This study provides a systematic analysis of selective consumption tax policy. We detail both the
motivations behind selective consumption taxes and the policy’s shortcomings. Empirically, we
explore how consumption of 12 goods—alcohol, cigarettes, fast food, items sold at vending
machines, purchases of food away from home, cookies, cakes, chips, candy, donuts, bacon, and
carbonated soft drinks—varies across the income distribution by calculating the goods’ income-expenditure elasticities.
Using monthly US data on project-grant awards in 2009 and 2010, we study which objectives presidents pursue in distributing resources. We also address theoretical and empirical ambiguities regarding when and which congressional districts receive distributive benefits. Our results show that core constituencies of the president’s party receive more federal funding in both presidential and congressional elections.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholars Anna Mills and Edward J. Timmons examine differences in licensing requirements state-to-state and over time to explore the effect that optician licensing has on practitioner earnings.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholar Alexander William Salter examines several different proposed rules that the Fed could follow. Salter provides a framework to help policymakers better understand how incentives and information can affect monetary policy and discusses discretion-based and rule-based approaches to monetary policy.
Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is often read as a policy book and a political tract for its time. It is also often read as little more than a “slippery slope” argument, leading inevitably down a road from a free society to the gulag. In this paper I will try to counter both of those claims by explaining that Hayek’s book is part of a broader project dealing with the institutional infrastructure within which economic activity takes place. His argument, rather than being a slippery slope, is an imminent critique of the socialist program as advocated by British socialists, who were his primary target in the 1940s.
We find that union political contributions and collective bargaining are associated with higher incomes for state and local employees and with higher public employment, both across state and local government overall as well as within the education sector. We also find little to no evidence that union activity influences total spending.
This paper addresses the following question: how frequently do cities use government regulation of land use to coerce environmentally friendly development? In particular, the paper focuses on minimum density requirements, maximum parking requirements, and laws requiring “green” building (usually buildings that include a variety of energy-conserving features). The article concludes that the first type of regulation is rare, while the latter two are somewhat more frequent.
This paper provides the first examination of the relationship between eminent domain activity and the growth (and level) of state and local revenue. We restrict our attention to takings that are for private use, such as the one that led to the landmark Kelo decision in 2005.
This paper suggests that there exists a neglected third branch of Chicago price theory, which includes Armen Alchian (1914-2013), James Buchanan (1919-2013), and Ronald Coase (1910-2013). We argue that this Alchian, Buchanan, Coase approach to price theory provides not a bridge between the "Old" Chicago School and the "New" Chicago School, but an alternative development of the Chicago School. Our paper while building on the joint insights of Alchian, Buchanan and Coase, is focused on Coase’s development of this approach, and clarifying his contribution.
In this paper, we examine existing literature on the prevalence, consequences, wastefulness, and causes of year-end spending surges. We then report executive departments’ year-end obligated federal contract expenditure patterns using data obtained from USASpending.gov. We review literature on purported solutions to curb year-end spending surges, and conclude with a policy recommendation of our own.
Mercatus PhD Fellow Vipin Veetil, along with Akshaya Vijayalakshmi and Srikanth Viswanathan, address Amartya Sen's criticism of cash-transfer programs such as education vouchers in the Wall Street Journal.
This book demonstrates unmistakably that the growth of government stymies entrepreneurship and threatens prosperity—a demonstration that, it is hoped, will help inspire efforts not just to slow, but to reverse, this growth and return to prosperity.