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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 189 of my late Nobel economics laureate colleague Jim Buchanan’s 1993 paper “The Individual as Participant in Political Exchange,” as this paper is reprinted in James M. Buchanan, Federalism, Liberty, and Law (2001), which is volume 18 of the Collected Works of James M. Buchanan:

Just as individual citizens have incentives to free ride in the absence of governmental coercion, government itself, through its agents, has incentives to depart from the terms of its own mandate by exploiting its coercive powers.

DBx: Jim here repeats the foundational public-choice warning that empowering government to prevent individuals from free-riding on each-other’s activities unavoidably creates another opportunity for free-riding – namely, the opportunity for government itself, both for its officials and for its cronies, to free-ride on the resources and efforts of those over whom it exercises power. Economists and others who point to “market failures” (however real or imaginary) as justification for granting more power to the state too often end their ‘scientific’ analysis there. In doing so, of course, those who endorse government intervention on such grounds are in fact unscientific given their failure to scientifically analyze how real-world governments actually operate when invested with such powers.