James M. Buchanan has died. Here is an appreciation -- which notes and rues the fact that many young economists have never heard of him. Robert Higgs' appreciation is here.
In pointing us to politics without romance, Buchanan made us wiser. How often do we hear casual conversation that alludes to or includes "the government"? But who would that be? It would be people, all of whom are just human and face the challenges and constraints that we all do. This beats the view that they are some special breed of "public servants". Recognizing that, we have to ask whether they can possibly be up to the task of wisely managing all that we defer to "the government"?
Politicization is always a challenge. So it is interesting that Steve Hayward notes (in today's WSJ) that "The EPA is Politicized -- So Make it Official ... The federal regulatory agency, like many others, would be better run by a bipartisan commission." Steve argues for more politicization in this case. Read it to see his point. Steve would probably agree that his insight owes something to the work of James Buchanan.