Thursday, September 16, 2010

Impossible Choices

Arrow's Social Choice and Individual Values and Sen's Liberal Paradox point out some of the failings of the democratic process and the impossibility of reaching a group concensus on a number of options. But this just validates the need for a mechanism to make a decision in the absence of a majority or the situation where the outcome is unclear. In the case of a tie in the US Senate the Vice President gets the deciding vote. Congress is empowered to decide the outcome of the elections of its members. In these situations the decision that is made is not democratic since the voters failed to reach a decision.

If the choice is left solely to individuals though some people can end up benefiting at the expense of others. The most powerful factions end up being self-serving and disregard the interests of others.

Arrow also points out that capital is not the only way to improve productivity. Technological innovation can substitute for capital. This includes the arrangement of the workplace. Improved economy has its benefits. There are other ways of improving. One is education which improves the value of workers. And an economic slowdown may indicate that there are forces at work which tend to obstruct progress.

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