Chapter

Pragmatic Policy in the Marketplace of Ideas

in The Private Abuse of the Public Interest

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226076423
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226076454 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226076454.003.0006
Pragmatic Policy in the Marketplace of Ideas

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This chapter outlines a realistic synthesis of government and markets. The investigation of promarket reforms has yielded three overarching conclusions. The first broad conclusion is that a return to the realism of Adam Smith and of other economic and social pragmatists is long overdue. The second general conclusion is that pressure from voters and stakeholders is an unavoidable ingredient in sustainable and effective policy, not an extraneous distraction that should be pushed beyond the pale of sound policy logic. Third, the uncritical promotion of markets as vehicles of effectiveness and efficiency served the conservative agenda well, but also carried a considerable cost: a growing disconnect between public rhetoric and political practice that blocked a balanced assessment of market forces in public policy. Promarket reforms have provoked a pragmatic reaction that expanded government roles in generating public goods, sustaining market allocations of resources, and offsetting damages and risks to individuals. A lingering question is whether this pragmatism stands at odds with basic American values of individualism and antistatism.

Keywords: government reform; government policy; realism; public policy; pragmatism; premarket reforms; big government

Chapter.  3517 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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