> 1. Ease of Communicating the Parecon Model to Others – Personally, I find that a major obstacle to many reforms is the inability to plainly summarize the proposed reform and the rationale for implementing it (i.e. as if one is organizing behind the proposal and has to persuade others of its’ importance, since most people won’t read the book).
Maybe in time most people will read a longer exposition, but, yes, at the outset developing compelling means of communicating is very important…sure.
> For example, Economists utilize terms like “free-market” “deregulation” “privatization” etc. to clearly make their case.
But the number of people who know what these words mean is minute – as compared to impressions associated with them that have nothing to do with real meaning, but only manipulation…
> I feel most of the proposals that we have discussed this semester would be relatively easy to articulate in a few sentences (although Roemer might be pushing the boundaries of this a little bit). Parecon, on the other hand, would be nearly impossible to explain in a few sentences.
I don’t know what the other proposals were. But Parecon is not a reform – it is an entirely new system. I think it can be summarized even in just one sentence, and in a few, and in many, like any other viewpoint. But if it couldn’t – is this a real criticism?
> Moreover, since Parecon is quite a discontinuous break from capitalism, even if an individual perfectly understood the details of Parecon, they would be unlikely to be persuaded to trade-in the few perks they get from capitalism for Parecon. I would hypothesize that the more dense and hard-to-articulate a theory is, the less probable is its’ adoption (when adoption requires persuading a large mass of people of the benefits of the theory).
So? Can this student imagine someone saying this to the abolitionist, the suffragists, the anti apartheid movement, and so on? Parecon is easier to understand than baseball, and the total information content to carry in order to be facile with it is, I bet, less than the total baseball information people need to carry to be able to chat well at lunch break, if one cares about such accounting…
> 2. Replication of Commanding or Coordinating Class – Albert is concerned about the Commanding or Coordinating Class under both capitalism and Socialism, yet he fails to find fault with the possibility of all the worker-, consumer-, and planning-committees which could after a period of implementation begin to have a set of interests “for itself” which diverge from the constituencies it is supposed to represent, leading to a re-coalescence of power and a re-constituting of a Commanding or Coordinating class.
It is very troubling what these students write. The book, with this as almost every other point raised – raises the point, generally more aggressively, and answers it. If the students said albert notices, and albert argues, but I think the argument he offered doesn’t work for this reason – that would be serious. That the student doesn’t do that means either he didn’t see the content – or he read it and it didn’t register. If the latter, it could be horribly written. That is what worries me.
At any rate – the above is dealt with when facilitation boards are defined and described, then later also in addressing complaints people offer. The folks the student is worried about have balanced job complexes, are remunerated for effort and sacrifice, and have no way – for reasons explained in the book – to bias choices in their own interest.
> 3. Role of Persuasion in Parecon – In many instances during the elaboration of Parecon, Albert mentions that workers and consumers will have to persuade council members at several differing levels of the importance of their preferences and proposals.
Well, sure, if you come up with an idea, you will need to convey it, to convince others to vote for it, etc. As compared to just ramming it down their throats, say.
> For example, workers and consumers will compete to demonstrate the impact that economic activities have on them – so that they get a say in how these economic activities are conducted.
This, however, is wrong…and doesn’t even have a meaning in a parecon, I suspect, but I would have to revisit the whole system to show why…in detail.
> A current example of the contentious nature of this process would be when a job re-analyzed and re-evaluated – workers, managers, and engineers all have a stake in how a job is analyzed and evaluated, and correspondingly these stakeholders all differ in their analysis and evaluation of jobs.
There are no workers, managers, and engineers – there are people with balanced job complexes.
> Who decides how much stake is given to each stakeholder in this process, and in all the other economic processes? What is the impact of this “politicization” of the economic process? Can this “politicization” lead to inefficient outcomes and individual opportunism (e.g. benefits accruing to friends and family of committee members, or those who can afford to hire lobbyists to make their case)?
People’s say is as much as possible proportionate to the degree they are affected…
> 4. Do consumers and workers know ahead of time what their preferences will be? Since people’s preferences unexpectedly evolve and change over time – what impact will this have on the efficiency and equity of Parecon planning? In Parecon what is the role for demand-driven, market push economic activity such as advertising and other things that creates demand where it was not present before?
It is just incredible that these students raise as problems exactly and only the possible problems identified in the book, and discussed, but the students ignore the discussion. They ask questions, which are dealt with but don’t acknowledge the responses or dispute them.
These students therefore trouble me…I hope they troubled the prof.
> 5. If a worker- or consumer-council disapproves of an individual or organizational preference or proposal, will an informal or secondary market develop in the trade of items not approved by the formal market?
No. There is in almost all cases no way it can – in addition to it being not permitted – and in the few cases it is plausible structurally, like those dealt with in the book but ignored by the student, there is so little for anyone to gain, and so much trouble involved in trying to do it, and such cost relative to benefit, that it would not happen.
> 6. Would anyone take a mentally-challenging job in Parecon? – Under Parecon’s balanced job complexes, those who work the same amount of hours receive the same income, despite the peculiarities of the job itself or the impact that the job has on society.
Okay, this student just didn‘t bother reading the model – just some little summary—maybe in the intro…
> The author appears quite concerned about remunerating those who endure physically-demanding work, but less so about mentally-demanding work.
Not at all. Effort and sacrifice is effort and sacrifice.
> Would people have an incentive to try to find either the least-physically-demanding job (input minimization) or most physically-demanding job (income maximization)? Would society really better off by having Mozart (Einstein, Van Gogh, etc.) mop the floors and take out the trash in their offices, instead of working on their next big creation?
I just don’t understand how students can write something for a teacher which is oblivious to the arguments offered in what they read…
> Does Parecon live up to the goals set by the author? The introduction lays out a formidable set of goals to which Parecon is supposed to live up to. With the information provided in the rest of the book, can Parecon live up to these goals and ideals? Do we have enough details to make this determination? Will the manifest consequences be overwhelming? Conversely, the question could be posed, is Albert trying to do too much in Parecon? Is Albert’s attempt to make Parecon the “silver bullet” for all those who want economic change, does he actually oversell its’ ability (for example, the discussion in the Introduction about Parecon and international trade)?
Did this student read the intro, and basically only the intro. This is not so unusual, it has been true of some reviewers, also, for example.
> Does he throw the “baby out with the bath water?” – Alberts argues that people shouldn’t benefit from genetic inheritance anymore than financial inheritance. Couldn’t a case be made that genetic inheritance is a “random event” and therefore people are willing to accept the results of random events (i.e. similar to rolling dice, or flipping coins); but people are less-willing to accept the results of non-random events, such as how the political and legal process defines how much people can pass on to their children in inheritance.
What people are now willing or unwilling to accept is not an argument that something is or isn’t desirable.
> The consequences and implications of the “social ownership of property” were not discussed. Additionally, the specifics of how Parecon organizations will obtain financial capital to form, operate, and grow were not adequately detailed.
Not discussed, where?