Thursday, May 15, 2008

Questions I've been pondering (with Justin) recently ...benevolent dictator edition

Back in the day (and still somewhat today?), economics assumed that public officials were nothing short of heroic: the unfailing perfectness of all possible information at once and the benevolence of a saint. The problem is, no one makes decisions with perfect information, and holding public office doesn't stop you from being self-interested. Markets 1, Karl Marx 0.

But let's stay in the past. What would be the best example in history of a benevolent dictator? My history knowledge is decidedly weak, but I'll put my best guess in the comments. Justin had a good one as well, though I can't remember the exact name-- I'll leave that up to him.

If he's still reading the blog, I'd love to see what William Bernstein has to stay about this. I'm getting through the book, slowly but surely...


Matt E. Ryan said...

From what I've heard, Douglas MacArthur acting as Japan's de facto dictator immediately after World War II did about as good a job in terms of putting the country first as anyone.

Justin M Ross said...

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 1881-1938) the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first President. Good example of a benevolent dictator I suppose, among other things he gave the people of Turkey last names. Ataturk translates to "Father Turk."

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.