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Peter Van Doren returns to Free Thoughts for a discussion on public choice economics and how it affects political decision making.

Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor
Trevor Burrus
Research Fellow, Constitutional Studies

Peter Van Doren is editor of the quarterly journal Regulation and an expert in the regulation of housing, land, energy, the environment, transportation, and labor. He has taught at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (Princeton University), the School of Organization and Management (Yale University), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1987 to 1988 he was the postdoctoral fellow in political economy at Carnegie Mellon University. His writing has been published in theWall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Journal of Commerce, and the New York Post. Van Doren has also appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox News Channel, and Voice of America. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s degree and doctorate from Yale University.

This week Peter Van Doren joins us to explain the economics of decision making in politics. What is public choice theory and how does it explain what happens in a majority rules democracy? Is public choice a type of macroeconomic theory? How does ordering a series of votes change their outcome? What’s rent‐​seeking? What does the phrase “concentrated benefits and diffuse costs” mean? What’s the median voter theorem and how does it affect our politics in America?

Show Notes and Further Reading

Kenneth Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values (book)

Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy (book)

Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups (book)

James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (book)

Michael E. Levine and Charles R. Plott, “Agenda Influence and Its Implications” (article)

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) (Wikipedia article)

Say’s Law (Wikipedia article)

Pareto Efficiency (Wikipedia article)