Advanced Topics in Liberty

Public Choice and Government Failure

Conference for Students – September 19-21, 2014

Discussion Leader: Professor Joshua Hall, Economics, West Virginia University

Session I - The Public Choice Approach

Buchanan, James M. The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Volume 1: The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1999. Chapter 2, “Politics Without Romance” (pages 45–59).

Brennan, Geoffrey and James M. Buchanan. “The Normative Purpose of Economic ‘Science’: Rediscovery of an Eighteenth-Century Method.” International Review of Law and Economics 1, No. 2 (December 1981): 155–166.

Session II - Factions, Interest Groups, and Rent-Seeking

Carey, George W. and James McClellan, editors. The Federalist. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2001. Federalist Number 10 (pages 42–49).

Tullock, Gordon, Arthur Seldon, and Gordon L. Brady. Government Failure: A Primer on Public Choice. Washington: Cato Institute, 2002. Chapter 3, “Logrolling” (pages 29–41) and Chapter 4, “The Cost of Rent Seeking” (pages 43–51).

Wittman, Donald. The Myth of Democratic Failure: Why Political Institutions Are Efficient. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995, 1996. Chapter 4, “Transaction Costs and the Design of Government Institutions” (pages 31–37) and Chapter 7, “Pressure Groups” (pages 76–86).

Session III - Economic Regulation and Budget Deficits

Stigler, George J. “The Theory of Economic Regulation.” The Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science 2, No. 1 (Spring 1971): 3–21.

Rowley, Charles K., editor. Democracy and Public Choice. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987. Chapter 20, Margaret A. Monaco and Charles K. Rowley’s “A Political Economy of Budget Deficits” (pages 223–242).

Session IV - Redistributive Politics and the Welfare State

Wagner, Richard E. To Promote the General Welfare –– Market Processes vs. Political Transfers. San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1989. Chapter 5, “Public Spending and Income Redistribution” (pages 89–106) and Chapter 8, “The Transfer Society and the Welfare State” (pages 155–178).

Session V - Elections and the Problem of Voter Ignorance

Caplan, Bryan. The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. Introduction, “The Paradox of Democracy” (pages 1–4) and Chapter 1, “Beyond the Miracle of Aggregation” (pages 5–22).

Pincione, Guido and Fernando Tesón. Rational Choice and Democratic Deliberation. A Theory of Discourse Failure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Selections from Chapter 2, “The Epistemic Argument for Deliberation” (pages 8–39).

Session VI - Constitutional Reform as a Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Buchanan, James M. and Geoffrey Brennan. The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Volume 10, The Reasons of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2000. Chapter 9, “Is Constitutional Revolution Possible in Democracy?” (pages 149–167).

Grossman, Herschel I. “The state: Agent or proprietor?” Economics of Governance 1 (2000): 3–11.