Ask the grumpies: Better political and economic systems?

Solitary Diner asks:

Working in an inner-city clinic, I think a lot about the political and economic systems that contribute to the poverty and marginalization of my patients. What do you think can/should be done to make the world’s systems more fair to everyone?

Yeah, these aren’t hard questions at all.

Most economists favor socialism-lite.  We think government should intervene in cases of market-failure when the benefits of intervention outweigh the costs of intervention.  In practice that usually means something like what Europe has (not entirely though), with a lot of focus on making sure that the social safety net is high for everyone and even more focus on early childhood equality.

Of course, the rational-actor model is blind to structural inequalities stemming from racism, and many of our models seem to think that sexism is a feature, not a bug (they start out with the assumption that women are differently-abled and that’s why they get paid less… even in jobs for which they have comparative advantage).  I don’t know how to get rid of -isms.  I can tell you that Marxism doesn’t do it.  Nor monarchy.  I presume a benevolent dictatorship would even have difficulty, though maybe it would have a shot depending on how long the dictator can stay in power and how good they are at forcing behavior.  If we could somehow manage to get rid of segregation, that might also help since so many of our policies use geography as a way to discriminate.  Though perhaps changing those policies to be less local could help.  There’s no reason, for example, for local property taxes to fund schools.  Of course, we would no doubt still see inequalities from “voluntary” requested donations.  Paradise requested a $500 donation from every parent at the beginning of the year, and got it from many– less wealthy areas are not able to do that.

So… what should be done?  More socialism with a focus on the children.  What can be done?  Beats me.  :(  If I knew the answer to that, I’d tell it to one of the economists who hangs out with Bill Gates and they’d get to work!

 

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7 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Better political and economic systems?”

  1. omdg Says:

    Benevolent dictatorship FTW!! (Too bad these tend to degenerate into authoritarian dictatorships… but still.)

  2. chacha1 Says:

    Yeah, not hard questions at all!! Wowzer.

    If I had the power (including money) to make one worldwide change that I think has potential to correct many, if not all, of the systemic inequalities in pretty much all societies, it would be: provide each adult woman with ALL the resources she needs to plan, house, feed, clothe, and educate her family; start, operate, and reach markets with a business; get any and all healthcare she and her children need; and communicate with the world through renewably-powered Internet.

    I wrap that all up as “one change” because I don’t believe there is a single society on earth that focuses on the well-being and economic potential of women. And therefore changing that focus is a single big-ass change.

  3. Debbie M Says:

    I like democracy and a market system with regulations and safety nets.

    I also really like education. And some of it needs to be on how not to fall for rhetoric based on lies, because apparently democracy alone isn’t enough to fight corruption. People keep voting them back in anyway.

    And some of it needs to be cultural education. I was reading that when Norway found oil, they used it to improve the lives of everyone. But now that young people have had it good all their lives, their sliding into the idea that they worked for it and deserved it. Living conditions there used to be pretty bad, and when people remembered that, they were all for the socialistic changes. Similarly, ex-wait-staff and other low-income people tend to pay higher tips than rich people do (measured in percentages). And I don’t know how to teach people to be sympathetic without making them go through horrible times themselves. But that’s what I want–sympathy education.

  4. Linda Says:

    There seems to be a fundamental weakness in humans around our desire for power and control. Greed and resource hoarding, racism, and sexism all have power and control as a commonality. It’s a tough nut to crack, that’s for sure.


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