Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What choice?

I don’t know a whole lot about public choice theory, but I have heard most of the arguments in this podcast from other contexts. I was a little disappointed with the presentation. If his point was simply that politicians have individual incentives, fine. Say that in one line. If the point was that aggregation of choices can be non-transitive, ok we get it. The problem I have is that there was an extraordinary case of diarrhea from the mouth here that never led to any sort of conclusion or solution. Seriously, we already know from Ken Arrow’s impossibility theorem that sequential voting while eliminating alternatives can be non-transitive. We know from Black’s theorem that voters tend to move toward the center in two party elections, and that the voters nearest the poles are least likely to be represented. We have all heard that each individual vote counts for very little, again from Arrow. And we know that a three party option leaves all parties with no best response function (Hoteling). We have also already solved the dollar auction problem by avoiding such bidding processes. Just bid $0.99 from the start and avoid the war. But what does that even matter in public choice. I ended the podcast with the feeling that the lecturer had a grim view of politics, feels they are a waste of time and money and that since we are rationally ignorant, nothing will change. Can I have my hour back?


  1. I had a similar feeling after listening to the podcast. A "well, duh" feeling which resulted in a occurrence of post writer's block...too much time for nothing too profound :-(

  2. Seriously. For an introduction to Public Choice theory this podcast was about as rambling and pointless as you can get.