Government 1B Week 15 The Economy of Zaire, The Public Choice school of economics, Front-loading and Political Engineering

Question 1: What kind of success did Africa have with governments that wielded great power over the different African economies?

In the African country of Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ruler Mobutu Sese Seko ruined the economy through his anti-capitalistic endeavors. Mobutu gained his rulership in the middle of a copper fueled economic boom, and he used this wealth to give himself a larger than life political appearance. He forced people to change their Christian names, outlawed any western attire, and made it illegal to celebrate any western holidays. In their place he advertised himself, putting his portrait in churches and pushing an enormous African patriotism movement. He chased out every Belgium and Asian capitalist, and assured the people that their wealth would multiply under his rule.

What actually ended up happening under his rule was complete economical breakdown. Zaire suffered extreme dept and price inflation. Hospitals couldn’t afford basic medical equipment, and public transportation shut down entirely. Mobutu taxed the people 95% of their earnings, which gave people zero incentive to work. Mobutu eventually was forced into begging the Belgiums he had chased away to return.

Question 2: What are some of the major arguments advanced by the Public Choice school of economics?

One of the main arguments made by the Public Choice school of economics is that government officials have the same motivations and self fueled agendas as everyone else. They aren’t unbiased omniscient beings working solely for the betterment of the majority, they are humans who are working towards human goals. Maximizing their own wealth, for instance.

Another argument is that unlike a capitalist economy where your purchases have an immediate positive or negative consequence, voting does not have an immediate response. Therefore many voters stay rationally ignorant, their vote doesn’t have an immediate consequence so they don’t care enough to put days of research into it. In contrast those who will make money off the election study day and night, then they manipulate the masses through thoughtful speeches for their own financial gain.

Question 3: What are front-loading and political engineering?

Front-loading is a way to quietly and discretely push for a political candidate. It basically gives the spotlight to a candidate, which gives them the stage to promise too many things and lie about realistic pricing. Political engineering is the physical way to lie about pricing. Say some congressman has a project that will cost twelve million dollars, but he knows that if he tells his district this they wont have it. So instead he tells many different districts and now everyone only has to pay one million dollars. It makes his project look much more practical, when in reality its the same price just spread out over many different districts and taxpayers. He then promises the congressmen of those districts to help with their projects, and the cycle of financial manipulation continues.

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