April 14, 2014
hISTORY eNDED EVERYWHERE:
Why Are Rich Countries Democratic? (Ricardo Hausman, 3/26/14, Project Syndicate)
[S]uccessful political systems have had to create an alternative invisible hand - a system that decentralizes the power to identify problems, propose solutions, and monitor performance, such that decisions are made with much more information.To take just one example, the United States' federal government accounts for just 537 of the country's roughly 500,000 elected positions. Clearly, there is much more going on elsewhere.The US Congress has 100 senators with 40 aides each, and 435 representatives with 25 aides each. They are organized into 42 committees and 182 subcommittees, meaning that there are 224 parallel conversations going on. And this group of more than 15,000 people is not alone. Facing them are some 22,000 registered lobbyists, whose mission is (among other goals) to sit down with legislators and draft legislation.This, together with a free press, is part of the structure that reads the millions of pages of legislation and monitors what government agencies do and do not do. It generates the information and the incentives to respond to it. It affects the allocation of budgetary resources. It is an open system in which anybody can create news or find a lobbyist to make his case, whether it is to save the whales or to eat them.Without such a mechanism, the political system cannot provide the kind of environment that modern economies need. That is why all rich countries are democracies, and it is why some countries, like my own (Venezuela), are becoming poorer.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2014 5:51 AM
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