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The Almighty Buck EU Government Politics Games

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister 328

eldavojohn writes A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist, and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.
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Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister

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  • Honestly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:39PM (#48914937)

    I don't know how to feel about this one...

    • Hey, maybe he can game the system to buy the time necessary to fix things?
      • Re: Honestly... (Score:2, Informative)

        by buswolley ( 591500 )

        That's because game economies are like real economies in many ways and they know that economies collapse when you have austerity...when too little new money is created.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by digsbo ( 1292334 )

          That's because game economies are like real economies in many ways and they know that economies collapse when you have too much debt...when too little debt is paid back.

          FTFY.

          • Re: Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @03:06PM (#48916863)

            This certainly explains the observed tendency of economies to collapse randomly no matter how they're run.

            However, unlike in game economies, decisions in real economies affect people in addition to economy. Even if austerity actually was a cure to euro's problems, it cannot continue without destroying EU itself. People aren't going to tolerate endless misery just to boost some number, no matter how necessary politicians (who don't share the misery) deem it.

            Either EU gets euro to work without austerity, or it has to abandon it. Demanding sacrifices from the common people who's reward is having less say in their own local affairs is quickly discrediting the entire union.

            • by digsbo ( 1292334 )

              Either EU gets euro to work without austerity, or it has to abandon it. Demanding sacrifices from the common people who's reward is having less say in their own local affairs is quickly discrediting the entire union.

              That was a design bug known from the very beginning. Or, if you're a banker, a design feature. The less prosperous EU nations were interested in having other, more prosperous countries help finance their social programs' largesse. Of course those holding the purse strings saw an opportunity there.

            • by ahodgson ( 74077 )

              What Europe calls austerity, everyone else calls living within one's means. Which, in the long term, is non-optional.

              • Re: Honestly... (Score:5, Interesting)

                by jonnyj ( 1011131 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @06:46PM (#48918741)

                What Europe calls austerity, everyone else calls living within one's means. Which, in the long term, is non-optional.

                Quite apart from the politics and economics, this is a really complex moral issue.

                On the one hand, the Greek people repeatedly elected governments that failed to collect taxes or eliminate corruption, spent money that they didn't have and borrowed money that they couldn't afford to repay. On that assessment, the Greeks deserve every bit of misery they've endured since their creditors decided to stop pouring good money after bad. But the trouble with that view is that a different bunch of Greeks are having to pay the bills: an entire generation is growing up with a broken economy because their parents voted for jam today.

                It's the same with the creditors. In pursuit of political gain and a quick buck, banks and other eurozone governments supported successive corrupt Greek governments in their act of intergenerational theft. They deserve to lose their shirts as the Greeks default just as surely as a payday lender that fails to assess the affordability of its loans deserves to go bust. The problem is that the bill ultimately gets picked up by innocent bystanders - mostly German taxpayers. True, those same German taxpayers voted for their inept government that failed to regulate their banks' exposure to Greece, but that was hardly a major electoral issue at the time.

                So Greek voters and Greek governments connived with European bankers to profit from the German population and younger Greeks. I have no sympathy with any of them. A plague on all their houses!

    • by mhlo ( 645308 )
      EU is a fail. Greece surrendering their sovereignty to the EU was a mistake from the beginning.
      • EU is a fail by allowing Greece to join in the first place. Greece would have been far worse off today without joining the EU, and the EU would have been better off.

      • I'm not sure I understand you correctly. Since the EU was formed, (or, more precisely, it's previous incarnations as the common Steel market, Common Market etc) Europe has been at war with itself no times. Over the previous 15 centuries or so since the fall of the Roman Empire, there has been no period of peace as long. I would say the EU has been nothing but success, as it has prevented young men like my Father from being drafted into an army and sent to fight a bunch of young men he had no real quarrel.
    • I'm hoping to pick up an Acropolis during the next holiday or summer sale.

  • Badges (Score:5, Funny)

    by space_jake ( 687452 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:40PM (#48914949)
    EU trading cards to the rescue!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...is farm more gold. That'll solve all of our economic woes!

  • Brave Man (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:42PM (#48914989)

    Finance Minister of Greece ranks pretty high on my list of "you could pay me enough, but it would be A LOT" jobs.

