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"How to Start Thinking Like a Public Choice Economist"

Almost everybody interesting in public policy could use some public choice economics.

The core insight of public choice economics is that all people respond to incentives . . . even politicians. And judges, and regulators, and the chairman of the PTA, and the president, and the pope, and so on. I recognize the statement may seem a little obvious, but I don’t mean it flippantly. Few disagree with the statement that “all people respond to incentives” when thinking about buyers and sellers in the marketplace, but there is a long tradition of scholarship that presumes political leaders and civil servants to be the folks who rise above the fray. The uniqueness of the public choice insight is in how much understanding can be gained from instead treating actors in political systems as if they have the same knowledge and moral compass as the rest of us.

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