Thursday, January 10, 2013

Professor James M. Buchanan, no more

The most liked line from his work is this: “My task has been to ‘uneducate’ the economists.”

"James M. Buchanan, who died Wednesday at age 93, was one of history's greatest economists. Though he won the Nobel Prize in 1986, Jim at heart was always a farm boy from Tennessee—an old-fashioned, hardworking American who disdained unearned privileges as well as deeply distrusting the promises of politicians and the passions of collectives." More here

"As Buchanan put it in “Liberty, Market and the State” (1986), politics is “a process within which individuals, with separate and potentially differing interests and values, interact for the purpose of securing individually valued benefits of cooperative effort.” More here.

  • "Buchanan believed that government is necessary to produce public goods (mainly security, but a few others too), hence politics as exchange. The problem in this sort of exchange is that the majority (or perhaps a minority, like bureaucrats) will be tempted to exploit the rest of the population. Rational individuals will want to protect themselves against this danger with a unanimous, if only implicit, social contract that constitutionally limits what the state can do. We must, as the subtitle of The Limits of Liberty indicates, stand “between anarchy and Leviathan.”

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