terça-feira, 17 de julho de 2012

In memory of Adam Smith and Karl Marx

In memory of Adam Smith and Karl Marx Freedom is the most precious value for any human being. Your academic leadership enriches and strengthens the circulation of ideas in these transmillenial times, thus stimulating the free formation of opinions in our interdependent world. Your stature in service to society is a source of pride and inspiration for all. I hereby send you my warmest and brotherly congratulations during these changing times. Let us keep in mind one special lesson by Nobel prize-winner Jose Saramago in his "Essay on Blindness" – those who can see have a greater responsibility in their community! In the latest years I have been sendind some ideas for leaders in several fields of human endeavor to ponder, basically proposing that their credibility and planetary presence, motivated by a humanitarian and philanthropic feeling, can be strong instruments to improve this world, if only they include in their agenda a discussion on the causes of poverty. For many, nutrition, health and education have been planetary priorities year after year, along with a sensible quest for world peace. In my view the challenge we all face is simple: If the causes of poverty and hunger are not defined and resolved, their structural consequences will remain and grow in intensity! This inevitably motivates us to briefly question the basic concepts and models of some thinkers who shaped capitalism and socialism as we see them nowadays. For this consideration, please give some moments of your precious attention to these basic concepts: • Economics is a science in which all agents are governed by the impersonal and inexorable law of supply and demand, whenever there is no market manipulation; • Politics is an art in which the protagonists decide according to questionable, circumstantial and personalistic human desires. With these views in mind, let us consider some aspects of the modern world: • Two world wars; • Race to space – human visits to the Moon; • Arms race – cold war; • Carbonization of the energetic matrix; • Corruption in parliaments, businesses and government bureaucracies; • Invasion of Iraq; • Jewish-Palestinian conflict; • 11 September/2001 and the new global terrorism. Government, as the Supreme human ethical creation, in Hegel's view, should be revised – erring is not tragic, the tragedy resides in not learning from error! Whatever the posture adopted in relation to those events listed above, the villain invariably has a name and surname: the taxing system – this massive amount of financial resources made available to a bureaucratic ruling elite. I have nothing against a legitimate ruling elite, if it decides according to the collective will – but it seems that decisions usually are made according to a spurious public-private relationship of selfish interests around economic power. The collective desire, as the sum of individual wishes, many times counts the least. This is the crux of the problem: if we want to search for world peace, we have to reduce the resources raised by the tax system and increase the resources regulated by the market. Keynesian monetarists legitimated the presence of Government in the economy, in a world destroyed by war. That was like taking an aspirin to relieve a headache – but in the medium and long term results have been disastrous. Back to basics – economics and politics cannot mix – they are like oil and water – and their mixture is potentially explosive. The escalation of government interference in the economy will not lead anywhere – it will only strengthen the growing dictatorship of bureaucrats and of professional politicians – it will be strengthening the desire of a few and dodgind market laws. On the other hand, the market competition that we are witnessing today is like an athletic race: some citizens, well fed and accessing health and education systems are far ahead; most of the others are left unjustly behind: the fair and decent minimum that can be done is to put them all on the same line of departure, giving equal opportunities for the manifestation and unfolding of individual talents and potentials, so as to benefit society as a whole. All my previous texts sought to stimulate meditation and to motivate solution-finding in today's quest for world peace and for fighting the causes of poverty. Considering that the market economy always produces what is profitable and not what is needed, only a new social pact will correct current distortions - a new pact in which the private sector (businessmen and the work force) will take directly to themselves the management of nutrition, health and education, freely buying and allocating them for real market prices. This will diminish production costs, and the Government in parallel will reduce taxes on this part of social costs, reducing final prices. The lack of equal opportunities has led some governments worldwide to take from the strong to give to the weak, impoverishing the rich to enrich the poor – this robin-hoodian philanthropic view in fact destroys two of the most powerful driving forces of man: initiative and dignity. Human production is an energy-transforming process. To make it occur, human energy based on nutrition, health and education must be managed a priori, and not as payment for the work performed. Just as a vehicle needs fuel and maintenance to go, so does a human need nutrition, health and education to fulfill his god-given productive role in society. In return to the texts I sent, some comments that I received from equally concerned planetary citizens were very stimulating. Coming from leaders scattered around the entire earth, these comments inspired me to share some thoughts with you – see below. I therefore stimulate discussing the theme of poverty, not in the least propelled by pride or vanity : when the subject-matter is food for our children, pride would be the most insane and unforgivable capital sin. I was very glad to learn from some leaders that they would take the subject to discussion in the councils and associations they are part of. They proved generously sensitive to the meaning and depth of my concerns. I also extend my thanks to those who added their rich experience to the consideration of these concerns, given their very positive work done to improve human practices on this world. These two comments below were particularly felicitating for me, because they revealed a perfect attunement with my theses: • "Regarding its proposal for the health sector, that is all that US Democrats have been willing for decades -health for all- but the proposal you present is neither like the British model, where the State does everything, nor like the Canadian one, where the State pays to private initiative: your proposal follows a third model, Republican-style, directly by private initiative!" When you thus associate economic profit to the health of people, you will have a tremendously positive impact on the ecological balance of the planet; • "If the proposed criterion applies – decentralization of resources from the hands of bureaucrats and politicians, in order to qualify democracy, then there are no real democratic societies on the planet, although all call themselves democratic." Whatever the concept that one may have of democracy, the fate of citizens cannot depend on the virtue of their rulers. Dictatorships or strong regimes are defended only by those who would like to be lashing the whip; whenever placed on the other side of the whip, they will stand for democracy emphatically. Comments made by thinkers of the stature of Eudes de Souza Leao Pinto, Ives Gandra Martins, Geraldo Vilhena, Célio Borja, and many others whom I respect for their knowledge and experience, signal to me that the path I propose, innovative as it is, is bound to the proper direction. Comparing the current situation with my proposal, I came to the conclusion that the current situation is tragically unjust. Reading the comments made on my ideas by lawyers, professors, economists, businessmen, philosophers and philanthropic leaders from all over this small blue dot in the universe, I could see the potential influence of our ideas in its domain, given the force each one of us radiates, because of the quality, diversity and ethics of those motivated like us to improve the world. I do believe that we can really make the world more fair and humane as it must be. We have solid reasons to be proud of our ideals – I am sure that our idealist predecessors (wherever they are now), will be proud of our actions in these moments. It seems also appropriate to recall Plato's assertion – "the punishment for those who do not engage in politics, and call themselves non-political, is to be governed by those inferior to them". Before it is too late, let us turn back to our best origins, and progressively correct our society to build a future of peace, health and excellence for all! The quest for world peace is inexorably determined by the progressive reduction of resources in the hands of Governments, to take them to the private provision of nutrition, health and education for all. May you all have a moment of meditation on the current situation, in these transitional moments when challenges present themselves every day. May God continue to bless our children! Ronaldo Campos Carneiro Former Professor USP/FEI rcarneiro@salutecafe.com.br

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