Re: MD The Quality of Capitalism?

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Sun Dec 12 2004 - 02:48:10 GMT

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    Hi Platt, dmb, all

    I and others have dismantled Platt's interpretation of his favorite
    Pirsig quote so many times, I'll just refer everyone to the archives.

    The reason I've chosen to pick on so called Capitalism in this thread
    is that this economic model is the de facto standard in the west;
    it's the one we appear to be stuck with for now, for better or for
    worse. But I really want to get away from the capitalism-good
    socialism-bad simplicities and try to explore ways in which we can
    move toward a higher quality economic solution than either has so far
    been able to offer.

    About the so called free-market system, profit-driven, competition-
    based, I believe Pirsig is correct in the same way that Adam Smith is
    correct: On paper, it sounds like a good idea. But the following
    two paragraphs offer a couple of talking points for us to consider.

    In reality, competition produces redundancy, not efficiency. I mean,
    do we really need 25 different brands of deodorant? One of the
    reason people are put off by advertising is that it is rarely about
    the quality of a product: it's about trying to persuade people to
    choose one of 25 functionally identical products. So, in car adds,
    we see cars climbing waterfalls and mountains and rainbows; we see
    cars full of young, happy, sexy, energetic people who's lives have
    finally been made perfect because they decided on a Chevy not a Ford.
     Is this really the highest quality use of the public airwaves?

    In reality, maximization of profits doesn't produce quality, it
    results in a race to the bottom: Why produce a high quality light
    bulb that will last for 50 years when it's more profitable to have
    them burn out in a month or two? Why make a printer that will run
    for years on a single supply of toner, when so much profit can be
    made selling lots of toner?

    Finally, I would like to address one of Platt's comments:

    I find no good reason to "step outside the MOQ" since Pirsig is
    obviously talking about the "real world," not some imaginary
    Never-Never Land.

    msh says:
    How do we know he's talking about the real world if we don't check?
    It seems strange to suggest that we don't need to "step outside the
    MOQ" in order to evaluate whether or not the existing so-called free
    market system is really all that free or dynamic or high quality. Do
    we really think that Pirsig, the rational empiricist, expects us to
    evaluate and perhaps utilize the MOQ by endlessly dissecting and
    discussing it in some vacuum-sealed environment?

    Thanks to all for any thoughtful contributions.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
    Web Site:

    "Thought is only a flash between two long nights, but this flash is
    everything." -- Henri Poincare'

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