Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Democracy Tax

Democracy is expensive, and the Economist reminds us of it in last week's special report on India. Administering the necessary bureaucratic and legislative apparatuses that make the thing go costs a lot of and usually leads to a certain amount of disappointment. In this sense, many note that an iron-fisted despot, if "benevolent" so to speak, is a more "efficient" form of government because what gets done gets done quickly and without too much hemming or hawing. Unfortunately for these regimes, the principle applies equally to good and bad ideas.

But if you were beginning to think that our own system was hopelessly corrupt, it could be worse. Even though, "every five years, over a period of a few weeks, India holds a
reasonably orderly and fair election,"  the article goes on to state that:
[India's] politicians are mostly an unsavoury
lot. Of the 522 members of India’s current parliament, 120 are facing
criminal charges; around 40 of these are accused of serious crimes,
including murder and rape. Most Indian politicians are presumed to be
corrupt...
So, mere "pay to play" schemes and cash in a freezer is actually pretty tame!


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