By Arnold Kling
I try to explain what George Mason economics is all about.
If you want to be a Masonomist, you have to lose the we. When people use we in today’s politics , they are doing two things.
1. Appealing to a moral entity that stands apart from and above John, Mary, or any other individual
2. Treating government as the embodiment of that higher moral entity
You can be a Masonomist and believe (1). It is a good thing to have a conscience and moral standards. It is a good thing to engage in volunteer work, to form organizations that address the needs of others, and to act unselfishly toward family and others in your community.
…However, Masonomics is unrelenting in its rejection of (2). For many years, George Mason has been the home of Public Choice Theory
Read the whole thing.
I can just see some Masonomist objecting to my characterization of Masonomics and saying, “Arnold, lose the we.”
UPDATE: A commenter links to a paper by Joseph Stiglitz as representing a different view. That it does, but it shows how MIT economics and Masonomics talk past one another.
I would say Joe, fine, there are many examples of market failure. And maybe you can do things to reduce government failure. But in the end, there is the issue of dynamics. Market failure tends to be self-correcting, because entrepreneurs have incentive to fix things. For government failure to be corrected, somebody needs the insight to know how to correct it and they need to overcome the political opposition to changing the system. In practice, the change does not happen. You cannot get rid of the mohair subsidy.
To me, the problem with the Stiglitz-MIT view is that they do not share the Masonomics view of the real nature of government failure. It is not just that special interests can gum things up. It is that however things get gummed up, they are persistently gummed up in an institution that is insulated from market competition.