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Debt and Taxes (Bodyworks)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0865972391
ISBN-10: 0865972397
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About the Author

Recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics, James Buchanan has won international recognition for his pioneering role in the development of public-choice theory.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bodyworks (Book 14)
  • Hardcover: 565 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865972397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865972391
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,238,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jerry H. Tempelman on April 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Volume 14 of James M. Buchanan's Collected Works series contains his papers on taxation and on public debt finance. The papers supplement Buchanan's book-length treatments of those subjects (which are, roughly, volumes 2, 4, 8, and 9 in the series).

The papers on taxation are divided into four categories: public choice, earmarking, tax limitations, and fiscal constitutionalism. The dominant theme is the shortcomings of orthodox public finance theory, as observed from a public-choice perspective. Public finance-based tax theory tends to neglect the expenditure side of the government budget. Public finance focuses too much on outcomes, whether of justice or efficiency or economic growth, and not enough on the process by or rules under which these outcomes are obtained. And public finance theory tends to not adequately consider the political setting within which collective choices are made. In short, public finance is interested in what's best for government, while public choice is more interested in what's best for individual citizens.

Buchanan's views on public debt finance can be summarized as follows.
(i.) Public debt constitutes a burden on future generations (we do not "owe it to ourselves"). This is unfair because those future generations end up facing a financial burden that is the result of spending and borrowing decisions in which they had no participation.
(ii.) The tendency in elective majoritarian democracy becomes for government to borrow and spend rather than tax and spend, and to spend much rather than little.
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