The political economy of American independence

by on July 4, 2017 at 2:12 am in Economics, History, Law, Political Science | Permalink

Here is a new revision of a paper by Sebastian Galiani and Gustavo Torrens:

Why did the most prosperous colonies in the British Empire mount a rebellion? Even more puzzling, why didn’t the British agree to have American representation in Parliament and quickly settle the dispute peacefully? At first glance, it would appear that a deal could have been reached to share the costs of the global public goods provided by the Empire in exchange for political power and representation for the colonies. (At least, this was the view of men of the time such as Lord Chapman, Thomas Pownall and Adam Smith). We argue, however, that the incumbent government in Great Britain, controlled by the landed gentry, feared that allowing Americans to be represented in Parliament would undermine the position of the dominant coalition, strengthen the incipient democratic movement, and intensify social pressures for the reform of a political system based on land ownership. Since American elites could not credibly commit to refuse to form a coalition with the British opposition, the only realistic options were to maintain the original colonial status or fight a full-scale war of independence.

Happy Fourth of July!

p.s. they are not going to make Puerto Rico a state either.

1 Brett July 4, 2017 at 2:27 am

It would be interesting to see it put to the question, though, if the Puerto Ricans were to vote strongly in a referendum for statehood. My guess is that the Republicans would try to delay it forever, and Democrats would then admit it once they get back into power.

2 GW July 4, 2017 at 6:04 am

On June 11th, 2017, a referendum was held and 97% of those voting chose statehood. (Turnout was only 23%, in large part due to a boycott by pro-status quo voters.)

This was the fifth referendum since 1967. Continued Commonwealth status won the first two, “none of the above” the third, and statehood has now decisively won the past two (2012 (with separate votes in favors of a change of status and for statehood as a preferred new status) and 2017.)

Both major US parties have had platforms consistently supporting self-determination, with the Republican platform expressly mentioning statehood. In real politics, however, a Republican President and Congress is unlikely to fulfill this promise.

3 Jason Bayz July 4, 2017 at 9:46 am

“statehood has now decisively won the past two (2012 (with separate votes in favors of a change of status and for statehood as a preferred new status)”

No, it did not “decisively win” the past two. In 2012, only a minority of voters (46%) voted for statehood when you count the blank votes on the question which did not include an option to vote for the current status. But you knew that, and that’s why the question was set up the way it was, because the pro-statehood side cannot win a fair vote.

4 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 10:13 am

The other aspect of ‘self-determination’ is whether or not those of us on the mainland want Puerto Rico as a permanent and integral fixture of these United States. The answer should be ‘no’.

The thing is, Puerto Rico has benefited in the past from it’s dependency status, but the relationship has long since descended into pathology. It’s a fairly affluent territory compared to the rest of Latin America, but it has some very disturbing social metrics. Employment-to-population ratios are just about the lowest in the occidental world (0.35; about normal is 0.60). The territory is wretchedly crime-ridden – as bad as Brazil and worse than most of the hispanophone states in Latin America. Its educational system is a wreck and ordinary fiscal planning and disbursement tracking appears to defeat them.

5 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 11:12 am

US employment methods do not count informal economic activity as “employment”.

This probably explains most of the gap.

6 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 12:23 pm

This probably explains most of the gap.

Only in your addled head. There employment-to-population ratio compares unfavorably to Mexico’s as well. There is one set of countries which resemble Puerto Rico: the states of the Persian Gulf. That’s not because their indigenes have a thriving informal economy.

7 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Among other things, US definitions would exclude most of the self employed (aka entrepreneurs).

8 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Among other things, US definitions would exclude most of the self employed (aka entrepreneurs).

They don’t.

9 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 9:05 pm

That’s precisely my point.

10 Thiago Ribeiro July 4, 2017 at 11:26 am

“The territory is wretchedly crime-ridden – as bad as Brazil and worse than most of the hispanophone states in Latin America.”
It is not true, Brazil is not wretchedly crime-ridden by any rational measure. Brazil’s living standards, like life expectancy, have grown almost without interruption. Suffices to say, many foreigners,Venezuelans for example, croos the Brazilian border seeking refugee status.

11 Steve Sailer July 4, 2017 at 2:42 am

The American colonists were likely to cause Westminster no end of trouble, both with Indian tribes in North America and with the balance of power back home in Europe. The Americans tended to be talented, aggressive, and confident that whatever trouble they stirred up for Europe would work out to their benefit in America.

