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Economist's Public-Choice Analysis Was Half the Story

November 23, 1986

Robert Lekachman's Keynesian analysis of public-choice economics (Board of Economists, Nov. 11) is an attempt to discredit the Nobel Prize winner, James Buchanan.

Lekachman's subjective interpretation of the public-choice approach as "an extension to politics of the Chicago School's imperial application of economic calculation to marriage, divorce, crime and law" is one-sided and biased.

Lekachman dismisses self-maximizing behavior by politicians as unrealistic, and yet this type of behavior is observed continually.

Why do politicians from the South advocate textile tariffs which help only voters in the their constituency while taxing the rest of society?

Are they acting in the national interest or are they maximizing votes in their district (translate: keeping their jobs)?

Why can politicians from the Farm Belt be counted upon to vote against grain embargoes? Are they unpatriotic or are they ensuring job security?

Buchanan has given us a fresh approach to the analysis of the behavior of politicians and the collective-choice process.

It is unfortunate that The Times chose only to publish the opinion of an opponent of public-choice economics.




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