Sometimes when discussing civil liberties, a line gets drawn between personal freedoms and economic ones. In fact, it is even seen as one of the defining characteristics between the political left and right. But while this certainly may be true of the policies that either side supports, I feel as though this misses the interaction between the two.
Let’s start with the First Amendment: Freedom of speech. This has been a hotly contested issue of late, with the Citizens United ruling several years ago. There was (and continues to be) much said about the validity of corporate money in the political arena. That in particular isn’t an issue I wish to focus on, but the interaction between speech and money is.
If an individual chooses to spend their money towards a political campaign, or flyers, or to self publish a book, those are all different forms of speech. To limit the amount of money that an individual is allowed to spend is akin to limiting the amount that they are allowed to say; the limitation on economic freedom becomes a limitation on personal freedom. The political left seems to think that while freedom of speech is beneficial for individuals, it is not the case for groups of those very same individuals; the reasoning behind this I cannot understand. Pragmatically, there is little reason to believe that the amount of money that one spends will guarantee a particular outcome. One must look no further than the current presidential election, where Jeb Bush outspent nearly every other candidate, and yet dropped out of the race dead last.
Another area that the two areas, personal and economic, interact is in trade. If I want to offer my carpentry services, it’s unfortunately not as simple as finding someone in need of my services, rendering them, and collecting payment. If I wish to keep the weight of the State off my back, I must first be licensed, register as a contractor, pay various fees, file my taxes quarterly, etc. There are numerous costs that I must incur before ever accepting that first payment. The economic restrictions become a restriction on my personal freedom by altering how I must spend my time in addition to my money.
Or what if I would like to hire somebody, but they’re not a citizen, or haven’t been through all the needed regulatory hurdles? That’s another restriction on my economic freedom, that is effecting my freedom of association as a consequence.
Liberty shouldn’t be seen as compartmentalized segments; it’s deep and dynamic, and restrictions on it have far reaching consequences.
This comes from the American Wood Council, which publishes the Wood Frame Construction Manual, a building code that my town is required to use:
To increase the use of wood by assuring the broad regulatory acceptance of wood products, developing design tools and guidelines for wood construction, and influencing the development of public policies affecting the use and manufacture of wood products.
There is a clear conflict of interest when an organization stands to gain financially by having its own standards adopted universally.
I love that using money as TP is a legitimate concern there.
Because I’m pretty sure that’s all we can do at this point:
Schumpeter talked about the “creative destruction” of capitalism; essentially, that resources are constantly being reallocated and as a result businesses are always rising or failing. This is important to understand, because whether a business is profitable or not is a determination of how well it uses its resources. If a business is essentially prohibited from making decisions on how to efficiently use it resources, it will fail. The ones that don’t fail will be stagnant, and will probably be large corporations, as noted in the article. Those corporations eventually won’t be able to survive without government support, thus adding even more inefficiency to the system. It might be quicker just to round up everybody’s cash and burn it in a smoldering heap, except the paper isn’t worth anything anyways so I guess that wouldn’t really accomplish much.
The dynamism of capitalism is what allows people to flourish, because it is able to react to changing needs/ wants in society. To restrict that movement increases inefficiency and ultimately wastes resources and will end up harming the very people they’re trying to help. But what else is new?
I was reading a paper that I originally saw on Zero Hedge, and I will quote a few paragraphs that I think are relevant to our current economic situation:
Variability in time preferences changes interest and capital formation. If lower time preference and higher savings and lower interest rates created higher valuations in earlier-stage capital (factors of production) which initiates a capital investment boom, this newfound excess profitability would be neutralized by lower demand for present consumption goods and lower valuations in that later-stage capital. (John Maynard Keynes’ favored paradox of thrift is completely wrong, as it ignores the effect on capital investment of increased savings, and resulting productivity—and ignores the destructiveness of inflation, as well.)