Tullock’s Questions?

Gordon Tullock was famous for asking a lot of questions. Some odd, some uncomfortable, some on the spot and some in his work. For example, Gordon would often ask, Why don’t we invade Brazil? Meaning why did countries stop invading other countries and setting up colonies? It’s a good question. I am interested in collecting more of Tullock’s questions. Please respond with any questions Gordon asked you or questions that you find him asking in his work. Thanks!



Gordon once walked onto a plane, saw me sitting in first class (where he would be seated) and asked, "i thought they didn't let the lower classes up here?"

Not quite what you had in mind but he had a wonderfully endearing sense of humor, once you realized he wasn't actually (intentionally) being a jerk.

Why don't we invade countries and set up colonies anymore?

"Well, you see, George, I did like it, back in the old days when the prerequisite of a British campaign was that the enemy should under no circumstances carry guns — even spears made us think twice. The kind of people we liked to fight were two feet tall and armed with dry grass."

- Captain Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) Blackadder Goes Forth.

There could be something to this. My rejoinder was going to be that powers have always had many bloody wars where they played predator on their well-armed neighbours. But the 19th century was relatively peaceful.

One interpretation is that the 19th century great powers did all their predation on soft targets that required little war. While that was going on, they got some practice living peacefully with each other, although those skills did not really help much until after WWII.

they got some practice living peacefully with each other,

The mediatization of Germany, the defeat of Napoleon, and the decay and dissolution of the Spanish empire left the continent with an agreeable five power balance (Britain, France, Prussia, Hapsburgs, and Russia).

The GREAT STAGNATION! No more low hanging fruit.

No more low hanging fruit or particularly sharp blades of dry grass.

Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.
– Hilaire Belloc

Meaning why did countries stopped invading other countries and setting up colonies?

Pardon? When did this stop happening?

Why did we stop colonizing countries?

Partly rhetorical, but apart from exceptions like the Belgians in Congo was colonization actually bad? Is India, Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S., Australia etc actually worse off because of colonization?

No of course not. Because the disparities between civilizations were so great that a moral case could be made at the time, whereas today the disparities are much less and hence the argument for colonization a giant null.

Indeed Sir! Our Civilizing mission brings light unto this darkened world. Perhaps one day the savages will thank us.

By extension, what is the moral case today for not legally allowing educated, well-off suburban families to forcibly seize & raise poor inner-city black kids? Will the kids be worse off because?

Seems like a civilization scale disparity to me.

Personally I believe in bringing back impressment for those lazy lay-abouts in the slums, the Navy can always use more men. Send the rest of them to be conscripted into the Army I say, although the last time I brought that up to a Field Marshall he sneered and asked why he would need 50,000 young men peeling potatoes in Aldershot. In my reckoning that mostly describes the current Army any way ha-ha, but I held my tongue at that time.

Good idea, but you'd need an estimate of the supply elasticity of black babies.. if every one you snatched were to be replaced by additional childbearing.. well, you see the problem.

Of course classic racialist attitudes coming out on this blog. What a surprise.

I can't tell if you're a new character account or not

Boxers don't twist so much and are far more comfortable.

No I don't see the problem. Were the British often complaining about having too many plantation workers because they bred too fast?

More babies, more hands to mow the lawn & wash the dishes. After all, the colonial subjects must somehow pay back the benevolence of their masters in helping them across the civilizational gap!

Will the kids be worse off because?

1. Institutional and foster care is pretty much a disaster that you only prefer as a last resort.

2. The inner city young would be better off if local governments would address public order deficits and schools had some institutional purpose more elevated than employing people with MEd. degrees. Address those problems first.

3. The added benefits suburban parents can offer a youth who is not living in a viperous neighborhood are on the margins.

1. If you are going to use the raw power of an assumption to say that foster care is a disaster, then might as well tell Chip that colonization was a similar disaster too. :)

2. Why should local governments address the problems that affect the inner city young? That's like expecting the British East India Company to care about the famine struck peasants of Bengal.

If you are going to use the raw power of an assumption

An assumption??? Where you been?

Why should local governments address the problems that affect the inner city young?

I dunno. Maybe elected officials are vaguely interested in personal accomplishment and the welfare of their constituents. Been known to happen.

