For the Many or the Few: The Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy

Paperback | March 15, 2008

byJohn G. Matsusaka

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Direct democracy continues to grow in importance throughout the United States. Citizens are increasingly using initiatives and referendums to take the law into their own hands, overriding their elected officials to set tax, expenditure, and social policies. John G. Matsusaka’s For the Many or the Few studies a century of budget data from states and cities to provide the first comprehensive, empirical picture of how direct democracy is changing government policies.
Based on a century of evidence and the most recent theory, Matsusaka argues against the popular belief that initiatives empower wealthy special interest groups that neglect the majority view. Examining demographic, political, and opinion data, he demonstrates how initiatives led to significant tax and expenditure cuts over the last 30 years and that these cuts were supported by a majority of citizens. He concludes that, by and large, direct democracy in the United States has worked for the benefit of the many rather than the few.
       “For the Many or the Few is a valuable contribution to our understanding of American democratic institutions and public policy and an important book.”—Journal of Politics
     “John G. Matsusaka’s valuable, accessible book represents one of the few studies that attempt to test how policy outcomes are affected by the initiative process and to examine whether policies produced by the initiative reflect what the public actually wants.”—Political Science Quarterly

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Direct democracy continues to grow in importance throughout the United States. Citizens are increasingly using initiatives and referendums to take the law into their own hands, overriding their elected officials to set tax, expenditure, and social policies. John G. Matsusaka’s For the Many or the Few studies a century of budget data fr...

John G. Matsusaka is a professor in the Marshall School of Business, Gould School of Law, and in the Department of Political Science at the University of Southern California. He is also president of the Initiative & Referendum Institute.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:214 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:March 15, 2008Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226510824

ISBN - 13:9780226510828

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
1. An American Institution
2. A Blizzard of Data
Part I - The Evidence
3. Spending and Taxes, 1970-2000
4. For the Many or the Few
5. Conservative or Liberal
Part II - Explaining the Facts
6. When Legislators Get Out of Step
7. Key Episodes in the Twentieth Century
Part III - Open Questions
8. Majority Tyranny and the Constitution
9. Delegation, Information, and Competition
Appendix 1. Initiative Provisions in States, 1898-2003
Appendix 2. Initiative Provisions in the Twenty Largest Cities, 2000
Appendix 3. Data Definitions and Sources
Appendix 4. Critical Notes on the Empirical Literature
Notes
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

[The author''s] comprehensive work carefully examines initiative outcomes, opinion surveys and government policies over the last century. His robustly supported conclusion: the initiative process rather closely reflects the will of the public." -- Steven Frates "Local Liberty"