10. The state is useless at doing anything. We don’t, however, question its ability to define property and enforce contracts effectively.
as well as this:
This got me thinking: public choice theory potentially blows a massive hole in libertarianism, despite being one of the key components in their arsenal.
The history of capitalism offers a natural experiment in how public choice considerations affect the provision of private property and contracts. To put it simply: the private property has been distributed among a select few who have used it to perpetuate wealth inequalities. Contracts have become infallible to the point where ancient laws/traditions such as laws against usury and debt jubilees are currently unthinkable, politically speaking. Private owners of capital used the state to force peasants – who, in the 14th century, worked about a quarter of hours that the average person does now – to work 12 hour days in factories. Landlords have blocked any attempt to tax away their unearned rents.
In fact, the extent of the collusion between the state and capitalist/rentier class in the provision of private property makes overcharging pharmaceutical companies and mortgage lending GSEs look like childsplay in comparison.
Of course, you can argue against public choice theory on the grounds that politicians aren’t rational self-maximising robots, and do have some sense of public duty. You could also argue from a practical perspective – we need to put institutions in place to combat corruption. But this would be opening the door to all sorts of statist policies.