Sunday, May 3, 2009

Economic Fallacies

This is a small detour from the current thread of consequentialism and ethics in general. Below is an intelligent conversation  between Will Wilkinson and Joseph Heath. Will's site is quite brilliant and I reccomend you visit it from time to time. Will, of course, does speak in an American context, but he says lots of interesting things. His liberaltarian effort (A sort of fusion between modern american liberalism and libertarianism) basically aims to put together a sensible version of classical liberalism: Free markets as well as concern for the weakest among us. In terms of policy prescriptions, Singapore just requires a few steps to get there.

1. On the Gay issue, go the whole way. Repeal Section 377A, allow gay marriage as well as allow gay couples to adopt. This unfortunately is a source of shame in Singapore. Other modern industrial countries are debating about whether to legalise gay marriage or already have done so, but we are still arguing about whether to legalise gay sex. 

2. There are other not so obvious changes. Some relaxation of government control of certain things may be good too. For example, taxi fairs etc. I'm not sure whether it counts as a public good or not. I'm also not sure how well the public goods justification of the state works from a deontological standpoint.

3. Notice I've said nothing about National Service. Unlike most of the Singaporean bloggers out there, I actually think that we can make a good deontological case for NS. If that is the case, I can make a good case for some welfare provisions too.

4. Singapore has also a good distance to go on issues of freedom of speech etc. OB Markers being the elephant in the room. OB markers kind of make sense if they are measures to incentivise responsible speech. However, they are just tools that the government can use to prosecute us if we criticise the government on certain controversial issues. Singapore society is not so fragile as to require a complete moratoriam on thediscussion of certain topics like Gays and Religion by the public.

5. There are other private organisations which government can also butt out of. It is not seemly that there is a government presence in certain seemingly private organisations.

6. Relax immigration restrictions. Liberalise immigration rules as well as wrok permits. The only people who should be kept out are known criminals and terrorists and maybe given the times, people who are extremely likely to be either of the above.

Now, lets return to the main programming of the day. Will often does these diavlogs on called Free Will. This particular conversation was actually recorded on April 4th but was posted April 30th. The conversation covers a number of things about economics an other stuff and is very informative. We ought to be having more of these kinds of conversations in the blogosphere. Conversations that go beyond the level of GP essays and Chee Soon Juan screeds. Anyway, on with the show

Reply if you've got anything in response to the above.

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