Not to be too pedantic, but urban and suburban families not only have a much narrower disparity than, say, a low caste Hindu in 1850 versus a colonial power with railway technology and a propensity for educating children, but these urban/suburban families share a legal system, whereas undiscovered territories did not.

Anyway, the anti colonial argument is so conventional it should be easy. Did the costs of colonization outweigh the benefits?

Simple question.

Its about much more - our prestige, our place at the Table of Nations

So invading countries, enslaving peoples and murdering others all for prestige is a good thing?

You fancy Europeans introduced slavery to loci where it was unknown?

Industrialization doesn't need colonization. Quite the contrary, Indian industries were systematically destroyed by the British.

Art Deco
You fancy Europeans introduced slavery to loci where it was unknown?

This is a very good point. The Portuguese did not go into the interior of Africa for slaves. Those that did, did not return(disease). And why, when the local chiefs would sell you their defeated enemies and other surplus population for rum and glass beads. We did this in West Africa, the Arabs had been doing this is East Africa for millennia(although they castrated the males) and without the rum and glass beads.

Post-colonization India saw improvements on life expectancy, schooling for children, transport time and many other variables.

I'm not saying colonization is altruistic, but did colonization bring more benefits than costs? The evidence suggests it did, and that they continue to accrue even now, with legal and cultural norms in places like India, Singapore, HK, the Americas, Australia etc.

Indians are stuck driving on the left side of the road.

Whatever benefits there are are outweighed by that, methinks.

One might also add that the imperial power and its agents are merely replacing (or, in the British case, superintending) the local elite who do not necessarily have much connection with or concern for the local populace. The segment of the population whose interests are injured by that is pretty narrow.

You find some ghastly failures from the post-Napoleonic imperial enterprise (e.g. the Belgian Congo), but also you find loci that shamble along passably (e.g. India). A fat chunk of Africa's troubles can be laid at the door not of their incorporation into Europe's ambo, but to the pell-mell nature of the 'decolonization' enterprise. Boundary adjustments and an interval operating electoral and bureaucratic institutions (as Caribbean politicians had) might have been very tonic for Africa.

Please don't give them any ideas. I don't want my descendants having to pay reparations to 'America's Stolen Generation' 50 years from now because the Blank-Slaters thought the answer to the test score gap was for black children to spend less time with their taciturn biological parents.

If this trend keeps up, they're going to be calling for black embryos to be implanted in white wombs to cover that pesky 8 month and 30 day gap ("But not a day earlier!").

How can you just be so obsessed with race. You really believe that all anyone thinks about is race and race-relations, that's all you think about I guess but its insane. On top of which you really need to go around making neo-fascist comments like this .

Fascism is the State uber alles. What makes you think I'm a fascist?

I'm pretty sure you would have no problem with a totalitarian state as long as its enforced a white male hierarchy. Many of the people here just use "free" market economics as a club to beat the less fortunate people in society, the results you really want are a strict, traditional hierarchy. Maybe neo-feudalist is a better term.

Life in an authoritarian state would depend on the culture and values it promoted. Authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia or Qatar I would probably find repulsive, but then I'm not a Wahabbist Muslim. Pinochet's Chile was fine as long as you weren't a Bolshevik. Amish townships are thriving under white male hierarchy. Come to think of it, the entire West has done unbelievably well under white male hierarchy.

A totalitarian State is needed where the regime is violating the laws of the physical and biological universe, like a government which decrees equality of outcomes among its citizens.

Hierarchy is how humans structure their societies, which is why business organizations, militaries, bureaucracies, families and religious creeds utilize it. Demotic rule is unstable and inevitably violent, as in Rwanda. Places like Rwanda do well under strong leaders like Paul Kagame, who should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize rather than Obama.

Of course violence and oppression is great when its pursuing your own goals. This is why when you scratch a "libertarian" you so often find a thuggish reactionary. Fortunately things are changing and we're moving towards a world where people like you are going to be less and less influential. And I'm sure Pinochet killed his fair share of non-Bolsheviks and even if he did kill Bolsheviks I am not in favor of living in a society where you can be killed for thinking something that some General doesn't like.
The so call Laws of the Biological Universe are just a bunch of BS You made up because you and your type are overly obsessed by one thing.

Unfortunately this is what most "conservative thought" amounts to these days.

