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How to overcome political myopia

Jonathan Boston, Professor of Public Policy at the Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Government, writes a post at the Statecrafting blog site (12.10.16) about the problem of short-termism, policy short-sightedness and political myopia which lies at the heart of contemporary democratic governance.

‘There is a widely recognised disorder at the heart of democratic governance, one that poses a serious threat to the well-being of both current and future generations. Many commentators call this disorder short-termism, policy short-sightedness or political myopia. Others talk of a presentist bias, a temporal asymmetry, an intertemporal problem and intergenerational buck-passing. While certainly not the only problem afflicting contemporary governance, it undoubtedly constitutes a major one and is closely correlated to, if not one of the causes of, many others.

‘In a recently published book - Governing for the Future  – I explore the nature, causes and consequences of the presentist bias in policy-making in advanced democracies. I also review many of the proposals that have been advanced over recent decades  –  from politicians, scholars, officials and others  –  to address its causes and/or counter its negative impacts.

‘… Protecting long-term interests in the face of powerful near-term pressures will never be easy. But this should not deter us from formulating carefully-tailored strategies to bring the future into short-term political focus –  systematically, rigorously and comprehensively.’

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