Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1600827
 


 



Does the State Create the Market - And Should it Pursue Efficiency?


Timothy Sandefur


Pacific Legal Foundation

May 5, 2010

Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2010

Abstract:     
Many of today’s proposals for expanding government’s role in private life have at their core a deeply fallacious conception of the nature and function of markets, specifically, the notion that government creates the market by defining and enforcing property and contract rights. On this premise, it is claimed that there is nothing particularly wrong with government radically altering those rights, or the other terms on which individuals are allowed to engage in economic transactions, because such alterations are not infringements on pre-existing freedom, but merely shifts in the distribution of rights that the state created in the first place. This article challenges this premise and defends the classical liberal proposition that markets do, in fact, come first. The state is neither historically nor ontologically prior to the market. Nor is it prior to other types of free human interactions. It can therefore assert no “ownership” claim over the market as a justification for controlling individual economic choices. After addressing these issues, I conclude with some observations on a related argument: the contention that government policy should be organized in such a way as to increase economic efficiency.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: efficiency, markets, natural rights, Sunstein, Tribe, state of nature

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Date posted: May 6, 2010 ; Last revised: May 8, 2010

Suggested Citation

Sandefur, Timothy, Does the State Create the Market - And Should it Pursue Efficiency? (May 5, 2010). Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1600827

Contact Information

Timothy Sandefur (Contact Author)
Pacific Legal Foundation ( email )
930 G Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
United States
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