Monday, May 30, 2011

"3 Source Response" Assignment

            The first source directly supports and promotes the concept of Welfare State, and how it enables people to pursue their own ideals and individual greatness, though Economic Equality and John Maynard Keynes’ system of Keynesian Economics are there to provide a safety net for those who are unsuccessful in their individual endeavours. Also, it is stressed that people cannot find their own happiness and “cannot be free if they are beset by fear and security”, showing distaste for authoritarian governmental styles that revolve around fear and power control, such as one-party states like present-day North Korea and Germany from the era of Adolf Hitler. Through the source, Liberalistic principles such as Individual Rights & Freedoms are supported with negative connotations in regard to oppression “by reason of race, creed or color”. Economic Freedom and Human Rights are also being emphasized by referring to allowing people to “develop their individual capacities”, and additionally with the allowance to “receive just awards for their talents and to engage in the pursuit of happiness”. Specifically with the discussion of the “pursuit of happiness”, it can be said that Utilitarianism is also being suggested, considering that the creator of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, believed that the best thing for the people is to promote as much happiness in the people as possible.

            Source II expresses its negative opinion of Socialism, as well as the entire Left wing of the political spectrum, by stating that Collective and Socialistic ideals are simply to take from the wealthy and provide to the less fortunate. Also, through the heavily opinionated statement, “Assuming that production occurs by magic”, The source speaks of the lack of productivity for creating amenities that the people need, resulting in “domestic poverty” as a relentless form of economic recession and “spread[ing] hunger around the globe”. Though few supported concepts of Liberalism can be derived from direct quotations in the source, it is implied that principles that stimulate the economy through individualistic views are being emphasized, such as Economic freedom and Individual Rights & Freedoms, as well as aspects such as Competition through the thought that the source is negatively commenting about socialism being responsible for “taxing the producers and subsidizing consumers”.

            In the final source, the political cartoon blatantly supports Capitalistic ideals through the direct promotion of Economic Freedom, as well as the negative feedback toward Economic Equality through the people in the cartoon’s disgust for everybody receiving a profit during the described “economic boom”. Through this, the people portrayed in the cartoon receive no rise in the economic hierarchy, creating the basis for their dissatisfaction. Even though no individual is being placed in economic deficit, the men depicted are still not content, due to the fact that they have no profit in comparison to the people around them in their society, and possibly in the business industry that they may reside in.

            All three sources have basic similarities in the sense of promoting the allowance for people to provide for themselves and move themselves upward on the economic ladder through the principle of Economic Freedom, whether it would be for the purpose of making the people happy, obtaining a profit, or just plain avoiding the values of socialism. Though their purposes may be varied, all the sources describe their opinions in that Economic Freedom is a quality in an economic style that is used to benefit the people by allowing everybody to practise their own tactics toward climbing the financial ladder. Regardless of why the sources have motive to point out the usefulness of Economic Freedom, however, is irrelevant, because they all underline the basic thought of giving every individual the chance at greatness and financial glory, so long as the individual takes the chance and works towards his or her own benefit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Part 4 - Position Paper

Individualistic Thought and the Potential for Equality

      Friedrich von Hayek was a loyal classical liberal, believing strongly in such concepts as a free-market economy, economic freedom and self-interest, while also strongly opposing the possibility of socialism in politics, as well as collectivist thought altogether. With the quotation provided in the source, von Hayek emphasizes his ideals in that the concepts of socialism cannot provide society with a true form of equality, due to the fact that even when the people will not follow through on the concepts of liberalism like self-interest and economic freedom, the governing power will take their place. Through this, an “enforced equality” will always present itself. I believe that even though there is logic to von Hayek’s words, there is a limit to the extent to which his ideals would benefit society without being blended the principles of collectivism that help form the overall ideals of modern liberalism. Taking von Hayek’s concept into consideration, prosperity becomes a possibility, but only at the cost of leaving others behind.

