Monday, March 21, 2011

how much competition do we need in a civilized society?

Springerlink | Francesco Duina is an American associate professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Bates College, in Maine, USA, and visiting professor at the International Center for Business and Politics in Copenhagen, Denmark. His latest book ‘‘Winning’’ is about the American love for competition; a love not shared by all Americans, but dominant enough to shape how many Americans live. In the rest of the world, and certainly in more egalitarian nations like Denmark and the Netherlands, people have more reservations about competition (Data World Values Surveys). Duina describes the ‘‘American obsession’’ with competition and winning and losing very vividly. The bulk of the book is descriptive but in the last chapter Duina makes some critical normative remarks and proposes an alternative mind-set for the USA. This book is important because it poses the question how much competition we really need in rich nations, with high levels of economic and cultural productivity. The answer to this question is relevant in discussions about the role of governments and about the optimal levels of liberalization or regulation of markets. Duina’s suggestions to moderate and redirect competition by changing the American mind-set are valuable. His suggestions might have been more adequate, however, if he would have made a distinction between ‘competition for fun’ and ‘competition to survive’, and if he would have paid more attention to their different effects on happiness.


umbrarchist said...

The system depends on STUPID Winning!

I have actually had a Black man BRAG to me about having owned 17 cars. I asked him what he lost on depreciation and his facial expression completely changed. I figured I had better change the subject if I didn't want to have a fight.

But a lot of our competition is really about people being proud of DOING STUPID SHIT. When I tell people I haven't been to an auto show in 30 years they look at me like I'm nuts. But I have talked to a man that didn't know a cam shaft from a crank shaft. Americans have sabotaged themselves with these status games over crappy cars that they don't even understand.

I could easily see people lynching economists if they understood what ignoring the depreciation of all of this junk really meant. I wish I really knew what was behind the banning of turbine engines from the Indy 500 in 1968 was really about. What if truly logical design meant that 90% of cars should have had turbine engines by 1985? Turbines just spin. The airlines used to overhaul piston engines every 400 hours. Turbines go 10,000 hours between overhauls. How would that relate to DEPRECIATION? LOL

umbrarchist said...

And of course we are supposed to compete in school over grades. Not because we are interested in the subject. Get and A in English Lit even though you don't give a damn about English Lit. I wonder how many high school English teachers got straight A's in math or even took 4 years of math in high school.

Why should a kid getting straight A's in math care about getting A's in Eng Lit it the English teachers can't do math?

That's it! Every high school teacher must make their high school transcripts available to the students. That would be funny as hell! Why should students try to get better grades than their teachers. COMPETITION!

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