Concepts of public choice are based on economic analysis of government behavior and of individual citizens with respect to government. It is evident that public choices are guided by different methods than in the private sector where individuals make decisions primarily affecting themselves and self-interest. In the public sphere political decisions are made that affect others, but public decision-makers are guided by the same personal reasons and interest as the businessman. This has become all too obvious from examining federal actions and failures relating to intelligence gathering, analysis and results, leading to avoidance of responsibility by senior government officials before and after terrorist attacks in the U.S. and result in lack from any accountability for dereliction. I view public choice economic analyses as a direct analog to the government paralysis and failures during this time of national need.
Public choice was articulated by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock about 40 years ago and is the focus of a new book titled "Government Failure" by Gordon Tullock, Arthur Seldon and Gordon Brady. Terrorism is not mentioned anywhere in this primer, but the parallels are crystal clear to any thoughtful reader. The authors make distinctions between the roles and power of bureaucrats who are actually more powerful than elected politicians. Economists base many predictions on the idea that individuals in the marketplace make decisions on an informed basis, while in politics, voter education and misinformation problems are more severe. Voters are badly informed, quite often favoring policies against their own interests. Most politicians, knowing this, attempt to design policies to attract ill-informed voters. In doing so the politician obscures intent while maintaining power in elected office, which is how every politician earns a living. There are even terms in the vernacular such as "log-rolling" (vote trading even when against in principle-pork in your and my district) and "rent seeking" (resource used to pay people with proceeds from activities that have negative social value-subsidizing tobacco farmers) that describe daily work of politicians. It is no wonder politicians are loathed by most of the population.