Last week during the SWEET meeting we were discussing the future of Economics at UAF. At some point during the discussion the role of ethics in economic decision making was mentioned which started a somewhat explosive tangent. This week, I would like to expand on the role of ethics in economic decision making and how sometimes ideology can lead policymakers astray.
I think we all know that economics is not just a discipline used to boost the bottom line of businesses and corporations. Some in the SWEET discussion group who will go unnamed here (you know who you are) would argue that ethics is subjective and therefore should consulted based on the whim of the people making decisions. This of course means that key policy makers could just decide to completely disregard or at the very least reduce the ethical concerns and legitimate consequences of externalities to mere tertiary consideration. I would like to offer the position that this ideology of what I call ‘Free Market Fundamentalism’ is very dangerous for politicians and other government officials to have because it means that the government is corrupted to favor the interests of corporations and other big businesses over the people they are elected to represent.
Here are a few articles that look at the ethics of past and present economic decisions rather than just the bottom line:
Based off of that reading, consider the following questions:1. What role does ethics play in economics and governance if any?
2. What is the role of government in terms of regulation and how does that relate to ethics?
3. If we lived in an Anarchic society with no government, what kind of recourse could people expect? Would it really be as efficient or more efficient than our current legal system?
4. To continue from question 3, what would recourse in this hypothetical society be predicated on? Wealth? Survival of the fittest (most heavily armed)?
5. Is there any meaningful way to reform the government? Or are the incentives for corruption too strong to overcome for public officials?