Buchanan’s work on the subject of what governments should do and his insistence on Knut Wicksell’s ideal that taxation and public expenditure be integrated topics have contributed significantly to the current thinking of most economists on the topic. Geoffrey Brennan summarizes Buchanan’s central themes in this way, “There are two messages that emerge from this work: one is that a proper sense of the extent of market failure, rather than its mere presence, is relevant in all cases; the other is that ‘correcting’ for such market failure is often a complex multidimensional business not captured by direct public provision at zero price and not necessarily involving expansion of market output.”
In his foreword, Geoffrey Brennan states, “The papers in this volume represent a coherent set of pieces focused on aspects of public-expenditure theory and constitute all of Buchanan’s papers in this area.”
James M. Buchanan
In 1986 James M. Buchanan (1919-2012) was awarded the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Universally respected as one of the founders of the “public choice” school of economics, he is the author of numerous books and hundreds of articles in the areas of public finance, public choice, constitutional economics and economic philosophy. He is best known for such works as The Calculus of Consent, The Limits of Liberty, The Power to Tax, and The Reason of Rules. Buchanan has devoted himself to the study of the contractual and constitutional basis for the theory of economic and political decision making.
See also at Econlib: the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics entry on Buchanan