Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On rewards

It is more just to reward effort, even if it cannot be proven to benefit the least affluent, than it is to reward the least affluent even if they exert little effort to improve their status. Moral superiority does not entail punishing the industrious wealthy to sustain the indolent poor.

-- Robert A. Levy
Chairman, Cato Institute

The matter addressed above by Robert Levy in “Cato Policy Report” (Mar/Apr 2012) becomes even more important when considered in view of public policies that encourage indolence—rather than industry—amongst those in need. This concern is multiplied when public policies also seem bent upon punishing without mercy those who prove themselves industrious or in possession of wealth.

Surely such madness is on the very brink of national suicide in the name of benevolence (falsely so-called).

1 comment:

James Armstrong said...

A response from the right:

"[The function of the price system] is not so much to reward people for what they have done as to tell them what in their own as well as in general interest they ought to do. [...] To hold out a sufficient incentive for those movements which are required to maintain a market order, it will often be necessary that the return to people’s efforts do not correspond to recognizable merit […] In a spontaneous order the question of whether or not someone has done the ‘right’ thing cannot always be a matter of merit." - F. A. Hayek

And, from the left:

"It seems to be one of the fixed points of our considered judgements that no one deserves his place in the distribution of native endowments, any more than one deserves one’s initial starting place in society. The assertion that a man deserves the superior character that enables him to make the effort to cultivate his abilities is equally problematic; for his character depends in large part upon fortunate family and social circumstances for which he can claim no credit. The notion of desert seems not to apply in these cases." - John Rawls, Theory of Justice