Monday, April 05, 2010

On Change and Government

The free market is in a state of constant flux. Bureaucracies are comparatively static. So, why do we associate "change" with the growth of government?

The psychology of the association is simple to explain. We tend to give words and notice to those things that deviate from the norm. If you were trapped in a dank hole, a pin prick of light from the sun would be seen as a brilliant light. Meanwhile the inadequate shade of a saguaro is glorious shade in the mid summer Arizona sun.

There is a tendency to notice the deviation from the norm. A poet will write about the brilliant lights in a place that is comparatively dark and the shade in areas of excessive sun.

Back to the question of government and change: Change is the norm in the free market. Businesses seeking stability are apt to solicit government favor to shield their business from change. The public discourse is dominated by businesses seeking stability.

Bureaucracies are comparatively stagnate. Inducing change in a government agency requires public discourse about change to induce action.

If one takes public discourse into isolation, as is done in the academic world, one might end up associating businesses and the free market with stagnation and government bureaucracies with change.

History seems to show that free market reforms tend to lead to greater change (and, dare I say, social justice) than increased bureaucracy. The norm has a greater impact than the deviation from the norm.

Of course, "Change®" is often used as a slogan or brand in political discourse. It is a mistake to read anything into the name beyond the brand.

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