In 1754, a 23-year-old American named George Washington had helped plunge Britain into the Seven Years War by getting into a firefight with the French near present day Pittsburgh. By 1760, the most famous American, Ben Franklin, was already explaining that whichever power ruled the American Midwest would dominate the world in the 20th Century.

Americans expected the British Empire to rule the world, but they expected their descendants to rule the British Empire. The Americans would have been to the British Empire what the British were to the Concert of Europe: the offshore islanders who use their geographically privileged position to stir up trouble.

As it turned out, the Americans instead brought down their new friends in the French monarchy.

12 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 9:53 am

In 1754, a 23-year-old American named George Washington had helped plunge Britain into the Seven Years War by getting into a firefight with the French near present day Pittsburgh. By 1760, the most famous American, Ben Franklin, was already explaining that whichever power ruled the American Midwest would dominate the world in the 20th Century.

1. Franklin wasn’t explaining anything. He was speculating. Some speculations turn out to be correct, most do not.

2. The 18th century was a time of dry balance-of-power politics and almost stylized warfare conducted by military professionals. The Seven Years War wasn’t some accident set off by a colonial planter / surveyor.(See the seizure of Madras a decade earlier for a real provocation).

13 Steve Sailer July 5, 2017 at 4:15 am

Franklin’s speculations tended to turn out right in the long run more than most everybody else’s in history.

14 Kris July 4, 2017 at 10:50 am

Americans expected the British Empire to rule the world, but they expected their descendants to rule the British Empire.

This is nonsense of the highest level. In 1754, the British had hardly any “worldwide possessions” except for the East Coast of North America. They were a middling European power, and as a colonial power were about equal with France and decidedly inferior to the Iberians. The British possessed nothing in India at this time other than a handful of coastal trading posts. Even by the time of the American Revolution, the British had very few possessions in India, and their future paramountcy was far from assured.

But I suppose, according to you, HBD had already kicked in by that time, so the worldwide British Empire was predestined, eh?

15 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 12:25 pm

They were a middling European power,

No, they were a Great Power, the equal of France, Prussia, the Hapsburgs, and Russia (and a cut above Spain).

16 Kris July 4, 2017 at 2:14 pm

In 1754, Prussia was considered an upstart country and a nuisance, though I suppose European rulers had grudging respect for Frederick The Great. In the course of the Seven Years War, the Russians would occupy Berlin, among various setbacks to befall the Prussian state. If one or two more battles had gone wrong, the state would have been crushed and reabsorbed into the amorphous clutches of the Holy Roman Empire.

Now, stepping back a bit. Britain was indeed as great a power as Prussia and the others you talk about. Which didn’t mean much back in the day. European powers were indisputably the strongest only in naval power. The British were less tan a 3rd rate power in India at the time, and their subsequent conquests occurred more through trickery and strategic alliances, not to mention the shortsightedness of their rivals in the subcontinent, rather than through military prowess. China was likewise a great power that imploded slowly through the course of the 19th century, letting the British take more and more advantage of it. Japan had the benefit of better rulers, and therefore was never conquered by the West.

To sum up, I stand by my original assertions.

17 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Now, stepping back a bit. Britain was indeed as great a power as Prussia and the others you talk about. Which didn’t mean much back in the day.

You’ve conjured in your own mind some set of great powers that no one’s ever heard of dismissive of the actual powers of the day. Pretty silly.

18 Steve Sailer July 5, 2017 at 4:20 am

Franklin’s views in the early 1750s were anti-Invade the World / Invite the World. By 1760, after the triumphs of the French and Indian War, he rather sounded like Bill Kristol or Max Boot when it came to Global Domination.

19 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 11:18 am

In the “rule the world” sort of question, it may be worth recalling that nearly as many countries are members of Francophonie as the British Commonwealth.

For “the sun never sets on the British Empire”, keep in mind that technically this could be accomplished with just some handful of islands in addition to the Britain itself. (I.e., while clearly they were the predominant power for a very long time, such expressions significantly exaggerate the relevance. China, for example, could not project power internationally at that time, but European powers never held more than a handful of port locations on the coast.)

20 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm

nearly as many countries are members of Francophonie

Most of the countries on their membership list have no indigenous francophone population nor were they ever French dependencies (or Belgian dependencies). (They evidently have problem diplomats who have to be put on ice in useless sinecures). Another quarter are dirt poor. Several others are dependent territories or mini-states with six-digit (or five digit) populations. If you’re talking some place at least mildly prosperous and with a population exceeding that of greater Winnipeg, you’re talking of France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, Lebanon, and VietNam (if you want to be very generous).

