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@Pseudoplotinus [Replying to @Dyrnwyn @RbnLake and 11 others] I think that's a microcosm of the patronage vs populism dynamic. / When it appears to people that public services are failing in their responsibilities, populist backlash is the result. / Popul
@Pseudoplotinus [Replying to @Dyrnwyn @RbnLake and 11 others]

I think that's a microcosm of the patronage vs populism dynamic.

When it appears to people that public services are failing in their responsibilities, populist backlash is the result.

Populism gives rise to incoherent policy, driving the patronage party support to double down.
Populism  Patronage 
5 weeks ago by cbearden
Nadia Eghbal | The perks of patronage
I started a newsletter a few years ago. I added it as an afterthought to one of my blog posts, with the message: “Sign up here to get updates when I post something new”. That blog post happened to blow up, so I found myself with a solid audience within a few days. via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket  kickstarter  mentors  patronage  rewards 
5 weeks ago by ChristopherA
Iran Moves to Cement Its Influence in Syria - WSJ
Along with the charity come offers to join the ranks of the Iranian militia and convert to the Shiite sect of the Islamic faith, he said. In return for enlisting, the men are promised a guard corps ID card—allowing them to cross checkpoints without hassle—and $200 a month. “From every family you find one or two people who have become Shiite,” he said. “They say they do it so they can find jobs or they become Shiite so they can walk and no one bothers them.”

To incentivize Arab tribesmen in areas formerly controlled by Islamic State to convert to Shiism, Iran is granting cash subsidies, providing public services and free education, according to residents, a U.S. official and a person familiar with U.S. intelligence operations in the region.

In cities and villages across the country’s east and in parts of central Syria, the Iranian militia has taken over mosques and is sounding the Shiite call to prayer from the minarets. They set up shrines in places with religious historical significance, bought real estate under a contested property law and opened Persian-language schools.

“If you’re a student, they offer a scholarship. If you’re poor, they give you aid,” said an aid worker in Qamishli, in northeast Syria, whose friend was offered a chance to study in Iran. “Whatever your need is they fill it, just so you become Shiite.”

“Just like ISIS gave religious lessons to children after prayers, they are doing the same thing,” said a father of two school-aged children, who said his village is now under control of Iranian militias.

“Just like ISIS gave religious lessons to children after prayers, they are doing the same thing,” said a father of two school-aged children, who said his village is now under control of Iranian militias.

Tehran’s push for converts and loyalists has encountered some resistance from residents who objected to mosques being changed from Sunni to Shiite. In some cases, the call to prayer has reverted back to the Sunni script. Followers of the two sects have some differing religious beliefs and use somewhat different prayers and rituals.

As Mr. Assad’s regime struggles to provide basic services in areas it has recaptured, the Iranians and their affiliated militias and charities have filled the void. The Hussein Organization, an Iranian charity, has brought in generators and water pumps and distributed food and school supplies in cities and villages in Deir Ezzour, said a security analyst consulting with the U.S. government on eastern Syria.
Iran  mar15  aid  Shia  patronage  recruitment  Hizbollah 
7 weeks ago by elizrael
SYRIA IN CONTEXT Weekly Briefing ISSUE #42 - WEEK 12/2019
a regional breakdown of allocation shows the extraordinary inequities at the heart of the Syrian government structure. For example, heavily-loyalist Latakia and Tartous provinces receive as much as a combined quarter of all public funds, despite hosting barely 10% of Syria’s population. The skew is likely due to the disproportionate patronage bestowed on loyalist communities via public sector jobs and investments (a 2013 decree forces preferential treatment for families of those who died fighting for the Syrian government - overwhelmingly members of loyalist minority communities). Given the government’s fiscal limitations, it is unclear how the Assad regime could re-broaden its patronage to non-loyalist communities without corresponding cuts - meaning layoffs - undermining its own power base.
budget  Mar15  Lattakia  patronage  aid  subsidies 
8 weeks ago by elizrael
In Iraq, Iran-affiliated militias that helped rout Islamic State wield growing clout - Los Angeles Times, Feb 13, 2019
Last month, according to local media reports quoting key politicians and others, the Fatah party persuaded the government to give the Hashd control of the Mutassem Co., one of the largest state-owned construction contractors in Iraq. The Hashd intends to use its fighters to pour cement, pave roads and repair homes as part of the effort to rebuild the country after so many years of war.

