Thursday, October 25, 2007

Contrasting Left, Right and All in Between

My online persona goes 'bravely" where my day job/real world self would not venture. The Online world seems to have no issue with pointing out the error of ones ways which provides a fairly quick and efficient way to learn or at the very least allows one to externally formulate one's thoughts. Marginal Revolution had a post titled Why the Left should learn to love liberalism. Liberalism similar to paradigm is a word whose definition seems dependent upon who is using it. My philosophical horizons continue to expand with new views. In addition to the ones put forth in the article, a recent Freakonomics post lead me to Liz Seymour - It Started with A Question. I may not agree with her answer but the sentiment of inquiry is a motivating factor behind this endeavor.

My comments on the Marginal Revolution article are below. Again it is an exercise in trying to better understand economics and incorporate that understanding into my belief system.

The discussion seems painted with very broad brush strokes from any particular side each with claimed benefits that I strongly suspect would last about a week and we would be right back at the debate. The range of thought within the discussion though is rather impressive. The concept of Free Market Anti-Capitalism is a new one to my fledgling economic education. Though I have to agree with the observation about Professor Cowen's overstatement. Obviously there are more than just two sides to this debate.

The most recent post packages the issues neatly for consideration. It is easy to agree that "actions have consequences and that only fools and crazy people build economic systems that ignore them.", but that advice applies to both sides of the ideological fence. It is also easy to agree that wealth redistribution is always more creative and prosperous than wealth concentration, because concentration promotes complacency and laziness, while distribution creates opportunity. Historical, from my perspective and here all sides can argue, an extremism of either right or left has resulted in a concentration of wealth or at the very least done a lousy job of redistribution in a sustainable fashion. Most appealing is arguing from empirical experience, because reality isn't interested in who's a liberal and who isn't, but only in consequences and experiences. This still leaves plenty of opportunity for philosophical pondering about moral sentiments and wealth creation. I still lean towards what has been described as classical liberalism but my recent self-questioning raises self-doubts about my premises.

One question that has been on my mind. China is often brought up in these discussions and there are many issues that justify concern and opposition to China's current polices - Darfur and Burma readily come to mind in addition to those cited. Despite that the question still arises as to the best means of having China take a primary role in the world economy. In particular comparing it to the path that Russia has taken and the effects its policies have had on its people and where its stands today in the world. Would anybody want a Chinese "Putin"?

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