Barone and me on why Americans are "negative"
Country music and tough times

Recommended: Winston's Government Failure Versus Market Failure

I recommend Clifford Winston's new book--actually, booklet: it's only 107 pages not including the preface, references, and index--Government Failure Versus Market Failure. (It's free.) Beginning economics courses typically discuss, at length, possible causes of market failure, including externalities, public goods, asymmetric information, and market power.

But these courses rarely offer a matching discussion of causes of government failure. And even if they do, they usually do not discuss the last several decades of experience and academic empirical work on the issue. Winston does, compactly, straightforwardly, and compellingly. He concludes (p. 3):

An additional thirty years of empirical evidence on the efficacy of market failure policies initiated primarily by the federal government, but also by the states, suggests that the welfare cost of government failure may be considerably greater than that of market failure. More specifically, the evidence suggests that policymakers have attempted to correct market failures with policies designed to affect either consumer or firm behavior, or both or to allocate resources. Some policies have forced the U.S. economy to incur costs in situations where no serious market failure exists, while others in situations where costly market failures do exist, could have improved resource allocation in a much more efficient manner.