Friday, September 18, 2015


FWIW, although I disagree on specific policy positions based on my own analysis, my political sentiment is broadly the same as that found in the Green Left Weekly that my cousin helped found.  More specifically, I am what I call a democratic, market socialist.  

Democratic because it is the only political system compatible the moral principle that you should always only act as though people were ends in themselves, and never merely means to an end, which I consider fundamental to ethics.   On that basis I consider the US very imperfectly democratic, primarily due to the undue influence from campaign funding, but also due to some peculiarities of the constitution.  On the same basis I would strongly support reforming the General Assembly so that each nation had a number of its seats proportional to the population to which it gives the vote (such that, for example, if they deny votes to women, they halve their number of seats), and were the representatives are directly elected, along with other democratizing reforms for the Security Council.

Socialist because I believe radical title to all property rests with the people, and more formally with the government acting on the peoples behalf; and that the rights accruing from that radical title (including the right to regulate and tax) should be excercised on behalf of the people generally rather than on behalf of special interest groups.

Market because I accept that to the most part, a free market is the most efficient distributor of goods where 'free market' is implicitly defined by the fundamental argument to that effect, and therefore requires:
  1. No coercion, including no coercion resulting from the pressure to make trade on disadvantaged terms due to declining economic circumstances;
  2. Perfect knowledge of the outcomes;
  3. Perfect competition, in the sense that anybody making a trade has at the time of the trade an infinite number of alternate trades with marginally different properties in respect to all aspects of the trade; and
  4. No negative externalities.
The argument presented by capitalists that markets are the most efficient form of distribution of goods (where efficiency is defined as Pareto Optimality) assumes these conditions, and therefore they are the implicit requirements that a market be 'free' as assumed in their arguments.  It is blindingly obvious that unregulated markets are not always, indeed are not typically free in this sense.  IMO, the principle economic role of governments is to regulate with a light touch to ensure that markets are as 'free' as possible (using my special definition of 'free').  Further, it is evident that 'pareto optimality' is not the same as a maximum utility outcome, and hence not the desired policy outcome for any government working 'for the people'.  Specifically, income disparities decrease the utility function of a market outcome; so governments should also work to decrease income disparities, and to increase individual control of economic activity.

On top of all the above, I am a conservative in the original sense that I believe that change should be implemented gradually, except where it must be made with the utmost urgency.  That is because the more rapid the change, the more harmful side effects, and also the greater probability the outcome will not be the intended outcome.

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