POLITICIANS ARE PEOPLE TOO

When economists study consumer behavior, they assume that consumers buy the bundle of goods and services that gives them the greatest level of satisfaction. When economists study firm behavior they assume that firms produce the quantity of goods and services that yields the greatest level of profits What should they assume when they study people involved in the practice of politics? Politicians also have objectives. It would be nice to assume that political leaders are always looking out for the well-being of society as a whole, that they are aiming for an optimal combination of efficiency and equity. Nice, perhaps but not realistic. Self-interest is as powerful a motive for political actors as it is for
consumers and firm owners. Some politicians are motivated by a desire for reelection and are willing to sacrifice the national interest when doing so solidifies their base of voters. Other politicians are motivated by simple greed. If you have any doubt, you should look at the world’s poor nations” where corruption among government officials is a common impediment to economic development This book is not the place to develop a theory of political behavior. But when thinking about economic policy, remember that this policy is made not by a benevolent king but by \;Sal people with their own all too human desires. Sometimes they are motivated to further the national interest, but sometimes they are motivated by their own political and financial ambitions. We be surprised when economic policy fails to resemble the ideals derived in economics text books.

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