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A question for those who tend left on economics

Posted by Chance on August 14, 2006

At the end of my previous post, I stated

Finally, as a compromise, I believe we can have a free market and still have a basic welfare system. If someone cannot afford a loaf of bread, I think it is better to have a welfare system that provides the money for the loaf of bread, rather than regulate the price of bread.

What do you think? The free market is a place of mutual transactions. I imagine the biggest argument against the free market is in the case where someone does not have money for their daily sustenance. What if they cannot afford a piece of bread? Some may say that for that very reason, the free market should be regulated, so that people’s lives are not at the mercy of the free market.

However, how do you determine when to regulate the market, and when to just have additional benefits concerning welfare? For the above quote, do you think it is preferable for government to provide the money for the bread, or to direct the market so that bread is not so expensive? If an adequate welfare system is in place, why is there a need to regulate the market (concerning prices and wages)?

I’m not trying to imply an answer within my questions, I was just curious.

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5 Responses to “A question for those who tend left on economics”

  1. The Prophet said

    I believe that it’s God’s will that the church more than the government provide for the poor.

    Jesus talks a bit about the poor, but never once does He mention the government being responsible to provide for them.

  2. Chance said

    Good point Josh.

    I do believe that voluntary giving is more effective. Now, I suppose the question is, should all or most giving be voluntary. Or do we need a type of safety net for the poor?

    It may seem like a weird question I am asking (in the original post). I basically see two things coming from teh economic left. More welfare/redistribution, and/or more controls on the market. I was just curious if one is preferred over the other from the left’s point of view. The reason why, is, if I had to compromise, I would take a society that has a free market but a little too much welfare, as opposed to a society with a constrained market, but no welfare.

    However, I am assuming that welfare is less damaging than a socialist market. I could be wrong.

  3. Dan Trabue said

    Keep in mind that we’re a gov’t of the people and if the people, for reasons of faith or compassion or self-interest, think it wise to tax ourselves for the benefit of the poor, that IS voluntary.

    I’m still thinking about your central questions, Chance.

  4. Michael Westmoreland-White said

    You’ve got really good questions. Better than I can answer in a comment section. I do want to return to economics on my blog when I get the chance (no pun intended).

    I think the answer to your question about can we have a free market depends on your definition. Should prostitution be legal? Should recreational drug sales be legal? If one answers “no” to either of these, then we already agree that the market must be regulated. After that the questions are about how much and what kind of regulation–important questions, but not to be hidden behind smokescreens of “free markets.”

  5. Chance said

    “I think the answer to your question about can we have a free market depends on your definition. Should prostitution be legal? Should recreational drug sales be legal? If one answers “no” to either of these, then we already agree that the market must be regulated. After that the questions are about how much and what kind of regulation–important questions, but not to be hidden behind smokescreens of “free markets.” “

    Good point. The market often bumps up against other spheres of life. So the question is, are regulations economic, or are they moral? I would say that outlawing prostitution and drugs are a moral regulation, but sometimes it is not so clear. What I am chiefly concerned about are issues contained in the realm of economics, such as price/wages and regulations controlling who can sell or what they can sell.

    For instance, telling a cable company they cannot sell explicit channels is more of a moral law. Telling the cable company that they must sell channels separately, instead of bundling them, or controlling cable prices, would be economic laws.

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