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Why Bad Behaviour Is Good Politics by Bruce Bueno #TMRE #MRX

Live blogs by @LoveStats! This is a session summary from The Market Research Event by IIR in Orlando, Florida, November 2011. It was posted mere minutes after completion of the talk. Any inaccuracies are my own. Any humorous side remarks are also my own. Feel free to leave comments and critiques. ***                                                                                                          ***

The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Silver Professor of Politics, New York University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Consultant to CIA

  • Earthquakes are deadlier in Iran or China than Chile, Honduras or Italy
  • Almost all the worlds top universities are in democracies
  • The World bank shuns whistle blowers who tell them how their money was stolen
  • Iraq exported baby formula and food in the 90s while over 500000 of its children died needlessly from malnutrition and disease
  • Do want a job with security, high income, freedom, everyone praises you, you balance family and  life how you want. Not Obama. Dictators do.
  • Why do dictators keep their jobs for decades where Obama gets to keep his for only a few years?
  • We like to think politics are mysterious. Five rules govern all organizations. families, charities, companies, all of them.
  • #1 If you want to keep your perfect job forever, depend on as few people as possible, forge a small coalition of essential supporters.
  • #2 Get small coalition of people drawn from as large a pool of people as possible. They should know they are easily replaced.
  • The media tells you how important elections are. This is nonsense. Elections don’t legitimate a government when everyone knows who will win anyways? Same with shareholder boards. These are rigged elections.
  • #3 Tax the hell out of everybody else. Absolute max you can get away with. Don’t tax so that they can’t keep working. Don’t let them rest when they should be producing wealth for you. don’t let them be too miserable so that they want to overthrow you.  Publicly traded companies operate rigged elections like this. Extract as much from customers as possible. Withhold as much from shareholders so they don’t rebel. Think of banks and bonuses. People don’t fire CEOs. The board does. The people who can fire the CEO get the big bonuses.
  • #4 Pay your dependents just enough so they don’t think about switching sides and backing someone else. But not more than that.  What you pay them isn’t leftover for you. If you pay them too much, they might be savers who will accumulate wealth and then turn around and overthrow you.
  • #5 Don’t waste money on improving the lives of the people you rule. They aren’t important.
  • Problems of democratic leaders – their hands are tied behind their back. They have rule of law, constitution, real elections, puts them at great risk.
  • Congress reelection is 95% probable. Why? Congress is least respected institution in the US but people like their own member. You don’t decide who your member is. Members of congress pick their voters. They shift districts around to get the right voters.
  • Who’s taxes does Obama want to raise? Rich? No, the answer is republicans. Those voters are disproportionately wealthy. Tax people who aren’t essential to keeping you in power. They are trying to follow the rules by dressing them up in ideology. It’s window dressing.

    Cover of "The Predictioneer's Game: Using...

    Cover via Amazon

  • Three niches of voters. Want money distributed their way. Wealthy voters who want policy tilted to favour them. Independents who don’t know whose pocket to pick.
  • Foreign aid – Who gives it? How much? Who gets it? How much do they get?
  • Jeffrey Sacks – says not enough money given to foreign aid. US does give money to dictators.  The amount is an equilibrium. It is the right amount. Your constituents must like the amount. Do my voters want me to build a school in the US or in foreign area? Value to voters is what determines the answer.  2 tenths of 1 percent of GNP is spent on foreign aid.
  • Foreign aid doesn’t improve anything. The money is being stolen. The UN knows the money is being stolen. How can the government not know this? They do. They expect it to be stolen. It is what we the people want the government to do. It’s really a bribe for policy compliance. We spend this money to buy off leaders cheaply.
  • Foreign aid is not for the needy. The needier a country is, the less likely it is to get foreign aid. The US is needs blind. We neither deprive nor give the needy aid.
  • Democratic countries implement the rules wherever they can.
  • We all give to charities, sometimes overseas charities. It’s a bad mistake. We always read about fantastic village programs that improve the quality of live, that is transforms lives. They never scale up. Why not? The local political boss gets money to scale it up and it no longer works.
  • Perverse situation where neediest are least likely to get aid and that is what we want our government to do. Just like every other business does.
  • How do we fix this? Put aid for Syria in an escrow account. Here’s what you have to do for us to release the money – free speech, free press, freedom of assembly. These are the worst things for dictators. give opposition access to funds, media. Then we will release the money and make a second escrow. Have open books that can be audited. Give foreign aid on actual performance.  Build secondary schools, this is where people learn how to think, a threatening situation.
  • At home, running a corporation. Let your shareholders network, organize, exchange information.  A computer can generate an unbiased district map and take into account topography – no one will agree to do this today but we could put it into effect in 25 years. These are not hard mysterious things to solve.
  • Politicians can make these changes but their jobs are at risk.
  • Electoral college is a slavery institution.
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