The Big Tent of Happiness
By Arnold Kling
Reviewing Bruno Frey’s latest book, Alan Wolfe writes,
Frey proposes what he calls “positive Constitutional economics.” …Federalism would be strengthened by decentralizing power, not to the states but to an entirely new political element that would have limited and defined functions, allow citizens to opt in or opt out, and organize people on the basis of commonly chosen interests as opposed to “archaic nationalism committed to pieces of land.” Frey calls his preferred form of federalism “FOCJ,” for units that are functional, overlapping, competing, and jurisdictional. We already have some sense of how they work; the process by which states outbid each other to attract business comes fairly close to his model. And we know what such a system produces: a race to the bottom, leaving everyone–except a few CEOs and stockholders–unhappy.
It sounds like what Frey is proposing is similar to what I would propose. Frey is a champion of happiness research. I am a committed skeptic. I am curious as to how he got from his research to his recommendations.
I second Tyler Cowen’s recommendation of Wolfe’s essay, although the disparity between the methodological and political bedfellows it creates for me is rather striking.