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Public Debt as a Form of Public Finance: Overcoming a Category Mistake and its Vices

Public Debt as a Form of Public Finance: Overcoming a Category Mistake and its Vices

by Richard E. Wagner


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Economists commit a category mistake when they treat democratic governments as indebted. Monarchs can be indebted, as can individuals. In contrast, democracies can't truly be indebted. They are financial intermediaries that form a bridge between what are often willing borrowers and forced lenders. The language of public debt is an ideological language that promotes politically expressed desires and is not a scientific language that clarifies the practice of public finance. Economists have gone astray by assuming that a government is just another person whose impulses toward prudent action will restrict recourse to public debt and induce rational political action.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781108735896
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 05/31/2019
Series: Elements in Austrian Economics
Pages: 75
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.15(d)

Table of Contents

1. Monarchies, democracies, and indebtedness; 2. Political presuppositions and the theory of public finance; 3. Taxes as prices – a useful but corruptible simile; 4. From public pricing to fiscal policy – the Keynesian detour; 5. Ecologies, not machines – analytical failures of Macro theories; 6. Calculation and coordination within a political economy; 7. Public debt, systemic lying, and the corruption of contract; 8. From liberal to feudal democracy – Henry Maine reversed; 9. Liberalism and Collectivism – an easily toxic mix.

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