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American Government Response

  1. Identify one of the collective action problems faced in American government and discussed in one of the above webpages. What is the public good in this case? Who are the free-riders? How does the failure to achieve collective action negatively impact society?
  2. The paradox of the collective action problem is it is a situation where if everyone behaves rationally (does what logically benefits themselves), then everybody loses. Explain why this is.
  3. Suppose that the point betting activity I did in class is extended to the whole university (i.e. if three fourths of all USCA students take a 10 point penalty on their first exam in a course, everyone gets 15 points back). What could be done to make the university more likely to succeed in its goal? In answering this question, use the principles and lessons of collective action.
  4. How does the collective action problem relate to the question of why we need government?

Sample Solution

educating himself. After discovering that the DeLaceys spoke words that "sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers . . . [he] ardently desired to become acquainted with it" (100). The creature even becomes familiar with morality, and admits he "felt the greatest ardour for virtue rise within me, and abhorrence for vice," and ultimately comes to admire "peaceable lawgivers [such as] Numa, Solon, and Lycurgus, in preference to Romulus and Theseus" (115). Yet when the creature begins to apply what he learns, he is driven away. While he "observed with pleasure" (100) that the DeLaceys benefit from his secret logging activities, the creature is eventually shunned by the family. In a more heroic example, the creature even saves a young girl from drowning: She continued her course along the precipitous sides of the river, when suddenly her foot slipped, and she fell into the rapid stream. I rushed from my hiding-place and with extreme labour, from the force of the current, saved her and dragged her to shore. She was senseless, and I endeavoured by every means in my power to restore animation (125). Despite this selfless act, the creature is rewarded with violence. A man who was following the girl sees the creature and shoots him. This moment marks a turning point for the creature. He had "saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense . . . now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone." In light of this, the creature's vow for a "deep and deadly revenge" (125) can be seen as understandable. But even after he commits several heinous crimes, the monster at least understands that he has been corrupted by his resentment of humanity. Even though "evil thenceforth became [his] good," (194) the creature has deep-seated regrets. "When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness," he says (195). Despite this selfless act, the creature is rewarded with violence. A man who was following the girl sees the creature and shoots him. This moment marks a turning point for the creature. He had "saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense . . . now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone." In light of this, the creature's vow for a "deep and deadly revenge" (125) can be seen as understandable. But even after he commits several heinous crimes, the monster at least understands that he has been corrupted by his resentment of humanity. Even though "evil thenceforth became [his] good," (194) the crea
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