Friday, December 29, 2017

Exam results and answer key

If you got a low score, don't worry. The average score was 57%. The purpose of the test was to measure what I need to talk more about. The test implicitly tests for whether or not you have read certain books, and it does this while minimizing the ability of the test taker to guess the correct answer, and without tipping off the taker to which books they need to read.

Here are the correct responses.

1. The nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and winning coalition are the;
the named, the real players, and the rulers.
the ones who can chose, the ones who do chose, and the essentials. <--- Correct
the selected, the selectors, and the winners.
If you have read The Dictator's Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita you would get this one right. The third answer sounds correct until you realize that "the selected" cannot be a valid response.

2. Legislative accumulation is defined as________and occurs because________.
the tendency of law to increase over time, <--- Correct = 10 points
of the collective action problem.
the increase in backlog for legislative committees,
work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.
state growth, <--- Partially Correct = 1 point
of rent seeking.
If your read this blog a lot, or read The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities, by Mancur Olson, you got this answer correct.

3. Negative versus positive liberty consists of;
hate versus love.

harming others versus being protected.

rights to be left alone versus rights to resources. <--- Correct
If you had read Two Concepts of Liberty (pdf), by Isaiah Berlin you would get this one right.

4. Adaptive fictions are;
a type of literary style.

widespread societal beliefs that enable the power structure to reduce security costs. <--- Correct
fictions that facilitate adaptation to natural selection processes.
If you have read much of Mencius Moldbug, or his essay Democracy as Adaptive Fiction, then you got this question correct.

5. The collective action problem is;
related to the difficulty of organizing a labor union.

the greater ability of small groups to coordinate for power in politics. <--- Correct

the tendency of individuals to do actions that while individually rational are collectively destructive.
If you have read The Logic of Collective Action (pdf), Mancur Olson, then you got this right. Really any public choice theory would have gotten you there.

6. True or False? "a government can solve its way into crisis."
Because government solutions can create problems, and because those problems can be worse than the solutions, government may indeed make society worse by solving problems. Venezuela is an obvious example of people in power generating crisis by thinking they are solving problems. If you got this question wrong it is because you were too nitpicky about language, or you failed to read The Rise and Decline of Nations: Economic Growth, Stagflation, and Social Rigidities, by Mancur Olson.

7. Anarcho capitalism is;
an impossible system of government.

a functioning system of order. <--- Correct
What is anarcho capitalism?

If you have read Legal Systems Very Different than Ours, by David D. Friedman, you got this question correct.

Originally, the answers were were phrased as follows;
a delusional pipe dream.

a workable system of government. <--- Correct
What is anarcho capitalism? 

A test taker objected to this phraseology, claiming that it was biased. I can understand how it would seem biased, but consider that I was testing your bias. Anarcho capitalism exists right now in Somalia, and has existed in the past in Medieval Iceland. Can something that exists be a "delusional pipe dream"? It also works as a system of government, even though it is not technically a state. There is nothing technically inaccurate about the phraseology of the question. Even Scott Alexander over at Slate Star Codex admits that it is a functional system of government, and he is a liberal who is hostile to the idea.

If you had read the book and were unbiased then you got the answer correct, regardless of which version you were presented with.

8. The Chinese government consists of;

a combination of single party supervision and nested elections. <--- Correct

a dictatorship supervising all aspects of life.

a national democracy with balance of powers.
The second answer might be consider factually true, but it is not correct. Remember that this test says choose the most correct answer at the beginning. There is no written reference for this question. Any study of Chinese politics can point to the right answer.

9. How many branches of government are there in the US and what are their functions?

Five branches: Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Examination, and Control

Three branches: Presidential, Bureaucratic, and Congressional

Three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial <--- Correct

Two branches; Parliament and Lords

This is about the US system of government. The first answer is somewhat "truthy" for Taiwan (they have only 4 branches of government though these days instead of 5). The last answer is still false for the UK. Scholars disagree of whether the UK has any meaningful separation of powers, but the ones who say it does give the same number of branches as the US: 3, or Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. There is no such thing as the "bureaucratic branch," or the "congressional branch."

10. Why is the Westminster system more effective than the Presidential?

Because MPs have to face off in Parliment.

Because party discipline is enforce by control of the purse. <--- Correct.

Because the UK elects a slate of candidates and not the Prime Minister separately.

If you have read Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, by Francis Fukuyama, then you know that the reason US democracy is so much more ineffective than UK democracy is because budgets originate in congress rather than the bureaucracy itself. Prime Ministers can withhold funds from an MP's district to punish him for going against the party line. Thus there is a tight relationship between a PM and his party, so that he needs their votes and they need his funds.

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