2013 New Year’s Resolutions

To make resolutions – let alone follow them – takes derring do, and has never been attempted here at heteconomist. Perhaps it will never be re-attempted. But, what the heck, we only live once, at least in these bodies, as far as I can tell, so let’s see what can be mustered. Incidentally, I will be devastated if others do not add resolutions of their own in the comments. Okay, maybe not devastated, but certainly appalled. No, it is a new year, not even appalled. You can, at the very least, be assured of tolerance. In fact, better than that. I will be blissfully at peace with whatever comes.

Things To Do In 2013

— Enjoy life even more than in previous years.
— Be carefree, uninhibited, in the moment.
— Sleep when I want, awaken when I want.
— Remember to eat, but keep it fun.
— Dress down (even more).
— Be as happy as the blissed-out guy in the park. (He has great city views.)
— Be immersed in music, comedy, play.
— Read, write, reflect. Create.
— Do nothing I don’t want to do.
— Express nothing I don’t feel.
— Oppose the establishment on everything, but nonviolently.
— Don’t pay for anything. If it’s not free, I don’t want it.
— Don’t charge for anything. If it pays, I don’t want to do it.
— Don’t take more while others have less.
— Flout social norms.
— Radicalize with age.
— Appreciate beauty in everyone and everything.
— Learn from the young, and the old.
— Love everybody.
— Live and let live. What’s it to me if people embrace capitalism and other hells on earth?

Rules of Thumb for this World

— If thought a fool, you must be onto something.
— Nothing is what it seems.
— The reverse is true.

Bimonthly Meditation

Boil an egg for eight minutes, one minute for each hour of a standard work day, and contemplate what it would be like to spend those eight minutes in a soul-destroying job not worth doing – in solidarity with worker-bees, managers and CEOs everywhere.

New Year’s Motto

Knowing is not enough.


16 thoughts on “2013 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Chomsky chimes in on some points (h/t Tom Hickey):

    “The kind of work that should be the main part of life is the kind of work you would want to do if you weren’t being paid for it. It’s work that comes out of your own internal needs, interests and concerns.”

    “[I]f an artisan produces a beautiful object on command we may admire what he did but we despise what he is – he’s a tool in the hands of others. If on the other hand he creates that same beautiful object out of his own will we admire it and him and he’s fulfilling himself.”

    “[W]e all know from our experience that if you study on command because you have to pass a test you can do fine on the test but two weeks later you’ve forgotten everything. On the other hand if you do it because you want to find out, and you explore and you make mistakes and you look in the wrong place and so on, then ultimately you remember.”

    “Children … are naturally curious – they want to know about everything, they want to explore everything but that generally gets knocked out of their heads. They’re put into disciplined structures, things are organised for them to act in certain ways so it tends to get beaten out of you.”

  2. Peter, I had one goal for the New Year:

    To have Paul Krugman dedicate a post telling me to stop swearing and stay on topic.


    Seems I’ve already hurdled my one and only goal well before we’ve even had a chance to ring in the New Year. Apparently, I’m an over-achiever. And no one is more surprised about that than me. Do what you can to keep up, k?


  3. “Without passion there can be no compassion; without compassion there can be no understanding.
    Without understanding there can be no personal growth; without personal growth there can be no admiration.
    Without admiration there can be no gratitude; without gratitude there is no passion.

    With logic everybody is right and nobody is w r o n g”. [PR]

    There is something missing ….

    For 2013: (and right NOW ….)

    Crank up the volume …

    Grain of Sand (Photodex Presenter self-playing video – download and play – especially Trixie …. )

    A New Dawn (wmv) – can play online

    Our story in two minutes – online at YouTube replete with advertisements (I don’t know why)?

    Thankyou for heteconomist and your kindness in 2012 peterc. This place is like one of those C19th Parisian sidewalk cafes to me and I enjoy it heaps …!!

  4. @Trixie

    (Applause!) 🙂



    In some ways, this was a good year for me.

    I intend to keep learning about mainstream economics. There are several reasons for that.

