A word on greed. . .
Mike Meyer
51

It’s interesting to blame cancer on the market/greed. Is cancer research a private good or a public good?

How much money was spent to put a man on the moon? How much money has been spent on the war on terror? How much money will the current government not spend on cancer research?

The point of the government is that the free-rider problem is a real problem. In other words, the point of the government is that the private sector drops the ball when it comes to public goods. The point of paying taxes is for the government to have the ball. Which is why it’s really amazing when people blame the private sector (ie greed) for dropping the ball.

I’m guessing that you’re concerned about cancer research? So… if you could choose where your taxes go you’d spend a decent chunk of your taxes on cancer research?

How many other people do you think would be in the same boat as you?

Let’s consider some possible complaints…

“There are too many people in the same boat as me!”

You’d complain about too much money being spent on cancer research? Then wouldn’t you simply exit from the boat? Sure, you could still complain… but it’s not like your tax dollars would be “wasted” on cancer research.

“There are just enough people in the same boat as me!”

Kinda hard to imagine you making this complaint.

“There aren’t enough people in the same boat as me!”

This would be a pretty reasonable complaint. Except, isn’t this your current complaint? But with the current system, it’s not like I can simply choose to spend more of my taxes on cancer research. The decision is really out of my hands. Because… you really don’t perceive the benefit of the decision being in my hands. You really don’t perceive the benefit of people being empowered to improve the public sector.

You see people as being greedy bastards… why? Because there are problems with public goods? Well… yeah of course there are problems with public goods. But you’re really barking up the wrong tree. Figure out why socialism fails and you’ll figure out why we still have cancer…

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” — John F. Kennedy, Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs

“However well balanced the general pattern of a nation’s life ought to be, there must at particular times be certain disturbances of the balance at the expense of other less vital tasks. If we do not succeed in bringing the German army as rapidly as possible to the rank of premier army in the world…then Germany will be lost!” — Adolf Hitler

“This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. ”— John F. Kennedy, Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs

Socialism really doesn’t let people decide for themselves, with their own money, which tasks are truly vital.