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Tag Archives: Public Choice Theory

Better Late than Never for Eric Topol

Cardiologist Eric Topol writes: Rapidly scale the production of the anti-Covid pill Paxlovid, which is about to get FDA emergency authorization and the topic of my last post here. There will be a large number of non-mild infections going forward and we now have a treatment that is expected to work extremely well against Omicron, but the supply is dreadfully short. I wrote more about this today Enacting the Defense Production Act, as the President has done for rapid...

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A Memory of Bob Dole

In the summer of 1982, I was a special assistant to assistant secretary of labor John Cogan. That summer, the U.S. was still in the midst of the 1981-82 recession. When you’re in it, you don’t know how long you’re in it and you don’t know you’re out of it until at least a few months after you are. That meant that there was strong pressure to renew the federal extension of unemployment benefits. On the other hand, there was a reasonable case to be made that the...

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Richard L. Stroup RIP

As a number of economists and others have noted, Richard L. Stroup died on November 18. He was a good and gentle man and a very good economist. He used straightforward microeconomic tools to investigate, and generate insights on, interesting issues. I’ll highlight some items from the 10th edition of his textbook, Economics: Private and Public Choice, co-authored with James D. Gwartney, Russell S. Sobel, and David A. Macpherson. I’ll point to sections for which there...

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The Latest James Bond plus Buchanan and Tullock

Inspired by Graham McAleer’s review of the new James Bond, No Time to Die, I streamed the film from Amazon Prime Video. Ever since with my young sons decades ago I watched James Bond films, I have always liked them for the action and the guns, although I now find Jason Bourne more congenial and more realistic. On Law and Liberty, our sister website, philosopher McAleer writes under the title “James Bond, Christian Knight”: During the Enlightenment, David Hume sought...

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Infrastructure All the Way Down

I have argued on this blog that the best practical definition of infrastructure is “whatever the government wants to pay for because it benefits from the expenditure.” The adoption by the House of a $1-trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill reinforces this argument. (See Gabriel T. Rubin and Eliza Collins, “What’s in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill? From Amtrak to Roads to Water Systems,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2021.) The standard argument for public...

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Is This Error Just Amusing?

Errare humanum est and I don’t want to cast the first stone lest I be lapidated immediately. But an error I just noticed is so amusing that it is difficult to keep it for myself. I was skimming through a book I thought I should read: Gerry Mackie’s Democracy Defended (Cambridge University Press, 2003). Mackie, a political scientist, defends democracy against social choice ideas according to which the political aggregation of individual preferences results in...

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The Curse of a Government Job

I remember when Dr. Deborah Birx was called out after hosting a holiday gathering of her family. It was the kind of gathering that she had urged her fellow Americans not to have. What I didn’t know was the excuse she gave. Here’s an excerpt from the BBC report at the time: Explaining her decision to gather with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, she told Newsy: “My daughter hasn’t left that house in 10 months, my parents have been isolated for...

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Give Leviathan an Inch…

In his 1651 book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes argued that, in order to protect its subjects, the state—“Leviathan”—need to be all-powerful. The problem, others noted and history showed, is that a non-democratic Leviathan is a recipe for tyranny. But a democratic state will respect every citizen’s interests because we love ourselves. The democratic Leviathan loves you because he is you. This theory took many forms up to the present day. James Sensenbrenner, a former...

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Contra Gensler and the Chinese Mirror

Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be everything a classical liberal wants to avoid. I will take him as representative of the federal bureaucracies that want to control cryptocurrencies and the emerging decentralized finance (“DeFi”) markets. (See Andrew Ackerman, “Stablecoins in Spotlight as U.S. Begins to Lay Ground for Rules on Cryptocurrencies,” Wall Street Journal, December 25, 2021.) In an instructive article, The Economist...

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Thoughts on Canada’s Election

Last month, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, called a snap election 2 years before it would normally have been held. His goal was to attain a majority for the Liberal Party so that he wouldn’t have to keep making deals with the smaller parties, typically the New Democratic Party (it’s like the left wing of the Democratic Party in the United States) or the Bloc Quebecois, a party with seats only in French-speaking Quebec. He failed. He had started with 157...

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