专横的政治经济学

美国剑桥—曾几何时,我们经济学家与政治井水不犯河水。在我们看来,我们的职责是描述市场经济如何运行、什么时候会失灵,精心设计的政策如何能够增进效率。我们在竞争性将目标(比如公平和效率)之间做权衡分析,为所欲的经济结果(包括再分配)开政策药方。接不接受我们的建议是政客的事情,实施它们则是官僚的事情。

后来,我们中有一些人雄心有所膨胀。我们的许多建议被忽视(如此之多的自由市场解决方案从未被使用过!),这一事实令我们颇为尴尬,于是我们把政客和官僚本身的行为也纳入了我们的分析范围。我们开始用与考察市场经济中的消费者和生产者的决策相同的概念框架考察政治行为。政客成为收入最大化的政策选择供给者;人民成为寻租游说者和特殊利益者;而政治制度成为为了经济目的交易选票和政治影响的市场。

于是,理性选择政治经济学就这样诞生了,随之诞生的是许多让政治学家亦步亦趋的理论套路。显而易见的好处是,如今我们可以解释政客为什么会做那么多违反经济理性的事情。事实上,没有一种经济失灵不能用“既得利益”四个字来解释。

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