21 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

(Reminders on why Americans are so popular around the world …)

22 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 5:53 pm

What, you say silly things and are cheesed when people point that out. Why not establish efficient processes and say non-silly things?

23 Mr. Econotarian July 5, 2017 at 2:09 am

Largest French-speaking cities:

1) Paris, France – 12,161,542 people
2) Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – 9,046,000 people
3) Abidjan, Ivory Coast – 7,108,647 people
4) Montreal, Canada – 3,824,221 people
5) Port-au-Prince, Haiti – 2,470,762 people
6) Dakar, Senegal – 2,452,656 people
7) Douala, Cameroon – 2,446,945 people
8) Yaoundé, Cameroon – 2,440,462 people
9) Lyon, France – 2,118,132 people
10) Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo – 1,786,397 people

24 Art Deco July 5, 2017 at 11:57 am

There is an educated minority in Kinshasa who speak French as a 2d language. The primary languages would be Kongo and Lingala. Same deal in the other African cities. Some Haitians speak standard French. For the most part, a creole is spoken.

25 Steve Sailer July 5, 2017 at 4:25 am

The question of whether English or French or German would be the dominant language of the 21st Century was settled in the 1940s, largely due to which language dominated the New World. As one observer noted on June 4, 1940:

we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

26 Art Deco July 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

There is no Germanophone diaspora and Germany had only modest investments in overseas dependencies (which it could not hold on to during the 1st World War). Unlike French, German is a language with no aesthetic appeal whatsoever.

France never produced many colonists. French has lost the position it once had in Europe but is more prevalent abroad due to the advance of literacy in Africa and due to the utility of a lingua franca given the vast number of low-census local tongues in Africa.

27 OneEyedMan July 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Almost 50 million Americans are of German decent.

28 Nick July 4, 2017 at 2:46 am

“Why did the most prosperous colonies in the British Empire mount a rebellion?”

Why did the Civil Rights movement occur in the 1960s, *after* significant economic growth and broad-based prosperity in the US? Perhaps you need to get above a certain subsistence level to worry about more complicated things like proper political representation?

Didn’t 1984 predict this? A proper controlling totalitarian government will generate not surplus but poverty for its subjects, to keep people’s minds occupied by constant shortage and not leave them time to think of rebellion.

“Even more puzzling, why didn’t the British agree to have American representation in Parliament and quickly settle the dispute peacefully?”

I think they underestimate cognitive dissonance strategies– it’s much easier to subjugate people if you convince yourself that they actually aren’t people– if you legitimately don’t believe ‘colonists’ and ‘natives’ are equally human and deserving of equal representation. This applies to all sorts of things– it’s easier to lie if you believe the lie yourself.

29 prior_test_is_an_idiot July 4, 2017 at 5:32 am

Yes, that’s right, the British government thought that its settlers were subhuman. That’s the obvious explanation here.

30 Nick July 4, 2017 at 11:53 pm

@prior_test

Well, White settlers were just malcontents from their society; it was the natives who were *really* subhuman. See also: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/29/134956180/criminals-see-their-victims-as-less-than-human

“During the Holocaust, Nazis referred to Jews as rats. Hutus involved in the Rwanda genocide called Tutsis cockroaches. Slave owners throughout history considered slaves subhuman animals. In Less Than Human, David Livingstone Smith argues that it’s important to define and describe dehumanization, because it’s what opens the door for cruelty and genocide.

Human beings have long conceived of the universe as a hierarchy of value, says Smith, with God at the top and inert matter at the bottom, and everything else in between. That model of the universe “doesn’t make scientific sense,” says Smith, but “nonetheless, for some reason, we continue to conceive of the universe in that fashion, and we relegate nonhuman creatures to a lower position” on the scale.

Then, within the human category, there has historically been a hierarchy. In the 18th century, white Europeans — the architects of the theory — “modestly placed themselves at the very pinnacle.” The lower edges of the category merged with the apes, according to their thinking.

So “sub-Saharan Africans and Native Americans were denizens of the bottom of the human category,” when they were even granted human status. Mostly, they were seen as “soulless animals.” And that dramatic dehumanization made it possible for great atrocities to take place.”

