Thursday, June 22, 2017

This year's evil libertarian: James M. Buchanan

Book Review: 'Democracy In Chains,' By Nancy MacLean : NPR - Genevieve Valentine:

June 18, 2017 - "[E]conomist James Buchanan — an early herald of libertarianism — began to cultivate a group of like-minded thinkers with the goal of changing government.... This sixty-year campaign to make libertarianism mainstream and eventually take the government itself is at the heart of Democracy in Chains....

"Buchanan headed a group of radical thinkers (he told his allies 'conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential'), who worked to centralize power in states like Virginia.... As MacLean lays out in their own words, these men developed a strategy of misinformation and lying about outcomes until they had enough power that the public couldn't retaliate against policies libertarians knew were destructive."

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James M. Buchanan, Economic Scholar, Dies at 93 - New York Times - Robert D. McFadden:

January 9, 2013 -  "James M. Buchanan, a scholar and author whose analyses of economic and political decision-making won the 1986 Nobel in economic sciences ... was a leading proponent of public choice theory, which assumes that politicians and government officials, like everyone else, are motivated by self-interest — getting re-elected or gaining more power — and do not necessarily act in the public interest.

"He argued that their actions could be analyzed, and even predicted, by applying the tools of economics to political science in ways that yield insights into the tendencies of governments to grow, increase spending, borrow money, run large deficits and let regulations proliferate....

"Buchanan contended that the pursuit of self-interest by modern politicians often led to harmful public results. Courting voters at election time, for example, legislators will approve tax cuts and spending increases for projects and entitlements favored by the electorate. This combination can lead to ever-rising deficits, public debt burdens and increasingly large governments to conduct the public’s business.

"In lectures, articles and more than 30 books, Dr. Buchanan amplified on the theory of public choice and argued for smaller government, lower deficits and fewer regulations — a spectrum of policy objectives that were ascendant in the 1980s conservative agenda of President Ronald Reagan.

"Over the years since Dr. Buchanan won the Nobel, much of what he predicted has played out. Government is bigger than ever. Tax revenue has fallen far short of public programs’ needs. Public and private borrowing has become a way of life. Politicians still act in their own interests while espousing the public good, and national deficits have soared into the trillions."

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