“It’s not enough for governments to simply be democratic,” Oxford professor Stein Ringen recently wrote in the Washington Post, “they must deliver or decay.”
Deliver what, you ask?
Ringen isn’t clear — surprise, surprise — but attacks “Thatcherite inequality” — though, he admits it’s worse today in Great Britain than when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister (1979-1990). Why no progress to his apparent ideal of economic equality? According to Ringen, “concentrations of economic power . . . have become unmanageable.”
He advances the same analysis of U.S. “democracy,” claiming that power has been “usurped by actors such as PACs, think tanks, media and lobbying organizations.”
Think tanks are a problem?
Ringen doesn’t explain how these additional voices serve to undercut “democracy.” Instead, he simply hurls broadsides against our “mega-expensive politics,” warning that, “When money is allowed to transgress from markets, where it belongs, to politics, where it has no business, those who control it gain power to decide who the successful candidates will be — those they wish to fund — and what they can decide once they are in office.”
There is generally money on both or numerous sides of any given policy question. There is certainly no monolithic “they” constituting “the rich” who decide our public policy over tea at the club. Pretending there is won’t help democracy.
“It is a misunderstanding to think that candidates chase money,” writes the professor from his ivory tower. “It is money that chases candidates.”
Really? Ringen can easily test his hypothesis: run for office and wait for all that money to chase him down.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.