Friday, March 20, 2009

An Economist's Summa Theologiae & the AIG Principle of Double Effect

Not that he is attempting to mimic Thomas Aquinas, but Paul Krugman speaks to the gray necessity of sometimes employing a circumscribed evil to redeem some sort of good:
Preliminary thoughts on the tax bill:

1. It’s not the way you should make policy — it’s clumsy, and it will punish some innocent parties while letting the most guilty off scot-free

2. But — there wasn’t much alternative at this point. And for that I blame the Obama people ....

This was bad analysis, bad policy, and terrible politics. This administration, elected on the promise of change, has already managed, in an astonishingly short time, to create the impression that it’s owned by the wheeler-dealers. And that leaves it with no ability to counter crude populism.
I think that the ambivalence that the Obama people have shown towards populism going back to the campaign has boxed them into a corner of appearing to defend corporate interests. Their biggest challenge in the face of rising popular resentment is to develop a chastened populism that does not encourage pitchforks and torches, but also succeeds as a substantive advocate for ordinary Americans who will never see a bonus in their lives, let alone a government subsided bonus.

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