曼昆对自由主义者的反击

看到了曼昆不同意一位自由主义者Jeff Miron的论断。觉得很有意思,抄在这里,跟大家分享。先简单的介绍一下Jeff Miron.Jeff Miron是个经济学家,具体做什么的我不知道。知道这个人是因为这么一件事情:他曾经是Boston University的经济系主任,去年他干了一件惊天动地的事情,他辞去了在Boston University的终身教授职位,来到哈佛做了一个访问教授,访问期是5年。也就是说,如果5年后,哈佛不给他续约,他将失业。扔掉铁饭碗,来到哈佛做一个朝不保夕的访问教授,他怎么想的,谁也不知道。
 
正文:
 
我的自由主义朋友Jeff Miron今天对公司治理发表了看法。他说企业改革法(Sarbanes-Oxley法) 太麻烦了,这也许是对的。他认为公司收入税应该被取消,这点我也能理解。不过他让我彻底摸不着头脑,当他说我们应该取消SEC(美国证监会)。Jeff写到:
 
       取消SEC将会让投资者承担全部监督公司行为的责任。这其实在很大程度上早已如此,因为SEC无法有效的监督所有的企业是否按章办事。取消SEC将会激发更多的私人监督并加强投资者参与尽职调查的动力。
 
如果Jeff在这件事情上是对的,那他下一篇文章大概应该是这样的:
  
          取消警察将会让人们承担全部保护自己安全的责任。这其实在很大程度上早已如此,因为警察无法有效的监督所有可能犯罪的人。取消警察将会激发更多的私人监督并加强个人参与尽职调查的动力。

 

          我对于很多自由主义者的论断在道义上是支持的。但是取消SEC这件事看上去走得实在太远了。
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3 Responses to 曼昆对自由主义者的反击

  1. Qingxia说道:

    哈哈,顽童自由主义者同动辄以江山社稷泰山压顶的威权主义者应该PK一下,看看究竟谁轻谁重!

  2. Unknown说道:

    Miron\’s response below:Greg is right that the structure of my argument applies to government efforts to prevent ordinary crime as much as to government efforts to prevent white collar crime like CEO fraud or embezzlement.  Thus, consistency might seem to suggest drawing the same conclusion about both types of government policies.Many libertarians respond by opposing both government attempts to deter white collar crime and government efforts to deter ordinary crime.  And they use the kinds of arguments that I suggested for white collar crime and that Greg has mimicked and applied to ordinary crime.I have two responses.  To begin, the libertarian position on government and ordinary crime is not as bizarre as most people assume.   The scope for private crime deterrence is substantial (locks, alarm systems, guard dogs, guns, private security personnel, gated communities, and so on).  The evidence on whether police deter crime is mixed at best.  And some current police activities increase rather than decrease crime (prohibitions against vice).  That having been said, I am not convinced that eliminating police is the right policy.  But that does not change my view on the SEC because ordinary crime and white collar crime differ in at least one key respect.  In the case of ordinary crime, the victim has not entered into a relationship with the perpetrator of the crime.  In the case of white collar crime, the victims are the shareholders, and they willingly purchased the stock of the company in question.   That is, shareholders entered into a contract with the corporate executives; the shareholders gave the corporation money in exchange for shares, and the executives agreed, at least implicitly, to maximize the value of those shares.Thus when CEO’s commit fraud or embezzlement, the shareholders have grounds for complaint, but they are not victims in the same sense as victims of a mugging or a robbery.  Shareholders have more than ample opportunity to design CEO contracts that make fraud difficult and that punish CEO’s for transgressions (loss of pension, stock options, etc).  Shareholders can hire private auditors to watch over CEOs.  Under this “contractual” approach to disciplining CEOs, government still plays a role in limiting CEO misconduct by providing courts that resolve contractual disputes between shareholders and CEOs.  But they do not criminalize CEO misconduct, and they do not independently pursue white collar “crime.”Reasonable people can debate whether the private, contractual approach to disciplining CEO misconduct will be sufficient without the threat of criminal penalties.  But at a minimum, the moral claim of a murder victim is different than that of someone who bought Enron stock.  The later knowingly assumed the risk; the former (usually) did not.My bottom line, therefore, is that all government attempts to criminalize private actions have a range of costs and possibly some benefits.  The balance differs dramatically depending on the private action in question.  At one end of the spectrum, criminalizing murder is almost certainly the right approach, but even this has drawbacks (the direct costs of police, prosecutors and prisons, plus any crowding out of private efforts to avoid getting murdered in the first place).   At the other end of the spectrum, criminalizing victimless crimes like drug use, prostitution, or gambling has at best modest benefits in reducing an undesirable activity, and it generates substantial costs.So the question of what to criminalize should take into account a range of issues, including whether the “victims” knowingly assumed the risks in question, whether criminalization itself has substantial costs, and whether private actions can reasonably address at least most of the negatives associated with the action in question.  My assessment is that for ordinary crime, the case for criminalization is probably convincing.  For white collar crime, the costs of criminalization likely outweight the benefits.

  3. e说道:

    萨奥法案很多地方加强了会计的严谨性,如在税收和反腐方面,但一些备受争论的话题仍然模糊,自主选择或者说自我判断性较强,比如公允价值。
    SEC还是留着好,要不几大财团就以自身利益为目的控制全美经济了,虽说现在也差不多,民主的监督永远是脆弱的

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