Hit Parade

C’è qualcosa di impudico nel tentativo di osservare la fruizione di un prodotto estetico, si entra un po’ troppo nell’intimo delle persone. Un approccio alternativo considera solo i fattori più esteriori. E’ l’approccio prediletto da Gabriel Rossman nel suo Climbing the Charts: What Radio Airplay Tells Us about the Diffusion of Innovation. L’oggetto dell’indagine è la musica commerciale.

Nella musica commerciale la diffusione del prodotto conta più della produzione dello stesso, lo si vede ad occhio nudo limitandosi ad un’analisi dei costi: sulla prima funzione si spende molto di più…

… Rihanna’s label assembled a dream team of songwriters, producers, vocal coaches, and song mixers at a cost of about $78,000 per song. However, this considerable figure was dwarfed by the million dollars it cost to promote a song, about a third of which went to radio promotion….

In questo senso le radio FM sono ancora centrali, ancora oggi in presenza dei nuovi media.

… record labels feel it is worth spending in excess of $300,000 to get a song played on the radio. Or perhaps it is better to note that radio airplay is still this valuable…

Il libro tenta di districare il complesso rapporto tra canzoni e radio. La prospettiva è interessante:

… study popular culture not from the perspective of what it means, but how it was made

Come si diffonde una musica commerciale presso il pubblico?

… This book’s substantive concern of how songs become hits on the radio is part of a more general class of problems in social science known as the diffusion of innovation

La curva di diffusione è lo strumento principale impiegato:

… At the most basic level, one can study diffusion simply by drawing a graph and looking at its shape to see whether it is more concave or more s-shaped

FIGURA 1

FIGURA 2

Da cosa dipende la diffusione? Se è del tipo illustrato nella figura 1 da elementi esterni, se è del tipo illustrato nella figura 2 da un contagio interno:

… Contagious diffusion can only occur when someone who has experienced the innovation encounters someone who has not. Diffusion is slow early on because there are too few adopters who can promote the innovation… So you may be more likely to buy a book when it becomes a best seller because the book’s popularity gives it more conspicuous placement in bookstores, even if you don’t personally know a single individual who has read the book or have even observed strangers reading the book in public… the proportion of holdouts who adopt in each period is determined by how many actors are already using the innovation…

Se il motore della diffusione è esogeno (figura 1) il fatto che altri consumino il prodotto non incide sulla voglia di consumarlo.

… In contrast, in the first style a constant proportion of holdouts adopt in every period… For instance, the diffusion of tetracycline was mostly exogenous, the diffusion of hybrid corn almost perfectly endogenous, and the diffusion of postwar consumer appliances a compromise between the two patterns.

Un primo effetto della globalizzazione è quello di produrre sempre meno star di successo sempre maggiore, è l’”effetto rete”:

… through the wonders of electronic reproduction the total volume of fame does not diminish, but grows. That is, at each stage there are fewer successful artists, but those who are successful are so famous that the aggregate of fame increases as one moves downstream… massive inequality nicknamed the “superstar effect” which is made possible by the introduction of electronic reproduction…

Canzonette, mode, “effetto rete”… tutto sembra preludere ad una diffusione virale… e invece, sorpresa! La normale diffusione della musica commerciale è di tipo esogeno, quello illustrato dalla figure 1.

Rossman procede con dei “case study”:

… The central empirical concern of this book is how songs become popular on the radio, so a good place to start is by case study of a particularly successful song. In figure 2.1, I have graphed the diffusion curve for “Umbrella” by Rihanna… this concave growth pattern is consistent with an exogenous process and is entirely inconsistent with the s-shaped curves produced by an endogenous process. It is completely implausible to argue that radio stations decided to play this song because they were imitating each other, as its popularity simply happened too fast for stations to be attentive to each other… That we do not see an s-curve but rather a concave curve implies that this song did not spread across radio as an endogenous process of the kind so beloved by sociologists, popular science writers, and “viral marketing” consultants…  in general, pop songs have concave curves with the same shape that we see for “Umbrella… To explain how so many radio stations came to play “Umbrella,” we cannot resort to arguments about contagion or cascades… may be a trait of the song itself or it may be some actor who is influencing all of the radio stations…

La gente non vuole ascoltare la canzone famosa perché è famosa. Ma qual è allora la molla che fa scattare questa voglia? Vengono sondate due spiegazioni:

… explore two plausible explanations… The first is that stations have unsated demand for new music from pop stars and play songs as soon as they are available… The second is that the large companies who have dominated radio since deregulation coordinate the airplay of their properties…

Vediamo il caso della “voglia di Madonna…”. Ci sono problemi: la curva concava vale anche per i nuovi autori e poi ci sono i successi multipli, ovvero le canzoni tratte dallo stesso album che diventano successi in tempi diversi.

… We might imagine that when a beloved artist releases new music, radio stations would immediately jump at the chance to play it… There are two problems with this interpretation. First, unsated demand sounds plausible for explaining the diffusion of songs by established stars, but we would not imagine that radio stations were eagerly awaiting releases by hitherto unknown performers… contrary to the predictions of the unsated demand hypothesis, songs by unknown artists tend to diffuse by an exogenous pattern, though not as steeply or as widely as those by stars… A more severe problem for the unsated demand explanation is that it cannot explain why multiple songs from the same album become popular at different times… With few exceptions, radio stations began playing “Umbrella” in March, “Shut Up and Drive” in June, “Hate That I Love You” in late summer, and “Don’t Stop the Music” within a few weeks of Christmas… If the reason that radio stations tend to start playing a song all at once was that they all gained access to it at the same time, this supposition fails to explain why most radio stations sat on “Hate That I Love You” and “Don’t Stop the Music” for weeks or months after the songs became available and then suddenly began playing them during a very short time window…

C’è forse un “grande burattinaio” che governa dall’alto la diffusione presso le radio di certe canzoni?

… Since the simple fact of songs being made available to radio stations is not enough to explain the tremendous conformity of radio stations, we must look for an actor who coordinates radio. Who is it who decides which song is going to spread?…

Negli USA molti hanno fatto l’ipotesi della CCC.

… many people have a strong idea as to exactly who is the central actor who coordinates radio: Clear Channel Communications… The San Antonio-based company owns about one in ten of all commercial American radio stations…

Ma anche dividendo le radio in base alla proprietà, non si osserva alcun effetto virale, non esiste una correlazione particolarmente accentuata tra radio con-sorelle:

… To test this hypothesis, I plotted “Umbrella” again… but this time with a separate curve for each company with an appreciable number of Top 40 stations. As can be seen, the companies each show the same smooth exogenous diffusion curve. This result contrasts strikingly with what we would expect were decisions made at the chain level… no chain shows a step function… each chain shows a smooth diffusion… curves are essentially identical with only trivial and probably random discrepancies between the adoption times of stations in different chains… we can rule out the possibility of strong coordination at the chain

Riassuntino:

… we have seen that pop songs usually spread among radio stations in a way that is inconsistent with the stations imitating one another but is consistent with some central force influencing all of the stations. Because the same pattern applies to later singles on an album, the pattern cannot be explained by album release dates. Likewise, popular speculation attributes conformity among radio stations to corporate ownership, but we have strong evidence that corporate radio chains do not centrally coordinate the decision to add songs to radio playlists…

Ma forse il burattinaio risiede più in alto, non a livello delle radio ma a livello delle case discografiche.

… think of the long-running (but now defunct) trade journal Radio and Records and see the radio industry as part of a broader music industry that includes such actors as instrument manufacturers, live performance promoters and venues, and most important of all, the recorded music industry…

Il comportamento delle radio è decisiva per le case discografiche, controllarle in qualche modo è importantissimo:

… Consider that it is rare for a person to walk into WalMart or Best Buy or to log onto Amazon or iTunes and purchase music that they have never heard before… most of the time we buy music based on having been exposed to it through broadcast media, especially pop music radio… In short, airplay is a major determinant of sales… “There is no better guarantor of a band’s success than a hit single on the radio luring listeners into record stores to buy the album.”… supposed impartiality of gatekeepers like radio stations makes their endorsements more valuable than advertising…

E’ chiaro che a questa stregua la casa discografica tenterà in tuttii modi di “ungere le ruote” presso le radio al fine di promuovere la sua hit. E’ il fenomeno che va sotto il nome di payola:

… The most basic practice is that record labels deluge radio programmers and other workers in the music industry with promotional copies of CDs in the hopes that they will be impressed by the music and give it airplay and other exposure… Ultimately though, the most direct way to get airplay is to bribe a radio station (or its employees) to play your music… The most direct form of payola is simply a quid pro quo where a station (or the station’s staff) agrees to play a particular song in exchange for cash, intellectual property rights, drugs, or sex

Molto spesso il fenomeno payola si risolve in un mero spreco di risorse: quando tutti lo attuano, nessuno ne beneficia. Per essere chiari: se tutte le case discografiche inviano campioni gratuiti dei dischi al DJ, quest’ultimo non si sentirà in dovere di favorire nessuno vanificando i doni.

Questo spiega anche il ciclo payola: parte la corruzione che via via diventa un puro spreco di risorse, a questo punto il sistema discografico fa scoppiare lo scandalo e comincia la pulizia, dopo qualche tempo a corruzione zero si ricomincia.

… The most fundamental question is why the payola market continually reestablishes itself and who benefits from the system… It makes sense for stations to accept this payola if they expect that the value of the bribe is greater than the loss of advertising… However, when payola is an accepted business practice it can be an implicit part of compensation which is fungible with direct station expenditures, and may even be preferable for management as it evades taxes… In any case, it’s unlikely that a radio station would be asked to take a bribe to play a really unappealing record, since a reasonable record label wouldn’t want to waste money promoting music that they know to be terrible… A bidding war for airplay breaks out and this eventually leads to rent dissipation, with the cost of payola equaling the marginal benefit of airplay and this cost being so high that nearly all profits from the recording industry are captured by broadcasting. At this point the volume of the illicit payola market attracts the interest of the state and/or the recording industry grows frustrated and attempts collective action. Whether by state or by trade group, such a response temporarily suppresses payola and brings the system full circle

Payola inizia come corruzione delle case discografiche e termina come ricatto delle radio: stare nel sistema non ti dà vantaggi ma stare fuori è la morte certa. Se tutti partecipano gli unici beneficiati sono i DJ: liberi di scegliere secondo il loro gusto e di incassare esentasse:

… Thus, payola is something that begins as a bribe paid by labels and artists, but can quickly end up as extortion demanded by broadcasters. A particular record company can benefit tremendously if it provides payola and its rivals do not… However, once payola becomes universal all the record companies pay a high price and have no net promotion advantage for doing so. This incentive structure is the familiar prisoner’s dilemma, where an actor’s best outcome is to cheat while its partner behaves, followed by them both behaving, followed by them both cheating, and worst of all is for the actor to behave while its partner cheats… The only solution to the prisoner’s dilemma is collective action over repeated interaction, but even this is tenuous…

Le case discografiche potrebbero fare cartello e non pagare. Ma…

… Unfortunately for musicians and the record industry, cartels are extremely vulnerable to cheating

COMMENTO PERSONALE

A questo punto sappiamo che il modello di diffusione “esogeno” in alcuni momenti puo’ essere spiegato da payola ma in altri momenti no: per esempio quando payola non c’è, oppure quando è talmente diffusa da neutralizzare di fatto l’azione corruttrice delle case discografiche. Eppure la curva esogena è un fatto costante, a cosa attribuirla? Se escludiamo il contagio e la corruzione dall’alto non ci resta che dare un peso alla bellezza oggettiva del prodotto commerciale. I DJ e il pubblico la percepisce e la desidera, da qui popolarità e successo.

La fabbrica delle idee

L’argomento che affronta Michael Kremer nel suo saggio “Patent Buyouts” è centrale:

… Economic growth ultimately depends on the production of new ideas, but competitive markets do not provide appropriate incentives for the production of ideas…

Ci si è provato in tutti i modi:

… Historically, societies have used a wide variety of mechanisms to encourage production of ideas. Some, such as patents and copyrights, provide inventors with monopolies over goods produced using their ideas. Others, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the synthetic fuels program, directly subsidize research…

Il sistema dei brevetti e dei diritti d’autore è altamente distorsivo:

… Patents and copyrights create insufficient incentives for original research because inventors cannot fully capture consumer surplus or spillovers of their ideas to other researchers. Patents and copyrights also create static distortions from monopoly pricing and encourage socially wasteful expenditures on reverse engineering to invent around patents…

Anche la ricerca sussidiata dallo stato non funziona:

… before research is conducted, the government may not know the costs and expected benefits of research, and it may not even be able to conceive of some inventions. Allowing government officials wide discretion to set payments to inventors ex post may lead to rent seeking and to expropriation of investors after their research costs are sunk…

Un suggerimento puo’ venirci dalla storia. Avete presente la sorte del dagherrotipo?

… In 1839, the government of France combined elements of the patent system and of direct government support of research by purchasing the patent for daguerreotype photography and placing the technique in the public domain. After the patent was bought out, daguerreotype photography was rapidly adopted worldwide and was subject to myriad technical improvements….

