Crisis in Public Sector by Union Radical Political Economics

By Union Radical Political Economics

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19 The Leviathan At the extreme end of the spectrum is the government that acts purely in its own interest relatively unconstrained by the voters. It is usually thought to be interested in maximizing its own size, constrained only by its ability to extract tax revenues from the taxpayers. To the extent that this behavior is true, it will have consequences for the assignment of powers in the sense that greater decentralization may reduce the ability of governments to increase their size wastefully.

This is the problem of time inconsistency that will be referred to from time to time in this study. 42 Designing Fiscal Constitutions Some of the consequences of tax externalities can, in principle, be addressed by cooperation among the states. Tax bases and tax rates could be harmonized by agreement, or by codes of conduct to preclude beggarthy-neighbor policies. But binding cooperative agreements are difficult to achieve and are rarely effective in practice. They require not only unanimous agreement but also a dispute settlement mechanism that binds future legislative decisions, something that seems to be difficult to achieve in a decentralized setting.

At the same time, from the perspective of recommending institutional arrangements for a federation, it does not really matter. Virtually all the normative analysis that we employ works equally well if the normative basis for the preferences in question is altruism rather than some social welfare function reflecting ethical preferences. The Selfish Voter If voters are purely selfish, a political system that obeys voters’ preferences will redistribute toward the decisive voters, such as the median voter.

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