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January 01, 2020


David Ballard

Also the 66th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams. Happy New Year


Denise Coates - income

2016 - £217 million
2017 - £265 million
2018 - £323 million

Social value ?????

Hope no-one's going to point out that she gives to charity.

Jeremy GH

Re Denise Coates's charitable giving - looking at the Charity Commission website, her foundation received - from her companies, not her - a fraction of her income (£75M in 2018), and gave a smaller fraction (£10M)...

And re the relative financial rewards in the music business, the recent film 'Yesterday' has an an interesting take.

Luis Enrique

There’s also the mainstream concept of consumer surplus, which is about the gap between price and (subjective) value. Workers might get paid the marginal product, but that’s a physical quantity (“one unit of nursing services”) but the price at those quantities that workers produce trade at are a different question. If nursing sells at a lower price than vice presidenting of creative development, that by no means tells us the latter is more socially valuable than the former, even in the absence of externalities etc.

(I haven’t read it but my suspicion is Greaber’s book might be coloured by prejudice against private sector roles he does not understand. Plus he didn’t revive that idea as such e,g. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/36001/1/Disspaper14.pdf )

Luis Enrique

Plus I'm not seeing any justification of the word "rarely". I reckon I could write a very long list of things that create social value and which are paid for in £

Kevin Carson

The distribution of wealth under capitalism results from a framing of "property rights" that mostly rewards where you're sitting or what you're sitting on, not what you've done. It's almost entirely a matter of rents of one kind or another.


It’s almost as if the value of songs depends on the subjective opinions of listeners; not in the number of hours of socially necessary labour time required to write them.

Robert S Mitchell

"In the run-up to the financial crisis, bankers were paid more than their social value because the risks generated by their activities would fall upon others; they were externalities."

The Fed took enough risk onto its balance sheet to stabilize panicky traders.

We can avoid a recurrence if the Fed explicitly sold panic insurance. Then banks could hedge against irrational, spreading panics.

The Fed could use the returns from selling panic insurance to at least partially fund a basic income, which recognizes everyone's value.

Luis Enrique

I realise retrospectively that this post is mostly about the amount of £ not coinciding with the amount of social value, whereas Cameron’s tweet was about the *things* not coinciding.


Who says Van Zandt's song writing had social value? You may think so, I (having never heard of him) think otherwise. By definition his songs can't have had much impact on society, no-one bought them, so no-one heard them. Or put another way, his financial reward was directly in proportion to the amount of people who put social value on his songs, ie not many people and not much reward.

Now if it was today, and his songs were being ripped off online, and everyone was listening to them for free, but he wasn't getting any cash for that I could see your point. But given no-one ever heard him much you can't say he had any great social impact can you? All you're doing is saying that 'in your opinion' he 'should' have had more impact than he did. Thats just your subjective opinion.

Robert S Mitchell

Jim, I think the underlying assumption is that anyone playing music has more social value than any financier. Even if you only play for yourself, at least you're not doing harm.


Perhaps you could buy yourself a soul as your next 'investment', Jim?

Jan Wiklund

I think the concept of "externalities" is rather flawed - people are social animals and most of what we do is hopelessly intertwined with what other people do. So almost everything are "externalities", in the meaning of interfering with the life of other people. It is only in the ridiculously individualist universe of mainstream economics that "externalities" becomes a strange exception.


" the underlying assumption is that anyone playing music has more social value than any financier."

You're never heard my musical ability, or lack thereof. Its social value would be something akin to that of the Luftwaffe c. 1940.

Robert S Mitchell

Jim: I'm reminded of a Gomer Pyle rerun on TV last night, in which Sergeant Carter was singing "Love is a many-splendored thing". No one thought he had talent, but isn't it socially better for him to sing rather than teach how to do violence efficiently? My position is that we would all be better off if soldiers sang all day long, even if they suck at it, instead of killing people and blowing things up all day long, even though they may be very good at that ...

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