Saturday, May 07, 2005

Aikido Activism

Reed Burkhart has created a sort of mirror-image of FLOW from the other side, as it were:

Whereas FLOW at present is more free market than social entrepreneurship, Aikido Activism is more social entrepreneurship than free market (indeed Burkhart claims to be hostile to "Free Market Fundamentalism"), but it is an interesting initiative with many parallels to FLOW.

An obvious difference has to do with economic understanding. Tax policy issues do not seem to be a focus of Aikido Activism because Burkart seems to believe that well-intentioned people can make a difference. I certainly want to encourage well-intentioned people to make a difference -but even well-intentioned people will, on average, buy bigger houses due to the mortgage interest deduction than they would if we had a flat tax.

Indeed, a major part of an economic perspective may be the realization that incentives matter more than do intentions. This is counter-intuitive: Our evolutionary history has pre-disposed us to judge people and actions based on the intentions behind the actions.

Intentions do matter, but because incentives are so much more powerful our first priority needs to be to make sure that the incentives are aligned correctly, because if institutions don't provide the right structure for directing incentives, all the good intentions in the world will be useless.

It is by means of focusing on getting both the incentives and the intentions right that FLOW hopes to be both realistic and visionary.