BBC radio

I was a guest on BBC  radio’s World Business News (MP3 link here) for what turned out to be a rather mild debate with CAP Action’s Tom Perriello. The segment is about 10 minutes long.

Our host asked, “Is this any way to run an economy?” I laughed that the alternative is a philosopher-king.  A better answer would have been what we say in the book: No. There are a variety of rule sets to organize a democracy, and the ones predominant in advanced countries are indeed dysfunctional. We can do better, short of dictatorship.  I wish I hadn’t been so glib on air, but I find myself defending the basic notion of democracy too often, so it was a reflex. What the U.S. really needs to do is constrain legislators’ capacity to make long-term spending commitments beyond the political consequence horizon.

 

2 responses to “BBC radio

  1. “What the U.S. really needs to do is constrain legislators’ capacity to make long-term spending commitments beyond the political consequence horizon.”

    Up until a few minutes ago, I would have largely agreed with that conclusion, but my fear is that if you were able to implement such constraints, e.g. by adopting a “perfect” balanced budget amendment. You would find the truth that “politics is not about policy” manifiesting itself in oher almost as deleterious ways, e.g. by adopting regulatory regimes that do similar amounts of harm to politically weak groups (e.g. consumers qua consumers)..

    My current thinking is that you are likely to get better results from enabling competition among governments withing the current system, e.g. between nations and between states (by allowing freer mobility of people and capital), than in pursuing more particular reforms.

    These aren’t mutually exclusive, but if I am right, it is an argument for pursuing a more indirect strategy for acheiving better government.

    • I agree, Doug. Institutional “competition” is essential for reforms to prove out. The alternative is a bundled systemic risk. A federal bailout of CA or IL in the next couple years may just be the turning point of our time, and unclear to me which way we will turn — toward nation or toward a union of states?

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