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Sowell Said It, I Agree

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Greg Mankiw has a great quote from a Thomas Sowell piece for Real Clear Politics in which he comments on the pandering to voters which is happening in the Presidential race and Congress (emphasis mine):

Some people think that the reason the public misunderstands so many issues is that these issues are too “complex” for most voters. But is that really so?

With all the commotion in the media and in politics about the high price of gasoline, is there really some terribly complex explanation?

Is there anything complex about the fact that with two countries– India and China– having rapid economic growth, and with combined populations 8 times that of the United States, they are creating an increased demand for the world’s oil supply?

The problem is not that supply and demand is such a complex explanation. The problem is that supply and demand is not an emotionally satisfying explanation. For that, you need melodrama, heroes and villains.

It is clear that many people prefer to blame President Bush. Others prefer to blame the oil companies, who have long been the favorite villains of the left.

Politicians understand that. Numerous times they have summoned the heads of oil companies before Congressional committees to be denounced on nationwide television for “greed,” with the politicians calling for a federal investigation to “get to the bottom of this!”

Now that is emotionally satisfying, which is the whole point. By the time yet another federal investigation is completed– and turns up nothing to substantiate the villainy that is supposed to be the reason for high gasoline prices– most people’s attention will have turned to something else.


If you want cheering crowds, don’t bother to study economics. It will only hold you back. Tell people what they want to hear– and they don’t want to hear about supply and demand.

No, supply and demand is not too “complex.” It is just not very emotionally satisfying.

Read the whole thing. This is very central to a number of arguments conservatives use on a regular basis, but it is an inherent problem with our system. Not surprisingly, the politicians are motivated to pander to certain groups so they can maintain their office and their electoral support.

The conservatives’ issue lies in whether some control or ethical framework should be employed to avoid this in the interest of a move benevolent leadership. A few things are for certain: the pandering in election years is becoming disruptingly overt, and is one of the least appealing aspects of our democratic system of government.

See Sowell’s part 2 here.


Written by walonline

May 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Economics, Politics

Tagged with , ,

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