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Saturday, December 16, 2006 - 10:17amSanction this postReply
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Jane Jacobs has been recommended here on RoR before.
Two Worldviews - The Trader and Taking Syndromes
by A. Robert Malcom
Jane Jacobs, in Systems of Survival, points out that there are only two methods of survival. ... The second method is the unique one of humans: the capacity of being able to trade -- to exchange goods and services for other goods and services, depending again, on what is available. This method is unique -- it is non-coercive, with trading done by voluntary agreement, with mutual assent. Indeed, that is the central essence of trading, and the trading mentality. ...

 
Decentralisation, and Those Who Oppose It
by Peter Cresswell
Jane Jacobs pointed out in ‘The Death and Life of American Cities’ that some of the places so hated by Corbu and the planning fraternity actually worked very well. The ‘mixed use’ of streets of terraced housing and brownstones in places like Manhattan, she pointed out, are very good places to live, with private houses often cheek by jowl with shops, cafes, and the like all an easy walk away. People choose to live in such places because they like them.
"The world is dotted with Paleolithic leavings," Jacobs writes, indicating that cities began as camps of hunters which traded among themselves.  That there be more than one "city" is necessary.  While cities did draw in raw materials -- grains, animals, minerals -- from outside, what made them possible was first the internal work they did in the city with those raw materials, and then, critically, trading that with other cities

New work is added to the old.  The old does not disappear.  We still have buggywhip manufacturers and we have more people than ever shoeing horses and we have more sailboats than anyone 500 years ago dreamed possible.  However, old work does disappear -- disasterously -- in (conservative) agricultural societies where nylon fishing nets destroy the local ability to make fiber lines, where the peace corp drills a well, but when a part breaks, the villagers -- having no city to support them -- are left with a waterhole for mosquitos.

Invention comes not from whole new replacements but from improvements in some factional part of a complicated process.  She did not have the word "spinoff" in those days, but used the anglicism "breakaway." 

Vibrant cities are not "efficient" cities.  Woeful inefficiencies are the opportunities for new ideas, new processes, new work and new leisure.  Redundancy and competition are critical to success.

Adding new work is the producer's logic, not the consumer's.  No consumer ever asked for the invention of the brassiere.  In fact, the creation of the Maidenform company deprived some New York matrons of their dressmaker.  Also, bras were invented by a dressmaker who wanted her work to hang better on her clients -- the first bras did not come from an underwear company.  Ida Rosenthal invented a new kind of work, the making of brassieres.  This happened over and over for thousands of years and is going on today -- wherever economies are thriving, growing, and changing.

We should measure "productivity" not just in the dollar value of goods and services, but in the change of newly added goods and services, those which did not exist at all in the previous timeframe.

Division of labor itself is sterile.  A starvation economy make lack everything necessary for survival, but it will still have division of labor in goatherding, grain grinding, etc.  However, new work creates new divisions of labor, thus raising the value of labor and generating new wealth. 

Adding new work is the producer's logic, not the consumer's. Different kinds of guilds serve different purposes, perhaps, but of all the trade unions ever devised the ones that achieve the least for their members and do the most general harm are "consumer groups."




Post 1

Saturday, December 16, 2006 - 10:44amSanction this postReply
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This thread was born in a paradox.  Discussing the recent UN FAO report that meat animals are the cause of global warming, Ed Thompson repeated the mantra:
But let it be said though, that agriculture is what it is that has allowed this planet to support over 6 billion inhabitants.
... agriculture is one of the things that led to our recent, relentless wealth production, for Christ-sakes! Agriculture freed the common man to enter into small business, for example. It's when we put food procurement onto the back-burner (pardon the pun) that we 'really' took-off in the expansion of individual wealth.
Despite the health tragedy that comes from basing your diet predominantly on grains, grains were, historically, the fountainhead of modern civil society.
I don't blame Ed.  I name him only as an example of an educated, intelligent, independent thinker who never questioned what has been drummed into our heads all of our lives.  There are only 24 hours in a day: you can't fight all the demons at once.  I only came upon these ideas myself this year, when I happened on Against the Grain in a local Border's.  But I found it curious -- stunning really -- that this is not a cornerstone of libertarian thinking.  How could Ayn Rand, herself a lover of both cities and individualism, and a voracious reader, not have stumbled on these ideas, as, in fact, Jane Jacobs was right there in New York City herself. 
Cities and the Wealth of Nations
Beginning with a concise treatment of classical economics, this books challenges one of the fundamental assumptions of the greatest economists. Classical (and Neo-classical) economists consider the nation-state to be the main player in macroeconomics. Jacobs makes a forceful argument that it is not the nation-state, rather it is the city which is the true player in this world wide game. She restates the idea of import replacement from her earlier book The Economy of Cities, while speculating on the further ramifications of considering the city first and the nation second, or not at all.
Wkipedia, Jane Jacobs.
Jacobs writes of Europe and modern America.  I just finished a class in History of China.  Time and again, well-meaning and high minded Confucians or Buddhists and even the Communists attempted to revitalize China by re-investing in agriculture, but it never succeeded.  They always denigrated the merchants and the cities.  Even my professor, being from Harvard, spoke of merchants to "took" the "national wealth."  It is an old misperception.  To improve agriculture, you must have vibrant industries.  To sustain and improve farming, you must have vibrant cities.

Jacobs asks: if someone in the far future unearthed our civilization and found electrical generating stations (nuclear power plants, actually -- MEM) out in the farmlands, would they then conclude that electrical power was invented on the farms and sold as exports to the cities along with grains and meats?

