Gordon Tullock triumphant

My colleague Gordon Tullock, along with Thomas Schelling, is one of the most deserving scholars never to have received a Nobel Prize [Ed Prescott and Eugene Fama are also obviously deserving, though they are much younger].

A new Liberty Fund series may help rectify this injustice. In ten cheap volumes ($12.00 for the first, 450 pp.) we will receive the greatest hits of Tullock. The first book, just published, presents Tullock’s best essays, including his classic article on rent-seeking behavior; read this summary as well.

Gordon’s degree is in law, many of his formative experiences were in post-WWII China (some say he was a spy), and he took only a single economics class, from Henry Simons at Chicago. Nonetheless Gordon is an economist to the core and full of intellectual surprises.

Gordon is best-known for his co-authorship of Calculus of Consent, which set the foundation for how economists think about voting rules and “politics as exchange.” But I think as much about his lesser-known contributions. He wrote early works on the economics of scientific organization, the economics of trials, and the economics of animal societies, including insects. These works have yet to be mined for their full insights. His Politics of Bureaucracy remains a classic.

Gordon is very much a systematic thinker, although he is oddly reluctant to admit this fact. I take his central insight to be the importance of law, but also that real laws are given by economic incentives, rather than by what is on the books. Here is Gordon’s 46-page vita, with a brief written introduction.

Kudos to Charles Rowley for having edited the volumes, and here is a more general link to the Liberty Fund publishing program.


Comments for this post are closed