Arnold Kling  

Basic Political Economy

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Robin's "Rant"... Attack Me at the Public Choice...

Russ Roberts gives a lesson.


Bruce Yandle uses bootleggers and Baptists to explain what happens when a good cause collides with special interests.

When the city council bans liquor sales on Sundays, the Baptists rejoice—it's wrong to drink on the Lord's day. The bootleggers, rejoice, too. It increases the demand for their services.

The Baptists give the politicians cover for doing what the bootleggers want. No politicians says we should ban liquor sales on Sunday in order to enrich the bootleggers who support his campaign. The politician holds up one hand to heaven and talk about his devotion to morality. With the other hand, he collects campaign contributions (or bribes) from the bootleggers.


Read the whole thing.

I'm not sure what to say about Bryan's question about Singapore vs. the U.S.. But one thought I have is that Singapore probably would have less freedom without the security umbrella provided by America.


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (5 to date)
TGGP writes:

America can't provide security to Iraq or Afghanistan, I think its worldwide effects are overrated. China would seem to be the more relevant player near Singapore.

TGGP writes:

Russ cites in his piece Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's "Logic of Political Survival", which you attacked in your post Data Molesters.

Lance writes:

Are the services of bootleggers that much desired to get around Blue Laws? Persons could easily shift their consumption to Saturday or Friday to avoid breaking the law, yet still have alcohol on hand. Blue Laws, I would suppose, do not impose as heavy a cost as prohibition did to induce people to break the law and give rise to an underground industry.

I understand the logic Mr. Roberts uses (sort of a branch off of the political science term the 'Iron Triangle'), with the 'bootleggers' the special interests who benefit from the legislation. Nevertheless, I'm not sure if Blue Laws are potent enough for bootleggers to have an incentive to break the law.

Pam Newt writes:

If you'd lived in North Carolina in the 50's and 60's you'd know how much the Blue Laws enhanced the sale of bootleg hooch. Just the fact that liquor couldn't be bought, the forbidden fruit so to speak, made it more desirable on Sunday.

Independent George writes:

Generally, I agree with the direction of the essay; unfortunately, he got the NCLB/Reading First scandal exactly backwards. Reading First and SBRR was consitently rejecting the constructivist pedagogies because, basically, they didn't work; the publishers and ed schools then forced the hearings to ensure that their own preferred text continued to be used, despite the mounting evidence of their ineffectiveness.

Not that I blame him; it's a fairly obscure topic, the reporting on the subject was notably shoddy and misinformed, so unless you're already knowledgeable about the ins & outs of education policy, you're likely to accept the headlines at face value. Ken de Rosa's summary is a great place to start.

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