Thursday, March 05, 2009
Sticking my oar in
Last night's Moral Maze provoked two reactions in me.Firstly, Michael Buerk opened by asking the panel if they were worth what they earnt. Of course, most of them answered in the negative. But this is a fallacy: the market does not value people in themselves, it values their labour. Much like science makes no claims about morality, so economics makes no claims about teleological value: in plainer English, the cleaner's labour is valued differently from Wayne Rooney's, not the cleaner's person. As long as we commit the error of defining ourselves by our work, we shall never appreciate labour market valuations. On a programme dealing with morality, this seems to me a fairly basic error to make.Secondly, I always listen with trepidation to people who have some bright new idea by which to order society, whether it be red Toryism or social corporatism or any of the other -isms which exist and are not founded, ultimately, in people just being people and others not sticking their oar in at every available opportunity. I worry, because the question I never hear asked is, "How forceful are you prepared to be against someone who wants to opt out of your system?" The answer we never hear to the question we never ask would tell us an awful lot about a system we ought never to adopt.