Defining and applying the principles of good governance.

Let A Thousand Nations Bloom

The political news cycle is entertaining in about the same way that a tornado watch is entertaining: nothing good comes of it, but there is a lot of noise and activity. I’m sadly addicted. Every time the legislature passes a dictionary-thick bill that nobody likes or ignores another impending financial disaster I struggle to restrain myself from screaming “institutional sclerosis!” at my computer screen.

Political activists of every generation learn the same sad lessons. It’s easy to identify areas where the law can be improved, sometimes with huge social gains. But they soon discover that lawmaking is controlled by a bizarre machine full of biases against good policy. The best of intensions are no match for the force of institutional inertia.

In short, they rediscover some small portion of the classic problems of collective action first written about by Public Choice economists. For example, the case against agricultural subsidies…

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