Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Technocrat=Good Government

Felix Salmon is blogging at Reuters now. He highlights lots of stuff I like, and a lot I don't like (mainly, too many posts). Felix Simon on 'good government':

a government of technocrats — which is what I think we now have — is nearly always to be preferred to a government of idealogues

In my experience 'technocrat' means a details oriented politician who does 'good' things, and is used more often by European journalists, probably because they tend to be even more supportive of government planners. 'Good' is whatever increases social welfare over the long run.

Technocrat means 'detail-oriented wonk I like' just as fascist means 'power grabbing politician I don't like'. One's preferences can be well reasoned and correct, but don't kid yourself that only those that agree with you are being objective. It is important to remember that while there is a lot of bad faith in argumentation, there is always a principled position behind either side of any policy debate. One side may be wrong, but it is not untenable.

Thus, not everyone who thinks giving free food to poor single mothers is a bad (or good) idea is an idealogue. Same act, different interpretation. Merit pay for teachers, nationalizing banks, investing in ethanol infrastructure, 'card check' for unions, all involve 'technical' issues, detail. But there is no way one can avoid coming out looking partisan at then end because unintentionally or not your solution will by simpatico with the Left or Right.

1 comment:

Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu said...

Very good point. I always thought "technocrat" meant someone who worked or studied as a scientist or engineer and went into politics instead of academia.