The Culture War Is Real… Government Should Be Less Powerful

Very quick, very good. Interesting article. The author discusses how most people don’t think for themselves, but pick teams. He then makes the argument that since the winning team is allowed to bludgeon the losing team – government should be less powerful. I couldn’t agree more.

Most people may want to make the world a better place, but relatively few have given a moment’s thought to what may actually work to achieve that goal.

Instead, most of us pick teams and outsource our thinking to them — and the quality of that “thinking” is, on the whole, simply terrible.

In general, we pick the “team” we are on based upon cultural values much more than self-interest, reasoned ideas or policy preferences. In fact, for most of us, policy preferences don’t precede choosing a side but are a result of that choice.

It’s dispiriting, if not surprising. It has ever been thus, although some political cultures are better at dealing with the problem than others. In many ways, the United States avoided many of the most serious consequences of this fact of life by limiting the powers of government itself; in other words, no matter what “team” won the political battles, there were natural limits to the damage that could be done.

Unfortunately, that is less and less true.

America is blessed with many fine schools of “public policy” and quite a large class of professional government administrators, but remarkably little government policy is actually set through careful analysis of data, genuinely open experiments or any kind of rational decision-making.

Instead, on issues big or small, policy discussions tend to be veiled (or not so veiled) battles between culturally opposed groups. The only issues where real public policy can be set rationally are those few people care about — and even there, you find that economic interests motivate the few people who do care, and those interests tend to override the public good.[…]


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