Do Social Rights Affect Social Outcomes?

CHRISTIAN BJØRNSKOV, JACOB MCHANGAMA

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

Abstract: While the United Nations and NGOs are pushing for global judicialization of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCRs), little is known of their consequences. We provide evidence of the effects of introducing three types of ESCRs into the constitution: the rights to education, health, and social security. Employing a large panel covering annual data from 160 countries in the period 1960–2010, we find no robust evidence of positive effects of ESCRs. We do, however, document adverse medium‐term effects on education, inflation, and civil rights.

Sir James Steuart on the Origins of Commercial Nations

JOSÉ M. MENUDO

JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT, Volume 40, Issue 4

Abstract: This paper examines James Steuart’s explanation of the emergence of commercial nations. Unlike other Scottish thinkers of the time, Steuart argues that artifice is necessary for the rise of commercial societies. He uses the term “artificial” to refer to a devised process, one that is an alternative to the supposedly natural process arising from innate propensities. The system of trade and commerce is an “artifice” created by merchants to obtain benefits, and established by the sovereign for his ostentation and personal prestige, until it became generalized as a commercial nation. Steuart’s explanation of the emergence of commercial nations accounts for how individuals become dependent on and subordinate to the public market. This paper concludes that Steuart’s Political Œconomy promotes a science of the artificial that seeks to understand the functioning of non-natural mechanisms and to create instruments that the statesman adapts to the needs and objectives of individuals.

Legitimacy as Public Willing: Kant on Freedom and the Law

JAKOB HUBER

RATIO JURIS, Volume 32, Issue 1, Page 102-116, March 2019.

Introduction: Governments affect their citizens’ lives in significant ways and often against their will. They require them to pay taxes, fight wars, keep agreements, and much more. In short, they claim the right to change the normative situation of their subjects in many ways—most importantly, by creating obligations for them.1

Thoughts on a Thinker-Based Approach to Freedom Of Speech

ERIC BARENDT

LAW AND PHILOSOPHY

Abstract: While agreeing with Seana Shiffrin that any free speech theory must depend on assumptions about our need for free thinking, I am sceptical about her claim that her thinker-based approach provides the best explanation for freedom of speech. Her argument has some similarities with Mill’s argument from truth and with self-development theories, though it improves on the latter. But the thinker-based approach does not show why political discourse, broadly construed, is protected more strongly in all jurisdictions than gossip and sexually explicit speech. Nor does it explain why the ‘mass’ speech of corporations and the mailings of political parties and charities are fully protected by provisions such as the First Amendment. My article concludes with some reflections on the relationship of abstract political theory such as Shiffrin’s to constitutional law; abstract theory must inevitably make some compromises if it is fully to explain constitutional jurisprudence.

Regressive effects of regulation

DIANA W. THOMAS

PUBLIC CHOICE

Abstract: Regulation of health and safety has placed an unacknowledged burden on low-income households and workers. Billions of dollars are spent every year on regulations that seek to reduce life-threatening risks that arise from auto travel, air travel, air and water pollution, food, drugs and construction; the list goes on. Today, some form of regulation affects nearly every aspect of our lives (Shleifer, in: Kessler (ed) Regulation vs. litigation: perspectives from economics and law, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010). All of the regulatory rules ostensibly intend to make consumers or workers better off, but the cost of regulation usually is borne by the same consumers and workers, reducing their ranges of choice; it therefore crowds out private spending. The crowding out effect can be particularly detrimental for low-income households. This special issue explores the various ways in which regulation may have such regressive effects as well as the political determinants of how regulation, despite its unfavorable consequences for low-income households, may come about.

Takings of Land by Self-Interested Governments: Economic Analysis of Eminent Domain

HANS-BERND SCHÄFER, RAM SINGH

THE JOURNAL OF LAW AND ECONOMICS, Volume 61, No. 3

Abstract: In this paper, we model and examine the effects of two salient features of eminent-domain law and its use. First, the compensation is less than full. Second, the government is not a perfect agent of society. Once these features are taken into account, several claims in the existing literature do not hold. Our results question the fiscal illusion theory. We show that full compensation ensures efficiency neither of the takings nor of the investment decisions. Moreover, departure from efficiency can get worse with the tightening of budget constraints. However, undercompensation, combined with the provision of restitution, delivers a better outcome in terms of investment choices by the owners and the taking decisions and choice of projects by the government. Furthermore, we show that fixed-compensation schemes generally are not efficient even if the government is benevolent, but undercompensation can still deliver an outcome more efficient than full compensation.

Ludwig von Mises on war and the economy

CHRISTOPHER J. COYNE

THE REVIEW OF AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS

Abstract: In 1919, in the wake of the Central Power’s defeat in World War I, Ludwig von Mises published his second book, Nation, State, and Economy. The book explores the consequences of war and the type of political and economic arrangements likely to generate a lasting peace in the future. This paper reviews the book’s key themes regarding the relationship between war and the economy. We make connections between Mises’ insights and contemporary literature in order to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Nation, State, and Economy a century after its publication.