  • by Kinwolf ( 945345 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:44PM (#48915017)
    If he's working on "Valve's time", then he'll produce the first draft about possible solutions around 10 years after Greece has ceased to exist as a country.
    • Not at all. They'll move to a rapid release schedule. There will be discrete episodes.
      Episode 1 will be the removal of previous measures.
      Episode 2 will be an announcement that the end of all problems is coming soon.
      Then they'll spend 6 years promising episode 3 is coming soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:44PM (#48915027)

    and transitions to a diversified, hat-based economy.

  • by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:44PM (#48915033)
    I don't really want to compare Yanis to a gambling murderer, but I am anyways. This sounds a bit too much like John Law getting appointed to fix the French Economy. That turned out great for everyone didn't it. Appointing someone to run your economy who's primary job in economics was to make a bunch of gambling addicts to improve steams revenue doesn't sound like the kind of person who should be fixing an economy. But who knows, maybe he'll do something good and be crowned a genius.
    • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie.hotmail@com> on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:55PM (#48915189) Homepage

      I know it's fashionable to jump on the Valve-hating-bandwagon, but would it be too much of an effort to, you know, not follow the flock and use some common sense instead? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] lists a lot of reasons for why he seems like a good person for this, like e.g. the following exerpt on his academic career:

      After training in mathematics and statistics, Varoufakis received his economics doctorate in 1987 at the University of Essex. Before that he had already begun teaching economics and econometrics at the University of Essex and the University of East Anglia. In 1988 he spent a year as a Fellow at the University of Cambridge. From 1989 until 2000 he taught as Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Department of Economics of the University of Sydney. In 2000 he moved to his native Greece where he is still Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens (currently on leave). In 2002 Varoufakis established The University of Athens Doctoral Program in Economics (UADPhilEcon), which he directed until 2008. Since January 2013 he has been teaching at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

      This guy has written several books, he appears as guest analyst for news media like the BBC, CNN, Sky News, Russia Today and Bloomberg TV and he seems to be quite well-respected everywhere. But no, you just focus on the fact that he also happens to work for Valve.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 )

        You know ... looking around what has happened in the last few decades ... I think being a trained economist makes you eminently unqualified to run an economy.

        Economics is as much ideology as it is "science" -- what you think will happen depends on what you believe happens. Economics is not some intrinsic natural law.

        It seems like trained economists are just as likely to fuck up an economy as would be trained monkeys -- because at the end of the day you have shockingly little control over things, and probab

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 )

          Let's not start pretending that economists actually know anything about the economy.

          Let's not start pretending that you actually know anything about economists or economy. Sounds much more like ignorance and axe-grinding to me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gstoddart ( 321705 )

            Not claiming I have the answers ... but I'm flat out saying the economists who tell us WTF the economy is doing and why are so completely full of shit as to be laughable.

            Economics isn't a science, it's fucking ideology.

            The idiotic policies of Alan Greenspan almost directly led to the housing bubble ... and even he admits his notion of "free money" was idiotic and wrong.

            Economics is NOT a fucking science and never has been, it's intrinsically linked to politics and ideology.

            People who claim it is some kind o

            • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
              I wish I had mod points, you're so excruciatingly correct. Have you ever checked out the Austrian School economists, who reject empiricism largely in favor of recognizing that individual actions drive economic activity? You might like it. Look up "praxeology".
        • This more correct than incorrect
        • He will need all of his expertise in game theory to negotiate and try to get debts written off and a new batch of money.
          The public has been promised as much and a grexit to Drachmes will immediately drop Greece into a 3rd world country (Greece depends fully on import).
          So, EU will grudge and give some as EU's internal bank system is a shithole of interloans.
          France, Italy and Spain will also want some after that.
          Of course, in northern countries things start to get rumbling as well; all savings, retireme
        • "Economics is not some intrinsic natural law."

          Even this is debatable..
        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Case in point, the paper that convinced everyone austerity was the answer was found to have a math error that flipped the results. Everyone knows it but austerity marches on because the top economists say what their masters want them to say.

