karl-henrik pettersson


Filosofiska tankar om företagande och ekonomi

Vilket samhälle vill vi ha? Hur mycket marknad? Hur mycket politik? Varför dessa ekonomiska orättvisor?

Funderingar kring en intressant text

Nedanstående text är hämtad från Johns Mauldings veckobrev (2 oktober 2010) och skriven av Arthur Kroeber vid GaveKal (läs hela texten här) apropå en fråga om vad som händer i Kina.

As Isaiah Berlin pointed out, societies grapple with the problem that there are lots of good things – justice, wealth, individual liberty, social stability, security, equity – and we cannot maximize all of them at once. Trade-offs among these ultimate values must be made and that is what politics is about. Societies create a set of trade-offs by negotiation (and by the way democratic elections are not in themselves a mechanism for making these trade-offs; they are simply a mechanism for transmitting information to the agents who are negotiating the trade-offs; so it is a fallacy to presume as many do that only via democratic elections can a society achieve a “true” bargain) and the ultimate bargain configures the playing field on which economic actors operate.

Among the societies we describe as democratic capitalist there are vast differences in the bargains and hence in the nature of economic activity. America tolerates levels of instability, crime, inequality and pernicious religious zealotry that Europeans and Japanese consider absurd, but it gets in return a much more dynamic entrepreneurial system of wealth creation. Japanese willingly accept levels of social conformity that Westerners consider bizarre, but achieves a high level of social stability and tremendous success in economic areas (such as high precision manufacturing), where self-disciplined social cohesion is a plus.

China, like all societies, is working out its bargain. It is still very much a work in progress but the process is dynamic, not static.

Det intressanta ligger i det principiella resonemanget, detta att det finns ett stort antal ”goda ting” som ett samhälle strävar efter – rikedom, ekonomisk rättvisa, trygghet, stabilitet, individuell frihet etc. – men att alla inte kan uppnås samtidigt, det krävs en balansgång och hur den mixen skall se ut förhandlas fram i en politisk process.

Min fundering är om det verkligen handlar om ett val (bortsett från det självklara att det vid en viss tidpunkt inte finns resurser för allt, och att man av det skälet måste välja). Är det verkligen en självklarhet att det är dåligt för tillväxten om samhället via det offentliga erbjuder en viss bastrygghet (till exempel ungefär det som John Rawls ”okunnighetens slöja” definierar)? Det kan ju mycket väl betyda att, allt annat lika, tillväxten ökar eftersom större grupper känner sig trygga i tillvaron och konsumerar mer, och kanske arbetar mer. En av de första som påpekade det sambandet var John Kenneth Galbraith. Det som däremot blir en konsekvens är att de som har det ekonomiskt bra måste avstå en del av sin inkomst för att betala för denna trygghet. Inkomstskillnaderna är ganska säkert större i ett land som har låga ambitioner vad gäller den allmänna välfärden. Så man skulle kunna säga att det finns en motsättning, eller en slags ömsesidig påverkan, mellan förändringar i ekonomisk rättvisa och trygghet i samhället å ena sidan och inkomstskillnadernas utveckling å den andra. Med andra ord, ökar rättvisan och tryggheten i ett samhälle är det sannolikt att, allt annat lika, inkomstskillnaderna minskar.

Men, som sagt, det kan ju mycket väl vara bra för tillväxten vilket i så fall gör att på sikt får alla högre reala inkomster i absoluta tal, mer köpkraft i lönekuvertet enkelt uttryckt.

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