December 28, 2006

The problem with Marxism is that it does not have an owner like Coca Cola

Sir, if we look at how globalization like a sunflower that looks for the sun orients its production facilities towards low salary environments and if we instead of the ownership of physical productive capital assets think about intellectual property rights and other modern means to acquire the control of markets that allows for the extraction of surplus rents, well then of course John Thornhill could argue his rebirth of Marxism in “Behold Marx’s twitch” December 28. But, we also need to remember that is we really set our mind to it we could in fact take any philosophers book or treaty and twitch and read anything we want into it.

Coca Cola was launched after Karl Marx death but long before the last volume of Das Kapital was published and it contained cocaine; was sold in fountains; bears very little resemblance to today’s vanilla coke but is still 100% more Coca Cola than what today’s so many Marxism are an original or even a Classic Marxism… whatever that now signified. The problem with Marxism is that contrary to Coca Cola there is no owner of the brand and so anyone is allowed to lift his hand up and proclaims himself a Marxist or a communist and, if he finds enough people to scare and are willing to serve as his amplifiers, then he can bask in the shine of a historical movement and sell himself as an ideologue with a vision.

Of course we all know it would be difficult for politicians to market themselves as brittneyspearists even when such a label could be more indicative of their movements but, as so many real problem exists out there in the world and for which so many new solutions have to be developed, it really behooves us all not to make things more difficult by allowing for the use of misleading labels. Marx missed his train, it is over, let us now please move on.

December 27, 2006

Valium or placebos?

Sir, Lawrence Summers with “A lack of fear is cause for concern”, December 27, put his finger where it really hurts since many of us never imagined possible the huge discrepancies that exists between how nervous most investors seem to feel, in private, and how little of this risk perceptions the market seems to be transmitting through its public pricing.

Somehow it looks like either the market has lost the connection with the investors or that someone somewhere is peddling some real potent valiums or extremely credible placebos. At least when Summers says “As institutions have become more sophisticated in their approach to risk they have felt comfortable in taking positions they might have been reluctant to hold even a few years ago” we know someone has been gulping down a lot of medicine lately. So let us now pray it is what the doctored ordered and that it does not have too bad side effects.

December 22, 2006

Should we let the market really work the migration flows?

Sir, I subscribe almost entirely to Martin Wolf’s “Why immigration policy must be a compromise”, December 22, and the almost is there as I find it hard to understand how his view “that work permits should be auctioned” to the best bidder is related to a “compromise”. Will the one offering the most for the work permit be the best worker or is he just the one needing or capable of paying the most for a shelter?

If Wolf really believes that the market mechanism should be used to optimize migration flows then anyone wanting to move out of his country should also have the right to sell his “place” in the market. We could thereby create some real incentives for people to sell an expensive UK residence right and buying themselves a dirt-cheap Tanzania one, with view of making a huge capital gain when this last poor country gets developed.

In the debate on immigration we must never forget that no matter how much we take shelter behind reinforced borders, at the end of the day, we are all still living, ever more cramped, on the very small planet earth.

December 15, 2006

Should then the ageing population emigrate?

Sir, Martin Feldstein argues in his “Immigration is no way to fund an ageing population” December 14, that immigration would generate very little additional tax revenues as immigrants “generally earn less than native Spanish workers” but which is something that with time, and increased scarcity of younger working people, is and should not necessarily be true. That said by giving the example of Spain where “the number of working-age people per retiree is expected to fall from 4.5 today to fewer than two in 2050” he also brings forward evidence that seems to prove that without immigration there would be no way to fund or manage an ageing population… unless of course the ageing population emigrates. The way out of this conundrum that Feldstein proposes is to “supplement the tax-financed benefits with increased saving and investments” but what that has to do with immigration is somewhat hard to understand, since whether they can afford it or not, the elderly will still need help, and also someone should be doing the jobs they all do now in Spain, unless you want that nation to behave like an old soldier and just fade away.

Thankfully the victims in Darfur do not read FT

Any poor victim of Darfur’s genocide like killings who might have invested his last few hopes in someone coming from abroad to save him, would have collapsed in despair had he read Christopher Caldwell’s “It is best to stay out of Darfur”, December 16. Of course we must agree with Caldwell that no country should be expected or even have a carte blanche to enter anywhere for anything but, if the world cannot find an expeditious way of taking care of the worst kinds of political hooliganism, then it will stand precious little chance of solving the many other challenges that are increasingly posed by a globalizing world. And so Mr Caldwell do you really not believe that your XXI century country with 37.600 per capita GNI, together with some others likeminded, do not have in them the capability of designing an effective plan of what to do in the XIX century 640 per capita GNI Darfur? If no, then, if it is not too late, may I humbly suggest that it is also best for you to stay out from bringing new children into this world.

December 09, 2006

Some might not want to face the competition from the dead or forgotten

Sir, you are absolutely right defending that the term of copyrights and patents should not be extended. Just to think about all those great works out there that are condemned to live in the twilight zone between not being considered economically viable for republishing but not yet either worth any other effort while they are copyrighted, make us want to cry. In fact sometimes it might not be about protecting intellectual property at all, it might just be that many new writers out there just do not want to face the competition from the dead or forgotten.

Having authored a book that I believe great and relevant and might yet not find its way to the general public during my lifetime, I at least relish the idea that someone will discover it in the future and then push it in any way he can.