04 November 2008

Make campaigning meaningful: focus on outcomes

[T]he opposite of competition is not solidarity, but monopolies and the maintenance of privilege. ...too much state spending involves taking money from the many, who pay taxes and consume goods, and handing it to the few: ex-state monopolies, special interests, regional favourites or incumbents. As a rule of thumb...politicians will rarely challenge interests that feature in children's books: such as farmers, fishermen, firemen and those who build exciting things. Europe's baleful bail-outs, 'The Economist', 1 November
It is not the size of these subsidies or their wastefulness or their contribution to environmental collapse and social injustice, but their persistence in the face of the overwhelming evidence of their perversity that makes one despair about the political system that cannot eliminate them. Consider some of the issues that did get the attention of the media in the US election campaign: the offhand comments of close relatives and pastors of the candidates; similarly casual comments about 'spreading the wealth'; costs of the candidates' clothes.... There's nothing necessarily wrong with raising these issues. It is just a pity that in the absence of any debate about substance we try to infer what the candidates' real intentions or character are from their behaviour. One of the benefits of a Social Policy Bond approach is that political debate would we could avoid this nonsense and focus directly on the outcomes that candidates say the want to achieve.

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