Friday, November 17, 2017

Democracy's Recipe: Consumption as a Privilege, Production as a Right

I decided to state the main point of this post upfront, to make certain it wouldn't be missed. Among the many concerns of this nation's founders, was the possibility that citizens' rights to produce basic necessities and services - which they were still free to provide - might eventually be undermined through legislation. Indeed, the ability of those early citizens to work directly with a wide range of resource capacity, was a major consideration, re why a (fledgling) democracy proved viable in the first place.

Many production rights have been lost so slowly and imperceptibly, that it's no simple matter to trace the histories of what has taken place in this regard. For that matter, many believe that regulations matter insofar as they affect the options of private industry, rather than the economic and social choices of private individuals. Nevertheless: The regulatory requirements of today's building codes - not to mention the extensive requirements for knowledge use - stand in the way of much that individuals could otherwise provide for themselves and others, since special interests now encourage local marketplaces which mostly cater to higher income levels.

Equally problematic: Many individual production rights were undermined in ways which can lead to an unfortunate rationale of lost consumption rights (think "rights" to healthcare). What's more, should anyone insist on rights to healthcare, others will view this as an unfair imposition on taxpayers as a whole. From here it's a quick slippery slope to arguments that democracy isn't a suitable form of government, as Will Wilkinson highlighted in "How Libertarian Democracy Skepticism Infected the American Right".

Before the current emphasis on cost containment in healthcare, many groups made efforts to increase marketplace capacity for all concerned, but these efforts mostly turned out to be additional resources for supply side capacity as it was already structured. These efforts also led to more firmly entrenched fiscal roles to subsidize healthcare - a burden which can only be (presently) relieved through gradual reductions in marketplace capacity.

It has been tempting for governments to make production rights a privilege for special interests, particularly since this also allows them to tap into the wealth capacity of these groups at local levels. However, government indebtedness for healthcare - in part because of retirement obligations - now means little room is left for discretionary responses in other circumstance.

While it could be tempting for some to do away with democracy, disallowing the poor to vote would hardly reduce the government debt loads which still lack long term budgetary solutions. Regular readers are already familiar with my suggestion for long term debt reduction: restore production rights to citizens. Not only could a supply side response remove the confusion about consumption rights, it would reduce the chances of debt becoming democracy's downfall.

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