(L75) Domestic Politics, Economics, & African Government

1.) What kind of success did Africa have with governments that wielded great power over the different African economies?

In Zaire for example, ruler Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997) took a great negative toll on the society he ruled over. During his time in charge, there was a copper fueled economic boom; Mobutu took this opportunity to spend great sums of money constantly. He had eleven palaces erected, made his friends instant millionaires, and put up numerous monuments. Following this growth-spurt of power Mobutu launched the African “authenticity” program in which all Christian names were to be replaced with African ones. Christmas was also outlawed, as was dissent, and Mobutu had his own image displayed within the church. Westernized clothing was banned, and to top it all off, he cut national ties with Asians, Belgians and others.
After copper prices once again fell, there was severe economic downturn; Mobutu had to invite the Belgians back after having driven them out. High price inflation and great debt plagued Zaire. Public transportation systems failed and broke down without repair, and even hospitals were barren of the most basic medical supplies such as bandages and oxygen.
The result of anti-capitalistic government practices were devastating to say the least throughout various African economies.

2.) What are some of the major arguments advanced by the Public Choice school of economics?

One major argument advanced by the Public Choice school of economics is that individuals are self interested and motivated, regardless of whether or not they are government officials.
Another argument that Public Choice raises concludes that when one acts in the market, they receive the benefits or suffer the consequences. This is not the case for (voting or) government officials because they receive no feedback as they would in the free market system. Considering the fact that bureaucrats face no feedback, they face no consequences either.

3.) What are front-loading and political engineering?

Front-loading is a practice of political scheduling that shifts momentum towards a particular candidate before the general (final) election. In military terms however, it is simply an over-promising and underpricing (weasel) system to get what they want. To counteract front-loading, rather than rejecting an item that costs astounding amounts of money (which had originally been low-balled in the price pitch), political engineering is then utilized. Political engineering is when the cost of an item (or items) is spread out between as many districts as possible; this creates a domino effect and no one congressmen will (or can) pull the plug on it due to the fact that so many other districts back it.

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