Lecture 18 Reading Summary

To be effective o it should concentrate

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Unformatted text preview: ransition from the industrial to the information age → Some inequality will speed the transition Does Electoral Democracy Boost Economic Equality Nancy Bermeo Summarized by: David Cheng Inequality is the condition of being unequal in the command of valuable resources. • • Resources include: physical strength, political rights, wealth, income, etc. Popular types of inequality: political, gender, economic. Inequality differs from poverty. • • • • • Economic inequality: all actors are “unequal” Poverty: only some actors are “poor” Economic inequality: examines whether distribution of resources is fair Poverty: examines whether people live below an arbitrary standard Change in poverty trends may not affect economic inequality. Righting inequality under democracy is difficult. • Requires collective action by both mass and elite. • Inequalities often follow their own dynamic (independent of whether democracy exists) Democracy “supposed” to combat economic inequality. • • • Indeed a decrease in material inequality. But economic inequality has increased in most countries since the 1990s. Democracy endures despite inequality. Inequality negatively affects quality of democracy. • • Public policy often favors the wealthy over average voter. Economic inequality linked to bad attitudes, behavior, and government. o Decreased electoral turnout, political engagement, higher crime rates. o Political polarization o Peddling, judicial weakness, failure to provide public goods, and erosion of rule of law. Prospect for reducing economic inequalities are mixed. • • • • • • Citizens more concerned with their own economic situation than inequality. Poverty reduction often a bigger priority. Some DEFEND economic inequality. Human capital cannot be redistributed at all. People tend to use religion as a “safety net” and pray instead. Democracy is more about rights than redistribution. Toppling a democracy is not easy. • • • • High cost of coups. Some enjoy better power under democracy than other systems. Despite inequality, lots of positives (e.g. economic development). Powerful appeal of democracy. Despite coup shortcomings, two viable options: 1. Restorative coups: fight corruption; promise to restore democracy at a later date (2006 Thailand). 2. Mandated disassembly: disassemble democratic institutions gradually, by populist figures (Hugo Chavez). In essence, interactions between many factors are convoluted. Attempts to reverse economic inequality may threaten democracy more than the inequality itself....
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