Applying people power to public choice

— Sakmongkol AK47
The Malaysian insider
Jul 07, 2012

JULY 7 — We are familiar with the seasonal bargain sales whenever we approach the days of cultural and religious festivities. Even before Hari Raya (the Muslim religious festivities after a month long of fasting), the public is flooded with all sorts of bargain sales.

A popular clothing merchant has launched its pre-Hari Raya sales of fine textiles. Other merchants have also launched their own bargain sales.

These bargain sales, however, pale in comparison with the bargain sales offered by the chief snake-oil peddler in Malaysia — the PM.

By means of logrolling bargains, he dishes out economic morsels large enough to secure the votes from the public. Logrolling is a term used commonly in the US to refer to the granting of fevers by politicians seeking re-election to selected groups in exchange for their support and votes.

Najib’s grant of an advance of RM 15,000 to Felda settlers is a logrolling act. Now, Felda settlers realize they have been short-changed. The 15,000 is a sweetener to lessen the anger at receiving 810 units of share amounting to around RM 600 gross value in profit. Settlers have been used and piggybacked by rent seekers to make a killing at the stock market.

Najib announces the grant of free tyres to cab drivers is another example of logrolling act aimed at getting votes from tax drivers. The RM 500 assistance after 50 years amounting to RM10 a year of our existence is another sorry example of a logroller. Why the necessity of giving the RM 500 in the first place unless your policies of ameliorating poverty has failed miserably?

Indeed, if one observes carefully, this is how he thinks he solves people’s problems. Providing short-term solutions to long-term problems. Providing snake oil for short-lived relief rather than long-term and longer-living solutions.

So he does the entirely opposite to what the second PM of Malaysia resolved to do — to give people fish instead of providing them the means to fish. So the short-term handing out of the fish will allow recipients to eat once. That, to Najib, is his most effective way of resolving problems.

Public choice theory

I have been receiving comments from one particular individual who has been writing on the subject of public choice theory. I believe this person has done some extensive reading on the subject or he/she is a lecturer at a university teaching that subject.

The issue of public choice has also been studied by economists especially in their attempts to explain how public choices are determined. I am sure readers can read on this subject freely at their own time. I don’t want therefore to impose my own lack of understanding on this subject on them.

Here, I am going to write on my interpretation of one aspect of public choice. Knowing that it’s too risky to allow decisions affecting our lives to be made by a single person or even a legislative body, we need to demand the setting up of institutions to compensate for the inherent weaknesses of the legislator.

We must insist on the setting up of institutions and institutionalised rules and regulations and strict adherence to them to establish respect to law and order. We don’t have strict adherence to them now because the snake oil salesman keeps on moving the goalposts. Otherwise we are going to be manipulated by a maverick and a trickster such as the snake-oil salesman.

We need an institutionalised system even if Pakatan Rakyat takes over to compensate, like I said, for the inherent weaknesses and excesses of the legislator. Decisions are made by a committee or the entire legislative body is a myth, really.

Because decisions are made by individuals and when made by individuals, they reflect invariably their personal motivations and values. Najib’s motives, for example, are purely to seek re-election and to stay on as the worse half of the first couple.

Contrary to popular thinking, the decisions involving the lives of the public (education, business projects) are not determined by the people collectively. We only have the illusion that the legislators we elected before, give form and substance to what we want.

The reality is the choices that eventually affect the lives of the public are made by the select few because of their own self interests. Here is the upshot of the whole theory: When framing the choices that are made out as choices decided upon by the public; it’s done essentially by the lone or select few decision makers.

The choices these people make have nothing to do with the wishes of the general public. They are done mostly to ensuring the longevity of the re-election seeker.

Furthermore, the choices made by the chief decision maker reflect his personal motivations. He is not entirely motivated by the pursuit of public welfare but more by the pursuit of his self-preservation. He trades favours by logrolling. Money in exchange for allegiance and support.

Money to taxi drivers to get their support. The long-term solution of giving direct taxi permits will only be implemented in two years’ time. By that time, the Umno division heads and those proximate to corridors of power would have filled up their bellies. The small morsels will be handed to tax drivers.

Why not now? In two years’ time, some of the taxi drivers may even be dead. —

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 5:29 am

    Should give boat engines, fishing nets, petrol instead of money.
    Like before, children will use all to enjoy and buy new motor bikes.
    Then the fathers have more problems with finance companies after the children for prompt payments.
    We have seen RM1 million given to each family under Mahathir’s and all spent by the children within few years…….all gone and thousands went bankrupt.
    Najib need to mix with fishermen to know they are responsible fathers and know how to save little by little for every events.
    UMNO b keep using money to buy votes in so many forms.
    Najib general knowledge of the People very poor.

  2. #2 by Winston on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 6:51 am

    It all boils down to one thing.
    And one thing only.
    And that is, how do we, the electorate, stop a government, once given a mandate, from acting in any way it deems fit regardless of the interests of the people?
    What mechanism is there to prevent a runaway freight train from destroying everything in its path?
    Any answers?

  3. #3 by Winston on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 9:05 am

    Folks, allow me to digress.
    The following heading says it all:
    “Mugabe returns from medical checks in Singapore”
    How come he doesn’t come to Malaysia where everything is boasted to be the best?
    And his fellow dictator, the mamak ex pm is here?
    Perhaps he has greater faith in Singapore’s medical care?

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 9:06 am

    Whether autocracy or democracy, dictator or parliamentary majority the argument here is that even in democracy founded on parliamentary majority, the governmental policies that emanate from it may be influenced by selfish or short sighted motives of a leader who may well be a peddler of snake oil so to speak. Or even in case of parliamentary majority (ostensibly representing the people’s voice whether in parliament or congress etc), representatives may be influenced by rent seekers cronies and lobbyists so that the policies that impact on the lives of the public (education, business projects) do not, as they eventually turn out, serve the interests of the public/people, rather they reflect personal motivations and values of the so called representatives. The argument for public choice to be determined by the people collectively appears here to rest on “the setting up of institutions and institutionalised rules and regulations and strict adherence to them to establish respect to law and order”. It is doubtful that this is solution because institutions are also helmed and run by people and these people can also be influenced by rent seekers cronies and lobbyists whether within or outside government or political parties. The problem lies more in the field of education and ethics regarding in what way within an evolving society, the proper values may be inculcated and how ethically challenged norms/values and their sources may otherwise be neutralized.

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 9:36 am

    It cannot be denied that logrolling act is a form of money politics. Unfortunately, Jibby falls in love with it.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 10:07 am

    Money money money like honey take that and be darlings…vote for me.
    Trust me…more money will be given to you.
    I need your support………your votes and with a majority with my power….you will not need to worry about no money.
    I help you with money….you help me to stay as Prime Minster. Deal ore nor deal?
    I will lay down my life to protect traitors take over the government. Join me. Victory means more money to you and your families.
    I have the power over oil…timber…land.
    I decides all laws.
    I control the Police.
    Money is the Power………billions upon billions under my control.
    Support UMNO b and all will have very comfortable lives.
    Traitors will be our slavers.
    We are GODS chosen to rule forever.
    You can go to hell….if you do not believe and trust me.

  7. #7 by monsterball on Sunday, 8 July 2012 - 10:14 am

    Why does Lim Kit Siang hates me so much?….said Mahathir.
    LKS replied he does not hate him but hates his Mahathirism…..and more than 220 commentators fired rockets at Mamak..asking him…why does he hat Dollah and Anwar so much?
    87 years old…..never change..never will.

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