Greed, Chaos, and Governance: Using Public Choice to Improve Public Law

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9780300066777: Greed, Chaos, and Governance: Using Public Choice to Improve Public Law
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Public choice theory should be taken seriously - but not too seriously. In this thought-provoking book, Jerry Mashaw stakes out a middle ground between those who champion public choice theory (the application of the conventional methodology of economics to political science matters, also known as rational choice theory) and those who disparage it. He argues that in many cases public choice theory's reach has exceeded its grasp. In others, public choice insights have not been pursued far enough by those who are concerned with the operation and improvement of legal institutions.

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Greed, Chaos and Governance is a curious book in light of the present political climate. All over the country, politicians and private citizens alike are clamoring for an end to big government; meanwhile, author Jerry L. Mashaw, a professor of law at Yale University, advocates turning even more of the business of governing over to federal agencies. To make his point, Mashaw uses the economic field called public choice theory to explicate why only the federal bureaucracy is in a position to resist the siren call of special interests. Basically, public choice theory posits that all people, including elected officials, are motivated by selfish interests, and that only by enforcing the checks and balances inherent in our current form of government can a nation hope to counteract the worst of its citizens' impulses. Mashaw goes one step further, claiming that even the individuals in the three branches of government are subject to undue influence from special interests.

Mashaw's solution is to give the people who staff federal agencies real power to make political decisions. To those who argue that Congress already gives too much power to these bureaucracies, he answers that most agencies are controlled by the White House--the one branch of government most accountable to the public. Whether or not you agree with Mashaw's conclusions, his arguments are well worth reading and considering.

About the Author:

Jerry L. Mashaw is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He is the author of Due Process in the Administrative State and Bureaucratic Justice: Managing Social Security Disability Claims, both published by Yale University Press.

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9780300078701: Greed, Chaos, and Governance: Using Public Choice to Improve Public Law

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ISBN 10:  0300078706 ISBN 13:  9780300078701
Publisher: Yale University Press, 1999
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