Purtroppo, l’acquisto governativo dei brevetti ha un inconveniente: quanto pagare. E qui viene avanzata una proposta:

… government would offer to buy out patents at this private value times a fixed markup that would roughly cover the difference between the social and private values of inventions. Inventors could decide whether to sell or retain their patents… However, in order to provide auction participants with an incentive to truthfully reveal their valuations, the government would randomly select a few patents that would be sold to the highest bidder. Encouraging innovation through such a mechanism would require more discretion by government officials than the current patent system but substantially less discretion than that exercised by, say, the National Institutes of Health…

Ci sono dei precedenti su cui poter lavorare per una messa a punto del meccanismo al fine di eliminare l’aspetto confiscatorio:

… Macfie (1869), a member of the British Parliament in the nineteenth century, proposed replacing the patent system with a reward system. In this century, Polanyi (1943) suggested replacing patents with rewards based on ex-post estimates of the value of inventions. Guell and Fischbaum (1995) suggest that the government use its power of eminent domain to purchase pharmaceutical patents. They propose that judges determine the buyout price. One problem with allowing broad administrative discretion over the patent buyout price is that this may lead to purchases at confiscatory prices and thus reduce incentives for innovation. Allowing broad discretion may also lead to wasteful expenditures on rent seeking… Patent buyouts would thus supplement, rather than replace, the existing patent system. Inventors would receive a markup over the private value of the patents to bring incentives for invention closer to the social value…

Problemi:

… One problem with a fixed reward is that people could claim rewards for trivial inventions… but perhaps the chief problem with patent buyouts is that they are potentially vulnerable to collusion, because inventors could bribe auction participants to submit high bids…

Come porre rimedio alle collusioni? Ci sono alcuni modi un po’ scontati:

… The government could make collusion more difficult using standard procedures such as requiring bids to be sealed, punishing companies and individuals found guilty of collusion, and rewarding whistle-blowers

Poi ci sono alcuni modi più legati alla struttura dell’asta. Per esempio quello di considerare solo la terza offerta più alta:

… The government would base the price it offers the inventor on the third highest bid. The original patent holder would therefore have to bribe three companies instead of one to ensure a substantial increase in the buyout price…

Oppure di trasformare il governo in un broker speculativo quando ha sentore di collusione:

… suppose that, based on the other bids and any knowledge of the industry, the government’s best estimate of the patent’s value was it. If a bidder offered it + x and the agency suspected collusion,” the government could offer to buy out the patent at it + $1 and then require the suspected colluding bidder to purchase the patent at its bid of it + x. The government would make a profit of x – 1 from the attempted collusion…

Ci sono poi metodi legati alla trasparenza delle società partecipanti:

… The government could develop lists of suspect bidders by checking whether winning bidders made money… bidders would have to provide information on any ties they had with the inventor…

Si possono istituire dei costi fissi:

… Bidders could be required to pay a licensing fee or deposit allowing them to participate in a number of auctions. This would make it unprofitable for patent holders to set up dummy companies…

Naturalmente sarebbe proibito il riacquisto a cura dell’inventore:

…  inventors would be prohibited from buying back the patent from the winning bidder or making other payments to bidders…

Ci sono poi delle modalità per stabilire un tetto alle offerte governative.

Si consideri comunque che esistono molte istituzioni minacciate dalla collusione e invece immuni dal fenomeno, si pensi alla peer-review:

… it is also important to remember that many institutions that are theoretically vulnerable to collusion operate relatively well. For example, peer review is highly vulnerable to collusion, yet the NSF and NIH seem relatively effective…

E poi il livello ottimale di collusione oltre il quale la soluzione proposta perderebbe di efficienza non è pari a zero.

… Even if collusion raises patent prices above their social value, the social value of inventions may be approximated better by the collusive price than by the existing patent system…

La soluzione dell’asta comunque non è universale, bisognerà studiare i vari casi specifici per valutare l’esistenza di mercati sufficientemente “densi” da rendere anonima l’emersione di un prezzo:

… The auction mechanism described in this chapter may be appropriate for many pharmaceuticals, but it would not be appropriate in industries where markets are too thin for auctions or patents are not an effective means of protecting inventions. In such industries, the government could simply offer to buy out patents for an amount equal to postbuyout sales times an administratively determined estimate of the average consumer surplus per unit of the good consumed…

Capire il diritto: economisti contro giuristi

Ma a cosa servono i giuristi e gli esperti di diritto in genere?

I filosofi studiano i principi delle leggi, gli economisti le conseguenze. Quindi i giuristi chi sono? Cosa vogliono da noi con i loro libri voluminosi? Non potrebbero cambiare mestiere e rendersi utili in altro modo?

La domanda sorge spontanea leggendo “Law and Order” di David Friedman, un economista che si occupa di diritto.

Uno legge il libro e si chiede cosa ci sia da aggiungere. Sì, magari un po’ di storia ma per il resto…

Veramente 40 anni fa la domanda era rovesciata: cosa c’entra un economista con il diritto? Ecco allora una risposta sintetica:

Someone proposes that since armed robbery is a very serious crime, armed robbers should get a life sentence. A constitutional lawyer asks whether that is consistent with the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. A legal philosopher asks whether it is just. An economist points out that if the punishments for armed robbery and for armed robbery plus murder are the same, the additional punishment for the murder is zero—and asks whether you really want to make it in the interest of robbers to murder their victims. That is what economics has to do with law…

Ecco, le pene sono graduate. Ma perché? Il filosofo ci dice che è GIUSTO così, e ci spiega perché; l’economista ci dice che è EFFICIENTE così, e ci spiega perché. E il giurista che ci dice? Cita qualche comma a casaccio e poi non riesco più a seguirlo, mi addormento. Mai che riesca a tenermi sveglio con qualcosa d’interessante.

Ma qui mettiamoci per un attimo gli occhiali dell’economista. Ecco chi è il delinquente per lui:

A mugger is a mugger for the same reason I am an economist: Given his tastes, opportunities, and abilities, it is the most attractive profession open to him…

Nel diritto visto dagli economisti il concetto centrale è quello di probabilità:

… It is tempting to reply that nobody should be punished unless we are certain he is guilty. But by that standard nobody would ever be punished; the strongest evidence establishes only a probability. Even a confession is not absolute proof: While our legal system no longer permits torture, it does permit plea bargaining, and an innocent defendant may prefer a guilty plea on a minor charge to risking a long prison term on a major one…

La società deve fare una scelta di valore: quale probabilità di colpevolezza fa scattare la condanna?

… If we are to convict anyone at all, we must do it on evidence short of absolute proof. How far short? Raising the standard of proof reduces the chance of convicting an innocent defendant but increases the chance of acquitting a guilty one…

Una scelta di valore famosa è lo standard-Blackstone (90%):

If, as Blackstone wrote more than two hundred years ago, it is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent be convicted, we should keep raising our standard of proof as long as doing so saves one more innocent defendant…

Spesso il diritto si distingue in civile e penale proprio per dare due standard diversi. Ma perché ne occorrono due?

… law in the United States and similar systems requires a high standard of proof (“beyond a reasonable doubt”) in a criminal case but only a low standard (“preponderance of the evidence”) in a civil case. Why? The answer cannot simply be that we are more careful with criminal convictions because the penalties are bigger. A damage judgment of a million dollars, after all, is a considerably more severe punishment for most of us than a week in jail…

Il giurista glissa ma per l’economista la risposta è semplicissima: nel primo caso la pena è una compensazione tra privati, nel secondo un costo netto sociale:

… Economics suggests a simple explanation. The typical result of losing a lawsuit is a cash payment from the defendant to the plaintiff. The result of being convicted of a crime may well be imprisonment or execution. A high error rate in civil cases means that sometimes I lose a case I should have won and pay you some money and sometimes you lose a case you should have won and pay me some money. On average, the punishment itself imposes no net cost; it is simply a transfer. A high error rate in criminal cases means that sometimes I get hanged for a murder I didn’t commit and sometimes you get hanged for a murder you didn’t commit. In the criminal case, unlike the civil case, one man’s loss is not another man’s gain. Punishment is mostly net cost rather than transfer, so it makes sense to be a good deal more careful about imposing it…

Se la funzione della pena inflitta al criminale fosse la rieducazione del condannato o il risarcimento della vittima l’arringa di questo bizzarro avvocato sarebbe vincente:   

Suppose, for example, that I take advantage of a particularly good opportunity to push my rich uncle off a cliff. By extraordinary bad fortune a birdwatcher happens to have his camera pointed in my direction at just the wrong time, with the result that I am caught, tried, and convicted. During the sentencing phase of the trial my attorney points out that my crime was due to the conjunction of extraordinary temptation (he was very rich, I was very poor) and an improbably good opportunity—and I had only one rich uncle. Besides, once I have been convicted of this crime, potential future victims are unlikely to go rock climbing with me. Hence, he argues, the court should convict me and then let me go. Whatever they do, I will never kill again, and hanging or imprisoning me will not, he points out, bring my uncle back to life. The conclusion is bizarre, but the argument seems logical…

E qui spunta il giurista: la pena serve a fare giustizia! Ma la sua risposta ci suona tautologica:

… The reply many legal scholars would probably offer is that the law is concerned not only with consequences but also with justice. Letting me go may do no damage, but it is still wrong…

Anche qui l’economista ha una risposta migliore: 

… By letting me off unpunished, the court is announcing a legal rule that lowers the risk of punishment confronting other nephews faced, in the future, by similar temptations. Executing this murderer will not bring his victim back to life, but the legal rule it establishes may deter future murderers and so save those who would have been their victims… Legal rules are to be judged by the structure of incentives they establish and the consequences of people altering their behavior in response to those incentives…

Il vantaggio dell’economia è che se hai capito la funzione di una legge hai capito tutto il diritto. Lo studente di giurisprudenza che studia il Codice Civile, per capire il diritto penale deve cominciare daccapo studiando il Codice Penale.

A law student who has learned to understand tort law has the basic equipment to understand tort law. If he wants to understand criminal law, he must start over again. Economics changes that…  As you will see, once you understand property, or contract, or tort from the point of view of economics, you have done most of the work toward understanding any of the others

Per l’economista il giurista non capisce quello che studia cosicché la sua è solo mera erudizione a pappagallo.

Così come il teologo dice allo scienziato che senza dare un senso compiuto ai concetti che utilizza non ci sarà mai vera comprensione, lo stesso dice l’economista al giurista: tu rilevi un ordine, una coerenza ma che significato dai a tutto questo?

This is one explanation for the controversial nature of economics within the legal academy. On the one hand, it offers the possibility of making sense out of what legal academics do. On the other hand, it asserts that in order for legal academics to fully understand what they are doing, they must first learn economics

Inoltre, l’economia del diritto produce molte fastidiose conclusioni contro-intuitive Esempio: le leggi fatte a protezione di X danneggiano X. Il che non la rende simpatica a chi apprezza oltre misure le “buone intenzioni”.

… A second reason economic analysis is controversial is that it sometimes produces conclusions with which many legal academics disagree—for example, that laws “protecting” tenants are quite likely to make tenants worse off

Altro attrito: gli economisti sono generalmente di destra, gli studiosi del diritto di sinistra.

Ma perché l’economista è di destra? Risposta:

…  the economist’s underlying assumption that individuals are rational. While that assumption does not, as we will see, eliminate all reasons for wanting to interfere with market outcomes, it does eliminate many. And while rationality is an optimistic assumption when applied to individuals who are supposed to be acting for their own interest—buying and selling, signing contracts, getting married or divorced—it can be a pessimistic assumption when applied to people who are supposed to be acting in someone else’s interests, such as judges or legislators…

D’altro canto anche il giurista puo’ insegnare all’economista, perlomeno nella misura in cui il primo veste i panni dell’economista applicato:  Prendiamo il concetto di proprietà, l’economista lo dà per scontato ma il giurista conosce bene il casino che ci sta sotto:

… An economist can talk about someone owning a piece of land and assume that that is the end of it. A lawyer dealing with property is brought face to face with the fact that ownership of land is not a simple concept. How does my ownership of a piece of land apply to someone else who wants to fly over my land, dig a hole next to it that my house might slide into, permit his cattle to wander onto my land and eat my vegetables, erect a structure on his land that shades my swimming pool?… The more you think about them, the clearer it becomes that what you own is not a piece of land but a bundle of rights related to a piece of land….

Certo che quando un economista come Ronald Coase si è occupato di diritto civile ha rivoluzionato il settore rimpiazzando il concetto di responsabilità con quello di proprietà. Per capire, pensate solo al caso di un edificio in costruzione che fa ombra alla piscina dell’Hotel adiacente. Il giurista qui vede solo un danno perpetrato dal primo operatore verso il secondo, e quindi la necessità di un risarcimento. 

… Someone builds a new hotel in Florida that shades the swimming pool of the next hotel down the beach. The owners of the old hotel sue for damages. Conventional economic analysis holds that they should win. The new hotel imposes a cost on the old; making its builder liable forces him to include that cost—what economists call an external cost or externality—in deciding whether or not the new hotel is worth building. But, as Ronald Coase pointed out in an article that laid an important part of the foundation for the economic analysis of law, that answer is too simple. It may be true that if the builder of the new hotel is not liable he need not consider the cost he imposes by locating his building where it will shade his neighbor’s pool. But if he is liable, the neighbor at an earlier stage need not consider the cost he imposes by locating his swimming pool where a building on the adjacent lot will shade it—and thus forcing the owner of that lot to either leave it empty or build and pay damages. What we have are not costs imposed by one person on another but costs jointly produced by decisions made by both parties. Part of Coase’s solution to this problem is to restate it in terms not of external costs but of property rights… The solution suggested by Coase was not liability but trade. Define the relevant legal rules so that one of the parties has a clear right to the stream of sunlight…

Certo che se privilegi l’impostazione economicista ti ritrovi ben presto con tutti i problemi dell’utilitarismo: come misurare i valori soggettivi?