    Apart from Nick Rowe’s challenge, reading about Alfred Marshal, one of the holy cows of neo-classical economics, I happened upon this statement:

    ” 1. Man cannot create material things. In the mental and moral world indeed he may produce new ideas; but when he is said to produce material things, he really only produces utilities; or in other words, his efforts and sacrifices result in changing the form or arrangement of matter to adapt it better for the satisfaction of wants. All that he can do in the physical world is either to readjust matter so as to make it more useful, as when he makes a log of wood into a table; or to put it in the way of being made more useful by nature, as when he puts seed where the forces of nature will make it burst out into life. (1)
    “It is sometimes said that traders do not produce: that while the cabinet-maker produces furniture, the furniture dealer merely sells what is already produced. But there is no scientific foundation for this distinction.”
    (Principles of Economics, book 2, chapter 3, 1890 edition)

    If you read it carefully, you’ll notice that Marshal (who studied physics before going into economics) is making two references to natural science.

    One of them (the second one) is evident: the one about seeds bursting out into life.

    The first one is a bit more subtle: it’s a reference to the principle of conservation of mass (which should be familiar to all of us: it has been part of the high school curriculum since before my own time, and I believe it remains so to this day).

    The principle is behind this: “Man cannot create material things. (…) his efforts and sacrifices result in changing the form or arrangement of matter to adapt it better for the satisfaction of wants”.

    Don’t get me wrong: the principle is right. Apart from nuclear reactions (which transform matter into energy) no process can change the amount of matter. The same applies to human work: the work of men does not create matter out of nothing, it only re-arranges it into useful commodities, commodities that, under capitalism, have value in exchange.

    I won’t go into details here, but Marshal’s statement not only reveals his absolute incomprehension of the labour theory of value (or, alternatively, is a deliberate attempt to create a straw man), but it’s self-defeating, ironically because of his reference to the seeds bursting out into life.

    As it happens (even if one of the “grand fathers” of neo-classical economics, our physics-trained Marshal, ignores it), the principle of conservation of mass also applies to plants (which he explicitly mentioned). They, like workers, do not create matter our of nothing; with the intervention of sun light, they only re-arrange inorganic into organic matter plus oxygen.

    Although I’ve some ideas, I’m not sure where this similarity can lead (or indeed whether it has already been explored by others), but it seems worth exploring. After all, is not everyday that one finds what is possibly one of the stupidest statements ever made by an academic icon.

    Besides (and this is the third reason), paraphrasing Fight Club’s Marla Singer: to study these subjects, like going to self-help groups for chronic disease sufferers (including testicular cancer), is cheaper than a movie ticket and they have free coffee!

  5. Great videos, jrbarch. Really enjoyed, and will watch again.

    Trixie, Magpie: Just when I thought PK was getting it together, he questions the relevance of our aunts to macroeconomics!

  6. …he questions the relevance of our aunts to macroeconomics!

    I know, right?!? Pure ideology. He is BLIND AND STOOPID.

    Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. ~Proverbs 6:6

    (Homophones weren’t discovered until much later)

  7. Main New Year’s Resolution for this blog: Reconcile the Chartalist monetary theory with particular socialist policy positions.

  8. Hi Magpie – my understanding of the Labour Theory of Value, Law of Value, Intrinsic and Subjective Theories of Value comes only from a cursory scan of Wikipedia (i.e. I know nothing) but I am especially intrigued by concepts; and specifically, concepts that have been around for centuries and worked on by different thinkers until they take on a ‘virtual’ life of their own. In my language, it as though a ‘cloud of thought’ exists out there in ‘cloud space~time’ – people approaching are attracted/repulsed/neutral to it, some add modify subtract; some like myself are curious but pass by. I do note that economic thought above carries the title ‘Theory’ and that the idea of ‘Value’ in itself is put in the too hard to define basket? That in itself is interesting, significant …. So the question is how do we determine the veracity of these clouds of thought, about anything …?

    I would like to suggest one filter through which to view ‘clouds’, just to see what it can highlight.

    I think that every sensible thinker would agree that whatever the particular cloud may be one should not get entirely lost in it, or take up residence else objectivity and freedom are lost.