Manchester "efficiently" produced textiles.  It was the wonder of the capitalist and socialist thinkers of the day.  Detroit died in 1920 -- it just has not been buried yet.  What killed it was the "efficient" automobile industry.  The capitalist and socialist thinkers of the previous ages all made the same mistake because when Adam Smith and Karl Marx wrote, we still had a Biblical mythology in which man was born knowing agriculture.  Only with recent excavations such as Çatalhöyük do we now have a better idea of how the past developed -- and how the future will be made.
Healthy cities, Jacobs argued, are organic, messy, spontaneous, and serendipitous. They thrive on economic, architectural, and human diversity, on dense populations and mixed land uses -- not on orderly redevelopment plans that replaced whole neighborhoods with concrete office parks and plazas in the name of slum clearance or city beautification.
Bill Steigerwald in Reason, June 2001
http://www.reason.com/news/show/28053.html





Post 2

Saturday, December 16, 2006 - 4:41pmSanction this postReply
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And yet - believe it or not, Jane Jacobs was a socialist..... preferring to end her days in Canada instead of the US....



Post 3

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 8:54amSanction this postReply
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How does moving to Canada make a person a socialist?




Post 4

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 9:25amSanction this postReply
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Canada is more socialist than the US. Point in mind: health care.



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Post 5

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 9:49amSanction this postReply
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Moving to Canada doesn't make you a socialist, it merely shows your tolerance for socialism. That Canada is more socialistic than the US is beyond debate — all you have to look at is the taxation levels.

Sam




Post 6

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 9:52amSanction this postReply
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[gee - is this a time for Obviousman to make an appearance????] ;-)



Post 7

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 12:24pmSanction this postReply
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I knew that Canada was more socialist--higher taxes, more handouts. And the gun-control laws are terrible.

However, laws regarding drug use aren't nearly as oppressive. Canada also has a lot more wide open spaces than the US, if that is what you are looking for.

But moving to Canada does not make a person a socialist, just as moving to Canada does not make someone a fan of curling.




Post 8

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply
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[as Obviousman] perhaps she moved to Canada BECAUSE she was a socialist......;-\



Post 9

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 4:21pmSanction this postReply
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Damn, I wanted to be obviousman...

If the girl next door wants a government healthcare system, then you're a socialist...

And now this...

According to wikipedia and me...

1. The US GOV spends more per capita on healthcare then the Cans do.

2. The Canadian preference for hockey is an on-going social engineering experiment run by the GOV funded CBC... they got me hooked.

I am,

obviousman



Post 10

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 6:20pmSanction this postReply
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why say per capita instead of per person?



Post 11

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 6:24pmSanction this postReply
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Obviousman White T-Shirt   http://www.cafepress.com/nonsequitur/111199


Obviousman #2

http://www.udel.edu/communication/COMM418/begleite/humor/nonsequitur.htm
(Edited by Sam Erica on 12/18, 6:28pm)

(Edited by Sam Erica on 12/18, 6:30pm)




Post 12

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 6:33pmSanction this postReply
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Jane Jacobs, The Anti-Planner
By Gene Callahan and Sanford Ikeda

Jacobs presents a theory that the origins of cities, agriculture, and animal husbandry lie in exchange. Her theory is fully cognizant of the principles of human action and what we can realistically imagine the situation of those first urbanites to have been, as they would have understood it.
Jacobs contends that both animal husbandry and agriculture were most likely to have originated in the earliest urban settlements. Further, those settlements were the result of Paleolithic trade, and it was the intensification of trade in those early cities that paved the way for the development of agriculture and animal husbandry.

http://www.mises.org/story/1247




Post 13

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 8:17pmSanction this postReply
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Dean:

Where do I sign-up for your deprogramming course?

...

So to answer your question: a four-year post-modern university education hangover- mild pretension remains.

:)

T


(Edited by Tyson Russell
on 12/18, 9:50pm)




Post 14

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 11:14pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Sam - am glad SOMEBODY knew who Obviousman is..... lol  ;-)



Post 15

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 - 6:32amSanction this postReply
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Sorry, Robert. I thought you had made him up and I just Googled him to see if anyone else had done so.



Post 16

Sunday, January 14, 2007 - 11:43pmSanction this postReply
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Which is the better book to spend my money on now, the economy of cities, or cities and the wealth of nations? I am well grounded in history and archaeolgy. I have both in my shopping cart, but don't wish to buy both at once.

Thanks



Post 17

Monday, January 15, 2007 - 2:54pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

If you haven't already read it, throw another Jane Jacobs book into your shopping cart: Systems of Survival.

Not because it is a 'better' read (I love both of the other two Jacobs books mentioned), but because it is about the evolution of moral systems which has been a topic on the forum in recent days :-)

There is a review and some discussion somewhere on this site - maybe in the archives.

Forgive me one and all if I'm tooting a horn you've already heard.



Post 18

Monday, January 15, 2007 - 6:43pmSanction this postReply
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If I find an author worth reading (Sacks, Paglia, Hitchens, Mencken, Rand, Heinlein, Herbert, Tolkien, ANWilson, Vermes, Niven, MZBradley, Mayr, Dawkins, Gould, Sagan, Durant, Damasio, Melville, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Orwell, Chesterton, Grandin, Lewis, Pinker, RGoldstein, Reale, Graves, Gimbutas, Yeats...) I usually read everythingg by them I can get my hands on. I was looking for a guide as to what to buy first, by inherent value or as necessary introduction. But thanks for the sugestion. Unless I hear otherwise, I intend to buy her first first. Your suggestion is in my shopping basket at ABEbooks.



Post 19

Monday, January 15, 2007 - 8:33pmSanction this postReply
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Since, in a manner of development, The Economy of Cities came first, read that first.... this gives a background of sorts in which ye can judge the succeeding ones, even as they stand alone.....



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