From a slack conversation
Say you have a grandmother, who has lived in her house for sixty years and you accidentally break a lamp of hers – you go to replace it run into the following problem: The lamp itself is 60 years old and they don’t make it anymore.
No problem you say the world of lamps is diverse and varied – however her house has evolved over the past sixty years as things have worn out and been replaced. Nothing is in any way “Standard” (like it would be for a 19 year old’s first apartment where anything is fine). You find that they don’t really make a lamp that “goes” anywhere near as well as the original lamp. The varieties of lamp have increased arithmetically, whereas the complexities of Grandma’s house have increased exponentially – and finding a replacement is more tied to that – so, therefore
Time Spent Finding Perfect Lamp = 1/Number of Lamps Available * Complexity of Grandmas’s house,
where complexity of grandma’s house is a function of age (cognitive decline), wealth, and time spent in house
The comparisons would be existing interest groups, the perception of Pareto optimality as “fair”, all of the existing public and private programs, etc
You need some degree of Pareto optimality since everyone has some degree of veto power, “log rolling” used to be the solution to these sorts of things. That becomes less possible with more complex interest group relations