c的笔记本对《Economics of Everyday Life》的笔记(1)

Economics of Everyday Life
  • 书名: Economics of Everyday Life
  • 作者: Gertrude Williams
  • 出版年: 1955
  • CHAPTER 2 PRICE ECONOMY AND PLANNED ECONOMY

    When we try to compare the two systems we have to remember that the issues are not purely economic; they also involve our ideas of what constitutes a 'good society', and it is in determining what we mean by 'fair' and 'reasonable' and 'just' that the main difficulties arise. The following section is an attempt to state some of the considerations that must be taken into account in deciding which of the two we prefer. 1. At first sight it seems that the price system ensures that goods are distributed most economically because they go to the people who want them most. The keener you are to have a thing, the more you are to be able to buy it, scarce goods presumably will get into the hands of those who really want them. But one of the greatest bothers about this is that the same price means such different things to all of us; it depends on the size of our income and number of people who are dependent on us. ..... So that if we leave everything to prices the rich man's whims will be attended to before the more urgent wants of the man with a smaller income. The building industry, for example, will find it more profitable to build week-end cottages for the rich man who has already got one or two houses to live in than homes for the worker who has nowhere to live. 2. On the other hand, one has to remember that what may seem to be strictly equal treatment (as, for example, when each person has a ration allotted to him) may be just as unfair as the effect of prices just just discussed. In order to ensure that the quantity allowed to each person by a quantitative ration is available, the production of other commodities has to be curtailed. Suppose that I dislike meat and bacon, and would prefer, if left free to choose, to spend my money on Cheshire cheese and oranges. Under the rationing system I seem to be getting as fair a share of good suppliers as anybody else but, in fact, I am not. I get the same weight of food but it represents less satisfaction to me than it does to those who happen to like these foods best. ... 3. But, another point. Is it really fair to say, as I have done here, that sharing through the medium of prices is 'admittedly unequal'? The inequality is not due to the fact that we get our share by buying it, but to the fact that we have unequal money incomes. If we all had the same amount of money to spend nobody would think it unfair that some of us were prepared to pay more for beef and others more for mutton. All that the price system does is to translate our unequal money incomes into unequal shares of consumable goods and what we are, in fact, complaining about is not the price system but the inequality of incomes. But, as was pointed out above, our judgements about our economic organisations are not based on purely economic grounds, and we often criticise part of our economic set-up for social rather than economic reasons.Even if we don't want complete equality we shrink from allowing differences in income to have their full effect on the life of the individual citizen. ... in the last half-century or so, a larger and larger part of the wealth of the community has been shared out amongst its members on the basis of their common citizenship, rather than according to the size of their incomes. Education, health services, housing and many other common services fall into this category; and the more accustomed we become to getting a share of goods and services on this civic basis, the readier we grow to criticise the price system for not doing something that it was never intended to do, i.e. share everything out equally amongst us all. 4. Some people argue in favour of a planned economy that, as our productive resources are limited, we should use them first on necessities for all before we have any luxuries. The problem here is to decide what is a luxury and what is a necessity. ... 5. ... 6. ... The great advantage of a price system is that it enables each person to make his own individual assessment of the relative 'essentialness' of things to him, to judge for himself which of his comparative luxuries he would prefer to give up, and how much of each he would prefer to give up, in order to get for himself more of the things he values more lightly.

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