Reminds me of Steve Sailer's Obama book. He insists Obama is obsessed with race. Classic projection.

True, Sailer is projecting. People who fixate on blacks and Jews and bring both subjects up frequently and on the most curious occasions do not perceive of themselves as odd.

Obama's done some strange things (sitting in Rev. Wright's congregation for 20 years). He's also been someone who manifested little interest in his home and the world of his upbringing, such as it was. He left the islands for his schooling and has not spent a day resident in Honolulu since 1982. He spent much of his adult life in Chicago, a city to which he was a stranger prior to age 24, and relocated there for odd reasons. He married Michelle Robinson. She wasn't an odd choice, just one contrary to averages. Obama's upbringing and ancestry being what it was, he had no particular affinity for the domestic black population (who are thin on the ground in Honolulu and nearly unknown in Java). People who knew him at law school have offered a portrait of him very much at a variance with people who knew him antecedent to that. He's an odd piece of work.

'I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race.'

-Barack Obama.

Art Deco, most of what you say of Obama is also true of me: a white guy from rural Georgia who moved to Chicago for no real reason except thst it's an amazing city a thousand times more culturally diverse than my home.

Side note: another (black) friend of mine from the same hometown moved to Chicago for law school. One of his profs was Obama.

The Democrats might say they are working on that. The next step in daycare.

Colonisation was pretty bad. *Especially* in places like Australia. Modern Australian civilisation is very fine, but it is the civilisation of the invaders. For moral purposes you must look to the Aboriginies. And we are not just talking about the their current living standards, we must count all the slaughters.

Where the natives were a bit stronger, it depends on the baseline. For example. British India was probably roughly as badly governed as Mughal India on a day-to-day basis, until the late 19th century. On the other hand the British built up institutions that the natives looked unlikely to build. The place is certainly better off than it would have been if the Mughals and Marathas just fought each-other without any European influence. But is that the proper baseline?

What if Europeans came only as peaceful traders and a source of knowledge & technology. Perhaps competing powers would have leased a necklace of Mumbai-like of port cities without posing a military threat.

If you keep going back to the aboriginal population almost every major human movement was bad wasn't it?

"apart from exceptions"

Apart form the exceptions there are no exceptions.

Would the Taino say colonization was an improvement;... if there were any left, that is?

Generally, colonization was bad to Africa but its current problems cannot be blamed on colonization alone...

"Are you always this dense?"

It was easier to invade Portugal.

This was in reply to the question posed: Why don't we invade Brazil.

Because it's full of Brazilians, and there really isn't any money in it.

Have you seen Brazilian's? That's not a valid reason not to invade; or at the very least visit on a Congressional fact finding tour.

I worked for Gordon (calling him Gordon rather than Professor Tullock was always good for at least one "question") for a year in law school and, as other commenters are attesting to, he often let you know how he really thought with a question, but the all-time best question was, after a mini-seminar on his thoughts on voting "How can the law school allow someone dumb enough to think their vote will count to have your job?" Brilliant on so many levels.

Why do politicians cost so little, when the stakes are so high?

He stumped me twice:

Should I pop this?

Whassup with all these libertarians looking for tenure at publicly funded schools?

Because Mrs. Bryan Caplan expects her husband to have secure employment and if she's stuck with all the mortgage payments with her lawyer's salary, he can sleep on some filthy couch in DC and see the children he does not want to spend time on twice a month.

Why don’t we invade Brazil? Meaning why did countries stop invading other countries and setting up colonies?

I'll hazard an answer:

1. With the replacement of agriculture by industry as the salient component of a country's productive base, extensive landholdings were not such a source of either wealth or power. What a power needed most was ways of protecting its valuable capital stock and manpower. Air defenses are efficient toward that end. Territory, not so much.

2. Popular mobilization with literacy, education, and the generation of mass loyalties not derived from local residence or lineages. The imperial power thus faces more cost-inducing resistance to its rule. See the British in India or Kenya.

3. Lines of communication. Leon Wieseltier once said of Soviet Russia that there was no need for a 'Rapid Deployment Force' such as the Carter Administration was hoping to build, because there were only rapid deployment forces. Imperial development after the Napoleonic period was (Russia excepted) almost entirely devoted to assembling overseas dependencies of populations with low levels of general mobilization and primitive technology. That imposes costs and also vitiates the interest on the part of the domestic political class and populace in holding onto a territory. They used to say about Algeria, "Ici, c'est la France", which was a way of saying that Indo-China and Senegal were not.

and setting up colonies?

