Friday, October 20, 2006

Who Wins in the End?

So who wins in the end? Maybe from what I have written, a conclusion might be reached that I am a strong supporter of governmental intervention. But, again, no thanks. I am aware that human beings, for some unknown reason, tend to go to extremes and will always be extremists when not prevented. “Something in between”, or an elaborate combination between poles, is impossible to get. In terms of marcoeconomics management, all kinds of combination have finally failed in the sense that the “in between” thing fell into either extreme. The US adjusted economy, the mixed economy in Britain and part of Western Europe, all has turned closer to a model in which corporate sector is put under the command of government. Once the government plays an important role in the national economy, they will have the tendency to swell out instead of shrinking.

This is true even in micro cases, that is in corporate manegement, and I say this from what I have seen right here in my office. I work in a small television station, “an online and cable television company” as many of us should like to put it out of true or false pride. Theoretically, a television is devided into two sectors, the input and the output. The input sector, or the production sector, comprises subsectors dealing with sight, sound, and text… well, it needs not be too detailed. The output sector includes many subsectors, say, marketing, sale, broadcast (on-air and online), after sale, etc. To make sure the system work well, there certainly must be a supportive sector in charge of supporting production teams and broadcast teams.

I see in here the similarity with a much larger macro system. The input sector in our television is similar to the corporate sector in the economy, the audiences play the part of customers and prospects, and the supportive sector - the miniature copy of a real-life government. Based on market needs, production sector produces and provides products and services, and the output sector will have them consumed. TV producers and editors, based on what audiences need, shall produce TV programs, then the output sector makes them available for sale, while the supportive sector serves as assistants. My boss has many times said to us, “I hereby emphasize, once more, that the supportive sector is in charge of supporting production staffs”.

However, ignorant as many of us are, we see without any suspicion that whenever we ask for support from the supportive sector, we should be cautious about using words. We should be very careful before saying or writing anything, because any misuse of word may lead to unpleasant consequence(s). Sponaneously and automatically, all of us use very courteous words, sometimes more courteous than needed, say, “my very dear Miss…”, “would you please grant us the favour of…”, “oooh, thank you a lot, dear”, and so on. We must avoid annoying them, we can’t do so or else we will face tough “embargo” not just from them - we might suffer from embargo even from other teams of production; we might be isolated.

I appreciate politeness, and I would be very happy to live in a place, or a community, where people treat each other as if they all are honourable guests. However, I doubt that all the politeness I see is true. The doubt grows bigger as I see the supportive sector grows more and more aware of their responsiblities. They don’t just support us in our work, some of them would rather think for us, too. No matter what we might say, things are unchanged. Corruption, or "crony capitalism", has therefore become an indispensable part of such system.

Come back to the story of "the battle between government and market". To have a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of governmental intervention into economies, a good way for us is to look at and make comparison between liberal and planned model of management. We have in hand an index to measure, or more precisely, to let us know how much a government intervenes or give loose to the economy, that is the Index of Economic Freedom, IEF.

More concepts and words are needed to discuss on this index. However, when looking at charts showing economic freedom and indicators that it entails, we can see that countries and territories standing top-list are more likely to be wealthier ones - Hongkong, Singapore, Ireland, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, United States of America. And bottom-listed economies, meaning under tight control - Zimbabwe for instance, are often poor ones, or at least their people prove to be less satisfied and less open-minded than the westerners.

Anyway, wealth and equality are not necessarily going together. Equality does not go with poverty, either.

We can argue, with firm belief, that the government takes the responsibility, not the right, of supporting the corporate sector. But it is really hard for them to stay just there. They will unavoidably identify responsibility with right. In fact, it is easy to identify the responsibility of managing and allocating limited resources with the right and power of taking command. It is nearly likely that power will always swell out more and more. After all, government is just a group of ordinary people whose greed and thirst for power are inherent and hereditary characteristics. What can we expect from ordinary people? The non-stop melody keeps repeating itself. "How much power is enough?" "I want that power, yes, that's good enough, plus a bit more."

So who will win in the end? I don’t know. I am not a dissident. I need, and will always need intervention from a “third party” to guarantee equality in allocating sources, in providing support, and so on. The problem is, as we have seen, that third party has never restricted their roles to just “support”. The solution to this problem is still a secret. Maybe with this secret, our life becomes more significant and interesting, doesn't it? Who knows? Life is always a struggle, sometimes a hard choice.

Forgive me making a lot of spelling and syntax errors. The illustrative picture is a painting by my favourite artist Kandinsky. There's no specific link between the illustration and the writing.

Remember, please, that I am not a political thinker, either. No, thanks. I'd rather stay on the ground, listening to music playing in my head.