… how to add people up. If a law benefits some and hurts others, as most do, how can one decide whether the net effect is loss or gain, cost or benefit?… we are comparing effects on different people using dollars as our common unit—not dollars actually paid out or received, but dollars as a common measure of value, a way of putting all costs and benefits on the same scale…

Come misurare le preferenze in modo attendibile?

… The experiment of asking people such questions is an imaginary one not only because we don’t do it but also because, if we did, there is no reason to expect them to tell us the truth… The reason I believe heroin addicts would be willing to pay quite a lot to have heroin made legal is that I observe heroin addicts paying quite a lot to get illegal heroin. The economist’s term for that approach is “revealed preference.” Preferences are revealed by choices…

Come misurare il valore di un bene?

Mary has an apple. John wants the apple. The apple is worth fifty cents to Mary, meaning that she is indifferent between having the apple and not having the apple but having an additional fifty cents instead. The apple is worth one dollar to John. John buys the apple for seventy-five cents… The transfer was an improvement.

Questa valutazione prudenziale ci fa concludere che le norme tese a facilitare il libero scambio producono sempre un valore sociale:

… We now expand the analysis by applying Marshall’s approach not to a transaction (John buys Mary’s apple) but to a legal rule. The rule is freedom of exchange: Anyone who owns an apple is free to sell or not to sell it on any terms mutually acceptable. In our two-person world the result is efficient…

Anche se Efficienza e Giustizia non sono la stessa cosa si tratta di parenti stretti:

… Although “efficient” is not quite identical to “desirable” or “should,” it is close enough so that the answer to the question “What is efficient?” is at least relevant, although not necessarily identical, to the answer to the question “What should we do?”…

Detto questo, non si vogliono nascondere le difficoltà, ecco un caso lampante in cui efficienza e giustizia divergono:

Consider a sheriff who observes a mob about to lynch three innocent murder suspects and solves the problem by announcing (falsely) that he has proof one of them is guilty and shooting him. Judged consequentially, and assuming there was no better solution available, it seems an unambiguous improvement—by two lives…

Anche equiparare tutti i valori soggettivi puo’ essere problematico:

It assumes that when evaluating the consequence of a legal rule for a single person, the appropriate values are that person’s values as expressed in his actions, that there is no relevant difference between the value of insulin and of heroin

I soldi, poi, sono una buona approssimazione della felicità?

… a gain that one person is willing to pay ten dollars to get just balances a loss that another is willing to pay ten dollars to avoid. But most of us believe that, measured by some more fundamental standard such as happiness, a dollar is worth more to some people than to others—more to poor than to rich, more to materialist than to ascetic…

Quest’ultima è una critica seria. Ecco una possibile risposta:

… Marshall’s response was that most economic issues involve costs and benefits to large and heterogeneous groups of people, so that differences in individual value for money (in the language of economics, differences in the “marginal utility of income”) were likely to average out

Ma la risposta migliore è questa:

… An alternative argument for efficient law is that, even when legal rules can be used to redistribute, there are better tools available, such as taxation

Per quanto detto finora la società razionale adotterebbe un laissez-faire generalizzato. Cosa c’è che non va in questa conclusione? Essenzialmente il fatto che non tutte le relazioni sono volontarie e non tutti gli scambi a costo zero:

When I drive my car down the street, both the car and the gasoline were obtained by voluntary exchange. But the same is not true of the relation between me and pedestrians I might run down or the homeowners downwind who must breath my exhaust. Nor is there a voluntary relation between me and the thief who steals my hubcaps… A second assumption implicit in the argument is that transactions are costless…

Una classica relazione non volontaria è quella tra inquinato e inquinatore: nessuno dei due vuole porla in essere, entrambi la eviterebbero, se non ci fosse sarebbe meglio per tutti. 

When my steel mill produces a ton of steel, I pay my workers for the cost of their labor, I pay the mining firm for the cost of its ore, but I do not pay the people downwind for the sulfur dioxide I am putting into their air… If I can eliminate two dollars worth of pollution damage at a cost of one dollar of pollution control, it is worth doing from the standpoint of efficiency—cost one dollar, benefit two. But the cost is paid by me, and the benefit goes to the people downwind, so it is not in my interest to do it…

Che fare? Una soluzione – di solito proposta dai giuristi – è “regolamentare”, e qui il laissez-faire va a farsi benedire:

… One solution is direct regulation: some government agency such as the EPA makes rules requiring steel mills to filter their smoke, or build high smokestacks, or in various other ways reduce their pollution…

Ma si tratta di una soluzione sprecona con mille problemi, eccone uno tanto per gradire (interessi disallineati): 

… While this is an obvious solution, it has some serious problems. The first is that the EPA may not be interested in maximizing efficiency

Eccone un altro (ignoranza):

… The second problem is that, even if the EPA wants to maximize efficiency, it does not know how to do it. Figuring out what pollution control measures are or are not worth taking and how much steel ought to be produced after properly allowing for the external costs of producing it are hard problems…

A questo punto arriva l’economista che propone di sostituire le regole con una tassa “pigouviana”, la cosa ha parecchi vantaggi:

Instead of telling the firm what it must do, the regulator simply charges the firm for its pollution. If making a ton of steel produces twenty pounds of sulfur dioxide, which does four dollars worth of damage, the firm is billed for its sulfur dioxide output at twenty cents a pound… the regulator does not have to know anything about the costs of pollution control… A second advantage is that this approach generates not only the right amount of pollution control but the right amount of steel as well. When the firm produces steel, its costs now include both the cost of controlling pollution and the cost of any pollution it fails to control…

Ma permane un grave inconveniente:

… Even if the regulators are trying to produce the efficient outcome, it may not be easy to measure the damage actually done by each additional pound of sulfur dioxide, or CO2, or whatever…

Da notare che i vari passaggi possono essere ripercorsi per qualsiasi situazione che comporti un illecito civile, alla fine i problemi illustrati nel caso dell’inquinamento si ripropongono sempre.

… the same analysis can be used to explain large parts of tort law. Instead of having the EPA impose effluent taxes, we permit the people downwind to sue the steel mill for the damage its pollution is doing to their houses, laundry, and lungs… The analysis can be applied to parking fines and speeding tickets as well. When I drive fast I am imposing a cost, in additional accident risk, on other drivers. The law forces me to take account of that cost in my actions by fining me when I am caught exceeding the speed limit…

Ora una domanda impertinente: ma perché mai noi dovremmo imporre un risarcimento per a chi procura danni a terzi? Evitando di farlo l’efficienza non ne risentirebbe e tutti i problemi di cui sopra sparirebbero.

D’altronde, in parecchi altri ambiti facciamo già così: se un tale apre un bar nella stessa via dove lavoro col mio non è tenuto a pagarmi i danni, eppure me ne procurerebbe parecchi: 

… I mentioned earlier a special sort of externality called a pecuniary externality, one that imposes no net cost, since the effects on other people cancel out…  The implication of the argument is that my neighbor ought not to be able to collect damages from me for the reduction in the price of his house. Competition should not be, and is not, a tort…

Questo ragionamento intrigante puo’ essere esteso anche ai crimini (furti)? Potremmo risparmiare sulle carceri!

Purtroppo il crimine è un’attività volontaria. Prendiamo il furto: c’è da credere che la refurtiva abbia più valore per il derubato che per il ladro altrimenti quest’ultimo avrebbe formulato un’ offerta d’acquisto. Nel caso dei danni civili questa presunzione ha poco senso: la somma del risarcimento ha lo stesso valore per entrambe le parti, quindi si puo’ evitare un trasferimento. trasferimento.

Inoltre, proprio perché i crimini sono azioni volontarie, si sopportano dei costi sia per perpetrarli. Questo è meno vero per le azioni che capitano contro la nostra volontà.

… A clever—and mischievous—reader might suggest extending the argument from competition to theft… Does it follow that, just as competition ought not to be a tort, theft ought not to be a crime?… Picking pockets is not a costless activity; it involves time, training, and a variety of risks… So far we have omitted the cost to the victims of their precautions… The general term for this phenomenon is “rent seeking.” It occurs when there is an opportunity for people to spend resources transferring wealth from others to themselves…

La “domanda impertinente” interessa molto il liberista poiché implica che l’efficienza resta intatta anche se non si interviene.

Dalla “domanda impertinente” nasce la provocatoria tesi di Ronald Coase: i diritti  iniziali possono anche essere distribuiti a casaccio, ai fini dell’efficienza conta solo che siano negoziabili e che la loro negoziazione non sia costosa, il mercato penserà ad allocarli in modo efficiente.  L’economista va quindi oltre la “tassa pigouviana”:

… The existence of externalities does not necessarily lead to an inefficient result. Pigouvian taxes do not in general lead to the efficient result. Third, and most important, the problem is not really externalities at all. It is transaction costs

Coase parte dall’idea (inconcepibile per un giurista) che non ha senso distinguere tra danneggiato e danneggiatore: anche il primo con la sua presenza danneggia il secondo impedendogli di realizzare il suo progetto.

L’ombra dell’edificio in costruzione danneggia i bagnanti della piscina così come la presenza della piscina danneggia l’edificio in costruzione: si deve partire da un’intercambiabilità dei soggetti in campo. 

… Coase’s first point is that since external costs are jointly produced by polluter and victim, a legal rule that assigns blame to one of the parties gives the right result only if that party happens to be the one who can avoid the problem at the lower…

Se l’inquinato ci tiene tanto a non essere tale basta che si compri sul mercato il diritto a non esserlo più. E’ un “risarcimento al contrario”, ai fini dell’efficienza di sistema non cambia nulla.

Se l’inquinato attribuisce all’aria pulita un valore superiore a quello che l’inquinatore attribuisce all’aria sporca la legge puo’ consentire o proibire l’inquinamento, l’esito finale non cambierà: l’inquinato comprerà dall’inquinatore il suo diritto a mantenere l’aria pulita: il mercato porta alla legge efficiente indipendentemente dalla situazione di partenza. 

… The second step in Coase’s argument is to observe that, as long as the parties can readily make and enforce contracts in their mutual interest, neither direct regulation nor a Pigouvian tax is necessary in order to get the efficient outcome. All you need is a clear definition of who has a right to do what, and the market will take care of the problem… If transaction costs are zero, if, in other words, any agreement that is in the mutual benefit of the parties concerned gets made, then any initial definition of property rights leads to an efficient outcome… We have just restated the simple argument for laissez-faire in a more sophisticated form..

Se la classe operaia voleva davvero la rivoluzione comunista poteva evitare spargimenti di sangue e comprarsela in borsa diventando proprietaria di tutte le aziende capitaliste (il monte salari, d’altronde, era più elevato della capitalizzazione di borsa).

La legge migliore è la legge che si compra. La legge migliore è quella che si forma nelle clausole di un contrato privato.

E allora perché il laissez-faire non s’impone ovunque? Il perché lo dice chiaramente il teorema di Coase: perché i costi di transazione non sono pari a zero:

… Why, if Coase is correct, do we still have pollution in Los Angeles? One possible answer is that the pollution is efficient, that the damage it does is less than the cost of preventing it. A more plausible answer is that much of the pollution is inefficient, but that the transactions necessary to eliminate it are blocked by prohibitively high transaction costs… With only one landowner there would be no problem; he would offer to pay the mill for the cost of the pollution control equipment plus a little extra to sweeten the deal. But a hundred landowners face what economists call a public good problem… With many millions of people living in southern California, it is hard to imagine any plausible way in which they could voluntarily raise the money to pay all polluters to reduce their pollution…

I costi di transazione danno ancora un ruolo alla legge dei codici, purché si proponga come unico scopo quello di abbassarli.

Coase ha lavorato proficuamente su un errore molto diffuso quando pensiamo al concetto di “danno”:

… Coase’s analysis points out fundamental mistakes in the traditional way of thinking about externalities: the failure to recognize the symmetry between “polluter” and “victim” and the failure to allow for private approaches to solving such problems… Pigouvian analysis of the problem is correct, but only under special circumstances, situations in which transaction costs are high, so that transactions between the parties can safely be ignored, and in which the agent deciding which party is to be held liable already knows who the lowest-cost avoider of the problem is. Air pollution in an urban area is an obvious example. Coase provides the more general analysis… 

Ora i tribunali hanno un criterio chiaro per giudicare le richieste di risarcimento:

… Courts could follow a policy of deciding, in each case, whether plaintiff or defendant was the lowest-cost avoider… Alternatively, courts could try to establish general rules for assigning liability, rules that usually assigned liability to the right party. One example of such a general rule is the tort defense of “coming to the nuisance.” Under this doctrine if you build your housing development next to my pig farm, I may be able to avoid liability by arguing that, because I was there first, you were the one responsible for the problem. An economic justification for the doctrine is that it is less expensive to change the location of a development, or a pig farm, before it is built than after

Possiamo vedere il teorema di Coase silenziosamente all’opera nella storia, ecco un esempio delle relazioni tra apicultori e floricultori:

… Bees graze on the flowers of various crops, so a farmer who grows crops that produce nectar benefits the beekeepers in the area. The farmer receives none of the benefit himself, so has an inefficiently low incentive to grow such crops. Since bees cannot be convinced to respect property rights or keep contracts, there would seem to be no practical way to apply Coase’s approach to the problem. We must either subsidize farmers who grow nectar-rich crops (a negative Pigouvian tax) or accept inefficiency in the joint production of crops and honey. It turns out that it isn’t true. As supporters of Coase have demonstrated, contracts between beekeepers and farmers have been common practice in the industry at least since early in this century…

Il teorema di Coase ci mette a disposizione un criterio per dare confini sensati alla proprietà e rispondere quindi a domande di questo tipo:

… Does the owner have the right to prohibit airplanes from crossing his land a mile up? How about a hundred feet? How about people extracting oil from a mile under the land? What rights does he have against neighbors whose use of their land interferes with his use of his? If he builds his recording studio next to his neighbor’s factory, who is at fault? If he has a right to silence in his recording studio, does that mean that he can forbid the factory from operating or only that he can sue to be reimbursed for his losses?..

