Monday, March 05, 2012

What the Right does not understand

There is a fundamental truth which the political Right does not seem to understand and that is that either way it will have to pay for society. Either it can (1) make social investments in public childcare, schools, and higher education or (2) it will have to bear the (a) direct costs of crime, social unrest, and disease as well as (b) the indirect costs of keeping people trapped below their real productivity potential and thereby reducing the rate of economic growth for society as a whole. These latter indirect costs are of particular importance and commonly overlooked. It is thus not so much what the poor will do as what they won’t do which is the big blind spot of conservative political analysis.

Some people on the Right believe that what happens in other countries is not their concern. But again they are wrong. Like at the domestic level, failure to invest in other people will lead to direct costs for military security but also to large indirect costs as the rest of the world is kept below its productivity potential.

Looking at the evidence of the last hundred years, it should be obvious to everyone that social investments pay off. Still the Right insists that society cannot afford these investments. The truth is rather that we cannot afford to not make them.


Blogger Rasmus Karlsson said...

And for those who are still doubting, see "Growing Public:
Social Spending and Economic Growth Since the Eighteenth Century
" by Peter H. Lindert

3:15 pm  

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