Something out of nothing
Two distantly related matter are troubling me this morning. The first is the ownership of intellectual property and the second the ownership of a shower cubicle. Let me talk about the shower cubicle first. I was in the men’s showers at Crisis yesterday when an argument broke out between two chaps over the rights to use the one available shower cubicle. It was won by the younger, fitter man, whose argument was simple “this is my shower, you fuck off”. The older man gave way but was inconsolable
“nobody in here owns anything, that’s all that we’ve got”
It seemed one of the most profound things I had ever heard, it came from the bottom of this man’s soul. It sprung from a profound well of humanity, it sends tears streaming down my face.
All that they’ve got is something in common, and if you believe that property enchains, then you may romantically believe that Crisis is some kind of utopia. Do not believe it. the rights to a bag, clothing , cigarettes and for some a phone- are rights that guests cherish. But to fight over ownership rights to a shower? The assertion of rights through physical strength? The lack of courtesy in a place where courtesy was shown in abundance. It was shocking to the older man.
He left the shower and later that day he left the site, his Christmas had been spoiled and though we spent some time talking about it, I saw that this dear man was not going to be happy , he had too little to support his sensitive spiritual love, I wish him well.
Something over nothing
I find myself illegally reading again the text of John Woods’ thundering polemic against the speculation of pension management that is driving out proper investment. You can read my comments here, but wait for Con Keating’s proper exegesis in days to come.
As with the argument in the shower room, this is about property rights in a world where we own everything and nothing. Can you own an idea, or an argument or a moral position?
Here is one of my academic friends commenting to me in a recent mail
It’s what known in economics jargon as rent seeking behaviour. Academic publishers charge universities massive economic rents. Problem is that we tend to judge the value of research not by a direct assessment of its intrinsic quality but by the reputation of the journal it appears in. As it happens Cambridge J (ournal) of E (conomics) would not be rated very highly by a lot of ‘mainstream’ (i.e. neoclassical) economists because of its Keynesian (let alone Marxian) emphasis which is anathema to them. They would ban such work from being published in serious journals. Hence the irrelevance of much of modern economics and the dominance of the sort of harmful perspective you criticise in your blog.
Something from nothing