Arnold Kling has a new spin on Hayek’s “Why The Worst Get To The Top”:
The main science of political economy is the science of obtaining and retaining power. As far as expertise goes, the pollster, the fundraiser, and the media expert are all fundamental to the operation. The public policy expert is for decoration. If you want to be an economic policy adviser when you grow up, then my advice is to learn to rationalize the methods used by leading politicians to obtain power.
Is health care reform about health care? No, it is about seizing and retaining power. Was the stimulus about stimulus? No, was about seizing and retaining power. Is cap and trade about global warming? No, it is about seizing and retaining power. Was TARP about saving the financial system? No, it was about seizing and retaining power.
The social scientist’s role in the political process is to say, “X is a problem. Government must solve X. Here are some solutions.” The solutions that rationalize seizing and retaining power will bubble to the top.