Saturday, September 19, 2015

Human Inequality vs Political Equality


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Don Watkins! You’re more coherent than most… but you’re not coherent enough.

A good chunk of your story nicely illustrates human diversity. Unfortunately, your solution is political equality (one person one vote).

Your story is basically a non sequitur. Your conclusion (political equality) really doesn’t follow from your premise (human inequality).

You wrote…

If Robinson Crusoe and Friday are on an island, and Crusoe grows seven pumpkins and Friday grows three pumpkins, Crusoe hasn’t grabbed a bigger piece of (pumpkin?) pie.

Imagine if, rather than planting his pumpkin seeds, Friday had roasted and eaten them. Perhaps nobody would consider his behavior to be irrational… but I think most would agree that Friday had made a pretty big mistake. He failed to give up momentary pleasure for future benefit. As a result of his failure, he wouldn’t grow any pumpkins while Crusoe would grow seven pumpkins.

The disparity in income (pumpkins) between Crusoe and Friday would reflect the disparity in their foresight, prudence, resourcefulness, productivity, judgement and so on. For convenience sake we can lump all these character disparities under the label of “rationality”. The disparity in their income would reflect the disparity in their rationality.

In the private sector… because Crusoe would have a lot more income… he would have a lot more influence. But in the public sector… if we’re assuming one person one vote… then Crusoe and Friday would have the same exact amount of influence. Which is very problematic because Crusoe and Friday are not equally rational.

Friday would vote to roast and eat all the pumpkin seeds while Crusoe would vote to save and sow some of the pumpkin seeds. Of course they would need a tie breaker.

The correct solution is for their influence in the public sector to equal their influence in the private sector. Rationality is just as important for public goods as it is for private goods. We really don’t want Don Quixote to have just as much political influence as somebody who correctly perceives that the windmills are really not evil giants.

All the problems you listed… ie minimum wages… are not the result of political inequality… they are actually the result of political equality. It’s only natural for people to vote for whichever politicians promise the best free lunches. The problem is… there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

In order for rational people to have more influence in the public sector than irrational people…. taxpayers should have the freedom to choose where their taxes go (pragmatarianism). People with higher incomes make fewer mistakes and, as a result, have to pay more taxes. The influence that they earn should carry over to the public sector.

As wonderful as Ayn Rand was… she wasn’t economically coherent. All the problems of the world boil down to a shortage of economic coherence.

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