*Towards an Economics of Natural Equals*

The authors are David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart, and the subtitle is A Documentary History of the Early Virginia School.  This is the true history, told by people who know, and with extensive citations from correspondence and primary documentation.

Excerpt:

Beginning quite early and throughout his long career, Buchanan studied, endorsed, and extended the Smithian economics of natural equals.

You will find the correspondence of Buchanan and Rawls, the dealings of Buchanan with a skeptical Ford Foundation, the real story behind the Buchanan and G. Warren Nutter “Universal Education” voucher plan, what actually happened in Buchanan’s Chile visit, Chicago vs. Virginia disputes, the anti-democratic views of Murray Rothbard, and the contested history of neoliberalism.  And much correspondence from Ronald Coase.

Self-recommending!

David Levy worked with Buchanan and Tullock from the late 1970s through their deaths, and he and Peart are extremely careful in their sourcing and quotation practices — get the picture?

Due out Februrary, leap year day, you can pre-order here.

Comments

People are naturally drawn to the conspiracy view of history, in Buchanan's case, the conspiracy of radical libertarians and the rise of the modern conservative movement and the demonization of the public sector. Let the right marinate in the myriad of conspiracies to which they are drawn. Sure, I read Ms. MacLean's book, and it has a ring of truth to it, but don't believe it; or more precisely, don't believe that Buchanan led a conspiracy among radical libertarians funded by a few billionaires that resulted in a brainwashed (and ignorant) electorate, dysfunctional politics, and a government that serves its wealthy masters rather than we the people. Well, it's true that we have a brainwashed (and ignorant) electorate (or enough of it to elect an ignoramus president), dysfunctional politics, and a government that serves its wealthy masters but don't believe Buchanan and his co-conspirators did it. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/7/14/15967788/democracy-shackles-james-buchanan-intellectual-history-maclean I mean, really, when Cowen and his buddies (the amigos) gather to discuss the future of mankind, do they have the power to actually determine that future?

That Vox article is a good one to re-read.

To cut to the chase a little bit though, if someone comes right out and says "I am pro-democracy," in 2020, which side will you perceive them to be on? Why?

Having just read about the young woman "digital media political strategist" who has raised millions from wealthy liberal donors to create unabashedly ersatz online "local" newspapers in swing states, not to become real regional news organs but rather to appear so (presumably minus the reporters that are commonly associated with actual newspapers) in order to counter what she rather unoriginally terms the "rightwing echo chamber" [can we buy ourselves a few extra minutes, vis-a-vis the heat death of the universe, by agreeing to shorten that to RWEC?], and to pay Facebook to direct this content to targeted members in the hope it will spread ... or echo, one might say; and realizing that those on the left feel this is not-particularly-sadly necessary because of GOP ads on Facebook, and Fox News, and, less often stated plainly, the tendency of a disappointing public to, on their own steam, sometimes get certain *wrong* impressions of matters that they then share with one another ...

I am fine with calling the sides even, since I can never fit comfortably into either camp and have no very strong aesthetic attachment to democracy myself: in that spirit, even if I suspect that it's currently more of a threat to one side than the other, let's say that it increasingly seems like the political talk is of how best to "trick" unreliable voters.

Presumably one side will figure out the path is clear for them to deify voters, another unsavory option.

I am finished with y'all's "Pakistan: A Hard Country," so am open to recommendations, particularly if anyone's got a favorite book explaining how democracy is supposed to work - or to look - and to last. I'd be most obliged.

And yes, I'm familiar with "our system is the worst except for all the others" - I'm ready to hear a more positive spin than that.

Peri, the U.S. began with a piece of paper called the constitution. A piece of paper did not make the U.S. the leader of the free world. Arguably, a bunch of 26-year-olds did in June 1944.

Every citizen must choose whether or not the constitution is just a piece of paper. It’s a choice. Take the pledge to the flag and to the republic for which it stands. If we wish to continue living in a republic, we as citizens must insist upon a republic. If the republic is not worth two cents to public choice, well, at least we know.

Hmmm. Not sure what you're getting at, but I see a couple of possible scenarios. In one, the rest of you decide the state exists merely to manage and distribute economic benefits, using the very best supply-chain technology, and the piece of paper doesn't much matter - "on a meta, versus an object, level," as someone said yesterday. Your overseers will decide where it fits, or can be made to fit, into the big picture which it "pays" them alone to see. But maybe I still think it's more than a piece of paper. That leaves me feeling like a chump, kind of like when I was a kid, and one by one, my companions aged out of playing outside in the street, and I was left standing there awkwardly wondering why nobody wanted to join me in "Capture the Flag" or kickball or Ghost in the Graveyard anymore.

