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Jul 3, 2009

Gaining Power Through Public Policy

Social Science and Public Policy
07/03/09 - EconLog by economist Arnold Kling

[edited] Political Economy is the science of obtaining and retaining power. The pollster, the fundraiser, and the media expert supply expertise to the operation. The public policy expert is for decoration. If you want to be an economic policy adviser, my advice is to learn how to put a good spin on the methods used by leading politicians to obtain power.

Is Health care reform about health, the stimulus about recovery, cap and trade about global warming, or TARP about the financial system? No, they are about seizing and retaining power.

The social scientist's role is to say, "X is a problem. Government must solve X. Here are some solutions." The solutions that rationalize seizing and retaining power will bubble to the top.

Suppose you believe that regulators cannot possibly have the wisdom to direct human activity, and that politicians spending other people's money tend to choose unwisely. Keep those beliefs to yourself, if you want to get anywhere as a public policy adviser.

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