Monday, May 03, 2010

When Pragmatism Replaces Principles

Doug Reich has yet another great post on the topic. The whole thing is worth reading, but here's my favorite part:

So, what would happen if the government were to provide free pizza or health insurance to all?

To answer, one could integrate fundamental principles in economics, politics, and morality with observations from history and contemporary society and draw an obvious generalization:

Private enterprise, driven by the profit motive and competition, will tend to produce the highest quality goods and services in abundant quantities at the cheapest possible price. On the other hand, government, which has no competition and has little or no incentive to control costs or enhance quality, will naturally tend to produce the poorest quality goods and services in the smallest possible quantity at the highest possible price.

However, modern intellectuals, paralyzed by pragmatism, would not proffer such a generalization. They would answer something like the following:

"I don't know, and no one can know. However, the idea of free pizza and health care feels good to me, so let's try something. When we observe the results of our actions, we will get back to you, and if it doesn't 'work', we will try something else to get free pizza and health care."

If you think that is ridiculous, consider the following report:

Facing a public still wary of his massive health care overhaul, President Obama urged Americans not to judge the nearly $1 trillion legislation he signed into law last week until the reforms take hold.

He continued: "It's been a week, folks. So, before we find out if people like health care reform, we should wait to see what happens when we put it into place. Just a thought." [emphasis mine]


Blogger The Rat Cap said...

Thanks for the link Amit!

6:09 AM  
Blogger Amit Ghate said...

You're very welcome.

10:23 AM  

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