    So, consider a little baby. It wakes, it sleeps. When it is hungry, wet, it cries. When it is fixed up it smiles – it is comfortable. Nobody teaches it to smile. When all is well, it smiles; gets busy coordinating eye muscles, experimenting with sound, exercising arms and legs. Within it beauty that is hard to define, and simple nature.

    Now, this little baby is 70% water; a little bit of Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorous etc. and most of the other elements thrown in – a fortuitous arrangement of atoms (the average 70 kg adult human body contains approximately 6.7 x 10 to the power of 27 atoms fortuitously arranged apparently) that work fortuitously together to produce something called consciousness which knows when it is uncomfortable. Knows when it is content. Basic to every human being! This is water that will learn how to walk, talk, laugh, cry, play with clouds, invent machines, create all sorts of useful and useless artefacts, entertain itself to the point of stupefaction, destroy its own kind or itself, desecrate its planetary home, contain seed and egg to propagate its kind and create incredible phantasies about itself in the form of Identity, not to mention theories of the universe at large; then perish and return back to the ‘dust’ it always was.

    I think if I were Marx I would have said that all labour and regulative principles of economic exchange sum to zero – that’s the first thing you should know about your life here on planet earth. MAYBE Place it on the gates of every University and Business School in the land: ‘Sunday (n) + Monday (n) + ..… Saturday (n) = 0. Inscribed: ‘How dear student pray tell, will you leverage that’? [Reminds me of the story of the graduate who set out to discover the meaning of life. Met an old man on the road, stooped over, carrying a huge bundle of sticks and asked him. The man put down his load, straightened his back, looked steadily at the graduate for a few moments – then stooped down, picked up his load and continued on his way]. The load in this case is the conceptual bundle (‘cloud’) we carry around with us every day and love so passionately … it’s funny how it can weigh so much when it occupies a volumetric space only as big as our head, hey!!

    But returning to the filter: I don’t think adults are any different. Everybody wants to be comfortable. Everybody wants to be content. At its most profound level, you can call it the quest to be fulfilled: I know it as the quest of the heart – Peace, Joy, Happiness, Serenity, Tranquillity, Clarity – whatever label you want: the differences are in the formulas given in this world to attain it. It is this quest that is the engine that drives human beings on this planet at every level of existence and I don’t think that the gentlemen who came up with the Theories above really understood that. They were probably too busy looking at the economy. This of course is not meant to denigrate any of their work of which I repeat I know nothing. All I am suggesting is a filter. The issue of ‘Value’ under this filter, is only to be resolved in resolution of the quest.

    Everything and I mean EVERYTHING in a human soul boils down to the desire to be content. If the clouds could write this in the sky every morning I would concede technology has some use! I think every human being on this planet actually understands this, but has forgotten what it actually means.

    No matter what you do, no matter which mountain you ascend or valleys descend. Even being useful is simply a hope that by being useful you may become content. The prize sought behind every endeavour made in life is to be content. The reason behind why we seek contentment is another whole discussion.

    Some people believe contentment lies in the chemical code of a drug, some in learning, some in adventure and excitement, some in relations, some in creativity, some in what they mistakenly believe is power, some in their Identity, some in social struggle, some in beliefs. Even if you worked all of your life and came up with a lifesaving drug that benefited countless human beings for the rest of Time on this planet, you will come away from that with only your mind temporarily content, (maybe the ego a little smug); but the heart is not fooled – it knows the difference. The BIG LIE (to use a current phrase) is contentment can be accomplished through external circumstances. The BIG IGNORANCE is to ignore the heart. The BIGGEST ISSUE is you, and I, and every single human being that arrives here on this earth seeking contentment. There is no greater challenge under the stars than a human being is to itself. We are fed formulas that don’t work; pursuits that end up in the deserts, concepts and clouds that abstract from our most fundamental human and sovereign reality, and behaviour that is a waste of precious time and energy.

    So, first point is Magpie – I know my words are incredibly inadequate, but would you tend towards agreement that human beings (the way that we are in the reality of our currently assumed atomic~energy~consciousness constitution) are driven by an engine to be content (derived from said fortuitous arrangement of atoms and software if that is the way you would like to think about it)? The actual Source in this sense is to me a moot point at this stage. Also, as an aside, matter energy time are resolved in an Infinite.

