Bryan Caplan  

An Ex Ante Aneurysm

Who Said It?... Afternoon Commentary...

From Shenkman, Just How Stupid Are We?:

The economist and liberal columnist Paul Krugman is convinced that the dawn of a new liberal era is upon us. If it is, one can be certain that liberals will stop complaining about the People.
From Tabarrok:
If McCain wins I predict Caplan will be in high demand as half the population dazedly asks what went wrong?
Descriptively, they're both right. But Intrade says the election is a virtual coin toss. If the correct electoral outcome is as clear as most liberals think, shouldn't they already be incredibly disappointed in the People? Even if Obama wins, how comforting is it to know that the successor of the man many see as the worst President in history had a 50/50 shot?

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COMMENTS (8 to date)
Mark writes:

Democracy as constituted in this country is simply a means of ensuring peaceful succession. And for the most part it has.

I'm not sure why this continues to elude you.

Horatio writes:

Leftist hyperbole. Bush II is the only the worst president since Carter. He looks great compared to FDR.

dearieme writes:

Your worst President must be whoever caused the Civil War. If that was Lincoln, so be it; if his predecessor, amen.

Paul writes:

A new liberal era? Geez, have I been asleep? When did we leave the old liberal era?

RL writes:

For the last few decades, the worst President ever is the President currently in office. This will not change come next January.

How could it be otherwise? He or she got there by making more promises to more people on top of what already goes on. Nothing ever gets cut. So crises become worse. This will not change come next January.

another bob writes:

Mark, you are correct - elections are a means of successsion - that's it - end of sentence.

Are Americans too stupid to understand the issues in an election for POTUS or county supervisor or school board? Yes. I'm too stupid. I have a PhD and an MBA from great schools. I've started businesses (more or less successful ones).

One day I thought, "Hey, I'm smart. I don't need money. I should fix the crappy school system in this town." What I discovered is that if I spent 5 years of 60 hour weeks I'd never know enough about collective bargaining, curriculum development, teacher training, parcel tax law, election law, union contracting, the Brown Act, student learning styles, real estate development, parental preferences blah blah blah - to be sure I would make the right decisions on the school board. And, my decisions were highly constrained.

My conclusion was representative democracy is a poor, poor substitute for markets. It's Intelligent Design v. evolution. ID is dead meat compared to evolution's 'death to the least fit' mechanism.

You want to see brilliant decisions - look at how markets, forget representative democracy. And I'm saying this while AIG and Lehman and the GSEs are dying.

Dave Perry writes:

I think the reason why so many think Obama is the answer is because almost all the news media, both TV and CNN, Yahoo and MSN all talk so much about an unhealthy economy and that news is fake. I know it because I go out to restaurants and they are so crowded, more crowded then they were just a few years ago. Also job market. I am in the IT field in a small company and happy, but I get many calls from recruiters asking me if I am interested in a new opening that they have. I say no because I need to wait for the outcome of the election, just in case Obama wins then I may need to move to a larger company, as Socialist tend to hurt the small companies more. We shall see. I still prefer McCain.

Mark writes:

What I meant above is: the electoral system does a lovely job of preserving the current system of socio-economic relations. Whatever dissent there is gets harmlessly transferred into votes for the liberal wing of the ruling class. The rubes think they're participants--we elites continue with business as usual. Everybody I know wins.

What I mean is, yes sometimes a little wealth must be transferred downward. Sometimes the politicians act a little tastelessly. But you know, since Reagan at least, the vast majority of the wealth has been redistributed to us. The top 1 percent owns 60% of the country--and the percentage will only increase. I mean, we're doing pretty well. I think we can afford to suffer an election every once in a while.

What I mean is, why does Bryan let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Elections do there job--it's just up to us to do the rest.

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