      • You're right. I focused on what he's actually done for Valve which is make a gamblers economy which is eerily similar to what John Law did.
        • You're right. I focused on what he's actually done for Valve which is make a gamblers economy which is eerily similar to what John Law did.

          No, you foolishly assume that it was all his decisions and that he actually wielded so much power in the company as to be able to steer its direction as he wishes all the while ignoring the fact that he only joined Valve in 2012 when the company was already very much doing what they are doing now.

      • What i find hilarious is that people are looking at this backwards. Valve hired him BECAUSE he has the credentials to run a nation's economy.
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @01:05PM (#48915319)

      I'm not going to judge based on what his last job was, if he's actually technically qualified to do this one.

      I just wonder what their plan is. Austerity is not a happy thing, but it is definitely possible to make things worse. With their economy in its current state, the usual leftist option of borrowing and spending their way out of it may be very limited. Not to mention that it sort of got them there to begin with. And the people likely elected these guys because they want their benefits back, somehow. Sadly democracy does not always make for good economic policy.

      It would be interesting if there was some clever model that could get them out of this mes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        With their economy in its current state, the usual leftist option of borrowing and spending their way out of it may be very limited. .

        Who in their right mind would lend to the Greeks? The way it is looking now, the German taxpayers will be paying for it . . . and they are not enthusiastically pleased about it, to say the least.

        Having Greece and Germany share a common currency was a shit-brained idea. In one hour, German workers shove off a couple of Porsches and Mercedes of their production line. In one hour, Greek workers roll a few dolmades and stuff a few gigantes in a can.

        And yes, I worked with some guys from Greece on a European

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        If you'd not question Valve hiring the former Finance Minister of Greece to manage the economy of their market, why would you question the reverse?

        The guy's an economist. That's what you want. Meritocracy and all that. And Valve are hardly suffering for his presence in their organisation from what I see, even though they haven't put out their blockbuster game promised nearly 10 years ago.

        They're obviously doing SOMETHING right, attracting millions of people and tens of millions of item sales every day.

      • by Prune ( 557140 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @02:34PM (#48916477)
        They need to leave the euro (as does every other member). Monetary union doesn't work unless you have fiscal and economic union as well, and Europe is too diverse for that any time soon. Trade imbalance results in the most efficient exporter (Germany) beggaring their neighbors and accumulating cash, since the rest can't adapt by floating exchange rates -- it's classic merchantilism. What's worse is that only the heads of the German economic engine really benefit from it, due to wage suppression at home (which is part of what fuels their trade surplus).

        borrowing and spending their way out of it may be very limited

        I don't think you understand macroeconomics. There is a too limited money supply that is significantly worsening a recession/derpession. Greece gave up one of its primary rights as a sovereign -- issuing its own currency -- and so lacks one of the most powerful policy tools for intervention in its own economy. If it wasn't part of the euro, it wouldn't have to borrow from anyone but itself. Even the US mainly borrows from itself: the majority of its debt is not held by foreigners but is simply a number registered between treasury and federal reserve, which is an accounting fiction akin to debt between husband and wife. There are primarily political reasons some of the US debt is held by others, but it's not a basic requirement of its monetary system. The typical argument against government spending is inflation, but that doesn't happen if the spending is targeted as to decrease unemployment and thus increase aggregate demand -- which is exactly what's needed in a recession. The devil is in exactly how the spending should be carried out (things like a job guarantee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... [wikipedia.org] come to mind) and should not be carried out (Bernanke's quantitative easing).

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

          I do understand the problem of a limited money supply, but I don't think they're seriously considering leaving the euro, so talking about an independent monetary policy is pointless. They need to bring in more money, and while they maintain the euro, they either need to borrow or somehow change monetary policy related to the euro to suit them. Borrowing still seems more likely than a change in Eurozone monetary policy.

      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @03:28PM (#48917135)

        I just wonder what their plan is. Austerity is not a happy thing, but it is definitely possible to make things worse. With their economy in its current state, the usual leftist option of borrowing and spending their way out of it may be very limited

        Austerity for an entire government simply sucks. Cutting expenses is a great idea for an individual, but for a government that's more like trying to balance your checkbook by taking a lower-paying job close to home (Hey! Gasoline expenses are way down!). Or more accurately, a company trying to balance its ledger by selling less products. Adherence to this idea is why Europe is still deep in recession while China and the USA have been back to economic growth (and in the USA's case, falling real dollar deficits) for over a year now. If it needs to do so, a government should cut expenses during a recovery, not during a recession.

