Dear Millennials and others: Because I was once your age I know how you currently struggle with many pertinent issues. Why economics? It is the main issue that divides many in this world of “inequality”. I believe when we go deeper in economics we shall find some solutions together.
Today we touch on the issue of “equal right” in the practice of economics.
Economics is neutral. It is a set of principles and concepts that describe the way human “trade” with one another in order to satisfy needs and wants.
The first thing I learned in my school economics is the law of supply and demand. Supply is based on demand. but every supplier has the right to supply to the target customers who are willing to buy his goods according to the supplier-seller’s condition of sales. Similarly, a customer can choose to buy or not to buy based on the same set of condition of sales.
A civil democratic (majority-rule) society normally has sales and purchase agreements with checks and balances based on recognized and legalized laws and practices by the majority of the legitimate legal citizens/residents who have legitimate voting rights of that society. Ideally such a system will ensure that the majority of needs and wants of the majority in the society will be met according to the original social “contract” of gathering together as a legal entity called nation/state.
The issues you may face today come from one predominant source: some individuals want to claim more right than others by demanding exemptions from the set social contract.
In an economic system without exemption, everyone shall abide with the same terms and conditions of production and sales. You cannot force someone to produce and give/sell their products to you even if you have the required money to buy. The terms of exchange have to be met in full. Your ability to provide the monetary value is only one of the terms of the total sales and purchase agreement.
In a neutral civil economic society, the legitimate owner and seller of the resources, produces, goods and services has a legal upper hand than the person who wants that goods and services. It is therefore a crime to forcibly take what the owner does not want to give or sell to you. You cannot covet another man’s property. For example, I cannot ask you to remove your branded watch or shoes or bag from your possession and hand them to me just because I like to have or need to use them. It will be a robbery subject to punishment.
Similarly, no man can trespass another man’s property. That is what legal boundaries and demarcations are for.
The civil democratic constitution and law of “unadulterated” interpretation and implementation normally protect the right of the majority of the legitimate components of the society. People in a society can create and/or encounter many social issues because they are ignorant or choose to ignore, misrepresent, misinterpret, misjudge, miss-apply and miss-execute the law.
Does a neutral economic system result in inequality? My question is: “inequality” in what? Don’t you honor patent right for the fruit of the inventor? In the same principle, remember and honor the one who produces a good and service. He has the right to decide to sell or not to sell. To give or not to give. A very simple guide is: do not rob or steal from others when you do not want others to do that to you or your loved ones. What honor and esteem you gain by taking what is not yours?
How then shall individuals who deem themselves as “under-privileged” function in a civil economic society? The group of individuals who form the civil society can come together and agree on some rules and regulations governing the common good in any ethical social system.
Who decides what is common good and what are considered ethical? In a democratic system there are established and tested ways to do this effectively. I believe the common moral and ethical values of a society influence that society’s decision making processes and choices. Normally this is influenced by the worldview of individuals, derived from family culture, education and their religious system. Can experiences and knowledge change our worldview? Yes. Definitely. My advice for the younger individuals is to remain open to views and really go in depth and study and understand economics and ethics. For those who are chronologically young, it is wise to know that the older individuals are learning knowledge and developing wisdom too and many are advancing in an accelerated speed and better focus because of the wider and deeper scope they have already gone through in life.
History has shown that taking without paying the due rewards for any goods and services from one man’s possession to another man has resulted in regression instead of progression of mankind. Such a system results in oppression and depression in which mankind do not feel motivated and challenged to do better for himself and/or the community. Social ills such as corruption, poverty and a general economic depression set in together with crime, abuses, violence, destruction, and brokenness in many aspects of the society. When an economy breaks down, the shortage of funds generated from taxation which otherwise would have maintained, up-kept and even improved the common amenities, facilities and security often results in loss of the general wellbeing of individuals and society.
I would therefore urge you to read economic history in the context of the history of mankind. I would define the history of mankind as a history of economics. The depth and breadth of its knowledge, effective application and faithful unbiased implementation is really the key to maintain, sustain and further advance a civil society.
None of us will be around forever on this earth. We need to know and live with each other through genuine knowledge and cooperation with one another. Many great men and great women had lived before us and left behind tested economic principles, ethics and values which have ensured the effective and well functioning of human community. Their positive contributions have laid a foundation for human to work together peaceably and effectively. The evidence is the sustained and improved general human livelihood despite the exponential increase of the population of the world. Food for thought, don’t you think?
I hope this letter will clarify some thoughts and challenge you to widen your thinking scope. During my writing of this, I too have been challenged and decided to know more and think wider on this subject.
From: a sound-mind-economic being.
Postscript: I will attempt the subject of “ownership” of resources, “wealth” and related “equal right” in my next blog.
What is Wealth?
Wealth measures the value of all the assets of worth owned by a person, community, company or country. Wealth is determined by taking the total market value of all physical and intangible assets owned, then subtracting all debts. Essentially, wealth is the accumulation of resources. Specific people, organizations and nations are said to be wealthy when they are able to accumulate many valuable resources or goods. (Investopedia)
Proverbs 13:11Wealth gained by
dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.
Note added: a famous Christian man who lived for 99 years and is known to perhaps millions in this world died on 21st February 2018 . This poem was written and posted on the 16th five days before that day while fasting for Lent.