The Hashd’s rising profile has also worried many Iraqis, who say that the group is amassing a level of power that threatens to undermine the government and remains close with militias that were never absorbed by the military.

Parliamentarians and security personnel have accused the Hashd and its former militias — which have created so-called economic offices — of imposing levies on commerce, using their influence to grab real estate or charge protection money for safe passage.

“Their aim is to entrench their patronage and social influence by creating a network of social service entities to go with their militia,” said Thanassis Cambanis, a senior fellow at the New York-based Century Foundation think tank.
Hashd  Iraq  corruption  oil  Iran  patronage 
february 2019 by elizrael
Unlocking the commons » Nieman Journalism Lab
“The most powerful and interesting media model will remain raising money from members who don’t just permit but insist that the product be given away for free.”
media  patronage 
january 2019 by cmillward
Reconstructing Authoritarianism: The Politics and Political Economy of Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Syria – POMEPS, Sep 2018
 Efforts to rebuild the country are taking shape as critical pieces in a larger strategy of authoritarian reconstruction. This strategy has three interconnected aims: to restore the regime’s capacity to extract resources from an economy fragmented by violence; reassert its authority over the economic networks that constitute core elements of the regime’s ruling coalition; and reestablish the regime’s sovereignty over all of pre-2011 Syria, in part through the reconstruction of a fractured national market.  

This understanding of post-conflict reconstruction as a process of authoritarian reconstruction does not ignore the extent to which conflict has reconfigured Syria’s political economy, or that reconstruction will require the adaptation of pre-war modes of economic governance to post-conflict realities. Yet it begins from the observation that everything the regime does to advance post-conflict reconstruction is intended not to put in place the kind of “inclusive social contract” that has come to be seen as the preferred outcome of reconstruction processes,[4] but to reinforce and reassert its authority over economic activity, both formal and informal, and revitalize and renew the predatory coalitions and bargains on which the regime has historically depended.  

My argument instead highlights the high degree of continuity that is evident in frameworks of economic governance from pre-war to wartime periods in predatory, corrupt authoritarian regimes such as Syria’s. Indeed, I would argue that continuity in modes of economic governance, rather than rupture or breakdown, is the defining feature of the wartime economic order that has become consolidated in Syria since 2011.
reconstruction  Mar15  Assad  corruption  warlords  patronage  crime 
december 2018 by elizrael
Arab Political Economy: Pathways for Equitable Growth - Carnegie, Oct 9, 2018
A central conundrum of Arab political economy is how to reform a system that is deeply resistant to the solutions it desperately needs. All political systems are resistant to change, but competitive politics offers, at the least, vectors for pursuing reform. In most Arab countries, those who stand to lose the most from changes to the status quo are best positioned to oppose such reforms. Thus, the power structure of the Arab states must be understood as a central impediment to economic development. This configuration distorts economic incentives, impedes the emergence of a middle class as a plausible counterweight to the political elite, and results in socioeconomic stagnation. Ultimately, new economic models require innovative political arrangements that create checks and balances and submit rent-seekers to genuine competition.
authoritarian_regime  economics  middle_east  inequality  corruption  unemployment  oil  patronage  Asia  Thailand  Egypt  Saudi-Arabia  UAE 
december 2018 by elizrael
residents of northern Homs and south Hama fear that the regime would prevent the return of 2500 civilians to their jobs as it recruits hundreds of employees of its families’ casualties • SOHR, Sep 17, 2018
regime’s disapproval of the return of about 2500 employees who were fired during previous years of their work in the secretariats of the civil registry, courts, and colleges, also the concerns have increased after the regime filled these vacancies during the past years -after the dismissal of staff- with temporary staff of families of its members and casualties
Homs  Mar15  PublicSector  patronage 
november 2018 by elizrael
Hostage to All? - Carnegie Middle East Center
However, the new government has not seemed to respond to this reality. It is made up of a combination of partisan and independent ministers and is still lacking eight ministers. Although ‘Abdul-Mahdi announced a detailed governmental program, with great emphasis on the economy, there was no major discussion of the program and the government’s proposed policies. Instead, political contestation revolved around the selection of ministers and whether they should be partisan or independent technocrats. Groups such as Sa’iroun and Hikma, led by ‘Ammar al-Hakim, allowed the prime minister more leeway in selecting ministers, while Sunni, Kurdish, and other Shi‘a groups refused to do the same, mostly framing their position as a case of defending the rights of their constituencies.

