The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Immediate Benefits/Deferred Costs

I had noted earlier that "trial and error is the most consistently powerful method for attaining knowledge," and had suggested, that just as experimental trials have been powerful in advancing scientific, they'd also be powerful in improving public policy.

But I had a few caveats, mostly on the limits of when trial and error can be applied, but most important was the last: "it's a bit unrealistic to expect that governments, after a long history of ignoring scientific evidence and expert opinion, to suddenly start building policy on evidence." This is a statement that begs expansion, and we might mention many such as "diffuse costs/concentrated benefits," "rent seeking" and "regulatory capture."

Bryan Caplan also adds "Short Time Horizon," pointing to a nice explanation by Tim Hartford in his new book Adapt. Politicians have short terms and thus need to create visible benefits within short time periods. This leads to a condition we might call "Immediate Benefits/Deferred costs." And it makes running trials because trials take so long and frequently lead to unpopular conclusions.

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