Poli Sci 50 Midterm Study Guide
*Composed from provided lecture outlines, lecture slides, and self-taken notes in class*
a. What is politics?
i. Politics is the study of decisions that are public and authoritative.
Decision making, power, the allocation of making decisions on behalf of a
ii. What is public varies among nations and populations. In example: the sex
lives of politicians; in America its public knowledge, in other countries it
may not be. Example two: the religious beliefs of politicians.
iii.Gov’ is sometimes defined as the group of officials who collectively
possess a monopoly over the use of legitimate use of force with any
given land area (country)
iv. Type of gov’ in America: republic (representative gov’). Other types are
self-government (people ruling the people).
v. In America, it is the general principle that a small group will make
decisions for the greater society on their behalf. It is a poor version of
representative government, but that’s what it is.
b. Thomas Hobbs - Leviathan (1651)
i. The idea of society in absence of gov’
ii. Leviathan and theory of Hobbs
1. Claimed the human nature is inherently evil and barbaric
2. Results in no culture, trade, arts, letters of society
3. “and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”
4. Remember: a lot of his mentality can be attributed to the time era
he lived and all the wars he had witnessed… (thank you Morrione)
iii. Leviathan 1. If you earn something or create it, it’s yours. This gov’ type is
supposed to be a protection from the conniving and corrupt
nature of man.
c. John Locke (1689) – Second Treatise of Gov
i. All men are created equal, but everyone must give up a bit of their
equality for security and protection. This is why societies are joined to
exist. In other words, every person deserves the right to life, liberty, and
ii. Recognizing that the state of nature is scary, a government shall be
created to control the state of nature, which ironically causes people to
lose a bit of their equality.
iii. Your freedom shall only extend to that of which invades another’s rights.
iv. Unfortunately, Locke recognizes the danger of tyranny and too much
power in the government. Therefore, he calls for consent of the people
and limited gov’
d. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – The Social Contract (1762)
i. Deeply fears too much power in the government
ii. Believes the state of nature is good, and that power corrupts
e. James Madison – The Federalist #51 (1788)
i. Federalist #51, written by Madison, is the idea that we need gov’ w/ power,
authority, and resources, but can control government itself
ii. Writer of the Federalist papers (written to persuade states to ratify the
iii. Fears tyranny of the majority. In example, minorities may be oppressed
based on the temporary mob-mentality of the majority. The reality of the
revolution is that colonists saw British parliament as the oppressors, not
necessarily the King. Parliamentary of Britain, of that time, was ruled by the rich.
The fear was not of the return of the King, it was the rule of the majority.
iv. “Ambition must be made to counter ambition” v. Says gov’ is a reflection of the people. So, if humans are foulable, the
government is foulable as well. If men were angles, no government
would be necessary. If angles were to govern men, society can be livable
vi. The design of the constitution incorporates checks and balances:
House/Senate/ Legislative Branch.
vii. The compromise of the American Constitution was that the House of Rep
represents population, while every state is represented by 2 senators. The
House of Rep should represent the people, and the senate should represent the
state itself. The states give up sovereignty for protection from the federal
government. The senate over represents the populations of small states to
avoid big states having reign over smaller states because of their smaller
population and lack of House of Reps
viii.The senate and House of Rep were built to disagree with each other. In order
for laws to pass, the two typically disagreeing groups must reach an agreement
(checks & balances). The only check of tyranny of the majority with parliament
in Britain at the time, was public vote- which was rare
ix. Madison’s Dilemma
1. Trade off’s (ex. Security vs Liberty)
2. Convinced gov’ is necessary, but can also be a source of
oppression. Must control society, but also control itself.
3. Delegation v Abdications
a. Universal reasons to delegate
i. Division of Labor
ii. To take advantage of expertise
b. Universal risks of delegation
i. Hidden information
ii. Hidden Action
iii. Madison’s Dilemma
II. What do we want out of our government? a. Security and Order
i. Protection for invasions and general order (traffic laws)
b. Protection of Property and Civil Liberties
i. Without strong property rights, there is little determination to acquire such
ii. Enforcement of contracts (civil law)
c. Promotion of the Economy
i. The federal reserve
ii. Interest rates
i. This comes in to the point of people thinking the gov’ needs to do more than
the listed above
ii. Helping those who receive the short end of the stick: unemployment aid, job
e. Promotion of Community
i. Often argued whether it’s the role of gov’ to play or not
ii. Taking a multi-ethnic polity and being merged together and “united we stand,
united we fall”
iii. In risk is the loss of individuality, in gain would be a strong greater government
iv. This would include the promotion of a national language, singing the national
anthem, education, etc.
v. There is good and bad of this. Bad: No religious symbols of France. Good:
Reminding Afghans what it means to be a country in the country of Afghanistan
which was dissembled in tribes with differing laws III. What DON’T we want out of the government?
a. Destruction of Community
i. Keeping people from assembling, destroying civil society such as religious
communities or volunteer associations
b. Violations of Basic Rights
i. Oppression by the government
i. No proper training, filled with dysfunctions in bureaucracies
i. Private use of public resources
i. The inability to reform, remove, or change
ii. When the government is stuck as is, there is no growth
iii. Ex: Trucking agencies. Weighing Stations: requires a license to move things from
location to location. At weighing stations, people make sure that the truck is
empty when it is supposed to be. Mostly, what this does, is increased the
number of truckers who can keep their jobs because there are restricted
licenses, more jobs will be created and kept.
