Octavian-Dragomir Jora
Octavian-Dragomir Jora
Professor, Ph.D., Habil., at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, where he has cultivated and developed interests in comparative economic systems, critical/creative thinking, and geo-politics/geo-economics of cultures and civilisations. Dr. Jora is involved in epistemic communities – i.e., board member of the Romanian Economic Society, the Research Center in International Business and Economics, etc. Recently, he received the Woodrow Wilson Scholarship from the Romanian Cultural Institute for research conducted in Washington, D.C., United States of America. He is (co-)author of numerous scientific works (100+ titles), as well as of journalistic op-eds, essays, pamphlets (1000+ titles), his works being distinguished over time with plentiful and prestigious scholarly and mass-media awards. Also, dr. Jora is editor-in-chief of the Œconomica journal and founder editor of The Market for Ideas pop-science magazine (Curriculum Vitae)
CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 8): Profit to the People!

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 8): Profit to the People!

“Profit to the People!”. But not by taking from (i.e., taxing) Peter in order to give to (i.e., to spend on) Paul (or putting it more bluntly, “robbing Peter to pay Paul”), but by letting Peter being Paul’s partner, employer or employee, supplier or customer and, if there is no other way out, benevolent benefactor in times of hardship. The American economics-&-business way of thinking mirrors the second part of the phrase. Except for the periods when the Democrats take over the power from the Republicans at the White House and/or the Capitol. At the National Museum of American History, there is an 8,000-square-foot space covering the role of business and innovation in building America as we know it today in the last 300 years. Called “American Enterprise”, it hosts, besides exhibits amongst the most prominent practical offshoots of the US-borne ingenuity and inventiveness, some billboards covered with condensed tribulations reflecting the competing narratives grouped under the heading “Debating Enterprise”. This reminded me of an article published two years ago, entitled “«Mens Sana in Sound Corporations»: A Principled Reconciliation between Profitability and Responsibility, with a Focus on Environmental Issues” (authors: Octavian-Dragomir Jora, Matei-Alexandru Apăvăloaei, Vlad I. Roșca, and Mihaela Iacob), where we argued that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the creation and running of for-profit organizations are not two distinct objectives that are at odds with one another, but complementary, even co-generative ones. Briefly put (for the detailed expose see the article here), we found (at least) three lines of defense in the attempt to rediscover (not to “re-invent”!) the common-sense (“wheel”) that moves forward a basic truth: “the generous have to be let to generate (wealth)”.  More


The Frontier of Science Is Expansive and Expensive

The Frontier of Science Is Expansive and Expensive

The CERN physicists announced, around mid-March 2013, that the particle discovered a year before, which they had claimed to be the Higgs boson “with 99% certainty”, had gained another “1% of certainty”. That is it, the verdict is in! The particle which bestows mass on us, the source of our weight, has become a factual given. We have found the Creator among quanta, but we still need to search deeply into our souls to find Him, if we want the mystery of Creation to ever be completely revealed to us. The attempt to re-create the Creation remains a costly business.  More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 7): The Noble (and Nobel-Winning) Losing Fight Against Poverty

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 7): The Noble (and Nobel-Winning) Losing Fight Against Poverty

In the essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism, Oscar Wilde puts forth a mindboggling argument for socialism. The poet thereby finds poor people uncomely, so he’d want someone (or something) to redeem them from the desolation of this “picture”. The Wildean argument for socialism turns explicitly aesthetic in its essence: the artist within him wishes for a social order where the problem of aesthetic deficiency is central(ized). If the “aesthetically challenged” were eradicated and the “aesthetically gifted” were privileged, everything would be great. And there was no shortage of intellectuals who chose the comfort of complicity with the “cultural militia”. Nevertheless, both a priori and a posteriori, socialism, egalitarianism or, in other words, hyper-statism is a triple monstrosity: economically, ethically and, yes, aesthetically too. To wit: the social realism in “art”, the depersonalizing ethics of “the commune” and “the economics of penury” – the three heads of a hideous hydra. More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 6): The Gam(bl)er (Former and Future?) POTUS

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 6): The Gam(bl)er (Former and Future?) POTUS