Just to point out that in the post-Napoleonic period, there was not much colonization per se. European populations tended to be a rotating population of soldiers and civil servants and all in all, a demographically tiny segment.

In Africa, European colonists were found in the highlands and in the southern part of the continent where the tropics gives way to the subtropics gives way to the temperate zone. South Africa and Southwest Africa were the only territories where the caucasian population reached double digits. In Rhodesia, the white share stood at about 4% of the total. In Tanginyika, it stood at 0.1% on the eve of independence in 1961. For all that they prate about colonialism in the Arab world, European settlement was unimportant east of the Maghreb bar in a small knock of Levantine territory consisting of the Valley of Jezreel and the coastal plain between Gaza and Haifa.

Perhaps useful to define terms. To me colonies indicate settlement, and the few successful examples of such are largely British colonies in North America and Australasia. That is distinct from imperialism or trade. The shortest answer might be to have colonies one must have settlers. It helps to have women settlers, an ideology of settlement and sustained multi-generational support from the home country.

By colonies, are we talking about 1) settlement and/or 2) governance and/or 3) favorable or exclusive trade terms between the colony and the colonizer (and perhaps other colonies of the colonizer)? With respect to settlements, strategic settlements at ports (Hong Kong) control access to the inland trade, without having to settle inland.

A colony is a subset of the generic dependency. Tanginyika was a dependency, but had no colonists bar a small corps of East Indian merchants.

It's a patch of imperial pink is what it is!
From Cape To Cairo!

When he spoke at my university in 2007, his topic was (paraphrased): Why is it that in most of the world the British Empire sought to rule over the indigenous people, but in North America they sought to replace them?

Because North America was exceedingly sparsely populated, the local aboriginals militarily ineffective by and large, and the climate temperate with ample supplies of agricultural land. You did not have to 'replace' the 'natives'. You just had to shove them aside.

A similar case to i.e. Australia. I wager it was because the natives were not very taxable or enslaveable.

Or very numerous.

I generally agree. I would add that it had to do with the British's intuition about the inclination of the native population to engage in large-scale farming. My hunch is that the more mobile native populations in North America were less inclined to stay tied to the land.

Me thinks you should read Charles Mann's "1491". The native populations had very advanced agricultural systems in place especially in the Mississippi and Amazon valleys. What changed that was the 95% death rates from disease...

Was he accusing the British Empire of murderous tyranny?! Our mission is a Civilizing one and I don't need to hear nonsense from some foaming-at-the-mouth bleeding heart anti-imperialist!

Yep typical neo-con believing that everyone outside the US is just some benighted, simpleton looking to be "liberated"

You are arguing with someone who openly confessed to being a troll not ten comments ago. You must be new on the job. Don't worry the checks from Soros clear even if you don't turn up the indignity to 100 with every post.

You are arguing with someone who openly confessed to being a troll not ten comments ago.

See this lace? Who do you think I am lad some soap box Commentor in Hyde Park? I'm the COMMODORE for God's Sakes!

"I’m the COMMODORE for God’s Sakes!"

That's an excellent point. Go fetch be a brandy, Commodore.

He's a gag poster. All his posts are ironic.

A lot of armchair generals out there in neo-con land, they"ll do all the fighting you want so long as they don't have to get up from behind their keyboards.

Norman Podhoretz is 84 years old and did his military service 60 years ago.

Sir - I am in fact a Navy man! I do however have an Armchair and it sits in the Captain's Quarters aboard the HMS Formidable!

One of the good things about the draft.

He is the very model of a trolling MR commenter

"JAMRC: Was he accusing the British Empire of murderous tyranny?! Our mission is a Civilizing one..."
"The Antidote: Yep typical neo-con believing that everyone outside the US is just some benighted,"

Hello? Geography check.

I don't know what the Antidote is, but I think I would prefer simply to be infected with the original disease.

I don't know why, but I find myself warming to the pro-dote position.

How do you rule over small tribes scattered over vast distances with no towns or ecomic output?

It wasn't so much the colonists sought to replace them as they ignored them.

