Technocrats and Populists
By Arnold Kling
Politicians usually ignore wise advice. Is that a reason not to try to make them take wise advice?
Coming from a libertarian (or someone who I thought was a libertarian a few weeks ago), is that a trick question? Suppose that it’s 1935, and the “wise advice” that the technocrats give is for a pay-as-you-go Social Security system. (That indeed was the considered advice of economists working for Roosevelt at the time.) Should we be happy that Roosevelt took that advice?
I don’t want to set up a world in which technocrats compete for the attention of politicians by offering elegant government solutions to problems. That just leads to things like the Massachusetts health plan. Incidentally, there still is no Massachusetts health plan. So far, as I predicted, it is proving impossible to produce a plan within the perimeters set by the legislation.
As a libertarian, you don’t want to see politicians trolling for technocrats with clever schemes. You want politicians and the public to be properly skeptical of government. At least, that’s what I want.