Yandle on Bootleggers and Baptists

by Russ Roberts on January 16, 2007

in Podcast, Regulation

In the latest podcast at EconTalk, Bruce Yandle lays out his theory of Bootleggers and Baptists—how regulations result from the coalition of the selfish and altruistic and how the selfish use the altruists to provide political cover for politicians. Applications we discuss include environmental laws and the tobacco settlement.

Once you hear the theory and understand it, I think it will change the way you look at the political process and read the newspaper. It certainly has changed the way I look at things. In many ways, Bruce’s theory is a way to understand the law of intended consequences, rather than unintended ones.

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{ 3 comments }

John S. January 16, 2007 at 12:17 pm

I'm only halfway through the podcast, but I was hoping to hear some discussion of this example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_Port_Act

When Congress passed this law, I had the feeling it was due to an unholy alliance of Baptists and casino owners.

Russ Roberts January 16, 2007 at 12:41 pm

John S.,

We don't talk about it in the podcast. Sorry. But what's amazing is that whenever I've heard Bruce speak about his theory, he takes out that day's newspaper and finds an example to talk about. It is everywhere.

thedude January 18, 2007 at 10:55 pm

As someone who worked for the federal government for several I've seen more examples of bootleggers and baptists than I care to mention. The law of unintended consiquences is never more obvious than when dealing with regulations.

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