It's time for Parade's dictatorship rankings again! The top two are the same from last year, though the third, Sayyid Ali Khamenei of Iran, jumped up to #3 from #9 only a year ago. New to the rankings: Choummaly Sayasone of Loas (at #16), Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (#18), Paul Biya of Cameroon (#19) and Vladimir Putin of Russia (at #20). The above link, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, has the previous rankings since they started them in 2003. There's certainly a paper to be had there.
As I pointed out last year, the U.S. has given money to nearly all of these rulers, which is interesting in that the U.S. likes to further the belief that they procure aid only in the support of democracy. Aid clearly doesn't work, but it's here to stay, so the question is how to improve upon the situation. Part of me thinks bribing dictators to incorporate good policies might work, but if the bribes get high enough, it could turn into a one-shot game that wouldn't lead to any sort of long-run well-being.