Walter Scheidel re Cataclysm as the Only Cure

Walter Scheidel, a historian at Stanford University, wrote an opinion piece entitled Only Cataclysm Can Cure Inequalityin the June 11, 2017 Boston Sunday Globe.  Professor Scheidel rails against distortions of the economic process but offers no scientific perspective explaining the distortions as violations of a normative theory of the economic process.  His perspective is largely political rather than scientific.  Similar to the condition for proof in mathematics, until a statement is grounded in verified theory, it may be true or false; it is verified theory alone that elevates opinions such as Professor Seidel’s to the rank of theorems.

In the absence of proof we may have strong evidence for our belief in a certain statement but we cannot state that it is true. … until a proof is provided (statements) remain only statements that may be true or false.  It is a proof alone that elevates them to the rank of theorems. [Bush and Obreanu 1965, 6]

In the long-term creative-destructive process, a capital-expansion phase is intrinsically anti-egalitarian; and the subsequent consumer-goods-expansion phase is intrinsically egalitarian.  Furthermore, in a properly managed economy, the phases will be characterized by surges and tail-off’s but with no systematic requirement for a slump, depression, or Scheidel’s cataclysm.  Thus, Professor Scheidel’s conclusion “only cataclysm” is false.  It is not true that the only cure is a cataclysm.

Enlightenment of higher-paid people as to the science of the normative functionings of the economic process would induce both massive philanthropic activity  and increases in the incomes of the lower-paid people in conformity with the normative requirements of the process.  This philanthropy would be an instance of enlightened government by the competent rather than wasteful bungling by an ignorant, self-interested government bureaucracy.  It would not have the negative connotations of plutocracy or oligarchy; rather, in combination with the provision of increased incomes to satisfy the possibilities of supply, this philanthropy would constitute the competent and effective partial management of the economy by knowledgable and talented, free people.

These free, enlightened philanthropists would constitute a fourth branch of government.  Their adaptation to the norms of the economic process to effect the social good would be an exercise of moral precepts based on the scientific understanding of the dynamics of the economic process by enlightened free persons.

The cure is not cataclysm; rather it is the achievement of an understanding of how the economy normatively functions, coupled with goodwill.  To dispel ignorance, a dynamic perspective and explanatory science are more effective than Professor Scheidel’s recitation of historical, but not determinate, facts.
Cf CWL 15, xxviii, xxxii-xxxv, xivi-xivii, 6

Again,

In the absence of proof we may have strong evidence for our belief in a certain statement but we cannot state that it is true. … until a proof is provided (statements) remain only statements that may be true or false.  It is a proof alone that elevates them to the rank of theorems. [Bush and Obreanu 1965, 6]

Also,

When suitable classes and rates of payment have been defined, it will be possible to show that under certain conditions of human inadaptation this pure cycle results in a trade cycle.  However, that implication is not absolute but conditioned, not something inevitable in any case but only something that follows when human adaptation is lacking.CWL 15, 35

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