Whimsley explores the poles of political thinking on economic issues.
Imagine a society where everyone gets the same income. Then the income of one quarter of the population suddenly increases by a factor of five while the income of the other three quarters stays the same. How would we compare the society before and after this jolt of riches? Here are some common reactions:
* The average income has doubled. The new world is better than the old.
* Most people in the society have seen no change. The new world is not really different from the old world.
* There is increased inequality. The new world will be marked by unequal access to power and by failing democratic institutions. The new world is worse than the old.
* … and on and on. You know the drill.
He quotes two Op-eds that take opposite views and concludes but they are both correct because they are addressing different aspects of the same idea – that regulation and the market are different ways to ration access to goods.
Some scarce, essential goods (health care, education, defense, crime- and fire-fighting) are provided most efficiently by governments; others (cellphones, clothing, cars) are provided most efficiently by the market.
The trick is knowing which is which.