The 2019 Public Choice Outreach Conference

It’s time to get your applications in for the 2019 Public Choice Outreach conference, a crash course in public choice for students from all fields and walks of life! Professors, please encourage your students to apply!

When is the Public Choice Outreach Conference?
The 2019 Outreach Conference will be held June 14-16th at the Hyatt Centric Arlington in Rosslyn, VA.

What is the Public Choice Outreach Conference?
The Public Choice Outreach Conference is a compact lecture series designed as a “crash course” in Public Choice for students planning careers in academia, journalism, law, or public policy. Graduate students and advanced undergraduates are eligible to apply. Many past participants of the Outreach seminar have gone on to notable careers in academia, law and business.

What will I learn?
Students are introduced to the history and basic tools of public choice analysis, such as models of voting and elections, and models of government and legislative organization. Students also learn to apply public choice theory to a wide range of relevant issues. Finally, students will be introduced to “constitutional economics” and the economics of rule making.

This is a chance to hear talks from Robin Hanson, Alex Tabarrok, Shruti Rajagopolan, Tyler Cowen and more.

Who can apply?
Graduate students and advanced undergraduates are eligible to apply. Students majoring in economics, history, international studies, law, philosophy political science, psychology, public administration, religious studies, and sociology have attended past conferences. Advanced degree students with a demonstrated interest in political economy or demonstrated interest in political economy are invited to apply. Applicants unfamiliar with Public Choice and students from outside of George Mason University are especially encouraged.

What are the fees involved?
Outreach has no conference fee – it is free to attend. Room and meals are included for all participants. However, ALL travel costs are the responsibility of the participants.

Click here for the 2019 Outreach Application


Alex, Since the course is free are the reading materials supplied in public domain? Or At least is there a list of recommended readings?

The course is not only free, room and meals are included for all participants.

Which is interesting, considering that TANSTAAFL is an acronym beloved by libertarians. And one would have through public choice economists too, obviously.'t_no_such_thing_as_a_free_lunch

And to save clockwork_posterior some time - 'Apparently, one cannot be bothered to use the correct spelling of *thought.* Making snarky comments is more important, seemingly. Ironically, this is what I'm doing as well.'

A short intro here

Tyler had some recommend readings here

A longer primer here

Thanks for the reading list Alex

Hasn't the last few years been a refutation of public choice? People are choosing self-harm over personal benefit.

I mean I don't think you can frame this or Brexit as a Public Choice trap. Neither was ever driven by rational self-interest.

Side note, not a response: You're linking to CNN on Twitter - a 2fer! Didn't you get beat up enough yesterday for linking to Vox?

I thought that "you linked Vox, I win" stuff was mildly amusing. Didn't mind anyone having fun.

But I was quite sure the readers I respect understand it is, as the old saying goes, book not cover.

I guess if we want to take it seriously, we can say that anyone writing off mainstream sources of information is taking thier *avoidance* a little to an extreme.

Is Vox only the mirror image of the National Review or Reason? I am happy to read those.

CNN does have an interesting score, low-quality neutral.

More on the role of the media, and bubbles:

Even though special interests have been running the federal government the past two years, I have not noticed any change in the public choice analysis. The election of Trump confirmed the belief that voters are irrational in the sense that Trump voters for the most part voted against interest. Well, not exactly. Trump's actions as president have diverged, and diverged almost completely, from the policy promises he made during the campaign, the most recent divergence being almost $1 trillion in proposed cuts to Medicare in his budget recently submitted to Congress. But such divergence has had no ill-effect on the political support of his base. Public choice theory's essential argument is that voters will elect politicians that will give them free stuff. How does this square with Trump and his supporters? It seems that there is a major flaw in the theory. Sure, Trump delivered benefits to the wealthy (tax cuts, deregulation, etc.), but nothing to the base that got him elected and that will likely vote for him again in his re-election effort.

Maybe I thought of one way. Trump is about hurting out-groups. If Trump voters want the same reward, if their "benefit" is hurting the same out-groups .. it is a kind of Public Choice?

