“…you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f***in education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library”

Harvard-educated Matt Yglesias obviously skipped classes on Public Choice (which explains a lot about his views, actually):

At the same time, I’ve come to be increasingly baffled by the high degree cynicism and immorality displayed in big-time politics. For example, Senators who genuinely do believe that carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to a global climate crisis seem to think nothing of nevertheless taking actions that endanger the welfare of billions of people on the grounds that acting otherwise would be politically problematic in their state. In other words, they don’t want to do the right thing because their self-interest points them toward doing something bad. But it’s impossible to imagine these same Senators stabbing a homeless person in a dark DC alley to steal his shoes. And what’s more, the entire political class would be (rightly!) shocked and appalled by the specter of a Senator murdering someone for personal gain. Yet it’s actually taken for granted that “my selfish desires dictate that I do x” constitutes a legitimate reason to do the wrong thing on important legislation.

I just happen to have a copy of James Buchanan’s collected works ‘Politics as Public Choice‘ on the shelf…Matt, just click the link and buy the book – it’ll open your eyes to all kinds of things.

(h/t Tyler Cowan, who probably has read Buchanan)

4 thoughts on ““…you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f***in education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library”

  1. Wikipedia has a summary of Public Choice Theory that seems not bad. . . pretty depressing stuff. Ugh!

    The cited passage is certainly not very sophisticated or subtle! But is the driving force behind the sentiment expressed naivete about the political realities explored by Political Choice Theory, or is it more of a plea to re-insert some sense of decency and values into the process that Public Choice Theory appears to deny exists.

    Give me more “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” and give me less Public Choice Theory negativity.

  2. Give me more “Mr. Smith goes to Washington”

    That’s the one where the unpretentious, outdoorsy fellow with the journalism background is plucked from obscurity to a national political position before being stabbed in the back by a Senator he thought was a friend and nearly destroyed by the press of a powerful political machine because his idealism threatens the corrupt powers that be, right?

    You know, in the original ending, they manage to drive Smith from office, but he continues to influence political debate from his Facebook page. True story.

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