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The Swamp


Big Government

Don't tear government down. Fix it. You'll like it

Quality of Government: A Statistical Portrait

This statistical portrait reaches a number of conclusions about quality of government, as defined to include rule of law, integrity, and other measures of impartiality and competence. 

We have seen that, on the whole, QoG tends to be higher in countries that are more democratic. To no one’s surprise, we have found that rich countries tend to be better governed than poor countries, although countries that are heavily reliant on natural resource wealth are distinct outliers in that regard. Finally, we have seen that better governments tend to be bigger, as measured by the size of their budgets relative to GDP. The data give little support to the idea that slashing government budgets is a reliable way to improve government quality.

We have also found that in key respects, life is better in countries that have high-quality governments, and even more so when those governments are both higher-quality and larger. That is true both when a “better life” is defined in terms of the satisfaction of basic human needs and when it is defined in terms of human freedom. In all these respects, the results are consistent with the preponderance of findings in previous literature in the subject, including my own earlier work.

To put it succinctly, that government is best that governs best.


So Much Winning.

No Longer Leader of the Free World: Trump Admin. Humiliated at UN over Iran Arms Embargo

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council took up a resolution presented by US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, aimed at an indefinite extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran. Only one of the 15 members, the Dominican Republic, supported the US resolution. Eleven abstained. And two–Russia and China, voted against it. The resolution would have needed 8 to pass and would have needed to avoid a veto by one of the five permanent members.

But it failed by 13 to 2. China and Russia did not even have to brandish a veto. It is hard to remember another vote on which the US was humiliated quite this badly, though if George W. Bush had actually pursued a UNSC authorization for his Iraq War in spring of 2003, he might have similarly gone down to epochal diplomatic defeat.

Let us underline this. The most powerful countries in the world and the current representatives of the main global blocs just sided with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against Donald J. Trump.

The United States is no longer the leader of the free world.

Also, from Al Jazeera: Iran arms embargo: US has 'never been so isolated

And, Making Excuses for Trump: Where Does the Buck Stop?

Apart from anything else, Donald Trump’s demeanor has alienated nearly all of America’s traditional allies while most of the world regards him as a dangerous sociopath who is also something of a joke. 

Are we great again?


What Democrats Can Learn from the Republicans about Political Power - The Ds aren't very good at it but the progressives are getting better. 

COVID Economy

Where we spent our COVID dollars. Lots of good charts.

Fired up by Stimulus Money & Debt Deferrals, Americans Went Shopping. But Where? How Life Changed During the Pandemic

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