Now, obviously I’m not discounting economic/financial motives, but I think academia tends to forget that at a really basic level people were not thought of as all being equals for most of history, especially during the time of colonization and imperialism. And I would further argue that precisely because it’s difficult to *quantify* this kind of thing that researchers tend to overlook this kind of thing. In other words, it’s an example of a persistent bias in academia: if an explanation can’t be easily quantified and have papers written about it, it gets undervalued as an explanatory factor.

31 Kris July 4, 2017 at 10:55 am

Disrespect is the root of every conflict.

32 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 11:20 am

Similar logic drives the belief that China will become increasingly democratic as the size of its upper middle class (and above) grows.

The 1% may prefer freedom of the 99% in order to ensure their freedoms (and various practical balances) with respect to those who have by whatever means become positioned in the 0.0001%.

33 JCC July 4, 2017 at 3:39 am

Because when people feel abused, at some point, they rebel. It can take years of even decades but when desperation meets optimism people rage against the system to design or highly influence the design of a new system, too bad must revolutions fail or have difficult first years.

34 JCC July 4, 2017 at 3:40 am

P.S.: What do you think about Jay Z “4:44”?

35 Lurker July 4, 2017 at 4:14 am

Who is Jay Z?

36 Tyler Cowen July 4, 2017 at 4:16 am

Don’t have it yet! I want a physical copy I can buy.

37 Steve Sailer July 4, 2017 at 4:23 am

Is Jay-Z, like John Cage in “4:33,” silent for 4:44? That sounds worth paying for.

38 Josh July 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

I thought cage’s track couldn’t be topped, but it sound like jay-z may have beaten him by a full eleven seconds!

39 Massimo July 4, 2017 at 4:49 am

I am not an American, but I think it’s pretty straightforward. All the the noise abput no taxation without representation was just bullshit. Americans did not need the U.K. after the war with the French, so, it was the logical decision. Vote with your feet, and keep the house also. Is there a more beautiful deal? It is not, absolutely, a critique to the US (as it was possible to critizice a phantom entity, instead of single human beings…), any normal home sapient would have made the same decision. Why to pay a protection agency, when there are not potential enemies anymore?

40 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 9:56 am

any normal home sapient would have made the same decision.

I gather you fancy the Canadian segment of British North America was populated with non-normal ‘home sapients’..

41 Massimo July 4, 2017 at 9:48 pm

I posted this already twice, I hope this time it will appear.

Sorry for my spellchecker actions, I will talk seriously with it. By the way, congratulations for your knowledge of the third declination, that my spell checker obviously does not dominate.

Regarding Canada I would go for the official history, even blind squirrels hit a nut once in a while. ‘Les canadiennes” did not have “les bostonnais” in high esteem, it makes sense that they wanted to keep the protection agency of the British against their hyperkinetic southern neighbors, especially after the Quebec Act. And the anglos were only a minority in Quebec. Regarding StJohn and Nova scotia, I have no idea. I guess they were too few, isolated, far away and poor to be of interest to the Continental Congress.

42 The CM General July 4, 2017 at 5:16 am

On this 4th of July think of all the Cuckservatives many of whom post on this blog who would want to destroy our beautiful nation.

43 aMichael July 4, 2017 at 10:03 am

Nah… Instead, I’ll think about how a small group of elitist politicians (the real cuckservatives of their day) used the aftermath of the revolution to secretly plot a scheme that would create a much stronger national government that they and their offspring would rule over.

Happy 4th!

44 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm

that they and their offspring would rule over.

List the descendants of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Pinckney, Benj. Franklin, James Wilson, and Gouvernour Morris occupying public office today.

45 aMichael July 4, 2017 at 5:17 pm

John Adams? As in the second president and father of the sixth?! I rest my case. And though George Washington didn’t have any biological kids, he had to settle with holding the most powerful office in this new government he helped create. Sad!

In all honesty, though, I’m just trolling the cuck-obsessed. I’m generally quite impressed with the founders and the system of government they were able to forge.

46 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 5:54 pm

John Adams? As in the second president and father of the sixth?! I rest my case.

You rest by completely avoiding an answer.