Ecco il criterio esplicitato:

…  if right A is of most value to someone who also holds right B, they come in the same bundle. The right to decide what happens two feet above a piece of land is of most value to the person who also holds the right to use the land itself, so it is sensible to include both of them in the bundle of rights we call “ownership of land.” But the right to decide who flies a mile above a piece of land is of no special value to the owner of the land, hence there is no good reason to include it in that bundle…

Naturalmente ci sono casi più problematici di altri:

… Many rights are of substantial value to two or more parties; the right to decide whether loud noises are made over a particular piece of property, for example, is of value both to the owner of the property and to his next-door neighbors…

Ad ogni modo Coase tranquillizza il legislatore: l’essenziale non è fissare la giusta legge ma fare in modo che i diritti siano facilmente negoziabili:

…In this case the argument underlying the Coase Theorem comes into play. If we assign the right initially to the wrong person, the right person, the one to whom it is of most value, can still buy it from him. So one of the considerations in the initial definition of property rights is doing it in such a way as to minimize the transaction costs associated with fixing, via private contracts, any mistakes in the original assignment…

Coase ci dice che la proprietà – ovvero la possibilità di negoziare – è un mezzo efficiente per proteggere i diritti delle persone. Tuttavia, ammettendo che esistono dei costi di transazione, non esclude che anche la responsabilità civile (e quindi il risarcimento) possa avere un ruolo. E allora sorge spontanea una domanda:

how to decide whether rights ought to be protected by property rules (“steal a car, go to jail”), liability rules (“dent my car, pay to fix it”), or fines…

Un caso concreto puo’ essere d’aiuto:  

… Railroad trains in the nineteenth century threw sparks; the sparks sometimes started fires in adjacent fields. Railroad companies could reduce the problem either by running fewer trains or by installing a spark arrester… Farmers could reduce the problem by leaving land near the railroad track bare or planting some crop unlikely to catch fire… Farmers have only two alternatives: wheat, which burns, and clover, which does not..

Facciamo 4 ipotesi: 

We consider four different legal rules: 1. Property right by the railroad. The railroad is free to throw sparks if it wants to… 2. Property right by the farmers. The railroad may only throw sparks if it has permission to do so from all the farmers… 3. Liability right by the farmers. The railroad is free to throw sparks but must compensate the farmers for any damage that results… 4. Liability right by the railroad. Any farmer may enjoin the railroad from throwing sparks but must then compensate the railroad for the cost of having to put on a spark arrester…

Due domande:

… The symmetry is clearer if we think of each rule as answering two questions: Who decides whether the railroad throws sparks? Who bears the costs implied by that decision?…

E quattro risposte possibili:

… There are two possible answers to each question: Railroad or farmers. Combining the possible answers gives us our four rules: 1. Railroad decides, farmers bear 2. Farmers decide, railroad bears 3. Railroad decides, railroad bears 4. Farmers decide, farmers bear…

Decisioni di comportamento e responsabilità del danno, ecco i due principali parametri.

Facciamo una quantificazione per considerare l’efficienza delle quattro soluzioni. La prima sembra efficiente.

… First suppose that the damage done by fires in wheat fields is $400, switching to clover costs $800 ($8 per farmer), and a spark arrester costs $1,000 (column a of the table). The cost of the fires is less than the cost of either way of preventing them, so the efficient outcome is A: Sparks + Wheat… That outcome occurs with no transactions necessary between the parties…

Anche in una quantificazione diversa l’efficienza è garantita.

… Next suppose we reverse the costs of clover and fires; switching to clover now costs $400, and fires do $800 worth of damage (column b). The railroad throws sparks. The farmers consider their options and switch to clover, since the savings from eliminating fires make it worth doing… we have again gotten there with no transactions between the parties and no transaction cost…

Veniamo alla terza quantificazione

… Finally, suppose the cost of a spark arrester drops to $200 The railroad is still legally free to throw sparks if it wants to. But now it is in the interest of the farmers to buy the railroad a spark arrester, since doing so will cost them less than switching to clover, which is their next best alternative…

In un caso del genere è difficile immaginare costi di transazione uguali a zero qualora ci fissiamo sull’iptesi 1:

… It is in their interest, but it may not happen. The reason is the public good problem mentioned earlier. As long as enough money is contributed to pay for the spark arrester, farmers who choose not to contribute get a free ride

Certo, ci sono alcune contromisure al problema degli opportunisti:

… There are a variety of ways in which the farmers might try to overcome such a problem. For example, they might draw up a contract by which each agrees to contribute only if all of the others do… This solution depends on our assumption that all farmers are equally at risk from sparks… but… as this example suggests, the situation provides a lot of opportunity for bargaining, bluffing, threats, and counterthreats.

Nel caso della terza quantificazione è invece molto più semplice immaginare costi di transazione pari a zero con l’ Ipotesi 2:

… Turn now to rule 2. This time it is the farmers who have the absolute property right; the railroad is permitted to throw sparks only if it has permission from every farmer. What happens? If the efficient outcome is C—No Sparks + Wheat—it happens immediately with no need for any transactions. The railroad could offer to buy the farmers’ permission, but that would cost more than a spark arrester, so it is not in the railroad’s interest to make the offer…

Ma nel caso dell’ipotesi 2 le cose non funzionano altrettanto bene con la prima e la seconda quantificazione.

… Suppose, however, that the efficient outcome is A or B—sparks, with or without a switch to clover. To get there the railroad must buy permission to throw sparks from the farmers. Such a transaction, at any price lower than the cost of a spark arrester and higher than the cost of either fires (A) or clover (B), is in the interest of both railroad and farmers. It is in their interest but, again, may not happen, this time because of a holdout problem…

Lasciamo ora da parte lo strumento della proprietà (ipotesi 1 e 2) per passare a quello della responsabilità (ipotesi 3 e 4): chi decide è anche responsabile per i danni che produce ai terzi.

La regola 3 sembra efficiente nella prima quantificazione:

… The railroad can either throw sparks and pay the farmers $400 for the resulting fires or else pay $1,000 for a spark arrester; it chooses the former option…

Bisogna sempre considerare che le regole di responsabilità comportano costi processuali:

… this time when the railroad’s sparks start fires, the farmers sue for damages. We have gotten to the efficient outcome, but with an additional cost: the litigation cost of the resulting tort suits…

Il processo implica una misurazione del danno, operazione suscettibile di errori in quanto non sono a disposizione preferenze rivelate:

… Implicit in that conclusion is an important assumption: that the court can accurately measure damages… Suppose that is not the case. The fires actually do $400 worth of damage, but the court, impressed by pictures of smoldering fields, overestimates the damages and awards $1,200 in compensation to the farmers

Il rischio di errore processuale puo’ essere aggirato con una transazione:

… The solution to this problem requires another transaction. The railroad goes to the farmers and offers to buy their liability right, to pay each of them $8 in exchange for his agreement not to sue. Just as with rule 2, the parties may be able to bargain to an efficient outcome, but to do so they must overcome a holdout problem…

Ma la regola 3 potrebbe avere qualche problema con la seconda quantificazione:

Suppose we now reverse the assumption: Clover costs $400, and fires do $800 worth of damage. B is now the efficient outcome. How do we get it?… If the court simply measures the damage from fires, the obvious tactic for the farmers is to grow wheat, suffer fires, and send the bill to the railroad… We can solve this problem by having the railroad pay the farmers to switch to clover. Here again there is a potential holdout problem, but it is reduced by the fact that the railroad can pay some farmers to switch to clover, eliminating fires in their fields and the resulting liability, and pay damages to the ones who refuse to switch…

Ma cosa sentenzierebbe una corte astuta?

.A sufficiently well-informed court, applying the same principle to precautions against a continuing problem, could refuse to award the farmers the full $800 cost of their burning wheat on the grounds that half the cost is their fault; they should have switched to clover. If the farmers do switch to clover, the sufficiently smart court will recognize that they are suffering a real cost from the sparks even though there are no visible fires and award them $400 in damages…

Potrei continuare con le combinazioni, mi chiedo però se è possibile trarre una regola generale.

Di solito, affidarsi al diritto di proprietà è la cosa migliore nel caso di valutazione problematica del danno. Facciamo il caso macroscopico del diritto a respirare:

… A real-world example is the externality that I impose every time I exhale, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the world and thus contributing my little bit to global warming. The cost may be real, but we are quite confident that continuing to breathe and putting up with the consequences is the least costly solution to the problem, so we give each individual a right to breathe, free of tort liability for costs that his breathing may produce…

La responsabilità civile è preferibile qualora il danno sia oggettivo (e quindi sono meno preziose le “preferenze rivelate”) e l’eventuale contrattazione sia esposta a free riding (il teorema di Coase aveva anticipato questa soluzione):

… If we know that courts can measure damages accurately and cheaply, taking into account all possible precautions, then rules 3 and 4 look very attractive… Similarly, if we believe that it is easy for the farmers to solve their public good problem, perhaps because there are not very many of them and they are all friends and neighbors, rule 1 looks attractive… It is especially attractive, relative to the alternatives, if we believe courts are costly to use and incompetent at estimating damages…

Un caso di danno oggettivo sono gli incidenti stradali: il triffario dei carrozzieri è una buona approssimazione. D’altro canto, in casi del genere, contrattare a priori sul rischio è difficile.  Non è un caso se in questo ambito si applica il sistema della responsabilità.

Un caso di danno soggetti

Un caso di danno soggettivo sono i costi psicologici . In passato abbiamo fatto il caso del ladro gentiluomo che la notte ci ruba l’auto restituendocela la mattina nelle medesime condizioni: danni materiali oggettivi zero, danni psicologici alti (mi dà fastidio pensare ad un’azione del genere). In casi del genere la protezione proprietaria è ideale: se vuoi la mia auto me la puopi chiedere. La pena ideale è quella che fa da deterrente in casi del genere, indipendentemente da quanto sia il danno subito.

Altri costi psicologici sono quelli legati all’azione di chi esercita la libertà d’espressione in modo offensivo,  anche in questo caso funziona bene la proprietà: non puoi venire a casa mia ad offendere se non ti invito io. Sei libero di dire quello che vuoi se ti affitti una sala e inviti un pubblico consenziente.

Poi ci sono i casi difficili: costi psicologici inflitti in luogo pubblico ad un soggetto indistinto. Se Odifreddi parlando alla TV di stato dà del “cretino” ai cristiani infligge un danno soggettivo ad una moltitudine indistinta di persone. Non esiste né danno oggettivo né contrattazione facile. Che fare? Anche qui si applica Coase: nel caso in cui i costi (processuali, valutativi, transazionali…) siano elevati la soluzione più pragmatica impone di lasciare le cose come stanno. E i cristiani si beccheranno l’insulto di Odifreddi.

In sintesi, non è possibile ricavare una regola univoca, solo “corti astute” e la “giurisprudenza” possono sopperire a questa lacuna. Studiosi come Richard Posner sostengono che la common law non ha fatto che “scolpire” nei secoli un diritto coasiano, ovvero efficiente.

Facciamo ora qualche caso particolare: se mi esplode la coca in mano perché è stata un po’ agitata chi sopporta le conseguenze dei danni che fa? Le leggi collocano anche quei particolari diritti legati al rischio.

Per rispondere alla domanda qui sopra partiamo dall’inizio nell’analisi del rischio: perché stipulo un’assicurazione

… There is one chance in a hundred that my house will burn down this year, costing me $100,000. I go to an insurance company to buy insurance on the house. The company agrees with my estimate of the odds and concludes that, on average, it will end up paying out $1,000 on the policy. In addition to paying out on claims, the insurance company also has to pay salaries, rent on its office, and the like, so it offers to insure my house for one year at a price of $1,100. On average I am paying out a hundred dollars more than I am getting back, so why should I buy the insurance? The answer is that a dollar is not a dollar is not a dollar. If my house burns down, I am going to be much poorer than if it doesn’t, hence dollars will be worth much more to me

Spesso il concetto di avversione al rischio si confonde con quello di utilità marginale del denaro decrescente: io non stipulo certe polizze su eventi catastrofici a certe condizioni perché sono avverso al rischio ma perché se dovessi ritrovarmi privato di tutto il valore del primo dollaro che ricevo sarà per me enormemente più elevato rispetto al valore che ha un dollaro in più nel mio stipendio attuale.

E perché l’assicurazione perché stipula la polizza:

… Why is the insurance company willing to sell it? If the stockholders of the insurance company have the same pattern of tastes as I do, less value for additional dollars the more of them they have, why are they willing to accept my risk? The answer is that transferring risk does not eliminate it, but pooling risk does. With a large number of policies most of the uncertainty averages out. The insurance company that insures a hundred thousand houses can predict with considerable confidence that it will have to pay out on about a thousand fires a year…

L’assicurazione diversifica e quindi riduce il rischio.

Cio’ non toglie che per l’assicurazione ci siano dei problemi: se mi assicura dopo potrei comportarmi in modo scapestrato (tanto non pago). 

