Zachary Antoyan is a political science junior and Mustang Daily liberal columnist.
Since we know that the rules to the game that is the economy change constantly, that some people don’t even play by these rules (hint: China) and that the market is as unpredictable as the pesto at VG’s, how the hell is the government supposed to earn a buck around here?
We know that in addition to generating “dollah dollah bills” to spend on public works, social security and drone strikes (ZING), the federal government can also maintain some semblance of economic fairness (notice I didn’t say equality) among its constituents. In the event you have one group attempting to cheat the rules or take advantage of others, we place regulations to prevent unfair situations such as monopolies. Yeah, it turns out the cane, top-hat and monocle are just there to prevent you from seeing the devil horns. The role our government plays in the economy is the balancing act between trying to earn more money and making it simple for its citizens to do the same.
Allow me a moment to lay down some history (this is very rudimentary, so take it with a grain of salt).
Once upon a time (and also these days) there were two significant economic policy theories. One followed the groundwork laid out by men such as Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say, who believed one must spend currency to acquire currency. This theory’s hero was John Maynard Keynes, who wielded the power of the “animal spirit” and proclaimed that with these spirits we can control our monies, and there was much rejoicing. The other theory was based in a system that was, and is, considered to be the best — a free market. But instead of spending some to get some, Friedrich Hayek tells us we should save money, avoid taking any risk in investments and deregulate our government’s role in the economy. It wasn’t a terribly new idea, but there was much rejoicing anyway – although spending was limited so you had to bring your own cups. Both quested to save the realm with their theory, and … both failed.
I know that on its face, this looks to be a classic case of having a regulated versus a deregulated economy, but I assure you it is much more complicated than that. We are not arguing over what system works best because, frankly, neither works best. I can say that framing economic policy after either one of these theories won’t work because in the long run, neither has proven itself to do what they set out to do. Much like my New Year’s resolutions, these theories may work for short periods, but ultimately crumble, the result of an ever changing market and tears. Both systems encourage action that, for the action to be successful, depends on the market to act a certain way. Both theories depend on specific market action, thus it is safe to say neither is going to be correct 100 percent of the time and that the government cannot employ any one specific action (or lack thereof in the case of the laissez-faire conservative).
Regardless of whether we are willing to accept it, the social/economic stratification in the United States has recently reached abysmal points and so far we have only started to crawl out of the primordial muck that was the recession. We have seen that allowing the invisible hand of the market to control economic policy has simply made those at the top more powerful and more wealthy. This invisible hand, the supposed stabilizing factor in a free market, oftentimes can be taken advantage of, and manipulated by, those who wish to bend the rules to their favor. The role of the government is not to facilitate this. Economic policy can help in raising the floor instead of the ceiling, effectively giving the metaphorical invisible hand a swift metaphorical kick in the ass. This is not to say a massive stimulus package is the perfect answer, but providing for the effects of the hand, entropic humans and a volatile market is better than allowing the market and agents inside of it to run willy-nilly. A more active government has now become a necessity, and whether we like it or not, we need it to provide economic protection from external influences as well as homegrown cases of stupidity.
An example of this: patent trolls, hanging under bridges, buying patents and suing everyone. Stop that, you trolls. What really needs to happen, instead of letting the hand do its thing, is we need to use that hand, wear it like a glove and challenge the patent trolls to a duel! Damn trolls.
This is Zachary Antoyan, being told how many seconds he could survive being chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor. Four. Four seconds. Have a fantastic week.