Ch 21 - Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy

Ch 21 - Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy - Ch 21...

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Ch. 21 Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy 1
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Overview Should we export pollution and import kidneys? – Economics and Ethics Exploitation Meddlesome Preferences Fair and Equal Treatment Cultural Goods and Paternalism Poverty, Inequality, and the Distribution of Income Rawl’s Maximin Utilitarianism Nozick’s Entitlement Theory Who Counts? 2
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Economics and Ethics In this class, we have argued that the following would increase efficiency/gains from trade (Positive Economics): Legalize trade in kidneys and narcotics (Gary Becker) Abolishing the minimum wage (Milton Friedman) Exporting pollution to lower-income countries (Larry Summers) But should maximizing efficiency be the primary guide for our public policy? (Normative Economics) 3
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Exploitation “Trade in good X (kidneys, sex, etc.) is wrong because it is always the poor person who is selling.” Which of the following do you consider exploitative? Someone asking you to donate a kidney? Someone offering you $5000 for a kidney? Someone offering you $500,000 for a kidney? 4
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Exploitation Taken to the extreme, does this argument imply that it is unethical to buy anything from poor people (perhaps at a price below what a wealthier person would accept)? And if the argument is related to the level of risk inherent in the transaction, what about Kidney donations ? Legal professions with high mortality rates? “The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.” – Joan Robinson 5
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Meddlesome Preferences Preferences about other people’s actions, even when those actions do not affect your own. “I think don’t like it and believe that it’s wrong for people to . . . “Donate kidneys.” “Eat horsemeat.” “Marry people of the same sex.” At some level of approval (or disapproval), do meddlesome preferences become cultural norms?
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