In response to my last post, Jim Dew expresses the intuition that politicians are self selected for the desire for power and control, and so we should expect politicians to seek power and control more than other people. This is an excellent point.

Here is how I think about it now:

We can think of all jobs as providing compensation along to dimensions: the opportunity to exert control over people and resources, and all other forms of compensation (mostly money, benefits etc.).

Political jobs, whether elected or unelected, offer comparatively more compensation in the form of opportunity to exert control over people and resources than other jobs, even those which offer the amount of ‘total’ compensation. This is especially true because many political jobs don’t pay very much.

We should expect those who find relatively more utility in exerting control over people and resources to prefer political jobs because they see political jobs as providing more total compensation than other jobs they can get.

We should also expect to see relatively more such people in political jobs because they will be willing to spend more resources to get those jobs. People who value control over people and resources relatively more than others, will spend more time and effort to cultivate the skills to get political jobs than others.

The net result is that people who have self selected to become politicians will be more motivated to exploit the opportunities to exert power and control over people and resources than others. I think that this same logic also applies to the desire to implement ideology, which I mentioned in my last post, because there are very few opportunities to implement ideology outside of government. Therefore we should expect politicians to be more motivated to advance their ideology than others.