Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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    Myths About Technocrats

    “Politicians” and “technocrats” work together in modern governance. On behalf of constituents, “politicians” (some of whom are elected) argue for policy (some of whom are voters). The engineers of public policy are known as “technocrats.” They crunch the figures, meticulously quantifying social occurrences, examining cause and effect, and thoroughly and “scientifically” evaluating policies.

    When this partnership proceeds as planned, politicians of all stripes accept the technocrats’ measures and analyses as reality. Politicians are not expected to argue about the rate of GDP growth, the poverty rate, or the benefits of tax cuts.

    We readily accept technocrats’ techniques, in part because we believe technocrats will be impartial and neutral. We anticipate them defying political pressure (even the pressures of their own political opinions). We are aware that they are prone to succumbing to such pressure, but we are dissatisfied when they do.

    In reality, protecting technocrats’ impartiality from political pressures is difficult since their measurements are not as precise as we would like to believe. As a result, the question of how to conduct such measurements becomes a political one.

    Technocrats are aware of their measurements’ faults and are continuously working to improve them. Politicians who utilize technocratic measures and analyses in their projects are less flexible because they see them as more rigid and objective than they are. 

    As the CPI grew more established in government policy, it drew in supporters who were less concerned with its accuracy and more concerned with what is delivered to them.

    To sum up, engineers have traditionally been characterized as either member of a “middle class” devoted to a distinct technical politics that rejects both labor and capital leadership, or as capital’s passive servants.

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