Starting in , the French-speaking colonists of Atlantic Canada known as the Acadians were deported by the British.
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The expulsion was desired by the American colonists in New England but was ultimately opposed by the British government. In fact, the expulsion was enacted against the wishes of the Imperial government. Set against the backdrop of rising public debt in Britain, the costly expulsion of the Acadians combined with the subsequent conquest of the French-speaking colony of Quebec contributed to a change in policy course favoring centralization.
Using public choice theory, I construct a narrative to argue that the Acadian expulsion contributed to the initiation of the American Revolution. This chapter challenges the long-standing conclusion that North-South alignments helped bring the Constitutional Convention to a successful conclusion. The widely divergent economic interests between the regions regarding commercial and merchant activities, imports and exports, and slavery and the slave trade created such widely divergent sectional differences that the North-South agreements and compromises that were necessary to complete the Constitution created a governing institution that sowed the seeds of its own downfall.
This chapter draws on economic reasoning, political theory, and the historical record of the Constitutional Convention to challenge the long-standing conclusion that the North-South alignments helped bring the convention to a successful conclusion. The methodological approach involves juxtaposing economic principles and the issue positions of the framers and their states on the major North—South agreements and compromises among the delegates. Drawing upon insights from public choice political economy and an examination of historical records, this paper posits an explanation for the causes of secession by the original seven members of the Confederacy in — Secession is examined as a Hirschman exit, intended primarily to shore up and secure the waning federal subsidies and enforcement expenditures that had been afforded to plantation slavery in previous decades.
The premises of secession are most evident in southern declarations complaining of the non-enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, the instigation of slave insurrections, and the decline of southern political clout. These emphases suggest the perceived threat to slavery was more readily realized in its legal enforcement than in the oft-emphasized territorial question. The ratchet effect in public finance refers to the historical phenomena that the size of government increases during a crisis but does not return to its previous level when the crisis ends.
The traditional explanation is that voters change their views on the appropriate size of government during the crisis. But change in taste is an explanation of last resort: it should not be accepted without examining alternatives. This paper looks Civil War taxes as an illuminating case of the ratchet effect. Both the observed political process and the resulting mix of taxes suggest that interest groups, not voters, led to the ratchet effect in this case. During the Civil War both tariffs and income taxes increased, but only the higher tariff stayed.
It clearly seems contrary to intuition and common sense to claim that farmers would no longer have [political] activities undertaken to increase their real incomes. For a reconciliation we must turn to the political entrepreneur and observe the impact of the outlawing of lobbying upon his profit opportunities.
If a political profit existed before the institutional change [i. Clearly, for a reduction in the political profit from farm votes, either voting or organizational rules must be changed. Since the outlawing of pressure groups is unrelated to either of these two features, the profit must still exist after pressure groups are outlawed. Wagner further stated that various institutional arrangements often emerge to promote individual interests when free-rider problems prevent the formation of effective interest groups.
Public Choice Analyses of American Economic History
For instance, one role of government bureaucracies is to serve the wishes of political entrepreneurs with whom they share a common objective: an expansion of the agency's activity and budget. Bureaucracies have strong incentives to promote and stimulate a perceived need for their activities-every bureaucracy is a vigorous lobbyist.
Peter Woll noted the importance of bureaucratic lobbying in his book, American Bureaucracy :. It has been estimated that the executive branch spends close to half a billion dollars [in ] a year on public relations and public information programs As recent examples of bureaucratic lobbying expenditures, the U. The entire department, including subagencies, employs people involved in public affairs Palmer, Similar programs are sure to be found in other agencies as well.
The effect of political advertising is likely to be public acquiescence in the continued growth of the government wealth-transfer process. Governments usually grant themselves statutory monopolies in the goods and services they provide. Politicians cannot be held liable for their promises. But when the government's comparable product turns out to be 60 percent baloney, no regulatory agency will take action.
Wagner, , p. Moreover, the principal function of political advertising "would seem to be to promote acquiescence about the prevailing public policies. The purpose of public advertising would be to reassure citizens that the fact that their public goods are composed of 60 percent baloney indicates good performance" Wagner, , p. In this way, political entrepreneurship in the form of public advertising facilitates the process of rent seeking. Another example of political entrepreneurship is tax-funded politics Bennett and DiLorenzo, And, as Gordon Tullock pointed out, "interest groups normally have an interest in diminishing the information of the average voter.
If they can sell him some false tale which supports their particular effort In sum, focussing on the role of political entrepreneurship is likely to improve one's understanding of the government process. Voters are rationally ignorant, and much of the information about politics they do receive is propaganda issued by self-serving politicians, interest groups, and bureaucracies.
It does not pay to be as well informed about politics as about one's own personal affairs, which permits political entrepreneurs to manufacture a false "will of the people. What we are confronted with in the analysis of political processes is largely not a genuine but a manufactured will. Even though private and political entrepreneurship both serve to transmit information, they produce fundamentally different results.
Mancur Olson provides evidence that such rent seeking is, in fact, a negative-sum game and a major cause of economic stagnation. Austrian economics and public choice are two of the most exciting areas of economic research. With its emphasis on competition as a dynamic, rivalrous process and the role of entrepreneurship, Austrian economics clarifies how markets work.
This article is, if anything, a plea to consider the two research programs as complementary.
Economic reasoning can and will be applied to advance our understanding of the political process, but one need not adopt the entire neoclassical economic framework to do so. One implication of this is that the type of public-choice research conducted might take on a different focus. Specifically, it would be a wise investment of intellectual resources to conduct more historical studies of the evolution of political institutions from a public-choice perspective.
Public choice is often a study of comparative institutions, but economic history is one research approach which has, unfortunately, been relatively neglected by public-choice theorists. There is much to learn from economic and political history from a public-choice perspective that just cannot be captured by regression equations of the "determinants" of government spending, taxing, and borrowing.
I have claimed elsewhere DiLorenzo, that the economics of rent seeking has become confused. One reason for this is the failure to properly distinguish between rent seeking and profit seeking by not viewing real-world competition as a dynamic, rivalrous process. Consequently, some authors have condemned as "wasteful rent seeking" many activities e. Bennett, James T.
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Blewitt, Robert A. Buchanan, James M. DiLorenzo, Thomas J. Hayek, Friedrich Kirzner, Israel Moorhouse and Robert Whaples 2. Dougherty 3.
Wallis 4. Anderson and Peter J. Hill 5. Couch and William F. Shughart II 7. Alexander and Gary D.
Property, Power, and Public Choice
Heckelman and John H. Wood 9. Strumpf and Felix Oberholzer-Gee. Includes bibliographical references and index. View online Borrow Buy Freely available Show 0 more links