Monday, November 7, 2011

I can't wait till all the jobz haz outsourceD

Imagine a future where all the jobs currently done in our country are outsourced. It's impossible to think of what jobs our citizens would perform if we outsourced even advanced positions such as lawyers and doctors. Countries move from subsistence to manufacturing to service. Whats after service? More service? What would the world look like if we really had better things to do than produce our own doctors and lawyers? We would be producing some pretty crazy s***.

People's always be moanin bout the outsourze. But I say live and let die. Protectionary strategies only hurt us in the long run by postponing new innovations. Some may lose their jobs but those jobs will eventually be replaced by new opportunities in the market. Each new opportunity leads us further and further away from subsistence living.

This does present a problem for some people in the "short" term. I put short in quotes because who can say what a short time period is for society. How much initial unemployment, that occurs when markets shift and new industries arise, is worth the long term efficiency? Perhaps the government should help the unemployed gain new skills. I like to think, however, that if new skills are demanded, training will be supplied and workers will be supplied, if the price is right. But how can we know? We can't perform a test. As I learn more and more about economics I move away from government intervention, socialism, social safety nets etc. I see how the market allocates resources more efficiently than it can be engineered. When I see instances where people loose out I accept it using the rationalization that government or any other form of planning wouldn't produce any better outcome in the long run. But in the long run we're all dead, so that argument only goes so far (no pun intended). Essentially I've become a proponent of laissez faire, yet history shows that politicians on a platform of laissez faire produce policies that are consistently not laissez faire. The poor are left alone while those with enough clout to lobby get funding, or special favors. I cringe at my next statement, but that's not fair. To put it in more economic friendly words, if you are protecting "the rich" but not "the poor" you are distorting the market just as much as if you were providing everyone with free health care and a sandwich.

Most economists who have any grasp on reality realize the impossibility of a pure free market. Perhaps we should also dismiss laissez faire politics for the same reason. Those with money have power. Those with power distort the market through coercion. In America this is done by "buying" a little bit of the coercive force that the government has monopoly on through lobbyists and special interests. Therefore the market will never be "left alone," those with established market power, whether it be from money or otherwise, will always have the hand of those with political power in their pockets. Not because politicians are crooked (which they are), but because they are rational (which they aren't, jk) and are doing what's in their self interest.

So when we argue against government policies that provide funding to the poor it may be a good thing to keep in mind that the rich aren't on their own either. The market is already distorted. Some intervention may be needed to help move toward a level playing field.

This is essentially the point Howard Zinn makes in his book Declaration of Independence. He says we should do this because its "fair" (a dirty word). I say we should do this because it helps bring closer to level an ever changing and ever skewed playing field. Because we trade off economic growth (whatever that is) when we regulate or intervene on someone's behalf, the decision is always murky. Who knows which policy is better in "the long run?"

No comments:

Post a Comment