IV. What are the alternatives to government?
a. Markets, Volunteerism, Direct Democracy, Anarchy: State of Nature
a. What is it?
i. A form of limited government with elected officials chosen by the people, to
represent the people
b. (How) Do elections work?f i. Elections
1. Require: free, fair, frequent.
2. Universal suffrage
3. One person, one vote
4. Secret ballot
5. There’s a slide with like 100 words on the website with more details of
how elections work
ii. Accountability requires two things: The person accusing someone as
accountable must know who did what, and how do we punish the person held
c. (How) Does the legislative process work?
d. (How) dies the administrative process work?
e. Delegation and Tradeoffs
VI. Comparative Politics
a. Why study it?
i. To learn about how politics works in other countries, give perspective on how
things work here, to find patterns, and to explain them
b. Culture and Comparative Politics
i. CP is about comparing, and the most natural units to compare are countries.
Places are different. Peoples are different. Cultures are different. And we can
build pretty elaborate theories of cultural causality
ii. The problem is that these sorts of formulations are NOT EXPLANATIONS
iii. What IS culture?
1. What does culture do?
iv. Political science treatments of Culture
v. Does Culture Matter?
c. Why we compare, and how we compare
i. Inductive Reasoning
ii. Looking for Patterns
iii. Correlation is not causation 1. To prove that there is a causation, one must create a controlled studied
in which provides evidence that the argument is correct for causation.
2. Ex. Wealth and Democracy. There is causation, but not necessarily
VII. Introduction: What Makes Countries Poor v Rich
i. The average person in Norway makes about $89,000 per year, whereas he
average person in Congo makes about $375 a year.
ii. The average Norwegian is 237 times richer than the average Congoian.
iii. Consequences of poverty: malnutrition, hunger, disease, poor infrastructure,
low levels of education, etc
b. What is Development and What is Growth?
i. Per capita income (GDP)
1. Per Capita = per person
2. Includes GNP (gross national product) /GDP (gross domestic product)
/GNI (gross national income)
3. Ex: China may have a bigger economy than Japan, but they are not
richer. They simply have a larger population. As the population of a
country grows, income and economy have to expand just to keep up,
otherwise people will get poorer on average. Populations have to grow,
and the aged people must be replaced with the young, otherwise there
will be a lack of replacements in the work place. As people live longer
and birth rates are reduced, the economy will shrink.
a. Dependency Ratio
i. The ratio of people who are working v the people who
are dependents of the working
ii. Several things go along with increases in pc GDP
1. Human Development Index (HDI)
a. Measures Standards of living and quality of life (the UN does
i. Life expectancy at birth, Education Index, Literacy,
Income 2. According to the scatterplot he’s posted online, the correlation of HDI
and GNI are not directly associated. Over $20,000, the initial human
development index increases significantly and then levels off. After you
are rich enough, money can’t buy you love…or other factors that are
said to make a person happy.
iii. Economic growth is a very recent phenomenon.
1. Alost 1,000 years ago, to even 200 years ago, there was not a significant
increase in per capita income
2. The industrial revolution is the point in which countries began to
develop and increase their wealth
c. Why do some countries BECOME RICH, while others REMAIN POOR?
1. There is inequality in the world not because the poor are getting poorer,
but because the rich are getting richer and leaving everyone else behind
a. Absolute poverty is measure at receiving an income of under
$1.25 a day. This was a millennium goal of the UN, to reduce
this number. Since 2000, this number has been reduced by half.
The goal was reached quickly because 60% of those people lived
in China, and the poverty line of $1.25 was arbitrary.
b. Economic growth is what takes people out of poverty, as
opposed to governments giving money to the poor (as it is seen
in this course in relation to absolute poverty). Redistribution of
wealth is important in many cases, though, like the US.
d. Geography and Economic Growth
i. Tropical countries grow more slowly than temperate countries
1. In 1995, 72 tropical countries earned about $3,300 per person. The 78
non-tropical countries had a per capita gdp of almost 3x as much.
