Sunday, February 20, 2011

Markets Work as Does Democracy (Or Does It?)

The conventional wisdom among economists is that markets work and so does democratic decision-making ~ such as markets produce efficient outcomes and public policy choices reflect the preferences of the median voter. With respect to public policy, special-interest groups are often over-looked.

To non-economists, the notion that special interests don't matter seem absurd. The peddling of influence between special-interest groups and politicians is widely viewed by the lay-public as a pervasive form of democracy-subverting corruption that is detrimental to citizens and to society.

Lobbying, so the saying goes, is bribery done the American way. Who is right? Economists or everyone else? A large body of literature does indeed reveal that statistical links between money and political outcomes are hard to uncover. However, a growing body of work that examines the influence of special-interest groups around the world finds evidence that such groups are detrimental to economic activity and do indeed exert influence on public policy.

Bonnie Wilson, an associate professor of economics at Saint Louis University, will discuss these topics and more at a lecture scheduled for Wed., Feb. 23, from 6-7:30 pm at Carswell Hall, Annenberg Forum.

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