Bryan Caplan  

The Most Aggravating Sentence I've Read This Month

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How the Rational Voter Assumpt... A Business Idea for Education...

From Di Tella and MacCulloch:

A finding that people who perceive corruption to be widespread also want more government regulation would be difficult to explain if regulations were simply facilitating rent extraction by bureaucrats.
Is it really so "difficult" to believe that people could favor policies with consequences they oppose? Couldn't you just as easily write "A finding that people who favor price controls are opposed to shortages would be difficult to explain if shortages were simply caused by price controls"?

Oliver Cromwell famously said: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

For modern political economists, I'd like to add: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Bastiat, think it possible that voters may be mistaken."


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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Bruce G Charlton writes:

Indeed.

My take on this paper might be to explain the difference between more- and less developed countries position on the left to right spectrum in terms of education.

For uneducated people - who cannot understand the abstract functioning of markets - the solution to corruption is paternalistic: to have strong, honest government. For medieval peasants, the hope was for a good just king like Richard Lionheart instead of a wicked corrupt king like King John - in the Robin Hood stories.

Naive people also think that corruption is caused by competition and greed, which they (correctly) associate with capitalism.

Since corruption is wicked, the solution is seen in terms of strengthening moral good. The state - as repository of the national culture is seen as good, parental - and so gets the jobs of fighting corruption.

The idea that corruption might be suppressed by economic growth/ a smaller state (ie. that does not so much influence the economy) is not supported by un-educated intuitions, it is an evolutionary novelty - known only by abstract analysis which you have to learn, and you have to have the intellectual capability of learning.

The voters might regard the amount of government intervention on behalf of the rich as constant, which would mean any increase in government intervention would be on the side of the poor.

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