Rhyme or Reason March 2013.pdf

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Send e-mail to rneedham@uwaterloo.ca









           Biographical Statement:

"...they had their being once and left a place to stand on..."
Al Purdy - Roblin Mills Circa 1842

"Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust." J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971), 3.


Bob Needham--a sketch: political economist (see definition of political economist provided in Table 1) at the University of Waterloo since 1965. He has held many administrative positions at the Departmental (Economics) and Faculty (Arts) levels.


A former President of the Faculty Association (FAUW), he was re-elected to this position for 4 consecutive terms. Between  1992 and 2001, he was Director of the Canadian Studies Program which was based at St. Paul's United College, and has been active on the joint UW/WLU Native Studies Development Committee. He is Coordinator of the activities associated with implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on educational and scientific cooperation between University of Waterloo and Universidad de Oriente, in Santiago de Cuba.


He was a candidate in Federal Riding of Waterloo for the NDP of Canada in the 1980, and 1984 elections and a Provincial Riding (Waterloo North) candidate in the 1981 Ontario election. He has held various positions in the two local Riding associations including that of CFO for the Waterloo North Riding Association of the ONDP.


The common good is the major purpose of Bob Needham's home page. The intent is to construct a place 'upon which to stand,' from which to view the world, and from which progressive advances may be made, however slowly, towards the construction of a better world--one characterized by true liberty, equality and individual empowerment within community. The base-camp for the climb up the hill to the view provided is the recognition that 'the conditions for the free and full development of each person are the conditions for the free and full development of all persons.' Realization of this base camp is consistent with the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which, importantly, attempts to establish, it may be said, at least a moral, if not a legal base for a full democracy of human rights. The Canadian, John Peters Humphrey, First Director of the United Nations Human Rights Division, wrote the initial drafts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am grateful to A. John Hobbins, Associate Director, Libraries, McGill University, and literary executor of the estate of John Humphrey, for providing a list of his articles and bringing other publications that deal with Humphrey and the Declaration to my attention. This includes the Bibliography by Luisa Piatti. See the important article by William A. Schabas in the 1998 McGill Law Journal and the CRB Foundation Heritage Project's Humphrey web site on this remarkable Canadian.


The construction of  ‘a place to stand” takes place alongside a critique of conventional mainstream neo-classical theory. The web-based articles listed outline the multidimensional trans-disciplinary and open-ended replacement for neo-classical marginalism—a manufactured world where both truth and justice are obtained by assumption so that both may be ignored in favor of mathematics replacing real world economics and political economy. Bob Needham regards his multi-disciplinary starting point as a worded equivalent to John Nash's concern for governing dynamics or as he (WRN) would have it, general dynamics (because of his multi-dimensional and trans-disciplinary framework and open ended), and his concern to avoid the limiting assumptions of his colleagues. See this point in: Is the Function of Mainstream Economics to Avoid the Analysis of Business as War?


Major components of that view of the world are provided in Table 1 of The Political Economy Approach to Social Systems Analysis.An overview of the systemic problems of our system is provided in The Capitalist SystemThe capitalist system may by traced though definitions from Adam Smith to the present day.


Many of the links connected to the page provide supporting insights into a social justice perspective on the human predicament, through critiques of the economic and social system, the presentation of alternatives and praxis or practical illustration (through education, agitation and legislation). It may be asserted that justice within capitalism is the priority question implied by Rawls' words, "Laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust." This being the case the fulfilment of humanity's moral obligations with respect to the global village which is the world capitalist system suggests establishing United Nations human rights declarations and covenants as definitive, that is as must be met provisos or constraints to be placed on all market based economies and on economic constitutions such as those that are implied by NAFTA and MAI. Also see MAI-NAFTA on Steroids. Attention is drawn to the work of Justin Stein, The Second Coming: The Global Market and the Need for an International Political Authority.

One ought especially to note, in the first instance, the direction given in the Declaration with respect to education and human development which says, "The General Assembly: Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the the peoples of terrritories under their jurisdiction." (and in Article 26 clause 2): "2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace." In this connection attention is drawn to the article"Why Socialism?" written by Albert Einstein (1879-1955). On Einstein see, for example, Time (December 31, 1999) and the Einstein Home Page


.WRN Web Based: 

An Unconditional Basic Income for Canada? 

Poverty must be addressed

Harper letter 120907

Ethical Nationalism COMER Vol 24#10, (Oct 2012), 3-6.

Bibliography of Works About John P. Humphrey

Open Letter to Jim Flaherty

Make The Rich Pay 
And We Will All Be Better Off 
(And Them, The Rich, No Worse Off) (to be revised) http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~rneedham/needhdata/needhm3.html

The Capitalist System

Capitalist_Family_Values COMER, Vol. 24#11, (November 2012), 3-9.

“Some Comments on the Cambridge Paradigm: An Introduction to Modern Economics,” in: The Subtle Anatomy of Capitalism, J.G. Schwartz, ed., (Goodyear Publishing Company, 1977).

Understanding the Canadian Economy: A Political Economy Approach—I—Micro-economics, (Toronto:  Wall and Thompson, 1989).

“The Last Word: What if the Neo-Classical Model of Costs and Prices is Wrong?” In: W.H. Pope, All you must Know About Economics, Second Edition. (Toronto: Bergandal, 1997).

Lerner, Sally, Charles Clark and W. Robert Needham Basic Income: Economic Security for all Canadians, (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 1999).

"Reforming Economics-Ten Quick Steps towards Reality Economics", COMER, (Vol. 20, No. 7, July 2008) 5, 6, 7.

Table 1 of The Political Economy Approach to Social Systems Analysis  

The Essentials of Capitalism Through Definitions: From Adam Smith to the Present Day 

Understanding the Canadian Economy: The Capitalist Development of Canada

Satirical and other Verse etc 

Rhyme & reason: By several Famous and NOt so Famous Poets

W. Robert Needham, The Current State of Economics

W. Robert Needham, The War Functions of Mainstream Economics 

COMER, Vol 24,#9, Sept 2012, 7,8, 9.

Conceptualization of Evolution and Policy 

Technological Phases in the Development of Capitalism 

Profit as the Root of All Evil

National Policy Diagram: Commodity and Labour Markets

Reforming Economics-Ten Quick Steps towards Reality EconomicsCOMER, (Vol. 20, No. 7, July 2008) 5, 6, 7.

Cambridge Town Hall Meeting: Minimum Wages 

Chicago letter Final. August 20, 2008 COMER (Vol. 21, No. 3, March 2009), 13.

MFriedman&Conservative EconREV 2012.doc Gatekeeper Econoics II COMER, Vol. 25, No. 4 (April 2013) 1-9.

Gatekeeper Economics 1- EconSociety.pdf   COMER, Vol 24,#9. September 2012, 3,4.             

Wage Controls and The CLC: Dr. Ron Lang sets the Record Straight