The Rules of Reason: COVID-19, Buchanan, and Hayek

Cosmos + Taxis: Studies in Emergent Order and Organization, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2021 Last revised: 6 Dec 2021

See all articles by Rosolino Candela

Rosolino Candela

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Peter Jacobsen

Ottawa University; Ottawa University - Gwartney Institute at Ottawa University

Date Written: March 11, 2021

Abstract

This paper presents a reassessment of the policy measures taken to combat the effects of COVID-19. It addresses the following question: does the threat of pandemic justify the sacrifice of legal and political principles for the sake of expediency? We do so by filtering the unintended consequences of price controls through the lens of constitutional political economy as understood by James Buchanan and F.A. Hayek. We argue that constitutional rules provide rules for reason. The reason for constitutional rules is not only provide constraints on arbitrary discretion, but also to provide the epistemic preconditions that harness and guide the creative powers of individuals required for recovery from pandemic. We illustrate this point by reframing price controls as a violation of the U.S. Constitution, particularly the First Amendment. Thus, if prices are understood to be a form of communication across individuals, then upholding constitutional principles should not be abandoned but reinforced during times of crises.

Keywords: COVID-19; F.A. Hayek; James M. Buchanan; Constitutional Political Economy

JEL Classification: B31; B53; H11; H12

Suggested Citation

Candela, Rosolino and Jacobsen, Peter, The Rules of Reason: COVID-19, Buchanan, and Hayek (March 11, 2021). Cosmos + Taxis: Studies in Emergent Order and Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3773112 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3773112

Rosolino Candela (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Peter Jacobsen

Ottawa University ( email )

1001 S Cedar St
Ottawa, KS 66067
United States

Ottawa University - Gwartney Institute at Ottawa University ( email )

Ottawa, KS 66067
United States

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