Imagine you live in a place like Louisiana where *some say* that we have "too many elections" (I would dispute that but it's not important right now.) And say you just couldn't bring yourself to get too involved in the last three heated contests for Clerk Of Court between another random Landrieu and whoever the latest creature they've grown in a jar over at Adams and Reese. Well, too bad, you have forfeited theWASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday upheld Ohio’s aggressive efforts to purge its voting rolls.The court ruled that a state may kick people off the rolls if they skip a few elections and fail to respond to a notice from state election officials. The vote was 5 to 4, with the more conservative justices in the majority.
Ok it's not quite that bad in our state yet. But Cameron Henry has been kind of busy this year crashing the budget. Give him time to get back around to this part of the agenda.
Anyway, if you haven't come across Nancy MacLean's book about James Buchanan yet, I think this would be a good time to pick it up. It's apparently struck a nerve since she's been making the rounds again lately answering criticism. Here she is on a recent Dig podcast talking about all of that. But that's not why I'm bringing up the book here.
I have an economics degree from LSU. The reason for this is I am a glutton for self abuse. The other reason for this is because I accumulated a requisite number of credit hours listening to professors drone on about the virtues of Buchanan's "Virginia School" of Public Choice Theory. It was so central to the econ program at our state's flagship university that it is impossible for a non-libertarian person to come through it without a keen and permanent sense of impending doom. So, you know, that explains me a little bit.
So it was a little bit surprising to me when I read MacClean's book to see that this demon who haunted my undergrad years was an obscure figure to her. Maybe he is unfamiliar to you as well. In which case, you really should read her book. Or at least take a look through the reviews.
Buchanan was strongly influenced by both the neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, and the property supremacism of John C Calhoun, who argued in the first half of the 19th century that freedom consists of the absolute right to use your property (including your slaves) however you may wish; any institution that impinges on this right is an agent of oppression, exploiting men of property on behalf of the undeserving masses.They don't want you to vote. It's not good for their "freedom."
James Buchanan brought these influences together to create what he called public choice theory. He argued that a society could not be considered free unless every citizen has the right to veto its decisions. What he meant by this was that no one should be taxed against their will. But the rich were being exploited by people who use their votes to demand money that others have earned, through involuntary taxes to support public spending and welfare. Allowing workers to form trade unions and imposing graduated income taxes were forms of “differential or discriminatory legislation” against the owners of capital.
Any clash between “freedom” (allowing the rich to do as they wish) and democracy should be resolved in favour of freedom. In his book The Limits of Liberty, he noted that “despotism may be the only organisational alternative to the political structure that we observe.” Despotism in defence of freedom.
His prescription was a “constitutional revolution”: creating irrevocable restraints to limit democratic choice. Sponsored throughout his working life by wealthy foundations, billionaires and corporations, he developed a theoretical account of what this constitutional revolution would look like, and a strategy for implementing it.