Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amen to this 

I mentioned Gordon Tullock yesterday. Don Boudreaux writes that Gordon is still alive and well:
At 87 Gordon's mind is as sharp as ever. No scholar has done more than Gordon to disabuse people of any romantic or religious notions that they might have about the nature of government. ...

Among the most important of Gordon's insights are

- his demonstration that good political decisions are public-goods no less than are the public-goods that allegedly are provided in only sub-optimal quantities on private markets;

- his demonstration that people and institutions spend resources in socially (if not privately) wasteful way seeking privileges from government;

- his demonstration that there is nothing at all special about majority rule as a means of arriving at collective decisions; that is, a supermajority rule is at least as likely -- and, probably, more likely -- to maximize welfare over time than is a rule of simple majority.

No economist still living deserves the Nobel Prize in Economics more than does Gordon -- and only Armen Alchian deserves it as much. It's a damn shame that neither Gordon nor Alchian has yet received this award.

I have several recollections of Tullock, the first of which is here. I hold out hope that I will yet get to meet Alchian. As a macroeconomist I would have put other names on Boudreaux's list of who deserves it as much -- Tom Sargent and Jagdish Bhagwati, for example -- but I'd be pleased if Alchian or Tullock went first.