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CHAPTER 9: Summary
As we have previously noted, the analytical structure of this book is simple and involves a single theme. We have repeatedly used the two-person matrix metaphor to demonstrate that, by its own logic, majoritarian politics must violate the generality precept. Outcomes tend to be off the diagonal, and only the potential rotation of majority coalitions indirectly legitimizes the whole process. The economic argument for imposing a generality constraint constitutionally is based on predictions about the relative inefficiency of off-diagonal outcomes, as measured both in the orthodox allocative sense of neoclassical economics and in the public-choice, rent-seeking sense of minimizing resource wastage.
We have discussed only briefly (Chapter 6) temporal characteristics of the political setting, despite the obvious fact that, even as stylized, majoritarian rotation requires a time sequence. Implicitly, it is as if we assume an inclusive constituency of long-lived participants, whose effective planning horizons are sufficiently extended to allow for nonbiased expectations concerning membership in successful and unsuccessful political coalitions.
The two-person (or coalition) matrix metaphor is useful in this postulated setting. To the extent that rotation among the off-diagonal positions generates a pattern of outcomes that is deemed to be relatively inefficient, all parties to the collective interaction may be persuaded to agree on a constitutional constraint that requires generality – a constraint that dictates in-period equality in political treatment, at least as an idealized objective. The separate applications discussed in the immediately preceding and following chapters can all be brought within this analytical umbrella.
This chapter departs from the common analytical structure, and the argument is necessarily more complex.
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