Positive feedback

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When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based. ~ Thomas Piketty

Positive feedback is a process that occurs in a feedback loop in which the effects of a small disturbance on a system include an increase in the magnitude of the perturbation. That is, A produces more of B which in turn produces more of A. In contrast, a system in which the results of a change act to reduce or counteract it has negative feedback.

Quotes[edit]

  • Men who offer laudatory speeches to the rich ... are insidious because, although mere abundance is by itself quite enough to puff up the souls of its possessors, and to corrupt them, and to turn them aside from the way by which salvation can be reached, these men bring fresh delusion to the minds of the rich by exciting them with the pleasures that come from their immoderate praises, and by rendering them contemptuous of absolutely everything in the world except the wealth which is the cause of their being admired. In the words of the proverb, they carry fire to fire, when they shower pride upon pride, and heap on wealth, heavy by its own nature, the heavier burden of arrogance.
  • Something rather frightening takes place, namely a self-fulfilling fame that's come up only in the past decade or so, that does not need to base itself in adaptive skill, or any skill for that matter. All it needs is the fuel of more celebrity, and thus more prestige, and thus more celebrity, and so on ad infinitum.
  • Spirit and sentiment are formed by conversation. Spirit and sentiment are ruined by conversation. … It is, then, all-important to know how to choose our society in order to form rather than ruin them; and one cannot make this choice unless one has already formed them and not ruined them. Thus a circle is formed, and those are fortunate who escape it.
  • When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the twenty-first, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.
  • They would need to be already wise, in order to love wisdom.

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External links[edit]

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