Political Entrepreneurs

The Economic Engine of Political Change

Category: Reviews

The Rise of the Political Entrepreneur

April 22nd, 2013 by Wayne Leighton

RootsHQ, an online resource for the conservative movement, recently published an article with a title we use for this post: “ The Rise of the Political Entrepreneur .” The article is by Allen Fuller, the group’s managing partner. You don’t have to be a conservative to appreciate his observations on shifting influences in politics. In short, how people influence the process of political change has evolved tremendously over the last few decades. It’s an argument that Ed and I make in Madmen….
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Peter Gordon reviews Madmen

February 19th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

Peter Gordon , an urban/regional economist and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, has posted a brief review of Madmen . Describing Madmen as a “superb read” and “pure joy,” Professor Gordon’s review emphasizes one of the book’s subtle yet important points: if the ideas of economists and philosophers do matter, then we should have a good grasp of the history of those ideas. This is essentially why we include a history of philosophy and economics in Chapters 2…
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David Zetland at Aguanomics reviews Madmen

February 10th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

Dutch economics professor and water expert, David Zetland,  has reviewed Madmen on his blog, Aguanomics . It is a favorable review (“I recommend as a text for ANY policy class and for ALL students of law, economics and politics.”) that goes chapter-by-chapter in describing our approach to understanding political change, as well as its implications for bringing about beneficial change. I tried in vain to select a paragraph to block quote here, because the entire review is insightful — including the footnotes!…
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Students for Liberty Reviews Madmen

January 26th, 2013 by Edward Lopez

Matthew Needham, a senior politics major at Michigan State University and Executive Board member at Students for Liberty, has enthusiastically reviewed Madmen . An astute reader and conversant (I had the good fortune of meeting him last weekend in Toronto), Matthew concisely summarizes our framework for understanding political change, and then he draws attention to its implications–namely the theme of Chapter 7, “Assembling the Wisdom: What is to be done?” While their model emphasizes the role of academics and…
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Stephen Miller reviews Madmen

December 6th, 2012 by Edward Lopez

My colleague here at Western Carolina, economist Steve Miller, has posted his review of Madmen to the book’s Amazon page. Steve is a political economist who specializes in empirically modeling the effects of intelligence and education on people’s beliefs about human affairs (yes, that’s a broad description but for more detail you can visit Steve’s research page ). Like other reviewers so far, Steve has highlighted the fact that Madmen is rooted in public choice theory, but that it extends beyond traditional…
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BARRON’S reviews Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers

December 2nd, 2012 by Wayne Leighton

Check out the latest issue of Barron’s, in which Michael Strong reviews Madmen, Intellectuals, and Academic Scribblers. The book review section is available online here , and the hard copy is on newsstands now. Money quote: How and when does political and economic change happen? Does such change require a crisis? What role do ideas play? And how might those who hope to effect change invest their time, money, and effort? Economics professors Wayne Leighton and Edward Lopez, active…
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Amazon Customer Review #1

November 12th, 2012 by Edward Lopez

A Customer Review has appeared on the Amazon page for Madmen. Amazon Customer Review, November 10, 2012: If you’re a student of public choice economics, you must despair at all the obstacles to economic liberalization that public choice theory identifies. Political myopia, special interests, transitional gains traps…. But Leighton and Lopez offer some hope for how the stasis of public choice can be overcome. They offer up a simple model to analyze several instances (e.g.,…
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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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