Showing posts with label public choice theory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public choice theory. Show all posts

Friday, April 8, 2022

Politics Without Romance

Human nature is the nature of humans. 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids
 — the Stickies
 — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted. 
Best perused on a screen large enough for even your parents to see and navigate easily.   

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  

Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"There's a reason that there are oodles of young Aussies, Germans, Japanese, even Chinese backpackers traipsing around the world. They are unencumbered by debilitating student loans. No such luck for the American Theater Arts major with $120,000 in loans." -J. Maarten Troost

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

The public-choice school of economics, a.k.a public-choice theory, is, well...  'As James Buchanan artfully defined it, public choice is “politics without romance.”' 

For the record, I can't find exactly where or when Mr. Buchanan actually said that. I did find dozens of versions of something along the lines of 'As James Buchanan said, public choice is "politics without romance."'

{And this matters because?} 

Well, the dude won a Nobel Prize for his work in the field, you'd think that... 

{You really need to get out more, Sparky.}

Anyways... This normally would be a good place to quote the Wikipedia entry on the subject at hand, assuming, of course, it wasn't clearly crafted by a Wokie (it wasn't), but since it reads like it was written by an impoverished grad student who will never be famous for his/her/their prose stylings...

{Seriously, dude, you're not that old, find the car keys and...}   

Instead, I'm going to post the video below, because I'm cool like that and it does an excellent job of explaining public choice theory.

Now, for those you that are wandering in the wilderness and following the locusts and honey diet, or the Luddite like gentlepersons among my vast hordes of regular readers that rely on some intrepid soul to print out my column (not to mention any names, Ed), permit me to vastly oversimplify. 

Public choice theory holds that the politicians (sleazy and otherwise), and bureaucrats (and bureauons) that constitute the group of H. sapiens that run or work for the government at any level are subject to the same drives, incentives, and motivations as we mere mortals. 

{That's just common sense.}

Not necessarily. There's an awful lot of people that maintain that they're just humble but lovable public servants, grateful for a chance to serve. 

{Sure, but nobody actually believes...} 

So you say, but there are also an awful lot of people who say that we need a government solution for this, that, or that other thing — which can be true.

Big BUT.

As the video points out, instead of just asking what government policy is needed to solve a given problem, we also need to consider what policy is likely to actually emerge from "real-world democratic politics," and take that into consideration. 

To which I would add: before we pass yet another law on top of the thousands of other laws that, so far, have not led us to the promised land.  

Which is to say: since the H. sapiens in the government business are just as prone to temptation, egotism, and screwing up as you and me, what we want is often not what we getthat's politics without romance. 

And it gets worse: people in the government business don't suffer from an inconvenient constraint that most of us do, they pay the bill with other people's money.  

{This would be a good place to supply an example...}

For example, on a recent Joe Rogan podcast, Rogan had a guest, Ben Burgis, a writer for Jacobin magazine. Mr. Burgis is a socialist who, like Mr. Rogan (a democratic socialist), supports things like universal healthcare, a universal basic income, free college, etceterage. 

{Impossible, Rogan is a card-carrying member of the alt-right, just ask Neil Young.} 

They both agree that college should be free, and consider that the cost of a college degree nowadays, as well as kids going into debt up to their... butts is completely unacceptable. I don't agree with the free part — free is rarely actually free, and "free" is often perceived as having little value — but I do agree that kids just beginning their adult lives deep in debt is unacceptable.

But one of the many reasons college is so expensive is the result of several decades of The Fedrl Gummit handing out easily obtained loans to children (which can't be discharged via bankruptcy) and then the higher education business raising their prices faster than the inflation rate to absorb the money. 

This isn't an open secret, it's not even a secret. 

{They're not children! Well, not exactly, they...}

Simultaneously, education incorporated is top-heavy with administrators who are teaching nothing to no one, and many of these positions are mandated by The Fedrl Gummit. What about taking a machete and thinning out the ranks of all those people that don't actually teach anyone?

{You mean their jobs, right? Not actually the...} 

Isn't reforming the bloated education business the place to start?


Schools with well-fed endowments are currently fighting a 1.4% tax on their investment incomes if their cash stash is worth more than $500,000, per student! Leaving that tax in place is not just politics without romance, it could also be called common sense.

Poppa loves you,

P.S. How about college grads having to take a standardized, general knowledge test to graduate and prove they didn't slip through with inflated grades, and publishing the aggregated results? 

What about students who are often taught by absurdly underpaid "instructors" and "teaching assistants" (often as not in debt up to their eyeballs in student loans) that help to prop up the system? 

What about charging the NFL for running a minor league for professional football wherein the coaches are often better paid than the professors? 

What about... 

{We gotta go, folks.}

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