… is from page 351 of my late Nobel-laureate colleague James Buchanan’s 1979 paper “The Economic Constitution and the New Deal: Lessons for Late Learners,” as this paper is reprinted in Choice, Contract, and Constitutions (2001), which is volume 16 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan:
Once a governmental program is instituted, a specific clientele is born, with clearly defined interests in both the maintenance and expansion of the program’s benefits. These interests make themselves felt politically, with the familiar concentration of pressures toward expansion as opposed to the dissipated opposition reflected in the generality of the taxes used to finance the benefits. Even if the structure of a program is widely acknowledged as producing undesired results, it may prove politically impossible to work out the set of compromises and compensations that would be required either to replace or to reform the program in accordance with the promotion of shared objectives.
DBx: Sharing the above quotation from Buchanan prompts me to pose a question to Progressive friends and readers: why do you dismiss as ideologically driven the identification and explanation of faulty incentive structures in government action, but regard as pure and objective science the identification of faulty incentive structures in private-property markets? Or asked somewhat differently: why do you believe that the latter deserves far more weight and attention than does the former?