Friday, July 06, 2007

Political Quiz

I used to call myself a liberal when it comes to personal freedoms and a conservative when it comes to economic freedoms. I found out this position is called a libertarian, but I also realized I'm in fact NOT one.

In most cases I believe in individual responsibility, and I'm against policies that don't give people (and companies) enough incentives to work and improve their life standards (or efficiency). But there are important exceptions where people don't have enough information, where they don't make rational decisions even when they do have the information, and their choices may have important externalities on the society. Nick Barr's class on Economics of Social Policy made me recognize these cases and converted me from an American-educated free market advocate into a centrist, if not a liberal. Sometimes private insurance leaves large groups in the society uninsured, as in the case of health insurance. Similarly, if student loans were left to markets alone, many students would not be able to receive them. Discretionary subsidies to businesses cannot be justified, but businesses may need government encouragement to increase their R&D spending.

In matters of personal freedoms too, I believe in individual responsibility and choice as long as they don't interfere with or harm others' lives. Based on this basic principle, I would argue for gay rights, but I would be against free possession and use of drugs. High demand for drugs will push poor groups in the society to become suppliers. A system that punishes poor suppliers while protecting rich demanders makes no sense to me. I'm also against free possession of guns.

I took this quiz and found out that my views make me a centrist leaning left.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I`m centrist according to the quiz.