Political Entrepreneurs

The Economic Engine of Political Change

Category: About the Book

Video of Cato Book Forum on Madmen

January 18th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

We had a thoroughly good experience presenting the substance of Madmen at yesterday’s Cato Book Forum. For those of you who didn’t catch the live webcast, the video is now available. Follow the link below. I think it’s particularly interesting to hear Ian Vasquez’s opening remarks and then to skip to the 34:30 mark and watch/listen to the comments by Fred Smith (until recently, the President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute).  There was robust discussion during…
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What do we mean by “Framework”? Ask Elinor Ostrom

December 7th, 2012 by Edward Lopez

On the publisher’s website , Madmen is described as a book that “offers up a simple, economic framework for understanding the systematic causes of political change.” That description follows the language that Wayne and I use throughout the book. For example, in the Preface we say we “offer a framework to think about how ideas matter, when it is that political change happens, and why at other times the status quo endures.” In brief, our framework (laid out…
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Lynne Kiesling recommends PoliticalEntrepreneurs.com

November 26th, 2012 by Edward Lopez

We’re happy to have blogger extraordinaire, Lynne Kiesling at KnowledgeProblem, recommend both Madmen and PoliticalEntrepreneurs.com. Lynne writes: Ed Lopez and Wayne Leighton have a brand-new book out,  Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers , and this blog is a companion to that work…  Both the book and the blog look like a worthwhile read, and have moved to the top of my list. Visit Lynne’s blog , which she co-writes with Michael Giberson, and which I read regularly!

Short video interview on Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers

November 16th, 2012 by Wayne Leighton

Why write a book about political change? How do we go from ideas about politics to a change in political or social outcomes? When does political change happen? These are just a few of the big questions that Ed and I address in Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers. Recently, I sat down with the irreplaceable Luis Figueroa of Universidad Francisco Marroquín to talk about the book. Click the image to watch the interview. Or click here for the interview
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Book is now available!

November 12th, 2012 by Edward Lopez

While the official release date for Madmen is not until November 21, it is now being delivered by the usual online places, including at Amazon (which is also currently displaying most of Chapter 1) and Google Books (which is sneak previewing the first 29 pages!). Our publisher, Stanford University Press, is also doing some interesting stuff. Here is what Madmen looks like on their site: Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers The Economic Engine of…
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Welcome to the Madmen blog

November 12th, 2012 by Edward Lopez

Welcome to the blog, where Wayne and I will post about topics discussed in our book , point to related work and events, and generally continue our project of understanding political change.  Thanks for stopping by, and for coming back.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.189, ch.7)

The most successful entrepreneurs know what they do well, they know the market and the opportunities within it, and they choose those activities that create the most value. This is true in economic as well as political markets.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.178, ch.7)

[W]hen the right elements come together at the right time and place and overwhelm the status quo, it is because special people make it happen. We call them political entrepreneurs.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.176. ch.7)

While we started this book with Danny Biasone saving basketball, we end it with Norman Borlaug saving a billion lives. These stories are not that different. Both faced vested interests, which were reinforced by popular beliefs that things should be a certain way—that is, until a better idea came along.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.174, ch.6)

Because there was a general belief that homeownership was a good thing, politicians found the public with open arms.... Everybody was winning—except Alfred Marshall, whose supply and demand curves were difficult to see through the haze of excitement at the time, and except Friedrich Hayek, whose competition as a discovery procedure was befuddled... In short, once politicians started getting credit for homeownership rates, the housing market was doomed.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.166, ch.6)

Everyone responded rationally to the incentives before them. In short, the rules that guided homeownership changed over time, which in turn changed the incentives of these actors. And bad things happened.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.153, ch.6)

They understood the economics. The ideas had already won in ... the regulatory agency itself. All that remained to be overcome were some vested interests and a handful of madmen in authority.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.146, ch.6)

If the idea for auctions of spectrum use rights had been part of the public debate since at least 1959, why didn’t the relevant institutions change sooner? What interests stood in the way?

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.121, ch.5)

When an academic scribbler comes up with a new idea, it has to resonate well with widely shared beliefs, which in turn must overcome the vested interests at the table. Many forces come together to explain political change, even though it may seem like coincidence of time and place.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.120, ch.5)

It’s the rules of the political game that deserve our focus, not politicians’ personalities or party affiliations.

Madmen, Intellectuals, & Academic Scribblers

The Economic Engine of Political Change

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From the Pages of Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers (p.119, ch.5)

In short, ideas are a type of higher-order capital in society. Like a society that is poor in capital and therefore produces little consumer value, a society that is poor in ideas and institutions will have bad incentives and therefore few of the desirable outcomes that people want.

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