        Greece has some systemic problems that helped get them into this mess (eg: tax cheating is practically a national sport). But when faced with a recession they have 2 basic problems. The first is that they aren't AAA borrowers like the USA, so their government can't just borrow money at will. If they want to borrow large sums, they have to cajole it out of someone (like the EU). The second is that they are shackled to the Euro, which means all the monetary policy options that the US relied on to pull itself out are not available to Greece. That means leaving the EU, or borrowing more money from it, are really their only 2 options.

        It would really behoove the EU to develop some analog to the US's Fed to run their monetary policy. The problem is everything there seems to run on consensus, and I simply don't see how that's possible when you have such divergent members. They'd have to get themselves a semi-independent policy board, like the US has, or unify all their national budgets and expect to have to regularly pour EU tax dollars into poorer members, like the US does every year with Mississippi. [theatlantic.com]

        One thing is pretty clear though. The current middle ground the EU is trying to run just isn't working.

  • Digital Drachmas, 75% off!
  • Yanis Varoufakis (Score:5, Informative)

    by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @12:53PM (#48915153)

    He basically wants Eurozone banks to have a single rescue fund, for the ECB to issue bonds, and the EIB to invest into the periphery economies to get out of the crisis.

    There's just one problem. Even if they make sense none of those things can be done by Greece alone. I hope he has a Plan B.

    You can see him explain his views on the current economic crisis in this video [youtube.com].

    • There are more plans than that. e.g. linking debt repayments to growth not to the budget.
      • The problem is that rewriting your debt repayment obligations without the consent of the debt holders is called "default", and the results can be fairly drastic.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      That's why a large part of his job is going to be negotiating with the EU.

      He's absolutely right too. When all those little countries gave up their own currencies, they also gave up control of their own monetary policy. That means it has to be run from the EU, or its not being run at all. Its like everyone jumping on a big ship with nobody at the rudder, trusting in its own sheer size to keep everyone safe. That might not be a problem while everything's going great, but if there are reefs or an iceberg ahea

  • That is some unexpected news, as I was reading an interview of a French economic newspaper with this guy.
    Let me chime in for a personal revendication which might be useful for the working or modest or youth classes. Counterstrike 1.x is lacking servers both in quantity and quality, a small few are nice but it is a pain to suffer 24/7 dust2, zombie mods (wtf?) and too many gun game servers. We should organize to provide community servers with good map rotations, good map voting (but servers without voting as

  • Assuming Alexis Tsipras is unsatisfied with his old job, maybe he's leaving just to blow off steam. But I don't know how much good that will do him: the job of Finance Minister of Greece is bound to be a pressure cooker. I just hope the problems there don't boil over.

  • Valve sale on Greece debt! 75% off! Limited time only, until insolvency supplies last.
  • What [washingtonpost.com] can [yahoo.com] possibly [channel4.com] go [economist.com] wrong [washingtonpost.com]?
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @02:07PM (#48916053)

      Here's a better link to an article from The Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs... [economist.com]

      AS one country after another on the periphery of the euro zone had to swallow painful reforms and fiscal austerity as the price for their bail-outs between 2010 and 2013, the surprise was that by and large they accepted the medicine without a large-scale populist revolt. But Sunday’s result in the Greek election marks a turning-point because Syriza, the radical-left party that has prevailed at the polls, campaigned on casting aside austerity, backtracking on the reforms and renegotiating the vast debt that Greece owes its European creditors. These policies are unacceptable to the euro-zone countries, especially Germany, that have lent Greece so much money. The outcome of the election could also have wider implications. Why does the Greek result matter?