2. Not one of the advanced countries of the world are in the tropics
3. Tropical countries also tend to grow more slowly than non-tropics. This
same pattern of the tropics holds true within countries as well- tropical
areas inside of country tend to be poorer than the parts of the country
that are not tropical.
ii. The Disease Burden in the Tropics 1. Diseases, such as Malaria, takes a great toll on the working class of the
region. 90% of deaths in the world due to disease are in the tropics of
Africa. Severe malaria is estimated to be able to knock off 1% of a
country’s economic growth. When countries find a method of
eradication malaria, their economies begin to boom
iii. Climate in the Tropics
1. Countries that are humid and hot tend to have less productive workers.
Monsoons can reduce agricultural activity and destroy infrastructures,
raising costs and lowering productivity
iv. Resource endowments and the Resource Curse
1. Most important are: Land, Labor, and Capital.
i. Soil quality effects crops, minerals and diamonds can be
present or absent, is there oil and how much is there?
ii. It is assumed that local resources of wealth are a good
thing, but this is not always true. The greater a number
of laborers that are involved in extracting resources
from their own nation, the more likely it is that the
nation has slow growth.
2. The Resource Curse (Dutch Disease, Policy Distortions, Civil War)
a. Dutch Disease
i. To buy your product, other countries have to buy your
ii. A nations currency ends up getting inflated, so that
people may purchase this money. Now, if locals want to
make products for exporting, it becomes too expensive
for foreign nations to purchase the locally made
products (like clothes).
iii. Countries that depend on resource exports for growth
end up getting stuck when it comes to other types of
exports. iv. The issue here is that commodities are unpredictable. If
your economy is dependent on them, you may end up
v. Populations Remote from Coastline of Major Navigable River
1. Living far away from the coastline makes trade, imports, and exports
more difficult. Imports become less competitive and exports become
2. This can undermine the value of natural resources because transport
costs may be too high to sell.
VIII. Government matters
a. Institutions mediate effects of Geography
b. Engerman and Sokoloff
i. This theory questions the differences of the economies of Northern US/ Canda
vs Southern US/ West Indies/ Brazil, revolving around the existence of slavery
ii. There was abundant labor in the presence of slavery
iii. Cash crops- countries that were suited for cash crops would bring in slaves
iv. This arguments believes that geographical location does not directly, or
significantly affect a countries ability to grow economically
c. Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson
IX. Violence in Politics
a. Def: A lack of security and order
b. Often the signs of too little government, or too much government
c. Roughly 1/3 of countries in the world have suffered a civil war in the past 50 years,
rarely taking place in middle income or rich countries
d. 80% of civil wars have been in the world’s poorest countries, 73% of the poorest people
have participated in a civil war
e. Civil Wars
i. “The Conflict Trap”
1. Poverty makes war more likely, and civil war makes poverty a lot worse
ii. Why are civil wars bad for growth?
1. People die. Both a human tragedy as well as an economic tragedy. Civil
wars are said to un-develop countries…. Why? 2. Steers away foreign investment/ Reduces the incentive for local
incentive in things even like agriculture
3. Disrupt of commerce (shopping and buying) / Interstate commerce can
collapse because of disrupted trade
4. Banks collapse in war.
5. Refugees are produced, putting economic burdens of host states and
can lead to a great deal of violence
6. Destroy physical infrastructure as well as fields and crops which is left
unable to be fixed if there is a war zone in place
7. Civil wars also spread health problems like malaria and HIV because
soldiers and civilians moving country to country may be carriers
8. Disruption of medical aid.
9. Only about 5% of deaths in civil wars are actually results of battle field,
the other 95% are caused by reasons like those listed above. The vast
majority of deaths is attributed to people starving to death.
10. A typical 7 yr civil war reduces growth by about 2.3% per year
11. Note: most people who die during wars are young, who would be the
working class of the future
iii. The Aftermath of Civil war
1. Economies pick up rather quickly
2. Reasons: people need to fix what has been destroyed, aka “easy
3. There is sometimes a spread of terrorism
a. The impact of terrorist activity on GDP is a halt of growth
b. It’s almost a systematic halt in growth
iv. So violence and instability undermine economic development . It’s difficult to
educate children, commerce is disrupted, infrastructure is destroyed, and
investments are halted. Wealth and human capital are destroyed by reducing
productivity, and growth. Violence makes the economy worse, but poor
countries are most likely to have civil wars and violence. Stability and order are
the first steps of moving towards growth and stability.
X. Corruption a. Definition: “Private use of public resources” Or, the illicit use of power
i. Typically, this refers to people using their power in their position of the states
demanding bribes to do their job, by coercing and buying votes, stealing money
or goods from the public domain.
b. How it undermines growth
i. Undermines investments
ii. Undermines business growths because when bribes are involved, creating
businesses becomes more expensive, resulting in lower profit
iii. Decreases transparency and increases doubt
1. Ex: Buying a passport in the U.S. The prices are fixed, listed, and
available to the public. In other countries, the prices may not be listed
so you never know how much you are overpaying for your goods.
iv. Economists say that the income will flow where it is difficult to open a business.
