First published by the Pittsburg Post Gazette
April 8, 2012 5:47 pm
By Michael Cudahy and Jock Gill
If ever there was a moment for Americans to pay attention to the state of their democracy — or what is left of it — that time is now. As this country staggers out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the pathetic response from many political leaders has been coarse and irrational partisan attacks, and legislative gridlock.
Dysfunctional behavior is undermining America’s role as a global leader and is laying the groundwork for crippling institutional failures.
In their new book, “Why Nations Fail,” economists James Robinson from Harvard and Daron Acemoglu from MIT, answer the question with a one-word answer, “Politics.”
What they mean is that prosperous, successful countries succeed because of their ability to develop “inclusive” systems designed to protect and strengthen their entire populations. Nations fail when their institutions become “extractive,” designed to loot wealth for just a few.