James M. Buchanan and the Corrupting Quality of Public Indebtedness

34 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2018

See all articles by Richard E. Wagner

Richard E. Wagner

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 14, 2018

Abstract

This paper explains that James Buchanan’s theory of public debt entailed more than the shifting of cost forward in time from the current generation of taxpayers to future generations of taxpayers. The possibility of such shifting is dubious, for public debt really entails a shifting of cost among a current set of taxpayers. Beyond this cost shifting, public debt engenders a corruption of the meaning of contract through elevating public law to a position of superiority to the institutional processes of private law. In contrast, genuine liberal governance requires public ordering to proceed concordantly with private ordering.

Keywords: James M. Buchanan; public debt; budgetary process; macro policy as shell game; Ricardian equivalence; action level vs. system level; private ordering; public ordering

JEL Classification: D72, D78, E62, H61, P16

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Richard E., James M. Buchanan and the Corrupting Quality of Public Indebtedness (December 14, 2018). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 18-42. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3301329 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3301329

Richard E. Wagner (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
334 Enterprise Hall
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
(703) 993-1132 (Phone)

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