Wise words from Richard E. Wagner

From To Promote the General Welfare: Market Processes vs. Political Transfers, p. 56:

Whereas instances of policy failure are commonly attributed to ignorance or unforeseeable events, those failures may often be an understandable and predictable outcome of prevailing institutions—either as the intention of policy or as the by-product of a separate intention. Policy failure has often been attributed to mistakes and ignorance, but it might rather be the result of the rational pursuit of interest and not really a failure from the perspective of those whose interests are controlling the choice at hand. [emphasis mine]

I think something along these lines every time I hear somebody proclaim that the War on Drugs, some instance of foreign intervention, or a government department or policy is a failure.


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