Saturday, May 17, 2008

Public choice cynicism

Politically, I'm about as cynical as you can get. The reason is that I put my money behind Public Choice theory, which maintains that government actors respond to incentives the same way economic actors do--genuine, people-oriented change requires not exchanging politicians but exchanging incentives, changing entire systems. This time around, I've been rooting for Obama, if only because I think he will prove outlooks like this one entirely naive.

Obama stands against bad governing not only in his support of specific practices like open data standards and basic network neutrality, but in his work against corruption from day one. He’s sponsored legislation to restrict gifts to Congress by industry representatives (which also carried a whole slew of anti-corruption measures that were a breath of fresh air). He’s fought against vote fraud. He’s been pushing for election and lobbying reform from the start, and in his campaign he’s refused to take lobbyist money.

I'm almost positive that Obama's presidency will be marked by as many blunders and panders as anyone else's. Special interest politics has nothing to do with the character of the politicians engaging in it. So when Obama says that he's going to waste money and possibly endanger children's lives by supporting further research into the vaccine-autism link, it's par for the course. And when he says,
We need to stand up to the special interests, bring Republicans and Democrats together, and pass the farm bill immediately.

I just get a big econ-nerd grin on my face (though I promise I'm sad on the inside). Obama: standing up to special interests by supporting even their most blatantly harmful of bills.

1 comment:

Katrina said...

Sigh.