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January 22, 2018 

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FISCAL BUDGET: A statement of the financial position of government during its fiscal year based on estimates of anticipated tax revenues and expenditures. The U.S. Federal government's fiscal budget is the source of, and lends its name to, fiscal policy.

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LOGROLLING:

The trading of votes to ensure a favorable outcome for two or more separate decisions. Logrolling occurs when each of two people agree to vote for the other's project to ensure that both are passed. A votes for B and B votes for A. Logrolling is commonly used when neither decision is able to obtain the necessary majority of the votes needed for passage on their own accord. Explicit logrolling is when each of two voters agree to cast separate votes for two separate programs. Implicit logrolling is when two separate programs or policies are combined into a single package, which is then subject to a single vote. Logrolling can generate either an efficient or an inefficient allocation of resources, meaning that efficiency is irrelevant to the logrolling process.
Logrolling is a common practice among voting government legislators to ensure the passage of specific laws; laws that would not necessarily be passed independently. Logrolling is often considered to be "politics as usually," as politicians do a bit of compromising, negotiating, arm twisting, backroom maneuvering, and behind the scenes manipulating.

Logrolling is occasionally explicit, in which each of two or more legislators agree to cast separate votes on separate issues. In many cases, though, logrolling is implicit, in which two or more issues are combined into a single piece of legislation.

The problem with logrolling, whether explicit or implicit, is that it has nothing to do with an efficient allocation of resources. It might generate efficiency. Or it might not. Legislators are not particularly concerned with how the issues affect the overall satisfaction of wants and needs among members of society. The criterion for enacting legislation is only the effectiveness of the vote trading process.

Trading Votes

Logrolling is really nothing more than the trading of votes, usually among legislative representatives, to ensure a favorable outcome of two more decisions or issues. That is, logrolling occurs when each of two people agree to vote for the other's project to ensure that both are passed. For example, legislator A agrees to vote for legislator B's pet project as long as legislator B agrees to vote for legislator A's favorite program. The basic presumption of logrolling is that neither program will obtain the necessary majority of the votes needed for passage on their own accord.

Logrolling vote trading comes in two forms -- explicit and implicit.

  • Explicit Logrolling: This form occurs when each of two voters agree to cast separate votes for two separate programs or policies. For example, Representative Adam might agree to vote for legislation that places a tax on running shoes, which is favored by Representative Ben, as long as Representative Ben agrees to vote for legislation that finances research into solar powered bicycles, with is supported by Representative Adam. Two separate pieces of legislation, two separate votes per legislator.

  • Implicit Logrolling: This form occurs when two separate programs or policies are combined into a single package, which is then subject to a single vote. In this case once piece of legislation contains both a tax on running shoes, favored by Representative Ben, and funds to finance solar powered bicycles, supported by Representative Adam. One piece of legislation, one vote per legislator.
With explicit logrolling, each voter must go "on record" as voting for each program. However, with implicit logrolling, each voter is "on record" only for the entire package. Each voter can contend that a vote was cast only for "their" favored program. Implicit logrolling is commonly used by legislators to trade votes without appearing to trade votes. Legislators can come out in support of "their" programs, while simultaneously being against "other" programs, even though they actually voted for the "other" programs by voting for "their" programs, but they didn't really want to vote for the "other" programs and only voted for the "other" programs to ensure passage of "their" programs.

How it Works

Let's run through an example. Let's consider the actions of the Shady Valley Shoe Museum finance subcommittee, which includes three members each favoring a particular use of Museum funds. Roland Nottingham wants to use funds to resurface the museum parking lot, Geraldine Constance Kennsington wants to purchase a new set of display cabinets, and Hector Hamilton wants to buy new uniforms for museum employees. The subcommittee has reached an impasse. They have funds only for two of the three options. And they are unable to make a decision on which two of the three programs to enact.

The Shoe Museum Committee has enough funds only for two of the three programs. But which two?

Logrolling might be the answer.

Suppose that Geraldine and Hector get together before the subcommittee meeting and agree to do a little vote trading. Geraldine is willing to vote for Hector's favored program to buy new employee uniforms if Hector agrees to vote for Geraldine's plan to purchase new display cabinets.

