Gordon Tullock, RIP

Gordon Tullock, RIP

Gordon TullockThe great economist Gordon Tullock died recently at age 92. He is most associated with Public Choice Economics. Under it, economists look at government bureaucrats, not as disinterested, omniscient parties trying to keep things going by enforcing the rule of law, but as themselves flawed actors in the political drama. His early theories were written in a 1962 book with James Buchanan (who won the 1986 Nobel economics prize) in “The Calculus of Consent,” free here.

The proof of Public Choice Economics has become even more clear since public-employee unions were allowed collective-bargaining powers beginning in the early 1960s. Especially in California, the unions use their political clout to greatly influence elections, putting in place politicians and ballot initiatives that, for example, have goosed pensions to unbearable levels.

John J. Miller wrote of Tullock a couple years back:

The book is a founding text of public-choice theory, a powerful intellectual movement that analyzes why governments so often fail to achieve their goals. “It’s a classic,” says William A. Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute. Public-choice theorists view lawmakers and bureaucrats through the lens of classical economics: as rational deliberators acting on the basis of their own interests. By eschewing the naïve view of public officials as selfless benefactors of the public good, this approach has blazed new trails in explaining government dysfunctionality….

But the case for Tullock doesn’t need to rest on this book alone, as his greatest contribution to economics may lie somewhere else entirely.

Tullock is the author of one of the most groundbreaking economics papers ever published: “The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies, and Theft.” It explained that when individuals or groups try to gain economic advantages through the manipulation of government policy — lobbying to build trade barriers or legal monopolies, for instance — the costs of their activities are both high and hidden. They not only discourage competition, but also drive talented people into non-productive activities, as skilled managers devote themselves to winning new favors from government or defending the ones they already have. Today, this behavior is called “rent-seeking,” and it is of course deeply embedded in Washington’s [and Sacramento’s — J.S.] political culture of earmarks and subsidies. In his paper, Tullock mischievously likened the whole enterprise to theft. “I try to raise eyebrows in everything I write,” he says.

[The paper] has since been credited with helping overturn the once-consensus view that the social costs of government regulations are minimal. 

Instead, as we see here everyday in California especially, the social costs of government are immense, and do such things as driving out businesses and tax-paying workers.

Tullock helped provide us the theoretical framework to understand the ripoffs and oppressions government was imposing in practice.





Write a comment
    NTHEOC 12 November, 2014, 17:20

    the unions use their political clout to greatly influence elections.
    As do millionaires, big business,large corporations,etc! Tell you what, when they stop influencing then lets talk about the unions.

    have goosed pensions to unbearable levels
    Oh I knew that line was coming! The every DOOMERS take on pensions, “Unfunded liability”, “Unbearable levels”, “Causing BKs”, lol!!!!!!!! We are Doomed because of the pensions…….. Nothing more than Doomer Propaganda.

    Instead, as we see here everyday in California especially, the social costs of government are immense, and do such things as driving out businesses and tax-paying workers.
    Lol!!! It never ends. More Doomer theories! Business in California is BOOMING!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  2. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 12 November, 2014, 17:51

    In the entire history of Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, beginning 80 years ago, there have been only about 650 partitions filed for such protection. The vast majority of those were filed by special districts, such as the Boondocks Water District, when they got in over their heads with their bonds. There were on 5 Chapter 9 petitions filed in the entire U.S. during 2013.

    The chance of any government entity of going bankrupt is somewhere around two-tents of one percent in a given year. The chance of a city or county meeting the required filing criteria are even lower.

    Much ado about nothing more than envy and an attempt to cash in on the 401 fees that would be generated if the defined benefit pensions were converted.

    Reply this comment
  3. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 12 November, 2014, 17:57

    When did Gordon Tullock win his Nobel Prize for economics? Oh, that’s right, he never did. In fact, those economists who have actually bee awarded the Nobel for their work think he’s a crackpot. Even Uncle Miltie disregarded Trullock’s claims in large part.

    Reply this comment
  4. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 12 November, 2014, 18:13

    You didn’t mention in your tribute that Tullock coined a theory referred to as “rent-seeking”. Rent seeking is when a monopolistic corporation uses their financial position to lobby politicians in order to create legislation with the intent of increasing their profits. (Can you say “ObolaCare”)? This can result in moral hazard when politicians make policy decisions based on the lobby instead of the efficiency of the policy.
    This pretty much describes the reason for the global economic meltdown of 2008 and IMO will be the cause of the eventual financial collapse of the United States of America. In common language it’s referred to as “Pay to Play”. This is why Americans spend 20% of our GDP on health care. It is why Big Oil rapes us fiancially at the gas pumps. This is why the Too Big To Fail banks are allowed to collectively launder trillions of narco dollars and not one bankster is indicted, let alone imprisoned.
    It’s a shame that Mr. Tullock was not a household name. Instead they give all the accolades to goofballs like Paul Krugman who couldn’t pick a winner in a one-horse race. Everything he says turns out to be the opposite of what he claims. His nobel peace prize is about as worthless as POTUS Obola’s, who turned out to be one of the biggest war mongers ever to inhabit the white house.
    RIP, Mr. Tullock. You never got the recognition that you deserved, sir. These idiot scammers will continue to violate all your theories until the entire nation is nothing more than one big soup kitchen!!! You’ll get the last laugh! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  5. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 12 November, 2014, 22:54

    Whatever piece of paper Krugman was awarded I would use as a doggy-squeeze pickup bag, as I would with Obola’s nobel peace prize. Both are total losers undeserving of any such awards. Both have caused tremendous damage to our country. IMO Obola should be charged with treason. If it’s good enough for Snowden, it’s good enough for him! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  6. Ocsays
    Ocsays 13 November, 2014, 10:22

    Ocobserver, LetitCollapse, Beezlebub, JustUs, or whatever sock puppet name you’re going by these days. Me thinks it’s time for you to call it quits, because your strawman days are over. “If you only had a brain”, you might be dangerous.

    Reply this comment
  7. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 13 November, 2014, 11:29

    Your snout has been stuffed in the trough slop for so long I think you’ve developed cerebral hypoxia, old boy. Your comments are making less and less sense as time moves on. Go get a neuro workup. Make sure you tell the doc you were a career gubmint employee where cerebral hypoxia is considered a normal condition by many brain specialists.

    Reply this comment
  8. T Mind of your Ted Godhead System
    T Mind of your Ted Godhead System 13 November, 2014, 21:33

    RIP God Bless him….

    Reply this comment

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