You may remember that during the election "the tears of liberals" were a big thing.

It has only gotten worse:


True enough, but the policy choices to hurt the out-groups also hurt Trump's base (which disproportionately relies on public benefits like social security, Medicare, and Medicaid). An aside, David Frum has written a lengthy article in The Atlantic about immigration (the issue that animates Trump's base) that has received a lot of criticism from liberals and conservatives. Frum's response to the criticism both illuminates the issues and is a much shorter read. Here is the link to Frum's response:

A lot of interesting points, but I am disappointed by one theme. We see it a lot now. Fairly reasonable center-right pundits will say "I love the immigrants, but we have to crack down on them, because populists feel so strongly. How can we deny their feelings?"

That ignores the big picture, and denies democracy, in favor of a partisan veto.

Opinion is remarkably balanced right now. No extreme deserves a veto.

Au contraire!

Faux-Vox: "The expert we consulted that supports our political narrative of the day, the famous political scientist Robert Dahl, says in chapter 4 of his highly cited book, A Preface to Democratic Theory, that if an alternative is 'only slightly preferred by a majority and intensely distasteful to some minority,' then that intense minority should get its way as a matter of democratic fairness."

Why do you hate experts? You must be some sort of anti-science Know-Nothing!

Maybe what does pundits are saying is "I must respect my side, rather than my own beliefs."

I've always thought the main insights were more along the lines of concentrated, relatively homogeneous interests versus highly disbursed and less shared interests. That greatly influences the organizational costs for driving policy actions of representatives.

I think there has also always been a bit of a distinction between election promise and on the job performance in all the (non-ideal) political theories.

To be clear, my shorthand for public choice theory (voters will elect politicians that promise free stuff) doesn't mean I subscribe to the criticism of the theory that has recently been directed toward the late James Buchanan (that it was just a rationalization to cut social welfare programs put in neutral academic sounding theory). I have to point out that Martin Feldstein has a pience in today's WSJ calling for cuts to social security because of the rising deficit. One will recall that Feldstein supported the Republican tax cut that will add $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to debt. With Feldstein, his public choice will always be tax cuts for the wealthy and social welfare program cuts for the not wealthy.

"Students also learn to apply public choice theory to a wide range of relevant issues. "

Such as crashing airliners?

Of course, their are much more important uses.

Such as defending billionaires.

Apparently, one cannot be bothered to use the correct spelling of *there.* Making snarky comments is more important, seemingly. Ironically, this is what I'm doing as well.

And really doing a masterful job, by the way.

>academia, journalism, law, or public policy

Weird how these are the exact same people, isn't it?

Government/media/academia.... you can hold single a seminar for all of them. They are completely interchangeable.

"What are the fees involved? Outreach has no conference fee – it is free to attend. Room and meals are included for all participants...."

That's no good Alex; you're not going to teach people about rent seeking like that!

Your illustrious team should lobby for it to be illegal to provide similar courses by other, doubtless under-qualified instructors. Perhaps make the course a requirement for any further study at your institutions. Then raise attendance prices and replace your line-up with a telecom from the University of Bangalore. And you should also trademark "Public Choice" whilst you are at it; can't have freeloaders profiting from your hard-to-generate insights!

hmmm. Well one might take that observation as a statement that basically all the key social institutions have given up on the primary function and role and have joined the partisan politics level of engagement.

I don't hear much about it these day (but have no interest in looking now so no surprise I don't) about the over politicalization of society and its institutions.

Man I really want to apply, but I'm an engineering major who is minoring in economics so I don't think I'd be accepted at all.

Apply! We are serious about all fields and walks of life. In the past we have even had some politicians attend!

Future journalists would be better served with a weekend of Basic Statistics 101. Though Public Choice sounds like the parties might be better

As a young man I once attended this conference and heard a talk by the late great James Buchanan.

It's a great chance for graduate students and advanced undergraduates to learn about public choice tools, theory and analysis.
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I can not make those dates. WIll there be a conference compendium or decks available after the conference?

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