Chapter 7: Universalism through Common Access: An Alternative Model of Distributive Majoritarian Politics
AbstractThe rational-choice logic of majority rule embodies discriminatory distribution of burdens and benefits as between members of majority and minority coalitions. Empirical observation, however, suggests universality or near-universality, even in programs that are potentially discriminatory. Attempts have been made to explain the anomaly, but the basic issues have not been resolved. Weingast and others have argued that working legislatures will implicitly adopt quasi-unanimity rules or conventions. We present an alternative model of distributive majoritarian politics. The distinctive feature is "common access." If democratic politics is modeled, not in terms of a monolithic decision structure, but instead as a setting where differing and separate decision authorities are granted access to the general taxable capacity, collective action can be analyzed in the logic of common resource usage. Our model allows for universality, even with pork-barrel spending, without resort to institutionalized rules or informal conventions.
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