The Moral Appeal of Government Action

Estefanía Campos  | 07 de junio de 2018  | Vistas: 93

Economist and honorary doctorate of Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Dwight R. Lee, argues that the political process is not as moral as some people think, and that tendency of governments to grow without limitations, cases that they get involved in matters that they are not efficient solving.

Morality tends to be judged more by good intentions than it does by good results.”

Professor Lee begins by quoting the ideas of Steven G. Kellman, professor at Harvard, for whom government encourages people to think about others, which contrasts with market economy, that defends individuality. Buchanan and Kellman’s ideas about Public Choice were also contrasting; Lee explains with an example their ideas on the topic.

Is not a difference in morality is a difference on incentives.”

He discusses that there is no morality in voting for a certain policy, but people feel good with themselves about it because they believe they are helping others with it. Dwight is not against voting, he recognizes it is important in a democracy, however it doesn’t constrain government action enough. To him, it's much easier for government to do harm than to do good for people, therefore voters are a bigger threat when convinced about the morality of their arguments.

When you’re voting and you don’t have a sense of morality, or sense of responsibility for what you’re voting for, we vote with our emotions, for what feels good.”

Lee later talks about the limits of voting and the interaction between them:

  • Rational ignorance
  • Rational apathy
  • Expressive voting

People believes their vote will make a difference for them and the poor, but actually it doesn’t, Dwight explains. Later talks about the reality behind political behavior and reflects on the importance of distinguishing good intentions with real results and how can we create a political system in which people take the responsibility of their vote.

Now Watch: Dwight R. Lee’s Speech during the Ceremony for Honor Graduates (May 2018)


Honorary doctorate in social sciences


Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín