Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why insist so much on political rights?

Last week, I suggested that democracy is not as good as many people think. I want to add on this that democracy should not be the first item on a list of priorities. In a broader sense. when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it put way too much emphasis on political and civic rights, and too little of economic rights. According to this document, having the right to vote is more important to have enough to eat.

But putting absolute priority on political rights, this Declaration and the ensuing foreign policies of most western nations have wasted precious resources in trying to impose democracy to countries that were rather longing for a better living standard. In particular, I find it obscene that western nations tell developing countries to democratize while at the same time denying poor farmers proper access to export markets by subsidizing domestic agriculture.

One has to recognize that there are trade-offs. Democracy and political rights should be enjoyed, no question about it. But the priority, at least to me, should be on a decent economic life. And even if it is not a priority to others, they should recognize that democracy and political rights should not be imposed at all costs.

6 comments:

Kansan said...

Laws prevent you, for example, from taking jobs that are degrading, even if it is explicitly written in the contract and compensated for. Kaushik Basu made this point earlier. link.

If the choice is prostitution or dying, why is prostitution excluded by the law?

Anonymous said...

Good point, economic logician.

Anonymous said...

How can you be so anti-American?

hmm said...

There's only one point in time when the choice is prostitution or dying, and that's when there's a gun to your head.

Jessica said...

I completely agree. The world leaders need to reevaluate their priorities. Since western nations "have it all figured out", meaning that they know how to become developed, maybe they should realize the important of human basic necessities such as: clean water, food and shelter. The focus should be put more on those economic rights rather than political and civic right being at the forefront. If you think about it if a person doesn't have something as basic as water then having political right doesn't seem all that important in the end.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of plenty end up in prostitution not because they have a gun to their head, but because they have no alternative for survival.