Is US becoming a banana republic?

Scott Sumner has an interesting piece titled as Banana Republic watch:

How do you know when your country is becoming a banana republic?  Let’s call our imaginary banana republic “Costaguava”.

1.  Voter do not judge foreign leaders on the basis of whether they are mass murderers, but rather on how they get along with the leader of Costaguava

2.  When political parties lose an election in Costaguava, they try to change the rules to invalidate the will of the voters:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Amid a tense and dramatic backdrop of outrage and frustration, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature on Friday approved a sweeping package of restrictions on the power of the governor’s office in advance of the swearing in of the Democratic governor-elect, Roy Cooper.

Protesters spent a second day chanting and disrupting debate, as some were arrested and led away from the state legislative building in plastic wrist restraints.

3.  In Costaguava, it’s difficult to discern the line between the leader’s official duties, and the ruling family’s far-flung business empire:

4.  It’s hard to draw the line between real news and fake news in Costaguava.

Part 2:  Trust the process.

Lots of people totally miss the elephant in the room, debating minor issues like whether Russia hacked the election.  Trump said the CIA’s claim was ridiculous, but could offer no reason other than that, if true, it would make Trump’s win look less impressive. The problem with Trump’s claim has nothing at all to do with whether Trump is right or wrong, rather it reflects a deep flaw in his thinking process.  Indeed Trump would be equally culpable for his remarks even if it turned out the CIA had been mistaken.

The problem here is that if you degenerate into a banana republic, decision-making will suffer, and eventually there will be a price to pay in terms of policy screw-ups.  For a time, you might get lucky with economic policy, as when Pinochet stumbled into the Chicago Boys.  But that’s a weak reed to lean on.  In the long run, well-governed countries will do well, and banana republics will do poorly.  Chile graduated from banana republic status in 1989. Venezuela never did.  The US seems to be falling back into that category today.

PS.  I just saw this item:

Earlier Saturday, he announced the nomination of South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney to head the Office of Management and Budget, choosing a tea partyer and fiscal conservative with no experience assembling a government spending plan.

No experience?  Isn’t that unpresidented?  What could go wrong?



4 Responses to “Is US becoming a banana republic?”

  1. Billu Says:

    Commenting from inverse:
    -> What’s experience gotta do with running a country/state/gang/nation? One could go on and on about capable .. great leaders who were teenagers when they took the reins.

    -> “In the long run, well-governed countries will do well.” Define “well-governed”. If you mean democratic, then India has been democratic for its independent history bar 2 years, and yet SE Asia & others are far richer (though undemocratic for many years).

    -> Somehow Democrats want to drive home the point that e-mail leaks swayed the voters against Hillary. How about her plank and her personality?

    -> As for Costaguava, what country are you describing, seems like INDIA!

    • Amol Agrawal Says:

      Hi Billu. Well, great points. I agree experience does not have much of a role. What was of interest to me is econs in US thinking the country is becmign a banana republic. On India linkage, what can one say? 🙂

      • VM Says:

        The econs are all biased towards democrats so one can’t take them seriously. They also all predicted a collapse in markets if Trump won. They also missed the housing crisis, etc. In fact going by their record, it would be sage to assume the opposite. The tea partiers may not be good economists but they are good republicans (and I don’t just mean the party but the idea of a republic) so it is odd to imagine the exact opposite that they would lead to a banana republic.

  2. VM Says:

    1) When its the clintons and the saudis no democrat raises concerns. When its Trump and Russia, suddenly its a crisis.
    2) When Dems lost they started questioning the electoral college, started a petition to make electors deviate from their mandate. Obama called it a vestige of the past. Who’s the one who is questioning the republic?
    3) Trump hasn’t even started governing, and he has said he will separate his business from his governance. On the other hand Clinton Foundation took money from various govts while Clinton was Secretary of State and is now under investigation. Huh?

    On experience, Obama was inexperienced. His resume consisted of him being a community organizer. Remember the republican sneers about that? It didn’t seem to matter to the Dems then.

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