Posted on December 4, 2010 by Brad Taylor
I realise this blog has become nothing more than a venue for shameless self-promotion, but I’m okay with that. I’ll be attending the Australasian Public Choice Conference next week. I’ll be presenting a paper on constitutions; Patri will be presenting our co-authored paper on seasteading as a plenary via video, and Eric will be presenting our co-authored paper on meddlesome preferences in anarchy.
I’m particularly chuffed with the seasteading paper, which considers jurisdictional competition from an evolutionary economics perspective and concludes institutional innovation requires low barriers to entry. And we have a plan!
The other papers at the conference look pretty cool also. I’m particularly looking forward to Xavier Marquez’s presentation on Epistemic Arguments for Conservatism, which he has been blogging about here, here, here, here, and here.
Filed under: anarchy, competitive governmenrt, public choice | Tagged: public choice, seasteading, shameless self-promotion | 4 Comments »
Posted on November 10, 2010 by Brad Taylor
[Cross-posted at LaTNB]
The Seasteading Institute has just published my paper on governance mechanisms for seasteads. As I point out in the paper, trying to predict what will work ahead of time is not what letting a thousand nations bloom is all about. We do, however, need to start from somewhere and the experience of customary law, private communities, and corporate governance have a lot to teach us. From the conclusion:
Perhaps the single most important point we should take from these case studies, though, is that humans will find ways of solving their problems when low-cost experimentation is possible. In some sense, governance is a hard problem: we simply cannot foresee all the problems ahead of time and devise a good system of rules. In another sense, though, the problem is easy. We know from history that institutional evolution works on land, and there do not seem to be any barriers to it working on the ocean. Of course, this institutional evolution will require careful thinking: it is through conscious effort that good ideas are developed. The magic of ex-post selection only happens ex-post, and a healthy dose of ex-ante common sense and historical knowledge will go a long way in ensuring that early seasteads do not fail due to poor governance.
The paper was a lot of fun to write. It was great getting extensive feedback along the way from some very smart and distinguished people and putting some of the ideas we discuss here at LaTNB in a form which will hopefully prove useful to future marine real estate developers.
Filed under: competitive governmenrt, economics, political science, public choice | Tagged: governance, public choice, seasteading, shameless self-promotion | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 5, 2010 by Brad Taylor
When the public is called to investigate and decide upon a question in which not only the present members of the community are deeply interested, but upon which the happiness and misery of generations yet unborn is in great measure suspended, the benevolent mind cannot help feeling itself peculiarly interested in the result.
That’s the opening sentence Brutus #1, from 1787. Politics isn’t policy, however, even at the constitutional level. For related reading, see here.
Filed under: competitive governmenrt, public choice, quotes | Tagged: constitutional political economy, political science, public choice, the anti-federalist papers | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 30, 2010 by Brad Taylor
In a republic, the manners, sentiments, and interests of the people should be similar. If this be not the case, there will be a constant clashing of opinions; and the representatives of one part will be continually striving against those of the other. This will retard the operations of government, and prevent such conclusions as will promote the public good. If we apply this remark to the condition of the United States, we shall be convinced that it forbids that we should be one government. The United States includes a variety of climates. The productions of the different parts of the union are very variant, and their interests, of consequence, diverse. Their manners and habits differ as much as their climates and productions; and their sentiments are by no means coincident. The laws and customs of the several states are, in many respects, very diverse, and in some opposite; each would be in favor of its own interests and customs, and, of consequence, a legislature, formed of representatives from the respective parts, would not only be too numerous to act with any care or decision, but would be composed of such heterogenous and discordant principles, as would constantly be contending with each other.
That’s from Brutus #1. He has half (and by far the most important half) of Alesina and Spolaore’s model of the optimal size of government. Speaking of which, you should go check out today’s secession week topic at LaTNB!
When I first read the Federalist Papers, I remember being struck by the subtlety of Madison’s public choice theorising. Now that I’m reading the Anti-Federalist Papers, I’m far more impressed with them and inclined to see Madison as naive in comparison. Sadly, I suspect he remains more realistic about politics than any politician who has come since.
Filed under: competitive governmenrt, economics, political philosophy, political science, politics, public choice, quotes | Tagged: constitutional political economy, public choice, secession week, size of nations, the anti-federalist papers | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 8, 2010 by Brad Taylor
I’ve been remiss in not plugging this excellent collection of writing on the positive analysis of anarchism created by Michael Wiebe. There’s a list of published papers and books, and some working papers (including one by Eric and I).
Here’s how Michael introduces the site:
The purpose of Analytical Anarchism is to create an open forum for the academic community to promote and discuss research in analytical anarchism.
What is analytical anarchism? As the subtitle says, it is the positive political economy of anarchism, or simply, anarchism from the economic point of view. Anarchism here simply means the absence of government. Peter Boettke divides anarchist thought into three categories:
1. Utopian — following in the tradition of William Godwin’s An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793).
2. Revolutionary — following in the tradition of Mikhail Bakunin and the First International, 1864-76.
3. Analytical — in the tradition of Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty (1973) and David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom (1973).
The analytical anarchism research program has developed out of this last tradition, and is currently being pursued by economists such as Pete Leeson, Ed Stringham, and Chris Coyne.
