About John Lilburne
2158 K Mon 22 Jul 2002
I watched 4 Corners on TV tonight. Chris Masters interviewed
police involved in corruption. It was a good insight into the
pressures and thinking that lead to the corrupt practices.
These problems are also addressed in a book I have started
reading today: Economics - A New Introduction by Hugh
Stretton. I am particularly impressed by this section:
Some built-in individual and social morality is a necessary
condition of almost any economic system. It is specially necessary
to the efficiency of a complicated, pluralist, market economy.
Such a decentralized system, with millions of daily actions and
transactions, has to rely on most of the people most of the time
willingly behaving themselves: telling the truth, giving fair
measure, keeping promises and contracts, observing customary
obligations, working reliably, cooperating sensibly, not cheating
Those requirements certainly have to be reinforced by formal
law and enforcement, or the bad will prey on the good and the
good be diverted from production to self-defence, to the point
of anarchy and breakdown. But it is a great mistake to conclude
from this hard fact of life that legal enforcement will work
without a social morality. It is impossible to supervise
all or most of a modern society's actions and transactions; and
if it were possible, what would guarantee the honesty
of such an army of supervisors? If everybody including the police
and government will steal whenever they can get away with it,
then they will mostly get away with it, and there will be very
little economic efficiency. 'Internal' morality and 'external'
enforcement are necessary to each other, and both are necessary
conditions of orderly society. Law enforcement cannot replace
a substantial social morality.
On the contrary, its function is to reinforce the morality
and protect the people who abide by it - as most people most
of the time in most societies want to do.
There is a simple reason why voluntary or customary good behavior
helps economic efficiency: it is cheap. Bad behavior has costs,
and institutional measure to prevent it have costs. ...
It highlights to me the importance of the Roman Rite's liturgical
laws. Most people would want to follow them, but somehow there
are pressures so that many do not. By observing Canon 846 and
faithfully following the liturgical books there would be greater
efficiency for the Catholic Church. By failing to do this this
is a loss of trust and culture of corruption develops.
Posted by J.R. Lilburne, 22 July 2002. Extract from Hugh
Stretton, "Economics - a new introduction", UNSW Press,
2000, pages 165 - 166.
Corners "Undoing the Badness"