≡ Menu

Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 372 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague Jim Buchanan’s 1989 paper “The Ethics of Constitutional Order” as this paper is reprinted in volume 1 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan: The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty (1999):

Much of what we have observed in modern politics is best described as action taken without understanding or even consideration of the rules that define the constitutional order.  I have referred to this politics as “constitutional anarchy,” by which I mean a politics that is almost exclusively dominated by and derivative from the strategic choices made by competing interests in disregard of the effects on political structure.

DBx: Economists are fond of calling upon the state to protect its citizens from the negative ‘externalities’ imposed by some people upon others.  And yet one gargantuan externality of using the state is the breakdown of rules that prevent us from using the state to prey upon each other.  When members of today’s political majority vote to seize for themselves resources from members of today’s political minority, members of the political majority not only prey upon members of the political minority, they – if their predation can be constitutionally justified only with legerdemain – prey also upon the entire polity (including their future selves).  They do so by undermining constitutional rules meant to minimize predation by the state.