Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on January 22, 2013

in Economics, Myths and Fallacies, Politics

… is from page 37 of Paul Heyne’s lovely 2000 booklet, A Student’s Guide to Economics:

The fundamental insight of public choice economics is the fundamental assumption of all economic theory: Social phenomena, including political phenomena, emerge from the actions and interactions of individuals who are choosing in response to expected benefits and costs to themselves.  It is a a serious if common mistake to suppose that government, simply by virtue of its duty, cares for the public interest.

Indeed.

And as Kenneth Arrow, Jim BuchananMancur Olson, Charlie Plott, Joseph Schumpeter, Gordon Tullock, and many other scholars have shown, it is an equally serious mistake (perhaps one even more common than the error identified above by Paul Heyne) to suppose that the results of majoritarian voting reveal and enforce anything that can be called – without an astonishingly large number of qualifications and restrictions that are nearly always disregarded in run-of-the-mill celebrations of democracy – “the will of the people.”

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