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Political Deadlocks and Distributional Information: The Value of the Veil

Roger Congleton () and Wendell Sweetser

Public Choice, 1992, vol. 73, issue 1, 1-19

Abstract: Contractarian normative theory relies on the "veil of ignorance" construct to generate the political consensus required for its theories of justice. By eliminating distributional information, the veil is presumed too facilitate consensus building by reducing conflict over the distributional effects of proposed constitutional rules or institutions. This paper explores the extent to which excessive distributional information might also impede the ordinary day-to-day decision making of democratic institutions. The authors' analysis suggests that distributive information makes political deadlocks under majority rule more likely. Statistical evidence suggests that the efficacy of the U.S. Congress has been reduced by the dramatic increase in distributional information made available to it over the past twenty five years. Copyright 1992 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Date: 1992
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