Prescriptions for Democracy
By Bryan Caplan
The book review in the Economist says that “Mr Caplan is better at diagnosis than prescription.” I have to agree. In fact, my diagnosis implies that administering a cure will be very difficult. The irrational majority will oppose any reforms able to make a large, immediate difference.
There is some slack in the system, of course. As Maxspeak has lamented more than once (see here and here), I teach the children of Virginia. Democracy has given me a soapbox upon which to point out its shortcomings, and I make full use of it. And as I’ve explained previously, irrationality does not make persuasion impossible; it just changes the optimal persuasive strategy.
Finally, democracy does give a lot of people some slack to make policy better. I’m not a big fan of the Fed, but I’d be a lot more worried if the Fed chairman were an elected politician instead of the best teacher I had at Princeton. If you’ve got a piece of this slack, why not use your power for good?
In short, resistance is not futile, but it’s not easy. I don’t have any quick fixes – or at least any quick fixes with a snowball’s chance in hell of happening anytime soon. If anyone out there does, I’d like to hear them. And so would the Economist!