People have a pessimistic bias where they believe economic conditions are not as good as they really are and things are going from bad to worse. This is the message of doomsayers, but the reality is quite different. By any measure of well-being, Americans at the start of this century are far better off than Americans at the beginning of the last century. Perennial doom-and-gloom predictions about resource depletion, overpopulation and environmental quality are exaggerated and often the opposite of the truth. Preaching doom and gloom has been beneficial to the political class. They use it to gain more power and control.
Caplan is one of George Mason University Economics Department's up-and-coming young scholars. In fact, I'm proud to say, he was hired during my department chairmanship. "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies" is a highly readable and interesting political-economic discussion of why we choose bad policies. Those policies are harmful to the general public but beneficial to particular interest groups who gain from restrictions on peaceable, voluntary exchange. Maybe that's why our founders loathed a democracy and gave us a republic -- which we've lost.
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