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Unformatted text preview: Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Analyzing Politics: An Introduction PLS 100: Intro to American National Government Professor Lee Michigan State University Analyzing Politics: An Introduction What is politics? Recurring themes in politics Studying/analyzing politics What is politics? “Process through which individuals and groups reach agreement on a course of common (collective) action.” Social process that applies to many situations, outside of American national politics and politics in general. How do individuals interact and decide things? Analyzing Politics: An Introduction What is politics? What’s the problem? People see the world differently and have different preferences. Pizza or tacos? Universal health care or not? Higher or lower taxes? Problem: How can a group of individuals who may like different things agree on a decision? Fraternity, sorority Residents of the U.S. Members of the U.S. House Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Problems of Collective Action No one person determines the outcome. Just one person in the group. Different sorts of “collective action problems” in different contexts. 1 2 Coordination Prisoner’s dilemma Free-rider problem Tragedy of the commons Institutions can help solve these problems. Set of rules that structure interactions between individuals. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Coordination Coordination problems Everyone might agree on some goal, but achieving it takes the group to work together. Might be difficult to coordinate efforts of all individuals in the group. Example: Protests and rallies. Most effective if lots of people go to the same place at the same time. Someone to help people coordinate. Various rallies in D.C. in 2010: Glenn Beck (Restoring Honor rally); John Stewart and Stephen Colbert (Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear) Occupy Movements in 2011 – some help from social networking (Facebook, Twitter) to coordinate. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Prisoner’s dilemma Steve and Wen-Chin are arrested for suspicion of robbing a bank. Prosecutor lays out options to each one of them separately. Either confess or don’t confess: If Steve confesses and Wen-Chin remains silent, then no jail. (4) If Steve remains silent but Wen-Chin confesses, you get 10 years. (1) If both confess, then get convictions but with early parole, which is 5 years. (2) If both remain silent, then only get convicted of only a minor charge (firearms possession), which is 6 months. (3) Utility in parentheses (have higher utility for things I like more) Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Wen − Chin Confess Don’t Confess Confess 2, 2 4, 1 Don’t Confess 1, 4 3, 3 Steve Steve’s utility, Wen-Chin’s utility Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Wen − Chin Confess Don’t Confess Confess 2, 2 4, 1 Don’t Confess 1, 4 3, 3 Steve Steve’s utility, Wen-Chin’s utility Nash equilibrium: Neither has an incentive to “unilaterally deviate” from an equilibrium outcome. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Wen − Chin Confess Don’t Confess Confess 2, 2 4, 1 Don’t Confess 1, 4 3, 3 Steve Steve’s utility, Wen-Chin’s utility Nash equilibrium: Neither has an incentive to “unilaterally deviate” from an equilibrium outcome. Better outcome, but can’t attain it. Not an equilibrium. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Prisoner’s dilemma in words There is a strictly better outcome for everyone in the group that cannot be achieved because each individual has an individual incentive to do something that ends up hurting the group. Everyone is worse off because of individual incentives. Examples: two countries in an nuclear arms race, athletes using ’roids. Re-cap Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Solving prisoner’s dilemma? Let’s say I told them to rob the bank. And I told them that if either one confessed if they got caught, then I’d break their thumbs. Changes the game. I’m an institution. Provides an incentive for both to stick with agreement to not confess. Government can step in (regulate) to coerce individuals to do something (and achieve better outcome) Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Free-rider problem Free-rider problem A form of the prisoner’s dilemma in a large group setting. Individual decisions lead to a bad outcome for the group. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Free-rider problem Free-riding on Public Goods Public good: 1 2 Non-rivaled Non-excludable Examples: national defense, clean air... Consequence of the problem: Individuals don’t contribute enough to producing a public good. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Free-rider problem Why is there a problem with public goods? Production of public good is not tied to any single individual’s contribution Either public good is still produced, even if I don’t contribute, or my decision not to contribute only decreases the amount of good produced a tiny amount. Drop in the bucket Since I can benefit from the public good, regardless of whether I contribute (non-excludable), I benefit from shirking (not contributing). Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Free-rider problem Example 1: Public radio I can listen even if I don’t contribute. Gov’t helps make up budget. Selective incentives helps alleviate free rider problem. Coffee mug, tote, discounts, etc. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Free-rider problem Example 2: Cheering in the Izzone I can cheer or just sit there and fiddle with my smartphone. Me cheering doesn’t make it any louder. Therefore, not enough cheering. How to combat free-riding? Contract. Social norms and public shaming. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Free-rider problem Example 3: Free riding roommates Public good: clean apartment Let the roommates clean and still get benefit of clean apt. Create institution: Cleaning schedule/clarify expectations. Punishment? Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Tragedy of the Commons Tragedy of the Commons Tragedy of Commons is about over-use of common resource (too much) Sort of the other side of coin of free-riding ( too little creation of public good) Herdsman grazing sheep in a pasture. Each herder adds another cow to their herd to make more money. One additional cow makes little difference in amount of grass in pasture. If everyone does this though, it adds up and there are too many cattle and there is over-grazing. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Collective action problems Tragedy of the Commons Tragedy of Commons: Examples Over-fishing, over-logging, over-pollution/global warming Possible solutions: Quotas, privatization Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Costs of Collective Action Costs of Collective Action There are costs involved when a group of individuals get together and try to make group decisions. 1 2 Transaction costs Conformity costs Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Costs of Collective Action Transaction costs Think about group decision-making as a transaction Costs are time, effort, resources (getting informed, time and effort in getting everyone together to deliberate and make decision, time it takes to actually agree on collective decision, etc.) As the number of individuals increases, cost increases. In particular, takes longer to reach agreement. I’m a dictator. Zero transaction cost. Delegate to representatives (members of Congress) to create policies. Direct democracy too costly. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Costs of Collective Action Conformity costs I may not like what the group decision was. We picked Thai, but I prefer pizza. Conformity cost increase as we decrease the level of support needed to choose a group decision. Dictator. One person decides for group (e.g., me). High conformity costs Unanimity. Everyone must agree. Low conformity cost. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Costs of Collective Action Balancing costs by varying how much support needed Dictatorship has low transaction cost but high conformity cost. Unanimity has high transaction cost but low conformity cost. Something in the middle is best (minimizes total cost)? Majority rule? Super-majority rule? We’ll see this play out next time talking about the U.S. Constitution. Also will see in later discussions on Congress. Analyzing Politics: An Introduction Costs of Collective Action Summary Politics is about the interaction between individuals in a group trying to live together. Create policies/laws/rules to abide by. But in any social setting, there are issues that may arise. We’ll see today’s terminology throughout the semester. Terms will become more clear as you see more examples. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2012 for the course PLS 100 taught by Professor Thornton during the Spring '07 term at Michigan State University.

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