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James M. Buchanan
1919 -

Economist, former professor of economics, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economic Science (1986), principle architect of the "Public ChoiceTheory" of economics and political science, co-author (with Gordon Tullock) of The Calculus of Consent (1962) and author of ten other books including Liberty, Market, and State (1985)

Books by James M. Buchanan
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Calculus of Consent:Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (1962)
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Ethics & Economic Progress
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The Limits of Liberty: Between Anarchy & Leviathan
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Why didn't we have deficits before? You see the Keynesian economic revolution gave the politicians an excuse for deficits. You give politicians half an excuse; they play out this natural proclivity. ... As you destroy the old-time fiscal religion, you're going to have this natural proclivity toward deficits. In 1977 [my book] called Democracy in Deficit [made] the argument that the Keynesian destruction of the old mythology about balanced budgets would guarantee the regime that we've had. Certainly the predictions in that book have held up very well.

Sep. 1995 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
I like the noise of democracy.

If you recognize the natural proclivity of democratic politics to generate deficits, you recognize that we did have a constitutional norm against deficits. It was basically a moral norm: It was a 'sin' to create deficits prior to the Keynesian period. If you remove that moral norm you have this natural proclivity.

Sep. 1995 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
It's not the Federal Reserve's [central bank's] role to be solving the economic problems of the day. I think the Federal Reserve has enough to do, and it should target itself much more carefully toward keeping the value of the monetary means stable and quit doing other things.

Sep. 1995 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
[What is the role of government?] We don't think nearly enough about it - especially the general public doesn't think enough about it. ... I'm not one of those anarcho-capitalists who thinks that there's no role for government. In one sense I'm a philosophical anarchist but on the other hand I think government's absolutely necessary, but it's necessary in a limited way. I go along very much with the James Madison view that the role of government, and particularly the central government, is to provide the parameters within which we play the economic and political game.

from Erosion of the Constitution, an interview for The Idea Channel
We're just at the threshold beginning to examine the whole structure of our institutions in a foundational sense. It's partly because the ideology that was behind a lot of the socialist thrust is gone. Partly we recognize a lot of failures. We recognize that the political or governmental sector is too large. The problem is more acute in some countries than it is in ours. Sweden, for example, is in really bad trouble. They've over-extended the welfare state. They don't know what to do. They're failing. They're falling behind. But it's true in all the major countries.

Sep. 1995 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
I was influenced by the Swedish economist Wicksell, who said if you want to improve politics, improve the rules, improve the structure. Don't expect politicians to behave differently. They behave according to their interests.

Sep. 1995 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis