On the other side, however, are most experts in concrete policy analysis. They spend their time studying ways that schools could help people to learn more material, hospitals could help people get healthier, charities could better assist people in need, and so on. They thus implicitly accept the usual claims people make about what they are trying to achieve via schools, hospitals, charities, etc. And so the practice of policy experts disagrees a lot with our claims that people actually care more about other ends, and that this is why most people show so little interest in reforms proposed by policy experts. (The world shows great interest in new kinds of physical devices and software, but far less interest in most proposed social reforms.)
Tyler Cowen adds,
Policy analysis, while it often incorporates behavioral considerations, when studying say health care, education, and political economy, very much neglects the fact that often both the producers and consumers in these areas have hypocritical motives. For that reason, what appears to be a social benefit is often merely a private benefit in disguise, and sometimes it is not even a private benefit.
Some comments of my own.
1. This is where George Mason has a very distinctive point of view. Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education will be out soon. There is Hansonian medicine. And of course The Elephant in the Brain.
2. My minor contribution is to say that whatever the policy analyst inputs to the policy process, the output is usually policies that subsidize demand and restrict supply. See my book Specialization and Trade.
3. And of course there is the whole Hayekian theme that about what policy analysts do not know about complex problems.
It is too bad that there is so much resistance to these ideas, all of which seem persuasive to me.