A tirania da economia política

CAMBRIDGE – Houve um tempo em que nós, economistas, nos mantínhamos longe da política. Para nós, o nosso trabalho era descrever como funcionam as economias de mercado, quando falham, e como as políticas bem planeadas podem aumentar a eficiência. Analisávamos os trade-offs entre os objectivos concorrentes (digamos, a equidade versus a eficiência) e recomendávamos políticas que atendessem os resultados económicos desejados, incluindo a redistribuição. Cabia aos políticos aceitarem o nosso conselho (ou não) e aos burocratas implementá-lo.

Foi então que alguns de nós se tornaram mais ambiciosos. Frustrados com a realidade de grande parte dos nossos conselhos ter sido ignorada (tantas soluções para o mercado livre ainda à espera de serem tomadas!), desviámos o nosso jogo de ferramentas analítico para o próprio comportamento dos políticos e dos burocratas. Começámos a analisar o comportamento político utilizando a mesma estrutura conceptual que utilizamos para as decisões dos consumidores e dos produtores numa economia de mercado. Os políticos tornaram-se nos fornecedores que maximizam o rendimento dos favores políticos; os cidadãos tornaram-se nos lóbis dos lucros monopolistas e em interesses especiais; e os sistemas políticos tornaram-se nos mercados onde os votos e a influência política são negociados para benefícios económicos.

Assim nasceu o campo da economia política de escolha racional e um estilo de teorizar que muitos cientistas políticos prontamente procuram igualar ou ultrapassar. A aparente recompensa era que agora poderíamos explicar porque é que os políticos fizeram tantas coisas que violaram a racionalidade económica. Na verdade, não havia nenhum mau funcionamento económico que as duas palavras “direitos adquiridos” não pudessem explicar.

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