Or maybe the converse: all of y'all still fervently believe in the document, and to me it's become a puzzling artifact, one with some really impressive ideas, and tremendous language, but that doesn't seem an adequate bulwark against ideological fads anymore, and when invoked, is most often done so cynically or disingenuously ...

In this latter scenario, I'm easily shamed into retreating - I'm not quite a sociopath after all, I'm ultimately mostly a consumer too, and I adore history and its heroes; and anyway, my right to so "decide" kind of ends where your H-bomb begins, I'd say. This sort of meekness might be indistinguishable from patriotism - maybe it is patriotism - but does not really feel like the vigorous citizen spirit we associate with the Founders.

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I would imagine Sinclair Broadcast Group would have its analog in the parent companies of NBC outlets, say, or in CNN - but you may be right. But whereas a local Fox TV station is emblazoned with the word "Fox," and at least in my town has reporters on staff like any of the other TV stations - is that not so elsewhere? I do not know - and Fox in any case is a well-known bete noir and huge corporation, the newspapers will try to capture a "homespun" quality. Hopefully you won't notice that they're not on the spot reporting when a pileup shuts down the interstate or whatever.

Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) is the second-largest television station operator in the United States by number of stations (after Nexstar Media Group), owning or operating a total of 193 stations across the country in over 100 markets (covering 40% of American households), many of which are located in the South and Midwest. Often these are not in the largest US cities (think: Birmingham, Boise, Bakersfield).

Fox Television Stations (FTS), the owned by FOX Corporation, owns 17 Fox network,10 MyNetworkTV, and 1 independent stations. They are mostly located in large cities (New York, Los Angeles, SF, Chicago, etc.)

SBG has required "must run" conservative editorial content on its owned stations. I don't believe FTS has ever done this, and in fact you'd be hard pressed to tell that the same company that owns Fox News also owns a Fox station in a liberal area like Los Angeles or San Francisco - FTS leaves most editorial decisions to local stations.

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if someone comes right out and says "I am pro-democracy," in 2020, which side will you perceive them to be on? Why?

I would say neither of your dominant partisan groups care about democracy at all, except insofar as it is a mechanism to force the outgroup to submit to its will and thus lower its status.

Repubs:
racial gerrymandering
state level laws to block municipal laws
Census shenanigans

Dems:
Removing regulatory authority from Congress and shifting it to the bureaucracy (this is the most important anti-democratic issue in the US)
Open borders de facto, to shift voter demographics permanently
Overturning passed anti-gay marriage propositions by fiat
Using the courts to overturn democratically legitimate anti-abortion statutes

Unless pro-democracy just means abolishing the constitution. Then sure, that’s squarely on the Democrat Party side and is unidimensional.

As far as I know abolishing the Senate and packing the Supreme Court is only a plank of the Democrat Presidential nominees. Feel free to correct us....

Skeptical,

As usual you are spouting some garbage.

The only Dem, now dead, who pushed abolishing the Senate was the late John Dingell after he left office. Somebody named Jay Wallis, of whom I know nothing, has also pushed it.

However, we have quite a few GOPsters, including Rick Perry and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and former Sen. Jeff Flake of AZ and the powerful lobby group ALEC, who have supported getting rid of the 17th Amendment that allows for directly selecting senators rather than having them appointed by state legislatures.

Do you consciously lie, Skeptical, or are you just an ignoramus?

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well, this book is an 'inside-baseball' effort appealing to an extremely narrow audience.
for most people here it is not self-recommending.

does this exciting "true history, told by people who know" reach any important conclusions about the Virginia School ?? (very unlikely)

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The history of Silicon Valley is a history of government intervention, intervention to support and promote the technology, something Silicon Valley apologists prefer to ignore: that government can promote the common good is anathema to a certain ideology. I'm not part of the people who know, but my observation is that Buchanan's view about government (that it's subject to capture by special interests) is an intellectually honest view (even if, or because, he was supported by said special interests). What's superseded the Buchanan view is the cynical view: government that is purposely corrupt and incompetent. What's ironic is that the countries that have prospered the most from globalization practice a form of state capitalism (including Singapore as well as China). I suspect that Buchanan was more concerned with government success than failure, success that would trickle down to where it wasn't supposed to trickle. There's a reason why libertarians are drawn to state capitalism. No, not just the appeal of the authoritarian (though that's part of it), but the promise of progress. Progress, that's a common theme here. We aren't in Jefferson's Virginia anymore.

That’s kind of a broad brush in your first sentence about Silicon Valley. It almost sounds like you are arguing that Silicon Valley is a function of industrial policy. Do you care to elaborate more?

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After forty years, Public Choice claims “an Economics of Natural Equals”. That’s it???? Economic sizzle towards what…more sizzle? Life expectancy in a third of public choice states runs less than Moscow, capital of the former communist USSR.

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