Militärökonomische Forschung und Lehre
Research and Courses in Economics of Defense

PD Dr. Peter T. Baltes
To my wife, my (academic & military) teachers, my family and my friends
Online: * August 2012
Segment in Deutsch.English Section.

Economics and the Economics of Defense II

Nobody will deny that wasting scarce resources should be avoided. But even more than 200 years of struggle to identify a more specific welfare criterion did not lead to a consensus among economists, let alone among the members of (democratic) societies.

Take, for example, the famous Pareto-criterion: It states that only those allocations can be (morally) justified that leave no room for further improvements in welfare positions. I.e., the economic situation of one person can only be improved by diminishing the well being of another individual.

But how can such a condition be verified in a globalized world where people lack the information about all the (potentially) relevant transactions and their conditions →Tullock (1999)? Furthermore, a significant part of the global population does not even own the means ─ in particular, the income / wealth ─ to participate in the most basic transactions: “He who can not pay, dies.” →McMillan (2002).

The society’s primary tool to organize the allocation of scarce resources is the economy. Consequently, the ─ evolutionary grown as well as intentionally designed ─ arrangements in an economy are part of the “implicit social contract”.

Looking back on the various “experiments” in economy design conducted by societies in history, the following statement seems not too far fetched: When the performance of the different designs is compared in realistic settings, the various “Social Market Economies” (SoME) like the USA, Germany or Sweden  ─ differing, in particular, in their weights they attribute to social components ─ represent the most convincing answer to a society’s allocation problem so far.

Vilfredo Pareto
(*1848 †1923)
Economics and Military Economics III
Economics and Military Economics I
First Version: August 2012
This Version: October 2012