The Birth of Pork: Local Appropriations in America’s First Century

SANFORD C. GORDON and HANNAH K. SIMPSON

AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW, Volume 112, Issue 3

Abstract: After describing a newly assembled dataset consisting of almost 9,000 local appropriations made by the U.S. Congress between 1789 and 1882, we test competing accounts of the politics surrounding them before offering a more nuanced, historically contingent view of the emergence of the pork barrel. We demonstrate that for most of this historical period—despite contemporary accusations of crass electoral motives—the pattern of appropriations is largely inconsistent with accounts of distributive politics grounded in a logic of legislative credit-claiming. Instead, support for appropriations in the House mapped cleanly onto the partisan/ideological structure of Congress for most of this period, and only in the 1870s produced the universalistic coalitions commonly associated with pork-barrel spending. We trace this shift to two historical factors: the emergence of a solid Democratic South, and growth in the fraction of appropriations funding recurrent expenditures on extant projects rather than new starts.

Can Libertarians Get Away with Fraud?

BENJAMIN FERGUSON

ECONOMICS & PHILOSOPHY, Volume 34, Issue 2

Abstract: In this paper I argue that libertarianism neither prohibits exchanges in which consent is gained through deceit, nor does it entail that such exchanges are morally invalid. However, contra James Child’s (1994) similar claim, that it is incapable of delivering these verdicts, I argue that libertarians can claim that exchanges involving deceitfully obtained consent are morally invalid by appealing to an external theory of moral permissibility.

Lincoln and the Politics of the “Towering Genius”

STEVEN B. SMITH

AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 7, Number 3

Abstract: This article examines Lincoln’s “Lyceum Speech” with its concern for the “towering genius” in politics against the backdrop of the recent rise of populism and demagoguery. Lincoln’s concern was with a new kind of problem, namely, the appearance of the romantic hero in politics, a figure presaged in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau and that took the form of radical conscience politics. The model of the transcendental hero was John Brown, whose abolitionist impulse put individual conscience above the law. I contrast the transcendental hero to Lincoln’s conception of constitutional statecraft as based on an ethic of moderation and self-restraint. The article concludes with a contrast between Lincoln and Tocqueville’s worry that the American democratic republic would be characterized by the absence of individuals of grand ambition. Lincoln, I argue, is a better guide to the politics of the contemporary moment.

Economic Foundations of the Territorial State System

AVIDIT ACHARYA, ALEXANDER LEE

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

Abstract: The contemporary world is organized into a system of territorial states in which rulers exercise authority inside clearly defined boundaries and recognize the authority of other rulers outside those boundaries. We develop a model to explain how the major economic and military developments in Europe starting in the fifteenth century contributed to the development of this system. Our model rationalizes the system as an economic cartel in which self‐interested and forward‐looking rulers maintain high tax revenues by reducing competition in the “market for governance.”

Money as meta-rule: Buchanan’s constitutional economics as a foundation for monetary stability

PETER J. BOETTKE, ALEXANDER W. SALTER, DANIEL J. SMITH

PUBLIC CHOICE

Abstract: This paper explores James Buchanan’s contributions to monetary economics and argues these contributions form the foundation of a robust monetary economics paradigm. While often not recognized for his contributions to monetary economics, Buchanan’s scholarship offers important insights for current debates, especially the renewed interest in narrow banking in the wake of the financial crisis. We argue that the post-2007 crisis milieu creates a unique opportunity to recognize, as Buchanan did, the vital role that money plays in the market as the ‘grammar of commerce.’ That recognition makes the need for more fundamental reform of our monetary regimes at the constitutional level more apparent, making Buchanan’s work on monetary constitutions more relevant than ever before. We then discuss how adopting Buchanan’s monetary framework can improve both monetary scholarship and institutions.

Escape from Europe: a calculus of consent model of the origins of liberal institutions in the North American colonies

VLAD TARKO, KYLE O’DONNELL

CONSTITUTIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY

Abstract: The migration out of Europe and the establishment of North American colonies presents us with a great puzzle: why did the colonists establish democratic forms of governance? Considering that early democratic colonies appeared even before philosophical works such as those of Locke and Montesquieu were written, it is difficult to make the case that ideology was the driving factor. We show that the calculus of consent model proposed by Buchanan and Tullock (The calculus of consent, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 1962) offers a simple but subtle solution this puzzle. Because migrants formed much more homogeneous communities, and because, thanks to the large geographical expanse, the inter-jurisdictional externalities were small, the efficient level of consensus within each colony was much greater than in Europe, and the scope of efficient centralized decision-making was much smaller. Hence, a structure of decentralized democratic communities emerged as the efficient outcome.

Spinning the industrial revolution

JANE HUMPHRIES, BENJAMIN SCHNEIDER

THE ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW

Abstract: The prevailing explanation for why the industrial revolution occurred first in Britain during the last quarter of the eighteenth century is Allen’s ‘high wage economy’ view, which claims that the high cost of labour relative to capital and fuel incentivized innovation and the adoption of new techniques. This article presents new empirical evidence on hand spinning before the industrial revolution and demonstrates that there was no such ‘high wage economy’ in spinning, which was a leading sector of industrialization. We quantify the working lives of frequently ignored female and child spinners who were crucial to the British textile industry with evidence of productivity and wages from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. Spinning emerges as a widespread, low‐productivity, low‐wage employment, in which wages did not rise substantially in advance of the introduction of the jenny and water frame. The motivation for mechanization must be sought elsewhere.