Re: CAMREC: Egalitarianism in a world of power-law distributions

From: the Campaign for Real Economics (
Date: Fri Dec 15 2000 - 02:49:57 GMT

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    From: the Campaign for Real Economics <>
    Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 18:49:57 -0800 (PST)
    Subject: Re: CAMREC: Egalitarianism in a world of power-law  distributions

    I knew this was coming. Ok, lets dig into it ;-)

    > >As to the synthesis you speak of that should be
    > >"pretty simple" in terms of evolutionary approaches
    > >(not social darwinist or sociobiology) to
    > economics:
    > >diversity (should go together with inequality) ->
    > >selection according to characteristics of
    > >socio-economic system -> adaptation; change
    > triggers
    > >new cycle,

    maybe I should have spoken of a round or step here

    overall result sth like progress based
    > on
    > >differences the process of which is associated by
    > >necessity with different income/wealth.
    > I'm not sure I catch your meaning.
    > Here is my guess:
    > Diversity measured against chaotic selection
    > measures produce system
    > adaptation over time (gene pools adapt, monetary
    > pools adapt?)
    chaotioc selection is an interesting case in itself, I
    wonder there would be some useful results coming out
    of that - the thing that I know about that comes
    "closest" is sth like oscillatory selection described
    by Jonathan Weiner in his book about the Grants'
    research into Darwin's finches, what I meant was
    certainly not a chaotic selection measure - the thing
    about evolution is that there is a fairly stable
    "environment" and some entities changing (or not) in
    it, and maybe from time too time a disruptive change
    in the enviroment (which is evolving at low rate as
    with respect to financial markets I would talk about
    mental representations (models) about what is going on
    wrt specific currencies, economies, shares,industries,
    etc. pp.
    If you like one could (try to) make a link to Dawkin's
    Chaos can come out of Lotka - Volterra equations used
    to describe ecologicla (and economic) systems, is
    therefore maybe a result of evolutionary processes but
    not a condition (as far as I know)

    > > then comes a
    > >welfare evaluation trying to figure out optimal
    > rates
    > >of change and/or diversity values and you are done.
    > Welfare, that's easy to agree upon in general, hard
    > to agree upon in
    > detail.

    Sure, just pick one - lot's of discussion necessity +
    lot's of papers ;-)))
    Well, prime target would be to keep the thing going...
    In general a tough call, from what we know about
    evolution you might want to have an open - ended
    process, so you don't want to go below a minimum
    degree of diversity, minimum no of participants
    (evolving entities), minimum resource level of course
    and some other points I'm too tired to think of right
    after all its 3 in the morning

    > Long term welfare? Short term welfare?

    Political/cultural question?

    We economists usually don't make these decisions
    -that's up to politicians/voters ;-)

    Not a very satisfaying answer, I know. So try this
    Presently the socio-economic system seems to favor
    short-term "solutions" otherwise you could not explain
    why so many "entrepreneurs" can get away with pretty
    shortsighted business-ideas. The issue is that there
    seems to be an implicit "welfare judgement" in the
    system's operation and what it "selects"/let's you get
    away with... this is related to entrepreneurial and
    investor characteristics, knowledge, political and
    economic conditions of course. This implicit judgement
    is ,I guess, subject to change (people learn after
    loosing a lot of money...). Lot's of self-reference
    here. Even reflexitivity? (Back to the discussion with
    Stauffer we are here actually) Maybe enough to claim
    that the system controls itself, so you wouldn't need
    the following:
    What you are probably interested in is some external
    judgement that an uninvolved scientist could make.
    Don't know whether that's possible at all in the long
    run, because people do listen to scientists earlier or
    later (esp. people investing there money and looking
    for a nice theory to base it on) and then their mental
    model will be updated and they take account of that
    A good (or at least interesting) set of welfare (?)
    evaluation criteria might be those that don't affect
    the process in the manner just described - but what's
    the process precisely? So what can we do and what not?
    Maybe we economists should turn Buddhist... (that
    would still leave plenty of room for different schools
    and discussion so we could carry on our scholarly
    The real answer is different though: it all depends on
    the system definition, our goal of analysis and how
    much time we have to give an answer.

    Best regards,


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