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.