Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Atuahene on Property Rights and Past Theft

Bernadette Atuahene (Chicago-Kent) has posted Things Fall Apart: The Illegitimacy of Property Rights in the Context of Past Theft on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In many states, past property theft is a volatile political issue that threatens to destabilize nascent democracies. How does a state avoid instability when past property theft causes a significant number of people to believe that the property distribution is illegitimate? To explore this question, I first define legitimacy relying on an empirical understanding of the concept. Second, I establish the relationship between inequality, illegitimate property distribution, and instability. Third, I describe the three ways a state can achieve stability when faced with an illegitimate property distribution: by using its coercive powers, by attempting to change people's beliefs about the legitimacy of the property distribution, or by enacting a Legitimacy Enhancing Compensation Program (LECP), which strengthens the average citizen's belief that she ought to comply with the law. Fourth, I develop the concept of a legitimacy disequilibrium, which is a decision-making framework that helps states decide if they should provide compensation to avoid instability. The framework requires states to weigh the cost of compensation against the cost of illegitimacy so I give a detailed description of what these costs entail. To best promote long-term stability, I argue that states should enact a LECP when the cost of illegitimacy outweighs the cost of compensation. Lastly, I outline the process a state should use to weigh the costs and decide whether to provide compensation for past theft to keep things from falling apart.

Ben Barros

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Ah yes...Ms. Atuahene...the poster child for all things classically leftist, liberal and academic. I'm more than positive I'll be seeing her quoted by the socialist pundits on this topic. Among the paranoid generalizations, unfounded conclusions, and outright preposterous inaccuracies she trudges out, is the statement that the elite media have undue influence over what people believe. Fair enough, although hardly earth shattering news. But then she, like so many of her unoriginal-thinking brethren, betray any sense of objectivity (she may not have any, but she could at least fake enough of it for the sake of an academic paper--putting her in rare company these days, since academics in the social sciences don't seem to concerned with objectivity any more) by specifically pointing right at Rupert Murdoch for "...using some of his media outlets to promulgate his conservative views and support Republican political leaders, Murdoch has leveraged his company’s dominance to shape what Americans believe."

I guess CBS, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC, PBS, NPR, The Tribune Co., and the legions of other media outlets don't have a single viewer, listener or reader; that these particular outlets don't have a drop of influence; or if they do, their viewers, listeners, or readers are strangely and unaccountably immune to it.

Gee, what a strange thing.

Who writes this stuff for these people?!

Posted by: Sam Gompers | Sep 11, 2008 6:46:26 AM

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