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Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"Only fools, pure theorists, or apprentices fail to take public opinion into account."

     - Jacques Necker (1792), Finance Minister to Louis XVI


 Photo credit: Flickr user James Sarmiento



Submitted by Miko on
just want to say i enjoyed reading your posts here and glad that a former member of the smokey mountain, is advancing development issues in a global level not anymore through songs.....though i wished you do it through songs still. :)......i memorized smokey mountains songs by heart...."...that i should bid goodbye to my pride and step in to your life with both my palms open wide"......reminds me of some sort of north and south divide.....and more....good luck and keep blogging....

Submitted by Erika Lorenzana Del Villar on
We, Filipinos, will continue the fight. Thank you for inspiring us even in your death, Mrs. President!

Submitted by Charles on
Who are a few modern politicians that most enthuastically adopted Machiavellian thought?

Submitted by VEDiCarlo on
As closely as business and politics are intertwined, I find this quote very useful for the metaphor of family business to sustained governance. While Ostrom focuses her comment on the transition (or lack of transmission) of stable government across generations, I think the "family business" paradigm is also very useful for looking at reasons why good governance can be hard to establish-- too many vested cooks in the proverbial kitchen. With each potentially powerful group or individual seeking to establish themselves as legitimate, the greater purpose of a stable state grows diluted in the political sea of selfishness. Speaking from a more localized perspective, Ostram's analysis provides an interesting commentary on the United States, where it seems like political engagement swings to extremes every several generations, as the draft dodgers gave way to Reaganomics, and the Bush presidency produced the huge influx of 20-something peace-keepers.

Submitted by Dr. Lee Cheek on
Thanks for the perceptive quote from one of the greatest political scientists of the 20th century. For more information on him, see Dr. Lee Cheek

Marty Fishbein, an excellent scholar and great mentor to his students (myself among them), died on Friday, November 27, 2009, while travelling with his wife Debbie in London. He was 73 years old and had an exemplary career in social psychology. He's the author of the influential Theory of Reasoned Action and Theory of Planned Behavior. Both models provide a basis for the behavior change work that we are doing at CommGAP. We know about the role of attitudes and beliefs in changing behavior because of Dr. Fishbein's seminal work. His research also shows us how crucial norms and self-efficacy are for our quest for empowering citizens to hold their governments accountable and creating national cultures of good governance.

Submitted by s masty on
obama's statement of fact misses the problem of global media. example: america's economic problems and legitimate voter concerns make it hard for leaders such as obama to justify the costs of involvement in afghanistan so he stresses how swiftly america may withdraw troops or reduce other support. this is kept vague of course, because he knows that success there will take a decade. afghans hear the same messages although they are intended for domestic american audiences, thanks to the global reach of media nowadays. so taliban audiences become emboldened and more determined to wait for america to withdraw. afghan civil servants, knowing reform and afghan self-sufficiency (in terms of security and economic development) will take a decade at best, hear that america may leave long before the job is done, so they often conclude to steal as much public money as they can to see their children through a coming generation of tyranny at the hands of the taliban. of course this is not so simple, and american spokespeople send conflicting signals on their commitment to remain in afghanistan or to depart swiftly. but the new global reach of media means that leaders can no longer segregate messages and audiences and that can be problematic as never before - although obama is probably right that little can be done about it.

