Sunday 29 March 2020

Everything Is A Trade-off

It is very common to see options presented as a binary choice, even as extreme's of each other. Option A or option B, with no other options available or spoken about. With each put out there as an extreme and in opposition to the other option. Which also is seen as a moral choice, one option is entirely good and the other is entirely bad. But in reality even if there is only two options neither will provide all of the answers. Each will have both good and bad outcomes, in other words each will have trade-offs.

A trade-off is were you don't get everything you want, instead you get both good and bad outcomes from your decision. This is different to a compromise as a compromise is a conscious choice, were as a trade-off may or may not be. A choice is also a logic, certain outcomes are excluded while others are enlarged. 

People who argue in favour of free trade will often say that to oppose it is to oppose trade.

Here is a binary argument, either you allow unrestricted trade or there will be no trade at all. However those extremes do not in reality exist. Trade can still take place with restrictions. What it also ignores is the trade-offs that free trade requires. Jobs and manufacturing will tend to favour the country with the lowest wages and standards. The richer country will get cheaper goods but the price is that it loses it's ability to produce it's own goods and in less jobs. Those cheap items have a rather expensive price. 

Tariffs have their own trade-offs, they protect local manufacturing and jobs which is good. The trade-off is that goods are more expensive, there is a more limited range and it encourages complacency. 

Each of these has trade-offs, and those trade-offs can be made bigger or smaller by adjusting the conditions. It depends upon what is trying to be achieved. If the aim is cheaper goods then free trade is better, if the aim is to protect manufacturing and jobs than tariffs are. Every option comes with a cost, someone will be the loser. That is true of nearly every option.

It is important for us to understand that everything has trade-offs. That our enemies argue their position because they believe that they will not be the loser. To properly refute them we need to understand why they believe that. We also have to accept that our plans will have winners and losers, just like everybody else's plans will.

Everything is a trade-off!

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1 comment:

  1. Good article for a complex issue. Thanks Mark.