… The problem of moral hazard does not imply that insurance should not exist, but it does imply that insurance companies should and will try to design their policies in ways that reduce the problem. One way of doing so is to specify precautions the insured must take, such as installing an adequate sprinkler system… Another is for the insurance company itself to pay for some precautions, such as inspections… A less direct approach is coinsurance. The insurance company insures the factory for only part of its value. The lower the fraction insured, the more precautions it is in the interest of the owner to take…

Ora che sappiamo come funziona il rapporto assicuratore/assicurato il legislatore puo’ immaginare un contratto tipo tra la coca cola e il consumatore qualsiasi mal fine di attribuire ogni diritto a chi lo valuta di più. Ecco un caso:

… A legal rule that makes Coca-Cola responsible if a Coke bottle blows up is, in effect, mandatory insurance; Coca-Cola is insuring its customer against that particular risk. One disadvantage is that doing so reduces your incentive to be careful not to shake warm bottles of Coke. One advantage is that it increases Coca-Cola’s incentive to improve the quality control on their bottles…

Siamo in una situazione simile a quella dei treni e dei contadini. La soluzione puo’ quindi dipende dalla quantificazione specifica delle procedure per evitare il danno e dalla possibilità delle parti di contrattare.

In alternativa, la responsabilità potrebbe essere addossata interamente alla Coca cola poiché nella posizione migliore per contrattare: per esempio apponendo un messaggio sulla bottiglia che invita ad un comportamento prudente.

Il mercato delle auto usate è particolarmente soggetto al rischio e all’ inefficienza dovuta da selezione avversa (una macchina usata in vendita ha più probabilità di essere difettosa rispetto ad una macchina usata qualsiasi). Come consigliare il venditore onesto? Saperlo è importante per creare una legge efficiente.

… Sellers with cars in good condition could solve the problem by providing guarantees—any repairs in the first year to be paid by the seller. Their willingness to offer such guarantees would demonstrate that they believe their own claims about the car’s condition. Unfortunately, while a guarantee eliminates inefficiency due to adverse selection, it creates inefficiency due to moral hazard. The buyer, knowing that someone else will pay for repairs, has an inefficiently low incentive to take good care of the car…

Purtroppo la soluzione contrattuale non esiste, bisogna affidarsi alla reputazione (con i nuovi media è più facile).

Ci sono strategie anche per il compratore:

… A friend of mine who was looking for a used car devised an ingenious way of inducing sellers to reveal their private information. Having located a car he liked, he asked the seller if he was willing, for an additional payment, to provide a one-year guarantee. The seller declined. My friend continued looking. Eventually he found a car he liked whose seller was prepared to sell him a guarantee as well as a car. He bought the car—without the guarantee. This method works only if the seller does not know about it…

La responsabilità civile e il sistema della proprietà puniscono il “colpevole” dopo che ha commesso il danno. I criteri che adottano per individuare colpevole e punizioni li abbiamo visti. Che dire invece di quelle leggi che puniscono gli innocenti, ovvero coloro che non hanno commesso alcun danno né violato alcuna proprietà? Sembrerebbero non rientrare nello schema proposto.

… One approach punishes people for doing things that increase the probability of accidents ex ante: speeding, drunk driving, failing to get their brakes inspected

Pensiamo al caso del tentato omicidio: non crea alcun danno e non viola nessuna proprietà.

… For a less obvious example of the ex post/ex ante distinction, consider the puzzle of why we punish attempted murder. I shoot at you, and the bullet goes into a tree instead. Judged ex post, based on the damage done, there should be no punishment: Both you and the tree are fine…

Il fatto è che se sparate a qualcuno nell’intento di colpirlo rischiate di colpirlo sul serio. Così come rischiate incidenti se viaggiate a 135 all’ora in autostrada.

Punire i colpevoli ha i suoi vantaggi:

… The ex post approach has one important advantage over the ex ante: By making it in the driver’s interest to avoid accidents, it exploits his private knowledge of how to do so… Ex ante punishment makes it in my interest to take those precautions that the legal system, here represented by the legislature and the traffic cop, knows I should take and can tell if I am taking. Ex post punishment makes it in my interest to take any precautions that I know I should take and can tell if I am taking… The speed limit is the same for everyone, from the race car driver to the teenager with a brand-new license, because the traffic cop has no easy way of distinguishing competent drivers from incompetent ones

Le punizioni ex post sono anche molto più facili da osservare:

… The most dangerous thing I do in my car is to pay attention to my conversations with other people… but I have never gotten a ticket for it. Ex ante punishments can be imposed only on behavior that a traffic cop can observe…

Chi è incline a punire gli innocenti di solito viene chiamato “paternalista”:

… Ex ante punishment provides incentives based on the beliefs of the people making the laws; ex post provides incentives based on the beliefs of the people the law applies to. If I believe that I can drive just fine after a shot of whiskey and two beers, the knowledge that if I have an accident terrible things will happen to me provides no special reason to avoid driving when drunk. The knowledge that if I am stopped and fail the Breathalyzer exam I will go to jail does…

Un’alternativa possibile al paternalismo è l’informazione:

… If the legislators know facts about driving—that roads are especially slippery when it has just started to rain, for example—that drivers do not know, the legislators can (and do) pass that information on to the drivers in safety ads or in the booklet that everyone reads before taking his driver’s test…

Ma la funzione principale delle punizioni ex-ante è costituita dai limiti di solvibiità del danneggiante:

… To see the real advantage of ex ante punishments, consider two alternative patterns of punishment, each of which collects the same number of dollars. Under the pure ex ante rule you end up paying two hundred dollars in speeding tickets every year, and, if you injure someone else’s person or property in an accident, there is no penalty. Under the pure ex post rule there are no speed limits, and each year you have one chance in a thousand of being in an accident and having to pay a two hundred thousand dollar fine. Unfortunately, you don’t have two hundred thousand dollars in your bank account. So the result of an accident is that you forfeit everything you own, including your house, and must spend the next five years working sixty hours a week to pay back the rest of the fine… …

La punizione ex post a volte costituisce un costo netto:

… suppose the ex post fine necessary to give you an adequate incentive to avoid accidents is ten million dollars, and there is no way you can expect ever to pay that much… The obvious answer is to switch from fines to other sorts of punishments, such as execution or imprisonment…  if it is a liability payment, it goes to the victim. But if your punishment is execution, you lose a life and nobody gains one. If your punishment is imprisonment, you lose your liberty, and the rest of us have to pay for the jail… Here the relevant cost is not simply cost to the person being punished—imposing a cost on him is the point of the punishment, after all—but net cost on everyone affected, including the person punished, the people who collect fines, and the taxpayers who pay for prisons. It is net cost to everyone that is relevant to economic efficiency… the advantage of ex ante punishment is that it can be done efficiently, using relatively small fines imposed with relatively high probability…

Il problema è che anche se noi isoliamo la norma ex-ante più efficiente, chi la proporrà? E chi applicherà? Non esiste una persona interessata a farlo.

… One problem with all such systems is that even if we know what rule is efficient, it is not obvious that it is in the interest of legislators or (pace Posner) judges to set efficient rules. That observation suggests that it might be worth looking for other ways of generating efficient legal rules—in particular, an efficient mix of ex ante and ex post…

Una soluzione possibile al problema public choice: solo punizioni ex-post con assicurazione.

… Imagine that the optimal pure ex post system imposes a fine of two hundred thousand dollars for an accident, and that that is a fine that drivers can (barely) pay, making the problem one of risk aversion rather than the need to shift to less efficient punishments. We abolish all speed limits and similar regulations, set a two hundred thousand dollar fine, and permit drivers to insure against having to pay it

L’assicurazione promulgherà il codice della strada (laddove possibile personalizzato) e a gestirà i vigili. Rispetto all’autore politico avrà interesse ad un diritto efficiente. 

… One obvious approach to reducing the risk of fire is requiring sprinklers. One obvious approach to reducing the risk of accidents is requiring speed limits… Instead of enforcing laws, they enforce contracts… Under such a system the insurance company has an incentive to calculate the optimal tradeoff between ex post and ex ante…

Abbiamo visto che le punizioni ex ante possono essere razionali, come per esempio nel caso del tentato omicidio. E che dire del caso dell’omicidio impossibile, penso a quel tale che vuole uccidere infilando spilloni nella bambolina?

… But what if I am attempting murder by a method that never works, such as sticking pins in a voodoo doll? Should that be criminal? Should we punish impossible attempts?… The legal rule we are considering is Attempts by impossible means are not punishable…

Chi infila spilloni potrebbe presto conoscere metodi più efficaci, forse è meglio dargli una calmata:

… So a policy of punishing impossible attempts tends to deter real murders, murders with poison, by people who do not know whether what they think is poison will actually work…

La domanda centrale per l’economista che si occupa del diritto è sempre la stessa: è possibile una depenalizzazione universale dei reati? Se solo il civile ha pene efficienti (senza costi netti) perché non depenalizzare tutto?

La distinzione tra penale e civile porta a realtà processuali ridondanti poco comprensibili anche all’uomo della strada. 

O. J. Simpson was first acquitted of the crime of killing his wife and then convicted of the tort of killing his wife. In another, Michael Jackson was accused of child molestation. The civil case settled out of court, at which point the criminal case was dropped, presumably because the witnesses were no longer willing to testify … 

Perché il furto è considerato un crimine anziché una semplice infrazione? Perché esistono standard di prova diversi a seconda che l’illecito sia considerato civile o penale?

La depenalizzazione universale non è un’utopia visto che nella storia è già esistita:

… it is possible to have a functioning legal system in which all offenses are torts because the Icelanders had such a system, and it functioned for more than three centuries…

Nel penale è il PM a perseguire, nel civile è la vittima. Si dice che spesso la vittima potrebbe non avere sufficienti risorse per intraprendere questa attività. Ebbene, l’Islanda ha superato questo ostacolo:

… The victim of an offense may not have sufficient resources to prosecute it… This problem can be dealt with by making tort claims transferable, as was done in saga period Iceland. A victim with inadequate resources gives or sells his claim to someone better able to prosecute it…

E qui sorge un primo problema:

… Some offenses cause diffuse injury, so nobody has an adequate incentive to prosecute them…

Anche nel civile assistiamo però a danni diffusi, e i rimedi bene o male sono stati approntati:

… This is dealt with under current law by class actions. It could be better dealt with by making claims for torts that had not yet been litigated, including ones that had not yet occurred, transferable…

Un problema spinoso è quello degli insolventi: i danni prodotti da un crimine sono elevati, molti criminali non avrebbero comunque  mezzi per compensare la vittima la quale sarebbe disincentivata a perseguirli, in questo senso verrebbe a mancare la giusta deterrenza:

… If an offender is judgment-proof, there is no incentive for the victim to prosecute him, so prosecution must be by the state

Solo schiavitù ed espianto degli organi potrebbero far fronte a questo ostacolo:

… If convicted defendants who were unable to pay money damages could be sold into slavery or dismembered for organ transplants, fewer defendants would be judgment-proof … such unattractive outcomes would provide offenders an incentive to make sure they were able to pay…

C’è sempre l’alternativa che sia lo stato a risarcire:

The state could pay the fines of judgment-proof offenders to the victim/prosecutors, thus providing them an incentive to prosecute, and impose criminal punishments, thus deterring offenders. Such a bounty system, analogous to a voucher system for schooling (or the GI Bill, which was a voucher system for higher education), combines private prosecution with public funding…

Dopodiché, anche senza la prospettiva di un risarcimento, esiste pur sempre un incentivo a perseguire, quello di produrre deterrenza privata

… Consider an offense for which the average return from catching and punishing an offender is negative: It costs more to catch and convict him than the fine collected. In order for prosecutors to stay in business, victims must pay enforcers to take over their claims and prosecute them. The victims are still selling their claims but at a negative price… The reason to do so is deterrence. The victim wants potential offenders to know that if they commit an offense against him they risk punishment… This works for offenses for which it is possible to make deterrence a private good, such as burglary… It does not work for offenses that sell at a negative price for which deterrence cannot be made a private good because the offender does not know enough about the victim to be deterred—anonymous victim offenses. These were the sort of offenses—highway robbery

Si noti che il meccanismo della deterrenza privata è molto più efficace nel penale che nel civile:

… while the offenses we now classify as crimes are more likely than torts to be negative price offenses, they are less likely than torts to be anonymous victim offenses. A burglar deciding which house to burgle can choose to avoid houses with notices saying that their owners have paid in advance to have burglars prosecuted. A driver cannot readily adjust his level of care to take account of which other cars have notices on them saying that their owners have paid in advance to have drivers who run into them prosecuted…

Ci sono poi obiezioni più sofisticate, come quella formulata da Richard Posner:

… for any offense there exists some optimal amount and probability of punishment. But once we set the amount of punishment in a system with private prosecution we have no way of controlling the probability… An ideal public enforcement system, on the other hand, could set probability and punishment independently, making an ideal public enforcement system superior to even an ideal private one, at least in that respect….

In soldoni: poiché la pena ottima dipende dalla probabilità di cattura, se ci sono molti procuratori (privati) calcolare questa probabilità (e quindi anche la pena) diventa impossibile.

Una possibile risposta: istituire pene variabili a seconda della vittima (in sostanza “pene probabili”).

… The solution to this problem is for the legal system to set, not the punishment if convicted, but the expected punishment: fine paid times probability of conviction…

Va sempre ricordato che anche  se il sistema depenalizzato resterebbe inefficiente, per giudicarlo non dobbiamo confrontarlo con un sistema ideale ma con quello attuale.

