La tirannide dell'economia politica

CAMBRIDGE – C'è stato un tempo in cui gli economisti si tenevano alla larga dalla politica, poiché pensavano che il proprio lavoro consistesse nel descrivere il funzionamento, così come il malfunzionamento, delle economie di mercato, e nel sottolineare come delle buone politiche potessero aumentare l'efficienza. Analizzavano le forme di compromesso tra obiettivi concorrenti (ad esempio, equità contro efficienza), e prescrivevamo ricette politiche volte all'ottenimento dei risultati economici auspicati, come la ridistribuzione. Compito dei politici era seguire (o meno) il loro consiglio, e dei burocrati metterlo in atto.

A un certo punto, però, alcuni di loro sono diventati più ambiziosi. Frustrati dal fatto che, nella maggior parte dei casi, il consiglio dato restava inascoltato (sono così tante le soluzioni per il libero mercato ancora in attesa di essere considerate!), hanno tarato i propri strumenti di analisi sul comportamento degli stessi politici e burocrati, e cominciato a esaminarlo in base allo stesso sistema concettuale utilizzato per le decisioni riguardanti consumatori e produttori nell’ambito di un'economia di mercato. I politici sono, così, diventati dei fornitori di favori politici tesi alla massimizzazione del profitto, i cittadini dei gruppi d'interesse a caccia di rendite, e i sistemi politici una sorta di mercati in cui si barattano sostegno politico e voti con vantaggi economici.

Questa è stata la genesi dell'economia politica basata sulla scelta razionale e di uno stile improntato alla teorizzazione, che molti scienziati della politica si sono affrettati a emulare. L'apparente tornaconto era che ora si riusciva a spiegare il motivo per cui i politici hanno così spesso agito contro la razionalità economica. In realtà, non vi era alcun malfunzionamento economico che l'espressione "interessi di parte" non fosse in grado di spiegare.

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