Politics as a Peculiar Business

Politics as a Peculiar Business

Insights from a Theory of Entangled Political Economy

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Richard E. Wagner

Economists typically treat government as something outside the business realm, a sort of “Lord of the Manor”. Richard Wagner argues that this is the wrong approach and can ultimately be destructive to capitalism and to society.

Chapter 1: Public choice and the Virginia tradition of political economy

Richard E. Wagner

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory

Abstract

This chapter explores some issues regarding the scholarly location of what is often described as the Virginia tradition in political economy. While the Virginia tradition originated during the neoclassical period and its widespread use of demonstrable reasoning, the home of the tradition resides in the classical tradition and its grounding in plausible reasoning. While the classical-neoclassical divide is commonly based on the explanation of prices and allocations, this is a sensible classificatory scheme only from within the neoclassical tradition. By contrast, scholarship within the spirit of Virginia political economy is more at home with the classical placement of the institutions of human governance and interaction into the analytical foreground, with prices and allocations being relegated to the background.