As a student, I used to sleep at night, as my days were fulfilling and filled with my studies and the like. My nights as a student in the dorm room were (for the most part) buzzing with an “audio-video” ecosystem. I contributed to the “video” aspect with a blindingly bright lamp that glowed with the power of the noon Sun itself, which watched over me as I dozed off to sleep under the sway of a book or gazette. The “audio” side was supported by my nocturnal roommates, masters/slaves (?) of games – video games, to be more precise. The poorly silenced background noise that occasionally startled me in the dead of night was woven of dialogues, spoken ritualistically and rhythmically with the melodic cadence of a talking lathe. Yet, it was not my companions that spoke. It was the “conversation” between the interfaces of the video games and the players viewing them on the screens, its phraseology both mechanistic and minimalistic. Into that blurry state between wakefulness and sleep, between reality and dreams, the environment would pour into my ears either the robotic “communiqués” of the proto-AIs in Age of Empires and Warcraft (strategy rodeos) or the commando-esque “communication” from Counter-Strike and Half-Life (adrenaline simulators), only rarely interrupted by rounds of human speech, except for when multiplayer sessions were in order. More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 5): The Antinomies of the Universe

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 5): The Antinomies of the Universe

Philosophers, scientists, theologians, all appear to live with a somehow implicit and inbuilt mindset that the physical/metaphysical Universe is, despite its obvious oneness, a binary being. More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 4): The Smithsonian Republic of Knowledge

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 4): The Smithsonian Republic of Knowledge

Patronage is living proof that exceptional public goods can be produced, at least in part, privately. And this goes against the emphatical treatises on economics that theorize and preach the contrary. And when the theory seems far too dry for a journalistic incursion, history comes with (un)sweet(ened) evidence. In the summer of 1829, a certain James Smithson had bitten the dust in Italy, the one from whose glorious gens, that of ancient Rome, Gaius Maecenas descended, diplomat and advisor to the emperor Octavian Augustus and documented as, indeed, the first “patron of the arts”. Smithson, a respected British chemist and mineralogist (after whom zinc carbonate was dubbed Smithsonite), an early member of the Royal Society of London (only a year after graduating from college), had left behind him a will with a strange stipulation: should his only grandson die without issue, his fortune would go the way of the United States of America “to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”. Okay, but what’s the catch? Smithson had never set foot in America!  More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 3): The Price of Pricing the Priceless

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 3): The Price of Pricing the Priceless

The intensifying dialogue among social sciences is one of the most insightful contemporary academic advancements. Promising gains stem from interdisciplinarity, by connecting themes and concepts from a variety of fields, engaging them as parts of a Wertfrei system (of scientific nature), as well as a Weltanschauung (of cultural nature), rather than stockpiling merely discrete ingredients. For instance, the bonds between cultural studies and economic sciences – perennial, as they exist “materially” married, yet peripheral, as they seem “spiritually” divorced – may be revisited and reviewed against the intertwined backgrounds of: ideological mindset (e.g., liberalism, statism), technological mastership (e.g., industry “4.0”) and ecological momentum (e.g., climate, recycling). It is in the midst of the cogitations on the future of “humanity” (both the species and its spirit) – given chronic/acute ideological clashes, given technological shifts in leisure habits and in labor markets, also recasting micro-/meso-/macro-/mondo- business structures/relations, and given ecological encumbrances, under- or over-valued – that I’m roaming some of the finest American museums and libraries.  More


Super Bowl and a Soup Bowl

Super Bowl and a Soup Bowl

Football is a community distilled product (“You’ll never walk alone” goes the Liverpool F.C. anthem, adopted, against all odds - in the Beatles city, from a Pink Floyd show tune). Football unevenly blends feelings brewed by a collective order civilization which yet reeks of a wriggling culture of conflict. Association football is, among the rest of the team sports, the paragon that can most successfully neutralize societal disaggregation. Unlike theatrical performance (with which it imparts the technical and tactical demands of the plot, the actors getting into a play of mutual relations in which the spectator is merely a “spy”), the soccer performers are participants in a web of mutually shared strategy game rules where the spectator solely intrudes as a spy. The football show will also stand apart from the gigs, say, a pop-rock concert (akin in that they both trigger deep visceral sensations, still distinct where the former lacks the gut feeling usually associated with inward mystery myths, while the latter is a product explicitly delivered to its fans). This game will always generate peculiar reactions. It re-unites there where entropic drives are marked: the football supporters will allow themselves to be drugged with the cause and the strategy of the game, only when they experience this excitement with the punter on the left, right, in front and behind. The football fan will thrive feeding not only on the peers sitting close in the stand but also on the combined energies of the crowd, shouting against opponents, yet strangely aggregated by the empathy for the other team supporters. Go! Go! Go! Boo! More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 2): “Enlightenment” and “Environment”

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 2): “Enlightenment” and “Environment”

The Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. are, par excellence, propitious places for memory. Universal, and also personal. Walking through the National Museum of American History, I made the acquaintance, in sculptural form, of a certain Mr. Thomas Alva Edison, and was reminded of what I had written about him a decade ago, when the EU was starting up its eco-crusade against its beloved baby, the incandescent lightbulb. I said back then: “Mr. Edison, a lightbulb went on in our good European heads and made us turn off your bloody wasteful invention, once and forever!” Mr. Edison is a grown-up, no doubt, and he knows how to cash in this historical punch. In his time, the brilliant guy is said to have “first” invented the lightbulb only after other gentlemen did the same before, but none had flashed the exquisite ideas to “fill in” a brighter-burning filament, to immerse it in a “more void” vacuum, while having a “more enduring” electrical resistance. Having gorged himself on patents and being the 4th most well-protected “luminary” in the history of technology, he became known for eagle-eyeing others’ ideas, while draping his own in government paperwork, for none could be allowed to think up similar ideas to him and independently of him. He then played God, despite being a free-thinking atheist, and libeled the alternative current of rival George Westinghouse by cunningly associating it with the electric chair, in whose creation Edison had had a hand in. More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 1): Industrial Revolutions

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 1): Industrial Revolutions

Industrial Revolutions (IR) are manifestations of the delightful concept of “creative destruction” (J. Schumpeter). This means destroying the useless as a force of creation for the useful, not vice versa, that is being creative in destroying. Destruction qua creation is about capitalising and making the most of resources, whereas creativity in destruction sooner resembles blunt vandalism (war, for instance, is creative in its nihilistic annihilation). Apparently, an IR is like TV: it isn’t necessary to understand how it works, what matters is to have the remote at the ready. However, some economists and historians continue to fiddle with the explanatory and predictive mechanism of a phenomenon that has already reached its fourth generation. Thus, for IR 1.0 (manufactured by the British), the main contributing factors identified were cheap energy and somewhat improved wages, coupled with metropolitan freedoms and the extortion of colonies, or perhaps the establishment of a general climate of “bourgeois equality” (D. McCloskey), where the ideas of common people could be expressed and experimented with free from the tyranny of statutes. Debates remain vivid here.  More


CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 0): New World Orders

CAPITOL LETTERS (Ep. 0): New World Orders

When we speak of “order” where the international system is concerned (international relations, to be precise), the discussion gives the impression of value-neutrality, in the same vein as the scientific approach to a problem. However, the minute we enclose this word in the syntagma “new world order”, there is a distinct feeling of veering into vain gossip and idle chatter. Thus, there are conspiracies, occult and confined to tenebrous spaces, away from common decency, standing opposite the rigorous, refined academic thinking that inhabits the halls of universities. Such rhetorical pedantry cannot, however, rule out the raw fact that human society, beyond the intensiveness and extensiveness of the (hierarchical and/or anarchical) relations between humans, seeks order (including “novel” and “worldly” ones), and not just any kind of order, but that order in which we are creative, proactive architects instead of passive artefacts. To this end, we employ tangible or symbolic means, be they transparent or opaque, genuine or deceitful. And politicians, who enact this (dis)order as per their (ir)responsibility, are far from being accused of a lack of ambidexterity (as they are naturally born “on the one hand… and on the other hand…” cynical calculators). More


The Earthly Algorithms of the Heavenly Affairs

The Earthly Algorithms of the Heavenly Affairs

The papal institution opens up the road to redemption for more than 1.200 million Roman-Catholics – that is for the so-called “Western Christianity” –, according to Vatican statistics. Through its doctrine of closeness to God, far and away from any canonical schisms, the Holy See inspires all Christianity, pervasively radiating to all hemispheres, over other distinct cults as well. The fact is that to be able to order the immanent chaos while indulging your mind to wander with the transcendent is a tough penance. Even if you have adhered to your faith wholeheartedly, the spiritual stakes were and are under assail by the modern-version-of-Canaan capitalist hedonism (now called insatiable consumerism), by the anti-social socialism (now dead, but still not buried), and by “welfare-warfare” statism (now, as ever, trying to divide and conquer, and command and control). The aforesaid progenitors of the human “fallen existence” have declared foreclosure on the most valuable assets of the life we lead, all except for the “perceivable physical” biases. The pitfalls looming ahead of all our mundane trespasses, entailed by the very nature of the interaction with our own kind, tarnished as that may be, are lurking as far as the eye can see, even what we now call in vernacular the supreme “consultancy” and “governance”: namely, the one covering the “salvation of our souls”. All human beings, with all their burning passions, are, since the beginning of times, fumbling in the dark to find their way to reach Him. And the mission is not easier even for His most faithful servants. As the supreme pontiffs, the Bishops of Rome, are (supposed to be).  More


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