Friday, October 02, 2015
The Economy is a Good Servant But a Bad Master
The economy exists to serve the needs and wants of everyone. Society should regulate the economy just enough to make sure it does that job. This regulation is done through the state and through the customs and mores of the people.
The "real economy," argues David Halpern in The Hidden Wealth of Nations, consists of the quality of relations among individuals and among social groups. This is what most people value the most. The money economy and the production/consumption economy should serve human relations, not the reverse.
Society becomes distorted when, instead, the government and even the customs and mores are shifted to serve the economy. The idea that society is best off if the market is left free to maximize profit for owners serves the owners, but hurts everyone else. In this as in all things, proportion is vital.