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Submitted by Philipp Krause on
This is a very interesting, out of the box idea. The argument that this will benefit a lot of people seems sound, and the fact that such a stop-gap measure isn't exactly following budgeting 101 might well be justified by the benefits. There is also the benefit that this could help the acceptance of otherwise controversial, peace-threatening resource-extraction activities and the companies involved (although some might call it bribery). Having said that, I think the final part of the proposal misunderstands the nature of the resource curse. Citizens don't literally consent to taxes in exchange for public goods, just as Russeau wasn't thinking of the social contract as a piece of paper. At any given point in time, the provision of public goods makes (violent) resistance to taxes less likely. At the same time, governments historically didn't tax more because they felt that more public goods were in order, but because they were deeply, desperately short of money in order to sustain themselves as going concerns. If 10% of resource revenues are distributed, then 90% is still plenty to sustain a limited access order type elite and give it every incentive not to provide more public goods, and certainly not do anything so foolish as to tax the same citizens they just bought off. The nasty effects of the resource curse might be ameliorated by distributing these funds, and $100 plus improved stability is not trivial. But for the governance situation, what matters isn't what the 10% do to the population, it's what the 90% do to the state and the elites it sustains.