Okun Book Review

Okun Book Review - Okun Review: Bryan Baum Perfect equality...

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Okun Review: Bryan Baum Perfect equality and efficiency is any society is unattainable, thus we must find a tradeoff between the two. Okun argues that the pursuit of equality causes a great loss in efficiency through decreased incentives, less overall capital, and more governmental costs. On the other hand, we see the same thing as Okun asserts that, “the pursuit of efficiency necessarily creates inequalities”(25). Therefore we must find a way to increase equality as much as possible without sacrificing too much economic efficiency. Okun first discusses the argument over the domain of rights. He notes that while it may be more efficient to trade things like your right to vote you would be simultaneously trading away your freedom. Simply put some right can’t be sold because if you give away your vote you are essentially giving someone power over you. Okun also discusses the fact that most rights given to people have no adverse economic effect on society. Freedom of speech or freedom of religion doesn’t cost anything so it is easier to give away then making the government provide healthcare for all citizens because it would be economically inefficient. Okun then criticizes our “rights” in the political process, which he believes undermines equality. Lobbying and campaign contributions give certain groups of people an unfair advantage. When big companies give tons of money in support of a candidate it is usually because they are promised something in return if they are elected. Okun also believes that lobbying should be changed because special interest groups, whose beliefs do not necessarily benefit the entire society, do most of the petitioning. At the current state of affairs these cases make politics unfair. Thus Consumer groups need not only to be more knowledgeable, but also have more power.
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Okun introduces the idea of socialism and a collectivized society to see how it affects equality and efficiency. Changing the nation to socialism would effectively increase equality. However, it would severely harm efficiency, if everyone was making the same amount of money there would be no incentive to do the harder and riskier jobs. Okun decides that some of the qualities of capitalism are essential in having an efficient
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This essay was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Golub during the Spring '08 term at Swarthmore.

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Okun Book Review - Okun Review: Bryan Baum Perfect equality...

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