Submitted by Nimfref on
How may we connect networked blogs to world poverty, climate change, corruption and other planet-scale problems? Networked blogs form the potential solution to all these. Reason: bloggers come by millions, and all are connected to all other world-scale networks mentioned in the quote. Ergo, bloggers must lead in fixing the world, primarily by example. How? One way is thru agribusiness modeling in the tropics. By setting up highly profitable agribusinesses, blogging nets can ‘hook’ millions of 3rd World employees into copying the models as a way of augmenting their pitifully small salaries. The profit motive will drive the employee masses into pressuring their government to pass a law that budgets for funding of agribusiness copycats. Since laws are forever, billions of 3rd World funds flow away from corrupt politicians’ hands and into production, job-creation, and reforestation to address global warming, for as long as humans exist. Which means all local poor eventually getting good jobs and earning fortunes in dividends and stock shares. How and where may it start? The Philippines is prime site for modeling, for agribusiness technologies and skills already exist in said country. Here are hundred-hectare examples of what to set up in 18 million hectares of Philippine uplands that are currently 85% denuded of forests: Multi-crop multi-livestock farms with managed forest. Ethanol distilleries with sweet sorghum plantations. Thickly-reforested upland mini-dam hydropower chains. Forest ranches with high-protein forage trees. Forest resorts with breeding facilities for threatened animal species. Crab, shrimp and fish aquaculture with mangrove reforestation. Other agribusinesses as described in Several million bloggers chipping-in $5-up each can set up all such projects one after another. Reward comes in the form of dividends at above-market rates. For instance, according to Brazilian experience, ethanol distilleries profit at an astounding 80% of sales! Ethanol distillation alone can generate endless dividends to investors while majority of mammoth profits get recycled to set up scores more distilleries and sweet sorghum plantations for as long as there are tropical lands available. Add the other projects and we end up with a prime dividend-issuing Bloggers’ Fund that rivals trillion-dollar US funds. Of course all other tropical peoples will desire to copy our Philippine model. Lacking capital, their governments will lobby for 1st World laws that dedicate say 5% of yearly state budget and 5% of 1st World private funds’ over $100 trillion in 'casino money' towards tropical agribusinesses. Agribusiness at such scale absorbs millions of tons of greenhouse gases every second while creating continent-size markets for 1st World industrial production, thereby ending the current recession. The 1st World laws will therefore be passed with little friction. All humanity effectively becomes networked in concerted action towards ending the unimaginable miseries that 3rd World masses suffer every day.

Submitted by Homira Nassery on
I apologize in advance if I offend anyone, but I find this quote, whether tongue in check or not, to be quite offensive. If you've ever lived in a place without democracy you might understand how I feel. As an average voter also, it's an insult to my intelligence. It's like when Dick Cheney was asked by a reporter if the American people ever get to have input into our nation's decisions, and he said, "They do. Every four years.".

Submitted by Anonymous on
I'm curious as to what modern social psychology has found out about how group decision-making: is this quote still an accurate description of what happens?

Submitted by rtiludhiana on
The NGO Ludhiana Welfare Organization (Regd.) motto is welfare of all community in the world. It is necessary that one should know his right & duties toward nation and what are the duties of govt. to public? We have started a NGO LWO the website to create awareness among the citizens to use Right to Information Act to get their work done in the government departments. This Act RTI will bring transperancy and accountability in the bureaucracy.

If you look at what Churchill is saying another way, you might find that he is actually drawing attention to the need to work on creating educated and informed citizens as a fundamental requirement for genuine democratization. It is the view that democracy is not merely about going to the polls every few years. Public opinion is a critical force in governance; but it is a beneficent force only when it is informed public opinion. That is the real intent behind the provocative quote. Don't worry, we are not democracy-skeptics at CommGAP.

Submitted by Upulee Dasanayake on
Sina, I could not agree with you more. While democracy is the best system of governance in existence, an uninformed or less informed voter with very little knowledge of policies and votes along ethnic, racial or religious lines can create great harm to a country and its people. The one-person one-vote system creates tyrannies of majorities in countries with large ethnic and religious majorities limiting or denying rights of minorities. In places where there are no clear ethnic or religious majorities, less informed votes can still create harm by voting in to office candidates with little knowledge of policy, by voting for candidates based on say, their celebrity! Democracy is good when the average voter is informed and committed to the democratic process. So don't be too quick to call Churchill out on his quote, he has a point.

Submitted by Charles Chuka on
If both you, Upulee, and Sina are correct, then one could surmise that in countries devoid of the conditions you discribe democracy may not be the best system of governance - a benevolent dictatorship would be the most desirable - or things are not as clear cut as that.

The point is to keep working to build democracy by strengthening the institutions of democracy -- like civil society, plural and independent media etc -- and, above all, working to deepen citizen competence. At the basis of civic competence is an informed awareness of the the great public issues that a public community has to work through. Ignorant and apathetic citizens weaken democracy, but it is a problem that can be fixed. It does not mean the embrace of despotism. Many thanks for getting engaged!

Though if listening in at that conversation, one could also reach the conclusion that the best system is democracy... because they do really deserve each other. Looking around we do not find many leaders that have results to show for so as to enter into this type of conversations lightly. We did not elect the regulators in the Basel Committee democratically... and perhaps we should have... we might then have avoided the AAA-bomb.

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