“Because, that is just the way it is,” we are told. The ‘way it is’, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that it is how it should be. Or, we hear, “Because, that is the way it has always been.” It’s too late to change the ‘always has been’ part, but just because we have always done something a certain way doesn’t mean that is how it should be done. The proper response to both of the two axioms is, “How should it be?” A third reason/axiom often proffered is, “That is how it is supposed to be.” For this one; “Says who?”
Economics and politics are history’s leading characters. The three, economics, politics, and history, are inextricably linked. Given that politics is the art or science of government; the ‘politics’ character sometimes goes by the name, ‘government’.
A government is the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization. In its more primitive forms, this body of persons may include representatives of the army and the church to varying extents. In true democracies, this body is made up of representatives elected by the people; excludes the army and the church.
Good governance implies good economics. It is hard to imagine that a good government could exist very long without a good economic model. We do see bad governments resort to force in order to sustain or impose a bad economic model. Sometimes we see a bad authoritarian government coupled with a good or decent economic model.
Given that politics is defined as the art or science of government, and that government is defined as being the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization; let us first ask, “what should a good government do, and not do?” Government has evolved, so has its role. Today, a good government would provide its citizens economic and personal security including fair and equitable access to certain public goods and services. These goods and services include access to education, healthcare, affordable housing, etc. A good government would not deny individual rights unless the exercising thereof infringed on the rights of others. A good government is a government that does those things it should do, and not those it shouldn’t.
What should a good economy do? A good economy would efficiently produce and equitably distribute the requisite goods for a society whilst all the while giving utmost consideration to human welfare and to the protection of the natural environment.
It does seem more than passingly strange that in this an era of great innovation we too seldom hear, “What should an economy do?” or “What should the government do?”. We do often hear, “This is the way it has always been.”, “That is just the way it is.”, and “That is how it is supposed to be.” This, when innovation is all about asking, “How should it be.” We have not come this far by doing things the way we have always done them.