Public choice theory


The essential (and often thought to be rather cynical) point of public choice theory is that politicians and bureaucrats do not do what is good for us, or the citizenry, the country, but what is good for politicians and bureaucrats. This concept is of course rejected by those with a more starry eyed view of the State and those who direct it. Like, perhaps, the great liberal newspapers of the nation....say, The Observer.

Alistair Darling has admitted that he will 'almost certainly' have to deliver a second dose of financial life-support to Britain's ailing economy as soon as next spring if his unprecedented £20bn tax-and-spending package fails to contain the recession. In an exclusive interview with The Observer, the Chancellor conceded that his pre-Christmas VAT cut might not be enough.

An Ipsos-Mori poll for today's Observer confirms public scepticism. Conducted after last Monday's pre-Budget report, it shows no dramatic political benefit for Labour from Darling's move, with the Tories holding on to a solid 11 per cent lead over Labour.

Fascinating really, that a liberal newspaper judges the effect of economic intervention on whether it makes the politician directing such more or less likely to gain re-election. That is, the sort of left liberals who reject public choice theory are judging according to said public choice theory.

Have the politician's actions benefited the politician rather than something more relevant such as, say, benefited the economy, the citizenry or the country?