Granted it might be in the paraphrasing, but the question assumes the British had a strategy, and if they did, they were able to effectuate it. I think in North America private actors tended to prevail, and if anything British policy was to try to keep the colonists near the coasts and not antagonize the Indians.

It wasn't the British that sought to replace the natives, it was the colonists who wanted their land that did. in fact, the colonists explicitly sighted the refusal to allow Indian removal as CB in the declaration, "He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

That is the darkest question I've ever heard in my whole life. Then again, I haven't finished reading this comments section.

I'd suggest we still do, just differently. We send engineers to countries with decent infrastructure and acceptable property rights to set up joint venture manufacturing facilities. The guy sounds like a delight. Just like my old manager whose highest praise was "that's not the dumbest idea I've ever heard."

Collecting Tullock's questions sounds like an interesting project. As for the topic of colonialism it just goes on and on. Quick take: As populations, Flynn Effects, and urbanization rise there are the creations of more effectively functioning local economic and political markets and so the economics of benefiting a national elite by the use of the resources across national boundaries becomes more complex with ever diminishing marginal returns. Hence the de-colonizations around World Wars I and II, Vietnam, and all that. Arguably colonial type methods and processes continue on in terms of internal identity-politics and meddling in the politics of other countries (.. perhaps something along the lines of the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man book).

Why, here in Europe, colonialism is alive and well. Though, of course, it's going in the other direction.

You must be joking. Where in Europe are you? Who runs your country? What is the social status of Muslims?

I seem to remember this question: Why don't vice presidents as a rule plot to kill presidents?

A famous one is why there are revolutions ("The Paradox of Revolutions")

A question which may not be original with him but is nevertheless a good one is why ex-KGB agents and other Soviet officials with blood on their hands are not hunted down at all. (Compare this to how ex-Nazis are treated.)

If I recall correctly, the first and last ones appear in his book "Open Secrets of American Foreign Policy", which probably contains many other questions that I cannot remember at present.

A question which may not be original with him but is nevertheless a good one is why ex-KGB agents and other Soviet officials with blood on their hands are not hunted down at all. (Compare this to how ex-Nazis are treated.)

Because they're living in Russia wherein the government has had no interest in this sort of revanchism. Also, the ghastly 7-digit death tolls largely ceased at the end of the war (and certainly with the death of Joseph Stalin). The Nuremburg trials and de-nazification courts were timely. Tribunals incorporated retrospectively to try men who did this or that during the second World War or during the 1930s, not so much.

Well that and the Communists killed off the people most likely to vigorously object.

The Paradox of Revolutions? The War Nerd could explain that well.

A question which may not be original with him but is nevertheless a good one is why ex-KGB agents and other Soviet officials with blood on their hands are not hunted down at all. (Compare this to how ex-Nazis are treated.)

That one's easy, Russia is run by a KGB agent.

If you assume everyone is only interested in maximizing their bank account, that ideology, loyalty to tribe, and a desire for "glory" don't really matter(as many economists seem to) than revolutions will seem paradoxical. As will any volunteer army for that matter.

Neither Messrs. Gorbachev or Yeltsin were KGB agents. However, there were a great many people in the establishment with long histories in the Communist Party who would have been uninterested in that exercise in historical memory, they were all preoccupied with the country's other problems, and I'm not sure there's any precedent for convening tribunals 38 to 46 years after the fact to try septuagenarians. The old Nazis chased down had escaped the legal process in place after the war. Also, you had these NGOs and offices within foreign governments who made that their mission. What the German government would have done left to its own devices is a counter-factual.

Question: why did Tullock's wife not accompany him to the optician to critique his choices? Who'd want hideous 1970s specs perched on their nose?

Answer to that one is simple, AD. Gordon never married, never had a wife.

Odd; he seems from comments here like the kind of man who would have happily neglected a wife.

Why don't more women succeed in a trade dominated by obnoxious, emotionally-crippled old men?

Are you talking about the Admiralty?

