As the recent poll in our blog suggests, economists should (may) talk about morality, "only if it is rational." So allow me to discuss an issue of morality from an economic-cum-public policy analysis perspective. As you may guess, the issue is the Anti-pornography bill (RUU APP).
Please read my take on that issue in my personal blog. Apologize to the non-Indonesian speakers, the posting is in Indonesian. I was too lazy, though laziness may not be rational action, to translate it into English.
The main idea is, if 'morality' (in this case, eliminating the overconsumption of pornography) is an objective to serve, then the bill will be a poor means to achieve it. The reasons are:
- It is inefficient -- it requires a too many resources to achieve the goal, at the same time it potentially creates new, bigger costs. The same objectives can be achieved by some other means: regulating (limiting) the distribution side, not the production side.
- It is also ineffective -- the bill views that the decline in moral standard -- and the consequences of it -- as mainly supply-side problem. It is the mistake of the girls wearing appropriate dress, the nude women in the pictures, etc. It fails to realize the bigger problem from the demand side. When you rape a woman, or get turned on by one, it is their mistake, not yours. So let's punish them for inviting you, instead of giving harsher punishment to the violators.
Morality Economic philosophy Public policy