Samaritan's Dilemmas, Wealth Redistribution, and Polycentricity

February 19, 2016

It is nearly universally presumed that redistribution can be carried out effectively only at the national or even global level, because local redistribution will be negated through personal mobility: recipients will move to high-paying jurisdictions while taxpayers will move away from those jurisdictions. To avoid this situation requires redistribution to be concentrated at national and not at local levels. In contrast to this standard line of argument, we explain how it is that redistribution is more effectively pursued at local than at national levels. To explain this reversal from standard analytical implications, we integrate three concepts that are not present in the standard analysis. These concepts are the Samaritan’s dilemma, co-production, and polycentricity. It is interaction among these three concepts that reverses the implications of the standard analysis of redistribution.

From Mixed Economy to Entangled Political Economy

July, 2015

This paper compares and contrasts two visions of political economy. These visions aren’t antagonistic, just different. The mixed economy vision associated with Ludwig von Mises and Sanford Ikeda treats politics as intervening into markets. The entangled political economy vision treats politics and markets as overlapping subsystems within a society. Entangled political economy thus descends from a theory of society and social processes. Similarly to quantum entanglement where the state of a particle cannot be described independently of that of other particles, entanglement in political economy means that rational market action cannot be defined independently of rational political action. The focal point of entangled political economy, moreover, is on individual actors and their search for gain within different action environments. Interaction among individuals across those environments generates societal tectonics, thereby adding insights from Vilfredo Pareto about social theory to those of Mises and Ikeda about interventionism.

From Mixed Economy to Entangled Political Economy:

January 22, 2015

This paper combines insights from Ludwig von Mises about the mixed economy and Vilfredo Pareto about non-logical action within a social system to explore some intertemporal dynamics of an entangled system of political economy. Mises explained the inherent instability of the mixed economy. Pareto would agree from the perspective of logical action, but paid particular attention to the ineradicable presence of non-logical action in social systems. Both types of action were rational in Pareto’s scheme of thought, but they reflected different causal patterns. Both types of action originate in sentiment. For logical action, sentiment is filtered by logic. For non-logical action it is filtered by rationalization. Entrepreneurship is present in both cases, but operates to different effect between the cases. Interaction between the two types of action generates tectonic environments that are the societal equivalents of earthquakes of varying magnitude. There is, moreover, good reason to think that the intensity of the tectonics varies directly with the relative size of political entrepreneurship within the totality of human action within society.