the argument from efficiency

When someone tells you that unions, regulations and taxes are “inefficient” and “bad for business”, you should remember what they are really telling you: having a middle class is a waste of resources.

Every conservative in the public eye has latched on to the same argument for how to run government: business efficiency. Do what is efficient, do what is good for business.

You see this argument against labor: business can’t work efficiently if they have to negotiate with unions. Unions are bad for business.

You see this argument against government regulation: business can’t work efficiently when they have to navigate regulatory bureaucracy. Regulation is bad for business.

You see this argument against taxes: business can’t allocate their resources efficiently if they have to lose money on taxes. Taxes are bad for business.

The implicit argument is that if you allow the economy to work as efficiently as possible, then it will produce the best possible society. The implicit argument is that the kind of world where businesses operate in the most efficient way is the kind of world we should all want to live in.


Let me tell you something about efficiency. The most efficient business model in all of history is slave labor.

What could possibly be more efficient than having a single person making all of the business decisions and then getting hundreds or thousands of people to implement those decisions for little or no pay? No having to negotiate, no having to compromise. The person at the top makes the decision, the masses at the bottom execute the decision without question. Now that is efficient. It built the pyramids, baby!

So let’s drop the pretense that efficiency is the only yardstick by which we should measure the success of a society. Let’s start admitting that there are other things that matter, and that the claim “that’s bad for business!” is not by itself an argument against something.


Or, on the flip side, you should embrace your position completely! Come out of the closet, and go all-in for the efficiency argument. Own up to the fact that having a middle class, when all is said and done, is just plain bad for business. It is inefficient. The middle class wants to live in comfort. They want to have a say in their working conditions. Heck, they sometimes even want pay raises. Pay raises cost money, so just like regulation and taxes are inherently bad for business.

Embrace it. Run on it in the next election. If you are a real conservative, you should let people know your real economic position: when it comes right down to it, having a middle class is just a bad use of resources.