C’è un motivo fondamentale per cui i criminali sono spesso “insolventi” e quindi punibili solo in modo inefficiente con costi netti:

… crimes, such as burglary, are hard to detect, so the optimal probability of conviction is low, so the fine must be high… crimes are intentional, so criminals are likely to spend resources concealing them…

Domani, nel mondo delle telecamere diffuse, la caccia al criminale sarà molto più facile e soprattutto “privatizzabile”, il che favorisce l’ipotesi di una depenalizzazione universale.

C’è poi il problema delle frodi e dei falsi colpevoli, come insegna la storia di un sistema depenalizzato come quello inglese dei secoli scorsi.

… Another important issue,  is the problem of deliberately fraudulent claims. Under any system in which offenses sell at a positive price, there is an incentive to manufacture them, to frame potential defendants… The English criminal system encountered this problem in the mid–eighteenth century. Because of concern that incentives for private prosecution were too low, the Crown established substantial rewards for successful prosecution of certain offenses such as highway robbery. The result was a series of scandals in which it appeared that the convicted offender either had been entrapped into committing the offense…

Il problema delle frodi forse spiega l’assenza nel civile di un moltiplicatore del danno (ovvero di un risarcimento suppletivo che compensi la possibilità di farla franca):

…  if victims of torts are successful litigants with probability less than one, as is surely the case, the result is an expected punishment predictably less than the damage done. The obvious solution is to add in a probability multiplier, to scale up the punishment of tortfeasors who are successfully sued to compensate for the failure to punish those who are not. One explanation for the lack of such probability multipliers is that they would be an invitation to fraud. Under current law someone is never better off as a result of being a victim of a tort; even if he successfully litigates it, all he gets is an amount sufficient to make up for the damage he has suffered…

Ma cosa caratterizza un crimine?

… Crimes have a high standard of proof, require intent, are guaranteed a jury trial, have punishments often much higher than the damage done, pay fines to the state rather than the victim, and so on…

Inoltre, la  commissione di un crimine degrada moralmente il colpevole (stigma sociale).

Ci si chiede se abbia senso che tutte queste caratteristiche vadano insieme.

La risposta è incasinata e i casi ambigui fioccano. Prendiamo il caso delle multe:

… Fines are used in criminal law, but they tend to be for offenses, such as speeding or illegal parking, that have some of the other characteristics of torts…

Lo standard di prova più elevato nel penale è spiegato dalla sua inefficienza:

The lower the cost of punishment, the lower the (net) cost of imposing it incorrectly. So it makes sense to combine less efficient punishments with a higher standard of proof…

Del resto, rendere efficiente il sistema penale lo mette a rischio frodi e barbarie (schiavitù ed espianto organi).

Anche lo stigma ha una sua spiegazione: quando le pene sono costose per la collettività e/o quando c’è rischio di insolvenza la pena dello stigma puo’ sopperire in molti modi.

Capire se sia più efficiente classificare un illecito come penale o come civile è un gran casino poiché bisogna valutare almeno tre fattori:

… Legal rules affect behavior on many margins. They affect incentives to commit offenses, incentives to prosecute them, and incentives to prevent them

Analizziamo, in un “mondo delle telecamere”, solo l’incentivo della vittima a prevenire: gli incidenti con pedoni dovrebbero essere un crimine e i furti in casa un illecito amministrativo.

Il caso dell’ investimento pedone:

… consider accidents in which a car runs into a pedestrian and only the pedestrian is injured. We may attempt to deter such accidents either with a tort rule, in which the driver of the automobile is liable to the victim for the damage done, or with a criminal rule, in which the driver pays a fine but the victim does not receive it. From the standpoint of the driver, the two rules (with the same penalty) generate the same incentive… Under the tort rule the pedestrian suffers no cost from being run into, since his damages are fully compensated by the driver. It follows that the pedestrian has no incentive to take precautions. Under the criminal rule, on the other hand, the pedestrian pays the full cost of the accident. It follows that he has the efficient incentive to take precautions to prevent it…

Furto in casa:

… Consider next burglary, still in a world of costless enforcement. The legal system sets the penalty for burglary equal to the damage done, the value of what is stolen… The textbook example is Posner’s hunter, lost and starving, who comes across a locked cabin in the woods, breaks in, feeds himself, and telephones for help…. In this world a homeowner who puts a lock on his door is wasting his own money and the burglar’s time…. The optimal level of precaution to prevent burglary is the same as the optimal level of precaution for a supermarket to take in preventing its customers from buying its vegetables: zero… Under a criminal rule, on the other hand, the criminal takes from the victim but repays the state, so the victim has an incentive to prevent the burglary… Hence, at least in the simplified world of costless enforcement and considering only the incentive of the victim to defend himself, burglary ought to be a tort…

Dall’analisi si ricavano due conclusioni. La prima:

… There is a set of offenses that are especially difficult for private enforcement to deal with: negative price offenses with anonymous victims. Such offenses provide a plausible argument against a pure tort system…

La seconda:

… The current sorting of offenses between the categories of crime and tort has at most a modest relation to what that analysis suggests would be an efficient division…

 

 

 

 

La famiglia secondo l’economista

In questo articolo mi pongo 5 domande chiave: 1) perché il matrimonio nella storia dell’uomo? 2) perché sempre più divorzi? 3) perché sempre più figli fuori dal matrimonio? 4) perché sempre meno figli? 5) cosa mettere al centro di una campagna per la natalità?

Qui mi limito alle risposte fornite dall’economista.

Perché il matrimonio?

Le relazioni intime sono difficili da dismettere: se durano una vita è un affarone per tutti. L’economista dice che in casi del genere i sunk cost sono elevati.

Che la dismissione delle relazioni intime sia costosa lo sa persino l’uomo informato dai giornali e che legge tutti i giorni di “femminicidi”. Bè, se solo andasse un po’ oltre ai giornali saprebbe anche quale catastrofe inattesa sia il divorzio tra persone non benestanti.

Ma c’è un altro motivo che rende il matrimonio conveniente: perché stipulare centomila contratti quando se ne puo’ stipulare uno; il matrimonio instaura un’ economia di scala sui quelli che l’economista chiama costi di transazione. E’ vero che il matrimonio implica obbligazioni generiche ma tra persone che si amano specificare non è necessario, di volta in volta la cosa verrà da sè. Tra estranei, al contrario, ogni piccola incombenza richiede estenuanti contrattazioni.

Perché i divorzi sono aumentati?

Un tempo il matrimonio era tra diversi (incastro), oggi è tra simili (accostamento).

Disincastrare è più costoso che scostare.

Ma perché oggi il matrimonio è tra simili?

Essenzialmente perché il costo del tradizionale lavoro femminile è collassato. Motivi: 1) elettrodomestici e 2) mercato esteso.

Mi sembra superfluo chiarire l’effetto degli elettrodomestici. D’altro canto, il mercato esteso genera specializzazione e quindi 1) baby sitter, donne delle pulizie… a basso costo e 2) lavori esterni alla famiglia e adatti alla donna (ricordiamoci che nell’era industriale la paga femminile era meno della metà di quella maschile, altro che gender gap…).

Poi c’è la questione del sesso. Un uomo si sposava anche per assicurarsi la sua razione quotidiana. Oggi, con l’aborto, la pillola, la prostituzione e la pornografia diffusa a costo zero il sesso senza matrimonio non è più un problema insormontabile.

Volendo accennare ad un altro fattore, pensiamo a come si lega lo stigma sociale con il problema del timing matrimoniale: nel matrimonio la donna dà di più all’inizio (quando i figli sono piccoli) mentre l’uomo da di più dopo (quando ha fatto carriera). Una situazione del genere si espone al rischio di tradimento: allorchè l’uomo è chiamato a contribuire, scappa con una tipa più giovane. Lo stigma di vigliaccheria che un tempo portava con sé un atto del genere è ormai acqua passata..

Perché aumentano i figli illegittimi?

Perchè il welfare ti paga per farli e tu li fai. Probabilmente anche la cultura incide: nei paesi cattolici il fenomeno è meno diffuso.

Obiezione: ma il fenomeno si presenta anche nei paesi con welfare scadente.

Possibile spiegazione: siccome le donne sono in numero sempre più superiore rispetto agli uomini, il loro potere contrattuale diminuisce cosicché non riescono a strappare promesse matrimoniali prima del rapporto sessuale.

Ma perché questa disparità nei numeri? Incidenti sul lavoro, criminalità, contrasto alla criminalità… : le imprese rischiose sono quasi sempre ad appannaggio dei maschi. Ebbene, prima compensava in buona parte la morte da parto, oggi che la morte da parto è in caduta libera la discrepanza nei numeri si allarga.

Naturalmente, in questa perdita di potere contrattuale femminile incide anche quanto dicevamo prima: l’accesso sempre più facilitato al sesso.

Perché così pochi figli?

Spiegazione dubbia: perché le donne oggi sono più forti nel matrimonio e  vogliono meno figli (non è vero, basta fare un sondaggio).

Spiegazione dubbia: perché le pensioni e gli altri strumenti finanziari sostituiscono il contributo dei figli (vero solo in parte, i figli sono sempre stati un costo netto per i genitori).

Spiegazione dubbia: perché la pillola consente di controllare le nascite (ma il calo demografico è cominciato ben dopo l’introduzione della pillola).

Spiegazione centrata: si ritiene che esita un trade-off tra qualità e quantità dei figli cosicché si opta per la prima sacrificando la seconda.

Corollario: la competizione sociale oggi è spesso una competizione tra genitori nell’offerta ostentata di molte opportunità ed esperienze ai figli. Solo con pochi figli si puo’ sperare di non sfigurare in una simile gara.

Su cosa dovrebbe puntare un’ eventuale campagna contro la denatalità?

Dovrebbe sfatare il mito del trade-off tra qualità e quantità dei figli. E’ questa superstizione ad innescare la perniciosa competizione tra genitori a suon di spese sterili (il vero spauracchio sottaciuto quando dobbiamo decidere se mettere al mondo un figlio). Bisognerebbe dire a chiare lettere che gran parte degli investimenti fatti sui figli costituisce un puro spreco di risorse. La persona razionale del XXI secolo investe MENO su ciascun figlio e ne fa di PIU’. Più figli più felicità… ma forse questo è un altro discorso.

 

 

 

 

 

Due motivi per non credere

Ci sono molti motivi per non credere in Dio, tra essi ne isolo un paio che trovo particolarmente rispettabili.

1

La fede è “ereditabile”, fin troppo. Il che la rende sospetta. Quel che credevano i nostri genitori finiamo per crederlo anche noi.

E’ ereditabile al punto che la crisi della famiglia coincide con la crisi del cristianesimo.

Francamente, la cosa mina l’attendibilità della credenza religiosa: ce ne sono troppe, troppo diverse ma soprattutto troppo concentrate geograficamente. Assomigliano a prodotti culturali piuttosto che a prodotti della ragione.

Non che l’ateismo sia risparmiato dall’argomento: anche questa credenza è ereditabile.

2

I credenti non aggiornano quasi mai la loro credenza, il che la rende altamente sospetta.

Una persona razionale aggiorna quotidianamente le sue credenze sulla base degli incontri che fa in giornata: tutto conta!

Ma se il credente non è una persona razionale non è nemmeno una persona attendibile.

Dio in laboratorio

IS GOD IN THE LAB?-The Scientist as Rebel (New York Review Books (Paperback)) by Freeman Dyson

Prendiamo due scienziati di vaglia per illustrare due modi molto differenti do vedere il legame tra fede e scienza.

Feynman e la religione: a lui interessava come la fede interagisce sul modo di fare ricerca…

… Feynman’s voice and personality come through clearly. He talks about real people and their problems, not about philosophical abstractions. He is interested in religion as a way for people to make sense of their lives, but he is not interested in theology…

Polkingkorne e la religione: a lui interessava il raccordo sostanziale tra dottrina cristiana e teorie della scienza…

… Polkinghorne has the opposite bias. He is a scientist who is also an ordained minister of the Church of England. To be ordained, he went through formal training in theology. For him, theology is as real and as serious as science…

P: religione e scienza come portatrici di ordine nella conoscenza…

… Polkinghorne has the opposite bias. He is a scientist who is also an ordained minister of the Church of England. To be ordained, he went through formal training in theology. For him, theology is as real and as serious as science…

P fa un parallelo tra due lotte per la verità nei due ambiti (scienza e fede): 1) meccanica quantistica e 2) la reale natura di Gesù…

… Polkinghorne compares two historic intellectual struggles, one from science and one from religion. From science he takes the discovery and development of quantum mechanics, a struggle that has lasted from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century. From religion he takes the theological understanding of the nature of Jesus, a struggle that lasted from the time when Saint Paul was writing his letters shortly after Jesus’ death to the modern era of diverse views and diminished certainties…

Per P. la conoscenza è unica…

… Polkinghorne argues from the detailed concordance of the two struggles that science and theology are two aspects of a single intellectual adventure. He sees theology as dealing with God in essentially the same way as science is dealing with nature…

Obiezione a P: forse non distingue al meglio tra parole e cose. Le prime dipendono dalla cultura, le seconde dalla natura…

… To share it, you must disregard a crucial difference between science and theology. When all is said and done, science is about things and theology is about words. Things behave in the same way everywhere, but words do not. Quantum mechanics works equally in all countries and in all cultures…

Trinità e Incarnazione sono parole senza senso in Giappone

… If you have not grown up in Polkinghorne’s culture, where words such as “incarnation” and “trinity” have a profound meaning, you cannot share his vision…

***

Per F. la religione è una stampella psicologica da rispettare…

… Feynman has no interest in scholastic arguments. He is concerned only with human problems. He has a deep respect for religion, because he sees it as helping people to behave well toward one another and to be brave in facing tragedy…

F: lo studente che crede soffre nel rapportarsi con la scienza, lui lo constata in prima persona insegnando fisica…

… He writes about students who come to college from homes where religious belief is strong, and then find that exposure to modern science is calling their beliefs into question. He has seen at first hand the anguish that some of these students experience…

Il credente tocca con mano un conflitto genuino da ricomporre.