      A clash is impending because the Greeks see their recent history in a very different light from that of the Germans and other Europeans who have bailed them out. From the perspective of Northern creditor nations, Greece was the architect of its own misfortune by mismanaging its public finances on a staggering scale. It has been lent an astonishing amount of money in not just one but two bail-outs, amounting to €246 billion ($275 billion), worth more than the country’s entire economic output. From a Greek perspective, however, the country has suffered a calamitous decline in GDP, which at its low in late 2013 was 27% down on its pre-crisis peak. Harsh spending cuts and tax rises have been imposed again and again as conditions for further economic support. Greeks feel that they have lost control of their country, which is now instead being directed by the hated troika: the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank.

      Syriza won on Sunday because Alexis Tsipras, the party's leader, offered a message of hope to a country still in despair, even though the economy is now recovering. But the difficulty with his plan for Greece is that it requires other Europeans to finance it—or to countenance a reversal of reforms they regard as vital for Greece to cope with euro-zone membership. If Mr Tsipras makes good on promises of higher spending and lower taxes then Greece will fail to meet its objective of running a big primary budget surplus (ie, before interest payments), which would make it far harder to get its debt down from 175% of GDP. And if he reverses reforms such as the ones that have brought down wages, then Greece will head back towards the uncompetitive economic mess that, along with budgetary mismanagement, got it into trouble in the first place.

      In the negotiations that will now occur between Mr Tsipras and Greece’s creditors, Germany will give little ground. Angela Merkel, too, must pay attention to domestic opinion, which would be hostile to any concessions. The German chancellor also has to reckon with the wider impact of any deal that appeared to reward Syriza in emboldening populist revolts in other countries in the euro area, notably in Spain. For any country to leave the euro will be destabilising because it would break the supposed irrevocability of membership. But if Mr Tsipras were to get his way then the euro area would become a club where borrowers rather than lenders called the shots, which would be unsustainable. That is why Mr Tsipras will, before long, face a difficult choice between backing down on his demands—or presiding over a ruinous Greek exit.

      • by hibiki_r ( 649814 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @03:31PM (#48917163)

        That article hits the nail in the head. For Europe, this is not about Greece: Their economy is small, and by itself, if they sank nothing would matter. It's what it says to Spain, a country with a general election coming pretty soon, and who has its own new, populist left wing party that runs against corruption and austerity.

        The Eurozone can handle anything that happens to Greece. But if Spain decides to ignore the troika, beware.

    • Though unlikely to change your opinion, Krugman has an interesting piece on how they're not so radical after all, but pretty much following textbook macro [nytimes.com]. Don't like Krugman? Well, he predicted the economic quagmire that we're in now. Bill Gross was so off he got kicked out of his own firm.

      If you're reactionary, everything pretty much looks like radicalism,

  • I for one welcome our new virtual-currency overlords.

    Geddit? Because Valve made Half-life 2, and...

    Oh, forget it.

  • by TodoRojo ( 1106857 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @01:27PM (#48915583)
    The fact that he is atheist has nothing to do with the story. Why mention it?
    • Because a lot of Greeks consider being Christian Orthodox as being part of the package of being Greek. TBH believing in the god stuff likely isn't as imporant but going through the motions is. There is more of a superstitious element to the belief than elsewhere I've seen and it's not like the more hard-line Christians in the US. Tsipras decided not to have his vows administered by the bishop, but to have a civil ceremony instead. I think this is the first time that has happened (although the PASOK governme
    • It's important news that matters for nerds...because real nerds don't like seeing delusional whack jobs (i.e. Christians) in positions of power fighting science and progress. Having an Atheist is historic like having a historically persecuted minority in a position of power.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Because its interesting? The Prime Minister is Atheist as well, and refused to take a ceremonial diety-based oath. This is apparently a first in Greece since the war ended (if not ever).

      I'm Christian myself, but I'm strongly for religious freedom, and I find it interesting. In an ideal world this wouldn't be big news, but it is to Greeks, so it is. That's what progress looks like.

  • My knowledge of Greek economics doesn't go much beyond NPR, but the changes needed seem pretty straightforward:

    1. Reform civil service
    2. Aggressively prosecute tax fraud
    3. Tax church assessts (i.e. church either make is assets poductive or sells them to someone who will)

    An angry coalition leftists and iconoclasts might be pretty good at 2 of these things. Maybe all 3?

  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @02:17PM (#48916213) Journal

    Don't be mislead by the debt problem. If Greece had economic growth, it would not have a debt problem.

