Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The State: friend or foe

For this entry I present you two talks about the incentives that exist within the force-based organization called the state. Many people believe that the state represents the good and when rulers act badly, it's just a bad apple in an inherently moral organization. The rulers themselves certainly claim that their acts represent the good.
But the reality is very different. And the patterns are very clear looking through the incentive-lens at todays society and at historical examples.

Russ Roberts talks with Hoover Institution and NYU political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita about his theory of political power--how dictators and democratically elected leaders respond to the political forces that keep them in office. This lengthy and intense conversation covers a wide range of topics including the evil political genius of Lenin, the dark side of US foreign aid, the sinister machinations of King Leopold of Belgium, the natural resource curse, the British monarchy in the 11th century, term limits and the inevitable failure of the standard methods of fighting world poverty.   (Aug 14, 2006)

Rozeff is a Rochester-trained financial economist (currently Louis M. Jacobs Chair of Financial Planning and Control at the University at Buffalo) and not surprisingly, his analysis is an agency-theoretic one.

By looking at the state as an organization, it becomes easier to raise pertinent questions that shed light on how a state works. Who are its members? What are its goals? How does it accomplish its goals? How does it attain power? How does it keep power? Why does it choose particular goals and not others? [..] What I provide is a framework for productive thought with enough applications to show that it is a useful and coherent framework that helps us gain insight into the somewhat mysterious entity – organization – that we call the state.   (Mar 27, 2006)



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