[ExI] The Finnish Miracle?/was Re: retrainability of plebeians

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Wed May 6 14:38:38 UTC 2009

--- On Wed, 5/6/09, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 2009/5/6 Olga Bourlin <fauxever at sprynet.com>:
> >
> >> Stathis, I am glad you are pointing out the
> "quality of life" aspect.
> >>
> >> This article about Finland also touches on the
> subject (and doesn't
> >> pussyfoot around in saying there are tradeoffs):
> >>
> >> http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20090501/cm_csm/ycorson
> >
> > I wouldn't say Finland is an economic slouch, either.
> More evidence
> > that socialist policies do not necessarily adversely
> affect technical
> > innovation and industrial efficiency:
> >
> > http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1026/p01s03-woeu.htm
> >
> ### The US is only 6 points ahead of Finland on the EFI
> (http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking.aspx).
> US=capitalism,
> Finland=socialism?
> No. Just different flavors of socialism.

Well, it depends on how one defines socialism.  I'd define it as government ownership of the means of production -- at least that's state socialism.  And I'd call Finland a mixed economy -- just like the US.  Both nations share the major features of fascism -- with the government controlling many aspects of the economy, but nominally allowing private ownership.

> Socialist policies always
> negatively affect economic growth.

I agree that _interventionist_ policies always negatively affect economic growth (and culture*).  I'm not sure I'd classify Finland as socialist, but it is heavily interventionist -- as are all nation states today; they only differ in degree and the particulars of interventions.

Regarding the particulars, this matters a lot for understanding how interventions impact a society.  I'm not as familiar with the Finnish case, so I'm not sure how Finland's particular interventions affect its people.  Tracing some aspects of an economy to certain policies would require a lot more, in my view, than merely reading a few articles lauding Finland.  At a minimum, it'd require a better grounding in economic theory -- real, valid theory, not the nonsensical modeling used by mainstream economics** -- and economic history.  Else, as with evolutionary explanations, one just ends up reciting one's favorite "just so" story about an economy.



*  At the very least, any intervention is coercing innocent people to do things they otherwise would not do.  In this sense, this diminishes a culture -- all else being equal -- because coercion is a decivilizing force.  That coercion might have some good outcomes -- e.g., taxing the working poor in the US to pay for public colleges does get some middle class kids a college education (and maybe some of them actually contribute rather than merely further parasitizing society as they find cushy make work jobs in the bureaucratic and corporate elites, where they're basically insulated from market forces) -- but this comes at someone else's expense and is an example of the broken window fallacy:


In my view, Extropians and transhumanists should study that fallacy -- not with an eye toward using it as a rhetorical trick, but actually understanding it and removing such fallacies from their thinking.  It's one meme (the actual fallacy) that desparately needs to be stopped.

** A recent diatribe -- "Should People Just Ignore Economists?" -- on this hobby horse of mine is at:



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