Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 12, 2017

in Virginia Political Economy

… is from pages 33-34 of my late colleague Jim Buchanan‘s 1971 paper “The Bases for Collective Action,” as this paper is reprinted in James M. Buchanan, Externalities and Public Expenditure Theory (2001), which is volume 15 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan:

[I]ndividuals within the bureaucratic structure often possess wide discretionary powers to lay down rules of procedure, allocate the funds among the competing demands, or develop standards for performance.  In each case, the bureaucrat who makes the decision will be motivated to some extent by his own private cost and private benefits rather than those of Congress or those which might be genuinely defined as public interest.  Bureaucrats are themselves no different from anyone else, and they will act so as to preserve and to advance their own career prospects.  Hence, unless these prospects are tied directly to the public interest, the inherent inefficiency in bureaucratic process will tend to dissipate, at least to some degree, almost any collective effort to achieve social betterment.

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