Looking back at the history of continental Europe, it looks to me we can either have bureaucracy or bureaucracy plus war. Pick one. That being said, it’s not so clear to me what went wrong with the EU vaccination strategy. (Admittedly, I haven’t been following it closely.) EU did pretty well in its own area, that is coordination. It managed to get the authority to act on behalf of the member states and prevent bidding wars that would otherwise end up with all the vaccines going to Germany and none to Bulgaria. It (as far as I understand) signed cheapskate contracts with the pharma companies and once it became clear that all the contracts cannot be fulfilled the companies have chosen to serve the more lucrative customers first. But on the other hand, I am not sure whether the countries that paid more did consider it a victory back then. It may as well be that they’ve got lucky just because they had lousy negotiators. Anyway, none of this is related to bureaucracy. The Astra-Zeneca blood clot hysteria, I believe, was a matter of local governments. The only related statements by EU I remember were those declaring the vaccine safe. The vaccination itself is managed by local governments and the problems can not be blamed on EU. The only obvious blunder that comes to mind was the one with threatening to block export of the vaccines to Norther Ireland, but they’ve backtracked pretty fast on that one.
Thanks for the feedback!
Unfortunately, the article is mess partly because the events back then were a mess and the entire topic seems to be under-researched. For example, I don’t think there’s any kind of official narrative for the early history of the EU. Popular understanding, I think, is that WWII was followed by the postwar boom. The entire dark period of 1945-1950 kind of went down the memory hole. (But I’m from the Ostblok, so maybe kids in the West were taught more about it.)
Anyway, I’ve added couple of links at the end of the article, but again, the events back then were complex and confusing, the resources are in multiple languages etc.
If I knew. Different international organizations exhibit different kind of failures. For example, for UN it may be the failure to agree, but for EU, as the recent vaccination story shows, agreement can be achieved, but execution may lack. The problem is compounded by the fact that institutions evolve in lockstep with the common knowledge (trust in the institutions and such) and thus exactly the same institutional design may produce vastly different results when applied to different countries or organizations. In the end, the only way to approach this, in my opinion, is to take a concrete organization, choose a specific malfunction and dive deep into nitty-gritty details to find out what’s wrong and how it can be solved. Not very enlightening, I know.
All that being said, there’s one thing in the article that seems to generalize, namely, the “two layer approach”, that is agreeing on the solution to the coordination problem first (on political level), solving concrete issues afterwards (on technical level). The approach is so simple that it can be even expressed in game theoretical language. At the same time it nicely takes into account human psychology (the tendency to use everything at hand as a bargaining chip) and aligns with existing institutional designs (politicians are involved in step 1, bureaucrats in step 2). What’s interesting to think about is whether this approach of solving inadequate eqilibria can be somehow built into our existing institutions.
Good point about extended names. Yet one more operation that can be done with reputation tokens.
As for the spelling, I’ve tried to fix what I could. Feel free to point out any remaining typos.
I am not an economist, so it’s hard to me to judge the quality of the paper. In fact, I was just trying to show the kind of argument made for bank independence at the time. Feel free to check the paper for yourself: https://debis.deu.edu.tr/userweb//yesim.kustepeli/dosyalar/alesinasummers1993.pdf Section 2. is about measuring the central bank independence.
Wouldn’t that create the same election-cycle-dependent behaviour seen with politically appointed boards?
The reference comes from Prof. Wolfram Pyta from University of Stuttgart. However, given that Wikipedia disagrees and that the fact doesn’t add any added value to the article anyway, I am removing it.
This is something I would like to study one day. There seems to have been a turn in German public attitude at some point. As far as I can say from what I’ve read, it haven’t yet happened in early 50′s. Denazification programme and Nurnberg trials were felt to be a farce a it’s unclear whether they could have contributed to the change. Some public figures (e.g. Adenauer) may have lead by example, but frankly, I don’t know.
If people here, especially Germans, have any insights on the topic, it would be great if they could share.
Fair enough. I’ve just wrote what I’ve been taught in school. I’ll remove the sentence.
Still, it feels a bit different. The 9/11 memorial is honoring the good Americans killed by the bad terrorists. But the inscriptions in the Reichstag are definitely not honoring the good Germans killed by bad Soviets. They were, after all, whether willingly or not, fighting for the Nazis. But neither are they honoring the Soviets. They were fighting for Stalin, for the Stasi, for Berlin families being separated by the Wall. It’s hardly a memorial at all. If there’s any moral to be taken, then it is that history is, in the end, not about the good and the bad, but about Alexey from Pskov and Hans from Göttingen, maybe neither of them a particularly good person, but both of them being swept alike by the uncaring forces of history.
Yes, I am from Eastern Europe. That made me wonder whether the densification of the road system has slowed down in the west.
Here are statistics for the US:
In short, there’s a slowdown, but it starts in ’90.
Air miles per capita seem to tell a different story though:
I was speaking from personal experience.
In 1980′s it took 6 hrs to get to my grandmothers place. Today it is more like 3 hrs. All that not because of better cars but because there’s a highway covering most of the distance.
In 1980 people rarely traveled by plane. A holiday by seaside meant a 12 hour ride by car to Yugoslavia. Today, everyone’s flying to Turkey and Canary Islands.
As for transportation, I would say the average time to get to a place have dropped considerably in past 50 years, not because of any specific invention, but because airplanes has become less toys for the rich and more of buses with wings available to everyone. Similarly, densification of the motorway system made it faster to go places by car.
It’s not clear, of course, whether that kind of thing counts as technological progress. But if not so, what kind of progress is it?