Chapter 1 Notes
Chapter 1 Notes POLS 1101
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This 11 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kyla Brinkley on Monday September 7, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 1101 at University of Georgia taught by Ryan Bakker in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 375 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 09/07/15
Kyla Brinkley POLS 1101 Notes Fall 2015 Bakker Chapter 1 The Logic of American Politics a Politics the process through which individuals and groups reach agreement on a course of common or collective action even as they disagree on the intended goals of that ac on i Solution requires parties to cooperate Bargaining used when issues are simple and participants knowtrust each other i Usually ends in compromise a settlement in which each side concedes some preferences to secure others Preferences givens that must be reconciled if they are to agree to some common course of action i May reflect economic situation religious values ethnic identity etc ii Reflect valued interest not just self interest don t always expect to directly benefit The Importance of Institutional Design i More complex issues can t be resolved by unstructured nego a on ii When sides conclude that politics won t work turn to war iii You can count on political institutions to manage potential conflicts Constitutions and Governments i Rules amp procedures go by different names but purpose is the same to guide an organization s members in making essentially political decisions 1 decisions in which participants initially disagree about what they want the organization to do ii constitution of a nation establishes its governing institutions and the set of rules and procedures these institutions must amp must not follow to reach and enforce collective agreements 1 Can be a highly formal written doc or an informal unwritten understanding iii Government consists of these institutions and the legally prescribed process for making and enforcing collective agreements 1 Monarchy 2 Representative democracy 3 Theocracy 4 Dictatorship iv Authority vs Power 1 Gov institutions consist of offices that confer on their occupants specific authority and responsibilities 2 Authority the acknowledged right to make a particular decision 3 Power refers to an officeholder s actual influence with other officeholders and as a consequence over the government s actions v Institutional durability 1 Institutions tend to be stable and resist change 2 Authority assigned to the office not person holding the office a So institution persists even when the people in it are replaced 3 People who are affected by them make plants expecting that current arrangements will remain 4 Even those who seek change find it hard to agree on a proposed alternative 5 Sometimes institutions reform to perform more efficiently 6 Other times reforms enable institutions to accomplish new collective goals vi The Political System s Logic 1 Quality of democracy in American reflects quality of governing institutions 2 Fundamental belief that government must protect certain individual liberties even when a majority of the public insists otherwise f Collective Action Problems i Collective action the efforts of a group to reach amp implement agreements 1 Challenges participants to figure out what to dohow to do it ii Barriers to collective action 1 Coordination problems members of the group must decide individually what they want what they are prepared to contribute amp how to coordinate their efforts with others a b C increase with the size of a group when number of participants is really big coordination generally impossible society delegates rule to small group of politicians focal point some prominent cue that helps individuals recognize the preferences of others with whom they want to cooperate i social networks offer levels of focal point coordination coordination problems essentially arise from uncertainty and insufficient information and may prevent collective undertakings even when a great majority agrees on a course of ac on 2 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 even if it hurts the collective effort a Only when each party is confident that the other will live up to an agreement can they successfully break out of the dilemma and work to their mutual advantage Every successful political exchange must solve the prisoner s dilemma Unless participants in a collective decision can trust each other to abide by their commitments they will not achieve a mutually profitable exchange To make both cooperate make reneging and defection expensive i Or create institutions that help parties discover opportunities to profit through cooperation and guarantee that commitments are honored Without confidence that agreements will be enforced the political process quickly unravels Hobbes 1651 Leviathan examined straits to which society is reduced when gov is unable to enforce collective obligations amp agreements In American politics constituencies and their representatives cooperate to achieve their separate goals i Because institutions have developed to help diverse constituencies discover opportunities for mutual gain through cooperation and deter them from backing out on their agreements Some issues don t offer mutual gains though i One party s gain other party s loss ii Politics can break down and give way to force war iii Ex abortion policy slavery extension into territories civil war Freerider problem form of prisoner s dilemma that afflicts large groups i Each person s contribution is small so they are tempted to defect from the agreement by withholding a contribution to the group s undertaking while enjoying the benefits of the collective e on ii Ex slacking in group projects iii Arises whenever citizens recognize that their small contribution to the collective enterprise won t affect its success or failure iv If to many people do this some will fail 1 Ex if nobody does group project you all fail v Governments solve these issues with sanctions and sometimes force 1 Ex we pay taxes because of IRS j The tragedy of the commons concentrates on individuals costless consumption of a public good the commons that results in its destruction i A large of participants encourages each to renege on contributions to the public good ii The good already exists and will be destroyed if its exploitation is not controlled iii Ex pollutionclean air if almost everyone buys an electric car it reduces pollution but if one person doesn t he still gets to enjoy the clean air BUT if nobody buys an electric car we all suffer from pollution iv To avoid tragedy of commons proper institutional design 1 Decision to squander or conserve resources must be made to affect each participant s personal welfare v Regulation limiting access to the common resource amp monitoringpenalizing those who violate vi Privatizing conserve the commons by converting it from a collective good to a private good g The Costs of Collective Action Collective action offers a group benefits its members can t achieve on their own Key to successful collective action lies in designing a system that achieves the benefits of a collective effort while minimizing costs Overhead costs cost of enforcing agreements government s effort to combat free riding Transaction costs the time effort and resources required to make collective decisions L Can be barrier to political agreements Increase with of participants a All want something different With well designed institutions agreements easier to make a Ex electing a committee streamlining rules amp procedures Sometimes high transaction