Thursday, January 14, 2016 2:03 PM
The Logic of American Politics
- Choices are at the heart of American politics.
Politics comes from the need to choose among alternatives when differences make it impossible
for all people to get what they want.
- Choices breed conflict because of
○ Conflicting interests
○ Conflicting values
○ Conflicting ideas about how to allocate limited resources - Politics is how people attempt to manage such conflict.
To reduce the complexity require effective political institutions and rules and procedures for
○ These are often found in the form of by-laws, a charter, or the constitution.
- Constitutions organize nations, but there are still conflicts.
More people involved = more complex issues = more difficulty monitoring and enforcing agreements
A government consists of those institutions and the legally prescribed process for making and
enforcing collective agreements. They come in various forms:
We also discuss several other topics like Will a nation tend to export or import goods for which it has a comparative advantage?
○ Representative Democracy
- Power = actual influence, not just right to make certain decisions.
Nations, and democratic nations specifically, which are generally large and complex, every
instance of collective action presents participants with distinct challenges. For example: ○ Comparing preferences
○ Agreeing on a course of action that is preferable to doing nothing
○ Implementing and enforcing the collective choice
Two classes of challenges to efforts of a group to reach and implement agreements are important
○ We also discuss several other topics like What is the most popular philosophy?
Coordination - Members of the group must decide individually what they want, what they are prepared to contribute to the collective enterprise, and how to coordinate their efforts with those of others. How to combine their efforts -- how to work together to get to the place they are going. Like a tandem bike.
▪ Coordination problems increase with the size of the group.
□ Balanced and effective interaction of movement, actions, etc.
□ Working together as a unit.
The Prisoner's Dilemma - Arises whenever individuals decide that even though they support some collective undertaking, they are personally better off pursuing an activity that rewards them individually while undermining the collective effort. If you want to learn more check out What does presidential reconstruction mean?
▪ All about trust.
▪ Every successful political exchange must tacitly solve the Prisoner's Dilemma. □ Each side, to get something, usually must give up something of value in return. □ Exchanges occur because each side recognizes that it will be made better off.
Chater 1 Pae 1
□ Exchanges occur because each side recognizes that it will be made better off.
But each side also worries that its partner could renege on the agreement once the partner has gotten what it wants.
Unless each side can trust the other to abide by its commitments, they will not
achieve a mutually profitable exchange.
□ How do you solve this?
By making reneging and defection very expensive.
For example, breaking a contract negotiated by labor and We also discuss several other topics like What will happen to quantity equilibrium if the sales increase in supply?
◊ Don't forget about the age old question of Who is the godfather of entrepreneurship?
management usually has legal outcomes that are harmful to the party breaking the agreement.
By creating institutions that guarantee agreements are honored.
◊ Emphasis on repeated play; honor; censure.
One of the reasons we have governments of any kind is due to the fact that people have a hard
time working together. This is because:
○ Resources are limited.
○ Not everyone can get what they want.
○ People's ideas of what is a good society differ.
- Free riding = to benefit from a public good without contributing. ○ Public goods
▪ = non-excludable (can't keep you from accessing it)
▪ = non-rivalry (your use of it doesn't take away from others) - Example of Privatization = toll road rather than free highway - Example of Incentives = purposive, solidary, material
- Example of Selective Incentives = NPR donors get special and exclusive perks - Example of Disincentives = fines We also discuss several other topics like Is a monomer a single molecule?
- Why does so much free riding go on?
Because generally, everyone is gaining (non-rivalry) and it is difficult to force people to pay for an unsolicited public good.
- The Tragedy of the Commons ○ Usually involves a public resource.
Individuals acting based on short-term gain & convenience without thinking of long-term create disaster for all.
○ Classic example is the common pasture with sheep.
▪ Sheep eat grass all the way to the dirt so it won't grow back everywhere. ○ Modern example is found in the fishing industry: cod, blue-fin. ▪ Overfishing and little oversight.
○ How do you solve it?
Privatization of the land -- individual owners or fee for grazing, with fines for over
Or, as Elinor Ostrom concluded: rules and institutions to manage the commons and
involve the users of the resources. Self-determination, self-monitoring, and rules enforced by community if someone cheats.
Chater 1 Pae 2