Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Motherly Policies

There are way too many politicians, economists, and religious leaders who believe the lives of ordinary people can only be improved through government mandates and forced structural changes to society. These scholars and leaders believe the best course of action for society is a course of action where everyone is forced to support laws, regulations, and rules that level the playing field for everyone. In the past, these busy bodies have mostly concentrated their efforts on their own country, but as the world flattens, they increasingly want to dictate their beliefs onto the citizens of countries which are not their own.

At the core, this desire to level the playing field is a motherly instinct to protect that has corrupted good economic policy and hurt the lives of many people in almost all parts of the world. This desire to mother is a sinful assumption that other people are not capable of making their own decisions about what is best for themselves.

Most people are not better off when they are protected by excessive regulation and laws because the price of protection comes at a high cost in freedom. It is quite simple nowadays to judge the results of a government policy by comparing outcomes to other countries and other societies in similar circumstances. Sadly, many influential leaders, including Christian leaders, refuse to acknowledge the fact that freedom has produced better results and improved many more lives than government regulation.

Brian Wesbury has made some very good points in regards to freedom and economics in his piece Policy and Economic Denial.

Selected Excerpts:

Nonetheless, there were continued signs that the world's intellectuals remain in serious denial about which policies create wealth and higher standards of living.

Mr. Collier's speech, according to Ip, "made a persuasive case that nowhere more than in Africa has geography undermined economic progress." Collier theorizes that small, landlocked and resource-poor countries can't keep up and lag behind. This is not a new theory, but it is still wrong-headed. Freedom, not geography, drives growth and wealth creation. Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic are all landlocked and relatively small, but are clearly not poor. On the other hand, many African nations have vast resources.

Now, South Korea's is twice that of Brazil's. By way of explanation, he noted that the average Korean has 13 years of school, while in Brazil the figure is six years."This idea that Asian economies owe their success to education is also wrong-headed. While education is important for individual success, if you happen to live in a country with high taxes, burdensome regulations, and unstable monetary policy, education and the entrepreneurial spirit are stifled.

But is it really true that, because of geography, African nations have no hope? And is it true that if government educates more people, wealth automatically follows? No. The Wealth of Nation's are not determined by geography or education, but freedom. While there are many who want to reject the teachings of Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Frederich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and others, denial does not negate the truth.

Brian Wesbury is the Chief Economist for First Trust Advisors in Chicago, IL.

6 comments:

Buz said...

David,

I think you are only half right ... "this desire to level the playing field is a motherly instinct to protect" and "this desire to mother is a sinful assumption that other people are not capable of making their own decisions about what is best for themselves".

At the core, this desire to mother others is a desire for power. You will notice that when there is an attempt to "mother" people will reject it unless it is THEIR group that is doing the "mothering".

Why is it that people DEMANDED that Clinton interfere in Bosnia, but condemn Bush for interfering in Iraq. Yes there is a lot of smoking and mirroring going on about "unjust war" and "no WMDs", but at the bottom line is that the people who shout these things believe that Bush is not "their guy". On the flip side, the people who wanted us to stay out of Bosnia and are glad we are in Iraq didn't feel that Clinton was "their guy".

Mothering is "OK" as long as we are the favored child who has mother's ear. As for all those "children" out there who resist needing mothered ... they just need a good spank.

Buz

David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

I would never make the claim that government action and involvement is never needed. I have no doubt the Iraqis did not have the ability to remove Hussein and since it was imperative that he be removed, America needed to do it. There will always be some people who need and should receive help. People with special needs and parents of children with special needs should get help from society through government. We let people with mental illnesses roam the streets while we pay prescription drug benefits to millionaires.

Your point about spanking is true. The elite want to force their will on those of us who don’t want to go along.

Rick and Gary said...

Hi guys,

An unfortunate part of Communism's fall is that there are fewer visible reminders of statism, taken to ts natural conclusions. After North Korea and Cuba fall (with Venezuela masking its poverty in oil money), we'll be in real trouble.

I was against both Bosnia and Iraq. I just don't think it's the U.S. job to get itself involved in this stuff.

But in retrospect, Bosnia does seem to have made a lot more sense than Iraq. A slaughter in Bosnia could have pulled Turkey and western European states into a regional war.

In Iraq, we seem to be creating exactly what we manged to prevent in Bosnia.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

That’s a good point, and it would be a sad good point if the situation in Iraq never moves beyond the present religious/tribal conflict. I believe, with some hesitation, that this is an interim point that will improve. However, I don’t ever see a point in the future where there won’t be some war and some death. Human nature is what it is and history does repeat. I am for America having the best prepared military in the world, but only using it on rare occasions.

Buz said...

Rick,

While Bosnia looked like it could have spread to Eastern Europe and Turkey, if Hussein had really possed WMDs (and at this point, we still don't absolutely know that he did not ... we just have not been able to put them on the dinner table) that COULD have been an even larger issue.

As to us creating in Iraq what we prevented in Bosnia, that still remains to be seen. While we see a lot of images of fighting on the news, it remains to be seen if that is 20% of the population or 0.2% of the population.

If 20 members of the KKK had run a hit and run campaign in Michigan during the 1980s, the former government of South Africa could have used similar reporting techniques to make it seem like there was a massive anti-integration movement in the U.S., while the truth would have been that it was just a few disgruntled nuts.

If you remember the confessions of CNN from before the Iraq war, they admitted that they were selective in their reports. One can only wonder if they still filter the news from that area to fit a different agenda.

David,

I don't deny that there are people who DO need help beyond what they or their families can provide for themselves, that is not really the bottom line issue from a governmental point of view. The fact that it has to be "the right help from the right people" gets back to my point that it is a subtle grab for power.

Buz

(Trust everyone but get a receipt.)

David M. Smith said...

Hi Buz,

I agree.