Pi Attitude Zone: Conformity & Stability

Millions Of Voters Can’t Be Wrong... Can They? [3]

There is a growing body of evidence to support the idea that “We get the government we deserve”.  Economists wearily point out that “People put their personal interests aside when they enter the political arena”.  Politicians just love that, unfortunately.

An example is the widespread belief that rises in petrol prices are explained by greed on the part of oil companies.  Actually they are almost entirely caused by the immutable laws of supply and demand, otherwise the price of a tank of gas would go on rising inexorably, and would never fall back again.  Politicians cheerfully denounce Big Oil for “price-gouging”, however, because it boosts their electability.

Biases against foreigners, particularly pronounced since the recession, are another case in point.  People complain that sending jobs overseas harms the domestic economy, rail against international free trade, bemoan job losses or realignment in troubled and moribund industries, and resent immigrants “stealing” the work they choose not to do themselves.  Immigrants become a lightning rod for people’s unarticulated fears about housing, unemployment and social cohesion.  Never mind that most countries would be very significantly worse off without them.

It is not difficult to see why politicians are so squeamish about defending free trade agreements, and so quick to join the chorus of immigrant-bashers.  Yet both impulses run directly counter to a nation’s economic interests, and inhibit the possibility of most voters gaining in prosperity.

People really believe that the country would be better off if profits were regulated, foreign imports were heavily taxed, and companies were prevented from firing people, ever.  Politicians know deep down that such protectionism and anti-competitive measures destroy national wealth rather than building it up, ensuring that in the end there is less to share around.  Yet they pander abjectly to such mistaken prejudices because pandering gets them elected, again and again.

In the end, it is the politicians who are being rational in reacting to voters’ irrationality.  And that’s how they, and the voters who choose them, continue to exacerbate the decline in most people’s standard of living.

Each time the consequences of this start to be felt, it triggers a new wave of corporation-bashing, protectionism and xenophobia.  And the cycle of attitudinal negativity starts all over again.

Pi would ‘vote’ to end the cycle.  Voters should stop being silly, switch the lights back on, and set about learning how things really work.  Politicians should stop pandering and learn how to govern better.

And that’s not politics.  It’s common sense.

Zone: Conformity & Stability Country: USA / North America Product –