Public Policy is Not Zero Sum

I think that if you want to puzzle through the question of whether or not the large status quo bias of the American system is good for liberals you have to start with the observation that public policy is not a zero-sum game. The fact that conservatives complain about growth-stifling inefficient regulations doesn’t mean that liberals should go out of our way to accomplish things through the most inefficient and growth-stifling means possible.

In Canada, their health care system is more equitable and it spends less taxpayer cash per patient. Traditionally, conservatives don’t point to Canada’s health care system as a conservative victory but they do point to Canada’s low taxes which are in part a consequence of its efficient single-payer health care system. So is that a conservative win or a liberal one? Well, it’s both. The main upshot of many features of the US political system that I don’t like is to enhance the influence of interest groups and decrease the influence of ideologues and technocrats. This is basically by design and reflects 18th century state of the art thinking about the dangers of liberal governance being trampled by demagogues. Insofar as the balance we’re currently striking is inappropriate to the conditions of the 21st century United States that’s bad for the right and the left.