Chinese Buffet Economy

Last week I had the pleasure (opportunity?) to go out for dinner with my family to an all you can eat buffet. Since I had spent the day fasting for such an occasion, I was excited to see rows and rows of food under the infra red lights.  The chicken balls were bigger than any actual part you’d find on a chicken and I’ve never actually seen that many red jello cubes before in my life.

Unfortunately, the food tasted gross.

I have never been to China, but I just some how know- or choose to believe- that their food isn’t this rancid. The problem with these buffets is they make the food in mass quantities which compromises the quality of the food more often than not.

I fear the same is true for the economy. Focus is placed solely on growth; high GDPs, new markets etc.

But perhaps we’re backward. Maybe quality economies should be the goal.

Now, I’m not about to throw out Adam Smith with the bath water. That’s a bit bold. Obviously, economies can experience stagnation; there needs to be some growth.  But when focus is placed solely on growth then communities suffer.

I have already written about Ghana (See: International Monetary Fund: Beginning of the End?). The once subsistent country that fell victim to the “growth” scheme by converting all their agricultural sector to the production of cocoa. What is the benefit of having an economy with high growth if the benefits are out of reach for most people?

Its hard to understand how volatile the free market is when talking outside your own experience, or atleast something that is far from home. So lets take the recent stock market news. Perhaps you are not feeling the closing of banks in a tangible way yet or maybe you can’t put two and two together. But this occurrence shows that the “invisible hand” is not always on our side. The world hasn’t fully recovered from the economic crisis of 1979, the early 90’s etc. We can’t just place our trust neo liberalism; let us not mistake clouds for stairs. It is easy for naivity to be confused with the “American optimism” on which the country was apparently built.  It will be interesting to see if and what change will be made. A more regulated market? more monopolies? Tumble weeds tumbling down wall street? Its far from over. Hopefully we can be distracted by Sarah Palin’s PTA experience a little while longer.

And now we wait for the others.

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About Ashley Drake
Don't cha wish your girlfriend could blog like me

3 Responses to Chinese Buffet Economy

  1. Nicolas says:

    My understanding of Smith and Mill is that the optimal society is that which has no growth, so that the goods can be spread for all, *spoiler warning: I could be wrong!*. The obsession with growth is a neoclassical fascination, not a classical one. The problem as I see it is simply that our economies since the late 70s have been ruled by a tyranny of wrong assumptions. We assumed that markets are efficient, that they automatically align themselves. What neoclassical analysis forgets is that a) the economy is not static it does change, so a change (mostly through inflation in the post-1980 period rather than growth) in one part of the economy will distort the “equilibrium” in another part of the economy, thus we will NEVER have equilibrium. Even if we did achieve it, what would be the purpose of growth? We have reached perfection and nirvana; b) the market is not “purposeless” as Lindblom argues, it exists for a reason, for accumulation. Things do not exist, merely to exist, well maybe to an atheist. Thus since the market has a reason, a purpose its used in such a way. Those at the very top who are unaccountable to anyone, the population, shareholders, governments, no one…they will use their asymmetrical power to extract as much profit for themselves – not even their corporations I argue in this blog post:

    http://perspectivos.blogspot.com/2008/06/endemic-crisis-of-american-capitalism.html#links

    That is what neoliberalism is, the escape from accountability, boundaries, and responsibilities. Well as the French president said today:

    “Laissez-faire is finished, the all-powerful market that is always right, that’s finished,”

    Let the party begin!

  2. dontdontoperate says:

    I agree. Have you heard of the Capabilities Approach?

  3. dontdontoperate says:

    wait, I just want to make it clear that I’m agreeing with Ashley, not the commenter.

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