Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ironically, he died on election day

Gordon Tullock died yesterday. He was the co-author of the Calculus of Consent, but not a co-winner with James Buchanan of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics. That may have been because of Tullock's prickly personality, and that he was not, technically, an economist, but a lawyer who'd begun his career as a State Dept. diplomat. Something he also wrote about in a very entertaining way;

Like most people, I have been reading about the abysmal historic ignorance of the products of our educational system. Indeed, I have a good example. I wanted to send a letter to Lord Bauer and told my secretary she could send it to the House of Lords. She asked for its address, and somewhat surprised, I said “London” would do. She wanted a Zip and a little further conversation revealed that she had never heard of the institution. Still, the fact that newspapers carry stories in which they report ignorant answers to historical questions under the apparent impression that most, or at least many, of their readers will know the correct answer is good evidence that the history of our country is not totally a closed book to many citizens.
Which has implications for politics that Tullock was not shy about promoting;
“People think they should vote because they’ve been told that in school, and there’s a large volume of propaganda at any point in time. Many people are under great delusions as to the importance of their vote. They think their vote makes a lot of difference, but as a matter of fact it doesn’t.”

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