Pl. read this in the context of the on-going discussion re. governments, economy, market intervention and liberal policies…Below is a great summary of the positions on the “right” and “left” of the economic spectrum by Prof Greg Mankiw:
- The right sees large deadweight losses associated with taxation and, therefore, is worried about the growth of government as a share in the economy. The left sees smaller elasticities of supply and demand and, therefore, is less worried about the distortionary effect of taxes.
- The right sees externalities as an occasional market failure that calls for government intervention, but sees this as relatively rare exception to the general rule that markets lead to efficient allocations. The left sees externalities as more pervasive.
- The right sees competition as a pervasive feature of the economy and market power as typically limited both in magnitude and duration. The left sees large corporations with substantial degrees of monopoly power that need to be checked by active antitrust policy.
- The right sees people as largely rational, doing the best the can given the constraints they face. The left sees people making systematic errors and believe that it is the government role’s to protect people from their own mistakes.
- The right sees government as a terribly inefficient mechanism for allocating resources, subject to special-interest politics at best and rampant corruption at worst. The left sees government as the main institution that can counterbalance the effects of the all-too-powerful marketplace.
- There is one last issue that divides the right and the left—perhaps the most important one. That concerns the issue of income distribution. Is the market-based distribution of income fair or unfair, and if unfair, what should the government do about it? That is such a big topic that I will devote the entire next lecture to it.
Hopefully this will help us clarify our thinking…
I am guessing (and I may have to eat my words here!) that most readers of this blog will fall on the “left”…which would be somewhat of a paradox as their political leanings are (I’m guessing again) mostly towards the “right”.
I am tempted to write a separate post on the “right” and “left” of the political spectrum.
Mahesh and Patriot: I would request you to please get the ball rolling on this discussion (and I should not forget Sanjeev) … Thanks.