Why anarchy? Research in anarchism has a fundamental theoretical importance for understanding the mystery of cooperation among strangers, which forms the basis of modern social order. Understanding anarchy also has a critical practical importance for transition economies, Third World development, and post-war reconstruction. Economic analysis of these problems cannot assume a functioning state.
For an introduction to the subject, see Boettke’s “Anarchism as a Progressive Research Program in Political Economy.”
Scholars and students working in this field are invited to submit working papers and posts discussing the literature, general issues, potential research topics, etc.
Filed under: anarchy, economics, political science, public choice | Tagged: analytical anarchism, anarchy, austrian economics, economics, public choice | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 23, 2010 by Brad Taylor
Luke Malpass of the Centre for Independent Studies gives an interesting talk (based on a forthcoming paper) on proportional representation and the possibility of bicameralism in New Zealand. In my view, bicameralism is the best constitutional reform for New Zealand which has much hope of succeeding. I’m not sure why it isn’t more of a political issue.
The ‘cult’ political following that Proportional Representation electoral systems achieve in Westminster countries means that it is a matter of when not if pressure for comprehensive PR is going to arrive in Australia. New Zealand has it, Scotland has it, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is holding a referendum on it in England, the very home of the Westminster system of government.
Curiously perhaps, New Zealand is holding a binding referendum on the future of its Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system which was modelled on the German electoral system, and early polling indicates its future is far from assured, due to concerns about its efficacy, and widespread lack of public understanding.
CIS NZ Policy Analyst Luke Malpass discusses his research in this area, looking at MMP, how it has operated and what alternatives exist. With an introduction by CIS Research Fellow Dr Oliver Hartwich.
Filed under: New Zealand, political science, politics, public choice | Tagged: constitutional political economy, electoral systems, New Zealand, nz politics, political science, public choice | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 6, 2010 by Brad Taylor
I’m slow in posting this video of Elise Parham presenting her monograph Behind the Moral Curtain: The Politics of a Charter of Rights. The paper and video are both well worth checking out. Astute viewers may even be able to spot the back of my head in the video.
Elise’s argument is that bills of rights are fundamentally political, rather than legal, documents. This is true in the sense that rights will be interpreted and enforced based on political expediency and prevailing ideologies, as Robert Higgs and others have argued. Elise’s argument is that the writing of a bill of rights is also political. Once a government decides to draft a charter, many competing interests will compete to have their preferences reflected and the end result is unlikely to be a liberal document. Rather, we’ll end up with a whole lot of illiberal, and constitutionally protected, positive rights.
Filed under: economics, libertarian, politics, public choice | Tagged: Australian politics, bills of rights, constitutional political economy, economics, politics, public choice, video | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 16, 2009 by Brad Taylor
That’s the title of a forthcoming book by Mark Schrad, which looks very interesting. I’ve read a paper on this topic by the author, which has been very useful to the chapter I’m currently writing of my thesis (basically analyzing the consequences of what Schrad calls “bad policy ideas” on constitutional effectiveness). I really wish the book were out now. Here’s the blurb:
In The Political Power of Bad Ideas , Mark Lawrence Schrad looks on an oddity of modern history–the broad diffusion of temperance legislation in the early twentieth century–to make a broad argument about how bad policy ideas achieve international success. His root question is this: how could a bad policy idea–one that was widely recognized by experts as bad before adoption, and which ultimately failed everywhere–come to be adopted throughout the world? To answer it, Schrad uses an institutionalist approach, and focuses in particular on the US, Russia/USSR (ironically, one of the only laws the Soviets kept on the books was the Tsarist temperance law), and Sweden. Conventional wisdom, based largely on the U.S. experience, blames evangelical zealots for the success of the temperance movement. Yet as Schrad shows, “prohibition was adopted in ten countries other than the United States, as well as countless colonial possessions-all with similar disastrous consequences, and in every case followed by repeal.” Schrad focuses on the dynamic interaction of ideas and political institutions, tracing the process through which concepts of dubious merit gain momentum and achieve credibility as they wend their way through institutional structures. And while he focuses on one episode, his historical argument applies far more broadly, and even can tell us a great deal about how today’s policy failures, such as reasons proffered for invading Iraq, became acceptable.
Filed under: political science, politics, public choice | Tagged: alcohol, democracy, ideology, moral panic, political science, politics, prohibition, public choice | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 10, 2009 by Brad Taylor
BK Drinkwater has a couple of excellent posts on established businesses using the force of government to muscle out competitors ( I also like them because they both have my name in them, to paraphrase the man himself). Here’s another interesting example from the story of unlicensed contractor stings I blogged about at Fr33Agents the other day.
It turns out that the guy posing as a customer in order to arrest the unlicensed electrician is himself a state-licensed electrician. That is, a member of the state-protected cartel is helping the police with their job. This subsidy of law-enforcement is similar to Hall and Deardorff’s theory of lobbying as legislative subsidy. When special interests find it difficult to have extra sway over policy through outright bribery, they can provide services to already sympathetic legislators in order to make them more effective. Legislators supported by lobbyists providing research and pre-written speeches will be more able to pursue the legislative goals. Cops supported by unusually public-spirited electricians will be more effective in enforcing cartels.
Filed under: economics, libertarian, public choice | Tagged: bootleggers and baptists, cartels, corporatism, economics, libertartian, public choice | Leave a comment »