Arnold Kling  

Long Tail of Politics Watch

Reasonable Economics... Mark Thoma's Question...

Felix Salmon writes,

What’s needed here is not ad-hoc coalitions along single-issue lines, which is what we’ve had until now: a group of mayors against guns here, a livable-streets group there, a green group, a gay-rights group, and so on. Indeed, what’s needed isn’t more progressive mayors—the world is quite good at electing those. Rather, it’s a political movement, a brand—some kind of organization which could endorse candidates for local office at levels many layers down from mayor.

Read the whole thing. Pointer from Richard Florida.
I think that there is a general misfit between our political institutions and the direction of technology. Our institutions are still in the middle of the twentieth century, centralizing power, putting more and more resources into the same number of political hands. See my essay on the wealth controlled by politicians, reprinted here. Meanwhile, the rest of society is in the 21st century, featuring what Chris Anderson calls The Long Tail (I just finished Kindling the book. Much of its message seeped out before and after the book appeared, but it's still worth reading.)

Salmon is correct to suggest that urban voters are not well served by the current institutional setup. Perhaps a "horizontal network" of urban voters would have more in common than a territorial entity that embeds a city inside a province or a nation-state. But to me that is an argument against giving territorial monopolies to government units, and my guess is that Salmon didn't mean to go there.

As an aside, I would say that one group of voters is served very well by the current institutional setup. That is the public employee unions.

I could give lots of recommendations for additional reading on this topic. Steve Malanga on the union issue. Me on the Long Tail of politics.

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CATEGORIES: Political Economy

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Pedant writes:

Are urbanites really underrepresented at the national level? I'm somewhat skeptical. The seat of government is in cities, so are the media organizations whose favor the government seeks, as are the large donors to political campaigns. Politicians themselves tend to be lawyers, a typically urban profession. My guess is that rural denizens are less informed and less interested in much of what goes on in politics. On issues like farm subsidies Bryan Caplan has shown that this is not the result of a powerful interest group overpowering the general public, but rather a result of the preferences of the public, even outside farm states.

Speaking of Malanga and Florida, the former has some interesting critiques of the latter.

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