Opening a business where there is a great deal of places that are similar to said
business, the profit will not be so high. However, if the cost of opening that
business is so high, this logic may not be so true.
c. The Cost of Corruption
i. Think of it as a tax of living.
ii. Ex: Tipping in a restaurant. Adding a 20% tip to your meal at a restaurant is like a
mafia. It’s almost like a bride because you want better service.
d. Centralized vs. Decentralized Corruption
i. Centralized Corruption
1. The people who benefit from bribes go to people who are already in
positions of power.
a. Tax on commerce goes to the least needy
2. These taxes don’t go towards the public or redistribution of funds to the
3. Misallocation of resources
a. Power, not efficiency
b. Public works is a big are for corruption, (using bad materials,
paying bribes to inspectors, pocketing extra cash) c. Too much investment can go towards kick-backs where gov’
officials can take bribes
d. Too little investment go towards things like education, where
gov’ officials can’t find a way to benefit themselves
4. The Source: One Big Thief
5. Ex: A corrupt government, or mafias
6. These people work in the long term, as opposed to the short term like
those involved in decentralized corruption.
e. Decentralized Corruption
i. The Source: The Individual
ii. Ex: The trucking industry in Cameroon. Petty corruption with a little loss at each
step that adds up.
iii. Not at anyone’s control.
iv. These are individual predators who are trying to maximize their personal
v. This is like a common place problems
f. Corruption and Democracy
i. The Importance of the Rule of Law for Growth
1. “The inability of societies to develop effective, low cost enforcement of
contracts is the most important source of both historical stagnation and
contemporary underdevelopment in the third world” –Douglass North
a. Contract enforcement is important to functioning economies
i. Think about land-owning. No contract, no security, no
b. A transparent system with property rights is important for
people to prove that they own what they say they own
c. Contracts protect individuals from expropriation by the
government, or by other individuals
g. Investment and Property Rights
i. Government Directed Finance
1. Gov’ make loans that they know will never be repaid because the
borrowers bribe them. 2. Ex: The US gov’ bailing out the auto industry. Ford and GM may have
strong-armed the gov’ to give the loan. In the end, they ended up
paying pack the gov’ in full with interest, but this is an example of where
such might occur.
ii. Property Rights
1. No property rights no investment
2. No investment no growth
3. To borrow, a person must have collateral and proof that they own this
4. Risk of government predation
a. A government that can protect can also oppress.
b. The key is democracy: limited government
i. Because people want to be reelected, they try not to
take advantage of their powers to oppress.
ii. Term limits for positions of power, however, creates a
risk that the person in power will take advantage of
their powers without fear
iii. Reading Note: No Title
1. Says that taking a loan that is being given as future collateral for default,
is dangerous because too many people defaulting on their loans will
crumble the economy
h. Democracy and Growth
i. Attempts to stop corruption
1. There is a law in the US that penalizes businesspersons of the US for
paying bribes in foreign countries
2. The idea is that nations who try to enforce such laws, will bring
businesses back home, or host countries will reduce their corruption in
order to bring such investments back to their nations
3. However, like sanctions in Iran, these types of policies can backfire
ii. How the people are effected
1. Where there is an increase of corruption, the poor tend to become
poorer 2. Some countries can do well despite their corruption, but they would
grow faster without that corruption
iii. Corruption in Democracies vs Autocracies
1. Democracies tend to be less corrupt than autocracies
2. Remember that there is a relationship between wealth and democracy
a. Democracy is about limited gov’
b. Checks and balances makes it so that bribes are more difficult to
c. In autocracies, it is more worth a persons while to bribe
d. Therefore, there is less corruption in a democratic gov’ than
autocracies because there is more power given to individuals in
autocracies. No promises can really be guaranteed in a
e. In democracies, the most corruption is at the lower levels of
power, where individuals get more power.
i. Studying Corruption
i. It’s a legal, so there aren’t many records of it
ii. Transparency International
1. CPI (Corruptions Perspectives Index)
2. Surveys of International Business People
a. This survey is given to people who work in multiple countries
and have the experience to compare the corruption level
between the nations in which they’ve worked
b. They rank the countries they’ve worked in, and in their field of
work, to somewhat create a ranking
c. Offers comparative data
3. Experiential Surveys of People who Live in Countries
a. These are the people who know their own countries best
b. They know how the officials in their country work, as well as
what progress has been made over time c. Offers non-comparative data of progress over time with deeper
4. What’s the problem with these surveys?
a. First of all, giving corruption an international definition is
difficult. (Tipping isn’t bribery to us, but may be to others)