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Economic Law Laundry Mangle

a crude metaphor
  [vote for,

Before electrical dryers, washing was wrung out using hand-cranked mangles, which squeezed water out of wet fabric between two rollers.

In this sculpture, one roller is marked "Ricardo" and the other, "Parkinson". The big wet sheet, which forms part of the installation, is figured with small, struggling people.

Lenticular printing of the text means that the word "Ricardo" is only visible if you approach from the left, while the word "Parkinson" is only visible if you approach from the right.

pertinax, Jan 02 2017

clowns https://www.youtube...watch?v=8StG4fFWHqg
jokers [popbottle, Jan 02 2017]

Wikipedia: Parkinson's Law https://en.wikipedi...iki/Parkinson's_law
in current understanding, Parkinson's law is a reference to the self-satisfying uncontrolled growth of the bureaucratic apparatus in an organization." [zen_tom, Jan 04 2017]


       Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to right, here I am wrung out in the middle with you.
popbottle, Jan 02 2017

       So, it's an "Economic Squeeze" ?
8th of 7, Jan 02 2017

       Yes, of a particular sort.   

       You can paraphrase Ricardo's Law as "If you *do* have a free market in labour, then sooner or later wages get squeezed down to the subsistence level".   

       You can paraphrase Parkinson's Law as "If you *don't* have a free market in capital, then sooner or later bureaucracy expands to stifle all other human activity".   

       Both of these laws have loop-holes, but neither can be ignored.   

       The political history of the mid-twentieth century can be seen as a series of attempts to play off one law against the other. Then, in a stroke of genius, the Third Way of the nineties showed that you could give free play to both at once. What could possibly go wrong?
pertinax, Jan 03 2017

       Errr, collateralized debt obligations ?
8th of 7, Jan 03 2017

       Are those anything like credit default swaps?
RayfordSteele, Jan 03 2017

       Or collateralized swap credits?
hippo, Jan 04 2017

       Very similar, yes.   

       Essentially, the process works like this:   

       1. You give your money to someone else to invest.   

       2. They take your money away.
8th of 7, Jan 04 2017

       Step (1) is optional
hippo, Jan 04 2017

       Step 1 is only relevant for private investments. The "Go straight to Step 2" sequence is more of a government thing.
8th of 7, Jan 04 2017

       //in current understanding [...]//   

       Well, yes, but I think we can do better than that.   

       All Parkinson's own examples were drawn from the public sector. Of course, private sector bureaucracies also expand, for similar reasons, but there's a critical difference: every once in a while the market actually functions, and delivers a sharp size-correction to the over-bureaucratized company. One example would be IBM in the early 1990s.   

       The obvious exceptions to this rule are those private sector companies which are, in practice, epiphytes on the tree of government. In fact, I seem to remember that one of the lessons IBM learned after the early-90s pain was to become more like one of those.   

       In either case, what enables Parkinsonian bureaucracies to keep growing is the capture of a growing share of capital by government bond markets, creating a situation which you could characterize as not-a-free-market-in-capital.   

       I hope the Ricardo "iron-law-of-wages" reference is more self-explanatory.   

       Anyway, the thing is that angry economic ranters of the right and left are *both correct*, in that the other side is ignoring an important law. The exercise for the reader is to hold both angry, urgent truths in your head at the same time, and hope that they produce a constructive epiphany, instead of just a loud bang and an unpleasant job for the cleaning staff.
pertinax, May 14 2017


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