George Will devotes his column today to my GMU Law colleague Ilya Somin’s great new book, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter. Here are the closing paragraph’s of Will’s column:
Political ignorance, Somin argues, strengthens the case for judicial review by weakening the supposed “countermajoritarian difficulty” with it. If much of the electorate is unaware of the substance or even existence of policies adopted by the sprawling regulatory state, the policies’ democratic pedigrees are weak. Hence Somin’s suggestion that the extension of government’s reach “undercuts democracy more than it furthers it.”
An engaged judiciary that enforced the Framers’ idea of government’s “few and defined” enumerated powers (Madison, Federalist 45), leaving decisions to markets and civil society, would, Somin thinks, make the “will of the people” more meaningful by reducing voters’ knowledge burdens. Somin’s evidence and arguments usefully dilute the unwholesome democratic sentimentality and romanticism that encourage government’s pretensions, ambitions and failures.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Stanford’s John Taylor challenges the again-emerging claim that the U.S. economy is the victim of “secular stagnation.” A slice (in which Taylor ought to have mentioned the important work of Bob Higgs on regime uncertainty):
In the current era, business firms have continued to be reluctant to invest and hire, and the ratio of investment to GDP is still below normal. That is most likely explained by policy uncertainty, increased regulation, including through the Dodd Frank and Affordable Care Act, about which there is plenty of evidence, especially in comparison with the secular stagnation hypothesis.
A successful politician knows how to promise the moon—knowing that the moon’s out of reach—and knows that he can blame his opponents for sabotaging a mission that would have landed his starry-eyed followers on the most desolate soil (he’ll have them believing the other side stole them from his make-[them]-believe land of milk and honey).
So, while, along with personal liberty, employment (of the very folks who he’s there to “help”) in New York City will surely suffer at the hands of its new mayor, I don’t know that we’ll get to see many progressive policies “prove their merit”.
I just found this excellent essay, from back in July, by Doug Bandow on the dangers of a “national service” requirement – a requirement driven by illiberal sentiments not much different from those that were properly condemned by Art Carden in one of his best EconLog posts.