Monday, February 10, 2014

Uniters and dividers

It's human nature that we treat each other best when we think we belong to the same family, band, tribe, etc. That seems to be the way of our evolution. It follows that very bad things can happen when we revert to tribalism.  We also know that most politicians are not above appealing to race and class to exploit this foible.  Racial appeals are less fashionable these days but class warfare never seems to go out of fashion.

Last Friday's WSJ included "Argentina War on Inflation Gets Personal ... Street Posters Target Retail Executives; Government Asks Citizens to Police What They Deem 'Abusive' Price Increases."  It is sad irony that the "Government" mentioned is responsible for the inflation.

One need not go to Argentina to see spectacles like this in play. It's just too easy for various politicians to shore up support by fomenting hatreds. Some of them even get away with claims that they would rather be "a uniter" than "a divider."

The best way to improve the situation of those who are struggling is to promote an environment of economic growth. Here is one eloquent proponent:
        “Over the centuries those who have been blessed with wealth have developed many remarkably ingenious and persuasive justifications for their good fortune.  The instinct of the liberal is to look at these explanations with a rather unyielding eye. Yet in this case the facts are inescapable.  It is the increase in output in recent years, not the redistribution of income, which has brought the greatest material increase to the well-being of the average man.  And, however suspiciously, the liberal has come to accept the fact.”  J.K. Galbraith The Affluent Society, 1958, pp 96-97
That was then. These days, Galbraith's concluding thought has seemingly, perhaps disastrously, been discarded.