26 September 2011

The Need for Democratic Institutional Imagination (2)

Not long ago I wrote this critical post in response to a policy recommendation by Dani Rodrik for depoliticizing fiscal policy by handing it over to undemocratic technocrats. I will not repeat my case here, but the idea is a very bad one. But it seems to be somewhat popular as now Peter Orszag has championed the cause of "less democracy."

But the problem with technocracy is that it doesn't work so well. Who will guard the guardians when - as is the case with (ooops!) Peter Osrzag - they trade their high-level technocratic positions in government for high paying corporate gigs? Just where are the disinterested technocrats when you need one? We need more accountability, not less! We need not only institutional imagination, but democratic institutional imagination!

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Blogger James Dunne said...


Catherine Rampell comes down on the side of democracy here, and does a pretty good job chastising those who believe they can whittle subjective value judgements down to the "laws" of economics.

80+ years ago, John Dewey wrote that "the invasion and partial destruction of the life of local communities by outside uncontrolled agencies is the immediate source of the instability, disintegration and restlessness which characterize the present epoch." When Rodrik (who I generally admire) and Orzsag regard technocracy as a protection against populist rage, they fail to observe that they are promoting exactly the sort of inner-circle, undemocratic decision making process that the populists rage against.

28 September, 2011 09:19  

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