Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).
And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were. I will also suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation.
It might also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked.
Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them.
The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. To date, the threads are:
Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
*Proposition #9: * Controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment.
SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Disagree.
A very telling proposition indeed, I feel. Put simply (perhaps oversimply), the theory goes like this: Unemployment can never actually reach zero, because of people either between jobs, unable/unwilling to work, retraining due to obsolete skills, and other sources of such “residual unemployment”. However, the lower unemployment goes, the less competition there is for jobs, putting workers in the driving seat as regards their relationship with their employer. Hence, workers can demand wage-rises which employers are obliged to accede to given the workers’ increased indispensibility, pushing up inflation. Inflation, the theory goes, devalues those same workers’ pensions and savings (not to mention the assets of the rich) and so the workers are served better, say some, by making them compete for jobs like dogs in a pit. And so, interest rate rises (which are known to throw people out of work) are used in order to control inflation. As a ballpark figure, an unemployment rate of around 4% of the viable workforce is usually considered “too low”, leading the government to increase interest rates.
But hold on a moment. Does that mean that we are deliberately loading all of the suffering onto a few poor bastards who have to endure the hell of losing the income they depend on, all for the sake of the value of pensions, savings and assets? Are we melodramatically warning of the danger inflation poses to workers’ pensions and savings, when many of them are in such crushing debt that a good bout of inflation would probably do them good?
Of course, too little attention to the simmering pot of the economy can lead to hyper-inflation and an Argentinian mess all over the kitchen, and that very definitely is bad for everybody. But a climate of medium inflation is simply not the nightmare one might have been led to believe given the lifestyle benefits of increased job security. Indeed, if you were to ask me whether I would prefer:
a) an increased risk of losing my job, or
b) a decrease in the value of my assets,
then all things being reasonably equal I would plump for (b), as I think would many low or middle income earners.
High earners on the other hand (and indeed any corporate entity with significant assets) understandably recoil from (b) like an albino in sunlight, and they have the ear of the government to a far greater extent than the poor schmucks who might lose their job. And so, government policy is provisionally to keep unemployment above a roughly 4% threshold for “the common good”.
Now, I happen to disagree with this policy but, so long as there is adequate provision for these people who are effectively deliberately denied work, I might appreciate its reasoning. But to then hear people criticise these unfortunates for “slacking”, and see proposals for evermore drastic slashes at the social safety net so that “sloth is not rewarded” - Christ on a parliamentary subcommittee! The sheer gall of such hypocrisy astounds me.
This proposition represents another balancing act. Again, I feel that the very definite and immediate suffering caused to its victims outweighs the nebulous “suffering” caused by the decrease in value from inflation. Thus, at the very least, I would ascribe equal priority to the control of inflation and unemployment.