costs are intentionally put in place to make some collective activities more difficult a Ex high transaction costs to change the Constitution 23 vote Congress and 3A1 of states v Conformity costs to the extent collective decisions obligate participants to do something they prefer not to 1 pop collective decisions you agree to but don t want a ex have to pay taxes on some gov programs we oppose people prefer minimum conformity costs institutions that minimize transaction costs may impose high conformity costs a ex dictator who decides national policy himself minimal transaction costs but makes everyone do what he wants high conformity costs b opposite a gov that does everything by consensus won t do everything unless everyone agrees gov reform occurs within a narrow range of trade offs between transaction amp conformity costs a gov more efficient and decisive when transaction costs reduced b tradeoff used in dividing branches of US gov h Designing Institutions for Collective Action The Framers Tool Kit lf citizens fear that gov might intrude too much in their private lives might want to add high transaction costs and require consensus to make collective decisions ii Command the authority of one actor to dictate the actions of another 1 Authority to impose a solution regardless of the 2 3 iii Veto preferences of others Reduces transaction costs Increases conformity costs the right of an official or institution to say no to a proposal from another official or institution 1 2 3 4 5 iv Agen lmposes view regardless of preference of others Less effective negative action that preserves the status quo Congress can enact a vetoed bill without pres Endorsement with 23 vote in each chamber Supreme court judicial review overturn public laws it sees as unconstitutional Greater of veto holders higher transaction costs da control gain both positive and negative influence over collective decisions the right of an actor to set choices for others 1 2 3 4 5 Legislation Proposed regulations etc positive can introduce a choice to the collectivity who decides to accept or reject it limits choices available to the collective House members accept high conformity costs because in the absence of agenda control the transaction costs would be too much v Voting Rules 1 Majority rule embodies democratic principle of political equality Equality requires that each citizen s vote carries the same weight and offers all citizens the same opportunity a Simple majority 12 plus 1 b Governments controlled by popular majorities are less likely to engage in tyranny impose very high conformity costs than dictatorships Checks and balancesseparation of power term lengths A majority of the Electoral College is required to elect pres but winner doesn t have to have majority of popular vote 2 3 Plurality rule the candidate receiving the most votes regardless of whether the plurality reaches a majority decides winners a Preferred by states Supermajority a majority larger than a simple 51 majority which is required for extraordinary legislative actions like amending the Constitution a Ex in the senate 60 votes are needed to stop a filibuster vi Delegation when individuals or groups authorize someone to make amp implement decisions for them 1 When we vote we are delegating decision making to the presidential candidate 2 The House delegates legislation to committees 3 Principals those who possess decisionmaking authority many delegate their authority to agents who exercise it on behalf of the principals a Ex president hiring staff to do what he needs Delegation is so pervasive because it addresses common collective action problems Majorities may sometimes find it desirable politically to delegate decisions Almost all enforcement authority the key to solving prisoner s dilemmas involves delegation to a policing agent a Ex IRS Delegations solves some problems but causes others a Agency loss discrepancy between what a principal would ideally like its agents to do and what they actually do i Different goals ii Principal wants agents to be diligentask for little iii Agents want to be generously compensated for little effort iv Some agents even exploit their advantage Representative Government i Modern democracies blend delegation with majority rule to form representative government ii Direct democracy citizens participate directly in collective decision making 1 Small communitiesorgs iii Majority rule vs the Republic 1 Republic designed to allow some degree of popular control and also avoid tyranny a Voters elect their representatives but these representatives are constrained in following the majority s dictates 2 Parliamentary government lodges decisive authority in a popularly elected legislature whose actions aren t subject to the same severe checks by executive and judicial vetoes a Legislature elects a team of executives cabinet one of whose members serves as the premier or prime minister b Promotes majority rule because the political party that controls the legislature controls the execu ve c Able to forgo higher transaction costs embedded in US constitution s separation of powers iv Politicians specialize in discovering collective enterprises that unite citizens with different values amp interests 1 Assemble coalitions combinations of unlike minded interests who nonetheless agree for their own distinct reasons to a common course of action public servants Every time a politician compromises defers to a colleague or decides not to resist certain defeat on an issue she knowingly or unknowingly is behaving strategically 4 The American political system demands strategic behavior because of distribution of authority 9 The Work of Government i Private goods things pe0ple buy and consume themselves in a marketplace that supplies these goods according to the demand for them 1 Ex house car clothes food ii Public goods everyone participates in supplying ex through tax dollars and everyone can freely consume 1 Ex freeways 2 Citizens look to government to provide positive public goods a Ex national defense legal system public parks b Prevent or correct negative public goods i Ex pollution laws protecting endangered species c Advantages of gov i Has sufficient resources to do expensive projects ie tax dollars ii Has coercive authority to prevent free riding 1 Ex tax deductions for charity to promote collective goods iii Collective goods mixed goods collectively produced amp freely available for anyone s consumption k Mitigating Popular Passions i Framers had to solve early US collective action problems 1 People were free riding politicians didn t honor commitments 2 Designed new government to minimize conformity costs and increasing transaction costs Separation of powers Staggered legislative terms Unelected judiciary Limited national authority 9301 FOR REVIEW The Framers Tool Kit Desin Princile Definin Feature Command Authority to dictate others actions Authority to block a proposal or stop an action Authority to place proposals before others for their decision Agenda Control Preventing proposals from being considered Rules prescribing who votes and min of votes required to accept a proposal or elect candidate Delegation Authority to assign an agent responsibility to act on your behaH Voting Rules of the US Senate Voting Rules Motion Exam le President s authority President s veto Senate confirmation of presidential appointments Judicial review Congress presenting enrolled bill to president Congressional committees recommendations to full chamber Supreme court decisions Electoral college Selection of speaker of House Representation bureaucracy Voting Rule
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