47 Thiago Ribeiro July 4, 2017 at 7:08 am

It has been proved that the so-called American Revolution was a lie, an insidious ploy of malefactors of great wealth to betray and explore the common man.
https://www.garynorth.com/public/16833.cfm

48 rayward July 4, 2017 at 7:29 am

To emphasize the Revolutionary War on the Fourth of July is common but misses what it takes to maintain liberty, namely order and stability. The Founders learned very quickly that liberty is fragile, that order and stability are always at risk, and convened in Philadelphia to adopt a conservative document, the Constitution, to preserve order and stability and, thus, liberty. Starting a war is easy; maintaining the peace is damn difficult. The Founders knew that if order and stability are lost, so too will liberty be lost. Peter Wehner’s NYT’s column today is a reminder. Here is his concluding sentence: “It is an irony of American history that the Republican Party, which has historically valued order and institutions, has become the conduit of chaos.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/04/opinion/trump-declaration-of-disruption.html

49 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 10:04 am

Starting a war is easy; maintaining the peace is damn difficult.

Does anyone in meatworld ever tell you to just quit talking rot? Since 1607, we’ve been in a state of general mobilization less than 10% of the time. The logistics of such enterprises (which required commandeering 1/3 of our productive capacity during the years running from 1940 to 1946) is not an ‘easy’ enterprise.

Intramural insurrections since 1607 have concerned aboriginals remote from where the bulk of the population was living and otherwise limited to two periods summing to 12 years out of a history of more than 400 years. I suppose you could include the riots of 1964-71, but that era was notable for law enforcement refraining from their ordinary tasks under the direction of idiot politicians like Jerome Cavanaugh.

50 The Engineer July 4, 2017 at 10:31 am

Exhibit A: The French Revolution.

51 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 10:36 am

Exhibit of what?

52 The Scientist July 4, 2017 at 11:43 am

A

53 Sure July 4, 2017 at 9:12 am

I think a more telling question is why did the British not cut such a deal with Canada? After all the Canadians were much more heavily Tory than the Americans, they had extremely large loyalist populations, and by ’37 there were a myriad of examples of colonies tossing out the imperial rulers. Yet Responsible Government was the order of the day.

I suspect that the actual reasoning is much why Lincoln’s election drove the South to rise at that moment. Ending slavery in the territories would not have changed matters in the South itself for slavery, but it would have created a progressive growth of abolitionist representatives and senators that would erode the South’s political power. I suspect that the British saw the 2.5 million Americans with their vastly larger growth rate (as noted by Franklin at the time) as a growing threat if they caved on sharing power (Britain’s population being around 6.5 million). Bringing Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson into the British aristocracy would undoubtedly have upset the balance of power in Great Britain, however I suspect the bigger issue would be the continued decline of the British aristocracy as an ever expanding frontier and population would decrease the proportion of British nobles vastly more than the initial wave Smith had in mind.

This is part of why I think Trump and company are going to be political forces for some time. Throughout much of the west people are seeing the political power of “folks like them” diminished and whatever promises are made about how demographic change will not change national character and structures will not be viewed as credible. Throughout history wars have been fought and empires partitioned rather than having one party or class accede to a slow diminishment of power, why should we expect the modern era to be any different?

54 JonFraz July 5, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Re: This is part of why I think Trump and company are going to be political forces for some time.

And yet you just got done citing two historical examples where people who sought to retain tight control and prevent change failed quite decisively. Evolutionary biology provides us with a more successful strategy when facing changing circumstances: Adapt

55 CorvusB July 4, 2017 at 9:16 am

Tuchman already covered this topic, quite thoroughly. I see nothing new here. (Except the OT comment re PR)

56 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 10:24 am

Tucker and Hendrickson had a thesis as well, though I think they were criticized for over-emphasizing the logic of the positions advanced by various parties and not truly answering why rebellion came to be an attractive option for the colonists.

If I’m recalling colonial-era political writings, vociferous colonists conceived of the colonial assemblies as co-equal with Parliament, with the King as the common feature.

The actual content of the disputes reminds you that the past is another country, and borders are pretty much closed. The social order in the colonies bore scant resemblance to that of any occidental country of note, but that doesn’t tell you why that would be motivating for the colonists themselves given the risk and sacrifice involved.

57 chuck martel July 4, 2017 at 9:19 am

The colonists were British subjects and their rebellion was an act of treason and worse. A significant portion of the population, many of whom were aboriginals, had no desire to terminate the relationship with the UK but their wishes were dismissed by the rebels. Of course, 85 years later the shoe was on the other foot and rebellion, or more accurately secession, was met with devastating force. The deified founders, proponents of Enlightenment era faddish thinking that bears no resemblance to the current national philosophy, had a concept of freedom that is no longer accepted.

