The grand narrative goes something like this: Some nations are rich, others poor. Poverty begets misery. Since we all wish to live in a world defined less by misery than by happiness, rich nations have a moral obligation to offer a friendly hand of assistance toward ‘less fortunate’ nations. Without significant financial and technical assistance, the poor and suffering are destined to wallow in deplorable indignity. If rich nations simply fulfill their responsibilities toward their fellow men through humanitarian action (at relatively little cost to themselves) poverty and misery could be eliminated in our lifetimes. In Doing Bad by Doing Good, Christopher…
When I was a student, my friends and I would stay up all night to discuss such questions as the truth or otherwise of determinism. Was the entire future of the universe immanent in its past, indeed had everything been determined from the very foundation of the universe (if it had one)? If so, what of our supposed freedom?
The author has two avowed aims: first, to show how Adam Smith and Georg Hegel have defined the debate in political economy, and, second, to address normative issues raised in ‘market societies’. As part of this framework, Herzog a) insists that markets cannot be understood apart from their larger contexts, hence the stress on political-economy as opposed to a narrow conception of economics (i.e., University of Chicago); and b) recognizes that normative issues are not adequately addressed in political theory that ignores markets and is restricted by the individual vs. community debate (pp. 61-62, 80). The presumptions are that markets…
It is impossible to exaggerate the enigma within the term “capitalism.” It is in fact one of those big concepts concocted by its enemies, indeed by its chief antagonist Karl Marx. To this very day its central concepts of market and “trickle down” are questioned from the American president to the pope. Even its supporters cannot agree on what it is or even when it began.
“Public choice,” of course, is just a highfalutin circumlocution for “politics.” But the name is usually applied to the leading neoclassical version articulated by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock in The Calculus of Consent.
This theory has a number of obvious attractions for libertarians, which I will briefly describe. Unfortunately, because its drawbacks outweigh these attractions, it needs to be replaced by an updated version of what might be called the Founders’ older “theory of American public choice.”
The problem is by no means peculiar to the theory of public choice, but rather is a general one apparent in all branches of neoclassical economic theory. This requires some explanation.