Even though the purchase of display cabinets is his least favored program, he's willing to cast a vote for it if doing so ensures passage of his new employee uniform program. When the three programs come up for a vote, Roland is the only one voting to resurface the parking lot, while Geraldine and Hector both vote for new display cabinets and new employee uniforms.

Logrolling has allowed the subcommittee to FINALLY reach a decision. But is this good or bad? Is the outcome efficient?

Good or Bad?

First, note up front that logrolling provides no guarantee that the outcome will be either efficient or inefficient. It could either way.

Let's see how logrolling can generate a more efficient allocation that would not have occurred otherwise. To illustrate, suppose that we are able to attach relative "satisfaction" numbers to each of the three options, based on the constituency represented by each member.

  • Parking Lot: The satisfaction generated by the parking lot resurfacing is -- Roland +6, Geraldine -8, and Hector -1 -- giving a net change in satisfaction of -3, a decrease.

  • Display Cabinets: The satisfaction generated by the new display cabinets is -- Roland -2, Geraldine +12, and Hector -5 -- giving a net change in satisfaction of +5, an increase.

  • Employee Uniforms: The satisfaction generated by the new employee uniforms is -- Roland -2, Geraldine -1, and Hector +8 -- giving a net change in satisfaction of +4, an increase.
Logrolling has ensured that the two programs that generate a net increase in satisfaction (display cabinets and employee uniforms) are passed and the one program that generates a net decrease in satisfaction (parking lot) is not passed. Logrolling has thus led to a more efficient resource allocation.

However, logrolling can just as easily reduce efficiency. Let's consider an alternative set of satisfaction numbers.

  • Parking Lot: The satisfaction generated by the parking lot resurfacing is -- Roland +6, Geraldine -2, and Hector -1 -- giving a net change in satisfaction of +3, an increase.

  • Display Cabinets: The satisfaction generated by the new display cabinets is -- Roland -6, Geraldine +12, and Hector -8 -- giving a net change in satisfaction of -2, a decrease.

  • Employee Uniforms: The satisfaction generated by the new employee uniforms is -- Roland -5, Geraldine -4, and Hector +8 -- giving a net change in satisfaction of -1, a decrease.
In this case, logrolling has enable the passage of two programs that generate a net decrease in satisfaction (display cabinets and employee uniforms) and failed to pass the one program that generates a net increase in satisfaction (parking lot). Logrolling has thus led to a less efficient resource allocation.

Of course, these "satisfaction" numbers are contrived and hypothetical. But key to this analysis is that logrolling is NOT based on the net satisfaction generated. There is no mechanism by which logrolling takes account of satisfaction which might lead to an efficient allocation of resources.

Other Voting Problems

The voting process might not result in an efficient allocation of resources due to three additional problems -- the importance of the median voter, the voting paradox, and rational voter apathy.
  • Median Voter: This voting principle, one that is well known by politicians, is that the median voter determines the outcome of an election. The median voter is the one with an equal number of voters on either side of the vote. As such, the vote cast by THE median voter is the deciding vote. However, this median voter's preference might not generate the best, that is, efficient, result.

  • Voting Paradox: While the preferences of individuals is what we call transitive and consistent, the preferences of voters might not be consistent. That is, as a group, voters might prefer candidate A to candidate B and candidate B to candidate C, but then prefer candidate C to candidate A. This is not only paradoxical and confusing, it also can be inefficient.

  • Rational Voter Apathy: Voters can be considered apathetic because they rational choose to not be informed (rational ignorance) and not to participate in the process (rational abstention). In each case votes (and nonvoters) undertake actions that maximize utility, but such actions mean their preferences are not adequately included in the political process.

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Recommended Citation:

LOGROLLING, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: January 22, 2018].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | public choice | median voter principle | voting problems | voting paradox | government failures | rational ignorance | rational abstention | voting rules | special interest groups |


Or For A Little Background...

     | market failures | government functions | public finance | efficiency | public sector | private sector | utility maximization | market efficiency | fifth rule of imperfection | seven economic rules | political game |


And For Further Study...

     | political entrepreneurs | capture theory of regulation | rent seeking | Tiebout hypothesis | principal-agent problem | government bureaucracies | public choice politics |


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