This ground-breaking book demonstrates that the decentralized decision-making processes characteristic of democracies are responsible for making them the most successful countries in the world.
Part I draws upon literature from fields as diverse as economics, computer architecture, and industrial organization to demonstrate that the more equally power is distributed in society, the closer government policy comes to maximizing aggregate social welfare. It also analyzes political business cycles, economic growth rates, trade protectionism, and military spending levels throughout the world, presenting a wealth of cross-national statistical evidence in support of the theory of democratic efficiency.
Part II takes a critical look at the United States Congress. It details the organization of a congressional office and provides a fascinating minute-by-minute account of a week in the life of a member of the House of Representatives. It explains why the very organization of the American political system tends to short-circuit the intentions of its participants, however noble they might be.
This scope of this book is so broad, and its conclusions so sweeping, that it belongs on the reading list of courses in American politics, political theory, comparative politics, international relations, and political economy.