Friday, March 5, 2010

Strange Bedfellows: A difference between conservatives and liberals

Psychologists tell us that when a person finds that their spouse has cheated on them, they tend to blame the other person, rather than their spouse, for the infidelity. I have often seen a similar argument in our politics.

Government and business are regularly - and yet for all that, always shockingly - in bed together. Corruption, captured legislation, ineffective public safety institutions, and other ills follow.

When they see that, conservatives rail against government: if government didn't have the authority to grant special favors and create political rents, innocent businessmen would focus on earning profits properly. We need to shrink government.

Liberals tend to blame business: if businesses weren't allowed to lobby governments for special favors to create political rents, innocent selfless civil servants would go on maximizing social welfare. We need to tightly control markets and limit their ability to influence politics.

Questions: What is the probability they are both to blame? If they are both to blame, are both conservatives' and liberals' favorite solutions appropriate, or do we need a third solution? Does it matter if we could objectively say it is 90% one side's fault? Does anyone know of any arguments in favor of corporate capitalism (ie - this isn't a problem, let's just marry the two of them and have it done)?

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