Blame vetocracy

I came across this paper on infrastructure costs via Eli Dourado.

Its highlights:

  1. Real spending per mile on insterstate construction has increased more than 3x from the 1960s to the 1980s;
  2. This increase is not due to geographic cost determinants;
  3. This increase is not due to increases in labour or materials prices; and
  4. This increase is mostly due to the rise of “citizen voice” in government decision-making.

Further in the paper,

“We define ‘citizen voice’ as a set of institutional changes — a combination of social movements, legislation, and judicial doctrine — that significanlty expanded the opportunity for citizens to directly influence government behavior to reflect their concerns.”

Larry Summers calls this the “promiscuous distribution of veto powers”. Francis Fukuyama calls it vetocracy.

It’s our biggest political problem.