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Tag Archives: Virginia Political Economy

The Economics of Correcting ‘Market Failure’ Isn’t as Scientific as It Appears

In my most-recent column for AIER, I argue that a great deal of unscientific suppositions infect the seemingly scientific case for using the state to “correct” so-called “market failures.” A slice: At this point the mainstream economist pushes back. He doesn’t deny (How could he?!) that, as a technical matter, getting precise information on marginal social costs is practically impossible. But he insists that such an ideal standard is inappropriate. “We can estimate the divergence between...

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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “Dear voters…”

In my Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column of October 31st, 2006, I expressed my astonishment at people’s gullibility for politicians’ assertions and promises. You can read my astonishment beneath the fold. Dear voters… Mitchell Joy recently sent me an urgent e-mail. Although I’ve never before heard of Mr. Joy, he wrote to me from his home in Ghana with assurances that he knows me to be a man of impeccable character. Joy needs my help. And, according to him, I can use his. He assures me...

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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “Democracy & responsibility”

In my August 29th, 2006, column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I argue that democratic decision-making is very often irresponsible decision-making. You can read the column beneath the fold. Democracy & responsibility Government brings out the kid in all of us. Nanny-state activities are government’s best-known way of babying us. Government commands us to buckle up when we’re in automobiles. It scolds us (and punitively taxes us) when we smoke tobacco. It forces us to pay special...

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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 4 of the original edition of my late colleague James M. Buchanan’s insightful 1967 book, Public Finance in Democratic Process: The omniscient and benevolent despot does not exist, despite the genuine love for him sometimes espoused, and, scientifically, he is not a noble construction. To assume that he does exist, for the purpose of making analysis agreeable, serves to confound the issues and to guarantee frustration for the scientist who seeks to understand and to...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 175 of Geoffrey Brennan’s and Loren Lomasky’s profoundly important 1993 book, Democracy & Decision: The Pure Theory of Electoral Preference: [B]ecause voting is virtually cost free, it is likely to prove conducive to extremes of expression, both altruistic and malicious and that at least under prevailing conditions of secrecy, the malicious extreme might be differentially encouraged. DBx: Indeed so. Here’s what Brennan and Lomasky mean by voting being “virtually cost...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 275 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague James Buchanan’s 1996 paper “Distributional Politics and Constitutional Design,” as this paper is reprinted in Choice, Contract, and Constitutions (2001), which is volume 16 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan: In summary, my argument here is that politic has lagged behind law in its incorporation of the principle of generality, and that efforts must be made to bring politics into line. The rule of law – this generalized term...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from James Madison’s Federalist 62 (original emphasis): Another effect of public instability, is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the monied few, over the industrious and uninformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 56 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague Jim Buchanan’s 1989 paper “Rational Choice Models in the Social Sciences,” as this paper is reprinted in Moral Science and Moral Order (2001), Vol. 17 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan: Only individuals choose; only individuals act. An understanding of any social interaction process must be based on an analysis of the choice behavior of persons who participate in that process. Results that are predicted or may be observed in...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 163 of Gordon Tullock’s and Gordon Brady’s important 2000 monograph, Government: Whose Obedient Servant? A Primer in Public Choice: The analysis of public choice reveals, much more than conventional political theory, that collective choice-making in government has made the fundamental error of putting the vaguely identified interests of the people as voters before their clearly perceived interests as consumers. This historic error results in providing them with...

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Three Big Myths

In my most-recent column for AIER, I highlight three Big Myths. A slice: A third Big Myth is that government carries out the will of the people as long as its top officials are chosen by majority rule. At root, this naïve faith in majoritarian democracy is mistaken because there is, in fact, no will of the people. “The people” is not a sentient creature with a mind and preferences and fears and hopes. “The people” includes, of course, sentient individuals each with his or her own mind...

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