It will be difficult for ‘Abdul-Mahdi to keep all parties satisfied while trying to adopt serious reforms. But like other prime ministers, he can try to use his office’s power to gain more independence from the parties. He might also exploit pressure from the public to demand a broader mandate, given that most parties fear the further radicalization of street protests. However, making the state more effective is not only about weakening the parties’ clientelist systems, but also about improving the deeply corrupt and dysfunctional public sector and significantly changing public spending patterns, which leave a very small share of the budget for investment.
At the same time, if the 76-year-old prime minister leans further toward Fatah and the pro-Iranian camp, he could provoke the Trump administration and lose Sadr’s support. Yet ‘Abdul-Mahdi also cannot afford to antagonize the Iranians, especially as they are trying to employ their formal and informal connections in Iraq to mitigate the effects of the new U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran. Their main Iraqi ally, the Popular Mobilization Forces—which is practically Fatah’s military wing—is already operating as a parallel state (a term that ‘Abdul-Mahdi used in his inauguration), and there is little the prime minister can do about it. The alliance built by the Iranians to deny the previous prime minister, Haidar al-‘Abadi, a second term in office could well be resurrected to oust ‘Abdul-Mahdi.
Iraq  AbdulMahdi  corruption  Sadr  Iran  politics  patronage 
november 2018 by elizrael
Gospels of Giving for the New Gilded Age | The New Yorker
"Are today’s donor classes solving problems—or creating new ones?"

We live, it is often said, in a new Gilded Age—an era of extravagant wealth and almost as extravagant displays of generosity. In the past fifteen years, some thirty thousand private foundations have been created, and the number of donor-advised funds has roughly doubled. The Giving Pledge—signed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and more than a hundred and seventy other gazillionaires who have promised to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy—is the “Gospel” stripped down and updated. And as the new philanthropies have proliferated so, too, have the critiques.

Anand Giridharadas is a journalist who, in 2011, was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. The institute is financed by, among other groups, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Gates Foundation. The fellowship, according to its Web site, aims to “develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders” by engaging them “in a thought-provoking journey of personal exploration.”

Giridharadas at first found the fellowship to be a pretty sweet deal; it offered free trips to the Rockies and led to invitations from the sorts of people who own Western-themed mansions and fly private jets. After a while, though, he started to feel that something was rotten in the state of Colorado. In 2015, when he was asked to deliver a speech to his fellow-fellows, he used it to condemn what he called “the Aspen Consensus.”

“The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this,” he said. “The winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.” The speech made the Times; people began asking for copies of it; and Giridharadas decided to expand on it. The result is “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” “I hadn’t planned to write a book on this topic, but the topic chose me,” he writes."

"Inside Philanthropy is a Web site devoted to high-end giving; its tagline is “Who’s Funding What, and Why.” David Callahan is the site’s founder and editor. If Giridharadas worries that the super-wealthy just play at changing the world, Callahan worries they’re going at it in earnest.

“An ever larger and richer upper class is amplifying its influence through large-scale giving in an era when it already has too much clout,” he writes in “The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.” “Things are going to get worse, too.”

Part of the problem, according to Callahan, lies in the broad way that philanthropy has been defined. Under the federal tax code, an organization that feeds the hungry can count as a philanthropy, and so can a university where students study the problem of hunger, and so, too, can a think tank devoted to downplaying hunger as a problem. All these qualify as what are known, after the relevant tax-code provision, as 501(c)(3)s, meaning that the contributions they receive are tax deductible, and that the earnings on their endowments are largely tax-free. 501(c)(3)s are prohibited from engaging in partisan activity, but, as “The Givers” convincingly argues, activists on both sides of the ideological divide have developed work-arounds.