Millian, wrong blog. http://therapy.com/

Morality. In the past, the order of the day was for the most powerful countries to invade and plunder the smaller countries, or at least force them to pay tribute. One could argue that the nineteenth century was the first time when it was widely considered to be morally wrong, but only if done to fellow Europeans. In the early twentieth century this new morality was gradually extended to non-Whites. WWII was the turning point when theory was turned to practice. America won wwII, yet all it took was a few small pacific islands. It didn't it annex Japan, nor even force upon it excessive reparations, and it gave up the Philippines. It didn't take colonies from the weakened European powers either, instead it pressured them to give the colonies independence, as long as they would not be communist. It had "protected" Latin America from European powers and strong armed countries into "free trade," but apart from Puerto Rico and a few small Caribbean islands no countries were made into colonies. We still invade countries and kill a lot of people, causing a lot of hatred of us, but we don't loot those countries, we let the Iraqis keep their oil. In this new morality, the powerful and rich countries owe the poor countries "aid."

Not everyone has gotten the message. Jews were some of the loudest promoters of the new morality, but apparently their country has some kind of exemption. African tribe A is continually seeking to rule over and oppress African tribe B. Middle Eastern tribes try to do the same thing, but none has the capacity to do it to the extent that it would be called "colonization." In this new morality birthrates and ethnocentrism matter more than bullets and technology in the struggle for power, thus you see Mexicans colonizing the Southwest instead of Americans colonizing Mexico.

Morality. In the past, the order of the day was for the most powerful countries to invade and plunder the smaller countries,...Not everyone has gotten the message. Jews were some of the loudest promoters of the new morality, but apparently their country has some kind of exemption.

Your problem is that you fancy the lenses used by raving anti-semites are anything but hopelessly distorting.

I simply do not see Jews as being morally superior to gentiles, as you and Jewish neocons do.

You also do not see that Israel has not conquered any territory in nearly 50 years (bracketing out a temporary occupation of anarchic southern Lebanon, over in 3 years), has been willing to disgorge territory to parties who would take it (and sometimes just unilaterally, see Gaza), and has never been engaged in warfare with any party who was not asking for it. And yet they are 'invading' and 'plundering'. That's your broken lenses, the same lenses which you use, out of the blue, to arrive at the observation that I see Jews as 'morally superior' or some such. Israel is collectively an accomplished society. They have much better politics and more productive enterprise than surrounding Arab societies (but much worse manners). It is also a society of human beings, so apt to manifest human shortcomings. Some people obsess over these. I do not.

It's not that I don't see those things, I simply ask, so what? Nineteenth century Imperialists could have made many of these same excuses. We are only taking land from savages who are asking for it! White man's burden! Look how accomplished we are! Look at our science and our technology! Our democracy(except for the people we don't allow to vote)! Our empire hasn't expanded in X amount of years!

Israel is a classic colonialist state. Frankly, I don't care much what happens in the West Bank, but if Jewish neocons are going to call for multiculturalism for everyone but themselves I'm going to call them out on their hypocrisy.

There is not much of an analogy, anyone can see there is not, as can you. It's just that you've got issues.

"Middle Eastern tribes try to do the same thing, but none has the capacity to do it to the extent that it would be called “colonization.”"

That's not really true. Saddam (Iraq) would most certainly have kept Kuwait as the 19th Iraqi province if the Western powers (led by America) hadn't kicked him out.

Kuwait was not considered a colony, it was "Iraq proper" for them. Just like Western Germany didn't "colonized" DDR or North Vietnam didn't colonize South.

Except it was never 'Iraq proper'. Kuwait is a discrete city-state separated from settled portions of Iraq by desert. It has been under the rule of the al-Sabah family for nearly 300 years. It was a British protectorate from 1899 to 1961. They speak in Kuwait a variant of the Gulf spectrum of Arabic dialects, not the Mesopotamian dialects spoken in Iraq. Iraq was assembled as a distinct entity only in 1920 from the Ottoman vilayets of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul and the Sanjak of Zor and its boundaries not fixed until 1925. The notion that Kuwait was properly a province of Iraq is tommyrot.

It depends on the definition of colonialism, Kuwait is close to Iraq and the people are ethnically similar to Iraqis.

Actually, the politics of the two countries were as dissimilar as any two Arab countries could be, Iraqis were not incorporated into any local lineages, and Kuwaiti society has been quite resistant to assimilating outsiders other than Bedouin. Kuwaitis are modally Sunni, whereas Iraqi Arabs are modally Shi'ite. Ethnic minorities in Kuwait tend to be migrant populations of recent vintage, very unlike Iraq's ancient Kurdish population.

