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GVPT 170- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 59 pages long!)


Department
Government and Politics
Course Code
GVPT 170
Professor
Patrick Wohlfarth
Study Guide
Final

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UMD
GVPT 170
Final EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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American Government Lecture 1: The Logic of Politics
What is “Politics?”
o According to Harold Lasswell, politics is “who gets what, when, and how.
o Politics is the allocation of resources as informed by values.
Values include ones attitudes on abortion, gun control, the environment, or
the proper role of government.
Resources include money and manpower.
Politics as Collective Action
o Politics is the process of collective agreement to allocate resources in the face of
competing values.
While individuals often disagree on intended goals due to differing values,
politics involve the reconciliation of these opinions.
Problems in Achieving Collective Action
o Democratic nations face large, complex challenges.
What are the long-term effects?
What will we do with all of our tax income?
o Challenges of Political and Social Choice
Combination and ranking of preferences: How do we take the opinions of
our representatives and rank them?
Agreeing on a course of action: How do we reconcile everyone’s opinion?
Implementing and enforcing the collective choice: When a decision is
made, how will it be carried out? How will we ensure that our decision is
actually being carried out?
o The Political Process
Requires bargaining and compromise
More people mean more complex and divisive issues, meaning that
unstructured negotiations generally fail.
Thus, we require political institutions.
o Coordination
Even if the group agrees on and is willing to contribute to a collective
goal, how do you coordinate these efforts?
Coordination problems are usually caused by uncertainty and insufficient
information.
Examples:
We want to build a house for a family who lost their old home in a
disaster, but we don’t know how to build a house and are uncertain
about what our groupmates are capable of.
o Cooperation
What if individual willingness to contribute to a common goal is in doubt?
Self-interest often trumps collective effort.
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Individual outcomes depend on the choices of others.
Cooperation is necessary for the best collective outcome.
Free Riding: Citizens who think their contributions to a collective effort is
perceived as small and will not affect success or failure, and they can
enjoy the collective benefit without making an individual contribution,
may not contribute to the collective goal and, thus, the good will not be
provided.
Example: “I want to watch PBS, but not donate to PBS. Let others
give their money.”
Tragedy of the Commons: A collective good is in danger of being
squandered unless the group members cooperate towards its preservation.
Example: “If fishers overfish crabs in the Chesapeake Bay without
allowing them to repopulate, they will eventually go extinct.”
Costs of Collective Action
o Transaction Costs
o Conformity Costs
Delegation
o Direct Democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which every citizen has a
direct, participatory role in making decisions.
The United States is not a direct democracy because…
…it would be difficult to get a population as large as the U.S. to
agree on issues.
Instead, the U.S. is a republican democracy; the public elect people
to represent them. Thus, the act of voting for new laws is delegated
to representatives and senators.
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