Friday, January 20, 2017

Book: The Dictator's Handbook

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, de Mesquita, Bruce Bueno, Alastair Smith, explains why people in power might do seemingly irrational things and why loyalty is much more important than competence.

Similar previous blogpost: link 1, link 2

Related video 1:

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Related video 3:

My highlights:
These stories of the horrible things politicians or business executives do are appealing in their own perverse way because they free us to believe we would behave differently if given the opportunity.

First, politics is about getting and keeping political power. It is not about the general welfare of “We, the people.”

...what works for those at the top usually works against those at the bottom,

…the world can only be improved if first we understand how it works and why.

States don’t have interests. People do.

Every type of politics could be addressed from the point of view of leaders trying to survive.

…we look at politicians as self-interested louts, just the sort of people you wouldn’t want to have over for dinner, but without whom you might not have dinner at all.

No one rules alone; no one has absolute authority. All that varies is how many backs have to be scratched and how big the supply of backs available for scratching.

Aid incentivizes autocratic leaders to fail to fix problems.

A common argument is that the locals know much better how to address their problems than do far-away donors. That’s probably true, but knowing how to fix local problems and having the will or interest to do so is quite another matter. This policy of giving money to recipients in anticipation of their fixing problems should stop. Instead the United States should escrow money, paying it out only when objectives are achieved. is better to have loyal incompetents than competent rivals.

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