    If so it does begin to change things does it not? Could not this be cause to look at the work say of a Marx or a Smith in a whole new light or perspective? Applying the filter of contentment I think, at least moves us one step closer to what is of ‘value’ to a human being. Then the economy and all of the rest of it is only a layer, a superficial play screening the main plot? The noise and distractions from this gigantic superficial play distracting everyone’s attention. Am talking about the need to focus here; not actually fixing the distractions which are where everybody’s focus is at the moment – even a boring superficial play would be just as abstracting. Am talking about Focus!!!

    If the need for contentment arises from within (this fortuitous arrangement and randomly programmed software of atomic matter and consciousness called a human being) – as say thirst and hunger arise – then the best place to resolve it is by looking within and understanding the nature of the arrangement itself. That is, understand the human being; the way that we are, the way that we have been created and programmed! Not the confusion and miasma and mind-numbingly stupid drama we create for ourselves. We have been programmed for contentment – surely that must mean something to human beings???

    Thirst and hunger arise in the physical body and we cannot just Think ourselves out of thirst and hunger. Thirst and hunger have always been solved through hunting and gathering, growing seeds without. Perhaps this has contributed to the problem of solving the issue of contentment because the thirst to be content arises from some deeper part of our consciousness, than the largely sub-conscious assigned to the maintenance of the physical body. There has never ever been any guarantee uncovered (rainbows aside) that contentment may be resolved through an arrangement as you say Magpie, of atoms without? Or popping a pill, eating a particular mushroom, or participating in social ritual? Or that seeds will sprout bearing mysterious fruit that will satisfy the quest through consumption? And if it could be found within, how might resolution of this essential human energy (Driver) for contentment, impact on life in the outside world – there is an incredibly interesting point. How might this resolution be achieved? Since consciousness is an outcome of atomic frivolity, is consciousness the tool to use?

    Desire for things without obviously is an evolutionary factor teasing out intellect in that intellect must evolve in order to satisfy finer and finer manifestations of the desire nature: one has to think and plan to grasp. Desire evolves from satisfaction of self to satisfaction of the selves of others so there is an altruistic element at work there amongst the atoms too (which fortuitously brings the human being closer to the heart in my understanding). If that all-encompassing drive and flow of energy within the human unit for contentment could be satisfied internally, with the belief shattered that it is only though recourse to the outside world that fulfilment is possible – that would have to have a huge effect of some sorts. Like the energy in a wave that foams and crashes on the shoreline where only the sand can mitigate its power – if the ocean were calm along the land there would be so much more a gentler coastline.

    Where all of that sits in policy formation I can only sit stunned by the prospect? The true nature of the intellect is discrimination so my interest is in how the resolution of this prime energy mover in man might affect the ‘clouds of thought’ extant in this world – like economic analysis. The clue to me seems to be, that if the intellect in man is to be based in reality, it needs to understand the reality of the nature of man. And it seems to me that without the recognition of the drive for contentment, the current ‘clouds’ that pass over the human horizon, will never ever be anchored in that reality.

    But of course the key is in actually experiencing contentment, and that is where the call from the heart becomes real for those who take the time to listen. Whatever is real about a human being is worth exploring.

    Afterthought: If you want to teach people about Marx (or MMT or anything else for that matter to a wider audience) then you should teach me what it can mean to me as a human being – what’s in it for me? Touch me as a human being. Like a wonderful piece of music, let it resonate in my soul for as long as I am interested to hold it there – so that I may go back to it and think about it whenever I feel to – say walking on the beach. Teaching happens when pupil is willing and ready to learn and teacher is ready and willing to teach – only then is a transition of information possible. Clouds are clouds and not everybody watches the same ones – regardless whether they are the vapour of confusion or a reality. I think this has something to do with the angst people feel about teaching MMT to others etc.

  9. Things to do in 2013?
    I’m thinking of moving to Australia or anywhere it’s warm…I’m drowning in 3.5 feet of snow right now. Hardly a propitious start to the year.

    All the best for the New Year, peterc.

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