La riconciliazione è possibile ma è una prova in più per il credente a cui deve riservare energie cognitive impiegabili altrove…

… Most Christian believers are able to reconcile their general belief in God and in the teachings of Jesus with a considerable skepticism about details…

***

Tra religione e scienza c’è probabilmente anche una filiazione storica. Solo il cristianesimo possiede una teologia analitica

… It is a curious accident of history that the Christian religion became heavily involved with theology. No other religion finds it necessary to formulate elaborately precise statements about the abstract qualities and relationships of gods and humans. There is nothing analogous to theology in Judaism or in Islam. I do not know much about Hinduism and Buddhism, but my Asian friends tell me that these religions also have no theology. They have beliefs and stories and ceremonies and rules…

La teologia cristiana, abituando al pensiero analitico, è la madre di molta scienza. Questo spiegherebbe perché la scienza è fiorita soprattutto nei paesi cristiani…

… The prominence of theology in the Christian world has had two important consequences for the history of science. On the one hand, Western science grew out of Christian theology. It is probably not an accident that modern science grew explosively in Christian Europe and left the rest of the world behind. A thousand years of theological disputes nurtured the habit of analytical thinking that could also be applied to the analysis of natural phenomena…

Senonché, oggi, la teologia potrebbe essere vista come un ingombro

… On the other hand, the close historical relations between theology and science have caused conflicts between science and Christianity that do not exist between science and other religions…. Polkinghorne writes books to prove to himself and to us that his theology and his science can live together harmoniously…

La teologia aggiunge: può essere vista sia come un ingombro che come il tentativo di rispondere a domande ulteriori.

Tuttavia, una cosa è certa: Gesù era un sapiente e la conoscenza è sempre stata ben vista nella tradizione cristiana…

… The Bible story tells us that when Jesus was twelve years old and his family was visiting Jerusalem, he seized the opportunity to spend three days talking with the learned doctors in the Temple, and all that heard him were astonished at his understanding. Whether that story is true or not, he must have had many opportunities to sharpen his understanding by talking with the learned doctors in Zippori….

Cafarnao. Un centro di pescatori illetterati? No, un centro di cultura greca…

… After visiting Capernaum, I no longer think of Peter and Andrew as simple fishermen. I think of them as young men about town, who made a living by fishing but were also immersed in the Greek culture of the city. ..

Gesù era uomo colto

… Jesus was no simple peasant, but grew up in intimate contact with an urban and overwhelmingly Greek culture…

San Paolo era uomo colto…

… the man who took charge of the new religion, Saint Paul of Tarsus, was a thoroughly Hellenized Jew. Saint Paul preached to the learned men of Athens in their own language. In his writings he laid the foundations for what became orthodox Christian doctrine…

Si fa presto allora a parlare di raccordo tra scienza e fede. Il cristianesimo, per esempio, può essere vissuto in due modi completamente diversi. Il termine “religione” non ne coglie la complessità…

… This history has left Western civilization with a strangely divided legacy. On the one hand, the religion of Jesus as we find it in his teachings recorded in the gospels, a religion for ordinary people trying to find their way in a harsh world. On the other hand, the theology that turned the Christian religion into a demanding intellectual discipline, a breeding ground for scholars and ultimately for scientists. Feynman is writing about the first, Polkinghorne about the second…

Tra gli evangelisti solo Giovanni omaggia l’ approccio intellettualistico. Sarà soprattutto la teologia successiva a celebrarlo…

… The fourth gospel, the Gospel of Saint John, shows us a very different Jesus, much more Greek in spirit…

Il Male paga

The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith

Forse il potere non ci sembrerà più così terribile una volta comprese le sue leggi…

… Daily we hear of frauds, chicanery, and double-dealing by corporate executives, new lies, thefts, cruelties and even murders perpetrated by government leaders. We cannot help but wonder what flaws of culture, religion, upbringing, or historical circumstance explain the rise of these malevolent despots, greedy Wall Street bankers, and unctuous oil barons…

Crederlo corrotto è la tipica autoconsolazione dei diseredati.

In realtà il potere non è corrotto. Molto più semplicemente ha le sue regole.

Sono i giornali ha privilegiare la “narrazione” rispetto all’approccio analitico. Sono loro ad indurre in errore.

Credete davvero che dei “falliti” possano avere tanto successo senza che dietro di loro non ci sia nulla?…

… How do tyrants hold on to power for so long?… Equally, we may well wonder: Why are Wall Street executives so politically tone-deaf that they dole out billions in bonuses while plunging the global economy into recession? Why is the leadership of a corporation, on whose shoulders so much responsibility rests, decided by so few people? Why are failed CEOs retained and paid handsomely even as their company’s shareholders lose their shirts?…

Il potere ha le sue regole e se proprio vogliamo giudicare gli uomini teniamo conto delle forze che governano le loro azioni.

Siete proprio sicuri che voi non avreste mai potuto essere un Geddafi?…

… We are confident that we would never act like Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi who bombed his own people to keep himself in power. We look at the huge losses suffered under Kenneth Lay’s leadership by Enron’s employees, retirees, and shareholders and think we aren’t like Kenneth Lay…

Solo l’ignorante stupisce di certi comportamenti che a lui paiono estremi

… We’re still surprised by the prevalence of drought-induced food shortages in Africa, 3,500 years after the pharaohs worked out how to store grain. We’re still shocked by the devastation of earthquakes and tsunamis in places like Haiti, Iran, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, and by the seemingly lesser intensity of such natural disasters in North America and Europe. We’re still troubled by the friendly handshakes and winks exchanged between democratic leaders and the tyrants that they somehow justify empowering…

Il nostro tentativo sarà di dare senso a tutto questo, di spiegare le leggi della politica. Ovvero, il gioco che giocano i potenti. La logica e l’evidenza saranno la nostra guida.

Dipingeremo un quadretto poco piacevole, forniremo una panoramica poco rassicurante, ma tant’è.

***

Tesi: comportarsi male rende bene, in politica.

Una piccola storia di grande avidità in un paesino americano, Bell Town – e parliamo di politica, non di psicologia…

… Robert Rizzo is a former city manager of the small town of Bell (population about 36,600). Bell, a suburb of Los Angeles, is a poor, mostly Hispanic and Latino town. Per capita income may be as low as $10,000 or as high as $25,000—estimates vary—but either way it is way below both the California and national average… Despite its many challenges, Bell consistently outperforms other California communities in keeping violent crime and property crime below average. A cursory glance at Bell’s official website suggests a thriving, happy community brimming over with summer classes, library events, water play, and fun-filled family trips… In 2010, Bell’s then-mayor, Oscar Hernandez (later jailed on corruption charges), said the town had been on the verge of bankruptcy in 1993 when Rizzo (also ultimately charged with corruption) was hired. For fifteen consecutive years of Rizzo’s leadership, up until he stepped down in 2010, the city’s budget had been balanced. Hernandez credits Rizzo with making the town solvent and helping to keep it that way… Behind the idyllic façade, however, lies a story that embodies how politics really works. You see, Robert Rizzo, hired at $72,000 a year in 1993, and in his job for seventeen years before being forced to step down in the summer of 2010, at the end of his tenure was earning a staggering $787,000 per year…. almost exactly the return promised by Bernie Madoff, the master Ponzi schemer… Robert Rizzo was indeed credited with doing a good job for Bell, but was it really that good?… Jerry Brown, promised an investigation to find out if any laws had been violated. The implicit message in his action was clear enough: No one would pay a small town city manager nearly $800,000 a year… The actual story is one of clever (and reprehensible) political maneuvering implicitly sanctioned by Bell’s voters… Cities comparable to Bell pay their council members an average of $4,800 a year. But four of Bell’s five council members received close to $100,000 a year through the simple mechanism of being paid not only their (minimal) base council salaries but also nearly $8,000 per month to sit on city agency boards… How can we possibly explain these disparities… The answers lie in a clever manipulation of election timing… 2005 special election to convert Bell from a “general city” to a “charter city.”… decisions are made in the open daylight in general cities and often in secret, behind closed doors in charter cities… The selling point of the change to charter city was to give Bell greater autonomy from decisions by distant state officials…. special election, associated with no other ballot decisions, attracted fewer than 400 voters… vast discretion over taxing and spending decisions to a tiny group of people… As of this writing all of the principal players in Bell’s scandal have been jailed, but not for their lavish salaries. As reprehensible as these may have been, it seems they were perfectly legal. No, they were jailed for receiving payments for meetings that allegedly never took place… one might describe as a legal technicality…. You may well wonder how a little town like Bell could balance its budget—one of Mr. Rizzo’s significant accomplishments—while paying such high salaries… Remember, the town’s leaders got to choose not only how to spend money but also how much tax to levy. And did they ever tax their constituents…. In plain and simple terms, Bell’s property tax was about 50 percent higher than nearby communities. With such high taxes, the city manager and council certainly could pay big salaries and balance the budget,… In the city, council members are elected, although their election was not contested for many years before 2007…

Morale: se fare il cattivo rende, prima o poi farai il cattivo.

Ogni tentazione non rimane a lungo inviolata. Un biglietto da 100 euro non resta a lungo sul marciapiede.

La prima lezione di Bell Town

… First, politics is about getting and keeping political power. It is not about the general welfare of “We, the people.”…

Seconda lezione:

… Second, political survival is best assured by depending on few people to attain and retain office…

I dittatori non sono mai soli: sono appoggiati da un gruppetto allargato di parecchie persone.

I governanti democratici non fanno gruppo con i loro elettori: si appoggiano ad una cerchia ristretta di persone.

Ergo: dittatori e governanti democratici si somigliano più di quanto vorremmo.

E’ la famosa “teoria delle élite” di Gaetano Mosca.

Terza lezione…

… Third, when the small group of cronies knows that there is a large pool of people waiting on the sidelines, hoping to replace them in the queue for gorging at the public trough, then the top leadership has great discretion over how revenue is spent and how much to tax….

Altra lezione: gli interessi dominano l’ideologia…

… One important lesson we will learn is that where politics are concerned, ideology, nationality, and culture don’t matter all that much… When addressing politics, we must accustom ourselves to think and speak about the actions and interests of specific, named leaders rather than thinking and talking about fuzzy ideas like the national interest, the common good, and the general welfare… Politics, like all of life, is about individuals…

***

La politica è mossa da leggi ben precise: su questo punto anche grandi pensatori sono andati in confusione… con qualche piccola giustificazione…

… people like Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, James Madison, and Charles-Louis de Secondat (that is, Montesquieu), not to forget Plato and Aristotle, thought about government mostly in the narrow context of their times….

La confusione di Hobbes

… Hobbes sought the best form of government. His search, however, was blinded by his experience of the English civil war, the rise of Cromwell, and his fear of rule by the masses. Fearing the masses, Hobbes saw monarchy as the natural path to order and good governance. Believing in the necessary benevolence of an absolute leader, the Leviathan, he also concluded that, “no king can be rich, nor glorious, nor secure, whose subjects are either poor, or contemptible, or too weak through want, or dissension, to maintain a war against their enemies.”…

Con Machiavelli si migliora…

… Machiavelli, an unemployed politician/civil servant who hoped to become a hired hand of the Medici family—that is, perhaps the Robert Rizzo of his day—wrote The Prince to demonstrate his value as an adviser… He had, we believe, a better grasp than Hobbes…

Montesquieu fuori strada…

… For Montesquieu, the Enlightenment, the new Cartesian thinking, and the emerging constitutional monarchy of Britain all combined to stimulate his insightful ideas of political checks and balances. Through these checks and balances he hoped to prevent exactly the corruption of public welfare… the option of forming a charter city was motivated, in theory, exactly by a quest for checks and balances…

Altri autori in confusione…

… Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, and John Rawls…

Più realismo e meno moralismo. signori!…

***

Quando pensiamo alla guerra dobbiamo chiederci…

… What are the consequences for leaders and their regimes when a war is lost?…

Non lo facciamo mai, abbiamo il brutto vizio di metterci nei panni dello stato anziché dei suoi governanti. Ma lo stato non esiste! Esistono solo i suoi governanti…

… This question hadn’t been asked because the standard ideas about war and peace were rooted in notions about states, the international system, and balances of power and polarity, and not in leader interests… Even the term “international relations” presumes that the subject is about nations… States don’t have interests. People do… The prime mover of interests in any state (or corporation for that matter) is the person… the self-interested calculations…

Per questo non capiamo niente. Eludiamo le questioni centrali…

… And what, for a leader, is the “best” way to govern? The answer to how best to govern: however is necessary first to come to power, then to stay in power, and to control as much national (or corporate) revenue as possible all along the way….

