What Happened to all the German Kings when Germany Unified?

Mandela’s legacy: 25 years on | The Economist

To put it another way, how crap left wing parties perform at ballot box in Europe

Escape from the GDR

John Cleese’s Monty Python Picks (2015) Compilation

11 November 1918 was a busy day in Berlin

A Schumpeterian explanation of the recent rejection of the centre-left in Europe

Kiwiblog put me onto the story in the Guardian about how only one third of Europe’s population is governed by the centre-left and the left is lost all but one of the last 13 elections in Europe. The exception was Greece, which they may regret.

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Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Malta, Slovakia and Sweden are the only EU members that are on the centre-left. In 2011, only 14.5% of the 28 countries’ total population was led by the centre-left. In 2007, it was nearly 45%.

The reason for the shift to the right can be explained by Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of democracy. Schumpeter disputed the widely held view that democracy was a process by which the electorate identified the common good, and that politicians carried this out:

  • The people’s ignorance and superficiality meant that they were manipulated by politicians who set the agenda.
  • Although periodic votes legitimise governments and keep them accountable, their policy programmes are very much seen as their own and not that of the people, and the participatory role for individuals is limited.

Schumpeter’s theory of democratic participation is that voters have the ability to replace political leaders through periodic elections.

Citizens do have sufficient knowledge and sophistication to vote out leaders who are performing poorly or contrary to their wishes. The power of the electorate to turn elected officials out of office at the next election gives elected officials an incentive to adopt policies that do not outrage public opinion and administer the policies with some minimum honesty and competence.

Power rotates in the Schumpeterian sense. Governments were voted out when they disappointed voters with the replacement not necessarily having very different policies. Greece is the exception to this.

Social change in America

Another example of the speed of preference reversal

This is how fast America changed its mind on the biggest social issues

 

Today, over 1/2 of the world live in democracies

https://twitter.com/MaxCRoser/status/567954959943254016

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Adam Smith on the dangers of virtue

Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.  - Adam Smith

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It took Japan a long time to realize that the 1970s drop in fertility wasn’t temporary

Trends in average marginal tax rates in the USA

The war on drugs: Drug induced mortality rates compared

https://twitter.com/timwig/status/545174679380832258

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