18 April 2012

Sick parade #nlpoli

When you are home with a cold, there’s not much to do besides doze and read.

And when you are a political nerd at home with a cold, what better prezzie could there be than the papers presented at the Midwest Political Science Association?   Not much, is the answer, except the Monkey Cage, which offered up the links to the MPSA and a bunch of other gems.

Here’s one from the Monkey Cage to hold you until the old e-scribbler brain is de-fuzied.

The Oil CurseNew book. Along with oil goes less democracy and economic instability.  Who knew?

There are four qualities of oil revenue, according to Michael Ross that make them so attractive to governments.  Your humble e-scribbler broke them out from Erik’s =post to make them easier to read quickly:

  1. “The first is just the sheer scale of oil revenues. Government budgets tend to rise exponentially with oil discoveries. Increased revenues by themselves are not necessarily problematic but the source of the revenue also matters.”
  2. Taxes versus oil royalties:  “If governments are funded by taxes, they become more constrained by their own populace than when they are funded by non-tax revenues (see here a more generalizable version of that argument from Kevin Morrison).”
  3. “Third, oil revenues are very volatile compared to tax revenues. Most countries have little control over the world oil price, which falls and rises quite dramatically. They have some control over new oil discoveries but luck also plays a major role. Volatile revenues make for volatile politics, although some mature oil rich states (like Norway or the UAE) have managed to find ways to cope with this.”
  4. “Fourth, oil revenues are secretive and relatively easy to hide. This facilitates corruption and hinders accountability.”

On that last one it was interesting to watch the evening news the past couple of days.  People are talking about home care and crumbling infrastructure.  No one mentioned the $4.0 billion in cash the provincial government is sitting on. 

Now they haven’t hid it completely.  The number is in the budget and other documents. It’s just hidden in plain site, so to speak.

Oh and it is going to pay for Muskrat Falls, in case you missed that little point.  Muskrat Falls becomes – in effect – a giant tax on the public, incidentally, but that’s another issue.  If no one “authoritative” speaks about it and no one in the media reports it, then it doesn’t really exist.  Come to think of it, that point is in among the conference papers somewhere.

Anyway, ask Kathy, Dwight and Lorraine about The Cash sometime. 

See what the Muskrat backers say.

- srbp -