Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two Views of Change

Major events have a way of changing our world view. The current recession could a have a significant impact on how the people of the U.S. make choices. Much of this will come as a result of our internalized experience. Some of it will come as a result of changes in the institutions (rules and organizations) that develop as a response to what happened.

Given that economic systems are the collection of institutions that are constructed to affect choices; the next question is how will this experience change existing economic systems? Here are two thought-provoking pieces (HT from Arts & Letters Daily).

The first asks how capitalism might change. It's interesting because it is a wide-ranging view. The author recognizes that capitalism is more than a collection of formal rules and organizations. It is a result of choices and actions, usually entered into and created voluntarily. The question of whether capitalism will be our servant instead of our master was particularly interesting. I would submit that capitalism always has been and will continue to be our servant because it is our construct.

The second examines how command systems might change. Of the two, the second is more pessimistic because it predicts that many of the command systems may not survive. That idea is not new. Thomas Friedman discussed the same idea in his book The World is Flat. In that book, he talks about how increased globalization (communication and technology) will make it harder for command economies to keep control. The argument in the second article is somewhat different. Because the people in many countries where command is the dominant characteristic have experienced some improvement because of growth, there may be a backlash if those systems become more repressive. (I should note there are also examples of protest and anger directed at the U.S. in those same countries.)

Regardless, these articles are interesting and may well be worth your time if you like to have your students think about or discuss such ideas in your class. I'd welcome your thoughts on these articles. Do you think they would be useful in your classes?

This post relates to the following Keystone Economic Principle:
4. Economic systems influence choices.

1 comment:

tapsearcher said...

Explore the lost worlds in the globalist free trader Flat World of Thomas Friedman, the Bush family, the Clintons, Greenspan with President Obama now taking the lead.

Globalization and Free Trade have not evolved in any natural economic fashion but have been driven by powerful forces outside the will of the people.
See and

( A must read for all - Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. )