Political Entrepreneurs

The Economic Engine of Political Change

Category: Events

Why License a Tour Guide? Some Final Thoughts on the Economics of Political Change

July 8th, 2014 by Gary McDonnell

I have discussed in some detail airline deregulation as a case study of political change within the economic framework laid out in Madmen. Interstate trucking, long-distance telecommunications, railroads, banking, stock brokerage, oil and gas, are additional cases where deregulation occurred.  Future research into these cases may suggest ways in which political entrepreneurs were able to “arbitrage between academic ideas and political inefficiencies.”  But political change– or at least the potential– is in the here and the…
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On Working Hard: Reflections on Receiving APEE’s Distinguished Scholar Award

April 18th, 2014 by Edward Lopez

As I do each April, this past week I attended the meetings of the Association of Private Enterprise Education. You can find my brief overview here , where I mention that the Association recognized me with this year’s Distinguished Scholar Award . It’s customary for the recipient to say a few words. My “acceptance” remarks were a brief reflection on APEE’s motto, “Work Hard, Play Hard” (in that order), and afterward several people had supportive things to say and…
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Free Enterprise on a Massive Scale: The 2014 APEE Meetings

April 18th, 2014 by Edward Lopez

The Association of Private Enterprise Education is alive and well. This year’s conference was held earlier this week at The Wynn Las Vegas and was attended by about 530 scholars, practitioners, and students from 12 countries. It was the largest attendance in the Associations 39-year history. To put that in perspective, my notes say that the 2001 meeting in Washington, DC, was attended by 142, and the 2000 meeting at Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas drew attendance of 206. So APEE…
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2014 Public Choice Society Meetings

February 12th, 2014 by Edward Lopez

I am pleased to announce the conference program for the 2014 Public Choice Society meetings . As many of you know, the Society was founded by James M. Buchanan , Gordon Tullock, Mancur Olson, Vincent Ostrom, and others whose life work was dedicated to understanding human interaction in non-market exchange. Last year the Society celebrated its 50th Anniversary by returning to one of its favorite venues, the historic Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. This year, we have the pleasure of returning to Charleston, South Carolina, and our…
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Call for Conference Papers: Public Choice Society 2014

June 27th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

Now in my second of two years as president of the Public Choice Society, I’m happy to draw attention to the call for conference papers for the 2014 conference, which will be at the Francis Marion Hotel, March 6-9, in Charleston, South Carolina. The website opens for submissions on October 17. Spread the word!

Leighton and Lopez Appearing on Stossel

May 16th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

Tune in to John Stossel’s show on the Fox Business Network, tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, as Wayne and Ed will be interviewed about their new book, Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers. The eipsode will air again several times over the weekend. This episode of Stossel covers “The War on Small Business.” After interviewing other guests about unnecessary regulations that harm “the little guy,” Stossel then asks Wayne and Ed to explain how government sometimes deregulates. We describe how…
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Public Choice Society 50th Anniversary Meetings

March 11th, 2013 by Wayne Leighton

The Public Choice Society 50th Anniversary meetings in New Orleans concluded yesterday. It was a very special, productive occasion. The tributes to James Buchanan and Elinor and Vincent Ostrom were a nice mix of touching remembrance and serious reflection. The conference has been extremely well-organized. Pete Boettke posted the following comments : Congratulations to Public Choice Society President Edward Lopez for putting together what promises to be a very interesting and engaging conference.  Public Choice is…
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The Public Choice Society at 50 Years

March 8th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

In April, 1963, James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock organized an interdisciplinary conference of scholars from economics, political science, sociology, and law. Their topic — which leveraged the success of Buchanan’s and Tullock’s 1962 book, The Calculus of Consent — was the rational analysis of politics. A second conference followed the next year, and the proceedings were printed in an edited volume. A third conference followed. And soon the nascent group of odd-ball scholars were gaining…
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The Antigua Forum 2013

January 30th, 2013 by Wayne Leighton

This past weekend (January 24-27, 2013) marked the second annual gathering of the Antigua Forum.  Over 30 reformers from around the world gathered in Antigua, Guatemala to focus on one key theme: how to make market-liberal reform a reality in their countries. The participants at this year’s event included experienced reformers (e.g., former high-ranking officials), current reformers (those who are “in the trenches”), innovators working outside of the traditional political process (e.g., private education in…
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In Memoriam: James M. Buchanan

January 9th, 2013 by Wayne Leighton

The tributes will be coming fast and furious in memory of the great James M. Buchanan, who died today. As president of the Public Choice Society, my co-author Ed López can talk for hours about the contributions of this intellectual giant. For now, I will simply quote two paragraphs about Buchanan and Tullock’s contributions to political economy in general and public choice in particular, as described in Chapter 4 of our book, Madmen, Intellectuals and…
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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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