Back To Buchanan


A while back, I blogged a note about the online magazine Cato Unbound, whose first issue included an essay by Nobel-winning economist James Buchanan that laid out three new amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The replies–by Cato's Bill Niskanen, Yale legal eagle Akhil Reed Amar, and Judge Alex Kozinksi–are now in, and a lively conversation has ensued. I was especially taken by the opening of Kozinski's first rejoinder to Buchanan:

There is, alas, a lingering nostalgia for the vision of the minimalist state as a purer form of government, one that advances everyone's economic well-being while maximizing personal freedom. While I have a romantic attachment to this vision, I'm far from convinced that it would achieve the goals set for it–that we'd be living in a better world today if only we repudiated the New Deal, or had never adopted it in the first place. Whenever I try to imagine what such a world would look like, I look at the world we do live in and recognize that we don't have it so bad at all. We have the world's strongest economy by far; we are the only superpower, having managed to bury the Evil Empire; and we have more freedom than any other people anytime in history. We must be doing something right.

His whole bit here. And more here.