Buchanan, James McGill, Jr.

Buchanan, James McGill, Jr., 1919–2012, American economist, b. Murfreesboro, Tenn., Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago, 1948. After teaching at the universities of Tennessee, Florida State, Virginia, and California, he was a professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1969–83) and George Mason Univ. (1983–2012). He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his “public choice” theory that analyzes economic and political decision making. Arguing that public policy is often motivated by the self-interest of legislators and civil functionaries, leading to larger deficits and increased debt, regulation, and government size, he advocated reducing all of these and privatizing many government programs, such as Social Security. Since the 1960s his theories have influenced many conservatives as well as the Reagan administration and Chile's Pinochet government. Buchanan was the author of more than 30 books, including The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (with G. Tullock, 1962) and The Limits of Liberty: Between Anarchy and Leviathan (1975).

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