The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

Alexis de Toqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

George Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington at Valley Forge

Friday, March 30, 2012

Public Choice – A Primer


by Eamonn Butler
Institute of Economic Affairs
March 26, 2012
‘Market failure’ is a term widely used by politicians, journalists and university and A-level economics students and teachers. However, those who use the term often lack any sense of proportion about the ability of government to correct market failures. This arises from the lack of general knowledge–and the lack of coverage in economics syllabuses–of Public Choice economics. Public Choice economics applies realistic insights about human behavior to the process of government, and is extremely helpful for all those who have an interest in–or work in–public policy to understand this discipline. If we assume that at least some of those involved in the political process–whether elected representatives, bureaucrats, regulators, public sector workers or electors–will act in their own self-interest rather than in the general public interest, it should give us much less confidence that the government can ‘correct’ market failure.

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