Quando um bem privado é ofertado como bem público, distorções acontecem.
Mariotti, Martine (2009): Labor Markets in South Africa During Apartheid. Unpublished.
Conventional wisdom holds that international political pressure and domestic civil unrest in the mid-1970s and 1980s brought an end to apartheid in South Africa. I show that, prior to these events, labor market pressure in the late 1960s/early 1970s caused a dramatic unraveling of apartheid in the workplace. Increased educational attainment among whites reduced resistance to opening semi-skilled jobs to Africans. This institutional change reflected white economic preferences rather than a relaxation of attitudes toward apartheid. I show that whites benefited from the relaxation of job reservation rules and that this is the primary cause of black occupational advancement.
Trechos de um bom texto de Sumner:
It is easy to find numerous examples of where common sense views differ from the economistic perspective. Some of these do not even involve empirical judgments, but rather seem to merely reflect logical errors. For instance, in Pop Internationalism Krugman pointed out that people often worry about a net loss of jobs both from U.S. investment flowing overseas, and from Americans buying foreign goods, even though (as a matter of accounting) both the current and capital accounts cannot be in deficit at the same time. (A U.S. trade deficit can only be financed by a capital account surplus.)
Sim, o velho tema de sempre. Mas este trecho é incrivelmente interessante:
Economic philosophers have also addressed this problem. Wilkerson (2005)noted that human brains evolved under conditions far different from the modern economy:
because of the social nature of hunting and gathering, the fact that food spoiled quickly, and the utter lack of privacy, the benefits of individual success in hunting and foraging could not be easily internalized by the individual, and were expected to be shared. The EEA [i.e. Stone Age] was for the most part a zero-sum world, where increases in total wealth through invention, investment, and extended economic exchange were totally unknown. More for you was less for me. Therefore, if anyone managed to acquire a great deal more than anyone else, that was pretty good evidence that theirs was a stash of ill-gotten gains . . . Our zero-sum mentality makes it hard for us to understand how trade and investment can increase the total amount of wealth. We are thus ill-equipped to easily understand our own economic system.
O original de Wilkerson nos fala de Psicologia Evolucionária (ou Evolutiva). O tema nos lembra de alguns de meus últimos posts aqui. Pois bem, vamos ao próprio Wilkerson então:
First, a word of caution: We cannot expect to draw any straightforward positive political lessons from evolutionary psychology. It can tell us something about the kind of society that will tend not to work, and why. But it cannot tell us which of the feasible forms of society we ought to aspire to. We cannot, it turns out, infer the naturalness of capitalism from the manifest failure of communism to accommodate human nature. Nor should we be tempted to infer that natural is better. Foraging half-naked for nuts and berries is natural, while the New York Stock Exchange and open-heart surgery would boggle our ancestors’ minds.
Logo, não se defende esta ou aquela ideologia. O foco é mais amplo. O trecho que Sumner citou vale ser completado aqui. Vamos a ele:
We are Envious Zero-sum Thinkers
Perhaps the most depressing lesson of evolutionary psychology for politics is found in its account of the deep-seated human capacity for envy and, related, of our difficulty in understanding the idea of gains from trade and increases in productivity—the idea of an ever-expanding “pie” of wealth.
There is evidence that greater skill and initiative could lead to higher status and bigger shares of resources for an individual in the EEA. But because of the social nature of hunting and gathering, the fact that food spoiled quickly, and the utter absence of privacy, the benefits of individual success in hunting or foraging could not be easily internalized by the individual, and were expected to be shared. The EEA was for the most part a zero-sum world, where increases in total wealth through invention, investment, and extended economic exchange were totally unknown. More for you was less for me. Therefore, if anyone managed to acquire a great deal more than anyone else, that was pretty good evidence that theirs was a stash of ill-gotten gains, acquired by cheating, stealing, raw force, or, at best, sheer luck. Envy of the disproportionately wealthy may have helped to reinforce generally adaptive norms of sharing and to help those of lower status on the dominance hierarchy guard against further predation by those able to amass power.
Our zero-sum mentality makes it hard for us to understand how trade and investment can increase the amount of total wealth. We are thus ill-equipped to easily understand our own economic system.
These features of human nature—that we are coalitional, hierarchical, and envious zero-sum thinkers—would seem to make liberal capitalism extremely unlikely. And it is. However, the benefits of a liberal market order can be seen in a few further features of the human mind and social organization in the EEA.
Ou seja, ironicamente ou não, um conhecimento “científico” da economia – em oposição ao “utópico” – deveria considerar que pensar nos mercados como um jogo de soma zero é algo…primitivo. Assim, concluo eu, humildemente, é necessário ensinar economia.
Na verdade, há várias evidências de que as pessoas não entendem conceitos básicos de economia. Tome-se como exemplo a vantagem comparativa, incompreendida por muitos economistas, não apenas por leigos. Como a ciência evolui conforme os interesses dos cientistas, economistas interessados em desfazer mitos podem muito bem ajudar na evolução da mente humana. Podem, mas alguns preferem a luta por cargos políticos ou mesmo a proteção das barreiras à entrada no mercado das idéias, alardeando que não precisam mais estudar ou nem de prestar atenção a aspectos interdisciplinares.
Este texto de Sumner foi, realmente, um doce na boca, logo pela manhã…