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 6: Parasitical political calculation

Richard E. Wagner

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


This chapter explains that the generally orderly quality of politically sponsored activities within a society necessarily bears a parasitical relationship to market activity. Within societies of even modest complexity, reasonable orderliness requires some degree of private property and the resulting generation of market prices which renders economic calculation possible. Politically sponsored enterprises likewise require market prices even if their operating logic requires them to modify and degrade some of those prices. The quality of the resulting parasitical interaction among differently constituted entities is the prime topic explored here.

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