Sunday, June 22, 2008

If Politicians Were Honest, Here's What They'd Say

"I voted for this farm bill because farmers are a concentrated, highly organized and well-funded interest group. Of course, I know that the overall benefits of this bill fall far short of its costs. But those benefits are concentrated on a tiny percentage of the population, while the costs are spread out over all 300 million Americans. So those who pay the costs don't feel their burden enough to complain."

~George Mason Economist
Don Boudreaux

12 Comments:

At 6/22/2008 8:33 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Heck! Even though the machinations of the farm lobby are more than expensive enough when are we going to see an expose of the real costly problem, "entitlements"?

This would mean shinning the light on the AARP...

I mean consider who the AARP find laudable...

 
At 6/22/2008 8:51 AM, Anonymous Fred said...

The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, their farm subsidy program, is something North of 40% of the EU's budget.

 
At 6/22/2008 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although you have highlighted the third last paragraph, the entire piece is very thought provoking as it examines the power of ideas to shape our decisions and perceptions often in subtle ways.

Seeing beyond the limitations of the set of precepts, coping mechanisms, and assumptions that we have absorbed takes a paradiym shift. Rather than rejecting such ideas, we recognize that they are part of us and have the power to influence our perceptions.

Sometimes, it is a question or an idea that you had not considered which creates the opportunity for expanding beyond these limitations.

 
At 6/22/2008 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, if everyone thought as the good Mr. Boudreaux does we would have large deficits in the federal budget and increasing inefficiencies in the economy just to buy off well organized interest groups. That costs us all money.

Oh, wait a minute, we do have a large deficits in the federal budget and increasing inefficiencies in the economy just to buy off well organized interest groups.

Never mind.

 
At 6/22/2008 11:20 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

By honesty, we mean truthfulness. Are the voters ready to elect people who tell the truth? Sadly, too people vote using their emotions and not enough common sense.

The trick for the politician is to tell the voters whatever it takes to get elected, and then to make good decisions with a sense of purpose guided by facts. After all, it does not matter what grandiose plans a politicians has if he or she cannot get elected, so an excellent campaign manager is more important that an excellent future leader during an election campaign.

The trick for the astute voter is to figure out which politician will do what needs to be done regardless of what he or she says during a targeted campaign to get elected.

Yes, it is a messy system, but make no mistake about it—the voters are making the rules and they are the ones really in charge.

On another note, blaming problems on special interest groups makes absolutely no sense. What we really mean is a decision was made that favored someone else’s special interest group that we do not like. Unless you are a strict isolationist living off the power grid in some remote wilderness, you are part of some type of special interest group (actually even then you would be an isolated special interest group). Can anyone name someone who is not male, female, young, old, white, black, American, non-American . . .? Aren’t these all “special interest” groups who plead their causes to our elected officials?

In essence, complaining about special interest groups is a complaint about the very existence of government—a truly nihilist view. You can’t have it both ways: the strength and protection of a collective society and the true freedom of individuals however harsh that existential
exitistance might be.

 
At 6/22/2008 1:13 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I am running for President and plan to be the first honest candidate that the U.S. has ever seen. Here’s my campaign speech. As you will be able to tell, I am feeling a little cynical and slightly delusional today. I had a late night watching Chicago and the Dobbie Brothers last night, and I got up early today, so here you go!

“My fellow Americans:

I have listened to you. Now you can listen to me. We can’t afford national health care because the revenue is not there to pay for it. You all won’t get any Social Security either because it’s a Ponzi scheme that will come crashing down very soon. And, yes, gas costs a lot, but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Grow up; Get over it.

We are also $9 trillion in debt as a country. We have about 300 million Americans who are honest and hard working people that believes in paying their bills, so just send in $30,000 each and we’ll clear that little mess up. I don’t know how my predecessor gave away $1200 as an economic stimulus. Was he nuts?

We will live within our means in the future even if that means doing without quite a few things that we have been accustomed to, and some people will just have to get tougher, and some will die. After all, we can’t spend a million bucks keeping an eighty-year-old granny alive for another miserable year: Can we?

Nobody ever said life is fair; Did they? Elect me for President. You might not like what I say; however, I will never to lie to you.” Vote for Walt G.

 
At 6/22/2008 1:40 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well walt g your promise not to lie and if you also promise to get rid of entitlements I'll vote for you...:-)

 
At 6/22/2008 3:06 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

I would be lying if I said I would get rid of entitlements. After all, the constituency has a say in what they want.

But, and this is a big one, it has to be paid for. There is no such thing as "free." Let's say you want national health care. OK, but it will cost X% of everyone’s paycheck. Of course some people do not get paychecks, so it will be X+% of your paycheck. Do you still want national health care now?

I'm glad to hear that I could get your vote, but I think I will keep my day job. Let’s try an experiment: we each ask 10 people we know if Congress should enact a windfall profit tax on oil companies. We’ll count each “no” vote for me and each “yes” vote for my challenger. Who wins? I think emotions will beat economics every time.

 
At 6/22/2008 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disagree, Walt g, ideas will eventually win out over emotions.

How did the revival of classical economics occur? Was it on the basis of emotion or because the Keynesian macroeconomics was not working in the 1970s?

Arguments that merely appeal to emotions might scare people temporarily but unless you have something else to offer, people stop listening to those who cry wolf and begin to do the unthinkable, they start to ask a few pertinent and probing questions. They start to use their common sense and they know when things just don't add up.

In recent years, we have had several flagrant populists who haven't had a look in the door, namely John Edwards, Howard Dean and Pat Buchanan.

 
At 6/22/2008 6:12 PM, Blogger Sophist said...

This very same person made the following statement not a while ago:

" China ’s average daily trade surplus of $500 million means that the Chinese now annually save about $182.5 billion that they then invest outside of China . Why is that a problem for the United States ? If we applaud when citizens of Wisconsin save and invest in software firms in California or orange groves in Florida , why should we not be equally pleased when citizens of Shanghai save and invest in these same American firms?"

Link to article

What do you expect from a person who thinks trade between California and Wisconsin is equivalent to trade between the US and China?

 
At 6/22/2008 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of us actually think trade benefits both parties rather than being a zero sum game.

I see sophistry is alive and well.

 
At 6/22/2008 11:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey walt g:

"I would be lying if I said I would get rid of entitlements. After all, the constituency has a say in what they want"...

Hmmm, well then I see a simple solution here walt g, let those who want the socialist programs pay for them....

Thinking people can go their own way without Uncle Sam reaching into their pockets...

"Let’s try an experiment: we each ask 10 people we know if Congress should enact a windfall profit tax on oil companies"...

Sadly I've already done that at work walt g and until the clowns at work figured out that part of their retirement portfolio was tied up either in energy companies or ancillary businesses that supported energy companies...

 

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