Public Choice: Why Your High School Civics Teacher was Wrong

Day 2
Session 3
3:20 PM

In most civics classes, Congress is typically presented as a place where reasoned debate happens among cool, level-headed individuals who bring a variety of perspectives to the table with the resulting decisions presumed to be wise, coherent, and well-reasoned. Given this, what we see in the real world should seem odd. Even more striking: we never really hear about individual politicians having a hard time balancing their own personal budgets and yet somehow when these people get together in the halls of Congress, balancing a budget seemingly becomes impossible. Public Choice theory seeks to explain all of this and more by analyzing the behaviors of individual politicians and the rules within which they operate. In this lecture, Dave Hebert will explain the assumptions of public choice theory, some of the recent developments of public choice theory, and how we can use this framework to understand issues that confront our society. We'll talk about budgetary difficulties, why Congress typically has such a low approval rating, and why a return to a more limited government might just lead to a more effective government.

Course Year:



David Hebert

Assistant Professor of Economics & Director of the Center for Markets, Ethics, and Entrepreneurship
Aquinas College