It’s impossible to say, nowadays, if what one reads on the subject of the economy is being said seriously or in jest. See, for instance, “The Golden Laws of Prosperity” from Ian Welsh’s blog. Judging by the comments, I’m not the only one who thought the post was a parody. For now, however, the author seems to maintain he was in earnest when writing the post.
I will give you a few of Welsh’s prosperity rules, and you can go see the rest at the original post.
Implement policy which is as good for as many people as possible.
I thought if history had taught us anything whatsoever it was that the scariest political leaders were the ones who were trying to be benefactors of the majority. Seriously, how can anybody figure out what’s “as good for as many people as possible” without relying exclusively on one’s own personal ideology? Isn’t it time to remove the categories of “good” and “evil” from our economic and political vocabulary already?
Keep the rich poor.
Of course, after this suggestion, one immediately thinks that the entire list is a tribute to Ayn Rand.
Do not allow elites to opt out of the experience of ordinary citizens.
And how is that going to be enforced in practice, I wonder? A representative of the elite would be forced to wear jeans to a burger-grilling beer-drinking Springer-watching party and prohibited from putting on a dress and watching an opera while drinking champagne and eating caviar? Was this going to be done through police involvement? I can just imagine police officers shaking folks out of suits and tuxedos and stuffing them into jeans. Of course, I’m exaggerating. However, the point is that when you start regulating “experiences”, scary things begin to happen.
Do not reward people for winning lotteries (economic competitions someone was going to win, like Facebook winning the social site competition)
This, of course means clamping down on absolutely any new area of development or research. Imagine the people who’ll find a cure for cancer. Those folks will win the lottery like nobody has ever before. Ergo, let’s make sure looking for the cancer cure is completely unprofitable. Who cares about a valuable service to humanity? As long as we can prevent somebody from getting rich, our central goal will be served.
Do not allow anyone to take future profits in the present.
This can easily be translated as kill the economy outright. Gosh, even the USSR didn’t go this far in regulating its companies.
Restrict capital flows significantly.
This, however, is what the Soviet Union was great at doing. Does anybody want me to narrate the results once again?
Treat credit as a utility and regulate all credit grantors as utilities.
Credit rates should be based on utility of the end use of credit.
The problem with this approach is that only a completely insane person will want to be a creditor under these conditions.
Make sure your population eats healthily, there is no such thing as cheap food, cheap food is paid for by death, disease and health care costs.
As most of my readers know, I’m very worried about the low quality of food in the US and have suffered serious health consequences because of that low quality. However, ensuring that the population eats healthily is an obvious infringement on individual rights. If the suggestion was to offer an opportunity to the population to eat healthily, I wouldn’t have a problem with this advice. Making people eat healthy in order to make them live longer sounds like a first step down the very slippery slope of treating human bodies as the property of the government.
Do not allow city folks mores to run the country, nor country mores to run the cities.
The moment we get the government regulating the mores, we arrive at totalitarianism. Maybe people can sort out their mores and ways of being without a prescriptive authority.
Do not allow unproductive suburbs which do not allow light businesses or have covenants.
As we can see, this philosophy is all for giving the rights to allow or not allow to one large body and taking them away from smaller local bodies. Another slippery slope. Besides, “do not allow those who do not allow” sounds a tad hypocritical.
Use competition between the private and public sectors.
Is there still one person under the sun who doesn’t know who will win this competition? (If it’s allowed to be run as a real competition, not a rigged foregone conclusion, of course.)
Do great things, not because of the return, but because they are great.
If only there was any hope of a group of people reaching a consensus as to what constitutes “great things.”
Seek the health and happiness of your citizenry, not maximum income.
Honestly, nothing terrifies me more than a government, an entity or a private individual that seeks my health and happiness. The best system in the world is the one that allows me to seek my own good or ill health and happiness or misery as I see and want them. God save us all from well-meaning benefactors, for they are the scariest people out there. Everybody’s understanding of happiness is so different that anybody who tries to impose their own vision of it always ends up digging mass graves for the millions who are not content with the state-mandated version of bliss.
I have to tell you, people, the liberal approach to the economy isn’t really doing anything for me lately. It’s all based on such do-gooder prescriptions that are supposed to make one feel self-righteous when one pronounces them but that have very little practical value.
The journalist who came up with the list is Canadian. In one of my future posts, I will tell you why I have massive issues with the Canadian approach to the economy.