58 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 9:38 am

One more piece of evidence, in case you needed one, which indicates that there are economists who are bored with their own subject and engaged in reductionist exercises raiding other disciplines with tools not suited to the work of those other disciplines. Maybe it’s a cry for help directed at the provost of the institutions in question: freeze our budgets and don’t let us hire anymore people.

59 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 11:29 am

I think it is well accepted that multidisciplinary works are to be encouraged, regardless of the higher probability of saying things that may ruffle feathers in respective other areas of specialization.

Among other things, this would enable people in those other specializations to obtain perspective of what other types of experts might have to say that can inform the perspectives, and more importantly methodologies, in other fields.

60 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 12:28 pm

I think it is well accepted that multidisciplinary works are to be encouraged, r

By people whose career interests and public postures would be advanced by such rot.

61 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Can you cite successful companies which use your logic of non-mixing of specializations?

62 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Just about any medical practice in America.

63 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 9:09 pm

OK. So highly specialized firms that explicitly do nothing other than their area of high specialization would be an example of non-mixing of specializations.

Do you think corporate America should be run like a specialist medical practice?

64 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 9:45 am

p.s. they are not going to make Puerto Rico a state either.

The two most prominent advocates of statehood on the mainland have been George Bush the Elder and Gerald Ford. Chamber of Commerce Republicans are not particularly likely to gain allies from allocating six seats in Congress to Puerto Rico (mainland Puerto Ricans being dyed-in-the-melt Democrats and the island itself having high rates of welfare dependency). So why did they do it? (Don’t try to sell the idea that sperg-nerd economists have some special insight into the concealed motives of politicians).

65 Make Canada Great Again July 4, 2017 at 9:54 am

The Appalachians are high and the King is far away. Might as well declare independence and take control of the wealthiest place on earth, optimize the archaic British system, and consolidate free government. And no more need to go abroad in search of foreign monsters to destroy.

66 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 10:27 am

the wealthiest place on earth,

See the work of Angus Maddison. It was not until the 1st World War that the standard of living in the United States pulled even with that of Britain and was not until the 2d that we securely surpassed them. The U.S. was an affluent country in the early 19th century, but there were about a half-dozen places better off, among them Britain, the Netherlands, and northern Italy.

67 aMichael July 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

Same as it ever was…. Those in power make decisions based on what they think will help them stay in power in the short term. That’s how we ended up with the secret ballot in the US. That’s why women got the vote. I think this played less of a role in the constitutional convention, but it’s still there.

68 Troll Me July 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

It is reasonable to assume pressures in that direction, but not that it is necessarily the whole picture in any given situation.

69 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Those in power make decisions based on what they think will help them stay in power in the short term.

I suspect if you were carefully questioned, your conclusion could be discovered in your premises.

70 lbc July 4, 2017 at 10:11 am

because the british sucked at the time and still suck today

71 Art Deco July 4, 2017 at 10:32 am

The disposition and attitudes of their chatterati and a fat slice of their professional-managerial bourgeoisie are disgusting and insufferable. Their drinking habits, cuisine, and dental care leave something to be desired. Otherwise, they’re pretty neat.

72 Beefcake the Mighty July 4, 2017 at 10:07 pm

This thread has turned into the Art Deco cuck-fest.

73 Mr. Econotarian July 5, 2017 at 2:48 am

There were clearly concerns by the British that if they lost the 13 colonies of the United States, they would lose their colonies in Canada and the West Indies next. Or worse, the Kingdom of Great Britain itself could fall apart (as it almost did recently!) with Scotland, Wales, etc. And indeed, in 1782 Britain did lose tight control of Ireland.

74 B.B. July 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

What strikes me about the paper is that there is Coase Theorem operating. Was there no set of bargains that could have avoided a very expensive war?

It may be that sometimes, the Edgeworth Box is empty. That is why wars happen, in a nutshell.

75 JonFraz July 5, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Re: why didn’t the British agree to have American representation in Parliament and quickly settle the dispute peacefully?

It’s not clear how practical this would have been given the communications and travel times involved. Any such American representatives would have been far more isolated from their constituents than any British MP would have been. They would have had to take up more or less permanent residence in Britain, at least until they retired from Parliament, with no ability to return home during recesses.

The colonies floated a plan whereby they would remain British subjects under the King, but Parliament would have no jurisdiction over them; instead the legislative function would be provided by the various colonial legislatures. For the British this was entirely too much independence.

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