You are here


Rainfall? ..... Seriously? ..... Rainfall?

Submitted by Roanman on Tue, 04/12/2011 - 16:42


Wanna know why some of these countries just flat can't get it together when it comes to creating a democratic society?

Just what the hell is their problem?

Is it culture?






The following is the opening paragraph from a paper by Stephen Haber and Victor A. Menaldo titled Rainfall, Human Capital and Democracy.

The map comes from World Climate Maps.

The entire 59 page paper which by the way I read (I would not lie ..... about reading) can be accessed here.

You have to fool around joining up and stuff, but it's free and seemingly spam free.


Why are some societies characterized by enduring democracy while other societies are persistently autocratic?

We show that there is a systematic, non-linear relationship between rainfall levels and regime types in the post-World War II world:

stable democracies overwhelmingly cluster in a band of moderate rainfall (550 to 1300 mm of precipitation per year); persistent autocracies overwhelmingly cluster in deserts and semi-arid environments (0 to 550 mm per year) and in the tropics (above 1300 mm per year).



We also show that rainfall does not work on regime types directly, but does so through the its impact on the level and distribution of human capital. Specifically, crops that are both easily storable and exhibit modest economies of scale in production grow well under moderate amounts of rainfall.

The modal production unit is a family farm that can accumulate surpluses. In such an economy there are incentives to make intergenerational investments in human capital. A high level and broad distribution of human capital makes democratic consolidation more likely.


Here are some excerpts from the paper.


Briefly stated, the world’s liberal democracies are situated in climate zones where the level of rainfall permitted the advent of an agricultural system based on grains and legumes, which are characterized both by a high degree of storability and modest economies of scale in production.

Conversely, high storability and small minimum efficient scales of production do not characterize the crops that can be grown in other climate zones. In deserts, it is not possible to grow anything, except under special circumstances that dramatically raise the scale of production—a subject to which we shall return at some length.

It is, of course, possible to grow food in the tropics—but what can be grown either has very low degrees of storability (e.g. tree crops, such as bananas) or is characterized by extremely large scale economies in production (e.g. sugar cane).

Those specific features of grains and legumes created conditions that favored societies composed of family farmers, as opposed to societies composed of nomadic Bedouins or coerced plantation workers.

High storability and small minimum efficient scales of production generated surpluses that could not be arrogated by political elites bent on political centralization. This structure of agricultural production therefore created incentives for economic specialization, trade, and inter-generational investments in human capital.


Over the course of long periods of time those outcomes of an agricultural system based on storable crops with modest scale economies in production gave rise to societies characterized by high levels and broad distributions of human capital.
These characteristics are conducive to democratic consolidation because democracies tend to flourish when citizens are evenly matched in terms of education, political sophistication, and social standing.
When they are not, “free and fair elections” can lead to a tyranny of the majority—a point first made by Aristotle, but echoed by generations of scholars since.
Elites are not, as Acemoglu and Robinson (2006) point out, sheep to be fleeced: the threat of a tyranny of the majority causes them to either resist democratization or undermine it.
Moreover, when democracy arises in a social structure characterized by high levels and broad distributions of human capital, citizens are better able to monitor and discipline politicians, holding them accountable and incentivizing them to provide public goods that strengthen democracy.

Indeed, the first democracies—both in antiquity and in the modern era—were not only located in this band of moderate rainfall, but they emerged out of societies composed of citizens who not only had attained high average levels of education but who were relatively equally matched in terms of their educational endowment and sophistication.

Colonial New England is, of course, the archetype: a society of highly literate, family farmers.

What was true about New England was also true, however, about Ancient Athens, 17th Century Holland, 18th Century England, and 19th Century Canada.


To quote Thomas Jefferson

Submitted by Roanman on Sat, 05/02/2009 - 13:46


Most bad government has grown out of too much government.

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

 The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.

 I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.

I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

 Every citizen should be a soldier.  This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.

 The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army.

For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.

 Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

Sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of our fellow citizens to accumulate treasure for wars to happen we know not when, and which might not perhaps happen but from the temptations offered by that treasure.

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations...entangling alliances with none.

We must do our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies.

I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

The two principles on which our conduct towards the Indians should be founded, are justice and fear.  After the injuries we have done them, they cannot love us.

No defender of slavery,  I concede that it has its benevolent aspects in lifting the Negro from savagery and helping prepare him for that eventual freedom which is surely written in the Book of Fate.

 The rights of human nature are deeply wounded by this infamous practice of slavery.

 The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.  Our children see this, and learn to imitate it.

 The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I.

 The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

 Information is the currency of democracy.

 Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.

 The most truthful part of a newspaper is the advertisements.

 The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

 The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

 It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood.

The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being.

The freedom of the press is on of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by a despotic government.

History has informed us that bodies of men as well as individuals are susceptible of the spirit of tyranny.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

 Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.

 Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.

The tax which will be paid for the purpose of education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

Take not from the mouth of labor the bread it as earned.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.

I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

The authors of the gospels were unlettered and ignorant men and the teachings of Jesus have come to us mutilated, misstated and unintelligible.

The Christian God is a being of terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust.

Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.

Religions are all alike -- founded upon fables and mythologies.

The way to silence religious disputes is to take no notice of them.

I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.

On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.

In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty.

 All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution.

Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

All the world would be Christian if they were taught the pure Gospel of Christ!

Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christians.

 Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.

Almighty God hath created the mind free.

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

I am an Epicurean.  I consider the genuine doctrines of Epicurius as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greek and Roman leave to us.

I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.

It is more honorable to repair a wrong than to persist in it.

Never spend your money before you have earned it.

Money, not morality, is the principle of commerce and commercial nations.

Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

The man who fears no truth has nothing to fear from lies.

He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time till at length it becomes habitual.

On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.

The most valuable of all talents is never using two words when one will do.

The execution of the laws is more important than the making them.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

If Americans ever allow banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless.

Agriculture, manufactures, commerce and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.

Equal rights for all, special privileges for none.

The best principles of our republic secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights.

The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.

In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

 A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government.



Subscribe to RSS - Government