Economist James M. Buchanan Passes

Have an actual con­nec­tion to this guy.  One of my col­lege eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sors at UW-Eau Claire was a stu­dent of Buchanan’s dur­ing his time at Vir­ginia Tech.

Rest in peace to another in the long line of Amer­i­can eco­nomic Nobel laureates.

James M. Buchanan, the U.S. econ­o­mist who won the 1986 Nobel Prize for apply­ing the prin­ci­ples of eco­nomic self-interest to under­stand why politi­cians do what they do, has died. He was 93.

Alex Tabar­rok, direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Study of Pub­lic Choice at George Mason Uni­ver­sity in Fair­fax, Vir­ginia, where Buchanan was a dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of eco­nom­ics, con­firmed the death in an e-mail. The cause wasn’t imme­di­ately available.

The Royal Swedish Acad­emy of Sci­ences awarded Buchanan the Nobel in eco­nom­ics “for his devel­op­ment of the con­trac­tual and con­sti­tu­tional bases for the the­ory of eco­nomic and polit­i­cal decision-making.”

Buchanan was a pio­neer in the field known as public-choice the­ory, which views gov­ern­ment deci­sions through the per­sonal inter­ests of the bureau­crats and elected lead­ers who want to advance in their careers and win campaigns.

He sum­ma­rized pub­lic choice as “pol­i­tics with­out romance” and said it helps explain why estab­lished bureau­cra­cies “tend to grow appar­ently with­out limit,” why pork-barrel pol­i­tics endure and why the tax sys­tem is defined by “the increas­ing num­ber of spe­cial cred­its, exemp­tions and loop­holes.” At the time he received the award, his ideas were find­ing a recep­tive audi­ence within the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Ronald Reagan.

Buchanan left Vir­ginia Tech around 1983, then mov­ing towards George Mason Uni­ver­sity.  His pres­ence, along with those like Wal­ter E. Williams and many more, helped make George Mason one of the most sought-after loca­tions for those seek­ing the study of free mar­ket economics.

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