Gordon Tullock in the National Review

Josh Wright —  18 September 2006

John Miller has a fantastic essay on my colleague Gordon Tullock and his work in law and economics in the September 25 National Review. The following excerpt appears on the GMU Law website (and I believe subscribers can access the full article at the National Review):

“Tullock is the author of one of the most groundbreaking economics papers ever published: ‘The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies, and Theft.’ It explained that when individuals or groups try to gain economic advantages through the manipulation of government policy — lobbying to build trade barriers or legal monopolies, for instance — the costs of their activities are both high and hidden. They not only discourage competition, but also drive talented people into non-productive activities, as skilled managers devote themselves to winning new favors from government or defending the ones they already have. Today, this behavior is called ‘rent-seeking,’ and it is of course deeply embedded in Washington’s political culture of earmarks and subsidies. In his paper, Tullock mischievously likened the whole enterprise to theft. ‘I try to raise eyebrows in everything I write,’ he says.”

“Tullock never married and he has no kids, so what he will leave behind is his work. There’s an awful lot of it, and it covers a vast range of subjects: income redistribution, political revolutions, and even biology (he once wrote a paper on a bird called the coal tit). The Liberty Fund recently put out The Selected Works of Gordon Tullock, a ten-volume set that spans more than 4,000 pages. ‘I can’t complain about my career being blighted,’ he says. ‘I’ve done very well.’ He’s also done a great deal of good, for which the world should be grateful, regardless of what they say in Stockholm.”