What are you really saying, Clover? That Saddam's invasion and occupation of Kuwait was somehow acceptable given the (alleged) ethnic similarity of Iraqis and Kuwaitis?

"Them brown skinned oil exporters all look alike, so let's not worry about things like Kuwait -- for all of its flaws -- being a UN member and sovereign nation"?

No, simply that it wasn't "colonialism."

I don't think America should have intervened in that war. We gained nothing but enemies.

Public choice economists have always overrated Tullock.

Countries haven't stopped invading other countries (see: Ukraine). To the extent that they have, it's because there isn't any profit in it for most of the people who run the country. In the course of conquering Gaul, Caesar enslaved and sold over a million Gauls. All the money went to him personally. Putin and his cronies won't get that kind of return.

This is the sort of stuff that makes historians laugh at economists.

In the course of conquering Gaul, Caesar enslaved and sold over a million Gauls.

See Barbara Tuchman on the uses and reliability of pre-modern quotes of dimension.

Forget the specific time frame but he had a graph showing the growth of government spending (i'm pretty sure that was the item used to measure government growth in general) over a few centuries. It seems to maintain a fairly flat profile for most of the time and then starts it's upward trend.

"Why?" was the question he was asing about that.

we haven't stopped, we just call it offshoring. you colonize to extract good land or cheap labor. and why pay the expenses associated with governing a colony when all you really need is a regime in place that's favorable to your offshored corporations?

"Offshored corporations" meaning businesses that produce manufactures for export. Just because they're the object of Andre Gunder Frank's poisonous fantasies does not mean normal people would object to them.

"does not mean normal people would object to them" - They may not. Still the point stands "a regime in place that’s favorable to your offshored corporations" was not really possible in the colonial era, without (expensive) colonisation. Now it is. That's why no colonisation now.

'I am interested in collecting more of Tullock’s questions.'

You mean like the one he asked himself why he did not share the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with Buchanan?

My favorite question of his was during a seminar presentation at the VA Square campus. A young lady was presenting her work and discussed an overview of public choice framework.

After she said a few things, Prof Tulloch (in a loud voice) asked "Did you even read that paper?" She said she had. He responded "Well if you had you would have known that I never said what you said I said."


I don’t think this fits in the “isn’t he cute” category, but back in the 1970s Tullock asked me, “Can you think of even one good book co-authored by two women?"

Imaginative literature seldom has co-authors, if ever, so you'd be talking about some sort of monograph which translates academic research. Of course, this had not been published yet in 1971:


Skimmed through the comments, and they are disappointing by MR standards. I've noticed here that the more comments, the worse the threads, and have started skipping threads with large numbers of comments, that strategy works well from a time management perspective.

But as to the question of why European/ American countries don't invade and conquer areas in other parts of the world, one answer is that they still do. Has everyone forgotten Iraq? This was even called "liberal imperialism" or "humanitarian imperialism", though mostly outside the US But i agree this happens less often and there are good reasons for it, as shown to an extent by the invasion of Iraq itself.

The population of the world was one billion in Napoleon's time, and got its second billion right before World War 2. It then expanded to seven billion and counting. Most of this increase was in the parts of the world where Europeans had taken over in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The percentage of the world population who lived in Europe and the US, even after mass immigration from their former colonies and protectorates, dropped. I don't have the exact figures in my head, but it was considerable, something like from a quarter of the world's population to a tenth.

Since the new industrial technologies were developed and adapted in Europe and the US first, it gave western countries a huge advantage over everyone else, that could only be temporary as the rest of the world adapated these technologies. Some people say innovation slowed down post World War 2, but there is definitely a low hanging fruit issue, you are not going to get situations where your side has automatic rifles and the other side doesn't. In the nineteenth century the West could and did exploit its technological edge, but eventually they were going to lose it. Btw, what I just wrote is widely repeated in standard histories and is definitely not some earth shattering insight.

So if you want to do Age of Imperialism again, from the perspective of the Western powers you are fighting up a population gradient with less of a technological advantage. That is really it. There are lots more people to police, at a time when Western armies tend to have fewer Soldiers to afford more firepower, and even with the extra firepower these extra people are better armed. That is all there is too it.

