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Politics as Tragedy in Several Acts

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  • James M. Buchanan

Abstract

James Madison noted that government would be unnecessary if men were angels. The shortfall of value between the idealized anarchy of a society of angels and the society of men as they are measures the tragedy of politics, which emerges at several levels. Resources are required for the maintenance of order, and those agents who are guardians of order will not, themselves, be angels. Further, rents promised to such agents will attract efforts at capture. Reductions in the measure of the tragedy remain possible through both shifts in ethical standards, at all levels, and shifts in institutional‐constitutional structures.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Buchanan, 2003. "Politics as Tragedy in Several Acts," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 181-191, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:15:y:2003:i:2:p:181-191
    DOI: 10.1111/1468-0343.00121
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0343.00121
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Horgos & Klaus W. Zimmermann, 2010. "It Takes Two to Tango: Lobbies and the Political Business Cycle," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 383-399, August.
    2. Stringham, Edward Peter, 2011. "Embracing morals in economics: The role of internal moral constraints in a market economy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 98-109.
    3. Kane, Edward J., 2011. "Unmet Duties in Managing Financial Safety Nets," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-22, January.
    4. Scharfenkamp Katrin, 2016. "It’s About Connections – How the Economic Network of the German Federal Government Affects the Top Earners’ Average Income Tax Rate," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 236(4), pages 427-453, August.
    5. Scharfenkamp, Katrin, 2013. "Composition effects of the German Federal Government on the average top income tax burden," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 2/2013, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.

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