and Ginsburg Chapter 1
Government is composed of institutions and processes that rulers establish to strengthen and perpetuate their power of control over a territory and its inhabitants
Four facts about the US federal government
- it plays a large part in our lives
- Americans rely on the federal government to solve their problems
- Perfection in government cannot be achieved
Conflicting interests are always battling over its makeup, organization and policies
- The government and its policies are complicated
- to maintain order
- to protect property
- to provide public goods (to avoid the free rider)
What do all governments needs?
- means of coercion
- means of extraction
- autocracy: single individual
- oligarchy: small group
- democracy: people have influence over decision making
- Constitutional: gov limited in what it can control
(substantive) how it goes about things (procedural)
- authoritarian: law imposes few limits but there are limits
that exist (church, riots, tradition)
- totalitarian: gov attempts to dominate/control every aspect
Politics: struggles over the leadership, structure, and policies of government
governments do what they do?
(Why for instance does the FDA regulate cheese pizza, while the USDA regulates pepperoni pizza? To maintain a self food supply there are twelve different agencies and yet no real attempt to do anything crazy, like, put them together.)
Principle 1: All political behavior has a purpose.
Governmental actions have a purpose to them even if they seem irrational on their face.
Principle 2: All politics is collective action involving the building, combining, mixing, and amalgamating of individual goals. People join together to reach these goals but their actions are not always well coordinated
-Informal bargaining can lead to patterns of reciprocal behaviour
-Formal Bargaining (more likely to take place within official institutions)
-Collective Action (usually requires decision-making procedures, coordinating activities and dealing with free riders)
Principle 3: Institutions matter (when confronted with recurring problems often routines and standard responses are developed)
-Responses to regularly recurring problems are institutionalized.
-Jurisdiction (who has the authority over this problem)
-Decisiveness (how and when are decisions to be made)
-Agenda Power and veto power (what issues will be discussed and what will not)
-Delegation and transaction costs (Problems can be delegated to political leaders and other specialists – but the downside is that those empowered may exceed their authority requiring effort to police their actions)
Principle 4: Political outcomes are the products of individual preferences and institutional procedures.
These preferences may have little relation to the obvious impact of the outcome and may instead be motivated by a more subtle motivation (pressure from campaign donors, family members, potential new constituents, and of course the need for a new wad of pork.)
Principle 5: History matters. ( it helps determine causation, the relationship between actors, an interpretive framework and context to update beliefs when things change, and a means of measuring change)
The Paradoxes Of American Democracy
-Delegating Authority in a Representative Democracy (why do people who have sovereignty not always get what they want – reason: because people often chose to not use their authority as a citizen)
-The Tradeoff between freedom and order (we want safety that doesn’t limit our ability to do whatever we want)
-The Instability of Majority Rule (the disproportionate impact of some in the political system create outcomes that are not always fair)