The Political Economy of Rule Evasion and Policy Reform

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The Political Economy of Rule Evasion and Policy Reform develops the logic underlying the connections between breaking the rules and making the rules. Approaching policy issues from the point of view of rule circumvention provides a perspective that illuminates a wide variety of phenomena:
• implicit tolerance of extensive illegal behaviour, treadmills of reform, delays of major policy changes
• the complexity of rules
• potential for perverse outcomes from policy reforms
• corruption of enforcers
• trade-offs between a rule-based and a discretionary policy.
This ground-breaking new book is written in a clear readable style and is replete with a wide variety of examples, including case studies on zero tolerance policies, the demise of the Soviet Union, and the ongoing transformation of firearm regulations in Britain and the US.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jim Leitzel is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Rules and their circumvention 8
An old platitude 8
On rules 9
A perfect rule 10
Evasion and avoidance 13
Bright lines 14
Good and bad rules 16
A better rule? 18
Why are rules changed? 20
Information and rule circumvention 22
An example: avoidance and evasion in a price-controlled market 23
2 Evasion 28
Tolerating evasion 28
Subsidizing compliance 30
In praise of evasion 31
Cascades of disobedience 33
Evasion and policy reform 35
Marginal policy changes 35
Reluctance to making minor policy changes 36
Major policy reform 39
The political economy of evasion and reform 40
Prohibition, taxation, and evasion 44
Replacing a prohibition with a tax 45
Small-scale evasion and major policy shifts 47
Delayed reform 48
Rules v. discretion 50
3 Zero tolerance 53
Characterizing zero tolerance 53
Benefits of zero tolerance 55
Drawbacks to zero tolerance 57
Harm reduction 62
4 Avoidance, futility, and reform 65
The balloon effect 65
Futility and perversity 65
Anti-futility 67
The effects of policy over time 70
The treadmill of reform 71
Rule complexity 73
Treadmills, radical reform, and collapse 75
Avoidance and reform: the US Savings & Loan crisis 75
5 Preventive and punitive controls 80
Futility and ex ante controls 82
Means, ends, and liberty 83
Race and policing 84
6 Corruption 90
Defining corruption 90
Measuring corruption 92
Principals-agents-clients 93
When is corruption likely? 94
In praise of corruption 94
Costs of corruption 98
Cascading 99
Corruption and growth 100
Corruption and organization 101
Comparative dynamics of evasion and corruption 103
Corruption in business 104
Rule complexity 106
Combating corruption 107
US campaign finance reform 110
7 Evasion and the demise of the Soviet Union 115
The sorcerer's apprentice 116
Rule evasion within the planning system 117
Perestroika-era reforms 119
Positive feedback 120
Was it inevitable? 121
A law of motion of socialism 123
China and the law of motion of socialism 124
Post-Soviet corruption and organized crime 127
Back in the USSR 128
Glasnost', perestroika and economic crime 129
Costs and benefits of corruption and organized crime 131
What should be done? 134
8 Gun control 136
Evasion and the choice of preventive v. punitive controls 136
Varieties of anti-control arguments 138
Balloon effects: weapon substitution 138
Substituting to more socially costly firearms 140
Evasion and the firearm futility syllogism 141
Good guys and bad guys 142
Jeopardy: Hitler favored gun control 143
The Second Amendment 145
A summing up 146
Gun prevalence and evasion 146
Responding to perceived increases in firearm crimes 148
Weakening the link between gun prevalence and availability to high-risk users 149
Weapons of mass destruction 152
An aside on the Cold War 152
Terrorists 154
Conclusions 156
Notes 159
Bibliography 181
Index 196
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