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Re: The Size and Composition of Government Spending in Multi-Party Systems

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  • freecali
    If there are studies that indicate the opposite, i.e., that PR countries favor LOWER government expenditures, I d love to see them. I forwarded the Scartascini
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 2, 2003
      If there are studies that indicate the opposite, i.e., that PR
      countries favor LOWER government expenditures, I'd love to see them.

      I forwarded the Scartascini and Crain study to two well-regarded
      libertarian economists in academia. One called the findings "robust"
      (which I believe is economese for "solid" ;-) and gave me a link to
      another study by the leading scholars in this literature, which comes
      to a similar conclusion, i.e., that PR countries favor higher
      government expenditures.

      See "Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes: What are the
      Stylized Facts?" by Persson and Tabellini at:

      I think that this is an important point.

      Consider a PR scenario where the Libertarians get 16% of the vote and
      therefore 16% of the seats in legislative bodies (see the September
      2000 Portrait of America poll), but the legislative majorities are

      Should a libertarian prefer "more liberty" or "more Libertarians in
      office"? Both are not necessarily intertwined.

      The other economist gave a different reply:

      "it seems plausible to me that the need to entice and keep coalitions
      together might result in more expenditures, because more groups would
      have to be enticed to join the coalition. On the other hand, if
      there are enough political parties they might compete with each other
      by agreeing to join coalitions that offer a lower price. My bias is
      that competition among smaller units is better than collusion among
      larger units. If this is not the case in a given real-world context,
      it is probably because there is a countervailing factor that is
      stronger. In the case of Europe, for instance, people still think of
      government as their ancestors did under the monarch: as a loving
      parent that takes care of his children. When I was teaching in
      Belgium I remarked to my colleagues that it was interesting to me
      that Europe, where citizens trust their governments, nurtured the
      likes of Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin where as the US, where citizens
      are less trusting, reared Washington, Jefferson, and Adams.
      Coincidence? I don't think so."

      So, the point by Gail and this economist about a polity's political
      culture is a good one -- PR may work better in America where there is
      a stronger libertarian tradition.

      Another argument in favor of PR is that more political bargaining
      units (read "more parties") lead to more optimal legislative
      decisionmaking (lower costs, lower error rate).

      See the related charts on pages 278 and 279 in the book "The
      Strategic Constitution," online in PDF at:


      But again, I think this is a question that libertarians advocating PR
      should keep asking: Does PR advance liberty?

      Rob L.

      --- In LibPR@yahoogroups.com, gkLtft@a... wrote:
      > I think you will find studies saying the opposite
      > if you research. There are lies, lies and damn lies
      > everywhere. Unless you look at the statistics it is
      > difficult to find the truth.
      > I suggest basing your support of a voting method
      > or the type of representation we have on its merits
      > In this case, seeing that all political viewpoints have
      > a voice within the legislature. Even then you may not see
      immediate change.
      > Just because we get some
      > legislators in office with a desire to make changes,
      > it does not mean we will get the changes right away.
      > For example: The new Republicans majority under
      > Clinton did little or nothing to reform Washington.
      > A shift in thinking from; "Let the government take
      > care of it." to "The private sector can and will take care
      > of it in time." is needed.
      > One way to bring that change is to open the debate
      > by electing individuals with different political thought.
      > Once the so called 'minor parties' are represented,
      > some compromises may very well begin and open
      > debate may foster more.
      > The major hurdle is the government schools which
      > are not turning out many independent thinkers. We
      > have far too many compliant citizens now. What we
      > need are more rebels willing to get involved and make
      > changes.
      > A change in the power structure with Term Limits
      > would not hurt. Term Limits which are not only very short
      > but forbid any return [to some other election office or
      > appointed office] as well. We need to get away from
      > lifelong careers in politics. The sooner the better. A
      > government run by its citizens - those who live under
      > the laws and taxes they pass - will go a long way to
      > get us back to a simpler, less intrusive government.
      > I read a commentary just last night on the two versions
      > of Freedom. One says Liberty is freedom to live as you
      > wish as long as you are peaceful. The other is Freedom
      > from want. In the first case you make your own way in the
      > world with some help as needed from your friends (who
      > might be strangers with compassion). In the second for
      > instance, government (or others) makes sure everyone's
      > basic needs (the list of which seems to grow over time)
      > are met. The latter implies someone is forced to meet
      > the needs of others. That is not freedom.
      > Liberty,
      > gail lightfoot
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