Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Moral Landscape of a Mixed economy

Here is a highlight from an earlier conversation…

“Drilling levels are already down to 35% utilization. It’s not going to be good if Ed tries to tax energy companies an extra 20%. They’ll just leave. Big companies are mobile. It’s just a bunch of engineers in a building. How are extra royalties going to pay my mortgage?”

“Well it’s not bad for all people. My sister’s a teacher and they are due to renegotiate their contracts this January, and me thinks when the government is rich the teachers will get their just deserts.”

This is the moral landscape of a mixed economy. The gains experienced by one group of people can only be accommodated by the losses of another individual or group. Where in a free country income levels are raised by a general increase in productivity the opposite is true in a mixed economy. In a mixed economy the only way to get more wealth is to convince the government to loot more from another group. This type of morality tends to divide citizenry rather than uniting it—a morality grounded in the virtues of suspicion and resentment. When teachers or nurses (both are respected essential societal roles) strike or demand more money we are treated to the two opposing view points on the matter. The first says teachers should be paid more and the second says they shouldn’t. Simple enough, but the question arises—why does the second group even exist? In the private sector, there is little resent when there are raises in income levels. Usually the synopsis is—good for them or lucky bastard. There isn't any resentment, because Joe’s raise has no impact on Ted’s ability to get a raise. One person’s gains are the result of his own effort and not the result of someone else’s losses. This is a moral society.

In a just society there shouldn’t be any resentment between groups, when each are contributing to society. In an unjust society where gains are the result of losses, gains are always met with suspicion. It is in this context that we should recognize the negative aspects of government control and strive for a freer country.


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