Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Gross National Happiness - Social Economic Policy in a Constitutional Monarchy


There will be principles of social economic policy in a constitutional monarchy.  This monarchy is an institution of national assembly.  It is a minority cultural and largely racial group.  They govern the reins on national policy.  The King is head of state, he expresses certain visions for the state, everyone refers to the King's visions, public servants in positions of power share the same family names.  Those who differ, stay quiet.
The monarchy also governs a predominantly agricultural society.  A cement factory.  Timber and forest products.  Tourism.  Electricity.  All really export driven.  Demand and other market mechanisms are largely absent from the domestic economy.  There is tithing, barter, redistribution, among other non‑liberal economic mechanisms: religious festivals, child granting to the monastic community, family transfers and marriage of power, ethnic cleansing.
There are two economic principles to propose in a constitutional monarchy.  One, a micro‑economic principle, is that each individual will invest themselves according to the perceived benefits of a given activity.  For example, farmers in Bhutan, despite a context of consensual decision making and deference to authority, remain highly independent in working the land.  Conversely, where they have little or no independence they are tenant farmers or sharecroppers.  The principle remains the same: farmers put into their work according to what they get out of it.  It is next to impossible to convince a tenant farmer to try a new technology ; any rewards of such go to the owner.
In this context, the success of public investment in the agricultural sector depends on the perceptions of individual farmers.  There are several reasons to emphasize this dependence.  One is that, on the whole, farmers are farmers in such a monarchy because they were born into the class of those who work the land.  This means that for the majority of farmers, farming is not an occupation.  An occupation is a choice.  These farmers had no choice.  However, the farmers’ enthusiasm in their daily routine correlate fairly strongly with their degree of choice in the matter.  The success of public investments in the agricultural sector probably have an enthusiasm multiplier.
There are then those farmers who work the land for someone else.  Tenant, chattel, slave.  As you wish.  This translates to low enthusiasm at the field level and, judging from the general abhorrence to hand labour among the educated and owning classes, a high degree of ignorance among decision makers.  Public investment is hampered.
A second principle, a macro‑economic principle, less commonly recognized, is that in a stratified society it is not how much people are taxed but rather how much is left in their hands which determines satisfaction of the public with national socio‑economic policy.  Expectations and standards in the form and quality of life play a key role in this principle.  Think of satisfaction with the status quo.  Similar to the first principle, there is an individual concern for benefit here, perhaps in their own pocket or through the public coffer.  It does not really matter how benefit is perceived, so long as it is felt and adequate satisfaction is attained.
The peculiar characteristic of the second principle revolves around the classic economic principle of scarcity.  A person who concerns themselves with investments and returns (benefits), juggles scarce resources.  This is the liberal economist.  The person who concerns themselves with maintaining the status quo (how much they are left with judged by popular or traditional standards) is making decisions in a system of abundance / surplus.  This is the monarchist.
A monarchist is an individual who is more or less subject to the decisions of higher authorities who concern themselves with relative surplus production in society.  There are no opportunity costs comparisons.  The individual is not a classic consumer.  They are a status quo enhancer.
In a constitutional monarchy, all is swell with surplus.  All is swell with constraint.
You just need a few above, a whole bunch below.
And no questions asked when someone disappears if they get in the way of the equation.

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