The death of James M Buchanan, the notorious Public Choice Theory economist has sparked some interesting discussion on ‘Crooked Timber’, my fav. intellectual blog.
I found myself nodding in vigorous agreement with the following
“To a certain extent theories of government are self-fulfilling prophecies. If it is generally accepted that democratic politics [he means electoral politics] is nothing more than a battleground for competing interest groups, then reality will come to resemble the model. An example arises with conscious attempts to manipulate the so-called political business cycle (a strategy closely associated with the idea of extended terms of office). The basic idea is to seek election on the basis of electorally attractive policies. On gaining office, these policies are dumped in favor of a program which is supposed to be economically correct. As the next election approaches, the rigor of this program is relaxed, and if all goes well, reelection is secured on the basis that conditions are improving. The adoption of this strategy implies a degree of contempt for the electorate which arises naturally from the interest group model’s view that the electorate is ‘ignorant and greedy’ (the characterization is from Mueller’s survey Public Choice, and is taken from Bagehot’s attack on proposals to enfranchise the working class).
An important part of this strategy is the making of election promises with the conscious intention of abandoning them after the election. Indeed, the refinement of targeted election campaigns, notably by the Hawke and Greiner governments, is such that, even as promises are made, code words are given out to assure elite groups that the promises will not be fulfilled. The untrustworthy nature of political promises has long been proverbial. However, the interest group theory makes a positive virtue of dishonesty. Since election promises are merely bribes to interest groups, they should be broken whenever possible.”
For the full article see: http://crookedtimber.org/2013/01/11/buchanan-and-market-marxist-leninism-re-re-post/#more-27157
So I am driven to ask: What can Sortition do to improve governance in the face of the economists’ world-weary acceptance of self-interested behaviour by powerful elites?