As a left-leaning example, Callahan cites Tim Gill, who’s been called “the megadonor behind the L.G.B.T.Q.-rights movement.” A software designer, Gill became rich founding and then selling a company called Quark, and he’s donated more than three hundred million dollars toward promoting L.G.B.T.Q. rights. While some of this has been in the form of straight-up political contributions, much of it has been disbursed by Gill’s tax-exempt foundation, which has financed educational efforts, message testing, and—perhaps most important—legal research. “Without a doubt, we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation,” Mary Bonauto, the attorney who argued the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, told Rolling Stone last year.

On the right, Callahan points to Art Pope, the chairman of a privately held discount-store chain called Variety Wholesalers. Pope has used his wealth to support a network of foundations, based in North Carolina, that advocate for voter-identification—or, if you prefer, voter-suppression—laws. In 2013, pushed by Pope’s network, the North Carolina state legislature enacted a measure requiring residents to present state-issued photo I.D.s at the polls. Then the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law—another Pope-funded group—led the effort to block challenges to the measure. (The I.D. law was struck down, in 2016, by a federal appeals court that held it had been “passed with racially discriminatory intent.”)

It is difficult to say what fraction of philanthropic giving goes toward shaping public policy. Callahan estimates that the figure is somewhere around ten billion dollars a year. Such an amount, he says, might not sound huge, but it’s more than the annual contributions made to candidates, parties, and super-pacs combined. The result is doubly undemocratic. For every billion dollars spent on advocacy tricked out as philanthropy, several hundred million dollars in uncaptured taxes are lost to the federal treasury.

“It’s not just that the megaphones operated by 501(c)(3) groups and financed by a sliver of rich donors have gotten louder and louder, making it harder for ordinary citizens to be heard,” Callahan notes. “It’s that these citizens are helping foot the bill.” That both liberals and conservatives are exploiting the tax code is small consolation.

“When it comes to who gets heard in the public square, ordinary citizens can’t begin to compete with an activist donor class,” Callahan writes. “How many very rich people need to care intensely about a cause to finance megaphones that drown out the voices of everyone else?” he asks. “Not many.”"

Critiques of “The Gospel of Wealth” didn’t have much impact on Andrew Carnegie. He continued to distribute his fortune, to libraries and museums and universities, until, at the time of his death, in 1919, he had given away some three hundred and fifty million dollars—the equivalent of tens of billions in today’s money. It is hard to imagine that the critiques of the new Carnegies will do much to alter current trend lines.

The Gates Foundation alone, Callahan estimates, will disburse more than a hundred and fifty billion dollars over the next several decades. In just the next twenty years, affluent baby boomers are expected to contribute almost seven trillion dollars to philanthropy. And, the more government spending gets squeezed, the more important nongovernmental spending will become. When congressional Republicans passed their so-called tax-reform bill, they preserved the deduction for charitable contributions even as they capped the deduction for state and local tax payments. Thus, a hundred-million-dollar gift to Harvard will still be fully deductible, while, in many parts of the country, the property taxes paid to support local public schools will not be. It is possible that in the not too distant future philanthropic giving will outstrip federal outlays on non-defense discretionary programs, like education and the arts. This would represent, Callahan notes, a “striking milestone.”

Is that the kind of future we want? As the latest round of critiques makes clear, we probably won’t have much of a say in the matter. The philanthropists will decide, and then it will be left to their foundations to fight it out."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  2018  elizabethkolbert  charity  philanthropy  inequality  andrewcarnegie  gildedage  inequity  disparity  wealth  inheritance  hughpricehughes  society  williamjewetttucker  patronage  ethics  wealthdistribution  exploitation  billgates  warrenbuffett  michaelbloomberg  larryellison  anandgiridharadas  aspenconsensus  georgesoros  socialentrepreneurship  laurietisch  darrenwalker  change  democracy  henrykravis  billclinton  davidcallahan  power  taxes  thinktanks  nonprofit  activism  timgill  publicpolicy  politics  economics  us  influence  artpope  votersuppression  law  superpacs  donaldtrump  equality  robertreich  nonprofits  capitalism  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco

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