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 5: Reason, sentiment, and electoral competition

Richard E. Wagner

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


This chapter starts by explaining that a universal feature of competition is its selection for excellence among competitors. This is a purely formal attribute of competition. Just what qualities are actually selected through competition depends on the contexts of competition, which are myriad in number. One can, for instance, be an excellent swimmer without being a terrific diver. Most of this chapter explains how democratic political processes select for different qualities than competitive processes organized through free and open markets.

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