Catching up on her New Yorkers, the Nonprofiteer stumbled upon Louis Menand’s review of a book by George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan, who argues that democracies are set up to produce bad policies. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Professor Caplan claims things would be better if fewer people voted instead of more. Moreover, those fewer people should have knowledge of economics–at least the micro- ultra-capitalist kind espoused by Milton Friedman and his Chicago-school buddies, not to mention by Professor Caplan himself. This knowledge should be a prerequisite for having input into policy decisions and a voice in choosing the nation’s leaders.
Menand does a fine job of analyzing and deconstructing this argument, but he misses one trick. People who think political problems have economic solutions are called fascists–and that’s not an epithet but a definition. The 20th Century provided ample evidence that fascism does not, in fact, make policy choices superior to those of democracy. One hopes we don’t have to re-learn that lesson in the 21st Century.