One of the frustrating things about democracy (aided and abetted by systematic flaws in our reasoning skills) is that it in most cases it results in governments that are bad at addressing long term challenges. The need to maintain short term popularity (and the oppositional system that creates incentives for vested interests to spread FUD) results in governments that are unwilling to propose radical changes, and particularly unwilling to ask any kind of sacrifice from the electorate. It’s all about the illusion of short term gain. The long term pain is somebody else’s problem.
Peak oil and climate change are two big, obvious issues where most countries are failing to take the required action. Here’s another NZ case in point:
Govt must address costs of ageing – NZIER
However, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) chief executive Jean-Pierre de Raad says the Government should be looking ahead for a way to deal with the long-term costs of an ageing population. …
He says this year’s Budget “doesn’t do anything about [long-term costs]” and while it is important that New Zealand addresses the effects of the global financial crisis and local events like the Christchurch quake, “ultimately we have to turn our minds to the long term”.
“[These are] big-ticket items that may be good politics but they’re poor economics… we will need to tackle them at some stage, and it’s better to do them sooner.”
I see the problem, but I don’t see the solution. How to we improve the consideration of long term issues in the political process? How do we build in incentives to take these issues seriously? How do we, in effect, give the future a vote?