Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Curley Effect

I found this paper about how politicians attempt to shape the electorate by Edward Glaeser and Andrei Shleifer of Harvard. The name of their effect comes from James Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston and politician on the Boston scene for the first half of the 20th century. However, a more recent reference is Detroit Mayor Coleman Young.

The Curley effect essentially is the act of politicians implementing long-term destructive policies in order to shape the electorate to ensure re-election. In the case of Coleman Young, who barely won his first election as mayor of Detroit, he deliberately raised taxes and let services (especially police) whither in order to drive more whites to the suburbs and improve his chances of re-election.

This paper is the first time I've read a scholarly discussion on this phenomenon. I think it is really relevant with this administration. They are hell bent on implementing policies that are disastrous long-term for the U.S. However, the Democrats seem to believe that if they can create a large enough class of people dependent on the government for their basic needs that they will ensure a permanent majority.