Philosophy of Liberation

sethmcdonough:

Note-A relatively brief glimpse into the complex issues involved in such a discussion. More to come? Perhaps.

Delivered in an articulate and coherent manner, departing Mayor Michael Bloomberg shared his thoughts on the direction that Cities across the country ought to take to better the futures…

Michael Bloomberg’s ‘Sleight-of-Hand’, and The Rise of the Dreaded Labor-Electoral College

Note-A relatively brief glimpse into the complex issues involved in such a discussion. More to come? Perhaps.

Delivered in an articulate and coherent manner, departing Mayor Michael Bloomberg shared his thoughts on the direction that Cities across the country ought to take to better the futures of, presumably, all its citizens. In an attempted heart-felt manner, he discussed the supposed short-sightedness of government, thereby undermining its responsibility to have an eye toward its constituent’s futures. The reasoning employed is an insult to your basic syllogism, and is accomplished by a verbal ‘sleight-of-hand’.

The argument runs thusly:

  1. We can all agree that the future is important.
  2. It is Government’s responsibility to work for the betterment of people’s futures, and persevere through all obstacles.
  3. Pensions are obstacles. 
  4. Therefore Government ought to reduce payments to pensions. i.e. “We must invest in your future by divesting in your future.”

Hmmm….

He supports his position by citing that NYC, essentially, pays more into  pensions and healthcare benefits than some other cities, and that NYC ought to follow suit. Those holding such a position argue that it is precisely the attempts at creating stable financial futures for workers via pensions and health-benefits that pose the current greatest obstacle toward financial solvency of cities, thereby actually creating instability in the financial lives of the workers. Oops! Silly Government.

Help! What do we do Michael?! Predictably, he proposes that at the heart of it, we ought to follow the wisdom of the market.  Ahhh, the beloved market, where all dreams of the heart and mind come true. Only a man knowing understanding how God works could provide such guidance [see Bloomberg on Dasani, God’s workings, and homelessness]. 

The market, as is typically desired by those politically persuaded toward The Right, would be totally unencumbered by the supposed short-sighted regulatory efforts of government. Those supposed short-sighted efforts, such as payments into workers’ futures (“future”=”short sighted”. Paradoxical, no?), actually jeopardize their futures. The problem is that markets, as so construed, can not be an intentional means of obtaining a particular end, precisely because it leaves open the question of what is to be valued and what steps we, as a collective body, ought to take to achieve such an end. It reduces to being the practical equivalent of ‘planning by not-planning’. That doesn’t sound too promising.

All persons can likely agree with Bloomberg’s claim that the future is important, and needs consideration and investment. One problem, amongst many, is that there are many in our society who have, in some instances, no such means of doing so, whether they’re unemployed, underpaid, etc. Furthermore, there are many who have no means of obtaining temporary help from others, such as friends or family to get through tough times, as many of us do. Would the market be the best means of improving their lives, and workers in general?

The discussion will forever be confused if economics is thought to be a ‘science’, and separate and distinct from normative discussions. Economics is a subset, so to speak, of our common notions of morality and ethics. Phrased another way, we restrict what we consider to be appropriate ways of earning money, or doing business, by that which accords with our social-values. We can all agree, for example, that human trafficking shouldn’t be tolerated as a legitimate business in our constitutional democracy (or anywhere else, for that matter).

So to what extent can we be assured that our social values are upheld when we determine the dealings of business to be guided by an amoral entity such as the free-market? The perception of our current economic crisis is desperately trying to be shaped by framing the discussion in an ahistorical fashion, and leaves out the great strides towards decent working conditions, pay, opportunities for education and self-improvement etc. that has been fought for over the last hundred-plus years, especially, which constituted a departure from a laissez-faire style of doing business. 

If Government is to be an example of an appropriate response to our current socio-economic problems, as Bloomberg suggests, we ought to set out to strengthen and expand legislation that guarantees the financial future of its constituents via investments into pensions, health benefits and the like at the Federal level, for all workers. Bloomberg and other Mayors of such a political stance desire to wrestle away power from the Federal level so as to be able to pit one municipality against another, thereby establishing a race to the bottom. Very cleverly, our sense of justice and human dignity is used against us by citing that public employees often have greater benefits than do private sector employees, then, bafflingly, suggest that rather than expanding these safeguards, we ought to dismantle them and follow in the footsteps of the private sector. 

In conclusion, we are led to believe that the way towards a more stable financial situation is to weaken, and eventually abandon, that which we currently have in place and let it come back to us via the free market. Hopefully.

Hmmm….Doesn’t sound too promising.