Is Limited Government Possible?

Hey, political theory geeks! This month’s Cato Unbound should be pretty sweet. Here’s the editorial summary of Anthony de Jasay‘s lead essay, “Government, Bound or Unbound?“:

Reprising the topic of his 1989 essay, “Is Limited Government Possible?” political theorist Anthony de Jasay continues to express limited skepticism. According to de Jasay, the incentive of political actors is to gain power by putting together winning coalitions, and to stay in power by rewarding their supporters at the expense of their opponents. If constitutional limits stand in their way, they will eventually be reinterpreted, undermined, or otherwise worked around. Governments are more delayed than limited by constitutional rules, like a lady with the key to her own chastity belt. If governments are effectively limited, de Jasay argues, then it is by means of the structure of campaign finance, the practical limits on tax rates, and public panic at the prospect of economic ruin. De Jasay admits conventional cultural and moral norms may limit government, but doubts these are strong enough to fully check the interests that drive politics.

It’s long, but very worthwhile. Stay tuned for University of Arizona political philosopher Gerald Gaus, author of On Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Michael Munger, chair of the Duke University political science department; and Randy Barnett, professor of law at Georgetown University and author of Restoring the Lost Constitution.

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