Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:51 AM
xchrom (108,903 posts)
How Game Theory Explains Washington's Horrible Gridlock
Again and again while trying to understand the fiscal machinations of Congress, I find myself referring to a simple analytical approach acquired at university: game theory. The construct, popular among economists, sheds light both on what has happened in Washington and on how the bargaining power of its negotiating parties may evolve over time. And it points to less-than-reassuring prospects if the overriding objective is -- as, certainly, it should be -- to improve America's economic outlook in a meaningfully and sustainable manner in the years ahead.
An important aspect of game theory sets out conditions under which negotiating parties end up cooperating well, and why they fail to do so. It does so based on analyzing what drives individuals in the majority of bargaining situations: incentives, access to information, initial power conditions, the extent of mutual trust, and accountability enforcement.
This intuitive framework provides immediate insights into why members of Congress find it so difficult to come up with a coherent fiscal approach -- or, indeed, a coherent approach on virtually anything. Simply put, good cooperative outcomes are unlikely to emerge when, as is the case on today's Capitol Hill, individual and collective incentives are misaligned, access to information is asymmetrical, relative power is fluid, each party doubts that the other will deliver on their commitments, and there is no way to enforce credibility.
For reasons detailed well by Nate Silver and others, a meaningful portion of Congress responds to local incentives and selection processes. And in today's polarized America, these regional forces do not align well with national needs.
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Response to xchrom (Original post)
Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:58 AM
Sekhmets Daughter (7,486 posts)
1. The GOP
has taken gerrymandering to such extremes House representatives need fear only primaries from the right...While they may retain the House for a decade, it doesn't bode well for their chances of regaining the senate or the WH. The only away around it is for the big bucks to come in and let the party assholes know that they will spend whatever it takes to throw them out...