      The concept of economic freedom is a critical component in von Hayek’s argument, especially through his statement, “authoritarian determination of status of each individual in the new hierarchical order”. With this quotation, he explains that even with the concept of having a Government in control of the economical ranking and placement of individuals, there will always be a form of segregation between people in regards to their economic placement, or rank in society. Due to this imbalance, socialism becomes an unlikely fix for a gap between the social and economical classes. There will always be individuals with the desire to make their own lives better, and to move up in society into greater economic prosperity. I can agree with von Hayek in the sense that the possibility of having all individuals in a society maintaining the same economical status is very unlikely. Although strict economic freedom provides the opportunity for anybody to improve their own quality of life, the flaw with that ideal is that people with less means to success may result in a poorer quality of life. To fix this, a more complete and thorough plan must be implemented, such as bringing modern liberalism into effect instead. Then, von Hayek’s ideals on economic freedom are still kept in tact, while other principles such as welfare capitalism can create a safety net for those who are less prosperous, using specific things like minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and other things to ensure that everybody is given a chance at success.

      Going hand-in-hand with economic freedom is the principle of self-interest, and Friedrich von Hayek stands firm in his belief that self-interest is simply how the economy exists. Being a supporter of free-market economics, he believes that the economy is fuelled by self-interest. Keeping this in mind, von Hayek also expresses that equality cannot be achieved, even with a government-directed economy, due to the fact that it “can only result in an officially enforced inequality”. This means that an extra driving force or form of bias will always arise, resulting in the individual temptation to break free from the lower ranks of other groups of people. I believe that these aspects of Friedrich von Hayek’s ideals are reasonable, considering the materialistic desires of the majority of individuals even to this day. However, without even partial government intervention, the economy becomes completely at the mercy of the entire society; when the people suffer, so does the economy. During the Great Depression, the economy was being maintained with a free-market system, although the people had no spending money to continue stimulating the economy itself, resulting in the American market plummeting. The fact that the economy ends up being completely reliant on the constant fluctuation of spending patterns by the people creates the consistent chance for another crash like the Great Depression. This is why, despite the free-market’s positive aspects, I believe that the governing power should at least have the power to implement some form of defence against the possibility of another recession. This way, communities and individuals can still indulge in their own desires and interests, while still having confidence that their entire economy will not collapse overnight.

      Though Friedrich von Hayek brings forth realistic and sensible ideas to promote a more successful economy, his ideals provided in the source seem like a half-constructed plan. His promotion of the individualistic-based principles of Liberalism create the possibility for success, but the lack of collectivist ideals create an even greater possibility to form a margin between the successful and the individuals who fall back into economic deficit. Even with the concept of economic freedom, the possibility of everybody benefitting is a large stretch, which is why concepts like welfare state make up for its shortcomings. Also, in regards to self-interest and free-market economics, the relentless fluctuation from strength to weakness in a country’s finance brings forth a much more fragile economy altogether without a safety net to play a supportive role during difficult times. Therefore, though we may be able to agree with and acknowledge the principles that von Hayek presents as understandable and insightful, and even though a society built on a foundation of equality is unlikely, a comfortable zone in between the two extremes is, in my opinion, the greatest likelihood for prosperity to benefit the everyday individual, as well as the overall society.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Impressions on the 2011 Canadian Federal Election

In my honest opinion, I believe that this year's federal election will be more productive in terms of shifting the placings of the non-winning parties. When it comes to the winning party, I regretfully believe that the Conservatives will come out on top, mainly because individuals have a hard time changing their opinions, especially when they're already stuck in with the same opinion as the majority of the society around them. However, they likely will stay as a minority government (most likely due to the fact that Alberta doesn't have enough people to sway the election further than they already do). Looking back into the past, Conservatives have had a significant lead in popularity in Canada for many years, and I don't think enough has happened to change the opinions of the majority of citizens in our country.

In regards to the opposition party, I have a feeling that title will be granted to Jack Layton and the NDP. Considering the amount of ground he has been gaining lately with voters in Quebec and many other areas throughout Canada, and even becoming more popular than Michael Ignatieff as of late, I believe such a rapid change in loyalties will be reflected in the polls tomorrow. With Ignatieff's natural disadvantage by being the leader of the Liberals (due to the implementation of the National Energy Program by Ex-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), I find it hard to believe that his party will be able to remain in the seat of the opposition party.