Since 1932, when Justice Louis Brandeis remarked that in a federal system states can serve as “laboratories” of democracy, political decentralization has been thought to stimulate policy experimentation. We reexamine the political economy behind this belief, using a simple model of voting in centralized and decentralized democracies. We find the electoral logic suggests the opposite … Continue reading “Political decentralization and policy experimentation”
My full review of Joel Mokyr’s A Culture of Growth is forthcoming in the Independent Review. Unfortunately, it won’t be out until the Winter 2017 issue is released so here is a preview. Specifically, I want to discuss one of the main themes of the book and my review: the role of political decentralization in … Continue reading Political Decentralization and Innovation in early modern Europe
Many 20th century theorists who advocated central planning and control (from Gaetano Mosca to Carl Landauer, and hearkening back to Plato’s Republic) drew a direct analogy between economic control and military command, envisioning a perfectly functioning state in which the citizens mimic the hard work and obedience of soldiers. This analogy did not remain theoretical: … Continue reading Auftragstaktik: Decentralization in military command
That’s the main question being asked by Federico Boffa, Amedeo Piolatto, and Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, all economists. I cruised through the whole paper (pdf) and have some superficial thoughts. One snippet: Western California is more liberal, even among Republican voters and politicians; Eastern California considerably more conservative […] At a first glance, such a political divide might suggest that a … Continue reading Is government decentralization the right answer to differences across regions?
There are widespread calls for an Islamic reformation such as Christianity experienced in the sixteenth century, but the Reformation cleaved Christianity into two major traditions and many splintered sects; each grew independently of the others, eroding any hope of a Christian center that could rein in extremes. After its early division into Sunni and Shi’a, … Continue reading From the Footnotes: Ignorance of Islam and of the Decentralization of Power
Awhile back Tyler Cowen linked to this paper (pdf) by Cihan Artunç on legal pluralism in the Ottoman Empire, and I found it to be really interesting. Here is the abstract, followed by some comments from yours truly: Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, non-Muslim Ottomans paid large sums to acquire access to European law. These protégés came … Continue reading Artunç paper on legal decentralization and the Ottoman Empire
I just came across a fascinating new article on decentralization by two political scientists. Here is the abstract: Numerous developing countries have substantially increased their number of sub-national administrative units in recent years. The literature on this phenomenon is, nonetheless, small and suffers from several theoretical and methodological shortcomings; in particular, a unit of analysis … Continue reading What’s up with decentralization (“Administrative Unit Proliferation”) in Uganda these days?
From the economist Camilla Toulmin: While land registration is often proposed as a means of resolving disputes, the introduction of central registration systems may actually exacerbate them. Elite groups may seek to assert claims over land which was not theirs under customary law, leaving local people to find that the land they thought was theirs has been registered to someone else. … Continue reading Property Rights in Africa: More Decentralization Please
Dr Ayittey has kindly responded to my rebuttal. You can’t mix secession with decentralization of power; oranges and apples. Your statements that “Smaller states would be much better for Africa than the large ones in place” and “The more “Little Djiboutis” there are, the better” are ridiculous. At a time when small countries are coming … Continue reading Secession, Small States, and Decentralization: A Rejoinder to Dr. Ayittey
Entrepreneurs usually make decisions with incomplete information, in disciplines where we lack expertise, and where time is vital. How, then, can we be expected to make decisions that lead to our success, and how can other people judge our startups on our potential value? And even if there are heuristics for startup value, how can … Continue reading The Blind Entrepreneur
It is widely accepted that good institutions caused the massive increase in living standards enjoyed by ordinary people over the past two hundred years. But what caused good institutions? Scholars once pointed to the polycentric governance structures of medieval Europe, but this explanation has been replaced by arguments favoring state capacity. Here we revitalize the … Continue reading “Polycentric Sovereignty: The Medieval Constitution, Governance Quality, and the Wealth of Nations”
Why are the police in charge of road safety? Alex Tabarrok, MR Is decentralization overrated? Jason Sorens, Pileus Can corruption be good for growth? Brank Milanovic, globalinequality What is the relationship between urban change and the ship of Theseus? Nick Nielsen, Grand Strategy Annex PS: I’m back from vacation. Hope y’all enjoyed yourselves while I … Continue reading Nightcap
Since first dipping my feet (brain?) into philosophical waters I’ve realized that the world has more dimensions than my mind. Many more. Which means insisting on a consistent philosophy is, in all likelihood, a recipe for disaster. This isn’t to say I’ve got an inconsistent philosophy, or that I’m ready to throw up my hands … Continue reading Against Ideology
I have recently given a 7-minute smart talk on “the Philosophy and Ethics behind Blockchain” at the Saxion Smart Solutions Festival. The talk is intended for laymen who are interested in the intersection of Philosophy and Blockchain. What follows is a video and transcript of the talk. Purpose of my Smart Talk The purpose of … Continue reading The Philosophy and Ethics behind Blockchain (smart talk)
How the Arabic language spread Barnaby Rogerson, History Today Post-Ottoman ethnic cleansing Christopher Kinley, Origins Legal decentralization and the Ottoman Empire NOL Fear of a gold planet Larry White, Alt-M