Saturday, June 07, 2014

Gaming Democracy

Gaming Democracy: Elite Dominance during Transition and the Prospects for Redistributionis summarized here by the authors. From the summary
 "Democracy can, under the right conditions, be the great equalizer. We find that democratization induces greater redistribution when transition occurs in the wake of revolution or, alternatively, when elites are unable to impose a constitution that persists after transition. In short, this occurs when elites are weak on the eve of democratization. "
Towards the end of the summary:
"These forms of elite influence can choke off egalitarian policies even in well-established democracies such as the United States and Great Britain that democratized gradually and were never quite able to tame the disproportionate power of elites. Recent work by Gilens and Page makes this point abundantly clear – even going so far as suggesting that the United States looks more like an oligarchy in democratic clothing."
This seems fine as far as it goes. But we have now news that inequality in Sweden is increasing. The problem seems to be in a globalized world, every country will be buffeted by the dominant global forces. Competition, global supply chains, dollar as reserve currency, economic sanctions etc force other nations to tow the line. But thanks to Piketty, the literature on inequality seems to be getting noticed. Hopefully, the fact that the American middle classes are not doing as well as before, the rapprochement of Russia and China may slowly lessen the US influence and the currently dominant ideas of growth and exports. It is possible that elites in some countries may try to milk both sides like before but that may be difficult since both sides seem somewhat broke now.

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