Monday, June 23, 2008

New Op-ed at Fox News: Why Political Flip-Flopping Matters

My newest op-ed at Fox News can be read in full here:

What restrains politicians and businesses from acting dishonestly? A lot of people would answer: nothing.

Periodic political and corporate scandals have created a popular image of politicians and businessmen as little more than a collection of cheats, liars and crooks. However, while there will always be some dishonest people in any profession, the vast majority of American politicians and businessmen do not end up being frog marched out of their offices in handcuffs with their heads held low in shame before a gaggle of news cameras.

What helps keep companies honest is the threat that if they cheat customers, people won’t buy from them again. But that won’t work for politicians. Politicians don’t always have the incentive of re-election because eventually they all face a last term in office. Politicians retire at some point. They can’t live forever.

So, if it isn't the threat of facing the voters, what could ensure that politicians keep their promises?

There has been a lot academic work studying this question, and the way to solve the problem is to elect politicians who inherently value the policy positions that they take. . . . .

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