Perverse Incentives

Professor Glenn Reynolds points to another Milton Friedman gem, noting that while “throwing the bums out” may be our first response, it is not necessarily the ONLY response. He quotes Friedman:

It’s nice to elect the right people, but that’s not the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.

Here’s Uncle Miltie himself:

The good Professor from the ugly orange university continues:

Politicians are at best semi-autonomous. They mostly respond to external forces. If you want them to behave differently, change the correlation of forces. That can be done by taking over state parties, by primarying people, by changing the culture and all sorts of other ways.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the post-election gloom and doom of the sequel to 2008’s Hope and Change, the 2012 production of Obama II: The Satanic Verses – and I have to wonder if we are giving the wrong incentives to politicians.

I wonder if our urges to shorten their pain through term limits is the wrong way to go. It occurs to me that part of the issue is that most of the crap that they do is done because they know that there is no way that they will be in office long enough to have to live with the decisions that they make and the votes that they take.

Look at Obama – his entire first term was spent doing one thing – Obamacare. It passed two years in with provisions that wouldn’t kick in until his second term. Now he has a second term and the law is so confusing and unworkable that it will take another four years to sort it out, by which he will be gone on to the rubber chicken, $250,000 a speech circuit while we still foot a $200K salary, security and office expenses for the rest of his life. Why shouldn’t he be held accountable?

Since we pay their pensions, especially those of the President, what if we found some way to keep them on the hook for their policies until they croak? What if their pensions were indexed to the economy and if the economy did well, they benefitted and if it tanked, they got hit?


3 thoughts on “Perverse Incentives


    The requirement should be, any & all laws passed upon ANY American Citizen or entity, would also apply to, or be available to all other citizens/entities, and apply to every federal officeholder and or federal employee.

    EQUALITY ? Yes, for everyone.

    Pay a tax based upon a percentage? Everyone pays the same percentage.

    No lifetime pensions for 1 or 2 terms in office. They get to take advantage of their own “401k” plan they donated in to

    No special perks for ANYONE.

    GE, GM, etc. gets a tax break, all other entities get the same advantage too.

    UAW negotiates a tax break/ deal for workers? Everyone who is self employed gets to take advantage of the “special” treatment.

    I thought the dream was:
    “All are created EQUAL”

    Let’s make the STATISTS write laws that apply to EVERYONE equally !

    This is so simple.

    (of course, the subjugators in Washington, actually are liars and thieves….and we can count the number of honorable and courageous persons on 2 hands.)

  2. Ah, God. I wish we had someone like Milton Friedman around now, and that people would listen to him.

    Is it creepy to have a crush on an old dead guy?

  3. Unfortunately, I do not think you’ll find that the politically “wrong” people to do the right things. Then again, I hear that Honey Boo-Boo has been hired as a lobbyist so things are lookin up!

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