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December 02, 2011

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 Luis Enrique

" The trouble is, they just don’t have so much in common with the rest of us. "

I don't know. It's possible "the rest of us" contains multitudes that are even more deluded than the average politician, where I imagine a degree of realism is actually helpful. I am not sure where the average politician or CEO sits in the distribution of these biases, but I don't think they are outliers. I think you have an overly rosy view of the rest of us.

Jorjun

'Osbrown' moniker has little danger of sticking, the chancellor has demonstrated the minimum degree of compassion towards an expanded bureaucracy by trying to find ways to pay for it. This together with benefit rises, should minimise the pain as Britain attempts to restore solvency after a prolonged, progressive assault.

The public, included our indoctrinated your, will begin to realise that no conservative wants to be a tough love pariah these days. Not after the reverberations that are still on-going after the 1980s.
Gently, gently is a million miles away from central planning. Most importantly the groan-making, condescending mendacious rhetoric is far less evident with Mr Osborne.

Patrick

Billy Connolly: 'Anyone who wants to be a politician should be automatically barred from being one.'

 Luis Enrique

Chris,

you are probably right that the kind of people who self-select into any sort of leadership role have particular characteristics*, and that the interactions with the media, groupthink, etc. are unhealthy.

Doesn't this all apply to workers' democracy too? Why is that selection mechanism going to do any better? I shudder to think at the individuals I know would put themselves forward for election on committees that run things, if the workers ever took over here.

*although we do not observe those that would self-select into that role but don't make it because they are worse than those who do - this may be a large group, hence my belief actually observed leaders may be less extreme than you portray them.

Jimmy Hill

I agree with Luis.

If you take the fundamental attribution error I'm sure that before politicians become politicians (when they are one of us) they subscribe to the power of human agency. However, once they have taken the reins of power they tend to soon realise that what they can do as a single politician is limited.

Politicians autobiographies are full of explanations about why they couldn't get such and such reform through because of the prevailing circumstances, election worries etc. I expect right now George Osbourne knows better than anyone that there isn't a great deal he can do to promote the UK to a trend growth rate of 3%.

However, the rest of us probably do succumb to the fundamental attribution error rather easily. How many op-eds will comment on the state of the economy by focusing almost exclusively on what Osbourne has done and what he hasn't done, and what really should be done? This might just be an exercise in political point scoring on behalf of the writer but for many who read these accounts they will come away thinking "If only we had the right person in charge all our woes would be banished!"

Luis Enrique

Talking of individuals making a difference, I have been trying to locate a quote from a political economist to the effect that it's very hard to account for the history of most countries without allowing a role for individual politicians to make a difference. I think they meant in the sense that they come along and do something political economy models, supposedly capturing the forces of circumstance, say they ought not be doing.

But I can't find it

ejh

What cognitive biases do we have about politicians?

Andrew

As depressives reverse attribution error is this a solution to choosing our leaders? Bi-polars should be excluded!

Keith

How far are you assuming sincerity? Surely most of what poiticos say is a lie or gross simplification? To simplify severely about complex problems is a form of lying and they do it all the time. Osborne is worse than brown only to the degree that he is going further along the road to cuts. Shrinking the welfare state by making it harder to claim and reducing rates of benefit is the policy of Brown and Osborne. Privatisation too. All the same as they are not affected only other people not in the "elite". In Animal farm at the end we look back and forth between pig and human and see no difference. Well orwell got that one right.

Keith

On the other hand leaving aside the class position of the ruling class their psychology is the same as every one else. It was foolish to think deregulation would not produce a economic crisis eventually as it always does! But Governments like sub prime borrowers want to think the boom will be for ever as they get more tax revenue until the crunch and no one can tell exactly when the crunch will hit. Wishful thinking works fine for a time. If the tories had been "in" during the boom they would have been just as myopic. No one wants the punch Bowel removed once the party is in full swing.

Ashwin

As Pete Townshend said, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

Jorjun

Let's stick to the economics. Brown's fundamental dishonesty was motivated by a desire to avoid the punishment inflicted on the Tory's by 14% mortgage rates, and negative equity. He 'freed' the bank of England, which I now take as a euphemism for nobbling it eg. (they were prevented from assisting Northern Rock transition). The inflation measure constantly ignored the rampant house price inflation that we could all see was driving a £40 billion credit-fuelled stimulous. If you couldn't see the boom for what it was, then you were making out like all the other bandits.

canigetoutofdebt

A government who are unsure as if what they are ding is correct they just
say to us public they know what they are doing and trying to get us to believe their way is the best way.

There is an opposition who as you expect an opposition to do criticise but unable to come up with any alternative policies.

Politicians working for the good of the nation? - I doubt it they are self serving and aking most of their time in office while they get the chance.

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