James Buchanan

The last column described the philosophy of economist James Buchanan as it applied to the United States. What is its relevance to New Zealand?

When I looked at James Buchanan’s theory of public choice, I was struck by how it reflected an American institutional setting; Our political system is different. Even so, our colonial mentality meant his economics and social philosophy was influential on ‘Rogernomics/Ruthanasia’ in the 1980s and 1990s generating patterns of thinking which persist to this day.

A new biography of James Buchanan, a founder of economist’s public choice theory, suggests he was not only anti-democratic but was working with others to revoke democracy in America.

The work of economist and social philosopher James Buchanan (1919-2013) came to prominence in the mid-1980s when he was awarded the Economics Prize in honour of Alfred Nobel and when his thinking was impacting on Rogernomics (more of that next week).