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The Logic of American Politics. Chapter One. The Logic of American Politics. Choices breed conflict. Conflicting interests. Conflicting values. Conflicting ideas about how to allocate limited resources. The Logic of American Politics.

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The Logic of American Politics


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    Presentation Transcript
    1. The Logic of American Politics Chapter One

    2. The Logic of American Politics • Choices breed conflict. • Conflicting interests. • Conflicting values. • Conflicting ideas about how to allocate limited resources.

    3. The Logic of American Politics • Politics is how people attempt to manage conflict. • What happens when politics fails? • Anarchy. • Civil war. • Successful politics almost always requires bargaining and compromise. • Bargaining: the give and take between two parties when coming to an agreement. • Compromise: agreement on a decision that two parties accept. • Preferences = “givens.”

    4. The Logic of American Politics • Effective political institutions. • Set of rules and procedures for negotiations. • Examples: • Impeachment trial in Senate. • Harrington Treatise. • The Constitution.

    5. Constitutions and Governments • Constitutions. • To guide an organization’s members in making essentially political decisions. • What are political decisions? • Why is it hard for nations to make them? • Larger number of participants. • Issues may be complex. • Monitoring and enforcing agreements made by participants may be difficult.

    6. Constitutions and Governments • Success in political decision making depends on: • Development of good constitutions. • Aconstitution of a nation establishes its governing institutions and the set of rules and procedures these institutions must (and must not) follow to reach and enforce collective agreements. • Range. • Highly formal, such as U.S. Constitution. • An informal “understanding” based on precedent and common law, Great Britain.

    7. Constitutions and Governments • Agovernment consists of those institutions and the legally prescribed process for making and enforcing collective agreements. • Monarchy. • Representative democracy. • Theocracy. • Dictatorship.

    8. Authority versus Power • Authority: The ability to make decisions-independent of the power to enforce them. • The acknowledged right of the office to make a particular decision for all participants (book). • Assigned to the office, not to the individual. • The organization of effective institutions prevents an individual from usurping power from it. • Authority is distinguished from power. • Power: The exercise of influence or authority. • refers to actual influence. • Ability to exercise one’s will onto others.

    9. Authority v. Power • Examples of Authority: • Congress has the authority to pass laws. • Lay & collect taxes (16th amendment) • Mayor/Council has authority to make ordinances. • Examples of Power: • Executive Departments have the power to enforce laws. • IRS makes sure that you pay your taxes. • Police has power to enforce laws.

    10. Authority v. Power • A person who has the power to enforce, also has the authority to make decisions. • A police officer has the power to enforce the law by pulling you over, he also has the authority to only give you a warning. • Other examples????

    11. Institutional Durability • Institutions tend to be stable and resist change. • Reasons: • Institutions persist beyond the tenure of officeholders who occupy them. • Content with the status quo. • Discontented cannot agree on alternatives.

    12. The Political System’s Logic • Core values embedded in our institutions. • Elections as a means of popular rule. • Equally fundamental notion of protection of individual liberties. • Logic based on principles about how members of a community should engage one another politically in order to identify and pursue their common goals.

    13. Collective Action Problems • What is it? • “The efforts of a group to reach and implement agreements.” (page 10) • May involve: • Comparing preferences (coming to compromise). • Agreeing on a course of action that is preferable to doing nothing (is there a need for action?). • Implementing and enforcing the collective choice (how do we do this?).

    14. Collective Action Problems • Two classes of challenges to efforts of a group to reach and implement agreements: • Coordination. • Problem increases with size of group. • ie: US Senate v. US House • Solutions. • Delegation, self-enforcing rules, focal point. • Prisoner’s dilemma. • Free riding: • Tragedy of the commons: • Solutions. • Make reneging and defection very expensive or participating rewarding. • Create institutions that guarantee that agreements are honored.

    15. The Costs of Collective Action • Collective action offers participants benefits they cannot achieve on their own. • But participation may require some cost. • The key: to minimize costs. • Costs may be material. • Other costs: transaction and conformity costs.

    16. Transaction and Conformity Costs • Transaction costs. • The time, effort, and resources required to compare preferences and make collective decisions. • Increase when the number of participants rise. • Conformity costs. • The difference between what any one party prefers and what the collective body requires. • Paying one’s taxes. • Serving in Iraq. • Transaction and conformity costs tend to be inversely related. • Can be manipulated. • HOW????

    17. Discussion • In small groups, think about and discuss the statement below: “Explain the concept of the prisoner’s dilemma using the politics around President Bush’s plan for privatizing parts of social security. Identify & discuss TWO distinct ways to avoid negative consequences of defection when faced with the prisoner’s dilemma.”

    18. Designing Institutions for Collective Action • Examples of attempts to manipulate transaction and conformity costs: • Majority rule. • Delegation. • When modified and combined they provided the Framers with many means to adjust the mix of transaction and conformity costs.

    19. Majority Rule • Majority rule normally refers to simple majorities or one-half plus one. • Political equality. • Each citizen’s vote carries the same weight. • Same opportunity to participate. • If disagreements arise, the more widely shared preference will prevail. • Explicitly required in limited number of instances in the Constitution.

    20. Delegation • Delegation is by far the favored solution to controlling transaction costs. • It assigns authority to make and implement decisions to some smaller number of persons who act on behalf of the larger group. • Principals. • Agents. • Agency loss.

    21. Representative Government • Modern democracies blend delegation with majority rule into what is known as representative government. • Direct democracy. • Citizens participate directly in collective decision making. • No agents. • Representative democracy. • Republics.

    22. Majority Rule versus Republics • A republic is a form of government designed to allow some degree of popular control and avoid tyranny. • Voters elect their representatives. • Representatives are constrained in following the majority’s dictates. • Constitutional guarantees for minorities. • Institutions and rules requiring exceptionally large majorities for some kinds of decisions.

    23. Majority Rule versus the Republic • Parliamentary government. • Fuses executive and legislature. • System promotes majority rule through parties that control the legislature and the executive. • Lessens transaction costs.

    24. Politicians • Professionals. • Public servants or entrepreneurs? • Specialize in pulling together coalitions. • Behave strategically. • What does it mean to behave strategically?

    25. The Work of Government • Private goods. • Market provides. • Toll road, cars, prom dresses, Ipods, cheeseburgers. • Individually purchased, individually consumed. • Public goods. • Government provides. • National safety, clean air and water. • Cost born collectively, everyone benefits. • Mixed goods/collective goods more accurate name. • Public “bads” or externalities.

    26. Mitigating Popular Passions • American government: a republic whose framework is defined by the Constitution. • Majority rule is visibly present, it is also constrained by some powerful rules. • Separation of powers. • Staggered legislative terms. • An unelected judiciary. • Limited national authority.

    27. Mitigating Popular Passions • Understanding the logic of such a complex set of institutions is important to understanding the nature of our own governance and the trade-offs that must occur in any process of collective decision making.