21 June, 2007

Problems with a Democratic Republic

Scott Adams writes that he thinks Michael Bloomberg might be the man to stop this inane, barbaric feast upon "flip-floppers." I hope it's true.

But it's not the only problem with representative democracy. The Federalist Papers make many great arguments why our system is the best that humans can achieve, but it really fails in one area: public bias.

This past week, the Economist had a great story on public bias. The author lists four biases: "first, people do not understand how the pursuit of private profits often yields public benefits: they have an anti-market bias. Second, they underestimate the benefits of interactions with foreigners: they have and anti-foreign bias. Third, they equate prosperity with employment rather than production: Mr Caplan calls this the "make-work bias". Finally, they tend to think economic conditions are worse than they are, a bias towards pessimism."

I am now extremely disheartened that any politician would be able to convince the public that his or her policies are good given these biases. Congress and the President have done some astounding work (and some necessary compromises) to build a strong piece of legislation on immigration reform, but the public hates it . . . and it isn't helping Congress's report card.

Maybe the immigration bill isn't perfect. Maybe it's even downright bad. Certainly with all this bias, though, there have to be plenty of instances where the people disagree with a good idea.

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