Brazil is a weird example because no European or American power tried to invade Brazil even during the height of the age of imperialism, in the nineteenth century. The Portuguese took over from the local Indians over a centuries long, stop-and-start process, and they fought off an attempt by the Dutch to muscle in. In the nineteenth century the Brazilian government attacked or intervened in other countries (Uruguay, Paraguay). No one considered attacking Brazil, and taking South America as a whole when the British tried to grab part of Argentina they lost. Even at what everyone acknowledged was a lower level of development than Europe, post-colonial South America was just developed enough to keep its independence.

Skimmed through the comments, and they are disappointing by MR standards. I’ve noticed here that the more comments, the worse the threads, and have started skipping threads with large numbers of comments, that strategy works well from a time management perspective.

I decided not to read the rest of your comment due to your deficit of concision and your putting on airs.

What's the optimal foreign policy?
What's the optimal border policy?
Brazil and Mississippi have effectively the same geographies why such different economic histories?
Why don't democracies succumb to more catastrophes?

No tropical rainforest in Mississippi and no savannah, either.

Brazil and Mississippi have effectively the same geographies why such different economic histories?

Different people.

Different soil quality is probably one factor.

This is not an intellectual question, but it is very Gordon. On more than one occasion he asked me, "Whay haven't you been arrested by the sheriff yet?" I finally figured the proper response: "Because he has been too budy chasing you around, Gordon!"

For the specific case of Brazil, it has 200 million people, and it would not be so easy for a foreign country to rule over them. Looking at a similar situation, even in 1848, president Polk decided not to take over all of Mexico after the Mexican war, since he realized that would mean the US having to rule over millions of people with a different culture. And how you can justify having a democracy at home and ruling other people without regards to their actual will overseas?

For the more general case, it seems to me that the Western countries have more and more difficulty ruling over thirld world countries after World War II: the Dutch weren't able to put down anticolonal revolts in Indonesia after the war, the French suffering military setbacks in Vietnam and Algeria, Portugal lose its colonies after 10 years of a colonial war, US couldn't defeat Vietnam. Only Britain had a more or less smooth anticolonial transition. The last colonial empire was the Soviet Union, who lost all its "republics" in 1991.

Well then why not take over Luxembourg?

also, let's not forget that decolonization happened during the Cold War, when the West and the Soviet Union were competing for the sympathy of the Thirld World, so having colonies became a no-no

Gordon was a bully. He may have said there are no sacred cows and that a battle of ideas is the noblest of pursuits, but he was a bully. It was not enough to win a debate - he had to humiliate the other side. Looking at the comments, you will notice a certain condescension toward women. As a student at Arizona when he was there, this is totally consistent with my experience.

Make no mistake - I am not criticizing his scholarship. Just his attitude. I would be surprised if he ever won any teaching awards.

I'll criticize his scholarship. I predict that apart from "rent seeking" and the people who personally had to endure him, the world will have entirely forgotten Gordon Tullock in 10 years. This is not an ideological statement; I would not say the same of Buchanan.

"Why don’t we invade Brazil? Meaning why did countries stop invading other countries and setting up colonies?"

People can learn.

An odd question. During his lifetime the US invaded Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, participated in the murders of millions in Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc. etc. What was he doing this whole time? Oh, teaching economics.

yea, but those conflicts were mostly shit-stirring on behalf of the military industrial complex. it's not as though we were sending boatloads of religious dissidents or convicts to live there.

It was nothing of the kind. Stop pretending you know anything.

Cuban exiles had a beachhead in Cuba, the 'invasions' of Cambodia and Laos were minor incursions in remote areas already in a state of belligerency. Outside the imagination of Gareth Porter, no one 'participated' in the murder of 'millions' (the conventional figure is 500,000) but those doing the killing. There were no 'millions' murdered in Chile, Nicaragua, or El Salvador. Those were countries in states of violent political conflict. That conflict was not manufactured by outsiders and episodes of violent conflict are features of the life of nations. The Chilean government, per the usual dodgy NGO, killed about 3,000 people over a period of about 4 years. The civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador likely claimed about 90,000 total, and yes, the Nicaraguan government and the El Salvadoran insurgents used live ammunition.

Allan, you provide a fine example of the almost sociopathic character of the contemporary left.

Only a half million? Gee, what a relief.

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