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The Political Economy of Economic Freedom

Sir Alan Peacock, Economic Consultant to The David Hume Institute, Edinburgh, UK
The Political Economy of Economic Freedom brings together a timely selection of Sir Alan Peacock’s views on economic freedom, its philosophy, its influence on the critique of economic policy and the problems encountered in expanding it.
Extent: 352 pp
Hardback Price: $160.00 Web: $144.00
Publication Date: 1997
ISBN: 978 1 85898 535 0
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The Political Economy of Economic Freedom brings together a timely selection of Sir Alan Peacock’s views on economic freedom, its philosophy, its influence on the critique of economic policy and the problems encountered in expanding it.

The book represents a diversity of experience ranging from academic speculation to close involvement with policy issues. An opening chapter introduces the essays and discusses the promotion of economic freedom. The book is then divided into three parts and each essay is introduced with a discussions of its intellectual origins. Part I considers how far the pursuit of individual freedom conditions government intervention in the pursuit of economic growth, the right to freedom of expression, conduct in the market place and the distribution of income, affording the author an opportunity to analyse the views both of his contemporaries and such major figures as Hume and Keynes. In Part II the author uses his specialist knowledge of public choice and public finance to explore ‘government failure’ in attempts to impose progressive taxation, to influence industry through subsidy and regulation and to control bureaucracy. In the final part, the author draws on his personal experience to demonstrate the problems encountered by economic advisers in devising reforms in the tax system, the devolution of government, social security and broadcasting.

This volume will be welcomed by business and government, as well as by professional economists and social scientists familiar with Sir Alan’s commitment to economic analysis as the servant of policy debate rather than merely a form of intellectual gymnastics.
‘The captivating nature of these contributions to political economy – which were all published between 1976 and 1996, but mostly in the last decade – is a clear reflection of Sir Alan’s authoritative standing both as an academic economist and a government economic advisor. . . . the book addresses a wide range of philosophical questions and practical policy issues, thus offering plenty of stimulating material for both the theoretical and applied economist, as well as other social scientists.’
– M. Teresa Lunati, The Economic Journal

‘. . . many of the papers are worth reading, and each paper has a useful introduction explaining the context in which it was written. The best part of the book is the selection of papers in the last part, especially his [Alan Peacock’s] discussions of the regulation of broadcasting. There is much for an economist to learn from these papers: the role economists can play in public policy debates, the inner workings of committees, the role of information control in policy decisions.’
– William Sjostrom, Kyklos
Contents: Introduction 1. The Promotion of Economic Freedom Part I: Political Economy 2. Economic Freedom 3. Ethics, Economics and the Liberal Order 4. The Value of Freedom of Expression 5. Liberalism and Economic Growth 6. Welfare Philosophies and Welfare Finance 7. Foreword to David Hume’s Political Discourses 8. Keynes and the Role of the State 9. The LSE and Post-war Economic Policy Part II: Analysis 10. The Justification for Progressive Taxation 11. The Rise and Fall of the Laffer Curve 12. The Disaffection of the Taxpayer 13. Economic Analysis of Problems of Government Selective Aid with Martin Ricketts 14. Bargaining and the Regulatory System with Martin Ricketts 15. Public X-inefficiency: Informational and Institutional Constraints 16. Government Debt and Growth in Public Spending with Ilde Rizzo Part III: Policy and Reform 17. Fiscal Theory and the ‘Market’ for Tax Reform 18. Designing Tax Reform: Identifying the Problems 19. The Political Economy of Devolution: The British Case 20. The ‘Politics’ of Investigating Broadcasting Finance 21. The Political Economy of Public Service Broadcasting 22. The Credibility of Economic Advice to Government 23. The Utility-maximizing Government Economic Adviser: A Comment Index