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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 237-238 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague Jim Buchanan‘s July 1967 Ethics article, “Politics and Science,” as this article is reprinted in volume 1 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan: The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty (1999) (original emphasis):

Politics can be considered as the choice of rules by which men live together.  We are deep in the cardinal sin of using the same word “politics” to mean two quite different things, and, indeed, this has been one of the major sources of modern confusion.  I shall, from this point, refer to this higher-stage, rule-making politics as “constitutional.”  This will appropriately distinguish it from the mundane stage of politics in the ordinary meaning.  It is one of the major tragedies of twentieth-century liberalism that the importance of distinguishing these two stages has now been almost wholly forgotten.

DBx: Whether you accept or reject Buchanan’s own particular brand of constitutional economics, it remains vital to appreciate the importance of the truth – stressed always by Buchanan – that choosing and acting within a given set of rules is quite different from choosing which set of rules to live under.


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