There’s nothing saying people can’t re-start the economy, protect the environment, keep corporate corruption in check, etc. privately (at least to a much larger extent than you’re admitting). People can boycott companies that don’t meet industry standards. Consumers can choose to buy organic and/or free trade certified goods. People can choose to buy green energy. People can invest in whatever makes sense to them – wherever they think they can get the best return and at whatever risk level they feel best.
Sure. And people can love one another and never fight. But they don’t.
In practice, there is something saying people can’t (reliably) do those things. It’s economics. Let me illustrate with a simpler, but similar example. My brother used to sell cars. Like most everyone, my family and I all complained about how “dishonest” car dealers are. For example — no car dealer will give you a legitimate price quote over the phone, they’ll always simply flat out lie and give you a price far lower than you can possibly get. Why? Because if they don’t, you’ll call someone else who will, and they’ll get your business instead. By lowballing, you’re forced to come into the dealership, where you’re far less likely to “shop around”, and they can apply other pressure tactics.
It’s not fair to consumers, and it’s not really fair to the dealers — they don’t like having to be dishonest, nor do they like the reputation they’ve acquired. But there’s no way they can change. An individual dealer who takes it upon themselves to change their behavior can’t survive the loss of business to the ones who don’t change. They’d have to all change simultaneously, and then you’d have to have a way to force the individuals not to “defect” from the new strategy.
Economically, this is a Nash equilibrium. Nobody benefits from changing their policy — even if everybody might benefit if everybody changed. The same is true in today’s bigger economical picture. We’d all be better off if the wealthy invested less of their income and spent it on common goods, but there’s no real incentive for just one of them to do it — their individual loss is greater than their individual benefit.
Well … until the government decides to take their money and do something else with it. (Oh, dude … You didn’t think ethanol fuels, GM, Freddie Mae, etc. were good uses of your tax dollars? Oh, man. Sorry about that.)
When a poor man complains about the actions of the government, he’s asked, “why don’t you just leave, if you don’t like it?” When a rich man complains, the same logic should apply.
The government isn’t a foreign oppressor — no matter how much conservative talking heads like to paint it as such. It’s our elected officials doing what they were elected to do. If we don’t like it, we’ll elect different ones, but they’re still our elected representatives. Most of them seem to be honestly trying to do what they think is right — it’s unfortunate that so many are deluded into seeking bad goals, but then, that, too reflects their constituency. A lot of Americans are just as deluded.
I’d take a sub-optimal economy and maintained individual liberties over a pristine economy and compromised freedoms. (Although I’m not conceding you can’t have the best of both worlds.)
“Sub-optimal” makes it sound like you’re trading just a little efficiency for that “liberty”. That’s a crock. The “sub-optimal” economy we’re talking about here is further worsened from where we are, and staying there for a decade or two.
That might not be so bad if the “liberty” for which we were trading it were anything meaningful, but it’s not. It just trades “oppression” by a government that’s actually seeking to improve things for everybody for real oppression by big businesses that are only looking out for themselves.
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