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Doing Well While Intending Good: Cases in Political Exploitation

William C. Mitchell and Michael Munger ()

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1993, vol. 5, issue 3, 317-348

Abstract: Exploitation has a deservedly bad reputation as an analytic concept in the social sciences. But this need not be so; a simple definition of exploitation is advanced that has a positive basis. Exploitation should be defined as the result of rent-seeking activity that results in social outcomes that are not Paretooptimal. Government, or the organization with a constitutional monopoly on the legitimate use of force, is ideally charged with balancing two competing kinds of exploitation. The first is the private exploitation of agents acting in unregulated markets where property rights are undefined and unenforced. The second is political exploitation using the powers of government itself. The ideal task of government is to minimize the total exploitative activity in the polity. Five case studies are offered as illustrations of political exploitation, and how difficult the task of balancing is.

Keywords: bureaucracy; exploitation; ideology; market processes; monopoly; rent-seeking; welfare (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1993
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Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:5:y:1993:i:3:p:317-348