Thursday, April 26, 2012

Choose one

I was reading up on the impossible trinity this week and it got me thinking about the trade-offs people have to make in public policy choices. Sometimes there are win-wins solutions, where two positive policies compliment each other, but in these cases only one is possible.

I'm reminded of my liberal friends who admire the successful social safety net in Scandinavian countries and want to bring that system here, but leave out the xenophobic immigration restrictions. The two are joined at the hip and one doesn't work without the other.

For each of the following items, remember that you can't have both. Choose one:

Unrestricted immigration or A generous welfare state.

Absolute safety and security or Civil rights.

Human rights or Multiculturalism and respect for other cultures

Free speech or Peace from hateful commentators.

Health insurance that covers all expenses or Low-cost health insurance.

Free markets or Consumer safety regulations.

Guaranteed safe workplaces or Minimal restrictions to businesses.

Organized labor or A labor force free of cartels

Insurance coverage of pre-existing medical conditions or the right not to buy health insurance.

Firearms for personal protection or Disarmed criminals.

Religious freedom or Protection from cults.

Fewer preventable deaths or Freedom to eat, smoke and drink.

Racial indifference or Celebration of diversity

Low prices during disasters or Readily-available supplies during disasters.

Most of the items in the list are good things to have. It's an absolute shame that we can't, for example, exercise full precautions against terrorism without sacrificing our personal freedoms. The important thing is not to throw up our hands in frustration, but instead to choose the one we value the most.

1 comment:

  1. Of course, some of these aren't really doable.

    In particular,"Firearms for personal protection or Disarmed criminals".

    This sort of thing assumes that laws preventing criminals from getting weapons will be respected more than the laws we already have against violence. The same goes for things like security vs civil rights.

    I'm not disagreeing with you, you are exactly right. I just wanted to sat that in many cases, even if these choices were made, the result is likely to be giving up one thing and still not getting the other.

    Nice post though.