    Greece rankes "mostly unfree" [heritage.org] on the Index of Economic Freedom:

    Greece's economic freedom score is 54.0, making its economy the 130th freest in the 2015 Index. Its score has declined by 1.7 points since last year due to a substantial deterioration in the control of government spending and smaller declines in business freedom, labor freedom, and fiscal freedom. Greece is ranked 40th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is below the world and regional averages...the rule of law remains problematic, with property rights weakly enforced, tax evasion on the rise, and corruption pervasive. Despite efforts to create a more business-friendly regulatory environment, the labor market remains rigid and slow to adjust to market realities...The overall pace of regulatory reform lags behind other countries. With no minimum capital required, launching a business takes five procedures and 13 days. However, completing licensing requirements still takes about four months on average...

    By the way, regarding "austerity", Greece's public expenditures equal 58.5 percent of domestic output. That does not sound very austere to me.

  • Calling him "Valve's Economist" implies that this is Yanis Varoufakis' main role in life. It's not. He's done some economics research at Valve and some consulting there. He's mainly known for other stuff, as you can see from other posts here or from Googling him.
  • The patient died, but the operation was a success.

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Tuesday January 27, 2015 @09:13PM (#48919817) Homepage

    My suggestion from 2008 when Greece ran out of tear gas: https://groups.google.com/foru... [google.com]
    "Now, does this make any sense if you understand the possibilities of open manufacturing or an open society? In Greece you have a warm climate, access to oceans, lots of sun and wind, an educated populace with a 2000+ year history of democracy (on and off :-), no obvious external enemies declaring war, and so on. And they are so worried about their future ability to make and use things (which is how I translate "fears for Greece's economic future") that they are running out of tear gas? This all makes no *physical* sense. The place should be a paradise. Instead it is in "self-destruct mode" according to one editor. It must be *ideology*. Or, more correctly, ideology *embodied* in a certain type of productive infrastructure. ...
    So, ironically, we have the worst of both systems. We could have a really centralized system run efficiently with a tiny fraction of the workforce now, with a lot less variety perhaps (that is, all the old Soviet Central Planning stuff would work now that we have the internet and great software and great designs and great computers if we accept some voluntary simplicity), but with everything very cheap (essentially, just given away) and 99% of the population doing whatever they wanted with their time. Or, we could have a freewheeling diverse gift economy of local open manufacturing where people just make whatever they want in an open way, with all sorts of useful and useless items. (Aspects of the two extremes may even converge, since what are the 99% of people going to do with the generic stuff but customize it? :-) Instead, we have a system in the middle that produces some variety at a huge expense of human effort taken away from family and civic duties, and it is a system now with so many questions about its uncertain future (including that anyone who is young will have a dignified place in the economic scheme of things) that an entire country has just run out of tear gas. This makes no sense (except of course, that some people do benefit from this, like tear gas manufacturers, school teachers who get paid to keep kids off the streets preparing them for non-existent jobs, people who are near the top of the economic hierarchy already and feel secure, etc.).
    Anyway, this suggests one target of open manufacturing could be a community of size ranging from Iceland (about 300,000 people) to Greece (about 11,000,000 people). That's certainly an interesting size range. I would think 99% closure of those economies by mass should be easily doable. Computer chips, some medicines, and maybe some other specialized components might be the major imports after the system was set up. Note that while one may not expect Greece or Iceland to "self-replicate" any time soon, the ability do do so ensures it can be self-repairing.
    Anyway, it kind of comes down to how much economic security is worth to a country compared to minimum effort. Given the massive youth unemployment in Greece, and the economic fears of depending on a global economy, it would seem like maximizing productive efficiency through participating in global production would not be at the top of their priority list now that they are out of tear gas. Unfortunately, they did not invest in this research ten years ago. So, this is only theoretical at this point. It might take a very expensive crash program to bring together thousands of researchers for a year to make headway in any time that might make a difference. Still, politically, that is an out for Greece. We could all move there, recruit all the educated youths off the streets, and spend a year figuring out how to make Greece work for everybody and be 99% self-sufficient by mass. :-) But, no need to move with the internet really. Maybe somebody on the list could coordinate moving the rioters off th

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