I thought about this after hearing about Duvalier's return to Haiti,
to the cheers of many supporters.
The idea is that in a really complete, secure, dictatorship, where the
head guy is at the top for a long time, and has his position really
solidified, he may begin to think of the nation as his, literally. We
all say "my country", but we don't mean that we own it, like we own
our car. Saddam Hussein could have said it, and really felt that it
was literally his. It does not matter if the title is King or Emperor
or President or whatever. What matters is that his word is law, and
he feels totally secure in that position. Such a person then may take care of his country the way an ordinary man takes care of his car, his house, his dog, etc. Now not every man takes good care of his car, house, and dog, but many do. If such a man is in possession of a country, he will take good care of it.
In contrast, in many, if not most, democratic nations, the leaders are
very insecure, and have only a short time to enjoy their power. Hence it should not be surprising if most of their mental energies go toward stashing away as much wealth as possible in Swiss banks. In such a case no one will be trying very hard to run the country well. Perhaps we should be surprised that democracy works as well as it does in some countries.