Having finally turned the corner on a brutal, 11-day (and counting) cold, I feel up to getting back to my blogging routine. First up: a followup to last month's post, "Why So Little Decentralization?" To review, that post posed a puzzle (a problem for political scientists to ponder, you might say). The puzzle is this: … Continue reading Why So Little Decentralization? Part Two: Secession Prevention
In his 1982 book, The Rise and Decline of Nations, economist Mancur Olson argued that over time, stable societies accumulate "distributive coalitions," narrow special-interest organizations that complexify social life and burden the economy with overregulation and opaque forms of wealth redistribution. The notion that distributive coalitions are more often bad than good for economic performance, … Continue reading Freedom and Prosperity: Some Comparative Historical Reflections on State Policies and Performance
I had an interesting conversation recently about what were the three or four best all-time readings on political economy. If you could read, or have others read, only a handful of relatively short things, what would they be? That question is surprisingly challenging. Here are the suggestions of my interlocutors: 1. F. A. Hayek's 1945 … Continue reading All You Need on Political Economy?
The coalition government in Great Britain is offering an object lesson in how to build political support for deep, wide-ranging cuts in government spending. Spending cuts need not be politically toxic. If you frame the debate as one of responsibility versus madness, voters will choose the former.
In this second part of a series of posts on American exceptionalism, I consider the common claim by the American right that the American state is particularly small relative to those of other advanced democracies, and that this fact helps to constitute a desirable "American exceptionalism," featuring higher economic growth and more respect for individual … Continue reading American Exceptionalism Reconsidered, Pt. 2: The Size of the State