Alright, new thread created!DanielLC wrote:Should we make a new thread? This is turning into an interesting discussion that's unrelated to the original post.
I guess I have a somewhat more positive view of government's effectiveness. While it is true that government has had occasional failures, I think that there are also many examples where a good government has been able to do things quite effectively. For instance: the mobilization of forces by the Allied countries during World War II, the Apollo Program, and the combined efforts of the WHO and various governments in the successful eradication of Smallpox.DanielLC wrote:I don't believe either option is intrinsically better, but I believe that the private option is usually better.
More precisely, I think that the government is uniformly bad at everything, whereas the market is good at most things, but extremely bad at others.
The difference between better cars and better houses, and health care and education is that the latter contribute much more to equality of opportunity. Better cars and better houses are luxuries, whereas health care and education fulfill basic needs that enable people to have the same opportunities for success. To have a true meritocracy, a society needs to have a level playing field.DanielLC wrote:Why do you say that?but there are some things that are morally more just when implemented by the government, such as health care and education.
I get the impression that people consider it unjust for the rich to get better healthcare than the poor. It's certainly unfair. But it's also unfair that the rich get better cars and better houses. If we made everything fair, then they wouldn't be rich. We have decided that it is a good idea to let more productive people get better stuff in order to incentivise people to be more productive. I don't see why it would be different with health care and education.
Education is particularly problematic, since the government has a tendency to give the same education to everyone, even though different people need different education. There are even jobs that require virtually no education, but they still require a high school diploma, just because the only reason you wouldn't have one in this cultural climate is that you're lazy, and they do require that you're not lazy.
Think of it this way. If the education system were completely private, various private schools would open that would cater to different classes of wealth. Rich people would pay more to go to better schools and poor people would be forced to go to schools of lesser quality. This would lead to an entrenchment of class structures where the upper class would have better opportunities than the lower class. Conversely, in a public system, the rich and poor both go to schools that are of equal quality. Because of this, the rich and poor kids have the same opportunities for achievement and students can succeed based on their actual merit, rather than because of their family's relative wealth.
Similarly, if the rich can afford the best health care, and the poor can only afford lesser quality care, it further entrenches the differences between the two classes. Health is generally not something that you have a choice over. If you get cancer, you need to have the treatment. You can't really decide to reasonably forgo treatment of a broken arm. These things are matters of luck rather than personal effort, and they heavily influence one's ability to be productive.
In a democracy, the primary difference between government and individuals is that government is responsible to the electorate. If the government does something stupid, we can punish them by voting them out of office. Government then is generally no stupider than the will of the majority. If you think the majority of people are stupid, this may not give you much solace, but if you believe in the Wisdom of Crowds phenomenon, then it's arguable that on average, responsible democratic government will be smarter than the average individual. I like to take the example of "Ask The Audience" from the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" game show. Historically, polling the audience has resulted in the correct answer about 90% of the time.DanielLC wrote:True, but I think it should be pointed out that the people writing the laws are not above bias. For example, everything I've seen said that that there's little to no correlation between how illegal a drug is and how dangerous it is. It's not a question of having the government decide or let the individuals be idiots. It's a question of letting the government be idiots or letting the individuals be idiots. I'm against letting the government decide unless you can give me good evidence that they're less idiotic.
I would also argue that politicians are actually disproportionately more intelligent than the average citizen, as they tend to come from an elite who are able to run good campaigns and win elections. It should not be that surprising that a disproportionate number of politicians are lawyers. Law school in general requires higher than average intelligence to get in. Also, the experts that politicians consult for things like commission and policy platforms tend to be academics or advisers of above average intelligence. Admittedly, politicians tend to choose policies that will get them elected, rather than necessarily the morally correct policies, but all things considered, I don't think the government does as bad a job as cynics like to think.
To me, multi-party democracy is actually somewhat like a market system for politics. The parties are like firms in the market, and votes are like dollars that voters spend on the parties as they compete for votes. The main difference from the real market of course, is that every citizen has only one vote, and the winning firm of the competition gets a temporary monopoly on power (though parties can get a certain share of the market in the sense that they win a certain number of seats in Parliament). Thus, in the same way that the market benefits consumers by rewarding firms that provide utility, democracy benefits voters by rewarding parties that provide (or promise) utility.