Even playing fields, terrible video titles

Pay attention to what Ed says first, then see if the video title is an accurate choice for summarizing what he talks about. Below you’ll find someone’s critique, and my own take on what’s going on.

SevenRiderAirForce10 months ago

This is essentially a straw man derived from an intentionally misunderstood aphorism. There’s no actual analysis of how the world really works here, just some pontification about abstract morals and “systems.” Jawaharwal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, said “Do not speak to me of profit, it is a dirty word.” And India languished in poverty for decades. It has only been since they have freed up their markets that they have seen their standards of living rise dramatically. Whether you say the word “socialism” or not doesn’t mean that people have expressed the exact same sentiments in previous times. We have tried this hypothesis. All the anti-capitalists have are excuses as to why all their attempts have repeatedly failed – if only the right people were in charge, if only the philosophical underpinning were modified slightly, if only people who disagreed with the system didn’t exist, THEN it would work. Ironically, even in a not-as-free-as-it-should-be capitalist system, that is, a real world implementation faced with all the special interests and corruption and problems of real life, we manage to experience great progress for mankind. The grand irony of Ed Whitfield’s concern is that the government ALREADY HAS control over so many of these sectors IT’S CAUSING the very problem he’s complaining about. Fishing licenses, hairdressing licenses, taxi licenses, special taxes and tax breaks, corporate subsidies, all sorts of regulatory statutes and mandates – the cost of entry is artificially pushed up far too high, such that the poorest and least well off have the most difficulty of entering the market and doing well for themselves.”

+SevenRiderAirForce I agree that the video’s title is misleading and lends itself to the straw man which does a disservice to what he explains. The thing to remember is he never advocated for a particular way of making a more even playing field.

He only pointed out:
1) the way our economy tends to work
2) that it really does have an uneven playing field
3) and most people are emphasizing how to play rather than how to create fair opportunities on it

Summarizing everything he talked about as I understand it:
1) people have created conditions which (implied as unfairly) allow benefit from their own interest than that of others out of essential opportunities
2) it starts to prohibit the ability for people to meet basic needs
3) the basis for owning something that all people do rely on for essential sustenance comes from ideologies that isn’t compatible with ensuring peoples needs are met
4) how we explain an idea sometimes matters more than what we call the idea because it allows us to engage its components before activating personal biases or filtering it with particular stigmas

Perhaps a more tangible example to the “teach a man to fish” idea is college education in the U.S.: people are encouraged to go to college, many do & graduate, and only find jobs that provide poor economic attainment (something like 40% “millennials” are unemployed or underemployed as of 2015, another statistic suggests a lot of my fellow “millennials” are living with parents) that aren’t sufficient to pay student debts.

I don’t necessarily think capitalism/communism/socialism automatically means bad or good, but the message raises remains valid.

Also, he doesn’t rush to advocate for a particular label for the kind of economics we need.

The summit Ed Whitfield spoke at was convened to consider how to blend the necessary realities of capitalism with better ways to meet basic needs in through businesses and economic approaches which would make local economies more resilient (in disclosure, I was there, and at the least I know that’s what I was doing). One of the key ideas was “if not capitalism, and not socialism, then what?” which is why it was led by the New Economy Forum.

I do like that you’ve framed economic philosophy as testable hypotheses, and I think that reinforces why the summit was convened–there are people from both perspectives who lived under and deeply studied (a lot of scholars were present too) the failures of one or another economic approach, and have concluded similarly that both forms in their extreme don’t work.

To my/Ed’s first point, “that people have created people have created conditions which (implied as unfairly) allow benefit from their own interest than that of others”:
It’s exactly what you pointed out–there are industries which bar new competition from arising. In the U.S. many major energy utilities are lobbying the government to prevent small-scale renewable enterprises from entering the market (you can look at Michigan’s Senate proposed energy policy from the past 3 years for a real example).

In other words, some enterprises are so well to do (which would be fine in itself assuming that they didn’t destroy the communities they’ve gleaned their wealth from upon finishing their business or bankruptcy) that they’re creating the policies which govern the market (AKA “extra-market forces”) and shutting out new/small enterprises. I think we can both agree that’s a problem.

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