Friday, December 1, 2017

Branko Milanovic — Adam Smith: is democracy always better for the poor?

Interesting article and a relatively short read. Here is the conclusion.
Smith’s lesson here has broader applicability. An oligarchic democracy may be worse for the poor than an arbitrary government. A state, relatively autonomous from the elite, may care more about the “general interest” than an ostensibly democratic government that is in reality the government of the rich. Smith highlights, I think, in both his discussion of social cleavage in interests when it comes to colonies and in his discussion of slavery, the ambivalence of the connection between the state and class. In more democratic (but exclusivist) settings the state may be less autonomous and more directly “hitched” to the interests of the ruling class. In an autocracy, the state may be less subject to the power of moneyed interests, and more concerned with the position of the poor. Our facile and somewhat lazy approach that more democracy implies a greater concern or improvement for the poor is shown here, by the founder of political economy, to be possibly—at times—wrong.
Global Inequality
Adam Smith: is democracy always better for the poor?Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


lastgreek said...

Tom, is there a Flynn thread coming down the pipeline any time soon?

So, it was Israel and not Russia. Who could have ever guessed ;)

Tom Hickey said...

Still unfolding.

The issue is the same as Nixon and Clinton. The coverup rather than the crime.

Flynn is charged with lying to the FBI.

Here is a post from the astute Peter Dorman about what we know so far implies politically, which is, after all, what everyone is interested in.

Flynn Bails, but Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

Tom Hickey said...

And, of course, because Israel is deeply involved, apparently Bibi himself, it's going to be interesting to see how the political and chattering classes line up on this.

Pass the popcorn.