An Economic Analysis of Democracy

By Randall G. Holcombe | Go to book overview

10 / The Growth of Government

The United States was founded as a nation in which its citizens could escape the tyranny of government. The world political climate at that time was more oriented toward laissez-faire than at any time in history, but still the basic premise of government was that its citizens are the subjects of government. Britain, the most laissez-faire nation of the time, was a kingdom, and it would not be difficult to speculate that rights granted by such a government to its citizens could some day be taken back. The premise of American government was entirely different. The government did not grant rights to its citizens; rather, its citizens had rights that the government was legally prohibited from violating. The government was created as a vehicle for protecting the inalienable rights of its citizens. If ever there was a chance for the government to be contained, this would have seemed to be it.

The government of the United States has changed immensely in the intervening centuries; indeed, all Western governments have changed. They have become larger, both in the scope of their activities and in their economic size relative to the private sector.1 The growth was gradual at first and has accelerated in recent decades. This chapter will consider that growth within the context of the theory set forth in the book.


Republics and Democracies

The material in this book has been about democratic government, so it is worthwhile to reflect on the fact that the gov

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An Economic Analysis of Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Origins of Democracy 15
  • 3 - The Median Voter 38
  • 4 - Coalitions and Stability In Multidimensional Issues 67
  • 5 - Taxes and Redistribution 95
  • 6 - Distributive Government 118
  • 7 - Interest Groups And Distributional Activity 143
  • 8 - The Government Budget Constraint 162
  • 9 - Cycles, Stability, And Economic Efficiency 186
  • 10 - The Growth of Government 208
  • Notes Bibliography Index 231
  • Notes 233
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 267
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