Self-interest and incompetence

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira

Journal of Post Keynesian Economics 23(3), Spring 2001: 363-373.


All social science's schools have a common assumption: self-interests is the central variable explaining human behavior in society. The author has no contention about that. But says that in contemporary societies a second variable is turning increasingly relevant when one is willing to explain social outcomes: policymakers' technical and emotional incompetence. Incompetent policymakers, who fail to choose the alternative more consistent with their own objectives, even when interests were neutralized, always existed. But now, that an increasing number of social outcomes are dependent on government policy, competence turned strategic. Besides self-interest, competence must be assessed when one evaluates social outcomes.


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