Incoherence

Ezra Klein writes:

But it was a compromise that said something bad about our political system, not something good: It said we’re operating without a clear theory of what’s gone wrong in the economy, or how to fix it.

My first thought was “DUH!” I mean, how could you possibly pay attention to the actual world around you and not realize that there’s no clear theory of our economy?

But Ezra’s not a dumb guy, surely he’s aware of this. So I read further. And I think I understand. Ezra believes that the government is like a brilliant surgeon, able to make amazing changes to the “body”. And this particular compromise, which not only doesn’t satisfy anyone, but seems contrary to party interests, doesn’t make any sense in his narrative.

Well, it makes perfect sense in my narrative – government is a boulder, tumbling down the side of a volcano towards the massive lake of lava (i.e revolution) at the bottom. During its descent it will careen haplessly off of every bush, rock, tree or prominence (law, regulatory agency, executive order, etc) that it happens to be in its way. When it careens to the left, Democrats smile and nod. When it careens to the right, Republicans smile and nod.

Thus the incoherence: Ezra expects rational output from the actions of 1000 skilled, “systemic” decision makers, where instead what we get is the random chaos of 1000 skilled, self-interested decision makers.

I *expect* random chaos, and so I’m not surprised by the fact that the bill doesn’t satisfy anyone’s stated goals. Stated goals are for suckers. Revealed preferences for the win.

Also: Ezra’s comment:

Stripped bare, here’s what the deal says about the two parties: Republicans care much more about tax cuts for the rich than about any of their specific arguments about what’s impeding recovery,

Well, don’t forget that the middle class got a tax cut as well. Republicans might also have been happy to see that.

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