The attempt to exercise top-down government authority, even with the most noble of intentions, will ultimately face problems similar to those faced in all types of central planning. The limits of human reason and the planner’s ability to engage in rational constructivism apply as strongly abroad as they do domestically. This chapter lays out those limitations and encourages a note of caution in attempts to intervene abroad.
This paper analyzes the “revolving door” phenomena in the military sector in the United States. The revolving door refers to the back-and-forth movement of personnel between the government and private sector. We trace the historical and economic reasons behind the emergence of this phenomenon and discuss the related perverse consequences, including the perpetuation of the permanent war economy which serves the narrow interests of select elites rather than the broad interests of citizens.
Economists often model national defense as a pure public good optimally provided by a benevolent and omnipotent "defense brain" to maximize social welfare. This paper critically considers five assumptions associated with this view.
The governments of American states often attempt to incentivize businesses to locate within their
borders by offering targeted benefits to particular industries and companies. These benefits come
in many forms, including business tax credits for investments, property tax abatements, and
reductions in the sales tax. Despite good intentions, policymakers often overlook the unseen and
unintended negative consequences of targeted-benefit policies. This paper analyzes two major
downsides of these policies: (1) they lead to a misallocation of resources, and (2) they encourage
rent-seeking and thus cronyism. We argue that these costs, which are often longer-term and not
readily observable at the time the targeted benefits are granted, may very well outweigh any
possible short-term economic benefits.
This paper analyzes how foreign interventions can result in a broadening of government powers and a concurrent reduction of citizens’ liberties and freedoms domestically. The authors develop an analytical framework to examine the effects of coercive foreign interventions on the scope of domestic government activities. Facing limited or altogether absent constraints abroad, coercive foreign interventions serve as a testing ground for domestically-constrained governments to experiment with new technologies and methods of social control over foreign populations.
The purpose of this paper is to balance this largely one-sided treatment of the U.S. government’s dominant position in the international arms market. We discuss several negative consequences and costs associated with U.S. arms sales which call into question the net benefit of the U.S. government’s control over global arms.
This paper analyzes the private provision of public and quasi-public goods in a free society. In particular, the authors examine philanthropy as an avenue through which such goods are already produced and may be provided in a society without a central government.
This paper provides a political economy analysis of the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or “drones”, in the United States. Focus is placed on the interplay between the political and private economic influences; and their impact on the trajectory of political, economic, and, in this case, military outcomes.
The narrative that arose during the Great Depression and World War II was that capitalism was in its final stages and failing. The economic arguments of the time combined strands of Keynesianism and Marxism to construct a link between military spending and unemployment, suggesting that the capitalist economy of the U.S. must become militarized to be sustained.
Recent scholarship regarding the idea of a U.S. Empire has raised serious questions as to the feasibility and desirability of imperial ambitions. This paper traces the debate over the net-benefit of empire back to the Classical economists.
In 2010, Haiti was ravaged by a brutal earthquake that affected the lives of millions. The call to assist those in need was heard around the globe. Yet two years later humanitarian efforts led by governments and NGOs have largely failed.