Public choice theory and the American president

These are from the comments on an Instapundit post on public choice. Brings to mind the ridiculous notion that PDT may be the first politician in who knows how long to have nothing personal to gain from holding office nor does he owe anyone anything for getting him there. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Anyway, from the comments.

Public choice theory explains how government bureaucrats are captured by their constituent private sector companies the bureaucrats are supposedly regulating.

Leftists think that regulatory capture results in the regulators not regulating enough.

People such as you and I might have understood from even a young age about regulatory capture, but most academics didn’t, and in fact, many still don’t. How do we know that they don’t? Because goddamn academics are always proposing Yet Another Bureaucracy to regulate this, that or some other thing, and they’re invariably surprised (genuinely – ie, we’re talking the true nature of the Intellectual Yet Idiot class here) when they get results nothing like what they thought would happen, and often the exact opposite of what they thought would happen. eg, Obamacare and insurance rates. eg2: Obamacare and hospital wait times. eg3: Investment banks and the SEC. I could go on, and I’m sure you could name fifty examples yourself. The origin of Public Choice Theory came out of the time in the UK when the unions, the bureaucracy and academia were pushing the UK off a cliff into a permanent swamp of self-serving stupidity. Thatcher came along and reversed a great deal of that, and PCT played a part in that – Thatcher didn’t just make war on the unions, she also went after the bureaucracy and the academic/bureaucracy axis of government.

Without belaboring the issue with economic cant, it comes down to this. Bureaucrats and bureaucracies never will allow politicians to reduce the scope, size and cost of government, because the bureaucracy is enriching themselves (on a personal basis) by preventing actual cuts in budgets and staffs. The way that bureaucracies prevent cuts is to make lots of busywork, which masks their do-nothing results, but they use their constituent private sector companies and business sectors to help support their own existence. The nut of PCT is this: Bureaucracies are staffed with people who have discovered that by pulling the correct levers in regulations, obscure policy proposals and arcane budgetary rules, that they can become quite well off without having to do anything that resembles actual work as we in the private sector recognize it. The question you should always ask whenever you see a bureaucrat or his organization make a rule change or an enforcement action is “cui bono?” and you should look first and most directly at the bureaucrats advocating the rule change or enforcement action. For example: The SEC doesn’t rock the boat too hard on rule enforcement, because most of the people employed by the SEC are looking for future jobs with the investment banks they’re pretending to regulate.

The reason why government gets bigger is that it is in the personal, direct, financial interests of bureaucrats at an individual level to make it bigger. In other words, the bureaucracy wills it to happen – at every choice, in every action they take.

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