Tag Archives: Thomas Paine

Politics Without Romance

Commenter James Devine writes:

I am tired of people saying Americans & their government cannot do anything right.

This brings to mind the opening sentence of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense:

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.

I think individuals, in this country and elsewhere, do a lot of things spectacularly well. But good people don’t always produce good outcomes when they interact through political institutions. And good political economy, in my view, is about analyzing political outcomes as they actually are, not as we wish them to be.

The Nobel Laureate, James Buchanan, called this “politics without romance.”