The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics
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After all, even if politics is nothing more than a game that leaders play, if only we learn the rules, it becomes a game we can win.
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ideology, nationality, and culture don’t matter all that much.
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Politics, like all of life, is about individuals,
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interest, what did President Obama fret about in formulating his Afghan policy? If he did not announce a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan he would lose support from his Democratic—not his national, but his Democratic—electoral base.
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Why do leaders do what they do? To come to power, to stay in power and, to the extent that they can, to keep control over money.
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our view of politics requires us to step outside of well-entrenched habits of mind, out of conventional labels and vague generalities, and into a more precise world of self-interested thinking.
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By elevating so many newcomers, Louis had created a new class of people who were beholden to him.
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All that varies is how many backs have to be scratched and how big the supply of backs available for scratching.
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Fundamentally, the nominal selectorate is the pool of potential support for a leader; the real selectorate includes those whose support is truly influential; and the winning coalition extends only to those essential supporters without whom the leader would be finished. A simple way to think of these groups is: interchangeables, influentials, and essentials.
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Leaders make rules to give all citizens the vote—creating lots of new interchangeables—but then impose electoral boundaries, stacking the deck of essential voters to ensure that their preferred candidates win.
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We must remember that labels like democracy or dictatorship are a convenience—but only a convenience.
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there need be nothing special about her or about the gunmen beyond the fact that they grabbed the guns first.
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Democrats, because they rely on a large coalition, cannot lavish great wealth on their supporters personally. They simply do not have enough money to go around.
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Competition in democracies is cerebral, not physical.
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Nearly three times as many autocrats manage to accomplish this feat, 11 percent.
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The resolution on their graph is not very good. This pattern could be coincidental. It also fails to account for the particular circumstances of each democrat/autocrat.
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financially irresponsible.
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Borrowing is not necessarily financially irresponsible. It may enlarge the pie in the future and increase tax revenues, if spent wisely to expand the economy
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It is supply, not demand, that has shrunk.
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Therefore, we advocate a conservative approach of little or no debt relief as a way to improve the quality of governance and the quality of life of people
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The most reliable means to a good life for ordinary people remains the presence of institutional incentives in the form of dependence on a big coalition that compels power-seeking politicians to govern for the people.
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aligns incentives such that politicians can best serve their own self-interest, especially their interest in staying in office, by promoting the welfare of a large proportion of the people.
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democracies are prosperous, stable, and secure...
This highlight has been truncated due to consecutive passage length restrictions.
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And many modern democracies were already rich and prosperous before becoming democratic--those that weren't have had a tough time
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demand improved governance before any bailout money is offered up to rescue a troubled autocratic economy.
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In the meantime, millions suffer. Could there be a compromise? Provide initial aid but require them to maintain some minimum indicators to keep the cash flowing, and incentivize reaching key milestones. Of course, eventually stop the aid to make sure they're not reliant on it, and have a hard foot on the breaks if they violate the terms.
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administrators university presidents like to hire compared to faculty.
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Well, also it's much easier to find an administrator than someone with specialized skills who's qualified to teach and willing to forego the usually higher ranching outside of academia.
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time inexorably diminishes the quality of life for ordinary people in most petty dictatorships.
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Sure enough, drinking water is cleaner and more widely available in democratic countries
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Democracies also have children and old people though. And they're not any more powerful or more likely to be a part of the workforce whatever the size of the coalition
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The availability and technology of clean water doesn’t favor democratic societies; democratic regimes favor ensuring that drinking water is clean.
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It is incredible to see how easily leaders can take people’s property in the People’s Republic of China and how hard it is to do the same in Hong Kong.
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For this reason, not all corporate phones connect to everywhere.
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This is taking the conclusion a bit too far. Although this level of hostility towards employees does happen (take Away as an example), there are usually less politically motivated reasons for this, such as security.
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(Singapore)
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So often the exception.
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hugely valuable public good called freedom.
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And yet we can argue that these freedoms existed long before many of those countries achieved democracy. Initially held by a ruling aristocracy, economic expansion meant that a lot more people had incentives to want freedom. The transition to democracy was much more gradual than you seem to describe, and many democratic countries could be considered prosperous long before they became truly democratic. The poeple sought to secure and protect such freedoms, not acquire them.
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leaders must reward their coalition of essential backers before they reward the people in general and even before they reward themselves.
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But it is much tougher to get people to engage in truly nasty behavior in a large-coalition environment than it is in a small one even if the totals spent on private gains are equal.
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awful lot of middle class voters and they can be tipped either way.
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What then are the impacts of a shrinking middle class to politics?
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The very poor are not likely to vote
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So these policies are payments for political support, no more and no less so than any other private reward.
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Because of how polarized the 2 dominant parties are, and the lack of other viable political parties, then the rewards to each party's supporters can be kept at a minimum, since most people will have no alternatives. This becomes more & more the case as the middle class (those who might share the concerns of both sides) shrinks.
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In fact, because an extra dollar is worth more to a poor country than to a rich one, needier countries are likely to get less aid, not more
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while aid affords the resources to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth, it creates the political incentives to do just the opposite.
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scant evidence suggests that the world is closer to achieving those goals than it was in the 1950s or 1960s.
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This might be based on outdated stats, or simply a cynical interpretation of them.
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they repeat the same errors of the past. He argues the bureaucracy involved in giving aid ensures funds are given in ways that impede rather than promote economic activity.
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recipients are very skilled at converting aid into the kinds of rewards they want rather than the kind of rewards donors want them to provide.
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The trick then is getting aid to the right recipient, that is the actual individuals in need of aid, instead of to a corruptible middle man.
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Often when NGOs provide aid, the amount of assistance is substantially less than the numbers reflect.
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rural areas are disproportionately represented in some countries
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Allowing farmers from developing nations to compete on the basis of comparative advantage would go much further toward promoting economic growth than providing poorly targeted and highly bureaucratized aid.
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escrow money, paying it out only when objectives are achieved.
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people do what is best for them.
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Assuming of course that people are knowledgeable or prescient enough to know what is good for them.
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The UN could prescribe a process for transition from dictatorship to democracy. At the same time it could stipulate that any dictator facing the pressure to grant freedom to the people would have a brief, fixed period of time, say a week, to leave the country in exchange for a blanket perpetual grant of amnesty against prosecution anywhere
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granted the right to retain some significant amount of ill-gotten gains, and safe havens for exile where the soon-to-be ex-leadership and their families can live out their lives in peace.
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Would this provide a further incentive to future would-be autocrats, giving them a free pass to commit crimes up to a certain threshold, at which point they can take this free pass and then they're home free?
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Once essential supporters believe their leader might take such a deal, they themselves start looking for his replacement,
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The transition to being fabulously wealthy figureheads of constitutional monarchies is an option the Saudi Arabian royal family, the Jordanian royal family, and the royal families of the Emirates might well contemplate
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fake elections empower the ruler by increasing the ranks of the interchangeables without adding in any meaningful way to the size of the influential and essential groups.
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