If Politicians Have Short Attention Spans, Then Why Do Economists (Or Anyone) Ever Think About Long-Term Problems?
-- Posted by Neil H. Buchanan One of the most widely accepted, and most universally deplored, aspects of modern representative democracy is that politicians are almost necessarily myopic. U.S. Representatives serve two-year terms, so that they are never more than a year or so away from their next possible primary challenge. Presidents are often accused of spending their first four years trying to achieve short-term policy victories that will matter immediately, because wise policies that take decades to pay off will only help someone else get re-elected. Even U.S. Senators, who win six-year terms, now find themselves in the "money primary" as soon as the last election is over, thus thinking at all times only about what can make supporters happy as soon as possible. This conventional wisdom, in turn, has led to the creation of systems of governance that are deliberately insulated from short-term political winds. The most important of these is the Federal Reserve, which