Why is there political stability? Because most voters don’t think like Paul Krugman



Have you ever wondered why our system of government is as stable as it is? Stable democracies are not normal. In fact, outside of North America and Northern Europe and in the absence of a ruthless dictatorship, stable governments of any form are not so normal:

  • Over the past 200 years, Haiti has experienced 33 coups.
  • Since the early 1960s, when most African countries began to gain independence, more than fifty coups d’état have taken place on the continent.
  • Italy has had nearly sixty governments since the country formed a democratic republic in 1946.
  • The Dominican Republic has had 32 constitutions since its independence in 1844; Venezuela has 26, Haiti 24 and Ecuador 20.
  • 11 countries are on the verge of bankruptcy: they span the globe, from Greece and Ukraine in Europe to Pakistan in Asia, passing through Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela and Belize in the Americas.

What is the reason for this instability? Either way, the answer is the same: they compete for resources. Why? Because they rejected the Jeffersonian / Lockean principle that property rights are human rights and that people have a right to what they produce.

Looting states are always potentially unstable states.

To understand why, consider the table below, showing how two candidates propose to split $ 100 among three voters. Candidate A starts from an equal position: equal parts for all three. Then, candidate B wins by promising each of the two voters $ 50 and nothing for the third. If voters vote in their own best interests, candidate B should win two to one. However, Candidate A responds by promising Voter B $ 40 was willing to pay one of the other two $ 60 – and now A has the two-to-one advantage.

Readers should have no difficulty convincing themselves that there is no distro that cannot be defeated by another distro. In fact, defeating an opponent in this game is easy, until the opponent moves again.

Now think of the table as describing not the programs of the candidates, but the actual policies of the government. The ruling party must do something. And once it has decided on a split, a ruling party is free to come up with a different split – the one that wins the next election. Same problem on a larger scale.

Now think of the painting not as describing democracies at all, but as describing a dictatorship that can only survive by gaining the support of various factions. It obtains this support by redistributing the income. But a rival for power can approach these same factions and come up with a different distribution. The same problem again – this time solved by a coup.

When you stop and think, it’s amazing that we have as much stability in the world as we seem to have.

There are two conditions of instability:

  1. A government with the power to arbitrarily redistribute income.
  2. A public that has no moral qualms about using the power of government to take what is not theirs.

In the United States, we certainly have the first condition. There are virtually no constitutional restrictions on the federal government’s ability to redistribute revenues. Fortunately, we don’t have the second – at least not completely. In 1972, presidential candidate George McGovern proposed to give every American citizen a gift of $ 1,000 from the government. Although the vast majority of families came out on top, the public reaction was so negative that McGovern dropped the idea before voters finally went to the polls. So far at least, Americans don’t believe in arbitrarily taking Peter and giving Paul, even if he happens to be Paul.

Yet since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, income redistribution has been the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, with Republicans too often complicit. Roosevelt’s policies have done very little for the poor. They were almost entirely focused on redistribution within the middle class. People were defined by what they did for a living. The government has stepped in to help farmers (no matter how rich or poor) at the expense of the food-consuming public. And then he moved on to other sectors.

If it had not been stopped by the Supreme Court, Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act (modeled on Italian fascism) would have allowed every industry and every trade to fix wages and prices, to control production. and act as a monopoly – at the expense of consumers around the world. Think about all the reasons why businesses and trade associations pay lobbyists to roam the halls of Congress. Under NIRA, such lobbying would no longer be necessary. Roosevelt would have given them the power to do for themselves whatever they expect from politicians.

Of course, Roosevelt’s program was also robbing Peter to pay Paul. But if you don’t understand economics, it’s not that easy.

One person who understands economics and who writes frequently endorsing Roosevelt’s approach to politics is Paul Krugman. In The New York Times Last Friday he said this:

“… The political right has always been uncomfortable with democracy. No matter how successful the Conservatives are in elections, no matter how much free market ideology dominates discourse, there is always an undercurrent of fear that the unwashed greats will vote for people on the left who tax the rich, distribute largesse to the poor, and destroy the economy.

Close. Take out the word ‘poor’ and insert ‘any special interest groups that can help in the next election’ and take out ‘tax the rich’ and insert ‘tax everyone and their uncle’ and I think he’s right . [Sometimes you wonder if Krugman is living on another planet. Does he really not know what happens when Democrats rule without constraints? Ever hear of Detroit?] Here’s another gem from Krugman the political scientist:

“… if you’re worried that low-income voters will run wild, greedily grab everything and forget about the job creators, history says you are wrong.” All advanced nations have had substantial welfare states since the 1940s – welfare states that inevitably enjoy greater support among their poorer citizens. But you don’t, in fact, see countries descending into death spirals of taxes and spending. “

True. But the reason “advanced” countries are “advanced” is because they have managed to resist what “non-developed” countries have not: the natural tendency of democracy to sink into a sea of ​​gluttony. special interests, like sharks in a frenzy – feeding on a dead whale.

And they managed to resist such temptations by resisting the way of thinking that permeates so many Paul Krugman chronicles.

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