***

In politica ci sono alcune regole di base: primo, nessun leader governa da solo…

… To understand politics properly, we must modify one assumption in particular: we must stop thinking that leaders can lead unilaterally. No leader is monolithic… stop thinking that North Korea’s Kim Jong Il can do whatever he wants… Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or Genghis Khan…

L’esempio del Re Sole

… Consider France’s Louis XIV (1638–1715). Known as the Sun King, Louis reigned as monarch for over seventy years, presiding over the expansion of France and the creation of the modern political state…. He was certainly one of the preeminent rulers of his or any time. But he didn’t do it alone. The etymology of monarchy may be “rule by one,” but such rule does not, has not, and cannot exist… After the death of his father, Louis XIII (1601–1643), Louis rose to the throne when he was but four years old. During the early years actual power resided in the hands of a regent—his mother. Her inner circle helped themselves to France’s wealth, stripping the cupboard bare. By the time Louis assumed actual control over the government in 1661, at the age of twenty-three, the state over which he reigned was nearly bankrupt….

La lealtà si compra, è vero oggi come ieri…

… When debt exceeds the ability to pay, the problem for a leader is not so much that good public works must be cut back, but rather that the incumbent doesn’t have the resources necessary to purchase political loyalty from key backers. Bad economic times in a democracy mean too little money to fund pork-barrel projects that buy political popularity… He moved quickly to expand the opportunities (and for a few, the actual power) of new aristocrats, called the noblesse de robe. Together with his chancellor, Michel Le Tellier, he acted to create a professional, relatively meretricious army. In a radical departure from the practice observed by just about all of his neighboring monarchs, Louis opened the doors to officer ranks—even at the highest levels—to make room for many more than the traditional old-guard military aristocrats, the noblesse d’épée. In so doing, Louis was converting his army into a more accessible, politically and militarily competitive organization. Meanwhile, Louis had to do something about the old aristocracy. He was deeply aware of their earlier disloyalty as instigators and backers of the antimonarchy Fronde (a mix of revolution and civil war) at the time of his regency. To neutralize the old aristocracy’s potential threat, he attached them—literally—to his court, compelling them to be physically present in Versailles much of the time. This meant that their prospects of income from the crown depended on how well favored they were by the king… Thus he erected a system of “absolute” control whose success depended on the loyalty of the military, the new aristocrats, and on tying the hands of the old aristocrats so that their welfare translated directly into his welfare… Louis’s strategy was to replace the “winning coalition” of essential supporters that he inherited with people he could more readily count on. In place of the old guard he brought up and into the inner circle members of the noblesse de robe and even, in the bureaucracy and especially in the military, some commoners… Like all leaders, Louis forged a symbiotic relationship with his inner circle…

Quindi: nessuno governa da solo. La politica è politica di alleanza, anche quella dei dittatori.

***

Ma chi sceglie un leader?

C’è chi lo sceglie nominalmente

… For leaders, the political landscape can be broken down into three groups of people: the nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and the winning coalition. The nominal selectorate includes every person who has at least some legal say in choosing their leader….

C’è chi – nei processi di scelta – fa la differenza nella sostanza…

… The second stratum of politics consists of the real selectorate. This is the group that actually chooses the leader…

E c’è poi una ristretta cerchia che lo seleziona materialmente…

… The most important of these groups is the third, the subset of the real selectorate that makes up a winning coalition. These are the people whose support is essential if a leader is to survive in office…

Esempio USA

… In the United States, the voters are the nominal selectorate—interchangeables . As for the real selectorate—influentials—the electors of the electoral college really choose the president (just like the party faithful picked their general secretary back in the USSR), but the electors nowadays are normatively bound to vote the way their state’s voters voted, so they don’t really have much independent clout in practice. In the United States, the nominal selectorate and real selectorate are therefore pretty closely aligned… The winning coalition—essentials—in the United States is the smallest bunch of voters, properly distributed among the states, whose support for a candidate translates into a presidential win in the electoral college…

Esempio Corea del Nord

… Looking elsewhere we see that there can be a vast range in the size of the nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and the winning coalition. Some places, like North Korea, have a mass nominal selectorate in which everyone gets to vote—it’s a joke, of course—a tiny real selectorate who actually pick their leader, and a winning coalition that surely is no more than maybe a couple of hundred people (if that) and without whom even North Korea’s first leader, Kim Il Sung, could have been reduced to ashes…

Questo vale in politica come nelle multinazionali. Pensa a dove lavori…

… Think about the company you work for. Who is your leader? Who are the essentials whose support he or she must have? What individuals, though not essential to your CEO’s power, are nonetheless influential in the governance of the company?…

***

Una volta introdotti questi tre elettorati, possiamo dire che i governi differiscono per come differiscono questi tre fattori: nessun governo è uguale all’altro, persino se restiamo nello stesso paese…

… Governments do not differ in kind. They differ along the dimensions of their selectorates and winning coalitions… No question, it is tough to break the habit of talking about democracies and dictatorships as if either of these terms is sufficient to convey the differences across regimes, even though no two “democracies” are alike and neither are any two “dictatorships.”… The truth is, no two governments or organizations are exactly alike… Changing the relative size of interchangeables, influentials, and essentials can make a real difference in basic political outcomes…

Esempio della municipalità di San Francisco

… As an example, we can look to the seemingly prosaic election of members of San Francisco’s board of supervisors. San Francisco used to elect its board of supervisors in citywide elections. That meant that the selectorate consisted of the city’s voters, and the essentials were the minimum number needed to elect a member to the board. In 1977 the method changed, and at-large, citywide elections were replaced by district voting… Under the new rules, they were elected by and represented their district… The policy and candidate preferences of San Francisco residents as a whole were little different between 1975 and 1977—nevertheless in 1975 a candidate named Harvey Milk failed in his bid to be elected to the board, but went on to be elected in 1977 (and tragically assassinated not long after). As Time magazine reported later, Harvey Milk was “the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet.”2 What changed in Harvey Milk’s favor between 1975 and 1977 was simple enough. In 1975, he needed broad-based support among San Francisco’s influentials to get elected. He got 52,996 votes. This meant he finished seventh in the election of supervisors, with the top five being elected. Milk did not have enough support, and so he lost. In 1977 he only needed support within the neighborhood from which he ran, the Castro, a dominantly gay area. He was, as he well knew, popular within his district. He received 5,925 votes, giving him a plurality of support with 29.42 percent of the vote in district 5, which placed him first in the 5th Supervisory District contest and so he was elected…

***

In democrazia le alleanze sono vaste ed è difficile comprarsele col denaro (bene privato)…

… In a democracy, or any other system where a leader’s critical coalition is excessively large, it becomes too costly to buy loyalty through private rewards. The money has to be spread too thinly…

Si agisce allora sui beni pubblici: la loro realizzazione garantirà rendite diffuse a categorie diffuse di persone, al contempo beneficerà il grande pubblico…

… In a democracy, or any other system where a leader’s critical coalition is excessively large, it becomes too costly to buy loyalty through private rewards. The money has to be spread too thinly… dictators, monarchs, military junta leaders, and most CEOs all rely on a smaller set of essentials. As intimated by Machiavelli, it is more efficient for them to govern by spending a chunk of revenue to buy the loyalty of their coalition through private benefits, even though these benefits come at the expense of the larger taxpaying public or millions of small shareholders. Thus small coalitions encourage stable, corrupt, private-goods-oriented regimes… those who rule based on a large coalition cannot efficiently sustain themselves in power by focusing on private benefits. Their bloc of essential supporters is too large for that. Since they must sustain themselves by emphasizing public goods more than private rewards, they must also keep tax rates low, relatively speaking… But when the coalition of essential backers is small and private goods are an efficient way to stay in power, then the well-being of the broader population falls by the wayside… In this setting leaders want to tax heavily, redistributing wealth by taking as much as they can from the poor interchangeables and the disenfranchised,…

I vantaggi del potere in carica

… Incumbents have a tough job. They need to offer their supporters more than any rival can. While this can be difficult, the logic of politics tells us that incumbents have a huge advantage over rivals, especially when office holders rely on relatively few people…

Esempio dell’ URSS

… This explains why, from the October 1917 Revolution through to Gorbachev’s reforms in the late 1980s, only one Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, was successfully deposed in a coup. All the other Soviet leaders died of old age or infirmity. Khrushchev failed to deliver what he promised to his cronies….

La silurazione dei fedelissimi, alcuni esempi…

… Lest there be doubt that those who share the risks of coming to power often are then thrown aside—or worse—let us reflect on the all-too-typical case of the backers of Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba. Of the twenty-one ministers appointed by Castro in January 1959, immediately after the success of his revolution, twelve had resigned or had been ousted by the end of the year. Four more were removed in 1960 as Castro further consolidated his hold on power. These people, once among Fidel’s closest, most intimate backers, ultimately faced the two big exes of politics. For the luckier among them, divorce from Castro came in the form of exile. For others, it meant execution. This includes even Castro’s most famous fellow revolutionary, Che Guevara… In a very real sense Che followed in the shadows of Frank Pais, Camilo Cienfuegos, Huber Matos, and Humberto Sori Marin [all close backers of Castro during the revolution]. Like them, he was viewed by Castro as a ‘competitor’ for power… Political transitions are filled with examples of supporters who help a leader to power only to be replaced… If a small bloc of backers is needed and it can be drawn from a large pool of potential supporters (as in the small coalition needed in places like Zimbabwe, North Korea, or Afghanistan), then the incumbent doesn’t need to spend a huge proportion of the regime’s revenue to buy the coalition’s loyalty…

Regola 1 nella presa del potere: più ristretta è la “cerchia ristretta”, meglio è…

… Rule 1: Keep your winning coalition as small as possible. A small coalition allows a leader to rely on very few people to stay in power. Fewer essentials equals more control and contributes to more discretion over expenditures….

Regola due: più ampia è la base formale, meglio è…

… Rule 2: Keep your nominal selectorate as large as possible. Maintain a large selectorate of interchangeables and you can easily replace any troublemakers in your coalition, influentials and essentials alike. After all, a large selectorate permits a big supply of substitute…

Regola 3: controllare il denaro

… Rule 3: Control the flow of revenue. It’s always better for a ruler to determine who eats than it is to have a larger pie from which the people can feed themselves. The most effective cash flow for leaders is one that makes lots of people poor and redistributes money to keep select people—their supporters—wealthy…

Regola 4: pagare gli alleati

… Rule 4: Pay your key supporters just enough to keep them loyal. Remember, your backers would rather be you than be dependent on you. Your big advantage over them is that you know where the money is and they don’t….

Regola 5: non colpire gli alleati

… Rule 5: Don’t take money out of your supporter’s pockets to make the people’s lives better….

In un regime democratico la valenza di queste regole si presenta indebolita…

… As we’ll see throughout the chapters to follow, a democratic leader does indeed have a tougher time maintaining her position while looting her country and siphoning off funds…

Ma le regole continuano a valere…

… Why, for example, does Congress gerrymander districts? Precisely because of Rule 1: Keep the coalition as small as possible. Why do some political parties favor immigration? Rule 2: Expand the set of interchangeables. Why are there so many battles over the tax code? Rule 3: Take control of the sources of revenue. Why do Democrats spend so much of that tax money on welfare and social programs? Or why on earth do we have earmarks? Rule 4: Reward your essentials at all costs…. Just like autocrats and tyrants, leaders of democratic nations follow these rules because they, like every other leader, want to get power and keep it….

***

In politica la corruzione spesso paga e fare il bene della gente spesso non paga affatto.

Ma sia chiaro: nel momento in cui parliamo di “leggi della politica” il termine corruzione perde ogni valenza morale e si trasforma.

La massima di Acton è vera in questo senso…

… we will see that Lord Acton’s adage, “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” holds… The causal ties run both ways: power leads to corruption and corruption leads to power…

Chi non è pronto per il gioco della corruzione, non è pronto alla politica…

… anyone reluctant to be a brute will not last long if everyone knows he is unprepared to engage…

O paghi tu o pago io…

… if they don’t pay their backers to do terrible things, they can be pretty confident that those cronies will be bought off…

Gengis

… Genghis Khan (1162–1227) understood this principle. If he came across a town that did not immediately surrender to him, he killed everyone that lived there, and then made sure the next town knew he had done so… They worked out that things would be better for them by giving up, turning their wealth over to him, and accepting that the Mongols would then pass through… True, he doesn’t have the greatest reputation in the West (although he is revered in his homeland of Mongolia), but he most assuredly was a successful leader…

Enrico V…

… It is fair to say that England’s Henry V has a better reputation than Genghis Khan.1 His Saint Crispin’s day speech in Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, is received even by the modern reader with passion and admiration. We sometimes forget that Henry was capable of brutality… Shakespeare had him announce, in a properly brutal leader’s terms, what he would do if the town’s governor did not surrender: If I begin the battery once again, I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur Till in her ashes she lie buried. The gates of mercy shall be all shut up, And the flesh’d soldier, rough and hard of heart, In liberty of bloody hand shall range With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants…. What say you? will you yield, and this avoid, Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy’d? 2 Fortunately for Harfleur, on hearing Henry’s words, the governor surrendered…

Il primo obbiettivo del politico: prendere il potere e conservarlo.

Il politico non è semplicemente egoista, non si accontenta di “ottenere”. Vuole qualcosa di specifico: il potere.

Prima di ringraziare l’elettorato sostanziale bisogna ringraziare chi ci ha selezionato. Prima di ricompensare l’elettorato formale bisogna compensare quello sostanziale. Ci sono delle precedenze da rispettare, e a volte alla fine non resta nulla.

Per ricompensare si trasferiscono beni privati o si istituiscono beni pubblici garantendo privilegi. Le alleanze ristrette prediligono la prima dorma (più maneggevole), le alleanze allargate (tipiche delle democrazie) la seconda.

Saper vedere chi nostri tre elettorati, saper distinguere a che categoria appartengono (nominali, sostanziali, selettori) e saperli compensare: questo consente l’ascesa del politico.