Alleviating Suffering

Karl Smith shares some dreary points on who sees reality in the most realistic light, liberals or conservatives.

This sounds depressing but this is also reality. You see liberals trying to alleviate suffering in the world because otherwise you have suffering and pain.

Bad things happen because badness is the natural state of the world. If something good ever happens count yourself lucky and be aware that this too shall pass.

The rocky roads we walk on will remain painful rocky roads until someone (private investors, the charitable wealthy, the government, &c) decides it would be good for everyone to have paved roads; the conservative way (someone will do it if there is money to be made, otherwise it’s not worth doing) will end up with nothing done most of the time. The same goes with just about anything.

images The problem with the conservative point of view is that, exactly: if there is a problem, the market will fix it. That’s not always true. If there is no profit to be made, it’s likely not going to be made. You may sometimes find some rich person willing to pay for it as a charity but that’s one rich person doing that one good deed when there is a need for hundred of thousands of rich people doing that good deed.

Good deeds like paved roads which increase the mobility of people, including the poor who can’t afford cars and have to walk those rocky roads. Good deeds like open borders to trade (conservatives are for free trade but for the wrong reasons; liberals used to be against free trade but have seen the light thanks to libertarians) which empower third world nations and enriches the poor in those countries, doing more to alleviate poverty than charity by churches ever will.

The problem is that the open, free market is more efficient at alleviating suffering. Direct government intervention is less efficient as government building the roads requires taxation which means money is taken from those who would use the road (and everyone else who wouldn’t) to build those roads. It would be much better if the government gave incentive for private investors to build the roads. If there is money to be made somehow, private investors will charge for usage of these roads and the cost will be placed mostly on those who use the road instead of everyone else. Hopefully government uses policy instead of subsidies to provide incentive to these private investors (subsidies lead to general taxation). Tolls are good; taxes are bad. It’s as simple as that.

Disregard the probability that work will leave the US and go to a third world country or a developing country like China and India. Consider the higher wages US companies bring to those developing countries, alleviating poverty and enriching foreign nations. As these nations become wealthier, they will eventually begin demanding products that require more expertise than they are capable of producing. That means jobs will come back to the US where the workers have the education necessary to manufacture these products and supply these services. It’s a painful transition at first as jobs are lost here but they can come back. In the mean time, we’re alleviating suffering throughout the world instead of being selfish assholes. Many liberals in the early 2000s were being selfish assholes, pissed that jobs were leaving the country due to free trade. The fact of the matter is that it wasn’t really just free trade that was siphoning jobs away, it was increasing productivity in the form of machines and robots making human beings obsolete in more and more manufacturing jobs. That phenomenon has never been more apparent than today.

Free trade can work or it can go to shit depending on your outlook on life. If you’re looking at free trade as a way to maximize profit and try to completely cheat the people in foreign countries by matching wages there, you’re not only going to fail in your foreign venture as you won’t attract the best type of employees (higher wages attract better workers), but you’re also not going to enrich those people, either. You might, marginally, because more jobs means more people working but unless wages go up, people will not be enriched all that much. If you’re the Karl Smith type of liberal-libertarian, however, you’ll understand why slightly higher wages (relative to the average wage in the foreign country) will benefit everyone: you, your productivity, your product’s quality, and alleviation of poverty and suffering, enriching the people and the nation.

LifeSucks Free trade, while a disgusting idea in the eyes of liberals in the early 2000s, creates wealth when done right. Liberals and libertarians working together can lead to a paradigm shift among intellectuals and policy makers while conservatives stick to their “hope and no change” philosophy. That’s why I’ll be paying much more attention to Karl Smith, Will Wilkinson and Matt Yglesias than the more conservative-libertarian types who just don’t get it: life sucks and then you die.

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