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Property Rights and the Limits of Democracy

Property Rights and the Limits of Democracy

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Property rights lie at the heart of the economic success of any economy and the extent to which its citizens enjoy economic freedom. At a time when Eastern Europe is breaking free from the yoke of collectivist-socialist ideas, this book presents essays by four political economists evaluating a range of feasible reforms intended to breathe new life into constitutional republicanism.

The first essay by James M. Buchanan grounds the defence of private property ownership in the protection that it affords to individual liberty. This is followed by a succinct but comprehensive account by Gordon Tullock of his research programme in rent seeking. This is a great and instructive contribution which skilfully draws out the dangerous implications of rent seeking for private property rights. A far-reaching and insightful essay by Richard E. Wagner exposes the failure of the United States constitution to overcome the tyranny of the majority so feared by the Founding Fathers: the author demonstrates why the tyranny of the majority cannot be overcome by a written constitution unless the institutions of society are designed to offer complementary support to limited government and the rule of law. In the final essay, Charles Rowley retraces the history of social choice theory, identifies the errors that it has promulgated and the corrective lessons that can be learned from the classical liberal philosophy that it has substantially ignored.

Including essays by some of the most eminent scholars in the field, Property Rights and the Limits of Democracy makes an important and distinguished contribution to one of the most central issues in political economy in the late twentieth century.

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