Why Nations Fall

“Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, is a brilliant and sometimes breathtaking survey of country-level governance over history and around the world. Professors Acemoglu and Robinson discern a simple pattern – when elites are held in check, typically by effective legal mechanisms, everyone else in society does much better and sustained economic growth becomes possible. But powerful people – kings, barons, industrialists, bankers – work long and hard to relax the constraints on their actions. And when they succeed, the effects are not just redistribution toward themselves but also an undermining of economic growth and often a tearing at the fabric of society


Can anyone seriously argue that the elites are in check?  Maybe a case could be made if there were a single prosecution for bankster fraud in the mortgage mess or the President did not claim the right to murder whomever wherever.  Recall:

…Greece declined because men came to distrust reason and Rome fell because it tried to maintain an exclusively privileged society wherein the rich were enervated and the poor alienated…

-Peter Calvocoressi and Guy Wint in Total War.

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