Fiscal Choices and Economic Outcomes
The Locke Institute series
Chapter 1: On the Choice of Regime
regime . . . a system of rule or government1 Most people, of course, never make a choice among political regimes, except for the implicit choice not to migrate to an area ruled by a diﬀerent regime. The populations ruled by some types of regimes, however, prosper and grow relative to those ruled by other regimes, and some people ﬁnd a way to move to a preferred regime. And regimes change – sometimes by conquest, sometimes by evolution, sometimes by choice. As a contribution to help understand these important historical conditions and developments, this book develops a theory of the ﬁscal choices and economic outcomes of the major alternative types of political regimes. Autocracy is the ﬁrst type of regime addressed, because most people throughout recorded history have been subject to some form of autocratic regime. The primary focus is on the rules of democratic regimes, because democracy is now the dominant type of regime and the one broadly considered to be the best achievable. At the end of 2000, for example, the annual Freedom House survey identiﬁed 63 percent of the world’s states as democracies and estimated that 41 percent of the world’s population live in free states.2 And the several types of actual regimes are compared with an optimal government, one based on the set of rules that people might choose “behind the veil of ignorance”3 about their personal conditions and preferences. The theory addresses the following types of questions for each of the several major types of political...
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