Expositions of the theory of public finance mostly assume that taxation is necessary to finance public goods because free riding prevents their provision through market arrangements. Free riding, however, is an artifact of the assumption that state is the only social option to market. Once it is recognized that civil society contains a rich array of institutions and practices that channel personal interaction, free riding recedes in significance and perhaps even disappears. Free riding is a product of a particular model of public goods and is not a universal quality of societal living together. In this respect, there is a deep similarity between cities and such entities as hotels and malls which supply public goods without taxation. This paper places the social organization of shared consumption on center stage in the theory of public finance, thereby relegating taxation to side show status.
This essay commemorates James M. Buchanan's life and work by reflecting on my 50 years of association with him, starting in 1963 when I entered graduate school at the University of Virginia and ending with his death in 2013. This essay does not try to add to the substantial secondary literature that has arisen about Buchanan and his scholarly contributions. Objective contributions in that vein will doubtlessly continue; indeed, I have written some myself. Instead, this essay portrays Jim Buchanan through offering a personal reflection on some of my experiences with him over our half-century's association. Jim Buchanan was a pivotal figure in my life, as in many ways I have tried to carry forward what I acquired from through observation and interaction. I even thought I was carrying forward that acquisition when divergences arose between us, as they did increasingly as the years passed.
It is common to think of federalism as a governmental arrangement that entails competition among governments. Thinking this way, however, is problematic. A competitive system is generally associated with the notion of polycentricity, as illustrated by a market system of free and open competition. The structure of such a system emerges through a competitive process and changes continually as that process operates. By contrast, a federalist system of governments is typically designed as against being emergent, and with that design involving some assignment of powers, duties, and competencies among the member governments. A genuinely competitive federalism must thus be designed in such a fashion as to mirror the workings of a spontaneously generated order. While it is comparatively easy to think of competition among a horizontal array of governments, it is more difficult to do that when those governments are nested within a vertical array of governments. Furthermore, the problem of the anti-commons comes into play in dealing with federal systems because the inalienability of property rights within governmental entities works to stifle the continual adaptation in governmental structure that a genuine system of competitive federalism requires.
The Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice began publication in 1983 under the title Economia delle scelte pubbliche/Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, changing to Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice/Economia delle scelte pubbliche in 1997. Under either name, the Journal reflected the founding editor’s (Domenico da Empoli) desire to amplify and extend the Italian orientation toward public finance that Antonio de Viti de Marco (1888) set in motion. It’s fitting that James Buchanan’s (1983) ‘The public choice perspective’ opened the Journal, for Buchanan (1960) was instrumental in promoting awareness among Anglo-Saxon scholars of the Italian tradition that da Empoli sought to carry forward in establishing the JPFPC. With da Empoli’s death in December 2016, the Journal is now proceeding with a new editorial team (Emma Galli and Giampaolo Garzarelli) and a new publisher (Bristol University Press). The Journal’s orientation, however, remains unchanged, in that it continues to welcome contributions within public finance and public choice within the broad tradition outlined here. In this essay, I mark this change in editorial regime by reviewing how Buchanan’s orientation toward public finance continues and extends the tradition that de Viti (1888) began.
This paper explores the social organization of disaster recovery, using Hurricane Katrina to supply context for the theoretical effort. That effort distinguishes two contrasting models of political economy. The conventional model treats the state as a unitary actor that stands outside the economy and uses policy instruments to shift society to a different equilibrium. The alternative model treats the state as comprised of numerous loosely connected actors that operate inside the economy, with policy measures emerging out of interaction among differing desires and beliefs held by the various participants. This alternative model presents a different understanding of state policy, both in ordinary times and in the extraordinary times represented by natural disaster.
Il lavoro estende 1’originate intuizione di Maffeo Pantaleoni che vede due distinti meccanismi del prezzo nelle contemporanee economie miste. Da una parte, vi è il meccanismo del prezzo del mercato, caratterizzato da diritti di proprietà esclusivi. Dall’altra, vi è il meccanismo di prezzo del sistema politico, distinto, fra le altre cose, da comitati amministrativi e proprietà comune. Si enfatizza come il sistema di prezzo politico può esistere solo in presenza del mercato ma non viceversa.
Tramite una semplice illustrazione si suggerisce che i «mercati politici» sono parassitari nei confronti di quelli privati. A volte questo parassitismo può essere benefico, come nel caso dei beni pubblici; mentre altre volte è nocivo, come nel caso dei sussidi pubblici che promuovono imprese inefficienti.
This paper identifies two broad strands of fiscal theorizing that date back to the late 19th century in the persons of Knut Wicksell (1896) and Francis Edgeworth (1897). From Edgeworth descends the treatment of public finance as a branch of applied statecraft, as conveyed these days largely through notions of optimal taxation. From Wicksell descends the treatment of public finance as offering explanations for observed patterns of collective activity. These two branches are not so much antagonistic as they are non-commensurable. The explanatory branch, moreover, is underdeveloped in comparison with the hortatory branch, and this paper seeks to sketch some contours for an explanatory theory of collective activity, paying particular attention to the American fiscal context.
Federalism is commonly thought to be a pro-liberty system of government, in contrast to a unitary system. Within a unitary system, people face but a single government that taxes and regulates. Within federal systems, however, people face two or more governments that tax and regulate. In light of this multiplicity of independent governments, it is reasonable to wonder why federalism is widely thought to be favorable to liberty. Whether federalism is or is not favorable to liberty depends on some institutional features of a federalist system. In particular, we distinguish between two systems of federalist governance: competitive federalism and cartel federalism. Where competitive federalism entails competition among all units of government, cartel federalism entails collusion among governments. Competitive federalism has a polycentric structure where no single government dominates the other governments. In contrast, cartel federalism has a monocentric structure that is dominated by the cartelizing unit of government.