Should we judge governments on economic performance
Debate Rounds (3)
If the economy improves it is reported the government has done a good job.
Economic factors are increasingly becoming more and more significant in affecting public perception.
This is having knock on effects for government decision making which is less being based upon ideology and more upon electoral standing.
I feel other indicators of performance should also be given more weight in the news when we assess government performance i.e. happiness index, the standard of living, and general polls based on our opinions.
I believe this because I do not think a growing economy is the be-all-and-end-all of what a government should be there for. And if that government feels they are judged more on economic growth than anything else, then that is what we'll receive but it could come at the loss of other less tangible qualities that are much more important and that we might only miss once they're gone.
Your statement: ('I feel other indicators of performance should also be given more weight in the news when we assess government performance i.e. happiness index, the standard of living, and general polls based on our opinions')
This is all tied into the economy.
('I believe this because I do not think a growing economy is the be-all-and-end-all of what a government should be there for. And if that government feels they are judged more on economic growth than anything else, then that is what we'll receive but it could come at the loss of other less tangible qualities that are much more important and that we might only miss once they're gone')
Who do we pay our taxes to? The Government. They are responsible for distribution of our taxes into the country and they also make decisions when it comes to how a country can import and export. Everything revolves around the Government and it's decisions as leaders of a country. When it comes to the economy; a good one needs a country to have employment for it's residents, and that will enable people to pay their debts to the banks etc. which in turn also helps the country to pay it's debt. For this to happen many things need to be decided upon. For instance the basic educational system, and how the Government provides for people who may not come from fortunate backgrounds so that it has equality in the country. Subsidizing training or offering tax incentives to business to offer training to those who may need skills to be entrepreneurs etc.
One could also argue that Governments are responsible for peace and well being in the country. Relations with other countries are important for any economy because being able to export brings in a lot of funds.
Let me ask you a question. Looking at the state of Zimbabwe in recent years, would you blame the Government and Robert Mugabe for the state of the country and the economy or not?
I am not in anyway saying that it is the sole way in which we judge, but it's high up on the list.
Some services are not beneficial to the economy but are beneficial to the people and so if removed the people are worse off, but the government could still be praised. To give an example, buses and postal services have to run to far to reach areas, and not just to the popular, profitable areas, because it is very beneficial to society but not to the company.
If we applied that to the government can you imagine the problems it would cause in the long run. Hospitals and schools would be run even more tightly on costs and not just all-round health and education. Gov't would do the bare minimum and become a profit maximiser.
Why would this happen? Because the political system is market based. We exchange votes for policies and if we believe that economic performance is the sign of a good government then we'll vote for them consistently.
If we put less emphasis on the economy, and more on other factors such as all-round well being, and welfare of the whole population, and not just money we'd be a much richer society as a whole.
Take Sweden for example, they're not topping growth statistics but their way of living and government system is admired across the world simply because they see the big picture and don't put as much emphasis on the economy.
'Take Sweden for example, they're not topping growth statistics but their way of living and government system is admired across the world simply because they see the big picture and don't put as much emphasis on the economy'
I haven't said that it's all a Government should be judged by. Sweden isn't exactly a country overly oppressed by poverty and crime. The economy plays a part in the statistics of crime and poverty of a country. Trade in the country and paying of debt is what influences the economy and there is a regulator. The regulators are in Government. They even control what private companies do to a degree.
Take another example. China and it's environmental crises that affects the economy. Who is responsible for the environment and the regulation of labour conditions in a country as a whole? The Government is.
The Government also does actually have state hospitals, postal services and buses as well as there are private owned companies. What Government is supposed to do also, is create a solution for residents who are poor for instance. So we have cheaper avenues and services for those people. That may not have a direct link to the economy; but it does oversee a very large part in the operation and well being of a country. When it comes to voting, it's safe to be in favour of a leadership who is economically successful to an extent. Poverty and economic struggle in a country affect everybody and it influences crime.
Do you think Ethiopia could have been a better place for the poor if the leadership had tried harder to teach people to grow their own food and cultivate as they are doing now by help of other countries missionaries etc?
I wanted to argue on how we should judge our governments. With my argument being that there should be less emphasis put on economics (which I feel is growing as peoples key indicator) because voting is a market based transaction whereby we exchange votes for policies, and if politicians believe that economic growth is the key to votes they'll focus on that solely and that's damaging.
We see this a lot when we argue over welfare benefits saying we cannot "afford it", and we reduce welfare payments by say "5 pounds per week, reducing the overall government deficit by a marginal amount but absolutely destroys people as a result; leading them to crime in extreme instances.
Of course it's not to say the economy isn't important, it's a crucial foundation - but that's it - a foundation. There is so much more to try and achieve than just wealth.
Zimbabwe is an example I wouldn"t put in this debate. The country is run by a dictator neither focused on the economy or his people.
I agree with you, China"s government is responsible for the environment! Yet they put economic growth above that fact. If the Chinese were less focused on growth they might focus on the environment more. I spent last summer in Shanghai and the air pollution is at hazardous levels, you literally walk down the street and you don"t want to breathe through your mouth at times. All this being said, using China as an example isn"t really relevant either because they don"t vote like we do.
An example I would put to you is health care in the US. Something which certainly won't directly help the economy (although may do if people can work more), but drastically helps the lives physically and psychologically of those who previously couldn't afford health insurance.
As said previously, economics are a foundation that we just expect. But I strongly feel we judge governments too much on this.
Your last point is puzzling. Any government which wants to help the poor is a good thing.
Ultimately, I would say look at pressure groups and there emergence recently. If we don't like something pressure groups address it. Yet, how many pressure groups are focused on economics.
When judging something as important as a countries Government, I'd say there is a balance of things we would consider. Since the question you asking is limited to yes or no ultimately and since the Government is involved in aspects of the economy, we don't have a choice but to judge them on their performance in this regard where it fits.
Also a Government is a group of leaders and it consists of members of different parties sometimes. People get chairs in Parliament who represent other parties but all strive to work together in Government even if the main party and President represents one party. When we vote, we vote for a party and we most certainly judge their performance but there may be a majority vote for a party that has had no performance or perhaps not a lot of performance in the leadership of a country but they able to influence the public in order to get majority votes. But does that mean we neglect to consider the current leading presidential party and their performance in all aspects including economy wise?
Like I said before; when it comes to importing and exporting which is a very huge influence on an economy and what deals a country makes with other leaders of countries; this is something that lays on the top level of Government.
In answer to what you have said here:
'Zimbabwe is an example I wouldn't put in this debate. The country is run by a dictator neither focused on the economy or his people'
Whether he is focused on the economy or not; is something we would judge his performance on. There are many things that cause the economy to crash. One would be violence. So even if a leader is responsible for a war for instance, or contributes to his countries financial problems - we would of course take that into account.
'An example I would put to you is health care in the US. Something which certainly won't directly help the economy (although may do if people can work more), but drastically helps the lives physically and psychologically of those who previously couldn't afford health insurance'
Obama's healthcare is going to come at a price. There are always conditions attached that may not actually benefit ALL the people in the end.
I agree that we don't judge a Government solely on economic factors and performance but that is not the question you asked. I still say if the Government is involved in aspects of the economy which they are; we have no alternative but to judge them on their performance ALSO in this regard.
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