Tuesday, March 25, 2003

More on Gareth Morgan

Further to my comments the other day about business-page writers missing the point: underneath their mask of "economic rationality" are some pretty suspect moral premises. They are in effect saying that if someone waves a fat wad of cash at you and asks you to kill a random person somewhere in the world, you should do it, or at the very least cheer from the sidelines while they do it in front of you.

I think most New Zealanders (and even most economists) would find that moral position abhorrant, even sociopathic. But dress it up in some econospeak, and you can get fat men in suits to nod gravely and talk of how important it is not to let our economy get derailed by "moral grandstanding". These same people will then call for harsher penalties for murderers.

(In keeping with the traditions of ethics, I have used both analogy and a hypothetical situation to better illustrate the moral landscape. Supporters of the economic argument could challenge the analogy, but their best alternative, based on the idea that any killing involved would be wholly justified, is hardly persuasive either. Instead of our participation being analagous to being hitmen, we become hired executioners...)