HUMANONICS by Eugen Loebl


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It is a welcome change to encounter an economist interested not in predicting the future but in changing the present--one, moreover, with reasoned proposals to that end. Loebl, dismissed as Czech deputy trade minister in 1949 because of his opposition to Soviet economic domination, rejects Marxism as politically authoritarian and economically inefficient; capitalism, even as tempered by Keynes, is deficient in accepting a trade-off between unemployment and inflation. Both rest upon false assumptions. Loebl avers that applied science has replaced manual labor as the source of wealth; that any mature economy consists of a great number of interdependent systems; that a given commodity is thus a national product regardless of who owns the means of production. Therefore it is up to the government, the macroorgan, to ensure the optimal functioning of the system and orient it toward a social objective. A critical means is the management of money, which the government should supply in sufficient quantity for the needs of the economy and to pay its own expenses; taxation is to be regarded not as a way to provide the government with revenue but as a way of balancing the money supply. Since it is the consumer who ultimately pays all taxes, efficiency would be served by abandoning all save a 30% ""skimming"" tax on the last item in the production chain. Loopholes would be eliminated, costs of collection would be reduced, corporations would lose their leverage as ""big taxpayers"": and individuals with high incomes could be assessed separately, for the direct distribution of income. Rejecting the concept of a value-free economics, Loebl hits out at Paul Samuelson as representative of those who see in the performance of economies the operation of predetermined laws; he may overestimate the extent to which man can control his economic destiny, but his insights are fresh and his observations persuasive.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1976
Publisher: Random House