Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

Metaphors on Self-Interest

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message James Brett       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Author 215
Become a Fan
  (2 fans)
- Advertisement -
There is an interesting, if possibly somewhat misleading, article in Scientific American this month ostensibly about self-interest and traffic control, but which seems to tend off toward creating metaphors on economic regulation and deregulation. The article notes that when the city fathers of Seoul, South Korea, removed a major six-lane highway into central Seoul the result was an increase in traffic efficiency! Counter-intuitive as this may seem, the article goes on, removal of traffic lights in another city also increased efficiency. It reads like a fable or metaphor on the current controversy over what to do or not do about our economy. The first blush is that when you provide easy travel into the center the users out of self-interest in short commutes will flock to the six-lane highway and in short order bottle it up, thus thwarting their own self-interest. The metaphor notion arises that if you widen Wall St. to "six lanes" easing the financiers' way toward self-interest they will all choose their self-interest and screw things up irreparably. But then the question of removing traffic lights, qua regulations, arises. How could things improve with fewer regulations, you ask? The answer is that people who chose to negotiate the more chaotic downtown areas drove with less confidence and more caution, more slowly, getting to where they were going, but with more attention to the common risk. What the article's author leaves out is a picture of the remaining infrastructure post six-line highway and post-traffic lights. Obviously, there was some kind of infrastructure in Seoul and it functioned and it forced people to be less self-centered about their commute decisions. Easing the way for Wall St. to be Wall St. does not force the financiers to be less self-interested when their mantra and ethos is that self-interest is the name of the game. The removal of traffic lights is not the removal of regulations. Stop signs replaced those lights and the pulse of traffic through intersections became the uncertain pattern of the driver on the right at a four-way stop having the right of way ... overturning the self-centered ethos. We have a feeling that the basic story of traffic control is correctly stated in the article, but that the metaphor for our economy is wrong or incomplete. The important point is that the full story in both cases must be elaborated. Skipping the details is missing the point. JB


- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Economy v. Ecology

VP Debate: One Gigantic Mistake by Sarah Palin ... Huge!

Tell It Like It Is

Capitalism, Fascism, and Socialism

The Meaning of the Mike Connell Story: Under the Bus

The End of the Marshall Plan