Would You Like Freedom Fries With That? By Roderick on August 13, 2010 7 See Sheldon Richman on the phony contrast between American free enterprise and European socialism. Conflation Debate, Left and Right, Left-Libertarian
I wonder if Sheldon doesn’t overdo the indifference here. Although all governments are oppressive, it doesn’t follow that one regime is just as good as another. For example, the point sounded true that about half the American workforce would be better off in Europe (i.e. the ones who haven’t seen real wages rise). I’m not saying you should campaign for any particular politician, but at the same time total indifference to different economic/political systems seems a bit naive.
But isn’t that precisely Sheldon’s point?
I never expressed indifference. I really don’t know if the German system is better or worse than the American system. I’ve seen both positions argued, and I’d need to know more about the German system before I decide. Maybe I need to experience it for myself.
My point is that this is an empirical question. Many will see it as a conceptual issue: “American capitalism versus German socialism: Let’s see. Capitalism is superior to socialism. Therefore the American system must be better than the German system.” That’s not the way to go about deciding the issue.
Right. And there’s no reason to suppose that “better” or “worse”–using whatever metrics you’re inclined to employ–can be applied intelligibly to an economy as a whole. Each will feature benefits and burdens, instances of justice and injustice, instance of benevolence and indifference, and it’s not obvious to me that these, or any meaningful subset of them, should be thought to be commensurable. The question whether the German economy is better than the US economy is like the question whether orange is faster than up. If your only focus is narrowly economic, you can presumably say that some impoverished country is worse off than Germany (though even in that impoverished country, someone is likely to be flying high and to resist any changes or criticisms).
Well, of course orange is faster than up. Because the speed of light limits how fast you can go up, but there’s no limit on how fast you can turn orange. 🙂
Roderick, I beg to differ. I just feel like saying that.
Don’t beg, it’s undignified. Just submit an official Request to Differ form, in triplicate. With the appropriate fees, of course.