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Politics by Principle, Not Interest
Towards Nondiscriminatory Democracy

$30.99 (C)

  • Date Published: November 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521031325

$ 30.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • In his treatise, The Constitution of Liberty (1960), F. A. Hayek emphasized the central role of the generality principle, as embodied in the rule of law, for the maintenance of a free society. This book extends Hayek's argument by applying the generality principle to politics. Several important policy implications emerge. There are no direct implications to suggest how much governments should do. The argument suggests strongly however, that, whatever is done politically, must be done generally rather than discriminatorily.

    • Senior author is Nobel Laureate in Economics Science, 1986, founder of public choice analysis, and author of 22 books
    • Develops interesting arguments concerning the merits of generality in treatment within a democratic polity
    • The policy implications of generality have been largely overlooked by modern analysis, and these implications have economic consequences
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The idea that legislation should be general and non-discriminatory - that equals should be treated equally - is hardly new. But the notion that this idea might be a constitutional principle, serving to promote political efficiency in the face of the scope for special interest politics that simple majoritarianism provides - THAT notion is a distinctively 'public choice' one, and receives here at the hands of Buchanan and Congleton its most elegant, detailed and compelling exposition." Geoffrey Brennan, Australian National University

    "The disadvantages of the simple majority rule for making collective decisions have been recounted for many years by many public choice scholars. James Buchanan and Roger Congleton attempt to rejustify the use of the simple majority rule in this highly original and thought provoking treatise on political institutions." Dennis C. Mueller, University of Vienna

    "James Buchanan and Roger Congleton provide a thought-provoking analysis of the impact of incorporating a generality constraint to the political arena, so that government actions and policies are applied to everyone equally. This book has the makings of a landmark work that enlightens readers, researchers, students, and practitioners about how the absence of a generality principle promotes rent seeking and other governmental wastes. The authors offer a well-argued, nicely crafted and engaging work of the type one has come to expect from Buchanan and Congleton." Todd Sandler, Iowa State University

    "This volume promises to produce much discussion in academic seminars. Graduate students and faculty." Choice

    "By analyzing majoritarian politics, the book addresses a problem of major importance for all interested in understanding political processes in democratic societies and/or living in nondiscriminatory societies. Thought provoking and carefully argued, it deserves serious reading and discussion." Constitutional Political Economy

    "This book has more depth, breadth, and importance than some shelves full of work I have looked at. Buchanan and Congleton have managed, in a very short space, to make an argument that is both plausible and revolutionary. Politics by principle, not interest is a new benchmark in the application of public choice reasoning to political theory." Michael C. Munger, Public Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521031325
    • length: 192 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.303kg
    • contains: 18 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures and tables
    Part I. Introduction:
    1. Generality, law, and politics
    Part II. Analysis:
    2. Majoritarian democracy
    3. Eliminating the off-diagonals
    4. Extending the argument
    5. Generality and the political agenda
    Part III. Application:
    6. Generality and externality
    7. Market restriction and the generality norm
    8. The political efficiency of general taxation
    9. Deficit financing and intertemporal discrimination
    10. Generality and the supply of public services
    11. Generality and redistribution
    12. Generality without uniformity: social insurance
    13. Generality without uniformity: federalism
    Part IV. Prospect:
    14. The political shape of constitutional order

  • Authors

    James M. Buchanan, George Mason University, Virginia

    Roger D. Congleton, George Mason University, Virginia

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