Values File

Although typically shielded from public view these

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Unformatted text preview: of the general public will be weighed. Indeed, the argument that authoritarian governments can ignore special interest groups and therefore make decisions that are for the overall good of the society is based on a series of highly dubious assumptions. One is that the unelected leaders in these systems actually have the interest of the public at heart. The behavior of Fidel Castro in Cuba, Kim Jung-Il in North Korea, Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, and Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir in Sudan, to say nothing of former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, would strongly suggest otherwise. Another assumption is that authoritarian governments don't have to satisfy their own special-interest constituencies. In fact, most authoritarian systems are built on the foundations of extensive patronage networks upon which they rely to stay in power. Although typically shielded from public view, these networks have enormous impacts on economic opportunity and development. The separation of powers inherent in a democracy acts as a constant reminder to the public that the central government's powers are limited. Thus, it encourages the expansion--and the independence--of the private sector. This, in turn, fosters a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship, the engines of economic growth. The multiplicity of influences on the decision-making process in democracies also leads to more moderate and nuanced policies. This moderating influence contributes to one of the most distinctive qualities of democratic development--its steadiness. The ups and downs of economic growth in low-income countries are smaller in democracies. Rather than experiencing alternating bouts of boom and bust, economies in democracies are more likely to undergo a stable pattern of moderate gains and small declines. For poor democracies, that quality of steadiness is exceedingly important, for it means that they are more able than countries run by dictators to avoid economic and humanitarian catastrophes. SLHS Value File Democracy Bad Democracy = Tyranny of the Majority John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, The Library of Liberal Arts edition, p.7. Like other tyrannies, the...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.

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