Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 29, 2018

in Economics, Virginia Political Economy

… is from page 79 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague James Buchanan’s insightful May 1975 American Economic Review paper, “A Contractarian Paradigm for Applying Economic Theory,” as this paper is reprinted in Choice, Contract, and Constitutions (2001), which is volume 16 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan (original emphases):

The object for economists’ research is “the economy,” which is, by definition, a social organization, an interaction among separate choosing entities. I return de- liberately to this element in our primer, because I think that it has been too often overlooked. By direct implication, the ultimate object of our study is not itself a choosing, maximizing entity. “The economy” does not maximize, and we may substitute “the polity” here without change in my emphasis. No one could quarrel with these simplistic statements. The inference must be, however, that there exists no one person, no single chooser, who maximizes for the economy, for the polity. To impose a maximizing construction on the models that are designed to be helpful in policy is to insure sterility in results.

DBx: Yes.

Society is not putty to be molded, engineered, or otherwise formed according to the designs of a power that fancies itself to exist outside or above society.

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