Subject: Re: Fwd: Wall Street article on a new Cooperative
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 00:48:50 +0200

On Tue, Apr 20, 2004 at 05:56:58PM -0400, Jerry Dwyer wrote:
>
>
> Bernard Lang wrote:
>
> >On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 04:14:36AM +0800, Benjamin J. Tilly  wrote:
> >
> >
> >>"Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >>>Life's like that, ya know?  Much of the time the "problem" here is
> >>>just that Individual A succumbed to the temptation to confuse his
> >>>personal interest with "the public interest" just because everybody he
> >>>hangs out with is like him.
> >>>
> >>>
> >
> >I find this offensive to the many people who work or vote against
> >their own personal interest.  Public interest is hard to define because
> >it involves lots of conflicting issues, which can be valued
> >differenlty by different individuals ... etc ...
> >   The difficulty is more often in the definition of the goals, while
> >economists are more concerned with the means (and that includes the
> >understanding).
> >
> >
> >
> Steve also wrote, better than I can say it, that
> ------------
>
> More precisely, you trust in individuality, which means that interests
> are partially compatible, rather than wholly conflicting, and
> voluntariness, which means that nobody has to accede to an arrangement
> that is a net loss to them ex ante.  Adam Smith is not talking about a
> balance of power, he's talking about a system of mutually beneficial
> arrangements, provably so because they are voluntary.

No issue with that ... though its effectiveness depends on how society
is regulated.  For example it is totally compatible with slavery.

> -----------
> There is no reason to be offended. Steve means

whatever Steve means, what he said was that people who talk of public
interest confuse it with their own (this is the offensive assertion).
  At least, that is what I read.
My experience is that people who could make that kind of confusion do
not usually talk about public interest, because they don't care.

> that it is hard to make other people worse off if you don't have the
> ability to force them to do things that they don't want to do.

I just do not buy that.

My planet is being destroyed, though no one is forcing me to do
anything I do not want (just an example, though a major one)

> There
> are exceptions, and these are pretty well understood (even if people
> often don't agree about these exceptions), and the overall result
> still remains. Whatever "public interest" means to you or me, many
> of our actions actually make other people better off as those other
> people see it, even if we don't intend to do that.

This is essentially unstable, and it can only work with some kind of
regulation ...  and the whole point of the concept is to determine
appropriate regulation.

but I guess we are getting off topic for this list.

Bernard


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