Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Ideal Nation

We shall dream....

Extracted from book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations" by David S Landen Chapter 15

"Let us begin by delineating the ideal case, the society theoretically best suited to pursue material progress and general enrichment. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a "better" or a "superior" society (words to be avoided), simply one fitter to produce goods and services. This ideal growth-and-development society would be one that

1. Knew how to operate, manage, and build the instruments of production and to create, adapt and master new techniques on the technological frontier.
2. Was able to impart this knowledge and know-how to the young, whether by formal education of apprenticeship training.
3. Chose people for jobs by competence and relative merit; promoted and demoted on the basis of performance.
4. Afforded opportunity to individual or collective enterprise; encouraged initiative, competition, and emulation.
5. Allowed people to enjoy and employ the fruits of their labor and enterprise.

These standards imply corollaries: gender equality (thereby doubling the pool of talent); no discrimination of the basis of irrelevant criteria (race, sex, religion, etc.); also a preference for scientific (means-end) rationality over magic and superstition (irrationality).

Such a society would also possess the kind of political and social institutions that favor the achievement of these larger goals; that would, for example,

1. Secure rights of private property, the better to encourage saving and investment.
2. Secure rights of personal liberty
secure them against both the abuses of tyranny and private disorder (crime and corruption).
3. Enforce the right of contract, explicit and implicit.
4. Provide stable government, not necessarily democratic, but itself governed by publicly known rules (a government of laws rather than men). If democratic, that is, based on periodic election, the majority wins but does not violate the rights of the losers; while the losers accept their loss and look forward to another turn at the polls.
5. Provide responsive government, one that will hear complaint and make redress.
6. Provide honest government, such that economic actors are not moved to seek advantage and privilege inside or outside the marketplace. In economic jargon, there should be no rents to favor and position.
7. Provide moderate, efficient, ungreedy government. The effect should be to hold taxes down, reduce the government’s claim on the social surplus, and avoid privilege."

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