Richard Ebeling emails:
I participated in the March 8, 2016 “Libertarian Angle,” webinar sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, with the Foundation’s president, Jacob G. Hornberger, on the topic: “The History of Economic Thought, Part 8: “Public Choice Theory and the Economics of the Political Process.”
“Government” is often viewed as the majestic machine that has the capacity to solve all the problems of society – as long as the “right” people are elected and put in charge to do all of those “good works” for “society.”
Public Choice theory, developed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, attempts to apply the logic of economic reasoning and analysis for understanding the reality of the nature and workings of the political process.
It analyzes the self-interested motivations of politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups, the interactions among who generate the political outcomes we experience as citizens of a country. It explains the institutional biases that result in the growth of government and the reasons for concentrated benefits for some at the cost and expense of many others. And how the “reasonableness” for most citizens to be “rationally ignorant” about how and what government does plays into the hands of those use the political process for privilege and plunder at others’ expense.
It also highlights, indirectly, the importance and power of ideas if the necessary institutional changes are to ever be brought about to restraint and reduce the size and scope of government.