Thursday, 3 February 2011

Email Out

Further responses to the student at Cheng Kung University at whose instigation I have already written two pieces on the economist Ha Joon Chang with a third in the works (though I'm starting to drag my feet on it a bit). What follows is me in regular type, him in italics:
"The state is not trying to control individual actions."
Yes it is - to state otherwise is exactly... false. Is not the act of taxation itself a prime example of the State "controlling individual action"? What of prohibitions? Are they not instances of the State "controlling" my individual action by removing certain market choices from my grasp? What of immigration regulations? Are they not instances of the State forcing me and my employer to comply with their demands?
"Taxes are used to create a better society..."
Says who? "Better" according to whose standards? On whose authority?

(Be careful: that's the collectivist premise animating you there, which does not sit well with your earlier response to me that it is not ethically acceptable for the State to rob from some to give to others - but which is the very thing required for creating this "better society")
"The main problem with free-market theory is this--those who adhere to this philosophy envision some kind of clean slate, as if some type of society can be formed from nothing..."
Not at all - that's simply how you struggle to envision how a free-market supporter must think, which just goes to show that you haven't been paying sufficient attention to the ideas and arguments of free-market people. Now you have paid some attention to me - yet when and where have I ever envisioned to you "some kind of clean slate"? If you read my blog, in fact, you'll find quite the opposite; I am quite insistent upon starting from where we are right now.
"Human societies are one of the most complex things on earth."
Which is why Thomas Sowell is right to stress the importance of the distribution of consequential knowledge as against the possibility of effective State planning (whether big or small).
"In a mixed economy, more people are able to get educated, more people have access to health care, and people (capitalist types) can still create and earn."
What - than in a true free market economy? Those are mere assertions, not arguments, and unless you can argue for them - give reasons and evidence as to why they must be true - then they can be instantly dismissed. You'll notice that I give arguments, or at least, reasons to support my assertions.

To help you out there - just one of the problems with that set of assertions you give there is the underlying conflation of inequality of income distribution with poverty; with the former usually thought to be the cause of the latter, yet the two are not the same. This conflation of the two occurs as an instance of the pernicious "fixed sum of wealth fallacy", which you could educate yourself about if you chose to.

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