Surlethe wrote: ↑
How would you quantify environmental protection and natural resources?
For natural resources you can use in-kind calculations. Environmental & health protection is usually a hard constraint imposed by legislation and is primarily sociopolitical in nature - discovered by research, not by the means of calculation itself (ie forcing the industry to use substitutes, reducing or outright banning the use of some chemicals, etc.). They are not so easily quantified, but nor is this necessary. The banning of DDT or the banning of thalidomide were done without specific considerations of economic impact. Just as regardless of whether an economic calculation is centralized or decentralized & price-mediated (like in a market), there is no impetus to consider environmental protection arising out of the production & distribution mechanism itself.
How would you balance environmental protection against value to people? How would you determine allocation of production between consumption and capital investment and research? (For example, would your method, retrospectively and globally applied, have identified the Green Revolution? or the IT revolution of the 1990s/2000s?)
For a planned economy, the impact of any substitution or a ban can be likewise estimated, down to the final form, ie the end effect of any measures on the final production goal. Investment decisions would be made based on a form of valuations similar the ones proposed by Kantorovich (ODV), which would have a tendency to push the industry to efficient substitution. The Green Revolution (introduction of high-yield cultivars plus mechanization and chemization) occured in real planned economies, so it very likely would have occured under more efficient forms of planning likewise. In any case this is not a matter of alternative history, but rather of where we go from the current point.
It would be very interesting to see how the nationalization programs of the principal combatants of the second world war could be developed into something resembling this. I am (of course) most familiar with that of the US, which seems to have successfully balanced production for consumption, capital investment, and technical investment. It would also be interesting to see how this compares with the logistics programs of large enterprises like Amazon and Wal-Mart.
That point in time is lost (although experience has demonstrated a sufficiently high-technology society can be built even from a primitive tech base with far from optimal planning), with high consumption levels (high caloric intake, full employment, no homelessness, access to most modern technologies such as flight, nuclear energy, medical novelties like antibiotics).
I'm not convinced this is the case. In my experience, a single, simple planning calculation for tens of millions of individuals would take hours -- for one small aspect of the megacorp's business.
Are you also a production planner? I am, but I have yet to encounter such slow general planning calculations.
The constraints were also very simple. Development took years, including debating the appropriate method of quantifying the relevant factors. So I think development of an economy-wide program would take decades and be much more contentious, and actually running the optimization would not simply be a matter of days.* (Later, the same megacorp took an opaque algorithmic approach to human resources allocation. Shortly thereafter I went out and found a new job
Development does take years, but if the end result is properly set up, the time of calculation is actually fairly small. I guess our experiences do differ a bit.
Of course there's the adage that Moore's Law proves that P=NP: take an exponential time algorithm and wait a linear amount of time for the exponential growth in computing capacity to render it trivial.
I would say we are now at a stage where disaggregation issues are more serious and require rigorous algorithms to make sensible decisions, as opposed to the general problem of calculating in kind with inputs/outputs.
I would worry about the development of information networks, selective publicization of logs and authorization, and eventual warping of those policies to serve newly-developed power hierarchies, but you can't really solve politics. (See, for example, how many people still believe the US president to have been totally exonerated by a certain publicly available report.)
With significant time and education, you can (see Swiss public referendums). However, they only reflect the thinking of people of a particular nation-state in a particular formation. You may want for Star Trek people, but you now have the people of now; at some point in the future they may be more like Star Trek people and start making more informed and sensible choices, become more aware of the pitfalls of applying individualism to global risk management and such. We are not there yet. Politics of class society reflect its primitive nature. They cannot be fixed.
To give an example: you can gate communities and put massive fences on windows, instead of actually reforming society to make poverty almost nonexistent and crime rates negligible. The first is exactly like trying to improve politics of class society without trying to reform it.
What is oppression but the good of the individual being crushed beneath the will of the community? Therefore to allow people to flourish, I'd submit they must be able to choose their own communities and families. "Relationships at will" is working great for LGBT people, for example - many of whom experienced the bonds of the strong community relationships of their childhoods as true bonds.
Common oppression forges strong bonds; you may as well say people of colour have strong bonds. Is this “relationship at will” or a relationship forced by the rejection from “normals”, homophobia from the general population? In societies where homophobia never developed or was a foreign introduction, the pattern of LGBT relations in society must look different compared to the communities they form in the West to socialize with others likewise oppressed. Also “ability to choose families” sounds like the ability to reject others because you don’t like them. It is exactly what some families in homophobic societies are doing to the LGBT members of their family - rejection, expulsion, isolation. How is expanding this practice beyond the absolute necessity (like, of ending abusive relationships) good? What good does it serve?
What is the reason for a stranger who has nothing in common with you to form strong bonds with you, if he or she has been brought up to treat social connections as expendable goods that can be severed and created anew as a matter of individual convenience?
So I tend to think the dismantling of many traditional community structures is associated not with poverty and misery, but with the dynamic creation of new community structures and systems of support. People naturally seek out community; the atomic individual is not one without relationships, but one who has chosen their own relationships.
Huge rise in loneliness among younger generations does not indicate great success in forming relationships by atomic individuals.
As empirical matters, have there been any measurable increase in sociopathy or psychopathy associated with what I'm describing? Have there been measurable decreases in empathy across the population, associated with found families?
I must look for some data, but good point - will come back if I find anything interesting here.