Thursday, October 7, 2010

We Are Not Free: The System

One of my arguments against government is the system within it works.  It operates in a monopoly of force and hence enables people do that which they might otherwise not do.

When people become cogs in a wheel they tend to do things they otherwise wouldn't, like not use force on others to get them to do something that doesn't even have any consequence.  Or hurt someone because they are in a position of power.

A great example of this is a recent fire fighting incident where the firemen refused to put out a fire because the person didn't pay the annual fee (the firefighters were city employees and the house was on county land, so if the person would have liked the service they could have paid the city $75/year).  People blamed this incident on the free market.  But they don't understand that this incident had nothing to do with the free market.  The firefighters were city employees taking instruction from bureaucrats with no customer satisfaction incentive for them to put the fire out.  Instead of acting with compassion or offering to put the fire out for a certain amount of money or having the customer pay full price they just let the house burn down.  This is not an example against the free market but against government and bureaucracy.  Just as we see this incident we will see similar incidents in the new universal health care as more and more people just follow orders and have no incentive (as found in the free market) to go above and beyond their station in life.

 Power Corrupts
 It's useful to keep this in mind because, while the overwhelming lesson of the last half century of social psychology is that situational influences can easily swamp the effect of individual differences in character, our political rhetoric takes scant account of this. Political campaigns focus heavily on questions of “character”—which especially in the case of “outsider” campaigns should be of limited predictive value. Republican candidates and officials try to portray Democrats as arrogant and out of touch, while Democrats cast Republicans as callous and greedy. In each case, the message is that these are bad people, and their character flaws are somehow related to their specific ideologies. The remedy is, invariably, to replace them in positions of power with better people from the other team. These social science results suggest that this is unlikely to work: The problem is power itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment