PS 111 - PS 111. Introduction to American Politics...

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PS 111. Introduction to American Politics Professors Arthur Lupia and Vincent Hutchings January 9, 2007 Chapter 1 Your Opportunity o Whenever there is scarcity or a need for trade-offs* or collective action*, there is politics. Trade-offs: different people have different wants and needs; must be decided which needs are more important for spending and such Collective action: to get things done, other people must be on board; you won’t be able to get things done in this system when solo o The more you understand about politics, the more effectively you can operate in many important societal sectors. Politics is ugly because many people lose, but if you understand the rules then you have a better chance of winning. What is a government? o Government is the formal institutions through which a land and its people are ruled*. o Institutions are rules and procedures that provide incentives for political behavior, thereby shaping politics*. Definitions o Sovereignty: monopoly on use of force within a well-defined territory o Politics: conflicts and struggles over the leadership, structure, and policies of governments Forms of government o Autocracy: a single individual rules Deceiving because generally the ruler will listen to other people not just fulfill his own desires because that would possibly lead to assassination o Oligarchy: a small group controls most of the governing decisions o Democracy: citizens play a significant role in the governing process*. People outside of government have certain political responsibilities o Constitutional: a system of rule that places formal and effective limits on the power of government*. We live in a constitutional democracy; however, a democracy does not have to be constitutional The five principles of politics* o All political behavior has a purpose o All politics is collective action To initiate any governmental action, it must be done with others. o Rules and procedures matter
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o Political outcomes are the products of individual preferences, rules, and procedures Important point: politics depends on the interaction between the rules and people’s desires o History matters Most decisions are drawn from past experience Behavior o Is it random? No, most people reach their decisions through logical reasoning. o Is it predictable? There is some predictability. o Is it rational? ?? Collective action* o The pooling of resources and coordination of effort and activity by a (often large) group of people to achieve common goals. CA benefits from having a plan o A key function of government is to determine how much different individuals will contribute to its own efforts to provide public goods How do we get tax money from people? How do we fund U of M? Essentially, how do we get people to work together?
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This note was uploaded on 04/01/2008 for the course POLISCI 111 taught by Professor Lupia during the Winter '07 term at University of Michigan.

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PS 111 - PS 111. Introduction to American Politics...

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