Oil intervention

Percipiently, Jo Armstrong (Analysis, 9 January) raises one of the crucial questions for ethical economics and the “crisis-hit” oil industry.

Is it right for the Scottish and UK governments to intervene (or bail out) the industry?

Yes, if it benefits Scotland and the UK as a whole rather than just the industry. Isn’t this a political argument and hence a moral one for 
collective action for the public good?

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It’s morally justified by the implicit utilitarian ethic of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. That is, of course, assuming that targeted intervention doesn’t remove the benefit for everybody of cheaper energy prices.

Take, for example, the 
competitive advantage of the New York price of petrol of 40p a litre. Arguably ethical economics, putting public good before 
private interest, is welcome but difficult to implement.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk