey's analysis, competition is crucial, but only in its capacity to unleash innovation, and innovation has lifted the entire world, or a good four-fifths of it so far, out of abject poverty astoundingly since it was released fully in the industrial revolution that began in England in the 1700s. Only someone of very narrow imagination and no historical perspective at all can convince herself we are not living already in times of "fabulous efficiencies, miraculous economics, infinite creativity and dazzling innovation." No matter what the temporary difficulties of our current economic situation.

Marshal said...

There are plenty of comfortable places in society for people who aren't that competitive. You just can't expect to be rewarded like those who compete at the highest level.

Ultimately that's the problem with people complaining about competition. They think the rewards can be generated without it. They should consider competition similarly to technology early adopters. Early adopters' willingness to pay outrageous prices for marginal improvements translates over long intervals into significant improvements in product at little to no price increase for everyone else.

But all the left focuses on is that they didn't get the first iPhone XII.

gbarto said...

The problem here is that it is true that corruption is rampant and the system is broken. Simply cheerleading capitalism won't cut it, for it is the triumph of capitalism - power in capital - over the free market that creates our problems. Inequality doesn't come because of competition. It comes when those who got theirs turn to political means to keep it. Schumpeter's End of Capitalism is the book to read on the topic.

n.n said...

gbarto:

The free market operates through capitalism. It is a fully democratic system. A free market describes a mechanism by which pricing and distribution are established by supply and demand. Capitalism describes an economic system where producers and laborers determine the distribution of their earned income. Both are necessary, but not sufficient, to recognize individual dignity, ensure fair treatment, and mitigate monopoly formation, especially through the exploitation of authority.

sykes.1 said...

Competition is built into the male genome and has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism or any kind of economic system.

Inequality is also built into the genomes of both men and women.

Schumpeter, like all authoritarian socialists is an idiot who knows nothing about economics or politics.

Henry said...

Objectively you could say that everything Hefferman writes in that blurb is true. What we expected is true and what we find is also true.

Ah, disenchantment, it's you again.

tim in vermont said...

"Competition is built into the male genome and has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism or any kind of economic system"

Exactly, in a society of perfect economic equality, where nobody tries to outdo their neighbors and everybody is equal and happy, how is a guy like who is smart, hard working, but unprepossessing, Like Woody Allen (like him, not him) going to compete for hot chicks?

It is not just built into the male DNA, but that of the female as well.

Anonymous said...

Post from Rationalizing Man explaining how we have liberal creatives to thank for the corruption, dysfunction, environmental degradation, waste, disenchantment and inequality coming in 3...2...1...0...-1...-2...-3...

gbarto said...

N.n. I don't think we're making different points. Capitalism as "government by capital" was just meant to underline that free market capitalism goes off the rails once it becomes cheaper or easier to buy politicians than to innovate.

traditionalguy said...

Capitalism requires a capital investment with a return for the investor. That system also requires a court of laws enforcing a Commercial Code and property rights. Ergo: it requires lawyers and Judges.

Do away with that system and you get an armed and totally corrupted police state ruled by a tyrant who then starts up slavery everywhere again (See, Cuba.)

Socialists like this lady are speaking nonsense that is designed to comfort us while we undergo a collapse in Capitalism here in the USA caused by the last 20 years of our Capital investment leaving us for China and its cheap and educated labor together with its Party mandated Capitalist system.